Knowing the Enemy - A Criticism on MR-2004

By PALA , NDLF - Tamil Nadu 17/01/2004 At 07:53

'Knowing the Enemy' is our critism on MR-2004 with regard to its approach towards WSF. In response to the invitation extended by AIPRF, we mailed this criticism. Regrettably, we did'nt get any reply. Subsequently, this paper was published in 'FRONTIER', Dec. 21-27'2003

We are not part of MR-2004. But PALA is a constituent unit of AILRC and NDLF is a member of FAIG

People's Art and Literary Association (PALA)
New Democratic Labour Front (NDLF)


WSF is a formation designed by the imperialists to divert and blunt the spontaneous anti-imperialist struggles and to nip the Communist politics that threatens to sprout up again. Even those who were initially excited by the Seattle agitation and rushed to appraise it as the emergence of an anti-Imperialist People's movement had to retract. Within a few years, from their own experience they realized the fact that WSF nothing but a puppet of Imperialism. The recent issue of Aspects of Indian Economy (Issue No. 35, Sep.03) carries a well-documented exposure of this conspiracy, called WSF.

On its part the first document of MR 2004 presents the following facts against the WSF:

  1. « We find that the WSF, as it structured – only for ' reflective thinking' without conclusions and plans for action – does not allow for the development of a clear anti- Imperialist perspective. »
  2. « The WSF is being led by 'left' parties who are or have been in power either at provincial or central level in Brazil, Western European countries and even India. These parties have themselves been implementing the policies prescribed by the IMF, WB and other imperialist institutions. »
  3. « Leading constituents of the WSF are major NGOs who are active in raising demands to reform the imperialist system and give, in their words, 'globalization a human face'. Given this domination of WSF by elements who are not opposed to imperialist globalization itself, it is clear that the task of developing the anti-imperialist struggle cannot be undertaken freely in this forum. »
  4. « The WSF is being funded largely by donations obtained either directly from imperialist agencies (e.g., The Ford Foundation) or indirectly through NGOs funded by such agencies or governments. Such funds are given with the express purpose of institutionalizing dissent and diverting genuine activists into channels harmless to imperialism, thus harming the growing movement. »

After listing the above facts (or should we call them exposures?) the document makes a mysterious turnaround and invites all those « forces committed to and participating in the WSF process to join in the MR 2004 programme. »

Even a cursory reading of the document reveals the inherent contradictions. The document accuses WSF to be an organization led by the lackeys of imperialists, crowded with NGOs and funded by Ford Foundation etc., to disrupt and impede the anti-imperialist movement. After such an assessment, one expects the document to end with an appeal to strive for the abolition of this imperialist maneuvre.

But in a carefully worded statement the document describes MR 2004 as a Parallel Event caused by the fact that « the task of developing anti-imperialist struggle could not be undertaken freely in WSF. »

While the strings as well as the hands that pull the puppet (i.e. WSF) are clearly visible and sufficiently exposed, the document worries about the ideology and practice of the puppet. It states that the WSF is structured only for reflective thinking and hence does not allow for the development of clear Anti- Imperialist perspective.

Lack of clarity in anti-imperialist perspective and lack of freedom to develop anti-imperialist struggles! Such criticisms are put forth even by the anarchists of all hues, who are diehard members of the WSF.

Thus the 'criticisms' put forth by MR 2004 against WSF are not in fact criticisms. They sound more like an apology or explanation of an unfortunate situation in which they were forced to cause a divide in a great anti-imperialist people's movement. No wonder that the WSF constituents are invited to participate in MR 2004. But, why the MR 2004 constituents are not accorded with the license to cross the fence? This remains to be a puzzle.

2. MR 2004 introduces itself « as a continuation of the militant traditions set in the anti-globalization and anti-war movements that assumed a new intensity after Seattle. »

Since AIPRF is one of the key initiators of this effort we have to remind them of certain simple facts. Apart from the much lauded militancy of the Seattle struggle, its political orientation was extremely heterogeneous, to say the least. But the anti-imperialist tradition of the Communist Revolutionaries of the world is time honoured, politically radical and in practice more militant. Seattle or no Seattle, Communist Revolutionaries of all countries organize their own people against imperialism on the basis of their own political strategy and tactics. They proudly proclaim themselves to be the inheritors of the Communist as well as national revolutionaries.

Such an independent, unambiguously anti-imperialist and revolutionary movement should be the base upon which any truly international formation could be built.

On the contrary, MR 2004 is inspired by Seattle! It expresses its desire to inherit the subsequent Anti-globalization and anti-war movements. Elsewhere its document also admits to the fact that, the same movements to which MR 2004 proudly lays claim to are institutionalized by the NGOs and the lackeys of imperialists. Militant, yet such a vulnerable tradition!

Not discounting the fact that millions of people have indeed participated in the said movements, one cannot lose sight of the fact that the ideological orientations of the constituents were so fragile that they could effortlessly be institutionalized by the imperialists. Such a massive task of institutionalization in a surprisingly very short period! We cannot bestow the whole credit to the imperialists, lest we forget the role played by the anarchists and postmodernists, and their ideological influence over the masses. Militancy apart, these are also facts, which constitute the 'Seattle tradition'.

While the genuine anti-imperialist sentiments of the people should definitely be taken into account, one should not close his eyes to the Political expression of the said sentiment, before laying claim to a tradition.

3. WSF is a puppet designed to give a human face to imperialism and it should be exposed from without. Such an endeavor combined with the building of a revolutionary anti-imperialist movement would render the immobilization of WSF.

But MR 2004 holds a different view. 'Criticisms' apart, it considers WSF and its constituents as a force to be won over to its side. MR 2004 introduces itself as an event running parallel to WSF, not opposed to it.

It seeks to take all those attending WSF beyond the limits of reflective thinking, into serious anti-imperialist struggle. We cannot help recalling the tradition of CPI, which strove hard to identify progressive elements in the Congress Party.

4. Regarding the perspective of MR 2004, its document states that « through sharing experiments and analyzing imperialist strategies it aims at developing a perspective that will unite all struggling forces, irrespective of the forms of struggle they may choose, and take the movement forward to confront and ultimately defeat imperialism ».

Developing a perspective for the ultimate defeat of imperialism, through analyzing imperialist strategies! Or, is it about formulating a revolutionary perspective through sharing the experiences of struggles guided by a variety of bourgeois perspectives?

Leave alone the fact that empiricism never gives birth to a scientific perspective. But it is really shocking when MR 2004 presents itself as an organization (or event) hitherto having no ideological perspective and waiting to develop one, through a discussion. That too a perspective tailored to guarantee the unity of all struggling forces! We can be rest assured that such a lowest common denominator would have nothing to do with Marxism – Leninism – Mao tse Tung Thought.

We definitely agree that any revolutionary organization can build a United Front with non-proletarian organizations on the basis of a common minimum programme, while preserving its ideological purity.

But MR 2004 enlightens us to a new concept of common minimum perspective!

While the WSF, which pretends to be a process and has 'defined' its ideology to be anti-Communist (ranging from neo-liberalism to anarchism and postmodernism), we witness the Communist Revolutionaries feeling apologetic of their identity and ideological perspective.

MR 2004 states that it presents a concretely defined socio-economic structure as opposed to the amorphous presentation of WSF. But this concreteness defines itself as « self-reliance and a total break from all controls of the world capitalist system and a striving to move towards a genuine socialist order. » ' Genuine Socialist Order ' also happens to be an equally amorphous term, which could be understood and explained in many mutually incompatible ways. We are yet to learn from KRRS, BKU, CMM AND MUSLIM YOUTH OF INDIA (the initiators of MR 2004) about their concrete understanding of 'genuine socialism', not to speak of the anarchists and Trotskyites of WSF.

5. MR 2004 treads softly so as not to disturb the upper crest of the European and American public opinion, corrupted by the imperialist propaganda against Communism and proletarian dictatorship. The form of presenting one's standpoint may vary, keeping in view of the public opinion. But the so-called public opinion could not become an excuse for a compromise on the basic principles. More the distortions against communism, more the necessity for clarity.

For that matter the term imperialism is also distorted altogether. Many western intellectuals explain imperialism only as acts of aggression and hegemonism. Subsequently they cherish the dream of redeeming a bourgeois democratic utopia, upholding the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. But the ultimate defeat of imperialism inevitably demands the abolition of capitalism. The advancement towards Communism through Socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat is not just a theoretical formulation, but historically established truth.

But it seems that MR 2004 aspires to build a very broad anti-imperialist movement by underplaying the question of principles. An organization that chooses to maintain a studied silence on its own ideology, aspires to win over others to its own perspective and practice. Curious, but a fact nevertheless!

6. The imperialist world is entangled in an unprecedented economic crisis, aptly depicted by themselves as 'synchronized sinking '. Politically, the much-trumpeted bourgeois values of freedom and democracy are steadily getting invalidated leading to the Fascisisation of State and Society. The gulf of inequality between Classes and Nations is fast widening. Unable to project any credible political or ideological alternative, the imperialists are scared at the possibility of communism gaining influence as the alternative. This apprehension of the enemy is true despite the fact that the International Communist Movement is splintered and weak. Hence, the time-tested tactics of promoting social democrats, anarchists, Trotskyites and pseudo-communists is on the play now. The vanguard role of PT in the WSF and the active role of CPI, CPI (M), CPI M-L (Liberation) in India are part of this conspiracy; a conspiracy to gain credibility by portraying a bourgeois formation as a red coalition. Or 'left pluralism' in the now infamous NGO- discourse!

A classic case of waving red flag against the red flag! But does the MR 2004 really hold a red flag to wave against them? This is a moot question.

In our opinion we should hold high the banner of Marxism – Leninism – Mao tse Tung Thought and expose the lackeys of Imperialism masquerading themselves as Communists and Socialists. Underplaying the ideological and political issues in order to sound 'democratic' is suicidal, to say the least.

7. The crisis of Imperialism and its glaring attempts to thrust the burden of crisis on the shoulders of the people – especially of the oppressed countries, the blatant aggressions of the American Hegemonists, and the resultant anger fulminating throughout the world urgently demands the solidarity of the international proletariat. Hence, the immediate task of the Communist Revolutionaries is to build a national as well as international front that projects Communism as the alternative to Imperialism and Capitalism.

Such an alternative cannot be an amalgam of incongruent forces always yearning to tail behind spontaneity. Our alternative could be dishearteningly small in the beginning, lagging very much behind the fanfare and the media attention associated with WSF carnivals; our forums might not be graced with the august presence of the illustrious intellectuals of the world. But the ideology, politics and organization of our alternative will stand as a bulwark against the anarchism, postmodernism and the process of de-ideologisation set-off by the WSF. Only through such an alternative we can convince the people of the futility of legalism and non-violence; and politically enlighten them of the inevitability of an armed revolution to defeat Imperialism.

Otherwise Communist Revolutionaries would be forced to plead before a motley crowd of various ideological hues to allow a space for armed revolution in their pantheon.

We do not reject the necessity of building an anti-Imperialist United Front with non-proletarian classes and organizations. But we emphasize the importance of a co-ordination amongst the Communist Revolutionaries and the significance of building an independent anti-Imperialist movement before venturing into the formation of any broader front.

Any anti-Imperialist United Front built in alliance with the national and other bourgeois forces would definitely have a Common Minimum Programme. But we should never dream of constructing a Common Minimum Ideology. A programme - based unity will not forestall the continuance of ideological struggle with the allies (and WSF is not our ally). This is the time-tested experience of the international proletariat on the question of United Front, not on the question of Carnivals.

Some people may screw up their faces and may brand this approach to be 'sectarian'. If putting forward one's own perspective itself could be considered as sectarian then proletariat should decide to abandon its ideology to gain democratic credentials.

Longing to gain democratic credentials, MR 2004 compromises on the ideological perspective. While WSF celebrates de-ideologisation with a sinister design in mind, MR 2004 arrives at the same destination through democratic means and of course, with very good intentions.

8. MR 2004 document rightly declares that the leading constituents of WSF are major NGOs and exposes their evil designs to sabotage the anti-imperialist movement. But when the document invites the members of WSF to join MR 2004 programme it maintains a studied silence as to whether the NGOs (major as well as minor) would also be enrolled as members of MR 2004. Likewise, we are also not enlightened as to whether the other members of MR 2004 can have truck with the NGOs. Such inconvenient questions have not been raised nor are they answered in the document.

The ambivalence on the question of NGOs is a disease that erodes the progressive camp. This ambivalence justifies itself by projecting the examples of a few 'honest' individuals who have done a laudable work in certain fields. As Lenin once warned, honest opportunism poses the greatest threat. If 'Honesty' serves as a mask to conceal opportunism, the 'Human Face' of the NGOs conceal their mission to serve Imperialism. During 1980s the CPI (M) exposed the NGOs as the stooges of Imperialism. Now it has made a complete turnaround and recognizes them forces of social change. Such official declarations help make the ideological struggles much easier than vague explanations. The NGOs are not just safety valves; they are the power centers of imperialism studded in the grass root to monitor the project of Recolonisation. 'Bad NGOs – Good cadres' is a hackneyed phrase; « Winning over the genuine cadres of NGOs through joint actions » is also an obsolete excuse, used by CPI M-L ( Liberation ) twenty years ago. Hence any Anti-Imperialist front should spell out its position viz., a viz., the NGOs in no uncertain terms.

9.NGOs are not products of WSF. Instead WSF is the conglomerate of NGOs. The origin of NGOs dates back to the period of Vietnam aggression. The petit bourgeoisie and intermediary classes who were disillusioned with the imperialism, yet abhorred the idea of rallying behind Communism were the prime targets of the Imperialism in the 60s. The NGOs were institutions designed to institutionalize this social base. Yet, it would be a gross misjudgement to believe that those who chose to join the NGOs were simply cheated into it; They were in fact willing accomplices in the Anti-Communist crusade.

While the ideology of the NGOs were firmly rooted in the Anti-Communism, the Grass Root organizations built by the NGOs amongst various segments of people rambled with apoliticism. Their struggles for certain economic and sectoral demands sometimes grew militant nevertheless they remained stubbornly apolitical. This is the ideological base upon which the slogan of « Globalization with a human face  » rests.

Now the WSF has fulfilled the much needed Global co-ordination amongst the NGOs. Thus a well-orchestrated strategy to dissipate the anti-Imperialist struggles is on the play.

In a situation where the dictates of WB, IMF and WTO are being thrust upon the people of the oppressed countries, the role of the NGOs assume more significance. Since most Governments of the oppressed countries implement the project of Recolonisation through backdoor methods and illegitimate means, the need for lending legitimacy from below becomes all the more important for the imperialists.

« Legitimising the illegitimate » is a task entrusted to NGOs. Identifying the potential forces of dissent and institutionalizing them under one umbrella – is their strategy.

In the struggle against Imperialism, the 'direction of the main blow' is the most important factor in our revolutionary political strategy. The vacillating classes and compromising forces serve as the social basis providing sustenance to the Imperialist rule by cultivating various illusions amongst the revolutionary masses. Now these forces – NGOS, Post modernists, anarchists and social democrats – are arrayed against the international proletariat under a single banner, namely WSF. Unless this Imperialist 'Trojan Horse' is targeted for attack, the proletariat could never be able to win over the vacillating classes to its side. No war is ever won in alliance with the Trojan horses. But MR 2004 indulges in this folly.

10. Finally, in our opinion the term 'Imperialist Globalisation' does not represent the political essence of the process called Globalisation. Even a section of bourgeois intellectuals and politicians who want to restore status quo-ante (prior to GATT and WTO) raise their protest against Globalisation. Thus they interpret Globalisation as restoration of Imperialism. A sizable section of public opinion involved in anti-War and anti- WTO protests in the west and various forces, ranging from Swadeshi Jaagran Manch to CPI (M) in India often propagate this viewpoint.

The imperialist Superpowers are attempting to establish Global hegemony (not a redivision) through globalisation of capital, production, division of labour and the market. This is qualitatively a different situation than the 1950s, when the Socialist camp and the National Liberation Movements were on the offensive, forcing imperialism to adopt a defensive approach i.e., Neo-colonialism.

Those objective conditions have undergone a sea change; International Proletarian Movement is in the defence now. The Imperialist superpowers are on the offensive, violating the sovereignity of nations through naked aggressions and imposing their will on the oppressed nations, through their Financial, Political and Military Institutions. This is a different form of colonization; Qualitatively different from Neo- colonialism of the 1950s and hence we define it as Recolonisation. But many other Communist Revolutionaries consider this to be a mere quantitative increase in the Neo-Colonial onslaught of the Imperialists; and Globalization is understood merely as a new ploy by the Imperialists to shift the burden of crisis on to the shoulders of oppressed countries.

Despite such differences in understanding, both these terms (either Neo-Colonialism or Recolonisation) precisely express the political content of Anti-Imperialism. Thus they naturally give rise to the demands for national liberation, socialism and equality of nations.

The anti-imperialist pretentions of the comprador bourgeoisie and the illusions nurtured by western intellectuals about imperialism sans aggression will come to end, if the political content of the anti-imperialist movement is expressed in unambiguous terms. Such a political slogan would also distinguish the genuine anti-imperialist forces from others and expose the true colour of many a constituents of WSF. But the term 'MR 2004' itself reminds us of the 'discourse' of WSF, the 'text' offering the reader an endless choices of 'deconstructions'.

To sum up,

1. We understand and recognize the necessity of building an anti-imperialist front. But such a task need not be undertaken alongside the programme of WSF.

In its document, MR 2004 puts forth certain criticisms against WSF; but its programme sheet does not contain a single topic aimed at exposing it. Because MR 2004 considers WSF to be an Anti-Imperialist front restrained by certain serious shortcomings. In its latest press release it emphasizes that it is not against WSF.

MR 2004 is described in its own document as a trend, which runs parallel to WSF that calls itself to be a process. Parallel yet mutually independent like a railroad!

2. Communist Revolutionaries as well as all genuine anti-Imperialist forces should expose the WSF when it holds its programme in Mumbai. We should strive for the elimination of this imperialist puppet by exposing and isolating it from the masses. « Against WSF » should be the slogan of our campaign. Such a campaign could cause a polarization of forces in India and abroad, including those genuine elements of WSF. Thus it will lead to the consolidation of all Anti-Imperialist forces.

3. We disagree with MR 2004 and we won't be participating in it. We appeal to the AIPRF who are in the forefront of organizing this event in Mumbai, to reconsider their position in favour of a Revolutionary perspective.



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