Apr 162008

The Maoist movement has shown that sometimes a movement believing in a violent revolution is the only way to usher in a contemporary democracy

Mao Zedong must be smiling over what happened in the Nepalese elections the other day. Even Mao’s countrymen may be wondering how some people can follow their prophet’s outdated revolutionary prescriptions and change the course of their fate.

I visited Shanghai a few years back and asked everyone I met about the way they perceived Mao Zedong philosophy in modern China. Almost everyone I talked to expressed great reverence for the great revolutionary as a prophet of their national emancipation.

At the same time, they gave me the impression that Mao was no more relevant for modern China. I found Mao’s books and other revolutionary insignias in souvenir shops catering to foreign visitors in a remote town called Water City, a town designated for the preservation of Chinese traditional arts and crafts.

Our stay in Shanghai used to be at the state guest house before capitalism penetrated China. Besides pictures of Richard Nixon and other dignitaries hanging on many walls, one special room of the hotel had a chair and table that Mao Zedong had used many times when he came there for negotiations with foreign leaders. I pleaded the hotel staff to let me visit the room but they sidestepped my request in curious ways. Finally, a staff lady told me bluntly, “There was nothing special about Mr Mao Zedong so why should we bother to take our visitors there.”

I am sure the young lady must be surprised or rather outraged to see the Nepalese people electing a party that has been following the not-so-special Mao Zedong philosophy. She is certainly not alone; many capitals from New Delhi to Washington are shocked over the outcome of the election in the Himalayan state of Nepal.

It goes without saying that nowadays, whenever free and fair elections are held in developing countries, world powers are often shocked with the unexpected and undesirable results.

The Maoists’ victory in the Himalayan state has sent a shock wave throughout the world. Indian media is shyly acknowledging the victory of this ideological movement because of layers of worrisome issues. The Maoists are fighting many Indian states. As a matter of fact the Indian Maoists are in control of rural areas in many Indian states. Therefore, India’s weariness is quite understandable because the Maoist victory in Nepal may encourage their fellow insurgents in India as well.

The Indian Maoists developed a rift with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda. They believe that Prachanda’s move to join mainstream politics was a great betrayal. Nonetheless, the Indian government is fearful that factions of Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) still may help their Indian counterparts.

India is also worried that the Maoist government may want to scrap or review the agreements between the two countries. Some of these agreements were mere recognition of Nepal’s subjugation and gave the Indian government legal basis for intervening in the country. Therefore, many Indian political pundits have advised their government to prepare itself for approaching Katmandu from a different angle. However, this would not be easy for Delhi.

Another worrisome issue for India and the US is the Maoist government’s possible leaning towards China. There are no indications of such a penchant yet but it is most likely that the Maoist government is going to approach its neighbours from a new nationalistic vintage viewpoint. This will not sit well with Washington either.

Washington has a long way to go in establishing a working relationship with the new Nepalese government. Washington has maintained that Maoists are terrorists.

Now, President Jimmy Carter has advised the Bush Administration to recognise the new Nepal government. By default, he has asked the Bush Administration to remove the Maoists from its list of terrorists and start taking them as serious international players. It has to be seen how the Bush Administration, hesitant to change its ideological stances, is going to adjust with the new Nepalese reality.

However the world adjusts to the new Nepal, the Maoist movement has shown that sometimes a movement believing in a violent revolution is the only way to usher in a contemporary democracy. The centuries old Nepalese monarchy could not be removed by the so-called mainstream political parties. It was the Maoist pressure that created the space for democracy in Nepal.

As a matter of fact Mao’s own revolution paved the way for the kind of economic progress China is experiencing now. If Mao had not demolished vestiges of feudalism from China, the country may have been still mired in political conspiracies of the old aristocracy. Of course, extremes were committed during the Cultural Revolution in China but on the whole the Maoist cleansing of the old system opened China for new horizons.

The ruling elites in many developing countries, including Pakistan, should learn something from the Nepali experience: If they do not change the system to accommodate its downtrodden, someone will do it for them, some day.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Courtesy: Daily Times, 16/4/2008

 Posted by at 12:37 pm

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