“Political power,” Mao says, “grows out of the barrel of the gun”. It means that no one can fancy grabbing the political power without having access to guns to violence. Since every state owns these means it claims to have a monopoly over violence – considered legal, hence justified.Does it give the state a right to use these weapons at its whim? Those who hold the guns find one justification or another to use them. The irrationality of their logic does not impede the act but multiplies it. History bears testimony that these means of devastation were used more frequently and freely when peaceful options were still on the table. The idea is to accustom people to the culture of coercion. The process of this stylized barbarity does not remain limited to the sphere of labor but goes all the way to one’s hours of leisure. The violence in the media from obscene language to uncultivated behavior is a systematically planned move to dehumanize the human thought. Once accustomed to the cultural barbarity, people become immune to the brutality the totalitarian state wants to inflict upon them.The state stems from the concept of domination. Its main aim is to create a semblance of balance between the capital/capitalist and the labor/worker, which in its essence is self-contradictory, hence it has to resort to some form of coercion. Pakistani state is no exception but its tactics are different. Soon after partition, the ruling elite of Pakistan realized that the founding argument on which the state came into being does not offer a sufficient reason for its maintenance. To overcome the national question arising from various nationalities living in Pakistan, the Hobbesian pill of an overdosed Islam was considered, a hackneyed but face-saving remedy though Jinnah had flirted with both secularism and religion.It is fascinating to note that despite having a thorough knowledge of Bengali situation and old rivalry between Jinnah and Fazlul-Haq, the former opted to enforce Urdu upon those who long before partition had fought to secure their national language as their identity. From that moment onwards, coercion became the cornerstone of the national policy – toppling of provincial governments, incarceration of people as traitors and street battles against political opponents as subversive agents became a routine. No one learns from history, hence condemned to repeat it – a tragedy unique to history. The massacre in Bengal, the persistent warfare against Baloch, and the devastation brought upon Pashtuns – first through an imported jihad and later by denial of their rights – was probably still not enough. The state has now launched a crackdown on unarmed people agitating for their basic rights. Brutality has no religion; once it tastes blood it does not stop until it vanquishes or is vanquished.In the historical context, every struggle, regardless of its name, is a class struggle. It can be as distorted and regressive as the one led by the Taliban who are fighting under the banner of religion or it can be a national struggle for freedom from a hegemonic power or an emancipatory Marxist struggle for freedom of humanity from the might of capitalism. In all these struggles, one objective remains common – economic freedom. That is, freedom from a base life with the specter of scarcity and shadows of uncertainty lurking around. In the historical context, every struggle, regardless of its name, is a class struggle. It can be as distorted and regressive as the one led by the Taliban who are fighting under the banner of religion or it can be a national struggle for freedom from a hegemonic power or an emancipatory Marxist struggle for freedom of humanity from the might of capitalismIt is interesting to note that in recent times whenever the Pakistani establishment created an artificial force to curb a genuine class movement, not only did it fail to undermine the latter but the former in its dialectical relationships with the state too found itself struggling to attain the same objectives through circuitous way. The state ends up fighting a double- edged sword, the one that people snatch from the establishment and the other provided by the state to its auxiliary force which now has turned against its mentor.In Pakistan, class contradictions have reached its acme and so has the state coercion. The complex the economic crisis becomes the stronger the national question will be. Since the largest province dominates the superstructure, it is easier for other nationalities to pinpoint the source of injustice. It is an unfortunate situation since the majority of people in the dominant province are equally oppressed. Yet it does not absolve the common people of the dominant province from their responsibility of joining hands with the oppressed communities to fight a final battle with the oppressor. The battle is underway. The lines are drawn. Unarmed non-conformists are lining on one side and a totalitarian state with its might on the other. In the line of fire are the innocent protestors. Barring the show of might and terror a state can go to pulverize its people there is nothing new in the tragedy of Sahiwal where a thirteen-year-old girl with her parents was slain in blatant violation of every law and the killers went scot-free. The lynching of Mashal was a message conveyed to the progressive forces to mind their limits. A year earlier Naqeeb’s murder and now Arman-Luni’s death allegedly a ‘target killing’ by police are violent attempts to bridle the nascent progressive forces demanding their basic rights.A break has occurred. People “are reduced to that frankness, which no longer tolerates complicity (Marcuse). “Where can you scream, it is a serious question, where can you go in the society and scream?” The question posed by Laing remained hanging in long the air for when “sufferings become unendurable cries are no longer heard” (Brecht). Those who have lived to the point of tears have morphed their cries into a refusal, “their very existence has become an act of rebellion” (Camus).“Justice”, Sartre says, “is a human issue and I do not need any God to teach it to me”. “Humanity will need another blood bath to abolish many of these injustices,” Gramsci heralds “and then it will be too late for the rulers to be sorry they left the horde in that state of ignorance and savagery they enjoy today”.Times have changed, and people are not prepared to listen “to the reason of those who possess most tanks” and consider themselves “rational enough to build them” while demanding the people to “be rational enough to yield to them” (Horkheimer). People have realized that “If life exists on the other side of despair” now is the time to seek the other side.While writing the obituary of the missing persons and the ones losing their lives in the struggle against infernal living conditions, for those pointing the barrel of guns Fanon has this advice: “in the time of helplessness”, he says, “murderous rampage becomes the collective unconscious of the colonized”. “Beware”, Sartre warns, “we have sown the wind”, they are “hurricane”. It seems they have realized “the secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life, is to live dangerously”. They are making sure, as they offer their lives, that their battle cry reaches to some receptive ears and some other hands reach out to take up the fluttering flag of their struggle.In writing their obituary, beware, we may not be writing our own swan song as once we wrote in Bengal, in our former eastern wing.Published in Daily Times, February 12th 2019.