Students have historically played a fundamental role in the politics of post and semi-colonial countries. From Latin America to Africa, movements for national liberation, self-determination, and democracy had student movements at their forefront. Pakistan is no different in this regard. In fact, 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the momentous events of 1968, when Pakistani students initiated and led a movement which brought down the Ayub regime and introduced the image for a different kind of politics in the country, one pointing towards a society freed from the shackles of capitalism and imperialism, and its various neo-fundamentalist and religious millenarian reactions. In revolutionary history, the year 1968 holds almost the same significance as years like 1789 (French Revolution), 1791 (Haitian Revolution), 1871 (Paris Commune), 1917 (Soviet Revolution) and 1949 (Chinese Revolution). Emerging at the tail-end of post-war capitalism’s ‘Long Boom’ and the high era of anti-colonial national liberation movements, 1968 was a watershed moment in modern world history. Neither advanced capitalist democracies nor the Second or Third Worlds were left unaffected. The Tet offensive in Vietnam marked the most humiliating defeat of US imperialism while students and workers in Paris, Prague, and Mexico joined together to (almost) bring down their respective suffocating regimes. However, in hindsight, it was the student-led movement in Pakistan which was the most unambiguous and immediate success of the Long 1968. It is a travesty that this is often forgotten or deliberately misremembered in the many reckonings of 1968. In Pakistan, it was a moment when the contradictions of neo-colonial dependency, a decade of dictatorship and highly unequal development, and the suppression of youthful energies culminated in a crisis of the ruling classes which has seldom been witnessed since. And crucially, this crisis was shaped by a militant movement whose vanguard were the college and university students of East and West Pakistan. A people who cannot remember the past are rendered incapable of imagining the future Undoubtedly, these events raise questions about the outsized importance of students in the politics of (post)colonial countries like Pakistan. To shed light on the role of students in social change and politics, beyond merely moralistic appeals to democratic participation, we must delve into the structural conditions of the production of intellectuals in capitalist, and specifically (post) colonial societies. In his Prison Notebooks, the great Italian revolutionary and thinker, Antonio Gramsci reminds us that “all men (sic) are intellectuals (by virtue of thought and intellectual activity inhering in all sensuous activity)”, however “not all men have in society the function of intellectuals”. As such, intellectuals are defined as a function of their role and position in wider relations of production, i.e. with reference to their role in reproduction of the material and ideological totality of capitalist societies. In this regard, Gramsci distinguishes between organic and traditional intellectuals. Organic intellectuals are those concretely linked to the activities of an emergent or dominant social group. Thus, while organic intellectuals such as manager-level employees in banks and factories, themselves may not be part of said class/social group in their ownership (or lack thereof) of the means of production, they play a crucial role in organising the activities of that class, and shaping its role in the wider logic of state and capital. Traditional intellectuals, on the other hand, are those which are conventionally considered “intellectuals”. They are the religious scholars, university lecturers, media personalities, columnists, and scientists etc., who ensure the ideological and material reproduction of capitalist society. In fact, today’s traditional intellectuals were often organic intellectuals of yesterday’s emergent class/social group, who have now become institutionalised as traditional intellectuals by shaping the ideological (and material) contours of society as a whole. It is this task of maintaining organicity and ensuring overall reproduction, which gives traditional intellectuals their outsized importance in any transformative politics. This is especially true in (post-)colonial countries, where the imperative of native control and reproduction of the colonial state and economy, made the production of (colonised) traditional intellectuals one of the key tasks of Euro-American colonisers. Pedagogical institutions, as the sites par excellence for producing traditional intellectuals, become crucial grounds for reproducing the organicity of the social order and let student politics assumes an essential function in the wider body. As such, all revolutionary movements must bring on-board a section of the traditional intellectuals, in order to take advantage of their role in reproducing society’s vital functions for the building of a new hegemonic order. The struggles of the Bolsheviks and Lenin’s wooing of the (virulently anti-communist) Nobel Prize winner Ivan Pavlov are instructive in this regard. In Pakistan’s case, the fact that a student-led movement went beyond their own to join hands with workers and labour from different sectors, precipitating the greatest crisis ever faced by our ruling bloc, is not forgotten by our ruling classes. Today, we have an upsurge of students from FATA and Gilgit to Sindh (symbolised by the likes of Manzoor Pashteen and Sanaullah Aman) which threatens to disrupt the prevailing organicity of our decadent ruling bloc. Their utmost efforts in suppressing old alliances is reflected in the undeclared state of martial law and attendant immobilisation of students on our university and college campuses. In fact, lest we forget, the 11-point charter of the East Pakistan Students’ Committee of Action in 1968-69 — demanding democratisation of campuses, a non-aligned foreign policy, nationalisation/workers’ control of key sectors, and regional autonomy for Pakistan’s constituent units — remains the blueprint for any viable progressive political program in the country even today. History cannot be made, as Marx once reminded us, without conjuring up the spirits, the slogans and the garb of previous battles for making anew the present. The ruling classes suppress memory to make us prisoners of the present, and thus to foreclose possibilities for the future. A people which cannot remember the past are rendered incapable of imagining the future. On the 50th anniversary of 1968, it is our task to keep that memory alive not merely as sentimental remembrance, but as a resource to think about our present, to act for the future, to break the linearity of time dictated and imposed upon us from above. Remembrance and its activation in the present thus becomes a task of revolutionary significance. Our ruling classes have certainly not forgotten this. And neither should we. The writer is Visiting Faculty at Habib University, Karachi and a member of the Awami Workers Party Published in Daily Times, June 25th 2018.