From Singur, via Nandigram to Lalgarh: Zig Zag of Maoist Train and the Paradox of Development

-Rajesh Tyagi/ 24 October 2009

After opposing the industrialisation in Singur and Nandigram on the premise that the same is outrageous, inhuman and not ‘people oriented’, Maoists find themselves in an apparent dilemma to raise the issue of under-development in Lalgarh, the very next day.

Their illusion in an 'alternative path' of development under capitalism, on a national-domestic ground, with humanitarian considerations and an 'inclusive' growth, having no material basis at all, has led the Maoists directly to the lap of reformism. This infantile outlook, means nothing except craving for a 'humanitarian face' for capitalism! Fighting for this ‘soft’ capitalism, of course with arms in hands, the Maoists present themselves as ‘armed reformists’ or ‘reformist militants’ of a new type, but in essence the armed defenders of the same old capitalism. Their innocent belief that capitalism may grow in a different, alternative mode, in a more human way, on national ground, if it is stripped off  its 'foreign' links and 'domestic' trappings, makes their whole political outlook pitiable, contradictory and self-abnegating. Contrary to the saintly hopes of Maoists, in countries with a belated historical development, like India, the capitalism, however, cannot go back to home-grow organically, but would continue to intrude through most violent means, shattering the day dreams of Maoists.

Do you want to destroy capitalism? ‘No, not at all! We rather want to see the capitalism grow, as that is the only road to socialism. Our program is to liberate capitalism of the shackles of feudalism and Imperialism’! Maoist retorts. Thus, a ‘Capitalist road to Socialism’, this is what the program of ‘new democracy’ means in essence to our Maoist!

This essentially reformist perspective of Maoists, is completely in consonance with the politics of petty-bourgeois peasantry, their actual social base, which though pulverised under the advance of capitalism, yet craves only for a ‘human’ face of capitalism and not for abolition of the bourgeois property relations, as a whole, as it itself, as a class, rests upon such relations. Maoists, the historical representatives of peasantry-the rural petty producers- thus do not and cannot overstep this limit.

But then the real difficulty presents itself in practice. As capitalism ‘grows’ it invariably grows through appropriation of petty producer, pushing it to the camp of the proletariat. Maoist is however not ready to swallow this bitter pill of capitalism and opposes the appropriation, e.g. in Singur and Nandigram. They defend the petty owner of land against this ‘inhuman’ appropriation and thus oppose the capitalist growth, with arms in hand. But then in the next breath they stake their leadership to Lalgarh movement which poses the question of ‘under-development’, demanding extension of capitalist development, the factories, schools, hospitals etc. etc on their virgin territory.

Thus, aiming for proliferation of ‘capitalism’ in their fancied program of ‘new democracy’, instead of its destruction, Maoists take offensive against the growth of capitalism, its penetration onto the virgin lands like Singur and Nandigram, while simultaneously they demand capitalist development in the underdeveloped regions like Lalgarh.

The paradox of ‘development’ for Maoists is that they are not sure if they are ‘for’ or ‘against’ the capitalist development as a whole. It is because they rest upon the intermediary class-the peasantry-standing with two faces: one towards the bourgeois and other towards the proletariat. The peasantry is revolutionary only so far it follows the lead of the proletariat in destroying pre-capitalist relations from the countryside. It is reactionary when it fights in defence of small holdings, against capitalist advance, whether domestic or foreign. Maoists, who take their positions upon the rural peasantry instead of urban workers, thus get trapped in a duality-radical in form, reactionary in essence.

Instead of mobilising the working class and the peasantry behind it, to accomplish the great historic mission of overturning the power of capitalists and landlords, the Maoists directly take to the peasantry and adapt themselves to its very conservative outlook, and toe to the program of preserving the petty peasant holdings. They remain disoriented as their real positions often remain in conflict with revolutionary marxism and their very limited petty bourgeois political outlook and self conflicting program remains an anethema to Marxism. In their opposition to the capitalist development, Maoists merely echo the sentiments of the class, the petty holders of the land, the rural peasantry, heterogeous in its social composition and fast disintegrating under the conditions of imperialism and not only whose holdings, but the whole existence is  threatened by advance of modern capitalism. In their opposition to modern capitalist development and advocacy for preservation of the petty property, is embedded the one side of their dual political character, while the other is reflected in their advocacy for 'proliferation' of capitalism and collaboration with national capitalists during the 'new democratic' stage of their assumed revolution.

In fact, this paradox of development can only be explained in terms of inbuilt mechanics of capitalism leading to an ‘uneven and combined growth’, but then the resolution would lie not in ‘proliferation of capitalism’ but essentially in its destruction. But for Maoists ‘capitalism’ is sacrosanct. They have learnt by rote from Mao himself, that proletariat not sufficiently strong in backward countries, cannot overturn capitalism, and has thus to pass through a ‘new democratic stage’ in which capitalism has to be preserved, at any cost. The task for Maoists thus lies in liberating capitalism of its ills, instead of liberating the working classes from capitalism. In their view, bourgeois not being a good manager of capitalism, destiny has assigned this task of management and cure of capitalism to Maoists. They, thus come forward not as hostile enemies of capitalism, but with their claim as better managers of capitalism. Capitalism under the management of Maoist Bonaparte, the red bureaucracy, is the real essence of ‘new democracy’.

The difficulty of Maoists lies in their flawed perspective of Stalinist ‘two stage theory’, which stops short of aiming for destruction of capitalism. This suicidal formula has already derailed the mature revolutions in China, Spain, India, Iran, Iraq and more recently in Nepal. In the name of ‘new democratic stage’ Maoists refuse to aim for destruction of capitalism, rather advocate its ‘proliferation’ during the new democratic period. This is what was professed by the 1940 pamphlet of Mao-tse-Tung, ‘On New Democracy’. In their view national capitalism has not lost its progressive vigour as a whole. While sections of national capitalism retain a progressive role, in their opinion, it is only imperialism and the comprador capitalism tagged to it which is reactionary. This way, Maoists attempt to segregate the feudal reaction on the one hand and comprador capitalism on the other, from the ‘national capitalism’ as targets of their ‘peoples war’, and thereby create illusions for progressive role of capitalism. They de-compose world capitalism, to get fragments of ‘national’ and ‘comprador’ capitalism and ‘feudalism’ separated from each other, in their laboratory of ‘new democracy’. By not targeting capitalism as a whole, and by sparing its ‘national’ sections, the Maoists not only betray the class whose red banner they hold, but themselves land into a dilemma.

Opposing the theory of 'permanent revolution' as developed by Leon Trotsky, which propounds that in backward countries, the revolution can succeed only if it would summon the proletariat to power, to realise its dictatorship, the Maoists support the Stalinist theory of 'two stage' revolution, first 'democratic' and then 'socialist'. In their ahistoric assumption, proletariat is not sufficiently strong to take power in backward countries, and may take it only in alliance with 'progressive' sections of national bourgeois, first. To be able to take power in exclusion of and against the bourgeois, the proletariat will have to wait till capitalism blooms to its 'full', over decades.

'Capitalism today, Socialism tomorrow’, is their battle cry, where, as the whole hostoric experience demonstrates, ‘tomorrow’ never presented itself to the proletariat! The Menshevik-Stalinist 'two stage theory' adopted by Maoists, ultimately refracts itself in real politics into 'one stagism' i.e. the servility for the regime of financial oligarchy.

The very limited political program of Maoists, especially in the age of grown-up Imperialism, instantly becomes a premise of apparently self-contradictory ideas, leading to nowhere, but into a trap of capitalism. Politically disoriented cadres, turned away from a political program against capitalism, are then left in a lurch, cheerleading for ‘armed’ actions of militants, kidnappings and beheadings etc. etc.

So far as advocacy of Maoists for 'National', 'homegrown' capitalism, as against Imperialism, is concerned, the same is through and through reactionary. Imperialism has not appeared from vacuum, it has grown out of their cherished ‘national capitalism’. Maoists conveniently forget that National capitalism is nothing but pre-monopoly stage of world capitalism, which has gone far back in history, paving the way for Imperialism, the monopoly capitalism, which has since subjugated all forms of economy, national as well as foreign. National capitalism has been substituted by Imperialism in advanced countries, while in peripheral countries it has adapted to Imperialism. National capitalism is thus not progressive from any angle, in comparison to monopoly capitalism-the Imperialism, as our Maoists think, but it is vice-versa. Lenin in his debate against P.Kievsky has been categorically clear on this point:

.....But this Kievsky argument is wrong. Imperialism is as much our “mortal” enemy as is capitalism. That is so. No Marxist will forget, however, that capitalism is progressive compared with feudalism, and that imperialism is progressive compared with pre-monopoly capitalism. Hence, it is not every struggle against imperialism that we should support. We will not support a struggle of the reactionary classes against imperialism; we will not support an uprising of the reactionary classes against imperialism and capitalism. (A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism; Chapter 5. “Monism And Dualism”).

Working and toiling people suffer under capitalism, not only from its non-development, like in Lalgarh, but from its development too, e.g. Singur and Nandigram. The sufferings of people are thus caused by the dynamics of capitalist regime itself, and not by its growth or undergrowth. Maoists refuse to see this and harp upon the non-issues, in a petty bourgeois populist way. They beat about the bush, leaning upon this or that side of capitalism, demanding a human face, social concern and commitment of capitalism, and thereby prevent the toiling people from realising that their liberation consists in destruction of capitalism as a whole, and not in limited reformist program of support or opposition to its advance.

The whole viewpoint of Maoists, revolves around the pivot of intermediary classes and their ideas, chiefly the rural peasantry, while bypassing the industrial working class, the only class standing in opposition to capitalism. The mass following, Maoists claim to have got behind them, is the fallout of their debased policy, where they not only choose backward rural regions as their operating ground, but here also appeal directly to politically most backward sections, e.g. tribals, living in pre-capitalist conditions. These politically backward sections are the best audience for de-classed ideas, at least till the time the most advanced sections of the working class do not organise themselves under a revolutionary proletarian leadership, to lead in turn this backward mass against capitalism and on the road to a proletarian overturn. The absence of political consolidation of the working class in India, however, provides and would continue to provide, a very convenient breeding ground for all sorts of petty bourgeois romanticism, ideas and organisations, including that of the Maoists.


  1. आपके विचार अति उत्‍तम हैं। बिल्‍कुल 16 आने दुरुस्‍त कि औद्योगिक सर्वहारा को संगठित किये बिना पेटी बोर्जुआ रूमानियत का दौ-दौरा बना रहेगा। प्‍वाइंट साइज बढाओ भाई नजर कमजोर है/ हिंदी तथा अन्‍य भारतीय भाषाओं के जरिये भी अपनी बात कहने का प्रयास करें। अपने बारे में हिंदी में बतायें अंग्रेजी जरा कमजोर है। वैसे बिरादर जान पडते हैं।

  2. Rather your perspective is flawed and you have not read Marx and Engels adequately. Engels is on record defending the interests of petty producer i.e. what you call petty bourgeois peasant. The Marxist diatribe against rural idiocy etc. is not absolute. Later on they recognized the need to befriend and fight for the interests of small peasants too and also the need and importance of bourgeois democracy. In Indian conditions, you cannot go to statization or collectivization of land at one go or even peasant cooperatives would not work. Lenin is on record praising the productivity and capability of small farms. So please correct your flawed perspective and recognize the importance of small peasantry and agricultural labour in India.
    As regards your working class and 'sarvahara', it has never been able to lead the people or conduct stubborn struggles against capitalism or pose a danger to capitalist rule in India. Simply there never has been any working class leadership so routinely recited by all Marxists including you Trotskyites. You want to superimpose the leadership of some groups/parties in the name of working class on the people and call it working class leadership. That is all.

  3. A very thought provoking aticle for the revolutionarie. Would you, please allow us to translate it into hindi and then publish at our blog नया सर्वहारा पुनर्जागरण नया सर्वहारा प्रबोधन ?

    thanks in advance

  4. I'm sorry to say that the article is full of contradictions. It is unsubstantiated by facts. May I ask the author to read the programme of the CPI(Maoist) and their statements on Nandigram, Singur and Lalgarh ? Nowhere in their programme or statements they've come out with support for capitalist development. When they talk about the need for development in Lalgarh's tribal areas, they do not ask for the state-led model of capitalist development, but call for development in terms of human concerns - health care, education, irrigation facilities, drinking water, housing, etc. Although I have serious differences with the Maoist political strategy and tactics, I would request the author not to distort their standpoint, and quote their statements and then criticize them. Such articles mislead your readers - just like the corporate sector-controlled national media mislead the readers by painting the Maoists as demons, ignoring the genuine grievances of the tribal people that they are voicing.

    Sumanta Banerjee

  5. The article makes it clear that the concept of 'new democracy' as concieved by Maoists, is nothing but an apology against destruction of bourgeois property and it does not traverse beyond the contours of capitalism. 'Bloc of Four Classes' includes 'national'(!)capitalists into the framework of 'new democracy'.

    Now in defence of Maoists Sumanta says,"When they talk about the need for development in Lalgarh's tribal areas, they do not ask for the state-led model of capitalist development, but call for development in terms of human concerns -health care, education, irrigation facilities, drinking water, housing, etc."

    Now, according to Maoists, this all has to be achieved within the frames of 'new democracy', i.e. in collaboaration with sections of bourgeois, namely the national bourgeois. In their view, as the article points out, the working class is too weak to take to power. The hunt for this 'national' bourgeois tagged Stalinists to Centrist Congress and non-congress bourgeois opposition, and the hunt of Maoists for the same 'national' sections has led them to parties like BSP and TMC. Both Stalinists and Maoists remain appended to this or that section of bourgeois and are hostile to 'permanent revolution', the idea that working class alone is the real and legitimate claimant to the power in India, through a proletarian revolution backed by the poor peasantry.

    Thus, the article has correctly pointed out that the Maoists mislead themselves by nurturing illusions in national capitalism, which they proclaim, in advance, not to destroy. Unfortunately this 'national' capitalism remains a cog in the machine of world capitalism and organically integrated into it. But the Maoists, denying this fact, demand that capitalism, must deliver, in the words of Sumanta, "human concerns -health care, education, irrigation facilities, drinking water, housing, etc." This is rubbish and clear rejuvenation of the Menshevik outlook.

  6. in the first instance, Sumanta must understand that there may be so many models of capitalist development, from 'social-welfare' to 'free-market', but they are all models of development, essentially capitalist in its organisation. Like Stalinists, Maoists also swing between them. They call for 'humanization' of capitalism, and become its reformist guards, the left-democratic wing of bourgeois. One would search in vain for a clarion call against capitalism in the program of Maoists. They oppose one section of bourgeois to support the other. For example, their opposition to foreign capital, is only the other side of their support for 'national' bourgeois, which in their view has a progressive role to play in our revolution. Their whole perspective is based upon the debased view of Mao and before him of Stalin, that the 'national' sections of bourgeois are 'friends' of revolution in backward countries. They base themselves on petty bourgoeis pesantry, with their face towards the 'national' bourgeois, and never detach themselves from capitalism. Isn't it the program of Mao in 1940 in 'On New Democracy', which constitutes the real foundations for Maoist program in 2009? What else we should look for? Their dreams ofr humanitarian capitalism, is only a garb to conceal their real support for capitalism and their simulataneous turning of back upon the working class. Maoists, are the real embodiment of Mensheviks in outlook, and SRs (Narodniks!) in action.


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