Padmavati, Karni Sena and the crisis of Hinduism

By Saswat Pattanayak The outrage against Karni Sena is entirely misplaced. These hooligans will eventually be forgiven by their gods because they know not what they do. The real dangerous elements however are those who claim to know better, and yet fervently endorse Padmavati – whether as a fictional character, a historical figure, or as a movie script awaiting screening. In all shape, way, and form, Rani Padmini legacy is a textbook instance of Islamophobia. If the practice of Sati was/is justified by the Hindus as the chaste wife syndrome, the practice of Jauhar which Padmini was said to have…

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…

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.

The need for Political Correctness

The censorship argument just as the artistic expressions themselves needs to be politically correct – the position must spring from the point of raised consciousness where the needs of the times – taking into consideration various locations of exploitations and associated struggles for social justice – are well understood and articulated.

No Thanks(giving)

Murder the Indigenous Slaughter those turkeys Thank the Indigenous Pardon that turkey No thanks Kill the dissenters Land of freedoms Celebrate survivors Build more prisons No thanks Demand gratitudes Columbus to Obama In lieu of guns, drones Such Thanksgiving drama. No thanks – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2014 (Published in Gossamer)

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…

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…