Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

U.S. Left Group Accuses Nepali Maoists of “Revisionism”

Posted by Mike E on April 22, 2010

As revolutionary forces in Nepal are mobilizing for possible confrontations on May First,  and as efforts are made in the U.S. to build supprt for this revolution, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has published the following anonymous  polemic aimed at the UCPN(Maoist) leadership. The RCP is a small post-Maoist group in the U.S.

This new RCP polemic closely follows their critical “challenge” of writer Arundhati Roy — as she was being targeted by reactionaries and authorities for her support of Maoist revolutionaries in India.

Though this is a purely textual critique of  a 4-month old Nepali document, the RCP chose not to also publish the Nepali document they are denouncing. In fact they did not  provide any link to that  document or even quote any passages. This naturally makes  it difficult for their readers to compare and contrast. And it departs from the RCP’s own previous long-standing principle of publishing both sides during confrontations over ideology and policy.

For readers wanting to study the Nepali leadership document,  Kasama has made it available here.

On the Critical Crossroads in the Nepal Revolution, and the Urgent Need for a Real Rupture with Revisionism

Observations by a Supporter of that Revolution
From a Communist Internationalist Perspective

In studying important sections of a recent Resolution of the Central Committee of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)—UCPN(M)* -I was struck by the argument in this CC Resolution that, in the particular circumstances of Nepal, where the current political and governmental process, including the writing of a new Constitution, have resulted from the people’s war and the mass movement against the monarchy that was led by the UCPN(M), this process is now favorable to the UCPN(M) and the revolution, and is unfavorable to the reactionaries. In fact this document (CC Resolution) goes so far as to argue that the reactionaries cannot achieve their objectives through this process while (it seems this Resolution is saying) the UCPN(M) and the revolutionary forces can do so.

Thus—to give this argument its “very best” interpretation—by persevering in this process, and further establishing itself as the most consistent representative and fighter for a Constitution that embodies the interests of the people (and supposedly the content of the new-democratic revolution), as well as for civilian supremacy over the military and for national sovereignty, the UCPN(M) will be able to outmaneuver the reactionaries, including the reactionary forces at the head of the army (Nepalese Army), and in the event of a reactionary armed revolt and/or attack from foreign interventionists (in particular India), the UCPN(M) will be able to split the Nepalese Army, winning over at least much of its ranks (including those that have been integrated into it from the People’s Liberation Army [PLA], assuming that integration proceeds) while at the same time rallying a broad united front in society, to carry the new-democratic revolution forward to victory, laying the basis for advancing on the socialist road.

Again, this is giving this argument its “very best” interpretation. But, even doing so, it must be said that this whole outlook and approach is full of, and in fact is based on, classical revisionist illusions.  As a basic point of method, it ignores (or discounts) the general dialectical materialist understanding that things can, and often do, turn into their opposite—and specifically how this has frequently occurred when revolutionary forces have been drawn into the dynamics of electoral/constitutional processes, without smashing and dismantling the old, reactionary state, and the whole way in which the dynamics of such a process sap and rob the revolutionary forces of their initiative and strength. (My sense of this has been reinforced by reading some analysis, done in the service of imperialist strategic thinking, on how to derail and ultimately defeat people’s wars in the Third World—and in particular the emphasis such analysis gives to the importance precisely of drawing the erstwhile armed insurgents into the electoral-Constitutional framework and dynamics.)

Even if it were to be the case, in the specific conditions of Nepal today, that the reactionaries became restless and impatient with the course of things—even if they felt that the continuation of things in the current governmental/constitutional framework were not leading things in a direction favorable to them, and therefore they had to bring an end to this process through some kind of coup/military action (which has happened in situations of this kind when other parties have proceeded on a course similar to that now being taken by the UCPN[M])—it seems unfortunately clear that the orientation and approach of the UCPN(M) would leave them without any real means of dealing with this, and that the outcome would be one where they would be smashed and decimated.

This whole orientation and approach of the UCPN(M)—again, even giving this its “very best” interpretation—ignores (or discounts, in the name of the particular and supposedly unique circumstances of the situation in Nepal), a vast amount of historical experience where attempts at this kind of (revisionist) strategy have led to disastrous results for the revolutionary forces.  Indonesia in 1965—where a numerically strong and politically influential Communist Party was essentially annihilated by a reactionary onslaught, carried out by the Indonesian army with the direction of the American CIA, in which somewhere between half a million and a million people were massacred—is perhaps the most devastating, but by no means the only, such instance.

It seems clear that, in the situation of Nepal now, it is correct to seek to rally broad forces against foreign interference and the potential of foreign intervention, and it is even correct to make serious attempts, as a subordinate TACTIC, to split the reactionary forces, including the reactionary army; but to raise this—and the latter in particular (splitting and winning over sections of the reactionary army)—to the level of a STRATEGY is completely erroneous, and very seriously courts disaster.  One need only ask:  What if these attempts (to split the reactionary army, etc.) fail, while one has made one’s whole approach dependent on this…then what?  And it does seem very clear that there is no other dimension in which real and serious preparations are being made by the UCPN(M) for an actual showdown with the armed forces of reaction.  Mass and militant mobilization of youth, in the urban as well as rural areas, for example, could be an important element of an overall strategy for actually carrying the revolution forward, and preparing for the decisive showdown with the armed forces of reaction; but this in itself is not, and cannot be, a substitute for, or the essential means to, wield an organized and disciplined force that can meet and defeat the armed forces of reaction, domestic and very possibly foreign as well.

In short, all this—the overall orientation and approach being carried out by the UCPN(M), even giving this its “very best” interpretation—still falls within the category of seeking to “finesse,” rather than to fully confront, and transform through the necessary struggle, very real and daunting contradictions.  This approach of the UCPN(M) much more embodies the potential for disaster than any prospect of successfully completing the new-democratic revolution, through smashing and dismantling the still-existing reactionary state and establishing a new, revolutionary state.

What makes things even worse is that the UCPN(M)—and, it seems, unfortunately, all its various factions, including even those which have been, in varying degrees, in opposition to the revisionist line of the Party’s leadership—appear to be trapped within, and obstinately determined to remain within, the circular revisionist logic which characterizes the thinking of the UCPN(M) leadership.  And this leads to the dismissal of any essential challenge to this whole orientation and approach—even criticism raised from a revolutionary-communist perspective is discounted on the basis that it is just resorting to and regurgitating general principles (with which everyone agrees, of course!) while ignoring the particular and even unique circumstances that obtain in Nepal.  This facile dismissal of criticism that should actually be seriously engaged, and in fact united with and acted on, is an expression of all too familiar empiricism and pragmatism, as well as nationalism.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the prospect that even forces within the UCPN(M) which are themselves critical of the dominant line and leadership of that Party, will actually seriously rethink, and then break with and mount real opposition to, this whole course—the prospect that such forces will, in a timely way in the critical circumstances, recognize the validity of, and act in accordance with, the revolutionary-communist critique that has been repeatedly made of this whole orientation and approach, including through speaking to the essential particularities of the current situation—this prospect seems increasingly bleak.  The likelihood looms, and is growing, that the most compelling refutation of the revisionist line will turn out to be the practical reality of a disaster for the revolution and, in one form or another, destruction of the revolutionary forces (their full and final degeneration into revisionism and/or their physical decimation at the hands of the reactionaries), which this revisionist line is actually leading toward.

Nevertheless—and in fact precisely because this latter prospect, of devastating defeat, with its attendant demoralization and disorientation, not only for genuine revolutionaries but also for masses of people, in that country but also well beyond, is increasingly and ever more acutely posing itself—it remains crucial to wrestle with the question of how a decisive altering of this course, a real rupturing with revisionism, might be effected. As has been repeatedly, and very rightly, emphasized: In the current circumstances and given the current trajectory of things in Nepal, the real meaning and content of internationalist support is not acting as cheerleaders while the revolution is increasingly derailed onto a course heading toward a cliff and into the abyss, but instead a sharp and substantive criticism of this course, pointing to the urgently needed rupture back onto the revolutionary road.

Such criticism has been made, repeatedly.  The question is now acutely posed: Will those who genuinely want to see the revolution in Nepal advance, rather than being decisively defeated, and who still might be able to fight effectively for the needed ruptures—will they finally take to heart this criticism and take up the substance of what it is raising, before it is too late?


* Resolution of the Central Committee of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), “Present Situation and Historical Task of the Proletariat” (2009).  [back]

37 Responses to “U.S. Left Group Accuses Nepali Maoists of “Revisionism””

  1. J.H.Prynne said

    Those who comment from the outside on the current realities now facing those inside Nepal, and contemplating very grave decisions, had better be careful in what they say. It is in fact rather easy to condemn all less that total and extreme solutions to a confrontation as revisionist: only the unyielding posture in pursuit of immediate and uttermost revolution will satisfy the ideological purist. Anything that is not aimed to be a final showdown is by this view revisionist: incorrect and uncourageous. In theoretical terms according to the conventions of outright revolutionary struggle, this interpretation is probably correct.
    But there are at least three further complicating factors. First, the destructive violence and bloodshed in a precarious nation-state like Nepal, arising from all-out civil war, could inflict traumas from which recovery might be an almost impossibly arduous prospect. Any political/military leader must hesitate and weigh these considerations, and outsiders don’t have much status in pressing their theory-based critiques. Second, a mis-judged tactic, to precipitate a crisis by a too-risky call, could all too probably bring in massive outside interference, from international vested interests who could deem such a crisis as a paramount invitation to protect the status quo. The scale of violent resistance and the revolutionary tasks attempted could thus escalate rapidly and with immense disproportion, in the worst case bringing a crushing destruction of all that has been attempted. And third (maybe most important), the long-held strategy of the Nepali Maoist programme has been carefully ambiguous about total struggle towards a final revolutionary outcome, versus moving through sub-stages, to gain and hold ideological positions along an indirect path. Mao’s own early strategies included many tactical indirections, and the Nepali world is so fragile that this method by stages may indeed hold out the best prospect of attaining a worthwhile and sustainable revolutionary outcome. In other words, a tactical quasi-revisionism may be not defeatist at all but an element in the art of revolutionary struggle. To stand up too quickly and go down in glorious flames is the mark of the immature revolutionary who doesn’t accurately gauge the local pragmatics and the calculus of Best Chance. Those on the outside should respect the huge responsibilities pressing down on the Nepali Maoist formation, and the best efforts of their leaders to judge this exceptionally dangerous moment now rapidly approaching.

  2. John B. said

    The RCP “post-Maoist”? Have they renounced Maoism?

  3. CPSA said

    The core charge of revisionism may be correct (no one needs to be reminded the CPI-M, Ganapathy’s group has been arguing the same thing for a few years now). But that isn’t really saying much. And I’m not sure it’s even worth dignifying the “challenge” to Roy with much of a response. Lotta is apparently a bigger hack than Li Onesto, at least her book is still worth the read (the parts about Avakian I basically ignore).

  4. tellnolies said

    Who is the RCP?

  5. Mike E said

    John B asks:

    “The RCP “post-Maoist”? Have they renounced Maoism?”

    Yes. they have removed all mention of Maoism or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism being their ideology or basis of unity.

    The RCP used to have a formulation called “the three ours.” One of the “ours” was “Our ideology is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.” The three ours used to be posted on every page of their website, and every issue of their newspaper. They have now been removed.

    They hold that MLM (or Maoism) have now been transcended by Bob Avakian’s new synthesis — and that “germanic appreciation” of Avakian is the necessary global dividing line between communism and capitulation to capitalism. On many points (far more than many people realize) Avakian conceived of his own views as a radical rupture and negation of previous marxism and maoism.

  6. Mike E said

    TNL writes:

    “Who is the RCP?”

    Sadly, this sarcastic question has more and more truth to it. The RCP is increasingly irrelevent. Polemics like this are mainly aimed at its own dwindling and isolated supporters.They are a “message in a bubble.”

    It employs a technique Bill Martin calls “Taste this, it’s terrible!” In other words,the technique is intended to inoculate the RCP’s circles from engagement with the debates that are drawing in the world’s communist and revolutionary people. And in this case, it is an attempt to inoculate people from appreciating or supporting a living attempt at communist revolution!

    You read the bizarre rambling opening paragraph of this unreadable piece — and wonder again a trend could so rapidly descend into real backwardness and self-indulgent incoherence. Apparently, few things numb the brain faster than an unedited cult of personality.

    There is real value in summing up the arc and experience of the RCP — which included decades of diverse revolutinary experimentation in the U.S. But there is less and less interesting about their current antics. The answer to TNL’s question “Who is the RCP?” is increasingly “Uh, no one really, not anymore.”

  7. Shiva said

    There are differences on the approach to the revolution within the CPN-Maoist (now UCPN-Maoist). But they have a very democratic way of dealing with diferences of all kind.
    The Napali reality has to be viewed with understanding of the reality of a land-locked country with a hostile regional power for one neighbour and an indifferent emergent capitalist power for the other, as well as meddling by the global super powerr in collaboration with the regional power.
    The revolution has achieved a lot. Further gains need a careful approach. I think that armed struggle is inevitable. But to launch one when the enemy wants it will be unwise. The Nepali people should know who the real enemies of peace in Nepal are. The Maoist strategy should, in my view, be to strengthen themselves politically and build mass support before they launch their next major step.
    While one may have reservations and critical views about the path of the Nepali revolution, to make such views part of an inquisition of the Nepali Maoists is childish and even counter-revolutionary.
    Differences between revolutionary parties have to be dealt with in a friendly manner.
    I will recommend a very useful article on the Handling Contradictions among Fraternal Parties in New Democracy 36 accessible at http://ndpsl.org
    The key question is: Whom are we helping with out statements?
    Constructive criticism to be constructive should be in the correct way and in the correct context.

  8. NSPF said

    Re comment #1 by JH Prynne:

    A brilliant and masterfully concise piece of commentary advocating acquiescence to the force of circumstance.

    I cannot feel but privileged to have read this, though I may not, and do not in fact, agree with the core concept/philosophy at its root.

    From a purely academic point of view in political science it would be a mistake to think that all ideological purists are puritans unyielding “in pursuit of immediate and uttermost revolution.” For if that were the case, history would be witness to a lot more than a few rare occasions of “stand[ing] up too quickly and go[ing] down in glorious flames…” Or else there would be no plausible ideological explanation for the trajectory of the course followed by Mao in China and indeed other maoist forces of the present day world, other than affinity to the political philosophy of John Dewey.

    From a practical point of view, however, the ideological purists’ critique of Nepali Maoists revolves around an accusation and complaint, correct or otherwise, that they are pursuing dangerous shortcuts in solving problems that can only be resolved by protracted means; that tactical weaknesses can only be overcome by relying on their strategic strengths; that through such shortcuts it is not possible to neutralise the adversary’s tactical strength by flushing out its strategic weaknesses. Hardly an advocacy of impatient do or die formula.

  9. redflags said

    Bob Avakian has collapsed the RCP into a vehicle for promoting himself as the answer to every problem. I’ve actually heard members of the RCP talk about using his “body of work” to cure cancer. It’s absurd. Others have echoed the general content of this criticism, notably the MLMRSG who agree with Avakianism even if they aren’t game to carry his personal water. They are entitled to their opinions, but I have to wonder who it is they think they’re speaking to? They certainly have no intention, as demonstrated over years, of doing much beyond demanding fidelity to an almost century-old script that has not developed in their thinking one iota. This may explain why those so enamored of the past are so useless for seizing the future. Marx nailed this in the 18th Brumaire of Napolean Bonaparte, where the revolutionaries of the mid-19th Century dressed up in the constumes of the French Revolution, picking factions of the past to play-act the “second-time farce” of 1848, an actual revolution breaking out on new terms that old categories didn’t fit.

    Let’ us all learn from what is best in our history so we aren’t condemned to repeat it.

  10. land said

    You have got to ask……

    Why did the RCP give up on revolution.

    Why did they give up on the people making revolution.

    It is not a moral question. They just gave it up.

  11. land said

    Actually it is not just that they gave up on rev. What they are saying is even worse.

    They are saying the revolutionaries are not strong enough. That they are going to lose. That it will be like Indonesia in 1965.

    Certainly there is never any guarantee. It’s always a fight all the way through.

    For years the RCP has been silent on this struggle.

    Now when May Day is days away and so much is on the line they say if there is anyone left after the defeat join us.

    Itis more clear to me than ever and I am so glad Jed is in Nepal that Kasama and others like Kasama are
    standing so stong with the Nepale revolutionaries.

    If I could be there I would. But being here there is alot we can do.

    And I agree with TNL. Just who is the RCP?

  12. ‘On The Critical Crossroads…’ contains a very serious analysis of what is happening in Nepal. It comes from a very important tradition that criticises the approach of making reformist demands that you hope the capitalist system can’t meet and then hoping this will provoke a revolution. This approach was first advanced by Communist Parties after the Second World War, in reaction to the post-war affluence of Western labour aristocracies.

    At least Stalin had the excuse that this approach hadn’t been seriously tried before. People like Mike Ely are well aware that this approach does not work, this must have been discussed with him in his time in RCP-USA. Mike has no excuse for defending this line.

    In fact Mike and his supporters do not even bother to defend this line to any real extent. They just make a lot of silly, ad hominem attacks on Bob Avakian.

    If Mike really finds a relatively straightforward political critique ‘uunreadable’ given the priviliged education he has received as a US citizen and given the years of political education the RCP-USA must have given him, then I wonder what he is doing trying to lead an organisation like ‘Kasama’.
    When I see radicals from the Third World, who haven’t had a tenth of the educational priviliges Mike has had, devoting their time and energy to learning Marxism so they can help free their peoples, I am inclined to feel a bit cynical about the reformists who post on Kasama.

  13. CPSA said

    You aren’t giving any credit to those third world revolutionaries in practice Joe. Who exactly do you have in mind? I’m no revisionist and honestly I don’t see the RCP even seriously engaging the issues or struggles raised by the UCPNM, the CPI(M), the CPP, the FARC or any other party or movement engaged in a Maoist/Marixst revolutionary struggle whether armed or unarmed in the developing world. The criticism about Roy and the UCPNM from your party are a joke, Joe and frankly not worthy of serious debate unless your party either links its criticism to something real and/or proposes some sort of alternative praxis. To call this blog revisionist is a little like the pot calling the kettle black when your party doesn’t practice the solidarity you’re talking about here. Kasama is small and I agree in ways too much of a talking shop, but they were out in force at the Left Forum, when Prachanda spoke at the New School at the CUNY Social Forum at the Marxism conference in Massachusetts last Fall. Kasama doesn’t claim to have all the answers, and if it makes your membership feel Bob does, more power to you. But I don’t see many outside the party agreeing with you.

  14. CPSA said

    And I’d like to briefly add, the whole point of Kasama is not necessarily to come up with a single answer, or if it is, to be a true synthesis on struggles here, in Asia, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere. This isn’t the 1960s anymore and you can’t expect Bob’s thesis to be the neo-little red book, which never was the answer it was claimed to be during the GPCR anyway as any objective or progressive historian of China will tell you. The purpose of this collective is to find very approaches, issues, praxes that fit the many situations we confront in the State and overseas, at least to truly lend some sort of revolutionary solidarity to the extent possible in the latter case. When the RCP wakes up to the need to do that, maybe give Kasama a call.

  15. CPSA said

    Errors: “various approaches” and “in the States and overseas.”

  16. I am not the member of any party. I support the line of the RCP-USA on Nepal and I uphold the line of ‘Democracy: Can’t We Do Any Better Than That?’ and ‘Democracy: More Than Ever We Can And Must Do Better Than That’. I don’t necessarily uphold everything the RCP-USA says. However, the fact is that the RCP-USA is a revolutionary party and thus should be mainly supported, whereas Kasama is a revisionist organisation that should be opposed.

    Kasama is no longer engaging with the very serious criticism of the UCPN(M) line made by the RCP-USA because Kasama does not have the theoretical tools to do this, as it has no revolutionary perspective. Its line is an eclectic, reformist hash with no Marxist content. Kasama is an organisation of liberal reformists with an anti-communist line. Kasama raises the red flag so it can bring it crashing to the ground.

  17. redflags said

    Joseph, I’m just curious what you mean by the word “party”. What is a political party? Maybe I’m too eclectic and lack the tools to understand something so obvious.

    —-

    The above criticism of the UCPNM contains (fair) warnings about the dangers of compromise with an unreformed state. Of that danger, I absolutely agree.

    But we all know the real issue for the RCP is that they believe their leader and allegiance to him, personally, is the dividing line between revisionism and communism in the world today. The absurdity of this makes direct political engagement 1) difficult, if not impossible, and 2) a waste of time since they have the same answer to every question.

    That’s not politics, or the class struggle. It’s not exactly ‘eclecticism’ either. But the adoption of doctrinal posturing in place of leading people in revolutionary struggle is not a door I’m interested in walking through.

    If by revolutionary perspective you mean the kind of sectarian dismissal and fear-mongering that defines the RCP, USA – then I suspect disagreements are pretty profound. The RCP isn’t Marxist, Leninist or Maoist. It is an isolated mind-control cult dedicated to their maximum leaders reputation. They play no role in organizing the oppressed in the United States, or internationally, with their singular focus on “projecting Bob Avakian into the superstructure”. That means trying to get prominent people to say he’s important, which has been an abject failure even on its own sorry terms.

    Avakian’s take on democracy, with his belief that a one-party state, under his personal control, is some new idea – well, that’s far-fetched and awful. Communists are not red monarchs, benevolent and far-sighted shepards of the lost masses. People don’t need “better” rulers – they need to rule. If communists can’t lead through the people, by their conscious and organized capacity to engage in politics, then what are they supposed to do?

    My take on the criticism from the left of the UCPNM is the belief that its “communists against the world” not “communists for the world”. It is a set of impossibilist demands to fight all enemies at once. You can call living in the world eclecticism, where the mud of actual struggle dirties your precious lab equipment, but again – that’s not how I see it.

    For those who follow this dogmatic method, you are left with the absurdity of an isolated cult of elderly followers in the case of the RCP – or as finger-pointing back-seat driver always disappointed the world doesn’t fit in your pre-digested doctrine. Revisionism, what Maoists call class collaboration in place of class struggle is certainly the main problem among organized communists. But among conscious anti-revisionists, dogmatism and the larger problem of a defeated sectarianism have been pernicious. Revisionism may have wrecked the larger communist movement, in power and out; but decades of isolation have worked their ugly charms and destroyed the RCP from within. I’m not content to let that continue, you shouldn’t be either.

    Revolutionary Marxism is a guide to action, not a set of rules. Mao didn’t follow Soviet advice, Lenin broke with Kautsky. The orthodox always fall away in the course of real struggle when the terrain isn’t familiar. In other words, it’s idealism – this demand the world fit ideology and not the other way around.

    We shall indeed see what happens in Nepal. I’m not certain of any single outcome, less so here than before I arrived. I am certain that this across the board dismissal of a party with lively internal struggle, that is facing a do-or-die moment is defeatist in its orientation and sectarian by general method. It isn’t solidarity, its true audience is the few dozen RCP members Avakian feels need to be inoculated from real-world contagion and not the revolutionaries of South Asia. It is designed to say, as Bill Martin astutely noted “taste this, it’s terrible!”

    I encourage you, Joseph, and others to read the latest Maoist Information Bulletin. There are interviews with Basanta and Prachanda, as well as a deep analysis of the ANC’s historic sell-out of the revolution in South Africa. Real struggle is taking place, on much better terms than this pinched dismissal seems to realize or respect.

  18. CPSA said

    How is that Joe? How is the RCP revolutionary and how is Kasama reformist, let alone a Marxistless hash as you call it? I’m not and I basically consider myself a sympathizer if not a member (and at least a wannabe revolutionary with at least a few models of parties in many other countries that represent what I believe in, along with many other social movements that stand for practices that might be better than what any of those parties represent). Do you feel that way b/c the party you sympathize with tells you as much? You’ve boiled your argument down to a rather skeletal polemic that has little theoretical or praxis oriented weight. Redflags has put it much more strongly than I, but at this point I’d say you’re simply name calling.

  19. Occam's Kukhuri said

    The RCP writes: It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the prospect that even forces within the UCPN(M) which are themselves critical of the dominant line and leadership of that Party, will actually seriously rethink, and then break with and mount real opposition to, this whole course—the prospect that such forces will, in a timely way in the critical circumstances, recognize the validity of, and act in accordance with, the revolutionary-communist critique that has been repeatedly made of this whole orientation and approach, including through speaking to the essential particularities of the current situation—this prospect seems increasingly bleak.

    Strangely familiar syntax from this anonymous commentator… Apparently copy-editing isn’t part of the “New Synthesis.” More to the point, it means Avakian’s attempts to turn two-line struggle into a split of the UCPNM, exactly as they prepare for a decisive contest in Katmandu, aren’t going to happen.

    The RCP is not a political party, its a vehicle for the promotion of Bob Avakian. Within the United States, this has been a complete failure, leading to the effective dissolution of the RCP as a communist political organization. Despite the MLM buzzwords, Avakian now believes he is the dividing line between communism and revisionism, with only a few dozen people taking his side.

    It’s a waste. But no threat to anyone save those who take it seriously.

  20. RCP-USA is revolutionary and Marxist because it upholds the dictatorship of the proletariat. Kasama upholds the Bhattarai model, whereby multi-party elections are meant to determine which class exercises power. Therefore Kasama is reformist and non-Marxist. Therefore ad hominem attacks on Avakian do not refute the point that Kasama is reformist and revisionist. If you are going to proceed by ad hominem attacks, you would have to refute the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat by making similar ad hominem attacks on Marx, Engels, Lenin and all the other leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution, Mao and all the other leaders of the Chinese Revolution that upheld his line. Of course, you could try a scientific approach instead, but I rather think that a serious attempt to do so would lead to the ideological dissolution of the Kasama project.

  21. NSPF said

    This business of “familiar syntax” reminded me of an old story I had almost forgotten:

    A grammarian was travelling overseas aboard a ship. He saw a sailor hard at work while singing a deck below. He called the sailor to attention and asked “have you studied syntax?” The sailor answered “No sir I haven’t.” “Half your life is wasted” proclaimed the grammarian with an air of superiority and satisfaction. Few days later sea became stormy and strong waves were hitting the ship hard and crosswinds were listing it on starboard. The sailor, hard at work trying to save the ship noticed the grammarian on portside holding tight to a piece of side railing, his lips moving in fast rhythm betraying a hurried recital of his own last rites, visibly frightened and shaking like leaves of a willow tree in gentle breeze. The sailor reached him and asked “have you learned to swim?” “No”, he answered in a muffled voice. The sailor retorted, with a grin on his face, “All of you life is wasted.”

    By the way, deducting largest possible conclusions based on tiniest of “evidence” is more akin to Sherlock Holms’ logic than having anything to do with Occam’s Raisor. Even Sherlock Holms would hesitate to present his conclusions as proof of anything on their own, let alone resorting to outright slander and innuendo.

    Mike unfortunately is setting a very bad example for others to follow. He is inciting others to misread and misrepresent everything that has anything to do with RCP. When it comes to that Party he loses any sense of proportion even if he has on occasions pointed out something that I might agree with.

  22. CPSA said

    I’m not doing that b/c of Mike, I thought that about the RCP years before Kasama was even thought of. The only wasted lives I see about those following an RCP that has no links to reality and whose idea of revolution is linked to some romantic notion of the Cultural Revolution and Bob Avakian.

  23. Mike E said

    With real respect for NSPF, I am curious to know more about this criticism:

    “Mike unfortunately is setting a very bad example for others to follow. He is inciting others to misread and misrepresent everything that has anything to do with RCP.”

    If there is truth there, I would like to understand it better.

    For my part, at this point, i don’t think there is misrepresentation.

    Let me put it like this:

    We are all concerned about a military coup in Nepal. We are all concerned (as we should be) that the reactionary army may act, and that the people (and their organized revolutionary forces) may not be able to defeat them.

    The Nepali army has tried to preserve itself, portray itself as “above” the political infighting, while preparing, gathering international “advice” and attracting the most reactionary forces to its cause.

    We are all concerned (as we should be) about the difficulty of shifting from a gathering of forces, and an exposure of enemies — to the decisive actions of seizing power. These have always been difficult transitions in revolutionary history — the “going over” is difficult. And the hopes (including among the people) of resolving their problems and frustrations without warfare always impact the line struggles among the revolutionaries.

    We are all concerned that the attempt to gather forces may (in the absence of leaps and breakthroughs) lead to mass disillusionment and a dispersal of carefully gathered energies — that new rounds of coalition or stalemate may emerge, because of an inability to reach a decisive resolution, and that over time the wave of popular mobilization, the emergence and maturation of a revolutionary people and a revolutionary situation could all simply, objectively, dissipate.

    The Nepali revolution is in a series of nested quandaries: Including the fact that the Army is unbloodied and undefeated. The fact that the current state of dual power is unstable and inherently temporary. And the fact that transition to an offensive requires a number of material prerequisites (mood among the people, core of organized forces, possibly a triggering crisis, a critical mass of forces willing to risk death) which are often difficult to align, and which may (or may not), in a very material sense, garner enough to “push through.”

    The “problem” with the RCP is not the identification of these problems, or concern with them. These problems are rather obvious — to any serious observer (of whatever political complexion).

    The problem is:
    a) The RCP casually, routinely distorts what the Nepali Maoists are doing.
    b) The RCP thinks that their “job” is to issue orders to the worlds communists, not prepare sections of the people within the U.S. to act in revolutionary and internationalist ways.

    Here is a pivotal assessment from their anonymous writer:

    “What if these attempts (to split the reactionary army, etc.) fail, while one has made one’s whole approach dependent on this…then what? And it does seem very clear that there is no other dimension in which real and serious preparations are being made by the UCPN(M) for an actual showdown with the armed forces of reaction.”

    Huh? How does this “seem very clear”? To whom? Based on what?

    This is (after all) coming from a party whose own “serious preparations” are a braiding of hype and self-isolation — and whose theory of “leaping chasms” is to promise a “telescoping” from “scores of revolutionaries” to power.

    But this whole matter of materialist assessment, and the whole problem of evaluating complex things from afar are simply swept under the rug, with a shrug and a mumbling of it “seems very clear.”

    Well, it does seem very clear to me, that the Maoists are scrambling to make “serious preparations,” under very difficult conditions. And that it remains to be seen how well it works out.

    And (might I add) the main responsibility should be to do “serious preparation” among the people precisely for internationalism and for revolution — rather than act as history’s appointed kibbitzer and head-man-in-charge.

    The real and underlying summation (that has soaked the RCP’s perspective) is a deep pessimism. Among more rightist figures in the RCP (the so-called “get real brigade”) this pessimism took the form of accepting and tailing non-revolutionary politics within the party. More recently, that pessimism takes on a quite angry and self-pitying disrespect for everyone else (including the masses of people, his own party, and the communist comrades of the world.) Here in Nepal, and everywhere really, the “prospect seems increasingly bleak.”

    If only everyone on the planet would just stop and listen to the brainstorms of the great man… The classic narcissism and philosophical solipsism of that should be obvious — and I won’t belabor the obvious.

    This issue is not that real problems aren’t spoken to, but that there is a very real hole in the analysis (where materialist investigation and assessment should be playing their part). The RCP’s sketch-without-material-analysis continues:

    “Mass and militant mobilization of youth, in the urban as well as rural areas, for example, could be an important element of an overall strategy for actually carrying the revolution forward, and preparing for the decisive showdown with the armed forces of reaction; but this in itself is not, and cannot be, a substitute for, or the essential means to, wield an organized and disciplined force that can meet and defeat the armed forces of reaction, domestic and very possibly foreign as well.”

    There are many things that come to mind.

    First, this states a banal fact of military doctrine. Quickly trained youth contingents don’t defeat soldiers. Armies don’t get swept away by enthusiastic and self-sacrificing crowds. The Indian Army will not be intimidated by a nationally-indignant mood of unarmed people. War is a particular arena of human affairs with its own laws — and it is won with soldiers — needing training, arms, command and a developed military strategy that corresponds to conditions and class nature.

    Second, the unstated implication here is that the Nepali Maoists do not have (and further don’t see the need for) “an organized and disciplined force that can meet and defeat…”

    Isn’t that a rather amazing thing to just imply… given that this movement created a peoples liberation army at great sacrifice, and has (so far) preserved and trained it under very difficult conditions…

    For years the RCP has been saying this army is disarmed and dissolved. They have told their supporters that the Nepalis have given up the gun and the revolution. And in the RCP’s twitchy ideological habit of inevitabilism, they thought it was OK to announce this prematurely, because disarmament and dissolution were, in their view, inevitable if not yet demonstrable. I constantly meet people in the U.S. who believe the PLA was dissolved, or that its forces have no weapons, or that they are not trained… because of some very real and active misinformation circulated by the RCP.

    When Ben Peterson went to one of those camps and reported that the Maoist forces train each day with high discipline and (in ways allowed by the agreement) had weapons that enabled such training, and so on… did the RCP retract their claims? Did they acknowledge this simple reality (since confirmed by other sources)?

    No, and this piece continues their claims — without daring to state those claims. It is a “message in a bubble” — where things are asserted, believed, and never face the simple accounting of reality or practice.

    And it may happen, at some point, that the talk of army integration turns from a point of exposure and agitation into some actual proposal for integration. If that happens (which is unlikely-but-conceivable) then that would have to be evaluated. But to assume that talk of integration is an intention of self-liquidation and “two into one” is (yet again) to confuse a textual read with an actual material situation (and that is, again, the RCP’s “fetish of the word” in action).

    Clearly life in the encampments has been hard for the PLA and for its effectiveness as a national fighting force. It has been difficult to move Maoist guerrillas from the base areas that sustained them. Clearly there is a danger of being trapped and “taken out” in those camps. (I worry about some preemptive Indian air force strikes.) Clearly, there remains the imbalance between revolutionary force and the reactionary military forces.

    But the core of the RCP statement here is to minimize (i.e. dismiss without real discussion) the complex (and often hidden) actions taken by the Maoists — including dispersing military cadre broadly among the people to create new forces (the militia we are talking about, the militant and conscious YCL forces that have grown, new urban networks and so on).

    This kind of constant and one-sided misrepresentation of conditions gets people to the point where some people believe (as one comment in a nearby thread puts it):

    “you are investing Nepalese maoists with a degree of radicalism that they clearly do not have….the Maoists are not even suggesting that they might seize power…”

    Events are tightening in Nepal. Mobilizations are happening on both sides. Threats are being made. Forces are being trained. The U.S. ambassador has intervened.

    And what does the RCP do? They call for a split inside the Nepali Maoists — as if the RCP’s party leadership is the pope of communism.

    Did they even make a timely public statement opposing the U.S. ambassador’s action?

    What should a small, rather unaccomplished communist grouping in the United States be doing (energetically!) as a distant Maoist force strains to make breakthroughs in a tough spot?

    I have made this point repeatedly, as we have tried to sound the bell: many revolutionaries don’t yet know how to act as a real revolutionary situation unfolds in front of them. The contrast between magical thinking and real world complexity has left too many paralyzed. And the very basic political responsibilities of being a communist in the belly of the beast need to be revisited.

  24. redflags said

    @Joseph Ball: you are of course free to exercise a one-party dictatorship in your living room. You can call it proletarian, or whatever you want. But what is apparent is the disdain of isolated ideologues in the face of a popular uprising. You’ve been building sand castles so long you can’t even see the palace gates.

    The RCP uphold the dictatorship of Bob Avakian, period. What organization of the proletariat to do they lead? None. What struggle of any kind do they have any participation in? None.

    They despise the people, and have collapsed into a genuinely pathetic singularity. Like you, they actually hope for the crushing of the revolution in Nepal. They would rather their doctrine prove sound than that the actual people advance. The real world is just too touch for these hot-house ideologues.

    That you find Avakian to be “upholding the dictatorship of the proletariat” means you live in your own mind. You clearly don’t care about the people, their agency and right to rule. In other words, you confuse a one-party state with the class rule of the proletariat. You seem unconcerned that every country which followed the model you advocate restored capitalism from within the Communist Party.

    That THIS is the discussion you want to have while hundreds of thousands are converging on kathmandu for May First, with an indefinite general strike already announced – well, I think that speaks for itself.

    You are always free to join Bob Avakian and spread his gospel. But since that will mainly involve you howling at the moon about how “rare and special” he is. You won’t be building proletarian power, that’s for sure.

    I wish you luck. In your living room dictatorship of the proletariat. You’ll need it.

  25. Nat. W said

    The above letter states:

    “In the current circumstances and given the current trajectory of things in Nepal, the real meaning and content of internationalist support is not acting as cheerleaders while the revolution is increasingly derailed onto a course heading toward a cliff and into the abyss, but instead a sharp and substantive criticism of this course, pointing to the urgently needed rupture back onto the revolutionary road.”

    While I think Mike has a point that this letter published by the RCP does lack a clear understanding of the “facts on the ground” particularly on the readiness of the PLA and the CPNMU’s own understanding of their role in a final confrontation; I think that on the other hand the point above about internationalism is a valid one in line with the way a Lenin, for example, may have approached a similar situation if he saw serious flaws in another party’s approach and strategy for preparing for a final showdown with the enemy.

    Internationalism does not mean uncritical support even for those forces whose heart may be in the right place.

    Lenin made strong criticisms of so-called communist leaders who had much more prestige and led much bigger social-democratic parties, even while the Bolsheviks were a much smaller, seemingly insignificant force. Wasn’t it internationalist on his part to call out problems in the world movement and to fight for a more correct line as he saw it?

    My point here is not to say that this letter is absolutely correct, as I have many problems with it myself; however it is to impress on the Kasama project that despite their strong disagreements with the RCP, the latter may have a point when it criticizes your new project for blind cheerleading, blind not because you don’t have a greater sense of the facts of what is actually happening in Nepal than the RCP criticisms display; but blind because there is no nuance to your support for the Nepal revolution other than to say that things are complex and the Maoists must maneuver carefully.

    I fear that in the pursuit of trying to learn all you can from this revolution in Nepal, you begin to shy away from things you already have learned and in the name of internationalism you step back from making any criticism even where it may be needed.

    In the end I think this type of internationalism is flawed. I agree with the idea that the revolutions in South Asia should be supported and are extremely important for the future of the world communist movement. In that way there are many problems with the RCPs stance and your work around popularizing these movements is commendable. On the other hand you should not shy away from criticizing these movements in the name of internationalism or because you feel you haven’t ‘accomplished’ anything yet.

    The truth is every revolutionary’s brain is needed, and the correct approach to internationalism I think is to be supportive of revolutionary movements but at the same time critical when you see mistakes (i.e. Lenin’s approach to the German communists). If you just support blindly, your approach to internationalism becomes the mirror opposite of the RCP and eclecticism may not be the wrong word to describe this opposite approach.

  26. Mike E said

    I want to start by uniting with Nat’s sentiments, when he writes:

    “I agree with the idea that the revolutions in South Asia should be supported and are extremely important for the future of the world communist movement.”

    In the absence of organized support within the U.S. and in a situation where most progressive people have never heard of the revolution in Nepal, this is actually a very important bit of unity.

    And let me point out that even calling the movements in South Asia “revolutions” is controversial among communists (believe it or not!) — and reveals that your support-for-support is significant.

    On the Need for Critical Thinking

    Nat also writes:

    “Internationalism does not mean uncritical support even for those forces whose heart may be in the right place.”

    And again: I agree — even though Nat was accusing me and Kasama of precisely such uncritical support and cheerleading.

    But I have to point out that we have, on this site about South Asian revolution and on Kasama, very consciously tried to avoid uncritical support. In fact, while we worked to popularize news and analysis of those revolutions, we have also created places where criticism of the revolutions of South Asia have appeared and been seriously discussed. We have hosted (and encouraged) reams of critical remarks — both formal polemics of parties and the more informal comments of Kasama participants.
    Let me repeat that: The Kasama and South Asia Rev sites have been a main place (in the world!) where communist criticism of the revolutions of South Asia have appeared and been discussed.

    We created these sites, and have consciously sought to present (to our revolutionaries generally for discussion) substantive and influential analyses (including criticisms) of these revolutions. This even includes (as you can see) the repeated harsh criticisms of the RCP. We were in fact among the first to publish their criticisms online; we even turned their previous letters series into a pamphlet and sell it on our literature tables.

    Furthermore: It is common for some folks (including Joseph Ball here) to equate my views with Kasama. That is, i suppose, understandable — since some folks emerge from a world of singularity where everyone speaks with one voice and any substantive comment is assumed to be the party line. But, in fact, I don’t speak for Kasama, and Kasama (as a project) doesn’t have a developed position on the details of Nepali Maoist politics (beyond precisely the point of agreement Nat and I also start with: supporting the revolutions in South Asia.)

    So we are working to build political support for those revolutions, and Kasama (as a project) has a loose unity around building such support, and within that we organize a public discuss1on that publishes and debates major critiques of those revolutionaries.

    Is that so wrong? Is that “uncritical” support or mindless “cheer-leading”?

    In fact, it isn’t. We have (consciously from the beginning planning stages of our sites) looked at the way support movements sometimes airbrush the forces they support — and decided to both organize political support (which involves educating people about the positive and exciting elements of the revolutions!) and also put before everyone the debates, disputes and questions raised by real life.

    A Comment on My Personal Views

    Speaking for myself: I think it is important to support the revolutionary efforts in South Asia — and to do so from a communist point of view. At the same time I have expressed significant disagreements with some theoretical expressions of the Nepali Party. Have you noticed?

    I don’t agree (for example) that we should view multi-party competitive elections as a universal form for the next wave of socialist revolutions. I have welcomed the Nepali willingness to experiment with that form — in their particular country, which has (as we have discussed) a number of political particularities (and a multiplicity of communist and anti-feudal political groupings).

    Similarly, I have disagreed with their view that a fusion of insurrection and peoples war is a universal feature of revolutionary strategy everywhere.

    But speaking as a materialist, I really don’t have a whole prescriptive list of criticisms, suggestions, and demands to make publicly regarding their developing and difficult strategic choices on the ground.

    Why? Because I do not know enough about the specific situation in Nepal (which is as distant from what I experience as is possible) — despite all the energetic study I do to learn about it.

    I am convinced that a lot of what they are doing is shrouded (and not reflected in the public press statements that some people love to gather in piles and dissect). And (frankly) I don’t see why anyone should give a shit about my own, tentative, emerging attempts to understand and summarize the Nepali revolutionary experiences (especially when both my analysis and those experiences are in such flux).

    And finally, I am very aware that the kind of self-inflated critiques emerging from people like the RCP have a specific (and I believe, intended) affect of diffusing and preventing a much needed internationalist spirit around the revolutionary attempts.

    We will have plenty of time to sum up when the details of Nepal all come out.

    If the Nepali Maoists are crushed, we may have the (truly pathetic) sight of various dogmatists saying “I told you so.” And if the Nepali Maoists succeed (which is always a long shot), I suspect that these same forces may say it was the wrong revolution, and its demands were not radical enough.

    Let me be clear on this: If the Nepali Maoists find a way to grab a firmer grip on power — it will probably use the previous process (the constitutional stalemate, the fight for civilian control of the gun, the question of land reform and Indian domination) as transitional demands. They will be taking power to carry through the constitutional process, to create the peoples democratic republic, to protect their nation from Indian incursions and military/royalist dictatorship. This will be real life, and real politics, not be an Avakian fantasy.

    People who read history backwards do not grasp that Russia’s initial communist revolution was made under the slogan of “bread, peace and land.” Or that Mao proclaimed “The Chinese people have stood up” (a tidy program, with a heavy nationalist content, that does not even mention bourgeois right.)

    For Serious All-Sided Communist Approach

    Let me take up the question of Lenin you raise, Nat.

    “The truth is every revolutionary’s brain is needed, and the correct approach to internationalism I think is to be supportive of revolutionary movements but at the same time critical when you see mistakes (i.e. Lenin’s approach to the German communists). “

    Let’s be blunt. There is repetition (in some quarters) of a phrase from Lenin (taken out of context, as a kind of blanket commandment):

    “There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism, and that is — working whole- heartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception.” (”The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution”).

    In regard to this quote (which we have discussed on Kasama before), I wrote:

    “There are many conjunctural reasons for Lenin’s expression (having to do with the profound demagogery around peace and internationalism in the midst of World War 1, and Lenin’s urgent attempt to form a new and distinct communist international). The first part of it is important: I.e. that our main internationalist contribution is making revolution here.”

    Second, I want to (again) call out the problem that people confuse the writings of revolutionaries with the actual living history of revolutions.

    For example: yes, when Lenin was in exile, when he was in close contact with the European political developments and the German Left in particular, when he was urging joint action of German and Russian communists (during a war between Germany and Russia), when he was seeking a new international to bridge the trenches… he fought for common theoretical and practical ground with the left wing of the German social-democrats, and that took the form of critiquing some of their positions (even while he united in rather broad and contradictory groupings like the Zimmerwald left).

    But let’s not forget that when (in 1919) the German communists were (despite their differences with Lenin) actually trying to take power, Lenin send large forces marching across Poland (at tremendous and potentially disastrous political cost to his own revolution). In other words, he found daring (almost unthinkable) ways to actually encourage the real and living revolution attempting to be born in Berlin.

    At that moment: Did he use his bully pulpit in Moscow to clutter the world with his (sharp and real) disagreements with Rosa Luxemburg or urge sections of the fragile Spartacus group to split off to form some true Leninist splinter?

    I don’t want to be misunderstood: What is needed here is political support — educational work and attempts to raise political demands against U.S. intervention.

    But it is bizarre to me to see this or that fragment of Lenin’s writings (hoisted out of context of place and time) and to have it suggested that it is fine (for communists in the U.S. today) to denigrate one revolutionary movement after another because they violate imagined norms.

    Our main job as communists is NOT to publicly and repeatedly enumerate our own imaginings of what distant revolutionaries should be doing (and try to dictate things, like when they should launch a decisive struggle, or when they should split their parties in two!) And this is especially odd when real and very complex revolutionary crisis is tightening, and when U.S. intrigues start to pop into the open.

    Does anyone really want to argue that each sub-current around the world’s communist movement should only support their co-thinkers in each other country?

    On Mirror Opposites and Eclecticism

    Nat ends by saying:

    “If you just support blindly, your approach to internationalism becomes the mirror opposite of the RCP and eclecticism may not be the wrong word to describe this opposite approach.”

    Let’s agree to agree on this too — correctly understood (i.e. IF someone were to support blindly…)

    Nepal is seeing the first communist revolution in decades. At least, to be precise: it is the first revolutionary situation, with dual power, and chances of an actual communist seizure of power in decades.

    What do we need to do? I think we need to oppose U.S. intervention — we need to expose the U.S. role here, and we need to demand that the Nepali Maoists are taken off the “terrorist” list. And we need to do extensive educational work — simply to inform radical and oppressed people that this (ignored and hidden) revolutionary movement even exists.

    And I think we should learn from this unfolding process in South Asia. Not in a slavish, whateverist way of yes-men and mimics. But we should put our heads to this rich current of experience and drink deeply. What does a real mass revolutionary movement look like? How does a communist party deal with the dynamics of getting very big very fast? How do the internal contradictions of such a party get expressed and resolved? How do different revolutionary movements influence each other across large borders? How do you isolate, expose and defeat very powerful enemies — by making the people more conscious and organized?

    I’m not saying that the Nepali Maoists (or the Indian Naxalites) have solved all this, or that they are now the new magic “model” for everyone. I’m not looking for someone to solve all our problems, or to promote as infallible.

    I’m saying we have a chance to see this in real life — and learn from what we see — with ALL its complexities, flaws, triumphs and potential tragedy.

    Real life (actual revolutionary practice writ large) is very different from livingroom brainstorms, or swapping the often-romanticized recollections of revolutions past.

    There has been a lot of talk about “eclectics” — which in Maoism’s peculiar jargon means being confused about which contradiction is principal and which is secondary in complex process.

    But yes, we are discussing which task here is principal and which is secondary. Does the world need our voices to trumpet our own distant “concerns” about the direction and tactics of Nepali leaders? Or does it need us to go out (including on May First) and let people know that communism is alive and offering radical solution to real oppression? That there even IS a revolution like this being attempted in the world.

    Let’s keep debating, openly and deeply, different views and summations of these experiments (as they unfold). Let’s keep a critical spirit, not a slavish one. But let’s really push ahead with the work of popularizing revolution.

    And if anyone wants to demand that we back away from that, well, we should tell them they can kiss our ass.

  27. Nat. W said

    Thank you for clarifying your own questions in regards the Nepal revolution and to take the time to seriously answer my post Mike.

    As for your point about Lenin supporting the revolution materially even while having serious criticisms, we are in agreement and this is exactly the point I was trying to make. These revolutions should be supported to the fullest extent possible, even while we are able to be critical in our support.

    I do think we can lend our ideas to the process in other countries, even if we don’t know everthing going on in the way the revolutionaries leading those movements actually do. If we lend our ideas and criticisms in this comradely way with the principle aspect of what were doing supporting the revolutions in the ways you suggest, then that can possibly be productive; anyway it can’t hurt (I personally would also apply this approach to other ‘radical left’ though non-communist movements without losing sight of our final aims). To dismiss them out of hand, especially when our whole movement is hanging by a thread, I again agree is huge mistake and very hurtful.

    Also, you are correct that the Kasama site does post all important criticisms of the South Asian revolutionary struggles, I suppose what I look for is more critical analysis from your own collective project, but perhaps the project feels that is not yet at that stage. Perhaps my want for this is just my own revolutionary impatience, though even in what you have just written I understand the project’s (or at least your own)approach to supporting these revolutions in a deeper way.

  28. redflags said

    Regarding an assessment of the Nepali Maoists — to be honest, we have had so little information, for so many years that aside from parsing ideological documents and trying to read some semblance of the truth from often dubious mainstream media reports – that isn’t an easy task. My intention is to come to the best understanding of actual events possible, and to support the righteous struggle of communists to bring millions of oppressed people into political life. That the Nepali Maoists have done this, while seriously considering the implications of capitalist restoration in the formerly socialist countries – that is cause for optimism.

    I am learning much, every day. But even here in Kathmandu, while hundreds of thousands are entering the city to overturn the government and bring what they call a “people’s federal democratic constitution” – I don’t really feel equipped to “judge”. And who would honestly care what my (or Kasama’s) snap opinions would be? We shall see! Which is, of course, what the Nepali communists have themselves said.

    Mike mentioned in passing the issue of multi-party states versus the Comintern-era model of the one-party state as universal model. I agree with him very much that the issue is not finding (or reproducing) the “one true model”. The issue is “fidelity to the fidelity,” or: how is a dictatorship of the proletariat (worth the name) created and developed from the people themselves.

    A courageous people’s war, followed by efforts to bring a constituent assembly and create a new mainstream have resulted in dual power. That equilibrium is not static, and it is in crisis right now. What we do know, all opinions aside, is that if the Nepali Maoists wanted to become a bourgeois-reformist party – that door has been wide open to them since they left the parliament (after winning the elections). Faced with an intransigent political class, no material or (weighty) political support from abroad and an unreformed, if off-balance Nepal Army – they have turned to the masses of people. They have trained thousands to make a coherent push, and have called for an indefinite general strike beginning May 2, should the current Prime Minister not make way.

    The threat is very real now. That communists of all stripes have been so deaf to events is telling. I’m not just talking about the RCP either, though they have been more aggressive in their dismissals – others, such as revisionists in the CPUSA have promoted counter-revolution. Still others, such as anarchists and “from below” trotskyist organizations are literally unable to see events that don’t conform to their ideological predispositions.

    This clinging to (whatever) ideology like Linus to his blanket is the symptom of lowered sights and defeated movements. They demand that “the” revolution come on terms they have extrapolated from events decades past, and when they don’t – instead of looking with fresh eyes, they say “whatever, nothing to see here”.

    When people are waging a life-and-death struggle based on the most oppressed people in their society, they deserve our attention if not our political support. When I see anarchists riot against capitalist austerity in Greece, I’m not really interested in critiquing their obsession with punk rock music. Support comrades where they can be found, and at least pay enough attention to learn no lessons.

    I don’t want to debate the RCP. I do not believe they are a “political” organization, or a party in any sense that matters. That they were once proud communist revolutionaries is one thing – but they have sabotaged that legacy by degenerated into a cult, by intention and design. They are betting against a revolution at this point, for what I can only see as profoundly cynical and self-involved reasons. So be it. They were pretty useless when they supported the revolution in Nepal, I doubt they could do worse than the nothing much of the last ten years.

    But for those who are involved in real struggles in the USA, who are revolutionaries seeking to bring something better out of the dying empire we live in – then prick up your ears, spread the word and help learn from this genuine struggle of a revolutionary people in their moment of crisis.

  29. NSPF said

    Mike,
    Thanks for your detailed response to my criticism of inciting, misreading and misrepresenting. As I am sure you and at least some others know, as far as the revolution in Nepal is concerned, I have supported and continue to support your(and kasama’s) loud and clear opposition to U.S. and Indian imperialist/expansionist meddling. The fact that you and Kasama are trying to popularise the right of the oppressed in Nepal and South Asia in general to stand up against and overturn their oppression is beyond question in my mind and obvious for everyone to see. Both of these are important aspects of our kind of internationalism and must be upheld and appreciated. Furthermore, my criticisms and concerns are not primarily related to your views on RCP per se, but, partly, how tightly you have ended up linking your defence of revolution in Nepal with your opposition to that Party. And in doing so, you have ended up supporting things that should be opposed and opposed things that should be supported; in Nepal or anywhere else. In other words, some very fundamental principles and concepts that you appear upholding elsewhere and in other discussions end up being trampled upon or ignored when it comes to discussing Nepal. I will begin to clarify shortly and before this Saturday why I think this way.

    So far as the immediate situation in Nepal is concerned, I personally encourage everyone who cares about ordinary people to be vigilant and ready to oppose a possible reactionary onslaught and attempt to crush the ordinary people’s aspirations thru decapitation and bloodbath. That the enemy might pounce on the people like a wounded beast should not be underestimated. That the line in command of UCPNM is incapable of and has no intention of winning a final victory (in the immediate future) as in a revolutionary People’s Republic, I’m certain of.
    A massive and concentrated show of force is the surest signal of intentions. But not of the kind that is being implied here at SAR or Kasama.

  30. n3wday said

    NSPF,

    I know you said you will clarify at some point, but I would like to highlight two things you said I’m particularly interested in.

    “And in doing so, you have ended up supporting things that should be opposed and opposed things that should be supported; in Nepal or anywhere else. In other words, some very fundamental principles and concepts that you appear upholding elsewhere and in other discussions end up being trampled upon or ignored when it comes to discussing Nepal.”

    and

    “A massive and concentrated show of force is the surest signal of intentions. But not of the kind that is being implied here at SAR or Kasama.”

    At least with the second quote I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what you you’re saying, but I will wait for your explanation just to be sure.

  31. NSPF said

    n3wday,
    Let me briefly explain about the second quote:
    There is this assumption promoted at Kasama and SAR that what is being attempted right now in Nepal is to finalise a transit into the stage of peoples republic. obviously the language and some slogans adopted by the leadership there has strenghtened this belief. My own view is that nothing of the kind is even being contemplated by the line in command of ucpnm and therefore they are not in the process of implimenting it. What is being attempted right now is a concentrated effort to bring about/give birth to a “transitional state” as envisaged in their 2005 documents and as a transitional stage before new democracy. The two line struggle has failed (so far) to defeat this line.

    Mike has advanced a theoretical position that such certainty cannot be had save through a crystal ball, a religious belief or inside information. I think otherwise.

  32. Mike E said

    I think we need more discussion of “transitional demands” — how a revolutionary party brings people to a fighting front, and how it makes the goal of seizure understandable to wide sections of the people.

    I think they are pressing for a new government and a break in the stalemated constitutional process. I think that they are exposing the parties (including both the reactionary parties and the army) that constitute the old government and are the roadblock to a radical constitution.

    This can rally forces for a seizure of power. Whether that happens (i.e. whether the allignment of forces is strong enough to act) and whether the party itself is one to that — remains to be seen. It is unwritten.

    NSPF writes:

    “Mike has advanced a theoretical position that such certainty cannot be had save through a crystal ball, a religious belief or inside information. I think otherwise.”

    I think that there is a LOT of “certainty” in our communist movement. I have seen it for years. I have been surrounded with it for years. There is a belief in “inevitablism” that sees binary outcomes from complex situations (“war or revolution” or “socialism or barbarism” or “Religious fascism or Bob Avakian.”) There is a belief that certain kinds of maneuvers (or mere statements) mean that revolution becomes impossible. There is a belief that we can tell the revolutionary mettle of a movement merely by micro-textual examination of their press releases.

    It is a historical fact, that we should perhaps revisit, that Marx, Lenin and Mao each, independently, said that peaceful transition to power was possible and desirable — though i suspect the last two said it because they were, like the Nepalis, maneuvering on the brink of power and may not have actually believed it). I think history shows that peaceful transition to socialism is impossible — but that tactically communist need to help exhaust the openings for such peaceful transition to get the forces for the non-peaceful transition. Perhaps we need to revisit that.

    I assume we agree that you DO need information in order to condemn a whole revolutionary movement and party — and to announce to the world that they have no intention of seizing power.

    Why don’t you simply share any new information with us, or explain which common available information convinces you so deeply? That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, right?

  33. NSPF said

    Lets stick to the theoretical plain for the moment and avoid convoluting accusations and arguments.
    What sort of information is deemed necessary and sufficient to reach a conclusion in favour of or against the current trajectory of events in Nepal? And once this info is obtained how and with what would you assess it to reach a verdict one way or another?

    It is untennable to indefinately promote the current line in command of the ucpnm under the cover of not having enough info and at the same time accusing others who refuse to do this as “condemn[ing] a whole revolutionary movement.”

  34. Mike E said

    NSPF, you make a very simple and forceful political assertion:

    “…the line in command of UCPNM is incapable of and has no intention of winning a final victory (in the immediate future) as in a revolutionary People’s Republic, I’m certain of.”

    We take you seriously. So explain it. Justify it. How and why are you so certain?

    We can then look at your political and factual explanation, and explore (on that basis) any theoretical differences we have on “how and when do we know something with certainty?”

    But please, don’t tease us. This is real life, real politics and a major issue in the world. Not a mind game.

    We have created this platform so serious people can discuss serious matters. Please use it.

    * * * * * * * *
    You write:

    “It is untenable to indefinitely promote the current line in command of the UCPN(M) under the cover of not having enough info and at the same time accusing others who refuse to do this as “condemn[ing] a whole revolutionary movement.”

    You misunderstand me:

    I think we have PLENTY of information — to see that Nepal has a revolutionary movement, a revolutionary people and an emerging revolutionary situation. We have been providing that information here — and popularizing it.

    What I believe we don’t have enough information is to think we have a detailed knowledge of what this leadership is planning at this juncture, whether it will succeed, and what our counter-proposal-from-afar would be. And I believe those who insist they know all this are not materialist — and proceed from methods that are not fully materialist.

    Your argument is that you are “certain” (!) that they are not a revolutionary movement.

    Please explain it — in a simple factual way that can be understood by those of us who have a different assessment.

  35. Rajesh said

    To NSPF, Mike Ely says, “Your argument is that you are “certain” (!) that they are not a revolutionary movement.”

    At this moment when thousands of Nepali people are on the streets of Kathmandu and several other cities of Nepal, it is simply difficult to talk about the nature of the ongoing protest movement. The mobilization of the masses is extraordinary. The red flags all over Kathnadu give a sense of joy, excitement and hope. The people are heroic and their aspirations, acts and endeavors are great. I salute them!

    The mass movement that they are participating in has been targeted to oust a rightist government, supported by India. The replacement, the Unified Maoists have proposed is a coalition government headed by their party chairman Prachanda. The proposed new government will have the same ruling parliamentary parties and the Unified Maoists. This will be, once again, a transition government. The proposed demand is evolutionary in nature. Thus, the heroic protest movement has been aligned with an evolutionary goal. In revolution, incremental change creates or expands the platform for revolutionary change. With this clarity, the present protest movement my help shorten the change process, but it will not produce revolutionary change itself.

    Let’s talk about the broder movement. The broader movement in Nepal, which was initiated by the CPN (Maoists), was a revolutionary movement that contributed remarkably in breaking down several chains of exploitations, injustices and socio-cultural ills, particulraly feudalism dominated rural societies. When the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) changed its course and became Unified Maoists party, the evolutionary nature of the movement prevailed over the revolutionary nature. Hence, the movement in Nepal is at the crossroads. The Unified Maoist leadership diluted the nature, momentum and direction of the movement. So, I generally agree with NSPF’s following assessment.

    “..the line in command of UCPNM is incapable of and has no intention of winning a final victory (in the immediate future) as in a revolutionary People’s Republic, I’m certain of.”

  36. CPSA said

    I don’t mean to personalize, but why is this debate still going on? What is the value of polemicizing to nuts who wouldn’t know a revolutionary situation if it fell on them like a piano? I suppose this is meant as an exercise in democratic discourse or something. But the goal is to grow this solidarity project isn’t it? Not to debate RCP people living in their time warped self created bubble. If they oppose us, let them exercise they’re “democratic” right to do so, what the hell do we care, as Rajesh puts it, especially at a time like this?

  37. NSPF said

    Mike in an adjacent thread writes:
    “I find such certainty bizarre — my mind wonders where such certainty comes from? What information are you working with?
    Isn’t it the result of a particular method — that exaggerates a rigid “universality” in the interpretation of important Marxist insights, and suffers from a lack of materialist humility and communist imagination.
    Speaking for myself, I honestly do not know what (precisely) the Nepali Maoists have planned. I don’t know (precisely) how their army and militia are deployed. I don’t know how they plan to deal with a military decapitation coup, or massacres. And, I don’t know whether their plans will succeed.”

    I think they are using demands for a new government, a new constitution, an end to Indian intrigues and domination, a new arrangement in land ownership as transitional demands to prepare mass forces for an actual seizure of power — forces that are (at last! finally!) capable, in a real material way, of engaging and defeating the Nepali Army. They have been stuck in a quandry where they have not had sufficient force — and they have squirmed and maneuvered, they have bought themselves time and painstakingly tried to shave off more support for themselves piece by piece. And it has brought them here — to this May First, with all that this May First has revealed.
    Perhaps, in the end, you will be proven right.”

    I am deliberately quoting Mike at length because I think this passage contains the roots of our differences in how to evaluate correctly the actual situation in Nepal. If we are not clear on how and with what to evaluate and process information then no amount of info would lead us to a correct understanding. Facts do not speak for themselves; and Mike’s position on Nepal is the proof of it.

    I’ll begin with the very last sentence in this long quote: “Perhaps, in the end, you [NSPF] will be proven right.” To me, this sounds like saying the future is unwritten. In fact Mike is very fond of this correct saying. But, when it comes to the situation in Nepal, he mis-uses and abuses this concept.
    Yes Mike, the future is unwritten, but do you seriously think if you put a stone under a hen you have a fifty-fifty chance of expecting a chick?

    Mike deliberately concentrates on the state of the nest, the ambient temprature, and the ability of the hen to fend off snakes and birds of prey and then wants us to believe that the hen is doing great.

    More to come. Slowly, but surely.

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