Topic: Problems of Socialist Transition
Friends and comrades!
The Arvind Memorial Trust, has till now organized four seminars in the past five years in memory of our beloved late Comrade Arvind. The topic of the first two seminars held in Delhi (2009) and Gorakhpur (2010) respectively was focused on the challenges of the working class movement and its new forms and strategies in the era of globalization. The third seminar held in Lucknow (2011) was focused on the challenges before the democratic and civil rights movement. In the fourth Seminar held in March 2013 in Chandigarh, an intense debate took place for five days on the topic ‘The Caste Question and Marxism’. Each time, we have organized debate and discussion on some living question of the revolutionary movement in India to which comrade Arvind was committed throughout his life. There was large scale participation of intellectuals, enlightened citizens and political activists active in revolutionary movements of working class, students, youth and women and anti-caste struggles and on every occasion constructive debate and discussion went past the fixed hours of the seminar.
The Fifth Arvind Memorial Seminar will be in Allahabad, one of the main intellectual centres of Uttar Pradesh. On this occasion too, we aim to organize intensive discussion, contemplation and debate for full five days, from morning till night, on an extremely relevant question of today’s revolutionary movement. The topic of this seminar is ‘Problems of Socialist Transition’. There are definite reasons for this.
After the collapse of pseudo-socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1990, it was proclaimed that socialism and Marxism have been defeated throughout the world. A sense of defeat and pessimism prevailed in the working class movement and capitalist triumphalism was at its peak. At that time, this fact was pushed into background that after China taking the capitalist road and the collapse of pseudo-socialism of the Soviet Union followed by its disintegration, even the the capitalist world was ill-stricken. The slow recession, which had engulfed the capitalist world from as early as the 1970s, was exploding in the form of severe crises in between. By the end of 1990s, the capitalist world was once again caught in the cesspool of crisis and the severe crisis which began at that time continues till date with several ups and downs. By 1997, the cacophony of capitalist triumphalism and the end of history and ideology etc. had got silenced. In the 1960s and 1970s, several important debates took place within the left intellectual circle and amongst the communist revolutionaries throughout the world on the causes of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union. Such debates somewhat slowed down in the 1980s. The obvious reason was that the counter-revolutionary tide got a decisive edge over the revolutionary tide after the capitalist restoration in China. Before the death of Mao and particularly in the period of the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, a rich process of criticism of the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and also of the capitalist roaders within the Chinese Party was carried out. By 1990, along with the fall of Berlin wall and the disintegration of the social imperialist Soviet Union, the final defeat of socialism and Marxism and the final victory of capitalism was proclaimed. For about a decade, there was indeed an influence of this capitalist hysteria of ‘the End’ even on some communist revolutionary groups and individuals and for some time many sincere people too got carried away in the wave of ideological and political skepticism in that period. Throughout this decade, the post-modernist ideological streams were established as the official ideology in the capitalist intellectual world and particularly the academic world. At that time, merely talking about the problems of socialist transition was enough to be labelled as a relic of the ideological archeological era. But this situation prevailed only till the end of the 1990s.
In the new millennium, capitalism entered into a badly sick state. What was declared to be the recession of the decade of 2000 took enormous magnitude by 2007 and by now it has become the most severe recession of the capitalist world since 1930s and in a sense it is more serious than that because now capitalism is not going to witness any boom periods. Along with this crisis, the stillness in the working class movement gave way to new stirrings and struggles. There came a torrent of people’s movement from the Arab world to America. It is another thing that in absence of a revolutionary leadership these movements remained confined to opposition to capitalism and could not provide any positive alternative. Nevertheless, one thing is certain that people in different parts of the world are fed up with the capitalist system and are restlessly looking for an alternative. Along with these movements, there has been a forceful return of Marxism even in the intellectual and academic circles throughout the world (even though a Marxist-Leninist can raise many questions on such ‘return’, still it has a symbolic meaning). Many of those who had left the Marxist camp out of their skepticism are returning to the fold of Marxism (surely, there could be multiple questions on such a return as well!). The sincere Marxist-Leninist communist revolutionaries remained unwavering on their scientific conviction and history today is proving them right.
At a time when the question of the alternative to the entire capitalist system has gained prominence from the communist revolutionary circles to the general people’s movements in an unprecedented manner, it is now apt to critically evaluate afresh the successes and failures of the great socialist experiments of the 20th century. Now a day a lot is being written throughout the world on the problems of socialist transition. Numerous debates are going-on on the problems of socialist transition in the Soviet Union and the socialist China. It has become a topic of discussion afresh within the revolutionary communist movement and even among the academics. Dozens of books have arrived in the last five to six years itself about the socialist project in the 21st century. Many research works and books have been published in this period on the socialist experiments in the Soviet Union. Many people have even raised the question whether or not whatever prevailed in the Soviet Union and China can even be called as socialism; while analyzing these experiments, some have raised question on the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat itself; many have blamed Lenin for substitutionalism and for setting up the dictatorship of the Party and then there are those who have blamed Mao for weakening the authority of the Party during the Cultural Revolution; there also exists a section which adopts uncritical approach towards the Soviet socialism and the Chinese socialism and rejects the need for any sort of analysis itself; after the opening of several new archives, a need has arisen to reevaluate the Stalin era and many revolutionary communist organizations and intellectuals are thinking afresh on the Stalin question. Also there are those who are declaring the so called ‘Bolivarian alternative’ of the Latin America and the Syriza experiment in Greece as the 21st century socialism; there are some post-Marxist thinkers who are talking of a post-Marxist communism and who are outrightly rejecting the 20th century socialist experiments by terming them as a ‘disaster’; surely they are spreading ideological confusion and there is a need for a thorough criticism of such post-Marxist ideological stream; there is a need to think afresh on the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution as well which had taken important steps towards the solution to the problems of the socialist transition. There are many such issues which have gained prominence in the ongoing new discourse on the socialist transition. However a general theme which is emerging as an intersection point in all such debates is the question of the relationship between the vanguard party, the class and the state. Some of these myriad debates are taking place amongst the communist revolutionaries and some amongst the academics and intellectuals. But, in no way it affects the importance of such debates. All these debates are raising important questions in parts over which the committed communist revolutionaries will have to ponder.
The ongoing fresh debate on the socialist transition has given rise to a situation of ideological uncertainty which is actually not a negative change. On the contrary, it is historically a positive change. Even those who participated in the debates about the socialist transition in the 1960s and 1970s cannot firmly claim that the debates at that time had put forward a definite solution to the problems of the socialist transition, or these debates were the last word on this subject. What are the questions on which the vanguard forces involved in the implementation of the socialist experiments in the 21st century have to be clear-headed would be ascertained only after a prolonged and sincere debate and discussion. It is mainly the responsibility of the active and committed Marxist-Leninist communist revolutionary groups and individuals to carry forward these debates in a healthy manner and arrive at correct conclusions on the problems of the socialist transition through such debates.
Surely, we do not claim that we will reach to a decisive conclusion on all such issues in a five-day Seminar. But in these five days, what we can do collectively is to correctly highlight the basic issues through intense contemplation, discussion and debate, we can exchange our stand-points and the initial round of debate can be carried out and we can learn from each others’ insights on different questions. If we could manage to accomplish this much, we would believe that we have been more or less successful in achieving our objective. But we need active participation, contribution and support of all pro-people revolutionary political activists, political groups and organizations, intellectuals, students and youth and politically enlightened citizens. We extend a hearty invitation to all such friends and comrades for active, lively and comradely participation, intense debates and discussions and for extremely important informal discussions besides the formal discussions on the dais. We hope that you will definitely come and will participate in the vigorous debate and discussion on this extremely important subject.
We are sending this invitation much in advance so that you can get ample time for the preparation of write-ups/papers and the debate. It would be better if you intimate us about your arrival and your preparation of paper by the first week of February. If you wish to present a paper in the seminar, we expect you to send a synopsis by 31st December and the complete paper by the first week of February. It would help us to plan the sessions and in preparing copies of the papers.
We cordially invite you to participate in this seminar. We are making the best possible arrangements for your stay and food so that we can focus on the debate without any hindrance. We request all the friends to intimate us about your travel plan and related information as soon as possible as it would help us to make a satisfactory arrangement. You can contact on any of the mobile or landline numbers or email ids given below for getting or sending any information related to the seminar. We assure you of friendly hospitality and assure you that there would not be any kind of inconvenience.
Awaiting you response.
– With warm regards,
Meenakshy (Managing Trusty)
Anand Singh (Secretary)
Katyayani, Satyam (members)
Arvind Memorial Trust
10–14 March, 2014
(10 am to 1 pm)
(3 pm to 8 pm)
Lunch Break: 1 pm to 3 pm
Tea Break in the second session: 6 pm
Vigyan Parishad, Prayag Auditorium; Maharshi Dayanand Marg ( Opposite Chandrashekhar Azad Park), Allahabad-211002
Accommodation for guests
Punjabi Bhavan, 48/60, Mahatma Gandhi Marg (Opposite KP College), Allahabad-211002
You can contact any of these members of the organising committee,
or the Lucknow office of the Trust:
Meenakshy – Ph: 9415462164, Email: email@example.com
Anand Singh – Ph: 9971196111, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Katyayani – Ph: 9936650658, Email: email@example.com
Satyam – Ph: 8853093555, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address of Lucknow office:
69 A-1, Baba ka Purwa, Paper Mill Road, Nishatgunj, Lucknow – 226006
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org