India’s latest terrorist attack proves the durability of communist fanaticism

It’s easy to deride communism as a morally bankrupt ideology that naturally leads to despotism and human suffering. It’s easy, because it’s easily provable. Still, communism retains durable support in certain parts of the world, and its adherents, as ever, tend to be violent fanatics.

In India, communism is inherently tied to violent extremism, such as that of the Naxalite Maoist guerrillas of eastern India. On Tuesday, these terrorists attacked and killed a member of the ruling BJP party and four members of his security detail. With national elections starting later this week, more attacks may yet be planned.

But this latest atrocity is one of many Maoist attacks over the past twenty years. And while much of the world’s attention on terrorism in India is centered on Pakistani-originating threats, the Naxalites have killed many more Indian citizens.

But how have they survived against overwhelming Indian security force pressure, with the odds stacked against them? The Maoists are motivated by the ingredients that inspired Mao Zedong’s revolutionaries in the 1927-1949 period. Namely, hatred for capitalism and individual freedom, and dedication to the purity of the collective. The purity, that is, of central organizations of peasant classes in dictating the lives of others.

The Naxalites continue to survive because they continue to persuade enough rural poor Indians to support them. While coercion plays a heavy role in the Maoist logistics efforts, in a nation that continues to struggle in giving its poorer citizens good educations, the romanticism of the communist utopia is one that still finds favor. Indian state repression of these peasants has also fostered a sense that it is the central government that is the enemy.

Where does this leave India? On a positive trajectory across much of the measures of growth and development, but also challenged. Until India, like Colombia, embraces a more intelligence-driven strategy against Marxist terrorists, and until the government can bring prosperity to all its people, the Maoist threat will continue.