Log in

COMRADE IRABOT AND CAPITALISM Dr Malem Ningthouja

Comrade Irabot has left with us a booklet entitled Capitalism . It is not known accurately as to when it was written and to what extent it was circulated to the people. However, it is likely that the booklet was written without much delay after he had adopted communist ideology while he was at the Sylhet Jail (1940 -1943) and after Manipur had experienced disastrous impacts of the Second World War (1939- 1945). It is believed that the booklet was used for ideological propaganda among the people when movement was launched after the formation of the Manipur Communist Party in 1948. In order to discuss the historical juncture of Manipur that the book was based on and the agenda of the book it is crucial to ana lyse ten years time period (1940 1950).The ten years period may be discussed as follows:(1) It was a period when Manipur had faced disastrous impacts of capitalism. On the one hand there was colonial oppression till the last moment of 14 August 1947 and on the other hand there were burdens of killings and destructions caused by the Second World War that was fought among the imperialist forces. It was also a period when peoples’ movement to establish responsible government was carried out till 1947 against the feudal regime that had been protected by the colonial rule. (2) It was a period when the Indian rulers were exerting strong pressures to establish rule over the peoples in the Northeast including Manipur. There were attempts to form new political entities such as NEFA and Purbanchal by merging Manipur with other entities with the alleged intension to wipe off the pre`existing status quo of Manipur. There was also large scale immigration of monopoly traders from India to control the market and Mayang war refugees from Myanmar. (3) Despite formal declaration of political independence from British rule in 1947, adoption of Manipur Constitution in 1947 and formation of a responsible government in 1948 the political power was controlled the Imphal Valley rich landlords headed by the king who had supported capitalism. There was also a section that was hatching plots in support of the Indian policy with the intension to fill personal coffer by selling off Manipur. Indian black laws were adopted and there were unrestraint suppressive actions against democratic movements of the Hmar and Mao peoples, and peasants and others.
(4) It was a period when communist movement was sweeping across the globe. In India communist movement was carried out under the guidance of the Soviet Russia. Communist parties were also rising in Burma. All these had catalytic impact on Irabot. Many who supported this goal were also carrying out movement to ensure growth and to protect democratic rights of the peasants. The State indulged in repressive actions to suppress them. The present booklet shall not deal in length with the history of the peasants and their democratic movements. It is sufficed to say that at the end there was open confrontation between Irabot and those who had supported capitalism. He tried best to sow the seed of revolutionary movement through circulation of literatures. His booklet Capitalism is a general outline to explain capitalism, colonialism and fascism. For all these reasons it remains crucial to discuss Irabot’s Capitalism The central issues raised in Capitalism are: (1) Capitalism is a political economy characterised by the capitalists who live by extraction of surplus value from the workers and resources of the peasants establishing themselves firmly and enjoying supreme control over the political power. Because of the exploitative policy of the profit hungry capitalists there developed class contradiction between the rich and the poor and it led to class confrontation.Wastages, destructions and unrests are developed due to the profit motivated over-production and competition among the capitalists. (2) Capitalism and colonialism went side by side. Fascism is the most brutal form of the capitalist colonial expansion. Due to capitalists propaganda many innocents are misled by blind nationalism and their lives are sacrificed in unjust wars. Unless capitalism is destroyed, despite a country might have overthrown colonial rule there cannot establish a society where equality, collective growth and peace would prevail.(3) A new social order where equality, collective growth and peace prevail can be possible only by revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist political economy. The new social order cannot be achieved by cosmetic reforms within the capitalist system. The revolution can be successful only by the movement under the leadership of the workers and peasants guided by the principle of classless society. However the capitalists continuously attempt to keep the workers and peasant parties weak by promoting sectarianism among them through cosmetic reforms and bribing the leaders. In other to overcome these challenges there is in need of a party that adopt correct ideology, farsighted strategy and committed tactics. Perception on India Irabot had challenged capitalism and the colonial rule associated with it. On the other hand he drew on a comparison among the capitalists depending on time and situation, and had termed Japanese fascism as more dangerous than British colonial rule. It is said that he had considered the Indian National Army as an enemy for its Japanese fascist connexion despite the fact that it had espoused Indian freedom. A pamphlet circulated on 12 December 1950 condemned the Nehruvian government as a fascist State. It meant that Nehru’s rule was adopting capitalism and extending colonial rule under the cloak of blind nationalism. Irabot had wanted an Independent Manipur in an Indian federation under a socialist system in the same manner of the Russian voluntary federation. It would not  be an exaggeration to argue that Irabot had supported the proposed federation model since the then Communist Party of India (till 1951 incorporated the right to secession) had supported voluntary federation. He was not inclined towards keeping Manipur under a capitalist colonial system. Irabot was not alone in opposing Nehru’s policy. Internationally, in 1931 Nehru was expelled from the League against Imperialism and for National Independence on the charge of deceiving the revolutionary youth and the working masses and a traitor to the cause of independence and an agent of imperialism. The Constituent Assembly of India debates and the correspondence letter between Nehru and Patel in 1950 would expose their capitalist and expansionist motives. The manner Manipur was forcibly annexed is being mentioned in the eye witness accounts of Nari Rustomji entitled the Enchanted Frontier and Anandmohan entitled Shillong 1949.Nehru’s ambition to create a super-national state stretching from the Middle East to SouthEast Asia and to exercise an important influence in the Pacific region is discussed in Suniti Kumar Ghosh’s book entitled the Indian Nationality Problem and Ruling Classes. Neville Maxwell’s India’s China War provides with descriptions about Nehru’s territorial ambition that was largely responsible for the war in 1962.In fact India as we know today is a post1947 invention. In 1947 the political power of British India was transferred to the monopolistic capitalist groups of Tata, Birla, Dalmia, Singhania,Bhatt, and comprador section of the Bombay bourgeoisie, capitalists from among Gujaratis and Parsis, Marwari moneylenders, Tamil usurers, etc., who were intimately linked to the princes, landlords and British capital. They adopted a capitalist socioeconomic system where social relations were based on commodities for exchange, in particular private ownership of the means of production and on the exploitation of wage labour and resources. The system has been perpetuated through means of suppression, subjective psychological propaganda, and other sectarian and counter progressive tactics that keep many divided and caught up in a vicious cycle of selfinflicting conflicts along communal and territorial interests.The capitalist path had necessitated territorial expansion. In other words, capital, which is both a pre-condition and outcome of capitalism, requires a territorial base to thrive on. Although territorial expansionism can be obstructed due to competition, rivalry, and protectionism among the capitalists of different countries, the Indian bourgeoisie took the advantage of imperial interregnum in South Asia in the post Second World War period to expand its territorial base wherever possible. While they selectively used blackmail or bribery or intimidation or military tactics to annex territory, they coined integrity jargons and carried nationhood propaganda to cover up forced annexation and military occupation. Till date the Indian constitution approves territorial annexation but no provisions on the right to secession.The Northeast, inhabited by economically backward tribal and peasant communities, apart from strategic calculation was important for; (a) labour, resources (water, uranium, oil, coal, precious stones, minerals, plantation, flora and fauna,tourism, carbon credits, and forest products), and market, (b) a buffer vis-à-vis presumed China, and (c) a military stockpile and commodity stocked for commercial expansion in South and South East Asia. They annexed the Northeast, forcibly integrated it into inter-territorial division of labour and subjected it to the restructured economic order as the primary supplier of labour, raw material, market, and military stockpile for Indian capitalist expansionism. Interestingly, whether a territory should be annexed to the extent of using military force as were the cases of Hyderabad, Kashmir, Manipur, etc. or should be kept as a subordinated neighbour as were the cases of Sikkim (now annexed), Bhutan and Nepal or should be shown favourable treatment as was the case of Burma (at the cost of the controversial Kabow Valley claimed by Manipur) was a meticulously worked-out capitalist programme.Capitalism from the current perspectives Irabot and the Manipur Communist Party under his leadership had stood against the policy of Nehru. However the rulers of our homeland had treated him as an enemy. In other words those who supported Nehru’s capitalism and expansionism became puppets and they launched repressive actions to root out the communist party and peasant movements. To defend the party and the movement Irabot took up arms. In this context the idea of “no internecine bloodshed” was discarded. Because, the internal traitors were several times more dangerous than the external enemy. It was necessary to fight and oust them. On the other hand, for the larger goal of revolutionary internationalism Irabot went to Burma and formed alliance with likeminded parties. However, his life ended as a guerrilla solider in the jungle on 26 September 1951. The question that may be raised is if Irabot’s perception on capitalism and the movement for an independent and classless society still relevant in the present context of Manipur. The question is being addressed as follows:
(1) The first two decades of the 21st century was remarkable in terms of increasing collaboration of the Indian big bourgeoisie with the imperialist cartels and financial institutions. They were increasingly penetrating into the Southeast Asian underdeveloped countries for markets and resources. They played direct or indirect roles in the US-led imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere and in extractive investments. Their role in the imperialist international division of labour was visible in the collaborative cum competitive engagement with the Chinese social-imperialists, investments in post-LTTE Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, etc. They were investing in the commercial networks spreading across the extensive Mekong-Ganga Riverbed stretches. In the Northeast, apart from other multinational companies and Indian banks, the ADB finance intrusion was gaining momentum. In tune with militarisation and war pre-emption the US army was permitted to conduct a series of military exercises in the jungles of Mizoram to adapt to guerrilla warfare. US FBI operations in Meghalaya are suspected. Protected Area Permit was lifted from the Northeast in 2011 probably under the pressure of the European Union, largely to promote foreigner strategic analysts in the guise of tourists. (2) On the other hand the Indian big bourgeoisie had withheld heavy industrialisation in India. India became a warehouse and market for foreign capitalist technologies and commodities, and exporter of assembled commodities. INDIA SHININGwas dominantly visible in the tertiary construction sub-sectors and in other secondary manufacturing sectors such as assembling of automobiles, expansion of telecom networks, etc. To maximise extraction of capital millions of tribal and peasants were being forcibly displaced at gunpoint to pavethe way for the installation of imperialist assembling units. At the same time a vast number of peasants were deprived of investment and impoverished due to forced extraction in order to fulfil the imperialist quota for food grains and other agrarian products. (3) In Manipur’s context the Indian big bourgeoisie had been closely working in cahoots with the subordinate ruling class composed of landlords, usurers, contractors, commission agents, corrupt officials, petty merchants, etc., who had been dependent on the Indian bourgeoisie for political and economic power. The latter did not directly create capital through investment in constant and variable capitals. They collectively indulged in accumulation of wealth through misappropriation of rent (in the form of central grants) received in return for exploitation of Manipur by the Indian bourgeoisie. They played crucial role in constituting puppet regimes in respectively carved out revenue blocs under the political command of the Indian State who also provided them with military back-up. (4) Increasing penetration by the State, market forces, immigration and job opportunities could not phase off the structural crisis leading to inequality and unrest. The State invested in cosmetic reformism to divert attention and militarization leading to suppression, repression and insecurity.
    




Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.

Leave a comment

Please do not post Hate Speech, derogatory, racist, obscene, spam comments.