|By Rajesh Tyagi in Delhi|
|Friday, 30 May 2008|
|The newly elected Constituent Assembly in Nepal, a fallout of the April uprising of 2006, is now in motion. It has made a formal declaration of an end to the monarchy, with a ‘graceful’ exit for it.
As a system of governance, the monarchy had already lost all its steam since the great people’s uprising of April 2006, while the forces of medieval reaction ‑ hitherto protected under the wings of the monarchy in Nepal ‑ were already adapting with Nepali bourgeois rule. Because of this, the abolition of the monarchy in Nepal as a state system, and the consequent emergence of a republic, has but a limited significance. This is in sharp contrast to the bourgeois overturns in 19th century Europe, where the emergence of bourgeois republics, represented a turn in world history. In 21st century Nepal, such a republic (although a step forward in bourgeois democratic terms) is of no real meaning and of no practical use for the people of Nepal, unless and until it puts power directly in the hands of the working class and through it the peasantry. Power would be meaningless until it is directed against the bourgeois.
Old school of Stalinism and Maoism
Unfortunately, in Nepal, the Communist leadership, miseducated in the old schools of Stalinism and Maoism, neither has any perspective nor is ready to lead the proletariat to take power. It instead, seeks the power in collaboration with bourgeois/landlords. Its failure to comprehend the true mechanics of revolution in Nepal has resulted in missing the great opportunities to accomplish the revolution, which had presented them again and again.
The great tide of revolutionary upsurge of April 2006 against the old bourgeois-monarchist regime in Nepal receded after the leadership failed to take that historic movement to its logical conclusion – the destruction of monarchy and seizure of power by the proletariat. Revolution was thus forced to pull back from the threshold of victory, with meagre concessions offered by the monarchy. Failing to lead the rebellious people to a successful revolution and consolidate the power of the proletariat (backed by the peasantry), the disoriented leadership, instead, presented the concessions as a big achievement for revolution. This passive and reformist policy of the Communist leadership resulted in a rapid receding of the revolutionary mood of the people in Nepal. Instead of realising its error and preparing for a new wave, the leadership has since taken an about urn, more and more, towards legalism and class collaboration, adapting itself to the ebb in the revolution that they themselves were responsible for.
However, the April 2006 upsurge has left its imprint on the history of Nepal. The importance of the upsurge lies not in the concessions it succeeded in wresting from the hands of the monarchy, as both the bourgeois and the Maoist leaders both perceive, but in the fact that it illuminated a new path through the action of the proletariat in key cities, once again endorsing the bankruptcy of Stalinism/Maoism. What could not be achieved in more than ten years of armed struggle was achieved as if by a magic wand in 10 days of a general strike of the proletariat. This uprising had virtually shaken the monarchist regime from its roots. There lies now a whole gulf between the new Nepal as it emerged after April 2006 and the old one as it existed before the uprising.
The high tide of revolution during upsurge of April 2006, forced a radical rupture between the old and new Nepal. The monarchy lost all its strength and legitimacy, after its armed forces tried their best to drown the uprising in blood, but were paralysed before the might of the rebellious people, leaving the monarchy in the lurch. During the uprising, for the first time, the urban proletariat marked its entry onto the political scene as a class, turning the seat of monarchist-bourgeois power ‑ the city of Kathmandu ‑ into the centre stage of revolutionary drama. This put various hypotheses of revolution in Nepal to the test, first among them the formulations of Maoism and its slogan of the “Chinese road”, and refuted them through living revolutionary practice. It refuted the myth spread by the Maoist leaders about the weakness of the working class in the backward countries, where the peasantry constitutes a majority. It showed beyond all doubt that despite its small numerical strength, the proletariat is fully capable of taking the leadership of the revolution by organising itself into a vanguard detachment of the peasant mass, independent of the bourgeois and in opposition to it.
All the forces of old Nepal – the Monarchy, the forces of medievalism led by it and the bourgeois ‑ trembled before this upsurge. Although the upsurge was spontaneous, demonstrating the political immaturity of the working class, it brought forward the immense political energy latent within the proletariat, which on its own had embarked upon the threshold of a political overturn, and if it was forced to retreat, it was only due to the absence of a true leadership.
What prevented the Communists from taking power?
What stood between monarchy and the people? What prevented the Communists from taking power at the head of the working class, aided by the peasantry? Practically nothing! But the Communist leadership in Nepal, miseducated in the school of Maoism/Stalinism, refused to take the power through the working class and in opposition to the bourgeois, as it was prepared to take power only in alliance with the bourgeois and not against it. They had planned to execute a bourgeois-democratic revolution, through a “bloc of all classes”, with the bourgeois as a partner. Neither were they willing, nor ready to lead the revolution against the bourgeois. The bourgeois, in its turn was not ready to wipe out the monarchy.
The false leadership of the Maoist/Stalinist parties, thus found itself in a dilemma and a virtual political crisis during the upsurge of 2006. All of these Communist Parties and groups in Nepal at that time were closely collaborating with bourgeois parties in one way or another. The upsurge suddenly confronted them with the question of taking power by wiping out the monarchy, for which the stage was all set by history. But firstly the bourgeois parties like the Nepali Congress, having one of their heads faced towards the monarchy, did not at all wish its destruction, especially at the height of revolution. Moreover, the destruction of the monarchy through a radical onslaught of the masses would have immediately posed the question of power, with hostile classes facing each other – bourgeois/landlords on one side and the proletariat/peasantry on the other.
The bourgeois would have had to be confronted in a direct and decisive struggle for power, if the upsurge was to culminate in a successful revolution. The Communist parties, who rubbing shoulders until the previous evening with the bourgeois parties, were not ready for this eventuality and thus found themselves in a dilemma. They could not have turned the tables overnight against the bourgeois, calling its destruction. They therefore voluntarily let the historical opportunity pass and missed the shot. The line of collaboration with the bourgeois in a “bloc of all classes”, the “two stage theory of revolution” and the slogan of the “Chinese road” proved fatal for the revolution. The false perspective of the Maoist leaders thus resulted in political paralysis of the revolution. The proletariat had to return from threshold of power, which it could have taken in a revolutionary manner.
Due to their incorrect perspective, regarding the role and correlation of social classes and consequently the nature and dynamics of revolution in Nepal, the Maoist leaders neither could feel the pulse in April 2006 nor could catch it in their own electoral victory in April 2008.The election victory, only but a meek and belated echo of the revolutionary thunder of April 2006, came as a surprise to the Maoists themselves, in the same way as the upsurge of April 2006 had taken them by surprise. The irony is that the Maoists are still demonstrating their political bankruptcy, while failing to understand the true meaning and spirit of the electoral mandate of 2008.
The nature and meaning of the mandate
The Maoists, as with their failure in estimating the nature and depth of the uprising of April 2006, have also failed to assess the nature and meaning of the mandate given to them by the workers and toilers of Nepal. The Maoists pose this verdict as a vindication of their incorrect politics, which in fact is a mandate to remove not only the monarchy and feudalism, but also to cross over to more real and fundamental tasks, which are socialist in nature, and thus they fall beyond the domain of democratic revolution. But the Maoists have taken it upon themselves to stand as guarantors against this “cross over”, which is the real essence of Maoism at work in Nepal today.
The Maoists are translating the mandate in a spirit opposite to and abrogative of the mandate itself. They refuse to accept this mandate for a revolutionary stride forward and to consolidate the power in the hands of the proletariat with the support of the peasantry. Instead, they are interpreting this mandate, in the first place as a “fractured mandate”, thereby proposing a broad front of all political forces in the country to carry out the mandate, i.e. to build and consolidate a bourgeois democratic Republic. Instead of taking the mandate for a complete overturn, not only of the monarchy, but the bourgeoisie as well, the Maoists are seeking to perfect their alliance with the bourgeois and are planning a peaceful capitalist development in Nepal, in conjunction with it, for at least a decade to come. Refusing to see the complete adaptation between capitalism and medievalism in present-day Nepal, the Maoists falsely attribute a role to the bourgeois in the struggle against the monarchy and propose an alliance with it. Instead of marching towards a proletarian overturn in a direct fight against the bourgeois, they are striving to forge a union with it, basing themselves upon the bogus doctrine of the “two stage” revolution – presently democratic (bourgeois!), and only at some point in the future socialist. Their limited programme does not go beyond the contours of a bourgeois republic, and they are preparing a roadmap which is essentially capitalist in nature. At a juncture in history when the forces of revolution have sufficiently matured to advance against both the monarchy and the bourgeois, the Maoists are capitulating, pinning their hopes upon the bourgeois, instead of directing the revolution against it.
With a bright hope for a radical change in their lives, the people in Nepal have hailed and celebrated the electoral defeat of the pro-establishment parties, both royalists and bourgeois. But the Maoist leadership has already set about drowning these hopes, by seeking an alliance with the bourgeois/landlords and their parties.
Reassuring the bourgeoisie and landlords
Immediately following the election result, Prachanda declared, “In this 21st Century we need the cooperation of everyone for development”. He further added that the “CPN(M) is ready to work with all parties to write the Constitution”.
In an interview to the Nepal Times, Baburam Bhattarai clearly added further clarification:
Both Prachanda and Bhattarai met the Federation of Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industry, for more than two hours, wherein they called upon the capitalists:
Doubly reassuring the capitalists they told the gathering:
Amidst applause from the elite gathering, Prachanda declared: “We are Maoists of [the] 21st century”, and repelling all apprehensions of those present, he added further: “A strong hand is needed to build a strong nation”.
Both Prachanda and Bhattarai in their speeches cited South Korea and Malaysia as models of how the investment would be encouraged in Nepal. When asked about China, Prachanda praised it for elimination of the feudal system “that established a solid foundation for economic growth”. He claimed that, “once we restructure the state and involve the private sector, it will be possible to achieve that economic growth”.
On 30th April Baburam Bhattarai asserted that Nepal would see an economic revolution in the next 10 years. The Maoist leaders then deliberated with top World Bank officials about the future development plans in Nepal, pledging that bourgeois interests would be protected under their rule. They have offered immunity to the King along with his properties, if he abdicates voluntarily, which after the revolt of 2006, is a big concession to the King.
Dousing the flames of revolution
The false Stalinist/Maoist leadership is engaged now in dousing the flames of revolution that may have survived after the debacle of April 2006. While hobnobbing with the local and foreign capitalists, the Maoist leadership is openly calling for a change in the role of the Communist Youth, i.e. the Young Communist League (YCL). Prachanda has assured the capitalists that the YCL would disengage from its past to assume “constructive” activities. The YCL, representing the younger generation of revolutionaries in Nepal, would become the first casualty of political manoeuvre of this false leadership, which has already taken a turn towards reformism. To facilitate the smooth and peaceful participation in bourgeois power, the Maoist leadership has shown its readiness to return the properties confiscated during the last decade. It has agreed even to the dissolution of the armed militias under its control.
Instead of taking power through the direct action of workers and peasants, the Maoists are all set to assume the power through a “bloc of all classes”, including the capitalists, both local and foreign. The blueprint they have for development of Nepal in the next decade to come is essentially based upon a nationalist perspective, to be executed in conjunction with the bourgeois, in sharp contrast to the dictatorship of the proletariat and its internationalist perspective. For the present, bourgeois property will remain sacrosanct and it will be protected, and capitalism will be developed. These Maoist leaders, these petit bourgeois revolutionaries, are practically surrendering all power to the bourgeois, converting themselves into a “bureaucratic crust” representing this power. This they do in the name of “democratic revolution”, which they strictly counterpose against the “Socialist revolution” leaving the latter to take place only in some distant unspecified future.
However, paradoxically, there exists a peculiar overlapping of democratic and socialist tasks in the revolution in Nepal. The monarchy and bourgeois are integrated here with each other in a very close and inseparable manner, as the big bourgeois property and industry in Nepal belongs to members of the royal family, either the Shahs or Ranas, alongside with the feudal estates that they possess. The Nepali bourgeois, of which the royal family constitutes an upper crust, is amalgamated on the one hand with medievalism in Nepal, while on the other it is directly subjugated to world capitalism. Thus, any alliance with the bourgeois in Nepal would retard the struggle on both fronts. The revolution in Nepal cannot advance even an inch in alliance with the bourgeois. Revolution can advance only as a two-pronged sword one of whose edges is always directed against the bourgeois. Political alliances with the bourgeois as a partner would only more and more deepen the political crisis. The bourgeois republic in Nepal is a fiction in which neither the bourgeois nor the proletariat has any faith or interest.
Any sort of arrangement with the monarchy or the bourgeois would thus be outright reactionary and an open betrayal of the revolution. Merely a formal abolition of feudal titles, instead of the destruction of feudalism and above all the monarchy, would not bring any change in social relations in Nepal. Not able to conceive this ABC of Marxism, the Maoists are treading the path of class conciliation, instead of class struggle. While insulating the capitalist property against its invasion by the revolution, the Maoists are deceitfully paying lip service to the cause of the destruction of feudalism in Nepal, ignoring the fact that the two are inseparably amalgamated with each other.
Symbolic abolition of the monarchy
The fact is that while the bourgeois preferred the ceremonial survival of the monarchy, the Maoists want its symbolic abolition. They seem to be two sides of the same coin. The past of the Stalinist/Maoist parties in Nepal is tainted in this aspect. Their long association with the monarchy under King Birendra, is not a secret in Nepal. This opportunist striving for political leadership, both bourgeois and communist, in competing with each other for a place in the lap of the King, is sarcastically termed in political circles in Nepal as the “princely trend”. They collaborated with the monarchy even against bourgeois democracy, when they should have taken the lead in the fight against the monarchy, and now that it is the moment to fight against bourgeois, they collaborate with it. If the Maoists have been able move against the monarchy in Nepal, it has only been under the immense pressure of the people and their own rank and file cadres.
The formal abolition of the monarchy is meaningless if it merely limited to the abolition of a few titles and privileges. The immediate programme of the revolution in Nepal is to remove the monarchy with all its political and social institutions, confiscate the properties of the Royals and destroy all feudal relations in the country. While executing this immediate programme, which of course would meet with fierce resistance from the forces of reaction in Nepal, above all from the bourgeois itself, the revolution must cross over to the destruction of bourgeois property as well, in an uninterrupted wave. This is the clear verdict of the recent elections.
The Maoist leaders refuse to understand and execute the revolutionary verdict. They are zealously striving to establish a bourgeois democracy and thereby arresting the revolution at the bourgeois democratic stage. Maoists fail to recognise that at the advent of the 21st century, bourgeois democracy, being devoid of all political energy, is incapable of presenting any viable alternative to the feudal regimes and it is only the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e. genuine workers’ democracy, which may successfully execute the programme of the revolution.
The Nepali bourgeois exhausted its role long ago
The Nepali bourgeois had in fact already exhausted all its energies by 1958, i.e. within a decade of the armed struggle started by itself with the demands of a bourgeois parliamentary democracy in place of the monarchy, but which it openly betrayed by accepting and confiding in the constitution handed over by the monarch. It bargained away parliamentary democracy for a constitutional monarchy. The weak bourgeois miserably failed in taking the revolution even an inch further or to resolve any of the tasks of a democratic nature. The “revolution” of the bourgeois thus came to a halt over half a century ago. Neither can it be repeated, nor can there be a second bourgeois revolution now. Only a proletarian revolution can accomplish these leftover democratic tasks, as part of its uninterrupted revolution and not as a bourgeois-democratic revolution as our Maoists think. It is not parliamentary democracy, but the dictatorship of proletariat, supported by the peasantry, which is on the agenda.
The people have voted for the Maoists hoping that they would do away with the apparatus of exploitation and repression, but they seem to be betraying this faith, as they now propose to take power through an alliance with the bourgeois. One can see ‑ with no special effort ‑ that the plan of the Maoist leaders for the whole of the next decade includes everything for a bourgeois development of Nepal, but nothing for furthering and expanding the revolution, nothing for the workers and peasants of Nepal. What they failed to achieve at the height of the mass upheaval during the April 2006 upsurge, cannot be achieved through legal means under a constitutional bourgeois democracy.
The workers and the youth in Nepal, who had raised the banner of revolt against the monarchy in April 2006, with the slogans “We want the head of the King” and “It is we not the King who are the real power”, and who supported the Maoists in gaining electoral victory, in the bright hope of radical changes, now wonder if this is what they had fought for. Enormous contradictions have erupted between the revolutionary potential that the situation offers and the very narrow programme with limited demands presented by the Maoists. The programme of the Maoists is based upon a nationalist perspective of national “progress” and national “unity”, that is a “progress” essentially along capitalist lines and a “unity” between the workers/peasants on the one hand and the capitalists/landlords on the other.
Critical juncture in history
At this critical juncture in history, when enormous revolutionary opportunities are presenting themselves in Nepal, the Maoists are singing the song of the “bloc of all classes” to appease the bourgeois/landlords of Nepal and the world capitalists. Instead of directing the revolution further against the landlord/capitalist bloc, and expropriating the expropriators of the toiling people ‑ something for which they got a clear mandate in the elections ‑ the Maoists are making lucrative offers of collaboration to local and foreign reactionaries, even inviting them to share power. It is not without reason that the strategists in the US have already started discussing if and how the Maoist-led coalition government can be utilised for furthering US designs in the region!
The Maoists received this unprecedented vote, not because of their present political perspective ‑ as is the general perception, but which history will very soon prove out and out incorrect ‑ but because as an accident of history they happened to occupy the whole spectrum of the “extreme left” in Nepal, in the absence of a genuine proletarian party. This explains how and why the Maoists in the recent unfolding of events failed to foresee or comprehend this victory in advance, a victory which appeared to them only as a bolt from the blue, and why they fail even now to understand the meaning of the mandate.
As far as the stealing of the march by the CPN(M) over the other Stalinist/Maoist factions is concerned, the same has to be understood by the fact that while all the other factions had remained inside the old parliament, thus having their opportunism exposed very soon in their day to day activities, the CPN(M) although in essence it relied on the very same politics, escaped this fate, as it had boycotted parliament for a long time. With this advantage over the other factions, the CPN(M) could secure an advantage over them, and consolidate a big electoral victory in its favour. It is however clear that this vote is not an endorsement for the opportunist politics of the Maoists, with all its zig-zags, but is a radical vote for extreme left policies, with a clear mandate to carry forward the revolution. This pattern of voting clearly demonstrates the severity and depth of the social and political crisis in Nepal, to which the programme of the Maoists of revolution by stages – now democratic and later socialist ‑ is no match. The Maoists, at the very threshold, refuse to understand and execute the mandate in this spirit. Instead of carrying forward the revolution, they have started to apply brakes to the revolution, depriving it of its class essence. The Maoists conceive the question of the abolition of the monarchy as if it affects all the classes in Nepal in the same way and as if all the classes are equally interested in it, thereby depriving it of its class essence.
Workers and peasants are not going to achieve anything by proclamations of a “Republic”. Such proclamations become meaningless without power being firmly in the hands of the workers, followed and supported by the peasantry. People have not given a mandate for a bourgeois republic to be realised through the bogus formula of the “bloc of all classes”. The mandate cannot be understood in simplistic arithmetical terms of proportionate votes to parties representing different social interests. To understand the mandate one must have a correct assessment of the nature of revolution and the role of different classes within it, which presents itself in algebraic fashion. The perception of the Maoists that the “people have voted for different parties to work together for the development of Nepal” is not only incorrect but outright bogus. There is a historic and unprecedented swing of the political pendulum in favour of the forces of the revolutionary left, which means a forcible overthrow of all the exploiters, one after the other. The mandate is for the abandonment of the bogus idea of a bourgeois republic. The mandate is against the perspective of “stage-ism”, against compartmentalisation of democratic and socialist stages of the revolution and essentially in favour of a dictatorship of the proletariat supported by the peasantry. But the Maoists, in the absence of a revolutionary mindset, fail to understand this mandate, and take it as a mandate for peaceful bourgeois development in Nepal, with the cooperation of all.
The course of political development in Nepal is pushing the Communists to take power through the proletariat and as a proletarian dictatorship, but the Maoists are not prepared to take it and are willingly wasting the opportunity, surrendering power to the bourgeois, clearing the road for capitalist development. Misinterpreting the mandate, the Maoists refuse to carry it out against the enemies of the people. Instead of taking it as a mandate to accomplish the revolution, the Maoists have taken it as one for a peaceful collaboration of the classes. They are out to invite everybody, from the bourgeois Nepali Congress to the CPN-UML, to form a bloc with them to run the country peacefully and on the path of bourgeois development. They are clearly heading towards open class collaboration with the bourgeois, instead of its outright expropriation.
Inventing a revolutionary bourgeois in Nepal
The Maoists wish to execute the revolution according to their blueprint of a “two stage revolution” and for this they invent a revolutionary bourgeois in Nepal – the Nepali Congress etc. etc. ‑ as a collaborator and as a pledge for a capitalist growth of Nepal for at least one decade to come!
The Stalinist/Maoist parties in Nepal, whether it be the CPN-Maoist or the UML or other small parties, all share politically this common perspective of “stage-ism”, i.e. the bogus Menshevik “two stage theory”, which was discarded long ago by the February and October revolutions in Russia in 1917 and that since then has repeatedly been refuted by revolutionary experience in different countries. Based upon the compartmentalisation between the “democratic” and “socialist” tasks of the revolution, and adopted later by the Comintern under Stalin, this line has proved a virtual trap to arrest the revolution at the bourgeois democratic stage for an indefinite period. It serves to disorient and demoralise the proletariat, pushing the revolution to ebb, reinforcing and strengthening the bourgeois and ultimately losing power to it. This is exactly what happened in China, Spain, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Chile, Nicaragua and other parts of the world, wherever this theory of revolution in stages was applied. Everywhere it proved disastrous for revolution, and resulted in defeat for the masses. With this common perspective, shared among all of them, all the Stalinist/Maoist communist parties in Nepal aspire to a bourgeois-democratic revolution, which according to their dreams would establish “a democratic power shared by all classes, for a period. Staring out from this common political platform, on which they do not have any dispute among them, these parties take to different routes to execute this Menshevik programme. While all the others took the parliamentary road, the Maoists took to the armed struggle, but only to establish the selfsame bourgeois democratic regime in Nepal, cherished by all of them.
Shocked and moved by the immense revolutionary energy generated by the upsurge of April 2006, of which the cities and the urban proletariat were the epicentres, and which successfully demonstrated the limitations of partisan warfare in rural Nepal, without the leadership of the city proletariat, the Maoists reverted back to the cities, but only to reinforce their alliance with the bourgeois/landlords and their parties such as the Nepali Congress. This backtracking of the Maoists to the cities in the wake of the April uprising, abandoning the partisan struggle in the rural areas, deflates all the boasting about the April upsurge coming about as the result of ten years of partisan war. The upsurge came, in fact, as a refutation of the Maoist strategy, which they termed as “Chinese road”.
This common perspective of “stage-ism” and the common goal of “bourgeois democracy” is the real political platform of the Stalinist/Maoist parties of the old type, who dominate the political scene in Nepal for the time being. None of these parties attempts to answer the discourse on real and fundamental issues of politics and instead raise issues of secondary and tactical importance only, to draw the political lines. The Maoists focus their disputes around tactical issue such as the forms of struggle, falsely counterposing them to each other ‑ armed action vs. parliamentary action ‑ while in essence they all carry out the same political line of class collaboration, whether through parliament or through partisan struggle.
No fundamental difference between different Maoist trends
The Maoists had parted their ways from the unified CPN, criticising its leadership as renegade and revisionist, mainly for its participation in parliamentary politics. They immediately proposed armed struggle of the peasantry as an alternative strategy. This strategy was, however, changed after April 2006 uprising, but the political perspective of Maoism – the “two stage theory” and the “bloc of various classes”, was retained. The Maoists did not differ with the then CPN on any of the political positions or fundamental standpoints, but raised disputes on the tactical aspects, subsidiary to the main strategic issues.
The 2006 upsurge, however, compelled the Maoists to change their tactics, to shift the focus of their work from the rural areas to the cities, even contrary to the preaching of Maoism. Prachanda said in an interview in 2006, that in any event they would not return to the villages to restart the armed struggle. Similarly, in 2007, CP Gajurel told a press conference that a city-based revolution was in the offing in Nepal. Yet the Maoists failed to change their fundamental political perspectives and retained it in all fundamental particulars. Still they continue to refuse to open their eyes to the futility of their old Stalinist/Maoist perspective of “revolution in stages” and “bloc of various classes”, thereby diminishing the role of the proletariat and instead artificially carving out a role for the bourgeois in the revolution. They grasped the importance of action in the cities and the futility of rural based warfare, in wilful and clear deviation from the conventional “path” of Maoism, but their failure to understand the nature of the revolution in backward countries, and the role and attitude of the bourgeois and proletariat within it, made them cling to their prejudices about the bourgeois and its parliamentarism, instead of making preparations for a proletarian overturn in Nepal.
Now the question arises as to how this bogus recipe of “two stage theory” and of “bloc of all classes”, laced with the gloomy dreams of the growth of capitalism, will be swallowed by the workers and poor peasantry in Nepal and why they should wait for another 10 years to come. Here comes into play the Prachanda doctrine, “a strong hand to build a strong nation”. This strong hand would punch the proletariat and the peasantry, if they refuse to swallow the recipe of capitalist development prepared by the Maoists. Workers and peasants in Nepal will soon find that the Maoists will be playing the role of a policemen standing as a guarantee for the protection of bourgeois property in Nepal, as they have pledged time and again.
As apologists of the Menshevik theory of “stage-ism”, the Maoists are revealing themselves as red lieutenants of the bourgeois/landlords. The power in their hands, sooner rather than later, will turn into a bureaucratic apparatus for crushing the revolutionary proletariat and peasantry, which in any case would not confine itself to the “democratic” stage of revolution even for months, not to say of a decade, and would strive to carry forward the revolution by crossing over the narrow limits of the bogus programme of the Maoists’ democratic revolution. The state power, if not directed against the bourgeois, would certainly be directed against the workers and peasants!
History is presenting the question of power starkly
While the Maoists are busy in forging the unwarranted collaboration between hostile classes, under the slogan of a Republic, history is presenting the question of power starkly – who will rule Nepal, the bourgeois or the proletariat? The simplistic Maoist slogan of a democratic republic does not present any answer to this. The dispute is over the role and character of this democratic republic. Would it be realised in opposition to, or in conjunction with, the bourgeois? A republic under proletarian dictatorship or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie? The fate of the revolution is bound to this issue. The Maoists show their utter incapacity to resolve this issue in a revolutionary way. The bourgeois, however, is unable to come to power unless and until the revolution itself is betrayed, its flames are put down and power is surrendered voluntarily by those at the head of the revolution.
The present turn in the politics of Nepal, presents only a caricature of the February revolution in Russia in 1917, with no October overturn in the offing, in the absence of a Bolshevik opposition. We will soon witness the same surrender of power by its Menshevik leadership, before the local reaction and imperialist bourgeoisie. We will find this leadership zealously defending the bourgeois state, law and property against the people. Unable to advance the revolution even an inch further, with every passing day, the Maoists would find themselves more and more trapped inside their false web of bourgeois democracy. Either the Maoists abandon the working people becoming open apologists of bourgeois democracy or the working people becoming more and more disillusioned, will eventually be forced to look for an alternative to the Maoists.
From the point of view of the proletariat, the abolition of the monarchy is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. The Maoists/Stalinists, the epigones of Leninism, are seeking collaboration with the bourgeois in Nepal, as they head towards a bourgeois republic in complete betrayal of the mandate both of the 2006 uprising and the recent elections. The proletariat must organise itself to take power in Nepal with the aid of the poor peasantry and thus execute the mandate by overturning both the monarchy and bourgeois. To be able do this, it needs first to detach itself from the influence of the Stalinist/Maoist leadership and its false perspective. What is needed is a genuine Marxist opposition within the Nepalese Communist movement capable of gaining the ear of the rank and file with the aim of establishing a genuine Leninist policy, armed with the perspective of permanent revolution, instead of the old Stalinist/Maoist outlook that seeks class-conciliation instead of class struggle.
Delhi, May 28, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 30, 2008
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The great Arab poet Adunis was declined the Nobel Prize in 2005, 2006 and 2007. I fail to understand how can he be ignored. He is one of my favorite poets. “The Funeral of New York” is one of his poems
The Funeral of New York
Picture the earth as a pear
Between such fruits and death
survives an engineering trick:
Call it a city on four legs
heading for murder
while the drowned already moan
in the distance.
New York is a woman
holding, according to history,
a rag called liberty with one hand
and strangling the earth with the other.
As i sip the wine from my glass , i re call this poem by Aga Shahid Ali. Yet another poet that i like
|I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror|
|by Agha Shahid Ali|
By dark the world is once again intact, Or so the mirrors, wiped clean, try to reason. . . --James Merrill
This dream of water--what does it harbor? I see Argentina and Paraguay under a curfew of glass, their colors breaking, like oil. The night in Uruguay is black salt. I'm driving toward Utah, keeping the entire hemisphere in view-- Colombia vermilion, Brazil blue tar, some countries wiped clean of color: Peru is titanium white. And always oceans that hide in mirrors: when beveled edges arrest tides or this world's destinations forsake ships. There's Sedona, Nogales far behind. Once I went through a mirror-- from there too the world, so intact, resembled only itself. When I returned I tore the skin off the glass. The sea was unsealed by dark, and I saw ships sink off the coast of a wounded republic. Now from a blur of tanks in Santiago, a white horse gallops, riderless, chased by drunk soldiers in a jeep; they're firing into the moon. And as I keep driving in the desert, someone is running to catch the last bus, men hanging on to its sides. And he's missed it. He is running again; crescents of steel fall from the sky. And here the rocks are under fog, the cedars a temple, Sedona carved by the wind into gods-- each shadow their worshiper. The siren empties Santiago; he watches --from a hush of windows--blindfolded men blurred in gleaming vans. The horse vanishes into a dream. I'm passing skeletal figures carved in 700 B.C. Whoever deciphers these canyon walls remains forsaken, alone with history, no harbor for his dream. And what else will this mirror now reason, filled with water? I see Peru without rain, Brazil without forests--and here in Utah a dagger of sunlight: it's splitting--it's the summer solstice--the quartz center of a spiral. Did the Anasazi know the darker answer also--given now in crystal by the mirrored continent? The solstice, but of winter? A beam stabs the window, diamonds him, a funeral in his eyes. In the lit stadium of Santiago, this is the shortest day. He's taken there. Those about to die are looking at him, his eyes the ledger of the disappeared. What will the mirror try now? I'm driving, still north, always followed by that country, its floors ice, its citizens so lovesick that the ground--sheer glass--of every city is torn up. They demand the republic give back, jeweled, their every reflection. They dig till dawn but find only corpses. He has returned to this dream for his bones. The waters darken. The continent vanishes.
May 29, 2008
The problem in front of the great Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci in the fascist prison was the “problem of sustenance of capitalism” in Europe despite its great logical contradiction. Why the Revolution was not coming when all the conditions were right? In his famous “prison notebooks”, he takes the question into the realm of ideology. This was the start of analysis of “ways of thinking”. He gave the concept of “cultural Hegemony”. Capitalism Gramsci suggested, maintained control not just through violence and political and economic coercion , but also ideologically , through a “hegemonic culture” in which the values of the bourgeoisie became the ‘common sense‘ values of all. Thus a consensus culture developed in which people in the Working-class identified their own good with the good of the bourgeoisie, and helped to maintain the status quo rather than revolting.
He also made a distinction between the “Political society” (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, trade unions, etc.) where leadership is constituted through ideology or by means of consent. Its this “civil society” whose “thoughts” are being “controlled” to suit the masters [If only Pakistanis understood]. In order to understand these thing the “discourse analysis” was developed. “Discourse” is nothing but all “written and verbal communication”. In line of Gramsci and later Foucault we have to understand “discourse” as “institutionalized” way of thinking, or in words of Judith Butler “limits of acceptable” speech. Its these limits which must be subverted in order to reach a true libertarian discourse. The discourse is controlled by means of “exclusion”, no other opinion simply exists. Foucault writes:
“I am supposing that is every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality. In a society such as our own we all know the rules of exclusion. The most obvious and familiar of these concerns what is prohibited
“Of the three great systems of exclusion governing discourse — prohibited words, the division of madness and the will to truth ———“
“I believe we must resolve ourselves to accept three decisions which our current thinking rather tends to resist, and which belong to the three groups of function I have just mentioned: to question our will to truth; to restore to discourse its character as an event; to abolish the sovereignty of the signifier…. One can straight away distinguish some of the methodological demands they imply. A principle of reversal, first of all…. Next, then, the principle of discontinuity ….”
I am planning to do all this , i am trying to bring forward the “prohibited voices”, those which have been totally eclipsed in the society by the dominant discourse. This is not “endorsing” one and rejecting “others”, rather, its simply a act of breathing , an act of subversion ,of saying what is not pleasant to hear, Its simply an act of living in the rotten stagnant conformity. “The Bengali Genocide” is one such “absent voice” in Pakistan. We only hear “India -America-Jews divided Pakistan”, the act of liberation and resistance against one of the most brutal fascist militarism is “dismissed” as “sakoot”. The Last encounter is a short story by Kazi Fazalur Rehman , its taken from the anthology of stories from 71 by the name of “Fault lines”
The Last Encounter
By Kazi Fazlur Rahman
Another push by the soldier propelled Rashed into the room. He stumbled. The Pakistani officer standing in front of the table caught hold of him. He ordered the soldier out and untied Rashed’s hands. Then he moved behind the table and sat in the chair facing Rashed.
Rashed blinked. Even the pale light of the winter afternoon was too harsh for his eyes after the long hours being blindfolded.
He rubbed his eyes without seeming to have heard the officer.
The enemy officer was of his age or perhaps a little older. He was fair-complexioned and of rather slight build. Under the broad forehead, his eyes had a hint of blue. And those eyes, Rashed could not help noticing, did not have the taunting look of the captor for the captive. The eyes were tired, and the face heavy with fatigue.
After being asked a second time, Rashed slowly sat down. He touched his right temple, which was covered with congealed blood. With his left hand, he tried to feel if any of his ribs were broken.
‘What’s your name?’
Rashed’s hands froze. But he kept quiet.
‘Are you a student? How many other miscreants were there with you?’
Rashed did not respond. He felt sure that these were the preliminaries before the torture began. This was the moment he had been dreading since regaining consciousness. He knew only too well what there was in store for him. He had seen too many, both dead and dying, who had been tortured by the Pakistanis. Instinctively, he clenched his fists.
‘It won’t be very difficult to make you talk,’ the officer, smiled faintly. ‘Even if I can’t do it myself, I can ask some of my soldiers and razakars to come and help. You surely know how experienced they are in this business and how much they enjoy it.’
‘We may have to spend some time together,’ the officer added after some moments of silence. ‘We should at least get acquainted. My name is Azam — Captain Azam.’
‘I am Rashed,’ Rashed said after a moment of hesitation.
Captain Azam pushed the packet of cigarettes across the table, ‘Have a cigarette. Whether you or I want it or not, we are both fated to be on the same stage for the time being. Once the war is over, each of us will be back in his own world — provided we survive till then. I really wanted to meet a proper mukti — a so-called freedom fighter. Almost all we manage to catch alive seem to be illiterate farm-hands, young schoolboys or old men. You, I think, belong to the right category — if ‘right’ is the proper word!’
He pressed the bell. ‘First, let me get some tea for us. Meanwhile, you may like to have a wash. There’s the bathroom.’
Kadamtali, a rather small river port, had an oil storage depot and lay right on the river routes of oil tankers plying between Chittagong and Dhaka. The guerrillas desperately wanted to disrupt the oil supply. They had damaged a couple of passing tankers and also made an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the depot. The Pakistanis reacted by increasing the size of the army contingent guarding the depot. Fortified bunkers were constructed within the depot perimeters.
A few days earlier, Rashed had received reports that Pakistani soldiers had stopped coming out in the open after sunset. Now was the time, he had decided, to blow up the storage tanks. The plan was simplicity in itself. With grenades in a waterproof plastic bag, he would swim over to the depot landing. The usual heavy December fog would provide adequate cover. From riverbank to the depot it was only about 30 feet or so. He would toss the grenades, run back to the water and jump into it. Balai and Jalal would open fire from safe distances to distract the Pakistanis.
But things had not worked out as planned. The fog had suddenly cleared just as Rashed was getting ready. Nevertheless, he had decided to go ahead. He would have perhaps changed his mind had he only known that on that very day the army contingent had been reinforced by a large group of razakars. They were put on patrol duty outside the depot. After all, their Pakistani masters could not care less if they got killed. These wretches were expendable.
Rashed, after crawling up to the depot fence, had already lobbed the grenades when, the razakars started shooting. Even with their wild marksmanship, the hail of bullets was thick enough to cut off his escape. Meanwhile, the grenades set off a chain reaction of explosions among the oil drums. As he lay prone on the ground, a large metal fragment, possibly a piece of a bursting drum, hit him on the head.
He regained his senses only to gasp from the savage kicks to his head, face and chest. Soon he sank into oblivion again. When he woke up again he found himself blindfolded. His hands and feet had been tied. He was quite surprised that he was still alive. He did not know that only the captain’s intervention had saved him from a slow and extremely painful death.
‘I don’t know how well-informed you are,’ Captain Azam took a sip of tea, ‘but it’s almost all over with the war. It won’t make any difference whether you or I live or die. The Indian army has won this round.’
‘Not the Indian army alone,’ Rashed’s voice rose in protest. ‘It’s the combined allied forces of both India and Bangladesh.’
‘Rubbish! It is the Indian superiority in the numbers of planes, tanks, artillery and soldiers. You Bangalis simply act as their porters,’
‘You lie! Is it because of the Indian army that you dared not come out of the bunkers? How many of your officers and men of the so-called best army in the world, equipped with the latest American and Chinese weapons, died in the last nine months? How many in Dhaka alone? Who killed them? Surely not the Indians!’
‘You can’t win a war by a few stray murders or by throwing a bomb here, planting a mine there. Without the Indian army your ‘Joi Bangla’ would have remained just an empty slogan.’
‘Again, you are wrong. Our victory was inevitable. We would have driven you out on our own. Sure, that would have taken much more time. The process would have been far more painful and the price paid for freedom still higher. Yet, perhaps that would have been better for my country’s future.’
Captain Azam crushed his cigarette in the ashtray. ‘Enough of that. Now tell me how you got involved with this ragtag band of muktis. You don’t look like a miscreant.’
Rashed’s eyes flashed. ‘What would you have done if your brother had been made to dig a grave and then was buried alive in the grave he had dug? Or your sister had been ravaged and mutilated; by a gang of savage beasts in the shape of men?’
‘Yes, I know there have been some excesses. A few such unfortunate things are bound to happen if an army is called upon to suppress a rebellion.’
My days in East Pakistan have convinced me that I should have resisted my father’s wishes. I’m not cut out to be an officer of the Pakistani army.
‘No. This was planned and cool-headed savagery Yahya the drunk, Tikka Khan the butcher and Bhutto the smoothtalking charlatan ordered you to perpetrate all these bestialities in the name of defending Islam and Pakistan. They felt sure that killing and brutality on this massive scale would frighten the Bangalis into silence. But they made a mistake. Yes, brutality within a certain limit may temporarily terrorise a people into inaction. But beyond this limit, it is counterproductive. There are many in our ranks who never bothered about politics or their identities as Bangalis. Your senseless yet systematic brutality made them take up arms.’
‘You see, I don’t really know much about all these things.’ Captain Azam was somewhat apologetic. ‘It’s been only four months since I came from West Pakistan. Anyway, even if the things you allege did really happen, they were under the orders of superior authorities. The ordinary officer or soldier in the field can’t be held responsible for carrying out orders.’
‘Hitler’s generals and soldiers took the same plea. The civilised world refused to accept it. They were found guilty and hanged. Even now those war criminals are being hunted down and brought to justice. And you’re also going to be tried and punished.’
‘You delude yourself. We aren’t going to be tried. Your leaders will forget all about it in their scramble for pomp and power. And if you really want to try anyone, you’ll have to look for the guilty amidst you — the razakars and al-Badars who joined us in the killings, and the Peace Committee members who pointed out to us the villages to be burnt down, the persons to be tortured and murdered. They are the ones who captured the young girls trying to escape and delivered them to our camps.’
‘Yes, I know. Every people fighting a war of liberation has to contend with some quislings. We also have ours. Certainly they’re going to pay dearly for their crimes.’
‘Again you err. Perhaps some small fries will be caught. But the really big ones will manage to have their protectors. They may temporarily disappear only to surface again when the time is ripe. They will be as useful to the new rulers as they were to us.’
The telephone rang before Rashed could speak again. Captain Azam picked up the receiver, listened in silence for a couple of minutes. Then he said, ‘Yes, I understand,’ and put the receiver down.
‘The war is over. General Niazi has just signed the surrender document.’ Captain Azam looked both shocked and relieved.
‘Really? Joi Bangla!’ Rashed jumped up from his chair.
‘Yes, but that doesn’t mean that I am surrendering to you. My orders are to surrender with my men only to the Indian army.’
Rashed made a move towards the door.
‘No. You can’t go. My soldiers and the razakars outside won’t know that the war has ended and they can no longer have the fun of killing a captured mukti. You’re still my prisoner.’
Rashed stopped in this tracks.
‘In a manner, I am also your captive. Still, I carry a weapon. If I shoot you, no one will bother to find out if you were killed before or after the surrender. You better take your seat again.’
Rashed thought for a moment or two and then returned to his chair.
The silence was broken by Captain Azam. ‘The war is over. We don’t have to keep up pretences. Let’s rather talk about ourselves. Are you a student?’
‘Yes. I was.’
‘What were you studying?’
‘English Literature, at Dhaka University.’
‘Strange coincidence! I was also a student of English at Lahore Government College. But I had to join the army before I could get my degree. Mine is a family of soldiers. My grandfather was a non-commissioned officer; my father retired as colonel. And he wanted his only son to become a general. I am afraid he is going to be disappointed. My days in East Pakistan have convinced me that I should have resisted my father’s wishes. I’m not cut out to be an officer of the Pakistani army.’
‘Why?’ Rashed could not help asking.
‘My first posting was in a big outpost near Comilla. Our orders were to go out on daily sorties to raid villages reported to be harbouring guerrillas, Awamis or Hindus.
There was a competition among the officers. Each had to keep a tally of how many houses his men had burnt down, how many persons he had personally killed.
Each evening in the mess, with a glass of whisky in hand, each had to announce the numbers. The one with the highest score would be declared the champion of the day, and glasses would be raised to toast his feat. Some even announced the number of Bangalee women they had raped, not, as they would take pains to explain, to satisfy their carnal desires, but in discharge of their patriotic duty of ensuring a better breed of Pakistanis in this part of the country. Yes, men under me also burnt, killed, and raped. But my personal score was nil on all these counts during the fortnight I was there. And that made me an outcast. I was forced to seek a transfer to a place where I would not have to compete with others to prove my prowess. That’s how I am in Kadamtali.’
There was again a long moment of silence. Then Captain Azam said, ‘But you aren’t saying anything about yourself!’
‘It should be really a quite common story now. I am the eldest of four children in my family. My brother is missing, presumed dead, after the army raided his hostel on the night of March 25. My father, a college teacher, was shot dead for sheltering a wounded pupil. Our home was burnt down. My mother managed to escape with my two sisters. I can only hope that they succeeded in crossing the borders and are in some refugee camp, or that they are dead.’
‘What are you going to do now that the war is over?’
‘I really don’t know. What I know is that I won’t be able to go back to the life of a student.’
‘And I can’t go on being a soldier. But whatever happens, I look forward, to visiting your Bangladesh one day, perhaps years later. I would like to find out what sort of a country it is going to be — a country for which so much blood has been shed.’
A shadow passed over Rashed’s face.
‘I also wish I knew what the future holds in store for my Bangladesh. Sometimes I have more anxieties than hopes. You’ve not only maimed, tortured, and killed. In the process you’ve brutalised our people, both as victims and avengers of brutalities. We have also learnt to kill. Shall we now be killing each other? And we were such a gentle, peace-loving people!’
‘Perhaps you have good reasons to be anxious,’ Captain Azam smiled sadly. ‘However, our officers and soldiers also have learnt to kill unarmed civilians, women and children. They won’t be able to forget the taste of blood. When they go back, they will look for opportunities to kill and inflict pain on their own people. They may not spare even those who let them lose here. And that will be your revenge.’
Slowly, the darkness of the winter night gathered round them.
‘Have you ever read Wilfred Owen’s war poems? ‘Strange Meeting’?’
‘Do you remember the last lines ‘Let us sleep now…’?’
‘Yes, that’s what the dead soldier tells his killer when they meet in the afterlife.’
They sat still and silent as the room turned darker.
Captain Azam stood up and switched on the light. ‘Perhaps they would. But will you and I be able to sleep?’
May 22, 2008
“This was not the outburst of crazed men or uncontrolled barbarians but the triumph of a belief system that defined one people as less human than another. For the men and women who comprised these mobs, as for those who remained silent and indifferent or who provided scholarly or scientific explanations, this was the highest idealism in the service of their race. One has only to view the self-satisfied expressions on their faces as they posed beneath black people hanging from a rope or next to the charred remains of a Negro who had been burned to death What is most disturbing about these scenes is the discovery that the perpetrators of the crimes were ordinary people, not so different from ourselves – merchants, farmers, laborers, machine operators, teachers, doctors, lawyers, policemen, students; they were family men and women, good churchgoing folk who came to believe that keeping black people in their place was nothing less than pest control, a way of combating an epidemic or virus that if not checked would be detrimental to the health and security of the community“
Leon F Litwack , on lynching in USA
History is a unique experience, one that fully shakes you up. It can enlighten you into a revolutionary struggle by by exposing the texts, or it can cause frustration, anguish and pain when it keeps on repeating itself. you know what is happening, how it can be changed and whats going on but you are utterly powerless to stop or intervene. The pain it causes isun imaginable.
In these circumstances when nations are pushed into certain kind of manias in the name of Religion,Race,Nationalism,Honour,and other higher ideals, all the discourse become hegemonized. This does not necessarily happens through the use of brute force or censorship alone as force alone can never eliminate “dissent”. What is done is to create an idea so serene, so pure and so passionate that questioning it itself becomes treason . In 1933 Martin Heidegger in his notorious pro Hitler declaration stated “Truth is the revelation of that which makes a people certain,clear and strong in its action and knowledge”. This is the intellectual spirit of all fascism which subjugates truth to some higher idea , revival of nation etc. In simples words in order to motivate a nation any lie can be spoken and it becomes the truth. These are the moments when speaking the truth becomes most difficult because doing so means being a traitor in eyes of almost every one. but not doing so makes you a traitor in History.
In 1930s USA was in a similar situation, winds of change were threatening the old order of prejudice and bigotry. To save their skin they created a madness in the South in name of order, morality and humanity. They started lynching the blacks. Whole city gathered and watch the young black lads being beaten, hanged and burned. People posed with them for post cards. All this was believed to be for the sake of keeping the society clean, for maintaining law and order. The blacks were accused of being rapists, thief, magicians,kidnappers etc The whole society united in this great deed.
Abel Meeropol a Jewish school teacher who was member of the American Communist Party saw a picture of two black men hanging from the tree and he wrote a poem “Strange Fruit” which became the most important statement against American Racism. He published it under a pseudonym Lewis Alan. Billie Holiday sung it and it became one of the most influential songs ever sung. Holiday’s father died of pneumonia when “white hospitals” refused to treat him [doing so was against the segregation laws]. She could relate to all the injustice which formed the bases of this poem:
Strange Fruit – Lewis Allan
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop
I am listening to Billi Holiday singing Strange Fruit and in front of my eyes is the picture that became inspiration for this song, but in my mind is another south and another lynching. Lynching of 22 years of Hindu boy in a Karachi factory bymoslem mob for the crime of “Blasphemy”. The true crime was being Hindu in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The personal grudge that was settled in name of Blasphemy. The mob of Sunni Tehrik fanatics who worked in his factory killed him in the most in humane way. He was asked to stay, than the gates of the factory were closed, he was beaten to death by the mob, his eyes were gouged out using iron rods, than his body was thrown out on the road to save the name of factory owners. His body was about to being burned when police arrived. His family escaped to their ancestral village in interior Sindh where his father has locked himself in the home. Why because when he comes out he listens “Any one who commits blasphemy against Muhammed should be killed. He should be killed too”
There is no help there is no support. Pakistani society has maintained a criminal silence on these “strange fruits”. Minorities are accused of blasphemy and lynched and its “no news” in Pakistan. The lynching even take place in jails obviously under police supervision. No one accused of killing a blasphemer has ever been sentenced.
All the media in Pakistan is responsible for creating this mania of blasphemy by propagating the “caricature scandal”.All the humanist intellectuals are busy debating judiciary and human rights of Taliban [Missing Persons]. Poor Jagdeesh Kumar couldt find any Alan Lewis or Billi Holiday and the Pakistani Communists are busy restoring democracy and Justice with Jamat e Islami , General Hameed Gul and Roidad Khan. “Bol keh Lub aazad hein tere” [Speak as your lips are still free] , voice of Tina Sani is illuminating TV channels adding spark to movement to restore Judicial bureaucracy .
Speak and get lynched. Silence is criminal . In a lecture on Forgiveness in Paris, Levinas famously remarked ” One can forgive many Germans but it is very difficult to forgive some Germans, it is difficult to forgive Heidegger”
For every Pakistani to think esp Pakistani Heideggers.
“Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!”
May 15, 2008
Dr Lal Khan is a Marxist political worker and analyst based in Lahore Pakistan. He was a hero of the student movement against the Islamic-fascist General Zia ul haq , sentenced to death he escaped to Europe where he joined the International Marxist tendency. He has lived and worked in India as well. A very well read man he is the editor of Asian Marxist Review. He has wrote many books amongst which “Partition and how it can be undone”, Kashmir;s ordeal the Marxist Perspective and “21 century Socialism” are worth mentioning. He has written an article on the situation in Pakistan which is worth reading as it disscusses some important issues which are being confused in Pakistan.
|Pakistan – unravelling of the democratic farce|
|By Lal Khan in Lahore|
|Thursday, 15 May 2008|
|The resignation from the federal cabinet of fifteen ministers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) PML (N) has exposed the fragile nature of the present ‘democratic’ set-up.
The ‘coalition’ based on the so-called “grand national reconciliation” has split just after 41 days in power. This coalition government was cobbled together under the auspices of US imperialism and the Pakistan state to stave off a looming crisis that threatened the whole system. But now this fragile coalition has collapsed ‑ another failure of the Pakistan ruling classes and imperialism. The Economist of May 10 gives a pessimistic picture of the situation:
Ever since the return of Benazir on October 18 last year there have been mass upheavals and turbulence throughout society. Events have been unfolding in an explosive and unprecedented rapid pace.
Such was the severity of the upheavals that sections of the state decided to assassinate Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi in an attempt to quell the rising tide of the masses, who had come out in a mass movement to challenge this rotting capitalist system. Food, shelter and clothing were their demands. They were yearning through this upheaval to get rid of the poverty, unemployment and misery into which they were being thrown by Pakistani capitalism. The wrath of the oppressed masses was evident in the reaction to the assassination of Benazir as the lava of mass anger and resentment poured onto the streets and Pakistan was virtually paralysed for more than 48 hours.
However, the PPP leadership refused to call a general strike against the postponement of the elections from the original date of January 8 of this year, which was done at the behest of US imperialism. The results of February 18 elections were meticulously engineered to suit the ruling classes and US interests. The PPP was made to win, yet it was the highest loser. Had the PPP got a two-thirds majority ‑ which was a foregone conclusion ‑ the rising tide of mass upheaval would have put such tremendous pressure on a PPP government that it would not have been able to fudge the basic demands of the oppressed who were supporting it.
Before, during and in the aftermath of the elections the State Department officials played the main role in manufacturing this right and left wing coalition set-up. The US ambassador in Pakistan, Ms. Anne Peterson, has been the most active and enthusiastic politician in this country ever since then. She has been interviewing every minister and has been dictating every little detail in the moves of this government.
The PML(N) finance minister immediately flew to Washington to get fresh economic instructions from the World Bank and the IMF. In spite of all this, the coalition has collapsed. The immediate “issue” was the restoration of the judges sacked by Musharraf.
On the other hand, the different factions within this retrogressive and redundant ruling class are vying for power. They are in conflict with each other as they all wish use this newly gained political power to get their huge loans written off and plunder whatever is left of the state and exchequer. In the brief history of Pakistan all regimes have indulged in this orgy of blatant corruption and nepotism.
But the real issue has been the unprecedented price hikes, the high rate of inflation, and the rise in poverty levels that have shaken society. In the first twenty-eight days of this new democratic set up, hailed by almost every body from US imperialism to the ex-left NGO’s, there have been more price hikes than in the last five years of the preceding regime.
Pakistan’s economy is now in a free fall. The highest ever inflation, trade deficit, current account deficit and worst ever macro-economic indicators are evidence of the rot and the terminal sickness of Pakistani capitalism. The economy is teetering on the verge of a sharp steep recession compounded by a global economic crisis. The rot is far greater than just the budgetary overruns and current account deficit. Pakistan’s economy faces high inflation, a global financial, oil and food crisis, energy shortages, capital flight, stagnant exports, falling foreign exchange reserves, a rapidly depreciating currency and decline in investment levels. The main brunt of this capitalist crisis has once again to be faced by the already impoverished toiling masses of Pakistan.
According to the officials of the World Food Programme more than half of Pakistan’s nearly170 million people are now short of food due to a surge in prices. According to the WFP survey, the “food insecure” had risen from 60million to 77million in March. But since installation of the present PPP led government food insecurity has risen at a horrendous pace.
The WFP report says: “There is a very big gap between the increase in prices and increase in wages… the purchasing power of the poor has gone down by almost 50 percent.” And that was in March. UNICEF says that 200,000 Pakistani children die annually because of unsafe drinking water, dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid and gastroenteritis. Out of the 137 poorest countries Pakistan’s GDP percentage spending on education stands at number 134 and health at 137! Yet Pakistan is the 11th largest importer of arms and weapons of mass destruction.
The impact of this severe socio-economic crisis has implications for the state and politics. The widespread violence, civil wars and bombings ravaging Pakistan’s social fabric are a graphic example of this. Similarly, different institutions of the state are rotting and in a state of a rapid internal decay because of this crisis. Ultimately the intense instability of society is a reflection of this crisis. Imperialist exploitation and capitalist lust for more and more profits, further exacerbates these contradictions and intensifies turmoil.
The network of the media, the state and the politicians, under the patronage of US imperialism, tries to distract the masses from the real issues by raising and fabricating a series of non-issues. One of the main non-issues raised by these people has been the question of the Judiciary. In a country where 90% of the population does not have the money to buy food, how can they buy justice through the exorbitant fees of the lawyers and the courts?
The conflict between the judiciary and other institutions of the state are symptoms of the failure of Pakistan as a nation state. The mass upsurge after October 18 last year had cut across these movements and all the “civil society” gimmickry and had brought the real issues of deprivation, poverty and exploitation to the fore.
However, after using the masses, the PPP leadership betrayed the party’s own founding programme yet again and started playing the absurd game of “national reconciliation” to preserve the present exploitative system. Nationally they patched together a coalition with the right wing, especially with Sharif’s PML (N), the traditional party of the reactionary ruling classes. This coalition also included Islamic fundamentalists in the form of the JUI(F) and the ANP, the right-wing Pushtoon nationalists. The fact is that the unanimous vote of all the parties in parliament for the PPP’s prime ministerial candidate, Yusuf Raza Gillani (a former minister of the Zia dictatorship), was an indication of the fear of the ruling classes due to the threat they faced from the oppressed masses.
In the Sindh regional parliament the PPP leadership went a step further. They included 13 ministers in the cabinet from the MQM, the neo-fascist outfit based on urban Sindh. This organization has been responsible for the assassination of hundreds of PPP activists in the last two decades. In Balouchistan, where there are 63 members elected to the provincial assembly, 62 have joined the PPP led government in Quetta. In the NWFP (Pushtoonkhwa) the PPP is in coalition with the right-wing Pushtoon Nationalists, the Awami National Party. On 13th of May this so called liberal, progressive coalition government announces the imposition of Sharia law (the Islamic code) in different areas of the province. In Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan, the PPP is in a coalition government led by the PML (N).
The meaning of all these coalitions is that the PPP leadership wants to use them as an excuse, a shield behind which to hide, in order to carry through policies of aggressive capitalism. The PPP’s federal privatisation minister, Naveed Qamar, has announced the privatisation of 10% of shares of Pakistan Steel Mills. This was the most contentious privatisation in which the previous regime was defeated by the militant struggle of the workers led by the PTUDC. Now the PPP government wants to sell the Steel Mills off in several instalments. The PPP regime has also asked the Privatisation Commission to meet its $21billion annual privatisation target by June 30 of this year.
In reality the new PPP-led democratic regime is continuing the policies of the previous right-wing government. But the Pakistani economy and society is in a much greater crisis and these policies of so-called “trickle-down economics”, as dictated by imperialism, will only worsen the crisis.
In this worsening crisis, on the one hand there will be more turbulence and turmoil, but on the other hand another mass explosion is also a strong possibility. The workers in telecommunications, the railways, Water & Power and several other sectors of the economy, have started to move in protest demonstrations and rallies against these policies of the PPP-led regime. These protests will intensify in the coming period and a movement can explode on the industrial front as a reaction to the deceit and betrayal they have suffered on the electoral plane.
Although the Americans and other bourgeois strategists are trying to patch up the PPP-PML(N) rift, the crisis refuses to ebb. Even if they succeed, this artificial coalition would break down with an even greater bang sooner rather than later. Napoleon once remarked that you could do anything with bayonets except sit on them. The crisis is so intense and Pakistani capitalism is so rotten that the crisis is bound to get worse in the coming weeks and months.
This crisis will also provoke splits within the PPP itself. Although there is no real left wing in the top leadership of the PPP, the masses orientating towards the PPP are asking questions, getting angry, and yearning for change. And there is no solution without a socialist revolution. This was the main theme of the PPP’s founding documents written forty years ago. The leadership has breached that programme and manifesto more than once.
In spite of all this, the masses have clung to their traditions with utmost loyalty and innumerable sacrifices for three generations. How many times are they going to tolerate such betrayal again? Pakistan and PPP have entered a crucial period. For the masses capitalism has become intolerable. They are looking for an alternative socio-economic system. The advanced layers amongst the youth and workers are moving towards revolutionary conclusions. The social basis of fundamentalism is in sharp decline Nationalism is in a blind alley. Democracy on a capitalist basis is failing the masses.
If we look at the reality of the experience of this “democracy” for the toiling masses of Pakistan, Lenin’s definition in his brilliant work Proletarian Revolution and renegade Kautsky is extremely pertinent. Lenin wrote:
The cohesion and discipline of the military has been seriously affected by the influx of finance capital. A military dictatorship, although not ruled out, could not sustain itself as in the past. The options for the ruling classes are vanishing rapidly. The forces of revolutionary Marxism, although modest, are gaining strength. It is no accident that on May Day 2008 there were twice the number of demonstrations led by the PTUDC as compared to last year.
For the liberal intelligentsia, civil society and ex-lefts, however, it is all doom and gloom. Pessimism and scepticism are luxuries for the few. We revolutionaries and the proletarian masses cannot afford such extravagant luxuries. For the masses it is now a struggle for survival and existence. This struggle can erupt into a revolutionary movement sooner rather than later. A strong Bolshevik-Leninist organization with a correct programme, strategy and Marxist leadership can become a mass revolutionary party and lead the oppressed toilers of this land to a socialist victory. And the revolutionary repercussion of such a victory shall spread far beyond the existing frontiers.
May 10, 2008
Socialism has been under discussion for more than two centuries , now it has been under threat. Many scholars have been writing on death of socialism. On the other hand various contradictory thoughts are on the scene in name of Socialism. I saw this article on the international Marxist website and found it interesting. i hope it will further the debate:
|Socialism: what it is – what it is not|
|By Ann Robertson in San Francisco|
|Monday, 28 August 2006|
|“Socialism!” The mere uttering of the word conjures up the most horrifying nightmare for a small, extremely rich minority who, because it monopolizes the productive forces of society-the factories and businesses that make up our economy – succeed in pursuing unlimited profit and unimaginable riches by allotting to the rest of humanity an increasingly smaller share of society’s wealth. Having created an objectively unstable system because of the perilously lopsided distribution of wealth, these rich people are compelled to manufacture on a daily basis massive doses of propaganda to serve as their life-support system, with the earnest hope of convincing their victims that this is, after all, the best of all possible worlds. Socialism, a doctrine which threatens to pull the plug on their perverse system before it succeeds in destroying us, the environment, and the future of humanity, is deservedly the foremost target of this campaign of lies, deceit, and slander.
This small, capitalist, profit-addicted minority has consequently unleashed an unrelenting campaign intent upon tying socialism to totalitarianism, drawing the knot so tightly that the two concepts are pressed into one. One might note, by the way, that U.S. capitalists themselves have no particular aversion to totalitarianism – they have toppled countless democratically elected governments and replaced them with military dictatorships throughout the world. But they also know that ordinary, decent working people are repelled by any form of totalitarian rule and with hypocritical glee these capitalists eagerly exploit this human moral aversion in order to advance their own profit-pursuing interests.
This campaign of lies received an unexpected windfall ironically from the USSR itself. Having usurped state power, Stalin violently shredded every remnant of workers’ democracy and proceeded to establish a privileged bureaucracy which enjoyed all kinds of luxuries, although many people did not have enough to eat. While Stalin personally ruled over the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy in turn ruled over the entire country, smashing every independent voice with an iron fist and murdering those who dared protest. Then, having created its own repressive regime at the expense of the working population, the Stalinist bureaucracy was compelled to manufacture its own propaganda machine to give itself the semblance of legitimacy. Without missing a beat and with his own hypocritical smirk discreetly concealed from the masses, Stalin, with the pious hope that all honest aspirations for a genuinely socialist society would be safely set aside, proclaimed this wretched state of affairs a glorious “socialist” society .
What more proof could an unsuspecting, inquiring person need when the two superpowers, avowed enemies, nevertheless agreed that socialism and totalitarianism were one and the same?
But if one is seriously interested in the truth, would it not be appropriate to inquire whether Stalin, who was intent on suppressing millions of people, might not also be intent on suppressing the truth, if it served his interests? Or should we assume that, even though he fed the Russian people lies while depriving them of food, when it came to an explosive concept such as “socialism,” he became an honest man? And similarly, should the capitalist class in this country, who could lose their vast fortunes if the masses acquire a clear conception of socialism, be exclusively relied upon for an unbiased presentation of the facts? With these questions in mind, let us turn to Marx so that we may be in a position to separate fabrication from fact.
Marx has been credited with codifying the first scientific formulation of socialism. But in what sense is the term “scientific” being employed here? Other socialists, utopian as opposed to scientific, preceded Marx and were united by their moral repulsion when faced with the cruel exploitation of capitalism. All of them individually imagined their own version of a moral, more humane society and hoped that their vision might capture the hearts of humanity so that people would be moved to throw off the barbaric capitalistic system and reorganize society according to the principles they outlined. None, however, offered a realistic strategy that would suggest how their particular utopia could be achieved, nor did any of them argue why their particular version was a more realistic alternative than any of the others, or why it was a realistic possibility at all.
Marx departed from this utopian tradition and established socialism on a scientific foundation by undertaking two studies which enabled him to resolve the above problems. First, he engaged in a detailed study of history which led him to conclude that the propelling force that underlies historical development is class struggle: “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.” Of course, such a statement is an empirical claim, but history is replete with so many examples that even bourgeois historians have been forced to resort to the concept of class in order to explain historical events.
But the fact that history is generated from class struggle still leaves unanswered the questions, within capitalist society: What are the contending classes? Which class will prevail in the struggle? What new kind of society will this class be compelled to create?
In order to tackle these questions, Marx’s second study amounted to a detailed analysis of capitalism, the results of which are recorded in his four volumes of CAPITAL. A few basic features of his analysis are of particular relevance to the questions at hand.
First, because it is an economy based on individual private property, capitalism, at least on one level, is a system which places everyone in competition with everyone else. In this respect, it is indeed Hobbes’ war of “all against all” where each individual attempts to maximize his or her own well-being at the expense of others. “The only force bringing them together, and putting them into relation with each other, is the selfishness, the gain and the private interest of each. Each pays heed to himself only, and no one worries about the others.” (CAPITAL, Vol. 1.)
Second, and on a deeper level, we find that capitalism by no means places individuals on a level playing field in this Hobbsian war. At the outset some individuals, because of historical conditions, own the productive forces of society – the tools, machines, buildings, etc. that are required to produce articles that will satisfy society’s needs – but the majority of society’s members do not own them and are consequently forced to seek employment from those who do. The capitalists, the owners of the productive forces, are then in business to make a profit and thereby expand the amount of private property at their disposal. But the enterprising capitalist cannot be content with just any profit; each must aim at the maximum amount, since capitalists are in a perpetual state of competition with one another. Extra profits serve as an arsenal that a capitalist can employ to undercut and thereby eliminate a competitor.
But this requirement to maximize profits, resulting from inter-capitalist competition, in turn unleashes an inexorably antagonistic dynamic between the capitalists, on the one hand, and their workers on the other. All of the things that workers want for themselves and their family – higher salaries, health benefits, lengthy, paid vacations, sick leave, pensions, etc. – can only be won at the expense of the capitalists’ profits. The more the workers succeed in pressing their interests, the lower the capitalists’ profits. Consequently, capitalists and workers find themselves in a perpetual state of war with one another. Sometimes this war is waged quietly, almost invisibly, as workers simply leave work early and let someone else punch them out on the time clock. But at other times these antagonistic relations erupt violently where workers battle cops in order to defend their picket lines, defy court injunctions, and halt production until the owners are forced to their knees and concede to their demands.
Thus far we have considered the relation of capitalist-to-capitalist and worker-to-capitalist. Before we turn to the crucial relation of worker-to-worker, we should understand that Marx identifies various tendencies operating within this system.
First, there is a tendency for the working class to grow as a result of the competition among capitalists where the losers are precipitated into the working class.
Second, as one capitalist enterprise swallows up another, there is a tendency for the prevailing enterprise to increase in size, bringing an increasing number of workers into close proximity to one another.
Third, the growth in the size of the remaining enterprises then requires the assemblage of ever-larger quantities of profit to combat the ever-larger capitalist opponent. And this tendency correspondingly implies an intensified struggle between capitalists and their respective workers.
Finally, the chaotic, unplanned, every-capitalist-for-himself nature of capitalism has the inevitable result of spawning endemic economic crises so that huge sectors of the working class are thrown out of work and production in many industries comes to a grinding halt.
“Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.” (Communist Manifesto)
All of these tendencies conspire to compel the working class into action in order to defend its standard of living. Initially, workers will pursue the satisfaction of their needs individually since capitalism, after all, encourages everyone to operate as an isolated individual.
But workers soon learn the futility of obtaining all they want in terms of job security, health benefits, pensions, etc., by approaching the boss alone as individuals, since capitalists know very well that if they concede to the demands of one worker, the others will soon be knocking at the door. But while one worker alone is powerless, workers discover quickly that together they can wield tremendous power. For example, when they launch a strike, production comes to a halt, profits vanish, and the owner incurs ever greater losses as machines lie idle, products sit on the shelf, and customers threaten to seek out another producer.
However, to win a strike, it is not sufficient for workers to remain at home. They must transform themselves from workers who passively take orders at the work place into workers who take the initiative, actively organize themselves, and prepare for battle. They must organize picket lines, make provisions for food, train defense units, create public relations committees, etc. And when all these efforts pay off and workers claim victory, their celebration reverberates throughout the working class. Other workers say to themselves that they could do the same and proceed to organize themselves so that strikes spread like a wildfire. But setbacks are inevitable. Neither ‘the course of true love (nor the course of class struggle) ever did run smooth.’
But there comes a time amidst all these trials and tribulations that the workers come to the realization that this constant struggle is not the result of a few bad capitalists but of the capitalist system itself, a system predicated upon producing profit for the rich by exploiting the entire working class. Workers realize that they are not simply being oppressed individually, but as a class, since profits for capitalists can only be maximized by minimizing wages and benefits for workers. They come to understand that all competition among workers, all attempts to promote oneself at the expense of one’s co-workers, serve the interests exclusively of the capitalist class, while inevitably damaging the prospects of the working class as a whole. They realize that their only salvation lies in acting as a class: organized, unified, and galvanized by the principle, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Moreover, because the working class represents the vast majority of the population, because all wealth is produced by its own sweat and blood, because the working class, like a beast of burden, carries the entire society on its shoulders so that capitalism would collapse in an instant without its willing participation, a deep-seated conviction begins to take hold of the consciousness of working people – a conviction that they alone have the power to seize history, shake society at its very foundations, and remake it according to principles that operate in their interests – the interests of the majority.
So Marx, in painstaking detail, demonstrates that the logic of capitalism ineluctably pushes workers into a march towards socialism. This is no utopian recipe: workers either move towards socialism or watch their standard of living decline. “Along with the constant decrease in the number of capitalist magnates, who usurp and monopolize all the advantages of this process of transformation, the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation and exploitation grows; but with this there also grows the revolt of the working class, a class constantly increasing in numbers, and trained, united, and organized by the very mechanism of the capitalist process of production.” (Communist Manifesto)
Tired of watching their real wages fall, tired of being told the company will leave the country every time they ask for a raise, tired of monotonous work, long working days, short vacations, and tyrannical bosses, tired of watching politicians pander to every whim of the rich at the expense of the public welfare, working people will rise up, seize society at its foundations and overturn the entire system with the overpowering strength that comes when the immense majority of the population, act in their own interests and in the interests of all the oppressed members of society. “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority. (Communist Manifesto)
This revolution – for nothing less than a revolution will suffice – will inaugurate a new age where working people take control of the economy and all the wealth they themselves created and begin to implement economic policies that reflect their own interests. The anarchy of capitalism, where individuals struggle to maximize their own private well-being, will be replaced by a democratically determined, planned economy where the most socially enlightened economic alternatives are implemented – those that maximize the well-being of everyone. “Let us finally imagine, for a change, an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common, and expending their many different forms of labor power in full self-consciousness as one single social force.” (Capital, Vol. 1)
For example, in capitalist society huge expenditures are allocated to military production which are then employed to protect the profits of U.S. business abroad. Whenever an elected leader in some foreign country hints at nationalizing U.S.corporate property there, the U.S. government orchestrates a coup, installs a military dictatorship which proceeds to outlaw strikes, restrict unions, etc., and thereby succeeds in lowering wages and raising corporate profits. But as a result of these measures, the wages of American workers decline as they must now compete against cheaper foreign labor. Moreover, under capitalism vast sums of money are spent on advertising to convince people to purchase products that are actually harmful to them (cigarettes, fast food, alcohol, etc.), or products that they really do not need, or to convince people to buy one brand rather than another when there is no substantial difference between the two.
In a socialist society, workers will be in a position to discontinue these kinds of investments in favor of others that directly promote the social well-being of the majority; for example, quality education, housing, public transportation, heath care, cleaning up the environment, developing solar energy, organic farming, etc.
But all aspects of the economy can be similarly reorganized to reflect the interests of the majority. While capitalists strive to minimize the number of workers at every business, but maximize the amount of work each worker performs, thereby making unemployment endemic, under socialism everyone who is able will be encouraged to work so that the work week may be correspondingly reduced, thereby providing working people with more free time.
Moreover, work itself will be immediately humanized. In contrast to capitalism where workers are compelled to submit to the will of the boss, in a socialist society every position of authority will be elected so that these elected officials will nevertheless be required to submit to the will of the majority, under threat of being removed from their position. With this inversion of power, workers can take steps to organize production so that their own well-being and the interests of society are simultaneously maximized.
Once everyone is afforded a quality education, once workers’ control of production is institutionalized and the work week is reduced, the crippling division of labor that capitalism imposes on its work force will gradually be replaced by a society in which individuals will be encouraged to develop all their capacities. “…[T]he division of labor,” according to Marx, “offers us the first example of how… [an] activity is not voluntarily, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him instead of being controlled by him. In contrast, under socialism, we will be in a position to move towards establishing a society in which “nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming a hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.” (The German Ideology)
Marx suffered no illusions about the possibility of establishing a fully developed form of communism in one single revolutionary leap because the kind of human nature engendered under capitalism – selfish individualism, an insatiable desire for the accumulation of material gain, unbridled aggression and the steadfast determination to avoid as much work as possible – will not be extinguished overnight: “What we have to deal with here,” he argued, “is a communist society, not as it has developed its own foundation, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.” (The Critique of the Gotha Program)
Accordingly, Marx distinguished a lower and higher stage of communism. In the lower stage, which has come to be labeled “socialism,” people will be rewarded in proportion to how much work they perform: “He [the worker] receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such and such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds), and with this certificate he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as costs the same amount of labor.” (The Critique of the Gotha Program) In this way, people will experience a direct incentive to work.
Of course, this principle – rewards commensurate with the amount of labor performed – represents an about-face from the prevailing capitalist principle: those who have the most shall receive the most, regardless of whether they perform any work at all! Consequently, the wealthiest 200 members of the capitalist class enjoyed watching their wealth double in one year recently, thanks to the stock market, while 20% of working Americans worked full-time but were not paid sufficiently to rise above the poverty line.
One absolutely crucial ingredient in this process of historical development is the relation of the working class to the state. Under capitalism, the state is generally controlled by the wealthy, and democracy amounts to the rich determining among themselves which policies to impose on the rest of society. Even such bourgeois publications as The New York Times have supplied accounts detailing how capitalists – through an elaborate process of lobbying, campaign contributions, etc. – succeed in imposing their will on the public domain. But Marx did not simply endorse the working class trading roles with the capitalist class, taking the reins of government in its own hands and expelling its former oppressor. The capitalist institutions of government have become a huge bureaucracy, immune to dramatic change, a feature which serves capitalists quite well since they have no interest in forging great changes in a system that operates exclusively in their interests. But a bureaucratic government would be anathema for working people, since power is monopolized in the hands of a few while the majority is disenfranchised.
In order to create democratic institutions that could be wielded by the majority, not simply a minority, Marx insisted that the former bureaucratic institutions would have to be “smashed,” as he explained in a letter: “…[I]f you look at the last chapter of my 18th Brumaire, you will find that I declare that the next step of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is the preliminary condition for every real people’s revolution on the Continent.” (Letter to Kugelmann, 1871) In place of the oppressive bureaucracy, Marx envisioned commune-like institutions that were created by working people in Paris in 1871 and later in Russia prior to and at the time of the 1917 revolution. These are institutions that are created by workers on the most basic level of their experience, in the factory or in their neighborhoods, in order to democratically press their own needs. “Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes….” (The Civil War in France) The centralized power was then to be demoted in favor of creating real power on the local level:
“…[T]he Commune was to be the political form of even the smallest country hamlet…. The rural communes of every district were to administer their common affairs by an assembly of delegates in the central town, and these district assemblies were again to send deputies to the National Delegation in Paris, each delegate to be at any time revocable and bound by the mandat imperatif [formal instructions] of his constituents.”
In this way, “The Communal Constitution would have restored to the social body all the forces hitherto absorbed by the State parasite feeding upon, and clogging the free movement of society,” and the former centralized, bureaucratic government would give way to “the self-government of the producers.” (The Civil War in France)
As socialism unfolds and scarcity is eliminated, removing the blight of poverty from humanity, and after people create new, more nurturing relations among themselves so that the individual no longer looks out in fear upon a hostile world, these social relations will give birth to a new human nature with a new social consciousness where people realize that no one can be free as an individual while others are enslaved. As social creatures dependent upon one another for the satisfaction of both our physical and psychological needs, we come to the realization that our individual well-being cannot be achieved alone. “Only in community [with others has each] individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions; only in the community, therefore, is personal freedom possible. ” (The German Ideology) Hence, “…the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” (Communist Manifesto)
Far from suppressing individuality, therefore, communism, as defined by Marx, will be the first social formation that actually allows individuality to blossom. Under capitalism, “… that for which I can pay – that I am…. Thus what I am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality…. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored and therefore so is its possessor.” Under communism, on the other hand, “…you can exchange love only for love, trust only for trust, etc. If you want to enjoy art, you must be an artistically cultivated person; if you want to exercise influence over, people, you must be a person with a stimulating and encouraging effect on other people. Everyone of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life.” (1844 Manuscripts)
A life in which most of our waking hours are devoted to acquiring the necessities to survive will give way to a life in which our physical needs are satisfied and we can proceed to develop our more spiritual talents: art, science, philosophy, literature, etc.
Finally, “…after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therefore also the antithesis between mental and physical labor has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of cooperative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banner; “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” (The Critique of the Gotha Program)
While the capitalist class and Stalinists have gone to exceptional lengths to conceal and distort Marx’s positions, Marx himself, with unbridled enthusiasm, did everything in his power to disseminate them in the most unambiguous form conceivable. And so the Communist Manifesto concludes:
“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”
(Originally published in Socialist Viewpoint, May 2001, Vol. 1, No. 1)
May 4, 2008
Nadeem F Paracha is a noted Pakistani journalist who writes in Daily Dawn, the most prestigious English daily from Pakistan. NFP is one of his kind left in Pakistani journalism, still the “good old fashioned socialist” type . He is frequently dismissed as a “music and cultural” critic. The fact remains that he may be the only one in Pakistan who is writing like a “cultural theorist”. Understanding the music, media, fashion, attitudes and discourse in a leftist historicist way, especially intriguing is his writing on emergence of Pakistani pop music with the student youth politics in Pakistan, from rise of socialist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to his hanging and start of Zia era which he frequently writes continues to this day, equating the various shades of youth popular culture with political struggle is very enlightening. He is wrote a piece in his column “smokers corner” on the right wing issues that have been forced on whole nation by the media , judiciary and danish cartoons. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
“I’d rather fight for a tree than die for a God”. Nadeem F Paracha
Damn Darwinian thugs
Democracy is about higher goals and wider ideals. It requires sacrifices. A two-ton imported Australian cow being slaughtered on Baqra Eid is one such sacrifice.
Screams a newspaper headline: “The National Assembly condemns blasphemous Danish cartoons and Danish film.”
Commendable, indeed. I think this is the fourth time the assembly has done this. So reads another headline: “Government to fund pro-Islam film to counter blasphemous Dutch movie.”
This is even more commendable and noble. I mean this is all I voted in this government for. And, of course, the judiciary issue.
In other words, once the judges are reinstated, the Danes condemned and the pro-Islam film completed, fuel prices will come down, atta will reappear, load-shedding shall come to a halt, the economy will be salvaged, crime will be controlled, education standards will go up, etc.
Yes, sir, it’s as easy as that. And did I mention how Pakistan shall once again become a bastion and true defender of Islam? That’s our true calling. As envisioned by the Quaid-i-Azam. Zia said so.
Just wait for that glorious day when the judges shall be restored. All shall be well — the economy, society, politics, roads… Yes, especially the roads. Long, firm, smooth. No potholes. No more.
I demand that the National Assembly and the gallant TV news channels continue talking about the judiciary, the Dane and the Dutch. No use wasting time talking about electricity and the atta crises, the price hike, street crime and poverty, and especially incidents of dirty Hindus being burned/lynched for “blasphemy.”
All these are international Zionist-American-Tibetan conspiracies against the great nation of Pakistan. A country that would have become another Japan had “true Islam” been allowed to thrive. And don’t you ask how. You wouldn’t want to get lynched, now would you?
So, I insist that the government make at least four sequels of the pro-Islam film, Rs5 billion each, at least. Because, as we all know, Pakistan is now a rich country. Shaukat Aziz said so.
Never mind the whiners and the losers who are always complaining. “No electricity,” “No water,” “No jobs,” “So much crime,” “hai, kya hoga?” Well, boo-hoo! Can’t these people ever rise above the petty issues and understand the importance of the bigger issues at stake? Issues like the restoration of judiciary, conspiracies against Islam … and the Indian Premier League! Yes, that too. Naseem Ashraf said so. Democracy is about higher goals and wider ideals. It requires sacrifices. A two-ton imported Australian cow being slaughtered on Baqra Eid is one such sacrifice. So what if the cow’s weight is more than the combined weight of the hundreds of bhookay, nangay kids who gather around the cow to see it being sacrificed. It is good for Islam and good for democracy. The Muree Declaration said so.
So keep beaming in the press conferences, the talk shows, the breaking news… Let’s talk, talk and talk more. About the “real issues”!
Let’s know what the status of the mazool judges is, how many days left for the dreaded deadline. Because even if more and more stomachs in Pakistan are going empty, let’s at least keep the adrenalin pumping!
Let’s gaze at our navels and figure out where Osama is, or who slapped whom in parliament, and who dared put a brilliant TV channel like Peace off the air? Who, who? Come forth … and get lynched, blasphemer!
Why not close down channels like the National Geographic and Animal Planet. Channels who promote Darwinism, or worse, show hairy animals procreating in public. Yes, here is another big issue, ladies and gentlemen: innocent Pakistanis being exposed to immoral Darwinian procreation practices on TV!
I demand the TV news channels and the National Assembly to talk about this issue as well. These so-called nature and science channels should be condemned. I implore the authorities that a film should be funded to prove them wrong. To prove that babies fall from the sky and mommies catch them and that all animals caught procreating in public should be lynched! Or sacrificed. For the sake of democracy. And the judiciary. On Baqra Eid. Yeah.
So, ladies and gentlemen, do not be distracted by losers whining about the poverty, the crime, the economy, the electricity, the water, the this the that, and what not. These are petty issues for petty people. Be big, be bold. Talk about the real issues: the judiciary, the Dane and the Dutch, forward blocs, state dinners, and of course, obscene Darwinian nature channels.
In fact, I demand that the religious parties call for a strike against the airing of these channels. And while we’re at it, let’s burn a few trees, wild bores, deer and snow leopards as well. Damn Darwinian thugs!
Nadeem F Paracha