Nepali Times

In your editorial ' Right here right now' ( # 236) you repeat the oft-repeated refrain on the need for the Maoists to 'join the mainstream'. One wonders if those who repeat this slogan have ever asked themselves what it really means. Do they mean a totalitarian violent ideology can co-exist and work with a democratic and pluralistic set up? Even a child can see the contradiction in that. So what it seems to mean is that the rebels should abandon violence and their main aim to establish a communist totalitarian state in Nepal. In short, they should abandon their basic revolutionary ideology, yet we know that the Maoist leadership will never do that. In the same issue the weekly Nepali Times/ internet poll asks if the blockade hurts the 'Maoists cause'. Which cause? The establishment of a communist republic? We have to realise that if the CPN(M ) had chosen a democratic and peaceful path many of the 40-something points of their manifesto could have been achieved through reforms. If we find ourselves in the present sorry state it is because we as a civil society have not been able to refuse and resolutely oppose violence as a means to achieve political objectives. Some intellectuals, journalists, and even some 'democracy' and 'human rights' activists have seen in the Maoists movement an instrument to redress the wrongs of Nepali society, be it corruption or inequality. This attitude on one side contradicts the very same principles and values of democracy that is endowed by an inherent power to heal itself and does not need a violent external force to solve its problems, and on the other shows the sorry state of our 'democratic' culture and our perception of the Rule of Law. Through these years we have witnessed destruction and death on a daily basis yet the very same mainstream newspapers that published the news and photos of wiped out police posts in western Nepal also published articles hailing the Maoists as heros and publicized writings of their ideologues calling for class and ethnic hatred. Unfortunately, ten years of mayhem have done nothing to change this attitude and there are still some who are ready to give the Maoists a blank cheque. In the same issue you have translated a column by Samaya editor Yubaraj Ghimire, (From the Nepali Press, #236) that again reiterates this contradiction: exhorting the Maoists to give up violence on the one hand while asking them to 'stand firm in their statement' on the other. Such pathetic journalism and ambiguity gives reason to the Maoists to go on fighting as they see it as a form of support.

Unless and until a full and uncompromising refusal of violence in politics prevails our country will know no peace.

SK Aryal,
Northampton, UK

. After reading Under My Hat ('Learning to live with sensors', #236) I wanted to write to Mr Scissorhands to applaud his dedication to the thankless job that he is performing for king and country. Censors have been given a bad name in some quarters by the ham-handedness of a few, but a really good censor can serve as a goad to creativity and even a sort of covert editor who encourages concision and eloquence-witness the output of Antonio Gramsci from Mussolini's prisons. Since you have been on the job, I must say I have noticed a marked uptick in the allusiveness and suppleness of the prose of the publication in your care. You have the rare opportunity of working in the office of a very fine writer and editor and on the premises of the preeminent English-language weekly in Nepal. What a chance to improve your skills. But will it really light the afterburners of your career? Even internationally, since the fall of the Soviet bloc and the Latin American military juntas, the job market for your specialty is restricted mainly to Burma and North Korea. Only wimps who know that they can't win political debates silence their opposition. The clash of opinions is the internal-combustion engine of democracy. That's why freedom of speech is precious. And, dear censor, it's in your hands.

Peter Constantini,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)