CPI(M)’s Rectification Campaign and a Bit of History: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

The Rectification campaign (RC) in CPI(M) is in practice a PR exercise, vying with top corporate communicators. Take the judgment of killings on 27 July 2000 at Suchpur under Nanoor PS of Birbhum district of West Bengal. Forty-four members and sympathisers, including district committee member Ramprasad Ghosh and zonal committee members Nityanarayan Chattopadhyay, Golam Saror, Golam Mustafa and Badiujjaman were convicted for involvement in the ghastly killings of 11 landless agricultural labourers. None of them has even been suspended, let alone expelling them from the party. Party biggies from the general secretary Prakash Karat to the WB state secretary and polit bureau member Biman Bose often say they have reverence towards the judiciary, although their perception that in a class-divided society, justice is to be ‘class justice’ is judicious. But why should proven criminals be on the party roll, when the mandarins of A K Gopalan Bhavan, party’s national headquarters, boastfully talk of a continuous RC. WB party leaders assured months before the last Assembly polls in WB that hundreds of ‘corrupt’ members be thrown out out of the party. All this is remains on paper.

Such cover-up for criminals is nothing new for the CPI(M). Such incriminating verdict against CPI(M) comrades for involvement in criminal acts like murders in West Bengal is not unprecedented. It happened in Kerala too. In the Suchpur case, the Left Front government resorted to many unfair means such as adopting an ‘indifferent’ attitude towards the mysterious murder of a key witness, transfer of half a dozen judges and harassment and transfer of the investigating officer (all this happened with the approval of the former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee – – a PB member too – who held the home-police portfolio). Even Somnath Chatterjee, former Speaker of Lok Sabha and ex CPI(M) Central Committee member had a hand in preventing the trial in an indirect way – http://www.mail-archive.com/marxist-leninist-list@lists.econ.utah.edu/msg08135.html .

The leadership’s mandatory (RC) in the entire hierarchy of the party right from the spic-and-span headquarters A K Gopalan Bhavan down to the local committee office in the remotest corner of Raghunathpur in Purulia district in WB to Padmanabhapuram, near Kanyakumari, in Tamil Nadu is a last ditch effort to save the party from its disastrous state, following the worst-so-far result in the 15th Lok Sabha (2009) and the ignominious outcome in 15th West Bengal state assembly elections.

RC was adopted by the CPI(M) central committee in 1996. But previously, the rectification process was not adopted from the top”, admitted the 4800-word document, “On Rectification Campaign’ , endorsed by the Central Committee in October 2009. But it failed to “conduct the rectification campaign on a continuous and sustained basis”.

However, the disingenuous intent is explicit in the evasive stance of the AKG Bhavan leadership in blaming the ruling class for weakening and disrupting “the Party through the dilution of its ideology and character”. “Hence there is the need, the party leadership believes, “for the Communist Party to consistently counter such influences and penetration” – as if its current state bears no relation to the shackling of inner-party debate on the fierce controversies among the Marxists the world over – including many European parties – on the fault lines in application of Marxism following the collapse of the USSR and embourgeoisment in China.

Leaders agree that RC was inspired by the Yan’an Rectification Movement – Cheng Feng (CF) 1942-44 of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP). The genesis of CF is very interesting, probably not widely known among leading cadres of the party . It was a strategic cover for Mao Zedong’s own consolidation. It was in sync with ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ (spelt out in 1940), an emblem of the personality cult vying with that of J V Stalin. His cog in the wheel was Wang Ming, member of the presidium of the Executive Council of Communist International.

While CF was conceptualized at the CCP central committee in April 1943, its seeds were sown at CCP’s extended polit bureau meeting at Zunyi in 1935. There “ended the rule of Wang Ming’s ‘Left’ adventurism in the CC and established the correct leadership of the new CC, represented by Mao” , according to the History of Chinese Communist Party – A Chronology of Events (1919-1990) – Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1991, pp 94-95). In April 1943, the CCP-CC issued the ‘Decision on carrying on the Rectification’ . The document wrote, “The chief goals of CF are to correct non-proletarian trends (namely feudal, bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas) among the cadres and weed out counter-revolutionaries hidden in the party.” By counter-revolutionaries, Mao meant followers of Wang and Li Li Xan, dubbed as Trotskyites,. Pathetically enough, during the post-Lenin period , from Stalin to Gorbachev, the CPSU indulged in vilification of Leon Trotsky as if it was an ideological imperative. Official Marxists the world over –including the CPs of India – faithfully parroted the line in the name of proletarian internationalism. Trotsky, unlike Stalin and others, was next to Lenin. Rosa Luxemburg, in her famous essay’ ‘The Russian Revolution: Democracy and Dictatorship’ – her testament – described the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party – later CP of Soviet Union (Bolshevik) as ‘party of Lenin and Trotsky’. Even then it was not easy for Mao to push through the CF as the so-called –Trotskyites –had a sound theoretical foundation. He succeeded with his strategic ability at the marathon session of CCP-CC (10 Sep – 22 Oct, 1940) to drive home his point, “the ‘Left’ deviationist errors made by the CC led by Wang Ming, Bo Gu and others”. In May 1942, the PB decided to set up a five-man general study committee under the CC, led by Mao, to guide the CF. Mao didn’t have to look backward to climb up. Party historians now think that the CCP exaggerated ‘infiltration by Kuomintang’, but keep the obsession against Trotsky intact.

More than 10,000 were killed during the CF . Wang had to seek asylum in Moscow which sheltered Wang. After all, he was a member of the presidium of Executive Council of the Communist International. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Wang helped the CP of Soviet Union wage polemics against Mao and his followers. CF marked the disconnect between the legacy of the May Fourth Movement- an ‘anti-imperialist, patriotic student movement in Peking in 1919 , leading to the foundation of CCP in 1920, and Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought, Party History Research Centre now admits . Interestingly, Liu Shaoqi, mauled by Mao during the GPCR, moved the resolution incorporating Mao Zedong Thought in the party constitution at the 7th Congress of CCP (1945), as an extension of Marxism-Leninism even before 1940.

8 thoughts on “CPI(M)’s Rectification Campaign and a Bit of History: Sankar Ray”

  1. no need because in the next election they will have fewer seats in parliament. instead they should join the maoists


  2. Nothing surprising about the “enbourgeosement” of the communist parties all over the world. It is true also of all other parties which profess to bring about social change and a better lot for the workers and the downtrodden. As long as as we remained a movement
    without having to wield power, it was okay. The moment we got the power, we became as
    tempted and corrupt as any other political group. Chairman Mao could not even remain a
    clean, unblemished, selfless, benevolent head of the party. Like Stalin, he too consolidated
    his powergrip by silencing, eliminating the opposition. Finally we know now where Chinese
    communism stands today. As you rightly pointed out, both in Kerala and in Bengal the Left
    failed to usher in a fresh, clean and peoplefriendly rule thus endearing themselves to people of all board. My early teenage memories of Keralite communism is of violent and
    vociferous diatribes and attacks on those who questioned the relevance and approach of
    certain orientations of the CPI and CPM.
    I do believe that the present model of wild capitalist development (based on savage
    and anthropocentric plunder of nature and inhuman exploitation of labour) can not deliver
    the good. But what are the alternative vision or future we project before the people.? The socialists in Europe have nothing new to offer, except this infernal triad of PRODUCE/CONSUME/PRODUCE. All well meaning people in the West think that their model of ‘making progress’ and bettering people’s lives can not stand any longer. At the same time people all over the world desire to better their. conditions of life By what means
    and methods can we, the people of the socialist camp, bring about this necessary change?
    By means. I want to specify by what kind of technology and by methods I want to specify
    “organising society differently”. What should be the wellsprings from which we should draw
    our inspiration and energy?
    I have often asked myself why the communists/socialists/progressives have been so reluctant to learn from Gandhi. Wasn’t he a contemporary of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and Mao? Was he not sufficiently informed of all the political philosophies in vogue at that time?
    We can brush him off as an obscurantist, opportunist, and even a hindu-vadi. The fact remains that he was able to move and mesmerise or let us say ‘manipulate’ the Indian
    collective unconscious. Unfortunately Indian comerades still refer themselves to Lenin,
    Gramsci, and now Zizek. No, the communist ideology ( which can go very well with the pro-
    verbial Indian ideal of “high thinking and simple living”) and its Indian avatar must be able to
    appropriate ‘the know how” to move the peple of India, of all classes and there perhaps we
    will see that the Indian mind is structured by several layers many of which are the responses shooting out from what I would like to name ‘the religiosity of the Indian psyche”.
    We saw it in the much talked about and critisized anti-orruption fast led by Hazare and its
    finale. Condemn it as “populist” or “disgruntle middle class” or what have you. Has there
    been any revolution, bloodstained or nonviolent, without the participation of the middle
    classes we so hautainly frown upon? Are we not ourselves belonging to the Indian middle
    class? Even while labelling ourselves secular, atheist, agnostic, anarchist,etc., has each
    of us been able to declass ourselves? The sad truth is this: despite its half a century prese-
    nce and powersharing, neither in Kerala nor in WBegal, the Left has not created any
    lasting influence on the minds. We debate, discuss, declaim. In Kerala the left parties are
    well established in the media. But what socialist values have they been able to inject into the
    people. The caste consciousness remains as it was when Vivekananda visited Kerala years
    ago (though its manisfestation has shrunk into the space of private life and thriving there
    unhindered) Women-bashing and molestation of women in all walks of life continue alarmingly in spite of the progressive rhetoric. The marginals like the aadivasis and dalits
    have to fight it out in the face of the mounting religious fundamentalism of all board. And
    the Left in all this?


  3. If you (party) have done something wrong and feel the need to introspect and self-criticize, then is it essential that you have to buttress that decision by this or that other [foreign] party’s decisions or experience? It should be a natural realization and what is sadly lacking in Indian communist parties and groups is basic democracy. What prevents you throwing at least one or two pages of your party organ open to critical comments by readers – most of them your party members or sympathizers? I find such effort in none.


  4. Excellent one.But Shankar knows much more about cooking and culinary of Indian Communist`s kithchen which he could have incorporate with little more courage.


  5. Is the communist movement in India in such a bad shape? The article paints it in the negative all throughout its course. I wonder if it is a typical example of cheap cowardice towards a beaten party! Why can’t one remember its positives towards implementation of many pro-people programs at the Centre and its fighting the communal forces vigorously all through!


  6. The Rectification Campaign carried on by the CPM should be seen in the light it is being done.Thee should be absolutely no objection to that. It is true that the CPM has not weeded out the undesirable elements as pointed out in the above story. But the point is that in CPM you will come across all types of criminals-rapists, murderers and all others. If the party chooses to wake up now I think it should be welcome.It is true that the Left Front in which the CPM is the deciding party had to lick the dust in the recent past but it has very little to do with the communists or communism. Although CPM and CPI are known as communists, that is so in name only. People normally go by labels. Since they are in a Left Front that does not necessarily mean that they are communists. As a matter of fact they have themselves opted to be counted as Leftists only. They are many other communist parties under different names which never count CPM and CPI as communist parties. But that is another story.It is totally misleading to conclude that the communists or communism are in a bad shape in India. There are still committed communists who do not want to be clubbed with this Left Front .Leftist may not be a communist but a communist is definitely a leftist. What is the most disturbing is that the application of materialist dialectics has been lost somewhere in between the jungle of so many communist parties. It is here that the need for rethinking is. There is no dearth for the urge to do so . The formidable question is :who should bell the cat?


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