Unleashing of one scandal upon another of the scandalous Pakistani ruling class has almost become a norm in this society, ravaged by the disastrous crisis of a diseased capitalist system. It’s not just the corrupt and criminal nature of the elite that is being exposed but the decay and despicable conditions of the state and society are becoming more evident for the masses to comprehend.
Currently the mêlée between the upstart tycoon Malik Riaz and the Chief Justice has stripped open the sinister nexus of the capitalists, generals, upstart politicians, landlords, top bureaucrats, lawyer barons, media bosses and the hierarchy of the judiciary inextricably linked to finance capital. This episode has sent jitters in the byzantine corridors of power. It has laid bare the ugly face of the sacred institutions and mockery of the laws whose sanctities were imposed upon society by the state and its intellectual apologists.
One of the seven sages of ancient Greece, Solon of Athens (638-558BC) had once defined judicial law as, “A spider’s web in which small things get stuck while the big ones pierce through it.” However in Pakistan this web is rupturing and dithering. The extreme lust of money is relentlessly undermining the very system it breeds and exists upon. There are ravings and rantings on television talk shows about the threat to the freedom of judiciary and supremacy of the law and constitution. Paradoxically this conflict has revealed the actual relevance of the law, constitution, democracy, ideology, patriotism and piety paraded so cynically by masters of our fate. One of the methods of forging the sacredness of the judiciary is by alienating and depriving the vast majority of any access to this institution. Not even one percent of the population has the financial means to bear the costs of justice from this temple of universal deliverance - The Supreme court. Unaffordable justice is the denial of justice. Judiciary is deliberately engineered as an enigmatic institution. This mysteriousness is used by the ruling classes to diffuse issues spiralling out of control. Often non issues are aggravated to an extent where they turn into their opposite, creating extreme suspense and severe tensions, threatening a volcanic eruption. At their climax the judiciary slyly puts off the hearings to an obscure date and inflamed emotions around that particular issue are mellowed. But as the social and economic crisis deteriorates the real issues of life become more agonising and mass revolts loom large. Expediently another non issue is hyped up by the media and again the judiciary becomes the focal point of mass attention. In ordinary times the ruling classes try to avoid the use of this vital organ of the repressive state too frequently. Its exposure and depreciation can be dangerous for the class rule. But as the situation worsens and the crisis exacerbates, the ruling class has to resort more and more to this sacred institution. It is not an accident that this vicious cycle has become more intense. In the last few years there has hardly passed a day when the judiciary was not in the news headlines. The only real outcome of the restoration of this so called independent judiciary has been exorbitant rise in costs of seeking justice in this system for ordinary people. Almost every labour dispute was decided in favour of the bosses.
In this society dominated by the market economy everything is up for sale. The present saga has denuded the absurdity of the so called government and the opposition. All sections of the ruling classes are only driven by their insatiable lust for money. Power is the means to achieve it; hence this along with loyalties, morality, ethics, cognizance and integrity has become a saleable commodity. How many of these pious demigods who are supposed to craft our destiny are on the payroll of Malik Riaz? If not him then there are imperialists, drug barons, arms peddlers, extortionists and other wealthy creatures who can buy this ruling elite and squeeze the resources and wealth of this society filling up their coffers. Corruption, hypocrisy, deception, crime and callousness reeks from every section of today’s elite. Malik Riaz is one of those upstart entrepreneurs, who in collusion with all pillars of the state accumulated immense wealth in the shortest stints of moneymaking.
Upstarts of varying shades and shapes have stockpiled obscene wealth through corruption and money laundering. The classical bourgeoisie who schemed for an independent market by the creation of a new country miserably failed to construct a modern industrialised nation state. Massive interventions of the state in the economy to bolster the bourgeoisie proved futile. Rather than solving it created new sharper contradictions in the pattern of combined and uneven development of Pakistani capitalism. It was this that led to the revolutionary upheaval of the workers and the youth in the late 1960’s. In the 1970’s reforms under state capitalism failed to alleviate poverty in an economy of dearth. The military dictatorships only exacerbated the crisis of an obsolete system. Their failure brought in bourgeoisie democratic regimes to protract this decaying system. The masses have had an excruciating experience of this moneyed democracy. The lessons of last sixty-five years demonstrate that capitalism in Pakistan can be only of a Mafiosi and crooked character. Corruption, nepotism and plunder are necessities for its existence. It can neither develop the means of production nor can it improve the living conditions of the masses. If anything it has aggravated misery and poverty. As long as it exists it will further devastate society. Lenin describing a revolutionary situation ascribed its first symptom as the intensification and ferociousness of the conflicts amongst the ruling classes. The severity of this factional infighting might be a doom and gloom scenario for many, but form a Leninist perspective the unprecedented exposure of the vicious nature of the rulership can transform the consciousness of the working classes and the youth. An unstable equilibrium can be maintained for long periods by a natural tendency towards inertia. However in exceptional historical moments this equilibrium is shattered and social revolts erupt scintillatingly. This can occur sooner rather than later.
(Lal Khan is editor of Asian Marxist Review and author of many books including Partition: Can it be Undone? on the Crisis of Subcontinent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)