Opportunism in name of marxism

Due to Unbroken relationship of Politics and literature in class society partiality of literati may be seen in their writings. Consciously or advertently a poet represents the interests of either one or other class. Marxism, first time in history, developed the theory of ‘Art for Society’ while the supporters of status quo in society held up the dogma of ‘Art for Art’. In the conflict between these theories, Marxists never missed any opportunity to expose the protagonists of the later theory: but in Sub-Continent especially in Pakistan the same task could not be carried out in proper way because of ruthless attacks by the state machinery on Marxism. Every government in Pakistan extended its full support not only to the right wing religious intellectuals but also produced and projected such writers as leftist poets or literary persons who had no affiliation with the theory of Marxism or with the working class. These elements in the name of revolution oiled the wheels to crush the working class movements as well as to save the enormous interests of the dominated class and imperialist forces. Consequently ‘art representing the society’ was taken over by the followers of ‘art for art’. Those for whom Socialism and Revolution were their fashion items likewise their jeans, dresses, hair style or smoking, became the monopolist of art or literature for society. These monopolists in addition to obtaining monetary advantages got their relatives etc posted on key positions. Unofficial status of sacredness was endowed to them by the governments and critique was banned accordingly despite this fact that most of them even deserved no literary criticism. However illusory practice of ruling elite requires response to expose hidden face of certain elements.

Similar is the case of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who even was not able to be compared with the giants of Urdu revolutionary literature especially in poetry such as Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Kaify Azami, Majrooh, Gulzar and Habib Jalib. But recently on his centenary, he was portrayed as Marxist revolutionary poet of Urdu by the dominated class in Pakistan: a poet who neither remained the poet of working masses nor his poetry concerned with the working classes. There always arises a question in regard of ‘poetry for the society’ that where the poet is being listened? Faiz is not listened in trade union sessions, in huts nor in working places but is listened in the gatherings of civilian and military bureaucrats, bourgeoisie, landlords, businessmen and conservative petty bourgeoisie, where awkward voices sing Faiz’s poetry. Faiz himself was a poet of similar and belonged to same class. Prior to discuss his status as ‘socialist poet’ let us assess his self-styled political achievements.

Marx once wrote that the philosophers only interpreted the world in different ways but the real task is to change the same. How much greater ideological one may be, how much books one may had read but if he is not playing his role in struggle to change the world he can never be a Marxist. Lenin emphasized that a person far-flung from practice must cease reading and thinking.

Faiz’s joining of British Indian Army (B.I.A) is memorized by his admirers an act to defend Soviet Union against Nazi Germany.

However circumstances and facts narrate a different story. Joining an imperialist army to defend the workers of Soviet Union is beyond a joke. Faiz could join Soviet Red Army to defend Soviet Union but he joined B.I.A at a time when a revolutionary movement was erupting across India for which British government was in need of new military recruitments. B.I.A was brought into play to crush revolutionary uprising in India and to protect the imperialist regime. In Jalianwala Bagh hundreds of Indians were killed by the same army: Bhagat Singh and other comrades were martyred by British Government in India. All these acts of B.I.A caused irreparable loss to Soviet Union and International Socialist Movement.

Faiz is also considered as a ‘hero’ of Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case (R.C.C) planned by military generals to topple the civilian government: though main characters of the conspiracy are not discussed. What was the real situation?

Socialism negates all kinds of conspiracies and completely trusts upon the power of masses. RC was allegedly prepared by generals who were unhappy with cease fire in Kashmir by the government of Pakistan considering the government’s step as betrayal   with Kashmir, Pakistan, Army and Tribesmen. Connection of communist party with the ultra rightist generals against a democratic civilian government always remained a mystery. Military operation in Kashmir is considered as an ‘idiotic decision’ of the establishment: an adventure which could destroy the peoples of India and Pakistan and might elevate religious extremism in region. Such kind of practice of Sajad Zahir[1] and Faiz is equivalent to support of today’s religious extremism lead by Gen (retired) Hameed Gul or Gen (ret) Aslam Beg. It is also said that RCC was a preplanned drama to take harsh steps against the working class movements regarding which leaders of Communist Party including Faiz were well aware. Putting communist members of RCC side by side with ‘Anirudha’ of ‘Sagina'[2] we may find former more outrageous. Major Ishaq, one the members of the conspiracy who later on founded a socialist party,[3] was proud to be a ‘Major’ till his death. It is pertinent to mention here that most of the leftists were pro China, a country which always supported Martial Law regimes in Pakistan against the people of Pakistan. Notwithstanding being a member of conspiracy of high treason Faiz remained behind bars only for four years for which he self praised in his poetry and claimed himself prime leftist poetic intellectual of Pakistan. If ‘spending time in’ prison is an criteria for prominence then thousand of political workers in Pakistan, who either lost their lives or their homes, professions, sources of earnings and best era of their lives i.e. youth for political ideology but never compromised, should be considered greater than Faiz: I am unable to find a single seminar, TV channel program or even an omni list of those who sacrificed for revolution. It is strange that the accused of treason (Faiz) spent only four years in prison while accused of trade union activity (Hassan Nasir[4]) was martyred in Royal Fort Lahore.

In fact artificiality, hypocrisy and romantic idealism of Pakistani middle class strengthen the false pretences and heroism projected by the state. For upper middle class it was the source of cheeriness while for lower middle class a way to escape from their problems and difficulties for some moments: in such kind of environment poetry of Faiz grew up. (Afsan Chaudhry of Bangladesh labeled Faiz as more than middle class person)

Faiz lacked solid vision towards the society and commitment to write. Seldom had he tried to write salute to love, seldom had he denied love, seldom had he desired to write epic, seldom elegance, and seldom drama: seldom children’s literature attracted him. (with a bourgeoisie point of view as Faiz admitted in his letter that he wished due to non availability of same in market). For Faiz his poetry was not his aim but a job just like of a clerk in an office who despite his displeasure has to study the files and to write accordingly: Faiz made such admission in his following verse,

Hum Jeetey Ji Masroof Rahe

Kuch Ishq Kiya Kuch Kaam Kiya

(I remained busy in my life

Seldom have I loved and seldom have I worked)

It is matters of consideration whether a person can be a revolutionary who even does not love his task? Then why media elevated Faiz? A private TV channel explained that Faiz could not give time to his children.[5] If a father is too great to be broadcasted on electronic media for the reason that he could not give time to his children then why hundreds of thousands are not invited on TV who spent their whole lives in struggle and could not give time to their children. Thousands of workers, working in mills situated at Lahore-Shikhupura Road, Shahdra-Wazirabad Road, in SITE Karachi, Hub, Rahimyar Khan, Faisalabad, Kotlakhpat, when leave their houses early in the morning and when they return home at late night they find their children sleeping: thousand of fathers of Swat spend years far away from their homes working in coal mines near Quetta: dozens died in mines and when their funeral reached their villages their children hardly identifed their faces. Thousand Pakhtoons because of source of earnings had to live in Karachi or in Lahore for years. Thousand of lower middle class in Pakistan lost their best time of life in struggle. The questions arise whether the status of Faiz as father was extraordinary and peculiar to be discussed on electronic and print media? Dose it not express the alienation of Faiz and of his class from society?

Let us scrutinize his poetry and his stand for.

Delusion that Faiz belonged to school of thought representing ‘Art for Society’ requires correction.

His mother language and the language of the society where he lived was Punjabi but we find hardly some poems in the same language otherwise his entire poetry is in Urdu language, the official one of Pakistan but not the mother tongue of any nation prevailing in the Federation. The upper class society, to which Faiz himself belonged, was in practice to use Urdu as domestic language to keep themselves above from the low caste[6] working people. The same superior and ruling elite of Punjab with the collaboration of Urdu speaking bourgeoisie of Karachi[7] deliberately inserted Persian and Arabic words in Urdu in order to keep their dominance, to improve Islamic Extremism in society for their own vested imperialist interests and to build artificial relationship with so-called Muslim world (Middle East Countries).

Faiz wrote his poetry in the same ‘official’ Urdu, completely alienated from the downtrodden masses of his society. “Mehmal-e-Khuwab” “Hala-e-Aghosh” “Mashkboo”, “Sabaa”, “Lilla Alhamd Ba Anjam Dil Dil Zadgaan Kalma Shukr Banam Labe-eSheereen Dehnan”, “Sarwari” “Mushk Nashtr Almaas”, “Sarmast Shaakhsaar Do Neem”, Rasoo Sare Bazar”, Sehat e Daman”, Gardishe LailoNahar”, :Safeenae Ghame Dil” and “Taabe Gran Bari” are some of the many words and phrases used by Faiz in his poetry which even are not available in ordinary Urdu dictionary.

Graving his personal feelings & emotions in poetry is another point in support of arguments that Faiz belonged to school of thought representing ‘Art for Art’ but not ‘Art for Society’. His culture, civilization, personal feelings, emotions, desires, love, liking and disliking developed in upper class environment completely at odds with the working masses of Pakistan: so the same can not be the representative of the feelings, emotions and requirements of the people at large. Faiz’s entire poetry revolves around his personal feelings and emotions in which self praising is also apparent as he writes:

“Hum Parwarish Loh wa Qalam Karte Rahen Ge

Jo Dil Pe Guzri Hai Woh Raqam Karte Rahen Ge.”

(I shall keep bringing up plank and pen on

I shall keep writing up whatever my heart feels)

What were his feelings?

At a time when the country was under worst kind of Martial Law, poverty and unemployment were on their peaks, torture upon political workers could be witnessed on roads and poor people were not able to run their lives then Faiz desired to run the business of his paradise:

Gullon Men Rang Bhare Bad-e-Nau Bahar Chale

Chale Bhi Aao Ke Gulshan Ka Karobar Chale.”

(Breeze of spring is filling colors in flowers

Let you come to run the business of paradise)

Romantic poet of elite class being a lily livered was not able to tolerate the troubles of a revolution. He even could not be considered a so-called socialist as his single poem in Urdu “Ham Bhi Dekhen Ge” (We shall watch) can not be said a socialist one but a wish for an Islamic idealism as he after the verse Jab TajUchale Jain Ge: Jab Takht Giray Jain Ge” hopes for rule of God:

“Bus Naam Rahe Ga Allah Ka”

(There would be rule of Allah all over the world)

I can not understand how such kind of poem could be recited by Hindu agricultural Labour of Sind,[8] Sikh farmer of Punjab[9], revolutionary guerilla of South America, Proletariat of India, Communists of Russia, Castro of Cuba or Ted Grant of Britain in an ideological meeting! In fact Faiz wrote his so-called revolutionary poem under the impression of and limitations provided by the ‘Objective Resolution'[10] passed by the early Islamic establishment of Pakistan according to which it was necessary for a workers to be a ‘Pakistani Muslim  Worker’. Bhutto[11]’s dogma of Islamic Socialism can be witnessed in the above cited poem.

The “Anthem of a Punjabi farmer” written by Faiz in Punjabi language is a poetic composition based upon the anthem of Communist International written by Eugene Pottier, a fighter of Paris Commune 1871.

Faiz’s views towards resistance differentiate him from genuine Marxists. Resistance is the essence of Marxism distinguishing it from all other ideologies or theories. Theory of Historical Materialism revolves around resistance as revolution is the name of organized resistance. But Faiz was an ardent opponent of resistance: He openly criticized poets and men of letters because of their writings inspired by agitation. He asked workers and other oppressed classes to not to resist but to request for redress of their grievances. In fact he teaches to bear up exploitation, injustice, cruelty and corruption. He was advocate of begging and such moral and literary impotence is evident in his following verse:

“Ek Tarz-eTaghaful Hai So Woh Unko Mubarak

Ek Arz-eTamna Hai So Hum Karte Rahen Gai.”

(Rulers are in habit to ignore as they may do

But I shall keep my begging on)

Internationalism is the fundamental principle of Marxism. We concern not with the nationality of the individuals in political struggle but a Marxist must, a part form his nationality, should hold up movement of oppressed nations: he should be opponent of wars of ruling classes and every kind of state violence against masses.

As far as Faiz concerned, in 1972 he admitted that he had written an anthem during the war of 1965 between Pakistan and India as the war for Faiz was a question of security of the ‘nation’. Faiz did not raise voice against United State’s imperialist interference in Pakistan especially on the occasion of U-2 incident and joining of CETO and CENTO by Pakistani authorities to make the people of Pakistan direct subservient of US imperialism. None can find Faiz agitating against Imperialist forces in his poetry excluding his support to Yasir Arfat, a man who had been dumped in history: the reason is the hostility of ruling establishment of Pakistan towards Israel to flatter Arab’s dictators and emperors.

The most regrettable and shameful attitude adopted by Faiz was towards mass execution in Bengal in 1971 in the hands of Pakistani forces and wolves of Jamat-e-Islami (an unofficial ‘B’ team of Pakistani establishment).

Afsan Chaudhry (writer) of Bangladesh complains that Faiz remained silent upon the shocking bloodbath. The books of Faiz explain his calmness: due to excited activities on the event of silver jubilee of Pakistan, Faiz gave preference to watching of six films, produced by Pakistani state Television, upon protest against massacre of Bengalis. Promotion of artificial, rotten and decayed culture of ruling elite was more important then any political activity, that is why he was appointed as chairman of National Arts Council in 1972 and in 1974, when he visited Bangladesh in official capacity as an advisor of Premier of Pakistan, Bengali analysts found him representing slaughterers of more than Three Million Bengalis. Neither Faiz neither condemned butchery nor could show his repentance upon the same but in a very shameful manner wrote the following verses coming home in Pakistan:

“Hum Ke There Ajnabi Itni Mulaqaaton Ke Baad

Phir Banen Ge Aashna Kitni Madaraton Ke Baad

Kab Nazar Aaye Gi Be Dagh Sabze Ki Bahar

Khoon Ke Dhabe Dhulain Ge Kitni Barsaton Ke Baad”

(After a long association we have become strangers

Can’t tell when we will be friends again

Can’t tell when will see wound less greenery

Can’t tell after how many rains marks of bloodshed would be removed)

The last verse of his poem

“Un Kahi Reh Gayee woh Baat Sab Baton ke Baad” (could not speak following all other speeches) shows his lack of moral courage and impotency even to repentance upon bloodshed. Such kind of cowardice is evident from the very beginning. Faiz remained silent upon revolutionary movement across India in 1940s, upon famine in Bengal in 1946, upon execution of great revolutionary Bhagat Singh[12], upon massacre of Jalianwal Bagh[13] in Punjab, upon massacre at time of partition of India and upon massacre in Bhabhrra[14] in 1948. In 70s Faiz was part of Bhuttu’s government which launched military operation in Baluchistan: he avoided to write in support of Afghan Saur revolution1978[15].

For Lenin Peace Prize part, the same was not given by Lenin himself but it was Soviet bureaucracy who used to support even counter revolutionaries forces all over the world for instance Gaddafi, Jamal Nasir, Saddam Hussain and Hafiz-ul-Asad.

The point at issue is not to condemn a man of middle class but to defend Marxism. There are many individuals who got and still get advantages for themselves and for their families. But it is obligatory to clear that Marxism has no connection with hollow revolutionaries, absurd liberalism, artificial and wretched culture of ruling elite, middle class idealism, chauvinist nationalism, narrow minded patriotism and with religious extremism which are just like different chapters of same book pertaining different ways to deceive people. Marxism teaches to fight against all these evils. Presuming that ruling elite of a country, imperialist forces and transnational companies do not support above cited tendencies amounts to live in the paradise of fool. As the religious elements are requirement of ‘free’ Britain and ‘secular’ India so the religious extremist establishment of Pakistan has been sponsoring liberals and puppet revolutionaries for decades to reduce their self made frustration as well as to render the people in their control.

In the last I would like to add that Marxist revolutionaries always received allegations of being un-civilized leveled by bourgeoisie: the same may be the position of the text in hand as my words might be in bad odour with opportunist middle class of the country. But truth does not require specific way of description. It is an English saying that ‘Coniine must be coniine but not sugar coated’.

[1] Self styled leader of Communist Party of Pakistan

[2] Indian film

[3]Mazdoor Kisan Party

[4] Famous Communist activist who even left his wealthy family for his political cause

[5] GEO TV: Faiz centenary Program February 2011

[6] Caste system based on hereditary of profession exists in India and in Pakistan

[7] Migrants from India in 1947 who settled in Karachi

[8] Province of Pakistan

[9] Province of Pakistan

[10] In objective resolution Islam had been declared as supreme law of Pakistan in 1949

[11] Zulfiqar ali Bhuttoo: assassinated premier of Pakistan

[12] Indian great revolutionary, executed by British imperialist government

[13] British forces surrounded a park and open indiscriminate fire upon audience of a political meeting

[14] Pakistan forces, surrounded and open indiscriminate fire upon audience of meeting organized by Afghan nationalist forces

[15] Afghan Socialist Revolution leaded by PDPA



Source by Nusrat Afhani

Fahad Hameed

Fahad Hashmi is one of the known Software Engineer and blogger likes to blog about design resources. He is passionate about collecting the awe-inspiring design tools, to help designers.He blogs only for Designers & Photographers.

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