Zarb-e-Azb and the Left: On Imperialism’s Materiality

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Want a print  or downloadable copy? Click below. 

This radical progressive left is the continuance of the old progressive left, facing a new situation, but unfortunately, it has a weak tradition of self-criticism and analysis.27 This radical faction of the old progressive left has the potential to advance a revolutionary struggle in Pakistan, but such an advance requires a strong criticism of the old left and of the entrenchment of liberalism within itself.

Based on the above, the proponents of working-class politics in Pakistan are in a situation where they can see much of what is wrong with liberalism but cannot produce an alternative analysis and practice that escapes its parameters. It is difficult to theoretically advance an anti-imperialist struggle, avoiding unnecessary polarized versions of politics dividing the working class, such as those focusing on secularism/liberalism vs. Islamism.

From the masses, to the masses

The principal contradiction in Pakistan is between imperialism and the people of Pakistan. Imperialism is that class force that influences and shapes the nature of other contradictions. Imperialism is responsible for the exacerbation of militancy in Pakistan whether by directly encouraging its growth during the Cold War, or indirectly encouraging its growth by attacking the people of the region in various ways thereafter. Pitting imperialism and its proposed courses of action as the opposite of militancy and extremism simplifies the issues and ignores these deep relations. Meanwhile, the current landed and capitalist ruling classes represented by their two main “civilian” factions (PML-N , PML-Q or PPP)28 are unable and unwilling to resist imperialism precisely because they are so fundamentally dependent upon imperialism to perpetuate their own interests and rule.

———————————————————————————————————————————

Subscribe! Because writers, artists and photographers deserve to be paid!

———————————————————————————————————————————

Accordingly, the responsibility of anti-imperialist struggle falls on the shoulders of the working classes of Pakistan. There should be no doubt about this point. Finding any solution to problems like militancy or economic development as suggested by the petty bourgeois “civil society,” reliant as they are upon imperialism, will lead Pakistan towards a situation like that of Libya, Syria and Iraq. That is where half of the population is fighting against the other half. Let us stop right here. There should be no more wars on the people of Pakistan, not least of all because that is what imperialism wants. Being anti-imperialist is being in favor of those vast masses who find themselves squeezed by the daily grind of an underdeveloped economy and a repressive politics and especially those who find themselves the victims of the violence that has exploded as a result of imperialist misadventures.

In terms of practice, the first step in this regard is to embrace the people of Pakistan – that is, the working classes, the poorer peasants, the unemployed and underemployed, the oppressed women, the minorities – whether they are of North Waziristan or Balochistan, regardless of whether these people are “conservative” or “progressive.” They are suffering, and no one can tell us better than them why they are suffering and what problems require what kinds of solutions. If they say imperialism is the enemy, we should not try to convince them that it is necessary to first evacuate oneself of Islamic sentiment and fight “religious extremism” in the abstract in order to be progressive.

We should critically examine the history of leftist struggle in Pakistan and advance our own understanding in a way that provides lessons for our current practice. How did the left degenerate so much that it started standing with imperialism and the ruling classes against the people of Pakistan? A comprehensive and self-critical assessment will be a sign of the ideological strength of the left, not its weakness.

Syed Azeem and Noaman G. Ali are members of the Campaign Against Drones in Pakistan (CADiP). Azeem has completed his Ph.D. in Law from York University, Toronto, and Noaman is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Footnotes

  1. Many radicals are located in the Awami Workers Party (AWP), whose documents and positions we have to referred to above. The AWP formed in 2012 from the merger of the Awami Party, the Workers Party and the Labor Party of Pakistan. It has become apparent that the merger was accomplished not by working through ideological differences and conducting principled debate, but by ignoring such debate and postponing it for “later” once unity was achieved. The point here is not to stress upon the purity of “ideology” in an abstract sense that precludes unity, but to stress a unity that is based on working through principles—on the coherence of approaches toward understanding and practicing leftist politics. []
  2. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have exclaimed their opposition to the war and operations, although the PTI ultimately has come out in support of the Pakistani troops. However, it is important to note that these parties only oppose the military aspects of imperialism, and largely verbally, while remaining silent on or being in favor of the broader political economic and geopolitical aspects of imperialism, e.g., being in favor of the neoliberal market economy or Pakistan’s international relations with imperialist countries and their Gulf vassals. There is no notion of fundamental structural change in Pakistan’s underdeveloped political economy and of de-linking from imperialism as the form of liberation struggle necessary for a semi-colonial country like Pakistan. PTI and JI stress “cleaner” politics, less corrupt, but maintaining the same inequitable and exploitative system. See Akram Javed. 2012. “Imran Khan: Between Cleaner Politics and Revolutionary Transformation.” The Platform, November 29. []

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Tags: , ,

46 Responses to Zarb-e-Azb and the Left: On Imperialism’s Materiality

  1. TQ Chāt | # 17 | Tanqeed on Aug 2014 at 5:33 PM

    […] Zarb-e-Azb and the Left: On Imperialism’s Materiality [x] […]

  2. Storage on Sep 2014 at 5:31 PM

    […] Zarb-e-Azb and the Left: On Imperialism’s Materiality […]

  3. Cornell Daily Sun on Sep 2014 at 12:02 AM

    […] values, placing Islam itself as the root cause of terrorism (relatedly, one could argue that  a cycle of American military and cultural dominance feeds fundamentalist, anti-American sentiment), the oppression of women, and irreconcilable cultural differences. Kairey’s column relies on […]

  4. […] Syed Azeem and Noaman G. Ali: Accordingly, the responsibility of anti-imperialist struggle falls on the shoulders of the working classes of Pakistan. There should be no doubt about this point. Finding any solution to problems like militancy or economic development as suggested by the petty bourgeois “civil society,” reliant as they are upon imperialism, will lead Pakistan towards a situation like that of Libya, Syria and Iraq. That is where half of the population is fighting against the other half. Let us stop right here. There should be no more wars on the people of Pakistan, not least of all because that is what imperialism wants. Being anti-imperialist is being in favor of those vast masses who find themselves squeezed by the daily grind of an underdeveloped economy and a repressive politics and especially those who find themselves the victims of the violence that has exploded as a result of imperialist misadventures. In terms of practice, the first step in this regard is to embrace the people of Pakistan – that is, the working classes, the poorer peasants, the unemployed and underemployed, the oppressed women, the minorities – whether they are of North Waziristan or Balochistan, regardless of whether these people are “conservative” or “progressive.” They are suffering, and no one can tell us better than them why they are suffering and what problems require what kinds of solutions. If they say imperialism is the enemy, we should not try to convince them that it is necessary to first evacuate oneself of Islamic sentiment and fight “religious extremism” in the abstract in order to be progressive. We should critically examine the history of leftist struggle in Pakistan and advance our own understanding in a way that provides lessons for our current practice. How did the left degenerate so much that it started standing with imperialism and the ruling classes against the people of Pakistan? A comprehensive and self-critical assessment will be a sign of the ideological strength of the left, not its weakness. More here. […]

  5. […] this sense of justice also implants in us a responsibility to be critical of power holders who have capitalized on horrific ordeals — such as last week’s tragedy —  for their own interests. It is this […]

  6. jaffer on Sep 2015 at 12:01 AM

    very very strange analysis, dont put any blame on mil alone , u may nat be knowing actual sit ion ground in NWA it is easy to make dramatic analysis in ur drawing room rather be upfront against those elms. poor analysis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *