Chances are less that we find people like Mikhail Gorbachev and Deng Xiaoping in anyone’s list of great leaders who contributed to the progress of mankind. Their greatness lies in their signal contributions to the downfall of unrealistic and unworkable isms. Otherwise mankind would have spent another century experimenting with systems of governance that can never be stable and satisfying. These visionary leaders could achieve the noble task as insiders and they could convince their own followers the impracticality of hoping for paradises to evolve from unrealistic systems. Nobel prize for peace would have been the apt one for such people. While Gorbachev could successfully dismantle Soviet Union and thereby the cold war, Deng Xiaoping took his billion strong crowd away from a path of useless revolution. Millions of lives have been saved from attaining unwanted and unproductive martyrdom.
The phenomenon of late realization is very common among Communists everywhere in the world. Almost 90% of the Communists who are not active in politics invariably turn against the ism when they pass the age of 50. Only those who are in active in politics, especially those who are enjoying the spoils of power as members of leftist political parties, prefer to live with it. They have something to lose and they learn the technique of adjusting with their conscience till they have completed their tenures of enjoyment. The case of Jyoti Basu is the best example in contemporary India. In any case they speak out the truth at the fag end of their lives. If they cannot speak out, it will be definitely there in their autobiographies. But this is not enough. Mere admission and speaking the truth will still let the ism live on. We need Gorbachevs and Xiaopings in every country to destroy such unworkable isms from within.
Unlike an enemy there are several advantages for insiders. Enemies of any ism may not be experts in it and might have developed the enmity based on reasons other than logical. Such reasons do not give the enemies moral right to kill the isms. But the case of a knowledgeable insider is totally different. He has not only learned the theory but has been involved in its application as well. What an insider leader like Gorbachev has done is killing a confirmed heretical ism with full conviction. He had grown with it and he has seen for himself its drawbacks and impracticality. He knew that Communism has outlived its usefulness in Soviet Union and its continuance will only harm the people. The greatness of Gorbachev comes in killing it once for all, at least in Russia.
Many of our leaders get such opportunities but most of them do not dare to take it up. When one has seen through his own system and is convinced that it is a failure, there are very few who admit and speak out. The numbers are still lesser if we are looking for leaders who then put their own personal lives at stake to reform the system from within. We have seen very few instances in the last century. To fight or reform a system from within is easier if we have leaders with morality and courage. What we lack today in almost all nations is exactly the tribe of such courageous leaders. It takes a rare combination of extreme courage and complete conviction for any leader to fight the odds for the betterment of society in which he is also a part of.
Just like human rights there should be rights for any ism to get it tried out. But unlike humans, isms must get killed once their usefulness is over or if they fail to perform. The only alternative that must be available to failed isms is complete modification. The case of Communism and Socialism must be on these lines. Pure forms of both these isms have completely failed in application and must be shelved for ever. What can now be tried out are modified versions that can yield the desired end results. We must bear in mind that the ultimate purpose of any ism for governance is the well being of one and all. In addition there must be a constant reform process for positive progress of the ism and its beneficiaries. Anything that does not allow reforms is unnatural and must die even if it is an ism.
What happened in the case of Communism in Soviet Union and China highlights inevitability of such fundamental fate of any ism. Those which are incapable of reform shall die. Mikhail Gorbachev is only a social doctor who helped the unworkable ism to die in the Soviet Union. Instead of the violent death in such cases, he helped the Russian people achieve the same without any bloodshed. His brilliance and vision provided the required pace and ambience for the gradual and calibrated death of a communist form of government that promised so many unachievable ideas. In the same position, Deng Xiaoping achieved much more by modifying Communism beyond recognition. But unlike Russians, the Chinese remain untruthful to their own conscience by clinging onto the name of Communism. Current Chinese Communism is nothing but a progressive cousin of Capitalism.
In India, we must consider ourselves lucky that such unworkable isms have not found much ground in our political arena. Outside Bengal and Kerala, the red flags are seen only in the railway stations. It has been the case so far and communist leaders like Jyoti Basu gives us hope that it will remain so in future. The veteran leader has spoken the truth at the fag end of his life. Communism and Socialism are unworkable isms and they can never be achieved anywhere in the world, more so in an ancient nation like ours. The ‘unworkabilty of extreme rightism’ has always been true in the case of a plural and secular Hindu dominated India. What is needed now is a marriage of value based Hindutva principles with the rationality of Communism to produce the best offspring of ‘Dialectical & Integral Humanism’ to usher in Ram Raj once again in Indian history.