- Category: South Asia Revolution
- Created on Sunday, 25 September 2011 14:18
- Written by Mike Ely
by Mike Ely
CWM raises some important questions when he asks:
It is virtually impossible to pinpoint with any accuracy (given the shades of program, the dynamic changes of alignment in the actual heat of such a struggle, and the large numbers of confused, undecided and disappointed in any such conflict. (Call it "the fog of political war.")
Who are we asking about? Are you investigating a majority of the party cadre? or the majority social base of the party? Or of the broader population of entire Nepal? Or just of the most oppressed sections of that population? Or the most politically active? Or the leading cadre? Or what mix of these things?
Which level of approval gives a policy some magical level of legitimacy in such a time-- and what grants sole legitimacy if a movement is genuinely split on the choices?
There may be coming moments when the numbers of alignment are more clear -- including if an actual split occurs and each part of the party/army structure finally "votes with their feet." And it will become clearer when new resistance break out against the new government, and everyone gets a sense of who acts and how the larger population reacts.
Still, the issue now and later will not mainly be "who is the majority" -- the core issue (now and later) is "what road will liberate the people, and what road will not?" And of course that requires a real struggle over what "liberation" means. And which "liberation" is objectively possible in this place and in this period.
The revolutionary forces among the Maoists need to organize and persevere even if (at any given moment) the non-revolutionary line proves to have a majority -- and find a way to expand support, win over the intermediate, and find a real-world approach to the seizure of power and establishment of a new "peoples democratic" political order.
If they have a majority of the party -- good for them. If they have solid support at the base (especially among the peasantry) then good for the future. And if they don't have enough support yet, then they need to work to get it.
All revolutionary processes are full of moments where the revolution advances and captures broad imagination and initiative, and when then (suddenly) a "petty bourgeois wave" (as the Russians called it in 1917) emerges filled with illusions about this-or-that compromise or program, and even includes active waves of hostility toward the more resolutely revolutionary.
In fact revolutionary programs are often the minority -- as we all well know only too well.
No one asked if a majority of the party wanted to launch the Nepali peoples war in 1996 (or the Peruvian peoples war in 1980). It was the other way around, a core of the party decided to launch the war -- based on an analysis of possibility and necessity -- and struggled to win over those they could, and isolate those they couldn't. No armed attempt at power has been decided (or even launched) by first having a majority of the people (or even of the cadre) that can formally approve it in advance.
In any case: Those who are "in the majority" now may be "in the minority" tomorrow. (Look at Mao's experience in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.)
The revolutionary left in Nepal may have the allegiance of most of the cadre, yet not be able to win their support for an armed uprising against Bhattarai.
Bhattarai may have enough mass support to rule in Nepal, (along with, perhaps, a temporay "wait and see" tolerance among many communists) -- but he may lose both tomorrow or the day after.
A lot of Bhattarai's support is based on the fact that he is obviously intelligent, highly educated, clearly modern, non-corrupt, and a central leader of a party with proven mass support -- and those features are a welcome change from all previous leaders of Nepal (who were generally understood to be venal, corrupt and backward).
There is no law that determines that the majority is always right, or that any given majority reflects firm and stable opinion.
The choices faced by a movement and a society are complex, and the understanding of the people is in rapid change within revolutionary moments.
On the structures of Nepali Maoists
Let me give another example of how the question of democratic structures are not simple:
There are a lot of decision-making points in the Maoist party -- where different majorities express themselves.
The Communist Party's decision-making body is the central committee (in normal times) and a broader party congress (when it is convened), and a standing committee (when neither larger body is in session). In addition, the Nepali Maoist party has held numerous exceptional meetings (lasting many days and involving broad swathes of the cadre in intense discussions, mutual education and debate).
And what you discover when you zoom in that the majority of these bodies have different views on these key line questions.
Specifically: as the Maoist party absorbed other communist groups (after their 2006 turn to political offensive) it was common to involve the former leadership of these smaller groups in the central committee. In loose democratic terms that made sense -- since it allowed the representation of these smaller currents in the larger discussion (and it also was a concession, obviously, to the political existence of the communist politicians involved). However what emerged was a central committee that has become considerably more conservative than the communist party it supposedly represented. There was an influx of communist politicians into the central committee who had opposed the peoples war and had not participated in this peoples war -- and they (to some extent) emerged as a base of support for the already-existing right-wing within the Maoist party (that already existed during the peoples war).
The result is that if discussions are held in the central committee you are likely to get one result (and one majority), and if they are held in larger bodies (involving the lower ranks and the army) you get a different result (and a different majority). And if you go outside the party itself -- and consult the broader masses who form the party's base, you are likely to get yet another result (and let not be naive: the Bhattarai line is genuinely popular in important sections of the people especially students and the urban areas, while it is less popular for obvious reasons in the poorer and more rural areas.)
Part of what i'm arguing (by pointing out these matters of complexity and conflicting legitimacy) is that the issue is not democracy, and the solution is not somehow inventing new, different structures (in some search for an ultimate democracy).
This is a struggle between policies -- and between forces that (each) have significant followings and reasons for their views.
And the right and wrong will not be settled by "who is the majority" and by (mechanically) having "the majority rule."
The fact is that the revolutionaries need to fight for a hearing, fight to consolidate their forces and social base, fight to develop a clear realistic program to advance to power, and fight to expose and weaken the hold of more conservative approaches.
And in such line struggles, there is often a debate over who has the allegiance of most people and who is violating which previous party decisions -- but such things are not the key issues, and are not what victory and defeat will turn on.
This is a struggle over line and over power.
Nepal's revolution rests on a revolutionary people, a revolutionary communist core and a still-existing revolutionary army. Each of these things is precious and the result of great work and sacrifice. And the existence of each is now under attack.
At this moment the moderate reformers (within the Maoist party and the larger society) have won out (after years of skillful maneuver and preparation) -- and the revolutionaries face their own moment of Long March -- to creatively develop their own road back to the initiative and to this revolution's endgame.