National Sections of the L5I:

Will the Maoists build socialism in Nepal?

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The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has emerged as the largest party in the Nepalese parliament after they took part in elections in 2006, called in order to form a new government and replace the hated King Gyanendra who had ruled as a dictator since seizing power in a coup in February 2005.

Nepal is an extremely poor and underdeveloped country, with 76 per cent of the workforce employed in agriculture. Since 1996 the Maoists have been waging an armed struggle in rural areas against the government. Despite receiving extensive military aid from US and British imperialism and Indian capitalists, the Royal Nepalese Army failed to crush the Maoist insurgency. This is due to the overwhelming support of the majority of Nepalese peasants and workers who live in extreme poverty.

In April 2006 a mass movement of Nepal's urban poor rose up against the King and, through a series of demonstrations, confrontations with the police and army and a general strike, brought the Nepalese government to its knees. The King was reduced to controlling a few square kilometres of the capital surrounding the royal palace. The rest of the country was paralysed either by urban unrest or the insurgency in the countryside. The Nepalese workers and peasants could have seized power, thrown out the monarchy and corrupt state bureaucracy and formed a new government based on councils of workers and peasants.

It was only the misleadership of the Maoists which prevented this. They refused to give arms to the workers fighting the police and army and did not mobilise their 18,000 strong People's Army in support of the workers struggle. They participated in the massive four day general strike on 5-9 April, but at the decisive moment when the power of the Nepalese government was weakest they did not mobilise the masses for its overthrow. Instead they entered into negotiations with the weak and decrepit parties of the Nepalese bourgeoisie in order to secure a deal for the formation of a "democratic republic".

They did this because of the Stalinist core of Maoism. Josef Stalin adopted a "stages" theory of revolution which was taken up by Mao Zedong in China. It is the idea that the revolution first must accomplish a bourgeois "democratic" stage, the formation of a democratic republic in which capitalism can develop, before the second stage  the socialist revolution  can begin. In practice, in a poor country ruled by a dictator like Nepal this means aborting the revolution when the masses wish to go onwards to socialism and diverting their energy and struggle into support for the "democratic" forces in the ruling class, the same ruling class that exploits them daily. This necessitates the workers and peasants supporting their exploiters. It is a dead end for revolution and can only disarm and disorientate the working class in its struggle.

Even before the April 2006 uprising the leader of the Maoists, Prachanda, was talking about forming a "multi party democracy within a specific constitutional framework that is antifeudal and antiimperialist." While certainly parts of Nepal are ruled in a feudal manner the system the bourgeoisie rest upon and which makes them such servile representatives of imperialism is capitalism. As long as capitalism is not elminated then the power and domination of the ruling class will remain.

We are now seeing the logical conclusion of this theory. The Maoists have won a majority in the elections, which were called as part of the deal to end the protests and the revolutionary struggles of the masses. The monarchy has been removed, although King Gyanendra has been allowed to keep all his private property, and Nepal is now ostensibly a democratic republic. However the Maoists are making it absolutely clear that they will protect the interests of domestic capitalists and the imperialists' investments in Nepal.

The Maoist leader and new Prime Minister of Nepal, Prachanda, has said as much. He stated that since the "national priority" is wealth creation this would require "a capitalistic mode of production". During a meeting between the Maoists and the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Prachanda remarked "Maoists give first priority to the domestic investors, but our party heartily welcomes foreign investors in the country."

He continued: "The root cause of our poverty is a feudalistic political system, feudal way of thinking." This is an attempt to cloud the issue. The source of the poverty afflicting the Nepalese masses is the large land owners the Nepalese capitalists, and the imperialist powers they trade with within the capitalist system.

The Maoists have not dissolved the Nepalese Army which remains a bastion of reaction with its generals and officers loyal to the Nepalese ruling class. While they are trying to integrate their own fighters into the army they have made no demands to democratise the army, to dissolve the reactionary officer corp and replace them with soldiers elected from the rank and file.

The Maoists were elected by millions of Nepalese workers and peasants to bring an end to the poverty, inequality and oppression in Nepal. But their position is to build capitalism, something that can only happen at the expense of the workers and poor. At the same time, the imperialist powers do not trust the Maoists, and with India and China facing growing unrest from peasants and workers who view the coming to power of the Maoists as an act to be emulated, they will face the threat of a coup backed either by the imperialists or the regional powers. In this potentially explosive situation there will be fertile grounds for the building of a revolutionary party opposed to the pro-capitalist stages theory and committed to the overthrow of capitalism, in Nepal and across the whole of Asia.