The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 28th April 2006

Marchers against NHS cuts in Huddersfield

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by our Asia Correspondent

of thousands of Nepalis danced in the streets of the capital Kathmandu this week on hearing the news that the hated King had agreed to hand over “executive powers” to the political parties and restore parliamentary government.

But while the seven-party opposition alliance called off the demonstrations and general strike that brought King Gyanendra to his knees, the Maoist guerrillas have vowed to continue to fight, dismissing the move as ploy to save the throne.

Gyanendra caved in on Tuesday after a week of violence and bloodshed in Kathmandu as hundreds of thousands of protesters defied curfews and rubber bullets to demand the end of autocracy. Powerless to end the strikes that had paralysed the country, or curb the Maoist guerrillas whose militia controls most of the rural areas, the King has retreated in a last-ditch bid to save his crown.

The seven-party alliance, formed last year and led by the Nepali Congress Party, has chosen a Congress leader and former premier to head the new government. The alliance includes the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and the Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party and it was supported by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), whose People’s Liberation Army has driven the king’s men out of much of the country.

 Communist Party (UML) leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, whose party briefly held parliamentary power in the 1990s, said the formation of a new government would be “the first step towards a constituent assembly”, which would asigned to redraw the constitution.

But the Maoists say that in agreeing the deal with the King, the opposition has betrayed an agreement it made with them in November, which called for fresh elections and an end to an “autocratic monarchy”.

  Gyanendra’s retreat was “a new ploy to break the Nepali people and save his autocratic monarchy”, CPN (Maoist) leader Chairman Prachanda declared.

The CPN (Maoist) forces, who have been fighting a guerrilla war to end the monarchy since 1996, signed a 12-point agreement with the seven parliamentary opposition parties last year that demanded a constituent assembly to decide the nature of the democratic set-up in the country.

 In a late-night TV address on Monday, Gyanendra said: “We are confident that the nation will forge ahead towards sustainable peace, progress, full-fledged democracy and national unity”. But another top Maoist leader, Baburam Bhattarai, made it clear that “the minimum demand is a free election to a constituent assembly”. And until the 12-point agreement was implemented in full, their forces would continue to blockade Kathmandu and all the district capitals throughout Nepal.

The mass protests that swept Nepal took the demand for a democratic republic to the streets for the first time in recent years and Gyanendra has clearly been urged by his friends in Washington and New Delhi to back-track to save the crown.

The King has played the tyrant since February 2005 when he assumed absolute powers has now been forced to act as a “constitutional monarch”. But he will doubtless want to retain control of the armed forces and keep the royal prerogatives which would allow him, or his successors, to dismiss parliament again if they felt they had to.

Wedged between India and People’s China, the poverty-stricken Himalayan kingdom has a strategic importance to India and American imperialism. The Americans want to bring Nepal into their south Asian imperialist axis which includes Pakistan and India. The Congress-led Indian government, unlike its reactionary BJP rivals, has no firm commitment to the monarchy, and it clearly hopes that a Nepali Congress government will be a willing partner in the future.

 None of them want to see the Maoists in power. A Maoist victory with its call for land reform and an end to feudalism could easily fire similar demands in India and its anti-imperialist stance would, the Americans fear, destabilise the whole Himalayas.

But ultimately it’s a question that only the Nepali masses can answer. Over the past few weeks they’ve felt their power in the streets and hills of Nepal and their demands for genuine democracy and social justice must be met, and no king must be allowed to stand in their way.


The meaning of May Day

MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of workers throughout the world are marching on Monday to mark international workers’ day. In the socialist countries the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cuban peoples are holding festivals to celebrate their  revolutionary successes and pay tribute to the struggle of the international working class.

In the developing world, workers and peasants are rallying to rededicate themselves to the struggles ahead against imperialism and oppression. And in the heart of imperialism, in Britain and the other centres of global capitalism, workers march for peace, trade union rights and socialist advance.

Though May Day festivals go back to hallowed antiquity, the modern celebration recalls the grim days of 19th century America.

On 1st May 1886 American workers went on a general strike over the eight-hour day and better working conditions. In Chicago workers were gunned down by the cops during a rally in Haymarket Square. Eight of their leaders were condemned to death on trumped up charges and despite mass protests at this travesty of justice four were hanged the following year.

In 1889 the First Congress of the Second International decided to mark every May Day as a day of remembrance for the Chicago martyrs and international workers’ solidarity. These were the “martyred dead” our Labour Party leaders once honoured, often in their ignorance, when they sang the Red Flag.

But May Day is much more than honouring the dead. It is the one day of the year when the entire world’s labour movement marches in step, east and west, north and south. It is a time for reflection, a time to pause and honour the martyrs who died for the cause and a time for optimism for the socialist future that will liberate the entire human race. It is a powerful symbol of working class unity and strength — a challenge to the capitalist system of oppression, plunder and exploitation which must be ended once and for all.

  Marx and Engels, who spent much of their working lives in Britain, were practical revolutionaries as well as great thinkers. Though they laboured tirelessly to build the working class movement, they knew they would never see socialism in their own lifetimes. Yet they never doubted the inevitability or the necessity for change.

Marx and Engels witnessed the epic days of the Paris Commune in 1871 when working people took destiny into their own hands for the first time in history. The torch of freedom that fanned the fires of the Commune and blazed in Chicago lit the flames of the 1917 Russian Revolution that continues to burn throughout the world.

 The imperialists rejoiced at the counter-revolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. They preached “globalisation” which meant nothing more than the restoration of the old world of colonialism, oppression and exploitation. But a new generation of working class fighters has risen to challenge their “new world order” in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia. Now these imperialist dreams are dying in the mountains of Nepal and the streets of Baghdad.

The revolutionary storm that liberated the Chinese and Korean people; that freed the people of Vietnam and Cuba now steels the Nepalese masses struggling to rid themselves of a hated autocrat.

The lesson of these epic struggles is that socialism can only be won through revolution and that revolution can only be led by a revolutionary party. It can’t be done through elections because when the bourgeoisie is threatened it reaches for its gun and abandons all trappings of democracy. 

It can only be achieved through the mobilisation of the masses – the working class along with a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party around which the class can close ranks around.

This is the meaning of May Day for us and together we are marching forward again. Whether we live to see the day of victory is not important. What we can be certain  is that day will surely come.

Emergency New Worker press appeal

OUR SPECIAL appeal for £3,000 for essential maintenance and repairs on our ageing printing machine is already bearing good fruit, with £395.00 this week, making a total of £445.00 in the pot and £2,555.00 still to raise to make the target.

 A veteran comrade from Nottingham, who sent £50, wrote of a coming Free Festival there. She said: “We’ll do our very best to raise some lovely lolly for you on the day – will our poor printing press hold out that long?”

 The answer is that the money you have already sent has allowed us to book a date for the engineer to come and look at it.

 We suspect it may need new rollers, so keep the money coming. Our folding machine is coming to the end of its life and needs total replacement.

 A Liverpool supporter – a disabled senior citizen – sent £10, saying: “I just couldn’t do without the paper, having read it for so many years.”

 We thank both of you and we thank a South Wales supporter for £50, a Manchester comrade for £10, a Suffolk supporter for £25 and three comrades, all brothers, from Buckinghamshire for £50, £100 and another £100.

 Please keep sending all you can to the New Worker Press Appeal, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ

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