Millennium Post

Communists caught in time warp

As the confessions of a small-time Marxist apparatchik that his party had no compunctions about killing political opponents have shown, the blood-thirsty nature of ideologies dating back to an earlier, feudal age has continued to take its deadly toll in the modern world.

It isn't the communists alone who exhibit this cruel, sanguinary trait. Fascists and jehadis, too, look upon the assassinations of adversaries, either of individuals or on a mass scale, as a legitimate exercise. The warped religiosity which drives the Islamic zealots today also guided the Christians associated with the Inquisition in medieval Europe.

What is common in these murderous onslaughts - Hitler's annihilation of Jews, Stalin's purges, the jehadi targeting of infidels - is the insane bloodlust which drives the perpetrators. The primitiveness of the mindset is obvious. It is reminiscent of a dark period of history when each man was on his own and no one outside the clan could be trusted.

But, in today's world, this paranoia is reflected in a doctrinal singling out of communities for extermination. If the racial element is paramount for fascists - the Chosen People vs the aliens - then arbitrarily identified and seemingly watertight social groups are regarded by communists as 'mutually antagonistic', to quote Mao Zedong.

The two groups which are supposedly inveterate enemies, according to the communists, are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat or, in common parlance, the rich and the poor. The possibility that the two may not be totally exclusive entities because the rich can become poor and vice versa is ignored by the Marxists lest it should complicate the simplicity of their theory.

Instead, what they emphasise is their enmity resulting in a fight to the finish where one group - the proletariat, because 'history' is supposed to be on their side - obliterates the bourgeoisie.

So much for theory, weird as it is. But what it entails in practice is the kind of killings of political rivals mentioned by the
, M M Mani of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). Apparently brainwashed by his mentors about the doctrinal purity of their 'scientific socialism', this party hack, who was virtually unknown outside his native Idukki district in Kerala, has now acquired nationwide notoriety by boasting of the killings.

It wasn't the rich who were killed but mainly the members of the same social segment, the middle class, to which Mani himself belonged. However, he can be said to have followed the dictum of Charu Mazumdar, who left the CPI-M in 1969 to form the CPI-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) - also known as Naxalites and Maoists - that a communist cannot be recognised as one unless he reddens his hands with the blood of his class enemies.

The roots of this chilling philosophy lie in the late 19th century and early 20th century Russia where Czarist autocracy left no alternative to liberals but to adopt a conspiratorial path to overthrow the monarchy through violent uprisings and assassinations. The reason why the savagery has continued is that even after the Czar was overthrown and killed along with his family, the country's new communist rulers proved to be no less dictatorial and blood-thirsty.

Since this has been true both in Russia and China, communism has been unable develop the democratic traditions of tolerance and respect for divergent views, which constitute the essence of a multi-party system. Since the communists are caught in the time warp of a authoritarian age, they continue to live in a secretive world where survival depends on eliminating enemies.

What is strange, however, is that these clandestine habits have persisted in a democratic society. While the murderous activities of the Maoists and the jehadis are understandable because they operate outside the system, for the CPI-M to indulge in them is weird since it is a legitimate party functioning within the parameters of a parliamentary democracy. Yet, it is not only in Kerala where it is facing prosecution over murder charges, in West Bengal, too, another former stronghold of the Marxists, skeletons are being unearthed of those who were killed when the CPI-M was in power.

Political assassinations in modern India can be said to have started with the targeting of colonial rulers by revolutionaries who were called anarchists by the British. The country has also seen two prime ministers die at the hands of subversives. Insurgencies in Kashmir, the northeast and for about a decade in Punjab claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people as well as of policemen and politicians. It is also undeniable that no political party can claim that its hands are clean since all of them harbour anti-social elements.

But, except in the case of the insurgents, it isn't ideology which motivates the killers. If what the CPI-M factotum has said is true, then it is one of the few parties to have indulged in such horrific deeds.
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