'Welfare systems are a result of the Russian Revolution'

Published: May 12, 2017
The Russian Revolution started with demonstrations against the war and the food supply shortages in Petrograd. PHOTO: AFP

The Russian Revolution started with demonstrations against the war and the food supply shortages in Petrograd. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: The welfare system in European countries is the result of the socialist revolution in Russia, said economist Dr Kaiser Bengali.

“We have the Red Revolution to thank for the workers’ support, childcare and healthcare we see today in Western European countries,” he added during a seminar, titled ‘Russian Revolution Centenary 1917-2017’ on Thursday at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist).

Dr Bengali said the exploitation of workers, peasants and the poor was the cause of the Russian Revolution of 1917, which overthrew the tsar’s autocratic rule.

“I’m proud to be a socialist,” stated Dr Bengali, terming socialism a ‘humane ideology’. He said the writings and thoughts of Karl Marx, the founder of the ideology, changed the world in a way no other social thought has done before.

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He believed that the condition of poor workers and peasants would have remained the same in developed countries if it were not for the Russian Revolution. “There are two Pakistans – one is for the elites and the other is for the poor and we all need to realise the conditions that resulted in the revolution in Russia in 1917 and compare those with the conditions in Pakistan today,” he said.

According to Dr Bengali, poverty is due to politics, not economics. The least we can do is raise our voices against the system, he said.

Szabist Dean of Social Sciences Dr Riaz Shaikh, the organiser of the seminar, remarked that the reason for hosting the seminar was that no one knew in his class what had happened in 1917 and half of the class failed to answer what the Russian Revolution even was. We have a lack of reading and basic understanding of global politics in Pakistan, he lamented.

According to Dr Shaikh, the rise of religious fundamentalism has made society not talk about core issues such as poverty and hunger.

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“The socialist revolution of 1917 had a long-term impact on global society and made the world we can see today,” he said, adding that it had an impact on world politics, economics and society.

Dr Haris Gazdar reiterated that the Russian revolution contributed to innovations such as nationalism, internationalism, struggle against colonialism and the birth of the Bolshevik Party, which came up with its organisational form.

Mahnaz Rehman of the Aurat Foundation said we need to fight patriarchy. She said only a revolution can resolve the issues of workers, peasants, students and women. “Marx’s teaching never failed. His ideas and thoughts will remain alive until the struggle between the poor and the rich is resolved,” she said.

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