Critical Crossroads in Nepal: Presentation to the Newly Reorganized CPN(M) by RCP, USA Supporter
February 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For 10 years (from 1996 to 2006), a very important People's War took place in Nepal. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), small forces were able to challenge the old state, then ruled by a monarchy. The party's stated goal was to carry through a New Democratic Revolution as the first stage of a revolution that would then go forward to the socialist stage, as Mao had done in China. The revolution met with a tremendous response among the millions of peasants and workers and educated youth in Nepal. A powerful People's Liberation Army [PLA] was formed; most of the countryside of Nepal was taken out of the grip of the traditional feudal and comprador capitalist rulers; and liberated base areas were proclaimed in much of the country. The revolution also won increasing support from middle-class elements centered in the capital and other cities of the country. The strength of the revolution also intensified the disarray of the ruling classes, and many of them concluded that it would be impossible to continue to rule Nepal under the old monarchy. At the same time, the desperate rulers and armed forces of the old state, backed up by India, and Western imperialist powers, and with support from the new capitalist rulers in China as well, fought ferociously against the revolutionary forces.
Unfortunately, in 2005 a crucial shift in the line of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) took place at the Chunwang meeting. That Central Committee meeting of the party ratified a policy of abandoning the goal of establishing a new state, a people's republic led by the proletariat and its party, in favor of fighting for a "democratic state." Once this line was set, a whole series of shifts in strategy, tactics, and policy also took place. Agreements for a "multi-party democracy" were made with the main reactionary political parties in Nepal. And in November 2006, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed which: formally ended the People's War; agreed to a plan to merge the PLA into the reactionary army of the old state; disbanded the organs of power that had been established in the liberated base areas; and established elections to a Constituent Assembly. An interim government was formed with the CPN(M) holding some of the ministries.
During this period the CPN(M) was reorganized as the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), uniting with other parties and individuals who had not been involved in the People's War or who had even opposed it.
Elections were held in 2008. The UCPN(M) won the largest number of seats in the Constituent Assembly and a government was formed with UCPN(M) chairman Prachanda as Prime Minister.
Throughout this period of reversal of the revolution, sharp debate took place, first privately and then publicly, between the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and the UCPN(M). A series of letters were sent by the RCP, USA which sharply criticized and struggled against the revisionist line that had been adopted by the UCPN(M) and the consequences of that line. [See "On Developments in Nepal and the Stakes for the Communist Movement: Letters to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2005-2008 (With a Reply from the CPN(M), 2006)."]
Under pressure from the army and the leaders of the old state, the Prachanda government resigned in 2009 and a new government was formed by the previous opponents of the People's War.
In November 2011, after a prolonged governmental crisis, a new government was formed with Baburam Bhattarai, a prominent leader of the party as Prime Minister. This government quickly moved to finalize the destruction of the revolution [See "Baburam Bhattarai—Chosen Gravedigger of the Nepal Revolution," Revolution, September 11, 2011.]
Throughout this period many members and supporters of the UCPN(M) became increasingly uncomfortable with the direction things were going, as the fruits of the revolution were abandoned one by one. Some of these forces inside the UCPN(M) formed an opposition to the leadership of Chairman Prachanda. Eventually these forces left the party in 2012 and formed a separate party, taking the original name of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
The newly reorganized CPN(M) recently held its founding Congress. While the new party has attracted those who hate the increasingly ugly results coming from the reversal of the revolution, the new CPN(M) has unfortunately been unable to decisively break from the essential problems of line, and resulting practice, of the UCPN(M)—the line which has led to this disastrous situation for the revolution.
In this light, a supporter of the RCP, USA, who had long been associated with building support for the revolution in Nepal, was invited to offer opinions to the recent Congress. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of what was conveyed to that Congress.
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The following is a contribution to the recently held Congress of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) made by a long time supporter of the revolution in Nepal who is a supporter of the RCP, USA and the new synthesis of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Greetings comrades. Let's get straight to the point. We are at a critical crossroads, not only in the revolution in Nepal but also in the international communist movement. A few years ago, millions in Nepal looked to the Maoists as their hope to end oppression. Now the masses' former leaders have become the ugly face of their oppressors and exploiters. Much of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement is being turned into apologists of revisionism. What happened—what's the problem—and what's the solution?
As a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, I want to render support to anyone who wants to get the revolution back on track. But saving the revolution requires above all else a radical rupture with the line that has led to this disaster—a rupture that has still not been made.
I have heard a lot of talk about how the problem is that Prachanda and Bhattarai betrayed the revolution—they sold out to India. Listen to what Engels, Marx's closest comrade, said about the betrayal of leaders:
"…when you inquire into the causes of the counter revolutionary success, you are met on every hand with the ready-made reply that it was 'Citizen So and So' who betrayed the people. But this reply does not explain anything. It does not even explain how it came to pass that the people allowed themselves to be betrayed. And what poor chance stands a political party whose entire stock in trade consists in the knowledge of the solitary fact that 'Citizen So-and-So' is not to be trusted."
Think of what Engels asks: why did the people allow themselves to be betrayed? This gets to Mao's concentrated summation: the correctness or incorrectness of line is decisive. A wrong line will transform even the best fighters. A correct line can help remold even those who have lost their path.
I don't see the history of the party as a steady effort to achieve a more correct line. While there was always two-line struggle in the party, the crucial turning point came when a revisionist line emerged seven years ago and became dominant, and almost everybody went along with the main points. Take the Constituent Assembly elections in 2008. Many comrades in Nepal were concerned about the danger of reformism. But still the entire party and most of RIM [Revolutionary Internationalist Movement] hailed the victory as "the election miracle." Why a miracle? It was a way of telling yourself that yes, we all know that advancing revolution through a bourgeois parliament defies the laws of class society, yes we know it goes against the ABCs of Marxism, so it's like divine intervention. No it wasn't. It was a trap set by very real-life imperialists and reactionaries, and it represented a giant step into the parliamentary swamp. Whatever Prachanda's intentions, why did the party allow itself to be swept up in this bourgeois democratic trap?
Because the party was in the grip of revisionist thinking. Once a revisionist line became dominant in October 2005 at Chunwang, then everything else flowed from that, and all the tactics served that line. Without rupturing with the line, you will have Prachandism without Prachanda.
Over and over I have heard comrades say that the problem was that Prachanda said one thing, but he did another. This view is just another expression of refusing to face the fact that the problem was the collective line of the party. The main problem with Prachanda is not that he didn't do what he said, but that he acted in conformity with the revisionist line. In a fundamental sense he did exactly what he said he would do. Prachanda implemented exactly the revisionist line that was adopted and dominated the party for the last seven years.
If you don't know the problem, you won't find the solution. What was the problem? The revisionist line was wrong on key issues, including the state, nationalism, and communist methodology. The revisionist line negated the Marxist understanding of the state. It talked of a "transitional classless republic" and promoted all kinds of illusions about multi-party elections and bourgeois democracy. The revisionist line negated that in class society each ruling class will institute a different form of democracy to serve its interests and its class rule; the parliamentary democracy imposed on Nepal could only reinforce the rule of the reactionary classes and lead to the dismantling of the base areas and PLA [People's Liberation Army].
This revisionist line was marked by nationalism. Remember the election slogan of turning Nepal into the Switzerland of South Asia. And as we all know, Switzerland is not exactly a base area of the world revolution. It is a small reactionary state that is connected to the bigger imperialist powers and serves their interests. This is the model that Prachanda meant when he said Nepal should be the dynamic hub between India and China. But no one opposed it. All this was done with a methodology characterized by eclectics, which was called fusion, and by pragmatism and realpolitik, in other words, sacrificing principle for the hope of short-term gains.
The party abandoned the goal of setting up a powerful proletarian state led by the vanguard party to serve the world revolution. It replaced the communist vision with revisionist notions of restructuring the state, which meant that whatever tactics you used you would only end up reforming the existing reactionary state. Think back to May, two and a half years ago. Hundreds of thousands came to Kathmandu ready to give their lives for an insurrection. But with a wrong view of the state in command, even if that tactic had succeeded, the result would not have been the dismantling of the old state power and the destruction of the reactionary army. The whole strategy was based on getting a large section of the reactionary officer corps to go along with this so-called "insurrection." Even if you had succeeded, the result would have been more like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela than like Mao in China. Whether you reached this reformist result through peaceful means or through violent means does not change the essence of things.
With a revisionist line securely in command of the comrades' thinking, Prachanda and Bhattarai were content to allow the party opposition forces to mobilize the masses as a kind of pressure group. This is not a picture of the struggle for a revolutionary line making steady progress. Instead, the opposition for the last years functioned like a safety valve, where those in the party who were unhappy with where things were going could let off steam. No real repudiation was made of the revisionist line. In this way, the power of the revolutionary upsurge was lost, and the old reactionary state was legitimized by seven years of the Maoists taking part in electoral politics.
Over and over during the last few years, I have heard the explanation for a refusal to make a decisive rupture with revisionism: you don't understand, the revolution can't succeed without Prachanda, we have to keep fighting within the party to win him over. In other words, the correctness or incorrectness of the line is less important than losing Prachanda.
The pragmatism and democratic illusions that dominated for seven years have to be dug up and broken with—and much remains to be done. Do you think the task is over? No, it has just begun. Everyone agrees that Prachanda and Bhattarai's shameless cooperation with India stinks of pragmatism and realpolitik, betraying principles for bourgeois positioning. But how different is the CPN(M)'s approach to China? The Chinese revisionists have turned China into the sweatshop of global imperialism. It is one of the most unequal societies on earth. Yes, there is a need for diplomacy and making use of contradictions among the enemy, I understand that. But that is different than basing the strategy on realpolitik maneuvers. I have been told, "We are clear on the nature of China." Show me one single article of exposure in your press about the horrors of capitalism in China. Think of the confusion this is causing to people around the world. Millions want to see genuine change but they can also see what China has done to the masses there and in Africa and elsewhere—all in the name of communism. Making use of contradictions among reactionaries must be handled not according to the criteria of nationalism, but on proletarian internationalism.
Now you are talking about uniting "everyone" against India, even die-hard anti-people forces and proven destroyers of revolution like the Chinese bourgeoisie. Isn't this really just a new sub-stage, like the old CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] sub-stage of uniting "everyone," including India, against the monarchy? (Of course it was correct and necessary to rally people against the monarchy, but as part of the NDR [New Democratic Revolution] and not by creating a special sub-stage as was argued and practiced.) Is what is being proposed now really any better? What about the fundamental changes and class realignment of the new democratic revolution? What about the workers and peasants and the revolutionary intellectuals? The problem is not that many nationalists and bourgeois democrats joined the revolution: they need to be part of the revolution, especially in its new democratic stage. But they need to be led by a proletarian internationalist vision.
A radical rupture is needed with the nationalism that dominated for the last seven years. Prachanda's nationalist election promise to turn Nepal into Switzerland wound up in the same old capitulation to India. And isn't this nationalism also one reason why so many comrades dismissed the RCP polemics against the revisionist line that started seven years ago? Once again, in part because comrades thought that who wrote the polemics was more important than the line they advocated.
What is happening in Nepal is part of a larger global process. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is dividing into two and the science is advancing to a new stage. There are some in the international communist movement who say they are your friends and yet viciously attack the RCP and Chairman Avakian's new synthesis of communism. I suppose they are indeed friends of something here: they cheered when you signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, they cheered when you participated in the CA[Constituent Assembly] elections, and they're cheering today too. You tell me whether they are friends of revolution!
I just read a recent statement from one of these false friends who was not at all repentant about cheering for the wrong line the whole time during the last seven years. This so-called friend of Nepal condemned the RCP as "dogmatist" for opposing the Maobadi's [Maoists'] line during the last seven years, and he argued that just because the Nepal party's line was wrong didn't mean the revolution had to end up in failure. This is like saying, you go to Tribhuvan airport, the plane is listed as going to Delhi, it's a small plane built for short flights, it has only enough fuel for Delhi, the flight plan is for Delhi, and the pilot announces the plane is going to Delhi—and then when you land, you throw your hands up in amazement, oh my god, we're in Delhi! Tell me please, where on earth has a revisionist line ever led to revolution!
Now these re-organizers of the international communist movement want your party to sign on to a new organization that they say will be based on "People's War as the strategic anchor." So this new international communist movement is openly announcing it will not be based on a correct political and ideological line but on practical achievements. Doing this would repeat exactly one of the main problems that led the revolution to disaster here in the first place—separating your goal from your strategy of how to get there. Think about what happened in 2005. While Bhattarai was fighting hard over big questions like state power, while Bhattarai was reversing verdicts on the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the experience of Russia and China and replacing this with multi-party bourgeois democracy, all too many comrades were content to ignore this and just focus on the immediate struggle. The comrades lost sight of the main purpose of fighting the people's war in the first place: to dismantle the old state and establish a new revolutionary power as part of advancing the world revolution. For the last 30 years there has been a worldwide imperialist onslaught against the experience of the Soviet Union and China, telling everyone that communist revolution leads to disaster. How do you answer this? How would you organize the economy of a socialist Nepal? How would the new revolutionary state relate to revolution in South Asia and the rest of the world—do you want "good relations" with India, or do you want to help the oppressed in India overthrow that reactionary expansionist power?
The new democratic revolution means a combination of social revolution and national revolution—you can't have one without the other. This is not fundamentally a question of a government with "good guys" in charge. It is a different state power, a different class alliance. It means tearing up the old production relations and bringing into being new ones. It means agrarian revolution, uprooting caste discrimination, and mobilizing the masses to transform the world, not trying to get a better position in a reactionary world. And everything you do, including the way you fight revolutionary war, has to be linked to a clear vision of where you're going.
How can anyone who is serious about saving the Nepal revolution from the disaster it's facing not want to engage with the thinking of the party that first so loudly sounded the alarm about the revisionist line, seven years ago? How can you not want to know more about the understanding that dared to go straight up against the tide of spontaneity sweeping the party and much of RIM into the revisionist swamp? I urge you to engage with the new synthesis of Comrade Avakian. He has a lot to say about these problems of pragmatism, realpolitik, nationalism, and eclectics that have sabotaged your own revolution and the entire international communist movement. He is addressing and providing basic answers in defense of the experience of proletarian revolution and how we communists can do even better in the future.
To conclude: 20 years ago, as the revolutionaries faced the setback that had occurred in Peru, the Nepalese revolutionaries stepped forward, saying we will leap into the breach. Today the situation of the communist movement at the planetary level is much more critical and requires much greater boldness—to step forward to be part of rescuing the communist project and leading it forward to greater heights. But this will not be done without a wrenching rupture with the revisionist line that has dominated the movement in Nepal for years now—as Mao said, the correctness or incorrectness of political line is indeed decisive.
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