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Marxism, Ex-Colonial Societies

and
Strategies of the Left
Hamza Alavi
Extract from a letter to a friend

Sunday, 16th February 1997

Dear *****,

Since you have mentioned Marxist literature, I am prompted to take up with you some theoretical
issues that we all need to think about. They are questions about class formation and class
alignments (i.e. 'Mode of Production') in ex-colonised societies such as Pakistan. These questions
need to be addressed before we can be clear about political strategies.

'Mode of Production' is an awful and intimidating term. Its meaning is pretty straight forward, as
I hope will soon become clear as you read on. Instead of the words 'Mode of Production', I would
prefer to label that concept 'Social Organisation Of Production' (or nizam-é-pedawari). That
phrase perhaps indicates more directly what it is about. It defines class formation, class
alignments and class contradictions in a society and therefore has a direct bearing on clarifying
the material basis of political strategies. I will set out an overview of Marxist thought that may be
helpful.

We need to clarify these issues to be able to assess what went wrong with CPI strategies, and the
'thinking' of the Pakistan Left, or, for that matter, the validity of formulae imposed upon us, such
as Soviet conceptions of 'National Democratic Revolution' and so on. We have given little
thought to that. I remember discussing large questions in this area, about policies and strategies,
in all seriousness with Banné Bhai (Sajjad Zaheer) in 1948-50 who sought my advice (!) when I
was as yet immature and foolish enough to take myself seriously. Looking back, I realise that
neither of us in fact had much of a clue about the major issues that we were talking about. I am
astonished by our naiveté. Since then I have been able to give much thought to these matters.
What I have written below should stimulate fresh thought amongst our friends. After all it is our
people who must be able to solve our own problems. The coming generation has to be
encouraged to think for itself, critically. We cannot look for solutions from outside. The Left in
South Asia does not as yet have much of a tradition of independent thought. We have always
looked to Soviet or Chinese oracles whom we have treated as the ultimate repositories of
political wisdom, only to discover that their intellectuals are often more ignorant than ourselves
and their bureaucrats have agendas different from our own.

Social Organisation of Production


No serious independent theoretical effort has yet been devoted to the analysis of the structural
effects of colonialism on colonised societies. We shall consider some literature in this field
presently. The CPI (and all other CPs) have been brought up on Soviet formulae. These were
legitimated with reference to certain propositions formulated by Lenin in his 'Theses on the
National and Colonial Questions' presented at the Second Congress of the Communist
International in 1920. We need to look closely into the significance of that instead of taking
Stalinist formulae at face value.

The key issue that I would emphasise is that of differences between the social structures and
class configurations of 1) advanced capitalist, imperialist, countries of Europe and 2) of Russia, a
rather different case, examined by Lenin, and 3) those of colonised societies. We need to identify
the specificity of the case of colonised societies, in other words 'Modes of Production' of
colonised societies. Analyses of 'Modes of Production' sounds rather like a scholastic pre-
occupation, just an esoteric 'academic' pursuit to be left to mere intellectuals. As we shall see
these are issues that we all need to understand and they are pretty straightforward. They are
central to our perspectives on our history, our social structure and our political practice.

I have explored these questions with reference to our own society (India and Pakistan), being
aware of certain untenable political positions of the CPI, who failed to develop an independent
revolutionary analysis in the light of Indian realities. Instead, it tied itself to Stalinist dogma
about the leading role of the so-called 'Progressive National Bourgeoisie in the National
Democratic Stage of Revolution', with its corollary of unwavering support to the so-called
'Progressive National Bourgeoisie' as represented by the Indian National Congress. With
incantation of that Soviet dogma, the CPI ended up supporting the Congress (Indira Gandhi in
1975) to a point of self-destruction. Such formulae were used opportunistically, at the behest of
the Soviet leadership to whom CPs everywhere were beholden. Sadly that has lead to disaster
everywhere and the virtual demise of the CPI. Its political perspectives was obscured by false
theoretical ideas imposed upon it by the Russian state. We need to examine the roots of such
ideas.

Let me set out my broad argument and show how the theoretical ground lies. We can identify
three classical 'Modes of Production', as summarised below. Listing them together in a sequence
like this clarifies their historical and social structural specificity. We can see that they are each
historically contextual. Historical materialism does not justify universalised propositions,
regardless of historical context. This must lead us to an examination of our own historical
specificity as once colonised societies.

Marx's Model - England


It is now widely recognised by many distinguished Marxists that Marx's theoretical model, as in
Capital, is based on the social realities of England. It was a society in which capitalism was fully
developed, feudalism was dissolved (subsumed under capitalist landed property, as Marx said)
and, as he assumed not altogether accurately, the small peasantry had been eliminated (by the
enclosure movement). Marx posited, thus, a direct and unmediated confrontation between the
capitalist and the proletariat, the central contradiction of CMP. A proletarian revolution was on
the cards.
Karl Kautsky and the Western European Model
In Western Europe while capitalism was dominant and feudalism transformed into capitalist
farming by the erstwhile Junkers, small peasant production was not eliminated; it proliferated.
There was a need to go beyond Marx's 'English Model'; the context was different. That analysis
was provided by Karl Kautsky in his celebrated work called 'The Agrarian Question' . There
were a large number of small peasants in those countries and Kautsky offers a brilliant analysis
of how small peasant production was subsumed under capital, without the separation of the
producer from the means of production.

I got to read Kautsky's work some years ago when Michael Kidron (Pluto Press) asked me to
write an 'Introduction' for the first ever English translation of'The Agrarian Question'. For me it
was a revelation. You will find a summary of Kautsky's argument as well as an account of the
circumstances in which the book came to be written and then quickly disowned by the author
himself, in my Introduction to that volume, to which my good friend Teodor Shanin also
contributed. Kautsky, who was anti-peasant, five years later publicly disowned his own work.

Lenin, on the other hand, was greatly impressed by Kautsky's analysis. We find a reference to it
in his Preface to 'The Development of Capitalism in Russia', where he regretted that he did not
see Kautsky's work until his own work had already been set in type-too late for revisions. Lenin
repeatedly praised that work. Sadly Kautsky's work, which is so relevant and important for us
from countries with large peasant populations, is relatively unknown to our intellectuals.

Lenin and the Russian Model


Russia was not like England or Western Europe. Lenin realised that one could not simply
extrapolate from Marx's 'English model' to draw conclusions for the political strategy of the
Russian Revolution. He offered instead a 'model' based on the realities of Russian society. He
spelt it out in 'Development of Capitalism in Russia' and elsewhere. It was a 'model' of a society
in which feudalism was dominant, not capitalism as in the West. Capitalism was just developing
in Russia. Lenin, therefore, concluded that the central structural contradiction in Russian society
was that between the feudal and the capitalist modes of production i.e. between the dominant
classes located in those two Modes of Production, the Feudals and the Capitalists. An anti-feudal,
bourgeois- democratic Revolution was therefore on the agenda. In assigning that historical role
to the Russian bourgeoisie, Lenin was following his teacher Plekhanov.

Lenin was soon to go beyond Plekhanov. A fascinating aspect of Lenin's work is the way in
which he readily modified and developed his ideas in the light of Russian realities. He
transcended the 'Mechanistic Marxism' of his teacher Plekhanov, especially after 1905. Even
when sometimes we find him still paying lip service to Plekhanov, his writings bear his own
distinctive mark. We should not therefore treat all of Lenin's writing on a par, without
recognising the steady development of his ideas, so that later formulations superseded older
ones. We need to differentiate early Lenin's Plekhanovist writings and his later works that bear
the unmistakable stamp of his own revolutionary experience and his creative thought.
In his 'Philosophical Notebooks', Lenin dates his emancipation from Plekhanov as from 1914. At
that time he spent 9 months in systematic study of Aristotle, Hegel and Feuerbach. In his
'Philosophical Notebooks' he writes that only after he had read Hegel did he really understand
Marx. He had left behind Plekhanov's mechanistic Marxism, uninformed by dialectical logic.

My reading suggests that there was not such a sudden transformation in Lenin's ideas, in 1914,
merely after reading Hegel. It seems more likely that it was the moment when he became self-
aware of the distance that he had already travelled, away from mechanistic Marxism of
Plekhanov and Kautsky. If we look at his work closely, we find that he had already begun to
transcend Plekhanov much earlier. I had understood that Lenin's ideas began to change radically
after 1907. My friend Teodor Shanin, who has read Lenin's untranslated Russian texts, tells me
that it was already from 1905 that we can see a clear departure in Lenin's ideas.

If we consider his 1905 work 'Two Tactics of Russian Social Democracy ' we can indeed see
incipient 'Leninism' breaking through the Plekhanovist mould. While apparently upholding the
Plekhanovist orthodoxy that Russia was in the 'stage' of a Bourgeois Democratic Revolution,
Lenin nevertheless insists that it was the historic mission of the Proletariat and not the Russian
bourgeoisie to carry through the Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, an idea that was clearly
subversive of Plekhanovism ! The mind boggles. What kind of 'Bourgeois Revolution' would a
proletariat carry out ? While Lenin stuck to Plekhanovist form of words he was advocating a
proletarian revolutionary strategy. Plekhanov and the Mensheviks, instead, stood for a
collaborationist strategy, like that of the CPI and Cps everywhere under the influence of Stalin,
in accepting the leading role of the Bourgeoisie as in Kerensky's 'February Revolution'.
Plekhanov and the Mensheviks bitterly opposed the October Revolution. Lenin argued to the
contrary, despite his lip service to Plekhanov inasmuch as he spoke of a Bourgeois Democratic
'stage' of revolution, while advocating a proletarian revolution.

Some Marxists go to great lengths to justify the form of words chosen by Lenin. They bend over
backwards to find some aspects of the 1917 Proletarian Revolution that they might characterise
as an aspect of a Bourgeois Revolution e.g. with reference to the peasantry. I find such worship
of Lenin's every word to be rather pathetic. The plain fact is that verbally Lenin often kept
repeating Plekhanovist orthodoxy while in reality he was advocating a very different practice, in
effect rejecting Plekhanov's class collaborationist strategy ? As we know, Lenin's political break
with Mensheviks came quite early.

Colonised Societies: Lenin's (and Western Marxists') Blind


Spot
While Lenin recognised the structural specificity of Russian society and differentiated it from
that of England and Western Europe, he failed to ask himself the same sort of questions about the
structural specificity of colonised societies. Russia was not a colonised society. Lenin failed to
see that just as it would be a mistake to extrapolate to Russia ideas relevant to advanced capitalist
societies of Western Europe, so also it would be equally wrong to extend the Russian model to
colonised societies without asking questions about their structural specificity. He was not
justified in extending his 'model' of Russia to colonised societies without taking into account the
way in which colonialism had transformed their social structure in certain ways. Instead of
asking himself such questions Lenin assumed, unjustifiably that the trajectory of colonised
societies, which he called 'Countries of the Orient', would be no different from that of Russia.
Lenin's blind spot is at the root of some of our problems today.

Lenin did little to study the structures and the histories of colonised societies. That lacunae in his
thinking is revealed in his tract on 'Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism', where, if
anywhere, we might expect him to fill the gap in Euro-centred Marxist analyses. In that work
Lenin is concerned with the issue of inter-imperialist rivalry and the effect of imperialism on the
metropolitan societies. Imperialism was for him the Highest Stage of Capitalism -monopoly
capitalism in the West. We look in vain in Lenin's writings for any insights into the manner in
which metropolitan capital had transformed colonised societies in quite specific ways. His
underlying assumption was that in colonised societies too pre-capitalist social structures were
being confronted by capitalism in ways no different from what we could see in Russia. That was
a big mistake, based on ignorance of what was actually going on in colonial societies.

We find the same blind spot about the structure of colonial societies in the work and
preoccupations of Western Marxists. You may know of the famous Dobb-Sweezy debate on the
'Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism' (edited by Rodney Hilton). It is amazing that not one
these great Marxists of the Western World felt any need to refer to the role of colonialism in the
development of Western capitalism. This is taken up in my paper: 'The Formation of the Social
Structure of South Asia under the impact of Colonialism' where we see how the colonial link
contributed to the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Western Marxists tend to place the issue of
colonised societies into a separate compartment, a matter only for specialist concern.

Lenin on the National and Colonial Question


The crucial text, which is at the root of our present misguided perspectives, is one in which
Lenin reverted to a Plekhanovist perspective on revolutionary struggle in colonised societies.
That was his 'Thesis on the National and Colonial Question' which he presented at the Second
Congress of the Comintern in 1920. This deserves careful examination, for it has been the basis
of CPI dogma, leading to class collaboration. Here Lenin turned his back on the notion of the
leading role of the proletariat, which he had advocated for the Russian Revolution (as far back as
1905). Now he came forward with a Plekhanovist thesis for colonised societies, namely that the
National Bourgeoisie in colonised societies were playing a revolutionary role and it
was their historic mission to lead the struggle towards a National Bourgeois Democratic
Revolution. The task of the Communist International, 'The Party of the (World) Proletariat, was
to support such Bourgeois led struggles. It was a class collaborationist formulae. The entire
history of the CPI has been caught up in that. How did that come about.

For an indispensable documentary account of that debate on the National and Colonial Question,
see 'Marxism and Asia' edited by H. Carére d'Encausse and Stuart Schram. It is an indispensable
documentary record, more detailed on this subject and more valuable for us than the Comintern
Documents edited by Jane Degras.
In that debate M. N. Roy opposed Lenin, declaring that communists should have no truck with
the colonial bourgeoisie which was vacillating and collaborationist with the Imperial power. He
argued instead that Communists should lead the proletariat into a revolutionary and decisive
break with imperialism. In 1920 the proletariat barely existed in the colonies and there was
hardly any proletarian organisation, Roy's position was, in that context, purely formal. Not
surprisingly Roy's argument provoked a taunt from Lenin. Where is your proletariat ! Where is
your party of the proletariat ! Be that as it may, Lenin's Draft Thesis too was one-sided. There
was a compromise (about which we find little mention in CP literature which reproduce only the
final and agreed text). Lenin had to concede quite a few points to Roy and other critics. One
concession that he made was most unfortunate. A distinction was posited between 'reactionary'
bourgeoisies and 'progressive' bourgeoisies, communists being required to support the latter.

That distinction between 'reactionary' and 'progressive' bourgeoisies was not founded on any
basic principles. It was merely a verbal sop to Roy's objections. There were no criteria by which
the two bourgeoisies could be distinguished. These are mere descriptive categories, not
theoretical concepts. Bourgeoisies could be put into one or the other category, arbitrarily. Stalin
found it very easy to manipulate and misuse these categories. He and his heirs could label as
'progressive' those with whom they could do business. In later Soviet formulations this became
even more blatant-for any State that had good relations with the Soviets qualified for the label
'Progressive', regardless of whether it was a military junta or whatever its class character.
Ethiopia is a case in point.

But to return to 1920, we must ask ourselves what made Lenin make a theoretical somersault and
take to a Plekhanovist formulae on the subject of the 'National and Colonial Question' and exhort
communists to support bourgeois leadership, advocating 'tailism'. To understand that we must
recall the specific context of that debate. It was taking place at a time when the USSR was facing
a combined counter-revolutionary attack from all the major capitalist powers in the world, the
Wars of Intervention. But at that time also there were bourgeois-led anti-colonial struggles going
on in countries of Asia around the Southern frontiers of the Soviet Union, from Turkey to China.
It is not surprising that Lenin welcomed them.

In the light of the exigencies of the moment, all kinds of dubious characters were promoted to the
rank of leaders of the 'Progressive National Bourgeoisie'. Thus Col. Reza Shah, the Persian
military adventurer and dictator was elevated to the rank of a leader of a mythical 'Persian
National Bourgeoisie'. So also Kemal Attatürk who, whatever his credentials, can hardly be
called a leader of a Turkish National Bourgeoisie that did not yet exist. Countries around the
flank of the Soviet Union, namely Turkey, Iran, India and China (with Indonesia being thrown in
for good measure) mattered to Lenin, because they were all of strategic value in military terms.
Why should Lenin and the Comintern not try to get them on their side. That was justified
enough. Unfortunately it turned out that this conjunctural recommendation valid for the moment
was turned into a basic theoretical principle, that has misled us ever since. Hence from Meerut
jail Dangé wrote his famous document in which he assured the Indian National Bourgeoisie that
communists could not but be sincere in their support for the Indian National Congress, for they
could not have their own proletarian revolution until after the National Bourgeoisie had
completed the anti-colonial national democratic revolution. That has remained the CPI dogma
ever since, one which ultimately destroyed it. Lenin left us a terrible legacy.
Stalin and his heirs found here a theoretical weapon to justify their opportunist inter-state
alliances (for a discussion of inter-state relations see my notes on 'Socialist States and Socialist
Movements, enclosed). He used that formulae to impose collaborationist policies on CPs
everywhere. Time and again the CPI has resurrected Lenin's 1920 'Theses' to justify its class
collaborationist and opportunistic alliance with Governments of the Indian National Congress.
Chou En-Lai, likewise, did the same by commending Ayub Khan to Pakistani pro-Chinese Left
when he visited Pakistan (in 1959 ?). This false dogma has to be exorcised.

The Structure of Colonial Social Formations


So, we come to the crucial question for us. How do we delineate structures of colonised
societies. We will see that they do not correspond to any of the three 'models' of non-colonised
societies that we have looked at above, namely 1) Marx's 'model' based on England 2) Kautsky's
'model' based on Western Europe and 3) Lenin's 'model' based on Russia. We need therefore a
fourth, a theoretical formulation of the structural specificity of colonial social formations.

This has not been looked into by properly as yet. CP intellectuals have remained trapped in
Stalin's formulations and have not been able to go beyond that. Amongst Trotskyite intellectuals,
we can look at the work of Ernest Mandel, one of the most well known of them. We find again
that he too has done little to look at colonial history and colonial society. That is, indeed, a
general complaint that we have of all Western Marxists. Mandel's work is no less Euro-centered.
In his two volume work on 'Marxist Economic Theory' he does not go beyond Lenin and Rosa
Luxemburg, reiterating the latter's thesis about capitalist expansion into colonies being a basic
tendency of capitalism. Mandel speaks of imperialism being an obstacle to the industrialisation
of the Third World. This too is familiar stuff. But where does that leave us ? In Mandel's other
major work on 'Late Capitalism' he relies heavily on the ideas of Andre Gunder Frank, about
which I will have something to say below. They do not get to grips with the basic issue of class
formation and class alignments following colonisation.

I feel that this is a crucial area for us to examine. In 1975 I published an article on 'India and the
'Colonial Mode of Production' in Socialist Register 1975. At the time there was little response.
Perhaps too many people have invented too many different 'modes of production. I could
understand a certain degree of scepticism. Yet another 'mode'.

I followed that up in 1979 with a study of the colonial transformation of India-'India: Transition
from Feudalism to Colonial Capitalism'. That evoked a very positive response. It was translated
and published in German. In Australia, a conference was based around that paper at the
University of Adelaide. The papers, edited by Doug. McEachern were published under the title
'Capitalism and Colonial Production'. That volume includes several valuable papers. My name
appears first on the front cover merely by virtue of alphabetical priority and you may find that
the book is probably catalogued under my name.

Following that historical study I published an article in EPW called 'The Structure of Colonial
Social Formations' (a copy is enclosed). 'Colonial Capitalism', I have argued, has specific
structural properties which I have delineated in that article. It was reprinted in a book edited by
Utsa Patnaik. We need also to elaborate its political corollaries. I am afraid I have not got down
to that as yet. But they are obvious. But the CPI hegemony on South Asian Left intellectuals is
perhaps too strong for the issues that I have raised to be properly discussed. Perhaps I should
have written it in impenetrable prose for the New Left Reviewfor people to sit up and take notice.

My papers are only an initial attempt to identify some issues. There are many unanswered
questions in my work which I hope friends will take up. For example we might ask how far and
in what way is this colonial 'model' affected by inter-nationalisation of capital and, the
emergence of Multi-National Capital. How do we fit into our analysis the rise of the so-called
'Tiger Economies' of the Pacific Rim. Such questions, I am sure, will (and must) be pursued.

I have referred above to my very old friend, Andre Gunder Frank (whose work took Left
intellectuals by storm in the late 1960s and 1970s) in connection with Mandel's work. Being fed
up with CP collaborationism in Latin America, Frank attacked the CP theoretical positions, but
on rather dubious theoretical bases. Frank's confused arguments made him easily vulnerable to
an attack by Ernesto Laclau, in an article (published in NLR). What Laclau in fact did was to
restore the CP orthodoxy. Moreover, he has built his argument on a gross misrepresentation of
Peruvian history and social structure. I once thought of writing a refutation, but never got around
to it. Laclau's article was universally, and mistakenly, acclaimed and accepted by Western
scholars as a definitive work. My own analysis contradicts the Laclau view. So, not surprisingly I
begin my analysis in my article on 'The Structure of Colonial Social Formations' with a critique
of Laclau.

Soviet Union and China as Fonts of Wisdom


The founding of the Communist International introduced a notion that there was but a single,
unified, World Communist Movement. (see Fernando Claudin's 'The Communist Movement' for
this). The notion of a single World Communist Movement was allowed Stalin to impose a given
'line' on Communist parties everywhere, regardless of their particular circumstances. Inevitably
that led to disasters, which were always blamed by Stalin on 'mistakes' of local leaders. Despite
that Mao and the CCP succeeded for they were able to by-pass Stalin. But the Chinese too, in
their turn, were to take over Stalin's mantle. Rival Communist parties in the Third World rallied
behind Moscow or Peking as the seats of their infallible oracles whose guidance they would
accept. That has undermined independent indigenous thought in our countries. We will not get
very far until we see the flowering of our own ideas. I am sure that a time for that will come, as
new generations come on the scene, free from dogmas of the past. As for the issue of the role of
the Soviet or the Chinese state in relations to our movements, I have discussed that in an
unpublished paper of which too I enclose a copy, namely 'Socialist States and Socialist
Movements'.

The Colonial Mode of Production and 'Feudalism'


The issue of feudalism is a most important political issue for us Pakistanis. I find that my
analysis is incomplete and therefore misleading in that respect. I would correct that now. I have
argued that it was metropolitan capital that carried out the historic task of dissolving pre-
capitalist social formations in the colonies and establishing colonial capitalism. I have therefore
suggested that feudalism was dissolved by British colonialism. That is not quite correct. I have
based that argument in the light of only one criterion namely that of free and unfree labour. But,
as I shall show below, there is a second criterion too, that completely alters the picture.

When Marx recognised that in Britain feudalism had given way to capitalist landed property, he
nevertheless made a distinction between the great land owners as the 'Governing Class' whereas
the Bourgeoisie were the 'Ruling Class'. The erstwhile feudals played a leading role in British
Government but they were subject to the structural imperative of British capitalism. That was not
quite the case in colonial India. Indeed great landlords were valued by the colonial rulers as their
allies and therefore protected and privileged. In India feudalism was to be abolished only after
independence by a powerful national bourgeoisie represented by the Congress. In Pakistan
landed magnates are a dominant force in the State. The feudals inherited the new state of
Pakistan at the time of the Partition whereas our bourgeoisie, such as it is, is extremely weak.
Dissolution of feudalism in Pakistan is our primary and most immediate task.

The error in my analysis stems from the fact that I have take account of only one of two criteria
that distinguish capitalism from feudalism, namely that of free and unfree labour. We come to
very different conclusions when we consider also the other criterion namely that of 'Simple
Reproduction' under feudalism versus 'Expanded Reproduction of Capital' under capitalism. (for
an explanation of these concepts see Capital Vol. I, Part VII-chapter XXIII ff.). Under 'Simple
Reproduction' the surplus that is extracted is mainly consumed whereas under 'Expanded
Reproduction of Capital' of capitalism, the surplus is mainly ploughed back into capital
accumulation.

I would indeed go a step further and conceptualise what I would call 'The Simple Reproduction
Trap' that keeps landowners in the grip of 'Simple Reproduction'. It arises from the fact that in
the case of industrial capitalism, with capital accumulation the number of production units in
industries are extended or multiplied, thus providing an outlet for accumulated capital. In
agriculture, on the other hand, the basic input is land. It cannot be multiplied like industrial
production units. The available land is relatively fixed for the landlord class as a whole, extended
marginally by irrigation schemes. Other inputs like farm mechanisation etc. are marginal. Land is
the determining factor. Capital accumulation cannot take place in agriculture in the same way as
in industry. The landlord class is necessarily a parasitic class, 'trapped' in the circuit of 'Simple
Reproduction', consuming the bulk of the surplus. The landowner remains necessarily parasitical.

In India a powerful industrial bourgeoisie managed to subordinate the landlords. Their political
problem now stems from the rise of 'Rich Peasants' who have demands of their own. In Pakistan
that is not the case. Parasitical landlords are at the centre of our political system. Great land
magnates dominate the electoral process. There may be room for mere scholastic arguments
whether in strict scientific terms we can still call our landed magnates a 'feudal class'. But that
would be an argument about names and labels rather than substance. We have to recognise that
they are not 'capitalists' in the same sense as industrial capitalists.

Words are not immutable. There is no need not restrict the meaning of 'feudalism' to its classical
(and scholastic) sense. We do need a label for that parasitical and powerful class and the word
'feudalism' will serve the purpose better than any other that I can think of, for it is essential that
we distinguish them from Industrial Capitalism. Moreover, it is a highly charged word, with
commonly understood meanings connoting parasitism and arbitrary power.

To say that feudalism was dissolved by metropolitan capitalism would be a only half-truth, a
most misleading statement. That would conceal the crucial aspects of the political economy of
our landed class today. I would therefore argue that feudalism does exist in Pakistan and its
elimination, not least from the political arena, should be our first priority, without which we
cannot advance far. We need to emancipate our country from their stranglehold.