A Communist’s Approach to Communism

CPIM stalwart Abdur Rezzak Mollah says it’s now normal for a communist to be a believer

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He reflects Indian conditions

    West Bengal CPIM leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah‘s comment that it’s now normal for a communist party member to be a believer in his personal life is only a reflection of ground realities. Notwithstanding the communist credo that religion is the opium of the masses, the fact is most communist leaders in India do adhere to some religious faith in private. India is a land of multiple faiths where religion is a significant part of everyday life. In such a scenario, asking members of the communist party to completely reject religion is not practical.Communist parties’ failure to distinguish between the public and the personal is one of the main reasons for their waning acceptance.

    Whether a party member should go on Hajj or perform Puja does not concern the activities of a political party. Passing strictures in this regard has always proved to be counterproductive. Take, for example, the erstwhile Soviet Union where despite the best efforts of the communist party to suppress religion, faith continued to play a vital role in people’s lives and the churches often became a symbol of resistance to state oppression. Similarly, in China the existence of thousands of underground churches has become a source of tension for the communist party.

    Having reconciled to functioning within the framework of Indian multiparty democracy, the CPIM and their ideological ilk cannot afford to adopt the doctrine of universal atheism. Besides, leaders like Mollah – one of the few CPIM leaders to hold on to their MLA seats despite Trinamool’s emphatic victory in Bengal – enjoy grassroots support. Irrespective of their personal religious inclinations they are vital for the political fortunes of the party. In this respect, the communists would do well to officially change their approach to religion.

COUNTERVIEW

Religion has no place in communism

    Atheism has always been a defining marker of a communist. Rooted in Marxism-Leninism; communist ideology categorically denies the existence of God. Its vision of social justice is based on transforming existing material conditions. Like class struggle, atheism is a natural and inalienable part of Marxism. So, when communists start flaunting their religiosity and spiritualism, they cease to be communists. That’s precisely what seems to have become of the prominent CPIM leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah. The CPIM veteran no longer believes in atheism, one of the fundamental communist precepts. Mollah’s statement that his faith in Marx falls below his absolute devotion to Allah and Prophet Muhammad amounts to blasphemy for any communist.

    Marxists perceive religion as holding back human development, a tool used by oppressors to subjugate the poor and the weak. Karl Marx’s famous statement – religion is the opium of the people – has become the bedrock of communist ideology. Like Marx Lenin too believed religion to be one of the pillars holding up the oppressive economic structures of feudalism and capitalism. While believers repose their faith in a liberating spiritual world, often to escape the harsh material conditions around them, communists strongly believe religion to be the ‘yoke’ weighing down mankind. The twain can never meet.

    Religious fervour or sentimentality has no place in the theory of dialectical materialism, the analytical tool used by a communist to not only comprehend but also to transform the world around him/her. Mollah has not only openly expressed his lack of conviction in this article of communist faith, he has done worse by ranking Allah above Marx. The CPIM leader has spoken more like a devout believer than a hard-headed communist, with unshakeable faith in his ideology. It’s perhaps time to remind Mollah of what Leon Trotsky once said: ‘Religiousness is irreconcilable with the Marxian standpoint.’

Courtesy: TOI
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