To Indian communists, some ‘imperialists’ are less worse than others. Their silence on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is thus not surprising. It fits into their history of shamelessly endorsing acts of aggression by communist regimes of the former Soviet Union or China. Moscow’s invasions of Hungary in 1956, of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and of Afghanistan in 1979 had seen Indian comrades supporting the aggressor. When the Chinese attacked India in 1962, though, the then undivided Communist Party of India was split in the middle. The pro-Moscow faction condemned the Chinese aggression and the pro-Beijing ‘Leftists’ in the party practically supported the Chinese version of the territorial dispute. In fact, the record of the ‘Leftists’, who later formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is worse. While the CPI had its internal struggles over defending indefensible acts by the former Soviet Union, the CPI(M) continued to be the unwavering defender of Red imperialism. All this was done in the name of ‘socialist internationalism’. This justification was always worse than the act itself, but that did not seem to bother the Indian parties, especially the CPI(M).
Neither Russia nor Ukraine claims to be a socialist country. That makes the Indian communists’ silence over the Russian invasion of Ukraine look even more bizarre. The CPI(M), of course, has its conspiracy theory about the chain of events in Ukraine. But then, all invaders and their defenders try to put up justifications for their unjustifiable acts. The really intriguing question is not about the Indian communists’ pathetic attempts to silently support Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. It is more about why they continue to think and act in such utterly indefensible ways. The answer probably lies in these parties’ inability to change themselves. They seem to be completely out of place in a world that they fail to understand, let alone change. All that they do is stick to discarded theories and practices and thereby expose their irrelevance further. It is perhaps futile to expect parties such as the CPI(M) to face the reality and change their ways. They do not seem to have any ideological vitality left even to meaningfully debate issues at home or abroad. The Indian comrades’ failure to denounce Vladimir Putin’s offensive in Ukraine mocks their own anti-imperialist claptrap.