Friday, February 24, 2012

Some Words To Go With ‘Our’ Voices

With the Constituent Assembly once again on its way toward acknowledging its failure in fulfilling its primary responsibility, Maoist hardliners tells us not to worry: their party will unveil the ‘people’s constitution’.
The document would be based on the discussions that took place in various thematic committees of the assembly and would be promulgated only in consultation with the other parties.
But, then, haven’t the Maoists already said the door to compromise has been slammed shut. By whom, it is not clear because it does not seem to matter.
What we do know is this: you cannot promulgate a ‘people’s constitution’ from the streets without letting the people back onto them in massive numbers in time.
What exactly would this constitution supposed resonating with our voices look like? Most of us think we have a fair idea. In a great leap, the People’s Republic of Nepal would likely resemble China not of 1949 but that of the mid-Sixties.
The opposition will have a place in a consultative assembly expected to rubberstamp the official line. The recalcitrant will confront struggle sessions complete with dunce caps. But how might all this be codified in words and paragraphs? Here are some of Maila Baje’s thoughts.
The Preamble: “Chairman Dahal is the great leader of all the nationalities of the country, the head of our proletarian dictatorship state and the supreme commander of the whole nation-whole army. Vice-chairman [Baidya/Bhattarai/Shrestha, take your pick] is Chairman Dahal’s close comrade in arms and successor, and the deputy commander of the whole nation-whole army. The thought of Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the policy leading all the nation's work.”
The People’s Liberation Army: “It is the task of the People’s Republic of Nepal’s armed forces to guard against subversion or aggression by imperialism, social imperialism and their lackeys. The PLA and the people’s militia are led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.”
Fundamental Rights: “The most fundamental rights and duties of citizens are to support Chairman Dahal and his close comrade-in-arms to support the leadership of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal, to support the dictatorship of the proletariat, to support the socialist system, and to observe the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Nepal.”
The State: “The PRN is a full-fledged Socialist state led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.” (The very first paragraph of the Preamble originally contained assurance that the people’s democracy could “build a prosperous and happy Socialist society.” But we understand that was put in abeyance by the party pending a final decision on Dahal’s successor.)
The People: “There is three-level system of ownership within the collective ownership economy. According to that system, ownership is shared by the people’s commune, the production brigade and the production team - the latter being the basic accounting unit within the three-fold system. The right of members of people’s communes to operate small-sized private plots shall be ensured provided that the development and the absolute supremacy of the collective economy is guaranteed.”
The Upshot: This will be Nepal’s first constitution to acknowledge with great pride the country’s status as a dictatorship.
(Edited version of a piece originally posted on May 17, 2010)