Though it has become a general fashion in the liberal intelligentsia to curse Marxist analysis , it’s simply astonishing to note  that it has been very accurate in explaining the complex perspectives totally missed and unresolved by liberal analysis. Global Economic Crisis and Arab Spring are just two most outstanding examples, while BBC published a leading middle east expert testifying that Egypt will not follow Tunis on the road to revolution , the masses were flexing their muscles as Marxists were telling us since last year. While a lot as been said about the politics in the Islamic Republic , the text unfortunately has a Derridian flavour of  ever “said” is “unsaid”. Whatever has been said for past few years by our great anchors, intellectuals, key opinion leaders turned out to be simply rubbish. One really feels in awe about the job description of these great men and women who get paid in million for saying and writing rubbish. On the contrary it’s again astonishing that since the day PPP government took office , Pakistani Marxists have been very successful in explaining the complex perspective with a relative ease. They were accurate in their description of nature of judicial movement, the futility of black revolution , the coalition between PPP and PML N, the imperialist nature of war on terror ,and the ” relationship of mutual deception between USA and Pakistan military establishment. The parent descendant relationship between establishment and Islamists,  the sharpening of national question by establishment etc. Now that every one is talking about the great vision of Imran Khan i had the pleasure to read this great piece on him by leading Marxist intellectual Lal Khan. The article explains in concrete terms the phenomenon of Imran Khan and so-called civil society. If one reads carefully it will be a treat as it provides one with tools needed to analyze the fluid political perspective of Islamic Republic. Whats he says explains Khan superbly:

Imran Khan is no Oedipus in this crime infested politics of a rotten state and system. His odd admixture of Islamic crusades, western liberalism and a redundant nationalism can only add to the prevailing political confusion. The ideology of Pakistani national chauvinism he propagates withered away in the paddy fields of East Bengal drenched in blood forty years ago. The justice he vows to impart is unaffordable in market economics. The corruption he decries is not the cause of the crisis but the need and product of debilitated capitalism. Black money and corruption run the economic cycle that is prodding the country. The British parliamentary system he espouses is still a monarchy and increasingly facing revulsion by the British masses. The Pan-Islamism he idealises is in contradiction with the Pakistan nation state that he harps upon. The American police system he wants to impose has bred more crime than anywhere in the advanced world. The US he wants to befriend on an “equal basis” will not stop leeching off Pakistan as long as capitalism exists here. (LK)

Shaheryar Ali

 

Pakistan: Passions without truths – the myth of Imran Khan

Lal Khan. www.Marxist.com

It is often said that history repeats itself, but the truth is that it never does so in exactly the same way; it repeats itself but on on a higher plane. The general consciousness of the masses in any society is neither static nor eternal. It is in a state of constant change, flux and motion. Betrayals and defeats push it back but with the new resurgence of the class struggle it rises to new heights.

However, the temperament and moods of different classes in society can vary according to the conditions and the epoch through which it is passing. In general terms the social psychology of the middle classes or the petit bourgeoisie is empirical and suffers from bouts of impatience reflecting its social and economic base. This, in times of crisis, puts it in a state of permanent insecurity, discontent and unrest, swinging from one extreme to the other – trying to ape the bourgeoisie in ordinary times and jump into the proletarian bandwagon in revolutionary situations.

While the toiling classes can endure hardships for long periods of time and from an empirical outlook sometimes they seem to be infinitely dormant and docile. There can be decades of lull and yet these working classes can explode into volcanic eruptions that can transform the politico-economic systems and change the course of history through revolutionary insurrections. Such periods are historical exceptions. Most bourgeois experts and intellectuals cannot contemplate these tremors in advance as they are mentally blocked from doing so by their philosophy of logical positivism and methods of so-called pragmatism.

At the present moment in time, apart from some sporadic struggles, Pakistan is passing through a period of relative lull as far as the mass movement is concerned, yet society is immersed in a terrible social and economic crisis that has pulverised it. This contradictory state of affairs gives rise to a political vacuum where there is no visible force on the wider political horizon that can present an economic and political way out of this misery and distress. Nature abhors vacuum, however. Hence we see peculiar phenomena that arise to fill this vacuum with rhetoric that touches upon the burning problems but has no real solutions to avert the impending catastrophe. The ostentatious nature of the petit bourgeoisie or the so-called civil society makes them feverishly attracted to these “liberators”. As a class it is the petit bourgeoisie that provides the social base for religious fundamentalism, vulgar liberalism, national chauvinism and other metaphysical and sentimentalist tendencies in periods of social stagnation. The latest episode of this series of petit bourgeois binges is the “rise” of Imran Khan.

He has been hyped up by the media and sections of the ruling oligarchy and the state as a substitute, in a situation where yet another attempt by the ruling classes to attack the working classes through a democratic façade is being foisted onto the masses. After the failure of direct rule and the loss of the cohesion of the army’s apparatus that would permit it to impose its rule once more, this weary and weak attempt to salvage a redundant system, shows the pathetic state of Pakistan’s ruling elite.

Looking at the democratic political circus in Pakistan one is reminded of the celebrated words of the 18th century British conservative politician Edmund Burke: “The tribe of vulgar politicians are the lowest of our species. There is no trade so vile and mechanical as the government in their hands. Virtue is not their habit. They are out of themselves in any course of conduct recommended only by conscience and glory. The calculators compute them out of their senses. The jesters and buffoons shame them out of everything grand and elevated. Littleness is the object and in means, to them appears soundness and sobriety.”

Imran Khan is no Oedipus in this crime infested politics of a rotten state and system. His odd admixture of Islamic crusades, western liberalism and a redundant nationalism can only add to the prevailing political confusion. The ideology of Pakistani national chauvinism he propagates withered away in the paddy fields of East Bengal drenched in blood forty years ago. The justice he vows to impart is unaffordable in market economics. The corruption he decries is not the cause of the crisis but the need and product of debilitated capitalism. Black money and corruption run the economic cycle that is prodding the country. The British parliamentary system he espouses is still a monarchy and increasingly facing revulsion by the British masses. The Pan-Islamism he idealises is in contradiction with the Pakistan nation state that he harps upon. The American police system he wants to impose has bred more crime than anywhere in the advanced world. The US he wants to befriend on an “equal basis” will not stop leeching off Pakistan as long as capitalism exists here.

He is playing the part of a right-wing populist trying to console a beleaguered people with the rhetoric of reforms that the system has no room for. The Balouch and other oppressed nationalities he wants to negotiate and patch up a deal with, have  since long rejected the two nation theory that Imran Khan is trying to resurrect as its new Messiah. He may be the establishment’s black horse, but who can be in the ring without the blessings of the hierarchy of the state.

The Chinese alternative of time tested friendship is a hoax. Whenever have they made a policy not coherent with their interests? China is today the biggest exporter of capital. And capital is invested to extract profit, not to be eulogised. The workers’ rights he talks about can only be slashed in the present day investment that is capital intensive. Revolutionary parties and leaders are not built by media “exposure” and pampering, but conversely the revolutionary victories are snatched from the jaws of the hostile and belligerent media by rousing the masses against it.

Imran Khan is offering everything to everybody, that means that the status quo is retained and the rich will get richer and the poor will be impoverished even more. That is the only possible fate under capitalism in decline. But the most insidious aspect of the mobs around Khan is that as in the lawyers’ movement the ideological differentiation is being scorned. The ideological divide between the left and right is not a theoretical synopsis. It stems from the nature of the class divisions in society and the struggle for the surplus of labour that is in the last analysis the struggle of life and death. As long as class exploitation exists the ideological fight will continue to rage on. It is a line drawn in the blood of the generations of the toilers. Imran khan is rousing the petit bourgeoisie with passions sans truth. Once the mass movement erupts again, no deception will suffice. Class war will have to be fought to the finish.

Written by Marie Frederiksen Tuesday, 08 March 2011

With thanks: International Marxist Website

“I really believe the revolution has changed us. People are acting differently towards each other.” These are the words of Ms Kamel, 50, one of the many women who were out on Tahrir Square, actively participating in the revolution.

Cairo, February 4. Photo: 3arabawy

Arab women have once again shown that women play a decisive role in revolutionary events. In Egypt women have been participating actively in the revolution, in the same way that they played an active role in the strike movement in the few last years, in several cases pressurizing the men to join the strikes.

In earlier protests in Egypt, women only accounted for about 10 per cent of the protesters, but on Tahrir Sqaure they accounted for about 40 to 50 per cent in the days leading up to the fall of Mubarak. Women, with and without veils, participated in the defence of the square, set up barricades, led debates, shouted slogans and, together with the men, risked their lives.

Another view on women

Probably the most important motive force so far has been ordinary people’s striving for respect and dignity (something that was also clear in the Russian revolution and in France in May 1968). The dictatorial regimes, the police and the bosses don’t treat people as human beings, but as animals. That goes for all workers and poor, but especially for women.

Women’s perception of themselves has been changed through the struggle. “We have suffered the taste of teargas, but we are not afraid. The women who are afraid to leave the house, even they see us and gain courage,” explained English teacher Riham Muntaz, 25, to the newspaper The National on February 14. (Women make their power felt in Egypt’s revolution 14.02.11)

The idea that men and women should be different was removed during the revolution. Mozn Hassan, the director of the Nasra Feminist Studies Centre in Cairo said, “No one sees you as a woman here; no one sees you as a man. We are all united in our desire for democracy and freedom.” She explains that it was the freedom women experienced at Tahrir Sqaure that made them return again and again bringing along their friends, sisters and mothers.

The revolution also changed the relation between the sexes. “(…) In the square, you had people from different classes, both men and women, mixing, talking and debating. They [men] were seeing that women are strong, that they can look after themselves. They were seeing women work hard for the revolution, leading protests, and their response [not groping] is their way of saying, ‘I respect you’,” explained Ms. Hassan. Sexual harassment has been a large problem in Egypt. More than four out of five women have been sexually assaulted at some time, and the police has used this also to intimidate women, but it has been completely absent in the struggle against the Mubarak regime.

Women’s liberation through class struggle

Arab women are now showing the way forward. The right-wing bourgeois parties have used the oppression of women in many societies where Islam is the main religion to campaign against the so-called “Muslim world” and legitimize the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately in this they have had help from intellectuals and so-called left-wingers that have been complaining about the “Muslim view on women”. Other left-wingers has swung to the opposite side and even made concessions to religious forces in the Arab world. The Arab revolution shows that as Marxists we were absolutely correct when we insisted that the struggle for women’s rights is part of the class struggle and that these two are inseparable.

The Arab masses have shown that the class divide is the only decisive division. In the united struggle of the masses neither religion, gender or race play any role, and prejudices are overcome in practice. Marx explained, “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. When the material conditions are no longer tolerable for the great majority and the masses are forced to fight for better conditions, through this struggle their consciousness and ideas are changed dramatically.

Freedom to what?

The Egyptian women who have come out massively onto the streets did not do so in the name of some abstract women’s liberation. They took the streets in order to create a better life for themselves and their families.

English teacher Ms. Muntaz explains how she struggles to make ends meet. “I get paid 400 [Egyptian] pounds a month… I have no health insurance, if I need an operation I have to pay for it myself. I have no contract, no job security. We want a better life for us and for our children. We deserve a better life.”

The struggle of the Arab masses has just started. The Arab women have shown enormous courage and have shown that the struggle for women’s liberation only can be carried out as part of the struggle for a general liberation of the whole of the working people. They will realize that genuine women’s liberation does not flow from formal freedom and formal democracy, but that it requires a real social revolution.

Written by Lal Khan in Lahore Tuesday, 22 December 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

After years of military dictatorships followed by sham democracy, the situation in Pakistan has reached such a point that the masses are yearning for radical change. Their suffering is immense as the people at the top continue to enrich themselves at the expensive of the workers and peasants, collaborating with imperialism as it rides rough-shod over the people of Pakistan. Everything is moving to an inevitable revolutionary explosion.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court in its verdict of 16 December, 2009 declared the notorious NRO null and void ab initio. The National Reconciliation Ordinance of October 2007 was promulgated by the then President of Pakistan General Parvaiz Musharraf. It was the outcome of a deal he had struck with Benazir Bhutto, life Chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party in a covert meeting in Abu Dhabi. The deal was brokered by the United States and Britain. The aim was to create a new setup that could facilitate the imperialist war and other interests in this turbulent region.

According to this ordinance all cases of politicians including corruption, murder, extortion, kidnappings and other heinous crimes would be withdrawn. Some of the major beneficiaries are now in power including Benazir’s widower Zardari, now the President of Pakistan and some of his most sinister ministers. The other main beneficiary is the Muteheda Qaumi Movement, MQM, whose leader, an absconder resident in London for several years, and its other leading figures were facing charges of murder and other crimes. The MQM is a mafia-type organisation with neo-fascist tendencies and its main ideological baggage is based on ethnic conflict.

The present democratic dispensation is the product of such a nefarious design. After Benazir’s assassination in December 2007 Musharraf’s fate was sealed. The plan B came into action and Zardari having a long standing relationship with US officials was catapulted into the presidency with his firm assurance that he would be more subservient to the Americans than Musharraf or Benazir could ever have been. The Electoral College for this election are comprised of members of the National and provincial assemblies who were elected in the February 2008 elections, the results of which were tailor-made in Washington to serve the imperialist strategies.

Ironically this unanimity, or “reconciliation”, between all the parties in Parliament was prompted by a collective fear on the part of these representatives of the ruling class in the wake of the beginnings of a mass movement that they witnessed on the arrival of Benazir from exile in Karachi on October 18, 2007 and later after the explosion of the wrath of the workers, peasants and youth at the news of her assassination on December 27, 2007. After a long period of suffering, the oppressed in Pakistan had risen up in the hope that the leader of their traditional party, the PPP under Benazir Bhutto, would be a beacon of change and free them from the unrelenting misery and distress.

The Americans had already done their homework with the PPP leaders, who mainly come from the moneyed classes, to divert this outburst into a democratic election and façade of “democracy”. These leaders drowned the mass anger and revolt in sorrow and despair. They refused to call for a general strike for the elections to be held on the scheduled date of January 8, 2008 and blocked the movement. This gave an opportunity to the Pakistani state and its imperialist masters to regroup their forces and stave off the threat of a revolutionary upheaval.

The Military in Pakistan has ruled directly for more than half of the country’s 62 years of chequered history. All the military regimes were supported and propped up by US imperialism. During the “democratic” intermissions the plight of the masses continued to deteriorate. After the first decade (1947-58) of democratic regimes, such was the crisis that when Martial Law was imposed by Field Martial Ayub Khan there was even a sense of relief amongst several sections of society.

Ayub Khan had the impertinence to say in one of his initial statements “we must understand that democracy cannot work in a hot climate. To have democracy we must have a cold climate like Britain.” General Ayub told the first meeting of his cabinet, “As far as you are concerned there is only one embassy that matters in this country: the American Embassy.”

The Ayub dictatorship embarked upon an ambitious economic, agrarian and industrial programme in the 1960s, mainly sponsored by “US Aid” and the World Bank. Although Pakistan achieved its highest growth rates under Ayub, Keynesian economic policies failed to improve the lot of the masses. The aggravated social contradictions exploded into the revolution of 1968-69 that was fundamentally of a socialist character. [See Pakistan’s Other Story-The 1968-69 Revolution].

The failure of the existing left leadership to give a clear revolutionary programme and perspective to the movement resulted in the rise of the Populism of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Due to the absence of a Bolshevik-Leninist revolutionary party the revolution was lost. But it did shake the whole of South Asia. The ruling classes initially tried to impose Martial Law again. However, its failure to curb the tide resulted in the first elections based on the adult franchise in 1970 where the PPP became the largest party in West Pakistan.

Having failed to curtail the revolutionary wave that pierced through the ballot, ultimately the ruling classes resorted to a war with India, which led to the break-up of Pakistan and then Bhutto was given power who, forced by the pressure of the masses, initiated radical reforms from above, but only to exhaust the revolution brewing below.

Bhutto’s elected left reformist government was subsequently overthrown by a military coup led by General Zia ul Haq in July 1977, who later hanged Bhutto at the behest of US imperialism. The eleven-year brutal dictatorship of Zia was perhaps the most traumatic period for the working masses in Pakistan. In connivance with the Americans, Zia propped up and unleashed the beast of Islamic fundamentalism to crush the left. The continuance of that grotesque monstrosity is what produced the present day fundamentalist terror that is ripping apart the social fabric of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Zia Dictatorship began to crumble after another upheaval on the return from exile of Bhutto’s daughter Benazir in April 1986. The contradictions in the already weakened dictatorship were thus sharpened. General Zia’s plane was conveniently blown up in mid air in August 1988 – some have speculated that this may have been done at the request of the Americans, whom the megalomaniac and insane general had begun to “disobey” seeking his own personal agenda.

From 1988 to 1999 there was another democratic interlude, where Benazir and Nawaz Sharif alternated in short stints of rulerships. This period was marred by an orgy of corruption, incompetence, spiralling economic decline and chaos. General Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup by overthrowing Sharif. Musharraf then introduced a “quasi-democracy” in 2002 but the 9/11 episode in the USA once again made another dictator another main American collaborator. This time the façade was not against communists but we had the so-called “war against terror”.

Musharraf’s demise and the regime that ensued once again brought unprecedented agony and pain for the people of Pakistan. History has turned full circle. This vicious cycle of Pakistan’s political superstructure – dictatorship to democracy and back to dictatorship ‑ has brought no respite to society. Only the suffering has intensified. In reality this is a reflection of the ongoing social and economic crisis built into the foundations of this tragic country.

The Pakistani ruling class after its independence from direct British rule came onto the scene of history too late and with this came an inability to develop the economy. It was a weak class even at its inception. It could not produce enough surpluses for its profits and capital needed to tap the resources of the country and carry out its historical role of the national revolution that its pioneers had envisaged. It adjusted itself accordingly, and its survival depended on the one hand by being subservient to imperialism and on the other allying itself and compromising with the landed aristocracy created under the Raj. The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as early as November 1947, less than three months after the formation of Pakistan, had sent his emissary to Washington asking for a $2bn loan. The response he got was a mere $10million of loose change.

The failure of Pakistan’s ruling elite is evident 62 years later. None of the national democratic tasks have been completed. Several agrarian reforms have failed to abolish feudalism. Pakistan came into existence not as a nation but as a state comprising different nationalities. National oppression continues and the national question has become a festering wound on the body politic of this country. The task of the formation of a modern nation state is far from being achieved and will in fact further deteriorate with the impending crisis. This state of incompleteness of the tasks has wrought havoc on the social and economic life of Pakistani society.

The social and political infrastructure is in a state of collapse. “National sovereignty” is a farce and hardly anybody believes in the state’s independence. Imperialist intervention and domination is on a greater scale today than it was in 1947, the year of Pakistan’s creation. Except for a few years under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, all the finance ministers have been employees of the World Bank or other imperialist financial institutions.

Now the US is even trying to control sections of Pakistan’s armed forces and intruding its military corporate contractors to take over “security” in several vital parts of the country. These include former Blackwater now XE securities, DynCorp and others. An embittered general described the strategic relationship as Americans using Pakistan as a “condom”. The conflicts within the army are also the result of this aggressive hegemony being thrust into the Military’s domain. This is already giving rise to bloody conflicts among different agencies and sections of the armed forces representing black money and other sections of finance capital. This conflict is being waged covertly at the present time. But if a desperate imperialism faces an impending defeat in Afghanistan and tries a partial US occupation of NWFP (Pushtoonkhwa), it could even trigger a severe crisis in the army already under strain from carrying out the CENTCOM instructions on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The fallout could have catastrophic consequences.

Similarly the severe crisis of Pakistani capitalism has failed to develop a parliamentary democracy. The Pakistani ruling class, in the wake of its economic failures turned to plunder of the state at an early stage. They pay less than 10% of total taxation revenues. The real burden falls on the working class who are forced to pay more than 80% of the revenues through indirect taxation. The capitalist class steals electricity and gas, while billions of dollars of bank loans have been written off. According to the figures presented before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a small section of these leeches’ annual corruption exceeds Rs. 500 billion (US$6.2bn). Most of this money is stashed away in western banking havens.

As this process started to become more and more evident, the army, the most powerful instrument of the state, started to become part of this evil nexus of plunderers and usurpers. The drug-funded and US/Saudi sponsored Afghan Jihad brought even greater loot to the coffers of the generals. Other institutions of the state and society including the judiciary, the bureaucracy and the media joined in this orgy of corruption. Hence, whenever there was a political crisis (conflict of the civilian plunderers) the military moved in to quell the rot. The dictatorships bred more corruption and as they began to lose their grip democracy was introduced ‑ the main reason being the growing danger of a mass revolt that is provoked by these repressive regimes.

Although even a bourgeois democracy is a progressive step forward as compared to military dictatorships, the exploitative system that the military rulers intervene to salvage remains intact. In Pakistan this crisis-ridden system again creates a political instability that reflects the burning economic turmoil. The army and state are not a class, but in the last analysis the economic and social conditions determine the nature of the regime that is needed by the ruling class to preserve the system of exploitation of labour. Comrade Ted Grant elaborated on this in 1949 “The state by its very nature is composed of a bureaucracy, officers, generals, heads of police etc. But those do not constitute a class; they are the instrument of a class even if they may be in antagonism to that class. They cannot themselves be a class.” (The unbroken thread, pp.235).

In Pakistan the irony is that time and again the masses have risen up against the dictatorship, fundamentally to overthrow the yoke of exploitation and misery inflicted upon them by this vicious system of class rule. When they were allowed even to make half a choice through the ballot-box they propelled the PPP to power. Yet their hopes have been dashed time and again by the PPP in government in the short span of less than 40 years. The toiling masses have been loyal to their tradition for generations. The ruling class only allowed the PPP into the corridors of power to dissipate the mass upsurge. Above all the ruling class, the state and the imperialists have used the capitulating leaders of the PPP to carry through cuts, privatisations and other drastic anti-working class measures. They could not have achieved so much with the right-wing governments of Sharif, etc., but even under the dictatorships they combined caution with repression.

However, at least in the 1970s the PPP government did carry through some reforms for the betterment of the impoverished masses. In the later PPP governments since 1988 such was the crisis of Pakistani capitalism that there was no room for even minimal reforms. The PPP governments carried through right-wing policies and actions. Paradoxically, privatization and other policies of counter-reforms were introduced at the behest of imperialism by the PPP government in 1989.

The present theory of “reconciliation” initiated by imperialism is the most blatant and insidious form of class collaboration. Policies like the Public Private Partnership (PPP) are a deceptive and poisonous methodology to blunt the class struggle, deceive and corrupt the workers. Such privatization devastates the workers who fall into this treachery of “ownership” of factories from which they are themselves fired to sustain profits. The shares of “ownership” are turned into trash by the speculators on the stock markets and the impoverished workers become bankrupt and are forced into starvation and drudgery.

As the crisis worsens, the ruling class and the establishment come to the conclusion that the potential of a PPP government to carry out the policies to preserve capitalism have become exhausted, and they use the state to kick out PPP governments. If the Army is not in a position to carry out this act, then the other vital organ of the state, the Judiciary comes into play. After all, both are the sacrosanct pillars of the state.

As the PPP is a populist party it lacks democratic structures, with no democratically elected bodies and no revocability of the leadership. Hence an atmosphere of pusillanimity and conformity prevails inside the party where compromises and deals are the prerogative of the leader alone. The working masses have no alternative yet. Hence the right wing regime and dictatorships only prevail until the masses are in a state of disillusionment and despair due to the shattered hopes from the previous PPP government. At the same time the PPP leadership in its quest for power again, using the force of tradition tries to mobilise the masses. The slogans and programmes of every campaign are carefully calculated by the experts and advisors of the PPP leadership.

However, it is very difficult to control the masses once they are mobilized and are on the move. This forces the leaders to radicalise their slogans as the pressure from below mounts. Dialectically this further emboldens the masses and forces the traditional leaders to further move to the left and begin to defy the state. Sections of the state become terrified by this surge and in desperation resort to the most atrocious measures.

This was the dynamic and the intensification of the movement in the autumn of 2007 that led to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The experts who were promoting the interests of the status quo failed to handle this situation that was rapidly spiralling out of control. In ordinary times they try to use ideas and tactics, from left reformism to democracy, to the slogan of “food, shelter and clothing”. But they ensure that the party’s founding programme that calls for revolutionary socialism remains hidden from the rank and file and the workers and youth who are the main basis of support for the Party. It has in fact been buried by the leadership for more than two decades. Actually it is very awkward and embarrassing even to mention the word “socialism” in the meetings of the various tiers of the leaders.

Most if these present-day leaders have never read the founding documents of the PPP. This documents clearly states, “The ultimate objective of the party’s policy is the attainment of a classless society which is only possible through Socialism in our times”. The irony is that the initial revision of this programme was given the vulgar expression of a “multi-class party”. The latest version of this form of class collaborationism is “Reconciliation”. Often such discourses have led to the tragic assassinations of the most charismatic leaders of the PPP.

Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in his last book, “If I am assassinated”, had clearly warned about the catastrophic consequences of these class collaborationist digressions and even stressed upon the role of this ideological deviation in the imposition of Zia’s brutal Martial Law and as a cause of his own ordeal and assassination. Yet the next generation of the PPP leaders have not learnt anything from his last testament. And as the old saying goes, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. How tragically the subsequent events have proved this to be so pertinent. But for how long will the masses continue to adhere to this tradition?

The present PPP-led coalition government based on the theory of “reconciliation” has meant havoc for the masses. In just two years of its existence, price hikes, increases in unemployment, lack of healthcare and education, deprivation, shortage of electricity, water, flour, sugar, petroleum products, gas, etc., have been astronomical. The level of poverty has risen sharply. Wars are raging in large areas of the country. Terrorism, fear, uncertainty and insecurity stalk the land. Suicide bombings and terrorist carnage has turned society into a living hell. The Americans are using the Pakistan Army and the state to fight their wars for strategies and interests that have been given false names and objectives. The PPP is in government but they are not the ones calling the shots. In this caged rulership they are being used to execute policies to further the vested interests of the imperialists and the ruling elites.

The crisis of the state and society has reached such proportions that even the serious bourgeois analysts are terrified of the consequences. They confess today what they could not even imagine in the past. An article in The Dawn says the following:

“Pakistan’s biggest tragedy… has been the axis of trouble between America, Pakistan army and the religious parties… until and unless the axis is broken… the so-called democratisation of Pakistan will not bring peace or prosperity to the latter’s 170 million people, nearly eighty percent of whom live below the poverty line of $2 a day. The army has no incentive to break the axis of trouble (a legacy of the great game) because it thrives on the perpetuations of conflicts in the region and the largesse it receives from the United States. Pakistan had been cursed by the civilian and military leaders who are too eager to follow the US agenda…

“…Politics has been demonised to degrees that save for the incompetent and allegedly corrupt individuals like Mr. Zardari or Mr. Nawaz Sharif or creations of the establishment like Altaf Hussain (MQM) or Maulana Fazalur Rehman, few wish to navigate the treacherous and murderous waters of Pakistani Politics.”

In this crisis-ridden condition the masses have been persistently imbued with the illusion that the judiciary would be the source of their salvation. This notion has been instilled not just by the right-wing politicians, the Islamic fundamentalists, the corrupt and reactionary bourgeois media but also by the left parties and groups. The restoration of the so-called “free” judiciary has not only failed to give any respite to the impoverished millions but has miserably failed to solve even petty issues like sugar shortages, petroleum prices, etc., and has been exposed to be impotent and ineffective. Its ‘suo motto’ actions have proved to be deceptive and farcical. The masses in their experiences of life know that not only justice is ridiculously expensive but it is corrupt to the core. The article in The Dawn further elaborates and exposes the role and character of Pakistan’s Judiciary.

“An independent Judiciary is an oxymoron in current objective conditions. The so called revolt by some in the judiciary against Musharraf was the manifestation of the power struggle inside the establishment. The judiciary is as much part of the collapsing Pakistani state structure as some of the big media personalities. The ugly reality is that the business of that state and policies has become a mafia enterprise with usual mix of big money (read business, drugs, land) interests and crime. This criminal enterprise has the active support of the Americans who find it convenient to use a corrupt instrument that a puppet state is, be it military or quasi military…

“…Until and unless a movement emerges that appeals to popular sentiment and represents the people’s real aspirations to create a genuinely democratic state, Pakistan’s chance of survival in its current state are grim.” (The Dawn, 5 December 2009)

We have quoted this article at some length because it graphically exposes the gravity of the situation. And that exposure is in the most important and traditional paper of Pakistan’s ruling class. The present ruling class are crying hoarse about democracy. They equate every solution of every problem to “democracy”. The din has now escalated to a deafening crescendo. Yelling about democracy at the top their voices round the clock, on the television, in the newspapers, every political party with ideologies ranging from Islamic fundamentalism to the nationalists, to the liberal and so-called ‘secular democrats’, has been issuing an agonising, monotonous and annoying message for the masses. The PPP leaders are the most tedious and raucous. The masses being thrust in the abyss of misery, poverty and disease have become sick and tired of this democratic demagogy, constitutional and legalistic wrangles and all this hypocritical nonsense of “national” interests’ with its decayed and treacherous patriotism.

Democracy is not a social system. It is a methodology used in different varieties in different social systems in history. From that of the Roman republic to the Athenian model and from the Asiatic despotic democracy to the shura of Islam this method of rule has gone through various forms and shapes. The masses in Pakistan have only experienced the worsening of their misery and pain under this “democracy” of finance capital and free market economics. The genuine democracy of the workers and the toiling masses can only be accomplished by the overthrow of this yoke of dictatorship of the financial oligarchy. The conditions on the ground and what the masses think represent a death knell for the upholders of this system. In a recent British Council report of s survey on Pakistan called “Next generation”, the following inferences have been drawn.

The young respondents who participated in this survey are deeply disillusioned with only 15 percent believing that Pakistan is moving in the right direction; 72 percent feel they are worse off than they were a year ago. Given this level of despair it is hardly surprising that only two percent are members of any political party. Just half of them are bothered to get themselves enrolled in the voters list and only 30% voted in the last election. Only half of young Pakistanis enter primary schools and a quarter go on to receive a secondary education. Less than five percent get a higher education of any kind. The conditions in hospitals and other basic facilities are even worse. Seventy eight percent of the population is forced into semi or non scientific medication. They simply can’t afford proper treatment. But this despair and apathy is not going to last forever.

The masses are fed up with most political and ideological tendencies and ideologies on the horizon. All present “solutions” that are within the confines of this rotting capitalist system. The masses are fed up with the Islamic parties and religious fundamentalism. The surge in terrorism has eroded their support drastically, which was not much anyway. They pose no alternative. The pro American stance of the nationalists and their love for a free market enterprise seals their fate of getting a mass social base. Liberal democracy with its rampant corruption, its betrayals and lumbering of the economic crusade upon the shoulders of the population has repelled the masses. There is a widespread revulsion towards these political trends and parties. Meanwhile, the army is going through internal conflicts that have fractured its cohesion and discipline. The escalation of war will further ignite dissent within the armed forces. The judiciary is being rapidly exposed. It sacrosanct image imposed by the media will further erode as deprivation and want intensify. It won’t and can’t solve any problems of the masses.

The PPP government is being targeted by the media. The Muslim League’s and Sharif’s party is facing a downward economic spiral. The only outcome of the policies of the present PPP government is that they are repaving the way for the right wing. If the Sharifs fail the right will bring in another alternative. But even the removal of the PPP government will not quell the rot. The crisis will further aggravate. Even if the ruling class and the Americans try to install a new military dictatorship it will be a very dangerous move for the system itself. It’s not the same military and it’s not the same times. Even Musharraf’s dictatorship seemed to be a picnic compared to the strong dictatorship of Ayub Khan or the brutal and ferocious military rule of Zia Ul Haq.

A new dictatorship may be very repressive to begin with but would be very fragile and would not last long in the present conditions. Bourgeois democracy has failed to deliver. The system is rotten to the core. It cannot take society forward. The extreme crisis of the system reflects the elements of barbarism raising its ugly head in several parts of Pakistan. Without a socio-economic transformation the country is doomed. Its breakup is not the most likely perspective but if at all it should happen, the bloodshed and devastation would be unprecedented. Its existence in the present form will be a continual aggravation of crisis and instability. The only way forward is the overthrow of this system through a socialist revolution.

There are innumerable left groups and parties. But they are miniscule and confused. They unite to break up into more sects that merge and then reunite again, without considering the ideological and theoretical basis or clear perspective and aims. They unite for ‘revolution’ without agreeing upon even the basic character of the revolution.

The PPP’s present leadership has been discredited to the extent that their regaining of social base in the coming period is unlikely. According to the Forbes magazine, Zardari is amongst the ten richest heads of state. He has even more wealth than the Queen of England. But that is not the end of the PPP. In spite, and despite, of its leadership the masses will not let go of their tradition without a fight. This time there is a far greater possibility that the leadership will be challenged as the party yet once again fills up in the wake of a fresh movement of the masses. But this time the challenge will come on an ideological basis. The Socialist foundations will come to haunt the present corrupt leaders and their cronies. There will be a huge ferment in the ranks.

The perspective of the movement is not just the only hope for the survival of this society but it is a reality unforeseen in the doom and gloom of those whose ideas were defeated by historical events. New generations have grown up since the fall of Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are yearning for change. Once they enter the arena of struggle a revolutionary wave will spread across society. Its reverberations will be felt among the trade unions, students, youth and the poor peasants. It will have an impact in the PPP as we saw the impact of the masses in the psychology of the leadership in the autumn of 2007.

If an organized Marxist tendency is quantitatively and qualitatively developed in time then another accidental leadership or demagogic individual being prepared by the state will not be able to hijack the PPP and divert and betray the movement again. A massive upheaval that would erupt out of such atrocious conditions and smash seemingly formidable obstacles will be even more forceful and militant than what we saw in 1968-69. The Marxists, if they are present as a substantial force armed with firm ideological understanding and profound methodology of revolutionary socialism, at the onset of such an upsurge will be able to illuminate for the workers, peasants and youth a clear path and a destiny they have yearned for generations. The victory of revolutionary socialism in Pakistan would not just destroy barbarism, but would have revolutionary repercussions far beyond these artificial borders.

A Comment by Lal Khan of IMT (translated by AA from Tabqatti Jiddojehd)

The recent Supreme Court’s recent decision declaring the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) null and void has emerged as latest explosion in the series of tremulous events which have been arising from the severe political, economic and social crisis plaguing Pakistani state and society.  Instead of resolving this severe crisis, this decision will actually sharpen the contradictions and deepen the crisis and the anarchic situation. In August 1970 the veteran communist theoretician Comrade Ted Grant wrote, “we see the ruling classes of Pakistan swing from one form of governance to another, from military dictatorship to democracy and than the cycle repeats it self. This on their part is an attempt to avoid and escape the principle contradictions confronting them. But whatever is their form of government, military dictatorship or a “difficult democracy” they fail to provide economic and social stability” (Unbroken Thread, Ted Grant, 1970,p 431)

The Hidden NRO

After 30 years this crisis has become far more complex and severe. Corruption is not the cause of failure of this system rather it’s the fundamental necessity and creation of this system.  In this rotten system who is not corrupt? From pillars of state and politics to journalism and vanguards of social morality every layer of authority and ruling classes is corrupt. In this state afflicted by the crisis capitalism the pillars of state have no solutions.  Just like western capitalism, the client politicians of the ruling elite and establishment do corruption like master tacticians; they leave no proof behind and no stain on their character.. Their corruption is protected and safe. Despite all this when one considers the different existential crisis affecting every aspect of society and state of so called Islamic republic, corruption really becomes a non-issue.  The judiciary which is being portrayed as holy, sacred and clean is historically one of the most corrupt institution of Pakistan . Not only this, judiciary has always given verdicts which have strengthened the strangulating grip of ruthless capitalism and establishment on the people.  This decision is just yet another addition into this long tradition of decisions given by the superior judiciary of Pakistan .  Just like Army, civil bureaucracy, parliament, corporate media the judiciary is part and pillar of the state.  Just like these the principle function of judiciary is to preserve this inherently unjust system at any cost. Some  times using brute force and violence and at other instances utilizing the farcical democracy or judicial and constitutional wizardry the rotten social values and institutions of this system of ruthless capitalist plunder are given new life. The bitter reality is that this state and its institutions and all the political parties affiliated with it are slave of international monetary capitalism. If the capital cannot be generated by fair means utilizing unfair means become a necessity in this system where capital is god venerated in temples of state.  In a system where every relationship, value and emotion has become a commodity, justice too is on sale at judicial market.  In this hideous play of the ruling elite, the imperialism is strengthening its grip and is continuously looting and plundering the national wealth and assets without any resistance.  Pakistan Peoples Party was product of a revolution (1968-69 revolution) but it could never transform itself into a Leninist revolutionary party.  This contradiction resulted in its adoption by the working classes and downtrodden people of Pakistan as their revolutionary tradition and at the same time, its real character being “populist” instead of “Leninist-revolutionary” makes it vulnerable to be used by the ruling elite and enemy classes for furthering their agenda and easing their difficulties. Despite having the ample opportunities to completely dislodge the capitalist system in 1968-69 and in 1971-72, the failure to do so and decision to operate within the constraints of this system, the party leadership is on a continuous swing of deviating from Party’s original and fundamental programme of Socialism.  With this the slow infiltration of enemy classes in the party started and their grip on party has been increasing ever since. It is not to be denied that the present leadership of feudal, industrialists and petty bourgeois up starters have indulged in corruption but the question is which party and institution of Pakistan has not? Karl Marx once wrote those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
In every crisis, the working classes and downtrodden masses of Pakistan have given their sweat, blood and tears to save this party. But the establishment and ruling classes have always used this party to control the crisis of state and to diffuse the revolutionary insurrections of masses and working classes standing behind this party. On return of Benazir Bhutto the monumental popular uprising completely exposed and discredited the so called “Lawyers Movement” and sharpened the class struggle. The sheer volume of popular uprising bewildered the establishment and ruling classes which were shaken to their roots. The epicenter of this movement Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and by a fraudulent election , a setup was imposed on the people in which government was given to the peoples party but the real power  was vested with some one else under tutelage of Washington.  The credit of removing General Pervez Mushraff was granted to the Lawyers Movement by the national and international corporate media instead of the glorious sacrifices and class struggle of people of Pakistan . The petty bourgeois and elitist leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party, blinded by the lust for power and wealth were under the deceptive illusion that they have the power in the state structure. The governance of this system moved them to impose ruthless capitalist policies like the criminally deceptive concept of “Public-Private Partnership, privatization and de-regulation resulting in unprecedented rise in poverty, hunger, unemployment and load shedding alienating the masses which form the very base of this party. With this economic terrorism people were attacked and the movement started to diffuse depriving people’s party of its “use value” by the state and establishment. As the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party tried to strengthen its hold on Power structure , the holders of real power and the real rulers of this country h used yet another of their institution, the Judiciary instead  of the traditional bully the Pak Army to show the Peoples Party’s government their real worth.  In reaching this situation, the people’s party government by its sheer incompetence and pursuit of anti people economic policies has weakened it self and paved the way for the right wing assault. The irony is that even if Peoples Party government is kicked out the problems and crisis will not be resolved. Rather the situation will deteriorate manifolds, barbarism will plunder the society. The brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto created a sympathy wave but the people burning in the hell of poverty, hunger and terrorism can’t wait for ever spell bound by an illusion. Even if they don’t rise in a revolutionary movement, holding on to the dwindling hope provided by their traditional party, in presence of such levels of poverty, humiliation, hunger and crisis any hope of stability is not tangible.

The crisis of society itself manifests in forms of contradictions within ruling elite, the state institutions creating an internal conflict within the state and ruling elite.  Every system of governance created by the bosses from ruthless military dictatorships to controlled democracy of General Musharraf and the capitalist parliamentary democracy has failed miserably. Every party and every institution stands exposed in front of the people. In this situation, it will be very difficult for the present leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party to use its traditional sympathy card. No doubt that the people and working class will be saddened by the dismissal of the government of their traditional party but they will only come out to actively support and defend the government, if the party returns to its original programme of socialism as rallying cry for a revolutionary movement.  This scenario in the present situation is very difficult keeping in mind the present leadership of the party. This on the other hand will create an ideological turbulence in the base of the party. Many expressions of this will be in form of personal and opportunistic dissent but an ideological conflict within the party is inevitable. The phenomenal question will surface in the party that which class this party represents and which class’s interests it pursues instead. The last writing and testament of Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto will re emerge and new avenues will open for the revolutionary tendency within the party. The traditional party slogan of “Socialism or death” will once again echo in this party.. The victory of revolutionary socialists in Peoples Party will pave the way for the socialist transformation of the society with the permanent solution of poverty, hunger  Islamic fascism and unemployment and this will become a reality.

Shaheryar Ali

It was a pleasant evening and I was conversing with a progressive intellectual of Pakistan who was a Marxist revolutionary during the revolutionary times and now is a billionaire who runs an empire of NGOs through out Pakistan.  After the collapse of Soviet Union it was quite easy for these “revolutionary” intellectuals who literarily had no roof over their heads to sell their skill and talent to the international donors, a slight twist of language which converted “bourgeoisie” into elites did the trick and now most of them are richer than fellows of traditional propertied classes who were once their main declared enemy.

My dear friend was deeply distressed over the latest developments in Pakistan. The epic drama of entrenching and hostage taking in the General Headquarters of Pakistan Army in the Garrison town of Rawalpindi had pushed him beyond the limit. Playing with his glass of red wine which he had brought from France where he went to attend a conference on “Poverty alleviation”, he said to me, “Your country will become Afghanistan, this conflict will continue for at least 20 more years”. “They entered the GHQ. Killed a brigadier and took men hostage remained there for 24 hours” he continued. “It’s the damn headquarter, the heart of our defense establishment, can any one imagine such an incompetence? Where were the mighty ISI and MI” he kept lamenting. “The state of our state has been exposed in front of the whole world, our guardian cannot guard themselves” he sipped his wine, which perhaps didn’t soothed him at all. “Did you hear that press conference by Nawaz Sharif?” he asked me.

Whats there to listen? I said “Lier Lier bloody lier , he is a damn bloody lier” he threw away the glass. His sculptured face though showed the shadow of age but held its old mystique. His cheeks were now the colour of wine he was drinking. I wanted to remind him of his empire’s support of Judicial movement and his praises of “progressive Shahbaz

Black Coats/Black Shirts

Black Coats/Black Shirts

Sharif” and his great administrative skills. These skills are clearly evident from Aata to Sugar crisis and attacks on Police Training center, which has become a ritual of the sort by the terrorists. I wanted to remind him about his praises of Sharif’s principle stand on “judiciary”. “Did you by any chance manage to read the decision of Lahore high court on the petition challenging the arrangement of leasing thousands of acres of land in Seriki southern Punjab to Saudi Arabia?” I asked him. “Yar is that the issue?” Southern Punjab is being talibanized , you know its become the den, I have just seen the mighty complex they are building in Bahawalpur.” He informed me. Yes I know, from Taank and DI khan, they enter Bakher and from there spread to whole Seriki wasiab, there are sleeper cells in Kabirwala , Mianchannu , Multan, they have been  piling up explosives for more than a year now. One depot of theirs exploded accidentally in Mianchannu demolishing the entitle village, I know whats going on in Bahawalpur, I also know why in certain mosques in this entire region study circles of university students are being conducted these days., I also know once again slogans of “Kaffir Kaffir Shia Khaffir” are being visible on the walls of this region” I said.

“And you still want to bash the judiciary instead of highlighting the real issue” he asked me. I thought about the state of distress my elder friend was in, the dream this generation saw of equality and change which shattered in front of them; they changed the course, compromising with western powers they took up the agenda of democracy, reformism and secularism, which too was failing in front of them. Taliban appeared as a ghost from their past to haunt them. “I am highlighting the real issue, though you may not acknowledge it” I commented. “You were also carried away by your dear friend Aitzaz Ahsan’s poetry—- Adel bina jamhoor na ga” I said sarcastically. “I am bashing judiciary but what Ali Ahmad Kurd is doing?” now the “azad manish judges are pharaohs eh? I took a sip from my glass and continued , “problem is my friend, you don’t have to attend namaz-e-janaza of murdered Bloch leaders, every second day in Quetta and face the angry eyes of Baloch nationalists who supported the judicial movement believing Ali Ahmad Kurd and Aitzaz Ahsan that it will result in rule of law” I said . “You don’t have to go through that ordeal every second day but Ali Ahmad Kurd

Honourable Chief Justice LHC

Honourable Chief Justice LHC

has too, he has to answer those in Quetta for those the murderous character of this state was not transformed into a Matriarchal one as Aitzaz Ahsan promised”. I went on. “and as for the dreams of Jinnah’s Pakistan and secular revolution you guys were bringing in imamat of Aitzaz Ahsan, General Hamid Gul and Qazi Hussein Ahmad, I just want to ask you why every sectarian monster incarcerated in Punjab has been released  in the past few months, the same monsters who are now entrenching in southern Punjab”. I asked him.

Judicial Revolution in Jinnah's Pakistan

Judicial Revolution in Jinnah's Pakistan

“One can’t accept an institution of a state to transcend the ideological boundaries of the state, they have a limited operative space Sherry” his face became redder. “ahan than what was the fuss all about my friend? What was the nonsense about revolutions and long marches, what was all that, last time I checked its called de-contextualization, you guys misled the public opinion exhausted the energy of the people to bring change and pushed them into disillusionment”. My voice raised a little and he winced. I helped myself to bar and put some orange juice in the glass and splashed a liberal amount of Vodka in it. I gave the glass to my friend; this will be soothing I told him. “The link between Punjabi sectarian organizations and Al Qaida has long been established. They were the first to join Al Qaida in Pakistan; they are the most advance tendency of extremism in Pakistan. They have demonstrated their ability by attacking Mumbai, GHQ and ISI instillations, why than they were being released by judiciary?”  I asked him. “You know Lahore High Court has made United Nation and Government of Pakistan ban on LeT practically ineffective. Now they have ordered the government to withdraw all cases against Hafiz Muhammed Saeed. Before that they released many people of other sectarian organizations , Supreme court of  Pakistan released Molana Aziz the monster of Lal Masid and he toured the whole southern Punjab with police escort instigating jihad. Only in Taunsa 300 burqa clad girls with strips of “Sharia or death” around their heads got their names registered with Aziz, this happened with the chants of “Jan Jan Taliban” now I was angry. “I hope Junaid Jumshaid and Aitzaz Ahsan will release a joint album of “Jaan Jaan Taliban and Riyasat ho gi maa ke jesi—adal bina jumhoor na ho ga” I taunted him.

“The judiciary in NWFP is giving similar concessions to Sufi Muhammed, his sons who were combatants in Swat were released what non sense is this? You people want more bloodshed in Swat? “Half a dozen or more poor human beings were burned alive in Gojra, the city PML-N chief, the police and these sectarian thugs burned people alive, our restored judiciary which was supported by NGOs and Human Rights brigade instead of acting on behalf of victims supported Blasphemy laws, the most honorable chief justice pledged to protect the Blasphemy law and to protect Pakistan from “conspiracies of Hindus and Jews” that according to the news paper reports” I told him. “Do you people have any decency left? Now you are crying over talibanization? You want me to curse Fazal-ul-reham and Zardari and mullahs, my dear friend you people are equally responsible. You brought back right wing partisans in judiciary and they have purged every liberal one” I continued.

Vodka had done the trick, my friend was now calm. “Ghulam Rasool!” he called his servant and clapped. “Yes Sir” he said. “Start the stereo”  “Janab what will you like to hear” he asked. My friend closed his eyes for few minutes and than said “Ub ke hum bichre tu shahid kabhi khabo mein millen— Sherry baba likes Ahmad Fraz” he told him and smiled. Servant knew well enough and soon the room was echoing with the voice of Hussain Hazervi.

“Wazirstan mein operation shuru ho gaya “the servant informed us. “Very good” he said. I had already read the International Crisis Group’s report on the expected failure of the operation and Army’s pact with two Taliban groups so was rather worried! “You havnt learned anything” I said. I took a big gulp from my glass and started listening to the wonderful ghazal

Nasha bherta he sharabe’n jub sharbo’n mein mile’n. But my nasha was already gone——-

Shaheryar Ali

Cross posted at: Bazm-e-Rinda’n

Tariq Ali is one of the icons of progressive movement. He was one of the leaders of the 1968 revolution which gave birth to the “New Left”. Few Pakistanis have influenced global thought as did Tariq Ali. A Marxist with a very strong anti imperialist base Ali is part of the global of Anti globalization movement.

I have strong ideological differences with Ali on Left strategy .  But what he is saying is very important especially his understanding of Pakistani state and its dependent elites. University of California at Berkeley recorded a series “Conversations with History” featuring influential intellectuals.

One of them was Tariq Ali and whatever he says is very important.

Most of his talks about PPP shouldn’t be taken seriously because he had personal issues with Benazir Bhutto.He was one of the persons who thought of the idea of a non stalinist popular Socialist Party with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He contributed in writing the fundamental documents of PPP which are one of the most radical documents. His later differences with ZAB though were ideological but were also personal. He worked with Benazir Bhutto during Anti-Zia resistance but he never accepted the fact that people of Pakistan loved Bhuttos more than a pure Marxist intellectual . This attitude is hallmark of most Pakistani Marxists  and the result is their failure to either build a strong Marxist party in Pakistan or to intervene meaningfully in the PPP [with which they all have a twisted love-hate relationship]. Due to this reason most of them lack objectivity when they speak  about PPP even though their ideological stand is correct.

Take the following talk by Ali. He is criticizing Benazir Bhutto and the “family politics”. But in his personal grudge he falsifies facts. He says that Benazir Bhutto writes in her will [on which he tactfully casts doubt as well] that “My son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari” will head the party” than we hear the usual rant . He is just a kid studying some where bla bla and the party being a family fiefdom . Party shouldnt be a family fiefdom but lets get the Facts right.

Benazir Bhutto never left PPP to Bilawal Bhutto. Its absolutely rubbish and a total lie spread by the right and naive lefti friends like Tariq Ali who never bother to read that “will” which they curse all the time

Benazir Bhutto clearly wrote in the will that if she was no more than party consider Mr Asif Ali Zardari as a leader for the “interim period”. She clearly mentioned why she is suggesting his name. She mentioned because in a period of crisis  party needs a unifying figures to prevent split  [dangerous consequence Pakistan Na Khappey etc]. She made it clearly that its a “temporary arrangement” till the party’s Central Executive Committee decides who will be leader of the Party. It must be clear that for this decision she absolutely left No directive to party. She didnt left a will for her son to be leader. She never said that leader must be from her family.

When the will was read at the CC , it was the CC which decided that Asif Ali Zardari will be a “co chairman” and Bilawal Bhutto be the Chairman. The decision was unanimous. Benazir ’s Will just gave Zardari the leadership for 2/3 days. It was the party which decided in his favor after a lengthy discussion. Moreover  the millions of people who were surrounding Nodero were not ready to accept anyone else apart from Sanam Bhutto or Bilawal. The mood was such that most of the leaders of PPP were hiding  from the crowd who wanted to kill them for failing to save Benazir. If anyone of you was there he/she will know what i am talking about. If you watched Geo than forget it.

Now regarding Bilawal being a kid and studying somewhere Tariq Ali conveniently forgets he is in Oxford just like Benazir Bhutto and Tariq Ali. Tariq Ali himself was a student in Oxford when was leading the European youth revolution of 1968/69. He is forgetting his own “Street Fighting Years”. Before condemning fiefdoms , Mr Ali must remember he also “inherited” his  Marxism . He is son of veteran communist activists of CPI Mr Mazhar Ali [Nawabzada] and Tahira Mazher Ali [One who reportedly showed Mr Jinnah the pamphlet of Communist Party of India in favor of Pakistan as a young girl riding a bicycle] . Ali family was also aristocrats and it was this background which put him in Oxford just like Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and where he became president of Oxford Union [just like Benazir Bhutto]. Ali knows very well that most kids his age in Pakistan who were part of 68/69 ended up in Lahore Fort and lost their lives or ruined it. Only family wealth put Ali in Oxford and put him in  contact with European Left whose blued eyed boy he became.

Comrade when you were resisting the empire in westminister with Hollywood celebrities Bhutto’s were being murdered along with the working class workers of the party . Thats what made them leaders . So that you can write novels about them and make films on them and earn millions and than falsify facts.

Food for thought: If PPP is such a family fiefdom why it was not inherited by Murtaza Bhutto and what forces the people of Larkana not to vote for Ginwa Bhutto?? by all laws of society its the male who is heir of father. Benazir didnt inherited she won it. By her struggle by her jails by her contact. Same is with Bilawl, he will only be the leader if he earns it like her mother or will end up like Mumtaz Bhutto and Ginwa Bhutto.!!

Alan Woods [With thanks IMT Website]

All the objective conditions for revolution as outlined by Lenin have matured in Iran. The events of the past few days mark the beginning of the Iranian revolution, which will unfold over a whole period. This is due to the lack of a mass revolutionary party capable of leading the masses today. But the conditions to build such a force have also matured. Workers and youth in Iran will be looking for the genuine ideas of revolutionary socialism, of Marxism.

Yesterday I wrote that the Iranian Revolution has begun. In what sense is this true? Lenin explained the conditions for a revolutionary situation: first the ruling class must be split and unable to rule with the same methods as before. This condition is clearly present in Iran. Second, the middle class should be vacillating between revolution and counterrevolution. That is now the case in Iran, where decisive sections of the middle class have come over to the side of the Revolution and are demonstrating in the streets. Thirdly, the workers must be prepared to fight. There has been a growing wave of strikes in Iran even before the elections.

Demonstrators on the Azadi Square, June 15. Photo by Hamed Saber.Only the last condition is absent: the presence of a revolutionary party and a revolutionary leadership, like the Bolshevik Party in 1917. The presence of such a party would give the mass movement the leadership and organization it requires to be successful. It would signify a swift and relatively painless victory. In the absence of such a party, the revolution will unfold over a more prolonged period of months, probably years, with ebbs and flows.

A revolution is not a single act drama. In 1917 the revolution developed over a period of nine months. In this period there were moments of tremendous upsurge, as in February, but there were also periods of tiredness, defeats and even reaction, as in the period that followed the July days. From July to the end of August there was a period of reaction in which the Bolsheviks were driven underground, their printing press destroyed, Trotsky was in jail and Lenin was forced to flee to Finland.

The Spanish Revolution, which is probably a better guide to what will happen in Iran, began with the overthrow of the Monarchy (which was brought about by local elections) in April 1931. This opened up a period of revolution, which lasted seven years, with ups and downs, until the defeat of the workers of Barcelona in the May Days of 1937. In this seven year period we had the so-called Two Black Years (“El Bienio Negro”), which followed the defeat of the Asturian Commune of 1934 and lasted until the Popular Front elections of 1936.

In the absence of a mass revolutionary party, the Iranian Revolution, like the Spanish Revolution, can be extended over a number of years and will be characterised by a turbulent and convulsive character, the rise and fall of different governments, leaders and parties, before finally the question of power is posed. But the events that are unfolding before our eyes clearly mark a fundamental change in the whole situation. The genie has been let out of a bottle where it has been confined for three decades. And it will be impossible to force it back into its prison.

Many observers have expressed surprise at a movement that appeared to fall from a clear blue sky. But in reality, this explosion has been in preparation for a long time. The anger of the population reflects all the accumulated frustrations and anger of the last three decades. It also reflects the deteriorating economic situation and falling living standards. The economy was the central issue of the election campaign and remains at the heart of most Iranians’ concerns, after four years in which there has been sharp rises in inflation and unemployment.

Although under Ahmadinejad the poorer sections of society have benefited from cash handouts paid for by Iran’s oil revenues, many others have complained that the increased liquidity has doubled or tripled prices. The parliament has so far blocked the slashing of subsidies on the grounds that it could further fuel inflation, which already stands at around 24 per cent. But the economic crisis means cuts and austerity and Shamsoddin Hosseini, the economy minister, yesterday said privatising state-owned companies would be the “framework” of Iran’s next economic policy.

This partly explains the militant character of an angry and determined opposition movement, which has found an unlikely symbol in the 68-year-old Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was previously part of the Iranian Establishment – and still is. When the people begin to lose their fear and are prepared to defy the guns of the police in a country like Iran, it is the beginning of the end. This marvellous mass movement is all the more incredible for being unorganized and leaderless.

Heroism of the masses

The decisive factor has been the sudden eruption of the masses onto the stage of history. The tremendous heroism of the masses is seen in the gargantuan demonstration of yesterday, held in defiance of warnings from the regime that they would be met with bullets. At least one million protesters ignored threats, guns and bloodshed to demand freedom in Iran. Eight people died yesterday and an unknown number wounded. And still the movement continues unabated.

Demonstrators in Tehran, June 15. Photo by Hamed Saber.Robert Fisk, one of the finest of British journalists, witnessed what he calls Iran’s day of destiny, and sent a vivid report of what happened:

“A million of its people marched from Engelob Square to Azadi Square – from the Square of Revolution to the Square of Freedom – beneath the eyes of Tehran’s brutal riot police. The crowds were singing and shouting and laughing and abusing their ‘President’ as ‘dust’.” One student joked: “Ahmadinejad called us Dust, and we showed him a sandstorm!”

Fisk continues:

“Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution have massed protesters gathered in such numbers, or with such overwhelming popularity, through the boulevards of this torrid, despairing city. They jostled and pushed and crowded through narrow lanes to reach the main highway and then found riot police in steel helmets and batons lined on each side. The people ignored them all. And the cops, horribly outnumbered by these tens of thousands, smiled sheepishly and – to our astonishment – nodded their heads towards the men and women demanding freedom. Who would have believed the government had banned this march?”

Here we see the real face of Revolution. The masses are confronted with the feared riot police and merely ignored them. The police, confronted with a massive movement, vacillates, and gives way, “smiling sheepishly” and nodding their heads in approval. This incident is an almost exact repetition of what Trotsky describes in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The workers at the Erikson, one of the foremost mills in the Vyborg district, after a morning meeting came out on the Sampsonievsky Prospect, a whole mass, 2,500 of them, and in a narrow place ran into the Cossacks. Cutting their way with the breasts of their horses, the officers first charged through the crowd. Behind them, filling the whole width of the Prospect galloped the Cossacks. Decisive moment! But the horsemen, cautiously, in a long ribbon, rode through the corridor just made by the officers. ‘Some of them smiled,” Kayurov recalls, “and one of them gave the workers a good wink’ This wink was not without meaning. The workers were emboldened with a friendly, not hostile, kind of assurance, and slightly infected the Cossacks with it. The one who winked found imitators. In spite of renewed efforts from the officers, the Cossacks, without openly breaking discipline, failed to force the crowd to disperse, but flowed through it in streams. This was repeated three or four times and brought the two sides even closer together. Individual Cossacks began to reply to the workers’ questions and even to enter into momentary conversations with them. Of discipline there remained but a thin transparent shell that threatened to break through any second. The officers hastened to separate their patrol from the workers, and, abandoning the idea of dispersing them, lined the Cossacks out across the street as a barrier to prevent the demonstrators from getting to the centre. But even this did not help: standing stock-still in perfect discipline, the Cossacks did not hinder the workers from ‘diving’ under their horses. The revolution does not choose its paths: it made its first steps toward victory under the belly of a Cossack’s horse. A remarkable incident!”

The Iranian protesters’ bravery was all the more impressive because many had already learned of the savage killing of five Iranians on the campus of Tehran University, shot down by pistol-firing Basiji militiamen. Fisk describes the scene:

“When I reached the gates of the college yesterday morning, many students were weeping behind the iron fence of the campus, shouting ‘massacre’ and throwing a black cloth across the mesh. That was when the riot police returned and charged into the university grounds once more.”

Here is Fisk again:

“At times, Mousavi’s victory march threatened to crush us amid walls of chanting men and women. They fell into the storm drains and stumbled over broken trees and tried to keep pace with his vehicle, vast streamers of green linen strung out in front of their political leader’s car. They sang in unison, over and over, the same words: ‘Tanks, guns, Basiji, you have no effect now.’ As the government’s helicopters roared overhead, these thousands looked upwards and bayed above the clatter of rotor blades: ‘Where is my vote?’ Clichés come easily during such titanic days, but this was truly a historic moment.”

Demonstrators in Tehran, June 15. Photo by .faramarz.Those citizens who did not participate on the demonstration expressed their solidarity from the windows and rooftops, as Fisk describes:

“[…] one man collapsed on the road, his face covered in blood. But on the great mass of people moved, waving their green flags and shouting in joy at the thousands of Iranians who stood along the rooftops.

“On the right, they all saw an old people’s home and out on to the balcony came the aged and the crippled who must have remembered the reign of the loathed Shah, perhaps even his creepy father, Reza Khan. A woman who must have been 90 waved a green handkerchief and an even older man emerged on the narrow balcony and waved his crutch in the air. The thousands below them shrieked back their joy at this ancient man.

“Walking beside this vast flood of humanity, a strange fearlessness possessed us all. Who would dare attack them now? What government could deny a people of this size and determination? Dangerous questions.”

Fisk points out that the protestors were not only middle class people and students:

“this was not just the trendy, young, sunglassed ladies of north Tehran. The poor were here, too, the street workers and middle-aged ladies in full chador. A very few held babies on their shoulders or children by the arm, talking to them from time to time, trying to explain the significance of this day to a mind that would not remember it in the years to come that they were here on this day of days.”

The mass demonstrations are an exact replay of those of the 1979 revolution, which was subsequently hijacked by the ayatollah Khomenei and his reactionary gang. The Shah possessed a colossal apparatus of repression, but once the masses confronted it, it crumbled like a child’s sand castle. Earlier the hated Basiji attacked the students. But by the evening, the Basiji themselves were being chased by hundreds of protesters in the west of the city. After dark shooting was crackling around the suburbs. Those who were fatally too late in leaving Azadi, were fired on by the Basiji. The final death toll was eight, with an unknown number of wounded.

Regime vacillates

This splendid movement of the masses has changed everything in 24 hours. The arrogance of power displayed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just one day earlier has evaporated. Instead there are signs of panic in the regime. On Saturday and Sunday there was repression, violence and bloodshed, but by Monday everything had changed. The authorities must have felt they had gone to bed and woken up in 1979. This is how the Shah was overthrown 30 years ago, with mass demonstrations and the possibility of a general strike.

Photo by .faramarz.They now fear there could be violent clashes and even civil war, which they are not sure they would win. When the ruling class fears it may lose everything, it is always prepared to make concessions and offer something. Now the authorities are offering a recount but not new elections. The decision to retreat comes from the Supreme Leader, the real power in the state, who initially confirmed the election result.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has agreed to enquire into the election results, perhaps to look over a polling statistic or two. But these concessions are too little and too late. They will not pacify the protesters but will achieve the opposite. Every step back of the regime will be seen as a sign of weakness and spur them on to further action. Mousavi has asked for the annulment of the elections, while the regime is offering only a partial recount.

The seriousness of the crisis is affecting the economy. The Iranian bourgeois are voting with their feet. There was panic in the business community at the result of the election. The Financial Times reported today:

“Iran’s business community was yesterday unequivocal in its reaction to Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad’s re-election as president. The Tehran Stock Exchange fell sharply, while influential bazaaris threatened to shut up shop today in protest.”

The fact that the bazaaris, who were formerly solid supporters of the regime, are threatening to strike is a further indication that the scope of the revolution is constantly expanding. However, the absence of a serious leadership means that the final denouement may be postponed. The Financial Times, that most astute organ of international Capital, writes:

“The wave of anger could soon subside, particularly if the crackdown turns more brutal. But analysts are watching to see if it provokes instead campaigns of civil disobedience from segments of society that had backed Mr Moussavi – including businessmen in Iran’s bazaars who have threatened to strike today, trade unions and students – or protests from clerics who had also supported his candidacy.

“‘There will be many sporadic riots over various things from now on as people think there is no peaceful way any more to make change,’ says one analyst.”

Weakness of leadership

This perspective is similar to the one I put forward in my first article yesterday. Even the stormiest strikes and street demonstrations cannot resolve the central question: the question of state power. It is not enough that some policemen smile at demonstrators. Unless the police and army move over to the side of the people, the weapons of the Islamic Republic remain in the hands of Ahmadinejad’s administration and his clerical protectors. The question of leadership is still paramount.

Back in 1999, the regime suppressed a wave of student unrest within days: this time, the protesters appear more strong-minded. The attempts at repression have had the opposite result to that intended. There is an angry ferment in Teheran University after the brutal assault of the armed thugs of Ahmadinejad. About 400 pro-reform students, many wearing green face masks to conceal their identity, gathered earlier at a mosque in Tehran University and demanded Ahmadinejad’s resignation. Some said members of a religious militia had attacked their dormitory. “They hit our friends and took away at least 100 students. We have no news about their whereabouts,” said one. 120 university lecturers have resigned in protest.

But the bravery of the protesters is not a characteristic of the leaders. Men like Mirhossein Mousavi are not leaders but come under the heading of historical accidents. Kerensky and father Gapon belong to the same philosophical category. Such individuals rise rapidly to the surface, impelled by the tide of great historic events, achieve a borrowed fame for a short time, and then disappear without trace, swallowed up like the foam on an ocean wave, engulfed by other, more powerful currents. A prime minister in the 1980s, he had disappeared from public view and dedicated his time to his favourite pursuit – abstract painting. Now history has seized him by the collar and thrust him to the front of the stage, where he presents an uncomfortable spectacle.

Yet, despite his attacks on the regime’s domestic and foreign policies, Mr Mousavi has never been an opponent of the Islamic Republic. Indeed, he had styled himself, just like the president, as a “principalist” who sought a return to the real values and principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution. But he had laced his message with demands for more democratic freedom and a pragmatic management of the economy.

His candidacy, moreover, was almost accidental. He was reluctant to run for president but had been urged, time and again, to stand by Mohammad Khatami, the former reformist president. Once in, he quickly received the backing of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a leading political figure from the conservative camp who now heads both the Expediency Council, a senior body that drafts macro policies, and the Experts Assembly, which appoints the next supreme leader.

While both might have expected him to be a centrist, gradually Mr Mousavi’s campaign adopted the same slogans as the reformists, with even greater vigour. He refocused his message during rallies to appeal to the educated urban middle class, lambasting the president’s extremism and ridiculing his populist economic policies.

Many who took to the streets of Tehran yesterday are looking to Mousavi to bring about a fundamental change. Photo by Hamed Saber.But while young reformists – many of whom took to the streets of Tehran again yesterday for peaceful protests which ended in violence – are looking to him to bring about a fundamental change, Mr Mousavi has other ideas. Fisk writes about the demonstration:

“Mirhossein Mousavi was among them, riding atop a car amid the exhaust smoke and heat, unsmiling, stunned, unaware that so epic a demonstration could blossom amid the hopelessness of Iran’s post-election bloodshed. He may have officially lost last Friday’s election, but yesterday was his electoral victory parade through the streets of his capital. It ended, inevitably, in gunfire and blood.”

Here Fisk’s keen eye gives an accurate and penetrating psychological portrait of the reformist leader, “unsmiling, stunned and unaware” of the vast powers that he had conjured up and which, like the Sorcerer’s apprentice, he is unable to control. Mousavi’s vacillations have been noted by the bourgeois press. The Financial Times says

“he has appeared torn between calling on protests to continue, and halting them to prevent the violence and loss of life witnessed last night. […] Mr Moussavi initially called off yesterday’s protest fearing fresh violence – but then joined the demonstrators on the streets. The dilemma he faces is that the demonstrations mark the biggest public outcry since the 1979 Islamic revolution.”

Mousavi has called on those who support him not to attend a planned rally in the capital today, his spokesman said. “Mousavi… urged his supporters not to attend today’s rally to protect their lives. The moderates’ rally has been cancelled,” the spokesman said. But as I write these lines the radio is reporting that large crowds are again gathering on the streets of Teheran, and the reports claim that the demonstrations will be even bigger than they were yesterday.

The possibility of a bloody clash is always present. Here are the comments of a journalist:

“The anger and hatred in the eyes of both sides – whatever the result, it will anger some people, […] The police have been trying to remain as civilised as possible, but not everyone is listening to police commanders. […] It’s not easy to calm them down. What happens when the chain of command is broken, when both sides are going rogue and not listening to their commanders? This is going be a very dangerous situation.”

However, given the level of popular anger, the effect of such a situation will not be what was intended. One bloody clash, and the whole situation will explode. The idea of a general strike has already been put forward. A large-scale act of state terrorism will be met by a wave of strikes and protests that could easily become transformed into an insurrection on the lines of 1979. Mousavi is desperate to avoid this. He is quoted as saying: “As someone who likes the police, I recommend them avoid harsh reactions towards people’s self-motivated actions and not let the people’s trust to this worthy organ be damaged.”

We predicted this

The present protests were predicted in advance by the Marxists. Almost ten years ago we said that the big student demonstrations were “the first shots of the Iranian Revolution.” Few people paid any attention to that prediction. But Iran has continued to be in the forefront of the perspectives of the IMT. In a speech to the world congress of the IMT in August 2008 I said the following:

“Iran is ripe for revolution. There we have all the conditions listed by Lenin for a revolution: splits at the top, ferment among the middle class, a powerful working class with revolutionary traditions, waves of important strikes, etc. The only factor missing so far is the subjective factor – the revolutionary party. The work of our Iranian comrades is of great importance to the IMT. We must give them assistance.

“The situation in Iran is very similar to pre-1905 Russia. Once the Iranian masses start to move, look out. The coming revolution can take different paths but there is one thing we can be sure of: it’s not going to be a fundamentalist uprising! 28 years of the mullahs in power have totally discredited them among the masses and youth. The majority of the population is young and fresh; they will be open to revolutionary ideas and Marxism. The Iranian revolution will change the entire situation in the Middle East, showing that genuine anti-imperialism needn’t be fundamentalist. It will have an impact on the whole region.”

These words have been vindicated by the recent events. The Iranian Revolution has taken a long time to mature, but it has emerged all the stronger for that. Previous uprisings of the heroic Iranian students have been smothered by bloody repression and the arrest of the leaders. But, as we predicted at the time, these setbacks would only be temporary:

“Given the lack of leadership, repression may have the effect of postponing the movement temporarily, but only at the cost of causing an even more violent and uncontrollable explosion later on.” (The First Shots of the Iranian Revolution, 17 July 1999.) This prediction has now been fully confirmed by events. The struggle will continue, with inevitable ebbs and flows, until a decisive settlement is reached.

On the urgent tasks of the revolutionary movement I wrote at that time:

“The workers and youth of Iran have repeatedly shown a great revolutionary potential. What is required is to give the movement an organised form and a clear programme and perspective. Along the road of compromise and class collaboration no way out is possible. The prior condition for success is the independent movement of the working class, together with its natural allies, and a decisive break with the bourgeois Liberals. It is necessary to set up action committees in order to organise and co-ordinate the movement on a local, regional and national scale. It is necessary to prepare for self-defence against the vigilante thugs, while appealing to the rank and file of the army to come over to the side of the people.

“Above all, it is necessary to work out a concrete programme to link the struggle for democratic rights with programmatic demands to solve the most pressing problems of the working class, the peasantry, the unemployed and the women and youth. Such a programme will necessarily imply a radical break with capitalism and will place on the order of the day the struggle for workers’ power and a movement in the direction of socialism in Iran. The prior condition for the success of the struggle is the active participation of the working class, particularly the decisive section of the oil workers. Once the working people of Iran have the power in their hands, they can begin a movement that will spread like wildfire through the region. It would have an even bigger effect than the Russian revolution of 1917, especially if it were led by a conscious revolutionary Marxist party. The creation of such a party is therefore the most urgent task before the vanguard of the Iranian workers and students. Armed with the correct ideas, programme and strategy, the Iranian working class will be invincible.”

There is not much more we can add to that. We are no longer discussing abstract perspectives but facts. The marvellous movement of the workers and students of Iran are the final answer to all the sceptics and cowards who doubt the ability of the working class to change society. The Revolution in Iran has begun and is destined to go through a whole series of stages before it has finally run its course. But in the end we are sure that it will triumph. When that moment comes, it will have explosive repercussions throughout the Middle East, Asia and the whole world.

We appeal to the workers of the world to come to the aid of our Iranian brothers and sisters.

Down with tyranny and repression!

Long live the Iranian Revolution!

Workers of the world, unite!

London, 16th June