A section of the intellectuals in West Bengal today have taken on the mantle of being the cheer leaders of the Trinamool-Maoists combine. In the name of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ and such noble concepts, these intellectuals have always been extraordinarily expedient in criticising or abusing the CPM and the Left Front in West Bengal. This poses no problem. Every individual has the right to criticise any party. But a modicum of consistency and honesty is expected from so called ‘neutral’ people, which they conspicuously lack. Till date, they have not even uttered a murmur of protest against the killing of more than 70 CPM cadres. There has not been even a symbolic protest against the gruesome killing of the election officials, doctors and nurses by the Maoists in the state. More recently, the sensitive intellectuals of Bengal have maintained criminal silence against beheading of the police inspector in Jharkhand. In other words, their protests are selective, inconsistent and politically motivated.
It can be argued that even this inconsistency or selectivity is politically justified. It must be acknowledged that the intellectuals have the right to support or oppose anyone that they want. Ultimately, that is the essence of politics. The problem arises when this politics is played under the veil of ‘neutrality’ and an implicit moral high ground on their part. If indeed you are supporting the Maoists, say that openly. Do not hide behind your self-created false image of being friends of all people, since ultimately your creative minds do not even have a drop of tear or grief for the activists of CPM, majority of whom are poor people. The real question is what explains this behaviour on the part of such ‘honourable’ people. According to me, the answer to this question is not only about the political choices that these people individually have made, aided by certain short comings of the CPM in West Bengal. I think that the deeper problem with these intellectuals is the fact that unlike intellectuals of yester-years, they are completely cut-off from the struggles of the people, at a broader level, both against the Indian establishment or imperialism. This wedge between the people’s struggle and the intellectuals on the other hand is a direct product of the policies of liberalization and upward mobility of the middle class and these very sections of the intelligentsia. It is therefore not surprising that these so called intellectuals never had anything to say on the Indo-US nuclear deal, farmers’ suicides in various parts of the country, sell out of public sector enterprises, attack on the working class etc. In all of these issues it was the Left and the CPM which were at the forefront of struggles to safeguard the interests of the people. In these struggles these intellectuals were never even fellow-travellers of the working class and toiling masses of the country. Hence, as a logical corollary, their political hyperactivity today is directed against the very forces who have posed the most serious challenge to imperialism and their cohorts in India. There was a time in West Bengal, when the finest literature and art was produced reflecting social issues and struggles of the people. Who can forget the haunting stories of Manik Bandyopadhyay on Bengal famine, the films of Satyajit Ray on urban unemployment, Mrinal Sen’s films on workers’ movements, Ghatak’s films on the refugee problem, poetry by Sukanto Bhattacharya, Subhas Mukherjee, plays of Utpal Dutta, songs of Salil Chowdhury etc etc. Each of these intellectuals through their works of art, not only reflected the lives and struggles of the people but inspired social movements and upheavals. This was because each one of them had a commitment to social cause and strived for changing the world for a better place, although their ideas on how to change or what will be the change were quite different. The current bunch of intellectuals (barring a few), are cut off from the day to day survivalstruggle of the masses. The post modern hegemonisation of the intelligentsia in Bengal has blinded them from imperialism and the need for organized left movement. However, the romanticism and petty-bourgeois radicalism are still in tact. Therefore it is fashionable to ‘protest’. Unable to intellectually comprehend the role that imperialism plays in our lives or the struggle of the Left against it, they have fallen back on blind opposition of left in West Bengal. This blindness and intellectual bankruptcy on their part have found them in the company of the Maoists, Mamata Banerjee et al.
From the point of view of the left however, such opposition on the part of intellectuals should notreally matter too much. What is important is to build up solid left resistance to imperialism and the neo-liberal anti-people policies in the country. Only by building up uncompromising struggles will the left emerge as the champion of the masses and will find support from sensible sections of the intelligentsia too. In other words, only through intensifying class struggle can the left emerge victorious isolating both the Trinamool-Maoists as well as their cheer leaders from the masses.