Print Edition - 2014-05-04  |  Free the Words

Communist collapse

  • Issues & analysis
- Jainendra Jeevan, Kathmandu

May 3, 2014-

The UML and Maoists have both diluted, or virtually abandoned, their revolutionary ideology


There was no uniform path from Communism to post-Communism. Communist parties changed over time...All, sooner or later, diluted or even abandoned their revolutionary ideology." So concludes Prof Archie Brown, one of the most respected political scientists on communism and 'Sovietology' in The Rise and Fall of Communism.

In his extensive work, Brown brilliantly analyses both the dynamics of rise and the underlying causes of the fall of global communism. He also mentions, albeit briefly, the success of Nepali Maoists (p.603, 604), who reached their height during the early years of the post-2006 peace era. However, their letdown has yet to be updated as his book went to print in 2008, which was before the Maoists' power, position and popularity started to take a downhill turn. Although Prof Brown's analysis and argument with regard to the rise and fall of communists elsewhere hold largely true in case of Nepali communists as well, some aspects remain unique and unmatched in history owing to Nepal's unique societal and geopolitical conditions.


The UML route

Barring a few, Nepali communists also have either "diluted or even abandoned their revolutionary ideology". The largest communist party, the CPN-UML, has long adopted 'people's multi-party democracy' as its official political line. Though it has not officially dumped Marxism or Communism and still maintains that they are its guiding principles and ultimate goal, the party has, in practice, given up many of the contents and characteristics of Leninism, Marxism and, moreover, Stalinism. The party now believes in a mixed economy with three pillars—the private sector, the state and cooperatives. It has renounced violence as a legitimate means of the proletariat's struggle against the 'oppressor' class and hence, criticises the Maoists. In fact, the UML no longer believes in class conflict. Its rivalry with the Nepali Congress (NC), a centrist party that believes in liberal democracy, is limited to contesting elections for power, rather than waging ideological warfare.

The UML has come a long way from its misguided violent past when one of its predecessor wings used to behead landlords in the district of Jhapa, branding them 'class enemies'. It has also qualitatively upgraded its ways and standards of street protests and parliamentary opposition tactics, which used to be harsh and even nasty during the early 1990s. With regard to the party's perception of, and relationship with, India—the powerful Big Brother in the realpolitik of this country—their one time antagonism, a common and traditional feature of most leftist parties in this country, has, during last couple of decades, changed to gratification. Even symbols signifying radicalism have been removed. A clenched fist raised high—the revolutionary way of greeting—has been replaced by a mild and sweet Namaskar—a traditional way of greeting long ensconced in our culture and religion. The party has also discontinued the practice of displaying photos of revered communist authorities like Marx, Engels and Lenin. It now hangs, on all occasions and walls in the Party Office, the photos of three home-grown communist leaders—Pushpa Lal, ManMohan Adhikari and Madan Bhandari—all moderate communists.

The Maoist fall

Though the UML's transformation has been better defined and time tested one, the UCPN (Maoist), the second largest communist party too has 'diluted', if not virtually abandoned its 'revolutionary ideology', the way the former has done. After launching a bloody insurgency for over a decade vowing to establish a one-party communist rule, not only did they join peaceful, mainstream politics (which they once rejected 'bourgeois') and give up arms but their Seventh General Convention, held some 15 months back, even decided to adopt a 'capitalistic people's revolution', based on maximisation of production, as its new political course. Although the UCPN (Maoists) has time and again threatened, and even attempted, either to dishonour or backtrack from its commitment to peace and democracy, the party has now reached the proverbial point from where a return to rebellion is not possible.

Mainly owing to its ideological 'dilution', the party also suffered a vertical split. A powerful breakaway group formed a new party—the CPN-Maoist—two years ago. It accuses the UCPN (Maoist) of revisionism—jargon used by one communist party against another to define and denounce change in, or termination of, the communist philosophy. While the CPN-Maoist and a few other petty hardline Maoist parties that vow to fight for a communist state, boycotted the Novem-ber polls, they are still not ready for a fresh rebellion. They fear that, though politically correct, the time is not ripe for a rebellion. Other smaller communist parties, dozen odd in number, including the Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, which believes in the 'purest form of communism', are already actively engaged in the democratic political system of the country, however poorly functioning it might be.

Wrong side of history

Communist systems, all over the world, failed and collapsed of their own accord. Mainly because of its inherent lack of incentives to produce and invent, communism, unlike capitalism, could not produce enough to meet the requirements of its people, much less the poor people it so proudly claimed to champion. Shortage of goods and services also aroused the dormant aspirations of the people for political reform. China and Vietnam, therefore, cleverly adopted capitalistic economic systems to achieve speedy development and thus, were

able to save their 'one-party (not so) communist' systems. Or at least, grant legitimacy to their regimes. Other nations, including the former Soviet Union, that could not follow suit, suffered a great deal of political, ethnic and separatist turmoil. If a doctrine conceived and furthered by none

other than Marx and Lenin and executed by iron men like Stalin and Mao could not stand the test of time,

how then can it succeed in Nepal under the leadership of Prachanda or Mohan Baidya, leaders best known for their double talk and dogmatism respectively.

People now know very well that Prachanda, UCPN (Maoist) supremo, cannot fight a war despite his threats to unite with the CPN-Maoist to launch a rebellion—a trick he is repeating even in the ongoing national

convention of the party in Biratnagar. As for the CPN-Maoist, they had

better change their political line of 'people's rebellion based on people's war', founded on the pillars of violence, fear, psychosis and repression. Such an insurgency, if and when restarted, will only meet a fate similar to rebellions in the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Peru during the last 50 years.

If either of the Maoists is still under the illusion that the brutal insurgency of 1996-2006 was powerful or popular, they had best recall their poor performance (including the people's poor response to the Baidya Maoists' call for a November poll boycott) in the last elections. Whatever limited success they scored through the rebellion, including their success in power politics, was a result of the foolishness of successive monarchs and the NC leadership, India's manipulation and the poverty and ignorance of common people combined. Except poverty, which has lessened in rural areas--the insurgent's stronghold—thanks to remittance, none of those favourable conditions exist anymore. History, therefore, is not going to repeat itself. Wise up comrades, time simply is not on your side.

Published: 04-05-2014 10:06

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