A WORLD TO WIN    #30   (2004)


Building Red Power in Nepal

Throughout the year 2003, Nepal has continued to be a vital battleground in which millions of Nepalese peasants, workers, revolutionary intellectuals and other progressive forces have, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)), been locked in a fierce and complex struggle with the forces of the old Nepal---the landlords and bureaucrat capitalists and the discredited political forces linked to them, led by a feudal monarch backed by world imperialism and reaction. Nepal is one of the few countries where a genuine Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party has clearly established its leadership over the revolutionary process, and where the revolutionary vision of the future illuminates the path ahead. This stands out in stunning relief in a world where, unfortunately, the struggles of the people are all too often encumbered by the cobwebs of different forms of dead-end ideology promoted by opportunist, bourgeois or even reactionary forces. For these reasons, the eyes and attention of the class-conscious proletariat and genuine revolutionary and democratic forces have been increasingly focused on the drama being played out in Nepal.

For much of 2003, there was a cease-fire in the People's War launched in 1996, during which the revolutionary and reactionary camps each sought to reinforce its position and prepare for the more intense struggles that both knew lay ahead. When, after repeated provocations by the Nepalese reactionaries, the cease-fire was formally terminated at the end of August 2003, a fierce new wave of fighting swept from one end of the country to the other. The reactionary forces, emboldened by infusions of weapons, funds and advisers from the US and some other reactionary powers, have committed atrocity after atrocity, usually against common villagers and, in a grisly reminder of US imperialist tactics in Vietnam, often label the corpses falsely as "Maoists" to disguise their crimes and boost sagging morale.

The intense fighting of the later months of 2003 has not only been a continuation of the whole process of People's War begun in 1996 but also, in a more immediate sense, the violent continuation of the political battle that took place under conditions of temporary cease-fire in the first half of 2003. Through this process the CPN(M) is emerging more clearly than ever as the acknowledged leaders of the great majority of the Nepalese people and the only political force that has the capability and is prepared to provide an alternative to the decrepit monarchy and the rule of the reactionary classes.

Background to the Cease-fire

As we analysed at length in A World To Win 2002/28, the revolution in Nepal has been developing at a dizzying pace, especially since the royal palace massacre in June 2001, when the reigning King Birendra and most of his family were killed. Although the massacre stripped the monarchy of any remaining legitimacy in the eyes of the masses, the ruling classes and the foreign imperialists recognised Birendra's brother Gyanendra as the new king and hoped that he would be able to finally crush the People's War. Gyanendra immediately called out the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) to directly confront the People's Liberation Army (PLA) led by the CPN(M). Up to that point the RNA had stayed mainly in the background, aiding and advising the militarised police who had been the spearhead of the enemy's counter-revolution. But the ruling classes' hopes and dreams of quickly defeating the CPN(M) on the battlefield were soon crushed, as the PLA showed itself more than capable of standing up to the RNA and inflicting stinging defeats on them. On one occasion, they even surrounded a contingent of RNA soldiers who had arrogantly ventured into the Western region revolutionary strongholds and forced them to put down their rifles and pledge never to fight the people again. Amidst the turmoil and revolutionary advance that followed the palace massacre, the enemy was divided and demoralised. The new king and the RNA felt it necessary to call a cease-fire with the revolutionary forces. The CPN(M) leadership, analysing that the people's forces would benefit from a temporary pause in the hostilities, and taking into account the wishes of different sections of the people, accepted a cease-fire.

Some initial exploratory talks took place during this first cease-fire, which lasted three months in the late summer and early autumn of 2001. Mainly, however, both sides used the interlude to prepare for the next round of military clashes. For the enemy, it was a time to try to re-solidify a badly shaken RNA and reunite the ruling class and its political parties around a widely hated king, who was generally considered responsible for the massacre of his own brother and other family members. It was also a moment for the old state to reinforce its ties with US and British imperialism, as well as with neighbouring India, which has always considered Nepal its protectorate. The attacks on 11 September 2001 and the US imperialists' subsequent announcement of a "global war on terrorism" made the king and the ruling circles more confident in their backing from the US, and made the US all the more insistent that the "Maoist problem" be resolved by force.

On the part of the CPN(M), the three-month cease-fire was used to solidify and formalise the People's Liberation Army, whose founding conference was held in autumn 2001. It was also a moment to strengthen organs of political power at the local level, with the election of revolutionary councils in numerous districts. Huge mass meetings held in the district centres and the capital of Kathmandu further revealed the extent and depth of support for the revolution in Nepal.

After this short cease-fire ended, the Party undertook what it called "a new initiation"---referring back to the initiation of the People's War in 1996, when the entire Party made the ideological, political and organisational transformations necessary to actually begin a people's war. This "new initiation" involved massive attacks by the PLA against enemy strongholds, in some cases involving thousands of soldiers organised into brigades and well armed with equipment that had been captured from the enemy.1 In particular, immediately following the Party's announcement of the withdrawal of the cease-fire, a stunning military victory was achieved in the district capital of Dang, where the most important enemy military base for the entire Western region was captured and huge stocks of weapons and ammunition were seized and carted away in lorries by the victorious PLA. Enemy strongholds were routed on a number of other occasions.

In the political sphere, resounding blows by the PLA hammered away at the efforts of the ruling class and its political party to forge a new reactionary consensus around King Gyanendra. On 4 October 2002, the Prime Minister and government were dismissed and parliament dissolved, and the king effectively centralised all governmental power in his own hands. Shortly thereafter the king appointed an unelected and hated flunkey, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, as his prime minister. The central goal of the king, his foreign advisers and indeed the entire Nepalese ruling class was to crush the rebellion of the masses of people by brutal force.

Despite the enemy's all-out attempts at suppression, the revolutionary forces persisted: different district headquarters of the reactionary state were demolished, large numbers of enemy soldiers were put out of action, and further stocks of weapons and ammunition were captured. The country's top police chief was annihilated in the capital, Kathmandu. As the reactionary regime floundered and weakened on every front of the war, it was eventually forced to call for another cease-fire. In addition to the resounding military actions, the Party continued to lead other forms of struggle as well, including a very successful strike of the country's university students and repeated bandhs (or general strikes), whereby all economic activity in the country was halted for one or several days.

The powerful blows of the People's War and the ever-growing allegiance of Nepal's masses to the programme and leadership of the CPN(M) sent the whole reactionary ruling class into a quandary. In every corner of the country, the overwhelming political issue on people's minds had become the outcome of the war: on what basis could peace be restored, what form of society and what form of rule would replace the old state whose bankruptcy was becoming more and more evident?

The reactionaries of Nepal are and remain divided into many competing fiefdoms with different interests. But the most important division to note is between those who see the preservation and strengthening of the monarchy as the key link in maintaining the rule of the reactionary classes and others, especially the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), usually referred to as UML, who are the strongest parties in parliament and who see their own futures connected to the preservation of some sort of parliamentary system. These latter parties describe themselves as the defenders of the 1990 constitution, which was established after a nation-wide anti-monarchy movement knocked down the old non-party Panchayat system that was headed by the king and based on councils of "notables". While these two basic trends in the Nepalese ruling class have been locked in sharp conflict, they also interpenetrate. Even the so-called "Marxist-Leninists" of the UML have sworn allegiance to the monarchy, and even the king finds it useful to combine the defence of an autocratic and medieval system of rule with what the Nepal rulers like to call "multiparty democracy".

In addition to the shrinking support for the ruling class political parties on the one hand, and the bedrock support for the Maoists among the poor peasants and workers on the other, there are also important sections of the people who hesitate between the different political solutions. These strata are particularly significant in the capital of Kathmandu, where an urban petite bourgeoisie has developed. As in other countries, the class position of these strata make them particularly susceptible to falling for illusions about the possibility of peaceful change through elections or to chasing after solutions other than the decisive victory of one of the two fundamentally opposed camps. From the beginning of the People's War, the CPN(M) has fought hard and achieved important successes in winning wide sections of these classes and strata to support the revolutionary camp. On the other hand, the UML and other revisionists have made it their special task to try to play to the bourgeois-democratic prejudices of the urban petite bourgeoisie and hold up the illusion that some "third way", other than the victory of the Maoists or the RNA, is available to the country.

The Party has analysed that a state of "strategic equilibrium" now exists between the old and dying state represented by the king on the one hand and the emerging new state under the leadership of the Maoists on the other. Mao Tsetung analysed that, as a general rule, revolutionary warfare proceeds in three stages: from "strategic defensive", where the revolutionary forces are weaker than the enemy and must accumulate strength over a protracted period of time on the basis of guerrilla engagements with the enemy, to the stage of "strategic equilibrium", in which the two sides are relatively equal and neither is yet able to decisively destroy the other and the fighting is more and more characterised by larger-scale mobile and positional warfare, to the "strategic offensive", when the forces of the revolution are able to launch an overall offensive aimed at decisively destroying the enemy's armed forces and establishing the rule of the people throughout the country. In Nepal, the Party holds that "strategic equilibrium" is reflected by the fact that the entire society recognises that there exist two different states in the country, each with its own army and institutions. Experience has shown that both the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary camps use the period of "strategic equilibrium", which by its nature is transitory and unlikely to last long, to prepare to resolve the question of the revolution by decisively defeating the opposing camp.

Under the conditions of "strategic equilibrium" and the reality of "two states and two armies", a clamour for a negotiated solution to the war arose from many sectors of society, including from some sections generally supportive of the revolution but whose class position made them susceptible to hopes of some sort of peaceful solution.

Comrade Prachanda, the Chairman of the CPN(M), put it this way:

"Generally, as the revolutionary people's war develops to strategic equilibrium, enormous pressure mounts on the state establishment to find a way out through negotiations. In the concrete conditions of enormous military pressure (from the People's Liberation Army) as well as political pressure from the masses, the possibility of & negotiations grows stronger, especially during the stage of strategic equilibrium. This is clearly shown by the history of people's wars around the world. But this does not mean that at the stage of strategic equilibrium cease-fires and negotiations necessarily take place, nor that their occurrence should be viewed as some kind of principle.& A process of a cease-fire and negotiations might be necessary and productive in one particular context of the national and international balance of power, whereas in another situation it might be unnecessary and even counter-productive.& In the present context of Nepal, the process of cease-fire and negotiations can be understood and defined as reflecting several particular factors: a specific international situation marked by a more aggressive and unbridled imperialism, a specific situation of strategic equilibrium in the country, the wishes of the Nepalese masses to find a political solution through peaceful negotiations, and our Party's policy on war and negotiations." (Janadesh Weekly, 24 March 2003.)

From the outset negotiations and cease-fire had two entirely different contents for the two opposing camps of revolution and counter-revolution. Within the reactionary camp, both the parliamentary forces and the state power grouped around the army and the king tried to utilise the cease-fire and negotiations to isolate the Maoist revolutionaries and destroy them by bringing their ranks to the surface. The tactics and strategies of both sets of reactionaries - the parliamentarians and the monarchists - have been the same in essence: both groups wanted to utilise the Maoists against their ruling class rivals as a ladder to climb to the throne, and then turn on and destroy the Maoists. The enemy's cease-fire declaration was also an expression of deep internal contradictions within the reactionary camp itself, which the People's War and the tactics of the CPN(M) have greatly intensified.

Furthermore, the reactionary ruling classes and their foreign advisers hoped that the Maoist revolutionaries could be corrupted through the cease-fire and negotiations process. They recall past experience in Nepal, whereby a section of former Marxist-Leninists who in the late 1960s had even taken up armed struggle under the influence of the Naxalbari upsurge in nearby India, later degenerated into the ossified "royal UML". Other such examples can be found elsewhere in the world. Similarly, they hoped that if the CPN(M) could be enticed into the parliamentary hog-house, it could be transformed into a parliamentary party. They also expected that the Party could be divided, or that its members and leadership, who swim among the masses like fish in the sea, could be brought to the surface so that even if the cease-fire collapsed, the revolutionaries could be picked off like beached fish, ultimately leading to defeat for the revolution. For the enemy, then, the cease-fire was a time of political conspiracies and of illusions of placating the Maoist revolutionaries and eliminating the People's War.

The leadership of the CPN(M) was quite aware of the conspiracies the reactionaries were hatching, and it was determined to navigate the cease-fire and negotiations carefully. Through this process, the CPN(M) was determined to make clear to all sections of the Nepalese people that the Party had a programme for addressing the basic needs of Nepalese society and a reasonable and just solution to the war by transferring all power to the masses of the people themselves. While it would be highly unlikely that the ruling classes and their foreign masters would allow such a solution, the struggle at the negotiating table and in the overall political arena would make it clear to millions more, including the wavering middle strata, that it was the reactionary forces, especially those grouped around the king and the RNA, that were blocking any possibility of fundamental change. As such, it is they who bear full responsibility for the hardships of war that the Nepalese people are suffering.

At the Negotiating Table

The CPN(M) thus faced a situation marked by new lurking dangers, but also great new opportunities to advance the revolutionary cause - if they could rise to the challenge. As CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda noted,

"Revolutionaries have been victorious by steadfastly applying the science of social revolution, upholding the fundamental interests of the masses, and being firm in principle and flexible in tactics. If a revolutionary party has not acquired this political and ideological capacity, it will not only be defeated on the front of dialogue but also on the front of war itself. Examples of defeats of armed struggle on the war front abound throughout world history, as do defeats on the front of dialogue. By avoiding the dangers of the rocks to the one side and the whirlpool to the other, the vessel of revolution can advance steadily to sea. If a captain lacks the capacity to avert unseen rocks and dangerous whirlpools, the vessel may break apart on the rocks or be sucked into the whirlpool. Here the captain means the revolutionary party."

In this situation, the CPN(M) formulated three principal demands for a political solution to the war, as follows: a round-table discussion, an interim government and the election of a constituent assembly. The cease-fire was announced on 27 January 2003 when, according to CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda, Gyanendra had expressed his willingness to enter into serious discussion on all three of these points.

These three demands themselves are not the final goal for the Maoist revolutionaries; the Party considers them tactical means to reach the goal - to abolish the present reactionary system and to establish a revolutionary new-democratic system as the necessary first stage, before advancing to the socialist revolution. It is the new-democratic revolution alone that can, in a real sense, empower the masses of the people and make them sovereign.

As Mao defined it, the new-democratic revolution is, by its nature, bourgeois-democratic in that its immediate targets are not capitalism and the bourgeoisie as a whole, but rather only the landlords, foreign imperialists and those sections of the capitalists (the bureaucrat comprador bourgeoisie) linked to foreign and domestic reaction. In Nepal, the need to complete the democratic revolution is stark indeed. It has been clear since the Sugauli Treaty of 1815 following the war with British India and especially over the last fifty years that the country has achieved neither democracy nor national liberation.

Furthermore, in the hands of the reactionary classes these two goals have been made to appear opposite and contradictory. While the comprador bureaucrat capitalist class claims to be democratic and is supported by imperialism, the feudal autocratic monarchy claims to uphold the nation's sovereignty and independence. Likewise, in the process of attaining political power, the comprador bureaucrats have always taken help from one section of imperialists and foreign reactionaries, while, in the name of safeguarding national independence, the feudal autocrats have been propped by other imperialist and foreign reactionaries. So on the surface the power tussle at the top appears to be between reactionary national chauvinist feudalism (actually linked to imperialism) and bourgeois-democratic forces who in reality are comprador bureaucrat capitalists and also puppets of imperialism. The only ones who have never had the opportunity to decide their own fate are the Nepalese people themselves. On every occasion the constitutions were written either by the feudal autocrats or by the compradors. The constitution of 1962 was written by feudal autocrats, as were the 1980 amendments. However, the people's movement of 1990 changed the situation to some degree, and another group of puppets of imperialism, the bureaucrat capitalists, wrote the current constitution, which enshrines "multiparty democracy" (while preserving a powerful monarchy).

The CPN(M) has long made it clear that the constitution of Nepal is already defunct. The palace massacre of June 2001 dealt a heavy blow to the monarchical system, but the monarchists, ignoring the fact that even the semblance of the monarchy's legitimacy had perished along with King Birendra, have gone all-out to reinforce Gyanendra's rule. Following his ascension to power, the king declared a state of emergency and the parliament and its elected government were formally dismissed. The feudal despot abolished in all but words the remaining traces of the 1990 constitution, and even the parliamentarians were deprived of their bourgeois rights. One section of the imperialist puppets, the parliamentarians, demand a return to the 1990 status quo, whilst another section of imperialist puppets, the monarchist feudal autocrats, demand an active monarchy. This has led to a deep, ongoing constitutional crisis and fuelled the desire of all sections of the people to seek a progressive way out. The Party's call for a constituent assembly is an effort to speak to this demand and it has achieved a wide echo throughout society.

The question of a constituent assembly is also inseparably linked to the question of control over the Royal Nepal Army (RNA). The so-called democrats, that is, the parliamentary forces, believe that when they hold the government posts the king is a constitutional monarch and the army is under the control of parliament. This illusion could persist only so long as the interests of the feudal autocrats were not harmed. As the People's War developed and base areas were established, people began to exercise real power according to the revolutionary principle of the masses controlling their own destinies. Under the leadership of the vanguard party, the people built up their own political power and their own army, which ran completely counter to the interests of the monarchy and the feudal autocrats. Under these conditions, the thin veneer of a constitutional monarchy was shattered by the reality of the RNA directly reporting to the king and nakedly exercising reactionary dictatorship. The "triangular" struggle that on the surface seemed to be taking place between three forces - the king and the RNA, the parliamentary political parties, and the people's forces under the leadership of the CPN(M) - was thus shown in reality to be a two-sided battle between the old reactionary state, with the king and the army at the centre, and the new state, led by the CPN(M), whose pillar is the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The proposal for a round-table conference attempts to provide an alternative that could serve as an interim parliament of different sections of the people, with proportional representation for different nationalities, regions, downtrodden castes (Dalits), genders and other sections of the people. This round-table conference would also name an interim government whose task would be to organise the election of the constituent assembly. Through this process, the legitimacy of the RNA would virtually be finished, and the abolition of the absolute monarchy would be solidified.

In fact, there have been demands for a constituent assembly in Nepal going as far back as 1950. This continued to be raised by various forces until 1980, and some left forces again raised the demand for a constituent assembly during the anti-monarchy movement of 1990. But the concrete reality was that the people were unarmed and had no real political power. Even if a constituent assembly had been elected back then, based on the demands of the political parties, the result would not have differed substantially from the result of the 1980 referendum that endorsed the old Panchayat system. During the 1990 upsurge, the Maoists emphasised that the way forward for the country was to prepare for people's war.

Today, the slogans raised by the CPN(M) exist in a completely different subjective and objective context. Now the people have their own people's army and their own revolutionary political power in vast areas of the countryside. They have been exercising political power based on the principle of self-rule. In a large part of the country the principle of self-determination has won respect and the Maoist revolutionary politics of "it's right to rebel" have been ideologically, politically and practically established. The reactionary system has disintegrated more than ever before, and the masses of Nepalese people have expressed their yearning for the complete transformation of society.

The reactionaries in Nepal and abroad understood themselves that the slogans for a round-table discussion, interim government and constituent assembly would, under existing conditions, represent a transitional form led by the CPN(M) whose end result would be none other than the overthrow of the reactionary classes and the country-wide establishment of the new-democratic power that already exists in vast parts of the countryside.

The three demands had an electrifying effect throughout the country. Even among the main parliamentary parties, significant sections have supported the demands. The revisionist UML even instituted disciplinary procedures against four of its leaders simply for wanting to put the question of the three demands on the agenda. The US and British at different times and in different ways made clear that no Maoist-led political solution would be tolerated, and so they promptly announced an increase in military aid. The US even had the nerve to place the CPN(M) on the US State Department's list of "terrorist organisations", even as mass rallies all across Nepal were demonstrating the support of millions of Nepalese for the newly arising political power.2

Cease-fire and Aftermath

While the reactionary regime agreed to the cease-fire and to negotiations in words, it covertly harboured a different agenda. The CPN(M) leadership was keenly aware of the reactionaries' character and was thus able to skilfully expose their hidden agenda. It also became clear early on that one tactic of the reactionaries was to avoid major matters and divert discussion to secondary issues. Through all this, the Nepalese masses have now had an opportunity to witness clearly the reactionaries' double-dealing policy, holding one hand forward for an embrace while the other clinches a knife to stab the people in the back.

Within a week of declaring the cease-fire, the CPN(M) prepared a policy and programme for this period and clarified its policy on the question of negotiations, that is, that the ultimate purpose of negotiations was to empower the Nepalese people, and that if the interests of the people were undermined by the enemy, the Party reserved its right to terminate the cease-fire at any moment. While the Party named a high-level five-person negotiating team led by Dr Babarum Bhattarai, the enemy suffered a stinging humiliation when it had great difficulty even constituting its own negotiating panel. For its part, the CPN(M) respected the cease-fire, not only by circulating its policy among the rank and file, but also, as a goodwill measure, by withdrawing a scheduled general strike (bandh). It also stopped fund collections (such as taxation), except voluntary contributions. The Maoist-led People's Liberation Army, the Maoist cadres and the revolutionary people throughout the country exercised a high level of revolutionary discipline.

Meanwhile, the Royal Nepal Army violated even the minimum norms of the cease-fire. They engaged in encirclements of smaller PLA contingents, seized arms from PLA units, conducted raids, and arrested and intensified spying against Maoist revolutionary supporters, cadres and leaders. Some of the police posts that had been removed under the pressure of the People's War were re-established. Instead of releasing Maoist leaders and political prisoners from prison and publicising the whereabouts of "disappeared" people and cadres, the Royal Government killed several Maoist revolutionaries. After protracted discussion, a 22-point "code of conduct" to govern the cease-fire was agreed by both sides and publicly announced on 13 March 2003.3 In the meantime, the Royal government filed criminal charges against Comrade Baburam Bhattarai and other Party leaders and conducted army movements throughout the country camouflaged as public health efforts - their "doctors" were in fact busy killing Maoist revolutionaries and arresting people! In the negotiations themselves, the enemy camp refused substantive discussions concerning the three demands put forward by the CPN(M) and the future of Nepalese society. Despite these provocations, the CPN(M) declared that the Party would persevere in the negotiation process to the logical end.

In the second round of these negotiations, the old state agreed to confine movements of units of the Royal Army to within a 5-kilometre periphery of their barracks. This agreement caused a nation-wide furore, since it effectively meant that the old state would be able to exercise power only within a small part of the national territory (the 18 per cent of the country within 5 km of army barracks), while the people's rule over the vast majority of the countryside was tacitly recognised. The very next day, one member of the old state's negotiating team tried to deny that there had been any "5-kilometre agreement". The RNA proceeded to arrest many cadres and tried to stop the political activities of the Maoist revolutionaries in the countryside. Under pressure from the whole country, the RNA was finally obligated, in words, to recognise the "5- kilometre agreement".

Why did the old state repudiate an agreement reached by its own negotiators? No doubt this is explained in part by the double-dealing and treacherous nature of the ruling class and its army, like those of reactionaries the world over. But it is also necessary to take full note of the insidious role of US imperialism.

From the time the cease-fire was declared, the US imperialists were actively and openly interfering in Nepalese internal affairs. They welcomed the cease-fire on the day following its announcement, yet, after some days, demanded that the CPN(M) lay down its arms. This would mean nothing less than disarming the people in the face of reactionary suppression. Some days later, the US blamed the Nepalese government for not having fought harder against the CPN(M). All this was plainly aimed at provoking the Nepalese feudals and bureaucrats to violate the minimum norms and conditions of the cease-fire and negotiations. Even whilst negotiations were still going on, the US stepped up its training of the Royal Nepal Army, supplied it with more advanced weaponry, put the Party on its "B" list of "terrorists", and signed a five year-agreement with the Nepalese Royal Government. These facts show that the US goal is to push the reactionary classes into an all-out bloody conflict with the revolutionary people.

Throughout the cease-fire it became clearer and clearer to the masses and indeed the whole society that the Nepalese ruling classes are part and parcel of the world system of imperialism and reaction, which could never accept the will of the vast majority of the people and would, instead, seek to crush their revolution by force.

Mass meetings, some attended by tens of thousands, were held to welcome the CPN(M) negotiators, not only in the capital but in other cities and district towns as well. Meanwhile, the Party took great care that the temporary cessation of hostilities did not lead to the identification of the various levels of Party leaders, who remained strictly underground.

The third and final round of the negotiations was held in the city of Dang in western Nepal, the site of the tremendous military victory of the Maoist-led armed forces in 2001. Earlier a huge mass meeting had welcomed the CPN(M) negotiating team. When the enemy negotiators and international press arrived, they noted that the entire city was decorated with slogans and banners in support of the positions of the CPN(M). Yet once again the representatives of the old state refused substantive discussions, and both sides prepared for what was now seen by all as the inevitable resumption of full-scale warfare.

In the face of the continuing violations of the cease-fire and the old state's repeated refusal to engage in substantive discussions, on 27 August 2003 the Party finally declared its intention to resume military action. As for the RNA, its undeclared violations of the cease-fire had been mounting daily for weeks and months before that. The BBC World Service reported that one factor behind the collapse of the cease-fire was "the added interest of major outside powers in the country's domestic affairs, mainly the US, UK and India. All three of them have helped the Royal Nepalese Army fight the rebels, but India is said to be apprehensive of growing US influence in its backyard."

Indeed, while these powers will doubtlessly work together to thwart the advance of the revolutionary forces, their ongoing rivalry and the general weakness of the central Nepal state makes it difficult for the reactionaries to unite their ranks against the CPN(M). It remains to be seen how much they will pull together as the revolution advances, or how much they will instead turn on each other like rats in a sinking ship. In any case, one of the chief aims of the US imperialists is to try to stand over the fray and knock heads together to forge unity against the revolution, but this effort might well stretch its own resources, especially if it becomes even more bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In any case, while the CPN(M) carried out a few large-scale actions immediately following the end of the cease-fire, the most significant activity was the forcible removal of enemy armed forces and spies from vast sections of the countryside. This took place not only in the hilly region of Nepal, which had long been under PLA control, but also in the agricultural plains of the Terai, which provide most of Nepal's grain and where feudal landownership has weighed on the peasantry for centuries. The Terai borders India and is an area where communications and transportation are more developed than in the hilly region, hence it has long been an enemy stronghold that is militarily more difficult for waging people's war. So the fact that it too has been overwhelmingly liberated is of tremendous importance.

The CPN(M)'s support is not confined to areas where the masses rule. Only three weeks after the collapse of the cease-fire, the Party called for a three-day bandh (general strike), which completely halted all economic activities in the country from 17-20 September 2003, paralysing Kathmandu and costing the economy an estimated 10 million US dollars per day.

Inside the Base Areas

The functioning of the people's government is making steady but rapid progress. The old state had sought to nip the revolutionary war in the bud. It made many attempts to destroy revolutionary construction - people's power, revolutionary politics, and the gains the people had generally won in the course of the People's War. But revolutionary political power has not only involved fighting a resistance struggle in the base areas, it has also meant applying a revolutionary social, economic and judicial policy. The country's poorest, most oppressed and marginalised people have been establishing their revolutionary state power in remote areas where the old state had little presence. The CPN(M) is learning from the policy adopted in revolutionary China under the leadership of Mao, where certain counties were established as models for the whole country. In Nepal today, alongside model industry and model agriculture, the revolutionary people have also been developing model state power.

Model state power involves the understanding and the exercise of the fundamental rights of the people, including production, the supply of basic necessities, education, sanitation, communications, transportation and the establishment of a judicial system. While the areas concerned are located on difficult, poor terrain, once the people have grasped the essential points of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and once they have realised their own strength and capacity, they have been able to turn the whole society downside-up. Just as in China's Tachai, where, despite poor, hilly and unproductive land, the formerly downtrodden and oppressed masses were able to transform it into a model county, so too the Nepalese Maoists have been building several "Tachais" in the hilly terrain of Rapati, Bheri, Karnali and Seti in western Nepal. As the Chinese revolutionaries said, "When the broad masses of poor and lower middle peasants, who are the masters of socialist agriculture, study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought [which we now know as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism---ed.] and master Chairman Mao's line and general and specific policies, they acquire indomitable strength and become powerful enough to tame mountains and harness rivers." (Shanghai Textbook, Banner Press, USA, p. 164.)

Like the revolutionaries in Maoist China, the revolutionaries in Nepal, and the broad mass of poor and lower middle peasants more generally, have been learning to wield Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the general line and specific policies of the CPN(M), and have been acquiring indomitable strength and are becoming powerful enough to tame Mounts Sagarmatha (Everest), Machapuchre, Jaljala, Malika and Chilkhaya and harness the Koshi, Narayani, Karnali and Mahakali rivers. As the Shanghai Textbook said, "They can transform unfavourable natural conditions into favourable ones, transform low yields into high yields, advance from a condition of owning no agricultural machines to owning various agricultural machines, and realise the potential of agricultural mechanisation." With this Maoist understanding, the revolutionary people of Nepal are not only destroying the old system and its infrastructure of exploitation and oppression, but also constructing and building a new economic base and new relations between people - in short, a new social system.

In the Humla district of western Nepal, the aim is for at least one ward of each Village Development Committee to be selected to build model state power. By the time the state of emergency was declared, the development of model state power was underway. When the cease-fire and negotiations began, the Humla and Mugu unified district organising committee had selected Srinagar, Madana Kalika and Viyi as model areas. These are extremely backward areas, where famine has been rampant. Hundreds of people die every year because of hunger and the lack of medicine. Because of the lack of an irrigation system, fertiliser and proper seeds, and since the masses are not mobilised, farmers reap only one harvest a year. The area is marked by extreme differences in climate, from scorching weather in the summer, when malaria takes dozens of lives every year, to extreme cold and snowfall in the winter. In the past, the old state did nothing. Documents seized from the enemy suggest that the old government had allotted some funds for these areas, yet no work had been done on the ground. Where did the funds, however limited, disappear? Into the pockets of officials and flunkeys.

The Party mobilised all possible resources to develop models of new state power. Since the country is still in a state of civil war, the models of state power are designed to meet the demands of the existing situation. The comrade responsible for leading the CPN(M)'s work in Humla and Kalikot told Janadesh (3 June 2003), "The division of the districts for the development of model state power was scientifically determined according to the needs of the civil war." By the time negotiations began, 13 institutions had been established to systematise model state activities. The major institutions in the model state power deal with housing and local development, public education, health, sanitation and culture, public security, agriculture and husbandry, industry and mines, public administration, law and justice, information, communications and propaganda, women and society, the development of oppressed nationalities, water resources, population control, forestry and ecological preservation, and financial and distribution co-operatives.

In the Humla and Jumla districts, barely 15 per cent of the population is literate, and the rate for women is considerably lower than for men. The old state had established a ratio of one primary school for every two to three ward areas, and at most 10 to 15 percent of all children actually attended school. Most children had to spend four or five hours every day walking to and from school. Since the model state power has been established, schools have been systematised, evening schools have been opened, a literacy campaign has been launched, education has begun to be seen as a necessity for everyone, and hundreds of men and women are turning out for evening schools in both the formal and informal education systems. In these evening classes, a minimum of two hours of lesson time is scheduled every day. The first one-hour session is allotted to learning the alphabet and writing, while the second hour is for discussion. The subjects discussed include politics, society, the rights of the people, and the national and international situation. People also discuss what is happening in the village, local needs and possible resources, public health and the needs of the children. Participants are asked to take notes on the discussion in their notebooks.

In most districts, red political power and the development of model systems began during the state of emergency period, that is, prior to the January 2003 cease-fire, though model forms of state power and communes had begun in parts of the Rolpa and Rukum districts even earlier (see AWTW 2002/28.) The people had been aroused politically before the establishment of model state power. People grasped the Maoist political line, and, as Mao said, "Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force that changes society and the world." The people of the Humla and Jumla districts have become a material force to destroy all the old relations and establish the new, and they are pointing the way for millions of others throughout the country.

As the People's War has developed, a new revolutionary culture has superseded the old culture. In model areas, revolutionary culture has become part of the people's lifestyle. In the old state, only the birth of a son was celebrated, whilst revolutionary culture celebrates the births of both daughters and sons. A custom of 13 days of isolation on the death of a family member has disappeared. The marriage system has drastically changed. Polygamy has been abolished, and adultery has become rare, as monogamy and love marriages are promoted. The custom of jari pratha has also been abolished. According to this custom, if a woman marries with a second husband, the new husband had to pay the former husband a property equivalent of one hundred thousand rupees, and the price of a wife from a better off family could be even higher. In essence, this practice reflected and represented the enslavement of women, where the wife was traded for money.

Old religious festivals have given way to new revolutionary festivals. In revolutionary areas such festivals are held on historic days of the revolution, such as the day the People's War was initiated, the birth dates of the great revolutionary leaders and teachers Marx, Lenin and Mao, May First and International Women's Day. Songs, melodies and poems have been adapted, and now convey revolutionary love and passions or reflect the national and international political situation or celebrate actions against the enemy or express sorrow at the deaths of revolutionaries and anger at atrocities carried out in the villages by the RNA. Under the old culture, a woman used to be treated as untouchable and forced to live away from home for up to a week during her menstrual period. That custom has been abolished. Traditional superstitions and non-scientific practices are combated, and sometimes their former practitioners are transformed and even enrol in the People's War. On the other hand, positive aspects of traditional practices, such as the use of local herbals and medicines, are promoted.

One significant aspect of this cultural transformation has been the transformation of ideology to reflect changes in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres. In the revolutionary bases and the model new state powers, a culture of sacrifice has been developed. The understanding of life and death has changed radically from the understanding that existed under the old state. More and more people are ready to give their lives for the revolution and the development of humankind and put their personal interests in second place. Love for the people and hatred of the class enemy has become the essence of revolutionary culture. The feudal nature of the family has also begun to be transformed. The feudal family, based on dependence, patriarchy and narrow self-interest, is giving way to the family of the future, which is free and independent and looks out for society as a whole.

Economic development projects are underway in the red areas. People previously believed that as long as the old state embargoes everything, development was not possible. This made things especially difficult, as the red political areas are cut off from the state development budget. The reactionaries try to attribute any stagnation to the revolutionary People's War. In reality, as the political and economic relations of the old state were transformed in the course of developing the People's War, revolutionary people's committees have built up their own budgets and begun their own development projects. The responsible comrade of the United District Committee of the Revolutionary Developing People's Committee in Rukum reported that the third convention of the revolutionary people's committee held in February 2003 budgeted Rs 23,000,000 (equivalent to $30,000 US) and aimed at doubling the volume of development work by relying on the donation of public labour. Plans for the district include five small hydroelectric projects, a small irrigation project, drinking water provisions, co-operatives, food production, food storage, a medical co-operative, bridge construction and road building. The achievements of the people and their capacity to rely on their own efforts have delivered a severe blow to predatory imperialist financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and to the whole reactionary imperialist "development" model, which relies on foreign capital and ends up further enslaving the people. The ADB has not been able to sell its expensive electricity produced in eastern Nepal, as the revolutionary people in the red base areas in Kholagaun, Kotjhari and Garaila have already been using electricity that they have developed themselves. The People's Committee collects funds from different local sources, including land registration, revenue from industry, mills and factories, commercial duties, public forests, trade in herbals, stone quarries, electricity, taxes and fines and expropriations of class enemies. These income sources have been temporary and irregular, but the People's Committees have been organising to systematise them. The Party is giving due attention to assuring that fund collections take place on an equitable basis, belying the enemy's propaganda that labels CPN(M) taxes as "extortion", while the old state continues to fleece the people and engage in widespread corruption.

Similarly, in most of the developed, organised base areas, such as the Rukum and Rolpa districts, public health, education, care for the martyrs' families and orphans and the elimination of poverty have been accorded high priority. Extremely poor people as well as families are employed in collective farming, orphans are placed in childcare centres, martyrs' families are politicised, and children are provided education.

Nevertheless, the central question is still the destruction of the old state. The highest priority has been given to the war, to politicising the masses and arming the people ideologically and politically. In the revolutionary base areas, the morale of the people is higher, and self-respect has taken deep roots, along with a feeling that they are the people who will usher the world to the profound changes that will mark the twenty-first century.

The revolutionary wave, though at a peak in the western districts of Nepal, is not confined to this area. In the eastern districts and in the Terai areas, Maoist revolutionaries have been applying the Party policy and programme in all spheres of ideological, political, economic and public welfare.

The roots of the old state are basically cut-off from the countryside. Wherever revolutionary governments are established, regional exploitation and Khash national domination is being uprooted by the application of the CPN(M)'s programme of regional and national autonomy. The Party leader of the Solukhumbu district Revolutionary People's Committee in eastern Nepal said that all the institutions of political power are run on the basis of the right to self-rule, and that in the twenty-first century no one would return to the old state's slavery. As the oppressed Nepalese people have stood up to exercise people's rule, significant numbers of doctors, engineers and other intellectuals in the cities have moved to the liberated areas to live alongside the poor peasantry and other sections of the basic masses, and they are putting their training and experience in the service of building the new society.

Eliminating National Oppression

January 2004 saw the electrifying declaration of autonomous regions in different parts of the country. On 9 January 2004, Magarat national autonomy was declared, meaning that the Magar nationality of the Magarat region have gained real political power for the first time in around 300 years.

The centralised reactionary feudal state of Nepal has long oppressed the people of different regions. Empowering these oppressed and marginalised people by winning them real sovereignty has been a key part of the CPN(M) agenda. The Party politically stressed that the liberation of the people would only be possible by combining the national liberation movement with the People's War. In order to unite these movements, the Party laid foundations in its first national conference in 1995, declaring that regional and national autonomy with the right of self-determination, including secession, would be granted to the oppressed regions and nationalities. The advance of the People's War has now turned words into deeds.

According to the Party plan spelled out in January 2004, there will be nine national and regional autonomous areas around the country. Regional autonomy has been declared in the Seti-Mahakali and Bheri-Karnali areas, and national autonomy in the Magarat, Tharuwan, Tamuwan, Tamang, Newar, Madhesh and Kirat areas (proceeding from the west to the east of the country).

Politically, the declaration of regional and national autonomy is a big step in uprooting the feudal system. Militarily, there has been progress in developing the strategic equilibrium closer to readiness for moving over to the strategic offensive. Similarly, in the international political arena, the declaration of national and regional autonomy has once again proved that the success of the national liberation movement is only possible through people's war led by Maoist revolutionaries. Especially after the Second World War, even powerful national liberation movements, such as the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the Kashmir fighters in India, the Palestinians fighting Zionism, the PKK in Turkey, the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland and others in Latin America, have been fighting but are having difficulty winning their struggle. The heart of the problem is political line. Under the leadership of Nepal's red detachment of the international proletariat, millions are achieving national liberation. This is a powerful demonstration of the truth that the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement asserted long ago that revolutionary people's war is the path to national liberation.


Every day in Nepal fighting takes place as the revolutionary regime seeks to consolidate the rule of the people, and the old and dying reactionary regime lashes out in an attempt to re-establish its authority and crush the people's rebellion. The reactionaries are counting heavily on the US imperialists and other reactionaries like the UK and India to come to their rescue. Frequent articles in India's press bemoan the advance of the revolution in Nepal and express fear that the "contagion" will spread south and further inflame areas of India, such as Jarkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Dandakaranya, where revolutionary warfare is already growing.

Imperialist politicians and intelligence agencies, parroted by their media, repeatedly attempt to portray the Maoists of Nepal as "terrorists". But facts on the ground show just who are the real "terrorists". Human rights groups like Amnesty International that tend to oppose revolutionary and reactionary violence alike are not known for sympathizing with armed insurrections like that in Nepal. Yet report after report from these groups show an incontrovertible truth: that the waves of violence inflicted on the masses come from one side - the reactionary state. The latest report from Amnesty International (October 2003) documents hundreds of cases where the RNA has "disappeared" people, many of whom are thought to have been killed in custody. Thousands have been the victims of "arbitrary arrests and detentions", often under laws that Amnesty describes as "in clear breach of the Constitution, as well as international treaties to which Nepal is a state party". One typical procedure used by the police is to arrest people under the Terrorism Act for the maximum allowable 90 days, release them and then before they can even leave the jail area re-arrest them again! Amnesty reports that of 1,000 people detained under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Ordinance enacted in April 2002, not a single person has ever been presented to a judicial authority. At the same time, the report acknowledges that "support for the ideologies expressed by the CPN(M) has surfaced from the most economically and socially deprived areas of Nepal". (Amnesty International, "Widespread -disappearances' in the context of armed conflict", AI Index: ASA 31/045/2003)

It is true that out of the dozens of pages in the report, there are a few paragraphs that refer to "abductions" by the Maoists, and Amnesty calls on them to abide by the Geneva Convention. This is undoubtedly intended, to some extent, to make the overwhelming condemnation of the Nepal government more palatable to powerful reactionaries, but it nevertheless tends to sow confusion by focusing on the issue of violence abstracted from whether it is in the service of liberation or oppression. It thus winds up confusing contradictions between reaction and revolution with contradictions among the people themselves. A reactionary government agent with the people's blood on his hands who is arrested and punished by the popular power in accordance with the guidelines of the new revolutionary state is thus treated as a "victim" who has been "abducted", whereas a revolutionary activist arrested by the reactionary state and judged in accordance with the reactionary rules of the old legal system elicits no comment. Amnesty's "equal-handed" treatment of reaction and revolution thus conceals an inherent bias to accommodate with the established order. The fact that, despite this, the overwhelming bulk of the Amnesty report is devoted to exposure of the government's crimes is thus testimony to how vicious and widespread the state repression has become as the war has intensified.

What no pro-imperialist analyst wishes to face is the obvious question of how a force that began with no arms and small numbers has been able, in the course of only seven years, to "terrorise" virtually the whole population of the rural areas and rely on them for support and sustenance against the well-documented widespread brutality of the enemy's police and armed forces. In fact, the enemies of the Nepal revolution know only too well that the CPN(M) and the forces that it is leading are most definitely not "terrorist" - but this is undoubtedly the reason for their biggest fear of all: that the example of a Maoist-led revolution will inspire the downtrodden around the world to see the way out of their miserable conditions and spark the hope, and the struggle, for a different life, not in the "Paradise" of bin Bush or bin Laden, but right on our own planet Earth, ripped free from the plunder and repression of the imperialists and reactionaries. Yet the hysteria of the imperialists and reactionaries and the parroting of these lies by some forces from whom the people generally expect better has ominous implications.4 It is under the signpost of combating "terrorism" that the US and other reactionary powers are stepping up their support for the pathetic monarchy holed up in Kathmandu. And these same reactionaries are also trying to paint the supporters of the revolutionary masses of Nepal, especially the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and the parties that make it up, with the same "terrorist" brush to try to justify their suppressive measures.

As the BBC reported on 20 September 2003, "The rebels are battle-hardened and have areas of the countryside under firm control, but they remain poorly armed and the international community - including crucially India - is lining up against them." The reactionary powers are indeed trying to pull their ranks together under the baton of the US imperialists to save this corrupt and endangered reactionary regime. The revolutionary people of Nepal, who have raised their heads and sacrificed so many of their sons and daughters as they stand on the front lines of the world revolution will doubtlessly face unprecedented challenges in the days ahead. They need and deserve the full support of people around the world. Their struggle is truly opening a breach in the world imperialist system for the international proletariat and the oppressed.


1. For more on these events see AWTW 2002/29.

2. The US State Department actually publishes two lists. The CPN(M) figures on list "B" --- "terrorist" organisations to be observed.

3. The Code of conduct agreed that: 1. Both parties should be committed and effortful to find a peaceful solution through dialogue. 2. Both sides are committed and effortful to find mutual agreement on matters of national importance. 3. Both parties will stop violent activities and will not deploy security forces that could ignite fear amongst the general public. 4. Both parties will refrain from aggressive activities around high security areas. 5. Both sides will gradually release prisoners. 6. Both sides will work for the interests of the general public peacefully and without hindrance. 7. Ideas of both sides to get fair and impartial treatment in the state media. 8. Both sides to refrain from publishing comments that could mar the talks and peace process. 9. Both sides to be civil while making comments. 10. Both sides to refrain from forcibly taking money or goods as donations. 11. Both sides to organise peaceful meetings to protest; there will be no strikes, bandhs or transport strikes during the cease-fire. 12. Both sides to refrain from searches, arrests and kidnappings. 13. Both sides to help each other in maintaining peace during the cease-fire. 14. No obstacles to be created in the transportation of food, medicine and essential goods. 15. Both sides will not obstruct the free movement of people. 16. No obstructions to be placed by both sides while exercising fundamental rights. 17. Both sides to allow movement of negotiators without impediment. 18. Both sides will help in the return home of displaced persons and their assimilation. 19. A monitoring team will be formed with the understanding of both. 20. Changes to the code of conduct can be made with mutual understanding. 21. Both sides will amicably settle differences in the interpretation of the code. 22. The code of conduct can be terminated through mutual understanding. (www. nepalnews.com)

4. For example, the prestigious monthly Le Monde Diplomatique repeated these kinds of silly lies in its November 2003 issue, quoting the claims of unnamed Western diplomats that Nepalese fighters received training in Peru. The CIA and other reactionaries use these claims to tar the people's struggles as devoid of indigenous support and fomented by a conspiracy of "outside" "terrorist" agitators.