An Interview with Bernard D’Mello, Deputy Editor of the Economic & Political Weekly

See, the Maoists have a strategy, the protracted people’s war strategy.  Since the merger of CPI(ML) People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre, they have moved the struggles of the rural poor to a higher level, so to say.  This is one of guerrilla warfare and the establishment of guerrilla zones.  The state has reacted, reacted with a barbaric counter-insurgency strategy. . . .  The Maoists have reacted with counter-violence.  What seems to be going on is a cycle of never-ending brutalities. . . .  The state’s strategy has been one of getting in place a whole network of informers and combatants from the civilian population.  They’ve sponsored them, they’ve supported them, they’ve indeed even organized them in Chhattisgarh in the form of Salwa Judum.  They have unleashed a kind of macabre oppression . . . loot, rape, and intimidation.  From the side of the police forces, the CRPF is there, Chhattisgarh’s police is there, Indian battalions are there. . . .  Encounter death, torture in custody, custody death, and so on. . . .   In the Maoist view, what they do is they single out persons who are responsible for all of that and they target those with counter-violence.  They can even go to the extent of killing them.  But that is intended as a kind of warning: dare you do these things.  It’s a kind of public warning which is being sent out: dare you become an informer, dare you become a civilian combatant, and so on.  This is the kind of counter-violence that has been unleashed by the Maoists.  Now, coming back to your question, “Where does this go actually?” in my opinion, actually, this Maoist strategy of the protracted people’s war onto the stage of guerrilla warfare, in fact trying to establish guerrilla zones and so on, has reached a kind of no-win situation. . . .  The Maoists have a strategy, and there’s a certain logic to that strategy.  That logic unfolds in the course of implementation of that strategy.  When the state unleashes repression, it basically doesn’t allow that strategy to unfold in terms of its inner logic.  That’s why I say it’s reached a kind of no-win situation. . . .  I think Home Minister Chidambaram has been dishonest, plain dishonest.  If the Indian government is really interested in talks, the thing they should do is to start withdrawing the forces from these areas of Maoist influence.  It is only then that actually the Maoists will come to the negotiating table.

. . . If you ask me, I think, you know, before moving to a stage of guerrilla warfare and the establishment of guerrilla zones, one needs to spread the mass movement of the rural poor wider.  One needs to do that, as well as actually one needs to build up its urban counterpart, mainly among the urban working class. . . .  I think there are a lot of lessons one can learn from China between the late 20s up to 1949 in this respect.  There are things that still, I think, can be done — that is a personal view.  If you look at actually the program of the new party, the CPI(Maoist), if you look at their program and their strategy — it’s all on the Internet, on the site called BannedThought, actually you can access it and you can see it — in fact they say what I’m just saying.  It’s not that I have thought of this thing just like that — I have thought of this thing after closely reading their own political program, their own strategy, and so on.  There are elements of this in that strategy, in that program.  But they are not being allowed to implement this; they have not been allowed to implement this.  Surely there would be failures and so on.  But, given the way the Indian state is organized, the repressive apparatus of the Indian state, as well as the way the judiciary functions, I think that that hope has not been realized.

This interview was conducted for Radical Notes and published on 10 December 2009.  See, also, Bernard D’Mello, “What Is Maoism?” (Monthly Review, November 2009).  The text above is an edited partial transcript of the videos.

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