Discussing “United Front” in the context of the NSI-UCD-KYS Debate

Pothik Ghosh

First, an axiomatic assertion: the communist conception of the United Front is by no means meant to enable the politics of liberal consensus to come into its own. If anything, it is meant to extinguish the condition of possibility for such politics. The United Front – at least in the realm of revolutionary communist theory – has always been envisaged as a programmatic concept of advance-through-generalisation for the capital-unraveling politics of the proletariat, even as it steers clear of the trap of substituting overgeneralised sectarianism for real, essential unity among concretely varied working-class locations.

This essence of the communist concept and practice of the United Front is most at stake in the ongoing polemical exchanges between the New Socialist Initiative-led University Community for Democracy (UCD) and the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS). Yet, unfortunately, it is precisely this politico-theoretical essence that has been lost in the fog of those polemics. The NSI, which has to all intents and purposes been the key organising and driving force behind the UCD, clearly envisages socialist United Front politics, discernible in its defence of the current shape and directionality of the UCD, as one of consensus between various social blocs and classes in their ostensibly common struggle against the manoeuvres of dominant politico-economic and socio-political forms of capitalism in the specific location of the university and its neighbourhood. On the other hand, the KYS has, its intentions to the contrary notwithstanding, failed to free the revolutionary impulse – which underpins its otherwise absolutely valid criticism of the UCD as a material embodiment of the politics and ideology of liberal consensus (essentially integral to the hegemony of capitalism) – from the fetish of the historical specificity of its own experience. As a consequence, its otherwise legitimate polemic against the UCD and the NSI has failed to overcome its sectarian tenor and ignite a substantive debate.

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