Marxism, Leninism And Jaffna Jingoism

In the 21st century there is nothing more stupid as anachronistic Marxists quoting outdated Lenin to find answers for contemporary problems from his theories which never succeeded even during his time to solve his own problems. For instance, in the spring of 1919 workers were chanting in the streets of Petrograd: “Down with Lenin and horseflesh / Give us Tsar and pork.” (p.531 – Life and Death of Lenin, Robert Payne.) If Lenin had all the answers to the problems he faced the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) – a grand euphemism for oppressive Russian imperialism -- would not have ended in the Berlin Wall. Nor would it have gone down the ill-fated path of Stalinism.

If Lenin was the far-seeing political prophet of our age, as claimed by his devotees, he should have, at least, laid the unshakeable foundations for his Marxist utopia which no Stalin could have perverted. Of course, his decline in health after he was shot by a woman and his early death failed him and his cause. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Stalin built his Communist tyranny on the foundations laid by Lenin. Lenin imposed reforms through the sheer might of institutionalized terror and his regime emerged as a new form of Czarism, re-invented and reinforced to consolidate the rule of the new class of Communist party bureaucrats (Trotsky and Milovan Djilas) who reigned supreme by ramming the self-serving “dictatorship of the proletariat” down the throat of Russia and its neighbouring coloniesz_p06-Jaffna-01.jpg

In the dying days of Czarism Russia was ready for reform but not for the Bolsheviks. After the collapse of Czarist feudalism the next step in historical evolution was capitalism. The leap from feudalism to communism overnight was too much of a strain for backward Russia. Marx was expecting the workers revolution to come from the industrialized West (Germany and Britain) and not feudal Russia.

But Leon Trotsky argued that it is possible to skip the capitalist stage and leap straight into socialism from feudalism. This thesis was expounded by him in his theory of Permanent Revolution. Believing in their own politically expedient propaganda the Bolsheviks were bent on turning their naked power grab into the myth of a workers’ revolution written in their text books. Out of the political necessity to brand it as a “workers’ revolution” came the myth of the “October Revolution”. There was no uprising of grass root forces sweeping the land mass from Vladivostok to Moscow, breaking through all barriers as in the Chinese or Cuban revolutions. It was not even a revolution of the working class. It was in reality a coup d’etat staged by a handful of Bolsheviks, as argued by E. H. Carr.

Regime change

Trotsky, more than any other Bolshevik leader, played a decisive role in it. The coup, of course, consolidated the regime change in which the ancien regime of Czars was overthrown. The revolution, if it was that, was in the regime change which ushered in a new era in Russian history.

The “October Revolution” was essentially a power play at the top led by the intellectual elite. It was the Navy that played a critical role on the ground more than the masses leading or executing the regime change. Sergei Eisentein’s masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin, captured this aspect of the “October Revolution” graphically.

 

The masses had no role to play in it until later. The internal dynamics generated by the coup staged by the Bolsheviks made the dictatorship of Lenin and his successor Stalin an inevitability. In the prevailing chaotic milieu they had no other alternative to hang on to power other than through a dictatorship. They were faced with the task of managing new forces which had no preceding historical example for them to follow.

The English Revolution (1640 – 1660) and the French Revolution (1789) overthrew feudalism and put the rising bourgeoisie firmly in the saddle. The short-lived Paris Commune (1871) was lost even before it began. It was against this historical background that the entire burden of Russian history fell on the laps of the Bolsheviks. They had neither the institutions nor past historical precedents to guide them into socialism. Besides, as history has proved, Lenin and Trotsky were far ahead of their time and were lost in the abstract theories which were totally inadequate and irrelevant to get them out of the grim ground realities confronting them.

Marx had already spelled out that the next stage in history after feudalism was capitalism, not socialism. Socialism was to rise from the ashes of capitalism, not feudalism. True to his prediction, post-Czarist history ran through a convoluted course until failed communism of Leninism-Stalinism finally came to rest in Putin – the capitalist stage that the Bolsheviks decided to skip. Meandering history always finds its own level. Lenin and Trotsky were aberrations.

According to Marxist history the Bolsheviks should have come after a few more Putins, if the historical circumstances could mature for the opening up space for the socialist revolution. In `1917 the Bolshevik Revolution was doomed to fail because it was too premature for Russia to jump from feudalism to socialism. Lenin was trapped inside a theoretical strait-jacket and there was no space for socialism to be the liberating force that they imagined it to be. Result: Communism replaced Czarism. Communism did give the coup de grace to crumbling Czarist feudalism. Communism also pulled Russia out of the bullock cart age and lifted it to a nuclear power. But it failed to provide bread and butter to the comrades who toiled under Leninist-Stalinist dictatorship.

Lenin and Trotsky

It didn’t take long for Lenin to establish his dictatorship. On December 20, 1917 Lenin passed a decree to set up the dreaded Cheka, the secret police, which turned out to be the main instrument of oppression used to retain their grip on the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. To a ruthless Stalin it was a Lenin-given tool to hunt all his opponents, including brilliant Trotsky, to the ends of the earth. Siberian gulags became the ultimate home of the Russian idealists who joined fiery and impatient Lenin and Trotsky to transform earth into heaven. Countless Russians and other nationalities under Lenin and Stalin paid with their precious lives for the failures of these false prophets. In the end when the Soviet Union imploded and collapsed it had turned into an Orwelllian nightmare. It began with workers asking for bread in Petrograd and it ended also without a piece of bread for the endless queues in Moscow. I remember crossing over to East Berlin at Check Point Charlie in the late sixties. It was lunch time and when my escort took me to buy some fruit for lunch I was taken to a fruiterer who had only two wrinkled apples in his stall.

Karl Marx

Our local Marxists, who think that sun shines out of Lenin’s pants, know all this and more and continue to believe and act as if Lenin was the prophet who could have brought down paradise from heaven to earth. One such deluded Marxist is Prof. Kumar David (KD). For all his theoretical knowledge of Marxism KD runs around like a headless zombie reciting mantras from Marx’s dysfunctional Jurassic Park. He is the kind of Leninist devotee who thinks that Lenin could have even walked on the waters of Nandikadal without going down like Prabhakaran. He hides behind Marxism to cover up his Tamil racism. Ideological Tamil extremism comes dressed in many garbs.

At one extreme the Tamil separatists were dressed in the Emperor’s clothes of Gandhians. At the other extreme they donned the rabbinical garb of Marx, or that of the Vadukoddian sadhus like Neelan Tiruchelvam and his acolyte Radhika Coomaraswamy. From both ends these mono-ethnic extremists provided rationalizations and ideological justifications, first, by demonizing the Sinhala-Buddhists as the bogey-man and, second, by injecting Western theoretical mumbo-jumbo to lend respectability to Vadukoddian violence. KD barged in from the Marxist end disguising his Tamil racism as the essence of distilled Marxist / Leninist dogma. However, all his ideological gymnastics do not go beyond the borders of vulgar Jaffna Jingoism. He seeks theoretical refuge in Marxist / Leninism to give his Prabhakaranism some spit and polish.

Tamil Diaspora

In the post-Nandikadal period he has been preoccupied with his obsession of finding Leninist quotes to breathe new life into failed Prabhakaranism. In devious ways he seems to equate Leninism with Prabhakaranism. He views C. V. Wignewaran as the middle-man who is currently playing the role of Prabhakaran’s flag-carrier with a touch of S. J. V. Chelvanayakam’s “little now and more later”. He is elated that Wigneswaran’s role conforms to his version of Leninism. He is also out to mobilize the desperate and despondent Tamil forces, particularly in the Diaspora, who believe that Prabhakaran is hiding and waiting in some mysterious hole for the opportune moment to rise like Lazarus and strike back.

After Nandikadal KD was twisting in the jingoist winds. In desperation he sent out a “Leninist call” to the Tamil Diaspora urging them to carry on the failed mission of Prabhakaran. He knew that organized Vadukoddian violence pursued to its extreme end by Prabhakaran has no potential to rise and regain its military power to challenge the GOSL. According to his theory power has shifted to the Tamil Diaspora and he was urging them take over from Prabhakaran. The Tamil Diasporians in Norway who responded to his call sent Gobi. Now that KD knows the result of his Leninist tactics what page is he going to quote from the complete works of Lenin for his next move?

Great Tamil Chauvinism

He has even chastised Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka accusing him of abandoning Leninism of his salad days. KD’s argument is that all Leninist must back Jaffna Jingoism. According to his calculations 80% of Prabhakaranism+90% of Chelvanayakamism+100% of Wigneswaramism = Leninism. Ergo, Dayan is not a Leninist because he doesn’t back KD’s political equation. But what he has failed to grasp is that on this occasion, in rejecting KD’s jingoism, Dayan, like Lenin, has rejected “the Great Tamil Chauvinism”. If KD knows his local history like the way he knows his Russian history and had read it, removing his jingoist blinkers, he would know that the Jaffna political class which steered peninsular politics in feudal, colonial and post-colonial times were responsible exclusively for driving the Great Tamil Chauvinism all the way to Nandikadal, a point of no return. Jaffna politics which began with a claim for one extra seat in the Western electorate in the twenties, in addition to the seats allotted to them in the North, escalated to 50-50 in the thirties and then to “federalism” in the forties and then to separatism in the fifties – all of which happened before S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, the bogey man of Jaffna Tamils, gained power in 1956. The myth is that Bandaranaike caused all the problems for the Tamils. But the suicidal Jaffna Tamils had already dug their grave long before Bandaranaike swept into power in 1956. It is time that KD changed his myopic lenses. If he has even a smidgen of intellectual integrity left in him he should take another critical look at his obsession with Jaffna Jingoism (in Leninist terms “the Great Tamil Chauvinism’) instead of sweeping under the carpet the mono-ethnic extremism of the English-educated Vellahla political class/caste that led to Nandikadal, dragging the misled Tamil civilians along with them.

Right now KD is in a bind. Not knowing how to restart the failed Prabhakaranist military offensive which gives the Jaffna Jingoists a bargaining power, and not knowing how to how revive Jaffna Jingoism without looking like a Tamil racist, he is resorting to Leninism to give some respectability to his degrading racist politics. He is ashamed to reveal his real political stance which is, in plain language: “I am a Tamil racist. I am frustrated that Vadukoddian violence failed to achieve Tamil Eelam. I can’t say this in public. So I am taking cover behind Leninism.”

He is trying to pull wool over the eyes of the people by equating his jingoism with Leninism. He obviously operates on his cynical premise that there is a sucker born every minute who will be willing to swallow his bitter Prabhakaranist pill coated with sugary Leninism. I am glad that Dayan is not one of them.

 


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