The Bhutto succession dips Democracy in the Gutter.



As I new it would, my piece on Benazir Bhutto has created a choppy sea with friends and comrades reminding me that Miss Bhutto was not all bad and perhaps I should forgive her corruption as they are all at it in Pakistan. One comrade sharply reminded me that I should stick to writing about Ireland and Turkey as I obviously know nothing about Pakistan. He then enforced this fact by reminding me that the political party that Benazir’s father helped create and which she led, the Pakistan Peoples Party was an affiliated to the Second Socialist International. As if that fact alone gives it a clean bill of health and makes it beyond criticism. Thus now that Miss Bhutto has been laid to rest in the ground and we have had sight of her last will and testament, I thought I might in a comradely way confront my critics.

Whilst it is perfectly true that I am no expert on Pakistan nor its politics, I do know a class enemy when I see one; and any criticism I made of Benazir Bhutto was based on that fact alone. Nothing my critics and others have written about her of late has made me change my mind or reassess my opinion. I have never doubted she was a class enemy ever since I first read the statement she made to Tariq Ali, in which she said that she could not afford to be on ‘the wrong side of history’. With this comment alone Benazir not only repulsed me, but she had also forewarned me that she was both ignorant and arrogant; which is a dangerous combination within a politician as it is likely to be a recipe for disaster and so it proved.

If anything events that have taken place since she was murdered have reinforced my belief that politically she was rotten to the core. For what loving mother would have willed the leadership of a major political party to her 19 year old son, and if she was not corrupt why insist that her husband Mr Ten Percent Zardari becomes prince consort to that poor boy whilst also acting as keeper of the party books. For Miss Bhutto could not have been blind to the fact that Mr Zardari was hated and despised both within the PPP and in the nation as a whole. If any one wishes to understand more fully the depth of Miss Bhuttos corruption and links with the US administration, Tariq Ali’s article in the November issue of the London Review of Books might be a good place to start.*

Finally one of the most depressing things about this whole Benazir Bhutto story, apart from the people who have had their lives stolen needlessly in its wake. Is the way the British media have handled this story, for me this was best summed up in the London Guardians headline of today, [31.12.07] ‘My mother said democracy is best revenge–Bhutto son.’ A kid and a crook get anointed, not elected to lead one of Pakistan’s main political party’s and the Guardian with that headline alone dips the word democracy in the gutter.**

*Daughter of the West–Tariq Ali, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n24/ali_01_.html

** http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardian/todays_stories/0,,,00.html

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12 Comments

Filed under benazir-bhutto dynasty, CIA, coruption, Pakistan, SIS failed-state, USA

12 responses to “The Bhutto succession dips Democracy in the Gutter.

  1. El Ch�

    Don’t let the pressure of bourgeois hegemony, as it flows thru the person of these people, sway you from your purpose and your analysis. You are bang-on target here (so to speak).

    It’s precisely the personalizing of political issues, as these people are engaging in it by pressuring you, which weakens ideology and class consciousness — and eventually suborns political movements. This is where the corruption of cronyism and clientilism spring from, with networx of friendships that end up taking all precedence over party, programatic and class concerns. Your friends and komrads do neither you nor the movement any service here by trying to censure your thinking with crass moralizing and blind appeals to loyalty. You are right, and they are simply wrong here.

    The inability of most people to separate the personal from the political — to the point of even making a virtue out of this subjective failing — is one of the hugest failings of liberalism — and of social-democracy.

  2. Anonymous

    To those of you who choose to comment on politics of Pakistan without having much understanding of the country or its political culture:

    That PPP is the largest political party in Pakistan is a myth perpetuated by western media. That it represents the unfortunate and the poor and intends to do something to raise them out of their miserable existence is a deception cultivated over many decades. That it’s leaders are populist visionaries is a blatant lie.

    PPP was formed by the feudal patriarch of the family Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto – and has been run like a family dynasty ever since. Benazir declared herself life-chair of the party and, the latest episode is the coronation of 19 year Bilawal Bhutto.

    The Bhuttos and their like live off the labors of the poor, destitute millions of Pakistan. It is fully their intention to leave the masses in the mire they are in.

    A study in the three PPP governments will reveal a systematic decimation of public institutions by Benazir and her father, Zulfiqar, in the 70’s.

    Deluded leftists like you all need to be reminded that people like the Bhuttos do not need to have educated and prosperous masses. They do not need progress. When your are in the 1% elite, you can use the 99% poor to serve all your need. That is the Pakistan that PPP of the Bhuttos wants. That is the Pakistan they have always worked towards.

  3. Brenda Ní Shúilleabháin

    Yes. She was corrupt, probably, and a descendant of corrupt people, also probably. But she was courageous. She was at least as good as Musharraf. She was no worse than any other contender, was she? And she was reasonably open to the West, and to the less fundamentalist segments of Islam. Her assassination helped nothing, improved nothing, was just another downward step of a corrupt state with nuclear capability. Scary. Mouthing partisan clichés does not in any way deal with the truly frightening problem Pakistan presents to the world.

  4. Mick Hall

    “The Bhuttos and their like live off the labors of the poor, destitute millions of Pakistan. It is fully their intention to leave the masses in the mire they are in.”

    anon,

    If you consider me a deluded Leftist so be it however this deluded leftist agrees completely with most if not all of your post, especially the paragraph I have posted above, where I disagree with you is if we are to convince people and win them over to this point of view it hardly helps by insulting comrades whose hearts are in the right place.

    comradely regards

  5. Mick Hall

    El Ch?

    Thanks mate, I find your kind words both supportive and encouraging, good on you comrade.

  6. WorldbyStom

    Two small points. Firstly we can have no certainty as to the provenance of her ‘will’. So let’s put that aside for the moment. Secondly, I think talking about class enemies in feudal or semi-feudal systems is to be over egging the pudding (incidentally I think calling her a class enemy is a misinterpretation. Was she a class enemy to women? Was she a class enemy to secularists? Hardly). The context of what she said to Tariq Ali, when she said it to TA is all. I think you’re being unnecessarily harsh upon her. But as for what comes after her I think you’re correct.

  7. Mick Hall

    WBS

    I thought hard about whether the Will was genuine or not; and as you say we have no provenance. However I concluded that the fact that we feel unable to trust the will is itself an indictment of Benazir’s politics.

    When I wrote ‘class enemy’ I understand some might see it on my part as a somewhat flippant comment, but I meant it! As it seemed to me, as anon wrote above, Miss Bhutto had a vested interests in oppressing the ‘wretched of the earth’ and actually as a politician did so; and as someone who comes from an extremely economically poor family, I identify totally with the dispossessed at home and abroad. Thus I would be a fool not to consider someone like Benazir as my enemy. For me this is not a theoretical position but a very personal matter.

    It always makes me chuckle when comrades from a different social background to my own, pull back in horror when people like myself express ourselves in such stark terms, but when members of what I will loosely describe as the ruling class do the same and actually put there prejudices into practice, they never seem to react in the same way.

    Does this mean I wear my class on my sleeve, yes, but so to do the likes of Benazir Bhutto, only more so 😉

  8. Mick Hall

    Brenda

    I have though a great deal over night about your post, i e Benazir was no worse than Musharraf and indeed was better than most. Of course there is an element of truth in this, but that is not reason to support her and it is certainly no reason to cease critiquing her and her politics.

    I believe that one of the reason the West, especially the USA has got into such a mess in the third world and helped create such misery, is they have used this criteria when giving their support to third world leaders.

    This is what led the US/UK to first give their support to Saddam and it is used today to justify their support for the hopeless Shi’a led government in Iraq. If there is no decent candidate to support in some of these countries, the west should stay clear, because as history has proved by intervening on the side of the best of a bad bunch they only make a bad situation worse.

    Happy new year to you and yours

    Mick

  9. WorldbyStom

    Mick, I know where you’re coming from completely as regards class. However, I still can’t look at Benazir Bhutto and not think that she wasn’t cut and dried as a class enemy. As I said before, she certainly shifted the debate in terms of oppression of women … and this leads to the issue of how we deal with that sort of complexity. George Washington, slave owner and (limited) democrat. In historical terms while the former is an abomination the establishment of the US was broadly a good thing for democracy globally (although not an unmixed blessing) In the sort of context that we see in Pakistan isn’t it reasonable to accept that progress will be made incrementally and sometimes not at all. In that sense Bhutto was both good and bad. If you were a woman and not merely in Pakistan you might think that her very achievement of office was good as an exemplary dynamic. I completely agree, the bankruptcy of her project is self-evident in the PPPs current contortions.

  10. Anonymous

    In response to Brenda’s post; Let us examine two hypotheses:

    1. Benazir was a champion of women in Pakistan.

    2. She was at least as good or better than other in Pakistan.

    Firstly, I urge you thinkers to separate the fact that she was a woman leader in a traditionally patriarchal society from whether she actually did much for the women of Pakistan. In Pakistan there are segments of female population that are as advanced socially, compared to their male counterparts, as females in any modern society. Then there are those segments of population that are controlled by the many feudal families of Pakistan. There the women are oppressed in ways that would make Taliban look enlightened. Benazir’s power base came from this feudal class. Examine her record as premier and see where she actually did anything to improve the life of women in her constituency. You will be hard pressed to find anything. Contrary to your beliefs, it is actually people like Musharraf that have done a lot more for progress of women in the society.

    Secondly, let us talk about whether their are any leaders better than Benazir was in Pakistan. To begin with this is a regressive approach. Benazir had done enough harm to Pakistan and its society that one could never promote her on the basis of being better than others. There actually are many more capable politicians in Pakistan. But for the lack of their ability to pander to western sentiments they go unnoticed and carpet baggers like Benazir get pushed into the forefront. Her own party contains capable leaders that her feudal husband will not now allow to take center stage.

    The fundamentalism and extremism that the west talks about comes as a direct result of disenfranchisement that the deprived masses suffer when the feudal rules.

    Research and think.

  11. Mick Hall

    Anonymous

    I agree 100 percent with you last paragraph; and if any thing good has come out of Benazir Bhutto’s death for me personally, it is that I intend to take your advice and attempt to understand what is happening in Pakistan in a far more thorough manner than I have in the past, after all the USA is not involved in that country for nothing and if we believe the US administrations policies are counter-productive, we have a duty to try at least to offer some sort of alternative analysis based on the facts on the ground..

  12. WorldbyStom

    Anonymous, you raise some interesting points, but, can I suggest a couple of thoughts?

    … it is almost irrelevant whether she was an overt – or even subconscious – champion of women although she was clearly pro-woman. In precisely the same way as Mary Robinson in Ireland by becoming President (and she was herself an almost perfect example of Irish political, social and cultural elites despite her clear social liberalism and on again off again relationship with the Irish left) altered the societal dynamic (as well as expressing societal change) so Bhutto by becoming President altered societal dynamics within Islamic societies in a way not seen hitherto. And despite her admitted lack of progress on these issues simply by being a woman she opened up the sphere of the possible both within Pakistani politics and Islamic politics that simply didn’t exist previously. As importantly she served to underline the contradictions within that socio-political structure as regards democracy, representation, equality and class due in no small part to her own contradictory and flawed nature. And while you are correct as regards Pakistan, like so many societies, having multi-track social development occurring within it, again it doesn’t take a Gramsci to see what the Australian cultural theorist Donald Horne has proposed are cultural ‘myths’ which while contradictory are open to change. As for Musharraf, personally I think he gets a bad rap, but… he’s no democrat, so to pit a hugely flawed democrat against a relatively benign caudillo is really no choice at all, and it rather undermines your second paragraph because Musharraf has effectively disenfranchised the Pakistani people during his rule.

    As regards your second paragraph. I am still entertained by the complete lack of agency given to internal Pakistani political dynamics and the essentially incredible powers gifted to the US/West. There are others in the PPP who are better, on almost any level one chooses, but it’s not because of their willingness or otherwise to pander to the west but the fact that the PPP has been – revoltingly – run as a family concern by the Bhutto’s. And the Bhutto’s, like it or lump it, were, including Benazir, Pakistani nationalists. All the time I read people misinterpreting a convergence of interests with the predominance of western interests. Of course a secular, nationalist, residually leftist/populist party of the PPPs ilk will tend towards some sort of commonality with the west, of course this will be used as a means to further their own ends, and of course the west will play this up itself. But that doesn’t mean the PPP is the creature of the west. Indeed, realistically in the current environment what serious political formation there would want to be painted in such colours? It would be political suicide. And I really really worry that this simply continues a sort of discourse whereby there are only two effective planetary players, the US (or the west if one wants to be a bit broader) and everyone else. This is such a reductionist approach that it ignores how the PRC, or Russia or indeed India and Pakistan can and do operate entirely in contrast to the west/US and indeed some (or all) of same have imperialistic aspects to their nature. It suited the discourse on both left and right to pretend that the US was a hegemon, but it’s a nonsense. We are in, as we always have been, a multi-polar world.

    As for fundamentalism being a direct result of disenfranchisement from feudalism, I’m not so sure as you about that. We see fundamentalism of the religious variety apparent in many many different societies, from the US, to Israel, to Afghanistan, and indeed in Ireland in the not so distant past. Perhaps more accurate to say that fundamentalism driven by feudalism is but one aspect of fundamentalism. But fundamentalism in Asia and the Middle East and indeed the US and Ireland is as much a child of modernisation as it is of feudalism, and John Gray has made some useful points here. The clash between the rural and the urban, between not so much different as evolving social classes and so on.

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