All posts filed under: Philosophy

Fashion Dialectics

  By Saswat Pattanayak “Fashion determines, in each case, the acceptable limit of empathy.” – Walter Benjamin. Benjamin belonged to the interwar period that witnessed rise of fascism, actively aided by European intellectuals who were hostile to the masses. The bourgeois was disdainful of the “mass society”, and the ways in which new electronic media were displaying potentials for mass liberations. Its high-brow standards were being threatened by the low-brow tastes of American consumer capitalism. Its exclusive access to the sophisticated art forms was being undermined by the new medium of photography. “Socialist realism” was connecting the masses to what was historically being denied to them in the name of “art”. Writers and intellectuals were becoming the “engineers of the soul” in communist societies that thwarted elitism.

Lesson from Snowden: Myth of the Free Press

By Saswat Pattanayak   The recent rise in whistleblowers in America maybe new, but the governmental scrutiny and penalization process is hardly so. Apart from the widening scope of social/virtual media’s sphere of influence, there is hardly anything unique about the circumstances unraveled by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Political radicalism, underground media activism and alleged unpatriotic nature among conscientious citizens in the United States are what has indeed uniquely created this country. It has always been the case of the powerful ruling class elites duly supported by the judiciary, military and corporate media constantly engaged in wars against progressive activists and causes. Because the blazing speed with which various official and classified documents now reach a diverse global audience is something new, the use of technology in bridging the gap between ruling class and the formerly clueless audience certainly appears to be groundbreaking in our times. But to claim that there are spectacularly outrageous misdeeds that the Obama and Bush administrations uniquely are culpable of when it comes to attacking free speech rights, is …


  By Saswat Pattanayak The association of loneliness with personal is based on a lingering myth. Far from being an individual symptom, loneliness is an inevitable outcome of an individualistic society. It is a state of being that prevents a person from exercising class prerogative and realizing revolutionary potential. And to that extent, loneliness is in fact a politically disempowered experience. Normalization of loneliness therefore typifies capitalism without reference to its deliberate construction. Instead of recognizing it as a contradiction within the irrational class society, it is glamorized, iconized and in many instances mourned as an aberration, as individual failing. From the suicides of celebrities to abstract artistries, select group of achievers are exalted for leading the lonely lives. The abandoned in love is sympathized, the Devdas is romanticized, the raw emotions of the jilted are exemplified. Reactionary arrangements of conservative ethos thrive through the cries of lamenting souls, the deep nostalgia of the good old days making the lonely present ever more miserable. The future appears cynical, pessimistic; its tone contemptuous and promises wry. A sense …

The Market

  By Saswat Pattanayak Real man Farhan Akhtar prevents violence against women on behalf of the Delhi Police, Al Gore makes millions to save the planet from temperature gain, Amnesty International recruits Peter Gabriel to be their conscience, Aishwarya Rai counters Polio and HIV/AIDS, Unicef heralds Aamir Khan as the expert on child rights, and Narendra Modi hires Amitabh Bachchan to spread ‘Khushbu Gujarat Ki’. And we lesser mortals, legends in our own minds, emulate our stars and wait for our moment to go viral on Facebook and Youtube, while these corporations churn out billions in our name via offering us a supposedly free platform. Even Michael Moore, the multimillionaire activist, sells a few more copies at the Left Forum. Rape won’t happen again, wail our criminal leaders on our television screens; while gives us a marketable online page to cry justice. From activisms against capitalism to advocacies by corporations, from revolutions on the streets to enactments on the television sets, from underground coalitions of committed comrades to publicized hobnobbing of social media elites …


Let’s confuse character with color Freedom with multiparty elections Socially just education with degrees  Class society triumphs with progress Religious upbringing with well being Social networking with activisms Facebook, Twitter with revolutions Tax evasions with desirable charities Charities with poverty eliminations   Let’s confuse TV channels with news  Security Council with peaceniks Gaddafi and Castro with terrorists Capitalism with prosperity, progress Occupy activists with social parasites Polanski, DSK, Paterno with virtues Feminist demands with hooliganism Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel with greatness Queen of England with hardworking Highness American plutocracy with vibrant democracy And working class with abject helplessness!   – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet