This is what democracy looks like

Dear comrades,

Yesterday I got to see for the first time in my life what real democracy looks like. I was taken by Com. Ramnath, a member of the Maoist-run Tourism Workers’ Union, to a public meeting held in a 5-star hotel, “Yak and Yeti”. The hotel is run by workers in the Hotel and Restaurant Workers’ Union and they arranged the meeting. It was held in the main hall of the hotel, 12 huge crystal chandeliers hung above us and portraits of kings and glorious aristocratic pageantry adorned the walls. However, what was going on was far from a monarchistic rule, it was proletarian democracy. 1500+ people from all walks of life – workers, business men, politicians, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers etc – filled the room. There wasn’t even space to move. People sat on the floor, stood in the aisles, and tried to listen from outside the doors to the hall.
At the front of the room sat Comrade Prachanda, Comrade Baburam Bhattarai, Comrade Gaurav (if I am correct), Comrade Hisila Yami and many others who I couldn’t identify. But besides a few brief statements that Comrade Baburam Bhattarai made at the opening of the meeting and by Comrade Prachanda at the end, the leaders of the UCPN(Maoist) sat there and listened. They listened for more than 5 hours to people express their opinions and sentiments about what was going in Nepal at the moment. Just in case you think that all I am describing is some Bush-era townhall in which questions were pre-screened, think again. People were allowed to speak for as long as they liked, often speaking and yelling for 5 minutes at a time. They criticized and praised the Maoist leadership. Told them to tear down the government and told them to compromise already. They read poems and told jokes. The crowd broke out into cheers and clapped vigorously for those speakers whose ideas they agreed with (largely those speakers supporting the Maoists).
Can you imagine this in Canada or the USA or anywhere else for that matter? In most cases security would drag you out for asking anything longer than a 30 second question or for the first critical statement. Not here. They didn’t even do security-checks. You want to see what democracy looks like? Come to Nepal.
Lal salaam.

4 thoughts on “This is what democracy looks like

  1. Hi Comrade Dhruv:What a good Idea to go thre. I hope you are doing fine.In regard to your report I would like you to explain more and detail,if you will, about this part: "They criticized and praised the Maoist leadership. Told them to tear down the government and told them to compromise already."What was the essence of their criticisms? What do you mean by " they told them to tear down the government and told them to compromise already."?!are you saying that workers ask the leadership of UCPN(Maoist) to compromise? Compromise with who? Or are you trying to say that enough of compromise and tear down the government?BestBorhan

  2. No time limits on speakers? No agenda? No motions? Just a lot of people sitting around listening how other people feel?Sounds unstructured by design – what's the need to suppress individualistic democratic expression? Movement forming around common goals, that's far more dangerous – and democratic.

  3. Dear comrades, I will try to address both of your comments. I realized that I did not explain the meeting very well in my exuberance about the meeting. Borhan: The meeting was a public meeting so both opponents and supporters were present. So some people criticized the party for not making enough compromises and coming to a resolution of the political stalemate regarding the constitution. Others told the party that they should not dissolve the YCL, should not place the PLA under the special committee etc. Some people just went and said that they supported the actions of the Party. Thus the crowd was a mixed bag as one would expect with over 1500 people attendence. Northernsong: sometimes one needs to listen to the masses and the masses are made of individuals and their personal concerns. One must mediate between the individuals concerns of the people, and the mass needs of the movement. As Mao said, "From the masses, to the masses", but if you don't ask the masses what they think and feel how will you know? One cannot assume that the Party knows everything, this is something that we learn from Com. Mao, we must also listen and learn from the people, and the people often speak as individuals.

  4. Hope to hear more about this…I agree that this mass line process is necessary and hopefully you will give us more details. I find the comment made by northernsong about "movement forming around common goals" somewhat problematic as it is a red herring. The Maoists are a movement that have formed around common goals which is why they control the country side with a mobilized and politicized mass movement. They only reached this position, however, because of the mass line politics that this meeting represents – because meetings like this have allowed people to feel empowered and become politicized through their interaction with a revolutionary movement.Thus a movement already exists and is formed, so the comment, though I agree with the sentiment, seems somewhat out of place.

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