Author highlights social media’s dominant role in today’s world at book launch

Our Correspondent
Sunday, Oct 09, 2022

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi on Saturday launched academic Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar’s book ‘The Struggle for Hegemony in Pakistan: Fear, Desire and Revolutionary Horizons’ in its City Campus.

The discussion featured talks by the author who is an associate professor of political economy, IBA Executive Director Dr S Akbar Zaidi, visiting faculty at IBA Abira Ashfaq, and lawyer Faisal Siddiqui.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Akhtar said that using his poetic license, he had steered the book in various directions. He talked about the digital age and how politics had evolved in the past 20 years due to digitalisation.

The author stated that today’s revolutionaries were more likely to update their social media with their ideologies rather than visit devastated places to revive them.

The collapse of neoliberal hegemony in the Western world following the financial crash of 2007-8 and the subsequent rise of right-wing authoritarian personalities was described by Dr Akhtar as a crisis of 'the political' in western societies. But the crisis must be seen as global, rather than focusing on the West alone, he stated.

He said Pakistan was experiencing rapacious capture of natural resources overseen by the country’s bureaucracy and establishment. Under their watch, trading and manufacturing interests, property developers and plethora of mafias have monopolized the provision of basic needs like housing, water and food, he lamented.

Presenting a new interpretation of our global political-economic moment, he argued for an emancipatory political horizon embodied by the 'classless' subject.

Currently 65 per cent of Pakistan’s population was under 30 and could be influenced with strategical social media campaigns, he said adding that various popular political leaders in South Asia had won elections due to social media campaigns.

He also equated the youth as the middle-class and assessed that the middle-class played an integral role in the present political scenario of the country and since the middle-class was motivated by the desire for upward mobility, political leaders used it as a bait to come into power.

Dr Akhtar opined that to bring about a revolution, a universal and united political system was needed to solve global key issues.

Reviewing the book, Siddiqui classified it as theoretical and said that the author wanted to transform the readers into revolutionary agents. He said that the book went back to Marxism and revolved around universal politics.

The book explained why the middle class desired and accepted dominance as per Gramsci’s ideology, Siddiqui said.

He added that the middle-class ideology ha reached the judiciary for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

Abira appreciated the book and said the case studies on Bahria Town and Thar Coal project were enlightening. Shedding light on the hegemony of leading international financial aid organisations and multi-nationals, she said their obsolete policies should be challenged and revised for the betterment of the common people.

Speaking about migration, climate change and agricultural issues in Pakistan, she said that all of these were extremely hard on women as they usually got the hardest jobs or were adversely impacted. Explaining the fundamentals of feminism, she said that the ideology was anti-capitalist and added that even in 2022, the female representation was insignificant in most professions, including the judiciary and academics.

Concluding the discussion, Dr Zaidi remarked, “After all the revolutions, it is ironic that the global world is back to the time when the middle-class is the saviour. And although it is good to aspire, it seems that no immediate revolution is on the horizon, which is quite tragic.”