Giving Marx to our Leaders
Columns, Point of View

Giving Marx to our Leaders

July 7, 2020

By T.J.S. George

Karl Marx summed up a complete philosophy when he set forth the precept, ‘From each according to his ability?’ This was not communism. It was simply the acceptance of a guiding principle of life, that every individual had a responsibility to society. Does a father or a son, a factory owner or a businessman, a film star or a sportsman, a journalist or an engineer contribute to society according to the best of his ability?  If he doesn’t, he is living off others who do.

What about politicians?  Are they contributing according to their ability? Since Marx was the paramacharya of communism, it’s only fair to begin by asking whether our communist leaders contributed according to their ability? The men who emerged as communism’s most influential leaders, Jyoti Basu and E.M.S. Namboodiripad, were men of substance, respected by friends and foes alike for their intellectual calibre and political sagacity.  Their eminence within the party was unchallenged.

But their achievements on the ground as Chief Ministers did not measure up to their ability. In both the States, laws were changed with the sole aim of ending feudal landlordism, just as the textbooks said. What happened to agriculture in the process was not a matter of interest. In Bengal, regional imbalances developed and grassroots poverty levels rose high. The dilapidated tram system in Kolkata, a disgrace, continued as if to symbolise the stagnation. In Kerala, the fabled granary of Kuttanad lay waste because paddy fields were entrusted to IAS Officers to run. Today the State is dependent on imported foodgrains and vegetables.  In both States ideology won over reality. 

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In China reality won over ideology.  Deng Xiaoping created his own precept when he said famously that the colour of the cat did not matter as long as it caught mice. Cats of enterprise began catching mice so successfully in China that prosperity levels rose within one generation for vast sections of the population. If  EMS and Jyoti Basu had used their power to introduce similar reforms in the party, the story of India would have been different. But they chose to be men of the moment, not men of history.  After them the party went from bad to worse until, in West Bengal, it was thrown out of power and in Kerala, it became synonymous with murder politics with Prakash Karat, CPM’s most inconsequential General Secretary, spending his time reading text books.

The story is no different elsewhere. Jawaharlal Nehru enjoyed popularity and power rare in democracies. With the Parliamentary majority he enjoyed there was nothing he could not achieve. He did introduce attitude-altering reforms that helped modernise the country. But it cannot be said that he did the best according to his ability. There were badly needed changes that only he had the influence to introduce. Administrative and Police changes, for example. The British had developed the Civil Service and the Police Force to act as masters and oppressors of the people. They remain just that to this day.  What was easy to reform then would be                    difficult now.

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Indira Gandhi’s power and popularity reached dizzy heights in 1971 following the Bangladesh War. Yet, within four short years, she took the country to its lowest ebb with the imposition of Emergency.  Rajiv Gandhi’s Parliamentary majority reached a record 404 out of 533 in 1984.  He even declared a well-meant plan to clean things up and imaginative programmes in key areas like telecommunication. But he caved in soon, unable to stop relatives from abroad and friends at home from manipulating the system for private ends. The system devoured him. None of the Gandhis served the country according to their abilities. They made the country serve them.

Ditto with other parties.  Mamata Banerjee, with her eccentric twists and turns, is yet to achieve anything of substance. Mayawati used power to immortalise herself in statues and monuments.  The prophet of socialism, Mulayam Singh Yadav, turned ranking criminals into Cabinet Ministers.  The less said about the socialist of Bihar, Lalu Prasad, the better.

Even A.B. Vajpayee was forced by party pressures to abandon policies of moderation and turned himself into a narrow Hindutva warrior.  The Chief Minister in whose watch the Gujarat riots took place adjusted himself deftly after he became Prime Minister in 2014. But ideological beliefs were strong and he seemed happy to see the fanatic fringe growing. When those who have the power to act wisely do not do so, they fail to function according to the best of their ability. Marx prescribed a yardstick that was tough. And fair.

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Giving Marx to our Leaders”

  1. Jasbir Singh says:

    Mark this statement – ” The Chief Minister in whose watch the Gujarat riots took place adjusted himself deftly after he became Prime Minister in 2014.” .
    The multiple inquiry committees including the SIT probe under Supreme courts supervision, under the UPA government and it’s finding that there were no proof or basis of any wrongdoing by the them CM (now PM) is not worth mentioning because it is not helpful to the rhetoric we are trying to prove here!
    Today, China is forced to pull back! Not all people are happy! People who write in SOM must be in for a shock! Chinese must be very furious with our media! After all what else they could do? Reading all the media’s hysteria that our Armed forces are puny and India don’t stand a chance! Even people like TJS George, SOM cartoonist did their share when showing loyalty to communists! The SOM cartoons like the one where our “Make in India” lion is wounded by Demonetization, Noteban, GST, Lock-down appears so puny and weak, looks unable to even stand up let alone fight the Chinese army, Congress folks cheering the Chinese and criticizing and doubting our Army’s every move – really gave them a feeling of confidence that the Chinese army can even walk up to Delhi without any resistance! Of course anybody said that Indian Army was competent was branded as a Bhakth, abused on every social media platform and driven away! Many ‘bhakths’ stopped responding giving an impression that entire India was failing and looking forward to Chinese takeover!
    Now when our Army even though Chinese army practiced deception, proved there mettle and all the pro communist news that was in India media really hurt the Chinese ! Now the flame of boycotting Chinese products is spreading to the west also!
    I always believed in what Purandara dasa sang ‘Nindakarirabeku” . Today, I can confidently say, these ‘Nindakaru’ even beyond our Army, served the nation by sticking to their loyalty and getting Chinese a bloody tiny nose! This could not be done without the wrong narrative set by these people that our government, Army and everything else are losing!
    For China, this looks like the ‘Is Paris Burning’ moment! They were burnt by the Anti Modi Rhetoric from congress and the communists lies and paid a price for trusting them!
    Here is a message for ‘Bhakths’ – if somebody abuses Modi or BJP or the government and produces leads a mis-information campaign, you need not respond! Not many Indians may be reading them, but Chinses and Pakis are reading! Why would you deprive them of the crap they deserve!
    if all that media is saying about BJP and Modi is true, then we are al confident, Rahul will be our PM in 2024 without any effort! He is showing off his performance on a daily basis and can almost get a feel of how it will be if he becomes the PM!

  2. Sam says:

    @Jasbir , Very good observation! While various sections of the media are haggling about who deserves the credit of Chinese being pushed back, some say it was Modi government deserves the credit while others say it is our Army who deserves all the credit! Some others argue that, before 2014 , for decades, same Army looked the other way before as per the orders, so it should be the Government! The real desrving people are overlooked!
    I think the total credit of this Chinese pulling back should be given to Congress, Communists and their sympathizers like some sections of the Anti Modi Media, secular and JNU gang etc! They continuously doubted everything our Army achieved as well as their capabilities , even if it meant demoralizing them, They continuously grilled the government so well that anybody who observed these could come to the conclusion that our Army was weaker than in the year 1962! That was a morale booster for Chinese! That is the main reason why they acted very aggressively! Now tell me who deserves the credit! Rahul Gandhi and his aides alone deserve the lion share

  3. Howdy Modi! says:

    China has just disengaged from the front like. Has not really vacated any gained territory in June.

  4. Past Mysorean says:

    “There were badly needed changes that only he had the influence to introduce. Administrative and Police changes, for example. The British had developed the Civil Service and the Police Force to act as masters and oppressors of the people”
    George , who is well informed has got this wrong, when he attributes the failure of reforming the civil service and police to Nehru. If he does some research, and reads published work of what happened when leaders like Nehru and Patel too mover the administration of India . Nehru wanted to abolish the civil service as then existed and wanted to replace something different. But Patel opposed this claiming that when the civil service was working, replacing it would cause chaos. He just fiddled it, by introducing the IAS cadre of officers replacing the ICS cadre, and the officers had to be young men -mostly then , who appeared for a nation-wide competitive exam, and those who passed with good results, were selected to be trained as IAS officers. Similarly for the police with their own IPS cadre.
    In countries like US, these officers are usually a mix of elected officials and where appropriate the officers of the Federal Service. The result is a constant tension there as the politics , particularly the party politics ( Republican/Democrat) takes over. One can see the effect of this: no uniform standard of decision-making from state to state, even within a state as the elected officials assert their superiority. The politics of the elected mayor and the police officials dictate the ways, the latter function. The result has always been the police brutality witnessed recently in Minneapolis. Marxist administrations do not do better. In a Marxist state there is always a strong cabal of hardened Marxists around the leader, who is the leader of the country. Zimbabwe is an example. They are no less corrupt, Strangely the hard right and the hard left: the Marxist states
    function in similar way.
    It is not right to put Basu and EMS in the same basket. EMS, was clever, compassionate and was a better man than Basu. Even though I did not like his politics, having heard his speeches in Mysuru,there was no question of his sincerity. Perhaps if EMS lived at a later time in China when Deng was ruling, he would have done much better.
    Karl Marx, was a selfish, well to do German Jew, who did well living in London and happily spending his time in the British Library writing his Das Kapital, a load of nonsense. He is turning and twisting in his grave in the High Gate Cemetery in London looking at how his Marxism has changed.

  5. Past Mysorean says:

    I should add this:
    When Marx’s hard dogma of public ownership was harnessed and adapted in healthcare in Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and in almost all Western European countries and Canada, the results have been strikingly good. In the former list of countries, emerging from WWII, the most important aspect was healthcare, as people could not afford private healthcare. It has now well developed so much so that no citizen in these countries,is afraid to fall ill, is afraid not to afford medicines and even specialist services , as they are free. These are some of the rich countries in the world today with well developed economy.
    It is interesting to see that the above countries, consider the fall out from the Covid-19 infection, as if emerging from a war, and have been generously helping the poor , the unemployed and those who are in need of help with generous government cash. Interesting also that in the above countries, the right-of-centre governments rule today, and they are doing this! They have succeeded in harnessing the hard -left rigid almost dogmatic Marx’s socialism into a kinder and gentler philosophy. No poor goes hungry. Even with a large public sector, the corruption is almost negligent. India needs this approach.
    Interesting also that the Israel founding fathers like David Bengurion adapted socialism, and using it he managed to develop Israel, and his successors for a time did the same. The results were dramatic. The private and public sectors worked hand -in -hand, just in the same way they have worked in the above countries. I would take exception to the current government of Israel, which has deviated from the path which made that country such a force.
    I know Karl Marx would not approve these adaptations. But then, his theory was just a fairy tale.

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