Nepali Times Asian Paints
JAKUB SMUTNY
Opinion
Will history repeat itself?


JAKUB SMUTNY


Are the Maoists aspiring to capture the state in Nepal? For those preoccupied with the group's radical political agenda, tactical commitment to democratic pluralism, and a semi-militant structure that reserves reverting to violence as a possible strategic option, this debate has continued to fascinate. As an outsider from a post-communist country (the former Czechoslovakia), where real-life implementation of Marxism-Leninism irrevocably altered the whole socio-economic makeup of the nation, there is a temptation to see Nepali Maoists as a South Asian reincarnation of KSC, the communist party of Czechoslovakia. It is the specificity of the environment I was raised in that makes me think of potential parallels and differences between the rise of Maoism in Nepal and the tumultuous year of 1948 that so drastically affected post-WWII Czechoslovakia.

The degree of ultra-left tendencies present in a given society is typically defined by the pervasiveness of feudal structures inherited from previous regimes. The greater the feudal oppression, the greater the likelihood of simmering social grievances being transformed into open revolt. In the land of the Czechs and Slovaks, the autocratic rule of the Habsburg empire collapsed in 1918. In turn, the ensuing inability of the First Republic (1918-38) to address key social concerns, coupled with the effects of the Great Depression and WWII, helped prop up strong communist sentiments in society. Czechoslovak communists were quick to capitalise on lingering disillusionment with the former 'rightist-oriented' regime and took over the state in 1948.

In Nepal, the CPN(Maoist)'s fight against the workings of semi-/feudalism lies at the heart of the movement. Given the country's domestic politico-historical context, communist ideals soon found resonance with ordinary, marginalised people. The Nepali Maoists learned how to mobilise the neglected rural population effectively.

The political dimension of communism bears similarly interesting parallels. At the height of Soviet influence in Czechoslovakia, KSC sought to use multi-partyism to precipitate constitutional changes in the country. Upon a massive victory in the 1946 parliamentary elections, KSC began to penetrate all the Czechoslovak institutions while simultaneously discrediting opposition parties, citing their alleged incapacity to solve social problems.

This escalated into major political crisis, marked by the setting up of paramilitary 'People's Militias' (corollary to what the Maoists decided on in May 2003), the nationwide arrests of opposition leaders, infiltration of the state security apparatus, crackdowns on independent media and mass demonstrations to make then President Beneö succumb to the 'will of the people'. The state police, which was being gradually transformed into a KSC-loyal institution, was instrumental in legitimising this. This had profound effects on the functionality of the 'National Front', a coalition of all 'approved' post-1945 political parties, which was paralysed by late 1947 due to KSC's growing ability to bypass consensus negotiations. The state takeover was completed in Febuary 1948 with the formation of an all-KSC government.

Despite such parallels, the political influence of CPN(M) is yet to reach such heights, the Cold War is long over, the respective domestic contexts are different and most importantly, the ideological agenda of Nepali Maoists is significantly different from what the Czechoslovak communists advocated more than 60 years ago. But both sets of communists attempted to ride on the weaknesses of democratic competition.

Electoral success legitimises government interference into rights under a working democratic framework. Further, engaging in a 'nonviolent overthrow of the state' looks far more pragmatic than waging an armed struggle today. Nepali Maoists have gradually embraced this tactic over time which, in turn, has enabled them to reach out to a much wider constituency than during the first phase of the 'People's War'. But there have been further obstacles on the way to 'glorious communism', as Prachanda once put it. The most recent is the current intraparty split over the choice of the next PM, which considerably weakens the internal cohesiveness of the organisation. In addition, the inability of the party to form coalitions across the political spectrum is another reason why the Czechoslovakian scenario is unlikely.

It would be a serious mistake to judge Nepali Maoists through the lens of George Orwell's totalitarian spectre. Even though they might have been pursuing a forcible change of the system in the first years of the insurgency, the party's willingness to promote socialism via multiparty symbiosis must be a reason for cautious optimism. On the other hand, the structural perils of the movement, mainly the reluctance to give up MLM as a guiding ideological precept, gives rise to suspicions and anxious polemics. Is resumption of civil war feasible? Nobody knows, but unless thorough de-militarisation, democratisation and accommodation of the CPN(M) is finalised, Nepal's political parties attain a desirable level of democratic consciousness, and India's inadequate policies vis-ŗ-vis Nepal undergo serious revisions, it may be hard to dismiss the 1948 Czechoslovakian scenario as a historical parallel.

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1. pasal
so sad is the state of affairs among so-called educated bunches of nepal that they really believe that maoism is their savior. didn't they hear chinese say that maoism died with mao?


2. Nirmal
So is the circumstance, to tell the obvious we need a kuire friend. Thanks jakub for your analysis hope you being the mainstream thinking.


3. Duryodhan Rajbanshi
What fascinates me most is- how good Dixit and company are at rebranding themselves. Not a very long, they got people that aligned with their views and refused to call the Maoists terrorists. Articles in both Nepali times and Himal suggested that there was no alternative to getting the Maoists on board, as they were mere political actors looking for a political platform. When the Maoists attacked kunda and slowly started showing their real colors, dixit brothers have realized that the barbarians are at the gate. It is not the Maoists but people like dixits that are pushing the country towards never ending political experimentation and benefiting from it by re-branding themselves. Educated nepali without political and financial agenda knew it all the way that the Maoists are not for plural democracy. Stop, portraying yourself as democrat now by getting someone from former Czechoslovakia to forward your re-branding process.


4. Arthur
Interesting article.

Certainly the incapacity of other parties to solve social problems in Nepal greatly exceeds that of post-war Czechoslovakia. Their "desirable level of democratic consciousness" is even more abysmal than in Czechoslovakia.

But as the article mentions (and comments ignore), the Maoists do support multi-party democracy.

This means there is hope of a democratic outcome in Nepal. But that hope comes from the Maoists and the other democratic parties that will emerge in the future. It does not come from the semi-feudal parties that are propped up by India and the Nepal Army at present.


5. Never mind

people's war based on the strategy of encircling the city from the countryside according to the specificities of our country, the Party once again reiterates its eternal commitment to the theory of people's war developed by Mao as the universal and invincible Marxist theory of war.

 

...............everything is an illusion except state power.

 

............................ firm commitment to wage relentless struggle against all forms of deviationist thoughts and trends including economism, reformism and anarchism.

 .......................This plan would be based on the aim of completing the new democratic revolution after the destruction of feudalism and imperialism, then immediately moving towards socialism, and, by way of cultural revolutions based on the theory of continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, marching to communism - the golden future of the whole humanity. We are firm that it is a crime against the proletariat and the general masses of the people to start an armed struggle without the firm conviction of carrying it out to the end. 

 

......................................shall never allow this struggle to become a mere instrument for introducing partial reforms in the condition of the people, or terminating in a simple compromise by exerting pressure on the reactionary classes. 

 .....................This plan of ours would be based on the great spirit of proletarian internationalism.  

 ........................firmly committed to establish the leadership of the Party in every sphere by maintaining its vitality by way of conducting inner - party struggle in a dialectical manner according to the principle of universality of contradictions, to serve the people wholeheartedly, to maintain close relations with the people and to adhere to the principle of mass line.

 ...........................the Party will never and under no circumstances succumb to the pressures, threats and enticements of the internal and external reactionary forces.

 ..............................but in a complex zigzag path. It is necessary to acknowledge the importance of Lenin's saying that the revolution always creates in its course of development an unusual and complex situation. The people's war will triumph after going through cycles of victory and defeat and gain and loss. We shall be able to lead the people's war only by correctly grasping the law of contradiction of transformation of wrong into right.

#4 No they don't



6. Me Neither

The reactionary propaganda that the Nepalese people are peace-loving and that they don't like violence is absolutely false. It is an incontrovertible fact that-the Nepalese people have been waging violent struggle for their rights since the historical times.

Till today whatever general reforms have been achieved by the Nepalese people, behind them there was the force of violent and illegal struggle of the people.

The Nepalese people are very conscious & sensitive about the question of nationalism and that they feel proud to lay down their lives while fighting rather than submit to the pressures of the foreigners.

From the year 1951 onwards till today, mainly the Nepalese peasants and other sections of the people have been joining in countess number of violent & armed conflicts against the reactionary state and the anti-establishment feeling among Nepalese people has been very strong.

The Nepalese people are the great warriors in the world who are known for their ability to bear the severe material and bodily hardships while fighting.

The domestic & foreign reactionaries including the revisionist elements have been time & again ditching & conspiring against the fighting tendency of the Nepalese people. Today the greatest responsibility has fallen upon the revolutionaries to initiate armed struggle methodically and consciously against feudalism & imperialism and to complete the New Democratic revolution by representing that great historical legacy.



7. Rishav
Reply to #4.

"But that hope comes from the Maoists and the other democratic parties that will emerge in the future. It does not come from the semi-feudal parties that are propped up by India and the Nepal Army at present."

You mean like how the Maoists Leaders were "propped up by India," for 10 years in Noida, New Delhi. Really the Nepal Army are propping up the Nepali Congress and CPN UML parties, wow you must have some really credible, unbiased and reliable sources.

Go back reading books on Karl Max in your basement, or what ever you Western Lazy theoretical but no action arm chair communists do. You don't know Nepal very well, you don't understand our people and you certainly don't understand our politics.

Your are just a very annoying wannabe revolutionary communist, all talk and no action.







8. Arthur
Never mind #5, the 1995 document you quote from does not develop the concept of multi-party democracy but neither does it contradict it.

The practice of the Maoists since the peace agreement demonstrates both their commitment to multi-party democracy and the fact that they are a lot more skilfull at it than their opponents.

But since you are interested in documents, part 3 of this 2003 document explains the historical reasons for them reaching that conclusion. Note that this has nothing to do with the peace agreement much later but is based on the premise you quote that "everything is illusion except state power" and the simple fact that previous communist led revolutions that failed to establish multi-party democracy ultimately lost state power to social fascists.

The current policy focus around the issues of civilian supremacy, national independence, peace and constitution and formation of Maoist-led national united government is thoroughly based on that concept of multi-party democracy.

Me neither #5, without state power, multi-party democracy is an illusion and without violent revolution through the people's war there was and is no possibility of state power and only the sort of fake and corrupt multi-party anti-democratic system that was established in 1990.

But state power would not remain revolutionary without multi-party democracy. The end result was social fascism, not communism in both the Soviet Union and China, as well as Eastern European countries like Czechoslovakia.

I think the 2003 document I linked to above reflects the analysis of those who led the people's war. It is, as the article suggests, a very different view from that of the Czechoslovak communists, and it comes from people with far more experience in violent revolution than the Czechoslovak communists (whose seizure of power was held up as an example of "peaceful transition" by the Khrushchev revisionists).

rishav #7, as a foreigner I can easily make mistakes in understanding Nepali people and politics. But I think as a royalist you are as isolated from current realities in Nepal as any foreigner.

The royalist line that Maoists were Indian agents never made much sense and is simply silly in the current situation where India is coordinating their opponents and everyone can see that the Maoists are the largest party throughout Nepal, including Kathmandu, and not a party based in exile.

Despite being a foreigner I am well aware that the Nepal Army leadership was traditionally hostile to the anti-Maoists parties as well as to the Maoists, that its natural sympathies lie with the royalists, that it imprisoned leaders of Congress and the UMLs under the "royal" military dictatorship, and that it still despises them.

That does not change the fact that the Nepal Army leadership together with India is now propping up those parties. While your own life may center around hoping for a restoration of the monarchy, the royalist parties are now completely marginal so the Nepal Army leadership has no option but to rely on the anti-Maoist parties as the only significant ally against real change.



9. jange
The writer has his analysis wrong. Communist thought began and developed in Europe over a period of time in circumstances totally different to Nepal. It has no parallel to Nepal


"In Nepal, the CPN(Maoist)'s fight against the workings of semi-/feudalism lies at the heart of the movement."

Wrong.  The only aim is to grab state power. The rest are just tactics.

"It would be a serious mistake to judge Nepali Maoists through the lens of George Orwell's totalitarian spectre."

The author has this correct. The more appropriate comparison would be with Pol Pot in Cambodia. If the Maoists ever get into the position that Pol Pot did, the only way to remain in power would be a massive killing spree- just like Pol Pot.


10. Johann
All these navel-gazing commies, all they can spout is endless jargon that doesn't mean anything and hoodwink the people that it is a real "revolution". What on earth does this mean:
"firm commitment to wage relentless struggle against all forms of deviationist thoughts and trends including economism, reformism and anarchism..."

These Pol Potists have all the time in the world for their explosive verbal diarrhea. Smutny is another unrepentant commieacademic from Europe who hasn't realised that he has missed his train.



11. ap
the english is obtuse and almost a deliberate attempt at obfuscation ...

jacob:

first write simply, i think the nepali issues are simpler to understand than deciphering your language - which perhaps has been written to have anyone raise an issue with your analysis which is NOTHING!!!

fellow nepalis:

we all need to realize that GRE and American Heritage Dictionary words will not solve our issues,  take a look at the recent poll on nepali times, it says it all...

world at large:

time to declare nepal a failing state, start with a UN constitution making process, and go from there...not easy, but lets get it right this time...

and finally...

I might not have all the answers, but at least you can read and understand my english




12. Rishav
Reply # 8.

"as a foreigner I can easily make mistakes in understanding Nepali people and politics." Finally some honest reflections about yourself Arthur, well done keep it up, you may see the light one day.

Your first line will explain exactly what you write after that "But I think as a royalist you are as isolated from current realities in Nepal as any foreigner." Well this is an example of how you have made a big mistake in trying to understand a Nepali person(Me) and my political views which totally invalidates the rubbish you right afterwards, based on your assumption of what I supposedly am. Firstly,  I'm not a royalist, so that tells me a lot about your lack of understanding.  Secondly, I doubt you understand what a royalist is in a Nepali context? Thridly,  I would never in a million years tell a person in some corner of the world completely alien to me that they are wrong about their views on the situation in their own country of whatever political belief they may have. I would not even ridicule your views on the events of what ever country you come from, as you are there at least experiencing the situation as it happens, better than a commentator making their views on reading daily posts etc from a far. I would never tell anyone who experienced 9/11 first hand that the buildings never blew up?!! That would be extremely idiotic,insulting and ridiculous. So develop a bit of humility or start living in Nepal in order to get a more real life view of the situation rather than artificial news reports which appease your superficial understanding and political views.


13. Never mind
#10, Smutny is an in-house lawyer for a retail chain. Hardly a commie-academic.

#8, If you keep insisting on something that is not true, and do it repeatedly, a lie won't become the truth. Anybody going through that document, would realise the following points:

a) That it is written to bore people to death by the time they are done with the first three lines

b) That the entire text, if you remove the childish rhetoric, essentially says this, - we the Maoist will kill people again, we are just looking for a good enough excuse to start all over again.


14. Never mind
#12, There is  no surprise in all of this lecturing. Historically, ideas advocated by passionate fools have always been all about annoying other people, and murdering people. 

They discover redemption, and promptly go on a murder campaign to convert the world. 

They discover "new world" and immediately wipe-out whoever lives there in the name of "civilization". 

International shipping opens road for colonization - again for civility - and science to destroy all of the worlds nature.

When they discover socialism - the first thing they do is to embark on a murder campaign. Communism has outdone all the other religions in its greed for dead bodies. 

Do not expect any of these clowns to get you peace, just give it word by word and they will keep running away from every argument just like this clown does.

Very soon they will discover that true redemption for humanity lies in worshiping your handkerchief - they will go ahead and wipe out some people and argue in favour of that murder campaign with equal vehemence.


15. Arthur
Rishav #12 the reason I assumed you are a royalist is because you combine the usual strong anti-maoism and contempt for the other anti-maoist parties common among commentors here with more specific indications such as strong support for the Nepal Army and an ultra-nationalist attitude towards foreigners, including such characteristic absurdities as  pretending the Maoists are Indian agents as in #7 above.

However that is not conclusive, so when you denied it I googled for previous comments from you expecting to find one explicitly calling for restoration of the monarchy, like others with similar pro-army and ultra-nationalist views to yours.

Unfortunately I have to accept your denial and withdraw my assumption as I did not find what I expected to find.

"Thirdly,  I would never in a million years tell a person in some corner of the world completely alien to me that they are wrong about their views on the situation in their own country of whatever political belief they may have. I would not even ridicule your views on the events of what ever country you come from, as you are there at least experiencing the situation as it happens, better than a commentator making their views on reading daily posts etc from a far."

Its strange that you have that opinion about yourself. Only last week you wrote a short essay expounding your (completely ignorant) views about Western communists and why they are wrong about their own countries in I love Prachanda #20.

I think this article from a Czechoslovak author comparing the communist parties of the two countries is quite insightful. We live in a globalized world and many, perhaps most, of the readers here live outside Nepal or hope to do so one day. Get used to it.


16. Luba Svrcina

Historically, when you look at the development and process how Czechoslovakia became a communist country, there is no paralell between that and Nepal. The zones of influence had been decided at the Jalta conference in Feb. 1945 between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt and Czechoslovakia was given to Stalin to apease him.  Since half of Czech pre-war government fled to London and half to Moscow, under the Russian directives it was easy to complete the communist take over in 1948.  The new goverment were no more then puppits of Moscow. It was not the "will of the people".

Also historically the other Europen countries didn't come into communism directly from a feudal system.  However faulty, since the the fall of the empires after the First WW they had some form of democracy.

Communism in Asia seems to have taken it's own twist, generally far more extremist and brutal. The countries in Asia were making a quantum leap from medieval times to communism with their own interpretation what it should look like. One needs to look not to far, just at China, Vietnam, Cambodia or North Korea. Unfortunatelly the Nepali Maoists chose the Asian approach, despite the fact that their head honcho got indoctrinated in Europe.  This is not to say that European style of communism is any better, it is not, just the methods were different. Make no mistake, no other regime or religion in human history killed more people then the communists. But the times of a revolution in the same style as October Revolution or Cultural revolution are definitelly over and outdated.

However, there is one paralell Czechoslovakia and Nepal can draw. That similarity lies in the Czech "velvet revolution" in 1989.  This "revolution" shows it is possible to change the course of a country by democratic means without bloodshed. Nepal has that chance now. And that is where the hope for the future lies. Don't waste it.



17. rishav
Reply #15.

You assumed too much, it is quite clear you don't have an ability to gauge the views of the Nepali people and the current political situation in Nepal. Criticism of the Maoists does not make one a "Royalist," if you could actually understand Nepali and live in Nepal you could then experience first hand what every day Nepali people think or is that really your purpose. Until then I guess you will have to keep on reading what ever dodgy  politically inclined English daily source you get your info or who ever it may be.

In addition to what I said in #7.The Maoists leaders and the relationship with the Indian establishment. Your right, the Maoits are not agents to the Indian Government , quite different indeed. The relationship is more like a child and parent, the maoist leaders being brought up, clothed and fed in Noida, New Delhi for 10 years, finally reached adoloscense. Like most teens they get excited by their relatively new physical shape, new sense of confidence and hormonal rush thinking they can do what adults can. In their retaliation to the authoritian parents they show temper tantrums and cry foul play. Ultimately, however much they disapprove of their elder parents who nurtured them for 10 years they know they must knock on their doors for forgiveness inorder to be fed once more and also to ask for some pocket money.

In your satement in #15 you are again assuming views of mine, really shouldn't you learn by now than acting like you are?! Well at least you realised that your assumptions are wrong and requires you to do a BIG RETHINK of what most Nepali people are thinking. Take my advise as mentioned above in the first paragraph.

Nice to know you spent all that time trying to Google all my commnets. I guess the state benifit system in what ever country your from must pay out pretty well, giving you enough time for your hobby!!? I'm sorry if you did take offence to the comments in the article you mentioned, I guess it must have touched a few sensitive spots hey Arthur.

I would't in a million years go on to communist internet sites in Peru and start saying how ignorant everyones views are on it regarding their own counrties affairs. Firstly it's non of my buisiness, secondly it's damn right rude and thridly it shows a high level of arrogance of a mindset which is extremely feudal in a colonial way and backward. 

Yes the World is a global community, driven together by a global economic and technological free market, NOT a communist model. Get use to it!





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