LONDON?On Saturday afternoon, your little brother found himself in a sunny room above an East London chicken shop. As the dim roar of the high street ebbed and flowed outside, a passionate debate on recent political developments in Nepal was in full swing. And there weren't even any Nepalis.
Even as Nepal's Maoist prime minister resigned last week, the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA (RCPUSA) have made public their concerns about the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) reconciliation with the 'old reactionary comprador-feudal imperialist-backed state and further extension of the revisionist degeneration of the Party's line'.
Although their rhetoric sounds anachronistic, the RCPUSA is not an idle bystander to Nepali politics. It has been publishing reports and analysis, pamphlets and books on Nepal's revolution for 10 years and usually takes a radical, uncompromising line.
I thought that my stamina for lengthy politico meetings was fairly high, but after four hours I was exhausted, and the dialectic was still going strong. Many who spoke were eloquent and well-read with substantial points to make. And while not everyone agreed, all were passionately engaged with the issues regarding the future of Nepal.
The RCPUSA feel the Maoists sold out by abandoning the armed struggle. They embraced revisionism and adopted a 'bourgeois federal democratic republic' rather than continuing to advocate a true proletarian state. It may be easy to preach from America about what comrades in revolutionary situations should and shouldn't do in order to preserve ideological purity. But, they may be reasons why the Maoists' path since 2006 appears such a betrayal to American Maoists.
'Earlier this year, a new development in the high Himalaya mountains in Asia gave heart to oppressed people everywhere-a Maoist people's war began taking its first steps in the country of Nepal!' This is the opening sentence of the first report on the 'People's War' in the Revolutionary Worker (August, 1996). It shows the exhilaration the war in Nepal ignited amongst communists tired of occupying an ephemeral political space in their own countries.
In a letter to Maoist comrades in Nepal in January 2009, the RCPUSA say they had hoped Nepal could become 'an advanced outpost of struggle against the world imperialist system'. American Maoists seem disheartened that the most advanced revolution in the world is slipping away, and with it the hope for world revolution.
However, the RCPUSA's criticism of the Nepali Maoists is strongly countered by other members of the Revolutionary International Movement who say that Prachanda has proved himself to be a master strategist. The Americans also seem to give more importance to Nepal's role in an international struggle than the objective reality in Nepal, public opinion there and the choices taken by the Maoist leadership.
If the former Soviet Union and China didn't manage in the best part of a century to fan the flames of global proletarian revolution, it's a bit of a tall order to expect Nepal to manage it now. Most of the soldiers who fought in the People's War did not fight to begin the Weltrevolution, but for a better life and future in the social and political context they knew.
Jana Andolan in 2006 was the decisive moment in ending the brutal stalement between the then government and the Maoists. The majority of those who took part did not intend to create a dictatorship of the proletariat, but to end the autocratic rule of the king.
And the reason the Maoists agreed to join the peace process was because they realised there was no military solution to the conflict. They knew that the public, tired and demoralised after 10 years of war, would not forgive them if they did not take the chance to catalyse real and significant change through the participatory process which was on offer, and instead returned to violence.
When I returned to Nepal in December 2007 after an absence of more than three years, there was a broad consensus to break decisively with the past, a raucous ferment of political debate, and an exhilarating belief that things really could get better. It was an atmosphere which I had never known before in Nepal or in any other country.
I hope the great strides Nepal made in the last three years will not be reversed now, and the fragile optimism which followed the end of the war will not be squandered.