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…

Orissa Killer Cyclone 1999: Recollections & Some Lessons for Phailin

 

Cyclone Phailin is not over yet, and Orissa is not all about Bhubaneswar. If lessons be learnt from 1999, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, beginning with the administration ending its premature jubilation. Even as this cyclone did not prove to be as catastrophic as the ’99 one, we must not undermine the challenges that are ahead of us. Evacuation is not enough, rehabilitation is the key. Farmers, fishers and the poor in the vulnerable coastal belts devoid of ecological balances, wrought upon them through corporate greed – are the sections of population that will be the worst sufferers. 500,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and the already impoverished state of Orissa has been relegated further down. 

I am sharing with you all my journey as a reporter during the 1999 “super cyclone” when the team of Asian Age covered it extensively. Some of it are pure nostalgia, but many are pointers to what may lie ahead.

Sleeping Child

How do I tell her who is a terrorist… Don’t the terrorists profit from those Gap Kids clothes she is wearing today? When the buildings collapsed And terrorized eight hundred Underpaid workers in that sweatshop Didn’t the terrorists make merry Looking the other way – The way of uninterrupted greed, As the Walton families scoop Another couple of billion dollars Didn’t I buy her cereal off their shelves? The comic characters she watches Spun by the deceit of the hate funders From the Nazi Germany days till today; Or isn’t the terrorizing force the books She reads which make no…

Reflections for 15th August…

We started off with an exalted note, a thundering applause, and an optimistic tryst with destiny. Despite obnoxious Churchill laughing away sardonically. We installed the most erudite of scholars at the highest echelons of power. Even as that could not deprive us of our web of superstitious ignorance. We strived to help Indira’s India turn duplicitously socialist carving out a veritably stimulating mixed economy. That did not prevent us from cementing the biggest feudal setup in modern times. Now a full circle; we are a capitalistic mega success, a military super power in the making, an economic giant, and foremost…

To the One

To the One – full of life – then now and forever To the One – ever forgiving – and always the giver To the One – spring of love – source of boundless joys  To the One – guiding torch – in my meaningful voyage   To the One – keeper of truth – unflinching dedication To the One – selfless seeker – humbly serving nation To the One – the conscience – exemplifying values To the One – guardian angel – your blessing accrues   To the One – beloved Father – in you my life resides Wishing…

For you, My love

Some say my love, there’s a time for love  An occasion to assert, and to proclaim For me, my love, there’s none to resolve Nothing to validate, or rename   Friendship distinct, values progressive Your trust not for selfish pursuits World I question, in you I believe Absorbed in you, my life renews   Opposed you are to unjust strictures Unyielding your principled stands Averse to imperialism, oppressions You endorse free people and lands        My friend forever, my teacher you are You inspire me in times good and rough Lending me strength, whether near or far Unflinching…

Freedom Tree!

Tireless in pursuit of democratic rights  Relentlessly challenging plutocratic might Braving atrocities, police state’s plights Awaiting the passage of this barbaric night   Freedom Tree! Free Press shall set us Free!   In actions and spirits, journalists united Radical is our zeal, refusing to be placated No longer shall we let scribes be oppressed Duties shall manifest, and our rights protected   Freedom Tree! Free Press shall set us Free!   Unjust regimes can imprison us; not our thoughts They can chain us down, charge us with treasons Truths we shall expose, fearless in our purpose With conscience intact, misdeeds…

Revolutionary May Day Greetings!

By Saswat Pattanayak (Written for publication in Radical Notes) Relevance of this day never was greater than it is today – as a celebration of collective human progress, as a reminder of historic labour struggles, as an occasion to reaffirm class allegiance with the working poor, and the majority strugglers. Not an allegiance to exploitative ruling class demarcations of geographical boundaries drawn and redrawn through manipulative gestures of status-quo diplomacy. Not an allegiance to standards of academic, material, knowledge society thus distinguished and rewarded by the handful corporate czars to effectively facilitate their spheres of influence. Not an allegiance to…

Raindrops

Are these the April raindrops, Or my lingering heartbeats?   My naked windows glasses- Alive with transpirations Mired with perspirations Reflecting back, almost in derision Calling back, in much anticipation Halting path, amidst many a assumption   These sounds of cascading water On my swarded Astorian apartment Catch me off guard-this very moment   Immerse in me, in life– Even as I dwell in apprehension Succumb to intoxication Of increasing aspiration Drain in imagination Of the ongoing revolution   Will the rain just vanish all too soon Lambent lightning will too swoon   Life is measured in moments — not…