Violent hubris can be lethal: Nepal's Maoists prepare to assault, by DR THOMAS A MARKS

Violent hubris can be lethal: Nepal's Maoists prepare to assault


(Republica, Oct. 29, 2009) - Again, the Maoists have announced their plans to bring Nepal to its knees. They don't like the government. They don't like parliamentary democracy or the market economy. They don't like the army. They don't like the flag. They don't like their neighbors, except possibly China, which they naively think is going to support them in a face-off with New Delhi.

So, what are they going to do? Attack. This will come as no surprise.

The trials of normal life for the people are all to the Maoists' liking since what they want is incapacitating chaos. This, they feel, will allow them to pick up the pieces and put them together as a new world.

Nepali Maoism is a particular brand of violent hubris which claims – in a country which has no resources save its people – that the failed dictatorial policies and redistributive policies of the Soviet era will somehow redeem the situation. A "triumph of the will" is all that is needed – the irony being, of course, that this is the very name of the great propaganda film glorifying Hitler and fascism.

Yet, the Maoists seem determined to recreate the mistakes and tragedies of the past.


What do they really want? Power. They have said so all along, they will continue to disrupt life until they have it. And then their misguided policies will disrupt life in ways only a horror show could imagine – or a film on the mob, the mafia.

International Crisis Group (ICG) recently claimed that it is absolutely wrong to state that the Maoists do not want to be a part of Nepali democracy. ICG claims that the Maoists have committed themselves to peaceful politics.

This is nonsense. The Maoists have simply moved their struggle from "the jungle" to "the streets." They claim the right to engage in "civil resistance," by which they mean the use of intimidation and violence short of "long arms" (pistols are acceptable) to get their way. In the parliament they disrupt; in the streets they attack.

They will continue to do this until the system surrenders. The heart of the problem is that the Maoists were convinced the system already had surrendered. Since it has proved uncooperative, the conquest must be carried through to conclusion.

Maoists are so opposed to parliamentary democracy, because they see it as a check upon structural reshaping: A "guided" economy; redistribution of land; a compliant press that is "responsible"; a Red Guards type national service militia which will both engage in "national development" projects and train to resist "Indian invasion." There are even more odious plans that have been discussed but these are illustrative.

Their claim to support "civilian supremacy" is but a fig-leaf to cover the fact that they badly miscalculated in their ill-timed effort to bring Nepal Army (NA) to heel and thus were unceremoniously ousted. Yet, all systems have just such a figure as the president to serve as a referee of sorts. What the Maoists object to is that they were on the losing side of the decision.

Their frustration was made still greater by their lackluster record while governing, a reality they blamed on others but which stemmed directly from their immature political approach. Always aiming for the moon, they neglected to anchor their feet on the ground.


For the Maoists, as with so many Nepalis, reality is a zero-sum game. They rigged the Constituent Assembly (CA) election, fair and square, goes their thinking, beating "the system" at its own game, so how dare the old-order continue its resistance?!

Only the likes of Jimmy Carter and his clueless associates – I will include United Nations Mission (UNMIN) in
Nepal and certain European Union (EU) missions in this blanket term – could have missed what went on during the CA election. Long before the actual vote, copious evidence highlighted the degree to which the Maoists used violence to ensure that rival political party activists did not gain access to the population.

In this, to be sure, they were assisted by the lackluster, dysfunctional nature of Nepal's previously majority parties. Nevertheless, in the areas of government control, those blanketed by publicity, the same rules did not obtain. There, something more akin to a real political contest was waged. No one who has seen machine politics at work should have been surprised by the results.

Subsequently, the move to neutralize then-Royal Nepal Army could only have worked with the likes of UNMIN and its monitors in charge. Not only did they fail to match weapons against known inventory, they had not even the most basic understanding of Maoist structure.

Thus, the camps were packed with manpower far beyond actual "military" strength. Then, with UNMIN/EU fiscal support, regularization and indoctrination took place, even as cadres were moved laterally into Young Communist League (by a different name, still the same thugs).

At this point, few thought the Maoists would prove as inept as they were. Any astute political party would have started with the small thing – such as dealing with Kathmandu's horrible trash and polluted water problems – "made the trains run on time," as would all good fascists, whether of the left or right.

Instead, the Maoists sought capitulation and used thuggery – and even murder – against those who stood in the way. No orders went out to stop the violence. In fact, under the surface, it was constant and ubiquitous.

The police, under orders not to intervene in "political" cases, normally stood by. To those pursued in Maoist vendettas, the police were next to useless. Flight abroad became the chosen course for many.

To its credit, the present CPN-UML coalition has acted responsibly given the bad hand it has been dealt (and helped create). What it cannot do is mobilize the growing disillusionment among the masses with Maoist misadventure, since its political activists simply cannot penetrate many areas due to the violent Maoist net that has been cast over them. For its part, Nepali Congress has slid into irrelevance due to the cowardice of individual members unwilling to challenge the nepotism of the ultimate leadership.

The trials of normal life for the people are all to the Maoists' liking since what they want is incapacitating chaos. This, they feel, will allow them to pick up the pieces and put them together as a new world.


Prachanda (he adopted the moniker; he should live with it) is often portrayed as a moderate of sorts balancing contending Maoist factions, hard- and soft-liners. This, as with so many judgments, is a fundamental misreading of the revolutionary project. The only differences between the insurgent factions are issues of tactics and timing, not strategy.

The strategy remains people's war, the mobilization of a new Maoist world, a counter-state, to challenge the existing world, the state. The manner in which the strategy is operationally implemented is what remains an object of debate.

Prachanda and company, illustrated best by Dr and Mrs Bhattarai, give greater weight to the course they are now pursuing, which is to bring the old-order down "peacefully" – that is, with intimidation, sub-rosa attacks on individuals, and street violence ("peaceful protest," as illustrated by the present "Black Flag" activities). Even now, the Maoists have engaged in intense planning and training sessions for their promised Nov 1 attack, they vow, will only end when the government agrees to "compromise" (by which the Maoists mean surrender power to them).

In contract, the hardliners demand outright assault and forceful restructuring of society. They have bought into their own myth-making and simply discard the potential of Indian intervention of blockade.

They are best compared to Hamas and its present position in Gaza. That the population of Gaza has become isolated and miserable is irrelevant to the Hamas revolutionary project.

One need only look at Gaza, too, to understand the dysfunctional role in Nepal of both UNMIN and various EU missions. In Gaza, the UN "humanitarian" support of an archipelago of "refugee camps" in reality supports centers of militancy and terror – which, ironically, claim to be inviolate whenever there is response to crimes launched from within their confines.

Similarly, European ideological miscue has long given the benefit of the doubt to any force, such as Hamas, claiming to be revolutionary, even as its hideous belief structure, complete with an anti-Semitism that goes beyond Hitler's Mein Kampf, is not only ignored by EU politicians but increasingly given voice in their pronouncements and embrace of the classic human rights double standard.

This is Nepal. The limited Maoist main forces have now been augmented by foreign-sustained, regularized militancy in the 'regroupment' camps. The NA is not allowed to recruit but the recruitment for the People's Liberation Army went on as the camps were filled!

Ideologically, Maoist dogma has long since alienated even the most slow-learning members of the Nepali chattering classes. Reading the pages of leading Nepali media makes clear there is little that is unknown tangibly.

What remains underestimated, though, is the consequences of Maoism for Nepal.

(Writer is a political risk consultant based in Honolulu, Hawaii and the author of several benchmark works on Maoist insurgency, to include Maoist People's War in Post-Vietnam Asia (Bangkok, 2007) and Counterrevolution in China: Wang Sheng and the Kuomintang (London, 1998).

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