For the CPI(M), it’s a bit like a cardinal making what a pastor told him inside the confessional booth public knowledge. It turns out that CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat had apparently told Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm that his party will lose in the 2011 Assembly polls in West Bengal. Now, it doesn’t matter whether the god of communism exists or not, but when a communist leader tells one of his intellectual mentors that he doesn’t ‘believe’ any more, a belief system could be in trouble. But more compelling than that is the possibility that Comrade Karat has lost faith — not something that the politicians among communists would like to air outside their own dialectical heads.
If Kant needed a Hegel to overturn a system, Mr Karat seems to be playing both roles — privately — pretty well. But should this surprise us in the laity? During the last poll, Mr Karat’s belief that the Left could bargain with the winner, by dint of their perceived link to the divine masses, turned out to be superstition.
We feel deeply for Mr Karat. On the one hand, he has seen the truth and his faith in the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ doesn’t look too promising. On the other hand, he still has to maintain the public appearance of a believer for those who need to hear that the ‘revolution’ is just round the corner. And the CPI(M) has provided the nation’s politics of late with too many useful issues, if not things.
But as Mr Hobsbawm should remind dear Mr Karat: “Utopianism is probably a necessary social device for generating the superhuman efforts without which no major revolution is achieved.” Yes, praying will certainly help our Doubting Prakash.