Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Are you still a Marxist?

This was posted as note on Muhtar Bacha's Facebook page in 2012

Are you still a Marxist?
Shamoon Saleem
Haarlem, Holland
8 July 2012

“Are you still a Marxist?” This question makes many of my old comrades and me myself silent for a few moments. Though Marxism is an un-deniable part of human knowledge but I think that this hesitance comes because the signs are unmistakable that it has lost its significance as the banner of a political change.

I wish to make here a distinction between Marx and Marxism because Marxism consists of thoughts and practice of not only Karl Marx. Depending upon your past or present affiliations you can draw a lineage of leaders in intellect and/or politics whose contributions are included in what you believe Marxism is. I am alluding not only to the connotations like Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism-Mao-tse-Tung Thoughts-or add the name of your choice. The huge additions to Marxism came from the state apparatuses (of like Soviet Union and China) which were as a matter of Marxist principle “instruments of oppression” (of one class by the other).

Sometimes it’s also handy to know the background of the writer, so let me tell you first that my association with Marxism is 4 decades old. After the initial references of politics and poetry (Faiz) I came to know of dialectical and historical materialism etc. My disgust at the plight of poor people, injustice etc. started getting intellectual forms. Of one thing I came out convinced that the proletariat were the vanguard of change because of their objective social position. Since those days that conviction has been the motive of my active involvement with the trade union movement. The same conviction resulted into an honest “declassing” myself and avoiding the “petty bourgeois tendencies” in personal and political life.

After a brief imprisonment at Lahore Forte  for ‘treason’, when Zia hanged Bhutto, I gave up the career of a doctor by never picking up my final year medical study exam and chose for the working class movement. Through the decades, I have been member of different communist groups, small and large. Before my departure from Pakistan (1990) I was a “whole timer” with the CP and worked at a trade union center in Karachi.

Those were the years when the “disillusionment” started. After that the Parcham-Khalq and Soviets defeat in Afghanistan finally led to the collapse of Soviet Union herself.

The world since then, has undergone such a radical metamorphosis that the old paradigms seem to have become obsolete. We are trying to interpret (and change) it with the old tools and with the same unmistakably religious fervor.

 Viewpoint published a great interview of Ejaz Ahmed in its Online issue 108. “No America, no Taliban but the LEFT agenda” was his plea while he gave a beautiful explanation of what imperialism today in the 21st century means.


Imperialism is not the culmination of capitalist development within one state that ‘expands’ beyond it’s own borders and colonizes, anymore. It has become a suprastate phenomenon.

And because this modern imperialism is not a ‘benevolent’ capitalism in essence, as presented, it remains the same injustice, struggling against which remains essential. It is a radical metamorphosis demanding a new analysis and strategy that does not seem to come.

[I saw Ejaz once in late 70’s at his sister, Apa Razia’s home in Samanabad, Lahore. He had a delightfully renewing agenda. Imtiaz Alam, then busy with his struggle within Mazdoor Kisan Party of Major Ishaque and Afzal Bangash, was also there.

I saw Imtiaz a couple of months back at his SAFMA office in Lahore, from where he executes his commendable work for Pakistani and the regional politics. But he told me categorically not to be a Marxist activist anymore but only a journalist.]

Workers of the world unite. But where are the workers to unite? The advanced capitalist societies would produce the advanced proletariat class that would lead the world through a revolution into the next classless society. But where are those workers to be found?

.Standing at a demonstration of my trade union in The Hague, I am probably the only one with a rented flat and only a bicycle to ride. The most people around me own at least one car and one house with a secure old age guaranties. Well this secure arrangement is under serious threat, of late but the threat is not perceived as grave as to lead to mass rebellion, let alone revolution. The occupy protests are limited to a small minority and provide a false hope of a global change, only.

My old college mate, Laal Khan (Tanwir Gondal) would tell me that the political "deviation" among the proletariat of the world is because of the lack of the genuine leadership of a genuine working class party. There are too many ‘genuines’ involved in this analysis to make it practicable. 

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