Lebanon Must Kill, Even As She Bleeds

As Lebanon bleeds, it kills.

It kills our conscience every single day,
as we carry on with our mundane plans
to further petty bourgeois career paths as usual.

Lebanon kills our ability to reason with truth,
as we carry on with our
and BBC
and New York Times.
Lebanon kills our faith in human good,
as we rationalize
that it is human nature to sustain warfare.
Lebanon kills our trusts in our own potential to rise up,
look into our comfortable shining mirrors on the walls,
and discover how unabashedly wretched we must look
if we smile to ourselves today.

Lebanon kills all that is beautiful,
all that is innocent,
all that is glorious,
all that is humane,
all that is kind,
all that is generous,
all that we mean by understanding for social good.

Yes, Lebanon kills, when it bleeds.

Lebanon kills our sense of empathy
when children of Beirut
are massacred in name of
Lebanon kills our feelings of cooperation
when we indifferently watch
hapless humans murdered in name of
Lebanon kills our pride in our identities
as we stoically listen to
blatant propaganda against Islam.
Lebanon kills our amicability
the moment we buy into
media definition of terrorism.
Lebanon kills our cognition
when we start believing
that there ever was a
kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.
That such kidnapping
has anything to do with the war
against humanity.

Yes, Lebanon kills, when it bleeds.

When we overlook Israel
as one of the biggest militarist regions
of the planet,
Lebanon kills.
Lebanon kills our intelligence
when we start assuming
a national defense establishment
is protector of anything human,
be it the armed forces of India,
or Israel.
Lebanon kills our sense of proportion
when we mistake the grieving
and affected
peoples as the terrorists.
Lebanon kills our basic values of decency
when we have anger
at the defenseless
and support
for Abu Gharibs.
Because we think
the Iraqi prisoners
were terrorists
and invading military rapists
are victors,
Lebanon kills.

Lebanon kills our children
and their children
and theirs,
because we have taught them the history
invented by
Rupert Murdorch,
not history
relived by
Howard Zinn.
Lebanon kills our fathers,
and their fathers
and theirs,
because they did not teach us
not to discriminate people
or disown gods,
and Lebanon kills us,
because we have still not learnt enough.

Yes Lebanon kills, when it bleeds.

When the so-called world leaders call
their lavishly delicious meetings
and use profanities
to address the suffering people,
Lebanon kills.
When the leaders perpetrate military race
by aiding Israel’s quests,
Lebanon kills.
Lebanon kills our memory
when we conveniently forget
that Israel is the only country in the world
that practices Apartheid even today.
When its lost on us that Israel has not one,
or two,
but 11 different classes of people
who are required to carry identifications
with their ethnic categories
so that they can be officially discriminated,
Lebanon kills.

When its lost on us that Israel as a state
works to benefit its “first class citizens”,
whereas the rest are
condemned in different degrees,
most even not allowed
to own residence in
nine-tenth of the country,
Lebanon kills our knowledge
of contemporary racist history.

Lebanon kills our curiosity to know and grow,
when we conveniently ignore the fact
that Israeli citizens of the
lower classes are routinely arrested,
and tortured
without trial for indefinite periods,
by Israeli ruling class
just as the fascists ever did.
Lebanon kills our power to look beyond
when we do not think twice
even as Palestinians have been living under unethical
military occupation since almost 60 years now,
without land,
without rights,
without hopes,
and any sense of belonging
in a land that rightfully belongs to them
and wrongfully occupied now.
That we do not pause
to think 60 years is a human lifespan,
Lebanon kills.

Yes Lebanon kills, when it bleeds.

We, the torchbearers of freedom
and trumpets of liberty
and voters of democracy
are fittingly comfortable
within our definition of these words
whereas using these words
we mandate our leaders
to go ravage millions of innocent women
and children
just because they do not want
our shallow words in their dictionary,
and that is why Lebanon kills.
We the killers of Edward Said
and annihilators of Mesopotamia civilization
are so proud of our conquering heritage
while leaving behind no history for “terrorist children”,
that Lebanon kills.
We visitors to mocking war memorials
and lying history museums
and readers of western civilizations
that validated slavery in name of gods
are so muted by our ignorance
that Lebanon kills.
We fanatic supporters of colonial
and imperial powers of Europe
that forced the Jews
and compelled the Arabs
and enslaved the blacks
and looted the working men and women
of the entire world,
are so happy to be psychologically numb,
and its so sad
that Lebanon kills.

Lebanon kills those that refuse to acknowledge
that revolution is the prerogative of the landless
against the landgrabbers,
just as
reactionary military occupation
is the prerogative of
the religious-military-industrial nexus.
And to those of us
who side by the authorized militarists
and take them for agents of freedom,
Lebanon kills.
Lebanon kills us
when we start believing in nationalities
as ends to human aspirations,
not as temporary means
to solve the question of bread,
so temporary
that after bread,
and peace,
we should know no nations
in order to embrace the worldwide working class.
And worldwide working class
should know
no national boundaries
and ethnicities
and religions,
because these are tools of the oppressors,
if it must come together,
and many of us refuse to believe this,
and hence Lebanon kills.

Lebanon kills us
when we blindly lend our support
to the orchastrators of global terrorism
in order to divide and rule our world,
and install their undivided Empire
those who for six decades
now in the name of war
against Communism
and “terror”,
had been working
to in fact cause wars
against working class humanity
in Korea,
in Vietnam,
in China,
in Italy,
in Greece,
in the Philippines.
in Albania,
in Eastern Europe,
in Iran,
in Guatemala,
in Costa Rica,
in Syria,
in the Middle East,
in Indonesia,
in British Guiana,
in Soviet Union,
in Cambodia,
in Laos,
in Haiti,
in Algeria,
in Ecuador,
in The Congo,
in Brazil,
in Peru,
in Dominican Republic,
in Cuba,
when the militarist combines assaulted societies
and bombarded destabilization
in name of promoting “democracy”,
and yet we applaud their victories,
Lebanon kills.

Despite their illegal interventions
in Ghana,
in Uruguay,
in Chile,
in Bolivia,
in Iraq,
in Australia,
in Angola,
in Zaire,
in Jamaica,
in Seychelles,
in Grenada,
in Morocco,
in Suriname,
in Libya,
in Nicaragua,
in Panama,
in Bulgaria,
in Afghanistan,
in El Salvador
and now
against the American working class,
we keep silent
and worship their billionaires
and deride the working class communities
of immigrants
and the blacks
and the Muslims,
it really sucks;
and Lebanon kills.

Lebanon kills when it bleeds,
because through our callous indifference,
and our reactionary supports
to the national defense forces
that thrives on the military industrial complexes
owned by a handful of global capitalists,
we have allowed the free rein
to exploit the indigenous,
the poor,
the working class people
by infusing in us
vast sea of ignorance
so that we would not challenge
the structure.
In fact
Lebanon kills
our mere existence
as beings
as we so submissively let our minds
be colonized yet again,
by raising toast to their victory,
by worshipping their gods,
by using their profanities,
by playing by their rules,
by spreading their hatred
among ourselves
in the name of their religions,
their moral standards
and their male supremacist,
self centered,
corporate orders.

Lebanon kills
because we live comfortably
in our racist,
world of lies,
and we let our world leaders
orchestrate occasions,
deliberately neglect law and order,
and find reasons
to commit genocide
of innocent people
in months of
and July
and rest of the year,
in London,
New York
and Mumbai
and rest of the cities,
so that
they can carry on their own agendas
to conquer country after country,
oil fields after oil fields,
economies after economies,
peoples cooperatives after peoples cooperatives,
tribal lands after tribal lands,
indigenous peoples after indigenous people,
forests after forests,
and in fact declare our world as theirs,
as a capitalistic,
conservative structure.
And hence Lebanon kills,
so that
when we are no more,
our children will at least
have got rid of us all
and a ravaged Lebanon
will guide a new world,
full of hope
because all despairs are getting rid of now,
each moment.

Lebanon must kill,
even as she bleeds.

Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2006


Powerless in America: Blackout in New York

Did you know that there is no power in parts of the famed New York City for last 10 days?

Highly probable, you heard it here first. Some friends wrote to me saying it was unbelievable as well. How come no one seems to be discussing it? How come no media well worth its name appears to be highlighting this crisis (one of the biggest blackouts in NY history)? Is it because most affected parts houses working class immigrants or is it simply a case of mammoth inefficiency that plagues ConEd so much that it hides behind public relations veil?

Not that staying without power is the irrepressible gift only of the Third World to humanity. But 10 full days without power in any major city does seem like some natural catastrophe might have caused the havoc. Well, that’s also not the case here. No natural cataclysm dismantled New York last Sunday and in fact, the causes behind 10 days that shook New York are still largely unknown.

What is known, however is what NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg says. After a highly outrageous sense of irresponsibility that was demonstrated by America’s largest utility company ConEd for more than a week, Bloomberg has in fact lent support to the CEO Kevin Burke.

That Bloomberg would do such is no surprise. A billionaire and a Republican, the Mayor preferred to remain blissfully ignorant of the power crisis for the first three days. Upon demands by the affected residents for criminal investigations against Burke, and ConEd, the Mayor arrived in Queens finally and expressed his astonishment at the discovery. But just as the protesting residents assumed their problem was getting a sympathetic ear, we heard of the MayorSpeak about ConEd: “They’ve been open; they’ve been responsive; they’ve been working well with the city; they’ve accepted our help every time. We can’t ask for anything else. It is their company, their network. ….”

Quite justifiably, residents of New York City, from Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Hunters Point are drawing parallels with aftermath to Hurricane Katrina, when President Bush was all praises for the former FEMA head Michael Brown. Mayor Bloomberg in fact topped Bush in this regard. “I think Kevin Burke deserves a thanks from this city. He’s worked as hard as he can every single day since then, as has everybody at ConEd,” Mayor said yesterday in response to ConEd’s efforts to restore power.

Fact Sheet:
Mayor Bloomberg might be well knowing about what his capitalist pal Burke did from day one, but since he did not know of the power crisis from its Day One, people have reasonable doubts over Burke’s knowledge of it as well.

In fact, Con Ed’s initial response to this latest blackout as Socialist Equality Party candidate Bill Van Auken says, “has not only been woefully slow, but reeks of incompetence. For the first three days, ConEd reported that only 1,200 to 2,100 “customers” were without power. It then emerged that in reality the crisis had blacked out more than 25,000 “customers,” meaning family homes, businesses and, in some cases, entire apartment buildings. In addition to the 100,000 people left without any power, several hundred thousand more had power reduced, meaning in many cases that elevators, air conditioners and refrigerators did not work.”


Photos by Saswat

The power crisis is not over yet for thousands of people, and yet New York City Mayor’s blatant support in favor of a deliberately misleading, and acutely indifferent private profiteering company opens up the debate of social irresponsibility of the capitalist system.

First, the issue was not highlighted in mainstream media, thanks to enormous reach of the ConEd’s PR wing (which must be dealing less with Public, more with Press). Television channels even went on to telecast how the “rowdy residents of Astoria” were behaving in power crisis. Second, they brought the Mayor in, not to empathize with the suffering residents (notwithstanding a report of death, and many old people falling sick), but to stand by ConEd.

Affected residents feel cheated and blindsided. They also feel like second class citizens of America. Not because they are Americans. Not because they demanded quicker relief. But because they do not live in Upper East Side or Wall Street. Because, like their counterparts in New Orleans, they comprise the minority communities, mostly working class, and mostly powerless.

And just like marginalized New Orleans residents were fighting the FEMA, the marginalized New York residents are fighting the largest utility company of America. It’s not just a temporary crisis owing to lack of electric power. It’s also a mass battle against the global corporate czars to regain peoples’ power.

Who’s Afraid of Gay Marriage?

As reproduced from the Women’s Rights Blog (Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, LLP)

With due apologies to Bryan Adams, the Summer of ’69 was the summer of Stonewall. New York City became a beacon for social justice in the otherwise hostile world when for the first time, the gays—ever oppressed as non-masculine—organized their confrontation against the American police and legal order—ever privileged as the symbol of masculinity.

In more ways than one, Stonewall rebellion is the single most valiant act of resistance of the oppressed against the oppressors in the recent history. And the many marginalized resistors of New York City stood at the helm of this progressive activism.

However, this path of defying the towering institutions of Big Apple has been strewn with many struggles. The latest one unfolded today at the court. Even as almost four decades have passed, the Summer of ’06 has exhibited how backward, how oppressive, and how conservative our law and order system still continues to be. How adamantly ignorant, and how repulsively inconsiderate the human judgments are till date proving to be.

With its legal verdict against gay marriage, New York State could not finally secure a position as the second enlightened state in the US (the only one is Massachusetts). One hoped, sincerely hoped, the city famous for peoples’ movements against the existing unjust orders, would have also acknowledged this one struggle by the people marginalized because of their sexual orientation. But that was not to be. Rather, the city, post-Stonewall, has now reverted back to conservatism of a shameful order and perhaps now has been turned into a beacon for social injustice—to declare gay marriage as illegal everywhere!

A Mockery of Justice:
Judge Robert S Smith on behalf of majority view rationalized Thursday:

“Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted.”

While opining these callous statements, Judge Smith has not brought in the slightly alternative and hugely profound perspectives that until a few decades ago, it was also an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived in any society in which human beings existed, that we had only a few elite white privileged men ruling over the majority in most inhumane manner imaginable, and it used to be considered that they were the ones to decide the definition of civilization and the barbaric. Not very long ago, everyone assumed that it was perfectly judicious to enslave people of color as it was considered that people who were not white, and people who were not men, were indeed not full humans.

Despite all trumpets that ‘Greek democracy’ exemplified, for centuries until only a few decades back, it was well taken for granted by everyone who ever lived that only a small number of ‘free men’ were qualified to conduct elections and define democracy in the world. Till then it was considered only so normal that people needed to be segregated to study in different schools basing on their skin color so that only some elite white men ended up owning all three branches of governance and left the manual works for the slaves.

So Judge Smith’s brilliant exposition to justify decision against gay marriage lacks this small authenticity of history fact-sheet.

Mockery is the norm?
On an even closer perusal, it will be well noted that Judge Smith was actually correct in his assumptions, only that the present era needed to be integrated in the historical perspective that he has taken. The fact is, its not “until a few decaded ago”, but even today under this current legal structure, we have widespread unjust social practices. White men are still being paid dozen times higher than Latina women for the same work. Poor workers are being retaliated against by their employers for bringing up harassment charges. And gay people are still being denied their basic human rights. Immigrants are being called ‘illegal aliens’ in the ‘modern’ country founded solely by immigrants. Poverty, homelessness, lack of access to basic healthcare are formidably overbearing upon the American society in 2006 Common Era.

The judgment against gay marriage in New York is a blot in the history which will be invariably questioned generations later and all of us will be held responsible for such irresponsible and apathetic sensitivity. Law is at times based on conventions, but if going by Judge Smith’s summarizations, law is solely based on conventions, then we do not need a court of justice to demarcate the norms. We only have to look at the utterly racist, sexist, homophobic society of today for solution. When the courts of justices are approached, it is done in want of judgments that are absent amidst conformism, not to seek vindication of unjust conformities that have been present “at all ages” or being practiced by “all human beings that ever lived.”

In what could be blatantly misinformed opinions, the court has passed verdicts to uphold traditional monogamous heterosexist marriages, in the following manner:

“It (the legislature) could find that an important function of marriage is to create more stability and permanence in the relationships that cause children to be born. It thus could choose to offer an inducement – in the form of marriage and its attendant benefits – to opposite-sex couples who make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other. “

Some of us could be highly amused by the naivety of these thoughts, springing as they are, from prepositions that are invalid. The judgment that decries the gay marriage citing scientific evidence (“Despite the advances of science, it remains true that the vast majority of children are born as a result of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman”) is itself unscientific insofar as the fact remains that the world has not seen so far many cases where “child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like.” The point is not whether children without parents have done progress (which the judge dismisses as exception), but the fact is the “living models of men and women” are actually thousands or million times more outside the family than inside it. The judgment is unsound; basing as it is on unscientific claims.

What lies beneath?
If we shift from the amusement, one can note that the more serious side to this exercise lies in the systematic perpetuation of historical injustices by the oppressive class.

Sociologist and critical political theorist Frederick Engels while challenging the status quo of monogamous marriage had said (in “Origin of the Family Private property and the State”, p 218):
“What will most definitely disappear from monogamy…is all the characteristics stamped on it in consequence of its having arisen out of property relationships. These are, first, the predominance of the man, and secondly, the indissolubility of marriage..”

Engels way back in 1880 said,

“Marriage based on sex love is by its very nature monogamy. We have seen how right Bachofen was when he regarded the advance from group marriage to individual marriage chiefly as the work of the women; only the advance from pairing marriage to monogamy can be placed to the men’s account, and historically, this consisted essentially in a worsening of the position of women and in facilitating infidelity on the part of the men.” He said in a socialist economy alone, the women would have “regained the right of separation, and when the man and woman cannot get along they would prefer to part. In short, proletarian marriage is monogamian in the etymological sense of the word, but by no means in the historical sense” (ibid p. 209-210).

Alas, the judgment of the US court has acknowledged the aspect of marriage only in the historical sense. Only in the dominant historical interpretation of monogamous heterosexist marriages that prevented a) the women to refuse domestic oppression, and b) people from practicing their different sexual orientations or refusing assigned gender roles. A history that has denied self-expression to majority of people who have either not found solace in the preaching of the Church or in the actions of the elite ruling classes. A history that speaks the dominant narrative of the establishments, not of the peoples’ version of how the establishment thrived on exploitation legacies. A history that has hitherto stood by the side of the unjust conventions of war as a solution, oppression as a ruling tool, and fraud as a valid tactic of gaining powerful positions.

Although the mainstream history would be funded to picture New York City through the lens of its founding ‘fathers’, its mayors, its judges, and the owners of the ‘Statue of Liberty’; the peoples’ history of the city will not forget this day as one of shame, and of systematic sham.

End Global Terrorism. Save Mumbai from Hindu Fanatics.

Giving into pressure from his promoters, the so-called opposition parties in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has, as usual, condemned Pakistan for Mumbai blasts, and threatened disruptions to any peace talk with Pakistan. The right-wingers of India are jubilant at this prospect of forthcoming war with Pakistan, in which they hope to wipe out Islam from the world.

The irreparable damage that could not have resulted from the right wing political rhetoric alone, has now been done through their orchestration of Mumbai tensions. Following the blasts, most of even otherwise liberal people of India are now readily supporting the cause of Hindu fanatics in declaring war against Indian Muslims and Pakistan. This is grossly pathetic display of patriotism by any standard, and a sense of ingratitude towards a great, exemplary minority religious community of India that has actively helped save whatever is left of India’s grace.

Hindus who constitute an overwhelming majority in India have an obligation to display a great sense of responsibility at this time of national crisis. Let it be mentioned that Mumbai blasts is an international tragedy caused by global terrorists (we will soon go to who are the people that are the terrorists and who fund them, and for what cause etc). It is definitely not an occasion to play communal political opportunism. ALL words and actions and thoughts and indications, discriminations and prejudices against Muslim population MUST STOP in India. And blame games against Pakistan and Indian Muslims must end and the peace process must resume as scheduled. This is the least we can do to ensure that India has not yet turned a mad militarist (Although the reality is it is. Although since it’s not North Korea and since it is an ally of USA, India was not declared a terrorist country of the world even after its missile tests last week).

Muslim influence in making of modern India is one for great celebration. Indeed, if the British colonialists would not have forced their way to further gaps between the two communities and would not have manipulated their power structure to divide the country into two or three halves, we would have a different history today.

India’s History of Freedom Struggle against Hindu Fanatics:
The history would have been surely different, if Mahatma Gandhi or Netajee Subhas or Bhagat Singh (all three had radically different ways of approach towards freedom struggle, but convincingly similar goals in mind) would have had their ways. All three of them fought tooth and nail against Hindu fanatics and did not tolerate the ideology that was preached in name of Hinduism. Three of them were secular to the core and they believed that the country’s foundation must be built on Hindu-Muslim unity (not separation).

Whereas Bhagat Singh was assassinated by British imperialists, Subhas Bose’s ideals were massacred by homegrown reactionaries like Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi was shot to death by well organized Hindu fanatics of India.

Whereas the freedom fighters wanted secularism at all costs, the reactionaries wanted communal tensions at all costs. Hence, India’s so-called glorious history has been nothing short of a shameful, casteist, communal history of religious hatred, incited, engaged in, and managed by Hindu supremacists.

This is true that Muslim League, despite having some great patriots of the era, was also religious in nature. But its impact waned after formation of Pakistan. But Hindu Mahasabha, despite having no freedom fighter worth a mention, went on ransacking the emotional wealth of the country even after independence from illegal British rulers.

The history of Hindu ransacking in a Hindu India has gone on unabated in India since British were forced to leave. Although the reality is that these fanatics never got any support from mainstream Indian population, (85% of whom are Hindus) despite their claims to be representing the Hindus!

In the early periods of India’s independent history, which can be truly claimed to be the only glorious period in India’s recent times, the country under Nehru emerged as highly respectable nation in the world, with an internationalist outlook, where India played global role in promoting peace, cooperation and non-violence. India was at its secular best, in curbing the forces of Hindu chauvinism and indeed acted heavily against Hindu fanatics to the extent that they had to go underground. Whereas forming the Non-Aligned Movement in order to refrain from entering a nuclear club (which a shamelessly communalist like Vajpayee or the agent of domestic businessmen like Singh marred by their show of inferiorities—declaration of India as a militarist country…sic!), Nehru stood in solidarity with socialist causes worldwide. India supported the Soviet policies of planning, programming and social welfare. Cooperation, not competition, cooperatives, not private companies, small scale industries, not multinational companies, advancement of scientific rational progressive thoughts, not superstitious religious and fanatic camps…India was the most enviable country as the great role model in the world then.

But just as supremacist Hindus (although a tiny minority, they are so well organized with half pants and lathis and reactionary mechanisms in place) assured the end of Gandhi, they ensured the end of Nehru by fielding Patel against him several times. Both of them had rivalry since few decades before freedom, and even before Nehru could act undemocratically (which was actually the need of the hour, as Netajee had suggested, to educate people about political empowerment), Patel had let the Indian Army loose on Kashmir.

Of course Nehru cannot be forgiven for having tolerated entry of Hindu fanatics in the group already. For example, people like Ambedkar or Aruna Ali were not given the power. Neither Dalits nor Muslims had any primary say in the state of the nation. It was reinstallation of a north Indian Brahmin supremacy in India, that went on playing a different ideology than what Nehru had envisaged (as found in his own writings about the need to curb communal elements in India).

Indian private businesses started to grow after the demise of Nehru and despite valiant efforts by the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India had inadvertently fallen into the cold war game. As can be seen from Nixon and Kissinger talks about Indira Gandhi, America started having great interest in India (strategically that’s the best bet to defeat China and USSR at the same time). To that end, as was the creation of Taliban or the Iraqi fascists, foreign aids came to Indian insurgents to organize acts of terror.

Who are the terrorists?

In the pre-independence era, when the British condemned Bhagat Singh as a terrorist, he was very clear on his response. He said he was a revolutionary, and not a terrorist.

We need to dwell on the coinage and definition of who is a terrorist. First off, this is a word founded and coined by the ruling class to portray the resisters negatively, which is why it becomes more logical to believe in their description of who fits the phrase.

For many of the resisters however, they would rather be called Revolutionaries. That’s because revolutionaries fight against the system. And terrorists are integral to the system. Hence, the police forces, military forces and the profiteering governments become the terrorists when they cause circumstances where innocent people are massacred.

This is going on right now in India. The Hindu supremacists of India –the biggest blot in India’s secular image—are the ones who spread the venoms in early last decade by demolishing a national treasure called Babri Masjid. The terrorists who stoned the walls of the mosques and destroyed it with active collaboration of police forces (since they are all integral to the terrorizing network) that December 6, went on to incite the Mumbai bomb blasts—the biggest in India’s history. The riots went on unabated with an entirely unapologetic Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackerey calling the shots and giving hateful speeches against the Muslims of India. Shiv Sainiks who were aided by BJP in demolishing the mosque are the neo-nazi elements of India who should have been declared as state terrorists long back.

These were the people who came to power by killing extremely popular labor union leader of Maharashtra Krishna Desai, who was a communist leader of amazing popularity, already a MLA and was poised to rule the state. Desai’s murder was the first act of political murder in independent India. Shiva Sena hacked him to death, whereas the police and administration watched haplessly. The rise of political mafia in India has now surfaced to become the voice of the Hindu nationalists, and there cannot be any sadder development than this in India.

Journalist Praveen Swami of Frontline writes:
“Through the 1970s, Sena gangs repeatedly attacked leading Communist trade union leaders, and in 1973 were responsible for the murder of popular Parel MLA Krishna Desai. It was only in 1984, with the Sena discredited as a criminal mafia and in electoral decline, that Thackeray sought alliances with the Hindu Right, first forming the Hindu Mahasangh, and then allying with the BJP.
Violent riots, starting with the anti-Muslim pogroms in Bhiwandi, Kalyan and Thane, and through similar butchery at Panvel, Nashik, Nanded and Amravati, marked this new direction taken by the Sena.”

Activist Praful Bidwai writes
“The Sena consciously fomented religious hatred and communalised Maharashtra politics. It manufactured chauvinist prejudice against non-Maharashtrians and instigated or committed hate-crimes. The Sena, with its disgusting demagoguery, represents pure, unadulterated evil, a political force that concentrates much that’s negative and deplorable in Indian society, including hierarchical authoritarianism, repression and addiction to the use of force and bullying.”

Ashok Dhawale writes:
“Many other communal decisions were taken by the SS-BJP regime. These were the abolition of the State Minorities Commission, the Urdu Academy and the Haj Committee; the bringing of a bill banning all forms of cow slaughter, including buffaloes, but which was defeated in the Council; a shrill campaign for the imposition of a uniform civil code; an attempt to drive out so-called Bangladeshi infiltrators, most of whom were bonafide citizens of India hailing from West Bengal but who happened to be Muslim; and so on. The claim that was made by the regime that there were no communal riots under its tenure was also false. Communal riots did take place at Pen in Raigad district, Junnar in Pune district, Khirwad in Jalgaon district, in Aurangabad city and other places. The decrease in intensity was simply because the rioters were themselves in state power!”

The riot-ridden India:
By focusing only on the here and now, we shall be basically imitating television reality shows. What is needed is to introspect with historical clarity about how things have shaped up with people.

The great journalist MJ Akbar writes in his book “Riot after Riot” (Roli 2003) that Ayodhya was developed as a case in communal “dispute” back in 1885. The history of it is interesting to be noted here:

“The Englishman who reported this incident more than 100 years ago, that left 75 Muslims dead over the Babri Masjid said that the police were present but merely looked on, being “under strict orders not to interfere”. However a secular judge Pandit Hari Kishan (echoing the voice of millions of Indians) did not award the rights to Hindu fanatics to construct a temple. “Awarding permission to construct the temple at this juncture is to lay the foundation of riot and murder”. A.F. Millett, the British officiating settlement officer even mentioned, “It is said that upto that time (the riot of 1885) the Hindus and Mohammedans alike used to worship in the mosque/temple. Since British rule a railing has been put up to prevent disputes, within which, in the mosque, the Mohammedans pray, while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they can make their offerings.”

Akbar says, then in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the first propagators of modern communalism, the builders of a nation in the name of religion, first came into prominence. These ideologues sent out their missionaries—priests, politicians, novelists, historians—to color the mind of an emerging nation with blood rather than peace. The growing synthesis among the upper and middle classes and the creation of a common culture among the poor was the target. “Purification” became the key of separation, as the leaders indulged in dreams of Muslim and Hindu states…..

The Global Terrorists. Who are they?

The point is the purifiers are still present in one way or the other. Some times, at the helm of power, and at other times, in collaboration. And at all times, they are inciting violence on common people in name of religion. And these days, the local terrorism by dominant religions has been almost replaced by collaborated terrorism across the globe, which we call today as Global Terrorism.

Unfortunately, the global terrorists are this time enjoying power in big powerful countries. On closer look, one can notice the strategies adopted by Indian right-wingers as very akin to the tactics used by Israeli forces. In name of protecting the defense forces (ha!), in name of maintaining national boundaries, in name of safeguarding national interests, the militarist countries like India and Israel (you may please add United States and France and Germany as well…) stop nowhere in their quest to dominate the marginalized resisters.

But as is their wont, the ruling class uses every means possible to alienate people from the resisting forces. And when people themselves become resistors, they invent an opposition from the air, in order to project their indispensability. This has happened in every ages. In the most devastating period of economic instability that America has faced since the 1930’s, we are told that Saddam Hussein or Bin Laden are terrorists. Whereas this could be true, the reality is that both of them were creations of the American interventions. Taliban indeed is a logical consequence of American policy in Afghanistan in its attempt to enforce religious fundamentalism in that land.

Likewise, Indian leadership, pathetically criminal in their words and deeds (stealing poor peoples’ thatched roofs to hand them over to industries is one of the recent examples), are detested for rising prices of essential commodities and escalating housing and healthcare costs. In face of real crisis, the country has only its structural governance to blame (BJP or Congress, in the so-called political democracy being run by private businesses, everything is the same after the polls end…). And to avoid these, the creation of external elements as the disrupters is a natural political gameplan. From Hitler to Bush to Singh, everyone has applied this tactic of state control in implicit fashion.

Alright, but who are the terrorists then?

Terrorists are people who cause terror. From our experience, we know that terrors can be imaginary (as in dreams or in political speech) or real (as in price-rise, homelessness, death due to cold wave). So the answer is not very complicated. The real terrorists are the military-industrial complex of politicians who rule through the produces: militia to enforce and money to allure.

But if we need further critical appraisal, here it is: The terrorists make plans. They define territories. They decide on allegiance. They talk of countries and boundaries. They think of their own nationalities, and regionalism. They do not think of world’s working class, they are concerned about domestic business class. They enforce different privileges for citizens and immigrants and aliens. They terrorize people through enforcement of draconian legislations like POTA, TADA or Patriot Act. They use police force and military to perpetrate crime on women and children by declaring war. They use tanks and guns to suppress people who use stones and slogans. They get international support from all terrorists, thus making terrorism not a sectarian act any longer, but a global business.

These terrorists terrorize people by talking sweet and killing their aspirations, or by planting bombs and blaming imaginations. Scolding each other (look how Manmohan Singh scolded Pakistan today for Mumbai blasts!) while failing to apologize and resign because of inability to maintain law and order. In fact they are so involved in creating riots that they make a profession out of it and enjoy allegiance of people.

Today’s India is a result of the Communal Politicians like Bal Thackerey whose party went on rampage merely because of his wife’s statue getting defaced and who has threatened several times to eliminate Pakistan from world map. It is the Communal Politicians like Manmohan Singh who instead of acting on the right wing fanatics are blaming Pakistan for every single law and order disaster in India. New York Times reports Singh saying “I have explained it to the government of Pakistan at the highest level that if the acts of terrorism are not controlled, it is exceedingly difficult for any government to carry forward what may be called a normalization and peace process.”

The same article quotes Tasnim Aslam, the Foreign Office spokeswoman for Pakistan as saying, “In the past two days, India has not given us anything in writing or talked of any evidence.” Sumit Ganguly, a professor of politics at Indiana University in Bloomington says to NYT: It (Mumbai blasts) cannot but help India’s cause in Kashmir.”

Indeed, the goal is to help India’s cause in Kashmir. India’s cause in Kashmir has been one of repression, oppression and violent acquisition of the state’s population. Anyone who resists the Indian Army could be termed as someone backed by Pakistan. Or perhaps some of us might even say backed by America. Things will not change by the proclaimed associations or phrases such as “terrorists”. The power which has been ruling over Kashmir for six decades now need to recognize its need to let the people take back the state. Let there be referendums in Kashmir. Indeed, let there be referendum in India.

Different questions beg different answers. Just like during Mumbai blasts, in recent (as always) Israel attack on Palestine, different questions are being asked too. Some are engaged in finding out who is behind the attacks. I am trying to figure out who benefits in the long run from these attacks.

The people who ask questions like “who will then rule Kashmir” or “who is behind Mumbai blasts” might be asking possibly candid and urgent questions. But my question is altogether different. Mine is “whose interest do these serve”. Occupation of Kashmir or Mumbai blasts serve the political elites of India and Pakistan who are aided in their so-called peace-process (a conversation that takes place entirely without considering the resisting people, who are conveniently always dismissed as “terrorists”) by the US of A. My question then does not seek any answers. Definitely not on this blog. It facilitates further questions.

For example, I am still wondering why the attacks were carried out, why the police without investigations said it was Pakistani backed terrorist groups, why the prime minister before investigations were over, said it was just a few terrorists, why did the Shiv Sainiks go on rampage two days before blasts with its president threatening major repercussions (more violent than the cartoon controversy), why was it that despite its hand in the biggest blast in Mumbai (1993 march) in inciting mass scale murders, and despite right wing roles in genocide in Gujarat—interestingly the media do not touch these communal violence at all as antecedents–no investigations are being done against the parties which have been involved. Even judicial commissions that find Shiv Sena guilty are dismissed (Srikrishna Commission for example). My question also is why has law and order completely failed to take up responsibilities and although we cannot expect the Army (or Indian military) to come help people in crisis, why is it not at least contemplating over the past so many decades of massacres that have been leading to such escalating tensions.

Someone needs to take responsibility. Surely none of the current crop of leaders can take stands like Lal Bahadur Shastri, but its time media stopped quoting a failed and feeble and ashamed agent of global capitalism called Manmohan Singh, and indeed demanded his resignation for failing to act upon the communal elements.

In conclusion:
Every act of terrorism must be condemned. The more pressing need is to understand who are the terrorists. Only a few months back, when the Naveen PatnaiK Government of Orissa in its zealous bid to sell the land to some profiteers ordered mass murder of tribal people without any provocation or need, that was an act of terrorism, which went unnoticed. The Kalinga Nagar incident escaped attention of world media, because it did not involve Muslims. Or when the American firm United Carbide plant killed more than 20,000 people of Bhopal, it was not considered terrorism because it was not a reaction from Muslims. Or when Gujarat Genocide took place under right wingers of India, it was not global terrorism, because Muslims became the worst sufferers.

Without getting lost in the web of words, one must act on the root causes of today’s mishaps. When one does that, it can be unquestionably found that the far-right wing factions of world religions are the perpetrators. And so far at least, in India or America, the Hindus and Christians in their fundamentalist form have been holding power mechanism to their favor to declare war on Islam (American administration has not atoned for its post 9/11 crimes of religious discrimination nature nor is Indian government likely to for its post 7/11 outbursts against Pakistan and Indian Muslims).

The people in Mumbai did not die because they were innocent. They did not die because they were protesting Islam religion. They did not die because they were Hindus. They did not die because they were Mumbaiites.
They were massacred in systematic, organized fashion because the Indian administration failed to arrest the perpetrators even after they had sent clear warnings. And because even after the blasts, the Indian administration failed to carry out investigations into the cause of the blasts. People who planted the bombs could be unemployed, misguided missiles, either Hindus or Muslims. But the ones who used them to further their goals are still in power and they are fighting one religion against another. It is these communal politicians who need to be declared as terrorists. We should not use terrorist word only because the present American president (who has been declared by people as the real International Terrorist on the streets of New York) thinks the war is against Islam.
The war on global terror is actually a war on global poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, a war against war mongers and militarists.

However, terror is not an illusion. The real terrorists are very much present before us. They are the politicians and bureaucrats and blood sucking industrialists who own every means of mental production so much that they make us believe in the unreal terrorism. They do so by generating conditions of violence and then declaring the violence itself as terror, whereas they thrive on the conditions.

We need to ask different questions. Presently, we must force the communal politicians to introspect, if not be forced out by the same people it claims to be “terrorists”. People resisting against the communal politicians actually fight for their own human rights, and I am quoting a great singer from Goa, Remo Fernandes in his album “Politicians Don’t know to Rock ‘n’ Roll”, who represented a profoundly secular majority, thanks due to which the world still is surviving. The minority ruling classes of the world will soon be forced to withdraw from their communal tactics. The world without religions is the one dream…of Lennon to Sahir, and hopefully, to some readers of this blog.

Here’s Remo:

How do you feel?

This song is dedicated
To a species most hated
The curse of the Indian nation
The Communal Politician.

How do you feel? How do you feel?
You who have taught us to kill?
How do you feel? How do you feel?
Are you happy that blood has been spilled?

Do you have sweet dreams at night
Or do the sounds of fright
Come gurgling from your victims
As they feel the knife?
Do you have wet dreams in bed
About the throne you wish you had
Or do you hear the rattling skeletons in your head?

How do you sleep? How do you sleep?
With a dead body lying beside you
How do you sleep? How do you sleep?
Can you smell the rotting heart inside you?

Are you happy inside, or do you try to hide
From the graves you’ve been filling far and wide?
If you can’t have your cake
You’d rather poison the world!

How do you feel? How do you feel?

Mumbai Blasts, Hindu Assumptions and What Needs to be Done?

In a large-scale human tragedy today, a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai has taken lives of more than 150 people. However, these blasts are no aberrations for the financial capital of India. Mumbai—a city governed by Hindu right-wing fanatics of India—has faced such calamities several times in the recent past.

What’s unique about the blasts in the western India –Gujarat and Maharashtra—is their etiology. Invariably all the blasts have been religious in nature, targeted to create heightened communal tension in the region. And today was no different.

So, if communal violences have such a pattern of occurrence and regularity in frequency, how is it that the administrations turn conveniently indifferent towards their recurrence? Who are benefited in the process?

The usual suspects:
“Terrorists” is one-word explanation given as being the perpetrators for every systematic violence these days. Of course, this word has gained coinage and credibility through the usage by the ruling class. What is important to note here is that the more one uses this word, the more one tends to align with the interests of the ruling class.

A violation to the law and order necessarily is handiwork of the people who desire instability. Without going into the logistics regarding needs of instability (which could be desirable for various reasons too), one can assume that the ruling power draws sympathy wave from people by projecting an ‘external’ element to be cause of innocent peoples’ deaths. Interestingly, the structural instability actually happens only with killing of the politicians, whereas their structural “stability” takes place when innocent lives are lost!

Of course, it usually happens during the days when the ruling powers are apparently most unstable themselves. By every account, any war in the world is also caused at times of uncertainty for the ruling powers. Think of any cold war interventions by the US (spread of communism was the factor), or later on Clinton in Yugoslovia (Monica Lewinsky) or Bush in Iraq (September 11 orchestration). Or take for account, India’s own trysts with regional instability resulting in massive operations in Assam, Punjab, and Kashmir.

More often than not, these take shape of communal violence (just as every war has been fought by religious fanatics). In India, bomb blasts in Maharashtra or genocide in Gujarat are cases of Hindu fanatics attacking Muslim minorities in the name of their own misplaced insecurities.

Misplaced Insecurities:

In the past, the allegations by Hindu Mafia of India against the Muslims were based on myths such as: “Muslim population is increasing in rapid pace to overtake Hindu majority”, “Muslims of India are Pakistani loyalists, and since Pakistan is an enemy state, Muslims must be declared so too” etc. Practicing neo-nazi tactics of training Hindu youths to take up violent means to eliminate Muslims from India, the Hindu militant groups have traditionally enjoyed quite a presence. From propagandizing religions in school education (Saraswati Vidya Mandir) to promote Hindu businesses (Swadeshi Jagran Manch), the right-wingers of India have stopped at nothing in overcoming their insecurities.

Clearly all these insecurities of Hindus fundamentalists have led to loss in lives and property of Muslims (Gujarati Muslims are usually attacked more, because of their prosperous business) and fellow Hindus (who clearly in majority reject these fanatics except for once when they elected BJP to a considerable tenure). But of course, these tactics are carried out most surreptitiously, and at times with blatant disregard to actual circumstances.

Why Mumbai? Why now?
In continuance with this power ploy, the recent tragedies in Mumbai started since last three days.

First, someone defaced the statue of one woman in Mumbai. But this woman was not BR Ambedkar or for that matter, Mahatma Gandhi. Because in Mumbai, and elsewhere in India, on a regular basis, statues of these two giants of Indian freedom struggle are subjected to desecration.

Ironically, this woman was way more powerful. As the late wife of the Hindu supremacist Bal Thackeray, the figure in statue commanded respect. Hence all political parties instead of looking into maintaining law and order of the state so that no publicly installed statues are defaced, and the ‘actual’ culprits are caught, they came forward to apologize for the shameful incident.

The sainiks, allegedly representing the majority religion of India, decided to react in their traditional manner: in a purely Hindu supremacist way. So none less that the executive president of the party (whose mother’s statue this was) decided to take law into his own hands. He declared proudly: “If derogatory cartoons appearing in a newspaper in far-off Denmark can have repercussions in India, this incident is bound to provoke reactions from Shiv Sainiks.”

What a shame!

First off, no one knows who defaced the statue. In all possibility, it might have been a handiwork by the right wing plotters themselves. The desecration took place in wee hours of early morning. The police in Mumbai say the incident took place when there was no activity on the street. In other words, it was not an organized effort by motivated party. To further incite tensions, an empty tourist bus from Gujarat was burnt down in front of the Hindu bosses’ office. It was also found out that this could have been a result of short-circuit, and not done by any motivated party.

Mumbai Joint Commissioner (Police) Arup Patnaik said, “Video footage suggests that the flames started inside, so we are also probing whether it could have been caused by a short circuit. Our priority is to quell the disturbances and maintain order.” The police said they had no leads on the incident that sparked off the day’s disturbances.

So basically, there was no reason to suspect that any Muslim groups or “terrorists” or Pakistan might have been behind such incidents. On the contrary, going by the way, the statue was chosen (to rouse sentiments), the bus came from Gujarat (Hindu violent prone state) and the location (Shiv Sena office), one could investigate the hands of the Sainiks in these events.

But, even as the state police clearly said they had absolutely “no lead”, the leader of the fanatic party declared a war. Throughout the state, widespread violence was let loose. Thackeray, after visiting the spot, told reporters that there was likely to be “ramifications”.
The dark humor
When the majority religions take stock of the situation, the communal racism just takes over. Because of the sheer majority of people that lead the war, they confidently go on attacking like mad dogs. Such rampage has been going in India since decades now.

Just three days back when on July 9, Thackeray warned the country that severe reactions from Shiv Sainks was inevitable, one was apprehending the attacks. Unfortunately it turned out to be even more serious. Closely on the heels of the attacks in Kashmir, where American interests lie, the attack in Mumbai has been planned in premeditated fashion so as to draw international condemnation: against Islam.

To appease American obsession with anti-Islam movements throughout the world, the Indian group of loyal foot soldiers have indeed given fuel to the fire. There was no international coverage of the violence let loose by Shiv Sainiks which had paralyzed the city of Mumbai since last three days. And to draw further attention, innocent lives had to be sacrificed.

This is an old political trick that has always helped Indian communal leaders. When the government at center has been doing absolutely nothing to agitate Pakistan into a war, the war mongering Hindu fundamentalists had no better excuse than looking towards Kashmir and Mumbai.

What needs to be done?
First and foremost, none of the persons on that local train deserved to die this way. Enemies could be well within the same people who are staging a drama of violent protests. There must be through investigations to that effect. Not biased investigations. The Indian intelligence sources need to be smarter than they are now.

Corporate leaflets pretending to be newspapers, like Times of India have already created headlines regarding the perpetrators even before the investigations have begun! One report already says, “LeT, SIMI hand in Mumbai blasts”. Highest form of irresponsible journalism can only result in such news stories. The report without naming any sources, says in the first paragraph itself that the “terror attack on Mumbai trains was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba and local Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists and was designed to trigger communal conflagration in the country’s financial capital.”

And in the body, it says, “While still waiting for clues to emerge, top intelligence sources in New Delhi seem pretty sure the blasts on the trains were plotted by Lashkar modules which are increasingly collaborating with activists of SIMI, which boasts of strong pockets of influence across Maharashtra.”

For such serious violence that causes hundreds of valuable lives, the press, the government and the so-called intelligence sources are highly irresponsible, and criminal in their misconducts. Times of India owes a public apology for displaying such highest form of carelessness. It’s entirely lost on me as to how someone can be “pretty sure” of the blasts while “waiting for clues to emerge”! As in the past, this time also, the official propaganda machine of India might prove successful and they may even go and nab some people with Muslim surnames (a recent popular Bollywood cinema “Khakee” (2004) dealt with this tragic issue).

History revisited?
In the past, everytime there have been communal violences in India, the administrations have found easy scapegoats in a) Pakistan, b) Pakistani-funded terrorists. Alas, they have never provided any evidence to support these claims. (while on the contrary, independent findings by filmmakers and judicial bodies have always found the homegrown communal parties to be the root causes). These blame-games are perfectly orchestrated tricks by the Government of India to maintain its supremacy in the subcontinent. And in the process the communal politicians have never cared to think of the lives lost.

At times, facts of life are too obvious to be missed. One of them tells me about the complete absence of deaths of lives of the politicians who are ‘protesting’ the most. It’s always usually the innocent commoners who lay down their lives. The people who are responsible for maintaining law and order (the politicians themselves) fail to own up to their responsibilities (barring perhaps Lal Bahadur Shastri in case of a rail accident). They never seem to resign from their powerful positions for not having been able to provide their people any sense of security. On the contrary, while adamantly glued to their seats of power (or of opposition power in the parliaments), they keep blaming some or the other external factors, so that in times like this, they can scare enough people to get united for their own sake.

This time, it should be enough.
Well, this time….
No more reasons to call mayhem
Not one more life in your name
Not another death to uphold your religion
No more such violent catch 22 situation
Not to secure your mother’s dormant statues
Nor to pay back for your father’s power abuse
No more thought controls by government bureaucrats
Not once more will we believe in your tactics of attacks
No time to agitate, its time to step down from power
No press conferences, no indomitable statues or tower
In such times, politicians of the world must unite
You have everything to lose, including your might
For once, walk with the people, feel their agonies
Set examples of selves, write accords for peace
Stop the blame-games with Pakistan and Muslims
Or against one’s poor, the backward, and their miseries
Now is the time to act, to promise just one thing:
Stop playing communal, ‘tis just one life for rejoicing.

(Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2006)