Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Sharp polemics between Nepal’s Maoists and RCP,USA

Posted by Mike E on March 23, 2009

 NEPAL-ELECTION-VOTE-MAOIST

Kasama is publishing  three key documents of the line struggle that has intensified between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. They have been circulating within the international Maoist movement, but until today had not been made public by one of the parties involved. Now that they have been released in this way, we are free to publish them ourselves.

We have posted on the Kasama site two RCP letters (Nov. 2008 and Oct. 2005) and the single response from the CPN(M) (June 2006).

Also: Print our new Kasama pamphlet (“Two Lines, Five Letters”) with the main documents of this  line struggle. This single PDF file contains the response from the Nepali Maoists, and four criticisms  by the RCP.

2 Responses to “Sharp polemics between Nepal’s Maoists and RCP,USA”

  1. nando said

    The following is suitable for an email, letting your friends know about these important materials:

    It is no secret that Nepal’s Maoists have stirred deep controversy within the international communist movement — with their approach to strategy, tactics and communist theory.

    Now that long developing struggle over line has burst into view — in a new way.

    The RCP,USA has decided to go public with a series of letters, exchanged between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA.

    They are being made available and debated on the Kasama site (www.kasamaproject.org).

    Kasama has published three of the letters in full online: Kasama has also made availabe a combined printable document containing the single letter from the Nepali Maoists, and seven pieces by the RCP (published by the RCP on March 23).

    we urge all revolutionaries to dig into this important line struggle which touches on many of the most crucial problems and controversies confronting communist revolution everywhere.

    Here are some of the relevant links:
    1) Kasama site:
    http://www.kasamaproject.org

    2) RCP letter from Nov. 2008
    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/rcp-critique-of-the-communist-party-of-nepal-maoist-nov-2008/

    3) RCP letter Oct. 2005
    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/rcp-critique-of-the-communist-party-of-nepal-maoist-oct-2005/

    4) the response from the CPN(M) (June 2006).
    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/communist-party-of-nepal-maoists-responds-to-rcp-critique-june-2006/

    5) Discussion on these documents is being held here:
    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/discussion-thread-the-controversy-over-nepals-maoist-revolution/#comments

    6) The pdf combining eight documents of this line struggle

    Click to access letters.pdf

  2. Stefandav said

    I continue to set the scene for future reporting from Kathmandu. The initial section of this prologue essentially reviewed the nature and extent of prior blog entries on the Maoist revolution in Nepal and anticipated further orientation in subsequent prologue sections. In short, my interest in the Nepalese revolution deepened about four years ago, at which time I was concerned with the child-soldier issue and was also studying the early influence of anarchism on the Chinese in Paris who subsequently formed the Chinese communist party. I have in fact been based in China for almost 7 years, and about the same period of time before that in Central Asia, mainly Kazakhstan. At present I am transitioning out from Beijing and will go to Nepal, not knowing whether I will find grounds to follow my practice living there or not. It will be my second journey to Nepal, the last in early 2006 for a few weeks.

    Thus it is that it has been just a few years that I have become a student of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism – and this primarily as a student of theory and one who has found a small scope of practice in “internet activism”. There are two main elements in this practice: one has been to provide coverage and discussion of the evolving situation in Nepal, the other has been sharing my interest in the theories of the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou. Obviously I see some take on the practice of MLM in Nepal from the position of Badiou thought. I also follow closely discussion of the Nepal Maoist revolution by communist writers, most notable and active discussion has been taking place at the Kasama project. It was anticipated that I would begin to address that in this section of the prologue now, following an earlier section wherein I reviewed the decidedly non-communist evaluation and recommendations of the well known International Crisis Group.

    The complex analysis of the theoretical and practical element in the Nepal Maoist’s struggles by Mike Ely and the group of contributors at the Kasama project has been very interesting for me. I don’t really have the deep knowledge of MLM to participate, but I certainly grok the spirit of the inquiry at the Kasama site inasmuch as it seems to invite an open and diverse set of opinions with the emphasis being “let’s find out what’s true together”. I have commented a little on Mike Ely’s writing on Alain Badiou, but he has not gone into it much other than to indicate an interest and appreciation of Badiou for further study. As I say, I mainly look to follow what is being discussed about Nepal. I can’t help but be aware that Mike Ely leads a split from the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA.. but frankly I haven’t had too much interest in commie vs commie party battles. I am a bit more into the continental communist philosophy debates such as the distinctions between Badiou and Deleuze – and of course the very recent Birkbeck conference where all the players were – Badiou, Zizek, Peter Hallward, Negri, Toscano, Bosteels et al. However, just in the last week I began to hear about and read that the RCPUSA has initiated a public polemic asserting the revisionism of the Nepal Maoists. The issue is also being taken up by the folks at Kasama. Practically at the same time the RCPUSA has issued a draft of a polemic stating Badiou’s influence is a danger to world communism because he is essentially a throwback to Rousseau.

    I will focus in the balance of this post on the latter RCP letters to the Maoists. A subsequent post will take up the Kasama discussion referencing the Maoist response as it provides a much deeper analysis of the issues beyond the rather simple refutation of the RCP polemic against the Nepal Maoist party. Later. in another post, I will address the Badiou polemic to similar effect.

    The Kasama website provides the following link to a PDF of the RCP document: Two Lines Over Maoist Revolution in Nepal:

    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/discussion-thread-the-controversy-over-nepals-maoist-revolution/.

    There are several letters involved, only one of which was a response to the RCP by CPN (M) in 2006. The final letter early this year by the RCP is a public declaration against the Maoists. Then also the letter subsequent to the Maoist response. I will excerpt some major points from these first as they summarizes the series of letters and provide their critique of the Maoist response – later I will take up on the Maoist response letter itself, then finally outline the views from the Kasama project. Conclusion from the January 29 RCP letter to the Maoists:

    “We are forced to conclude that this policy of keeping
    our struggle internal is no longer appropriate under
    the present circumstances. When the party leadership
    has shown no interest in pursuing struggle over cardinal
    questions of ideological and political line and where
    the leading line and policies of the party itself are accelerating
    in the wrong direction, to keep silent would
    objectively represent acquiescence in this very path.
    On the contrary, the circumstances require a vigorous
    public discussion of the central ideological and political
    questions involved.
    We do not take this decision with joy of heart but
    rather out of the deepest concern for the future of the
    revolution in Nepal and its implications for the proletarian
    revolutionary struggle internationally.
    Just as we had decided that it is now correct to
    take this course of action, an article written by Roshan
    Kisson appeared in your English language journal Red
    Star (#21) in which there is an open repudiation of the
    whole of Marxism, beginning with Marx himself, an
    open rejection of the whole experience of the proletarian
    revolution up to this point, and an open proclamation
    that the revolution in Nepal can do no more than
    build a modern capitalist state, leaving the question of
    the struggle for socialism and communism to future
    generations.
    As part of the anti-communist diatribe in Red Star
    #21, Kisson launches a vicious and unprincipled attack
    and personal slander on the leader of our party,
    Chairman Bob Avakian, which is reprehensible and
    unacceptable. We strongly protest the completely anticommunist
    content of this article. To publish such an
    article in a journal that is seen all over the world as a
    vehicle for dissemination of your line and views constitutes
    promoting views that are completely in opposition
    to the goals and methods of communists that should
    be upheld by the international communist movement.
    We will proceed with publishing the three major
    letters mentioned above along with the only response
    we have received from you, unless we hear from you
    by February 15, 2009 with a compelling reason for not
    doing so.”

    Now from the RCP letter of November 2008:

    “.. 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”.

    Then later:

    “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.”

    then:

    “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.”

    After this the letter makes a nice presentation of how government of a truly new democratic republic should function and goes on to contrast the performance in Nepal of the Maoist led government with this standard:

    “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? 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.”

    The above is clearly something a “true communist” as they say would uphold. Yea, I like it, but it is not quite clear that the Maoist think otherwise.. in fact the RCP goes on to say the issue is still actually in question:

    “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.”

    Some pages follow with some doctrine and history we can all appreciate. Again the implication not really substantiated is that somehow it is clearly the case that the Maoists in Nepal are following a contrary line.. if they are, then in still awaits in the rest of the letter to show that it is so. Next we see, the RCP has not exactly been correct is its prognostications regarding the Nepal Maoists:

    “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.”

    Oh, never mind.. it did not really mean anything:

    “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.”

    The RCP then develops the polemic with the prime example (which at this point as then remains an assumption) that the Maoist plan of integration of the NA and the PLA will result in essentially a reactionary 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.”

    Is this prognosis showing itself to be true? On the contrary, recent news has been centered on the Maoist moves outmaneuvering the reactionary parties by removing the top eight generals of the NA. The letter then goes on to admonish the Maoists for failing to see that the imperative at this point is to smash the state not to participate in its clearly bourgeois democracy. Again, however, current events see the Maoists issuing warning to the other parties against subterfuge, clearly putting forth the probability of renewed revolutionary violence and already establishing plans to develop the capacity of the masses to engage in armed resistance to Indian aggression.

    The rest of the letter offers us the alternative to the supposed revisionist Nepal Maoist line – namely Bob’s Communism:

    “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.”

    Those pesky Nepal Maoists however just seem to think and keep demonstrating they just may have their own working and workable tactics to reach the new democracy, a novel development in the communist hypothesis. They gave the RCP only one concise letter of reply and otherwise seem to be failing to appropriately respond to the RCP with its “actual communism of the twenty-first century”:

    “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.”

    The next section is a criticism of the fact that the Maoists are studying the economic model of Switzerland. The implication is that this means the intention is to foster capitalist exploitation:

    “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 use of the study of Switzerland gets considerable play in the Kasama discussion outlined later. The exposition of the evils of China and others who allowed capitalism to consume the revolution is interesting, but in fact there is nothing to prove the Maoists actually intend to foster exploitation, only that they intend to participate in a period of capitalist development. This not a revision of Maoism, in fact it follows the line of Mao himself as can be seen here: http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/mao-from-his-period-of-negotiations/ The RCP however concludes the straw man attack with the wrong information about Mao’s complete repudiation of capitalist methods for advancing productive forces:

    “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.”

    There is no evidence that the Maoists are following the line of Deng Xiao-ping nor can it be said their planning is a revision of Mao’s own policy of engaging capitalist modes of production under constraints preventing exploitation. Yes there is the danger of revisionism, but there is no evidence that this is the intention. The whole continuation of the RCP polemic vs the eclecticism
    and centrism is rooted in the assumption that any engagement of capitalist modes is doomed:

    “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.”

    Reactionary forces are indeed involved in the state apparatus, in the UML and NC factions especially and in their influence in the National Army and the Supreme Court. Just because the Maoists have chosen to allow this as a tactical measure does not make them reactionary. Indeed even a cursory examination of the news shows the Maoists are clearly stating that if the reactionaries impede the decisions of the government under Maoist leadership they will indeed smash the apparatus. The point is this need not occur unless in fact exploitation cannot be eradicated and prevented following the present line. The fact is we don’t know yet.

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