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Utility of socialism stressed as two-day conference on Sibte Hassan ends

Utility of socialism stressed as two-day conference on Sibte Hassan ends

KARACHI: There is no need to worry about the future of socialism because as long as there is class disparity in the world, people will keep looking for their salvation in socialism. Today the world is trapped in the web of market economy. In such a situation the underprivileged will look to socialism for the solution to their problems.

This was said by eminent scholar, human rights activist and journalist I. A. Rehman in his speech on the concluding day of the two-day conference held to celebrate the centenary of distinguished Marxist thinker and writer Sibte Hassan at the Jinnah Medical and Dental Institute on Monday evening.

Referring to a documentary film shot in 1985 in which Mr Hassan was honoured and he had raised questions about who do writers write for, Mr Rehman said another relevant question was: “Why do writers write?” He said some people wrote without a thought process, some wrote to earn a living, but the best writers were those who wanted to talk to the world and share their ideas with it. He said Mr Hassan used to write with a sense of purpose and with an objective; and he had set that objective when he was 20 years old. He said by the time he turned 20, the late writer had taken two decisions: first, to join journalism; two, to spread the message of socialism. He said his work had a pattern (tarteeb). Expanding on the role of culture in people’s life, he said who would know more about culture than Pakistanis; we were the ones who had damaged democracy and mistreated women because of our culture.

Mr Rehman said being a Marxist Mr Hassan had decided to remove the obstacles in the way of the masses on scientific grounds. He said in his view the obstacles were: evading history, unfamiliarity with socialism and the tyranny of belief.

He said Mr Hassan wrote Mazi Ke Mazaar because he tried to find the reason for the changes taking place around the world in civilisations. He said the purpose was to tell that the Pakistani nation could meet the challenges of the time to come if it adopted movement (progress) and scientific methods. He said Mr Hassan believed that civilisations sustained on their ability to meet the requirements and needs of their people.

Mr Rehman said after 1974 violence in the name of religion and intolerance began to take its toll on people, but what was being carried out as religious practices were actually feudal norms. He said if in 2016 the same debate on culture was going on which was being discussed in 1974 then Pakistani society was not moving forward.

He said Mr Hassan was of the view that socialism was a vast subject that needed to be studied thoroughly. He said socialism was not a static ideology. He said there was no need to worry about socialism because as long as there was class disparity in the world, people would keep looking for their salvation in socialism. He said today the world was trapped in the web of market economy, and in such a situation the underprivileged would look to socialism for the solution to their problems.

Writer Zahida Hina read out a paper on Sibte Hassan and the creative belief of old civilisations. She said our Marxist thinker Sbite Hassan saw a dream when he was in the dark rooms of Shahi Qila, and when he got out of it, he gave us the opportunity to read Mazi Ke Mazaar. She said Mr Hassan had aligned his thoughts with Marx’s ideas. She said in his books he came across as a sociologist, anthropologist, historian and philosopher. She said though he was a Marxist till he breathed his last, he did not feel any hesitation in appreciating the progress made by capitalist Europe. After that she eloquently described how Mr Hassan analysed different civilisations in the light of the sociopolitical situation of the society he was part of, in trying times at that.

Ms Hina said Mr Hassan had written that in history the clergy and monarchy never wanted education (ilm) to reach the common man. She said in our society also it was not deemed right to ask questions. She said Mr Hassan wished for a system which allowed every person to progress as per their ability (zahni salahiat).

Charles Amjad Ali said Antonio Gramsci discussed culture under Marxist purview and Sibte Hassan did the same.

Ahmed Salim read out excerpts from his paper on Sibte Hassan’s editorial writings. He began by discussing the journal Lail-o-Nihar. He said three persons (Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sibte Hassan and Hassan Abidi) used to write editorials for it and it was difficult to ascertain who wrote which editorial. He spoke on the various phases of Mr Hassan’s life when the government and its agencies kept tabs on the papers, and how in those hard days Mr Hassan and his colleagues persevered with their journalistic duties.

Muslim Shamim read out a detailed paper on Mr Hassan’s relationship with the Progressive Writers Movement. He said Mr Hassan’s association with the movement spanned half a century.

Sheen Farrukh gave a personal account of her introduction to Mr Hassan and his work. She said he had a magnetic personality and would often attract women attention.

Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed conducted the event. Dr Haroon delivered the vote of thanks.

Published in Dawn November 15th, 2016

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