Foreword by Philip Spratt
Why is there so much puzzlement about the politics of Jawaharlal Nehru? As Goel reminds us, and every newspaper reader can recall, he himself frequently says that he agrees in principle with the Communists. Why is he not taken at his word?
We do not take him at his word, because he says and does many other things, and so we do not realise how closely the relevant parts of his policy accord with this particular avowal. When I read the articles in this book, I was quite surprised. He is a very much more faithful Communist than I had realised.
But the principal reason why we do not fully accept his own statements that he is a Communist is that our image of the Communist is so different. We think of the Communist as a man with no interests ourside politics, a fanatic working furiously for the cause, an offensive, truculent person, or if he has to indulge in camouflage, a wily deceiver, and at all times a docile follower of the party line. That is not a false picture, but there are many whom it does not fit. Many Communists are also ambitious; many have a liking for the fleshpots; some have serious interests outside politics, though their theory assures them that there is nothing outside politics; no doubt there are some who do not accept the more abstract parts of the Communist theory, as there are certainly many who ignore it; and there are some, even within the party, who are not slavish followers of the party line.
Nehru is a Communist in this broader sense. He accepts increasing governmental power, socialisation and mechanisation, as both inevitable and desirable. He is strongly attached to the existing Communist governments, and when they clash with other governments he almost invariably supports them. He is in a sense aware of the dark side of Communism as it has existed up to now, but he neutralises this awareness by the Communist procedure of considering history in block-stages. The “bourgeois era” is thus made responsible for all the unpleasant things that have happened in the past few centuries, and the facts that some bourgeois systems have outgrown many of the old evils, and that it appears possible to achieve a bourgeois world system which would be much preferable to the Communist world system, are ignored. The Marxian scheme of block-stages does not contemplate such facts.
Here, it is true, Nehru may deviate somewhat from the orthodox Communist position. The bourgeois world system was sketched by Woodrow Wilson. It provides for substantially independent nations, running their internal affairs in their own way, under a very limited world authority, like the League or the U.N. The Communists insist on substantial uniformity, through a Communist Party monopoly of power, in the internal affairs of all nationas, and until the rise of “polycentrism” they contemplated a highly centralised world government. Wisdom may be dawning on them now, but we do not yet know how far they will go.
In this controversy Nehru no doubt stands with the revisionists, but that is a matter of little immediate importance. On the questions that arise now, though he looks so different he is a Communist in practice. The figure in world politics who most resembles him is Castro. Castro got into power on false pretences. i.e. as a liberator, not as a Communist, but within a year or so he had liquidated his opponents and built up the Communists so far that he was able to drop the mask. Nehru got into power on the same false pretences, i.e. as a liberator, not as a Communist, and he has proceeded in the same direction, but far more cautiously. Castro succeed Batista; Nehru succeeded Gandhi on the one hand, and the legalistic British regime on the other. The two legacies between them have cramped his Communist style. Nehru has sometimes sighed for a cadre such as Mao Tse-tung built up during the Long March. With such a cadre he might not have lagged so far behind Castro. But such a cadre, while it might have enabled him to enforce Communism, would not have made it any more congenial to India. Communism is the policy of a small group of intellectuals, who are building a governing machine with a vested interest in Communism, but it remains wholly alien to this conservative, religious, individualistic, property-conscious, peasant-minded country. Just as in Russia and China, Communism can be forced upon India only by a usurper regime.
When I have argued in this way, people object that Nehru has made no attempt to impose the Communist policy in regard to religion, education, freedom of opinion, personal liberty, and so on. The Gandhian legacy has been too strong; if he had tried he would have been overthrown. But through a series of constitutional amendments, he has systematically cut down the right to property, which most theorists regard as a necessary bulwark, in the long run, of the other freedoms. As for civil, religious and intellectual liberty, the Communists always profess to respect them. They are fully provided for in the Soviet constitution. Stalin himself claimed to recognise the necessity for discussion and the clash of opinions. But in practice Communists concentrate all power in the hands of the government, leaving no countervailing force to balance it. Consequently, the libertarian provisions of their constitution cannot be enforced. They are totally ignored in practice, and it is more than anyone’s life is worth to protest. Nehru’s attitude in this matter is, therefore, in accordance with the abstract theory of Communism. What he would have done if he had enjoyed total power is anyone’s guess.
An item of his policy which, I believe, testifies to Nehru’s Marxist feeling, though it is no longer Communist orthodoxy, is his tolerance of corruption. Before the revolution the Bolsheviks obtained their funds by organising a prolonged campaign of dacoities, by seducing heiresses, and by taking big subsidies from the German Government. The last was kept quiet, though it has been proved recently from German Foreign Office documents, but the other two were well-known, and the party leaders had not objection: why bother about bourgeois financial prejudices? Nehru has the same bohemian attitude towards audit objections: they belong to the fussy bourgeois era of Gokhale and Gandhi.
Nehru’s Communism is revealed in the extraordinary favour he shows to the Communist Party, as contrasted with his marked coolness towards the socialists who put democracy first, like the PSP. He allows the Russian Government, and apparently the Chinese too, to subsidise them. It has been admitted in Parliament that the Home Department knows about some of these foreign funds. No other ruler in the world tolerates this kind of thing. Why does Nehru?
His Communism has been clearly revealed in his foreign policy. He cannot go wholly over to the Communist bloc, but he will not take the protection of the free countries, so India remains defenceless. China’s big attack came a year after Goel’s articles, and fully bore out his warning. It even moved Nehru for the moment, but he quickly went back to the policy which made the attack possible.
His Communism is also shown in his economic policy. Its deficiencies in Russia and China have become generally known in recent years, but he still persists with it. He is not even disabused of collective farming, despite its spectacular failure everywhere. This over-centralised, one-sided, state-controlled economy is building up a great vested interest, political and bureaucratic and indeed capitalistic, which he doubtless relies upon to keep it going when he has stepped down.
Ten years ago the Congress Party was by no means socialistic. When the resolution on the socialistic pattern was passed at Avadi, an important Congressman compared it to the Emperor Akbar’s Din Ilahi. Socialism, he said, is Nehru’s personal fad, which will quickly be forgotten when he passes from the scene. It seemed a shrewd judgement at the time, but it overlooked the attraction of socialism for a ruling party of hungry careerists. The experience of socialism in the nine years since than has won many Congressmen over. But there are still many who oppose it, and its continuance in the future is not yet assured. That, I take it, is the real inwardness of the Kamaraj Plan. The purpose of the current goings-on is to arrange the succession to Nehru in such a way that the pro-communists retain control.
The dispute over this question is of the greatest importance for India’s future. But the partisans on both sides are still afraid of speaking plainly, and many of the public are still unaware of what it is all about. Goel’s book helps greatly in making clear what the groups in the Congress are fighting over. It is really whether India shall continue to be ruled by a Government of usurpers, who will go on pushing the country against its will towards Communism, or the Government shall follow a policy which genuinely commends itself to the majority of the public.
October 25, 1963