Ideology of Netaji
Thesis of the All India Forward Bloc
Issued by R.S. Ruiker, General Secretary
All India Forward Bloc
Published in 1949 from Calcutta
For Leftist Book Club
Netaji has an Ideology
Revolution, Class Struggle and Socialism.
Samayavada or Synthesis
· Subhasism and Gandhism
· Subhasism and Communism
· Subhasism and Fascism
· Subhasism and Fabianism
· Religious policy
· Minority Problem
· Foreign Policy
· Future role
My friend and esteemed colleague, Dr. Atindranath Bose, who has been entrusted by me to print the Thesis on Netaji’s Ideology, has requested me to write a short preface to this book. I have willingly accepted this request of my friend, as I feel that in bringing out this Thesis on Netaji’s ideology we in the Forward Bloc are fulfilling a very important work which was extremely necessary and urgent. A good deal of confusion has arisen in the minds of many an honest follower of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as to what was his ideology and philosophy. The time had, therefore, come when it was necessary to bring forward an authoritative Thesis, which will put before the public Netaji’s Ideology and Philosophy in its true character.
This Thesis, which we are putting before the general public and our Party members, is also the Thesis of the All India Forward Bloc. But at the same time, we have been very careful in not giving any partisan colour to any of Netaji’s ideals or his philosophy. Our attempt has been to depict Netaji’s ideology and philosophy in its true colour. We have attempted to present a correct and fair picture of Netaji’s ideology and philosophy. It may be that we have made honest mistakes here and there, but as far as possible, ours has been an attempt to delineate Netaji in his original and true form. We honestly feel that we have succeeded in this task beyond all our original expectations.
In explaining the ideals and philosophy of a great leader, it always happens that we are likely to forget the essence of his philosophy and ideals, and unnecessarily emphasise the minor points in his teachings. This has been the great danger from which all great apostles and leaders of thought have suffered in the past and are likely to suffer even in the future. We have taken every care that we do not commit this mistake, and, therefore, we feel that we are on sound ground when we make a claim that we have fulfilled our task with the best of our abilities and that we can lay claim to success which has not been achieved by any other author in this direction.
This Thesis emphasizes the fundamental ideals and philosophy of Netaji. At the same time, it points out its immediate repercussions and results on Indian politics, and therefore, though the Thesis is on the ideals and philosophy of Netaji, we are foncident that every Party member will find it as a guide for his day-to-day activities in the political and economic fields.
I and my colleagues on the Sub-Committee are aware of the fact that the Thesis is not as comprehensive as it should have been, but we were racing against time and at the last Party Session held at Calcutta, we had a mandate to bring out a Thesis of the Party as early as possible, and, therefore, we have not been able to make the Thesis more comprehensive and detailed, much as we would have liked it to be done, but we hope that when we have an occasion to bring further editions of this Thesis, we will be in position to explain the ideals and philosophy of Netaji in greater details and more comprehensively.
I have closely studied all the relevant literature on Netaji’s ideals and philosophy, but I feel that the present Thesis is the best exposition of Netaji’s ideals and philosophy. I recommend it not only to all the members of our party, i.e. the All India Forward Bloc, but also to every Indian who has the well being and prosperity of his country at heart, and I am confident that this Thesis on Netaji’s ideals and philosophy will be a source of inspiration and guidance to all revolutionaries in India, who are now to-day faced with the stupendous task of building of Socialism.
The fourth Party Congress of the All India Forward Bloc held at Calcutta on December 28-30, 1948 took a momentous resolution on the Ideology of the Party. It runs
“This Party Congress of the All India Forward Bloc feels the necessity of clarifying its ideological and philosophical stand in view of the misunderstanding which has arisen in the minds of certain members as regards the Ideology and Philosophy of the Party. ....... In the view of this plenary session the Ideology and Philosophy of the Forward Bloc is the Ideology and Philosophy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as clarified in his writings and speeches from time to time”.
So the Party arrived at a clear twofold decision leaving no scope for doubt or ambiguity, -- firstly, that its ideological and philosophical stand must be definite, secondly that this ideology and philosophy is the ideology and philosophy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
1. Why Ideology
Ideology is the system of ideas upon which man, as a social being, plans his actions. We have not merely for the present but also for the future. Hence the need to think and plan ahead. Hence it is necessary that we must have a comprehensive view of life, a clear insight into the forces and factors that lead to progress or regress, into the laws and methods of their working and precise formulation of our ideals and objectives with due regard to these forces and factors which help or impede us in our march. In simple, a political party to be worth its existence, must have an ideology, - a system of thought to guide its actions.
II. Netaji has an ideology
Netaji has an ideology, a positive thought system to guide the actions of his own, and of his party, the Forward Bloc. Some interested quarters have raised the canard that Netaji had no ideology of his own. this is a gross misrepresentation of truth. he has placed before the world a full picture of the future society he dreamt of. During the last quarter of a century (1920-45) he has written and spoken enought to give a clear indication of his theory of society and progress. Economic, political, moral, social and other aspects of life haev been discussed, analysed and evaluated by him. Fundamental values of life and the objects of social struggles have been laid down and problems assessed in this light. All his ideals have a clear direction and his activities and life too, have always been determined by his ideas and ideals. He has accepted modern science but has refused to bow down to its dogmatism. He has devoted himself to philosophy but has submitted it to rational criticism and judgement. He has developed his system of ideals in keeping with modern science and human values in keeping with modern science and human values. And this ideology is closely integrated with his political and social theories and with his revolutionary programme.
As a political figure Netaji stands out first and foremost as a Leftist and Revolutionary. He is the arch-enemy of British Imperialism and the most astute revolutionary of the age. His consistently leftists stand and strategy are rooted in his ideological convictions as much as these are supported by his unlimited audacity and daring. It was because he had a correct view of the forces at work and of the objective of national struggle, that he could give a masterly analysis of the Leftist movement, its difference from Rightism, it strength and weakness and the path it should follow.
Netaji applies the Hegelian dialetic for the interpretation of a movement and of the rise of Leftism within it:
“Several theories may be put forward by way of explanation, but the one that appeals to me most and which in my view, approximates to reality more than any other – is Hegelian Dialectic. Progress is neither unilinear, nor is it always peaceful in character. Progress often takes place through conflict.
Out of the conflict between ‘thesis’ and ‘anti-thesis’ ‘synthesis’ is born. This “synthesis” in its turn becomes the “thesis” of the next phase of evolution. This “thesis” throws up an “antithesis” and the conflict is resolved by further “synthesis”. Thus the wheels of progress move on and on.”
--Forward Bloc, 5-8-39
From the dialectical point of view, a leftwing appears as the antithesis of the main stream of a movement which, through conflict with the left, becomes the rightwing.
“When the main stream of a Movement begins to stagnate, but there is still vitality in the Movement as a whole a leftwing invariably appears. The main function of the leftwing is to stimulate the progress when there is a danger of its being arrested. The appearance of a leftwing is followed by a conflict between it and the main stream which now becomes the Rightwing. This conflict is a temporary phase and through it a higher stage is reached when the conflict is resolved. The solution of the conflict takes place through some sort of agreement or adjustment whereby the leftwing tends to dominate the Movement as a whole. Thus the leftwing becomes in time, the main stream of the Movement.”
- Meaing of Leftism, Jan. 1941.
Thus in 1919, when the official Congress having lost its dynamism could not stand up to the situation of the post-war India and seemed to be stagnating, -
“At this juncture a Leftwing appeared in the form of Gandhi Movement. Conflict ensued for the time and the old leaders were driven out of the Congress or voluntarily withdrew. Ultimately a “synthesis” took place. The Congress accepted the tenets of Mahatma Gandhi and the Leftwing then became the official Congress.”
A movement or a particular phase of it begins to stagnate when it loses its dynamism.
“So long as it can assimilate from outside and go on creating something new, decay cannot set in.”
For twenty years Gandhism maintained its hold on the Indian National Congress. This was possible because –
“Whenever revolts appeared, the Gandhi Movement took the wind out of their sails by accepting many of their ideas and policies.”
In 1925 the Gandhites accepted the Swarajist Programme of non-cooperation within the Legislature. In 1929, Gandhiji, thanks to the revold of the Independence League, himself moved the resolution at the Lahore Congress declaring Independence instead of Dominion Status as the goal of the Indian National Congress.
“By this process assimilation, the Gandhi Movement was able to maintain its progressive character and prevent the emergence of any big Leftwing movement.”
But stagnation had set in by 1934 when Gandhiji surrendered to the rightist demand for parliamentary programme. Between the Swarajist programme of non-cooperation within legisltaure of 1925 and the rightist programme of working the reforms in 1935 there is a gulf of difference. The former was a purely leftist constitutional activities directed as it was towards wrecking diarchy and the Act of 1919, and leading India along the path of complete independence. The latter was directed to operate the constitution of 1935 not for wrecking it but to reap out of it whatever benefit it was possible to gather. As year after year passed by, the country became more and more eager for a revolutionary programme and direct action. Far from acceding to this insistent demand, the rightists stiffened their attitude to teh left. In September 1938 at the Delhi A.I.C.C. meeting they raised the cry that co-operation with the leftists was no longer possible. The reasons, primarily, were the leftist President’s (Netaji’s) opposition to the proposed federation, his sponsoring of the National Planning Committee and his advocacy for early resumption of national struggle. By 1941 the position, as stated by Netaji was:
“We are now living in the Blitzkrieg period of history and if we do not move with the times, we shall have to go under. So far Ganghiji has been unable to prove by his action that he can keep abreast of the times and lead the nation – and this accords with our belief that the Gandhi movement is becoming static and hidebound.”
At that fateful hour of the country Netaji predicted that peaceful parliamentary life and ministerial office will be the political grave of Gandhism Under the influence of ministerial office many a Congressman have turned from the thorny path of Revolution to the rosy path of Constitutionalism. They have also had a taste of power and are anxious to monopolise it. Having fallen victim to Constitutionalism and Authoritarianism the Gandhi Movement became stagnant and “ceased to be revolutionary”.
“Ever since Gandhism has begun to stagnate and a big leftwing has emerged opposition to it, the Gandhites have become Rightists and Gandhian Consolidation has come to mean Right Consolidation. Philosophically speaking. Right consolidateion is the “thesis” which demands its “antithesis” and the conflict following in its wake, no further progress is possible. All those who believe in progress and desire it should therefore actively assist in this task of Left Consolidation and should be prepared for the conflict resulting therefrom.”
So, Left consolidation against the Right becomes a compelling necessity. The genuine Leftist has to fight at two fronts – viz., against imperialist and against Rightists. Netaji repeatedly warned his followers against the pseudo-Leftists who shrink at the Rightist onslaught and try to “hide their weakness under the plea of unity”.
“We have to distinguish between real unity and false unity between the unity of action and the unity of inaction – between the unity which makes for progress and the unity which brings stagnation. Today the slogan of unity at any price and under all circumstances is a convenient slogan in the mouths of those who have lost dynamism and revolutionary urge.”
- F.B. Weekly, 5-8-1939.
It was when existing Leftist parties failed to grasp this situation and accept their proper role, that the Forward Bloc came as “the product of historical necessity.”
“The Forward Bloc has appeared because the Congress must enter on a new phase in its revolutionary process.”
Netaji was not at all frustrated by the apparent failure of the Leftist Consolidation in 1939. He knew that a real Left Consolidation is not possible unless false Leftists are first eliminated. He was confident that
“History will separate the chaff from the grain, -- the pseudo-Leftists from genuine Leftists. When this elimination takes place all the genuine Leftists will come together and fusion will take place. By this natural or historical process, Left Consolidation will be achieved. For this purpose, the acid test of a fight on a double front is essential. Those who pass this test will be the genuine Leftists and they will all coalesce in time.”
-- Meaning of Leftism.
And he was fonfident too that since India’s political movement cannot end abruptly and since stagnation has overtaken the Right, “the logic of history demands a big Left Movement so that progress may continue.” Leftism is bound to prevail over the entire political movement.
IV. Revolution, class struggle & Socialism
While going to explain and define Leftism Netaji divided in into two phases and wrote in 1941:
“In present political phase of Indian life, leftism means anti-imperialism. A genuine anti-imperialist is one who believes in undiluted Independence (not Mahatma Gandhi’s substance of Independence) as the political objective and in uncompromising antional struggle as the means for attaining it. After the attainment of political Independence Leftism will mean Socialism and the task before the people will then be the reconstruction of national life on a socialist basis.”
-- Meaning of Leftism.
As an anti-imperialist Netaji stood all along for uncompromising struggle and would brook no deal with imperialism as our “milk and water nationalists”, Socialism and dialectics, he accepted class struggle as a necessary fact, the conflict between the thesis and anti-thesis of the capitalist exploiters on the one hand and the exploited masses on the other. He also believed that although socialist reconstruction is not possible before political emancipation, the struggle for socialism, i.e. class struggle, and the struggle for independence may go on simultaneously and need not necessarily follow the Russian precedent.
“In my opinion, however, the fight for political freedom will have to be conducted simultaneously with the fight for socio-economic emancipation. The party that will bring political freedom to India will be the party that will also put into effect the entire programme of socio-economic reconstruction.”
-- Interview with Romain Rolland 3-4-1935.
He even visualised the contingency that the economic struggle might break away from the united national front and itself become the main stream of the freedom movement.
“What would be Mon. Rolland’s attitude if the united front policy of the Indian National Congress fails to win freedom for India and a radical party emerges which identifies itself with the interest of the peasants and workers?”
In order to link together the forces of political and social revolution, Netaji was in favour of collective affiliation of workers’ and peasants organisations to the Congress. In his presidential speech at Haripura, he expressed the view that:
“We shall have to grant this affiliation in order to bring all progressive and anti-imperialist organisations under the influence and control of the Congress.” (19-2-1938)
Owing to the rightist opposition, the President Subhas Chandra Bose failed to carry out this programme of collective affiliation and to convert the Congress into a broad-based mass party. Hence the alternative was always in his mind, that a radical party identified with workers and peasants will emerge to lead the war of independence and to under-take far-reaching socio-economic reform.
Keenly alive as he was to be economic needs of man and to the material forces which operate as the most powerful drive behind the Socialist revolution, Netaji completely identified himself and his Party with the exploited masses of India. Freedom has no meaning for him unless the starving millions are liberated from the tentacles of imperialism and capitalism which have gripped them for the last two centuries.
“The evils resulting from industrial capitalism are due largely to the accmulation of wealth in the hands of a few and to abnormally large dividends which are gathered either at the cost of sweated labour or at the cost of the exploited consumer in colonial and semi-colonial countries.”
-- Tatas under Hammer, 31-12-1935
This capitalistic and imperialist exploitation created a division of economic classes all over the world, the classes of exploiters and exploited, haves and have nots, who are committed to a desperate struggle.
“Every nation could be divided into haves and have-nots. The have-nots will spontaneously support the revolution and they are the majority in our country.”
-- Revolution, what it is, p.12
Thus Netaji’s place has not been in the ivory tower of a dreamer or idealist but in “the hard facts of life – that beset the path of a fighter.” The political freedom of India must implement complete economic emancipation of the masses. Hence the slogan and battlecry – “All Power to the Indian People.”
V. Socialist Reconstruction
Socialist reconstruction must immediately follow the attainment of political independence and the attainment of all power by workers and peasants. Private initiative and capitalism must be done away with and India must have.
“a socialist system, in which the initiative will not be left to private individuals, but the State wil take over the responsibility for solving economic questions. Whether it is a question of industrialising the country or modernising agriculture, we want the State to step in and take over the responsibility and put through reforms within a short period, so that the Indian people could be put on their legs at a very early date.”
-- Tokyo speech, November, 1944.
As early as in 1938 in his presidential speech at Haripura, Netaji laid down the main planks of Socialist reconstruction as “radical reform of our land-system, including the abolition of landlordism”, liquidation of agricultural indebtedness, “a comprehensive scheme of industrial development” with plenty of room for cottage industries” and
“a comprehensive scheme for gradually socialising our entire agricultural and industrial system in the spheres of both production and appropriation.”
If India is to attain and maintain her freedom and grow as a modern state, she must have not only a socialist order but also modern arms and modern industries.
“The problem for modern India is not our attitude towards modernism or foreign influence or industrialisation but how we are to solve our present day problems. For that we need modern industries, a modern army and all those things necessary to preserve our existence and our freedom under modern conditions.”
-- Tokyo speech.
In order to through these refoms within a short period, the state will have to be a peoples’ state and strong centralised state.
“You cannot have a so-called democratic system, if that system has to put through economic reforms on a socialist basis .............. Therefore modern progressive thought in India is in favour of a state of an authoritarian character which will work as an organ, or as the servant of the masses, and not of a clique or of a few rich individuals, ...... We must have a Government that will function as the servant of the people and will have full powers to put through new reforms concerning industry, education, defence, etc., in free India.”
Who will bear this burden, the dual burden of revolution and reconstruction? Netaji’s answer is clear and emphatic:
“The future of India ultimately lies with a party with a clear ideology, programme and plan of action – a party that will not only fight for and win freedom, but will put into effect the entire programme of post-war reconstuction.”
-- Indian Struggle, 1934.
A few years later the Forward Bloc was founded to play this historic role.
Netaji adopted the hegelian Dialectic for the interpretation of progress through successive phases of sociali change and for the determination of the Leftist course in that process. But Dialectics and the law of progress were with him the nearest approach to truth and not an infallible dogma. This theory “approximates to reality more than any other”. It contains “the maximum truth” not the “whole truth”. While examining the law of progress Netaji compares the different philosophical efforts to explain it – Spencer’s theory of evolution from the simple to the complex, Hartman’s theory of bind will, Bergson’s theory of creative evolution and Hegel’s dialectic which interprets progress as the product of conflicts and their solutions.
“All these theories have undoubtedly an element of truth. Each of the above thinkers has endeavoured to reveal the truth as he has perceived it. But undoubtedly Hegel’s theory is the nearest approximation to truth. It explains the fact more satisfactorily than any other theory. At the same time it cannot be regarded as the whole truth – since all the facts, as we know them do not accord with it. Reality is after all, too big for our frail understanding to fully comprehend.”
So Hegelian Dialectic is accepted with this reservation and warning. Netaji observed that in spite of periodic setbacks, there is progress “considered from a long period point of view”. He observed the phenomena of conflicts or class struggles in social progress in the form of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. He further observed that a synthesis will emerge out of the conflicting political philosophies of the day which will be acceptable for free India.
“Considering everything, one is inclined to hold that the next phase in world-history will produce a synthesis between Communism and Fascism and will it be a surprise if that synthesis is produced in India?”
-- Indian Struggle.
So dialectics, applied to our present day political problems, point to a synthesis of the Socialist economic programme and National sentiment, an incorporation of the good features in Communism and Nationalism.
“When we see National Socialism in Europe today, what do we find? National Socialism has been able to create national unity and solidarity and to improve the condition of the masses. But it has not been able to radically reform the prevailing economic system which was built up on a capitalistic basis.
“On the other side, let us examine the Soviet experiment based on Communism. You will find one great achievement and that is planned economy. Where communism is deficient is that it does not appreciate the value of national sentiment. What we in India would like to have is a progressive system which will fulfil the social needs of the whole people and will be based on national sentiment. In other words, it will be a synthesis of Nationalism and Socialism. This is something which has not been achieved by the National Socialists in Germany to-day.”
-- Tokyo speech.
VII. Samyavada or Synthesis
Netaji picks up the common good traits of National Socialism and Communism to “form the basis of the new synthesis.”
“That synthesis is called by the writer ‘Samyavada’ – an Indian word, which means literally ‘the doctrine of synthesis or equality’. It will be India’s task to work out this synthesis.”
-- Indian Struggle.
The Samyavada or doctrine of synthesis leads not only to socialism with due regard to national sentiment, it points to a perfect balance between the material and the spiritual, between the East and the West, betweeen the past and the present.
“Our emphasis was not on civilisation but on culuture, not on the material side of life but on the intellectual and spiritual. There in we had our advantages as well as disadvantages. Owing to our superior thought power, we could hold our own against invaders from outside even when we were vanquished physically for the time being......... On the other hand, emphasis on the intellectual and spiritual side caused us to neglect the development of science and left us comparatively weak on the material and physical side of life.
............... Owing to the interrelation between the soul and the body, the neglect or the body not only weakens a nation physically, but in the long run weakens it spiritually as well. India at the present moment appears to be suffering not merely from physical weakness but from spiritual exhaustion as well, -- the inevitable result of our neglecting one aspect of life. And if we are to come to our own once again, we have to advance simultaneously on both fronts.”
--Pyramids, January, 1935.
But there were also “glorious periods of our history”, when we were able to strike the golden mean between the demands of spirit and matter, of the soul and the body – and thereby progress simultaneously on both fronts.”
This is how Netaji econciles the opposite aspects of life. The spiritual aspects, the intellectual, ethical and aesthetic values of life which had a high place in Indian culture must be blended with material civilisation in the new set-up. That is to say, the new India must be a synthesis of ancient glories and modern trends, of Indian achievements and foreign contributions.
“India has a culture of her own which she must continue to develop along her own distintive channels. In philosophy, literature, art, science, we have something new to give to the world which the world eagerly awaits. In a word we must arrive at a synthesis.”
-- Pres. Address, All India Youth Congress, 25-11-1928.
Sixteen years later, in his Tokyo speech Netaji reiterated the same standpoint, the same belief in “a modern India based on the past”, a new and modern nation on the basis of our old culture and civilisation.”
“The vision of a free India is a perfect synthesis of all that is good in the East and in the West.”
-- Amraoti Students Conference, 1-22-1929.
So Netaji’s Socialism, although it stands upon economic equality and classlessness, does not end in these. It is a state of society rich in India’s heritage, in modern ideas and in material prosperity and scientific achievements of the West. It is distinct from the Fabian or Gandhian socialism in its revolutionary methodology. It is distinct from Marxian socialism or Communism on other fundamental points.
“This socialism did not drive its birth from the books of Karl Marx. It has its origin in the thought and culture of India.
-- Rangpur speecu, 20-3-1929.
Distinguishing his own conception of socialism from the Fabian and Marxian varieties, Netaji says in his T.U.C. speech :
“Various currents and cross currents of thought sometimes make trade union workers feel bewildered as to the path or the modus operandi, they should follow. There is on the one hand the rightwing who stand for a reformist programme above everything else. On the other side there are our Communist friends who, if I have understood them aright are adherents and followers of Moscow. Whether we agree with the views of either group or not we cannot fail to understand them. Between these two groups stands another group which stands or socialism – for full-blooded socialism – but which desires that India should evolve her own form of socialism as well as her own methods. To this group I humbly claim to belong. I have no doubt in my mind that the salvation of India, as of the world depends on socialism. India should learn from and profit by the experience of other nations, but India should be able to evolve her own methods in keeping with her own needs and her own environments.”
-- July 4, 1931.
Netaji lays his finger on the weak points of Marxian socialism for which it “will not be adopted in India”. As pointed in his Indian Struggle these defects are that
(1) “Communism has no sympathy with Nationalism in any form”, (2) that it is “antireligious and atheistic” (he draws attention to the fact that “In India a national awakening is in most cases heralded by a religious reformation and a cultural renaissance”); (3) that its materialistic interpretation of history “will not in unqualified acceptance”, (4) that it has contributed nothing towards the solution of monetary problem. In the Tokyo speech Netaji further adds (5) that Communism over-emphasises the problem of the working class while in India “the problem of the peasants will be more important”, (6) that “too much importance is given to the economic factor in human life.”
These defects however do not blind him to the strong points of Soviet Communism which we must adopt and imitate, foremost among which is the state planning. Philosophically the most important and fundamental point of difference of Netaji from Marx is that (1) he does not fully accept the materialist interpretation of history though he realises the importance of material factors in historical evolution and that (2) he admits other factors – viz., psychological, ethical, aesthetic, etc. side by with the material and economic. His is a golden mean between the extreme schools of materialism and idealism – a perfet synthesis between values material and spiritual.
In this respect Netaji’s synthesis has the support of modern science and sociology. To-day physics itself in redefining physical objects a ‘waves’, ‘charges’ and inscrutable ‘energy’. Matter itself has lost its lerra firma, the old conception of a tangible particle. In sociology, side by side with Marx’s materialistic interpretation we are presented with Buckle’s geographical interpretation, Gobineau’s racial interpretation, Freud’s sexological interpretation, Carlyle’s great man interpretation and so on. Modern sociologists like Westermarck, Goldenwieser, Mueller Lyer, Lowie, etc., have shown that none of these monistic interpretatins are correct and that all these forces play their part in moulding social evolution. This however, in no way compromises the predominant importance of the economic motive in class struggle and socialist revolution for the overthrow of the capitalist state and economy.
In the last chapter of his Autobiography, Netaji moves away from politics and sociology and probs deep into philosophy and ultimate values. His approach to truth is pragmatic. He accepts a view of life which gives it meaning and purpose. While truth is absolute our notions of it “are realtive to our human mind.”
“Truth as known to us is not absolute but relative. It is relative to our common mental constitution – to our distinctive characteristics as individuals – to changes in the same individual during the process of time.”
“It would follow further, that the notions of the same individual with regard to the Absolute may vary with time along with his mental development. But none of these notions need be regarded as false. As Vivekananda used to say ‘Man proceeds not from error to truth but from truth to higher truth.’ There should accordingly be scope for the widest toleration.”
So, in philosophical matters too, Netaji is free from dogmatism and admits that each theory contains a quantum of truth. All he says is that the world is real, that to us this reality is relative and dynamic always changing “towards a better state of existence”. The nearest interpretation of this change is the Hegelian dialectic. And behind all the variable factors, the only invariable, the ultimate values is Love.
“Reality, therefore, is spirit the essence of which is Love, gradually unfolding itself in an eternal play of conflicting forces and their solutions.”
But to make a fetish of Netaji’s philosophy is to belie it: for Netaji himself warns that “all these theories (Spencer, Hartman, Bergson, etc.) have undoubtedly an element of truth” and that there is “scope for the widest toleration.”
* * * * *
This then is in brief, the ideology of Netaji having a distinctive mark of its own and sufficiently complete to guide a workers through the stormy path of struggle. It is distinct and apart from the other prevailing ideologies that have influenced the destiny of the world and of India.
IX. Subhasism and Gandhism
Subhasism in India politics, is distinct from Gandhism and has played a more progressive and evolutionary role than Ggandhism. Left led by Subhas appears in the Indian scene when Gandhism is identified with rightism and begins to stagnate. This does not mean that Netaji did not see anything good in the Gandhian movement or that he denied its historical utility.
“The success of the Mahatma has been due to the failure of constitutionalism on the one side and armed revolution on the other.”
-- Indian Struggle.
These failures called for a new method – viz., non-violence and civil disobedience, through which the people might offer united resistence.
“Though personally I believe that this method will not succeed in bringing us complete independence, there is no doubt that it has greatly helped to rouse and unify the Indian people and also to keep up a movement of resistance against the foreign government.”
-- Tokyo speech.
But while acknowledgement the indisputable position of Gandhiji in the Indian movement, Netaji is irreconcilably opposed to his dogma on non-violence, charkha and cottage industries economy, isolationism from foreign influence and above all to his reformism, truesteeship theory and class collaboration.
“Our generation has followed Mahatma Gandhi as the leader of a political struggle, but has not accepted his ideas on all these questions. Therefore it would be a mistake to take Mahatma Gandhi as the exponent of the thought and ideas of the present generation in India.”
“His proramme is one of reform – he is fundamentally a reformist and not a revolutionary. He would have the existing social and economic structure much as it is to-day and would content himself with removing the glaring injustices and inequalities against which his moral sense revolts. There are millions of his countrymen who accept his method owing to the pressure of circumstances, but not his programme of reconstruction, and who would like to build up quite a different India if they had the power.”
-- Indian Struggle.
X. Subhasism and communism
Netaji accepts socialism and class struggle for its achievement and to that extent he is at one with Marx. The application of dialectics in society would necessarily imply the struggle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. But this does not imply the acceptance of all the philosophical tenets of Marxism.
“Where Communism is deficient is that it does not appreciate the value of national sentiment. What we in India would like to have is a progressive system which will fulfil the social needs of the whole people and will be based on national sentiment.”
“There is another point which has been over-emphasised by Soviet Russia and that is the problem of the working classes. India being predominantly a country of the peasants the problem of the peasants will be more important than the problem of working classes.
“Another point on which we do not fully agree is that, according to Marxism, too much importance is given to the economic factory in human life. We fully appreciate the importance of the economic factory which was formerly ignored but it is necessary to over-emphasise it.”
-- Tokyo speech.
As further weaknesses, Netaji points out the atheism and anti-religious attitude of Communism, its failure to handle the monetary problem in which it has “merely followed traditional economics” ant its doctrine of historical materialism.
“The materialistic interpretation of history which seems to be a cardinal point in Communist theory will not find unqualified acceptance in India, even among those who would be disposed to accept the economic contents of Communism.”
-- Indian Struggle.
In spite of these drawbacks Communism and the Russian experiment set illustration to us in several respects and Netaji acknowledges all these in his ideology and programme. He not only accepts fullfledged socialism and class struggle, he also welcomes Soviet state-planning, rapid industrilisation of that country and Soviet solution of the problem of minorities. In the struggle for socialism the importance of economic motive and material needs stands foremost. But all history is not to be interpreted only in material terms, and besides the foremost economic motive, there are other elements in man i.e. psychical, ethical, aesthetic etc., which guide the course of history.
XI. Subhasism and Fascism or Nazi-ISM
Netaji has stated his position unequivocally to refute the canard that he was a Fascist. His association with Germany and Japan was dictated by revolutionary strategy and not by ideological kinship. He was totally opposed to the Fascist theory of race superiority and to the Fascist acceptance of Capitalism.
“I am opposed to Hitlerism whether in India within the Congress or any other country but it appears to me that socialism is the only alternative to Hitlerism.”
-- Delhi Speech, 12.10.1928
“National socialism has been able to create National unity and solidarity and to improve the condition of the masses. But it has not been able to radically reform the prevailing economic system which was built up on a capitalistic basis.”
-- Tokyo Speech.
Nationalism which is however the only redeeming feature of National socialism has its proper place in Netaji’s Samyavada or scheme of synthesis.
XII. Subhasism and Fabianism ETC.
Netaji being a full-blooded revolutionary has no truck with the Fabian brand of socialism. Socialism will be achieved through uncompromising class struggle and not through peaceful constitutional methods. He criticised the Congress Socialists for their Fabian tactics during the early years of their life.
“The Congress Socialists appear at the moment to be under the influence of Fabian Socialism and some of their ideas and shibboleths were the fashion several decades ago.”
-- Indian Struggle.
Similarly Netaji has no truck with so-called Western democracy which is a byword for capitalist democracy. Nevertheless he admits that
“all the modern socio-political movements and experiments in Europe and in America will have a considerable influence on India’s development.”
XIII. Religious Policy
Although Netaji is a deeply religious man he is totally against mixing religion with politics. He often criticised Mahatmaji for doing this and for playing the dual role of a political leader and world teacher with a new doctrine to preach. He also wants the state to be absolutely free from any religious preference.
“The Government of Free India must have an absolutely neutral and impartial attitude towards all religious and leave it to the choice of every individual to profess or follow a particular religious faith.”
This position has been further clarified in the resolution on ideology passed at the 4th annual conference of the Party.
“The plenary session is emphatically of opinion that religious belief or non-belief of an individual member of the Party is a matter on which Party should not interfere in any way and there should be perfect liberty for a member to hold any views that he likes on this subject.”
XIV. On minority Problem.
Netaji’s approach to the vexed problem of the minorities was perfectly reassuring and he solved it successfully in his Azad Hind Government and Army.
“While unifying the country through a strong Central Government, we shall have to put all the minority communities as well as the provinces at their ease, by allowing them a large measure of autonomy in cultural as well as government affairs.”
“There remains but one question which may be a source of anxiety to the minorities viz. religion and that aspect of culture that is based on religion. On this question, the Congress policy is one of live and let live – a policy of complete non-interference in matters of conscience, religion and culture as well as of cultural autonomy for the different linguistic areas.”
-- Haripura speech.
The commendable example of the USSR in the solution of the minority problem convinced him beyond doubt that in India too it was nothing insoluble.
“If you take a modern power like Soviet Russia, you will realise that if, inspite of this heterogeneous character, so many different races professing so many different religions could be unified in one political system and become such a strong power, there is absolutely no reason why India which has much more homogeneity than the Soviet Union, should not be united as one nation. As a matter of fact, you will find that outside India, where there is no British influence, there are no differences among the Indian people. ............ It is just in India where the British have influence and control that you will find these differences.”
-- Tokyo speech.
Pacts and shares in power and wealth cannot solve minority problems. The point is to remove misgivings and to create confidence. Netaji’s INA gave the minorities no promises, power or spoils but only ‘hunger, forced marches and death.’ But it removed misgivings and got confidence. That is a revolutionary’s way to solve the problem of all minorities racial, cultural or religious.
XV. Foreign Policy.
Netaji was very much averse to the Gandhian spirit of isolation from the outside world. He regretted that the Indian National Congress had virtually no foreign policy. Whatever little work was being done by the London Branch of the Congress ended with its disaffiliation. The freedom struggle of India must have a foreign policy and international contacts. It must utilise every world situation to its advantage and seek foreign allies irrespective of their ideological affinities or internal politics.
“I attach great importance to this work because I believe that in the years to come, international developments will favour our struggle in India. But we must have a correct appreciation of the world situation at every stage and should know how to take advantage of it. The lesson of Egypt stands before us as an example........
“In connection with our foreign policy, the first suggestion that I have to make is that we should not be influenced by the internal politics of any country or the form of its state....... In this matter we should take a leaf out of Soviet diplomacy. Though Soviet Russia is a Communist state, her diplomats have not hesitated to make alliances with non-socialist states and have not declined sympathy or support coming from any quarter.”
-- Haripura Speech.
These words were spoken in February 1938 after. Netaji had travelled through and made contacts in European countries. He clearly foresaw the storm that was brewing in the European horizon and he fixed India’s role in it. After four years Netaji became the undisputed leader of Indian revolution, a partner in anti-imperialist combination and the spearhead of South East Asian revolt. On the party’s future foreign policy his directions are clear:
“A party that will break the isolation that has been India’s curse and bring her into the comity of nations, -- firm in the belief that the fate of India is indissolubly linked up with the fate of humanity.”
--- Indian Struggle.
XVI. Future Role
“The attainment of political independence will not mean the dissolution of the Forward Bloc. It will only mean a new phase in its life and activity. And that phase will undoubtedly be a socialist one.”
--Forward Bloc Weekly, 12-8-1939.
This is the historic role that Netaji assigned for his Party. Congressites now in power have made use of the following words from his Haripura speech:
“There can be no question of the Congress Party withering away after political freedom has been won. On the contrary, party will have to take over power, assume responsibility for administration and put through its programme of reconstruction. Only then will it fulfil its role.”
In the same speech Netaji visualises the National Congress as “the organ of mass struggle for capturing as “the organ of mass struggle for capturing political power.” As the Congress belied this function, it had no further progressive role. This work of Socialist reconstruction can be undertaken only by a Left Party i.e. a Party of revolution. The Forward Bloc came into existence to serve these purposes, i.e. to lead the revolution and to undertake the post-revolutionary reconstruction.
In eighteen months Netaji was convinced that Congress can take up neither a revolutionary nor a constructive role. This work is for a Party whose programme is outlined in his Indian Struggle and Kabul letter (Meaning of Leftism).
1. Complete political and economic liberation of the Indian people.
2. A thoroughly modern and socialist state.
3. Scientific large scale production and state planning.
4. A new social structure on the basis of the village communities of the past, breaking down existing social barriers like caste.
5. Abolition of landlordism and a uniform land tenure.
6. Social ownership and control of both production and distribution.
7. A new monetary and credit system in the light of modern theories and experiments.
8. A Federal State with a strong centre.
9. Foreign contacts.
10. Freedom of religious worship for individual.
11. Equal rights for every individual.
12. Linguistic and cultural autonomy for all sections of the Indian Community.
13. Application of the principles of equality and social justice in building up the New Order.
This, in brief, is Netaji’s ideology. It is a Leftist ideology for it urges its adherents to unceasing struggle, to go ahead without rest or compromise. It is revolutionary because it wants a complete and radical change of the existing capitalist order through class struggle. It is socialist for it seeks reconstruction of society on a classless and equalitarian basis. It is a believer in material uplift of the people through industrialisation while cottage industries also have their legitimate place. It believes in progress and accepts dialectics as the nearest approximation to truth, not as a dogma. It makes a perfect synthesis between East and West, Past and Present, Material and Spiritual, Communism and National Socialism and other conflicting trends in ideas and institutions. It sees Spirit and Love as the essence of a dynamic reality where there is widest scope for toleration in philosophical beliefs. It is distinct from Gandhism, Marxism, Fascism, Fabianism and other schools of thought but the best in everything finds place in it. It is precise in its religious, foreign and minority policies. The programme and plan of action which emanates from this ideology is a clear as crystal. A follower of Netaji needs never grope in the dark. His path is illuminated by the clearest of thoughts all demonstrated in the practical laboratory of History. The lessons of Subhasism are learnt not in the secluded halls of the library or in chosen societies of the elite. These lessons are learnt with intelligent study, close observation and continuous application in the widest field of activity among the masses. Thus learnt, Netaji’s ideology serves as the surest guide to a revolutionary in his march for the emancipation of man.
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