ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Importance of Democracy in Socialism

This response to Sumanta Banerjee's "Revolutionary Movements in a Post-Marxian Era" (EPW, 5 May 2012) entifi es the democracy deficit as the main internal obstacle to a new revolutionary practice informed by Marxism.

The French and Russian revolutions have left an indelible mark on the contending ideologies of capitalism and socialism in an epochal sense. But in both the cases, capitalism not only survived but also extended its material and ideological sphere of ­infl- uence. The fall of “really existing socia­lism” necessitates wide-ranging interactions and debates for evolving a conceptual framework beyond those of the traditional Marxist parties. The ­infallibility of the central committees of a communist parties was premised on their being considered the supreme faculty guiding and teaching the masses instead of relying on the masses to learn. This dogmatic approach does not allow us to go beyond the ­“sacred” circle of the old Marxist gaslit lamp post. But the popular upsurges against the neo-liberal order of the ­globalisation of ­capital are compelling practising communists who consider Marxism as the ­philosophy of praxis, to develop new conceptual frameworks.

Dwelling on the various aspects of this new conceptual framework, Sumanta Banerjee asserts that questioning the status quo, which is the basis of human progress, was suppressed in the socialist states and raises the basic question – what social or political aspect of our past ­programme of building socialism could have led to such distortions. While under­lining the mistakes in building ­socialism in Russia or China, and dwelling on the question of leadership and trying to incorporate the new form of popular upsurges in the Marxist conceptual frame- work, the author has not gone to the ­extent of presenting a new approach to resolve the existing dichotomy.

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