[This is English translation of a speech delivered by Comrade Provash Ghosh, present General Secretary, SUCI(C), in 1981 at a meeting of All India Democratic Students’ Organization (AIDSO) on the significance of pain and what kind of responsibility it enjoins us to shoulder when we observe 5 August, Memorial Day of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat and one of the outstanding Marxist thinkers of the era. This was first published in the special issue of Chhatra Sanhati, the Bengali organ of West Bengal State AIDSO. Since this discussion would be a guide to action even today, it is being reproduced here. Any translation error or inadequacy of expression lies with the Editorial Board of Proletarian Era]
So many years have rolled by and the day of 5 August has come again. 5 August-the day we lost our beloved leader and teacher, one of the greatest sons history has ever produced. So this day is of profound grief for all of us.
It is well-known that in course of life, we all face moments of heart-rending pain, sorrow and grief. It is also known that there are certain pains and sadness which might well appear to be cutting to the quick but fade away with the passage of time. Some such pains also get erased from the mind over the time. At the same time, there are pains and grief which become more acute, more intense and more overspreading with every passing day, continuously keep our conscience, our human essence and our sense of duty alive and thus bring in its wake newer in-depth realization of the significance of those pains and sorrows. 5 August has brought in our life such a pain which is heart-rending but at the same time spurs us on to unwaveringly pursue our revolutionary work.
There are some days in history which are soaked in tears. Whenever those days appear every year, they carry some message. 5 August also comes like that to us. So long people would consider highest attainment of human essence and social obligation with reverence, 5 August would continue to be a fountain of inspiration for the struggle for emancipation, progress and revolution to the generation succeeding us, to mankind and to the entire human civilization.
Had we not come across the living association of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, who knows we might all have sunk into the rotten bourgeois sludge, might have all been lost in the dark dusty labyrinth of conventional life. What arduous a struggle was conducted by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh to develop us as able soldiers of revolutionary struggle, make us man worth the name. In course of his untiring day and night struggle to groom us as revolutionary workers and acquaint us with the treasure-house of higher revolutionary ideology and proletarian culture-moral-ethics, he slowly exhausted himself and embraced incurable disease. He knew what a blow would be dealt to us by his untimely demise. So, before bidding adieu to us, he had provided us with an invaluable education which would provide beacon to not only us but to all the revolutionaries of all time in all countries in regard to how one has to face such a situation of a deep emotional upsurge He said: “…mere expression of grief and emotion has just no meaning for revolutionaries if they fail to realize the significance of the pain in them and what that enjoins them to do.” (Tribute to a Revolutionary Character, SW, Vol. III) More we would be able to understand what was his dream, what prompted him to invite his death so early by conducting such a relentless hard health-breaking struggle and what did he expect of us, more would be manifested higher and newer sense of responsibility in our revolutionary activities, more we would be able to imbibe true significance of this grief. This is the essence of his invaluable teaching.
Our departed great leader had nothing personal to ask for. In fact, he had no personal life at all. He had shown based on Marxist analysis that in today’s condition, the very definition of a good communist would presuppose complete identification of the self with the cause of revolution and revolutionary party. And he himself set a glorious example of that by attaining a very high communist character by totally identifying himself with revolution, revolutionary party and revolutionary movement. He longed for emancipation of millions of toiling people pressed under the grinding wheel of capitalist exploitation. He wanted that uninterrupted development should take place in agriculture, industry, cultivation of knowledge, science and art-literature. For that is necessitated accomplishment of anti-capitalist socialist revolution. And revolution needs revolutionary ideology, revolutionary party and a good number of revolutionary fighters who would steadfastly traverse the path of revolution irrespective of whether the situation is favourable or adverse, whether there is success or failure, whether there are difficulties or problems in their personal lives. Without raising any question, they would strive for reaching out to every nook and corner of the country with the message of revolution, revolutionary ideology and culture with a view to developing revolutionary organization and movement and in the process cherishing the pleasure of leading an honourable life. He wanted that we continuously elevate ourselves by bringing about desired change in our thoughts and behaviour, acquiring higher knowledge and proficiency in organizational work as well as attaining higher character, by way of successfully and relentlessly conducting all-embracing life struggle.
He was born in an unknown poverty-stricken family. As he was the elder son, his parents were solely dependent on him. When he joined the freedom movement in his early teens, his parents asked him who would look after them. His reply was: ‘Thousands of parents are shedding tears in the towns and villages of India in thraldom of foreign rule. I am the son of all of them. Hence it is incumbent on me to wipe out their tears’. Since then, he never looked back. There are incidents in his life which would appear to be cruel if one fails to grasp the real significance of those. On the other hand, those who would be able to grasp the significance would immediately understand how firm was his conviction in pursuit of truth, what a great man he was.
One of his friends used to financially help his parents without informing him. When he got the news, he told his friend: ‘If you can take the responsibility of maintaining the parents of those freedom fighters who had joined the struggle before me and also the parents of crores of oppressed people of the country, then only you can help my parents. Otherwise not.’ When he left his family, he even thought to the extent of coming across a day when he, on his way to a meeting, might find his mother begging in the street. What would he do then? Go back to his family? No. A true revolutionary of his mettle could never do that. He considered all the elderly persons begging in the streets as his parents. He left home and was fighting for their cause only. Revolution, revolutionary party and revolutionary ideology were his sole concerns. His family comprised the innumerable Party workers, supporters and oppressed millions.
His political life began at the penultimate phase of Indian freedom movement. He was arrested for taking part in the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942. While in prison, he used to become restless when he could realize what danger was in the offing. Thousands of blooming students, youth, boys and girls had left their families, abandoned career, braved inhuman torture, and sacrificed everything to join the freedom struggle. So many of them became martyrs. But such a glorious struggle was going to have a tragic end. At the cost of sacrifice and martyrdom of thousands of freedom fighters, the Indian national bourgeoisie was going to assume state power from the British imperialists through compromise. A capitalist rule and oppression was in the offing. But this tragedy would not have taken place if there was a correct revolutionary working class party to lead the movement in the finest continuation of the revolutionary line of struggle of Kshudiram-Bhagat Singh-Subhaschandra. He could understand that undivided CPI [now divided into so many factions like CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML) and so forth] notwithstanding its “communist” signboard had virtually tarnished Marxism-Leninism and betrayed the freedom movement. Right from birth, CPI was a social democratic party which great Lenin defined as ‘socialism in words but serving, defending and protecting the bourgeoisie in deeds’. Then and there, he took a firm resolve that by any means and at whatever cost, a genuine revolutionary party had to be built up on this soil. He believed that nothing was impossible for the revolutionaries. He had read in his childhood the works of Vidyasagar where it was written that ‘You can also do what others can do’. But his conviction was: ‘What others cannot do, I shall do that for revolution’.
In all ages, those who first launched struggle against injustice, oppression and repression and held aloft the banner of progress and revolution, had to face a lot of insurmountable obstacles, odds and adversities. It is not that attack came from the enemies only. The exploited millions for whose cause they sacrificed everything, also, out of confusions and lack of consciousness, failed to identify the torchbearers of their own emancipation. So, let alone sympathizing with those torchbearers, they had even harmed them under provocation from vested interest. This is a cruel truth of history. An attack from the enemy side is expected. But if one has to fight against misguided attacks repeatedly from those for whose emancipation one has been conducting struggle, it is very painful. At the same time, the ability to win them over is equally gratifying. However, demonstration of such ability in most cases is not beyond compare. Only few instances are incomparable and unique. Many aspects of struggle of our great leader are also having no parallel in history. Formal education of our great leader was confined within the school level. He knew that without avid pursuit of truth and cultivation of knowledge, revolutionary movement cannot advance even by a step. So he unleashed a historic relentless struggle to search out truth of every aspect of life. On the one hand, he assimilated and exhausted the essence of renaissance and comprehended the vital aspects of the freedom movement by way of his association with the revolutionary trend of the freedom struggle, while on the other hand, he could understand the limitation of that movement in the given socio-historic perspective and realized that Marxism-Leninism was essential to make revolution and struggle for emancipation successful as well as to pave the way for social progress. It dawned upon him that revolutionary movement based on Marxism-Leninism would have to be developed in continuation of the highest peak of the revolutionary trend of the freedom movement albeit with a break, because of fundamental difference in the content of the two struggles. So he accepted Marxism-Leninism as a life philosophy and concretized it in the concrete situation of this country. And in course of this concretization, he with his creative genius enriched and developed Marxism-Leninism and brought its understanding to a new height in the post-Lenin period. So Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought is the most developed and comprehensive understanding of Marxism-Leninism today and historically poised to guide proletarian revolution in all countries.
When this great man having no name or acquaintance took upon himself the historic task of building a genuine proletarian revolutionary party in India, he had to brave so many odds, overcome so many obstacles, cross so many hurdles for days after days, months after months, years after years. Even those who were convinced by his arguments said: ‘What you are saying is correct. But you are not known to anybody. You do not have money, strength of supporters or backing of the press. Those whom you are calling pseudo-Marxists enjoy recognition of giant international leaders like great Stalin and Mao Zedong. In such a situation, what can you do in such a big country and that too at such a young age? Impossible! Better you give up otherwise you would spoil your future.’ He said: ‘ I had not argued with them as to whether I would succeed or fail. Only I asked them if they were advising me to discard what I have realized as truth based on logic? Are you suggesting that I should take up a job to fend for myself and thus accept life of a wage-slave? Or are you saying that I should join any of the parties I consider to be causing great harm to the country and thereby build a political career? I cannot do that. I may be shot dead but I cannot be purchased. If I cannot do anything, I shall die under a tree. May be no one would come to know about my death. But when I shall die, I shall die with honour. I shall think that my death was required for Indian revolution. If there is truth in my words, history would give recognition to that in future.’ History indeed has given recognition. The Party everyone had taunted one day is now spread in over 22 states of the country. Party organization is spreading fast in various states, hundreds of towns and villages. Being imbued with revolutionary thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, thousands of workers, peasants, students, youth, teachers, professors are joining the revolutionary movement with fervent emotion. In order to know his teachings and accept those in life as guiding principles, millions of oppressed people are organizing themselves under the banner of the Party and developing mass struggles based on the revolutionary line in various provinces and districts. This advancement of the Party is not due to any media support, not on the strength of MPs or MLAs, not based on any patronage by the government or international backing. Truth is making bold strides ahead based on its decisiveness. Truth is bound to get recognition from humanity. No one can stop that. Because appeal of truth is irresistible.
Today, so many people are aware of the SUCI(C). So many people love the Party, support it. They all say that ‘this is the only party which is moving with ideology and principles. The workers of the SUCI(C) are so honest, so disciplined and possess so high character.’ This admission reflects so much respect and honour to the Party. Today, when we go anywhere, we get so cordial a reception, so much of care and affection. At that we remember how our great leader during the formative days of the Party had to move from place to place in starving or semi-starving condition for days together, had to sleep on the footpath, railway platform or park. He passed so many summers and winters in such condition. What a price one has to give in establishing truth, in creating foundation of revolution. Our great leader was never boastful of sacrifice. He believed that ideology of communism is not an ideology of renunciation. Based on the concept of communist ethics in human history, he was the first to say: “… the peace and happiness the revolutionaries enjoy, even being in the midst of an apparently painful and constantly struggling life, cannot be fathomed by those who live in comfort and security…. Say, you are living in a hut. Now you are given a palace to live in and leaving the dilapidated, damp and dirty hut you start living in the palace. Would you consider this act a sacrifice? Nobody would. You too would not. Sacrifice means giving up something without asking for anything in return, or giving up everything in lieu of nothing. But is that the case here? In reality in accepting the communist life you have got more than you have given up. The communists consider their revolutionary life more precious than a royal living. To a revolutionary the life he has left behind is not only filthy and painful, like life in a dingy hut, it is petty, mean and humiliating as well. So, viewed from this angle, a real revolutionary has sacrificed nothing. On the contrary, in place of what he has left behind – a house, a car, some money and means, property and wealth, comfort and luxury – he has achieved something a million times greater; he has regained dignity.…there is nothing nobler than revolution, nothing more honourable than revolutionary life.” (‘Why SUCI(C) is the Only Genuine Communist Party in India’ SW, Vol. II)
Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had once said to the students: “Remember, we are all mortal beings. So, if to die, don’t die begging, don’t die humiliating yourself. When to die, die with honour, and you have got only one surest way to live and die with honour, that is by taking active part in the revolutionary struggle of the masses to bring about a revolutionary transformation of the society, and for that purpose you will have to organize yourselves in thousands, and close up your ranks…. Yes, in this way of fighting things, it may be painful – sometimes even tortuous, but no doubt it is the honourable way to lead a life. Here in this struggle you may die, but you will die with honour, raising your head high. You shall not die with humiliation just as cats and dogs die, rotting in the streets.” (‘Tasks Ahead of Students and Youth’ SW, Vol. IV)
That Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin- Mao Zedong and Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had embraced revolutionary life for living a true ethical-moral life is evident from this teaching of Comrade Ghosh. To quote him: “Study and learn Marxism thoroughly. Be acquainted with its ethics, values and philosophy (moral-cultural values) …If you do not understand Marxism in this way, it would appear as if people have been tilting towards Marxism because they are starving and leading a life full of hardships. It is not so. In this era, those who are great men, who are thinking people and possess a sympathetic mind cutting across the globe have all been attracted towards Marxism out of their immense love and affection for the suffering humanity. Many of these great men were from well-to-do families. Even some of them were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, in exploitative rural kulak families. For example, neither Engels nor Mao Zedong or many others were born in families which were distressed or impoverished. They embraced Marxism because of higher ethics and values, noble and higher ideology. Because despite a thorough and meticulous search, they could not find any other ideology superior or nobler than Marxism. So they had become Marxists.” (free translation from an unpublished speech)
His teaching was that whatever difficulty, problem or obstruction may arise, a revolutionary cannot neglect the work of revolution because that counterposes his self-dignity. So he said: “Keep in mind, to become conscious revolutionary political workers, you have to acquire such qualities that you can single-handedly carry on any responsibility. You feel it a shame to refuse an assignment, your head hangs in shame to offer excuses, that hurts your dignity. To say : ”I cannot”, makes you droop in shame. It should be that you can keep your cool under any storm and stress.” (‘Mass Movement in India and Tasks of the Youth’ SW, Vol. III) At the same time he taught that “…all who transformed society through the ages, who accomplished revolution, learnt thoroughly by heart the first elementary lesson of the science of revolution. This first lesson is that if one falls into difficulties, or faces danger – whether the same are due to counter-revolutionary forces, natural calamities, an enemy unknown, or factors unforeseen, or, say, one’s own weaknesses – one is to transform it at once, or, as we put it in English, to turn difficulties into advantage – endeavouring to unitedly achieve this is the true revolutionary education…. If you suddenly come face to face with difficulties that never cropped up earlier, or you are in danger which you never faced before, or you fall in trouble you never before had to handle – if you face all this, and go ahead with your task, enduring it and bringing it under control unitedly in a disciplined manner then how much you will learn and how manyfold your powers will increase ! How much power you would acquire to exercise control over your mind, your character and conduct.” (ibid.)
He was immensely pained and perturbed at the continuous decline in the ethical-moral standard and cultural degeneration. So he once said from deep concern that “I cannot but emphasize here that a nation going without food, suffering the worst kind of oppression and exploitation, and half-fed and half-clad for days together can also stand up, fight, acquire the power to combat, organize itself and rise up holding its head high, provided its moral strength remains intact and the people have a correct ideology before them… The ruling class in India is engaged in a conspiracy to totally destroy that very moral character of the nation. They are shrewd to the bone ; they know that even by extreme oppression and repression, and by keeping starved, a nation or people cannot for long be kept under the boot by police and military alone…People’s power asserts itself and stands up if the masses can keep their moral strength intact and find the correct revolutionary ideology. The Indian bourgeoisie, the ruling clique, has not learnt the good part of the lesson of history. Devils as they are, being the exploiting ruler, they have not failed to take that part of it which serves their need — that is to destroy the moral-ethical strength and ruin the very character of the nation. In that event, people, being starved, will only whine like dogs even when oppressed hundred times and more, they will only vent their grievances, and may even, at times, burst into sporadic revolts, but will fail to give birth to the organized revolutionary movement – they will fail to organize revolution. Because, apart from the correct base political line and the correct revolutionary leadership, what is essential for adopting the revolutionary ideology and organizing revolution is this moral-ethical base.” (Carry Proletarian Culture and Ethics to the Worker)
What is the inevitable consequence of this harrowing cultural crisis? Personal life, social life, political life, democratic movement-everything is perilously affected. Love, affection, compassion, finer feelings, sense of duty, sense of responsibility-all are disappearing. Youth and students are being led astray. They are getting delinked from the glorious past of renaissance and freedom movements of the country. Even they are oblivious of the life and struggle of the great men of that period. Seeing all these, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh used to become restless in agony. In At students’ conference, youth convention, peasants’ conclave or workers’ meeting-whichever problem he might have dwelt upon, he never forgot to give warning about this ethical, cultural and moral degradation. By foiling the conspiracy of the bourgeoisie and saving the youth, workers, peasants and common toiling masses from the attack of cultural degeneration, he ushered in a great cultural movement by imbuing them with new revolutionary culture and morality. So he initiated observance with due solemnity of the birth and death anniversaries of the various thinkers of freedom movement, the renowned litterateurs and revolutionaries so that the present generation could be inspired by their life and struggle, assimilate and exhaust all their teachings and then step forward to acquire yet higher proletarian culture. He expressed injured feelings at the utter neglect of cultivation of famous litterateur Saratchandra Chatterjee, who was the best exponent of the uncompromising trend of Indian renaissance movement and one of the foremost personalities of that time. He said: ” Since we have forgotten Saratchandra, the high moral, ethical, cultural and aesthetic standard of political and literary-cultural movement that was once attained in our country, has fallen down. As a result, we have become rootless. So, we talk big, but do not cultivate noble emotions and delicate feelings. No movement is a mere intellectual exercise or a matter of intellect only, it demands both intellect and emotion. Revolution, too, is not an exception. Thoughts are advancing, if emotion, feelings lag behind, then surely a gap would appear between the two. In that case, the movement as well as the thought would eventually go astray, leading to a blind alley. I note with deep anguish the absence of ethics and morality at all levels of the present-day mass movements in our country… being a man from the political movement, the thing that strikes me time and again is that the moral and ethical basis and the cultural tune of the very base of all these movements has completely collapsed – today most of the movements are virtually reduced to slogan-mongering. That is why, in wave after wave movements are surging forth, cries do reverberate – ”change we want, revolution we aspire for’. Men are dying, youth are sacrificing their lives; but no change is forthcoming, no revolution is taking place. Changes will never come through such sporadic movements that are thoroughly devoid of culture and ethics – however sincerely you may struggle, however much sacrifices be made. If the mass movements are guided on the basis of definite political objective and morality, then and only then the moral backbone of the nation can be restored.”
“…Sarat-cultivation, discussions and exchanges on the thoughts and ideas of Saratchandra, are needed all the more in our society, because we are completely cut off from the cultural heritage of the past – we have become rootless today. We are failing to maintain continuity with the high cultural standard attained during the days of our freedom movement. Lofty phrases we are culling from the outside world no doubt, but we have lost the link with the high cultural tune that had once developed on our own soil. We have to establish that link once again, although a contradiction with it is inevitable today, because Saratchandra was a believer in the petty bourgeois revolutionism and bourgeois humanism. But we will have to accomplish the task of the working class revolution, the socialist revolution – the revolution for the overthrow of capitalism. So, we shall have to advance a stage further in our all-out, dedicated revolutionary struggles. But we can forge ahead only when we have been able to evaluate and appreciate Saratchandra properly – when, grasping him, we have been able to assimilate the essence, rejecting the inadequate and the useless, when we have been able to absorb the wealth of his literature and thereby exhausted it completely, when there would be nothing more left for us to take from him. Unfortunately, we could take nothing from him, rather we have lost the link itself. Even the advanced outlook and sense of values Saratchandra reflected are absent in us. How could we then be the vanguard of revolution today ? So, we have to know Saratchandra, we have to study and understand him.” (‘An Evaluation of Saratchandra’ CW, Vol. III)
How indispensable he considered the question of ethical-moral-cultural standard was evident from his brief expression: “The essence of revolutionary politics is ingrained in its higher cultural and ethical standard” [‘Why SUCI(C) is the Only Genuine Communist Party in India’ SW, Vol. II] He told the toiling masses: “…bourgeois nationalism, bourgeois humanism in the era of freedom movement against British imperialism was a relatively more progressive ideology than the then existing religious ideals and moral outlook in society, it was able to cause a kind of awakening among the people who had been languishing within the confines of the feudal society with their narrow outlook… Yet even that freedom movement in our country suffered from so many shortcomings. It had been a religion-oriented nationalism. This movement was not totally free from the influence of religious superstition and casteism. Those who gave leadership to the freedom movement finally brought about the consolidation of capitalism in this country. Still, when the banner of the freedom movement was held aloft under their leadership, in spite of many limitations and failings of the movement, since that ideology was relatively higher and somewhat more progressive than the ideology prevailing in the society, a section of the youth from all over the country was roused, though temporarily, with a new spirit and new inspiration when they came in touch with the freedom movement. This is what happens in case of each progressive ideology. Hence the then national movement could open the gateway to advancement, to some extent at least, in every sphere, including education, science, epistemology, art and literature. The movement of that time, which came in the footstep of the bourgeois humanist movement initiated by Rammohan, Vidyasagar, gave birth to such luminaries as P.C. Roy, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose, C.V. Raman, Meghnad Saha, on the one hand, and, on the other, Bankim Chandra, Rabindranath, Saratchandra, Nazrul, Premchand, and others.” (‘On Cultural Degeneration and Unemployment Problem – Whither the Solution’ SW, Vol. III)
In reply to the question as to why this all-pervading crisis today despite such a high cultural-moral attained during the period of freedom movement, he pointed out: “…today that nationalist and bourgeois humanist ideology has not only become exhausted and reactionary in the course of history, it has degenerated into a privilege in the hands of the ruling and exploitative capitalist class. That is why that nationalist ideology of the past can no more at present inspire the youth in any way. Today, that ideology has become decadent, and hence the more the Congress leaders loudly talk of the glorious victory of that nationalist ideology, the more the entire administration, the entire country is sinking deep in corruption. The more they exhort, ‘be honest’, the more the people become dishonest without any hesitation and with greatest of ease. Worst of all, they do not even feel the slightest compunction, or unease of mind. Moreover, the old religious values are almost exhausted in our social life. Because the revolutionary theory and politics based on the teachings of dialectical materialism, Marxism-Leninism and scientific socialism have still not been able to exert adequate influence on the life of the people and the youth, a void has been created in the field of ideology. As a result, we find this devastating cultural decadence and moral crisis.” (ibid.)
By drawing attention to the fact that the highest moral-cultural standard is ingrained in Marxism-Leninism, the loftiest ideology of the era, he said: “The living soul, the kernel of any noble ideal…is ingrained in the moral strength, character and in the cultural standard” (ibid) So, he provided a yardstick of determining whether a party is indeed a Marxist-Leninist one: “A party may talk of Marxism-Leninism, but if its influence causes degeneration in morality, if its cadre succumb to vile and degraded culture, if in conduct and behaviour they lack politeness, modesty and decorum, if they shrink from ideological conflicts or avoid the course of discussions based on reasoning and seek to defeat opponents by use of physical force, if they indulge in cowardly assaults under any pretext whatsoever, if they indulge in neglect of duty, then despite all loud and tall claims their ideology cannot be truly lofty, not to speak of being a Marxist-Leninist ideology.” (ibid)
To clarify his proposition, he referred to the conduct of the CPI (M) during the United Front rule in 1967 and 1969: “At the time of the United Front Government of 1969 when the strength of the CPI(M), the so-called Marxist-Leninist party, increased most of all, the people got scared at the muscle flexing of their cadres and supporters. Let alone reflecting a high moral and cultural standard and exerting a restraining effect on the students and youths along with the increase in the organizational strength of the CPI(M), this was the period when the phenomenon of ‘mass copying’ among the students took the form of a movement ! Under their influence a tendency grew among the people to increasingly make use of police and administration to benefit from undue favours and privileges for personal gains. And instead of a growing sense of social obligation, a tendency towards neglect of duty grew rampant. Similarly, instead of developing an attitude of philosophical tolerance, a base tendency to stifle the voice of political opponents grew among them. They even took recourse to cowardly physical assaults in favourable situations… Had their politics been truly revolutionary, then just as they would have the heartfelt blessings of all the right-thinking people from all strata of the society, they would have at the same time incurred a burning hatred from the exploiting bourgeoisie. Yet in reality just the reverse happened. On the one side, a section of the police and administration of the capitalist state, and even a section of the capitalist class, started supporting them in various ways as the alternative force to the Congress, while on the other the right thinking people of the society became very much apprehensive about them…. Not only did they succumb to degraded bourgeois culture even while chanting Marxist jargons and proclaiming themselves as revolutionaries, they also tarnished the noble ideology of Marxism itself before the right thinking people, the students and the youth of the country. That the Chhatra Parishad and the Youth Congress could muster their present strength after the United Front period was thus an indirect result of the increase of strength of the CPI(M) during the rule of the United Front. On seeing the degraded culture and mentality among the students and youth under the influence of the CPI(M), which surfaced very much during the days of the United Front, most of the guardians and wide sections of the common people wondered : Good heavens ! if this is what the Marxists are like, if the characters we meet now-a-days all around and in schools and colleges show what Marxist-Leninists are like, may we be spared from such Marxism.” (ibid)
Thus he showed how the parties like the CPI (M), CPI have been maligning a great ideology like Marxism-Leninism. He said about these parties that “whether those who claim to be the force of revolutionary movement in the country, …whatever be the political theory, if its practice does not infuse moral strength and if it does not reflect a higher cultural standard then in whatever lofty words its theoretical essence may be couched, it is merely an empty facade, a lifeless body. Just as a corpse has inevitably to be disposed of, so also if one clings to it out of attachment, it will, in its putrefied state, spread stench and be harmful for all people in society. (ibid). He was deeply pained when he found that the people of this country were repeatedly bursting forth in protest, whether or not, there was any leadership or any ideological guidance. Victory or defeat did not matter for them. They were sacrificing everything including life. But the movements failed to attain the desired goal. On the other hand, the vote-based parliamentarian parties were using these outbursts of people’s accumulated grievances to buttress their heinous electoral interest. Expressing this pain, he once observed: “If someone says that the people of this country do not know how to fight, how to sacrifice their lives and cringe in fear at the sight of police guns and burrow into their safe shelters, then I must say I do not agree with them at all. They are either ignorant of this country’s history, in particular the history of all the mass movements beginning from the days of freedom movement up to independence and even thereafter to the present times; of all the self-sacrifices, martyrdom, and brutal police atrocities, or else they are quite deliberately distorting that history…During the freedom movement, without giving the anti-British sentiment of the masses a unified and organized form, the bourgeoisie involved the people in sporadic and isolated action programmes against the British and wanted to use the pressure thus created to bargain with British imperialism. Even today various political parties simply stir up discontent and resentment among the people and basing upon these, goad them on to the field of struggle and from the resultant police atrocities and state repression, the anti-government, anti-ruling class sentiment and hatred that naturally breeds, spawns and spreads amongst the people – this they regard as their political gain. Whether revolution comes about by this or not, whether a radical transformation of the social system responsible for the plight of the people comes about or not is of no concern to them whatsoever. Yet capitalizing on this resentment and hatred against the government or the ruling party that further intensifies among the people, what all these parties do is that some talk about revolution, others talk about socialism and some present a long list of what they avow to do for the people with fantastic promises of making kings and lords of people, among others – with such tall claims, long speeches and presenting grand programmes they all ultimately move towards election and try to form a government. This vicious circle-the grievances of the people crystallizing into struggle, people’s anger erupting into agitation again and again while the election-oriented parliamentary parties utilize this agitation to reap dividends in election politics again and again-what is the way out, how to free democratic movement, left movement, people’s revolutionary movement from the grip of this vicious circle, is the pertinent question….” (‘Present Situation and Main Danger to Democratic Movement’ SW, Vol. IV) He also determined what is necessary to lead these to their logical culmination. He showed: “…three conditions are necessary for revolution – first, a correct political line, outlook and ideology for revolution; second a correct revolutionary party, that is, a party really capable of providing leadership to revolution; and third, a well-forged powerful united front for conducting united mass movement….to give birth to the political power of the people, right from the grassroots level up to the highest level.” (Problems of Mass Movements in India, SW, Vol. IV))
Right from the foundation days of the Party to his last breath, he, on the one hand conducted fierce struggle overtly against ruling capitalism, the principal enemy of the people, and the bourgeois parties, while on the other hand, he relentlessly tried to channelize the democratic movements along right track to be led to their logical culmination by undertaking ideological-political struggle based on revolutionary line against the reformist-revisionist and left-adventurist politics of diversionary forces like the CPI (M), CPI, CPI (ML) within the left movement. Though none could refute his impeccable logic, the movements could not be prevented from meeting a tragic end as the social democrats were organizationally more powerful. So he fought desperately to save these movements and increase organizational strength of the Party. Despite so many hurdles, the Party was growing. But he wanted fast progress pending which the movements would not be saved, revolution would not come by and all sacrifices and martyrdom of the people would be recurrently abortive. Because of a prolonged arduous struggle, his health was breaking because of attacks of one after another disease. Death was, in fact, chasing him. But he never cared. Death lacked audacity to touch even a fringe of this great revolutionary. In course of the struggle, he was afflicted with serious ailment in 1972. Chance of his revival was remote. That time, he gave final instructions to the leaders and workers of the Party how to organize revolution and revolutionary party. Hearing about his tussle with death, all the Party workers, supporters and his innumerable admirers among the common masses jumped to pool all their resources to save the life of such a great son of humanity by providing best of medical treatment and care. Everyone contributed to their capacity. Employed comrades donated their one month’s salary. Some comrades and supporters sold their lands. Many women comrades, supporters and sympathizers had given their ornaments. But Comrade Shibdas Ghosh did not want more expenditure on his treatment. Because he thought that he would not come out this ailment. So, why to waste public money? He would not be able to give any more service to those who are giving away everything for him. From this, one can understand how the question of his life, death and medical treatment was identified with the cause of revolution.
That time, somehow it was possible to save his life. But his health had broken down. At that time, in 1972, a reign of terror was unleashed in the whole country under Indira Gandhi’s rule. It was a dark period. Many thought there was no future of left movement. The self-proclaimed heroes of the CPI (M), who had broken the United Front in their petty party interest, were crouched in fear. Immediately after recovery, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in his historic speech at the Party Foundation meeting at Kolkata Maidan on 24 April 1973 said: “I can tell you confidently that people are thinking afresh. The starving people have again gradually started to assemble in the arena of struggle. Despite all the drumbeating by the Congress, inwardly the people are getting disillusioned about it. So, just as there was united struggle in the past and much bloodshed, I can foresee that in the near future, in two to four years’ time, powerful united movement will develop…. But if the leadership of this united movement remains in the hands of a wrong party, a non-Marxist party, a non-revolutionary party, that is, in the hands of such parties who cash in on the name of revolution, play with revolution, that is, either cause destruction of the revolutionary force by untimely and fanatic adventurism, or else seek to ultimately confine the mass movements within the bounds of parliamentary politics – then it can never be possible to conduct that united movement correctly. Apart from this, only a revolutionary party has the ability to conduct united struggle in such a manner that the necessity of maintaining the unity is fulfilled, on the one hand, while, on the other, centring round the contradictions within this unity arising from the composite of opposing political forces, the ideological struggle is conducted in such a way that the unity of the movement is not destroyed while through this very ideological struggle the people get a clear political view and are being helped to find out for themselves the correct revolutionary party. A non-revolutionary party does not possess this ability. In conducting the united movement two tendencies are bound to appear among the non-revolutionary parties. Either they would appease everyone in their over-zeal to maintain unity or else behave in a high-handed, aggressive way, that is, whenever anybody criticizes them they would hit out against him and disrupt unity…. So when you are going to again start a united movement today, in order that the genuine revolutionary party can rapidly acquire the capacity to provide leadership in the united movement, while building up that movement you will have to carry on discussions and polemics on the politics of the different parties to judge the parties and doing so, you will have to help to make that revolutionary party strong through the united movements.” (‘Fascism and Moral Ethical Crisis in Left, Democratic Movement’, SW, Vol. IV)
After some days, corroborating his prediction, a massive outburst of people’s wrath took place in Gujarat. Indira Congress could not quell the agitation even by deploying police-military. Thousands of students and youth went to jail. Hundreds of boys and girls sacrificed their lives. CPI was then in alliance with Indira Congress. And the CPI (M) notwithstanding a pretention of opposing Indira Congress, maintained a clandestine understanding with it under the pressure Soviet revisionist leadership. The CPI (M) also was driven by its sectarian interest. So the CPI (M) did not join the surging people’s movement against the Indira Congress, Hence, no left leadership could be established on the movement. Seizing the opportunity, the right-wing combination led by Morarji Desai used the movement to reap electoral benefits. Same thing happened in Bihar where also a bigger people’s movement had surged forth. But in absence of the CPI and CPI (M), the rightists capitalized on this movement to serve their petty interest. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh was very sick then. He was immensely pained and disturbed by the political developments because he could sense that once again such a glorious movement was going to face a debacle. Before death, he warned in his speech on 24 April 1974 at Kolkata Maidan that “…in Gujarat the powerful offensive of agitational movement which people launched after exploitation and oppression crossed the limit of their endurance, could not make much headway. In Bihar, too, the course which the movement is following and with the leadership of the movement even today effectively in the hands of such forces – as its inevitable consequence, notwithstanding people’s anger and resentment, people’s sacrifice, people facing bullets and laying down lives and the unthinkable magnitude of governmental repression – despite all this, a similar fate for this movement is not far off…Because, even if people’s anger, agitation and their spontaneous movement breaks out with wide dimension, the agitational form of movement by unorganized masses lacking political consciousness cannot advance far.” (‘Present Situation and Main Danger to Democratic Movement’ SW, Vol. IV)
In West Bengal, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh wanted a united movement against misrule of Indira Congress. But the CPI (M) was skirting that proposal on this or that pretext. Since we were raising such questions and exposing the opportunist line of the CPI (M), its leaders said that no question could be raised against them. And on this point, they broke unity with us and unleashed an intensive maligning campaign against us. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh could realize that because of the aversion of the CPI (M), it would not be possible to build up any joint movement. So he decided that SUCI(C) alone would develop that movement in West Bengal. With that objective, a 3-day historic youth conference was organized from 20-22 June 1975 in Suri. Both the Indira Congress and the CP (M) joined hands to spoil the programme. On the one hand, the Indira Congress was directly issuing threat, while on the other hand, the CPI (M) after having failed in all its efforts to foil the programme, shifted their Bangla Bandh call on 18 June to 20 June on a flimsy plea of not disturbing Ganga Puja ceremony which most of the West Bengal people were unaware of. Apart from such conspiracies, the weather became intensively inclement. There was heavy downpour flooding the entire city including the venues of both the open and the delegate session. Yet, braving all odds, thousands of youth delegates from different districts of the state, assembled at Suri. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh exhorted the delegates to develop movements based on correct revolutionary political line. Before concluding his speech at the open session, he cautioned the youth of the state about the impending danger of fascism by saying that “Once the people of India used to say : the youth of Bengal show the path to India. The question today is : will that youth show India the path of fascism? Or will they show India the path of socialist revolution against fascism. You are to deliver this message to the youth.” (Problems of Mass Movements in India, SW, Vol. III))
Within no time of his forewarning to the youth and the country about fascism, Indira Congress declared emergency in the country. At that time, he was very ill, totally bed-ridden. But then also he was making untiring efforts to develop the public opinion against the emergency by calling the various district leaders and organizers to Kolkata and guiding them in this regard. He also said ‘this emergency would not last long. Again there would be wave of democratic movement. But not only would the CPI (M), CPI not participate in the movement; they would instead try to find out ways and means to save crisis-ridden capitalism from the strike of this movement. So our Party leaders and workers would have to shoulder the responsibility of building up this movement singularly. So they should prepare themselves by developing the revolutionary character and tuning the organization. His last meeting was 15 days before his death. His ailment had further aggravated. Doctors advised him to at least take rest on that day. But the reply this great revolutionary gave that day would be a source of inspiration to the revolutionaries of all countries and of all time. He said, ‘I am a revolutionary. I cannot live by keeping the work of revolution at bay. I exist, I live, I breath for revolution.’
When the day of 5 August comes every year, these words reverberate in our ears amidst tears. It makes us think at least for the moment that had he not thought like this, if he could take rest in between, perhaps 5 August would not have brought to our life so much of pain and so quickly. But at the next moment, we are awakened to the fact that he could become a great revolutionary only because he could say like this and identify himself completely with revolution. The dream with which he left home was emancipation of the crores of the countrymen from the yoke of exploitation. He struggled throughout his life with that end in view. But his dream remained unfulfilled. At the same time, he was perturbed to find the society and civilization mired in crisis, collapse of economy-politics-culture. Fatherhood, motherhood, womanhood-all are disgraced. The whole society was crying for emancipation. On the other hand, democratic movements were periodically surging forth and misdirected. So he said with immense pain: “Out of discontent of workers, peasants and all exploited masses, revolution will again and again try to surge ahead in waves after waves. In waves after waves it will try to burst forth. The contradiction within society will deepen and sharpen many times more, calling for radical transformation of this order. It will beseech our consciousness, it will appeal to humanity that revolution is the necessity. Still, revolution will not come, again and again it will recede, it will go astray, and reaction will again and again gain by that – revolution will not see the light until the revolutionary party emerges, capable enough to lead revolution.” (‘Tribute To A Revolutionary Character’ SW, Vol. IV)
He alone had founded, reared and steered this Party, developed thousands of leaders and cadres. He was desiring a faster progress. So he thought he could not afford to take rest. We are reminded of his last hours. Despite repeated heart attacks, there was no sign of pain on his face, no mark of imminent death. Death had to bend before him. He only had one pain that his dream remained unfulfilled. So long he could talk, he went on giving various advices and guidance. But when his voice was choked forever-the voice which acquainted the revolutionaries and the people with human essence-only a pair of emotionally charged unblinking eyes conveyed for the last time a fervent appeal to all of leaders, workers, people and the entire mankind to fulfil his dream of accomplishing anti-capitalist socialist revolution in India. We have to move with this appeal in heart. The highest value sense of our life lies in giving due honour to his appeal.
Today, based on the appeal of the Central Committee of the SUCI(C) led by Comrade Nihar Mukherjee, worthy revolutionary compatriot and follower of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the Party is creating waves of democratic mass movement in various provinces based on the proletarian revolutionary line enunciated by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. Its augury was through the massive civil disobedience movement in West Bengal on 15 June 1979. Then the current of the movement spread in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha and South India. Thousands of workers-peasants-students-youth under the leadership of the Party organized and intensified the movement with all their might, by shedding blood and even courting martyrdom. The wave of that movement came gushing on the streets of Delhi on 4 November 1980 when the Party initiated a Delhi march. Even today, the magnificence of the rally is a matter of public talk there. As the massiveness, discipline, character and courage of the 15 June rally in Kolkata spread like folklore in various parts of West Bengal, the 8 November Delhi rally also carried the message of people’s movement to the people of Delhi who admitted having not seen such discipline and dedication in any meeting or procession earlier. A successful outcome of the people’s movement has been the language movement in West Bengal which roused the people in rural and urban areas. Because of whole-hearted support of lakhs of teachers, students, workers and peasants, the disastrous language policy formulated by the Indira Congress and given shape by the CPI (M)-led front could not be implemented. It ought to be borne in mind that all these movements were developed based on proletarian revolutionary line with the object of intensifying peoples struggles to expedite revolution-the call given by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh to fulfil his unrealized dream. He wanted faster growth of the Party, widespread movements under the leadership of the Party and giving birth to people’s political power based on higher ethics-morality-culture. To shoulder these tasks and make them successful, the Party today has engaged all its might led by Comrade Nihar Mukherjee and guided by the revolutionary teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. One after another programme of building up mass movements are adopted. More are in the offing. In making these programmes, the comrades would face a lot of obstacles and problems in their personal as well as family lives. In order to overcome all these hurdles, we need to recall another invaluable teaching of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh: “Indian revolution is on the threshold of emergence, and nothing of worth remains of this society – this you should realize. No longer the ruling class can give it any lease of life with any palliatives whatsoever. The Indian society is in the throes of birth pang. Only, it suffers from want of people’s organized conscious political movement, from want of a genuine revolutionary party with that minimum of necessary strength with which this ferment for revolution in the people, this situation ripe for revolution can be led into an organized protracted powerful war for revolution.” (‘Tribute To A Revolutionary Character’ SW, Vol. IV)
“…the coming days are very important to us. You are to build this party fast, within a very short period, with the political and organizational strength necessary to provide leadership to revolution. We could not have achieved this task earlier even if we had contemplated it. But now, with our present numerical strength, if all of us – each and every leader and cadre – strive to put it into reality, with adequate contemplation, we shall succeed to achieve it. To that end, every worker present here shall have to carry out his respective work without turning away from it, with individual initiative and intellect – no matter whether you can achieve it or not, you succeed or fail… if you neglect the task of revolution on any such plea as ‘you are not equal to it’, ‘it is eluding in any case’, ‘people are just not convinced’ or, say, ‘there is want in your family and you don’t have anything to eat’, say, ‘you feel dejected, so sad that you cannot keep your cool nor can do your work’ – it means you have not really grasped revolution” (ibid.)
“Do not problems arise in the lives of great revolutionaries ? Did not problems appear in the lives of the revolutionaries of Vietnam? Did all of them live lives in which no problems ever cropped up ? Did all have enough to eat at home ? Did not they experience any problems of love ? No problem in sex life ? No financial crisis in the extreme ? Did not they have to face situations with their children starving to death before their eyes ? Did not they have to see their parents weeping, for whom they have boundless respect ? Great revolutionaries of all ages had to endure all these, they had to bear with this. But they made no plea, no excuse of all this to shy away from revolutionary life. All the time and as best as they could – whether or not others made way for them, with their own effort and to the best of their intellectual ability – every moment they strove to strengthen the party, movement and revolution.” (ibid.)
5 August is coming again. It would continue to come every year. 5 August would raise a question each day in our life till death-how far have we been able to conduct struggle to fulfil the unrealized dream of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, how much responsibility could we discharge. The purpose of observing his memorial day will be served only if we answer all these questions. Only that would provide the beacon in our development as man worth the name.