Is Communism Dead? – The Maoist Insurgency in India (Part 1)



The Maoist Insurgency in India effectively spans over 15 of India’s 28 states today. It formed a so-called Red Corridor in which Maoist activities are creating major problems for local authorities and the economy. In some districts, the movement has even taken over. Till today I thought Communism was proven wrong; like in Soviet Russia, in North Korea and especially China today. How, if Communism was dead, could a new Maoist movement gain such an overwhelming support? Starting from scratch, I compared and researched the variables of this equation: Marxism, Maoism and the situation in India. My initial thought was that the Maoist insurgency was a truly communist movement and therefore it could not be. Yet, what I learned was, that I might just view it the other way around. This is the first part of my article, a second will follow in afew days.

What is Communism? Communism is an economic ideology evolved as counter movement to capitalism. Ideally, all national assets are owned by the common society. The communist principle originally derives from the German scholar Karl Marx – Marxism therefore is its original form. The later forms, such as Leninism emphasize a one-party system that evolved from the people and must be totalitarian. The communist society by itself is classless. This is achieved through distinct class struggle that can take various kinds of forms, such as parliamentary democratic efforts, peaceful protests or armed struggle. 2

How does Maoism Connect? When the ideas of Marx reached China, they were not fully compatible to the Chinese culture. The Chinese political leader, Mao Zedong, adapted them into the Chinese Communist Model of Maoism. He emphasized the importance of a farming, agrarian population rather than the urban working class. Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” even more was an attempt to prevent mass industrialization by distributing industry production tasks to the rural population 3 – which eventually resulted in one of the greatest famines in human history. Whereas in Marxism, class struggle is not necessarily violent, in the early stages of Maoism the armed struggle is seen as most effective and essential. Industrial capitalist powers were fought through distinct armed struggle and rather unconventionally. For that, the tactic Mao used was called “Protracted  People’s War” which entails three stages; Strategic Defense, State Equilibrium and Strategic Offense. In the stage of Strategic Defense, guerilla forces are attacking the enemy with tactical engagements.

The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue. (Mao Zedong)

The Maoist forces then form the “basis for a new society” in stage of State Equilibrium. These newly formed regions are utilized in their strengths and the intransparent nature of the area is leveraged. In the last stage of Strategic Offense are Maoist forces equal to enemy forces and defeat them inevitably. It implies that Maoist forces also control regions and are able to administrate them. 4

Background of Maoist Rebels The Maoists in India are often also called “Naxalities”. This term originates from their first place of the Maoists appearance in the small village Naxalbari in the State of West Bengal in 1967. The village people there formed communist cadres that successfully stood up and seized control from a local landlord. 5 The movement slumbered for decades suffering from Indian oppressive policy. Yet, when India turned to neoliberal capitalism in 1991, poverty and inequality in the country increased 6 . The movement inevitably gained more support. On September 2004 the two major Maoist fractions, the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), and the People’s War Group formed a single entity that they called the Communist Party of India (CPI). This must not be confused with the CPI that is based of Marxist ideology. The CPI (Maoists) is what analysts today refer to as the “the Naxalites”. 7 The unified group spread like a wildfire and started influence over 40% of India’s land area. Today they are featuring an approximate number of 10.000-20.000 men under arms and about 40.000 to 50.000 supporters.

File:India Naxal affected districts map.svg


The question of network-organization lead to initial reason for quarrel. However, sources report they are now centralized  9 and can rely on a fundamental organizational structure that is clearly divided into political and military divisions.


What principles are they fighting for? Maoists claim that the Indian electoral system is not democratic. In fact, the government had greatly neglected the rights of the aboriginal tribes in the forests, the lower castes and the peasants in the past. The Maoists therefore aim to overthrow the government and create a socialist-communist government. 10. They support the tribal struggle for identity and claim that the Indian government opposes this through their “unity and integrity” policy.

Their political declarations provide a solid ideological foundation. They are also quite equal to the Maoist view and its strategy steps. This seems to be their major advantage and the most legitimate reason why they should be feared. The CPI’s “Political Resolution” states that the “world is under great disorder, turbulence and instability” and that the “imperialist offensive” would be clearly visible in India. Their “Constitution” entails the whole dimension of the movement stays underground as long as the “New Democratic Revolution” is not achieved. They claim to be self-critical in order to prevent non-proletarian tendencies from infiltrating the party. The CPI declaration of “Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution” dictates to empower and organize the people to start an agrarian revolution through guerilla warfare. Subsequently, they plan to build a rural red basis for their activities. 11

The Naxalite’s affection for the rights of neglected Indian tribesman is in fact one thing that has hauled up Naxalite popularity greatly. The government had mistreated tribes and minorities for decades, and denied them their constitutional rights. Some of the tribesman, also called Adivasis, have never received compensation for governmental land seizures that took place decades ago. 12

They also endure a dramatic inferior position in Indian society today, although the constitution of 1950 grants them special protective provisions 13 Adivasi illiteracy rates are as low as 11% and they have practically no option to access their legal rights. 14 Their utter support is one reason for the long existence and the success of the Maoist insurgency. Adivasi tribes and lower caste groups are immensely attracted by the Maoist ideology because it neglects class discrimination. 15 They also live in areas with very poor infrastructure, thus barely accessible and perfect for guerilla warfare and Maoist tactics.

On the contrary seem the Maoist themselves very interested in the status quo. Sources report that they are blackmailing businessmen and landowners. They are under the cloud of blocking development. 16 A growing economy and increased education in the region would probably hurt their support. Government sources report that they demonstrably destroyed or indoctrinated schools and sabotaged infrastructure such as telephone towers. 17

The first part of my Article covered Communist ideology and the fundamental background of the Maoist insurgency. The second part will take a deeper insight to the the existing issues of their applied ideology and the measures that were or can be taken to address the insurgency effectively…



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