When I woke up last Saturday morning, I was not aware of that day being birthday of Karl Marx. Luckily, one of my friends in twitter tweeted to greet Karl Marx his 194th birthday. I grew nostalgic and posted some thought into Facebook to mark the occasion.
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I adored utopia of equality since beginning of my teenage. I had to call myself a something, so that people could understand what I felt like politically and socially. So, when people asked me of my ideology, I began calling myself a person who adored Marx. I was in deep love with this man’s thinking. His political rhetoric would attract my thoughts especially while seeing poor laborers carrying loads heavier than them, but paid miserly to. I have had hard time persuading peoples why Marx should be regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of all time. The ruthless autocracy in North Korea, the repression of Tibetans by the Chinese Communist Party, millions of deaths in Stalin’s Russia were enough to deter my friends from wanting to know more of Marx. I could not agree more to the intellectuals who rightfully point out flaw in the way communist have ruled states in name of Communist Manifesto co-authored by Marx.
However, Marx’s thinking has planted an irreplaceable dream in human kind; the dream to create a just world. Though the dream was a utopian one, it is the first of a kind to connect people in a revolution aiming for justness in such a large scale, over vast lands. It is true that a social theory possess loopholes. Most of our ancient astronomers were wrong to believe in sun revolving around Earth; however this observation laid foundation to modern day astronomy. So, it is no big deal if Marxism came with flaws in it. However, he has made us dream if a society better than what current day democracy has achieved. The same dream could be obtained by completely different means but the credit of making humans think of its possibility goes to Marx. In an upbringing where we are ready to praise Devkota for dreaming to reach the moon even before the human did, it is inappropriate that we don’t pay respect to a man who thought if every one of us would be free of hunger, prejudice and injustice. Neglecting Marx and his theories as utopian would be betrayal to humanity.
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Many people criticize and sense authoritarian manners in Marx’s idea of legitimizing violence to overthrow bourgeois rule to establish autocracy of proletariat. Let us deal with the first part. In a totally different context, CK Lal points out in his column Reflection (Republica Daily): “The Road to Martyrdom”, “Lord Krishna justifies wars, even by means of deception if necessary for end of tyrannies and restoration of righteousness.” It is similar to what Marx said. It is debatable if Nepal would have been a Republic this soon without a ‘People’s War’, but the Tsar would not have been removed from Russia; ruthless Batista would not have been ousted from Cuba have the discontent of the working class be united by communist ideas. As far as autocracy of proletariat is concerned, communist parties can achieve it through democratic ways. Successful example of it is the three decade long rule of communist party in West Bengal of India, which recently ended in a bitter loss. The communist parties can establish the rule of the proletariats for a long time, taking consent of regular terms from the people. This fact is more underlined by Leon Trotsky when he famously said, “Democracy is oxygen to socialism”.
Attempts to revitalize communism from its ugly track of autocracy via bureaucracy of a single political party, as in Stalin’s Russia, were even made in Nepal. The credit goes to a foresighted Marxist-Leninist Madan Bhandari. As per the demand of time, in his doctrine “People’s Multiparty Democracy” , Bhandari has tried to push his communist party out of extreme leftist mode into a democratic socialist force. In fact, many socialist parties in Europe are based on consolidation of their communist ideals. The popularity of such parties in Nordic states and recent polling trends in France, Portugal, and Greece support the popularity of socialists in Europe. However, many rigid communists, so called ‘hardliners’ view this as a betrayal to revolution and tag it as ‘revisionism’. This dogmatic approach deprives pragmatic communist to innovate and adapt after the overthrowing of a bourgeois autocratic leader. This approach has failed to yield communism as a self evolving dynamic culture, rather it appears to be an imposed ditto of some other unsuccessful regime of the past.
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The hardliners are wrong in their insistence to push Unified Maoists, the biggest political force of Nepal into a fully fledged communist revolution. Marx himself was aware that a successful communist state could not be built upon an isolated agricultural economy. Alex Callicinos explains in his book ‘The revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx’ the reasons for failure of USSR, “As Marx had predicted, the confinement of the revolution to a single country meant that the whole filthy business of exploitation and class struggle was restored.” Nepal would suffer the same fate, a communist dictator would take over and Stalinism would eventually dominate Marxism. The writer further insists that ‘forced industrialization’ was flung into by the Stalin regime during and after 1928-29. This goes against the very basics of Marxism. In fact, the communist manifesto clearly states the beginning of united revolt of the proletariat to take place in the economies where Capitalism has reached its pinnacle. However, to the contrary communist revolution happened first in Russia and is popular in poor country like ours. Marxist had hoped the Russian Socialist Revolution to be a “a signal to western proletariat revolution. A self sustainable communist world is to happen only when whole of the world resources are capitalized, a small economy like Nepal would go by the North Korean way if we happen to embrace what the hardliners are pushing for.
If we look at matters seriously, Nepal is the last hope for modern communists. Unlike China, Cuba or North Korea communist ideas are popular among the Nepalese without any forced propaganda or repression by the state. We are probably the only country left, which could get an elected communist executive in the near future. Hence, we don’t have the luxury to experiment the same as orthodox communist regime did to fail just few decades ago. The way forward for communists in Nepal is a tough and demanding one. As written in the communist manifesto by Marx and Engels, “This organization of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier.” Hopefully, scattered communists of Nepal would unite and run as a single force in upcoming elections. Further in the communist manifesto it is clearly stated that, “The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.” Unfortunately, we have clear factions within the big two communist parties itself.
The recurring crisis in capitalist system like the recent recession in US and Europe would make Marx resurface despite rigorous attempt to nullify his criticism of the current system. But, it would be great if Nepal could prove a point or two by successfully pointing to the West, a democratic socialist state could sustain efficiently. It would stand as a towering example; just like our peace process and removal of monarchy did to bewilder the Western elites. Who knows, the pursuit of equality would rejoice the world once again from the deeds of our communists?