From the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh on the eve of his birth centenary year


5th August 1923 - 5th August 1976

“You have observed 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. What I want to convey to you by this is, so long as there is oppression and when that crosses the limit of human endurance, people’s anger will explode and they will come out into the arena of struggle again and again, whether there is correct leadership or not, whether there is a correct ideology or not, even if the path is wrong and the leadership is wrong. People will fight. And they are actually fighting. You must keep in mind that the common people of India have shed a lot of blood. 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, or they have become oblivious of it. I would like to tell you with full confidence—the people of the country will fight again. Whatever be their hopelessness and frustration as regards movement, their no confidence in the political parties, whether they like or dislike the leadership of a party and even if this type of thinking persists in them that none of the political parties can achieve anything–nevertheless they cannot remain unmoved. For, hunger is a ruthless taskmaster. Whenever oppression and exploitation exceed the limit of human endurance, then people’s accumulated anger is bound to explode, they are bound to burst into movement, embracing death, laying down their lives. But what I want to stress is that nothing will be achieved by all this. 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.
You will surely note that the nature of this movement, inasmuch as the means and tactics adopted are concerned, is the same as the form of the movements that have been going on in our country under the leadership of the bourgeoisie since the days of independence movement. In other words, it is not a resistance movement in an organized form developed by making the people politically conscious, making them conscious of the ultimate political objective. The very character and motive of these movements are such that when people’s grievances begin to crystallize into a fighting spirit against the existing administrative system, the leaders deliver fiery speeches to make them emotionally surcharged and get them to take to the streets. The people fight on the streets against the government while the leaders at best feed them at times with some so-called programmes of struggle. The leaders remain totally unscathed—the most that can happen if a government gets alarmed, feels embarrassed or is a bit unwise, is that it arrests the leaders, politely ushering them into jail, saying: “Please do come, sir”. From this stay in jail the leaders draw political capital. They joyfully go to jail, become division one prisoners and wrangle over whether or not they deserve still higher allowances as prisoners. After ten to fifteen days they emerge from jail garlanded like victorious warriors and immediately begin sounding a war cry against the government. And if an election is round the corner, all the better. They begin proclaiming: “This government has done nothing for the people. It is we who have fought, so bring us to power, place us into the seat of governmental power. Once in government, we shall establish the golden rule of King Ram.” This is what I wanted to term as the bourgeois form of agitational movement, similar to that resorted to by the bourgeoisie.
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.
You should remember one thing. Outburst of people’s anger, whatever may be its magnitude, is not revolution. Agitation does not automatically usher in revolution. Revolution means a radical change of the present state structure, that means to overthrow the present state and replace it with a new state—with regard to the overthrow of a capitalist state we call it the establishment of a socialist state, thereby bringing about a total transformation of the present capitalist economic, social, political structure and in its place establishing a socialist structure. This is what we call revolution. This revolutionary change does not come about in a spontaneous way through outburst of people’s accumulated grievances. History does not say this, nor does science. Such a concept is unhistorical, unscientific. Those who represent agitation to be one and the same as revolution in this way are either ignorant simpletons or else extremely sly, they are pernicious election mongering politicians. By conducting resentment-driven agitational movements and economism-driven movements, giving these a somewhat militant posture and thereby passing these off as revolution, they misdirect the preparation of the real revolutionary movement and obstruct the course of revolution itself. They create hindrance in the path of revolution. So, bear it in mind that agitation and revolution are not the same thing. Though not today, yet the very people of West Bengal will again burst into agitational movement as in the past.
The people’s anger will burst again into a powerful movement. But in spite of having suffered the ensuing repression and having turned against the government they will again be drawn into the arena of election politics. Capitalism as it was, exploitation, unemployment problem as it was, the way in which the education standard was declining and the moral, ethical standard sinking lower day by day—will remain as they were. You will not be able to touch even the fringe of these problems. Notwithstanding a thousand and one sacrifices, you will not be able to organize revolution simply on the basis of grievance-driven agitational movement, self-sacrifice and martyrdom. To accomplish revolution, you will have to get organized on the basis of a definite, clear-cut political goal, that is to say, an organization capable of conducting the protracted struggle of politically conscious organized people will have to be built up.” (Present Situation and Main Danger to Democratic Movement, CW Vol. IV)

Please share
scroll to top