Nepal – Revolutionary Land Reform: Essence and Aim
Posted by hetty7 on August 24, 2011
This is from The Red Star – Vol. 2 No. 4 Feb 16-28 2009
The Kasama reporting team of Winter Has Its End is now in Nepal. In their first article -New Nepal One Year Later: Still Waiting to be Born – they were able to talk to one of the peasant leaders .
“One peasant leader shared with us the stories of intense debate taking place over revolutionary land reform within the countries constituent assembly. The other parties (the UML and the Nepali Congress, the former status quo-ist party and the latter a proponent of corrupt Indian-style capitalism) have fiercely opposed revolutionary land reform. The revolutionary land reform would include confiscation of large land holdings by a wealthy upper class,distribution of land to those who work that land, and the development of radical forms of collective work among the peasants – pooliing their labor to make it possible to build schools, roads, irrigation and sanitation.”
The following article is from The Red Star – Volume 2, Number 4. Feb. 16-28 2009.
Revolutionary Land Reform: Essence and Aim
Krishna Das Shrestha
The economic problems that are being faced by the feudal and semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries in the world , is basically an agrarian problem. Nepal belongs to the same category of these countries and the main problem that Nepal has to solve in the peasant situation is the land problem. The solution of this problem is the most democratic task, which is a very difficult and painstaking task as well.
The Nepalese Revolution is now passing through the democratic stage and we call it the stage of bourgeois democratic revolution. Accomplishment of this democratic revolution is essentially and basically anti-feudal revolution. The main economic foundation of feudalism is feudal land system, and unless this foundation is destroyed, feudalism will not and cannot be demolished at all.
This indicates the necessity of revolutionary transformation of the existing land-relations and what we call revolutionary land reform signifies mainly this very transformation. As s matter of fact, the establishment of peasants’ land ownership by abolishing feudal land ownership is the soul and main essence of democratic revolution. To do this is to accomplish agrarian revolution and it is the way to solve the existing land problem democratically in the interests of the peasant masses. To set up peasants’ ownership over the land is the main essence of the theory of land to the tiller.
A topic that is being discussed now in various quarters and among the broad masses of people in our country is the building of a new Nepal. Similarly, historic advancements, socio-economic transformation etc. are also submitted on the list of discussion.
At present, the main obstacle on the path of our country’s development is the feudal ownership. It is quite useless and meaningless to talk of the building of a new Nepal, with socio-economic transformation, by keeping this medieval system intact or by making minor reforms on it. The task of the highest priority that should be accomplished in order to advance towards the building of New Nepal or towards the revolutionary transformation of our society is the abolition of feudal land ownership and the establishment of peasants’ ownership.
The abolition of feudal relations of production will pave the way to develop productive forces in the country and will provide a stimulus and base for the great historical advance. After emancipating the masses from feudal exploitation and oppression, it will provide them opportunities for the full utilization of their inherent abilities in agricultural development and that will raise their living standard. Therefore. the realization of the agrarian revolution will open the way to the agricultural development, which will supply raw materials for the industrial development of the country and will create and consolidate wide domestic market needed for the development of national economy. Therefore, the socio-economic transformation in the country should be begun through the revolutionary solution of agrarian problem.
The peasants have been struggling in various ways against feudal exploitation since a long time. They had hoped from the former various governments formed after 2007 BS (1951) for their right of ownership to be established. The then governments had given assurance, but they achieved nothing from them except empty assurances and deception. Some of the policies in different times have been quite ineffective and fruitless. So up to now the peasants ownership has not been established.
In this context, during the decade long People’s War, the rural people in some places have occupied the land of the feudal lords and are using them to solve their problems under the interests of agricultural development. In this act of land seizure, they are using their basic human right to get right of ownership on land which they are tilling. In this revolutionary practical action of the Nepalese peasants, we see the practical confirmation of the idea expressed in Engel’s Letter of 15th August 1870 to Marx that a people that gets nothing but kicks and blows is indeed the right one to make social revolution.
By taking the above action, the peasant masses awakened and inspired by the People’s War, which had aim to abolish feudalism. have practically applied the theory of ” land to the tiller” and are using their fundamental human right.
The present government led by the Maoist party has formed land reform commission. We have to see what kind of land reform program the commission would make and how and in what manner it would implement it.
As said above, to abolish feudal land ownership is the foremost and primary task to be done in the economic sector. Whether land reform is revolutionary or not must be judged on the basis of the commission’s policy towards the task and of its manner of implementing the policy. The main policy of revolutionary land reform is “land to the tillers”. Therefore the reform program must be guided by the real sense and spirit of that principle. A truly revolutionary program must set itself to accomplish the following tasks:
1. The confiscation of land property of feudal lords without compensation and the transfer it to the tillers and poor peasants.
2. The abolition of debt taken by the peasants from the landlords, usurers, banks etc.
3. The emancipation of the peasants from all kinds of feudal exploitation and oppression.
4. Gratis distribution of cultivable follow land to the landless and poor peasants.
The implementation of this program of revolutionary transformation of the existing feudal land relations , if begun from the above, can never be successfully realized. The tasks of its implementation must be left to this supervision and responsibility of the poor peasants, under the supervision of the peasant committees.
Here it must not be forgotten that the implement of this pioneer program of some epoch-making change cannot be realized by the enactment of law only and in a peaceful way.
It can be realized only through a difficult and intense struggle, through the organized struggle of the peasants against the feudal landowners in the rural areas. As such a program runs counter to the class interests of the feudal lords, they will use all their power and every means to foil it or not to allow it to be carried out rightly. Therefore, naturally its implementation will take the form of intense class struggle, and it can realize itself through such struggle.