Struggle on Many Fronts – Communists and Capitalism

Prabhat Patnaik’s “The Communists and the Building of Capitalism“, evidently an ideological and polemic-ridden article, makes some interesting points particularly in the context of the debates about espousing of capitalist principles by Communist governments in India. This would be relevant to the situation in Nepal as the Maoists have clearly won the recent election. Similar dilemmas of ‘democracy’ exist elsewhere too.

“Does the fact of communist-led state governments operating within a capitalist system and hence playing host to private investment, necessarily entail that the communists have abandoned socialism? The media reactions to statements by some West Bengal communist leaders would suggest that the answer is a clear yes. But this is a non-sequitur. It is worth examining the issue theoretically, even if it involves restating certain bread-and-butter theoretical propositions.

……….Since the conditions for such a social revolution take time to mature, all communist parties must work within the capitalist system for long stretches of time, bringing theory to the working class and helping it through its struggles to prepare itself for the task of leading this revolution.

All this however presupposes that the democratic revolution, which the bourgeoisie had led historically, has been more or less completed, so that a socialist revolution has come on the agenda. But in societies where the bourgeoisie appears late on the scene, it proves singularly incapable of completing the democratic revolution itself, and instead makes common cause with feudal and pre-bourgeois elements, since it is afraid that any attack on pre-bourgeois property could well encompass an attack on bourgeois property as well. This compromise, which was evident in the case of pre-revolutionary Russia, incorporates a compromise with imperialism as well in the context of third world societies.”

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