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19 May, 2008

Role of revolutionary literature in Maoist triumph in Nepal

By Florentino A. Iniego, Jr

One way of understanding the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist's victory is to study its revolutionary literature. As a researcher from the Philippines, I have been struggling to learn the Nepali language to grasp the poems and songs of the Maoist movement. For months of exposure, interaction, and reading translations of works from the books published by writers of the All-Nepal Cultural Association, I realized that from the turbulent thirteen years of the people's war the Maoist literature stands out to be one of the dynamic dimensions of Nepali literature.

There is no doubt that the CPN-Maoist's victory in the CA election had shocked the monarchy, the traditional politicians (e.g. Nepali Congress), and revisionist parties (e.g. Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist). Even the mass media were extremely wrong in insisting that the Maoist will loose because of the high-handedness of the Youth Communist League. A "hardly surprised" columnist was a Johny-come-lately to found out that the Maoist triumph was due to their organizing skills. Others say it is because of their "catchy" slogans. While some "gave the Maoist a chance" because of the guaranteed vision of achieving a rapid economic growth within a decade.

Actually, there exist an unholy alliance among the monarchy, bureaucrat capitalists, mass media moguls, bourgeois academic intellectuals, and imperialist funded INGO/NGO to launch an open campaign in discrediting and maligning the Maoist. But shocked and awed by their victory, they then resort to false reasons to belittle the Maoist triumph and the given mandate from the people. Now they must apologize to the Maoist and should take the advice of one of their media buddy: "This must force us to re-examine some of our basic assumptions about political changes over the past few years and take what the Maoist say seriously." (Nepali Times, 18-24 April 2008)
Even some writers and critics neither confirm nor deny their concern or distanced themselves away to study the Maoist literature. A known critic observed that Maoist writers are `structurally monotonous'. They tend to become abstract and usually make artless generalisation meant to serve the purpose of Party propaganda. But conscious of its historical and literary significance another critic attested that "Whatever be the case, the Maoist writing remains a novel and untouched area for researchers, creative writers and scholars interested in knowing the fate of contemporary Nepal's turbulence and any attempt to brush it aside would mean ignoring crucial dimension of contemporary Nepalese literature and society." (The Kathmandu Post, 10 August 2003)

Beyond their organizing skills, new slogans, a sound economic program, and the hidden power of its literature, the CPN-Maoist owed its victory to the systematic processes of "concrete analysis of concrete conditions" vis-à-vis the strategic and tactical formulation of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism on the prevailing semi-colonial and semi-feudal situation in Nepal. In these processes, the Prachanda Path was affirmed to unite completely the Party machinery, people's army, people's organizations from ethnic groups, women/gender and other marginalized groups, and the whole people in the advancement of people's war.

Prachanda Path laid down the themes and contents of the CPN-Maoist revolutionary literature. It was formulated in the historical Second National Conference of C.P.N. (Maoist) as an ideological synthesis of rich experiences of five years of the great People's War. The Party, in this conference, has taken up Prachanda Path as an inseparable dialectical unity between international content and national expression, universality and particularity, whole and part, general and particular, and has comprehended that this synthesis of experiences of Nepalese revolution would serve world proletarian revolution and proletarian internationalism. (The Great Leap Forward: An Inevitable Need of History, p.79).

To infuse the Prachanda Path among its writers, the Maoist adheres to the classic "Talks at the Yean Forum" of Mao Zedong written while the people's war in China advanced forward in 1942. Mao defined literature as the reflection of economics and politics. It has a dialectical relationship with these. In his theory of art and literature, he called for the reflection of the revolutionary class struggle and for the revolutionary workers, peasants and soldiers to serve the people. He declared that art and literature are important methods to educate the masses and should serve a weapon for social change.

By applying Prachanda Path and the Maoist revolutionary line in literature, I believed that the CPN-Maoist has achieved the victory of the 21st century as what Mao Zedong had accomplished to the Chinese revolution in 1949. To get a closer look on the nexus of literature and revolution is to read the "Journey of Prachanda Path" by Ishwor Chandra Gyanwali.

It's a journey of intense fire, how can it be obstructed?
No one can stop it from advancing
Who can resist the seasons from rotating?
And who can halt the change of the time?
Let the jail and shackles be cold but our mind won't be freeze
A blunt bayonet can't stab the revolution
The more the bullets are fired at the chest of a revolutionist
The more his blood blooms into flower
When a comrade dies and became a martyr one day
The next morning he rises up like a sun.
(translated to English by Gaurav Chandra Gyawali)

This poem reflects the revolutionary optimism of comrades who have offered their dear life to the cause of the revolution. Guided by Prachanda Path no one can impede the desire of the people to liberate themselves from the chains of feudal and imperialist bandages. Confronted by hardships and sacrifices, the symbolic figure of the rising sun resurrects the eternal vision of martyrs whose blood had nourished the people's thirst for freedom and democracy. And where is this journey heading? In the song "Red Salute to Republic of Nepal" (from the CD Titled- Lal Salaam Ganatantra Nepal lai), the destination of the people's struggle is lyrically visible.

With the uproar of people from towns and village
Red salute to Republic of Nepal.
Flag is waving, there is bliss inside,
Like a heart in a beautiful garden.
Rhododendron is blooming with redness.
Revolutionary thought can't be repressed.
People's movement, red rising sun makes us feel good.
The people's army march with great thought
And presenting them proudly,
Waves of struggle has made Republic of Nepal smile.
(translated to English by Gaurav Chandra Gyawali)

Along with the people's army, we can see the whole nation marching, singing, chanting and waving the flag of the revolution towards its goal – the establishment of the people's republic.

These poem and song above are just a representative of volumes of literature written and published during the course of the people's war. They emphasized the need and relevance of class struggle, the necessity of people's war, glorifying the martyrs of the revolution, and to strengthen the faith in achieving victory. Overall, they played an important role to reap comprehensive success not only in the economic, political, and ideological field but also in the cultural field.

Out from my quarter here in Kathmandu, before the election I have visited the cantonment of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) at Rolpa. I have met and interviewed some division and brigade commanders, soldiers, and writers. Their warm welcome and comradely salute have moved me. I was so surprised on the situation of the revolution in the heartland of the people's war. With their daily collective drills, exercises, chores, and classes, the PLA stands out to be a well-disciplined and professional army of the people. I have witnessed their cultural programs and admired the great talent of PLA soldiers. Female comrades with their neat uniforms represent the equality of gender inside the camp. Their poems, songs, dances combine with the traditional and ethnic culture. Their voices and body movements compliments the tune of their drums, organ and guitar. So graceful and meaningful in conveying the language and hymn of the revolution.

Before I left Rolpa, Comrade Bir Bahadur K.C. gave me his book of poetry titled Rata Phulharu (2063). Back at Kathmandu, I asked the help of one teacher from Tribhuvan University (Gaurav K.C.) to translate the poem commemorating the ninth anniversary of the people's war:

This precious moment is a day for proletariats
Heralding the revolution against the enemy
and the day reflecting the image of justice
and emancipation of pure heart.
It's is unique than the usual morning of rising
For it has carried its glorious history
taking the courage to kiss the Mt. Everest of success.

With these powerful verses, I can feel the simplicity but intense sensitivity of the revolutionary imagination of comrades in the PLA. I can gaze at the agony and sorrow but these were overpowered by the will to conquer the highest tip of the symbolic triumph of human endeavour.

Along with philosophers and politicians, writers have interpreted and reflected the reality of Nepal in so many ways. However, the important point is how to change it? So back in the 1950's anti-monarchy movement to the Jana Andolan of 1990 and 2006, writers had actively pushed on the role of literature as a weapon to achieve genuine social change in Nepal. Although they are called "protest literature" which is "progressive" and "radical," essentially they are reformist by nature. What their works have failed to attain, the Maoist writers came in to fill-in the breaks and gaps. Along with their arms and pen, they bravely wave the red flag of the revolution to inscribe and accomplish the historic mission of the proletariat. By creating revolutionary verses, metaphors, lyrics, tunes, and choruses to arouse, mobilize, and organize the people, the CPN-Maoist had successfully lead the struggle towards the building of the New People's Democratic Republic of Nepal.
Florentino A. Iniego, Jr is a Fellow of the Asian Scholarship Foundation and presently affiliated with the Center for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University (CNAS-TU).

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