Can Communism And Democracy Exist In Nepal?

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Communism is an economic-political doctrine presented by Marx and Engels where they tried to force society into the simplistic binary system. Communism abolishes private ownership and the means of production belong to the entire community. The state controls the means of production to end the exploitation of workers and create economic equality.

Communism began to develop in the Soviet Union in the late 19th century. The terror and methods Bolsheviks applied to seize power through the October Revolution was pernicious and irreversible.
For decades after the Second World War, the world’s autocracies just only survived and they couldn’t challenge liberalism. Though China made it out, other nations like Chile, Paraguay, South Korea, and Haiti in those decades couldn’t make it and they were forced out by the United States. The Soviet Union and the United States engaged in Cold War for military and economic superiority.

The Soviet Union spread communism in many countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America. Many communist governments collapsed after the Berlin Wall crash on 9 November 1989. The fall of the Wall and the depression that followed made the world embrace free markets. Few autocracies like in Russia and China survived because they had the strength and they didn’t compromise with liberal pressure.

Communism could have worked but any transformation that required so much violence was a very difficult battle. In the 104 years, since Bolsheviks gained power, 100 million people were killed by the communist governments. Millions were killed in Mao’s Great Leap Forward, mass executions, and labor camps. Stalin killed about 10 million people. About 45 million people lost their lives in the Great Leap Forward of 1958 to 1962.  

In recent decades, the number of communist nations has reduced. Now, the number of communist nations is 6 after Nepal recently joined Cuba, China, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam. CPN-UML led by Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli and Maoist Centre led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, two big communist parties merged into one party, Nepal Communist Party(NCP) in May 2018. But it didn’t last long.

NCP suffered vertical splits 31 months after the union. It was a major setback for China that supported the NCP. Before also, the party was about to split but China mediated the dispute. Chinese ambassador to Nepal held several meetings with Nepalese leaders when the trouble inside the communist party of Nepal boiled up. But this time the party got split.

We saw the greatest challenge democracy could face was communism. It would be interesting to see how communism in the Himalayan Kingdom would reform itself and make the transition to democracy.

But political infighting and paranoia are pushing Nepal’s democracy into crisis. Nepal faced political turmoil when Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli dissolved the parliament as infighting in the ruling Nepal Communist party reached alarming levels. Nepal’s political parties, civil society, constitutional experts believed that the move was not constitutional. One after another Oli is consolidating power in his hands. He has hollowed many independent constitutions and appointed his loyalists.

Recently, he unilaterally appointed members of constitutional bodies bypassing the constitutional method of appointment. This move is opposed by another faction of his party.

Now, everything seems uncertain as democratic values are trampled upon one after another. His recent moves have raised concerns about whether elections for the new parliament, announced for April 30 and May 10 can be held fairly.

Communism is far from a fundamental right as it is prevalent under democracy. Communism erodes freedom and individual rights whereas democracy promotes them. Freedom is only granted when the community as a whole, is benefitted. In this context, it would be very interesting to see how democracy can survive with democracy but recent moves by Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli are discouraging.

 It will be early to predict as Nepal awaits Supreme Court’s verdict on Oli’s move to dissolve the parliament. China, India and the US are also closely watching Nepal’s development as many believe they are interfering in Nepal’s politics and policies to favor their interests and increase their interest in the small Himalayan country, which is geopolitically important.

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