A two-day Marxist School was held in Rawlakot, Kashmir on 6-7 August. It was the most successful Marxist School ever organised by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), with more than 200 students, youth, workers and political activists participating from Karachi to Peshawar, and Baluchistan to Kashmir.
Currently, Pakistan is going through an extremely severe economic and political crisis, with the highest-ever level of inflation, which continues to rise. In such times, participating in this Marxist School from faraway places required an enormous financial sacrifice on the part of the comrades. The success of the event shows that, not only is the thirst for revolutionary ideas increasing, but also the willingness of working masses, especially the youth, to take part in revolutionary politics.
A day before the Marxist School started, a youth convention and rally against inflation, unemployment, sexual harassment on campuses and in workplaces, national oppression and capitalism was organised by PYA Kashmir. A new leadership for PYA Kashmir was also elected at the convention, which was another big success, with more than 400 students, youth, workers and political activists in attendance.
A mass movement against the ‘energy bills hike’ was also at its peak at the time of Marxist School and youth convention in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Our comrades have been playing a leading role in this movement. Just days before the convention, legal cases were registered against our leading comrades at the local police station. It was a mammoth task for the PYA Kashmir team to organise such successful events, while playing a leading role in the movement, but the comrades carried it all off with aplomb.
Day one: world perspectives and economics
The two-day Marxist School consisted of four sessions. The first, on world perspectives, was chaired by Comrade Ubaid Zulfiqar from Kashmir, who welcomed everyone by saluting the financial sacrifice and revolutionary enthusiasm demonstrated by their participation in the school.
Comrade Majeed Panwar from Sindh opened the discussion by outlining the global economic and political crisis. He explained how wars and pandemics are necessary outcomes of the capitalist crisis, which have exacerbated the existing economic and political crises even further. He explained that the current, organic crisis of capitalism – a crisis of overproduction – can’t be overcome within the limits of capitalism.
He explained the reasons for the crisis of US imperialism and its implications all over the world, noting that rising tensions with China, and the Russia-Ukraine war have shown the relative decline of American imperialism. Majeed said these contradictions will further sharpen in the coming period and intensify the global economic and political chaos.
Majeed highlighted the revolutionary upheavals, like the insurrectionary movement in Sri Lanka, which are taking place all over the world. He said events of this nature are becoming a norm now. The ruling classes of one country after another are facing the wrath of the working masses. Especially countries in the so-called third world will witness the most epic class battles in the coming period.
Majeed stated that Pakistan is facing an existential crisis, with an almost bankrupt economy and unprecedented inflation. The agricultural sector, which plays a key role in Pakistan’s economy, is facing its worst-ever crisis. Moreover, climate change is causing floods that are wreaking havoc with workers and peasants, and destroying agricultural lands.
Pakistan’s economy was always reliant on imperialist debt and couldn’t develop its own industrial capacity. The master-slave relations of US and Pakistani ruling class kept dollars flowing in in the form of aid and loans, with the major chunk of this foreign money going into the pockets of Pakistani ruling class. But now, following the US’ strategic shift of South Asian policy – making India its main ally – the ruling class of Pakistan is faced with a situation with which it cannot cope. The IMF is now dealing with Pakistan the way it deals with other third world countries – gone are the days of special deals and preferential treatment.
A quagmire of imperialist debt has brought Pakistan close to a default, just like Sri Lanka. Between Pakistan’s dire economic straits, the global capitalist crisis, the US-China conflict and the Russia-Ukraine, it is clear that there is no way out on a capitalist basis, and the chaos will only intensify in future.
Meanwhile, different sections of the Pakistani ruling class are fighting with each other over forming a government. Right now, Pakistan is ruled by a coalition of all the mainstream parties – with the PMLN ruling in the centre, PTI in Punjab, and KPK and PPP in Sindh. This situation has created a political crisis. In Pakistani politics, whoever rules Punjab rules the country. Usually, the governing party in Punjab would also be in power in the centre, but now it’s a different story. The army has been totally discredited, and splits within its ranks (over who should fill the Army Chief’s seat) are now known to everyone. This has never happened in the history of Pakistan, especially in Punjab, which has always been the support base for the Army. It is an unprecedented change. And now almost every party has blamed the Army for the crisis in Pakistan.
While hundreds of thousands of working peoples’ homes are being destroyed in ongoing floods, the ruling classes of Pakistan are fighting with each other, with absolute apathy towards the suffering of the masses. They are totally alienated from the lives of the working masses, as in turn are the working masses from them. There is no single political party or religious group that can control working masses once they are on the march. The Army and other security forces are heavily discredited. The workers, youth and students are fed up. Sooner or later, they will be on the move. This is a perfect recipe for the revolution. What is lacking is a revolutionary party that can lead the working masses to a socialist victory.
After Majeed’s lead-off, a discussion followed that touched on the economy, the political situation and the dynamics of revolutionary upheavals. Comrades from many different regions participated, including Fazeel Asghar (Lahore), Sajid Khan (Karachi), Rawal Asad (Multan), Siddique Jan (Malakand), Sahab (Peshawar), Ameer Ayaz (Quetta), Yar Yousafzai (Islamabad), Ali Essa (Hyderabad), Salma (Gujranwala), Zubair (Waziristan), Yasir Irshad (Kashmir), Rai Asad (Lahore) and Adam Pal (Lahore). Finally, Comrade Majeed summed up the discussion by highlighting the necessity and importance of a revolutionary party that can lead the working masses to a successful socialist revolution.
The second session of Marxist School concerned the basics of Marxist economics. It was chaired by Comrade Hilal from Peshawar and the lead off was given by Comrade Fazeel Asghar from Lahore.
Fazeel opened the discussion by saying that the ruling classes and their paid intellectuals propagate the idea that capitalism is the most-advanced system possible, that class society has always existed, and will always exist, thus denying any change. Meanwhile, all the facts go against them. Today, the capitalist system is in its deepest-ever crisis and has turned life into a hell for the majority. Still, we are told the crises we face are a normal boom and slump cycle, despite any scientific basis for this claim. Fazeel explained that Marx was the first to describe, not only the dynamics of capitalism on a scientific basis, but also the evolution of society, in which different modes of production came into being at particular stages of development.
Introducing the basics of Marxist economics, Fazeel started with the question of commodities. He quoted Marx, who explained that all the wealth in capitalist society is an “immense accumulation of commodities”, these commodities being creations of human labour. He then explained the two forms of value contained within a commodity: i.e. use value (how it might fulfil some need) and exchange value (the proportion by which it might be exchanged with other commodities). He went on to describe how money became a universal equivalent – a commodity with which every other commodity could be exchanged – briefly noting the evolution of money, from cattle and gold, to digital currency.
Afterwards, Fazeel went on to detail the difference between labour and labour power. The latter is a workers’ ability to work for a given period of time, and it is the only commodity that creates additional values. The capitalist extracts profit from this surplus value, after selling the resultant commodities, products of labour, on the market.
Fazeel also explained that wages are the market price of labour power, and that workers can’t receive a wage equal to the value they create, because then the capitalist would not make any profit from selling their commodities. He explained how surplus value emerges from the production process, and not from the market forces of supply and demand. Although these play their part in determining the price of commodities, the price will always oscillate around the true value of a commodity, which is equal to the labour crystallised within it.
The evolution, and Marx’s elaboration on the labour theory of value was discussed in detail, as was the emergence of capital and development of capitalist society. At the end, Fazeel explained how free competition under capitalism tends to give way to monopoly, and the system ends in the blind alley of overproduction.
After Fazeel’s lead off, many questions were raised. Comrades who took part in the discussion were Sibghat Wyne (Gujranwala), Khalid Chiragh (Peshawar), Haris Chohan (Islamabad), Alamzeb (Quetta), Farhan Rasheed (Multan) and Adam Pal (Lahore).
Summing up, Fazeel discussed how the productive capacity of humanity is being wasted under capitalism, and if fully utilised, it could create a heaven on earth. There is no way to utilise this potential under capitalism, only under a rationally planned economy.
Both the excellent sessions of day one saw a large number of new comrades participating in the discussion at a high level. After a dinner break, the Central Executive Committee of PYA met late at night. It was decided in the meeting that a Central Convention of the PYA, in which a new central leadership will be elected, is to be held in December this year. The morale of the young comrades in the meeting was very high, reflected in the ambitious attendance targets for the city conventions leading up to the central convention.
Day two: philosophy and the state
The second day took over from where the first ended. Comrades were really excited about the third session of the Marxist School on Comrade Alan Woods’ book, History of philosophy: a Marxist Perspective. Comrade Farhan Rasheed from Multan chaired this session and Comrade Adam Pal gave the lead off.
Adam started the discussion by introducing the importance of philosophy. He said, in the normal, daily routine of everyday life, one might not need to study ‘philosophy’, but when we are faced with complex questions like: how does society work; what is history; what is life etc., then we surely need a philosophy. In normal times, people follow the philosophy of the ruling class, which is the dominant philosophy. But in times of revolution, they rebel against the commonplace ideas of society.
Adam explained the journey of the development of thought from Ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; to the advanced modern philosophies of Hegel and Marx. He explained important debates occurring over a period of centuries and how various philosophers developed ideas corresponding to the modes of production of their societies. He explained the Marxist method of historical materialism, which is necessary to really understand the history of philosophy.
Adam’s lead off was very well received. Many questions and contributions raised by Sibghat Wyne (Gujranwala), Mishal Wyne (Gujranwala), Basit Khan (Lahore), Asfandyar Shinwari (Peshawar), Rawal Asad (Multan), Hayat (Islamabad) and Seema Khan (Baluchistan).
Adam summed up the discussion by saying that different phenomena in human thought, the universe and society can only be explained correctly through the Marxist method of dialectical materialism. Marxism is a science that not only explains the contradictions in the world, but shows how to change it. Only the philosophy of Marxism explains how to create a society of abundance, while all other philosophies preach pessimism.
The final session was on Lenin’s classic text, State and Revolution. It was chaired by Comrade Usman Sial from Islamabad and the lead off was given by Comrade Sanaullah from Lahore.
Sanaullah introduced the session by saying that this book was written just two months before the Russian Revolution. It was a time when the struggle between revolution and counter revolution was at its peak. Thus, writing this book was of practical importance, to help revolutionaries clarify their views on the question of state.
Sanaullah said that the state is portrayed by the apologists of capitalism as a social contract between the people, which has always existed. But actually the emergence of the state is linked with the emergence of class society and the production of a surplus. It was a struggle for the ownership of this surplus, which divided society into exploited and exploiting classes. The state, which in the final analysis is nothing but armed bodies of men, arose as an instrument of oppression of one class by another. Some argue the state is a neutral arbiter between the conflicting classes, but that is absolute nonsense. In fact, it is an instrument of oppression by which the ruling class can maintain its rule.
Sanaullah went on to discuss the experiences of 1848-51 revolutions and the 1871 Paris Commune, from which Marx and Engels arrived at important conclusions about the character of state. It was the experience of the Paris Commune that led Marx and Engels to conclude that it was necessary for the working class to smash the bourgeois state from top to bottom, and create their own.
Sanaullah explained the evolution of the state from slave society up to capitalism. The state has changed its form, and apparently became more democratic, but even the modern capitalist state is just an instrument of oppression to keep the rule of capital intact. That’s why whenever workers of a factory, students at universities, or the poor masses protest, the police and army ruthlessly oppress, torture and arrest them. Here, we see the real oppressive face of the state.
He explained the necessity of overthrowing the capitalist state through socialist revolution, and replacing it with a workers’ state. He explained the character and structure of a workers’ state and the process of its eventually withering away.
After Sanaullah’s lead off, questions were raised and other comrades participated in the discussion. They were: Hazrat Umar (Quetta), Parvez Chohan (Karachi), Rawal Asad (Multan), Umer Riaz (Kashmir), Yasir Irshad (Kashmir), Shoaib Sial (Lahore), Yar Yousafzai (Islamabad) and Adam Pal (Lahore).
Sanaullah summed up the session by saying: “Socialists must read this book to arm themselves with a very important lesson: that the capitalist state must be smashed and replaced with a workers’ state. Otherwise revolution is doomed to fail. Comrades, forward to socialist revolution!”
After the second session’s sum up, Comrade Asad Kabir (leading figure of the movement in Kashmir ‘power bills hike’) briefed all the comrades about the movement, and especially about the state-wide strike of 6 August.
Concluding remarks for the Marxist School were made by Comrade Adam Pal. They were: “The ideas discussed in the Marxist School are the ideas of the working class. It is our duty to take them back to the workers and peasants, and to the youth and students, to arm them with the most lethal weapon, which can’t be destroyed. No power on earth can overthrow capitalism, except the working class. Thus, we must build a revolutionary party, which can lead the working class in overthrowing capitalism.”
The PYA’s most-successful Marxist School ended with the 200 comrades singing the Internationale.
Socialist Inquilab Zindabad!