In March 1977 Indira Gandhi called elections after a period of governing through “emergency” measures, which included the brutal clampdown on the labour movement. Her gamble didn’t pay off. The main beneficiary of the elections were right-wing forces gathered around the so-called Janata party. On the left the Communist Party of India, having supported Indira Gandhi’s measures, failed to gain from the situation, and the Maoist CPI-M shamefully backed Janata.

The capitalist crisis of the 1970s, combined with the Labour Party being in government after 1974 and carrying out austerity measures, had the effect of pushing the ranks of the party to the left. In these conditions the ideas of the Marxist wing, gathered around the Militant began to get a wide echo. The Marxists dominated the LPYS, the party youth wing, but were also winning many positions within the party, such as Andy Bevan’s selections as the party’s national youth officer. This provoked the wrath of the bourgeois media.

In 1978 war broke out between Vietnam and Cambodia, two countries that were supposed to be “socialist”. This bemused – and embarrassed – the Stalinist Communist parties, who could not explain this phenomenon. Ted Grant explained that the two regimes involved in war were bureaucratic, deformed workers’ state, with a one party, military-police dictatorship in power. Marxists supported the nationalised, planned economies in these countries, but raised the need for genuine workers’ democracy.

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