Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bye, Bye, Monarchy

It is always a wonderful day when a monarchy dies, particularly one as parasitic as the one in Nepal. You may remember several years ago, when the first family of the Nepalese monarchy were wiped out, supposedly, by a jealous son (upset at his family's disapproval over who he wanted to marry, to which he responded by obtaining an automatic weapon and killing his parents, a couple of siblings, and some servants and employees, before finally checking out himself). Many people feel the recent ex-king, Gyanendra, manufactured the event to make himself king following the royal massacre.

And what an evil and wretched king he was. When not benefiting from fratricide, Gyanendra preferred to dismiss prime ministers and elected parliaments, rule by martial law, have dissidents captured, tortured, and murdered--all of this under the guise of fighting the Maoist insurgency. One of the reasons why the Maoists had so much support in Nepal was because of Gyandendra's authoritarianism and heavy-handedness. Unfortunately for Gyandendra, the Cold War is long over, and people in Washington DC no longer care about Maoists. Otherwise, he might still in power today.

As it was, by 2006, with the Maoists controlling over 80% of the countryside, except the capital city, and geared to seize power and cleanse the body politic of the man who likely had his brother and family butchered to obtain his position, a peace process ensued that ultimately led to the election of the Maoists in a restored parliamentary government. Contrary to the views of the average conservative, not all Communists and Marxists are totalitarian stooges. The group's leader, Prachanda, was an ex-recipient of US Aid, and a man well versed in history and has spoken numerous times of the importance of avoiding some of the pitfalls of the Soviet Union and even the current day People's Republic of China. One of his first demands in every negotiation was the restoration of the parliament and end of monarchical control (alongside land reform and redistribution of resources to the landless peasantry that comprise the majority of Nepal's population).

The reason why the Maoists succeeded was because of the popularity of its appeals--socialist and democratic, backed by force of arms against a tyrannical monarchy that ruled by decree and with an iron fist. Whereas FARC and other Marxist rebel groups in Latin America over the past couple of decades funded themselves by unpopular means like kidnapping and dealing drugs, the Communist Party of Nepal's appeal was its lack of corruption (which contrasted starkly with Gyanendra's cronyism). Most importantly, Prachanda's movement represented the interests of the vast majority of the country's population, in a way that was undeniable even to his opponents. This is the side of Communism you will not see in a Richard Pipes book.

As of today, May 28, as part of the Maoists' demands for an end to the decade-plus civil war, the Communist-dominated parliament voted to eliminate Nepal's monarchy. Nepal is now, finally, a democratic and secular federal republic. Hopefully, this portends the future. What a great day it will be when that royal blood in London is forced into financing itself. Ah, that is right--we are supposed to love the British now. We are cousins, according to them. Well, what a pity Robespierre was not British.

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