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John G. Wright

Agrarian Revolution Is Key
to Struggle in India

Exploited Indian Masses Can Achieve Real Freedom
Only Through Action Independent of Native Propertied Class

(7 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 10, 7 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There is a lot of talk these days about solving the Indian problem by means of a few political concessions. The aim of all this high-sounding talk is to postpone and prevent a real solution of India’s historical tasks and needs by the only ones capable of achieving such a solution, namely, the vast Indian masses themselves.

The overwhelming majority of Indians are peasants who live under feudal and semi-feudal conditions. It can be said without any fear of exaggeration that no other country in history was ever faced with the solution of the agrarian question on such a vast scale.

To maintain their rule over this enormous country the English imperialists have done everything in their power to preserve and perpetuate the feudal structure. In addition to cult, caste and tribal divisions, there are more than 700 feudatory states which bind the peasantry to conditions of indescribable poverty and degradation. The apparatus of British imperial rule reinforces this outworn. feudal structure and aggravates the conditions of more than 280 million Indian peasants.

To the rural classes of India the struggle against British rule is synonymous with the struggle against their feudal bondage. National emancipation is for them indissolubly bound up with the agrarian revolution.

This is no secret to the bourgeois leaders of the Indian nationalist movement. Jawaharlal Nehru, the President of the Indian National Congress, wrote in his autobiography: “For all these rural classes nationalism or Swaraj means fundamental changes in the land system which would relieve or lessen their burdens and provide land for the landless.”

Who Will Help the Peasants?

How will these fundamental changes be accomplished in such a country as India, the classic colonial country of world capitalism? Despite its overwhelming numerical strength the peasantry cannot achieve the agrarian revolution with its own forces. It needs a powerful ally in the cities.

The Indian peasants have already learned much from more than two decades of experience with the bourgeois nationalist movement. They gave the National Congress its real strength. The Congress, in its turn, under Gandhi’s leadership, revealed its complete bankruptcy. Millions of Indian peasants already know through experience that the bourgeois nationalist leaders are no less fearful of the consequences of the agrarian revolution than are the British imperialists and the native princes. Many millions more are beginning to understand just what Gandhi, Nehru and Co. stand for. Peasant delegations march to the National Congress bearing placards, “Down with serfdom.” The Congress resists every step in this direction.

“It is absurd to say,” explains Nehru, “that the leaders betray the masses because they do not try to upset the land system ... They never claimed to do so.” For the Indian bourgeoisie, nationalism merely means a greater share of power and profits in the ruling block with two other classes, the British imperialists and the native feudal lords. Their dream is to become equal partners, they are ready to settle for much less. The experiences which lie immediately ahead will completely convince the Indian peasants that the native bourgeoisie is a mortal enemy of all those who seek to “upset the land system.”

But the treachery of the native bourgeoisie does not at all doom the peasant movement to defeat. On the contrary, the Indian peasants have a far more powerful ally in the cities than the force represented by the weak and degenerated native capitalists. This great ally is the Indian working class numbering more than 5 million and employed predominantly in English-owned industries. While composing a tiny minority of the population, the Indian working class in reality represents the most dynamic force in the country. It is the only reliable ally of the peasantry. It alone is capable of leading the struggle for India’s independence and of carrying through the agrarian revolution.

The Lessons of China

With an infallible class instinct the Indian bourgeois nationalists deny that the Indian proletariat is either revolutionary or capable of leading the peasantry and the struggle for national independence. They hope to repeat on the Indian arena what was accomplished by the Chinese bourgeoisie under Chiang Kai-shek, i.e., to crush the proletariat. The temporary success of Chiang and the Chinese bourgeoisie was due above all to the treachery of the Communist International under Stalin who surrendered the Chinese proletariat bound hand and foot to the bourgeois hangmen.

The lessons of the Chinese experience are of crucial importance for the development of the Indian struggle. The Chinese revolution suffered a grave defeat because the Chinese proletariat failed to build in the very heat of the struggle an independent political party based on the principles of Leninism; and because the Stalinist party surrendered the leadership of the national liberationist movement and of the agrarian revolution.

We have just received news from India of the formation of the All-India Bolshevik-Leninist Party. The program of this party represents a great conquest for the Indian proletariat. The growth of this party is the best guarantee for the triumph of the alliance between Indian peasants and workers.


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