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The Courage to climb the unexplored Mountain

Prasanta Roy

 

 

Since the last decade of 20th century to first one of this contrary, all attention of the revolutionary people and the communists of the whole world has been concentrated on the developments in Nepal. The continuing revolutionary movement of Nepal led by CPN(M) has become the beacon, the only source of inspiration to thousands who aspire for making revolution in their own countries. It will be a sheer over-simplification to believe that only the sustained armed struggle that the CPN(M) carried on successfully for long 10 years at a stretch generated this admiration and faith in that party. Many other Communist parties of the world in different periods of history waged armed struggle for such a long period, even for a longer period. But those parties failed to create such a deep interest. It is because none of those parties could show such rare innovativeness as the CPN(M) has been showing right from its inception. Its firm belief that a genuine communist party should never forget that Marxism teaches to become critical towards Marxism itself and that only revolutionary practice is a laboratory to know whether one is upholding Marxism or something else, and its tireless and brave effort at translating this belief into action have instilled a kind of freshness and vigour in all its activities. CPN(M) has shown a rare combination of sticking unwaveringly to the politics of armed struggle and an immense flexibility in tactical questions.

Learning lessons from the Nepal revolution, particularly from the theoretical understanding of the CPN(M) is of paramount importance for the revolutionaries of India. The communist movement of India is characterized by extreme swings, either towards right or to left. This tendency is a natural outcome of the particularities of India history. So it is deep-rooted and very difficult to combat in the Indian context. To overcome this impasse, the role of consciousness is decisive. It is, therefore, imperative for the Indian Communists to study and understand very thoroughly the political line of CPN(M) which has shown exemplary quality in this matter. Rightist deviation in the Indian Communist movement is very hated and much exposed a phenomenon. Compared to this ‘left’ deviation, since it is fraught with great sacrifices and dedication carries a sort of respect and awe with it. As a result the comrades practising this line grow in them arrogance and imperviousness of mind, which makes it difficult for them to learn from mistakes. For these comrades of our country, particularly the Maoists, to learn from the theory and practice of the Nepal Comrades is of immense importance. This emphasis does not mean that others have to learn anything less; at times it is more, when the question of making a revolution at all arises.

At the very outset let us recognize the principal strength of the political line of CPN(M). It is to keep politics always in command. Although armed struggle is an indispensable means to the proletariat to achieve their political end and hence subordinate to the latter, there have always been problems with international communist movement in determining the interrelation between them. The dominant tendency has been to make either of these two aspects the only one, resulting either in reformism or militarism. It is a unique achievement of CPN(M) to keep on properly ascertaining the interrelation between the two while keeping politics in the controlling position.

With this basic orientation, the CPN(M) comrades have been creating history in our neighbouring country which is as prismatic as it is elusive to some. But it is most fascinating all the same. The rightists in the Indian communist movement disdain them as votaries of left anarchism while the dogmatists feel sorry for their occasional “rightist” tendencies. But both these forces are compelled to shift their positions when the CPN(M) takes any decision in their own favour. And just herein lies the basic strength of CPN(M). Its deft combining of the legal and illegal, open and secret, parliamentary and extra parliamentary forms of struggle baffles both the right and the left deviationists. But this very quality of CPN(M), together with its audacity to ‘develop’ revolutionary theory according to the concrete condition of Nepal has made this party the finest tutor of the communist revolutionaries the world over.

In this article, we shall enumerate in brief some of the basic political propositions of the CPN(M) which have creativity and a sort of novelty about them and from which, we, the communist revolutionaries of India have a lot of learn. At the same time we shall try to point out some of the weaknesses in its theoretical understanding.

The question of state.

It has two aspects. One is the understanding of the state-power after the destruction of the existing state of Nepal and the other is the general problem of state in countries where the proletariat seizes power. As to the first aspect, as a result of the ten years of armed struggle, and the resultant destruction of the old state, particularly in the rural areas, revolutionary people’s power began to be established named United Revolutionary People’s Council as an embryonic Central State power. The 75 point ‘Common Minimum Policy and Programme’ adopted at the first national convention of the U.R.P.C. gives a general outline of the New Democratic State that was proposed to be built up at that point of time. But in April 2003, there was decisive shift in the understanding and the programme of the party. This shift is a result of a clear recognition of reality. This was a sort of retreat and that is why it required more daring, confidence and brilliance that would have required in treading the charted path. In “An Executive Summary of the proposal put forward by CPN(M) for the Negotiations”, the party advanced a proposal for a Democratic Republic. It was deemed by the party as the minimum forward looking political solution of completing the bourgeois democratic revolution and in the process of which negotiations would take a very important place. The party considered it a step towards transition to New Democracy rising above the bourgeois parliamentarism, but not yet reaching the level of New Democracy. The party thought it the most appropriate step both theoretically and given the concrete condition obtaining in the country.

This strategic shift of the party is one of the most remarkable commentaries on CPN(M)’s dialectical understanding of the changing situation and the skilful adaptation to the changed condition. In 2003, so far as the balance of forces was concerned, the strategic equilibrium was achieved, demanding political slogan of rallying around as many political forces as possible. It was a time when monarchy assumed absolute power, destroyed the constitution and made the royal regression come full circle. Upper sections of the parliamentary forces representing feudalism and comprador and bureaucratic capitalism strongly sided with the king and the lower and middle strata got polarized around the revolutionary forces. Thus the tripolar alignment of revolutionary democratic, parliamentarian and monarchist forces veered towards a bipolar realignment. So time was required to consolidate the forces that could be rallied, before going for the final offence. Also some time was necessary for garnering international support for the Nepal revolution, given the fact that the communists there are going to seize political power in a highly sensitive geo-political region, sandwiched between two big powers like India and China. These are some of the reasons why the programme of a interim govt. i.e. a Democratic Republic was felt highly necessary for achieving the ultimate goal and why the slogan of Roundtable conference, Republic and Constituent Assembly was popularized throughout the nation.

This being the basic understanding of the interrelation between offence and defence of the Maoists of Nepal, a host of other tactical steps and maneuverings follow. These moves on the part of CPN(M) raise many eye-brows and puzzle many others. So a few words on this. First of all we should mention that to a large section of Indian revolutionaries, participation in election is an anathema in any semi-feudal and semi-colonial country. Teaching these comrades a very good lesson the CPN(M) not only participated in the election in 1991 and won 9 seats in the parliament, but also in its political documents still proclaim, “we did not miss opportunity even for a brief period to carry out political offensive against the futility of the parliamentary system right from the rostrum of the parliament itself. In fact, we prepared people’s war from all fronts……” (The Worker No.11, page 19) The message is clear. Parliamentary activities, too, can be a part of the preparation of armed struggle if the general political orientation of a party is correct. As for participation in the interim government, we have briefly stated the rationale of a democratic republic as envisaged by CPN(M) and that itself explains why the party decided to take part in the government. CPN(M)’s participation in the government as well as its striking an alliance with the SAP before the April uprising left the rightist snobs of our country as helpless as it left our ultra-left comrades fuming in rage. But when only a few months later the CPN(M) decided to quit the government, how much puzzled our rightist friends became is not fully known to us, but that our ultra-left comrades became all gleeful is doubtless. For the Nepal comrades the rationale for deserting the government is as clear as it was when joining it. The Fifth expanded meeting of the Central Committee of CPN(M) held from 3 to August 8, 2007 and attended by 2,174 comrades, decided after prolonged deliberation to quit the government. Let us quote a part of the resolution itself adopted at the meeting. “The CPN (Maoist) will have no alternative to go to movement by quitting the government, if it is not guaranteed to ensure running of the interim government in accordance with the spirit of the agreement (12pt. Agreement), bring an end to terror and regressive feudal conspiracy taking place against the constituent assembly electionby declaring republic …..” Add to this the party’s self-criticism as evinced in the subsequent press communiqué, “while making compromises with the parliamentarian parties, masses should have been informed of those agreements and mobilized along them a far as possible, especially when the party failed to inform the masses of the struggle that the party had kept up on the federal state system and proportional election till the last minute inside Baluwater room. It provides opportunity for the reactionaries and opportunists to launch a campaign against the party by spreading confusion that Maoists left their agenda on Madhesh.”

In consonance with this general approach of utilizing every opportunity to promote the cause of revolution, the Maoists of Nepal thoroughly used the weapon of Negotiations. 12 point Understanding of 22 November, 2005, 8 point Agreement of 16 June, 2006, 6 point Agreement of November 8, 2006 – all these are the result of this understanding of the CPN(M). To this party, the negotiations are not only for gaining time before taking the ultimate offensive, but they are a means to make a qualitative leap to a higher level of struggle. Every negotiation is used by the Nepal comrades to accumulate energy to raise their revolution to a “qualitatively newer height”.

As for the new type of proletarian (which includes New Democratic) state, CPN(M) shows serious concern and deals with the problems of degeneration of these states into bourgeois states in great detail. While upholding the lessons of Paris Commune and Lenin’s advocacy of a “state without standing army, without a police opposed to the people, without an officialdom placed above the people,” our comrades of Nepal find the ultimate solution in the theory and practice of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of China. They believe comrade Mao made historic contribution in the development of a new type of proletarian state. They put much importance on the creation of revolutionary committees made up of non-party masses to conduct the state functions. In a 2003 resolution of the Central Committee circulated for public debate, it is stated: “A party, which may be proletarian revolutionary, and a state, that may be democratic or socialist at a particular time, place and condition, may turn counter- revolutionary at another time, place and condition. It is obvious that the synthesis of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, namely the masses and the revolutionaries should rebel in such a situation is fully correct in its place. However, as if a particular communist party remains proletarian for ever, once a New Democratic or Socialist state is established under the leadership of the party, there is either no opportunity, or it is not prepared, or it is prohibited, for the masses to have a free democratic or socialist competition against it”. The same resolution stresses on the need of creation of a situation to ensure continuous preletarianisation and revolutionisation of the communist party by organizing political competition within the constitutional limit of the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist democratic state. If the party fails to continuously revolutionize itself the masses must have the right to install an alternative revolutionary party or leadership of the state. Amongst these parties, there should not be mechanical or formal co-operation with one another, as it was in China, but democratic political competition in the service of the people. The Nepal comrades are so serious on this question that they would rather go through the risk of allowing room for the imperialists to sabotage revolution than allow the hegemony of a single party. According to the paper submitted by CPN(M) at the International Seminar on 26th December, 2006, its deep conviction in this matter is expressed in the following words : “Till now, most of the proletarian revolutions have been sabotaged by internal degeneration of the party itself, not the direct intervention of the imperialists. Yet, this danger remains there. But we think it is less dangerous than the degeneration of the party into revisionism”.

What is most important in CPN(M)’s concern with the question of state is the attention it has focused on the inter-relationship between class dictatorship and the leadership of the communist party. According to it, since ‘state’ literally means forcible exercise of the ‘will’ or ‘dictatorship’ of one class over the other, without the last class in history, i.e. the proletariat exercising direct dictatorship, no ‘new state’ can be created in the Marxist sense of the term. But how can the class exercise dictatorship? The CPN(M) believes that the dictatorship of the proletariat is not the dictatorship of the party or its higher leadership but a class dictatorship applied through the elected representative organs (eg. The Soviets or the People’s Councils) of the masses. The CPN(M) thinks that grave errors were committed everywhere in the international communist movement by virtually obliterating differences between a communist party and a socialist state. So the communists of to-day should show courage to rectify the errors by upholding what Lenin, after the October Revolution continuously stressed, that dictatorship of the proletariat should be applied through the Soviets. This might well be a very cardinal lesson for the Indian Communists, too.

On the Question of Party.

The historic tendency of the communists parties even the parties led by our greatest leaders to have degenerated into revisionist parties has been a great concern of the comrades of CPN(M). They are reluctant to oversimplify the causes behind this by ascribing treachery or degradation to individual leaders, as we, the Indian communists are wont to do. Rather they emphasize on wrong or one sided understanding of democratic centralism and the isolation of the parties from the masses as the basic causes behind the degeneration. They think while it may be historic ‘necessity’ to put more emphasis on centralism at some times, it is absolutely wrong to make the immediate necessity a universal principle. It is what happened in the commintern period and as a result the understanding of relation between democracy and centralism became metaphysical. They advocate high degree of democracy to achieve proper centralism without which socialism cannot be attained. That they are sincere about this belief is clearly demonstrated in their holding of Expanded Central Committee meetings at regular intervals where thousands attend. The CPN(M) thinks that the serious mistakes that were committed to practice democratic centralism itself led to the isolation of the party from the masses. Taking lessons from the GPCR, our Nepal Comrades believe, to-day’s communists should build new parties by institutionalizing the methods to increase the initiative of party cadres and masses to rebel against counter-revolution carried out by the highest leadership of the party. This rebellion can be carried to the extent of dismissal of the party members. In this context, the barrier between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the party should be demolished. They quote Mao Tse Tung to substantiate their conviction : “To use the excuse of distinguishing between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ is to fear revolution.: (Stuart Schram, Mao Tse Tung Unrehearsed, P.254) A constant supervision, criticism and control over the communist party from outside is possible only when the party ceases to enjoy monopoly power and is compelled to enter into multiparty competition. There should be provisions to throw a communist party out of power through elections when it loses its proletarian character.

Apart from these institutional methods, the CPN(M) highlights the role of consciousness to increase the ideological grasp in the new type of party. It believes that understanding of ‘necessity’ and transformation of necessity, through the endless journey, into ‘freedom’, should be the essence of this consciousness. This consciousness should be instilled into every comrade of the party. The practice of the old parties of commintern model must end where only the top handful were ideologically active and the rank and file were helpless spectators, unable to judge independently. In the new type of party, conditions must be created where every party worker can develop in himself/herself the ability to dialectically assess and act accordingly.

Creative Application of the Line of People’s War

Taking into consideration the specificities of the international and national condition, the CPN(M) has developed a line of people’s war which corresponds neither with the protracted people’s war as waged in China, nor with insurrection of Russia. The party calls it a fusion of both. But fusion does not mean a mechanical amalgamation of these two different strategic and tactical lines. But it means the application of either of the two that fits in a particular concrete condition. Thus it can be recalled that the initiation was a kind of rebellion where five thousand actions took place simultaneously. It was an objective demand of the then prevailing condition and incidentally it resembled an insurrection. After its success, started planned guerrilla war which was like a protracted people’s war. “Initiation in a rebellious form but continuation in a protracted way is the specificity of the Nepalese People’s war”. (The Worker No.11) Not to be constrained by the framework of certain model, but continuously developing and changing the old patterns is in absolute consistence with Marxist ideology. The Maoists in Nepal are following this path in various fields of their activities and herein lies the fountain head of their strength, vigour and freshness.

Limitations :

It seems paradoxical, almost enigmatic that a party which is so meticulously objective in assessing the reality of its own country, is so grossly enmeshed in subjectivism as to declare that each semi-feudal semi colonial country (which includes India) is ripe for the start of armed struggle. As for India, the level of capitalist development together with the development of working class has given birth to powerful capitalist institutions including the parliament. In such a country, the task of organizing the working class itself has not been properly taken up with a revolutionary orientation. Not to speak of Russia, even in China this task was fulfilled by the CPC before embarking upon the programme of armed struggle. CPN(M) considers entire south Asia as a theatre of people’s war, where liberation of any single country or of a part of it should be the base area for continuing people’s war in other countries of that region. This is perhaps, why it stresses so much on the need of CCOMPOSA or South Asian Soviet Federation. It is a sort of mechanical approach to appraise so evenly the condition of different countries. Particularly when the suggestion comes from a communist party like CPN(M) which has shown exemplary grasp of Marxist understanding so far as their own country is concerned, it carries great weight, so much so that the comrades of other countries would execute the programme even if it does not suit the situation. It may cause immense harm.

Another disturbing limitation of our Nepalese comrades is their relative unconcern regarding the near absence of industrial proletariat in that country. Industrial proletariat in Nepal constitute only 1.25 per cent of the toiling population. The appearance of the working class in the world provided the material basis for creation of Marxism. It is all history now that the communist parties of Russian and China developed their ideological orientation by concentrating deeply on the work among the proletariat, at least at the initial stage. So a very weak presence of this class in a particular society may pose serious problem so far as the emergence and development of Marxist outlook is concerned. Not that in such countries, there will be no communist party or a revolution. But the problem must be fully recognized, should be dealt with in great detail and ways and means should be devised to overcome the problem arising out of the weak material basis on which communist ideology is built up. It is now a common knowledge that one of the basic reasons why the bourgeoisie of the erstwhile socialist countries could recapture power in the communist parties themselves is their alienation from the proletarian class. The parties failed to organise the class because of their faulty policies and as its outcome the parties also could not get sustenance from the class. The parties turned into breeding ground of bourgeois ideology. The role of the working class, therefore, is of cardinal importance in the development of correct orientation of a communist party. Hence, the extreme smallness of the size of this class is a matter of serious attention, which is not paid to by Nepal comrades.

CPN(M) is extremely one sided in its evaluation of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. As an attempt at stalling restoration of capitalism in a socialist society it will definitely go down in history as a great experimentation. But should we not at the same time recognise the painful reality that it failed to perform its desired objective? Should we not concentrate on analysing the reasons behind it, so that we can take lessons for the future? CPN(M) comrades seem to be indifferent to these questions. Unless we are careful about the negative lessons, no positive lesson can be drawn.

The GPCR with all its positive aspects had its own serious limitations that helped the capitalist roaders in the party to seize power without much resistance. Is it not a fact that to oust the capitalist roaders, the smashing of the party committee system led to boundless anarchy throughout the country? The chaos that was let loose gave a handle to the revisionists to consolidate their own power and the arch opportunists like Lin Biao to hatch conspiracy. This situation paved the path of the 9th Congress of the CPC with serious distortions like the theory of ‘New Era’ and choosing of the ‘Successor’. The capitalist roaders used all this to malign the G.P.C.R. and came to power. The G.P.C.R. as its very name implies needed a sound and a very deep theoretical foundation. It pre-supposes an all comprehensive revolution in human consciousness. The walk-over that the capitalist-roaders had in such a short time indicates that the G.P.C.R. fell far short of achieving all this. We must admit this stark truth. It was obviously not a panacea although we can and should take many great lessons from it. But CPN(M) shows an unqualified support to it. Its contention in favour of the use of ‘Maoism’ instead of Mao Tse Tung Thought also is very weak. The points that have been put forward to prove the qualitative development in the Marxist Theory of Mao are not always very convincing. There is much left to be desired in their philosophical writings.

The readers will, perhaps, understand that all the criticism that we make of the CPN(M) comrades is the result of our sky-high expectation from them. Their achievement is the highest in the contemporary international communist movement. That is why any of their shortcomings hurt us most. With this very expectation we will hope that they will thoroughly combat any trend that goes against the living spirit of Marxism. Our beloved comrades of Nepal have shown daring to climb the unexplored mountain. They will definitely show this daring in every aspect of ideological and theoretical questions.

 

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