On 19th September 2009 a national meeting to commemorate the life and work of comrade Moni Guha was organised at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.
Comrade Moni Guha was a veteran communist revolutionary whose political activity spanned more than eighty years coming into contact with the titans of the movement such as M.N. Roy, Muzaffar Ahmad, Abdul Halim, B.T. Ranadive, Charu Majumdar, and Nagi Reddy. He was amongst the first in India to oppose the 20th Congress of the CPSU within weeks of its being held. Later he was to spearhead the critique of the theory of three worlds. Comrade Guha passed away on 7th April 2009, at Kolkata, he was 95.
The meeting started at 10:00 AM, Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee of Delhi University was requested to chair the proceedings with comrade Vijay Singh, Dr Tripta Wahi, comrade P.K. Sahi and comrade Partho Sarkar present on the dais. Other comrades who shared the dais at the meeting were Arjun Prasad Singh, Malem Ningthouja, Satyam Verma, Shamsul Islam and others.
The meeting which was attended by representatives of major communist parties organisation and individuals started with Abhinav of Bigul Mazdoor Dasta singing a revolutionary song in Bengali. This was followed by a reading of messages of tribute, condolences and reminiscences to comrade Moni Guha from Communist parties, organisations and individuals from all over the world. (Some of these are published elsewhere in this issue of the journal.)
Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee (Delhi University) as chair spoke about the contribution and distinct role played by Moni Guha in the Indian communist Movement and particularly in exposing and fighting against revisionism. He called him a fellow traveller and a comrade who lived up to the ideals of communism.
Subodh Mitra, CPI (ML): Comrade Moni Guha (our Monida) left us forever on 7th April 2009 at the age of 95. Born in a lower middle class Bengali family, he could not continue his studies due to his family’s poor economic condition. He was a self-educated comrade and became a distinguished Marxist theoretician in the communist movement in India. At a very early age he got involved in the freedom movement and became an activist of the Anushilan Party in Faridpur. He was arrested and sent to Jail. During his Jail life he started educating himself and very soon he came in contact with communist leaders. He soon changed his way of life and became a communist.
During the Tebhaga movement he was very active. Com. Monida was one of the few comrades who stood against Khrushchev’s revisionist line of the 20th Congress and published a leaflet exposing the essence of the secret speech of Khrushchev in 1956. He was charged with anti-party activity and finally expelled from the CPI by the West Bengal leadership. In 1965 when the CPI (M) was formed Com. Monida was not the part of it. From outside he was continuing his ideological struggle. Later he came in close touch with Com. T.N. Nagi Reddy and Com D.V. Rao. In April 1975 under the leadership of Com. D.V. and Com. T.N. the Unity Committee of Communist Revolutionaries of India (Marxist-Leninist) [UCCRI (ML)] was formed through a unity conference. Comrade Moni Guha was elected as Central Committee member. He was elected General Secretary of the UCCRI (ML) in place of Com. D.V. at the end of 1976. Under the joint editorship of Com. D.V. Rao and Com. Moni Guha Proletarian Path started appearing as an organ of communist revolutionaries. Proletarian Path played a leading role in consolidating the communist revolutionaries at an all-India level and conducting ideological struggles. Suddenly he left the organisation and since 1978 April after leaving us he shifted from his earlier position and denounced Three World’s theory – Mao Tse Tung thought and advocated the view that India has become a predominantly capitalist country and thereby the stage of revolution in India will be a socialist one. Till his death he remained loyal to this understanding.
Com. Guha was a voracious reader, a patient listener and an intelligent critic. He had an unique strength in continuing his search and research. Sometimes, he felt the pain of isolation, but still continued his thirst for ‘truth’. He was a lifelong communist, not only through his theoretical understanding and acumen, but also through his passion, commitment and conviction. Not only us, but also the Indian Marxist movement has lost one of its finest products and bearers. We and personally myself deeply mourn the death of veteran Communist leader, Comrade Moni Guha. No doubt we have fundamental differences with his present understanding but he forced us to study these subjects. We will never forget his role and his association with us. It is not only a personal loss but the loss for Marxist polemical debate. Com. Monida in spite of our fundamental differences will live in our heart as a Communist. *
Dr. Tripta Wahi (Delhi University): Moni Guha was simple unassuming personality. He had to face lots of difficulties in his life. He had very little financial means. He was one of the founder members of the India-Albania Friendship Association in 1978. This was a time when the Party of Albania was fighting against the revisionism of both the USSR and China. He was a revolutionary in an age of counter-revolution. This was a very difficult situation. When one is revolutionary one wants a revolutionary situation. The task that he made the central focus of his life was the fight against the revisionism of the dominating Communist parties.
C.N. Subramanian (RD): Monida was above all a revolutionary who placed the study and elaboration of revolutionary theory strongly on our agenda. He firmly applied Stalin’s principle of treating theory as a guide to action. We were often in strong disagreement with him, but could never question the seriousness and revolutionary integrity of his point of view. He was among the initiators of the Great Debate of the 1960s. As he grew critical of the economic and political policies of CPSU he also realised that modern revisionism was rooted in bourgeois nationalism. He traced it to Titoism and saw that it had strong links with the practice of CPC and Mao himself. When the PLA denounced the Tripartite Division of the modern world promoted by the CPC, and some of us propagated this critique in India, Comrade Guha sought us out to discuss the implications of these theoretical developments. *
Ashim Roy (General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative): Moni Guha was a communist polemicist at its best, always in the front line of a debate within the communist tradition. His passion for Marxism should inspire all of us. Of all ideologies, Marxism has the power to create intellectuals out of the wretched of the earth, and fine minds out of thinking people. MG embodied this fact, this passion for knowledge that is in the power of Marxism. Neither deprivation nor political marginalisation ever deterred him from, or brought any bitterness to, this commitment to Marxism. He remained true to the tradition of Marxist intellectuals. For this alone he needs to be saluted. It is unfortunate, that the revolutionary movement in India does not have a space that could draw him out of his cocoon in his later years when he underwent isolation, and engage his intellectual capability to build a discourse spanning the fragmented communist revolutionaries, and allow each to draw its own lessons. The relevance of bourgeois nationalism in the origin of modern revisionism, the various manifestations of these trends in Communist Parties and the Yugoslav Question will become validated as historical facts. MG will be remembered.*
Gautam Sen (Editor, Mukti Mazdoor): After the emergency was over, we, along with a number of comrades from different groups, started publishing a polemical paper in Bengali. Though our common unity and activity did not last beyond certain time, I still cherish those days of ‘unity and struggle’. Com. Guha was a voracious reader, a patient listener and an intelligent critic. He had an unique strength in continuing his search and research. Sometimes, he felt the pain of isolation, but still continued his thirst for ‘truth’. He was a lifelong communist, not only through his theoretical understanding and acumen, but also through his passion, commitment and conviction. We and personally myself deeply mourn the death of veteran Communist leader, Comrade Moni Guha.*
P.K. Sahi (CPI-ML-Kanu Sanyal Group): Comrade Moni Guha was one of the outstanding communists, though he did not have a high formal degree he was self taught man who understood the essence of Marxism to the core. Moni Guha’s life teaches us that to know and understand Marxism it is not necessary to have academic degrees.
Gopal Bhattacharya (Proletarian Path) said that Moni Guha analysed that it was Khrushchev and the Communist Party of China that together constituted modern revisionism. He further said that comrade Guha analysed the economic basis of modern revisionism as it unfolded. Comrade Guha despite his advanced age worked on the problems plaguing the communist movement in the international arena. Moni Guha was one of the first to criticise the 20th Party Congress and termed it as revisionist, even when Mao and Hoxha had termed it as revolutionary. In the pages of Proletarian Path Com. Guha defined and dealt with the origin and growth of Modern Revisionism. *
Abhinav Sinha (Bigul Mazdoor Dasta): We have been reading Moni Guha’s polemics and articles and we today are feeling the loss of his departure. This loss is not only felt by us but by the entire Indian Communist Movement. Moni Guha was a generation builder and mentor for an entire gamut of the communist leaders. We were not convinced by many of his theses. Yet his passing at this juncture where there is a stagnation in the Indian communist movement is all the more being felt. We would always say that he would be with us forever through his work and contribution that he made to the Indian Communist Movement.
Prakash Rao (CGPI): We had several discussion with Moni Guha particularly on party building and on other various theoretical and practical issues of the communist movement. Though we differed on several issues we consider Moni Guha as a great fighter of the communist movement. We had a discussion with him on building a communist Party, he was of the opinion that first we should agree on theoretical formulation then go on for the formation of a communist Party, while we thought that we should first form a communist party then discuss about the theory. So the discussion could not move forward.
Shamsul Islam (Nishant Natya Manch): I have been associated with the Maoist movement since 1966-67, when there was no sign of CPI ML. At that time we used to consider Moni Guha as somewhat as an anathema due to his stand taken on Mao. His stand on third world theory particularly made him a persona non grata for those adhering to the Mao line. We went to Kanpur to disrupt a meeting where this question was to be discussed. But now we know how correct some of his stands were which at that time we were not able to understand.
Partho Sarkar (Communist Centre of India): After the 20th CPSU party congress Moni Guha in a journal wrote critiques of the 3 Ps Peaceful coexistence, Peaceful transition and Peaceful competition, the points raised by Moni Guha today have become all the more necessary for the Indian communist Movement to know. Moni Guha was with us for 10 years, and we together published Proletarian Path where he pointed out the limitation of world revolution not occurring. He raised questions on Mao-Tse-Tung deviations and the nationalist/revisionist strand in it. We have to get ourself familiarised with the various questions that he raised and we have to analyse and discuss on the thoughts of Moni Guha more seriously and vigorously.
Satyam Verma (Rahul Foundation): We are fortunate enough to have been able to read the works of comrade Moni Guha and we can say that his analysis had a profound impact on our thinking though we differed with him on many aspects. He was one of the most vocal critics of revisionism and all sorts of anti-Marxist deviations that crept in the international communist movement after the 20th CPSU party congress.
Pratyush (Janpaksh): Comrade Guha was veteran of the Indian communist movement who devoted almost eighty years of his life upholding the banner of Marxism Leninism and fighting the revisionist rodents who had entered in the International Communist Movement. Comrade Guha always strove for organising groups of comrades who really understood the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism and who would be a ‘class-for-itself’ and not just ‘class-in-itself’. It is a remarkable testimony to his personal and political qualities that he was held in high esteem even by his critics. It goes to comrade Moni Guha’s analytical prowess that he was among the first few who understood the revisionist strands in the 20th Congress of the CPSU within weeks of the event, when other communist intellectuals and parties were still trying to interpret the emerging phenomenon.
His work ‘Revisionism against Revisionism’ is a brilliant piece of Marxist analysis where comrade Guha meticulously exposed the deviations almost amounting to revisionism in Mao’s and the CPC’s struggle with CPSU, that he termed as a struggle between two revisionisms.
Manobhanjan Meher (Janpaksh): Comrade Moni Guha was a veteran anti-revisionist Marxist Leninist whose political activity spanned about eighty years. The death of comrade Moni Guha is great loss not only to the Indian Marxist-Leninists but also to the international communist movement. At a very young age comrade Guha took part in the freedom struggle of India and came in contact with M.N. Roy, M. Ahmed, B.T. Ranadive, and later Charu Mazumdar and T. Nagi Reddy. Besides being the first to criticise the 20th CPSU Party Congress he was the only Indian Marxist-Leninist to oppose the counter revolutionary ‘Three Worlds Theory’ in 1978, propagated by the Communist Party of China. He was a stern critic of the revisionist leadership of the CPI, CPI (M) and the left-sectarian leadership of CPI (ML). His major theoretical contribution to the international communist movement includes: (i) Critique of the 20th congress (ii) Why was Stalin Denigrated and Made a Controversial Figure? (iii) Yugoslav Revisionism and the Role of the CPSU and CPC, and (iv) Revisionism against Revisionism. A number of his writings are considered classics of contemporary Marxism.
Vijay Singh (RD) briefly recalled the life of comrade Moni Guha and his fight against revisionism and opportunism.
* A number of comrades who could not be present in New Delhi had their
contributions read by others. The meeting ended with screening of the
classic Soviet silent film on collectivisation “Earth” (1930) directed by Alexandr Dovzhenko. This film is considered one of the leading films of all time.
We are honoured to join Indian revolutionaries and comrades from all over the world in paying tribute to the life and work of Moni Guha, an outstanding Indian communist who devoted his life to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class.
Moni Guha took a principled stand on all the great issues that faced Indian communists and international communist movement during his long life. He was one of the first to condemn the 20th Congress of the CPSU and he always upheld the Bolshevik achievements of Lenin and Stalin. He was a stern opponent of revisionism, dogmatism and ultra-left sectarianism which weakened and divided the movement in India and throughout the world and he worked tirelessly to develop Marxism-Leninist understanding throughout his life.
Though Moni Guha’s works are not widely known in Britain outside the Indian community our tribute and pledge is to study his works and make them accessible to the British communist movement.
Convinced of the ultimate victory of the working class the New Communist Party of Britain joined hands with all Indian communists in this moment of remembrance and rededication to the communist cause.
Yours fraternally,Andy Brooks
We believe that political line decides everything and the political line of Moni Guha distinguished him from others in India. Although we and our associates in India did not always agree with him entirely but we respect him as he took stands on several occasions in front of the titans of the CPI and CPI (M). And we know the cost of such stands. He made the transition from revolutionary nationalism to the communist movement in jail and became a leading activist of the CPI. He will be remembered for his pioneering Marxist criticism of the closed speech of Khrushchev shortly after it was made in February 1956. In the struggle against modern revisionism in the 1960s he stressed the importance of the 1951 documents of the CPI in terms of the party programme for People’s Democracy, and the tactical and military line of the Indian revolution. He made notable contributions in the defence of Stalin from the revisionists of the right and ‘left’. He was a major contemporary critic of the tactic of individual terrorism in the villages and towns and the abandonment of trade union work and the mass line in town and country which has been a persistent hurdle for the communist movement in the last four decades. He was a stern supporter of Marxist political economy making invaluable scientific criticism of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR. He made yet one more pioneering theoretical contribution by his critique of the pro-US imperialist ‘Theory of Three Worlds’ which was advocated by the Communist Party of China in the late Mao period. He became a founder member and stalwart supporter of the India-Albania Friendship Association. However, his support in his autumnal years for the reformist notions that capitalism had developed in the Indian economy and that the pre-conditions existed for a direct transition to socialist revolution were a setback for the developing Marxist-Leninist current in India. We welcome the efforts of Comrade Vijay Singh who through the journal Revolutionary Democracy has highlighted the struggle and different aspects of Comrade Moni Guha’s life and work.
Red Salute to Moni Guha’s Struggles!Tufail Abbas
Comrade Moni Guha (our Monida) left us forever on 7th April 2009 at the age of 95. He was born in Madaripur, Faridpur district in Bangladesh in the year of 1914. He was born in a lower middle class Bengali family. Because of his family’s poor economic condition he could not continue his studies and at the very early age of 12 he left school. Comrade Monida was one of the rare comrades who never had any formal education, he was a self-educated comrade and became a distinguished Marxist theoretician in the communist movement in India.
At a very early age he got involved in the freedom movement and became an activist of the Anushilan Party in Faridpur. He was arrested and sent to Jail. During his Jail life he started educating himself and very soon he came in contact with communist leaders. He soon changed his way of life and became a communist.
Released from Jail he joined the communist movement and got the party membership in the early 1940s. After 1947 he shifted to Kolkata. As an activist he started working under the communist party and came in close contact with Abdul Halim and Muzaffar Ahmed.
During the Tebhaga movement he was very active. During this period he was arrested and spent a few years in Jail. After coming out from there he started organising factory workers in the Garden Reach Area of Kolkata.
He took part in the inner party debate inside the CPI.
Com. Monida was one of the few comrades who stood against Khrushchev’s revisionist line of the 20th Congress and published a leaflet exposing the essence of the secret speech of Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956. He had written an article exposing the 20th Congress and in defence of Stalin which he subsequently distributed among communist ranks on the eve of the 1958 CPI Congress. He was charged with anti-party activity and finally expelled from the CPI by the West Bengal leadership.
For a long time he was outside the communist party but was very active in the ideological struggle against revisionism. He was keeping close links with the Communist Revolutionary section within the Communist Party.
In 1965 the CPI (M) was formed but Com. Monida was not the part of it. From outside he was continuing his ideological struggle.
After the Naxalbari uprising the Communist Revolutionaries formed the All-India Co-ordination Committee of Revolutionaries of the CPI (M) in November 1977 and subsequently in 1968 the All-India Communist Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries was formed in order to consolidate the communist revolutionary forces and to co-ordinate the ideological-political and practical struggles that were spreading all over India. Under the leadership of Comrade T. Nagi Reddy and D.V. Rao, the majority of the party membership of Andhra Pradesh had revolted against the revisionist central leadership of the CPI (M) and joined the AICCR. In West Bengal Comrades Promod Sengupta, Asit Sen, Banabehari Chakravarty, Parimal Das Gupta and Sushital Raichoudhury became the theoretical leaders of the struggle against revisionism.
Within a year of the formation of the AICCR the ideological struggle against the ultra-left line of Charu Majumdar started as result of which the majority hurriedly formed the CPI (ML) in early 1969 and Comrades Asit Sen, Promod Sengupta, Parimal Dasgupta, Nagi Reddy, D.V. Rao had to form their own organisation for conducting ideological-political and revolutionary mass struggles.
This situation led to the emergence of several Communist Revolutionary groups outside the CPI (ML).
During this period Com. Monida came in close touch with Com. T.N. Nagi Reddy and Com D.V. Rao. With the help of the Andhra Pradesh comrades under the leadership of Com. Moni Guha, Com. Sunil Sen Gupta, and Com. Shanti Rai of the West Bengal Co-ordination Committee of Revolutionaries had come to existence. Under the joint editorship of Com. D.V. Rao and Com. Moni Guha Proletarian Path started appearing as an organ of communist revolutionaries. Proletarian Path played a leading role in consolidating the communist revolutionaries at an all-India level and conducting ideological struggles. During this period (1969-74) Com Monida had written several theoretical articles in defence of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Thought and propagated the stage of the New Democratic Revolution and its concrete application in Indian conditions.
I had come in contact with Com. Moni Guha during this period only. I had the great opportunity to work with him and to know him closely. I had 10 years of long active association (1969-78) with Com Monida. In 1975 under the leadership of Com. D.V. and Com. T.N. three communist revolutionary groups, namely the Andhra Pradesh Committee of Communist Revolutionaries, the West Bengal Co-ordination of Revolutionaries, and the All India Preparatory Committee of CUC (ML) had merged and formed the Unity Committee of Communist Revolutionaries of India (Marxist-Leninist) (UCCRI (ML)) in April 1975 through an unity conference. From this conference a five member Central Committee was elected with Com. D.V. Rao as General Secretary. This five member CC was know as the ‘Panch Pandal’: Com. Sahadev (DV), Com. Dharma (Anil Mukherjee), Com. Bhima (Com. T. Nagi Reddy), Com. Nakul (Com. Moni Guha) and Com. Arjun (Subodh Mitra). Among the five members I am the only one living; all of the others have gone away from us forever.
Com Monida had taken an important role in drafting the basic documents of the UCCRI (ML).
When the internal emergency was proclaimed by Indira Gandhi in June 1975 the entire Central Committee and organisation went underground.
During this period Com. Monida was defending Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse Tung thought and accepted the line of New Democratic Revolution.
He had written many articles in defence of Marxism-Leninism and Mao thought.
In 1975 Com. T.N’s sudden demise was a great blow to our organisation. During this period the difference started with Com. DV on the question of the implementation of Democratic Centralism in the process of party building. Serious differences cropped up inside the Central Committee which led to a subsequent split. Com. Moni Guha was elected General Secretary of the UCCRI (ML) in place of Com. D.V. at the end of 1976.
In 1977 the UCCRI (ML) led by Com. Monida had successfully held its 2nd All India Conference which unanimously adopted the document on the Path of Revolution and ratified the documents. In that conference Com Moni Guha had defended Mao Tse Tung and his Three World’s theory. He also had defended the present stage of revolution as New Democratic Revolution and put forward a theoretical article on party building in Guide and in Spark.
He took a leading role in unity talks with other communist revolutionary groups and also struggled to expose the revisionist expression of some communist revolutionary groups during the period of 1977-78. He was very much critical about SNS’s line of Patriotic Democratic Regime’s theory and wrote a long article against such wrong understanding in the Guide. During that period he explained the New Democratic Revolution and its various phases.
He was underground till April 1978 as a leader of the UCCRI (ML) but suddenly Com. Monida left the Centre and disassociated himself from the organisation.
After April 1978 Com. Monida denounced Three World’s Theory and Mao Tse Tung and propagated the line of Albania and its leader Enver Hoxha.
During my long association I had a very warm close comradely personal relationship with him. Many a time I fought with him. Com. Monida used to live in our Central Commune in Delhi. In that commune life we had learnt to live as communists. He was very active and travelled throughout India and took part in party activities. He used to study regularly. In the Central Committee he used to take the study circles of junior comrades.
Com. Monida despite of our fundamental differences will live in our heart as a Communist.
Since 1978 April after leaving us Com. Monida had shifted from his earlier position and denounced Three World’s theory - Mao Tse Tung thought and advocated the view that India has become a predominantly capitalist country and thereby the stage of revolution in India will be a socialist one. Till his death he remain loyal to this understanding
No doubt we have fundamental differences with his present understanding but he forced us to study these subjects. We will never forget his role and his association with us. It is not only a personal loss but the loss for Marxist polemical debate.
I suggest before this meeting to collect all his published and unpublished documents, articles and polemical articles and publish them which will be valuable reference material.
Let us organise memorial lectures in his memory every year where we can exchange our study, understanding and activities freely and openly which may help us to gain strength.
Lal Salaam to Com Monida.
The author is Member of the Central Committee of the CPI (ML).
Dear Comrade Vijay Singh
You have been asking me to write an obituary on Moni Guha and I have been procrastinating mainly because I knew him very briefly and in circumstances where I cannot do any justice to the man, his life or his politics. So, what I have to say is extremely superficial. Still, as you insist, I am putting down what I remember.
I met Com. Moni Guha in 1977 after the Emergency was lifted. The UCCRI-ML, of which I was a member, was underground. I had just come out of jail and was underground and based at the headquarters in a small town outside Hardwar in Uttar Pradesh. The party had rented a small house where two-three of us full-timers stayed and ran the office. As you can imagine, we kept a very low profile and had to maintain great secrecy at all times. From this office the senior comrades coordinated the party work and brought out the party circulars and organs. I was involved in the latter and spent many hours typing, painfully writing circulars and cutting stencils for cyclostyling. Painfully, because many of those hand-written circulars had as many as 8-10 carbon copies at one time and so a lot of strength was needed to see that they were all legible. I still bear a hard callous on my middle finger as proof of my labour!
Into this setting Com. Moni Guha and his wife appeared and stayed for a couple of months. He would also go on tour now and then for a few days. We were all underground so did not use our real names so he was called Comrade Amal, his wife was given the name Seema while my name at that time was Jyoti. Now, you also have to remember that we all had to be very discreet and juniors, like me, were not expected or encouraged to show curiosity or ask any questions. His days were occupied in reading and writing and he and other leaders had intense discussions that went on for hours, sometimes all night and often got extremely heated. (You’ll be glad to know that I often heard the word Albania spoken in the course of these debates!) Much of this was conducted in Bangla which I do not understand. My contributions to these polemics was to type/write what they asked me to and to cook meals or make innumerable cups of tea for them and otherwise, to stay out of their way!
Comrade Guha’s wife and I were unable to communicate to any extent because she couldn’t speak English or Hindi and I couldn’t speak Bangla. But she was not a cheerful person and was constantly squabbling and bickering with him. About what, I couldn’t possibly tell because it was all in Bangla. She certainly looked after him in the manner of a good Hindu wife and cooked, served him, washed his clothes etc. but she was not politically inclined, did not participate in any party work, practical or theoretical and could not understand or participate in his political life. All in all, she seemed a very unhappy Krupskaya to his Lenin!
About this time the UCCRI-ML held its National Conference and Comrade Guha was elected General Secretary of the party after Com. D.V. Rao split and left the party. Com. Guha was an intellectual and stayed lost in his world of papers, books and writings. The one thing that stood out was he was a snuff addict. In fact, the first one I knew and I was rather fascinated and taken aback by the quantities and frequency of this habit which had not just discoloured his finger tips but his right nostril which was blackened and distended.
What I remember about Comrade Guha was that he was generally soft-spoken, patient and polite and made no demands on us (apart from the innumerable cups of tea which we were happy to ply him with). I got the impression that he did not do any mass work or have much experience in practical party work but concentrated mainly on his theoretical politics. As I said, he did not stay with us very long and a few months later I heard that he had left the Party.Jaipur
The author is the President of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association.
Moni Guha was a communist, who will be remembered by all who encountered him. You may agree or disagree with him, but any conversation with him could never be dull or dry. It would be sharp, insightful and anecdotal. And if it is long, it would inevitably lead to alleys of communist history that are long forgotten. It would also turn polemical. That was MG, communist polemicist at its best, always in the front line of a debate within the communist tradition. His passion for Marxism should inspire all of us.
Of all ideologies, Marxism has the power to create intellectuals out of the wretched of the earth, and fine minds out of thinking people. MG embodied this fact, this passion for knowledge that is in the power of Marxism. MG, not even a school finalist, was, in his youth, drawn over into Marxism from Anushilan by force of reason. He learned a new language to grasp and absorb the new continent of thought. It was a passionate engagement that remained till his death. Neither deprivation nor political marginalisation ever deterred him from, or brought any bitterness to, this commitment to Marxism. He remained true to the tradition of Marxist intellectuals. For this alone he needs to be saluted.
More important, he cannot be forgotten. For any historian, looking into communist history in India or internationally will tumble into his name. He was among the rare communists, who in 1956, even before the news of secret speech of Khrushchev reached the corners of the communist movement, sensed the coming of the new revisionist avalanche. He was among the first few, to identify this revisionism with the ideology of anti- Stalinism. He drew this conclusion, not out of some deference for Comrade Stalin, but from the new political line developing at the behest of Comrade Stalin.
In the aftermath of Second World War, People Democracies had emerged in many countries in Europe. The International Communist Movement was faced with a new situation and new tasks. First, to build peoples’ democracy as a form of proletarian state power. Second, the transition from socialism in one country to the Socialist Camp: to build the economic, political and cultural relationship between socialist nations, and third struggle for independent development of the ex-colonial countries. As a result, the contradiction between imperialism and the socialist camp became the principal contradiction and bourgeois nationalism among the socialist camp was the principal aspect of this contradiction. Stalin laid the policy for the consolidation of the socialist camp and identified the bourgeois nationalist trend among communist parties as the main right wing deviation. COMINFORM was formed and Yugoslav expulsion from it represented the full manifestation of this deviation.
MG understood that under the rhetoric of anti-Stalinism, a rapprochement with Yugoslav revisionism was in the offing, a step before the rapprochement with imperialism itself. It is to the credit of MG that he foregrounded the bourgeois nationalist trend as the main theoretical basis of modern revisionism and evaluated all anti-revisionist struggle on that touchstone. He never vacillated on the issue of the Yugoslav question.
MG understood well the fact the struggle against revisionism has to have a positive content: a revolutionary demarcation within the Indian communist movement. With the Naxalbari uprising, the agrarian revolutionary movement became the axis of polarisation. He became a part of communist coordination, but the deep study of communist history, in particular the anti-fascist struggle in Europe, made him see the relevance of mass work and electoral work. The Naxalbari moment for all it weakness and sacrifice struck its roots among the class it espoused: the landless peasant, and has remain entrenched in that class. MG became a part of a revolutionary trend trying to build communist mass work. But for all their achievement, it could not integrate the three forms of struggle; mass, electoral and armed struggle. These issues still remain unresolved and divide the revolutionary movement.
The disintegration of that revolutionary communist trend, to which he belonged, increased his distance from the problems of the revolutionary movement. As Engels said, sects are sometimes necessary to preserve a theory or a revolutionary tradition. But they have to overcome themselves, transcend into the revolutionary movement of its time to become force of change. For a revolutionary intellectual, the theoretical object emanates from the terrain of the actual economic and political struggle of the masses. But when boundaries become hard, and refuse osmosis from the real world, even the best intellectuals begin to chew over the theoretical concerns of only the sect’s tradition. After giving us some brilliant insights to the development of modern revisionism, MG returned to a sterile terrain. He remained a Marxist intellectual, cocooned.
It is unfortunate, that the revolutionary movement in India does not have a space that could draw him out this cocoon, engage his intellectual capability to build a discourse spanning the fragmented Communist Revolutionaries, and allow each to draw its own lessons. Such a format is conducive to rebuilding the revolutionary communist intellegentsia. Can MG’s tragic marginalisation, like many other Marxist intellectuals in history, make us see a democratic way: a rational framework for a revolutionary debate?
MG lived a life of a communist revolutionary with commitment, firm to his theoretical position that he drew from the analysis and study of communist history. Many may have to revise. But as the international communist movement regains its strength, it will return to study its history. The relevance of bourgeois nationalism in the origin of modern revisionism, the various manifestations of these trends in the Communist Parties and the Yugoslav question will become validated as historical facts. MG will be remembered.
The author is General Secretary of the New Trade Union Initiative.
I cannot claim to have been associated with Monida closely or even studied his works carefully enough. I met him a few times since the late seventies when he came to meet us and read many of his writings which influenced me considerably and helped me to evolve my own theoretical perspective. I lost touch for a number of years till I got to read his polemics on the stage of revolution in India. I was greatly impressed by the sagacity of his critique of Irfan Habib on the question of relation between human societies and nature, which turned out to be one of his last works. Some months ago Comrade Vijay Singh called me to tell me that Comrade Guha was dying in Calcutta and that I should call him to bid him farewell. That was when I had read Monida’s critique of Habib. I called his home and his relatives were kind enough to give the phone to Monida and I tried to talk to him. He probably recognised me, but talked to me in Bangla, which I did not understand. He passed away some weeks later.
As I see him, Monida was above all a revolutionary who placed the study and elaboration of revolutionary theory strongly on our agenda. He firmly applied Stalin’s principle of treating theory as a guide to action. We were often in strong disagreement with him, but could never question the seriousness and revolutionary integrity of his point of view.
Monida’s unique theoretical journey began when he wrote his critique of the 20th Congress of CPSU way back in 1956. He was thus among the initiators of the Great Debate of the 1960s. As he grew critical of the economic and political policies of the CPSU he also realised that modern revisionism was rooted in bourgeois nationalism. He traced it to Titoism and saw that it had strong links with the practice of CPC and Mao himself. When the Party of Labour of Albania denounced the Tripartite Division of the modern world promoted by the CPC, and some of us propagated this critique in India, Comrade Guha sought us out to discuss the implications of these theoretical developments.
Within the Indian Communist Movement he was a part of the stream that wanted to pursue a revolutionary path without subscribing to the views of individual annihilation or individual terror and which insisted on building a revolutionary trade union movement among urban industrial workers parallel to the peasant movement. Here too he stuck to the classical Marxist Leninist principles of mobilising the masses for revolutionary change and not reducing the issue of use of force in revolution to terror or violence against class enemies.
The pages of Proletarian Path and Revolutionary Democracy carried our debate on stage of revolution in the subcontinent. We were not in agreement with him that the democratic agenda of revolution has been weakened by economic development and now subsumed under the socialist agenda.
His last theoretical engagement was in defence of Engels’ famous formulation ‘recognition of necessity is freedom’. He saw a dangerous deviation from Marxist principles in Irfan Habib’s dismissal of Engels’ formulation. As Monida argued, Marxism demanded understanding the laws of nature and adapting human life to them rather than trying to dominate and transform nature. Marx too had repeatedly pointed out the disastrous consequences of trying to tamper with nature and also the impact of modern industrialisation on the earth as a habitat. Dialectical Materialism meant neither the silent acceptance of nature nor an attempt at subjugation and transformation of nature. He argued that the position of Habib was idealist and went against the core of materialist philosophy. He also made a significant clarification that the essence of communism lay not in ‘material abundance’ but in human society being able to exercise its will without being shackled by its product (Capital) standing above it. Monida was penning these down when he was in his nineties having spent over 80 years in the movement. One can only be impressed by the clarity of his vision and the depth of his theoretical work.
It was a matter of special privilege to me to know that Monida read my articles in RD carefully and often expressed his approval.
In retrospect one can see that the principal form of modern revisionism in the post World War II period consisted in the defence of increasing the role of commodity production in labour/resource allocation and bourgeois nationalism. These two trends had crystallised by 1948-52 and had been critiqued by Stalin and the Cominform in no uncertain terms.
The Great Debate identified many aspects of this issue but did not get to the heart of the problem. In the eighth decade of the last century Proletarian Path edited by Moni Guha and Revolutionary Democracy focussed attention on these two issues. While Revolutionary Democracy had an important role in uncovering the process of restoration of the central role of commodity production in the erstwhile socialist countries and the theoretical justification of this process Proletarian Path focussed on the resurgence of bourgeois nationalism within the communist movement undermining Proletarian Internationalism.
Comrade Guha often pointed out the deep connections between the two dimensions. If the role of commodity production as the main mechanism for allocation of labour and resources had to be eliminated the only way it could be done is to build international relations between socialist countries on the basis of Proletarian Internationalism and build a ‘socialist world market’ (a term used by Comrade Guha) where the laws of commodity exchange and super profits did not operate. Thus Proletarian Internationalism which originated as a means of achieving transnational unity of the working class in its struggle against capital assumed new meaning in the post war era. Comrade Guha saw in Titoism and many elements of Maoism an undermining of Proletarian Internationalism and assertion of bourgeois nationalist identities and a corollary of restoring commodity production as the prime mover of the economy in the countries of the socialist bloc.
Today as we are more distanced than ever from the greatest experiment ever in creating a society based on equality and fraternity, we probably need to go deeper and enquire as to why this experiment could not sustain itself despite its momentous achievements. This will help us to understand as to why the restoration of commodity production’s central role and nationalism became a possibility and perhaps a necessity. We need to go back to the sources of communist thought over the ages to retrieve the dream of Liberty, Equality and Freedom!
I would like to conclude with some personal reminiscences of comrade Moni Guha. A couple of discussions that took place in the seventies have stuck in my memory. I think he had come for a meeting of the India-Albania Friendship Association and we were considering the report of a meeting held in Mumbai. The report described a certain difference of opinion in the house held by a few individuals. The resolutions however seemed to reflect the opinion of the minority. A comrade who had accompanied Monida from Calcutta was quick to conclude that a ‘clique was in power there and it imposed its formulation in an undemocratic manner’. This appeared to be the only logical conclusion given the divergence between the report and the resolution. Monida waited for everyone to finish and gently said that when we call a meeting and there is a minority opinion on a matter which is not cardinal, it is given space in the proceedings so that those who have differences over matters of detail are not alienated unnecessarily. Otherwise we would move from one split to another. For us who were in our twenties and found formal logic very attractive, this gentle intervention brought home the fact that political organisation was more complex than logical exercises.
On another occasion during an after dinner reminiscing Monida recalled his predicaments as a young revolutionary. He was then (during the 1940s) wandering in the tribal tracts of Chittagong and was living with a tribal family. The family was so impressed with him that they wanted to treat him as an honoured guest: they wanted to offer him the only delicacy they had a bamboo container filled with worms and seasoned by being buried under the soil for some months! Monida remembered decades later his fighting nausea at the thought of eating decomposed worms and a sense of duty of reciprocating the sentiments of his hosts. Another instance was a similar honour he received from a polyandrous tribe in the Himalayas who wanted to treat him as a brother which meant sharing their common wife! Monida talked of how difficult it was then to uphold his sense of revolutionary ethical code.
Why should these little tales stick in ones memory, I do not know. His beaming smile, his strong Bangla accent with the frequent use of the phrase, ‘etcetras’ will remain etched in my mind.
The author is on the Editorial Board of Revolutionary Democracy.
Moni Guha was a relentless fighter against revisionism. He was possibly the first one to have grasped and articulated the grave implications for the communist movement of the critique of Stalin at the XX Congress of the CPSU. He was subsequently very isolated politically since the communist movement was heavily influenced by the political developments in the USSR. Moni Guha stood up against the XX Party Congress and Khrushchev’s secret speech damning Stalin.
MG was a simple, unassuming person. He faced a lot of hardship due to meagre financial resources. I remember his telling us in the 1970s when there were 3rd class compartments in the railways but he did not have enough money to travel third class. He was very happy that after a long struggle he got his freedom fighter’s pension that allowed him to travel free on Indian Railways.
We had the privilege to know MG closely both politically and personally. Between 1978-1981 and subsequently he stayed with us several times and so our association with him is as old as our elder daughter. He was one of the founder members of the India-Albania Friendship Association which was formed in defence of Albania and carried the Albanian writings which were fighting the revisionism both of the USSR and China. The association brought out the first issue of its journal in 1978.
In 1993 the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla organised a seminar on the collapse of socialism in the USSR. I was then a Fellow at the Institute and I proposed that MG should be invited to present a paper. The convener of the seminar, a CPI (M) person, put up stiff resistance to my proposal. Finally MG could not come but he sent his paper which I read at the conference on his behalf. The paper was not published but even the CPI (M) could not challenge anything from Moni Guha’s theses on the issue.
Moni Guha was a revolutionary in a predominantly counter-revolutionary
situation. No wonder he made the fight against revisionism, both of the
right and the left, as the main focus of his political activities.
During his last few years Vijay held several meetings with Moni Guha to
record his political views and career. These interviews were recorded
both at our place and at his daughter’s residence in Faridabad. During
his last year he called us several times and in one of his last calls
he expressed his wish that when he passes away Vijay should inform the
international communist movement about it. Vijay acted accordingly.
Moni Guha was a man of resolute courage who had the capacity to express
his views in the most challenging political situations and
He was a die-hard Stalinist even among Stalinists – Moni Guha. Everybody in the communist revolutionary circles knew it. That he was a bitter critic of the Chinese Communist Party right from the beginning was not unknown. But he was vociferous against Mao as well at a time when the ‘China’s Chairman is our Chairman’ slogan reigned supreme in Calcutta streets. In fact in those days it was somewhat risky to criticise Mao, rather Mao’s authority vis-a-vis the CPC’s authority. One day Guha came all the way to Frontier’s office, possibly in the early 1980s, to submit a book-review for publication in Frontier. Samar Sen was there. We discussed a lot about the failure of revolution and China’s role in it. Samar Babu was listening without making any comment because unlike Guha he was a fanatically pro-China intellectual. At one point Guha threw a bombshell while elaborating CPC’s sham internationalism: ‘Mao was basically a nationalist to the core’. Samar Babu kept his cool and didn’t pass any remark. After Guha’s departure, Samar Sen, otherwise a soft-spoken and mild tempered person, expressed his displeasure through his all too familiar humourous style: ‘Perhaps he is in a hurry to board the Ranchi Express’. Well, ‘Ranchi’ is actually synonymous with the lunatic asylum in that city.
I enjoyed the moment as the two old guards who had seen many ups and downs in India’s troubled communist movement, made their brief reflections on the contemporary situation.
The author is Editor, Frontier.
I don’t remember the year. I and some of my comrades had already left the CPI (ML). Our then understanding was: no piecemeal correction would be sufficient; we have to re-examine the general orientation as a whole. We started searching; and in those circumstances one of my comrades and myself met Moni Guha for the first time. It was at Muktarambabu Street in Kolkata at the Laltara office. Though we were impressed by his personality and for his long fight against the line of ‘class enemy annihilation’ and shunning the path of trade union and open mass organisation, we did not get our answers.
It was just a beginning, and the dialogue continued.
After the emergency was over, we, along with a number of comrades from different groups, started publishing a polemical paper in Bengali. He was an enthusiastic supporter of that move. We used to talk on various polemical issues. Then we found him criticising the theory of the third world.
After a couple of issues, the initiative of the polemical paper collapsed due to various reasons. Yet our relationship not only continued but deepened.
We used to talk on various theoretical issues. In the meantime our group started taking stands on basis propositions one by one and began to publish a paper, Mazdoor Mukti. Most of the time I visited his residence; he used to come to my residence occasionally. Most probably, we reached a common understanding in 1983-84. In the year 1984, we organised a Marx Memorial Lecture to commemorate the 100th death anniversary of Karl Marx at the Students’ Hall, Calcutta and Com. Moni Guha delivered a lecture on ‘Whither Socialism’. The essence of the lecture was published by Mazdoor Mukti with the same title.
Finally, Com. Guha joined the editorial board of Mazdoor Mukti in 1986. We were excited to have him in our team. He also became a co-signatory of an appeal prepared, published and circulated by Mazdoor Mukti. Com. Guha had been a staunch supporter of Stalin and his contributions. So it needed a great deal of courage and flexibility to come to the position he signed with us. It was our great pleasure to have Com. Guha with us in our battle against substitutionism.
Though our common unity and activity did not last beyond a certain time, I still cherish those days of ‘unity and struggle’.
Com. Guha was a voracious reader, a patient listener and an intelligent critic. He had an unique strength in continuing his search and research. Sometimes, he felt the pain of isolation, but still continued his thirst for ‘truth’.
He was a lifelong communist, not only through his theoretical understanding and acumen, but also through his passion, commitment and conviction. Not only us, but also the Indian Marxist movement has lost one of its finest products and bearers. We and personally myself deeply mourn the death of veteran Communist leader, Comrade Moni Guha.
I wish the Meeting to commemorate the Life and Work of Com. MONI GUHA every success. I wish I could be present there.
The author is Editor, Mazdoor Mukti.
We, i.e., some of the leading comrades of Communist Centre of India have had a 10-year long association with Comrade Moni Guha from 1991 to 2001 after which we parted company. This 10-year long association was quite a fruitful one. We were separated by an age gap of nearly half a century nevertheless we found Com. Guha to be extremely unassuming unlike most other elderly communist leaders in India who take their ‘seniority’ as a sort of license to impose their views on the younger generation. He willingly accepted suggestions and changes in his ideas at that time if he found them to be compatible with the tenets of Marxism-Leninism. He read a lot and of course had been witness to many of the changes in the international communist movement. He was a sort of ready reckoner for us on various aspects of the history of the international communist movement. We remember having discussed with him ‘The Road to Tehran’, ‘The British Road to Socialism’ and such-like documents of Thorez, Duclos et al. The two major points of agreement among us were on ‘Mao-Tse Tung Thought’ and the ‘Stage of the Revolution’ in India.
We will start with the latter first. Com. Moni Guha had veered around to the viewpoint that the stage of revolution in India was ‘socialist’ around the time we met him. Thereafter we committed ourselves to put our ideas in writing. The result of these efforts was the publication of the Inaugural Issue of the New Series of the journal published by Moni Guha, called Proletarian Path in November-December 1992. It dealt with the stage of the Indian revolution. It consisted of three papers of which ‘The Indian Revolution democratic or socialist’ was presented on behalf of the Patna comrades. Com. Guha accepted it in toto. We may remark that when later a polemic developed between him and ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ on the stage of the revolution he made it amply clear in his forwarding letter that he was replying to the polemic in his personal capacity only. The Patna comrades had no hand in it. It goes on to show his high sense of propriety. We would give a brief account of the paper of the Patna comrades to help understand the case for the socialist revolution which Com. Guha upheld so passionately. Having concretely analysed the Indian situation the first part of the paper ended with Lenin’s position. We asked – “The question arises that – “Can a big bourgeois-landlord counter-revolutionary government fulfill the historical aims of the bourgeois revolution? Let us see what Lenin says,
“If you want to consider the question ‘historically’, the example of any European country will show you that it was a series of governments, – that carried out the historical aims of the bourgeois revolution, that even governments which defeated the revolution were nevertheless forced to carry out the historical aims of that defeated revolution.” (Lenin, Two Tactics, CW 9, p. 42.)
In the next part the paper goes on to discuss the still influential colonial thesis of the Sixth Comintern Congress. The paper then goes on to examine the pattern of industrial development in India and notes the development of heavy industries here under state capital. Thereafter the agrarian relations have been discussed along with the agrarian class struggles which show the importance of the new correlation of class forces with the bourgeois landlords and the rich peasantry ranged on one side and the poor peasantry and the agricultural working class on the other. We concluded thus –
“That India became capitalist without a peasant revolution should not in any way detract from the cause of socialism which is the proletarian party’s goal. The ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ is only to facilitate the achievement of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
The very important question to which Com. Guha himself contributed in this issue was the question of people’s democracy whether it was relevant to the Indian context at the present. The title of this paper was “People’s Democracy: Its Irrelevancy Today (History and Theory)”. Moni Guha wrote –
“The domination and the danger of domination of fascism meant regression in all fields of public life, whether political, social or national. – Hence, the rise of People’s democracy as a direct connecting link between the anti-fascist struggle and the struggle for socialism was the result of the development of world history in a period, when the Soviet Union, the land of socialism, acquired the unbeaten position of exerting almost a decisive influence in shaping the international situation, when the relation and alignment of class forces in the national and international arena had definitely shifted in favour of socialism, when the general crisis of capitalism reached its zenith and brought capitalism on the very verge of collapse, when the middle strata was vacillating between fascism and anti-fascism and finally, when the working class, in many countries was almost in an exclusive position to lead the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle."
Comrade Guha concluded:
“Today, there is no common enemy like that of fascism nor is there any common front. There is no socialist country (which decisively influences world politics) under whose umbrella people’s democracy may develop into the second stage. The genuine Communists must realise that in the absence of those above-stated conditions and in the heyday of imperialism, deceptive bourgeois democracy and the much trumpeted free enjoyment of the ‘right’ of private property, if a firm and resolute proletarian policy is not pursued and if the victorious proletariat does not deal very resolutely with rich peasants, and non-big bourgeoisie, the cause of the revolution would be severely jeopardised. (Without such a policy neither would it be possible to exercise hegemony nor stop the vacillation of the non-proletarian working people already corrupted by profiteering and proprietary habits.)” (PP p. 107.)
We have discussed above MG’s views on the important practical question of the stage of the revolution in India. MG also contributed to the history of the international communist movement with his writings on Titoite revisionism, the Theory of the Three Worlds, etc. He also took to educating young communists on the ‘Stalin Question’ and the question of Trotsky. He made important contribution to the Stalin question in the issues of Proletarian Path he brought out with Com. Vijay Singh. He wrote a book called “Leniner Chokher Trotsky” (Trotsky in the Eyes of Lenin) which sought to clear the air of the lies and slanders perpetuated by the Trotskyites regarding Trotsky’s relationship with Lenin and Bolshevism.
He was one of the first to criticise the 20th Congress of the CPSU. He published a booklet on ‘Twentieth Congress and Stalin’ in Bangla. We found this interesting and decided that the first section should be translated. We translated the first section and it was published in Proletarian Path, New Series, June 1994. What we found remarkable in this section was put in the form of an introduction to it. This was our appraisal
“What is remarkable in the analysis is that the author places Stalin and the Soviet Union in its historical perspective, in its limitations. It does not abstract from living reality and subject ‘Stalinist’ Soviet Union to idealist parameters – the building of socialism in the Soviet Union was epoch-making and covered itself with glory. Nevertheless it was circumscribed by historical circumstances. The author points to the one-sided development of socialism in the Soviet Union which took place under severe historical constraints. And any appraisal of Stalin and the Soviet Union must take this into account” (p. 40).
Com. Guha’s writing, Revisionism against Revisionism, drew a lot of attention. He wrote :
“The activities of Stalin in the post 1945 period and the activities in opposition to Stalin by the Tito clique and after the death of Stalin the activities of the CPSU headed by Khrushchev and the CPC headed by Mao should be judged by the tasks of converting or not converting the national dictatorship of one country into an international one in the era of socialism in several countries. The fundamental and dominating issue was straight and clear.”
In this we have a neat cohesive line about the central issue underlying the revisionism of our times. The proposition was indeed alluring. It was only after a second reading that we were persuaded of the rather tenuous and hypothetical nature of the proposition. After the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat following Stalin’s death how was one to advance in the direction of the world dictatorship of the proletariat? Was the nature of the Chinese state such that immediate steps could be taken to herald in the era of dictatorship of proletariat in several countries? After all it was a four class state and not a purely proletarian one. It was not a question of the communist party only but of the state and we should differentiate between the two. It is a difference between the nature of the state of two very different peoples with very different historical and cultural backgrounds. Ought not that to be taken into account? To put the question in such a framework is to conjecture speculatively and surely Marxism abjures such a procedure. Further was this ‘central issue’ not pushed around in the name of ‘socialist international division of labour’ which has been so vehemently criticised by the Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha? Wasn’t the then international economic body of Eastern Europe and Soviet Union viz. the CMEA, used to perpetuate Soviet economic hegemony from the revisionist period? What were the class and historical roots of the phenomenon of the revisionism of this period? We have Lenin’s explanation of the revisionism of the Second International. He pointed out how the advent of the era of imperialism had brought about profound changes in the economy and how it was possible for the imperialist countries to bribe the upper stratum of the working class of their countries by using a part of the super profits of monopoly capital. The Social Democratic parties with their social basis in the upcoming labour aristocracy became the labour lieutenants of the bourgeoisie and what was before just a deviation became transformed into full blown revisionism. So also we have Stalin’s depiction of Bukharinite and Trotskyite revisionism which had carried on from the NEP period. It is in this spirit that this question need to be answered. However it can be said that in Revisionism against Revisionism Com. Guha has nicely exposed the nationalist deviation of the CPC and Mao and its agreement with Khrushchevite revisionism earlier on vital questions of the dictatorship of the proletariat and Titoism.
We hope that our adumbration of Com.Guha’s views would encourage debate and discussion on the issues concerned. At a later stage in his life he wrote a book in Bangla called “Mao Tse Tung ekti marxbadi-leninbadi mulyayon” (Mao Tse Tung – a Marxist-Leninist evaluation). We of course remember not agreeing with many of the propositions of this book. Moni Guha straddled a long period of history. He wrote a lot on various questions. He fought against Khrushchevite revisionism, Mao revisionism and left adventurism of the Naxalbari period. His life was an embodiment of the spirit of sacrifice that characterised the communists of his time. That is something worthy of emulation for all young communists and should continue to inspire them. We salute his memory and pledge to carry on the fight against revisionism. Lal Salam, Comrade.Communist Centre of India
We may say that no formal introduction is needed and it is enough to name Moni Guha or even MG for narrating a phase in the struggle against modern revisionism. Some prefer to level the name as a Stalinist, as if by giving a trade name for anything all is settled for closing a chapter. This is but only a petty bourgeois practice to avoid cudgelling one’s head on any problem. Inside the communist movement especially after the 20th Congress of the CPSU many such practices and trends may be found. Some of the leaders or the followers of some leaders have claimed themselves as the pioneer of such and such stand or slogan just twisting even the facts and figures and their historical roles only to get an acceptance inside the toiling masses as well as the rank and file. But nobody can deny the facts that immediately after the 20th Congress of the CPSU Neil Goold of the Communist Party (Irish) and MG of the CPI raised their voices and declared that the Congress was a revisionist one, obviously without having any support from any Communist Party.
Thus in the shape of opposition to the personality cult nurtured by Stalin, Khrushchevite revisionism – we may name it as rightist deviation – got a foothold on a solid foundation unanimously. But within a few years as a result of national conflict between Soviet and China again in the shape of opposition to Khrushchevite revisionism we found Maoist revisionism emerging as an ultra leftist deviation and the entire international movement got split. Though we have no opportunity to put a detailed picture of the development, we hereby take the privilege to refer to Revisionism Against Revisionism by MG and in this connection we must mention the role of Tito as the maker of modern revisionism theoretically claiming national interest is preferable to stand for the sake of Soviet State, the land of all the workers throughout the world. MG analysed in detail the Yugoslav question and the role of CPC and CPSU considering that a pivotal job to make sense of modern revisionism. Lastly his ‘20th Congress and Stalin’ completed the platform from which to fight against modern revisionism.
The economic basis of both the forms of modern revisionism is but a national deviation refuting the internationalism which remains the fundamental one till date to fight capitalism even with its highest stage, imperialism. In this perspective we must refer to Stalin’s speech mentioning the danger of the national trend inside the Soviet workers and leaders which got tremendous profundity after the explosion of atom bomb and we might say that the conflict was the cause of Stalin’s mysterious and sudden death because in his presence modern revisionism could not get a foothold so firmly by giving up the cause of internationalism. Practically the national trend took shape during the fascist regime when the Nazi Hitler began to smash all the democratic rights and thinking and thus the prime duty of the communists was to uphold the banner of democracy and to fight fascist massacre with all democratic powers.
Obviously it’s a mammoth job before us who are committed to the cause of the toiling masses and workers of all the countries, to fight for socialism today to make a path towards our goal and cleaning the heap of falsification of history dumped by the enemies and even by friendly sections with a petty bourgeois set of mind and full of ignorance of the historical facts that occurred during that period i.e. from 1954 since when the writings of Stalin were banned by Khrushchev and Co. to mislead us with his fairy tales and treacherous plan to make the path to socialism even beyond our dream and imagination. In this context we may put forward that nobody can ignore the role of the International towards the cause, strength and fight in the international sphere against capitalism and nobody also deny the role of capital in international sphere but who cares for making an international as a solid platform.
We must take the burden to dig out the cause of the collapse of the Comintern (Third International) and find out the cause of the failure of the Cominform which Stalin tried his best to establish in vain. Recently there were some initiatives to form an international among which is the Brussels Seminar. This was a caricature of the traditions of the Internationals and MG could not keep mum on this subject. In spite of his old-age related ailments he wrote in Bengali a booklet on the utter nonsense of this initiative and the opportunism which prevailed in the activities of the participants. Lastly to mention his works in the problems of Marxism in international arena and in ideological sphere we should mention his thesis on people’s democracy after the collapse of Soviet Socialist power. In this thesis he emphasised its irrelevancy in the absence of soviet socialist power to the cause of internationalism. Interested readers can avail of all the major and vital works of Moni Guha on our website.
In the domain of the problems sustained in India he had restarted his magazine Proletarian Path in a new orientation with some of the comrades from Patna. In its inaugural issue the question of stage of revolution in India was emphasised, clearly putting arguments in favour of socialist revolution and refuting the arguments in favour of People’s Democracy which are put forward by the major part of the theorists. Till now we have not received any sound theoretical opposition and criticism of these views. Instead of we received scattered questions thrown haphazardly, specially on some data and quotations that have been used in the draft. He personally was not in a position to reply because the draft was initially made by the comrades of Patna and they kept the manuscript and all the relevant documents with them. They isolated MG in course of time after the publications of some issues of Proletarian Path from Patna, obviously without any ideological conflict which is but a regular practice we can find in almost every group. As a result we are in an embarrassing situation to answer those scattered and technical questions and the Patna comrades on being asked to prepare the same to fulfil the responsibility replied that these do not have any credibility to make any serious efforts and to get any answer. Thus the responsibility is lying on us when we lost Moni Guha forever. Practically we have to start making not two but half dozen steps back to go forward one step further.
Now to share his memory with you all we want to relate a few activities of him only to picture out a personality that made him an ideal one to us. First of all, one vital one in respect of making his life partner. He openly confided to his would be wife that never he would be in a position to earn sufficient to maintain themselves. His family, rather as a wife of a man like him she might have to face torture from the police etc. Such was his wife that she accepted all this and in her family life for more than 50 years she never raised any voice despite having troubles including his suffering from TB due to the torture he got from the police and some of the so-called Naxalites during the 1970s. Even he took a part of her earnings during the crisis period of the illness of his son just to publish his booklet on the 20th Congress and Stalin, which he distributed in an open meeting organised by the then party and then faced troubles for such audacious conduct. That fight against Khrushchevite treachery towards socialism got him expelled and isolated from the party. Only four comrades including the then editor of Parichay, Satya Gupta supported him in the critique of the article of Saroj Acharya in support of Khrushchev. The other two comrades were Abdul Momin and Sushital Roychowdhury and all were accorded the same treatment by the party. Immediately after this the editor of Ispat joined this circle on this question of Mao and MG in association of Nagi Reddy and DV Rao started to fight with their might and scope. MG wrote an article ‘Mao Supplements Khrushchev’ in two issues of Proletarian Path in which Vijay Singh of RD participated at that time. Thus a campaign against Mao’s leftist deviation got a critic in India along with Bill Bland of Compass from London.
But the path followed by MG was not at all smooth. He often avoided diplomacy in his activities and thus had to pay with his clear image in politics. One such incident occurred when in good faith he agreed to publish a criticism of Stalin by a group which was known to be followers of Trotsky in a series of booklets from his own address. He was totally unaware of their intention and after the first issue the said group disassociated themselves from him as if that very issue was the only one to which MG agreed. Obviously he got many occasions to expose this treacherous act publicly, but never did he get defensive in such cases. He only laughed when asked to write on such things and told us its too serious job to clean his image by putting aside assignments that the situation demanded.
Before coming of age he became active in politics when he was a student of Class Seven and led the students with the slogan of ‘Go Back Simon!’ and was put behind bars in 1930 when he was only 16 years old. Practically he got his academic degree along with a sound knowledge of Marxism during his staying inside many jails. His knowledge of Marxism (in the theoretical aspect) was recognised by the party and he was selected as a political teacher. His popularity saved him once from a physical attack by some ‘Naxalites’ when one of the attackers recognised him as his former party teacher. On this occasion he came out of his house with a club and challenged the attackers saying that for his political commitment he was ready to sacrifice his life at any time and he wanted first to confront the person from amongst the attackers whom he must beat to death before his own death. Such a fearless attitude he earned in his struggle from childhood when he was selected by Anushilan to lead a group in a successful Swadeshi dacoity campaign.
Lastly to honour his memory we wish to say that despite his age related ailments he was so much of an enthusiast that he toured many places in India, taking advantage of the free railway travel opportunities offered to freedom fighters by the government, for polemical discussions with many groups in different parts of India and especially on the question of Mao. He dreamed to live for a successful turning point in Indian political arena. Towards the end he lost his strength along with his vision and hearing power and almost entered a second childhood. He then came to realise that he had been rejected on his actual terrain politics.
The author was associated with the journal Proletarian Path and is a political activist and poet who was very close to Moni Guha politically and personally in his final years.
The Address of Prakash Rao, Communist Ghadar Party of India at the memorial meeting organised by Revolutionary Democracy
In the passing away of Comrade Moni Guha, the communist and workers’ movement of our country has lost yet another fighter.
Comrade Moni Guha took up the communism in his youth. His active life spanned the period of the anti-colonial struggle, as well as several decades after. Following the death of J.V. Stalin, and the rise of the Khrushchevites to power in the Soviet Union, there was a concerted attack by the revisionists and the imperialists to denigrate the life and work of Stalin. The aim was to discredit the entire experience of the construction of socialism in the USSR in conditions of imperialist encirclement, with which glorious work the name of Stalin was inseparably linked. Moni Guha defended the work of J.V. Stalin.
The Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao Ze Dong used the situation of the discrediting of Soviet revisionism to position itself as the leader of the world revolution. Mao Ze Dong advanced a number of anti Marxist-Leninist theories under the guise of the ‘creative development’ of Marxism Leninism, ‘the specificity of backward, colonial and semi colonial countries’, the alleged mistakes of J.V. Stalin and so on. He pushed forth, amongst other things, the anti-Marxist theory that between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat, there could be a third kind of state power, the so-called New Democratic Dictatorship which would be neither of the above, but include the working class, the national bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry. The dictatorship of the proletariat was not established in China following the revolution, which remained confined within the framework of the bourgeois democratic revolution, and present day China is the confirmation that the theory of New Democratic Dictatorship is but a theory of bourgeois dictatorship.
Mao Ze Dong Thought had great influence on the revolutionary movement in India and other countries of Asia. It contributed to ensuring that those who fought Khrushchevite revisionism and the line of lining up the proletariat behind the bourgeoisie in the name that there were some progressive, anti-imperialist features in the Indian bourgeoisie, could not build a party armed with the science of Marxism-Leninism, with the single-minded aim of successfully carrying out the proletarian revolution and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat in our country, and marching forward to the construction of socialism and communism. It ensured that the proletariat was considered a second or third rate political force, instead of the leading and motive and main force of the revolution, and handed over the leadership of the revolution to the peasantry or the petty-bourgeoisie. The Indian working class was handed over to the revisionists of CPI and CPM. The CPI ML disintegrated because of the influence of Mao Ze Dong Thought, the attacks of the state and its agents, and its inability to firmly uphold and implement the fundamental principles and conclusions of Marxism Leninism in the conditions of India and the world at the time.
The Party of Labour of Albania led the communists worldwide in critiquing Mao Ze Dong Thought as another dangerous variant of revisionism, the distortion of the fundamental principles and conclusions of Marxism-Leninism, which needed to be rooted out of the communist movement for proletarian revolution to advance. Indian communists, who later founded the CGPI, spearheaded this struggle in our country. There were others too, outside of the CGPI who played a role. Comrade Moni Guha was also a part of this struggle to expose Mao Ze Dong Thought as having nothing in common with Marxism-Leninism.
Today, the communist movement in our country is still far from its goal. It is not able to provide unified and sound leadership to the working class and its allies against the cunning imperialist bourgeoisie which is ruling our country. Large sections of the communist movement refuse to see what things and phenomena are revealing, amongst other things, that capitalism is the motor of Indian society, that the Indian bourgeoisie is striving to become a world class imperialist power. They refuse to see the revolutionary potential of the working class, or that it is the class which has to be the grave digger of capitalism and lead all the exploited and oppressed to liberation and emancipation. Immaturity in theory still marks the communist movement, even though it is supposed to be 84 years old!
The three components of our theory – dialectical and historical materialist outlook, political economy, and political theory of scientific socialism – taken together, constitute an excellent guide to communists in analysing present day India in the world context and building and strengthening the communist party as a party of the working class, as a part of the working class, as its most advanced detachment which is armed with the most advanced theory. Our Party upholds this as the necessary condition for creating the subjective factor for victory of revolution in our beloved country.
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