India: Is the M-L Movement on the Wane?

by Debabrata Panda

Frontier | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

Those who uphold the peasant struggle of Naxalbari, Kharibari and Phansidewa in May, 1967 as the turning point in the communist movement in India are known as Marxist-Leninists (MLs). Fifty years ago the Chinese Communist Party hailed this upsurge in revolutionary struggle as the ‘spring thunder’ over Naxalbari. There the peasant masses did not fight only for the realization of their economic demands like confiscation of jotedars’ lands or cancellation of peasants’ debts. They were engaged in a political struggle for the seizure of power with which their economic struggles were linked. The struggle for seizure of power still continues to develop along a zigzag path through many ups and downs in tribal heartlands of Jharkhand, Bihar, southern part of Odisha, some pockets of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and West Bengal. All the ML–parties and groups of activists who reject the parliamentary Left like CPI and CPI(M) as revisionists and accept Marxisnm-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought as their ideology are labeled by the media as Naxalites. The authorities dub them as Naxals.Read More »

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India: Light of Naxalbari Glowing for 50 Years

by Aloke Mukherjee

Frontier | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

Oft in the stilly night
Ere slumbers chain has bound me
Fond memories bring
The Light of Other days around me
—William Blake

If one goes 50 years back down the memory lane, it will bring before him the days full of dreams, vigour, vitality, as well as resolute tireless activities that the great Naxalbari peasant uprising had drawn the communist workers into. True, Naxalbari was not a magic wand; the international and national situations, particularly that in West Bengal, was already drawing them towards the revolutionary movement. But Naxalbari sent the clarion call—the message to stand up.Read More »

‘Naxalbari 50’: Continuing Revolution: Is the M-L Movement on the Wane?

by Debabrata Panda

Frontier | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

Those who uphold the peasant struggle of Naxalbari, Kharibari and Phansidewa in May, 1967 as the turning point in the communist movement in India are known as Marxist-Leninists (MLs). Fifty years ago the Chinese Communist Party hailed this upsurge in revolutionary struggle as the ‘spring thunder’ over Naxalbari. There the peasant masses did not fight only for the realization of their economic demands like confiscation of jotedars’ lands or cancellation of peasants’ debts. They were engaged in a political struggle for the seizure of power with which their economic struggles were linked. The struggle for seizure of power still continues to develop along a zigzag path through many ups and downs in tribal heartlands of Jharkhand, Bihar, southern part of Odisha, some pockets of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and West Bengal. All the ML–parties and groups of activists who reject the parliamentary Left like CPI and CPI(M) as revisionists and accept Marxisnm-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought as their ideology are labeled by the media as Naxalites. The authorities dub them as Naxals.Read More »

Naxalbari to Nandigram

by Sandip Bandyopadhyay

Frontier  | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

Naxalbari, 25 May, 1967 : Peasants stood against the eviction of a share-cropper and sought to establish their right over their land and produce. Police action followed. At least eleven villagers including five women and two children were shot down. A police officer had been killed by the villagers on the previous day.

Nandigram, 14 March, 2007 : Since January, peasants had been fighting for protecting their farmland from being acquired by the state. Police fired on a peaceful assembly and killed at least fourteen people including two women. The ruling CPI(M) goons who accompanied the force  raped or outraged a number of women. None of the policemen or partymen was reported to be injured.

In terms of casualties and scale of terror unleashed by the state, Nandigram was no less horrible than Naxalbari. In Naxalbari, peasants were instigated by a radical section of the CPI(M) who came to believe that armed struggle was the only means of social change. They incited the peasants to rise in revolt against the exploitative big landowners (jotedars). This was considered the first step.Read More »

A Few Words About Naxalbari

by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Frontier | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

It is hard to think that fifty years have passed since the first confrontation in Naxalbari. I was both too far and too close. One of my cousins, with whom I had gone to school every day as a child, was deeply involved. And one of our batchmates let loose unbelievable mass brutality upon young men lining a street, asking householders to close their windows. Rumours, before cable television (we had a small black and white), before the internet, before satellite telephone. I was tucked away at the University of Iowa, a young Assistant Professor quite set in with the anti-Vietnam War struggle earlier, and with the diasporic support of the Bangladesh upheaval later, but about Naxalbari was caught in helpless hearsay. Hadn’t enough money to go home until 1972, only then to realise the depth and breadth of the wounded polity. But, and I say this with some embarrassment, an old cynical woman now, some of us had romanticised the fact that the first shot was an arrow. My best understanding of the entire movement still comes from Sumanta Banerjee’s In the Woke of Naxalbari. I have learnt some Chinese since then, enough to teach some Mao Zedong with the help of graduate students in Chinese. It seems at this distance that, although Charu Mazumder’s general inspiration from Mao was certainly enormously effective and moving, it was the at least temporary conscientisation of Left intellectuals that seemed most impressive to us. In 1968, when French university students joined hands with the working class, the Naxalbari phenomenon seemed to us, from far away, a greater political achievement.Read More »

Naxalbari: the Turning Point of Indian History

by Jan Myrdal

Frontier | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

For what is called the common people of India life has since the formation of class society been one of blood, sweat and toil. Centuries and millennia of misery for the overwhelming majority. So harsh is the ruling class that many like the debt-ridden farmers of Bihar felt forced to flee into suicide. But despite this despair that is hailed by some intellectuals in the West as the inner wisdom of India, the villages of India have all the time been hotbeds of uprising and struggle. We all know that, we can sit down and make long lists of these popular struggles.Read More »

50 Years of Naxalbari: The ‘Spark’ did not turn into a Prairie Fire

by Timir Basu

Frontier  | Autumn Number | Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 – Oct 21, 2017

It was probably the middle of 1968, the period of the United Front Government in West Bengal. Clashes among partners of the United Front were endemic in the countryside. The Naxalite movement was in the middle of the sky. We, who had bade adieu to university education and came to the villages under the inspiration of the movement of Naxalbari, had to face political hostility at various levels. Slogans such as ‘go to the villages’, ‘get integrated with peasants’ ‘complete the agrarian revolution’, ‘build up revolutionary peasant committees’, attracted many of the younger generation of that period. We also had thought that a comprehensive change was imminent. But as we came to the village we understood that practice on the basis of this theory was not so easy. There is no doubt that there was much thrill in the urban discussions on revolution in the countryside, building up organisations was not that easy because the rural social structure was very much complex.Read More »

Naxalbari Galvanized A Generation Ready To Sacrifice And Dismantle The System: Timir Basu

 by 

Countercurrents.org | September 01, 2017

Red Salutes.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the “Naxalite” revolutionary peasant uprising in northern India, named for the locale in which it first appeared, Naxalbari. What follows is an interview with a prominent Bengali intellectual who recalls his youthful foray into the countryside to organize poor peasants. His unromanticized recollections have a descriptive honesty that takes them far beyond the Indian context; for example, echoes of Turgenev’s Virgin Soil (1877) are inevitable for anyone familiar with that work. It needs be pointed out that the revolutionary upsurge that began in Naxalbari has several times been nearly extinguished, as in the experience of Timir Basu recounted here. But the armed struggle has always flared back to life, and continues today. The vast misery that is the ground of the struggle continues unabated, and selfless revolutionary youth continue to “go to the people.” The political ignorance that Timur Basu and comrades encountered two generations ago has decreased, as proved by the apparently ineradicable persistence of widespread struggle in the face of hideously brutal repression; their efforts were not in vain. —Monthly Review Eds.

Read More »

The Struggle Continues

by Harsh Thakor

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.6, Aug 13 – 19, 2017

Today one must salute the CPI (Maoist) for shimmering its flame in Dandkaranya to create a new model of power of people’s power and sow the seeds of revolution in other regions.

The most significant progress has been made in Dandkaranya, Jharkhand, Orissa where the torch of the CPl (Maoist) is blazing. Its red flame is shimmering like in those parts like never before with alternative people’s structures built in Dandkaranya. The wave has even spread in regions of Kerala and the Maharashtra border revealing a fire that it is inextinguishable. Critiques like Sutnanta Banerjee and K N Ramchan-dran (CPI-ML-Red Star) openly condemn the Maoist party as a terrorist force or consisting of armed squads of roving bands. There is an erroneous tendency that equates the Maoist party line with ‘Che Guevarism or foco-ism’. True at times there are deviations but the party strives to implement Maoist protracted people’s war strategy.Read More »

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Lawrence Lifschultz

Frontier | Vol. 50, No.2, Jul 16 – 22, 2017

On more than one occasion since India’s Emergency began in June, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has commented how, in her view, many people, particularly in the West, “seem to have different standards for India than for other countries.” In late September, however, when Franco’s fascist Government executed two Basque Nationalists and three Marxist-Leninist rebels, India joined in that common standard of international indignation and outrage over the killings. Demonstrations swept Europe and public fury compelled governments to review diplomatic relations with Madrid. Franco stood condemned and isolated.

But hardly two months after “El Caudillo’s” last act of vengeance ended with five riddled bodies lying dead in a Spanish field, Mrs Gandhi’s frequently repeated claim, about the hypocritical standards of international opinion was never more evident than on December 1 when the Indian Government hanged two middle-aged peasants named Bhoomaiah and Kista Gowd. After the executions, New Delhi calmly basked in the double standard Indian officialdom has been so quick to condemn. The world said not a word. In the international press there was not even a negative editorial comment. And no government was reported to have reviewed diplomatic relations.Read More »