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The Overdeveloping State the Politics of Common Sense in Pakistan, 1971-2007

The Overdeveloping State the Politics of Common Sense in Pakistan, 1971-2007

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Published by Usman Ahmad
This is the PhD thesis of Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Assistant Professor at Quaid-eAzam University, Islamabad.
Abstract: 'Hamza Alavi's groundbreaking study of the 'overdeveloped' post-colonial state represented the first major attempt in the Marxist tradition to capture the specificity of the post-colonial historical experience. Alavi's empirical focus was Pakistan, but sadly the majority of the literature dealing with the state in the Pakistani context has tended to engage with Alavi's theoretical formulation in a very descriptive manner. This thesis is an attempt to address this gap within the literature.'
This is the PhD thesis of Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Assistant Professor at Quaid-eAzam University, Islamabad.
Abstract: 'Hamza Alavi's groundbreaking study of the 'overdeveloped' post-colonial state represented the first major attempt in the Marxist tradition to capture the specificity of the post-colonial historical experience. Alavi's empirical focus was Pakistan, but sadly the majority of the literature dealing with the state in the Pakistani context has tended to engage with Alavi's theoretical formulation in a very descriptive manner. This thesis is an attempt to address this gap within the literature.'

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Published by: Usman Ahmad on Aug 10, 2012
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08/24/2013

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The Overdeveloping State:
The politics
of
common sense in Pakistan, 1971-2007
Aasim Sajjad AkhtarSubmitted to the School
of
Oriental and African StudiesUniversity
of
Londonfor the degree
of
PhD
1
 
DECLARATION
I declare that the work presented here is solely my own,and that no other individual or group has had any part inthe writing
of
this thesis.Aasim Sajjad Akhtar28 April 2008
2
 
Abstract
Hamza Alavi's groundbreaking study
of
the 'overdeveloped post-colonial staterepresented the first major attempt in the Marxist tradition to capture the specificity
of
the post-colonial historical experience. Alavi's empirical focus was Pakistan, butsadly the majority
of
the literature dealing with the state in the Pakistani context hastended to engage with Alavi's theoretical formulation
in
a very descriptive manner.This thesis is an attempt to address this gap within the literature.I identify the major shortcomings
of
Alavi's treatise, namely the static conception
of
structure that underlies his understanding
of
the overdeveloped state, as well as thederivative conception
of
the 'superstructure'. I emphasise the need to think about theunique attributes
of
the political and cultural spheres
of
social structure as rigorouslyas the economic sphere. In attempting to build upon Alavi's basic insights I engagewith various literatures, including civil-military relations and anthropological studies
of
the 'everyday' state. However my primary theoretical inspiration remains theMarxist tradition, and specifically Antonio Gramsci's ideas
of
hegemony, historicalbloc, and common sense. With this Gramscian foundation I construct a thoroughlyhistoricized theory
of
the post-colonial state that departs from the functionalist view
of
an 'underdeveloped' society implicit in the 'overdeveloped' state formulation.Starting with a brief overview
of
the colonial period, I map the dialectical relationshipbetween the accumulation
of
power and capital whilst also emphasizing the need tounderstand the logic
of
practice in the wider society. In the final analysis, I argue thatthe Alavian military-bureaucratic oligarchy and the three propertied classes remaindeeply entrenched within the Pakistani polity but that there have also been qualitativeadditions to the ruling coalition, namely the intermediate classes and the religiopolitical movements/clerics. The latter two have become part
of
the ruling coalition,or 'historical bloc', in the aftermath
of
the populist period that ended with the deposal
of
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977.Indeed I contend that the two new members
of
the historical bloc have been crucial topreventing the reemergence
of
popular politics
in
the post-Bhutto period bycultivating personalised patronage ties with the subordinate classes. This is what Ihave termed the 'politics
of
common sense', and this legitimation
of
oligarchic rule'from below' is the qualitative addition to Alavi's theory.
3

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