Blinkered Views on Left Unity
K N PANIKKAR (ED), PROSPECTS OF LEFT UNITY, Envce Publishers, New Delhi, Rs 30.
IN memory of K Damodaran, veteran Left intellectual, a memorial committee has been constituted in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where he spent the last years of his life working on a research project on the history of the Communist movement in India. The first memorial symposium held in 1978 has now been published as a book. The symposium dealt with the problems of Left unity which is a subject of great interest in the current political situation. The discussion was initiated by three professors— Boudhayan Chattopadhyay, Irfan Habib and Bipan Ghandra— with Nikhil Chakravarty as the moderator. The volume contains the discussions with seven other participants, mainly from the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The hook also concludes with an interview with Damodaran which appeared in the New Left Review in 1975. All this taken together provides a discussion on Left unity from the standpoint of Leftists—with a few exceptions—who are unattached to any Left party and of those who primarily come under the category of Left intellectuals. The symposium was held in April, 1978, thereby precluding the participation of the leaders of the CPI (M) and GPI who were at that very moment participating in their party congresses in Punjab. This was unfortunate as it robbed the symposium of the much needed contribution of the actual organizers and leaders of the movement.
The proceedings of the symposium reveal a running thread in the arguments of most of the participants—a pessimistic view of the Communist movement, its past and, in the extreme, a denunciation of all the existing Left parties and their leadership. The degree varies from those who voice anguished doubts about