This entry focuses on my comments on this letter from the Communist Party of India (Maoist) to the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) published
. In addition to mine don’t miss the very interesting comments of others regarding this letter. I am not myself going to replicate the entire document. First I will lift Kasama’s Mike Ely’s excerpts from the letter then follow with my own commentary.
Introduction by Mike Ely:
The following document is a major comment by the leading Politbureau of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on controversies within the international Maoist movement. It was sent to the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on May 20, 2009, and has now been made public.
As the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has maneuvered on the doorstep of seizing state power, there have emerged a series of open letters from other communist parties — engaging the approach taken by the Nepali Maoists, and struggling over major controversies facing communist revolution internationally.
Previously Kasama published an exchange of letters between the RCP,USA and the UCPN(M). Now we are sharing this document by the Indian Maoists.
For now, we are also making this letter available in pdf format. We will be posting a more readable PDF version, in pamphlet format, Monday evening.
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“…in the name of struggle against dogmatism, there have been serious deviations in the International Communist Movement (ICM), often going into an even greater, or at least equally dangerous, abyss of right deviation and revisionism. In the name of creative application of Marxism, communist parties have fallen into the trap of right opportunism, bourgeois pluralist Euro-Communism, rabid anti-Stalinism, anarchist post-modernism and outright revisionism…
“‘Fight against dogmatism‘ has become a fashionable phrase among many Maoist revolutionaries. They talk of discarding ‘outdated’ principles of Lenin and Mao and to develop MLM in the ‘new conditions‘ that are said to have emerged in the world of the 21st century. Some of them describe their endeavour to ‘enrich and develop‘ MLM as a new path or thought, and though this is initially described as something confined to revolution in their concerned country, it inexorably assumes a ‘universal character’ or ‘universal significance‘ in no time. And in this exercise individual leaders are glorified and even deified to the extent that they appear infallible. Such glorification does not help in collective functioning of Party committees and the Party as a whole and questions on line are hardly ever raised as they stem from an infallible individual leader. In such a situation it is extremely difficult on the part of the CC, not to speak of the cadres, to fight against a serious deviation in the ideological-political line, or in the basic strategy and tactics even when it is quite clear that it goes against the interests of revolution. The ‘cult of the individual’ promoted in the name of path and thought provides a certain degree of immunity to the deviation in line if it emanates from that individual leader.”
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Commentary by Stephen David Mauldin
The excerpts provided by Mike Ely above do not entirely pertain to the Maobadi in Nepal. The main thrust of the letter is in its admonition of the Maobadi claim to be functioning in a localized form of 21st Century Communism that is supposed to have universal application. This is a straw man argument in itself. Instead they are emphasizing the objective conditions in Nepal requiring a particular mode of tactics in practice: the universal message is that particular modes of practice for particular objective conditions are needed not that the modes of practice of Nepal should be applied universally. The theoretical debate over strategy is of a completely different register.
My commentary is far short of a comprehensive response to the letter. Rather I point to a key weakness in its summary paragraphs at the end – to include the following quote:
Now that the government headed by comrade Prachanda has collapsed after the withdrawal of support by the UML and others at the behest of the Indian ruling classes, American imperialists and the local reactionaries, the Party leadership should be better placed to understand how the reactionaries can manage the show from the sidelines or outside and obstruct even moves such as sacking of the Army chief by a Prime Minister.
A lot that needs to be discussed regarding this entire letter – not to dismiss that at all, but this conclusion at the end is suspect. It demonstrates a very elementary mistake about current Maobadi tactics that any consistent following of the recent history and understanding of the theoretical line of Mao’s democratic centralism should make clearly visible.
Surprisingly it follows the propaganda of the NC/UML assertion that the Maoist government collapsed. In fact the PM and the rest of the Maoists made a decision to resign because they are confident that in actually running of the government is relatively an unimportant and unproductive front in the process of seizing state power. This move was done at the behest of no one other than themselves once the UML and the Tarai Parties succumbed to an opportunistic line.
The fact is the government of the UML is unable to effectively function without the Maoists and the latter nonetheless maintain power in the largest number of Constituent Assembly seats and even more significantly in the streets. The characterization of the Maoists as being on the sidelines rather than still in the position of greatest actual power by virtue of the more important fronts (the CA and the streets)is very ironic. Its as though the CPI writer(s) themselves are glorifying the importance of multi-party parliamentarian government over the revolutionary tactics of the Maobadi.
Furthermore it is necessary to remember the Maobadi possess a militant advantage in the combined arms of the PLA, the Unions and the YCL. The Maoists are by no means a power that has been vanquished by the reactionaries simply by virtue of the reactionaries having stymied civilian government control of the military though collusion of a corrupt Supreme Court and the illegal acts of a President. Blockage of the functioning of the house will continue and the people in the streets will also force the eventual reversal of the president’s reinstatement of Katawal. The option remains to resume armed rebellion as the quickest route to seize state power – the decision has been to not exercise that route as yet.
The UML led government is not in fact a led government. It is a squabble over gaining political advantages – the NC over the UML, the Tarai parties over the UML and NC and within the internal divisions in these parties. We are seeing the reconfigurations of the reactionaries that will be at play if the UCPN (M) chooses to return to participation in the government and to its actual leadership. Revolution is indeed through the barrel of a gun, that is how the Maobadi got to where it is and the gun is still in their hands when and if they use the fronts of the CA and the streets to return to government – if they must these guns will be used.
One last very important point: much has been made of the Maoists participation in multi-party politics involving power-sharing with reactionary parties, but this is not what they want as a strategy while engaging in such as a tactic. Be clear that democratic centralism is about a coalition of parties serving the oppressed classes in eliminating the power of parties of the oppressor classes.
When we hear the international influences and the NC and opportunists reacting to the establishment of civilian supremacy by the Maoist led coalition of oppressed classes, it is always the cry of “they want a dictatorship!”. They are right, but not in the sense they wish us to believe. Such a coalition is a dictatorship, a dictatorship of the proletariat. Such a state is to then to wither away as the position of the reactionaries becomes meaningless, powerless.
Thus can state power be seized, gun in hand but with as little blood spilled as possible. There is a unified front among the Maoists with regard to the reactionaries while there continues theoretical debate about how much militant force is applied in practice. Its clear how much the CPI writers are calling for. These calls for immediate full scale violence are unwise considering the economic and social conditions of Nepal. These need to be addressed for some time while the people learn through practice what the communist hypothesis actually entails.
There are really very few true communists in Nepal. The Maoist leadership are communists, but the great bulk of the people behind them are simply oppressed classes having been screwed since time out of mind. They want a life which is tolerable and will fight for it if necessary having no real comprehension of what Mr. Mao had to say. In time through practice they can learn, but the important thing is to get them fed and educated and benefiting from a tolerable national infrastructure using tactics that keep this in mind.
Yes, tactics that involve engagement of capitalist modes of production and the global “capitalo-parliamentarian’ (Badiou) coordinates of power means playing a dangerous game. The well known capacity for the acquisition of power by reactionary forces in such a game are well known. However, to label the Maobadi as revisionist and opportunist and to therefore in effect serve the reactionaries both counters the novel unfolding of 21st century communism in Nepal and seems to imply they are so stupid they don’t understand the lessons of history. They understand quite well and they have not forgotten to arm the people.