By: Dr Raza Khan

The present political sphere in Pakistan is marked by uncertainty, chaos, absence of ideology and dominance issue plus identity politics, blatant power struggle and supremacy of individuals than the group. The contours and dynamics of our political arena could typically be understood and analysed within the context of unwholesome postmodernist values that have pervaded into our political culture.

Postmodernism is a whole culture whose theories generally suggest an unmanageable subjectivity that could be problematic for our understanding of political phenomenon and the maintenance of a cohesive social system. However, simultaneously postmodernism is a potentially useful philosophical approach to understanding current political phenomena, such as the impact of globalisation on social relationships within a society, the behaviour of political actors and institutions, and so on.

Uncertainty and unpredictability has become the central feature of our contemporary political culture. Chaos is ubiquitous and this is evident from the recent Supreme Court decision on the Panamagate scandal. Every side is depicting the decision as its ‘victory’, while the decision itself is more connotative than denotative.

Today all of the major political parties as well as the smaller outfits do not have any ideological leanings and are dominated by a few individuals or a single family. None of these parties could be placed in any category of the political spectrum. All are engaged in a cut-throat competition, while the aim of the struggle, except a couple of leaders, is not to reform the system but to exploit it for personal aggrandisement.

The adoption and proliferation of unwholesome postmodernist values in our political culture is a dangerous trend. These values have started pervading our society, including the country’s political culture, without our society previously experiencing the various stages and values of modernism. Whereas the modernist values, which our society has not largely experienced include industrialisation, urbanisation, individualism and democratisation. The pervasion and gradual proliferation of postmodernist values into our social and political system is due to the phenomenal rise of information and communication media, specifically television. It is through TV that postmodernist values pervade and thrive within a society.

Postmodernists think that the perfect society, envisioned by different ideologies or ‘grand narratives’, could not be created and would not be either.

Therefore, it is best that individuals must create their own ‘perfect’ world through their ‘micro-narratives’ by concentrating all their energy to seek pleasure in every action they perform. Our contemporary political culture lacks ideology because the leaders and masses all know that no perfect society could be created. Leaders lack the capacity and dedication to create such a society, while the masses do not expect them to do so.

Therefore, both the leaders and the people are pursuing pleasure in their own way, leaders by engrossing in financial corruption and the masses by becoming passive spectators and indulging in consumerism.

The positive postmodernist values could not flourish so far in Pakistan, but gradually a change can be felt. People can live without ideologies but they cannot live without their immediate needs and issues addressed. Postmodernist thinkers argue that social reality is highly subjective and prone to abuses by powerful, self-serving elites, who use their power to help society construct dominant narratives about reality. Unfortunately, these grand narratives are used to oppress or enslave social minorities, non-elite workers, women and the poor, among others. This is still happening in Pakistan.

The unwholesome values of postmodernist culture have prevailed in Pakistan while the positive values have not, because alien cultural values and narratives interact with the dynamics of the social structure to create an impact. The interaction would continue and the impact of unwholesome postmodernist values on our political culture may exacerbate.