Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On Revolutionary Intelligentsia

The question about the role of revolutionary intelligentsia in the communist movement of Pakistan is extremely important. The erroneous slogan of "only workers should lead workers" turned out to be extremely expensive for the progress of revolutionary struggle, and became a potent factor in the decline of the movement. This incorrect resolution was a product of the misguided understanding of Marxism-Leninism of the past leaders of the communist movement of Pakistan.

To start with, who is an intellectual? "The term "intellectuals" refers to all those who have had middle school or higher education and those with similar educational levels. They include university and middle school teachers and staff members, university and middle school students, primary school teachers, professionals, engineers and technicians, among whom the university and middle school students occupy an important position". (Footnote from Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, Volume II, p. 303)

The role of revolutionary intelligentsia in the proletarian struggle was first presented by founders of scientific socialism, Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, in their most famous pronouncement "The Communist Manifesto":

"Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the process of dissolution going on within the ruling class (in fact, within the whole range of old society) assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole."

With these words, Marx and Engels described the evolution of revolutionary intelligentsia from the ranks of bourgeoisie as a historical necessity. It is for this reason that even when the attitude of the communist movement was antagonistic towards intellectuals, the latter kept on springing up, and waged a protracted struggle to correct the line of the movement and bring it in conformity with Marxism-Leninism.

Once the principle was laid down by Marx and Engels, it was, just like any other part of Marxist theory, elaborated and highlighted by Lenin. Lenin wrote in his eminent work "What is to be Done?":

"Finally, when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the process of degeneration going on within the ruling class and the entire society becomes so glaring that a section of the ruling class joins the revolutionary workers. Therefore, just as at an earlier period, a section of the feudals went over to the capitalist class, now a portion of the capitalist class goes over to the workers. Especially a part of the intellectuals who have understood the laws of history and can see that the working class holds the future in its hands."

Lenin further provided:

" We have said that there could not have been Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia."

While expounding on the tenants of Marxism-Leninism, Comrade Mao Tse-Tung not only emphasized the role of revolutionary intelligentsia in the revolution, but also exposed the incorrect stance of those who undermined the importance of intelligentsia.

The decision of the Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party "Recruit Large Numbers of Intelligentsia" (1939), drafted by Comrade Mao, clearly laid out that "without the participation of intellectuals victory of revolution is impossible." (Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, Volume II, p. 301)

According to the Comrade Mao, the reason behind the discrimination of intellectuals is "due to the failure to understand the importance of the intellectuals for the revolutionary cause, the difference between intellectuals in colonial and semi-colonial countries and those in capitalist countries and the difference between intellectuals who serve the landlords and the bourgeoisie and those who serve the working class and the peasantry..." (Ibid.)

The ultimate objective of the inclusion of intellectuals in the party activities is to raise the intellectual level of the workers and peasants, to facilitate the development of intellectuals from amongst workers and peasants. In this mission, the help from the the 'bourgeois class traitors' is meaningful and critical as "the proletariat cannot produce intellectuals of the its own without the help of the existing intellectuals." (Ibid., p. 303)

Moreover, Mao further elaborated on the principle: "The revolutionary forces can not be successfully organized and revolutionary work can not be successfully conducted without the participation of revolutionary intellectuals." (Mao, "Chinese Revolution and Chinese Communist Party", Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, Volume II, p. 322)

Mao suggests that the tough revolutionary intellectuals have some sort-comings, due to their class background, these are not incurable infections. These short-comings can be removed if these intellectuals throw themselves "heart and soul into the mass revolutionary struggles, or [make] up their mind to serve the interests of the masses and become one with them". (Ibid.)

In conclusion, while elaborating on an importance of revolutionary intelligentsia, Mao provided very clear and accurate directions to the Communist Party of China:

"On admitting intellectuals into the Party, more attention must be paid to their degree of loyalty, so as to ensure still tighter Party organization in those areas. We should maintain suitable contact with the huge numbers of non-Party intellectuals who sympathize with us and organize them in great struggle for resistence to Japan and for democracy, and in the cultural movement and the work of the united front."(Mao, "Recruit Large Numbers of Intelligentsia", Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, Volume II, p. 303)

Therefore, the slogan of "only workers should lead workers", which discriminates against the revolutionary intelligentsia, is in contradiction with the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism. Countless revolutionaries, including the most brilliant minds-- such as Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Chou En Lai-- emerged from the ranks of bourgeoisie and played an extremely instrumental part in the progress of the revolutionary struggle.

CMKP and Revolutionary Intelligentsia

The stance of CMKP on the role of revolutionary intelligentsia is attached below

(excerpts from "Marxism for Beginners").

In every society a special segment of the population is separated from the general work of production to perform of the role of thinkers. Their role in society is not to engage in the direct process of production but to conceive, think, reflect, ponder, contemplate, study, examine, research and analyze all the different elements of society. This group of individuals are called the intelligentsia (danishwar). In a society divided between rich and poor, the intelligentsia (danishwar) are also trained by the rich and serve the rich. They not only develop new scientific discoveries, they also develop ideologies through which the rich can control the poor. However, as the process of scientific inquiry and human understanding develops, a tiny section of the intelligentsia (danishwar) begins to scientifically uncover the economic basis of the exploitation of the working class. They begin to understand the laws of class struggle and history. They begin to unravel all the different mechanisms through which the ruling class is able to control the working class. As they uncover this truth, the truth makes them more and more revolutionary minded. Thus, a small portion of the intelligentsia that has grasped the scientific basis of exploitation and class struggle becomes the revolutionary intelligentsia (inqalabi danishwar). In other words, they are class traitors to the capitalist class...

... The revolutionary intelligentsia plays a very important role in bringing a scientific understanding of the dynamics of history and class struggle to the entire working class. The fact is that the deeper the depth of knowledge of the revolutionary intelligentsia, the greater their loyalty to the working class. That is why the greatest leaders of the workers of the world have been the greatest intellectual minds of the last two centuries. For example, Marx, Engels, and Lenin were all from privileged backgrounds, but their vast knowledge about the capitalist system forms the basis of the principles of class struggle of all the workers of the world today. Thus, on the one hand, workers must learn to distinguish genuine revolutionary intellectuals from impostors, and on the other hand, safeguard and learn from genuine revolutionary intellectuals. But it is not necessary that revolutionary intellectuals come exclusively from privileged backgrounds. Workers who have been hardened by many years of class struggle posses an extraordinary instinct and natural understanding of the dynamics of society. Battle hardened workers are an invaluable asset of the working class movement. Thus, the leadership of the working class (the vanguard) should be composed of the most knowledgeable and revolutionary elements recruited from the revolutionary intelligentsia and battle hardened workers.

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