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Understanding Democracy From Working Class Perspectives

By       Message Mohan Nepali     Permalink
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Workers of the world observe May 1 Global May Day. Although the international day is mainly related to the workers' labor movement, its rationale works for all sectors in human society. The basic of the Global May Day is that labor is fundamental to the development of human society from political, socio-economic and scientifico-technological perspectives.

Labor today does not concern merely factory workers mainly using their bodily force. The latest meaning of labor is the work involving both mental and physical efforts geared towards gaining economic returns or productivity in any sense. Moreover, labor refers to the philosophical concept of working-class people who strive to gain access to political power that has the potential to have power in other sectors.

People in general are workers. Government leaders, should they devote themselves to the causes of people, are also workers. But the reality in general is contrary in the world.

Innumerable legal documents exist saying that all human beings are equal from a human rights point of view -- a global standard that defines "all human beings" as human beings deserving equal dignity and access without state-imposed discrimination and atrocities.

Although there is no dispute that labor is the primary factor of production of wealth and power in society, the perspectives on democracy within that society differ, ranging among feudalism, rightism, capitalism and leftism.

Feudalists, capitalists, rightists and leftists all exploit people as much as they can. So far they have defined this age-old labor exploitation as democracy. For this reason, "democracy" sounds rather phony to the majority of working class people in the world.

Within the United States of America itself, Abraham Lincoln's definition of democracy has been utterly ridiculed into the monopolist democracy of multi-national private corporations, heavily influencing the formulation of the US foreign policy geared towards the multi-nationalization of war industry that apparently tries to colonize the nations in both covert and overt ways.

Just look at civil wars going on in many nations of the world. What brands of arms do they use? Both states and rebel forces need arms in their civil wars. Where do they get arms from? Where do they get money from? Both state and rebel forces may think that they are getting financial and arms assistance; however, it is the long-term investment of global war industry that has linkages with ruling elites and arms mafia.

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The burning example to support this statement is the current situation in Mexico where drug traffickers openly run the country by massacring hundreds of ordinary people who refuse to cooperate with the mafia rule. The state has been a shield to protect mafia "heroes" in the country. A highly dullified majority silence remains there. Due to metastatic effects of cancerous corruption, bribery and ill-governance, people and even conscious civil society leaders prefer to think of their own security rather than risk their lives by advocating against the mafia rule in the country.

Nepal is gradually heading towards the path of Mexico because the "state" (if indeed it can be referred to as state on the basis of political and democratic principles and philosophical tenets) has been a mere spectator to all kinds of evil deeds in the country. Market prices have skyrocketed, ranging from 100 percent to 1000 percent. No economists, civil society leaders, journalists and donor-driven lobbyists bother to discuss it. The government looks like a prisoner detained by the mafia and black-marketeers.  

In Nepal's plains known as the Terai, dozens of small robbery gangs under the tag of liberation fighters -- indirectly linked to various parties -- buy weapons from Indian gangs, also linked to Indian ruling parties. The major parties in both Nepal and India know this truth; however, they choose to ignore it because they believe they could somehow use such armed gangs if and when they need them. As state apparatuses have failed to protect people from such gangs, people in the Terai feel they lack the institution called state. Consequently, most of the working-class people prefer to go to Gulf countries for work as their domestic environment does not allow them to work and live safely.

Long queues of working class Nepalis trying to get passports in Nepal proves the above statement. For an average US$150-200, the majority of working class youths leave their country by the thousands every year. Government leaders appreciate the remittance brought home by the Nepali workers from foreign countries. Their viewpoint is not only unscientific but also anti-development, because not being able to manage the active population within the country is a sign of bankrupt politics. It is not within bankrupt leaders' understanding that the remittance earned by the Nepali workers goes back to foreign countries because Nepal has an economy that imports foreign goods and services for the highest margins of a few business families. The country does not have a production economy. In a growing interdependent world, having both import and export business is a must. Therefore, Nepal's realities concretely suggest that Nepal will not easily climb up the ladder of economic progress unless the country adopts a production economy.

In the absence of a production economy, a feudalist mindset will prevail. This will further reinforce criminalization of politics, resulting in the expansion of armed gangsterism as an industry.

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Not only on the annual workers' day, but every day, it is necessary to think of the working class people's life status -- analyzing how they manage to live lives of human dignity with so little income. At least intellectual workers (who are also unable to live adequate lives) need to exercise a bit more towards creating worker-friendly opinion regarding the implementation of human rights covenants such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It's ironic that working class people in Nepal, trapped in battles for bread, are deprived of the human rights enshrined in treaties and commitments to which Nepal is a party.

The current realities of the world show that the United Nations has been forced to spend more money on wars, be they civil wars or US-led invasions. More attention from the UN to the implementation of human rights in nations of the world could play a crucial role in neutralizing civil wars, and would ultimately discourage the multi-national war industry dedicated to the money-mongering tastes of demonic minds.

The job of countering criminal networks is not that easy. Criminal networks mostly work through political apparatuses, which is not surprising at all. So long as criminal networks prevail among any country's political forces, no government formed, even one after another, will cater to the interests of the working class people in Nepal or anywhere else.

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Mass Communication and Journalism Lecturer, Kathmandu

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