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December 08, 2006


the burningman

Maybe we need a revolutionary movement that doesn't conflate the tactical necessities of yesteryear with the limits of the possible.

Maybe we need a communist movement that does not derive its positions and practice from any metaphysical logic, or a priori demands of form over function.

Maybe we should approach developments in Nepal (and Venezuela and Cuba and India and Mexico and coming soon to a town near you...) with an eye to learning from them, and not seeing if they conform to our expectations, hopes and...


Maybe we need a movement more concerned with what it is doing than with what it can't.


Thanks B-Man for posting this selection of articles on the developments in Nepal. I strongly recommend that readers look through the piece by the CP of India (Maoist). It has studied the situation closely and from nearby, and has come up with the most coherent and detailed critique of the new strategy of the CPN(Maoist). This divergence is no minor matter, since they've had close relations for the last decade or more. The interview took place in June, so it's possible that more will be forthcoming in the wake of the November peace agreement.

BTW, the CPI(Maoist) is engaged in people's war in 12 states and has established liberated areas in several of them. It's also involved in a new united front organization, the Revolutionary Demoratic Front, that is active in key urban areas. So they have a certain platform from which to weigh in on events in Nepal.

Rather than repeat what the Indian Maoists have written, I'll pose two questions to chew on:

(1) Why was it not possible--and is it still possible--for the Nepalese Maoists, with their 35,000 strong PLA and a substantial and growing political base in the cities, to push ahead with their strategy of intensifying people's war in the countryside, expanding and consolidating their parallel people's government, and preparing for a coordinated armed insurrection in Kathmandu and other cities? This would break up the old state, especially the armed forces, and clear the way for a new democratic state that would actually have the power to uproot feudalism and comprador capitalism--which are represented by leading elements of the 7 parliamentary parties.

(2) Wouldn't this be preferable to merging the PLA into the US-armed Nepalese army and getting enmeshed in a new state apparatus with the anti-monarchical, but still reactionary parliamentary parties?

This isn't about whether what's going on in Nepal meets our expectations. It's whether the CPN(M)'s peaceful road strategy will realistically get the oppressed classes in Nepal where they want to go. This is not just THE big question for the Nepalese people, but for Maoist and other revolutionary movements around the world that are in the field of battle.

Christopher Day

These are good questions. Having never even been to Nepal I don't feel qualified to attempt an answer. It seems to me that a lot hinges on the cohesion of the former Royal Nepal Army forces and the degree of popular support enjoyed by the 7 parties. Undoubtedly many of the troops in the old Royal army and supporters of the 7 parties are victims of feudalism and comprador capitalism and possible recruits to the revolution. If the CPN(M) is the best organized force in the country and is able to win fair elections and turn the new Nepali Army into a school for revolution it may not eliminate the ultimate need for a showdown, but it may make such a showdown considerably less destructive of the society they inherit. You know, unite all who can be united. This is no small matter for a small, desperately poor, landlocked country.

I think it would be interesting if some of the folks who participated so actively in the discussion of Stan Goff's statement on the limitations of Leninism were to join in the discussion of Nepal. Its an exciting situation that doesn't tidily conform to anybody's template. As such it is interesting to see who is interested in it.


Hello comrades,
I think that we need to be careful not to split the ICM into two movements, especially when such a split is not occurring in India or Nepal. Thus, comrades that I know are involved in the RDF and the DSU (the legal student wing of the party in Delhi) are working closely with Nepali comrades and are optimistic about the current events in Nepal.

I think that the two questions that comrade independentmaost has asked are good questions. I think that firstly you should read Babura, Bhattarai's book "Monarchy Vs. Democracy". In that book he clearly states that there cannot be a conventional socialist revolution in Nepal for several reasons:
1) International legitimacy - if the CPN(Maoist) was to successfully lead a socialist revolution in Nepal, then the country would be completely marginalized in the international community, and without support from the USSR or China this would be disastous
2) Economics - Nepal does not have the kind of self-sustaining economy that is needed to weather such a marginalization. It is dependent on economic trade with neighboring countries especially India. By conducting a socialist revolution of the old type in Nepal, this would result in an economic isolation of the country
3. Military invasion - If there was a socialist revolution in Nepal, then it is very likely that either the Chinese or Indian governments, which are the lapdogs of American imperialism, would invade Nepal. The CPN(Ma) would be unable to deal with some an invasion.
4) New Democratic Revolution - comrades seem to have forgotten that the CPN(M) is currently in the stage for NDR not socialism, and that even Mao had come into a common front government with Chiang Kai-Shek. The comrades in Nepal are just moving into the NDR stage, and thus a socialist revolution would be pre-mature.
5) I understand that many comrades have looked to Nepal for revolutionary guidance or hope, but I think that we need to recognize that there is only proletarian internationalism in solidarity. The Nepali people and comrades are not going to martyr themselves for some abstract notion of revolution that comrades in America hoid. They need to do with the realities and practicalities of the situation and deal with the death that comes along with their decisions. I think it is interesting that comrades find the new peaceful path risky, it isnt like the PPW was not risky and will not continue to be risky (it is not a sure path). Comrades in America's #1 role should be to ferment revolution in America to ensure that movements in Nepal have the necessary resources needed to make their revolutionary movements successful.

These are some of my thoughts on the above statements and questions. I apologize if I seem harsh and rude.

more resources

Reason and Revolution blog has been putting news updates on Nepal pretty regularly.

Seems like there is some reporting going on. Ever notice how whenever you know even a little bit about something in the news, it's so obvious the reporters usually have no idea what's even happening right in front of them. If it doesn't fit what is supposed-to-be, they just pretend like it does.



I think your list of articles is lacking an important document:

2. Two strong parties of South Asia, Communist party of Nepal (Maoist) and Communist Party of India (Maoist) have issued joint press statement on the recent debates between two parties on August 8, 2006. They have also released statement condemning the brutal attack on Lebanon. The full text of both statements is as follow:-


The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) jointly re-assert their firm commitment to proletarian internationalism, mutual fraternal relations, on the basis of MLM. All tactical questions are being adopted in the respective countries are the sole concern of the parties operating there. Both parties will seek to learn from the positive experiences of the other party as also the experiences of the Maoists who comprise the ICM.

While doing so we shall continue debates on ideological, political and strategic issues on which we differ in the true democratic traditions of the international communist movement. These debates and discussions will take place bilaterally and occasionally, publicly. Such differences are inevitable as struggles in the sphere of ideas are inevitable in a class society, which, as Engel's said, is a reflection of the class struggle in society.

Lately a section of the media has tried to blow out of proportion differences that have been expressed by the two parties publicly. It is in the interests of the reactionaries that Maoists divide and split continuously. It is then no wonder that a section of the media has sought to exaggerate the differences in India and Nepal.

The two parties once again re-assert their firm unity in the spirit of proletarian internationalism while continuing healthy debates and discussions on issues on which we differ.

The CPN (Maoist) and CPI (Maoist) jointly condemn the brutal attack of the America-backed Israeli regime against the people of Lebanon. In the name Of attacking the guerrilla resistances, they have resorted to mass massacre, killing about 1,000 and displacing 25f the population of Lebanon. The Zionist genocide regime, acting as the front paw of the US imperialists, is becoming more and fiercer throughout the world, and this is yet another adventure against an independent country.

Not satisfied with being bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US stooges are facing stiff resistance in Lebanon. The attack on Lebanon is fraught with great dangers as the forces fighting there have the strong backing of Syria and Iran. If the war escalates, it can engulf the entire West Asia.

Even in South Asia, the US imperialists are more and more openly intervening in the countries of the region. Particularly in Nepal and India, they have been directly intervening in the suppression of the Maoist movements. As part of their direct intervention, the US officers have themselves been training the RNA and even entering every sphere of society to subvert the ongoing anti-monarchical movement. In India, the US diplomats have been openly visiting Chhatisgargh and the military-run jungle warfare camp as part of their plans to suppress the Maoists.

We, the Maoist parties of Nepal and India strongly condemn the blatant aggression of Lebanon and call for the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops and an end to the bombing of civilian targets by the Zionists. The two parties also call for the immediate end of the interference by the US in the internal affairs of Nepal and India and the other countries of South Asia.

Azad Satya
Spokesperson CPI (Maoist) CCM CPN (Maoist)

August 8 2006


I would comment on this issue, but I don't have a clear opinion on it. I think coming to any kind of conclusion is going to require a more thorough approach than simply reading articles and statements. In lieu of having done some more concrete investigation I take the lead of the CPI(M) on the issue, as expressed in the above statement.


I think that Chris makes good points about where the rank and file of the Nepalese Army and the 7 parties will line up. But I'm skeptical that the new merged army can be turned into a "school for revolution."

Thanks repeater for posting the joint statement of the CPN(M) and the CPI(Maoist) concerning their relationship at present. However, I think their divergence will become more pronounced as the peace agreement is implemented and Prachanda asserts that the CPN(M)'s new strategy is universallu valid in the 21st century. Here's a quote from his interview with The Hindu in February that did not sit well with the Indian comrades:

Varadarajan: To what extent do you think the logic of your line on multiparty democracy applies also to the Maoist movements in India?
Prachanda: We believe it applies to them too. We want to debate this. They have to understand this and go down this route. Both on the questions of leadership and on multiparty democracy, or rather multiparty competition, those who call themselves revolutionaries in India need to think about these issues. And there is a need to go in the direction of that practice. We wish to debate with them on this. If revolutionaries are not going to look at the need for ideological development, then they will not go anywhere.

Brown Fist, thanks for your forthright views. However, I disagree with you on your points.

(1) International legitimacy: It would not be disatrous if the CPN(M) led a socialist revolution and was "isolated in the international community." It would be difficult, just as it was after the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union was the only socialist country in the world. It faced a grave threat from the German Army which was advancing on Petrograd in 1918, and from three years of civil war and intevention by all the major imperialist powers. But the Soviet Union made it through all of this. By the way, the task before the Nepalese Maoists is not a socialist revolution, but a new democratic revolution aimed at uprooting feudalism, comprador capitalism and imperialism in Nepal. The socialist stage follows when the conditions for it mature.

(2) Economics: You say that Nepal does not have a self-sustaining economy and is dependent on trade with India. No "underdeveloped" country in the third world has such an economy because they are dominated by imperialism. More importantly, this seriously underestimates the people of Nepal, who are capable of building a self-reliant economy and finding new trading partners, just as the Soviet Union and China did when they were socialist countries. Their international isolation was a minor contributing factor in the restoration of capitalism there, which was overwhelmingly due to an unfavorable resolution of the class struggle that continues in socialist society.

(3) Millitary Intervention: You say that the CPN(M) would be unable to defeat a military invasion by the India or China. Prior to the turn to a peaceful strategy, the CPN(M) spoke of leading a national war in the event of US-supported Indian intervention. Mao and the CCP pioneered that strategy against the Japanese aggressors and occupiers during WW2. It was protracted, but they were successful. Many lives were lost, but what choice did they have? Yes, Nepal is a much smaller country, but India doesn't have an unrestricted hand in invading a neighboring country. As the Indian Maoists comment in their article, in the event of Indian intervention in Nepal, the Nepalese Maoists would have to respond with a lot of tactical flexibility both internally and in their relations with other countries. And an Indian invasion could also lead to a strong anti-intervention movement in India itself, where several million Nepalese migrant workers live, and in other countries. Overall, you are overestimating the strength of imperialism and its regional gendarme, and underestimating the strength of the Nepalese people and those who support them around the world.

(4) New Democratic Revolution: I agree that a socialist revolution would be premature. No one is suggesting that this is on the agenda, except maybe some Trots. However, Mao and the CCP never "came into a common front government with Chiang Kai-shek." They tried to get the Guomindang and its armies to fight the Japanese instead of the Red Army, and fought the GMD tit-for-tat throughout the united front period. After the victory over Japan, the CCP negotiated with Chiang for tactical reasons, but they never gave up their guns. As Mao said, "without a people's army the people have nothing." This is still true today in countries where protracted people's war is necessary to defeat the imperialists and their local lap-dogs.

(5) No one is asking the Nepalese comrades to "martyr themselves for some abstract notion of revolution" that people in the U.S. may have. By this logic, the CPN(M) shouldn't have launched the people's war in the first place, because it meant that thousands of people--revolutionary soldiers and civilians alike--lost their lives. The fundamental question is whether the urgent needs of the oppressed peoples of Nepal are going to be met by the new peaceful development strategy. A great deal of historical experience suggests that this won't happen without continuing and intensifying the revolutionary struggle to dismantle the current state apparatus in Nepal. Yes lives will be lost, but many more will be lost in the future due to deep poverty and neglect if the new democratic revolution is not carried through to victory.


I don't think that exacerbating or anticipating the differences between the two groups is a worthy project. I think we should let them handle that. What is of utmost importance is unity between the two parties, and the two revolutionary movements.

What I suspect is the main thing limiting the Nepalese is the possible intervention of the Indian state. The revolution in South Asia depends on what happens in India, and I think the CPI(M) and CPN(M) know it. If they have come to an agreement, which I think is principled and should guide all of us, I think we should trust them to know better than us what is at stake and how to navigate. At any rate, we (on this board) couldn't have much of a positive impact on the situation there, even if we were right about certain criticisms.

As brownfist said, our primary interest should be closer to home. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be critical or discuss these things, but we should be very concerned with what exactly the limits of, and the purposes of, any such conversation actually are with regards to our knowledge of the situation in South Asia, and how such a discussion can help us or our friends in South Asia advance.

Moreover, we've been trying to do this thing for about 90yrs, at least 50 more years than anyone in South Asia, and you don't hear any of them telling us how to do it right, do you?


Comrade independentmaoist,
With due respect I do not think you are looking appropriately at the material differences between the USSR/China and Nepal.

1) International legitimacy and economic conditions in relation to Nepal are completely different from those of the USSR and China. Both of those countries had several factors that aided their revolutions a) their relative size b) their relative size of populations c) their economic resources d) the global context was completely different especially in relation to the nature of imperialism e)their geographical locations f) the historical moments in which they occured. This is why I am cautioning you and all other comrades at only looking at the historical experiences of China and the USSR and not the relevant historico-material conditions being experienced by Nepal today.

2) Military conditions - The arguement that I put forward was not one that I had come to myself. Rather, I reiterated the inflections made by Com. Baburam Bhattarai. Yes, it is more than likely that the Indian government would be allowed by the US imperialists to invade Nepal to re-establish "rule and order", and that the Nepalese maoists would engage in a possibly successful guerrila war. However, as in the case of any guerrila war (take Peru for example), a guerrila war can also collapse and allow for victories on the imperialist side. But, I think that we need to recognize that the Nepalese maoists need the Indian maoists or some other communist party in India to ward off such an attack. This role has been currently been occupied by the revisionist CPI(Marxist). The only reason that we saw the release of Comrades Kiran and Gaurav was because of the CPI(Marxist) and the only reason that CPN(M) can operate in Delhi is with the blessing of the CPI(Marxist).

3) The PLA and NDR - I think that we need to recognize two things in both of these contexts a) the PLA due to its ideological training will always be loyal to the CPN(M), and through this programtic inlusion within the RNA will be able to influence one of the last institutions that remains loyal to the king. Furthermore, the PLA will have access to armaments which till now have not been available. b) The party itself is not committing itself to the electoral process. Majority of the politbureau will not be entering the parliament, and will continue to function outside of the party. This is because of the lessons learnt from 1991-1996 when Com. Prachanda and Com. Bhattarai were MP's in the parliament. The CPN(M) was able to successfully wage PPW for 10 years after parliamentary procedure, and if this new government does not succeed they can always re-start the war. Also, Lenin did argue that the communist party should use legal methods when available. If there are no gains then the party will do what it did in 1996. I do not underestimate the people or the party, but rather choose to look at the historico-materials conditions in which they operate.

4) Com. Repeater I understand the gist of your statement, and I appreciate the statement however, I disagree with your last statement. The South-Asians have been trying for different kinds of revolution for 100 years. We had been fighting anti-colonial struggles for hundreds of years. We engaged in socialist revolutionary politics as early as any movement in North America and have had successes. The Indian party was one of the first to be formed in the world outside of Europe, and many of the earlier communist leaders even helped form parties in places like Mexico. Indeed some of the original revolutionary action that takes place in the US is due to South-Asian revolutionaries living in the USA (like the Ghadr Party). I think that the American comrades should be critical of movement in South Asia, but they should also look at the fact that the movement in North America is small and understand why. Unfortunately I find that most comrades have very little understanding of the communist movement in the USA, and very few people have engaged in honest critiques and summing up's of past movement which results in party's making the same mistakes again and again. Furthermore, I find that American comrades who identify as maoist are more likely to just answer the above question with a simple answer that it was due to revisionism in the CP(USA) and not deal with the real questions. I know that several members of the RCP(USA) are on this blog, and that even Burningman is a supporter if not a member, but then they need to explain why is it that the RCP(USA) remains a marginal if not inconsequential force in America today.

I think a discussion of Nepal or South Asia should lead to an inflection of revolutionary poltiics and movements in America.


I think independentmaoist raises valid concerns, if we – or the CPN(M) were trying to build a revolutionary movement, of the old type. What is so daring and inspiring about Nepal is that they are breaking new ground, while deeply studying the events and strategies of the last century, and there affects on the ICM overall. It would be presumptuous to begin throwing labels around about what line the CPN(M) is developing, before it is even developed. I certainly share independentmaoist's concerns about the direction of the revolution in Nepal – the dissolving of the forms of People's Power that were developed by a decade or so of genuine People's War – definitely has me uneasy, but at the same time, the leadership and experienced comrades that developed these forms, also led their destruction. Right conservative thinking and attitudes towards new breakthroughs – like the ones in Nepal, can swallow up what should be joyful support for our Nepalese comrades.

On the Question of Multiple Parties: The Nepalese comrades are proving that multiple parties, and contending elections can serve the proletarian movement, and serve the building of the new democratic phase and eventual socialist phase. The old dogmato-revisionist line and the monolithic view on the Party didn't work. It served revisionist forces, and the decay and eventual overthrow of all proletarian power in formerly socialist societies. It created formal means of unaccountability, and contributed to the separation of the revolutionary party and the masses.

The Question of Mass Line: Lenin said the vanguard of the revolution can only succeed if it keeps connected to the masses, that the very fate of the revolution depended on it. The old ways kept democracy institutionalized, and rigid, until ultimately connection with the masses was lost, and the society changed colors. Keeping these lessons in mind, the Nepalese have struggled for methods and forms that continually proletarize the Party, and make revisionist methods difficult. They have repeatedly shown this.

We should consider that during times of revolutionary change, its easy to get swept away into the cynical outlook that has plagued the ICM for too long. It's a way of saying “The old way was working fine, we don't need to change anything!” Yeah, the CPN(M) is doing things in a new way – but new doesn't equate to revisionism.

Karl Marx

"In every revolution there intrude, at the side of its true agents, men of a different stamp; some of them survivors and devotees of past revolutions, without insight into the present movement... others mere bawlers, who, by dint of repeating year after year the same set of stereotyped declamations against the Government of the day, have sneaked into the reputation of revolutionists of the first water... As far as their power went, they hampered the real action of the working class, exactly as men of that sort have hampered the full development of every previous revolution. They are an unavoidable evil; with time they are shaken off..."
Karl Marx, The Civil War in France (MECW vol. 22, p. 341)

Karl Marx

"[I]n order to work out their own emancipation, and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistibly tending by its own economical agencies, they will have to pass through long struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming circumstances and men. They have no ideals to realize, but to set free elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant. In the full consciousness of their historic mission, and with the heroic resolve to act up to it, the working class can afford to smile at the coarse invective of the gentlemen's gentlemen with the pen and inkhorn, and at the didactic patronage of well-wishing bourgeois doctrinaires, pouring forth their ignorant platitudes and sectarian crochets in the oracular tone of scientific infallibility."
Karl Marx, The Civil War in France (MECW vol. 22, p. 335-336)

the burningman

Brownfist: Welcome to the discussion – you might want to introduce yourself here, as you see fit.

People who post detailed criticism and queries can share their basic politics and history to avoid doing it in every post.

I do have to remind readers and participants that this is an independent forum. It is not an official or semi-official discussion board for any political party. Don't try to read between lines for what you're not getting elsewhere.

As this is the internet, don't even assume what country people are writing from!

proletarian internationalist

If Nepal is the "fuse of South Asia," then India is da' bomb.

The unique necessities of Nepal, as all nations are unique in their ways, are real – and establishing a democratic republic as part of the regional awakening is nothing to sneeze at.


Dismantling local forms of popular authoirty and returning land to the corrupt leaders of the 7-parties. You cannot buy peace because corruption is an endless hunger. These parties have shown that they will do anything to save their position as privileged fake leaders of the people, really middlemen between the oppressed and the oppressor.

If there is to be liberation in Nepal – it must go further than the king. It must involve the total dismantling of the existing state structure and its armed forces.

Respect the "wait and see" attitude. Celebrate the gains for the people so far, for women and opprseed nationalities in Nepal. For the end of the religious state and a secular constitution! No small things if you know Nepal.

Also: The United Nations is a tool of imperialism. Treating it as a fair partner for peace is a fool's mistake. Look at how they treat Israel, Britain and America! There is no crime so great.

From the article I link to here:

This article from an Indian leftist publication is most interesting.

"As Comrade Baburam Bhattarai, ideologue and Prachanda’s shadow, said in as many words, surrounded by all the top left leaders of the Indian Left in Delhi: “Despite being a vibrant democracy, the Indian model is not what we would like to emulate. Because there is still so much poverty, discrimination and exploitation in India.”

"Prachanda was more forthright. The Stalinist model is out; it was a “political, metaphysical and ideological mistake”. The Leninist model is in, because if Lenin had been alive he would have initiated a socialistic competitive logic, as he clearly outlined in his new economic policy, which accepts a multi-party polarisation in the context of its times. In that case, in his own manner, Prachanda re-emphasised what writer Tariq Ali has recently stated, that one-party rule might inevitably lead to a totalitarian dictatorship, as was the ‘mistake’ committed by the Stalinist leadership.

"Indeed, surrounded by mostly Stalinist ideologues of the ‘official Left’ – the CPI(M) and CPI – at the NCP headquarters in Delhi, both Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai seemed a bit out of sync. When this reporter asked if India is a failed democracy which the Maoists will not really like to emulate, and while sharing a dais with top Left leaders, will the Maoist leadership agree that the Indian mainline Left has failed both the Indian democracy and the Indian revolution, and if there will ever be a ‘revolutionary transformation’ in India, Bhattarai sounded rather diplomatically apologetic: “This is a question best answered by the Indian Left itself.”



You're right to correct me; for some reason I was thinking about the beginnings of communist politics in the U.S. during the early part of the 20th century and judging that in relation to the beginnings of the Naxalite movement in South Asia. Very wrong of me, and of course communists and socialists of one stripe or another have been active in South Asia for much longer than the Spring Thunder.


Hello all,

Since my old buddy Chris specifically asked who else was interested in the Nepalese situation, I’ll throw my anarchist-communist hat in the ring (although parenting duties and a day job will keep me from turning this into yet another long-winded debate between anarchists and Leninists). Like most of you, I think, I’m drawn to the events in Nepal because they appear to present us with a living example of dual power on a significant geographic and numeric scale, although the recent peace accords and such have obviously called into question the outcome of the situation.

As an anarchist, I (predictably) am skeptical of the stage-theory approach taken by the CPN(M) in describing their goal as a “national democratic revolution,” which I think more or less inevitably leads to precisely the sort of accommodations currently being made to the seven parties. Of course, comparable accommodations were made by the Bolsheviks between February and October of 1917, only to be followed by a bold revolutionary take-over. But then again as an anarchist I view the aftermath of 1917 as largely predictable (and largely negative), and at least partly a result of the stage-theory based assumption that communism requires first the consolidation of a capitalist stage of economic development. I imagine similar outcomes will be forthcoming on a smaller scale in Nepal, but this doesn’t keep me for paying attention to the process itself.

At the same time, I do not scoff at the meaningful gains possible under even a fatally flawed revolutionary regime like the Bolsheviks. In the case of Nepal, if it is true that the CPN(M) have helped reduce the material misery (malnutrition, illiteracy, etc.) of the rural parts of the country, then I am happy, though not uncritical. In general, I am interested in the current events there both because of the opening created by the revolutionary situation and because of the logistical accomplishments that have been made by the CPN(M). (Similar interests propel my ongoing research in a very different direction, the history of the unorthodox Leninism of the Sojourner Truth Organization here in the US during the seventies and eighties.) In any event, parallel accomplishments to those on display in Nepal, accompanied by a less rigidly stage-like strategy, will be needed everywhere else if global capitalism is actually to be overthrown rather than recreated as in every other “socialist” state.


Christopher Day

Thanks for the comments Mike. For future reference, NDR refers to the "New (not National) Democratic Revolution," Mao's formulation of the character of the first stage of the revolutionary process in China (and presumably elsewhere) which is democratic in the sense that it includes tasks appropriate to bourgeois democratic revolutions, but is new because it is occuring in the age of proletarian revolution and under proletarian leadership.

I think the way you formulate the question of "stages" is incorrect and reflects the underlying idealism of anarchism. The stages of the revolution presently taking place in Nepal are not a result of the CPN(M) deciding that stages are neccesary according to some abstract "stage theory" and therefore imposing them on the process. Rather the stages reflect an actual sequential logic inherent in any attempt to carry out a socialist revolution. We recognize these sorts of sequential logics all the time in our lives ("if I want to eventually marry this beautiful person I'd better introduce myself and ask him/her out on a date first" or "if I want a cup of coffee I'm going to have to put some water in the coffee maker first.") But the quite similar proposition, that a political revolution that sweeps aside the more rotten features of the old order is a pre-requisite to the much more ambitious process of completely uprooting capitalist relations, is derided by anarchists as some sort of attempt to impose a template on the revolutionary process that only holds things back. The best evidence for the neccesity of passing through transitional stages is the Spanish Revolution, particularly in Catalonia, where the anarchists, who in fact constituted the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat, were compelled by the iron logic of the situation to enter into the Republican government and form alliances with what Mao called the patriotic bourgeoisie (paradoxically represented in this instance by the Spanish Communist Party, but thats another story). It was precisely the anarchists theoretical incoherence in the face of the tasks that arose from this logic that left them at the not-so-tender mercies of the Stalinists with the result that leadership passed from (confused) proletarian revolutionaries to bourgeois forces (thinly veiled as communists). It would not be the last time that the red flag was used to fight the red (and, in this case, black) flag.

The point is that the question of whether there are stages in a revolutionary process is not a choice, but the recognition of it is a choice. And if you choose not to recognize the stages inherent in the process, others will not and will take advantage of your misassessment to set back the revolutionary process, often at enormous human costs.

Now while there is a general logic to these things it is not something that looks exactly the same each time. So real-life revolutionaries can only draw so many conclusions from historical experience before they must face what is new and distinct in their situation. Whether the CPN(M) has done this correctly in the present circumstances we won't know for some time.

Maybe some of the criticisms levelled here and elsewhere to the effect that they are making potentially fatal errors are correct. But even if this is so, it is not because thre aren't stages in the revolutionary process. Even if the CPN(M) could continue carrying out peoples war and sweep away the royal army and the 7 parties and consolidate the organs of popular power as the sovereign power in Nepal they would have a whole other set of transitional tasks before them before they could claim to have destroyed capitalism in Nepal. Indeed the very idea that capitalism could be destyroyed in Nepal without revolutionary processes being considerably more advanced elsewhere is preposterous.

As soon as you start looking really closely at an actual revolution confronting the real obstacles thrown up by both the general situation of the world and the particular situation of a given national society, the incoherence of the anarchist insistence that one dispense with stages comes into stark relief. The world revolutionary process develops unevenly, reflecting the uneven development of capitalism itself. This has meant, and will continue to mean for some time, that revolutionary upsurges will be confined to particular regions and countries and will continue to find themselves in the situation of trying to maintain themselves as islands of consolidated populoar power in the sea of world capitalism.

"Dual power" is by definition a stage in a revolutionary process. It implies a situation in which popular power coexists with the power of the old society. The task of decisively smashing and doing away with the old power is incomplete. In a sense the consolidation of a particular national revolution represents simply a shift in the scale on which the situation of dual power continues.

more later....

the anti-CNT

For a comprehensive look at the dynamics of the spanish revolution simply read here

Contrary to Chris's predictable remarks, the failure of the anarchists in spain came down to simple inconsistancy with anarchist principles, formalized organization, the spookiness of anti-fascism, ect.

The difference between this and what the bolshevics did is that the boshevics were more consistant in their theory, thus is was a trainwreck waiting to happen.


I don't think we should convert this topic to the Spanish revolution, or the merits of anarchism over Stalinism.

I think we should analyze the Spanish (and Bolshevik, Chinese, etc.) revolutions and see how this relates, and does not relate to the objective conditions in Nepal.

And for my part, I would really like to see this develop into a conversation relating to the mass line, and how it relates to Nepal, and even in the U.S. - and how the dynamic play of events in Nepal with the intervention of a Maoist revolutionary party, by fully utilizing the mass line can achieve victory - and what that means for the international revolutionary movement.

8th Grade Nerd

But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Christopher Day

The situations in Spain and Nepal are, of course, different in many ways. But there are also fundamental underlying similarities. Both cases involve a dedicated revolutionary movement (the CNT/FAI and the CPN(M)) with deep roots among the most oppressed classes that confronted a collapsing reactionary regime strongly rooted in feudal or semi-feudal traditions. In both cases the revolutionaries experienced both an explosion in the organization of popular power AND an even broader upsurge of revulsion against the old order that swept up all sorts of middle forces that weren't prepared to support a total social revolution (though maany adopted the rhetoric).

I would argue that no revolutionaray movement gets anywhere without practicing the mass line, at least unconciously. So I would argue that CNT/FAI were only able to establish such deep roots and broad influence within the proletariat and peasantry of Spain by a practice of "go to the masses and learn from them, synthesize their experience into better, articulated principles and methods, then do propaganda among the masses, and call upon them to put these principles and methods into practice so as to solve these problems and help them achieve liberation and happiness."

The problems arise I believe when this process is a largely unconscious one without effective centralized leadership synthesizing what is going on in different places and sectors and suddenly the revolutionaries find themselves thrust into a rapidly developing revolutionary situation. The result in Spain was that many rank and file anarchists involved in the excitement of collectivization or the camraderie of the militias saw this as the ONLY thing happening. Meanwhile the leadership of the CNT found themselves drawn into a world of political coalitions and intrigues, which also reflected an important piece of the actual situation. But because they lacked a systematically elaborated theory of leadership (a theory of the mass line) the anarchist movement fractured and was unable to pursue a unified policy. Saying that this was a consequence of "abandoning anarchist prionciples" is empty dogmatism. Certainly the decisions of the CNT leaders violated anarchist principles as commonly understood. The important question is WHY events compelled them to do so -- was it just some sort of inexplicable moral failing or was there an underlying material basis -- and WHY the relationship between the leadership and the base of the organization was unable to weather an actual revolutionary situation.

Like the CNT, the CPN(M) has entered into a governing coalition and is making compromises that potentially involve the weakening of the organs of popular power and the incorporation of their revolutionary armed forces into a national army. The critical difference, I believe, is that the CPN(M) through the conscious application of the mass line, has forged much a more unified revolutionary organization with a stronger base among the masses. This enables them to enter into a situation like this in a considerably stronger position than the CNT was able to witha greater likliehood that they will be able to navigate its challenges and win. This is of course the biggest difference between the Spanish anarchists and the Nepali Maoists -- we already know that the anarchists lost.

It is said that defeated armies learn best. But in order for that to be the case there must be a unified leadership able to actually synthesize the experiences of defeat and turn them into lessons for the future. Despite the noble efforts of small groups like the Friends of Durrutti, this is something the Spanish anarchists could not do, with the result that even today the prevailing analysis of what went wrong is the old chestnut of all defeated forces in denial, "the stab in the back."

Chuck Morse

I appreciate the high quality of discussion on this site as a whole (but Chris, you’re obsessed with anarchism: don’t worry, we won’t hurt you).

Chris, do I understand this correctly: you’re arguing that there’s no possible way that the Nepalese Maoists can make a communist revolution now? Is *that* your communist defense of their communist movement? . . . Just checking.

Christopher Day

First, yes its true. My relationship to anarchism is something akin to that of a recovering alcoholic to their wayward past. I try to restrain myself, but every so often I get sucked into these sorts of exchanges.

Chuck, you understand me correctly in the following sense: First, communism can't be established in any single country, and certainly not one of the size and economic condition of Nepal. Communism, in the sense of the actual abolition of capitalist class relations is, I believe, neccesarily attainable only on a world scale. Second, even a socialist revolution in Nepal would be greatly restricted by the present international situation. By socialism I mean a transitional period in which the historically oppressed classes exercise political hegemony but in which capitalism is not neccesarily vanquished and many features of the old society persist. Nepal could take some steps down the socialist road but the difficulties of going much further in the absence of a more advanced revolutionary situation in India would probably be insurmountable. My inclination is to support the CPN(M)'s assessment that the present configuration of forces can support a "new democratic revolution" in which they are able to carry out certain important reforms in the framework of an alliance with anti-feudal and anti-imperialist elements in the upper and intermediate strata. How long this period will last and when the opportunities will exist for attempting to take things further down the socialist road is hard to say (particularly given my extremely limited knowledge of the situation).

On first glance this idea of different stages may seem seem sort of mechanical. But I don't think it is. I think it stands to reason that the establishment of genuine and total popular power would be a process and not an event that occurs in a week or even a year and that it is useful to try to distinguish the different phases in this highly complex process even though the precise configurations of all the simultaneous transformations involved are going to be importantly variable. The best yardsticks we have for this (and the best indication of the considerable heterogeneity involved) is previous historical experiences.

So, it is worth distinguishing between a situation in which the political power of the oppressed classes is largely latent and a situation of dual power in which organs of popular power coexist with the capitalist state. It is similarly worth distinguishing between a situation of dual power and a situation in which the organizations of the oppressed classes can compel a fraction of the old ruling classes to formally share power. It is also worth distinguishing between this phase and a situation in which the organizations of the oppressed can assert hegemony and rule over the old classes. Finally it is worth distinguishing between this third situation and one in which the old classes have actually ceased to exist and the tendencies of the society to reproduce them have actually been extinguished. Within all this there are all sorts of other important distinctions worth making in terms of, for example, the status of women, or various historically oppressed nationalities, the disabled, queer folks.

As an anarchist I viewed these attempts to make distinctions like those above as nothing more than apologies for the persistence of oppression in ostensibly socialist societies, as the self-justifying jargon of the nomeklatura. And to be sure they can be deployed that way. But that doesn't mean they don't reflect real underlying logics. Anarchism is absolutely incoherent when it comes to theorizing this process of transition (as a trip to the linked FAQ on the Spanish Revolution will demonstrate). Anarchism really only makes sense as a doctrine of immediate and total change with no allowance for transitions. But at the end of the day it is precisely the question of how to navigate the protracted transition from capitalism to communism with all that it throws at us on which the prospects for the latter rests.

Chuck Morse

Chris, given the frequency of your posts on the topic, sometimes I wonder you're trying to turn this into a blog on anarchism instead of communism.

Anyway, let me see if I understand this: the Nepalese Maoists are fighting for bourgeois democracy and you support that. Is that correct?

If that is the case, what distinguishes you from any other bourgeois democrat in the world (you name 'em: Bono, Hillary Clinton, Michele Bachelet, etc etc) ? And what distinguishes the Maoists from any other social democratic party (the Italian Communist Party, the Iraqi Communist Party, the French Socialists, etc etc etc)?

Really, what are the differences?

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