From 21-23 July, the Progressive Youth Alliance (youth and student wing of the Pakistan section of the International Marxist Tendency) held a three-day Marxist school at beautiful Banjusa Lake near Rawalakot in Kashmir. The event attracted students, youth, and workers from across the country and provided a valuable opportunity for young revolutionaries to discuss Marxist theory, amid Pakistan's worst economic crisis, and utter political bankruptcy. The school gathered 220 participants in all, who engaged in important discussions on topics such as Pakistan and world politics, philosophy, economic theory and revolutionary strategy.
The school was held in a situation when the official inflation rate has peaked at 38 percent, while in reality it is around double that figure. The currency is in freefall, depreciating at a historic level. This made travelling extremely difficult for students, who are already struggling to continue their studies due to an extreme hike in university fees. Students came from far-off areas of Balochistan, Karachi and rural parts of Sindh, from which the cost of travelling to Kashmir has skyrocketed. Comrades had to wage an aggressive fighting fund campaign to assist attendees, but still a large number of students couldn’t manage to raise the funds and will watch recordings of the event, so they can still educate themselves.
Also, the transport infrastructure is collapsing rapidly, and it took comrades from Sindh more than 40 hours to reach the venue. Plus, there is the risk of another major flood this year, and many parents advised younger comrades to stay home. But despite all the difficulties the school was a huge success, becoming the biggest-ever school of the PYA. Before the main event, many city and area schools were also held across the country to build for it.
Crisis in Pakistan and throughout the world
On 21 July, the school's first session opened with Valeed Khan delivering a lead off on world perspectives. Ubaid Zulfiqar, a student of Mirpur University in Kashmir, was chairing. During his talk, Valeed Khan commented that, even though science and technology have advanced significantly, to the point that many of humanity’s problems can be resolved, most people's lives on this planet are in ruins. We must understand the capitalist system to comprehend why this is the case.
He noted the looming prospect of worldwide stagflation, with the global GDP sitting at approximately $96 trillion and total debt surpassing $305 trillion. These loans will never be repaid. In all, a new global economic crisis is impending. This crisis is impacting US imperialism, which is in relative decline, resulting in new convulsions. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine is exacerbating the economic crisis in the European Union, the United States, and other parts of the world.
The increase in the cost of living and cuts in public spending have sparked protests in one country after another. In the UK, inflation has surpassed 10 percent, and there have been severe attacks on all layers of the workforce.
The capitalist crisis in China is also worsening. Economic growth is declining, and we have begun to see the first warning shots of intensifying class struggle. Political upheaval is currently being witnessed in various countries across the Middle East. For instance, Saudi Arabia is courting the support of Russia and China to the chagrin of its traditional ally, the USA. Israel, on the other hand, is grappling with both political instability (with the recent mass movement around judicial reforms being a flashpoint) and economic decline.
In India, over 60 percent of the population lives on less than three dollars a day. Recently, there have been mass movements and general strikes led by the working class, in addition to the tremendous struggle of farmers against Modi’s reactionary Agricultural Bill, and the movement against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA). These are only a foretaste of battles to come.
Regarding the current situation in Pakistan, amidst utter economic catastrophe, none of the rotten political parties offer any alternative. All have lost their support base and are hanging in the air. A socialist revolution offers the only road forward for the workers and poor of Pakistan, and all of humanity.
Philosophy and economics
In the second session, chaired by Siddique Jan from Pakhtunkhwa and introduced by Fazeel Asghar, the topic of discussion was dialectical materialism. Asghar highlighted the misconception that philosophy is irrelevant to the real world. He explained that the ruling classes establish dominance over the field of thought and philosophy, and seek to crush any hope of change in the minds and hearts of the masses. However, change is inevitable in all aspects of society and nature. Dialectics is the study of the laws of movement in nature, human society, and thought. While formal logic, ‘common sense’, is sound to an extent, it doesn't account for changes occurring in a phenomenon over time. It bears the same relation to dialectics as arithmetic to advanced mathematics.
During his lead-off, Fazeel Asghar explained the three fundamental principles of Hegelian dialectics: the transition from quantity to quality, the interpenetration of opposites, and the negation of the negation. Although Hegel is credited with developing the philosophy of dialectics in a scientific way, he was confined by his idealism. In contrast, Marx used Hegel's dialectical method and developed it on a materialist basis.
There are two types of materialism: vulgar/mechanical materialism, and dialectical materialism. During the 14th and 15th centuries, philosophers such as Bacon, John Locke, and Descartes challenged the authority of religion and the church through the lens of mechanical materialism. This approach was revolutionary for its time, but limited by its rigidity, and inability to comprehend change and contradiction. Utilising Hegelian dialectics, Marx declared that history and society progress through material transformations. The interaction between humans and nature drives this change. Following a lively discussion, Fazeel summed up the first day of the school with a note of revolutionary passion and the shouting of slogans.
During the second day of the school, Jaweria Malick from Karachi led the third session on Russia: From Revolution to Counter-Revolution by Ted Grant, founding member of the predecessor organisation to the IMT. Ali Essa from Hyderabad chaired the session. Jaweria explained that Ted’s book offers an accurate analysis of the revolution in Russia, its Stalinist degeneration, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union through a capitalist counter-revolution.
The revolutionary explosion in 1917 was the inevitable outcome of the bourgeoisie's impotence in Russia, which the Bolshevik Party successfully helmed under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky. This led to remarkable progress in health, education, industry, and all areas of life. But the revolution's isolation and the country’s historical backwardness led to the exhaustion of the working class, and the emergence of a parasitic bureaucracy in the workers’ state, resulting in the phenomenon of Stalinism. Consequently, the degenerated leaders of the young Soviet Republic introduced all manner of distortions to Marxist ideas, crushed internal opposition, politically expropriated the working class, and derailed the revolution in one country after another, ultimately paving the road for capitalism’s return.
During the fourth session, Adam Pal discussed the first part of Karl Marx's book Das Kapital, which focuses on the concept of the 'commodity.' Salma Nazar from Lahore chaired the session. Adam Pal emphasised that Das Kapital is crucial for comprehending capitalism. It is not only a book about economics but also philosophy. Just as the unit of any human body is the cell, the basis of the capitalist system is the commodity, which contains the contradictions of this capitalist society. In this chapter, Marx delves into the concepts of use value and value as they relate to commodities.
In addition, he touches on the importance of socially necessary labour time and twofold character of labour (use and exchange value). Furthermore, Marx explores the relationship between skilled and unskilled labour and the relationship between concrete and abstract labour. He then explains the concept of commodity fetishism, wherein the products of human labour (commodities) gain power over humans. As the production of commodities increases, so does the enslavement of human beings.
On the third day of school, the final session was about ‘Youth and Revolution’, chaired by Fazeel Asghar. Irfan Mansoor led the discussion, expressing that youth today are disappointed by society, with issues like unemployment and expensive education looming over their futures. Only the working-class revolution can free the youth from these problems, and for this purpose, Progressive Youth Alliance is spreading its ideas to students and youth.
Irfan highlighted the accomplishments of PYA in the last period and talked about our upcoming ‘One Solution Socialist Revolution’ campaign, in addition to an anti-harassment campaign on the campuses across the country. These campaigns will culminate in a Day of Action in October, showcasing the Progressive Youth Alliance's dedication to fighting for the rights of students and young people throughout Pakistan. PYA members from Baluchistan, Hyderabad, Karachi, South Punjab, Lahore, Gujranwala, Islamabad, Kashmir, Peshawar and Wana, South Waziristan presented their reports and plans for future activities in their respective areas.
Adam Pal concluded the event with inspiring, revolutionary closing remarks. At the school, the participants displayed a thirst for ideas, a willingness to make sacrifices, and enthusiasm for the socialist revolution. Towards the end, more than 20 young people, who came as visitors, stepped forward and announced their desire to join the organisation and begin their fight for the socialist revolution.
At the conclusion of the school, participants sang the ‘Internationale’, after which there was an explosion of revolutionary slogans in the beautiful valley, which continued until late into the night, when the participants started travelling back to their hometowns. Every participant went away filled with revolutionary energy and enthusiasm to fight against this draconian capitalist system and overthrow it through a victorious revolution.
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