The hoax of communism: A centennial reflection


The centenary of the revolution that heralded communism as a creed has come and gone. Communism across the world has nearly disappeared and therefore, there were no celebrations of the anniversary. The Indian communists preferred to remain silent, writing a few anodyne articles, and belching out a few perfunctory slogans of how the revolution is still alive and relevant. Those uttering these homilies and slogans are a part of that organised elite which has grown, nurtured and patronised by the communist system of the past. A century has proven the hoax and hollowness of communism, some had seen it much before the others had anticipated how the creed will one day crumble.

For Sri Aurobindo, Bolshevism was itself a “damnable intolerant religion” and its produce, communism, needed to be given a decisive blow. Political philosopher Ram Swarup, for example, was among those early thinkers who had, in the 1950s itself, when communism’s grip over the world was tightening, anticipated the disastrous and diabolical creed that it was.

With the exception of Jawaharlal Nehru, whose infatuation with communism continued till the near end, when he was severely jolted out of his reverie by China, many serious intellectuals, after having been exposed to communism, saw through its hypocrisy. Both Tagore and André Gide, to name just two, realised the folly of communism. Sita Ram Goel, the intrepid chronicler and articulator of our ideological quest, writes in his classic, “Genesis and Growth of Nehruism”, on Pandit’s Nehru’s fascination for communism thus, “Having studied Pandit Nehru’s writings, speeches and doings over the years, I could see quite clearly that it was his own infatuation for Communism which had made him blind towards communist designs at home and abroad, and at last trapped him in the cul-de-sac from which he was trying to find a way out…”

Ram Swarup, while analysing the foundations of Maoism in 1954, observed that where communism is sown “people reap the harvest of forced labour, thought-control, purges, speed-ups and a reduced standard of living.” It was imperative to tell people, argued Ram Swarup, that through communism “man’s evolution and future possibilities are getting typified and standardised, that through [it] man is becoming a spiritual dwarf and humanity is committing suicide, that their slogans of equality and peace hide ruthless exploitation and aggression.” The slogans of “New Democracy”, he cautioned, was “another name for ruthless party dictatorship”, while the term “New Culture” “was only euphemism for brain-washing and was to lead to unprecedented regimentation.”

Sita Ram Goel called the huge communist eco-system, the “communist-mafia” that controlled the academia and political decision-making. This “communist mafia”, Goel pointed out, had for long infiltrated the entrails of Indian society and spread its noxious acids from within.

Swarup describes this once vast and all-pervading communist eco-system in India thus, “according to Leninist-Maoist thinking, communism in a country does not come about spontaneously as a result of the sufferings of the people. On the other hand, a communist revolution has to be pushed through consciously by a cadre of professional revolutionaries indoctrinated in the thoughts of Marxism Leninism and trained in the art of subversion. Poverty and sufferings provide the objective conditions; subjective conditions are provided by organised elite….They [communist cadres] are surrounded by activists, allies, frontmen, fellow-travellers and dupes” who carry on with the agenda of subverting India and provide continuous flank support to the “professional revolutionaries.” Today under the camouflage of defending values and freedom, this network continues to be run in India, with a vast peripheral support from well-oiled academic and institutional stations in the West and elsewhere.

Though much whittled down, the broad communist ecosystem still continues along these lines and with the same objective of subverting India. Describing “Communist secularism”, a diluted version of which continues to plague Indian society to this day, Swarup noted that it was “anti-man, anti-progress. It is a new idol, a new cruel god which inspires persecution, aggression, thought-control, purges, liquidation, intolerance, fanaticism, indoctrination.” The continued fanaticism and intolerance displayed by Indian communists today is but a pale reflection of their former self.

André Gide developed a severe aversion to communism after his initial fall for it. Gide saw communism and fascism fuse together, “The Communist spirit has ceased being in opposition to the Fascist spirit, or even differentiating itself from it.” Gide saw the Soviet dream as an “oppressive Utopia, where enslaved minorities were never heard.”

In two books that he wrote after his visit to the Soviet Union, -Retour de l’ U.R.S.S. and Retouches à mon retour de l’ U.R.S.S (Return from USSR and A Retouch to my Return from USSR), Gide poured out his deep anguish and disillusionment, he was, wrote Enid Starkie, Irish literary critic, “distressed by the inequalities he saw, the poor return the masses of the people received for their patience and endurance; he was depressed by the drabness and ugliness of the clothes, the poor quality of the goods displayed in the shops and for which the people stood long hours in queues; and he was appalled by the lack of criticism and the absence of liberty of opinion and thought.”

Gide saw that the “same old capitalist society has been re-established, a new and terrible despotism crushing and exploiting man, with all the abject and servile mentality of serfdom.” He saw the rise of a “new privileged class” and the “dictatorship of the bureaucracy” holding sway over the system and the people with the “small, independent worker [becoming] a hunted animal, starved, broken and finally eliminated.”

For Gide, the keen observer of the human condition, the communist system succumbed to the same ills that it had professed to fight, “Man cannot be reformed from the outside – a change of heart is necessary – and I feel anxious when I observe all the bourgeois instincts flattered and encouraged” in the communist system “and all the old layers of Society forming again—if not precisely social classes, at least a new kind of aristocracy, and not an aristocracy of intellect or ability, but an aristocracy of right thinkers and conformists.”

For those who saw through the hoax and realised the immensely violent folly that was communism, there was no going back, it was a creed refused, rejected and relegated.

The centenary of the Bolshevik revolution has only reinforced that certainty. Communism is a ghost that lingers but one which will never be resurrected.

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