Sunday, June 6, 2010

Freedom Read Socialist Organization Statement on Nepal

Nepal is one of the most poor and economically underdeveloped countries in the world. It sits between the nations of India and China and within these conditions a broad and astonishing revolutionary movement is being developed. Beginning in 1996 the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)—also known as the Maobadi—launched a popular armed guerrilla struggle against the feudal monarchy, headed by King Gyanendra.

The Maoists based themselves initially from the remote villages of Rolpa and Rukum, following the “Protracted People’s War” strategy originally developed by Mao Zedong.  That was the defining strategy that won the Chinese Revolution, which involved encircling the cities from the countryside. The Maoists formed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which would militarily confront the monarchist forces, while revolutionary activists in the cities encouraged general strikes and talk of insurrection.

There are many notable things about this revolution that distinguish it from others, but prominently the issue of democracy, or as the Maoists call it “proletarian democracy,” has come to the forefront. After successfully building base areas and mobilizing both the rural peasantry and urban working classes, the revolutionaries of Nepal entered into a Seven Party Alliance to strip King Gyanendra of his crown, officially denouncing his position of “living god” and effectively abolishing the system of monarchy in Nepal. The Maoists have stated that they believe that the process of socialist construction should necessarily see competing parties as desirable.

The CPN(M) proceeded to construct, with the Seven Party Alliance, a Constituent Assembly which would write a new constitution for Nepal and create a new, multi-party state.  The Maoists have insisted for years—most vividly in Dr. Baburam Bhattarai’s The Question of Building a New Type of State—that socialism of the 21st century should use, among other things, democracy as a check against new ruling classes from attempting to gain power, and specifically, use “proletarian democracy” as a means of empowering the working and oppressed people of Nepal to learn to become masters of their own society.

The CPN(M) merged with existing revolutionary groups to emerge as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and participated in contested elections in the Constituent Assembly, and emerged as the clear winners of Nepal's first fair and democratic elections. Prachanda, who had previously led the revolutionary movement from the CPN(M) during the guerilla war period, in 2008 had been named Prime Minister of the newly formed government of Nepal.

This was not without contradiction. Prachanda proposed merging the former Royalist armies with the guerrilla soldiers to form a single national Nepalese army. This was highly contested by remnants of the old Royalist Army, namely from General Rookmangud Katawal which created a deep political crisis.  In order to save the fragile new Nepalese Republic, Prachanda resigned as Prime Minister.

The Maobadi have since engaged in a number of street battles in the urban areas of Kathmandu and called for general strikes, while continuing to organize among the urban poor and peasantry in the countryside.

Where the Maoists won political power in “liberated zones” they quickly began reshaping those areas both socially and physically.  They liberated women from the more odious oppressions they faced, emancipated the dalits (untouchables), and mobilized peasants and PLA soldiers to build new roadways—a source of pride for the Maoists, who call their biggest road “Martyrs' Road.”

On the global level, the government of India has for many years unfairly through treaties and contracts diverted water resources from Nepal to India. The Indian government has interests in smashing a possible victorious New Democratic revolution in Nepal. It is difficult to imagine how the meager revolutionary forces of Nepal could withstand a bombing campaign or invasion by Indian forces, and recently India has publicly positioned itself prepared to take such actions to defend its interests.

The CPN(M) has been labeled as “terrorist”  by the U.S. government as a political move to discourage the populations of the world’s poorest countries from attempting to challenge U.S. imperialist hegemony and their neo-liberal projects across the world. The Nepalese Revolution has essentially gone ignored in mainstream Western media and what has been promoted by these media sources are usually “spin” pieces, painting Nepalese revolutionaries as violators of human rights and village bullies.

This, it should be said, serves political motives of ruling forces in the West and could not be farther from the truth. The Maobadi have won popular support from the oppressed people in Nepal by taking up the demands of the most marginalized and exploited and confronting the sources of those oppressions.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has said that he has hopes that the United States will drop the CPN (Maoist) from its terrorist list and recognize the government. The U.S. has responded that it will only do so if the revolutionaries give up their right to self-defense and leave themselves vulnerable to invasion and reactionary coup.

In the complex and tenuous political terrain that has been shaped since the resignation of Prachanda from the new government, the Unified CPN(M) has declared a number of politically autonomous states. It is difficult to assess what will result from this experiment, but it is clear that the Maoists are advancing. They have seized lands and distributed them to landless squatters. It is clear they have the support of millions.

Several important lessons can be extracted from the experience of the Nepalese revolutionaries. The first and foremost of these is that a creative and flexible approach to class struggle which combines the lessons of past movements with concrete conditions, and that dynamically combined electoral mass action with protracted armed struggle, can achieve great victories.

Secondly, the Nepalese have demonstrated that a genuine revolutionary movement must be rooted in a democratic practice in order to mobilize large sections of the masses and hold themselves to the accountability of those masses and promote the agency of those masses in motion that are advancing the struggle. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, while there are important lessons from 20th Century Socialism, there exist today no pre-formulated methods for solving the problems that uniquely face every revolution – especially that of Nepalese Revolution. Revolutionaries in this country should take note and promote this struggle, all while working towards our own revolutionary movement.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization/OrganizaciĆ³n Socialista del Camino para la Libertad supports the revolutionary movement against imperialist interventions. We are both inspired and encouraged by the creative and flexible application of Marxism in such adverse conditions.

Lal Salaam! Victory to the Nepalese Revolution!

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