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This article was first published in The eXile on November 27, 2002

Ever wanna go to Kathmandu? Not me. I was never a hippie. The hippie types always talked about heading off to Nepal for spiritual enlightenment, but it sounded like my idea of Hell: a bunch of grimy beggars grabbing at you, yelling gibberish, trying to sell you yak dung as prime-grade hash. Some of the old acid casualties in my community college classes had been there and always said it was a real deep experience, but it didn’t seem to’ve done those zombie trolls much good. Most of them were on SSI, paid by the State of California to watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island and not bother anybody with their acid flashbacks.

The first sign most people had that things weren’t so peace’n’lovey in Nepal was June 2001, when the whole Nepalese royal family got wiped out over dinner. Turned out to be the old story: bratty son wants to marry a local slut, Dad says no, bratty son has a tantrum. Except this little prince had his tantrum with an automatic rifle. One of those classic dinner-table arguments, like in American Beauty or something. “Dad, can I marry Devi?” “No, no, no. Now eat your curry.” “‘Scuse me…gotta, um, wash my hands.” And before Daddy and Mummy and sisters and brothers can dig into their chicken koorma, the li’l prince is back, peppering the whole dining room with lead. The whole family wiped out before the entree, just like King Ralph.

You gotta hand it to the Prince, though. I mean, that’s love. “Honey, I shot the folks.” I bet his girlfriend was real touched. Nothing says “I love you” like wiping out your entire family.

Still want to go to Kathmandu? Well, it gets worse. Way worse. That hot-tempered prince wasn’t the only person in Nepal sayin’ it with automatic rifles these days. Turns out there’s a big, bloody, serious Maoist revolution going on there right now. Man, Bob Seger is gonna be bummed. I still can’t really believe it myself. Maoists in Kathmandu? Nepal is where rich liberal assholes like Dianne Feinstein go “trekking.” It’s not where you expect to find Charlie, up there at 20,000 feet with the Gurkhas and the Sherpas.

But it’s a fact: they’ve got a Maoist insurrection, and a big one too. Been going on since 1996. It started out in the classic way: the local Communist Party split between the peaceniks who just want to go handing out leaflets, and the hotheads who want to start fighting now. The hotheads won out, the Nepalese commies split up, and the two or three dozen university types who always dreamed of being the local Che Guevara headed for the hills to radicalize the Nepalese peasants.

They found the peasants already pissed off, in the mood to go off and kill some landlords. You don’t think of Nepal as having masses of oppressed peasants, but some of the stuff I’ve been reading is pretty gross: people selling themselves and their whole families to the local landlord just to get malaria medication. Seriously: a peasant gets sick, figures anything’s better than dying, and uses his family as collateral for the money he needs to get malaria medication. When he gets better, he and his wife and kids are the property of the local loanshark.

Slavery was actually legal in Nepal till a couple of years ago. You could buy whole families if you needed household help. Sometimes the debts were a hundred years old: because granddad had bad luck with the dice, all his kids, for ever and ever, were slaves. Little kids working 18-hour days, every day, for no money, for life. Hell, with a life like that, Ashcroft’d turn into a Maoist.

So if you’re living a miserable life as a Nepalese slave, and a nice clean-cut Maoist recruiter sneaks into the village one night and tells you it’s all gonna change and all you have to do is learn a few of Mao’s little inspirational haiku and hack your landlord to death…well, I have to say, I’d join up myself. And these recruiters were university types, all clean-cut and inspiring. The peasants must’ve been dazzled just to see’em, Nepal’s finest, paying attention to them and their grubby villages. They joined up, and the revolution started cranking.

nepal_maoists

Mao’s battle-plan is simple. It can be adapted to almost any country as long as you’ve got the basic ingredients: mean landlords, hungry peasants, educated city people who couldn’t care less what’s happening in the countryside. In other words: if you’ve got a really fucked-up agricultural country. Nepal had that.Mao’s plan doesn’t take military geniuses to make it work. What it does take is lots and lots of discipline and patience, because you must avoid battle until the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor. So the first rule is: No Hotheads Need Apply.

Step one is to work the villages. The university-trained commie recruiters fan out into the villages and radicalize the locals — which isn’t too hard when the landlords have been buying and selling peasants like mules.

The next part is harder: you set up a shadow government. You don’t attack the local police or army at this stage — you try to make them irrelevant. Instead of taking complaints to the cops, peasants take their quarrels to a People’s court that meets in a shed at night. Instead of paying regular taxes, you pay people’s taxes to a guy who comes around at night with a notebook and a bag. The idea is to isolate the cops, tax collectors and other informers — to “put out the eyes” of the government in the area, so that by the time you’re ready to attack, they won’t have any intelligence system worth the name and you’ll take them completely by surprise.

Of course, it’s never as neat as the way Mao laid it out in the little red book. People talk, the cops know something’s going on. And in Nepal, “cops” doesn’t mean a squadcar with two guys in it. The Nepalese police are organized in paramilitary units dispersed in barracks across the countryside, with dozens or even hundreds of men armed with automatic rifles, heavy machineguns, light armored vehicles and air cover on request. These cops know that if they lose their grip on the villages, they’ll wake up some night to find their barracks overrun. They start bringing in likely suspects and working out on them, using whatever form of torture is traditional in these parts.

There are 90,000 cops/soldiers fighting for the new King, up against at least 10,000 guerrillas. That’s not good odds for the government. Conventional wisdom says you need at least 10 soldiers for every guerrilla, but that’s assuming your troops are as good, man for man, as the guerrillas. The Nepalese cops/soldiers aren’t very good. The leader of the rebels (who’s from the upper class himself, naturally) said recently “The King’s army will not fight for very long.” He’s probably right.

The landlords know it too. They can feel their grip on the locals getting weaker. Scary grafitti on the walls, people not bowing and scraping the way they used to….They start calling their cousins in Kathmandu, begging them to send more troops. It all starts heating up.

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38 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. Iok Sotot, Eater of Souls  |  October 12th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Oh Gary, where are you? There are wars breaking out all over the place. We need your wit and wisdom now more than ever.

  • 2. Alex  |  October 12th, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Great/fascinating essay. Any good articles I should look into as to the current situation in Nepal?

  • 3. cult of skaro 24  |  October 12th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    “They may win inside Nepal, but their talk about “planting the red flag on Mount Everest” ain’t gonna happen. Where would Dianne Feinstein go trekking? The folks who run this world wouldn’t let anything get in the way of their expeditions up K2 or Everest.”

    November 27, 2002

    7 years later…

    Prime Minister Prachanda
    nuff said.

  • 4. DaShui  |  October 12th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    India is fighting their own Maoist revolution in 40% of their territory and not winning.

  • 5. cult of skaro 24  |  October 12th, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    goooo…..Naxalites!!!

    eh, DaShui?

    Interesting side note.
    The same week that India decriminalized homosexuality they banned the Communist Party (Maoist). To me this symbolizes that the congress party is for the most part adopting US style liberalism.

    Thoughts from any experts, or people with some real knowledge of that area.

  • 6. jimmy james  |  October 12th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    So, okay, I’m an ignorant American.

    Are the commies improving Nepal?

  • 7. xyz  |  October 12th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Gary, you are falling behind. You have just ‘found’ about Maoists in Nepal. Just proves what I always knew and argued in the comments – you dont know shit about south Asia.
    Nepal is just a little piece in strategic game that China is playing. The Nepali Maoists are vehemently anti India and want to review all the special treaties Indo Nepal treaties. China pumps in arms, money and fake Indian currency through the porous Indo Nepal border to the Maoists in India. The Pakistani ISI with the encouragement of China set up bases in Nepal to support their jihad in India. Maoist terrorism is a serious threat, as serious as Islamic jihad. Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh are just launch pads for China’s covert ops against a very weak India.

  • 8. mmmm_cake  |  October 12th, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    xyz:
    You might wanna check the date when gary wrote the article.

    Good read. I guess the only part of the story gary got wrong is Westerners “letting” the Maoist take power, but maybe it’s because there were alot more pressing global issues at the time.

    I’d love to hear a brief explaination of the political climate that forced the monarchy to give up power? Something I would care to read about for a few minutes then don’t give a crap about for the rest of my life.

  • 9. xyz  |  October 13th, 2009 at 8:26 am

    @mmmm_cake I know it was written in 2002, still about a decade late. By 2002 the Maoist victory was inevitable.

  • 10. asking  |  October 13th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    What’s up with the Nerd? H1N1?

  • 11. John  |  October 13th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    By far the best political commentary on the entire internet; nothing else even comes close. Sane, rational Maoist analysis? On my internet?

  • 12. Allen  |  October 13th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    It’s well past due for another Nerd’ article. What gives? Is the Nerd just trying to survive these days in the post-apocalyptic remains of Fresno? Or has he mysteriously vanished along with a number of other Exiled contributors/pseudonyms to parts unknown?

  • 13. cult of skaro 24  |  October 13th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Still haven’t heard from anyone about any context or anything.

    Maoists, making anything better. Also just found out Prachanda resigned after failing to sack the army chief.

    Fail:(

  • 14. Paul  |  October 13th, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    I love your articles for the political commentary, but do you really have to make it so obvious that you’re fat and friendless whenever possible?

    ‘haha, fuck those hippies for making fun of me, I hope they get kidnapped by rural guerrillas’

    Really?

  • 15. aleke  |  October 13th, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    @Paul

    Woah, you mean the War Nerd has a schtick? No way!!!

  • 16. Iok Sotot, Eater of Souls  |  October 14th, 2009 at 6:51 am

    4 those guys that want more on the Maoists in India I found this very interesting.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/28/author_arundhati_roy_on_conflicts_and

  • 17. Chema Pino Suarez  |  October 15th, 2009 at 12:18 am

    How can you not want to root for a side called the Naxalites? X is a cool fucking letter and Naxalite sounds like some sort of bad ass alien civilization.

  • 18. cult of skaro 24  |  October 15th, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Yeah they’re pretty cool. And they actually have real power in a few states. Political I mean.

  • 19. Frank  |  October 16th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    That’s rehashed old shit, the Nepalese monarchy has been overthrown, Maoists part of the government, no big revolution as you predicted. But like every left wing radical, once they give you a piece of the action like they did in Nepal you play ball just like the old school. To wit, Brazil’s current “left-wing” government.

  • 20. orangeplus  |  October 17th, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Gary, my brother, your letting us down. Ok, sure, I understand, the Tigers going down can take a lot out of a war nerd. Those folks were always up for a fight and they held on for so long, but hey, the good times go, but they come back.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/17/pakistan-sends-troops-against-taliban

    You’ve got a big show going on in Pakistan, pushing the talibs north, and the continuing big show in afghanistan, pushing the talib south. All these folks talkin’ Al Queda has been destroyed in Afghanistan, which makes me wonder just how much they existed in the first place. You’ve got a good book, Afghanistan: A Military History, to play it off on, and any number of foreign nihilists, religious fanatics, global NGO do-gooders, Western hypocrits, European pansies wanting out, Clueless Americans and bored locals all pouring money and blood into a great big pot. You’ve got awesome characters from self-obssessed COIN experts, hard local warlords, and mixed bag of grunts galore. Will the wave crash on the mountains and everyone go home without accomplishing anything, or is this the Pashtu Gotterdammerung?

    Get up off your fat ass and write. I know way too much about Victorville than I ever wanted to know and you guys don’t post pics of pretty Russian party girls anymore, I need some blood to keep my interest! If you keep up this silence, we’re going to have to assume you have a girlfriend. And frankly, I don’t think your readership can stand the level of self-reflective shame that will kick off.

  • 21. Ajay  |  October 18th, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Gary seems to be a little out of touch. Maoists hold political power in Nepal much to India’s discomfort. They roam freely on the streets of Katmandu. The revolution never happened. It was a pre-mature delivery.

    Maoists in India are being handled by Central police force, and the maoists are losing whatever little ground they held.

  • 22. orangeplus  |  October 18th, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashtunwali

  • 23. AussieDrongo  |  October 21st, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Where are you Gary? We miss you :(

  • 24. WarNerd4prez  |  October 28th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    No more Reruns! We want Gary back!

  • 25. WarNerdReader  |  October 29th, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    @Gary
    dont make me go and register
    Get Your Fat Ass On The Chair n Type.com

    @Mark
    Stop reposting these old pieces, it ruins Gary’s refinement

  • 26. Pizza de Oveja  |  November 3rd, 2009 at 8:02 am

    While I think it would be great for Gary to get a chick so he finally start’s doing some “positive-reinforcement stuff.” I hope it is not the case that some hot hippie did finally found him and has turned him away from us readers.
    I would be happy for him but unhappy for us!

  • 27. אברהם  |  November 6th, 2009 at 11:45 am

    @orangeplus

    Definitely. I’d love to see Brecher’s take on Andrew Exum, Hakimullah Mehsud, McChrystal, hell, the whole cast of the shitshow

  • 28. Justin  |  November 13th, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Xyz, why the fuck do you still hang around if you find what gary has to say so bleeding useless? you literally fill these comments with pages and pages of shit that nobody reads and yet you are still here? what gives?

  • 29. orangeplus  |  November 18th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Three months motherfucker! No new content in three months! Did peace break out and no one told me?!?!

  • 30. WarnerReader  |  November 19th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Guys, what is happening for fucks sake?
    I demand a moderator share with us whether Gary has found a chick or won the lottery and indulging heavy shit now…….

    Will he be contributing to exile again or what??????????????????????????????????

  • 31. Antonio B.  |  December 2nd, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Please. This is all I have to look forward to…. Please.

  • 32. Justin  |  December 3rd, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Gary! why have you forsaken us?!?!

  • 33. xyz  |  December 10th, 2009 at 9:18 am

    beacuse i have nothing better to do then say shit all day long what the fuck do u care anyways if u say no one reads my “pages” how wud u know about me say he has useless stuff

  • 34. xyz  |  December 10th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Dear Justin you fat ass peice of shit because i have nothing better to do then to sit around all day long talking shit about gary’s fat ass and what the fuck do you care if you said no one cares about my “pages” how would you know that what i say about gary is useless

  • 35. Justin  |  December 21st, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    More indian/paki yapping. No one cares how butt-hurt you are about your country’s evident lack of balls and FFS learn to fucking spell, I thought your 2 dollar/hour telemarketer slut of a mother taught you some fucking English.

  • 36. Jack  |  August 22nd, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Jiang Zemin, not Zhiang.

    Sort your pinyin out, mate, arguments are lost over less. Good general outline of Maoist guerrilla tactics, though.

  • 37. anuj  |  September 12th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    hey…that’s not complete.why don’t you(writer)try to write about the “muslim” countries involvement…did all money and arm’s really come from china or there were some other countries behind it ending the time of the last “hindu” country.

  • 38. anuja  |  September 12th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    hey…that’s not complete.why don’t you(writer)try to write about the “muslim” countries involvement…did all money and arm’s really come from china or there were some other countries behind it ending the time of the last “hindu” country.


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