31 October, 2020

High Priest, Heretic

A forced mid-career recess, ironically, did the trick... ...it only made Buddhadeb wiser as a chief minister

Amit Kar/ Ganashakti
High Priest, Heretic
Revolutions, famously, devour their children. Contemporary Communism has a different worry: its children could be devouring the revolution. The problem is the evolution of revolution. When does change, always inevitable, become betrayal instead of logical continuity?

Mao Zedong's successor, Deng Xiaoping, challenged thousands of pages of doctrine with a single sentence: He didn't care what the colour of the cat was as long as it caught mice. That revisionist Chinese cat set Marxist pigeons aflutter, particularly since it caught mice in unprecedented numbers. At about the same time, the dyed-in-red Russian cat, immobile and obese from a diet of moribund convictions, lost Europe and Central Asia.

Bengal's Marxists were blessed with the good luck of a decent excuse. They could not become midwives of socialism in one province, they argued, because India was a bourgeois state. Jyoti Basu, juggling with extraordinary dexterity between Stalin, democracy and the Bengali bhadralok, delivered a model he literally constructed along the way. The...


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