Revolution #200, April 22, 2010

On the Critical Crossroads in the Nepal Revolution, and the Urgent Need for a Real Rupture with Revisionism

Observations by a Supporter of that Revolution
From a Communist Internationalist Perspective

Editors' Note: In Nepal, beginning on May First major demonstrations of Maoists (Unified Communist Party of Nepal [Maoist]) and their supporters have taken place centered in Katmandu in support of the demand that the current Prime Minister step down. A general strike lasting six days halted commerce, shut down schools and businesses and blocked transportation, and was then called off. The question of who is going to be in charge of the government is still sharply posed as the deadline for writing a new constitution, May 28, is fast approaching.  There is no prospect of a new constitution being agreed upon in that timeframe, and a new people’s movement has been called by the Maoist leadership in an attempt to put pressure on the other political parties to let them take the reins of government. Forces on all sides are tensely anticipating what will happen. It is not clear what the outcome of this contestation of strength will be in the coming days.  This article, “On the Critical Crossroads in the Nepal Revolution, and the Urgent Need for a Real Rupture with Revisionism,” was written before these latest developments, but it remains extremely relevant to this current juncture when the UCPN(M) will be weighing what course to take.

In studying important sections of a recent Resolution of the Central Committee of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)—UCPN(M)*—I was struck by the argument in this CC Resolution that, in the particular circumstances of Nepal, where the current political and governmental process, including the writing of a new Constitution, have resulted from the people's war and the mass movement against the monarchy that was led by the UCPN(M), this process is now favorable to the UCPN(M) and the revolution, and is unfavorable to the reactionaries. In fact this document (CC Resolution) goes so far as to argue that the reactionaries cannot achieve their objectives through this process while (it seems this Resolution is saying) the UCPN(M) and the revolutionary forces can do so.

Thus—to give this argument its "very best" interpretation—by persevering in this process, and further establishing itself as the most consistent representative and fighter for a Constitution that embodies the interests of the people (and supposedly the content of the new-democratic revolution), as well as for civilian supremacy over the military and for national sovereignty, the UCPN(M) will be able to outmaneuver the reactionaries, including the reactionary forces at the head of the army (Nepalese Army), and in the event of a reactionary armed revolt and/or attack from foreign interventionists (in particular India), the UCPN(M) will be able to split the Nepalese Army, winning over at least much of its ranks (including those that have been integrated into it from the People's Liberation Army [PLA], assuming that integration proceeds) while at the same time rallying a broad united front in society, to carry the new-democratic revolution forward to victory, laying the basis for advancing on the socialist road.

Again, this is giving this argument its "very best" interpretation. But, even doing so, it must be said that this whole outlook and approach is full of, and in fact is based on, classical revisionist illusions.  As a basic point of method, it ignores (or discounts) the general dialectical materialist understanding that things can, and often do, turn into their opposite—and specifically how this has frequently occurred when revolutionary forces have been drawn into the dynamics of electoral/constitutional processes, without smashing and dismantling the old, reactionary state, and the whole way in which the dynamics of such a process sap and rob the revolutionary forces of their initiative and strength. (My sense of this has been reinforced by reading some analysis, done in the service of imperialist strategic thinking, on how to derail and ultimately defeat people's wars in the Third World—and in particular the emphasis such analysis gives to the importance precisely of drawing the erstwhile armed insurgents into the electoral-constitutional framework and dynamics.) 

Even if it were to be the case, in the specific conditions of Nepal today, that the reactionaries became restless and impatient with the course of things—even if they felt that the continuation of things in the current governmental/constitutional framework were not leading things in a direction favorable to them, and therefore they had to bring an end to this process through some kind of coup/military action (which has happened in situations of this kind when other parties have proceeded on a course similar to that now being taken by the UCPN(M))—it seems unfortunately clear that the orientation and approach of the UCPN(M) would leave them without any real means of dealing with this, and that the outcome would be one where they would be smashed and decimated.

This whole orientation and approach of the UCPN(M)—again, even giving this its "very best" interpretation—ignores (or discounts, in the name of the particular and supposedly unique circumstances of the situation in Nepal), a vast amount of historical experience where attempts at this kind of (revisionist) strategy have led to disastrous results for the revolutionary forces.  Indonesia in 1965—where a numerically strong and politically influential Communist Party was essentially annihilated by a reactionary onslaught, carried out by the Indonesian army with the direction of the American CIA, in which somewhere between half a million and a million people were massacred—is perhaps the most devastating, but by no means the only, such instance.

It seems clear that, in the situation of Nepal now, it is correct to seek to rally broad forces against foreign interference and the potential of foreign intervention, and it is even correct to make serious attempts, as a subordinate TACTIC, to split the reactionary forces, including the reactionary army; but to raise this—and the latter in particular (splitting and winning over sections of the reactionary army)—to the level of a STRATEGY is completely erroneous, and very seriously courts disaster.  One need only ask:  What if these attempts (to split the reactionary army, etc.) fail, while one has made one's whole approach dependent on this...then what?  And it does seem very clear that there is no other dimension in which real and serious preparations are being made by the UCPN(M) for an actual showdown with the armed forces of reaction.  Mass and militant mobilization of youth, in the urban as well as rural areas, for example, could be an important element of an overall strategy for actually carrying the revolution forward, and preparing for the decisive showdown with the armed forces of reaction; but this in itself is not, and cannot be, a substitute for, or the essential means to, wield an organized and disciplined force that can meet and defeat the armed forces of reaction, domestic and very possibly foreign as well.

In short, all this—the overall orientation and approach being carried out by the UCPN(M), even giving this its "very best" interpretation—still falls within the category of seeking to "finesse," rather than to fully confront, and transform through the necessary struggle, very real and daunting contradictions.  This approach of the UCPN(M) much more embodies the potential for disaster than any prospect of successfully completing the new-democratic revolution, through smashing and dismantling the still-existing reactionary state and establishing a new, revolutionary state.

What makes things even worse is that the UCPN(M)—and, it seems, unfortunately, all its various factions, including even those which have been, in varying degrees, in opposition to the revisionist line of the Party's leadership—appear to be trapped within, and obstinately determined to remain within, the circular revisionist logic which characterizes the thinking of the UCPN(M) leadership.  And this leads to the dismissal of any essential challenge to this whole orientation and approach—even criticism raised from a revolutionary-communist perspective is discounted on the basis that it is just resorting to and regurgitating general principles (with which everyone agrees, of course!) while ignoring the particular and even unique circumstances that obtain in Nepal.  This facile dismissal of criticism that should actually be seriously engaged, and in fact united with and acted on, is an expression of all too familiar empiricism and pragmatism, as well as nationalism.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the prospect that even forces within the UCPN(M) which are themselves critical of the dominant line and leadership of that Party, will actually seriously rethink, and then break with and mount real opposition to, this whole course—the prospect that such forces will, in a timely way in the critical circumstances, recognize the validity of, and act in accordance with, the revolutionary-communist critique that has been repeatedly made of this whole orientation and approach, including through speaking to the essential particularities of the current situation—this prospect seems increasingly bleak.  The likelihood looms, and is growing, that the most compelling refutation of the revisionist line will turn out to be the practical reality of a disaster for the revolution and, in one form or another, destruction of the revolutionary forces (their full and final degeneration into revisionism and/or their physical decimation at the hands of the reactionaries), which this revisionist line is actually leading toward.

Nevertheless—and in fact precisely because this latter prospect, of devastating defeat, with its attendant demoralization and disorientation, not only for genuine revolutionaries but also for masses of people, in that country but also well beyond, is increasingly and ever more acutely posing itself—it remains crucial to wrestle with the question of how a decisive altering of this course, a real rupturing with revisionism, might be effected. As has been repeatedly, and very rightly, emphasized: In the current circumstances and given the current trajectory of things in Nepal, the real meaning and content of internationalist support is not acting as cheerleaders while the revolution is increasingly derailed onto a course heading toward a cliff and into the abyss, but instead a sharp and substantive criticism of this course, pointing to the urgently needed rupture back onto the revolutionary road. 

Such criticism has been made, repeatedly.  The question is now acutely posed: Will those who genuinely want to see the revolution in Nepal advance, rather than being decisively defeated, and who still might be able to fight effectively for the needed ruptures—will they finally take to heart this criticism and take up the substance of what it is raising, before it is too late?

* Resolution of the Central Committee of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), "Present Situation and Historical Task of the Proletariat" (2009).  [back]


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