Monday, January 4, 2010

Are Nepal’s Maoists on a revisionist path? by Alastair Reith.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006, revolutionary communists across the world have treated the shift in tactics of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist with a mixture of suspicion and outright hostility. They have been accused of revisionism, of betraying the revolution, of surrendering the achievements of the People’s War and moving towards reformism. This is a debate that I expect will go on until either the succesful seizure of state power by the Maobadi or their defeat at the hands of reaction.

However, I feel that in the context of very low international support for what is probably the single most advanced revolutionary struggle in the world today, this is an important debate to be engaged in. The actual line and practice of Nepal’s revolutionaries needs to be given exposition and support. Criticisms should still be made as appropriate, but the general tendency on the Western ‘left’ is to act as if the Nepali Maoists owe *us* something, that they somehow need to prove themselves before we extend them support. Considering the life and death struggle for people’s power that has been going on for more than a decade and continues today, and considering the thousands of martyrs who gave their lives for a better world during the People’s War, this attitude is both deeply wrong and deeply arrogant.

The Nepali revolution is a living process. It, like all other things, is filled with contradiction and is constantly changing. It is not possible to do it justice in a short blog post. But I have been engaging in arguments in support of the UCPN (M) for some time now, and feel that some of the arguments I have made can hopefully help to shed light on the situation there. I don’t claim to be an ‘expert’, and my knowledge of events in Nepal is very limited. But from what I have been able to gain through Nepali and international media, first hand statements from foreign communists visiting Nepal and of course the public statements of the Maoist leadership, I am filled with hope and deeply inspired by the revolution unfolding right before our eyes in Nepal.

It needs our support. The arisen people of Nepal need our solidarity. Lal salam.
‘Red Dragon Rider’, a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party, made some negative and pessimistic comments about the line of the UCPN (M) and its current strategy on the online revolutionary discussion board, Revleft.

These comments were made in a thread about the false allegations that the Maoists use and abuse ‘child soldiers’. The RCP, despite being a member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement along with the UCPN (M), has refused to extend internationalist support and solidarity to their fraternal party due to disagreements with the current tactics of the UCPN (M).

The RCP has always had rather a dogmatic approach to Nepal – for example, in the early 90s, as part of preparation for the People’s War, the Maobadi launched serious political agitation in places like Rolpa, which would become their base areas. As part of this political agitation they took part in bourgeois elections, which due to their support amongst the poor peasants they won, and sent representatives to Nepal’s parliament. Their creative and non-dogmatic approach has been present from the beginning and has brought them little but success, but the RCP could not see past their own dogmatism and relations between the RCP and the RIM on the one hand and the Maobadi on the other became strained.

The RCP and the UCPN (M) have exchanged polemics with each other, which can be viewed here.

They are well worth a read, and the letter from the UCPN (M) in particular is a valuable theoretical text for the 21st century in it’s own right.

'Red Dragon Rider' posted this.

RDR: (As for our Nepalese “comrades”, I cannot honestly say I identify with their current line, but I do think they deserve to be defended against these sort of ridiculous, slanderous attacks.)

When pressed to explain why he did ‘identify’ with the line of the UCPN (M), RDR responded with this (note the placement of both ‘comrade’ and ‘Maoists’ in brackets).

RDR: Why do I disagree with them [the Nepalese "Maoists"]?

Because since late 2005, they’ve turned to an eclectic approach to the resolving of line questions. This crucial mistake has led them to abandon their revolutionary people’s war (which they had been winning!) in favor of “tactically” establishing and moreover actually joining and heading up a bourgeois republic (rather than a people’s republic). Having been predictably expelled from said government, they now exist in a state of disarray, with revisionism of all sorts running rampant throughout the party. The party leader, Prachanda, for example, has recently explained that he is “not an atheist”. As far as I can tell, there is little hope in this situation, though of course we should be fervently struggling with them over what is the problem and what is the solution.

I then responded with what follows. I apologise for any difficulty in reading, this was written as part of an ongoing discussion of an internet forum rather than as an essay or something similar.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* **

RDR: Because since late 2005, they’ve turned to an eclectic approach to the resolving of line questions.

Alastair: This is not true. Frankly I much prefer the approach the Maobadi have taken to two-line struggles to that traditionally taken by Marxist-Leninists. They have put unity-struggle- unity into practice, and in the line struggles between the different factions within the party, they have chosen to merge their positions and seek compromises that allow the party to emerge stronger and more united than ever, rather than trying to either silence dissent or split like ML and Trotskyist parties usually do.

This approach is also more in line with that of the Bolsheviks for most of their existence. When Zinoviev and Kamenev came out on the eve of the insurrection openly revealing the Bolshevik’s plans and denouncing them, calling instead for a coalition govt of the left parties, Lenin didn’t call for them to be expelled or silenced. The Bolsheviks always tolerated internal dissent, disagreement and was very much a multi-tendency party. And the Maoists in Nepal have been very clear on this – a party without struggle is a dead party.

RDR: This crucial mistake has led them to abandon their revolutionary people’s war (which they had been winning!)

Alastair: This is an uninformed and highly misleading statement. People’s War is by its very nature more than a military struggle, it is a struggle on every front imaginable, involving every section of the masses that can be mobilised. Tactics have to change depending on the situation, and the Maobadi have been very clear on the reasons for their change in tactics. It’s only dogmatic RCP types like yourself who refuse to listen.

Leading Maoist Gaurav gave a thorough explanation of the recent shift in tactics, which I am reposting below.

Peoples War from Strategic Defensive

So this was the situation and the People’s War developed according to the theory of comrade Mao Zedong. The People’s War started from strategic defensive, without arms and without an army and it developed to the higher state, from strategic equilibrium to strategic offensive. In the course of 10 years of People’s War we have developed a very strong People’s Liberation Army. Because we are in the concluding stage of strategic offensive, the task of the revolution is to seize central political power, a countrywide seizure of power. Hence, we had to capture Kathmandu, which is the capital of Nepal. We had to capture the capital and the major towns as well as some district headquarters.

Our People’s Liberation Army is right at the gate of Kathmandu valley. If you have ever gone to Kathmandu, there is one place called Tangot, it is the main gate to enter Kathmandu. Here there was a big police station, in which we annihilated almost two dozen armed forces without any loss from our side, and so we captured Tangot. Right after that we entered into the process of this negotiation.

Many revolutionaries, many Maoists and our comrades have raised one question. You reached the gate of Kathmandu, why was it necessary to enter into the peace process? That is a big question.

War to the Gates — Why Then Change Tactics?

True, we had liberated 80% of the countryside and we had reached up to the gate of Kathmandu. But in order to seize countrywide power, for countrywide victory, our strength was not enough. The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) was confined to their barracks, they could seldom come out. Whenever they were carrying out actions against our forces, they could just suddenly come out of their barracks, go 4-5 kilometres away from the barracks and encircle a village, and kill each and every person they found before returning. The next day they would propagate that they had killed a number of Maoists from the People’s Liberation Army.

Actually, they were not able to kill our force. They killed the common people. That was their practice for almost one year, since one year back. On the one hand, the RNA could not actually inflict any defeat on our People’s Liberation Army. On the other hand, we were not able to capture their big barracks. They were well fortified, especially with the help of US military experts. They used land mines to surround the barracks, and they used barbed wire. We tried many times but we failed to capture their barracks. That was the situation militarily. We were in a stagnant position militarily. We were trying to make a breakthrough but were not able to capture the barracks, because they were well fortified, and they had lots of modern weapons supplied by India and also helicopters. We were unable to achieve further military victory.

That was the military situation and so far as the political situation is concerned we enjoyed the support of the urban people, but it was not to the level that was required for general insurrection. The support was there, but finally to capture the city and the capital it was necessary to carry out insurrection, revolt. The support provided by the masses was not at a sufficient level in the cities including Kathmandu, because the masses were divided. Some supported Nepali Congress, other people supported other parties and the level of support of the masses was not enough that was required to achieve the final victory. So this was the political situation.

A Plan for Broadening Political Support

So in the midst of this situation we decided that in order to get further support from the masses our party should take some other initiatives to gather further strength. Otherwise the war would remain in a stagnant situation. Neither the enemy could defeat us, nor could we defeat the enemy. That was the situation. For how long could we continue this situation? War has its own dynamics, it cannot stay still for a long time, for example, if we cannot win victory, the enemy will eventually be able to defeat us. We had to take a new initiative. According to the dynamics of war you have to find a new way to maintain a dynamic situation, we should not be in a static situation in a war for long.

In those circumstances our party decided to take different steps, other political manoeuvres. Our party worked out alternative political tactics of going to the negotiations. Right from the beginning we explained People’s War as a total war. Sometimes there is a wrong notion among Maoists that People’s War is simply the war in which we confront the opposite army, the confrontation between two armies, but this is not true. People’s War is different. People’s War is a total war. We are confronting the enemy on all fronts, including the military front as well as the political front, economic front and also cultural front. On different fronts we have to fight the war, so it is a total war.

RDR: in favor of “tactically” establishing and moreover actually joining and heading up a bourgeois republic (rather than a people’s republic).

Alastair: The Maobadi have also been very clear that the stage of consolidating the bourgeois democratic republic has ended. The struggle is now for a People’s Republic, and the principal contradictions are now with the comprador-bourgeois ie at home and Indian expansionism and US imperialism abroad.

This was given excellent exposition in Comrade Bhattarai’s recent and incredibly important interview with the WPRM. The RCP can learn from the approach of the WPRM, British Maoists who sent cadre to Nepal as part of an internationalist effort to expose what is taking place there. This very valuable interview was one of the many good things that came out of that trip.

The follow passages shed a lot of light on the strategy the UCPN (M) has been following.

There are some ambiguous features in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Our understanding, the revolutionary party’s understanding, was that after abolishing the monarchy and establishing a bourgeois democratic republic, the proletarian party would take the initiative and launch forward the struggle towards New Democratic Revolution. We knew the bourgeois forces, after the abolition of the monarchy, would try to resist, and our main contradiction then would be with the bourgeois democratic parties. This we had foreseen. So we have not said that after the abolition of the monarchy we’ll stop there. We never said that. What we have said is that we would align with the bourgeois democratic parties to abolish the monarchy, and after the abolition of the monarchy then the contention would be between the bourgeois forces and the proletarian forces. A new field of struggle would start. That was clearly stated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the subsequent interim constitution and other documents we passed.

After the Constituent Assembly elections, when our party emerged as the largest force and we abolished the monarchy, there was a lot of enthusiasm among the masses of the people. Our party’s tactical line had been correctly implemented. That gave a tremendous force to the basic masses of the people and our support greatly increased. For the time being we cooperated with the interim government also, because by participating in that coalition government we thought we could work within the bureaucracy, within the army, within the police and within the judiciary, in order to build our support base through those state structures, which would help us for future revolutionary activities. With that in mind we participated in the coalition government. After the abolition of the monarchy, when the main contradiction would start with the bourgeois democratic forces, then our struggle took a new turn.

After April 2009 [when Prachanda resigned from government], that phase of the Constituent Assembly and implementation of the bourgeois democratic republic was more or less complete. Our understanding is to now carry on the struggle forwards to complete the New Democratic Revolution. So again we made a tactical shift, showing that from now on our major fight would be with the bourgeois democrat parties who are backed by imperialism and the expansionist forces. With this thinking our party left the government and now we are focusing on the mass movement, so that now we could really practice what we have been preaching. That means the fusion of the strategy of PPW and the tactic of general insurrection. What we have been doing since 2005 is the path of preparation for general insurrection through our work in the urban areas and our participation in the coalition government.

But what one should not forget was that we had never ever surrendered the gains of the PPW, what we had gained during the ten years of struggle. We had formulated the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), we had our base areas, we had a lot of mass support, and all this we have been able to preserve. But we have not been able to convey to our comrades outside the country that the gains of the People’s War were never surrendered. The PLA is still with us, and the arms we collected during that war are still with us within the single-key system, monitored by the United Nations team, but basically the key is with us and the army is with us and we have never surrendered. This shows we have not abandoned the path of PPW. What we have done is suspended that part of the activity for some time and focused more on the urban activities so that we could make a correct balance between the military and political aspects of struggle. After some time we will be able to combine both aspects of PPW and general insurrection to mount a final insurrection to capture state power. We would like to stress that we are still continuing in the path of revolution, but the main features we tried to introduce were to make a fusion between the theory of PPW and the tactic of general insurrection. After coming to the peaceful phase I think whatever confusion there was has been mitigated and people realise we are still on the revolutionary path.

Now we are preparing for the final stage of the completion of the New Democratic Revolution. In a few months when the contradiction will sharpen between the proletarian and bourgeois forces, maybe there will be some intervention from the imperialist and expansionist forces. During that time we may again be forced to have another round of armed clashes. Our party is already aware of that and we have decided to again focus on the basic masses of the people both in urban and rural areas. To strengthen those mass bases we have formed the United National People’s Movement, which will be preparing for both struggle in the urban areas and to strengthen our mass base in the countryside. In the decisive stage of confrontation with the reactionary forces we could again combine our bases in the rural areas and our support in the urban areas for a final assault against the enemy to complete the revolution.

I would like to say we have never abandoned PPW, the only thing is that there has been a tactical shift within the strategy. This is one point. The other point is that being a Maoist we believe in continuous revolution. Revolution never stops. Even when one stage is completed, immediately the new stage should be continued. Only that way can we reach socialism and communism. That is a basic tenet of Maoism. Being a Maoist, this reasoning of continuous revolution can never be abandoned. We are still in the course of PPW, though the tactics have shifted according to the nature of the time. But there is a confusion in the international community of proletarian forces, and we would like to clarify this, but I think this thing can be better done in practice than in words. Anyhow we are confident we can convince our comrades who have some doubts about our activities that we are still pursuing the path of revolution. We will complete the revolution in a new way and we have to show that revolution is possible even in the 21st century. And Nepal can be a model of revolution in the 21st century.

Alastair: And below is more information on their actual line, taken from a document a Maoist leader published on one of their websites recently documenting the outcome of their debates about how to move forward.

1.a. People’s Federal Republic – Our party has reached to the conclusion that a new concept about the republic is necessary. According to it, the party as taken a decision to use People’s Republic in place of Democratic Republic. This, in reality, is only the decision that is/will be able to take the political crisis to a solution. Because, the problems and the crisis that are increasing in the country day by day are mainly the out come of the present state power, state machinery or the bourgeois republic; though there are other secondary reasons. The expectation of the people for emancipation is not possible until and unless the drastic change in the state system is brought.

It is a true reality that the establishment of the republic is an important historical phenomenon. However, it was compulsory that the establishment of republic had to arouse some of the important queries and they had. Specially, after the establishment of the republic, the primary questions like who would be the owner of the republic, whom the republic should serve and what will be the characteristics of republic, that are obvious.

Our party had considered the democratic republic as a transitional
republic (neither bourgeoisie nor the people’s). It meant that the emphasis
would be given to transfer the transitional republic into People’s Republic and establish the people as the owner of the republic. Our party made efforts with its hard work from the declaration of the republic to the constitutional action taken over the then Army-Chief Rukmangad Katawal by the elected government. Many struggles were held, however, the effort became fruitful due to the Imperialist, Expansionist and their lackeys. Rather, the declared republic has lost its transitional character and has adopted bourgeois character after the interference of the step of the President, building of a puppet government and the foreign intervention. Bourgeois class has been the owner of this republic.

The republic, instead of being the republic of the people (mainly the peasants and the workers), has been changed into the republic of handful comprador capitalist and the feudal lords. There will be no security of the rights of the people rather there will be repression over the rights of the people. By viewing this, the conclusion of the political programme taken by our party about the bourgeois republic and the given slogan to establish Peoples Republic instead of it is crystal clear and correct.

Prachanda, Chairman of the UCPN (M)

Alastair: I can provide further information if you like to show what their actual line is on the bourgeois democratic republic that has arisen since they succeeded in abolishing the monarchy, and I can provide further information on their explanation for why they have changed their tactics. You, as a militarist and a dogmatist, cannot seem to understand what the MLM conception of revolution is, and instead assume it to be seizure of power through a linear series of military victories. As Bhattarai rightly points out, in his explanation of their new tactics, ‘if you don’t take note of the existing balance of forces, both politically and militarily in the country and outside, firstly it will be difficult to capture state power and secondly even after capturing state power it will be difficult to sustain it.‘

You want revolution to happen in a straight line, with plenty of quotes from your favourite members of the Marxist pantheon being thrown about and all the revolutionary party’s plans laid out for everyone to see. This is an incorrect conception of how revolution’s take place.

RDR: Having been predictably expelled from said government, they now exist in a state of disarray, with revisionism of all sorts running rampant throughout the party

Alastair: This is a highly arrogant statement to make, not to mention a completely inaccurate one. First of all, they were not expelled. Prachanda resigned, in a move that came as a shock to the Nepali media and most of the Nepali political establishment, who had never seen a politician willingly relinquish power before! The participation in the government, as has been made clear, was a tactical move on the Maobadi’s part to weaken the state structure from within and expose to the masses in practice, before their open eyes, that change cannot come from within the halls of parliament. We can write articles and make speeches about how it requires revolutionary mass action to radically change society and that the ruling class will never allow change to take place peacefully. This is Marxism ABC, and Marxist intellectuals like ourselves know this in our heads. But the Maobadi have gone a step further, and have shown to all Nepalis, even to the most illiterate uneducated peasant or labourer, that change cannot come through parliament. Their participation in the government, their attempts to push forward their revolutionary programme, their efforts to break the power of the feudalist military institution and put it under the control of the people, an effort they took in full knowledge that it would be unsuccesful, has clearly shown to the toiling masses of Nepal that the establishment in their country will not allow change.

Revolutionary leaders: L-R, Kiran, Prachanda and Bhattarai during the People's War

It has always amazed me that people in the West can assume that Prachanda, Bhattarai, Kiran and the other leaders of the Nepali revolution were naive enough to think they could push their revolutionary program successfully through a parliament where they did not hold an outright majority. These are not idiots – these are the leaders of the most successful revolutionary struggle in decades, leaders who have been waging struggling blow for blow with the ruling class for decades now. These people know what they’re doing. I believe they entered into the coalition government in the full knowledge that this period in government would end with a collision between them and the reactionary parties. They could have just waited another four months for Army chief General Katawal to retire without a fuss, but instead they chose to push the issue and demand his resignation for insubordination. And when faced with the President’s veto of this move, they could have meekly accepted his decision or even tried to struggle against it within the halls of parliament. But no, instead they resigned from government, shut down parliament for months and sent their supporters into the streets in successive waves of mass demonstrations culminating in a general strike across Nepal. They have stepped up land seizures. They have declared 13 autonomous states across Nepal. And they have not budged in their demand that the President’s move be condemned as unconstitutional, and have not budged in their demand for civilian supremacy. These are not the actions of a party seeking to win change in some legalistic, reformist manner. These are the actions of a party actively seeking confrontation, a party throwing itself into a massive game of chicken with the ruling class. The reason, I believe, that the Maoists entered the coalition government was so they could use a grand stage, with the whole nation watching, to prove to the masses that further struggle was needed and the revolution could not advance through the halls of Singh Dabur.

The struggle in Nepal at the moment revolves around the drafting of a new constitution. Everything rests upon this, the Constituent Assembly exists for that purpose alone and the politics of the nation are consumed by this question. What is a constitution? A constitution, as the Maobadi put it, is “the basic law of the nation. This makes law on the form of the state, system of leadership, fundamental rights of the people, sovereignty of the nation etc.”

A struggle around the drafting of a new constitution is not just some bourgeois war of words. It is a struggle around how everything should be, a struggle around who should power in society and how they should exercise it. It is a struggle that necessitates the drafting of a new social contract, and thus triggers a determined resistance from those who benefit from the current arrangement. The struggle over a new constitution in Nepal is a struggle between radically different visions of society – the Maobadi’s “People’s Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal”, and the status-quoists “Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal”. The word “People’s” is an important one, as it sums up the difference between the two visions. The Maoists want a radically democratic, decentralised system of government in which the workers and peasants hold political power and in which the rights to food, shelter, employment, healthcare, basic freedoms etc are constitutionally guaranteed, and where society is organised in such a way as to ensure these constitutional guarantees are met.

Maoist members of the Constituent Assembly, where they are by far the biggest party with 40% of the seats, protested and prevented parliament from sitting for months

The reactionaries and status-quoists oppose all this, and seek to preserve the existing state of affairs with some cosmetic changes. Recently the Constitutional Committees of the Constituent Assembly made their final votes on the various proposals put forward. The Maoists put forward most of the proposals, and almost every one they put forward was defeated. They don’t hold an absolute majority in parliament (although a leader of the Nepali Congress recently stated that if elections were held tomorrow the Maoists could win up to a two-thirds majority while his own party would face serious losses!). What they do have though, is veto power over the constitution. It requires a 2/3 majority to pass, and the Maoists have 40% of the Constituent Assembly. Not a single word can be passed without their approval, and as far as I can see they have no intention of allowing a status-quo constitution to be passed. Their threats to declare the constitution from the streets are not empty ones, and they are not insignificant ones. It is highly likely that the deadline for passing the constitution early next year will pass, and then shit’s really going to hit the fan. There will be calls to dissolve the CA, to impose presidential rule backed up by the military, and everything from the Interim Constitution to the Comprehensive Peace Accords will be thrown into doubt.

So the struggle over the constitution is not an inconsequential one. It is a life and death struggle which has the attention of millions of Nepalis, and it is a struggle between two visions of two very, very different worlds.

Revisionism is not running rampant throughout the party. Their commitment to revolution and capturing state power is as firm as ever, and the Maobadi are working under the operative principle of ’strategic firmness, tactical flexibility’. To attack the Maobadi for changing their tactics and being flexible and pragmatic in their approach is not only ridiculous, it is fundamentally anti-Leninist. As Lenin said in his classic work, ‘Left-Wing Communism’:
“To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie, a war which is a hundred times more difficult, protracted and complex than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to renounce in advance any change of tack, or any utilisation of a conflict of interests (even if temporary) among one’s enemies, or any conciliation or compromise with possible allies (even if they are temporary, unstable, vacillating or conditional allies)—is that not ridiculous in the extreme? Is it not like making a difficult ascent of an unexplored and hitherto inaccessible mountain and refusing in advance ever to move in zigzags, ever to retrace one’s steps, or ever to abandon a course once selected, and to try others? …

…The more powerful enemy can be vanquished only by exerting the utmost effort, and by the most thorough, careful, attentive, skilful and obligatory use of any, even the smallest, rift between the enemies, any conflict of interests among the bourgeoisie of the various countries and among the various groups or types of bourgeoisie within the various countries, and also by taking advantage of any, even the smallest, opportunity of winning a mass ally, even though this ally is temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable and conditional. Those who do not understand this reveal a failure to understand even the smallest grain of Marxism, of modern scientific socialism in general. Those who have not proved in practice, over a fairly considerable period of time and in fairly varied political situations, their ability to apply this truth in practice have not yet learned to help the revolutionary class in its struggle to emancipate all toiling humanity from the exploiters. And this applies equally to the period before and after the proletariat has won political power. “

The Western revolutionary left urgently needs to study this work again and come to grips with Lenin’s arguments in it. Lenin was above all a brilliant tactician, as was Mao after him, and one of the great reasons for their success was that they played their enemies of against each other, as Lenin talks about in the second paragraph above. There was no dogmatic, eternal struggle against all the reactionaries at once. The Bolsheviks and the CPC formed tactical alliances even with sections of their enemies. The Chinese Communists merged the People’s Army with the KMT’s forces to fight the Japanese, and ended up stronger for it.

The whole basis of Mao’s bloc of four classes theory is the classic Maoist principle of ‘uniting all those who can be united’, which can perhaps itself be seen as the application of Mao’s theories of guerilla warfare to the realm of political manoeuvring. In guerilla warfare, you choose your battles and opponents very carefully. You don’t attack except in situations where victory is probable, and when you do attack you concentrate your forces and attack with superior numbers, and if possible superior firepower. The same goes for politics – why should the Maoists have bitterly fought the monarchy, the bourgeois parties and Indian expansionism all at once until they won? For one thing, they’d probably still be fighting a long, bitter and bloody war, with Nepal becoming another Columbia or Afghanistan. Bhattarai has recently come out with some fascinating quotes about how the Maboadi are concerned about exactly that, and that they don’t want Nepal turning into another Afghanistan. Any why should they? If by changing their tactics and the form of their struggle they can prevent India from sending troops across the border, or more likely just closing the border and letting Nepal starve, why should they not do this?

Their strategy since 2006 can be seen reasonably simply. By aligning with the bourgeois parties and seeking at least cordial relations with India, they were able to isolate and ultimately bring down the monarchy. That phase is now over. Their new struggle is against the bourgeois parties, the Nepal Army and India, for ‘civilian supremacy’ and ‘national independence’ (there has been a very recent shift in their slogans, with the new main emphasis of their protests being opposition to Indian interference in Nepal and defence of Nepali nationalism) .They are a disciplined, unified and tightly run organisation with thousands of fulltime party activists, and they also maintain a very healthy internal democratic culture. This is not ‘eclecticism’, this is a living organisation that reflects the contradictions in society around it. To the supporter of a monolothic organisation like the RCP with its ridiculous cult of personality around Avakian, I can understand how this must be a culture that’s difficult to appreciate.

RDR: As far as I can tell, there is little hope in this situation, though of course we should be fervently struggling with them over what is the problem and what is the solution.

Alastair: No, our primary role should be to support them and their revolution. People with your attitude must go through life so depressed! When there’s a real, living breathing revolution taking place on the other side of the world, your gut reaction isn’t hope and inspiration or even solidarity, its pessimism. You start out with the belief that the Maoists have sold out the revolution, and you search eagerly for any information that supports this view, rather than doing a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions and how the Maobadi are navigating their way through them.

The Maobadi already responded to the RCP’s polemic against them. Your party has totally failed to live up to its internationalist duties, has allowed the RIM to stagnate and has assumed an arrogant, idealist and downright ridiculous position of pushing Avakian, the leader of a small sect in the USA, down the throats of mass revolutionary parties. If anything, rather than the UCPN (M) giving ‘serious attention to engaging with the body of work, method and approach, the New Synthesis, that Bob Avakian has been bringing forward’, the RCP should be adopting Prachanda Path!

RDR: In terms of what a correct line would have looked like in an applied form in Nepal, the Maoist revolutionaries should have continued to pursue their people’s war through to its conclusion, with the seizure of power and the establishment of a people’s republic that would work through a transitory process of new democratic revolution that would open the door to socialism.

Alastair: Why would you know better than people like Gajurel, Kiran, Bhattarai, Prachanda, Biplap and so on what is and is not possible in Nepal? They did not want to try and conquer Kathmandu at riflepoint. Partly because they didn’t have the military strength to take RNA barracks, but also because they didn’t want to invite foreign intervention turning their country into ‘another Afghanistan’ and because they didn’t want to pull a Pol Pot and conquer the working class, rather than inspire it to achieve it’s own liberation.

Indefinite war without flexibility of tactics didn’t work in Peru. Why should it work in Nepal? Nepal was never just a People’s War, the Maoists sought and won political support from the masses before launching the war. And you know how they did this? They took part in bourgeois elections in places like Rolpa, and eventually earned the electoral support of the people and were elected to parliament! If your accusing Prachanda and co of being revisionists for changing their tactics and prioritising unarmed political struggle over violence, then you must think they were revisionists from the start! And frankly, I find it hard to believe that a revisionist party could lead such a succesful People’s War for so long.

In short, the struggle in Nepal is complex and mutlifaceted. But the tactics of the UCPN (M) have so far only taken the revolution forward, and there is little evidence to suggest that the party is in any way on a reformist or a revisionist path.

We have more reason to hope than to feel doubt. The future of Nepal’s revolution is uncertain, but one way or another the new generation of young Nepalis has been born into a revolution, and I’m confident that they will know how to finish it victoriously.

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