July 19, 2008

Hey, It's A Vast Conspiracy

CPM's Stalinist ideology leads to a warped view of the world

Gautam Adhikari

It was a conspiracy, no less, a dire, globally networked plot. In an extraordinary piece of deduction, Sitaram Yechury, politburo member of the CPM, concluded in his 'Hindustan Times' column on Thursday that Manmohan Singh's ''hurry'' to take the nuclear deal to the IAEA this month came out of compelling reasons that tied together New Delhi, Tehran, Washington and — hold your breath — Tel Aviv. And we poor sods knew nothing!
Until Yechury laid it all out for us, thank you. You see, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is under pressure to quit for alleged corruption; that's why he wants to bomb Tehran to divert the Israeli Knesset's attention; US President George Bush, already facing a public outcry at home against his Iraq war, is in no position to attack Iran directly; he has, cunningly, given an amber light to Israel to carry out the dirty deed. So? Where does New Delhi fit in? Ah, Uncle Sitaram can explain all.
''If such an attack on Iran happens, then it would be virtually impossible to 'sell' the go-ahead to sections of the Congress and the UPA allies '' writes Yechury. ''This explains the desperate hurry to move ahead.''
Huh? I mean, does Manmohan's wife know? Will someone please check whether Bush called her to get her husband to run to Vienna with the deal? And what about the French? Or the Russians? They support the deal. Why? Could they be in league with Olmert?
''Arrey, no,'' said my knowledgeable buddy Jahangir. ''Yechury knows zilch. I'll tell you what happened. It's all Lalit Modi. The Americans said they won't send any cheerleaders to the next IPL unless the deal was signed. So, Modi got the PM to hurry up.'' Hmm. That sounded as plausible a thesis as Yechury's. Now, which one do we simple folk believe?
Seriously, we as a nation are in trouble if the level of political debate in this country can come down to such a dumb depth. Yechury is no run-of-the-mill hack. He is a product of St Stephen's and Jawaharlal Nehru University, a powerful voice in his party's politburo, and widely admired not just as an intellectual but as a man of wit and charm. So, unless he was being charmingly witty, how could he write such nonsense with a straight face?
The answer, alas, may lie in his religion or what in polite company is called ideology. Every religious doctrine is an ideology and the CPM's Stalinist brand of Marxism is little more than a religious belief-system. Remember, it remains one of those rare communist or socialist parties in the world —North Korea's is another — that is obtuse enough to display Josef Stalin's portraits in its offices despite the effort by almost every other Marxist party or group in the world to distance itself from the diabolical record of the late Soviet tyrant. But, how does it matter for us?
It matters in two ways. Such unreconstructed Stalinists — as the majority of members of the CPM are — tend to understand the movement of world history in a simplistic version of 'historical materialism', the way it was outlined by Stalin for the general masses in a thin Soviet booklet. That leads them to believe (a) in vast class conspiracies, which span the globe; and (b) in the inevitable arrival — after a brief detour through socialism — of their version of the communist paradise, where we shall all live ever after in happiness and cooperation, having liberated the world from the shackles of class conflict that so debilitates this exploitative and oppressive system called capitalism.
The problem is this kind of thinking leads them, first, to deconstruct all reality and reconstruct it in a framework of conspiracy that only needs to be explained for all of us to understand the progress of history. Thus, Yechury sees — in brilliant hindsight, of course — every link in a chain connecting those evil forces of the world that want the US-India nuclear deal out of selfish class interest. He doesn't ask before constructing his thesis whether Manmohan Singh wasn't in fact trying to take the deal to the IAEA for several months, and not just in the past two weeks, and that he was being held back by the Left. Surely, trying to close a deal over almost a year doesn't qualify as ''being in a hurry''.
But, no, everything is class-interest directed, therefore devious, mere plots to subjugate the innocent and the naive who haven't experienced the epiphany that communists have. They occupy a lofty moral summit on a hill that we gentiles cannot climb.
Secondly, they believe deep in their hearts that the tenure of precommunist societies is limited, soon to be overwhelmed by the inevitable contradictions of capitalism. It will give way initially to a necessary yamalaya of socialism and then it'll be Eden. That all such talk went out of the earth's atmosphere in most of the inhabited globe since the end of the Soviet Union — indeed, even earlier at a theoretical plane — does not bother our Stalinists. They know they have to build coalitions in this temporary phase of sham democracy before socialism arrives — their so-called united front theory — but they can merrily generate instability in that phase, because it is maya any way. Creating instability in an unjust and oppressive system doesn't count as irresponsible politics. It's actually quite desirable.
C'mon, give us a break, will you?

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