“In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” –“The Communist Manifesto.”
“We do not believe that private property should be abolished.” –Prachanda, Interview with BBC on 09/03/2008.
Perhaps you’ve heard the various communist parties claim that there has been a revolution in Nepal, and that the 21st century has finally seen its first socialist revolution. The sad reality is that the red flag is not flying in Nepal, and never was. What is happening is the reformation of bourgeois democracy and the disarming of the Maoist guerillas in order to construct a regime that cuddles up to imperialism. The revisionism coming out of Nepal has its fans, particularly charlatans on the American left and the international scene who have been working overtime to apologize for Prachanda and the reformist wing of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), otherwise known as the UCPN(M), as well as castigate any anti-revisionist who dares expose what’s really going on. The so-called “anti-dogmatists” are not worth refuting, and their arguments have little substance to criticize in the first place. This is not “dogma,” but science. The development in Nepal shows zero signs of heading toward socialism, let alone communism, and show many signs of capitalism, reformism and revisionism, which we shall examine at length below. There is no dictatorship of the proletariat and no socialism being built in Nepal, nor is it even anti-imperialist, having expressed their desire to have foreign private capital invade their country and become a pro-Chinese comprador neo-colony.
The expulsion of the former monarchist regime in Nepal must be applauded. Since then, the leadership of Nepal has come out as not Marxist, but revisionist, and not for the revolution in Nepal but for the so-called peaceful transition to socialism. The Nepali coalition government led by the Maoists has since come under fire from the more hardline wing of their own party and the international Maoist movement, not to mention from Marxist-Leninists. The American Party of Labor shall seek to offer justification and evidence for its perception of the events unfolding in Nepal.
A Brief History of the Situation in Nepal
From 1768 to 2008, the country of Nepal was ruled by an absolutist monarchy. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, more commonly known as Prachanda, led the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or the CPN (M), into an armed struggle against the government in 1996. Fighting continued until 2005. The costs paid by the Nepalese people for this armed struggle against the reactionary monarchy were very great—about 13,000 Nepalese died in this conflict. In 2005, the Party signed permanent peace agreements with a bourgeois-democratic alliance of the mainstream Nepalese parties opposed to the monarchy of King Gyanendra. Massive popular uprisings in the country soon followed in 2006 and a lengthy general strike led to clashes between protestors and the monarchy’s police.
Finally, in 2008 the civil war came to a head when the monarchy capitulated. Since then, the country has been known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and has been led by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly. The CPN (M) then led the coalition government. In January 2009 it changed its name to the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or UCPN(M) after fusing with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre-Masal). It now claims adherence to a hybrid ideology known as “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Prachanda Path.” On May 4th 2009, Prachanda resigned as Prime Minister in a fight with elected President Ram Baran Yadav about Prachanda’s desire to fire the reactionary head of Nepalese Army, Rookmangud Katawal. The UCPN(M) continues to be the leading party in the bourgeois-democratic coalition government. Since then, there have been splits between the Maoist faction and the Prachanda faction over whether to form a People’s Republic or maintain the parliamentary bourgeois democracy.
Reformism & “Peaceful Paths to Socialism” in Nepal
The Maoist theory of “New Democracy” has halted the class struggle in its tracks in Nepal and allowed private capital to continue unabated. The fans of the UCPN(M) have claimed this is merely a “stage” of the revolution there and that the coalition government stage is merely a small step before the final socialist revolution in launched. However, Maoist China itself was never able to transcend the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution and still had a capitalist class up until Mao’s death (it was a policy of the state that the old bourgeoisie still received a quarter of its old profits from factories, for example). Like China, the Nepalese Maoists are not interested in socialism or the final goal of expropriating the bourgeoisie, but rather they aim to establish “socialist-oriented capitalist relations,” which amounts to social democracy.
The UCPN(M) is now dominated by rightist thinking that seeks a peaceful road to socialism in the name of the “creative application of Marxism adapted to Nepal’s conditions,” which is in practice a form of Eurocommunism, bourgeois pluralism and revisionism. As shown with the quote from the BBC interview that began this works, Prachanda supports private property instead of state property. As well, the UCPN(M) and the Prachanda leadership in particular does not support the revolutionary smashing of the capitalist state, but rather a “peaceful transition” to socialism. Referring to the efforts to build a People’s Republic, a term used for a socialist government, Prachanda said, “We [the party] will definitely attempt to establish a People’s Republic by institutionalizing [the] democratic republic and through the legitimate means like elections” (Mishra, BBC News interview). He continued on to say that his party had “concluded that socialism without multiparty competition and political freedoms cannot survive” (Mishra). The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has clearly not learned anything from revisionism in the USSR and the fascist coup in Chile, nor from Marx and Lenin’s thesis on the state.
The Nepalese party has also shown itself to support integration with the reactionary army of the former monarchy. Prachanda said publically in the same interview that, “[a]s long as everyone including the army, the police and the other officials remain committed to the people’s mandate on democracy, peace and change, no one needs to feel insecure. There will be no prejudice against any” (Mishra) and that “I never showed such distrust [toward the army]. I never wanted to show any bit of distrust towards NA [Gyanendra’s former troops] or police or PLA or armed police” (Mishra). In his interview with the Hindu in 2006, Prachanda said, “we are telling the parliamentary parties that we are ready to have peaceful competition with you all” (Varadarajan). The fusing with social democrats and capitalist democracy on the part of the Nepalese Maoists has become a theory of peaceful competition with reactionary parties, otherwise known as “peaceful coexistence” with capitalism. According to Prachanda, the party will “go for the goal of the people’s democracy through peaceful means. Today, we are talking of a democratic republic and our understanding with the parties is that the way to realise this is the constituent assembly” (Varadarajan). The Communist Party leadership even went so far as to say the ‘people’s war” they waged in Nepal for years was not directed against capitalism or imperialism, but rather merely to fight the remnants of feudalism on behalf of the bourgeoisie. “Three years ago we took a decision in which we said how are we going to develop democracy is the key question in the 21st century. This meant the negative and positive lessons of the 20th century have to be synthesised in order for us to move ahead. And three years ago we decided we must go in for political competition. Without political competition, a mechanical or metaphysical attitude will be there. So this time, what we decided is not so new. In August, we took serious decisions on how practically to build unity with the parliamentary political parties. We don’t believe that the people’s war we initiated was against, or mainly against, multiparty democracy. It was mainly against feudal autocracy, against the feudal structure” (Varadarajan). What is being built in Nepal is not socialism but a capitalist government led by “Marxists,” which according to Prachanda himself will be “under international supervision, either by the United Nations or some other international mediation acceptable to all” (Varadarajan).
Despite the lies and distortions of Nepal’s sycophantic followers, the Communist Party has made it crystal clear from the beginning that bourgeois democracy, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the preservation of capitalism at the expense of proletarian dictatorship is their true agenda:
“Varadarajan: Nowadays, we hear the phrase ‘The Maoists will sit on the shoulders and hit on the head.’ Does this mean your alliance with the parties is tactical rather than strategic, that when the head – the monarchy – is weakened or defeated, you might then start hitting the shoulder?
Prachanda: It is not like this. Our decision on multiparty democracy is a strategically, theoretically developed position, that in a communist state, democracy is a necessity. This is one part. Second, our decision within the situation today is not tactical. It is a serious policy. [.…] Of course, people still have a doubt about us because we have an army. And they ask whether after the constitutional assembly we will abandon our arms. This is a question. We have said we are ready to reorganise our army and we are ready to make a new Nepal army also. So this is not a tactical question” (Varadarajan).
Lenin said about such opportunism: “He who says that the workers must support the new government in the interests of the struggle against tsarist reaction (and apparently this is being said by the Potresovs, Gvozdyovs. Chkhenkelis and also, all evasiveness notwithstanding, by Chkheidze) is a traitor to the workers, a traitor to the cause of the proletariat, to the cause of peace and freedom. For actually, precisely this new government is already bound hand and foot by imperialist capital, by the imperialist policy. […] For the only guarantee of freedom and of the complete destruction of tsarism lies in arming the proletariat, in strengthening, extending and developing the role, significance and power of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. All the rest is mere phrase-mongering and lies, self-deception on the part of the politicians of the liberal and radical camp, fraudulent trickery” (Lenin 306). To justify a collaborationist and bourgeois stance, the Nepalese party claims the mantle of Lenin, but doesn’t raise its revolutionary flag. On the contrary, Prachanda and his clique make Lenin into a common liberal by saying “if Lenin had lived another 5 or 10 years he would also introduce multiparty competition, this is my understanding” (Ely).
This assertion, of course, is patently ridiculous for everyone who has read Lenin’s works on the dictatorship of the proletariat, which were then enunciated by Comrade Stalin. “The dictatorship of the proletariat,” said Stalin, “can be complete only when it is led by a party, the party of the communists, which does not and should not share the leadership with other parties” (Stalin, Concerning Questions of Leninism). The truth is that Lenin always put forward the Marxist-Leninist line on the capitalist state in relation to the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of socialism. Lenin said that there is no “halfway” or “hybrid” state possible—a state is either socialist or capitalist, either under the rule of the proletariat or the rule of the bourgeoisie. Lenin also maintained that “the emancipation of the oppressed class is impossible not only without a violent revolution, but also without the destruction of the apparatus of state power which was created by the ruling class” (Lenin, The State and Revolution). Both of these basic tenets of Marxism have continuously been denied by the Nepalese party.
Worse than this, the Prachanda leadership supports disarming the Indian Maoist guerillas in favor of his bourgeois “peaceful transition” strategy. This comes hot on the heels of the Indian state gearing up for a fascist war against the Naxalite/Maoist insurgents. Calling on the Naxalites to disarm against the machine guns of the government, Prachanda says, “We believe [bourgeois democracy] applies to them [the Indians] too. We want to debate this. They have to understand this and go down this route. Both on the questions of leadership and on multiparty democracy, or rather multiparty competition, those who call themselves revolutionaries in India need to think about these issues. And there is a need to go in the direction of that practice” (Varadarajan). It should be noted also that the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has previously exposed Prachanda’s revisionism and liberalism in several letters and polemics issued to them. The Revolutionary Communist Party USA and other RIM parties have as well.
Questionable Theoretical Stances & Praise of Trotskyism
The Maoist government of Nepal has lately been seeking favor with the American imperialists, the Chinese social-imperialists and the reactionary Indian state. This stems from their revisionist, anti-Marxist and anti-proletarian theories. This stems also from their chauvinist following of Maoism, which proclaims a thesis on “protracted people’s war” similar to the Shining Path’s. It proclaims that “the theory developed by fusion of protracted People’s War and insurrection has special significance and it has become universal” (quoted in Open Letter to the UCPN [Maoist] by the Communist Party of India [Maoist]). The UCPN(M) has also put forward that Lenin’s theory of imperialism, which they attempt to co-opt for Mao, is somehow “outdated” in the modern era, no doubt to pave the way for their collaboration with American and Chinese imperialism. The Worker, an organ of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), states that “[o]ur Party, under the leadership of Chairman Comrade Prachanda, believes that the analysis of imperialism made by Lenin and Mao in the 20th century cannot scientifically guide the Maoist revolutionaries to develop correct strategy and tactics to fight in the 21st century” (“The Worker,” 84).
Most troubling however, is the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)’s rehabilitation of the counterrevolutionary and anti-Marxist theory of Trotskyism. The summer issue of the journal “The Red Spark” (Rato Jhilko) has published an article by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai stating that, “Today, the globalization of imperialist capitalism has increased many-fold as compared to the period of the October Revolution. The development of information technology has converted the world into a global village. However, due to the unequal and extreme development inherent in capitalist imperialism this has created inequality between different nations. In this context, there is still (some) possibility of revolution in a single country similar to the October revolution; however, in order to sustain the revolution, we definitely need a global or at least a regional wave of revolution in a couple of countries. In this context, Marxist revolutionaries should recognize the fact that in the current context, Trotskyism has become more relevant than Stalinism to advance the cause of the proletariat” (Bhattarai 10).
This speaker is not a small figure. Dr. Bhattarai is a politburo member of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and is considered to be its leading theoretician. He is essentially the number two next to Prachanda and has served as Minister of Finance. Despite his disturbing assertion, the American Party of Labor and the communist movement in general have always exposed the reactionary nature of Trotskyism as an anti-Marxist theory. We realize that the Trotskyite theory of “Permanent Revolution” is irrelevant to today’s world. Trotsky’s theory is absolutist in that it is either permanent revolution or no revolution. However, Lenin and Stalin proved the case that socialism in one country is possible while maintaining that it is not the final victory of the proletariat.
“[T]he overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and establishment of the power of the proletariat in one country does not yet mean that the complete victory of socialism has been ensured.” Stalin says, “After consolidating its power and leading the peasantry in its wake the proletariat of the victorious country can and must build a socialist society. But does this mean that it will thereby achieve the complete and final victory of socialism, i.e., does it mean that with the forces of only one country it can finally consolidate socialism and fully guarantee that country against intervention and, consequently, also against restoration? No, it does not. For this the victory of the revolution in at least several countries is needed. Therefore, the development and support of revolution in other countries is an essential task of the victorious revolution. Therefore, the revolution which has been victorious in one country must regard itself not as a self-sufficient entity, but as an aid, as a means for hastening the victory of the proletariat in other countries” (Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism). Stalin’s thesis in turn supports Lenin’s thesis that the revolution must do “the utmost possible in one country for the development, support and awakening of the revolution in all countries” (Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution & the Renegade Kautsky). Either Mr. Bhattarai is intentionally leaving out Stalin’s true position on Socialism in One Country so as to give kudos to Trotskyism or he is not aware of this passage. We are not inclined to believe the latter since its source is Stalin’s most prominent work.
Despite this statement, Trotskyism and Trotsky’s ideas are not relevant to today’s world and certainly not to Nepal. Trotsky was an opponent of guerrilla warfare, which has been the main vehicle of the armed struggle in the world and Nepal in particular. Trotskyism is also not significant anywhere, and especially not amongst the most oppressed sectors of the world. Bhattarai is trying to resurrect ideas that are Eurochauvinist and complete failures at initiating any insurrectionary tactics.
Surrendering Marxism in Words & Deeds
The line of the UCPN(M) on the theoreticians of Marxism is as questionable as their recent deeds in Nepal in stopping the people’s war. Prachanda once said that “Stalin had made a serious mistake of ideology, in philosophy, in science—and all of the workers movement has taken so much loss from this deviation from dialectical materialism” (Ely). Without going into too much detail defending the legacy of Stalin as a great Marxist and teacher, the APL must ask: does this mean Prachanda himself is not guilty of these same so-called mistakes? He is quoted as saying, “I am not an atheist […] do not take the Maoist Party as an atheist party” (“Telegraph Nepal”). Prachanda has admitted to the world that he is not an atheist, which Lenin himself said that every socialist must be as a rule, and which would show his complete denial of science and self-deluded embrace of idealism and would bar him from making any accusations of “deviating” from dialectical materialism. Prachanda also is quoted as not believing in the abolishment in private property, which leaves us to ponder how the UCPN(M) would create socialism by leaving bourgeois property intact.
The throwing out of the Soviet Union as a model of socialism and the leadership and theories of Joseph Stalin as one of the classics of Marxism does not stop there. Prachanda once said about his own party’s ideology: “[w]e are fully confident that we are developing the [Marxist] ideology from Lenin, not from Stalin” (Ely). Like many Maoists, the UCPN(M) adjusts their views on Stalin to suite their own ends, a strategy that is particularly disturbing in the wake of Bhattarai’s praise of Trotskyism. The leadership of Nepal has disgraced the memory of actually existing socialism in the service of the bourgeoisie, working overtime to apologize to reactionaries and bourgeois propagandists for Stalin, or just not to mention him at all in comparison to the Great Helmsman, or perhaps Prachanda himself. It has always been the position of the American Party of Labor since its founding that Joseph Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist who fought all his life for the interests of the working class and socialism. The non-revisionist communist parties in all countries have always upheld the experience of socialism under Stalin as a part of upholding the ideology of Marxism and always will. The APL views the ideologies, beliefs and practices of Lenin and Stalin as inseparable, and thus the idea of taking from Lenin and not Stalin, or from Stalin and not Lenin, is theoretically absurd.
Prachanda’s leadership has also proposed dropping the “Maoist” label from their party’s title to gain favor with foreign imperialist powers like China and the United States in wake of their fusing with revisionist and bourgeois parties at the behest of the revisionist and state-capitalist “Communist” Party currently ruling China. The Times of India reported that “Prachanda, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), and Nepal’s first revolutionary prime minister, capped the growing debate about the party at home and abroad Friday by telling journalists at the Nepalgunj airport, prior to kicking off a festival, that two months ago, he had proposed to the central committee of his party that the Maoist tag be jettisoned” (17-10-2008). It also reported that the “Chinese government […] advocated the unification of the communist parties in Nepal to form a single monolithic party like the Communist Party of China. The Maoists have taken the advice to heart” (17-10-2008).
Splits Within the UCPN(M)
Matrika Yadav, a former member of the Central Committee of the party, resigned last year from his post as Minister of Land Reforms and Management. He claims to have now quit the Maoist party for good after coming under fire from the Prachanda leadership for redistributing land to poor peasants, which the party labeled as anarchistic activity. About his resignation, he said ”Prime Minister [Prachanda] had the compulsion to ensure survival of the government. I had the compulsion to advocate in favour of landless people” (Nepal News”). He accused the UCPN(M) of being a revisionist and reformist party that was “no longer” a communist party and was capitulating to the class enemy by dissolving the PLA. Since then, Yadav has sought to form his own party to go against the dissolution of the PLA and to seize property from the feudalists and the regional bourgeois parties who act in the interests of local comprador landlords, which he vocally accused the party of compromising with. Yadav claimed in an interview that the “unified Maoist party is no longer a real communist party. Prachandaji has welcomed those people in the party who always criticized the decade-long armed struggle. He has close alliance with those reactionary forces. I have asked him to read his own articles about revolution and people’s liberation written in the past” (Ojha).
Yadav’s faction, which has since taken up arms, stated publically “the party also bowed down to the pressure of the parliamentary forces and agreed to return the land captured by the peasants and landless people during the conflict” (“NayaNews.com”). He accused Prachanda’s revisionist policies of leading “to the mushrooming of regional Madhesi parties who represent the landlords” (“NayaNews.com”). Regarding the dissolution of the PLA, Yadav spoke candidly about widespread criticism of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)’s handling of the situation. “The PLA combatants joined the war not for any personal gain. Many of them lost their relatives in the war. They want total liberation of the Nepali people. I have heard they are extremely frustrated now. They are saying their sacrifice has gone in vain” (Ojha). As if to prove him right, Prachanda announced that People’s Liberation Army is to become the national army and will be fully integrated with the reactionary bourgeois state. “Prachanda has said that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would not remain under the party from now onwards” (Mingxin). These moves are nothing less than tearing the teeth out of the Nepalese movement.
Support of Chinese “Market Socialism” & Foreign Imperialist Capital
Rather than a Marxist-Leninist path of development and the construction of socialism, Prachanda has endorsed leaving Nepal open to foreign capital and a Dengist path of development. China Brief reports that during an interview “Prachanda went on further to chide Western-style capitalism and praised China’s model of economic development as one that Nepal will emulate. ‘We will build special economic zones like China,’ Prachanda said. ‘The special economic zones stimulated China’s economic development, and we want to learn from China. China’s experience is really helpful for us.’ In the interview, Prachanda emphasized the geographic proximity between China and Nepal, and the high respect that Nepalese people have for China and Chinese people. ‘For Nepal’s national independence, it is critically important for Nepal to maintain intimate relations with China’” (quoted in Hsiao).
Some of the Nepal Maoists’ supporters have answered criticisms of these remarks by comparing this plan to the New Economy Policy in Soviet Russia. The idea that socialism has to beat capitalism and imperialism in terms of delivering commodities is a manifestation of the Theory of Productive Forces, a theory which history has proven wrong by the industrialization of small, isolated socialist nations in quick order. History has provided us with many examples of small, poor and backward countries that have had to defend themselves under very difficult conditions: Albania, Korea, Cuba, etc. In fact, it could be argued that these nations were in a much worse situation and much poorer and underdeveloped than Nepal (Korea was razed to the ground by the Korean War and Albania was a pre-feudal tribal society until the 1950s). There is historical precedent to consider on the question of industrialization.
These remarks endorse the state-capitalist ideology of the Chinese revisionist politician Deng Xiaoping, who once stated there was “no fundamental contradiction between socialism and a market economy. The problem is how to develop the productive forces more effectively. We used to have a planned economy, but our experience over the years has proved that having a totally planned economy hampers the development of the productive forces to a certain extent. If we combine a planned economy with a market economy, we shall be in a better position to liberate the productive forces and speed up economic growth” (Xiaoping). Prachanda wishes to build a modern Chinese-style state-capitalist government in Nepal, and considering Prachanda Path’s flimsy theoretical nature, we won’t hold our breath for socialism in Nepal anytime soon.
The American Party of Labor has long been mindful of the revisionism coming out of Nepal. The revolution in Nepal requires a party led by the science of Marxism, a party that stands for carrying out the class struggle to the end. As of right now, the Maoists under the leadership of Prachanda have become the puppets of reaction and imperialism. If a party like the UCPN(M) is unable to correct its revisionism it will not be able to lead to a socialist, much less a communist society. As the APL has said before, in terms of building a socialist society, only the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism has been successful.
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