Viewpoint Articles

‘Can the Left Become Relevant to Islamic Pakistan?’Some Reflections 

Elegy for a comrade who lost his way A review of Jamal Naqvi’s biography 

This article is review of Jamal Naqvi’s book Leaving the Left Behind published in Karachi. The article  includes a section entitled ‘Is Capitalism a Fair and Just System?’ Two standpoints on this question, that of the orthodox economic theory and that of Marx, are discussed.

 

Characterising the Pakistani State

This article offers some observations on the character of the  Pakistani state. A fundamental point in any discussion of the nature of the Pakistani state must be the fact that Pakistan was an artificial country, hastily put together in 1947 as part of the subcontinent-wide settlement reached between the British and the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. The principal task of the Pakistani leadership was to create a nation-state. How they proceeded to do this is the subject of this article.

 

Was the Russian Revolution a Marxist Revolution?

The conclusion arrived at is that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was not a Marxist revolution as it  did not develop according to the theory of social change that Marx had outlined in several of his writings. It was a communist revolution in the sense that it  was carried out by a communist party (Bolsheviks) that derived its inspiration from the teachings of Marx, though it departed from them or reinterpreted them in the light of the situation in which it found itself.  The article outlines Marx’s materialist approach to understanding historical development.  

We are poor because they are Rich

 This article discusses the view that the Europeans developed and became  rich because they  exploited other parts of  the  world. Without deny the fact of exploitation, the article presents the relationship between the West and the East and the South in terms of the relationship between emerging capitalism and pre-capitalist societies.  

How Capitalism Developed in Western Europe

This paper continues the discussion of the preceding article. It discusses the question as to why capitalist and modern development first appeared in Europe and not elsewhere; what were the   unique circumstances that  enabled Europe to nurture capitalism? 

What is Wrong with the Principle of Individualism – Mrs Thatcher’s Viewpoint?

Is there such a thing as ‘society’? Or, simply individuals and families, as Mrs Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, claimed. This article discusses two opposing views on this question. The first, that I refer to as the principle of individualism (Mrs Thatcher’s), and the other, that of Marx (who following Hegel) according to which society is nothing but the sum of connections and relationships in which individuals find themselves. The principle of individualism underlies the Right-Wing  ideology that gives primacy  to impersonal markets. 

Globalisation – Is Marx Still Relevant? 

This is a comment on the contention of a recently published life of Karl Marx which claimed that Marx was a figure of the past whose ideas had not relevance to the present-day capitalism. The article challenges this claim. It focuses on two related insights provided by Marx that provide an invaluable guide to understand contemporary capitalism. These are the concept of the ‘reserve army of labour’ and the inherent tendency of capitalism to expand. These insights arise from the manner in which Marx conceptualises capitalism.

 The Genesis and Relevance of Marx’s Thought 

(Published in viewpointonline.net no. 168, 13 September 2013)

This article continues the discussion of the preceding article.  It traces the origin of Marx’s thought in his 1843 critique of Hegel’s political philosophy. Marx did not approach the issues raised in Hegel’s theory of the state in a disinterested fashion, seeking some abstract truth. He approached it with a high degree of social commitment – to change with world, he approached it from the perspective of the dispossessed who were suffering under the domination of the rich and the powerful. 

Was Marx a 100% materialist? 

(Published  in viewpointonline.net no. 174, 25 October 2013)

According to 100% materialism our mind responds passively  to material  conditions of production; the ‘superstructure’ – our culture, politics, ways of thinking – are essentially determined by material conditions, ‘the economic base’, and adjusting passively  to changes in the latter. This interpretation of Marx is challenged on the basis of what Marx said in his first ‘thesis’ on Feuerbach.  The human agency has a degree of autonomy relative to the economic base.

Marx’s Theory of the State: a Discussion 

(Published in viewpointonline.net, issue no. 191, March 7, 2014)

Sometime back the Viewpointonline.net published interviews with four commentators on the subject of the character of the Pakistani state.  One of the questions asked related to Marx’s theory of the state. I found the answers to this particular question unsatisfactory in scope. I thought the subject needed more extensive treatment hence this article.