The idea of increasing production is all very well; but reducing consumption is where the innovative talents of Dahal, Bhattarai and Company Ltd will be tested in the coming days
The creator of fierce Prachanda Path finally cremated his own ideology in Hetauda. The ideological line of “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism adapted to the realities of Nepal” had been terminally ill from the day Pushpa Kamal Dahal signed Comprehensive Peace Agreement with Girija Prasad Koirala (1925-2010) in November 2006. The Shining Path of Peru, after which Prachanda Path had been modeled, has no place for peaceful politics or the bourgeois notion of free, fair and impartial elections. In communist ideologies, a self-selected revolutionary vanguard establishes and runs the dictatorship of the proletariat. Politics of the ballot box, however, disabuses the theory that power flows from the barrel of a gun.
The paradigm shift in the doctrine of the leading partner of the ruling coalition has occurred not a day too soon. Incurably sick ideology of Prachanda Path died the day Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal was legitimized through the mandate of the Constituent Assembly. Ever since he became the prime minister and then resigned under compelling circumstances, Dahal had been carrying around the corpse of his political framework to the horror of onlookers.
Cremating one’s own creation could be unimaginably horrifying, but a dead monster on the shoulders of a grieving leader had become a shocking spectacle. Dahal deserves condolences and congratulations at the same time. The decomposing corpse of Prachanda Path was the biggest impediment for the institutionalization of historic changes brought about by Rhododendron Revolution and Madhesh Uprising. However, the void that the passing away of the revolutionary doctrine has left in the hearts of Dahal’s legions of cadres needs to be filled to protect them from being poached by wily manipulators waiting in the wings to pounce upon the disciplined corps of emotionally exhausted youngsters.
Photo: Chandra Shekhar Karki
Ideologies do not fall from skies: Astute entrepreneurs of ideas formulate them to offer solace to the masses in times of crisis. Feuding warlords and their rotten boroughs necessitated liberalism. Emergence of robber barons inspired the invention of capitalism, socialism and romanticism. Without the dreadfulness of working conditions during the industrial revolution, it is doubtful if Marxism would have materialized. Biogas from putrefying priesthood and festering feudalism combined became the propelling force of Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism. It is necessary to revisit conditions that created grounds for the emergence of Prachanda Path in order to design an alternative to replace the dead and disposed doctrine.
The Communist Party of Nepal (UML)—abbreviations in the bracket sometimes interpreted as United Marketers Limited—was the first ‘revolutionary’ party to show its true colors. When the time came to stand up and be counted for pluralism, CPN (ML)—the earlier avatar of UML—actively boycotted and thus sabotaged the triumph of multiparty democracy in the Referendum held in 1980 to determine the fate of authoritarian Panchayat system. That was an early indication of its political inclinations in the years to come.
The UML participated in the framing of Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal, 1990 but offered only critical support to the statute. It began to undermine the constitution from the moment of its promulgation. In parliamentary system, the prime minister is the chief executive as well as the leader of the legislature. The UML began to agitate from the day Koirala took oath of office in May, 1991. After the midterm elections, Man Mohan Adhikari (1920-1999) took over as the head of a minority government. His sterling reputation and communist credentials were unashamedly used to rehabilitate remnants of the ancien regime inherently inimical to democracy.
The party under the control of NGO-conglomerates, business cartels and underground dons created and nurtured a class of militant lumpenbourgeoisie that would pounce upon whoever dared to dissent and question the Mahendra-era monoculture. Such a rightward shift of a supposedly leftwing party first angered and then alienated youths that had been recruited by apparatchiks of the old style Marxists of Pushpalal school.
If symptoms of reactionary politics manifested itself through cultural conservatism in the UML, the NC took to the free-market fundamentalism with the zeal of neo-converts. The state began to wither away. People wanted security, service and succor as privatization of education, health and transportation further impoverished the poor. Inequalities increased, jobs became scarce, corruption ballooned, and conspicuous consumption took even the countryside by storm. People everywhere were desperate for change. The government gave them passports instead. By the time of Sher Bahadur Deuba’s premiership, the grand old party was devoid of all convictions. Its leaders have no passion, no ideals and no agenda left to inspire the masses, energize supporters or mobilize sympathizers.
The UCPN (Maoist) too has decided to follow the same path towards prosperity that had pauperized an already poor peasantry of the country. Nepal is not small—its population is slightly more than all the Nordic countries combined—but per capita natural resource availability in the severe landscape of Himalayas, Mahabharat and Chure Ranges is extremely limited. Approximately 15 percent of land in Tarai-Madhesh has to accommodate over 50 percent of the national population. Being land-linked is a beautiful illusion; but exceptions apart, no country of the modern world has prospered through free trade without easy access to navigable sea-lanes.
Dahal proposes to travel the capitalist road to utopia in a country where Maghi cannot be celebrated without importing yam. Dashain would not be the same without foreign sheep and goats. Tihar would be colorless without foreign flowers. Other than noodles, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, the country has to import almost everything for its daily needs and then pay for them by exporting the bravest, strongest, brainiest, brightest and most promising young men and women in the prime of their life. Most houses would have no salt without the kindness of a certain neighbor that must remain unnamed to protect nationalistic pride of the ruling elite.
Howsoever the Maoist leadership may wish, the country has little place for yet another consumerist party. They would have to either improvise a new ideology or perish in the promise of becoming a pale shadow of ‘civilian’ parties such as NC, UML and RPP.
Fortunately, there is an alternative at hand. It is called the political economy of sustainable livelihood.
For leftists schooled in Mahendra-era nationalism and Maoist rhetoric, Gandhi was just another Dhoti with anachronistic imaginations. The Apostle of Ahimsa, however, is becoming increasingly important for his ideas of Gram Swaraj. The significance of Swadeshi self-reliance rises as power stations unremittingly emit noxious fumes. Smog continues to hug the ground in the Indo-Gangetic plains for half-a-year. Beijing Haze blows towards Tokyo to force an already unsettled population—living in constant fear after Fukushima—to wear masks all year round. The alternative energy sources—solar panels and windmills—have their own limitations and risks. Gandhi was correct in his assessment that the world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.
Himalayas are young and rising. Mahabharat Ranges are too unsettled and fragile to support hydropower dreams. The rape of Chure Ranges has enriched a rapacious clique, but the tender land cannot tolerate so much abuse any longer. The idea of increasing production is all very well; but reducing consumption is where innovative talents of Dahal, Bhattarai and Company Ltd will be tested in the coming days.
Once the funeral feast for the priests is over, the Maoists will have to do a quick rethink. Militancy requires a color to make hearts race. Green is perhaps the future red of radicalism.