Is Communism Relevant Today?
As far as communism is concerned, outside the four existing socialist countries China, Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea, India holds an important position. The disintegration of the Soviet Regime and the downfall of Marxism in some of the actually existing socialist regimes in eastern Europe, communism in general suffered a crushing blow. However, communism had strong roots in Kerala and West Bengal, the two of India’s most literate states. Probably, the pursuits of the people of these states matched the Leftist ideologies. But the total collapse of the Leftist government, especially in West Bengal where the Leftist government has ruled for more than three decades and also in Kerala, in the last election, indicates the loss of public support for the communist government even in these states. The undisputed win of the ruling Congress party has pushed the communist entities into parliament minority and has created a further crisis for communism in India. According to Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M), the main communist faction, “This necessitates action and rethinking”. However, in the present perspective, this also raises a question, “Whether communism is at all relevant in the current Indian political scenario”.
If we analyze the methods of ruling of the last Communist regime, it will be evident that India’s romance with communism has reached an end. For example, during the thirty plus years of regime of the Leftist government in West Bengal, there was not a single attempt of large-scale industrialization especially when the “poster boy” of the Left, Jyoti Basu, was the esteemed Chief Minister. When Buddhadeb Bhattacharya came to power, his drastic attempts of taking lands from the peasants for the purpose of industrialization created a lot of outrage among the elite and the literate classes of West Bengal along with the poor peasants who were being directly affected. This coupled with the inefficient governance created a major setback in gaining the support of the masses.
India is the land of Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghosh and undoubtedly one of the largest spiritually oriented nations. The Leftist government’s principle of atheism only further alienated the common masses. In a nutshell, the Leftist government so far has been a total failure to synchronize with the socio-economic trend of the majority. From a bigger perspective, the Leftist government always opposed privatization and land reforms were on the top of their priority list. As pointedly asked by Surjit Bhalla, the financial wizard and anchor of the NDTV talk show, Tough Talk, “In this day and age why do you still celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the October Revolution? How many democratic parties have a bust of Stalin in their headquarters?”
India has made significant economic growth under the Manmohan Singh’s government and has been able to secure a key position in the global scenario which would otherwise have been doubtful under the rule of a Leftist government with their anachronistic ideologies. Liberalization, privatization and reforms in the public sector are the ideas of the day. Victor Hugo once said that no force could stop an idea whose time has come. Gone are the times of the antique Leftist ideas, the days of still looking at the world through a Cold War lens. Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin are but pale shadows now. Che Guevara has been reduced from a martyr to a popular T-shirt print, for the youngsters of this generation. An advocator of Hindu fundamentalism, even the BJP is gearing up to emerge as a more moderate political party. It is evident that Communism in India has outlived its time.
However, this is a question that plagues not only India but the rest of the world as well. For more stats about Communist countries around the world, finding answers to what communism is really all about, current and former communist countries of the world and the stars of the communist galaxy, here is an infographic on communism providing all the above information.