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November 19: Nepal’s revolution reemerges. Support their moves for liberation!

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November 19: Nepal’s revolution reemerges. Support their moves for liberation!

by Mike Ely

In our world, it is rare that defiance overruns despair.

The spread of revolutionary dreams among the planet's poorest people is a precious and welcome development. And the poor of Nepal have such dreams.The large revolutionary movement in Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries, is almost unknown in the U.S. It is invisible in the world’s mainstream news reporting. It is treated as unimportant, marginal and even (most unfair of all) as "terrorist."We ask you to take a moment to learn about it. We ask you to help spread the word.Millions of people in Nepal have sacrificed for radical change – acting together in waves of uprisings across the last twenty years.

They have faced armed suppression. They have been betrayed. They have been threatened from abroad (by both India and the U.S.). Their fighters have been murdered, imprisoned and raped. Their leaders have been targeted for neutralization – either by repression or cooptation.In 2006, after winning broad popular support during years of guerrilla warfare, Nepal’s revolutionaries agreed to enter negotiations for a radically new society. The hated and corrupt king of Nepal was overthrown. A constitutional convention was convened to decide how power would be structured. And the people waited for change to come.Now, seven years later, a new quite-heroic wave of revolutionary uprising is about to break out.

It has a specific date: November 19.The world must know about this. Those of us who hear about it must not be silent.

Struggle, Betrayal, New Struggle
Nepal is a land-locked highly diverse country of 27 million people living along the southern slopes of the great Himalayan mountain range.

The vast majority of people live in deep poverty on the land as farmers, most of them in villages without roads, electricity, schools or access to modern medicine. The young often travel to distant cities to the south in India or to the remote Persian Gulf, to make a living and send back money – and for many this has meant bitter exploitation in vast factory districts or in the sex trade.

In the 1990s, a movement rose up and grew -- led at its core by Maoist revolutionaries -- that demanded a rapid development of the country, conducted in ways that liberated those held in poverty and powerlessness.

They armed the poorest people in the villages and attracted the brightest youth from the urban areas. They demanded an end to the monarchy, and power for the people. They said people’s armed forces, people’s courts, radical parallel governments involving women and the poor could clear away the dead weight of the upper classes – and enable the people to create education, roads, jobs and equality between men and women. The peasant farmers demanded an end to the rip-off by corrupt government tax-collectors and vicious money-lenders. And the poor wanted land – they wanted the big plantations on the best fertile land to be divided up – that those who farm the land should own the land – so that the wealth would not be drained away from their villages to the leisure lives of the rich.

In short, the revolutionary movement wanted people’s power and liberation. And millions of people supported this: first in the years of people’s war from 1996 to 2005, then in the urban uprisings of 2006 and subsequent constitutional elections when the Maoists emerged as the single largest party in Nepal, then in the great May Day mobilization and general strike of 2010 when the Maoists came close to taking power.

Change without liberation

However, today, after years of struggle and sacrifice, Nepal’s people have gotten change without liberation.After the excitement of uprisings and the promising signs of victory, four painful disappointments have come down on a hopeful people:

First, the just and fundamental demands of farmers for land have been rejected. And so the poor are being locked back into lives of exploitation by the rich.

Second, instead of a new self-sufficient and independent Nepal, the country remains dominated by India in a virtually colonial way: Bullied by the Indian military, dominated by Indian investors, and awash with Indian agents (with the U.S., its CIA agents and military trainers operating behind the scenes).

Third, the changes in political structures have not produced people’s power. The hated monarchy was overthrown, and there a process started for writing a radical new constitution which would create a new power structure in a new society. But after seven years of deadlock and empty rhetoric, the people have clearly been blocked from real power. The people’s liberation army (a powerful engine for breaking up the old order) was systematically dismantled by those who betrayed the movement. Meanwhile, the revolutionary base areas and radical cooperatives in the countryside have been returned to the old ways. The hopes of equality for women, sexual minorities and diverse Nepali ethnicities – all have started to fade.

The government army has been built up and modernized – including by U.S. arms and military trainers. These killers with guns now cast a shadow over the whole society, threatening anyone who dreams of change.

The people needed a people’s democracy – where the poor and oppressed had the power to change their lives (and where the rich and conservative have lost their previous power). What Nepal has gotten instead is a classic and corrupt western-style electoral democracy – where old political hacks and wealthy lobbyists stage election charades, but where all real power is held in the hands of the wealthy and the agents of foreign money (and where the real decisions are made in corrupt backroom deals).  In Nepal today, the people are told they must vote for one of these corrupt political forces – while directly threatened by the guns of the government’s army and police.

After decades of revolution, change and talk of democracy -- the vast majority still have zero power over the direction of their country or their own lives.

The fourth painful disappointment:  Major leaders of the revolutionary movement played a key role in calling off the revolution and imposing this heart-breaking state of “change without liberation.” Two leaders of the people’s war in particular (Prachanda and Bhattarai) agreed to become dominant figures in the new government – but in exchange they dissolved the revolutionary army, abandoned the demands for revolutionary land reform, and adopted a classic neo-colonial plan for development (by promising foreign powers cheap resources and labor). They said change could only come slowly, and that foreign investors had to be appeased.

Retaking a road to liberation

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore….? Or does it explode?
                                     Langston Hughes

Usually, when great movements suffer setbacks, division, and especially betrayal – the result can be a terrible demoralization. It can be very hard to bounce back and retake the offensive against the forces of conservatism.

In Nepal, however, there are signs that the revolutionary forces (with deep support among the people) are regrouping for another great wave of resistance. Already, general strikes organized by the Maoists’ revolutionary trade union federation have repeatedly shut down the country and proven broad popular support and involvement.
This renewed courage is not being reported in the main media. And many more people need to know about it.
Last year, a large section of Nepal’s Maoist movement formed themselves into a new party to challenge the government (which now includes some of their own former leaders). They formed as the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), and pledged to carry forward the most basic needs and demands of the oppressed people. Since then, the government has been preparing to crush them, and a great power struggle is building.

November 19: All eyes on Nepal
November 19 is going to be a test of strength.

64232 10151995408886940 168932077 n 0622aThe government forces want to stage a rigged election to legitimize their corrupt rule. And a broad coalition of opposition forces (led by the CPN-M, involving over 30 different parties) is calling for boycott, mass resistance, and disruption to deny them legitimacy. Journalists are being driven underground for criticizing the electoral farce.

Millions of people in Nepal don’t want a society that is an extension of India – where life is marked by the extremes of rich and poor, where a corrupt electoral system serves the rule by the super-rich, and where their lives and resources are just commodities for foreign corporations.

The demands of the November 19 uprising will be a revolutionary constitution and a realization of the revolutionary hopes of the people. There is open talk among the revolutionary forces for retaking the road of armed struggle – this time centering on Nepal’s urban centers – to achieve the liberation that Nepal’s poor dream of.

It matters

Everyday, truckloads of Nepali youth (often not even in their teens) are driven across the border into India -- to be sold as servants, or workers in vast sweatshops or as sexual slaves. Their families are impoverished farmers without power. Their country is dominated by worldwide capitalism and Indian intrusion. Their society is marked by a deep patriarchy – even the idea of girls marrying the boys they love is considered shocking and radical.

The hopes of these youth and millions more in Nepal rest on the events of November 19. Many millions more around the world (especially in the villages of nearby India) will be watching – to see if Nepal’s great movement is crushed, or if it is alive.

We urge you to support the November 19 uprisings in Nepal.

Our Kasama network will be staging actions of support, together with others, in the U.S.. We urge you to spread the word, and join us if you can.

Read more:
Nepal's crossroads: Without a people's army, the people have nothing
People's Voice: a new Nepali Maoist journal
It's on: revolutionary openings in Nepal
"May Day in Nepal: if they use arms we'll do the same"
Life and Death for Nepal's Coup Regime

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People in this conversation

  • This is pretty amazing. Let's support this strive for a continuation of the revolution!

  • In reply to: zack

    Agreed, reading this piece was inspiring! What kind of actions and/or demonstrations is Kasama planning in support of Nepal's communist movement?

    I hope (very strongly) that Nepal's revolution succeeds and in doing so inspires revolutionaries the world over. We in the U.S., living as we do in the belly of the imperialist beast, should give it our all in supporting Nepal's Maoist movement.

    Power to the Nepalese people!

  • Guest - B. D. Bista

    Do you think there's a pre-revolutionary situation in Nepal? And if so, then do you think the proletariat and the peasantry have a good organization and a good preparation? And the most important thing, does CPN-Maoist have a revolutionary programme based on the objective situation of Nepal?

  • B.D. Bista, thank you for these great questions. My understanding, which is admittedly from someone far away from Nepal, is that this is the beginning of a much longer road the Nepali Maoists are preparing for. I suspect many of the forms of organization, the program, etc. are still being developed and articulated in a radically new period in Nepal. This election boycott is a challenge to the authority and legitimacy of the ruling regime of Nepal, as a first step on that road.

  • Guest - Raj

    This article is hilarious.

    I have studied in Pokhara, Nepal and transversed Nepal. This article smells of revengeful attitude or collaboration with the Chinese. India has long tried to get rid of the benefits Nepal gets for practically nothing in return. For example, shipping access, unlimited printing and valuation of Nepali rupee at fixed rate, free access to India, free access to fuel and so on with nothing in return.

    The real enemy of Nepal is Nepal itself. Prostitution, drugs, ego and cheats; this is what Nepal is today.

    The fake author needs to introspect and truly depict this. It is really unfortunate that people are being misguided.

  • Raj's comment here is precisely an example of the kind of arrogant colonial chauvinism the people of Nepal have faced. Let's take these points one at a time:

    "India has long tried to get rid of the benefits Nepal gets for practically nothing in return."

    Let's name a few of those things that compose the "nothing in return":
    1. Two-thirds of Nepal's overall territory was stolen from it and given to India by the British Empire
    2. Nepali territory has repeatedly encroached on and seized territory from Nepal
    3. Countless numbers of women are kidnapped or sold into sexual slavery for pimps across the border
    4. Nepal's natural resources (water) are being massively sold off to India, and fact over 80% of the hydro-electric power that Nepal produces is not available to Nepali people.
    5. Nepal is forced to accept open access for business men of the other (much richer) country to enter, shove people around and treat them as if they are unclean animals?
    6. The Nepali people are forced to live in extreme fear of the Indian army coming over their borders and waging a war on them (or at least an economic blockade) if a revolution does happen.

    That is only a handful of the ways that basic daily life is dominated and controlled in Nepal in a colonial way. "Access to shipping" is prodided in a way where Nepal is listed as a state in India. "Valuation of the Nepal ruppee" is exactly the opposite of what you claim, where Nepalis are legally required to accept Indian rupees, and at a higher value than their own money.

    Comment last edited on about 1 year ago by eric ribellarsi
  • Guest - Shubhanga

    In reply to: eric ribellarsi

    Reply to : eric ribellarsi In reply to: Guest (Raj)

    1. The expanding Gorkha empire met with the expanding British empire (in the form of East India company) and lost 2/3 of its land as a part of a truce. 120 years later, the land became a part of independent India. The British did give some portion of it back to Nepal for its services in the suppression of the Indan Sepoy Rebellion in 1857.

    2. I agree. The Indian state has been encroaching Nepali land.

    3. It's true but I don't see how you're connecting that to India taking benefit from Nepal. It is a tragic and criminal issue that has affected people of Nepal, India and South Asia for several decades.

    4. This is utter nonsense. Nepal sometimes sells electricity to India when there is a surplus during peak production seasons. Mostly, however, we fail to meet even half our national demand and end up buying some from India.

    5. Again, false. I agree that the working force here has been exploited and are poorly represented. The labor unions are active and hold significant sway. But they more often than not act as ploys to their respective political parties. Materially, their activities have severly affected the urban working class.

    6. Not true. This is the kind of propoganda that Nepali exteme right (the Mandales, royalists, Hindu nationalists, a faction of UML) and the extreme left (the Mashales, Maoists(of all types) ) are equally adept at. However, its potency appears to have diminished these days.

    The last few days have been revolutionary for Nepal, though not in the manner the radical Maoists would prefer. Despite their efforts to derail the election process through bandhs (strikes) and sporadic bomb blasts (which disproportionately injured the children), Nepali people came out to vote in historic numbers. The turnout is greater than even the first CA election and I think this reflects as much support for a demorcatic process as it does the rejection of Baidhya Maoists' brand of narcissistic politics. I was in a polling station myself(for voting), and it was inspiring to see Nepalis agreeing and arguing with each other, but eventually choosing to settle it through the ballot.

    Regarding the boycott, Nepali democratic movements have a great history of election boycotts, and by any standards, this boycott was a clear failure. This is not insignificant. Of course, the Baidhya Maoists will continue to be a factor in our politics. Nepal, and South Asia as whole, have their share of radical (mostly Maoist) communists that have deep distrust with democratic process and have colluded with all kinds of groups in the political spectrum that share their misapprehension with popular democracy.

    I guess, democracy does need its share of critics. However, the worst thing one could do to the people of Nepal (most of whom are around or below the poverty line) is to disregard their democratic aspirations and romantisize the group of frankly conservative bulk that make up the Baidhya Maoists, despite their staid, puritanical and quiantly Brahminical form of Maoism.

  • Guest - Yoseph

    In reply to: Guest - Raj

    "India has long tried to get rid of the benefits Nepal gets for practically nothing in return."
    IMHO If it were as you say, India a long time ago had already ripped your agreements.
    They are not bound forever to nothing, if they continue with the agreements, it is because they have a profit and not just economically but in terms of defense..

  • Guest - ramesh

    To boycott election is just a start toward long road, not end. So to call it as uprising will be little premature.

  • Guest - Kong

    Please forgive my ignorance; I am new to How should I go about learning how to "join" the "actions of support" to which Comrade Ely referred?

  • Kong, where are you located? In various cities, people are planning protests, demand letter deliveries, and town-hall speak out style events. Perhaps you should organize an event in your city as well :)

  • Guest - b. bunsee

    The Nepalese revolution will have a good effect on iNdia itself where growth and
    development mainly benefits its neo-liberal buorgeois. India needs a revolution even more
    than Nepal. Nepal can become a Cuba in Asia.

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