Nepali Times Asian Paints
ANURAG ACHARYA
By The Way
Left to themselves


ANURAG ACHARYA


WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The end of the 34-year rule of the Communist Party of India Marxist CPI(M) in West Bengal and the defeat of the left coalition in Kerala in state elections this week have once again stirred a debate on the future of the left movement in the region. Liberals see the defeat as a result of people's disillusionment with the populist programs of the left while socialists blame corruption and ideological bankruptcy in the CPI(M) for the defeat.

The countdown to the rout of the communists in West Bengal had begun in 2007, after the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government unleashed a brutal crackdown against farmers in Nandigram protesting government's forced acquisition of land to set up a chemical plant. In 2008, the CPI (M) government once again used the colonial-era Land Acquisition Act of 1894 to displace thousands of peasants from fertile farms to set up a TATA Nano car factory in Singur district. The party lost its credibility and was trounced in local elections in 2008.

In spite of being a socialist government, the CPI(M) regime was accused of compromising on fundamentals of social justice. The party's dual policy of flaunting a democratic face in the national politics while suppressing democratic dissent within the state maligned the image of the left. A party, which took a moral position on issues like farmers' suicides and faked police encounters in the country, exposed this duplicity. You don't need to do much more to lose elections.

The defeat of the CPI(M) in West Bengal will not have tangible impact on Nepali politics because after midwifing the 12-point agreement in Delhi in 2005 and steering the early phase of the peace process, the party has mostly stayed out of Nepali politics. But the Maoists will certainly be worried by their weakened influence in New Delhi.

The Bengal verdict should be a lesson for Nepali comrades that they cannot and should not undermine fundamental political freedoms if they want to be in the good books of the people. They may have progressive socio-economic agendas, but will have to compete with contending agendas of other parties democratically in order to convince the people.

The Maoists must understand that they cannot take for granted the support people have shown for them and think that they can bully their way through the peace process. Yes, the people feel that Maoists have more to contribute to building a new Nepal than any other political force. But, no, we do not want the changes shoved down our throats. Look what happened to Buddhadeb who wanted to kick start an "industrial revolution" in the West Bengal by creating TATA jobs.

A successful revolutionary movement is not only persistent and relentless, but also dynamic in gauging the aspirations of the people on whose behalf it struggles. The Maoists have taken a step in this direction by abandoning the line of revolt. But only by denouncing the power of the gun will they prove that they believe in people power. Why does a party that claims to have people by its side, and won an election need a gun anymore, anyway?

Given the hostile international attitude towards them, communists movements have resorted to armed rebellion as the only alternative to emancipation. But the success of the 2006 people's movement in Nepal after a bloody decade of war has opened the possibility of peaceful revolutions in the 21st century.

Dictatorial regimes in the Arab world are falling apart, communist regimes are under pressure to democratise in Latin America and the crisis of capitalism has sparked unrest in Europe. No ideology or institution can hold people hostage to authoritarian ambitions. People are neither going to tolerate political captivity nor are they willing to live in economic bondage. The fall of the three decades of majoritarian dictatorship in West Bengal is the latest expression of the people's verdict, and Nepal's left movement must take note.



1. Arthur
What an ignorant article! Everybody knows that in India maoists are waging an armed struggle these governments that recently lost elections.

It is parties like the UML (and especially the Oli/MKN wing) that have reason to fear a similar fate.

Surely even Kangresis understand that parties like the UMLs and their Indian equivalents CPI(M) are not Communist and are strongly anti-Maoist.


2. Brati
Indeed CPI(M) has a long autocratic history. While the party vouches Marxist ideology in its manifesto, its policies are pro-corporate and anti-people. Similarly one is tempted to ask what is "left" in CPN(UML). After the "accidental death" of Madan Bhandari, the party has undergone an ideological erosion...it is neither a left party and neither a declared rightist. Hence it is at best a mass of disoriented communists and disguised opportunists.


3. John M. Kelleher

Arthur, dear, why are you attacking this hapless young lad?  What makes you lump him in with the "Kangresis," or assume that he is in any sense antipathetic towards your beloved Maobadis?  Granted, your consistent pattern of churlish behavior on these forums is self evident, but I am honestly astonished that you would consider it worthwhile to attack one of the few NT columnists who might actually be inclined to agree with your Far Left lunacy at least half-way.

>> "Yes, the people feel that Maoists have more to contribute to building a new Nepal than any other political force."

Q.E.D. 



4. Arthur
John M. Kelleher, #3, I attacked the article, not the author (and did not use supercilious language such as "hapless young lad" or "dear").

It was an "attack" rather than merely a disagreement because of the extraordinary level of ignorance required for any Nepalese commentator to honestly compare the CPI(M) with the Maoists rather than with the UMLs.

My reference to "even Kangresis" understanding better was not intended to lump the author with Kangresis but to underline the level of ignorance that would be required for the article to reflect an honest misunderstanding rather than complete dishonesty. Admittedly that could be confusing so perhaps I should have said "even royalists" to make the point more clear...

I would be surprised, though not astonished if a royalist such as yourself would be confused about whether there is any comparison between Maoists and CPI(M) rather than UMLs and CPI(M).

For a Nepalese writing as a political columnist the level of ignorance required to be confused about that would be simply astonishing.

Your belief that the words quoted about people believing the Maoists have more to contribute than others suggest half way agreement with Maoists is an interesting illustration.

I would not be in the least surprised if you, as a foreign royalist, actually believe that such words indicate half way agreement with Maoists rather than a very typical and quite stereotyped form of opposition to them (even though I would be surprised if you cannot tell the difference between parties like the UMLs and CPI(M) on the one hand and the Maoists on the other).

But the reason I would not be surprised if you honestly believe that is simply that I don't expect you to have much grasp of the subtleties of Nepali politics or the position typically espoused by columnists in Nepali Times.



5. B2B

Blaise Pascal once coined, " Those who know do not speak, whereas those who know nothing blab and go on blabbing."

First things first! Where are those peace process and the new constitution of Nepal got to?

In ordinary parlance, Nepal needs them that badly, whereas her arch-nemesis do not."

C'mon, we have got to bulldoze the essentials before the gloss wears out whereby making Kathmandu the flashpoint of a new brawl and you all find yourselves on the hook. You have got to impose on punters 'haircuts' to safeguard them from dancing to the tunes of the baddies.

In essence, the Maoists will probably not do a lick of work. They are as usual just buying time to better organize themselves for an ultimate assault.

Realism, however, seems to be in short supply. NC and other splinter groups, mustn't let yourselves coddled by the tremolo and a sideshow of the Maoists' jinx, before things get really spooky.

How about raising the ante? You shouldn't play safe where only your audacity and chutzpa shall be crowned with success before you get away seeing your country retreating to gloom and doom.

Forget to be as snug as the dork next door who proclaims to have calculated the precise date and moment on which the world will end. In such desperate circumstances we very much require to know about the key to the future, if there is any. Our main helping hand and new insights into what's been happening are our faculty or smartness to make difference between knowledge and wisdom.

To be brief, what you learn each day by using your senses, experience or learning is called knowledge, whereas how you use and synthesize that knowledge for the well-being of others is called wisdom.

Someone may gather all the book knowledge about things but may lack wisdom to utilize the knowledge he accumulated so far. Which is why folks say you can gain knowledge by educating yourself but you can gain wisdom only by experience of life.

All told, the Nepalese tremendously need this experience of democratic regime to feel great to have at length respected the logical, ethical or social truths. For, understanding the logical implications of a situation, issue, fact of solution is prerequisite to quarrel our way headlong where pluses overshadow the minuses.

Last but not least, how's about using our gumption? If not we have already encountered our enemy and he is us.



6. John M. Kelleher

>> It was an "attack" rather than merely a disagreement because of the extraordinary level of ignorance required for any Nepalese commentator to honestly compare the CPI(M) with the Maoists rather than with the UMLs. "  --Arthur

If you believe that such a "comparison" was being made, then I fear you may have missed the primary thrust of the article, which was to utilize the CPI(M) as a cautionary example for the Nepali comrades to not follow.  Given Prachanda's own oft-repeated hatred for revisionist communist parties, and the CPI(M)'s indisputable status as precisely that, I do not think the article's argument could possibly be construed as either an attack on the UCPN-M or as a direct comparison between the attitudes of the two parties.

>> "My reference to "even Kangresis" understanding better was not intended to lump the author with Kangresis but to underline the level of ignorance that would be required for the article to reflect an honest misunderstanding rather than complete dishonesty."  --Arthur

When an unapologetic Communist such as yourself presumes to call other people "ignorant," I have to wonder just how long it's been since you last took a scrutinizing self-introspective look in the mirror.  Your lengthy, tortuously-argued posts are a monument to the anesthetizing power of empty rhetoric: you argue the same points ad nauseum and continue to express honest astonishment than no one on these forums wants to give the Maobadi thugs the carte blanche you apparently presume is their due, whilst accusing other forum members of "stupidity" and "ignorance."

Physician, heal thyself!

>> "I would not be in the least surprised if you, as a foreign royalist, actually believe that such words indicate half way agreement with Maoists rather than a very typical and quite stereotyped form of opposition to them."  --Arthur

If you will be kind enough to scroll back up, you can see that I did not suggest such words expressed half-way agreement with the Maoists themselves, but rather with your own attitudes.  Perhaps this delightful young chap isn't the open Maobadi sympathizer you seem to expect him [and every other Nepali....] to be, but I fail to see how you could construe his argument as a "stereotyped form of opposition" to these unreformed terrorists who clearly have so very much to offer Nepal in the way of a sane and orderly future.

No, he clearly isn't a Maoist, though he is what Comrade Lenin himself would have candidly termed a "useful idiot."  Perhaps Arthur, at the very least, you can appreciate his article's utility on that basis alone?  After all, the Maoists could never have attained their present ascendancy in Nepali politics if Nepali journalism wasn't larded with silly-minded tripe such as this.

>> "But the reason I would not be surprised if you honestly believe that is simply that I don't expect you to have much grasp of the subtleties of Nepali politics or the position typically espoused by columnists in Nepali Times."  --Arthur

This, coming from you, is quite funny!  Your own understanding of Nepali politics is beyond naive, it is positively delusional.  You have told me in the past that you see no value to analyzing the "entrails of court opinions" to chart the C.A.'s legal mandate, and in another thread you have stubbornly refused to critically read the 1990 Constitution.  Not only are you ignorant of the subtleties of Nepali politics, Arthur, but you willfully dismiss them, preferring to predicate your arguments on your own preconceived theoretical notions rather than on facts or analysis.

But, as I've told you before, your own ideological predisposition doesn't make this the least bit surprising.  It's just a pity that you are so quick to go on the offensive instead of looking for possible bases of accord.  Is this the reason those Kasama kids don't like you hanging around their happy little sandbox anymore?



7. Arthur
John M Kelleher #6,

"I fear you may have missed the primary thrust of the article, which was to utilize the CPI(M) as a cautionary example for the Nepali comrades to not follow."

That primary thrust was clear. But it should have been directed to the UMLs who have lost most of their supporters and cadres to the Maoists because they are the same type of party as the CPI(M) against which Maoists are waging an armed struggle in India and have previously waged an armed struggle in Nepal.

The reasons that the CPI(M) was defeated in Bengal are the same reasons that similar fake "communists" have been defeated in Nepal. This includes the corruption, ideological bankruptcy and thuggishness which resulted in the Maoists waging war on the UMLs but which the article pretends is associated with the Maoists.

By addressing the lesson to the Maoists instead of the UMLs the article demonstrated ignorance.

"I do not think the article's argument could possibly be construed as either an attack on the UCPN-M or as a direct comparison between the attitudes of the two parties."

Given the Maoists opposition to revisionist parties the defeat of the revisionist parties in West Bengal and Kerala could not possibly be construed as an occasion for lecturing Maoists. But it was so construed in order to lecture Maoists.

"I fail to see how you could construe his argument as a "stereotyped form of opposition" to these unreformed terrorists who clearly have so very much to offer Nepal in the way of a sane and orderly future."

Yes, you do fail to see it.

So do many other commentators here who hold the same opinion as you that Nepali Times are "useful idiots" fronting for Maoists because they use such stereotyped forms of "reasonableness" in their unrelenting opposition to the Maoists. This is a symptom of a very specific political outlook in Nepal which is hostile to any kind of reasonable agreement.

Articles in Nepali Times are seen as pro-Maoist when they are not as extravagently and hysterically anti-Maoist as would suit your tastes. Nepali Times authors tend to take the more typically "liberal" position of seeking the lion's share in a "reasonable settlement" and claiming that their Maoist opponents are "unreasonable" instead of claiming that their Maoist opponents are murderous monsters from outer space as so many of their readers would prefer to read.

"It's just a pity that you are so quick to go on the offensive instead of looking for possible bases of accord."

You may be right about that. The final paragraph of the article could be taken positively as a basis for accord in welcoming the democratic revolutions sweeping the middle east etc.

A spokesperson for the Maoist party might well focus more on the positive. But I am simply expressing my personal reaction to the article's ignorance.


8. John M. Kelleher

>> "The reasons that the CPI(M) was defeated in Bengal are the same reasons that similar fake "communists" have been defeated in Nepal. This includes the corruption, ideological bankruptcy and thuggishness which resulted in the Maoists waging war on the UMLs but which the article pretends is associated with the Maoists."  --Arthur

The traits listed above [corruption, thuggishness, and ideological bankruptcy] could apply with equal facility to any of the Communist parties in the subcontinent, whether revisionist or anti-revisionist.  The Maoists themselves have, in scarcely five years, managed to acquire all the besetting vices of the revisionist/establishment Communist parties even whilst maintaining their uncompromising revolutionary stance (and they have certainly not "abandoned the line of revolt," as the author foolishly claims).  Their daily extortions of helpless Nepalis, brutal and repeated violations of the all-but-failed Peace Process, and transparent eagerness to carve out politicial patronage do not allow them to claim any sort of moral high-ground over the CPN-UML and their ilk.

The fact that you refuse to see this suggests to me that you do not know very many, if any, Nepalis.

>> "By addressing the lesson to the Maoists instead of the UMLs the article demonstrated ignorance."  --Arthur

The author apostrophizes the Maoists in his pedantic little puff-piece because he apparently still holds out some hope for the Maoists to avoid the pitfalls of CPI(M) revisionist corruption and become the sort of pro-people revolutionary party he fatuously wishes for them to be. 

Ignorant?  Yes, but not for the reasons you presume it to be.

>> "Given the Maoists opposition to revisionist parties the defeat of the revisionist parties in West Bengal and Kerala could not possibly be construed as an occasion for lecturing Maoists. But it was so construed in order to lecture Maoists."  --Arthur

That is because, as I've mentioned above, the Maoists are eagerly picking up the venal habits of the very same "revisionist parties" you are quick to decry, even if they continue maintain an ideologically anti-revisionist stance.  Apparently even the hopelessly naive author of this article has noticed this development, which has been quite painfully obvious.

And, yes, it is silly for the author to lecture the Maoists.  You and I can agree on that, if little else.  This author's morally outraged cri de coeur will mean precisely nothing to the Maoists, whose actions have always been, and always will be, geared towards taking and keeping unrestricted power.  To this end they have made adroit use of the dual levers of revolutionary insurrection and the forging of political "popular fronts" - the author is grossly deficient in his analysis if he thinks that the Maoists' current utilization of the latter means that they have "abandoned" the former.

The Maoists will never "give up the gun," as the author pathetically begs them to do.  They cannot, and will not, abandon what has always been one of the indispensable levers of a Maoist-style Peoples' War.  Their capacity and willingness to revert to armed revolt is the trump-card that has enabled them to hold the rest of the country hostage for the past five years.  They would, quite frankly, be stupid to give that up.

>> "So do many other commentators here who hold the same opinion as you that Nepali Times are "useful idiots" fronting for Maoists because they use such stereotyped forms of "reasonableness" in their unrelenting opposition to the Maoists. This is a symptom of a very specific political outlook in Nepal which is hostile to any kind of reasonable agreement."  --Arthur

Please do try to bear in mind that being a "useful idiot" is not the same thing as "fronting for the Maoists," which would imply an active, willing, and deliberate role on the Maoists' behalf.  I do not think anyone on the Nepali Times' payroll, even the Junior Marx-keteer pictured above, is doing anything of the sort.

Kunda Dixit is no fan of the Maoists.  This is not to say, of course, that the Maoists haven't happily availed themselves of the analytical myopia which he, and others in Nepal's journalistic pantheon, have given abundant evidence of in the past five or six years.

And, Arthur, I am not quite prepared to stomach a lecture from an aficionado of militant Communism as to what is, or isn't, "reasonable."

>> "Articles in Nepali Times are seen as pro-Maoist when they are not as extravagently and hysterically anti-Maoist as would suit your tastes. Nepali Times authors tend to take the more typically "liberal" position of seeking the lion's share in a "reasonable settlement" and claiming that their Maoist opponents are "unreasonable" instead of claiming that their Maoist opponents are murderous monsters from outer space as so many of their readers would prefer to read." --Arthur

No, I do not think anyone, least of all me, would call the NT a "pro-Maoist" outlet.  I hope that I've already made this clear above.  As I've also said above, I do believe, as do others, that the deeply misguided and bafflingly naive support which the NT and other media outlets gave to the SPA/Maoist settlement of 2005/2006 has done incalculable damage to Nepal.

But yes, the Maoists are indeed "murderous monsters."  You seem so consistently shocked and appalled that people on these forums continue to maintain that attitude.  Again, this leads me to suspect that you haven't chatted with very many Nepalese.

You seem to be laboring under the mistaken impression that the NT is the epicenter of resistance to the Maoists.  If you are looking for an ideal arena for proselytizing to "reactionaries," I could suggest a few more promising pages than this one.  Mind you, I am only trying to be helpful.



9. Arthur
#8, another issue will be out today and this thread will not be easily accessible so I will basically leave it there.

"The Maoists will never "give up the gun," as the author pathetically begs them to do.  They cannot, and will not, abandon what has always been one of the indispensable levers of a Maoist-style Peoples' War.  Their capacity and willingness to revert to armed revolt is the trump-card that has enabled them to hold the rest of the country hostage for the past five years.  They would, quite frankly, be stupid to give that up."

We are agreed that they are not stupid. We also both have (different) low opinions of Nepali Times. I suspect we might also agree that most of the anti-Maoist politicians in Nepal are remarkably stupid (and perhaps also agree that they are remarkably corrupt, ideologically bankrupt and thuggish).

By "rest of the country" you mean the traditional elite and by "hold hostage" you mean force them to hold free elections and allow a free press etc.

Nepal still has a semi-feudal army of about 100,000 plus an armed police established to fight the Maoists. Their opponents have refused to carry out the peace agreement for those to be democratized so naturally the pathetic demands for Maoists to surrender their weapons and invite being massacred will get nowhere.

Your bafflement about the SPA/Maoist settlement seem to reflect ignorance of the fact that the Maoists already controlled most of Nepal and had surrounded Kathmandu. Their "trump card" now is not the  that the PLA did that, but the fact that they are also won the elections and the other parties have continued disintegrating while they have grown stronger. The PLA merely insures that the Nepal Army cannot easily be called out for another massacre to reverse that.

I think we agreed earlier that any future confrontation will be in the cities. That is because the PLA and NA already neutralize each other, even though the agreement to merge them into one army has still been obstructed by people who treat the "misguided" agreement as though they had not been forced to accept it and as though the circumstances that compelled them to accept it no longer exist.




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