Sunday, April 23, 2006

Buddah Committed to Socialism

People's Democracy, the newspaper of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) today printed clarification of the position of Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, which was distorted by the capitalist press worldwide. It seems that the capitalists are so eager to exploit labor in LDCs that they are grabbing at any excuse to brush-off the fact that Marxists are being elected to public office worldwide:
PD: “We are trying to be friendly with the capitalists” – what does it mean? You want investment and they want profits. This is understandable, in fact a question of mutual interest. But where does the question of friendship arise?

BB: We are not seeking to be personal friends! We are trying to make the state government “investment friendly”. This is to accelerate industrialisation in West Bengal, to speed up employment generation. What was my principled position, it continues. I am trying to work accepting the present reality, drawing lessons from history taking the contemporary global context into account. Capitalism cannot be the “end of human history”. That socialism is a developed system – is a settled question. It is proven that Soviet Union had surpassed other nations not only in food production but also space expeditions, winning of Olympic medals and in [the fine arts]. But some mistakes were committed and price had to be paid for that, and it continues to be paid.

What is China doing? They are advancing by taking the present reality into account and strengthening socialism. China has stunned the contemporary world. In the first week of March, during my visit to Vietnam, I found the same confirmation of my belief. Fidel Castro who continues to be rallying point for the Cuban people and who pronounces – “Socialism or death” – has to also take into account the practical reality and make certain unconventional adjustments. America is trying to cordon Cuba to finish it off, impose intensive economic blockade. Cuba does not have oil – it had almost hit a blind alley. Today, Venezuala is sending oil and Cuba in turn is sending her doctors. The political landscape in Latin America has changed. It is the United States that is on the defensive. But Cuba was facing serious crisis. Fidel who pronounced “Socialism or death” allowed five star hotels to come up on Cuba’s Carribean coast which will be run by multinationals, western companies. Cuba secured oxygen for its sustenance based on the tourism industry. Five star hotels also bring in lot of cultural muck. Castro had to accept this – to save Cuba.

PD: Even then you have faith in socialism? Even today?

BB: Otherwise why should I be in the Communist Party? I am with the people, because I am with the Party. I have reached here through struggles. Being in the government, I may have to take certain different decisions in different circumstances. Even while working within the framework of a capitalist state, an alternative approach can be developed – this is what I believe. In the context of capitalist globalisation, we continue to firmly hold on to that belief. We think about the workers of closed factories. Although a pittance, we have decided to pay them five hundred rupees allowance. Has any other state in the country done this? We have decided to provide Provident Fund for workers/employees of the unorganised sector. We have also done something to address the concerns of employees in the construction industry. From the ideological standpoint, I firmly believe that capitalism is not a finality. Bush will not have the final say. I believe in the historic inevitability of socialism. It is the socialist ideology which will finally triumph. America has been taught an appropriate lesson once. Millions of Vietnamese poor peasants and people had defeated the mightiest military power of the world under the leadership of the Communist Party. We are continuously hearing about advances of the socialist forces from Latin America. Then, why should I lose heart?

Keeping the vision of 21st century socialism as and end-goal while working within the framework of capitalism seems to make a lot of sense in the context of global, integrated capital. I would suggest that a Marxist analysis supports this model. Indeed, why should any of us loose heart?

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