It is remarkable that confronted by an electoral uprising against 34 years of uninterrupted rule in West Bengal, the Communists have reacted with the same self-righteous indignation as Puritans faced with the frivolity of reprobates. Politburo member Brinda Karat has reminded those writing the CPM’s obituary that the party was born out of the ‘class struggle’ in West Bengal. She avers the party will draw the lessons from a defeat in the electoral arena—always a sideshow in the Communist scheme of things—but it won’t be the same one the revisionists, the faint-hearted and other class traitors are anxious to impart. Ms Karat has implicitly reaffirmed her unbending faith in revolutionary intransigence. In time, other Comrades will complement her logic with copious quotations from Marx or Lenin ‘himself’.
It is intriguing why Communists invariably suffix the names of their gods with the term ‘himself’. It’s never ‘Marx said’ but always ‘Marx himself said’. ‘Himself’ is perhaps the force multiplier that theologians need. The idea is not to impress non-believers but to baffle possible heretics and potential revisionists.
It is, in fact, quite inexplicable why a movement that flaunts its ‘scientific’ credentials is so fearful of revisionism. Since ‘scientific socialism’ has deemed that the victory of socialism is not merely desirable but also inevitable, today’s Communists should be as smug as the nut next door who claims to have calculated the precise date on which the world will end. If “history” is indeed “on our side”, as the flamboyant Fidel Castro once said, why should Commies be obsessive about textual citations from the Collected Works?
In ordinary parlance, ‘revisionism’ involves the ability to think, re-think, fine-tune, question and even challenge existing beliefs and assumptions. It’s because Galileo was a revisionist that the Flat Earth Society is close to extinction. Yet, 500 years ago, the fear of falling off the edge of the earth haunted explorers and even became a deterrent to commerce in some societies.
To Communists, however, revisionism is about as abhorrent as ‘popery’ was to Anglicans in 17th century England. The analogy with the abstruse sectarianism that gripped Christian Europe after the Reformation is appropriate. For the fiercely God-fearing Puritans the good life meant rediscovering Biblical fundamentals.
More than a century ago, Lenin ‘himself’ wrote an article whose contents are no longer worth recalling. But it had a very catchy heading that summed up his sectarian conceit: “Better fewer, but better.” Whereas most ‘bourgeois’ parties engaged in the thankless task of contesting elections and satisfying individual ambition, the Leninist party aspired to be a version of the old ICS—an elite group of the highly motivated with the moral backbone to carry an entire Empire, preferably on its sola topi but if need be, on a majestic Red Flag and to the robust notes of Internationale. Just as the ICS sahibs were presumed to know what was good for the ‘real India’, the ‘vanguard’ Leninist party was meant to epitomize the most advanced sections of the ‘struggling masses’. The people were mute; the party spoke for them.
Not unnaturally, the people occasionally got a little excitable, demanding the impossible. These resulted, as Bertolt Brecht once rued, in the party having to abolish the people (‘counter-revolutionaries’) and having to elect a new one. In November 1989, the collapse of the Berlin Wall triggered a chain of events that culminated in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout Eastern Europe, popular fury was directed at a self-serving party bureaucracy that combined tyranny with monumental socialist inefficiency. The grim inheritance of Lenin and Stalin were brushed aside as people chose personal freedom over regimentation and shortages.
What is interesting is the different ways in which Communists reacted to the Soviet collapse. In Europe, it resulted in Communist parties either going into voluntary liquidation or becoming virtually indistinguishable from the Left-wing of social democratic parties. As a political movement, Communism in Europe died with the 20th century. In India, however, the rejection of the Red Flag in Moscow and the erstwhile ‘socialist bloc’ was interpreted with dogmatic eccentricity.
The socialist experiment faltered, it was argued, because the party was injected with revisionism and had had deviated from Communist principles. For many who learnt their Marxism in parties like the CPM, the key to the future doesn’t lie in less Leninism (as the Europeans imagined) but even more of it. For the CPM, the God didn’t fail – the people were unworthy and the Comrades didn’t pray hard enough. On such profound certitudes are politics in India based.
UMNO’s problems. Some people assigned to themselves the right to determine who should or shouldn’t be in UMNO. They then judge others in terms of their thinking and criteria. Pak Lah or any others can’t measure up to Mahathir in many aspects. But they are not necessarily inferior to Mahathir. They are different. They must be judged on objective terms, not the subjective standards of one Mahathir.
Najib doesn’t seem to do things anything right according to Mahathir. The old man is so stressed up and suffers physical debilitations.
The problem worsens to become person-centric. One person determines and defines UMNO. Inevitably, the right to be in or out of UMNO depends on loyalty to individuals and not on the political ideals, ideas, shared vision and so forth.
The problems become multiplied many fold, when UMNO ‘farms’ out the responsibility of sieving and determining leadership material to hired hands outside the party. These are the intellectual hacks and overrated audio visual and print media practitioners who arrogate to themselves the ultimate discretion of how should UMNO behave.
Hence there are people who think UMNO is the personal kingdom of some people and that the issues of these individuals exist to inherit the kingdom of UMNO.
What has UMNO become then? It becomes an organization feudal in nature where its leadership depends on being from the right loins. The leadership in UMNO is therefore no different from the method of ascribing extraordinary abilities by being conceived from a buloh betong, materializing from a cow’s vomit or suddenly beamed from across the terrestrial highs to bukit si guntang Mahameru.
From thereon, the majority of UMNO suckers pledged eternal loyalty to the blue blood.
There is something disturbing in Premier Najib Razak’s repeated and frantic calls to defend Putrajaya. The latest, when he was addressing youth at the World Youth day gathering in Putrajaya on May 28.
After asking the youth “Will you defend Putrajaya with me?”, and getting a positive answer, he then shouted: “Defend Putrajaya! Defend Putrajaya! Defend Putrajaya!”
His equally paranoid call on an earlier occasion was during the recent 61st Umno general assembly when he shrieked: “Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya”.
Any novice to this country must have imagined that Malaysia must be facing an imminent foreign invasion, otherwise, why should its prime minister be exhorting so earnestly for the defence of its administrative capital?