NEPAL: A Brave New Approach
(Revolution in nepal is witnessing twists and turns; ups and downs; leaps and bounds as every revolution in the world undergoes.there is not any royal road to the revolution and every revolution have to develop its own path, own set of strategy and tactics.but the proletarian revolutions don’t believe in the empiricist world view and hence take the lessons from the successes and failures of the previous revolutions.in this sense every revolution have a debt of previous revolutions on its head.in the very process development and advancement of any revolution it have to pay the debt of past revolutions by expanding the horizon of the revolutionary praxis and synthesizing the past experiences and in this way develop the revolutionary science into a new level.the process of development and advancement of nepali revolution clearly show this. revolution in Nepal is in a very crucial juncture thus inviting fierce ideological debates in the communist movement.we are posting an article originally appeared in the newly published book – “Democracy, Multiparty System and the withering away of the State, under Proletarian Leadership”this article puts forward the points for discussion in this regard.we think this is the most significant ideological debate in the present revolutionary communist movement — Editor)
Since the defeat of the first wave of socialist and people’s democratic revolutions, there have been many attempts to explore the root causes of these failures. Apart from Bettelheim’s `Class struggles in the USSR’ (1) and W. B. Bland’s `The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union‘ (2), no other major work on the subject in the English language is known to us. Two recent articles (3) dealing with the political economy of the Soviet Union, by T. M. Khabarova and A. I. Shumkov, presented at a `scientific-practical conference’ under the title “Stalin and the modern epoch”, held in Moscow in December 1999, deserve careful attention. Apart from these, most of the investigations undertaken, devoid of any objective data collected from published or unpublished sources as well as of any `fieldwork’, amongst other tools appropriate for social sciences, can hardly be called scientific. Coupled with an absence of open-mindedness, the initial hypotheses remain unproven, left as they were in the beginning of these supposed exploratory studies.
In this respect, the contributions of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), though from a different angle, mark a qualitative departure. They deal with the problems of such failures from the distinct theoretical premises of socialist state and democracy. Doubtless, this has been possible due to the fact that they are actively engaged and leading what increasingly appears to be the impending successful second wave of New Democratic Revolution of the 21st Century. Here, deployment of appropriate theoretical tools has been a crucial necessity in order that the revolution may succeed this time around. ………..
The twin concepts of `dictatorship of the proletariat’ and the `withering away of the state machine’ constitute, inseparably, the foundation of Marxist political science. Yet, during the construction of socialism in the U.S.S.R. they became separated from one another.
Bhattarai traces the historical developments of the Marxist concepts of state and democracy as follows:
“……For instance, on the question of the state in Marx’s time, as there was the need to fight against the anarchist tendency, which tended to negate the state instantly, Marx and Engels had to stress more on the ‘necessity’ of a transitional state in the form of dictatorship of the proletariat. When this ‘necessity’ aspect was one-sidedly exaggerated by the revisionists of the Second International and sought to perpetuate the bourgeois state through cosmetic ‘reforms’, Lenin launched a vicious ideological struggle against it and developed the new Soviet state power after carrying out the October Revolution. On Lenin’s death and during the period of Third International and Stalin, though there was mechanistic stress on the ‘necessity’ of dictatorship of the proletariat from a dogmato-revisionist angle, the question of continuous revolution and withering away of the state was put on the back burner and consequently the dictatorship of the proletariat itself got distorted and ultimately degenerated into bureaucratic bourgeois dictatorship or totalitarianism. It was only during the period of Mao that both the revisionist and dogmato-revisionist tendencies were attacked and a balanced stress was placed on both the questions of dictatorship of the proletariat and of ‘continuous revolution’ and withering away of the state. As Mao’s efforts during the short period were grossly inadequate and incomplete, the revolutionaries of the present age should dare go beyond all the past experiences and build a new type of state power while firmly grasping the question of dictatorship of the proletariat and continuous revolution. ” (This volume, page……)
And further on,
“Though the concept of New Democratic state developed by Mao is generally correct and appropriate, the CPN (Maoist) has found it imperative to further develop the concept of democracy in the light of the past experiences of counter-revolutions and continuously changing national and international conditions.” (Ibid, page…..)
With this brave stance, Bhattarai and the CPN (Maoist) have shaken the age-old practice that made the communists outside the Soviet Union reliant on the latter to do the thinking for them, in the name of defence of the first workers’ state of the world. The declaration that “the CPN (Maoist) has found it imperative to further develop the concept of democracy” confirms our appraisal of the concrete source of theoretical developments by the CPN (Maoist).
The new thinking has culminated in an outstanding contribution to the science of socialism:
“Similarly, as practiced during the GPCR (`Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’, editor) such methods like guaranteeing freedom of expression, press, strike etc. for the masses, public criticism of and mass action against persons in high authority of Party and state, etc. should be institutionalized. Also, drawing correct lessons from the bitter experiences of failure of the masses to stage organized rebellion against counter-revolution in the past, we should ensure a system in the new context whereby political parties may be allowed to get organized keeping within definite progressive and revolutionary constitutional limits and they may be encouraged to function not only in a ‘cooperative’ manner but in a ‘competitive’ spirit vis-à-vis the formal Communist Party. There can be no objective and logical reason for the Communist Party claiming itself to be the representative of the majority proletarian and oppressed classes to hesitate to enter into political competition within a definite constitutional framework, once the economic monopoly of the feudal and bourgeois classes over land and capital and military monopoly over the mercenary professional army, which are the sources of their political hegemony, are thoroughly smashed. One should earnestly acknowledge that this is not an advocacy of bourgeois pluralism but is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist method to objectively solve contradictions among the people as long as the class division in society exists. Though it could not be practiced for various reasons in the past, the fact that Mao himself was contemplating in that direction can be deduced from his following statement: “Which is better, to have just party or several? As we see it now, it’s perhaps better to have several parties. This has been true in the past and may well be so for the future; it means long-term coexistence and mutual supervision.” (Mao 1956: 296)
Whatever it may be, we should be prudent and daring enough to develop proletarian democracy or people’s democracy as per the new needs of the twenty-first century. This is the rationale of the new decision of our Party, under the leadership of Chairman Com. Prachanda, in relation to the development of democracy. Moreover, keeping into consideration our specific situation of existence of autocratic monarchy and non-completion of even a bourgeois republic, we should not rule out the possibilities of having to pass through various mixed and transitional forms of democracy in the process of marching from autocratic monarchy through bourgeois democracy to proletarian democracy. ” (Ibid, page….)
We have purposely cited these lengthy excerpts as they sum up the basic contents of this volume, consisting of the standpoint of the CPN (Maoist) on the issues of the state and democracy, as expressed in the statement of the Central Committee of the Party in May, 2003, under the title: “Present Situation And Our Historical Task”, (`The Worker’, No 9, February 2003), followed by two explanatory landmark articles by the two highest ranking leaders of the Party.
We would like to mention here that our studies, though still very limited and mainly from fieldwork in Azerbaijan, suggest that democracy was seen differently by the industrial working class and the intelligentsia in the then socialist countries. It was sections of the intelligentsia, whose social origins are still not fully understood by us, that led the counter-revolutions while the working class was largely passive onlooker, sometimes bewildered. Of course, a large section of workers did see through the `democracy game’, but were frustratingly unable to react in any useful manner. What is needed is a re-examination of the application of the concept of `vanguard party’ during the construction of socialism, in the light of almost total isolation of the Communist Party from the masses.
There are a few weaknesses in the CPN (Maoist) positions under discussion. While observations have been made on the developments of the Soviet state and democracy during Lenin’s lifetime and during the Stalin era, with which we would generally agree, a comprehensive research on the associated problems encountered by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during different phases of socialist construction is lacking. A solitary paragraph on the Stalin era in this respect presents a rather oversimplified account. The C.C. statement and the articles make no reference to Stalin’s defence of the `one party system’ in his document, `On the Draft Constitution of the U.S.S.R.’ in 1936. And, contrary to what Bhattarai asserts that the issue of the “withering away of the state was put on the back burner…”, the issue was in fact raised from time to time and was dealt with fundamentally and in an unorthodox manner by Stalin in the concluding section of his report to the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The issue was taken up by a few others at that Congress, and there are reasons to believe, at different levels in the pre-Congress discussions. A systematic study of the theses adopted in these documents is unavoidable if we are to unravel the factors governing their origins. The relevant documents are given in appendices I & II.
Stalin considered the encirclement of the Soviet Union by capitalist forces as the sole criterion to justify the continuation of the state. His positions on the withering away of the state appear to be tantamount to the `abolition’ of the state. Otherwise, it is difficult to appreciate how hostile capitalist encirclement was preventing gradual elimination of `state interference in social relations’ or replacement of `government of persons by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production’ (Engels). This is particularly pertinent when the socialist state was characterised by Stalin as a `different type of state’ not to be used any more to suppress internal exploiting classes as they were considered to have been eliminated. It can be assumed that the specific condition of hostile international environment with its severe internal reflections was rendering the judgment of the C.P.S.U seriously blurred. But despite significant weakening of the capitalist encirclement with the emergence of People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe and China, at the end of the Second World War, the issue did not appear to have been re-assessed at the 19th Congress of the C.P.S.U. held in 1951, two years before Stalin’s death.
The CPN (Maoist) stance and the explanatory articles have adequately dealt with the consequences of one party system, in the light of devastating experiences of the socialist countries. Here they stand uniquely in their creative pursuit for developing the science of socialism to satisfy the conditions of the twenty-first century. But, there are a few questions here that deserve further attention. First, although Bhattarai has categorically denied any “advocacy of bourgeois pluralism”, the endorsement of the “competitive spirit” is still within that sphere. The latter’s replacement with class struggle in a non-antagonistic manner seems more appropriate, “once the economic monopoly of the feudal and bourgeois classes over land and capital and military monopoly over the mercenary professional army, which are the sources of their political hegemony, are thoroughly smashed”, but “as long as the class division in society exists“. (Italics added). Second, the relationship of the `two-line struggle within the Communist Party’ with the competition (or non-antagonistic class struggle) outside has not been established.
Then there are the problems of democracy within the Communist Party, even before its capture of state power, which become inherently associated with and inseparable from problems of the socialist state, when it is the ruling party. Particularly in those countries where armed struggle has become the principal form of struggle, it is inevitable that the Party will be forced to work underground; the operation of democracy in the Party in this situation assumes a very difficult, but unavoidably crucial, issue. The CPN (Maoist) position does not address itself to these problems.
The above mentioned weaknesses are not insurmountable; these are areas for future work. The international communist movement will be grateful to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) for bringing the issue of the withering away of the state back on the agenda. And the suggested multi-party system after the smashing of the old state is a gigantic step forward in Marxist political theory, which could open up a completely new vista and direction for a fresh beginning of the revolutionary movement in the advanced capitalist countries. The contributions of the CPN (Maoist) in the domain of scientific theory of socialism match their ever-increasing successes on the battlefield. These are great inspirations for the oppressed people of the world, particularly in South Asia. Perhaps it would be no exaggeration to say that what Lenin intended to do in his planned second volume of the `State and Revolution’ and what Stalin wished Lenin’s disciples to accomplish, has now been taken up by the Maoists in Nepal.
Long live the Nepalese Revolution!
1. Class struggles in the U.S.S.R: Charles Bettelheim, (in three volumes), Monthly Review Press, New York, 1976.
2. The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union: W. B. Bland,
Communist League, U.K, 1980 & 1995
3. `The Soviet economy of the Stalin period – the highest achievement of world economic thought and practice of the XX century’: T. M. Khabarova, Candidate of philosophical sciences; Member, Bolshevik platform of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
`The experience of the “Stalinist economy” in the USSR and Marxism’: A. I. Shumkov, Candidate of Technological Sciences; Member, Russian Communist Workers Party.
– Published in `Stalin and the Modern Epoch’, Moscow, December 2002.
Scientific Socialism Research Unit,