Revolution in South Asia

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Nepal’s Basanta: Re-evaluating Prachanda and his path

Posted by Mike E on August 31, 2012

At one point the Nepalese Maoist movement declared that their approach to politics was encapsulated in an evolving synthesis they called Prachanda Path — after their founding leader Prachanda.

In subsequent years, Prachanda became part of a political move to the right, abandoning and then disbanding the essential gainst of the revolution — the base areas, the peoples courts, the Peoples Liberation Army, and essentially the hopes of revolution itself.

As radical forces within the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) regrouped, they have had to reevaluate their party’s previous decisions.

Here is one that deals with ideas and synthesis. Basanta is the political name of Indra Mohan Sigdel. He was previously a member of the  Politburo of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). His earlier 2006 article on Prachanda Path was widely read within the international communist movement. Now he is discussing the way he believes things now stand.

International Dimensions of Prachanda’s Neo-revisionism

by Basanta

I had authored an article about 6 years before. It was entitled: “International Dimensions of Prachanda Path”.

The article, published in the 10th issue of The Worker, Party organ in English, had created debate in the international communist movement. Is Prachanda Path really a creative development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or merely a deviation from it was the question under debate at that time. Given the development of people’s war in leaps, one after another, it was also not an easy task for them to take position against it. But, most of the revolutionary parties did not assimilate it rather they opined that it resulted from the ideological deviation on the part of CPN (Maoist).

The wave of Prachanda Path, which was said to be the synthesis of the experiences of 5 year’s long stormy people’s war, had stretched all across the world. It was not unnatural too. Party had defined Prachanda Path as a series of particular ideas generated by the Nepalese revolution. I had prepared that article as our party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), comprehended it at that time. Unsurprisingly, Prachanda was happy with the article.

After 6 years now, I am writing again a short article centring on Prachanda. It is titled: “International Dimensions of Prachanda’s Neo-revisionism.” Some readers may think that Basanta is correct because Prachanda has taken a U-turn from his earlier Marxist-Leninist-Maoist position. Someone may say that to think of Prachanda, who considers Marxism as a vibrant science and applies in practice accordingly, a revisionist is the result of mechanical and dogmatic thinking on the part of Basanta and his team-mates.

Again someone may say why did Basanta and his teammates fail to identify Prachanda’s neo-revisionism in the past rather eulogized it as Prachanda path? This debate will obviously surface in the days to come. The revolutionaries will regard that Basanta is correct; but the revisionists and liquidationists will do its opposite. Naturally, this article will not make Prachanda happy this time.

Everyone is aware that an intensive and extensive two-line struggle was on between Marxism and right revisionism inside the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) mainly for the last four years. But, in the recent days, there has been a turn in this process and the revolutionaries, dissociating from the party led by Prachanda, have built up a new party. As a member of this new party, the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist, I am here with this article. We have not yet synthesized the entire experiences acquired during the tumultuous period of people’s war and the period that followed. The forthcoming Party Congress will do it. For now, we have taken only a preliminary position according to which the people’s war had definitely amassed new experiences but it was not correct at that time to synthesise them in the form of Prachanda Path. The national convention organized on June 15, 2012 summed up the strength and weakness of the revolutionaries also. It concluded that there were three kinds of ideological mistakes namely fideism, liberalism and metaphysics with them. These weaknesses were manifested mainly on the question of ideological synthesis i.e. Prachanda Path and the centralisation of leadership. On the other, the convention unanimously concluded that the appropriate terminology to denote Prachanda’s ideological and political degeneration is neo-revisionism.

The neo-revisionism noticed in Prachanda has been manifested in different form than it had in the past revisionists, who used to attack upon the basic principles of Marxism in a direct and straightforward way. Like for example, Proudhon and Lassalle opposed the scientific socialism with the arguments that the process of continued reforms and strict discipline in the bourgeois society can pave the way for capitalism to reach communism. Bernstein concluded the basic principles of Marxism like class struggle and the theory of surplus value have been outdated. Khrushchev took position against the role of violence in revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat under socialist society. Liu Shao Chi and Teng Hsiao Ping stood against the theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat put forth by Mao Tsetung. They one-sidedly emphasized upon the development of productive forces as opposed to the Maoist principle of grasp revolution and promote production. In our context, Prachanda has not made him stand yet in open against the basic concepts of Marxism as the aforesaid leaders did in the past. He has been doing it in the name of creative development of MLM.

When the situation develops to a new level, the old logics are not sufficient for the political parties to support their new position. It is true not only for the Marxists but also for the revisionists and other parties as well. Mao has said that revisionists are the reactionaries who mislead people in the guise of Marxism. So in the new situation the revisionists need to find new logics to misguide the revolutionaries. Prachanda understands it well. So he has been steadily sowing seeds of revisionism since long in the guise of creative application and development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. He has not yet directly opposed the dictatorship of the proletariat as Khrushchev did. But, the development of Marxism which he has claimed is in fact the development of revisionism. In this way, revisionism has been replacing Marxism in the party led by him. The classical and modern revisionism openly oppose the basic tenets of Marxism including the dialectical and historical materialism, theory of class struggle, role of violence in revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat etc. etc.

But, the neo-revisionism does the same in essence but in the pretext of opposing dogmatism, creative application of Marxism and the originality of revolution. To arrest the essence of Marxism in the name of its creative application and development has been the main characteristics of neo-revisionism. In this way, the features in points of Prachanda’s neo-revisionism can be cited as follows.

Prachanda has been slowly attacking upon the universality of Mao’s contributions. In the wake of party unity that took place with the Unity Centre – Masal, the UCPN (Maoist) had adopted Marxism-Leninism-Maoism/Mao Tsetung thought as its guiding principle. He argues that there is no difference as such in using two terminologies, Maoism or Mao thought, so long as they are done to mean the universality of Mao’s contributions. It is indeed his artful deceit to blur the difference between Maoism and Mao thought which respectively refer to universality and particularity of Mao’s contributions. By so doing he has been weakening the grasp of Maoism in the party and the revolutionary movement as well.

Mao has said that the struggle for production, class struggle and scientific experiment are the three sources of knowledge. In addition, he has stressed Marxism goes on developing through an infinite spiral of practice to theory and theory to practice. But quite the opposite, Prachanda claims that Marxism has become a matter of common knowledge for him. He had said in a CC meeting held about five years before. By so saying he has stood against Maoist theory of knowledge and of course Maoism itself.

Marxism believes that an entity is the unity and struggle of opposites and the struggle between them helps one transform into another. However, Prachanda has brought about a conciliatory concept of Fusion of two opposites which stands against Marxist principal. It is merely a different form of expression of ‘two combine into one’, not ‘one divides into two’. In the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Mao had strongly criticised ‘two combine into one’ as a reactionary philosophy serving bourgeois interest. Mao said ‘one divides into two’ is the law of dialectics.

Prachanda says that the world situation has undergone considerable changes and these changes necessitate the development of MLM. It is absolutely correct. But a strange, in the pretext of the development of Marxism, he has been attacking upon the basic principles of Marxism itself and in this course he has been developing revisionism. On the one hand, he presents the Federal Democratic Republic as a synonym of New Democratic Republic, and on the other, he says that in order to prevent counter-revolution in the 21st century it is necessary to develop democracy. While arriving here, it has been crystal clear that these logics were brought about to pave the way for assimilating bourgeois parliament by the party and consequently reversing revolution in the name of preventing counter-revolution. In fact, the development of democracy in the 21st century has been a tool to replace the democratic or proletarian dictatorship by the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Prachanda had put forward a concept of non-class nature of State Power and the possibility of peaceful development of revolution in Nepal in the Balaju Expanded Meeting held in 2007. He tried to justify his arguments by the fact that Nepal Army and the PLA were kept inactive in their respective barracks. Prachanda stopped saying this again after the delegates in the convention strongly opposed it. In fact, it was merely a polished form of the ‘state of the entire people’ and ‘peaceful transition’ propounded by Khrushchev. But now all these things have been transcribed in their documents in a disguised form.

Insurrection and revolution in decision and parliamentary exercise in implementation i.e. revolution in word and reform in practice has been his characteristics. In all of the meetings from Chunwang to Palungtar via Kharipati, he has been raising the question of people’s insurrection and the need to build up four bases to achieve it. However, except for misleading the revolutionaries he never put stress on building four bases to prepare for insurrection. His speciality has been not to take on preparation seriously till there is time and plead for reform at the last in the excuse that necessary preparation is not complete.

Communist revolutionaries are the followers of proletarian internationalism. At the time of preparation, initiation and continuation of the great people’s war in Nepal he used to lay much emphasis on party’s international task. But for now proletarian internationalism has become a big bone stuck at his throat. He sometimes talks of RIM and CPI (Maoist) to mislead the revolutionaries inside his party. In the document that he placed before the last expanded meeting, organised by the neo-revisionist group led by Prachanda, he has written a phrase reading, “For the development of international communist movement … … it is necessary to go ahead by maintaining relation with the revolutionary parties and groups in and outside of RIM in a planned way”. On the contrary, he has been working hard to make both imperialism and expansionism happy by rudely criticising RIM and the CPI (Maoist).

Not only that, he had sent a condolence letter along with a central committee representative to please his masters in India when Jyoti Basu, a leader of revisionist CPI (Marxist) and the ex-chief minister of West Bengal, had died. On the other, Prachanda did not dare to issue even a statement when the Indian ruling class killed comrade Azad, the spokesperson and comrade Kishenji, the politburo member, of the CPI (Maoist). In this way, not comrade Azad and comrade Kishenji, but Jyoti Basu and Manmohan Singh have become international fraternal comrades for Prachanda.

Prachanda-Baburam group has now appeared in a little different form in the context of maintaining relationship between the line and organisation. The revisionists in the past used to firstly build, in general, a reformist line and then transform the whole party organisation to fit into it. But, the speciality of this group has been to continue saying people’s insurrection as the path of revolution to mislead the masses but create such a situation in the party that there can be no insurrection at all. One of the ways they have done to serve this purpose has been to make party organisation a crowd of yes-men, anarchists and wrong elements that cannot lead revolution.

Prachanda has deviated from the basic theory of new democratic revolution. He has defined new democratic revolution in such a way that it is completed in two stages – once against feudalism and next against imperialism. In fact, it does not go along with the characteristics of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. In the course of the new democratic revolution, sometimes there is major threat upon democracy and sometimes upon national sovereignty and the form of struggle is sorted out to respond to the given threat. But it does not mean that there are two stages of revolution: one against feudalism and another against imperialism. The feudalism and imperialism are inseparably interconnected with each other and the state power in such a country simultaneously represents the interests of both of them. It is the characteristics of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. Therefore, to destroy the reactionary state power that represents the interest of both feudalism and imperialism and build a new one in its place is the first step towards making the new democratic revolution in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country. Prachanda and his clique have gone too far from this reality.

In one context he has said that the end of monarchy is a kind of completion of the new democratic revolution in Nepal. It is utterly wrong. In an interview he says, “Now it leads to a conclusion that the remaining task of new democracy (a part of which has been completed) and the strategy of socialist revolution have converged into one. The remaining task of new democracy and task of completing the socialist revolution by way of people’s insurrection and armed insurrection have converged into one strategy rather than completing new democratic revolution at one stage and socialist revolution at the other.” (Krambhanga, year 1, Vol. 2, November 2011, page 11)

Aforesaid quotation means that the new democratic revolution has been accomplished in Nepal. It does not agree with what Marxism-Leninism-Maoism says about the new democratic revolution, which is accomplished only after feudalism and imperialism both are brought to an end. Monarchy has been abolished in Nepal but it has not brought about any basic change in feudalism and the feudal mode of production as well. The agents of Indian expansionism are dominant in the state power. The national independence is in grave danger. Country is going towards Sikkimisation. Then, in such a situation, how did the new democratic revolution complete in Nepal? Does the new democratic revolution mean republic, federalism and secularism only? Has the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist people’s power been established in Nepal? Certainly not. His position that the new democratic revolution has been almost completed and the socialist revolution is the next task in hand is nothing other than a neo-revisionist fraud brought forward to confuse the people and get stuck in the bourgeois democratic republic with the blessing of imperialism and Indian expansionism. It is in fact an ugly example of betrayal against the Nepalese people and the nation on the part of Prachanda.

Mao has said that party, army and the united front are three magical weapons of revolution. He says, “A well-disciplined Party armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism, using the method of self-criticism and linked with the masses of the people, an army under the leadership of such a Party; a united front of all revolutionary classes and all revolutionary groups under the leadership of such a Party — these are the three main weapons with which we have defeated the enemy.” Mao has pointed out here at the crux of the problem by identifying the urgency of party, army and the united front to make revolution a success.
Did the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) resemble with the one that Mao has referred to in this quotation? No, not at all. How did Prachanda work ideologically and politically to loosen the grasp of revolution in the party has been mentioned before. In addition, he opened the door to bourgeoisify party by gathering a crowd of bureaucrats in the higher committees and that of the anarchists and yes-men in the lower ones. Party committees became so bulky and clumsy that neither there was an encouraging environment for discussion, criticism and self-criticism nor for practicing collectivity. It created such a situation in which the system of collective decision and individual responsibility got replaced by that of individual decision and collective responsibility.

Now, none must be confused with the fact that it was a plan designed to gradually disorient cadres from the communist system and conduct and by so doing transform the communist party into a bourgeois one. It is Prachanda’s neo-revisionist characteristic that weakened ideological grasp and bourgeoisified party by way of wrong organizational methods. Prachanda, in this manner, liquidated party’s revolutionary character from all the aspects of ideology, politics and organization.

Prachanda has made the People’s Liberation Army, Nepal that was built with the concept of “People have nothing without people’s army” surrender before the Nepal Army. He said it is integration. The people’s Liberation Army, Nepal that was organised to accomplish new democratic revolution in Nepal, exercise democratic dictatorship upon the class enemies after new democratic revolution has been accomplished and prevent counter-revolution in the whole course of building socialism has been dissolved in the name of integration. It is a counter-revolutionary step taken to please the imperialism and expansionism and heartily open the way for reconciliation with their agents. He said it was a daring step aimed at building peace in Nepal. What a ridiculous argument is this? Lying also has a limit. One can hardly find such examples of class and national capitulation and shameless treason in the history of the world communist movement.

Another important weapon for revolution is a united front formed under the leadership of a revolutionary party. What kind of forces shall be involved in the united front is decided by the principal contradiction of the then society and it is built under the leadership of a party of the proletariat by incorporating entire forces that have contradiction with the principal enemy. The party led by Prachanda had analyzed that the contradiction formed of the comprador, bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the feudal and their master Indian expansionism at one pole and the entire Nepalese people at the other is the principal contradiction in the Nepalese society. But he did not take any initiative to build a united front among the entire patriotic, republican, progressive, leftist and revolutionary forces under the leadership of the party of the proletariat against the aforesaid reactionary alliance. Contrary to it, he kneeled down before the reactions and surrendered the remaining achievement of revolution to them. What can this act be said other than naked submission to the domestic and foreign reactions?

In the beginning of the 21st century, the world proletariat had had a high regard for Prachanda as their emancipator and imperialist marauders had disdained him as their grave-diggers. It was a matter of pride and glory for the world proletariat. Now he is in a quick race to become just its opposite. It is a matter of grief for the oppressed people of Nepal and the world as well. Nevertheless, it is not the sentiment but ideological and political line and the vanguard of the proletariat that lead the toiling masses to revolution. Therefore, sooner the Prachanda’s neo-revisionism is unmasked and defeated the faster can the world proletariat re-establish MLM in the world communist movement and liberate the oppressed people from the yoke of imperialism.

The revolutionaries have no alternative to it. To weaken the ideological and political struggle against neo-revisionism is in fact to nurture it. Therefore, the urgent need of the day has been to intensify the ideological and political struggle against all shades of revisionism in general and Prachabda’s neo-revisionism in particular. And it is the supreme task of the revolutionaries now in Nepal and the world as well. Let all of us strive for this.

August 10, 2012

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4 Responses to “Nepal’s Basanta: Re-evaluating Prachanda and his path”

  1. Ka Frank said

    I agree with much of what Basanta says about Prachanda’s revisionism, but it is not a full break. Basanta does not address the decision of the CPN (Maoist) in 2007 to bring the People’s Liberation Army into the cantonments, thereby giving up the 80% of the country it had liberated, in exchange for legal status and a chance to vie for parliamentary power with bourgeois/feudal parties. Instead, Basanta writes that Prachanda “capitulated” more recently when he and Bhattarai agreed to “integrate” much of the PLA into the clutches of the Nepalese Army. In addition, Basanta criticizes Prachanda for constantly threatening insurrections without making actual preparations for one. However, any such attempt in Kathmandu and the other major cities would have been quickly crushed by the 90,000 strong Indian-backed Nepalese Army, while the unarmed PLA would have been sidelined in the cantonments under UN supervision.

    This discussion of insurrection raises the question of whether the newly formed CPN (Maoist) will focus its work in the cities and won’t decisively break with Prachanda and Bhattarai’s work in the parliamentary arena. Already, Thapa, another Politburo member of the CPN (Maoist), has said that the party will not return to building rural bases and a people’s war strategy. It is not known if he speaks for the whole leadership, but we will see. You can find the Thapa article on http://www.revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com on August 15, 2012,

  2. siahnaxalkal said

    Thanks for keeping us posted with such detailed elements Ka Frank.

  3. amanezca said

    Ka Frank: you seem to make a contradictory argument here. You are using one of the justifications for Prachanda and Bhattarai’s capitulation — the military threats from reactionary forces backed from abroad — to criticize Prachanda’s actions as wrong. In fact, if you read this article, Basanta is criticizing the overall line of Prachanda (and not drawing an arbitrary line to say “here’s when it all went to shit”). It looks to me, from afar, that a rupture is occurring with the emergence of this independent new political trend from the UCPN(M).

  4. Chinchilla said

    What is happening to this website?? dead??

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