Communist Participation in Bourgeois Government

Brij Bihari Pandey

It is for the first time in the history of Indian communist movement, precisely after seven decades of journey or 44 years of parliamentary experience, that communists have joined the government at the centre. As for CPI(M), it was supposedly the central and indispensable force in making of United Front, and it is entirely different matter that subsequently they did not chose to lend Mr Jyoti Basu for premiership of this coalition, probably because they felt they do not have sufficient strength required to lead it. Still they are very much there in the governance as two top-most leaders of the party, General Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu himself, are on the Steering Committee of the front running this government, they were party to decide on the premiership and formulate the Common Minimum Programme on the basis of which this government is supposed to be run. Another communist party, CPI has two of its members in the Union Cabinet at present; one of them, who also happens to be the General Secretary of that organisation, is the Minister for Home Affairs. Paradoxically, this milestone has been achieved when the country’s politics has shifted further to the right and both centrist and Left forces have performed worse than before, bagging less parliamentary seats than they did in 1989 or 1991. Had it become imperative for the communists to join the government notwithstanding the downslide in popularity (be it only marginal, but it is still a downslide all the same)? Was their participation required only to keep communal fascism at bay, even with the help of crucial and numerically much superior support of ‘soft’ communal forces like Congress?

It is a pity that instead of conducting a thoroughgoing examination of this unprecedented tactical step on the basis of fundamental tenets of Marxism-Leninism, some left intellectuals first took up a signature campaign urging CPI(M) Central Committe to participate in the new government. Later they debated that by declining the offer of premiership to Jyoti Basu the party has missed a golden opportunity to deal a decisive blow to communal forces. Some other left intellectuals came out in defence of this restraint and asserted that the party has in this way gained moral authority, which will come handy when, some day, sufficient actual strength in terms of number of MPs is achieved by the party for staking its claim to leadership of the government. Keeping the fact in mind that CPI(M) top body could reach a decision in this affair only by a slender majority vote, in all possibility the debate, instead of settling down, has spread far and wide. Precisely because of this, when CPI decided to join the council of ministers, CPI(M) did not enter into any vituperative polemics against it, which otherwise would have been the case.

Much energy has so far been poured by a set of intellectuals to prove the point that coming to power at state level does not put a party on the saddle of power, because all power is concentrated in the hands of centre. However, when the opportunity to join the central government finally came we hardly find any discussion on the question of strategy, on political programme; as if under the programme of democratic revolution a communist party can, whenever possible, seek participation in a bourgeois government against a rightist party considerd as the main enemy. In this purely pragmatic way of thinking there is no place for consideration of strategic perspective of revolution, of representing the future in the present political movement. Consequently, the cardinal task of taking independent communist initiative, safeguarding and propagating independent communist positions and posing themselves in opposition to bourgeois alternatives — takes a back seat or more often simply withers into oblivion.

The basic fallacy in this thought process lies in harbouring illusions about bourgeois parliament and relinquishing the ultimate task of breaking the bourgeois state by means of revolution. Despite suffering a defeat with the collapse of Second International, this social democratic mode of thinking came up again and again, prominently during the Great Debate and then with the rise of Eurocommunism.

Searching into the roots of this thought process in India, we find that while opting for participation in the first general elections held in 1952, CPI was indeed not so well placed compared to German Social Democratic Party in 1890s when the latter gave birth to social democratic trend. The CPI had withdrawn Telengana struggle and owing to the catastrophic failure of Ranadive line it had considerably lost its mass base in urban areas; still its expansion during the forties and the popularity of numerous struggles under its leadership had earned for it a place second only to the Congress, and it emerged as the main opposition party in the Parliament following the first general elections. This transition of CPI from primarily a semi-legal or illegal force leading struggles in fields and factories, to a party based primarily on parliamentary struggles started taking place at the juncture when India had just passed through a qualitative change in the imperialist domination over it. The party could establish no link between the strategic perspective of democratic revolution and its parliamentary practice. In retrospect it seems that this situation gave birth to the Indian variant of social democracy. Precisely due to this reason CPI instinctively followed the Soviet line as opposed to the Chinese one during the Great Debate, because from there they could elevate their tactics to the level of strategy and reform the strategy accordingly. While CPI(M) did not accept the Soviet position, they too failed to find a link between their parliamentary practice, including entering into coalitions and forming government in states on the one hand, and their strategic perspective on the other. In this sense they carried the germ of social democracy from the parent organisation. That is why to this date their parallels are found only among the social-democratic parties of Europe or Eurocommunist parties.

Origin of Social Democracy

Standing near the end of the 20th century, the century that heralded the era of imperialism and socialist revolution, we witness bourgeois intellectuals asserting the finality of bourgeois political and economic systems, thereby announcing an end to the history of class struggle. This view, coming up first with the advent of imperialism itself, has once again staked its claim of validity today when imperialism seems to be more dominant than ever. Also because the creation of USSR was the epitome of defeat of Social-Democracy.

It would be interesting to recall the conditions in which social democratic trend first surfaced. With the fall of Bismarck in 1890, the German Social Democratic Party faced a novel situation with the annulment of anti-socialist law. The introduction of this law, which forced on German Social Democratic Party a quasi-legal existence for 12 years, was connected with economic depression in Europe and consequent difficulties. The Social Democratic Party had confronted this difficult period courageously and emerged enormously strengthened. In these 12 years it raised its votes from 4,37,000 to 14,27,000 and the membership of its trade unions from 50,000 to 2,00,000. Being illegal the party could only use parliament as a propaganda platform for socialism. With the prospect for rapid and steady electoral growth, with a general climate which seemed favourable to social reforms, should not they abandon this purely negative attitude and take positive participation in the Reichstag debates, passing from non-cooperation to a constructive policy? Was it right to seek collaboration or alliance with other political forces? Was this not to run the risk that the party, still young and moreover swollen with recent recruits, would thereby lose its independence and identity? Then there was the question of attitude towards the Reich, should it be regarded as an enemy to fight, or accepted as a fact within which it was possible to work to obtain in the meanwhile the bourgeois-democratic reforms from which the German state was still far removed?

At its Erfurt Congress (October 1891) inspired by confidence and optimism, the leaders predicted that in a reasonable period of time, the Social Democratic Party would conquer the majority of seats in the Reichstag — and it could possibly not be overthrown by armed forces. At this point, backed by the maturity and consciousness attained by the masses, the party would undertake the socialist transformation of society, using parliament itself to this end. The fact that the party did not yet have this decisive influence in the Reichstag should not induce it to condemn the system outright. Wilhelm Liebnecht told at the Congress, "Parliament is nothing more than representative of the people. If we have not yet achieved results in parliament, this is not because of a defect in the system but simply because we have not yet got the necessary backing in the country and among the people". Majority in the congress opined that the other road which some urged, the shorter or violent road, was merely that of anarchy.

Had the German Social-Democratic Party already abandoned class conception of the state at that time and concluded that parliament was a super-class institution? No, not yet; but it had started believing that the automatic progress of economic evolution will go on and consequently its eventual rise to power would come about "in a spontaneous, constant, and irresistible way, quite tranquilly, like a natural process." That is, they had started thinking in terms of strategy although at that moment they were taking it as a tactical question only. And in this regard they had the support of Engels with them.

Writing in March 1895, only a few months before his death, in the introduction for the first reprinting of The Class Struggle in France Engels recognised "slow propaganda work and parliamentary activity" as the "immediate task of the Party" not only in Germany but also in France and other Latin countries, where, "it is realized more and more that the old tactics must be revised." Regarding German Social Democratic Party he said, "The two million votes whom it sends to the ballot box...form the most numerous, most compact mass, the decisive `shock force’ of the international proletarian army". "If it continues in this fashion, by the end of the century we shall conquer the greater part of the middle strata of society, petty bourgeois and small peasants, and grow into the decisive power in the land... To keep this growth growing without interruption until it of itself gets beyond the control of the prevailing government system, that is our main task." "There is only one means by which the steady rise of the socialist fighting forces in Germany could be eventually halted, and even thrown back for some time; a clash on a big scale with the military, a blood-letting like that of 1871 in Paris".

Engels concluded, "The irony of world history turns everything upside down. We the revolutionists, the ovethrowers, we are thriving far better on legal methods than on illegal methods and overthrow. The parties of order, as they call themselves, are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves. They cry despairingly with Odilon Barrot, legality is the death to us, while we, under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal."

Elevation of Tactics to Revisionist Stragegy

While Engels was clearly dealing here with the tactics adopted by the German Social Democratic Party at that juncture, Bernstein asserted that this tactical revision necessarily implied a revision of strategy, a revision of the basic premises of theoretical Marxism. Bernstein opined that the political practice of the party was correct. But in order to proceed unhaltingly and without contradictions along the path indicated by the new tactics, it was, he claimed, essential to free the party from the utopian and insurrectionist phraseology cultivated by the old theory. In February 1899 he wrote that "Marxism was not sufficiently realistic to him, it lagged behind the practical development of the movement. It may possibly still be all right for Russia...but in Germany we have outgrown this old form."

Bernstein also contested the theory of polarisation of society into two classes: the idea of growing immiseration and proletarianisation of the middle strata; and finally, the concept of the progressive worsening of economic crises and consequent growth of revolutionary tension. According to him, factory legislation, the democratisation of communal administration and universal suffrage tend to erode the very basis of class struggle. Therefore, where parliamentary democracy is dominant, the state can no longer be seen as the organ of class rule. "The more the political institutions of modern nations become democratised, the more the occasions and necessity for great political crises are removed". Hence the working class should not strive to seize power by revolution, but should rather seek to reform the State, remodeling it in a more and more democratic mould.

The Nature of Bourgeois State

Bernstein’s claim that parliamentary democracy ‘tends to erode the very basis of class struggle’ was based on the theory that in bourgeois state there is a contradiction between political democracy and capitalist exploitation, and the development of political equality must necessarily gradually reduce and overcome economic inequalities and hence class differences. But according to Marx, state or "political power is precisely the official expression of class antagonism in bourgeois society." It means that by reducing or overcoming of class differences, parliamentary democracy itself moves towards withering away of state!

About bourgeois constitution which guarantees political equality, Marx wrote in The Class Struggle in France that "the comprehensive contradiction of this constitution, however, consists in the following: the classes whose social slavery the constitution is to perpetuate, proletariat, peasantry, petty bourgeoisie, it puts in possession of political power through universal suffrage. And from the class whose old social power it sanctions, the bourgeoisie, it withdraws the political guarantees of this power. It forces the political rule of the bourgeoisie into democratic conditions, which at every moment help the hostile classes to victory and jeopardise the very foundations of bourgeois society. From the ones it demands that they should not go forward from political to social emancipation; from the others they should not go back from social to political restoration." Here, while admitting that through universal suffrage the working people are in a certain sense in possession of political power, it has also to be admitted that it perpetuates their social slavery as well. And while political guarantees of power are withdrawn from the bourgeoisie, it sanctions its old social power. So the contradiction between social power and social slavery remains, which in no way means erosion of the basis of class struggle. Hiding this fact under the cover of contradiction between politics (constitution and parliamentary government) and economy (capitalism), social democracy suggests that the non-antagonistic contradiction between political equality and economic inequality in a bourgeois state can be resolved by class unity in place of class struggle.

Admittedly the bourgeois state brings everybody into political life through universal suffrage, thus recognising for the first time the existence of a common or public interest, or you can call it a general will or sovereignty of the people. But it can only turn this common interest into a formal one. Real interests in the society remain particularistic, opposed to one another by the class division of the society. According to Marx, "The constitutional state is a state in which the state interest as a real interest of the people exist only formally. The state interest formally has reality as an interest of the people but it can only express this reality in formal terms." Hence, in the modern state "general affairs and occupying oneself with them is a monopoly, while by contrast monopolies are real general affairs."

Marx’s statement that in bourgeois society particular or class interest take an illusory form of universal or general interests — which is the very pivot of his entire analysis of the modern relation between political equality and social inequality — is not characteristic of all types of class domination. If this is misunderstood one cannot explain bourgeois state as an organic product of bourgeois society; instead it is either seen as an invention, a conscious disguise or fraud by the ruling classes, or it is seen as inter-class or above-class institution. This is same as the concept of state of the whole people peddled by CPSU during the Great Debate. In both the cases it is not necessary to destroy the state by means of revolution, rather a change in the personnel running the state can serve the purpose of socialist transformation.

Parliament and State

Parliament is not an institution imposed on the bourgeoisie by the struggle of the toiling masses. It is an institution of typical bourgeois origin, originally designed to control the use of taxes paid by the bourgeoisie. That is why the bourgeoisie traditionally opposed universal suffrage, preferring to restrict the right to elect deputies to the owners of capital. Universal suffrage, on the other hand, was a conquest imposed on a recalcitrant bourgeoisie by the workers’ movement. The same goes for freedoms of press, association, demonstration, strike, etc. The bourgeoisie limits the scope of fundamental democratic rights to prevent them from conflicting with the defence of private property. The extension of democratic right of franchise has another result — more than 50% of direct tax is now paid by the workers, not to speak of indirect taxes the burden of which is invariably borne by them. The more representatives of workers’ movement gain admittance into parliament, the more the role of parliament in the ensemble of mechanisms of the bourgeois state tends to narrow.

One of the major ideological campaign of the bourgeoisie is its hammering home the false axioms: no political and individual freedom without bourgeois parliamentary democracy. And international social democracy vigorously propagates this ideological mystification.

Parliament is but one of the institutions of the state. According to Lenin, "the state is a `special coercive force’ ... for suppression of proletariat by bourgeoisie, of millions of working people by a handful of rich." Even in most democratic republics, he said, "the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism", on the other hand, was "to decide once every few years which member of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament". Later Mao went a step further in explaining it from Chinese experience and formulated that army is the main organ of state power.

State Vs. Democracy

According to Engels and Lenin, democracy also is a state, and withers away with withering of state. Political form of state after socialist revolution is the most complete democracy and this state in general can only ‘wither away’.

As bourgeois democracy based on universal suffrage merely grants the right to elect, and not even the right to recall, people cannot have their say or take part in day to day political affairs. The government thus elected runs the affairs of state through bureaucratic and military apparatus. It is inherent in this kind of democracy, or state, that it cannot get transformed into most complete democracy. It becomes imperative to break this parliamentary democracy in order to achieve most complete democracy.

As opposed to this limited, indirect (parliamentary) democracy exercised by people through franchise, people take part in such other public institutions where they can enjoy direct democracy, take part in day-to-day political life. The more the direct impetus and action of the masses increases, the more their mobilisation broadens, the more their initiatives of self-organisation and direct democracy in the most varied domains will multiply — from workers’ control of the factories to the organisation of ‘people’s markets’, from the takeover of public services to the establishment of cultural institutions and unofficial creches. But the more the arena of direct democracy expands in this manner, the more the conflict with the institutions of the bourgeois state will widen and become irreconcilable. In this way sovereignty of the parliament is pitted against the new popular sovereignty of the mobilised masses. This real democracy is incompatible with an accentuation and reinforcement of the power of the representative organs — it has been confirmed again and again by all revolutionary periods, from Paris Commune to Russian and Portuguese Revolution.

However, as we witness in India too, social democracy discourages and downplays mass initiative and relies more on bureaucractic machine to get whatever meagre reforms it plans to undertake. Moreover, their disregard of the potential of institutions of direct democracy makes them defenceless in face of fascist encroachment and attack. Gaining parliamentary majority has no direct relationship with gaining majority in these organs of direct democracy. Only in rare cases parliamentary majority and majority in organs of direct democracy can be simultaneously achieved by the Left, depending on a peculiarly developed situation.

Social Democracy and Parliament

With the sole intention of gaining majority in parliament, social democracy in place of exposing the true features of bourgeois parliament, strives for deepening illusions about it and enhancing the decorum and prestige of the parliament. For example in Italy, the communist chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies re-established the practice of wearing ties observing it in an extremely strict manner.

Bufalini, one of the major leaders of Italian Communist Party, told the Central Committee in March 1977, "The workers and people’s movement must collaborate with forces prepared to safeguard the democratic order and must support them morally and publicly. The police have never been enemy to us, not even during 1950s and 1960s, when they were used to defend class privileges and when we clashed with them. But today the situation has completely changed, been overturned. Today the police are called upon to defend the democratic order against the attacks of gangs that are enemies of this order, enemies of the republic born of the resistance."

The programmatic agreement between PCI and five other ‘Parties of the Constitutional Arc’, including Christian Democracy, a major political party of big capital, contained an entire section on the defence of ‘public law and order’ — it granted very broad discretionary powers to the bourgeois police. As a consequence the police in Italy could resort to preventive detention of suspects, proceed directly to interrogation of arrested persons without the presence of a lawyer, search housing claimed to be a subversive hideout even without a warrant, and engage in telephone tappings at will.

In our country too, communists are very much worried to maintain the decorum and prestige of the parliament, some of the veterans among them have already been presented with the award of best parliamentarian. And wherever communists came to power in states, they started covering up police atrocities repeating the bourgeois plea of keeping up the morale of police force, which they prop up as defender of law and order, concealing their actual role as defender of bourgeois and feudal property. They have always followed the bourgeois norm of regarding the army as sacred cow.

United Front against Fascism

Those who justify coalition in electoral arena and parliamentary institutions with bourgeois political parties often quote from Dimitrov’s writings on united front against fascism. They simply miss the fact that while criticising Left socialists for taking UF policy against fascism as a retreat from the position of class struggle, he also warned that "maintaining a People’s Front in France does not mean by far that working class will support the present government at any price... If for some reason or other the existing government should turn out to be unable to put through the programme of the People’s Front, if it takes the line of retreat before the enemy at home and abroad, if its policy leads to the discrediting of the People’s Front and thus weakens the resistance to the fascist offensive, then the working class, while further strengthening the bonds of the People’s Front, will strive to bring about the substitution of another government for the present one..."

Warning against the tendency of class collaboration that was cropping up while building such fronts, he said "Class collaboration disorganises the working people, undermines their parties and organisations, consolidates class position of the bourgeoisie, saves it from critical situations in which it may find itself at a given moment owing to the dissatisfaction of the people. It means the actual sell-out of the independence of the proletariat and the poor urban and rural masses against a mass of pottage for the aims of bourgeoisie and capitalism." Here are a lesson or two for Indian communists!

Citing the case of Bulgaria he said, "class collaboration in Bulgaria incontestably proves that the coalition governments of the bourgeois parties with the Social-Democratic Party or other petty bourgeois parties are always temporary governments for the defence and salvation of the bourgeoisie from popular movements threatening it at a given moment... Once it succeeds in overcoming the difficulties and dangers and getting back firmly on its feet, the bourgeoisie immediately dispenses with the collaboration of the Social Democratic Party and, after having attained its ends, kicks it out of office without much ado." Therefore, "for the realisation of the united front the first and inevitable condition is — to reject absolutely the tactics of class collaboration with bourgeoisie and break up the government coalition with the Democratic Union and National Liberal Party."


In 1977 several communist parties of Western Europe together came up with the following which is called Eurocommunist strategy. Its principal thesis regards that it is impossible to achieve socialism in the industrialized countries without the consensus of a large majority of the population, which can be achieved only through bourgeois parliamentary institutions. The nature of these institutions is such that they can be progressively emptied of their class content, i.e., they can cease to be props for the class rule of the bourgeoisie. This is a consequence particularly of the constant extension of the role of the state in economic life, which transposes the major contradictions of society into the state itself. Head-on confrontation between the bourgeoisie as a whole and the isolated proletariat must be averted at all costs, not only because such a confrontation would surely end in the defeat of the working class, but also because it would inevitably lead to the destruction of bourgeois parliamentary institutions and would thus postpone any chance of a breakthrough towards socialism for a protracted period. In order to win sufficient parliamentary majority, the workers’ movement can and must fight for structural reforms which will transform the nature of the capitalist system by stages and will eventually alter its very nature.

The essential stage now before us is that of the anti-monopoly alliance, or ‘advanced democracy’, which, first weakening and then abolishing the power of the monopolies, will deal a decisive blow to capitalism and will enable the weight and power of the toiling masses in the society to grow quantitatively, through various mechanisms of democratisation of economic life and through the participation of the masses in the administration of the state. This stage is a decisive transitional one towards the abolition of capitalism and the advent of socialism. In itself, however, ‘advanced democracy’ constitutes neither capitalism nor socialism. This anti-monopoly alliance must include, in addition to the working class and the mass of employees, a good part of the peasantry and a considerable portions of the small and middle bourgeoisie. That is why it is inappropriate to challenge the system of private property during the initial stage.

The notion of ‘advanced democracy’ had already been presented earlier by Francois Billoux of the Communist Party of France. While commemorating 100th anniversary of Paris Commune in April 1971, he talked about a transitional phase, which he called advanced democracy, between bourgeois state and socialist state. During this phase the working class must undergo an apprentiship in directing the state. This is really a strange project — why should working class learn to direct a bourgeois state? In that case, does this ‘advanced democracy’ contain something like dual power? No, it was clarified by Lucien Seve of French Communist Party in 1977 in his concept of ‘democratic state’ which is no longer an instrument of domination, it is neither bourgeois nor proletarian. "By modifying the content of the state bequeathed by state monopoly capitalism, ‘advanced democracy’ liberates the dynamism of the classes and layers exploited and dominated by finance capital", he says. In other words, by replacing the personnel at the head of the state apparatus, this strategy seeks to use the same state in the service of the toiling masses.

It is interesting to note that CPSU in its organ Pravda on March 1, 1977 supported this Eurocommunist strategy in following words:that "there can be no success unless the working class, all the toiling masses, transform parliament from an instrument of domination of the bourgeoisie into a representative of the interests of the working people... The programmes for profound transformation of the economic structure of the society, the construction of a state of democratic alliance, a government of a bloc of left forces, an anti-monopoly democracy and others, which have been proposed by several communist parties in Europe and in other parts of the world today, are intermediary stages and transitional forms on the road to socialism, which take account of the concrete conditions in each country."

Following the Soviet approval this strategy was adopted by CPI uncriticaly; but CPI(M) while having no differene in practice never acknowledged it as their theoretical guide. No wonder some Left intellectuals justfy their acts by comparing them with Eurocommunist parties.

The Attrition Strategy

The act of declining premiership by CPI(M) Central Committee has been justified by some intellectuals on the ground that it should have called for a head on collision with saffron forces and the bourgeoisie, the powerfull sections of which have already gone to the side of khaki shorts. So to avoid the fascist backlash it was better not to stake the claim. Instead one should follow what Gramsci terms as ‘war of attrition’.

In his debate with Rosa Luxemberg, Kautsky in 1910 formulated the attrition strategy, according to which the workers’ movement, rather than seeking to take the enemy fortress by assault in one fell swoop, thus putting everything at stake and risking all the gains of partial progress and accumulation of forces, should begin by encircling the fortress and undermining it, compelling the enemy to make repeated and costly sorties resulting in defeats. The workers should divide the enemy and provoke a gradual erosion of his will to win, and even his will to fight. The fortress can then eventually be taken at low cost.

Kautsky’s strategy failed miserably. It led not to the collapse of the capitalist fortress, but to the collapse of the German workers’ movement, through the well known stages of 4 August 1914, the suffocation of the revolutions of 1918 and 1923, and the capitulation to the advent of Nazis to power in 1933. Successive applications of a similar strategy by the communist parties in France and Spain between 1935 and 1938 likewise led to bloody defeats. A similar strategy was applied by the communist parties in France, Italy and other smaller countries of Europe between 1944 and 1947, they all failed. The same strategy was applied in Chile at the end of 1960s and beginning of 1970s under Unidad Popular. It resulted in a bloody defeat in the Pinochet coup of 1973.

The basic question of power does not lie in communist party’s strength sufficient for taking on khaki shorts. Whether by continuing the current pratice of parliamentarism for a considerably long period can the main structures of the state— the army and the police— be democratised gradually as a consequence? Whether we should wait and hope that one day the bourgeois state apparatus will start respecting the "will and vote of the majority" even if it comes into irreconcilable conflict with the fundamental class interests of the bourgeoisie?

Eurocommunists plan that a democratic reform would assign the police the sole mission of guaranteeing liberties and assuring personal security and the protection of property, respecting the legality and institutions with which the people have endowed themselves. This coincides with the interests of the police personnel themselves. But then they also recommend that capitalism still remains and should not be abolished during the phase of ‘advanced democracy’.

Left Eurocommunists

There is a left variety of Eurocommunism represented by Bruno Trentin, trade union leader of Italian Communist Party. Borrowing ideas from Gramsci and Adler, Trentin suggests that councils (factory councils, zonal councils, neighborhood communities, committees of users of public utilities, school and university councils etc.) being public institutions as opposed to private ones like party and trade unions, as autonomous and conflictual power, should become a second power, or a real second chamber of a socialist democracy, to the extent that it remains a force of conflictual control, complementing the action of other democratic institutions including elected institutions. And then, the decentralisation of the powers of the state at the territorial level and the multiplication of instances of confrontation between institutional structures of the state (national and regional legislatures) and institutionalised forms of direct democracy which may emerge at the local and national level (councils) become the new terrain of initiatives of the workers’ movement, for a transformation of the state during the phase of transition.

This transition requires time — where institutions of bourgeois democracy preserve enormous prestige and legitimacy in the eyes of the masses. therefore, masses must undergo an apprentiship in new and higher forms of democracy. On the other hand, bourgeois institutions, army included, must undergo a process of decomposition and progressive paralysis. This concrete historical stage is called dual power stage — counterposed against the stage of ‘advanced democracy’.


Despite first complaining for not being consulted before the budget, the CPI(M) was quick to shower accolades on a naked liberalisation budget presented by essentially a Congressman, Chidambaram. CPI could not be far behind. In view of some ‘irresponsible’ comments by Indrajeet Gupta, disciplinarians in CPI have started asking explanations from him. Thus in all probability the Left partners of United Front are expected to behave in a ‘responsible’ manner and help the bourgeois government led by Deve Gauda government to carry the unfinished liberalisaion task of previous Congress government. This tactics of class collaboration in the name of fighting saffron monster has constrained them to abandon the role of Left opposition.

The moral of the true story of Indian communist movement. Whatever tactics you adopt, particularly in the period of absence of revolutionary crisis, to expand your base and effect a favourable change in the balance of class forces, it must always conform to the strategic aims of revolution. As communists represent future in the present-day movement, they can hardly afford to give up their independent political position and initiative for whatsoever temporary gains. Forgetting this may lead you towards the tactics of class collaboraion, and sustained pursuance of such tactics may even lead you to revise the strategic perspective also, turning your communist party into a social-democratic one. In that eventuality the party may reflect conservative approach in the periods of revolutionary crisis and liberal one during the low ebb of revolution. Consequently, the party would never be in a position to take advantage of a reolutionary situation, rather it try to bail bourgeoisie out of such crises. Therefore, notwithstanding the necessary task of winning over all possible Left and democratic and patriotic and progressive forces through joint action and united front, to revolutionary left it always remains primary to sustain and champion its independent position and initiative which would again be very much needed in launching an assault at the enemy fortress in the period of revolutionary crisis.