“Unite to Protect India’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity”?


Chauvinist escapade of social-patriotic Stalinists in the light of the China-India border conflict


by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 29 June 2020, www.thecommunists.net




A wave of patriotism is sweeping India. The right-wing Hindu chauvinist government of Narendra Modi tries to utilize the border conflict with China in order to recover its lost prestige. His government currently faces its worst political crisis as a result of two key developments in the past months: first, the unprecedented slump of India’s economy – against the backdrop of the depression of the capitalist world economy; and, second, the brutal and reactionary lockdown policy which resulted in agony for hundreds of millions of the poor.


Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have repeatedly provoked and utilized military actions in order to deflect the people’s attention from social and economic crisis. This was the case during the conflict with Pakistan from September 2016 to June 2018 and even more so in late February 2019 when New Delhi launched several military strikes against Pakistan after a successful guerrilla attack of Kashmiri liberation fighters against the Indian occupation army. [1]


And in August 2019, Modi again wiped up again reactionary Hindu chauvinism when he abolished the decades-old autonomy rights of Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state. [2] This was only the latest brutal attack against the Kashmiri people who suffer from Indian occupation since many decades. [3] And only a few months later, Modi again waged a brutal chauvinist campaign via the so-called Citizenship Amendment Act which discriminates national and religious minorities. [4]




Modi wipes up chauvinism against the Chinese rival




Today, the government hopes to utilize the same chauvinist methods by exploiting the border conflict with China. The latest escalation between the two Asian powers has taken place in the Ladakh area which is part of Indian-occupied historic Kashmir. Wiping up Indian patriotism became particularly urgent for Modi since the army suffered a humiliating defeat in a clash with Chinese troops in the disputed region on 15 June. As a result, India lost at least 20 soldiers and officers. In addition, 10 additional troops were captured by China and released only some days later.


After this clash, both sides agreed to avoid further confrontations. However, in fact, both armies have mobilized thousands of troops, tanks and airplanes near to the Ladakh region and fortified their position there. [5] Hardliners on both sides call to prepare for a war. [6]


In response the BJP and various affiliated organizations have launched aggressive campaigns to boycott Chinese goods. Likewise, they are calling for a push back of the growing influence of Chinese corporations (e.g. Huawei in the 5G telecommunication sector). Such a campaign strongly affects the relations between the two countries since China is India’s largest trading partner. Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (a semi-fascist cadre organization which is highly influential within the BJP) has intensified its “Boycott China” campaign. [7]




Marxist vs. Stalinist Approach




Marxists must support neither side as we explained in the RCIT statement on the latest China-India border conflict: “Under such circumstances, revolutionaries are obligated to refuse supporting either camp. Hence the RCIT calls socialists in both countries to oppose both the ruling class of China and of India. Chinese and Indian workers and oppressed: Your main enemy is at home! The task is to denounce the chauvinist and militaristic agitation of both governments which is diametral opposed to the fundamental interests of the popular masses. Socialists in both countries must oppose any chauvinist campaign directed against the rival (e.g. economic sanctions, “patriotic” consumer boycott campaigns, etc.). The Chinese workers and poor peasants have no interests in war at its border for the control of a Himalayan plateau. The same is true for their Indian brothers and sisters. In case of a war, socialists should refuse any support for “their” ruling class and act on the basis of the Leninist program of revolutionary defeatism. This means, they should work towards transforming such a reactionary war into a civil war against the ruling class. [8]


Shamefully, the largest “Communist” parties take a diametrically opposed position in the current China-India border conflict. Instead of unequivocally opposing Indian chauvinism and taking an internationalist stance, they join the patriotic bandwagon and by this objectively aid the reactionary goals of the Modi government. They patriotically praise the Indian army and call for the “defense of our country” against the Chinese rivals. Let us give a few examples to illustrate this sad charade of “Communism”.


The Communist Party of India (CPI) – the historic Stalinist party in the country – unashamed praises the Indian army and calls the people to rally behind it. In a public statement – characteristically titled “Unite to Protect India’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity” – General Secretary D. Raja left no doubts that his party is a hardened supporter of capitalist patriotism: “Our Party salutes the martyred Soldiers and Officers who sacrificed their precious lives on June 15th. Every Indian is proud of our Defence Forces for their valour and dedication in defending the security and borders of our country. They are Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The whole country stands behind them. (…) Coming to the current stand-off between India and China, our Party is of the view that no compromise on sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country should be made. (…) The political parties in India should stand together in defence of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The whole country should stand as one. CPI stands for such unity. [9]


In a similar spirit, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also “expressed its deep condolences at the death of an Indian officer and two soldiers. [10] Naturally, as “good Indian patriots” they offered no condolences at the casualties on the Chinese side. The CPI(M) is the largest and most influential Stalinist party in India.


In another statement, it attacked Prime Minister Modi when he said that there was “no intrusion, no occupation and no capture of our posts” by the Chinese army. This was a statement by the government in order to deescalate the conflict with Beijing (which, as an imperialist Great Power is clearly the stronger side with an economy five times as large as India’s). [11] However, the CPI(M) leadership strongly criticized Modi for this statement: “The PM's remarks came as a major setback to the legitimacy of the act of heroism of our brave soldiers. Further, this undermines the strength of our diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute. [12] Hence, we see that the CPI(M) strongly identifies with “our diplomatic efforts”, i.e. it signals that the CPI(M) views itself as being part of the same patriotic camp with Modi against the “Chinese foreigners”!


Another “Communist” party which demonstrates its patriotism during the current conflict with China is the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation. This party comes from a Maoist tradition and has traditionally claimed to be more left-wing than the CPI and the CPI(M). However, their statements of the last weeks show that it is not accidental that the CPI(ML) Liberation is part of a long-time “left-wing alliance” with the two larger “Communist” parties mentioned above. Like them it announced that it “will observe a day of mourning and respect for the fallen soldiers on 22 June.” We note in passing that the pseudo-Maoist CPI(ML) Liberation also commemorated the Indian soldiers who died in a Kashmiri guerrilla attack in February 2019. At that time it organized “candle marches ... to pay tributes to the soldiers”! [13]


Worse, the CPI(ML) Liberation accuses Modi for lack of patriotic defence of the national interests! “Even as China is claiming sovereignty over the Galwan valley area which has been under Indian control for so long, Indian PM is rejecting the very allegation of any Chinese intrusion. Does it mean the Modi government accepts China's claims? [14] We can only reply: Does this mean that the CPI(ML) Liberation accepts India's claims to the Ladakh area which is part of historic Kashmir? Unfortunately, we can answer this question beyond doubt: yes, the CPI(ML) Liberation supports the reactionary goals the Indian expansionism!




Shameful social-patriotism




These are some examples which illustrate the shameful capitulation of Indian Stalinism to the wave of patriotic chauvinism which the Modi government has wiped up in the past weeks. Which army are these pseudo-Marxists praising?! The CPI praises “our Defence Forces for their valour and dedication in defending the security and borders of our country”. But what this army is actually defending is the power of the Indian ruling class. It uses this army in order to viciously suppress national and ethnic minorities – most of all the Kashmiri people. In this province, the Indian army has demonstrated since decades how they “defend the security and borders of our country”! They do so by killing about 100,000 people in Kashmir since the beginning of the Intifada in 1989! They do so by acting as instruments of the power games by the ruling capitalist class which tries to expand its influence at the cost of its regional rivals (like China and Pakistan).


Likewise, it is absolutely illegitimate for Marxists to identify with the power interests of the capitalist class. India is a prison house of nations and lower castes. The Indian bourgeoisie defends expansionist interests in their conflicts with Pakistan or China (of course, the same is reciprocally also true for these two states). Praising the army of the Indian ruling class, defending their territorial interests against its rivals – all this is an arch-opportunist policy. It is reactionary patriotism under the disguise of “socialism”. Lenin and the Communist International had a specific category for such forces. They called them “social-patriots”.


The Indian workers and oppressed don’t need such opportunist servants of the ruling class. These Stalinist parties only confuse the masses and prevent the vanguard from taking the path of consistent struggle for socialism. It is urgent to build authentic revolutionary parties in India, the whole of South Asia as well as globally. The RCIT is committed to this goal and calls revolutionaries in India to join us in our efforts!




[1] See on this e.g. the RCIT statement: India-Pakistan: Defeat the War Mongers! Free Kashmir! 27 February 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/india-pakistan-defeat-the-war-mongers-free-kashmir/

[2] We have collected the RCIT’s statements and articles on Kashmir in a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/collection-of-articles-on-the-liberation-struggle-in-kashmir/. Our statement on the latest escalation by the Indian Modi government can be read here: India: Defend the Kashmiri People against Modi’s “Israel-Style” Attack! India’s ultra-chauvinist BJP government abolishes decades-old autonomy rights of Muslim-majority province, 6 August 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/india-defend-the-kashmiri-people-against-modi-s-attack/.

[3] On the RCIT’s analyses of the liberation struggle in Kashmir see e.g. the following essays by Michael Pröbsting: The Kashmir Question and the Indian Left Today. Marxism, Stalinism and centrism on the national liberation struggle of the Kashmiri people, 26 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/kashmir-question-and-indian-left-today/; Revolutionaries and the Slogan of “Azadi Kashmir”. Should Marxists advocate the independence of Kashmir? 13 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/revolutionaries-and-the-slogan-of-azadi-kashmir/; India: A Prison House of Nations and Lower Castes (On the Reasons for Modi’s Coup in Kashmir). Essay on the social and national contradictions of Indian capitalism and the rise of Hindutva chauvinism, 16 August 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/india-is-a-a-prison-house-of-nations-and-lower-castes/

[4] See on this the RCIT statement: India: Down with CAB! Solidarity with the uprising of the Assamese people! 14 December 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/india-down-with-cab/

[5] See in this e.g. Kristin Huang: China and India flex military muscle near disputed border, South China Morning Post, 26 June 2020 https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3090809/china-and-india-flex-military-muscle-near-disputed-border

[6] See on this e.g. Catherine Wong: Prepare for India border row to escalate, Chinese strategists warn Beijing, 27 June 2020, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3090855/prepare-india-border-row-escalate-chinese-strategists-warn; Indian jets fly over Galwan as China again blames India for clash, 24 June 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/indian-jets-fly-galwan-china-blames-india-clash-200624105950727.html

[7] See on this e.g. Nilesh Christopher: ‘Boycott China’ is trending in India, but turning rhetoric into reality may be easier said than done, South China Morning Post, 28 June 2020, https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3090662/boycott-china-trending-india-turning-rhetoric

[8] RCIT: China-India Border Conflict: Down with Chauvinist Warmongering on Both Sides! Support the national rights of the Kashmiri and the Nepalese people! 28 May 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-india-border-conflict-down-with-chauvinist-warmongering-on-both-sides/; for a more extensive analysis of the conflict between China and India see e.g. our pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: The China-India Conflict: Its Causes and Consequences. What are the background and the nature of the tensions between China and India in the Sikkim border region? What should be the tactical conclusions for Socialists and Activists of the Liberation Movements? 18 August 2017, Revolutionary Communism No. 71, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-india-rivalry/

[9] CP of India: Unite to Protect India’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity, 20 June 2020, http://www.solidnet.org/article/CP-of-India-Unite-to-Protect-Indias-Sovereignty-and-Territorial-Integrity/; other examples of such patriotic praising of the Indian army can be found in the CPI statements: CPI Salutes Martyred Indian Soldiers, Demands Resolution of Conflict Through Negotiations, 17 June 2020, http://www.solidnet.org/article/CP-of-India-CPI-Salutes-Martyred-Indian-Soldiers-Demands-Resolution-of-Conflict-Through-Negotiations/; CPI Expresses Shock and Concern over the Continuing Stand-off between India and China, 17 June 2020, http://www.solidnet.org/article/CP-of-India-CPI-Expresses-Shock-and-Concern-over-the-Continuing-Stand-off-between-India-and-China/

[10] Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist): De-escalate the situation on the LAC, 17 June 2020 http://www.solidnet.org/article/Marxistindia-De-escalate-the-situation-on-the-LAC/

[11] On China as an imperialist Great Power see the numerous booklets, statements, and articles on our special sub-page on the RCIT website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/. In particular we refer to our book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, January 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/.

[12] CPI(M): Clarifications Over PM’s Statement Compounds Confusion, 21 June 2020, https://cpim.org/pressbriefs/clarifications-over-pm%E2%80%99s-statement-compounds-confusion

[13] CPIML: Pulwama Attack Puts Modi In The Dock, http://cpiml.net/liberation/2019/02/pulwama-attack-puts-modi-in-the-dock; see on this also Michael Pröbsting: Kashmir: Social-Patriotism among the Indian Left. On the opportunistic adaptation of various “Stalinists”, “Trotskyists” and “Maoists” to the chauvinistic wave in the wake of the latest conflict between India and Pakistan, 02 March 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/kashmir-social-patriotism-among-indian-left/

[14] CPI(ML) Central Committee Deplores Modi's Misleading and Evasive Statement, Calls for Observing a Day of Mourning and Respect for Fallen Soldiers on 22 June, 20 June 2020, http://cpiml.net/Press-Statements/2020/06/cpiml-central-committee-deplores-modis-misleading-and-evasive-statement