By Holden Vallei
The Capitalist world has created its narrative of history that in 1991, Communism died forever and would only live in exile on the island of Cuba. This view is often supported by anti-Communists, who claim that there is no point in supporting an ideology that has been forever defeated and has not had a single success since 1991. However, this narrative completely ignores events that have occurred in Nepal over the last twenty years. Nepal may sound irrelevant at first, but it is a country with over twenty million people that is a crossroads between the two Asian superpowers, China and India.
In the 1990s, people in Nepal were growing tired of the Monarchy that had ruled over them since 1768. The Monarchy always tried to avoid Democratic elections and instead allowed a King and Prime Minister, both who inherited the position instead of being elected to it, govern the nation autocratically. In 1996, the Nepali Communists declared war on the Monarchy, and the Nepali People’s War broke out. It was a bloody civil war that lasted ten years. However, the Nepali Communists used the treacherous terrain of their homeland to their advantage and fought using guerrilla warfare, and the Monarchy surrendered in 2006. The Nepali People’s War inspired the video game Far Cry 4.
How did the Nepali Communists win? Isn’t Communism a dead movement after all? Nepal was, and still is, a dirt poor country where the economy is hardly Capitalist, as much of the population is still mired in Feudalism. The Nepali people wanted to develop by along a Socialist and Democratic path, not under a Monarchy that could easily be influenced by foreign Capitalists. In 2008, the Monarchy was abolished and the official name of Nepal was changed from “The Kingdom of Nepal” to “The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.” National Elections were then held. Many Parities contested the elections, and Communist Parities won the Parliament. (Citation 1) In 2015, Nepali Communist Bidhya Bhandari was elected the first female President of Nepal, a remarkable accomplishment in a traditionally misogynist country. (Citation 2) While Nepal is a Multi-Party Federal Democratic Republic, Communists control the Parliament and the Presidency. There has been a degree of political instability since the abolition of the Monarchy in 2008. An official constitution was not enacted until late 2015.
In the April of 2015, Nepal was devastated by an earthquake. However, Nepal has still made progress since the overthrow of the Monarchy and election of Communist Parities. For one, the economy has made progress. In 2008, the GDP per person was $477.93. By 2015, this figure had risen to $732.30. Please note that both figures are in current US Dollars. The GDP was growing at a rate of 3.36% in 2015. (Citation 3)
On the note of living standards, the human development index (HDI) has also experienced uninterrupted growth since 2008. The HDI is better at determining living standards than the GDP per person since it does not just take into account incomes, but also how those incomes are translated into healthcare, education, and development opportunities. In 2010, Nepal had a HDI of 0.531, and this rose to 0.548 in 2014. This means they have managed to jump up to 145th place out of 188 countries. While this is still low, it is increasing at a rate of 0.005 a year, one of the highest increases in HDI in the world. While Nepal is still in the “low” HDI category, they are only 0.002 points away from the “medium” category. If it continues to increase at the current rate, they should be in the “medium” category when the 2016 Human Development Report is released on March 21st, 2017. (Please note each report uses data from the previous year) While Nepal’s HDI growth has been slowing down in recent years, this has been a worldwide trend. (Citation 4)
Another important accomplishment is the poverty rates have fell from 50% in 2008 to 25.2% in 2016. (Citation 5&6) The literacy in Nepal is also rising. (Citation 7) The status of women is also rising in Nepal. A female President has been elected, the new constitution gives women equal rights, and the new Nepali Coat of Arms shows a male and female hands performing a hand shake to emphasize gender equality. (Citation 8) Another important accomplishment is the number of collective farms in Nepal have increased from 7,598 in 2004 to 24,000 in 2013. Wait, what is a collective farm and why are they important? Collective Farms are farms that are owned and democratically run directly by the farmers. This the Socialist method of agriculture. They are important because they help ordinary farmers, provide the community more wealth, and increase living standards in the countryside, which could prevent chaotic rural to urban migration. (Citation 9&10) Socialism is when the workers control the means of production like with farmers running the collective farms. These collective farms are laying the foundations for Socialism in Nepal.
In conclusion, all Communists should support the progress the Nepali Communist Movement has made in the last twenty years, from waging a successful People’s War, abolishing the Monarchy, improving the miserable state of Nepal, and proving Communism is a movement making a comeback.
3: The World Bank