To the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and all Parties and Organizations of RIM
On March 19, 2008, our Party sent a circular letter to the comrades of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as well as to the other parties and organizations of RIM expressing our deepest concern over the political and ideological orientation of the CPN(M) and the basic path it has been following for the last three years. The central point in that letter was our belief that despite the great struggle and sacrifices of the ten years of People’s War and its tremendous achievements, the state system being established and consolidated in Nepal is not New Democracy, the particular form of the dictatorship of the proletariat appropriate in countries like Nepal, but rather a bourgeois state, a “federal democratic republic” which will preserve and enforce the existing capitalist and semi‑feudal relations of production prevalent in Nepal.
The People’s Liberation Army is to be destroyed through “integration” into the reactionary state army and/or dissolved by other means, land distributed by the revolution to the peasantry is to be returned to previous owners, Western imperialist powers and reactionary states such as China and India are being hailed as great friends of the Nepalese people, and astounding theoretical propositions are being put forward such as the “joint dictatorship of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie”.[i] Instead of arguing for a program of carrying forward the revolution, CPN(M) leaders and government officials have loudly advocated positions and policies that so flagrantly go against the principles of proletarian revolution and the interests of the masses in Nepal and around the world that any genuine communist is shocked, saddened and angry to hear them on the lips of comrades of our Movement.
Yes, we have heard that the assurances from some that all of this is but a “transitional state” that can be transformed into a genuine people’s state – or, sometimes we are told, it is but a clever ploy to “deceive the enemy” while preparations continue to bring the revolution to a victorious conclusion. But in fact each step taken down this road is making it more difficult ideologically, politically, organizationally and militarily to get back on the revolutionary path. Today many more communists, in Nepal and elsewhere, are coming to recognize that the formation of the “federal democratic republic” is not a “stepping stone” toward achieving the communist objectives but a giant step backwards, away from revolution and away from the achievements of the People’s War, and a giant step toward firmly reconsolidating Nepal’s position in the reactionary world imperialist system.
The Problem Is The Line Of The Party
It is excellent that many comrades are now recoiling when they stare into the abyss into which the revolution in Nepal is falling.. The question is to understand how things reached this point and, most importantly, what is necessary to fundamentally reverse this course and save the fruits of the revolution in Nepal that are being so rapidly destroyed. The current situation is no accident, no mere excess in carrying out an otherwise correct policy. It is not just one more “maneuver to the right” that can be easily corrected by a following “maneuver to the left”. The current display of class collaboration is a direct result of the ideological and political line that has been leading the Party over the last period, particularly since the immediate goal of the Party was defined as the establishment of the “transitional state”, that is, a bourgeois democratic republic.[ii]
The immediate task facing all communists who hold the revolution in Nepal dear is to repudiate and fight against the wrong line in the CPN(M). Once again we will quote the words of Mao Tsetung: “If one’s line is incorrect, one’s downfall is inevitable, even with the control of the central, local and army leadership. If one’s line is correct, even if one has not a single soldier at first, there will be soldiers, and even if there is no political power, political power will be gained. This is borne out by the historical experience of our Party and by that of the international communist movement since the time of Marx.… The crux of the matter is line. This is an irrefutable truth.”[iii]
Today the question of the future direction of Nepal is being battled out in the domain of political line and ideology. If a correct revolutionary communist line can triumph within the party, the energy and aspirations of people that have been unleashed by the People’ War can be harnessed and led, and there is a real possibility that nationwide victory can be won and the pathway opened to socialism. On the contrary, if the present line of the CPN(M) leadership is not repudiated, this great opportunity for the people in Nepal and for the communist movement more generally will be lost. We are not in a position to speculate or propose specific tactical steps, and we do not see that as the role that comrades in the international movement can or should be playing. We must all focus our attention on major matters of ideological and political line and not on secondary matters of tactics or so-called “maneuvering”. Most fundamentally this means reaffirming, ideologically and in its political line and specific policies, that the revolution in Nepal is seeking to establish socialist relations in the country as part of the whole world process by which the capitalist‑imperialist world order will be overthrown and supplanted by socialism and ultimately communism. Yes, the revolution in Nepal must pass through the transition of New Democracy, but the purpose of the New Democratic Revolution is exactly a transition toward socialism, and not toward an acceleration of capitalism in Nepal and its further integration into the world imperialist system.[iv]
This essential point – the need to maintain the goal and orientation of fighting for New Democracy and not substituting the goal of classless, “pure” democracy (which can only mean bourgeois democracy, whether federal and proportional or not) – was a major theme of our October 2005 letter to the Party, which the CPN(M) leadership dismissed as merely being the “ABCs of Marxism” with no importance for analyzing the specific questions of tactics and policy facing the Party. But these “ABCs”, or more correctly put, these basic truths of Marxism, confirmed in the course of generations of revolutionary struggle all over the world, remain crucial to the success or failure of the revolution, and the rejection of these basic truths by the CPN(M)leadership is what is leading the revolution over the cliff.
New Democracy & Socialism Are Stepping Stones On The Road To Communism
New Democracy requires a joint dictatorship of the revolutionary classes under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard, that is to say, a specific form of the dictatorship of the proletariat appropriate to the stage of the democratic revolution. While the system of New Democracy recognizes and protects the interests of the national bourgeoisie, it targets as an enemy the comprador and bureaucrat capitalist sector which is, after all, the dominant form of capitalism in Nepal. In its international policy, New Democracy aligns itself with the masses of people struggling against imperialism and reaction and opposes the world imperialist system. Economically, as Mao put it, New Democracy “opens the door to capitalism”, but “it opens the door to socialism even wider” by quickly establishing state ownership over those sectors controlled by the imperialists, allied reactionary states and the bureaucrat-comprador bourgeoisie and feudal elements. In the countryside New Democracy means the thorough and revolutionary implementation of “land to the tiller” by mobilizing and relying on the oppressed masses of the peasantry. Culturally, New Democracy means mobilizing the masses and unleashing them to thoroughly uproot backward institutions such as caste discrimination, child marriage, the oppression of women, the oppression of nationalities and so forth. Indeed, to a large extent New Democracy means completing on a nationwide level the revolutionary democratic transformations that the Party had begun in the base areas.
In all of these aspects the New Democratic system represents something quite different from bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois democracy accepts the capitalist system in a given country and internationally. It offers “equal rights” (especially the right to vote) to everyone within the framework of the existing ownership system and the existing relations of production. Bourgeois democracy will always seek to demobilize the masses and oppose and repress the efforts of the masses to assert their own interests.. And we know that in a country like Nepal, bourgeois rule, however “democratic”, inevitably involves a great degree of compromise with semi-feudal relations, as is seen so clearly in neighboring India. The “rule of (bourgeois) law” so central to bourgeois democracy means that government officials become the agents and enforcers of bourgeois law. Isn’t this an important lesson of the “Yadov affair”, when comrade Matrika Yadov, the CPN(M) Minister of Land Reform and Management in the new government, resigned over his refusal to accept the use of state violence to evict the peasantry off of land that had been redistributed to them by the revolution?[v] This shows quite clearly how the government cannot help but function as an agent of the reactionary production and social relations, and it is a good illustration of Marx’s point that “the proletariat cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes” but must “smash it” and establish its own state.[vi]
Today when the choice before the Party and the masses is sharpening up as one between a “people’s republic” and a bourgeois republic (in the form of the “federal democratic republic”), it is essential for the communists themselves to be clear on the fundamental meaning of these two, opposite, kinds of states. It is important to be vigilant as well that the very conception of “people’s republic” (or New Democratic republic) is not gutted and reduced to just a different label on the bourgeois democratic republic. It is important to firmly grasp that the New Democratic republic must be part of the world proletarian revolution and that it must serve as a transition to socialism and communism.
This goal must not be left at the level of an empty declaration of faith. We should not forget that even the most brazen capitalists in China still hide behind the banner of the “Communist” Party. Taking the socialist road requires understanding clearly what socialism and communism actually mean. It is not about the “perfection of democracy” in a way detached from the class struggle.[vii] It is about achieving a society without class distinctions through the overcoming of the “four alls” Marx spoke about and which became popularized in the GPCR of China. Marx wrote that the communist revolution must aim at the elimination of: all classes and class distinctions generally, all the relations of production on which they rest, all the social relations corresponding to them, and all the ideas that result from these social relations.
The vehicle for assuring this transition from one social epoch to another is the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only if state power is firmly in the hands of the proletariat at the leadership of an alliance with the other revolutionary classes will it be possible to protect the interests of the masses, as we have seen in the entire course of the People’s War. If state power is in the hands of the masses countrywide led by a vanguard party clear on its goal, the initial transformations carried out in the base areas can be consolidated throughout the country and, most importantly, this state power can be used to begin the long and difficult but truly liberating process of transforming the economic and social relations between people in the direction of socialism and communism.
The fundamental issue at stake in the debate over the form of the state and the role of “multiparty democracy” in Nepal today is actually about whether the dictatorship of the proletariat (at the stage of New Democracy) will be established. Indeed, as the Chinese comrades pointed out during the epoch of Mao, all of the great struggles between Marxism and revisionism have been focused on the question of establishing and persevering in the proletarian dictatorship, and this is the case in Nepal today.
There are important and difficult questions concerning the form of people’s rule: What role should be allowed for competing political parties? How can the rights of the masses be guaranteed in deeds and not only in words? How can the revolution mobilize all positive factors in society to advance? And yes, there have been serious errors in the history of the communist movement in this regard, although our party does not accept the one-sided negation of the previous experience of the communist movement that is trumpeted by the international bourgeoisie and, unfortunately, echoed by the leadership of the CPN(M). But one thing is quite certain: it will be impossible to address the genuine questions correctly unless comrades understand the desirability and the possibility of achieving a wholly different type of society (socialism and communism) and therefore the need for the state to serve as a vehicle for carrying out this transformation, step-by-step and in conjunction with the masses the world over.
If the essence of the state is the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, if it is understood to be a vehicle for thoroughly uprooting class society and all of the evils that flow from it, then and only then will it be possible to answer the question of what type of democracy is required and what forms it might take. Again, the Yadov affair is instructive – what about the rights of the peasants to own the land they till? These rights count for nothing in the kingdom of “pure democracy”. And where is the state power to back up the rights of the peasantry, even if they were formally recognized? But it is not only a question of which classes enjoy democracy under the proletarian dictatorship and which classes are the object of this dictatorship. The proletarian dictatorship can and must also guarantee the democratic rights of those intellectuals and other middle class strata whose class position between the masses and the exploiting classes tends to reinforce illusions of “pure” democracy.
More importantly, in a society that is truly advancing on the socialist road, it is possible and necessary to unleash the critical spirit among intellectuals and others and welcome the criticism that such forces will have of the socialist society and proletarian rule, in the spirit of applying the dynamic Bob Avakian has called “solid core with a lot of elasticity”. In fact, the stifling of dissent, the absence of rights, and bureaucratic stultification is a feature of revisionist rule (even a quick look at contemporary China shows this easily). The socialist society that revolutionary communists must construct will be a far livelier and more invigorating place for the masses and for the intellectuals then any of the reactionary societies in the world today, whether they be “liberal democracies” like India or the US or revisionist prisons like China or North Korea.
Every state consists of a dictatorship led by a specific class (in alliance with others) and every state requires a specific kind of democracy that corresponds to the interests of the ruling class and the kind of society it is building. This is why Lenin correctly stressed that the proletarian dictatorship is a million times more democratic than the most liberal of bourgeois democracies.. The crucial question is democracy for whom and for what aim? What is needed is democracy among the broad ranks of the masses and dictatorship over the small number of exploiters, a democracy that energizes society and mobilizes all of the diverse and contradictory features that can help propel the society forward along the socialist road toward communism. The kind of dictatorship and the kind of democracy needed are those that reflect the truth Lenin was getting at when he said communism springs forth from “every pore”. We do not need the empty shell of bourgeois democracy where the exploiting classes and their socio-economic system set the terms and the limits of political life and discourse and that reduces the masses’ participation in politics to an occasional vote or demonstration.[viii]
The Election Miracle?
The most significant event that took place since we sent our letter of March 19, 2008 has been the Constituent Assembly elections, the emergence of the CPN(M) as the largest party in the country and the subsequent formation of a government with Comrade Prachanda at its head.
One leading comrade of the CPN(M) described this as “the election miracle”. And indeed, we ourselves, like many other observers, were surprised by the result.
We had written in our March 19 letter: “The most likely result is that the CPN(M) will be defeated ‘fairly’ at the elections… If in the extremely unlikely event that the Party did come to occupy the key positions of government through this electoral process the very alliance required, the entanglement in bourgeois political institutions and with the ‘international community’ will ensure that there is no transfer of power to the proletariat and the oppressed classes and no basis for the state to carry out the revolutionary transformation of society.”
What our party had predicted as “extremely unlikely”, that is the emergence of a CPN(M)‑led government, has come into being.
We were wrong to introduce a specific prediction of the election result in our previous letter. Not only did this prediction turn out to be wrong, it weakens the essential and correct point we were making in that letter including in the paragraph cited above – that the Constituent Assembly (CA) process could not lead to the peaceful transfer of power to the proletariat and masses of Nepal and would instead legitimize the reactionary bourgeois state. Advancing an election prediction, whether or not it turned out to be correct, feeds into the very pragmatism that is such a problem in the Party – judging tactics and policy by whether they “work” (or seem to work) rather than by whether they correspond to fundamental objectives.
The “mandate” that the Party obtained through the CA vehicle is not a mandate for completing the New Democratic revolution. While it is true that the revolutionary masses of Nepal voted for the CPN(M) out of the love and respect won in the course of the People’s War, the deferential treatment of the CPN(M) by the bourgeoisie, imperialists and India came not from having waged a People’s War but from having stopped one. Any support from the middle classes and others for the Party on this basis (having stopped the war) will not further propel the Party toward completing the revolution but act as a brake on it.
“Without A People’s Army The People Have Nothing”
The form of the state has been changed from monarchy to republic, but this does not represent the fulfilling of the New Democratic revolution. Far from it. The current state represents the perfecting of the old reactionary state, shorn of its monarchical costume, and this is true regardless of what political party sits at the top this state – this is a theme which we developed at length in our letter of March 19, 2008. This new state system is objectively the continuation and perfecting of the old state, and as such it has no choice except to enforce the old reactionary economic and social relations, and it can never be a vehicle for their destruction. Meanwhile the very structures of power that had been established during the People’s War to enforce the class interests of the masses of the people have been dismantled. Without a new state power in the hands of the masses it is impossible for society to be revolutionized: as Lenin put it, without political power all is illusion.
Nowhere is this clearer than when examining the pillar on which this state stands – the (formerly Royal now republican) Nepal Army. All of Marxism as well as contemporary social experience teaches again and again that it is the armed forces that are the central and decisive element of any state. The People’s Liberation Army, which had been the pillar of the new state that was being forged in the base areas, has been confined to cantonments and is now threatened with liquidation through the process of “integration” into the old reactionary army. Without the PLA it will be impossible to protect the transformations that have already taken place in the base areas, to say nothing of extending them throughout the whole country. We should never forget Mao’s words that, “without a People’s Army, the people have nothing”, nor the great sacrifices that were required to build up a powerful PLA in Nepal.
Any idea that the Nepal Army, even if it swallows up and digests part of the PLA, can be transformed into a People’s Army, that it will become, in essence, anything other than what it always has been, is worse than ridiculous, it is extremely dangerous. As noted earlier, the role of the Nepal Army will be to continue to enforce the dominant social and production relations that keep the masses enslaved.
Nor can we accept the argument concerning the “two sides” of the Nepal Army – that it has always been undemocratic in its defense of feudal oppression (true) but that it is has defended the interests of the nation (untrue).[ix] The fact is that the (Royal) Nepal Army has been the pillar of defending the decrepit reactionary social system, which, at least in the modern period, has been entirely dominated by the world imperialist system. To talk of “preserving the independence” of a comprador, bureaucrat capitalist state has a very restricted meaning. No fundamental national independence can come about unless and until this old system is uprooted and the whole network that keeps Nepal ensnared in the world imperialist system is broken. Doesn’t the role of the (Royal) Nepal Army in providing soldiers for UN “peacekeeping missions”, which the new government has most unfortunately pledged to maintain, show the real relationship between the reactionary army and the world imperialist system?
Time and again we have seen the inseparable link in the oppressed countries between achieving the social emancipation of the masses and waging the struggle against imperialism – and quite often communists have fallen into the error of supporting this or that reactionary state because of its alleged anti-imperialist character. We should not forget the tragic experience of the comrades of Iran giving support to the Khomeini regime because of a mistaken view of Khomeini’s “anti-imperialist aspect”.[x] Exactly because imperialism is a world system that is ever more deeply penetrating all aspects of the social and economic structure, it is impossible for meaningful social transformation to take place without a radical rupture with imperialism, and, conversely, reactionary so-called “anti-imperialist” states have a strong tendency to compromise, capitulate or collapse in the face of imperialist aggression and bullying. The achievement of genuine national independence is inseparable from the liberation of the masses and can never be obtained by a reactionary army.
No, the task of “smashing” the old state apparatus, the seizure of political power by force, has been and remains the crucial first great task of the revolution in Nepal, as in all other countries. We have not been convinced that the line of fighting for a “transitional state” has in any way hastened or facilitated the fulfillment of this task. On the contrary, the “transition” that we have seen is a transition to a more fully consolidated bourgeois order and, unfortunately, raises the danger of the transformation of the CPN(M) itself from a force that led the masses in fighting against the old order into a force for the preservation of this old order in its present Republican skin.
Part Of The Rebirth Of Revolutionary Communism Or Part Of Its Burial?
The current conjuncture of the revolution in Nepal must be seen in this context of the crossroads now facing the entire international communist movement. It is coming at a time when, thirty years after the defeat of proletarian rule in Mao’s China and after decades of relentless anti-communist assault by the imperialists and their apologists the world over, the whole international communist movement has reached a low point in the effectiveness of its struggle and, most importantly, in its ideological clarity and its resolve to fulfill its revolutionary objectives.
As it was put in a recent Manifesto from our Party,
“The temporary defeat of socialism and the end of the first stage of the communist revolution has …among other things… led to lowered sights and low dreams. Even among many people who once would have known better and would have striven higher, it has led, in the short run, to acceptance of the idea that – in reality and at least for the foreseeable future – there can be no alternative to the world as it is, under the domination of imperialism and other exploiters. That the most one can hope for and work for are some secondary adjustments within the framework of accommodation to this system. That anything else – and especially the attempt to bring about a revolutionary rupture out of the confines of this system, aiming toward a radically different, communist world – is unrealistic and is bound to bring disaster.”[xi]
The necessity and desirability of completely sweeping away capitalist exploitation and radically transforming the whole planet is greater than ever before but the possibility of such a revolutionary transformation is not seen or is denied. Complex new problems in making revolution have emerged – for example the massive trend toward urbanization in the oppressed countries – while the very conditions of capitalism and imperialism’s breakneck “triumphal” development of the last several decades has actually further prepared the ground for the victory of the proletarian revolution by furthering the great class cleavages, by tying the destinies of the masses of people in different countries even more tightly together, and by ever more clearly revealing the world capitalist system as an obstacle to the further advance of human society.
We must prepare and lead a whole wave of proletarian revolution that can show both in its vision and in its practice how it will be possible to take society to a completely different place. It is in this light that the revolution in Nepal must be seen. If it can clarify its objectives and overcome its current predicament, the revolution in Nepal will rekindle hopes in the ranks of the genuine communists and conscious revolutionary masses the world over. The People’s War fuelled the hope that, after several decades in which the imperialists and the reactionary ruling classes have controlled every country on the earth, a new state was being born where the masses of the people led by the proletariat and its vanguard communist party would hold power. The People’s War cracked open the door to see how political power in the hands of the masses could be used to thoroughly uproot the old semi-feudal and capitalist social relations and build a radically different society opposed to the world imperialist system, a beacon for the revolutionary masses in the volatile South Asian region. But the revisionism and eclecticism from the leadership of the CPN(M) is snuffing out this very hope and instead is reinforcing the message of the international bourgeoisie that there is no real alternative to the imperialist system, that the only real possibility is to improve the position of the country (or really that of its ruling class) within this imperialist system.
In this letter we will only briefly protest against the present international line of the CPN(M) leadership. It has been shown over and over again that the international orientation of a political party is not a minor matter somehow unconnected to its overall ideological and political line. Today we see the CPN(M) leadership presenting imperialist and reactionary enemies as friends and even treating some of them as “strategic allies” of the revolution. How are we to understand the many speeches and articles justifying the suppression of the masses in Tibet[xii] or worse, those extolling the “wonders” that China has accomplished under revisionist rule? And not a word[xiii] about the tens of thousands of Chinese children poisoned by the milk adulterated by the capitalists or those buried under the rubble of schools built by unscrupulous contractors.
We often hear comrades of the CPN(M) justify this or that tactic on a national or international scale in order to “make use of contradictions among the enemies”. Certainly this is a necessary and correct part of revolutionary tactics, but only if those tactics flow from the fundamental strategic interests of the proletarian revolution and if those tactics do not violate revolutionary communist principles.
New Synthesis Or Tired Old Bourgeois Democracy?
One of the great tragedies of the great right turn in the CPN(M) has been that instead of helping the revival of the communist movement internationally by showing the viability of a revolutionary communist orientation, which the People’ War objectively did in large measure, the Party’s present line and practice is only strengthening the “anti‑communist verdict” that the imperialists and reactionaries have tried to impose throughout the world, especially following the defeat in China and the collapse of the USSR.[xiv]
Now, when the first wave of proletarian revolution that began with the Paris Commune and continued through the Cultural Revolution in China has ended and a new wave of proletarian revolution has yet to break forth, questions of ideology have taken on a particular importance. Bob Avakian has stepped forward to the challenge of summing up the tremendous experience of the first wave of proletarian revolution, its grievous shortcomings as well as its heroic accomplishments, and has brought forward a New Synthesis. To quote from our party’s Manifesto, “there is an analogy to what was done by Marx at the beginning of the communist movement – establishing in the new conditions that exist, after the end of the first stage of the communist revolution, a theoretical framework for the renewed advance of that revolution. But today, and with this new synthesis, it is most emphatically not a matter of ‘back to the drawing board’, as if what is called for is throwing out both the historical experience of the communist movement and the socialist societies it brought into being and ‘the rich body of revolutionary scientific theory’ that developed through this first wave. That would represent an unscientific, and in fact a reactionary, approach. Rather, what is required – and what Avakian has undertaken – is building on all that has gone before, theoretically and practically, drawing the positive and the negative lessons from this, and raising this to a new, higher level of synthesis.”
But unfortunately, the leadership of the CPN(M) has adopted an opposite approach that accepts the unscientific anti‑communist verdicts of the international bourgeoisie and renounces the dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transition toward socialism and communism. Instead, the very old ideology of bourgeois democracy is being presented as “Communism of the twenty-first Century” and the actual communism of the twenty-first century as it is concretely emerging is being ignored, belittled or opposed.
“Emancipators Of Humanity” Or Builders Of A New Switzerland?
One of the central points that Bob Avakian has been emphasizing as part of the New Synthesis that he has been bringing forward is the crucial importance of communists seeing themselves and training the proletariat to be “emancipators of humanity”. This is far different from seeing the role of the revolution as simply improving the lot of the specific section of the masses who have supported it. Yes, the revolution must and will dramatically improve the lives of the masses of people and, in fact, capitalist development will not bring about a better life for the majority. In desperately poor Nepal the question of lifting the heavy burden of poverty is a crucial part of any revolutionary transformation.
A basic question is whether development must come by being more integrated into the capitalist and imperialist system – that is by welcoming and organizing more capitalist exploitation – or whether the socialist road is actually possible: building a viable and emancipatory social and economic system that in a fundamental sense is opposed to the world capitalist system.
This is one of the reasons we find it so strange to see the CPN(M) promising the “ten, twenty, forty” to the masses (doubling the gross national product in ten years, doubling it again in the following ten years and “reaching the level of Switzerland” within forty years). Not only would this imply a growth rate far greater than has ever been achieved before, such as in China under Mao, but it implies that the imperialists will actually help bring these developments about. In fact, repeated experience in the real world shows that wherever the imperialist system reaches, backwardness and poverty are far from eradicated, even if “bubbles” of development grow and benefit a minority of urban dwellers.
Now, bit-by-bit, it is being revealed that this transformation will be possible by becoming the “dynamic link” between India and China. So what is this really saying? It is saying that by making Nepal a functioning, “dynamic” part of the world imperialist system, somehow the country will benefit from the capitalist development of India and China and their interrelation. This dream is both impossible and reactionary. Even if the reactionary states and the imperialists were persuaded to accept this model, it would certainly be a relative handful of the wealthy in Kathmandu Valley who would be part of this “dynamic link”, while the great majority of the population would be left to rot in the countryside or in the slums. With China and India both hellholes for the masses of people in the countryside and the slums, why would the “dynamic link” between them be any different? Is this really what is in the interests of the masses in Nepal? How does this model fit with the task of promoting revolution in India, China and elsewhere?
Not only is this vision based completely on a model of vigorous uninterrupted capitalism, this goal of becoming a Switzerland is itself quite revealing. After all, what is Switzerland? It is a small highly parasitic and reactionary imperialist state that has grown very wealthy due to its particular position as a major center of banking and finance of the world imperialist system, located in the heart of imperialist Europe. Does such a goal and vision have anything to do with achieving communism? In other words, a country can only become a “Switzerland” based on achieving a privileged position in the imperialist world and sharing in the plunder of the majority of mankind. Is this really what the masses in Nepal have fought for? How does this goal help emancipate humanity?
It is ironic that at the very moment the CPN(M) leadership is seeking a development model based on the continued and uninterrupted development of imperialism, the crisis of world capitalism is exploding all around them. Capitalist China and India will also suffer as the contradictions of world capitalism catch up with it, and even the dream of a Nepalese “dynamic hub” between these two reactionary states could well explode in a puff of smoke.
It is impossible to overestimate the role a genuine proletarian revolutionary state could make in transforming the still mainly unfavorable international situation. Such a regime may not be able to set growth records for capitalist development, but it could take giant steps forward, and quickly, to solve many of the most basic problems of the masses, such as food security, employment within the country, sanitation, basic health services in the rural areas, and much more. The existence of such a state, even a small one like Nepal, would rekindle hope among the oppressed masses, especially in the region, and demonstrate that a revolutionary path is possible.
So the choice is between pursuing a path of integration into the capitalist system, which might benefit relatively small strata, or pursuing a development path based on the interests and needs of the great majority of the people in opposition to the world capitalist system. Yes, this latter, socialist, road is difficult, and there is no guarantee of how events will unfold. But we are guaranteed that a capitalist Nepal can only mean misery for the majority, and a state based on this economic system cannot help but be one more link in the web of relations that keep the world enslaved to the world imperialist system.
When we say that the dominant line of the CPN(M) leadership represents a “bourgeois” orientation, we are not hurling insults or impugning the character of the comrades. We are simply stressing what we consider to be a scientific evaluation of the incorrect line they are leading: the conception of “pure democracy” standing apart from and “above” the cleavage of society into classes corresponds to the capitalist mode of production and not to the communist outlook based on the goal of surpassing class divisions. And so we are not at all surprised that the Party leadership is now loudly proclaiming the benefits of capitalism and proposing concrete programs for the acceleration of capitalism in the country. What we have seen in the recent months is nothing other than the first “fruits” of the tree of capitalism under this line and leadership, and you can be sure that other, ever more sour fruits will be sure to follow.
Despite the claims of the CPN(M) leaders that they are aiming eventually to achieve a communist society, in truth they completely confound democracy and communism. They are themselves prisoners of their own world outlook. Furthermore, the CPN(M) leadership is falling into the age‑old revisionist error that the achievement of communism depends primarily on the further advance of the productive forces, to be achieved by capitalist ends. This is precisely the line that Mao and the revolutionaries in China fought out in the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution against Liu Shao‑chi and later Deng Xiao‑ping.
Earlier in the history of the Chinese revolution, the question was clearly posed as to whether it would be possible to build socialism in a backward country. Indeed, Mao’s whole thesis of New Democracy was based very much on showing how it was possible to do so and, of course, he then went about doing so in practice. In the course of the Cultural Revolution Mao raised the slogan “grasp revolution, promote production”, thus correctly showing that the productive forces of society could be unleashed by further revolutionary transformation – the exact opposite of the argument that many are making in Nepal now that development must come by capitalist means.
Two‑Line Struggle Or “Three Lines”?
One of the particularities of centrism and eclecticism is its refusal to make a clear‑cut demarcation between Marxism and revisionism, but instead to try to carve out a position “half‑way” between a revolutionary communist ideology and politics and outright capitulation and opportunism. In Nepal it is this form of centrist revisionism that has become the greater danger, not those who unabashedly proclaim their adhesion to the ideology of multiparty democracy and the glories of capitalism. The tired refrain is that there is the danger of revisionism or rightism “on the one hand”, but there is also the danger of “dogmatism” on the other, and that by skillfully maneuvering between these two obstacles the Party has gone from victory to victory. Or, there is the recognition‑in-words of fundamental principles, the “ABCs of Marxism”, such as the need to smash the existing state apparatus, while the Party’s actual policy goes completely contrary to this goal.
This brings us back to the argument we and other comrades have raised regarding the CPN(M)’s repudiation of the Maoist principle of “one divides into two”. The belief in the possibility and even necessity of reconciling or “fusing” together antagonist opposites has become a deeply engrained part of the CPN(M) leadership’s approach.[xv] The fusion of Marxism and reformism is really not a brilliant new contribution to the communist movement. It is just one more unfortunate and tragic case where the communist leadership has lost its bearings.
We should remind comrades that every revisionist party always has a “left” whose role objectively is to provide an outlet for the discontent of the masses and sections of the rank and file, while keeping these same sections bound to the political program of the party leadership. The point is not the lack of sincerity of those who still try to combine justification and support of the CPN(M)’s objectively capitulationist line with language upholding proletarian revolution. The problem is that such language in support of revolution becomes meaningless, a mere deception of oneself and others, unless it is combined with an all‑out struggle against the very revisionism that is threatening the advance of the revolution.
Eclecticism and centrism, especially when raised to the level of philosophical approach and principle as is the case with the CPN(M) leadership, do not represent a position that is “half correct” or somehow more correct than an openly revisionist position. On the contrary, it is a form of revisionism in which an anti-Marxist ideology and political line are allowed to flourish and are actually determining the course of political action, while better sounding words serve to cover over this reality and confuse the masses and comrades. Lenin’s words, which the Chinese comrades often referred to during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, are cruel but unfortunately right on target: “In falsifying Marxism in opportunist fashion, the substitution of eclecticism for dialectics is the easiest way of deceiving the people. It gives an illusory satisfaction; it seems to take into account all sides of the process, all trends of development, all the conflicting influences, and so forth, whereas in reality it provides no integral and revolutionary conception of the process of social development at all.”[xvi]
Yes, there is a marked tendency toward dogmatism in the ranks of RIM and the ICM more generally. But the CPN(M) “solution” is not the antidote to the dogmatic disease. A dogmatic refusal to make a “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” as Lenin referred to “the living soul of Marxism” has often gone hand-in-hand with revisionist political positions.
Rather than look to find a “middle ground” between two opposite forms of revisionism, be it the classic rightist form or sterile dogmatism, and end up incorporating the worst features of each, we propose that comrades focus their attention on what is in common between these “mirror opposite” forms of revisionism. The Manifesto recently issued by our Party points to the following common features of both forms of revisionism prevalent in the ICM as a whole:
“** Never taking up – or never engaging in any systematic way with – a scientific summation of the previous stage of the communist movement, and in particular Mao Tsetung’s path-breaking analysis concerning the danger of and basis for capitalist restoration in socialist society. Thus, while they may uphold – or may in the past have upheld – the Cultural Revolution in China, they lack any real, or profound, understanding of why this Cultural Revolution was necessary and why and with what principles and objectives Mao initiated and led this Cultural Revolution. They reduce this Cultural Revolution to, in effect, just another episode in the exercise of the dictatorship of the proletariat – or, on the other hand, reinterpret it as some kind of bourgeois‑democratic ‘anti‑bureaucracy’ movement, which in essence represents a negation of the need for a communist vanguard and its institutionalized leading role in socialist society, throughout the transition to communism.
** The common tendency to reduce ‘Maoism’ to just a prescription for waging people’s war in a Third World country, while again ignoring, or diminishing the importance of, Mao’s most important contribution to communism: his development of the theory and line of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, and all the rich analysis and scientific method that underlay and made possible the development of that theory and line.
** Positivism, pragmatism, and empiricism. While again, this may take different expressions in accordance with different particular erroneous viewpoints and approaches, what is common to them is the vulgarization and degradation of theory – reducing it to a ‘guide to practice’ only in the most narrow and immediate sense, treating theory as, in essence, a direct outgrowth of particular practice, and attempting to establish an equivalence between advanced practice (which itself, especially on these people’s part, involves an element of subjective and arbitrary evaluation) and supposedly advanced theory. A scientific communist, materialist and dialectical, viewpoint leads to the understanding that practice is the ultimate point of origin and point of verification of theory; but, in opposition to these narrow, empiricist distortions, this must be understood to mean practice in the broad sense, encompassing broad social and historical experience, and not simply the direct experience of a particular individual, group, party, or nation. The very founding, and the further development of, communist theory itself is a powerful demonstration of this: From the time of Marx, this theory has been forged and enriched by drawing from a broad array of experience, in a wide range of fields and over a broad expanse of historical development, in society and nature. Practice as the source of theory and the maxim that ‘practice is the criterion of truth’ can be, and will be, turned into a profound untruth if this is interpreted and applied in a narrow, empiricist, and subjective manner.
** Very significantly, these ‘mirror opposite’ erroneous tendencies have in common being mired in, or retreating into, models of the past, of one kind or another (even if the particular models may differ): either clinging dogmatically to the past experience of the first stage of the communist revolution – or, rather, to an incomplete, one‑sided, and ultimately erroneous understanding of that – or retreating into the whole past era of bourgeois revolution and its principles: going back to what are in essence eighteenth century theories of (bourgeois) democracy, in the guise, or in the name, of ‘twenty-first‑century communism’, in effect equating this ‘twenty-first‑century communism’ with a democracy that is supposedly ‘pure’ or ‘classless’ – a democracy which, in reality, as long as classes exist, can only mean bourgeois democracy, and bourgeois dictatorship. All this while ignoring, treating as outdated, or dismissing as dogma (or consigning to the meaningless category of the ‘ABCs of communism’, which are acknowledged as an abstraction and then put to the side as irrelevant to the practical struggle) the fundamental, scientific communist understanding, paid for literally and repeatedly in the blood of millions of the oppressed from the time of the Paris Commune, that the old, reactionary state must be smashed and dismantled and a radically new state must be brought into being, representing the revolutionary interests of the formerly exploited in transforming all of society and emancipating all of humanity, or else any gains of the revolutionary struggle will be squandered and destroyed, and the revolutionary forces decimated.”[xvii]
In Summation: Fight To Save The Revolution!
It is true that now that the Party has dug itself such a big hole it will be difficult to dig out. But however difficult this task may be, the only solution is a real radical rupture, a revolution in thinking, a determined and protracted effort to criticize and repudiate the revisionist orientation that has been increasingly dominating the Party ideologically, politically and organizationally. Anything short of such a determined effort, any attempts to maneuver and “finesse” away from the abyss without confronting the magnitude and source of the problem will not only fail to avoid the impending disaster but will actually be ideologically and politically paralyzing. “Half‑solutions” are no solution at all and, on the contrary, part of the problem.
We are not in a position to comment on what tactics or immediate steps the CPN(M) should take in the present situation. But we are convinced that if fundamental clarity is achieved on the vital questions of the state and revolution, the comrades in Nepal can find appropriate means to reverse the current path. The CPN(M) enjoys a tremendous reservoir of support from among the masses of the people of the whole country. The People’s War ignited the hopes of the long downtrodden and unleashed them. The masses of the poor peasantry, the oppressed nationalities, women and oppressed castes need the revolution to go forward and will never be satisfied by a few representatives in parliament or government. The PLA is in peril, but it has not yet fallen victim to the conspiracies to dissolve it. And despite the efforts of the Party leadership to pander to the backward ideas of the urban middle classes (especially their illusions about “pure democracy”), experience has shown that the educated youth, intellectuals and others from the middle strata can be won to the side of the revolution on a positive basis by showing how their interests can best be fulfilled not by aborting the revolution but by carrying it through to its victory. Despite the great damage of the wrong line in command of the Party, a strong objective basis remains to rescue the revolution and carry it through to the establishment of a revolutionary state led by the proletariat and its vanguard.
On the other hand, unless the Party abandons its current confusion on the nature of the state, on the class nature of dictatorship and democracy, on the confounding of the socialist road and the capitalist road, and the confusion of friends and enemies on the international scale, all efforts to rectify the present state of affairs will be in vain. It will not be possible to reduce the fever without attacking the underlying sickness that is causing it.
The main form that revisionism has been taking in Nepal – and a major problem in our Movement as a whole – has been eclecticism and centrism. While some leaders of the Party have all along expressed their support for the political system of bourgeois democracy and their belief in the necessity for the country to pass through a whole stage of capitalism, the greater problem has been those in the Party leadership who have floundered ideologically – confusing bourgeois democracy with the New Democratic dictatorship, combining two into one, confusing strategy and tactics, confounding secondary and principal aspects of a contradiction, talking one language in private and another in public, and in general saying one thing and doing another.
The problem can be overcome, but only if a radical rupture takes place with the current dominant centrism and eclectics. This means that a pressing and immediate task is the ideological reaffirmation of the basic goals of the proletarian revolution as distinct from bourgeois democracy, reaffirming the New Democratic revolution as the vehicle for achieving this in Nepal, and reaffirming the basic means to accomplish the revolution. On this basis it will be possible to sweep away the cobwebs of revisionism, eclecticism and centrism and really meet the challenges of communism of the twenty-first century. It is worthwhile recalling that one of the main focal points of the final ferocious struggle against the capitalist roaders in China was the debate over the dictatorship of the proletariat. Chang Chun-chiao, one of the main leaders of Mao’s revolutionary headquarters in the party, spoke sharply to some of the other party leaders who were not playing a good role in the struggle. He pointed out: some of you consider the study of the dictatorship of the proletariat to be a “flexible task”, but the capitalist roaders understand very clearly that it is an “inflexible task” with life and death implications for the revolution. Similarly, the current debate concerning the path forward in Nepal is no less vital.
Our comrades in Nepal are caught in a swamp and in dire danger of drowning. And what has been the reaction of RIM comrades in other countries to this emergency? While a few have tried to assist as best they can, unfortunately some others have thrown flowers to the floundering comrades when what they critically need is a strong rope to pull themselves out of the swamp. The necessary rope exists: it is nothing other than the revolutionary communist ideological and political line, its stand, viewpoint and method. It is a scientific understanding of the world and the revolutionary process, which is constantly developing as it steadfastly upholds and builds upon the achievements as well as summing up the positive and negative experiences of the first wave of proletarian revolution, incorporates discoveries and advances in every sphere of human endeavor and confronts both new problems of revolution and old problems in new forms. The current two-line struggle within the CPN(M) is taking place within the context of the greater question of whether, and on what basis, a whole new wave of world proletarian revolution can be brought forward.
The experience of the revolution in Nepal is very rich indeed, and one can see the real-life implications of political and ideological line, both positively through the ten years of People’s War and more recently negatively in the period of dismantling the people’s power. Nevertheless, the belief that the advanced practice of the Nepal revolution has made it unnecessary to learn from advanced understanding from other comrades is part of the pragmatism and empiricism that has, unfortunately, been a growing part of the CPN(M) leadership’s ideological orientation for some time now. Any effort to resolve the crisis in the CPN(M) only “on its own terms”, and on nationalist or empiricist grounds to ignore or resist the advanced revolutionary communist understanding developing elsewhere is to severely handicap the struggle for a correct line. In particular, we sincerely hope that the comrades of the CPN(M) will give serious attention to engaging with the body of work, method and approach, the New Synthesis, that Bob Avakian has been bringing forward.
We will conclude by sending our warm greetings to the leaders, cadres and fighters of the CPN(M) at this crucial crossroads of the revolution and our hopes that the crucial struggle will be carried through to a successful conclusion. The correct political and ideological line is capable of transforming the present direction of the Party and avoiding the abyss. Those who have played a revolutionary role in the past can, if armed with a correct line, cast off the baggage of eclecticism, pragmatism and centrism and retake the revolutionary road. But this will only be achieved by fighting through for the necessary radical rupture. We pledge again to do everything we can to assist you in this struggle, which will not only determine the future for Nepal but is inseparable from the crucial questions that are now facing the entire international communist movement.
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
4 November 2008
[i] See Red Star, Number 15, “Fall of Koirala Dynasty”.
[ii] A decisive turning point in this process was in October 2005 when a line struggle in the Party reached a culmination at the Central Committee meeting. One of the important subjects in that two-line struggle was whether or not the revolution must pass through the stage of anti-monarchical struggle and the establishment of a bourgeois democracy (“transitional state”). In typical eclectic fashion, this thesis was rejected theoretically by saying that such a sub-stage was not an absolute requirement but at the same time this thesis was made the guiding line for the practice of the party as a “tactic”, which opened the way to the series of agreements with the parliamentary parties and effectively made the immediate goal of the revolution the formation of a bourgeois republic.
[iii] From the Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, adopted August 28, 1973.
[iv] See Mao Tsetung on thus subject, especially “On New Democracy”, Selected Works, Vol. 2, p. 339.
[v] See Red Star, Number 16.
[vi] Karl Marx, The Civil War in France.
[vii] In our October 2005 letter speaking to the “New State” article, we argued that the ideology of classless democracy (or “pure democracy”) corresponded to capitalism where goods must be exchanged according to “equal” value and where this formal equality covers over the actual exploitation of the working class (the exchange of a “fair day’s pay” for a “fair day’s work”). See Bob Avakian’s book Democracy Can’t We Do Better than That?, as well as his polemic against K. Venu “Democracy: More Than Ever We Can and Must Do Better than That”, which appeared in the journal A World to Win, Number 17. Many of these and other writings of Bob Avakian and the RCP are available for downloading at the web address:www.revcom.us or www.bobavakian.net
[viii] Bob Avakian has done important work on the subject of democracy as well as re-envisioning the process of socialist revolu
[ix] See Red Star, Number 14, “The Essentials for Fusing Two Armies”.
[x] The comrades of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) have summed up at length the error of their predecessor organization, the Union of Iran Communists, in this regard.
[xi] Communism: the Beginning of a New Stage: A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008.
[xii] We are well aware of the fact that the US imperialists and others are making use of the reactionary nature of the Tibetan leadership, especially the Dalai Lama, to put pressure on China and manipulate the discontent of the Tibetan masses. But this does not change the fact that real national oppression exists in Tibet, nor does it justify the vicious repression by the Chinese authorities.
[xiii] Here we can only speak of the English language materials of the CPN(M). If such exposure of the true nature of capitalist China has appeared in Nepali publications we would like to have them pointed out to us.
[xiv] Although the USSR had long previously become a revisionist, social‑imperialist superpower, the fact that its leaders still referred to themselves as “communists” made the collapse of this regime and the unchallenged hegemony of the US and other “Western democracies” an occasion for further anti communist “summation” from the Western imperialists and other reactionaries.
[xv] See the argument that the CPN(M) made on this question in their reply to our October 2005 letter [...]and the criticism of this point in both our letter of March 19, 2008 [...].
[xvi] Lenin, “The State and Revolution”, Collected Works, Vol. 25, p. 405.
[xvii] We strongly encourage comrades to study Communism the Beginning of a New Stage: a Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which includes our party’s understanding of the overall situation of the international communist movement in today’s juncture and discusses the lessons of a major struggle within our own party to uphold and advance communist principles.