Revolution Reports from Nepal - 4
By Stephen Mauldin at Apr 30, 2009
Revolution Reports from Nepal 4
I continue to point to a gap in the number of interpretations of the theory and practice of the Maobadi in present conditions in Nepal. I think these interpretations run the gamut between two camps of belief. One pre-supposition is that the Maobadi are fostering what will be a liberal federal republican constitution endorsed by referendum; that there is to be a multiplicity of previously disadvantaged groups who will have the unencumbered power to form the New Nepal - a newly formed government not dictated to by the Maobadi but protected by them from imperialist and feudal exploitation. The opposite pole of the continuum pre-supposes the Maobadi are intent on capturing state power and imposing totalitarian order, imposing on the multiplicity of groups not what that democratic government might do but what the Maobadi and their international friends want that government to do. I support a viewpoint that bridges a gap between these two general systems of belief, a viewpoint that re-affirms the intentions of the Maobadi to enable a New Nepal strictly under the power of its people.
I am going to follow a certain strategy in arguing a line that goes counter to both the prevailing poles of thought. The various parties and factions, and individuals within those parties and factions, are describing the same basic facts. How they describe them reveals the nature and extent each adheres to one of the general beliefs about the Maobadi. I will suggest another way of looking at current events that indicates the Maobadi tactics adhere to a strategy of fostering the power of the people. At the same time however, there is still a big question in my mind about the revolutionary intent of the people other than the PLA or party activists. Is there enough revolutionary intent in enough revolutionary subjects to be sufficient to actualize the communist hypothesis?
Complications in the Maobadi Camp
The pro- Maobadi support Prachanda. He is in a difficult position between maintaining support from a multiplicity of factions, while cultivating international support and at the same time satisfying the more aggressive agenda of some of the other leaders of the UCPN(M). As one of the local writers, Maila Baje in the Peoples Review put it, Prachanda “sits atop a creepy coalition”. The UML uses every struggle between the Maoist Party and any other party or group to negotiate an increase in their own power. The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) exerts pressure for decisions that favor their regional agenda. Prachanda’s pressures in-house have been from Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa aggressively pushing for the army integration with tactics like firing Katawal, from Babaram Bhattarai’s unbridled tirades against the reactionaries; and from within the Party hierarchy but outside government, the influence of C.P. Gajurel and Mohan Baidya supporting closer ties with China and a more aggressive line for taking state power. The maverick Matrika Yadav and his re-formed CPN (M) meanwhile claims Prachanda is more interested in his international relations than in the needs of the Nepali people.
Indian and Chinese Influence on the Maobadi
Ties with China and with India complicate any rapid progress in writing the constitution. Matrika Yadav visited China before his formal break with UCPN (M). MJF leader Upendra Yadav, also Foreign Minister was hosted by the Chinese who pledged support for the MJF. UML Chairman Jhal Nath Kanal is in Beijing as we speak. Prachanda is set for a forthcoming visit during which it is beginning to be touted he will sign a Peace and Friendship Treaty with the Chinese. At the same time, ties with the Indians are rooted in the support they gave to forming the Seven-Party Coalition and paving the way to the current Maoist leadership of the government. If the Indians withdraw endorsement of the 12-Point Agreement this undermines the peace process significantly and even the Royalists get back in the picture.
The relationship with the Indians deeply involves the relationship of the National Congress with the Indians. It was through the efforts of NC President Girija Prasad Koirala that negotiations between the parties in New Delhi were made possible. Now that the Maoists are beginning to stall in the process of integrating the Army and have been unable to effectively govern as yet or move the agenda for writing the constitution (for all the reasons above), the NC and the UML united as a political class have begun plotting an alternative government while understanding prospects for regaining control of the government may be impossible given the Maoists own the republican agenda. Meanwhile, the Indian influence on and relationship with the NC employs the NC in pushing for a revised and updated treaty with India before Prachanda goes to China.
The Maobadi as Evil
The belief that the Maoist intention is to smash the state and take over state power results in the Maoists being painted evil in every instance by those who believe this would be a catastrophe. Whether it is believed evil or tactical the fact is the Maoists have a long history of means being justified by ends. They had a cooperative relationship with the Crown by which in part they ended the monarchy. The insurgency from the beginning was fueled by the Maoists parlaying anti-Indian sentiment into support and yet it was to the Indians they turned to broker the 12-Point Agreement. The Maoists have previously pointedly criticized Chinese “communism” and now Prachanda holds the Chinese card in his hand to see what renegotiation of the 1950 agreement with India might be placed on the table.
Some put forth the argument, and it makes sense, that the NC even with the partnership of the UML would have an even far more difficult time trying to govern. Among the Maoists is the assertion that even if the UML left the government to join NC opposition then Maoist government would simply continue as a minority government. Or worse as far as the NC is concerned, the Maoists leave the government. There is some irony in that the NC assertions the Maoists want to smash the state and take unilateral state power results in their not putting anymore pressure on the Maoists than necessary. They believe pushing them too much into a corner could result in what they want to avoid most – better to keep the Maoists failing in place till the time is ripe to appeal to the voters. Insurrection is only one side of the Maobadi sword; the other would be abandonment and insurrection.
I have pointed out the several conditions that severely curtail the Maoist led government from functioning (they haven’t even been able to organize spending of available funds on relieving the problems of the people let alone make sufficient progress with the CA). What they have accomplished has been gained through assertive moves that are interpreted by the opposition as unilateral exercise of authority. They insist they essentially have veto power on the new constitution based on the numbers. They are installing only Maoist supporters throughout the state organization. They are working very hard to promote an understanding and allegiance to the revolution. Perhaps most threatening to those who disbelieve in the revolution is that the Maobadi are always ready to exchange peaceful development towards their goal for war if necessary. Not just the PLA but also the YCL and the members of the many unions stand ready to launch an urban revolt along with a remobilization of bases in the hills.
The Maobadi make a clear claim, from the beginning to end, that the ultimate goal is to exercise a dictatorship of the proletariat and eventually have a communist society with no class division controlling the state, which is to be an administrative entity for carrying out of peoples will (and so not a state in the proper sense). This objective is proclaimed to be a totalitarian intention by the reactionaries who point to unbridled violence among the cadre and corruption in the Maobadi led government as evidence of what will be. The business community says they are still giving “donations” to the Maoists. The press reports intimidation by the Maoists. Detractors insist the Maobadi claim to ensure civilian supremacy over the army is just an excuse to take the NA out of play in obtaining full state power, not for the people but for the Maobadi. Widespread criticism of Home Minister Gautum has emerged inasmuch as the clampdown on criminal activity is seen to be focused on soft targets, from where monetary gains are available – best examples the casino and other “entertainment” businesses.
So what is the Truth?
Gautam’s response points to something important. He says the government alone cannot improve the security situation, that people should adopt “self-security measures”. The important thing suggested here, I assert, is that the government alone can’t do anything. Those who support the Maobadi accept that the poor performance of the government and the loss of security is a result of reactionary intervention, that multiparty cooperation will be required to establish “New Nepal”. The support of the Maobadi is based on a collective dream where each element of the multiplicity envisions a New Nepal possessed of characteristics that remove the particular oppression of that element; that party, person, ethnic group, regional group, economic group, labor group and so on. So support for the Maobadi is support for a new country of course, but it’s support for a new government defined by a new constitution to meet disparate grievances through the operation of a new state in which the balance of power is shared by the participating elements, including all interests of civil society. Belief in the Maobadi is that they will foster this development.
The reactionaries expect the security situation could be quelled by martial law and if the people would give them the mandate government performance could be restored and improved with political democratic power sharing and even civilian supremacy over the military. This way the NC and the UML can find common consensual agreement in building New Nepal with all democratic elements. The reactionaries are rooted in the belief that the Maobadi seek absolute power and dictatorship by the party. From this belief, they tell the people all they will get is what the Maobadi says they can have. They say civil society and the other parties must avoid the control of the Maobadi or the Constituent Assembly will not have a consensus of agreement in writing the constitution. Instead they will get the Maobadi plan for the questions of federalism, ethnic nature of the state and regulation of authoritarianism and what constitutes exploitation.
But what if the Maobadi are in fact communists? I mean, what if there is a gap in fully understanding the communist hypothesis in the range of political actors involved other than the Maobadi themselves? What if this gap is manifest in the balance of the Maobadi supporting population in that they do not anticipate a withering away of the state in New Nepal? What if the reactionaries are wrong or duplicitous about the Maobadi hunger for autocratic dictatorship – that is they either are hiding they know they are an oppressor class and fighting to avoid their logical exclusion from a communist society, or they reject the egalitarian maxim, reject communism as utopist, believing that as things get a lot better for me they will also get somewhat better for those who chose to work for the salary I will pay.
The Maobadi plan, the practice of their theoretical stance clearly calls, with the blessings of Lenin, for stripping the reactionaries of their standing army. Otherwise the necessary social resurrection is impossible. This is to pave the way for the oppressed masses to establish a new state. The Maoist conception of this new state is quite specific and resurrects for novel application in the Nepalese context what Mao called “democratic centralism”. In a state where power is shared by different masses of oppressed it is possible that mutual aid can be established; that is part of the concept. At the same time the multiplicity participating in the democratic body must, in the communist hypothesis, establish a classless society by thoroughly eliminating the reactionaries on the basis of eliminating any and all exploitation. It follows, that with no ruling class the function of the state is no longer a state proper in which a majority party operates its will on the people with the people’s “consent”. The people are then self-managing in their particular social and economic situation. The Maobadi invoke the model of the Paris Commune and Lenin’s Soviets. The administration of the state service functions is to be a matter for public service employment not accompanied by powerful elitist political players.
What Should the Folks Do?
Since I have chosen to put my faith in the version of the Maobadi actually attempting a new 21st century communism by carrying out the unfinished Maoist enactment of dictatorship of the proletariat by a democratic centralist interim government, my main suggestion is there needs to be a massive ideological campaign. The Maobadi, given their objectives as I see them, will need to face the same forces that have curtailed revolution in the past. Within the new government coalition will be compromises on points of application of federalism, land reform and many other questions of distribution of resources. There needs to be engagement of capitalist modes of production while not practicing exploitation, particularly in projects with foreign investment or funding. The accumulation of wealth and structure by deposed class oppressors will remain in the picture along with their international relationships.
If the Maobadi are going to be the vanguard of future communism they need to awaken as many people as possible to the need to strip those representing the oppressor classes of their power. At the same time, internal vigilance will need to be enhanced, the masses have to be awakened to a level of selflessness required to curtail purely self-interest. It needs to be an expansion from the existing individual social situation. If the UCPN (U) is unable to motivate enough of their own to embrace the concept of pure socialism then the class octopus lives. Much of the Maobadi support needs to fully grasp where the party wants to lead them.
What the reactionaries should do is keep doing the same as they are. Whether they remain and flourish in their power depends, as it does for the Maobadi, on the masses of people. Obviously their ideological apparatus is already in full swing. If the people fail to eradicate imperial and feudalistic oppressor classes because they have not bridged the gap in their understanding of communism, then those who say it’s a utopian dream and those who simply reject the egalitarian maxim will remain and regain, and regain.
When however, perhaps the time comes when enough of the people are capable of communism, then it will be seen by the reactionaries that it has been the truth and they too will bridge the gap in their understanding. OK, some might.