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The predictable rise of a red bourgeoisie: the end of a mythical Nepalese Maoist 'revolution'

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Reflections on the recent evolution of Maoism in Nepal.

In March 2011, after a long period of negotiations between the main parties over how to advance the 'peace process' and write a new national constitution, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) re-entered government. Having left government in 2009, this return was made possible by the resolution of the 'integration process' for Maoist ex-combatants, finally agreed between the main parties. Six years after the end of the Maoist Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) decade of guerrilla war and after years of inactivity in cantonments (barrack camps) awaiting an agreement, the majority of PLA combatants opted for integration as career soldiers into their former enemy, the state Nepal Army (NA). Under the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the remainder were given resettlement grants to finance a return to civilian life.

A Maoist minority, the 'hardliner' Baidya faction, opposed the integration deal and disarmament but were too weak to oppose the UCPN(M) majority grouped around the Prachanda & Bhattarai factions. After a free-for-all jockeying for power in the Party, and various shifting combinations of opportunistic alliances between the three, Prachanda and Bhattarrai formed an alliance to sideline Baidya and force through demobilisation. After a long period of instability in Nepali politics, the Maoists rejoined government with Bhattarai as Prime Minister.

* * *Disarming; political power grown out of a gun - into Parliament (and the money)

The Baidya faction would prefer a policy of "people's revolt" for establishing something closer to a Maoist one party dictatorship. Baidya is a militarist whose power base and constituency is primarily the hardline section of the PLA, while Prachanda & Bhattarai are now primarily Party parliamentary politicians appealing to a broader base. They are also, unlike Baidya, involved in wider diplomacy; as always, India continues to lay down the law diplomatically to a large degree in Nepali politics. Prachanda has exhausted all attempts in and out of power to circumvent India's wishes, while Bhattarai has always been a more skilled pragmatist acknowledging that India must be accommodated - so they have allied to secure their comfortable parliamentary careers and a role for the Party in Nepali governmental politics.

The more realistic Party factions had long realised that the military war was not winnable against the might of well armed NA and Indian forces - and that there is little popular enthusiasm for the 'revolt' some factions repeatedly pretended to promise so as to rally their troops; or to threaten rival parties with as a bargaining chip, but never delivered[1]. The 2010 May protest in Kathmandu - promoted as a 'final push to topple the government' - was a fiasco for the Maoists that revealed the limits of their support and options[2].

Any political mandate from supporters they have is far more for reform than revolution; numbers of supporters and voters have never translated into anywhere near equivalent numbers of soldiers. So the military option is unpopular, unlikely and unwinnable. Bhattariai had long realised this, Prachanda belatedly and Baidya is now reluctantly forced to see he may have to accept it. Baidya has probably missed the boat on establishing a credible parliamentary political career and the NA may not offer him a military role even if he wanted it. The present Party crisis and the factional splits over strategy are indicative of the historical impasse they've reached.

Many former PLA combatants, wanting to get on with their lives, drifted away or got bored of poverty and restrictions in the cantons while waiting years for a promised integration solution. As the PLA rank'n'file stagnated, meanwhile internal Party complaints grew about the luxurious lifestyles and enrichment of the Party leaders - as they lived the high life on their massive parliamentary salaries, bought property and sent their kids to private schools.

Whatever rhetoric they occasionally still spout to please the Party's left wing, Prachanda & Bhattarai have accepted that the military war is over, so in the integration Agreement they've traded their (already much declined) military capacity for political goals. And that is the only realistic option for the Maoists - like most other Nepali parliamentary parties, including the conservative Nepali Congress, they've had their period of armed struggle and are now, with difficulty, being accommodated into mainstream politics. The guerrilla war has turned out to be simply the Party leaders' way of demanding entry on more favourable terms. (A small armed splinter group could conceivably begin guerrilla operations, but with even less chance of success than the PLA's past efforts.)

Those who continue to fantasise about a UCPN(M) led Maoist guerrilla 'revolution' are well past their sell-by date. Nearly all the online pro-maoist cheerleaders who for over a decade slavishly praised Nepali Maoism as the heroic leaders of world revolution have now retreated into a deafening silence, without offering any credible analysis or explanation for such developments[3] (predictable though they were to those not blinded by naïve romantic illusions of 'heroic' guerillas and faraway events).

* * *The real class struggle within the Party; the bosses rob the rank'n'file

The pseudo-communists have simply reproduced within the Maoist Party the social relations of the wider society. Having faced up to the likely realities of civilian life and their uncertain career prospects - and in the shadow of the Party's political elite's shameless money-grabbing since the ceasefire - the middle and higher ranks of the People's Liberation Army have decided it's every man for himself and have been looting the PLA lower ranks, demanding a large part of their government demobilisation payments. Many rank'n'file PLA ex-combatants have reported being looted by the Maoist upper ranks. The following is just one of many recent Nepali press reports containing similar statements by both named and unnamed ex-PLA members;

6 Feb 2012

Combatants' Farewell: Violence as party 'demands' fighters' cash

Dozens of combatants complain commanders snatched cheques, ID cards

Bechu Gaud in Nawalparasi & Motilal Poudel in Surkhet

With the Maoist party allegedly trying to pocket about half the money given to combatants opting for voluntary retirement, the process of bidding farewell to the former Maoist fighters has faced a new hurdle.

Dozens of retiring Maoist combatants on Sunday complained that their commanders snatched away pay cheques and identity cards. In Surkhet, commanders snatched away account payee cheques of some 26 combatants of the Jharana Smriti Brigade, Section Vice-Commander Man Bahadur Chand told the Post.

Things turned violent at the fourth division in Nawalparasi after the commanders forced the fighters to deposit 40 percent of the money. Witnesses said a bruised fighter was seen staggering outside the camp after a brawl. Commander Ranadip allegedly beat up some four combatants inside the camp after they refused to follow the "order".

Each of the 7,365 combatants is collecting cheques worth Rs 250,000 to Rs 400,000 as part of the first instalment

"We risked our lives for the party's sake and now the party is doing injustice to us," said combatant Dhan Bahadur Rana from Arunkhola, Nawalparasi. "The amount we are paid is peanuts. We are shocked that the party is trying to take it from us."

Section Vice-Commander Chand of Surkhet said the party demanded he deposit Rs 200,000 and take home the rest, a mere Rs 50,000. [...]

http://www.ekantipur.com/2012/02/06/top-story/combatants-farewell-voilence-as-party-demands-fighters-cash/348457.html (our emphasis)

It has been revealed that part of the wages due to PLA cantonment residents in past years were paid to the Party administration. There is concern too by PLA rank'n'file from all Party factions that savings held in trust by the Party for ex-combatants may not be returned (probably having been spent largely subsidising the expensive lifestyles of the Party elite);

'Where's our deposit money, comrades?'

Wednesday, 07 December 2011 09:22
POST B BASNET/KIRAN PUN
KATHMANDU, Dec 7: With the process of their integration and rehabilitation moving ahead smoothly, personnel of the Maoist People´s Liberation Army (PLA) have sought the return of money the party has kept as “deposits”.

The Maoist party has been retaining Rs 1,000 from the salary of each of the 19,525 combatants every month since November 2006 till November, 2011.

The combatants were told that Rs 500 out of the Rs 1,000 was to be deposited as each combatant´s savings, while the rest of the money was to go to party headquarters, the combative outfit Young Communist League (YCL), and for various activities.

According to sources, the PLA commanders will soon hold talks with Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal about the return of the money.

“Our painful waiting at the cantonments is finally over and it is time to part ways. So the party should now return the money which was kept as savings,” said a PLA vice-commander who did not want to be named.

The total amount of money the party has collected from the salaries of the 19,528 combatants since 2006 stands Rs 1.17 billion.

Going by what the party pledged to the combatants, Rs 585.84 million should now go back into the pockets of the combatants.

But many junior PLA commanders doubt if the party will return the money easily.

“We are not sure if we will get the total amount we are supposed to get as voluntary retirement packages, let alone return of the deposits,” says a junior level commander.

But some others are mulling ´tough measures´ against the party if the money is not returned.

“We may have to resort to legal procedures for justice. We will knock at the doors of the courts,” said a junior commander. [...]

Each of the seven PLA divisions is said to have millions of rupees kept from the combatants´ salaries. According to sources, a large portion of the money has already gone to party headquarters.

Besides, the combatants´ money has been invested in many ventures including the Jana Maitri Hospital and some FM radio stations.

Sources : Republica

http://www.ffp.org.np/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=428&Itemid=145

* * *A new strike ban

When previously in government during 2008-2009 the Maoists had endorsed and enacted legislation to ban strikes. Our articles on this provoked many excuses, lies and personal slanders from pro-maoists online[4], though none could discredit the truth of our comments. Recently, as confirmation of our earlier analysis and just a month after UCPN(Maoist) began to again lead the government, we find that Maoist PM Bhattarai - along with the Maoist-affiliated ANTUF union - has brokered and endorsed a new (4 year!) strike ban agreement with employers;

30 Sep 2011
Govt nod for No Work No Pay policy

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The government today endorsed the March 24 agreement between employers and major trade unions that proposes implementing ‘No Work No Pay’ policy and providing social security allowance to workers.
Endorsing the deal, today’s meeting of Central Labour Advisory Committee, held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who is also looking after the Labour and Transport Management Ministry, made a four-point pact to maintain industrial peace.
Endorsing the March 24 pact between Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and three major trade unions – General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), National Trades Union Congress and All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF) – the meeting has solved most of the labour-related problems in the industrial sector, Krishna Hari Puskar Karna joint-spokesperson for the ministry, said.
The government has pledged to introduce Social Security Act within three months.”It is a great achievement,” Bishnu Rijal, the GEFONT president, said. “We have also agreed to form a committee of employers, trade unions and the government to solve labour disputes,” he said, terming the move a milestone in the history of Nepali trade union. The meeting agreed to form a Minimum Wage Board and enforce the ‘industrial peace year’ declaration that envisages banning industrial strike for the next four years.
FNCCI has hailed the deal. “Employers are happy with the deal. We are withdrawing our case from Supreme Court,” said Pashupati Murarka, president of FNCCI’s Employers Council’, referring to the plea it had filed against the government in the Supreme Court for ‘neglecting’ the March 24 pact and publishing the labour ministry’s April 16 agreement with minor trade unions in the government gazette. The panel has hiked the monthly salary of tea estate workers by Rs 1,064. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=Govt+nod+for+No+Work+No+Pay+policy&NewsID=304515
(Our emphasis)

This episode exposes the rank opportunism of the Maoists. The Bhattarai faction of ANTUF had originally opposed this no strike agreement in an alliance with the Baidya faction. This was at a time when these factions found it opportune to temporarily ally politically against Prachanda's clique as all 3 factions competed for influence over Party policy and control of the union (and its lucrative income). A few months later and, having become PM, Bhattarai signed the same anti-strike deal his union faction had once opposed. The opportunism and cynical shifting alliances of all the Maoist leaders is shameless; eg, in 2008, when Prachanda was PM and he and Bhattarai endorsed strike ban legislation there were no reports of objection from Baidya. Instead Baidya was then promoting the Party's 'Prachanda Path' dogma and its governmental policies as the world's great new revolutionary theory.

The strike ban again endorsed confirms the productivist goals of Maoism; the working class is to be exploited in the name of 'communism' to develop capitalism as a supposed route to 'communism'. ('Communism' = Party rule + industrial development via working class exploitation.) The strike ban will be useful in disciplining the working class to accept their allotted historical role, as will the hyper-exploitation conditions of the Maoists' proposed Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with their more repressive labour conditions designed to attract foreign investors[5].

* * *Capitalism within the Party

Now, there has been rapid deterioration in party's proletarian conduct and working style. The competition of individual concern, interest and return is trying to replace collective concern, initiative and sacrifice for party and revolution. Mutual help, reverence and healthy criticism among comrades is gradually being replaced by the trends of non-cooperation, intolerance and unhealthy criticism. The economic anarchy and opacity, on the one hand, is rapidly making the party slide down from the communist ideals and, on the other, it is making the mutual relation among comrades very much suspicious and unhealthy. A communist system of unconditionally depositing cash or appliances obtained from any source by a comrade of any level of the party has been disappearing and a very bourgeois process of piling up and using them personally by those whoever can is burgeoning. From this, thousands of honest and revolutionary cadres have been victims of desperation, humiliation and discomfort, for they are entrapped in the problems of solving their own daily subsistence, minimum supply of daily necessities, family problems and basic problems of the local people, where as a trend of taking individual benefit by a few party officials and some 'actives' is growing. This situation has created wide dissatisfaction among the revolutionary cadres and it has time and again given rise to natural unrest and fury before the party leadership and the party centre. In order to bring this situation to an end, there is no other way than sorting out plan to develop proletarian conduct and working style and implementing them firmly in the party. (Present Situation and Historical Task of the Proletariat; UCPN(M) document, 2009 - http://www.ucpnm.org/english/doc12.php)

The Maoists are no different from other Nepali parties insofar as they too run various schemes of varying legality to finance the Party and enrich those at the top of their hierarchy. The revenue sources include smuggling[6] and protection rackets extracting payoffs from businessmen, in which the Young Communist League (YCL) have been active. Rival Party trade union factions have accused other Maoist union leaders of operating their own form of protection, whereby strikes are avoided or ended by employers paying off union bosses[7]. The Maoist unions also provide security personnel for the lucrative Kathmandu casinos[8].

Recent official declarations by Nepali political parties show that the Maoists are by far the richest of all. Yearly Party income is reported to now exceed 90 million rupees; more than one million US dollars[9]. Yet this wealth is concentrated in few hands - with consistent complaints from the Party rank'n'file that an elite of Party leaders have become very wealthy since the ceasefire, taking family trips abroad, acquiring property and sending their children to private schools[10]. These hierarchical inequalities of institutional power and wealth are the real class conflict within the Party, rather than the ideological and policy conflicts between Party leaders often misnamed as 'class struggle' over the 'correct line'.

30 Jan 2012

Nepal's top Maoist under fire for luxury mansion

By Deepak Adhikari (AFP) – 2 days ago

KATHMANDU — Nepal's top Maoist politician, who led a 10-year insurgency in the Himalayan country which left 16,000 people dead, was accused Monday of selling out after moving into a lavish mansion in Kathmandu.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who goes by the nom-de-guerre Prachanda (The Fierce One), is a former Communist guerrilla who rose from humble village beginnings to lead a "people's war" against Nepal's royal family and its political elites.

The rented 15-room property -- 1,500 square metres (16,000 sq feet) of prime real estate near the bustling city centre -- includes parking space for more than a dozen vehicles and a table tennis room, his office told AFP.

"The Maoists have deviated from their stated goal. It used to be socialism but now they have surrendered to bourgeois state power," said Mumaram Khanal, a political analyst and former Maoist leader.

"It is natural in such a situation to transform into someone with the characteristics of a member of parliamentary politics. They are revolutionary only in words, not in deeds." [...]

The new mansion costs the Maoist party just over 100,000 rupees ($1,300) a month, the aide told AFP, a modest sum in many countries but almost three times the average annual income in Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iYz7az7j0E7SpTk7130grNabKs3Q?docId=CNG.3805822e112de64f854324c7c664eed4.511
.
... The home is in Kathmandu's exclusive Lazimpat where his wealthy neighbours once lived in fear of his Maoists coming to power and seizing their property.

Instead, Prachanda has moved in among them, into a red-brick mansion next to a home owned by one of his former class enemies, General Shanta Kumar Malla (Rtd), a former military adviser to the late King Birendra.

The compound includes a 15 room suite of offices and a private family residence and parking space for ten cars. [...]

His son has said on his Facebook page that he had moved for security reasons and to live somewhere more befitting a "man of Prachanda's stature".

But it has compounded the resentment of some of his comrades who have noticed his designer suites, expensive watches and luxury cars. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/nepal/9049032/Nepali-Maoist-leader-adopts-millionaires-lifestyle.html
(Our emphasis)

As the leadership has accumulated massive parliamentary salaries and other less visible revenue streams the Party rank'n'file have for years complained of the luxurious lifestyles of the Party elite - with little effect. The long containment of the PLA ex-combatants in the cantonments has been very convenient for the Party elite; with the rank'n'file quarantined and neutralised the leadership's business of accumulation of political power and its accompanying wealth has been achieved with minimum effective opposition from the poorest PLA veterans.

* * *The real and imagined village

Nepali Maoists talk about abolishing feudalism (or 'semi-feudalism') and again mystify terms. Rather than talking about capitalism and feudalism as modes of production they refer to various surviving cultural habits and institutions originating in feudalism as proof that feudalism still exists, rather than its remnants adapted to an evolved setting[11]. They confuse a moral judgement of conditions of exploitation in poorer countries with an analysis of production relations; i.e., how a surplus is extracted from labour in the context of Nepal's function in a global economy. The predominantly rural population of Nepal is not peopled by medieval surfs - but by a majority of smallholding farming families operating within a capitalist market (alongside some larger landowners, tenant farmers and rural landless labourers). While much peasant farming is at subsistence level, rather than market-driven, it is not this that solely defines the mode of production and its social relations. Many of the peasantry are unable to feed themselves year-round from their available land - and so pursue a semi-proletarian existence as migrating seasonal workers selling their labour power elsewhere. Many are also longer term migrant workers; a million peasant and urban sons and daughters work abroad and are integrated into the global economy as modern proletarians[12]. Their 'remittance' cash sent home has transformed the Nepali economy, in particular the property and land market.

Blinded by their redundant categories, the Maoists miss what is most interesting about recent developments in peasant life;

It is commonly observed that traditional feudalism still prevails in the Madhesh. But, in reality, it has now been replaced by a labourer dominated society. About two to three decades ago, when labourers from Madhesh started going to Punjab, Haryana and also to ... for a quarter of a year ... Their migration was for a limited period, that is when they had no work for their engagement at home. It was a periodic employment migration. But, for the last two decades, labourers have been going to the Gulf countries for employment. In the beginning, the Muslim community took the lead. But now there is hardly any landless family that doesn’t have one or two members working in those countries. The common people have considered foreign employment as the only means of eradicating their poverty. Interestingly, they go there even after paying exorbitant interests on the money they take as loan for paying the agents towards their services and airfare. [...]
There is a glaring change in the living conditions of the people. They are mow living in the cemented brick-houses, which are replacing the thatched huts gradually. Cemented roofs or tiled roofed houses can be observed almost everywhere in the village. [...]

The second priority of investment of remittances falls on the procurement of land, which is the prime permanent source of income for the have-nots as it is very much needed to meet the food requirement. The availability of land for sale in abundance is yet another factor facilitating the transfer of ownership of land. The traditional landowners are desperate for selling off their land as there is a dearth of labourers in the villages. The dearth of labourers is attributed to the young workers having left the villages for foreign employment. The cost of cultivation has increased substantially. There is very little irrigation facilities and lack of timely and adequate availability of fertilisers. The ownership of land is gradually getting transferred from the haves to the have-nots, the new class of labourers. It can be safely said that nearly forty to fifty percent of the land ownership have been shifted during the last fifteen years from the traditional owners to the landless class.

Interestingly, the female members of the families are becoming landowners. Since the male members of the families are out of home to earn their livelihood, the female members of the families naturally become the land owners when any new piece of land is bought. For instance, out of four registrations we made, three registrations were in favour of female owners. This is really a milestone of social changes taking place in the remote areas. [...]
July 2010
http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/ful...&NewsID=249162

So here we have an odd, but modern, form of proletarian condition; village poverty - partly caused by insufficient land for subsistence of families - encourages migration for work abroad. This creates a labour shortage at home that encourages bigger landowners to sell their untilled land - to be bought by the remittance earnings causing the labour shortage. And so the earnings of the peasant-turned-emigrant proletarian can often be used to more fully establish the returning emigrant as landed peasant. (Or to expand the base of smallholders-cum-seasonal proletarians.)

Rural feudalism? No;

At Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) [in Kathmandu], scenes of youths like Gaihres forming serpentine lines to board airplanes headed toward major labor destinations, mostly an unchartered territory for most of them, is not uncommon. Their aim is to reach the intended destination, not get duped by manpower agencies, and land on a decently-paying job. The expectation of their families is likewise.

Enter Kathmandu and head toward the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and you will see a much more chaotic scene: Anxious, curious, and confused aspirant migrants waiting to get their passport issued. [...]

Go farther away from the city center and you will see a completely different terrain. New buildings are popping up everywhere and there is an influx of migrants in and around city centers. Some of the villages lack the backbone of local economy i.e. youths. Elderly and kids are the main inhabitants of villages as youths have/are headed either to overseas labor destinations or to major city centers. Daily wages for manual labor have more than doubled. Interestingly, each alternate house either has a ‘cold store’ or a retail store—one wonders from where demand comes from. Perhaps, this is the best way to kill time. The opportunity cost of labor appears zero to them. There is no better way to waste labor than be self-employed—unproductive sales person waiting for customers in a place where pretty much every household owns a retail store!

The influx of money sent by migrants sweating and saving pennies overseas is changing the way we consume and invest. While consumption accounts for over 90 percent of GDP, gross domestic savings is equivalent to a mere 9.7 percent. Banks are becoming big fat kids from slim ones as remittances are constantly pouring in, facilitating instant easy lending to a handful of sectors. Due to political instability, squeezing returns on investment and pressure to maintain comfortable profit margin, banks are eschewing lending to traditional employment-generating sectors. Instead, money is channeled into construction, real estate, and import-consumption sectors. These sectors are referred to as “unproductive” i.e. they do not absorb much labor for employment given the scale of domestic investment.

In the last five years, construction and real estate sectors grew at an average of 4.5 percent and 7 percent annually, respectively. In real estate, credit flow doubled from Rs 7.71 billion to Rs 14.92 billion in the past two fiscal years. Unfortunately, GDP growth rate was around 3 percent and industrial sector growth just over 1 percent. Due to neglect and flawed priority, the contribution of remittances in stimulating the real sectors is minimal. [...]
Aug 2010
http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22313

The Nepalese banks have in recent years followed the global economy in its expansion of debt provision - predictably fuelling an inflated property market which is already falling into negative equity (i.e., properties now worth less than they were bought for) and which seems on the brink of a major crash.

The working class remaining at home, though expanding, remains a minority of a largely (80%) rural agricultural population. Nepal is sandwiched between the two emerging industrial giants of India and China; it is the relationship to those neighbouring proletariats that will likely define the chances ultimately of any radical movement of the poor in Nepal - which would need to have a very different character to the Maoist insurgency.

Elsewhere in the remoter poorer areas of the countryside aid shipments of rice rations by NGOs and government have, by creating a subsistence dependency, influenced the stagnation of agriculture and created a business chain of suppliers, importers, transporters, distributors and state and NGO bureaucrats that often remains keen to perpetuate this profitable dependence. Tourism in wealthier, more ideally situated, rural areas has in recent years also helped inflate the property market into eventual negative equity and is another connection to global markets. None of these economic conditions can be described as "rural (semi-)feudalism".

Nepal is not "feudal" but increasingly integrated into a global capitalist economy that uses less developed regions to source a cheaper mobile surplus labour power. Maoists may feel obliged to claim a dominant (semi-)feudalism still needing to be overthrown - as a convenient excuse to justify their capitalist goals and to try to make those goals appear differently motivated than rival parties. (They can also then claim that they are fulfilling some grand historical mission.) But it is not anti-feudal Maoism transforming the Nepali economy - but rather its relationship to global capital and its supply of labour power to it. The party squabbles over the political management of the Nepali state may be a long, slow and still unresolved process - but, as shown above, meanwhile global capital itself continues to develop the capitalist economy by its intense exploitation of the Nepali poor. The national management of that exploitation and its relationship with global capital (e.g., via those zones of hyper-exploitation - the Maoists’ beloved SEZs - and by attracting foreign investment) is the real point of contestation for all rival Nepali parties.

* * *Conclusion

It is a leftist illusion to see Maoism as outside or beyond bourgeois politics, in Nepal or elsewhere. Maoism has always had a schematic theory of progressive stages of revolution involving cross-class alliances with supposedly 'progressive' bourgeoisies in the conquest of state power. When the Chinese CP took power, having won the civil war in, 1949, their official line was that the 'class struggle' (supposedly incarnated in the political advancement of the vanguard party and their victory over the nationalists) was 'the victory of the national bourgeois democratic revolution'. (Nepal: A Long March towards bourgeois democracy? - libcom article, 2006; http://libcom.org/news/article.php/nepal-maoists-protests-analysis-2006)

Maoist ideology advocates conquest of state power and, as part of that process, stages of collaboration with a "bloc of four classes" including the "progressive bourgeois forces". So recent developments are only the predictable outcome of the general logic embodied in Maoist practice. There is no 'sell out' or 'betrayal'; Nepalese Maoism did not 'betray' but (regardless of what it thought itself doing) fulfilled its role as the armed faction of the anti-monarchist pro-bourgeois democratic forces ('revolution' is arguably stretching definitions too far). Global geo-political realities always determined that the Maoists were confronting, not only the Nepali ruling class, but also the regional interests of their giant neighbours India and China alongside the wider diplomacy of the US and EU. Unlike their earlier Chinese Maoist model, under less favourable conditions Nepalese Maoism failed to even defeat the national ruling class militarily or politically; the only 'betrayal' then is to have deluded themselves and their followers that a state conquest was ever likely or near - and that such a conquest could ever lead to a classless society. If the subsequent abolition of royal autocracy in 2008 was to be classified as any kind of "revolution" at most it could only be as a political/constitutional 'revolution' consolidating bourgeois democracy[13], and this was not achieved by the Maoists alone but by a multi-party alliance.

Maoism largely takes the Marxist terminology originally developed as descriptive and interpretive of 19th century western industrial society and applies it to a very different form of capitalist society where the typical western industrial development and its proletariat is often minimal or absent. This leads to various mystifications, such as the notion that 'Marxist' 'revolutionaries' must function as a surrogate bourgeoisie and force this development. Unlike Maoism, Marx never intended to develop a theory of peasant revolution based on class collaboration; yet his more mature thoughts on rural societies - derived largely from study of the Russian mir peasant communes - saw that there wasn't necessarily an 'inevitable' stage of capitalist development that peasantries had to pass through as a pre-condition for ending capitalism[14].

Maoism sees all working class interests and revolutionary potential as dwelling only within the Party - therefore obedience to the leadership's Party line is the first and last 'revolutionary duty'. If one accepts the totalitarian mentality of this absolute identity between Party and class then all criticism of the Party and opposition to it must be "counter-revolutionary" and "anti-working class" and be treated accordingly. Unsurprisingly, Western pro-maoists have long been happy to excuse and defend all the above examples of exploitative practices within Nepali Maoism; the strike bans, promotion of Chinese-style hyper-exploitative SEZs, parliamentary participation and its accompanying creation of a wealthy Party elite etc. All these anti-working class/anti-rural poor measures are acceptable to those who equate all working class interests as embodied in the progressive accumulation of political power by the Party. The conception of 'revolution' and 'communism' remains on the bourgeois terrain of possession of state power; it has nothing to do with proletarian self-organisation and everything to do with the organisation of the obedient proletariat by the ruling party. Hence the treatment of the working class as a passive component of class society, allotted its roles. For ex-PLA combatants - as guerrilla cannon fodder to enable the political ascent of the Party elite, to be then looted and discarded by them. (The Party leadership spent much of the war in India far from any bullets.) For the workers - to be a passive voter constituency aiding the same political ascendancy and as labour power to be pimped to global capital via SEZs and strike bans. (Exposing the emptiness of decades of Maoist "anti-imperialist" sloganising.)

The western pro-maoists have no apparent analysis of what some of them call a 'sell out of the Nepalese Revolution'. At best, they blame it on a deviant 'revisionist line' taken (for some unexplained reason) by the Party leadership; the same leadership they had uncritically praised, for over a decade and until only a few weeks before disarmament, as the purest revolutionary idols who were faithfully applying Maoism in Nepal.

But, in the misty eyes of western pro-maoists, the final unforgiveable sin was for Nepali Maoism to destroy the romantic spectacle of heroic 3rd World guerrillas fighting (a mythical) 'feudalism'. The recent PLA disarmament betrayed all their wet dreams and their present silence of sheepishly withdrawn support will likely only be broken by the adoption of some other faraway romantic guerrilla 'Cause' run by similar political rackets. We can expect little insight and reflection on, eg, the predictable link between the accumulation of political power by the Party elite of a hierarchical organisation and their simultaneous accumulation of material wealth and luxurious lifestyle. Nor many insights on the limits of guerrilla activity generally - though all the blood of the PLA guerrilla "martyrs" has achieved little but the enrichment and career advancement of the Maoist Party elite and has challenged the existence of a class society not one bit.

One can only see the Maoists as "selling out" if one thought them capable of "buying in" to a proletarian revolution as a vanguard party leadership. But if one believes the self-emancipation of the working classes via the abolition of class society could only begin to develop within a different historical process - one diametrically opposed to the un-communist Maoist Party and their vanguardist, statist, nationalist and productivist conceptions of change - this is largely beside the point. Given these conceptions, present events were not only predictable, but arguably embedded in the hierarchical practice and program of the Party from the beginning.

Guerilla Maoism has generally been limited by its rural isolation from, lack of resonance with and weak grounding in the urban working class; but the UCPN(M) has now made limited inroads via their trade unions. The Party leadership ruled over a guerilla army used as a mass of impersonal human material - in much the same way it seeks to exploit the labour power of the working class. In both the war and post-war eras the Party's hierarchical command structures have sought to reduce the mass of individual subjects to an objectified mass, passive components to be exploited; in wartime as a mass of peasant military labour - in peacetime as a mass proletarian labour army.

But a general growing Nepali disillusionment with politics may breed clarity. The perpetual intense competition of left and right factions of Nepali politics for control of the state has dominated society to the extent that it's tended to subordinate all other struggles to these organisations' goals. But recent developments could be seen historically as perhaps beginning to 'clear the decks' for what is always ultimately necessary for struggles of the exploited; to recognise that those who seek to rule over 'the masses' in their name are often the greatest obstacle to radical social movements and must be opposed as the aspiring left wing of the ruling class. The self-organisation of struggles must be a struggle against such enemies as much as any other; how many among the Nepali exploited will draw this conclusion and use it to inform their future practice is too early to say.

To call the Maoists' present factional rivalries 'class struggle within the Party' is another myth; these rivalries occur far above the heads of the exploited, who have no more influence on them than on the squabbles of any other party leadership - the masses of poor are mere spectators, even if such power battles are undertaken supposedly in their name. The relationship is the same as between all other political party representatives and their constituencies. The claim that they represent opposing class outlooks is, again, transplanting mystified Marxian terms onto the leftist wing of the bourgeois democratic process and its internal rivalries. (All three Maoist leaders are from highly educated, high caste relatively upper class backgrounds.)

The armed struggle is over (unless Baidya's faction were to make a last desperate attempt) and has paved the way for the Maoist majority to be integrated into parliamentary politics. So far there has been no "Nepalese Revolution" to "sell out" as disillusioned pro-maoist ex-cheerleaders claim. Even in Maoist terms they've failed to get anywhere near their oft-expressed and distorted conception of 'revolution' - ie, the Party's exclusive seizure of state power. (Some will desperately claim they are still progressing through the 'necessary stages' towards that.) They can't even claim sole credit for overthrow of the monarchy - that was achieved in alliance with a wider "Jana Andolan-II" pro-democracy movement, including a Seven Party Alliance and major street protests[15]. Nor can they claim any evidence for a revolutionary sentiment among the vast majority of the poor; the leaked Prachanda video revealed the PLA strength at ceasefire as only 7,000 after a decade of guerrilla war[16]. So we see no 'revolution'. To talk about 'a sell out of the Nepalese Revolution' also implies that the Maoists co-opted/recuperated and led astray a larger revolutionary movement. But there was no such movement pre-dating the Maoist guerrillas - and, as recent events make even clearer, the Maoists' activity was an armed reformism seeking military and political entry and accommodation within the bourgeois state, as functionaries and beneficiaries of the ruling class. Pro-maoists may pretend otherwise, but the remaining internal Maoist conflicts are not between 'revisionist' and 'revolutionary' 'lines'; but only about the extent and pace of this accommodation and its rewards.

The competing Party factions have expressed no disagreement over the Party's long term economic programme; ie, its plans to exploit the working class via SEZs, strike bans etc. The conflicts are over which route to be taken to maximise the accumulation of political power (with its accompanying wealth) and how it is to be allocated between the competing Party factions: i.e., the politics of a red bourgeoisie.

8*8*8*8

 

NOTES
[1] The Maoists used the same cynical tactics as other parties to inflate the image of their popular support;

"After demolishing large parts of the city to widen roads, the municipality and government have trained their sights on Kathmandu's squatter settlements like this one on the banks of the fetid Bagmati. Politicians settled supporters on the floodplains and public land in Kathmandu over the past 20 years to pad up vote banks, occupy prime real estate and muster numbers for street demonstrations. Many in the slums are millionaires with other houses and property in the city, and they now have so much political clout no politician dare evict them." http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2012/01/11/Headline/18878

"The settlers below Bagmati Bridge in Thapathali were first brought in by the Maoists in 2006 for the pro-democracy movement against king Gyanendra. They have subsequently been used for political rallies like the six-day total shutdown in 2009.
"It was us who provided the numbers for the Maoist party for its show of strength in political rallies," says Dipak Rai, who leads the Struggle Committee of Squatters, "and now the same party is trying to get rid of us.
The Maoists, it turns out, were just following in the footsteps of the UML which perfected vote-bank resettlement in Kathmandu into a fine art."
http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/2012/01/11/Nation/18872

[2] Bussed-in peasants began draining away after a few days of orchestrated protest in Kathmandu, some complaining of being pressured to attend by Maoist cadre. For all their claimed rural support base, the Maoists appear to have badly miscalculated by timing the protests just as the peasants' crucial planting season began.
[3] The appeal of 3rd worldist 'Marxism' to western leftists is partly a rejection of revolutionary possibilities for the western working class. Western Maoism is now largely US-based, where for a long time Maoist politics dominated leftism. It remains based partly on romanticising faraway struggles - far enough away to blur all contradictions and to be uncritically fed dubious flattering propaganda. 'Anti-imperialism' is seen as sufficient reason to support and excuse the most repressive regimes (though Mao's cosying up to Nixon and Pol Pot's 1970s bloodbath were to finally shatter some illusions). In the 1960s many white leftists (oft-times motivated by guilt) saw the white working class as 'bought off by imperialism' - and US blacks as most oppressed, therefore the US 'proletarian vanguard'. Many black leftist groups identified with 3rd world national liberation struggles - and guilt-ridden white leftism often followed their lead.
[4] http://libcom.org/library/myths-realities-nepalese-maoists-their-strike-ban-legislations
http://libcom.org/news/nepal-victory-turns-sour-22012009
http://libcom.org/news/nepal-maoists-restate-intention-ban-strikes-other-news-10042009
Other examples of pro-maoist responses and distortions; http://kasamaproject.org/2010/01/05/unraveling-a-lie-no-nepals-maoists-didnt-ban-strikes/ - followed by some excellent critical comments by 'kdog'.
http://www.revleft.com/vb/did-nepals-maoists-t125960/index3.html - our comments begin at post #42.
http://kasamaproject.org/2009/01/29/prachanda-nepalese-people-will-seize-power/#comment-11628 - comments correcting various slurs and untruths begin in comments beneath article at post #33. The debate here was at least, for the most part, reasoned and not merely dismissive.
http://www.revleft.com/vb/maoists-nepal-propose-t99880/index.html - a longish debate between left-communists and anarchists against pro-maoists.
http://www.indymedia.org.nz/article/78374/eyewitness-revolution-nepal-touring-nz - see comments beneath article.
[5] On SEZs, see; http://libcom.org/library/myths-realities-nepalese-maoists-their-strike-ban-legislations
[6] See this smugglers dispute where rival Party factions grassed each other up/snitched to the Party and to the cops; http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/in...&news_id=33277
[7] On union rivalry, see;
http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullTodays.php?headline=ANTUF%20rift%20reaches%20%20industries&NewsID=281411
The Maoist ANTUF union reflected the wider Party divisions when it split along the lines of the three factions and had to be patched back together;

"What does the dissolution of the three parallel Maoist trade unions mean? It means that the situation had become untenable in the eyes of the public, even if the absurdity of three separate unions belonging to the one mother party was simply a reflection of the seemingly irreconcilable three-way split in the highest echelons of the not quite United Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist." http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/2011/04/4/Editorial/18086

[8]

"The casinos in Kathmandu are another source of income for the union. Sources say the union raises more than Rs 100,000 from each of the eight casinos here. "The union gives protection to the casinos and the casino owners pay handsome amount to the union leaders for that," says a junior leader of the union."
http://archives.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=29147

[9] http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2012/01/13/top-story/maoist-party-is-the-richest-cash-details-submitted-to-ec-show/230373.html
[10] http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=31829
[11] The dominant overall mode of production is easily confused by shallow 3rd Worldist observation;
Question; which '3rd World' country is described thus?

"Not until the 1960s did the urban population surpass the rural population." ... "Until the middle of the twentieth century, agriculture was dominated by small holdings and family farms. Two factors have affected rural land holdings since World War II. There has been an acceleration of the rural exodus leading to a strong migration toward cities, along with a consolidation of farm lands that had been scattered through inheritance patterns."

Answer; No, not a developing Asian country that would be termed as at least 'semi-feudal' by Maoists - the country is France. http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/France.html
[12]

A recently published report by World Bank (WB) on "Immigration And Remittance Fact Book 2011", stated that till 2010, some 982,200 Nepali people have migrated to foreign lands, which accounts for 3.2 percent of total population of the country, reports Karobar daily.
Of the total Nepali immigrants, 68.2 percent are female while 13.8 percent are refugees.
The top 10 destinations for Nepali immigrants include India, Qatar, USA, Thailand, UK, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Brunei, Darussalam, Australia and Canada.
Those Nepalis who have migrated to other countries for the purpose of study account for 3.5 percent of total migration. [...]
"In 2011, the country received US $ 3.5 billion as remittance, which accounts for 23 percent of the country's GDP." http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2011/feb/feb15/news10.php

Other sources claim the number of migrants as much higher, up to 2 million.
[13] As we had indicated in 2006 during the pro-democracy protests;

"Since 1950, whenever faced with armed or other political opposition, the royal autocracy have repeatedly promised democratic reform, before abandoning the commitment with another wave of repression; ... For the moment, the situation in Nepal might be classified as an unfinished bourgeois revolution. But then, perhaps one could have said that at any time since 1950. The once and for all decisive abolition of royal autocracy is the logical next historic step for the bourgeois forces ..."
http://libcom.org/news/article.php/nepal-maoists-protests-analysis-2006

[14] Late Marx and the Russian Road: Marx and the "Peripheries of Capitalism" - ed. T. Shanin, Monthly Review Press, 1984.
[15] One could argue over how crucial the Maoists' participation in Jana-Andolan II was in achieving its goals. But the existence of such a movement was certainly not dependent on the Maoists - as shown by the first Jana-Andolan democracy movement in 1990 which occurred years before the emergence of the Maoist Party and its guerrilla activity.
On People's Movement-II; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_democracy_movement_in_Nepal
[16] http://libcom.org/news/fierce-one-speaks-forked-tongue-nepalese-maoists-leave-government-sackings-lies-videotape-1