Is communism on an irreversible retreat?
Last week Bangladesh Communist Party (CPB) observed its 75th founding anniversary in a befitting manner. Though the communist ideology has lost its appeal in the country for a long, the existence of the party indicates that only a few people still bear the flag of communism. It is a dream to establish greater societal equality through state control of the economy. Public, not private, ownership, especially of the means of production, distribution and exchange of goods in a society, is the core thing in communism so that the capitalist class can no longer profit at the expense of the working class. It aims to remove class privilege and rejects the market economy.
The CPB had its origin in the communist movement in British India during the 1920s. In 1925, the Communist Party of India (CPI) was established. After the partition in 1947, at the second congress of CPI in Kolkata it was decided to establish the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP). On March 6, 1948, CPP was officially founded. In 1968, the Communist Party of East Pakistan was formed. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, it became the CPB.
The party has a fascinating history of the socio-political movement in this region. Once upon a time, it had attracted a large pool of youths nationwide. Though most were from ordinary families, many well-off family members joined the bandwagon. Again, many of them were meritorious and devoted themselves to rigorous study and hard work. Other political parties also affiliated with communist or socialist ideology also developed such a workforce. Leaders and activists of the communist party played a critical role in the Language Movement and the 1969 uprising. They also participated in the country's Liberation War under CPB-NAP-BSU guerrilla forces.
In post-independence Bangladesh, the communists and their allies have gone through a troubled journey. Their role in every democratic movement, especially against the authoritarian regime of Ershad, is well recognised. Their influence on academia and the cultural arena is still significant. Nevertheless, the party failed to reach the mass people and inspire them. That's why the communists and socialists have failed to win in any parliamentary elections so far.
The dream of communism shattered globally following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The party leaders in Bangladesh were divided on dissolving the CPB or maintaining the original form. Finally, the Marxist-Leninist group, in 1993, resolved in favour of the independent existence of the CPB. Since then, the communist and socialist ideologies have lost their appeal. The country's two main political parties-- the Bangladesh Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party - also adopt a free-market economy as their core economic policy that encourages private investments and entrepreneurship.
Globally, communism is already labelled as a 'failed project', and only five countries are now known as communist countries. These are China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam. To what extent these countries implemented the communist ideology is a big question. Except for the rule of a strict authoritarian regime, which is an essential component of communism, China is a capitalist economy in disguise. Vietnam also adopts a similar path. Laos is also an open economy. Only Cuba and North Korea continue the centralised economic model, which may collapse anytime soon.
Nevertheless, communists and socialists in the country still believe that they will be able to overthrow the highly discriminatory socio-economic-political structure. They are correct that the country's economic growth is fuelling income disparity by concentrating resources into a few hands and allowing rent-seeking activities. They have also been continuously raising their voices of protest, no matter how limited and muted they are. The red march with the red flag is still there.