Repost from the old site.
The news has been pretty confusing for a long time coming out of Nepal. The Nepalese Maoists laid down their guns and gave up armed struggle for a variety of reasons, after a brutal civil war in which 13,000 people were killed, 10,000 of them by the security forces.
The Maoists decided to try to seek power by peaceful means. They seem to have won 40% of the vote in the nation’s first real democratic elections. They got into power in a coalition with some other parties.
One of the first things this new government did was to get rid of the Nepalese monarchy. The next agenda was to call for a Constituent Assembly, apparently in order to rewrite the Constitution. This was their program toward the end of the war – an end to monarchy, a constituent assembly, a true multiparty democracy with the right to dissent.
They were since thrown out of power by what boiled down to a military coup. They quit the government in disgust after that, and have since been trying to bring down the coup government that sprung up in their place, with no success. Incredibly enough, one of the parties that participated in the coup is a Marxist-Leninist Communist party which has completely sold out and is now pushing neoliberalism, alliance with US imperialism and an alliance with India, which has always had neocolonial designs on Nepal.
I’ve been reading quite a few interview with these guys, especially with their leader, Prachandra. He has taken the position that Marxists need to toss out Stalin, Lenin and even Mao, or at least not follow them to the letter. He says that they all had some good ideas too, but Marxism has moved beyond them. In particular, he takes the fascinating position that modern Marxists should support full democracy.
His argument is that in Nepal, the Maoists’ program will be so popular that they hope to get re-elected over and over. It is true that this party has managed to get huge support on the ground. He also says that socialism has to be completely democratic, with civil liberties for all.
One of Prachandra’s arguments is that with the world in such a death grip of imperialism these days, Communists have to adjust themselves to that reality and try to make some sort of peace with imperialism, at least in order to survive.
This has caused quite a rift in the International Communist Movement. Most non-Maoists haven’t had much to say about it, but the debate in Maoist circles has never quit. There are supporters of the CPN-M and opponents of them.
The opponents take the line that the CPN-M should not take part in parliamentary politics (“parliamentary cretinism”, according to Lenin) and instead should have a dictatorship of the proletariat and a people’s republic. Prachandra seems to take the position that the dictatorship of the proletariat is through.
If it really is over, we can say goodbye to some of the harshest criticism of Communists for being cruel and wicked dictators who denied basic civil liberties and deliberately killed millions of people. I feel this is an albatross off the neck of the movement. Capitalism does such a great job of killing people as it is. Why should Communists be killing anyone once they get into power. Leave the killing to the capitalists. They do it so well.
The CPN-M seems now to have split into two lines – a hardline faction wanting to go straight to a people’s republic (And dictatorship of the proletariat?) and the more moderate faction surrounding Prachandra and his followers.
Prachandra has made some disturbingly pro-imperialist statements, including saying he wanted to work with the World Bank and the IMF. But maybe in today’s Nepal, if you blow off the World Bank and the IMF, you are screwed.
The people around Prachandra also want a positive relationship with China, and have taken tours to China to see Chinese socialism (or socialism with Chinese characteristics) in action.
The hardline Maoist position that China has reverted to capitalism is not correct. Chinese villagers still live much better than Nepalese villagers, and the differences are in large part due to the achievements of Chinese socialism. The countryside still retains a cooperativist and collectivist nature, and in general, private ownership of farmland is not yet allowed, although this may be about to change.
This article from a couple of years ago shows us just how much the Maoists have achieved in Nepal in the course of their revolution.
At the time, CPNM controlled 80% of the countryside in the country. The rural situation is dire because most Nepalese are cut off from trade, schools, hospitals, mostly due to the lack of roads. The monarchist regime in Nepal has had a century to build roads in the country and they have completely failed.
In an extremely sexist nation, the Maoist army had a very large number of female fighters – 40% of PLA was female. The All-Nepal Womens Association (Revolutionary) – has 2 million women members. The situation for women in Nepal is horrible -women cannot own land or vote, die 13 yrs sooner than men, and are routinely trafficked as sex slaves to India at age 10.
Prior to the revolution, land could not support the people, but due to the changes instituted by the Maoists, now it does. Previously, men had to migrate to other areas to work at day labor to survive.
The party has placed solar panels in many villages to wire them up for electricity, and has set up seven party radio stations that broadcast in different languages. Language rights is one thing that Communists have generally pushed better than most groups.
Nepali is the language of the feudal upper class (yes, Nepal still has a feudal to semi-feudal land tenure system) and languages other than Nepali are banned in Nepal for official purposes such as education. The Maoists have instituted mother tongue education and literacy classes. Literacy figures in Nepal are horrible – below 50%, much lower figures for women and in rural areas.
The Maoists have re-evaluated the many long-held Marxist tenets and are calling for a radical re-evaluation in Marxist thinking. Here’s hoping they succeed.