The move comes as a signifier of the Communist Marxist Party's attempt to abandon a Stalinist idea of Communism, and to move towards a more democratic understanding of Communism.

Keralas Communist Marxist Party projects German socialist leader as party icon
news Politics Saturday, December 29, 2018 - 17:48

The Communist Marxist Party in Kerala has decided to honour the German socialist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, on the 100th anniversary of her death, and will use her image in the party’s campaign material. 

The move to honour her and feature her in the posters for the party’s 10th annual party congress, to be held between January 27th and 29th in Kochi, comes as a signifier of the party’s attempt to abandon a Stalinist idea of Communism, often seen as dictatorship, and to move towards a more democratic understanding of Communism. 

The Marxist-Leninist concept of a “dictatorship of the proletariat”, as interpreted and popularised by Stalin, envisioned the formation of a vanguard party to assume and exact power on behalf of the proletariat, and the establishment of a single-party state. Revolutionary democratic socialists like Rosa Luxemburg opposed the idea of a single ruling party, and wrote and spoke extensively about issues like the need for general elections, Parliament, and freedom of thought, speech, assembly and opinion under Communism. She authored works like the The Russian Tragedy and The Accumulation of Capital, and was also the co-founder of the Spartacus League, which ultimately became the Communist Party of Germany. She was murdered in 1919 due to events that unfolded due to the Spartacist revolution, and her body dumped into a river. 

CP John, the CMP’s current General Secretary, told TNM, “We can abandon Stalinism, but then who can we follow in its place? None other than Rosa Luxemburg, who is also a woman leader. In our political institution, Stalinism is the form and reputation of the Communist Party for the last 25 year. After breaking away from the CPI(M) in 1986 under MB Raghavan, in 1992-1993 the CMP passed a resolution stating that “the dictatorship of the proletariat will end in dictatorship.” So, for many years now, we have believed Luxemburg’s opinion, but we were not saying that she said it. We knew about her and had read about her, but until recently, we didn’t know that her beliefs aligned with ours so strongly.”

He continues, “We have much to learn from German socialism. India takes China and Russia as their ideological spearheads, but they were not democratic. German Socialist democracy is a better experience for us. We have to learn a lot from her.”

“Rosa Luxemburg had even expressed to Lenin himself in 1918 her difference of opinion with his school of thought, but he continued to revere her deeply.” John says. Indeed, upon her death in 1919, Lenin referred to her as an “eagle” of the working class, and said that her contributions to German socialist democratic thought would “make her name famous in the history of the international working-class movement”. 

John says that being one of the few Communist leaders who critiqued the Soviet system for its lack of democracy, the Communist Marxist party wants to “uphold Rosa Luxemburg as a person who is against Stalinist ideals in Communism”. 

The CMP was formed in 1986 after former CPI(M) leader and UDF minister MV Raghavan (father of journalist and politician MV Nikesh Kumar) was expelled from the CPI(M) due to an internal disagreement over an electoral alliance with the Muslim League. 

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