Nepal Turns Red 100 Years After the Russian Revolution (and Other Snippets from our times)

Submitted by admin on Sun, 12/10/2017 - 14:33
Nepal Turns Red 100 Years After the Russian Revolution


Dear Friends,

The Communist alliance will - most likely - win the elections in Nepal. Trends show that the alliance will come near a two-thirds majority of the parliament. The Communist alliance has promised that it would complete a five year term, something unaccomplished since electoral democracy was established in 1990. It is believed that Khadga Prashad Oli will be the next Prime Minister. He has pledged to tackle the basic needs of the Nepali people as well as to build the infrastructure of one of the world's poorest countries (the infrastructural project will include an extension of the Chinese railway network into Nepal).

The Communist movement has a long history in Nepal. It almost came to power in 1952 when a group - led by K. I. Singh - tried to seize power. When that attempt failed, Singh fled to China. Part of the Communist movement went into an armed struggle between 1996 and 2006, when the promise of electoral democracy failed. Over 17,000 people died in that war. A peace accord in 2006 brought the Maoists above ground and changed the terms of the authoritarian monarchy. The current alliance of the Communists links the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninists) with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). The hope to make democracy a truly robust institution in Nepal.

Meanwhile, in Honduras, the ruling bloc - backed by the United States - appears to have stolen an election won by the Honduran left alliance. It says a great deal that 'democracy' can be weakened if it impacts upon the only major US military base in Latin America - at Soto Cano (Palmerola).


Red Star Over the Third World


The story of the Nepali left is part of the ongoing dynamic that began with the October Revolution a hundred years ago. It was that revolution - against the Tsarist empire but also against capitalism - that galvanised anti-colonial movements across the Third World. This is the subject of my latest (134 page) book - Red Star Over the Third World - just out from LeftWord Books. The book is available for purchase around the world as a print copy. 

The current issue of Frontline is dedicated to the October Revolution. The issue has invaluable essays by Aijaz Ahmad, Prabhat Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh, Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, R. Vijaya Sankar, Tariq Ali, and others. My essay, which you can read here, is on reading about the revolution from the anti-colonial world of the 1910s and 1920s. It also talks a little about the LeftWord books that we have produced to commemorate this anniversary.

The other book pictured above is on the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society, a remarkable worker initiative in Kerala with an over 90 year history. The study is by the Minister of Finance of Kerala's Left Democratic Front government, T. M. Thomas Isaac, and Michelle Williams. You can read more about that book here.


The first Intifada of 1987
The first intifada began on 8 December 1987 in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip


Embed from Getty Images
Hamas chief calls for new intifada over Trump's Jerusalem move, and more(slideshow)


Meanwhile, events in Palestine move rapidly. This week was the thirtieth anniversary of the first Intifada of 1987. The picture on the top is from that protest - taken in Gaza. It was an uprising of Palestinians who suffered from the indignity and oppression of the Israeli Occupation. The picture captures the asymmetry of the conflict.

Now, with the 'peace process' stalled and with Israel - with complete US and Saudi backing - pushing for more and more land in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the United States President Donald Trump decided to put salt on the Palestinian wound to declare that the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem. This goes against international law, UN policy and the general international consensus. Trump, driven by the Zionist lobby in Washington (which includes the Christian evangelist conservatives), thumbed his nose at this consensus. But, not long after he made his inflammatory statement, Trump signed on to an extension that allows the US embassy to remain in Tel Aviv. His comment about Jerusalem seemed purely political theatre.

But dangerous theatre. It gave the Israelis carte blanche to continue their terrible policies of land grab and intimidation in East Jerusalem and in the old city. The picture above on the bottom is from Salah al-din Street in the old quarter. It depicts the harsh violence - once again the asymmetry of the illegal occupation. There is great fear that this policy will deny this complex city's many peoples access to religious centres (the al-Aqsa mosque to begin with), to their homes and to their shops. This is an intolerable situation.

The world has condemned Trump's decision, which Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah called a second Balfour Declaration. Each time - a hundred years ago and now - the dominant imperialist power made a gesture against Palestinian lives, with grave consequences. It is a correct parallel.


Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey (Trailer)


Finally, to Syria, where the UN peace talks are ongoing in Geneva. This is the eighth round of peace talks. It comes after the defeat of ISIS in West Asia - as declared by both the Iraqi and Syrian governments, and after the substantial withdrawal of external support to the various rebel groups inside Syria. News of Syria in the corporate media is almost nonexistent. The refugee question remains on the table, which is why the image above - by the Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr - frames this part of the newsletter.

At Alternet (English) and BirGün (Turkish), I have a short report on the situation in Syria and on the prospects for peace and reconciliation. The English report ends, 'The vultures have already begun to circle around Syria for the contracts to reconstruct the country. Iranian and Russian money will be available. Lebanese banks and Brazilian road builders are ready to bid for the juicy contracts. It will be important for the Syrian people to be at the heart of the reconstruction process, not only the physical reconstruction of the country but also of its politics'.

Speaking of reconstruction, here is a very useful website - PR on the Map - by my friend Rosa Clemente (former US Vice Presidential candidate of the Green Party) and her comrades on the situation in Puerto Rico. It has stories that document the assault on that island as well as advice on how to go forward to reconstruct Puerto Rico. Please follow their work.

Warmly, Vijay.