Saturday, May 17, 2008

It seems that a career as great and glorious leader of the struggling people can pay off quite handsomely. Here's a recent article from the LibCom board about the perks of government that the Maoists of Nepal expect to share in very shortly, after winning up to 1/3rd of the seats in recent elections to the Constituent Assembly. Nothing like rolling in the people's dough. Not that this is all bad-really ! Corruption is actually the only barrier to murderous tyranny once a Leninist party gains power-short of an external threat. The more corrupt the new ruling class is the less likely it is to engage in fantastical acts of murder and tyranny to bring its ideological dream to fruition. Every dollar/rupee spent on the creature comforts of the Maoist leadership may save dozens of innocent lives. One of the quite amusing facts quoted in the following article is the actions of the Bolsheviks in 1919, during a time of famine in Russia, in ordering 70 more Rolls Royces in order that the "leaders of the proletariat" could be chauffeured around in style. Love it !
As an aside some may wonder why Molly bothers to berate the increasingly rare Maoists, long after their implosion in popularity and long after they have ceased to be any sort of contender for power in any country in the world outside of Nepal. Why bother ? All that I can say in apology is that I am merely following the dictates of many millions of years of evolution here. Way back when, long before our ancestors and those of the chimpanzees diverged, there was an action that conferred great fitness on its actors and one whose tendency we have therefore inherited. If you see a sick vicious poisonous snake, or you manage to beat it down, don't stop there. Keep on beating it until it is dead 8 times over. Don't let it live to bite again. Poisonous vipers, smallpox viruses, plague germs, Maoists...all are things the world can very well do without. Make sure they don't rise to bite again.
Nepal; a nice little earner for the Maoist ruling class - in Lenin's footsteps
Nepal's Maoist Party has won around 220 seats in the recent Constituent Assembly (CA) election, about one-third of the total. Though the largest party, they don't have an overall majority; they have stated their wish to lead a coalition government.

But as the result became clear Maoist leader Prachanda told journalists “I will be declared the acting President of this country very soon…which will be followed by occupying the post of the all powerful President of New Nepal…this is the peoples’ mandate…no force on earth can disobey this mandate”. ( 26/4/2008); the man who has long talked of his wish to 'abolish royal autocracy' now speaks of his "all powerful" role.

Recent news reports reveal the wages and expenses of the newly elected members of the Assembly. While they spend an indefinite period drawing up a new national Constitution they will be paid - by Nepali standards - enormous wages;each CA member will receive net salaries of 23 thousand one hundred rupees per month [£176/$345/Eur224]. On top of this they'll get expenses for drinking water, electricity, telephone, rent, newspapers & "miscellaneous". These expense allowances bring the total income of a CA member to 45 thousand 98 rupees [£345/$674/Eur437] each per month.

The CA President (probably Maoist Party boss Prachanda) will have a monthly salary/expenses income of 60,600 rupees [£463/$905/Eur588] - plus a petrol allowance of 24,500 rupees [£187/$366/Eur237]. The vice president will scrape by on a few thousand less.

So the ruling class, led by the Maoist 'proletarian vanguard', feather their nest. These salaries must be compared with the Nepali average wage of just $200 a year [£102/Eur129]; Nepal is the poorest country in Asia. Around 10% of the population takes 50% of the wealth, the bottom 40% takes 10%. 85% of Nepalese people don’t have access to health care. So the monthly income of a CA politician is well over three times the annual national average wage! Jobs within the CA are already being allocated by all the various member parties to their friends and family.

In a public appearance last week Maoist leader Prachanda said, “I had the opportunity to play the role of Lenin itself in Nepal”. With his fat salary and perks he is certainly following in Bolshevik footsteps; Lenin travelled in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, as did other government officials. "Autocracy’s main enemy, Vladimir Lenin, had no reservations about inheriting the hated old regime’s automobile collection. Lenin used the Tsar’s Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to drive around town while his colleagues divided up the rest of the collection among them. But two revolutions and a civil war had taken their toll on the cars, and in 1919 [during a time of famine and extreme hardships for the poor] the Council of People’s Commissars had to order 70 more from London." (Aeroflot site). Lenin moved into a dacha (country house) previously owned by a millionaire, while much of the other Bolshevik leadership took occupation of the luxurious Lux hotel in Petrograd,dining on preferential food rations.[1] Then and now, for those who inherit the State, its perks and luxuries are clearly irresistible and seen as just reward for their conquest and devotion to power. And so the new Nepalese republic is born - the furniture and faces at the top have been shifted around a little, and that is all.

There's another interpretation (though less likely) of the reference to Lenin - as a coded pointer towards a historical precedent; that Prachanda's long-term plan is for the Constituent Assembly in Nepal to share the same fate as it did in Russia. When the Bolsheviks were ready to seize sole power for themselves, a revolutionary guard (led by Anatoli Zhelezniakov[2], an anarchist sailor[3]) dismissed the CA, dominated as it was by indecisive bourgeois moderate politicians. The Bolsheviks saw its dissolution as a decisive step in the progress from a bourgeois to a proletarian revolution (though the fact that, unlike Nepal's Maoists, the Bolsheviks did not emerge victorious from the CA elections may have influenced their choices too). The Maoists might, ideally, like to achieve a neat Leninist orthodoxy by replicating this state of affairs, but they know the necessities of 'realpolitik'. External geo-political pressures and economic realities mean that - for the moment, at least - they need to play the democratic game in order to attract foreign investment, so as to try and build up a sound politico-economic base. A strong and stable State power is always a class relation based on efficient exploitation and its rewards.
[1] "Ante Ciliga described what he called the state capitalists' 'morals on the morrow of the October revolution' as follows:
From the first days of the October revolution, the Communist [sic] leaders had shown a great lack of shame in these matters. Having occupied the building, they furnished it with the best furniture from shops that had been nationalized. From the same source their wives had procured themselves fur coats, each taking two or three at a time. All the rest was in keeping. (Ciliga, 1979, p. 121)
Far from the emergence of the privileged consumption enjoyed by the state capitalist class coinciding with Stalin's rise to power, some of the state capitalists of Stalin's day looked back with nostalgia to the comfortable life they had experienced during the early years of Bolshevik rule:
During the winter of 1930 fuel ran short and we had to do without hot water for a few days. The wife of a high official who lived at the Party House was full of indignation. `What a disaster to have this man Kirov! True, Zinoviev is guilty of 'fractionism' but in his day central heating always functioned properly and we were never short of hot water. Even in 1920, when they had to stop the factories in Leningrad for lack of coal, we could always have our hot baths with the greatest comfort.' (Ibid., pp. 121-2)
Another illustration that Stalin was not personally responsible for establishing state capitalist privilege in Russia is that during the period 1923-5, when Stalin had only an old car at his disposal 'Kamenev had already appropriated a magnificent Rolls' (Medvedev - 1979, p. 33)."
( State Capitalism - the wages system under new management, Buick & Crump.)
[2] On Zhelezniakov, see;
[3] The Ukrainian anarchist "Makhno defended that action and explained that Zhelezniakov, a Black Sea sailor and delegate to Kronstadt, had played one of the most active roles in 1917. Makhno merely expressed regret that the fiery sailor, who enjoyed great prestige among his colleagues, had not simultaneously seen fit to dismiss Lenin and his "Soviet of People's Commissars" which "would have been historically vital and would have helped unmask the stranglers of the revolution in good time." "

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