Politics in Pakistan often plays out like a never-ending abyss of convoluted arguments, and little logic. Add to this the plethora of online content that seems to add fuel to the fire. Between fake news and hate speech, the virtual world has to struggle to find its footing.
What happened, I can’t help but wonder, to the potential strength of the internet? On paper; it is a resource that can be accessed by almost anyone. It allows the instant distribution of knowledge, and allows anyone to publish their work.
But as is the case with most things, the freedom of entry attracted the basest arguments onto the stage.
And so we have an array of ‘experts’ dishing out their takes on politics, liberty and life. This can range from the actively insidious to the woefully misguided. I don’t know what we can do about the former. The latter just need some healthy, academic engagement.
Accessible Academic Engagement
The reality of course is that not everyone has access to such engagement. Which is why this new series of videos by Dr. Taimur Rahman is such a godsend.
If you don’t know, Dr. Rahman is the vocalist and founder of the acclaimed band Laal. He is also the general secretary of the Mazdoor Kissan Party and teaches political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
He started a series of videos discussing left-wing politics earlier this month, and they are quite insightful. And depending on where you are situated on the scale, they can serve as initiation or continuation.
If you’re confused about buzzwords, they include detailed explanations.
If you know the definitions, but want to learn more about ideology, they can help you there as well.
Or, if you enjoy intelligent debate, and loathe what television serves you instead, then they’re what you’ve been waiting for.
To help you get started, I’ve included three videos that you could watch in this order. These will give you a taste of the videos, and, hopefully, encourage you to participate in some way.
The Perfect Intro to Leftist Politics
In this video, Dr. Rahman mentions that people often cannot differentiate communism and socialism. Which is true, and also an understatement. People often use these terms interchangeably, and when I say people I of course mean myself.
And no, I wasn’t dozing off during my ‘intro to political science’ lecture. I was playing Angry Birds. Thank you very much.
At any rate, the distinction should be understood. It’s kind of important.
Continuing on the introductory streak, you should probably watch this video next. The local political scene is often a mishmash of the same words thrown around, and sometimes at each other.
And, if we are going stamp these words onto our foreheads, maybe we should first understand what they mean?
Let the Debate Commence
Okay, so if you’ve completed the first two videos then you’re ready with some opinions. Or, you’re ready to form some. At any rate, a classic political science argument is a great place to start.
I am willing to bet that most social scientists will have debated whether the collapse of the Soviet Union falsified Marx’s ideology or not. It is a classic, and Dr. Rahman presents his arguments really well in this video.
Okay, so you’ve heard what he had to say. Now, I’m going to challenge you to do something. Make some notes about what you heard, think about what was said and then comment with your arguments.
This can seem daunting. But remember how I said we all need some academic engagement? Well, the engagement part was kind of important.
So, engage with Dr. Rahman. Tell him what you thought, ask him about other concepts, disagree if you want. But really think about what you’re writing. Structure your arguments and back them up with research.
I’m really glad to see such an initiative, and I hope you guys take some time and get involved.