Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
[Sabyasachi Panda projects himself and is projected by others as a Maoist. I will, in this article, deliberately discard the words – Maoist and Maoism; because use of the name of Mao in any emancipating movement of our people would be an affront to self-respect of India in view of the blatant breach of our trust and the bloody war he had subjected us to in 1962. When radicals amongst the Communists had emerged as Naxals, the right-wing media had deliberately coined the words Maoism for Naxalism, to create a situation for the people of India to look at them askance, because of the impact of the natural aversion to Mao, so that the radicals would stay far from being acceptable to majority of Indians in the psycho-political environment. Some radicals failed to grasp this mischief and misguidedly projected themselves as Maoists. The result is: their spread is stunted. I will, therefore, in this article, use the words ‘radical Communist’ in place of ‘Maoist’ and ‘radical Communism’ in place of ‘Maoism’ and mention Sabyasachi as a symbol of radicalism.]
A very odd prerequisite
In seeking a solution to social unrest as perceived by them, nine known persons of Orissa, not all Gandhians but projected as such, have appealed radical Communist leader Sabyasachi Panda to shun violence so that they can influence the State to fulfill whatever demands he has for the Dalits and exploited people.
When the signatories are: Smt. Annapurna Maharana (Cuttack), Smt. Sumitra Choudhury (Cuttack), Smt. Krushna Mohanty (Anugul),Sri Rabi Roy (Cuttack), Md. Baji (Nawarangpur), Sri Ratan Das (Gunupur), Sri Bhabani Charan Patnaik (Bhubaneswar), Dr. Bhagaban Prakask (New Delhi) and Prof. Radhamohan (Bhubaneswar), here is the crux of their statement in its original form:
Roughly translated into English it says: We shall raise strong demands before the government for fulfillment of whatever demands you have for the Dalits and the exploited, if you and your associates accept our request to shun violent ways.
If anything, this is naked hypocrisy; because, if these ladies and gentlemen feel that there is justification in Sabyasachi’s demands for the Dalits and exploited people, why are they waiting for him to surrender? Why do they make his surrender a prerequisite to their taking up the cause of the oppressed Dalits and the exploited wretched? Why are they shying at the reality that persons like them staying silent spectators to the oppression and exploitation perpetrated and perpetuated by the State and the State-pampered / protected profit-mongers, compradors, socio-economic offenders, and looters of natural resources, is responsible for persons like Sabyasachi taking up arms at the risk to their own lives? Their admitted reluctance to press the Government for stoppage of oppression and exploitation of the Dalits and the wretched people till Sabyasachi and his associates shun violence is certainly not indicative of their genuine concern.
I do not know Sabyasachi or any of his associates personally. But perceptibly, they are using violence against official violence as a method of elimination of fear from the oppressed poor as they want end of economic inequality / social exploitation / loss of living environment / loot of natural resources / enforced displacement at the behest of private profit-mongers / lack of administrative concern for their human rights. Judging them by the yardstick of Gandhian non-violence, as is evidenced in the appeal-statement of the above named nine signatories, is misjudging Gandhi himself.
Gandhi would have preferred the violent way
Had Gandhiji been alive today, he would have certainly preferred violence to what the so-called Gandhians have been projecting as non-violence.
Every age has its own meaning for terms used in politics in specific situations. What non-violence meant in Gandhian terminology, is exactly what violence is meaning in Sabysachian terminology.
There is no difference between Gandhian non-violence and Sabyasachian violence; because both the phenomena are felt in the impact thereof in evolution of fearlessness amongst the oppressed people against the power of oppression. So, condemning Sabyasachian violence in the present context of India is also the same as condemning Gandhian non-violence in the context of pre-independence India.
Gandhi on violence
In writing in Young India on 11 August 1920 on The Doctrine of the Sword, Gandhiji dwelt on justification of violence in compelling conditions. “I do believe that where there is only one choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol XVIII, p.132). “Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence”, he has said at the same time. “I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should be in a cowardly manner become and remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor” (Ibid). He has admitted with absolute honesty that whoever resorts to violent ways to save the countrymen from oppression is also a Mahatma (high-souled person). He has unambiguously noted, “The high-souled men, who are unable to suffer national humiliation any longer, will want to vent their wrath. They will take to violence” (Ibid).
Violence begets violence
Had the State not been acting violently against opponents to exploitation, people having succeeded in fetching political freedom under greater influence of non-violent method of Gandhiji, would not have thought of preferring violence to non-violence after so many decades of independence.
However it has its own significance.
Gandhiji had used non-violence to wipe out fear from the minds of the subjects of the British raj in their fight for political independence; and now the radical Communists are using violence to eliminate the accumulated fear from the minds of the people oppressed under the corporate raj in their fight for economic emancipation. Both the methods are the same in aim and similar in purpose and befitting to their respective age and condemnation of the radical Communists’ violence in Capitalist India is not different from condemnation of Gandhian non-violence in British India.
Independent India has been, sadly, siding with the capitalists and their monstrous exploitation. As long as the State uses violent methods to protect the exploiters, the victims of exploitation will naturally continue to react violently. Because, responding violently to violence is not unnatural.
The radical Communists and their method might just be contributing a philosophical support to people’s revolt against exploitation; but radical Communism is not by itself the sole definition of people’s disposition in meeting the State-led oppression and hence it is not the generator of violence that people adopt to retort the violence perpetrated by the State.
So, even if Sabyasachi switches over to Gandhian non-violence, as the appeal in question insists, it would not stop the people going violent against violent conduct of the State.
So what is the solution?
Solution lies not in converting any radical Communist to Gandhian non-violence, but in defeating plutocracy that has replaced democracy in India under cover of non-violence.
Plutocracy cannot be defeated by the so-called mainstream politics that endorses State-led violence but wants the victims thereof to stay non-violent.
Removal of plutocracy and restoration of democracy depends on class warfare and calls for people emerging fearless against the oppressive State in this war.
In this war, Sabyasachi appears to have stood so far with the poor and oppressed class that has declared “enough is enough”.
Whether or not he and/or the radical Communists in our land epitomize the ideal they vouch, is not known to me as yet. But what I know is that, these activists have made a tremendous contribution to evolution of fearlessness amongst the wretched and the exploited people against the oppressive system.
Any attempt to urge the radical Communists to renounce arms is clearly taking a position against the oppressed people who want to gnaw down the design of the rich, in their struggle for emancipation.