Is there a difference between bureaucratic and comprador bourgeoisies? How the Communist Party of India (Maoist)proposes an erroneous definition

[Published in Communism #14, July 2021.]

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has made public a series of documents on different questions. These documents have the Central Committee as redaction and were published in January 2021, sometimes after a correction from a previous document. We speak here of the documents called:

(1) Changes in Relations of Production in India — Our Political Program (272 pages)

(2) Caste Question in India—Our Perspective (97 pages, first edition in May 2017)

(3) Nationality Question in India — The Stand of Our Party (97 pages, first edition in May 2019)

(4) China – a new Social-Imperialist power! It is integral to the World Capitalist-Imperialist system! (84 pages, first edition in July 2017)

What is of special interest is the question of the definition of capitalism, imperialism and crisis. We find here indeed a real problem, as the CPI(M) is developing a non-dialectical analysis of it. Because of the special importance of India in the world revolution, it is necessary to see what this weakness historically means.

In fact, the reason behind the problem is that India is a major spot of the contradiction between town and country. The development of the urban areas is particularly distorted there, in an area where the animal question was raised a long time ago already.

And it is an area where lives an significant part of the world masses, it is a country totally split through religious comunalism and castes.

The CPI(M) just doesn’t confront itself to all of these questions. It takes a road opposed to the question of universality as historical necessity, as communism affirming the unity of the masses, of the world, of the Biosphere, of the universe, all of this being the key of the Indian Revolution.

The conception of the CPI(M)

The conception of the CPI(M) is the following. Capitalism would be in crisis since the 1970’s, but as it is solely “imperialist” and furthermore “organized”, it would have answered through neo-liberal policies at all levels in the 1980’s.

The direct consequence would have been poverty all over the world and also the final domination of financial capitalism through “globalization”.

This conception is not new; it is the one of the Indian Maoists since the 1990’s, in a common point of view of all the different organizations (the Maoist Communist Center, the Maoist Communist Center of India, the CPI(ML) People’s War, etc.). At the beginning of the 1990’s, such an understanding of capitalism was for example deeply explained by the CPI(ML) People’s War at conferences in Brussels organized by the Workers Party of Belgium, a post-Maoist revisionist structure.

This should be no surprise: the Indian Maoists have a trend to use the revisionist concepts of neo-liberalism, depending countries, globalization. This is the key to the problem of the Indian Maoists.

The documents of 2021 are an attempt to justify this approach and, in fact, it is also the first time they openly preach such an “alterglobalization” vision of the world, as usually, it is quite masked, even if readable for who takes attention.

One of the main point here is that the wrong conception of the CPI(M) leads to miserabilism: capitalism would be paralyzed since the 1990’s, the world masses would have been always poorer since the 1990’s, and so on.

This is a fairy tale, which totally misses the incredible development of the productive forces by capitalism in the 1989-2020 period, the impact on the Biosphere, the aggravation of the contradiction between town and country.

And, therefore, it comes to a non-understanding of the second general crisis of capitalism appearing in 2020 through the pandemic.

This justifies the criticism of the conception of the CPI(M), one of the most important revolutionary organization of the world, which is prisoner of its own Indian experience and missing the general transformation.

1. The definition of imperialism

a) what the CPI(M) says

The CPI(M) defines imperialism as follows :

“As the great Marxist teacher Lenin said, emergence of monopoly organisations and export of capital are the characters of imperialism.” “A century passed since the world capitalist system transformed into imperialism.”

“With the beginning of the imperialist era the phase of ‘peaceful’ development of capitalism ended. The series of imperialist wars began for colonies and for re-division of the world.”

“According to the report published by the Swiss Federal Institution of Technology of Zurich a few monopoly organisations are controlling the economy of the whole world. Six super rich persons of the world own property equal to half of the population, i.e., to that of 360 crore people.”

“In the overall imperialist era, especially in the neo-colonial period and especially during the period of globalisation, several considerable changes took place at a fast pace in various sectors in the international and domestic level. These changes led to transformations and polarizations in class relations all over the world in varied levels.

Since the global economic/financial order is more centralized in the hands of a few imperialist institutions/countries and wealth and political power is centralized in the hands of their big compradors, the number of oppressed nationalities, classes and sections rose very high.”

b) an unilateral understanding of imperialism

The CPI(M) has an unilateral understanding of imperialism, which is reduced to financial capital, which would be centralized and organized.

Moreover, imperialism would be a new system of production : there would be a capitalist industrial production which would produce capital, this capital would come to an overproduction and imperialism consists in the overproduction of capital.

This is wrong. Imperialism is not a base, it is a superstructure of capitalism. Even when capitalism comes to imperialism, its base is merely capitalist, with concurrency and competition among capitalists, in the shadow of the big monopolies.

The bank apparatus doesn’t make disappear the basis, but emerges as a parasitic form it. So, the capitalist basis is not modified in itself an if there is an overproduction of capital, it can’t be separated from the overproduction of commodities.

Lenin, when defining imperialism in “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, is very clear about both double aspects : base/superstructure on one side, industrial/financial on the other (here the important parts are underlined).

“We must give a definition of imperialism that will include the following five of its basic features: (1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life;

(2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy;

(3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance;

(4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and

(5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed.

Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”

The dominance of monopolies and finance capital doesn’t mean there are only monopolies and finance capital. This is the error of the CPI(M), which leads to another one: the conception of a “pure” organized capitalism i.e. imperialism.

2. The conception of organized imperialism

a) what the CPI(M) says

The CPI(M) defines a kind of organized imperialism as follows :

“Imperialists and revisionists create tales and put the people in illusion about the changing conditions in order to protect the imperialist system and to deceive the people of the world.”

“When the public sector of China was being restructured, the crisis in East Asia in the end of 1990s was destroying Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. With their class interests the imperialist forces of the US, Europe and Japan experimentally introduced capitalism in early 1990s to put up a wall against ‘Communism’ in the countries came to be known as East Asian Tigers.”

“Neo-colonialism gave new opportunities for every imperialist force to exploit. Moreover, it made possible collective colonialism to ‘collectively exploit’ the backward countries that is expressed through WB, IMF, WTO and other such imperialist organisations. This is a distinct character of neo-colonialism.”

“1991 – Second stage of Globalisation begins While the Keynesian theory was formulated to solve the imperialist crisis of the 1930s the Monetarist theory came forth to solve the crisis that broke in 1970.

The Monetarists suggested decrease in expenditure and cut in subsidies but not to print currency in order to reduce budget deficit. They sermonized the ‘invisible hand’ principle of Adam Smith that states that market forces itself regularize economy.

This was what Thatcher in Britain and Reagan in the US brought forth. The policies of ‘free market’ and ‘free trade’ said to be introduced by them in fact reflect the monopoly of trade and the control of monopolies over the market.

The jargon of free trade and free market is merely a mask of the monopoly of International Monetary organisations and Multi-National Companies.

To say that they apply the Adam Smith principle of the capitalist stage of free competition is only to delude the people all over the world.” “Firstly imperialists re-structuralized capitalism in their countries through implementing Reaganomics and Thatcherism.

They created an unprecedented surge of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) to establish giant Conglomerates.

They turned finance capital into a decisive force and a major specter dictating the economies of the countries all over the world. They brought all the forms of social production in the world into their control and made all the countries of the world surrender to the policies of imperialist globalization.

They thus intensified the onslaught on the working class of their own countries and increased the rate of surplus value (profits) being extracted from them.

Secondly, with a new offensive on the backward countries they could further expand their markets and seize cheap raw materials of those countries. They intensified exploitation of the toilers manifold. Both of these are closely related and mutually dependent.

The objective of globalization strategy is to re-structuralize the economies of the entire countries of the world as per the exploitive interests of the international monopoly finance enterprises and Multi-National enterprises, lift all the sanctions and all the tariff obstacles for imports-exports and for shifting profits to their native country, in a way to create a ‘borderless’ world where goods, technology, capital and labor can ‘move around freely’, to facilitate the exploitation of any country as per its wish according to their international monopoly.”

b) an erroneous conception of an “organized” capitalism

It is simply amazing that the CPI(M) really says that the Keynesian and Monetarist theories are the expression of a capitalism that understands its own crisis and try to overcome it, or that imperialism “experimentally introduced capitalism” in South Asia.

This is absolutely not conform to the communist ideology; this corresponds to the social-democratic (in the 1920’s) and revisionist (in the 1960’s) understanding of an “organized capitalism”, of a state monopoly capitalism.

The conception of the CPI(M) is clearly is that “international monopoly finance enterprises and Multi-National enterprises” leads the world, choosing the developments in an objective manner in accordance to their interests.

And the immediate consequence of this is the negation of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie. There would be a total domination of the financial capital over the world, with governments as mere puppets.

There would be no bureaucratic capitalism in India, which would be a kind of neo-colony.

3. The comprador and the bureaucratic bourgeoisies

a) what the CPI(M) says

“With the transfer of power in 1947 (nominal independence) colonial, semi-feudal India turned to semi-colonial, semi-feudal country.

The comprador big bourgeois class of our country that served the British imperialists from the beginning became comprador ‘bureaucratic’ big bourgeois class with the transfer of power.

The comprador bureaucratic big bourgeois class and the big feudal class together became the main hurdle of the development of various nationalities. In semi-colonial India the comprador bureaucratic big bourgeois class is playing the main role on one hand in serving the interests of several imperialist countries and on the other in preserving the caste based feudal society of the country.”

“To put it briefly, the planned onslaught of international finance capital all over the world through globalization reached a severe level in the backward countries in the past three decades.

Since the Indian comprador bureaucratic bourgeois, feudal classes are dependent on imperialist finance capital and its interests entwined with their interests, the collaboration reached unprecedented level.”

“Today, the comprador bureaucratic bourgeois class is working as an instrument to slave imperialism in our country. It makes use of the broad semi-feudal social basis to keep the people in bondage and unleashes its hegemony. They are traitors, disrupters and cruel enemies of the people.

They are deceivers, liars and corrupt. They massacre the people, they are rapists and are absolutely useless. But they have the power and the instruments of production. They are ruling the country.”

“The TATAs is the biggest industrial comprador big bourgeois enterprise. Their turnover had the 2 nd place by 2001 with 37,197 crore rupees. At the time, the TATAs had 84 companies out of which 34 companies were joint ventures with TNCs.

They own the most ancient and biggest private sector power company in the country. They own mining, oil fields, steel factories, car and truck manufacturing companies, telephone, cable TV and broadband networks.

They own Taj hotels, Jaguar, Land Rover, Dewan, Tetley tea, a publication house, a chain of book shops, the biggest brand of iodised salt, the Lakme empire of cosmetics and the TATA-Honeywell factory of Poona.”

b) the non-understanding of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie

When we read this, it is logical that the CPI(M) considers the islamist movements as “anti-imperialist” and can’t understand the nature of people like Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey or even Narendra Modi in India.

Normally, Maoism considers that there is four forms of bourgeoisie in the non-imperialist countries: the petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie (both oppressed), the comprador bourgeoisie which exists only as intermediate with imperialist structures, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie which develops itself in the distorted capitalism existing in the oppressed country.

The CPI(M) negates the existence of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie. There would be only a comprador (bureaucratic) bourgeoisie totally submitted to imperialism. But then, how can the CPI(M) explains that a simple lackey like TATA is able to possess Jaguar and Tetley, two main symbols of British imperialism ?

The only explanation for TATA and all the big Indian capitalists is that they are bureaucratic capitalists. They have been comprador and they turn over a rather independent bureaucratic capitalism, with Indian features.

So, the CPI(M) tells here something incorrect.

And it practices a headlong flight in saying that its is globalization itself which is solely responsible for all the evolution in India.

4. a change by above only?

a) what the CPI(M) says

“It means, in the specificities of India we have to study the feudal society, the later colonial (colonial, semi-feudal) and neo-colonial (semi-colonial, semi-feudal) societies, the attack of imperialist globalization (finance capital), the changes that it caused in the entire country and in the respective areas and the role of class struggle that contributed to the change in relations of production in the respective areas.”

“On the whole imperialism is unleashing control on social, economic, political, cultural and all the sectors on the semi-feudal base in the country historically and in the present phase of globalization. The main intention of imperialism is to develop the country industrially but not to change it into another capitalist contender.

It wants to sustain it as the supplier of raw material and as a market for imperialist products. The comprador rulers brought forth several laws, rules, regulations, directives and other policy measures to bring changes in rural India favorable to the imperialist MNCs, comprador bureaucratic bourgeois and feudal classes.”

“During the globalization period, the old and the new feudal forces of the dominant castes in the rural areas were the social prop in every step that the state took up in the interests of imperialism and comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie.

Along with the foreign corporate companies and domestic comprador companies, the new feudal forces, parliamentary party leaders and several kinds of mafias benefited through the agrarian, rural exploitive policies.

The collaboration of global finance capital enterprises, the several networks of government and non-government networks, parliamentary political parties and several kinds of mafias increased much more and semi-feudal relations led by the old and new feudal forces continued in new forms.”

“National bourgeois class This class invests in wholesale business, transport of goods, public transport, education, health sector, hotels, tendu leaf business and other such business and service sectors along with small and medium scale industries.

This is oppressed by imperialism and comprador bureaucratic capitalist policies and is tied by feudalism. Due to this reason, its market is constantly suffering from their offensive. Growth of their industries is limited. Lakhs of industries are becoming bankrupt.”

b) a wrong understanding of changing by above and not internal

The CPI(M) is very clear. As the country would be totally dependent (and the national bourgeoisie and local capitalism would die each day more), as the ruling class would be a comprador bourgeoisie totally dependent from imperialism, when the semi-feudal aspect of the country knows a change, it is by above only.

This is clearly unacceptable, as the CPI(M) presents the nationalist movement in India as a foreign abstraction, in negation the bureaucratic bourgeoisie.

5. The nature of the BJP

a) what the CPI(M) says

“The hunt of global finance capital for super profits is destroying the lives of the entire proletariat, peasant, middle class and national bourgeoisie and other oppressed classes, sections and nationalities and is making a cruel attack on them.

For this purpose it is bringing fascist parties to power in the backward countries. In this background the Narendra Modi government under the leadership of the fascist BJP with Brahmanic Hindutwa ideology took up power in the centre in our country and is unleashing severe fascist offensive on the people for the past six years.”

“Brahmanic Hindutwa communalism spread in a big way in the country in the past seven decades. Starting from the massacre of lakhs of Muslim people during partition in 1947, it unleashed several massacres, atrocities, putting in flames, destruction of properties and loot (…).

The Hindutwa forces went much ahead with the objective to transform the country into a Hindutwa state. We have to remember that all this is dictated by the global finance capital.

The aim of finance capital is to facilitate the way to its exploitation by strengthening fascism in the country and by establishing fascist ideology and its hegemony in all the sectors of the country.

10. The hierarchical caste system based on the Brahmanic Hindutwa ideology is integral to the semi-feudal relations in India.”

b) the question of the BJP

The CPI(M) tells us here something inconsistent. Why would imperialism promotes Hinduism and Indian expansionsim through the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian’s people party)?

Why would or should imperialism need an Indian intercontinental missile with atomic weapon called Agni, from the Hinduistic god of fire ?

The Hindutva anticapitalist romanticism is absolutely no conform to the values of imperialist consumerism. The policy of nationalist unification of the country by the BJP is not conform to the line of divide and conquer of imperialism.

In fact, it is easy to understand that it represents the Indian bureaucratic bourgeoisie, trying to play its own card, in a relative manner only of course. It is the same all over the world, semi-feudal semi-colonial countries becoming expansionist, like Turkey.

In negating the bureaucratic bourgeoisie character of the BJP, the CPI(M) negates (in a theoretical manner) the expansionist character of India, and this is an error on the ideological level and of course collides with the internationalist practice of the CPI(M) itself.

The problem is that the CPI(M), with its conception of a systemic imperialism, doesn’t see the amazing growth of the productive forces since the 1990’s.

6. The crisis since 1973?

a) what the CPI(M) says

“In fact globalisation is the offensive of finance capital on the backward countries of the world. It is entwined with the restructuring of capital in monopolies. Since capital fell into permanent crisis since 1973, this is part of its strategy to overcome the crisis. At present it fell into further crisis since 2008.”

“Since the beginning of the 1970s, imperialism fell in general crisis all over the world, in 1980s more intense globalization policies were taken up and it put the burden of its crisis on semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries like India.”

“The economies of those countries very speedily spread for nearly two decades and led to partial stability of capitalism. But it could not sustain permanently. With the crisis falling into prolonged depression from 1973, the illusion of constant spread of world economy was shattered.”

“Worldwide financial crisis since 1973 led to a decline in the demand for capital goods in the imperialist countries. As a part of internationalization of production imperialism adopted Globalisation policies since the 1980s and 1990s. This is part of the neo-colonial policy of imperialism since post-World War II.

However, there is a difference in the policies that imperialism adopted as a part of neo-colonialism in 1946-80 and the globalisation policies since the 1980s, especially since the beginning of 1990s when Russia declined as a superpower. The imperialists that adopted Keynesian economic policies until then introduced free trade market policies since the beginning of the 1990s.”

b) the question of the productive forces

The CPI(M), in its documents, give a lot of data about poverty. The problem is that this is made with the same statistic approach like Eugen Varga at the beginning of the Third International. The dialectics of economy is not understood.

Saying that capitalism is in crisis since 1973 is simply amazing. From the 1989 to 2020, capitalist growth was huge, using China as the factory of the world.

The quality of life of the people in the imperialist countries never stopped to improve, be it in the fields of medicine, education, sport, leisure, food, etc.

Of course, these fields were defined by imperialism. But if we take the quantitative level, life became much easier in the imperialist countries. This also explains why there was no revolt, why the revolutionary sector nearly died, etc.

But this is not only true for the imperialist country. Also the countries oppressed by imperialism knew an elevation of the quality of life during the same period.

Not all, of course, and India in particular is a weak point, making it one of the center of the World Revolution.

Nevertheless, a look at Mumbai, Kolkata or Delhi shows how India changed, with an urbanization corresponding to the development of the productive forces. And the BJP is the expression of such a trend, with a bureaucratic bourgeoisie.

And the CPI(M) knows it, in fact – because it understood the changes that knew China. How could have China become social-imperialist if not by a bureaucratic bourgeoisie?

7. Social-imperialist China

a) what the CPI(M) says

“China – a new Social-Imperialist power! It is integral to the World Capitalist-Imperialist system!”

“Unlike the opinion of a few Maoists, China is neither dependent on the imperialist countries nor is it a country exploited by those imperialist countries. On the contrary, it undoubtedly became a new Social-Imperialist country by 2014. It emerged as an imperialist power only because it is super-exploiting the working class of the country. It is beyond doubt that the speedy industrialization led to this change.

The emergence of China as a global factory is strengthening the economic restructuring of the world and is changing the dynamics of the supply demand chain of the world economic system.”

“To summarise, Chinese monopoly organisations are the most powerful in the world. ‘Monopoly is the strong economic basis for imperialism,’ said Lenin. This is an index to say that China has developed into a Social-Imperialist country.”

b) China and the bureaucratic bourgeoisie

If there was in China only a comprador bourgeoisie, then this country would still be dependent. The CPI(M) understands well that it is not dependent, that it is even social-imperialist, noting that the monopolies are very well organized, at a high level.

But from where can it come, if not from the bureaucratic bourgeoisie? The bureaucratic bourgeoisie grows normally in the shadow of the comprador bourgeoisie, from which it is also a part of it, dialectically. But as capitalism, in a distorted manner, develops itself, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie grows and absorb the state.

The Peruvian communists describe as follows this process.

“Following Chairman Mao’s thesis, he [i.e. Gonzalo] specifies five characteristics:

– that bureaucratic capitalism is the capitalism that imperialism develops in the backward countries, which is comprised of the capital of large landowners, the big bankers, and the magnates of the big bourgeoisie;

– it exploits the proletariat, the peasantry, and the petty bourgeoisie and places constraints upon the middle bourgeoisie;

– it is passing through a process by which bureaucratic capitalism is combined with the power of the State and evolves into state monopoly capitalism, comprador and feudal, from which can be derived that in a first moment it unfolds as a non-state big monopoly capitalism and in a second moment, when is combined with the power of the state, it unfolds as state monopoly capitalism;

– it ripens the conditions for the democratic revolution as it reaches the apex of its development;

– and, confiscating bureaucratic capital is key to reach the pinnacle of the democratic revolution and it is decisive to pass over to the socialist revolution.

In applying the above, he conceives that bureaucratic capitalism is the capitalism that imperialism generates in the backward countries, which is linked to a decrepit feudalism and in submission to imperialism which is the last phase of capitalism.

This system does not serve the majority of the people but rather the imperialists, the big bourgeoisie, and the landowners.

All of this merely proves the political aspect of bureaucratic capitalism that is rarely emphasized, but which President Gonzalo considers as a key issue: bureaucratic capitalism ripens the conditions for revolution, and today as it enters into its final phase, it ripens the conditions for the development and victory of the revolution.

It is also very important to see how bureaucratic capitalism is shaped by non-state monopoly capitalism and by state monopoly capitalism, that is the reason why he differentiates between the two factions of the big bourgeoisie, the bureaucratic one and the comprador, so as to avoid tailing one or the other, a problem that led our Party to 30 years of wrong tactics. It is important to conceive it this way, since the confiscation of bureaucratic capitalism by the New Power will facilitate the completion of the democratic revolution and to advance into the socialist revolution.

If only the state monopoly capitalism is targeted, the other part would remain free, the non-state monopoly capital, and the big comprador bourgeoisie would remain economically able to lift its head to snatch away the leadership of the revolution and to prevent its passage to the socialist revolution.” (Communist Party of Peru, The Democratic Revolution)

7. The national liberation

a) what the CPI(M) says

“A self-reliable economy must be developed. But imperialism, comprador bureaucratic bourgeois and feudal classes are obstructing this path. Four ally classes – workers, peasants, middle class and national bourgeois classes, oppressed social sections – Dalits, tribals, women and religious minorities must integrate in the leadership of the proletariat and eliminate them and New Democratic Revolution must be accomplished with the ultimate objective of establishing Socialism-Communism.

Only thus it is possible to establish New Democratic and self-reliant economy. Only thus genuine development is possible.”

b)a movement of national liberation

It is very clear that the CPI(M) has a line corresponding to a movement of national liberation. This is positive. But this is not conform to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The CPI(M) is not interested in the internal questions of India, it considers that the confrontation with imperialism is the sole key.

From there comes the fascination for the Tribals at the margins of development and a disdain for all the Indian cultural questions, like the nature of Islam in India or the relationship to animals. What is fascinating the world about India is out of sight for the CPI(M).

From there comes also the non-understanding of the crisis appearing in 2020. Not seeing the development of the period 1989-2020, the CPI(M) imagines that capitalism, now imperialism as a world system, would be in crisis since 1973…

This is a huge error and it shows that the CPI(M) must choose: or being the armed branch of “another development” against globalization, or assume Indian history.

The crisis will require a quick and decisive choice.