From Potato Sack to Potato Mash: The Contemporary Crisis of the Third World by Eqbal Ahmad

A child servant rings the doorbell of his master’s house and runs away back into his servant quarter. This minute act of coercion is rather fit to be named as mischief than rebellion. Eqbal Ahmad, in his essay, From Potato Sack to Potato Mash: The Contemporary Crisis of the Third World, calls this retaliatory behavior against the benefice; a limbo, hanging between the idea of a revolution and an actual one. 

Born in Bihar in 1934, Eqbal Ahmad, today is remembered as an activist, a journalist and a theorist. His intellectual lore makes him still relevant today in several ways. A fierce opponent of imperialism, Eqbal Ahmed advocated democratic transformations in postcolonial and third-world societies. Known for his resistance discourse and unique research, Eqbal provides a hospice to the reader especially the one seeking solace in subjective history.

Quoting John Berger; a renowned academic, in this essay, Eqbal Ahmed unveils the façade of illusion created on the name of Westernization. The colonized states have indeed struggled to curb the heinous vendetta of Imperialism with massive movements of insurgency and peasant revolts. However, these movements undoubtedly failed, not because of a lack of effort but because of other several ubiquitous reasons of disharmony. In this process of decolonization, the sufferers unanimously tried to create rebels but couldn’t produce revolutionaries.

‘In the Third World today, history and technology have intensified and accentuated the injustices and tensions which, in pre-capitalist times produced peasant rebellions and millenarian movements. The social and political milieu which had, in the past, circumscribed discontent within the boundaries of religiosity and rebellion has been drastically altered’.

Today, to curtail the inherited animosity of imperialism, the Third World must first break the shackles of dualism, in their perception of the past as well as their future policies. The contour of a fragmented ideology is hindering the decolonial motives as well as the prosperity of the region. Instead of renovating, Eqbal Ahmed suggests the approach of overthrowing the inherited wisdom. Globally acknowledging and preaching resistance movements, he suggests an approach of self-support, breaking the universal lethargy of mashed potatoes from Karl Marx’s “sack of potatoes”. An indigenous effort with an ideology based on the principles of democracy is the possible salvation of the Third World especially in the resent scenario of a shambled past and abundant roasted rebellions.

Eqbal asserts with the prerogative of a learned man that the old logic of caution and propitiating the occult forces with prayers and rituals must ascend to a logic of daring to get rid of the imperative colonial baggage. A social transformation with minimum damage is a decisive battle that the Third World must fight with a unified ideology instead of the presently disintegrated outbreak. The political conscience of the revolting societies must adopt the demeanor prerequisite of fighting the Western loot mafia.

Eqbal Ahmad’s instinctive sentimentality in the remarkable vision of indigenizing historically and politically reflects his compassion for the victims of colonialism and proxy wars waged by the Imperials and the Cold War mongers. He remained a prodigious talker and lecturer throughout his 66 years life. A fierce and combatant theorist, he will be remembered as one of the most original, charismatic and shrewdest anti-imperialist, as quoted by Edward Said in The Guardian in May 1999, when Eqbal Ahmed passed away, leaving behind a legacy of wisdom and integrity in the cause of the oppressed people.

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Rida Akhtar Ghumman

An English Literature major trying to write about people, places and specially the roads she travels on. She is a strong coffee fan who paints in her spare time, usually portraits of the people she falls in love with. She is amazed at the tendency of the human heart, how it can love people despite the odds.
Rida Akhtar Ghumman

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