BOOK REVIEWS 77
exaggerated (4000 members of the CPI(M)). Instead of the Naxalite movement rapidly gaining ground in Kerala, as the book states, it petered out at an early stage, never having achieved any coherent ideological organisational content.
The prospects that Victor Fie holds out for the future of Indian communism is rather curious. Written before the 1971 parliamentry elections, he rates the Naitonal Democratic path of the CPI with the greatest chance of success given the Congress split in 1969. The alternative of the GPI (M)'s strategy of People's Democracy (which he misrepresents) is a lesser likelihood according to him and the Naxalite line a remote possibility. This is not surprising given Fic's belief in the efficacy of coalitional politics to maximise power. Another bogey raised is the distinct possibility of India under a "National Democratic Government" becoming a "neo-colony" of the Soviet Union, a road on which, he hints, the Indian Government has already embarked upon. But paradoxically, he pins all his faith on the Congress Party (the forces committed to social change and progress under parliamentary democracy) to salvage the situation. To support this he points out that, in Kerala, despite a powerful communist movement, the Congress has always polled a substantial number of votes. Apart from the futility of evaluating mass support by poll percentages, it would be useful to remind Fie that the ruling Congress secured only 18 per cent of the votes in the 1970 mid-term assembly elections, whereas the CPI(M) and its independents without the benefit of a United Front polled 33 percent (an increase of 6.5 percent over 1967). Moreover, the development of the democratic movement and the strength of the mass base of the CPI (M), or for that matter, any left party is not dependent on electoral manipulations.
Victor Fie is of the opinion that Kerala, which has proved a fertile ground for application of Marxism, can still represent laboratory from where techniques can be learnt by 'democratic' forces like the Congress to checkmate the communist advance. The Congress without waiting for Fic's advice had already started the experimentation in Kerala. As Namboodiripad forcecast in his book in 1965, which Fie quotes earlier, a new type of anti-communists would emerge who would : "fight the vested interests in cooperation with the communists precisely in order to keep the masses away from the ideology of communism" (p 247). The Congrass-CPI alliance in Kerala today, is conclusive evidence of this new tactic. The Youth Congress in Kerala pioneered the tactic of espousing radical slogans to stem the tide of communism. In West Bengal—another 'laboratory'—this has been advanced to espousing radical slogans and simultaneously murdering communists. But the left movements in both these states are in no way diminished. History and class struggle is not a matter of technique and manipulation and the future of Kerala itself will disprove Fic's thesis.