[Marxism] For a revolutionary approach to rural proletarians and peasants (was:India: On the issue of Third Front)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Mar 20 23:22:02 MDT 2009

New Wave ("That old-time Religion" would be a better moniker):
"The rural proletariat
thus may form only the rear of the army of proletariat."

To the rear, march, rural proletarians and fighting peasants of India! The
"vanguard" has given you your orders.

People can still write this kind of stuff after the experiences of China,
Vietnam, Laos, Cuba Bolivia, Outer Mongolia, Laos, and many other places --
not to mention the Mexican revolution, El Salvador, Peru, and many other
very important struggles. 

That Old-Time Religion continues: 
So far as the emergence and weight of rural proletarians is concerned,
nobody can deny that and surely they do not fall within the ambit of 'rural
petty bourgeois'. The whole point is that these proletarians belong to a
strata of population which in the matter of its culture and political
consciousness is thoroughly backward, attached to age old techniques of
production in most cases and its exploitation is so indirect, scattered and
concealed as compared to the exploitation of urban factory proletariat, that
it prevents it from gaining sharp class consciousness. 

Has there been a nationwide revolutionary upsurge in India since
independence that would put this opinion of the incapacity of rural
proletarians to achieve "sharp class consciousness" to the test? What we
have is simply a set of traditional -- and probably sound -- generalities
about the conditions of the rural proletariat in India. How do these PROVE
the assertion about their incapacity for "sharp class consciousness"? Does
history indicate that they cannot develop "sharp class consciousness" and
forge a significant layer of vanguard fighters who are also revolutionary
mass leaders in the national, social, and class struggles as workers are
often able to do despite many cultural and social obstacles in factories
despite the added difficulties facing rural workers.

Will you tell me where Lenin or Trotsky said that rural workers are
"prevented" (i.e., CANNOT develop "sharp class consciousness" by their
conditions? Not even Stalin said this and, if he had, it would have made his
formal politics even worse, not better. Not even Marx and Engels ever made
this kind of statement about either workers or peasants after the populist
revolutionary movement developed in Russia after the 1860s, and not even
about peasants in more advanced countries after the 90s. And Lenin, Trotsky,
the Communist International continued to develop in the OPPOSITE direction
to that of New Wave.

For instance, I don't think you can find anywhere where Lenin, Trotsky (or
even Stalin) concluded that the bloc with the Left Social Revolutionaries
was a "fiasco" as New Wave seems to have done. I don't see how you could
argue that unless you think that taking power was a fiasco. Do you really
fantasize that the "vanguard" can take power in an Indian revolution with
the rural proletariat and the peasantry confined to a strictly rearguard
role and without being represented in a revolutionary government?

Finally, the last straw:
However, it [the rural proletariat] is a very important link between the
urban factory
proletariat and the rural peasantry and definitely a tool in the hands of
workers' party to exert influence upon the rural peasantry." 

A "tool in the hands of the workers' party"!  Can you tie that?

New Wave may be banking a bit TOO heavily on the illiteracy of the ENTIRE
rural proletariat in India in publicly presenting this instrumental,
administrative approach to the rural proletariat and peasantry as a matter
of course. Historically, illiteracy is in decline, and I suspect there are
Indian rural proletarians who can read. 

I suspect at least a few of them and maybe more are getting pretty tired of
being treated as tools rather than human beings with creative capacities and
of being consigned to the rearguard of human advance by upper-class
professional ideologues.

Reading this kind of crap makes me feel like grabbing a pitchfork a la
Stephen Colbert (more accurately, buying a pitchfork and then grabbing it)
to have a word with such would-be tool-users.

In my humble opinion,New Wave has quite a bit of both study and experience
to go through before he or she can regard theirself as part of the vanguard
in the world today.
Fred Feldman

More information about the Marxism mailing list