Month: March 2007

A Review of “The Darker Nations”

[Originally published inRadical Notes, 18 March 2007] 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 …

International Women’s Day!

“Violence against women has yet to receive the priority attention and resources needed at all levels to tackle it with the seriousness and visibility necessary.” UN Secretary-General’s in-depth study on violence against women (2006) (A/61/122/Add.1) Before we reach another consensus on violence against women, let us examine the existing differences. For, whereas it is far easier (because it is pacifying) to share the knowledge that violence against women continues to exist, it is rather discomforting (because it is agitating) to throw lights on why it is so. Like every year, academic and administrative reports of all kinds will be generated to commemorate March 8. After all, since we have a non-profit United Nations and we have corporate profiteers, we will eventually need to reach a consensus on issues such as violence against women. And amidst the thousands of articles and hundreds of televised tear-jerkers we will encounter in the coming month, the information overload would have done the damage, if we do not stay alert about few conditions that need addressing: 1. Suspect the Messengers: …

Capitalist Tsar of a Lost Superpower

Ironies in the post Soviet days surpass those that characterized it. Despite longueurs of economic progress that “Tsar Putin” has made an exhibition out of, it must appear to be ironical that every publication worth its name declares there is more poverty and less equality in Russia these days than they ever were during Soviet days. But what’s even more satirical are the suggestions from the concerned quarters that see this as an essential problem of the formerly controlled economy, than as an obvious aftermath of the presently capitalistic one. Considering that the crisis is evident (and multiplying) after the collapse of communism, it should come as no uncommon sense to perceive the root of disarrays. And yet the more populist and political correct accusations are aimed at the former era than the present regime. Well, that’s not such a surprising finding if we traverse back at the hundreds of thousands of myths that the private capital masters have spread over past few decades about the merits of capitalism. In such ways the myths have …

Corporate Perceptions of Telecom Monopolists

In what could be the most visibly grotesque appraisal of monopolistic trends of capitalism, Jeffrey Nelson for Verizon Wireless says, the telecom industry of America is highly competitive. Washington Post quotes him as saying that consumers can choose among numerous handset models and four major providers of cellular services: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. “If you don’t like what one company enables,” he said, “find somebody else.” Perhaps what’s lost on the corporate communicators is the fact that “four major providers” are signs of monopoly, and not of competition. American capitalism is on its path to perfection in the sense of its graduations. In the film production industry, six studios control over 90 percent of theater revenues. The newspaper industry is owned by only six major chains now. Book publishing industry is handled by seven firms and five largest groups account for all major music production in the country. One may feel nostalgic about the good old days when the situation was not this drastic, and private families were free to own as much …

Suddenly Convenient Liberal Press of a Nuclear State

New York Times is as liberal as one can get. Dutifully criticizing the intelligence of Bush administration, it venerates the need of White House warnings. Elitism be dead. Long live the elites! Regarding the much touted North Korean nuclear programs, the most trusted Daily editorializes: “The North Koreans had and have an illicit nuclear arms program….. If that’s not bad enough, consider some frightening truths. There is no doubt that Iran is moving ever closer to mastering the skills it will need to produce the fuel for a nuclear weapon — and blithely defying the Security Council’s demand that it stop. But even America’s closest European allies have little stomach for a showdown with Tehran, while Russia and China have strong economic incentives to look the other way. Which means that Washington is the only one left out there to warn the world about the dangers of a nuclear-capable Iran. Make no mistake: there are real and present dangers out there. But who still believes warnings from this White House?” Ooops…did we read that right? …