… (A) Marxism stripped of its revolutionary essence is a contradiction in terms with no reason for being and no power to survive.
— Paul M Sweezy (1983: 7)
Anuradha Ghandy (Anu as we knew her) was a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) [CPI (Maoist)]. Early on, she developed a sense of obligation to the poor; she joined them in their struggle for bread and roses, the fight for a richer and a fuller life for all. Tragically, cerebral malaria took her away in April last year. What is this spirit that made her selflessly adopt the cause of the damned of the Indian earth — the exploited, the oppressed, and the dominated — as her own? The risks of joining the Maoist long march seem far too dangerous to most people, but not for her — bold, courageous and decisive, yet kind, gentle and considerate. Perhaps her days were numbered, marked as she was on the dossiers of the Indian state’s repressive apparatus as one of the most wanted “left-wing extremists”. That oppressive, brutal structure has been executing a barbaric counter-insurgency strategy — designed to maintain the status quo — against the Maoist movement in India. What is it that is driving the Indian state, hell bent as it is to cripple and maim the spirit that inspires persons like Anu? Practically the whole Indian polity — from the semi-fascist Bharatiya Janata Party to the main affiliate of the parliamentary left, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — have pitched in against the Maoists, backing a massive planned escalation of the deployment of paramilitary-cum-armed-police, this time with logistical support from the military, to crush the rebels. It seems that sections of monopoly capital — including ArcelorMittal, the Essar Group, Vedanta Resources, Tata Steel, POSCO, and the Sajjan Jindal Group — have given an ultimatum to the state governments concerned and the union government that they will dump their proposed mining/industrial/SEZ projects if the local resistance to their business plans are not crippled once-and-for-all.
Righteous indignation against “left-wing extremism” has reached a crescendo, buttressed as it is by sections of the commercial media, with images and profiles (dished out to the fourth estate by anti-terrorist squad officers) of apprehended revolutionists a source of excitement for TV audiences. A year and a half ago, my son — lanky, unkempt, his hair dishevelled — came home from school one day to tell us that his teacher called him a Naxalite (what the Maoists are popularly called). I asked him, “How did you react?” He queried, “Daddy, who are these guys, these Naxalites?” I answered, “Well, they are rebels who resent the deep injustice meted out to the poor.” He responded, “Well then, I feel proud to be called a Naxalite”. The boy is still very young, but he will soon approach that wonderful time of his life when his urge to understand what is going on in the country and the world will be unquenchable. More recently, a malicious and vengeful advertisement by the home ministry in the newspapers painted the Maoists as “cold-blooded criminals”. May be it is time for me to consider how I will answer his question: What is Maoism?
…read the full article here.