Nepal: “Maoist”-Claimant Parties Moving Toward Unity on Political Program and Demands

[Ever since the leading Maoist party in Nepal abandoned its rural peasant base areas, dismantled its Liberation Army and People's War in 2006, and re-oriented their forces and energies to win urban forces and alliances and reformist electoral prospects, there have been ongoing reductions in their influence, significant drops in support, and a string of organizational splits.  Now their electoral urban orientation has utterly failed, and there are attempts to rise from those bankrupt campaigns with a call to unite all who have similar urban and electoral political lines, and thereby reinvigorate without challenging the opportunism which dropped the revolutionary People's War as a hot potato which was and is unacceptable to capitalists, regional hegemonists and imperialists.  Readers should not assume there is any substance to these parties' current claim of the "Maoist" banner, as their every move  reflects a rejection of Maoist history and Maoist political line.  See this article for the latest news on this desperate effort. -- Frontlines ed.]

Mao followers say they are close to forming alliance

Himalayan Times, 15 June 2014

TIKA R PRADHAN
KATHMANDU: Realising the strength of unity among like-minded forces, the parties having faith on Maoism and Mao ideology today agreed to join hands.

In a brief meeting of the top brass of the five parties — Unified CPN-Maoist, CPN-Maoist, CPN(Unified), CPN (Maoist) and Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) — at the party headquarters of the CPN-M in Buddhanagar, the five parties have decided to forge a working alliance.

“Due to time constraint we could not draft the agreement today. We have decided to forge the alliance on Saturday,” said Mani Thapa of RCP.

Thapa said the five forces have agreed to create a forum among the like-minded forces to discuss ways to discuss a communist centre in Nepal, which will set the agenda for the overall communist movement in the country. Continue reading

Revolutionaries in India Find Greater Unity in New Merger of Maoist Parties

[Decades after the first wave of Maoist revolutionary struggle in India, often referred to as the Naxalite rebellion, was brutally suppressed by the Indian State, and the movement was splintered into many groups and parties, the struggle to unite the Maoists has taken a great step forward.  Beginning nearly 10 years ago with the merger of the People's War Group and the Maoist Coordination Center, forming the Communist Party of India (Maoist), now, a further step merging the CPI (Maoist) with the CPI(ML)-Naxalbari has advanced the struggle to a stronger and more developed stage.  The newly unified party announced this advance on May Day, International Workers Day, with the following statement.  --  Revolutionary Frontlines]

———————————————

 

May 1, 2014

Merger Declaration of CPI(Maoist) and CPI(M-L)Naxalbari
Hail the Merger of the Maoist Parties in India into a Single Party!

(Released to the press by comrades Abhay and Krantipriya, spokespersons of the respective parties)

On this occasion of the International day of the world proletariat, the glorious May Day, we the Maoists of India, with a great sense of responsibility and firm conviction, announce the merger of the CPI (Maoist) and CPI(M-L) Naxalbari into a single party, to be known as CPI(Maoist). Thus strengthening the vanguard of the Indian proletariat, which is a contingent of the world proletariat, we dedicate ourselves evermore firmly to the cause of the Indian revolution and the world proletarian revolution.
The Maoist movement took form through the great Naxalbari uprising of 1967. Inspired and led by comrades Charu Mazumdar and Kanhai Chatterjee, founder leaders of our party, thousands of leaders, cadres and masses laid down their invaluable lives to advance the revolutionary movement and build a strong party.
After the setback of early 1970s and the martyrdom of comrade Charu Mazumdar, the communist revolutionary forces were divided into many groups. The genuine revolutionaries while trying to build the movement in their respective areas made serious attempts to unify all revolutionaries into a single party. In the course of this process over the last four decades the two main streams represented by the erstwhile CPI (ML) (People’s War) and the MCCI merged into a single party, the CPI (Maoist), on 21st September 2004. This marked a qualitative leap in realizing a long drawn aspiration of the workers, peasants and other oppressed masses to build a single directing centre leading the new democratic revolutionary war in India to success and marching forward to establishing socialism and then communism. Continue reading

India: The largest “democracy”? — or, a brazen — but false — electoralism?

[As Maoists in India denounce India's claimed "democracy" as deceptive and fraudulent, the Indian state deploys nearly 150,000  troops, and moves hundreds of voting stations out of rebellious regions.  See the following two reports from the mainstream Indian press.  --  Frontlines ed.]

———————————————

Maoist posters calling for poll boycott found at bus stand

Business Standard, Tuesday, October 22,

Bottom of Form

Maoist posters calling for boycott of the upcoming Assembly polls were found pasted at a bus stand in the Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, where as many as 18 Maoist-affected constituencies will go to polls on November 11.

Three posters and two banners were found put up at the waiting hall of the bus stand under Pakhanjore police station limits last evening, a senior police official told PTI today.

Although, security personnel regularly visit villages to instill confidence in the people to vote, the rebels have appealed to villagers to kick both the BJP and Congress out of power, the police said, adding that a case has been registered in this connection.

Meanwhile, taking serious note of the Maoist threat, the Centre has sent additional 40,000 personnel of paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polling, in addition to around 65,000 police personnel and 27,000 paramilitary troops already engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the state. Continue reading

India: Soni Sori’s husband, Anil Futane, passes away

By the time he was acquitted, Anil Futane was beaten so severely in jail he became paralyzed. With his death on 2 August, serious questions are being raised about the working of the police force in Chhattisgarh
In custody: The next SC hearing in the Soni Sori case will be held on 23 January

is led by the police outside the district court complex in New Delhi
Photo: Shailendra Pandey

’s husband, Anil Futane, died on 2 August at his native place in Geedum tehsil in Dantewada district of . Like Soni, he had been arrested and jailed as a . On 1 May 2013 he was acquitted by the court after spending nearly three years in jail. While in jail he was beaten so severely he became paralyzed. Soni, Anil’s wife, is still lodged in Jagdalpur central jail and his last rites were performed in her absence.

Soni and her husband were residents of Sameli village in . While Soni was a teacher in a government primary school, her husband, Anil ferried local passengers in a Bolero jeep. In July 2010 a case was filed against , Anil and Lingaram Kodopi for carrying out a naxal attack on the house of Avdhesh Gautam, a Congress leader from Nakulnar in the Dantewada district of . Although Anil was acquitted in all the cases, his health has severely deteriorated in the three years he spent in jail.

NRK Pillai, a CPI leader and a senior journalist from Dantewada, says that the police left Anil at his house in the Geedum tehsil of Dantewada. Although he had been acquitted in all the cases, no one came forward for his treatment. Pillai says he had gone to Anil’s house to meet him and saw that he was in serious need of medical attention. He talked to his associates in Delhi regarding Anil’s health and was advised to send him to Delhi for proper treatment. According to Pillai no one came forward to take Anil to Delhi because of police fear. Continue reading

Dual Power in a Guerrilla Zone: Two Reigns of Political Violence in Bastar

by Bernard D’Mello and Gautam Navlakha

The ambush on May 25 by Maoist guerrillas in the Darba Ghati valley (in the Sukma area of the Bastar region in southern Chhattisgarh), 345 kms south of the state capital of Raipur, of a convoy of provincial Congress Party leaders has shocked the Indian state apparatus. The Z-plus and other categories of armed security personnel — entitlements of the ‘lords’ of India’s political establishment — were no match for the guerrillas. The main targets of the attack were Mahendra Karma, founder of the state-promoted, financed and armed private vigilante force, Salwa Judum (SJ), and Nand Kumar Patel, the chief of the Congress Party in the province and a former home minister of the state.

A press statement issued by Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (CPI [Maoist]) on May 26 states that the “goal of this attack was mainly to eliminate Mahendra Karma and some other reactionary Congress top leaders”. It pointedly reminds Chhattisgarh’s state government leaders and state police officials “who are hell-bent on crushing the revolutionary movement of Dandakaranya” that they suffer from a “big illusion that they are unbeatable”. Mahendra Karma too falsely believed “that Z-plus Security and bullet proof vehicles would save him forever”. The statement also clarifies that in Chhattisgarh “there are no differences between [the] ruling BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and opposition Congress in terms of policies of suppressing the revolutionary movement. Only due to public pressure, as well as to gain electoral benefits, some of the local leaders of the Congress at times came [out] in condemnation of incidents like [the] Sarkeguda and Edsametta massacres”.

The convoy was returning from a “Parivartan Yatra” (“March for Change”) rally in Sukma and the Maoists knew not only that Karma and Patel were in the convoy, but even the route that it was to take. The assassinations were thus meticulously planned and executed, though they took a two-hour long gun battle with the state forces to accomplish, a clash in which many who merely serve or protect (the latter, armed personnel) the oppressors, and do so because they have little choice, were either killed or injured. The Maoist guerrillas reportedly even provided first aid to some of these persons who suffered injuries. Continue reading

Indian state and media cast a worried eye on Maoist-led people’s movement

[Despite ongoing claims of imminent demise of Maoist forces, the Indian State remains obsessed over the continuing growth of the people's movements and People's War.  Two major newspapers, known for reporting the "official" views, describe their worries in the following articles from the Hindustan Times and ZeeNews.  While the accuracy of their assessments cannot be confirmed, the adage "time will tell" certainly applies.  -- Frontlines ed.]
————————————————
Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times

New Delhi, April 15, 2013

Three-state Red corridor is new Maoist threat

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/4/15_04_13-pg-01b.jpgIn bad news for security forces, Maoists have managed to form a Red corridor that gives them easy movement and safe passage through three states – Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand.

The term Red corridor has so far been used for the entire naxal-infested region in India that includes the three states as well as parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

But recent interrogation of arrested cadre has revealed it now literally means a narrow but contiguous strip that runs from the southern tip of Chhattisgarh to central Jharkhand – the two key theatres of naxal violence.

Such a corridor would be crucial to the Maoist strategy of enabling free and safe movement of its military companies from one battlefield to another.

Government sources told HT that Maoists arrested in recent weeks, including a courier, had confirmed the corridor was now in use.

“A corridor is essentially a question of support structures. In recent times, they have strengthened themselves in Odisha’s heavily-forested Naupada district,” a home ministry official said.

This means Maoists have managed to build a reasonable support base among the local population along the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border, right up to Jharkhand’s Gumla district. Continue reading

Questions of Freedom and People’s Emancipation — Part 4, by Kobad Ghandy

Kobad Ghandy after his arrest

Kobad Ghandy after his arrest

[Kobad Ghandy, a member of the Politburo and Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), was captured by Indian Intelligence Bureau on  September 17, 2009.  Initially kept in illegal detention and tortured, he remains a political prisoner in Tihar Jail, where he continues his revolutionary studies and writings, organizes Maoist classes, and joins the struggles of other prisoners against the draconian conditions they face.  The following is the fourth of a 5 or 6 part series on freedom--its promise and the problems in its pathway.  The first article (covering Part I – The Context) and the second one (covering Part II – Search for Freedom through History) can be seen at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/questions-of-freedom-and-peoples-emancipation-by-kobad-ghandy/  The third installment, on Socialism and Existentialism, can be seen at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/questions-of-freedom-and-peoples-emancipation-part-3-by-kobad-ghandy/  -- Frontlines ed.]
—————————-

Mainstream, VOL L No 47, November 10, 2012

PART IV — No Freedom without Values

When a man feels superiority over others, this sort of inward elation is called pride. A proud man will not tolerate any other to be on equal terms with himself. In private and public he expects that all should assume a respectful attitude towards him and acknowledge his superiority, treat him as a higher being… So long as man feels proud he will not like for others, what he likes for himself. His self-esteem will deprive him of humility, which is the essence of righteousness. He will neither be able to discard enmity and envy, resentment and wrath, slander and scorn, nor will he be able to cultivate truth and sincerity, and calmly listen to advice. In short, there is no evil which a proud man will not inevitably do in order to preserve his elation and self-esteem. Vices are like a chain of rings linked together which entangle the heart. —Al Ghazzali

So said the famous Sufi philosopher over one thousand years back.

One may have the best of ideologies, but without the inculcation of good values the ideology will remain hollow and hypocritical. One may seek an equitable economic transfor-mation, but if one does not acquire a commen-surate value system, the changes will remain illusory. One may create beautiful theories of freedom, but if one does not have decent values, it may be anarchy or extreme individualism, but certainly not freedom. One may evolve the most democratic of organisational structures, but if the individuals within it (particularly the leadership) do not have a set of proper values, any organisation, whatever the form, is bound to get distorted and become autocratic. One cannot expect nice sweet fruit from a mango tree by nurturing it on poisonous water. With filthy water we cannot expect to clean the vessel, however much we keep scrubbing it with glossy detergents. Continue reading

Questions of Freedom and People’s Emancipation — Part 3, by Kobad Ghandy

Kobad Ghandy

Kobad Ghandy

[Kobad Ghandy, a member of the Politburo and Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), was captured by Indian Intelligence Bureau on  September 17, 2009.  Initially kept in illegal detention and tortured, he remains a political prisoner in Tihar Jail, where he continues his revolutionary studies and writings, organizes Maoist classes, and joins the struggles of other prisoners against the draconian conditions they face.  The following is the third part of a 5 or 6 part series on freedom--its promise and the problems in its pathway. The first article (covering Part I – The Context)  and the second one (covering Part II – Search for Freedom through History) can be seen at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/questions-of-freedom-and-peoples-emancipation-by-kobad-ghandy/-- Frontlines ed.]

—————————————-

Mainstream, VOL L No 42, October 6, 2012

PART III—Socialism and Existentialism

The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed two major schools of thought—socialism and existentialism. The former reflected the agony of the vast impoverished masses, the latter mirrored the acute alienation within society, strongly reflected in the middle classes. While socialism focused on the society, the existentialists concerned themselves more with the individual. Both these philosophical trends had a powerful impact till the 1980s.

I shall first briefly look at these two trends and then come to the present, post-1980s situation.

Socialist Trend

The agony of the impoverished people was beautifully portrayed in a large number of classics in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There was Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in Britain, a large number of novels by authors like Emile Zola, classics like the book Grapes of Wrath etc. which depicted how cruel capitalism was.

In the post-war period there were a number of African and Latin American writings which pictured the agony of colonial conquest like the book Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galaeno. Continue reading

Protester slaps Nepal’s Maoist leader in the face

November 17, 2012 — The leader of Nepal’s 10-year Maoist insurgency was left shaken on Friday when a former supporter slapped the ex-guerrilla across the face, smashing his glasses. Police dragged away 25-year-old Padam Kunwar during the angry confrontation with Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal – better known as Prachanda, or the Fierce One – at a reception in the capital Kathmandu.

“We have arrested him but he is undergoing treatment at hospital after he was beaten up by Maoist members,” police spokesman Keshav Adhikari said, adding Kunwar would be questioned later. The attacker, said to be an alienated former party member, grabbed the 57-year-old’s hand and slapped him hard on the cheek, breaking the former revolutionary’s spectacles, during a tea-drinking ceremony.

Kunwar was whisked away by police drenched in blood after Prachanda’s supporters mobbed him and rained blows down onto his head and face. Barshaman Pun, finance minister in the Maoist-led caretaker government, described the incident as “very unfortunate” and said it raised doubts over Prachanda’s security. The Maoists waged a revolt against the state from 1996 until a cease-fire in 2006, during which an estimated 16,000 people died.

Prachanda’s followers swept him to power in 2008 elections and he was briefly prime minister before standing down following a row over the dismissal of an army chief. Prachanda is Nepal’s third senior politician to be assaulted recently by members of an increasingly frustrated public who have protested violently against a lack of political progress in the impoverished Himalayan nation.

In January last year, a 55-year-old man slapped the chairman of the opposition Unified Marxist Leninist party at an event for new members. In May, a Kathmandu tea shop owner hit a Maoist lawmaker across the face, saying the country’s political leaders had “betrayed the people”. “We have taken this as an anarchic act. This has given a wrong message. It has cast doubts over the security of our leaders,” Pun told reporters.

——————————————

Prachanda Slapped by Maoists Cadre at Tea Reception Party

By on November 16, 2012 in News

Prachanda SlappedMaoists Chairman Puspha Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda was slapped today by a young Maoists cadre attending the tea reception program organized by Maoists in Kathmandu today. Prachanda was slapped by 25-year-old Padam Kunwar who hails from Baglung. It’s believed that Padam Kunwar served as a Maoists Army until last year.

Prachanda was slapped bit toughly and even his specs were broken of the slap. Padam Kunwar in return was severely hurt by the Maoists cadres before taken into custody by the police. Here’s the video footage of padam Kunwar taken into custody after slapping Prachanda as reported by News24 channel.

UCPN (Maoist) had arranged the tea reception to exchange greetings on occasion of the festive season. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha were also present at the event.

Previously, Jhalanath Khanal was Slapped in Public more than a year ago and Sushil Koirala was attacked nearly a month ago.

Salute the daring Maoists Cadre who slapped Prachanda amidst their chiya-paan program! One seriously needs guts to do that!!

Image via Onlinekhabar and Video from News24

CPN-Maoist cadres capture magnesite quarry in Dolakha

DOLAKHA, ekantipur.com, NOV 11 – Cadres of the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist on Saturday announced that they have captured a magnesite quarry in Dolakha district.

A group of Baidya loyalists reached the Lankuridianda-based Kharidhunga Magnesite Mine area in the evening and announced the seizure of the mine area by hoisting party flags.

The Maoist district committee, in a statement, said that the party resorted to this move as the government is selling the magnesite quarry to private company at throwaway prices. The statement signed by the party’s district secretary, Surya Baral, said that the party took captured the state property to protect it from being misused. Continue reading

Prachanda’s Path toward a Buddhist-APEC “Himalayan Switzerland”

[Several years ago, revolutionary leader Prachanda reversed course, and led the Maoist party to abandon the People's War which had for years advanced the people's struggle for liberation from semi-feudal, semi-colonial bondage. With this, and the adoption of a bourgeois republican road to power, a prosperous future "Himalayan Switzerland" was promised.   Only a month ago, Nepal's now-former revolutionary leader announced a program of "people's war tourism" (see "Nepal: After dismantling the revolutionary struggle, Prachanda turns People's War into Tourist attraction" at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/nepal-after-dismantling-the-revolutionary-struggle-prachanda-turns-peoples-war-into-tourist-attraction/).  And now, in partnership with China and APEC, Buddhist tourism will be another step in this Swiss dream.....Meanwhile, the revolutionary people throughout Nepal are re-organizing the struggle against the still-present, still-oppressive semi-feudal, semi-colonial system. -- Frontlines ed.]

————————————————————————

Nepal’s Prachanda inks Lumbini deal with Chinese NGO: Report

Maoist leader Prachanda signs $3 billion deal to develop Buddha’s birthplace with China’s Asia Pacific Exchange Cooperation Foundation
, November 8, 2012
151844441

Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (R), also known as ‘Prachanda’ pays respects to controversial politician Ramraja Prasad Singh in Kathmandu on September 12, 2012. (Prakash MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the former military commander of rebel Maoist forces in Nepal and now the chairman of the Unified Communist Party, has reportedly inked a deal with the China-backed Asia Pacific Exchange Cooperation Foundation that will bring in $3 billion to develop Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini into a “world-class city attracting tourists and pilgrims from across the world.”

According to the Indian Express, the agreement was signed by Linus Xiao Wunan, executive vice chairman of the APEC Foundation and Prachanda in his capacity as chairman of Nepal’s steering committee. But members of Nepal’s other political parties challenged his right to sign the deal unilaterally. Continue reading

India: New Bollywood depiction of Maoism — outlawed rebels with voice and song

[A rare cultural and commercial depiction -- Bollywood, no less! -- of the growing Naxalite/Maoist rebellion.  See, below, a video clip (in Hindi) of a song perrformance in the film, followed by commentary from bourgeois cultural media critic in India; an article describing Maoist reaction to the film; and an article from an Indian-Canadian publication which draws connections between indigenous conditions and rebellion in India and those in Canada. -- Frontlines ed.]

CHAKRAVYUH: A re-look into Maoist agitation across the country


By Enkayaar, Glamsham Editorial, October 17, 2012

It may be fortuitous that just a fortnight after the death anniversary of the revolutionary Che Guvera has been celebrated around the world by his fans on 09 October, Hindi cinema would be having another look at the resistance against the state and the system through Prakash Jha’s CHAKRAVYUH. Che Guvera is one of the rallying points against the atrocities of the state as perceived by those who are living on the fringe of development.

The location chosen for setting the content of CHAKRAVYUH is the area around Chattisgarh, Orissa and parts of Andhra Pradesh that continue to be the destinations where the Naxalist movement is gaining ground on a daily basis and the writ of the state does not run at all in these areas. Revolt against the state that is gaining ground is on account of the fact that the benefits of development aimed at the common man still do not reach them in spite of 65 years of independent India. Continue reading

Nepal: Maoists to form youth groups at grass roots

KATHMANDU, Oct 12: National Youth People´s Volunteer (NYPV), the youth wing of the CPN-Maoist, has decided to form teams of youths in every village and city across the country and also mobilize such teams in all sectors, such as education and industry, to stop cultural and economic irregularities.

Winding up its first national convention in the capital on Friday, NYPV also decided to mobilize youths in entities like cooperatives and collective farms, and for development activities and the campaign of national sovereignty. “We will fight against all social injustice and expose all corrupt officials,” said Udaya Bahadur Chalaune, newly elected NYPV chairman.

People from the former People´s Liberation Army (PLA) and former Young Communist League (YCL) are involved in the NYPV. Chalanue was a PLA third division vice-commander. Yubaraj Acharya and Sabitra Dura were elected vice-chairpersons of the 95-member NYPV central committee while Nep Bahadur Chaudhari is general secretary and Prakash Khanal and Bishnu Maharjan are secretaries.

http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=43468 Continue reading

Nepal protest of Army war criminal’s promotion–Maoists and human rights activists attacked, injured and arrested

Police charging baton on a man, who was protesting a recent government decision to promote army officer Raju Basnet, in front of the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, on Tuesday.  Basnet has been investigated and accused of systematic enforced disappearances and having personally committed acts of torture at Bhairabnath Battalion headquarters in Kathmandu in 2003.

Nepal: 12 Maoist cadres injured during anti-govt protest

Kathmandu, Tuesday, October 09, 2012: At least 12 cadres from a breakaway faction of Nepal’s ruling Maoists were injured in a clash with police outside Premier Baburam Bhattarai’s residence Tuesday when they were protesting against the government’s decision to promote a Colonel accused of human rights violations.

The protesters belonging to hardline leader Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist party were demonstrating against last week’s Cabinet decision to promote Colonel Raju Basnet, who is accused of involvement in conflict-era torture, to the post of Brigadier General.

Basnet was in charge of Bhairathnath Battalion of Nepal Army, which was allegedly responsible for disappearance and torture of 49 Maoist cadres during the conflict period.

The CPN-Maoist cadres were baton charged by police when they were staging a sit-in in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar. At least 12 of them were injured, local media reported.

Meanwhile, the United Society of Family of Disappeared submitted a memorandum to Bhattarai against Basnet’s promotion. The government has come under attack from almost all quarters over its controversial move to promote Col Basnet. International human rights watchdogs have also voiced their concern over the government’s decision.  PTI

——————————————–

Govt cracks down on protest against Basnet’s promotion

2012-10-07

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

KATHMANDU: The government today cracked down on various civil society members and victims who were staging a sit-in protest against the promotion of Colonel Raju Basnet. At least 13 protesters were arrested in Baluwatar.

A Cabinet meeting had promoted Basnet — who was accused of committing crime against humanity by enforcing the disappearance of 49 Maoist youth from Bhairavnath Battalion during the conflict — to brigadier general last Thursday. Continue reading

Questions of Freedom and People’s Emancipation, Parts 1 and 2, by Kobad Ghandy

[Kobad Ghandy, a member of the Politburo and Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), was captured by Indian Intelligence Bureau on  September 17, 2009.  Initially kept in illegal detention and tortured, he remains a political prisoner in Tihar Jail, where he continues his revolutionary studies and writings, organizes Maoist classes, and joins the struggles of other prisoners against the draconian conditions they face.  The following is the first two parts of a series on freedom--its promise and the problems in its pathway. -- Frontlines ed.]

——————————————-

Mainstream, VOL L, No 35, August 18, 2012

[Kobad Ghandy from Tihar Jail now writes on the concept of freedom vis-à-vis present-day society as also in relation to a future just order, bringing out some causes for the failure of the erstwhile socialist states. It will comprise a series of five to six articles. —Editor]

PART I — THE CONTEXT

Communism is the return of man himself as a social, i.e. really human being, a complete and conscious return which assimilates all the wealth of previous development. Communism, as a fully developed naturalism, is humanism, and, as a fully developed humanism, is naturalism. It is the DEFINITIVE resolution of the antagonism between man and nature, and between man and man. It is the true solution of the conflict between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. It is the solution of the riddle of history and knows itself to be this solution. —Karl Marx

Utopian? Maybe. Yet, it sounds like the ultimate in freedom, something toward which one could move towards, step by step. The rose of freedom in the above-mentioned garden, called by any other name, would, no doubt, smell as sweet. It may seem ironical to dream of freedom locked up in a jail within jail (the high-risk ward), with lathi-wielding cops breathing down one’s neck 24 hours a day, denied access to even the normal jail facilities. But dream one must to maintain one’s sanity under such conditions.

Yet FREEDOM… that much abused word. Freedom—around which hundreds of myths have been woven into beautiful-looking intricate webs waiting to entrap us. US, as the ultimate in freedom: free speech; free trade; free association; free thought; et al. And, if perchance we are unable to find freedom here, there is always the escape to religious illusion—moksha, to be acquired in splendid isolation. In all this are we not losing the essence of freedom?

Coming back to this jailed existence, we find some bright spots within the darkness—like the compound attached to our ward covered by a canopy of trees. I sit in silence watching the squirrels prancing around in gay abandon, and listen to the chirping of birds in the tree. Looking at them, they seem so free. But, are they really? I begin to think what really is the meaning of freedom?

My thoughts drift to the time I developed an interest in communism. It was a time in the late 1960s and early seventies when lakhs, nay millions, of youth came to a similar conclusion in their search for freedom and justice. After all, at that time one-third of the world was socialist, and, in addition, Left national liberation movements raged throughout the backward countries. One can safely say that about half the world was under the sway of communism. But today, just forty years later, when the world is going through one of its worst crisis, when the gap between the rich and the poor has never been so wide, the communist existence is insignificant. Though all the conditions exist for it, yet it is unable to captivate the minds of the youth, workers and students. The socialist countries have collapsed, the national liberation movements have been replaced, in many places, by Islamic resistance, and of the millions who have come onto the streets in the West, one can see only a sprinkling of Communists. There continue to be a few communist resistance movements, but even of these, many have collapsed, while a few continue with enormous difficulties, fighting with their backs to the wall. Sitting here in the quietude of the compound, I begin to contemplate the serious implications of what has happened. Why such a devastating reversal? What happened to our hopes and dreams of a better future? Was it to witness a mafia-type rule in the first ever socialist country, or the billionaire princelings of China, not to mention the tin-pot dictators of earlier East Europe!! Forget the autocratic rulers, why did the masses so easily choose a free market over freedom from want? If there are no clear-cut answers and also solutions, the Communists of today may continue to live ostrich-like in their make-believe worlds; but the people will go their own way. The reasons given by many an academic for the failures—lack of democracy and development of productive forces—are in no way convincing; so these have little impact on the people. If the sensitive amongst the people are unable to find answers in real life, they will once again seek solace in religion and spiritualism. As Marx put it, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of an unspiritual world. It is the opium of the people.” Yes, people are seeking spiritual solace from a crass-materialist consumerist opium, far more potent than earlier religions. Do we not see such a turn not only amongst the deeply alienated middle classes, but even amongst the organised working class? Communism seems no longer an attraction for the youth, as it was for us in the 1960s and 1970s.

Tracing my way back to the cell, through two locked iron gates, I feel that I am returning from the garden of paradise to the real cruel world. My musty cell brings me back to reality—recollections of my past experiences.

Images float before my eyes, some clear, some hazy. Quite naturally the first image to come is of the person with whom I had the longest and deepest relationship—my late wife Anuradha. So lively and chirpy, like the little squirrels, she was straightforward, simple, with few complexes, and her reactions were so spontaneous and child-like (not calculated and cunning). My impression was that probably her inner feelings were very much in tune with her outward reactions; as a result she was closest to what we may call a free person.

The image passes. Then others appear—of associations experienced over forty years of social activities. I could club them into three categories:

First is the Anuradha-type. Many of these (not all) would be from tribal, women and Dalit background, but would include others as well.

The second category would be those from the other extreme. Notwithstanding their dedication, they have been unable to get out of the prevalent value system, deeply embedded in their sub-conscious, and have to resort to pretences, intrigues, subterfuges, etc. to gain acceptability. Often they may even be unconscious of this dichotomy wherein their inner feelings are in deep contradiction with their outward behaviour. They therefore get entangled in a web of comp-lexes, like caged animals in a zoo. Particularly, in India, the entrenched caste hierarchy adds to the existing feelings of class superiority, creating fertile grounds for these complexities. This may not reflect in crude casteism, but gets manifested in the form of intellectual superiority, arrogance/ego, domi-nation/authoritarianism, etc.—one could call it, in its extreme form, the Chanakya syndrome.

And between these two extremes of white and black would lie the third category—the varied shades of grey: some veering towards the white, others towards the black. I would consider the majority would lie here.

My mind then switches back to myself and the present caged existence. I look out at the guards walking up-and-down through two sets of gates. It reminds me how animals in a zoo look at us humans from their cages—only they have one set of gates, and sufficient space to pace up and down. In this caged existence it is difficult to evaluate myself in relation to freedom, in the sense outlined above. But before arrest, where would I have stood? An honest self-assessment is often the most difficult, while one easily jumps to conclusions about others. Yet, a truthful self-assessment is most important, as that and that alone would be the starting point for any positive change—given that we would all be infected, to varying degrees, with the dominant values prevalent in the system. Well, I think I would place myself in the third category. One may say that this is a convenient broad categorisation. Very true! But, the important aspect here is to remember that no one is static (this applies to all categories), we are in continuous flux; the key factor here is the direction of our movement—whether it is towards white or heading towards the morass of black. This I leave to others to assess.

NOW, before coming to the CONTEXT in which FREEDOM should be viewed, a point of clarification needs to be made. The above presentation may appear as a crude pragmatic interpretation of freedom, lacking a scientific content. But, all I have sought to present is the reality. Science seeks to understand the laws behind the reality, which I will try and do in my future articles. Continue reading