1980s >> 1985 >> no-966-february-1985

50 Years Ago: Indian “Labour” Party

With the growing industrialisation of India, trade unions have taken root, and with them the beginnings of political organisations having professedly working-class objects. Unfortunately, instead of learning from the mistakes of workers in European countries, the Indian workers are blindly following in the same path. Labour parties and parties calling themselves socialist are being formed, committed from the outset to all the tragic futilities of the European “Labour” parties. One such party is the “All-India Congress Socialist Party”, formed last May. (An earlier attempt was criticised in these columns in July. 1932.) The Indian “Congress”, from which the new party takes its name, is the central Indian nationalist organisation, which, under Gandhi’s leadership, has fought the battles of the Indian capitalist class behind the camouflage of “independence from British rule”. The new party is a constituent part of Congress, accepts its aims and objects, subscribes to its nationalistic (and there fore anti-socialist, anti-working class) doctrines. and fights elections under its banner and on its programme.

True, the new party professes to be socialist, although it has so far not attempted to embody its aims and methods in a Declaration of Principles. True, it admits that Congress, “as it is constituted, will not accept socialism today” (see Congress Socialist, Calcutta. September 29th. 1934). But having said this, the party organ goes on to enunciate the self-same delusion which enabled almost every European “Labour” party to exploit the name socialism while betraying everything that socialism stands for. Thus we are told that the Congress Socialist Party is going to “convert the Congress to the socialist viewpoint” — they might as well try to convert the British ruling class.

(From an article “The Coming Struggle in India”. Socialist Standard, February 1935.)