Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Hisila Yami on the Dialectics of Struggle in Nepal and India

Posted by Ka Frank on January 22, 2010

This OpEd piece appeared in The Kathmandu Post on January 16, 2010.

Regional dialectics

Hisila Yami [Yami is a member of the Polit Bureau of the UCPN (Maoist)]

It is often observed that not only children but even adults are taught that this world is simple, straightforward and sunny. However, often it is complex, topsy-turvy and murky. The first tendency makes one project positivity and the second negativity on the world. The truth is that both exist side by side. It is by fighting against the negative tendencies that one moves ahead and gains positive results. In short, contradiction is behind all the movements, thus making it the salt of dialectics.

In Nepali politics, there seem to be wrangling between new and old systems, between visionary leaders and power hungry leaders. Those who are fighting for new system are struggling to gain power, maturity and credibility at both national and international level. And those who want to stick to old system are similarly trying hard to retain power, credibility, and reliability at both national and international level. Similarly, those leaders who have power do not seem to have vision. They are using power as an end. And those leaders who have the vision do not have power to translate their vision into action. This is seen in almost all the political parties in Nepal.

At the world level, this tendency persists in different ways. Generally the developed countries are seen to be so consumer-oriented that they seem to lose political vision. The leaders from developed countries tend to find technical solutions to political problems in the Third World countries by bombing here and there and by erecting military bases. In the process, they are alienating themselves more and more from the Third World countries.

And the Third World countries are much too laden with politics because they lack power and they lack stable system to translate their vision into practice. They sound more and more strident against the First World for not giving them the freedom to solve their own problems with the consequence that they are distancing themselves from the developed countries.

At the micro level, it is important to understand the psychology of poor people. They have to face adversities at every step, hence are rebellious, militant and ruthless by nature. Their natural tendency is to be ultra leftist. The rich people, because of their abundance of comforts which are inversely proportional to the work they perform, are reluctant to change. Their natural tendency is ultra-rightist. In the end, too many changes too soon is as bad as too much stability for too long. Between the dialectics of change and stability, it is the change which should lead the period of stability, preparing the base for higher level of changes.

It is also important to know the dialectics between whole and part, particularly when Nepal is going to transform into a federal state from a unitary state. The whole should lead the parts. It is important that those fighting for autonomous regions on the ground of nationality keep the unity of the whole country in perspective while carving out their autonomous regions. It is equally important that the central government respect the aspirations of people of all nationalities for autonomous states. However, what is even more important is that the centre, at least in the beginning, be strong enough to be able to keep together all the autonomous states democratically.

There is also contradiction between big and powerful countries and small and powerless countries. Small and powerless countries always feel dwarfed by the big and powerful countries. The big and the powerful countries tend to assume they have answers to all the problems of small and powerless countries. It is important to note that in the globalised world, all countries are becoming more and more interdependent, both in positive and negative aspects, irrespective of their sizes and international clout.

At this juncture, it might be worthwhile to understand the dynamics of Indian politics as it has overwhelming effect in Nepal.

India is full of contradictions; along with countless challenges it has many opportunities as well which enables it to lead the region. It has all the geographical features: hills, mountains, Himalayas, flat plain, seas, rivers, desert, which present myriad possibilities and as many challenges. Politically, it has all sorts of movements: The Dalit movement spearheaded by Mayawati, the regional movement in the North East, the separatist movement in Kashmir, the religious Hindu movement spearheaded by Bharatiya Janta Party, the revolutionary class movement led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the reformist communist movement under Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the comprador bourgeois movement of Indian Congress Party. 

Alongside these big-scale political movements, there are innumerable smaller movements led by environmentalists, women activists, green peace activists, social activists, educationists, scientists, anarchists, etc often complimenting and contradicting the mainstream movements.

There is also contradiction between the centre and federal states and among federal states when it comes to power sharing. There are newly assertive nationalities fighting for statehood. In the economic field, India has remnants of tribal economy, feudal economy, capitalist economy to the monopoly capitalist economy within various states. There is a big gap between haves and haves-not. In the cultural realm, you have various forms of matriarchal and patriarchal systems. It has almost all the religions present in the world. Linguistically, the whole country is divided into Hindi speaking North and non-Hindi speaking South. Even the countries surrounding it have different political systems. 

In the North, it has tightly guarded border with unitary communist state of China. It has open border with Nepali state which is a nascent republic and monarchical Bhutan. In the West, it has the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, almost in a state of war. In the East it has Bangladesh, another Islamic state and Burma, a military state. And in the South it has the president-ruled Sri Lanka which has recently emerged from a civil war.

India is competing with China for global economic supremacy, but at the same time it is also facing all-encompassing movement of CPI (Maoist) which is gradually spreading all over India.

You need a bit of everything in politics, but ultimately it is the scientific vision and ideology which should lead all these tendencies. India has bits of everything; the challenge is to lead it, both nationally and in the international arena, with scientific vision. Nepal-India ties must also be seen in the context of the regional dialectics. There are bound to be ebbs and flows in the relationship. The two countries, being part of this globalised world, must learn to co-exit with each other meaningfully.

10 Responses to “Hisila Yami on the Dialectics of Struggle in Nepal and India”

  1. NSPF said

    Is this for real? Because if it is, then it indicates a very significant development.

    c. Hisila had gone so far, before, as calling for the disbandment of youth wing of the party, but never before so far as calling the poor “ultra left” and “ruthless by nature”. This is outright reactionary. I feel extreemely sad to see a comrade stooping so low. It is one thing to have major political differences with someone and its alltogether another thing to see them ideologically that far apart.

    But. But this piece is far more significant politically, I think, than it might seem at first glance.

    Right in the middle of a campaign by her Party targetting Indian expansionism she comes up with this piece; what is she trying to say?

    Why is she calling out on people without vision who have power and those with vison who have no power? and why so broad and all encompassing? Does that include her Party as well?

    She is also putting forward a very sobering – at least for some – vision of a multiparty democracy.

    The only fault she mentions, and I would surmise the main problem of Nepal she identifies as that of a handful of leaders who have no vision but clinging to power.

    I am definitly going to give it a closer look.
    What a shame.

  2. Arthur said

    At the micro level, it is important to understand the psychology of poor people. They have to face adversities at every step, hence are rebellious, militant and ruthless by nature. Their natural tendency is to be ultra leftist. The rich people, because of their abundance of comforts which are inversely proportional to the work they perform, are reluctant to change. Their natural tendency is ultra-rightist. In the end, too many changes too soon is as bad as too much stability for too long. Between the dialectics of change and stability, it is the change which should lead the period of stability, preparing the base for higher level of changes.

    That is a clear and concise explanation of the core world outlook of revolutionary communism.

    Naturally it seems utterly alien to those with a completely different world outlook…

  3. NSPF said

    I will readily concede that I am totally alien to the world outlook contained in the paragraph quoted above. My world outlook is derived from Mao’s famous report on the peasant movements.

    Everything in the above paragraph is alien to me; the categories, the sentiment, the political thrust, the real and intended audience …..

    For a piece that claims to be looking at things and processes scientifically and talking about dialectics it is amazing to see how it could be possible to miss the essence of things so completely.

    Then again, she is far too smarter to claim that this is a theoretical document expounding her scientific views. It is a thinly disguised political document aimed at the powers that be, telling them we are the only ones who can control the situation. It is easily noticible in her previously posted interview as well.

  4. Ka Frank said

    I agree with NSPF. Yami is one of the most openly reformist leaders of the UCPN (Maoist), going far beyond what her husband, Baburam Bhattarai, is saying in public. Read over two articles by her and make your own conclusion.

    “That Was a Good Show”, OpEd commentary by Hisila Yami, eKantipur.com, Nov. 16, 2009

    “‘We Still Fight, But With Words, No Longer With Guns’”, interview in Tehelka Magazine (India), Aug. 1, 2009

    Both can be found on the Nepal page of http://www.bannedthought.net

  5. Arthur said

    NSPF, the article clearly explains why it is the “rebellious, militant and ruthless” poor who are the forces for change and why change, not stability has the leading role and produces its own new stability as a base for further change.

    That expresses the dividing line between revolutionary communism and the sterile pseudoleftism that passes for it in Western countries and has no actual connection with class struggle.

    This outlook is alien to people who view the poor as “victims” to be delivered by “saviours from on high” rather than as rebellious, militant and ruthless actors who make history themselves. Perhaps so alien that it can only be misunderstood as an offer to “control the situation” rather than an explanation of why only the party known as the “ultraleft” in Nepal can lead the changes that everyone in Nepal except the ultraright accepts as necessary.

    Both the interview and the OpEd cited by Ka Frank are also excellent examples of her style, which contrasts so vividly with the sterility of pseudoleft material in developed countries. Those who describe the Maoist line in Nepal as “revisionist” will naturally find her exceptionally irritating since she is indeed an exceptionally coherent exponent of that line.

  6. //At the micro level, it is important to understand the psychology of poor people. They have to face adversities at every step, hence are rebellious, militant and ruthless by nature. Their natural tendency is to be ultra leftist. The rich people, because of their abundance of comforts which are inversely proportional to the work they perform, are reluctant to change. Their natural tendency is ultra-rightist. In the end, too many changes too soon is as bad as too much stability for too long. Between the dialectics of change and stability, it is the change which should lead the period of stability, preparing the base for higher level of changes.//

    I fail to see anything wrong whatsoever with this statement. I’d defend it beyond that but I really just don’t see what could be possibly seen as either reactionary or revisionist here. It’s a simple statement of facts.

  7. nando said

    I think that statement is a call for “two into one” — and for a politics that contains the people.

    The natural tendency of the oppressed is not to be “ultraleftist” — in fact, to be revolutionary is to ruptuire from business as usual even for the oppressed and what is “natural” (spontaneous) within the status quo is the politics of minor changes and accomodation (again even among the oppressed).

    The argument that “too many changes too soon is as bad as too much stability for too long” is wrong — even ridiculous — from a communist point of view.

    This seems like an argument for muzzling and controlling the “natural” rebelliousness of the oppressed. Is that really correct or revolutionary?

    Mao talked about “without going to extremes wrongs cannot be righted.”

  8. Arthur said

    It is by fighting against the negative tendencies that one moves ahead and gains positive results.

    It would be difficult to refute the “two into one” consensus politics advocated by the other parties more clearly and succinctly.

    Hsila Yami writing in Kantipur is obviously using the term “ultraleft” as understood by readers of that paper, ie as the general accepted description of the Maoist party. She is not discussing the problem of “ultraleftism” as understood among communists (Kantipur would not be a useful forum for such discussion).

    In the end, too many changes too soon is as bad as too much stability for too long.

    For a propaganda sect never trying to lead the masses in actually changing anything that may sound “ridiculous” since all such sects ever do is denounce the lack of change from the sidelines. But it is the living heart of both the strategic and tactical policy decisions of any party actually leading a revolutionary struggle.

    This is well illustrated in the passage on the dialectics between whole and part in the transformation of Nepal from a unitary into a federal state:

    The whole should lead the parts. It is important that those fighting for autonomous regions on the ground of nationality keep the unity of the whole country in perspective while carving out their autonomous regions. It is equally important that the central government respect the aspirations of people of all nationalities for autonomous states. However, what is even more important is that the centre, at least in the beginning, be strong enough to be able to keep together all the autonomous states democratically.

    In leading ALL the nationalities to establish autonomous republics the Maoists are the only force that can prevent disintegration into communalist and ethnic squabbles. This is a serious tactic of the counter-revolution in Nepal, shifting from claiming to “preserve stability” with the fatalist idea that things will remain eternally the same, to derailing actual change by demanding either more changes than are actually needed or sooner than they can actually be done. Eg landlords stirring up fights between Madheshis, Tharus and people from the hills in the Terai with impossible demands against each other instead of uniting them against the landlords. There are also some other serious problems eg pitting people fighting for rights of Limbu and Kiranti minorities in the eastern hills against each other with inconsistent claims for “historic” instead of demographic demarcation of provincial boundaries.

    This kind of “left in form but right in essence” politics was central to derailing the cultural revolution in China and replacing the revolutionary left with a pseudoleft in the west. A large part of Mao and the “gang of four”‘s efforts were devoted (unsuccessfully) to fighting such tendencies, while those promoting them now write memoirs about how hostile they were to the people all along.

    Of course the Maoist party aims to “muzzle” and control that kind of “natural” rebelliousness. How else could the non-sponantaneous revolutionary rebelliousness be mobilised against the real class enemies?

  9. NSPF said

    “The article clearly explains why it is the “rebellious, militant and ruthless” poor who are the forces for change and why change, not stability has the leading role and produces its own new stability as a base for further change.”

    Now, granted, c. Hisila’s article talks about change, the agency of change, and what needs to be changed. Arthur only mentions the first two and tries to rob it in, so as to make sure everyone gets it. We get it alright. We just don’t agree.

    “Change” is a deceptive word. It is deceptive because it is so vague that even Gyanendra would agree with it, not to mention all the other reactionaries, expansionists and imperialist.

    In fact “change” has been the buzz word all around the world for quite some time. We all know what was the key word in 2008 US election.
    Hell, even Ahmadinejad in Iran was talking about change during the election. And he even talked about “change” benefiting the poor and the needy and was scolding the rich fat cats and in the most demagogic sense of the word, he repeatedly said “ I am the servant of the downtrodden.” He had the most reactionary neo con economic policies in mind and would not blush to claim it was to the benefit of the poor.

    Having been tried and tested in US of A(ll tricks), the word, “change” went viral all around the world among the rulers.

    When the status quo becomes so intolerable for large sections of population to the point where there is a danger of major upheavals that could culminate into a movement for real change, then even a majority of the rulers talk about the necessity of change.

    This is exactly when the question, “do you want change or not?” loses any intelligible meaning, precisely because nearly everyone would answer YES. It is undeniable; even Arthur wants change. But what change does he exactly want?

    What change exactly are we talking about? This is the question that has to be asked.

  10. NSPF said

    On the agency of change:

    “Of course the Maoist party aims to “muzzle” and control that kind of “natural” rebelliousness. How else could the non-sponantaneous revolutionary rebelliousness be mobilised against the real class enemies?”

    Arthur’s bets are heavily stacked on our ignorance of past and present historical context of Nepal. That is why instead of talking about the Nepalese context directly, he detours into selective Chinese history and projects that onto our mind as the context of Hisila’s article. That is why he avoids directly defending Hisila’s call to disband the YCL.

    In comment #1 I wrote: “c. Hisila had gone so far, before, as calling for the disbandment of youth wing of the party, but never before so far as calling the poor “ultra left” and “ruthless by nature”. This is outright reactionary.”

    It is possible to look at this article from a philosophical angle and arrive at Nando’s conclusions and more. I avoided it because I thought and still think it’s immediate political aims were of much more urgent importance.

    Contrary to some assertions, Nepal’s past sixty-year history is full of (mostly armed) ferocious peasant rebellions and ruthless suppression. In every decade since the forties there were at least one major rebellion. There were betrayals and ruthless suppression, but the downtrodden never gave in for long. Because of their intolerable life condition they rose up again and again. No other country comes to mind in matching Nepal for persistent rebelliousness.*

    And Hisila is addressing and alluding to this history in a negative light by calling the peasantry of Nepal “ultra leftist” and “ruthless by nature“ and immediately alluding that this is too much. If she couldn’t stomach the relatively mild manners of YCL, of course she would view the peasantry as “ruthless” and “ultra leftist“.

    c. Hisila wants a dinner party where both sides of the divide reach consensus on each giving in a little. Such a fantasy will never come true. May be this is also part of the transitional demands??

    The initiation and rapid development of the people’s war in 96 proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the vanguard was not only lagging behind the objective conditions, but also subjectively lagging behind the masses too.

    To be continued.
    ——————————-

    *) Some people have concluded that the parliamentary eposode prior to the initiation of the people’s war was a preparatory step. This is factually wrong on two accounts: the actual history of Nepalese people and the party, and also the party documents immediately prior to the initiation.

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