Monday, March 23, 2009

Letters to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2005-2008

Important documents to understand developments in Nepal from the Revolutionary Communist Party USA. Read them here :

The main charges against the Prachanda/Bhattarai leadership of UCPN Maoist by the RCPUSA are centrism and eclecticism.

From an initial reading of the RCPUSA documents ,while we do not agree with some of the minor issues raised by the RCPUSA ,we agree with the main thrust of the RCPUSA that the UCPN Maoist is following a centrist line under Prachanda and Bhattarai and we look to the UCPN Maoist leaders like Gujarel and Kiran to correct this line. The charge of eclecticism against Prachanda and Bhattarai is also well argued and we feel is basically correct.

However we invite readers to study these documents themselves and reach their own conclusions and tell us their opinions on these important documents. Here are some defintions of terms used :

Centrism : The term used for tendencies in the radical movement which stand or oscilate between reformism, which is the position of the labor bureaucracy and the labor aristocracy, and Marxism, which expresses the historic interests of the working class.

Since a centrist tendency has no independent social base, it must be evaluated in terms of its origins, internal dynamic, and the direction it is being pushed towards by events

Eclecticism :Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.

For a Printable File of the documents of RCPUSA with thanks to Mike Ely and RCPUSA go here :


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I found the UCPN Maoist posltion of criticising one divides into two very reminicent of Deng Xiaoping thought and his philosopher Wu Jia in the late 1980's and early 1990's and is not a good sign if the UCPN Maoist is travelling this philosophical road

Anonymous said...

The centrist criticism of CPN Maoist leadership is not unique to RCPUSA and is voiced with the UCPN Maoist as well in the West.

The eclectic criticism again is not unique to RCPUSA but they have done a good job in exposing some of the electicism of UCPN Maoist on the question of Democacy.

The RCPUSA has a template for revolution which does not fit the Nepalese situation and their silence on major events in Nepal in the last few years and no self criticism of their wrong predications of Nepalese events shows the RCPUSA still have a lot to learn and they like the rest of us are students of Marxism Leninism Maoism and not its teacher and the new synthesis is just a case of an emperor without clothes.

Stephen Mauldin said...

Nick we been corresponding facebook on these issues.. you wanted me to transfer some here.. I am just cutting and pasting what I can quickly:

moving most recent to prior in order..

Nicholas Glais at 7:21pm March 24
Stephen could you post your comment on Democracy and Class Struggle.

I do not think it necessary to endorse the RCPUSA new synthesis to agree with some of their criticisms of the UCPN Maoist- which basically are centrism and eclecticism.

The pressure of power has driven both Bhattarai and Prachanda in a centrist direction and people like Kiran and Gujarel have brought them back in line after a struggle.... Read More

I am thinking of Prachanda saying to the US Ambassador that he would drop the word Maoist from the party name - Prachanda was subsequently brought before the central committee and given a bollocking.This happened when Harry was in Nepal.

On eclectism the point about one dividing into two which the UCPN Maoist does not seem happy with was a key philosophical point of Deng Xiaoping and his philosopher Wu Jia in the late 80's and early 90's in China's transition to capitalism.

Just a few thoughts

Stephen David Mauldin at 8:32pm March 25
that was rather whore-like of him, but maybe he is just a flirt.. the folks there have kicked RCPUSA ass .. also I juxtaposed the Maoist debate re positions of CP Gajurel and the others with Badiou thought beginning at http://stefandav.blogspot.... Read More Its pretty clear I think that P&B are dancing at the edge of revisionism as a tactic and many hasten to condemn them and think its a losing game playing into the hands of the NC etc. CP G and others have a more luxurious distance, but clearly they are still a team.. fact is the objective reality does entail building productive forces.. any way all that is available from the Kasama team.. I still tend to see the P&B line as realistic as practice and not too far astray theoretically - the advanced theoretical thinking is found at the Birbeck conference headed by Badiou, Zizek, Halward, Toscano and others. The RCPUSA stuff is a footnote in history already

Stephen David Mauldin at 5:09pm March 24
The Nepal Maoists answered the RCPUSA quite thoroughly but to no avail - choice elements of that reply:

"So, we don’t think your Party should be afraid of the democracy that we are talking
about. Rather, we want your Party to concentrate more on how the genuine democracy of the
proletariat can be established so that the voluntary unity of the whole oppressed classes can... Read More
exercise effective and real dictatorship over their class enemy."

"Those who are drowned in the quagmire of tactical flexibility without strategic firmness
understand our Party as dogmatic, whereas, those who are suffering from the jaundice of
strategic firmness without tactical flexibility see us moving towards reformism and revisionism.

We request RCP to dare to break the
traditional way of dogmatic thinking and raise the level of struggle to meet the need of the day"

"The trend of cursing others for a mistake and enjoying oneself from such acts does not represent
either a proletarian responsibility or culture."

before that we had this related content:

Nicholas Glais wrote
at 6:28am on March 21st, 2009
Stephen - An interesting attack on influence of Alain Badiou from RCPUSA

Take a look - I think it is quite good - I am waiting for final version - what do you think ?

Stephen David Mauldin wrote
at 7:00pm on March 22nd, 2009
Thanks Nick, been relocating.. had a chance to read a few pages only. I always get a feeling reading this commie vs that commie like screaming "Hey, fuckers, the house is on fire!" Do something in practice against the real enemy, whose kicking your ass while you are saving me from Alain B and somebody else is saving me from Bob A .. still the piece looks pretty simple minded: everybody is either type 1 (wrong), type 2 (wrong) or with us (right).. the distinction between types is based on but a couple of core elements that are poorly defined (e.g. "egalitarian"), and in a couple of ways already one can demonstrate this is essentially a "straw man" attack. Its interesting from the standpoint of learning about the elements of theoretical contention at stake, yet I find the writer's position on these elements rather dogmatic and colored with a kind of cultism personality worship. I think of a bible-thumping christian fundamentalist in a plaid suit vs Badiou on St. Paul.

Nicholas Glais wrote
at 7:26pm on March 22nd, 2009
Thanks for your thoughts -this is just one chapter in a long polemic of the RCPUSA against Badiou and I am waiting for the full text.I think Badiou is quite insightful but could never buy the whole Badiou deal especially Being and Event but my big political problem was his confounding of the Party/State.

I am working on a paper on the development of the concept of a Party and find Bhattarai's writings on this subject extremely helpful especially his concept of a Marxist Leninist Maoist Party has outlined in his article Party building which meets many communist anarchist criticisms of the party idea.

I hope this RCPUSA polemic on Badiou on stimulates debate and helps clarify some of the issues like Party and State - I therefore welcome this polemic.

Stephen David Mauldin wrote
at 8:31pm on March 22nd, 2009
Warning the RCPUSA in their polemic aspirations: trouble with Badiou is he is a chameleon.. no fixed position.. what you shoot at is a situation whose coordinates have already shifted. Communism is a hypothesis not a conclusion. This is an insight, easily eclipsed by a conclusion. This is why Badiou roots his oeuvre in set theory, indicative of constants forever revolutionized by variables intruding from the void into set situations. The RCPUSA has a valid position regarding its changing the situation of the communist hypothesis at a particular point. What ensues is the RCPUSA's continuing argument for everybody to see that revolutionary leap. OK, we see it. NOW GO FORWARD. Badiou posits a theory of the leaping on a register of thought encompassing, yet in excess, of the theoretical argumentation of the RCPUSA, which I would nonetheless applaud for serving those who have not yet reached the RCPUSA phase of the ever-leaping communist hypothesis.

nickglais said...

I like your Prachanda and Bhattarai dancing at the edge of revisionism as a tactic and it probably sums up my position on these two.

However I am not happy with the messenger the RCPUSA being the subject of attack rather than the message about centrism and eclecticism which are legitimate causes for concern about the UCPN Maoist.

Whilst I hold Badiou in high regard just as I do Bhattarai and Prachanda I feel that true friends speak out and tell them when they are going wrong.

Badiou has had a free ride and is due for some intensive criticism from am MLM perspective maybe the RCPUSA is not up to the job but they are having a go.

I do not find the The London Conference on the Idea of Communism
representing the best theory but rather the eclecticism of the movement. For all their faults Prachanda and Bhattarai are miles ahead with their practice despite criticisms.

Prachanda and Bhattarai have never had a free ride and have always been the subject of criticism most of it misplaced but some of it like centrism and eclecticism well deserved.

Stephen Mauldin said...

A portion below from my blog entries re this RCPUSA polemic. Italics below are from the November 08 letter to Maoists:

"..Marx’s point that “the proletariat
cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state
machinery and wield it for its own purposes” but must
“smash it” and establish its own state."

The above is clearly something a "true communist" as they say would uphold. Yea, I like it, but it is not quite clear that the Maoist think otherwise.. in fact the RCP goes on to say the issue is still actually in question:

"The fundamental issue at stake in the debate over
the form of the state and the role of “multiparty democracy”
in Nepal today is actually about whether the
dictatorship of the proletariat (at the stage of New Democracy)
will be established. Indeed, as the Chinese
comrades pointed out during the epoch of Mao, all of
the great struggles between Marxism and revisionism
have been focused on the question of establishing and
persevering in the proletarian dictatorship, and this is
the case in Nepal today."

Some pages follow with some doctrine and history we can all appreciate. Again the implication not really substantiated is that somehow it is clearly the case that the Maoists in Nepal are following a contrary line.. if they are, then in still awaits in the rest of the letter to show that it is so. Next we see, the RCP has not exactly been correct is its prognostications regarding the Nepal Maoists:

"The most significant event that took place since
we sent our letter of March 19, 2008 has been the
Constituent Assembly elections, the emergence of the
CPN(M) as the largest party in the country and the
subsequent formation of a government with Comrade
Prachanda at its head.
One leading comrade of the CPN(M) described
this as “the election miracle”. And indeed, we ourselves,
like many other observers, were surprised by the result.
We had written in our March 19 letter: 'The most
likely result is that the CPN(M) will be defeated fairly
at the elections… If in the extremely unlikely event
that the Party did come to occupy the key positions
of government through this electoral process the very
alliance required, the entanglement in bourgeois political
institutions and with the international community
will ensure that there is no transfer of power to the
proletariat and the oppressed classes and no basis for
the state to carry out the revolutionary transformation
of society.'
What our party had predicted as 'extremely unlikely',
that is the emergence of a CPN(M)‑led government,
has come into being."

Oh, never mind.. it did not really mean anything:

"While it is true that the revolutionary
masses of Nepal voted for the CPN(M) out of
the love and respect won in the course of the People’s
War, the deferential treatment of the CPN(M) by the
bourgeoisie, imperialists and India came not from having
waged a People’s War but from having stopped one.
Any support from the middle classes and others for the
Party on this basis (having stopped the war) will not
further propel the Party toward completing the revolution
but act as a brake on it."

The RCP then develops the polemic with the prime example (which at this point as then remains an assumption) that the Maoist plan of integration of the NA and the PLA will result in essentially a reactionary army:

"All of Marxism as well
as contemporary social experience teaches again and
again that it is the armed forces that are the central and
decisive element of any state. The People’s Liberation
Army, which had been the pillar of the new state that
was being forged in the base areas, has been confined
to cantonments and is now threatened with liquidation
through the process of “integration” into the old reactionary
army. Without the PLA it will be impossible
to protect the transformations that have already taken
place in the base areas, to say nothing of extending
them throughout the whole country. We should never
forget Mao’s words that, “without a People’s Army, the
people have nothing”, nor the great sacrifices that were
required to build up a powerful PLA in Nepal.
Any idea that the Nepal Army, even if it swallows
up and digests part of the PLA, can be transformed
into a People’s Army, that it will become, in essence,
anything other than what it always has been, is worse
than ridiculous, it is extremely dangerous. As noted
earlier, the role of the Nepal Army will be to continue
to enforce the dominant social and production relations
that keep the masses enslaved."

Is this prognosis showing itself to be true? On the contrary, recent news has been centered on the Maoist moves outmaneuvering the reactionary parties by removing the top eight generals of the NA. The letter then goes on to admonish the Maoists for failing to see that the imperative at this point is to smash the state, not to participate in its clearly bourgeois democracy. Again, however, current events see the Maoists issuing warning to the other parties against subterfuge, clearly putting forth the probability of renewed revolutionary violence. They are already establishing plans to develop the capacity of the masses to engage in armed resistance to Indian aggression.

The rest of the letter offers us the alternative to the supposed revisionist Nepal Maoist line - namely Bob's Communism:

"Now, when the first wave of proletarian revolution
that began with the Paris Commune and continued
through the Cultural Revolution in China has ended
and a new wave of proletarian revolution has yet to
break forth, questions of ideology have taken on a particular
importance. Bob Avakian has stepped forward
to the challenge of summing up the tremendous experience
of the first wave of proletarian revolution, its
grievous shortcomings as well as its heroic accomplishments,
and has brought forward a New Synthesis."

Those pesky Nepal Maoists however just seem to think and keep demonstrating they just may have their own working and workable tactics to reach the new democracy, a novel development in the communist hypothesis. They gave the RCP only one concise letter of reply and otherwise seem to be failing to appropriately respond to the RCP with its "actual communism of the twenty-first century":

"But unfortunately, the leadership of the CPN(M) has adopted an opposite approach that accepts the unscientific anti‑communist verdicts of the international bourgeoisie and renounces the dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transition toward socialism and communism. Instead, the very old ideology of bourgeois democracy is being presented as “Communism of the twenty-first Century” and the actual communism of the twenty-first century as it is concretely emerging is being ignored, belittled or opposed."

The next section is a criticism of the fact that the Maoists are studying the economic model of Switzerland. The implication is that this means the intention is to foster capitalist exploitation:

"A basic question is whether development must
come by being more integrated into the capitalist and
imperialist system – that is by welcoming and organizing
more capitalist exploitation – or whether the socialist
road is actually possible: building a viable and
emancipatory social and economic system that in a
fundamental sense is opposed to the world capitalist

This use of the study of Switzerland gets considerable play in the Kasama discussion. The exposition of the evils of China and others who allowed capitalism to consume the revolution is interesting, but in fact there is nothing to prove the Maoists actually intend to foster exploitation, only that they intend to participate in a period of capitalist development. This not a revision of Maoism, in fact it follows the line of Mao himself as can be seen here

The RCP however concludes the straw man attack with the wrong information about Mao's complete repudiation of capitalist methods for advancing productive forces:

"Despite the claims of the CPN(M) leaders that
they are aiming eventually to achieve a communist
society, in truth they completely confound democracy
and communism. They are themselves prisoners of
their own world outlook. Furthermore, the CPN(M)
leadership is falling into the age‑old revisionist error
that the achievement of communism depends primarily
on the further advance of the productive forces, to
be achieved by capitalist ends. This is precisely the line that Mao and the revolutionaries in China fought out in the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution against Liu Shao‑chi and later Deng Xiao‑ping."

There is no evidence that the Maoists are following the line of Deng Xiao-ping nor can it be said their planning is a revision of Mao's own policy of engaging capitalist modes of production under constraints preventing exploitation. Yes there is the danger of revisionism, but there is no evidence that this is the intention. The whole continuation of the RCP polemic vs the eclecticism and centrism is rooted in the assumption that any engagement of capitalist modes is doomed:

"One of the particularities of centrism and eclecticism
is its refusal to make a clear‑cut demarcation between
Marxism and revisionism, but instead to try to
carve out a position “half‑way” between a revolutionary
communist ideology and politics and outright capitulation
and opportunism. In Nepal it is this form of centrist
revisionism that has become the greater danger,
not those who unabashedly proclaim their adhesion to
the ideology of multiparty democracy and the glories of
capitalism. The tired refrain is that there is the danger
of revisionism or rightism “on the one hand”, but there
is also the danger of “dogmatism” on the other, and that
by skillfully maneuvering between these two obstacles
the Party has gone from victory to victory. Or, there
is the recognition‑in-words of fundamental principles,
the “ABCs of Marxism”, such as the need to smash the
existing state apparatus, while the Party’s actual policy
goes completely contrary to this goal."

Reactionary forces are indeed involved in the state apparatus, in the UML and NC factions especially and in their influence in the National Army and the Supreme Court. Just because the Maoists have chosen to allow this as a tactical measure does not make them reactionary. Indeed even a cursory examination of the news shows the Maoists are clearly stating that if the reactionaries impede the decisions of the government under Maoist leadership they will indeed smash the apparatus. The point is this need not occur unless in fact exploitation cannot be eradicated and prevented following the present line. The fact is we don't know yet.