Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Record of a Conversation between Stalin and representatives of the Indian Communist Party
February 09, 1951
by Wilson Center Digital Archive
Translated by Gary Goldberg.

Summary: Meeting in Moscow between Stalin and Indian Communist Party representatives C. Rajeswara Rao, S. A. [Shripad Amrit] Dange, A. K. Ghosh, and [M. Basava] Punnaiah. Stalin responded to a series of prepared questions from the representatives.

Original Language: Russian

RECORD OF A CONVERSATION BETWEEN I. V. STALIN and representatives of the Indian Communist Party CC, Cdes. [C. Rajeswara] Rao, [S.A.] [Shripad Amrit] Dange, [A. K.] Ghosh, and [M. Basava] Punnaiah
9 February 1951

Cde. Stalin: I have received your questions. I will reply to them and then state some of my own views.

Possibly it will seem strange to you that we discuss everything in the evening. We are busy in the daytime. We are working. We get off work at 6 P.M.

Possibly it will seem strange to you that the conversation lasts a long time but unfortunately we cannot perform our mission otherwise. Our CC has entrusted us with meeting with you personally to help your Party with advice. We don’t know your Party and your people well. We take this mission very seriously. As soon as we took it upon ourselves to give advice we thereby took the moral responsibility for your Party upon ourselves and we cannot give frivolous advice. We wanted to acquaint ourselves with the materials and with you, and then give advice.

It might seem strange to you that we asked you a number of questions and have almost made an interrogation. But our position is such that we could not do otherwise. Documents do not give a complete idea and therefore we resorted to such a method. This is a very unpleasant business but nothing can be done about it. The situation demands it. Let’s move to the substance of the matter.

You ask: how should the impending revolution in India be evaluated?

We Russians view this revolution as primarily agrarian. This means the liquidation of feudal property and the division of land between peasants into their personal property. This means the liquidation of feudal private property for the sake of establishing private peasant property. As you see, there is nothing socialist here. We do not think that India is on the threshold of a socialist revolution. This is also the Chinese way which they talk about everywhere, that is, an agrarian revolution, anti-feudal without any confiscation and nationalization of the property of the national bourgeoisie. This is a bourgeois-democratic revolution or the first stage of a people’s democratic revolution. The people’s democratic revolution which started before China in the countries of Eastern Europe has two stages. The first stage is an agrarian revolution or agrarian reform, if you wish. The countries of the people’s democracies in Eastern Europe went through this stage in the first year after the war. China is in this first stage right now. India is approaching this stage. The second stage of a people’s democratic revolution, as it has manifested itself in Eastern Europe, consists of moving from an agrarian revolution to the expropriation of the national bourgeoisie. This is already the start of a socialist revolution. Factories, mills, and banks have been nationalized and handed over to the state in all the people’s democratic countries of Europe. China is still far from this second stage. This stage is also far from India or India is far from this stage.

They have been talking there in India about the lead article of the Cominform newspaper concerning the Chinese way of unleashing a revolution. This lead article was prompted by the articles and speeches of [Balachandra Trimbak] Ranadive, who thought that India was on the path to a socialist revolution. We Russian Communists think that this is a very dangerous thesis and have decided to speak out against it, pointing out that India is experiencing the Chinese path, that is, the first stage of a people’s democratic revolution. This means that you will have to create your own revolutionary front this way: rouse the entire peasantry and kulaks against the feudal lords, and rouse the entire peasantry so that the feudal lords feel isolated. The public and all progressive strata of the national bourgeoisie need to be roused against British imperialism in order to isolate the bloc of British imperialists and national bourgeoisie. You are accustomed to saying that all imperialists need to be expelled at one stroke, all of them, both British and American. The front cannot be created this way. The sharp edge of the nationwide front needs to be directed against British imperialism. Let the other imperialists, including the Americans, think that you aren’t concerned with them. This is necessary so that all the imperialists are not united against you by your actions and in order to sow discord among them. Well, but if the American imperialists get into the fight themselves then it will be necessary to turn the united national front of India against them, too.

Ghosh: It’s not clear to me why only against British imperialism at a time when a struggle is going on in the entire world against American imperialism, which is considered the sharp edge of the antidemocratic camp?

Cde. Stalin: Very simply, a united national front against Britain is for national independence from Britain, not from America. This is your specific national character. India is semi-liberated from whom? From Britain, not from America. India is in a Commonwealth of Nations not with America, but with Britain. The military and other specialists in your army are not Americans, but Britons. These are the historical facts, and there’s no getting around them. I want to say that the Party should not pile every task on itself, the task of fighting the imperialists of the entire world. [Only] one goal needs to be set, liberation from British imperialism. This is India’s national goal. The same thing about the feudal lords. Of course, the kulaks are enemies. But it is foolish to fight both the kulaks and feudal lords. It is foolish to pile two burdens on yourself, fighting kulaks and fighting feudal lords. A front needs to be created so that not you, but the enemy, is isolated. This is, so to speak, a tactic which makes the struggle of the Communist Party easier. Not a single person, if he is reasonable, would be willing to take all burdens on himself. Only one goal needs to be taken on, the elimination of feudalism, a remnant of British rule. Isolate the feudal lords, liquidate the feudal lords, and smash British imperialism, without at the same time touching the other imperialists. If this works, it will make matters easier. Well, if the American imperialists butt in, then the struggle against them will have to be waged, but the people will know that it is they who attacked, not you. The Americans’ turn will come, of course, and the kulaks, too. But then each in his own turn.

Ghosh: Now it is clear to me.

Dange: Will this not interfere with waging agitprop work against the American imperialists and fighting them?

Cde. Stalin: Of course not. They are enemies of the people and they need to be fought.

Dange: I asked this question so that no one would interpret the task of struggling against American imperialism in an opportunistic way.

Cde. Stalin: The enemy needs to be isolated cleverly. Propose a resolution not against American imperialists, but against British imperialists. If the Americans butt in, then that is another matter.

Rao: Among the kulaks there is a small group which engages in feudal exploitation: they lease land and are usurers. They usually side with the landlords.

Cde. Stalin: This doesn’t mean anything. In comparison with the great overall goal of liquidating the feudal lords, this is a particular case. In your propaganda you need to speak out against the feudal lords, but not against prosperous peasants. But you yourselves ought not incite kulaks into an alliance with feudal lords. It’s not necessary to create an alliance for the feudal lords. The kulak has great influence in the village and peasants think that the kulak became someone thanks to his great abilities, etc. The kulak need not be given the ability to defeat the peasants. Are your feudal lords nobles?

Rao: Yes.

Cde. Stalin: Peasants do not love nobles. You need to latch onto this in order not to give the feudal lords an opportunity to have allies among the peasants.

Punnaiah: We have confusion among ourselves concerning the issue of the national bourgeoisie. What is meant by the national bourgeoisie?

Cde. Stalin: Imperialism is the policy of seizing foreign countries. Does your national bourgeoisie really think about seizing foreign countries? Meanwhile, the British imperialists are seizing India. The national bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie of India, is the middle and big [bourgeoisie]; these are your own national exploiters. You need to say that you are not going against them, but against a foreign enemy, against the British imperialists. Many will be found among the national bourgeoisie who agree with you. The top level of the national bourgeoisie is already in league with the imperialists but this is only a part, and moreover not a large one. The bourgeoisie is mainly interested in supporting you in the struggle for the complete independence of India. It is also interested in feudalism being liquidated. The bourgeoisie needs a market, a good market. If peasants obtain land there will be a domestic market, and there will be people able to buy. All this needs to be explained in the press. It is to your advantage that the national bourgeoisie not switch to the side of the British. You need to arrange things so that the British imperialists do not get new allies in India. There are no steps being contemplated in China to expropriate the bourgeoisie. They have nationalized only Japanese property in China and even American enterprises have not been nationalized; they are operating. If you have the Chinese type of revolution you should not for the time being take steps which would push your bourgeoisie in the direction of the British imperialists. That’s the Chinese way for you. They don’t touch the national bourgeoisie in China and now it speaks only against the American imperialists and helps the Chinese people’s government. It means that one can say that the American imperialists inside China are isolated. As regards the partition of India, that this was an act of fraud organized by the British. If you outline a program of action then you should say in it that you are demanding a union between Pakistan, India, and Ceylon, [both] military and economic. These three countries, artificially cut off from one another, will draw closer together. It will end with these three countries uniting. You should promote this idea of rapprochement and the people will support you. The leaders of Pakistan and Ceylon will oppose it but the people will crush them. What this artificial partition has led to is evident from Bengal alone. In the first place, the Bengali provinces are disconnected from Pakistan.

Dange: In the concept of national bourgeoisie they constantly taught us in the spirit that the middle bourgeoisie is called the national bourgeoisie. In India the big bourgeoisie went over to the side of the British imperialists.

Cde. Stalin: Are there purely British banks in India?

Dange: Yes, there are British banks in India, and there are joint[ly-owned] banks. In our platform there are demands for the nationalization of the big bourgeoisie. This is bureaucratic capital.

Cde. Stalin: This is not bureaucratic capital, this is industrial and commercial capital. Bureaucratic capital in China was acquired from state resources. This is capital associated with the state and very little with industry. The Sung and other families received money for favorable agreements with the Americans. As regards the large industrialists and merchants in China, they remained intact. I would not advise you to expropriate the big capitalists, even if they are in alliance with the American and British banking capitalists. It is better to say quietly that those who openly go over to the side of the enemy will lose their property. Unquestionably, part of the big capitalists will bolt if a revolution flares up there. Then declare them traitors and confiscate their property, but I don’t advise expropriating the big bourgeoisie for being in league with British capitalists. Act like they do in China. If you have a demand to expropriate the big bourgeoisie in your platform then it needs to be eliminated. You need to draw up a new platform or a program of action. It is very much to your advantage to neutralize the big bourgeoisie and split off nine-tenths of all the national bourgeoisie from it. You don’t need to artificially create new enemies for yourself. And so you have many of them. The big capitalists’ turn will come, too, and, of course, then their turn will come. The problems of a revolution are decided in stages. All stages cannot be lumped together. [They] need to be decided in stages and enemies need to be beaten step by step: today some, tomorrow others, and when you become stronger, you can beat all of them, but right now you are still weak. Your people are copying our revolution. But these are different stages. You need to take the experience of the other fraternal parties critically and adapt this experience to the specific conditions of India. Don’t be afraid of being criticized from the left. Bukharin and Trotsky criticized Lenin from the left but they ended up ridiculous. Ranadive has criticized Mao Tse-tung from the left, but Mao Tse-tung is right -- he is acting in accordance with the conditions of his own country. Pursue your own policy and pay no attention to leftist shouting.

Now about the second question, about the Chinese way.

I’ve already talked about the Chinese way in the political and social area. This will be an agrarian revolution. As regards armed struggle, then it needs to be said that the Chinese didn’t talk about armed struggle, they talked about an armed revolution. They regarded this as partisan warfare with liberated areas and with a liberation army. It means it was necessary to talk about an armed revolution and partisan warfare, and not about armed struggle. The expression “armed struggle” was used by the Cominform newspaper. Armed struggle means more than partisan warfare, it means a combination of partisan warfare by peasants with general strikes and revolts by workers. Partisan warfare is still [larger] in scale than armed struggle. How did the Chinese begin an armed revolution?

In 1926-1927 the Chinese comrades broke with the Kuomintang. Having a trained army of 40-50,000 men against the Kuomintang, they broke away to a separate camp. This army was the basis for partisan warfare. They began to hide in the forests and mountains far from cities and railroads. Of course, the main cadre were there where the CC of the Chinese Communist Party was. The Chinese Liberation Army could not base itself in a city. It was lightly armed, and in order not to be surrounded and broken up, they withdrew far from cities and railroads and established free partisan regions in a number of places. They were surrounded, escaped encirclement, abandoned the old liberated areas, created new ones, tried to avoid battle, and the longer it lasted the more the Chinese communists were cut off from the workers and cities. Of course, Mao Tsetung did not want to break off ties with the workers, but the path of partisan warfare led to losing touch with the cities. This was an unfortunate necessity. Finally, they were based in Yenan where they defended themselves for a long time. They summoned the peasants to them, instructed them in how to wage an agrarian revolution, expanded their army, and turned it into a serious force. But all the same they did not avoid the serious drawbacks which are characteristic of partisan warfare.

What is a liberated partisan area? It is nevertheless an island in a country. This region has no rear area, it can be surrounded and blockaded. There is no rear area on which one can rely. And that’s the way it happened. Yenan was surrounded and the Chinese withdrew from there with great losses. And this would have continued for a long time had the Chinese Communists not decided to relocate to Manchuria. In moving to Manchuria they improved their position right away and found a rear area in the form of a friendly country. This was now no longer an island but something like a peninsula which relied on the USSR at one end. After this, Chiang Kai-shek lost the ability to encircle the Chinese partisans. And only after the Chinese had rested did they acquire the ability to conduct an offensive from the north to the south. That’s the history. What are the implications of this? Partisan warfare by peasants is a very serious matter and a great gain for a revolution. The Chinese introduced something new in revolutionary practice in this area, particularly in backward countries. And, of course, every Communist in a country where peasants are 80-90% [of the population] is obliged to add this method to the arsenal of their struggle. This is undeniable. But at the same time it follows from the experience of the Chinese comrades that partisan warfare with liberated areas has its own big drawbacks. These drawbacks are that partisan regions are an island which can always be blockaded. There is only one way to escape this ring as the victor, by creating a strong rear area, closing it off, linking up with and relying on a friendly neighboring country, and turning this country into one’s own strong rear area. The Chinese made a wise move in relocating to Manchuria. And if this had not occurred I don’t know how the matter would have ended. Partisan warfare doesn’t have its own forces to achieve victory. Partisan warfare will always lead to victory if it relies on a friendly neighboring country. It is very characteristic that before moving to Manchuria the Chinese comrades did not want to attack, fearing encirclement, and only after this move did they deliberately begin to attack and have success against the forces of Chiang Kai-shek. These drawbacks of partisan warfare need to be considered. They tell us there [in India] that partisan warfare is completely sufficient to achieve the victory of the revolution in India. This is incorrect. Conditions in China were much more favorable than in India. There was a trained People’s Liberation Army in China. You do not have a trained army. China does not have such a dense rail network as India and this is a great convenience for partisans. You have fewer opportunities for successful partisan warfare than China. India is more developed than China industrially. This is good from the point of view of progress but poor from the point of view of partisan warfare. No matter what detachments and liberated areas you would create they would still remain little islands. You don’t have such a friendly neighboring country on which you could rely as a backbone as the Chinese partisans created, having the USSR at their back.

Afghanistan, Iran, and Tibet, where the Chinese Communists cannot yet reach…This is not such a rear area as the USSR. Burma? Pakistan? These are all land borders and the rest are maritime. Therefore you need to look for an alternative [vykhod].

Is partisan warfare necessary? Unquestionably, it is.

Will you have liberated areas and a people’s liberation army?

Will there be such areas and will there also be the possibility of having such an army? But this is insufficient for victory. Partisan warfare needs to be combined with revolutionary actions by the workers. Without this, partisan warfare alone cannot have success. If the Indian comrades could organize a serious, general rail strike then this would paralyze the activity of the country and government and give great aid to partisan warfare. Take the peasant…If you tell him that here’s partisan warfare for you and you’ll do everything with it then the peasant will ask why you’re imposing the burden of the struggle on him alone, what will the workers be doing? And he won’t agree to take the entire burden of the revolution on himself. He is smart enough, he recognizes that all evil comes from the city, taxes, etc. He would like to have an ally in the cities.

If you tell him that he will wage a struggle together with the worker he will understand and accept this. It was this way here in Russia. You need to pursue a struggle not only among the peasants and not just create partisan detachments, but also pursue serious intensive work among the working class and gain their trust, winning over a majority, and you need to also have armed detachments among the workers, prepare strikes by the workers and railroad men, and have detachments of workers in the cities.

When these two streams merge victory can be considered secured. You know that in Russia in 1905 the Czar yielded to the people, gave [them] a Duma and a number of other freedoms. The Czar was forced to yield.

What caused the Czar such fear? A rail strike! The capital was cut off from the country. The railroad workers only let delegates of the workers into Peterburg, but no goods, nothing else.

The importance to the revolution of rail strikes is very great and this would help partisan detachments.

Then, work among garrisons and soldiers. In 1917 before we propagandized so much among the soldiers that the entire garrison was on our side.

What got the soldiers? The issue of land.

This is such a weapon which even the Cossacks, these Praetorians of the Czar, could not resist. If you pursue a correct policy you can foster revolutionary sentiments and provoke dissension in reactionary circles.

The Chinese way was good for China.

It is insufficient for India where a proletarian struggle in the cities needs to be combined with the struggle of the peasants. Some people think that the Chinese comrades are against such a combination. This is incorrect. Would Mao Tse-tung not have been pleased if the workers of Shanghai had struck when his troops were moving on Nanking or military factory workers had struck? Of course not. But this didn’t happen because Mao lost contact with the cities. Of course, Mao Tse-tung would have been pleased if the railroad men had struck and Chiang Kai-shek would have been deprived of the ability to receive shells. Yet the lack of contact with the workers was a sad necessity, but not an ideal situation. It would be an ideal situation if you were to manage what the Chinese were not able to do, combining a peasant war with the struggle of the working class.

Dange: We have almost turned partisan warfare into theory without the participation of the workers.

Cde. Stalin: If Mao Tse-tung knew this he would curse you. ( Laughter). Let’s turn to the next question. Can Nehru’s government be considered a puppet of British imperialism just as the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek is a puppet of American imperialism or the current French government of [Rene] Pleven is a puppet of the same American imperialists?

In my opinion, Chiang Kai-shek could not be considered a puppet when his base was in China. He became a puppet when he moved to Formosa. I cannot consider Nehru’s government to be a puppet. He has his own roots among the population nevertheless.
This is not the government of Bao Dai…Bao Dai is really a puppet. Hence it follows that partisan war in India cannot be considered the main form of struggle; maybe it needs to be called the highest form of struggle? The peasants have: a boycott of merchants, a strike by agricultural workers, a refusal to work by lessees [Translator’s note: tenant farmers], individual clashes with landlords, the seizure of landlords’ lands, and then partisan warfare as the highest form of struggle. The same with the workers: a local strike, an industry [strike], a political strike, and a general political strike as a precursor to an uprising, and then an armed uprising as the highest form of struggle. It cannot therefore be said that partisan warfare is the main form of struggle in the country. It is also incorrect to say that a civil war is in full swing in the country right now. This is wrong, there isn’t one right now. They seized land in Telengana but it doesn’t mean anything for now. This is still an initial open struggle, but not the main form of struggle. India is still far from it. Peasants need to be taught struggle in small issues -- a reduction of rent payments, a reduction of the share of the harvest paid to the landlord, etc. Cadre need to be instructed in such small issues, but not to talk right away about armed struggle. If a wide-scale armed struggle were to begin then you would have serious difficulties since your Party is weak.

It is necessary for the Party to be strong and that the struggle of the masses be channeled in the necessary direction and that sometimes the masses [need to] be restrained. How did we begin in 1917?

We had many sympathizers in the army and navy, and we had the Moscow and Leningrad [SIC] soviets. However we restrained the insurrectionist workers movement. Demands to dissolve the provisional government were presented. But this did not enter into our plans, for the Leningrad garrison was not in our hands. In July the workers of the large Putilov plant where 40-50,000 people worked began a demonstration with sailors and soldiers behind them. They demanded the overthrow of the provisional government and came to the CC building with these demands. We dissuaded them, for all was not yet ready. We knew that we were headed for a serious uprising. There was an objective factor of an uprising, when the masses were rushing forward, but there was no subjective factor of an uprising. The Party was not yet ready.

We raised the question of an uprising one month [before], in September. We decided to organize an uprising, but it was supersecret. And when Politburo members Kamenev and Zinov’yev came out against the uprising in the press, considering it a foolhardy venture [avantyura], Lenin declared them to be traitors and said that they had betrayed our plans to [our] enemies. Therefore one cannot shout about an uprising [or] the element of surprise of the uprising will disappear.

Here Cde. Rao says, let’s speak to the people and ask them about an armed uprising…This cannot be done, one cannot shout about one’s plans [or] they’ll arrest all of you. I’ll assume that, let’s say, the peasants say: yes, it’s necessary to have an uprising. But this still does not mean that you need to follow the people and lag behind them. To direct means to lead people behind you. With regard to the advisability of such an uprising the people sometimes say that they are ready for an uprising based on the facts and events of their region, but not from the point of view of the entire country. This question needs to be decided by the CC. If [this] is clear, let’s move to the next question.

The Indian comrades: Yes, it’s clear.

Cde. Stalin: You ask whether the Party organization can issue a death sentence to a Party member for treason in which doubts have arisen.

It cannot. Lenin always taught that the highest form of punishment which the CC could issue was expulsion from the Party, but when the Party comes to power and some Party member violates the laws of revolution then the government calls him to account. It is evident from several of your documents that comrades are frequently inclined in the direction of individual terror with respect to enemies. If you are asking us Russian Communists about this, then we should tell you that here our Party was always taught in the spirit of repudiating individual terror. If the people themselves are fighting against landlords and kill a landlord in a clash, then we do not consider this individual terror inasmuch as the masses participated in this clash. If the Party itself organizes terrorist detachments to kill a landlord and manages without the involvement of the masses, then we always speak against this as against individual terror. Such vigorous actions of individual terrorists in conditions of passivity by the masses kill the spirit of spontaneous activity of the masses and instills a spirit of passivity in the masses, for the people reason this way: we cannot act, there is a hero who will work for us. Thus there is a hero and, on the other hand, there is a mob which is not participating in the struggle. Such actions are very dangerous from the point of view of instilling and organizing active participation by the masses.
There was a party, the Social Revolutionaries, in Russia which had special detachments and terrorized the chief ministers. We always spoke out against this party. This party lost any credit among the masses. We are against theory, the hero and the mob.

You also ask now, how should the question about the nationalization of land in India now be raised?

You don’t need to advance this demand at this stage. On the one hand, it is impossible to advance demands to divide the landlords’ land and at the same time say that the land ought to be transferred to the state. The nationalization of land was never proclaimed in the countries of the people’s democracies, and certainly not in China. How did they act in the countries of the people’s democracies? They prohibited the purchase and sale of land. This is the approach to nationalization. Only the state can obtain land. The accumulation of land in the hands of private individuals is prohibited. It is not to your advantage right now to promote a demand for nationalization.

Some of your comrades think that a civil war is underway in India. It is still early to talk about this. Conditions there for a civil war are increasing, but they have still not developed.

What are you to do now?

It would be good for you to have some sort of platform or, let’s say, an action program. Of course, you will have differences. We also had differences but we decided a question this way: what the majority was decided was the law. And even those comrades who did not agree with the decision of the majority carried out this decision honorably since the Party can have only a single will. You all want discussions. This can be allowed in peacetime but a revolutionary situation is building in your country and this luxury cannot be permitted there. This is why you have so few people in the Party, because your endless discussions confuse the masses.
The Russian Bolsheviks held open discussions in the period between 1903 and 1912, inasmuch as this was possible in Czarist conditions, in order to drive out the Mensheviks. Then when we had a policy of schism [raskol]. But you don’t have such a situation where the Party includes enemies. After we kicked out the Mensheviks in 1912 and created our own Party free of Mensheviks the Party became homogeneous. There were also differences. Then we gathered in a narrow circle [of people], discussed the question and simply acted the way the majority decided. After the Bolsheviks came to power Trotsky imposed a discussion on the Party which we didn’t want but which they began since Trotsky had stated provocatively that the Party allegedly did not want discussions because the Party was afraid of the truth. We commenced discussions and defeated Trotsky. But this was a discussion against which stood the entire Party. If a Party is more or less homogeneous and has ideological unity then such a Party does not need a discussion. A discussion needs to be held only in a narrow circle, not moved to the press. What the majority decides is law.

Ghosh: Cde. Stalin is right. Open discussion is not permissible impermissible for us anymore.

Cde. Stalin: asks if there is an institution of sympathizers in the Indian Communist Party.

Rao and Dange: No, we have only Party members.

Cde. Stalin: There are 5,600,000 members and 800,000 candidate members in our Party. What is the importance of the candidates’ probationary period? Earlier, we screened those who wanted to join the Party before accepting them into membership. We kept some four or five years [as candidate members], screening them and training them. Many want to join the Party, but they should first be screened and, second, need to be trained. [They] need elemental socialist education and then accept [them]. In our experience, this institution of candidate membership has proven its worth. We have a dense layer of sympathizers around the Party. But we should not crowd the Party with new members, we should not expand the Party very much. The quality of the people being accepted, not the quantity of Party members, needs to put ahead of everything else.

You also ask me, under what conditions can a partisan war be initiated? Partisan warfare cannot have great importance in the leading capitalist countries. Here they would quickly catch a partisan. Partisan warfare has especially great importance in less-developed [sredne-razvitye] and backward countries. For example, it is very difficult to start a partisan war in the United States of America or Germany. There are many large cities, extensive rail networks, and industrial areas there, and partisans would quickly be caught in these conditions. It is necessary that the mass of people consider themselves the hero, but they consider a hero to be instruments [ispolnitel’] of their own will so that individual acts directed against the enemy lead not to passivity by the masses but to activism. What happened in Telengana needs to be supported in every way, of course. These are the first shoots of a civil war, but you need not just hope for a partisan war. It helps, of course, but it needs help itself. [You] need to work more among the people, among the workers, in the army, and among intelligentsia and the peasantry. If armed detachments exist among the workers they could seize government offices in the event of turmoil. We had a worker’s guard in Leningrad, we trained it, and the workers were of great service during the uprising and seized the Winter Palace. Our peasantry had great help from the working class. Generally speaking, of all the classes of society, the peasantry trusted the working class the most. These two forms of struggle need to be combined, the struggle of the workers and the peasants, peasant uprisings and the actions [vystupleniya] of workers.

You remember the events in Indonesia. There were good Communist Party leaders in Indonesia but they allowed themselves to provoke a premature uprising. These were good, devoted, brave people, but they allowed themselves a provocation and perished.

It would be good for you to have a platform or an action program. Put agrarian revolution at the top of this platform or program.

You ask me also about the nature of Nehru’s foreign policy. This is a game, maneuvers, calculated to show that they are supposedly against American policy. In fact the Nehru government is playing between Britain and America.

Cdes. Rao, Dange, Ghosh, and Punnaiah thank Cde. Stalin for the conversation and declare that they will reconsider all their actions on the basis of the instructions of Cde. Stalin and act in accordance with these instructions.

Cde. Stalin: I gave you no instructions. This is just advice, which is not obligatory for you. You can accept it or not.

The conversation lasted over three hours

Transcribed [zapisal] by V. Grigor’yan 10.II.51

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:54 am

Pavel Yudin
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/16/20

Pavel Fyodorovich Yudin (Russian: Павел Фёдорович Юдин; 6 September [O.S. 26 August] 1899 – 10 April 1968) was a Soviet communist official specialising in the fields of culture and philosophy, and later a diplomat. He was a hard line supporter of Joseph Stalin.


The son of peasants, Yudin worked as a lathe operator in a railway workshop in 1917-19. He joined the Russian Communist Party in 1918, served in the Red Army 1919-21, and graduated from the Zinoviev University (later renamed the Stalin University) in Leningrad in 1924, after which he began a post graduate course at the Institute of Red Professors, where he was one of the minority of students who supported Stalin against the right wing opposition, led by Nikolai Bukharin, who opposed the forced collectivisation of agriculture.

Yudin was one of three signatories of an article, published in Pravda on 7 June 1930, denouncing Abram Deborin, who was the leading soviet communist philosopher of the 1920s.[1] Deborin regarded the late Georgi Plekhanov as the most authoritative Russian Marxist philosopher. Yudin and his co-signatories - who included his long time colleague M. B. Mitin - upheld Vladimir Lenin as the greater philosopher. Unable to dislodge Deborin from his commanding position in the Institute of Red Professors, or his control over the scientific magazine Под Знаменем Марксисма (Pod Znamenem Marxisma - Under the Banner of Marxism, they made a direct appeal to Stalin in December 1930 to intervene. Stalin met the leaders of the party organisation within the Institute of Red Professors to tell them that Deborin was guilty of 'Menshevik idealism'. Yudin went on to claim that “the works of Comrade Stalin continue the best traditions of the founders of Marxism.”.[2]

In January 1931, Yudin was co-opted onto the editorial board of Under the Banner of Marxism. In 1932-1938, he was Director of the Institute of Red Professors. From May 1933, until 1937, he was chief editor of the magazine Литературни Критик (Literaturni Kritic - Literary Critic). In 1934-37, he was deputy head of the Culture department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Conflict with Gorky

In April 1932, Yudin signed one of the first attacks on RAPP, and its leader Leopold Averbakh, on the day when Stalin ordered RAPP to disband and be incorporated in the new Union of Soviet Writers. Yudin was one of the original members of the organising committee of the Writers Union, but very soon earned the contempt of its Chairman, the writer Maxim Gorky, who wrote Stalin a long letter on 2 August 1934 accusing Yudin of promoting "intellectually feeble men." He added:

My attitude to Yudin is becoming more and more negative. I'm offended by his peasant cunning, his lack of principle, his duplicity, and the cowardice of someone who, while aware of his own personal impotence, attempts to surround himself with people even more insignificant and to hide among them.[3]

Role in the Purges

During the Great Purge, according to the Yugoslav communist leader, Josip Broz Tito "in the Soviet Union there was a joke about Yudin, that he was 'the best philosopher among the NKVD-men and the best NKVD-man among the philosophers."[4] In April 1937, he sent Stalin and Lazar Kaganovich a lengthy memo denouncing the playwright Vladimir Kirshon as an associate of Averbakh and of the ousted former NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, both recently arrested, saying that Kirshon and Averbakh had "held discussions of a Trotskyite nature", and that Kirshon had undergone a "repugnant Political and personal disintegration." He also accused Gorky's long-serving former secretary Pyotr Kryuchkov of having 'poisoned' Gorky's relations with the writers union. Those four were all executed, but the historian Isaak Mints survived despite being denounced by Yudin, in the same letter as "a two-faced Janus, the toady of Yagoda and Kryuchkov."[5]

Post War Career

In 1937-1946, Yudin was director of OGIZ (the Association of State Books and Magazines), the state publishing house. In 1939-1944 he was also Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1940-42, Yudin and Mitin edited the three volume История философий (Istoriya filosofi - History of Philosophy), which won the 1942 Stalin Prize, reputedly the first book on philosophy to achieve that award. But in May 1944, the third volume was attacked in an editorial in the magazine Bolshevik for allegedly failing to recognise that the philosopher Georg Hegel was a German nationalist and racist. The Stalin Prize committee revised its previous decision, saying that the prize was for the first two volumes of the History of Philosophy, and Yudin and Mitin were sacked from the positions they held in the Institute of Philosophy and on the board of Under the Banner of Marxism. Yudin suffered another humiliation in October 1946, when he was accused of having mismanaged OGIZ, and was sacked.[6]

These setback in Yudin's were obviously connected to the rise of Andrei Zhdanov, who emerged around 1946 as the Soviet communist party's chief ideologist and Stalin's successor-in-waiting. That Yudin was frightened of Zhdanov is evident from the eye witness account by the Serbian communist Koca Popovic:

At the end of 1947 I paid a visit to Zhdanov about some problems relating to Albania. While we were discussing the matter, the telephone rang and Zhdanov told me that Yudin was coming with an issue of the Cominform journal, published in Belgrade. A few minutes later the door opened and Yudin came in, bowing towards Zhdanov while he was approaching him. He left the newspaper on the table and retreated, bowing all the time. He covered in that way more than six or seven yards, because the room was rather large, and in bowing himself out he backed into the door, while nervously trying to find the doorknob with his hand.[7]

Diplomatic career

When Cominform was founded, in October 1947, Yudin was appointed editor of the Cominform journal, For a Lasting Peace, For a People's Democracy!, based in Belgrade, which was then the capital of Yugoslavia. There he played a major role in the split between the USSR and Yugoslavia, which culminated in the Yugoslav communist party's expulsion from Cominform, and a failed attempt by Moscow to destroy the Tito regime. In March 1948, Yudin suppressed an article written for the journal by the Yugoslav communists Vladimir Dedijer and Radovan Zogović, which had expressed solidarity with liberation movements in Asia.[8] In that instance, he was almost certainly following orders, because he was allowed almost no initiative while running this magazine, every issue of which had to be sent to Moscow for approval before it could be published.[9] - but according to the future Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, he used his position to sow trouble between Tito and Stalin, by sending Stalin a report alleging that the Yugoslavs had made insulting remarks about the military and technical advisers sent to them from the Soviet Union. The report was circulated to members of the Soviet Politburo[10] Soon afterwards, the Soviet Union withdrew its advisers. On 27 March 1948, the Soviet leadership sent a letter Tito setting out various complaints, including an allegation that Yudin was under surveillance in Belgrade.[11] Tito later alleged: "Yudin's work in Belgrade was not restricted to the paper. He took an active part in preparing the final reckoning with Yugoslavia. He tried hard to poison relations between Yugoslavia and her neighbours, especially Bulgaria and Albania."[12]

In 1950, when Stalin was concerned that China might be the next communist country to refuse to recognise him as leader of the communist bloc, Yudin was dispatched to Beijing, to assist in arranging publication of the works of Mao Zedong. According to Khrushchev, this was at Mao's request, because "Mao wanted an educated man to help him put his works into proper shape and catch any mistakes in Marxist philosophy before Mao's works were published."[13]

He was back in Moscow in October 1952, for the 19th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, at which he was made a member of the Central Committee and a candidate member of the Praesidium of the Central Committee. After the Congress, he was sent to Berlin as political advisor to the Soviet Control Commission in East Germany. In 1953, he was promoted to the post of Deputy High Commissioner of the USSR in East Germany.[14]

Yudin was Soviet Ambassador to China from 3 December 1953 to 15 October 1959. He was re-elected to the Central Committee at the 20th Party Congress in 1956 (the one during which Khrushchev delivered the Secret Speech exposing Stalin's crimes.) Having delivered a speech to the Central Committee plenum afterwards, Yudin reputedly exclaimed, purely out of habit "Long live Comrade Stalin!" - which produced an embarrassed silence, followed by an apology from the speaker.
[15] He was recalled from China after the split between the USSR and China, which followed Khrushchev's meeting with President Eisenhower in Camp David. On his return, he blamed Khrushchev, rather than Mao, for the split, to which Khrushchev retorted: "I might remark with some justification that we were sure to have discord with any country where Yudin was sent as ambassador. Yudin was sent to Yugoslavia and we had a falling out with Tito. Yudin went to China, and we had a falling out with Mao. This is no coincidence."[16]

In 1960-68, Yudin worked at the Institute of Philosophy of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

In Literature

Yudin is mentioned by name in Vasili Grossman's classic novel, Life and Fate, when a soldier named Vavilov tells his comrades: "Once, I had to drive a lecturer from Moscow to the front - -Pavel Fyodorovich Yudin. The member of the Military Soviet had said that it would be the end of me if I lost so much as a hair off his head. Now that was really hard work. We had to dive straight into the ditch if a plane came anywhere near. But Comrade Yudin certainly knew how to take care of himself -- I'll say that for him."


1. "Юдин, Павел Фёдорович". Википедия. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
2. Ogurtsov, Alexander. "Подавлени Философии".
3. Katerina Clark, and Evgeny Dobrenko (2007). Soviet Culture and Power, A History in Documents, 1917-1953. New Haven: Yale U.P. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-300-10646-6.
4. Dedijer, Vladimir (1954). Tito Speaks, His Self Portrait and Struggle with Stalin. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 306.
5. Clark, and Dobrenko. Soviet Culture. pp. 311–12.
6. Hahn, Werner G. (1982). Postwar Soviet Politics, The Fall of Zhdanov and the Defeat of Moderation 1946-53. Ithaca: Cornell U.P. pp. 71-73. ISBN 0-8014-1410-5.
7. Dedijer. Tito Speaks. p. 307.
8. Ra'anan, Gavriel D. (1983). International Policy Formation in the USSR, Factional "Debates" during the Zhdanovshchina. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon. p. 114. ISBN 0-208-01976-6.
9. Dedijer. Tito Speaks. p. 308.
10. Khrushchev, Nikita (1971). Khrushchev Remembers. London: Sphere. p. 341.
11. Hahn. Postwar Soviet Politics. p. 99.
12. Dedijer. Tito Speaks. p. 308.
13. Khrushchev Remembers. pp. 427–28.
14. Vergasov, Fateh. "Павел Фёдорович Юдин". Псевология (Pseudology). Retrieved 19 January 2019.
15. "Юдин, Павел Фёдорович". Википедия. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
16. Khrushchev Remembers. p. 427.
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Part 1 of 2

Caste and the Andhra Communists
by Selig S. Harrison
University of California (Berkeley)
American Political Science Review, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp. 378-404
June 1956

The primary raw material of Communist power in economically less developed regions of the world is neither the landless peasant with outstretched rice bowl nor the intellectual in search of a cause. Even more basic than these frequently summoned symbols, the realpolitik of social tensions determines political events where economic scarcity aggravates the particularisms dividing man from man.

This contention gains strength from a study of Communist fortunes in a representative Asian setting. With little or no industrial economy to ease population density and underemployment, Andhra State on the southeast coast of India bears the familiar marks of Asian poverty. Here has emerged the most successful regional Communist movement in India. Yet the explanation for Andhra Communist strength does not lie in economic factors. The postwar decade in Andhra demonstrates that social factors can relegate even unusually powerful economic factors to a position of secondary importance.

A comparative analysis spanning three elections in Andhra shows that Communist success has depended primarily on the effective manipulation of social tensions. In Andhra these tensions have been twofold: the rivalry between two rising peasant proprietor caste groups, and the struggle of all Andhra, a Telugu-speaking region of 20,507,801 people, to win linguistic identity as a separate province within the Indian Union. Communist candidates have won their margins of victory most often when they have been able to exploit allegiance to caste and to language region. They have made the most of economic despair, signs of decay in the governing Congress party, and the reflected glory of international communism, but these alone do not get to the bottom of the Communist roots in Andhra soil.

The present study seeks to establish the crucial importance of caste manipulation as a source of Andhra Communist strength.1 This is not to say that Communists monopolize exploitation of caste. Inevitably the institution of caste, so peculiarly integral to all Hindu social organization, pervades the entire political system in predominantly Hindu India. Whether caste in India lends itself more readily to political manipulation than do social factors elsewhere has not yet been explored. But Hindu caste discipline clearly wields a measure of political influence in India that cries for serious study. While the non-Hindu who presumes to assess this influence cannot escape his own limitations as an outsider, he sees at the same time that those in the fold who could speak with greater authority rarely do so by the very fact of their personal position.

As an example of Hindu caste discipline in political motion, the postwar decade in Andhra merits special attention. Caste has played so fundamental a role during this period that this examination becomes in effect a case history in the impact of caste on India's representative institutions.

The accident of three free elections within a decade in Andhra -- 1946, 1951, and 1955 -- makes Andhra a uniquely convenient unit of study. The first of these elections came only a year before independence. The British Indian regime conducted a limited franchise ballot to choose provincial legislatures which, in turn, named the constitution-writers of India's first Constituent Assembly. By 1951, Prime Minister Nehru's government had launched nationwide direct elections on a basis of general adult franchise to select new members both of the lower house of the Indian Parliament and of state assemblies. The 1951 balloting set a relatively stable political pattern throughout India, with the notable exceptions of Andhra, Travancore-Cochin, and the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).

In the case of Andhra, the legislators elected in 1951 were seated alongside deputies speaking Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada, in the legislature of multilingual Madras State, a sprawling political Babel carved out by British mapmakers with little regard to south India's cultural differences. It was only after Potti Sriramulu, a prominent Gandhian advocate of provincial autonomy, fasted unto death in 1952 that the Nehru government demarcated Andhra as a separate state. When the new unit was inaugurated in October, 1953, the 160 Telugu members of the Madras legislature, including a 41-member Communist bloc, became the new Andhra legislature. A Congress cabinet took office, but factionalism within and Communist harassment from the outside brought its collapse on a no-confidence motion by November, 1954. New elections had to be conducted in February, 1955, the third in less than ten years.

For all Andhra political groups, this decade of near-deadlock was a rigorous exercise. Where else in Asia has a major Communist bid for power faced so intensive a testing process at the polls? Moreover, the checkered course of Andhra Communist strategy during the period under study enhances the significance of this examination. For the primacy of caste and language manipulation in Andhra Communist success has persisted through the gamut of a wartime united front, four bloody guerrilla years, and the present parliamentary phase of Indian communism.

By focusing on caste and language it is possible to discover why the Andhra Communists, while successively increasing their popular vote from 258,974 (on a limited franchise in 1946) to 1,208,656 (1951) to 2,695,562 (1955), were able to win a significant number of seats in the legislature only in 1951. To add to this seeming discrepancy, not only did the popular vote increase -- it increased without disturbing the localized concentration of Communist power.


In all three elections Andhra. communism demonstrated its greatest strength in the fertile rice delta where the Krishna and Godavari rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal. Contrary to the theme that poverty above all breeds communism, arid Rayalaseema in west Andhra has consistently failed to produce a significant Communist response.


To find the keys to this puzzling situation it is necessary first to establish the major caste contours of the Andhra political landscape. As the Indian government's recent report on rural credit warned:

It is necessary to place the operational picture against the social background of rural India. This is more important than almost anything else for a true understanding of the working of rural credit, cooperative, governmental, or other, just as indeed it is also indispensable for the proper appraisal of the effects of any particular measure of policy or legislation or administration as they shape themselves, or sometimes fail to take shape at all, in the actualities of the Indian village.2

In the case of the Andhra Communists, the effective use of caste does not arise full-blown out of a bottomless tactical armory but rather out of the caste homogeneity of the Andhra Communist leadership itself. Since the founding of the Andhra Communist party in 1934, the party leadership has been the property of a single subcaste, the Kamma landlords, who dominate the Krishna-Godavari delta.3 This fact carries enormous importance in view of the rising influence of the Kammas in Andhra life. The war and postwar years were a boom period for the Kamma farmers,4 who own an estimated 80 per cent of the fertile delta land.5 High prices for both food and cash crops made many Indian peasant proprietor castes newly rich, but for the Kammas, presiding over land as productive as any in all India, the boom was especially potent.

Kamma funds have made the Andhra party better able to support itself than any other regional arm of Indian communism. In fair political weather or foul a virile, expensively produced Communist press in Andhra's Telugu language has been kept alive by a Kamma publisher, Katragadda Rajagopal Rao,'6 whose family also operates one of India's largest Virginia tobacco plantations and virtually monopolizes the fertilizer market in Andhra.7 As "the people who count"8 in the villages of the delta districts, even relatively modest Kamma landholders have been in a position to put decisive influence on the side of the Communist party.9

Aruna Asaf Ali, a member of the Indian Communist Central Committee, has said that "a distinguishing feature of the Andhra party is its social content. The rural intelligentsia (numerically stronger and politically a great deal more mature than in the rest of India) has provided the party with a leadership that knows its mind and is unmistakably competent."10 Three wealthy Kamma intellectuals have maintained for at least the past 15 years key control of the Andhra Communist party: party secretary Chandrasekhar Rao, former national Indian Communist party secretary Rajeshwar Rao, and M. Basava Punniah, a member of the Indian Communist Central Committee.11 As a result, an Andhra Communist dissident has coined the epithet kulak pettamdar to attack the Andhra leadership, coupling the Russian word for rich peasant with the Telugu word for head of a caste or tribe.12

In sharp contrast to Kamma control or the Communist party, stands the power of the rival landowning Reddi caste in the Congress party.13 This posture of political competition between the two caste groups is only a modern recurrence of an historic pattern dating back to the fourteenth century14. In the past century15 the rivalry has sharpened to the point where the Kammas have felt themselves an excluded "out" group in social and political life -- a sociological fact which has figured prominently in the strategy of both major parties in the elections under study.

Kamma lore nurtures the image of a once-proud warrior clan reduced by Reddi chicanery to its present peasant status. Reddi duplicity, recounted by Kamma historian K. Bhavaiah Choudary, was first apparent in 1323 A.D. at the downfall of Andhra's Kakatiya dynasty. Reciting voluminous records to prove that Kammas dominated the Kakatiya court, Choudary suggests that the Reddis, also influential militarists at the lime, struck a deal at Kamma expense with the Moslem conquerors of the Kakatiya regime. The Kammas lost their noble rank and were forced into farming.

In his research Coudary frankly has an axe to grind: he seeks to establish Kamma claims to Kshatriya (warrior) rank, second in the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy, rather than their present Sat-Sudra status.16 His main outline of Kamma and Reddi history, however, does not differ essentially from the consensus of more disinterested scholars.17 Both Kammas and Reddis were probably warriors in the service of the early Andhra kings. Later they became farmers, some feudal overlords and others small peasant proprietors who to this day take part in the cultivation of their land. Between them they dominated rural Andhra, leaving Brahmans beyond the pale of economic power in the countryside.

For five centuries the Kammas have centered in the four mid-Andhra delta districts, which Choudary says were once known as "Kamma Rashtra" or "Kamma Land." The 1921 census18 shows 600,679 Kammas congregated in the delta districts, with another 560,305 scattered in other Andhra districts and in pockets in neighboring Tamil territory.19 The extent of Kamma dominance in the delta is exemplified in Guntur district, where all other peasant proprietor castes together totaled 149,308, less than half the Kamma figure.

Thc Reddis20 gravitated to the five Rayalaseema districts of west Andhra. Here Kammas are in the minority; in Cuddapah, for example, Reddis numbered 211,558 to 20,171 Kammas, and in Kurnool, Reddis were 121,032 to 14,313 Kammas. Today in popular Telugu parlance the region is called "Reddiseema."

This geographical separation of the two powerful castes had a tribal logic; in anyone local area, only one or the other caste group with its patriarch could be dominant. When British tax-collectors came onto the scene, they formalized the status quo, extending the sway of leading landholders in each caste over vast zamindari estates. Fourteen Kamma zamindars became the biggest estate owners in the delta country.

Despite their wealth, the Kammas and Reddis as a village-centered rural gentry lagged behind the traditionally education-minded Brahmans in gaining the English literacy that was the entry to political leadership in the early years of the independence movement. For example, the 1921 census showed that out of 79,740 literate Kammas, only 2,672 were able to read English, while out of 159,730 literate Telugu Brahmans, as many all 46,498 were literate in English.21

Choudary explains this in the following way:

Shorn of their principalities, commanding officer's posts, and choudariships, Kammas had to content themselves with the lot of peasants and husbandmen. Learning only Telugu, they looked after their ryotwari [holdings]. Only about 1900 A.D., Kammas awakened to the fact that without English education they cannot better their position. The few educated Kammas who joined government service had to struggle hard to come up due to lack of patronage and the opposition of Brahman vested interests.22

It was inevitable that Kamma-Reddi competition would increase with the educational advancement of the two castes, and that the Brahman politicians who controlled the Andhra Congress party would gradually lose their actual -- if not titular -- party control to others exercising greater local power in Andhra. This is precisely what happened between 1934 and World War II. Both Kammas and Reddis, pushing forward with the anti-Brahman movement that swept all South India, supported the Andhra branch of the short-lived Justice party.23 Then Reddi power lodged itself in the Congress behind a Brahman facade at the same time that a clique of young Kamma intellectuals was founding the Andhra Communist party. Choudary notes that Kamma youth were attracted by "the Communist Party, with its slogans of social equality," but he does not seek to explain why the party in Andhra became "predominated by Kammas" rather than Reddis.24

The circumstances explaining the polarization of Kamma-Reddi warfare on a Communist-Congress basis deserve further study. The consensus in Andhra points to geographical accident: the Kammas happened to be in the delta. There political activity of every stripe had always been greater than in Rayalascema. From the beginning of the independence movement Gandhian Congress leaders found their liveliest Andhra response in the delta rice trading towns of Vijayawada and Guntur, centers of the region's intellectual and political ferment. Thus, just as the then Brahman-dominated Congress drew its leadership from the delta, so the challenge to this leadership emerged within the strongest non-Brahman caste group in the delta. In addition, in the delta's legions of landless laborers there was the grist of a mass movement plain to any young Marxist intellectual looking for a cause.

The young Reddi intelligentsia in the Rayalaseema hinterlands was politically quiescent by comparison with the Kammas. The young Reddi who did desire a political career could best seek it in the Congress, where his caste group, gravitating almost by default, had cornered the market on the bulk of the party's non-Brahman patronage. Some young Reddi leaders were a part of the Communist party from its inception, but they have always been outnumbered by Kammas. Only one has held his own in the party hierarchy, Puchalapalli Sundarayya, whose real name is Puchalapalli Sundar Rama Reddi.25 He is in a position comparable to that of the Kamma Congress veteran, N. G. Ranga, a nationally prominent Congress figure and another notable exception to the rule of caste politics in Andhra. Both of these politically displaced persons enjoy wide personal popularity, but both strike discordant notes within the otherwise relatively homogeneous leadership cliques of their respective parties.


Against this historical backdrop it is now possible to examine the course of political events surrounding the 1946, 1951, and 1955 elections in Andhra in an effort to explain the consistent concentration of the Communist popular vote in the delta as well as its special potency in 1951.

In 1946, Andhra was the only region in India where the Communists felt strong enough to enter a bloc of candidates across one large contiguous group of constituencies against the candidates of the Congress-recognized champion of independence at a time when India remained under foreign domination. In Bengal, Malabar, and parts of north India, where the Communist party was also an election factor, Communist entries were pinpointed in scattered centers of industrial or farm labor, but in Andhra they were massed solidly over the delta. Of the 62 constituencies in areas now forming Andhra,26 the Communists contested 29, all virtually side by side. Twenty-four were located in Krishna, Guntur, East and West Godavari districts, the delta belt commonly called the "Circars."27 This concentration in the delta was no momentary accident of tactics but a reflection of the basic character of Andhra communism. The pattern of 1946 remains the pattern of 1955.


Year / Votes Cast in Four Delta Districts:* % of Total Votes Cast / Communist Votes Cast in Four Delta Districts: % of Total Communist Vote / Communist Candidates Contesting in Four Delta Districts: % of Total Communist Candidates

1946 / 55.1 / 94.7 / 89.2
1951 / 54.3 / 85.5 / 72.2
1955 / 56.2 / 72.8 / 57.4

* The four Andhra districts in the Krishna-Godavari delta are Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari, and West Godavari.

With Communist candidates almost exclusively centered in the delta in 1946 (see Table I), it was not surprising that most Communist votes were recorded there. Even in 1955, however, with only 57.4 per cent of the Communist candidates running in the delta districts, 72.8 per cent of the Communist vote still went to these delta contestants. In 1951, 31 of the 41 successful Communist candidates were in delta constituencies; in 1955, 11 of 15. In all three elections, the delta has provided an average of 55 per cent of Andhra's total vote.

View this concentration in the delta alongside the failure of the Communists in 1955 to win more than 15 seats in a 196-member chamber28 -- at the same time that they were increasing their share of the popular vote from18.6 to 31.2 per cent. Congress quarters reason hopefully29 that the increased vote resulted naturally from the greater number of Communist, candidates in 1955 (169 out of a total 560) than in 1951 (61 out of 614). Yet this explanation ignores the fact that the Communists retained their high proportion of the vote in their delta heartland. While their ambitious "shotgun" strategy helps explain why the Communists won comparatively few seats in 1955, other factors must be found to explain the consistent concentration of the Communist popular vote as well as its special potency in 1951.

Certainly one feature distinguishing the delta scene from other parts of Andhra is the high population density -- especially the high percentage of landless laborers. Density runs from 900 to 1200 persons per square mile in the delta, as compared with 316 in the rest of Andhra. Thirty-seven per cent of the total agricultural population in the delta is landless labor, a concentration second only to Malabar District on the West Indian coast.30

Andhra Communist leaders have from the outset attempted to organize the Adi-Andhras, an untouchable subcaste comprising the bulk of the region's landless migrants.31 Their success has been conceded by Communist leaders outside Andhra who granted that "the organized strength of agricultural workers in Andhra is by far the biggest in any province."32 The likelihood that the votes of landless laborers have been a bulwark to Communist strength gains further support from an analysis of the concentration of Communist votes alongside the irrigation map of the delta. The same extensively irrigated delta rice country which, as a focus of fanning, has dense settlements of landless labor, such as Tenalii, Gudivada, Bapatla, and Bandar taluks (subdivisions) in Krishna District, is also the site of consistently high Communist voting.33 After the 1951 elections, the Congress publicly acknowledged that Communist "canalization" of agricultural labor votes had played an important part in the election.24 There is no evidence to suggest that this factor was absent in 1955. On the contrary, the Communists themselves claim that "the moot oppressed and exploited strata of the people in the rural areas, the agricultural workers and poorest peasants, stood firmly by the party."35 Independent press comment has accepted this as a fact.36

In 1946, however, the Communists could not have derived much benefit from this source of strength. Franchise limitations excluded all but 13 per cent of the population. In addition to a literacy requirement, only registered landholders owning, in addition to their homes, immovable property valued at the rupee equivalent of $10 or more were permitted to vote.37 Therefore, landless farm laborers were unable to take part in the election.

In any case, the support of landless labor would not explain the two subsequent elections. To be sure, six of the 31 seats won by the delta Communists in 1951 were reserved for scheduled castes (untouchables). These seats, by their very nature, hang on the support of landless labor. In addition, these six reserved seats were in double-member constituencies in which the Communists also won the six non-reserved seats. In these double constituencies both general and scheduled caste voters can vote twice, each influencing the outcome in both seats; landless labor thus clearly played a role in the six non-reserved seats in these double-member constituencies. In the remaining 19 of the 1951 Communist victories, landless labor votes must also have been an important prop to Communist candidates. But if dependable landless labor support alone explains Andhra communism, why then could the Communists not win as many seats in 1955 as in 1951?

It is the contention of this study that Communist victory in 1951 stemmed from a timely confluence of events, favorable to the manipulation of social tensions, which did not recur in 1955. In 1951 the movement to carve a separate Andhra State out of Madras had reached a high emotional pitch. The Communists surcharged the election atmosphere with propaganda keyed to Telugu patriotism, while in 1955, with Andhra State a reality, the Congress could make Indian nationalism the issue. Furthermore, at the same time that they were exploiting Telugu solidarity in 1951, the Communists made the most of a bitterly tense moment in Andhra's caste rivalries -- a crisis which the Congress was able to surmount in time for 1955.


At the end of the war, with the polarization of Andhra politics on caste-party lines almost complete, the Kamma Congress leader, N. G. Ranga, was on the far fringes of the Andhra Congress power structure. Inside, a personal rivalry raged between two prominent Telugu Brahman politicians: Pattabhi Sitaramayya, official historian of the Indian National Congress, and Tanguturu Prakasam, "Lion of Andhra," a mass idol, who won a legendary reputation in the independence movement when he bared his chest before British police, daring them to shoot. Sitaramayyu typified the Brahman facade behind which Reddi power made its appearance. In 1946 he held firmly onto the Andhra Congress machinery, though Prakasam maneuvered many of his own choices into election nominations. N.G. Ranga was, then, part independent operator, part Prakasam satellite.

Frankly building his political career on a Kamma base, Ranga had articulated a "peasant socialist" theory38 gingered by Western class slogans but boiling down in concrete terms to a defense of peasant proprietorship as opposed to land nationalization. In Andhra he organized a compact political striking force, bent on increasing Kamma influence in the Congress while at the same time fighting the Communists by reciting the story of Stalin and the peasant. In 1946, however, with Congress activity only beginning to regain momentum after the war, there was little time to put a striking force into action before the elections. Relatively few Kammas won Congress nomination and election, even in Kamma strongholds (see Tables II and III).

The Kamma Communist leaders were in a more favorable position. During the war the Andhra Communists fattened handsomely on the official patronage accorded All-India communism for support of the defense effort. The Congress, demanding freedom first, protested when Britain decided that India was at war. Thus, while Congress leaders spent the war in British jails, Communist leaders not only had a clear field to organize but actually had government support to popularize rationing and talk down strikes.39 In parts of India where the Communist movement had gained a foothold before the war, this favored position presented a rare opportunity for rapid expansion. The Andhra Communists could take full advantage of the situation. Besides the wealth and influence of their Kamma leaders, they had capitalized as much as any regional Communist party from the prewar united front with the Congress Socialist party, walking off with almost the entire Andhra Socialist organization in 1939.40


Year / Communist Kamma / Communist Reddi / Communist Brahman / Communist Other / Congress Kamma / Congress Reddi / Congress Brahman / Congress Other

1946 / 9 -- / 1 / 1 / 4 / 3 / 4 / 7
1951 / 22 / 2 / 3 / 15 / 17 / 7 / 2 / 20
1955 / 32 / 4 / 6 / 24 / 28 / 7 / 7 / 25

Note: Constituencies reserved for scheduled castes and tribes have been omitted. In the case of 1946, when certain constituencies were also reserved for urban as distinct from rural voters, and on the basis of labor union membership, religion, and sex, these figures apply only to general rural constituencies.


Year / Communist Kamma / Communist Reddi / Communist Brahman / Communist Other / Congress Kamma / Congress Reddi / Congress Brahman / Congress Other

1946 / -- / -- / -- / -- / 4 / 3 / 4 / 7
1951 / 14 / 2 / 3 / 6 / 3 / 3 / -- / 4
1955 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 3 / 24 / 7 / 7 / 25

Note: Constituencies reserved for scheduled castes and tribes have been omitted. In the case of 1946, when certain constituencies were also reserved for urban as distinct from rural voters, and on the basis of labor union membership, religion, and sex, these figures apply only to general rural constituencies.

The Andhra Communists waged a vigorous campaign in the 1946 elections, putting their major effort into Kamma strongholds. Because the sole successful Communist contestant won in a labor stronghold,41 the dominantly rural nature of the Communist effort in 1946 has been overshadowed. Of the 24 delta seats for which the Communists contested, 17 were entirely in rural areas. Of these 17, six were reserved seats for scheduled castes. In each of the 11 remaining "general rural" constituencies, the per cent of the vote polled by the Communists was surprisingly high -- ranging from a low of 11.5 to a high of 31.9, with the median falling just above 20.42 When the franchise property restriction in 1946 is kept in mind, this figure assumes its proper importance. These were not to any substantial degree the votes of agricultural labor. Rather they were votes drawn from the general landed caste Hindu population in the countryside and from propertied voters in small rural centers.

Here a caste analysis of candidates highlights the Kamma base of the Communist leadership, Omitting the xix constituencies set apart for scheduled castes, a caste breakdown of the 11 Communist caste Hindu entrants shows nine Kammas, while of 18 caste Hindu Congress entrants for rural seats in the four delta districts only four were Kammas (Table II).


After the 1946 elections, events in India led quickly to the final withdrawal of British rule and the establishment of the new Nehru government. The Indian Communist party, caught in the wartime united front spirit of world communism, was swearing its love for Jawaharlal Nehru as a leftist force in the Congress when the Cominform made its celebrated switch to a terrorist line in Asia in late 1947. Party secretary P. C. Joshi became the scapegoot, and a new insurrectionist strategy was launched under the leadership of B. T. Ranadive. In different parts of India this strategy took different forms. Acid bombs were hurled in the streets of Calcutta as Ranadive talked of urban proletarian uprisings. But in Andhra revolutionary form then distinctive in Indian Communist experience was taking shape. It combined in a paradoxical fashion the power of the Kammas in the countryside with the land hunger of the migrant untouchables in the delta and in neighboring Telengana, the Telugu-speaking southeast corner or Hyderabad State.

This was the so-called Telengana movement, organized along standard Communist guerrilla lines with wholesale land redistribution and parallel village governments. Clusters of villages in the delta and nearly all of Warangal and Nalgonda districts in Hyderahad went under Communist control from 1948 through 1950. Andhra and Telengana Communist leaders directed a two-way offensive, north into Telengana and south into the delta, from a 40-village base or operations in Munagala Jungle in northwest Krishna District.42 Communist squads raided villages by night, police battalions by day. When Indian Army troops conducted their 1948 "police action" against the Nizam of Hyderabad, they stayed on in Warangal and Nalgonda to drive the Communists out. It took them until 1951 to restore normal local government.

In all the tumult in the delta, most Kammas with their valuable paddy lands went unscathed. So long as the middling-rich farmers, who make up the bulk of the caste, stayed above the battle, they were classified in Communist strategy as "neutralized."44 This was outright deviation, not only from the Ranadive line, which saw all landowners as equally villainous, but also from the Moscow-Zdhanov line decreeing unequivocal guerrilla offensives throughout Asia. B. T. Ranadive, attacking the Andhra Secretariat, publicly charged that in Andhra Communist ranks "it is the rural intellectuals, sons of rich peasants and middle peasants, that preponderate in important positions. The party politically based itself on the vacillating politics of the middle peasants and allowed itself to be influenced even by rich peasant ideology." He contrasted Andhra's "wrong social base" with the working class base of the Tamihnad party and the "poor peasant" base in Kerala.45

The Andhra Communists had made no secret of their "rich peasant" policy within the party. They explicitly declared themselves on this point in a 1948 program report for the Indian Communist Politburo which stressed two major tactical rules of thumb:

1. In delta areas the pressure of population would be heavy, and as such slogans should be raised for the distribution of lands belonging to rich ryots among poor peasants and laborers ...

2. Propaganda should be carried on to convince the ryots about the just demands of the workers, and we should also effect compromises with such of those ryots who would follow with us. Assurance should be given that we should not touch the lands of rich ryots.46

B.T. Ranadive singled out for special attack another statement of this position in a 1948 Andhra Secretariat document discussing tactics toward government rice procurement for rationing:

In the matter of procurement of paddy, the Secretariat believes that it is possible to neutralize the rich peasants as the government plan goes against the rich peasantry also. Though the rich peasantry as a class is not standing firmly in the fight, it is parting with paddy with dissatisfaction.

This, Ranadive charged, "constitutes the real practical gist of the document, a program of class collaboration in rural areas, of bowing down before the rich peasant."47

Ranadive and the Andhra Secretariat waged unabashed open warfare that may have reflected a larger struggle in world communism. For then, in mid- 1949, Mao Tse-tung did not yet control the Chinese mainland. Soviet policy still belabored Mao for his "New Democracy" with its expansive welcome to "patriotic" capitalists and rich peasants. The Andhra document specifically justified its "rich peasant" policies by pointing to Mao. But, Ranadive declared, Mao's "horrifying" departures from accepted Stalinist dogma "are such that no Communist party can accept them; they are in contradiction to the world understanding of the Communist parties." Ranadive scolded the Andhra comrades, who "should have thought ten times before making such a formulation."48

John Kautsky has pieced together intricate details of international Communist publications during the period of the Andhra-Ranadive exchange to show that in their controversy they "reflect in an extreme fashion the uncertainty between the 'left' and 'Maoist' views then prevailing in Moscow." Kautsky, describing the disorganized state of Indian communism, also notes the "peculiar internal cohesion and individual character" which makes the Andhra party a striking exception. "As a result, while other regional CPI organizations were at Ranadive's mercy, the Andhra Committee seems to ha\'e remained relatively immune from his interference."49

By January, 1950, the Cominform journal had endorsed the "path taken by the Chinese people,"50 and by the summer of 1950 the Indian Communists were apologizing profusely to Mao.51 They praised "New Democracy" as a model for India to follow, and replaced B.T. Ranadive with the Kamma Andhra Communist leader Chandra Rajeshwar Rao, whose family rice plantation sprawls over 290 acres of fertile delta land.


National Indian Communist policy under Rajeshwar Rao's leadership proceeded to misread the Cominform editorial by "assuming that it had been asked to pursue the Chinese path by adopting armed struggle."52 The Telengana struggle was thus stepped up at the very moment when the Nehru government was bearing down on the movement with all its military might. By the Spring of 1951, the superior power of Indian government forces had crushed guerrilla strength in Telengana and the delta. At the same time, a factional split was growing between Rajeshwar Rao and forces led by S.A. Dange, the veteran Bombay Communist labor leader. Dange saw the plainly increasing stability of the Indian political scene and favored participation in the general elections scheduled for the end of the year. To resolve the crisis, Moscow summoned Rajeshwar Rao, his Andhra Kamma colleague Basava Punniah, S.A. Dange, and party stalwart Ajoy K. Ghosh to the Soviet Union to put a Kremlin imprimatur on a peace settlement. The result was the selection of Ajoy Ghosh as party secretary and a new, moderate policy.

As its first peace overture to the government, the Communist party sent out feelers in mid-summer offering to behave as a legal party in exchange for the release of imprisoned detenus, many of whom were the strongest Communist election contenders. At first, the Communist press complained that the government of Hyderabad, where the initial overtures were made, "did not even bother to reply."53 In a Parliament speech August 14, the then Home Minister Chakravarti Rajagopalachari declared that "the party cannot have it both ways, delivering speeches and carrying on other election activities while killing and terrorizing." As late as November 19, the official Congress party organ said that "it would be unprecedented for any government to release men convicted by courts or reasonably detained as enemies of the state.54 Still, in spite of these declarations, the government had an historic last-minute change of heart,55 and released most of the Madras Communist prisoners.

Communist leaders hurried from South Indian jails to their home districts with all the martyr's aura reserved in Indian society for those who suffer privation at the hands of authority. A notification in the Gazette of India dated August 11, 1951 showed 202 communist prisoners in Madras, most of them -- although district by district breakdowns are not available -- from Andhra. Month by month figures in Home Ministry files show the Madras total of its detenus dropping to 86 in December and four by February, 1952. These figures do not include an almost equal number placed on parole at this time and later declared free. Thus, most of the Andhra Communist high command were freed in time to map election strategy for the January balloting. They campaigned feverishly to make up for their late start, well aware that the deep factional crisis then gripping the Congress camp presented a rare opportunity.


In the years between the 1946 and 1951 elections, Andhra Congress leaders were locked in a factional war, in which the fortunes of N. G. Ranga went first upward and then to rockbottom. The three-way tussle between Ranga, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, and T. Prakasam was complicated by the multi-lingual nature of Madras politics during that period. To score a point at any given moment, each Andhra faction could reach across not only caste but also regional lines, striking at its rival by aligning with Tamil-speaking factions in the Madras government.

Prakasam, having helped his own lieutenants win Congress seats in the Madras Assembly, could command powerful support in the first skirmish of this period. In the 1946 wrangle for ascendancy in the multi-lingual Madras Legislature Congress party, Prakasam emerged with the prize of the Madras Chief Ministership. But his majority was perilous, for Tamil members of the Assembly had joined in electing him for factional reasons of their own. The ruling Tamil Congress bloc, predominantly non-Brahman, used Prakasam to head off Tamil Brahman Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in his bid for the Chief Ministership. Once succcssfnl, they hurried to hunt allies to replace Prakasam. Caste loyalties on both the Andhra, and the Tamil sides thus vanished at the linguistic border. The 20 Andhra supporters of Brahman Sitaramayya lined up with the non-Brahman Tamil bloc and half of the Malayalam-speaking members of the legislature to unseat Prakasam.

To save his political position in his home territory, Prakasam joined forces with Ranga. Together they took control of the Andhra Congress machinery from Sitaramayya. Ranga won the Andhra Congress presidency, defeating N. Sanjiva Reddi, nominee of the Sitaramayya group.

In the bitter ensuing warfare, both sides aired charges of corruption which the Communist propaganda network carried into remote rural regions. As a result, the Congress leaders soon lost the prestige of their independence movement days. Prakasam followers charged Sitaramayya members of the new Madras regime with trafficking improperly in commercial permits and transport franchises, blackmarketing, and rampant nepotism. They also contended that the Communists enjoyed an unholy alliance with the active leader of Sitaramayya forces in the Madras government, Revenue Minister Kala Venkata Rao. Prakasam cited chapter and verse to allege that Rao, later a national general secretary of the Congress, helped arrange facilities for Red Flag meetings, looked the other way when Communists staged illegal squatter movements, solicited and received Communist help to defeat Prakasam candidates in local elections, and fed anti-Prakasam propaganda to Communist leaders.56

With the Kamma Ranga at the head of the Congress, the opposition to Prakasam and Ranga had strong caste overtones. Reddi forces were a part of the maneuvering that brought Ranga's downfall in April, 1951, when K. Sanjiva Reddi won the Andhra Congress presidency in a close 87-82 decision. Ranga and Prakasam, charging that the Reddi victory hung on "irregularities," walked out of the Congress. Fifty of their sympathizers on the Andhra Congress Committee followed them out of the party. Then came the final blow to Congress unity, a Ranga-Prakasam split. Prakasam announced that his candidates in the general elections would carry the symbol of the new Kisan Mazdoor Praja (Peasants Workers Peoples) party led by Acharya J. B. Kripalani. Ranga formed a Kamma front, the Krishikar Lok (Farmers') party. Therefore, in delta election constituencies where Kamma influence counted, the three-way Congress split meant that at least two Kammas, a Ranga candidate and a nominee of the official Congress, and in many cases other Kammas named bu Prakasam, the Socialist party, or independent local groups, all competed for the campaign support of their wealthy caste fellows.


It was into this inviting situation that the Andhra Communists strode from prison in the fall of 1951. Already on good terms with their Kamma brethren because of their sweet reasonableness during guerrilla days, they warned that the Reddi-dominated Congress was out to get them. Ridiculing Ranga's KLP as a splinter group, they argued that he could not possibly emerge with a majority. The Communists presented themselves as political comers who would soon be able to protect the caste from the citadels of government power.

They had the issues on their side. Not only could they promise five acres and a cow to their traditional supporters, the Adi-Andhra landless laborers; they could also put the Congress on the defensive in the Andhra State issue. Then too, they could inflate popular discontent with food shortages and blackmarketing that grew worse while ruling Congress politicians seemed too busy feuding to take action -- or, as the popular image had it, were knee deep in the trough of corruption.

The Kammas could well have been impressed with the apparently rising star of their caste fellows at the helm of the Communist party. Even the Kamma historian Choudary, outspokenly anti-Communist in his writings, recites with obvious pride a long list of Communist Kamma notables, adding that "many other young Communist legislators have turned out to be able debaters and formidable opponents."57 The Kammas must certainly have considered how desirable it would be to crystallize friendly relations with a revolutionary leadership that had already shown it could be reasonable about whose land was confiscated.

Whatever the understanding58 between the Communists and Kamma patriarchs, a significant section of the Kammas plainly put their funds, influence, and votes behind the Communist Kamma candidates (see Table IV). This factor appears to have tipped the scales in the delta. While the Kamma vote was divided, the share of Kamma support won by the Communists provided the margin of victory in 14 of the 25 delta general constituencies where Communist deputies were elected.59 Three of the six Communist members of the lower house of Parliament elected in 1951 from the delta are Kammas.

The victorious Communist in 1951 drew on the numbers of the landless laborers and protest votes of erstwhile Congress supporters, but powerful Kamma backers gave him in a substantial number of cases even more decisive support -- identification with village-level authority. In a society hardly out of feudalism, this is an intangible which should not be underestimated.


* Constituencies shown represent all those in which Kamma Communist candidates were elected in 1951. The outcome in the same constituencies is shown in 1955, though it should be borne in mind that new delimitation of constituencies prior to the 1955 elections makes the 1955 constituencies not exactly congruent with the originals under comparison. These constituencies do not necessary represent the sites of greatest Kamma Communist success in 1955. The site of one 1951 Communist victory - Chintalapudi (West Godavari) -- cannot be compared meaningfully with any 1955 constituency.
** Candidates designated in this manner are members of the Kamma subcaste.
*** Renamed Paruchur in 1955.
**** Renamed Denduluru in 1955.
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest decimal. Communist-supported Kamma candidates running on other party tickets or as independents in other constituencies are not included in this analysis in view of the author's inability to gain a precise picture of the division of support in the constituencies concerned. A Communist-supported Kamma won election on the KMP ticket in Narasaropet (Guntur) while a CP-supported candidate lost on the KLP ticket in Tenali (Guntur) and another lost as an independent in Nuzvid (Kirshna).

To a great extent the 1951 results in the delta can be explained simply by the multiplicity of candidates, which enabled the Communists to capitalize on a divided opposition. But it is necessary to examine the nature of this multiplicity. The telling strength of the Communists in this opportunity came from the fact that they were uniquely situated to exploit the divisions in the Kamma camp. Their leaders were Kammas on Kamma ground. Kamma influence is spread evenly enough over the delta so that even in those delta constituencies where non-Kamma Communist candidates were successful, the Kamma population must have played an important role. Furthermore, a glance at the votes polled by the winning Communist Kammas places the factor of multiplicity of candidates in proper perspective. The average Communist Kamma winner polled 44.6 per cent of the votes. In only two constituencies, Eluru and Chintalapudi, did the combined vote of non-Communist Kamma candidates exceed that of the Communist Kamma victor. Even in defeat, Communist Kamma candidates in 1951 polled 33.1 per rent of the votes (see Table V), with their margin of defeat a matter of from one to four percentage points in every instance where the successful candidate was also a Kamma. In sharp contrast, other defeated Communist candidates in the delta polled only an average 22 per cent. Thus the multiplicity of candidates alone cannot explain the large number of Communist victories. The fact that the Communists could compete strongly for the support of the caste group most strategically placed in delta politics was the key to the Communist sweep.


Constituency / Congress % / CP % / KLP % / Others %

Krishna Kaikalur / 37* / 36* / -- / 27
Guntur Guntur / 24* / 23* / -- / 53
Duggirala / 42 / 38* / 13* / 7
Prathipadu / 26 / 25 / 22* / 27
East Godavari Pamarru / 49* / 46* / -- / 5*
West Godavari Tanuku / 29* / 25* / -- / 46*
* Candidates designated in this manner are members of the Kamma subcaste.
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest decimal. Communist-supported Kamma candidates running on other party tickets or as independents in other constituencies are not included in this analysis.

Outside the delta, too, in constituencies where the Kammas were a potent minority but not dominant, the Communists chose to rely on Kamma support. For example, in the Chittoor parliamentary contest, the Communists unsuccessfully supported a Kamma independent against a Reddi Congress candidate. In Nellore, a coastal district adjacent to the delta where the Kammas have only half the numerical strength of the Reddis,60 the Communists lost out to Congress Reddis in three constituencies where they nominated Kammas.61 Where they won in Nellore it was with Reddi candidates in two solidly Reddi constituencies,62 and with a Brahman in another.63 The two Reddis elected on the Communist ticket in Nellore may owe much of their strength to the prestige of the sole major Communist Reddi leader, Sundarayya, in his home district. Where scattered Reddis were elected in other districts,64 the result appears to have hinged on local and personal factors. The only other Communists elected outside the delta were four Brahmans and one Velama, a petty landlord subcaste.

It was in Nellore that Kamma-Reddi bitterness in 1951 reached its high point in the defeat of the prominent Andhra Congress leader B, Gopala Reddi, Finance Minister in the Madras government, by a KMP Kamma candidate in Udayagiri constituency. Reddi, who once remarked lightly in the Madras Assembly that his was "a Reddi government for Reddis,"65 told reporters that Kammas had "wreaked vengeance" on him.66 His supporters explained that a would-be Kamma candidate in Chingleput had been refused a Congress nomination by Congress leaders there. The Kammas in Udayagiri blamed it on backstage maneuvering by Reddi. This was one of the rare episodes in which Kamma- Reddi enmity had ever burst into the open.
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After the 1951 elections and the formation of the Andhra State in 1953, open Kamma-Reddi warfare increased with the two rivals now pitted directly against each other. No longer was there the intervening presence of non-Andhra elements in a multi-lingual legislature. Even Jawaharlal Nehru could not bring N. G. Ranga under the wing of Sanjiva Reddi's party leadership.67 The controversy over the choice of the new state's capital once again polarized Andhra politics on what was now widely conceded to be a regional-caste basis, the Reddi-dominated Congress winning the selection of Kurnool in Rayalaseema over the bitter protests of the Communists and Ranga's KLP as champions of the delta.68

Puchalapalli Sundarayya charged that the Congress:

... wanted to rouse regional feelings; it wanted to rouse communal feelings, and that is why it selected Kurnool as the capital.... The Congress raises the slogan of Reddi vs. Kamma. It says: If you want to change from Kurnool to any centralized place, then Kamma domination will come and Reddi domination will go. These are facts that cannot be controverted by anybody who knows anything about Andhra.69

A newspaper correspondent reported during this episode that:

In recent years the rivalry between the Reddys of Rayalaseema and rich Kammas of delta districts has grown to alarming proportions. Congressmen have tended to group themselves on communal lines, and the Sanjiva Reddy-Ranga tussle for leadership which finally resulted in Ranga's exit from the Congress is a major instance in this regard. And rightly or wrongly the choice of Kurnool is looked upon by the Kammas as another major triumph for the Reddys.70

Ostensibly, the Congress stand for Kurnool in the capital dispute honored a 1937 commitment by Congress leaders from the delta that the underdog Rayalaseema area could have first claim in the location of the capital or High Court of the future Andhra State, with the delta getting the one left over. But in the 1953 wrangle there was more at stake. Both the Communists and the KLP were voicing not only the local pride of the delta communities seeking the capital, but real estate and mercantile interests as well.71

By the time the first Andhra Congress ministry had collapsed in November, 1954, a scant year after its installation, Congress leaders in New Delhi had come to realize that firm intervention from outside would be necessary to forge a united front for the new elections in February, 1955. From Jawaharlal Nehru down, there was a determination that the history of the 1951 Kamma defection should not repeat itself. For N. G. Ranga this was an important political moment in which his whole future as a Kamma spokesman lay at stake. Nehru summoned the forces of Ranga, T. Prakasam, Sanjiva Reddi, and assorted other anti-Communist Andhra leaders to map a united election campaign. Working closely with such Kamma Congress powers as Kotta Raghuramaiah, India's delegate to the U.N. Trusteeship Council, Ranga emerged from the negotiations with control over nominations in 38 constituencies as part of a Congress United Front, enough to assure a single Kamma entry by Congress forces in all Kamma strongholds. The regular Congress organization received 136 constituencies and the People's party, a Prakasam rump group comprising Andhra remnants of the defunct KMP, won control of nominations in 20 constituencies.

Although Sanjiva Reddi, leader of what by then was popularly called "The Rayalaseema Junta," sulked in protest against the very principle of alliance with Ranga,72 the pressure for a joint front against the Communists was too much for him. The Congress high command assigned Bombay Congress strong man S. K. Patil to enforce factional unity. With the Congress camp united, independents shunned battle. There were 78 straight contests between the Congress and the Communists, 65 more with only three contestants, and in only the remaining 53 was there the dispersion of 1951. The Communists, confidently dashing into the fray, had announced their candidate lists in the first week of December to place themselves squarely on the offensive. But this cut two ways: the Congress had time to match caste with caste in selecting candidates. The upshot was that in their delta stronghold the Communists won only 11 seats, two of these in reserved constituencies, as opposed to their 31 delta seats in 1951. A solitary Kamma was elected on the Communist ticket.73

Ironically, in 1955 their caste may in certain cases have been a liability to Kamma Communists. The defection of C.V.K. Rao, a Communist leader of the Devadasi caste, was openly trumpeted in anti-Kamma terms by Rao's election-rump "Communist Unity Centre." Handbills ridiculing Communist leaders as "Red landlords" sufficiently nettled them to elicit a special campaign appearance by Rajeshwar Rao. Announcing that he and his brother had donated the equivalent of $40,000 over the years to Communist coffers, Rajeshwar Rao added: "I do not say that all our property is exhausted; there is still something left. We shall spend it, along with our lives, in the service of the people."74

The Communists made every bit as intensive an effort in 1955 as in 1951 to capitalize on the Kamma "social base"76 in the delta, running Kamma candidates in 29 delta constituencies. Underscoring the Kamma orientation of Communist tactics is the fact that in nine of these 29 constituencies, the Communist candidate was the only Kamma in the field.

With anti-Communist Kamma forces consolidated in the Congress, however, the Communists could not make their Kamma support a decisive factor in 1955. Confronted with a single Kamma opponent (see Table IV), the Communist Kamma candidate was in a defensive position. N.G. Ranga had recaptured the initiative in the contest for Kamma support by showing he could drive a hard bargain for the caste within Congress councils. The 28 Kamma Communist losers still won substantial support in their caste strongholds -- an average 38.7 per cent of the votes. But this was a drop from an average 44.6 per cent polled by the 14 Kamma Communist winners in 1951.

Despite this six per cent decline in their Kamma strength, the Communists increased their popular vote in most of the delta just as in the rest of Andhra.76 This is explained by the even distribution of their 1955 vote over a wide range of constituencies, in contrast to spotty 1951 voting concentrations in constituencies where they then enjoyed strong Kamma support. Unlike 1951, when the Communist Kammas fared better than other Communist candidates, the Communist Kammas in 1955 were on a par with the 34 other defeated Communist candidates in the delta. Defeated non-Kamma Communist candidates in the delta in 1955 averaged 38.3 per cent, while in 1951 non-Kamma Communist losers had polled only 22 per cent, and even defeated Kammas had polled only 33.1 per cent.

The Communist share of Kamma support went a long distance with the Congress Kamma camp divided in 1951, but the Ranga-Congress alliance made Communist inroads on Kamma backing less significant in 1955. Nor did the issues fall on the Communist side in 1955 as they had in 1951. The Kammas responded to the general strength of the Congress cause, coupled with a successful appeal to the caste's economic stake in keeping the Communist party out of power. The Congress election platform stressed agricultural price support. The Communist press bitterly complained that propertied interests had ganged up against them. In a reference to Divi, the home constituency of the Kamma Rajeshwar Rao, the Communist weekly New Age declared that "all quarrels of caste or community have been forgotten. They [the landlords] have united to face the common people. They are all in the Congress now".77

While Congress leaders such as S. K Patil deluged all Andhra with effective anti-Communist propaganda, the body blow to the delta Communists came from the fact that the veteran anti-Communist ideologian, N.G, Ranga, now had the prestige to make an effective appeal in the Kamma constituencies, the central arena of the contest. G. S. Bhargava reported from Andhra that credit for delivering the telling punch in the delta "must go to the KLP leader, Mr. N.G. Ranga, who for the first time carried the fight against communism into villages hitherto regarded as impregnable Communist fortresses."78 A. Kaleswara Rao, a Grand Old Man of the Andhra Congress, wrote the author at the time polling was about to take place: "The Congress United Front formed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, roping in Sri Ranga ... is very successful in the Communist-infested districts, e.g. in central Andhra. The Kamma community, which is predominant in this area, have joined the Congress United Front with patriotism."79

The reference to patriotism is important, for undoubtedly the fact that a procession of respected national Congress leaders came to Andhra to denounce the Communists in unequivocal terms of nationalism played an important election role, not only in rousing Kamma support, but throughout Andhra. Jawaharlal Nehru attacked the Communists as "professional maligners of the Indian people."80 Congress president U. N. Dhebar warned Andhra voters that "if one Communist state in India is established, our international strength will be lost."81 S. K. Patil's posters and pamphlets blasted the Communists as outright traitors, painting gruesome pictures of horror in China and the Soviet Union.82 The fall of Malenkov on February 8, just as polling was getting underway, was a convenient reminder of past purges. Moreover, the Congress had dulled the ideological edge of the Communist appeal at its national session at Avadi in January by announcing a "socialistic pattern of society" as its goal. What hurt even more, the Communists were denied the support of Russian policy and its propaganda machine. Pravda published an historic editorial on the eve of India's Republic Day, January 26, marking the end of seven years of attacks on the Nehru government and confounding the Communists' election strategy. How could the Communists parade the banner of an international big brother who praised "the outstanding statesman, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru,"83 at the same time they were waging an election campaign against his party?


By successfully making Indian nationalism a live issue in a state election, the Congress, still for all its sins a symbol of independence, was calling forth its trump card. The resultant election-time atmosphere was a complete reversal of 1951, when the Communists had been able to wrap themselves in the banner of the Andhra provincial autonomy movement and make Telugu patriotism a live ballot issue.

But Andhra's formation as the first frankly linguistic state in India, while relaxing the tension between the Telugus and the central government, only heightened the political struggle among Telugu castes. The newly intimate confrontation of Kammas and Reddis in Andhra typifies one of the less obvious consequences of linguistic provinces in India. By and large, the endogamous group or subcaste in India is bounded on a linguistic basis.84 Thus, the power relationship of castes to each other in a multi-lingual political unit with its many caste groups differs radically from the reality of their relationship in the smaller linguistic unit. The Kammas and Reddis were part of the welter of castes in the old Madras State, but in Andhra they face each other as titans.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Nehru's former Law Minister, sees this through the eyes of an outcaste when he warns that the formation of linguistic provinces "means the handing over of Swaraj to a communal majority."85 Switzerland, Ambedkar said in a Parliament debate, "has no difficulties as a multi-lingual state because linguism there is not loaded with communalism. But in our country linguism is only another name for communalism ."86 "Take Andhra," he wrote, "there are two major communities spread over the linguistic area. They are either the Reddis or the Kammas. They hold all the land, all the offices, all the business. The untouchables live in subordinate dependence on them. Take Maharashtra; the Marathas are a huge majority in every village in Maharashtra ... In a linguistic stale what would remain for the smaller communities to look to?"87

The broad implications of the conjunction between caste and language region and, more specifically, of the change in the vantage of castes which is likely to result from the formation of new linguistic provinces, deserve searching study. In the case of Andhra, it is already clear that political stability will depend to a great extent on the ability of Reddi and Kamma leaders to work together in a united government.

Developments since the 1955 elections suggest strongly that the future Kamma-Reddi relationship remains to be decided. At first, N. G. Ranga announced that the KLP, which had kept its party identity intact as a member of the election front, would return unconditionally to the Congress.88 It was generally understood that Ranga had been promised the presidency of the Andhra Congress, with B. Gopala Reddi to be named Chief Minister. Reddi did become Chief Minister, but in the election of the party president, the forces of Deputy Chief Minister N. Sanjiva Reddi successfully fought N. G. Ranga with a Kshatriya candidate, Alluri Satyanarayana Raju. Ranga's defeat was a setback not only to Kamma-Reddi amity but also to the personal prestige of Gopala Reddi, and a signal for Sanjiva Reddi to assail him as a Kamma stooge.

A breakdown of Congress legislators elected in 1955 shows 85 out of the 146 deputies divided between the three major peasant proprietor subcastes, with Reddis the largest group (45), Kammas next (24), and the Telagas a newly-active political force (16) to be reckoned with. The Gopala Reddi cabinet reflected the Kamma and Reddi strength in the party's legialative ranks with two Reddi ministers (Gopala Reddi and Sanjiva Reddi), two Kammas (K. Chandramouli and G. Latchanna),89 and two Brahmans (Kala Venkata Rao and Nageswara Rao). The Telagas, not yet able to make their weight felt, received no representation in the ministry; here may be the makings of a new "out" group. Further, subcaste divisions within both Kamma and Reddi ranks could harden into a still more complex array of political battle lines.

The Indian Government's announced intention to merge Andhra and Telengana in a "United Andhra" poses the prospect of a basic realignment in the power balance between Telugu castes. If this merger takes effect, the delta Kammas in the new larger unit would confront not only the Reddis of Rayalaseema, but also the politically distinct Telengana Reddis -- whose rivals on their home ground have been the Telengana Brahmans. Already the Reddi-Brahman rivals in Telengana and the Kamma-Reddi antagonists in Andhra can be seen each jockeying to establish ties across the border. To complicate matters still more, the Telengana Communist leadership lacks caste homogeneity. Ravi Narayan Reddi and a Brahmin, D. V. Rao, lead rival factions. How will these rivals adjust to their new common relationship to the delta Communist leaders?

Whether or not the solidarity of their leadership suffers in a United Andhra, certainly the Communists, in their efforts to make a comeback, will exploit caste disaffection wherever they can. In 1955 their campaign manifesto showed a new interest in such politically strategic Andhra artisan castes as the Kammari (blacksmith), Kummari (potter), Vadrangi (carpenter), Rajaka (washermen), Mangali (barber), and Ganda (toddy tappers).90 As an opposition playing its main role outside the legislature, the party will be in a free-wheeling tactical position, able to step in wherever there is an opening in the Congress flank.91

The failure of the Andhra Communists to win strong legislative representation in 1955 is by no means a final political verdict. In doubling their popular vote, not only did their strength remain concentrated in their demonstrated stronghold, but also in two of the delta district, West Godavari and Guntur, they increased their poll by as much as 16 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.92 Furthermore, as The Hindu has pointed out,93 "in a large number of constituencies they missed success by very small majorities."94 These facts spell a clear warning against "underrating the threat to peace and progress that the Andhra Communist Party is still potentially capable of offering."



* The field research for this study was conducted during the author's three years in India as Associated Press correspondent, 1951-54. Research was completed as a consultant to the Modern India Project, University of California (Berkeley). Statistical data were compiled with the assistance of the Littauer Statistical Laboratory, Harvard University, where the author was Nieman Fellow in 1954-55.

1 A forthcoming full-length study by the author to be published by the Modern India Project, University of California (Berkeley), seeks to analyze the challenge presented by regional particularisms throughout India to the development of Indian nationalism.

2 All-India Rural Credit Survey, Vol. 2: General Report (Bombay, 1954), p. 54

3 Bhargava, G. S. discusses this in A Study of the Communist Movement in Andhra (Delhi, Siddhartha Publications, 1955), pp. 2, 14, 22–34 Google Scholar; see also Choudary, K. B., A Brief History of the Kammas (Sangamjagarlamudi, Andhra: published by the author, 1955), pp. 98, 123

4 Choudary, A Brief History of Kammas, p. 124 Google Scholar, notes that “the Second World War and the years that have followed have once again seen rocketing of the prices of paddy, pulses, turmeric, tobacco, and fruits. These have been very prosperous years for agricultural communities like Kammas.”

5 This is the private consensus of members of different Andhra castes. No official figures exist showing caste land ownership in Madras.

6 Katragadda Rajagopal Rao's role is noted in “The Future of Andhra,” Thought (New Delhi), Oct. 3, 1953, p. 4

7 The holdings of the six Katragadda brothers are described in Joshi, P. C., Among Kisan Patriots (Bombay, People's Publishing House, 1946), p. 4 This pamphlet reviews the Vijayawada, Andhra, session of The All-India Kisan Sabha.

8 Kamma status in the delta is so described in “How Red is Andhra?,” The People (pro-Congress weekly, New Delhi), March 4, 1952, p. 8

9 For an excellent description of the manner in which a dominant caste can mold village behavior, see All-India Rural Credit Survey, pp. 56–58.

10 In an interview with an editor of the New Age, Feb. 13, 1955, p. 7

11 These three have remained members of the secretariat of the Andhra Communist Committee in all reshuffles announced in the Communist press. The most recently declared (1954) membership of the Secretariat also included in its eight names four other Kammas: M. Hanumantha Rao, a member of the Indian Communist Central Committee; G. Satyanarayana; K. Gopal Rao, a member of the lower house of the Indian Parliament; and Krishna Rao.

This caste breakdown and the tables in this study showing castes of Congress and Communist candidates and legislators have been compiled through the cooperation of members of major Telugu castes. The compilation has included a cross-check test of the designations made by each cooperating informant by other persons of different castes.

12 Kulak pettamdar recurs throughout Rao, C.V.K., Rashtra Communist. Navakalhwapu Bandaram [Bluff of the Andhra Communist Leadership] (Masulipatnam, Andhra, 1954) Rao is a member of the Devadasi caste. Partially translated from Telugu for the author.

13 Reddi power in the Congress figures in Rao, D. V. Raja, “Election Lessons,” Swatantra, Feb. 15, 1952, p. 13 Google Scholar; Choudary, A Brief History of the Kammas (cited in note 3), p. 97 Google Scholar; and an earlier article by the author, “How Nehru Did It in Andhra,” New Republic, March 21, 1955, p. 7

14 See Choudary, A Brief History of the Kammas (cited in note 3), p. 55 Google Scholar, and his earlier three-volume history, Kammacharitra Sangraham (Sangamjagarlamudi, Andhra: published by the author, 1939), Vol. 1, p. 20 Partially translated from Telugu for the author.

15 Bhargava, A Study of the Communist Movement in Andhra (cited in note 3), p. 14 Google Scholar, traces the present degree of Kamma-Reddi enmity to the turn of the century.

16 Sat-(Good) Sudra status is accorded to Kammas, Reddis, Velamas, and other Telugu peasant proprietor subcastes to distinguish them from less prosperous Sudra subcastes, according to Francis, W., Census of India, 1901, Vol. 15: Madras, Part I (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1903), p. 136

17 See Thurston, Edgar, Castes and Tribes of Southern India, 14 vols. (Madras: Government Press, 1909), Vol. 3, p. 94 Google Scholar; MacKenzie, G., Manual of Kistna District (Madras, 1883), p. 53 Google Scholar; Census of India, 1901, Vol. 15, p. 159 Google Scholar; Hutton, J. H., Caste in India (London: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 11

18 The last in which district caste tables for Madras are available.  

19 Census of India, 1921, Vol. 13: Madras, Part IT, by Boag, G. T. (Madras: Superintendent of Government Press, 1922), Table XIII, p. 119

20 Reddis are also referred to by anthropologists as Kapus. However, this terminology is confusing in contemporary Andhra; Kapu is loosely applied to other non-Brahman peasant castes.

21 Census of India, 1921, Vol. 13, Table IX, p. 77

22 Choudary, A Brief History of the Kammas (cited in note 3), p. 122

23 A coalition of aggrieved non-Brahman castes throughout South India.

24 Choudary, A Brief History of the Kammas (cited in note 3), pp. 97–98

25 A brilliant orator in Telugu, Sundarayya is the party's most popular mass leader in Andhra.

26 “Delimitation of Madras Constituencies,” Government of India (Provincial Legislative Assemblies) Order, 1936, cited in Narain, Jagat, Law of Elections in India and Burma (Calcutta: Eastern Law House, 1937), pp. 250–58

27 Return Showing the Results of Elections to the Central Legislative Assembly and Provincial Legislatures, 1945–46 (New Delhi: Government of India, 1946)

28 The legislature was increased from 160 to 196 members before the 1955 elections in a new delimitation of constituencies.

29 For example, The Hindu, March 10, 1955, p. 4 This issue also contains detailed election statistics.

30 Shea, Thomas, “Agrarian Unrest and Reform in South India,” Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 23, pp. 81–88, at pp. 84–85 (June, 1954). See also District Census (1951) Handbooks (Madras: Government Press, 1953)Google Scholar, Tables D-III: Krishna, p. 183; West Godavari, p. 168: East Godavari, p. 292; Guntur, p. 206.

31 For the history of the Andhra Communist party, see Sundarayya, P., Vishalandralu Prajarajvan [People's Rule in Vishalandhra] (Vijayawada: Vishalandhra Publishing House, 1946)Google Scholar, Ch. 6. Translated from Telugu for the author.

32 “The Struggle for People's Democracy and Socialism, Some Questions of Strategy and Tactics,” The Communist, Vol. 2, pp. 21–90, at p. 35 (June–July, 1949) This was formerly the monthly organ of the Communist party of India.

For additional references to Communist organization of agricultural labor in Andhra, see Rao, N. Prasada, “Agricultural Laborers Association,” News Bulletin of the All-India Kisan Sabha, Oct.–Nov., 1952, p. 22 Google Scholar, which terms agricultural labor “the rock-like base of the [Communist] movement in Andhra”; and “Second Andhra Agricultural Labor Conference,” Aug., 1953, p. 6 Google Scholar, setting organized strength in the region then at 94,890.

33 Imperial Gazeteer of India, Provincial Series, Madras I (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1908), p. 309 See canal locations in frontispiece maps in District Census (1951) Handbooks; note also Cushing, S. W., “The Geography of Godavari,” Bulletin of Geographic Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 9, pp. 2–3 (Oct., 1911)Google Scholar, reprinted.

34 The Hindu, March 3, 1952, p. 1

35 Ghosh, Ajoy, “The Andhra Elections and the Communist Party,” New Age, March 4, 1955, p. 1 New Age is the weekly organ of the Communist party in India.

36 For example, see “Andhra Victory,” editorial in Times of India, March 10, 1955, p. 4

37 Public General Acts and Measures, Vol. 1. Sixth Schedule, Part II: Madras (London, 1935–1936), pp. 256–57 H.M.S.O.

38 For example, Ranga, N. G., Outlines of National Revolutionary Path (Bombay, Hind Kitabs, 1945), pp. 109–10

39 The Communist role during the war is summarized in The Communist Party of India, Publication No. 2681, Research and Analysis Branch, Office of Strategic Services, August, 1945, p. 21 Google Scholar; note also P. Sundarayya, op. cit., Ch. 6, where it is estimated that Andhra Communist membership rose from 1,000 in 1942 to 8,000 in 1945.

40 Narayan, Jayaprakash, Towards Struggle (Bombay, Padma Publications, 1946), pp. 171, 174

41 P. Venkateswarulu in West Godavari-cum Kistna-cum Guntur (Non-union) Factory Labor constituency.

42 Ellore, 19.3; Bhimavaram, 19.4; Narsapur, 21.4; Bandar, 28.4; Bezwada, 31.9, Guntur, 26.9; Narasaropet, 17; Tenali, 16.6; Ongole, 14.4; Rajahmundry, 11.5; and Amalapuram, 18.4.

43 The designation of Munagala as headquarters during this period is part of a colorful description of the Telengana movement as seen by delta Congress leaders in Charges against the Madras Ministry (by Certain M LAs), published by Rao, A. Kaleswara, (Madras, Renaissance Printers Ltd., 1948), p. 28

44 An example of this characterization is in The Communist, Vol. 2, p. 71 (June–July, 1949)

45 Ibid., p. 34.

46 The 1948 report appears in part in Self-Critical Report of the Andhra Communist Committee, January 1948–February 1952, Part Two, March 1949–March 1950, a party document not intended for publication.

47 The Communist, June–July, 1949, p. 72

48 Ibid., p. 60.

49 Kautsky, John H., Moscow and the Communist Party of India (Cambridge, Mass., Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1954), pp. 124, 128

50 Editorial in For a Lasting Peace, for a People's Democracy, Jan. 27, 1950.

51 “Statement of Editorial Board on Anti-Leninist Criticism of Comrade Mao-Tsetung,” The Communist, Vol. 3, pp. 6–35, at pp. 6–7 (July–Aug., 1950)

52 Masani, M. R., The Communist Party of India (New York, 1954), p. 110

53 “For Settlement in Telengana,” editorial in the then national weekly of the Communist Party of India, Crossroads, Aug. 3, 1951, p. 1

54 “Reds' Threat,” Congress Sandesh, Nov. 19, 1951, p. 4

55 The decision to release the Communist detenus is generally attributed to Prime Minister Nehru. A high Indian official with responsibilities in this matter told the author at the time that Nehru felt the Communists would prosper more if permitted to increase their martyrdom behind bars than if out in the open where, given enough rope, they might eventually be their own undoing.

56 Charges against the Madras Ministry (cited in note 43), pp. 6–7, 30–31.

57 Choudary, A Brief History of the Kammas (cited in note 3), p. 98

58 C. V. K. Rao, op. cit. (in note 12), says that Dharma Rao, a brother-in-law of Basava Punniah, has enrolled hundreds of Kammas as actual party members on the promise that the caste group would benefit when the CP came to power. As an example of specific allusions to Communist Kamma support, see also “CPI May Win More Seats in Madras,” The Statesman, Jan. 8, 1952, p. 1

59 The figure of 25 excludes six reserved constituencies in which Communists won in the delta.

60 Census of India, 1921, Vol. 13, Table XIII, p. 119 Google Scholar, showa 109,969 Kammas and 208,018 Reddis in Nellore.

61 Venkatagiri, Gudur, and Rapur.

62 Kanigiri and Darsi.

63 Kovur.

64 Nandikotkur in Kurnool; Kamalapuram and Rajampet in Cuddapah; and Anantapur in Anantapur District were the sites of other Communist Reddi successes.

65 Quoted by D. V. Raja Rao, op. cit. (in note 13), p. 13.  

66 “Congress Reverses in Madras,” Hindustan Standard, Jan. 14, 1952, p. 8

67 “Ranga Keeps Out,” Times of India, Oct. 2, 1953, p. 1

68 For example, see “Andhra Election Scene,” Times of India, Jan. 10, 1955, p. 6

69 “We Demand Free and Fair Elections,” Parliament speech by Sundarayya, P., cited in For Victory in Andhra, CPI publication (Delhi, 1955), p. 13

70 Times of India (Bombay), June 16, 1953, p. 7

71 In “The Future of Andhra,” Thought, Oct. 3, 1953 Google Scholar | PubMed, G. S. Bhargava reports that Kamma property owners in Vijayawada had confidently based land investments on the expectation that the capital would be there, and suffered heavy losses.

72 “Rift in Andhra Congress,” Times of India, Jan. 1, 1955, p. 10

73 V. Visweswara Rao in Mylavaram constituency, Krishna District.

74 New Age, Dec. 26, 1954, p. 16

75 This phrase is attributed to the Communists in “Caste Factor,” Times of India, Feb. 1, 1955. p. 6

76 While the popular vote increased in Krishna, for the Communists their increase did not keep pace with the overall increase; the Communist percentage of the total in the district dropped from 48 per cent in 1951 to 44 in 1955.

77 New Age, Jan. 17, 1955, p. 3

78 Bhargava, G. S., “Verdict on Communism,” Ambala Tribune, March 15, 1955, p. 4

79 Analysis prepared for the author, dated Feb. 19, 1955, Vijayawada. Rao has served on the All-India Congress Committee for over 30 years. He was elected a member of the Andhra legislature from the Vijayawada constituency in the 1955 election.

80 Times of India, Jan. 16, 1955, p. 4

81 The Hindu, Feb. 8, 1955, p. 4

82 See “Nehru's Congress Filth,” New Age, Feb. 6, 1955

83 Cited in Times of India, Feb. 1, 1955, p. 3 The editorial also stated that the Indian Republic was “a peace-loving state upholding its national independence,” which has “set itself to the grim task of gradually eliminating colonialism.”

84 Karve, Irawati, in Kinship Organization in India, Deccan College Monograph Series (Poona, 1953)Google Scholar, discusses the conjunction of caste and language region at length (esp. pp. 1–24); Ghurye, G. S., Caste and Class in India (Bombay: Popular Book Depot, 1950), p. 23 Google Scholar, says that “in the beginning of the 19th century, the linguistic boundaries fixed the caste limits.” See also pp. 19 and 32; and Hutton, J. H., Caste in India (cited in note 17), p. 10

85 Ambedkar, B. R., “Linguistic States—Need for Checks and Balances,” Times of India, April 23, 1953, p. 4

86 “Ambedkar's Plea for Amendment of Constitution,” Hindustan Times, Sept. 3. 1953, p. 3

87 B. R. Ambedkar, “Linguistic States—Need for Checks and Balances” (cited in note 85).

88 “KLP to Join the Congress,” The Hindu, March 1, 1955, p. 4

89 Latchanna is a member of the Sree-Sainaa, a Srikakulam subcaste group kindred to the delta Kammas and organized politically by Ranga's KLP.

90 A Communist-backed toddy-tappers' agitation in the summer of 1954 is noted in Windmiller, Marshall, “The Andhra Election,” Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 24, pp. 27–28 (April, 1955)

91 The Congress government in Andhra appears to be assured its tenure until 1960 under Article 172 of the Indian Constitution, providing for five-year duration of state legislative assemblies. Under this provision Andhra need not elect a new legislature when the next general elections are held throughout India, probably in 1957. The formation of a united Andhra, incorporating Telugu districts now in Hyderabad state, could necessitate earlier elections.

92 West Godavari, 195,024 in 1951 to 265,193 in 1955; Guntur, 289,932 to 392,268.

93 “Andhra Verdict,” The Hindu, March 9, 1955, p. 4

94 While the Congress margin of victory averaged 13 per cent in Krishna and West Godavari district constituencies, 16 per cent in Guntur, and 21 per cent in East Godavari, these margins do not represent crushing defeat when it is kept in mind that these were straight fights pitting a three-party Congress coalition on one side against the Communists on the other.

Moreover, the per cent of voting in delta constituencies for Communist candidates shows an average decline in Krishna only, from an average 48 per cent of the constituency vote in 1951 to an average 43 in 1955. In Guntur, it increased from 40 to 41; in East Godavari, from 38 to 39; in West Godavari, from 32 to 41.

Outside the delta, where the Communists made virtually no effort in 1951, they emerged in 1955 with an average 22 per cent of the votes in 18 Vizagapatnam constituencies where they contested; 23 per cent in 12 constituencies, Srikakulam; 35 in 13, Anantapur; 26 in 8, Cuddapah; 30 in 11, Kurnool; 37 in 19, Nellore; and 34 in 11, Chittoor.
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Shripad Amrit Dange
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/16/20

Shripad Amrit Dange
Member of the Indian Parliament for Bombay City North
In office: 15 April 1952 – 4 April 1957
Preceded by: Constituency established
Succeeded by: V. K. Krishna Menon
Member of the Indian Parliament for Bombay City Central
In office: 5 Apr 1957 – 31 March 1962
Preceded by: Jayashri Naishadh Raiji
Succeeded by: Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi
Member of the Indian Parliament for Bombay Central South
In office: 4 March 1967 – 27 December 1970
Preceded by: Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi
Succeeded by: Abdul Kader Salebhoy
Personal details
Born: 10 October 1899, Karanjgaon, Bombay Presidency, British India (now Maharashtra, India)
Died: 22 May 1991 (aged 91), Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Spouse(s): Ushatai Dange

Shripad Amrit Dange (10 October 1899 – 22 May 1991) was a founding member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and a stalwart of Indian trade union movement. During the British Raj, Dange was arrested by the British authorities for communist and trade union activities and was jailed for an overall period of 13 years. After India's Independence, a series of events like Sino-Soviet split, Sino-Indian war, and the revelation that while in jail, Dange had written letters to the British Government, offering them cooperation, led to a split in the Communist Party of India, in 1964. The breakaway Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) emerged stronger both in terms of membership and their performance in the Indian Elections. Dange, who remained the Chairman of the CPI till 1978, was removed in that year because the majority of party workers were against Dange's political line of supporting Indian National Congress, and Indira Gandhi, the then Congress Prime Minister. He was expelled from the CPI in 1981. He joined the All India Communist Party (AICP), and later, United Communist Party of India. Towards the end, Dange got increasingly marginalised in the Indian Communist movement. He was also a well-known writer and was the founder of Socialist the first socialist weekly in India. Dange played an important role in the formation of Maharashtra state.

Early years

Shripad Amrutpant Dange was born in 1899, in the village of Karanjgaon in Niphad Taluka of Nashik District, Maharashtra. His father worked in Mumbai as a government officer and was a major landowner of the area and lived in one palace-like house in Karanjgaon. Dange was sent to study in Pune. He was expelled from college for organising a movement against compulsory teaching of the Bible. While in work, Dange was exposed to conditions of workers when he undertook voluntary work in the textile mill areas of Mumbai. Dange was drawn into active politics by the fervour of the nationalist movement against the British rule in India.[1] Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a veteran leader of the Indian National Congress from Maharashtra, the earliest proponent of [url]swaraj[/url] (complete independence) greatly inspired young Dange. Later, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920, Dange gave up his studies and joined the Independence movement.[1]

Swarāj (Hindi: स्वराज swa- "self", raj "rule") can mean generally self-governance or "self-rule", and was used synonymously with "home-rule" by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and later on by Mohandas Gandhi, but the word usually refers to Gandhi's concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance, not by a hierarchical government, but by self governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralisation. Since this is against the political and social systems followed by Britain, Gandhi's concept of Swaraj advocated India's discarding British political, economic, bureaucratic, legal, military, and educational institutions. S. Satyamurti, Chittaranjan Das and Motilal Nehru were among a contrasting group of Swarajists who laid the foundation for parliamentary democracy in India.

-- Swaraj, by Wikipedia

He became interested in Marxism, while following the Russian Revolution of 1917. He grew increasingly skeptical about Gandhism, especially about Gandhi's promotion of cottage industries as the sole solution for India's economic ills, while overlooking possibilities of an industrial economy.

Gandhi Vs. Lenin

In 1921, Dange published a pamphlet titled Gandhi vs. Lenin, a comparative study of approaches of both the leaders; but, Lenin coming out as better of the two. This work proved to be a turning point in Dange's life. Prominent Marxist leader M.N. Roy read the work and went on to meet its young author, when he came to Mumbai. Ranchoddas Bhavan Lotvala, a flour mill owner from Mumbai who 'concerned himself for radical causes', also read this treatise and was impressed by its contents. Lotvala sponsored Dange's study of Marxism for several years, and together they built up a library of Marxist Literature and published translations of classics.[2]

In 1922, with Lotvala's help, Dange launched the English weekly, Socialist, the first Indian Marxist journal.[citation needed] Later Mohit Sen, Dange's contemporary and a well-known communist intellectual, wrote that Dange's articles in the Socialist impressed Lenin himself.[3]

Influence of Bolshevik Revolution

The second decade of the 20th century proved to be formative years for young Dange. The period also witnessed worldwide economic crises. There were long strikes in the industrialized world, especially in Britain. In India, the working class movement gained steady momentum during this period. It was during one of the long textile mill strikes that Dange got himself acquainted with the conditions of laborers.

The period also coincided with influence of Bolshevist ideas, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, manifesting in political events in countries outside Russia. This process was quickened by the establishment of the Third International or the Communist International, or in popular parlance—its abbreviated form -- Comintern, an international communist organisation founded in Moscow in March 1919. As a resolution adopted in the Founding Congress of the Comintern its stated objective was to fight 'by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State'.[4]

Meeting with M.N. Roy

M.N. Roy, an ex-member of the Anushilan Samiti, perhaps the most important secret revolutionary organisation operating in East Bengal in the opening years of the 20th century, went to Moscow in by the end of April 1920.[5] The new Russian government under Lenin evinced interest in him and encouraged him to form an Indian Communist Party. Roy went on to found the émigré Communist Party of India on 17 October 1920[6] in Tashkent. On his return to India, M.N. Roy who had read Gandhi Vs. Lenin met Dange in 1922. Dange at that time was closely associating with Lotvala to spread Marxian ideas. It was during this period that Dange grew in prominence as a Marxist; a sure way those days to invite antagonism from the British Government.

Foundation of the Communist Party of India

The British Empire saw the founding of Comintern as a disruptive force that would cause internal disorder. It viewed the nascent leftism in India with great suspicion. During the 1920s, the Government foisted a series of 'conspiracy cases'[7] against persons whom they suspected to have communist leanings.

Dange in the eyes of the British authorities

During this period M.N. Roy, the spokesperson of the Comintern, was seen as the most dangerous of Indian communists. During that time all the letters written by Roy from Moscow to Dange were intercepted and delivered.[8]

The British government initially did not think Dange was dangerous.

In 1923, they came to the conclusion that they did not have enough to prove anti-government activity as "Dange is a pure doctrinaire and nothing here seen of him indicate any real power of organisation." The Government of India soon changed its mind and the file notes that 'The evidence collected clearly shows that Dange has been an important figure in the conspiracy as constant reference to his name would be unavoidable in any event in the prosecution to be instituted against other members of the conspiracy at [Allahabad].[8]

The conspiracy referred to here is the Kanpur Conspiracy Case that would catapult Dange to a leader with national prominence.

Kanpur Bolshevik conspiracy case

On 17 March 1924, M.N. Roy, S.A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed, Nalini Gupta, Shaukat Usmani, Singaravelu Chettiar, Ghulam Hussain and others were charged, in what was called the Cawnpore (now spelt Kanpur) Bolshevik Conspiracy case. The specific charge was that they as communists were seeking "to deprive the King Emperor of his sovereignty of British India, by complete separation of India from imperialistic Britain by a violent revolution."

The case attracted interest of the people towards Comintern plan to bring about violent revolution in India. Communist trials had taken place in India, in frontier towns like Peshawar where Russian trained muhajir communists were put on trial. "But no case had attracted public gaze like the Kanpur case. Pages of newspapers daily splashed sensational communist plans and people for the first time learned such a large scale about communism and its doctrines and the aims of the Communist International in India."[9]

Singaravelu Chettiar was released on account of illness. M.N. Roy was out of the country and therefore could not be arrested. Ghulam Hussain confessed that he had received money from the Russians in Kabul and was pardoned. Muzaffar Ahmed, Nalini Gupta, Shaukat Usmani and Dange were sentenced for various terms of imprisonment.[9] This case was responsible for actively introducing communism to the Indian masses.[9] Dange was released from prison in 1925.

Formation of the Communist Party of India

The industrial town of Kanpur, in December 1925, witnessed a conference of different communist groups, under the chairmanship of Singaravelu Chettiar. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed, Nalini Gupta, Shaukat Usmani were among the key organisers of the meeting. The meeting adopted a resolution for the formation of the Communist Party of India with its headquarters in Bombay.,[10] The British Government's extreme hostility towards communists, made them to decide not to openly function as a communist party; instead, they chose a more open and non-federated platform, under the name the Workers and Peasants Parties.

Initial years of labor movement in India

In 1920 the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was formed at Mumbai by N.M. Joshi and others. Joshi was a philanthropist who was sympathetic to the workers'cause. At that time AITUC did not have a cohesive ideology, but it was sympathetic to the Indian National Congress.[11] When Dange wrote about the founding session of AITUC at Mumbai, he brought out the organisation's Congress roots:

The AITUC was guided principally by the Congress leaders. The masses at this period were being led by Lokmanya Tilak and his group, in which Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab, Bepinchandra Pal from Bengal and others had a big place. Mahatma Gandhi had refused to sponsor the idea of founding the AITUC and so he did not attend.[12]

Communists were also largely excluded when, again in Mumbai, in 1923, jobbers and mill clerks came together and started Girni Kamgar Mahamandal (Great Association of Mill-Workers). They participated in the long textile strike in 1924.[13]

Girni Kamgar Union

The early trade union movement in India were not directly inspired by the communists. Dange played an important role in bringing the labor activists amongst Bombay textile workers under the communist umbrella. Girni Kamgar Mahamandal was split and the communists formed their own union, the Girni Kamgar Union during the general strike of 1928.

The linkages which were forged in this strike placed the communists firmly in control of the Girni Kamgar Mahamandal and enabled them to dominate trade union movement. They were now forced to confront problems forced by the structure of industrial relations. The initiative taken by the communist leadership in reflecting working class-militancy enabled them to establish their presence at the level of industry as a whole. To consolidate this position it was imperative that the Girni Kamgar Union as it is now called to penetrate the level of the individual mill...On 30 October 1928 the Girni Kamgar Union had a membership of 324; by the end of that they boasted 54000 members.[13]

Two long and bitter strikes in 1928 and 1929 involving the members of Girni Kamgar Union followed. Dange was the general secretary of the Girni Kamgar Union. For their role in the strikes he was arrested along with Muzaffar Ahmed and Shaukat Usmani.

Dange edited the Marathi journal, Kranti, the official organ of the Girni Kamgar Union from the time of its inception.

Comintern's involvement

Believing that the world capitalism was in crisis, during the 1920s the Comintern deployed its workers to various countries. Indian communists had forged a close relationship with Communist Party of Great Britain. In 1926 and 1927 members of the British Communist Party, notably Philip Spratt and Ben Bradley, came to India.[14] mandated by Comintern to work among the industrial laborers of Bombay and Calcutta(present spelling: Kolkatta). Workers' and Peasants' Parties were started in those cities and in the United Provinces.

The communists were addressing ground level problems and as a result "N.M. Joshi, in spite of money and no persecution from the government lost the leadership (of AITUC) to the communists.[15]" The communists took over the leadership of the AITUC in December 1929, when their rivals, led by N.M.Joshi, walked out of the session, and founded a rival organisation. Like rest of the world, it was a period of great unrest in India too.

In India throughout 1928 and 1929 there was a strong wave of strikes, on the railroads, in ironworks and in the textile industry. 31 million working days lost in 1928, through industrial disputes. Trade union numbers and organisation grew rapidly during this period."[16]

Muzaffar Ahmed, Usmani and Dange joined these later campaigns on their release from jail.

Meerut Conspiracy Case

Main article: Meerut Conspiracy Case

Portrait of 25 of the Meerut Prisoners taken outside the jail. Back row (left to right): K. N. Sehgal, S. S. Josh, H. L. Hutchinson, Shaukat Usmani, B. F. Bradley, A. Prasad, P. Spratt, G. Adhikari. Middle Row: R. R. Mitra, Gopen Chakravarti, Kishori Lal Ghosh, L. R. Kadam, D. R. Thengdi, Goura Shanker, S. Bannerjee, K. N. Joglekar, P. C. Joshi, Muzaffar Ahmed. Front Row: M. G. Desai, D. Goswami, R.S. Nimbkar, S.S. Mirajkar, S.A. Dange, S. V. Ghate, Gopal Basak.

The British Government was clearly worried about the growing influence of the Communist International. Its ultimate objective, so the government perceived, was to achieve "complete paralysis and overthrow of existing Governments in every country (including India) by means of a general strike and armed uprising.".[16] The government's immediate response was to foist yet another conspiracy case—the Meerut Conspiracy Case.

In more than one way the Meerut Conspiracy case trial helped the Communist Party of India to consolidate its position among workers. Dange along with 32 persons were arrested on or about 20 March 1929[16] and were put on trial under Section 121A of the Indian Penal Code, which declares,

Whoever within or without British India conspires to commit any of the offenses punishable by Section 121 or to deprive the King of the sovereignty of British India or any part thereof, or conspires to overawe, by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force, the Government of India or any local Government, shall be punished with transportation for life,[17] or any shorter term, or with imprisonment of either description which may extend to ten years.

The charges

The main charges were that in 1921 Dange, Shaukat Usmani and Muzaffar Ahmad entered into a conspiracy to establish a branch of Comintern in India and they were helped by various persons, including the accused Philip Spratt and Benjamin Francis Bradley, sent to India by the Communist International. The aim of the accused persons, according to the charges raised against them was

to deprive the King Emperor of the sovereignty of British India, and for such purpose to use the methods and carry out the programme and plan of campaign outlined and ordained by the Communist International.

The Sessions Court in Meerut awarded stringent sentences to the accused in January 1933. Out of the accused 27 persons were convicted with various durations of 'transportation'. While Muzaffar Ahmed was transported for life, Dange, Spratt, Ghate, Joglekar and Nimbkar were each awarded transportation for a period of 12 years. On appeal, in July 1933, the sentences of Ahmed, Dange and Usmani were reduced three years. Reductions were also made in the sentences of other convicts.[16]

Impact of Meerut Conspiracy Case

Though all the accused were not communists, the charges framed against them betrayed the British government's fear for growth of communist ideas in India. In the trial the accused were all labeled as Bolsheviks. During the trial of four and a half years, the defendants turned the courtroom into a public platform to espouse their cause. As a result, the trial saw strengthening of the communist movement in the country. Harkishan Singh Surjeet, a former General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) wrote about the aftermath of the Meerut Conspiracy case thus:

a Party with a centralized apparatus, came into being only after the release of the Meerut prisoners, in 1933. The Meerut Conspiracy Case, though launched to suppress the communist movement, provided the opportunity for Communists to propagate their ideas. It came out with its own manifesto and was affiliated to the Communist International in 1934.[18]

The CPI and the independence movement

During the period, prior to India's Independence, the Communist Party of India's responses to freedom struggle were dictated by the Comintern's views. After its admission to the Third International, the Communist Party of India was seen to be guided by the policies imposed by Joseph Stalin on the international communist movement. Stalin's policies were, in turn, dictated by Russia's geopolitical interests. As a result the positions taken by the CPI ran many times counter to popular nationalist sentiments, leading to erosion of the Party's popular base.

Up to 1934, the CPI viewed India's freedom struggle as a movement of the reactionary bourgeoisie politicians. The British government had banned communist activities from 1934 to 1938. When the Comintern adopted the Georgi Dimitrov thesis of popular front against fascism, CPI declared support for the Congress in 1938. The communist leaders like Dinkar Mehta, Sajjad Zaheer, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, and Soli Batliwala became members of the national executive of the Congress Socialist Party.

The Raj re-banned the CPI in 1939, for its initial anti-War stance. The line was changed when, following the Nazi-Soviet pact (1939-40). The Communist Party of India did not take an active stance against Adolf Hitler and his policies. But when Hitler attacked Poland, the Communist Party of India had called World War II, an 'Imperialist War'. But when he attacked the Soviet Union, the same Communist Party of India decided to call the war, a People's War[19].

After the USSR had sided with the Great Britain in the war, the Communist Party of India was legalised for the first time. Saying that the freedom struggle would impede the war against fascism, the CPI stayed away from the freedom struggle. The Indian National Congress was able to politically corner the communists, as the popular sentiments were overwhelmingly supporting Gandhi's Quit India Movement.

Dange in 'P.C. Joshi era'

After the sudden arrest of then Somnath Lahiri, Secretary of CPI, during end-1935, Puran Chand Joshi became the first general secretary of Communist Party of India, for a period from 1935 to 1947—or as it was called the 'P.C. Joshi era.'

In 1943 Dange for the first was elected to the Central Committee of the CPI.[20] In October 1944 he attended the XVII Congress of the Communist Party of Great Britain in London as a fraternal representative from the Communist Party of India. Between 1929 and 1935 Dange remained in jail for role in Meerut conspiracy case. After being released from jail in 1935, Dange went on a speaking tour in Andhra Pradesh on the invitation of the Congress Socialist Party leadership from there. His tour resulted in that many prominent Congress Socialist Party leaders from Andhra Pradesh joining the Communist Party.[21] After he came out of the jail, up to 1939, he was working for the Party and was trying increase its hold over the trade union movement.

Around this time Dange's legislative career also took off. He was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly as Communist candidate in 1946.

Dange's rise in trade union movement

In 1939 Dange was convicted to four months of rigorous imprisonment for organising a strike of textile workers. He was arrested on 11 March 1940 for leading a general strike of textile workers in Bombay and interned in the Deoli Detention Camp. At Deoli several other communist leaders were also jailed along with him. In prison he started a political study circle amongst the prisoners. He was released in 1943.[22]

Even before the takeover of the AITUC by the communists, in 1927, Dange was elected Assistant Secretary of AITUC.[23]" During the year 1943- 1944 Dange was elected for the first time as the chairman of the All India Trade Unions Congress.

In 1944-1945 he was a delegate to the World Trade Union Conference in London. In 1945-1947 he became the vice chairman of the All India Trade Union Congress. Also in October 1945 he became a member of the Executive Committee and chairman of the General Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions. In February 1947, Dange again became the chairman of All India Trade Union Congress and continued to be at the helm of that organisation either as general secretary or chairman.

CPI on the eve of independence

Around the time that the British decided to transfer power to the Indians, the CPI found itself in a not very happy situation. For once their disassociation with the Quit India movement made them unpopular with the people. Secondly huge support that the Congress garnered ran contrary the CPI's portrayal of it as a mere bourgeoisie party.

Internationally also CPI found itself lost. At the start of World War II, the Comintern supported a policy of non-intervention, arguing that the war was an imperialist war between various national ruling classes. But when the Soviet Union itself was invaded on 22 June 1941, the Comintern changed its position to one of active support for the Allies. Stalin disbanded Comintern in 1943. It is surmised that the dissolution came about as Stalin wished to calm his World War II Allies (particularly Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill) not to suspect that the Soviet Union was pursuing a policy of trying to foment revolution in other countries.[24]

The CPI was in a state of confusion and the Party clearly needed advice. In July 1947, P.C. Joshi, the then General Secretary, secured Dange's entry to USSR.

Dange in Moscow

On the day India got freedom, 15 August 1947 Dange was in Moscow talking to the Soviet leaders. Andrei Zhdanov and Mikhail Suslov, leading Soviet theorists of the period, participated in the 1947 talks with Dange.

The following free and frank exchange between Dange and Zhdanov on the day after the India's Independence day, that is, on 16 August 1947, brings out the chaotic situation in which the Communist Party of India found itself at that historical juncture:

Further com. Zhdanov asks com. Dange to explain why the Congress managed to strengthen its authority.

Comrade Dange opines that during the war the Congress, taking into account the anti-English sentiments of the wide masses, opposed the English and by this action acquired a semblance of a national organisation fighting for the national sovereignty.

The Communist Party during the war supported the allies, including the English and by this action weakened its influence as a lot of people could not correctly understand the position of the Party. A considerable part of the supporters of the Communist Party during the war shifted to the Congress.[25]

The Soviet leaders closely questioned Dange about the Congress. For years questions regarding what attitude should be taken toward the Congress would be debated inside the left parties in India. The following portion shows Dange's attitude towards the Congress and Muslim League, at that time.

Com. Zhdanov: What is Nehru – a capitalist or a landowner?

Com. Dange: A bourgeois.

Com. Zhdanov: And Jinnah?

Com. Dange: Also a bourgeois. He is an eminent advocate, has acquired a lot of money and has invested it in enterprises. Nehru also belongs to a family of eminent advocates and has invested his substantial savings in the Indian company of Tata.... .[25]

The 1950s: internal strifes within the CPI

Around the time of independence the CPI was sending confusing signals—from left to centrist to right. General Secretary Joshi was advocating unity with the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. By the end of 1947, P.C. Joshi found himself in the minority. His line was challenged by the radicals who claimed that "ye azaadi jhoota hai[26]". B.T. Ranadive, a prominent radical leader, was inspired by the great strides that the Chinese communists had made, and wanted a similar model for India.

The Communist Party of India’s second congress at Calcutta (new spelling Kolkata) on 28 February 1948, the Zhdanov line of insurrection was adopted on the premise that 'free' India was only a "semi-colony of British imperialism". Joshi, who stood collaboration with Congress was sidelined, and Ranadive became the General Secretary. Open call for taking up arms, known as 'Calcutta thesis' and was closely identified with its main proponent and the new General Secretary, Ranadive. As a result insurgencies took place in Tripura, Telangana and Travancore.

A rebellion in the Telangana region in the northern part of what was to become Andhra Pradesh, a peasant struggle against the feudal regime of the Nizam was already happening when Calcutta thesis was adopted. To use the Telangana rebellion to herald in the Indian revolution was one of the main pillars of Ranadive strategy. During the peak of Telangana rebellion, 3,000 villages and some 41,000 square kilometers of territory were involved in the revolt. The ruler of Hyderabad state, nizam had not yet acceded his territory to India, but the violence of the communist-led rebellion, the central government sent in the army in September 1948. By November 1949, Hyderabad had been forced to accede to the Indian union, and, by October 1951, the violent phase of the Telangana movement had been suppressed.

Dange had been a member of the CPI Central Committee since the founding of the Party. But during 1950-1951 he was not included in the Central Committee.

Stalin's intervention

At the start of the 1950s, the CPI was bitterly divided over the manner in which political power in India should be captured. The militants advocated the 'Chinese path', or capture of power through violent means and the other group that included Dange was for the 'Indian path'(a moderate strategy to capture power within the constraints of Indian Constitution.

The proponents of the `Chinese path' led by C. Rajeswara Rao and those of the `Indian path' led by Ajoy Ghosh had set up their own centers and the CPI was on the verge of a split.[27]

On 30 May 1950, the extremists with hundreds of their followers split from the Party and came out in the open.[28] When the war of attrition between both continued unabated, the Soviet Communists intervened. The warring leaders were invited to Russia for a discussion with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1951.

Events that followed were described Mohit Sen thus:

Four leaders, two from each center, were brought to Moscow. They travelled in cognito as manual workers in a Soviet ship from Calcutta. They were Ajoy Ghosh and S.A. Dange from the 'Indian Path', and C. Rajeswara Rao and M. Basava Punnaiah, from the Chinese path.

S.A. Dange and C. Rajeswara Rao have both told me about the meeting with the leaders of the CPSU. The first meeting was attended from the Soviet side by Comrades Suslov, Malenkov and Molotov. It was on the third day that it was announced that Comrade Stalin would attend. So he did for subsequent days....

Stalin's view also was that India was not an independent country but ruled indirectly by British colonialists. He also agreed that the Communists could eventually advance only by heading an armed revolution. But this would not be of the Chinese type. He strongly advised that the armed struggle being conducted in Telangana should be ended.[27]

In 1951, Dange was elected to both the Central Committee and the Politburo. In 1952 Dange lost elections to the Indian Parliament from Bombay.

Visit of Bulganin and Khrushchev to India

In mid-1955, Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Indian Prime Minister visited USSR and received a tremendous welcome. This was followed by the maiden visit to India of the Soviet leaders, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev in 1955. Jawaharlal Nehru, frankly put forward to the visiting Soviet leaders that the Communist Party of India was claiming to receive direction from the CPSU.

To this Khrushchev's response was a reiteration of the official Soviet Party line, that with the abolition of the Comintern, there was no organisation for leading the Communist Parties in other countries. Khrushchev and Bulganin's visit paved way for forging of a strong relationship between the Government of India (and later Congress Party) and the USSR, independent of CPI.

Further dissensions

The party was again on the verge of split at its fourth congress held at Palakkad in 1956. Against the ultra-left line of Ranadive, Dange and P.C. Joshi were for reviving the 'popular front' and working with the ruling Indian National Congress. These differences within the Communist Party of India, up to Palakkad congress was an internal matter of the Party; the international communist movement at that time was united. Ranadive who was earlier shunned for his extremism made a comeback to the Party leadership at the Palakkad congress.

Formation of Maharashtra

After India's independence in 1947, the princely states were integrated into the Indian Union, and the Deccan States including Kolhapur were integrated into Bombay State, which was created from the former Bombay Presidency in 1950. The Government of India had appointed the States Re-organisation Committee for setting up states on the basis of language. This committee recommended a bi-lingual state called Bombay for Maharashtra-Gujarat, with Bombay as its capital. The state came into being on 1 November 1956, but stirred up political unrest in both the states. In Maharashtra, under the leadership of Keshavrao Jedhe, an all-party meeting was held in Pune and a joint Maharashtra council (Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti) was founded. In the second general elections the Samiti defeated the stalwarts of Congress by securing 101 seats out of 133, including 12 from Mumbai.

Shripad Amrit Dange representing the CPI at the fifth congress of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Berlin. 12 July 1958.

Dange was elected to the 2nd Lok Sabha in 1957 from Bombay City (Central) Constituency of the State of Bombay.[29]

Dange along with S.M. Joshi, N.G. Gore and P.K. Atre fought relentlessly for Samyukta Maharashtra, a struggle that cost a lot of lives. Finally on 1 May 1960, pre-dominantly Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra was born.

Dange was later elected to the 4th Lok Sabha in 1967 from Bombay City (Central) Constituency of the Maharashtra State.[29]

Sino-Indian border dispute

Dange was the leader of the Communist group in the House of the People (Lok Sabha), when the Sino-Indian border dispute broke out—an event that would sharpen the differences within the CPI. The Calcutta Congress at the end of September 1959 brought into open the differences within the Party. As Manchester Guardian reported:

Half the party wants to express its support for the Congress stand that there will be no gift (to China) of the and that India stands broadly by the McMahon line. The other half wants to go back to guerrilla tactics and give up the parliamentary experiment. The nationalist parliamentary wing of the CP, led by Ajoy Ghosh, believes that the time for violence has not come and that Moscow counsels patience.... The other half of the ICP (sic), fed up with the parliamentary experiment, argues that Kerala proved that the ruling class will never allow a people's Government to capture power democratically. This is the first time that the ICP has been so s divided, and that the division has become so public.[30]
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International Socialists vs. Nationalists

Sino-Indian border dispute brought into open bitter internal war within the CPI between those who described themselves as international socialists and others who advocated that national sentiments should not be completely ignored. Mr. Dange, leader of the Party in Parliament, M.N. Govindan Nair, secretary of the Kerala unit, and Dr. Muzaffar Ahmed of Uttar Pradesh were the proponents of the nationalist cause.

The conflict came in the open when P.C. Joshi, who controlled the Party's weekly New Age, suppressed Mr. Dange's statement in Parliament that he sharply stood by the McMahon line, and also a resolution passed by Maharashtra State Committee supporting Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the border dispute. Joshi was earlier sidelined for his pro-Congress advocacy, but later rehabilitated by making him the editor of the Party journal.

Initial advantage with Dange

An important leader publicly to join the nationalist Dange faction was A.K. Gopalan, the deputy leader of the Communist group in Lok Sabha. He was quoted by a newspaper that he(Gopalan) was shocked by the 'Ladakh incident',[31] lamenting the loss of Indian lives, and stating that the country would support Nehru in his efforts to avoid any repetition of it.[32]

In the initial stages, Dange's nationalist line was the dominant one. To quote Manchester Guardian, "Hence not only the Party's extremists of the Joshi wing, but also the middle-of-the-road Moscow faction were at that time visibly losing ground. This favourable development was probably accelerated by the attitude of studied neutrality adopted in Moscow, where the Soviet press printed both the Chinese and Indian accounts of the Ladakh skirmish, without appearing to take sides.[33] His general nationalist communist position had the backing of the Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh units of the party.

Dange losing ground

But soon after opposition against Dange erupted in the Party when Dange came up with his own definition of communist internationalism, different from standard Marxian understanding of the term. In his view internationalism is valid only for 'domestic' issues such as Hungary and Tibet, which were the 'domestic' affairs of the USSR and China. But he regards relations between India and China as non-domestic, so that Indian communists may side with the Indian Government in this specific cases. Even the comrades who sided with Dange on the Sino-Indian border issue, were not ready to compromise on basic tenets of communism. Dange was severely criticised and he had own up his fault in the Party forum, through a process called 'self-criticism'.[34]

There was also a consolidation among the communist internationalists at this stage. The Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung identified B. T. Ranadive, a former general secretary(1948–50), as supporting P.C. Joshi in his pro-Chinese attitude. According to these two militants, Nehru ought to be condemned by the Party as a "reactionary", and the policy of Congress should be resolutely opposed. At this stage, the secretariat's eight members were divided as follows:

• Dange, Gopalan, Ahmad - nationalist communists
• Joshi, Ranadive - extremists, pro-China
• Bhupesh Gupta - former extremist, present views uncertain.
• Ajoy Ghosh and one other not identified by the newspaper(probably Basavapunnaiah ) - centralists, attempting to restore unity.[35]

Sino-Indian War

Main article: Sino-Indian War

In the meanwhile fighting began on the Himalayan border on 10 October 1962 between the Chinese People's Liberation Army and Army of India. The war ended when the Chinese unilaterally declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, which went into effect at midnight.

Sino-Soviet differences

Main article: Sino-Soviet split

Another issue that fueled the split in the Communist Party of India was parting of the ways between the USSR and China. Though the conflict had a long history, it came out in open in 1959, Khrushchev sought to appease the West during a period of the Cold War known as 'The Thaw', by holding a summit meeting with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. Two other reasons were USSR's unwillingness to support Chinese nuclear program and their neutrality in the initial days of Sino-Indian border conflict. These events greatly offended Mao Zedong and the other Chinese Communist leaders.

Left vs. Right

In 1962, Mao criticised Khrushchev for backing down in the Cuban missile crisis. By that time the Soviets were openly supporting India in its border dispute with China. These events were followed by formal statements of each side's ideological positions: the Chinese came out with their document in June 1963.[36] The Soviets too came out with their own document.[37] Thereafter the two parties stopped communicating.

Chairman Dange

These events had their direct fall-out in the Communist Party of India. Former nationalist vs. international socialist debate had now turned into a conflict between the Right (the Russian line) and the Left (the Chinese line). Dange, who was supporting the Nehru Government, was the main leader of the Right. After the death of Secretary-General Ajoy Ghosh in January 1962, a truce was established. Dange, who at that time was the head of the All-India Trade Union Congress, became the first chairman of the CPI and the centrist leader, Namboodiripad, became the Secretary-General.

Split in the CPI

At that time, the Government of India had arrested 400 prominent communist leaders of the Left wing for their alleged pro-China views. Dange, seized this opportunity, a move that would further erode his base, to reassert the right-wing control over the pro-left strongholds of West Bengal and the Punjab. In February 1963—with 48 of its 110 members absent, in detention or in hiding—the National Council voted to "administer the work of the West Bengal Party" through a Provincial Organising Committee acting on behalf of the Central Secretariat.

Through such partisan measures Dange alienated the centrist leader, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, who resigned from the post of Secretary- General, leaving Dange to take over the post. By earlier 1963 the Left had established an underground organisation for what amounted to a breakaway West Bengal Communist Party Unit. According to prominent leftist fortnightly Link, New Delhi, the new outfit enjoyed the support of 14,000 of the 17,000 Communist Party members in the state.[38] Similar moves were made in many other states by the left-wing. Release of their leaders from jails by the state governments also helped the leftists to consolidate their position among cadres.

In September 1963, A.K. Gopalan (formerly with Dange in 1959) was able to organise an impressive anti-official party rally in Calcutta. Dange still had a majority of two-to-one on the council, but the emerging alliance between the Leftists and Namboodiripad's smaller Centrist faction forced him to be cautious. However, at that stage, with secessionist organisations already at work in several states, no caution or concession could halt the drift towards a split; though attempts were still not given up for unity. Suddenly in March 1964, a trigger was provided by what was called the 'Dange letters', that exploded on the face of the Party, precipitating a split.

Dange letters

The Current, a Bombay magazine published these letters which were said to be written by Dange to the British Viceroy from prison in 1924, after his conviction in the Kanpur Conspiracy Case, and in which he had promised to cooperate with the British government.[39] Dange, who was the chairman of the Party got the Secretariat to denounce the letters as a forgery. But slide towards split became unstoppable. His opponents exploited this opening, and called for his removal from the leadership to facilitate investigation.

The birth of CPI(M)

The cascading events following the Dange Letters ultimately resulted in the split of the Party in October, 1964. The left challenge came into the open with a conference to prepare a party program, immediately after the Dange Letters. The showdown came on 11 April 1964 when 30 Leftists and two Centrist leaders. Namboodiripad and Jyoti Basu, walked out of a National Council meeting. and proceeded to appeal to all Indian Communists to repudiate the Dange leadership. National Council suspended the thirty-two leaders.

The left leaders who were ousted, in turn, announced a separated national convention. After the Tenali convention the CPI left-wing organised party district and state conferences. Also it was decided in the Tenali convention to hold a party congress of the left-wing in Calcutta. The Calcutta Congress was held during 31 October - 7 November 1964. Simultaneously, the official Party under Dange convened a Party Congress of the Communist Party of India in Bombay. The split was complete. The left group which assembled in Calcutta decided to adopt the name 'Communist Party of India (Marxist)'.This party also adopted its own political programme. P. Sundarayya was elected general secretary of CPI(M).

General Elections 1967

After the split, the first event that tested out the relative strengths of both groups was the Kerala Assembly Elections held in 1965. The Communist Party of India contested in 79 seats but only win 3 seats, polling about 5 lakh votes with 8.30% vote share. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) contested 73 seats, won 40, with about 13 lakh votes, 19.87% of the total.[40]

In 1967, General Elections to the Parliament, Dange won from the Bombay Central South Constituency. The results had again shown a weakening CPI. They contested in 109 seats, won only 23, with about 75 lakh votes ( that is 5.11% of total votes polled. The CPI(M) contested in 59, won 19, with 62 lakh votes(4.28%).[41]

In the state legislative elections held simultaneously, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) emerged as a major party in Kerala and West Bengal. In Kerala a United Front government led by E.M.S. Namboodiripad was formed. The Communist Party of India was a minor coalition partner. In West Bengal, Communist Party of India (Marxist) emerged as the main force, but the chief ministership of the coalition government was given to Ajoy Mukherjee of the Bangla Congress, a provincial break-away group of the Indian National Congress. For the Communist Party of India, The Kerala experiment of coexisting with Communist Party of India(Marxist) did not work for long.

Split in the trade union

Even after the party split, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party cadres remained unified in the All India Trade Union Congress. After the short-lived coexistence between both the Parties broke down in Kerala and also in West Bengal similar rupture happened, the trade union wing also split. In December 1969, eight Communist Party of India (Marxist) members walked out of an All India Trade Union Congress executive committee meeting. Later, the Marxist break-away members would organise an All India Trade Union Conference in Calcutta, on 28–31 May 1970. The Calcutta conference was the founding conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, new Communist Party of India (Marxist) trade union.[42]

Collaborating with Congress

The issue whether to support Congress or not bedevilled the undivided Communist Party right from the year of independence, 1947, when the then general secretary P.C. Joshi strongly spoke in favour of it. Joshi was marginalised for this, yet the question persisted and was one of the reasons for the CPI split. It was increasingly becoming clear that anti-Congress faction, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was stronger of the two groups.

In the late 1960s, however, the mood within the Communist Party of India turned strongly anti-Congress. In the Bombay party congress in 1968, the CPI took the decision of forging an anti-Congress front. This had resulted in collaborating with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for a short while. Soon differences between both Parties again came out in the open. From 1970 onwards Communist Party of India started once again working with the Congress. Dange was one of the principal architects of this union.

Bangladesh War

One of the events that facilitated cooperating with Congress was the Bangladesh Liberation War. In 1971 Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) declared its independence from Pakistan. The Pakistani military tried to quell the uprising; but Indian military intervention thwarted such moves. There was confusion within the ranks of the Indian communists—while the pro-Soviet CPI had no problem in supporting the war, and the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi, the CPI(M) found itself in quandary participated in the resistance struggle, the pro-China communist groups were in a quandary, because China had sided with Pakistan in the war.[citation needed]

CPI-led government in Kerala

During the period 1970-1977, CPI was a strong ally of the Congress party and nothing typified better than the alliance both the parties forged in Kerala. Both the parties formed a coalition government together in that state, with the CPI-leader C. Achutha Menon as the Chief Minister. In Kerala legislative elections held in 1970, the Communist Party of India won only 16 seats, out of a total of 133, whereas the coalition leader Indian National Congress had won 30 seats.[43] Still, Congress accepted Achuta Menon's leadership till the next election that would be held seven years later.

The CPI and the Emergency

Main article: Indian Emergency (1975–1977)

A state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in June 1975, by invoking Article 352 of the Constitution of India, and it lasted for 21 months. Emergency provisions suspended all the Constitutional rights and gave power to rule by decree. It enabled the Prime Minister to suspend elections and civil liberties.

Indira Gandhi took this extreme step due to a host of reasons. The venerated Gandhian leader Jaya Prakash Narayan's agitation in Bihar for change in provincial government, was getting increasingly against the Central Government. More immediate reason for clamping of emergency was that in a judgment dated 12 June 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court held that Mrs. Gandhi was guilty on the charge of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign. The case was filed by Raj Narain, who had been recently defeated in the parliamentary election by Indira Gandhi. The court declared her election null and void and unseated her from her seat in Lok Sabha. The court also banned her from contesting any election for an additional six years.

CPI support to Indira Gandhi

CPI saw emergency as an opportunity and welcomed it 'as necessary to combat fascist movement led by Jaiprakash Narayan and the parties of right reaction. CPI leaders believed they could turn emergency into a communist revolution. Almost a decade of close cooperation with Indira Gandhi and the Congress seemed to be on the verge of bringing about a massive revolutionary breakthrough for the CPI.[44]

Backlash: General elections, 1977

In 1977, Indira Gandhi went for general elections and CPI was still supporting her. The Congress lost the elections and emergency was lifted. The CPI suffered its worst ever losses in general elections. CPI(M) was able to hold on to its base in West Bengal, but, electoral support for the CPI took a nosedive, as the following table would show:

Comparative Performance of the Communist Parties in General Elections of 1971 and 1977.[45][46]

Party / Seats(1971) / Seats (1977) / % of Votes(1971) / % of Votes(1977)

CPI / 23 / 07 / 4.73% / 2.82%
CPM / 25 / 22 / 5.12% / 4.29%
Total / 48 / 29 / 9.85% / 7.11%

Towards left unity

To both the communist parties, election results raised serious questions regarding their relevance in the Indian political system. Newly strewn up Bharatiya Lok Dal[47] - a medley of groups ranging from Congress rebels to Hindu party Jan Sangh - under the patronage of Jaiprakash Narayan, was able to garner 41.32% of the votes polled. Congress though lost heavily in terms of seats, still had 34.52% of popular votes. To the left parties the fact that these two parties accounted for more than three-fourth of the electorate and 449 out a total of 542 seats did suggest a possibility of a two (bourgeoisie) party political system. The result was a lot of soul searching for both the parties. Eventually both the parties would regroup and would form an alliance.

Dange's isolation in CPI

As one of the few parties that supported emergency, the CPI was under attack from all other quarters. In spite of strong pro-Indira arguments presented by Dange, CPI in its eleventh party congress at Bhatinda, repudiated the support to emergency and opted for a new policy of left democratic unity. In Bhatinda congress two separate groupings emerged, one led by Dange and another led by C. Rajeswara Rao. The Rajeswara Rao's faction was victorious and the Bhatinda congress confirmed the shift towards creating alliances with leftist forces against Congress. Dange's pro-Congress line was severely tested within his own party. Similarly in their tenth party congress held at Jullunder around the same time, CPI(M) also decided pursue a path of left unity.

Even after Bhatinda congress, Dange was able to retain some of his influence though the majority was moving towards unity with CPI(M). The main reason for this was CPI sharing power with the Congress in Kerala.

Initially, both parties differed on the concept of what left and democratic unity would mean. This came out in open in when leaders of both parties met for the first time after 1964 split in New Delhi on 13 April 1978. In spite of repudiation of emergency, the CPI was not ready to change its overall assessment of Congress. Congress according to CPI contained left and democratic elements. This stand also justified continued cooperation between Congress and CPI in Kerala.[48]

All India Communist Party

By 1980, the writing on the wall was clear. Poll alliance between CPI and CPI(M) was forged. CPI had parted ways with Congress in Kerala. The Dange group within the party was reduced to an insignificant minority. In 1980 a section of CPI cadre who wanted to retain the close relationship with the Congress, broke away from the Party and formed All India Communist Party. Roza Deshpande, the daughter of Dange and her husband Bani Deshpande, played an important role in organising the founding of the new party.[49] It is said that Dange himself was initially largely sceptical of a split in the CPI.[50]

The founders of All India Communist Party retained close communications with Dange. In May, 1981 the National Council of CPI expelled Dange. When the first conference of AICP was held in Meerut,[51] commencing on 13 March.[52] Dange turned up there uninvited and took charge of the new party. He was elected general secretary of the party.[53]

Marginalisation within the communist movement

Although having Dange as its leader, AICP was not able to attract any major nationwide following for two main reasons. Firstly, the Soviet Union did not give any political support to the new party. The founders of AICP were upholding the pro-Soviet CPI policy of cooperating with the National Congress, but the Soviets were not interested in a split within CPI. Secondly, the Congress showed limited interest towards the idea of having a national alliance with the new party.

AICP versus Congress

In the end, the two parties would be poised against each other in several local elections. Not only that, the Congress successfully outmaneuvered the new party in taking over a pro-Soviet goodwill organisation. As an alternative to the CPI-controlled Indian-Soviet Cultural Society (ISCUS), members of AICP and the Congress had set up the Friends of the Soviet Union. Eventually the control over this organisation was completely taken over by the Congress.[54]

Merger into United Communist Party of India

In 1987 AICP merged with the Indian Communist Party and formed the United Communist Party of India. Veteran communist leader Mohit Sen was the general secretary of the party until his death in 2003.

The party failed to register any presence in the country. In the 2007 assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, UCPI launched three candidates, Devi Dayal Yadav in Karki (572 votes, 0.49% of the votes in the constituency), Anand Kumar in Baberu (899 votes, 0.82%) and Vimal Krishan Srivastav in Banda (456 voes, 0.39%).[55] Similarly, in 2006 Tamil Nadu elections, UCPI could garner only 921 votes in the state.[56]

Death and legacy

Dange died at a Bombay hospital on 22 May 1991. He was given a state funeral by the Maharashtra state government.[57] He was survived by his wife Ushatai and daughter, Roza Deshpande.

Birth centenary

Seven years later, in 1998, it was decided to celebrate his birth centenary celebrations, starting from 10 October that year in a gathering of trade unionists in Mumbai. A committee was set up to undertake a project for instituting a memorial to Dange. The concept of the memorial approved in the meeting was that it would house a modern education center, a large library and facilities for research on various issues concerning the working class movement. There will also be a trade union school with hostel and canteen facilities.[58] This project did not take off.

Another attempt by various communist organisations was to hold a national communist conference in Mumbai on the occasion of Dange's birth centenary celebrations. But this had failed due to the paucity of funds. The communist organisations could not raise sufficient funds nor could find a generous sponsor to host the meet in Dange's own city. Therefore, the venue of the conference was shifted to Kerala.[59]

Honour by the Indian Parliament

On 10 December 2004, The Indian Parliament honoured Dange when Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India unveiled his statue along with other left leaders such as Acharya Narendra Deva and A.K. Gopalan in Parliament House. The 9-feet high bronze statue of Dange, sculpted by Vithoba Panchal, has been donated by the labor organisation, Shramik Pratishthan, Mumbai.[60]

Mitrokhin Archives

Controversies continued to dog Dange even after death. In what were supposedly based on KGB documents, notes smuggled out by former KGB spy Vasili Mitrokhin at the time of his defection to Britain, Christopher Andrew published, in 2005, a book[61] Mitrokhin Archive II, that contained details of alleged transactions between the CPI and the KGB during 1975-76, and it claimed that the money exchanged was between 4 to 8 lakh rupees a month. The supposed KGB papers claim that deceased CPI leaders Dange and C. Rajeswara Rao regularly received bribes and favours from the Russians in the mid-1970s and Dange even issued receipts for the money he received. This money changed hands from car windows in desolate areas near New Delhi, the book claimed.

Mitrokhin Archives are not KGB papers per se, but were notes taken by Vasili Mitrokhin over 30 years. CPI questioned the authenticity of these papers. "This is utter nonsense. We have said this before and we say it again that these documents haven't been verified and no one knows if these are real KGB papers," said CPI leader Manju Kumar Majumder, when the book was out,[62] Academicians like J. Arch Getty[63][64] and counter-intelligence specialists[65] had questioned the veracity of these papers.

Benediktov Diaries

Diaries of I.A. Benediktov, Russian ambassador to India during the 1960s named Indian communist leaders seeking aid from the Soviet Union. Dange's name figured in the first excerpt is from a 17 January 1962 entry from the journal Benediktov describing a conversation with Bhupesh Gupta, the then Secretary of the National Council of CPI.

Gupta reported that after the death of Ghosh at the present time in the party there is an acute insufficiency of means for the preelection campaign. He expressed the fear that with the death of Ghosh the source for receiving means for the communist party from the CPSU might be closed. These questions were handled by Ghosh alone, Gupta underscored. He never consulted with him /Gupta/, and even less with [Elamulam M.S.] Nambudiripad and G. Nair/ with the latter two only about using the assistance/. All these matters were held in strictest secrecy from other leaders of the party and members of the National Council. This explains the fact that not a single report on this question has appeared in the press. Gupta said that he cannot singlehandedly take on responsibility in questions of assistance, therefore he considers it necessary to consult with Nambudiripad, whom he characterized as a person of crystalline honesty and whom Ghosh trusted. Gupta confidentially reported that A. Ghosh had not consulted on this problem with Akhmed or with [Shripad Amrit] Dange, who once proposed that he entrust to him alone all matters connected with the receipt of aid from abroad.[66]

In as much as Mitrokhin archive was based entirely on notes based on alleged primary sources, the Benediktov diaries also brought in Dange through a mere hearsay. But both these documents were used by the critics of communism to attack the communist parties and Dange.

Dange the author

Dange's arrival in the political arena was through the pamphlet Gandhi vs. Lenin that got him two important contacts of his youth: M.N. Roy and Lotwala, the rich flour-mill owner from Bombay. The latter helped him to launch the first ever socialist magazine in India, The Socialist. Mohit Sen said that Dange's articles in The Socialist impressed Lenin himself.[67]

Dange was a keen follower of literature. He had published a book called Literature and People that advocated socialist realism, as opposed to elitism.

From Primitive Communism to Slavery

Dange's major work, From Primitive Communism to Slavery was published in 1949. The book attempted to analyze stages of growth of society in ancient India. The author had painfully researched ancient scriptures and other sources to make it a definitive tome. Engels’ book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State was the kind of road map he used. He analyzed the ancient epics to arrive at the reasons for origin of private property in India. The first draft of the book was written in Yerwada Central Jail between October 1942 and January 1943.

Dange's magnum opus was severely criticised by historian D.D. Kosambi, who said that in order to defend Engels, he had to deny Dange. He went on to say that Dange’s work was unquestionably a caricature of Engel’s work.[68] Kosambi was especially severe when he said, ‘Marxism is not a substitute for thinking, but a tool of analysis which must be used, with a certain minimum of skill and understanding, upon the proper material.[69]

The book was released in 2002, under the title Vedic India by his daughter Roza and her husband, Bani Deshpande. Dange was again criticised for "his ideas on ancient India and his discovery of the ideals of communism in the primitive ages (and hence a glorification of the ancient culture) left him exposed to charges of having read Marxism in the most unscientific fashion".[70]


1. "Obituary reference in the Indian Parliament". Parliament of India website. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
2. Riepe, Dale (1977). "Marxism in India". Marxism, Revolution and Peace. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 41. ISBN 978-90-6032-066-2. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
3. Sen, Mohit (2002). "The Dange Centenary". S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Progressive Publishers, Kolkata. p. 43.
4. MI5 History. The Communist Threat. in chapter The Inter-War Period
5. Roy, Samaren M.N. Roy: A Political Biography Orient Longman 1997. p.54.
6. Documents of History of the Communist Party of India (ed.) G. Adhikari with the assistance of Dilip Bose. New Delhi: People's Publishing House. 1982. p. 229.
7. Criminal cases in which the accused are charged with actions that would alienate the sovereignty of British India, from the British King.
8. "Ganachari, Arvind". Evolution of Law of 'Sedition' in the Context of the Indian Freedom Struggle 1837-1922 in Dossal, Mariam and Maloni, Ruby (ed.) State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. 1999. p. 175.
9. Ralhan, O.P. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Parties New Delhi: Anmol Publications p.336
10. The two major Indian communist parties, namely, Communist Party Of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) maintain different views on exactly when the Communist Party of India was founded. The date maintained as the foundation day by the CPI is 26 December 1925. But according to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the party was founded in Tashkent, USSR on 17 October 1920.
11. Ganachari, Arvind. Evolution of Law of 'Sedition' in the Context of the Indian Freedom Struggle 1837-1922 in Dossal, Mariam and Maloni, Ruby (ed.) State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. 1999. p. 176.
12. "S.A. Dange" in his introduction to AITUC 50 Years Documents, Volume 1. published by AITUC Publications. p.xxiii.
13. "Chandavarker, Rajanarayan". Imperial Power and popular politics: Class, resistance and state in India New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998. p.131
14. Tomlinson, Professor B.R. (Tom). India Text Notes left on the net by Tomlinson, Professor B.R. (Tom). Department of History, School for Oriental and African Studies.SOAS. University of London London
15. Chandavarker, Rajanarayan. Imperial Power and popular politics: Class, resistance and state in India New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998. p.183
16. "Working Class Movement Library" Meerut Conspiracy Trial Archived 13 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
17. During the British rule, a severe form of punishment was banishing convicts to a penal settlement in Andaman Islands.
18. Surjeet, Harkishan Singh 75th Anniversary of the Formation of the Communist Party of India, an article in The Marxist, New Delhi, Volume: 2, No. 1 Issue: January- March 1984
19. Standard, Business (5 April 2016). "Letters: Downfall of the CPI". Business Standard India.
20. B.T. Ranadive. S.A. Dange (1959) in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.) S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 26.
21. B.T. Ranadive. S.A. Dange (1959) in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.) S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 23.
22. B.T. Ranadive. S.A. Dange (1959) in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.) S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 25.
23. B.T. Ranadive. S.A. Dange (1959) in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.) S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 19.
24. Robert Service, Stalin. A biography. (Macmillan - London, 2004), pp 444-445
25. "Transcript" of the Discussion held on 16.VIII.1947 from 6 pm to 8 between Comrade A.A. Zhdanov with Com. Shripad Amrit Dange, Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Of India.
26. This freedom is bogus.
27. "Sen, Mohit". A Traveller and the Road – The Journey of an Indian Communist. New Delhi: Rupa Co., 2003. p. 81
28. Rival Red Party Is Set Up in India, Forswearing the Tactic of Violence 31 May 1950 New York Times. New York.
29. "Member's Profile - 4th Lok Sabha". Lok Sabha Secretariat, New delhi. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
30. The Manchester Guardian. 30 September 1959.
31. Heavy Indian casualties occurred a peak of the Karakorum on the Aksai-chin plateau. The area was said to be a part of Ladakh by the Indian Government, but the Chinese claimed it to be a part of Sinkiang. In 1959 the Indian patrols suffered heavy losses in the hands of Chinese army in this region and is referred to as Ladakh incident.
32. The Baltimore Sun. 6 October 1959.
33. Manchester Guardian. 30 October 1959.
34. Manchester Guardian. 29 October 1959.
35. Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 27 October 1959.
36. The Chinese Communist Party's Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist MovementArchived 16 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
37. Open Letter of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Archived 25 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
38. Link, 7 July 1963. New Delhi
39. 7 March 1964, The Current, Bombay.
40. Statistical Report of General Elections, 1965 to the Legislative Assembly of Kerala The Election Commission of India, New Delhi.
41. Statistical Report of General Elections, 1967 to the Fourth Lok Sabha Archived 4 March 2009 at the Wayback MachineThe Election Commission of India, New Delhi.
42. Bose, Shanti Shekar. A Brief Note on the Contents of Documents of the Communist Movement in India. National Book Agency: Kolkata. 2005. p. 56-59
43. Statistical Report of General Elections, 1970 to the Legislative Assembly of Kerala. The Election Commission of India, New Delhi.
44. page 224, Coalition Strategies and Tactics of Indian Communism by Stanley A. Kochanek appearing in Coalition Strategies of Marxist Parties, edited by Trond Gilber Published 1989 Duke University Press
45. Statistical Report on General Election 1971 to the Fifth Lok Sabha. Archived 16 June 2007 at the Wayback MachineThe Election Commission of India, New Delhi
46. Statistical Report on General Election 1977 to the Sixth Lok Sabha. Archived 31 October 2008 at the Wayback MachineThe Election Commission of India, New Delhi.
47. Bharatiya Lok Dal was formed at the end of 1974 through the fusion of seven parties opposed to Indira Gandhi. The leader of the BLD was Charan Singh. In 1977, the Bharatiya Lok Dal combined with the Jan Sangh and anti- Indira Gandhi breakaway Indian National Congress (Organisation) to form the Janata Party. The newly formed Janata Party contested the 1977 elections, and got majority to form the first non-Congress Government in India. But the Janata Party contested the election on the Bharatiya Lok Dal symbol. Therefore, on record of the Election Commission of India, the government was formed by the Bharatiya Lok Dal, and not, Janata Party.
48. page 226, Coalition Strategies and Tactics of Indian Communism by Stanley A. Kochanek appearing in Coalition Strategies of Marxist Parties, edited by Trond Gilber Published 1989 Duke University Press
49. Andersen, Walter K.. India in 1981: Stronger Political Authority and Social Tension, published in Asian Survey, Vol. 22, No. 2, A Survey of Asia in 1981: Part II (Feb., 1982), pp. 119-135
50. Sen, Mohit. A Traveller and the Road – The Journey of an Indian Communist. New Delhi: Rupa Co., 2003. p. 388
51. Das Gupta, Jagadish, in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.), S.A. Dange – A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 101
52. New York Times 14 March 1981
53. Banerjee, Gopal (ed.), S.A. Dange – A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p.153
54. Bhattacharya, Mrimoy in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.), S.A. Dange – A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 141
55. Statistical Report on General Election 2007 to the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh. The Election Commission of India. New Delhi.
56. Statistical Report on General Election 2006 to the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu The Election Commission of India. New Delhi.
57. Banerjee, Gopal. S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p. 13.
58. The Indian Express 7 July 1998.
59. The Indian Express 24 November 1998.
60. Press release from the office of the Speaker, Lok Sabha
61. A sequel to the earlier book Mitrokhin Archive published in 1999
62. "CPI's Dange, Rajeshwar named in KGB files". website. 22 September 2005.
63. "Book Review by Getty". American Historical Review. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007.
64. B Raman (26 September 2005). "The Mitrokhin mystery". Retrieved 13 November 2008.
65. Former Indian counter-intelligence specialist Bahukutumbi Raman pointed out that Mitrokhin did not bring either the original documents or photocopies. Instead, he brought handwritten/typed notes of the contents of the documents.
66. "Russian Foreign Ministry Documents on the Soviet-Indian Relations and Sino-Indian Border Conflict. Cold War International History Project". Virtual Archive Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars website. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012.
67. Sen, Mohit. The Dange Centenary in Banerjee, Gopal (ed.) S.A. Dange - A Fruitful Life. Kolkata: Progressive Publishers, 2002. p.43.
68. D.D. Kosambi. Marxism and Ancient Indian Culture. Review of S. A. Dange's India from Primitive Communism to Slavery, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, xxix (Poona, 1949), 271-77.
69. D.D. Kosambi. Marxism and Ancient Indian Culture. Review of S. A. Dange's India from Primitive Communism to Slavery, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, xxix (Poona, 1949). p.277.
70. Ananth, V. Krishna. Commentary on events, personalities. The Hindu 12 February 2002 Review of Problems of Indian Renaissance: S. A. Dange, Edited by Bani Deshpande and Roza Deshpande; Vichar Bharati Prakashan, Mumbai-400014.
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Part 1 of 3

Gandhi vs. Lenin
by S.A. [Shripad Amrit] Dange
Printed by S. V. Lalit at Loksevak Press, Govardhan Building, Bombay No. 4,
Published by the Liberty Literature Co., 434, Thakurdwar, Bombay No. 2.

We shall not give the Govt. assistance to collect revenue. We shall not assist them in carrying on the administration of justice. We shall have our own courts, and if time comes, we shall not pay taxes."

-- Lok. B.G. Tilak. in 1906


• My own Foreword
• Chapter I: Introductory
• Chapter II: Society of Today: The Class War
• Chapter III: Gandhi vs. Lenin
• Chapter IV: "The Armed Blow"
• Chapter V: The Indian Revolution
• Appendix A
• Appendix B
• Appendix C


Every book must have a preface or a foreword; and that preface must be from a well-known writer or a ‘leader’ standing high in public-favour. These are the first principles of publishing a book in our days. If we analyse prefaces to publications of our times, they fall into the following classes: The preface (1) containing a eulogy of the writer’s abilities to write on the particular subject in hand and pleading the necessity of such a book on that particular subject, (2) containing a summary of the subject-matter of the publication and one or two paltry suggestions, (3) containing an impartial judgement on the book by a man, who knows the subject very well and showing the descrepancies, if any. A good book with the 3rd kind of preface is a rarity now-a-days. Hack-writers, wishing to sell cheap, far and wide meet us at every book-stall with glaring placards, mentioning with great care the name of the preface or foreword-writer, who in ninety cases out of hundred is some demagogue assuming the airs of a patriot-leader in the politics of the day. The public seldom knows the troubles the poor writer has to undergo, to procure for their benefit, a foreword from some 'great leader,' with the key or stamp of whose name, he wishes to enter the regions of public favour. He has to introduce himself through several other less great leaders, satellites of the centre planet. ‘The Big Boy’ sometimes does not even know that his person is so well guarded by his faithful ‘crooks’. After introduction the poor preface-procurer, has to flatter the ‘great leader,' saying in the usual line, that he is the only one capable of giving any opinion on the subject and that the public would like to hear his views and that etc., etc. Then the ‘great leader,’ all smiles, condescends to go through the book once. For some days, the poor writer waits dreaming that the book is being gone through. He returns to hear that on account of pressure of work, (of course public work because a ‘leader’ has no time to visit the race-courses and the speculation bazaars, at least openly,) he could not find time.* [I know of a well-known professor, a Marathi scholar, who could not find time to write a preface, until he or rather the time was paid for it!] But he would be glad to do it very soon. If the writer relying upon the words of that honest man has advertised the time, when the work was to be out, he has to express his regret that on account of ‘unforeseen circumstances the publication was delayed.’ After all these troubles of coming and going to the 'great leader’s’ house, sending in visiting cards, (for even in a leader’s house, men must not enter without sending in their names, like a Hindoo! Lok. Tilak was not a ‘well-bred leader’ for peasants could go and speak to him without 'announcing’ themselves!) the public gets some lessons in patriotism, the new spirit in the nation, their birthrights and fighting the battle of liberty to death and so on. [Now-a-days every writer must mention at least once the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs!] The readers, dazzled by the strong wording and high notions, never dream that the whole thing, over the signature of the great man that they are reading, has been written, not by himself, but by his learned private secretary, specially paid and maintained for this purpose!1 [Many capitalists and money-leaders of Bombay have their speeches, written by their private secretaries, who are sometimes bar-at-laws, and deliver them in currency committees and industrial conferences!] By this I do not mean that all publications are such. What 1 mean is simply this, that if a foreword is to be a mere eulogy of the author or a summary of the subject-matter to follow, it is better that the book should be without any foreword, because the reader can very well know both the writer and the summary, after reading the book himself. However a novice in the line of writing has to suffer these hardships. Let us remember that Johnson suffered much more before he became Dr. Johnson!

Now I will begin my own true foreword. I thought of writing this booklet, when at the beginning of the N.C.O. movement our opponents began to discredit it, by pretending to find signs of Bolshevik activity in the movement and thus kill it. The public knew very little of the Bolsheviks beyond some fables, created by news-paper booming. Seeing this I thought of writing this booklet, to show the extreme contrast between the methods of N.C.O. activity and the Bolshevik plan, to accomplish their ideals. There is not much literature, available for such a work, on the Russian Revolution and the Bolsheviks; because our Government takes great care to guard the gates of India against the entry of authentic literature on the subject. What has been allowed to enter, is written by men who hate the Bolsheviks and are of imperialistic tendencies. In such a situation, it is difficult to write with confidence on the subject. However my purpose will be served, if the booklet gives at least an idea of the elementary principles of the great movement in Russia and of the hypocrisy of those who would class N.C.O. with Bolshevism, if my countrymen come to recognize the magnitude of extremism to which we will have to go in our struggle for emancipation and to expect and be ready for Government Terrorism, a veritable greater Ireland on the Indian soil!

My foreword is finished. I am sorry, at the end 1 cannot add the author’s script to mention and thank some kind friend for having read and corrected the proofs of my book, as is the custom; for I myself had to do the work!!

April 1921.

Chapter I: Introductory.

"The Earth is of God and it cannot be accursed.”

-- Mazzini.

Acquisitiveness, vanity, rivalry and love of power! When the great massive genius of the Macedonian Conqueror lay silent in Babylon, perhaps Aristotle in his philosophic mood might have murmured, “Acquisitiveness vanity, rivalry and love of power, what wert thou, but a mixture of these, that now thou dost thus lie there in dust!” When the dormant fire in the huts on the Arab sands blazed into flames, what else but these moved them to put the unbelievers to sabres. The Golden Rule of Haroun-al-Rashjid or the days of devastation by the nomadic hordes of flying Zenghiz Khan were ruled by these and these only. Nothing but the volcanic irruptions of these seething elements in the human mind fill the most interesting and busy periods of History. Discord in the harmonious rule of the world is the headline of History. Peoples of the world possessed no written history so long as there was harmony. The day when they did the first thing that could be written as history, was the day of the irruption of these elements, a clay of discord in the House of God!

Monarchy, Aristocracy, Democracy arc the symbolic measurements that read to you the gradual extension of the Kingdom of these Imperial Majesties, acquisitiveness, vanity, rivalry and love of power. When then kingdom extended only over one mastermind in a nation, there was Monarchy. When many, many such master-minds became participators in the rule of tyranny and came under the sway of these fascinating, skin-beautiful hydra-heads of the disfigured sides of human mind, there was Aristocracy. And last of all, when a sufficiently large number became bondsmen to these governing instruments of crime, a number sufficient to drown the voice of God within man, by its cheers of joy for the attainment of what they thought to be the heavenly form of life, under the sun and beyond the sun, it was called the advent of Democracy. So,

Monarchy: All not-freemen except one.

Aristocracy: Most not-freemen except a few.

Democracy: Majority not-freemen except a powerful minority. Such was and such is the position of the contending masses in their struggle towards the realization of the ideal of mutual association and unhampered life of individuals. As long as oppression was centred in one head and one hand— as long as there was Monarchy — the struggle for emancipation was not a hard one, which is clearly exemplified by the comparative ease, with which even mighty monarchies were overthrown in the ancient past. But as soon as the ranks of oppression began to be recruited from the proud intellectuals and the so-called chosen of the people, as monarchy became seconded actively by aristocracy, the struggle for emancipation became still more hard. The common citizen, looking with hatred and awe to the palacial manors of the chosen grinders of the people and ground down under the systems of forced labour1 [In France and Veth in India.] and taxation2 [The Aristocrats were exempted from taxation in France and the Ministry of Turgot and Necker failed because they advocated taxation for all without exception. It was one of the causes that led to the Rev. in 1789.] for the benefit of the upper or heavenly, head-born3 [The Brahmanical class.] classes, whether in India or in Europe, lost all faith in himself and came to consider himself to be born for nothing but labour, fruitless for himself, fruitful for his chosen grinders. The individual was reduced to the state even below that of a hunting-beast, so much so that once in France there existed a law authorizing a Seigneur, as he returned from hunting, to kill not more than two Serfs and refresh his feet in their warm blood and bowels1. [Carlyle’s Fr. Rev.] From slaves of the monarchs to serfs of the seigneurs or the chosen higher, in the icy zones of Europe, men’s faith in the higher law and higher ideals, became chilled, while the hot imaginative mind of the Indian under the sun, losing all hope in the present matter-of-fact life, became resigned and pessimistic and sat, with eyes turned towards heaven, considering salvation in death or in the rejection of worldly life2. [Especially the school of Sanyasism in Hindu Philosophy and the school of Hinayanas in Buddhism.] Until at last it took the whole life of Luther, Rousseau and Voltaire, to teach man to consider himself as man, to reveal to the famished individual that he was the sovereign of his destiny and of his life. “They recovered to humanity its lost little-deeds.” This was a revelation of good as well as evil. The individual was sovereign! Ah! Then why shall he not conquer and be free! Monarchies with their guilded thrones, and Aristocracies with their chateaus built of the hunger and curses of the poor, tumbled down. The individual was free and was sovereign! But it was the beginning of evil too. Possessing no ideal but the negation of a lie, negation of subjection to the chosen few, and not being given side by side, the ideal of subjection to the Higher Law of God, to life of common good and association, the individual strove only to suppress the lie! But when it was suppressed, what remained? The whole daemonic nature of man remained,— hurled forth to rage blindly without rule or rein; savage itself, yet with all the tools and weapons of civilization: a spectacle new in History3 [Carlyle’s Fr. Rev.]. The individual thinking only of his rights and never of duties, substituted himself in the place of those whom he had overthrown, with the difference that where there were the chosen few, there came the many from the common file, but still participators in the continuation of the same criminal rule of oppression. As the ranks of oppression began to be filled from the oppressed themselves, the struggle became still more hard and bitter. Under Democracy people found that they themselves being participators, were oppressors of themselves. The nobles, Sirdars and aristocrats of the old order, were followed in the new one by capitalists and entrepreneurs. Liberty for the individual was recognized a little but liberty for other nations was denied. Whole nationalities began to subject others to slavery.

The initiation of the second stage of emancipation of the individual from the rule of the privileged or the rise of individualism in Europe began with the French Revolution. The very heart and centre of the rights of man suffered from ebb and flow, on account of the vile plotters of authority, who read their doom in the new age. Metternich and his associates stemmed the tide of the consciousness of the individual, for some time, until at last came the year 1848, the year of revolutions and constitutions, after which people saw many from amongst themselves in the high throne of democracy. It seemed as if the days of tyranny were over, thanks to the French Revolution and the all-leveling campaigns of the Corsican conqueror. The peoples dined over the constitutions and democracy waved the banners. They thought themselves happy and free and forgot the pains that slavery inflicts on man and newly thought of conquests, of putting others in slavery. They had been taught ‘‘everyone for himself,” “here on earth and nowhere else.” With such doctrines, digested and turned into flesh and blood of their life, their ideal of life became “acquisitiveness, vanity rivalry and love of power.” History had begun with these Crooked Four. And after centuries of toil and blood-flow of martyrs, what was the result, what change? The result and change was that the executive power in the dominion of these Crooked Four was transferred from monarchs and aristocrat-slave-owners into the hands of many of the slaves themselves, who exulting in the change of hands, became sergeants of these devilish elements in their turn.

As such in their zeal they turned for conquests and conquered India, Africa, Persia and other principalities of the East. But we are chiefly concerned with India and its evolution under these newly emancipated slaves and slaveowners of the civilized order.

India with her water-tight compartments of the divisions of her peoples into classes, had evolved a philosophy and an Indian mind, which had fully realized and imbibed the principles of that philosophy. And this philosophy was specially and thoroughly efficient to maintain and promote the spirit of that particular form of social division. It was nothing but the Hindu philosophy and view of life that had maintained the class divisions of India, in their origin designed to maintain and facilitate a division of social labour1 [Mr. B. G. Tilak on caste system in India.], but in later stages becoming obsolete and oppressive.

The doctrine in Hindu philosophy, that the whole development of the human race, and course of events, was pre-arranged by God, and the individual was nothing but an instrument in the fulfilment, in the practical realization of this pre-arranged plan of the universe, made the individual a firm believer in the doctrine of fatalism. This led Indians to find the cause of every calamity, of every good as well as evil, of every injustice, in their preordained destiny, before which they thought their potent energies to be powerless to achieve anything which apparently seemed to be against the mysterious settled course of events. And they judged of this opposition of events, or their favourableness, not from any plausible causes, but from omens, from predictions of astrologers, mahants and fakirs. Such methods abound in societies where individuals, having lost faith in their subjective energies, seek revelation of the predestined course in objective signs and utterances. Another principle, a necessary corollary to the first, was that of contentment. Since the individual was unable to change or undo anything, as everything that was was there according to an already settled plan, what was the use of struggle? In contentment they must live, in submission to the lot that had fallen to them according to their destiny. The natural result was that men became inactive, less struggling, and less persevering1 [The Sanskrit proverb that the Dakshinatyas are enthusiastic at the beginning well illustrates this view.]. And moreover, this habit of mind was helped by the comparative easiness with which Nature yielded to the Indians the necessaries of life. The Indians formed a character of accepting the existing order of the day without demur, and of submitting to the miseries that arose from the obsolete and oppressive forms of the social order in which they found themselves born. In full accordance with the principle of contentment, and the pessimistic view of life, they were never interested in the pursuits of gaining mastership over the forces of Nature, to add to the ease of life by inventions, or explorations, or exploitations, unless it became absolutely necessary for a decent upkeep of life. For all these virtues (!) the Europeans naturally compliment us, since it is to their advantage, and necessary for their existence in India, for these virtues of living on few necessaries of life, of law-abiding nature, of aversion to rapid and radical changes or revolutions. Perhaps these very virtues have become at this stage in Indian politics very much detrimental to our own interests!

In spite of all this, what saved the Indians from the deteriorating and pernicious effects of such doctrines was their extreme faith in God and Religion. Only that marvellous faith, the most distinguishing feature of the Indian character, saved them from the complete extinction of their race, or decay from within due to immobility.

And Indian History shows that if ever there have been great struggles, they have been for that faith and that Religion which the Indians cherish. If ever true Hindu States of the people have been built by the people, and not by ambitious monarchs, they have been built for the protection, preservation, and promulgation of that faith and Religion. The Buddhist Empires, and the Maratba Revolution, clearly testify to that.

Such principles made the Indians indifferent to the miseries of the social order, which sometimes became so oppressive that great minds had to overthrow or modify them, as in the days of Jnaneshwar or Tukaram. However, the character of divinity created behind these divisions,1 [Geeta.] and often misunderstood in the real sense, supported them, and the serfdom or the bondage to the higher classes continued to grow in India, while the same was being destroyed in the European world. So it was that when the aggressive spirit of Europe began to extend its activities, it found easy matter for subjugation in India. The struggle for conquests was between the acquisitive spirit of the Whites, and the governing powers of the Indian principalities. The masses in India were immersed in themselves, and never thought of the foreigner. They had seen many such coming and going, guests for a while.

But the new guest showed no signs of ceasing to be a guest with the dinner of spoils he had received, as others had done. But when the economic drain, the grinding of the new master began to pinch the stomachs of the masses, they began to search for the cause. But instead of finding and striking at the root of the evil, they retired into themselves and still more cut down their necessities, murmuring that it was God’s will, and that it was their fate that was to be blamed!

But it was now time for the masses of India to awaken to the new spirit that was coming from the Whites of Europe, and either to assimilate it, or reject it and give it a death-blow. But the Indians, with their want of faith in their power, without subjective consciousness, were unable to do anything of this kind. And as Rousseau and Voltaire were required to spend a whole life in teaching the individual his rights to freedom and sovereignty to make the individual conscious of his latent powers, so the whole life of the great genius of Tilak was required to make the Indians feel that they had a right to individual freedom as everybody else had, and that it was their sacred right and duty to fight for the accomplishment of that freedom.

With the advent of the European conquerors in the land, and the subsequent permanence of their rule, the system of jurisprudence introduced by the new rulers possessed much of the spirit of the European systems, though through thoughtfulness, and as a measure of policy, much of the necessary character of the old systems of law prevalent in the customs of the people was retained by the new rulers. Yet the vast change was that the divisions of the social whole into classes, possessed no credit with the rulers, who naturally disregarded them in the promulgation of law. The principle of these immemorial divisions lost its sanction and support of the temporal power, though they continued to exist on the support of the so-called religious sanction, and the habitual obedience of the people.

The new foreigners could not claim to be more civilized than their conquered subjects, if civilization meant refined virtues, and character, and mental qualities of high order. The only thing in which they could claim superiority was their mastery over the forces of Nature, their artful and ingenious science of mechanism: Evidently the people showed no love or loyalty of that nature, which the Marathas of the type of Jadhaves showed towards the Moghuls. These white foreigners had come to exploit the country for the aggrandisement of the personal interests of the members of their race, and the collective interests of their nationalities. Naturally they fostered a system of education designed to turn out, generation after generation, men with a spirit that considered itself always subservient to that of the foreigners, men who found themselves vastly separated from the masses of their countrymen in sentiments and in character. This cleavage between the intellectuals and the masses was to the advantage of the rulers, who found in the intellectuals obedient servants to them, helping and supporting their tyrannical, life-sucking system of government. This was the greatest danger that India had to face at the end of the 18th century. A peasantry that numbered 80% of the population, wringing its hands on account of scarcity, due to the wealth-drain caused by an ingenious system of taxation, and a class of intellectuals who only, in any country, can lead the masses, and show them the roots of evil, estranged from the masses, a class of intellectuals unable to understand their sentiments and character; thus was the dangerous situation of India when the Genius of Tilak began to work to stem the tide of the increasing evil.

With an all-comprehensive genius, a true hero in the Carlylian sense, he started the campaign of speaking boldly and vigourously, of criticizing the iron rule of tyranny, and of claiming it as his right to speak out what he thought, and to speak it direct. He suffered the consequences of this. But his suffering was necessary to shake the masses from their somnambulism; and he was successful. It set them thinking, which revealed to them the source of all their trouble. They followed their saviour implicitly. He became a joining link between the intellectuals and the masses. Through him the intellectuals came to realize their duty, and to lead the masses, and love them. The yawning cleavage was filled up. He taught the masses their individual rights to freedom, to free speech, to be left alone in their land, and not to be exploited for the sake of foreigners. His efforts made India conscious of the outside world, and brought her in level with the ideas that were governing the forces in the new world. But India’s faith in the higher Law and Religion was not corrupted by the new ideas of individual rights, as was the case with the nations of Europe. This very fundamental characteristic raised the fighting Genius of Tilak to the high pedestal of divinity itself.

Thus the Tilak period was one of consciousness of rights. And History shows that such consciousness walks hand in hand with a simple and sincere demand of constitutions. France demanded constitution of Louis XVI, who gave it but it “would not walk”. Italy demanded it of Prince Albert, Russia demanded it of the Czar and got the worthless Duma. Hungary did the same and got the blow of Metternich. So almost everywhere in the earlier stages of assertion of rights, constitution — fighting has been the first step. And History also shows that at the appearance of this step, repression has been the resort of tyrants. Such typical scenes as happened in France can be met with in the history of every people fighting for liberty. “Dreary, languid do these (masses) struggle in their obscure remoteness, their health cheerless, their diet thin. For them in this world rises no era of hope; hardly now in the other,— if it be not hope in the gloomy rest of Death, for their faith too is failing. Untaught, uncomforted, unfed! A dumb generation; their voice only an inarticulate cry; spokesman in the King’s Council, in the world's forum, they have none that finds credence. At rare intervals they will fling down their hoes and hammers, and to the astonishment of thinking mankind, flock hither and thither, dangerous, aimless, get the length even of Versailles, Turgot is altering the corn-trades, abrogating the absurdest corn laws; there is dearth real, or were it even "fictitious,” an indubitable scarcity of bread. And so on the 2nd of May, 1775, these waste multitudes do here at Versailles Chateau, in widespread wretchedness, in sallow faces, squalor, winged raggedness, present, as in legible hieroglyphic writing, their Petition of Grievances. The Chateau gates must be shut, but the King will appear on the balcony and speak to them, they have seen the King’s face; their Petition of Grievances has been if not read, looked at. For answer, two of them are hanged on a new gallows forty feet high, and the rest are driven back to their dens for a time!”

The people going to the bureaucrat's palace in the capital Delhi in the April days of 1917, and the answer of guns to them— certainly a better and speedy remedy than a new gallows forty feet high — and the exploits of Dyrisim in the Punjab are the best reproductions of the French scenes, and the necessary accompaniment to constitution-fighting. Without such scenes, excitement and subsequent progress are impossible.

Besides this, the Tilak-period had produced another great thing. The leader of the peoples had also his treasure of independent philosophy. By his life and his masterly treatise on the Geeta, he put before the people, with an authority which he alone possessed, a new conception of man's actions. He saw the dangers arising from the pessimistic philosophy, and he changed the vision. The people of India are always in a mood to accept anything that came from a religious source. Geeta was the only source through which anybody could speak to the people. With forty years of study, and experience of action according to the Geeta, he revealed to the world, and to India in particular, the underlying principle of continuous Karma, without egoistic covetousness for the fruits of it, continuous Karma for the realization of divinity in man. By his living example, he taught to the Indians their duty of dedicating life to the service of Humanity without egoism. The people, who had been fed over doctrines of inaction, or Sadhuism, gradually changed their vision, and believed him. Most important of all was this conquest, of destroying the people's pessimism, and making them hopeful about the future, in struggle while serving humanity. The "Tilak-Period of Rights” taught the Indians, “The Earth is Of God, and it cannot be accursed.”

India is modernized. That is what we Indians are today. Upon modern India of Tilak, a Mahatma is making his experiments of new methods of winning liberty. The modern systems of fight initiated by Tilak are suspended, and the quite new methods of Tolstoyan school are being tried to win freedom. History is repeating itself. Struggle is followed by repression, repression is mostly followed by success of the people. Now martyrdom is weltering in blood. But in this land of the Buddhas, the tree of Liberty shall not be watered by the blood of despots. How long, Oh! Lord!

CHAPTER II: Society of To-day: The Class War.

We have seen that the peoples of many nations left behind them the stage of individual bondage to the higher and privileged classes and the rise of Individualism was the product of the struggle. We saw India modernised in the Tilak period in the first twenty years, of the twentieth century and we now find ourselves struggling to overthrow the foreign Yoke, as the first result of the appearance of Individualism amongst us.

We said India is modernized. And we further say that in it lies her life as well as her death. How?

The modernization of India is being carried directly on the European lines of progress. Naturally if the progress of events in Europe results in the happiness and well being of that people, the same type of progress perhaps may result in the happiness and well-being of our people too. And if it causes misery and death to them, it will do so in our land also. We say perhaps because the civilization of one people, may not cause the well-being of another too, as it happened to the original natives of America and Australia, to whom the coming of the civilization of the Whites was a signal for the destruction of their races, though in some cases the destruction was brought about by a well-planned scheme of extermination, and not by the introduction of the new civilization. But what causes misery and death to a number of human beings in one place causes misery and death to another set of human beings in another place, if exceptional circumstances are left aside. A race of Eskimos from the polar regions would not flourish happily in the Indian climate as one of Negroes or Chinese would; but a number of human beings made to live in dense-packed cities and filthy houses, would certainly suffer from their pernicious effect, whether they be Eskimos, Indians or Chinese. The simple reason for all this seems to be that the forces of destruction and death work more uniformly than the forces of development and culture. So we will try to see what this new progress means to Europe and to us, whether it means life or death to Europe and life or death to us also.

Side by side with the work of emancipation of the common people from oppression, an industrial revolution took place in Europe, with which every student of history is quite familiar. This industrial revolution introduced the age of mechanism of our days. The whole course and standard of life of all communities, in which this revolution appeared, underwent vast radical changes. The old science of economics— though practically there was no such complicated science as now exists, — would not serve the purposes of the new social order that was ushered in by the revolution. Machinery-inventions made large scale production an easy possibility. But this large scale production, of course, necessitated huge investments in machinery plantations, which brought into existence a class of men who could make such investments, the class of capitalists. Mechanical production and output far superseded that of the home industries and village or guild-industries of the Medieval Ages. The ruin of these industries threw the old independent guild-labour-hands out of employment and thus brought them to the feet of the capitalists, who could propose their own terms to the labourers. The labourers could do nothing but offer themselves to these new masters on their conditions. This age of mechanism brought two changes in the life of the people. Machinery plantations could employ at one and the same time and place large numbers of labourers. The seats of such plantations became overflooded with population, chiefly composed of the labouring masses. The worsted condition of these masses on account of want of education as well as want of money and facilities for development made such city-life still worse. Labour hands that before lived in their villages, lost all their independence, the healthy condition of surroundings and the moral environments of open village life. On the other hand, the possibility to carry on unlimited production through machinery in a very short time, gave to the capitalists means of making vast profits, which intensified the feelings of acquisitiveness, vanity, rivalry and love of power. This made them disregard the condition of the labourers that they employed, and whom in course of time they began to consider as another piece of machinery. The old lords, serfs and slaves were abolished; but new kinds of lords and Slaves came into existence, without those obnoxious titles, under the name of capitalists and wage-earners. Monarchs waging wars for personal interests and whims, in the name of patriotism, ceased to exist. But a new monarchical class, that of capitalists, with their various titles of ‘Silver-Kings’ and ‘Copper Kings,’ with their executives of speculators, commission agents, exporters and importers, began to drag nations into wars, wars for their capitalistic interests, for capturing markets and countries to sell their goods. They worked out the labourers for hours like lifeless machines, produced vast quantities for the people of other nations, and in order that this surplus product be sold, they made wars. But why all this trouble? Why should the Manchester capitalist try to clothe the whole of India who can, and who could, if left alone, do without this philanthropy of these new slave-owners? Why could they not be content with clothing their own men abundantly and cheaply [produced]? And after all this competition and wars, who were to be benefited and happy? The labourers, who had toiled and suffered hardships? No! Not at all! The whole wealth, thus obtained by starving the labourers at home and ruining labourers abroad, through competition, went to satisfy the lust of the capitalists. The labourers were men as much as the capital-owners were, but these monsters had their lusts to be satisfied, had vain ambitions of being called men of millions. These monster-heads began to corner the wealth and land of the world, while the labouring masses suffered of want and hunger. Political parties and state mechanisms with their sham of democratic representations were dominated by their purses. Thus becoming masters of the political wheel, which alone is competent to effect reform in society, they could suppress the cry of lessening the miseries of the working-class.

Thus society of our times has come to be divided into three classes; “The capitalists that is the possessors of the means and implements of labour, namely lands, factories, ready money and raw material; contractors that is the heads and initiators of labour, commercial men, who represent or ought to represent intellect and the working men, who represent manual labour.” The capitalists have become the masters of the new slaves, who are not given the rights of human beings even. “Time for education, intellectual development, for the fulfilling of social functions and for social intercourse, for the free play of his bodily and mental activity— moonshine! But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its werewolf hunger for surplus labour, Capital oversteps not only the moral but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It higgles over a meal-time, incorporating it, where possible, with the process of production itself, so that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of production as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and oil to the machinery. It reduces the sound sleep needed for the restoration, reparation, refreshment of bodily power to just so many hours of torpor, as the revival of an organism, absolutely exhausted renders essential. It is not the normal maintenance of the labour, which is to determine the limit of working day; it is the greatest possible daily expenditure of labour power, no matter how diseased, compulsory and painful it may be, which is to determine the labourer's period of repose. Capital cares nothing for the length of life of labour power. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour power that can be rendered fluent in a working day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of the labourer’s life as a greedy farmer snatches increased produce from the soil by robbing it of its fertility. Capital extends the labourer’s time of production during a given period by shortening his actual life time."1 [Karl Marx: Capital I, p. 249.]

Such intensity of the evil of the new system has generated a bitter hatred of the working classes towards the capitalists. To wrest from them more wages, shorter hours of work, strikes have become the order of the day. But such puissant methods do not move the capitalists, since in days of dearth of work, they being well-to-do and well-fed can afford to wait, while the poor labourer, living in a hand-to-mouth condition, has to yield and submit to worse conditions.

Such is the course of events in Europe, where society is daily faced with the problem of capital and labour, and the thoughtful of that community are scratching their heads to solve the problem.

We have seen India modernised and her industrialization is vehemently urged and carried on. Naturally her industrialization will be accomplished and is being accomplished on the lines of European systems. When this is done, surely, all the evils of European industrialism, all the methods of class-war between capitalism and labour, will rear their breeding here in our Society too.

Our country at present is suffering from the greatest danger of being impoverished to the last farthing and the last grain of corn by the avidity of European capitalists, assisted from within by our own men, and helped in their devilish designs by an oppressive foreign government. The impoverishment is being carried on quite methodically and constitutionally, which in the case of private persons would have amounted to ingenious robbery and homicide, not amounting to murder, by processes of slow starvation. The 200 millions of our peasantry are reduced to a level of want and suffering by heavy taxes, which are squandered in paying foreign military contingents,1 [In the budget for 1921-22, Rs. 66 croros i.e. 51 p. c. of the total receipts are appropriated for military and in this it must be remembered that the European Jack-boot is paid 4 times more than the Indian Sepoy. Perhaps the Luxurious Moghul soldiers of Aurangzeb’s camp required much less!] maintained for the so-called defence of the country from the frontier tribes, who perhaps never think of India, but really maintained to shoot down patriotism2 [Sir William Vincent's speech in L. A, clearly reveals this motive.] and in pensioning monstrous crops of European civilians, who are the worst possible lot in the whole governing system, and who turn traitorous to the interests of India, after grazing abundantly with their kith and kin on her golden-pasture-lands, as soon as they leave her shores.3 [Lord Curzon and Lord Sydenham are the best examples to illustrate this.] Another method of impoverishing is the continuous export of Indian corn to feed European countries, for which they pay us back by prohibiting our emigrant settlers from lands where our men had suffered hardships to clear the land of marshes and cultivate it.4 [As in South and East Africa.] Government declares scarcity in one part of India, and from another part exports corn to other nations,5 [When scarcity was declared in Kaira district, 1.5 million tons of wheat, 1.9 millions tons of rice were exported from India. Govt, complained for want of transport tonnage while 40,000 waggons wore engaged in simply transporting coal. Foreign machinery must be first fed before starving Indian human beings!] the whole profiteering business being carried by European contractors and capitalists. Our peasantry sells the corn for the high prices offered in order to satisfy the lashing tax-collector, and turns to extract from the land more produce, which in course of time will deprive our cultivated areas of fertility, and cause still greater scarcity. This system of causing dearth finds a somewhat similar parallel1 [Such parallelisms between the Fr. peasantry before the Revolution and ours are not of our own making. Vaughan Nash says in his "The Great Famine," referring to the rigorous collection of land revenue, "cold comfort this for people, who are brought as low as the peasants of France before the revolution, who have ruin and hunger as their daily portion, while plague and cholera stand over them ready to strike. To them appears the Govt. of the British Empire in the likeness of the Broker’s man."] in French history before the Great Revolution. We will quote a few lines. "In the meantime, in contrast with this life in high places, poverty and misery had increased among the people, and most markedly among the cultivators of the soil, to a degree that would appear incredible if we had not at hand the testimonies of men of all class, men who were more than moderate in their views. (Perhaps those very men are born amongst us to-day in our Moderate camp!) Speculators, seconded by Government, and the more covetous courtiers, traded on this misery, and had organized what was termed by contemporaries the Pact of Hunger. By a series of market operations, the whole corn of the country was exported, and when the premium paid on exportations had been received, the whole stock was accumulated in Jersey and Guernsey and other depots and sold again, when the needs of the people had reached their greatest extremity, at very high prices, as though it had arrived from America.”2 [Fr. Revolution. Mazzini p. 278.] If the hunger-stricken peasantry of France answered this by the Reign of Terror, were they to be blamed? And yet William Pitt and his liberty-loving (!) England bribed other nations to kill this France!!

The fourth method of impoverishment is the industrial development of India, which instead of benefiting us, intensifies our poverty, a phenomena quite peculiar to India. Indians clamour for the development of their resources. The Government, with paternal love, condescends to do that. Industries that yield vast profits are undertaken, not by Government, but by European capitalists. And the whole profits from them thus are poured into the pockets of White capitalism. Indian labour, and India’s resources, are exploited, not for her people, but for foreigners. The railway companies, tea, jute and other plantations, mining concerns, shipping companies, and such others, yearly drain from India her wealth in the shape of dividends to the share-holders, 99% of whom are European capitalists. Where these are not benefited, industries are neglected, and to add to the misery, the people are blamed for not advancing capital for the construction of their own industries. Someone has said in London, “You may have either flourishing industries, or a flourishing bureaucracy; but never both.” We certainly want the first; necessarily we must destroy the other? The two are mutually exclusive!

And the fifth method is Government’s systematic gambling with regard to the currency. Indian merchants are prohibited to import Gold from foreign countries, where they have exported their goods, but they have to pay in gold for their imports. Gold flows out of India, and instead we are given pieces of paper, and nothing but paper; consider them worth a farthing, or a thousand; after all the peasant cries in despair, “I have sold my life, my corn; and what have I got? Printed paper!” Our gold reserves lie locked in Ireland for White capitalism to grow fat over it, and we are fed on printed paper. What wonder if one day we rise to find India bankrupt?

Besides this impending danger of national impoverishment and bankruptcy, we have to face another one, that of the evils of industrialization appearing in our society, and becoming our inherent scourge, as it has become of the Europeans. Political emancipation is the remedy for the first danger, and we are struggling for it with methods which we will notice in the next chapter. But even when we become politically free, how are we to avert the dangers of modernization, the dangers of the class war, between capital and labour? Because even the class war is showing its head amongst us. The introduction of factory industries is drawing off more and more of our harassed peasantry to the factory plants in large numbers, and to take to the life of slavish wage-earners. Large populated areas in industrial towns well exhibit to what level of life our wage-earners are being reduced. Our society has already begun to breed the class of capitalists, which is the source of so much evil in Europe. When the cost of living rose extraordinarily high in times of war, the Indian capitalists showed as much implacableness towards the demands of starving Indian labour as the European capitalists did. White capitalists can at least be excused on the ground that it is in their very nature and breeding to behave so towards the Indians. And who are the Indian capitalists? Most of our trade, foreign and inland, is centred in the hands of the Shethias of the Gujrathi community, the Marwaris, the Parsis, and the Bohras. Allied as their interests are with the foreign Government, and foreign capitalism, these capitalist communities of our Society are naturally opposed to our attempts at emancipation. And they in their turn exhibit all the greediness, idleness, cruelty, luxurious and demoralized life, consequent upon capitalism in every form and in every country. The capitalist landholders ruin the middleclass-man by cornering large land-areas, and then charging exorbitant rentals for the tenants1. [Charging high rentals had reached to such a high pitch of madness that in Bombay, a special Rent Act had to be enforced. But it has not proved very much effective.] Some of them make a sham of starting industries for public benefit, and under that pretext oust the peasantry from their holdings with the help of a despotic partial government.2 [The ambitious capitalists, the Tatas, have proposed to supply electricity to Bombay Mills, for which they want to acquire lands by ousting the peasantry of Mulshi Peta lands in Poona Distr. The profits of mills go to millowners and profits of these works will go to the Tatas because 90 p. c. of the shares are held by their own circle! A fine public interest!]

Thus the Indian Capitalists are doing three sins. They support the foreign despotism over us. They demoralize and ruin the peasantry, and the wage-earning classes of our Society. Doing this, they support and feed the capitalists of Europe, and thus help the cause of misery of the workers of that continent also.

So we have to think of two things. How to throw off the foreign Yoke? With what methods? And then how to destroy [the] evil of capitalism amongst us, which is making fast progress, and will double its speed when we are politically free. Mahatma Gandhi has put forth his methods of working out the destruction of these two monster diseases. Gandhism aims to cure Society of modern industrialization and modern civilization. At the same time, Bolshevism is working with the same view in Russia and in European Society. Since both the systems are working with a view to find a solution for a common evil, common to all nations, and since both, fortunately or unfortunately, are born practically in the same era, we propose to compare and contrast these two systems of philosophy and action, and try to see their efficiency to arrive at the desired results.
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Part 2 of 3

CHAPTER III: Gandhi vs. Lenin.

On 15th March 1917 the success of the first Russian Revolution was announced to the world by the abdication of the Czar, the “Autocrat of all the Russias.” The English statesmen and all the world hailed it as one step towards the realization of democracy in this world. But when Kerensky’s Government was overthrown by the Second Russian Revolution of Nov. 7th and the Russian policy, directed by the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Govt. was changed by the peace with the central powers, and when Russia withdrew from the war, then as if by magic the British statesmen began to see the hideous monster of despotism and danger to the whole world in the place in which, not long ago, they were disposed to find the very heaven of democracy. They began to cry down the Bolsheviks and Russia as ‘‘Treacherous”; then refused to have any connection with her Government, and began to spread news of alleged devilish atrocities on the part of the Bolsheviks in other nations. To attribute atrocities to one whom we wish to put down and prejudice in the eyes of the world that he may not get a hearing, has always been a political dodge. And this was nothing but a repetition of what the British statesmen had done about Napoleon, in Ireland, so that Ireland might not sympathise and help the Emperor against England. However, the storm cooled down. As a political necessity, commercial relations with Russia were renewed, and Krasin, representative of the Bolshevik Govt. to England, sat in London in conference with British statesmen about the new relations between Russia and England. At least for a time the Red Flag of the Bolshevik waved in the Imperialistic atmosphere of scoffing London, though only over the flat that Krasin had rented for a time! A labour deputation went to Russia to see matters on the spot. Bolshevism that was never studied before the war, until it became the master of Russia, Bolshevism that was howled down by the capitalistic states of Europe from all quarters, began to receive thoughtful consideration and even serious attention! Let us do the same.

Bolshevism, is not, like other sciences, simply a science of politics and economics, submitting itself to changes due to criticism. A true Marxian or a Bolshevik will admit of no change in the body of the theories of his faith. Karl Marx’s Book the "Capita" is to the Bolshevik what the Geeta is to the Hindoo, or the Bible to the Christian. Day by day the very inspirer, Karl Marx, is passing into a Mythical Being. Bolshevism has come to acquire a force of religion, and all that inspired unflinching belief that a religion demands.

The Bolshevik, or rather the extremist Marxian, sees the misery in the world, the poorer classes exploited by the rich and powerful, and sets to investigate the causes of it, and arrives at three conclusions, stored in these three words: Economic Materialism, Surplus Value, and the Class War.

The doctrine of economic materialism underlying all the extremist communist philosophy simply means that almost all human activity is directed with the motive of economic aggrandisenient, that “all the mass-phenomena of history are determined by economic motives.” And if we examine great movements in history, most of them justify this view. The great so called religious movement in Europe, the Reformation, owed much of its success to the expected economic freedom of the states and of the people promised by the Reformation, which absolved them from paying any tithes and taxes to the clergy and the Pope. Had it not been for this expectation of freedom of the masses from the oppressive taxes of the clergy and the Pope, it is doubtful whether all the printing inventions and philosophy of the scholars dispossessed and turned out from Constantinople would have been sufficiently powerful to move the masses to accept the new creed and deny obedience to the papal authority. The whole of the French Revolution and its subsequent offshoots in other nations, became possible when the masses became utterly destitute and the Government bankrupt and unable to produce money by taxation. The expansion of the nations of Europe into the outside world would not have taken place but for the sight of the Spanish galleys, coming loaded with gold and silver from the Peruvian mines. It was the drain of their wealth into the coffers of England that moved the Americans to fight for liberty, to begin that war of American Independence. So most of the greatest events of European history were inspired by economic motives.

Even in daily life man’s whole struggle is primarily dominated by the desire to obtain money, money for existence, for luxury, and then follow other motives of love, of friendship, of religion and morality.

After all this, what is the result of this dominating factor? The doctrine of economic materialism says that consequently all this leads to inequality of wealth, from which proceeds all the misery of the masses of the people, leads to the intolerable situation of some possessing crores and the many begging for bread or starving. Capitalism is the one end of this inequality and poverty of the masses, the other end.

Naturally the next question is, how have the rich or the capitalists come by so much wealth, how in modern society they continue to be so and daily increase in numbers? What is it that allows and facilitates the accumulation of unlimited wealth into the hands of a limited few, of wealth which is the product of the combined labour of the whole of Society? And at this stage, the doctrine of surplus value makes its appearance in the Marxian theory.

If a capitalist possesses capital in vast land-areas, (like the zamindars of Bihar, Orrissa and Bengal,) how has he come to possess so much land? Did he labour and sweat for it? If he has inherited it from his ancestors, did his ancestors labour for it? Land cannot be a product of human labour, and consequently no human being can lay claim to any land-property through the right of labour. History shows that, “the appropriation of land by individuals has in most countries — probably in all where it approaches completeness -- been originally effected not by the expenditure of labour, or the results of labour on the land, but by force. The original landlords have been conquerors1.” [T. H. Green. "Principles of political obligation.”] If the original possessors came by it by force, then their inheritors can show no reason why they should be allowed to retain it to the exclusion of others. One may say that they hold it for the common good of the whole community; but experience shows that landowners, most of them if not all, have never shown themselves conscious of this idea of common good, but have rather worked against it by converting lands into parks and hunting grounds as in England, or by harassing the temporary peasant tenant who works more for the common good by his production than the landholders do by their idle unproductive act of possession. And even if admitted that they do hold it for the common good, Society is doubly justified in relieving this ‘servant of common good’ by directly administering the land i.e., nationalizing it.

Then one may say that the property in land may have been bought by the capitalist owners from other possessors. But we have seen that property in land, in its very nature, cannot be a product of human labour, but is an appropriation by force, and as such it cannot be possessed, bought or sold by any individual to any other individual; because it is a possession of the social whole, and cannot be disposed of in any form except through the consent of the social whole.

Then comes forth the question of capitalism in movable property, easily convertible in money, and of capitalism in wealth as acquired profits of industry. Examine the working of all industries, and we will find that physical labour, the backbone of all industries, remains ‘under-rewarded,’ while intellectual labour, through speculation, through trade, or through ‘middle-manship’, reaps the benefits of the activities of physical labour. Capitalists are brought into existence by the very laws governing modern systems of industrialization, by laws which allow the intellectual few, masters of opportunities, to become possessors of the ‘unearned income’ of the surplus value derived from the production through physical labour of the many. Because always in society workers with hand are in a majority. Take the case of capitalist England. ‘Ninety out of every hundred adults in England are workers with their hands. Most of these are living in districts and in houses, which make their free and healthy development impossible. Twenty-three out of every hundred live below the poverty line— that is to say, they are so ill-clothed, so badly housed, and so underfed, that they die or are racked with premature pains before they are fifty years of age. Yet these men and women are producing and distributing food, clothing, and the luxuries, which they cannot afford to obtain for themselves.” And the surplus value, or profits from the labour of these, becomes the private property of the capitalists, to which they are not at all entitled more than the hand-labourers. This is the main contention of Marx’s doctrine of surplus value.

Having arrived at this, the Marxian proceeds to argue, and tries to find the method, with which to remove this condition of the slavery of the proletariat to capitalism. Capitalists are able to be masters of the proletariat, or the wage-earners, because they can control the means of production, and through this control become owners of vast unearned wealth. What if the state, the society which is mostly composed of workers with hand, were to assume the direct control of these means of production, if production and distribution were so arranged that everybody would get what is his necessity, and the surplus value of production be utilized for the common good of the state, if none were allowed to accumulate wealth and have private property in land or money, which is the root of so much evil? To accomplish this, the workers and peasants must be the masters of the state-mechanism; they must wrest the authority of Government from the capitalists, who everywhere control the state mechanism in their own interests. And this can be done only through a class-war, through an ‘Armed Revolution’ of the workers and peasants.

The extremist Marxian firmly and religiously believes in this method of class-war, and an armed revolution of the proletariat. A peaceful revolution to take over the control of the state and the means of production is impossible. It sounds absurd to tell a man who is habituated to control not to control, and to expect that he would do it for the mere asking, unless he is forced to do so. Neither is the method of accomplishing this through the gradual growth of representative Governments, like the parliamentary democracy of England, possible. Because the Governments of today are dominated by the capitalists or the bourgeoisie class; they control the army, the press, the education, and everything. Through educational institutions, they manufacture and spread what is called the “Bourgeoisie Ideology”, impose it upon the world, and get it ingrained in the ideas and morality of the world. This ideology manufactures a set of laws by which any quantity of land may belong to private people, and may pass from one to another by inheritance, by will, or by sale; another set by which every one must pay taxes demanded of them unquestioningly, and a third set, to the effect that any quantity of articles, by whatever means acquired, may become the absolute property of the people who hold them. It is this teaching which makes the workers and peasants instinctively obey despotic Governments, and paralyzes their strength to seize the capitalists and accomplish their freedom. The capitalists teach that the poor shall always be in society, but even so they had argued when slavery existed that slavery and serfdom were necessary to maintain society, until they were abolished forcibly. Peaceful methods will do nothing. Because capitalist despotism is a thing that will stoop to anything to maintain its hold of injustice. An armed revolution of the workers and peasants, with all the fanaticism of a religious belief, is the only remedy; and such a revolution must be ready to fight the confederacy of all the capitalist states of the world, and expect help from no one. A well known author, though against the Marxians or Bolsheviks, says, "It seems evident from the attitude of the capitalist world to Soviet Russia, of the entete to the central powers, and of England to Ireland and India, that there is no depth of perfidy, cruelty, and brutality from which the present holders of power will shrink when they feel themselves threatened. If in order to oust them, nothing short of fanaticism will serve, it is they who are the prime sources of the resultant evil. And it is permissible to hope that when they have been dispossessed, fanaticism will fade, as other fanaticisms have faded in the past.”1 [Bertrand Russell.]

After this third item of an armed revolution, the necessary form of Government, in absence of capitalism, will be the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, which is not to be a permanent factor of the state. For as soon as all shall be labourers, and no one a capitalist, as soon as the whole state will be identical with the proletariat, the Dictatorship will vanish of itself.

The Bolsheviks are the people in those icy zones of Russia, the white land of the Autocrat of all the Russias, who have been the ardent believers in these dogmas, and methods of working them out, who have practically worked out this philosophy and are now ruling Russia. The Bolsheviks are the advance guard of all communists, as they call themselves, Part of this communist philosophy finds expression in the programme of English labour party too, its aims being laid down in these four propositions, (a) The universal enforcement of the national minimum, (b) Democratic control of industry, (c) Revolution in national finance, and (d) the surplus wealth for common good1. [Adopted at the Conference of June 1918.] The difference between the Bolsheviks and the British Labour party consist in this, that the former advocate zealously a military blow against armed capitalism, while the latter believe in the method of attaining their end through the Parliament.

So far we have tried to understand the fundamental conceptions of Bolshevism, or extremist communism, in which many thinkers have great faith. We will now turn to the underlying conceptions of Gandhism, and its methods of work, to realize the end of the social evils of our day.

Gandhism admits all the vices from which Society of our day is suffering, all the vices emanating from the rule of capitalism. It also concedes that Capitalism will stoop to anything to preserve its authority, and a revolution, or a radical charge alone, can redeem Society. But the point where Bolshevism and Gandhism are deadly opposed, is that of methods to work out the revolution in Society. Gandhism attacks the very foundations of modern social arrangements, and divisions introduced by modern industrialization. If Capitalism possesses all the cruelty and perfidy of ancient despotisms, what is it that brought into existence capitalism, and gave it such unbounded iron authority? If a majority of the wage-earning class is ill-housed, ill-fed, lives below the poverty line, what made these men the slaves of capitalism? The sure and certain answer is the modern system of industrialization. Mechanism, the Age of Machinery, drove the independent workers out of their healthy surroundings in villages and guild-unions, made them flock to the plantations to work in large units at the bidding of a capitalist. Mechanism made possible large scale productions. It spurned much of the human factor in industries, and thus made a vain, acquisitive few with wealth, masters of millions of men. The Gandhian argues with Tolstoy, from whom Gandhism directly takes its inspiration, “The cause of the miserable position of the workers cannot be found in the seizure of the means of production by capitalists, the cause must lie in that which drives them from the villages. The labourer’s misery alike on the Railway, in the silk factory, and every other factory or workshop— consists not in the longer or shorter hours of work (for agriculturists work sometimes eighteen hours a day, and as much as thirty-six hours on end, and consider their lives happy), nor does it consist in the low rate of wages, nor in the fact that the railway, or factory, is not theirs; but it consists in the fact that they are obliged to work in harmful, unnatural conditions, often dangerous and destructive to life, and to live a barrack life in town— a life full of temptations and immorality, and to do compulsory labour at another’s bidding.” And the thing that does this, the Gandhian says, is modern mechanism; in fact, the whole of modern civilization. Logic pushed forward in this way naturally concludes that to remove the evils of our day, then modern age of mechanism must be destroyed. Mechanism has made luxuries easily accessible at low cost, and this is breeding idleness in Society, has bred a class living on the labour of others. To destroy this, the necessaries of man must be cut down, and at the same time everybody must be working to provide for himself by his own labour. None must be idle, for an “idler is a thief."1 [Rousseau.]

For this as a remedy, Gandhism proposes a return to the old methods of spinning and weaving on handlooms, which would naturally dissolve the labour mass into smaller units. Today, one nation produces so much of luxuries of cloth, and other things, that the production aims to provide for all the markets of the world, which results in the unemployment and privations of the labour of other nations. Hand-spinning and weaving will make this ambition impossible; it will not drive the worker from his independent village environments, and make him submit to the slavery of capitalism. But this is simply one branch of the programme of Gandhism, to dissolve modern civilization. Monstrous mechanism that support despotism, factories, railways, and everything that now raises the problem of human misery, and problem of the class-war, must go that humanity may be saved.
But how will men leave ideas and habits that they have come to acquire by custom and by education? So the root of the whole thing lies in the minds of men. And the solution cannot be anywhere else but in the minds of men. It lies in “Purification". Gandhism will say to workmen, “The workmen must cleanse themselves in order that the Governments and wealthy shall cease to devour their lives. Impurity breeds in dirt, and it feeds on strange bodies, only while they are unclean. And therefore, for the deliverance of the workers from their calamities, there is only one means— that of purifying themselves. And to purify themselves, liberation from theological, state, and scientific superstitions is necessary, and necessary also is faith in God and His Law."1 [Tolstoy. '"Social Evils and their Remedy", p. 58.] To free oneself from despotism, Gandhism proposes a method which is directly opposed to that of Bolshevism. There is no use finding the remedy outside man. It lies in the mind. If the whole mode of thinking be changed, then alone there can be any change in the external actions of man, for action is practical embodiment of thought. Those motives that lead to all this struggle of class-war, motives of aggrandisement, vanity, rivalry, and love of power, if these are cast out of the “possessed”, then man will be free. Go on multiplying invention after invention, conquer the whole of Nature external to man, and what will be the result? There is that immutable law, applicable to all such methods of finding happiness, the law “That a man is subject to a law of his being, in virtue of which he at once seeks self-satisfaction, and is prevented from finding it in the objects in which he actually desires, and in which he ordinarily seeks it.”1 [T. H. Green. “Principles of Political Obligation.” pp. 19.]

And the way to reform it? The Bolsheviks demand power, Dictatorship of the Proletariat, as they say, to reform human mind, to dispossess capital, and to teach everyone in Society to work for the common good. The Gandhians say that men must be convinced of their duty of working for the common good. And this convincing can be done only through Religion. "Your work must be a work of regeneration, of moral reform— for without this, any political organization is barren, and you delude yourselves with the expectation of success while you banish from your work the religious idea."2 [Mazzini pp. 168.] The cry of the Revolution must be “God wills it; God wills it." For “Without God, you can command, not persuade; you can be tyrants in your turn, never educators and apostles.”3 [Mazzini pp. 29.] An ‘armed revolution,’ or violence, will be followed by nothing but a new kind of tyranny and violence.

So Gandhism requires first a change in human nature, or purification, which in due course will destroy the necessity of the present systems of life. Destroy vanity, love of show, and there will be no necessity to engage wage-earning slaves to produce silks and luxuries. Destroy fear, and love of power, wars will stop, and militarisms and Governments will melt. Destroy the devil within man, and the outside nature of incongruities will die out. Lenin might as well answer to this, “Destroy the universe, and God himself, who is the cause of all this, and everything will stop; a madman’s reasoning; an impossibility!”

Many in India are under the impression that the principles of non-violence, and religious transformation in Gandhism, are due to the peculiar circumstances of India; that Gandhism advocates non-violence because violence is not possible here against the Government. Armed revolution being an impossibility, non-violence has become the order of the day. But it is a gross mistake to suppose that. Even if Gandhi were just now to be transferred to the throne of Lenin, he would dissolve the Red Guards, and the Proletarian Dictatorship; he would stop the industrialization of Russia, and give in her hands the spinning wheel and the handloom.

Gandhism has two aspects. One relates to the general evils, common to all human Society, and treats of the solution of problems affecting all. Another aspect treats of the special evil of despotism, and proposes means to do away with it. We have treated of the first aspect. We will treat a little of the second.

If any country is subjected to despotism, whether foreign or native, in what way shall it subvert this despotism? Surely not by a military war, whether possible or not. Gandhism has put forward its plan of ‘non-violent non-cooperation.’ This plan is directly inspired by Tolstoy's plan of ‘non violent non-participation’ for the Russians. Tolstoy’s plan was abandoned by Russia. India has adopted Gandhi’s plan. Instead of giving the plan of Gandhism, we will give that of Tolstoy. On pursuance of it, we will find that it was Tolstoy who ruled the Congress of Calcutta, where the first principles of it were outlined, and Gandhi was his representative! Tolstoy, cast out of Russia, has been born amongst us.

The underlying conception of the plan is simply this, that tyrants tyrannize because the tyrannized slaves participate in the act. Tolstoy gives three comprehensive commandments to a non-violent non-cooperator.

“He should first of all, neither willingly nor under compulsion, take any part in Government activity, and should therefore be neither a soldier, nor a field-marshal, nor a minister of State, nor a tax-collector, nor a witness, nor an elderman, nor a jurymen, nor a governor, nor a member of Parliament, nor in fact hold any office connected with violence. That is one thing.

“Secondly, such a man should not voluntarily pay taxes to Govt., either directly or indirectly, nor should he accept money collected by taxes, either as salary, or as pension, or as a reward, nor should he make use of Government institutions supported by taxes collected by violence from the people.

“Thirdly, a man who desires to promote not his own well-being alone, but to better the position of people in general, should not appeal to Govt. violence for the protection of his possessions in land, or in other things, nor to defend him and his near ones, but should possess land, and all products of his own or other people’s toil, in so far as others do not claim them from him.”

Tolstoy anticipated our moderates, and continuing says, “People will say, ‘But such an activity is impossible; to refuse all participation in Governmental affairs means to refuse to live.' A man who does not pay taxes will be punished, and the tax will be collected from his property; a man, who having no other means of livelihood, refuses Govt. service, will perish of hunger with his family; the same will befall a man who rejects Govt. protection for his property and his person; not to make use of things that are taxed, or of Govt. institutions, is quite impossible, as the most necessary articles are often taxed, and just the same way it is impossible to do without Govt. institutions, such as the posts, roads, etc.”

But there is the cool and deliberate answer of his to this. “Not everyone will be able to do this at once, but as men will begin to feel the consciousness of these things, they will begin to act.1” [Tolstoy: “The slavery of our Times.”]

From the foregoing discussion, it will be clear that Gandhism relies on individual purification, individual consciousness and conviction, and individual action. Gandhism always lays stress upon the necessity of allowing everyone to act according to his conscience. It has unbounded faith in the inherent goodness of human nature, and believes that man, left to himself to act according to his conscience, will work out nothing but the good of himself and of his community. Complete absence of coercion of any kind, and complete freedom of action, find high credence in the elaborate system of Gandhism. (This nearly verges upon the English idea of liberty, that minimum of government control, or coercion, is maximum of individual liberty1.[Seely, “Introduction to Political Science.” Hegel, ‘Philosophy of History.’]) Bolshevism does not believe in the inherent goodness of human nature, but advocates rather maximum of coercion or control (though as a passing phase) to teach man his duty towards the common good of the whole. Gandhism wishes to make a gift to the world of an Indian Empire, a Nationality founded on the basis of Universal Peace (Ahimsa,) peace between man and man, and between man and every sentient creature. It is a fair dream, an earnest ideal. Practical Lenin, with the vision before him of a world-confederacy of the wolfish capitalist militarisms, always ready to shatter the peace of the poor man and of nations, ready to butcher liberty in its very infancy in any form, slowly murmurs, “In the hoary past, the mighty Asoka had set up an Empire, and had tried to rule it according to his principles of Ahimsa, of non-violence2 [See edicts of Asoka.]. Where is that fabric of Ahimsa now? Alas! ruthlessly shattered by the shock and collision of historic forces. Perhaps the Prime Maker of history has ordained that the world should pass through the process of a painful historic development, from the brute to the man. Call upon the mighty nations of the earth to lay down their pride and hate, their sceptres and swords, and with redemptive humility, love and sacrifice, to fight in union the forces of rebarbarization, and they will laugh at you. Return their laugh with a thrash of the sword, with the very implements they have forged, and you will be at peace, or ye shall be captive of their passions! A painful mysterious future, indeed, before us! But once more the land of Buddha has determined to follow Buddhism or Gandhism; may the fabric be not shattered again!!

To recapitulate

Gandhi and Lenin.

Common aim; — To destroy social evils of the day, especially the misery of the poor and to subvert despotism.


Cause.—Modern Civilization, specially modern industrialization and the consequent vices of humanity.


Remedy: — Destroy the spirit of modern civilization and mechanism.


1. Despotism of capital and of every kind must go.

2. Despotism rests on force.

3. The force is made possible and maintained by those who are tyrannized over, by their participation or cooperation with the work of the Army, Taxation, and Law of the despots.

4. Let all non-cooperate, and the edifice will fall.

5. Religion and non-violence alone can do this. For religion will teach the emptiness of modern acquisitions. Violence is usurped by violence: Non-violence will be followed by non-violence, and chaos will be prevented, which is imminent upon the subversion of despotic power as is shown by revolutions in history.

6. When despotism falls at the hand of religion and non-violence, a religious order of Society will be the outcome. Spirit of Religion, conscious of the emptiness of modernization, will necessarily destroy it for the sake of common good. The Law will be the Law of conscience of man and Humanity. Conscience will by its nature work for social good. And evils of capital, labour, and the class war will disappear in such Society. So Purify men.

7. The end is a Society of worshippers of God and Religion, and living according to the dictates of conscience.


Tolstoy →[to] Gandhism

Sphere of Work



Cause: -- Seizure of the means of production, land, etc., by the capitalists, the inequality of wealth, and consequent impoverishment of the proletariat, who form the majority of humanity.


Remedy: -- Keep modern acquisitions, but make them work for the common good, i.e., utilize the surplus value, which now goes to the rich, by nationalizing the means of production.


1. Despotism of capital and of every kind must go.

2. Despotism rests on force.

3. The participation is not willingly given, but is exacted by force, not necessarily supplied from the ranks of the tyrannized.

4. The all will never do so, because the interests of the majority are allied with that of the existing tyranny. The minority alone will work out the downfall, and the majority will follow.

5. Tyranny will not be moved by religion, non-violence, and such other humane motives. Despotism will go so far as to exterminate the whole race of liberators. So it must be undermined and suppressed by its own means and ways. The chaos after the fall is temporary, and men tired of the chaos soon evolve order, as shown by history.

6. The dictates of conscience are vitiated by many external forces, unless it is highly enlightened. It is not found in average men, and requires generations to evolve. So men must be compulsorily made to work for social good, which the capitalists being unwilling to do, the proletariat must do by establishing their Dictatorship. Compulsion will generate a habit to work for common good, and to hold everything for common good. Habit will be turned into an acquired instinct. When the instinct is acquired, the Dictatorship will naturally vanish, being a mere passing phase and instrument.

7. The end is a Society of workers and no idlers, working instinctively for the common good of the whole.

Source. Karl Marx →[to] Bolshevism or Leninism.

Sphere of Work

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Part 3 of 3

CHAPTER IV. “The Armed Blow.”

So far we have discussed the broad underlying principles of Gandhism and Bolshevism. Anybody can see that the complete realization of the theories of both the systems in practical life is an impossibility. Gandhism suffers from too much unwarranted faith in the natural goodness of human nature, while Bolshevism suffers from too much neglect of human interests and sentiments. And so is it that absolute theories, in the process of application to practical life, suffer from modification according to circumstances. The blame does not lie with those who conceive them, but rather with those who receive them. Gandhism advocated, and still advocates, the strictest observation of the law of conscience, everyone to be allowed to act according to the dictates of it. This naturally means that no law passed by a majority can be binding over the minority.1 [Gandhi; Indian Homerule.] If so, then every act of legislation will have to obtain the full consent of every member of the state, failing which there can be no legislation, in fact no government; and the state will have to drift into a philosophical anarchy or Kingdom of God! Absolute theories pushed to the end arrive at such queer results, and yet no one with common sense can say that the advocates of liberty of conscience mean seriously to bring about in practice the latter stage of reasoning. And because such extreme reasoning cannot be brought into practice, Gandhism admits to be bound and guided by congress resolutions and votes of the majority! Even the Bolsheviks, the most uncompromising of political—nay, religious— parties, has to make concessions to the pressing needs of the time. Bolshevism, that would recognize no private property of any kind, has been brought to admit the right of the peasants over their soil and its produce, and thus to recognize the class of peasant proprietors owning private property in land. To be allowed to say, “This is mine,” even of a farthing, or a piece of sod, is a comfort and solace to the human heart, and as long as this great ‘my’, ‘mine’, are not destroyed, no Dictatorship can avail to make man hold anything of his in common for common good1 [As a preparation for the service of common good, or ‘Lokasangraha,’ man must first destroy his ‘Mamatva’, ‘Ahankara,’ or sense of egoism: Geeta.]. However, Bolshevism is a noble and heroic attempt to achieve the ideal. It may fail. But today, at least, it has given to Russia a strong Government, peace and bread, and it is expected that Russia before long will be happy. Bolshevism has subverted the old Czarist despotism, and it will be much profitable if we trace a little the course of events that led the Bolsheviks to power. The study of Revolutions yields very interesting results!

The Czar became an ally of England, France, and the petty quarrelsome states of Southern Europe, and began the Great War of 1914. In truth, the war was not for any high principle or for the professed protection of the liberty of any nation; but it was for the interests of the moneyed high classes, for the protection of their industries and markets, and for the destruction of unfavourable competition. As usual, those for whose interests the war was fought gave it a colour of patriotism, of a struggle for preservation of civilization, and thus duped the people into support of it. The Russians for long were striving for liberty in their own land. Their constitutional agitation had failed. Their terrorist movement had failed. The war gave them the opportunity. The old peasantry, which in times of peace was crushed with repression by Czarist despotism, when it agitated for rights was now turned into a military organization, and it was just the thing that was needed. The long-standing grievance of the peasantry was that they should be allowed to own the lands they cultivated in place of the nobles who never looked to them except for the ruinous taxes and forced labour. The peasantry was denied this right. The war converted this self-same peasantry into a military class, and with it Czardom was doomed.

The intellectuals realized the change, and they set to work. They taught the people that the war was not for them, and if won, it would not benefit them but the high lords, their oppressors. They moved the peasantry to overthrow despotism, and created in them the confidence to do so. To this were added the horrors of scarcity of bread in Russia, and the disastrous defeats at the Front. The cry of the Bolsheviks, the most ardent agitators, became, “Land, Bread and Peace.” With this cry, the Revolution began. And when the command of Czarist despotism to shoot the patriots failed to evoke any answer from the military, on whose strength it had ruled for centuries, the success of the Revolution was assured. “The war assigned the decisive role in the Revolution to the army, and the old army was the peasantry."1 [L. Trotsky. ' History of the Russian Revolution.’]

“Had the Revolution developed more normally that is in conditions of peace-time, such as prevailed in 1912 when it really began, the proletariat would have taken the leading role throughout whilst the peasant masses would have been gradually towed along by the proletariat into the Revolutionary whirlpool. But the war imparted an entirely different logic to the course of events. The army had organised the peasantry not on a political but on a military basis. Immediately the Revolution broke out, the advanced sections of the proletariat revived the traditions of 1905 by calling upon the popular masses to organize in representative bodies viz the “councils’’ of delegates (Soviets.)

The army thus had to send representatives to revolutionary bodies before its political consciousness in any way corresponded to the level of the rapidly developing revolutionary events. Whom could the soldiers send as their representatives? Naturally, only those intellectuals and semi-intellectuals who were to be found in their midst and who possessed at least a minimum amount of political knowledge, and who were capable of giving utterance to it. In this way, by the will of the awakening army, the lower middle-class intellectuals found themselves suddenly raised to a position of enormous influence. Doctors, engineers, lawyers journalists, who in pre-war days led a humdrum private life, and laid no claim of any sort to political influence, became overnight, representatives of whole crops and armies, and discovered that they were the “leaders” of the Revolution. The haziness of their political ideas fully corresponded to the formless state of the revolutionary consciousness of the masses themselves. This half-hearted revolutionary party, raised to power, looked down upon the Bolsheviks contemptuously, and also upon the social demands of the workers and peasants. For a time the new party in power enjoyed respect of the electorates. Immediately the question of the war came before the new Government party, claiming to be representative of the people. But as the party belonged to the middle-class bourgeoisie, they did not possess that hatred for the war as the masses had. And so the party decided upon the continuation of the war. And that was the fatal mistake. The whole army i.e., the peasantry and the workers, were disgusted with the Government of the hazy politicians of the type of Kerensky, who was gradually becoming anti-revolutionary, and other leaders. The Bolsheviks, who so long were in a minority, and were confidently biding their time, and whom the Government of Kerensky was trying to sternly repress, came to the forefront, with their resolute principles and their war-cry,“Land, bread and peace!” This was exactly what the masses wanted, and the new Government, failing to give that, was easily overthrown. Kerensky’s Government failed to satisfy the peasants, and his fall was inevitable.  

To avert the calamity of his fall, Kerensky and his Government ordered the Petrograd Garrison to cantonements on the Front, since that Garrison was the most revolutionary, and opposed to Kerensky and his half-hearted policy. The Congress of the Soviets was to meet on November 7th, and that day was fixed for the Armed Blow of the Bolsheviks which was to have for its object the conquest of the supreme Government authority by the Soviets. The anti-Bolsheviks tried hard to suppress the rising. But the Bolsheviks were supported by the army. “The masses flocked to us irresistibly, and their spirit rose higher and higher. Delegates would arrive from the trenches and ask us, at the sittings of the Petrograd Soviet, 'How long will this unbearable situation last? The soldiers have authorised us to tell you that if by the 15th of November no decisive steps are taken towards the peace, the trenches will be evacuated, and the whole army will march back to the rear!’”

The Bolsheviks decided upon fulfilling their promise of the publication of all secret treaties. The soldiers would exclaim, “you say that full authority should pass into the hands of the Soviet? Then take it. Are you afraid that the front may not support you? Cast aside all doubt; the over-whelming mass of the soldiers are entirely on your side.”

The Bolshevik party appointed a Military Revolutionary Committee which appointed Commissioners to all railway stations. They kept all in-coming and out-going trains under close supervision. A continuous telephonic and motor connection was set up with all the neighbouring towns. The lower ranks of the railway servants at the stations and railway workers gave ready recognition to their Commissioners.

But at the Telephone Exchange on November 6th, the telephone girls came out in opposition to the Soviet. The M. R. Committee sent a detachment and two small guns. So began the seizure of the administrative offices. Sailors and Red Guards were stationed in small detachments at the Telegraph Office, at the Post Office, and other public offices, and measures were taken to gain possession of the State Bank. The Smolny Institute became the Soviet centre, where the M.R.C. sat in permanent session. The moment was drawing near.

On November 7th the Government in Winter Palace seized a Bolshevik paper. The Bolsheviks surrounded the Palace, and thus began the fight. News of the fight was brought to the M.R.C. at the Smolny Institute, and of the first victims on the Bolshevik side. “Everyone rose as though moved by some invisible signal, and with a unanimity, which is only provoked by a deep moral intensity of feeling, sung a Funeral March. He, who lived through this moment, will never forget it. The meeting came to an abrupt end. It was impossible to sit there, calmly discussing the theoretical question as to the method of constructing the Government, with the echo reaching our ears of the fighting and firing at the walls of the Winter Palace.” But the news of the fall and flight of Kerensky arrived. The Bolsheviks had won.

Kerensky tried to storm Petrograd with the help of the ignorant Cossacks, whom he led to believe that the Petrograd garrison was expecting them and longing for their help. But the truth came out, and the Cossacks dispersed.

The Bolsheviks at once followed up their success, resolutely organized the Govt. machinery, and established the Dictatorship of the Workers, Peasants and Soldiers. They concluded peace with Germany, and delivered Russia from destruction. This peace brought upon them the wrath of the English and the French. The invasions of General Denikin and General Wrangel were repelled, for no one could withstand the vigour of the new life of the nation; and Russian Revolution and Liberty once more escaped from falling into the bondage of the capitalist states of Europe. In the earlier campaigns the Red Army, the mainstay of the Bolsheviks, was worsted for want of veteran generals to lead, and skilled hands in the army to help the military manoeuvres, for these were formerly supplied by the old nobility who of course disdained to follow the new masters, their inveterate enemies. But soon the rank and file of the masses produced best generals and best soldiers. The Revolution had produced a new feeling of ardour, a new sense of health and power, which found expression in the enthusiasm of the soldiers. The soldiers did not care to see whether the new Government was a Dictatorship or a Democracy. It was sufficient for them to know that the Government was theirs and that it was threatened. They fought with all the zeal of a religious war. The danger was averted and peace restored.

Since Bolshevism became master of Russia, governments of all countries have been trying to discredit it in the minds of their people by painting it as devilish, atrocious, and despotic. Every move bearing the least resemblance to communist activity is being repressed, and the Bolsheviks are cut off from communicating with the people of any nation. Why is it so? What is the secret reason for this hatred? The reason lies in the avowed international policy of the Bolsheviks. In the Theses presented to the Second Congress of the Third International (of July 1920), there is an article by Lenin called, ‘First Sketch of the theses on National and Colonial Questions.” A passage in it runs thus:—

‘The present world— situation in politics, places on the order of the day, the dictatorship of the proletariat1 [i.e. the working class.]; and all the events of world politics are inevitably concentrated round one centre of gravity! The struggle of the international bourgeoisie2 [i.e. the middle-class capitalists.] against the Soviet Republic,3 [i.e. Republican councils of the working people and peasants.] which inevitably groups round it on the one hand the Sovietist movements of the advanced working men of all countries, on the other hand all the national movements of emancipation of colonies and oppressed nations which have been convinced by a bitter experience that there is no salvation for them except in the victory of the Soviet Government over world-imperialism.

It is henceforth necessary to pursue the realization of the strictest union of all the national and colonial movements of emancipation with Soviet Russia, by giving to this union forms corresponding to the degree of evolution of the proletarian movement1 [Viz. to assist the labour movement of England.] among the proletariat of each country, or of the democratic bourgeois2 [Viz. to assist the movement of emancipation of countries like Ireland, Egypt and India.] movement of emancipation among the workers and peasants of backward countries or backward nationalities.”

Such avowed aggressive international policy, of helping and instigating the labour and peasantry of every country to dispossess capital, has naturally aroused the hatred of the capitalist states of the world towards Soviet Russia. In accordance with this policy, and in conformity with his promise ‘to answer the guns of Germany with his leaflets,’ Lenin succeeded in overthrowing much of capitalism in Germany, and helping the socialist labour in that country. The same danger (!) threatened all the other capitalist states of Europe. America and Japan were too far away to seriously think of the Russian Soviet programme. So England, France and other states hastened to avert the danger to their capitalist classes, and the speedy and best method they thought of was to make war upon Russia on her own soil, and put an end to the Soviet Government with all the fruits of the Revolution. Had Karl Marx been alive, he would have called it a war for the preservation and protection of a class of murderers! Napoleon had failed to carry war to the heart of Russia, with all his powers of a great general. So also Germany with her best generals and army could not do it. What these had attempted vainly, England and France hoped to achieve through the dwarf-intellects of General Wrangel and General Denikin.

England had never shown her readiness to learn lessons from History. Otherwise the ghost of distracted Napoleon, with the flower of his army buried in the snows of the heart of Russia, would have foreshadowed the result of the campaigns of the two generals. But it was not to be; and the expected happened. Armies of exhausted [in] England and France were no match for the Reds of Lenin, fired with all the enthusiasm of a Revolution, and of a feeling that the Govt. was theirs, and that it was in danger. The war ended with disgrace for both the countries. Just so England had tried to kill the French Revolution in 1793, and had succeeded after a struggle of twenty-two years in 1815. But in 1918, a century later the same move failed. And why? A century means much to the bravery and spirit of a nation, embarked on the mad policy of acquisition. A century from 1815 to 1918 meant that England could not kill the Russian Revolution!!

However, the confederacy was dissolved and peace concluded. The Bolsheviks have fulfilled their promises. “Land, Bread and Peace,” they have given to Russia. According to the prophesy of their Guru, Karl Marx, they had expected a confederacy. But they succeeded in destroying it. They have given a strong and capable Government to Russia, which is just the need of any country that has passed through a Revolution. Dictatorship of the Bolsheviks, or rather of Lenin, is now the Government of Russia. A little picture of the Dictator will not be out of place here. We will quote the words of one who had seen him and spoken with him. “Soon after my arrival in Moscow, I had an hour's conversation with Lenin in English, which he speaks fairly well. An interpreter was present, but his services were scarcely required. Lenin’s room is very bare; it contains a big desk, some maps on the walls, two book cases, and one comfortable chair for visitors, in addition to two or three hard chairs. It is obvious that he has no love of luxury or even comfort. He is very friendly, and apparently simple, entirely without a trace of hauteur. If one met him without knowing who he he was, one would not guess that he is possessed of great power, or even that he is in any way eminent. I have never met a personage so destitute of self-importance. (Seems to be a Gandhian in this respect!) He looks at his visitors very closely, and screws up one eye, which seems to increase alarmingly the penetrating power of the other. He laughs a great deal; at first his laugh seems merely friendly and jolly, but gradually I came to feel it rather grim. He is dictatorial, calm, incapable of fear, extraordinarily devoid of self seeking, an embodied theory ... His strength comes, I imagine, from his honesty, courage, and unwavering faith — religious faith in the Marxian gospel, which takes the place of the Christian martyr's hopes of Paradise."1 [Bertrand Russell had been to Russia on behalf of the Labour Deputation and had an interview with Lenin. Russell is not a whole-hearted communist. (The italics are ours.) ] Dictatorial, calm, incapable of fear, extraordinarily devoid of self-seeking, an embodied theory! There is no wonder if such a man, ere long hunted from place to place and compelled to live an underground life, should become the Sovereign, the Dictator of Russia!

Has the Russian Revolution any significance in the History of Mankind? Or is it simply a spectacle of mean scrambling for political power on the part of ambitious parties wending their way to the throne through bloodshed of man? Wars and Revolutions there have been, but many of them would not have been there but for the comprice of vain monarchs, or for the interests of a class of power-hunters. Does the Russian Revolution belong to the same category, or has it something new to announce to the world, as the French Revolution had? Let us see.

There are two institutions on the common platform of which men unite with a common purpose. And the two institutions are Religion and the State. The first is designed to promote the moral development of the human soul, and we may term this institution as an invisible, non-material plan, in which men unite subjectively. The State is designed to promote the interests of man external to himself, of his interests in things, which cannot identify themselves with or assimilate in his personality or Idea. And this second institution is a material, visible plan, in which men unite objectively. Yet each in itself contributes to the development of the other, and sometimes Religion has completely dominated the State, and sometimes the State has dominated Religion. The two are interdependent, but we are speaking only of the State mechanism and revolutions in its construction. The idea of this instrument or institution for the objective unity of interests in men has gone through many stages of evolution, and one of the most despotic, poisonous, hard-dying stage was that completed by the French Revolution. That Revolution completed one phase of the idea about the State Mechanism as to who should be the director of it. The idea that the possession of authority should be in the hands of one man, assisted by high grandees, was destroyed, and in 1793, the new idea of the possession being transferred to the people, the ordinary citizen, was heralded, and the work of destruction was begun. To complete the work begun by 1793, Europe required [one] hundred and twenty five years, i.e., the year 1918 had to dawn until History saw the work of destruction begun by 1793 perfectly accomplished, at least in Europe. The Russian Revolution is at once an end and a beginning. It is an end of the work of destroying absolutism in the high state-lords. But it also heralds a new period. The Fr. Revolution stage tried to give the authority in the State in the hands of the ordinary citizen, but in course of events it went into the hands of the middle-class intellectuals, or the bourgeoisie, and the overwhelming mass of ordinary citizens remained just as it was before the period. The Russian Revolution is a beginning of the destruction of this 'bourgeois period,' and heralds a new day of the 'labour period.' This is the significance of the Bolshevik Revolution. So from Serfdom to Bourgeois-slavery, and from Bourgeois-slavery to the Soviet or Labour period; such are the stages of evolution in the Idea of the State Mechanism, the symbol of the objective unity of human interests.

CHAPTER V: The Indian Revolution.

We have remained too much in the foreign land of Russia, and perhaps talked too much over it. But we hope to be excused on the ground that not only we, but the wisest heads in all nations, are being irresistibly drawn towards that country by its latest noble and heroic success, and the new stage in History that it announces. Another reason is that a forbidden fruit is the most tempting. Our high master-grinders try to discredit every move of ours by calling it a “Bolshevik move.” If the people of India wish to retain their Paradise, they must be kept away from this forbidden fruit, 'Bolshevism'. But while our high masters pose to act as angels to keep us away from it, secretly they act the Satan, driving us towards the forbidden fruit! Simply, the Satan of the old story did it more gently by simply whispering. These of today lash us on the way!

What is the prospect before us? We are embarked on the struggle for independence, and how do we hope to win it? Our constitutional agitation has accomplished almost nothing beyond arousing the nation. We now want a Revolution, surely not with an “Armed Blow,” a Revolution that is the most radical and sweeping change. The theoretical plan of accomplishing it we have noticed in the third chapter. Let us try to see in what position we will drift when we put it into practice.

First, with regard to the movement of spinning and weaving on the charka, which in the hyperbolical language is styled as our ‘munitions' for battle. What will this move bring about? One thing. It will irritate the English capitalists and English labour. Food and Clothing are the two thirds that eat up the greatest part of man’s income, or require the greatest expenditure of the wealth of a nation for their production. As for food, India is self-sufficient, at least to the extent that it does not drain our wealth. But for clothing we have to depend upon England. It drains sixty crores of rupees yearly from our country. If the movement of spinning and weaving succeeds, it will make India richer by sixty crores yearly, and England poorer by the same amount. By it the English capitalists will lose their profits, and the English labour will lose employment worth that much amount. Then how is it that British labour professes hearty support to our movement? The reason is simple. The labour of that country is at present employed in a death-struggle with the capitalists. The meaning of the struggle will be clear if we will see in whose hands the greatest part of the wealth of England is locked: --

Mr. Pathick Lawrence has distributed the private wealth of the United Kingdom in 1913-14 among the rich, comfortable and poor classes in the following proportions.

Rich (owners of more than £ 10,000): 64 p.c. of the aggregate wealth.

Comfortable (owners of between £ 1,000 and £ 10,000): 24 p.c. of the aggregate wealth.

Poor (owners of less than £ 1,000): 12 p.c. of the aggregate wealth.

But by how many persons is this 64% of the aggregate wealth held?

Percentage of population: -- Rich: 2 per cent.

Comfortable: 10 per cent.

Poor: 88 per cent.

So we see that 64% of the whole wealth is enjoyed by only 2% of the population, 24% by 10% of the population and only 12% by 88% of the population. The labour of England means this 88% and its struggle means to get a share in the enormous volume of 64% held by the capitalists. As long as the British labour is not given a share in this enormous volume, it will help the Indian movement, because by our struggle we are harassing the British capitalists also, and thus helping the Labour movement of England. So it will be clear that the Labour party of England is professing sympathy for us not from any philanthropic motives, or from an inherent liking for liberty of other nations. It is a sympathy generating from quite selfish motives. The Indian labour interests, and the British labour interests, are mutually opposed. Independent India would mean full development of our industries in all branches and an efficient, organized labour. That in turn would mean a stop to the vast mass of the expenditure of British labour that is now employed for the needs of India. So sooner or later we will have to struggle with the Labour party also if it comes into power in Parliament, by ousting the present capitalist powers. This much is the meaning of the spinning and weaving movement in the programme of Non-co-operation. Suppose it fails to create a political crisis in the movement of labour vs. capital in England, what is our next weapon? Because we are quite conscious of the limitations of this move. At the most it will feed the poor by giving them work, and make India richer by sixty crores.

But what shall be our next step? The great power of England cannot be shaken by such a feeble blow. Have we then no future? We have. We have this before us. “A race which is suffering from the oppression of an alien conqueror could win its freedom without any resort to force or armed violence. First, the people must become convinced of the necessity of freedom, and that accomplished, they must decline any longer to co-operate in the administration of the foreign power. Instead, they must build up their own State within the State of those who have arrogated the role of rulers. Before long, if the people are united, the external state must crumble to pieces as the inner State grows in fullness. The alien Government may have enormous armies, machine-guns, tanks, poison-gas, aeroplanes, and bombs, but even by the most remorseless use of them it could never defeat resistance of this character. It may kill, but the very dead will work for its overthrow.” We are convinced of the necessity for freedom. That accomplished, we are trying to build an inner State. How? The alien State creates a moral prestige through its Educational and Legal Institutions. If the feelings of awe and obedience created through them are destroyed, the alien Government becomes morally extinct. This we have accomplished by the movement of the boycott of schools, and colleges, and Law Courts. We know that the boycott is not complete, but even the partial success has created the necessary feeling of considering the institutions as worthless and has destroyed the feeling of awe towards Government authority. The moral ground destroyed, on what then does it rest now? Essentially, on its military basis. The British Government in India is morally extinct; now only the military Government is existing by which we are coerced into submission to it. This militarism is maintained by us with our men and money. The army of the Indian Government is roughly three lacs of men, out of which two lacs are supplied by our native races. In our struggle, will these two lacs hold themselves aloof from the Government and refuse action? If we refuse taxes to the Government, and if the Government decides upon terrorism as they are doing in Ireland, will the native army work or refuse? The ranks of the natives are filled in by men from United Provinces, the Punjab, Nepal, and Bhutan, and by some Pathan tribes. As Prof. Seely expects, if the nationality movement gains the native army, the British Empire in India will be at an end. “For we are not really conquerors of India, and we cannot rule her as conquerors; if we undertook to do so, it is not necessary to enquire whether we could succeed, for we should assuredly be ruined financially by the mere attempt.” Even Mahatma Gandhi believes that the native army will refuse work, and says, “One lac of Europeans without our help can only hold less than one-seventh of our villages each, and it would be difficult for one man, even when physically present, to impose his will on say, four-hundred men and women -- the average population of an Indian village.”1 [Young India, March 30, 1921.] The last item of Gandhian programme is this. “We shall continue patiently to educate them (masses) politically till they are ready for safe action. As soon as we feel reasonably confident of non violence continuing among them, in spite of provoking executions, we shall certainly call upon the sepoy to lay down his arms, and the peasantry to suspend payment of taxes. We are hoping that that time may never have to be reached. We shall have no stone unturned to avoid such a serious step. But we will not flinch when the moment has come and the need has arisen.”2 [Young India, March 9, 1921.]

We are quite sure that the final step cannot be avoided. But we are diffident about the native army. The greater part of it is supplied by the Gurkhas, the Punjabis, and the Pathans. Except the Punchabees, there is not the slightest chance of the nationality movement reaching these races, and affecting them to an extent that they would lay down their arms at our orders. So our work of building the inner State must proceed without caring for the army. It can be done by the National Congress only. By the new constitution, even the smallest units of the country, the villages, will be directly affected by the Congress activity. The one crore members of the Congress must be men who will not flinch when the moment comes. The Congress must evolve its own ministries of Education, Law, and Order. The Congress must become the sovereign power of the nation. Then the final command for suspension of payment of taxes will go forth; and the true, earnest struggle shall begin. Men of real worth will be tested in that final phase. The Government will not shrink from terrorism, as it has not shrunk from it in Ireland. All the atrocities committed in Ireland will be related here. Large town-areas like Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, will be coerced into submission by a very simple act, that of stopping the water-supply. As for the peasantry and village-areas, they will be hunted down with all the instruments of war easily available, since the Govt. is a strong military power. And moreover the peasantry is always scattered over a large area, and therefore unable to do any concerted action. Village by village will be lashed to submission and obeyance to the oppressors. Then, where is our hope? We cannot expect that every man will have the courage single-handed to bear everything mutely and still be faithful to the Congress mandate, to the nation’s command, when his house, his wife, his children shall be insulted, flogged, and persecuted before his very eyes! After all we are human beings. Then? There is one remedy. The terrorism will be paralised by only one thing. And it lies in the hands of Indian labour. The army-movements in terrorism, and their success, will depend mainly upon the speedy transport of the soldiers from one centre to another, and of transport of foodstuffs and ammunition for the army. All this is done by Indian labour. If at the extreme moment the Indian labour refuses to work in a solid mass, if the railwayman, telegraph men, coolies, and all sorts of labourers refuse to cooperate with the govt. i.e,, arrange, what is called a sabotage, our success will be assured. The whole movement of govt. terrorism will be paralyzed, and it will have to yield. The sepoy may not lay down his arms, terrorism of the govt. may become financially possible contrary to the expectations of Seely, schools and colleges may not be emptied, and merchants may not stop the foreign trade; but when the final command to suspend paying taxes shall go forth, if the Indian labour will not flinch and do its duty, we will succeed. So side by side with the education of the peasantry must be done the work of organizing our labour and educating it. The labour organization and education is a more hopeful task, because the labourers always are found in large town-areas and in enormous units; a fermenting political atmosphere prevails in such large cities, which makes them susceptible to rapid changes, while the nature of their work makes them habituated to concerted action. This characteristic makes us confident to say that an organized Indian labour will not fail us at the time of action; it is our dire necessity. If we win, we will win only by the help of the proletariat, i.e., the labourers and peasantry. They are our main support. We care neither for the middle-class, nor for the corrupt intellectuals.

No one requires to be told that all this sabotage of the workers, our defence from terrorism by satyagraha, our building the inner State until the outer crumbles down automatically, is to proceed without any violence or disorder. Of course, when the huge mass of population of the Indian continent is to move for action, there is bound to be some violence and some disorder. But that would be nothing compared to those scenes with which mankind has become familiar in history. We are sure this our so-called violence will be nothing when considered by the side of Cromwell’s execution of Charles I, or the guillotine-rumbling of the Fr. Revolution. History cries out hoarsely to all these words. ‘It is the nature of the Devil of tyranny to tear and rend the body, which he leaves ... If it were possible that a people brought under an intolerant and arbitrary system could subvert that system without acts of cruelty and folly, half the objections against despotic power would be removed ....We deplore the outrages that accompany revolutions. But the more violent the outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary. The violence of those outrages will always be proportioned to the ferocity, and ignorance of the people will be proportioned to the oppression and degradation under which they have been accustomed to live... If our rulers suffered from popular ignorance, it was because they themselves had taken away the key of knowledge. If they were assailed with blind fury, it was because they had exacted an equally blind submission.”1 [Macaulay 'Milton’, p. 40.] But after this was written, the methods of warfare have made much progress, and the method of non-violent opposition has come in vogue. We are sure our later historians will not have an occasion to write in this strain about us!

Some of our readers may charge us of being in a dream, and writing of a dream, that we may have seen of the future of India. Some may say, “No use talking of the future. Do the work near at hand.” To the former we will say that every ideal and every plan is a dream until it becomes a realized fact. Every plan of action to be done at the moment, next to the one that is actually passing, is speculation, dreaming. Thus every moment man is dreaming. We have only added together, end to end, many such moments, forming days and months at a stretch, and are dreaming about the plan for that much length of time. The greatest dreaming of a fabulous length of time and action is Idealism. To the latter we will say, “we must start work with a clear idea of what we will have to suffer, and to what length and sphere our activities may extend. It is no use starting the work nearest at hand, and turn back half-way, when the terrors of the future are revealed with all their hideousness. We must calculate upon the worst first, and with a clear idea of it start on, which gives greater courage and greater enduring power.”

Only one point now and we finish. In Swaraj (really a dream to some) we will be faced with the problem of labour vs. capital, and the agricultural problem. We must give preference of consideration to these problems first. For we shall win only with the help of the peasantry and labour, who will naturally expect an end of their miseries after emancipation. The spinning wheel alone will not solve the labour problem of modern civilization. We cannot accept the communist plan, in all details, because it is too much fraught with coercion and violence. It must be accepted to this extent, that great concerns like railways, mines, and vast factory plants, may be nationalized or controlled by the State, as even today they are being done in some countries. But how to prevent accumulation of capital in the the hands of a few through speculation and such other means? We may try the following remedy for this. We may fix upon a maximum amount of wealth that an individual may be allowed to possess. Let us take an example of a family man of our day: A man, with a family of say at least four members requires a hundred and fifty rupees to live an honourable decent and happy life without any cares. Of course he is expected to have ambition, to provide something for his children, to have more luxuries of a happier life. The State must allow his powers of working out his ambition free play. But this ambition must be curtailed at some point. The State must stop him at a point where he may be judged to have become “very luxurious” according to the standard of average life of luxuriousness. The standard will vary according to the notions of each man. But we think, in India, we may as well stop a man accumulating beyond one lac of rupees. When this maximum amount has been earned, the man may either stop his activity of earning, or should devote the surplus to the State to be utilized for common good. This is only a suggestion. We have much time to think over its application and efficacy to solve the problem; because we must only think until we get Swaraj!

The Second problem. It is well-known that the agricultural land of India in most parts is accumulated in the hands of great landlords or zamindars, who impoverish the peasants by high taxation, and that the fruits of the peasant’s honest toil goes to the idle, unproductive land-owners. The following figures will explain how the greatest part of agricultural land is divided into a few estates owned by capitalistic zamindars: —  

Acres of land. / No. of estates in which the land is divided.

25 million acres / 90 estates (of course one estate is an ownership of one zemindar.)
73 million acres / 2000 estates (of course one estate is an ownership of one zemindar.)
187 million acres / 1/2 million estates (of course one estate is an ownership of one zemindar.)
30 million acres / 19 million estates (of course one estate is an ownership of one zemindar.)

So we can see that there are only 19 million peasants, who are independent peasant-proprietors, and to their poor lot falls the bit of 30 million acres, a little more than one and a half acre for one peasant-proprietor. The remaining acreage is cultivated by farmers who cannot be proprietors, but are temporary tenants or lease-holders, whose real profit is swallowed by the zamindars, and who can be turned out at their sweet will. The misery of the farmers can be solved only be breaking up the large estates into small holdings and turning them into peasant-proprietorships. Even in Europe the same policy is being followed. “The accepted policy in all the agricultural and thickly populated countries of Europe, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, is the break up of large estates, and the promotion of small holding schemes by the State. It is by the break-up of large estates, and conversion of a landless, oppressed, indebted, and impoverished tenantry into a thrifty, free, and flourishing class of peasant-proprietors, owning land in small and medium sized farms, in conjunction with the organization of rural credit" that we can hold and keep agricultural India in peace and prosperity. Surely by these reforms we shall displease the zemindars and capitalists. But for some years to come, we must face every unjust displeasure. In the end we will triumph, we will be free, we will make the oppressed people free, for ours is a cause of justice, of rights, and of Religion. With this we defy all.

APPENDIX A: How Capitalism robs!

Two examples cited by Mr. C. F. Andrews.

One is that of a modern capitalist, who is said to have bought up all the bricks in the neighbourhood of one of the greatest cities in India, and then, having obtained the monopoly, to have raised immediately the price of building material by 200 per cent.

Let us look a transaction like that squarely in the face. We know how during the present housing crisis in Bombay and elsewhere, the one immediately necessary step to be taken is to create room for expansion in order to relieve the congested slum districts. Most vital moral issues depend on this being done quickly; for immorality breeds in slums. Yet, in the very face of this urgent social demand, here is one individual who can hinder the whole of that necessary building expansion, and hold it up indefinitely by clever manipulation of the money market. Such a man is considered supremely lucky by his neighbours if he succeeds in effecting his object. There appears to be nothing disgraceful in it. On the contrary, his new wealth brings him a thousand fresh admirers. But if we read the parable of Christ aright, God is saying to him, all the while —  

“Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

Second; It has been recently reported to me that a certain firm in Calcutta started business before the war, and was only moderately successful. The shares had slowly risen from 100 to 145, and the rate of interest had slowly risen also. The price paid for the jute to the cultivator had also risen side by side with the prosperity of the jute business. At the outbreak of war, the cultivator could obtain 13 rupees 8 annas per maund for the jute. So far nothing abnormal had happened. But during the war, and after the war, the expenses of the jute cultivator had rapidly increased, and therefore, in justice, he should have demanded more money in return for his labour. Indeed, in order to live at the same rate as before the war, he would need to spend at least twice as much money. He ought, therefore, to be getting not much less than thirty rupees per maund for his jute. But as a matter of fact the opposite of this has taken place. In the years 1914-1920, the jute shares in this company went up from 145 to 1160. The interest paid on the capital invested in the company went up from 15 per cent before the war to 160 per cent. But the price paid to the jute cultivator went down, from 13 rupees 8 annas before the war to six rupees in the year 1920!

We have to understand that here in India itself, and all over the world, the destructive powers which can be wrought under the capitalistic system, when unrestricted, are so great that in their cumulative effects they have far exceeded the violence of revolutionary mobs and predatory powers at open war with one another. The problem of the modern age is to curb these wild excesses of unrestricted capital without destroying or weakening those forces of enterprise and initiative which are vitally necessary for progress.

APPENDIX B: Some interesting figures.

Prices of Foodstuffs (in seers per rupee)

Name of Food / 1857 / 1890 / 1918

Wheat / 39 / 25 / 5.5
Gram / 51.5 / 28 / 7
Rice / 18.5 / 12 / 4
Milk / 160 / 64 / 4

APPENDIX C. Export of living Animals from India.

1901 / 1906 / 1911 / 1912 / 1916

3,20,835 / 3,16,996 / 5,27,706 / 5,44,588 / 3,34,310

Value in £
1,42,634 / 1,50,877 / 1,82,787 / 2,22,200 / 1,59,287

[“In our life’s struggle, our cattle form our primary mainstay. Their milk constitutes our principal food from the day that we are born to the day that we die. It also forms our chief source of nutrition. The cattle forms practically our only beast of burden. It carries us from place to place, and carries our merchandise too. Agriculture is wholly dependent on our cattle.” Yet the Government pursues the policy of exporting them, and of sending them to slaughter-houses. Advantages of British Government in India!!]  
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Ethical movement [Ethical Culture Movement] [Ethical Humanism] [Ethical Culture] [Ethical Church Movement]
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Accessed: 4/18/20

Ethical Movement
The Ethical Human logo of the Ethical Culture/Ethical Humanist movement, its most widely used symbol
Scripture None
Headquarters: New York City
Founder: Felix Adler
Origin: 1877
Congregations: about 30
Number of followers: Less than 10,000 (2014)[1]
Official website

The Ethical movement, also referred to as the Ethical Culture movement, Ethical Humanism or simply Ethical Culture, is an ethical, educational, and religious movement that is usually traced back to Felix Adler (1851–1933).[2] Individual chapter organizations are generically referred to as "Ethical Societies", though their names may include "Ethical Society", "Ethical Culture Society", "Society for Ethical Culture", "Ethical Humanist Society", or other variations on the theme of "Ethical".

The Ethical movement is an outgrowth of secular moral traditions in the 19th century, principally in Europe and the United States. While some in this movement went on to organise for a non-congregational secular humanist movement, others attempted to build a secular moral movement that was emphatically "religious" in its approach to developing humanist ethical codes, in the sense of encouraging congregational structures and religious rites and practices. While in the United States, these movements formed as separate education organisations (the American Humanist Association and the American Ethical Union), the American Ethical Union's British equivalents, the South Place Ethical Society and the British Ethical Union consciously moved away from a congregational model to become Conway Hall and Humanists UK respectively. Subsequent "godless" congregational movements include the Sunday Assembly, whose London chapter has used Conway Hall as a venue since 2013.

At the international level, Ethical Culture and secular humanist groups have always organised jointly; the American Ethical Union and British Ethical Union were founding members of Humanists International, whose original name "International Humanist and Ethical Union" reflected the movement's unity.

Ethical Culture is premised on the idea that honoring and living in accordance with ethical principles is central to what it takes to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, and to creating a world that is good for all. Practitioners of Ethical Culture focus on supporting one another in becoming better people, and on doing good in the world.[3][4]



The Ethical movement was an outgrowth of the general loss of faith among the intellectuals of the Victorian era. A precursor to the doctrines of the ethical movement can be found in the South Place Ethical Society, founded in 1793 as the South Place Chapel on Finsbury Square, on the edge of the City of London.[5]

The Fabian Society was an outgrowth from the Fellowship of the New Life.

In the early nineteenth century, the chapel became known as "a radical gathering-place".[6] At that point it was a Unitarian chapel, and that movement, like Quakers, supported female equality.[7] Under the leadership of Reverend William Johnson Fox,[8] it lent its pulpit to activists such as Anna Wheeler, one of the first women to campaign for feminism at public meetings in England, who spoke in 1829 on "Rights of Women." In later decades, the chapel moved away from Unitarianism, changing its name first to the South Place Religious Society, then the South Place Ethical Society (a name it held formally, though it was better known as Conway Hall from 1929) and is now Conway Hall Ethical Society.

The Fellowship of the New Life was established in 1883 by the Scottish intellectual Thomas Davidson.[9] Fellowship members included poets Edward Carpenter and John Davidson, animal rights activist Henry Stephens Salt,[10] sexologist Havelock Ellis, feminist Edith Lees (who later married Ellis), novelist Olive Schreiner[11] and Edward R. Pease.

Its objective was "The cultivation of a perfect character in each and all." They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow. Davidson was a major proponent of a structured philosophy about religion, ethics, and social reform.[12]

At a meeting on 16 November 1883, a summary of the society’s goals was drawn up by Maurice Adams:

We, recognizing the evils and wrongs that must beset men so long as our social life is based upon selfishness, rivalry, and ignorance, and desiring above all things to supplant it by a life based upon unselfishness, love, and wisdom, unite, for the purpose of realizing the higher life among ourselves, and of inducing and enabling others to do the same. And we now form ourselves into a Society, to be called the Guild [Fellowship] of the New Life, to carry out this purpose.[13]

Although the Fellowship was a short-lived organization, it spawned the Fabian Society, which split in 1884 from the Fellowship of the New Life.[14][15]

Ethical movement

Felix Adler, founder of the ethical movement.

In his youth, Felix Adler was being trained to be a rabbi like his father, Samuel Adler, the rabbi of the Reform Jewish Temple Emanu-El in New York. As part of his education, he enrolled at the University of Heidelberg, where he was influenced by neo-Kantian philosophy. He was especially drawn to the Kantian ideas that one could not prove the existence or non-existence of deities or immortality and that morality could be established independently of theology.[16]

During this time he was also exposed to the moral problems caused by the exploitation of women and labor. These experiences laid the intellectual groundwork for the ethical movement. Upon his return from Germany, in 1873, he shared his ethical vision with his father's congregation in the form of a sermon. Due to the negative reaction he elicited it became his first and last sermon as a rabbi in training.[17] Instead he took up a professorship at Cornell University and in 1876 gave a follow up sermon that led to the 1877 founding of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, which was the first of its kind.[16] By 1886, similar societies had sprouted up in Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis.[17]

These societies all adopted the same statement of principles:

• The belief that morality is independent of theology;
• The affirmation that new moral problems have arisen in modern industrial society which have not been adequately dealt with by the world's religions;
• The duty to engage in philanthropy in the advancement of morality;
• The belief that self-reform should go in lock step with social reform;
• The establishment of republican rather than monarchical governance of Ethical societies
• The agreement that educating the young is the most important aim.

In effect, the movement responded to the religious crisis of the time by replacing theology with unadulterated morality. It aimed to "disentangle moral ideas from religious doctrines, metaphysical systems, and ethical theories, and to make them an independent force in personal life and social relations."[17] Adler was also particularly critical of the religious emphasis on creed, believing it to be the source of sectarian bigotry. He therefore attempted to provide a universal fellowship devoid of ritual and ceremony, for those who would otherwise be divided by creeds. For the same reasons the movement also adopted a neutral position on religious beliefs, advocating neither atheism nor theism, agnosticism nor deism.[17]

Ethical Culture School (red) and Ethical Culture Society (white) buildings.

The Adlerian emphasis on "deed not creed" translated into several public service projects. The year after it was founded, the New York society started a kindergarten, a district nursing service and a tenement-house building company. Later they opened the Ethical Culture School, then called the "Workingman's School," a Sunday school and a summer home for children, and other Ethical societies soon followed suit with similar projects. Unlike the philanthropic efforts of the established religious institutions of the time, the Ethical societies did not attempt to proselytize those they helped. In fact, they rarely attempted to convert anyone. New members had to be sponsored by existing members, and women were not allowed to join at all until 1893. They also resisted formalization, though nevertheless slowly adopted certain traditional practices, like Sunday meetings and life cycle ceremonies, yet did so in a modern humanistic context. In 1893, the four existing societies unified under the umbrella organization, the American Ethical Union.[17]

After some initial success the movement stagnated until after World War II. In 1946 efforts were made to revitalize and societies were created in New Jersey and Washington D.C., along with the inauguration of the Encampment for Citizenship. By 1968 there were thirty societies with a total national membership of over 5,500. However, the resuscitated movement differed from its predecessor in a few ways. The newer groups were being created in suburban locales and often to provide alternative Sunday schools for children, with adult activities as an afterthought.

There was also a greater focus on organization and bureaucracy, along with an inward turn emphasizing the needs of the group members over the more general social issues that had originally concerned Adler. The result was a transformation of American ethical societies into something much more akin to small Christian congregations in which the minister's most pressing concern is to tend to his or her flock.[17]

In the 21st century, the movement continued to revitalize itself through social media and involvement with other Humanist organizations, with mixed success. As of 2014, there were fewer than 10,000 official members of the Ethical movement.[18]

In Britain

Stanton Coit led the ethical movement in Britain.

In 1885 the ten-year-old American Ethical Culture movement helped to stimulate similar social activity in Great Britain, when American sociologist John Graham Brooks distributed pamphlets by Chicago ethical society leader William Salter to a group of British philosophers, including Bernard Bosanquet, John Henry Muirhead, and John Stuart MacKenzie.

One of Felix Adler's colleagues, Stanton Coit, visited them in London to discuss the "aims and principles" of their American counterparts. In 1886 the first British ethical society was founded. Coit took over the leadership of South Place for a few years. Ethical societies flourished in Britain. By 1896 the four London societies formed the Union of Ethical Societies, and between 1905 and 1910 there were over fifty societies in Great Britain, seventeen of which were affiliated with the Union. Part of this rapid growth was due to Coit, who left his role as leader of South Place in 1892 after being denied the power and authority he was vying for.

Because he was firmly entrenched in British ethicism, Coit remained in London and formed the West London Ethical Society, which was almost completely under his control. Coit worked quickly to shape the West London society not only around Ethical Culture but also the trappings of religious practice, renaming the society in 1914 to the Ethical Church. He transformed his meetings into services, and their space into something akin to a church. In a series of books Coit also began to argue for the transformation of the Anglican Church into an Ethical Church, while holding up the virtue of ethical ritual. He felt that the Anglican Church was in the unique position to harness the natural moral impulse that stemmed from society itself, as long as the Church replaced theology with science, abandoned supernatural beliefs, expanded its bible to include a cross-cultural selection of ethical literature and reinterpreted its creeds and liturgy in light of modern ethics and psychology. His attempt to reform the Anglican church failed, and ten years after his death in 1944, the Ethical Church building was sold to the Roman Catholic Church.[17]

During Stanton Coit's lifetime, the Ethical Church never officially affiliated with the Union of Ethical Societies, nor did South Place. In 1920 the Union of Ethical Societies changed its name to the Ethical Union.[19] Harold Blackham, who had taken over leadership of the London Ethical Church, consciously sought to remove the church-like trappings of the Ethical movement, and advocated a simple creed of humanism that was not akin to a religion. He promoted the merger of the Ethical Union with the Rationalist Press Association and the South Place Ethical Society, and, in 1957, a Humanist Council was set up to explore amalgamation. Although issues over charitable status prevented a full amalgamation, the Ethical Union under Blackham changed its name in 1967 to become the British Humanist Association – establishing humanism as the principle organising force for non-religious morals and secularist advocacy in Britain. The BHA was the legal successor body to the Union of Ethical Societies.[20]

Between 1886 and 1927 seventy-four ethical societies were started in Great Britain, although this rapid growth did not last long. The numbers declined steadily throughout the 1920s and early 30s, until there were only ten societies left in 1934. By 1954 there were only four. The situation became such that in 1971, sociologist Colin Campbell even suggested that one could say, "that when the South Place Ethical Society discussed changing its name to the South Place Humanist society in 1969, the English ethical movement ceased to exist."[17]

The organisations spawned by the 19th century Ethical movement would later live on as the British humanist movement. The South Place Ethical Society eventually changed its name Conway Hall Ethical Society, after Moncure D. Conway, and is typically known as simply "Conway Hall". In 2017, the British Humanist Association again changed its name, becoming Humanists UK. Both organisations are part of Humanists International, which had been founded by Harold Blackham in 1952 as the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Ethical perspective

Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture building on Prospect Park West, originally designed by architect William Tubby as a home for William H. Childs (inventor of Bon Ami Cleaning Powder)

While Ethical Culturists generally share common beliefs about what constitutes ethical behavior and the good, individuals are encouraged to develop their own personal understanding of these ideas. This does not mean that Ethical Culturists condone moral relativism, which would relegate ethics to mere preferences or social conventions. Ethical principles are viewed as being related to deep truths about the way the world works, and hence not arbitrary. However, it is recognized that complexities render the understanding of ethical nuances subject to continued dialogue, exploration, and learning.

While the founder of Ethical Culture, Felix Adler, was a transcendentalist, Ethical Culturists may have a variety of understandings as to the theoretical origins of ethics. Key to the founding of Ethical Culture was the observation that too often disputes over religious or philosophical doctrines have distracted people from actually living ethically and doing good. Consequently, "Deed before creed" has long been a motto of the movement.[4][21]

Religious aspect

Pews and stained glass

Functionally, Ethical Societies are similar to churches or synagogues and are headed by "leaders" as clergy. Ethical Societies typically have Sunday morning meetings, offer moral instruction for children and teens, and do charitable work and social action. They may offer a variety of educational and other programs. They conduct weddings, commitment ceremonies, baby namings, and memorial services.

Individual Ethical Society members may or may not believe in a deity or regard Ethical Culture as their religion. Felix Adler said "Ethical Culture is religious to those who are religiously minded, and merely ethical to those who are not so minded." The movement does consider itself a religion in the sense that

Religion is that set of beliefs and/or institutions, behaviors and emotions which bind human beings to something beyond their individual selves and foster in its adherents a sense of humility and gratitude that, in turn, sets the tone of one’s world-view and requires certain behavioral dispositions relative to that which transcends personal interests.[22]

The Ethical Culture 2003 ethical identity statement states:

It is a chief belief of Ethical religion that if we relate to others in a way that brings out their best, we will at the same time elicit the best in ourselves. By the "best" in each person, we refer to his or her unique talents and abilities that affirm and nurture life. We use the term "spirit" to refer to a person’s unique personality and to the love, hope, and empathy that exists in human beings. When we act to elicit the best in others, we encourage the growing edge of their ethical development, their perhaps as-yet untapped but inexhaustible worth.

Since around 1950 the Ethical Culture movement has been increasingly identified as part of the modern Humanist movement. Specifically, in 1952, the American Ethical Union, the national umbrella organization for Ethical Culture societies in the United States, became one of the founding member organizations of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Key ideas

While Ethical Culture does not regard its founder's views as necessarily the final word, Adler identified focal ideas that remain important within Ethical Culture. These ideas include:

• Human Worth and Uniqueness – All people are taken to have inherent worth, not dependent on the value of what they do. They are deserving of respect and dignity, and their unique gifts are to be encouraged and celebrated.[3]
• Eliciting the Best – "Always act so as to Elicit the best in others, and thereby yourself" is as close as Ethical Culture comes to having a Golden Rule.[3]
• Interrelatedness – Adler used the term The Ethical Manifold to refer to his conception of the universe as made up of myriad unique and indispensable moral agents (individual human beings), each of whom has an inestimable influence on all the others. In other words, we are all interrelated, with each person playing a role in the whole and the whole affecting each person. Our interrelatedness is at the heart of ethics.

Many Ethical Societies prominently display a sign that says "The Place Where People Meet to Seek the Highest is Holy Ground".[23]


The largest concentration of Ethical Societies is in the New York metropolitan area, including Societies in New York, Manhattan, the Bronx,[24] Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester and Nassau County; and New Jersey, such as Bergen and Essex Counties, New Jersey.[25][26]

Ethical Societies exist in several U.S. cities and counties, including Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Chapel Hill; Asheville, North Carolina; Chicago; San Jose, California; Philadelphia; St. Louis; St. Peters, Missouri; Washington, D.C.; Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and Vienna, Virginia.

Ethical Societies also exist outside the U.S. Conway Hall in London is home to the South Place Ethical Society, which was founded in 1787.[27]

Structure and events

Ethical societies are typically led by "Leaders." Leaders are trained and certified (the equivalent of ordination) by the American Ethical Union. Societies engage Leaders, in much the same way that Protestant congregations "call" a minister. Not all Ethical societies have a professional Leader. (In typical usage, the Ethical Movement uses upper case to distinguish certified professional Leaders from other leaders.)[28] A board of executives handles day-to-day affairs, and committees of members focus on specific activities and involvements of the society.

Ethical societies usually hold weekly meetings on Sundays, with the main event of each meeting being the "Platform", which involves a half-hour speech by the Leader of the Ethical Society, a member of the society or by guests. Sunday school for minors is also held at most ethical societies concurrent with the Platform.

The American Ethical Union holds an annual AEU Assembly bringing together Ethical societies from across the US.

Legal challenges

The tax status of Ethical Societies as religious organizations has been upheld in court cases in Washington, D.C. (1957), and in Austin, Texas (2003). In challenge to a denial of tax-exempt status, the Texas State Appeals Court decided that "the Comptroller's test was unconstitutionally underinclusive and that the Ethical Society should have qualified for the requested tax exemptions... Because the Comptroller's test fails to include the whole range of belief systems that may, in our diverse and pluralistic society, merit the First Amendment's protection..." [29]


British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald was a strong supporter of the British Ethical movement, having been a Christian earlier in his life. He was a member of the Ethical Church and the Union of Ethical Societies (now Humanists UK), a regular attender at South Place Ethical Society. During his time involved with the Ethical movement, he chaired the annual meeting of the Ethical Union on multiple occasions and wrote for Stanton Coit's Ethical World journal.[30][31][32][33]

Albert Einstein was a supporter of Ethical Culture. On the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, in 1951, he noted that the idea of Ethical Culture embodied his personal conception of what is most valuable and enduring in religious idealism. Humanity requires such a belief to survive, Einstein argued. He observed, "Without 'ethical culture' there is no salvation for humanity."[34]

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was a regular attendee at the New York Society for Ethical Culture at a time when humanism was beginning to coalesce in its modern day form, and it was there that she developed friendships with the leading humanists and Ethical Culturists of her day. She collaborated with Al Black, Ethical Society leader, in the creation of her nationwide Encampment of Citizenship. She maintained her involvement with the movement as figures on both sides of the Atlantic began to advocate for organising under the banner of secular humanism. She provided a cover endorsement for the first edition of Humanism as the Next Step (1954) by Lloyd and Mary Morain, saying simply that it was "A significant book."

See also

• Arthur E. Briggs, Los Angeles City Council member, 1939–41, Ethical Society leader
• British Humanist Association, which inherited many British ethical societies
• Religious humanism
• Unitarian Universalism
• Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia


1. "The original 'atheist church': Why don't more atheists know about Ethical Culture?". Retrieved 25 June 2018.
2. From Reform Judaism to ethical culture: the religious evolution of Felix Adler Benny Kraut, Hebrew Union College Press, 1979
3. Brown, Stuart C; Collinson, Diané (1996), "Adler", Biographical dictionary of twentieth-century philosophers, Books, p. 7, ISBN 9780415060431
4. The conservator, Volumes 3-4, Horace Traubel, Volume 3, page 31
5. City of London page on Finsbury Circus Conservation Area Character Summary Archived 8 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
6. The Sexual Contract, by Carole Patema. P160
7. ""Women's Politics in Britain 1780-1870: Claiming Citizenship" by Jane Rendall, esp. "72. The religious backgrounds of feminist activists"". Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
8. "Ethical Society history page". Archived from the original on 18 January 2000. Retrieved 29 September2013.
9. Good, James A. "The Development of Thomas Davidson's Religious and Social Thought".
10. George Hendrick, Henry Salt: Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters, University of Illinois Press, pg. 47 (1977).
11. Jeffrey Weeks, Making Sexual History, Wiley-Blackwell, pg. 20, (2000).
12. Knight, William. Memorials of Thomas Davidson.(Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 18
13. Knight, William. Memorials of Thomas Davidson.(Boston: Ginn & Company, 1907), 19
14. William A. Knight, Memorials of Thomas Davidson: The Wandering Scholar (Boston and London: Ginn and Co, 1907). p. 16, 19, 46.
15. Pease, Edward R. (1916). The History of the Fabian Society. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.
16. Howard B. Radest. 1969. Toward Common Ground: The Story of the Ethical Societies in the United States. New York: Fredrick Unger Publishing Co.
17. Colin Campbell. 1971. Towards a Sociology of Irreligion. London: MacMillan Press.
18. Stedman, Chris (2014, October 1). "The original ‘atheist church’: Why don’t more atheists know about Ethical Culture?" Religion World News. Retrieved from ... l-culture/
19. I.D. MacKillop. 1986. The British Ethical Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
20. British Humanist Association: Our History since 1896 Archived 9 August 2013 at WebCite
21. Ethics as a Religion, David Saville Muzzey, 273 pages, 1951, 1967, 1986
22. Arthur Dobrin, quoted in "Ethical Culture as Religion" Archived 12 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Jone Johnson Lewis, 2003, American Ethical Union Library
23. Goldberger, Paul (12 August 2010), Architecture, Sacred Space, and the Challenge of the Modern, Chautauqua Institution, archived from the original on 15 July 2011, retrieved 3 March 2011
24. "Riverdale Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture". 24 August 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
25. Ethical Societies.
26. Bergen, NJ Society
27. South Place Ethical Society, About the Society Archived 29 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
28. American Ethical Union. American Ethical Union Retrieved 3 January 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
29. Carole Keeton Strayhorn, in her Official Capacity as Comptroller of Public Accounts, Appellant v. Ethical Society of Austin, f/k/a Ethical Culture Fellowship of Austin, Appellee,, 2003
30. Lord Godfrey Elton (1939). The Life of James Ramsay Macdonald (1866-1919). Collins. p. 94.
31. Turner, Jacqueline (2018). The Labour Church: Religion and Politics in Britain 1890-1914. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
32. Hunt, James D. (2005). An American Looks at Gandhi: Essays in Satyagraha, Civil Rights, and Peace. Promilla & Co Publishers Ltd.
33. Marquand, David; Ramsay MacDonald; London, 1977; p. 24
34. Ericson, Edward L (1988). The Humanist Way: An Introduction to Ethical Humanist Religion. The American Ethical Union. ISBN 9780804421768. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Edward William Bennett (1901–1906). "Ethical Culture, Society for". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

Further reading

• Ericson, Edward L. The Humanist Way: An Introduction to Ethical Humanist Religion. A Frederick Ungar book, The Continuum Publishing Company. 205 pages, 1988.
• Radest, Howard. Toward Common Ground: The Story of the Ethical Societies in the United States. Ungar, 1969
• Muzzey, David Saville. Ethics as a Religion, 273 pages, 1951, 1967, 1986.

External links

• Official website
• Comptroller of Public Accounts v. Ethical Society of Austin
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