A Closer Look at Nepal’s New Democratic Revolution

As the revolution in Nepal marches forward many are looking to understand this important struggle led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Here is a sort of annotated bibliography for getting a clearer understanding of what is happening in Nepal from a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint.

Background Material

"Revolution at the Roof of the World"

Freedom Road pamphlet: "Revolution at the Roof of the World"

These articles and resources should help the reader get a clearer understanding of how the CPN-Maoist advanced through the decade long people’s war to where they are today, having swept away the monarchy, winning the most seats to the Constituent Assembly, and having their leader, Chairman Prachanda, elected Prime Minister.

A good summation of the history up until very recently is the pamphlet released by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “Revolution at the Roof of the World“. This pamphlet is available as a screen viewable and printable pdf and a pamplet layout pdf.

Some of Mao’s writings are helpful here, particularly “The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party” and “On Protracted War“. “On Protracted War” explains how a revolutionary force in an underdeveloped country can progress through three stages in armed struggle: Strategic Defense, Strategic Equilibrium, and Strategic Offensive. A good article looking at the people’s war period of the struggle is “Movement Fights Poverty and Oppression in Nepal” from Fight Back! News (this article is also included in the pamphlet “Revolution at the Roof of the World“). There is also a lot of background material on the RCP’s People’s War in Nepal page.

New Democracy and the Strategy of the CPN-Maoist

The Nepalese Maoist’s strategy is based on the two-stage theory of New Democracy which the great Chinese revolutionary leader, Mao Zedong, developed for revolution in Third World (colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal) countries. The most concise explanation is probably found in Mao’s textbook for new cadres, “The Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party”:

Since Chinese society is colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal, since the principal enemies of the Chinese revolution are imperialism and feudalism, since the tasks of the revolution are to overthrow these two enemies by means of a national and democratic revolution in which the bourgeoisie sometimes takes part, and since the edge of the revolution is directed against imperialism and feudalism and not against capitalism and capitalist private property in general even if the big bourgeoisie betrays the revolution and becomes its enemy — since all this is true, the character of the Chinese revolution at the present stage is not proletarian-socialist but bourgeois-democratic.

However, in present-day China the bourgeois-democratic revolution is no longer of the old general type, which is now obsolete, but one of a new special type. We call this type the new-democratic revolution and it is developing in all other colonial and semi-colonial countries as well as in China. The new-democratic revolution is part of the world proletarian-socialist revolution, for it resolutely opposes imperialism, i.e., international capitalism. Politically, it strives for the joint dictatorship of the revolutionary classes over the imperialists, traitors and reactionaries, and opposes the transformation of Chinese society into a society under bourgeois dictatorship. Economically, it aims at the nationalization of all the big enterprises and capital of the imperialists, traitors and reactionaries, and the distribution among the peasants of the land held by the landlords, while preserving private capitalist enterprise in general and not eliminating the rich-peasant economy. Thus, the new type of democratic revolution clears the way for capitalism on the one hand and creates the prerequisites for socialism on the other. The present stage of the Chinese revolution is a stage of transition between the abolition of the colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal society and the establishment of a socialist society, i.e., it is a process of new-democratic revolution. This process, begun only after the First World War and the Russian October Revolution, started in China with the May 4th Movement of 1919. A new-democratic revolution is an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution of the broad masses of the people under the leadership of the proletariat. Chinese society can advance to socialism only through such a revolution; there is no other way.

The new-democratic revolution is vastly different from the democratic revolutions of Europe and America in that it results not in a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie but in a dictatorship of the united front of all the revolutionary classes under the leadership of the proletariat. In the present War of Resistance, the anti-Japanese democratic political power established in the base areas which are under the leadership of the Communist Party is the political power of the Anti-Japanese National United Front; this is neither a bourgeois nor a proletarian one-class dictatorship, but a joint dictatorship of the revolutionary classes under the leadership of the proletariat. All who stand for resistance to Japan and for democracy are entitled to share in this political power, regardless of their party affiliation.

The new-democratic revolution also differs from a socialist revolution in that it overthrows the rule of the imperialists, traitors and reactionaries in China but does not destroy any section of capitalism which is capable of contributing to the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal struggle.

A helpful secondary source here is John Mage and Bernard D’Mello’s article, “The Beginning of New Democratic Nepal“. Understanding how the theory of New Democracy plays into their strategy is helpful, as the bourgeois press, when it is not denouncing the Maoists are ‘warlords’ and ‘terrorists’ likes to say that they are trading in their revolutionary ideals for the ballot box, showing a real lack of understanding of the Maoists aims and views. Moving through the People’s War to the Constituent Assembly was a complex process, not a simple ‘ballot for the bullet’ trade-off. A helpful article in this regard is “Nepal’s Revolution: Armed Struggle Made Free and Fair Elections Possible” by Analytical Monthly Review.  

Perhaps the best articles from the CPN-Maoist in this regard are “Politico-Economic Rationale of People’s War in Nepal” and “New Democratic Revolution and the Theory of People’s War“. Also helpful are the articles in the most recent issue (July 2007, number 11) of the CPN-Maoist’s theoretical journal, The Worker.

An article discussing some of the Maoist’s ideological positions is “On the Main Ideological Contributions of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)“. At the core of the Maoist strategy is the Mass Line. Mao Zedong’s major work on the Mass Line is “Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership“. In this article, Mao outlines nine points which form the core of the Mass Line. Particular attention should be drawn to point four:

In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily “from the masses, to the masses”. This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge.

This is how the CPN-Maoist has gotten so far. I would highly recommend FRSO’s study, “Some Points on the Mass Line“, which explains that the Mass Line encompasses “aspects of many things, including philosophy (the relationship between theory and practice, between knowing and doing), Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics (united front work, correct methods of leadership), and organizational theory (party building – the construction of revolutionary organization).” Obviously these have all been burning questions of the revolution and will continue to be so. 

Constituent Assembly and Beyond

The Constituent Assembly election showed the world the huge popularity of the Maoist revolution and gave the lie to any claims that the Maoists were moving their struggle forward through terror and intimidation. The Maoists won more seats than any other party in the Constituent Assembly, a body intended both to serve as an interim government and write a new constitution. A helpful article analyzing the importance of the Constituent Assembly (CA) election is from Freedom Road, “Maoists Sweep Constituent Assembly Elections in Nepal” (this article is also included in the pamphlet “Revolution at the Roof of the World“).

Now the Monarchy is gone, but the reactionary Nepali Congress Party, whose interest in the revolution stopped with the removal of the King, has tried relentlessly to halt the march of progress through political manuevering within the CA. The Maoists isolated them in order to elect Prachanda to the position of Prime Minister, an important step in consolidating the revolution’s victories thus far. See my recent post, “Prachanda elected PM in Nepal“. Many struggles are still ahead as the revolution continues to unfold, including the question of the integration of the People’s Liberation Army into the Nepal Army (formerly the Royal Nepal Army), and who controls this army.

I will continue to write and post articles on Nepal as things progress. I would also suggest people keep an eye the Nepal Constituent Assembly Portal, “The Red Star” (the CPN-Maoist paper), and the “Revolution in South Asia” blog for regular updates and analysis.

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