-Rajesh Tyagi; 13 March 2009
Upon initiative of Stalinist leadership of CPI and CPI(M), once again a ‘third front’, a pre-poll alliance of political parties of different shades has propped up on the eve of general elections for fifteenth Lok Sabha (Peoples’ House), one of the two chambers parliament in India. In a public rally held yesterday on 12 March 2009, attended by around 5 lakh people, at Dobbespet, 70 kms from Bangalore, representatives of about 10 big and small parties, including CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Forward Block, BSP, TDP, JD(S), AIADMK, TRS and HJS, from six states had proclaimed this third front, with all fanfare. The idea of third front, floated by Stalinist leaders after their unhappy exit from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), comprises of political parties of different shades and different programmes, rooted in different social classes, from Communist parties to the long time bed fellows of right wing BJP. The idea is basically to collect all dropouts from the two major coalitions, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), on a single platform. While the Stalinist leaders, in order to seek at least some justification for their hobnobbing with pro-capitalist parties, are striving to give a false face to the alliance in the name of a ‘left, democratic and secular’ coalition, the other parties are least concerned about the face.
The Stalinist leaders are projecting the third front as an alliance of parties with similar ideology, an alternative to keep the Congress and the BJP out of power. Last two decades have witnessed such coalitions with left, democratic and secular rhetoric, falling apart one after the other, after treading the same path of pro-rich policies and nothing in the real interest of working people. In 1989-91, the CPI(M) and CPI were partner in the alliance ‘National Front’ led by Vishwanath Pratap Singh, alongside the right wing BJP. While CPI joined the coalition government, CPI(M) supported it from outside. The underlining slogan was to keep the Congress out of power, which according to the Stalinist leadership of these two communist parties, was the real enemy of the people. The coalition government, however, could not sustain its term and fell midway. In 1996-97, they joined hands in seven party alliance of the United Front, headed by H.D.Devegowda, now supported by Congress, which also could not complete its term and fell. However, it saw three Prime Ministers- H.D. Devegowda, I.K. Gujaral and then Chandrashekhar for rest of the term, succeeding each other during its tenure. In 2002 elections, these parties joined the bogey of Congress, under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) with Sonia Gandhi as its leader, allegedly to keep the BJP out of the power, as now BJP was bigger enemy in their view. They remained welded to Congress until they were kicked out of the alliance, with their left-democratic rhetoric. The Congress government, aided by BJP through more than 20 abstentions, and with support of few small parties, succeeded in winning the confidence motion on the floor of Parliament.
The left front led by the CPI(M) utterly failed to play any effective role in any of the coalitions. It continued as tutelage of different pro-capitalist parties and coalitions which it joined under the fictitious slogans of ‘left and secular democracy’. Instead of becoming parties of working class, these parties under their Stalinist leadership, formed the left-democratic wing of capitalist democracy and sustained it by holding back the working class from taking action against their anti-people and pro-rich policies.
In West Bengal, where a coalition of four parties led by Stalinists- the Left Front-is in power and runs the government the Stalinists had openly sided with capitalists, unleashing severe repression upon the peasants in Nadigram and Singur. They dispossessed the peasants to forcibly acquire their holdings under active cultivation. The mass base of left front in West Bengal thus substantially eroded and the parties led by Stalinists, got unmasked as anti-people and pro-capitalists. The sinking mass base has further pushed the Stalinists to the arms of capitalist parties. The Stalinists are virtually apprehensive if they would be able to secure the total 58 seats, the four parties in left front had won in the last general elections for 14th Lok Sabha.
The idea of entering into coalitions with capitalist parties, in the name of fighting for democracy or against fascism, to be sure, is not invented by our Stalinists, but was put to action by Stalin himself. It was pressed into service of Soviet bureaucracy headed by Stalin in 1930’s, on purely nationalist considerations, after the ultra left policies of the so called ‘third period’ resulted in the defeats and isolation of the international communist movement. The third period, at the end of second decade of last century was marked by the incorrect prognosis made by Bukharin and Stalin, leading to the conclusion that the capitalism was on the verge of collapse and thus the parties of Comintern must dissociate themselves from social-democracy in general, whose parties, like the SPD in Germany were still rooted firmly among the working class. Stalin termed the social-democratic parties as social-fascist, which should be alienated and fought against. Leon Trotsky opposed this policy. This resulted in disintegration of German revolution.
When this ultra-left policy backfired, a turn in full circle was proposed by Stalin. This was the policy of ‘popular frontism’, of forging alliances between the parties of working class (communist and socialist) and the so-called ‘progressive’ bourgeois parties of all colours- liberals, republicans, radicals etc. Leon Trotsky again opposed this policy tooth and nail. Trotsky stressed that there is no such thing as “progressive wing of the bourgeois”. He told that such ‘popular fronts’, the alliances with capitalist parties go to support only the capitalists who hold the workers back through the workers parties inside such alliances and make sure that they do not go beyond the democratic programme, so that the property and state of capitalist class remains untouched. Trotsky proposed ‘United Front’ of communist party with other workers parties and trade unions rooted in working class instead.
This policy of ‘popular frontism’, resulted in severe debacles whenever and wherever it was applied. France and Spain presented two classic examples of these debacles. Following the policy of Stalin, the Spanish Socialist Party joined such coalition with bourgeois parties in 1931 and again in 1936. Same happened in France in 1936. Communist parties were also part of these coalitions. Both communists and socialists inside the popular fronts, were used by capitalists to hold back the workers from dislodging the bourgeois state. This ‘popular frontism’ led to the victory of Franco in Spain and terrible defeat of revolution in both countries.
Stalin was not the originator of the idea of coalitions between workers’ and capitalists’ parties. He had borrowed the idea from Mensheviks. The idea of coalitions with pro-capitalist parties, was in fact, a Menshevik idea, developed by them during the Russian Revolution and discarded by the revolution itself. Mensheviks thought that given the backwardness of Russia, there was no question for a proletarian socialist revolution in Russia, as working class was not capable to carry out a revolutionary overturn on its own. According to them, the working class could only follow the lead of capitalists, under whose rule they said conditions would ripen for socialist revolution. However, Lenin and Trotsky, both were convinced of the reactionary nature of the capitalist class and opposed any alliance with it. This remained the bone of contention between the Bolshevik and Menshevik perspectives.
After the death of Lenin, Stalin however, resuscitated the Menshevik formula of making coalitions with capitalists and re-clothed it into what we know as the policy of ‘popular frontism’.
As Spain was relatively underdeveloped, thus the workers should not take power, Stalin commanded, rather should support the democratic wing of the bourgeois. In France, the same policy pushed back the revolution. The policy was then applied to Chinese revolution, by entering into the bourgeois Kuomintang and the result was the complete crushing of the mature proletarian revolution in 1927, at the hands of Chiang Kai Shek and then Wang Ching Wei. After WW II the policy was once again applied to France and Italy, where communist parties had joined cabinets of capitalist governments; revolutionary wave of 1943-48 was finally defeated, the revolution was thrown back for decades, and conditions for peaceful development of capitalism were created. The policy was then applied to Chile in 1970-73, by forming a coalition Government under President Allende, which prepared the ground for Pinochet coup, and resulted in killing of thousands of revolutionaries and workers, including Allende himslef. Italian party which secured record votes in 1976, lost heavily in 1979, after joining hands with Christian Democrats and set in for a long term decline.
Everywhere this policy of ‘popular frontism’ was put into action, it embedded the seeds of illusions in workers for bourgeois democracy, whereby workers lost confidence in their own forces.
This very same opportunist policy of forging alliances with pro-capitalist parties, is now being pressed into service at full swing by Stalinist leadership in India. It hardly matters for them if it is Chandrababu Naidu, Mayawati or Jayalalitha, who backstabbed them only yesterday and did not hesitate to go with BJP or Congress, in order to form pro-capitalist governments. The honeymoon of Stalinists with capitalist parties does not seem to come to an end. The ‘democratic’ stage of the revolution, where they deem it their duty to throw their weight behind the progressive capitalists, goes on and on and on. The other day it was V.P.Singh, then Sonia Gandhi and now Mayawati who come fit in their frame of progressive bourgeois. The working class, in their view, must perform ‘coolie service’ for these great democrats, as Stalinist Comintern had recommended for Chinese communists and what Indian Stalinists had been doing for decades. This is their ‘popular frontism’ which they are trying to sell to the working class, as communist position.
They oppose BJP, only to seek a justification to join the bandwagon of Congress, and their opposition to Congress comes to justify their alliance with other capitalist parties. For decades together, they had continued to shuttle between the capitalist parties in the same manner, while honest and sincere cadre awaits for a revolutionary advance in vain. It never came to the minds of these blockheads, the false leaders of working class, that the workers as a class should be oriented towards an independent political policy, not in alliance with the capitalists but directly against them. Genuine communist cadres present inside these parties led by Stalinist leadership, must think of orienting these parties towards proletarian revolution. For this, they must consolidate themselves as an independent proletarian current inside these parties, defeat the policy of class collaboration pursued by their leadership instead of class struggle against the capitalists, and must set out to overthrow this bogus leadership itself.