A Closer Look At “The Enemy of the People”

“With so much recent mainstream press evocation of Joseph Stalin and claims of “enemy of the people” comparisons to Donald Trump we thought it timely to share some recent thoughts on the subject from journalist, professor and writer Saswat Pattanayak. As an additional side note, and given what Pattanayak exposes about the nature and history of the association of a phrase, rather than with Stalin some of us would be more familiar with the play by Henrik Ibsen and further note that this is also where the late Dr. John Henrik Clarke got the inspiration for the spelling of his own middle name.” (Dr. Jared Ball, iMixWhatILike)

Sahir Ludhianvi – Communist and a Poet

By Saswat Pattanayak It was more than a coincidence that Sahir Ludhianvi was born on an International Women’s Day. His concern and respect for women was as much personal as it was political. For him, no one – and nothing – was more important than his mother Sardar Begum. Resenting her husband’s feudal properties, his mother had left that household and raised Sahir on her own. And Sahir grew up as an organic revolutionary against landlords and burgeoning capitalism of that era. And more importantly, as a progressive poet deeply aware of the capitalistic exploitations of women and the working…

Kanhaiya Kumar and Betrayal of Freedom Struggles

By Saswat Pattanayak Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest was unfortunate and so his release on bail is a great relief. But beyond that, to seek revolutionary potential in the hoopla surrounding it, is to miss the point entirely. Competing for authentic nationalism to legitimize an oppressive power structure is not what the Communists do. Quite the opposite. Sudden excitement and pronouncement of “victory” at the news of a judge granting Kumar’s bail is a betrayal of Kashmiri peoples’ struggles, given the specific contexts of denial of antinationalism on part of these students. It is as if the left-liberals of India were hoping…

Rohith Vemula: Indian Left and the Dalit Student Suicides

By Saswat Pattanayak (Written for CounterCurrents) Rohith Vemula did not just commit suicide – he was murdered. And this murder was not committed by the right-wing ABVP – it was conducted by the left-liberals. The “Dalit problem” citing which Rohith gave up his life, is not the creation of any fringe elements among communal Hindus – it is sustained by the liberal Hindus who tremendously profit from the status quo it provides. None of this is an exaggeration – these comprise a reality that must be confronted. The entire Hindu society, the Savarnas, are the perpetrators – no one among…

Comrade A B Bardhan, Lal Salam!

By Saswat Pattanayak Comrade A B Bardhan (1924-2016) was not just the foremost communist mass leader of India who raised working class consciousness among millions through his oratory and organizational persistence, he was also the Marxist historian who accounted peoples’ struggles like no one else had quite done. Well before publishing “People’s History” had become a worldwide trend, Comrade Bardhan had reflected upon the critical role of working class in India’s freedom struggle with these words – “Official histories are apt to pass over in silence the role of the working class in India’s freedom struggle. They depict the freedom…

Eurocentrism as Terrorism

Contrary to what Žižek claims, egalitarianism and personal freedoms do not comprise Western legacy—their suppression in the name of colonialism does. One cannot rule over and plunder another country for decades, if not centuries, and then blame the “backwardness” on the ruled subjects.

Roots (and prospects) of Justice

Maulana Mohani was concerned that in our anticommunist quest, we were ignoring an emancipatory USSR Constitution, while heavily borrowing from colonial legacies of oppressive Constitutions of the imperialist world, and that, by doing so, we were facilitating prospects for dangerous communal violence in the coming years

International Women’s Day: Anti-War, Anti-Capitalist Movement to Emancipate All Workers!

By Saswat Pattanayak   “Down with the world of property and the power of capital! Away with inequality, lack of rights and the oppression of women – the legacy of the bourgeois world! Forward to the international unity of working women and male workers.” (Alexandra Kollontai) The radical roots of International Women’s Day are being systematically suppressed via liberal appeals for male virtues to prevail upon a patriarchy. Revolutionary struggles waged by the women and men to challenge feudal and capitalistic orders are being overshadowed by reformist emotions dramatized in commercials targeting women as a burgeoning consumer class. Incessant demands…

Matter & Consciousness: Revisiting Lokayata

Lokayata did not deny the consciousness so much as it complicated it. Instead of acceding to an assumption that consciousness could be a peculiarity of the spirit, it depicted consciousness as an attribute of the body. This occurred, according to them, because whereas the material elements comprise the living body, consciousness is produced in it.

Pete Seeger: UnAmerican Communist and a People’s Songster

By Saswat Pattanayak Pete Seeger was not the “American conscience”, as he is being now crowned by the corporate media after his demise. In reality, he was the UnAmerican conscience. And to understand this, it is important to underscore the extent of his internationalism, his commitment towards humanity, his selfless unpatriotic journey as a fervent communist, his lifelong quest against American militarism, adventurism and exceptionalism. Most importantly, to use history as a weapon in the class struggle, as Pete used music as his tool, it is pivotal to not let go of the “unAmerican” label that was imposed upon him…