Sunday 27 December 2015

What it Means to be Leftist

A few days ago, I read an article entitled

What it Means to be Leftist,

which appeared in India as an editorial in the political magazine Frontier. I read it because the question is very important. Here is the link

I was very dissatisfied with the text, which is the response of the editor to the question she herself had put. So I wrote the following letter to the editor. I do not know whether the magazine will publish it. So I post it on this blog.
    I hope my readers would be interested.

Letter to the editor

the editor
Reg. The editorial What it Means to be Leftist
         In Frontier, December 20 – 26, 2015

Dear Sir,
the title attracted me very much, but the text disappointed me at least as much. You put a fundamental question, but what you serve us in response is only a critique of the current political maneuvers of only two Indian parties that are traditionally considered to be left parties. It is far from adequate to the title-question. I know this question is being put in many parts of the world.
    In the last paragraph you write: "The communist left needs theory …". I agree very much. I suppose you mean a new theory. Otherwise you would have written that the communist left should follow their traditional theory, namely Marxism or Marxism-Leninsm or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, in order to define their task at the present time. But then you yourself arbitrarily lay down very narrow parameters within which this new theory should be produced: "… a theory which can generate momentum in people's struggles within Indian borders, … ." Why within Indian borders? A new theory, especially one that should be produced by the communist left, should be meant to have validity for the whole world. Communists are not supposed to be provincial. Such a new theory building process must begin with an objective analysis of the present world situation. Only then should one define the task at the present juncture.
    Why don't you tell the author of the editorial that she herself should suggest the outlines of this new theory? I am feeling tempted to suggest a beginning of this new theory building process: Walter Benjamin wrote:

"Marx says revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps it is entirely different. Revolutions are perhaps the attempt of humanity travelling in a train to pull the emergency brake."

With best wishes

Saral Sarkar