Occupy Wall Street: Challenges, Privileges & Futures

“One who tells the people revolutionary legends, 
and who amuses them with sensational stories, 
is as criminal as the geographer 
who would draw up false charts for navigators.” 

– HPO Lissagaray, “History of the Paris Commune of 1871” (1877)

The challenges to Occupy Wall Street are many. Some even more critical than the very issues the protestors are fighting against. Whereas it claims to be the 99%, yet the movement practices the age-old privileges of class and race blindness. Similar to most white liberal movements, the OWS is hardly inclusive of the people of color. Although the spirit is radical and the intent is revolutionary, the movement itself suffers from a lack of critical understanding on how race and class intersect. In reality, 99% of people do not form a class in themselves. This is because the 99% of population comprise a significant amount of aspiring rich, a “middle class” category of people who have steadfastly refused to side with the poor working class whenever the latter has organized itself. In the US, this segment of opportunistic liberal citizens have always believed in the country’s racist foundations, its heritage of exclusionary democracy, and its segregated educational system, and amply benefited from patriotic allegiances. And as a result, they have lent unconditional supports to electoral reforms that sustain an individualistic social order, to corporate policies that help private business thrive, to political outfits such as the Democratic Party in recent times, which upholds the status quo in every level of governance defining American imperialism.

In the current romanticized version of revolutionary zeal at the Wall Street protests, there is a marked denial on part of the “General Assembly” of the movement that it could be perceived as supportive of the status quo. Proudly boasting of a movement without specific goals and leaders, the movement publishes formal newspapers and handouts clearly stating its disavowal of “Tea Party” right-wing movements. Not only is the OWS appearing left-wing and liberal – a political lineage that may not find endorsement among the 99% of people – it is also claiming to be without ideologies and specific goals. OWS is in a state of denial that anarchism of various forms are themselves ideologies, and the organizers of the movements are their leaders, the money which enables publications of the “Occupied Wall Street Journal” has sources to its sponsors. If rejection of current economic situation is the inspiration for the movement, the rejection of the current economic situation is the goal.

The biggest challenge for the OWS is to humbly acknowledge that it is a movement driven by a specific ideology which refuses the use of violence as a revolutionary tool, demands increased taxes for the rich, envisions student debt relief, opposes the Tea Party politicians, demands “direct democracy” as a political approach, and has raised over a half a million dollars within a couple of weeks to fund its campaign. And, it has allowed MoveOn, a multimillion dollar partisan initiative to speak on behalf of OWS to the media. The Occupy project has organizers who decide when the General Assembly will take place, which celebrity will address them, which entertainers will put up shows, which specific websites will be declared “official”, which post-box addresses the charity checks will be received at, and what heads will the money be spent on. Despite massive financial assets, when the OWS refuses to replace the drums of an activist which was destroyed at the protests, it is unilaterally decided by the specific organizers.

In their postmodernist hues, when political movements decry ideologies, refuse to take sides on political issues and pretend to distance themselves from power struggles, they smack of redundancy at best, and hypocrisy, at worst. When the educated youths refuse to acknowledge their race and class prerogatives, and claim that their movements let everyone have equal voice, it speaks of the gravely misplaced understanding of how freedom of speech is interlaced with entitlements. If the Occupy movement has not attracted majority of Black and Latino people into its fold, it is a sad reflection of how the movement has failed to address the needs of the most oppressed while boasting of representing them.

People of color are disproportionately incarcerated, disenfranchised, and unemployed in the United States. There is a rigid American class society in place ever since the country was founded. And yet, “class” as a realistically oppressive concept is seldom discussed in the country. Without any necessary critiques of the class society, majority of white liberals almost never understand their hidden privileges. They unequivocally endorse similar newspapers, television channels and textbooks that are inherently biased against class and race analysis. They invariably exalt founding fathers who owned slaves, presidents who denied racial disparities, and swear by the prison-military-industrial complex of the largest imperialistic society in history of humanity. OWS is based on the primary notion that the American society was absolutely democratic and fulfilling until Reagan spoilt the show. If they tried to include black people who suffered the brutality of every presidential regime in American history, the Occupy movement would not be wishing for the American democratic model to continue while singling out Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street has every possibility of becoming its own nemesis. A separation of economy from politics of the day is naive and reactionary. Merely opposing a bunch of corporate houses in the Wall Street without disrupting the political climate in Washington DC is a hopeless distraction. Calling for arms may or may not be a suitable alternative to political misrule, but to clearly disavow any use of violence while calling for “revolution” is a utopian approach. In fact, just around the time when majority of Americans were clearly fed up and were beginning to demonstrate repressed anger with the entire political establishment, when a Malcolm X demand for replacement of the existing political economy by “any means necessary” was going to be a possibility; a movement that preaches nonviolence and targets a few corporate houses as the only stumbling blocks in the path to progress while giving the Democratic Party and its fundraisers a space within its platform either defies progressive logic, or works towards crushing collective demands for concrete replacements at the corridors of power, in lieu of possible electoral gains in the coming year.

The problem with a movement such as OWS is that majority of white liberals who protest at Wall Street do not live in colored neighborhoods, nor do they acknowledge that they have any similarities with the poor working class of the country, the homeless and the destitute of America, the black families whose children are imprisoned without trials, the Latino construction workers whose health issues are not covered by any insurance corporations that the otherwise liberal Democratic Party leaders have been receiving donations from. Yet, year after year when neglected teenagers from minority communities are routinely murdered and assaulted and detained without justice, most white liberals refuse to show up at demonstrations led by minority leaders to challenge the police state. The OWS should be a venue for rendering apologies with an effort to seek supports of lesser privileged comrades, not as a self-proclaimed glorified uniqueness in the history of protest movements.

Serious issues have been affecting the majority of people in America; they are all for real. They have been well known crisis, nothing abstract to articulate for months on. The tall claims for forming “consensus” through direct democracy are also without merit considering that a huge majority of people that are apparently being represented by the OWS, are the very folks who are not privileged enough to join the “General Assembly”; and timely decisions must be taken on behalf of them without waiting for any consensus. This demands for organized leaderships charting out the most pressing – and therefore, known – issues affecting the most oppressed.

For instance, unemployment crisis is neither new nor shocking for the people of color in this country. Racism is alive and thriving at an institutional level. And demonstrations and marches have been carried out by black people in this country against unjustified administrative policies concerning wars, atrocities, discrimination, and immigration procedures. People of color vastly are drafted into the military facilitated by an economic system that has failed to work for them from the days of slavery. It is not a mere coincidence that Wall Street is not controlled by racial minorities. In fact, it is a common knowledge that capitalism was founded by plantation/slave economies.

That, the majority of working class folks of color who survive by dodging random bullets in their abjectly neglected neighborhoods shall suddenly identify with the rich spoilt educated group of youngsters that abruptly woke up to an accidental American nightmare while having always lived amidst downtown luxuries remaining predictably clueless on specific demands of a movement, is an insensitive expectation. That, the “illegal aliens” from the restaurant kitchens owned by overprivileged “citizens” who are upholding American flags at the Occupy Wall Street, will somehow join this movement to sing glories of “First Amendment” rights of the liberals selectively granted by a Constitution that refuses to recognize people in dire despair as full human beings, is utterly inconsiderate a demand.

A movement which fails to adequately address the needs of the most oppressed among the oppressed is a movement that somehow must end up diluting the most basic needs of the society with the peripherals. Such a movement can only enhance general cynicism, which is certainly a desirable wake-up call, but transformative revolutions that address the roots and not just symptoms call for agenda-driven optimism, armed organizations for self-defense, and principled leaderships with theorized visions that must replace political economies which have failed their subjects for hundreds of years.

Occupy Wall Street has the same potential of evolving into a revolution as countless other marches across the globe. The first American peoples’ revolution would have well begun, if occupations had inculcated limitless revolutionary imaginings, duly recognized the possible sparks, drew the most oppressed to clearly charted out radical visions in a timely manner, dissociated itself from the very political parties and electoral systems which have historically facilitated capitalism and phony democracies,

After all, there are no surprises in revolutions. They are historical necessities.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

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SlutWalk Must Evolve Into WomanWalk!

SlutWalk has turned out to be a phenomenal movement on a global scale, aimed at challenging rape culture, rampant sexual violence, victim-blaming and slut-shaming in our society.

Historically, in the garb of tradition, culture and mannerisms, men have conveniently imposed upon women certain moral standards that upholds patriarchy, reduces women into objects of either desire, lust, or procreation while at the same time stripping them off their intrinsic and equal human rights as individuals who can object to such strictures as and when necessary.

In so many ways, a movement such as SlutWalk is a vociferous expression of the radical notion that women are human beings at equal footing with men in our vastly sexist world. Women must be able to wear what they want to wear (or, not wear), they must be able to consent to sexual advances when they want to engage in a sexual activity, and similarly, their wishes must be respected whenever they refuse to be touched. No matter if a woman is being “slutty” or being “serious”, when she says maybe, it means maybe, when she says yes, it means yes, and when she says no, it means no. A woman – a girlfriend or a wife, a co-worker or a flight attendant, a model or an adult porn actress, a sex worker or a corporate bank employee – she must be allotted a lifetime of safe space, no matter what role she is expected to play in a society.

A movement such as SlutWalk probably acknowledges this. After all, it is quite liberating to witness women on the street wearing short skirts and bikinis and holding placards that say “my skirt is not worn for you”. As a form of new tactic against rape culture, which began in Toronto, Canada this March, when a police officer told a group of women that the best way to protect themselves would be to “stop dressing like sluts”, SlutWalk is at once emancipatory, and it creates a platform for the women to speak their selves in manners never experienced before in the world.

The Lessons from the Past

Except, that, SlutWalk might have overlooked the lessons from the First and Second Waves of feminist movements. This is clearly a movement which welcomes everyone, except that it has failed to recognize that not everyone might have felt welcomed. Reclaiming of the word “slut” or normalization of the word “rape” – especially as a metaphor – is often a privilege duly limited to the educated white liberals. Majority of women in the world – which obviously includes “Third World” women in Asia and Africa, and the African-American women right here in the United States – may find the word “Slut” not only unacceptable at every level, they also shiver at the thought of the word being reclaimed by their sisters.

There is a great necessity to reexamine not the spirit of the movement as such, but the framing of it. Slut as a word is much similar to the “Ho” word, which in turn is similar to the N-word. There is no telling how women should and must have every right to wear or not wear whatever they want to, irrespective of what their parents, teachers, preachers, or the so-called societal traditions demand of them to. But that is not an equivalent position with that of associating oneself with the very demeaning phrases the majority of women in the world are struggling to dissociate themselves from. In fact, quite the contrary.

Women of color have struggled to position themselves in the larger feminist struggle for several decades now, essentially because their unique/exclusive issues have not been taken up by the mainstream liberal feminists. The significant contributions of the early feminists notwithstanding, it is critical to note that the inherent biases of the theorists of the first and second wave were informed by the dominant consciousness of the respective times. The feminists of those periods (from 1930’s to 1970’s) had drastically failed to understand and apply lenses of social location intersections. Whereas the white women struggled for dignity of labor and hoped that their struggles would equate their worth with that of their husbands, the women of color struggled at a much more oppressed level, usually riled up within more than doubly oppressed states. Women of color not only had to raise their voice up against the racism perpetuated by white men and white women during those times, but they also had to contend with their own husbands and other male family members who, largely due to their own enslaved situations were more vulnerable in terms of displaying masculine tendencies mirrored after the masters.

Its fashionable today not only to forget the lessons of slavery as though it took place in another planet, but also to conveniently ignore the evolution and lessons from feministic growths, the complexities within the feminist movements when it comes to allowance for intersections of gender, race, class and nationalities to be addressed.

For the above reasons alone, the first SlutWalk in New York City was an uneasy experience for me. It had a conspicuous absence of women of color. Not because women of color do not agree with the vision that consent is more important than clothes, but because the existing tensions and appeals were being sidelined or ignored by the core organizers. When women of the world perceive themselves as the oppressed gender, they can merely look towards the most oppressed among them for the most essential issues that pose as the common denominator across classes, if not races. And this is where the SlutWalk failed to empathize with the very women they claimed to represent.

The Challenges Ahead

Relabeling is the foremost key. Slut as a word does not need to reclaimed, it needs to be denounced. Again, it need not be shamed, it needs to be eliminated. Much like the N-word. Especially when Slut or the N-word are used by the privileged class, they take a different dimension. Often people argue if it amounts to hypocrisy to suggest that Black people can utter N-word, whereas they do not approve of its usage by the people of other races. The reality is an objection to this demand for sensitivity is more often than not the case of historical misreading. Most pejorative or slang terms today owe their origins to the creators of the dominant narratives, who have over the time been privileged enough to move farther away from the underground they created; and with time the historically privileged have embraced certain modes of sophistication in an elitist manner.

However, the ones who were victimized by the nasty words have over the time “owned” those very words that were meant to demean them. Unable to gain entry into the elite clubs of mannerisms, for the oppressed, they have probably nothing left except what is their own, by default, for better or worse. There are scores of “Snaps” they repeat to each other in ways that can shock the uninitiated. For example, some snaps include creating jokes about the rival’s mother being blacker than one’s own! It would be ghastly racist if a person from another race creates such a joke for amusement. But this is part of the cultural heritage, howsoever unacceptable, for the oppressed. This duality that exists in terms of pejorative usages of adjectives is bound to disappear over time. Or it will disappear with conscious movement from within the Black people themselves. But any attempts to reclaim the racist and sexist terms on part of the privileged gender or race in order to universalize its usage in a trivial manner is bound to spark debates and consequently, condemnation.

Considering the technological possibilities, this is the most feasible time for greater unity among women all across the world. And while attempts are being made in this direction, it is crucial not to alienate those very women who are the most oppressed. In this sense, SlutWalk should probably have addressed to the emotional (and rational) appeal made by Black Womens Blueprint. Instead, like the flawed feminism of the past century, the issues have got all mixed up this time. In place of serious reflections on the most pressing issues of rape culture, there is sensational attempts for media space while relegating black women to the sidelines.

Without the working class women – and men – of color, no feminist movement will ever resemble more than a repackaged bourgeois coalition of neocolonial mindsets. Let the black women take the stage, propose the agendas and carry out the next WomenWalk. Inclusiveness should be the only priority now, if patriarchy has to be systematically addressed. And a movement that does not include its most oppressed, turns out as history suggests, most opportunistic.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

Further Reading:

“SlutWalk: A Stroll Through White Supremacy” by Aura Blogando

“Why I Don’t Care to SlutWalk” by Chai Shenoy

“Ladies, We Have a Problem” by Rebecca Traister

“AF3IRM Responds to SlutWalk: The Women’s Movement Is Not Monochromatic.”

“The Open Letter”

“SlutWalks v. Ho Strolls” by The Crunk Feminist Collective

“Woman is the N of the World…” placard held by Erin Clark and others –

http://on.fb.me/mR1uQ7

http://on.fb.me/p7FukO

“Mother Tongue Monologues”

Wall Street Spring :: Americans Demand Democracy

The homeless and the Hippies, the socialists and the students, the communists and the commoners – the Wall Street has been occupied for good by the countless human beings demanding dignity of life denied to them under American capitalism. Every disenfranchised minority is now decrying the citadel of private capital, greed and monstrosity. And contrary to White House assertions and corporate media verdicts, the defamed Wall Street has been denied a bail-out – by the people of the United States.

Braving the NYPD interventions and assaults, seeking solidarity with the otherwise indifferent bystanders, and hoping that the collective aspirations of the oppressed masses finally prevail, thousands of radicals are demanding the revolution – not in faraway Libya or Syria, but right here in the centerpiece of global imperialism, in the New York City. This is the Wall Street Spring – a significant demonstration of solidarity among anti-capitalists and class struggle prisoners!

Wall Street Spring is radical in manners that have shaken the foundation of mainstream media in this country. Both liberal and conservative media have cautiously covered this uprising, essentially because unlike in the past, this gathering is truly diverse, and phenomenally radical. The revolutionaries are not endorsing any simplistic political ploy by a liberal party to garner support through expressions of politically correct rhetoric. In fact, quite the contrary. A placard prominently reads – mocking the Democrats – “Job Creators, my ass”.

In many ways, “Occupy Wall Street” is reminiscent of the several marches across the country over the past decades. People from various sections of society have gathered to march against police brutality and societal inequality. And yet in significant ways, it is rather different. The goal today is not to reconcile following legislative changes, but to revolt to ensure a peoples’ democracy. The march is not silent. The march is not harmoniously conducted hand in hand with musical backgrounds. The march today is disparate, heterogeneous, expressive of collective anger and resentment against the status quo. More of an extension of the Black Panthers taking over college campuses with loudspeakers and radical agendas; than a pacified demonstration of hopeful placards. It is not a congregation to reconstruct the capitalistic society, it is one that speaks through the voice of the latest victim Troy Davis: “Dismantle this unjust system”.

“You Must be Asleep to Experience American Dream”

Long ago, Malcolm X announced how he was experiencing American Nightmare, not American Dream. For several decades his call for the people to literally “wake up” were ridiculed, suppressed and relegated to dustbins of history by the private media enterprises. From Hollywood flicks to CNN headlines, frivolous entertainments were repackaged as news for popular consumption. Big businesses through advertisements and various forms of sponsorships pushed their agendas for a ferociously vital American economy – an economy where capital would be privately held, with solitary aim for unlimited profits, and where the capital would invariably triumph over the labor.

For decades, the American Dream – a fictitious and opportunistic claim that anyone can selfishly prosper through individual efforts – has been demonstrated as the encompassing ideology of global capitalism. The phrase has gained approvals because it has gone unquestioned. Much like the accompanying rhetoric: Democracy.

The dream and the democracy – both are at stake this time. In the past, the masses demanded to restore them. This time, they are demanding to dismantle them. No wonder, the New York Times failed to deconstruct what is happening at the Wall Street. “Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim” read the headline on the Times. For decades the mainstream corporate media defined for the people what their aims should be in order that the status quo is duly maintained. And usually in the western world, the protests have invariably taken a reformist shape, because the goals are precisely laid out, the conversations are articulately arranged, and the legislative conclusions draw the final lines.

However, this time, it is different, to say the least. It is not just the Wall Street. It is Occupation United States. Similar “occupation” movements are taking over various cities in the country, almost in a way, that it is difficult to fathom the direction they shall take. Many critics of the Occupation are arguing that this movement shall fail because it does not have specific goals. For instance, the otherwise liberal Colbert Report ridiculed the occupation as a mindless gibberish because the humorist found the lack of an articulated goal to be quite unacceptable.

Unacceptable, it sure is. Protests, demonstrations, and marches have traditionally been easy to contain because they tend to address specific issues and have extremely limited sphere of influence. They usually do not address the system as such because strictly from a pragmatic standpoint, it delays the process of redressal. And from a political standpoint, an attack on the system is a call for dismantling and possibly, overthrowing of an existing political economy – something which is outrightly rejected by not just the ruling class members of politics and businesses, but also by a great number of citizens who live in class denial.

War Has Been Brought Home



Occupation movement this time around offers no immediate solution – nor does it harbor much hopes either. If the collective demand is to have Obama administration dissociate itself and the United States from Wall Street money, the collective intelligence says it is probably not possible. Demanding a solution from the very system that needs to be dismantled is a worthless endeavor. And no one knows this better than the radicals themselves. And yet, what is much more important is the historical knowledge that revolutions take place not through pessimistic withdrawals, but through constant engagement with all available avenues of protests until the status quo is reversed.

In our fast-paced, solution-oriented, just-do-it society, it is quite predictable that many intellectuals and journalists, politicians and diplomats shall continue to question the viability of movements that offer no concrete alternatives. But a reflective and critical study of revolutionary theories and unique histories of various progressive movements shall demonstrate that all that the masses need are a few sparks, and there is no telling what turns the events will take!

Capitalistic America today appears to be insurmountable. It appears so, because it is depicted as thus through textbooks and newspapers, amidst televised programs and blockbusters. The deep vulnerabilities and classic contradictions of capitalism are deliberately omitted in an effort to celebrate the manufactured notions of freedom and democracy in the western world. But as humanity continues to evolve, and as consciousness of the masses across various oppressed social locations continues to be raised, the protocols are bound to shatter. The people will emerge as the leaders themselves. And their collective aspirations – to inhale the air that celebrates human dignity, free from greed of private accumulations – are bound to prevail. Its just a matter of time. And, that clock is ticking today at the Wall Street.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

Arab World Witnessing Anarchy, Not Revolutions

Events in parts of North Africa and the Middle East have been heralded as ‘revolutions’. The levels of optimisms surrounding political restructuring apparently crafted by the ‘people’ themselves are defining. Some observers have even gone to the extent of declaring these mass movements as byproducts of Facebook and Twitter activists.

In a world craving sensationalistic news, these demonstrations have more than provided for the fodder. In times of large-scale global political corruptions, these protests are being characterized as new hopes. In our continued saga of drab and visionless compromises with oppressive status quo, these uprisings are revolutions, romanticized.

However, if peoples’ history is any teacher, not everything might be as rosy or revolutionary in the recent events. Of course, two out of 17 countries where people took to the streets, witnessed regime changes within just a couple of months; and there might be even more such upheavals, no doubt. But clubbing all these countries together into one imaginary crisis block whose people are purportedly revolting to break free and that, they are desiring to adopt values of ballot boxes and freedom of speech models, is actually a convenient method of analysis that at its best, culturally stereotypes and homogenizes an otherwise radically different groups of people, and at its worst, endorses the infamous “Eisenhower Doctrine” calling for American interventions at any cost in an effort to redefine human freedom.

Beyond Oriental Fixations:

We are constantly informed that the series of demonstrations in few countries now being more closely observed constitute some sort of Arab World Revolution. This “Arab World” imagination goes back to the days of Eisenhower Doctrine (on 9 March, 1957) which laid out that “the United States regards as vital to the national interest and world peace the preservation of the independence and integrity of the nations of the Middle East”.

Under the guise to protect the sovereignty of the Arab World, CIA in fact prepared grounds for overthrowing the government of Syria, which had, according to American National Security Council (NSC), “increased Communist penetration of government and army”. CIA intended to install Adib Shishakly, former right-wing dictator of Syria after a “revolution” was to be orchestrated to eliminate leftist forces there. Colonel Sarraj, the Syrian head of intelligence exposed CIA’s officers who had bribed his office and in Washington, the State Department bitterly embarrassed expelled Syrian ambassador – the first time since 1915 that the US had ousted a chief of mission of a foreign country.

In blatant disregard to Euro-American interests in the region, Syria and Egypt announced their plans to unite and came to be known as the United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958. In response, America brought its allies Iraq and Jordan to form Arab Union. However, this coalition collapsed when the 14 July Revolution in Iraq overthrew the Hashemite monarchy which was being supported by Britain and America. It was a major blow to Western sphere of influence in the Arab World. Pan-Arabism which had manifested itself as a massively anti-colonial force of resistance under Egypt’s Colonel Nasser had inspired another group of “Free Officers” who took over Iraq, and the nationalists who united to quash the neocolonial expansionistic motives, only continued to grow in presence and influence.

Egypt and Syria were instances of what neutralism/”leftism” that was to bother American administrations for a long time. John F Kennedy and British Prime Minister Macmillan also pursued their interventionist tactics when they agreed on official declarations of “Penetration and cultivation of disruptive elements in the Syrian armed forces, particularly in the Syrian army, so that Syria can be guided by the West”.

Revolutions and Counter-revolutions:

History is replete with uninspiring coups and fundamentally radical revolutions. It is crucial to distinguish both categories. What Nasser exemplified was a revolution. It led not only to an end to British colonial imaginings; it gave birth to a series of fundamental changes in the Middle East and elsewhere. Iraqi liberation from the British was inspired by “Free Officers”, and so was Libyan liberation from King Idris, led by Colonel Gaddafi. More importantly, Gaddafi and Nasser – along with Tito and Nehru – were architects of the Non-Aligned Movement – the most vocally responsible union of the free countries in the world history. Likewise, the 14 July Revolution in Iraq gave birth to the most progressive government coalition in the land headed by Abdul Karim Kassem (who pioneered OPEC as a powerful association to oppose Western oil monopolies).

Not surprisingly, all these important landmarks in world history have been relegated to the dustbin of ruling class history texts as “coups”. The greatest of revolutions that took shape right inside North Africa and Middle East throughout the last century unfailingly denounced apartheid, crushed the colonial empires of the West under the mighty will of socialistic solidarities, and generated unprecedented pride among people who newly acquired freedom from hundreds of years of oppressive regimes.

And yet, in the West, these revolutionaries needed to be battled so that the favored dictators and the loyal monarchs be reallocated powers. With the masses in the Middle East actively united in taking over and nationalizing imperialistic corporate interests in their countries, it was crucial to rebuild capitalism under different names. One of the ways, as official documents have vastly suggested, had to take help of cultural cues.

Since gains of socialistic revolutions prominently included an end to religiously fundamentalist forces, America and its allies extended supports to any militant groups which could spread anti-communist sentiments throughout the Secular Arab world by means of religious instructions. Not only were communist parties systematically abolished in several countries in Africa and Middle-East, massive amount of American aid were fueled into these countries with the sole purpose of eradicating progressive forces. Although Taliban became the most influential of such forces created to singlehandedly destroy secular movements in Afghanistan, it was not the first one. Christian leader Camille Chamoun had been assisted with huge American aid to suppress socialist/secular movements in Lebanon almost five decades ago.

Western aids have funded religious counter revolutionaries in nearly every country in the world, more so, in the regions of Africa and the Middle East, for obvious reasons. Rich in natural resources and oil, these countries have inadvertently been constant victims of neocolonial expansionist projects. After the passage, ouster, or demise of early revolutionaries, these countries have been ruthlessly exploited via interventionist policies of NATO forces. Throughout years of civil wars, Gulf wars and plain colonization and plunders, these nations have faced irreplaceable damages.

Ongoing Eisenhower Doctrine:

In the early years of Nasser’s Egypt, nationalist sentiments had united the people and empowered them with Arab consciousness. This was duly supported by progressive forces all around, just as Pan-Africanism had found immense support from Latin-American revolutionaries. But over the time, via active propaganda and intense funding processes, NATO forces have either installed vicious dictators or religious forces in these lands as their puppet representatives.

As a result, Arab leaders, once the stalwarts in furthering world socialist progresses and social justice movements against evils of imperialism, have now been replaced by a bunch of sycophants reporting to American diplomats to gain financial favors, Hosni Mubarak among them. With corruptions rife, unemployment high and national priorities low, today’s Arab lands have been converted exactly into the kinds that Eisenhower had once desired.

Most countries in North Africa and the Middle East are at brinks of despair, and without any progressive leaderships and socialistic visions, most imaginations have been surrendered to the commands of religious preachers and Islamist forces. Evangelists such as Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi are at the helm of mass movements of frustrations and anger, otherwise being depicted as revolutions. Organizations such as “Muslim Brotherhood” which are communal in nature, inciting illogical religious solutions to human problems are now leading the so-called revolution in Egypt.

An uncritical acceptance of street tactics in Egypt will be a historical fallacy. The romantic notions of revolutionaries as hopeful future is one thing; a false ascription to a group of religious mischiefs as social justice fighters is yet another. The most recent instances of popular uprisings may well have been a continuation of protests on part of the people to end brutal regimes world over. But it would be akin to adopting truly convoluted manners if we defy geopolitical logic (although it strengthens diplomatic doublespeak intended to bolster American hegemony in the Middle East) to suggest, as the mainstream international media are doing, that the random protests in Iran are also part of the same “revolutionary” activities that are being witnessed in Egypt.

In Iran, the Islamists are already ruling the country. In Egypt, they are just about to rule. It is rather strange in a macabre fashion that the world rejects the former, while eagerly anticipates the latter. Muslim Brotherhood is suddenly being projected as some kind of nonviolent movement and its spiritual leader al-Qaradawi is being portrayed as a wise and scholarly man. The political strategist Mohamed ElBaradei who is endorsed by Muslim Brotherhood, and quite naturally, also by the American administration, to lead Egypt following this “revolution” has predictably enough, won Nobel Peace Prize, and more importantly, is in the privileged company of Carnegie, Bill Gates and George Soros. And as the Director General of IAEA, he is a crucial person for the West, as far as the “unruly” Iran is concerned. If history is any teacher, Muslim Brotherhood, which had conspired to assassinate Nasser with its so-called nonviolent principles, and its wealthy friends from America are going to take over Egypt, finally, away from all legacies of anti-colonial struggles, and to preserve Eisenhower’s dream of establishing freedom in the Arab World.

The countries modeled after the “Free Officers” shall now emerge as the official Islamist police states. All thanks to the ongoing Chevrolet Revolution, via Facebook and Twitter, the American Way…

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

Lucy Parsons :: Revolutionary Feminist

By Saswat Pattanayak

No legal case in American history has been more cited than The Scottsboro Trial. Nine young African American men, aged 13 and up, were jailed in Scottsboro, Alabama to await trial over an accusation that they had raped two white women on a train in the Spring of 1931.

The nature of racism in this instance was not the novelty – indeed, American society was witness to countless false charges brought against the black people. However, The Scottsboro Trial became a landmark via the manner in which racism for the first time was fiercely and openly challenged in the United States.

When the entire country was refusing to take side of Scottsboro Nine, it was the Communist Party which came to aid the young men. International Labor Defense – a coalition formed by the communists to defend Scottsboro Nine benefitted from the active involvement of a black woman on their national board – a pioneering champion of labor classes in America – Lucy Parsons (1853-1942).

Class, Race and Gender
Parsons’ commitments towards freedom of the young Black Communist Angelo Herndon in Georgia, Tom Mooney in California, and for the Scottsoboro Nine in Alabama were unflinching. Parsons recognized the class system in America as the prime factor in perpetuating racism. She was the foremost American feminist to declare that race, gender and sexuality are not oppressed identities by themselves. It is the economic class that determines the level of oppression people of minorities have to confront. Notwithstanding her social location of being a black and a woman, Parsons declared that a black person in America is exploited not because she/he is black. “It is because he is poor. It is because he is dependent. Because he is poorer as a class than his white wage-slave brother of the North.”

Lucy Parsons was a relentless defender of working class rights. To contain her popularity, the media portrayed her more as the wife of Albert Parsons – a Haymarket martyr, who was murdered by the state of Illinois, while demanding for eight-hour working day on November 11, 1887. While identifying her with Albert’s causes, history textbooks – both liberal and conservative – seldom mention Parsons as the radical torchbearer of American communist movement.

Communistic Commitments
Parsons’ commitment to the cause of international communism often embarrassed the United States administration. FBI confiscated her library comprising over 1,500 books and progressive works soon after her accidental death – thus preventing the country of having access to her radicalism. But those that witnessed Parsons‘ oratory and benefitted from her skills of organizing labor knew of Parsons‘ disdain towards anarchism which she felt was not capable of leading the masses onto revolutions.

Following Bolshevik Revolution in Soviet Union, IWW would witness several of its main organizers joining the Communist Party. Parsons, along with Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Flynn were among the pioneering American communists. Parsons not only had officially joined the Communist Party of the United States, she was also vocally opposed to distractions within revolutionary movements.

Parsons condemned celebrated anarchist Emma Goldman for “addressing large middle-class audiences”. Whereas Lucy Parsons‘ feminism considered women’s oppression as a function of capitalism, Emma Goldman was clearly not in favor of a vanguard party taking up feminist causes. Parsons in her dedication towards working class liberation movements never lost sight of her goal, never compromised on her principled stands on the side of the working poor, and never aspired for mere social acceptance or glory.

Voice of Dissent
Parsons was among the first women to join the founding convention of IWW. She thundered: “We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use it. But we have our labor. Wherever wages are to be reduced, the capitalist class uses women to reduce them.”

In The Agitator, dated November 1, 1912 she referred to Haymarket martyrs thus: “Our comrades were not murdered by the state because they had any connection with the bombthrowing, but because they were active in organizing the wage-slaves. The capitalist class didn’t want to find the bombthrower; this class foolishly believed that by putting to death the active spirits of the labor movement of the time, it could frighten the working class back to slavery.”

She had no illusions about capitalistic world order. Parsons called for armed overthrow of the American ruling class. She refused to buy into an argument that the origin of racist violence was in racism. Instead, Parsons viewed racism as a necessary byproduct of capitalism. In 1886, she called for armed resistance to the working class: “You are not absolutely defenseless. For the torch of the incendiary, which has been known with impunity, cannot be wrested from you!”

For Parsons, her personal losses meant nothing; her oppression as a woman meant less. She was dedicated to usher in changes for the entire humanity – changes that would alter the world order in favor of the working poor class.

Even as a founding member of IWW, she was not willing to let the world’s largest labor union function in a romanticized manner. She radicalized the IWW by demanding that women, Mexican migrant workers and even the unemployed become full and equal members.

With her clarity of vision, lifelong devotion towards communist causes, her strict adherence to radical demands for a societal replacement of class structure, Lucy Parsons remains the most shining example of an American woman who turned her disadvantaged social locations of race and gender, to one of formidable strength – raising herself to bring about emancipated working class consciousness.