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THE NAXALITE MOVEMENT
By Biplab Dasgupta
Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1974, 282, 40.00

WEST BENGAL: THE VIOLENT YEARS
By Sajal Basu
Prachi Publications, 1974, 150, 15.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

In the wake of the Naxalite debacle, a number of books have appeared on the movement, mostly factual and pseudo-analytic. Biplab Dasgupta’s book is one of these, with the added nuance that it represents the CPI(M) point of view. At the outset it is clear that there is no departure from the Stalinist heritage. No attempt is made to question the theoretical basis of Naxalite ideology. Naxalism is seen as an aberration in the otherwise harmoni­ous tradition of Marx-Lenin-Stalin-Mao. It is the wrong application of the right theory. That the author has no conception of theory beyond Stalin and Mao is evident from the many banal conclu­sions he draws at the end of the book: ‘For Mar­xists, the most important lesson of the Naxalite movement is that it is suicidal to adopt a particular prototype of revolution without judging its relevance to the history, culture, social and economic condi­tions and political realities of the country concern­ed.’ One does not necessarily have to be a Marxist to arrive at this conclusion. What is significant, however, is that nowhere does one find a critique of the prototype, or of Maoism which is a given. The author's objection to Naxalism is that it does not represent the 'true' Maoism. Now what Maoism means is something that the author does not care to explain, for it is assumed that it is a continua­tion of Marxism-Leninism, just as it is assumed that there is a common conception of the latter. The author speaks of the 'correct' Marxist approach, and elsewhere, quotes Mao on...internationalism! Even where Dasgupta claims to undertake a critique of Naxalite ideology, he remains at the level of the particular, of the differing analysis made by the CPI(ML) on questions such as the class character of the Indian state, armed struggle etc. as against those of the CPM or the CPI. A critique of ideology demands an analysis of the theory on which it is based, on the political conceptions underlying the ideology, not a compari­son of programmes. The author tries to make up for his theoretical bankruptcy with a mixture of paternalism and apology when he tackles the ques­tion. He dwells at length on the fact that the CPI(ML) made the CPM its principal target of attack during the period of urban terrorism, and collaborated with the Congress and ...


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