- Mao Tse-tung
▪ The main characteristic feature of revisionists and opportunists in the history of international communist movement has been to exaggerate or idealise the immediate necessity and to minimise or negate the journey towards the realm of freedom or a communist world.
- Baburam Bhattarai
The primary contradiction within Nepal society, with its semi-feudal and semi-colonial character, has been with feudalism represented by the autocratic monarchy. US imperialism and the expansionist Indian ruling classes have till very recently been supporting it politically as well as militarily. Monarchy as an institution has been more than 250 years old, a period in which feudal social relations took firm roots in Nepal. In the mid-twentieth century, the fear of a social upsurge in Nepal similar to the anti-colonial movements of India, China and other third world countries sweeping away the existing system led the king to prop-up a ‘constitutional monarchy’ and allowed political parties to contest elections after a bitter fight, when even the now royalist NC was forced to wage an armed struggle against the monarchy and thereby to go underground. Again during 1990-91 due to popular movements some more reforms were initiated.
However, people knew that all these reforms were mere eyewash, aimed at maintaining the feudal system. Neither the feudal relations of production nor its most visible symbol the autocratic monarchy could be done away with, and the class contradictions in the Nepali society, particularly in the vast rural areas, remained as sharp as ever. The continuation of ruthless feudal exploitation is evident from the fact that the kamainyan system (bonded labour) was abolished by the king as late as in February 2000 under pressure of the rapidly advancing people’s war. It was very clear that none of the political formations including the revisionist CPN (UML) were interested in or capable of altering the existing status-quo. While the Nepali Congress was rabidly pro-monarchist, even the so-called communists settled for a peaceful coexistence with the monarchy by participating in the old state. Whatever changes have occurred from 1950 till now in the management of the reactionary state have been in essence only the in the shares of partnership in state power between the feudal, bureaucratic and comprador classes. The toiling people were craving for a total overhaul of the existing system, and the program of the CPN (Maoist) for the first time promised of such a possibility. Not surprisingly, the rejection of the CPN (UML) in this election is also a rejection of its conciliatory and pro-monarchy policy, reflected by the prostration of Madhav Nepal in front of King Gyanendra at his coronation.
Birth of CPN (Maoist) and ten years of the glorious Protracted People’s War: CPN (Maoist) rejected the path of parliamentarism and embarked on the path of capturing state power through armed struggle. On 3 February 1996 the Party submitted a list of forty demands and gave the government an ultimatum to respond positively by 17 February. Not surprisingly, the government could not respond satisfactorily to the democratic demands of the party, and the Protracted People’s War was launched on 13 February from the district of Rolpa in western Nepal. The People’s War made swift and decisive advances across the length and breadth of Nepal in the subsequent ten years, destroying the old state and its organs and creating new forms of people’s political power. Within a decade of the beginning of the civil war, the revolutionaries gained control of almost 80 percent of Nepalese territory, forcing the monarchy to retreat to the urban areas. During this period the toiling masses of Nepal endured untold oppression, and carried forward the revolutionary class struggle with the sacrifice of thousands of martyrs. According to a recent study, the Royal Nepal Army is responsible for causing more than two-thirds of the 15,000 deaths during this civil war.
Establishment of People’s Democratic Dictatorship and organs of People’s Power at local level: Significant gains were made by the revolution in destroying the existing structures of the feudal society through areawise seizure of power, building base areas, and constructing new forms of people’s government. Revolutionary village committees were organised at the local level according to the principle of democratic centralism, which paved the way for unleashing the creative potential of the oppressed masses. Through the class struggle, the dormant collective energy of the oppressed sections such as the workers, small and middle peasants, landless agricultural labourers, dalits, women, ethnic minorities and oppressed nationalities were released which went into creating the foundations for a new Nepali society. The CPN (Maoist) and PLA as vanguard of the revolution received unconditional support of the oppressed classes in its fight for the New Democratic Revolution.
The Ceasefire and the agreement with the ruling class political parties: The CPN (Maoist) identified that the immediate goal of the revolution is the abolition of the autocratic monarchy, and with this understanding resolved to isolate it from the support it was getting from the ruling class parties such as the Nepali Congress and CPN (UML). The party declared a ceasefire and entered into an agreement with the parliamentary Seven Party Alliance in 2006. The principal agreement was on the abolition of monarchy and the election to the CA. The historic 17 day people’s movement planned and led by the Maoist party further isolated the monarchy even in the urban areas, its stronghold. The king and the feudal state machinery responded by unleashing brutal repression on the unarmed masses through the mercenary RNA. The king with the backing of the US as well as the tacit support of the Indian ruling classes tried several times to sabotage the Constituent Assembly elections, but was eventually forced to concede to the new balance of power in favour of the revolution.
The present context: The results of the recently concluded elections have surprised many who were unaware of the present reality in Nepal, or those who willfully refused to acknowledge the sweeping changes that the country has undergone in the last decade under the leadership of the CPN (M). For those who have looked upto the revolution in Nepal, it is a confirmation of the revolutionary agenda. The CPN (Maoist) has emerged as the largest party, and will lead the process of writing a new constitution which is expected to take nearly two years to complete. This is not the same as taking part in a parliamentary election as has been done by CPN (UML) in Nepal or their revisionist counterparts in India such as CPI, CPM and CPI (ML) Liberation. The Indian parliamentary left’s hailing of the Nepali Maoist party’s joining the ‘mainstream’ which they called ‘terrorists’ and put in jails in India till recently, or celebrating the election results smack of utter opportunism. The CPN (Maoist) has redefined the mainstream itself through the decade long People’s War, which CPI, CPM and CPI (ML) Liberation criticised.
Being in a coalition, however, the CPN (Maoist) have expressed its willingness to work with the reactionary ruling class parties like Nepali Congress and CPN (United Marxist-Leninist), who till recently was a part of the old feudal state. The long-standing allegiance to the monarchy has established the leadership of these parties as the enemy of the toiling classes. The prostration of these parties in front of the King or the expansionist policies of Indian ruling classes has also made them the subject of hatred among the Nepali people in general. This has been amply reflected in the results of the recent election. These parties had betrayed people’s democratic aspirations repeatedly in the past and tried their best till very recently to retain the monarchy by any means. But for them too defending the old state is no longer possible. However, they would still pursue and seek to protect the interests of the feudal and the comprador bureaucratic classes, thereby trying to sabotage the process of ushering in of a new Nepal. In what waysl the revolutionary party and people of the country will fight against such tendencies in the near future will be keenly observed.
On the question of revolution in Nepal: A revolution cannot succeed until it transform the society from the realm of necessity, which is full of exploitation and repression of human beings by human beings, to the realm of freedom, which is possible only in a classless society, or in the stage of communism. The nascent revolutionary movement in Nepal is today at a historic juncture, and the path it follows from now on will have a direct impact on not only the future Nepal society but on the future of the subcontinent at large. And from the perspective of the international communist movement too, Nepal is bound to provide new lessons. The challenge of transforming the 250 year old feudal system is enormous and daunting. As for now, the goals as set by the CPN (Maoist) are to completely dismantle the old state and to establish the People’s Federal Republic of Nepal under a presidential system. Another important task is the ‘integration’ of the PLA and RNA into one single army. There is also the proposal of a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ aimed at reconciling the contradictions among the people. All these measures will have to be oriented towards meeting the expectations of the oppressed peoples of Nepal, and particularly the aspirations of the proletariat as a class. The danger of right deviation from the revolutionary path is always present in any ongoing communist movement. Therefore an uncompromising adherence by the CPN (Maoist) as the vanguard party of the working class to the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is of utmost importance.
The capture of state power through force: The debate as to its validity still continues within the communist camp. Also, whether a peaceful transition from constituent assembly to the phase of New Democratic Revolution is possible in a semi-feudal semi –colonial country is an open question. The CPN (Maoist) has participated in elections even before crushing the old state and seizing state power through armed struggle. As the history of international communist movement has repeatedly demonstrated, attempts to seize political power through parliament have decisively failed. With such experience in the past, one has to seriously introspect whether organs of the old state machinery, be parliament or constituent assembly, can be used to create a new society. Moreover, the real struggle in Nepal is not only against the autocratic monarchy, which is only one symbol of the existing feudal-imperialist structure. The task of the revolution in Nepal is not complete until the feudal forces, the imperialists, the Indian expansionists and their local compradors are completely overthrown. The adherence to multiparty competition by CPN (Maoist) as a strategy in the name of 21 Century democracy has the danger of harming the revolution in Nepal. As the CPN (Maoist) has itself pointed out in 2004 in one of its documents, “in the background of political developments particularly after the palace massacre, the idea of seeing either the monarchical or parliamentary forces of Nepal as more democratic or more nationalistic than the other, will be specially harmful and wrong.” In such a context, whether the policy of sharing state power with ruling class parties like Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) and accommodating of diametrically opposed class interests under one formation allow for the completion of the revolutionary tasks is for the future to tell. The reversal of the revolution in USSR in the phase of ‘peaceful coexistence’ with capitalism/imperialism has conclusively shown the pitfalls of hobnobbing with the ruling classes which will never agree to be in peaceful coexistence with the toiling masses for long, and will fight back at the first opportune moment. Defeat of revolutions in Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, Greece etc. and the brutal massacre of communists after the counter-revolution should be a reminder to all genuine revolutionaries.
A few more unanswered questions: Why have the organs of people’s power in the countryside such as the revolutionary people’s governments been dissolved instead of being further strengthened? Rather than building on the 25,000 strong PLA the policy adopted has been to integrate it with the reactionary and ruthless RNA who have so far been repressing the revolutionary forces with utter contempt. Can the two armies representing two opposite class interests and fighting a bloody class war till very recently seamlessly merge? Can there be reconciliation of the rulers and the ruled through any ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’? How do we understand the recent assertion by the Maoist leaders of Nepal that they will invite foreign (read imperialist) investment in order to help in the economic reconstruction? Can there be a peaceful defense against the counter-revolutionary attacks that will be inevitable when the new state in Nepal tries to redistribute land, nationalise imperial and comprador financial institutions, foreign trade, etc? We know for sure that India, as well as the imperialist countries will intervene in every manner to protect its interests in Nepal. In view of all these, are we not to be cautious of the possibility of a process of losing the gains that the revolution in Nepal has achieved till now?
This however in no way can negate the achievements of the 12 year old revolutionary struggle in Nepal, carried forward by the blood and sweat of the thousands. As Nepal enters a new phase in history, we are confident that the bitter class struggle for achieving the realm of freedom will be uncompromisingly carried forward by the revolutionary masses and its party, the CPN (Maoist).