With the rise of economic crisis in the West, more and more people are taking a look back at Karl Marx’s writings to find loopholes within the current capitalist system. On the other side, the third world countries like ours have continuously experimented with Marxist ideology to take us out of poverty. However, we continue to fail. Through this article, I try to reason the failure of communists in Nepal to bring about a significant change owing to their misunderstanding of following four major aspects.
a. Issue of Productive Forces
In his book, A Contribution to the Critique of the Political Economy, Marx writes, “No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive force for which it is sufficient have been developed and new superior relation of production never replaces older ones before the material condition for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.” This statement has a pretty direct meaning i.e. a society cannot evolve a newer system of production until the old system has reached its final stages of development.
Marx in his interpretation of transformation of a feudal state to a bourgeois state argues that the capitalist mode of production took over only when the best of feudal innovations failed in fulfilling the then social needs. In Nepal, where capitalist mode of production has not developed even a fraction of what the developed nations currently have in disposal, it will be contrary to Marx’s belief to advocate for an immediate shift to a communist state.
Most of the third world communist movements have ignored this very fact to their own peril. Countries like USSR, Cambodia, North Korea suffered from famines and death of millions. Ironically, with the Maoist insurgency, it was the case of destroying already available infrastructure of development (tagging them as bourgeois development) pushing the country even further down into the path of regression.
b. Ignoring Marx’s “Workers of the World Unite!”
Marx always advocated that it was possible to throw the bourgeois rule only through cooperation among the working class of the world.
Marx, in his book A Critique of the German Ideology, writes “…. and furthermore, because only with this universal development of productive forces is a universal intercourse between men established, which produces in all nations simultaneously the phenomenon of the "propertyless" mass (universal competition), makes each nation dependent on the revolutions of the others, and finally has put world-historical, empirically universal individuals in place of local ones. … The proletariat can thus only exist world-historically, just as communism, its activity, can only have a "world-historical" existence.”
Marxists of third World countries being the most oppressed; revolted first even with little or no help from the working class in developed states. However, the results have always failed to outcast Marx’s predictions as quoted below.
Marx elaborates in the same passage, “Without this, (i) communism could only exist as a local event (eg. Likes of N. Korea and partly Cuba where the economy is isolated from major capitalist nation’s) ; (2) the forces of intercourse themselves could not have developed as universal, hence intolerable powers: they would have remained home-bred conditions surrounded by superstition (countries like Greece, Spain etc, where massive protest against austerity measures take place but fails to yield result to their favor as they don’t coordinate across nationalities) ; and (3) each extension of intercourse would abolish local communism. (eg. In China where its involvement in the global trade meant the ruling communist party had to reform to capitalist mode of production)”
In the above pretext, the Nepalese communist movement which is fragmented on its own backyard is sure to fail to ignite a world movement resulting Nepal being one of the above three possibilities.
c. The real issue regarding religion
“Religion is the opiate of the masses.” say that to my mom and she will never agree to it. The communist leaders of Nepal have chosen to neglect this issue of religion in fear of losing out to populist sentiments.
Engels with regard to religion writes in his book ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific’, “His (i.e. the recently risen bourgeois class) interest was to get as much and as good work out of them( i.e. the working class) as he could; for this end, they had to be trained to proper submission. He was himself religious; his religion had supplied the standard under which he had fought the king and the lords; he was not long in discovering the opportunities this same religion offered him for working upon the minds of his natural inferiors, and making them submissive..”
We can co relate the above saying with how the autocratic regime of the Shahs and its subsequent ancestors survived for so long ; ironically gaining popularity among the oppressed class itself. For decades, the Hindus (majority of Nepalese) and other religious outfits have been fed by the ruling class with the religious stories and myths were King have been the savior and ruler of the nation. The monarchies that ruled Nepal, by making itself the guardian, promoter and representation of the religion itself maintained within the psyche of the Nepalese a deep sense of acceptance towards the king. The kings, though most acting like Indra and Ravan continued to portray their image as that of Ram, which in sense has served as ‘opiate’ to the common people.
The failure of the communist revolutionaries to spread such messages into the mass has left Nepalese society marred by caste based discrimination, allegation of witchcrafts to women of lower class strata etc. These social aberrations are sadly backed by the same tactics of the upper class to make the lower working class ‘submissive’ by using the weapon of religion.
d. Lack of empowerment in the working class and its subsequent effect
Engels referring to English working class writes, “in 1884, the extension of household suffrage to the counties and a fresh redistribution of seats…considerably increased the electoral power of the working-class, so much so that (working) class now furnished the majority of the voters.” Same could be implied to the post 2063 Constituent Assembly election where a call of change especially by those of the lower strata of Nepalese society resulted in elevation of the Maoist. However just like what Engels had feared parliament became a ‘capital school’ to teach tradition i.e to make the working class continue respect the higher classes. Thus, the new working class which got elected into the CA could not play important role during major decision taking moments. Instead the major decisions were taken by the same old leaders of NC and CPN (UML) (most of whom had lost elections) and the rising bourgeois class within the UCPN (Maoist) and the Madhesi forces.
Unless the working class is empowered via strong education and political knowledge, elections of any sort will mean that new working class leaders will in Engels words continue to keep up the ‘ornamental caste of drones’(i.e. the formal feudal/royal power centers and established middle class members) to dictate the day to day affair of the state, which means even another CA election maybe fruitless in securing rights of the working class.