The battle against common sense: a rebuttal to Dr Manzur Ejaz – by Suleman Akhtar

This was written in response to “The feudal battle against the judiciary-Dr Manzur Ejaz” published in Daily Times on October 20, 2010.

Blindfolding by the habitual antipathy and gratuitous adherence with the classical conceptual dogma whilst completely neglecting the persisting ground-realities, inevitably leads to lethal intellectual dishonesty, most of us indulge in during these grim times. It becomes completely insignificant how earnestly one strives for prosperity and betterment of clan if one’s approach towards predicament is out of sync with present objective conditions and fallacious from the core, irrespective of such an attitude is personified by an armchair pseudo-leftist or Marxist activist.

There are two main equivocal terms widely used by many in Pakistan, who frequently maneuver these, in order to support their flawed hypothesis.

1) Feudalism

2) Middle-class/Bourgeoisie

Most of us, belonging to all social classes of society, would unequivocally assert this apprehension that Feudalism has been the only chief impediment in the path of prosperity since the inception of this country, without conducting some serious study on the topic.

There are two intertwined expressions of the term. One of them, deals with the structural issue hence stating it as mode of production. According to classical Marxian definition “The economic situation coming before the inevitable rise of capitalism“. As per this definition, this system isn’t necessarily the defining parameter of our existing political economy. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to comprehend that Pakistan is the part of world capitalist economy, producing/manufacturing diverse agricultural and industrial commodities for different international markets, in order to bring home some foreign exchange. Dominant share of our exports comprises of agricultural products just as the different Agri-economies of the world, which precisely has nothing to do with feudalist mode of production. By 1999, 88per cent of cultivated land in Pakistan was in farm size below 12.5 acres. Just over half the total farms in 1999 were less than five acres in size. These statistics would hardly be the emblem of a feudal society.

Subsequent predominant expression of this indeterminate term deals with the cultural/normative/ethical issues. It has become widely-acknowledged norm in this land of pure to attribute the totalitarian/authoritarian behaviour only to rural feudals, which is tantamount to utmost hypocrisy. In reality, this tyrannical expression has become a fundamental constituent of all classes of our society, constituting wider implications from media and lawyers to bureaucracy and government institutions. What would be the most appropriate term for recent lawyer’s hooliganism?? How one would justify the autocratic behaviour and partisanism of media?? What are the vindications for those radical groups who want to impose their own brand Shria and wreaking havoc all over the country?? One can justifyingly lambaste private jails of feudals in rural Sindh and southern Punjab but how can forget those mysterious prisons of our heroic security-agencies?? Vani and Karo Kari are surely condemnable but equally reprehensible are mob lynching and stoning-to-death incidents in urban Punjab. Matter of fact is that inequality, injustice, oppression and violence aren’t only the characteristics of some land-lord individuals but a collective syndrome of society, irrespective of rural and urban divide. Feudalism, as an economic system has gone long ago, what resides is echoes of normative values of this system. As Marx truly pointed out that cultural vestiges of dying systems continue long after economic collapse.

Middle-class, another universal term which stands for simply “a broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class”, also manipulated here by many so ambivalently to give some breaths their irrational propositions. As per Marxian perspective this term represents “either the bourgeoisie before or during capitalism or some emergent new class within capitalism”. Above two are basic definitions of Middle-class in general, notwithstanding fundamental characteristics of this class may vary with respect to region, around the world. While, taking into account the present objective conditions of Pakistan this specific term cannot be established jointly for a social class who enjoys compatible living standards but belongs to different regions. More elaborately, central/upper Punjab and urban Sindh are considered as bastion of social class who fall in this category but there’s a vast gulf of disagreement between their politico-economic interests and social attitudes ascribed to diverse phenomena. Being the cardinal victim of Zia-ul-Haq’s notorious radicalization and de-policization policy, urban middle-class of Punjab still striving for some enlightenment but shadows of that dark period are still so conspicuous and irrefutable.

When, one establishes an apprehension of “rise of middle-class” and holds recent judicial activism as representative of that class, is totally flawed and fictitious hypothesis even by Marxian perspective. The state institution[read:Judiciary] who publicly denounces and castigates Secularism, may only manifest the aspirations of some elements from Urban Punjab but clearly uncoordinated with other half of this class. Marxism, as a political/economic philosophy, incorporates highly progressive social change. These vows from higher judiciary for further radicalization of society not only hold anomalous position from basic theory of Marxism but also in clear contradiction with dialectical materialism.  Why is that the Lahore High Court and Apex court in Islamabad are self-proclaimed torch bearers of “Independence of Judiciary” and completely detached from legal fraternity of other provinces?? Why do the affiliates of some banned terrorist outfits always get release orders from these courts and their subordinates?? Why is that the route of so called “Long Marches” is always between Lahore to Islamabad??

At this turbulent point of our history, when the contradictions with-in the same class of society has not been reconciled, it would be utter idiocy to hold that class as “reflection of change”, in absence of proper estimation if it so proficient to bear the burden. In the end, let me quote Leon Trotsky here, who is considered as one of the most influential and theoretically correct Marxists of Twentieth century. In “Results and Prospects”, written in 1906, Trotsky clearly outlines the deficiency of bourgeoisie during 1848 European Revolution, seems equally valid for our “Chattering Class” in recent times.

“In 1848 the bourgeoisie was already unable to play a comparable role. It did not want and was not able to undertake the revolutionary liquidation of the social system that stood in its path to power. We know now why that was so. Its aim was – and of this it was perfectly conscious – to introduce into the old system the necessary guarantees, not for its political domination, but merely for a sharing of power with the forces of the past. It was meanly wise through the experience of the French bourgeoisie, corrupted by its treachery and frightened by its failures. It not only failed to lead the masses in storming the old order, but placed its back against this order so as to repulse the masses who were pressing it forward.” [Ch:III. 1789 – 1848 – 1905] .



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