Soumitra Ghosh


Indian activist Arundhati Roy, the spokesperson for a section of left intellectuals, recently wrote an article in the Indian magazine Outlook narrating her exciting experience of meeting Maoists in their heartland.  This article and the next article in this issue of the Bulletin examine the source of her delirium.


Does the Outlook article tell anything new? The Maoists have built a dream world in Dandakaranya, and the gun has heralded that dream. The Green Hunt is meant to shatter this dream.  Apart from good anecdotes, there’s no

political analysis of the movement, and the problematique of the Maoist movement was cursorily mentioned.


It seems rationality is banished. You oppose green hunt means that you see in the Maoists an unending series of dreamers and visionaries, and the making of a new world order. She doesn’t even bother to be historic, the

history is what her contacts tell her.


What is utterly unacceptable is this woolly-headed, mushy and journalistic portrayal of a political movement. The Maoist movement was never,  and won’t be a ‘adivasi’ movement, in the sense we use the term to describe a range of social movements.


If the Maoists have to be defended, it has to be a defense of their politics. If they have to be opposed, it should be done from a political perspective as well. But one doesn’t expect that from Arundhati. She is a believer and a



But are there any easy beliefs any more?


The most serious problem with the attitude expressed in the article is the glorification of ‘revolutionary violence’, and the portrayal of it as the true emancipation of adivasis. No mention of other adivasi or people’s movements in the country. They don’t matter. The only action is coming from the barrel of a gun.


The Maoist movement is not a typical resistance group. It is driven by an ideology that has its own historicity and its own series of histories.  Judging by that the piece reads like a class-one propaganda, similar to those

we used to receive from the occasional visitors to the ‘closed’ post-revolutionary societies throughout the last century. Many of those were extremely good reading…and human. When it all came down, we saw the human

shrouded a lot of ‘inhuman’, and the ugly devils of hegemony, domination and power lurked behind the pleasant facade, and not all of that was bourgeois counter-revolutionary propaganda.


The communist movement failed worldwide mainly because the party replaced the people. Like others preceding him, Mao in his last days understood that clearly, and hence the concept of cultural revolution. Ironically, the

bombardment of party headquarters was overseen by the same hierarchical party, backed by the PLA. The result was known.


Throughout the world, one after another vanguard party-led revolutions failed. The Maoist guerrilla wars were no exception. On the other hand, even erstwhile regimented left groups like the Zapatistas reinvented themselves, and a whole string of non-party movements are coming up everywhere in LA and sometimes in Asia, too. The history keeps on teaching us lessons. Do we learn, with an open mind? Do we change the way we think and act? Or, we remain confined to the old ideas and ossified beliefs, and refuse to change?


Arundhati talks of party wooing the people. Yes, the Party does that as long as it suits it. But always, and remember always, the Party is above the people: as vanguards, as leaders. Always, the Party knows best. It happened before and it’ll happen now. The illusion and ritual of believing (be it in the party, the God, the market) are strong ,fundamental institution which refuse to die.


Party-led revolutions do not like questions. They prefer obeisance. Which Arundhati’s article is full of, and that’s why pieces like these seem inane.


(Soumitra Ghosh; NESPON/National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers(NFFPFW)



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