In part one, I said that a real change is about economic equality of all human beings, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity or nationality. In essence, it means: end of this huge income disparity and accumulated wealth, equal access to and right of all people over all that is produced or contained in this land and what is made in this world. This is the recipe for a truly egalitarian society - a society we can be proud of as human beings. In part two, I will try to outline a plan of action towards building such a society.
Today, when technological advances have made human labour almost redundant, isn’t it criminal to submit people to hard labour for 10-14 hours a day, sometimes under harsh physical and emotional conditions? Should food, medicine, education and other human necessities be reduced to the level of commodities to be sold for profit, rather than fulfilling human need? Do we want the kind of world where money and power is concentrated in the hands of a few? These are ethical questions, not merely material ones.
People have dreamed of a just and fair world all through the ages and many philosophers have debated about this. Plato’s “Republic”, Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” and Rousseau’s “Social Contract” were expressions of the same desire. Then in the nineteenth century, Karl Marx presented the concept of scientific socialism and wrote “Communist Manifesto”. He traced the origin of class-based society to the beginning of ownership of private property, which worsened with the onset of capitalism. He said: “The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggle.” Thus, saying that capitalism was the root cause of the problem. He presented socialism as an alternative. The fact that his ideas have been distorted is a topic for another day.
The progress made in the past few centuries supports the argument that an egalitarian world is not only possible, but also destiny of humanity. For example, though once an accepted way of life - will anyone support buying and selling of human beings today? Women have achieved rights that were unthinkable up to early twentieth century, even though they still have a long way to go. Who, today, in their right mind will advocate the cruelty of making young children work for 10-14 hours a day in factories, which was once a fact of life? And the dogma that king's authority and distribution of wealth and social status are ordained by God has become laughable. These examples tell us that many ideas, which were considered “truths” of the day, are obsolete now. Similarly, the belief that inequality is a “fact” and equality is “utopia” will be dumped in the dustbin of history one day.
These examples also reveal another truth: this progress could not have been possible without a long and hard struggle by the masses. It materialised only when people became conscious of the injustices being handed out to them and realised their power to change things that they took matters in their own hands. So, the only way forward is through a grassroots movement. Of course, it will be naive to think that it will be a smooth upward journey. For every step up, there may be two down.
So, where do we start? That is where the election 2013 gives us some hope. People of Pakistan have had enough; they are waking up and beginning to exercise their power. They have removed many of the old corrupt, non-performing politicians and parties. They should be congratulated for that. And then, there is the new generation, though small in numbers yet, which is energised and politically conscious, with required skills, resources and education to do whatever they want if they put their mind to it. There is a need to harness this energy and enthusiasm in the right direction. In order to be successful, they will have to connect with all the oppressed segments of population, which is the majority of people, understand their problems and then enlist them as allies. A sustainable change can only be brought about when the masses are behind it.
The first step is to bring this discussion in the public discourse; clearly articulate our vision for change; list the ingredients of an egalitarian society. Then, we have to critically analyse the capitalist system. People have to understand how this system exploits the workers and other weaker segments of population. There cannot be a “compassionate” or “ethical” capitalism.
Capitalists have no choice, but to follow the system to maintain their control or they will become its victims. Thus, the problem lies within the system and unless it is completely rooted out, there can be no relief. Making some alterations here and there will not work.
One crucial thing to remember is that capitalism is not just a national but an international problem. Thus, the solution has to be international also. This will be the biggest challenge. Any effort to change the system will face resistance in the name of nationalism, religion, ethnic bonds, etc. The beneficiaries of this system are powerful, resourceful and organised and will defend it with all their might.
To counter that, it is essential for the people to overcome their prejudices and superficial man made differences. Think about it. Does it matter to a bonded family whether its owner is Muslim or Hindu? Does it matter to a peasant, working in the fields under hot sun and torrential rains, whether the product of his blood and sweat will be exploited by a Pakistani or an Indian? Does it matter to a construction worker, who at the end of the day brings home bare minimum food, whether he lives on this or that side of the border? Does it matter to a mother, who loses her child due to lack of medicine, which country she belongs to? Don't people change their nationalities for various reasons all the time? Even the concept of nation state was fabricated by those who own and control the world resources and exploit the poor, directly or indirectly. However, the good news is that they are only a few in numbers.
Ultimately, like-minded people will have to join hands across all boundaries. We are already seeing that the people all over the world are waking up. They are ready to take charge. But they will have to unite, organise themselves and be steadfast in their struggle because it will surely not be easy. And people of Pakistan have to play their role. Of course, it is not going to be easy, but then nothing worthwhile is easy.
"I know that society may be formed so as to exist without crime, without poverty, with health greatly improved, with little, if any misery, and with intelligence and happiness increased a hundredfold; and no obstacle whatsoever intervenes at this moment, except ignorance to prevent such a state of society from becoming universal” (Robert Owen).

The writer is a practicing physician and resides in Florida. She is a founding member of Rise for Pakistan and International Youth Movement. She is a founding member and was the chairperson of the Human Development Foundation, and has served on the board of PAKPAC. She is also a life member of APPNA.