Karl Marx’s socialism in Nepal: Reflections on the ongoing struggle

karl marx
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Nepal has been in political turmoil since the overthrow of the monarchy in 2008. The country has seen various governments. However, none of these governments has been able to deliver on their promises of social justice and economic prosperity. The country remains one of the poorest in Asia, with high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Yet, there is a consistent dream of socialism in Nepal.

It seems socialism in Nepal through the lens of Karl Marxis is the only viable solution to the country’s problems.

The struggle for socialism

Karl Marx, the father of socialism, believed that the capitalist system was inherently exploitative and unjust and that the working class must unite to overthrow it. He argued that socialism, in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the workers themselves, would lead to a fairer and more equitable society. Nepal is a country with a large working-class population and the ongoing struggle for socialism in the country can be seen as a continuation of Marx’s ideas.

The struggle for socialism in Nepal is rooted in the country’s history of feudalism and exploitation. Marx argued that the capitalist system was built on the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class. In Nepal, the ruling class has historically been made up of feudal landlords and the monarchy. The struggle for socialism in Nepal, therefore, is a struggle against this feudal system and the exploitation of the working class.

The Maoist-led government that came to power in Nepal in 2008 was seen by many as a step towards socialism. The government promised to redistribute land to the landless, provide free education and healthcare and create jobs for the unemployed. However, the government was unable to deliver on these promises.

Since then, the struggle for socialism in Nepal has continued, with various political parties and groups advocating socialism. The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist(CPN-UML) is currently the largest political party in the country and has a socialist agenda. The party has promised to create a socialist society in Nepal, with public ownership of key industries and services.

For centuries, Nepal was ruled by a small elite of powerful landlords and aristocrats, who owned vast estates and controlled the country’s resources. The majority of the population, who were mostly peasants and labourers, were forced to work for these landlords and were paid very little for their labour.

The struggle for socialism in Nepal gained momentum in the 20th century, with the establishment of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) in 1949. The CPN, which was inspired by the teachings of Marx and Lenin, sought to overthrow the feudal system and establish a socialist society in Nepal. The party’s efforts were met with resistance from the ruling elite, who saw the CPN as a threat to their power and wealth.

In the 1990s, Nepal underwent a period of political and social upheaval, with the establishment of multi-party democracy and the adoption of a new constitution that recognised the rights of workers and peasants. However, these reforms did not go far enough to address the underlying issues of poverty, inequality and exploitation that were still prevalent in Nepali society.

Today, Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line. The struggle for socialism in Nepal continues, with the CPN-Maoist Centre party leading the charge for a socialist revolution. The party’s platform includes the nationalisation of industries, the establishment of a planned economy and the abolition of feudalism and landlordism.

Difficult yet continuous path

The Dahal-Nepal faction of the Nepal Communist Party stages a demonstration against the government’s dissolution of dissolving the House of Representatives, in Kathmandu, on Tuesday, December 29, 2020.

While the road to socialism in Nepal is fraught with challenges and obstacles, the teachings of Karl Marx continue to inspire and guide the struggle for a more just and equitable society. As Marx himself wrote, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” The people of Nepal are working to change their world, and the struggle for socialism continues.

Overall, the provisions of socialism in Nepal aim to create a society that is more just, equitable, and sustainable. There are several challenging things on the road to socialism in Nepal, including:

1. Political instability: Nepal has experienced political instability for many years, which has hindered the implementation of socialist policies.

2. Economic challenges: Nepal is a developing country with a weak economy. The country faces challenges like poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment, which make it difficult to implement socialist policies.

3. Corruption: Corruption is a major challenge in Nepal, which undermines the implementation of socialist policies and programmes.

4. Lack of public awareness: Many people in Nepal are not aware of the principles and benefits of socialism, which makes it difficult to build a strong socialist movement.

5. Opposition from the ruling class: The ruling class in Nepal, which includes the wealthy and powerful, may resist socialist policies that threaten their interests.

6. External pressures: Nepal is a small country that is vulnerable to external pressures from powerful countries and international organisations, which may not support socialist policies.

7. Implementation challenges: Implementing socialist policies requires significant resources, expertise, and coordination, which may be difficult to achieve in Nepal’s current context.

Overall, the road to socialism in Nepal is challenging, but with determination, commitment, and effective governance, it is possible to overcome these challenges and build a more just and equitable society.

Socialism in the context of Nepal’s Constitution

In Nepal, socialism is one of the guiding principles of the country’s constitution. The constitution of Nepal defines socialism as a political ideology that aims to establish a society that is free from exploitation, oppression, and inequality. The provisions of socialism in Nepal include:

  • The state shall adopt a mixed economic system that combines private, cooperative, and public ownership of the means of production.
  • The state shall ensure that the benefits of economic development are shared equitably among all sections of society.
  • The state shall provide social security, healthcare, education, and other basic services to all citizens.
  • The state shall promote the welfare of workers and protect their rights.
  • The state shall work towards the elimination of poverty, illiteracy, and social discrimination.
  • The state shall promote the development of agriculture, industry, and infrastructure in a manner that is sustainable and equitable.
  • The state shall ensure that natural resources are used in a manner that benefits the people and protects the environment.

But there are several reasons why Nepal has not been able to establish a socialist state even though it is mentioned in the constitution.

a) Lack of resources: Nepal faces a shortage of resources, both human and financial. This makes it difficult to create an atmosphere conducive to the development of socialism.

b) Socio-cultural factors: Nepal is still a largely conservative society with strong traditional values and beliefs. These values are often contrary to socialist principles, making it difficult to implement them.

c) The Maoist insurgency: The Maoist insurgency in Nepal from 1996-2006 had a major impact on the country’s stability and development. The insurgency caused economic disruption and displacement of people, making it even more difficult for Nepal to establish a socialist state.

In conclusion, Nepal’s ongoing struggle for socialism can be seen as a continuation of Karl Marx’s ideas. The country’s history of feudalism and exploitation has created a deep-seated desire for social justice and economic equality. While previous governments have failed to deliver on their promises, the struggle for socialism in Nepal continues.

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Yadav is a law student at Kathmandu School of Law, Kathmandu.

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