In the past year, Com. Indra Mohan Sigdel (Basanta), has penned and publicly distributed some of the most important documents regarding the the on-going two-line struggle within the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). As part of this on-going effort to delineate the problems that the Nepali Maoists face and possible solutions to said problems, Com. Basanta has written an useful overview of the line struggle that his party has been mired in for the last 5 years since the signing of the peace accords which point to two key issues: 1) that the party does not have a clearly articulated set of tactics that are capable of actually organizing the masses to capture State power (I will not discuss this issue in this post as I feel like I have been consistently hammering on this point for a while now and have little new to say about it) and 2) something that Gyorg Lukacs described as “dialectical separation” between the party and the working classes and peasantry (more on thus later). Com. Basanta previously distributed two other documents entitled, “The question of building a new type of communist party” and “The International Communist Movement and Nepalese Revolution” (both of which were made available here earlier). At the time I wrote,
In these two articles we begin to see the nascent articulations of a new revolutionary programme for the UCPN(Maoist), however, I personally find Com. Basanta’s contributions to the debate regarding the ICM to have greater clarity than his article on the problem regarding a party of a new type. Indeed, Com. Basanta summarizes the classical positions put forward by Marx, Lenin and Mao regarding the role of the Party and its organization, and argues for the need for a revolutionary transformation of the Party that avoids the revisionist pitfalls it is currently mired in. However, Com. Basanta does not clearly articulate a vision of what this new revolutionary party would look like and how it would differentiate itself from the UCPN(Maoist) in its current, save its present reformism. Indeed, I agree that the two-line is the manifestation of the class struggle in society, however, it seems to me that then one would assume that the form of the organization or at least its must change to also reflect this new class content. However, no such organizational programme it clearly articulated. In regards to the ICM, an issue that Com. Basanta is closely intimate with due to his current role in the UCPN(Maoist)’s International Bureau, Com. Basanta argues that there needs to be greater attentiveness on the part of the UCPN(Maoist) to its internationalist responsibilities including to the RIM. Furthermore, he decries the relationships that the UCPN(Maoist) has made with the CPI(Marxist) and SUCI, whilst neglecting relations with other Maoist parties. And calls for the resuscitation of a RIM-like organization, and a broader anti-imperialist united front.
I do not wish to revisit these former articles because I think that my analysis of the documents stand, but I would like to make it clear that I deeply appreciate the theoretical work that Com. Basanta has been doing and his willingness to share his ideas and criticisms with the rest of the ICM. Indeed, Com. Basanta has been one of the rare few, who have been willing to go back to the letters between the RCP,USA and the UCPN(Maoist) and argue that, despite the RCP,USA’s religiosity regarding the “new synthesis”, the RCP,USA was in fact correct to warn against the corrosion within the UCPN(Maoist) and their handling of the peace accords. In Com. Basanta’s latest public article, dated, August 30th 2011, he provides an important overview of the two-line struggle thus far and highlights some of the key events and political turns that have taken place. I do not wish to rehash these twists and turns as you can read the document for yourself (something I strongly recommend), but rather would like to focus on the under-examined theoretical and organizational problem that Com. Basanta identifies in his document i.e. the aforementioned problem of “dialectical separation”.
The problem of “dialectical separation” basically identifies that there is a gap between the Party and the working class, inasmuch that the Party has ideology/science but may have little base in the working class itself, whereas the working class are the actors that are capable of actually overthrowing the State but often are not organized in a manner capable of overthrowing the State and are ideologically constituted by the bourgeois dictatorship (in an aside I would like to note that I believe that Mao provides us a different epistemological system through the “mass line” that tries to address the problem of “dialectical separation”, but that is another post). The Party itself cannot overthrow the State (that would be a form of substitutionism) and needs the working class to organize itself into a revolutionary movement using the leadership and ideas of the Party. In times of revolutionary upsurge, the working class and the Party are able to lessen, and ideally bridge, this gap which then produces a revolutionary movement capable of overthrowing the State. However, the problem of “dialectical separation” is not only important in the capture of State power in the production of a revolutionary working class movement, but also is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of “democratic centralism” in the party and ward off an ever encroaching “bureaucratic centralism”. Indeed, this immediately goes to the heart of Com. Basanta’s organizational problem which relates to the question of freedom of speech/expression inside and outside of the party.
Even prior to the entry of the UCPN(Maoist) into the parliamentary field there have been internal political movements against the ever-increasing bureaucratism in the party, especially through the centralization of power into Chairman Dahal (for example in 2005 when Dr. Baburam Bhattarai protested against Chairman Dahal’s leadership style, and this past summer when the party finally decentralized power from his hands into a number of key leaders including Vice-President Dr. Bbauram Bhattarai and Vice-President Mohan Baidya). However, with the entry of the UCPN(Maoist) into the parliamentary field one can see an ever-increasing gap between themselves and the working class at large and an increasingly high-handed approach towards the masses. As Com. Basanta notes, “Most of the leaders and cadres forgot their previous bases, the poverty-stricken countryside, rather started enjoying in big hotels, in the name of building cities a base of revolutionaries. The struggle, which was waged in Balaju meeting against the danger that the problem in working-style of that kind may become a cause to liquidate party’s revolutionary line and as a result the revolution, is noteworthy to mention here.” By forgetting their previous bases in the countryside, leaders and cadres, began to separate themselves from the vast majority of the Nepalese working class and peasantry who do not get to enjoy luxurious hotels, big homes and ample food. Indeed, the revisionism that is being wrought within the party is because the material conditions of the party’s cadres and leaders has changed without a parallel change in conditions in society as a whole. Indeed, as time went on it because clearer and clearer that the party was no longer responsible or accountable to the masses that they were supposed to represent. Indeed, even a key event like the indefinite strike of May 2010, which was supposed to be the spark for the rebellion that would capture State power, was inexplicably called off and no summation was ever produced for either the masses or the party itself. As Com. Basanta writes, “It was declared to be the last rebellion before People’s Federal Republic was established in Nepal. But it was suddenly stopped in the middle. Party is yet to appraise in depth the objective and subjective factors that caused to call the indefinite strike off”. There have been numerous reports about wide-spread dissatisfaction and disillusionment amongst the village committees and cadres who saved up scarce resources so that they could send active militants to Kathmandu for the indefinite strike and fully expected to return to their villages victorious. The experience of the long slide towards revisionism is summed up by Com. Basanta when he writes, that, “In this long course, the leadership, firstly, did not in general opt for calling meetings, secondly, even if the meeting was called he seemed reluctant to bring revolutionary and major agendas in the meeting apart from day to day issues, thirdly, if revolutionary agendas were introduced for some reason he inclined to take eclectic decision on them, fourthly, even if revolutionary decisions were taken he did not emphasize on implementing them in practice etc. This whole process for years went on creating an objective base suitable for reformism.”
They are Minimising the Ideological Struggle
A serious ideological struggle is going on in our party now. While saying so, it does not mean that there was no ideological struggle in our party before. It perseveres in a party; sometimes it is extensive and sharp and sometimes not. Moreover, it does not always centre on only one issue; but on different issues depending on time and context. The ideological struggle in our party has now been manifested in two lines, Marxism or reformism, and it has centred on ideological, political and organisational lines. It is very much piercing and serious too.
Two-line struggle is the life of a party. It is also known as the motive force of a party. Struggle is the base of unity. Mao has stressed on transformation for a new unity to take place upon a new base. Unity is not achieved through compromise, higher level of unity is not achieved without transformation and there is no transformation in default of struggle. That is why, two-line struggle is said to be the motive force of a party.
After we entered into the peace process, the two-line struggle that had surfaced from our party’s Balaju Expanded meeting has been going on till today. In essence, the ongoing struggle is focused on ideological and political questions. However, its central expression has been in different forms depending upon time and context. From the Balaju expanded meeting to now, the two-line struggle in our party has developed through different phases, which can be mentioned in short as follows.
First, the phase of struggle against bourgeois working-style. Once our party entered into the cities after signing in the comprehensive peace agreement bourgeois working-style started to dominate in the party. Most of the leaders and cadres forgot their previous bases, the poverty-stricken countryside, rather started enjoying in big hotels, in the name of building cities a base of revolutionaries. The struggle, which was waged in Balaju meeting against the danger that the problem in working-style of that kind may become a cause to liquidate party’s revolutionary line and as a result the revolution, is noteworthy to mention here. However, the document adopted by Balaju expanded meeting was never distributed in the party to study and implement in practice. Why it happened so, is a serious issue to sum up in the days ahead.
Second, the phase of inner struggle to determine party’s new tactic. Subsequent to the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly, which declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, party’s tactic adopted by the CC meeting in Chunwang had ended. In that situation, the party must have adopted another tactic right away, but that did not happen. Party did not have any tactic almost all through a period of one year after democratic republic of Nepal was declared. In the situation when the old tactic was over and the new one was not taken up it was obvious for the party not to have any plan to go ahead except cycling around the parliamentary exercise. It was necessary for this situation to bring the ideological struggle to the fore centring on what should be the next tactic. There was a sharp and extensive two-line struggle in Kharipati Convention held on November 2008. Finally, elucidating that Nepal was still a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country and the federal democratic republic was a reactionary political system, party adopted a new tactic, People’s Federal Republic, to accomplish new democratic revolution. This tactic is still valid and is awaiting its execution.
Third, the phase of developing plans to implement the aforesaid tactic. Kharipati convention succeeded to build up party’s next tactic but failed again to put forward a concrete plan to implement it. Party didn’t bring in any tangible plan till about nine months after the convention was concluded. Later, three months long central committee meeting in August 2009 took up some important decisions. Of them the decisions, first, people’s insurrection is a must to establish People’s Federal Republic and second, four preparations and four bases are the prerequisites necessary to make people’s insurrection a success, were the important ones. These decisions, which were adopted through a process of intense ideological and political struggle carried all the way through three months, are very much important in our party history.
Fourth, the phase of implementation of plan. Party decided to launch this plan in three steps, first the mass protest on April 6, 2010, second the May Day rally and third the indefinite strike. On May 1, 2010, party declared from the open stadium at Tundikhel, Kathmandu that the indefinite strike would be continued until it culminates to people’s insurrection through which Nepalese people become the master of the state power. It brought an unprecedented enthusiasm among the broad masses. But a strange, before two weeks of its declaration had gone by; the said ongoing strike was suddenly brought to a stop, which did nothing other than bringing a complete demoralisation among the people. It was declared to be the last rebellion before People’s Federal Republic was established in Nepal. But it was suddenly stopped in the middle. Party is yet to appraise in depth the objective and subjective factors that caused to call the indefinite strike off.
Fifth, the phase of ideological struggle around Palungtar. The ideological struggle that had started from Kharipati reached to its climax after the indefinite strike was stopped in May 2010. Everyone from our leaders to cadres and as well the Nepalese masses is aware of the height of the Palungtar debate held in November 2010. But, that gathering too failed to bring forward a concrete plan and develop a method to deal with dissents on the basis of democratic centralism. What it did was it concluded the gathering with a synthesis that there was no alternative to transformation, unity and people’s insurrection. The meeting that was called after the gathering brought out agenda to chalk out the future plans. Management of inner-party dissent on the basis of five-point procedure, further clarification of four bases and four preparations and the formation of people’s volunteer mobilisation bureau were the important issues on which the meeting reached at decisions. It spread enthusiasm in the rank and file of the party and the masses as well. But a strange, the main leadership was not found to have laid emphasis on implementing them in practice.
Sixth, the present phase after the U-turn of the leadership at Sukute. The two-line struggle that was being waged from Kharipati took a different turn after arriving in the standing committee meeting held at Sukute. Explicitly speaking, the contradiction between reform in essence and revolution in form that existed in our party leadership was resolved while arriving at Sukute. Why our leadership, who did not see anything other than the possibility of insurrection till four days before, started seeing counter-insurrection everywhere when there was no any convincing change in the objective and subjective situation, after he returned back from his tour to Singapore. It is a serious question to review.
Aforesaid points give a general glimpse of how did the inner struggle develop in our party and how it is advancing. In the long course of inner struggle from Balaju to right before Sukute we can see a peculiar type of situation in our party. In this long course, the leadership, firstly, did not in general opt for calling meetings, secondly, even if the meeting was called he seemed reluctant to bring revolutionary and major agendas in the meeting apart from day to day issues, thirdly, if revolutionary agendas were introduced for some reason he inclined to take eclectic decision on them, fourthly, even if revolutionary decisions were taken he did not emphasize on implementing them in practice etc. This whole process for years went on creating an objective base suitable for reformism. And finally it arrived at such a situation that revolution was being liquidated while hailing it. It is not that the leadership deliberately did all these things in a planned way. What is true is that the ideological problem in our leadership is the main reason behind it to happen. It is only an instance proved at Sukute that the obvious result of eclecticism in philosophy and centrism in politics is reformism.
In addition to the inner-party struggle centred on aforementioned ideological and political issues, struggle is going on in the organisational line too, in our party. Organisational problems like how to manage freedom of expression and unity in action, how to systematise division of labour, how to institutionalise collective decision and individual responsibility i.e. how to make effective the system of democratic centralism in party are the issues that are being debated now. Particularly, in the present context when centralism is going towards bureaucratization and totalitarianism, the ideological debate which is going on in our party now is to bring the main leadership, from top to bottom, in a committee system as a centralised expression of collectivity.
The ongoing two-line struggle is based on the goal of re-establishing Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in our party, developing a correct ideological, political and organisational line, building a disciplined party and achieving unity after transformation. The more healthy, patient and well-managed is the line struggle the more is the possibility of revolutionary transformation from the leaders to cadres and the more it opens the door of principled unity in the party. The deeper and farther the line struggle we take to, the more we can mobilise people in favour of the revolution. It is also the lesson of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to us. The practice of confining ideological and political struggle within a small periphery of the central leadership is not and cannot be in agreement with Marxism.
However, what is surprising is that some of the comrades of our party, who claim to be close with the establishment, seem to be very active now to minimise the ideological importance of two-line struggle, confuse honest cadres by projecting it in a wrong way and fulfil their rightist ambition in this process. The understanding of those comrades who conceive that the ideological struggle waged by the revolutionaries is a squabble to get to the post shows their ideological bankruptcy. On top of that why does not it become a squabble for posts on the part of those comrades who bargain their ministerial post to be reserved for their close kins when they quit, on the contrary, how did it become a squabble for the post on the part of those comrades who struggled for inclusiveness and proportional representation in cabinet as provisioned by the interim constitution. Even a layman understands it.
It is clear that new democratic revolution in Nepal is now at the threshold of counter-revolution. It is being manifested in the danger of surrendering PLA in the name of army integration and in the writing of a document of compromise with comprador, bureaucratic capitalists and feudal in the name of building consensus. But, it does not mean not to integrate army and not to write constitution. Integration of army and writing of constitution is a policy declared by our party. None in our party has anywhere opposed to the modality of army integration in consistent with national security policy, provide duty of combatant status by way of group-wise integration of the PLA and write people’s constitution with an anti-feudal and anti-imperialist content. However, without fulfilling these conditions if army integration is carried out in a capitulationist way and if a document of compromise is adopted in the name of writing constitution, it will be an outright counter-revolution.
The crux of two-line struggle from Balaju meeting to now is centred on whether to emphasize on struggle mainly against the comprador bourgeois, which leads the reactionary state power in Nepal now, to ensure people’s constitution from CA and carry out army integration in compliance with national security policy or to emphasize on compromise with the reactionaries to surrender PLA in the name of peace and write a piece of status quo constitution in the name of consensus. It is clear that the first one opens the door of new democratic revolution by establishing people’s federal republic of Nepal while the second one pushes the new democratic revolution far away by institutionalising the bourgeois democratic republic.
In this way, the ongoing two-line struggle in our party is centred on whether to open the door of new democratic revolution by establishing people’s federal republic of Nepal or push the new democratic revolution far away institutionalising bourgeois democratic republic. I do not think it necessary to explain how much weighty and important is this struggle going on in our party. However, some of the people minimise this ideological struggle being waged to defend revolution by saying that it is a squabble for posts and privileges. It is the clear expression of right revisionism and serves counter-revolution. Only by defeating this kind of counter-revolutionary thinking and trend, which is noticed in some of the comrades of our party, can the revolution be defended, the people’s federal republic be established in Nepal and the door of new democratic revolution be opened. To strive for this is the task of revolutionaries at present.
August 30, 2011