After 34 years, the voters of West Bengal have given the Communist party the boot. Excellent, hurrah, etc. Socialism is a big part of what has kept India so poor for so long (as I argue here).
I have a little personal experience with these reds. On my first day in New Delhi, I was walking down the street to my newspaper office when I ran into the middle of a Communist protest of some sort: red banners, hammers and sickles, the works, as far as I could see. Must have been 50,000 people or more. Lots of angry fist-pumping. The scene was dramatic enough that the word for a protest march (morcha) is one of the few Hindi words I remember. (The rest are mostly rude.) Communists are depressing: It made me want to turn around and go home. At the office, a few desks over, was George, a very angry Communist. It being the late 1990s, I hadn’t expected to meet very many professing Communists outside of the University of Texas faculty — I thought they were just museum specimens. George came to hate me. I like to think I gave him good reason.
I’ve always liked the fact that, India being India, one Communist party isn’t enough. There’s the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and there once was a Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). The CPI(M) is the one that just got beat in Bengal. There is today a Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, and a Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War, which is an illegal party cum terrorist outfit. There’s also a Communist Party of India (Maoist). There’s the Workers Party of India, the Democratic Socialist Party, the Marxist Forward Bloc, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, and the Revolutionary Communist Party of India, too. (I prefer the two-party system, all in all.)
I’ll give this to the commies in Calcutta, though: They have a sense of humor. During the Cold War, they took to renaming streets in Calcutta, and you’ll find the U.S. consulate there on Ho Chi Minh street, formerly Harrington. (Similarly, you’ll find the Cuban dictatorship’s official outpost in New York City, just down the street from National Review, at Esquina Hermanos al Rescate, Brothers to the Rescue Corner.)