In a politically degenerating society, where the progressive forces are overpowered by the reactionary forces, students’ politics is one of the few remaining spaces where an enabling environment for the promotion of progressive organizational and ideational tendencies continue to exist. A section of reactionary forces dominating Baloch society exists in the form of Bourgeoisie nationalist cliques, which in turn are most often than not are led by the tribal elite, or the non-tribal & so-called ‘middle class’ whose commercial interests are deeply intertwined with their political position in the structures of governance. The bourgeoisie or middle-class Baloch nationalists, despite having shared interests, have historically divided the society on differences that revolve around personalities and their style of hegemony, rather than ideological orientations or even political strategies. Clusters of bourgeois groups then center around such figures to defend and promote their class, caste, and clan interests. The divide between Mengal, Bizenjo, Zehri and the so-called middle class of Makuran, is the on-ground manifestation of this rift between the growing privileged class that one can refer to as ‘non-industrial bourgeoisie’ of Baloch society.
History of Baloch Students Organization is the history of progressive organizational tendencies of Baloch society itself. BSO developed and flourished in campuses during 50’s and 60’s; reached a critical mass by early 1970s. Soon after its decline began and the organization has since been a site of struggle between the progressive revolutionary forces, and the hegemonic currents of the bourgeoisie nationalism that insists that status-quo continues. In contradiction with the reactionary nationalism of tribal elite and the so-called middle class, the dominant outlook of BSO has always been progressive nationalism that helped the students’ politics to lean towards progressive, revolutionary forces and ideals in national and international struggles. Although, with the rise of reactionary ethnic-nationalism in the guise of opportunistic parliamentary politics during 1990s, enabled the national bourgeoisie leadership, most of them having been once a part of students’ politics, to extend their hegemony in the campuses. They knew exactly where transformative waves are created. Of course, this meddling of parliamentary nationalist leadership in BSO was an attempt to counter the progressive tendencies of the students. By reproducing and replicating the bourgeoisie structure of nationalism in the campuses, democratic, decentralized, and revolutionary potential of Baloch students could be curbed and pushed aside. Creation of parallel BSO groups that have been mere reflections of the mainstream political parties, in the form of the student-wings, is the manifestation of the bourgeoisie nationalist structures in the student space. Soon the student politics was also defined by senseless factionalism, fragmentation, and a total absence of an ideological compass.
In this situation, Baloch students have a historical responsibility to organize in organic structures, whether under the banner of nationalism, socialism, or of both at the same time – an organizing principle which in fact defined BSO’s politics when socialist politics had not totally disappeared from people’s imagination here and world over. BSO can reflect, represent, and channel the interests of the lower stratum of the society against the privileged classes or the dominant stratum of the society. Therefore, it has the potential to challenge and keep a check on the forces leading the nationalist political superstructure.
Baloch students must fight to achieve and sustain a structurally independent organization, a BSO that is not a mere extension of any national level structure of dominance. What we need is a political organization with empowered institutions that can take decisions, make independent alliances, chart out strategies and has the cadre to realize them on the ground. They must not hide behind opportunism by concealing their ideological affiliations and political tenets and should embrace organic alliances with other progressive and revolutionary forces fighting for the common objective: for a society without exploitation. A politics that is locally rooted but is universal in its ideals and scope. A Baloch student group which has the ability to interpret the society, explore its material history, understand the structures of exploitation, and has the ability to put together the means of struggle on the grounds of dialectical and historical materialism can perform this historical task. In short, the task at hand for a Marxist BSO, is to not only lead the students on a revolutionary pathway, but also to bring about the unity of students and the other progressive organizations of the masses.
In their struggle for an ideologically clear and structurally independent BSO, the students will have to fight the depoliticizing tendencies as much as those traditional nationalist forces that tend to politically divide the students and the masses. Depoliticization in Baloch context is relatively a recent phenomenon, it partly resulted from the brutal victimization of political class of the society in the past decade. The selective victimization of the cadre by the state, on the one hand weakened the political class, and on the other provided opportunities for the growth of politically alienated structures and groups not only in the mainstream Baloch nationalist politics, but also within the students’ space, where it manifested itself in the form of students’ committees and councils. These students’ groups, initially created to be apolitical, could not escape the politicized structure & environment of the campuses that ultimately results in the political exposure of the students, which further produces internal tensions between the political and apolitical tendencies found in almost every such structure operating in the students’ space. A progressive BSO must ally itself with the political tendencies within such student committees and councils to fight depoliticization of campuses, a process that aims at weakening the political power of the students and by extension the masses.
Along with fighting the internal structures of exploitation, it also becomes a historical responsibility of BSO to not only condemn social exclusion on the grounds of gender, race, ethnicity and religion, but also to fight such reactionary tendencies that divide the students and the masses and diminish their political role. The exclusion of women from political process, or their conditional inclusion particularly concerns students’ politics. Such patriarchal norms of politics are deeply rooted in the social and political structures, which are continually being reproduced by the nationalist political parties. They tend to keep women’s role defined and dominated by the male leadership. A progressive BSO should not only condemn the anti-women norms in the social and political structures but should also fight the challenges of patriarchy through institutional means by introducing alternative structures that provide the students to play their historical role irrespective of their gender identity.
The struggle against exploitation based on national identity, class, race, ethnicity, gender or religious beliefs is a collective fight that needs to be fought alongside the subjugated masses in their own space as much as in the collective political field. Students being one of the most dynamic political force of the society must organize on progressive lines within their campuses and join the masses in their struggle for emancipation.
BSO existing in multiple parallel structures collectively forms the students’ political space in Baloch society. The influence of reactionary nationalist forces in the form of their students-wings could not completely subdue the progressive essence of the students’ political space, neither the induced depoliticization of nationalism and students’ politics could prevent the formation of organic progressive political structures. The resurgence of progressive structures within the students’ politics in the form of a Marxist BSO is the result of the contradictions existing between the progressive, revolutionary tendencies, and the reactionary hegemons. It is our historical task, as Baloch students, to lead a revolutionary political process to resolve that contradiction by strengthening the progressive essence of the students’ space and by restoring BSO in its organic state: as the independent nursery of progressive politics in Baloch society.
Note: This article is written as a conclusion of a debate by Balochistan Marxist Review team on revival of progressive politics in Balochistan.