Every conflict involves two opposing forces and is propelled by contradiction caused either by the opposing ideas, beliefs or by the “historical process”. Dialectics is simply a method of asking questions as to why there is contradiction. It then answers these questions through the application of logic and discourse, and through the empirical and scientific enquiry. This paper examines the current national political issues that are the crux of the conflict between the UCPN (Maoists), the party that has led the current government, on the one hand and the oppositional parties mainly the Nepali Congress, the UML, on the other, from the Hegelian-Marxist dialectical standpoints.
The two opposing forces are at a new level of conflict after the forced death of the constituent assembly (CA). On the surface the conflict between the UCPN (Maoist) and the oppositional forces is about the dissolution of the CA. This very conflict has given birth to a host of other contentious issues. The oppositional parties demand that the government which has no constitutional and moral grounds to stick to power must step down unconditionally for forming a national unity government. The Maoist-led government in an unnatural coalition with the Madheshi Morcha has rejected it outright by saying that its withdrawal from power is contingent on the resolution of the issues concerning federalism, and election for a new CA—all in a package. From the dialectical standpoint, two questions demand answers. They are (a) how naturally contradictory is the relation between the two opposing forces; and, (b) will a possible synthesis of the existing contradictions between them lead to a higher stage of the negation?
In order to understand the dialectics of the current conflict, one must examine the nature of the current relationship between the two forces in terms of the Hegelian-Marxist dialectics. The basic hypothesis is that the Maoists identity i.e., its very existence, its interconnection (its politics of struggle, opposition and transformation) can only be understood in relation to the ideology and politics of its opposite, the Nepali Congress and other parliamentary forces. The theory of the dialectics or the law of the opposite can be seen in the process of the transformation of conflict into consensus and consensus into more intense conflict.
Ideologically, since the time the Maoists launched their “people’s war” in 1996 the “feudal monarchy” was their principal ideological enemy, and the main parliamentary party, the Nepali Congress its class enemy and, therefore, both should be annihilated. During the decade-long insurgency both the parliamentary parties and the monarchy countered the Maoists’ war with appropriate constitutional means. From November 2005 when the 12 point understanding was signed with the parliamentary forces till the convening of the first meeting of the CA on May 28, 2008 the two main opposing forces were dictated by both external and internal factors to come to consensus. Paradoxically, the tide of events forced them to move to some sort of a “synthesis”. The two forces reached a consensus for the abolition of the monarchy through some kind of an orchestrated strategy in which they coalesced for their separate goals.
In the years after Nepal became republic, the contradictions between these two forces reappeared. As Lenin pointed out, the balance between contending forces is “temporary and can be disrupted”, the UCPN (Maoist) recharged its ideological war with the NC and to a lesser extent with the UML. In its view the latter parties have been defending the antiquated bourgeois parliamentary system, which is the main obstacle to people’s democracy and progressive change, and, therefore, the two must be defeated.
As recent as November 2008, the UCPN (Maoist) identified the Nepali Congress as its principal class enemy. Its logic was that since it claimed to be the real messiah for change. it would overcome the defenders of the anti-federalist and pro-bourgeoisie parliamentary forces to establish people’s republic. During the four years of the CA, the ideological war between the NC and UCPN (Maoist) was over writing a pluralistic democratic or a people’s democratic constitution. Now, the UCPN (Maoist) is pursuing a strategy of speeding up the motion of contradiction by denouncing publicly opposing forces as anti-ethnic federalist and the main culprit for the CA’s dissolution . It has under its leadership formed a loose front of some 21 odd parties and individuals to gang up against the opposing forces to coax them for building “national consensus” on its conditions.
There are both phenomenological as well as real political issues that obstruct the building of a sustainable national consensus in guiding the country towards a more stable, democratic and peaceful order. The UCPN (Maoist) had been claiming all along that it was the progenitor of the constituent assembly. The opposing forces counter it by alleging that it was the UCPN (Maoist) which killed it unconstitutionally with the hidden objective of seizing power to finally establish people’s democracy. Hence, the two forces are locking horns over a host of issues. Three major factors prevent the two hostile forces for arriving at national consensus.
The first and most important is that neither the current issues of contention nor the composition of the contradictory forces are in historical progression as they are not transcended from the Maoists’ so-called “people’s war”. According to the Marxist dialectical process one cannot reach the essence of conflict if there are problems in the principal contradiction itself. The Maoists aborted its ideological war in principle by 2002 and therefore, the conflict did not move along a natural path of dialectical trajectory. From a dialectical standpoint, the very logic and essence of the Maoist war was proven wrong by itself. Experimenting Mao’s ideology in Nepal was not a fully homegrown idea. If one draws some conclusion based on the information recently made public by some “Nepal experts” the Maoist’s so-called revolution could not go beyond certain level. It was forced to acquiesce to the dictates of the external forces.
There are both phenomenological as well as real political issues that obstruct the building of sustainable national consensus.
Another factor why durable consensus, which is the foundation for a higher and more developed stage of contradiction, is not possible is the ideological confusion of the UCPN (Maoist). It is ideologically in a disoriented state after the 12 point Agreement signed in November 2005 in general and the June 2006 Agreement on Declaration of Ceasefire and the Code of Conduct in particular. The party has departed ideologically from Mao’s theory of establishing communist dictatorship and had expressed commitments to accept competitive democracy, human rights and peaceful socio-economic transformation.
But it has not publicly renounced violence and is even now threatening to establish a people’s republic, if necessary, through violent means. The current ideology of UCPN (Maoist) is in fact a corrupted version of Maoism. No wonder it is reneging on almost every agreement it signs with opposing forces. Such a diluted approach cannot create enough quantitative effects on the contradictions for an inflection towards building national consensus. The other Maoist party, the hyphenated one, also cannot salvage Maoism and thus build up pressure for consensus. The third factor in the current conflict is the influence of external forces. From the 12 point understanding to the unfinished peace process, the role of external players has been crucial. Like it or not, in the current national political situation their influence cannot either be prevented or even understated in the whole dialectical process. But their role can only hijack contradiction from its natural path to a situation where conflict keeps moving in a cyclical way.
The country is on the precipice of a major political crisis due to either our own destiny, or by default or design. Luckily what is holding us politically is our cultural heritage of meeting, talking, and taking life easy. For this cultural legacy to work, the current dialectical process must build enough pressure for an effective national consensus. It means the UCPN (Maoist) must come decisively out of its ideologically disoriented box. It must either embrace pluralistic democracy as committed in both words and deeds or turn back the clock to the jungle days. This can put conflict on its natural dialectical path that can produce enough pressure for the two opposing groups and that will logically lead them to build consensus for moving ahead by overcoming the current impasse.