Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some research issues in contemporary revolutionary movements: the context of Nepal

by Mukti Nepal

The context of Nepal :

Nepali revolutionary movement has been widely accepted as an exemplary movement in the application of Marxism today. It has passed through decades-long educational/preparatory/nonviolent movement and recently through a decade-long violent movement. For the last five years, since the communist party of Nepal (Maoist) entered a Peace Deal (confinement and dismantle of the revolutionary army and participation in the mainstream politics through the promulgation of a new constitution and through the abolition of monarchy) in the mediation of the United Nations and the government of India, the movement looks to have become relatively stagnant.
During this peace period, the CPNM has tried to bring political economic changes through a top-down approach. During this period, CPNM established itself as the largest ruling party in the country, ran the government for less than a year and voluntarily got out of the government owing to the issue of insubordination by the old monarchy-oriented army. The government led by this party was able to remain free from corruption charges and was able to bring minor but pro-people changes in the education and health sector and to give a significant relief to some farming population (freed from the outstanding bank loans, for an example). It was not, however, able to institutionalize structural changes nor was able to make people feel significant changes in the economic life. It was largely also not able to withstand the pressure from the opposition to return the properties (the land and houses) seized during the violent Peoples’ War, nor was able to even keep its grassroots parallel government structures established during the violent War. On the other hand, it appears to be able to save part of its militia in the form an organization called the Young Communist League. However, be it in tactical terms, the party does not seem to be able to defend the legitimacy of the violent War in the official papers or peace agreements and examples exist to blame the party leadership not to be adhering to some traditional concepts and jargons of Marxism Leninism Maoism. This non-adherence has been reflected in various speeches, writings and even in the draft constitution submitted to the constituent assembly by the party. The party is claiming to establish a new model of revolution.
Currently, the country has failed to promulgate a “legitimate” constitution. The fact that many reformist and the reactionary parties in the parliament have opposed even simple issues (that serve the interest of the national bourgeois and the mid class) proposed by the CPNM in their draft constitution submitted to the constituent assembly shows the country will fail to promulgate any progressive constitution in the stipulated time. The revolutionary image of the CPNM has deteriorated and the CPNM is gradually being sidelined by the opposition. Ordinary people have great difficulties in making a living and are seeking for revolutionary changes in the economic life. The party cadre at large is striving for a revolutionary path to respond to the need of the people and the party and is putting huge pressure on party leadership. The party leadership has responded to this pressure by organizing nationwide party conferences in Balaju in 2006, in Kharipati in 2008 and in Palungtar in 2010. In all these conferences, a great majority of higher level cadres of the party is reported to be urging for a revolutionary path and a revolutionary capture of the central state power.  This way, the party as a whole, is struggling between its characteristic existence, revolutionary mission and tactics of capturing the central state power. The convergent end of revolutionary seizure of the central state power has consistently faced divergent opinions in the leadership about the means—whether top-down or bottom-up approach to gain the control over the state power or if a mixture, in what proportions; whether violent or nonviolent, what economic programs, etc, etc.

 The context of the research issues: 

The CPNM had entered the peace process temporarily 5 years ago when it could not capture the heavily fortified central state power (it had captured the 80% of the peripheral state power or territory, the rebellions were in offensive strategy and was assessed by many military powers as a movement which could not be defeated militarily) apparently with the aim of regrouping and urban preparations.  Before the peace process, the domestic reactionary force was virtually defeated. The domestic reactionaries were heavily supported with weaponry and trainings by regional and global imperialist powers. In this sense, the obstacles of Nepali revolution were the imperialist military powers. Given this fact, the future of Nepali political revolution (not necessarily economic or political economic revolution) was heavily determined by objective and subjective power balance between the regional plus the global imperialist powers versus regional plus global revolutionary powers. In fact, the divergence in opinions in Nepali revolutionary leadership about the means of revolutionary state power seizure and the nature of revolutionary economic programs and state power was/is rooted in the evaluation of this power balance, and which, I think, should be an issue impacting various  revolutionaries or revolutions globally.

The research issues:

The divergence in opinion about the issue of evaluating this power balance has now become the issues of line struggles within revolutionaries.  It has been reflected in various forms:
  1. The issue of difficulty/possibility in making revolution successful and lasting in a single country, 
  2. The issue whether the nature of imperialist power has changed substantially and whether or not it has affected or shifted the power balance, 
  3. The resultant issue of principal contradiction, 
  4. The nature of economic programs and state power, 
  5. The issue of revolutionary solidarity.  
In addition, the method adopted to generate thoughts in the party and across-parties has also a big influence in the future of revolution in any country and should be a part of research agenda as to how to strengthen this process.

The evaluation of imperialist power and the possibility of revolution in a single country:

Some comrades believe that the nature of imperialist powers has changed substantially enough to shift the power balance or to make them too strong in power in today’s globalized economy. They argue that the industrialized countries, for example the G20 alliance or whatever, have formed globalized networks such as various multinational agencies to run their businesses. They further argue that when revolutionaries hit one of the networks, it would hit all the reactionaries of partner countries in alliance and, consequently, the revolutionaries will have to face a united and a strong resistance from the reactionary alliance.  This resistance may, at times, make the attack counterproductive to the revolution. Even if the revolution is made, it is very difficult (or imply to say almost impossible) to sustain it.  It leads them to a conclusion that a single country will hardly, if not impossible, make a revolution successful unless revolutionaries are well established in power in one or few countries as supporter of the revolution or, at least, there is a strong counter (regional or global) alliance among the revolutionaries. This belief further leads to conclude that revolutionaries should not launch decisive fight unless such counter alliance or support is in place. Or, in other words, this model can misjudge the maturity of the objective and subjective conditions in the name of waiting till all preparations are in place. Actually, this paradigm can even lead to a never-adequate state as discussed below under revolutionary solidarity.
This negative attitude towards the strength of revolutionaries and over-estimation of the reactionary power is not any new. No revolution in history was free from such pessimism. The fact that revolutions are the product of physical needs of the people/society and also the truth that people are the strongest force in the power balance easily negates these pessimist views in theoretical sense. However, in the practical sense, the new logic like the  ‘time difference since world war II or the cold war’ since the works of the great Marx or Lenin or Mao or others and the ‘globalized context’ of the power balance needs some concrete researching to find out the contributing facts, if any. Further, it is a must to assess the power balance for a given situation as there are times when power balance may not be favorable or some special tactics may be needed to produce a conducive environment needed for the desired chemical equation to take place.  Researchers are encouraged to cite factsfrom across various regions or countries in this connection to not only boost the morale of revolutionaries but also to enable them assess the situation accurately and precisely. The same logic may apply to the assessment of principal contradiction or for the determination of a right economic programs and state power policies for a given country or situation.

The issue of determining the principal contradiction:

                The issue here is again the evaluation of the imperialist powers as they appear as hindrances to the revolution in a certain part of the globe. The imperialist powers may be national, regional, or global depending on the country concerned waging the revolution. In many instances, the global powers have alliance with the regional or national reactionary powers. Nobody has so far argued for not fighting with those reactionary powers that come to save the national reactionary power. But the argument is in the definition of the coming. Some comrades are arguing, referring to some quotations of Mao, that foreign powers could be a sole or part of target of revolutionaries only when they intervene militarily or invade militarily. Otherwise, the main target should be the domestic reactionaries and the revolutionary activities must concentrate on domestic democracy, not national sovereignty movement. To them, the weaponry and technical support to the military is NOT a military invasion or support as opposed to what Mao has cited in the same work listed above.
In addition to the identification of reactionary political powers hindering the revolution, the other research agenda have been the identification of the representative or courier force of the foreign powers within the country and themethods used by the reactionaries to exploit the masses.   Researchers are encouraged to cite facts across various regions or countries in this connection to help revolutionaries identify the right target and the right economic programs.

The issue of the nature of state power:

The issue related to the state power is whether revolutionaries need to continue the classical concept of class dictatorship—in which situation peoples’ dictatorship or proletarian dictatorship and in what form? What about the pro-feudalist or pro-imperialist parties in the less-industrialized countries and what for the pro-capitalist or pro-imperialist parties in the industrialized countries (i.e., whether they should be given the opportunity to enjoy the same level of freedom to participate in the polity or not)? What about the concept of free competition-based socialism as advocated by some revolutionaries? How to ensure the security of rights to no-exploitation (or negligible exploitation depending upon the stage of development of capital) of the value of surplus labour as defined by Marx and the rights to governance of labor by the laboring masses/class before the initiation of such competitive socialism?  How to differentiate between class finesse and class integrity in the present day situation in the industrialized and less industrialized countries (particularly in the context of participation in the government or the parliament)? If a mixture of top-down (bring changes from participating in the mainstream polity) and bottom-up (bring changes by organizing people forcefully at the grassroots level) approach is recommended, what would determine the proportions and focus in a given country? What specific recommendation do you have about the future of the revolutionary army in the case of Nepal ?

The issue of the nature of the economic programs:

                Owing to the misevaluation of strength of the imperialist powers, some revolutionaries have started to argue that they cannot escape from the imperialist economic web and will have to be a part of the market economic web. Some of the revolutionaries have flatly rejected the possibility of closed-economy as was practiced during Maoist-China or present North Korea . Some others are not envisioning the possibility of practicing even a protective economy, given the pressure from the imperialist powers. Many of them have not seen the future of international trade with non-imperialist countries. Within the countries, many comrades are reluctant to declare the ownership patterns (which one is dominant—private or public) of the means of production and services. They are keeping silence deliberately over the issue of regulating the extent of private profiteering and capital reproduction/accumulation. Many revolutionaries are serving the interests of mainly the midclass, not the laboring class. Real revolutionaries need clarity as to whether the above practices are revolutionary or not and information on the above issues from imperialist, capitalist and non-capitalist countries would be helpful to guide revolutionaries. 

The issue and nature of revolutionary solidarity

                Non-imperialist alliance has existed since long even though it is not that functional after the end of cold war. Reformists and revolutionaries have also made some efforts to build solidarity among like minded groups and raised voices, though not that loud most of the times, against imperialist invasions. Irrespective of the angle and intent, the stress on the need of revolutionary solidarity by various groups makes the importance of solidarity obvious. I have observed two major short comings in this solidarity: (1) it has not significantly addressed the regional imperialist behaviors such as expansionism, hegemony, unjust treaties, disrespect to international laws to rights to international trades, etc. and (2) the protests have been limited to the ethical sides of invasion, occupation, intervention to internal affairs or democracy by the imperialist powers but the economic exploitation part has been least exposed and protested. Since imperialism is a developed stage of capitalism, the protest of parties that practice capitalism or encourage capitalist exploitation at home (or are followers of imperialist powers in one way or other) cannot effectively conclude the anti-imperialist movement at home or globally and the real revolutionaries need to take the lead in this movement with a program to also expose, protest and get rid of imperialist economic exploitations and military invasion (be it directly or indirectly) and occupation. Researchers are encouraged to find facts how imperialist powers (global or regional) are exploiting the victim countries and people economically and how those exploitations are illegal (and immoral).

The thought process and interactions:

                Here the issues are internal party democracy, inter-party interactions and subjectivity in most of the idea generation processes. Nobody can doubt on the usefulness of internal party democracy in idea generation and synthesis. Healthy line struggles, regular party conferences involving bottom layer cadres and regular interactions with society at large at home and with parties and societies abroad will certainly open up new avenues of overviews,  ideas, and thoughts. In most of the cases, so far, globally, syntheses are based more on subjective inputs (like opinions, etc.) than objective inputs (facts, cases, lessons learned, best practices for wide environments). I encourage researchers to present facts and figures and draw generalizations based on facts to direct the revolutionary movements to a less time consuming, cause less losses and to correct the revolutionaries in time for going to right programs and policies.  Researchers are encouraged to suggest better ways to improve the objectivity and relevance of ideas and thoughts.

To wrap up:

I think, not all go a wrong way intentionally; in most cases, lack of exposure to right information and methods might lead right people to wrong ways. Revolutionary researchers (or educators) have a great role in freeing human kinds from injustice, humiliation and under-productivity by exposing people to right information and methods. If revolutionary researchers judge things on the basis of lasting improvements in the life of the majority people (which includes the laboring masses) and draw from sizeable facts and figures, they would be drawing right generalizations and follow the right path.

I think, answers to the questions listed above (you may add more if you think are relevant) are going to affect the lines of many revolutionary parties in many countries including Nepal . The sooner these parties are fed with right information, the higher the chances are for bringing changes for the needy people in less time and efforts and with less losses and the quicker the people can enjoy the fruits of changes. The precedence of successes in few countries will have multiplier effects on revolutions in other countries too. So your little effort to find the answers will have a great chain effects!

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