Nepali Times
"Every revolution demands its quota of sacrifice"


Nepali Times: In our last interview with you nearly five years ago (NT, #51) we asked if the loss of 2,000 Nepali lives in five years of war was worth it and you had answered it was. Now, it's been ten years and the death toll is reaching 15,000. How many more need to die?
Baburam Bhattarai:
Yes, when we talked last in July 2001 King Gyanendra had just seized the throne after the infamous royal massacre and the royal army was not yet unleashed against the revolutionary movement led by the CPN (Maoist). Hence the death toll was comparatively low till then. The death toll mounted in leaps and bound when the royal army entered the scene in November 2001 and it has reached the current proportions. This clearly proves that the royal army is principally responsible for the high rate of loss of life of the people in fake encounters, tortures and disappearances.

As to your query about the worth of the sacrifice on the part of the people, we would again reply in the affirmative. Of course, if the world moved not by its own objective laws but by our pious wishes, we would prefer liberation of the oppressed masses at lesser cost. But a revolution of this epochal nature goes by its own laws and every revolution in history demands its quota of sacrifice if it has to succeed. The successful revolutions like the French or the Russian or the Chinese have claimed sacrifices in millions and not in hundreds or thousands. Hence we would advise that enlightened persons would look at the question in a more objective manner and not get swayed by sentimentalism or idealism. The amount of sacrifice needed in future would depend upon how soon or readily the feudal autocratic monarchy backed by the royal army would hand over total sovereign power to the people. And we would suggest all democratic fighters to keep this exhortation of Marx in mind: 'Let life be dead but death must not be allowed to live.'

The 12-point agreement you signed with the seven-party alliance in Delhi has been taken as an indication that your revolution is moving from a military to a political phase. Is this a correct interpretation?
Both yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the 12-point understanding is an attempt to find a political solution to the ongoing civil war in the country and the CPN (Maoist) has a total commitment towards it. No, in the sense that the Maoist People's War is an integrated politico-military concept and any attempt to separate the political and military components from each other, as some people tend to do, would be unrealistic, unsuccessful and harmful. Anybody who has intelligently followed our revolutionary war for the last ten years would realise that we have strictly adhered to the Clausewitzian dictum, viz: 'War is politics by other (ie, violent) means'. In other words, there is dialectical relation between war and politics and at specific historical junctures one transforms into another but they never get severed from each other. Anybody who does not understand this very basics of politics and war, would never grasp the essence of the Maoist People's War and keep on groping in the dark.

But wouldn't a return to a mainstream political role allow you to wield more political power than you ever could with continued armed struggle as some other revolutionary movements have?
First of all. Let it be absolutely clear that we are not fighting to gain power for ourselves but for democratic and progressive restructuring of society in all political, economic, national, cultural and gender dimensions. Secondly, there is no political 'mainstream' at the movement in the country. The old semi-feudal and semi-colonial 'mainstream' headed by the autocratic monarchy and bolstered by certain foreign powers is in tatters. The parliamentary 'mainstream' was never deep-rooted and stable and hence easily toppled by the monarchy and the revolutionary democratic mainstream is just in the process of formation. In such a situation, there is no question of anybody 'returning' to some imaginary mainstream that does not exist. Hence our proposal is to create a 'new' political mainstream in the country where all the democratic and patriotic forces can participate for peace, democracy and prosperity. This is the essence of the 12-point understanding, where there is a clear mention of a 'new peaceful political stream' (point 4).

Your party has killed and tortured many members of the very political parties with whom you now have a pact. Aren't there reasons to doubt the sincerity of your alliance with the parties?
As Engels had very aptly said, 'Nothing is eternal but eternally changing'. So there is no point in harking back who killed more. Everybody knows that many more of our revolutionary cadres and supporters were killed by the government of the parliamentary parties when they were in power. Hence, the main basis of the current unity is the historical necessity of the country and the political strategy and tactics of the parliamentary and revolutionary democratic forces against the autocratic monarchy. As they say, there is no free lunch and this is particularly true in politics. Both sides have to make certain give and take. As regards the question of sincerity, one has to understand the term in a relative sense as everything else in a class-divided society and judge it in practice. We would, however, caution all the democratic and patriotic forces not to get misled by the vicious propaganda of the royalist and certain imperialist forces who are out to sow distrust among the democratic forces and wreck the historic 12-point understanding.

Maoism is regarded as an obsolete ideology in most parts of the world including in the land of Mao's birth. What makes you think it has relevance in Nepal?
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (M-L-M) is a class ideology of the proletariat and the wretched of the earth. It is thus natural that the ruling exploiting classes would wish it did not exist or got perished. But what is the current state of the ideology of the ruling classes? The religious fundamentalism and neo-liberal market fundamentalism, the ruling ideology of the feudal and imperialist classes, is in greater crisis. The so-called 'end of history' and 'clash of civilisation' hypotheses have already wrecked havoc upon the world over the past decade. The raging battlefields of Iraq and the left-ward wind sweeping across Latin America in recent years are a case in point. It is quite ironical that those who are themselves increasingly taking recourse to Christian or Muslim or Hindu fundamentalism are pointing an accusing finger towards the most scientific, secular and progressive ideology of dialectical & historical materialism, which is the cornerstone of M-L-M, as 'obsolete'. Yes, every science and objective truth takes time to get accepted and established at the outset. It happened with the Newtonian or Einsteinian natural science and it is happening with the M-L-M social science. But the ever deepening and widening crisis and chaos of the world imperialist system is now forcing more people than ever to listen to Rosa Luxemberg's famous dictum: 'Either socialism or barbarism'. This is at the core of the increasing Maoist popularity in Nepal.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown that many Nepalis may agree with your aims, but most don't agree with your methods. Is the idea of revolution therefore to eliminate all those who don't agree with you?
This is another instance of 'honest' confusion or deliberate misleading about the essence of a genuine revolution. To drive a wedge between the 'end' (or goal) and 'means' (or method) of the revolution or raise a Chinese wall between them, has been the familiar trick of the reactionary ruling circles since ages. We don't subscribe to both Gandhian pacifism and anarchist militarism that put means above the end. We see dialectical interrelations between end and means, and realise that two aspects cannot be divorced at will. We believe in Mao's time-honored saying: '.in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun'. To say that the idea of revolution is to eliminate all those who don't agree with you is a big affront or joke upon the common sense of any thinking being and hence does not deserve any rebuttal from us.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)