Bampanth The Left

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  • वामपन्थ_दि लेफ्टको दोस्रो अङक असोज पहिलो साता बजारमा आउँदै छ । दोस्रो संस्करण मार्क्सवाद र र संसदीय लोकतन्त्र विशेषाङ्क प्रकाशन गर्नु अघि त्यसको संक्षिप्त ई- संस्करण हाम्रो वेव साइटमा उपलब्ध छ ।

Marxism is even more relevant in contemporary world.

 

Interview:

Pitamber Sharma 

“Capitalism, and subsequent outgrowth as imperialism, is the most advanced and developed form of class exploitation and oppression. Capitalism by its very nature alienates the workers from the fruits of their labor. State power is not class neutral and it is invariably used to serve the interest of the classes that wield power, namely the capitalist class. In order to build a society based on social justice and free from exploitation human society must be freed from class exploitation. It is only then that the free development of each member becomes possible. Therefore, the progressive transformation of society is possible not through the whim of any individual but through radical changes in the relations of production and reproduction. And such a change can only be achieved through a conscious movement for class liberation.”

 

 

  1. You come from a well-to-do family background, what attracted you to Marxism?

 

I was born in a middle-class family in the western hills, was sent to Kathmandu in my younger age, and graduated from a good boarding school. On the year of my SLC exam, there was a student protest against the principal of the boarding school. Unwittingly, I also got involved. That movement of four or five months taught the thirteen-year-old me a lesson – that it was possible for everyone to unite and speak out against any oppression and succeed. It was not necessary to accept the status quo, and the rebellion is justified. This happened in the year 2017BS (1960).

 

While studying in  Trichandra college, I was drawn towards Marxism by the company of leftist friends from Kathmandu and Pyuthan. The rise of the People’s Revolution in China, the achievements of the Soviet Union – some real and some fictional – all attracted me. Books by Edgar Snow, Anna Louis Strong, etc. set the tone. Literature by Gorky, Ostrovsky, Lu Hsun attracted my interest. The idea that a new world without inequality and discrimination could be imagined settled deep inside me. Although I didn’t understand much, I read Marx’s Communist Manifesto for the first time. Later, I read Marx’s critique of political economy, collected works of Lenin and Mao, etc. What was striking in those days was that there was no study group of leftist students so what was studied was the result of informal association. I was never involved in any communist party organization, nor am I today.

 

At that time, there were pro-Panchayat groups, and various non-Panchayat leftist and democratic student groups in the college. All my friends were in the leftist group. Student politics also drew me to the left, although I only became an elected member of the Independent Students’ Union when I was studying for my MA at Tribhuvan University College much later.

 

This may seem like a contradiction to some, but the deeper ideological interest in Marxism grew after I went to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. on a Fullbright scholarship. My major was urban and regional planning and my other two minor areas were rural sociology and development economics. For the sociology course, I chose Andre Gunder Frank’s The Development of Underdevelopment, Emanuel Wallerstein’s The Modern World Systems, peasant rebellion in Latin America and China and Southeast Asia, and Marx’s readings on economics and sociology. I read major portions of the first two volumes of Capital in a study circle during that period. At the same time, I read Mahesh Chandra Regmi’s writings on Nepal’s economic history and Nepal’s land tenure system. After I returned from the US whenever our group called for progressive changes at the University we were labelled Fullbright Marxists.

I was drawn towards Marxism because I believe that for a poor, dependent country like Nepal with pervasive social discrimination Marxism provides a deeper analytical method to understand and facilitate radical changes in the economy and society.

 

2.     How do you understand the leftist movement from that time till now, what do you think are its strengths and weaknesses?

I haven’t really done any systematic study of the leftist movement in Nepal. If by Left we mean individuals and groups who believe in the analytic method of dialectical materialism, who are proponents of progressive socio-economic-political transformation based on a welfare state and social justice, oppose of socio-economic inequality and discrimination,  advocate in favour of Nepal’s free and independent economy, those who believe in the obligation of the state to protect the interests of vulnerable, deprived and basic classes, and those who oppose imperialist exploitation and oppression around the world (communist party and various progressive factions) then some of the strengths and weaknesses of such groups in Nepal can be discerned.

 

But such a big gap has emerged in thought and action among the so-called leftists that one is forced to question whether all those who call themselves leftists truly belong to the left. Even communist parties have become like marketing brands where extreme rightist transactions take place in the name of the left. When the leadership of a party that supposedly believes in dialectical materialism starts rejoicing in the Ram Dham Rathyatra (chariot procession to claim Lord Ram’s birth place) or becomes the keynote speaker in Puranvachan (recitation of sacred Hindu texts), or becomes the facilitator and champion of the exploitative comprador class, and is blindly supported by thousands of “party workers” and “petty leaders”, what is one to think of such parties and their leaders and supporters – advocates of the Indian Hindutva party BJP, or partisans of progressive transformation of Nepali society? Therefore, it is appropriate to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the left groups at two levels – the first is the documented ideological-policy stance of the leftist party or group, and the second is the real behavior of those parties or groups and the aspects of their internal life.

 

From the very beginning, Nepal’s leftists have been taking a clear stand in favor of Nepali nationalism, especially Nepal’s national sovereignty and integrity. From the very beginning, the leftists have stood firm in the belief that Nepal’s nationalism cannot be a bargaining chip. Nepal’s leftist groups have always been vocal in their opposition to international imperialism, opposition to Indian expansionism and in favour of non-aligned foreign policy based on the Panchsheel (the five principles of co-existence). The leftists were among the first to protest against the unequal Peace and Friendship treaty between Nepal and India in 1950. Since the very beginning Nepal’s leftists have opposed the infamous Delhi Accord between the King and the Ranas, with the Nepali Congress as a witness, and declared the so-called revolution of 2007BS (1951) as incomplete. Similarly, the arguments of the left in opposing the recruitment of Nepalis in the service of foreign imperialists in the name of Gurkha recruitment rather than expanding employment opportunities in the country is equally relevant today.

 

Since the very beginning, Nepal’s leftists have not only proclaimed the struggle for civil liberties but have also begun the task of linking the struggle with the movement for liberation from class-based exploitation. The protection of the rights of workers and peasants, the guarantee of the rights of women, the obligation of the state towards the deprived and basic classes, and the advocacy of free basic education were also championed under the leadership of the left. The leftists have been at the forefront in the process of organizing and raising the awareness of the workers and peasants in specific areas, though not in the whole country. The structural problems of the Nepalese economy mainly the unequal distribution of land was strongly raised as one of the fundamental and key agenda for change by the left. Since the 1980s Nepal’s leftists have remained at the forefront in critiquing  the capitalist neoliberal market-oriented policies sponsored and advocated by international financial institutions for their negative impact on the national economy, and especially the livelihoods of the poor and deprived classes. In a fundamental sense, the main credit for the socialist-oriented policies and commitments guaranteed in the new Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nepal goes to the left. The left has also been a strong advocate of proportional and inclusive political representation and a federal system of governance.

 

However, if we look at the nation and people-oriented stance of the left indicated above in terms of actions and implementation, the scenario that has unfolded in the last few decades appears to be quite different. The Mahakali Treaty called into question the nationalist stance of the left. The question of Gurkha recruitment has almost disappeared from the agenda of the left. The leftist stance against social discrimination and untouchability appears hypocritical because the leftist parties have never led a sustained movement and agitation on these issues. On the contrary, the leaders and activists of the leftist parties and groups are found to be discriminating themselves. Proportional representation of Dalits and women remains only symbolic. It is no exaggeration to say that the work of empowering the Dalits, women, Janajati, and Madhesi masses has not been undertaken in any wider societal sense. Although the slogan of land reform is popular among the leftists, no concrete policy and programs have been articulated by any leftist party or group so far and the meaning of “scientific” land reform remains fuzzy as ever. Even rights guaranteed by the Constitution such as basic education and health are not accessible to the basic classes in practice. Indeed, a significant proportion of private education and health services are operated and protected by left leaders and activists. The anti-neo-liberal leftists, even when in government, have not been able to come up with a viable alternative. As an alternative to distress labour migration abroad the left has not come up with a concrete and implementable plan for the increasing income-generating employment within the country. Neither do they have a clear strategy to address the unwanted consequences brought about by increasing urbanization. In spite the so-called three-pillar policy (public, private and cooperative) proposed by the leftists, the efficacy and contribution of cooperatives in the production, distribution, or services sectors remains meagre, and most savings-loan cooperatives that only benefit the operators are run by the supporters of the left. Agriculture, infrastructure, industry, whatever the sector, the left’s policy of promoting national capital is limited to the backing of comprador crony capitalists in various sectors. In fact, looking at the past three decades of the direction and pace of politics and development, which has been dominated by the left in government or in the opposition, it is clear that the country’s progressive transformation has been limited to empty slogans.

 

The internal life of most left parties seems to be even  more problematic. Democratic centralism now seems to be limited to slogans. Parties are no longer democratic in the sense of openly discussing and debating important policy issues at the grassroots level, drawing conclusions, and implementing them on the basis of centralism. Theoretical debates and  two-line struggle have become a thing of the distant past. The style of party leadership of the left parties is reminiscent of feudalism rather than that of a people-oriented party. The greed and bargaining for position, power and state facilities  have become the main concern of the central leadership of the parties. Internal democracy within parties is so constricted that remnants must be sought. The tradition of debate within the party is almost dead, there is therefore no point in studying and learning from experience. Shallow digital-online comments and exchanges have replaced serious study and thoughtful debates. The cornerstone of the left parties is said to be the poor, deprived and basic classes, but this class is seldom represented in leadership from the lowest to the highest levels.  Party leaderships at all levels has gradually but clearly narrowed down to the comprador middle class.

 

The proverb of the western hills  that “the river is on one side while the bridge is on the other”  is being evidenced in the internal life of the parties. This phenomenon has its own logic – in a capitalist system where parties compete on the basis of capital it is those with capital who invariably win the elections! Winning the election to earn enough to win the next election has become the main goal of the candidates. Like the ivory of the proverbial elephant the manifesto is a mere publicity stunt, the real teeth lay hidden.

 

Among left intellectuals there is dearth of objective studies that could guide left political parties and groups in pursuing their mission of progressive social and economic transformation. Nepal’s changing class structure, the interface of ethnicity and class, the problems and prospects of progressive transformation conditioned by Nepal’s transition to capitalism, the implications of international experience on the collective modes of economic development, the nature and forms of the movement against social discrimination and untouchability and commensurate political, economic policies are some of the areas where serious analytical studies are lacking.  

 

  1. How do you view the discussion of integrating the universally valid propositions of Marxism with the specific reality of Nepal and developing socialism with Nepali characteristics?

 

In the context of Marx’s views being interpreted differently, the question of what  the universally valid propositions are acquires significance. I believe, Marxism provides a method of analyzing the socio-economic and political-economy aspects of society. Marxism comprises some generalized logical propositions based on historicity: that the source and basis of all production is labor. The process of production and reproduction is what drives society and makes it dynamic. The control, use and relations of the means of production divides society into classes. Class based socio-economic exploitation is a social reality. In the course of the development of human society, the pattern of class exploitation driven by the need to increase production and productivity has undergone changes. Capitalism, and subsequent outgrowth as imperialism, is the most advanced and developed form of class exploitation and oppression. Capitalism by its very nature alienates the workers from the fruits of their labor. State power is not class neutral and it is invariably used to serve the interest of the classes that wield power, namely the capitalist class. In order to build a society based on social justice and free from exploitation human society must be freed from class exploitation. It is only then that the free development of each member becomes possible. Therefore, the progressive transformation of society is possible not through the whim of any individual but through radical changes in the relations of production and reproduction. And such a change can only be achieved through a conscious movement for class liberation. The intent of the Left parties is to lead such a movement. Marx was a visionary thinker. His analysis focused on how the contradictions inherent in the development and operation of capitalism could be a guide to the prosperous future of human society.

 

 

Even though Nepal has entered the age of capitalism, the remnants of feudalism remain. Ours is a dependent economy. We are not only landlocked, but India-locked. We have not been able to appropriately develop and utilize the resources within our reach to be able to make a positive impact on people’s livelihood. The main components of the economy are mobilized to serve the vested interests of the comprador capitalist class instead of being used to further the national interest. To fulfill our aspirations of moving towards socialism as enshrined in the Constitution, it is essential to achieve, first, a steady increase in national production, productivity, income, and employment, and second, formulate policies and programs with a clear internalization of the state’s obligation towards the majority, i.e, common people and the deprived and basic classes of society.

 

The main accusation against the leftists is that they’re not production oriented and only focus on redistribution. While thinking about socialism in Nepal, the answer to both of the issues raised above should be sought. The state should take the responsibility for the provision of basic services, facilities, and livelihood of the people and at the same time, the state’s participation and facilitation in the development and expansion of the means of production, employment, and income growth also becomes indispensible. Nepal’s reality is that about two-thirds of the state’s GDP comes from the non-state sector. The key question is how to develop a community-based production system while encouraging human freedom and creativity. A related issue is how to make the market mechanism people-oriented. Further, it is not enough to merely identify the obligations of the State, the question of how (and on what basis) to discharge the obligations need to be simultaneously addressed. At a time when there is a massive erosion in the trust and credibility of the State, the policies and programs designed for the orientation towards socialism should also enhance the trust and credibility.

 

What is socialism with Nepali characteristics? What is even “Nepali characteristics” per se? Socialism is not something that can be achieved at one go, what then are the different stages of  socialism? What stage are we now? Socialism may not be limited to the obligations of the state in certain areas. It may be a process of socialization of an ethos, and as such a socio-political process involving sustained campaigns. It may also be influenced by developments in the contemporary world including the developments in technology. In a context where the future of the human race itself is in jeopardy as a result of climate change and its impacts on the environment, it may also be necessary to internalize not only the aspect of human exploitation but also that of the environment in thinking about socialism.  Researchers like Sushana Buzoff have forcefully argued that technology companies such as Facebook (Meta), Twitter, and Google and the like are transforming the very nature of democracy and capitalism into “surveillance capitalism” which is now strengthening  the forces of monopoly and fascism. Discussions and debates on these aspects related to socialist orientation have not even started in Nepal. I feel such discussions should be an inescapable part of discussions among those in the left.

 

4.     Critics posit that  the UML’s “people’s multi-party people’s democracy ” and the Maoists’ “people’s democracy of the twenty-first century” are mere ideological propositions for moving from election to election, what are your thoughts?

 

The 5th General Convention of the CPN (UML) in 1994 had passed the propositions  of JABAJA (short for Janatako Bahudaliya Janabad or People’s Multi-party peoples democracy) under the title “Program of Nepali Revolution, People’s Multiparty Peoples Democracy”. Irrespective of what is interpreted between the lines, the UML’s “people’s multi-party people’s democracy” is an acknowledgment that the aspirations of the Communist Party, whatever they might be, can be achieved through a Westminster-style multi-party parliamentary system. The supremacy of the constitution, the principle of pluralistic open society, the principle of separation of powers, the protection of human rights, the attainment of political rights by the people on the basis of multi-party competition, periodic elections, majority government-minority rule of law are all features of multi-party democracy. The people’s democratic revolution led by the proletarian working class has been called multi-party people’s democracy. It seems to be an inherent understanding of the UML party, that since it sees itself as the authority of leading the proletariat, ipso facto, the people’s democratic dictatorship is established as and when the party acquires state power through multi-party competition.

 

The acquisition of state power in JABAJA’s insistence has to be understood as the democratic dictatorship of the people. Since the state is a means of class control, with the attainment of state power, it is the understanding of JABAJ that  Nepali society can then transition towards the development of new production relations  and socialism through the means of  anti-feudalism, anti-imperialist revolution. The process of gaining power through multi-party competition which apparently is tantamount to a “revolution” is people’s  multi-party peoples democracy or JABAJ. JABAJA provides no explanation for the radical changes expected and the mode and nature of such a revolution, except for a generalized outline of programs in various sectors. For any change-aspiring leftist party the foundation of people’s power essentially rests on its ability to simultaneously advance on two fronts – the class mobilization front and the parliamentary front. Although there is a general mention of the youth movement and peasant movement, there is no framework for class mobilization under the JABAJA. The document states that the peaceful struggle for the implementation of progressive programs after the establishment of people’s power can take other forms too. But in the context of such a struggle Nepal’s class structure and its mobilization for retaining power should have been a primary concern but there is no such mention in the JABAJA document. There is no road map of how a dictatorship of the people can be sustained in bourgeois competitive politics without continuously establishing itself among the people. Weaknesses of the multi-party democratic system and the reforms needed are not discussed in the JABAJA program. One can easily assume that the repeat of the word  “People’s” in “people’s multiparty peoples democracy” which by itself entails the power of the people  smacks of merely giving a revolutionary appearance to it.

 

By the very fact that state power is gained through electoral competition, the primary objective of JABAJA is to win the election by any means. Since periodic elections are held, one has to win elections continuously to achieve the desired “revolution”. The journey of change then becomes naturally a journey from one  election to another. In a capitalist style system of election, capital dominates and the accumulation of capital becomes the main objective of gaining power. Nepal’s experience of the past decades is a testament to this process.

 

Compared to JABAJA, Maoists in their document  “Peoples Democracy of the 21st century” passed by the Central Committee meeting of May 2003,  are more focused on the question of justifying the people’s war in Nepal and expanding the scope of its achievements. Pointing out the danger of deviation from the revolutionary movement, emphasis has been placed on uniting the Nepali revolution with the broader anti-imperialist public front. China’s cultural revolution has been hailed as a model of continuous revolution, and contemporary China is said to be on the path of capitalism. The need to adopt an organizational method within the party for monitoring and serving the proletariat and the necessity for the cadres to demonstrate revolutionary ethics has been emphasized. The continuous democratization of state power, liberation from class, regional, ethnic, and gender based oppression, ethnic and regional self-governance with the right to self-determination, and creation of an anti-feudalism and anti-imperialist party apparatus have been portrayed as the tasks of the people’s revolution. But there is no analysis or explanation about any of these tasks.

 

The talk of revolution looms large in “21st Century Peoples Democracy”. However, the plight of the common man, the existing structure  of the vulnerable and the basic classes and their livelihood predicaments of income and employment, the discrimination they experience in everyday life, and the obligation of the state in socio-economic transformation are all subsumed in the abstraction of the people’s revolution. People’s Democracy is political power that favors the people. How to achieve such power, what are its primary functions – in areas such as agriculture, land reform, industry, job creation, end of social discrimination, basic social services and facilities, etc. – are not to be found in the document.

 

The present reality is that the party leadership is alienated from the proletariat and the masses, and in the words of the document itself, it has been position-greedy and privileged. One has to search hard for leaders and activists who could serve as examples of the party ideals. Seen from the eyes of the downtrodden, the justification and rational of the achievements of the people’s war gained through the sacrifices of so many people itself seems to be a challenge indeed.

 

In the “21st Century Peoples Democracy”, the Maoist party’s attitude towards the multi-party system and the expected role of the party in multi-party competitive politics do not find mention because that was not the context of that time. But seen from the standpoint of practice since then, it is difficult to distinguish between JABAJA-clad UML and Maoists upholding people’s democracy of 21st century in terms of the standards of party’s leadership and conduct, policies and pro-people orientation. JABAJA has at least a program even though it is incomplete, whereas there is no mention at all  of program in the 21st century Peoples Democracy document.  But the experience of the past 15 years indicates that the destination of both is “ from one election to another election” while peddling the attractive slogans of the Left.   There are no concrete, practical and implementable program of the parties on the key agenda of the left such as land reform, support for small and marginal peasants, co-operatives, basis and forms of industrialization, the establishment of a rights-based approach in areas like education, health, employment, a comprehensive campaign against social discrimination, nor any strategy for sustained political mobilization which is necessary for implementation of such programs.

 

5.     Nepal is now in the midst of an intensifying geopolitical rivalry between India, the US, and China, and analysts surmise that the Left forces may have to endure its first blow. What are your views?

 

It is a fact that India’s siding with the US against China in alliances like Indo-Pacific and Quad has intensified the geopolitical rivalry in the region. The Indian establishment, which has traditionally been chanting the slogan of non-alignment, is no longer non-aligned in any real sense. In this context it can easily be assumed that our country situated between China and India, may be caught between two world powers in both economic and strategic terms. The attitude of the Indian bureaucracy and those in power towards Nepal has always been plagued by a bias, a binary vision- if (Nepal is) not with India  then (it is) with China. Hence it is only natural that the left forces questioning India’s political-economic-strategic intentions in Nepal should invite the  wrath of both India and the United States. Left forces would be targeted by both these powers.

 

The fluidity of Nepal’s politics is evident from the changing political equations resulting in formation and reformation of governments over the years. Again, the role of external forces in these equations cannot be underestimated. But the more polarized Nepal’s politics becomes between the nationalist left and the Indo-US alliance, one can assume that the political space for the genuine left forces will also expand. In the ongoing MCC debate the manner in which overt and covert supporters of the US and the MCC are inordinately active is generating a psychology in people’s mind: why is it that the US and MCC supporters are hovering on the MCC program as if the entire future of the country is dependent on it when in reality the MCC comprises only 1/30th (50 billion NRs) of Nepal’s annual budget. Nepal government can easily execute such programs from its own coffers as annual budgetary capital expenditure of the Government of Nepal amounts to only 60-65% of the annual earmarked capital expenses.

 

6.     It is also a fact that the left movement is now shrinking and limited to a few countries, that too in various forms and colors, and the contemporary relevance of Marxism has also been questioned. What is your take ?

 

It is true that the world communist movement has been seriously damaged in many countries. An objective analysis of this state of affairs does not seem to have come from the left. Marxism is only a method of analyzing political economy, it is not a roadmap for governance and it is not complete in itself. Each country differs in its historical experience, objective conditions, class structure  and the factors that influence it, and also in the manifestations of socio-economic contradictions. It is through the examination and synthesis of these differences in a dynamic context that the left movement has to move forward in every country – with the aim of nurturing a creative society free from exploitation to ensure the free development of each and all. The premise of Marxism is that the existing socio-economic system is an outcome of  historical relations of production, and such relations can be changed. But that requires a corresponding class consciousness and its mobilization. The left movement is expected to move forward through the creative interaction of theory and practice/experience. The absence of this process should be a major factor in the shrinking of the left movement. The gap between slogans and action seen in the functioning of many communist parties and the decline of socialist ethics are no less responsible for this.

 

Marx’s main interest was in dissecting the capitalist system, and in that sense, his focus was on the analysis of its political economy. For “Marxists” who seek to find everything in Marx’s writings, the question of explaining the growing global identity movement over the past century has become an awkward subject. It is true that the caste system of South Asia and the lack of satisfactory class-based analysis for its persistence has become problematic for Marxists. The fact that the effects of social evils such as patriarchy and untouchability run much wider and deeper than capitalist relations per se should be reflected not only in the methods of analysis of the left but should appear in the forefront of the left movement. But in other respects, Marx was much more far-sighted than his contemporaries. Not only was Marx aware of the effects of environmental imbalances, but his analysis of how the relationship between socialist man and nature should be expressed was profound and immensely relevant.

 

Criticisms of one-party communist rule in terms of restrictions imposed on individual freedom, civil society movements, restrictions on human rights, lack of participatory democratic methods and governance process, wide control of the state in all economic activities, and state’s omnipresent presence and interference have been made not only by the non-left but also by the leftists themselves. The biggest challenge for the left is the development of a theoretical and practical model of socialism based on collective action that can address the weaknesses of (present and erstwhile) communist rule and liberate mankind from the social, economic, political, and environmental effects of capitalist exploitation. With the development of technology, capitalism has acquired a terrifying power that can even surveil people’s likes and behavior. The characteristic of contemporary capitalism is that it has turned not only the environment for profit but also the people, their personal information, relationships, thoughts, creations into profitable products or commodities. All kinds of financial instruments are being developed to keep capital dynamic and moving. The goal of capitalism is to protect profit, not life and the world around us. The purpose of socialism should be to provide an alternative to this.

 

Capitalism is now in extreme crisis. The relevance of Marxism in the context of contradictions exacerbated by contemporary capitalism has not diminished but has  increased even more. Even mainstream economists like Joseph Stiglitz are now advocating for progressive capitalism as political power corrupts markets and generates socio-economic inequality. Economist Mariana Majjucato argues that the  alternative to profit-oriented capitalism should be capitalism serving the stakeholders (i.e., the people) and devoted to the wider interests of society. In her view, the myths established by neo-liberal capitalism – that only the private sector is efficient, that government work is only to fix market problems and the market should be left free, that government should be run as an enterprise, that outsourcing public sector activities to the private sector results in risk-free quality work – need to be demolished to strengthen the role of the state in favor of stakeholders.

 

 

The problems created by capitalism in the contemporary world — the widening gap between classes and extreme economic inequality, increasing relative poverty, environmental degradation, and ecological imbalance, increasing exploitation of limited natural resources, increasing investment in financial markets, increasing planned obsolescence, increasing military spending to protect imperialist interests, exploitation of resources for the benefit of the tiny 1% , unsustainable  lifestyles of a few developed countries (and even limited number of people in these countries), rapid climate change and a warming planet, increasing risk of global pandemics etc. — – cannot be solved by the “intelligence” of the market. It is true that the market is blind for it sees only profit like the proverbial bull which lost its sight when there was greenery everywhere. The capitalist logic of capital accumulation has to be broken to conceive of an exploitation less, free and creative human community in this blue planet based on participatory collective actions and in harmony with its ecology. Marx’s thoughts and methods can be a guide here. For Marx, the meaning of freedom was broad. In his view, democracy should be a symbol of liberation not only of the bourgeoisie but also of the emancipation of all, and only then can a society be built where the free development of each can be a condition for the free development of all.

About The Author

Pitamber Sharma. Former Professor of Geography, Tribhuvan University, and former Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission of Nepal. He is currently associated with Resources Himalaya Foundation, a not-for-profit organization working on environment and livelihood issues in the Himalayas. He has worked widely on issues of urbanization, environment, tourism and regional development. His publications include Urbanization in Nepal (1989), Market Towns in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas (2000),Tourism as Development (2001), Unravelling the Mozaic (2008), and Some Aspects of Nepal’s Social Demography (2014). He holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from Cornell University, USA.

त्रिभुवन विश्वविद्यालयका भूगोलका पूर्वप्राध्यापक तथा राष्ट्रिय योजना आयोगका पूर्वउपाध्यक्ष डा.पीताम्बर शर्मा हाल हिमालयमा वातावरण र जीविकोपार्जनका मुद्दाहरूमा काम गर्ने गैर–लाभकारी संस्था रिसोर्स हिमालय फाउन्डेसनसँग आबद्ध छन् । उनले शहरीकरण, वातावरण, पर्यटन र क्षेत्रीय विकासका विषयमा व्यापक रूपमा अनुसन्धानमूलक काम गरेका छन् । उनका प्रकाशनहरूमा अर्बनाइजेसन इन नेपाल (१९८९), मार्केट टाउन्स ईन द हिन्दुकुश माउन्टेन (२०००), टुरिज्म एज डेभलपमेन्ट (२००१), अनरेभलिङ द मोजाइक (२००८), र सम आस्पेक्टस अफ नेपाल्स सोसल डेमोग्राफी (२०१४) समावेश छन्। उनले संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकाको कर्नेल विश्वविद्यालयबाट शहरी र क्षेत्रीय योजनामा पीएचडी गरेका छन्।