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Wednesday 25 January 2012

cuture of feudalism in Pakistan-2-? a glimpse of hope

cuture of feudalism in Pakistan-2-? a glimpse of hope 

A valid query would be that if the army, political leaders and bureaucrats all belong to the same class, why does the army suppress the politicians? The answer should not require the intelligence of a rocket scientist. Family feuds are much worse, and country cousins kill more frequently for share of the land, than urban ones do for money.
 Army has in fact become the largest industry, commercial and financial concern and the largest farmland and urban property owner (defense housing societies) in the country. Retired and active duty army officers serve as bureaucrats, deans, principals and even vice-chancellors of educational institutions. 
The course advocated by civil libertarian-reformists would have us agitate, appeal to our over lords, and some how to force the Army to allow "free and fair" elections. Concept of fair and free elections in Pakistan does any have any more validity than voting with a gun on their heads- remember the US line; if you do not vote against Sandinistas, we will make sure you will starve. In Pakistani context the same bunch of nincompoops will return, who will only ask that their hands be allowed in the till too. It was “democratic” ZAB, who by indiscriminately nationalizing all industry and commerce and handing them over to his cronies debilitated the nascent Capital and set it back for decades. That step  alone revitalized feudalism[i]. He imprisoned dissidents, curbed civil liberties and emasculated the press much more than any military dictator[ii]. They will pursue the same policies of privatizing everything at the behest of IMF and World Bank. They will let Global Capital control the very lives of the people, pushing cost of living so high that life would not be worth living.
            We must not forget that except for the Ghazi of Kargil, all army chiefs were invited to take over by the civilians. Nawaz Sharif had an "overwhelming" mandate. He had been successful in dislodging a Chief Justice, a Naval Chief and lo and behold even an army chief. When he was over thrown no body went out on the streets. Most of his minions joined hands with the usurper. Benazir's PPP leaders also joined the ranks of collaborators[iii].
            Pakistan's tragedy is that it was never allowed to develop institutions. With its internecine feuds the left, dominated by communists, failed Pakistan. Politicians are so keen on regaining some measure of power, however unreal it may be that, that they are prepared to countenance, nay embrace Musharraf, if only he will take off his uniform. This obsession with uniform can only be explained if we accept the contention that the politicos want only the semblance and not the reality of power.
            Should we opt for NGOs? Remember funded by corporations-foundations, NGO's function as the covert arm of the Imperium, distracting attention from failure of the state to do its job. The edge of conflict is dulled. The march to revolution is slowed. The incentive to confront the jackals is diminished. But for the NGO band-aid people might rise in desperation. "Marta Na To Karta Kya" (roughly do or die).

             But we have to use the available instruments. We participated in Student union affairs, as it was the easily accessible vehicle at hand. While looking for a more dynamic way we should not discount the NGO path taking care that they do not hijack our agenda.
True and lasting social justice will be obtained through a political party of workers, the dispossessed and the politically aware intellectuals. Academic criticism by small groups of people over a period of time contributed significantly to mass and popular movements as happened in anti slavery, feminist and civil rights movements. Our rallies, protests and seminars might be worth it, if they resulted in heightened consciousness.
 Let us, though, not forget that the movements were led by a vanguard with fire in their belly, and they were not funded by Governments.
 But times have changed. There is hope.  In the era of instant communications, the Imperium and its agents can not get away with what the Europeans, mainly the British, the pioneers of biological warfare, got away with, in the past. They used small pox laden blankets against Red Indians and poison gas against the Iraqis post WWI. Churchill openly declared that use of gas against inferior races was justifiable.
 Historical process is on the side of the people of Pakistan. It and the rest of under developed world, is groaning under the burden of the Imperium and their toadies. They will progress from the current feudal/tribal, fascist dispensations to a Capitalist society. Democracy will follow. Remember, it took European capitalism several centuries to break the shackles of the Royalty-feudal combine; the latter actually helped the demise by fighting the former.
Capitalism inevitably leads to exploitation of the workers. They will eventually rise, not with standing the insidious impact of reformers and half hearted social supports systems. Capitalists sense the impending conflict and throw crumbs; witness the welfarism in post depression USA, post WWII Europe and post civil rights reforms in the USA again.
            A common thread that ran through all the "socialist" countries was that they overcame internal and external opposition, and made tremendous and fast headway in material progress. They were able to institute a welfare state, providing basic necessities, food, clothes, shelter, health care, education and jobs to all. That cannot be said of the richest and most developed countries. Capitalist countries were so frightened that third world countries would follow the development model of socialist countries that they poured aid into India to develop it as a showcase to rival China.
 But the character of Capitalism is changing fast. Now a conglomerate of national corporations has emerged. Like divine religions they do not recognize national boundaries. They are taking over water, and other resources and the land all over the world. They have patents on crops and manufactories, and they own mineral rights everywhere. Client states are crushed under the burden of loans euphemistically called aid; they have to accept IMF and World Bank dicta-reduce subsidies, increase interest rates, take harsh austerity measures and make the life of their citizens miserable. At the end of the day they force client governments to hand over control of natural resources. If any demur an explosion in the air, an insurgency, and if worse comes to the worst a coup will take care of them.
            But what really distinguishes Global Capitalism from national capitalism is that the former does not even pretend to be solicitous of the welfare of the people of the first world. The new mantra is out sourcing. They had to pay a living wage, health benefits, unemployment and pension to workers in the USA. General Motors paid an average of $28.00 an hour to its workers. They pay $4.00 an hour to a South American worker for doing the same job -with no fringe benefits. Numerous other industries, airlines the foremost, have forced their workers to accept a drastic cut in their wages. Ninety percent of software industry is now in India.
            My submission is that when the ordinary humans of the first world will become economically destitute, and will be reduced to the state of the third world, they will rise in solidarity with all the dispossessed. Only then would the long and tortuous historical process will be shortened.


[i] Capitalism is sine qua non for democracy. A glance at the conflict between feudal and capitalist interests of the UK since the industrial revolution will suffice. Capital wanted democracy to abolish the hereditary privileges and power of aristocracy. Thanks to the clergy industrial workers were beholden to them and would vote for their nominees who would pass laws against the entrenched feudal interest.
[ii] (Fascists like Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam and ZAB have historically been way more effective than military dictators. They have the support of the dominant section of civil society. How they go about obtaining it is a separate discussion.)
[iii] I am not prepared to accept that the politicians were helpless. I am not prepared to accept the argument that people are afraid of guns. We confronted Ayub's martial law in 1961, when the army had not yet been castrated by the 1971 civil war and people still had a modicum of respect for the institution. Students, supported by the people again went out on the streets in 1968 and shook the foundations of the army rule. When Ayub hounded ZAB out of Pakistan it was students who sustained him. He was living in self imposed exile in England making the rounds of pubs-I met him in one-lamenting to any one who would listen, how Ayub had victimized him, how he had fought for the gains the army had made in 1965, how Ayub had betrayed the country etc. We held his hand and offered him our unstinted support in Pakistan.

Dr. S. Akhtar Ehtisham
(607) 776-3336
P.O. Box 469,
Bath NY 14810
All religions try to take over the establishment and if they fail, they collaborate with it, be it feudal or capitalist.

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