100 Years of Russian Revolution – III: Communism and Treason
When some JNU students raised violent and seditious anti-Indian slogans in the university campus on February 9, 2016, it came as a shock to many across the country. Some of the slogans were openly calling for India’s destruction, celebrating the absolute annihilation of India, like: “Bharat tere tukde honge, inshallah, inshallah”. The Islamist tone was unmistakable and unapologetic. The collusion with Pakistan and its fifth column was obvious. The identification with Islamic terrorism, India’s greatest enemy in 21st century, was overt.
But there was nothing new about what happened that day in the JNU. Ever since the university was conceived as a socialist cockpit under Nehru, and ever since it was sold out to the communists under Indira Gandhi, it had been a den of every kind of enemy of the country. Such slogans have always been raised on the semi-autonomous soil of the JNU.
The only difference was that in the past a sympathetic Congress government at the centre and the leftist Indian media had been more than happy to keep these treasonous activities under cover. What was new in February 2016 was that a Modi-led BJP government was ruling at the centre. A section of the national media recognized the activities of the students for what it was: treason, and showed it to the entire country.
The common man does not share the ‘sophistication’ of the English educated ‘elite’ of India to consider treason normal or to consider it a part of freedom of expression. The nation boiled over. But the left-liberal media kept up its din in support of the ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’ gang. Many across the country were shocked, looking at the limits the communists can cross in pursuit of their ideological goals.
However, looking at the history of communism and the evolution of left-liberal thought there was nothing shocking about it. Treason is in the blood of communism. It has been used as a political strategy ever since Marxism became established as an ideology and socialism as a political system.
The thought that treason is not a grievous crime was a logical development of socialist moral relativism; from Marxist axiom that there is no such thing as morality; that it is just a bourgeoisie concept, which was created in order to keep the proletariat forever subdued. Morality was not something about which the communists and the revolutionaries were worried about.
Lenin was a German Spy
Learning from Marx, his master, Lenin used treason as a political strategy. He considered treason a very powerful revolutionary tool which no communist should fail to use when the need arises. This can be seen in both his works and actions. In the words of Robert Service:
“From Marx, he (Lenin) had already taken a philosophy of history which stressed that the conventional ideas in society were always framed by the ruling classes in their won interest. Morality was consequently a derivative of class struggle. Every political, social and cultural value had only a ‘relative’ significance. There was no such thing as ‘absolute good’; the only guide to action was the criterion: does it facilitate the more rapid and efficient progress through the necessary stages towards the creation of a communist society?” 
The concept of nation and nationalism are also anathema to Marxism. Marx believed that class was the real category. And classes had supra-national identity and affiliations with no national boundaries. Marx and Engels gave the world famous slogan, “Workers of the world, unite”. They were calling upon the workers to disregard national boundaries and align with their class, against their nation. With disbelief in the very idea of nation, treason was just one step away.
Armed with such disregard for fundamental human concerns, Lenin proceeded to create his brand of Marxism-Leninism which held any kind of morality in utter contempt. Unlike Marx, Lenin believed that in order to bring about a socialist revolution, the Communist Party, and the ‘professional revolutionaries’ are necessary . He believed that the class consciousness of the workers and the peasants was so weak that unless ‘professional revolutionaries’ like Bolsheviks helped them, the revolution would never take place.
The greatest enemy of any such professional revolutionary was of course the ruling class. Lenin, like many other Marxists of his time, was always looking for a time of anarchy to overthrow the Tsar. And he considered it the job of the ‘professional revolutionaries’ to create anarchy wherever it was absent. When the 1905 revolution after the Russo-Japanese war happened, Lenin was zealously exhorting his fellow revolutionaries to support Japan, the national enemy.
“…for Lenin, any foreign power attacking Russia deserved the support of Russian Marxists (and he habitually portrayed such a power as being less reactionary than the tsarist state). Anything to pull down the Romanovs!” 
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Lenin was living in Galicia, Poland. On account of his Russian nationality he was suspected of being a Russian spy by the local Polish authorities and their Austrian officer friends. When an Austrian officer asked about Lenin’s relations with the Russian government, a fellow Marxist replied: “He is a more sworn enemy of the tsarist government than your Excellency!” 
Lenin believed that in the Great War, the victory of the enemy was more preferable to the victory of his own country. He argued: “From the viewpoint of the working class and the toiling masses of all the peoples of Russia, the lesser evil would be the defeat of the tsarist monarchy.” 
Treason could not be clearer. From here it was just a short leap to being in the payroll of Germany, the national enemy of Russia. When the Russian archives became public after the fall of the Soviet Union, it became clear that Lenin was officially a traitor. He was in the payroll of Germany. In return he would try to bring about the destruction of Russian Empire, take over the regime with a coup d’état and then declare a truce with Germany.  If Lenin succeeded, the war on the eastern front would die down and Germany would be able to focus on its western front. Robert Service attests to the fact that Lenin was a German spy who was working on its payroll:
“Lenin was trying to foment the ‘European socialist revolution’ with a secret financial allowance from people he publicly denounced as German imperialists.” 
It was with German money that the Bolsheviks, Lenin’s faction, managed to keep afloat. In 1917, at the eve of the Russian Revolution, he was living in Switzerland, having lost all hope of seizing power anytime soon. But quite surprisingly for him, the Russian Revolution happed in 1917 and the Tsar abdicated on 15 March, 1917.  A Soviet Duma was established and a democratic Provisional Government started to rule Russia.
Germany became hopeful that the new Russian government would declare truce with Germany on the Eastern Front but to its disappointment Russia kept fighting Germany. As a result Lenin’s importance for any pro-German plot increased many times over. His continuous denunciations of Tsarism and the Provisional Government, and his policy of treason attracted Germany’s attention to him.
It was decided that the time was ripe for the Bolshevik Party to stage a coup in Russia and declare a truce with Germany. But first, Lenin had to get into Russia. There was an arrest warrant for Lenin there. It was very difficult to smuggle him in. Finally it was the Germans who arranged for the safe passage of Lenin, on a German train, into Russia. 
After reaching Russia, Lenin started spreading communist propaganda, trying to foment a revolution and made several attempts to seize power. One such attempt on July 4, 1917 failed spectacularly, and many Bolsheviks were arrested. Lenin went into hiding, this time in Finland. Once again the German money came to his assistance and the Bolsheviks opened a number of propaganda newspapers in order to influence the opinion of the Soviets, one of the seats of power in democratic Russia, the other being the Duma which was dominated by Kerensky, the Kadets and other parties. Robert Service confirms the role of Germany money in Bolshevik propaganda newspapers that were opened:
“It is now known that the German authorities made millions of marks available for the purpose of enabling Russians to conduct pro peace propaganda. It can scarcely be coincidence that the Bolsheviks, despite having only minority of places in the soviets and other mass organizations after the February Revolution, rapidly set up a large number of newspapers.” 
Lenin was shrewd enough not to leave any paper train implicating him in treason. His standing instruction was not to make more than two copies of his letters and immediately destroy them after reading. Even then enough evidence survived to conclusively prove that Lenin was a traitor and a German spy. Richard Pipes indicts him in no uncertain terms:
“We now learn that as late as August 1918, three months before Germany’s surrender, he badgered Berlin for money to carry out anti-French and anti-British – that is, pro-German – propaganda in Western Europe through his representative in neutral Switzerland. This surely qualified him as a German agent in the strict meaning of the word.” 
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Soviet archives were opened to the scholars for the first time. The new evidence which has come to light implicates Lenin without doubt. For all his carefulness, one letter in which Lenin comes out as Germany spy, in which he is asking Germans for money, survived:
“I am using an opportunity to dash off a few words of greeting. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the publications: do not spare money and effort on publications in three (or four) languages and distribution. The Berliners will send some more money: if the scum delay, complain to me formally.” 
The Germans thought that Lenin would seize power in Russia and then declare ceasefire with Germany. After Germany would emerge victorious from the First World War, Lenin’s party would follow Germany’s diktats and Russia would become a de facto province of Germany.
After many failed attempts, the Bolsheviks did become successful in seizing power in a coup on November 5, 1917 and overthrew the Provisional Government. Three days after seizing power, Lenin complied with the wishes of his paymasters in Germany and declared a ceasefire in his famous ‘Decree on Peace’ on November 8, 1917.  The outcome of the War could not have been better for Lenin. Germany was defeated, while the man on Germany’s payroll, Lenin, became the absolute master of Russia.
Later, through the Communist Party’s strict control over media this episode of Lenin’s treason was completely wiped off from history. It was only when the veil of the Soviet censorship lifted in 1989 that it became established that Lenin was a traitor, who was on enemy’s payroll and seized power in Russia with German help and finance.
How Communists betrayed India
This strain of treason, of betraying one’s own country, was not an aberration but was deeply ingrained in the very ideology and practice of communism. The communists and communist parties the world over have always functioned as fifth columns of the Soviet Union, often working against the interests of their own country.
“A conference of eighty-five Communist Parties held in Moscow in 1960 unanimously reaffirmed loyalty to the Soviet Union as an unshakeable article of faith for Communists in both East and West.” 
The Communist Party of India has been no different. Its loyalty has always been to the Soviet Union and not to India. After the fall of the Soviet Union it shifted its loyalty to Communist China in particular. In general, the leftists have now become mercenaries, willing to sell their services to any enemy of India.
Communist Party of India’s extra-territorial loyalty to Soviet Union became clear during the struggle for Indian independence. When the Second World War broke out in Europe, Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with its arch enemy, the Nazi Germany. They agreed to divide Europe between themselves. To the communist parties of the entire world it was shocking that the Soviet Union, the vanguard of the socialist camp, signed a pact with the hated fascists, the greatest enemy of communism.
Communists the world over were shocked into silence for a few days but then started following the official Soviet line that it was a ‘war of the capitalists’ and that the communists should not involve themselves in the War. In India, “the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution stating that India’s sympathies were with countries that were the victims of aggression but that it could help fight the fascist onslaught only as a free country. It therefore called upon Britain to pledge freedom to India. When a few weeks later the war broke out, Gandhiji reaffirmed these propositions and also said that while the Congress would continue to fight for India’s freedom it would do so non-violent, in a way that would not impede Britain’s war efforts.” 
This position of not impeding British war efforts worked against the interests of Hitler and Nazi Germany, which at that time was aligned with the communists of the Soviet Union. Being a loyal servant of the Soviet Union, Indian communists abused the Congress and Gandhi in choicest terms, arguing that they should wage violent struggle against Britain and impede its war efforts.
The communists called Gandhi and Bose “blind messiahs”, and declared that “Gandhism has entered into its decadent phase. At the most critical time of our national history it is acting as a fetter on the national struggle.” 
However, as fate would have it, Hitler turned against Stalin in 1941 and attacked the Soviet Union.  Overnight the narrative of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union changed. What was a ‘war of the imperialists’ till yesterday suddenly became the Great Patriotic War. Promptly the Communist Party of India also changed line. Now that Britain and Soviet Union were collaborating, helping Britain’s war efforts became of paramount importance for the communists.
Taking a U-turn, now the communists started abusing the Congress Party and Gandhi for the opposite set of crimes. They were abused for even peacefully opposing Britain. Gandhi’s non-violent method of protest through holding satyagraha became an object of scorn for Indian communists. Subhash Chandra Bose, who was leading an armed resistance against the British occupation of India, was an even greater target of the communist hatred.
Bose and his followers were called ‘this black crew’, ‘the agents of Bose, the hirelings of the Axis’, ‘the Boseite Traitors’, ‘the paid agents of the enemy’, ‘the advance guard of Tojo and Hitler’, and ‘a diseased limb that must be amputated’  among many other things. Gandhi was denounced as the one who had created ‘the atmosphere without which the saboteur could not function’, the saboteur being Bose of course. 
This was not all. Learning from their Prophet, the Communist Party of India used treason as a political tool. Arun Shourie proves in his work The Only Fatherland that the Communist Party of India struck a secret deal with the British Government. The Party ran a campaign to discredit Gandhi, the Congress and the Indian independence movement. It worked to sabotage the Quit India Movement. In return the British government freed the communist leaders who were already jailed and cancelled standing warrants in April 1942.  The Party was legalized and its publications were once again allowed to resume print.
Though the Communist Party of India was too small and its impact on Indian public too little for it to make any lasting damage on Indian independence movement, but it did manage to keep its leaders free while every important Congressman was rotting in jail. This helped the Communist Party to gain hold on various institutions in India which ultimately affected independent India with the ruling party under Nehru always leaning to the Left.
These are not the only two cases of communist treason. They have done it again and again. Treason is not a tactical move for the communists. It is an ideological motif, central to the communist belief system. They use it as a political tool. So next time, you find a Sitaram Yechury supporting China over India in an international dispute, don’t be surprised. He is just being true to his ideology. Treason is in the blood of communists.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
- Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography. London: Pan Macmillan, 2000. p. 80.
- Brown, Archie. The Rise and Fall of Communism. Vintage, 2009. p. 32-33.
- Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography. London: Pan Macmillan, 2000. p. 169.
- Kedrov, M. S. Book Publishing under Tsarism. 1932, pp. 16-21.
- Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography. London: Pan Macmillan, 2000. p. 226.
- Pipes, Richard. Communism: A History of the International and Political Movement. Pan Macmillan, 2001. p. 38.
- Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography. London: Pan Macmillan, 2000. p. 249.
- Massie, Robert K. Nicholas & Alexandra: The Tragic, Compelling Story of the Last Tsar and his Family. Pan Macmillan, 2000. p. 394.
- Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography. London: Pan Macmillan, 2000. p. 257.
- Pipes, Richard. The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive. Yale University Press, 1996. p. 12.
- p. 53.
- Izvestiya Newspaper, #208, 9 November [O.S. 27 October] 1917.
- Shourie, Arun. ‘The Only Fatherland’: Communists, ‘Quit India’ and The Soviet Union. ASA, 1991. p. 16-17.
- p. 18.
- Hastings, Max. All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945. Harper Press, 2012. p. 139.
- Shourie, Arun. ‘The Only Fatherland’: Communists, ‘Quit India’ and The Soviet Union. ASA, 1991. p. 86.
- p. 93.
- p. 23.
- Andrew, Christopher & Mitrokhin, Vasili. The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Penguin, 2000. p. 383.