Questioning precedents

As I planned to visit Kiev, Ukraine soon, I ended up reading a lot on Socialism and how it impacted the Soviet Union. Yesterday, the readings were entertained again, given I was visiting the Lenin Museum situated here in Tampere, Finland. Fun trivia: this is the only Lenin museum in the world and the very room was the first meeting point between Lenin and Stalin. The museum has recently been revamped to now focus more on how Finland liberated itself from the soviets, detailing and recording the civil war between the whites and the reds amongst other things. 

The visit yesterday brought back the insistence that has been reiterated in these pages many times before. Pakistan needs an ideological revolution. The revolutions of today, those that have now become fashionable, are superficial. Their momentum is triggered and maintained by lacklustre emotions and futile hopes. They seek a quick solution which, as tempting as it may seem, fails to achieve the goals sought in the first place.

 An ideological revolution, on the other hand, is less bloody (although it tends to become one eventually) and more of an evolution of the thought process. Pakistanis need to be forced to study, read and put their biases to scrutiny. Such only happens when one prefers contemplation to chants infused in nationalist fervors. An intellectual class will do much good for Pakistan. 

Although, to be fair, everyone back home aspires to be an intellectual. Sit down in a chai stall, a bus bench or even in mosques, everyone seems to have opinions and are rather forceful in expressing them. Everyone seems to agree that everyone must have opinions and these opinions need not be based on facts. It is the latter that is the obvious problem. The populace lacks the culture and ability to scrutinise discourse and to find meaningful causality amongst two variables. Instead, we dwell in the hopes of a romanticised theory that can explain all of our very complex societal layers. Of course, this is made effortless by drowning deep in propaganda materials and conspiracy theories. Social media is taken as a source of information and intelligent write-up discarded as too difficult. 

All this can and will change when we start letting our brains challenge our preconceived notions and dogmas and bring about an ideological contemplation of what we have embraced as our mores. This, in turn, will also push us to challenge the traditions that keep us blinded to being rooted firmly in habits that continue to hurt us together as a society. 

The birth of PPP is an example of such times. Born as a socialist party, the founding members of the party were ideologues. They wanted to bring a social revolution to the country. As a result, they inspired the local populace to gain liberties at being associated with different ideologies. Most of such individuals I have come across, possess a decent collection of literature and are proud of their mini-libraries. How many of our Kaptaan brigades or the noonies can lay claim to such intellectual capital?  

The ideologies continue to play a big part in politics all over the world event today. Generally, everyone believes that the neo-liberal politico-economic model has failed. It is selfish, unpredictable and painful to the society. So, as solution, variations that cater to the capitalist need of the market have sprung up. Those that seek to balance human welfare, state responsibilities and market freedom in one neatly packed ideology. Of course, none that exist are perfect but, the fact that these ideologies are brought into the very important stage of parliament and debated on, makes the whole process conducive to an evolution of sorts; of the mind and the ideologies. Pakistan must get on the bandwagon too. We too need a green party, a socialist party amongst others to challenge in the parliament what we have taken as polices. This will, in turn, reflect on the populace who would get out of their chained conservative-liberal sides and instead focus on more holistic matters that can help them impact politically. 

 Bhutto, when he gave up on the socialist manifesto, had to face strict criticism from the founding fathers who left him. Yet again, given he had little opposition and given how he was an opportunist, he played with religion with the 2nd amendment, confessing to Abdus Salam that it was a temporary ploy. Such instances happen when there is a weak opposition which lacks the intellectual and ideological capacity to question precedents. Pakistan does not need a Stalin but it does need a Lenin. It does need someone to start asking questions that are obvious but are swept under the carpet due to mere precedents. 

The writer is working as a health economist in a think-tank based in Islamabad.


The writer is a Dissertation Researcher based in Finland. He conducts research on political, regional and societal changes with special focus on religious minorities in Europe.

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