Prachanda Steps Down

In the latest turn of events in Nepal, it appears that Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda, or Pushpa

Prachanda Steps Down

Prachanda Steps Down

Kamal Dahal, as he is also known, has resigned. In recent weeks things have heated up in Nepal, with Prachanda’s dismissal of Army head Rookmangud Katawal. Prachanda dismissed Katawal for continuing to recruit for the Nepalese Army and for refusing to integrate 19,000 Maoist fighters currently restricted to United Nations monitored barracks following a peace accord.

The resignation of Prachanda may come as a surprise to some who have been eagerly following the events in Nepal. However, this may not be such a surprise if we examine the nature of the state in Nepal.

Some claim that the situation in Nepal has been one of “Dual Power,” meaning that the Maoist bloc in parliament represents an a direct challenge on the bloc of landowners and politicians aligned with the former monarchy and of course, its armed wing the Nepalese Army (formerly the Royal Nepalese Army). In order to understand whether or not the situation in Nepal represents Dual Power, it may be worth examining the roots of the term – it was a phrase coined by VI Lenin during the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917.  Now, the point here is not to be dogmatic and say something like, “if Lenin said it it’s right!  And if anyone doing anything that differs in any way is wrong!”  Rather, the point is to examine what the concept of Dual Power meant in practice – in the course of events which gave rise to the theoretical concept.  This helps us to get clarity on the application of the concept to the events in Nepal.

Lenin wrote: “What is this dual power? Alongside the Provisional Government, the government of bourgeoisie, another government has arisen, so far weak and incipient, but undoubtedly a government that actually exists and is growing—the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.What is the class composition of this other government? It consists of the proletariat and the peasants (in soldiers’ uniforms). What is the political nature of this government? It is a revolutionary dictatorship, i.e., a power directly based on revolutionary seizure, on the direct initiative of the people from below, and not on a law enacted by a centralized state power. It is an entirely different kind of power from the one that generally exists in the parliamentary bourgeois-democratic republics of the usual type still prevailing in the advanced countries of Europe and America. This circumstance often over looked, often not given enough thought, yet it is the crux of the matter. ”

The people and the People’s Army were Prachanda’s only real power. These bases which served to bring down the monarchy disappeared long ago with the dissolved councils and with the allowed enclosure of the people’s army into UN barracks…

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8 responses to “Prachanda Steps Down

  1. so dual power doesnt exist in nepal, but it did exist in russia. are there other examples in history from that also qualify as dual power, or is russia the only example?

    • Iran in 1979 experienced a phase of dual power as the Shah was overthrown by a mass movement with a working class backbone. Shoras, or workers councils were active in this process and were present throughout Iran which began to represent an alternative structure of power to the overthrown regime. However, the Islamist movement was able to politically consolidate power and effectively shut down the factory/workplace councils partly in relaton to the failure of left-wing elements challenging the reactionary politics of Ayatollah Khomeini’s forces. In shutting these councils down they consolidated their own power structure and maintained exploitative production and social relations.

  2. The problem is though you insist there is no dogmatism in the use of Lenin’s term of Dual Power, there simply in fact is. Why? Because you simply take into recipe that the government of Nepal is a stable existing State of the Bourgeoisie, is that indeed the case? There is no real strong political apparatus that controls the state – the state is divorced of its brain stem and for a while the Maoists were in fact the only stable political force to take up leadership within the state.

    What exists was a coalition government and a constituent assembly, not an actual state in the Marxist sense in Nepal. The Marxist sense of the state is the existence of a repressive apparatus, a monopoly of force, in other words command of armed force. In Nepal there are still two armies – hence there is in fact still dual power in Nepal – and part of the Maoist demands in accordance were to integrate these armies. With their command of civilian government this would occur under their basis.

    Secondly, the cantonments aren’t “UN enclosed barracks.” This is just incorrect understanding of the UN observation force in the area, which “oversees” cantonments and arms, but is itself a small force with no arms and actual command of either armies. Obviously it didn’t stop the recruitment by the National Army and PLA and NA alike have frequently ventured off the cantonments.

    On the question of the revolutionary councils – was it not Lenin who dissolved the Soviets and Mao in the midst of People’s War against the Japanese invaders dissolve revolutionary government in the base areas, turnover land to the tiller programs in favor of progressive tax against the landlords, and even integrate (formally) the armies of the PLA and KMT? Revolution follows a zigzag course and isn’t as simple as maintaining institutions which can practically be just ultra-democratic formalities of the “left-wing.”

    • STP writes: “On the question of the revolutionary councils – was it not Lenin who dissolved the Soviets

      Not quite. Lenin did not dissolve the soviets. The soviets dissolved as a result of the most militant workers – those who played a major role in the soviets – having to fight in the civil war to defend themselves against more than 14 imperialist armies! Not to mention internal opposition from the overthrown bourgeoisie. Democratic institutions like the soviets are great, but if you got cats coming in with guns about to shoot you you’re likely to not meet discussing how to socialize production and you’ll probably be saying, “we gotta fight these fascists trying to kill us, let’s get in formation and do that.” This is fundamental to grasp.

      STP:What exists was a coalition government and a constituent assembly, not an actual state in the Marxist sense in Nepal.

      If a coalition government (read, government) and a constituent assembly do not comprise a state apparatus, then what does? How can no state exist?

      STP: The Marxist sense of the state is the existence of a repressive apparatus, a monopoly of force, in other words command of armed force. In Nepal there are still two armies

      Yes there are two armies, and this is the crux of the contention in Nepal. The maoists attempted to fire the army chief (representative of the monopoly of armed force) and the reactionary president the maoists were in coalition with wouldn’t take it and de-legitimized the maoists attempted firing. These seem to be conflicts of factions within a particular state structure, not the happenings of a “non-state” “government”.

      STP:-hence there is in fact still dual power in Nepal – and part of the Maoist demands in accordance were to integrate these armies.

      If by dual power you mean contending factions existing within a common state apparatus, then you’d be right. but if we understand dual power as meaning more than just competing armies, but competing power structures, then you’re wrong.

      This is the importance of language, and the importance of defining and understanding the terms we use (and the historical contexts in which they were developed) especially when we attempt to use them in relation to analyzing contemporary events.

      Obviously it’s good to get rid of a monarchy (as the maoists have done), but the question still remains: what do we put in its place? The maoists of Nepal are encountering the contradictions of being part of a state-apparatus with reactionary parties. It remains to be known what they will do about these contradictions – attempt to reconcile with the reactionaries, or begin relying on the initiative of the masses of peasants and workers to develop an alternative power structure with which to topple the old.

  3. Big L, your understanding of dual power in the conditions of the Soviet Union itself is simply wrong. Within the interim government and the constituent assembly power was essentially shared by the Soviets with the interim government for most of its short-lived existence. In fact on the question of Dual Power and on the Soviets in general it would do us well to look towards probably Lenin’s most important work in this period “On Slogans.” This was written after the forceful seizure of power from the government

    On Dual Power –

    During that period of the revolution now past, the so-called “dual power” existed in the country, which both materially and formally expressed the indefinite and transitional condition of state power. Let us not forget that the issue of power is the fundamental issue of every revolution

    At that time state power was unstable. It was shared, by voluntary agreement, between the Provisional Government and the Soviets. The Soviets were delegations from the mass of free—i.e., not subject to external coercion—and armed workers and soldiers. What really mattered was that arms were in the hands of the people and that there was no coercion of the people from without.

    We said that the fundamental issue of revolution is the issue of power. We must add that it is revolutions that show us at every step how the question of where actual power lies is obscured, and reveal the divergence between formal and real power. That is one of the chief characteristics of every revolutionary period. It was not clear in March and April 1917 whether real power was in the hands of the government or the Soviet. ”

    I think this can more help us reveal the actual strategy of dual power in the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks had planned to push forward the interim period to its logical end, and possibly even peacefully bring forward a transition of power from the hands of the interim government to the Soviets. In that process, the Bolsheviks were participant in the constituent assembly and militarily defended the interim government led by the Social-Revolutionaries from white revolutionaries. The slogan of “all power of the soviets” was a slogan to push forward the revolutionary struggle for power, not its sole conclusion. Lenin in the article speaks of the dissolution as necessary in the face of counter-revolution, the concern that workers’ in the Soviets would begin sliding to and working with Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries was the main concern of the Bolsheviks.

    On the question of State Power –

    The understanding of government as synonymous with the state is essentially a position which more identifiable with certain trends of Anarchism, not Marxism. Government has always been a character of society in organizing itself socially. The state is understood by Marxists as a certain social formation that develops out of the the totality of social relations when certain contradictions within those social relations, particularly class in our epoch, become irreconcilable. A state apparatus is a repressive apparatus that alienates itself from all these social relations and commands society.

    Lenin puts it “the concept of the ‘power’ which is called the state, [is] a power which arose from society but places itself above it and alienates itself more and more from it. What does this power mainly consist of? It consists of special bodies of armed men having prisons, etc., at their command.”

    Essential to the formation of the state is its ability to have a repressive apparatus, a “monopoly of force.”

    For revolutionaries what is decisive in the struggle for power is an organized core able to take power, the Soviets would have essentially been an impotent power structure without it being armed able to take militant action that finally toppled the Social-Revolutionary government. The Communist Party of China and the Chinese masses without the People’s Liberation Army could not have maintained itself or its base areas. This is fundamental. Dual Power literally translates into opposing power identified in its command of force.

    Reduction of it into various practices and forms of governance controlled by revolutionaries is essentially to take the Zapatista line on Dual Power, and the ambiguity here of “alternative power structure” seems to imply this. What we’re speaking about here is the question of taking state power entirely, not merely establishing alternative government formations – even if that were the case, what is of primary concern even then is who is command of such formations? What is the political line leading?

    To get more into detail on Nepal, while we should of course approach this question as revolutionaries we shouldn’t merely flail examinations of the Russian Revolution or the Chinese, or any other historical model. This is a line of definite simple empiricism and is insufficient to begin understanding what Mao called the zigzag course of revolutionary struggle.

    Lets begin with understanding the facts of the conditions in Nepal.

    There are two armed organizations which are demobolized for the most party, People’s Liberation Army and National Army. The PLA has nearly 20,000 combatants and the NA has nearly 90,000. The Maoists have 38% of seats within the constituent assembly and were just leading the government in coalition with the UML and a few other smaller parties, with the Nepali Congress in opposition.

    Understanding why the Maoists went into this process is important, it was the Maoists understanding that while they had militarily achieved strategic equilibrium with the Royal Nepalese Army, that it would not be possible to achieve a military defeat against them. The Maoists went into the seven party alliance to overturn the monarchy’s control over the state and to begin political struggle against the bourgeois parties throughout Nepal. For the most part, in the last year of the government has shown success – the broad revolutionary left-wing, with the exception of very small and stale Marxists group (which don’t uphold a line of self-determination of national minorities) have entered into the Maoist Party, the mass organizations of the the Maoists have been transformed from small underground organizations to mass organizations which tens of thousands of members.

    The political episode of Prachanda moving to oust Gen. Katawal was pushed on him by the most revolutionary wing of the Maoist Party to push forward struggle and polarize Nepali society. Within the Army there are different centres emerging, and really the whole point of pushing “reintergration” is to begin creating contradictions amongst the National Army as well as the Bourgeois and Revisionist parties. The UML decision to abandon the Maoists has left them looking backward to their base and though now Prachanda has resigned from government, we should be more optimistic about the new possibility in struggle.

    I agree with you that in fact all of this up in the air, but to reapproach the Maoists with stale analysis encapsulated in 1917 Russian experience is not a better line than merely cheerleading this all – in fact I think the latter is even a bit better, the demands of internationalism should make us hold our tongue a bit and be ready to be surprised by the heroic masses of Nepal and the leadership of the Maoists.

  4. By the way on the part of “stale analysis” I am not referring to you, but to the other severely poor political line of the former fraternal party of the Maoists we know very well in this country.

    • from what i understand, the state is not alienated from class contradictions, but is a product and extension of those class contradictions, namely the contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat. insofar as it operates upon the same bourgeois logic (exploiting labor for a surplus, oppressing the always latent proletarian propensities for rebellion, etc) as the “private sector,” it is somewhat autonomous, but the bourgeois state is mostly a direct instrument for managing conflict amongst the bourgeoisie and asserting their common agenda. thats precisely what the revolutions of the european enlightenment era created our modern bureaucratic bourgeois states to be!

      The bourgeoisie’s common agenda is PROFIT. so i find it odd that neither big L nor shinethepath have mentioned any of the economic conditions in Nepal. no mention of what the whole maoist project has achieved in terms of altering the balance of forces between proletariat and bourgeoisie (or, as appropriate, between peasant and landlord) at the factory, shop, community, or field level.

      Neither the russian nor the Chinese revolutions nor the Iranian, Chilean, Portuguese, Cuban, German, or any other attempt at revolution were first and foremost about guns, taking state power, and direct military force. I see this political reductionism regularly demonstrated by maoists, and i think its one of maoism’s main deficiencies.

      If political power is taken by a supposedly revolutionary party, it means nothing if they fail to alter the class relations and the way production is carried out. In the course of development of the Russian revolution, innumerable waves of strikes and mass strikes took place, with tangible and immediately recognizable gains along the way, like the reduction of the hours of the workday, increase in pay, workplace democracy, and thousands of other “reforms” which were obtained in militant manner. these gains are what propelled the proletariat to be self-active and self-organized, although of course it was the role of revolutionaries which operated within this swirl of self-activity that gave it its ultimately revolutionary product. The process of this economic struggle was intertwined with political struggles of a micro nature, such as when a city- or region-wide general strike would be called in response to the police murder of a worker. A political strike.

      Through ebb and flow of economic/political/economic/political action, the proletariat develops more or less organically (with the aid of conscious revolutionaries often pointing the way forward) the tools for its own liberation. the Soviet was the most outstanding achievement of this kind.

      Marxists see politics and the state as superstructural products of the economic base. So can somebody enlighten us as to relevant processes in the past decade in Nepal which go deeper than just guns, parliamentary maneuvers, and changes in head of state? The maoists in nepal seem adept at channeling the people’s suffering and rage into columns of guerillas, but less adept at nurturing organic processes that unleash the people’s creativity in constructing structures like Iranian shoras, chilean cordones, or russian soviets. im curious about committees that act as vehicles for self-activity, not tools for a pre-conceived battle plan drawn up by a party central committee bent on putting itself at the head of state.

      The fact that the Nepal process has been led to a dead end of parliament and military stalemate seems to offer us little to learn from other than not to be so gun-focused, and not to become a communist with aspirations to govern a bourgeois/paternalistic political-economy better than the bourgeoisie/landlords themselves (not to say that revolutionary political parties are bad, but a sign of a true revolutionary movement is when the revolutionaries struggle to keep up with the “spontaneity” of the “masses” rather than artificially conjur it up or restrain it in a preconceived track from the get go).

      In the US, let us be more patient and focus our energies on created the basic structural building blocks for the dictatorship of the proletariat and wage the mundane class struggles, which though less romantic than maoist inspired guerilla columns, are ultimately the best school for both the working class AND “revolutionaries” alike.

      • Esteban,

        I find overall your understanding of the operations of the State to find itself ultimately problematic because it takes upon itself a very simple and formulaic. While it is of course true in the most part that in the bourgeois liberal manifestation of the state that it serves more or less as an executive committee of the bourgeoisie, this is not by its nature a definition of the state. The state is an alienated body that is relatively autonomous from civil society.

        Lets put it another way, lets take the Nazi German state, can anyone seriously make the claim that the political actions of the holocaust suited German capital and the German bourgeoisie? This example serves as the most glaring example of the deficiency in a class reductionist approach to the state and other structural apparatuses of society. Analysis must proceed on a basis that understands how the logic of capital works itself in such a way that reproduces all its relations amongst all levels of society.

        In this way your understanding of what Socialism will look like still fits within the dynamics of capitalism and its logic, especially what we can identify as “bourgeois right.” Raise in pay, cutting work hours, etc. are all essentially Trade-Unionist demands, that may be necessary and possible under socialism but this is not how its defined because that itself can be won within capitalism – the history of capitalism itself, despite vast oppression and exploitation of its working class was able to continually raise the general wealth of various sections of the working class and prevailing wages.

        Under the domain of pure economic self interest only can manifest a bourgeois politics amongst the working class, only trade-unionist consciousness not the consciousness of the proletariat.

        This is the exact problem with Trotskyist-Luxembourgist-Syndicalist attitudes on “General Strike” as a tactic. Trade Union strikes only amount to militant demands within the given basis of Trade Unionism, demands that are seeking privilege within the basis of capitalism. In Russia that strikes weren’t “innumerable” during the revolution, they were actually simply political insurrection of all working people. The Soviets, organizations of political power outside of Trade-Unions, were the basis of political insurrection – more importantly they were armed militant bastions of defense for the transitional government against the White Russians and ultimately the militarized force that ended up sacking that government.

        And if we are to remember very quickly the Soviets needed to be disbanded out of the necessity of defending a revolutionary government from all types of “Left-in-form, but Right-in-essence” organizations such as the Mensheviks.

        In the context of Nepal, the value in the revolutionary struggle there is in essence that such an advanced struggle is being made within the conditions of a very weak conditions of revolutionary power in the world, as well as the essential value to revolutionary struggle in the South Asian sub-continent to world revolution altogether. Of course the Nepalese struggle is at this stage still a struggle more or less against the feudal classes and aspects of society and Indian expansionism more than anything else, but lets look at what structurally the Maoists are achieving. The Maoists presence on the scene, of course outside of their rural places where they’ve established various forms of political institutions that served the people, political organizations of women that is numbering militant membership in the tens of thousands, a revolutionary student organization that has been elected throughout Nepal and changing the academic discourse of those universities (literally taking control of it), a militant organization, the YCL as an instrument of political action of the people in Nepal in Kathmandu and eslewhere.

        Lets also recall of course the PLA, which actually more importantly than any workers’ council in existence, is a political organization armed and disciplined that is defending the revolutionary advancement of people.

        I think to conjur up all the the actions of the Nepalese is 1) unnecessary since the twist and turns of this revolution haven’t been seen, 2) the Maoists themselves have put forward their achievements in their journals, papers, etc. and I would think that these insurrectionists wouldn’t have the support they currently enjoy amongst broad sections of people and 3) analysis from outside of Nepal of all particular social relations is pretty hard considering there is hardly any lengthy substantial revolutionary analysis from Nepal itself to made available in English.

        This all brings together some problematic assumptions of comrades in the US who are maintaining this critical distance between themselves and the Maobadi. For example, Esteban, you assume that the course of government and the CA has been a dead end. How is that? It seems to me this path has had the actual affect of repolarizing the politics of Nepal decisively in the Maoists favor, all other essentially revolutionary trends have united with them, their ranks have grown in their mass organizations and they now command a bigger section of the organized labor movement in the Kathmandu valley, and the PLA has grown from 8,000 to 20,000 armed people.

        Secondly what is with this assumption of what serves as “better training” ground for revolutionaries? First of all, do you know how over a decade ago the People’s War was started? The Maoists answered the demand of people in the hills to fight back against police repression. The “working class” in Nepal, as in many very unevenly developed parts of the periphery of Imperialism is actually mostly migrant labor, so the idea of importing essentially what can be possible and maybe the best of logic of organizing revolutionaries and developing the consciousness amongst the masses in the US is not how it will be done in Nepal.

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