NDLF paper to the miners conference – working class politics for 21st century

Trade Union movement and handling of issues like communalism, national chauvinism which divide, divert, disintegrate and misdirect/mislead workers!

Issues dividing, diverting, disintegrating and misdirecting workers vary from country to country and are specific to each country. But, there are issues common to all countries such as treating the co-workers as strangers, as rivals, as those snatching livelihoods, as enemies, as inferiors and so on. These discriminations arise from communalism, national chauvinism, racism, xenophobia, regionalism, religious fundamentalism, casteism, linguistic chauvinism, male chauvinism, feminism, islamophobia and so on. Though capitalism is the root cause of all troubles faced by working class, using these divisive and misleading tools, the blame is placed at the doors of other workers.

Right opportunism and left extremism are two sides of the same coin. While the right opportunism is exaggerating the class enemies, the left extremism under-estimates them. Thus, both are playing an important role in misleading working class. Right opportunism leads to a path of compromise, revisionism, reformism and parliamentarianism and the resultant trade unionism pushes the working class into a cess pool of economism , careerism and opportunism.

International Mining Workers Conference to begin at Godavari Khani

Revisionism is the illegitimate child of right opportunism. It comes up with attractive slogans like ‘Socialism of 21st century’, ‘Another world is possible’, ‘Post modernism’, ‘oppose all authorities’ to mislead workers and to serve the interests of the capital. All these keep the working class from breaking itself free from the shackles of wage slavery system. In addition to the above narrow outlook, some political theories such as identity politics divide, divert and mislead the working class. Identity politics divides workers into individuals with unique identities shattering class solidarity.

Anarchism is an another danger, unleashed by various social media groups including facebook groups, Whatspp groups. These groups are capable of mobilizing thousands of young guys through single chat. They are enchanting slogans whatever the cause they mobilized. These groups are very conscious to disperse after the cause is being fulfilled. Thus they are preaching the mass, ” No to politics; No to organizational structure; No to centralized organization; and No democratic sprit ! ”

Non-Governmental Organizations ( NGOs ) are a very potential threat to the working claas movement. These organizations are running ‘parallel government’ by handling issues like environmental pollution, child labor, uplifting of tribes etc.,etc. These organizations work with the state machinery hand in glove, at the same time mobilizing the toiling masses against the policies of the state. In the guise of “struggles against the government”, NGOs are blocking the toiling masses not to organize under ‘class organizations”. These organizations are limiting the working class in a small and sectional issues. These organizations are constructing issue based struggle movement, rather than political movement with broad understanding. NGOs are preaching for flexible organizational structure. These organizations are guiding the struggles in a flexible manner and gathering the mass with entertainment thinking. With all these noxious attitude, the NGOs are playing pivotal role in misleading and betraying the working class.

Left extremism leads to adventurism, terrorism, underestimation of enemy, overestimation of subjective strength and objective conditions and negating the unity of working class organizations in favor of sectarianism. Left deviation invariably leads the working class movement into disaster. These groups are failing to evaluate the prevailing political conditions and formulate suitable political mass movement accordingly. Mechanical, metaphysical attitude of such groups is leading the working class movement towards devastation.

Cultural assaults on the working class is another devastating tool in the hands of capital. Workers are bombarded non stop with cultural degradation which creeps on their leisure time. Workers are trapped mentally as well as physically by the slogan “Unlimited freedom; Unlimited consumption”. Consumerism encourages workers to desire everything in sight, and to commit any atrocity to get what is desired. This culture teaches workers to shed all morals, ethics, discipline and self-in order to throw-away any kind of obstacles in their way to consume what they desire. Amoralization is misleading the workers to indulge even in criminal activities to enable to consume what he/she desires.

Drug addiction is another kind of cultural degradation, which pulls down the working class into a deadly trap. Starting from Cocain to Panparag, various kinds of addictives are luring them into quagmire. The narcotic business is valued at billions of billion internationally. Some of the items were categorized as narcotic and banned. But, items like PanParag are being allowed to be sold legally in some countries including India. Drug barons hailing from Marwari, Bania community have the global network and support from the state machinery. In fact, most of the political parties and bureaucrats are being funded by these Marwari and Bania “drug lords”! Consumption of such drugs transform the consumer into semi-animal!

Apart from drug addiction, internet addiction is one more cultural axe, which is cutting down the ethical roots of the working class . The internet-mania is inundating the workers in consumerism and immoral activities. Pornography is one of the worst disruptive and destructive lure. The internet-mania is blunting the social consciousness of the workers and even the self consciousness. In addition, videogames, selfie crazyness, chatshop and various types of internet enabled diversions are ruining the day today activities of working class.

This cultural onslaught transforms working class into a mass of careerists and opportunists without any scruples. It renders them self centered and focused on their own narrow individual interests. The grip of individualism is so strong that many workers do not realize that the protections and democratic rights nominally available to working class were won after years of collective struggles with countless sacrifices on the battlefield. Individualism suffocates the consciousness of one’s democratic rights, and hence deny those rights to others.

With changing times capitalistic terror changes its methods of exploitation and repression. The most recent form of capitalist exploitation is contractualization . Contractualization not only exploits the working class economically, but also divides them into opposing camps of permanent workers and contract workers. This drives a wedge in working class unity. Multiple contractualization and sub-contractualization are more virulent, creating divisions and enmity within the ranks of contract workers themselves.

Workers with careerist outlook are ready to go to to any length to achieve what they are after. While hating any personal loss or sacrifice, in order to get what they want, they are ready to turn traitors to fellow workers, bootlick the bosses, and backstab the entire working class. They wait for someone to do things for them. In short, capitalism has destroyed the high ideal of proletariat , “Earning one’s living by labor” and replaced it with seeking shortcuts to money and success. Workers falling prey to these tendencies lose their class consciousness and become isolated individuals putting class unity into jeopardy.

With the above understanding, we rate casteism and national chauvinism as the two major problems dividing, diverting and misdirecting Indian working class.

1. Casteism

In 1947 colonial British rulers transferred power to Indian ruling class which continued to serve their imperialist interests. The mode of production of Indian society is maintained as semi colonial semi feudal to suit imperialist exploitation, (The condition was more or less similar in many countries which were colonies of Britain and declared ‘independent’ after Second World War). Indian comprador bourgeoisie and their imperialistic masters needed ‘United India’ to continue for their own interests. With this aim, the concept of ‘Hindu-Hindi-India’ was foisted on the people turning Indian subcontinent into a prison of various nationalities.

The comprador – bureaucrat capitalism hindered independence and democratic consciousness of Indian working class and maintained semi-feudalistic relationship in many forms. They used the tactics of dividing labor based on Manu’s Smriti (code of Hindu religion for division of laborers by birth). Jobs in Indian industry were filled on caste lines. Jobs which require hard physical labor were identified for oppressed castes. Thus we can see blue collar jobs in Railways, Ports, Mines, Tea Plantations, Rubber, etc are filled with oppressed castes while white collar jobs in Banks, Insurance, Telecom, etc are full of dominant oppressing Hindu castes. Thus, division of workers on caste lines was a fact of life from the beginning. In 1970s, in order to counter the Naxalbari (Marxist Leninist) revolutionary movement, Congress government provided more job opportunities to the oppressed and tribal people of affected areas who were the social foundation of Naxalbari movement. Special recruitment drives were conducted and oppressed castes were encouraged to have their own labor unions. As the existing unions were dominated and headed by dominant caste hindus, the unions of oppressed castes had to function separately. This situation gave a boost to the divisive identity politics, which leads to economism and parlimentarianism.

2. National chauvinism encountered by migratory workers

Though the neo liberal economic policy of Privatization-Liberalization-Globalization, introduced in 1990s resulted in opening of new factories, workers employed in these factories mostly come from regions where semi-feudal relations persist. They are forced into labor market due to the ruining of agriculture and traditional handicrafts in rural areas. No matter how modern the factories are, the workers are stalked by semi-feudal bondage.

Neo liberal economic policy cited above decimated agriculture, small retailers and small scale industries. Thousands of workers dependent on these are forced to migrate to cities in search of livelihood. Mineral rich regions have been opened up for unbridled private exploitation; forests and hills became hunting grounds of corporate companies. The natives of these natural habitats who lived there for generations had to flee their own ancestral lands and migrate to far off lands in other states and even to other countries.

The state or the country they end up never treat them as equal or free citizens. For capitalists they are commodities costing less than local workers. They are exploited more with unlimited working hours, harder work, and under dangerous working conditions. For the same reasons, local workers consider them as rivals. Local workers start attributing their every problem to the presence of migrant workers. This is the basis for national chauvinism. In countries like India which is a confederation of several nationalities, political conflicts between different nationalities lead to attack migrant workers by vested interests. There are many examples of such attacks like those on Biharis in Mumbai, Tamils in Bangalore and Asians, Africans and Muslims in Europe.

We witness the triumphant political march of right wing forces all over the world. Donald Trump in US, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Shinzo Abe in Japan, Tony Abbot in Australia and Narendra Modi in India are some of the manifestations of the ascendance of right wing forces. They all blame the migrants for troubles their countries face and claim that if the migrants are evicted, locals would prosper. They successfully hide the fact that the crisis faced by not only their countries but the whole world is due to the capitalist greed for profit and they are successful in dividing the working class movement. Brexit movement that paved way for Brittan’s exit from European Union is based on narrow nationalism. The march of Marie Le Pen of the extreme right wing of France towards possible victory in the coming elections and the increase in popularity of “Alternative For Germany”, a self proclaimed neo-Nazi party in Germany are warning signs for impending danger of growing right wing influence in working class movement and the division and misdirection of the working class.

National chauvinism rears its ugly head due to lack of employment opportunities and fall in wage levels. It leads to attacks on migrants on minor pretexts thereby masks the capitalist terror unleashed on workers. It shatters the basic prerequisite for unity among the workers. National chauvinism can use anything like religion, color, language, region as its weapon to instigate violence. In Russia, white racism forms the basis for Putin. (Recall the open admiration of Trump and Abe for Putin and CIA’s statement that Putin helped Trump’s victory). In India, the fascist Hindu fundamentalism serves as the right wing’s weapon.

We sense that a crisis unprecedented in the history of capitalism is impending that will lead the world into major disasters. Under these circumstances, capitalism will resort to any of the weapons listed above to fuel national chauvinism. The only force which can stop these destructive forces is the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. We have a powerful principle of proletarian internationalism. Working class movement holding aloft the banner of Marxism-Leninism can neutralize the designs of fascist forces and prevent the split in working class. It is essential that we apply Marxism-Leninism correctly. Labor unions should take up ideological struggles as the primary struggle supported by political and economic struggles.
It is high time labour unions put an end to limiting their sphere of activity to the work place alone. Activities of the working class should extend beyond their work place. Labor unions should be formed encompassing an entire locality, or industry or district or region instead of being confined to individual factories. Such unions can widen and strengthen the social base of working class movement, shake off the tradition of intervening only in issues specific to workers and take up causes of masses at large and basic issues of a particular locality.

The imperialistic camp does not hesitate to discard any of its policies as soon as they cease to serve their interests. The neo liberal policy of Privatization-Liberalization-Globalization created by imperialistic camp in 1990s helped multinational companions and transnational corporations to expand their industrial empire to under developed third world countries through export of capital. Cheap labor, abundant mineral resources and unexploited markets of these countries provided a base for the colossal growth of multinational companions and transnational corporations. International financial mafia has turned the whole world into a casino.

Pursuing these policies, imperialistic and other developed countries eventually have run into a deep economic crisis. Even as economic indicators grow, the majority of masses suffer job loss and inflation. Subsidy cuts and austerity measures deepen the crisis instead of saving capitalistic world from decline. They use automation and digitalization to increase their profitability and to escape from the crisis. But these measures end up reducing the number of the working class.

Even then, history shows that the capitalist class cannot arrest its own demise. The imperialistic world is in the same situation that it was in 1914-19. It is using the same strategies that it used then but in a modernized version. What Russian proletariat did, what approach they used during the initial decades of 20th century has become a historical necessity in the initial decades of 21stcentury. The capitalist class is not unconquerable. The working class is indefatigable. As a solution to its crisis, capitalism has come up with the policy of imperialistic globalization and fights for the unity of capital.

The clear and present dangers that encircling the working are being summarized above. How to combat them? How to liberate the working class? Who could do this?

Undoubtedly an organization which is having leadership, capable of identifying the right and left deviations from the correct Marxist-Leninist political line. They must also be able to identify the non-Marxist non-senses such as “21st Century Socialism “, Post-Modernism, “Struggle against all authoritarianism”, “Another world is possible”, Identity politics, Apolitical politics of NGOs and Facebook groups. And above all, they must draw a clear cut ideological and political demarcation between genuine Marxism-Leninism and the above mentioned evil anti-Marxist bourgeoisie ideologies which come under the garb of “updating Marxism ” , ” developing Marxism for 21st century conditions”. They must wage a relentless and merciless ideological struggle against the above mentioned evil thoughts.

The perfect clarity with Marxism-Lenism is the basic requirement of the leadership. Only such relentless leadership could smash the evil things which are diluting, diverting, disintegrating and misleading the working class.

Secondly, we should draw a correct political, tactical line according to present situations. At a given situation there may be various political, social, economic struggles and various phenomena , problems, challenges affecting the entire country. Among these, we have to correctly analyze and find out the key – the nerve point of the – phenomena or political issue.

On this basis we must draw a political tactical line – the political arena, the sharp, central political slogan, appropriate form of struggles, appropriate form of organizations – and wage relentless political struggles. The political struggles based on the tactical line should be the principal form of struggles and the economic struggles or struggles for sectional demands should be subordinated to this.

Thirdly, while initiating relentless struggle against the ideological and organizational deviations , a systematic, continuous, uncompromising struggle to purge out the cultural degeneration. Moral education with working class perspective, rehabilitation movement is more required to weed out the cultural evils. Most of the trade union organizations are not considering the cultural discipline, which required priority rather than economic demands. Giving priority to cultural discipline could not be an organizational rule; but should be a plan.

In order to weed out the evil influence of the bourgeoisie ideologies which come overtly or covertly, we have to carryout these three tasks simultaneously and continuously without any interruption. It is very important to carryout these three tasks sincerely. There is no other way or path to free the minds of the working class from the clutches of bourgeoisie ideologies. This is the only way to save the working class from the re-colonial weapons of bourgeoisie ideologies, which comes under the garb of Marxism and build proletarian unity.

  • Put an end to division, diversion and misdirection of working class movement!
  • Build proletarian internationalism!
  • Let the working class and all oppressed nationalities unite against the super power hegemonism and imperialism!


(This is the paper submitted on the occasion of Second Conference of International Mining Workers held at Godhavari Khani, Telankana, India from 2nd Feb – 5th Feb.2017 )

Permanent link to this article: http://new-democrats.com/ndlf-paper-to-the-miners-conference-working-class-politics-for-21st-century/

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