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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 (FES)

Pages: 422

 

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 them."

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 tax.

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 quo."

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.

Source: Friday Supplement, The Rising Nepal (15 October 2010)

 
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