Nepal: Revolution Reports (Prologue - Section 1)
By Stephen Mauldin at Feb 28, 2009
This is the beginning of a project of any number of posts on the revolution in Nepal. They will begin with p[rologues for background then continue with postings from Kathamandu on the present surge of revolutionary developments there. The previous posting was of articles from collected bookmarks during the last two months. In the future, such bookmark updates will be featured in an effort to keep up with the news. My plan is to next take up an analysis of the report from the International Crisis Group (ICG) on the disintegrating situation (the "non-leftist" or "non-communist" position). This will be followed by a thorough review of the debate on the situation from various communist to anarchist writers that is taking place at The Kasama Project. At some point the coverage will begin from within Nepal as anticipated. In this post I will provide a synopsis of the coverage and opinion on the revolution I have provided in earlier posts on this blog followed by some background information on the ICG and the Kasama project. Perhaps the title "Nepal: Revolution Reports" seems odd to some readers. The international press will tell you the revolution has already occurred but I believe I am not alone in thinking it is far from over.
First, I want to discuss that this entry in the blog marks a kind of departure from the former content. I have been in the past mainly focused on theoretical issues. Writing of these will continue from time to time, but the coverage of the situation in Nepal is a transition more to a greater focus on practice vs theory. In this way the content will include more day to day news coverage as well as a web journal aspect. Another practice will be to post entries as they are being developed. Often it takes me as much as a week to prepare a post for publication, so instead of waiting till the item is done I will post to the internet with a notification to readers that the posting is "in progress".
Readers should know about a well done documentary, Between Two Stones, on the Maoist revolution in Nepal that can be viewed from the Stefandav TV widget found in the sidebar to the right. Information on how to use the widget for video on demand can be read at my
. There are also 66 bookmarks and counting at my
website. My prior entries are:
- The Maoist Debate in Nepal - Part 3
- The Maoist Debate in Nepal - Part 2
- The Maoist Debate in Nepal - Part 1
Writing Part 2 coincided with a stunning development: announcement of a unified statement by the Maoist's that, although they are participating in the institution of a democratic republic, the question of a single party people's republic is to remain open. I went into some articles and opinion that were quite rancorous by those opposed to the Prachanda/Bhattarai line. The synthesis of the two sides of the debate, as I discussed, seemed a resounding defeat for these opponents. At the same time it was noted that the new position may prove problematic in garnering international support. Part 3 is to take a closer look at the positions of those advocating an immediate move to a people's republic, and also return to my thesis: the Nepal Maoist's application of theory in contradiction with practice may prove to be an event ushering in a novel phase of Maoism, a new phase in evolution of the communist hypothesis that might be the kind of event anticipated by Badiou's analysis of prior periods of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist history as indicative of needing a new manifestation of fidelity .
Part 3 opened with the synopsis of the first two parts as provided above. I then proceeded to examine a series of articles by prominent Maoists who are to lesser or greater degree suggesting a theoretical argument counter to the new government's performance, to the theory in practice as "Prachanda Path". Most interestingly,these counter-propositions were shown to be not actually as "hardline" as they have been portrayed by many. In fact, I attempted to clarify how the recent synthesis of several internal factions has occurred because the concept of "people's republic" itself has been subjected to a radical transformation. I made a presentation of 5 major points indicated by what the "hardliners" say to suggest that the Prachanda-Bhattarai line is corrupt. However, counter to such a premature conclusion was my analysis of a number articles by other prominent Maoist leaders including Kul Prasad KC "Sonam", Mohan Baidya "Kiran" and Chandra Prakash Gajurel.
Of course I would want readers to read the entire entries, but let me just conclude with a reprint of the final section of Part 3 wherein I return to the conception of the communist hypothesis and the exposition of world communism today according to the philosopher Alain Badiou:
So the block quote above is the theoretical position I follow. Also, I feel the three part series on the Maoist debate provides an adequate snapshot of the internal politics of the Maoists in Nepal. The previous post as designed, was to bring the reader up to date on the most recent developments - they suggest we are now entering into a critical period wherein internal political opposition to the Maoists along with international powers will confront the Maoists final push to establish a communist peoples republic. As I said at the outset above, I will continue to publish articles from breaking news periodically under the title "Current Nepal Maoist Bookmarks" - probably dating the entry the 15th of each month. As soon as I am able I will return to Nepal to provide coverage from there.
Is there not the idea that communism should be both egalitarian and inclusive of all people. Does it really necessarily call for the elimination of the functions of the bourgeoisie in a form that is not exploitive of others? Consider the definition of the communist hypothesis as defined by Alain Badiou that was taken up in some detail in a prior post:
"What is the communist hypothesis? In its generic sense, given in its canonic Manifesto, ‘communist' means, first, that the logic of class—the fundamental subordination of labour to a dominant class, the arrangement that has persisted since Antiquity—is not inevitable; it can be overcome. The communist hypothesis is that a different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth and even the division of labour. The private appropriation of massive fortunes and their transmission by inheritance will disappear. The existence of a coercive state, separate from civil society, will no longer appear a necessity: a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers will see it withering away."
The question remains. Will the Nepali Maoists manifest a novel form of communism in their vision of a people's republic? There is nothing about this vision that a priori precludes the possibility of revolution against the logic of class despite the obvious dangers. We are in a completely different historical period calling not for a victory of the hypothesis as it existed and ultimately succumbed in prior phases, but as it calls for practice in the context of conflict between old and new theory in the modern context - Badiou:
"In many respects we are closer today to the questions of the 19th century than to the revolutionary history of the 20th. A wide variety of 19th-century phenomena are reappearing: vast zones of poverty, widening inequalities, politics dissolved into the ‘service of wealth', the nihilism of large sections of the young, the servility of much of the intelligentsia; the cramped, besieged experimentalism of a few groups seeking ways to express the communist hypothesis . . . Which is no doubt why, as in the 19th century, it is not the victory of the hypothesis which is at stake today, but the conditions of its existence. This is our task, during the reactionary interlude that now prevails: through the combination of thought processes—always global, or universal, in character—and political experience, always local or singular, yet transmissible, to renew the existence of the communist hypothesis, in our consciousness and on the ground."
Quoting from the Wiki on the International Crisis Group:
"The ICG is considered the world's leading independent, non-partisan, source of analysis and advice to governments, and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank, on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. Its primary goals are a unique combination of field-based analysis, sharp-edged policy prescription, and high-level advocacy, with key roles being played by a senior management team highly experienced in government and by a highly active Board of Trustees containing many senior diplomats."
From the website at the other end of the spectrum:
"Kasama is a communist project for the forcible overthrow and transformation of all existing social conditions. We are open to learning, unafraid to admit our own uncertainties. At the same time, we will not shrink from what we do know: the solutions cannot be found within the current world order or the choices it provides. We are for revolution. We seek to find the forms of organization and action for the people most dispossessed by this system to free themselves and all humanity."
The writing there is well referenced and provided by a range of "socialist" thinkers who have obviously been at the study of communist theory and practice for a long time. The coverage of the Nepali revolution has been extensive - recently a sister site dedicated almost exclusively to the Maoist revolution in Nepal and the Naxilites in Northern India was started -
. Prachanda's and other's proclamations to move to the final phases of revolution has generated tremendous interest and debate there, some of which I want to share.