the Revolutionary Movement

Extracts from Bhagat Singh and the Revolutionary Movement by Niraja Rao retrieved from on August 30, 2011 (cache record: April 26, 2009)


From 1926, Bhagat Singh began to ‘study in order to be able to counter criticism from opponents and sharpen (his) own arguments’. The most important requirement was to articulate clearly the ideals for which they were fighting. The fact that there had been no real agitation in 1926 meant that there was time to devote to studying. ‘I studied the (writings of) the anarchist leader Bakunin, some (thing of) the father of communism Marx, but more (of) Lenin, Trotsky and others who had succeeded in bringing about a revolution in their country.’

Anarchism:From May to September, 1928, Kirti serialised Bhagat Singh’s article on Anarchism. ‘The people are scared of the word anarchism’, declared Bhagat Singh. ‘The word anarchism has been abused so much that even in India revolutionaries have been called anarchist to make them unpopular’. The word Anarchism is defined as the absence of any kind of rule. ‘I think in India the idea of universal brotherhood, the Sanskrit sentence vasudev kutumbakam etc., have the same meaning.’ The ‘first man to explicitly propagate the theory of Anarchism was Proudhon and that is why he is called the founder of Anarchism. After him a Russian, Bakunin worked hard to spread the doctrine. He was followed by Prince Kropotkin etc’.

The article goes on to explain why Bhagat Singh was so attracted to Anarchism. ‘The ultimate goal of Anarchism is complete independence, according to which no one will be obsessed with God or religion, nor will anybody be crazy for money or other worldly desires. There will be no chains on the body or control by the state. This means that they want to eliminate: the Church, God and Religion; the state; Private property’. There is a brief history of the Anarchist movement and the article concludes with Valliant’s attempt to throw a bomb in the Assembly. On being arrested, ‘he said in a bold and clear voice, it takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear…’.

Although there appear to be many similarities in the way the revolutionaries and the Anarchists functioned, Bhagat Singh brought about a qualitative change in the Indian revolutionary movement. The adherence to Marxism meant that the revolutionaries did not deny or fight for the elimination of the State. The role of the state was seen in Marxist terms. The diary Bhagat Singh left behind in jail has a number of extracts from Engels’ classic The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. After studying Marx and Engels’ work there is a clear understanding of the stages of society, their corresponding family relations and the Marxist theory of the State as an ‘institution that lent the character of perpetuity not only to the newly rising into classes, but also to the right of the possessing classes to exploit and rule the non-possessing classes’.

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