Archive for Revolution

Naghma-e-Zakhm-e-Dil: Songs of the Wounded Hearts

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism, Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by Umer

by Shahram Azhar

Many people who know little or nothing about Laal’s evolution question the practicality of building socio-political movements through music and poetry. Too obviously, there is some truth to this skepticism; music, in its essence is a language constructed on notes and percussion. Revolutionary movements on the contrary are political-economic-social movements that are led by oppressed classes to overthrow a system of exploitation. However, revolutionary movements are not chaotic movements built in days or even months. Revolutionary science teaches us that a protracted process of ideological struggle precedes revolutionary movements—in the words of the greatest revolutionary of the past century, Vladimir Lenin: “Without revolutionary theory, there will be no revolutionary movement”.

In every epoch the ruling classes befuddle the minds of the oppressed classes by systematically propounding and enforcing ideas that seek to maintain the balance of class forces intact. In order to reproduce their class hegemony on a continuous basis they must convince the broadest sections of the masses that the status quo is in the best interests of the oppressed classes as well. This, the ruling classes achieve by monopolizing the means of propaganda: schools, religious seminaries, media, art and academic inquiry, in other words all the instruments of mass knowledge are directly or indirectly controlled by the ruling classes. It is through these institutions that the oppressor convinces the oppressed that the current system of production and distribution is sane, just and stable. Once that has been achieved the ruling classes are said to have established their ideological hegemony over all other classes. The consolidation of this ideological hegemony exhibits itself most vociferously in official discourse as an overarching objective of the educational, literary and cultural pursuits of the ruling classes. Marx said:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this In Its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.”

It is precisely here that the role of revolutionary intellectuals and artists acquires primary importance: the destruction of the power of the ruling class first and foremost assumes the destruction of its sources of power. Now, power itself can be divided into various forms. The ruling class does not rule through force alone. It rules because it has convinced the oppressed segments of society that it deserves to rule. X cannot be a slave-master to Y, if Y is no longer willing to accept X as his slave-master. If Y must no longer accept X as his slave-master, Y must first be convinced that he too has the intellectual and physical abilities to become the ruler.

Therefore, in order to defy the domination of the ruling bloc, oppressed classes and their ideologues must challenge the ideas upon which their power rests. Too obviously in every society, revolutionaries must possess the ability to creatively apply the general science of revolutions to the objective, concrete situation of their society. Revolutionaries must find a way to propagate their ideas in a manner that pushes the broadest sections of the masses towards revolutionary action. Revolutions are built when a significant proportion of the population is convinced that the ruling system of oppression and exploitation must be torn asunder. Revolutions are built when the forces of love and humanity conquer the forces of hatred and barbarity. Revolutions are made when millions upon millions are united by their wounds against a common enemy.

In Asiatic (i.e., where the Asiatic Mode of Production prevailed) societies, from Arabia to India, poetry and music have played an extremely important role in forming the psychological make-up of society. Let us take the most familiar example. In ancient Arabia, competing tribes had poets and musicians as their ideologues. Poets (who were also musicians) were warriors, propagandists and strategists and led their armies from the front.

In colonial India the poetry of Nandlal Noorpuri and Ram Prashad Bismil became immortalized in their death: Sarfaroshi key tamanna abb hamaray dil main hai (The desire for sacrifice is now in our hearts). Faiz Ahmed Faiz, in his book Mah-o-Saal-e-Aashnai remembers this time as the formative phase of his life as a revolutionary and says that “as a result of this movement there was a significant change in the nature of national protests. Now, the slogans of Swaraj and Band-e-Matram had been replaced by the slogan of Inquilab Zindabad! (Long Live the Revolution!) and people sang “Sarfaroshi key tamanna abb hamaray dil main hai” instead of “Saaray jahan say acha Hindustan Hamara” (Better than the entire world, is our Hindustan).

In the Punjab the poetry of Ajit Singh Sikka inspired the peasantry to revolt against the local landlords. His poem “Pagri Sambhal, Jatta Pagri Sambhal” (Hold you turban, Jut,  hold your turban) united the peasantry across the Chenab and the Ravi and gave birth to one of the greatest revolutionary leaders from the sub-continent: Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, who formed the Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS) and later the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army with the explicit aim of creating a socialist republic. One of the principal methods of ideological propagation that the NBS employed was poetry recitation and music. In fact, Bhagat Singh and his comrades continue to resonate in popular culture with the song that they sang to the gallows: “Mera rang day basanti chola, maayay, mera rang day basanti chola” (Dye my robe the colour of spring, mother, dye my robe the colour of spring).

These poets and revolutionaries in turn, inspired a new breed of revolutionary poets and poetesses. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Habib Jalib and Amreeta Preetam first, and later Ahmed Faraz and Jaun Eliya continued to hold aloft the banner of purposive art and poetry. The power and strength of their ideas can be seen through the fear that these immortal revolutionaries instilled in the hearts of military dictators, capitalists and jaageerdars. These fearless freedom fighters would stop at nothing less than the complete abolition of exploitation and injustices. In a time when the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq had banned the publication of anti-dictatorship material, poetry recitals became an extremely important method of defiance. The poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib was banned from newspapers and declared illegal. Yet, it continued to inspire millions upon millions of workers and peasants towards rebellion.

In his poem, “Hum jo taareek rahon main maaray gayay” (We, who were slain in unlit pathways), Faiz declared:

“Qatl gaahon say chun kar hamaray ala

Aur niklaingay ushaaq k qaafilay”

(Picking up our flags from these grounds

will march forth more caravans of your lovers)

And so it is with Laal: As individuals who seek to build a socialist revolution in Pakistan we have decided to re-lift the flags of our heroes. As long as there is oppression and injustice in our land, we will fight. As long as there are those who live through the labor of others in comfort and luxury, we will fight. As long as there are those who consider themselves the masters of the universe and all its wealth, we will fight.

Our poetry and music is for all the wounded hearts and the oppressed millions who continue to live in conditions of bondage and slavery. In the words of Jalib:

Jo sadaaayain sun raha hoon

mujhay bus unnhey ka ghum hai

Tumhain shair key pari hai

Mujhay aadmi ka ghum hai

(The calls that I hear

Only these worry my soul

You are concerned about the poet

I am worried about humanity)

Shahram Azhar is the lead vocalist of the musical band Laal (the Reds) and a member of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party (CMKP) of Pakistan.

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Documentary: Red Oil

Posted in International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Umer

An inside look at the financial engine behind Cavez’s socialist government: The film follows the dramatic ups and downs of Venezuela’s state oil company as Chavez takes control with the aim of using its profits to further socialistic goals.

Ashfaqulla Khan

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2008 by Umer

Bahadur ke mut ek baar hoti hai

Buzdil har roz sau baar marta hai

– Ashfaqulla Khan

Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged on 19th December, 1927. Today, 19th December, 2008, is his 81st death anniversary.

Ashfaqulla Khan was born on October 22, 1900 in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was the youngest of the six children of Shafiqur Rahman and Mazharunissa. His father worked in the police department.

Ashfaqulla was school student when Mahatma Gandhi called for the Non-Cooperation Movement. This had a great influence on him and shaped him to become a freedom fighter. He was labeled as a terrorist by the British Government for his active participation in the train robbery at Kakori.

After the Chauri Chaura incident, Mahatma Gandhi’s withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement left the youth of India very much depressed. Ashfaqulla was one of them. He felt the urge to free India as soon as possible and joined the extremists.

He made friendship with Ram Prasad Bismil who was a famous revolutionary of Shahjahanpur and a member of the Arya Samaj. In spite of their differences of faith, their common objective to free India from the shackles of the British rule.

A meeting was organized by the revolutionaries on August 8, 1925 in Shahjahanpur. They decided to rob the Government treasury carried in the train to buy arms. So on August 9, 1925 the group of extremists comprising of Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla, Rajendra Lahiri, Thakur Roshan Singh, Sachindra Bakshi, Chandrashekar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy, Banwari Lal, Mukundi Lal, Manmathnath Gupta robbed the train carrying government money in Kakori village. This event is known as the famous Kakori Train Robbery in history.

Ram Prasad Bismil was arrested by the police on the morning of September 26, 1925. Ashfaqulla was still absconding. He went to Banaras from Bihar and started working in an engineering company. He worked there for 10 months. He wanted to go abroad to study engineering which would further help him in the freedom struggle. He went to Delhi for this purpose. He trusted one of his Pathan friends who pretended to help him but in turn handed him over to the police.

Ashfaqulla was confined in the Faizabad jail. His brother Riyasatullah was his counsel who fought the case. The case for the Kakori train decoity ended with the awarding of the death sentence to Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan. The others were given life sentences.

Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged on December 19, 1927.

We honour those who fought for the cause of our freedom from colonial rulers and promise they will never be forgotten.

This message was distributed by the Janbaat Book Distributors, Delhi, at the Pragoti Email List.

When Bengal Cried…

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2008 by Umer

The 1971 war against the Bengali population, paved on the “good intentions” of keeping the Pakistan together, was carried out in a classical genocidal fashion. “Kill three million of them,” President Yahya Khan reportedly said in February of 1971, “and the rest will eat out of our hands”. The genocidal war initiated on 25th of March with the attack on University of Dhaka where hundreds of students were murdered. In the subsequent months, hundreds of thousands of the Bengali people was exterminated, millions of women were raped, and millions were displaced from their homes. History has not forgotten the atrocities committed in the East Bengal by the Pakistani Army and their stooges in Jamaat-e-Islami.

Here, I am presenting the news about a report published by War Crimes Fact Finding Committee (WCFF) that has spent two decades documenting war-time incidents of the 1971 war:
Bangladesh ‘war crimes’ list out

Bangladeshi war veterans and intellectuals have published a list of alleged war criminals from the country’s 1971 independence struggle with Pakistan.

The War Crimes Fact Finding Committee (WCFF) spent two decades documenting war-time incidents and announced the publishing of the list on Friday.

The list has nearly 1,600 names and the publishers are demanding the prosecution of those who are alive.

The WCFF has also proposed the setting up of a post-apartheid South African-style truth and reconciliation commission.

Prominent names

Among the big names on the list are Yahya Khan, president of Pakistan during the 1971 war, General Tikka Khan, under whose command Pakistan launched the military crackdown to crush the liberation movement in Bangladesh and Lieutenant General Ameer Abdullah Khan Niazi, the Pakistani general who surrendered to India in December 1971.

Among the Bangladeshis on the list was Matiur Rahman Nizami, the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and a minister in a coalition government until October 2006.

There are several Jamaat-e-Islami members on the list, but the party has dismissed charges against them.

Tasnim Alam, the party spokesman, said: “Only the country’s highest court can declare anyone a war criminal. No individual, agency or organisation has any such right.”

The group that published the list, however, said around half of those listed were still alive and many were members of Jamaat-e-Islami.

‘Bangladeshi collaborators’

MA Hasan of the WFCC said: “Out of the 1,597 people on the list, 369 were Pakistani army personnel. The rest were Bangladeshi collaborators.”

“We have been investigating for 17 years. The list is on the basis of field-level investigation, mass graves and eyewitness statements,” Hasan added.

“We will give this list to the government and the election commission. Our demand to the government is that those perpetrators should be punished and disqualified from the next election.”

A court in the capital Dhaka has also ordered the police to submit a report on allegations against Nizami.

In a case filed by a former Bangladeshi freedom fighter, Nizami has been accused along with 12 others of helping the Pakistani army plan mass killings in which thousands of villagers died.

However, Jamaat-e-Islami has dismissed the charge as an attempt to “defame” the party.

Since Bangladesh’s emergency government came to power in January 2007, war veterans have led calls for prosecution of war criminals.