Lal Salaam Publications in Pakistan has published a new book in the Urdu language on Kashmir, written by comrade Yasir Irshad, who resides in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir. The following is the foreword of the book, translated into English for readers of marxist.com.
The living conditions of the masses and youth of the oppressed nations are usually so deplorable that the question of liberation assumes an immediate and practical importance for them. The plunder of natural resources, poverty and backwardness under the yoke of oppression produces such a popular feeling of resentment against the imperialist rulers that it demands immediate action.
To some extent, this is natural, because imperialist rule is the direct cause of most of the problems faced by the oppressed masses. That is why liberation from imperialism becomes the primary aim of the freedom fighters of oppressed nations. This point of view holds true for the beginning of the struggle, because every oppressed nation must first of all free itself from imperialism. Unless this is achieved, there can be no question of social reconstruction. On this basis, the liberation of every oppressed nation becomes the starting point of any real programme of revolutionary struggle.
But simply identifying imperialism as the root cause of all the problems faced by the oppressed nation, and jumping into the liberation struggle, is not enough. Rather, it is necessary for the success of such a struggle to have a detailed, scientific understanding of other fundamental questions. No society has ever evolved in isolation from the rest of the world. On the contrary, all human societies have historically progressed under mutual influence. Whether it is a scientific discovery or some social development, everything has an international impact. Similarly, all social phenomena – including wars, imperialist plunder and revolutions – have deep historical causes behind them. To understand the causes of our slavery, we must have knowledge of the general historical laws that determine the historical evolution of society.
In fact, the historical process is not dependent on the aims and objectives of individuals, but has its basis in historical necessity and the interaction of cause and effect. The society we live in is the result of a long process of historical evolution. In order to understand its present contradictions and to build a perspective for the future, it is essential to make a scientific study of various stages of its development by comprehending the general laws of historical development. Only on this basis can our actions lead to the desired results.
That is why the scientific analysis of society is not an intellectual exercise. Rather, it is directly related to the practical struggle against national oppression. The national liberation struggle is dominated by a tendency that regards theoretical and ideological debates as unimportant, and argues that all focus should be on immediate, practical action. This tendency has created a general atmosphere of disdain for ideas and theory. Similarly, following this logic, the youth of oppressed nations are discouraged from drawing essential lessons from the liberation struggles of other oppressed nations. In this atmosphere, history is studied through a metaphysical and isolationist lens. A lot of emphasis is placed on a few, so-called golden eras. This view promotes an attitude of national narcissism among the people.
Although it is true that the ancient history of most of the occupied territories contains periods when there was some relative, general prosperity, this view of history does not provide us with a scientific understanding of the historical evolution of these societies. Besides the knowledge of these “golden eras”, we must have a complete understanding of the historical stages through which any particular society has passed. Similarly, without a concrete understanding of the various modes of production has undergone its history, it is impossible to objectively comprehend its evolution.
We are living under capitalism, and we have to decide whether national liberation is possible today under the sway of this system, or whether we have to overthrow it to achieve our national emancipation. If we are of the opinion that our national liberation can still be achieved under capitalism, then we must prove that capitalism still possesses progressive potential. However, this system is in decline globally and the masses of even the advanced countries are protesting against it. We fail to see any reason why oppressed masses should have any hope in it. But at the same time, it is necessary to determine the only socio-economic system that can replace moribund capitalism in the historical arena. These are not such far-flung questions that they should be postponed until an advanced stage of the national liberation struggle. Rather, the practical struggle should start with a detailed, correct and scientific understanding of all these problems. This is the only way of assuring the success of our national liberation struggle. Similarly, we must make a critical analysis of the experiences of the national liberation struggles of other oppressed nations.
It is true that the imperialist rulers distort the history of oppressed nations, and that is the reason the peoples of such nations generally have a lot of interest in exploring their actual history. This interest is important and it should be enhanced so that the historical distortions made by the ruling class can be countered. The general opinion, dominant in the study of history, reduces it to an absurd collection of the deeds and adventures of individual leaders or rulers, kings, conquerors and generals. This version of history tells us nothing about the struggles and sacrifices of millions of ordinary men and women, upon whom the evolution of a society is actually dependent.
No human society is built on the efforts of just a few individuals. Take the example of any major war. Usually, the victory is attributed to the genius of a few leading individuals. The thousands of common soldiers who have died on the battlefield are simply forgotten. Although it is true that the leadership plays an important role in achieving victory in any war, revolution or liberation struggle, attributing the success entirely to the leadership and completely ignoring the role of the masses is a very unscientific and one-sided approach. This is precisely the view of the ruling elite, who don't want the masses to get organised and wage a revolutionary struggle. This view of history promotes individualism and personality cults, which are extremely detrimental to mass movements and struggles for national liberation. A struggle that is not organised on the basis of the most-advanced scientific ideas of a given period is bound to fail, no matter how strong or courageous it is. At the same time, the ideological mistakes of such struggles offer the ruling class a chance to defeat and crush them.
Another commonly discussed question concerns who is a friend and who is an enemy of the national liberation struggle. Everyone answers this question in light of his or her own ideas and philosophy, and usually, most of the political workers involved in national liberation struggles are of the opinion that all the other countries of the world (except their own imperialist masters) are active or passive supporters of their national liberation struggle. Similarly, there are a lot of illusions in the role of imperialist, international institutions like the UN or EU. It is generally supposed that they will exert pressure on the imperialist rulers in favour of the national liberation struggle. It is necessary to fight these illusions, regarding not only the role of other imperialist countries and institutions but also about the real character of the ruling class of the oppressed nation itself.
So, the correctness of any strategy is dependent on the ideology and philosophy from which it is formed. That is the reason a correct and scientific ideology is so vital for the success of any mass struggle. The impatience of the masses (and especially youth )of the oppressed nations to throw off the imperialist yoke is justified in its own right. But in order to achieve this, it is necessary to make a patient and correct analysis of the local and international conditions, and to build the struggle on solid foundations.
We cannot afford to ignore the scientific study and historical evolution of the socio-economic system under which we are enslaved. It is not possible to ignore the political, social and economic changes taking place on an international scale, which have a direct effect on our society. Similarly, it is necessary to make a critical analysis of the history of our national liberation struggle and to discard the ideas and strategies that have failed in practice time and again. If we want to get rid of the imperialist yoke, then we will have to change our attitude towards theory. After critical analysis of all the political ideologies, we have to adopt the most advanced ideas of our epoch. In our opinion, the most advanced ideas of our age are found in the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Ted Grant. The ideas of Marxism. Like any other science, Marxism welcomes scientific critique and believes in advancing the struggle through democratic discussion of ideas and theory.
This book is an effort to advance the debate on the national question of Kashmir, basing itself on the ideas of Marxism. In the first chapter, the political, social and economic changes taking place on the international arena are discussed in connection with the situation in Kashmir after the fateful decision of the Modi government in India on 5 August 2019. The second chapter deals with the history of Kashmir’s national question and its national liberation struggle. The third chapter is about the historical analysis implicit in the application of the Marxist method, regarding the right of nations to self-determination. The fourth chapter deals with the various definitions of the national democratic revolution and especially the influence of Soviet Union and Stalinism in this regard. The fifth chapter is a critical analysis of the methods of armed struggle. It also highlights the Marxist ideas about state. The sixth chapter deals with the differences between nationalism and workers’ internationalism. The seventh chapter explains the revolutionary, Marxist way forward for the Kashmiri national liberation struggle, and its connection with the revolutionary struggles of the masses of the Indo-Pak subcontinent.
Although this book primarily deals with the national question and liberation struggle of Kashmir, the necessary lessons drawn about the liberation struggle of Kashmir by application of the Marxist method are also largely applicable to the liberation struggles of other oppressed nations of the region. Especially the discussion regarding the right of nations to self-determination, national democratic revolution, protection of natural resources, various methods of struggle and Marxist solutions to the national question are equally important for the youth and masses of other oppressed nations who are struggling for their national liberation. Readers who are new to the Marxist ideas may face some difficulty in understanding the meaning of various terms, but there is no shortcut for this problem. Rather, one of the primary aims of this book is to encourage readers to study Marxism further. We hope that an honest, political critique of this work will help to raise the consciousness of our national liberation struggle.
Rawlakot, 25 October 2019