The Terrorist Slaughter in Mumbai

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The terrorist slaughter in Mumbai at the end of November 2008 left nearly 190 people dead. On the first night of the attack, within few minutes, 70-80 migrant workers waiting for a long distance train on CST railway station were butchered. When the slaughter finally ended on 29th Nov 2008, there were more than 100 rotting dead bodies of hotel employees and guests scattered all over the attacked hotels and other buildings.

Even in a country racked by regular terrorist attacks, this was unprecedented. It was not a regular hit and run attack by unidentified terrorists. Instead a band of gunmen carried out well planned attack for 60 hours in different part of the city challenging forces of the Indian state. In many ways it was like open war.

The terror strike instilled fear among the working classes and once again brought to the fore the fragility of daily life in the face repression by the state, terrorist carnages and communal slaughters. It provoked huge anger and outrage among the Indian bourgeoisie. In its expression of ‘outrage against terrorism' Indian bourgeoisie was joined by many major factions of the global bourgeoisies, particularly the US, British and the French. These factions of the global bourgeoisie were not moved by killings of the innocent people but how to further their own sordid imperialist interests in the midst of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.

Even the Indian bourgeoisie is least concerned by the death of the working people or for that matter any innocent person. Death of two hundred persons is nothing for the Indian state. In Mumbai alone 4000 working class men and women gets killed every year while commuting to work in horribly crowded suburban trains - they fall off the trains, get pushed out while jostling, get stuck by railway poles while hanging out. A case pending in a Mumbai court for this is stuck since several years with state doing nothing. And thousand more die or commit suicide, as the impoverished farmers do everyday, in the face of poverty and misery imposed by the Indian bourgeoisie. Indian state is least bothered by these deaths of working people.

To use the words of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Indian bourgeoisie is outraged because the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were an attack on ‘ambitions' of Indian state. The bourgeoisie is outraged as these attacks showed vast chaos and incompetence of its state and hollowness of its imperialist dreams.

Poverty, Misery and the Fear for Life

Despite all talk of last few years of great economic boom, a talk heard no longer, vast majority of working class have seen only increasing misery and poverty. Mumbai, which is home to the largest slums in the world, housing many million people, has seen its largest industry, the textiles, disappear. Maharashtra, the state of which Mumbai is a part, has seen the maximum number of suicide deaths by farmers. This grim reality of poverty is not unique to Maharashtra. This has continued to be the reality of working classes and rural poor in India despite boom years. In addition, the last couple of years have seen proliferation of terrorist attacks tearing apart human lives at all places and at all hours of the day and night. Year 2008 alone have seen more than half a dozen major terrorist attacks killing hundreds of people in major cities - Delhi, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Surat, near Guwahati and now this latest carnage in Mumbai. Year 2007 saw similar number of terror attacks - bombing of train going to Pakistan, serial blasts in Varanasi, terrorist bombing in Hyderabad twice in the span of 4 months. July 2006 saw massive bomb blasts on trains in Mumbai itself killing 190, mostly working people traveling by suburban trains, and injuring 600. In between these terrorist slaughters there have been huge communal carnages some time against the Christians, as in Orissa and Karnataka, at other time against Muslims.

For the working class it is not only poverty and misery that is their lot, a lot which is becoming more difficult with economic burst. It is also the constant fear of death, of being victim of terrorist killings that happen with clockwork regularity and of communal slaughters and repression by the state.

Terrorism - an expression of Decomposition of Capitalist Society & State

Even before the latest collapse that struck world capitalism in Sept 2008, this system has been hurtling down the abyss for four decades. This has been pushing lives of the working people on the planet into poverty and misery and has been spreading wars and chaos. This process accelerated with the collapse of eastern bloc. The collapse of the eastern bloc and with it of western bloc eliminated the discipline that the bloc leaders could impose on lesser imperialist powers. This and accelerating decline of capitalism intensified the decomposition of capitalist society and the tendency toward ‘every man for himself'.  ‘Every man for himself' does not express only in the imperialist appetites of petty states and the wars that result from this. It also express itself in proliferation of terrorist gangs, some aligned and controlled by competing imperialist states, other acting as independent perpetrators of war and barbarism in the name of religion, national independence or anti-imperialism.

While terrorism, this offspring of decomposing capitalism and often instrument of competing capitalist states, is a global phenomenon it expresses itself differently in different countries as per their history and society.

Given extreme decomposition of capitalist society and state in Pakistan, terrorism there is a dominant reality. The state has been so thoroguly enmeshed in it, that it is some time difficult to distinguish where the boundaries of the terrorist gangs end and that of certain organ of state begins. This expresses a great weekness and fragility of the Pakistani bourgeoisie and its state. It expresses dangers that this level of decomposition of the state could lead different factions composing it to fall on each other and could tear the state apart.

Indian state, though not in the same situation, is not far behind. Every aspect of social life in India is strongly marked by chaos and decomposition. The ‘mainstream' politics of the bourgeoisie, of the managers of its state often base itself on violent and bitter confrontations between castes, communities, religious and linguistic groups. There are myriad terrorist gangs that hold sway in different parts of the India - north east, Assam, Andhra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, MP, Bihar and many other provinces. Then there is Kashmir, a permanent theatre of war and terrorist actions. In addition, last few decades have seen emergence of Islamic terrorist groupings at the heart of India that are often trained, controlled and manipulated by Pakistan. They have become important actors in politics of terrorism in last few years. A new acceleration of decomposition of Indian state is expressed by the emergence of Hindu terrorist gangs that have carried out a number of terrorist attacks in India recently. The recent unmasking of Abhinav Bharat, a Hindu terrorist organization, that have civilian Hindu fundamentalist elements as well serving and retired army officers as its members, expresses the spread of decomposition to the very heart of the Indian state -its army, the bastion of its solidity and cohesion. It foretells the dangers of greater barbarism to come and underline the fact that while Indian state may not be in the same situation as Pakistan, it is set on the same course.

Terrorism - a tool of imperialist war

While terrorism is a product of the rotting of the capitalist society, it has been systematically engendered, nurtured and used as a tool of imperialist war against each other by India and Pakistan. This is not something new. It has been going on now for many decades. The Indian bourgeoisie never misses an opportunity to congratulate itself of having split Pakistan. Nor do they miss to boast of their success in 1980's when Indian supported Mohajir militias were on the rampage in Karachi and Sind with horrific violence. One of the ‘success stories' for which the Pakistani bourgeoisie gives a pat to itself is Khalistani movement that for years threatened Indian control of Punjab. Another prime example of this is Kashmir where they were able to push the Indian bourgeoisie to the wall before the ‘war on terror' came to its rescue. Apart from these ‘great' examples, terrorism has been used by both states against each other on continuous  basis whether it is regular terrorist attacks in India or fanning of terrorism and separatism by Indian state in Pakistan's Baluch, Pashtun or Sind provinces.

Since last more than one decade, this permanent conflict between Indian and Pakistan has been joined by another conflict, that between India and China and between China and US in which the US and India has tried to make a common cause.

There is no Peace in Capitalism

After a decade of insurgency, in 2001 Indian bourgeoisie, despite having deployed more than half a million soldiers in Kashmir, was at its wits end. With start of the ‘war on terror' the situation changed for the better for the Indian bourgeoisie and for worse for its Pakistani counterpart. The later lost its control over Afghanistan. The pressure that Americans brought to bear on Pakistan and its army at the time forced it to roll back its infrastructure of terror.

In the face of this, there was a lull in imperialist confrontation between India and Pakistan publicized by the bourgeoisie as a ‘peace processes between the two. It also expressed in an absence or decrease in terrorist attacks in India between 2001 and 2005 and in ‘pacification' of Kashmir. But it was a situation of major setbacks for Pakistan. It felt, and rightly so, that it has been forced to abandon positions it has gained over decades and to sacrifice its long standing interests in the face of threats by the Americans.

As soon as Pakistani bourgeoisie found that American were in trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan, it started its efforts to regain lost ground. While it continued to support Americans, it protected fugitive leaders of Taliban who were now once again active in Afghanistan and gaining influence. This strategy, even if dangerous, has worked well for Pakistan. Today the NATO forces are compelled to think of engaging the ‘moderate' Taliban, a situation which is an important gain for the Pakistani state. Similarly there was a revival of terrorist actions in India toward the end of 2005 and early 2006. As we said at the time of serial bomb blasts on trains in Mumbai in 2006, it marked a major escalation of imperialist confrontation between India and Pakistan. Since then there have been an endless stream of terrorist attacks in India. While some have been the work of Hindu fundamentalist groups, some possibly of the state itself, most have been situated on terrain of inter imperialist conflict between India and Pakistan. Similarly Pakistan has been accusing India for much of the separatist violence in Baluchistan and other provinces and for bombing in its cities.

Different bourgeois factions push their imperialist agendas

The latest attacks in Mumbai have been the work of terrorist forces originating from within Pakistan. This action and its aftermath  fits well with efforts of Pakistan over the last many months to show the Americans that danger from India make it impossible for them to support ‘war on terror', that presence of Indian state in Afghanistan constitute a danger for Pakistan. That Americans must solve the Kashmir problem for Pakistan to fully support ‘war on terror'. These attacks are squarely set in this whole framework - conflict of India and Pakistan, efforts of Pakistan to re-gain more space in Afghanistan and regain a better leverage with Americans. These attacks also fit well with Chinese efforts to limit Indian aspirations to south Asia and unsettle Americans in Afghanistan. These attacks mark a major escalation in imperialist confrontations in this whole region.

Indian bourgeoisie tried to use these attacks to stir patriotic fever in which it has succeeded. It also tried to mount a global offensive against Pakistan. In this it gained some success in the beginning, especially at the level of posturing, when the American and British supported Indian pronouncements. But it soon became clear that American interests in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan does not coincide with Indian interests. Since the start of Dec 2008, the Americans, and the British, have been telling the Indian state to cool down while at the same time making sympathetic noises. The reason is simple - a war between India and Pakistan at this moment does not suit American interests in this region. At the same time, the Americans are doing everything to use these terror attacks to force Pakistan to fall in line with their own agenda in Afghanistan.

Smarting under its humiliation and its ‘world power' pretensions deflated, Indian bourgeoisie has now been forced to cool down. But let us have no doubt. The fact that open war has been averted at the moment means that war by other means - fanning of terrorism by both countries - will only intensify.

For the working class - the only alternative is class struggle

Poverty and misery has continued to be the lot of working classes both in India and Pakistan. This has been compounded by every sort of repression and obscurantism. With the whole economic edifice of world capitalism crumbling, the situation today has become grimmer for workers in South Asia. Pakistan has been tottering on the brink of bankruptcy now for some time. The bourgeoisie in South Asia is daily mounting more attacks on the working class - more workers are loosing jobs, more bosses are declaring wage cuts and pushing workers into increased poverty. In addition, capitalist system breeds war. For the working class in India and Pakistan, the imperialist confrontations of their masters mean increased poverty, increased misery, increased violence and increased uncertainty about being able to return home safe from a day of capitalist exploitation.

The choice for the working class in India and Pakistan is not to support ‘their own' country in its war mongering. Rather, it can defend itself only by developing its class struggle against its bosses, against the bourgeoisie of its own country and by extending its hand of class solidarity to workers across the borders. Only world wide development of working class struggles and working class unity can pave the way for the destruction of capitalism, this system of war and barbarism. Only then it can put an end to terrorism.

AM, 5/1/09.


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