By Dr Saulat Nagi
The message of Faiz has met the same fate. By achieving a status of an icon, his image has become a standard-bearer of the existing reality and not something against it. He is discussed in symposia of elites owned by the expropriators who read his remarkable poetry filled with lyrics and enjoy the cadence of the language much beyond the place where misery multiplies. Faiz the poet of expropriated has lost in the dense fog of capital. Not that the subversive message in his poetry has eclipsed but the razor edge sharpness, his bitterness, and the content carrying rebellion, the destructive force has been assimilated only to become a delicacy of the society. The message is invalidated by the harmonising pluralism of the capitalist society, which absorbs all the contradiction and the truths as a unified entity.
When the tyranny of capitalism sent the Rosenberg couple to the death chair Faiz cried in agony. "Those who were killed in unlit pathways", expressed the anguish he was going through. "Do not ask me sweet heart, the love we had before"
Faiz, being a fellow traveller of Communist party treaded on every path beginning from imprisonment to exile and even suffered the scare of gallows. A threat of death is worse than the real death. With superb qualification, exquisite poetry and a western wife he could have lived a comfortable life. Instead, for a greater cause he and Ellis preferred to choose a life of suffering and pain. From a Journalist to a trade-union leader to a celebrity he went through all phases of life, savouring every kind of taste, finding his culmination as fully recognized champion of working class nearly all through the world. In his last days living in a tiny apartment he turned into man having a different sensitivity, a selfless ‘new man’ of Che Guevara full of hope and conviction for his ideas.
Faiz with whom we are coerced to be introduced today, was not a man of this category, the people who lived in his era knew him. My generation is extremely fortunate to have lived in romantic yet real times. The wind of freedom, freedom from alienated labour, was blowing from Indo-China, to Angola and South Africa. Soviet might was glowing with sizzling light. On the other hand, McCarthyism was taking heavy toll on the workers of the US; even the person of Einstein’s stature was not forgiven. Panther’s party was brutally crushed; Malcolm X was drenched in his own blood. Refusing to fight an unjust war Ali was sent to prison. Martin Luther King was killed in cold blood. America had gone berserk. It became an open-air asylum, a condition since then hasn’t changed or perhaps it was always the same.
When the tyranny of capitalism sent the Rosenberg couple to the death chair Faiz cried in agony. “Those who were killed in unlit pathways”, expressed the anguish he was going through. “Do not ask me sweet heart, the love we had before” clears every doubt about his conviction. He was a Marxist, and he remained so until his last breath. Today Faiz is promoted as an apostle of peace while he categorically denied any possibility of peace between the belligerent classes. My generation, which saw the glimpses of Guevara, welcomed Lin Baio and Liu Shaoqi, heard the victorious march of General Giap, the success story of Lumumba and his cold-blooded murder by the predator of the world and march of some ‘distorted’ kind of socialism from Cuba to Latin America is witness to the integrity of Faiz. We know his journey to Lebanon where he went to participate in the freedom struggle of the Palestinians. The hotel in which he stayed was bombed by the Israeli barbarians and it was a mere chance he wasn’t in it. How can we let this Faiz be stolen by those who barely are aware about his struggle? Remove the message of socialism and Faiz would be nothing more than a “little man” of Nietzsche.
Adorno has succinctly pointed out that “whatever has once been thought can be suppressed, forgotten, can vanish. But it cannot be denied that something of it survives”. “The ideological stages of the past would not be equated simply with stupidity and fraud... Though divested of the power they had in their contemporary setting, they would serve to cast light upon the current course of humanity. In this function, philosophy would be mankind’s memory and conscience, and thereby help to keep the course of humanity from resembling the meaningless round of the asylum inmate’s recreation hour” (Horkheimer). Faiz must be seen in the light of this philosophy which happens to be a Marxist truth and not in the glitter of gold in which he is being presented by all who claim to be his monopolists.
Dr Saulat Nagi is based in Australia and has authored books on socialism and history.