Nepal and India – Storm clouds on the horizon

The Spark December 2010 – January 2011

In Nepal and India, the people are rising up in revolution. Millions of people are arguing, marching in the streets and burning down police stations as they struggle to imagine and bring into existence a whole new world.

Nepal is a country where the government has almost no power. The working people of the cities and the poor peasants of the countryside have lost faith in the ability of the state to meet their needs – they have realised that the purpose of the state, its soldiers and its police, is to actively prevent their needs from being met. They have realised that the state is an enormous weapon created by a rich, parasitical elite which lives by exploiting and oppressing ordinary people.

The people of Nepal, having come to this conclusion, have decided they need to destroy the state and the ruling elite that hides behind it. They have built a radical movement for freedom and equality, and they have organised it into a powerful force – the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The UCPN (M) is the strongest political party in the country, and it is fighting to build a new Nepal where everyone is equal and where starvation, poverty and discrimination become things of the past. The Maoists won by far the largest vote in elections in 2008, and they have overwhelming mass support.

Revolution at a crossroads

The Maoist party has just concluded a very important meeting. In an area of Nepal called Gorkha, 6000 revolutionary delegates travelled to represent the millions of poor people who have put their hopes in the Maoist party. They came to discuss a question – has the time come to rise up and finish the war? Is now the time for us to bring down the government, dismantle the state and build something better in its place?

The debates at the meeting were some of the most heated that have taken place within the Maoist movement since its beginnings in the early 1990s, when they decided to launch an armed People’s War. This war ended in 2005, with over 80% of Nepal liberated by the Maoist movement and its people’s army. Since then, while the revolutionary army has accepted a cease-fire, the Maoists have expanded their movement into every city and village in Nepal.

The Maoists have attempted since 2005, when they forced the monarchy to be abolished, to write a new pro-people constitution. However at every turn their efforts have been blocked by the reactionary forces in Nepal’s parliament – the Nepal Congress and the UML party, who follow orders from India, to prevent a people’s constitution being written. They want the new constitution to entrench inequality, cement in place the power of the rich landlords and capitalists, and keep Nepal under the control of its powerful neighbour to the south. After years of trying to write a constitution, the patience of the people is running out. In increasing numbers, they are calling on the Maoist leaders to stop negotiating with the right-wing parties and take power.

Three line struggle

Three key leaders of the movement presented their views on what is to be done at the meeting. Chairman Prachanda, the party’s top leader, put forward one document outlining what he thought the movement should do. His document was challenged by two other leaders – Vice Chairman Kiran and Vice Chairman Bhattarai, who each presented their own document outlining their views on how to move forward.

Kiran is arguing that the time for a people’s revolt has come. He argues that India is meddling in Nepal and will not allow a constitution to be written, so the Maoists should stop cooperating with the parliamentary parties and should instead rely on their millions of supporters, call them into the streets and organise the people to seize power. He argues that India is the main enemy of the revolution, and that it is organising Nepali reactionaries to block the revolution. He is calling for the creation of a People’s Republic than can take Nepal towards socialism.

Bhattarai is arguing for a more moderate course of action. He believes now is not the time for a revolt – the international situation is not favourable, there are no other socialist countries that could support a revolutionary Nepal, which in his belief is too poor and backward to sustain socialism. Instead he believes the party should try to consolidate the gains made so far while attempting through consensus with the other political parties to write a progressive constitution. He has argued that the party should not label India its main enemy, and should instead focus on fighting domestic opponents.

Prachanda is arguing for something in between the two other positions. He thinks that the party should attempt to write a new constitution through consensus, but that if the reactionary forces continue to block the process the Maoists should go for a revolt. He agrees with Kiran that India is the main enemy of the party, but it is not clear whether they agree on how to combat Indian interference in Nepal.

After a week of intense debate, with the views of delegates from across Nepal and from every division of the Maoist army being heard, the party was unable to conclude the debate. Prachanda attempted to fuse all three positions together and present a unity document to the meeting, but the other two factions refused to accept this. This marks the first time in the history of the Maoist movement that a unity document put forward by the party Chairman has not been passed.

The party has released statements that it will continue to seek consensus with the other parties and write a new constitution, but that it is beginning serious preparations for a People’s Revolt if such a strategy becomes necessary. In the meantime, the debate continues.

Revolution rising in India

The struggles in Nepal must not be viewed in isolation. There is a millions-strong Maoist movement in India, where the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has built a mass movement of peasants, indigenous tribal people and the urban poor. The Maoists have built a People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army which defends the movement against the army and police, and has carried out a series of spectacular ambushes of the state forces. India is in a state of civil war – rich versus poor, government versus Maoists, and the brutal methods the Indian state is using against the revolutionaries indicate how false its claims to be the ‘world’s largest democracy’ really are. Maoist supporters in India are routinely tortured and murdered by the police, and even progressive authors like Arundhati Roy are being threatened by the police for daring to write articles that support the people’s movements.

The government of India has clearly shown it is not interested in peace. When the CPI (Maoist) recently sent its chief spokesperson Azad to negotiate a cease-fire and possible peace process, the government took advantage of the Maoists’ honesty and murdered him. His body was dumped in a jungle and the police claimed he was killed during a gun battle – however, forensic evidence has proved he was shot at extremely close range execution style, and local villagers report hearing no exchange of gunfire.

Why should we care?

In a country like New Zealand, where unemployment or low wage McJobs are the reality for most, a revolution is a hard thing to imagine. How can the working poor and the unemployed unite and take control of their communities? How can we resist the politicians, the employers and the pigs? If we look only at what’s happening in this country, such a question is hard to answer. But if we look overseas, to the mountains of Nepal and the jungles and slums of India, we see real revolution taking place. We see women demanding equality from men. We see workers demanding jobs that can feed their families and give them a decent life. We see oppressed ethnic groups and nationalities demanding that all discrimination against them ends. We see peasants demanding that the land they work on belong to them, not to a rich landlord who lives far away and only visits once or twice a year to take his share of the crop.

We see people at the bottom of the ladder standing up, fighting back and demanding that all power be put in their hands. We see them refusing to compromise and refusing to trust in treacherous anti-revolutionary politicians who have let them down time and time again. They have built a poor people’s movement with its own army that has organised itself into an unstoppable force.

We see a communist revolution – the future of humanity.

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Comments

  1. Martin Holmes says:

    1) While I am not superbly educated on the Nepali Revolution, from what I know I believe that Prachanda has the best views, as it is plain to see that India is the main enemy of a Socialist Republic in Nepal. It has dominated its politics, economy and military for years, and it should be expected to continue doing so. However, provoking a war with India without trying to make a constitution peacefully would be madness.

    I may be wrong with my views about this, but from the information I have, this is what I believe is the best action.

    2) The Indian guerrillas really are amazing. So much propaganda is said about them, so many lies are told. They say the Maoists “terrorize” the populace, and they pillage the villages under their “sham kangaroo courts”.

    I hope that both succeed in their goals. Socialism can help these people, despite what all the media and reactionaries say. These people do make mistakes, and they are not perfect – but they fight for the people. And that is good enough for me. Lal Salaam Kaamraid.

  2. I see a repeat of what has happened for the last two or three centuries. To imagine that this will lead to a better world leaves aside nationalism, tribalism and the general lust for power.

    Hooray that Maoist guerrillas kill indian troops who live in luxurious homes with gold toilets and once the marxists and Maoists gain control speech will be free just like it was under Mao’s china.

    Yes democratic India is a sham so is communist china and socialist russia. East germany was no picnic with one in seven of the population spies and the UK a perennial elitist ruling class even Bhutan is ruled by a bastard ask the Nepalese refugee’s. Welcome to our world.

    As for where the answer lies it isn’t in some slum or mountain in Nepal or in a violent death in india. The answer lies closer to home.

    First to accept that no utopia exists and that some level of inequality will always be around. The next is to stop thinking that creating a new system will some how make things better. There are only two systems, rule by the people and not rule by the people, i.e democracy or dictatorship.

    So this is were the answer is, to use our democracy in a way that inspires other people. Instead of expecting some violent revolution to lead to peace and love we need to use the democracy we have to show the world what can be done. This “revolution” is not romantic and will involve compromise with a lot more thought than gun and bomb.

    We have one of the very few democracies in the world, not perfect nothing is, so it is up to us to show the world what democracy can do. Unfortunately many forces are working to remove our MMP and reinstall a two party dictatorship so we really have one election left before we lose a chance to make a change.

    So I say stop yearning for some violent revolution, drop the repetitive slogans and innovate. We have one election so focus on what most people in this world who are at the bottom want which is equality (this covers fairness and justice) and to be free from poverty.

    If we could make New Zealand a shining example of what can be then you would change the world more than any war would (or we will be taken over by those governments that aren’t keen on rule by the people).

  3. I don’t see anyone here “yearning for” violence. The reality of life for people in places like India is that violence is a daily reality, violence in the form of direct brutal oppression and violence in the form of economic oppression leading to starvation, death through preventable illness etc. In those circumstances, people usually suffer in silence. When they don’t, when they rise up against that violence, it is an inspiration to me and a sign that a better and more just society is worth fighting for.

    I agree with you that previous attempts t build socialism have been failures. That really goes without saying. But “why” they were failures is a much more complex question than a dichomy between “democracy and dictatorship”, which are often conflated with ‘capitalism and communism”. I would not be a socialist if I saw what I was working for in such terms. I want my children to live in a better world, where inequality is being eradicated, not exacerbated, where freedom and democracy are being enhanced, not curtailed. Sure, there’s an element of “having a dream” in that, but that doesn’t make it utopian. It’s only utopian if it is divorced from a method to get there. But branding anyone who thinks bigger than yourself as “utopian” is just a recipe for accepting the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg said, we have to choose between reform and revolution, and reform inevitably leads to accepting the unjust society in which we live.

    For thousands of years, people accepted slave economies as the simple reality of life. Anyone who challenged this was a “utopian’, and violently repressed. Inequality continued. For the most part of another thousand years, people accepted Feudalism as the only way of organising society. Any “utopian” questioning of that was brutally repressed. Inequality continued.

    In the modern capitalist world, conditions for many people are infinitely better than they were for past generations. But inequality is greater than ever. Anyone who challenges that is branded “utopian” and the state will apply brutal force should those challenges become a significant threat. We have a choice. Accept the status quo and hopw to extract a few extra crumbs, or think beyond the current system of institutionalised and legitimised massive inequality and work for real change.

    The world will only become a genuinely better place when enough people are willing to do the latter.
    Cheers,
    John

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