The Maoist violence that Lalgarh (West Bengal, India) is witnessing reminds us of the Naxalite Movement which was born 40 years ago in the same state. Both Naxalism of four decades ago and Maoism today are symptoms of the same malady that grips the society from time to time: exploitation of one section by another.
Naxalism and Maoism are both offshoots of Marxism. The egalitarian society envisaged by Karl Marx as the pinnacle of social evolution is destined to be a mere dream, a mirage. The capitalist systems have ensured that much at least.
Where capitalism runs high socialism cannot survive. Capitalism is based on individual enterprise and selfishness. There is nothing wrong with that kind of enterprise and a certain degree of selfishness. In fact, to a great extent that is desirable too. But governments cannot afford to promote the interests of only certain individuals. Governments are meant to look after the welfare of the whole society, the whole state. This is where West Bengal failed.
It is ironical that West Bengal has had Marxist governments for the last 32 years and yet the state has witnessed large scale violence triggered by poverty a number of times, the present Lalgarh episode being the latest. Marxism failed to bring any kind of progress and development in the state, let alone egalitarianism.
But did West Bengal really put into practice the tenets of Marxism? Did the Marxist government ever work for the betterment of the poor and the oppressed classes in the state? What happened in Nandigram two years ago answers these questions partially. The agricultural land of the farmers was taken over with the intention of giving it to a capitalist industrialist. The farmers’ protests were suppressed by the government. There was violence. 14 persons died in police firing. Suppression of the proletariat by a Marxist government! Karl Marx must have turned in his grave.
Lalgarh might also receive a similar response from the state government. It is asking for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to take over the situation in Lalgarh so that the blame for the suppression of the rebellion and the accompanying violence on oppressed people can be transferred to some alien police force.
What is happening in Lalgarh is not a mere law-and-order problem. This is the first thing that the West Bengal government has to realise. It is the cry for justice of a section of people who feel helpless in the royal march of capitalist systems.
While capitalism brings in more development and progress, it neglects large sections of people. Marxism apparently fails to bring in development. The equality it seems to engender is making everyone poor. West Bengal is an appropriate example. The government of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has to wake up to the present reality instead of waiting for the central government to step in with solutions or throwing the blame on Mamta Banerjee (though the latter may be adding fuel to the fire).