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Almost Communist: Fantasizing a Politics of Left in Gilgit-Baltistan

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Irfan Kazmi

The chaotic 20th century accounted for an unparalleled wave of bloody carnages; statistics outrageously show that about 100 million people were lynched on the ideas of Class-Struggle or Class-Antagonism just under Lenin and Stalin, for many scholars, there was no difference between Nazism and Communism in practice. These figures are mostly and expectedly from anti-Marxist sources, but Hannah Arendt in the Origins of Totalitarianism and Umberto Eco in Ur-Fascism have had rigorously written against Stalinism and mentioned these figures. Yet, there is the tremendous possibility of prejudice and exaggeration.

Radical Marxists, presently, don’t want to revisit the authoritarian tendencies of the USSR under Stalin – obviously, Marxism cannot be accounted for the wrongdoings of some leaders. Nevertheless, Socialism still has an unprecedented magnetic attraction transcending space and time. German by birth, Marxism, like a liquidizing torrent, has now a global appeal, especially in the Global South just because of relentlessly proliferating inequality in economic, social, and ultimately political realms, and after disrupting Covid-19, market determinism has pushed working classes to the dens of abysmal poverty.

Just like other countries in the Third World, Pakistan is struggling, economically dependent on neoliberal institutions and neocolonial states for its ontological existence. The bail-out packages directly dogmatize the definition of a state. Anyway, the ambiguity in the political status of Gilgit-Baltistan has been a catalyst to political and economic alienation of the natives, and there is sheer pessimism about any future positive maneuvering to mainstream the area with the country or otherwise.

Although the nonexistence of industrial capitalism – in a classical way – negates the purpose of genesis, the surging corporate tourism and vicious tightening of indoor financial and political exploitations tip-off uncertain futures. Historical Recession is one of the Ten Commandments of postmodernists, perhaps the acute shortage of political philosophy in this region would lead to borrowing Socialism – there has never been an ideology more comprehensively encompassing the diversity, revolutionary, and evolutionary than Marxism – and then it would be a huge surprise to End of History.

Thus, this article strives to imagine unseen and utopian ideas in this region to anticipate probable surprises by History even though being a hotspot spanning from international to domestic interests, the meager status quo of Gilgit-Baltistan is immensely hard to maneuver with. And the future of GB is totally contingent on International geopolitical hanging interests. Thus, not the native forces but an international massive event might make revisionist progress in these mountains.

Guises of Capitalism have been prevalent and subtle simultaneously, we have to accept again that in a truly nihilistic world, Capitalism is really the ‘End of History,’ however; if the assumptions are otherwise then it is indispensable thinking about the future. Firstly, I would like to find out the genesis of Communism and see if it is suitable in Gilgit-Baltistan – perhaps this is the only alternative to the current world ‘order.’ And then Social Democracy or Egalitarianism, the synthesis of Socialism and Capitalism, which has a novel appeal in the country after mutated populism to check its compatibility.

Latin America, Asia, and Africa were loci of Marx’s ideas for decolonization. Contrastingly, the onset of class struggle was the aftermath of rapid industrial Capitalism, these regions had little experience in industrialization but revolutionaries deemed imperialism as domestic class antagonism. Gilgit-Baltistan is, unfortunately, the prey of domestic colonialism. International or indoor exploitations are prevalent in nuisance masquerades of detoxification, quasi-democracy, expropriating the natives, and passive attempts to craft a mythical identity.

The post-mature arrival of globalization has plunged headlong poverty, nevertheless, before that, people were, so to speak, living solely for basic survival necessities. Renaissance period initiated in the 1970s both economically and intellectually. People are now at the peak of political consciousness, Marx’s Dialectical Materialism proved to be relatable prepositions. Baba Jan’s abrupt appearance of his Left politics has triggered youth to be more conscious about communitarian complexities. Ehsan Ali Advocate and other veteran activists are still organized to make a change but Baba Jan made the headlines by extreme impatience of the state. The arrival of a new government and its rhetoric have appealed massively to both naïve minds and opportunists. The latter would not cease to exist, and the former would soon be out of false consciousness. Shortage of political ideas for change, as sooner or later the masses will be atomized to demand or be radicalized, either for political justice or new ideas, these inevitable circumstances will obviously lead clutching to the Socialist vocabulary.

Equality or classlessness is a core theme of Socialism, Communism is rather ultimate statelessness. In GB, economically people are almost sharing the same financial status resulting in a priori or primitive socialism. Nonetheless, Concessions – leasing land to nonnatives – is institutionalizing financial exploitations and local people benefitting immensely from the lands in suitable environs to utilize for tourism purposes will, in the long run, create classes. The staggering populations and ad hoc tourism is breeding imminent claustrophobia. 3% of land suitable for agriculture is turning insidiously into colonies, the pastures and meadows are increasingly seized by mafias. These all indicators are alarming inevitable social turmoil; tourism will effectively be damaged and wealth concentrated in hands of few locals and nonnatives. In the middle of this lurking chaos, there will be an opportunity for revolutionary changes.

The old rhetoric to attract adult franchises by material development is becoming a logical fallacy. Youth are demanding mainstreaming with the country or implementation of provisions ushered in by UNCIP in the 50s. Politics is changing and so do the agendas and manifestos. Religious parties are adopting secular means and manifestos for success at the polls but space for them to even attract the populace is tightening.[1]  New voters, as mentioned, are anticipating change brought about by federal parties, especially the newest, but their imminent coalition government won’t change anything as the real powers wield out of the barrel of a gun or are covert. Thus, this naive optimism will change into pessimism staring blankly into the future; the room for ‘neo’ theories would have a leap.

The success of Social Democracy is contingent on demographics, resources, and history. The Nordic countries have complementary and unique environs compatible with this model. Unfortunately, in Gilgit-Baltistan, there are no petroleum resources to complement the economy for the maximization of social packages. The only way to do it is the common ownership of the tourism industry. Much would have been achieved if the state rather than creeping on the lands had helped locals to build infrastructure and broaden the tourism spots.

Now, the only way to save this region from the wrenched economy is common ownership. Locals have not and of course would not passively extend the honor to the state because of acute trust issues. The local strong decentralized state would be a suitable institution just to regulate the economy and abolish private interest. As the community is a strong institution in scattered valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan, local welfare organizations with legislative powers can run the local businesses for the people specific to the area.

Uncertainty is prevalent but politics is in a state of metamorphoses. Economics is undeniably vital nevertheless politics and lending the natural rights to a state must be even more important businesses. Consensus and legitimacy must never be on the tables of compromise in the name of national ‘security and ‘sovereignty.’ The bleak epoch is having a synthesis; this is the right time for demanding – as Gradualism has never been historically a feasible approach – or otherwise, social, economic and political justice.

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Irfan Kazmi studies politics and sociology at Forman Christian College Lahore. Eternally fascinated about the national question of Gilgit-Baltistan, writing has been his way of thinking and resistance. He aspires to cover themes like poverty, patriarchy, absurdism, and politics.

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