Taimur Rahman Political Archive

Long Live Marxism-Leninism!

“Broad Left” a new slogan for social-democracy

Posted by Taimur Rahman on October 8, 2008

During much of the twentieth century social-democracy was internationally defeated by Marxism-Leninism. Around the world the working class movement was dominated by communist parties. However, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the perceived defeat of Marxism-Leninism has once again offered social-democracy a new lease of life. Today we are witness to the periodic revamping of social-democracy as the “broad left” in order to resurrect their fortunes.

Marxists have identified social-democratic politics as the “bourgeois politics of the working class”. They have considered them agents of the bourgeoisie within the working class movement. Lenin declared that the struggle against imperialism was a sham if it was not combined with the struggle against opportunism within the working class (read social-democracy).

In Pakistan as well we see a revival of this social-democratic trend under a new name every few years. When I joined left wing politics there was the charcha about the National Workers Party. Three left-wing parties got together to form a new party. They said goodbye to Marxism-Leninism (although many continued to consider themselves as communists) and formed what they considered a “broad left” party.

Then the old professeran group got together and wanted to form a broad left debating forum that would eventually lead to a party. But they couldn’t agree on whether or not there was such a thing as imperialism. The result was the Awami Jamhoori Forum. I often wonder why they don’t join the NWP since their politics is scarcely any different.

Even more recently members of the communist party that had given up politics more than a decade ago decided that the time for broad left politics had come. They formed the Inqalabi Jamhoori Workers Committee and are working incessantly for a “broad left” party.

But what are the principles of this “broad left”? Each of them explain that a broad left party will not be a Marxist-Leninist party. But it will be a party that includes Marxists (or even mostly Marxists). It will only exclude anti-Marxists. In other words, it will include everyone that is centre or centre left but it will exclude right-wing people.

I once asked in a straight forward manner, will such a broad left party uphold the point of view that the emancipation of the working class requires the dictatorship of the proletariat (i.e. the class rule of the working class). I received the idiotic response that the broad left is opposed to all forms of dictatorship, whether of the proletariat, military or mullah. Now one really has to scratch one’s head and wonder where these so-called former communists have been living if they do not even understand the distinction between the concept of the dictatorship of a class and dictatorship of the bourgeois military.

Bourgeois democracy and military dictatorship are two different forms of the class rule of the bourgeoisie. As far as Marxism is concerned they are two different forms of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Similarly, the dictatorship of the working class (i.e. the class rule of the working class) can also assume different forms (ranging from the more democratic to more authoritarian).

Only those that are completely unversed in Marx’s use of the term dictatorship of the proletariat can confuse the concept with military dictatorship. One certainly does not expect those that have been members of the communist party for nearly their entire lives to make such idiotic statements. Such statements are normally the exclusive preserve of those that learn about Marxism from Time magazine or Reader’s Digest.

In sum, such a broad left party is opposed to Marxism. A working class party cannot be forged out of such confusion. It can only be forged in the ideological struggle against such confusion. Such a party would descend into complete chaos. The Marxist section would be working towards the building of an organization that is working towards the smashing of the current state. The other section would be opposed to any politics that aims at anything further than extracting concessions from the state.

Furthermore, given the stronger financial resources of the social-democrats and the support that they receive from the liberal sections of the bourgeoisie (with whom they are connected with a thousand different threads), the Marxist section of the party would not be able to dominate in such an organization. Hence, the dissolving of a Marxist party into this broad confusion would only lead to the liquidation of the Marxist vanguard.

This criticism of social-democratic politics is well-established among communists. But let us also turn to the situation in Pakistan. What are the options for a broad left organization? The National Workers Party, Labour Party, and Awami Tehreek are sitting inside the right-wing APDM. They are aligned with the most right-wing opponents of the democratic government. How can the CMKP form a broad left party with these organizations when we have a fundamental disagreement with their choice of friends and enemies. Can we form one party when they are sitting with the Jamaat e Islami and under the patronage of General Hameed Gul raising slogans against the democratic government, and we are opposing the APDM tooth and nail.

Furthermore, historically their attitude towards us has been one of hostility to the point that preferred to make an alliance with the openly pro-military (Sherpao) MKP than with the CMKP. In other words, they can sit with anyone, from the fundamentalists to the pro-military parties, but they don’t want to sit anywhere close to communists.

And what is most disturbing of all is that all of these alliances and mergers add no new forces to the left. These are the same faces that we have seen for the last two three decades. Few new people have been added to their ranks at all. In other words, all these efforts represent a reshuffling, a re-ordering of the same people but along social-democratic lines.

The CMKP is the only Marxist party that can claim to have actually broken new ground and influenced a new generation of activists. Quite frankly, this new generation of activists are completely uninspired by the defeatist social-democracy of the old left. When I walk out of their meetings I feel more depressed than when I go in. It isn’t the size of the meeting nor the age of its participants that leads to this feeling. It is the constance defeatism reiterated a thousand different ways that destroys all morale. How can one build an organization on the basis of such defeatism?

When we started our work, this defeatist left lambasted with the opinion that people will not follow a staunch Marxist party. But the last decade of struggle has revealed the exact opposite. Our ranks have grown with new young people. And the defeatist left has become liquidationist and even capitulated to the APDM in the hopes of a little lime-light.

Let us do away with the illusion of a social-democratic broad left. What we need in Pakistan is a Marxist-Leninist party. What we need in Pakistan is a Communist Party.

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