[WSF-Discuss] Maoist Rage and Panic at Operation Civil Society(!)?

Sukla Sen sukla.sen at gmail.com
Fri Apr 30 21:50:48 CDT 2010

[It is pretty much interesting how of all persons, Digvijay Singh, a
high-level Congress functionary, has been packaged and presented as a public
face of the much despised "liberal-left" to launch a tirade against the
"Operation Civil Society"(!). Clearly implying that the civil society is as
much engaged in anti-Maoist Operation as the State is, even if "by other
means", and thereby serving the interests of "corporate capital". (Obviously
the only the Maoists have the divinely ordained monopoly right to oppose
corporate capital, everybody else claiming such a mantle is a pretender or
This is of a piece with the recent vituperative diatribes of Gautam Navlakha
and Sumanta Banerjee against the proposed Peace March in Chhattisgarh to be
undertaken by well-known peace and democratic rights activists.

The obvious Maoist dilemma is that on the one hand, given the heat, it has t
to sue for peace, and for that they need the services of the "civil society"
- "the useful idiots"; on the other, it finds the ideology of "peace", and
its proponents, even more subversive and dangerous than the Operation Green
Hunt itself undertaken by a repressive State.

The State and the Maoists both hate "peace" and peace-activists.

It is in this specific context the following excerpt from the Economic and
Political Weekly, April 24 2010 , lead editorial becomes highly relevant.

The CPI (Maoist) claims that it has been forced to take up the gun because
over the past four decades central and state governments have violently
suppressed the Naxalite movement whenever it has been able to organise the
poor. Suppression by the State is a fact but this is an erroneous
explanation, for the gun is central to the Maoist politics of waging an
armed struggle to overthrow the State. The constant use of violence to
protect and expand influence has inevitably begun to define of the character
of the party. The result is that the CPI (Maoist) now has more of a
militarised identity than a political one. Naturally, the violence of the
Maoists increasingly mimics the violence of the State. Even if there can be
no symmetry between the two, the consequences of the CPI (Maoist)’s
militarised form of functioning are many. It is horrifying that the CPI
(Maoist) now has little qualms in even justifying murderous retribution in
its fight against the State (see unedited interview of Azad, CPI (Maoist)
spokesperson, with The Hindu). This is unacceptable coming from a political
formation that claims to want to build a new and just society.
Ultimately, what is at test in the conflict is not the politics and violence
of the CPI (Maoist) but the very institution of Indian democracy. For
wherever the CPI (Maoist) has built up some influence it has done so because
the fault lines in Indian democracy have made people in some of the most
deprived regions of the country deeply resentful of the State. It is the
organs of the State that are now in the dock for their cumulative failure to
respect and guarantee the rights of all Indians. The Indian state is so
enamoured of its (perceived) status as an economic and political power on
the international stage that it does not see what is happening on its
periphery. The adivasi anger is only one of many, albeit small, fires
burning in the country. (It is somewhat strange that even as Hindutva
continues bit by bit to undo the basic tenets of the Constitution, it is the
CPI (Maoist) which is seen as posing the “greatest ever internal security
challenge” to the State.)

(The complete text is available at <

One may also like to look up 'Towards A New World: Via Maoist Insurgency?'
at <


<http://sanhati.com/articles/general-articles/2303/> Whither

*April 28, 2010*

By Saroj Giri (*Guest Contributor, Sanhati*)


Congress heavy-weight Digvijay Singh’s attack on the pro-corporate and
hawkish Home Minister Chidambaram’s approach to the ‘Maoist problem’ seems
to strengthen civil society initiatives calling for talks and dialogue.
However in declaring that the Maoists are not really against corporate
interests and are integrated in business as usual at the local level, Singh
revealed attempts at a liberal-left appropriation of Maoists, in order to
settle scores with the Chidambaram faction. If Operation Civil Society is
the name for such an appropriation, then this might prove as dangerous for
Maoists as Operation Green Hunt. This means that unless they are able to
advance the (class) struggle into new areas and new classes, it might be
difficult for their ‘correct line’ to stop them from going the way of the
Nepali Maoists. Physical liquidation of the Andhra model might be replaced
by democratic liquidation.


*“The sheen of Maoist political ideology seems to be wearing off… do we have
an instance where Maoists have stopped mining operations in affected areas
or have taken up the cause of the tribals for higher wages or better living
and working conditions for them? If they have done so sometimes, the issue
has been resolved amicably after some deal was struck.”*
– Digvijay Singh criticizing Chidambaram’s hawkish approach to Maoists.

“*They are no enemies… We must talk to our Naxal (Maoist) friends*”
– Congress leader Keshava Rao in the Rajya Sabha.

The recent guerrilla action killing 76 CRPF jawans seems to show that the
Maoists are not only here to stay but can also hit back and unnerve the
state machinery. Its fall-out seems even graver now that dissensions within
the Congress on the Maoist question are out in the open. A Congress
heavy-weight like Digvijay Singh publicly taking on another heavy-weight the
Home Minister, perhaps with the tacit consent of Sonia and Rahul Gandh, is
not a trivial matter. If they want, Maoists thus have good reasons now to
gleefully applaud themselves for inciting ‘contradictions within the ruling
classes’. But is there need for a serious concern here?

Indeed the Maoists today seem to stand on the cusp of a major transformation
in terms of their strengths and capacities, as they have over the past two
years catapulted onto the national scene like never before. So far they had
only a more spectacular presence, portrayed as engaging in dramatic acts of
kidnapping, blocking the Rajdhani Express or carrying out armed actions,
jailbreaks and so on. Similarly, the Prime Minister portrayed the Maoists in
dramatic, spectacular, almost hysterical, terms as the largest internal
security threat in the country.

However, with Digvijay Singh’s recent article, ‘Re-think counter-Maoist
strategy’, attacking Chidambaram and his pro-corporate ‘law and order’
approach, there are signs that a more cool-headed and concrete appraisal of
the Maoist phenomenon is taking place in the ruling circles. That is, it
will be terribly mistaken to regard this as just a Singh versus Chidambaram
spat – for sure, that is all that might be visible to those like us outside
the charmed circles of power, but there are indications that much is

What is emerging is such a ‘realist’ thinking: now that the Maoists do not
seem to be fizzling out anytime soon, nor getting decimated by Operation
Green Hunt or military actions, they might be as well be engaged with, if
not accepted, as a stakeholder of power, at least as a structure of command,
control and power which the dominant ruling classes must reckon with. Such a
‘sane’ appraisal of the Maoist presence seems clear from Singh’s piece.
Further, Congress leader K Keshava Rao announces in the Rajya Sabha,
post-CRPF massacre, that Naxals are no enemies and we must talk to “our
Naxal friends”. What is needed is a ‘political process’: thus former Chief
Minister of Chattisgarh Ajit Jogi points out in support of Singh that “there
are three aspects to the Maoist problem: the socio-economic, the law and
order side and the political process”. It is important to note that
‘political process’ is the new addition to this discourse.

This is already in addition to Mani Shankar Aiyar’s extremely vocal
statements against the hawkish approach and ‘1000 per cent’ support to
Singh’s article. Further, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi seem to be tacitly
even if ambiguously supporting these voices. The two Gandhis have either
avoided saying anything much on the Maoists or have pointed out lack of
development and just government policies as the real problem – what also
seems in line with the Congress’s aam admi approach.

With this soft stance towards Maoists emerging from within the ruling party,
the possibility of talks increases. But what can also be expected is the
machinations and maneuvers of all kinds of vested interests taking a
progressive, liberal-left stance in favour of talks and dialogue with the
government. To start with, one must notice that Singh’s appraisal of the
Maoists is not just the vintage socio-economic approach pitted against the
law and order approach attributed to Chidambaram. Crucially, Singh claims
that the Maoists are not really against corporate interests and it is in
portraying such a less-than-revolutionary face of the Maoists that he is
able to challenge the need and rationale of Operation Green Hunt against
them and argue for talks instead.

The aam admi faction seems to portray, fashion, appropriate Maoists in ways
that allow them to take on the hawkish faction – a mere ruling class game,
at one level. But is there a tacit suggestion here that talks can
materialise under pain of, one way or the other, rendering Maoists
less-than-revolutionary? If the Maoists are really serious about talks
should they then strike a tacit deal, ‘a gentleman’s agreement’ with the
pro-talk, aam admi faction within the Congress? Flipping the question
around, is this faction piggy-riding on the Maoists to settle their scores
with the hawkish faction? In any case, at a slight stretch, it seems not
utterly futile to ask: is Operation Civil Society silently at work scripting
what could be a ‘democratic liquidation’ of the Maoists? It is an ungrateful
question but also an ungrateful task, my task here, exploring it.

*The political terrain*

Marking the present politico-ideological terrain is of course the fact that
Singh’s views echo Congress’s, as in Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s ‘progressive’
aam admi agenda of reaching out to the poor. Also Singh’s opposition to
Chidambaram’s line would find approval among a large section of what the
media has termed the jholawalas, lefties and NGOs. Chidambaram, on the other
hand, is presented as alienating the Congress from the aam admi and instead
playing along with hawkish upper middle class jingoism who are all for a
strong state and free rein to corporate interests. We cannot then overlook
this terrain constituted by the contention between the two factions within
the Congress mobilising different social bases, ‘the masses and the
classes’, for their political power. Thus, the same Congress-led government
see-saws between the pro-corporate Special Economic Zone Act and the
‘pro-people’ Employment Guarantee Act: carrot-and-stick policy.

The internal composition and particular configuration of the social basis of
political power within the ruling Congress today is to a very large extent
determined by this contention and tension between the two factions. It is
within this context of the murky waters of interests and counter-interests,
the machinations of power blocs, played out currently as corporate vs. aam
admi approaches, that the Maoist comes to be cognized by those in power.
However the corporate versus aam admi divide cuts across parties beyond the
Congress and then gets translated state-wise in regional Maoist-affected
contexts in slightly changed idioms. Recent Lok Sabha debates were marked by
every party accusing the other of colluding with the Maoists: Singh himself
wrote BJP is colluding, BJP says Congress colluded in Andhra, Mamata of
course saying Maoists are same as CPIM, CPIM in turn accusing Trinamool of
colluding, Shibu Soren and Nitish Kumar too colluding and apparently
unwilling to implement Operation Green Hunt so on. Muddling waters further
Arun Jaitley insinuates that Mamata Banerjee and Mani Shankar Aiyar are
‘half-Maoists’ and ‘consultants to insurgents’ sitting in the House. It is
as though all these parties have to displace their own hidden illegality
onto the Maoists, to be able to present themselves as constitutional, legal
and legitimate in the first place!

*Factional enframing of the Maoists*

That is, the conflict and competition between these two factions within the
ruling bloc means that the Maoist gets portrayed in different ways by each
of them. Now the first kind of enframing coming from Chidambaram faction
that the Maoists are out to violently overthrow the India state, and are
against the very idea of India, is clearly applauded by large sections of
the upper middle classes. The BJP fully backs this up and so do large
sections within the Congress. Arun Jaitley was overly shrill in the Lok
Sabha calling upon the Congress to rally behind the Home Minister and his
hard approach towards the Maoists. What is it about the Maoists that allows
such a hawkish approach to be adopted by a large section of the ruling
classes? And here we know that this shows that the Maoists are indeed true
to their political ideology, leading the struggle for a ‘violent’ overthrow
of the Indian state and the establishment of communism. This means that the
Maoists are indeed to a large extent on the path of protracted people’s war
– testified therefore by the Indian’s state antagonistic and repressive
actions against them. Or, for the more skeptical, they are at least
arraigned against corporate interests and waging some kind of a struggle,
perhaps a class struggle.

While then this first enframing follows from Maoist revolutionary politics,
the second seems to offer a different picture – of Maoists who have lost the
sheen of their political ideology. The second enframing is of course the
left-liberal one propounded by Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyar and in fact large
sections of liberal civil society and democratic rights groups. And here we
have Singh himself in his article.

He makes three points. One, he challenges the narrow approach of the Home
Minister, who “is treating it purely as a law and order problem without
taking into consideration the issues that affect the tribals”, issues of
“governance and livelihood” and instead “converting the serene and calm
environment of Bastar into a battlefield”. Interestingly, another Congress
leader Amaresh Mishra, close to Singh, had written elsewhere how “the
Congress’s reformist agenda however was not liked by a powerful lobby of
upstart corporate interests”, clearly pointing fingers at the Chidambaram
lobby. Second, Singh presents an ambiguous picture of the Maoist approach
towards corporates, and towards mining and other activities. There is no
“instance where Maoists have stopped mining operations in affected areas”.
And if at all the Maoists raised issues of wage increase for tribals or
better living conditions, “the issue has been resolved amicably after some
deal was struck”. Third, Singh calls for focusing primary attention on the
plight of the tribals on issues related to governance and development, land
and resources, and the need for benign policies in order to undercut the
Maoist base.

While the contention between these two corporate factions in the Congress is
evident, what is interesting is how this contention not only centres around
working out the right approach in countering the Maoists but also offers a
new appraisal of the latter. This new liberal-left appraisal does not just
say that Maoists cannot be treated as a law and order problem and must be
treated as primarily if not exclusively a socio-economic problem – implement
PESA, Forest Rights Act and so on. *It says something more and this is new:
it says that the Maoists are not against corporate interests and in fact are
quite well integrated in the local economy and business as usual wherever
they are strong*. “The sheen of their political ideology seems to be wearing
off” as they facilitate business as usual. Thus “traders, forest
contractors, industrialists and mining companies carrying on their business
without a problem, in fact, quite merrily, in the Naxalite dominated areas.
The Maoists, simply, are collecting protection fees.” In fact, after the
massacre of CRPF jawans, when you would imagine that corporates are going to
run for their lives from Maoist areas, Tata Steel MD H. M. Nerurkar calmly
tells this about their steel venture in Chattisgarh: “We are not dropping
the project on account of the naxal problem.”

Now there are two aspects to this issue of Maoists not being seen by
sections within the ruling circles to be as radical as the ideological
claims they make. One is of course the actual activities of the Maoists and
their relationship with corporates in the different areas they are strong
in. This is one which needs empirical verification which we cannot do here.
The other aspect is the imperatives of the ruling parties that drive them to
view Maoists as such, as fulfilling a particular role and function which is
in consonance with the internal needs of the particular faction – and the
liberal-left faction cannot present itself as going soft on a force which is
openly against corporate capital. Thus here the liberal-left faction
enframes the Maoist as not inimical to the overall corporate interests and
business, except for the tax and levies they charge.

*Liberal-left allied to corporate capital*

What we see is that the liberal-left approach cannot of course break from
the dominant order of corporates and big capital. So it somehow has to
present the case of tribal upliftment and addressing socio-economic issues
without antagonizing corporate capital. Thus it cannot advocate adopting a
socio-economic approach to the Maoist problem, in the face of the ongoing
corporate-backed military strategy of Chidambaram, without assuring that
Maoists are not against corporates as such and that they arise out of the
issue of alienation of tribals from their land and resources.

Now such a liberal-left approach aligned finally with big capital is nothing
new. Right since the days of so-called Nehruvian socialism large sections of
the left, often including the CPI and later the CPIM, have played second
fiddle or openly facilitated the depredations of capital in the country.
Post-liberalisation of course we see the CPIM at the vanguard of
implementing some of the most aggressive policies of capital and the state.
On the other hand, it can be argued that NREGA and a host of other social
policies including the Forest Rights Act were all designed to contain social
discontent and cushion the effects of market globalization as much as to
garner votes through populist policies.

What is new then about this liberal-left in the light of the strong Maoist
presence, as also of so many other movements against corporate plunder
today, is that the ‘social discontent’ which pro-poor policies are trying to
‘ameliorate’ or ‘contain’ has now taken a distinct form, gone out of hand
and getting articulated as a political force, as in fact counter-veiling
power. Since now this power, the Maoists, do not seem to be petering out
soon or decimated whenever the powers that be so desire, *they are now being
cognized by the liberal-left as a force to be engaged with. In cognizing the
Maoists as such, it is imperative on the liberal-left to portray and
appropriate them in ways that suit its own interests – hence as not inimical
to corporate interests*. Earlier, the Expert Committee on Left Wing
Extremism of the Planning Commission too carried on such an approach of
trying to enframe Maoists as some kind of less-than-revolutionary, radical
social democrats (ok sometimes with a gun!) out there to seek justice. But
then this means that there is here also a veiled suggestion to the Maoists
as to what they should do if they want to endear themselves to the pro-talk,
liberal-left faction, how they should in fact dilute their political
ideology and so on. Will this have any impact on the Maoists, leading them
to act as less-than-revolutionary?

*Revolutionary movements at the service of reformist ones?*

Thus if rendering the Maoists less-than-revolutionary is the hidden basis on
which the talks and dialogue are to take place then one must raise certain
questions about Operation Civil Society. Do scrapping Chidambaram’s hawkish
policy and then talks and dialogue only mean the possibility of democratic
liquidation of the Maoists, wearing off of their political ideology and so
on? Do those opposing Operation Green Hunt do so thinking, as it seems Rahul
Gandhi and Digvijay Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar do, that Maoists dilute
their political ideology in practice and can definitely be contained through
socially oriented policies – and in turn be made the reason why more such
policies be brought about, strengthening thereby the left-wing of capital
and the state.

The more Operation Green Hunt fails to decimate the Maoists and the more
Maoists are able to expand and proliferate, the more assertive the
liberal-left is going to get, proffering their approach and solution. No
wonder Singh’s article comes after the massacre of the CRPF jawans, when it
seemed like Operation Green Hunt is not taking off. The Maoist presence and
Chidambaram’s failure to eliminate it will clearly bring cheers to the
liberal-left and allow them great leverage within the corridors of power. If
this happens of course this might mean a larger realignment within the
ruling bloc in favour of more people-oriented policies and applying some
restraint on private capital and economic reforms – thanks to the Maoist

On the other hand, objectively speaking the Indian state and ruling classes
have lost touch with vast masses of people, particulary adivasis so that
Maoists came to be the only credible force, to fill up what CPI leader from
Bastar Manish Kunjam called a ‘political vacuum’ (Frontline, April 24 – May
7, 2010). Now apart from the subjective intentions of the Maoists the point
is that objectively speaking big capital and the state in India today might
look to the Maoists as facilitating this mediation between the tribals and
the corporates - unless big capital is willing to go for an all out
extermination of the tribals and capture the land and resources. This is the
context in which we must understand ruling class parties accusing each other
of being soft on the Maoists to secure electoral victories in Maoist areas –
the Congress is supposed to be soft on Maoists to secure electoral gains in
states like Chattisgarh with a BJP government. This only means that one way
or another these parties are forced to deal with the fact that the Maoists
are the only credible force with mass support in certain areas of sharp
struggle against corporate capital.

Thus in terms of the internal composition of the ruling bloc today there is
a possibility of talks and dialogue between the Maoists and the government,
in fact of reconciliation too. However as we saw the enframing horizon
within which such dialogue and reconciliation is envisioned clearly means
co-opting the Maoist challenge in order to revive and refuel the old
Nehruvian left ideals in the times of corporate globalization. No wonder
arch-Nehruvian Aiyar declared his ‘one thousand percent’ support to Singh’s
critique of Chidambaram. Social movements and civil society groups too have
become more vocal demanding proper implementation of PESA, Panchayats, gram
sabhas, different progressive Acts.

What is interesting and a paradox if you like, is that the Maoist movement
far from rekindling a radical left or Marxist imagination consonant with the
Naxalbari legacy, has instead fuelled and activated generally welfarist,
left-of-centre sections – and in fact increased their bargaining power
vis-à-vis those favouring corporate capital and a strong state. *Is Maoist
revolutionary subjectivity at the service of reformist movements*?
Prachanda’s promised fusion between people’s war and peoples movement in
Nepal too turned out to be people’s war sacrificed towards a broad and vague
peoples movement to the advantage of otherwise popularly hated, mainstream
political parties. Bhoodan movement and the Gandhian movement itself got a
new lease of life after Independence when it presented itself as a response
or ‘humane solution’ to the Telegana armed uprising. This question of the
subsumption of radical, revolutionary, ‘violent’ movements into infusing
life and legitimacy in the existing order, with the ‘official left’ playing
the intermediary, comprador role has to posed again today. Perhaps it is a
problem of articulation, perhaps it is more substantive than that, or
perhaps it is a sign of the overall logic of society, state and politics
today – this needs more understanding.

Coming back to the present situation: the Maoists physically are not doing
too bad confronting the military heat of Operation Green Hunt and the hawks
within the Home Ministry; but what they seem not yet fully aware of is *this
ideological streamlining and sequestration of their subjectivity, twisted to
rejuvenate the progressive ideals of the self-same Constitution and the
progressive legislation ‘the sham of Indian democracy’ has churned out in no
small quantities. If they realize, Maoists are today reeling under both
Operation Green Hunt and Operation Civil Society! *There is a however a
tendency among the Maoists to be a bit too jubilant whenever civil society
hotshots shower recognition and praise on them.

Now whether Maoists, in the face of conciliatory gestures and proposals from
the liberal-left, will slowly come to some kind of an understanding with the
Indian state or it will continue with its revolutionary aim and objective of
New Democratic Revolution is a question we cannot settle here. What we can
do is reflect on this model of armed struggle inflected and refracted in and
through contradictions within the ruling circles and the calls and
possibilities for talks and dialogue through some kind of civil society
intervention and mediation. This way we can perhaps see that the ability of
sections of the ruling classes to enframe the Maoists in ways that help
reconfigure and renew the legitimacy of dominant power, might be a fall-out
of a particular way of doing armed struggle.

*Armed struggle ‘model’?*

At the risk of oversimplification, let me outline the realist (definitely
not the Marxist) account of armed struggle of the Maoists.
As pointed out by several writers, Maoists started work in areas where the
Indian state is weakest or hardly has any presence as in Dandakaranya, where
there exists intense exploitation and oppression by agents of the state like
Forest Department officials or by private contractors and traders. Maoists
then, what has been narrated better by other writers, took up struggle for
wage increase, higher prices for forest produce from traders, against
women’s oppression and landlordism and so on.

In most cases Maoists soon gain a lot of popularity. They become a major
power network there, running people’s courts, collecting taxes, levies on
local contractors and traders. In any case, the Maoists soon gain real power
on the ground, which becomes counter-power to the dominant order. They are
able to challenge the armed might of the state too. Once this is achieved,
the key point is whether this power allows Maoists to further radicalize the
struggle and eventually build up towards a total replacement of the existing
state order and society. Or, with this not happening, whether it starts
negotiating with the already established dominant state order. Of course
there are no binaries like that – for negotiations can be a step towards
intensifying the struggle through strategic retreat. In any case, no matter
what the objective, Indian Maoists are, as of today, keen to negotiate or go
for talks and do not seem to be able to take the movement to a higher level.
And this seems to be following on the features of a traditional armed
struggle model.

In this model, the state response is of course to initially overlook them,
if they have not become a credible threat yet to the ruling order, to
business as usual and the authority of the state and parliamentary political
process. The same was the case when the Maoists launched their people’s war
in 1996 in Nepal: they were totally marginal to national politics. In fact
this was the approach of the Indian state till recently. But then once they
start being seen as a threat and also expanding, there are two kinds of
responses. To physically eliminate them, particularly if the ruling order is
not itself split from within and is internally cohesive in its approach. Or,
as we saw with the liberal-left approach, to simultaneously befriend them if
the internal dissensions within the ruling bloc mean that this threat can be
used to buttress the claims of this one faction against the other faction.

In this realist account of the model of armed struggle, then, the rebels
first establish themselves as a major power network (as a revolutionary
force); the state and established order then try to dislodge them; if they
cant, then there is a tendency to accommodate them; talks and negotiations
begin, figuring out possible outcomes and compromise positions. But even
though Maoists have emerged as a structure of power, not easily dislodged,
the government today is not readily willing to negotiate and is putting
strong conditionalities like ‘abjure violence’ and so on. This has of course
to do with corporate capital’s strong linkages with the state. Companies
like Vedanta, Arcelor Mittal, Tata Steel, Essar are openly and brazenly
promoted by the Indian state.

More importantly, the government today feels that it does not lose its
democratic legitimacy in making ‘war on its own people’. And that has to do
with the upper middle class support base which is cheering on Chidambaram to
go ahead and finish off the Maoists. Calls for using maximum force to finish
off the ‘anti-national’ Maoists, egging on Chidambaram to go on no-holds
barred, were on full display in the aftermath of the killing of 76 security
personnel in Dantewada. On this count, negotiations are still not so much on
the cards for the Indian state.

The other reason is also of course that precisely due to such a nature of
the upper middle classes and intense corporate hegemony even among the lower
classes, radical resistance among urban workers is extremely sporadic and
falls short of acquiring a critical mass. And if they are unable to expand,
Maoists might be more willing to go for talks and negotiations as a way out
of being restricted in limited areas or expanding in sociologically
homogeneous areas (forest areas, or among adivasis only) – thereby
reinforcing the armed struggle model. It is the confidence and continued
legitimacy of the state and its policies among the upper middle classes that
allows it to ignore the Maoists as a legitimate force even when Digvijay
paints them as not so dangerous, well integrated in business as usual,
collecting taxes from local traders, contractors and businesses and so on.

*Generalising the struggle or perpetuating power?*

The key question for the Maoists is this: how can they transcend the
traditional armed struggle model and go ahead with their political goals,
intensifying the class struggle and so on? Are the janatam sarkar and the
revolutionary peasant committees headed towards an alternative political
power or are they only excellent but interim ways of organizing production
and consumption at the local level only?

Thus it seems clear that if the Maoists are not able to expand their
struggle in new areas, new classes and precipitate a larger crisis for the
Indian state, the traditional armed struggle model would invariably set
limits on it. Talks and dialogue in themselves are neither good nor bad:
what is important is the larger dynamic of the struggle, of the ability to
generalize the struggle and precipitate a wider crisis for the state –
something much more pertinent given that the present government does not
really derive legitimacy from the masses in Dantewada or Lalgarh but from
the urban middle classes. From what one can see, Maoists seem to be pinning
much hope on the initiatives by the intelligentsia and urban civil society
groups, rather than mobilizing masses in urban areas, drawing thereby a line
of generalization to the ‘base struggle’ in Dantewada, Lalgarh and

In Nepal, even after the Maoists spread to almost 70 per cent of the
country, they still could not figure out how to expand to urban areas,
particularly among the middle classes. It was only after they entered into
the Nov 2005 12-point agreement with the seven political parties that they
started expanding in urban areas – but that was only after they suspended
their people’s war. So the question: how does one expand the people’s war
among urban workers and the middle class? While Indian Maoists have more or
less rightly critiqued the Nepali Maoists, they do not seem to have answers
to such questions, to the real problems that the path of protracted people’s
war encounters. The choice is between generalizing the struggle or
eventually getting suckered in the flows of capital and state power.

After all, if the Maoists are not dynamically expanding in new areas, among
new classes and winning new allies (for example the nationality movements
and anti-caste struggles), there is always a chance that their present
revolutionary base areas would get enmeshed in the larger circulation of
quantities and masses which is global capitalism today – liberated zones can
start wilting from within. Of course this might sound a bit too pessimistic
today when the movement exudes a lot of revolutionary energy if not
dynamism. Hence we can put it this way: *Maoists today seem poised between
either generalizing the struggle, advancing the class struggle to new
heights, or lapsing into dominant, constituted, ossified (local) power,
albeit rendering the dominant system progressive and humane in the process*.
Without an advancing class struggle, civil society initiatives, if taken a
bit too seriously, for all their good intentions, cannot but push Maoists
towards the latter, now also buttressed by liberal-left voices within the
ruling party.

*The liberal-left or civil society opposition to Operation Green Hunt and
towards talks and dialogue is a double-edged sword as it tends to piggy-ride
on the Maoist movement to establish its own agenda vis-à-vis the dominant
neoliberal Chidambaram lobby – best exemplified in the catch-all expression
‘peace with justice’. Thus for example the choice offered between Operation
Green Hunt or the (liberal-left) socio-economic approach, through effective
implementation of PESA/Forest Rights Act and so on, is a false choice. While
the possibility of a physical liquidation of the Andhra model remains, a new
threat of democratic liquidation too can become a possibility. Unless
Maoists are able to break their dalliance with civil society and advance
their struggle to newer classes and urban areas, they might badly succumb.*

*Invisible hand*

Lastly, let us come back to the attempted liberal-left appropriation of
Maoists, against the hawkish pro-corporate faction, particularly in Singh’s
article. While this is ‘ruling class contradiction’, we must not however
fail to point out that, from a revolutionary standpoint, there is a truth
contained in Singh’s assertion that Maoists are violent and do threaten the
state but are not against business as usual, not against corporate
interests. Indeed, Maoist politics is marked by the juxtaposition of a
highly revolutionary, antagonistic relationship towards the state and its
apparatus, including its political process of legitimization (boycott
elections), with a highly ambiguous relationship to private trade and
business at the local level. This is of course the difficult question of
state versus capital, of state versus commodity production – where state is
easily located and identified while capital and commodity production are
diffuse, decentred and cannot be a target for revolutionary action. It is
easier to confront the state and target it as a structure of oppression than
be able to see how the market, private trade and exchange ‘spontaneously’
produces inequalities of power and wealth. The invisible hand of the market
is sometimes far more instrumental in forestalling revolutions than the
visible hand of the state.

Surely, the Maoists need to get a grasp of this problem, which has
historically existed right since the days of Lenin when after capture of
state power the Bolsheviks swung between War Communism (banning private
trade and money) and the New Economic Policy (allowing a quantum of private
trade and free market) in 1919-21. The Cultural Revolution in turn showed us
that the old state and old classes might go but the existing conditions of
production, in particular the wage system and the operation of the law of
value (the capitalist market) in turn ‘spontaneously’ generates a new
bourgeoisie, well… as Mao pointed out, from within the Communist Party.

Undoubtedly, Maoist practice particularly the experience of the janatam
sarkars must be one way or another encountering this problem and must have
tried to address it. The Maoists of course cannot shy away from actively
relating to the trade and business (including looting banks) in areas under
their control. However, to view it as only a local practical exigency (we
all need money, don’t we?) and not relating it to the course of the overall
revolutionary process can prove dangerous.
Peace Is Doable
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://openspaceforum.net/pipermail/worldsocialforum-discuss_openspaceforum.net/attachments/20100501/12668c7b/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the WorldSocialForum-Discuss mailing list