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January 19, 2007

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FT

Good assessment from Reason and Revolution blog.

http://reason-and-revolution.blogspot.com/2007/01/strategy-and-tactics.html

FT

More from Reason & Revolution (I think a repost of some other article):

Kathmandu, Jan 17 Fresh tensions erupted between Nepal's Maoists and the seven-party government over power sharing, hours after the guerrillas joined parliament, signifying a formal end to their decade-old armed uprising.

The three major parties in the government and the communist rebels are now deadlocked over the key posts in the new parliament as well as the new government that will be formed after the Maoist disarmament is complete.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who heads the Nepali Congress, the biggest party in the new house with 85 legislators, is scheduled to begin negotiations with Maoist supremo Prachanda and other senior leaders Wednesday.

The Maoists are now the second biggest party, along with the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), with both holding 83 seats each.

With the rebels' entry in the 330-seat house, deposed premier Sher Bahadur Deuba's Nepali Congress-Democratic has fallen to third place with 48 legislators.

The current Speaker Subhash Nembang is from the UML. His appointment came after a fierce tussle with Deuba's party last year who finally had to settle for the post of deputy speaker.

'Everything will be changed,' Maoist chief Prachanda told the media on the eve of his party joining parliament. 'There will be a new speaker and deputy.'

The eight parties failed to reach an agreement on the two posts Monday, when the old house was dissolved and a new one convened. The tussle is likely to increase once the Maoists join the government.

'We have a verbal understanding that Koirala will remain prime minister in the new government but it is not irreversible,' Krishna Bahadur Mahara, newly appointed chief of the Maoists' parliamentary party, said.

Reports say the Maoists want the post of deputy prime minister if they can't get the speaker's post.

Currently, Nepal has two deputy prime ministers - K.P. Oli, a UML member who is also foreign minister, and Amik Sherchan from People's Front Nepal, who is also health minister. It remains to be seen if the new government will have a third deputy prime minister or if one of the current ones will be axed.

The media has already started speculating that Oli will be replaced by Mahara. Or else, the rebels will jockey for the home minister's portfolio.

repeater

Does anyone think that the lack of Bhattarai and Prachanda going for major parliamentary posts indicates a certain direction, or intent, with regards to the new government in Nepal?

I mean, does it suggest a concentration on politics outside the parliamentary system, even as they're participating in it?

the burningman

I think, emphasis on I think, that is means when they do enter the government the press won't be quite so friendly.

emphasis added

Anyone notice the strange lack of coverage about Nepal in the North American left press?

I wonder if its different in Latin America. It's a big deal in Asia, and there is organized political support campaigns in Europe.

Znet, CounterPunch, LeftTurn – even Revolution. There has been very little coverage of this, and considering the sheer drama of it no journalism of substance since Li Onesto first climbed those mountains!

This report from AWTW is welcome, as is the re-affirmation of the CPN-M's commitment to the RIM and CCOMPOSA.

-------

The heir to the throne is accused of killing his father, the king, and his entire family in a hashish frenzy after a dispute about his girlfriend.

Since hashish is among the traditional intoxicants of choice in Nepal, interesting cultural note, enough people have smoked out to know it doesn't tend to feul homocidal frenzies.

Gyanendra was the next guy in the royal lineage, but was a tool. He unleashed massacres, criminalized the pathetic parliamentary and revisionist parties in Katmandu – murdering people who had barely stood up to him, mired in their own corruption, while never fielding a militarily effective response to the People's War.

The Maoists exploded exponentially to every corner of the country. They became the people's party. Of this there is no serious argument from any quarter.

What they lacked was a base in Katmandu, and heightened repression there that made non-violent, social penetration unlikely. This transition was also the beginning of the end of the revolution in Peru. They entered a situation of strategic equilibrium, but lost their most of their top political leaders.

So they formed an agreement with the "Seven Party Alliance". Note the lack of any principles in what it is that allies them.

These professional politicians held little respect, long known for their graft and corruption. Timid before the throne, demogogues and opportunists among the very people they claimed to represent.

But still, the urban classes were hearing counter-revolutionary propaganda that the Maoists were all the horror stories that define the genre. They may have hated the throne and its absolutism and torture, but they feared the lower classes – especially when organized into a political army.

So a deal was struck.

There's no doubt about who holds political initiative, and the news is good. It is the CPN-M.

This is like political martial arts. The Maoists will win, to the benefit and liberation of the people, because they know what they are fighting for. The rest of the parties aren't able represent the great mass of people. None of them save the revolutionaries.

There is danger in this consignment of weapons, and in treating the UN as an honest broker. It is not. Ask Palestine.

Prachanda is leading a great leap of faith. Because that faith is in the people, with whom no party has a greater communication and relationship, I trust their judgement enough that I think they will win because it is not faith, but living science. With art.

When Bhattarai enters government, they will be administering the state. But if the solid core does not have uncontested leadership in the military, with a solid grip and consensus among the officer corps and, perhaps most importantly, a revolutionary general character to the rank-and-file – then there will have been no move towards the DoP. It will not be a New Democracy.

The CPN-M's call for a "top-to-bottom" restructuring of the state and military, along with land reform, secularism and unleashing women's emancipation – they will need the active, conscious participation of the great mass of people.

I join with the Nepalese people in hope for the constituent assembly, but I do not trust reactionaries or opportunists and I know the record of imperialism.

Indonesia's rivers of blood, the horrors of Pinochet. Franco.

-------

A World To Win News Service is associated with the magazine of the same name, that is a trend journal of the RIM.

http://awtw.org/rim/index.htm

Based on a political agreement expressed in two documents, the Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, participants notably include the CPN-M, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; and the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), whose current status as a coherent political party is unclear.

emphasis added

-------

Starting with a quote from Krishna Bahadur, pictured above:

“This is a historic day also in terms of balancing of political power. In principle, the document has declared the end of the monarch and the establishment of a democratic republic.” According to nepalnews.com, he added that only the constituent assembly would bring a “complete constitution”, and reiterated his party’s position in favour of a revolutionary land reform, the restructuring of the state and the formation of a new national army.

kantipur report

Mahara elected maoist leader in parliament, Dina Nath Sharma chief whip

KATHMANDU, Jan 18 - A parliamentary party meeting of the CPN-Maoist on Thursday elected party spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara as the leader of the party in the interim legislature-parliament.

The meeting held this morning elected Dev Gurung as the deputy leader of the party in the legislature.

Similarly, Dinan Nath Sharma and Janadardan Sharma 'Prabhakar' were chosen the party's chief whip and whip, respectively.

The CPN-M has a total of 83 MPs and is on equal standing with the CPN-UML in the 330-member interim legislature.

http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=97909

independentmaoist

"Emphasis added" observes "the strange lack of coverage of Nepal in the North American left press":

True, but this also applies to the RCP. After years of front page articles on the People's War in Nepal, the RW-Revolution now reprints an occasional article on "recent developments" from the World to Win News Service with a call to be careful observers.

What does Li Onesto think? After all, she wrote a pretty good book about Nepal. As for RIM, whose props have been based on the people's war in Nepal, what does it think? Its articles in A World to Win News Service are devoid of analysis. This is not a good sign from an organization that claims to be the "embryonic center" for a new Communist International.

"Emphasis added" is himself or herself making a huge leap of faith when it comes to organizing a new progressive military in Nepal. Just how is the CPN(M) going to develop "uncontested leadership in the military, with a solid grip and consensus among the officer corps?" Are the generals, colonels and majors of the Nepalese army going to get a crash course in Maoism and then join their CPN(M) counterparts in building a democratic army? Remember, the officers of the Nepalese army were busy slaughtering hundreds of thousands of peasants--civilians and PLA members alike--until a few months ago.

I challenge you to name one country in which a peaceful reorganization of a reactionary army has happened without revolutionary armed struggle. Communists in Indonesia (in the early 60s) and Chile (in the early 70s) thought they could do so, but look what happened.

Unfortuneately, we are seeing a process of co-optation of the CPN(M) into a bourgeois democratic political system. This process will not result in the formation of new revolutionary state. A government with CPN(M) representatives in it, and with unreliable armed forces. will not be able to make the deep economic and social transformationis that the vast majority of the Nepalese people need--and were beginning to make in the liberated areas.

"Emphasis added" also says about the CPN(M):
"What they lacked was a base in Katmandu, and heightened repression there that made non-violent, social penetration unlikely."

With this logic, revolution could not be made anywhere in the world. Revolutionaries have always had to confront severe repression, especially in the course of armed struggle. In fact, a revolutionary party, army and united front that are at the point of going on the strategic offensive are in the best position they will ever be to conquer the major cities. The task of organizing and building revolutionary forces in Kathmandu in preparation for a general insurrection and linking up with the People's Liberation Army would not be easy--but it could be done by a party with the strength and experience of the CPN(M). This was the CPN(M)'s strategy until 2005, or 2003 if you read its reports carefully.

All you're left with is trust in Prachanda's leadership and the pragmatic view that what's being done is the best that can be done.

independentmaoist

Here's a short news item from the Reason and Revolution website.

Kathmandu, Jan 18.: The Nepal Maoists have decided to formally dissolve their parallel 'Government' and 'courts' having joined the mainstream multi-party democracy after becoming part of the interim parliament.

CPN (Maoist) Chairman Prachanda said today while talking in a BBC radio programme that his party has made the decision to formally dissolve their parallel Government and court. "All our local bodies will be formally dissolved from Thursday," Prachanda said.

"In principle, we (the Maoists), in an accord reached on November 8 with the Government, have already agreed to dissolve our local-level Governments after the formation of the interim legislature, which took place on Monday.

The Maoist leader said, the party will soon issue a statement to this effect calling all party members to obey the decision.

*****

For a detailed analysis of the CPN(M)'s strategy, I recommend you take a look at the November 13 statement of the CP of India (Maoist). You can find it on www.singlespark.org

Harsh Thakor

I personally feel it is virtually a compromise on the part of the C.P.N(Maoist)Becoming apart of the muti-party sytem is endorsing the partlaimentary path similar to what the C.P.I.(M.L)Liberation Group endorses in India today.Never in it's history did the Chinsese Communist Party resort to such tactics,nor have the Peruvian and Phillipines Comrades.After laeding one of the most succesful peoples Wars I am mostsurprised atbtheir reason.Did the wrong trends within the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement have an impact?

Christopher Day

The question of the armed forces is, I believe, more complicated than implied by independentmaoists words. What makes for a revolutionary army? Certainly not the class composition of the rank and file, nor even the officers. Like most capitalist armies, most revolutionary armies are composed primarily of the poor (whether peasant or proletarian) and commanded by the comparatively privileged, whether of petty-bourgeois or aristocractic origin. What is key is the political orientation of the army and its actual relations withe masses. It is certainly true that the historical record favors building up a peoples army "from scratch," but there are interesting cases as well of revolutionary movements arising within capitalist armed forces. The two that come most immediately to mind are the Armed Forces Movement in Portugal and Chavez. And now we have the CPN(M) pursuing a hybrid strategy of building up its own forces adn then merging them into a (defeated and demoralized) formerly royal armed forces.

It seems to me that once again we have a question where reading some Gramsci is illuminating. What both Chavez and the CPN(M) seem to be doing is waging an ideological "war of position" (in the Gramscian not the traditional/Maoist usage of this term) within the armed forces rather than a "war of maneuver" against them. In both cases they are doing so from a position of strength and I think it is worth contemplating what sort of transformations have occurred within global capitalism that might account for this strategic convergence on the part of movements coming out of very diffeent left histories.

Without having worked it out at all completely in my head, it seems to me that generalized advances in literacy and global communications flows significantly alter the terrain on which struggles for the hearts and minds of members of capitalist armies can be waged.

leftclick

I share Harsh Thakor's concerns but not the conclusions. Thakor is right, what the CPN[M] is doing has NOT been done by Lenin or Mao but that doesn't mean it's wrong. After all, the Bolshevik Revolution had not been tried before either.

Are they effectively liquidating their power by dissolving their independent institution in favor of parliamentary ones? That's possible, or they've developed a new viable tactic that's relevant to existing material conditions, instead of mechanically following a historical template. It's important to remember the point Day just brought up, the CPN[M] are entering the government from a position of strength, not weakness.

I think we should be careful before pronouncing any final verdicts on a still-evolving process.

España Roja

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another "independent" Maoist

Comrades in the Philippines do engage the parliament there, though in different ways that should be discussed by those more familiar with their strategy.

I do not think participation in a parliament is enough to tell us the nature of the party. So much depends on the particular contradictions in the respective country.

In this case, joining the interim government on the way to a constituent assembly is different in kind from "parliamentary cretinism." The CPN-M has long made the demand for a democratic republic central. They have not simply disarmed, as they retain the "keys" to their weapons, and no force stands between them and the "locks" save their own word.

Further, the CPN-M has made no call to generalize participation in bourgeois parliaments. Just to remember this. The comments above about "templates," or blueprints, seems exactly the issue.

Look at Peru. Learn from what they didn't do! What happened when they tried to treat every other poltiical party antagonistically! Instead of lifting the whole, they isolated themselves.

LeftyHenry

This is a bold, undogmatic, and risky move but hopefully, with power, the Maoists will emplore socialist policies that will directly affect people in way they couldn't do while fighting.

independentmaoist

Another "independent" maoist asks for comments about parliamentary work in the Philippines:

In the Philippines, the open national democratic (ND) forces have formed several parties that engage in electoral work--Bayan Muna (People First), Anakpawis (workers, peasants, urban poor), Gabriela Women's Party, Anakbayan (youth), and the Suara Bangsa Moro Party (representing the Moro people of Mindanao). These parties have six representatives in the House of Representatives. They are aligned politically with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The ND parties fight for the people's immediate needs and politically expose the reactionary government that is beholden to US imperialism, big landlords and large capitalists. They are an important mechanism for influencing broad sections of the people, including the petty bourgeoisie and nationalist sections of the bourgeoisie.

While they help mobilize the masses and undermine the government, these parties don't advocate a peaceful transition to new democracy or socialism. They don't envision building up their strength in Congress and the executive branch through elections to the point of wresting power from the Philippine ruling class.

Even though the ND parties do not openly espouse revolutionary aims (as the CPP and the New People's Army do), the Philippine government is worried about their political acumen and effectiveness. Their members have been repeated targets of army death squads over the past six years. Of the 800+ murders of civilian activists, around 100 have been members of Bayan Muna and other ND parties.

In the bigger scheme of things, the ND electoral parties are an important auxiliary in building and expanding the united front against the "three mountains" oppressing the Filipino people: imperialism, semi-feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

Meanwhile, the NPA is waging armed struggle in the countryside as the main force to sweep away the three mountains. The revolutionary mass organizations led by the CPP are setting up new institutions of people's power in more than 120 guerrila fronts that have been established in all of the main islands of the Philippines.

The CPP has a coherent strategy for arousing, mobilizing and organizing the masses of people to destroy the old state and bring into being a new democratic state with a socialist perspective. For more on its strategy, see Red Flags thread titled What's Up in the Philippines?

Another "independent" maoist also writes that:

"The CPN-M has made no call to generalize participation in bourgeois parliaments." Yes it has. This is an important part of the CPN-M's global vision of "democracy in the 21st century."
Already the CPN-M has challenged the CPI (Maoist) to a public debate about their "sectarian" refusal to participate in the Indian parliament, which is not being taken well by their Indian comrades. Clearly the parliamentary road the CPN-M is taking is not based solely on conditions in Nepal.

Hassoun

I’d like to draw attention to a few points that I think are relevant to this discussion but no one has commented on yet:
1) The UIC (S) document on the two line struggle in Peru stating the danger of treating a revolutionary war like a spigot to be turned on and off. Assessing the relevance of this document is important since it deals with the Maoist understanding of War and Revolution and it was upheld by CORIM and others in the Movement.

2) The participation of the Bolsheviks in the Duma and their call for Constituent Assembly When the State was at its weakest point.


3) The 1986 movement in the Philippine and the CPP’s position at that time and the effect it had on its weakening. Furthermore, the effect of numerous and endless peace talks on holding your core of the forces and the mass base in limbo and the danger of demoralisation.

4) Endless war or war without prospect of victory: is it the case that CPN(M) has looked at the wars in Colombia, The Philippines and India and got scared of such prospects and driven to a position of risking all through an uncharted teritory?

5) The history of CPN(M), or rather its constituents, as a parliamentary party and the depth of its rupture with cretinism. I am not insinuating anything here but advocating an in depth study.

Hassoun


the burningman

"Becoming apart of the muti-party sytem is endorsing the partlaimentary path similar to what the C.P.I.(M.L)Liberation Group endorses in India today."

I disagree that these are the same, fundamentally or even in aspect. I don't think we have to "wait and see" to understand the difference.

Hassoun's suggestions above are excellent, as a way of laying out some of the historical discussion and choices communists face in the course of making revolution.

The CPN-M has sequestered their arms, but has "possession" of them. They have done this so that the issue is not simply imposing a new state by fiat, but through a constituent assembly that comes through the people.

This is a process they are leading, not just "promising" or "intending."

The CPN-M doesn't intent, as per "independent maoist", to patiently build up forces within the interim government – it is interim pending the UNLIMITED constituent assembly.

The CPP has done very imporant work, and deserves our support for waging people's war, their deft use of democratic forms through the "party lists" and sectoral organizations, and commitment to building New Democracy. (I post their analysis here out of respect, recognizing the contradictory aspects of their experience!).

As a matter of method, perhaps further evidence of my ecclecticism, that we should always look to liberation forces as comrades first. That we should be careful in criticism, treating comrades as people in motion to engage, learn from and, where we have something to share – to teach.

Right now, I see a lot to LEARN from Nepal, from the leadership of Prachanda and Bhattarai, and their intention to play their role in the world revolution, in the particularities of Nepal (and South Asia).

Independent Maoist seems struck by what the "never did" in China... or Russia. Well, I'll just add one thing they didn't do was to persevere on the communist road, and that the CP in both cases was the literal vehicle of counter-revolution.

They aren't frightened of this fact, but they are willing to try some new methods, in Nepal, including the use of a constituent assembly to complete the democratic revolution.

(On the "bright side", I imagine the CPP will issue birthday greetings to Prachanda no matter what they do...)

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