Thursday, September 22, 2005

Royal Indian Navy Srike, 1946

Few months ago, 65,000 employees of Pakistan united against the privatization of PTCL. This event, at least, will be marked as a historic union in the working class struggle. The workers, once again, expressed a concern to unify in order to protect their rights from the neo-liberal imperial agenda of, specifically, privatization. It would not be late to present one of the immortal stories of the working-class struggle.

The strike by the sailors of the Royal Indian Navy in 1946 is distinguished as a spectacular episode of struggle against the imperialist force of British Raj. Sumit Sarkar refers to the strike as “one of the most truly heroic, if largely forgotten, episodes of our freedom struggle.”

The strike grew out of the entrenched discontent growing calmly inside the sailors against the British officers. Indian sailors were highly disturbed by the discriminatory attitude of British targeted towards them. This attitude was complemented by off-the-cuff remarks of the newly arrived Commander King. He made a remark about Indian Ratings as sons of Indian bitches on a routine visit to the ship known as H.M.I.S (Her Majesty’s Indian Ship) Talwaar, posted to the Bombay Harbor. The arrogant behavior of the officers was becoming unbearable for the well-educated ratings of Talwaar. They tried to protest through the official chancel, and were subsequently threatened.

The spark was the breakfast, unfit for consumption, served on the morning of 18th February 1946 on H.M.I.S Talwaar. The sailors of the ship united and shouted “No food no work”, and launched a peaceful hunger strike. The possibility of a forthcoming rebellion against the rulers was evident to emerge from the nonviolent strike because it was not a matter of food alone.

On 19 February the strike was officially announced to the naval personnel. Sailors on strike started patrolling in Bombay on the captured naval trucks hoisting Red Flag to invite the anti-British sentiments. The news of rebellion came pouring out of the radio station that the rebels managed to take over. The number of naval personnel involved in the revolt saw a sharp incline. Within 48 hours the British government was facing the largest ever revolt in the naval units. 74 ships, 20 fleets, 22 units with 20,000 sailors joined the rebellion. The naval stations included important locations like Bombay, Calcutta, Karachi, Madras, Cochin and Vishapatam. On 20 February, just ten ships and two naval stations were not in complete revolt.

Union Jacks on most of the ships had been replaced by Red Flags, along with flags of other political parties involved in the independence struggle, by the eve of 19 February. A 36 member Naval Central Strike Committee (NCSC) was elected with Signalman M.S. Khan as the President and telegraph operator Madan Singh as the vice-president. The election of a Muslim and a Sikh was a conscious _expression of rejection of division on religious grounds. The committee instantly drew its agenda and put forward demands to the government. One of the priorities of the strike committee agenda was to involve political parties in the movement to gain support.

The role played by the political parties in the rebellion was very disappointing. Instead of connecting this revolt with other strikes taking place in the textile industry, railways, and other industrial sectors, they actively supported the British in suppressing the strike. The Communist Party of India (CPI) lacked the support, strength, and leadership to take any effective measure. Although certain factions supported the rebellion, both Congress and Muslim League detested the event.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah issued a statement from Calcutta, on behalf of Muslim League, calling the strikers to end their action. An important figure of the independence movement, and a leader of the Indian National Congress, Sardar Patel, came up as a negotiator from the British side. According to the Patel, the rebels were “only a small band of insolents, hot headed and insane youngsters (who) are trying to get involved in politics through these acts, when they have nothing to do with politics”.

On 21 and 22 February, the strike committee called for a general strike that received a huge response from public. The influence of the sailors was being perceived as a genuine challenge to the government. As a direct result, the displeasure in the British government in London was increasing. The messages to crush the uprising at once came out from the office of the British Labour Prime Minister Clement Atlee. Admiral Godfrey, the commander of the Royal Indian Navy threatened the rebels to “surrender or perish”.

The British government started an armed struggle against the sailors on 21 February. On February 22 and 23, the imperialist forces martyred 250 sailors and workers. The peaceful strike transformed into an armed struggle. With the chances of an armed suppression increasing, the sailors pointed the guns on ships towards the British Naval Installations and command centers along the coast. They threatened to destroy these bases and installations to defend their comrades in the cities and harbor in case of an armed attack.

Back on the Talwaar the situation gained intensity and tension. Disheartened by the attitude of the leaders of the independence movement, NCSC started to narrow down its options. Assured and persuaded by the Sardar Patel, M. S. Khan proposed surrender that was first rejected by the strike committee. Absolutely demoralized, and isolated, the strike committee later on announced surrender by raising black flags on the morning of 24 February 1946. That marked an end to a chapter that showed the British what laid ahead, if they choose to stay in India.

In a resolution announcing surrender, the revolutionary sailors sent their last message to the general public of India: “Our uprising was an important historical event in the lives of our people. For the first time the blood of the uniformed and non-uniformed workers flowed in one current for the same collective cause. We the workers in uniform shall never forget this. We also know that you, our proletarian brother and sisters shall also never forget this. The coming generations, learning a lesson shall accomplish what we have not been able to achieve. Long live the working masses. Long live the Revolution”.(emphasis added)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Religious Question

Workers of all Religions Unite and Fight the Rich!
The object of our party and movement is to unite the workers to end exploitation. In other words, the aim of our party and movement is to struggle for the oppressed against the oppressor. This is a continuation of the struggle of the all the great Prophets of all the great religions in every part of the world. For example, Hazrat Mohammed led the greatest revolt of the oppressed in Arabia against the degenerate rich and powerful. Hazrat Mosa led the greatest slave rebellion against the mighty Ferons. Jesus Christ said, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven”. Buddha led a powerful social movement against the caste system.

Given this fact, the maulvis should bless our party and movement for continuing this great work. Instead, from the moment when workers began their struggle against the ruling-class, the maulvis came out with fatwas not only against our party and against all working-class leaders. They tried to belittle the working-class leaders in the eyes of the people. Even today, every Friday they never fail to bring forward their political program of Jihad in Kashmir. But they never speak about the struggle of the workers against capitalists, or the struggle of the peasants against the feudals. To the workers they preach that workers must show more humility, patience, and forbearance. They tell the workers not to revolt but to submit obediently. Thus, the maulvis have made themselves the spokesmen of the rich, the defender of exploitation, and placed themselves in flagrant violation with the revolutionary spirit of the doctrines of all the great religions. Why?

This is simply because most mosques are financed by the rich. The mosques have been taken over by the rich. The rich pay for the marbles, the arches, the fine minarets and domes. The rich even pay the salary of the maulvis. The maulvis go to rich peoples houses to teach their children the word of God and receive big salaries for doing so. On the other hand, the maulvis extract money out of the workers. Some maulvis will not perform marriage or burial ceremonies until they have been paid in full. For these individuals religion is no longer a selfless service but a trade. How often do workers have to sell their last possessions just to bury their dead or to marry their children? Still the workers bear their pain with fortitude and courage.
It is true that there are maulvis of an entirely different character. There are some who are full of goodness and pity and who do not seek gain. They are always ready to help the poor. But these are very uncommon. The majority of maulvis bow and scrape to the rich and powerful and silently pardon them for every sin, every depravity, and every iniquity. But with the workers the majority of maulvis behave in a different way. They only think of squeezing them.
Our party and movement never wishes to drive the workers to fight against the maulvis or try to interfere with people’s religious beliefs. Our party and movement uphold the right of all religious communities to the Freedom of Religious practice. No one has the right to persecute or attack the particular religious opinion of others. But when people use religion to fight the workers, then it is our duty to expose their evil designs.

The Political Program of the Religious Parties

The political program of the religious parties does not include the elimination of capitalism that is, the elimination of private property. They want to maintain capitalism because they think it is a very good system. When workers ask them how corruption, poverty, inflation, and unemployment will be eliminated, their only answer is that “once Islam is introduced everything will be fine”. By this phrase they mean that once the ruling-class accept Islam the capitalists will change their attitude towards the poor. In their view it is only a matter of the ruling-class accepting Islam for the poor and the rich to live amicably.
However, what they do not realise is that the capitalist system has its own economic logic that compels the ruling-class to exploit the workers. As we explained earlier, capitalist competition constantly forces individual capitalists to expand, increase their profits, and take over other industries. If one capitalist does not expand and becomes charitable other capitalists will eat him like a shark. Thus, as long as the factories and farms are private property, this competition whereby the big fish eat the small fish cannot stop. As long as capitalism continues the exploitation and poverty of the workers will continue to increase. Thus, even if the ruling-class becomes religious (which is next to impossible), they are part of the capitalist system simply cannot stop exploiting workers and creating poverty and misery.
Sometimes, the maulvis say that they don’t believe in capitalism but in Islam. But this is dishonest because their interpretation of Islam upholds the inviolability of private property. In other words, their interpretation of Islam is compatible with private property and capitalism. In conclusion, they fully uphold private property and capitalism. The reason why religious parties uphold capitalism is that they are mostly based in small traders. Therefore, they are strong upholders of capitalism and private property. However, bigger capitalists continuously crush these small traders. Thus, they are caught in the middle. On the one hand, they want to maintain private-property. On the other hand, bigger capitalists continuously crush them. However, through most of Pakistan’s history they have sided with the rich against the poor.

How the rich use the maulvis to fight the workers!

The rich utilise the services of maulvis to divide the workers along religious lines. Once workers are divided the rich can use them as cannon fodder to fight wars of conquest. In sum, the policy of the capitalists is to create religious hostility between peoples of different religions.
It follows that the aim of the workers should be to create the unity of workers of all religions. Therefore, the policy of the workers is to remove the hostility between religions. In order to remove the hostility between religions, it is important to struggle against all forms of religious oppression. Thus, it is important to uphold the right to the Freedom of Religious Practice. The freedom of religious practice means that no one has the right to forcibly interfere in religious affairs, to destroy madrassas, places of worship, and other institutions, or to violate religious habits and customs, or to repress sacred texts, or to curtail rights. The right of freedom of religious practice means that the people of each religion themselves decide how to arrange their life. It means that the people of all religions are equal.
Does the freedom of religious practice mean that we support every demand of a religious community? No, upholding the right of freedom of religion should not be confused with endorsing the views of religious movements. Sometimes, religion is used as a cover to justify oppressive practices. For example, religion is used as a justification for honour killings and to oppress women. Workers should struggle against all oppressive practices, and should not be fooled when these practices are justified in the name of religion. In conclusion, it is important to draw the distinction between the freedom of religious practice and the program of a workers party. There may be demands that may not be contrary to the freedom of religious practice but are contrary to the program of a workers party.
In conclusion, workers should struggle against all forms of religious oppression in order to bring about the unity of workers of all religions. It follows from this that not only should workers struggle against religious oppression; they should at the same time struggle against the ideas of religious sectarianism. In creating the unity of workers of all religions two errors are possible. Sometimes, workers get so carried away in the struggle against religious oppression that they become religious sectarians. They thus become pawns of the ruling-class of that religious community. Working-class party and working-class organisations should work against any form of organisational federalism, disintegration, or separatism caused by religious sectarianism within their ranks. At other times, workers get so carried away in the struggle against religious sectarianism that they discontinue the fight against religious oppression. They thus become pawns of the dominant religious community.
A new way of fighting the workers!

The maulvis have devised two ways of fighting the workers. Where the working-class movement is weak the maulvis try to crush it by threats of force, slandering them, condemning them and issuing fatwas against them. But where the working-class movement is strong the maulvis hide their real purpose and becomes a false friend of the working-class movement. Thus, you see the maulvis making Islamic Trade Unions in order to catch the fish in their net to teach the workers humility and obedience. True working-class organisations teach the workers that they are equal to the capitalists and they must prepare for a working-class revolution. The false working-class organisations mislead the workers. Therefore, it is important to forewarn the workers against the honeyed words of the false friends of the working-class. The working-class does not fight against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of religious practice and the widest possible toleration of every faith and every opinion. But from the moment that the maulvis use their position against the working-class the workers must fight the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery, he is the mortal enemy of the working-class, whether he is in uniform or religious clothes. In conclusion, our goal is to create the solid iron unity of the workers of all religions in order to fight the rich.

Workers of all Religions
Unite and Fight the Rich!!!

[Text taken from the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party, Pakistan website. The website of CMKP is:]

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Newsday Lies about the Revolutionary Road in Nepal by Li Onesto

Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at

Newsday, a liberal newspaper in New York, recently ran a special nine-part series by Matthew McAllester on the Maoist revolution in Nepal (August 14-17, 2005). Like recent articles in Harper’s 1 magazine and Rolling Stone, McAllester echoes the U.S. State Department, arguing that the Maoist revolution is a horrible and totalitarian thing that must be stopped at all costs. And like most mainstream coverage of the People’s War in Nepal, this Newsday series is based on disinformation, outright lies, and extreme anti-communist hysteria.
There is much to expose about this series and McAllester should really be forced to publicly debate and defend this rather crude piece of reactionary “journalism.” But right now, I want to focus on McAllester’s attack on the revolutionary road being built by the Maoists in Rolpa.
As A World to Win News Service reports, tens of thousands of people have been involved in building a much-needed roadway to be known as Sahid Marg, Martyr’s Highway ( Rolpa, Nepal: Building the road to the future). King Gyanendra’s Royal Army has tried many times to disrupt this project—dropping bombs from helicopters and firing on people working on the road.
But as a 75-year-old man working on the road said, “The new [Maoist] regime has responded to our sentiments, and has tried to make our dreams real, so we are ready even to give our blood for this great campaign.”
This kind of revolutionary enthusiasm and sacrifice is something McAllester can’t understand and cynically attacks. After talking to people in Rolpa he claims this project is nothing but “forced labor.” His capitalist outlook of dog-eat-dog individualism can’t comprehend how people would walk for two days to do volunteer work and that some people would do this, even though the road is “not even routed through their village.” To his way of thinking, if someone is working for no money, if someone is helping to build something that doesn’t directly benefit them—then this must be coercive, forced labor.
When “old women, young men, -mothers, grandfathers, boys and girls” tell him they “were only too happy to help the region’s development,” McAllester can only respond by claiming these people are “repeating a party mantra.” With such cynical contempt for the people McAllester cannot believe—even when he sees it with his own eyes—that the masses of people can consciously remake themselves and the world around them.
McAllester warns that “The scene on the Martyrs Road is a snapshot of what Nepal might look like if the Maoist insurgents ever came to power...” and then talks about how the Maoists could turn Nepal “into the world’s next killing fields.” He doesn’t offer a shred of evidence to support this but poses the question, if the Maoists win, will they “spill oceans of blood”? He hopes this will convince people of the “horror” of communist rule. But what horrifies McAllester is the fact that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) now controls most of Nepal’s countryside and that they are leading millions of people to radically transform their economic, political, and cultural life.
The Maoist revolution in Nepal is bringing into being a whole new revolutionary way of thinking and acting—a revolutionary spirit where thousands of poor peasants are willing to sacrifice their very lives to get rid of the system oppressing them; where people are consciously working to bring into being a whole new way of running society; where people are working together to redistribute the land, get rid of women’s oppression, abolish caste distinctions and give equality to oppressed national minorities.
As a schoolteacher working on Martyr’s Road said,
“If the Maoists seize power centrally, I believe that within ten years Nepal will be changed dramatically. The work the Maoists have initiated in the base areas involving agriculture, industry, education and health is novel, scientific and positive. One cannot underestimate this great work...”

1 See: “Refutation of Harper’s Article on the Maoists in Nepal—Telling Lies in Kathmandu” by Li Onesto, Revolution #7, June 26, 2005, posted at
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This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolution Online Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag. Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike? And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Yours, Michael Moore