Militarist Obama and Corporate Nobel: Peaceful Partnership

Saswat Pattanayak

There simply need not be any elements of surprise or shock at Barack Obama receiving Nobel Peace Prize. Almost every year, this award has been granted to neoliberal policy brokers otherwise known as liberals, social democrats, or simply the firm believers in Eurocentric democratic ethos that can be ruthlessly applied on lesser countries via doublespeaks. Obama joins Ahtisaari, Gore, Dae-jung, Trimble, Belo, Walesa, Robles, Esquivel, Begin, Sakharov, Sato, Cassin, Kissinger, Wilson, etc., as the latest torchbearer of the most overrated award in the human history.

Liberal media are attributing his win to moments in anticipation, while conservatives are yet to get over the shock. However, Obama is absolutely worthy of winning the prize and he must be congratulated for the same as a regular recipient of this insipid achievement. Even a cursory look at past few winners should indicate that Obama’s prize perfectly fits.

Last year’s winner, Martti Ahtisaari was almost a NATO agent who worked tirelessly as an anti-communist and aspired to end Finland’s neutrality through his fetishized versions of a corporate Finland as a prosperous Finland.

The year before, Al Gore – a dubious champion of environmental hanky-panky that has no pragmatic basis but plenty of populist boasts with an ability to marry corporate america with Zionist media lobby received the award. Gore’s multi-billion dollar campaigners have been chiefly free market champions who “reformed” Soviet Union and infamous money launderers such as Howard Glicken, Nate Landow and terrorist Rabbi Meir Kahane.

When Kim Dae-jung won the award, he was known as a firmly indoctrinated champion of capitalism, and a tireless communicator in the process of introducing “democracy” in North Korea, the kind of diplomatic talks which can bring down socialistic systems rather smoothly.

David Trimble, a Protestant leader from Ireland hell bent to punish Sinn Fein, the left-wing political wing of the IRA has also been an obvious choice. Comparable to him was a previous winner Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, a Roman Catholic bishop appointed to rid East Timor of the last of its radical strands. As though Portuguese occupation was not enough, an illegal encroachment of the country via NATO-backed Indonesia was to be done to eliminate the communists. After its successful atrocities, Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta have become the human face to the “peaceful” interventions in the lives of indigenous peoples through religious pacifications. The peoples can no more demand for reparations in a religious colony.

Lech Walesa, a pronounced reactionary leader in Poland organizing trade unions against the communists, received Nobel merely for such attempts. Alfonso García Robles collaborated with the nuclear powers in order to promote a non-nuclear zone for Latin America without demanding nuclear dismantling of the West. Nobel Peace Prize has traditionally been conferred upon non-agitating peaceniks who like much of social democrats, do not wish to alter the equation of the privileged while ensuring limitations for the oppressed. Dangerous tools are safe in the hands of the mafia, and very dangerous in the hands of the commoners. Nobel prize committees have year after year acknowledged this colonial notion.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, another product of Christian missionary position of effecting changes without revolutions- changes as feeble as conversion to a dogmatic religion, was an illustrious winner. Even as vocally opposed to wars and policies led down by the kinds of Bush, the Nobel Peace winners are not the ones who even address the root causes of wars – class conflicts – and have acutely selective memories when it comes to linking the Church with perpetuation of bourgeois wars.

Menachem Begin, a zionist militarist who launched massive attacks against Iraq and Lebanon even before anyone witnessed Gulf Wars was another perfect winner. One of the biggest war maniacs in recent history, he was the architect of Begin Doctrine, way more vicious than any unofficial Bush doctrines the peaceniks have resented.

Andrei Sakharov, an exaggerated dissident who in the peak of cold war was perhaps so oblivious of American expansions that he created a stir through his advocacy in support of the imperialistic intentions; and immediately was conferred Nobel Peace Prize.

Yet another winner was Eisaku Sato, a reactionary conservative collaborator of Japanese-American interests, the principal opponent to Communist China’s recognition as a UN member, and a prime donor to Taiwanese causes. Here was another classic example of a liberal crony of the routine violators of international sovereign policies.

In previous years, René Cassin, chief legal advisor to Charles de Gaulle has won this coveted award, as has George Marshall. Marshall, the post-war propagandist was instrumental in implanting market economies in communist Europe through bribing, investing and coercing.

Albert Schweitzer’s racist stances on African peoples were well known when he won the Nobel Peace for his White Man’s burdens. So was Woodrow Wilson, a racist, segregationist president whose life was marked by pursuance of the American doctrine of imperialism and global hegemony.

Lesser said the better it is about Henry Kissinger, his pronounced hatred for Third World solidarity movements and his war-mongering. If Cold War achieved demise of Communistic alliances globally, it was done through the only weapons the capitalists know of: money, diplomacy and religion. The role of Nobel Peace Committee in converting the interventionists to heroes and legitimizing their methods of covert propaganda operations is unparalleled.

If Dalai Lama through soothing words of peace and spirituality attempted to undermine a peoples’ republic and won the awards through relegating Tibet into ancient conservative times, then it should not surprise anyone why F.W. de Klerk also won on behalf of South Africa. “Non-violence” in our times of global capitalism translates to unconditional surrender on part of the agitating masses to a reformed society. The reforms must take place within the overarching designs of the former colonial masters. Aung San Suu Kyi is another instance of a revolutionary whose limits have been set by Washington DC.

Since the inception of Nobel Peace Prize, an overwhelming majority of the awards have gone to pronounced anti-communists, masquerading as “reformers”. Mikhail Gorbachev is the brightest instance. Second largest category is the Christian religious saints, bishops and preachers. Goes without saying, their roles have been exemplarily complimenting the “pacifist” reformers. Wherever there was communistic presence, the Christian values needed to be imported there to sabotage peoples’ movements. West Bengal in India is a case in point, where Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had to deserve Nobel Peace Prize through its covert operations of religious conversion, selective care and influence upon CIA-backed dictators in Africa. Communists are bound to agitate the hungry against their class exploiters, but the Saints pacify the hungry through capitalistic charity funds. Who wins the Nobel Peace is anyone’s guess.

Around the time when revolutionary spirits in Latin America was sky-high and Che’s dreams of unifying the region was slowly gaining grounds, Nobel Committee chose Oscar Arias Sánchez who through smooth means, implemented neoliberal economic policies in Costa Rica.

The last category of Nobel Peace Prize winners have great affinity with Zionist causes. The brightest scholar here is Elie Wiesel – the man with the irresponsible claims on the “uniqueness of Holocaust” and one infamous for downplaying or flatly refusing to acknowledge that other genocides caused by the Nazis have any comparable significance. Speaking of Israelis, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were certainly not the exceptions.

Deconstruction of “Peace” in Nobel Prize and Lenin Prize:

With so many hardcore militarists (Wilson, Kissinger, Begin, Sato, etc.,) winning Nobel Peace Prize, not to mention scores of illustrious supporters of the aggressive Euro-American bloc during Cold War, how exactly is “Peace” defined by the wise committee?

Nobel jurists further the Eurocentric views of the world and they should not be blamed for it. After all, the people of color, the oppressed people in majority of the world did not have the financial means to combat the advertorial impacts of the aura surrounding this prize. For instance, Lenin Peace Prizes have been awarded to freedom fighters against colonial masters in many African and Asian countries, but the relevance of that great award has never been highlighted as part of collective historical knowledge.

Lenin Peace Prize, that truly revolutionary recognition of the people who strived to bring peace among nations has been relegated to obscurity through sheer exhibitionism on part of the European capitalists disguising themselves under the banner of Nobel. The sheer magnitude of diversity among the winners of Lenin Peace Prize, their roles in dismantling of colonial powers, and their relentless struggles on the sides of the oppressed are testimony to the true acknowledgment of what constitutes peace.

There is a rejoice among people of color upon the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Barack Obama. That is just and proper. But what escapes media attention is the fact that Nobel Prizes have been racist awards ever since their inceptions. Not a single black person has won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Physics or Medicine. Out of a total of 789 Nobel Prizes conferred thus far, only 11 have been awarded to black people. Out of these 11, one was an economist, three were laureates, and as many as 8 were pacifists!

How does it so happen that whereas black accomplishments are overlooked in every field of life by the colonial powers, they happen to be so useful when it comes to recognizing their peaceful conducts? How is it that the oppressed are awarded not for their agitations, but for their accommodations?

Quite naturally so. Nobel Prizes have been Eurocentric mechanisms to brand those people as the greatest human beings on the planet, that dutifully submit to the whims of colonial and imperial powers. Those people who have put their acts together to intervene in revolutionary situations with their negotiating skills to prevent escalation of class wars. These are the people who have pronounced that the exploiters and the exploited can and must live together in harmony with the class divisions remaining intact. Nobel Prizes are granted to those chosen few among the minorities that have a greater impact over the masses compared to their revolutionary counterparts.

There should not be any surprises. Nobel Prizes are offered by the Royalists, the status quo upholders, the deniers of class society. Their construction of “peace” is determined through their worldview, which comprises the refusal for a replacement of unjust world order, and strong resentment at revolutionary forces. Barack Obama’s win is the most natural continuation of Nobel Peace Prize tradition. Peace in Nobel Prize tradition is capitalistic utopia. In the realist world, peace can prevail only through equitable redistribution of privileges. Capitalism simply cannot accept that. Hence, peace itself has to be redefined.

Contrasted to that, majority of Lenin Peace Prizes were granted to people of color, and a huge majority of them were agitators. These were true proponents of peace for the peoples in the world. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Angela Davis (USA), Samora Machel (Mozambique), Agostinho Neto (Angola), Paul Robeson (USA), Ahmed Sékou Touré (Guinea), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), W. E. B. Du Bois (USA) were some of the leading freedom fighters against colonialism. Lenin Peace Prizes were also awarded to Pablo Picasso (Spain), Brazil’s Jorge Amado, Saifuddin Kitchlew (India), Pablo Neruda (Chile), Bertolt Brecht (East Germany), Thakin Kodaw Hmaing of Burma, Nicolás Guillén of Cuba, Lázaro Cárdenas of Mexico, Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Modibo Keïta of Mali, Aruna Asaf Ali (India), Kamal Jumblatt of Lebanon, Salvador Allende of Chile, Lê Duẩn of Vietnam, Miguel Otero Silva of Venezuela, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Mikis Theodorakis of Greece, and Abdul Sattar Edhi of Pakistan, among many other undisputed champions of human liberty. When Nelson Mandela was awarded Lenin Peace Prize in 1990, his legacy was not insulted by getting him to share the stage with F.W. de Clark.

In the world revolutionary histories, there are heroes, and there are sycophants. There are radical activists who march on without awaiting an award, and there are naive moderates that fall into grander schemes of manipulated dictums. In its truest sense, Nobel Peace Prize has never been awarded to peace activists barring on a couple of occasions. One worthy winner was Linus Pauling of the United States. The second one was Le Duc Tho of Vietnam. Like another radical Jean-Paul Sartre, Le Duc Tho too, had refused to accept Nobel Prize. Sartre refused to bring glory to racist France, and Le Duc refused to accept the prize at the same terms as Kissinger and to share the stage with him.

Nobel Peace Prize, in reality is an apologist for, and celebration of continued Eurocentric imperialism. Obama is the latest one to have been “humbled”. Amidst his militarist interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, through his announcements for larger US troops for invasions and bigger budget to feed the military-industrial complex, the Nobel committees have yet again perpetuated a reactionary definition of peace. In their world of successes and achievements, they have merely crowned their King.

Revolutionary May Day Greetings!

Saswat Pattanayak

Relevance of this day never was greater than it is today – as a celebration of collective human progress, as a reminder of historic labour struggles, as an occasion to reaffirm class allegiance with the working poor, and the majority strugglers.

Not an allegiance to exploitative ruling class demarcations of geographical boundaries drawn and redrawn through manipulative gestures of status-quo diplomacy. Not an allegiance to standards of academic, material, knowledge society thus distinguished and rewarded by the handful corporate czars to effectively facilitate their spheres of influence. Not an allegiance to normative philosophies of spiritual and religious practices aimed at bringing calm and internal peace through aggrandizing state of ignorance, indifference and ineptitude.

An allegiance to organized human labour necessarily requires obliterations of several convenient divisions mapped thus by the ruling class combines, while recreating new necessary ones.

Class allegiance in action must uproot the notions of purity attached with the cultural high-handedness in the form of canonic texts, classical arts and holy scriptures. Owing to lack of time from life’s labour, indulging in critical reflections on societal upbringings often becomes impossible or inadequate. As a result, the majority’s thought processes of any time are mostly conditioned by the simplistically offered explanations of recognized experts, not reshaped through rigorous testing by the self of acquired knowledge and incidental experiences. Such a propensity towards contentment by not subjecting oneself to question the foundations of belief systems helps maintain the glorification of cultural produces that puts the peoples in their oppressed places: that is, at the level of passive observers.

Authoritative texts irrespective of how patriarchal, discriminative and violent they are – all religious scriptures fall into this category – are passively consumed as holy and irrefutable. Ongoing texts of necessary collective resistance do not find a publishing house or a review on the mainstream liberal media. Classical as well as postmodern arts depicting both the royal past and confused future are heralded as containing “high” artistic value, while realist arts depicting peoples revolutions in the past or existing organized working class movements are discarded as socialist propaganda. Labour union songs, films portraying human labour as protagonist, and books about organized revolutionary history are forced out of circulation. If elite culture is limited to incomprehensible museums, popular culture is defined in terms of vulgar exhibits of indiscriminate media consumption. After dumbing down people through trivia overloads, they are praised for being free to choose what works best for their lives. After conditioning popular thoughts through uncritical materials, subjects are offered options to choose – between Coke and Pepsi, Disney and James Bond, McCain and Obama, Drama and Romance, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres, Rock and Pop. Choices vary only by degrees, because they simply cannot vary by kind. Such wide array of similar choices offered by corporate greed must necessarily be a substitute for the limited options necessary for establishment of a classless society. They cannot be supplements.

Classical/postmodern and socialist/realist choices cannot co-exist harmoniously. In their realized state, the monumental and fundamental conflicts must surface. Just as haves and the have-nots cannot co-exist peacefully. In their emancipated states, revolutionary struggles must take over. Political systems that claim otherwise and preach possibility of peaceful coexistence between economically disparate classes merely work overtime to deceive their subjects through propagandist media which conveniently redefine economic classes (hence, a creation of “Middle Class”) and reposition boundaries of dissent by forming among themselves mutually respecting groups of liberals and conservatives – as a result, annihilating the possibility of communistic discourse around property relations.

Political systems such as these – the wide array of “Democracies” rule over a comfortably numb, blissfully ignorant, uncritically religious, and eternally grateful mass of people who are preached the merits of self-centric career growth, domestic peace and personal saving accounts over the high costs they cause – endless cycles of poverty, unemployment, lack of healthcare, absence of socially relevant education, continuation of escalated wars, and unquestioned acceptance of accumulation of private wealth as a necessary virtue. This hegemonist worldview not only widens its own sphere but in the process closes the alternatives. As a result, individual comforts take precedence over collective good and external aggression is justified in the name of internal peace. The wealthy section is heralded as deserving, the poor as resulting high-crime neighborhoods. The rich are rewarded with tax-breaks and bank loans while the poor are condemned to be credit-unworthy and liabilities. The true majority comprising the working class is treated as a minority when it comes to effecting administrative changes, policies governing education, house ownerships, business labour practices and environmental concerns. The true minority consisting of the historically privileged and their recent elite cronies express and install the legislations that suit their interest while masquerading them as national interests. Hence the president of a given country declares wars in these times under the advice of the friendly military-industrial lobby without taking into account the interest of majority of people in the world. What is worse, the majority of people are in fact attributed as the ones who wanted to go to war in the first place. After all, in the democracies – the system where the leaders are elected by virtue of how much money they have gathered – people deserve the kind of government they elect. Since people have exercised their voting options – no matter how uninformed they were kept in their choices not just to vote one leader or the other but about their stance on the process of farcical elections themselves – the leaders carry out most heinous of acts relegating the consequences of responsibilities to the masses.

Under the conditioned pretense of being active deciders of their destinies, people support their elected heads in all unfortunate decisions – just as inside houses the children do not question their reactionary parents, students do not confront their ignorant teachers, followers do not challenge their religious preachers. In effect, narratives of socioeconomic history are authoritative when they speak through the ruling class lenses. Students grow curiosity about the hairstyles and handbags of the First Ladies of White House, than pose critical questions concerning the reason why their own working mothers toil so hard and yet feel they do not deserve the similar treatments as the rich presidential wives or their corporate guests at grand banquets. A “free” society based on rhetoric of individual liberty suffers from being inherently an unfree, ignorant, selfishly passive one. Women are defined by gender roles prescribed to them by men. Their loyalty is defined in terms of how much of the body they cover, and their freedom is defined in terms of how much of the body they expose. From their menstrual cycles to pregnancy months, their status as workers is defined as a liability by norm and disability by law. When the entire workforce strives to accentuate the greedy private capitalist bank accounts, the sense of contribution to societal developments is felt through the merciful charities – disguised as tax evasions – of rich individuals, and through painfully slow legislations of judicial systems that offer drops of justice from time to time. Legal amendments to grant freedoms to minorities – that conveniently divided group of oppressed world majority – offer quotas in lowly paid jobs in form of so-called affirmative actions and reservations. Not as reparations to the historic damages.

Demands for reparations lead to revolutions. Revolutions are prevented by means of granting of charities. Status quo of the privileged is maintained through shedding of material grants, and guilt, from their surplus. World Bank loans and grants to the landless in the world is an act of charity on behalf of the greedy bankers, financiers who put their poster-boys at the helm of political power just to prevent any step toward reparations. In these days as always in the past, private bankers help their political weapons to rule over the people. They do so by granting credits and loans to people for essential needs that otherwise should be taken care of by the governments. Instead, availing of housing, healthcare and education facilities are privatized in order to keep people debt-ridden throughout their lives. Debts and interests accrued on them create a majority population that is unable to conceptualize the demands of reparations. On a May Day today it is only important to note that Bank of America which has received billions of taxpayers money not only spends them for its own profit motives by pursuing a credit war on the hapless consumers; it also lets the CEO Ken Lewis receive $35 million salary in the past two years; and what is worse, it fires thousands of employees who cannot avail of the so-called Employees Free Choice Act – yet another false promise from the American President Obama, known better as the lasting friend of the corrupt banks.

It is not enough to say the economic class war on majority of world’s peoples is an indictment for the freedom and equality envisaged for our world. Indeed, it is only natural that in order to keep the world unfree and unequal, it is important that the economic class war waged by the rich upon the poor continues in this manner. For the ruling class of individualistic corporate, political, judicial, academic, religious profiteers who assume the world does not need revolutionary replacements whereby they must be prepared to give up their private houses, businesses and mansions, it is necessary for them to continue exploiting people – directly and indirectly- by preaching peace while waging war, teaching lies while educating the youths, celebrating private properties while pretending to be moral and religious.

Those of us who must realign or strengthen our class allegiances with the oppressed and the exploited, must sympathetically understand why the ruling class does what it is doing. Only then can we unite together to transcend barriers and divisions instilled among us by the exploiters and empathetically revolt for the classless society that we strive for. May Day is an occasion to stop wondering in surprise. Only yet another day we need to rise above and beyond the divisions. And working class must still continue to unite even more and reach out to those workers who have doubts choosing which side they must be on.

Laal Salaam!

An Open Letter to President Obama: Against the Rhetoric of Hope

Saswat Pattanayak

Dear President Obama,

I hope you truly emerge as the hope you have claimed yourself to be.

A hope for the ordinary people, who have believed in your promises of change and cried tears of joy upon your election.

A hope that will let the likes of Bernard Madoffs to face trial and be sent to jail, not left to enjoy house arrest at his comfortable multi-million-dollar penthouse, while, need I mention, thousands of young people of colour languish as under-trial prisoners of the industrial complex you are going to chair, a couple of days from now.

A hope that will finally help you decide whether or not you will cancel the series of billion-dollar extravaganzas that have been planned to herald your taking up a position of responsibility to serve, not rule. At a time when the world is reeling under economic depression a hope that you shall declare these scums of earth – those that are spending $50,000 a ticket to get a favoured seat at the ceremony to crown you – as your enemies, not friends.

A hope that you will finally advise your celebrity fans – the multimillionaire friends – that an election to a post is merely incidental, not phenomenal enough, to demand rhetoric like “Anything is possible in America – the greatest country on earth”. And that bunch of Hollywood celebrities may also be advised to root out the trees that hide their mansions from public purview so that people can get a view of how stinking, parasitical, gluttons the so-called commercial artists really are, living in the richest boulevards and inspiring the rest of the nation to become like them – almost in a pattern of dark humor.

A hope that you will rid yourself of the comparisons with Dr Martin Luther King, because unlike you he never would claim today that your election proves in any form, kind or shape that America has suddenly become intelligent or free, or both, in selecting its leader. He would never have accepted funds from Wall Street and Zionist lobbyists. He would never have accepted corporate media favors. He would never have remained silent at Israeli atrocities on Palestine. Unlike you, Dr King would not have claimed America has no colour lines just because two clowns in form of McCain and Palin could not inspire White America enough. Did I mention Dr King would not have voted unconditionally for the $700-billion corporate bailouts as you did – thus ensuring their media throw around bullets at a desperately sinking people’s hopeful minds?

A hope that you will be a world leader, rendering thoughtful humanitarian progressive opinions, not promising reactionary interventionist military tactics. Your urge to pursue military wars against tethering economies of Pakistan and Afghanistan is far from the hope the world looks forward to from the leader of a country that has, in the first place, created the mess those regions are.

A hope that you will truly stop addressing the AIPAC Zionist causes and rather side with the progressive Israeli and Palestinians in order to end the war on peoples in the Middle East – a war directly funded by American taxpayers money. So much so that the working class Americans are forced to pay 47% of their tax money towards fighting wars against Arab peoples. And now they hope, President Obama, that you will conduct direct negotiations with the Hamas- legitimately elected to government in Gaza – instead of funding hate against the Middle East by furthering flow of tax money to the Israeli militarist state. Certainly not to depend on the Republican Party adviser, Pentagon chief Robert Gates, to decide on your behalf – a process you have already formalised.

A hope that you will “fully withdraw” from Iraq and not “reduce” the presence of American troops there- your claim throughout that American troops are “part of the solution in Iraq” is a wisdom that is contrary to laws of international human rights as applied to sovereign nations, not to mention one that has resulted in slaughter of well over a million innocent people. Despite Abu Ghraib and despite well-documented deaths of civilians at the hands of the American military your view is abjectly hopeless: “The fact is that our US military is probably the most capable institution on the planet in terms of carrying out extraordinarily difficult assignments. And I continue to be concerned that we have set out for ourselves just an enormous task of rebuilding an extremely volatile and large country, and the military is not going to be able to do it alone so we’re going to have to have some good policies from Washington to move it forward.” Dear President Obama, the ordinary voters, deeply anguished at Republican measures and deeply brainwashed by Democratic media, have pledged their hopes on you. This is time, they hope you can move the military backward and “bring the boys back” home, not to move them forward into any more tortures in the Middle East that bring us shame as human beings, not just as divinely blessed Americans.

A hope that you do in fact refrain from the last lines in your speech in quoting the tradition: “Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.” As it turns out, there are so many of us atheists and so many of us followers of non-Christian God that it pains to notice the lack of a break in the tradition when it comes to religious diplomacy. In fact, Christian fundamentalism runs so high in the land that you had to invite the most infamous reactionary pastor to herald you as the leader – a man who most despicably declares homosexuality as a disease and opposes same-sex marriages. And oh, even while you used the media to woo the sizable section of LGBT constituency, your own opposition to gay marriage is also well pronounced. And yet, our depressed, repressed and suppressed sexual minority still hopes you will make true of your promises and get rid of seeds of intolerance such as the Godmen who preach against “God’s own”.

A hope that you will sincerely withdraw your inaugural speech in favour of a more pragmatic, critically progressive one. Your opening lines that “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer” just does not sound convincing enough. Are we not the same people who voted year after year based on what the media had to convince us on foreign, domestic and economic policies? A country having the largest record of anti-democratic measures, of having committed vote scams and frauds at presidential level, of having maintained an elitist tradition of two richest parties ignoring everyone else, an electoral process that decides on candidates based on how much funds they generate thereby eliminating anti-corporate candidates effectively – how could this country suddenly become the land of the dreams of its founding fathers (not to mention, that you keep forgetting some of those were slave-owning fathers) and torchbearers of democracy (or demon-cracy, dear President considering even on the day of your speech all the anti-democratic policies were still in place- from Guantanamo Bay to Iraqi oilfields? From military bases in Kuwait to assertions in NATO, from supremacism in the UN Security Council to maintenance of Cold War ties with dictatorial regimes of Saudi Arabia or installed state armies in much of Africa to slaughter people’s outfits?)

A hope that you will carefully snap your ties with the likes of Warren Buffett. Is it merely incidental that the very year you got elected was the year when Buffett was declared as the richest man in the world – the man who you claimed time and again was most qualified to be your economic adviser. The capitalist accumulator of ill-gotten wealth, the man who has become the charity celebrity – such a charitable man he is that he has promised to donate his billions to another charitable (sic!) buddy of his, Bill Gates for the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation! As though the activities of Gates Foundation in perpetuating life-threatening diseases in Africa by funding illegal factories were not enough, now your adviser and angel investor in your “middle-class” campaign, Mr Buffett, has to make the corporate houses stronger while rendering the government weaker – steps such as this which have caused the recent havoc at the first place to begin with.

A hope that you will sincerely abuse your own illusions about this country that you might have missed opportunities to critically reflect upon. Just because you were born in the land with a certificate that enabled you to contest as a Presidential candidate does not mean that you will continue the tradition of shoving to silence millions of hard-working taxpayers of the land who do not have the “legality” – a privilege that is bestowed not by some unseen supreme force, but by political leaders of the respective times. The “illegal workers” who clean the tables and the dishes before feeding millions of Americans every passing day of today are the black suffrage of yesteryear. The minority Hispanic, Asian and Black women workers – who earn way less than the minimum wage reserved for the male workers every hour, as housekeepers and nannies and bargirls in sectors that do not allow for unions and demands – are the Rosa Parks of today, whose voices have been silenced amidst glories of your victory. And you have led the rhetoric, Mr President, when you declare, “We are America. We are the nation that liberated a continent from a madman, that lifted ourselves from the depths of Depression, that won Civil Rights, and Women’s Rights, and Voting Rights for all our people.” In your elite school education they obviously rendered a myopic study of what America in the 21st Century was like. Perhaps you need to only go through your own EEOC reports to witness racial harassments, gender disparities in pay and discrimination based on sexual orientation before making sweeping statements on the nature of liberation embedded in the idea of Americanism.

A hope that you sincerely and finally acknowledge that the same Washington DC political lobby and the same Wall Street economic lobby are the ones that have lifted you to power. By default, your struggle will be against the working class people who on a daily basis wage wars against the aforesaid corridors of powers. And the poor working class whose money will continue to be spent on your imperialistic fanciful wars against Iraq, Gaza, Pakistan and other threats, as and when conveniently produced by the White House, with more than a little help from your so-called liberal press – the CNN and the New York Times that work overtime to turn the country into a land of hero-worshippers.

A hope that you, indeed, emerge as a hero worthy of the worshipping. This is no reality TV show and as brother Gil Scott Heron (hope they taught him in the Ivy Leagues) says the people’s revolution will not be televised. The streets of Gainesville, Harlem, Huntington and New Orleans will not have makeup artists and publicists to let people show their best faces forward. The masses do not possess the charm and power that the televised news anchors possess. They even do not have a right to define what constitutes poverty line in the country. They, however, will hope that you increase the official poverty line to demonstrate the reality of debt-ridden society of America. $21,000 annual income for a four-person family is worse than just poverty, Mr President, while calculating the millions of invisible in the land of billboards by Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, American Express, Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America, Nike, KraftFood, Comcast, Costco, Burlington, UnitedHealth Group – all of these corporations and more whose shares are owned by your buddy Warren Buffet and your friends on the Wall Street. After having hoodwinked the poor of the country with corporate media propaganda that you stand up for their causes, while in fact you get funded by their class enemies, the people hope your friendly media conglomerate stops celebrating your words of free American joy immediately!

A hope that you will also remember what Dr King had said in the context of televised glorification of racial harmony as “cruel manipulation of the poor” and American War Presidents’ presence in foreign land as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Neither media propaganda about social normalcy in blatant disregard of the poor class, nor White House prerogatives to perpetuate wars in foreign lands have lessened, let alone, ceased. How can you continue to parrot that that no one should “question the power of our democracy”, and herald the biggest destructive force in recent world history – the US military – as the “most capable institution on the planet”?

Perhaps so, you have a need to showcase hope. But you know, acute realities continue to bite.

Satyam – a symptom, not the problem

Saswat Pattanayak

When Enron conveniently declared its bankruptcy in 2001, it not only resulted in rendering more than 5000 employees jobless, and relegating more than $1billion in employee retirement funds to vacuum, but the corporation also succeeded in eventually evading recovery of more than $40 billion of its assets. Enron’s corruption was neither pathbreaking nor unique. Financial bunglings are necessary features of market capitalism resulting in widespread unemployment, continuation of class society and dependence of world majority on the corporate minority.

All criticisms being hurled at Ramalinga Raju – the disgraced former boss of India’s leading software giant Satyam – is pure travesty. The fact is Raju is merely unlucky, and in this present instance, a victim of his beleaguered conscience that arose too late. For, his scandal is neither as consequential as Enron’s, nor as dangerously implicit as PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Any focus on eliminating Raju and his business from the world capitalistic map only shall help strengthen the businesses of his former rivals. Reducing India’s largest financial scam to the alter of accusations against one man merely shall undermine the necessity to examine the canons of capitalism.

Raju’s attempts at salvaging his son’s companies have nothing to do with personal corruption scandals. It has to do with the very nature of how “free market” capitalism works. The same investors who objected to the $1.6 billion scam orchestrated by Raju were the ones who have been supporting him throughout the series of deception, fraud and financial misappropriations committed by Satyam over the years. The same auditors – PricewaterhouseCoopers – who have suddenly hogged the headline for the wrongdoings have been heralded by Market Capitalism as one of its most informed wings. The corporate media conglomerates that are now singling out Raju as the fraud that deserves jail term are the gatekeepers of news and opinion that had been awarding Raju variously, including as “Corporate Citizen of the Year” (by CNBC in 2002). Not just the endorsement of PricewaterhouseCoopers, even its rival – the other big financial auditor – Ernst & Young has only recently bestowed upon Raju the award of “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” (in 2007).

If the world has been forced to embrace market capitalism as the dominant economic base, the superstructure for such foundation has comprised investors, auditors, deregulators, and the corporate bosses. In case of Satyam Computers Services, all these elements have been exposed threadbare. And this is hardly the first instance of corruption in capitalism. Quite the contrary, corruption is inherent in capitalism, in its essence of profit drives at the cost of ethical responsibilities, in its essence of satisfying investors at the cost of customers, in its essence of exploiting workforce at the cost of amassing disproportionate wealth.

The market economy approach which India has embraced necessarily must produce Harshad Mehtas and Ramalinga Rajus. Any elements of surprise speaks to the lack of confidence in understanding of capitalism’s contradictions. A free-for-all umbrella must cloud the levels of competition and turn them instead into monopolistic collaborations among giants. Giants who must exhibit their capability to stay in top (or, perish) must necessarily employ unlawful, illicit and unethical means to hoodwink the consumers, clients and society at large.

What Raju has resorted to is not a sign of failure in his conscience. Rather, what most of the media are perceiving in his character of late is a failure on their part to understand how capitalism functions. This is what Fidel Castro calls “Economic Illiteracy” prevailing in the present age.

Prelude to Mumbai Blasts – Hindu Terrorism

Saswat Pattanayak

Like Mumbai, also in Maharashtra, Malegaon was the site to bomb blasts on September 5, 2008 – less than three months prior to Mumbai blasts. Three bomb attacks killed more than 31 people – mostly Muslims – while they were returning from offering Friday prayers at a mosque.

Immediately thereafter, the “India” woke up to terror alerts. Politicians and administration were quick to point out the role of Muslim terrorists. The usual hounding of suspects continued, and all the “illegal” Muslim student outfits were harassed. Police arrested Muslim youths under suspicion. Until, one after the other evidences led to a radically different conclusion: That, it is not the Muslim people of India, but Hindu terrorists who were behind the Malegaon blasts.

Malegaon blasts have opened up a whole Pandora’s Box. Not so much of a shock considering that the Hindu fundamentalists who are still holding seats in Indian Parliament today were the despicable figures behind the biggest communal clash and tragedy to hit India when they demolished Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. That was the darkest day in India’s contemporary history. Those that led the procession of mayhem and sinister murder trails went on to get elected to the highest offices of Indian democracy soon thereafter. Such coveted politicians included chargesheeted riot leader like LK Advani – that shameful face of Hindu fanaticism masquerading as a meticulously passionate orator of Hindi-Hindu aspirations.

Hindu terrorism is also not a shock for millions of Indians who did witness the biggest tragedy to reshape Bombay due to the reactionary terror attacks orchestrated by a Hindu Chauvinist Bal Thackeray and his gang of Hindu fundamentalists calling themselves Shiv Sena. Following Ayodhya terrorism against Muslims’s sacred place, instead of bringing calm and publicly apologizing on behalf of the Hindu civilization, misguided Hindu supremacists like Advani and Thackeray conducted nationwide victory marches to incite hatred against the minorities in India. As a result, Mumbai, the commercial capital under the mercy of Thackeray, was converted overnight into a terrorized center of Hindu-Muslim riots. While in power, all that Thackeray did was continue his mode of operation- hate-speech against the Muslim minority. Currently his political cronies have taken up staunch regionalism in Maharashtra to threaten the lives of “outsiders”, whereas the terrorist outfit representing the Hindu interests have been bombing all over Maharashtra, recruiting a few Muslim youths for training, and then shifting blames of terror attacks either on Pakistan or on Indian Muslims.

Hindu terrorism is also not a shock for millions of Indians who have been silent sufferers to a merciless manner in which Gujarat – the birthplace of the Mahatma – had been converted into the rowdiest of states in India under the disgusting leadership of a racist politician Narendra Modi – also part and parcel of the revived Hindu fanaticism. Gujarat’s famous Godhra incident, which was used as a tool to ravage the Islamic business sector in the state ended up taking lives of more than 2000 people, more than 80% of which were Muslims. Under the rule of the Hindu right wing political party, the infamous, yet legal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unprecedented violence was let loose on the streets to pointedly murder innocent Muslim citizens. Not surprisingly by the culturally same Hindu fanatics who pride themselves for having assassinated Mahatma Gandhi sixty years ago. Unheard of atrocities against Muslim women were committed by the Hindu “Sainiks” and “Saints” and terrorists that have no parallel in world history.

Thus, Hindu terrorism is not a matter of shock to the huge majority of Indians- majority of whom are deeply innocent Hindus themselves.

Dark Ages of Hindu Revivalism: Secular India to Communal India

Indian history has never been devoid of Muslim roots. Predominantly, Indian land was ruled by Moghuls. Most of the glorified historical personalities of India- from secular emperors to magical musicians, from wise philosophers to lyrical poets have been Muslims. Muslims also have been a successful business class, self-sustained and despite prejudices, well organized. Whenever foreign colonial powers assaulted Indian nationalism, Muslims joined the struggles for freedom alongside the Hindus. They were so united in spirit with Hindus that it took the meanest and most corrupt methods of the British colonialists to separate the two religions from living in harmony.

As a result of British interventions and formation of pseudo-Hindu outfits such as Hindu Mahasabha (which opposed Gandhi’s call for unity), and submission to ruling class blackmails by Muslim League, Pakistan was created upon the blood of millions.

Pakistan’s life was made even more difficult to manage thanks to the illogical and criminal manner in which the British divided the map geographically. East Pakistan (on the east of India) naturally enough remained the point of contention since Pakistan (on the West of India) could neither rule over it to its abilities nor could remain a distinctive nation in the subcontinent without it. Added to the miseries were the decisions of a Hindu supremacist Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to blackmail all Princely States of India to join the British-freed India. This was a cause of misery because in the predominantly Hindu North-Indian democratic setup in Delhi, the representation of predominantly Muslim princely state rulers was almost impossible. Therefore, India, after her independence from British rule, emerged a fractured country of inconsistent neighborhood (which finally got “resolved” with the creation of Bangladesh) and internal religious divides (now officially revived through impositions on Hyderabad and Kashmir – one Hindu state with a Muslim King, and the other a Muslim state with a Hindu King.)

Taking advantage of the problems Nehru faced in his initial years as the first Prime Minister, the ugly head of Hindu fanaticism started to show up. Not only were they banned from participation in mainstream politics by a secular Constitution of the land, they were forbidden from expressing themselves. Despite the fact that Nehru himself was a Kashimiri Brahmin, he was unwilling to cooperate in escalating the communal tensions in India, following Gandhian footsteps. This period of Golden Age of Independent India came to an abrupt end when the country started noticing that many of the Hindu fanatics had hidden their identities and joined the mainstream Congress with an aim to take over the power later. Vajpayee who became the right-wing leader of Indian democracy later on, used to claim himself as a Nehruvian socialist to climb the ladder of power, only to later condemn Nehru after his death. George Fernandes who later became the most tainted Defense Minister of India for his deals with Western militarists used to deceive people in his early years as projecting himself to be a socialist. Indeed, many congress leaders of Nehru’s period claimed Socialism as their paths only to gain entry into mainstream politics of India – and to later disband every principle of socialism in favor of domestic capitalism.

Nehru’s Congress as the dominant political party cannot be absolved of the crime of overlooking the nature of its disciples in favor of their sycophancy. As a result of its professed but unintelligent silence over growth of communal politics in India – where its official policy was to advance the cause of Muslims and minorities even as several of disguised communal politicians were busy thwarting possibilities of harmonious living- India evolved into a vulnerable land soon to be ruled over by the very same Hindu fundamentalists that Gandhi and Nehru, Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh, together opposed tooth and nail throughout their illustrious lives.

Hindi-Hindu India overshadowed and almost choked to death all the rich historical heritage brought to Indian culture through Islamic traditions. Urdu was relegated to nowhere, Hindustani was not recognized as a language, affirmative actions for Muslims continued to perish under caste politics within Hindu religious majority. Casteism and untouchability continued to exist despite constitutional dictums. Both Dalits and Muslims emerged as outcasts and myth of Hindu cultural purity continued to prosper.

Nehru’s Congress which prided itself for receiving aid from Soviet Union, while at the same time forming Non-Aligned Movement and taking respectable roles in the United Nations to promote peace was gradually reduced to a capitalistic economy headed by a finance minister called Manmohan Singh, who today has become the Prime Minister for his able diplomacy at praising the British Raj (his enslaved speech at Oxford University heralded Queen’s English as the biggest development for India), and unconditional surrender to NATO interests on every conceivable grounds – military to economic.

In such overtly distressing times, it is only natural that the likes of Hindu supremacists who were vehemently opposed by the founding leaders of India’s freedom movement, are back to power. They rule the roads of Maharashtra and Gujarat – two most economically successful states in India. The Hindu supremacists are funded by their bosses – the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) – an outright communal racist organization based in the United States. Indeed, most universities in the US allow VHP-funded student outfits to recruit local students for to promote anti-Islam causes in the name of cultural diversity. And back home, the same organizations routinely attack any Islamic institutions or student unions. As long as it is Banares Hindu University – a completely unnecessary university to be founded on religious grounds considering that Hindus anyway comprise the majority and community-based institutes are required to be formed to protect minority cultures – there is never a talk on terrorism emanating from them. Even as it has been proved countless times that Hindu student organizations such as Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) are violent in nature, and misconstrue history to depict Vivekananda, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Bose radically differently in the minds of the impressionable youths, they go scot free and celebrate their existence and growth. At the same time, Muslim Madrassas are constantly under police investigations. Faculty members of Aligarh Muslim Universities are routinely harassed. Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) has been legally banned by the Indian government.

Usual Suspects: Muslim Youths

Indian official authorities continuously arrest numerous Muslim people, doctors, professors and students on alleged grounds of terrorism, whereas the proven terrorists of Hindu based organizations continue to contest elections, win seats and influence courts. In the most recent Malegaon serial bomb blasts, the first arrests were that of SIMI activists. Noor-ul-Hooda was arrested by the police along with two other “suspects”: Shabbir Batterywala and Raees Ahmed.

Such arrests based solely on suspicion are no exceptions. Even without undertaking any investigations of merit, such Muslim youths are subjected to arrests on a routine basis. In Malegaon, this was massive, because the suspicion was on accusation of murder of 31 people and injury of over 300.

The Times of India in their initial report reported: “The involvement of both Shabbir and Hooda in the Malegaon blasts came to light during their interrogations after their arrest in a bomb hoax case. The intention of conspirators of Malegaon blasts was to create communal tensions in the textile town which has a history of riots and the bomb hoax exercise undertaken by Shabbir and Hooda as the blasts failed to disturb the peace in the town, the DGP said.”

So Who Were Behind Malegaon?

After the initial arrests of Shabbir and Hooda, public demand increased to arrest everyone concerned. The investigation was thus under public demand, transferred to the most efficient branch to deal with issues of terrorism: the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) and its superhero cop Hemant Karkare.

Karkare and his team thoroughly investigated the Malegaon blasts and reached entirely different conclusions. For the firs time, the official agencies had to admit their errors in arresting Muslim youths whereas the real culprits were the Hindu terrorists.

Among the eight arrested following due investigations the Hindu terrorists had high profile candidates: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur of the right wing political coalition, Indian army official Ramesh Upadhyay, Hindu fundamentalist youth organization Abhinav Bharat’s leader Sameer Kulkarni, and Army official Lt Col Prasad S Purohit.

Hell broke loose. Just when the western world was eyeing Pakistan, including America’s President-Elect Obama who was at his rhetoric worst in calling for war on Pakistan and it was the long cherished time for the Hindu fanatics to rejoice, the real truths were slowly uncovering to indicate otherwise. Immediately reacting to ATS, Delhi’s right-wing leader VK Malhotra attacked the officials and asked its officers to undergo narco-tests! Malhotra of course resorted to his proverbial American master’s tongue: “Whereas the world is seeing Pakistan and Bangladesh as hub of terrorism, ATS is accusing the “saints”!”.

No amount of rhetoric could save the right wing political party this time, because not only it was found upon investigation that the Hindu terrorist leaders representing the BJP’s interests were involved in masterminding the blasts, but even the Indian defense forces officials were. The Hindu “Holy Cow” and the India’s “Holy Cow” were both the actual culprits.

In the past, when Shabbir and Hooda were arrested on suspicion, media reports were agog with conclusions that the previous bomb blasts in India had a very similar strategy. Hence, the conclusions of the media were that, all those blasts perhaps were also caused by Muslim outfits. Hence investigations were on into all the previous blasts. And soon, one after another, the truths started emerging when the cases were “reopened”.

Also came under investigations of ATS were the closed cases of yesteryears: Parbhani blasts of November 21, 2003, Jalna blasts of August 27, 2004, Jama Masjid blast in Delhi on April 14, 2006, Mecca Masjid blast, May 18, 2007, Ajmer blasts, October 11, 2007, Modasa blast, September 29, 2008.

In all of the above terror attacks, the Muslim youths were held under suspicion without investigations. But when the cases were reopened, ATS unearthed evidences which startled the very foundation of Hindu supremacism in India.

Upon due investigations, it was indeed found out by the Indian authorities that the series of blasts have been planned since 2001 by the same group of people- Hindu terrorists. A Hindu supremacist Rakesh Dhawade had transported 54 people, trained them in a camp in Sinhagad in Pune for three years, starting 2001. Using his access to power structure in India, Dhawade continued to remain free despite all evidences against him. Finally, after more than four years of Jalna blast, and after seven years of his discovered training camps, he was chargesheeted in early November 2008. On Novemeber 11, 2008, as a bigger blow on Hindu terrorism, another accused Maruti Wagh was arrested by Jalna police. In the entire Marathwada region, terrorists involved in the several bomb attacks in Parbhani, Purna, Jalna, Nanded and Malegaon were found to be the same –the highly protected Hindu terrorists.

Likwise, in Nanded blasts, new truths had emerged. On April 6, 2006 when a terror attack woke India up in Nanded, it was not as much highlighted in the local media, and received zero coverage on international media. It was so because the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in its investigation found that behind the bomb blast, there was no role of any Muslim agency. Indeed, it was a hardcore Hindu fundamentalist group that carried out the terror attack. During investigation it was also found out that the Hindu terrorist group was planning to orchestrate such terror attacks in Aurangabad. One Hindu terrorist Rahul Pande was arrested in regards to Nanded bomb blast. Two of his accomplices Naresh Rajkondwar and Himanshu Panse who prepared the bomb died on the spot. Three more Hindu terrorists Yogesh Deshpande, Maruti Wagh and Gururaj Tupttewar were seriously injured.

In related investigations, Hindu supremacist Manoharrao Pande, one of the accused, said that they were trained in handling explosive devices and one trainer Himanshu Pande, died while assembling the explosives. Pande had also implemented the terror attacks in the Marathwada region, including in Jalna, Purnea and Parbhani.

Rationale Behind Mumbai Blasts: Who Benefits?

November 11, 2008 – the day of victory of Anti-Terrorism Squad against Hindu Terrorism- happened two weeks before the latest Mumbai Bomb Blasts.

Just when the world opinion was about to be reshaped following the ugly face of Hindu terrorism being officially exposed, the foreign nationals – the supposedly Muslim-fearing American and British citizens – were attacked in Mumbai. Just when the Hindu “Saints” were going to be declared terrorists, some Muslim youths were once again arrested in the center of commercial capital as accused of the blasts. Just when proper and due investigations were about to begin, lawyers were threatened by right wing political parties from representing the accused. Just when the Anti-Terrorism Squad captured the accused for investigations to find out the masterminds (going by the past blasts, who were going to be the Hindu supremacists), ATS chief and nation’s most beloved police officer Karkare was mysteriously killed.

The fact that Karkare had received death threats from BJP activists, the Hindu terrorist groups and his wife could be interrogated for further information about the letters, Karkare was converted into a national hero and declared to be dead while fighting Islamic terrorism!

India, a country of independent spirited people who took on the mightiest of empires through actions and thoughts of the wise and the nonviolent, has been forced to be converted into a country of hero-worshipping uncritical enslaved people that refuse to believe that the problems are indeed from within.

Karkare has been converted into a national hero and is being heralded as the bravest police officer. Yet ironically, his principles of life that defied conventional thinking while he unearthed the most shameful chapter of Hindu nationalism, have been already forgotten. Domestic media – both vernacular and English language have adopted a tone that’s most submissive, prejudiced and rhetorical. Indian parliament has always been the mainstay of chosen criminals from across the country since last few decades. Now it has evolved as the chamber of discussion among most of them demanding across parties, to control the country through new draconic laws.

Indian Hindu terrorism has once again been shoved into obscurity by once again successfully shifting blame on Pakistan. Instead of working closely together with Pakistani officials to eradicate roots of terrors – which are implanted by the politicians in both countries than invented by the misguided people – India has chosen to allow Israeli and American interests to prevail upon the land in a quest to convert Gandhi’s Free India into a Militarist Enslaved Agent of Global Imperialism.

Political Economy of American Colacracy

Saswat Pattanayak

The high moral ground for American democracy rests on the presumptions of healthy, competitive and fair elections. And holding these traits to be self-evident, the elections are held with utmost pomp and show. The grandeurs associated with US polls are unparalleled and are generally considered as reaffirming symbols of multiparty viabilities in the world.

Countries that do not boast of a multi-party system are considered to be autocratic, and consequently despotic. Whether or not it is important to analyze the rationale behind such a forgone conclusion where fairness is associated with competitive party system is a separate matter. Considering the timeliness of the upcoming polls, it will be prudent to conduct a reality check on the core features that sustain electoral system of American democracy itself.

The Election Farce:

Some people say we need a third party. I wish we had a second one – Jim Hightower, national radio commentator

America does not need two Republican Parties – John Kerry, former Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party

What Hightower and Kerry are expressing are concerns addressing the larger American choice-freedom fetishism. They do not question whether having two (or three, four, five) parties by itself will solve the current political crisis arising out of a tradition of lackluster world leadership, but they have at least admitted to the fact that the political map of the US does not reflect either heterogeneity, or healthy competition.

What the opinion leaders are concerned about is the lack of strong ideological differences between Republicans or Democrats regarding policy issues, rendering their separation as merely symbolic. For the most part, both parties totally agree on core issues such as nationalism/patriotic exhibitionism, neocolonialism, foreign affairs, warfare policies, health sector, concerns over the illegal immigrants, employment guarantees, among many other crucial questions. If there exist any differences, they are more in degrees than in types.

If both the parties do not have clearly outlined differences that are crucially significant when it comes to national economy, security and foreign affairs, then what is the single most important difference that exists, albeit in shades, between them, or among the candidates within them?

Money.

Political Economy of US Polls:

Characteristic of a capitalistic economy, people with more money have more access to power, and utilizing the tools of power, they eventually gain to control the power. Hence, the American polls concentrate on the most basic principle of its brand of democracy: raising funds. The candidate who raises more funds is the candidate that is certain to win nomination from his/her own party. In a recent interview to NPR, Democratic consultant Tad Devine, suggested that the election process costs between $750 million to $1 billion annually during the primaries alone!

Where do the millions go? In 2004 US elections, even after the primaries were over, between just the two leading candidates, they spent more than $500 million. Majority were spent on media publicity (Bush spent $132 million and Kerry spent $94 million). Buying TV spots and multimedia “bracketing”, the candidates make sure that the ads appear on TV morning shows, strategically can be heard while people are driving to work, they are replayed on internet news channels in afternoon, played back in evening news on television and while watching programs during late nights. In addition, thousands of paid volunteers are recruited all over the country and trained for months and paid for by the campaign money. In addition, costs are incurred for travel and events, payroll and consultants, fundraising-mail, and overhead- rent, utilities, insurance, equipment.

With the stakes so high, it is only natural that the richest lot or the candidates with access to the richest lot actually join the mainstream politics – so that in return, as history is witness every year, they can serve the military-industrial interests. 2008 is no different. On one hand we have Hillary Clinton, a woman who has amassed wealth to the tune of more than $109 million dollars during last eight years along with her husband. And far from being a result of the great “American Dream” that afflicted the protagonist of “In Pursuit of Happiness”, Hillary has always had the privilege of growing up in affluent Chicago suburbs, of being a high profile lawyer who has no knowledge of the price of gasoline in her country. Not only does she still parrot the price to be $63 for half a tank (whereas it has actually gone beyond $100 now), she also entirely fabricates the story about how she went to be part of the armed forces and faced targeted attacks by the enemies (an account which has been later regretted by her as being false). Positioning her as the representative of the white working class, she excludes discussing about her own backgrounds that are more distinctly memorable for being on vacation with Oscar de la Renta than for walking the extra mile to unionize the workers. Positioning herself as a potential world leader she talks of teaching lessons to people of Iran and China. Blatant lies, and exclusive privileges as an elitist characterize her during her several addresses where attacking her fellow Democrat Obama has been the single largest ideology she has to offer.

On the other hand, Barack Obama leads the race of the Democrats. Of course it will be too naïve to imagine him as a Black presidential candidate considering that he has been winning the majority of support in a white majoritarian country, voicing the religious sentiments and threatening to bomb Pakistan. While that sounds just stupid, what is not so noble is his clearly elitist background that speaks less of experience (which, contrary to Clinton’s claims, is of no significance for a potential leader), and more of a lack genuine intentions to represent the very people he claims to be leading. Making tall claims of not buying into the Wall Street lobbyists like both Clinton and Republican contender John McCain have, Obama himself has been raising funds worth more than both Clinton and McCain put together. As of March 2008, Obama had raised $234, 745,081, Clinton had raised $189,097,053 and McCain had raised $76,691,826, leading Clinton to take a recent “loan” of additional $5million. On personal front, Obama and his wife reported an annual income of $4.2million in 2007 alone. Of course it is nowhere closer to what the Clintons earned in 2007: $20.4millions!

In the competition among the millionaires to be the world leaders, John McCain, the Republican candidate who has already spent enough to earn his nomination tops them all. True to the hypocritical nature of the Republican fabric, McCain has not persuaded his wife from letting their incomes be public. Cindy McCain who is chair of Hensley & Co controls the family riches of McCains which runs into $36.6million to $53.4million. Additionally, they have several stocks and ownerships in businesses and partnerships.

The Colacracy:

Apart from the obvious differences in the flag colors (blue and red), both parties have nothing unique to offer as truly distinguishable. The differences seem as acutely competitive as the different colors that adorn Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola billboards.

As silly as it may sound, there is nothing historic about the “woman” candidate who runs for the post using her husband’s speech royalties and lobby money. There is nothing historic about the “black” candidate who hobnobs with the rich and amasses the majority “white” money. And there is nothing to look forward to about a “conservative” candidate who is not even liberal about disclosing his family incomes to the people whom he and his wife intend to represent as President and First Lady. Its not surprising that the media have been harping on the “race”, “gender” and “experience” factors while overlooking the most obvious social location: “class”, because the American Empire has been built upon the assurance that it is not a class society and intrinsic to this self-denial is the assertions that new revolutionary measures are unnecessary and illegal. All these candidates coming from the same “class” location would rather play by other means to make appeals, hideously suppressing the facts of their being agents of the same system of exploitation that they apparently are challenging.

For the millions of working class American tax-payers who have become so pathetic with their finances that even the Bush Government is sending them Stimulus Check to spend tax-free money, for the 2 million homeless who search for public spaces that are closed after evening, for the 36.5 million people (12.3% of population) below poverty line, and 46 million people without health insurance, a country of working have-nots class who are debt ridden for generations, such farcical superfluous billion-dollars extravaganza wasted on elections every four years should ideally cause them to feel sick to the stomach. But with the same country where Chevrolet is advertised as the American Revolution and freedom is equated with using remote control to watch television channels competing to reach higher standards of absurdities, it is rather natural that even a Coca-Cola and Pepsi battle would seem to be the only form defining “democracy” in the world. Or did I say,Colacracy?

POSCO in Orissa – A Case of Global Masters against Local Preys

 Saswat Pattanayak

Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) operates two of the world’s leading steel projects–the Pohang and Gwangyang works, and conducts business in over 60 countries around the globe.

Since last couple of years, POSCO has been setting goals for the economically backward and minerals-rich Orissa. If Vedanta promises the biggest university in the world, POSCO promises the largest steel plant, and the biggest foreign direct investment in history (Rs 51,000 crore). After signing a Memorandum of Understanding with POSCO, Orissa-a largely obscured cultural site for Hindu pilgrims, has now found the biggest reserved location on World Exploitation Map.

According to the MoU signed between the state government and the Korean corporate giant, POSCO will build a 3 million tonne capacity steel plant, blast furnace or Finex route, during the first phase in Paradeep, Orissa between 2007 and 2010, and will expand the final production volume to 12 million tons. The investment proposed is to the tune of US$12 billion, including an initial investment of US$ 3 billion during the first phase, making it the largest steel project to take place in India.

The Orissa government will in turn also grant POSCO mining lease rights for 30 years that will ensure a supply of 600 million tons of iron ore to POSCO, besides granting it permission to export another 400 million tons through its mining partner in the project, BHP Billiton of Australia.

The technical catch

Indian politics does not by itself reach heights of fraudulence. It is enriched by its nexus with international military powers, business houses and elite bureaucracy. In case of POSCO, it is a wise combination of three. South Korea’s allegiance to American military-industrial complex is well-known. Indian central government preferring to conduct business worth billions with this camp tells quite a few things about changing preferences on national security issues. In addition, there is no business like selling off one’s own lands. And ironically, this is the area where the national government of India has allowed for 100 percent foreign investment.

It primarily means that apart from the private properties that the rich landlord class of India has harbored, the vast land masses in forest and rural areas managed and cared for by the poor in a country that still “lives in villages” is always open for transactions. For the rich class in India, the Constitution provides for rights to their private properties. For the poor, the same Constitution is used by the cunning ruling class to take away every human rights to the communal properties.

Communal properties, like human emotions, are supposed to be priceless. They are not owned, they are guarded. And those that safeguard the communal properties should logically be most loved and cared for. But in a society oppressed under individualistic norms, neither human values nor communal properties are taken care of in the interest of the humanity. Consequently, every bit of natural splendors is put on sale to the favored bidders of the class of privately propertied. It is the rich parasites of India who crave for not just the protection of their own properties but also for making good in dealing with communal properties that they historically have forced the poor to safeguard.

In the current neoliberal schemes of corporate expansions of profiteering sweatshop sectors, “investment” is the civilized term for feudal gains out of enslaved labors of landless guardians.

To the blind profiteers, it does not matter if the inhabitants refuse to part with their lands. It does not even matter if what they promise to the people in lieu of realizing their fast money-making opportunities is unkept. Not just the promises of compensations, but also promises of business goals themselves are kept aside as long as the loot is achieved in a shorter frame.

POSCO is yet another example of such fraud that satisfies the hunger of the government officials and business houses in the short run, and loses sight of the goals no sooner than the booty is collected in desired proportion.

POSCO has sought to ship 400 million tons of iron ore over a period of 30 years out of a captive iron ore mine capable of supplying 600 million tons of ore. And this unacceptable absurdity prevails even in the face of Indian Bureau of Mines estimates which depicts it as impractical proposition. India’s iron ore reserves stand at 17,712.4 million tons, which include reserves of Hematite iron ore at 12,317.2 million tons and Magnetite iron ore at 5,395.2 million tons. The total production of iron ore in a fiscal year is around 120 million tones. Out of this, the indigenous consumption is about 60 million tones. The rest, which is used for purpose of exports is about 60 million tons.

It is extremely doubtful that a 30-year sustainability can be achieved out of such projected statistics for POSCO, even if one ignores the fact that local consumption of 200 million tones for 30 years is way shorter than the real market demands in the country today. At the same time, out of the uncommitted iron ore reserves of 2 billion tones that are estimated to be available in Orissa, 1.7 billion tones would be already consumed if the 36 MoUs signed with the Orissa Government are realized. The various MoUs account for 34 million tons of new steel capacity and eventually they will leave only 300 million tons for the POSCO project. Hence, even on the paper, such deals are blatantly shady. With 300 million tons availability, the state government has signed up to supply 600 million tons for POSCO.

POSCO is imagined to be exchanging 30 per cent of the 600 mt ore with iron ore of higher quality by exporting it. Interestingly enough, the company is not expected to be spending anything, since POSCO will not purchase iron ore from Orissa. POSCO has been given mining lease where it will take away iron ore by just paying royalty. Since the existing market rate for one tonne of iron ore ranges from Rs 2000 to Rs 26,000, and POSCO is supposed to take away additional 400 million tons of iron ore, the company will be taking out of Orissa 1000 million tons of iron ore. Even at the manipulated figure of 600 mt (instead of 1000mt), POSCO is slated to take away iron ore worth more than Rs 10 lakh crore. At the minimum price (@ Rs 2000), POSCO will make Rs 1,20,000 crore, and after extraction costs, the net profit will be at least Rs 96,000 crore.

It’s a quick-rich trumpet that merely blows about the capacity of 12 million tons per annum making the project not only the biggest in India but one of the biggest in the world. But before we embark upon realizing the 30-year dream of POSCO, we need to take into consideration the immediate needs of the millions of poor still languishing in Orissa.

Just as the blueprint for corporate success may be invalidated in view of statistical impossibilities, the promises for social upliftment are also as bogus as they come. Whereas even most mainstream media coverages acknowledge that at least 20,000 houses will have to be displaced, POSCO on its official website claims the following: “Interestingly, the topographic features like the soil and vegetation of Pohang (Korea) and Paradip (Orissa) are very comparable. The Pohang project was successfully able to rehabilitate 67,000 residents from the project site; this tremendous experience will be replicated in Orissa as well. The site near Paradip is sandy like Pohang, Korea. It also has stretches of forest like Pohang; the latest estimate says that about 2,000 people of 400 households have to be relocated from the site for the Orissa project whereas about 67,000 residents were rehabilitated for the project site in Pohang.”

Drawing some grossly (and childishly) ambiguous parallels between Pohang and Paradip, the company lies through its tooth about the number of people going to be affected. First of all, households in the projected sites do not have nuclear families. Secondly, the number 400 is astoundingly rubbish. If the company can lay the foundation of lies on its purported victims, one can imagine the extent of manipulations it can resort to in order to maximize profits.

Even before the project has begun, many people have started fleeing from the area in search of livelihood. In a Times of India report  headlined “Clashes over POSCO trigger migration in Orissa” , it is informed even by an organization which supports the plant that, “At least 500 people from the affected villages have migrated over three months either to other states such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab or to other districts in Orissa in search of livelihood.” That, a company of such international stature even can afford to ignore the actual number of people who are going to be affected, tells quite much about the things yet to unfold.

And this is not even the beginning of the ordeal for the local poor. Some can of course migrate to other states once they know in advance that the land-grabbers are approaching. But the majority of potential victims are yet clueless. This is because, as of June of 2007, the Korean firm had acquired only 1,135 acres of land out of total 4,000 acres it requires for the project. So whose turn is it going to be next in both the plant site and the mining region? And what options are there for the people? To declare themselves as immigrants in their own lands or just displaced (to homelessness)?

What needs to be debated?

POSCO issue has generated lots of debates. On the face of it most engaged in the discussions are either heartily welcoming of it as a panacea, or are surprised by the manner it has been able to hoodwink the people. Of course those that consider it to be a cure-all, have a stake in the culminated public perception that private capital is after all the way to go.

But what we need to deconstruct are the larger views held by those that oppose POSCO. Why a state government should purchase land for private concerns has surprised many. Bimal Jalan , a current Member of Parliament and formerly Governor of Reserve Bank of India  says in an email response: “So far as land acquisition is concerned, it is not desirable for a state government to get directly involved in the purchase of land for a private company-unless there is an overwhelming public interest in doing so.”

Such a view assumes, first that it is alright for the state to be a property pimp for private profiteers with certain conditions. Naturally such conditions keep changing based on who decides what is in the public interest. Ironically the most people who decide the “public interest” are the same bunch of state bureaucrats, and hence it is only a matter of their differential preferences over the company to which they intend to hand over the land, than any principled opposition against mass subjugation. Secondly, Jalan’s comments are merely normative and they do not endorse a plan of action, something which none of the political parties are really doing anything about today in India.

The irony of POSCO crisis is that it has been boiled down into a moral concern. Either one is ethically opposed to it with a disdain, or looking forward to it as a magic potion. The reality is this crisis was long time coming and it must be utilized as a historical unfolding that requires critical attention. What is meant by this is that terms such as FDI, SEZ, etc., are merely coinages to grant legitimacy to the intent of the capitalists, than to acknowledge these as tools of the haves-class to wage war against the landless.

Shailesh Gandhi, leading RTI activist while vehemently opposing POSCO offers quite a few sound arguments: “The top priority of India must be provision of livelihood, and if any concessions have to be given, they should be linked to livelihood generation. Instead large businesses are being given great advantages, solely on the ground of large capital and the equity market is the major criterion of health of the economy after GDP.” Here, the assumption is that India is indeed a socialist economy that needs to have its priorities straight to cater to the interest of the “livelihood generation”.

One of the basic problems, then lies with the manner in which we perceive the Indian nation. Most liberal voices indeed still maintain the primary preposition that the state works for the people. Starting from such a hypothesis, they offer various solutions as regards to what subsequently then, the state should do in order to benefit the larger mass.

Absent from the entire equation of romanticized version of state patriotism is the real question of political economy. This is no hidden knowledge that after the departure of the British, the Indian state has consistently worked for the interest of the rich class that in its turn promoted the ruling elites. For more than four decades, the state served the interests of the propertied class in every way possible while etching out half-hearted five-year plans that remained largely devoid of sensible implementations. The stress on agrarian economy as a primary sector was also conducted to maintain the economic disparities, not to industrialize the needs of the people on their own lands. When the time came for state assistance to industrialize sectors, then domestic capitalist classes were given free hand to choose and create industries on their own terms. As a result, the houses of Tatas, Birlas, Dalmiyas, Singhanias, Thappars, Ambanis etc increased their shares on public lands.

In the early 90’s what transpired was nothing groundbreaking, and yet the era of liberalization or “free market” in India was hailed as though it was a break from the tradition. There were celebrations over the end of what one called the “license raj”. Manmohan Singh was hailed as some architect of this new economy. And the non-Congress parties complimented Singh on this bold step that was perceived to be a break from Congress tradition.

The reality is Singh had merely continued the tradition of the ruling class interests of the country. The reason why even the BJP and its likes of right wing interests did not have much issues with liberalization was that they were in fact waiting for this to happen. Indeed, one might say that BJP was a creation of the liberalization process. It was only when the domestic capitalist classes of India decided to expand their business interests globally to earn profits in international currency, that the ‘license raj’ (which was so far maintained to strengthen the private business interest nationally) posed as a stumbling block.

And lo and behold! With the advent of MacMohan (pun intended!) policies, the private business concerns in India went up for celebrations; they were able to plant a bunch of bribe-seeking politicians (as colorfully illustrated by Tehelka, etc.) to do what they were best at doing: sell off the nationalized industries at dirt cheap prices to the capitalistic combines.

And they offered a sophisticated name to manipulate popular confidence in such hideous transactions: Disinvestment (and even established a ministry after such a name). Just as “Foreign Direct Investment” had become an accepted terminology, instead of calling it “Imperialistic Interests”, likewise “Disinvestment” became legitimized which should have been termed “Loot-Raj” for that is exactly what was witnessed following such a political action.

The primary motive behind loot-raj was of course to strengthen the imperialistic interests. In the nicety of “swim together, sink together”, the coalition of capitalistic class members was a necessity to fulfill the works they had set out to perform.

It would be extremely naïve at this point or any other to either be hopeful of the Indian state administration or their capitalistic partners, both at home and abroad, to either concede to popular demands or to look after the welfare of the people.

Indeed, it is stupid at the best, and reactionary at the worst to expect that things will change through requests, forums, petitions, and any sort of addressing to the India-POSCO combines. At the best they should be lauded for what they have set out to do, that is, carrying out the task of fulfilling their class interests.

Some friends of the progressive forces have raised the issue of “compensation for rehabilitation of displaced people”. This is again unwarranted because by framing the phrase thus, we tend to really legitimize a few things: we end up assuming that people are truly displaced, that they are really in need of rehabilitation, and that higher compensation should prove useful.

This is an extremely dangerous approach that will merely work to pacify local agitation among people whereas the need is to organize workers movement world over. Private capital such as POSCO’s always begins from a gaining ground. That is to say, on the negotiation table, POSCO will always emerge the winner. There is no telling why they will be in a position to increase the compensation amount for people. Many political parties that are opposing POSCO, chiefly the left parties in India, are demanding higher compensations, than actually opposing the political system that has given rise to such a crisis. In response, POSCO with its massive funds has not only opened local offices in Kujang, it has also created an Oriya website to pacify the people and through its excellent public relations skills it has been able to partially convince the local people that its compensation package is the best.

Compensations are issues of consequences, not of cause. These are consequences within the capitalistic ruling terminology. Just as “charity” is. By such terms it is denoted that the rich can keep the poor pacified by throwing bread crumbs at them and getting rid of their own guilt (if any) or getting absolved of their crimes. A renowned Columbia University Professor of Economics and Law Jagdish Bhagwati suggests that:

“I would encourage the foreign multinationals to add to the benefits that their commercial activity must generally speaking bring to Orissa by also doing what is called Corporate Social Responsibility. It has now become a tradition for a couple of decades for the big firms to do something altruistic for the community in which they are situated. For example, building a playground, giving funds to local primary schools for supplies, aiding the destitute etc. Orissa authorities can surely suggest to the multinationals to do this, allowing them the choice of programs that they would like to support. Many of us individuals do the same, of course, and I call it ISR, Individual Social Responsibility. Thus, speaking for myself, I believe that my life’s work as a Professor has been enormously helpful to the countless students I have trained. But I still do ISR, giving away large sums of money to the local church near Columbia University to support its program on helping the homeless rehabilitate themselves, and to organizations such as CRY in India.”

Such pathological approach to social development has at its roots two assumptions: one, that everything is alright at the level of system status quo, meaning that it is not the political economic system that needs to be the issue, rather the trickling consequences that need to be taken care of, and two, those that are wronged need only to be rehabilitated with charity than be organized to take equal claims.

Of course any charity money such as “ISR” as described by Bhagwati are mere leftover funds and hence they are from the outset not meant to empower the dispossessed. And no empowerment deals with power issues where it is reduced to an economic dependence or slavery. Churches and NGOs do their great bit in caging peoples’ aspirations to the basic minimum and such CSRs or ISRs are the primary factors encouraging such social mishaps.

POSCO has also heeded to calls from the elite intellectuals, the famous NRI propertied classes of professors and scientists in the Europe and the US, who stand to gain from an India modeled after the countries where they currently live and fantasize about capitalism as the solution. The Columbia professor in question should have only looked at the Bronx and Brooklyn poverty and Manhattan and Queens homelessness to offer solutions other than charity in the same city he “trains” countless students in.

The path of neoliberalism is strewn with surreptitious moves in action and words. In action, it aims to allow only a handful members of the rich class to dominate over the mass of landless while colluding with their active collaborators drawn from the sections of people it would declare “upper middle class”. In words, neoliberalism is depicted by fraudulent and cunning lexicon of comforting terms that are projected as unalterable normatives. Little wonder that words such as “charity” are associated with the rich class as a greatly generous act, and words such as beggary or stealing associated with the poor mass are denounced as lowly acts, without deconstructing that if not for formation of a class of charity actors, there would have been no scope for beggars and “thieves”.

Instead of conscious efforts to study the genealogy of private properties that inevitably will, shall and should give rise to the crisis of capitalism where poor people are forced to choose between money in charities or jail terms, the sad and effete intellectuals that capitalism produces aplenty are concerned about solving the problems that POSCOs of the world face from the disgruntled masses.

Reuters provide its typical coverage on such an issue. In an article headlined, “Delays raise cost of POSCO’s Orissa steel plant” , it sympathizes with the losses that POSCO has to bear due to people’s unrest in the region. In the typical fashion characteristic of corporate media, the story interviews the POSCO bosses (in this case, POSCO-India’s chairman and managing director Soungsik Cho), not the locals.

The displacement of more than 20,000 people does not become part of the headlines even in the most sensational of media reports. Even the fact that those workers who grow betel vines on state owned forest land would not be eligible for any financial package, does not raise enough eyebrows. Moreover the most necessary debate about financial packages themselves goes amiss from larger discourse.

Cultural Strategies of Class Society

Whereas the urban, upper class culture understands the language of success, achievement, media coverage, celebrity status, Americanization, globalization, or even nationalistic pride, there are uniquely guarded cultural traits among the indigenous peoples everywhere as well. The majority of people dwelling in the forest regions are intelligent, but illiterate, hardworking but unsuccessful, loyal but candidly honest as well. As a result, although they are able to carve out lives in the worst of weather, withstanding the natural onslaughts without regular assistance of the state, build their own homes without qualifying to receive bank loans, they are also almost usually straightforward in their dissent, vocal in protests and possessive when it comes to the rivers, and lands.

The corporate culture of urban India has similar socio-cultural backgrounds as that of their Korean counterparts. It is not surprising that the agony of combating conflicts raised by the lowbrow masses becomes equally intolerable to the capitalist fraternity. The crucial difference that lies between the poor and “backward” rural Orissa population, and the ambitious upper middle class Indians and Koreans is founded on economy, but is consolidated on cultural givens perpetuated by their respective class characters.

The problem would have perhaps been much less or perhaps grown more desirably complicated, had the have-nots class been deciding what would hold good for the haves-class. For example, if the victims of POSCO would have to prescribe what would be better for the development of the world, they could start with advocating for better irrigation projects, small scale village cooperatives, and a ban on high-rises (to prevent unauthorized use of groundwater). There would always be shades of regressive and progressive thoughts when such idea would be entertained. Some villagers would indeed insist on reinforcing superstitions-even as most are merely based on the capitalist-sexist order of a propertied patriarchy.

However, the reality is the voices from the forests are choked by the mainstream media. With the media following their internal rules of thumb when it comes to define the legitimate sources for airing opinions (bureaucrats, business authorities), and they forming the larger framework for what is considered to be commonsense knowledge today, it is but natural that the struggle is entirely lopsided in favor of the educated opportunists.

In POSCO, it is still a ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’ situation for the combine of ruling politicians, parasitical bureaucrats and the greedy capitalists. If the villagers don’t cooperate, they will continue to face the wrath of the state. And now that they have displayed disdain against the local police who serve as custodian of capitalistic interests, the situation is merely going to be worse for the dissenting people. If they succeed at preventing the lands from being exploited, it is they and their family members who must endure the violence on their dignity for generations to come. And if they allow for the state to hoodwink them off their right to land, they will naturally be shoved to obscurity after some bundles of cash are thrown at them.

Those that advocate compensation theory for the displaced naturally assume that money holds greater value in society than human dignity. This is not entirely dramatic, since this holds true for many upper class people. But to conclude that the same notions of cut-throat competitiveness and zeal to walk upon corpses to climb power ladders are inherent with every villager is a dangerous presumption.

And in the maddening race to justify such presumptions as rules that can be generalized on behalf of the humanity, the first casualty/victim of inhuman greed often is the nature herself. Environmental concerns are relegated to backstage entirely by the same consciousness that denies Darwin and Global Warming. As a result, the long standing battle between the people out to protect their land, forest and river and the antagonized business class gets to the next level. Resorting to corruption of mind and morals, the rich class gets the various environmental boards to work for it.

No wonder, the State Pollution Control Board at Bhubaneswar even went ahead and gave clean chit to POSCO, much to the ire of the protesters. The protestors under the banner of a voluntary organization, Navnirmanamiti, had been vehemently opposing the issuance of a No Objection Certificate (NOC). “We are opposing the issuance of the NOC to POSCO by the State Pollution Control Board. We also want to know, on what basis the public hearing on the issue was held, as majority of the people who will be affected by the project were not present during the hearing,” said Akshya Kumar, convener of a voluntary organization to the local media.

Rich get richer as poor state becomes poorer

Amidst the growing presence of POSCO, we must not lose focus of the great progress that people have been making in opposition to the global monster. Protests against POSCO have reached significant scales and it has rendered the state government entirely helpless. Not wanting to repeat the Kalinga Nagar massacres, the government has instead resorted to the trickery that modern day democracies are famous for. Since the people could not be convinced to give up their lands, the Naveen Patnaik regime has offered 3500 acre of government land to POSCO just adjacent to the farm-lands of the threatened cultivators in a bid to compel them to sell away their rights to POSCO, else to face greater crisis. Bigger damages are inevitable since industrial wastes would not let the farmers live in peace in the same locality.

In a micro level study by Dr. M.Mishra, titled, “Health Cost of Industrial Pollution in Angul-Talcher Industrial Area in Orissa, India” , it was found that “economy forces change on the environment, which in turn reacts back forcing unforeseen changes on the economy”, leading to people of Angul-Talcher sustaining a total health damage of Rs.1775.48 millions, per annum on an average.

Although the people bear the brunt of ecological disturbances, POSCO does not even pay its costs. POSCO plant won’t have to worry about electricity or water, because it will be given the facilities by the state. It has already been authorized to produce electricity out of coal mines that it will be provided with; meaning it will not be paying for the coal. Even without a SEZ status, POSCO has been given enough leverages, also on the front of water. No estimates have been conducted as to the amount of water that will be utilized and of its source, in a drought-ridden state. Now that SEZ status is part of the MoU, naturally enough, POSCO will evade all the taxes even while exploiting the natural resources preserved so far by the population it aims to displace.

The Left front has opposed POSCO so far in as symbolic terms as they go. Only after the cat has spilled the milk, the tears have started flowing in. Prakash Karat said to The Hindu that, “We are not against FDI in the mining sector. But the country’s mineral policy is faulty as it allows loot of our mineral wealth by foreign companies. Unless we challenge the country’s mineral policy, we cannot fight the POSCO deal.” So the official Left is not indeed opposed to Imperialism in practice, only that they want it in moderation. Such imbecile logic can only held in jest, not in contempt. The questions being asked in relation to POSCO are still industry-defined, not people-driven.

When it comes to people, questions are being asked related to the number of jobs that will be generated. As misleading the numbers can be, the neoliberal promoters always champion some or the other numerical value to put forward their advocacy. In this case, the talks of annual growth rates will come later perhaps, for now POSCO and Naveen Patnaik administration claim they will be providing direct jobs to 13,000 people, and 35,000 will get indirectly benefited. The quality of jobs are not discussed anywhere, for a state which is identified by its seasonal and disguised unemployment rates. Of course all these numbers include the daily wage laborers, the carpenters and tea-stall boys. Likewise another figure doing the rounds is how the state will gain Rs 22,500 crore in 30 years time and the central government making Rs 89,000 crores in that time period. This amounts to a total Rs 1,11,500 crores for 30 years. Of course this so-called net gain will entirely be used up in the process of granting of SEZ status to POSCO. And all this much ado for nothing is going to be in contrast to the Rs 10,00,000 crores worth of iron ore that Orissa will be giving away to POSCO, not to mention more than 6,000 acres of land, complimentary water, electricity, roads and railways.

Orissa is yet again getting prepared to be massively exploited. But that is just the beginning of the ordeal. What remains to be seen is the extent to which imperialistic designs would continue to make inroads by either taking over, or giving cover to the domestic business partners in areas where the masses are likely to be perished under dual oppression.

Beyond the Judiciary – Reservation as Reparation

Saswat Pattanayak

“The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expressions of the dominant material relations, the dominant material relations grasped as ideas; hence of the relations which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance” (Marx and Engels).

The recent Supreme Court of India decision imposing a stay on the implementation of the 27 percent reservation for the “other backward classes” (OBCs) in elite institutions is a desperate attempt to secure a few public institutions exclusively for the ‘meritorious’ few, whose merit rests on accumulated wealth, connections and opportunities. This is also an attempt to draw a limit to the concessions that a neoliberal regime can admit (for the sake of public legitimacy) against capitalism’s Malthusian values which it is supposed to protect. Already the ruling classes in India – the capitalists and their political and institutional henchmen have been troubled by the growing demand for affirmative action in the private sector. The SC decision comes as a relief for the executive and the legislature, who are formally bound to local interests and pressure. On the other hand, the judiciary is above and beyond every democratic and institutional binding, thus can be more consistent in its approach. Even if the Indian government’s attempt to solicit the opinion of a constitutional bench to overrule the two judges bench decision result in the implementation of the reservations, the present judgment comes as a clear warning – this far and no further!

Here we will address the above issues from two disparate quarters: one, from the lens of the Supreme Court itself, since it appears like the judiciary might have acted here almost independently (considering all the criticisms it has been receiving from political parties), and two, from the perspective of the class society in India, at a more micro level.

Judicial Elitism

If we agree that despite all the technological progresses that should have made life for everyone way easier in the planet, the world is still in a despicable state suffering from unjust social order where majority of the human population is at the receiving end-afflicted by poverty, unemployment, homelessness-across countries, then something somewhere has gone really wrong. And perhaps to set things correct, to offer not mere sacred guidelines but forceful means to implement them, the societies have formed relatively autonomous judicial systems, which are considered essential for establishing the much-revered rule of law. Apparently the judiciary comprises the wiser of the lots deciding over how we are all going to lead lives, when there are disputes and conflicts.

However, the reality is that the revered judiciary for most comprises either people who are close to power structure (when they are selected by the government), or people who get there through sheer academic elitism (by virtue of their access to top law schools). In either case, the judiciary then does not necessarily, and very rarely comprise people, enriched by their varied experiences of social failures in life through which they understand the complexities of living conditions. Often times they are fed through to good schools and better jobs by utilizing their family’s Old Boys Networks. Most often the judges then reflect the interests of the upper social strata of the society – becoming in themselves, the rich, creamy layer. Hence, even when they seem charitable, it is charity that is expected ‘normally’ from these strata.

The basic agenda before the judiciary is to deliberate on what is the best way of maintaining the status quo within a given legal and institutional framework. Revolution cannot be enacted by the judges – on the contrary, when a revolution or any grand change seems imminent, it rests upon the judiciary to make it jurisprudentially ‘normal’, legal and systemically palatable.

On the other hand, one of the basic elements in the conception of peoples’ movements, howsoever moderate, is their challenge to the institutionalization and alienation of rules from popular scrutiny and control, even if they are not explicitly against them. This aspect puts them in conflict with the ‘rulers’, i.e. those who oversee the implementation of these rules. Naturally, every time the activists land at the court’s door for justice, by this very act itself they fail their cause, upholding the ‘sanctity’ of the court or the jurisprudential policing. The court as the arbitrator appointed by the system to negotiate between the system and peoples can legitimately do anything. It has famously disgraced millions of people attached to their landless movements time and again. It is because of the court that displaced peoples (a la Narmada) do not receive any justice. It is because of the court that the high-rises are still allowed to exploit reservoirs worldwide. It is thanks to the court that no ruling has ever banned the police from attacking the workers when they stage a protest against the exploiting bosses. In fact, it is the court alone that has prevented the working class strikes from being legal.

If the society has made any headways in its civilizational history – if it has forced even a faint “sense” of equality among men and women, and among the races of people-it is because of the thousands of movements outside the courtroom-and, always against the prevailing social order. A court merely observes the situations outside to safeguard its own interests inside, because the court often consists of the same class of people that become the object of protests. As the agreements are reached outside, the rulings are made inside-which is why the court is always for months (or weeks) delayed in taking decisions. In the present case, let’s wait till August, the judges have cautiously remarked.

Who’s Afraid of the Class Society in India?

For, it is outside the courtroom, the realities are more apparent, as they are unmediated by the jurisprudential exactitude, which trims down the realities to fit them in the judges’ learned sense. After all, most people do not pretend to be either wise or learned. In a country like India, where fifty percent of women and 35% of all people are sheer illiterate, people have been even instructed that they are not learned. And since wisdom in the age of information warfare is constituted of how much one succeeds in reading books and rulebooks, and not in reading people and situations, the large majority of Indian population is considered to be object, not subject of knowledge, of power.

How else can the country still be managing itself to be riding a racist power ladder since six decades of its “independence” now? How else can one rationalize why the judges could have ignored what the world could not any longer – that casteism in India is racist in nature. Just one week prior to a display of the Indian Supreme Court’s learned ignorance, the United Nations had already recognized in no uncertain terms that India carried on a tradition of racism against the lower castes of people. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) voiced its feeble protests against India being a country that “systematically denies Dalit rights at home”, even as the “learned” creamy smart bunch of Indian delegates at the UN debated over the difference between caste and race, confirming that they can be moral “pundits” over race matters, but will disown their roles in caste oppressions.

The seemingly unwise, ignorant fools of India – that comprises most of us who do not appreciate the fact that getting an entry into one of the elite institutions like an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or Indian Institute of Management (IIM) has anything whatsoever to do with one’s ability to showcase more merit than others – are obviously adopting a regressive path somewhere. How else can one justify the almost complete and continued monopolization of upper castes in India’s power corridors, even as they constitute a tiny percentage of the population? Whose country did we wrest for when the struggle was against colonialism? A country that would have gone back to the elite bureaucrats of the Raj or a country that sought for social equality among classes of people – divided along the line of castes and religions by historical ruling elites?

A mantra of India’s Independence has been well played now – and one can say enough played now – to evoke ringtones and create a thriving industry called Bollywood. But it sure is a sense of humor we could do well without. India continues to be oppressed by a small elite which is a mirror image of their counterparts during the colonial period – a group of people who believe that only a certain segment of population can be allowed to flourish. A group that thrives on a class society that makes impossible to bridge the gap between mental and manual labor. In fact, it thrives because it maintains a relationship of slavery – in which the manual workers are the slaves. In a land predominantly agricultural, India is in fact a sorry country of its slaves-where by its own official estimates, 111,000 peasants committed suicide last decade-even as the slave masters continued to climb corporate ladders in their age of “globalization”. Definitely, this slavery is modernized today – with such a big number of slaves in reserve, you are not required to feed them continuously. The capitalist “hire and fire” machine is very convenient, indeed.

The official Republic of India is the country of slaves and untouchability – one in which discriminations used to be part of an unofficial public policy (until now – after the court decision, it is already official). That is, the Nehruvian dreams had drafted on its mammoth constitution certain sections along the line of abolishing untouchability. In doing so, the racists of India also smartly got rid of their age-old guilt trips arising out of their practice of untouchability. They created cultural images of untouchability existing only in the village lines of drawing water from the well. And silently they went on creating domestic slaves of the manual servants from the lower caste people in their high-rise buildings. They declared that in rural schools, now everyone was free to study and anyone who discriminates against others based on their caste will be penalized. Because they knew they would never enter those schools anyway-schools without blackboard, furniture and most of the times a teacher. Instead they created their own private English medium schools and created a reservation policy for students to enter into their elite technical institutes.

Who deserves reservations?

The progressive reservation policies – be it for SC/ST or OBCs; for the women, or for the people with disabilities-are of course different from the other form of reservations that exist without a debate – for the Non-Resident Rich Indians who call themselves “India Inc” and for the Indian Rich who are invited to buy the seats reserved only for those who can afford them.

The rest of the seats, they call comprises for the students with ‘merit’. No surprises to be here, considering that among other grand narratives of India’s entity (such as independence, liberalization, software giant, knowledge powerhouse, superpower for 2012 etc), this merit proposal fits rather beautifully. After all how can a country claim itself to be a “giant” without saying it has done so through merit!

India is indeed a giant-only one that has surged forward through perishing under its wheels of fortune, the millions of hungry and homeless it always chooses to ignore. After all, giants emerge only in this vicious manner – by gulping down anything that comes on their way. India has almost perfected that art by now, in refusing its people the land they deserve, by refusing its students the access they require, by eliminating its dissenters from its public and private press discourses.

The current discourse around reservations is quite interesting. Indeed no political party seems to be agreeing with the judiciary. So, suddenly have all the political parties gone progressive in India? What is at stake here?

In a simplistic fashion, possibly it is true that the political protests are in part to their apparently temporary loss of power. After all, even with legislative approvals, how could the court nullify the government decision? These protestors still have not got over the shock over this tacit powerlessness, far from realizing that it is they that hold the court to be a sacrosanct institution where they could run to every time they had a conflict over state water policies. Every time the government utilized the court to replace peoples’ protests into policy matters. So whenever in India (or elsewhere in the world likewise) people took up a movement to destabilize the government system, the ruling party and the opposition together rushed to the court in the pretext of granting people justice, whereas all they do is to convert the revolutionary spirits into a “wait-n-watch” policy matter. They took away the issue from the people and gave it to the court. And here we have to realize that this “powerlessness” is actually as much a gimmick as any other power rationales are.

Remember how the Kings used to rule over their states in the bygone days. They would address their resenting masses that the Brahmins will decide the issue, and get absolved of the responsibilities thereon. The Brahmins of course were always in the King’s favor. It would be quite unnatural otherwise-except in cases where the Brahmins themselves resolved to be the kings.

The high priests of those days have now occupied the IITs, IIMs, and National Law School at Bangalore. These are the ones now advising the Kings – the political parties. That is their assigned role (being part of the “three pillars”) because they want the desired positions of security, money and power. It’s true that we know what the priests want. The question, is what do the Kings want?

The political parties of Indian parliament are not in difference with each other. After all, with all the chair-flinging incidents they still are together under the same roof. This is because what brings them together is of a greater value than that, which could force them separate. What values does their unity bring? Why the political parties – despite their most fundamental differences in their agenda sheets-stay together along with their pillar partners – judiciary and the press – is because they can form their so-called “democracy” system only when they stick together. If the “executive”, “legislature”, “judiciary” and “the press” do not stay together who will each run to when they face peoples’ wrath? Who will play the Brahmin when the time comes?

Officially, a prime minister of president or Supreme Court judge or mainstream media editor or any of their corporate investors are claimed to be different “check and balance” corridors of power. In fact at this mass deception too, they play out the acts very well. They have a question hour (get paid for asking questions on behalf of people), they have public interest litigation (what has public interest got to do with the court, anyway?), they have a letter to the editor (views that are of no consequences whatsoever), and they have corporate social responsibility (what’s that?). These are conscious and deliberate efforts to normalize their operations in the interest of the ruling system of which they are a part. No matter if they change political parties or newspapers or corporate houses or departmental bureaucratic divisions – they are the cohorts of the same batch of rulers that must “swim together or sink together”.

Of course they would prefer to swim together. And in this larger context of reservations, especially so.

What is important is not why the judges came up with such a decision (which is a natural class-alliance issue), but the more pressing question is how did they get away with making this decision? Were they not afraid of the people outside – that majority of people in whose favor a contrary decision was supposed to be taken? Were they not taking a chance with the Parliament-that sacred body of legislators who had already taken a decision? The answer is neither.

And in fact, quite the contrary. Judiciary has been once again used by the government to do what it always wanted to: to provide an illusion of equality while maintaining the status of inequality. The parliamentary decision last December had come with pressure to answer back to the constituencies of OBCs. Once the pressure was off, the government rushed to the judiciary with ill-filled papers of 1931 (as an excuse) to reverse the legislation. And the two-bench committee did exactly as per the governmental wish. Like the Brahmins of the royal era, the judicial priests knew that they were the last resort of blinded wisdom.

Such macabre dramas play out in our life everyday. One needs no reading of Arthashastra or of The Prince to learn the art of governance. We are acutely aware of the true faces of power accumulating politicians, corrupt judges, greedy business houses and the corporate press – and we are well aware how despite the façade of apparent disagreements, they all gel so well as to unite together against the majority of people by creating an elite commonsense.

The opposition to reservations in India is part of the elite commonsense. The judges got away with such decisions because they knew they would be protected only if they do so. The larger Indian media have been harping on the need to abolish reservations, so also the top administrators and corporate kingpins. From the editors, to bureaucrats to industrial leaders-majority of them do not just incidentally happen to be belonging to the higher castes, in fact they are there only because of their trampling over the hopes and aspirations of the lower caste peoples.

Just as economic classes developed the race paradigm, they also created the caste structures. Historical alliance between class and caste is no mystery today. What needs exploration is beyond the academic understanding of the alliance, and more of a social revolutionary movement towards destabilizing that alliance.

At this stage, the commonplace dominant narrative insists that the SC/STs were granted reservations by the well-meaning leaders of India. This is entirely false. The “backward” castes of India were not granted anything. They fought along the lines of demands and protests to earn the reservations-and by the sheer proportions of their success in relation to their historical dispossession-they proved worthy of every bit of that. It’s entirely wrong to imagine that a government or its judiciary wing will donate anything in charity. Such a misplaced imagination can only lead one to the corridors of a court.

The fight to go on has to transcend its own limited imaginations. Knocking the door of judiciary is appealing to the hearts of the Brahmins. It is not the Brahmins who need to be blamed after all, considering that they have a share of power. What is important is to revitalize the movement taking place outside to make it entirely impossible for a regressive policy to be crafted either in the Parliament or in the Courts. And that is just the beginning. It’s not a question of reservation issue. It’s a question of revolution issue. The majority of people do not want nominal reservations. They deserve the entire institutes. They do not wish to work for the structures. They want the structures to work for them.

Ultimately reservation is not just a demand, but historical reparation obligation. And at its heart lies not the questions regarding the efficacy of reservations. At its heart lies the question of social order maintenance that thrives on discrimination. The sick medical students and arrogant doctors that went to strike last year are the questions to be solved. The reactionary right wing NGOs like Youth for Equality (who forever fail to understand that they are the root cause of inequality) are the questions to be solved. The judicial system that has no business with social justice is the question to be solved. The question to be solved is the question of our times: how long will people silently suffer at the hands of a political system that uses unofficial policies to maintain authority – pimping press, and a free market. The question to be solved is how to snatch the power from these sugar-coated, superpower-dreaming elites of one-nation Indians and replace the feel-good plutocracy with a truly working democracy driven by the will of the real majority, where the difference between the manual labor and mental labor would have subsided enough to make the issue of IITs/IIMs and their reservation policies quite irrelevant. And any wishful thinking, any pleading politics is not going to ensure that the striking doctors will accept the wage of their domestic servants – no matter if the servant cooks wonderfully to serve the rich master and the doctor lets hundreds of slaves die because he has to stick to the Apollo and the thriving corporate hospital industry.

To snatch the reactionary power of the ruling elites, the task is not to appeal to the rulers. In fact, quite the contrary. Let me end the passage that started this reflection, by quoting Marx and Engels again: “The existence of revolutionary ideas in a particular period presupposes the existence of a revolutionary class.”

That’s the only task that needs to be done: to build the class that snatches its reparations by revolutionary means, not through appeals to courts and parliaments that ride on the waves of social injustice.


Appendix

[The above article relates to the following decision by apex court of India:
(Case No: Writ Petition Civill No. 265 of 2006 (With WP Civil No. 269 & 598 of 2006, 35 & 29 of 2007))
Ashoka Kumar Thakur Petitioner versus Union of India and Ors Respondents
Date of Decision(mm/dd/yy): 3/29/2007.

The Subject Index reads:
OBC reservation policy — prayer for grant of interim protection in the writ petition — the policy of 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (in short the ‘OBCs’) contained in the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 is the subject matter of challenge. The primary ground of challenge is that the Union of India has failed in performing the constitutional and legal duties toward the citizenry and its resultant effect. Consequentially the Act shall have the effect and wide ramifications and ultimately it shall have the result in dividing the country on caste basis. It would lead to chaos, confusion, and anarchy which would have destructive impact on the peaceful atmosphere in the educational and other institutions and would seriously affect social and communal harmony — concept of creamy layer cannot prima facie be considered to be irrelevant. It has also to be noted that nowhere else in the world do castes, classes or communities queue up for the sake of gaining backward status. Nowhere else in the world is there competition to assert backwardness and then to claim we are more backward than you — the creamy layer rule is a necessary bargain between the competing ends of caste based reservations and the principle of secularism. It is a part of constitutional scheme. Therefore these cases have to be examined in detail as to whether the stand of Union of India that creamy layer rule is applicable to only Article 16(4) and not Article 15(5) is based on any sound foundation — court not staying operation of the Statute, particularly, Section 6 so far as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates are concerned.]

Remembering Bhagat Singh

Saswat Pattanayak

Commemorating the historic day (March 23, 1931) that immortalized great revolutionary Bhagat Singh through his martyrdom, Radical Notes’ Journal begins its journey with quoting the comrade. Produced in full here is a letter written by Bhagat Singh to his father Sardar Kishan Singh, who in the eve of judgment submitted a petition to the trial judges for permission to produce a defense witness to save his son.

I have typed it out from a chapter written by Bhagat Singh’s friend and comrade Bejoy Kumar Sinha. For reproducing this work, I am thankful to the Delhi-based People’s Publishing House for the book “India’s Freedom Struggle: Several Streams”, edited by Sarkar, Bardhan, & Balaram, 1986.

Readers will surely go beyond the sentiments to view a glimpse of India’s freedom struggle, and yet understand that the deep seated well meaning sentiments do affect revolutionary goals negatively at many times. The line between professed selfish love and practiced social goals needs to be one of the bold revolutionary nature, sans which it becomes quite easy to tow the line of individualistic aspirations and solely personal freedoms.

There are too many distractions in the world today, from Ayn Rand to God Blessed Flags; from salary hikes to Friday parties; from getting an Oprah ticket to being ticketed for drunk driving; from life on the celebrity fast lanes to life on edge of thrilling video games; and it’s quite easy to fall prey to the “good family”, or “happy couple” theories of the heterosexist preachers and the model minority status of the aspiring educated urban youths. Too many temptations, for sure.

However, there are just a very few goals in order to attain social justice for the most, and despite that, its often invariably less taken. And they are not so difficult to head towards, if one knows that individual life is as precious as one’s convictions would lead one to believe. Bhagat Singh as an instance, clearly overlooked, ignored and trampled the individual yardsticks (and came down heavily on his ‘good-family’ background in the following letter) when it came to deciding between the individual liberty and social equality principles, and clearly upholding the need of social equality, he took the road less taken.

At the same time, its important to remember that he never acted alone, and never on an impulse. Never as a terrorist. Never as a trigger-happy war-monger. Never as a violent reactionary.

He was a great organizer and agitator, and to educate his own self and that of his comrades, he looked into oceans of progressive literatures. His was a planned commitment to attainment of freedom from imperialistic designs, not just a national liberation that would have transferred power from the colonialists to petty bourgeois. As this following letter would amply show: he was “pursuing a definite policy”.

I am always deeply moved by Bhagat Singh’s sacrifices and so have at times found his death was in vain. There have been such occasions while looking at the state of affairs among today’s youths when it has seemed so very hopeless. Yet, revolutionaries do not look backwards to proceed, they look back only to learn so as to march forward even with greater vigor. Hence the reality is that Bhagat Singh must continue to be an inspiration to many of us in our different worlds and we must feel the resonance every time there is a struggle against religious fundamentalism, against irrational superstitions, against orthodoxy, against conservatism and against narrow nationalists. Every time there is an uncompromising battle against the warlords, the police states, the rogue powerholders, a battle that has international sentiments echoing with the courage of Che Guevera and valor of Salvador Allende. All of them have represented the need of global unity against forces of injustice, against mighty powers of economic and social exploiters.

We at Radical Notes are sure the following letter is a good prologue to the example we need to exemplify:

“Respected dear father,
“I was astounded to learn that you had submitted a petition to the members of the Special Tribunal in connection with my defense. This intelligence proved to be too severe a blow to be borne with equanimity. It has upset the whole equilibrium of my mind. I have not been able to understand how you could think it proper to submit such a petition at this stage and in these circumstances. In spite of all the sentiments and feeling of a father, I don’t think, you were at all entitled to make such a move on my behalf without even consulting me. You know that in the political field my views have always differed with those of yours. I have always been acting independently, without having cared for your approval or disapproval.

“I hope you can recall to yourself that since the very beginning you have been trying to convince me to fight my case very seriously and to defend myself properly. But you also know that I was always opposed to it. I never had any desire to defend myself and never did I seriously think about it, whether it was a mere vague ideology or that I had certain arguments to justify my position, is a different question and that cannot be discussed here.

“You know that we have been pursuing a definite policy in this trial. Every action of mine ought to have been consistent with that policy, my principles and the program. At present the circumstances were altogether different but had the situation been otherwise, even then I would have been the last man to offer defense. I had only one idea before me throughout the trial, i.e., to show complete indifference towards the trial in spite of the serious nature of the charges against us. I have always been of opinion that all the political workers should be indifferent and should never bother about the legal fight in the law courts and should boldly bear the heaviest possible sentences inflicted upon them. They may defend themselves but always from purely political considerations and never from a personal point of view. Our policy in this trial has always been consistent with this principle. Whether we were successful in that or not is not for me to judge. We have always been doing our duty quite disinterestedly.

“In the statement accompanying the text of the Lahore Conspiracy Case Ordinance the Viceroy had stated that the accused in this case were trying to bring both law and justice into contempt. The situation afforded us an opportunity to show to the public whether we were trying to bring law into contempt or whether others were doing so. People might disagree with us on this point. You might be one of them. But that never meant that such moves should be made on my behalf without my consent or even my knowledge. My life is not so precious – at least to me – as you may probably think it to be. It is not at all worth buying at the cost of my principles. There are other comrades of mine whose case is as serious as that of mine. We had adopted a common policy, and have so far stood shoulder to shoulder, so shall we stand to the last-no matter how dearly we have to pay individually for it.

“Father, I am quite perplexed. I fear I might overlook the ordinary principles of etiquette, and my language may become a little bit harsh while criticizing or rather censuring this move on your part. Let me be candid, I feel as though I have been stabbed at the back. Had any other person done it, I would have considered it to be nothing short of treachery, but in your case let me say that it has been a weakness-a weakness of the worst type.

“This was the time when everybody’s mettle was being tested. Let me say, father, you have failed. I know you are as sincere a patriot as one can be. I know you have devoted your life to the cause of Indian independence; but why at this moment have you displayed such a weakness? I cannot understand.

“In the end I would like to inform you and my other friends and all the people interested in my case, that I have not approved of your move. I am still not at all in favor of offering any defense. Even if the court had accepted that petition submitted by some of my co-accused regarding defense etc., I would have not defended myself. My applications submitted to the Tribunal regarding my interview during the hunger-strike were misinterpreted and it was published in the press that I was going to offer defense, though in reality I was never willing to offer any defense. I still hold the same opinion as before. My friends in the Borstal Jail will be taking it as a treachery and betrayal on my part. I shall not even get an opportunity to clear my position before them.

“I want that the public should know all the details about this complication and therefore, I request you to publish this letter.
Yours obediently,
Bhagat Singh”

A Review of “The Darker Nations”

Saswat Pattanayak 

Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, The New Press, New York, 2007. Hardcover, 384 pp. Amazon/NP 

The Darker Nations is a critical historiography of the Third World. Vijay Prashad’s deeply instructive as well as occasionally mordant looks at events and processes that made up the history of oppressed peoples in the 20th century comprise this brilliant work. It is a book profound for being peremptory, and absolutely necessary for being so relevant today that it is imperative for activists and researchers alike.

For one, the various assumptions that form a dominant paradigm of Eurocentrism need radical reproving. Yet that would merely amount to a criticism of the thesis itself. Prashad goes beyond that and proposes an alternative narration to the history – not just of the Third World, but also through its lenses, the peoples’ history of the world during the last century. Darker Nations in some ways could be appositely used to speak for aspirations of the oppressed everywhere. In this sense, the book is a celebration of collective hope, even as it traces the demise of a grand project based on it.

I

The thesis of the book circles around the Third World as a unique project on its own. Even as there have been far too many usages of “First” and “Second” Worlds in contrasts, the reader is never lostdarker nationsto the main point: that is, the Third World was not merely in response or reaction to the prevailing ‘cold war’ grand narration, but it was more importantly an independent culmination out of unique historical necessities to combat neocolonialism and to promote internationalist nationalism.

To that extent, the author has conducted painful researches and unearthed valuable and often less quoted documents. The book thus does justice to the Suez Canal nationalization controversy and credits Nasser for his motives beyond cold war considerations. It brings Nehru alive through his letter drafted for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that argued against nuclearism, appealing to both Kennedy and Khrushchev. The book researches Che Guevara’s UN speech that assumed a necessary political standpoint for all oppressed countries: “As Marxists, we maintain that peaceful co-existence does not include co-existence between exploiters and exploited, between oppressors and oppressed.”

What, then, was common to the Third World? For the nationalist leaders, the fact that they were all colonized. Prashad writes, “For them, the nation had to be constructed out of two elements: the history of their struggles against colonialism, and their program for the creation of justice….The Third World form of nationalism is thus better understood as an internationalist nationalism.” (p.12)

Prashad’s assessment of “neopatriarchy” and domestic capitalism in the third world is quite worthwhile. This book is clearly a critical document for collective introspection of the oppressed peoples than an empty glorification of a united umbrella. In this sense, it is a necessary and long awaited work, which while marking the sites of struggle does not lose sight of the continuing struggles.

The author has cleverly named the chapters after the various sites of significance. Clever, because the chapters (Paris, New Delhi, Bali etc.,) have less to do with specific descriptions of the cities of those times than they have to do with bringing these otherwise disparate places together in context – at times stretching the contexts well out of bounds of the chapter title; at times celebrating the specificity with a poem by Neruda. One would be tempted to verify the header of the page several times while going through the texts just to make sure that she is in the right page. Yet such deliberate discursions are wisely scheduled to make for chapters that elucidate points contextually, rendering Prashad into a master narrator.

Illustratively, the author makes clear the intent of the book at the end of “Paris” chapter and perhaps leading one to wonder how much of the chapter was actually devoted to Paris. Of course that’s the idea of a project, the professor would convince us: each section needs to have scope for a flow into the next without exhausting every specific reference. It’s a project after all. A process, not a few events.

The book covers all that it promises to: Brussels meeting of “League against Imperialism”, Afro-Asian gathering at Bandung, Women’s conference at Cairo, NAM at Belgrade and Tricontinental Conference at Havana.

Prashad unearths the role of international communists in formation of the Brussels conference – a landmark event patronized by Einstein and attended by 37 countries/colonies. He writes about Pan-Africanism, Pan-Americanism, and Pan-Asianism in the context of colonial dominations, along with deconstructing the Kuomintang massacres of communists that might have contributed to severance of the ties between the Comintern and several nationalist leaders.

Prashad quotes W.E.B. DuBois in relation to Pan-Africanism within the Brussels context, although he omits Paul Robeson’s solidarity with the colored peoples at Bandung. It was in 1955 that Robeson sent his famous greetings to Bandung: “…peoples come from the shores of the Ganges and the Nile, the Yangtse and the Niger. Nations of the vast Pacific waters, greetings on this historic occasion. It is my profound conviction that the very fact of the convening of the Conference of Asian and African nations at Bandung, Indonesia, in itself will be recorded as an historic turning point in all world affairs.” Heralding it as a history-making conference, Robeson expressed, “Indeed the fact that the Asian and African nations, possessing similar yet different cultures, have come together to solve their common problems must stand as a shining example to the rest of the world.”

Prashad aptly summarizes what Bandung achieved: “a format for what would eventually become Afro-Asian and then Afro-Asian-Latin American group in the UN.” He also takes a stab at the inherent weaknesses of the member countries that lost moral grounds because of several reasons, from murdering communists to hoarding weapons, despite agreeing on some basic precepts of “cultural cooperation”.

“Principle Problem” of Raul Prebisch is explained in context to economic policies, in the crucial introduction to the role of UNCTAD, of which he was the founding general secretary. If Buenos Aires is visited for economics, Tehran is the metaphoric site of cultural struggles. Khrushchev’s betrayal of cultural workers in face of opposition to Shah regime is well articulated in a chapter that describes “roots of the Third World intellectual’s quandary was how to create a new self in the new nations”, thus reinforcing nationalism, democracy and rationalism.

Prashad’s political argument that the relationship between Third World and Second turned tumultuous after the demise of Stalin may draw some criticisms, but he amply demonstrates its foundations. He argues that the “new leadership led by Khrushchev and Bulganin adopted peaceful co-existence and pledged their support to the bourgeois nationalist regimes (often against the domestic Communists). The unclear situation suggested that the USSR seemed keener to push its own national interests than those of the national Communist parties to which it pledged verbal fealty” (p. 97).

Prashad makes a point that is vital to understanding of the Third World formation and crisis. In the Soviet Union, the Second World indeed “had an attitude toward the former colonies that in some ways mimicked that of the First World.” But this did not necessarily require pitiful stance at the Third World recipients. Prashad argues quoting Sauvy and Nkrumah that the Third World was not “prone, silent or unable to speak” before the powers. It was an independent political platform on its own, which according to Nehru stood for “political independence, nonviolent international relations, and the cultivation of the UN as the principle institution for planetary justice.”

So he asks, “What about the two-thirds who remained outside the East-West circles; what of those 2 billion people?” The narration of the author is instructive in a poetic sense. As obviously gigantic is the scope of such an inquisitiveness, he offers a plethora of factors/voices that could have been representing this Third World.

The book analyzes the various complexities of state politics in the Third World countries. It correctly mentions the several betrayals of communist workers in the hands of Moscow and Peking leaderships in the aftermath of Stalin and Mao. The book describes accurately the growing militarization of the developing nations. Prashad, while upholding the vision of the Third World, well encapsulates the elements of utopianism inherently present in some of the documents.

As an instance, the Arusha Declaration validated the twin principles of liberty and equality, individual rights and collective well-being. Prashad argues, “The main problem with the Arusha-TANU project, however, came not in its goals but in its implementation.” Though defying academic limitations, he does not give away credence to neoliberal economists/politicians like Rajaratnam of Singapore. Even as he describes the feud between Singapore on one extreme and Cuba on another, Prashad instructs us wisely about the pitfalls of economic liberalization. “The abandonment of economic sovereignty lost the national liberation regimes one of their two principal pillars of legitimacy. When IMF-led globalization became the modus operandi, the elites of the postcolonial world adopted a hidebound and ruthless xenophobia that masqueraded as patriotism”, Prashad writes.

Succinctly enough, Prashad encapsulates the present scenario: “The mecca of IMF-driven globalization is therefore in the ability to open one’s economy to stateless, soulless corporations while blaming the failure of well-being on religious, ethnic, sexual, and other minorities. That is the mecca of the post-Third World era.”

II

Prashad’s ending of the book with an obituary to Third World would have perhaps perplexed the writer he invokes in the beginning of his work: Franz Fanon. He even quotes the prophetic statements from The Wretched of the Earth: “The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose project should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers.”

Prashad’s persistent declaration in the book about demise of the Third World may bring back nostalgic chords, but would not undermine Fanon’s question. Have the problems that bore out of colonialism been resolved? The answer is no. Has Europe or the USA been able to find the answers yet? The answer is no.

In that case, is it not too early to declare the Third World a dead project? Moreover, is the author at times tending to air the lost leaders’ voices over the struggling peoples’?

No doubt, Prashad’s book is unique in its stress on women’s movements in the Third World – an aspect that’s comfortably overlooked when such taxonomies are applied to political texts. In his Cairo chapter, Prashad examines the role of women in Third World liberation struggles – from Rameshwari Nehru to Aisha Abdul-Rahman. This is significantly noteworthy, as women have joined the guerrilla wars as well as street protests in almost all of the Third World countries. And yet many progressive forces have difficulties in understanding gender relations, thereby resulting in mere “state feminisms”. However, was this chapter written because Cairo had women members on its podium necessitating a mention/discussion, or because a tribute to women activists is necessary to understand the Third World project? In either way, the book does not employ a lens of the women to understand the movement, although does a commendable job at understanding women struggles through the lens of the Third World. Considering that only this chapter has a portion devoted to a few women activists in context to Cairo, while the rest of the book mostly quotes the three “titans” or famous “fives” in explaining the history, I would say there are quite a few questions unanswered still.

The chief criticism against this work would primarily come from two quarters: One, from a strictly Third Wave (interesting how the growth of Third Wave coincides with the recognition of the Third World) feminist critique: independent struggles by women could have been much better encompassed within this book, given its scope. Prashad does a cursory mention of the alternative movement (considering that third-world women had a movement within, and against the larger movement) limiting it to a chapter and focusing on a couple of eminent speakers. Would the Third World have been different had the precepts for it not written by the “titans” and “giants”, but by women comrades who were voices of resentments against the hierarchies of nationalist and communist parties? Prashad does not dwell on this aspect.

Two, the criticism may become more scathing from the perspectives of militant activists. Third World, like Rome, was not built in a day. And certainly not through some leaders of few countries. Prashad is arguably right in crediting the giants and bringing forth the canons, but at the same time, these very leaders certainly rode the wave of success utilizing the larger unrest that was recognized by the anti-status-quo forces, often united through guerrilla wars, and almost going unnoticed after making vital impacts. Would the Third World have been different had the precepts for it not written by the giants, but by the larger oppressed peoples engaged in organized and otherwise struggles? We do not know for sure, but it would have been worthwhile to ponder over that a bit more than the book does.

The more crucial question then, is if such precepts were actually already written (or worked on with) by the peoples who did not find mentions in the historical documents that Prashad cites towards the book’s end spanning 60 pages. The focus of the book, although is in continuance of Prashadisque tradition of Afro-Asian unity, is slightly away from Africa. In fact, Mandela is mentioned just once in the book (that too as a pure travesty – citing a Ruth First memorial). The truth is Third World texts had been written in South Africa as well as in Nepal. However, such underground struggles went largely amiss from the work. Sure, the book by the author’s admission is inexhaustive and merely illustrative, but even a 300-page work could have inculcated some unknown peoples’ movements than chronicling lesser known leaders’ engagements.

Ironically enough, before proceeding to Havana chapter, Prashad mentions “From the early 1960s to the late 1970s, the rhetorical denunciation of imperialism reached its apogee even as the Third World began to lose its voice”. This is a dangerous statement to make if one considers that indeed from the 1970s onwards, the peoples voice in the Third World had immensely proliferated. No doubt the leaders – those giants who we find exalted throughout the work – had fallen to deaths or arrests, but the period thereafter also signaled the end of dominant and diplomatic voices, and somewhere alongside highlighted the obscure and powerful ones.

People who spoke truth to power were the people on the streets that challenged the nationalist parties which came to power in the pretext of newfound freedom from the foreign rulers. The growth of domestic capitalist classes in comfortable alliance with these nationalist parties were indication enough that the new powers were no less different from the old ones, except in their make-up and “patriotism”. In fact, these illusive weapons of nationalism and patriotism helped strengthen exploitative capitalism on basis of trusts of the “own” people. Such betrayals of faiths, notwithstanding goodwill of the famous leaders, were also being fought against on a daily basis in the Third World. Beyond the conferences and meetings and gatherings of Third World leaders under different names, there were large-scale protests of poverty and unemployment. Beyond the famous rhetoric of anti-nuclearism (while proliferating conventional weapons domestically) and socialist development (while harassing voices of dissent at home), people had on their own formed two classes in the society. The haves went to the ruling elites that apparently “voiced” the Third World for few years, and the have-nots remained with the unknown millions of peoples whose only commonality was their resentment against the power-grabbers. Be it Nehru or Indira in India, Sukarno or Suharto in Indonesia, the popular imagination went beyond such leaders that treaded the careful path all the while claiming to be representing the Third World.

Third World was neither the name of a place nor merely a documented project. And certainly it did not die. Considering that its origin was a necessity in itself, a necessity borne of conditions of colonialism, about which Sartre (another contextually grand omission from the book except for one mention – his writings on neocolonialism were far more instructive) writes in the preface to Albert Memmi’s ‘The Colonizer and the Colonized’: “Colonialism denies human rights to people it has subjugated by violence, and whom it keeps in poverty and ignorance by force, therefore, as Marx would say, in a state of ‘sub-humanity’.” This sub-humanity does not see its history changing with the midnight bells of colonialist departures. It takes quite a while for the real freedom to be conquested for even after the colonialists are gone. This is why South Africa’s period of struggle just began after Mandela came to power. South Africa’s Third World status will not die anytime soon.

So the assumption that “the Third World began to lose its voice” may have been made a little too early. Keeping in line of the eloquent narration of events as Prashad has done (for example, referring to revived “armed struggle not only as a tactic of anticolonialism but significantly as a strategy in itself”), the book perhaps wished away the Third World before examining its overbearing presence today. Do we have a Second World? I have no answer to that. But if the name Third World was admittedly accepted by the oppressed people of several continents basing on their historical heritage, then the phrase is as relevant today as it was before. Perhaps some countries would want not a place in it. Earlier, China was a question. Today, Singapore is. All the same, for the rest of the countries, nothing much has changed, except that the capitalist exploitation has intensified and expanded manifold, the national regimes have lost faith and people are more politically conscious.

If the Third World was imagined out of former colonies and if the colonial problem was chiefly an economic one, then the Third World has become even all the more relevant today. Simplistic as it may sound, there is a greater need for Afro-Asian-Latin solidarity today in the world than ever before. And Prashad, a remarkably profound scholar who gave to us treasures of arguments through his previous works about the need for alliances of the oppressed, would be among the firsts to acknowledge the necessity of such unity.

III

However, apart from remaining in want of more comprehensive analysis of women’s movements and of peoples’ liberation movements (both-dually oppressed by former colonizers as well as the nationalist rulers,and more importantly conflicted between the both – male and female comrades), the book also offers cursory looks at the external roles played by the First World in maintaining indirect subjugation of the Third.

Prashad rightly critiques the predominant views held by leftists about the role of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He argues that such a minimalist assumption renders people of the Third World insignificant and often passive audience in the larger world stage. Whereas he is absolutely correct in this critique – largely identified by the radical feminist movements worldwide – there is no harm in going through the roles of the CIA that have been well documented in a work that does chronicle interactions of the Third World “leaders” with the First World instigators. Many conflicting situations have been initiated and fuelled through CIA interventions in the Third World politics and that should have found a deserved mention. For instance, a critique of the Nixon administration vis-à-vis the Third World (including the recently released notes with Kissinger) is found lacking.

One need not subscribe to conspiracy theories to gain insights about how the First World allies in the “neocolonial” period have acted towards the Third World: less through coercion, and more through lucrative measures such as economic aids, western education and religion. Prashad misses out on the role of the Catholic Church that was the first body to significantly recognize the Third World as an entity worth pondering over. The large money, the pool of debts that would crumble the economic backbone of the Third World came from the consent of the Vatican during the early 1960s.

Prashad mentions religion quite casually, when he describes how “Mother Teresa would soon get more positive airtime as the white savior of the dark hordes than would the self-directed projects of the Third World nationalist governments.” Immediately following this, he goes on to make references to military invasions and embargoes.

Here the book could have made a crucial connection between the recognition of the Third World by the First World through the Catholic Church decisions. Mother Teresa’s airtimes were neither incidental nor were to be seen only through a liberal critique. The missing piece is that Vatican Council II which was the 21st ecumenical(general) council of the Roman Catholic Church was crucial to recognition of the Third World in an official manner.

In fact this council brought the most far-reaching reforms within the Catholic Church in 1000 years. This most significant reform movement in the world’s leading religion was brought forth during its four sessions in Rome during 1962-1965 (the first Council after its suspension in 1870). The idea was to aim for aggiornamento(renewal and updating of Catholic life and teaching). Such a vital step was taken by the Vatican as a result of emergence of the Third World. This council altered the nature of the church from being a European-centered institution to become a worldwide one so as to acknowledge the Third World countries, where it counted most of its followers. Mother Teresa and her likes were thus byproducts of this acceptance of the third force in the world.

Prashad says that Nehru, Sukarno and Nasser among other leaders did not use Third World to describe their domains, but does not corroborate their reasons, if any. For the framework of this book, the constant usages of “First World”, “Second World” and “Third World” is imperative, but considering that Prashad is eager to lash out against the “camp mentality” or “East-West” conflicts, he does avoid a critical exposition of the limitations that such three “Worlds” may bring for the readers.

One way to understand why the three “worlds” were not sufficient explanations (although necessary at many junctures) is to detail how the three worlds could not be thus compartmentalized either in degree or by their types. More importantly, the countries thus categorized under such headings definitely had uniquely different histories (colonial and otherwise), treated differently by their respective partners in their perceived specific worlds. On the one hand, Singapore had a different colonial experience than India. On the other, China’s Security Council membership put it on a unique platform, and there is no comparing between Soviet Union and Hungary. What is vital to this discussion is also the fact that there was not a yardstick that was used to specify categories either for the First, the Second or the Third. As much as the Third World was a movement against colonialism, such a usage of categories would still render it as a site affected by Eurocentric worldviews.

Prashad says Nehru et al., instead of calling themselves to be part of the Third World, “spoke of themselves” as the NAM, G-77 or the colonized continents. Although accurate, here the author’s own argument that kickstarts the book will be subject to questioning. Prashad says in the first line of the book, “The Third World was not a place. It was a project”. And yet he compares the project with some conferences and places (continents) to bring home the point that the leaders evaded “Third World”. Certainly there were other reasons why all Third World titans did not prefer the phrase (if at all). And that, we are still unsure of.

The author writes: “The phrase ‘East-West conflict’ distorts the history of the Cold War because it makes it seem as if the First and Second Worlds confronted each other in a condition of equality.” He contends that the USSR was socially and economically way behind due to its unique recent history. “The dominant classes in the First World used the shortages and repression in the USSR as an instructive tool to wield over the heads of their own working class, and so on both economic and political grounds the First World bore advantages over the Second.” Whereas this could be one truth, it does underscore the fact that more countries on the earth joined the Second World than they could be declared as the First World also because of the lacunae starkly evident in the First World. Whereas massive racism was predominant in the First World, economic depression and political censorships in the capitalist countries also contributed to popularity of the Second World.

A connection between the third world “project” and the United Nations (UN) is well established in the book. What perhaps amiss is a discussion on manners in which either of them might have contributed to the downfall of the other. Prashad says, “Today there is no such vehicle for local dreams”. The larger question then would be if the United Nations played a role in obliterating its dependant. On the other hand, a stark reality in the post-Iraq scene is the redundancy of a forum such as the United Nations today that effectively has no role either in shaping a collective conscience or implementing a pro-people agenda. Least of all, the UN has failed to safeguard the sovereign nations from external aggressions. It has failed to overcome the elitism of its Security Council, almost unquestionably letting the powerful countries to run their own little League of Nations inside the UN. Amidst such cynicism that the UN has contributed to, what responsibilities must the Third World project shoulder.

Amidst several responsibilities, the Third World still has to its credit a Non-Aligned News Agencies Pool (NANAP), a fact that is missing a mention in the book. Over 40 news agencies in non-aligned countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe have pooled their resources for the exchange of news reports and information to defy the vertical information flow of corporate media. The “Pool” was adopted at the Fourth Summit Conference of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Algiers in 1973. During that period, the New World Information and Communication Order was also proposed to democratize the knowledge domain of the world. No doubt, UNESCO was criticized by the American and European intellectuals, but the MacBride Commission succeeded in recognizing the divergent voices of the Third World in order to challenge the media hegemony world over. Responsibilities of the Third World still include an informed opposition to militarization, providing alternative channels to western corporate media, campaigning for need-based distribution of world resources, and most of all, representing the popular voices of dissent, opposition and celebrations. One wonders if the struggles to attain the above has waned any bit, if looked from the peoples’ perspectives. And in this context, the Third World still holds hopes, possibilities and victory. One is perhaps disappointed if the Third World is perceived to be voicing only a limited elite constituency – often opposed to the peoples’ dissents.

IV

Hence, finally, the book questions not the constitution of the Third World itself. If it was brought around through its various leaderships under certain historical period, what expectations should we have of this “project”? Were such leaders to be expected to play the truly internationalist roles, and to what avail? In the preliminary draft thesis on the National and the Colonial Questions, for the Second Congress of the Communist International, Lenin wrote: “Petty-bourgeois nationalism proclaims as internationalism the mere recognition of the equality of nations and nothing more. Quite apart from the fact that this recognition is purely verbal, petty-bourgeois nationalism preserves national self-interest intact, whereas proletarian internationalism demands, first, that the interests of the proletarian struggle in any one country should be subordinated to the interests of that struggle on a world-wide scale, and, second, that a nation which is achieving victory over the bourgeoisie should be able and willing to make the greatest national sacrifices for the overthrow of international capital.” Between the elite internationalism founded on peaceful co-existence and peoples’ internationalism based upon rejection of the international capitalist order, did the Third World got somewhere hijacked or we refuse to acknowledge its existence because we already defined its proponents?

Needless to state, the criticisms above demand for more literature for inclusion into the book, than specifically target the author’s works. Such a case arises only because the book is an extraordinarily brilliant effort that is bound to encourage readers to plunge more into the relevance of the subject. All of that credit goes to the humanely written, accessibly crafted work that shuns academic elitism and genuinely attempts at a peoples’ history of the oppressed world.