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Why Pakistan Needs a Karl Marx

Class distinctions are more apparent in third world countries where the dynamics between rich and poor shape our collective mindset. There is no end to the list of the problems faced by our beloved country but the disparities between different social classes is a matter not many people seem to be bothered about. After all, the opinion makers, legislators, entrepreneurs and policy setters have but one thing in common; they belong to the same social class.

When it is possible to buy a handbag worth a million rupees on the same street in which our homeless citizens sleep on the bare pavements, we know there’s something wrong. There’s something terribly wrong. One would begin to wonder how this could even be possible? But this is not only possible, this is commonplace in the land we are so adamant on calling ‘pure’. But why should we worry? The people who have access to the Internet and read opinion pieces in the English language? Hold on.

Do you remember the last time you encountered a VIP movement? Sometimes it is as subtle as a casual queue jump in the Passport office. In other instances, it is so apparent that entire roads are blocked and traffic is brought to a halt so that a citizen or a group of citizens can pass without any delay. It is during that moment when citizens like us who consider them selves a part of the ‘Bourgeoisie’ (Elite in simpler terms) have to taste a bitter pill. We argue with traffic wardens and curse the people responsible for infringing our basic rights of movement. It is ironic when we share a moment with the ‘Proletariat’ (Working Class). Imagine how it feels to live in that very moment for an entire lifespan.

It could not be that hard, could it? Considering the fact that traces of helplessness and abject poverty are evident everywhere the scope of our eye can reach. It is a common sight to see a group of laborers waiting impatiently to sell their services to any bidder who would have them. The people seated in cars and motorcycles casually pass through them as if this sight is the most natural sight they have ever seen without even realizing that they have the same moment when they are the victims of class disparity.

The power dynamics of Pakistan are such that they can only accommodate a limited amount of people. Why has the Local Bodies Ordinance not been implemented in any province? Why do we not see Union Councils influencing their locality? Why are MNAs and MPAs who are elected to legislate more interested in acting like godfathers in their constituency? Why do leaders of mainstream Leftist parties such as PPP, ANP drive Land Cruisers and live in expensive mansions? I do not know the answers to these questions, but I do realize that these are questions, which need to be asked.

Karl Marx has a very simple theory to counter this injustice. I will try my best to explain it while accepting the limitations of my knowledge regarding this economic philosophy. According to Marx, social inequality arises due to the misuse of capital. Capital is in the hands of a few and thus the beneficiaries of capital exploit the working class as much as they can. The same capital exploiting elite form governments and make national policy. It is not possible for this system to be fair for the majority of the citizens since the majority have no representation in the corridors of power. During Marx’s time, factory owners had immense influence due to their production capabilities. He wanted to see a world in which the working class, the ‘proletariat’ would make national policy, not the other way round.

Marx’s ideas are often criticized by the people who do not even understand them. A common recrimination against his philosophy is that it abolishes the concept of private property. It is to be understood that nine out of ten citizens of Pakistan do not own any form of property and thus this point does not affect the majority. The abuse of private property occurs when Palaces (Raiwand, Bani Gala, PM House, President House etc) are built at the expense of the poor masses and the ruling elite treat themselves more luxuriously than royalty. It is also to be understood that many Marxists do not wish to abolish the concept of private property altogether but form a system in which inequality is minimized.

It is despairing that today, there is no mainstream leftist party in the Parliament. The ones who claimed to be so have pissed on the very ideals of this philosophy. Marx must be turning in his grave when a billionaire former president proclaims himself to be a follower of Marxism. There seems to be some unity between smaller parties such as the Awami Workers Party, which have determined political workers, but have not been able to capture the attention of the masses, as one would have hoped.

It seems shocking that a country like Pakistan, which is plagued by inequality, does not have an influential leftist lobby, which could represent the working class. There are virtually no trade unions, no workers organizations and no leftist political party, which has a share of power.

I will end this article with the last line of the Communist Manifesto, which was published in 1848. ‘Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your shackles’.

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