The Crisis Manufactured By Capitalism Is Deepening. Left Has To Wake Up
In 1919, a political activist, philosopher, economist, Marxist theorist was killed and she had given us a message “Socialism or Barbarism”. After 100 years, there is no third way; either it is socialism or barbarism. The blind and inhuman march of neo-liberal capitalism has brought life on the earth at stake: Life on earth is at risk due to the climate crisis, there is a great divide between haves and have nots, nuclear arms race is being terrible, fascists are rising in different western countries, racism is killing people, women are still being subjugated, surveillance capitalism is managing and manipulating human-beings. In this terrible situation, a question arises, what do we want – socialism or barbarism? This is a choice of politics which will decide the truth begotten by practice.
Capitalism does not only exploit human labour but also expropriates nature. In doing so, it has created contradictions for its very system. Due to the great divide in America and crisis of social reproduction, “We are 99 percent” movement and narrative have taken root.
Bernie Senders in USA and Jeremy Corbyn in UK have come with a socialist solution against capitalism. Climate crisis has shocked the world. On 15th March, thousands of children, young and old protested in different countries against the climate crisis. Politics of class is reviving in western countries. This is a ray of hope.
Looking at politics and crisis of Pakistan makes Gramscian “pessimist by intellect” yet one must be “optimist by will”. Pakistan is already a less developed country and a mound of problems. After the IMF deal, the economic crisis is going to get worse. Basic amenities are already unavailable to the masses and there will be more taxes, privatisation, unemployment, poverty and budget cuts in near future. In this sorry state of affairs, progressive politics among masses is weaker than ever before.
1960s and 1980s were the decades of leftist politics in Pakistan. After Zia, it weakened as patronage politics was supported institutionally and neo-liberal capitalism not only came with economy but also with the language and culture. State did not only use ‘repressive state apparatus’ but also ‘ideological state apparatus’. ‘Consent’ was constructed and masses got depoliticised, divided and dehumanised. Today, in the political society everyday politics is based on patronage politics – nepotism and bribery. This ‘common sense’ is a part of historical process.
On the other hand, civil society is doing politics around legality, rule of law, corruption, transparency and good governance. Civil society is a line between political society and state which creates consent for the status-quo.
A worker in his ‘conscious’ mind may be thinking that there cannot be any change in Pakistan but in his ‘subconscious’ has desires of living a good life where there is collectivism and egalitarianism.
As Franz Fanon says in his book, ‘The Wretched of The Earth’, “To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate, it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
This raises a question: how to awake people’s dormant unconscious and do pro people’s politics in Pakistan?
Following are the suggestions:
- There are different kinds of oppression in Pakistan based on class, ethnicity, gender, and cast. There must be holistic pro people politics which could address all these questions along with the climate crisis. There must be a dialectical unity in difference.
- Leftists in Pakistan are weakly engaged with the masses. People’s everyday problems related with water, electricity, gas, education, health (AIDS in Sindh is spreading rapidly), unemployment etc are not addressed by their politics. That is why people are not with leftists. In order to politicise people, leftists have to stand with their every problem so that their fear may perish.
- Students have always been a very powerful and revolutionary tool in politics and that is why making critical mass of students is extremely necessary.
- Mega-projects in country are accumulating wealth by dispossessions. People are forcefully displaced. Leftists have to stand with them and reclaim the right to the cities.
- Pakistan is among top ten victims of climate crisis. Indus delta is dying. Floods, water scarcity, heatstroke, smog are killing people. This question must be the priority.
- Women’s subjugation and patriarchy are neglected and their politics is understood as western agenda. Leftist men must critically engage with women as they are half of the sky and without them there cannot be any emancipation.
- There are layers of oppressors. All those layers should be negated and struggled against and should also be kept away from the national bourgeois, the demagogues and the opportunists.
- Recent IMF deal is anti-people. There must be politics against IMF policies otherwise future will be very dangerous.
- This is the age of surveillance capitalism where Big Data is watching everyone. One has to understand the political economy behind Google and social media and importantly how to use this virtual reality for medium.
Thinking about all these solutions makes one worried and hopeless as we are living in a terrible crisis. Today’s question is how to engage with masses; yesterday’s was how to protest. History is not a straight line, it is a spiral. ‘Our time will come’ if only we choose the correct choice of politics. “We are nothing but let us be everything”.
The author is M.Phil in International Relations form Karachi University.