The Question of an Approach to WSF/MR


From People´s March, Voice of the Indian Revolution

During the build up to the two programmes there were a number of articles from the M-L camp that opposed holding an alternative event. These attacks came both from the …‘left´ and also the right within the ML camp. There were also other attacks from the non-Marxist WSF circles, which were mostly scurrilous and superficial. In this polemic we shall only deal with the attacks from the M-L circles and not from those outside the M-L camp.

The approach put forward by the MR (Mumbai Resistance-2004, Against Imperialist Globalisation and War) was that it was not correct to either participate in the WSF (World Social Forum) or to boycott. They said the correct attitude would be to politically intervene, both internally and externally, where the alternative event held externally would be the main form of the intervention. "Intervention" is not to be confused with "participation", where the latter means becoming one of the participating organisations of the WSF (in other words accepting its Charter) and thereby lending credibility to it; "intervention" entails politically intervening in the WSF process (which gathers thousands towards it) to impact the genuine elements from amongst them, without becoming a part of it.

The …‘left´ said that one should boycott the event and clearly put the alternative MLM line and oppose any from the WSF coming to the alternative programme. The rightists basically saw the WSF as progressive and anti-imperialist (though with some/many lacunae) and therefore called on all to be part of it.

The main proponents of the …‘left´ approach were those who organised a third event (through their front organizations) led by CPI(ML)New Democracy (henceforth called ND) and the SOC (State Organising Committee of TamilNadu). The main proponents of the rightist approach were CoRIM/RCPUSA (Committee of Revolutionary International Movement and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA), CPI(ML)Liberation and a handful of M-L groups from India. There was yet another rightist trend which was defeatist, promoted by the CPI(ML)Red Flag (henceforth called RF) and also reflected in the article that appeared in the Feb.2004 issue of the magazine "For a Proletarian Party" (FAPP). The RF and their associates held a meeting (under party banners) before the WSF began, on Jan. 14 and 15; ironically some of these constituents participated in the WSF, while the RF had called for a boycott during the time of the ASF (Asia Social Forum).

In this polemic we shall argue against all these incorrect trends and will show how both trends, whether …‘left´ or right lead to the same result …— the continued political isolation of the Maoist (i.e. proletarian) forces from the other democratic, progressive, anti-imperialist and dissident sections of the masses within the anti-imperialist movement in India. The …‘left´ achieved this through a sectarian and isolationist tactic cutting themselves off from the mass upsurge against the US and its war-mongering (and in India against the growing anger against the Hindu fascists); while the rightist achieved this through drowning their own identity within the WSF jamboree through tailist politics, where their mild criticisms were drowned in the huge cacophony of the social-democrats, post-modernists and their loud clamour of reformist trash …— not to mention the voices of the numerous pillars of the establishment from the UN, European MPs, representatives of the indian ruling classes, etc.

In this article we do not wish to take up the issue as to what tactics is necessary at the international plane as we are not equipped to understand the ramifications in the various countries of the world. The tactics on how best to politically intervene would have to be decided as per the conditions (both objective and subjective) in the respective countries, as to how best it would be to impact on that section of individuals/organizations attending the WSF who are genuinely anti-imperialist (to whatever extent) to the maximum with the genuine anti-imperialist stand-point and practice. But, whatever may be the tactic adopted, as far as the political/ideological question goes there should be no compromise anywhere, on bringing out and exposing the pro-imperialist class character of the leadership of the WSF …— i.e. the fusion of ruling class social-democrats with imperialist-funded NGOs. Without a thorough exposure there is no question of winning those who attend to the correct anti-imperialist position and practice. Clear lines of demarcation need to be drawn with them. What is surprising is that on such an important contemporary event the international Maoists have remained relatively silent and the major exposures (though there has not been any all-round exposure) have come from other progressive forces, even though the WSF had been in existence for over three years prior to the Mumbai event. This is a serious lacuna. The first thoroughgoing exposure by Maoists appears to have come from India through the New Vistas publication (of articles from this magazine) and the booklet by the "Aspects of Indian Economy".

Having said this, let us first briefly recapitulate the background of the WSF and its class character (For further details please refer to the New Vistas and …‘Aspects…….´ booklets on the subject). On this basis we will then devise what should have been our tactics to it. Then we shall analyse the various other trends vis-a-vis the standpoint taken. Finally we will give the proletarian viewpoint to such an event.

Background To The WSF

The 1990s witnessed an unprecedented offensive of imperialism on the people of the world, particularly those of the backward countries. The attack was all-round …— economic, political, social, military and cultural. The ferocity of the offensive spared none. This was linked to the deepening crisis of imperialism which burst into the open at the turn of the century. Towards the beginning of the new century the offensive took the form of wars of aggression, particularly by US imperialism, utilizing as a pretext the 9/11 incident. As a result of this growing offensive there has been a growing world-wide resistance. This came to prominence during the Seattle WTO meet in the US. Since then the movements in the west have intensified …— Genoa, Prague, London, etc …— culminating in the worldwide rallies against the US´s impending war on Iraq on Feb.15 last year, where millions participated in about 70 countries of the world. It is in this scenario, soon after Seattle, that the WSF was born. None of the promoters of the WSF like ATTAC, COB, Global Focus On South, Oxfam, Ford Foundation or the PT of Brazil were part of those historical street battles against the global powers in Seattle, Genoa, Prague, etc.

In fact preparations for some such a body had been going on for some time. While these street battles were creating nightmares for the imperialist forces, these so-called founders of the WSF were discussing and helping out the World Bank, ADB etc, about the measures to deal with this inevitable outcome of globalisation...... So, for example, Ignacio Ramonet, the editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, the mother of ATTAC, in an article on Porto Allegre in Le Monde Diplomatique, January 2001, put forward the view that the purpose of the WSF was not " to protest as in Seattle, Washington or Prague ... but to try, this time with a constructive spirit, to propose a theoretical framework and practice that allows us to advocate a new globalisation and affirm that a new world is possible, less inhuman, reduced in equality and more solidarity-based".

In fact, the social crisis resulting due to the globalisation process has been a point of serious discussion in the World Bank, IMF, UN, and ADB right from the times of the East Asian crisis. Then onwards the WB policy suggestion has been to include social dimension to build safety nets and safety valves. To achieve this, the fullest participation of NGO´s and "civil society" is being encouraged. Right from the very first meetings in that direction big NGO´s participation is being ensured. A World Bank/NGO Asia Pacific Commi-ttee had been constituted, in which the NGO, Global Focus On South, a founder of WSF, has been an active member.

In fact "Project World Social Forum 2004" estimates total expenditure for the event at $29.7 million (about Rs 135 crore), the bulk of which, $26.2 million, is the cost of the delegates´ participation (transportation, accommodation and food). Funding agencies would bear much of this cost, since an army of NGO functionaries and employees would be attending …— nearly all of the country´s foreign-funded NGOs would be present, as well as many from abroad. The visits of many important personages too would be sponsored by NGOs. However, these sums would be disbursed directly to delegates without entering the WSF Secretariat accounts. The amount provided by foundations/funding agencies directly to the WSF Secretariat is a small fraction of such funds actually involved in the WSF meet.

from Aspect of Indian Economy

In its 4th meeting the World Bank team stated that the Conference would mark a new phase in partnership with NGOs, based on a common interest in poverty alleviation and social development! Since then various high level donor and minister meetings have been held to discuss the need to react on the social implications of the Asian financial crisis. For example, the regular APEC Finance Minister meetings and the working group on social safety nets, the meeting in Bangkok (January 1999) organized by the World Bank, and the Sydney meeting of Foreign Ministers (March 1999), sponsored by the Government of Australia. ASEAN has also been holding various conferences on the Asian economic crisis and on human resources development. In July 1998, the World Bank, together with other donors, has established the ASEM Thrust Fund to undertake analytical and strategic work on East and Southeast Asia to which many TNCs and imperialist governments provided the funds. It was at this moment that ATTAC, the organization to demand taxing TNCs in service of citizens, was also formed in France and later expanded all over Europe and to Latin American countries also. Since it was very much in the ambit and the immediate necessity of imperialism, the French govt. readily accepted the same. Thus it was not from the blue that idea of Tobin Tax fell, as claimed by the Bernad Cassen of ATTAC. It was in conformity with the changing requirements of the imperialist system that the idea was implemented.

Thus in one such meeting to discuss Social Issues Arising from the East Asia Economic Crisis and Policy Implications for the Future, held in Bangkok, Thailand, on January 21-22 1999, the objective of such endeavors were clearly drawn out: "The answer is not to give up the benefits of liberalization - but rather to strengthen our governance systems - and the social safety nets to protect the vulnerable". In this meeting it was decided to organize an exclusive forum to discuss social issues arising from the East Asian crisis in Manila during November ´99 …— a month earlier to Seattle, and one year before the formation of WSF! And it was to be called the Manila Social Forum..!

During December 2000 the UN organized in Geneva a Social Summit to discuss social issues emanating from globalisation. In this a paper was presented jointly by the WB, IMF, OECD and UN, which openly admitted that the "globalization of capital and information has not always resulted in the globalization of better living standards."

In the same convention the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, launched: A Better World for All: Progress towards the international development goals …— a joint report of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, and the United Nations. It was a project jointly conceived by the market forces with institutional support by the IMF, WB, and UN, assuring the anguished populace of bringing back poverty to "sustainable levels". The obstacles to achieve that end were identified as Conflicts, Bad governance and weak economic policy. The participation of …‘civil society´, especially the NGOs, was sought to mitigate the obstacles……which was faithfully accepted by the by-standing NGOs……It was at the closing session of this summit, where hundreds of NGO´s were present, that the declaration and invitation for participation in the World Social Forum was first declared ..! Thus even the Social in the nomenclature of World Social Forum does not signify anything radical; it only denotes the new need of the imperialist system.

What they called a "safety net" is actually a "safety valve" to allow the discontent building up against the system to have a safe outlet. Already the lakhs of NGOs spread out throughout the world were doing the same thing. So were the powerful social-democratic and revisionist parties, no doubt with a …‘socialist´ mask. Both these got a boost with a setback to communism, particularly with the reversal in China after 1976. The collapse of the rival imperialist bloc of the soviet social imperialists in the late 1980s gave unprecedented sway to the western imperialists, led by the US over the entire world. Imperialist-funded NGOs have been promoted in a big way to channelise the popular discontent along constitutional, peaceful and harmless ways by acting as safety valves. They try to instill the false belief among the oppressed that there is no alternative to capitalism and that capitalism has finally triumphed. They proclaim that Marxism has become outdated and communism is dead, and hence one should strive to improve the contemporary world by democratising …‘civil society´ and promote …‘globalisation with a human face´. They take up an apparent anti-state stand, which looks outwardly attractive to progressive circles too. However, they try to accomplish privatisation at the micro-level what their masters do at the macro level. They seek to de-politicise the masses by talking in terms of non-Party activism. They claim that they are apolitical and call upon the masses to stay away from all political parties including the revolutionaries; that they should solve their problems themselves through self-help, cooperation etc. Thus, by advocating such a seemingly apolitical strategy the NGOs actually work to preserve the status quo and to retain the influence of the prevailing ruling class ideology and politics on the masses. They pose themselves as an alternative to the political parties and try to replace the revolutionary parties by projecting themselves as the champions of the poor. They seek to demobilise the masses by diverting them from the path of struggle and co-opting the best elements into the establishment and reformism. They seek to stall the advance of revolutions in the subtlest of ways. Hence the NGOs select the most backward, strategic regions that are the potential storm-centres of revolution for their work besides concentrating on the basic classes in the urban slums.

It is in this background, and as the situation tended to become more and more explosive throughout the world, that we find these NGOs joining with the ruling-class social-democrats to create the WSF. It was a highly potent mix with which to rope in the unassuming discontented masses …— combining the aura of …‘socialism´ of the social democrats with the laissie faire organizational methods of the NGOs. ATTAC, joined up with the PT (Workers´ Party…………. now the ruling party, faithfully implementing IMF policies) of Brazil, to form the WSF. Under the initiative of these ruling-class social democrats thousands of NGOs joined up. Their anti-globalisation rhetoric fools many an innocent and leads them into a trap. What was anyhow being done independently by NGOs and social-democrats for decades was now sought to be given an organized international form through the fusion of the two in the WSF to give the "safety valve" more affectivity in the light of a growing movement which was threatening to make these forces redundant. Desperate situations called for desperate strategies by the rulers. In a way, this can be likened to the British imperialist conspiracy in forming the congress party in 1885 to diffuse and divert the growing militancy of the masses into peaceful and harmless channels by maintaining the myth of leading the anti-British struggle thereby attempting to deprive real leadership to the people´s struggles.

Quite naturally its first focus was Latin America which is seething with discontent, with some form of armed struggle erupting all over the sub-continent …— an area which has witnessed the most disastrous impact of globalization (as in Argentina), well before the rest of the world. Its second focus was South Asia which is seeing a rising tide of revolutionary Maoist movements together with armed struggles of the various oppressed nationalities. It is not surprising that its first experimental project, in the ASF (Asia Social Forum) was held in Hyderabad which is a key centre of the Maoist upsurge. Here, not a word was mentioned against one of the worst killer regimes in the world, of Chandrababu Naidu; who also is the most vociferous implementer of World Bank/IMF policies in the region. It has also now spread to Europe which has been at the heart of the anti-globalisation movements of the West.

In the Mumbai WSF, though thousands of genuine (but confused) people would have attended, it was led by imperialist-sponsored NGOs, big-name intellectuals for reforming globalisation …— both rabidly anti-communist …— and ruling class-social democrats. Though kept at low-key, present were the likes of Bardhan (CPI general secretary), Yechuri (CPM PB member), Brazil Cultural Minister, and some 200 Members of Parliament from Europe and elsewhere. Mary Robinson, ex president of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, promised to carry the WSF message to the WEF (World Economic Forum at Davos). The World Bank Chief, James Wolfensohn, sent his message. Even the chief guest at the rally was a pillar of the Indian reactionary system, the ex president of India, K.R.Narayan. The WSF headquarters were the Mumbai headquarters of the CPI. 60% of the Rs.8.5 crores of the declared expenditure came from the NGOs Oxfam (linked to the British government), Hivos and Novib (both linked to the Netherlands government), according to Gautam Modi, coordinator of the media cell of WSF. Leading the trend of neo-liberal reformers (with a human face) was the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz {who was a member of the US Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) from 1993 to 95 during Clinton rule and served as CEA chairman from 1995-97; to then become chief economist and senior vice-president of the World Bank from 1997-2000, from which he resigned due to apparent differences with how to handle the S.E.Asian crisis}.

So, in the light of this background and the class nature of the WSF, what ought to have been the most effective approach towards the WSF at its 4th Conference in Mumbai …— the first ever held outside Porto Alegre, Brazil?

What Then Is A Correct Approach?

Having once determined the nature of the WSF what then should be the attitude of the proletariat towards it? The aim of the sponsors of the WSF is obviously to forge an alliance between the pro-imperialist leaders (NGOs & ruling class social democrats) and the mass of progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the world; with a conscious aim of keeping out the revolutionaries. Having done this they seek to divert the movement into forms of dissidence that are acceptable to the imperialists and other reactionary classes. Endless "reflective thinking", vehement opposition to any systematic organization, unqualified opposition to violent resistance of the masses and communism (called totalitarian systems), seeking to reform globalization by giving it a human face (not attacking its roots in imperialism), etc. etc. are all the methods to achieve the above aims.

Given these as the goals of the sponsors of the WSF what should be our approach? Quite obviously the main aim of the revolutionaries would be to break the hold of the apologists of imperialism over this section of the masses and win them over to an alliance with the revolutionaries. This is not merely organizational, but primarily political. It is inconceivable without a thorough-going exposure of the leadership of the WSF and its political content. Only then can one win the masses under their influence over to a correct anti-imperialist line and PRACTICE. And in this process alone can they be politically consolidated …— and must be consolidated in a Front of all anti-imperialist, democratic, progressive and dissident forces.

Now, given these factors let us look at the fourth WSF conference that took place in India in Jan.2004. It has also already been shown that its purpose is to act as a "safety valve" to "institutionalize dissent". It takes on the attitude of posturing against "globalization", while at the same time leading its followers into a trap. Much what the social democrats and NGOs are anyhow doing long before the WSF came into existence. But, the heady mix of the social democrat´s fake socialism and the NGO´s liaise faire postmodernism in the WSF, makes it a beautiful sugar-coated poison, swallowed up by the discerning …— particularly the liberal, even the Marxist. The utopian liberal would like socialism, but not with all the trappings of tight discipline, armed struggle, violence, proletarian dictatorship, state repression, et al. So also, for the anarchist, the combi-nation of socialism of the social-democrats and the lack of organizational principles of the NGOs, is an ideal mix. What then better than the promise of "Another World is Possible" through the carnival-type …‘dissent´ of the WSF, confined to debates, that too without any focus.

But that the ordinary liberal should get enticed is one thing; understandable, given the lack of an effective revolutionary communist alternative today. So, at the time of the ASF last year one witnessed raptu-rous articles in the media by an assortment of liberals. At that time it was something new to India. But when Maoists, and other so-called radicals, also fall into the trap, then one is saddened at the poverty of ideology seen in the Marxist world today. The purity of ideology is not to be seen in its repetitive ability of claiming oneself as the standard-bearers of it, but in its revolutionary application to today´s reality. Ideology is only meaningful when it acts as a concrete guide to correct action; not a dogma to be worshipped in abstraction.

Now having decided on the class character of the leadership of the WSF, what then should be the attitude of the revolutionary towards it? Quite naturally the tactic to be adopted should be that which most effectively can wean away the thousands being duped by the WSF leadership, towards a correct anti-imperialist line and platform. In other words, fracture the alliance being orchestrated between the imperialist agents and many a genuine progressive; and in its place build the anti-imperialist alliance between the proletarian forces and the other genuine democrats and progressives.

Now, once the goal is clear, then the best method of achieving it is determined by both the objective and subjective conditions then prevailing.

As far as the objective situation in India goes the situation is ripe for building a more effective anti-imperialist and a general democratic alliance in the country, First, the devastating impact of the policies of LPG (liberalization, privatization and globalization) on the lives of the people are pushing them to desperation, where only revolution is being seen as the alternative. Second, the brutalities of the state on the struggling masses on a scale seen only in the colonial period, with little respect to even the nominal democratic norms, give the masses no alternative. This, together with Hindutva fascism of the Sangh Parivar has made life for the minorities, particularly the Muslims, a hell …— Gujarat was only the tip of the iceberg. Thirdly, the US´s aggressive war policies, particularly as seen in Iraq and the Zionist role in Palestine, has brought the question of armed resistance onto the agenda for all democrats (not just the revolutionaries). Particularly the heroic armed resistance of the Iraqi people has posed the question before all …— either support the resistance or get shown up as apologists of US aggression.

So, all these factors have resulted in the maturing of the objective situation for a firm alliance between the general progressive and the revolutionary forces. As regarding the maturing of the subjective factor the main point is the growth of the people´s wars in South Asia and the growing unity of the Maoists, not only in India, but also in South Asia. Particularly the gigantic strides of the people´s war in Nepal, the revival of people´s war in Bangladesh and the reported media news of closer cooperation between the MCCI and the CPI(ML)(PW), are factors that result in the process of the maturing of the subjective forces. In addition it was seen at MR that even at the international level that a section of the Maoists could act in relative unison, taking a common approach towards the WSF.

The liberals´ flirtations with non-violence is being fast realized as totally impotent in the present reality, and the demand is there for a more effective striking force in the country, against both fascist terror and imperialist gangsterism. The sincere progressives know that it is only through an alliance with the Maoists that such an effective force can be built. So, even the subjective situation is already turning more and more ripe with the genuine progressives seeking alliance with the proletarian forces. This turned into a living reality in the type of organizations that became a part of the MR-2004 programme, where, in fact, it was well known that the initiative lay with the pro-Maoist forces (both international and at the all-India level). Though the proletarian forces are generally weak, it is not that they are totally paralysed and unable to take such an initiative as made out by the RF and FAPP. The success of MR showed this ground reality to be a fact. Ironically it was, in fact, only some of these M-L organisations who split the unity of the anti-WSF forces by holding events parallel to both the WSF and the MR.

So, now given these factors, what then would be the most effective method to impact on those being drawn into alliance with the forces opposed to effective anti-imperialist struggle?

Here, there is no point quoting Lenin by rote. The principles outlined by the great proletarian teachers gave to be applied in the concrete situation prevailing. Once the class analysis of the prevailing forces are clear, and the task to be achieved concretely stated, the most effective tactics at a particular moment can be worked out, taking guidance from the great proletarian teachers.

Past experiences at the earlier Porto Alegre events has shown that there have been numerous dissents from within, but they have not been sufficiently effective in challenging the monopoly of the WSF. This was for two reasons. First, there was no thorough-going exposure of the WSF, only some criticisms. Second, the WSF, with its massive money-power and vast assortment of voices (in Mumbai there were over 1,200 seminars) is so structured where the invisible hand controls from behind, while …‘democracy´ flourishes upfront as in any bourgeois society or bourgeois institution. So a genuine dissent is inevitably drowned in a cacophony of …‘dissent´ voices from all streams ranging from pro-EU reformers and social democrats, to gays to environmentalists to even the fascist Proutists and US-sponsored Tibetan dissidents.

The essence of any effective political intervention would be based on the taking of a clear-cut stand on the issue before us based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The essence of this is that the exposure of the WSF must be deep and all-sided. And only on the basis of such exposure would it be possible to call on the people to oppose the WSF and join MR. With out such a complete exposure the very relevance of MR would not be there. As MR activists creatively wrote on the highway separating the two programmes, appealing to those attending the WSF, "do not stand at the cross-roads; cross the road".

Besides, participating would mean adding to the legitimacy of the WSF and its Charter which specifically states that it is not open to those who use violence as a means of dissent and to communist revolutionaries. Even while not being a participating body of the WSF, even mere internal intervention also has its limitations, because of how the WSF is structured. So a major impact could only be achieved by neither participation nor boycott but by intervention in the whole process …— politically, by pushing a correct anti-imperialist line, and organisationally by a show of force outside the WSF through the alternative programme, and secondarily by internal intervention through wide-scale propaganda. But it is the alternative event that would push organizations and individuals to take a stand, help demarcate the WSF from the MR line sharply, and facilitate the process of political and organizational consoli-dation of all genuine anti-imperialist and progressive forces …— i.e. create a genuine anti-imperialist pole within the anti-globalisatin movement. Mere internal intervention may have some propaganda value; it would not be able to draw clear lines of demarcation between the two diametrically opposite approaches on a big scale. A boycott would isolate the genuine anti-imperialists from the mainstream attracted to the WSF, while participation would result in merely lending it legitimacy, and tailing the WSF agenda.

The actual practice showed up this reality. The boycottist programme of the ND and SOC had barely any impact (except some propaganda value), besides preaching to their own forces which anyhow are anti-imperialist. And, as far as the …‘revolutionaries´ who participated in the WSF, their voice was hardly heard. While the MR programme had quite considerable impact not only during the event but in the very build up …— the impact, in fact, went far beyond expectations, showing how ripe the situation is to forge such an alliance of anti-imperialist, democratic, progressive and proletarian forces towards the building of the united action against imperialism, Hindutva fascism,, state repression etc. The impact was not restricted to Mumbai; due to the MR process since October 2003 it had an all-India and even international impact. It showed up the fake anti-imperialism of the NGOs and social democrats on a huge scale, and propagated widely a genuine anti-imperialist programme in the form of the two basic documents of the MR.

The very results show that the MR tactic adopted was a correct step towards the polarisation of all the forces pitted against globalization and its offshoots, like Hindutva fascism. The crucible of practice is far more potent than a thousand argum-ents; yet we shall take up the arguments of the other three trends outlined in the beginning. There may, no doubt be many a lacunae while conducting the alternative programme, but that is a question of learning from the experience through a self critical review of the whole event.

Ford Foundation Grants to WSF and Related Operations (from the Ford Foundation website database; apparently does not include current funding)

The following grants have been given as part of Ford´s "Asset Building and Community Development Program", which "supports efforts to reduce poverty and injustice by helping to build the financial, natural, social, and human assets of low-income individuals and communities."

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: For the 2003 World Social Forum, where civil society organizations develop social and economic alternatives to current patterns of globalization, based on human rights and sustainable development

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $500,000

Though the MR did not boycott the WSF (the doors were open for all to attend and move in either direction) it held a political line directly opposed to that of the WSF. Though primarily concentrating on the anti-imperialist programme, the call amongst the masses was reject/oppose the WSF; join the MR. To try and patch up the differences with the WSF would only blur the political line of demar-cation; and if it was not clearly stated as opposed to the WSF there would be no reason to hold an alternative programme.

Besides, in any united activity it is always necessary to seek to establish proletarian leadership over the front. The proletarian forces while restricting themselves to the slogans of the front in joint actions, must also be able to propagate fully their own views, otherwise it can never attract new forces towards the Party, which alone has a consistent anti-imperialist, anti-feudal programme. That is why Mao has always said that in any front, all constituents must maintain their relative independence. So, it is a question of unity and struggle with the forces comprising the front. Unity, on the minimum anti-imperialist programme, and struggle to bring them over to a more consistent anti-imperialist, anti-feudal programme and the politics of people´s war. Just as the liberals will have the right to propagate their own view-point so also the Maoists must assert that right; otherwise the Maoist forces will get reduced to being mere bourgeois democrats. Of course all this must be done creatively not through dogmatic slogan-mongering.

The Boycott Trend Of The ND/SOC

The proponents of this trend have run a widely articulated campaign against the MR, best reflected in an article entitled "Knowing the Enemy" by Muruthaiyan that appeared in the Dec.21-27 issue of the Frontier. This article has appeared elsewhere including on the net.

Besides unsubstantiated accusations against the MR, the essence of this article shows the author´s confusion towards the question of United Front in general, and the process of building it, in particular.

The approach reflected in this article has two serious flaws. First, even in its analysis of the WSF and also of the contemporary situation it is left only in form, but right in essence due to numerous political blunders. Second, it displays a …‘left´ sectarian approach towards the UF, and the process of its formation. Let us now consider both aspects:

(A) Left in Form, Right in Essence

Here, there are two aspects. The first is an incorrect understanding of the character of the WSF. Second an incorrect analysis of the international situation, both of which result in right deviation.

(i) Character of the WSF

First, the entire article equates the WSF as being equal to NGOs. Throughout the article there are tens of references to the NGO-factor of the WSF. It says, for example, that "NGOs are not products of the WSF. Instead WSF is the conglomerate of NGOs". It adds that the "WSF has fulfilled the much needed Global co-ordination amongst NGOs". Again in their open appeal to the masses to join their Jan.19/20 programme, issued by the "People Against Imperialism" it says "Most significant aspect of WSF and its process is its complete dominance by NGOs……". But, this is only one factor of the composi-tion of the WSF. The other factor, which is equally significant is the role of the ruling class social democrats in the WSF. The article is silent on this, and if at all menti-oned elsewhere, it only does so in passing.

The reality is that the entire WSF process in Brazil was initiated by the ruling class social democrats of Europe and Brazil and till today it is the Brazilian ruling party, the PT, that has control over its top bodies. In India too it was similar parties that have played a leading role in the organisation of the WSF (and earlier the ASF) …— the CPM and their unions played a major role in the Mumbai event and, in fact, the very office of the WSF, was not in one of the NGO offices (like Yuva, BUILD, church organizations, etc. which have an extensive network in the city), but the CPI´s Head-quarters, Bupesh Gupta Bhavan. Yet why the silence of the ND/SOC on these ruling class social democrats? Actually the CPM is not just ruling-class, they have now graduated to the level of social fascists.

The reality is that the WSF IS NOT MERELY A NGO CONGLOMERATION, BUT A FUSION OF NGOs AND RULING CLASS SOCIAL DEMOCRATS. Muruthaiyan´s total silence on this is not from naivety but from a political approach that seeks to hide this key factor. The reasons are not far to see. The ND is stuck in many an alliance with the CPM, particularly in AP. And the bulk of these right-wing M-L groups do not see the CPI and CPM as ruling class parties, let alone social-fascists, but merely give them the general character of revisionists. But …‘revisionists´ is a political characterization, not a class characterization. There are revisionists and revisionists …— some are ruling-class, others are petti-bourgeois reformists. The CPI/CPM, PT, the bulk of the establishment social democratic formations in Europe, etc are all ruling-class. Not surprisingly the first physical attack on MR propaganda teams took place in West Bengal by CPM hoodlums!! The ferocity of their attack shows up their fascist character. It was during the performance of an anti-globalisation skit in Haldia that the MR team was attacked. They were locked up for hours in a CPM office and severely beaten, including the women members of the team.

So, the anti-WSF talk of the ND/SOC has a caveat …— attack only the NGO aspect, not the CPI/CPM aspect. In effect, its attack is thereby watered down showing up its right essence, where it is unable to make a thorough-going break with the revisionists; that too, ruling class revisionists who are completely implementing imperialist policies in West Bengal (as the PT does in Brazil) and unleashing white terror on revolutionaries …— of late it has even resorted to the regime of fake encounters, brutally killing Com. Kanchen in March 2004, a State Committee member of the PW. Such then, is the essence of the …‘left´ slogan-mongering of the ND/SOC-type M-L.

(ii) Analysis of the International Situation

By categorizing all the major imperialist powers as superpowers it, in effect, blunts the edge of the struggle against the only existing superpower, US imperialism. It time and again refers to the "imperialist superpowers", giving a wrong understanding of what a superpower is. Though it is not explained here, this incorrect concept is put forth in the SOC document entitled "Superpower Hegemonism and Proletarian Revolution" adopted by the 5th Plenum of the SOC in 1991. In Kautskite fashion this document sees the superpowers as some "supra-imperialism" calling it "a new phase in the imperialist era" (pg 4); and categorizing not only the US, but also Japan and the EEC (particularly Germany) and even Russia as superpowers.

Besides the Frontier article implies that collusion is some permanent phenomenon, refusing to see the growing contention between the US and particularly the EU (as also Russia). It says "The imperialist Superpowers are attempting to establish Global hegemony (not a re-division) through globalisation of capital, production, division of labour and the market". Though collusion may still be the principal factor this type of statement closes its eyes to the reality of increasing contention, even reflected in Iraq.

So overall, the analysis of the world situation has not only an incorrect understanding of the present situation, but also incorrect tactics.

(B) Sectarian Approach towards building the UF

It is not clear from the Frontier article what Muruthaiyan seeks to achieve from the boycott position. Exposure of the WSF OK; but what do you seek to build in its place to face the growing onslaught of imperialism? Nothing!!

Here, the main accusation against MR appears to be that there has been a dilution of a pure Marxist (MLM) content. The Frontier article says: "…….. But does the MR2004 really hold the red flag to wave against them? This is a moot question. Communist Revolutionaries 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". Displaying utter confusion on the question of the UF the Frontier article adds "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". If all in the so-called "front" accept communism as the alternative it will not be a "front" but a party. In fact that is the confusion in the earlier sentence too; it is not the task of the MR to take up MLM propagation that is the task of the party, and/or party affiliated organizations working in the front. MR will propagate widely on a consistent anti-imperialist programme.

It goes on and on, on this topic saying "longing to gain democratic credentials, MR2004 compromises on the ideological perspective". Obviously the SOC does not know the abc of the principles of forming a front.

Firstly, when we talk of a front we are referring to uniting with non-proletarian forces. In a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country like India there is a strategic front of four classes against these main enemies. Any other tactical front will also have basically elements from these four classes. A strategic united front will be basically anti-imperialist and anti-feudal to establish the new democratic system through a peoples´ democratic dictatorship. Even the strategic front in itself is neither for socialism nor has as its ideology MLM. Though the communist party and other organizations directly linked to it, will propagate to take the revolution forward towards socialism and also the ideology of MLM, this need not be the task of the front itself. Organisations are formed with very specific tasks, it need not become a …‘khichdi´ of all sorts of things.

Let us try and learn from what Mao had to say on the subject, to get some idea of the effective methods to build such activities. Mao has said "every party and group in the united front must preserve its ideological, political and organizational independence; this holds good for the Kuomintang, the Communist Party or any other party or group". {Role of the Chinese communist party in the national War; Mao 1938}He further adds: "There is no doubt that independence within the united front is relative and not absolute, and that to regard it as absolute would undermine the general policy of unity against the enemy. But this relative independence must not be denied; ideologically, politically and organizationally, each party must have its relative independence, that is, relative freedom. Also, the general policy of unity against the enemy would be undermined if this relative freedom were denied or voluntarily abandoned. This should be clearly understood by all members of the Communist Party as well as of the friendly parties". {ibid}

Now how is this to be interpreted in the MR context? MR was a front to basically target the enemy …— imperialism, particularly US imperialism and all their agents throughout the world and in India. While targeting imperialism it sought to expose the politics and organizational methods of the WSF, showing how it was a "safety valve". The very fact that it was held as an alternative to the WSF showed that it was against the politics of the WSF; but unlike the boycottists, its main focus was not the WSF, but imperialism. So, the door was left open for all who wanted to cross the road from the WSF to the MR. MR had a clear-cut anti-imperialist programme, with the concrete alternative of a self-reliant economy moving towards socialism (i.e. the new democratic programme).

To expect that MR itself must propagate MLM, communism etc., which the Frontier article says indicates a total lack of understanding on how to build front activities, as that would only break the front against imperialism and restrict it to ones own circles (as actually happened with the ND/SOC parallel programme on Jan.19 and 20th) and clear the way for all other forces to become part of the WSF. This only plays into the hands of the enemy, and is what they precisely seek to do through WSF.

But while having said that, there should be nothing restricting the constituents to propagate their own views also, applying the principle of "relative independence" within the Front, outlined by Mao above. There were a host of revolutionary organizations within MR, both from India and abroad, that did in fact propagate their views widely not only within MR. but also within WSF. From India there were organizations like the AIPRF and others, and from abroad organisations like ILPS (International League of People´s Struggles), WPRM (World People´s Resistance Movement), ATIK (Turkish worker´s orgnaisation in Europe), BAYAN (a big front organization in the Philippines), etc., that were close to MLM ideology and propagated their own views and brought out their own literature. So also the Maoist parties themselves, under the banner of CCOMPOSA, (Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia) Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) also widely propagated people´s war and MLM through thousands of handbills. So also did speakers from the various organizations, propagate these views in the plenary session, seminars/workshops and throughout the cultural programme. So also were Maoist bookshops put up in MR and the WSF promoting their politics and ideology and propagating the on-going people´s wars.

So, in effect it was a two-pronged attack. At the anti-imperialist plane of MR the reach was wide and spread not only throughout the country (through the MR process before the programme) but also internationally with its two basic documents translated into over 8 Indian and 6 foreign languages. Massive wall-writing, posters, handbills in lakhs, campaigning, booklets, newsletters and the web site reached out to lakhs allover India and the world. On the other hand the political and ideological campaign by the revolutionary constituents of MR, (as also the Maoist parties independently) was more focused. The first sought to win over the vast masses in general and those attending the WSF in particular to a broad anti-imperialist programme through a wide exposure of the WSF, with the specific goal of consolidating these forces organizatio-nally into an anti-imperialist front; the second sought to win over the more advanced elements in both MR and WSF to the politics of people´s war and the ideology of MLM. Such effective interven-tion at two levels would have been imposs-ible by the line promoted by the ND/SOC.

Besides this, the article implies that MR too was open to NGOs without giving any evidence. Firstly, MR was clearly opposed to any imperialist/government funded NGO. All its sources of funds were raised from the people and the participant organisations. Yet, in many cases it is very difficult to have concrete evidence of whether an organization or individual is dependent on imperialist/government funding. So, whether to accept an organization into MR, the political criteria is also important …— i.e. whether the individual or organization has the potential to play some anti-imperialist role in practice. The minimum political criteria for acceptance should be (i) accepting the anti-imperialist and a broad democratic programme, (ii) should side with the poor and oppressed. If their practice indicates these two criteria to varying degrees, there should be no objection, from a political stand-point, of accepting the individual/party/organisation into a front. Besides, they should see the revolutionaries as part of the democratic stream. No imperialist/government funded NGO can take these stands. Of the over 300 participating orgnisations within MR if any such did sneak in, they would soon get exposed for what they are.

In addition Maruthaiyan is unable to make a distinction between the leadership and the rank-and-file of the constituent organizations of the WSF accusing MR of inviting people to MR even though it sees the WSF as led by imperialist agents. He obviously considers the entire crowd of ordinary NGO members (there is no mention of the CPI/CPM) as imperialist agents. Though it is true that the very funding style of the NGOs tend to corrupt even their rank-and-file, yet the bulk of their members (as that of the rank-and-file of the CPI/CPM), to some extent, are desirous of change and opposed to the present policies of globalisation, Hindutva fascism and state repression. A task during the event would be to win over the cadres of all these bodies, whether NGOs or of the revisionist led trade unions, youth and other mass organisations.

One last point. When Maruthaiyan, in the Frontier article, puts so much emphasis on the question of ideological and political intervention, with no compromise whatsoever; the question arises as to what is the content of this ideology. This is not made clear throughout the article. From the article it appears that taking a firm anti-NGO stand is the essence of this ideological and political intervention. Firstly, it must be said that in practice the SOC spent their major effort criticizing the MR and not the WSF. Most of their articles in the media and on the net were against MR, not WSF. They never even did a thorough analysis and exposure of the WSF. So, in actual fact their concrete exposure of the WSF was limited. In addition, at the ground level, by holding an alternative programme they split the anti-WSF forces, thereby weakening the effort of creating a real anti-imperialist pole in opposition to the WSF. This was done despite the fact that they were repeatedly requested to join the MR. In fact, they never displayed any seriousness in fighting the politics of the WSF on a big scale.

There are many other incorrect views in this article, like the approach to Seattle, etc., but here we have confined ourselves to the main points presented.

Actually, in real terms, the ND/SOC combine do a disservice to revolution on two counts: With regards to people´s war they attack it vehemently (like any of the reactionaries) and adopt a rightist approach to indefinitely postpone it (in effect not even make preparations for it). And with regards to the UF they take a disruptionist and sectarian approach, which seeks to forestall any alliance with other progressive and democratic forces. This purist approach that they take vis-a-vis WSF/MR is only to cover up the right essence of their political line. In practice, they oppose both the armed struggle and the United Front, two of the three magic weapons of the Indian revolution. ND is of course a revisionist organization though it mouths Mao´s name; the fact that the SOC can join up with them shows in which direction they too are going.

The Participation Trend & Corim Stand

The central aspect of this trend is to see the WSF as basically an anti-imperialist force, notwithstanding all its lacunae.

In the initial stages of the MR many a liberal intellectual and organisation considered the alternative programme as a splittist effort …—i.e. dividing the anti-imperialist camp. But after they were given to understand the character of WSF, many of the genuine forces either left the WSF and joined the MR, or at least attended both. As time proceeded towards the build up of MR the splittist accusation completely disappeared, and it grew to be an event with serious political ramifications gaining popularity daily …— not just in India but also worldwide. By the time of the programme, those for participation from the Indian M-L circles had been reduced to a handful; and even outright revisionists, like Liberation, found it difficult to play much of a role (though their names were as prominent as that of the CPI and CPM initially) due to opposition from the rank-and-file. Even the CPM was put so much on the defensive (again because of opposition from cadre) that the PB member, Yechuri, had to write a defensive article in their organ, "People´s Democracy" (dated Dec.28 2003), accepting NGOs as "safety valves" but sought participation in the WSF in order to struggle against the incorrect views. MR initiated a process of re-thinking amongst many, and brought a sharp polarization between the real anti-imperialist forces and those that are apologists of imperialism.

So, while in India, the exposures of MR acted to effectively keep many of the genuine forces away from the WSF and bring them a step forward in building a genuine anti-imperialist movement; from abroad the tendency was more for participation. Surprisingly, it was the CoRIM that was one of the most assertive on this; and it was the RCPUSA´s Revolutionary Worker (Feb.22 and March 14, 2004 issues), that went to such an extent as putting WSF and MR on an equal plane, thereby, in effect, negating the need for an ideological and political struggle against the WSF through an alternative programme to counter its reactionary leadership and its diversionary role of it being a "safety valve" to diffuse the growing discontent. In fact the glowing report of the WSF in the RW was on the same plane as reports in the liberal/revisionist magazines and newspapers like Frontline, etc. The CPI(ML)Liberation´s organ went one step beyond the RW articles, where in its February issue (in the article entitled "Voices against War & WTO") it completely ignored the existence of MR and only gave a report on the WSF. Even the bourgeois media were forced to take cognizance of both, but not the revisionists of the Liberation.

Neither reports (Liberation & RW) have any serious criticism of the reactionary and hypocritical role of the WSF leadership, or the frivolous atmosphere present there. In fact in Mumbai, there were reports that at the very site itself, a section of the media stated that the WSF was non-serious and frivolous, and in that MR was a big contrast. There were quite a few speakers at the WSF who openly praised the merits of globalisation, asserted how globalisation would improve the lot of the dalits and other sections of the Indian people, and such reactionary trash. But this was not visible to RW and Liberation.

Liberation is of course an outright revisionist organization and one does not expect better than to hob-nob with reactionaries …— be it the ruling-class parties of the CPI/CPM or the imperialist-funded NGOs. In fact, a year earlier (Jan.5, 2003), at a convention against globalization in Hyderabad of seven …‘left´ parliamentary parties, the Liberation party´s secretary, Dipankar Bhattarchajee, was enraptured by the unity of such forces against globalization, ignoring the West Bengal government´s role in implementing all diktats of the IMF/World Bank/WTO. In the Feb.2004 Liberation report there is a glowing account of the WSF with no critical comment whatsoever. Similar reports were seen by liberal journalists in the main-line media, but at least they also took cognizance of MR. While totally ignoring MR they saw nothing wrong in playing up reactionaries in their report like Joseph Stiglitz (economic advisor in the Clinton administration).

But one would have expected better from the RIM which normally goes into great details on the question of political standpoint. Unfortunately that was not so in this case. The one-sided reporting in RW comes from the political approach of the CoRIM and reflected in its open letter, dated December 8, 2004, entitled "To comrades involved with the World Social Forum and Mumbai Resistance-2004", circulated through the net.

There are three aspects to this "letter". First is the question of participation in the WSF. The second is the class analysis of the WSF and the third is the ideological and political question vis-à -vis WSF.

(i) Question of Participation

This "letter" clearly states that participation is very much necessary in WSF, and in a big way. If that is so then what was the need for MR? If all forces are to be used to create an …‘impact´ in WSF, there would be no question of organizing an alternative event. Yet it adopts a sort of eclectic approach praising the MR initiative as well (with criticisms). This is not understandable for, if all should participate in the WSF, the logical corollary would be not to hold an alternative event.

The letter infact says: "It is very important that forces representing the proletarian point of view are present in the WSF to the greatest possible degree. There is no doubt that the opportunists will try to prevent a clear anti-imperialist and revolutionary line from being presented from the stage and so forth. But we should not make their work easier for them." The "letter" adds that "We should be seeking to participate in official WSF seminars and debates wherever possible and where this is not possible speaking from the floor as well as organizing other activities". With such a high level of proposed involvement where would there be any necessity to hold an alternative event. So, in essence, the CoRIM was opposed to the MR programme advocating instead participation in the WSF, though it does not say so openly. This approach is also clear that when the RW reports both equally positively, it is apparent that in its view the MR had no specific political role to play in developing an anti-imperialist pole within the anti-globalisation movement. Such an approach is not surprising as a year back the RW also praised the 2003 WSF, in fact putting it on equal plane with the militant demonstrations at Davos (see RWr #1186, February 9, 2003).

In fact, in its style of reporting the RW gives the impression that political polarization was being done by WPRM´s propaganda in both events. The letter also gives the impression that it is the WPRM that is to politically intervene in both as it sets various tasks for it. It says "We should use the Mumbai activities as an occasion to promote and build the WPRM". This is also a misrepresentation of the facts, as the WPRM (South Asia) was a constituent of MR not the WSF …— in fact it was one of the initial initiators of MR.

So, in essence, what the CoRIM is saying (without actually putting it in so many words) is that the MR was unnecessary and the goals it set could well have been achieved by big involvement in the WSF by WPRM, which should give attention to "collecting names and addresses of advanced forces who are coming from different countries".

As Lenin once said that left sectarianism and right opportunism are but two sides of the same coin. Here, in the CoRIM approach, both are in evidence. The attitude of the CoRIM to the WSF has an element of rightism, while the exclusivist role assigned to the WPRM is sectarian. There is no approach here to unite with other ideological and political forces in a joint anti-imperialist struggle, while seeking to win over the advanced forces that are coming from different countries. In fact the only task set in the entire "letter" is to win over others, either by collecting names and addresses or by propagating MLM through WPRM; this is a narrow sectarian approach towards the UF. Actually the two tasks mentioned here is only one aspect of the work, the other is to unite with other progressives in a joint struggle against imperialism, particularly the US (and not through tailism on the WSF platform). It was through MR in fact that both tasks were achieved. Essentially MR acted to win over the anti-imperialist sections and seeks to consolidate them, in India, into a tactical united front of revolutionary, anti-imperialist and progressive forces; while the Maoist Parties, CCOMPOSA, etc, sought to carry the political line of MLM and people´s war as widely as possible. Also many revolutionary mass organizations were present that were close to MLM ideology and had the opportunity to propagate their views. CoRIM suggests only doing the latter task (that too only through the WPRM, ignoring the other non-RIM revolutionary forces) and not the former.

(ii) CoRIM´s Class Analysis of WSF

On this it appears that the CoRIM has some illusions regarding the class character of the WSF in general and NGOs in particular. In fact even the social democrats are not shown as ruling class elements; the entire analysis gives an anti-imperialist role to ruling class social-democrats, NGOs and the WSF. This is politically and ideologically wrong. To prove the credentials of the WSF it does not even properly delve into its history thereby even misrepresenting facts. In the "letter", the genesis of WSF is traced to 2001 Porto Allegre conference. This is factually wrong as has been already shown earlier. Apart from this the concept of WSF has its genesis in responses to the growing crisis in the form of the UN instituting corporate responsibility, the Manila Social Forum etc. The formation of WSF was first declared in the UN´s social summit in June-2000.

Regarding the class character of the leadership of the WSF the "letter" says, that: "The basic analysis that MR has of the opportunist leadership of the WSF is in our view mainly correct. But we do have serious reservations about how the tactics and approach MR-2004 is developing in relation to the WSF."

Firstly the MR has never defined the WSF leadership as merely "opportunist". The understanding behind the MR is that the leadership is pro-imperialist, that "basically channelises dissent into avenues acceptable to the big capitalist powers".(from Why MR?) So the class character of the leadership of the (imperialist-funded) NGOs and the ruling class social democrats is pro-imperialist, not mere opportunists. But nowhere, either in the letter or in the RW articles, does this class analysis come across. In fact the "letter" gives the impression that they are some sort of progressive force.

See what it says on the very first page: "Outside of Brazil the WSF was initially promoted by a section of the European left, for example those grouped around the influential journal Le Monde Diplomatique and the organization known as ATTAC which has been growing quickly in Europe and is associated with the anti-globalization mass mobilizations. In particular, the organizers of the WSF have tried to identify with and attract those forces that have emerged to oppose "globalization"."

Here there is no political exposure as to the class character of the so-called "European left", ATTAC, etc, and gives the impression that they are all progressive forces. Also the last sentence quoted above gives the "organizers of WSF" a clean chit, making out that they are actually anti-globalisation as they have "have tried to identify with and attract those forces that have emerged to oppose globalization".

In addition, ATTAC is made to look like some force opposed to globalization. But what is the reality? ATTAC is close to the ruling-class social democratic party of France, who has in fact accepted the concept of "Tobin Tax" put forth by ATTAC. Also ATTAC aggressively opposes any form of violence that has occurred at the anti-globalisation demonstrations.

Here, the "letter" does no class analysis of forces like these, just a positive statement that these organizations have been growing quickly in Europe. Even regarding the Brazilian Party the criticism is mild, when in fact Lula has implemented IMF/WB policies with more efficiency than that of his predecessor.

Also regarding the NGOs there is not a word about their widespread presence in the WSF, nor about their imperialist funding and the role they play in sabotaging the revolutionary movement. In fact in the entire "letter" there is not a single word on the NGOs, nor on the funds received by the WSF from the Ford Foundation, Oxfam, etc.; on the contrary, in the report in RW they try and go out of their way to prove the anti-imperialist credentials of these organizers, when they say that the "WSF organizers refused to serve Coke and Pepsi and used Linux instead of Microsoft computer software products". Why this silence on the NGO factor? Why the positive presentation of ruling class social democrats from Europe? Why the attempt to white-wash the "organizers" of the WSF? And when this is coupled with glowing reports on the WSF …— both in 2003 and 2004 …— by the RW and the call for maximum participation, the overall picture that is given is that the WSF and its leadership are an anti-imperialist force (not a safety valve) with which we must unite. This is a serious flaw in the line and understanding of an important on-going movement. It must be clear that no anti-imperialist front can be built with imperialist-funded NGOs or ruling-class social democrats.

Elsewhere in the "letter" the CoRIM calls the leaders of the WSF as "opportunists", "misleaders of the masses", and though they "are not fundamentally opposed to the world system of imperialism and reaction" they see them as forces who "do oppose particular outrages of the imperialists and their world institutions". The CoRIM further adds that "While these forces oppose the current US imperialist drive for unquestioned world hegemony they do not oppose the imperialist system itself". All such arguments may apply to the bulk of the organizations that are participants of the WSF and may be confused, but it is incorrect to see the leadership of WSF in the same light. It is the class analysis of the leadership that determines the class character of the organization and ones approach and tactics towards the WSF. As the CoRIM is not prepared to see the leadership of the WSF (whether the social-democratic leaders or the top brass of the NGOs) as props/apologists of imperialism, but as mere "opportunists", "misleaders", etc. it is quite natural that they have a positive approach to the WSF.

This is particularly alarming when the CoRIM condemns , (or at least downplays) armed struggles against the US and its puppets, if they are led by Islamic forces and even dismisses the armed struggles in Columbia, Mexico, etc., which are not led by Maoists as that of "armed revisionists". Yet, an organization in which its leadership is vehemently opposed to any form of violence, which is rabidly anti-communist and is led by pro-imperialist organizations and individuals, is praised!!! While dismissing the armed struggles that are not on MLM lines the CoRIM fails to see its anti-US content and thereby adopts a sectarian approach to them. On the other hand, by not seeing the pro-imperialist nature of the WSF leadership and its role as a "safety valve" to diffuse the discontent of the masses, it adopts a positive approach to it, amounting to tailist and rightist politics. As is normally the case, left sectarianism and rightism go hand-in-glove. For revolutionaries to win over the masses who attend the WSF, it first and foremost requires a correct understanding to what it really is and its role in the anti-imperialist movement, whatever may be the tactics we use in approaching it.

(iii) Question of Ideology

The CoRIM "letter" complains that the MR devoted too much effort in "exposing the WSF". Firstly, if the WSF was not exposed for what it is, the very reason for an alternative programme would vanish. Besides, without exposing the WSF how is it possible to convince the people that it is diverting them from the path of struggle, is not opposing imperialism as such, and therefore the need to come out and join the MR. If the MR programme existed without such an event going on simultaneously it would not have been necessary to focus exposure on the WSF. But the very reason for holding MR, that too across the road from WSF, was because the WSF was taking place. Unless the masses understood the need for an alternative event, they would merely consider it as splittist, superfluous and like splitting hairs. There was need for them to understand that there was a fundamental difference between the WSF and the MR, only then could there be validity for an alternative programme, that too on the same topic. So, one had to oppose WSF; and rally people for MR. But of course, unlike the boycottists of the ND/SOC, the approach would be that of exposure of the WSF, and an attack on imperialism. Target imperialism, expose the WSF …— that was the essence of the MR approach.

Further the "letter" says that there should not have been an attack on the slogan "Another World is Possible" and also postmodernism from the MR platform.

Regarding the slogan "Another World is Possible", however popular it may be, that is one of the means of duping the masses. Unless this subterfuge was exposed it was not possible to convince the masses of an alternative. Of course the method by which it needs to be done should be creative and not dogmatic …— on that we have no difference with CoRIM. We think the MR was quite apt in saying that the only other possible world is that built on self-reliance, moving towards socialism. There was nothing dogmatic about it.

On the question of postmodernism we cannot understand the "letter" saying "it is not correct for an organization such as MR-2004 to polemicize against post-modernism". Why not? The "letter" gives no reasons, but gives the impression that such an attack on the philosophical front is the sole prerogative of the Party, and MR, WPRM, etc should only open the way "for us to carry out our independent communist work, especially the propagation of the stand, viewpoint and method of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism". Postmodernism should, in fact, be attacked thoroughly from all fronts, whether by left-leaning Marxist intellectuals or by any organization that is capable of doing so, including the Maoist party. In fact many a good critique on postmodernism has come from the non-Maoist camp. This, after all, is the philosophical base of the NGO culture and numerous other progressives, which is basically an all-round attack on Marxism (though its ability to grow lay in the setback of communism and the lack of answers at that time from the communist revolutionaries to various evils of the prevailing imperialist system). But, having said that, nowhere did MR make an attack on postmodernism a criteria for joining, as claimed by the CoRIM "letter". This is a distortion of the reality. What is the problem of a free debate on the subject? After all, does not the WSF eulogise the factor of free debate, as some goal in itself (rather than a means to an end). It is quite inconceivable to understand why this point is raised in the first place by the CoRIM, as such a restricted approach of allowing attacks on postmodernism from only an MLM platform, only helps allow postmodernism unhindered sway over vast sections of the progressives. On the questions posed by the postmodernists, like "power & bureaucracy", ethnic questions, culture and architecture, feminism, sub-alteran studies, etc etc. there must be concrete answers from the broad Marxist camp, and they should not be just wished away, or kept as the prerogative of some supposed Maoist pundits.

So, whether it is the slogan "Another World is Possible" or the question of postmodernism or it is the question of much of the other political/ideological reformism being promoted by the leadership of the WSF, all must be exposed widely (though creatively, not in formula style repetition of Marxists …‘truths´), if at all the sincere elements within these are to be won, to, at least a genuine anti-impear-ialist programme, or even to MLM itself.

The essence of what the CoRIM is saying is reduce the exposure of the WSF to a minimum, by not attacking its central slogan, or the question of postmodernism, or by saying that the MR over-did it. But, without exposure there would be no real political intervention; and just asserting general truths of MLM away from what is going on at the spot would be a meaningless exercise.

Defeatism And The RF/FAPP Stand

After a critique of both the WSF and MR the FAPP (Feb.2004 issue) comes out with its main point. The essence of which is that because of the serious setback in the ICM (international communist movement) there is no point in seeking to build an anti-imperialist movement. The logic is that such movements must be led by proletarian Marxist-Leninist forces, to be meaningful, and as they are …‘very´ weak, our first and main task is to build these.

So on page 62 of this magazine they say: "Hence the revolutionary communists must understand that at the present moment the national and international communist movement is not objectively confronted with the task of fighting against the bourgeoisie for the leadership over the growing anti-imperialist struggle of the masses. …….. The present history cries for the revolutionary communists to fully grasp these essential tasks (of revival of the communist movement) and wholeheartedly concentrate on carrying out those." Further it adds: "the revoluti-onary communist movement does not fall from the skies. For its development this movement demands preparation …— both subjective and objective. And historically this movement is passing through a preparatory period. Hence the communis-ts cannot but take up the task of the prepa-ration. This is the call of the moment."

Then, they fit MR´s so-called shortcomings into this framework saying: "The failure to grasp and understand the fundamental tasks of the day has forced the organizers of the MR-2004 into many errors, limitations and contradictions. We have seen that MR-2004 has omitted the essential question of proletarian leadership. Why? Because the reality forced them to do it." Yet in another place the author of this article says "the Peoples War Group (PWG) of India, the dominant force behind FAIG and the organization of MR-2004……". Is dominant force any different from leadership? If it is, the line is thin.

Anyhow, leaving aside the numerous contradictory aspects of this article, here we shall tackle the main political issue.

It is true that after the reversal of China the proletarian movement (by which we mean genuine Maoist movement) is weak. But what is the chief source of weakness? It is because of the ideological content, where revisionism has eaten into the very vitals of the communist movement. Earlier itself the Khrushchev revisionists had catalysed the reversal of vast numbers of communist parties throughout the world. Then, the CPC was liquidated from within after 1976. This resulted in further reversal within the ICM. Many within the Maoist camp that had emerged through the Great Debate also turned revisionist with the loss of the last existing centre for the communist revolutionaries. In the 1980s and early 1990s there was a big swing to the right, with conservatives turning fascistic, with social-democrats turning conservative, with revisionist communist parties turning social democrats and with many a Maoist party turning into the new revisionist communist parties or with parties with strong right tendencies. Yet, through all this, Maoist movements grew in some parts of the world, particularly in Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Turkey and India. The basic reason for this growth was their uncompromising struggle against revisionism, not merely in theory, but also in the practical movements. People´s wars were advanced in these countries only by upholding genuine proletarian ideology and politics and countering all forms of petti-bourgeois distortions.

Yet, though the overall communist movement was weak, on the other hand, the massive offensive of capital, particularly since the 1990s, has pushed millions and millions to destitution. War is ravaging country after country. Horrifying conditions are wreaking havoc on the peoples´ lives, particularly in the backward countries of the world. People are bound to resist; and if the communist revolutionaries are not there to lead them in battle, they will turn to someone else …— whether Islamic fundamentalist or nationality movements or any other, or to just spontaneous revolts. People are not prepared to listen to sermons from the RF, FAPP or anyone else. They need people to lead them in battle. Communist revolutionaries can build strength by being part of the on-going movements. Also the political line of the party is sharpened (nay tested) only when applied to contemporary reality, which helps best direct the on-going movements towards revolution.

So, we are faced with a situation where the objective situation is excellent for revolutionary advance, but the proletarian forces are, as yet, weak. How then is this contradiction to be solved? No theory can be developed divorced from practice, as the FAPP article would imply. How then is the communist movement to be developed? Firstly, it means firmly upholding Maoism …— i.e. is Marxism of today …— thereby incorporating all the lessons of the past successful revolutions right to the Cultural Revolution. Second, it means utilisng this ideology as a guide to action, steering clear of all forms of dogmatism and empiricism, and thereby creatively developing the revolutionary political line of the Party for their respective country. (In Introducing the Communist, Mao defined the line of the Party, as the attitude of the party towards the armed struggle and united front; this would apply to all backward countries like India) Finally, it entails implementing this line in concrete revolutionary practice. And, as Mao said, it is the correctness or incorrectness of the political line that determines the future of the revolutionary movement. It is the development of these three aspects that form the basis for developing the subjective revolutionary forces …—where "practice", and that too revolutionary practice, must be the central test of all the theories and political lines propounded. In India, where the path is that of protracted people´s war, one key factor in the line is the attitude of the party towards ppw (protracted people´s war)…— it should either be preparing for it (and that too not indefinitely) or leading it. At least it should support it where it exists. But the RF type conglomerations do none of these. So where is its proletarian line? Also towards the WSF the gathering of the RF and others on Jan. 14 and 15 had some participating in the WSF and others boycotting …— so what was its …‘proletarian line´ towards the WSF?

Yes, the communist revolutionary forces are today weak; but it can only be strengthened by advancing revolutionary struggles and thoroughly fighting all forms of revisionism and reformism …— not just in theory, but while concretely advancing the class struggles. This also entails plunging into the on-going movements, particularly those that are militant and radical, to derive maximum political gains; as it is amidst these movements that the people would be most receptive. One should use such movements for two purposes: first, unite with others to hit a common enemy; second, while doing so, and win over the positive elements to MLM and the political line of people´s war.

The attitude of the FAPP tends to be defeatist and passive, thinking that the Maoist forces are too weak to effectively intervene in the on-going anti-globalisation movement. But, it is also by effectively intervening in such on-going political movements that the proletarian forces can gain strength, as people tend to be more receptive in the midst of political struggles. It can also be one step forward towards building up the United Front for revolution.

Finally there is one last point on this question. Though, in general, we would accept that the communist movement is weak, this is not even all over the world. For example in South Asia it has been particularly picking up strength. The fact that in Nepal about 80% of the country is in the control of the communist revolutionaries; in India the growing unity of the MCCI and PW and its armed struggle covering a vast area, and in Bangladesh some advance of people´s war, and finally with the coordination of all these parties into the CCOMPOSA …— show the growing strength of the communist movement in South Asia. Of course, probably the RF and FAPP do not recognize these forces as communist. Well, on that we cannot do anything. It is like looking at a basket of apples and crying oneself hoarse saying there are no apples, as you have chosen to call apples by another name …— and then going about planting trees so that you may get some apples after 5 to 10 years.

This pretext can be a perfect justification to continue to propound the politics of defeatism, weeping that the communist revolutionaries are weak even if they grow to giant size (as in Nepal), by just not recognizing that they are communist revolutionaries. The politics propounded here by the FAPP is therefore the politics of inaction and defeatism. There is no fixed so-called "preparatory stage" for re-building the communist movement as propounded by the FAPP. To accomplish any task there will always be need for preparatory work; but one need not raise it to the status of a "stage" to justify passivity, and use it as the theoretical framework to negate anti-imperialist initiatives such as MR, or more intense initiatives as the on-going people´s wars in India and elsewhere.

So for example, what is now the CPI(ML)(PW), did much of the "preparatory work" in the 1970s itself after the set-back in 1972 and was able to begin armed struggle by 1980; thereby it was able to grow to sizable strength. Yet, in the overall context of the victory of the Indian revolution it is still at the preparatory level, where the Party, Army and the UF …— the three magic weapons …— are yet to be consolidated. One can say that this would be achieved if the major unity processes (particularly that between the MCCI and PW) culminated in the formation of basically one Maoist Party in the country. If the PGA/PGLA grows and develops into the PLA. And, if the major anti-imperialist and anti-feudal forces in the country unite into an UF led by this Party. Of course all three are inextricably linked to the ideology of the Party and its political line. IF THE FAPP IS REALLY KEEN FOR FRUITFUL PREPERATORY WORK IT SHOULD JOIN THIS PROCESS OF CONSOLIDATION OF THE THREE MAGIC WEAPONS.

Regarding the other four points raised on its criticisms of MR, as the author himself says it is secondary to this main aspect, we can deal with them on another occasion. In fact, some of the points are trivial, others, like the question on how to view the contradiction of the Islamic fundamentalists with the US and other imperialists, are serious, but need a lengthy discussion and cannot be dealt with here for lack of space. Yet we will touch on this issue (for more details refer to the article "Terrorism and Revolution" in the Jan.2002 issue of People´s March).

History has shown that under certain historical conditions some feudal forces were forced to fight against imperialism, or a particular imperialist power. The examples of Chiang Kai Shekh in China and Sihanouk in Kampuchea come to mind. The present Islamic forces are also feudal. But they are fighting imperialism, particularly US imperialism. Many have taken up arms against imperialist aggression as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and also against Zionism in Palestine. In fact the reason for the masses to turn to the fundamentalists is because of the weakness of the Marxist revolutionaries to give consistent battle and their withdrawal from the arena of armed struggle. Under such conditions it is of fundamental importance to support these fighting forces to unitedly fight a common enemy. While doing so, only then should one criticize their shortcomings. To stand on the sidelines, while they are being slaughtered by the thousands giving diatribes on how they should behave has no impact …— it only acts to promote the "clash of civilization" concepts. In these countries if we do not unequivocally support the resistance, we de facto become apologist of imperialist aggression. This is a big trend amongst liberals in the US who fall prey to the propaganda against the backwardness of the fundamentalist, not looking at the overall political reality. Unfortunately it has also influenced many a Marxist. In India too, when Hindutva fascism (backed by the state and imperialism) is raising its ugly head slaughtering Muslims, it is absolutely necessary to stand by the Muslims and resist the onslaught, particularly when they are fighting back Hindutva fascists and the US imperialists.

For A Correct Proletarian Approach In The Present Context

What then would be the correct anti-imperialist approach that a Party of the proletariat should adopt in this context? As in any UF activity the party would act at two levels: First, to try and build the unity of the communist revolutionary forces with the other anti-imperialist, democratic and progressive forces in the country, to build a broad democratic tactical front against imperialism (and their Indian agents), state repression, Hindutva fascism, etc., keeping as its alternative the new democratic revolution. Second, it must propagate widely, by itself and through its front orgnisations, MLM and socialism/communism as also people´s war and the establishment of Base Areas. It would be these twin tasks that would be the political line of conduct in such a scenario.

Let us take the first point. In a backward country like India, for the victory of the new democratic revolution, it is necessary to mobilize over 90% of the masses against imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucrat capitalism. This, the party of the proletariat can accomplish by building the strategic United Front of the four classes (i.e. workers, peasants, middle-classes and the national/small bourgeoisie) pitted against the above three enemies of revolution (led by the Party of the proletariat), which, after seizure of power, turns into the new democratic government of the people.

Here we shall not go into the process of building the strategic UF; that can be taken up elsewhere. There is yet urgent need for a broad democratic (tactical) UF of all anti-imperialist, democratic and progressive forces, together with the revolutionaries, targeting basically imperialism, particularly US imperialism (and their Indian agents), state repression, Hindutva fascism, etc.

The key aspect of such a front is the unity of the communist revolutionary forces with other anti-imperialist, democratic and progressive forces in the country. It is the WSF, NGOs and social-democrat type bodies whose specific purpose is to disrupt this unity, thereby reducing the edge of the struggle to passivity (or forms acceptable to the enemy). For example, the WSF Charter specifically keeps out the communist revolutionaries (that is those who also resort to violence). This of course, is anyhow the general approach of most imperialist-funded NGOs and also CPI/CPM type social democrats. MR sought to break this isolation. Here, it must be realized that this is not just a mere desire of the Communist Revolutionaries, but an objective necessity …— that for an effective anti-imperialist movement there must be a unity of all anti-imperialist forces, led by the proletariat.

Negating such unity is sectarian and only helps the reactionary forces. Negating the role of leadership, will result in the disarray of such forces and no systematic focus. But sometimes, unfortunately we ourselves unwittingly fall into the same trap, by seeking to hide our communist identity in the name of building a broad alliance. This achieves the same purpose as what the WSF/NGOs/SDs desire; that is getting acceptability (or is it respectability?) on their terms. All progressives, if they are truly progressive, must accept the communist revolutionaries (though they may not agree with them) as part of the democratic stream. If we hide our identity and become just part of one of the democrats and other progressives, the entire purpose of forming such a front is defeated, as there will be no communist revolutionary left to give a direction to it. It is precisely for this reason that Mao has called for maintaining the relative independence of all constituents of the front. This allows the communist revolutionaries (and others) to promote their own respective programmes as also to work for the common demands of the front. If the communist revolutionaries are seen to be more correct in their analysis and are also seen in the forefront of all battles, and are democratic, modest and not over-bearing in their approach, they can win over others. Also in a democratic atmosphere of debate they can learn from others and enrich their knowledge.

THUS THE KEY ASPECT TO THE STRUCTURE OF SUCH A FRONT MUST BE THAT COMMUNIST REOLUTIONARIES AND THEIR FRONT ORGANISATIONS BE A PART OF IT CARRYING THE FRONT PROGRAMME AND ALSO MAINTAINING THEIR INDEPENDENCE TO CARRY THEIR OWN PROGRAMME. This freedom would be there for all constituents of the front. To merge ones identity would be tailist and result in a right deviation; to stay aloof from the on-going political movements would be sectarian. As already mentioned, both end in achieving the same result …— disruption of the unity between the communist revolutionaries and other democratic and progressive forces; disruption of the process towards formation of any serious tactical UF.

In the present atmosphere, where NGOism, postmodernism, et al is the fashion, it is easy to fall prey to these trends, so the communist revolutionaries need to re-assert their prestige (not hide their identity for fear of alienating the fashionable) amongst broad sections of the progressive people, and not just within their small circles. One must go forward boldly as communist revolutionaries amongst the vast progressive sections of society, learn from them and also guide them in the correct path for radical change. If we, as communist revolutionaries set an example in UF activities in democratic behaviour, being principled, combining flexibility on minor issues with firmness on major ones, listening to others, being frank, modest and overboard, avoiding arrogance, and adopting a clear-cut analytical approach (avoiding both dogmatism and empiricism), etc …— there will be no problem in gaining acceptability amongst the broad sections of the progressive people. It is only in such a way that we can assert leadership in any broad front …— i.e. by our political behaviour and not orgnisational fiat.

As communist revolutionaries we must fully understand our long-term goals and see that all activities are steps in that direction. Any task which is not linked to the central task of the revolution is a waste of time and effort. Here, any step of forming a broad democratic front must be seen in the context of the long-term aim of forming the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal front of the four classes. While seeking to achieve the immediate we should not lose sight, even for a moment, of the final goals of the Indian and world revolutions.

People´s March, Volume 5, No. 6, June 2004