Study Circle 9 of 2019 – Alliances, democracy, war

DYFI-CUC organised the ninth study circle of the year today, and we finally finished reading Emile Burns’ What Is Marxism?


We read Chapter 8, A Guide To Action. The chapter emphasises the point that Marxism is not solely an academic discipline, but is meant to provide the knowledge and method to guide action towards a higher stage of production. We discussed about how that transition is not automatically made, and how suffering caused by capitalism does not by itself lead to a revolution.


The chapter discusses the Marxist answers to three questions: Which classes should ally against old systems, and when? When should communists participate in Parliamentary democracy? What kinds of wars are just wars?


The general answer is that it depends on the circumstances and on one question: do the alliances, Parliamentary participation, and war further working class interests? Even if the question is simple, the analysis has to be based on a close, often contentious, examination of circumstances.


We discussed what this means for whether Left parties in India should ally with the Congress. We talked about an essay by PMS Grewal that says that the question of this alliance is dependent on whether the Indian state is fascist or fascism is imminent. He concludes that fascism is not imminent in India, and that’s why the energies of the Left parties are better spent building an independent left movement. However, we also acknowledged that if an alliance is made, it would not necessarily be opportunistic, but likely based on a conclusion that fascism is, in fact, imminent.


We also spoke of technological monopolies and platform capitalism, and how this changes which classes should now ally against imperialism, which itself is fast-changing – big traders, for example, also find themselves threatened now.


On war, we talked about how Lenin, during the first world war, advised the working classes of the warring countries to use the inter-imperialist crisis to overthrow the ruling classes of their respective countries instead of killing fellow workers from other countries. However, during the second world war, Burns explains, the situation warranted the working classes of the allied countries to contribute to the war effort of their own ruling classes, because the fascist advance would be a setback to working class interests and liberation struggles worldwide.


For the next study circle, we voted on what topic to read about. We wanted to read about the Marxist approach to caste, the fundamentals of Marxist economics, the agrarian crisis, and the basics of Marxist philosophy. We decided to read the works of EMS Namboodiripad and BT Ranadive on caste, followed by Marx’s Wage, Labour and Capital.


Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi