Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ceasefire Declared in Nepal

The new Nepali government, led by a seven party coalition, today declared a three month ceasefire with Maoist rebels in the region. The Maoists have long been engaged in a violent revolution against the oppressive Nepali monarchy of King Gyanendra, which was toppled this week after nearly a month of mass protests in Kathmandu.

I received a few harsh e-mails from Maoists over the past few days for the anti-Maoist views I expressed in a post. While one fellow called me a "bourgeois democrat" and an puppet of the elites, I personally believe that replacing a capitalist dictatorship with a communist pseudo-democracy is no step forward, and is certainly playing into the hand of the elites. Hyper-centralized democracy, dubbed "New Democracy" by Mao, results in the preservation of oligarchy and the repression of dissent. The Cultural Revolution, despite the rhetoric of Bob Avakian and his cultish followers, shattered the lives of millions, a fact recognized by everyone except for a handful of dogmatic RCP members. Any romantic memories of that period that the left still holds should be flushed down the tubes right along with the capitalist system. Even the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party has acknowledged that under Mao, workers almost never gained control over the means of production, a key tenant of democratic socialism and communism. Mao may have done a few good things like introduce gender equality into Chinese society, but he doesn't deserve to be on the front of anyone's t-shirt.

Of course, Mao's pitfalls don't necessarily translate into a death sentence for the Maoist movement in Nepal. Rather, the violent history of the Maoists largely discredits their movement. In the long civil war between the Maoists and the Nepali government, as many as 13,000 people are believed to have died. The Maoists have also been implicated in the murders of several pro-democracy supporters. The one thing the Maoists have going for them is a dedicated following which includes a large constituency of poor citizens. This great power means they have a responsibility to their supporters to not only comply to the terms of the ceasefire, but also to peacefully participate in democratic elections, not create a monolithic Maoist state. If the various leftist groups in Nepal - the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party (Unified Marxist-Leninist), and the Maoists - work together, perhaps peace in Nepal can become a reality.