Manik Mukherjee, co-chairperson of the International Anti-Imperialist and People's Solidarity Coordinating Committee and a leader of the Socialist Unity Center of India, spoke to a gathering of political activists in New York City at the Solidarity Center on Sept. 19.
Those at the meeting included Marxists and other activists originally from the Philippines, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India besides those working with the International Action Center in New York.
The IAPSCC is holding its third international conference, this one in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where it will coordinate its work with the mass movement there. Mukherjee said, "We are getting positive responses from many countries and expect it to be a big success."
Mukherjee warned about the growing collaboration between U.S. imperialism and the government of India, which he characterized as "also an imperialist power." He gave a historic overview of the developments in India since the country's liberation from Britain.
"In 1948-1949, the government produced a five-year plan and claimed that was socialism. Big industry was supposed to gradually go over to state ownership. (Jawaharlal) Nehru promoted this project.
"Many people believed state ownership was socialism. This is not so. The Communist Party of India at the time (it has since split into the Communist Party of India and the CPI-Marxist) both supported the Nehru government. They advocated nationalization of the banks. But U.S. imperialism knew it was not really socialism."
Later, in response to a question, Mukherjee explained the difficulty posed to revolutionary parties because the CPI and the CPI-M have been the parties in state power, but the state is still a capitalist state. Thus the CPI-M takes the responsibility in many cases for crushing workers' and peasants' struggles, as they did over the last few years in West Bengal. Mukherjee also differentiated his group from the Naxalites, who he said carry out their struggle with participation by the masses.
On U.S.-India relations, Mukherjee stated: "In 1948 India was a relatively weak capitalist or imperialist power. But it was able to accept help from both the United States and the Soviet Union, and gave the appearance of being neutral.
"Now Indian imperialism is much stronger. India and China have both been free of the economic crisis that is buffeting the U.S., Europe and Japan. The U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy are all suffering from recession.
"The collaboration between India and the U.S. will continue. India needs the U.S. market. Washington wants the alliance in order to contain China. Both target China."
Mukherjee described the potential for further struggle in the country: "In India, 65 percent of the people live below the poverty line. Only 10 percent of the people are earning enough to live reasonably comfortably. A tiny number of very wealthy capitalists — among the richest people in the world — are able to buy industries in England. But industry is gradually being closed in India.
"Though India is doing relatively well now, we have no illusions that India will escape the capitalist crisis, which can't be avoided.
"The capitalists are unable to invest in new industrial production, except in new war industries, and the governments spend on the 'defense' industry.
"However," Mukherjee stressed, "there is no automatic development of class and political consciousness from the crisis. The capitalist economy is unable to provide, so people are rebelling. But in the absence of a revolutionary party this rebellion is limited. The subjective conditions are not there yet.
"A conscious proletarian movement will develop from within with the help of a Marxist-Leninist party. A revolutionary party will have to educate the people. This can only be done under the leadership of a communist party in India."
Clearly referring to organizing internationally, including in the United States, Mukherjee said, "a party like Workers World Party will have to expand its influence and will have to explain to the people what will be needed."
"It is impossible to solve the problems of the crisis — to provide for health, jobs, environment, peace — while maintaining the same system we have today. We will need a system of peoples' power like the soviets of the 1917 Russian Revolution."
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