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)


Obama is winning his War on Women Candidates

Democrats are desperately seeking more women to come out and vote today, preposition being Obama is the natural choice for women in this country and with more women voting, more is the likelihood of him getting reelected. To draw home that point further, the Democrats under Obama have devised a phrase “War on Women” to discredit their assumed rivals. And liberal women are all lining up to vote their Messiah who has emerged as the White Knight, rescuing distressed damsels of Sandra Fluke variety who subsumed under propaganda of the liberals are uncritically and unconditionally making uninformed choices while reelecting their male boss from the White House.

“War on Women” is a phrase only the Democrats could have come up with, considering they have been waging wars against women for decades. And in recent times, they have been battling women at the electoral polls. And yet a sizable section of liberal feminists continues to identify with their oppressors rather than with their comrades.

Obama/Romney vs Lindsay/Stein:
Comrade Peta Lindsay is the latest victim of Obama Patriarchy. Ms Lindsay, a Marxist-Leninist is challenging the President on the Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket. She being not only a committed communist, but also a progressive black feminist, is posing a genuine threat to Obama and his Fluke brands of activisms. Her party indeed provides absolute alternatives to the electoral monopolists today chaired by President Obama and his Democrat/Republican colleagues, especially outlining progressive visions for working women and men of this country that destroys the make-believe world of Obama/Romney camp that is presented to the American public.

Comrade Lindsay has a ten-point program that are as follows – 1) Make job a Constitutional right, 2) Make free health care, free education and affordable housing Constitutional rights, 3) Shut down all U.S. military bases around the world—bring all the troops, planes & ships home, 4) Stop racist police brutality and mass incarceration, 5) Defend our unions, 6) Equality for women and free, safe, legal abortion on demand, 7) Full rights for all immigrants, 8) Full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, 9) Save the planet—End capitalism, 10) Seize the banks—Jail Wall Street criminals.

Unlike Obama and his gang of hypocrites, Ms Lindsay actually demands free healthcare and demands employment as a constitutional right. Exposing the hypocrisy of the Romney/Obama group voicing their concerns for working women, Ms Lindsay says, “The two (dominant) candidates will present their wives to speak to for a ‘women’s perspective,’ but their presentation will be based largely on a bourgeois perspective. Ann Romney, who is the daughter of a factory owner and has hundreds of millions of dollars. She recently made the point that she ‘made the choice’ to be a stay-at-home mom, but for most Black women, no such choices are available. Michelle Obama may come from the working class, but the Obamas are millionaires and have been solidly in the upper class for decades. I want to speak to the experiences of poor and working-class Black women.”

Precisely because she wanted to address the poor and working class Black women – just like Cynthia McKinney wanted to do last election before Barack Obama gathered supports from Goldman Sachs and his friends at the Wall Street to shatter Ms McKinney’s political career as a Presidential aspirant – Ms Lindsay has this time faced stark opposition from President Obama to the extent that the Democrats worked with the Republicans to make sure that the rules concerning the much-publicized Presidential Debates that shape and inform the opinions of voters in the United States are manipulated to the extent of censoring and forbidding candidates like Ms Lindsay from addressing the working class of this country.

Who owns the Presidential Debates?
Amy Goodman interview with George Farah reveals how the Obama regime secretly negotiated contracts with Candy Crowley of CNN to specifically omit any question that mentions alternatives to him and Romney. Although the Committee on Presidential Debates is constituted to entertain divergent visions and to present to people the presidential candidates with alternative views, during Obama’s tenure, it was decided to censor the two radical alternatives to Obama/Romney aspirations – both challengers happened be two women Presidential candidates – Peta Lindsay and Jill Stein.

Of course the only people dangerous to patriarchy, and in effect to capitalism, are radical women. Last election, it was a black woman of tremendous strength and courage who was victimized by racist attacks in the Congress – Cynthia McKinney – who decided to quit the Democrats and contested on the Green Party ticket to pose a serious threat to Barack Obama. And this election, it is Peta Lindsay who has been so censored by liberal media that she remains virtually unknown to huge majority of voters in the country. Not a moment goes by without liberal media touting their love for women, and yet soaked in unfathomable hypocrisy, they vociferously silence the alternative voices aired by progressive women candidates.

Instead, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney – all three women whose political worth are measured by their undying love for their erring husbands are today symbolizing feminism for most educated women across the country, thanks to the manner in which Obama/Romney president ticket has manipulated media, through outright lies, enormous capital and direct control of the processes of debates and dissent.

Anti-Feminism: How Democrats Killed Equal Rights Amendment
Democrats with help of their dominant media forums comprising such corporate bigwigs as CNN, New York Times and Washington Post, have been miseducating young women voters of this country with atrocious lies about their past involvements with women’s rights movements. The truth is Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which was introduced in the Congress back in 1923 and comprised sections that would have outlawed any unequal treatment of women on account of sex, constantly faced challenges along the path to its realization by the Democrats alone.

ERA, drafted by feminist and suffragist leader Alice Paul, had recognized that right to vote for women meant little if women continued to be discriminated against through other social means. Paul’s National Woman’s Party advocated for ERA to be introduced in the Congress, which materialized with the help of radical feminist Susan B Anthony’s nephew Daniel R Anthony, a republican member. It would take three more decades before President Eisenhower – another Republican – would ask a joint session of Congress in 1958 to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. He would become the first president to openly express support for a law that was to ensure that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Democrats specifically refused to support ERA during Eisenhower’s time. Noticing the growing discontent among progressive feminists, John F Kennedy saw it as opportunity to cash in on women as a vote bank and promised them that he would support ERA and ensure its passage. But soon after gaining power, Kennedy played hide and seek with ERA demands and his core officials started opposing Equal Rights Amendment in public. Embarrassed by the fallouts, Kennedy offered a compromise – a “President’s Commission on the Status of Women”. This was nothing but a mockery of women’s rights movement for it tried to investigate whether or not there actually was any trend of discrimination against women, conveniently ignoring the positions forwarded by feminists that indicated discriminations indeed were the order of the day. PCSW of course was nothing but an organized committee to merely enlist women against communism in Kennedy’s favorite pastime called the Cold War. Like his predecessor Democrat President Truman who allowed McCarthy to list the men who the government wanted to target (a scoundrel who was silenced only by Eisenhower through his executive privileges), Kennedy created a committee to recruit women to do what McCarthy had left midway.

The only saving grace in PCSW was Eleanor Roosevelt, who had earlier opposed ERA under heavy pressure from the Democrats, but later on regretted her mistakes and finally lent support to ERA. But even her support to ERA did not convince Kennedy to work towards passing ERA into law. Instead he initiated another compromise by the name of Equal Pay Act of 1963 which remains to this date immensely lacking, and wage gap between men and women continue to be sustained. When President Obama was asked a question regarding the wage gap during the 2012 presidential debate, he refused to answer it, continuing the regressive tradition of Democrats initiated by Kennedy.

Kennedy’s compromises naturally reveled in their contradictions, leading to angry feminists forming National Organization for Women (NOW) to continue demands for Equal Rights Amendment which the Democrats had been refusing to recognize. Shirley Chisholm, the black woman representative was the only exception who exposed the hypocrisies of fellow Democrats on the floor of the congress. In her famous “Equal Rights for Women” speech Ms Chisholm attacked the Democrats for refusing to allow ERA from becoming a reality since four decades –

“I wish to introduce today a proposal that has been before every Congress for the last 40 years and that sooner or later must become part of the basic law of the land — the Equal Rights Amendment.
Let me note and try to refute two of the commonest arguments that are offered against this amendment. One is that women are already protected under the law and do not need legislation. Existing laws are not adequate to secure equal rights for women. Sufficient proof of this is the concentration of women in lower paying, menial, unrewarding jobs and their incredible scarcity in the upper level jobs. If women are already equal, why is it such an event whenever one happens to be elected to Congress?….
A second argument often heard against the Equal Rights Amendment is that it would eliminate legislation that many States and the Federal Government have enacted giving special protection to women and that it would throw the marriage and divorce laws into chaos. As for the marriage laws, they are due for a sweeping reform, and an excellent beginning would be to wipe the existing ones off the books. Regarding special protection for working women, I cannot understand why it should be needed. Women need no protection that men do not need. What we need are laws to protect working people, to guarantee them fair pay, safe working conditions, protection against sickness and layoffs, and provision for dignified, comfortable retirement. Men and women need these things equally.”

Despite Chisholm’s leadership and staunch feminism, the Democrats refused to still pay heed. Ironically, once again, it was a Republican President Richard Nixon who did what Kennedy was slyly refusing to – he became the first American President to endorse ERA’s approval. ERA – constantly opposed by the Democrats each and every Congress finally died following a deadline set for it to be ratified in 1980.

Not only that, but even Chisholm’s demand for the marriage laws to be reformed in a sweeping manner was met with Bill Clinton’s infamous Defense of Marriage Act. Once again, the Democrats were at the forefront of annihilating feminist progresses and movements by passing a law that defined marriage as a legal union between only a man and a woman. Clinton, the visionary leader of the Democrats today, swiftly declared that under the law, no US state is required to recognize same-sex marriage. This was in the classic tradition of the Democratic Party’s long lasting attack on feminist movements in this country.

Democrats as Dangerous Compromises:
Destroying ERA and introducing DOMA are not the only contributions of the Democrats. The more damaging are their “compromise” laws which they sign from time to time in order to distract the feminists from core issues and to treat women as vote banks for their power plays. Under Obama’s regime, the PCSW equivalent was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is a pure hogwash, to begin with. Although Obama team have been highlighting how women-friendly this Act is, the reality is it does not even address discrimination, let alone provide for a fraction of what ERA stood for in terms of women’s rights progresses.

What the Democrats are not saying the women is that Ledbetter Act does not enforce companies from disclosing the amount of pay they are offering to men and women at workplaces. Without this a reality, it is absurd to even claim that women will receive “fair” pay when they are not even supposed to know what a “fair” pay amount is. Similarly, using LGBTQ as a vote bank, Obama has signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010”. Far from being a civil rights victory for the oppressed minorities, this is indeed akin to legalizing entry of black people into the armed forces of America to fight against oppressed minorities worldwide on behalf of militarist rogue regimes of the United States. Another Democrat and anticommunist Harry Truman in 1948, had ensured that black people – while they were still being treated as slaves in their home country – were going to be fighting on behalf of their masters to kill innocent people – specifically Communists – abroad. Paul Robeson, the great black revolutionary famously opposed such absurd proposition which suggested that black people should fight in Korean War. Its about time, progressive LGBTQ leaders move away from fundraising for Democrats for letting them die in unjust wars abroad while White House politicians continue to fool around with their human rights issues as electoral agendas.

If invoking executive privileges to force black people and sexual minorities into military is not a big deal for Democratic presidents, then legalizing same-sex marriage should not be a hindrance either. Indeed, ending racist police brutality would not be so difficult after years of movements demanding the end to the pig culture. Or shutting down military bases, including Guantanamo Bay would not have been so difficult either. Or providing full rights to all immigrants. Or, to ensure free healthcare. Or, to end capitalism by seizing the banks.

But, then, that would actually be progressive, radical, feminist a vision. A vision that Comrade Peta Lindsay has. And in this election, Barack Obama and his buddy Mitt Romney are out to destroy precisely that – with active collaboration of their quintessentially uncritical voters.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2012)

Why is Hurricane Sandy a Political Issue?

President Obama and his administration have been exchanging high-fives and posing for stock images to bring home the point that Sandy’s aftermath is being dealt with successfully. Reassuring this to the rest of the world, the president then visits his campaign rallies. And after his inspiring speeches are registered the liberal media spins portray how neighbors should be helping each other, how communities should come together and how individual charities make all the difference in resolving natural disaster crisis. They paint the aftermath a victory for a president who hugs the visibly grateful citizens with a confident smile facing the camera. We are Americans, and we are always victorious, no matter what challenges we face, the stenographers parrot the administration lines in corporate newsrooms day after day while raking in advertisement money for their journalistic services. Things are under control and even the New York Marathon preparations are. And if the Marathon race doesn’t start from Staten Island, no sweating required. The next fanfare championship is getting held nationwide, come Tuesday. Don’t forget to join the celebrations. Don’t forget to vote the millionaire orators back to power.

Except that, there is a problem here. Maybe too many of them to find a place in this essay. Partly because most tragedies related to Sandy are not being covered by the media whose major source of revenue is from electoral campaign teams at this point and they cannot afford to upset their bosses. And the executive branch, let alone conveying to us effectively the tragedies is choosing to depict it as an electoral victory of showmanship for a clueless leader.

As a bystander to this ongoing crisis, waiting for the food and the milk to be stocked back in the local grocery stores here in Queens, as a jeopardized New Yorker waiting for the public transportation system to resume full service, let me attempt at painting just a slightly different picture.

The truth is there has been no aftermath to Hurricane Sandy. The storm is still very much alive and kicking the livelihoods of millions of people in this country. Being a survivor and chronicler of the killer cyclone in coastal belts of Orissa (India) exactly 13 years ago, I am acutely aware of two simple premises: devastations of a storm are not felt when its at the peak, and that the natural disasters that hit the headlines are invariably human-made trail of tragedies. They do not bring along surprise elements with them. Precisely because of such predictability of natural disasters, there are functional Met offices and salaried task force professionals who are required to address the inevitabilities all year round.

Hurricane Sandy therefore was not supposed to be a fluke nor was it supposed to render millions of people homeless and hundreds dead. Weeks of predictions and media engagements with weather maps and NASA images and boasting of American priorities were the signs of how devastating the approaching times were going to be. But what they also were indicative of was that the governmental administration and the respective agencies directly responsible for addressing the consequences were going to be better prepared, considering Sandy had claimed 61 lives in Haiti on its course. What it meant was that the United States government which is duly elected to hold offices of power to administer on behalf of its citizens was meant to be constantly prepared to face and address challenges. What it meant was that the government had access and willingness to access, all the areas affected by a natural disaster of such enormous potential. What it meant was that the politicians and those that they appoint as bureaucrats were supposed to be sensitive to the needs of the people who were going to be impacted by the storm. That, the required assistance was not just going to be promised via press meets and television channels that made no sense to the affected masses rendered hapless without electricity, but that the access to basic needs of the affected were made available to the people as they were required.

What the Obama administration has failed to act upon is everything that was desirable and possible. Five days after Sandy hit the coast, if the administration had no visual footage of how an entire borough of New York City looked like, let alone displaying a willingness to access the territory, that is a failure of the political will of an administration which has been mandated by the people to practice good, ethical and humane governance. When the media channels finally made their way to interview helpless citizens in Staten Island several days after Sandy and they found the women saying they are literally dying out of access to food and basic utilities and the President of the country is cheerfully applauding the works of his campaign team in far away political trails, that is a failure on part of the political will of an administration that was put to place to prioritize agendas based on needs of people, not greeds for reelections.

If several townships and villages still are submerged in sewage water in New Jersey, stinking to the point of turning off the anchors inside newsrooms in Atlanta, and yet the President and the governors pat each others’ backs on accomplishments and pose with wider grins to declare Obama’s bipartisanship abilities as an incumbent, it is a political tragedy of massive proportions that shamelessly cashes on distressed emotions for gleeful votes.

If the federal government can send drones to monitor Pakistani air space and fails to send helicopters to Staten Island to carry food, medicines and drinking water, and if the commercial airlines at JFK and LaGuardia are able to fly across the border while the administration cannot send essential relief items to its own citizens stuck in darkness in Rockaway, Queens, then it is crude reflection of a failed politics at Washington DC and it is time for the president to stop patting backs of his officials.

Even as the FEMA continues to be showered with praises by the president and the liberal media there are millions of people without essential amenities, access and hopes. There is no telling when the electricity will be restored, when the roads will be cleared, when the sewage water will be pumped out, when the proliferating infections will be addressed, when drinking water will be made available to millions of Americans, if at all the insurance companies will be kept aside and the government will offer assistance to people to rebuild their homes and businesses, there is no telling when medicines will reach the needy, when the toddlers will have access to milk, when the people can get food at local stores or gas at the local pumps. When long queues of vehicles parade New York City streets to wait for hours until they get access to a rare petrol pump, there is no telling when the rest of the country devastated by Sandy will be on the roads to recovery once again. When new-born infants are hand-pumped by luxury hospitals of Manhattan on their ways to evacuation, there is no telling when rest of the healthcare units will attend to the suffering patients existing in abysmal darkness in the cold winter nights.

Even a country languishing in the Third World offers its needy people with minimum compensations from the government to address emergency situations, but in the United States, the epicenter of inhuman capitalism, there is no telling when if at all, the sufferers will find any funding that are not bound by loan shark terms, just to re-envision their lives after this unfortunate and entirely mismanaged tragedy of highest proportion. There is no telling when the government if at all, will take any steps towards distributing blankets at the very least, so the millions of people shivering in devastated regions can cover themselves up and be able to at least sleep during lingering dark nights.

Hurricane Sandy is all about politics. It is more about politics than Hurricane Katrina was. This is the week of reelection for the Democratic Czar and his liberal cronies who have constantly manipulated the media headlines to suppress the truths about their wrongdoings, be it their offerings of tax breaks to the rich and the corporate bailouts for the very financial institutions that crumbled the economy, or their warmongering foreign policies that have taken thousands of innocent lives worldwide, or their incompetent domestic policies that perpetuate the jobless scene for the twenty-three million Americans in home, their refusal to admit absolute inefficiency in passing favorable laws during the first two years when they were in majority while waiting for the second half of the term to blame oppositional politics for their own failures, or their suppressing the truths about gun-control and their aiding of drug mafia in the “Fast and Furious” investigations whose truths were so dangerous for the regime that the Nobel laureate Obama had to invoke executive privilege to justify suppression of facts, not to mention their continuous torturing of the truth seekers such as Bradley Manning and those that support transparency. The Democrat Czars outrightly lied about Libya and the killing of the diplomat by citing a Youtube video as the cause behind the violence without admitting that the real causes of the massively orchestrated 9-11 protests worldwide were a result of Obama regime’s failed foreign policies of aggression that have perpetuated warfare abroad with hatred and terror funding. The American government has lied to its people about Muhammad Gaddafi and conveniently depicted him as an Islamic terrorist to gain a manufactured consent for his atrocious murder while the Obama regime was constantly funding the reactionary fanatic groups in Libya to oust the secular regime with an aim to create geopolitical imbalance in the region that would proliferate the needs for continued wars. Guantanamo Bay is still wide open and Iran is the next battleground for this regime that must win this electoral bidding once again to continue its onslaughts world over. The US administrations have historically thrived with lies and deception, most of which targeted towards their own citizens. Be it the legacies of anti-Soviet hysteria which a war hawk Kennedy made money and power off, or the epochs of Korean and Vietnam War, the US presidents have constantly lied to the American people with help from their media establishments. But what has remained a constant are the popular oppositions to the White House be it in forms of antiwar movements or anticapitalism demonstrations on the streets. What sets Barack Obama aside is the brilliant manner in which he has continued the legacies of suppressions with an ease of a successful liberal. He has perfected the skill of sabotaging peoples’ organized efforts against systemic failures and furthered it to the point where the people are silenced – with their own will. And as a result the very antiwar movements that brought Obama to power today languish in anonymity while the war-president proudly adds names to the unprecedented kill-lists and indefinite detention rolls that would make even the infamous “Patriot Act” (timely upgraded each year by Democrats) look like a highschool skit.

Occupy Wall Street movement could have perhaps sustained and even gained grounds under another administration, but the Democrats quickly seized the moment to hijack most of the dissent by depicting the White House power itself as the victim of American capitalism. The word hypocrisy lost its original meaning under Obama administration as the biggest bailouts and governmental supports to the greedy corporates of the world were successfully projected as the most desirable necessities. Deliberately manipulative statements of Hillary Clinton regarding Libyan crisis was brushed aside as the result of uninformed intelligence officers and when the emails surfaced to the contrary, both the Vice President and the President lied to the American public with such enormity that the citizens have now started dismissing Libya as “just a four deaths” casualty.

And with Sandy appearing like “just a few hundreds mess” despite devastating millions, the administration has started suppressing facts related to misgovernance and bureaucratic red-tapism. When five nursing homes in Rockway beach were directed by government officials to not evacuate even as they clearly fell within the Zone A, no one is mentioning about lack of governance. When two siblings, aged two and four, died in the storm, reporters questioned why their neighbor did not open the doors, but there is no question asked as to why the entire region was so inaccessible for officials and relief workers all these days. If media can reach nook and corners of flood affected areas to declare “breaking stories” every now and then, what possibly has been preventing the government officials from reaching out to the affected people with basic food, clothing and shelters? How long are the victims of American capitalism supposed to remain grateful towards their perpetrators for the false reassurance that they are being taken care of?

Hundreds of patients silently suffered the storm because they believed in the government for weeks that everything was being taken care of. Even after days have passed since the storm worst-hit the areas, people are still silently believing the government when the President says that everything was being taken care of. Tens of thousands of “public housing” residents were forcefully evacuated because power needed to be disconnected in lower Manhattan and yet within two days the rich started functioning again amidst cheers and whistles at the Stock Exchange right in the middle of the Sandy’s eye. And the people following their dreamy pied piper are believing the President when he implies that in taking care of the Stock Exchange, the dead will find justice. The lying President and his unprepared team suddenly turn teary-eyed and appeal to the neighbors to help each other in times of crisis while they merrily resume the services of Wall Street capitalism with generators and drinking water and food supplies without a blink. When millions of people continue to brave the winter nights without heat and fill plastic bottles with water from fire hydrants, the Obama administration loses no moment in providing electricity to the “Freedom Tower” right in Lower Manhattan catering to the wealthiest of the lot in this country.

Contrary to how the Obama regime paints the picture, the hurricane Sandy was not an unfortunate event. It was an inevitable one. What is unfortunate is the embarrassing administration in Washington DC today and the capitalistic economic system that it supports and furthers, the farcical elections that it holds by spending $6 billion of taxpayer money towards an extravaganza at a time when hundreds of men, women and children are found dead and thousands missing owing to governmental apathy and administrative inactions.

If the corporate honchos at Wall Street can get power back and running in two days, there is no telling why grieving mothers and dying toddlers must remain without power and suffer without food; communities devastated and neighbors estranged; while the government turns its focus towards “swing states” to plead for votes while condemning the victims of its administrative disaster to the whims of charity.

But then, in this strange world of Obama and his liberal cronies, the Stock Exchange has more “power” than its “natural” victims.

Saswat Pattanayak, 2012

Tales from Cola Land

Democracy is a system of oppression run by popular consent; its enabler, the electoral politics, is a spectator sport; the select audience for the rituals is retained through appeals, and the voting is an exercise of Hobson’s Choice.

And yet such a system has unprecedented approval ratings, because in the Gramscian sense, democracy has become “the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural and inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class.”

Even when Abraham Lincoln extolled its virtues, democracy was merely serving the ruling class. A government then was certainly of the people, by the people, for the people, but what Lincoln failed to address at Gettysburg was that the democracy carried out in the name of people did not include women or slaves. And today, 150 years later, the most extravagant democracy in the world being heralded in the name of people continues to exclude millions of working class members and invisibly incarcerated citizens. In fact, the hypocrisy of American democracy is more apparent today than ever before, for in a country territorially marked by immigrants and an economy founded upon slave labor, millions of new immigrants are being declared aliens and more native workers find themselves homeless.

And yet, democracy as a system of oppression needs to run exactly this course to validate its status quo. More people need to be kept disempowered, if not disenfranchised. Even as popular participation in voting ceremonies have increased in numbers, they must continue to dwindle in their intrinsic values. Even as multiple political parties are encouraged in western democracies, the reliance upon a couple of major monopolistic units must remain pervasive. In the United States therefore, more voters are being wooed poll after poll, but their imaginations are bound by two-party systemic limits. In the cloak of free speech, self-censorship is joyously observed by corporate media that cover only the national conventions of the Democrats and Republicans. Just as in Britain the tournament is run between the Labor and the Tories. History can repeat itself as a farce the second time itself, but independent of its lessons, democracy thrives on farcical representations of hope and change innumerably.

When rest of the world is gearing up – voluntarily and forcibly – to adopt American democratic norms, American democracy is itself in peril. The popular consent for the system is manufactured and imposed by the ruling class monopolists who must either be the phony liberal-Democrats or the fanatic conservative-Republicans. The Green Party must be ignored, the Communists criminalized and the independent ones ridiculed. Consequently, none but the top honchos of electoral arena get publicized by the media, and the political battlefield remains the sole proprietorship of the networked old boys since the inception of democracy itself.

But the old boys are ideologically opposed and hence, there is a clear choice, the honchos assure. They even succeed, to the extent that American citizens enroll themselves as organically Democrats or Republicans losing no moment to declare how consistently contrasted are their respective ideologies and how bitterly opposed are they to each other. After all, what good is a spectator sport without proclamations of cut-throat rivalries! In the current season of such dramatic rerun, Obama and Romney “camps” field each other as their respective nemesis, they project their political positions as such diametrically opposite and their mutually shared scopes such unmistakably exhaustive that there is no space for a third force to legitimately claim an alternative to such legendary contraries.

Legendary they must be, because only legends and myths foster the merits of electoral democracies. A critical assessment of their actual positions usually demystifies the reality show. Back in 1956, when W. E. B. Du Bois refused to register as a voter, he laid bare the truth about the American fixation with this illusive democracy based on make-believe contrasts: “Democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no ‘two evils’ exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say…If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he/she may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by ‘force and violence’. Anything advocated by way of significant reform will be called ‘Communist’ and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing job, surrendering social status and perhaps landing in jail.”

With both Republicans and Democrats enthusiastically distancing themselves from any communistic ideals, and understandably so, American democracy continues to remain the domain of one evil party with two names. Every election season is an attempt to lull people into one or another version of American Dream – quintessentially a feel-good packaging of gratuitous freedom. A sense of freedom that is premised upon the capitalistic ingenuity that education is best attained with student loans, healthcare is best provided by feeding the insurance giants, that submitting to private banks for entitlement to housing is a desirable privilege, that token race representations imply societal equality, among various other anomalies.

Voting as a farcical exercise of popular mandate ensures that the crisis engulfing so-called civilized societies remain just the same. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans agree that it is the role of the government to ensure free healthcare, free education, free housing and guaranteed jobs. After all, a society becomes prosperous when its members are healthy, educated, sheltered and employed. If the goal is for societal progress, such aims are basic starters. And yet rarely are such thoughts entertained within the public or the profit sphere, never are these debated issues during the elections. The only oppositional voices that are entertained within modern democracies are those that engage in partisan debates, not progressive movements, and the only challenges that are allowed to exist appear in the form of disorganized, unorganized and anarchic permits for concessional freedom.

Electoral exhibitionism is a direct consequence of big business that pumps billions of dollars into this sector and the public interests are secured through gullible donations, malicious advertisements and pretentious accusations. Allegiances are reiterated towards state, religion, and an addictive mix of the two. FDR, Lincoln and Kennedy are bounced back and forth; founding fathers are recalled with awe. Positive vibes are weaved through slogans for justice, liberty and war, and with specific omissions of peace, land and bread. Militarism is eulogized and global peace doesn’t feature even in rhetorics. Colacracy continues amidst healthy rivalries between blue and the red sugar syrups. Also constant is this euphoria that lasts for a year almost equivalent to the excitement around a new blockbuster, a getting thinner formula, and the latest iPhone. What follows are next two years of depression, and a final year of anticipation until the next knockout round.

Such observations would be comic and trivial, if they were not tragically curtailing one more imagination that marks the social justice landscape. Voting is prescribed across board as the only means to bring about changes. Citizens are made convinced that if the world is an unjust place, if the socioeconomic welfare is in danger, then the only way to bring about change is through casting one’s vote. People are reminded of the great sacrifices our ancestors have made just to make universal suffrage system a reality.

Well, the truth, as disconcerting as ever, is quite the contrary. Progressive changes in society have not been made through voting and cooperation with the systemic processes; rather through studied and organized – nonviolent and violent – protests against the very fabric of an unjust world order sustained through voting mechanisms. As a result, social justice movements worldwide, including in America, have not looked at electoral politics as a weapon. They have revolted against the fanciful journeys to a sacrosanct White House, for they primarily oppose the very contest that is won through big money, false promises and by fooling most of the people, all of the time.

This year as the elections unfold, majority of Americans will continue to be fooled by the democratic virtues once again. And Malcolm X will brim with relevance with his words warning the democratically bemused: “Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government and that party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identifying yourself with that party…aw, I say, you been misled. You been had. You been took.”

This year, majority of Americans will once again be taken. Voting will once again prevail over the voters.

Saswat Pattanayak, 2012
(Written for Kindle Magazine).

Michelle Obama and American Status Quo Action Plan

Michelle Obama’s convention speech has been both applauded and criticized for being too emotional. Those amazed at her love towards her husband have shed a tear or two, while the detractors are disappointed at her personal narrative lacking statistical substance.

A critical inquiry would reveal that her speech was anything but emotive. It was a carefully orchestrated rehash of an old American fixation with individual merits, family values and competitive prosperity. Her speech was a blueprint for humanizing capitalism. It was a justification for the status quo politics that has uniformly strengthened a populist cry for American hegemony; decade after decade, regime after regime. Michelle Obama’s speech has merely colored the template acceptable.

Michelle Obama’s Reaganesque slant has been systematically downplayed precisely because Democrats are still hanging on to the portraits of FDR as their last success story, while Republicans do not wish for their anticommunist legend to be confused with the so-called socialist rival they are pitted against.

Michelle Obama’s narration of her (and the president’s) upbringing was not a condemnation of a racist society during the time freedom fighters in America were being officially brutalized. It was a eulogization of a “good old days” era that only could make the most conservative lots get remorseful with nostalgia. Her autobiographical sketch of getting educated through student loans was not an outright rejection of an economic model that inherently weakens the youth. It was rather a vociferous defense of the authorized loan sharks who prevail upon a commercialized school system heralded by the Republicans and Democrats alike.

Michelle Obama’s reference to her dad not missing a day’s work despite Multiple Sclerosis was not an indictment of a merciless society where people with disabilities continue to fend for themselves. It was an attestation that her dad was a hero, not a victim, the kinds of which she feels elated to greet across the nation, sadly even to this day. Her refusal to believe that indeed nothing has improved systematically – be it last four or forty years – is a privileged faith. Her conclusion that a few handfuls of poor rising to the top in the competitive ladders of American capitalism as a mark of an ideal society, is an individualist myopia she shares with fellow Republicans, Ayn Rand or not.

Michelle Obama’s romanticized portrayal of her parents as the brave Americans who were determined to give their children the kind of education they could only dream of was sadly a result of an elitist education she and the President himself acquired – an education deeply and meticulously devoid of preparing students to analyze the conditions that nurture fissures in a class society. Michelle Obama’s glorious depiction of the education system was precisely the anathema to what the Black Panthers decades ago outlined for the oppressed people of America: “We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.”

Sure, the First Lady sympathized with the “middle-class” and she recalled the poverty afflicting millions in America, and she identified with the people without basic healthcare and secure jobs. But she deliberately refused to expose the true nature of the capitalistic society she and her husband today boss over – a society that must leisurely thrive at the expense of toiling masses, a society that must look upon higher education at Ivy League schools as the solution while regretting over the working class uneducated poor as the problems, while mysteriously solving the factoring gap as one of intent and hard-work. A society that prides itself for designer clothing Michelle Obama endorses, the stay-fit-eat-healthy campaign she feels compelled to launch in a country where most public school students tragically skip mid-day meals, a society that exuberantly spends on conventions the very week that witnesses people being rendered homeless through mismanaged natural calamities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

To be charitable and sympathetic and remorseful are not just about emotions. They are individual approvals for systemic overtures. Gratitude and humility are among other traits Michelle Obama instructed American people to imbibe in her speech. Not because the oppressed Americans are unfamiliar with such virtues. But because as demonstrated by organized nationwide protests year after year, majority of Americans have thoroughly gotten tired of soaking in gratitude and humility. They have been getting increasingly sick of remaining enslaved and grateful at the same time. They have been waiting for grassroots organizers to lead them in a revolution that would radically restructure the status quo. Michelle Obama’s speech sanitizing an extravagantly mainstream political party which has gained immensely from misusing peoples’ trusts over decades, was only geared towards pacifying and disempowering the very spirit of collective agitation through advocating the merits of individual selfishness.

The reality is that gratitude and humility work together with selfishness. What Barack and Michelle Obama’s families did for them were what parents do for their children, what families do for their members. The First Family’s stress on family values has absolutely nothing to do with development of society. Love towards family remains intact whether the members are rich or poor because family is the most self-centric unit human beings have ever devised. Too often, our family values – of the rich and those who aspire to be rich (the so-called middle class) – educate us to remain grateful and humble towards an otherwise exploitative society, lest any rebelliousness disturbs the imagined peace and comforting harmony. In case of Michelle Obama, it unfortunately translated into presiding over an exploitative society while “feeling” for those who are beneath the First Family. She and her husband feel, she declared, for those who are left behind. Heck, she expressed a little more love for her husband precisely because he felt also for those who leave others behind: “I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above…he knows that we all love our country.”

Loving thy enemies is not an emotional appeal; it is a rigorously tested political move to attract the undecided voters. Boasting of “helping women get equal pay” is not an attack on a sexist system, it is a smart ploy to get women voters by the side of those who pass bills, no matter how ineffective. Increasing student aid for higher education is not amounting to make education possible for all, it is a legitimate way to keep a citizenry effectively indebted. Michelle Obama was not about emotions that night. She was about perpetuation of an action plan that is synonymous with capitalism at its most acceptable helm.

Four years ago, she had confessed “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country”. When that sparked controversy, she clarified, “not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

She was right about that one. People were indeed hungry for change. But like all politicians obsessed with their own success stories, Michelle and Barack Obama continue to believe that people just want a change in the most powerful household. That is because, the ruling class too often sees the world from its power lenses and it narrates the world history through its own acquisitions/achievements.

The overlooked reality has always been different. People are hungry for changes, but not in farcical facelifts every four years masquerading as progresses: they are hungry for changes in the inherently biased societal structures of the world, in the poverty-sustaining capitalistic economics, and in the cultural purities of society that need drastic challenges. As a result, no matter which family hosts the dinners at the White House, those elite entities are certainly not going to be agents of the change the working class people deserve.

Majority of the masses therefore continue to remain hungry for change; and it has nothing to do with the White House.

And, intoxicated with power politics, unable to comprehend the world through the prism of the peoples, Michelle Obama – four years later – doesn’t want anymore to change a thing.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2012)