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In memory of a charlatan

Hardial Bains
Hardial Bains was a well known figure within the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist movement. I was a supporter of an organization which had been formed while it was largely under his influence. My organization, the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA broke decisively with Hardial in 1979. The MLP,USA dissolved itself in November 1993 and Hardial died, of cancer, in August 1997.

Following are excerpts from three letters I wrote which discussed Mr. Bains. The first letter, written in December 1996, was made public at that time on this page. Since this page has turned out to be more popular than expected and because Hardial died, I have added this preface and short excerpts of the other two letters.

Ben Seattle
----//-// 5.Apr.98

Postscript -- 29.Jul.98 -- here is a very interesting response !


January 1997

At the time [ie: the 1970's] Hardial's group was one of the largest and most militant in the Canadian left. I should add my opinion that I do not believe that Hardial was always a charlatan. I believe it is unlikely that he could have built the CPC-ML to be the force that it once was--without having been, at one time, in possession of a fair amount of integrity and courage. What happens, sometimes, is that the pressure of events sometimes crushes people--turns them into empty shells. This is sad but it is a constant feature of life under capitalism. The conditions of dealing with the mass movement and the enormous pressure of maintaining an organization in the face of bourgeois ideology and opportunism--can put pressure on revolutionaries to take "shortcuts" on matters of principle. But once that happens--it's downhill all the rest of the way.

November 1997

[My correspondent had written to me: "I ... wrote ... to get your reaction to the death of Hardial Baines." This was my reply.]

It is unfortunate that Hardial died without having a chance to correct his errors.  He was only 56, I believe [wrong--he was 58].  I believe that at one time Hardial was an authentic revolutionary with a fighting spirit.  He succumbed to the pressure of charlatanism most likely because of the intense pressure to keep his organization alive and afloat in a period of enormous confusion concerning the most basic and fundamental principles of communist theory.

It is my belief that within ten years, or thereabouts, the communications revolution will have had such an impact on the interaction of activists who consider themselves to be communists--that the period of "communist confusion" will either be brought to a close--or be well on its way.

If Hardial had lived longer--he would have had to face being called to account for his charlatanism.  This can be very unpleasant and in this sense Hardial may have been lucky to escape this confrontation.  On the other hand--it cannot be ruled out that in the face of systematic public confrontation--even charlatans like Hardial can be compelled to admit their extreme errors--and persuaded to apply their energies and talents to serve the proletariat.


Wednesday morning
December 25, 1996

Hi friend,

I found your site this evening by following the link from the forum (post #23) at my own site.

I realize that you seem to just be getting started in all this. But as new as your site is--you have included what I consider to be essential features. You have links to a variety of organizations. You have a page to post the views of people who send e-mail to you.

This last feature, in particular, is very important. There are currently hundreds of pages on the web that are, to one degree or another, about or concerned with communism. The great majority of these pages post only the views of their creators, not views that are in disagreement.

As the communications revolution develops, there will be a hundred times more explicitly political web pages up than there are now. And as our "interactive culture" develops, more and more of these web sites will have links to one another and pages devoted to political discussion and the scientific clash of political views.

So you are setting a good example and if there is anything I can do to help you, from a technical or political standpoint, please let me know because sites like yours deserve encouragement.

I have a second point--one which has motivated me to write to you.

I have my disagreements with most of the organizations that you link to. Nonetheless I believe it is useful that you link to them. This is very healthy. I follow a similar policy and will create a link from my site to anyone who makes a request. This is part of modern political culture and such links do not necessarily imply agreement with the content of the site.

I was somewhat surprised, however, to see the very prominent attention given to the booklet "Modern Communism" by Hardial Bains. Today, I believe there is an interest in how communism would actually work in a modern society. This interest, most likely, led to Hardial's choice of title. But I have my own opinion of this, and of Mr. Bains.

I was going to take a quick look at his book--but he has not put it on the web. I could send him $5.00 to get his views in the form of ink smeared on dead trees--but I believe I would be wasting my money.

To be honest, I believe, even without reading the book, that it is very unlikely that Hardial Bains has anything to say.

I have some experience with Mr. Bains.

I come from an organization, the "Marxist-Leninist Party" (now defunct) that once had a close association with Hardial (we split with him around 1980). I have spent many, many hours (between 15 and 20 years ago) reading his learned (and very lengthy) tracts on the same subjects he is writing about now. I once heard him speak (in 1978) in an evening that changed my life (not his speech of course--but the fact that at the East Indian temple where he spoke the only food available to eat was LOADED with TONS of curry powder--which I had to eat because I was starving--and I discovered--to my eternal delight--that I REALLY love hot spices).

I won't bore you with the details. I have come to the conclusion that the man is a charlatan. He is fully capable of writing a single speech that would be 90 volumes in length--that would avoid saying anything. Hardial can get away with this because it is possible, in the context of the culture of ignorance in which we are all raised--for someone to con people in the name of "communism".

Here are some quotes from Hardial's self-promotion of his book:

"Important Document Explains Modern Communism ... This document presents the clear view of the essence of modern communism ... His [ie: Hardial's] publishing and political activities are amongst the most important factors enlivening the present debate on communism, democracy and human rights in Canada and the world."
Here is my opinion: Communism, as an ideology that claims to have application to the modern world, must deal with real questions that pertain to the modern world. So I pose a real question to Mr. Hardial Bains:
Will the "dictatorship of the proletariat" censor the internet ?
If Mr. Bains cannot answer this question, then he has no business acting as if he has a "clear view of the essence" of anything, much less "modern communism".

So here is what I suggest. You, presumably, have read his 90-page (this is short, for him, but I note it is part of an on-going series ...) booklet. If he has actually answered this question ... let me know. I would be very interested. In fact I will go further: if he has given a clear and understandable answer to this question in his booklet--I will not only order a copy and read it--I will put salt and pepper on it and eat every page.

I have given my own views on this in "The Digital Fire", available in full at my website. I include an extract of it here as a postscript.

I doubt Mr. Bains will be able to deal with this issue. He could, of course, easily write 100,000 words that talk around the topic without giving an actual position. But Mr. Bains will be unable to deal directly with this issue because of the internal contradictions that have been created in his career as a charlatan:

Modern communism, in modern society, must deal with the communications revolution. It must deal with the coming revolution in interactivity. Hardial, of course, is welcome to defend himself from my public accusation of charlatanism in the cyberLeninist forum. Charlatans as well as anti-communists are not censored from the forum but are welcome to expose, in the public eye, the bankruptcy of their views. All REAL communists (except those who are forced by repression to operate in clandestinity) will, in the period ahead, be getting plenty of experience defending their views in open and uncensored forums--because this is the wave of the future. And charlatans everywhere will be seized with fear when they encounter this type of "digital fire".


copy: Hardial Bains, cpc-ml@fox.nstn.ca

Postscript (an extract from "The Digital Fire"):

The proletarian state will clamp down on slick and expensive bourgeois campaigns to promote bourgeois ideology--but when these same ideas are expressed by individuals--they will be opposed not by "big brother" but by "little brother" (ie: individual participants in the various forums where ideas will appear). This opposition by "little brother" will, from time to time, be misguided, but at the same time will tend to be self-correcting. Wrong ideas, in the hands of many, will occasionally cow or intimidate correct ideas in the hands of a few--but the long term tendency in such encounters--will be for the correct ideas to "kick ass".

Hence the concept here is not that of a "bubble boy" (a term derived from certain infants born without an immune system who had to be kept in a special sealed case to be protected from all contact with germs)--but rather of a healthy immune system. The proletarian dictatorship seeks not to isolate the political, cultural and economic spheres [of society] from bourgeois ideology but rather to:

engage it decisively in thousands, millions or even billions of encounters in which the masses are actively mobilized.
The concept here, as I see it, is not one of "information isolation" but "information supremacy" which would consist of:
the hegemony of key principles in the most important and decisive public forums and centers of opinion.
Such "information supremacy" would be based on the active participation of the masses in various forms of "information warfare" (ie: the struggle of ideas fueled by the passion and the consciousness of the masses).