31 October, 2020

A Consensus, Comrades?

A history constrained by the blind spots of Left ideology and its long-dead prophets

Narendra Bisht
A Consensus, Comrades?
Communists have had a peculiar relationship with history. At one level, Marxist theory opened up history as the discipline central to an understanding of all human endeavours—"historicise everything" in Frederic Jameson’s famous injunction. Critical Marxism has thus produced some of the most significant historical works, both in this country and in the West. Yet at another level, politically, Communists have always feared history and sought to regiment and control its production. Grey and dull pedagogical volumes like the History of the CPSU(B) written by Stalin’s handpicked commission was all that generations of Communists were fed on. Volumes like these were basically meant to "give the party line"—how Stalin was the liberator of all humanity and the likes of Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev the scum of the earth, even "enemy agents".

Likewise, the 17th congress of the CPI(M), held in Hyderabad in March 2002, entrusted a commission comprising Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Jyoti Basu, E.K. Nayanar, P. Ramachandran, Koratala Satyanarayana and Anil Biswas to rewrite such...



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