The class struggle in Nepal today
(Reply to a Reader column)
BY BEN JOYCE
In the letter excerpted below, Jim Brash asks why the Militant "which is known for its internationalist viewpoint, hasn't written a single editorial about what's going on in Nepal, so readers in the U.S. can glimpse what working people and peasants are accomplishing over there."
In April 2006 working people in Nepal took to the streets and conducted a general strike against the monarchy. Mass mobilizations forced the king to reinstate the parliament, which he had dissolved in 2005.
Following months of negotiations, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)—CPN(M)—agreed in November to end the protracted guerrilla struggle it had waged since 1996, and joined a coalition of capitalist parties committed to establishing bourgeois parliamentary democracy. In April 2008 the Maoists became the biggest party in parliament.
In the wake of the electoral victory, CPN(M) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, became prime minister. In May 2009 Prachanda resigned in protest after President Ram Baran Yadav rejected his decision to fire the head of the army. (Readers can review the Militant's coverage on Nepal in the May 8, 2006, Jan. 7, 2007, and May 12, 2008, issues.)
The end of monarchical rule and its dictatorial measures in Nepal represented an advance for working people, removing a major obstacle in their line of march toward taking political power. The CPN(M), however, is another substantial obstacle to this course.
As their name indicates, the Maoists identify with the political program of Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during its rise to power. Mao followed Stalin's course of seeking a coalition government with the bourgeois Chiang Kai-shek forces until 1947. Chiang was overthrown in 1949 by a massive upsurge of millions of peasants.
In 1950 the U.S. government invaded Korea seeking to halt the spread of socialist revolution. The Chinese government entered the war in defense of insurgent Korea. Massive mobilizations by Chinese toilers in both city and countryside, demanding land and punishment of the landlords and capitalist factory owners, compelled the CCP bureaucracy to overturn capitalist property relations.
In a similar fashion, the Nepalese Maoists' goal is to run the capitalist state as part of a coalition, not make a socialist revolution. In 2008 Prachanda told the New York Times, "We are fighting feudalism, we are not fighting capitalism." He continued, "In this phase of our socioeconomic development, it is not possible to have a socialist revolution… . We will create a conducive atmosphere to have more profit for the capitalist."
But in every semicolonial country where Stalinists have applied this counterrevolutionary course the working class has suffered major defeats.
During its drawn-out guerrilla struggle, the CPN(M) took over sections of the countryside and imposed on the peasants a policy of forced collectivization, as Mao had done in China at one point—taking land away from those who worked it and bureaucratically setting up collectives, with disregard for the will or initiative of the peasantry.
In response to the bloody counterinsurgency campaign of the Nepalese police, Prachanda, in a Feb. 20, 2000, interview in Revolutionary Worker, a U.S. Maoist paper, boasted that they had "more than 700 martyrs." He said, "We encourage for our cultural revolution this kind of sacrifice, and we glorify this kind of sacrifice."
This perspective is the opposite of the proletarian internationalist course carried out by leaders of the Cuban Revolution. Though they were prepared for a long fight, the revolutionary guerrilla war was organized with the aim of leading the working people of Cuba to swiftly take political power and reconstruct society based on the needs of the majority. This is the only course that working people in Nepal, the United States, and the world over can count on as a way forward out of the brutality of the capitalist system.