COMMENT: Politics of reconciliation —Lal Khan - Sunday, March 13, 2011

Source :\03\13\story_13-3-2011_pg3_4

The PPP cannot provide health, education and employment to the masses within the constraints of this beleaguered and rotting capitalist system. The masses are bewildered and in a state of shock after the avalanche of price hikes, all in the name of ‘democracy’

The recent spat between the PPP and the MQM has once again exposed the fragility and farce of the politics of so-called reconciliation. This ‘theory of reconciliation’, which has been presented by the imperialists and their shadows in Pakistan as a new policy of political and social harmony, is in reality a very old strategy. Its aim is to distract and undermine the class struggle.

Throughout recent history, such a policy has been used to derail the revolutionary movements in most countries of the world. Its modern version initiated by Obama and other reformist leaders of imperialism is simply the continuation of similar tactics adopted by the right-wing German social democracy at the beginning of the last century. Its main proponents such Bernstein and Karl Kautsky ended up in the camp of counter-revolution and led to the defeat of the German revolution of 1918-19 and 1923. It played a similar role in the betrayal of revolutionary movements in other countries.

In the present epoch, where the world capitalism has suffered the biggest slump in its history and where mighty US imperialism has faced defeats in both the diplomatic military and political fields, there is a deliberate attempt to derail the mass movement through policies of class collaborationism. With the demise of the Musharraf regime, the subsequent revolutionary ferment amongst the masses in Pakistan terrified the imperialists and their stooges in the establishment. Prior to this, the prolonged lull in the class struggle had allowed the imperialists to impose a right-wing leadership on the PPP that was more subservient to their interests. The PPP leaders were more than willing to abolish any socialist leanings or vestiges from the party. It became almost a crime to mention socialism or class struggle in party meetings, especially where the top leaders were present. This shift to the right started in the late 1980s and continued up to the present time. This allowed the influence and ideas of finance capital to penetrate further into the higher echelons of the party. Various capitalist and feudal interests began to dominate the party, allowing them to attain state power and secure a share of the plunder. Such political corruption and subservience to big business even penetrated the lower ranks of the party. This completely disoriented and bewildered the party’s mass support.

Although the PPP was never a Bolshevik party, this political degeneration meant that the party’s populism faded into a crass capitulation to the rule of capitalism. The party’s founding documents and socialist principles of 1967 were totally abrogated and erased from subsequent election manifestos. This was also the fate of populism elsewhere in the world from Argentina to Indonesia. However, the masses had no alternative to these traditional parties. Their deep-seated loyalty and trust was therefore used not to change society, but dishonestly placed at the disposal of the ruling classes and imperialism. Under these conditions, the party was used as a tool of class collaboration in this ‘new’ theory of ‘reconciliation’. The present policies of privatisation, downsizing, liberalisation and economic deregulation that the present regime is carrying out belligerently, have resulted in intensifying the misery of the already impoverished population. The most deceitful of these policies was the public private partnership by which the workers were deceived to believe that they had become the new owners with 12 percent of the shares. However, the purpose was to promote class collaborationism.

The hide and seek game being played with the PML-N shows the shallow nature of this policy, which has nothing to offer the oppressed masses. The N-League is a right-wing party that is an offshoot of the establishment. It has no real mass basis and finds its support mainly amongst the urban and the rural petit bourgeoisie. The recent disclosure of a massive electoral fraud where more than five million registered voters are said to be fake says volumes about the authenticity of the election results and popularity of the political parties. The MQM was established and promoted by state agencies under the Zia dictatorship mainly to undermine the class unity on ethnic lines in Karachi, Pakistan’s Petrograd. The ANP has been drifting away from its reputation of progressive secular nationalism and has ended up supporting imperialist aggression in Afghanistan and areas of Pakistan. The JUI was initially drawn in to give a religious tinge to the coalition. All these parties are the political representatives of different sections of Pakistan’s elite with their own vested interests. The PPP, which has its traditional basis of support from the oppressed classes, should have nothing to do with these hostile parties. It should stand for and deliver roti, kapra aur makan (bread, clothing and shelter). It cannot provide health, education and employment to the masses within the constraints of this beleaguered and rotting capitalist system. The masses are bewildered and in a state of shock after the avalanche of price hikes, all in the name of ‘democracy’. The politics of reconciliation, dressed in the fig leaf of democracy, has failed the toiling masses and the youth. There is a seething anger and discontent underneath the surface of society. The people will not be befooled with the chants of ‘democracy’ for very long. Lenin long ago explained the farcical nature of bourgeoisie democracy. He wrote in 1917, “The exploiting classes need political rule to maintain exploitation, i.e. in selfish interests of an insignificant minority against the vast majority of the people. The exploited classes need political rule in order to completely abolish all exploitation, i.e. the interests of the vast majority of the people, and against the insignificant minority consisting of modern slave owners the landowners and the capitalists.” In other words, what is needed is a genuine democracy of the majority, an economic democracy where industry, land and the banks are owned collectively by ordinary people.

According to Marx, all history is the history of class struggle, but this class struggle is irreconcilable. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto vividly explained this reality in his last work, If I am Assassinated. Victory of one class is a defeat for the other. Reconciliation politics has become a curse and a deceit for the masses. Nothing less than the socialist revolution can bring about a genuine democracy, a democracy of the exploited, the oppressed.

The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at

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