I then met Zahid Bhai, a senior member of the organization at Umair, another comrade’s place. He was very engaging and always ended up making good points related to the way the party should work. I thought of him as basically a bridge of the old and new left in this party. He also hosts meetings and events. Afterwards, I went to his place for an interview and it went quite normal and to the point. Nothing excited or exceptional happened.
He is a graduate from the Persian Department, GC University Lahore and was working as a Research Assistant in the Information Technology University, Lahore. He is also working with the People’s Solidarity Forum, a left-leaning forum that intends to work on climate issue, women empowerment, student and worker unionization, etc. He told that the Progressive Students’ Collective is currently a major project the forum is working on, which is an independent organization for student activism.
Zahid talked critically about the historical evolution the left had to go through and what it must do to revive its political relevance. He thought that the fall of Soviet Union gives us an impetus to rationalize the causes of the failure of the left. Today, the left must focus on the potential and principles that can create a newer kind of politics. The main question for Pakistan’s left is how it intends to become relevant with the people again. The conflicts of the past, of Stalinists, Trotskyists, Maoist are not of fundamental importance, and the problems of a common man must be prioritized. He quoted Zizek and said that the rise of fascism today finds its roots in the lack of left’s global strength. I asked him how he thought the left can revive itself.
“I think the main challenge is how you do your class struggle. We must connect all type of classes. Water is getting privatize, taxes are increasing, people are getting dispossessed from their houses. The earliest face of capitalism was exactly like this. The problem of informal labor, movement from rural to urban areas, issues of students and workers should all be catered under one cause, and we are trying to do it. This task demands a very dynamic type of organization. Its appearance should be open, center should be strong, it should be internally disciplined, and it should be dialectical in every way,” he said. He thought that the ultimate goal is still communism, but we must fight for the destruction of class, to reclaim the right to be seen and thought as a human, to tackle with environmental hazards, to reject male dominance. He also thought that we can only run such a society if there is a government who firmly believes in these ideals. He thought that the reasons behind the failure of the old left are their insecurity and reluctance to find for new ideas after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its inability to fight with its factionism, and its incapability to connect with the masses and eradicate the intoxication of the old Soviet Union dreams. Whoever will think beyond these issues will initiate a new politics. Army oppression, patriarchy, academic and factory issues will only be sorted out once we get out of our individual issues and build a culture of the left. Such a politics would be democratic and open ended. “We are not going to the masses to teach them something, we are going to them to learn and contribute. Every student is depoliticized which is unacceptable. You’re in this society and can’t back off from politics, no matter what!” he said.