The most startling feature of the two official publications of the CPI on 1857 Revolt, happened to be that there, for the first time after a gap of one century, the authorship of nine unsigned articles or newsletters, which were published in a largely-circulated American newspaper the New York Daily Tribune (1841-1924) (henceforth NYDT) was attributed to Karl Marx. New Age, the political monthly of the CPI edited by its General Secretary Ajoy Ghosh, in its Centenary Special (August 1957) published four articles dated June 15, 1858; June 26, 1858; July 21, 1858 and October 18, 1858 under a neutral heading ?Articles on 1857 Revolt? and attributed their authorship to Karl Marx. At the end of the articles a note said, ?Four of a number of unassigned articles by Marx published in the New York Daily Tribune. Photostat copies were sent by the Marx-Lenin Institute, Berlin? (pp. 23-27).
In the same issue of New Age, senior Marxist historian Prof. Sushobhan Sarkar in his review article, written under the pseudonym Amit Sen, accepting the authorship of Marx as a settled fact, writes, ?Unconsciously, Dr Majumdar'schapter thoroughly vindicates Marx'scelebrated letter on the ?mutiny? atrocities written as early as September 4, 1857.? He was so overwhelmed by this ?new discovery? of Marx's authorship for the unsigned articles in NYDT, that he rushed to record his unhappiness about S.N. Sen and R.C. Majumdar for not having included in their bibliographies ?even the published notes and letters of Marx bearing on the subject?. (p. 67).
In the second publication Rebellion-1857: A Symposium its editor P.C. Joshi in his long article ?1857 in Our History? (pp. 119-222) refers to another set of four unsigned articles from the NYDT attributing their authorship to Marx. The article dated July 15, 1857 is referred to four times (fn. 23, 129, 149, 210); dated August 14, 1857 two times (fn. 3 & 20); articles dated September 10, 1857 and fn. July 25, 1858 only once (fn. 91 and 25 respectively). Joshi also claims to have received the photocopies of these articles from the Institute for Marxism-Leninism, Berlin. (henceforth IML). He is aware that these articles were published unsigned in the NYDT.
Joshi does not care to throw any light on how the unsigned articles published a century ago, had been suddenly attributed to Karl Marx.
Interestingly, in his article ?1857 Heritage? included in the Special Number of the New Age, Joshi does not make any mention of these 1857-58 articles, rather refers, at least eight times, to the 1853 signed articles by Marx published in the NYDT.
Prima facie, one gets an impression that, perhaps, the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, Berlin had embarked upon the discovery of the authorship of the unsigned articles on 1857 Revolt, published in the NYDT independently on its own. But a little investigation would show that this process of ?discovery? was started in Moscow itself. In the year 1953, Moscow published a collection of articles by Marx and Engels under the title ?On Britain?. This compilation for the first time, included articles on 1857 Revolt published in the NYDT on September 16, 1857, attributing its authorship to Karl Marx and even fixed the date of its writing as September 4, 1857. The editors of this volume nowhere explain how they could determine Marx as its author after a gap of almost a century. Before 1953, nobody in the world was aware that Marx had written any article on the 1857 Revolt. In the vast Marxian literature including biographies, reminiscences, correspondence and collection of articles etc., published before 1957, no mention is found of Marx'swritings on the 1857 Revolt.
But, our Indian Marxists were so thrilled by this new discovery that P.C. Joshi in his monthly paper India Today (started in May 1951) published this novel discovery under the title, ?Marx on Revolt of 1857? (India Today, Vol. II no. 3, p. 23 c.f. ?Rebellion 1857? (ed. P.C. Joshi, 1957, fn. 351). This was followed by its inclusion in the offical publication of the CPI, ?Marx on India? which was originally published in November 1943 as Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin Series No. 16 by the Peoples Publishing House, Bombay. That edition did not carry this article of September 4, 1857; which was included in the reprint of January 1954, Hindi translation April 1954.
Any alert critical mind would have raised many questions about this new ?discovery? but for Indian Marxists anything dished out by Moscow in the name of Marx was highly sacrosanct and final. Emboldened by this intellectual docility and lack of critical inquiry on the part of Indian Marxists, the spinmasters in Moscow and Berlin centres of the IML rushed to appropriate many unsigned articles on 1857 Revolt published in the NYDT and to attribute their authorship to Marx and Engels. To put a stamp of official sanction this material was first included in the multivolume Russian second edition of The Collected Works of Marx and Engels, which was launched in 1955 at Moscow.
As the next step Moscow published in 1959 an English edition of a collection of the articles by Marx and Engels under the title ?On Colonialism?. In this official publication as many as thirteen articles from the NYDT on 1857 Indian Revolt were included with Marx and Engels as their authors.
Again, the publishers of this anthology don'tbother to explain how the authorship of these unsigned articles was determined. The Publishers'sNote simply says, ?When a national revolt against British rule broke out in India in 1857, Marx and Engels … came out with a series of articles in the NYDT. Some of these articles have also been included in this collection ?It further says, ?The articles from the NYDT are reproduced in this collection in accordance with the newspaper texts… Articles which appeared in the NYDT without a heading have been supplied titles by the ILM of the CC of CPSU. In all cases where the NYDT editors inserted their own passages into the text of Marx and Engels articles, these were deleted since they do not belong to the authors.?
On what basis did the editors identify the interpolated passages? Did they have the original texts written by Marx and Engels with them? If so, where was the need of reproducing the articles. ?in accordance with the newspaper texts?? No Marxist intellectual cared to raise such questions. So the process of ?discovery? galloped further.
In 1959, a separate collection of Marx and Engel'swritings on India was published from Moscow in Russian, and was immediately followed by an English edition under the attractive title ?The First Indian War of Independence, 1857-59. While the earlier title ?On Colonialism, carried only 13 articles on 1857 from the NYDT, this number in this new publication got inflated to 28 articles published in the NYDT between July 15, 1857 and October 1, 1858. In addition to these articles six letters exchanged between Marx and Engels are also included in this anthology. Here also the Publishers? Note asserts, ?Certain sentences inserted by the edtiors of the daily Tribune and obvious misprints have been eliminated?. How was it done? No answer. Interestingly, this book gives the date of publication of every article in the NYDT as well as the date on which that articles was written by Marx or Engels in England e.g. the article published on July 15, 1857 was written as June 30, the one published on August 4, 1857 was written on July 17, 1857. Obviously, it was easy to get the date of publication from the NYDT files but from where did they find the dates of the writting of the articles?
The process of discovery does not stop here. In 1968, Shlomo Avineri, a communist of Jew origin, edited and published in America, a new anthology under the title, ?Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization (Doubleday and Company, New York 1968). He added two more unsigned articles from the NYDT (dated April 5 and 26, 1858) to the list of articles attributed to Marx. Avineri claims in his Preface, ?all the material included in this volume has been printed accordingly to the photostats of Marx'soriginal articles as published.? (p. ii) Did he have the photostats of Marx'soriginal articles or did he strictly follow the next printed in the NYDT? We leave it so be discussed later.
As the next step in this journey of ?discovery? we need to consider a recent publication ?Karl Marx on India? edited by Iqbal Hussain of Aligarh Muslim University and financed by the ICHR with a hefty publication grant of Rs. 75000 received by Prof. Irfan Habib himself. It conceive to introduction by Irfan Habib a 23 years old article by Prof Habib titled ?Marx'sPerception India? an Appreciation by Prabhat Patnaik the two of prominent CPM intellectuals.
Its copyright is with Aligarh Historians Society, a creation of Irfan Habib and is published by Tulika Books Delhi, 2006) a commercial venture run by the same nexus. Its high priced Rs 495 in the light of a liberal grant of Rs 75000 from the ICHR, is clear courageous. What a curious mix of ideology and communication. According to the Editor, Iqbal Hussain, ?Prof. Irfan Habib suggested the project and has vetted the entire final text. The Indo-US Education Foundation (with the collaboration of the UGC) made possible a trip to the US in 1990 and so enabled me to use the NYDT files.? (Acknowledgement, p. xi). In preparing this compilation, the editor has made use of the latest enlarged edition of the Collected Works of Marx and English (Moscow 1975-2005). In the Appendices, (pp. 235-253) he reproduces four new unsigned articles published in the NYDT as leading articles?one in 1853 and three in 1857-58. Though the editor suppresses his temptation of attributing them also to Marx, but who knows about the future? This only suggests that there still remains much unsigned material on the 1857 Revolt published in the NYDT waiting to be appropriated by future communist spinmasters. What a leap forward from article in 1953, to 9 in 1957, to 13 in 1959, to 28 in 1968, to 30 in 1969, 34 in 2006 and possibly to many more in the coming years.