Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ian Martin's Talk At The New School

Ian Martin: James Bond Of The UN Peacemaking Ambitions

Ian Martin 

The Peace Process in Nepal: is it failing?

Ian Martin

New School, New York

6 November 2009

I am grateful to Ashok Gurung for asking me to speak here at the New School. As you know, Ashok, it was many weeks ago that you asked me to do this, and to propose a title for my talk. Alas, I didn’t know then just how appropriate this title was going to prove by tonight. In recent days there have been calls for the revision of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, accusations and counter-accusations that it is being broken by Maoist agitation or threats of mobilization of the Army, and calling into question even of the 12-point Understanding, which was the very foundation of the peace process. It is indeed timely to ask whether the peace process is failing; if so, why; and what is required to save it.

For over three and a half years, I spoke in Nepal and on Nepal on behalf of the United Nations – first representing the High Commissioner for Human Rights, up to and during the Jana Andolan, and then representing the Secretary-General. I no longer speak for the UN on Nepal, and tonight I want to make very clear that I am speaking only for myself. Some may question my right to speak critically of events in Nepal, but I do so solely as a friend of Nepal, and as someone who deeply wants to see Nepal go forward in peace, respect for human rights, and socio-economic progress for all its diverse peoples.

In another sense, too, I want to speak tonight in a different voice. In Kathmandu, one tries to follow the details of every twist and turn of the complex politics of Nepal, and whatever is reported in the daily media - and in the positions I held, I was very often expected to comment upon it. It is easy to fail to see the wood for the trees, and hard to maintain a focus on the deeper realities of the situation. Here in New York, one looks through the other end of the telescope. And sitting as I am briefly in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, which follows and sometimes mediates conflicts around t
The UN headquarters in New YorkImage via Wikipedia
he world, one has more of a comparative perspective. So this evening I want to try to address what I regard as the larger underlying issues of the peace process in Nepal, which I believe is the way to address the question of what needs to be done to get it back on track.

The fundamentals of the peace process were negotiated in the 12-point Understanding, agreed in Delhi in November 2005 between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) – which from now on I will refer to just as the Maoists – and the Seven-Party Alliance – the alliance of political parties represented in the Parliament elected in 1999 and dissolved in 2002 – whose leading negotiators were from Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress. It was an unusual basis for a peace process, because it was not an agreement between the rebels and those in control of the state and its army, but an alliance to end control of the state by what it called “autocratic monarchy”. But as the literature expects peace processes to do, it came out of a stalemate on the battlefield: the recognition of the Maoists that they would never be able to capture the state by force of arms, and the failure of the then Royal Nepalese Army to achieve victory over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) even when fully unleashed, latterly by King Gyanendra.

The bargain that was then struck between the two sides was crucial, and needs to be remembered today. The Maoists committed themselves to the values and norms of multi-party democracy, human rights and rule of law. The parliamentary parties accepted what had been the Maoists’ agenda of election of a constituent assembly and “progressive restructuring of the state”. The combatants on both sides of the armed conflict – “the armed Maoist force and the royal army” – would be kept under UN or other international supervision in the course of the election. The 12-point Understanding became the basis on which the people of Nepal could unite – under the leadership of civil society, as much as of the political parties – to express their demand for peace and change.

Once the Jana Andolan had compelled the King to step aside, a fuller peace process began to be negotiated. The Seven-Party Alliance was now in the stronger position. The old Parliament wa
Cropped image of Ban Ki-moon. Description: Sou...Image via Wikipedia
s reinstated as the basis for a Nepali Congress-led government, contrary to the Maoists’ proposal of a national political conference as the basis for an interim government. The new government had command of the Nepalese Army, and the strong backing of the Indian and US governments in insisting on not only cantonment of the Maoist army, as agreed in the 12-point Understanding, but also what came to be called “weapons separation”, before the Maoists could join an interim parliament and government. The Maoists agreed to storage of their weapons under UN surveillance, but not to surrendering ultimate control.

The fuller peace agreement which was then negotiated was enshrined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and then in the Interim Constitution. Since then numerous agreements have for the most part repeated commitments to implement them, although they have also led to revisions in the Interim Constitution. Five aspects of the peace agreements have been unchanging and are fundamental, and it is the extent to which they have been respected or not respected which I want to examine this evening.

The first fundamental is the commitment to power-sharing and consensus. From the 12-point Understanding on, the major parliamentary parties and the Maoists committed themselves to work together in an interim legislature and government. The Interim Constitution required the Government to conduct itself “consistently with the aspirations of the united people’s movement, political consensus and culture of mutual cooperation”. This requirement was to prevail not just until the election of the constituent assembly, but until a new constitution had been adopted. Before the election was held, the parties committed themselves, whatever the result, to continue to work together in a new interim government to steer Nepal through the process of drafting the new constitution. The assumption was that it would comprise all major parties in accordance with their respective strength at the ballot box.

The second fundamental is the commitment of the Maoists to the transformation of their movement, to conform to democratic multi-party norms and to respect the rule of law. This was to include allowing those from the other political parties whom they had displaced to return home, recover land and property unjustly seized, and carry on political activities. First made in the 12-point Understanding, this commitment has been regularly reiterated, and once the Young Communist League had been established, has included a promise to end its paramilitary functioning.

The third fundamental is the commitment to transformation in the security sector: to the “integration and rehabilitation” of former Maoist combatants, and to an action plan for “democratization” of the Nepalese Army, determining its appropriate size, developing its national and inclusive character, and training it in the norms and values of democracy and human rights.

The fourth fundamental is the commitment to political, economic and social transformation. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement set out a radical and ambitious agenda, which included land reform and anti-corruption measures, as well as a general goal of economic security for backward communities. The Interim Constitution reflected in its preamble the commitment of the Seven-Party Alliance as well as the Maoists to “progressive restructuring of the state”, in order to resolve the existing problems of the country relating to class, caste, region and gender.

The fifth and last fundamental is the commitment to address the needs of victims of the conflict, and to build the rule of law by ending impunity. Repeated commitments have been made to investigate the fate of the disappeared, compensate victims of the conflict, enable displaced persons to return, establish a comprehensive truth commission, and – less frequently and more reluctantly - take action against those responsible for major human rights violations.

Such commitments are common to peace processes, and one can perhaps say that they are requirements of a successful peace process: transitional power-sharing; democratic transformation; security sector reform; addressing root causes of the conflict; and ending impunity. So what has so far been the history of the fulfillment of each of these commitments in Nepal?

The history of power-sharing has been an unhappy one from the outset. The UML as well as the Maoists were forthright in protesting the lack of collective decision-making within the Nepali Congress-led governments, and the same complaint applied to the Maoist-led government after the election. Common minimum programmes have been negotiated among coalition parties, and then seemingly forgotten. Throughout successive governments, each party has tended to treat the ministries it controlled as its own fiefdom and a source of jobs and rewards for its own supporters, rather than advancing proposals for consensus decision-making in the public interest. This has had particularly adverse consequences for the peace process in that the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction has been from its creation a partisan ministry, rather than a consensus mechanism of peace implementation. Maoist unhappiness at Nepali Congress control of the Peace Ministry led to a promise in the 23-point Agreement of December 2007 to create a multi-party High Level Peace Commission alongside the Ministry, but it was never created, and the Maoists were no more interested in creating it once they took control of the Peace Ministry than had been the Nepali Congress.

The most serious breakdown in power-sharing and consensus decision-making, of course, came in the aftermath of the Constituent Assembly election. The outcome of the election had been, and continues to be, difficult for many in the non-Maoist parties to accept. The Maoists had to concede the creation of a Presidency before the vote to implement the republic went ahead, but they resisted the claim to the post made by the Nepali Congress as second largest party. The election of outgoing Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala as President while Maoist Chairman Prachanda became Prime Minister would have kept in play the uneasy partnership that had been the main pillar of the peace process, but the Maoists feared that it would lead to the Presidency becoming a strong alternative power centre. Once Mr Koirala was denied the Presidency and the Nepali Congress was refused the Defence Ministry, the voices in the party which preferred to remain in opposition to a Maoist-led government prevailed.

In the manoeuvring over posts, the Maoists also alienated the UML, and by the time the new coalition government was formed, relationships among the parties were irrevocably soured. The Maoists’ main coalition partner, the UML, was also its main protagonist at the local level, where their youth groups clashed, sometimes with fatal consequences. Although two of the three Madhesi parties joined the government and the third initially supported it, the big three parties never brought Madhesi representatives into their main negotiations. The Seven-Party Alliance, once the Maoists had joined it, had provided a forum where at critical moments a degree of consensus around the peace process could be re-established: but after the election no such body was in operation.

Power-sharing and consensus-building have failed at two further levels. The political parties have, to this day, been unable to rise above their partisan interests and agree on a formula to re-establish multi-party local government bodies, despite the fact that these are vital to the development agenda. Plans to establish local peace committees were not a substitute, and have been only belatedly and partly implemented. The Constituent Assembly itself, although unwieldy as a decision-making body, is remarkably representative, and has seen some promising alliances of women and marginalized groups across party lines. It could have been a forum for real debate and consensus-building, instead of which all major parties have used it as a forum for confrontation, with Madeshi parties, the Nepali Congress, the UML and today the Maoists all at different times engaging in blockages and boycotts, instead of democratic debate.

Today some in Nepal argue that there is nothing uncommon in international democratic practice about a government based on a simple majority of the elected body. True enough, but before normal political competition can begin in Nepal, there is a peace process to complete, a constitution to agree upon as the framework for future competition. That is why we urged all parties to work together in government after the election. And from a peace process perspective, it is patently obvious that a peace process based on power-sharing cannot be expected to succeed if not just one major party, but one side to the peace process is not part of the power-sharing – especially if it happens to have emerged from an election as the largest single party. This is not just a matter of one political party feeling aggrieved, but about maintaining a viable peace process, which I believe is why the Secretary-General has expressed his agreement with all those in Nepal who say that a national unity government is desirable now, as it has always been.

The second fundamental aspect of the peace process is the commitment of the Maoists to the transformation of their movement, to conform to democratic multi-party norms and to respect the rule of law. Maoist leaders argue that this commitment is sincere, and ask for recognition that the transformation of a movement based on armed struggle is bound to take time. So it is, of course. But they must expect to be judged by what they do, as well as what they say, in private as well as in public. They created their Young Communist League, not solely as a movement of law-abiding youth activists based in their own communities, but as a paramilitary formation in quasi-barracks under former commanders from the People’s Liberation Army. They used it in the contest for the Constituent Assembly election to deny other parties the space in some localities for free and fair campaigning. During that campaign, their rhetoric played on fears of possible return to armed struggle to encourage voters to see the election of Maoists as the way to secure the peace. Public statements before and since the election have threatened “revolt”. What is known of internal debate has often suggested two lines, with the commitment to peaceful democratic practice uncertain in the long-term. The Shaktikor videotape revealed a highly disturbing private discourse, as do statements or interviews by Maoist leaders which talk of final insurrection to capture state power. It is time for one line, not two: the line expressed in the 12-point Understanding, of unambiguous and lasting commitment to multi-party democracy.

Some people saw the attempted replacement of the Chief of Army Staff as the last step in a creeping capture of the state. I see it in more complex terms, coming as it did after a series of highly political statements and interventions by the Chief which would have led to action in any country with democratic control of its armed forces. But democratic control does not mean partisan control. On the wider charge of state capture, the Maoists need to show a convincing commitment to independent state institutions, especially an independent judiciary. But so do other parties: some aspects of alleged Maoist state capture seem not so very different from the way in which each party in government has sought to have its supporters in the institutions of the state.

The third fundamental aspect of the peace process, the future of the armies which fought the war, is the hardest to assess, because it was not fully negotiated: the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution only set out processes towards solutions, not the expected outcome. But despite suggestions to the contrary, the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants to be determined by the special committee was intended and understood to mean integration of some Maoist combatants into state security forces, including the Nepalese Army. The action plan for democratization of the Nepalese Army was intended and understood to provide for a degree of downsizing and for recruitment which was more inclusive of under-represented groups, as well as to replace control by the Palace with control by the government. And the prohibition on any new recruitment by either army which began in the ceasefire code of conduct meant just that: no new recruitment, not recruitment to fill vacancies in an army swollen by wartime. The agreements did not address the future of the paramilitary Armed Police Force, or of the Maoist militia.

The Maoists were the first to break the ban on new recruitment. As the cantonments were being established in late 2006, they swelled the numbers there by bringing in young people, many of them minors, attracted by promises of salary payments and future recruitment into the security forces. Together with no planning and poor government performance, this contributed to abysmal living conditions in the cantonments. It also gave rise to long arguments over payments, as non-Maoist ministers resented being expected to fund the living costs and pay salaries for numbers of Maoist personnel they knew to be grossly inflated, and to do so by handing over lump sums which they knew would be used for wider party purposes, including sustaining the YCL.

Meanwhile, the Nepalese Army maintained that its formal acceptance of the authority of the interim governments and of the transition to a republic, distasteful as it was to many of its officers, meant that it was now democratized. In fact, accountability to the Palace having come to an end, the Army was more autonomous than ever, with no effective control by an acutely underdeveloped Ministry of Defence. Although the Comprehensive Peace Agreement required the Interim Council of Ministers to prepare and implement the action plan for the Nepalese Army, the Army has argued publicly that any downsizing should only be considered by a government elected under the new constitution, and openly rejected the Government’s stated commitment to recruitment of Madhesis. It went ahead with new recruitment to fill vacancies without prior notification to the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee, which is responsible for monitoring the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies, where the prohibition of new recruitment had been reiterated, and where the Nepalese parties had given final authority for reporting on compliance to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

From very early on, the United Nations, wanting to prepare the ground for UNMIN’s exit, pressed the parties to commence the processes they themselves had agreed. The special committee was established in mid-2007, headed by the Nepali Congress Peace Minister: it met once, but never met again until it was reconstituted after the election. Neither the Maoist nor the non-Maoist parties made any effort to commence serious discussion on integration and rehabilitation. The Maoists did sometimes demand action on integration, especially when they were reflecting the frustration of those in the cantonments about the uncertainty of their future. But ultimately their leaders preferred to leave it until after the election: the continued existence of their army strengthened their hand while the election was being held and beyond, while settling its future was bound to be a difficult issue inside the party and the PLA. The other parties assumed that their position would be strengthened and that of the Maoists weakened after the election, when the issue of the armies would be easier to solve on their chosen terms.

After the election, it was late October 2008 before the Government announced the re-establishment of the special committee, only for it to give rise to objections from the Nepali Congress regarding lack of consultation, composition and terms of reference. Thus it was January before the new special committee held its first meeting. During the long period in which no serious negotiation or technical analysis of options had been taking place, public statements by political and military voices had demonstrated the clash of divergent opinions. The Maoists dragged their feet on the discharge of those disqualified by UNMIN’s verification, which should have been immediate. The Nepalese Army’s active lobbying against any integration of Maoist combatants into its ranks became a major element of the crisis which led to the downfall of the Maoist-led government, and today any progress is hostage to the overall absence of political cooperation.

Three years after Maoist combatants were cantoned and restrictions were placed on the Nepalese Army, pending what was to be a June 2007 election, both armies are understandably restless. It is remarkable, in terms of any international comparison, that there have been so few serious breaches of agreements, and fortunately for the political leaders, UNMIN is available to be blamed when they do occur, rather than their own failure to address the issues that could lead beyond temporary arrangements. But it is laying up further problems for the future to increase rather than reduce the numbers of personnel for which the state has a responsibility, without any plan for the future of Nepal’s security sector: an army of wartime proportions and a paramilitary raised to fight the Maoist insurgency, whose numbers are being increased, alongside commitments to Maoist former combatants and undertakings to increase recruitment of under-represented groups.

I shall say less about the fourth fundamental aspect of the peace process, the commitment to political, economic and social transformation, but not because I think it less important. Those who talk of the Maoists “joining the mainstream” overlook the fact that while the former insurgents committed themselves to multiparty democracy, and must be held to that commitment, they did not abandon their commitment to fundamental change: indeed, the other political parties undertook to make such a commitment themselves. In so far as this referred to the end of the monarchy, it has been accomplished. In so far as it refers to restructuring the state, it is largely a matter for the new constitution, and requires a restoration of political cooperation if consensus is to be reached in the Constituent Assembly, where even a two-thirds majority requires Maoist support. But three years since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is long enough to lament the inability of politicians in Kathmandu, or for the most part locally, to cooperate so as to bring some dividends of peace and beginnings of change to the poor and marginalized majority of Nepal’s people. No effort has been made to forge a common vision for the “New Nepal” that is so often spoken about.

The fifth fundamental aspect of the peace process, the commitment to address the needs of victims of the conflict, and to build the rule of law by ending impunity, sadly can also be quickly addressed. Each side of the former conflict is concerned for its own victims, but little concerned for those it made victims, or for those who were simply caught in the middle of a ruthless war. Processes for compensation have been inadequate, and a process for addressing post-conflict issues of land and property has been non-existent. Three and a half years after the first commitment, in the Ceasefire Code of Conduct, to investigate the fate of the disappeared, a commission of investigation has yet to be established. Not a single person has been properly brought to justice for a major human rights violation committed during the armed conflict or since. The Nepalese Army protects from the courts those involved in the killing of Maina Sunawar, the Maoists protect from the courts those involved in the killing of Ram Hari Shrestha, and the Nepali Congress is uninterested in accountability for the killings of YCL cadres by the security detail of one of its election candidates. Major reports by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on mass disappearances and systematic torture by the Nepalese Army in Maharajgunj barracks and in Bardiya district make no impact on Kathmandu opinion.

This summary of the non-implementation of key commitments of the peace process might be different if there had been serious mechanisms to monitor implementation. In the Ceasefire Code of Conduct, the two sides said that they would arrange for monitoring by national and international monitoring teams: the short-lived Ceasefire Code of Conduct Monitoring Committee, which included individuals of some independence, ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and undertakings to replace it came to nothing. The agreement of 8 November 2006 which preceded the CPA required a High-Level Joint Monitoring Committee to be formed to monitor implementation, and the CPA itself provided for a National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission. The August 2007 agreement with the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum required a United Monitoring Mechanism to periodically review implementation. The 23-point Agreement of December 2007 required formation – within a month – of both a High Level Committee for Monitoring the Effective Implementation of the CPA and other Agreements, and a High Level Peace Commission. The post-election agreement of June 2008 required the formation of several commissions including a National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission – again within a month! The Common Minimum Programme of the Maoist-led government repeated this commitment, and said that the National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission would monitor the compliance and implementation of past agreements and understandings. This was again reiterated in the Common Minimum Programme of the present government, which also made a fresh commitment to a committee to monitor the implementation of agreements with the Madhesis. Yet despite these repeated commitments, there has been to this day no effective mechanism for monitoring implementation of the peace process, except for the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies, under which UNMIN regularly convenes the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee, which has now held over one hundred meetings.

Independent monitoring is an area where Nepal’s civil society might have played an important role. But despite the leading role which civil society, marginalized groups and women played in the Jana Andolan, peace process negotiations have been limited to a small group of political leaders, mostly from higher castes, and all of them men. Even if uninvited by the political parties, civil society actors might have mounted independent scrutiny of their fulfillment of their commitments; instead, much of civil society has reverted to partisan perspectives. The agreements with Madhesi and Janajati groups must be now regarded as part of the peace process, and sincerity in their implementation is also crucial for building consensus around a new constitution.

If this is the state of Nepal’s peace process, is it bound to fail? You may by now be surprised to hear me say that I believe that while it is in danger of failing, it is not yet bound to fail. My suggestions for the way forward correspond to my analysis of its fundamentals.

First, the commitment to power-sharing and consensus-building must be re-established. It should be reflected in a national unity government, including both sides to the original peace process and all major political forces, in accordance with commitments before the election and with the election outcome. Effective mechanisms should at last be established to implement and monitor implementation of peace process commitments and commitments to inclusion, and should include strong representation of women and marginalized groups, and independent civil society voices. Power-sharing and consensus-building should similarly be applied in local government. At the national level, priority should be given to building consensus around a new constitution. The Constituent Assembly should be a place of vigorous debate, and should never be impeded in its functioning either as interim legislature or as constitution-making body, or restricted in its right to discuss major national issues. The parties should cooperate together, and with civil society, in a mechanism to ensure continuous implementation of peace process commitments and resolve the most difficult issues for the new constitution.

Second, the Maoist leadership must be consistent, in public and private, in words and deeds, in its immediate and long-term commitment to democratic multi-party norms. The YCL – and other youth movements – must be instructed in these norms and in full respect for the rule of law. The sincerity of the leadership is to be judged by the action it takes when its cadres act outside these norms, and by what it says to its comrades as well as to the international community.

Third, hard discussions should take place towards an overall plan for the security sector. “Civilian supremacy” has become a Maoist slogan, but democratic control of the armed forces is a universal principle and the common interest of all political parties. Within such a plan, the size of the Nepalese Army and the role of the Armed Police Force should be decided, inclusive recruitment policies designed, and integration of former Maoist combatants into politically-neutral security forces carried out, along with rehabilitation of those who do not want or qualify for integration.

Fourth, a common minimum programme for socio-economic advancement of the poor and excluded should be agreed upon - and implemented. While restructuring the state is to be agreed upon in the new constitution, and political parties will compete in future on the basis of their respective programmes, they have agreed to embark together on real change.

Fifth, there should be equitable compensation for all categories of victims of the conflict, real efforts to investigate disappearances, and justice for the worst abuses by either side. All political parties should support impartial law enforcement, instead of protecting their own loyalists from the law.

Can this happen? At this moment I do not know, and it may seem unlikely. But I believe that this is along the lines of what the overwhelming majority of Nepal’s long-suffering people would want to see happen, and I believe that it is the interests of those concerned for stability in Nepal, including India. When I went back to the 12-point Understanding, I was struck by one of its least-often quoted commitments: that both the Maoists and the parliamentary parties would engage in “soul-searching” and not repeat their mistakes of the past. I hope that this commitment can be implemented in time to maintain the peace and pursue the change which both sides promised the people of Nepal.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Security

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Friday, November 06, 2009

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Everest Poker

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Fun Holiday Eyeglasses From Zenni

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Monday, November 02, 2009

The Baburam Interview With The WPRM

Oct. 2009

Nepal: Interview with Comrade Baburam Bhattarai
Posted by Member-WPRM (Britain)

Protracted People’s War (PPW) is a military strategy to be adopted in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial context, and, in the different context of imperialism, could be applied in a modified form even in imperialist countries. But basically the theory of PPW as developed by Mao was to be applied in semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries. That’s why the military line adopted in the case of Nepal was basically a line of Protracted People’s War, which we developed through the course of our struggle, applying it very creatively in Nepal for ten years.”
baburam_bhattaraiWPRM: Thank you for meeting with us today. In your article in The Worker #4 ‘The Political Economy of the People’s War’ you write that “the transformation of one social system into another, or the destruction of the old by the new, always involves force and a revolutionary leap. The People’s War is such a means of eliminating the old by a new force and of taking a leap towards a new and higher social system.” Why then did the Maoist party enter the peace process and attempt to change society through Constituent Assembly elections?

Baburam Bhattarai: This is a very important question related to the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM). The basic motive force of history is the contradiction between the existing level of productive forces and the production relations within society. At a certain stage this contradiction sharpens and there is a break with the old relationship and a leap to the new one. We call this social revolution. That leap necessarily confronts a certain force, because every set of productive relations is backed by a state, and the state means basically the organised force of the army. To break with the old mode of production and leap into a new one, you have to break all the relations within the state backed by the army. And that inevitably requires the use of force. This is a law of history and a basic principle of MLM which nobody can revise. If you revise or abandon it then you are no longer a Marxist. There is no question of our party ever ending this basic principle.

By adhering to this basic principle we waged armed Protracted People’s War (PPW) from 1996 to 2006. But after 2006 we made a certain departure in our tactical line. Some people are confused about this and think we have abandoned PPW forever and adopted a peaceful path of social development. This confusion needs to be cleared. What we are saying is that People’s War is a multifaceted war where both the armed and political form of struggle needs to be combined.

Protracted People’s War (PPW) is a military strategy to be adopted in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial context, and, in the different context of imperialism, could be applied in a modified form even in imperialist countries. But basically the theory of PPW as developed by Mao was to be applied in semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries. That’s why the military line adopted in the case of Nepal was basically a line of Protracted People’s War, which we developed through the course of our struggle, applying it very creatively in Nepal for ten years. And we were successful in developing this war from the stage of strategic defensive to the stage of strategic equilibrium and on to the stage of strategic offensive. We basically established the strategic offensive, which means the final stage of capturing state power and which must be meticulously calculated and applied. If you don’t take note of the existing balance of forces, both politically and militarily in the country and outside, firstly it will be difficult to capture state power and secondly even after capturing state power it will be difficult to sustain it. That’s why we introduced certain new features.

People know only the negative part, but what they forget, or what we have been unable to propagate well since the beginning of the PPW, is the new context of world imperialism and the specific geopolitical context of Nepal. In this context, our party decided that we need to adopt some of the features of general insurrection within the strategy of PPW. Therefore the basic strategy will be PPW, but some of the features of general insurrection, which relies on people’s movement in the urban areas and leads to the final insurrection in the city, the tactics of the general insurrection, should also be incorporated within that strategy. This has been the basic question within our party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN(M)]. This idea we first introduced in our national unity congress in 1991 and after that when we had our 2nd national conference in 2001. At that time we developed the theory of fusion of PPW and general insurrection to a new level, so that in the specific context of Nepal, while adhering to the basic path of PPW, the tactic of general insurrection should be fused within that strategy. That’s why at that conference we put emphasis on this aspect. But we thought that when we developed this new political line, developed through the course of the People’s War in Nepal, that it needed to be assessed more thoroughly in the international community of Maoists.

We called this one of the features of Prachanda Path, which we regarded as a new development in the theory of MLM. After 2001 we still adhered to the People’s War but we resorted to some of the tactics of general insurrection, that’s why when we were in the People’s War we always talked of political negotiations and we actually had two rounds of political negotiations. During that time we raised the issues of Constituent Assembly, abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a bourgeois democratic republic. These were the tactics we followed while we were in the PPW. Why we did that was because in the specific conditions of Nepal, though we are in the stage of transition from feudalism to capitalism, in our case the feudal system had been basically led by an autocratic monarchy for thousands of years. In most third world countries autocratic monarchy has already been abolished, and in those countries though the basic foundation of society is still semi-feudal, semi-colonial, the political superstructure was led by bourgeois democrats. But in our case even the political superstructure was dominated by the autocratic feudal monarchy, the national bourgeoisie was very weak and they could not carry forward the bourgeois democratic revolution. It was the proletarian party which had to take the lead to abolish the autocratic monarchy and introduce a bourgeois democracy, which could be again transformed through struggle into New Democracy, a proletarian democratic system.

Therefore we adopted these tactics, and after 2001 we followed these tactics and by 2005 we had reached the stage of strategic offensive in the PPW. Then we thought it was time to focus our activity, to shift our activities to the urban areas. By that time we had liberated most of the countryside, where the poor peasantry lives, and under 25% of our population lives in urban areas. There the petty bourgeoisie class and other classes needed to be mobilised if we were to complete the stage of strategic offensive and capture the state in a revolutionary manner. After 2005 we decided to shift our activity to the urban areas, because without mobilising the masses in urban areas we couldn’t complete our strategic offensive, capturing the state. With these tactics in mind we entered into the negotiation process with certain parliamentary parties who were all struggling with the monarchy but which were too weak, their class nature was too weak, they couldn’t struggle with the monarchy and complete the bourgeois democratic revolution. When the autocratic monarchy centralised all state power in a coup, it was easier for us to have an alliance with those bourgeois democratic parties and we made the 12-point understanding. On the basis of that 12-point understanding we launched a mass movement which we called the 2nd mass movement. After the 2nd mass movement there was a huge upsurge of the people and the autocratic monarchy was forced to accept the Constituent Assembly and to step down. After that we made the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in which we had to make certain compromises. Those compromises were made to abolish the monarchy, hold the Constituent Assembly elections and then move ahead to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution in the country.

There are some ambiguous features in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Our understanding, the revolutionary party’s understanding, was that after abolishing the monarchy and establishing a bourgeois democratic republic, the proletarian party would take the initiative and launch forward the struggle towards New Democratic Revolution. We knew the bourgeois forces, after the abolition of the monarchy, would try to resist, and our main contradiction then would be with the bourgeois democratic parties. This we had foreseen. So we have not said that after the abolition of the monarchy we’ll stop there. We never said that. What we have said is that we would align with the bourgeois democratic parties to abolish the monarchy, and after the abolition of the monarchy then the contention would be between the bourgeois forces and the proletarian forces. A new field of struggle would start. That was clearly stated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the subsequent interim constitution and other documents we passed.

After the Constituent Assembly elections, when our party emerged as the largest force and we abolished the monarchy, there was a lot of enthusiasm among the masses of the people. Our party’s tactical line had been correctly implemented. That gave a tremendous force to the basic masses of the people and our support greatly increased. For the time being we cooperated with the interim government also, because by participating in that coalition government we thought we could work within the bureaucracy, within the army, within the police and within the judiciary, in order to build our support base through those state structures, which would help us for future revolutionary activities. With that in mind we participated in the coalition government. After the abolition of the monarchy, when the main contradiction would start with the bourgeois democratic forces, then our struggle took a new turn.

After April 2009 [when Prachanda resigned from government], that phase of the Constituent Assembly and implementation of the bourgeois democratic republic was more or less complete. Our understanding is to now carry on the struggle forwards to complete the New Democratic Revolution. So again we made a tactical shift, showing that from now on our major fight would be with the bourgeois democrat parties who are backed by imperialism and the expansionist forces. With this thinking our party left the government and now we are focusing on the mass movement, so that now we could really practice what we have been preaching. That means the fusion of the strategy of PPW and the tactic of general insurrection. What we have been doing since 2005 is the path of preparation for general insurrection through our work in the urban areas and our participation in the coalition government.

But what one should not forget was that we had never ever surrendered the gains of the PPW, what we had gained during the ten years of struggle. We had formulated the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), we had our base areas, we had a lot of mass support, and all this we have been able to preserve. But we have not been able to convey to our comrades outside the country that the gains of the People’s War were never surrendered. The PLA is still with us, and the arms we collected during that war are still with us within the single-key system, monitored by the United Nations team, but basically the key is with us and the army is with us and we have never surrendered. This shows we have not abandoned the path of PPW. What we have done is suspended that part of the activity for some time and focused more on the urban activities so that we could make a correct balance between the military and political aspects of struggle. After some time we will be able to combine both aspects of PPW and general insurrection to mount a final insurrection to capture state power. We would like to stress that we are still continuing in the path of revolution, but the main features we tried to introduce were to make a fusion between the theory of PPW and the tactic of general insurrection. After coming to the peaceful phase I think whatever confusion there was has been mitigated and people realise we are still on the revolutionary path.

Now we are preparing for the final stage of the completion of the New Democratic Revolution. In a few months when the contradiction will sharpen between the proletarian and bourgeois forces, maybe there will be some intervention from the imperialist and expansionist forces. During that time we may again be forced to have another round of armed clashes. Our party is already aware of that and we have decided to again focus on the basic masses of the people both in urban and rural areas. To strengthen those mass bases we have formed the United National People’s Movement, which will be preparing for both struggle in the urban areas and to strengthen our mass base in the countryside. In the decisive stage of confrontation with the reactionary forces we could again combine our bases in the rural areas and our support in the urban areas for a final assault against the enemy to complete the revolution.

I would like to say we have never abandoned PPW, the only thing is that there has been a tactical shift within the strategy. This is one point. The other point is that being a Maoist we believe in continuous revolution. Revolution never stops. Even when one stage is completed, immediately the new stage should be continued. Only that way can we reach socialism and communism. That is a basic tenet of Maoism. Being a Maoist, this reasoning of continuous revolution can never be abandoned. We are still in the course of PPW, though the tactics have shifted according to the nature of the time. But there is a confusion in the international community of proletarian forces, and we would like to clarify this, but I think this thing can be better done in practice than in words. Anyhow we are confident we can convince our comrades who have some doubts about our activities that we are still pursuing the path of revolution. We will complete the revolution in a new way and we have to show that revolution is possible even in the 21st century. And Nepal can be a model of revolution in the 21st century.

WPRM: Can you explain how the UCPN(M) understands the nature of the state in this transitional period? Can the New Democratic Revolution be completed through the holding of an election?

Baburam Bhattarai: The key question in any revolution is the question of the state. The state is simply an instrument of dictatorship of a certain class. Right now in Nepal the existing state is a dictatorship of the feudal, comprador and bureaucratic capitalist classes. So the task of the revolution is to smash this state and replace it with a New Democratic one. This is the basic objective of the revolution. But in the special case of Nepal, the semi-feudal, semi-colonial state was presided over by an autocratic monarchy and it was being backed by foreign imperialist and expansionist forces. Our party, the UCPN(M), therefore thought it more prudent first to do away with the autocratic monarchy and establish a bourgeois democratic republic and then immediately go towards New Democratic Revolution. Those were the tactics adopted by us. We took the initiative to abolish the monarchy under the leadership of the proletariat which was a tremendous boost for the proletarian forces within our country. It also marginalised the bourgeois democratic forces because they had not taken the lead in that phase of the revolution. After the implementation of these tactics and the abolition of the monarchy, we have established a bourgeois democratic republic in this country, which basically still is a dictatorship of the feudal landlord, comprador and bureaucratic capitalist classes. But politically, since the proletarian forces took the initiative to establish this transitional state, there is contention between the reactionary classes and the progressive classes. A sort of flux has been created, it has not been stabilised. Within this nature of the state, which is in flux, we think it will be easier for the revolutionary forces to intervene and further destabilise the state, putting pressure on it from outside the state which can be smashed to make a New Democratic state.

The nature of the transitional state is, to put it very concisely, in principle a dictatorship of the reactionary forces. But in practice, since the proletarian forces played a leading and decisive role in dismantling the autocratic monarchy and creating this transitional state, the political authority of the progressive, patriotic and proletarian forces is high. So this interim state won’t be very stable and if we can correctly mobilise the masses of people it can easily be overthrown and replaced by a New Democratic state. We think this is a new experiment being carried out in Nepal, it has not happened like in China where they directly implemented the revolutionary policies of the party and overthrew the old state replacing it with a new one. But in our case it has meant cutting up the state part by part, in fact we are devouring it part by part. Ultimately we will be able to smash it and then replace it with a new state. This does not mean we are trying to reform the whole state, indeed the whole state has to be totally displaced by a new state. There is no confusion on our part on this question. But the method of destroying the whole state is partly new in our case because it was presided over by an autocratic monarchy not by bourgeois democratic parties as seen in other third world countries. Because of this specificity of Nepal, this transitional state has been a new thing not seen elsewhere. But our party is very clear on the question that the state needs to be totally destroyed and replaced by the new state. We are working on that line and our party feels that after the formulation of the strategy of People’s War and general insurrection we will be able to finally mobilise the masses of the people in a mass upsurge and insurrection to abolish this state and replace it with a New Democratic one.

WPRM: After the resignation of Chairman Prachanda from the government and the coup by President Yadav over the affair of General Katuwal, the main revisionist party, the CPN-UML, is now leading the government and you are heading the recently formed United National People’s Movement (UNPM). Can you tell us the plan of the party in leading People’s Movement-3 and carrying out insurrection in this situation?

Baburam Bhattarai: As I told you, the basic orientation of our party is to complete the New Democratic Revolution in a new way in Nepal. By firmly sticking to that line we are practicing different tactical shifts. Accordingly, after we completed this task of elections of the Constituent Assembly and the establishment of democratic republic, now our next task is to organise a people’s movement and develop it into an insurrectionary upsurge and complete the New Democratic Revolution. Now we have entered that phase. During this phase we will focus more on organising and mobilising the masses and leading them towards a revolutionary upsurge. That means certain changes in the policy as had been practiced during the People’s War. During that time our focus was on the peasant masses, which was slightly different than the struggle in the urban areas which consists of basically the working class.

To lead this phase of the movement we have set up the new UNPM, which is basically a revolutionary united front of the patriotic, democratic and left forces led by the Communist Party. We have put forward a list of 25 demands related to nationalism, democracy and people’s livelihood. With these demands we have mobilised the masses of people. At a certain stage the contradiction with the bourgeois democratic forces and the imperialist expansionist forces will reach a higher stage. At that time there will be a decisive clash between the reactionary and revolutionary forces. That will be the insurrectionary upsurge. This is the view of the people. So with this in mind we have been organising plans and struggles, mass struggles which we will be carrying out in subsequent months. As Marx and Lenin correctly pointed out, you must believe firmly in the tactics of insurrection. If you have to organise insurrection you have to make a decisive action and take it to the final conclusion. If you can’t do that you will be defeated. To prepare for that decisive struggle you have to move through different stages, that’s why after leaving the government we are now focusing more on the issue of civilian supremacy so we can isolate the militarist section of the reactionaries. Secondly we are focusing on the question of nationalism so we can organise the broad masses of patriotic forces against imperialist and expansionist intervention. Thirdly we are raising the issue of land reform and the basic question of livelihood among the general masses of the people, so that the poor masses of the people and the petty bourgeoisie classes can be organised.

With this in mind we are carrying on a plan in the coming few months, there will be a broad unity of patriotic, democratic and revolutionary forces, which can mount a final struggle against the reactionary forces, the bourgeois democratic forces backed by the foreign imperialist forces. We think this will lead to a proper movement and a final insurrectionary upsurge of the masses of the people. If we are able to play the contradiction between the reactionary forces within the country and the imperialist and expansionist forces outside, then at an opportune moment we can organise an insurrectionary upsurge and be victorious. Therefore we have established the UNPM and put forward protest programs. In the next few months when the contradiction will sharpen among the reactionary forces while making the new constitution, during that time this new movement will arise when the people will finally come to revolt and complete the New Democratic Revolution. This is all I want to say on this for now.

WPRM: In the past you have written of the need to confiscate the land of feudals and the capital of comprador and bureaucrat capitalists, and the party has carried this out to some extent. Is this still the plan of the UCPN(M)?

Baburam Bhattarai: To complete the New Democratic Revolution you have to smash the feudal production relations and culture, that means we have to confiscate the property of the feudal landlords and distribute it to the peasants on the principle of ‘land to the tiller’. This was the basic policy of our party during the People’s War, which we practiced in the rural areas. Nepal is geographically divided between the hilly regions and the plains areas and most of the land is in the plains. But in the plains it was difficult to carry out guerilla warfare, so we just entered there and implemented some land reform policies. Since the plains border India and there is a danger of foreign intervention there, we have never been able to completely practice land reform in those areas. This will only be implemented after the final victory of the revolution. During the People’s War this policy, the principle of ‘land to the tiller’, was practiced more clearly in the hilly areas and partly in the plains areas bordering India. But we subscribe to the policy of abolishing feudal landowners because without making the real tillers of the land, the peasants, the owners of the land, we can’t bring about the land revolution and can’t complete the New Democratic Revolution. So our basic policy remains abolishing the feudal property relations and introducing a socialist-oriented national bourgeois democratic revolution. That is our policy on the question of land.

On the question of capital, for countries like ours, a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, capital is basically dominated by imperialist capital. In our case Indian expansionist capital in particular. The nature of capital in Nepal at the moment is comprador and bureaucratic. This means it is dependent, you cannot have national independence in the country. That’s why we want to do away with this bureaucratic and comprador capital and convert it into national industrial capital which can subsequently be organised in a socialistic manner. With this policy in mind, we intend after the completion of the revolution to confiscate all this bureaucratic and comprador capital and convert it into national capital which can be reorganised into a socialist mode of production. This is our policy to do away with all the remnants of feudal landlordism, abolition of bureaucratic and comprador capital, and reorganisation of the economy, firstly under a New Democratic line and then in transition towards socialism.

WPRM: The UCPN(M) has brought forward ideas around elections in a New Democratic and socialist state. In your article on ‘The Question of Building a New Type of State’ in The Worker #9, you particularly discuss the need for greater democracy among the people. How will the holding of elections solve the problems generated by the weaknesses of the experience of socialism in the 20th century?

Baburam Bhattarai: This question of democracy and dictatorship is also very important for the communist movement. In principle every state is a dictatorship of a certain class, so-called democracy is also a form of bourgeois dictatorship. This is a basic tenet of MLM and nobody can deny that. But what was practiced in the 20th century in different people’s democracies and socialist countries was, though in theory correct, in practice the real democratic institutions and processes were minimised. Democracy is a class concept, and bourgeois democracy has its own rules, but proletarian democracy also needs to be developed. What happened in the Soviet Union was that the Soviet, a democratic institution, and the working class became very functional, especially during Comrade Stalin’s time. In reality the Soviets couldn’t be very functional and they gradually turned into a bureaucratic state apparatus. After the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, Comrade Mao Zedong drew certain lessons and he wanted to expand the scope of  proletarian democracy. That’s what he practiced during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. There were certain new institutions of people’s committees and Red Guards to expand people’s democracy. But this experience was very short and after Comrade Mao died, the counter-revolution in China took place.

Now it is up to the revolutionaries of the 21st century to learn from those lessons of the 20th century and develop a new concept of proletarian democracy. Our party discussed this thoroughly and made a review of the positive and negative aspects of revolution in the 20th century. We came to the conclusion that though the basic concept of MLM on state and democracy remains valid, because the Soviet apparatus was no longer functional, when the Soviet state turned into a bureaucratic state, and with the lesson of Mao’s experiment of Cultural Revolution against that negative experience of the Soviet Union, we have to develop the concept of proletarian democracy further. Our conclusion was that basically we need more room for the masses of the people to supervise and intervene in the state. 
If that will not happen then after the revolution the initiative of the masses will be diminished, and only the few of the bureaucratic elite will rule over the state in the name of the proletariat and the revolution would not be carried further.

To check this we have to create certain mechanisms whereby the constant mobilising of the masses and the constant vigilance and intervention of the masses is ensured so the state doesn’t turn into a bureaucratic state. To create such an institution one of the ideas is to provide democracy as was practiced during the Paris Commune days, or to again go towards the Soviet model of democracy, or draw lessons from the Cultural Revolution. We want to take lessons from all these three experiences, so our party’s conclusion was that within a socialist framework, within the framework of the dictatorship of the proletariat, competition should be organised among the masses of the people, so the masses will be constantly energised and it will prevent only a few people having a monopoly over the state.

This concept of competition within the framework of socialism, of proletarian dictatorship, we have developed this basic concept. But this is only a general concept, the actual mode of that competition we have still to work out. Our general feeling is still under discussion, we haven’t reached any final conclusion. But we have proposed multi-party competition within the socialist framework. Why do we need many parties? Though the proletarian class is one class, the proletarian consciousness is different, there is uneven consciousness. If there is competition among them then the most revolutionary section will be in a position to lead this process through democratic means. All the masses of the working class can be mobilised, and in such mode of constantly mobilising the masses of people we will limit the chance of degeneration of this democracy into a bureaucratic set-up. That’s why we are thinking one of the options is to allow multi-party competition among the proletarian and progressive classes within the framework of the leadership of the proletariat and a socialist constitutional framework.

This is one of the options that we have proposed but it just a proposal, we haven’t reached any conclusion. This is what I discussed in that article, it is a preliminary article, we have proposed this but I think it needs to be discussed in the international proletarian movement and developed further. Otherwise we will not be able to draw lessons from the failures of the teachings of socialism and proletarian revolution in the 20th century and lead revolution forward into the 21st century. The basic point of departure is still from the Cultural Revolution, where Mao went beyond the traditional framework of the state system and gave more power to the masses of the people to rebel against the bureaucratic system within the party and within the state. That is the general orientation. But the right institutions have not been developed yet. The job of the revolutionaries in the 21st century will be to develop that concept further and to develop certain institutions and procedures whereby the proletarian class gets mobilised to carry forward the revolution. With this is mind, we are putting forward this concept of competition within the New Democratic and socialist state framework.

WPRM: Elections in imperialist countries generally serve not as a way to mobilise the masses but as a formal ritual that people carry out in a very bureaucratic way. Only very seldom does the election actually mobilise people and that is in very specific circumstances, like to some extent the election of Obama in the USA, because people were so opposed to the crimes of the Bush regime. How can you make elections at all for mobilising people and helping people develop their understanding of the class nature of society and the need to push towards socialism when our general experience of elections in imperialist and oppressed countries is that they are a tool for deceiving the masses?

Baburam Bhattarai: The practice of democracy in imperialist counties is a form of bourgeois democracy, a ritual that deceives the masses of people and perpetuates the rule of their class state. But what we are talking about is not organising elections within the bourgeois state, we are talking about after the revolution in a New Democratic or socialistic framework, where there will be certain constitutional provisions whereby the reactionaries, imperialists and criminal forces will not be allowed to participate. Only the progressive forces, the democratic forces and people will be allowed to compete. That is the competition within the New Democratic or socialist framework we are talking about. This is a basic difference. After the revolution, the first thing we will do will be redistribution of property. There will no longer be rich and poor, a big gap between the haves and the have-nots. That way when we organise competition there will be an equal chance for people to compete. But in the given framework of the imperialist and bourgeois democratic system there is a huge gap between the propertied and property-less working class. The competition is so uneven that the property-less working class can never compete with the propertied, the bourgeois and imperialist class. That way, only after carrying out this redistribution of property in a socialistic and New Democratic manner can you organise political competition where there will be a fair chance of everyone to compete on an equal footing. Our idea of competition in a New Democratic and socialist framework is therefore fundamentally different from the formal competition and practice in a bourgeois democratic and imperialist state. The difference in the class nature of the state should be appreciated.

WPRM: You’ve already discussed some aspects of the Cultural Revolution but I would like to go into that in more detail. The Cultural Revolution was the pinnacle of revolution in the 20th century, so what lessons do you and the UCPN(M) take from this?

Baburam Bhattarai: Yes we think the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was the pinnacle of revolution not only in the 20th century but in the whole history of the liberation of mankind. It is the pinnacle of the development of revolutionary ideas. So all the revolutionaries must make the Cultural Revolution their point of departure and develop the revolutionary idea and plan further.

The basic question of the Cultural Revolution was to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. That was the basic idea. So first you need a dictatorship of the proletarian class, and for that you have to smash the whole state and complete the revolution, that is the first thing we have to do. After the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the working class needs to be constantly mobilised in a continuous revolution. Only then can we prevent the state degenerating into a bureaucratic apparatus. That is the basic idea. That’s why after the negative experiences of the Soviet Union and the initial negative experiences in China, Mao developed this concept of Cultural Revolution, giving the masses the right to rebel. He asked all the oppressed classes and people to rebel against the authority in power and he introduced Red Guards, people’s committees, all-round dictatorship of the proletariat in every field, in politics, economics and society, in cultural space, exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie to continue the revolution. This is the fundamental aspect of the Cultural Revolution and this needs to be upheld and developed further.
But in our case since our class has not completed any revolution in the 21st century and there is no revolutionary socialist state in the world, we have to draw lessons from the Cultural Revolution and try to practice them within the revolutionary parties and within the mass organisations, and then after we complete the revolution then we can practice the basic tenets of the Cultural Revolution in the state. This is the basic lesson to be drawn. And what we would like to stress is that without taking the Cultural Revolution as the point of departure we cannot complete the revolution in any country in the present day world and we will not be able to reach socialism and communism if we don’t have this idea of continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This idea of continuous revolution needs to be grasped very firmly. People generally think that once state power has been captured, the revolution is complete. But thinking like this means the initiative of the revolutionary masses will be diminished. That has been a flaw of earlier revolutions. What we need to practice now is the idea that the revolution never stops until all the classes are abolished, the state is abolished, the property system is abolished and we enter a classless and stateless society, or a commune of the masses of people is created. Until that stage is reached revolution never stops. This idea of Cultural Revolution needs to be firmly grasped and we are very serious on this issue.

WPRM: How do you practice Cultural Revolution within the party now?

Baburam Bhattarai: Within the party we allow broad and great democracy. The principle of the Communist Party is democratic centralism. We need centralism to guide the revolution, we need strong leadership, but if that leadership and centralism is not created on the broad foundation of democracy, that is not acceptable. Otherwise that leadership could degenerate into bureaucratic centralism. Right now within our party there are broad divisions on any issue, but the central leadership will mobilise the cadres and masses of people to discuss these issues and only then will the decision be taken. Once the decision is taken it will have to be carried out. But before taking the decision any issue must be broadly discussed so that the great exercise of democracy should be done first and on the basis of that the centralism will be created. Only that kind of centralism will be truly democratic centralism. This is what our party is trying to practice.

WPRM: What about the practice of two-line struggle within the party?

Baburam Bhattarai: Two-line struggle is also related to this question. Two-line struggle is the life of any party because everything is a unity of opposites in this world. Even the party is a unity of opposites. The policy of ‘one divides into two’ also applies to the party. So although there is a contention between proletarian and non-proletarian tendencies within any communist party, so there has to be a proper mechanism to organise a struggle of different tendencies within the party. Therefore two-line struggle needs to be promoted. The only thing is we have to be very careful in handling the two-line struggle. On this issue there are different tendencies within the International Communist Movement. One is very sectarian, once you enter into two-line struggle you always end up with a split. This is a sectarian or ultra-left tendency. The other is a right-revisionist tendency, which is to struggle and always compromise so that the party gets turned into a reformist group.

The correct MLM formulation is unity-struggle-transformation. We should struggle with the aim of achieving a higher level of unity. That’s the aim of the correct handling of two-line struggle in a revolutionary party. And our party has been very successfully conducting this method of two-line struggle with the aim of unity-struggle-transformation. We are interested in mainly transformation. If the aim is not transformation then it is not reaching a higher level of unity and then the two-line struggle always leads to a split. And a split of the proletarian party weakens our class and our ability to carry forward revolution. This lesson needs to be firmly grasped, especially among Maoist revolutionaries in the world today. In the name of carrying out two-line struggle they forget the aspect of reaching a higher level of unity and transformation. In that way the revolutionary parties remain as very small groups and collections and are not able to carry out revolution. I think these lessons, especially from Lenin and Mao, need to be drawn and practiced.

WPRM: As a way of concluding this interview, in the situation of continued pressure and the  possibility of intervention from US imperialism and Indian expansionism in particular, do you think that socialism in one country can be developed in Nepal?

Baburam Bhattarai: This question of socialism in one country is a theoretical question to be debated. This is the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. Imperialism always consists of uneven and unequal development, so revolution within a country is not only a possibility, it is a must, because revolution won’t break out all over the world at the same time. That’s impossible  as long as imperialism remains and uneven development is there. This is a basic tenet of Leninism which still holds true and we should grasp it. But in the specific case of a small country like Nepal, sandwiched between the big countries of India and China and being dictated over by US imperialism all over the world, if you don’t have support, international support, or there is no strong revolutionary movement, it will be very difficult to sustain the revolution. It may be possible to carry out the revolution to capture state power, but to sustain the state power and develop in the direction of socialism and communism we will need support from the international proletarian movement. That way the level of international support and international proletarian solidarity is important. After the growing influence of so-called globalisation, imperialist globalisation, the reaches of the imperialist power have gone to every corner of the world. If there is no strong international proletarian organisation to fight against imperialist intervention and domination, it will be difficult to sustain the revolution in one small country.

Keeping this in mind, we must however make revolution in our country, this is a must. But to sustain it and develop it further we need the backing of the international proletarian forces. For that we have to give more importance to internet work and the international community. This need is more important in the case of small countries like Nepal. In fact, in recent months we have been discussing this issue. To complete the revolution in Nepal and sustain it and develop it further, at least in the South Asian context, we need to have strong revolutionary solidarity and we need the backing from the international proletarian movement. We feel the events of the international proletarian movement worldwide and some of the institutions that are being developed are all important, like the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties in South Asia (CCOMPOSA) and the World People’s Resistance Movement (WPRM). These type of organisations are very important for the success of the revolution and to gather support at the international level for the success of our revolution.

WPRM: Thank you for your time.

Baburam Bhattarai: Thank you and lal salam!

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