Nepal, scientific socialism and people’s war
Published Dec 12, 2008 10:59 PM
WW photo: Gary Wilson
Excerpts from a talk given by David Hoskins at the WWP National
Conference, Nov. 15-16.
On Aug. 15 Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elected—with 80 percent of
the vote—Maoist party chairman Prachanda as the country’s prime
Prachanda’s election comes after 12 years of intense political struggle.
The Maoist party is Nepal’s largest party and is immensely popular with
the masses. For more than a decade the party led an armed struggle that toppled
the monarchy and led to the creation of a Constituent Assembly tasked with
drafting a new constitution.
The Maoists placed first in the April Constituent Assembly elections. The first
historic meeting of that assembly culminated in the total abolition of
Nepal’s monarchy and the declaration of Nepal as a federal democratic
From 1996 to 2006 the People’s Liberation Army was successful in
liberating 80 percent of the countryside. Revolutionaries erected parallel
state structures in the liberated zones that provided justice against corrupt
landowners through revolutionary courts. They built roads and clean wells for
drinking water, and provided healthcare to the poor.
In April 2006 the revolutionaries joined hands with a coalition of
parliamentary parties in calling for a countrywide general strike against the
ex-king, Gyanendra. The strike was backed by the revolutionary arms of the PLA
which had launched a daring offensive across the country—overrunning
police posts and army barracks and freeing political prisoners from jails.
As a result, the king restored the parliament, which promptly ordered the
arrest of five of Gyanendra’s high-ranking cabinet officials, declared
Nepal a secular state, and stripped the monarchy of its control of the armed
forces. By June negotiators from the Maoist party and the coalition government
had reached an agreement to establish a new interim government and constitution
and to hold elections to the Constituent Assembly.
The abolition of Nepal’s 240-year-old monarchy eradicated the political
foundation of a brutal caste society that has impoverished the Nepalese masses.
Nepal ranks among the 50 poorest countries in the world. Eighty-five percent of
the population lives in rural areas without dependable electricity, running
water or basic sanitation.
Malnutrition is rampant among children and one-third of the population lives
below the official poverty line. Literacy runs a little less than 50 percent
and only 35 percent among women. Nepal’s infant mortality rate is 62
deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to five deaths per 1,000 in socialist
Almost half the country is unemployed. Poor living conditions fueled the
militant consciousness of the masses and paved the way for the Maoists to enjoy
a mass base of support for the revolution. Even though it is a small,
semifeudal, landlocked country of only 29 million, the advances made during 12
years of Nepal’s revolution are quite significant.
The recent political developments in Nepal are a vindication of scientific
socialism and the strategy of people’s war. Not since the South African
liberation struggle first defeated apartheid and then brought Nelson Mandela
and the African National Congress to power in 1994, has an armed struggle
succeeded in bringing about a political revolution.
Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elections and the Maoists’ first place
victory, the abolition of monarchy and establishment of a democratic republic,
are the successes of a socialist-led armed political revolution. The Maoists
were able to accomplish these goals despite firm support for Nepal’s
feudal monarchy by the United States, Britain and India.
Nepal’s revolution is at a sensitive juncture—land reform has yet
to be addressed. There is extreme pressure from opposition parties to return
all properties seized during the course of the people’s war, and the
Maoists are attempting to integrate their people’s army with the former
Royal Nepalese Army, potentially leaving the masses defenseless if a royalist
counter-revolution is attempted.
Internationally the revolution is isolated—the Soviet Union no longer
exists, China no longer actively supports armed revolutionary movements, and
Cuba still struggles every day just to defend its 50-year-old socialist
revolution. The Maoist leadership is well aware of the obstacles they face and
have called upon revolutionary forces worldwide to support the Nepalese
The state of the revolutionary movement in Asia takes on new significance in
light of the recent advances made in Nepal and the rising global capitalist
crisis. Merrill Lynch chief, John Thain, recently admitted that emerging
markets—like those in the Philippines and India—will not be spared
from this crisis since all equity markets are linked, and each individual
economy will be affected according to its reliance on global trade and
As the crisis escalates in these emerging economies, the necessary conditions
for the advancement of armed struggle may become more favorable. Dedicated,
experienced revolutionaries exist throughout Asia ready to push the struggle
forward in such an event.
The revolutionaries in Nepal are making daring contributions to the
international socialist revolution. It is our responsibility as U.S.
revolutionaries to offer our unconditional support to the Nepalese revolution.
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