The capitalists also realised that unfettered exploitation of labour and unregulated markets would lead to the collapse of the system through repeated economic crises as predicted by Marx. So labour laws, market regulation, government welfare measures, elections based on adult franchise including women and some decentralisation and devolution of power were all introduced to make the capitalist system much more citizen friendly than it had been earlier. Even though, with the neo-liberal onslaught from the late 1980s there has been a roll back of some of this welfarism, nevertheless even today there is considerable space in the capitalist system for protest and redressal so that the system does not come to the brink of collapse in the developed economies. The situation in the underdeveloped economies is far worse but even there over the years a formal liberal democratic dispensation has spread and has now made its way into the middle Eastern Arab world also. Formal democracy provides opportunities to political activists from the grassroots to exercise power and share in the spoils of capitalist exploitation and this results in a constant attrition of activists from the revolutionary and radical parties to the mainstream political parties through co-option. This is the crucial difference between the time of say Marx and then Lenin and Mao, in that there is now considerable scope for expressing dissent in comparison to their time and also greater possibilities of participating in the power structure of bourgeois society. The capitalist system also uses the NGO sector to co-opt potential threats to its hegemony. Since it is not always possible to draw political activists into political parties, NGOs are used to entice them. After all why should a grassroots political activist endlessly bear the privations and tensions of fighting for justice when there is much to be gained by joining the exploiters and an opportunity is provided to them to do so. All this impedes the formation of a revolutionary class for itself. In fact formal democracy at the grassroots leads to an attrition even from the ranks of the anarchists. When non-violent social movements find it difficult to retain their vanguard it is going to be much more difficult for an armed struggle to do so.
The fact that industrial production processes have been automated so much that it is now possible to have very few regularised permanent workers in factories and farm out most of the work to smaller factories has robbed the working class of the power of the strike action. There are now millions of casual labourers in small groups whom it is very difficult to organise and then form into a conscious "class for itself" that would be able to fight for a revolutionary overthrow. Similar is the situation with landless peasants and marginal farmers. There is no way in which an armed movement can operate openly among the casual labourers and peasants. The net result is that the Maoists are forced to operate in densely forested remote areas which apart from having some natural resources are not very crucial to the Indian State. For a long time the Maoists treated these remote areas as their liberated zones but with time the Indian State and Capitalists felt the need to exploit the resources there and so began attacking these liberated zones in earnest. This has pushed the Maoists on to the backfoot as their overground organisations have all been banned and many leaders have been either killed or arrested.
There are three other main problems for Marxists in general and Maoists in particular as far as bringing about revolution is concerned. The first is that the Indian State is much more powerful militarily than say the Russian or Chinese States were at the time of the revolutions in those countries. The armed forces and the police forces too are very well cared for by the State and so have no reason to mutiny as they did in those countries. Without the armed forces rank and file mutinying there is no way in which a rag tag band of guerrillas can overthrow the Indian State. Even in Nepal where the State and its armed forces are much weaker than in India the Maoists there after waging a long battle have had to agree to participate in a liberal democracy instead of pushing for a revolutionary overthrow. Secondly armed struggle requires a huge amount of funds. Traditionally the Marxists have sourced these funds by robbing capitalists. The Bolshevik party in Russia used to be funded by the dacoities and kidnapping carried out by Stalin in the crude oil rich Baku on the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan. The Maoists have to extort from contractors, businessman and industrialists who have to operate in their remote strongholds. While this does provide them with some funds, they are nowhere like enough to finance a major attack on the Indian security forces and so all that the Maoists have managed is to carry out guerrilla warfare which will not get them far. Thirdly the compulsions of operating underground force the Maoists to run their areas through summary justice involving the killing of those they consider to be informers. They are constantly on the move so they cannot keep prisoners. Therefore, they have to execute those they consider to be informers or recalcitrants in some way or other. This alienates them from the people and in general their so called liberated zones are actually fear filled ones.
The Maoists in India take for their inspiration not the Bolshevik Revolution so much as the Chinese one under the leadership of Mao. The most important first step for the Maoists is to characterise the State because that will determine the programme of action. Classically the theory was that in the advanced capitalist state workers are just wage earners without any property and by virtue of the fact that they are working in concentrated numbers they can if they consciously organise hold up the production process through strikes and if there is a vanguard party of the workers that is also militarily organised and has infiltrated the armed forces rank and file then a revolution can take place. In situations in which the State is not a Capitalist one this becomes problematical. Mao had characterised the Chinese State of the 1930s as being semi-feudal and semi-colonial and worked out a programme of action involving the organisation of the peasants in the countryside after an initial attempt at an urban uprising of workers had failed. Now to say as the Indian Maoists do that the current Indian State is a semi-feudal and semi-colonial one like the Chinese State of the 1930s is to say the least a very obsolete characterisation. Then to go ahead and say that consequently the programme of action should be to organise the peasants in remote tribal areas to engage in an armed struggle to overthrow the Indian State because they are the most revolutionary anti-statist force is nothing short of preposterous.
Finally, there is the question of what will happen post revolution even if one does take place. If a strongly centralised party does capture power by overthrowing the capitalist dispensation then it is not subsequently going to suddenly give up its years of centralised and undemocratic functioning as a guerrilla unit and become a bottom up decentralised democratic system. That is why there is a need to think about new methods to combat centralisation which also build up practical models for the post revolutionary dispensation. The control of resources at the moment is in the hands of the capitalists and they are doing everything possible to prevent decentralisation of this control because they know that that will mean the end of their hegemony other than the minimal amount that they have themselves allowed through Panchayati Raj to keep the more articulate people at the grassroots happy. So how are the powerless to become powerful is the question that needs to be answered. Marxism has analysed the sources of bourgeois power and the contradictions that it faces very well but it has no answer to the question of how this power can be smashed in the present context where the bourgeois have some very powerful systems in place to prevent the creation of a revolutionary class for itself. Unless a credible plan of action for overcoming capitalism and establishing a more just dispensation is on offer there is little likelihood of a mass movement emerging from the shenanigans of the Maoists or other Marxists who remain stuck in obsolete moulds.
These days mostly it is only those who are affected by some development project or other who are involved in protests against the State and there is a lack of widespread mobilisation on the issue of Capitalist exploitation in general. Like it or not in the current context there is no other alternative but to use the space that is provided in liberal democracies to carry forward the struggle against Capitalism. This has to be done judiciously being fully aware of the many ways in which the Capitalists co-opt those who have the potential for posing a challenge to their hegemony.