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Nepali Samargaatha
Maowadi Janyuddha ka Aankhon Dekha Vivaran

The Hindi Edition of Dispatches from the People’s War in Nepal
(Published by Pluto Press, London)
Translated by Anand Swaroop Verma and published by Samkaleen Teesari Duniya

Introduction to Hindi Edition of Dispatches from the People’s War in Nepal

When I sat down to write a new introduction for Dispatches, I thought about my first and last day in Rolpa. When I first walked over the border of Salyan into Rolpa, I looked over to my guide, who was from another part of the country, and saw that he was beaming with excitement. I said to him, “I have been reading about Rolpa for three years and now I am here!” He responded, “Me too! I am thinking the same thing. We are always looking to what’s happening in Rolpa. And now my heart is filled with joy to be coming here.”

About a month later, the day I left Rolpa, there was a “farewell ceremony” with many of the people I had traveled with and interviewed. I said some parting words and remember telling people, “I live in the United States. But I belong to the international proletariat and I have been inspired by your struggle.” One of the leaders of the CPNM gave a speech, calling my trip a “historical first in the party’s history” – because I was the first foreign journalist to really witness the People’s War firsthand. Then he said, “The first part of your trip is coming to an end. But ahead of you is the second part of your journey – to take all that you have seen, heard and learned and make it known to the world.”

I still think a lot about those two days.

Since my trip I have been working to get people, around the world, to “look to what’s happening in Rolpa” – talking about what I learned on my trip and how the People’s War has continued to develop.

My initial series of articles about my trip and the extensive interview I did with Prachanda were originally published in the Revolutionary Worker newspaper (now Revolution newspaper). The whole series was translated into Spanish and published in book form in Mexico. In Germany, it was translated into German and published as a book. The Prachanda interview and all or parts of the series have been translated and distributed in Nepal and many other countries including France, China, Italy, India, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. The photographs from my trip have also reached far and wide. In the Fall of 2003, I did a tour of Europe, speaking and showing slides of my photographs in Germany, Belgium, France, the UK, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. After my book, Dispatches from the People’s War in Nepal came out at the beginning of 2005 (published in English by Pluto Press and Insight Press), I did speaking engagements in many cities around the United States – promoting my book, as well as talking about the developing situation in Nepal. Wherever I have gone, people have been inspired and given hope by the People’s War in Nepal. And people see the links between what is happening in Nepal and the struggle for liberation throughout the world.

A Nepali edition Dispatches has come out – so this book, which started in Nepal, has traveled to many corners of the world, and has then returned to Nepal. Now I am extremely excited to have the Hindi edition of Dispatches published in India.

Since my trip in 1999, the People’s War has grown tremendously. Most of the guerrilla squads I met had only kukhuris, homemade grenades and old rifles and were confiscating land from local “liars and cheaters” and carrying out small-scale raids on police posts. Today the People’s Liberation Army fights with primitive weapons as well as more modern automatic weapons captured from the other side. They are able to mobilize thousands of people for a single battle against the Royal Nepalese Army. And it is clear that in the Maoist base areas, many revolutionary transformations are taking place.

There has been a fierce struggle to get the truth out about the People’s War -- in Nepal itself, and in the world. Under the Gyanendra Regime there was a campaign of misinformation, disinformation and censorship. And in the United States, the mainstream media has portrayed the Maoists in Nepal as “terrorists” who do not have the support of the masses.

When the US government and the bourgeois media discuss the revolution in Nepal, they constantly harp on the theme that the masses of people in Nepal are “caught in the middle” – “terrorized” by both the RNA and the Maoists. They distort and lie about what the Maoists actually stand for, what their program for change is, and what is being done in the areas under their control. Their real argument is that the reactionary Nepalese government must be supported, even if it is killing and jailing thousands of people, because the Maoists cannot be allowed to win. This argument is used to justify US support for the ruling class in Nepal and further US intervention.

The Maoists have been leading the masses of people to fight against the corrupt regime and the RNA and begin transforming the economic, political, and social relations in society. This is a life and death struggle that will determine the very future of Nepal and such a complex process is bound to be full of difficult contradictions and twists and turns. But what comes out sharply here is that millions of people are taking history into their own hands and fighting to bring into being a new way of running society, where there is longer class exploitation – where there is no longer caste discrimination, women’s oppression and the subordination of Nepal to foreign powers.

I have met many people who did not know anything about the People’s War in Nepal and were surprised that such a Maoist revolution has been so successful. In the United States, the government tells people that “communism is dead” – that socialism was “tried and failed” and therefore capitalism is the “best of all possible worlds.” But anyone can look around at the state of the planet and see how the system of imperialism causes tremendous misery and suffering for the masses of people. And the socialist revolutions in the Soviet Union and China represented the first and historic efforts to build societies free of exploitation and oppression. Socialism was defeated and reversed by more powerful bourgeois forces in these societies and in the world. But the lessons from these revolutions, summing up their overwhelmingly positive achievements, as well as their shortcomings, are crucial to the advance of proletarian revolution.

In this light, the People’s War in Nepal is a real inspiration for all those who dream of a better world. And it is a living example of the relevance of Mao’s theory of New Democratic Revolution for Third World countries.

Especially with Gyanendra’s February 1, 2005 coup, the monarchy became extremely isolated. And the parliamentary parties have also lost legitimacy in the eyes of many people as they have proven to be corrupt and totally incapable of solving the country’s economic and political problems. Intense disunity among Nepal’s rulers and their unpopularity has created a more polarized situation and more favorable conditions for the Maoists – including a situation in which many different forces, from different perspectives, have joined the fight against the monarchy.

In the 1990 Janodalon, various political parties set aside ideological differences in a democratic movement aimed at replacing the panchayat system with a “multi-party democracy.” But the government that was put in its place remained a fundamentally oppressive state. The monarchy retained a lot of power, most importantly control of the army. The government still represented feudal and comprador classes, which depend on and serve foreign capitalist domination. And the semi-feudal and capitalist economic system remained intact.

One of the targets of the Maoist revolution is the monarchy. But the Maoist New Democratic Revolution aims to overthrow any regime that represents feudalism and those big capitalist forces aligned with and serving foreign and imperialist domination.

A basic premise of the New Democratic Revolution is that in order to achieve liberation, the revolutionary forces must overthrow the bureaucrat-capitalist class and state system, which are dependent on and serve imperialism; they must uproot semi-feudalism in the countryside; and they must kick out foreign capitalism. With such goals, new democratic tasks are carried out in the base areas. The redistribution of land is a central part of getting rid of inequalities in the countryside. Developing collective forms of owning and working the land is an essential part of breaking free of foreign domination. And criticizing and doing away with feudal traditions, culture and thinking are crucial to the building of a new revolutionary way of running society. These essential components of the Maoist revolution are in the interest of the majority of the people in Nepal. But they run counter to the interests of other class forces and parties who want to get rid of the monarchy so that they can better play their role of a comprador bourgeoisie, but don’t want to get rid of the essential and prevailing economic and social relations.

In the New Democratic Revolution, there is a basis for the communists to lead a broad united front with anti-feudal, democratic forces – that addresses and fights for real democratic rights. This includes bourgeois forces who oppose feudalism and imperialist domination. But this is not a bourgeois revolution aimed at establishing capitalist rule.

In this light, the critique of democracy by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, is extremely relevant. He says, “In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about ‘democracy’ – without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves – is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no ‘democracy for all’; one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.”

This question – of which class will rule -- poses itself very sharply in Nepal right now. There are really only two futures that present themselves. One is a continuation, in one form or another, of the current society, dominated by backward class forces aligned with the whole international imperialist system and enforcing extremely oppressive and exploitative economic, political and social and relations. The other future is a path led by the proletariat, of breaking out of this whole order, establishing a socialist society, building new economic, political and social relations, and continuing the revolution to do away with all exploitation and oppression.

With the seizure of power, the new socialist government faces transitional tasks to carry through with the aims of the new democratic phase and move to the socialist transformation of society. For example after Mao seized power in China in 1949, there was further land reform as well as the nationalization of certain large industries and key financial levers. But such tasks are transitional and within the context of the socialist revolution and the building of new socialist society. After seizing power in China, Mao polemicized against those who wanted to “consolidate the new democratic revolution” – which would have led to the building of a capitalist, not a socialist society.

All this illustrates how the New Democratic Revolution, from the very beginning, is carried out with a clear strategic perspective of socialism and a communist world. This means that while the communist forces can establish a united front with other political forces, they cannot allow other class forces to lead the struggle or divert it from its communist goals.

A Maoist victory in Nepal would mean an end to foreign domination and India has made it clear it will not allow the Maoists to win. India continues to provide military hardware and helicopters to the Nepalese regime and has actively hunted down and arrested leaders of the CPN (Maoist) in India. There is a real threat of the Indian army invading Nepal and if this were to happen, India would most likely not be acting alone, but would have the backing of the United States.

In a speech to the Nepal Council of World Affairs meeting in 2005, US ambassador to Nepal James Moriarty, said, “I get asked all the time why the United States is so keenly interested in Nepal? Our concern over regional stability is of course one factor. With a violent, ideological Maoist insurgency desiring to take over the state and then to export its revolution to peaceful neighbors, there is much to worry about."

The US has worked on multiple tracks, reflecting different (or a combination of) preferred scenarios – all of which end up with the defeat of the Maoist revolution: 1) The RNA, with US support is able to militarily defeat the Maoists; 2) The King and parliamentary forces put aside their differences and unite to defeat the Maoists; 3) The King is forced to step down and the parliamentary parties put aside their differences to defeat the Maoists; 4) With the help of India and covert CIA-type operations, the top leadership of the CPNM is killed and/or arrested, leading to the defeat of the Maoists; 5) the Maoists give up their goal of seizing power, lay down their arms and participate in some form of bourgeois democracy.

Active intervention by the U.S. has reflected these scenarios: The U.S. has given the Royal Nepalese Army military training, advisers, at least $22 million in military aid and thousands of M-16 rifles. U.S. officials have worked to get the parliamentary parties and the monarchy to put aside their differences, to work together to defeat the Maoists. The U.S. government and the mainstream U.S. media have been issuing a steady stream of political and ideological attacks against the Maoists in Nepal, including widespread disinformation, outright lies and the most virulent, dishonest and extreme anti-communist hysteria.

All this is part of justifying US political and military support to the reactionary regime. And such disinformation is aimed at creating public opinion for even more and perhaps even more direct US intervention aimed at crushing the Maoists in Nepal. In the face of all this, it is extremely important to counter the disinformation and lies being put out about the People’s War. And there is an urgent need to expose and oppose US intervention in Nepal. We here in the United States have a crucial role to play in this.

Some people have asked me how my book is still relevant – almost six years after these dispatches were originally written.

First of all, it is extremely important to understand the roots of this revolution – why such a revolution was necessary and why and how it captured the support and imagination of the masses of poor peasants in the countryside.

Dispatches takes place at a crucial juncture in the development of the People’s War. It had only been three years since the initiation of armed struggle and many of the interviews focus on how the guerrillas began by carrying out small and determined actions – with the strategy and perspective of growing, step by step, both militarily and politically. Interviews with Maoist military commanders and political leaders describe the preparations for and then the initiation of armed struggle on February 13, 1996. And then, there is much discussion about how, through the first three years of fighting, they reached the point of beginning to establish base areas. The outcome of all this was not known – and certainly there were no guarantees of success. In fact, with puffed-up optimism, the government initially declared the Maoists would be wiped out fairly quickly. A crucial page in the history of Nepal was being written.

Dispatches is a window into the misery and suffering, as well as the hopes and dreams, that have fueled the People’s War in Nepal: the voices of the women, oppressed nationalities, lower castes, poor farmers, the families of the martyrs. For me, it is tremendously exciting that Dispatches can now be read by the people in Nepal who inspired this book and are continuing the life and death drama captured in this story. And I heartily welcome the publication of this Hindi edition and sincerely hope that Dispatches will reach many readers in India – where hundreds of millions of people also yearn for liberation.

Li Onesto
February 2006

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