Edifying Debate On Social Transformation
From Conflict to Transformation,
a debate on social transformation, restructuring and trade
union agenda, edited by Bishnu Rimal and Umesh Upadhyaya;
Published by Nepal Trade Union Federation (GEFONT) in
assistance with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung;
Dwanda Bata Rupantaran Tira
(From Conflict to Transformation)
Edited by: Bishnu
Rimal and Umesh Upadhyaya
Published Year: 2010
Published by: General Federation
of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) & Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Ritu Raj Subedi
From Conflict to Transformation contains
intensive intellectual debate on the burning issues of
new Nepal: How to interpret the ongoing socio-economic
changes and how to carry out state restructuring agenda
in the coming decades? The book is an outcome of unrelenting
efforts of GEFONT that brought together experts, professors,
politicians and trade unionists to brainstorm on the issues
of social transformation, participatory democracy, welfare
state, socialism, class struggle and the fate of Marxism
in the new century. Readers will come across leftist perspective
in the analysis of social, cultural and political phenomena.
In 'Weak State and Social Transformation',
political scientist Dev Raj Dahal writes that the country
has embraced ideal policies to meet the basic needs of
its citizens but in absence of resources and viable institutions
it is difficult to live up to their expectations, which
will, in turn, give rise to ambition-fed politics.
Quoting Samuel Huntington's views on
social structure of the state, Dahal says, "Religion
and language are two key components in the formation of
any civilisation. But, in Nepal, it seems, we are abandoning
Dahal cautions that the Nepalese state,
in its transitional phase, is losing its unified symbol
of national unity, ownership of public policy and its
authority in using 'legitimate violence' and collecting
Okariya Das, an international trade
union leader from Malaysia, shares his experiences in
the role of labour movement in the participatory democracy.
He offers insights into trade union movements in South
Africa and Brazil. "There are two aspects of modernity.
One is democracy that is of participatory nature. Another
is capitalism that is a source of exploitation."
Rajan Bhattrai's brief synopsis of professor
Donald Sassoon's 'One Hundred Years of Socialism: Western
European Leftists in 20th Century' is highly interesting
and informative. It describes how socialists or communists
split over the means and nature of revolution following
the demise of the fathers of communism. There was stiff
ideological battle between Lenin and German socialists
Bernstein and Kautsy as to who is the true successor of
Marx and Engels.
What strikes us more is the justification
of the views of 'revisionist' Bernstein in the 21st century.
He said Marx's prediction of capitalism's imminent demise
was hardly compatible with the emerging realities of European
nations where market forces were gaining ground and the
living conditions of workers witnessed gradual improvement.
"Capitalism can avert its crisis
by reforming itself. It has developed new ways - complex
banking system, the growth of monopoly capitalism (cartel
- joint monopoly) and the development of communications,"
said Bernstein. Marx did not see these phenomenons of
capitalism while writing his seminal work Das Capital.
Unlike the revolutionary approach of Marx, Bernstein stressed
on evolutionary socialism and gradual advancement of working
class through the use of ballot box, parliament, democracy
and the rule of law.
The icons of international socialist
movements - Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Bernstein - were
sharply divided on the nature of political movements.
Lenin stood for revolutionary war, Rosa for powerful general
strike and Bernstein for gradual reforms and state intervention.
Umesh Upadhyay's write-up 'Production
Relations and History of Class Struggle in Nepal: A Brief
Analysis' is very useful for the students of political
and social sciences.
According to him, three competing classes
are active now. They are feudal, business community and
workers who are struggling, sometime interacting and coordinating
with each other for their better survival in today's Nepal.
"Looking from economic perspective, the power of
feudal class is declining. It is trying to block social
reconstructions and transformations to maintain its status
Modanath Prashrit's 'Feudal Culture,
Conservative Tradition and Marginalised Cultures in Nepal',
Gauri Pradhan's analysis of Paulo Freire 'Pedagogy of
the Oppressed' and Ghanashyam Bhusal's 'Hegemony, Marxism
and People's Multiparty Democracy' are some other weighty
articles in the book.
At last, the comments of CPN-UML leader
Mukunda Neupane on the class nature of Nepal's three major
parties - Nepali Congress, UML and the Maoist party -
is not only critical but an eye opener to the workers
of these parties.
"The NC holds the character
of upper middle class and rich farmers; UML of the middle
class peasants and the Maoist lower-middle class farmers
and lumpen proletariat. With this class analysis, it becomes
clear that all these three parties are not the parties
of working class," argues Neupane.
Supplement, The Rising Nepal (15 October 2010)