One of the largest and longest mass mobilisations the world has ever seen has forced the right-wing government of the Indian People’s Party (BJP) to repeal the three agriculture laws, and forced the prime minister, Narendra Modi, to apologise to the nation.
It is evident that the apology is only a political expedient, as elections are coming up in a few states. In fact Modi has not apologised for a lot of things: for calling the farmers anti-nationals, terrorists and traitors and for the death of more than seven hundred farmers during the protest, including four farmers and a journalist massacred when a minister’s son’s car ran over a group of peaceful protesters.
So what does this victory mean for the working class in India and people all over the world involved in class struggle?
Noam Chomsky wrote that “the Indian farmers’ struggle is a beacon of light for the world in dark times.” This victory has shown that fascism, though monstrous, can be brought to its knees by organised, united and disciplined struggle.
It can be an encouragement to people around the world who fight against “austerity” (Europe), indigenous people who fight for their habitat against big companies that displace them to loot their resources (Latin America), people who fight against the super-exploitation of labour (Asia), and those who fight for environmental conservation against the capitalist exploitation of nature. The victory of the protest has emphasised the necessity of organisations and united struggles.
The farmers are not ending the struggle—for two reasons. Firstly, they have no faith in the prime minister until the laws are actually repealed in the parliament and, secondly, because the repeal of the laws is only one of their demands. Their other demands are ensuring minimum support price (MSP) for their produce; scrapping the Electricity Amendment Act, which cuts the subsidy to farmers for electricity they use for agriculture, which will drastically increase their input costs; withdrawing the reform of forty-four labour laws to four labour codes, which will take away the hard-won rights of industrial workers; and stopping the privatisation of government assets.
Modi came to power promising development, 20 million employment every year, and corruption-free government. What he produced was a fall in GDP after demonetisation, 45-year record unemployment, and corruption.
The farmers’ protests brought about the consolidation of a worker-peasant alliance against neoliberal policies, which had increased wealth for a few and caused misery for the many.
Lenin wrote that “fascism is capitalism in decay.” Capitalism, which has an innate tendency to get into crisis, needs to subject the working class to more exploitation in order to come out of crisis. Capitalism needs brute force to suppress the resistance of workers when they are subjected to more and more exploitation.
That force is provided by the fascists, such as Modi and Bolsonaro, who have no respect for democratic values or human rights.
When the working class in their united struggle fail to fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie in the preliminary stage it will lead to victory for fascism.
But fascism, though brutal, is unstable, because of eroding support from the masses, thanks to its anti-people policies; and in regaining the people’s support it indulges in igniting nationalist feelings. It attracts working people by rhetoric and demagoguery but eventually exposes its class basis. As Mussolini himself testified, “fascism is the complete merger of the state and the corporate.” That is where strong organisation, unified struggle and the leading role of the vanguard party is of great importance.
In India the left parties are in the forefront in creating a worker-peasant alliance. That is the reason why severe attacks are unleashed by the lumpen elements of BJP against communists all over India and draconian laws are used to arrest civil rights activists.
The Indian farmers’ protest has shown that unjust laws passed in the parliament can be undone on the streets. Let the spirit of resistance spread across the world for democracy and against authoritarianism!
A two-day worker-peasant strike is planned by the central trade unions and left parties for February 2022.
The victory is a battle that is won, but the war demands a protracted fight, and the peasants are showing the way. Long live worker-peasant unity!