The presentation had been arranged prior to the astounding recent developments in Iran. Obviously the event was eclipsed by the more important need for an explosive emotional response from the members of the audience to the unfolding events. I did have an opportunity to get to my presentation (in a much truncated version) late in the evening's agenda and I did gain some recognition and appreciation of my main points in the context of the current revolt - especially from those present who experienced the revolutionary events in Iran in 1979.
Essentially my point was that the uprising and revolt in Iran today can be the seed of a revolution, or maybe the resurrection of the truly revolutionary cause of 1979, but it is not properly a revolution since this is not an armed rebellion. One cannot minimize the current revolt on the streets of Tehran , its important, but it is quite distinct from the very similar appearing struggle in the streets of Kathmandu. Among the questions afterward was the predictable one. The questioner pointed out that Gandhi made changes without a gun. Well, what to do but point out India today. More experienced listeners echoed the "hardliners" among the Maoists - questioning whether the Prachanda/Bhattarai line smacks of revisionism. Again, my response pointed to the fact that the real threat of armed rebellion was nonetheless the key leverage behind the tactics involved in engaging global capitalists and multi-party politics. This argument was the key message to the Iranian comrades about the Maobadi and what this portends for the long run of any true revolution in Iran.
I want to share some of the power point slides of the presentation and some notes for them. I have two reasons for this beyond simply information to all other readers of this entry. One is to give anyone who attended the presentation in LA a more fully developed concept of what I wanted to say. The other is in anticipating the content for those who have invited me to speak in Washington to the Iranian Leftists there - a presentation I am happy to say is being rescheduled for a couple of weeks later or longer, when as I will explain, it may be better for a situation residual to the ending of the active revolt at this time.
Let me say once more that the present revolt in Iran is an inspiring development for all who hope for world emancipation from elitist coordinates of power, religious or secular. However, the coordinates of power are not really in much danger of being undermined as long as there is no leadership or militant capacity of the people. As Savoj Zizek states in his new article replicated in this blog yesterday:
The future is uncertain – in all probability, those in power will contain the popular explosion, and the cat will not fall into the precipice, but regain ground. However, it will no longer be the same regime, but just one corrupted authoritarian rule among others.
True, if an increment of emancipatory change occurs following a few weeks of bloodshed it would be a kind of result, maybe even justifying result, but it would not be a solution to the systemic problem of class society, of the existence of an oppressor class. That takes a Revolution, something never allowed by elite classes with a standing army to protect their hegemony over the rest. Let me turn to the presentation.
The opening slide 1 (click to enlarge - back arrow to return to text):
1. An individual perspective: the popular revolt and leadership of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
2. A brief historical overview: orientation to recent developments and factors in the current situation
3. The important possibilities of people power : “the revolutionary front on the streets”
4. Opinion: theoretical basis of the novel manifestation of the communist hypothesis by the Maoist Party
Slides 2 and 3 Why I am speaking and quotes that are key to the narratives that follow:
1. Brief on background to presentation: Personal and professional history in conflict resolution including work and life in former Soviet Union, Central Asia and China then tours in Nepal. Writing on the Maobadi and on study of modern continental philosophers on communism - Savoj Zizek and Alain Badiou. Recent interviews with Maoist leaders being published on a number of websites.
2. The Zizek quote on Lenin:
"Lenin's obsessive tirades against formal freedom worth saving today; when he underlines that there is no pure democracy, that we should always ask whom a freedom under consideration serves, his point is precisely to maintain the possibility of a true choice. Formal freedom is the freedom of choice within the coordinates of the existing power relations, while actual freedom designates the site of an intervention that undermines these very coordinates"
Narrative: It is important to ask if the revolt in Iran must be carried forward to armed revolution if in fact there is to be actual freedom by destroying the elitist coordinates of power. By this definition we can grasp that nothing but dictatorship exists even in the case of multi-party parliamentarian government. Because the Maoists of Nepal have fought an armed revolution and have the capacity to resurrect it, the revolt on nepal has a potential far more potent than what is present in Iran today and this is an important message for the Iranian people.
3. The Badiou quote on the communist hypothesis:
"What is the communist hypothesis? In its generic sense, given in its canonic Manifesto, ‘communist’ means, first, that the logic of class—the fundamental subordination of labor to a dominant class, the arrangement that has persisted since Antiquity—is not inevitable; it can be overcome. The communist hypothesis is that a different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth and even the division of labor. The private appropriation of massive fortunes and their transmission by inheritance will disappear. The existence of a coercive state, separate from civil society, will no longer appear a necessity: a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers will see it withering away.“
Narrative: The quote defines an egalitarian maxim, probably only approached with radical transformation of human nature. He suggests emergence of the hypothesis in evolving manifestations throughout history and the future. He also emphasizes the necessity of novelty in the character of each successive manifestation and that the process requires a revolutionary faith. The presentation speaks to the great experiment of Nepal as novel 21st century communism and how it informs revolutionary possibilities in the objective conditions of Iran.
Slides 4-6 A brief History of Imperialist Intervention and Peoples Revolution
Narrative: The slides will provide a more detailed outline of the history while I simply outline the major aspects and the most recent developments since 1990 - it is key to understand that revolutions are characterized by the specific objective conditions at hand, this is true for Iran as it has been for Nepal:
1. Parliamentary government replacing a monarchy with a constitutional monarchy began as early as 1990 – it proved to be completely ineffective in ending semi-feudal conditions and simply magnified the role of oppressor classes.
2. So violent revolution ensued 1996 for 10 years – essentially reaching a military stalemate between the RA and the PLA
3. Indian hegemony behind the RA made a turn in facilitating Maoist entry into multi-party politics in hope of a leftist buffer & resolving armed conflict
Narrative: This was the situation in 2005-6 when I made my first tour of Nepal. Again, I am aiming to illustrate the objective conditions which are no doubt very different from those in Iran while the dialectic of theory and practice there holds key lessons for the future of other nations.
4. Indians lost a large degree of control when surprisingly the Maoists won a major share of the CA and began to lead the government
5. The reactionaries provided as much impediment to the Maoists as possible, culminating in blocking Maoist’s mandatory requirement for civilian control over the NA and PLA integration
Narrative: The Maoists attempt to establish civilian supremacy and the subsequent resignation from government took place during my recent tour April to June 2009. The absolute necessity of putting an end to the standing army of the reactionaries is a major axiom of seizing actual state power anywhere be it Nepal or Iran.
6. Maobadi decided to withdraw from the government front but still controls the political situation from the CA and the streets
7. The newly formed government is locked in internal power struggles, the functioning of the house is blocked by Maoist insistence on civilian control, the streets are becoming increasingly violent
Narrative: Let me begin to recap in more detail the nature of the current situation. The objective conditions of Nepal are unique to Nepal; however, if Iran is to approach a republic of the peoples through multi-party parliamentary government, the story in Nepal can be very instructive:
1. The Nepali Congress party as you see has been supported by the Indians since 1951. Today the NC holds only 114 of the 601 seats in the constituent assembly, but they still effectively represent the landowners and a semi-feudal society as well as the imperialistic Indian hegemony.
2. In 1990 when popular uprising against the monarchy resulted in establishment of a constitutional monarchy, the next decade of so-called “democracy” was dominated by the NC.
3. In the struggle for land reform and other countering of Indian hegemony the United Marxist Leninist party has played a role, but the UML despite its apparent communist orientation is not revolutionary is revisionist and has demonstrated repeated collaboration with the reactionaries.
4. The UML holds 109 seats in the CA and with backing by the NC now participating in government following the resignation of the Maoists, are attempting to lead the new government.
5. The UCPN (M) controls 234 seats of the CA and alone cannot control the government with a majority of 301, though larger than NC/UML at 221.
6. More significantly must garner a 2/3 vote to pass even a single provision of the new constitution. So the task is to get support from UML defectors or from the balance of 144 in the total 601.
Slide 7 Current Socio-Economic Status of Nepal – The Legacy of Dictatorship of the Reactionaries
Narrative: While you read about conditions in Nepal illustrating the effects of rule by the oppressor classes I will fill in some details about the very recent history leading to the Maoist government resignation:
1. It is very significant that the Maoist support is drawn from the oppressed classes as opposed to the oppressor classes who support the NC along with the collaborators within the UML.
2. Maoist support is not predominantly hard core communist – the people are not theoretically grounded, but they are learning though practice. The Maoists are pursuing a tactic of democratic centralism (much more on this later)
3. The Indian hegemony concerns not just Indian imperialism but also a cultural oppression in the form of the class divisions formed by the caste system, which at – these comprise again the polarity of NC and Maobadi supporters.
4. The imperialist and cultural class divisions at the same time involve the division of landholders and landless peasants an issue which is numerically greater in the Tarai regions of Nepal.
Slide 8 The Constituent Assembly Tasked With Creating New Nepal’s Constitution
Narrative: I have put up the numbers I briefly introduced a few minutes ago. Its a complex picture. Now you can look these over a bit while I give you a thorough analysis:
1. The key seats in this scenario are 81seats of that remaining 144. These 81 are formed by a coalition of parties representing the objectives of the ethnic and regional objectives of the Tarai region, the border regions with India, with its own mix of oppressed classes and caste divisions.
2. The Maoists led the government less than a year. They did manage to collect a good amount of funds for development projects but there were obvious difficulties in implementing programs because of the political conditions.
3. Nonetheless considerable planning and evolution of the political infrastructure for development occurred with the help of the Tarai factions and some among the UML despite on-going hindrances of the NC and other international influences.
4. The Maobadi have struck a balance between the vested interests of the Indians and the Chinese while also seeking relationship with socialist countries who can serve as models and economic support.
5. Of particular note is the vast hydropower resources of Nepal (ironic given most of the country is currently without power and even Kathmandu experiences power shut downs several hours a day). Significant assistance from Norway has been a specific accomplishment of the Maoists.
6. There is no doubt the Maoists have had a long term sometimes collaborative relationship with the Indians themselves, but the relationship developing with the Chinese has also opened an avenue for leverage to remove and replace long standing treaties over-balanced in Indian favor.
7. A very important factor during recent years and particularly during the months in government leadership is the Maobadi increasing their militant strength. Once they entered the cities, especially in Kathmandu, they quickly infiltrated all the unions and student bodies. They have grown the YCL a lot. It is an open secret that the union members as well as the YCL are now well armed and are a significant addition to the PLA as a threat of armed revolt.
Narrative: Given the Maoists have been able to make some progress in solidifying their power and moving towards development of Nepal’s infrastructure and hydropower potential, why you may ask have they resigned from government?
1. The fact is actual state power does not exist without civilian supremacy over the standing army. The integration of the Peoples Liberation Army sequestered in a number of cantonments with the former Royal Army, now the National Army has made no progress.
2. The NA is de facto the standing army in service not to Nepal but to the reactionary parties, the NC in particular and even the still active royalists. The PLA still exists with easy access to weapons and to some extent the people supporting the Maobadi are armed.
3. Also the judiciary, the Supreme Court, its members having gained office during the prior decade under the king and the political influence of the NC, has hardly been a supportive element to the Maoist agenda. Corruption in Nepal is blatantly systemic.
4. The sequence leading to the present impasse began with the Maoist led government moving to prevent the extended tenure of 8 NA generals, insisting they be retired. The decision was effectively blocked by a stay order from the Supreme Court.
5. The Maobadi then sought removal of the Chief of the NA alleging that he had defied civilian control and breached the terms of a 2006 peace deal. The government fired him, but immediately the ceremonial President of the republic reversed the government’s order on a very flimsy legal basis.
6. In seeking to force the President to reverse his order the Maoists were deserted by their coalition allies in government, the UML as well as the factions from the Tarai.
7. PM Prachanda promptly resigned himself and the UCPN (M) from government rather than accept a situation of dual power with the Army backed by reactionary parties. An Indian puppet state was just as quickly instituted through the NC support of a government formally led by the UML.
8. The resignation occurred in early May initiating all kinds of dispute over interpretations of the interim constitution and the blockage of action in the house by the Maoists insisting on a debate within the CA over the president’s reinstatement of the army chief. Mass protests are underway by the people in support of the Maoist demands.
Slides 9 through 11 The Primary Front: The People Take the Streets (Frequently as Whenever Necessary)
Narrative: I'll be showing some slides taken during my participation in some of the mass protests. It looks a lot like what is happening in Iran these recent days. There is a big difference though. You will not see heavy handed interference form the police or the army. The fact is the reactionaries are helpless to stop the people from shutting down the infrastructure and rightfully fear an armed uprising from the combined militant power of the PLA, Unions and YCL.
1. As we speak, the UML and the NC have haggling factions over key leadership positions. The UML is in clear danger of a split. The three factions comprising the critical block of CA votes from the Tarai are in deep conflict with the UML over power positions and likewise experiencing their own internal rifts.
2. The Maoists are being cajoled daily by the all parties trying to administer the state to return to participation in government, but the Maoists will not budge on the requirement of removal of Katawal and civilian supremacy in the integration process. The Constituent Assembly is at a standstill and the only place where any power is being exercised is in the streets.
Narrative: I want to share what it was like to see first hand the energy and dedication of the people in revolt. One sees the spirit of this revolt everywhere. Everyone is reading the news and discussing the situation and practically every day there are marches and demonstrations like the ones shown above. Most important however in contrast to the situation in Iran is the degree of organization behind these struggles in the streets of Nepal. I interviewed several leaders at different levels of responsibility during May. Discussion about these interviews will clarify what I mean by the organizational quality of the peoples revolt in Nepal.
Slide 12 Grassroots of the Peoples Movement - The Union Affiliation with the Maobadi
1. Of particular note and not well known outside of Nepal is the revolutionary power that has grown within the union movement. A very typical example is the All Nepal Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union. This is where I started making interviews. The discussion of my interactions with this union are chronicled at my website here.
2. I met Pushpa Kunwar, a young Maoist organizer in 2006. He is the manager of the Vaishali Hotel and has worked there 13 years. He has also been an international martial arts competitor an a leading organizer of the union activity in his district and area.
3. Puspa related a history of the union going back several years. Before it was affiliated with the the National Congress Party. They never helped the rank and file, they were focused on collecting money from the hotel owners. When the Maoists came to the city they very quickly recruited Puspa and young men like him and the union has become strong.
4. The objective of the Maobadi was to help the members in practice to begin ending their exploitation. Of course some like Puspa were drawn to the theory and membership in the Party. Most who gain rank in the Union have a rank also in the Party.
5. Prakash Shrestha is a central Committee Member of the UCPN (M), a former PLA combatant. Before joining the PLA he worked as a wage slave for a 5 star in India. He took an active role in organizing the Hotel and Reastraunt Workers when the Maoists left the jungles for the city. I will share some of our discussions.
6. Prakash Shrestha eloquently defended the Maobadi in its conscious attempt to understand and avoid the mistakes of 20th century communist revolutions while recovering and reenacting the positive strategies of the Paris Commune, Lenin's Soviets and Mao's Cultural Revolution.
7. Prakash Shrestha responded regarding the RCPUSA attacks (to paraphrase): "We carefully read their ideas, about 23 pages of their ideas. We felt Comrade Bob is a very smart man and should understand our position, so we prepared a detailed response".
I said something like: "Yes, many of us have read that response and understood and support your answers and clarifications and attempt to have the RCP understand and agree with the Maobadi line - but it seems they continued to send more instructions to the Maobadi which were not answered."
PS: "We will complete our revolution and this will be evidence that Comrade Bob is wrong."
8. I brought up the fact that standing army, the NA cannot continue if there is to be peoples supremacy - the growing possibility of a showdown. I wondered if should the NA stage a military coup that this a serious threat to the revolution. Would it therefore be a mistake to continue to provoke the NA such as with the dismissal of the generals and the call for resignation of Katawal?
PS: We don't think the NA would dare to do this. They are well aware of the people's support for the Maobadi and such a move would lead to a mass insurrection.
SDM: But isn't it true that the NA is a more powerful force than the PLA? The people may protest but they are not an army - plus wouldn't widespread insurrection simply lead to chaos and the possibility of intervention from India?
Puspa: If the Indians intervened directly what do you think the Chinese would do?
PS: There are reasons to say the Indians would not directly intervene. For one thing they have a problem within their own Army because a good percentage are of Ghurka ethnicity and loyal to Nepal. Then not only the Chinese, but also what may happen with Northern India's Naxalite Maoists. It is not just the PLA that would fight. There is the numbers of the union cadre, the YCL and others who would fight.
SDM: I understand that the goal would be to arm the people, but what about now. Are you saying the people have weapons now? Is there some supply of weapons for the people already?
This is when I first learned that in fact the Maobadi have made weapons available to the unions and the YCL. Some have questioned my saying so in print - but I assure you it's an open secret in Nepal.
Slide 13 - All Nepal Federation of Unions
Narrative: The information about the organized unions being armed was verified again when I interviewed Ganesh Regmi, General Secretary of the Maoists' affiliated All Nepal Federation of Trade Unions. I visited the headquarters and saw there were over 30 such trade unions.
1. The very day of my visit he was quoted in the papers saying "Katawal represents the remnants of the former past, to wipe him out we are ready to capture the Army Headquarters even". My meeting was covered in my blog entries here.
2. I pursued the question of whether the Unions present a militant stance in their close affiliation with the Maobadi. I discussed with him it being axiomatic in revolutionary theory that the people need to be armed. We discussed that a UML leader, Oli, had claimed to have evidence the Maobadi have secured arms with intention of a new uprising to take state power. I asked him directly "Are the people in your unions ready to fight if necessary?". He answered simply.
GR: It is our opinion that the people are ready.
Narrative: Following interactions with the Maoist affiliated unions I made arrangements with their help to meet the leadership of the Communist Youth League, the YCL. This happened at the end of a major rally in protest of the Katawal re-reinstatement by the President and prior to PM Prachanda's resignation over the issue of civilian supremacy over the National Army. After hearing from the unionleaders their indication of capacity and desire to attack the National Army I was curious to know more about the position of the YCL in this regard.
Slide 14 People Power: The PLA Plus the Youth Communist League and Unions
Narrative: My blog entry on the discussion with YCL leaders is posted here. Comrade Pun told me his basic story over the course of our talk. His relationship to the YCL spans twenty years and before it was affiliated as an organ of the Maobadi. When the Peoples War broke out his "team" executed successful attacks on the district police, which is how they got weapons. In time Comrade Pun was captured however. He spent four years incarcerated, escaped, and went totally underground were he continued to gain greater responsibility fighting in the PLA. About three years ago the Party decided he would begin to lead the YCL. At the time he was Commander of the PLA 4th Division. At this point he is no longer officially part of the PLA, but of course he has close ties.
The most significant exchange was:
SDM: One main question for me is whether the masses involved are not only concerned with their regional, cultural or other unique requirements but also aware and committed to the communist hypothesis we have been discussing - that they fully understand it.
GMP: We can't copy what was done by others before, by Lenin or Mao, but we can learn from mistakes made then and in more recent revolutionary movements. Our YCL people understand and I would say 60% of the people creating the New Nepal government fully understand.
SDM: Lately there has been the obvious possibility of a military coup. One wonders about the capacity of the people to resist takeover by the reactionaries. The PLA will need the help of the armed masses, particularly the YCL and the Union members and others. But are they ready?
GMP: Because we have been in government and in the majority the situation has given us greater access to the internal conditions of the NA.
SDM: Yes, this has been characterized by the reactionaries as trying to destroy the morale of the NA with lies about the "soft coup" and other politicization of the issues.
GMP: There are actually two factions in the NA and two levels at which this split is evident (he drew a diagram in my notepad). We see there is already a morale problem in the rank and file of the NA because of the existing class divisions.
SDM: You mean there are a significant number of lower ranked soldiers who feel oppressed by the traditions of the officer corps?
GMP: Yes, that, but also more. Among the officers, led by some generals is a faction counter to the royalist mindset. Among the reactionaries are those who I would call "progressive". They are very nationalistic.
SDM: Do you mean to say you think there is an inclination in the NA to cooperate with the Maobadi led government, to be more in compliance?
GMP: We believe that a political solution is still possible because of this division within the NA itself.
Slide 15 The Demand for Civilian Supremacy in the Army Integration Process
Narrative: It remains to be seen if Com. Pun’s optimism regarding the internal weakness of the reactionaries within the ranks of the NA will preclude a military confrontation with the combined forces of the PLA, YCL and the Unions.
Clearly there is no possibility of a communist revolution or any revolution succeeding as long as there is a standing army in opposition, so the integration and rehabilitation process had to be brought to a critical state of political confrontation. Soon after the interview with Com. Pun I attended a press conference as seen in these photos. This is May 4, the day PM Prachanda resigned. I will now outline in more detail the process leading to the Maobadi leaving government:
1. The first major step taken by the Maobadi was to head a government directive to not extend the tenure of 8 NA generals, in effect requiring that they were now eligible to retire and must do so.
2. The reactionary counter move was based on the emphasis in the interim constitution on major decisions being reached by consensus if at all possible and by majority if not by consensus. On that basis the Supreme Court, made up of judges appointed in previous regimes, issued a stay order to further consider the matter.
3. The Maobadi argued this was absurd: there should never be a question of civilian control over the military because as proven by history this always opens the door to military coup.
4. The NC, having chosen not to participate in the Maoist led government remember, were not only backing publicly the SC, but actively proclaiming the Maoist removal of the Generals as an attempt to seize state power and establish a communist authoritarian dictatorship.
5. At the same time there was an influx of Indian emissaries on the scene to meet with reactionary party leaders and Army Chief Katawal was taking clearly political positions, even proposing his own version of constitutional structure.
6. Katawal’s politicization of the military had been a growing concern and the increased support he was now getting from the Indian establishment through the NC and other parties led the Maoist’s government to fire him.
7. Immediately, however, even though the interim constitution clearly places executive power in the PM and the cabinet the PM controls, the President, a largely subservient role in the interim government arrangement and a leader of the UML, stepped in and reversed the order to fire Katawal.
8. The Maoists declared the Presidents move illegal but the coalition members led by the UML and followed by the Tarai based parties took the opportunity to not follow suit.
9. Rather than accept a situation of dual power with the opposition essentially forgoing civilian supremacy over the NA, the PM resigned and the UCPN (M) pulled out of government
Slide 16 Opinion on the theoretical basis of the novel manifestation of the communist hypothesis envisioned by the Party
1. All of the Maoist leaders are well versed in Marxism Leninism and Maoism and they were all experienced combatants. Mohan Baidya was in the late 80s the leader of one of the main communist parties. Baidya and Gajurel ended up for long periods in Indian prisons. Prachanda led the 1996 armed revolution from the jungles beginning in 1996.
2. But it is Dr. Bhattarai who has provided the deepest most insightful analysis of the objective conditions of the revolutionary situation in Nepal and who has brilliantly elucidated the importance of the models provided by the Paris Commune, Lenin’s Soviets and by the lessons of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
3. The most significant thing about Bhattarai’s theoretical stance, in my opinion – as I will discuss in more detail later, is the emphasis on Mao’s concept of democratic centralism. I think this is the cornerstone of the Nepal Maoist position and much misunderstood by critics of the Maobadi engagement of multi-party politics.
4. The nature of the internal debates within the CPN (M) is well understood by the events last November when the Maoists had a major conference of the cadre (my coverage of the debates is here). Much has been made of there being a serious threat of Part schism over the Prachanda/Bhattarai line of engagement with imperialist powers. But nothing could be more wrong I think.
5. Prachanda in particular has employed a tactic of emphasizing the policy of democratic engagement with all the parties in a vision of parliamentary government solving the nation’s semi-feudal conditions and infrastructural problems – especially in efforts to engage Norway in developing the immense potentials for hydro-power production.
6. In his tenure as Finance minister Bhattarai developed a plan of economic development which is both highly detailed and technical while at the same time deemed by most of the world as highly idealistic in its vision of solving the economic disparities of oppressed masses. It will also involve Nepal in close relations to imperialistic and global capitalistic dangers.
Slide 17 The Interview with C. P. Gajurel
Narrative: Just before I left Nepal my friends in the Union secured an interview for me with C.P. Gajurel one of the Maoist leaders. Comrade Gajurel, like Comrade Baidya did not participate in the running of the government. His role has been in leading the Party's International Relations Department, which also publishes the Party's main periodical organ "The Worker". The full interview is available on my website here.
1. In 2003 Comrade Gajurel was arrested India. Nepali and foreign supporters, including several international communist parties launched a campaign to have him released. In April 2005 a team of European human rights activists was allowed to meet Gajurel in prison. His supporters feared that he would be extradited to Nepal and tortured by Nepali authorities. After the CPN (M) and the government of Nepal signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, India dropped charges against Gajurel, of "conspiracy against India". He was released in November 2006 and returned to Nepal
2. SDM: So is was true that from the time of negotiations through Prachanda’s recent resignation there was initially a drawing back from an aggressive revolutionary process as before and a new and different way of building the mass base. Would you say those tactics are over now? What are the new tactics, will we see a renewed aggressive revolutionary movement?
3. CPG: The Prime Minister’s resignation was not a big thing for us. Our movement has been working on three fronts and the participation in government was the least important. The experience of being in government was not a failure; it contributed to our revolutionary process in many ways. The issue we raised of civilian supremacy over the army has demonstrated to the people the truth of the situation, the other parties are against supremacy of the people. More important is the Constituent Assembly front where more focus can be on creation of the New Nepal constitution. Our tactics remain the same as to the remaining two fronts, the CA and the streets. We boycotted the selection of the new PM and abandoned the government front for better political benefits from action in the more important and effective fronts. We will use our greater numbers in the CA to create a constitution that will transform Nepal, creating a socialist economy meeting the needs of all the oppressed populations.
4. The question remains. Will the Nepali Maoists manifest a novel form of communism in their vision of a people’s republic? There is nothing about this vision that a priori precludes the possibility of revolution against the logic of class despite the obvious dangers. We are in a completely different historical period calling not for a victory of the hypothesis as it existed and ultimately succumbed in prior phases, but as it calls for practice in the context of conflict between old and new theory in the modern context – Badiou:
Slide 18 Badiou Quote:
"In many respects we are closer today to the questions of the 19th century than to the revolutionary history of the 20th. A wide variety of 19th-century phenomena are reappearing: vast zones of poverty, widening inequalities, politics dissolved into the ‘service of wealth’, the nihilism of large sections of the young, the servility of much of the intelligentsia; the cramped, besieged experimentalism of a few groups seeking ways to express the communist hypothesis . . . Which is no doubt why, as in the 19th century, it is not the victory of the hypothesis which is at stake today, but the conditions of its existence. This is our task, during the reactionary interlude that now prevails: through the combination of thought processes—always global, or universal, in character—and political experience, always local or singular, yet transmissible, to renew the existence of the communist hypothesis, in our consciousness and on the ground.“
1. It is certainly a good description of the world condition today with regard to hopes of an egalitarian society to say we are in a reactionary interlude. This interlude ha been manifest in Iran since 1979 in various phases just as it has been in Nepal since 1990. There is a big difference between the uprisings on the streets in Tehran and those in Kathmandu however.
2. The relatively rapid transitions in Nepal in the direction of ending oppressor classes have been a result of armed resurrection, plain and simple. Multi-party parliamentary participation by the Maoists instituted since 2006 still maintains a militant capacity. This is essentially why it is wrong to accuse the Maobadi of repeating the pattern of bourgeois democracy.
3. The coordinates of power in Iran can only provide the people with a formal choice between different oppressor class leaders. It was not that the election was stolen from anyone who was truly acceptable as a leader of a peoples democracy. The message of the Nepali Maoists is that a constituent assembly of multi-party interests representing oppressed classes may possibly create an interim state to wither away over a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers. That part of the story is not over yet.
4. The people of Iran can gain from the experience of the people of Nepal: from the universal novel theoretical understanding of revolution that has evolved there while in considering the singular local conditions of Iranian society when putting theory into practice. At the moment those conditions include a standing army in service to the reactionaries and little in the way of militant capacity in the hands of the people.
5. The Maoists in Nepal have chosen to stand-down from armed rebellion though clearly it is that capacity which allows them to continue to apply pressure in demonstrations in the street and in blocking the functioning of the constituent assembly. This is how we will soon see them back in government having obtained civilian supremacy over the reactionary army. While in Iran more deaths will occur among dwindling protests, many will remain in jail, many will begin to simply disappear and until such time as there grows actual revolution in Iran there will be no actual freedom.
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