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)

Advertisements

Vaclav Havel :: Freedom Fighter or Militarist Capitalist?

The biggest myths perpetuated in the history of political economic analysis are the established contradistinctions between ‘democracy’ and ‘dictatorship’. Based on outlined differences, democracy is canonized as the opposite model of political governance to what is disgraced as dictatorship. And with this logic in place, Vaclav Havel is glorified to be a “freedom fighter” of his land, and Kim Jong-il is denounced as a dictator who throttled freedom in his country. It may be an irony that both these leaders died around the same time, but what is way bigger a concern is the manner in which they are being judged as historical subjects.

In a corporate media culture that actively moulds our everyday thought processes through news contents, it is necessary to pause awhile, and dissect such enormous conclusions and examine if the impositions of such documented views are merely hasty, or purely methodical. For history is not just a body of collective knowledge compiled for posterity, but more importantly, critical investigations into historical scholarships instill the more necessary weapons in the minds of the future generations to improvise upon this much maligned world.

Invariably every media house in the West has recently depicted Havel as a freedom fighter while Kim Jong-il is announced as an evil dictator. What then were their legacies, and what value systems did they further? Let us investigate into the unique histories they individually were influenced by, and gave further shapes to.

Contrary to mainstream media depictions, Havel was not the romanticized non-violent leader of a bloodless Velvet Revolution. Such an assertion is grossly inadequate to explain the peoples’ history of the Eastern Europe. Czechoslovakia’s political transitions throughout last century were tumultuous at various junctures, to say the least, and Havel’s roles were equally dubious.

Before awarding the nonviolence sainthood upon a person like Havel, it is important to recollect that Havel was the first leader of Czechoslovakia to support the biggest militarist force on the earth, NATO. His ambition to drive Czechoslovakia to join NATO was one of premeditated stance that had surfaced for all three decades following the so-called Prague Spring. Not only was NATO alliance close to his heart, Havel was a ruthless proponent of capitalism all along. Resultantly, he drove Czech Republic to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as soon as he was handed over power. OECD, in turn is a creation of the Marshall Plan, a militarist and economic system that fostered American hegemony during the Cold War and its aftermath. In simpler terms, Marshall Plan (and OECD) were funded by the successive US governments with a single aim to destabilize communist countries in Eastern Europe, using financial aids and grants. Marshall Plan also fostered western European colonialism (such as Netherlands’ colonial aggressions in Indonesia and subsequent annihilations of millions of communists).

If anything, Havel’s legacies are that of a violent and ruthless anti-communist leader who aspired to divide Czechoslovakia, rule over the land (for over a decade) with an intent to end communism and make the country an active recipient of military contracts from the US, and a militarist leader who formally inducted Czech Republic into International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat operations in the War on Afghanistan (where Czech Republic is one of the major players).

As a member of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Havel has led Czech Republic into legitimizing the various ribbon-based demonstrations that were instrumental in disrupting former CIS republics. Be it the so-called “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine or the electoral judgments in Belarus, OSCE has been at the most, a biased organization with agenda suitable to further western models of democracies, while selectively refraining from judging electoral frauds in United States, for example. “Orange Revolution” has been already admitted to be the handiwork of western bullies. Funders include both Republican Party and the Democratic Party. If the former party was represented by International Republican Institute (IRI- funded by the US Govt and headed by none other than Senator John McCain to “democratize” nations around the world), the Democratic Party made its presence felt in the so-called “revolutions” in Europe through its National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) headed by Madeleine Albright (whose hawkish crusade – along with Bill Clinton’s – against Iraq’s illusive WMD programs led to the tragic war on millions of innocent people). NGOs such as Freedom House which are endorsed by Bill Clinton and his likes have the dubious distinction of creating the freedom scales whereby they have ranked North Korea to be the lowest in their appraisals. Irony is that the Freedom House had declared a racist system of Rhodesian election of Ian Smith to be “fair” while legitimate election of Mugabe in Zimbabwe to be “dubious” (Chomsky/Hermann, Manufacturing Consent). Freedom House has consistently sought its information from anti-communist organizations as its sources based upon which, it ranks the freedom levels of countries. Freedom House, Chomsky writes, is “interlocked with AIM, the World Anticommunist League, Resistance International, and U.S. government bodies such as Radio Free Europe and the CIA, and has long served as a virtual propaganda arm of the (U.S) government and international right wing”.

The widely disgraced Radio Free Europe (RFE) was used as a successful tool in instigating the so-called Hungarian Revolution. Similar to Havel were the likes of Lech Walesa who would learn anti-communist tactics from RFE and go on to win Nobel Peace Prize (naturally) following deliberate collapse of communism in Hungary. Such ribbon based “Springs” and “Revolutions” are also monetarily aided by the likes of George Soros, the virulently anti-communist. His Open Society Institute openly funded the creation of the so-called “Rose Revolution” to oust the last communist leaders out of power in Georgia. And more importantly, the multi-billionaire Soros who is among the top ten richest Americans in the world financially aided the likes of Havel in furthering the so-called Charter 77, aimed at dismantling communism in Czechoslovakia. The Charter 77 naturally went on to instigate the so-called “Velvet Revolution” for which Havel is today being heroized.

What then is the origin of Velvet Revolution? Was it a spontaneous student movement against so-called communistic atrocities that merely coincided with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc? This is how the corporate media presents the revolution to be. In reality, it was a reactionary movement funded by venture capitalists of the western world that were since decades channeling money and propaganda into the regions to destabilize communism. Charter 77 group continued to create anticommunist sentiments in Czechoslovakia from 1976 to 1992, manipulatively fostering market capitalism in the region in lieu of power sharing. Václav Havel, Jan Patočka, Zdeněk Mlynář, Jiří Hájek, and Pavel Kohout – each of these Charter 77 members who formed the coalition and received funding from George Soros and assistance from CIA, RFE, IRI, NDI, Freedom House etc, were the mastermind conspirators from the very start. They worked with CIA spies and drafted propaganda materials to overthrow communism. They published their views on New York Times and Voice of America and directly aided the American interventionist agendas – both militarily and economically. They endorsed the likes of Józef “Butcher” Światło who was planted by the CIA to execute communists in Poland. Światło after his much dramatized “defection” in turn worked for the CIA and Radio Free Europe with an intent to end communism in Poland. Światło was heading the “Operation Splinter Factor”, initiated by CIA director Allen Dulles, in order to finish millions of communist activists in Eastern Europe. According to historian William Blum, the counterpart of Światło was installed in Czechoslovakia by none other than General Reinhard Gehlen, the former Nazi intelligence chief who later on worked for CIA. Gehlan was instrumental in carrying out arrests of hundreds of thousands of communists. Although World War II was decisively won by the Soviet Union, the “spheres of influences” were created to check the growth of communism. And as a result, scores of civil wars were funded by the western capitalistic world inside the “Eastern Bloc”, and CIA documents of the Cold War era reveal spy networks and “show trials” orchestrated by men and women funded by the American intelligence agency.

It was only after Światło was exposed to have been working for the CIA all along that the Polish and Hungarian governments realized how they had been duped by this man. They immediately released all their prisoners and compensated them. An American fellow-traveler Noel Field who was used by Światło, as the central figure of contact to trace all his comrades, was also released and he chose to remain in Hungary for the rest of his life. Like Światło, the person responsible for naming “Velvet Revolution”, Rita Klímová was consistently taking up the task to leak information about the party activists to the western press and intelligence agencies, while actively maintaining her communist party membership. Along with the much disgraced Światło, she was also fired from the party after she was exposed to be conducting the “Stalinist purges” while working for the western interests. She was such an anticommunist that she wrote samizdat articles under the pen name “Adam Kovárc” (Czech for Adam Smith). It was no simple coincidence that after imprisoning thousands of communists in the guise of being a Stalinist, she was chosen to translate Vaclav Havel’s works and subsequently helped facilitating his seizing of power.

The so-called “Prague Spring” was an outcome of such a period of Czech history which was dictated by former Nazi officers, American spies and RFE propaganda led by Światło. The Charter 77 furthering the anticommunist efforts was a mere continuation of such counter-revolutionary legacies.

It is important to remember that Communism never collapsed in the world. Only a few communist regimes were ended in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union following enormous anticommunist propaganda, military interventions and vulgar infiltration of western capital. Havel and the likes only represented that section of people who immensely benefitted from introduction of market capitalism in their respective countries. They were intrinsically reactionaries, anticommunists and pro-market enthusiasts. And they were ably funded by Wall Street business magnets to further the goals of corporate greed. To pay tribute to Havel who throughout his life led the life of a militarist NATO-enabling, power hungry capitalist as a “nonviolent revolutionary” is to inflict great insults to both Gandhi and Lenin at the same time.

If Alexander Dubček had his way, the “Velvet Revolution” that apparently ended communism in Czechoslovakia would not have taken over three decades to materialize. Overthrowing of Antonín Novotný was not the issue at hand. Not accommodating Vasil Biľak was not either. The reality is no one else emulated American electoral system like Havel did. He not only successfully divided up the country by racially disintegrating the Slovakians (almost 90% of whom were ethnically Slovak), Havel adopted a political system modeled on the U.S. Senate. And no surprising is the fact that the Czech Senate is vastly unpopular among the public. The elections in that post-communist land has had some of the lowest turnouts in democratic histories of the world. Records indicate that the turnouts in Czech elections are usually 30% in the first round and 20% in the second.

So much for the Freedom House rankings! And the declaration that Václav Havel was a Freedom Fighter!

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

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)

Communists Must Win, Now That the Election is Lost

By Saswat Pattanayak

Elections are social, not political events. Whereas social functions entail an understanding of, and adherence to established norms, effective political actions require empowered state of conscientious being. Democratic elections – from ancient noble Greece to enslaved corporate America – take place independent of mass empowerment, most often, by keeping the participants oblivious.

People are kept sufficiently ignorant about the repercussions of their actions by not only the political parties, but by their media cohorts in general. What is instead propagated at an almost constant level comprises pure trivia: the equations of wins and defeats, the seats and the states, and the number games to legitimize a victor.

What results is a triumph of the end-product of elections, than an exposition of process complexities so as to challenge existing structures of power. Every mass-based hierarchical election that claims to have democratic character in turn produces a winner which revels in celebration of conquest as a finality of purpose, not identification of its purpose as worthy of celebration.

After all, identification of purpose in political sphere takes shape through solidification of an ideology. Since every ideology is backed by distinct political-economic theory, it inherently distances a section of people from embracing it. To evade this dialectic nature of political action, the so-called democratic election of the day, in its systematic pursuit of sustenance, necessarily has to shed the elements of ideology. At a social level, since the masses are kept ignorant of the systematic nature of the process that legitimizes one party or the other, the ideological components are dissolved in favor of encouraging consensus and its accommodating functions. The natural conflict that must ensue between an ideology that supports bourgeois electoral system and one that rejects it, is crushed down in favor of projecting the multiplicity of politics through democratic election that pits one comfortable party against another one.

Thus, political action plans for the people are orchestrated by the very entities that stand to benefit from them. Instead of letting people decide the system which can produce ground for equitable redistribution of worldly accesses, several political parties, often floated by a handful of seasoned ruling class elements carve out a system that produces visions for society as shaped by one winning party of a given time in an electoral drama that is designed to produce another victor the next time. In this game of changing hands between various rulers, the parties must blame each other once the they fall off the mark. The constant blame-game between the parties continue within the framework of existing political system which rely on an assumption of hailing the public decisions as the absolute one.

After keeping the masses ignorant in spheres of political education, the parties shower their gratitude to the people for keeping them in the contests. These electoral contests between various political parties ceremoniously take place every few years form the heart of this reactionary and retrogressive movement. This is retrogressive in its affinity with practices of royal, colonial, and feudal eras where representatives were chosen from among the exploiters. Mere transfer of power from colonial agents to capitalistic ones may not be sufficient sign of progress, but it should not appear so alluring that any sign of fundamental protest is obliterated.

And yet, in the recent elections in India, a continuance of political tradition has resulted. It does not matter who has won the polls insofar as some parties have emerged winners. In the victory of the electoral system as a sustained thread for unified Republic of India lies the defeat of the majority of people, destitute of dignified lives and yet heralded as architects of the country’s growing economy.

Such is the humongous irony in Indian elections that the poorest section of the society has chosen to be represented by the agents of the richest section. Even as ironical, this should not come as a surprise, since every country that lays its political foundation upon the so-called democratic elections has a ruling class exact opposite in its economic nature from its majority subjects. But unlike most such countries, India’s second largest organized political party is actually proclaimed as Communistic. The aspirations of this political base are naturally ambitious when they vocally champion the causes of the oppressed – the huge majority of Indians. In fact, so much is their sphere of influence that for the first three decades of India’s sovereign status, it was the Communist Party of India and its sympathizers within the ruling Congress regimes that led the country through a certain Nehruvian Socialistic/Internationalist way of life as opposed to a fundamentally different, yet more naturally inclined considering the cultural givens – nationalistic, religious, reactionary way of life as envisaged by the Hindutva forces after their successful attempt at ensuring a creation of a Muslim nation separated from India. During the period of so-called Cold War, India was guided mostly by leftist philosophical overtures thereby cooperating with the Soviet Union on most grounds so much so that it went to war with American interests in Pakistan, and East Pakistan while submitting to Chinese communistic dominance. In Indian academics, the leftists thoughts prevailed. In scientific progresses, collaborations were made with Soviet Union. In business, India maintained a huge public sector reserve. In other words, the communists significantly influenced Indian way of life, managed the largest trade unions and despite their comparatively minimal presence inside the Parliament, they steered several ruling class policies to overtly show sympathetic tones towards pro-people, not pro-profit legislations. Subsidies, rural employment schemes, agrarian incentives formed the major portion of Indian political interventions.

In a way, the Communists in India had a sway over both the elected leaders and the Indian population in an unmatched manner in the history.

And yet, 2009 elections mark the biggest blow to the organized communistic movement in Indian political space. What then has resulted in such a mandate?

What is left of the Indian Left?

The answer obviously is not obvious. But contrary to media beliefs, Communists have probably not been defeated in this election season. The parties have certainly lost considerably in their seat-gathering momentum. But in this defeat of theirs lies their eventual victory.

Since the dissolution of the USSR, like every other Communist Party in the world, the organized Indian left started to crumble in its orientation once more (the first major blow was over Sino-Soviet split). In a desperate attempt to survive, the Indian communist parties evolved strategies of fighting the system within the system. Extending “outside support” to the ruling parties formed part of an instinctual decision of the leadership which was a radical shift in the leftist position. A blurry line between outside support and coalition network dissolved in no time and the party in its ambitious best decided to actually take charge of the power if thus granted at the national level. There is nothing inherently wrong in aspiring to win the mandate if that is the goal of political activism, irrespective of ideologies. But what went missing was the self-evaluation of the philosophy of communism as an emancipatory tool for the working class from the vestiges of capitalistic utopia.

Instead of acknowledging the necessity to unite progressive forces for the sake of replacing a political system that was soon becoming subservient to imperialistic interests, the leading communist parties employing tactics of survivalism chose to seek and appease a public that was intoxicated through post-modern bliss of uncontested capitalism. These leaderships were readily embraced by the the media houses as representatives of the Indian left, to the exclusion of the extremists, Maoists, the Marxists-Leninists. Two major communist parties and few left leaning outfits which were legitimized by a ruling government to be able to participate in the popular system grew electoral wings and their media acceptance. In an almost desperate bid to exhibit their power position, they supported Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led coalition, even if upon their own terms. The class agitators became the class reconciliators.

Shedding every bit of Marxist conclusions, the official communists joined the market-driven Congress-led coalition to form a Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The CMP aimed to dissolve the differences between working class needs and bourgeois aspirations, with an enviable ability to eventually deny the fundamental nature of conflict between classes. The idea that the official communists agreed upon was that it was possible to reconcile the differences between classes by forging common alliance and following a market economic model with a ‘human face’. Joseph Stiglitz and his likes became difficult to ignore as their humanitarian pleas for the rich nations to help the poor ones were projected as the biggest dissent against World Bank philosophies. Communists, alongwith their role in attempting for reconciliation also declared their politically amicable positions when it came to support neoliberal market forces.

With “reforms” replacing “revolutions” in the literature of the communist parties, and with supports for selective privatization plans of Manmohan Singh – the chief architect of neoliberal economic policies in India – the legitimized leftist forces fell out of line with their ideological distinctiveness even as they fell into the power paradigms of the nation. India was soon evolving into a nation that proclaimed its own brand of wars on terror against its dissenting peoples. And communists, once accused of being the internationalists, now stood vulnerable as identifying with reactionary nationalist anthems. When Manmohan Singh on his several addresses to the nation including on Independence Day celebration of 2006, declared that the biggest threat to India was not the poverty or unemployment, but the Naxalites- the dissenters against a failed political system he was heading, the Communists were supporting him. Dr Singh’s words included, “We cannot rest in peace till we have eliminated this virus. We need to cripple Naxalite forces with all the means at our command…The Naxalite threat was the biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country.”

Biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India? For such a learned man like Manmohan Singh (who of course credits with gratitude the Colonial Crown for all his knowledge in his infamous speech in Britain), even a cursory look at security threats in India would have suggested glaringly different realities. Atrocities committed by Indian defense forces against their occupied lands of the North-East are just a passing reminders about priorities India must set before claiming the moral high. The farmer suicides – the highest act of insecurity – owing to failure of loan repayments would perhaps stand in the line of top internal security threats in India, a country whose national reserves are way higher than the debts and yet which, thanks to the market fetishes of MacMohans have to keep borrowing from the international monetary organizations at rates that must corrupt the country and thereby impoverish it to the extent of subjugated living for at least decades without end. Not only has the economist in Dr Singh been blatantly wrong in his market assessment of India’s financial situation (employing this ignorance, his finance minister provisions more than 80% of the budget towards repayments to World Bank and the likes), the militarist in Dr Singh has been entirely wrong in assessing the security needs of his country (employing this arrogance, his regime provisions for more than 15% of the rest budget towards defence expenditure to fight the dissenting poor). In his militarist speech to curb the “virus” of India, Dr Singh was merely echoing sentiments of another militarist predecessor of his, A B Vajpayee’s.

Vajpayee wrote in India Today dated December 26, 2005, “The activities of Naxalite and other extremist forces sound a warning bell for India’s future. These forces, which have no faith in the power of the ballot, not only endanger India’s democracy, harm India’s socio-economic growth, condemning the poor and backward areas in which they mainly operate to continued poverty, and imperil India’s unity and integrity, but also their ideologies and actions pose a threat to everything we value in India’s cultural and spiritual heritage. Political parties and governments must sink their differences in evolving a united and comprehensive strategy to neutralize this peril.”

Sure, the communists were not alarmed at the profound similarity in opinions between Vajpayee and Singh. The extremists in both Singh and Vajpayee’s opinions were agitators from the left who organized the masses for violent protests against continued oppression. Whereas the Hindutva extremists managed to contest elections and rule over commercial capital of India for years, and whereas the Market extremists managed to contest elections and rule over the political capital of India for decades, the alarming virus was noticed only within the rank of the Left extremists who continued to be seen as the biggest threat to India’s internal security because they organized the poor for proactive measures for their welfare which the government failed to provide for. One gets reminded of how the FBI used to consider the Black Panther Party as the biggest internal security threat to the United States because they used to offer free mid-day lunch program for black children in poor school districts. But, no, the official communists did not get reminded of the history.

Communist party, whose elementary functionings depend on theorized goals and strategies to struggle for social justice, always commanded respect among a section of people, consisting of working class poor, idealistic students and patriotic seniors who were well informed about the party’s role in India’s struggle for independence against the colonialists, and in its internationalist alliance to fight the forces of imperialism. Struggles for social justice do not easily translate to power corridors. In fact, they are incompatible aspirations. Especially, if the power is not wrested by force or consent from the private monopolist consolidators and their agents, and instead be granted via a ballot system that thrives through ignorant masses and financially sponsored candidates.

What needs to be Done?

Even as the romancing with bourgeois parties have ended, the communists need to remind themselves that their role in human history is not of becoming agents for reconciliation, but rather to emerge as the torchbearers of revolutions. To that effect, they must officially extend supports to all progressive forces in India that are oppressed today by the corporate and political power structure sustained through electoral processes. Exercising vote may be a free idea, but it is not a step towards achieving freedom for the oppressed. A choice mechanism that revolves around one bourgeois party and another, between one corrupt politician and another, between one religiously divisive force and another, between one exploiting regime and another, between one coalition of opportunists and another, between one capitalist enterprise and another – no matter the differences between their religions, castes, or nationalities- is not a mechanism that can ever be used to create a socialist society.

When winning an election within a neoliberal setup is no more a goal, when appeasing a growing middle-class opportunistic urban youths is no more a mission, when becoming politically correct to address issues of caste, gender and religion is no more an option, the communists will find them by the sides of the oppressed in India – these people may be the unpaid housewives, unemployed engineers, agitating teachers, misdirected youths, displaced indigenous peoples, marginalized dalits, exploited domestic housekeepers, non-unionized software mechanics, faceless rape survivors, undertrial prisoners, street theater activists, legal sex workers, illegal child laborers….indeed, with the majority of people in India. Poor peasants, organized naxalites and factory workers are just a fraction of the solidarity network. Redistribution of property is the only necessity at this and at every historical stage in order to enforce social justice. This is an aim that require massive political education and emancipation of the working class. Only then will voting make any sense as a political act. Voting as a means to gain power is a feeble attempt at securing status quo. The communists are by nature inclined to destabilize the status quo.

This so-called defeat of communists in Indian elections is actually a victory for the organized communism. It is a call for carving out a unique niche once again with the historical opportunity it provides. To choose its side with the very people it has been despising each time the communist party has faltered into forming coalitions. To recognize that there indeed are class antagonisms, and not every interest needs to be catered to in quest of winning a democratic mandate. To strengthen the progressive forces everywhere in India, and in the world in a collective struggle against maintenance of imperialistic forces that spread their reach through global capital. This is the opportunity to stay away from power corridors and go back to the peoples in educating, organizing and agitating them against the system that perpetuates class society through poverty, unemployment, and divisions along lines of race, caste, sex, religion, and nationalities. To form a classless society requires, not an election, but organized revolution against the winners of elections that hold the national posts in order to facilitate international trades. The communists must not forget where they came from: from a fundamental difference with the existing world structures, with an intent to replace it, not aspire to becoming a collaborator. The communists must never forget what Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote in the Manifesto exactly 160 years ago:

“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

New American Magic Realism

By Saswat Pattanayak

Now that some time has passed since the United States stopped rejoicing a routine election fanfare necessitating short term relief from the economic war the capitalist government has unleashed upon the media consumers, one needs to critically attend to the repercussion of the events that passed by.

Not only Bush-McCain administration was unacceptable to the American people, they were equally unwanted by the corporate czars. Fixation on Iraq had to shift gears as not much excitement was left following brutal murder of Saddam Hussain. The military-industrial complex, tired of its “reconstruction” missions in Iraq (despite the profitability factor that leads them to continue seizing the land to this day) needed to focus elsewhere. And the new war mission needed to find a new leader. A differently appearing, yet positioned similarly in direction, an attractive personality, with a deceptively mixed agenda needed to be given charge. From nullifying the necessity to contain electoral budgets to promoting imperialistic expansions in the “post-war” period, from conveying an impression of rendering public service through recreation of “big government”, to facilitating spending of the public money for further private monopolistic accumulation – the corporate America needed a government that will prevent collective anger from taking a revolutionary turn.

In the history of last one hundred years, every time American military has invaded a foreign land, popular resentments inside the country have threatened the very basis of capitalism. Democratic Party, that holy cow banner maker of pacifism has suffered the worst of public anger. Be it during the time of Woodrow Wilson or Harry Truman or John F Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, each Democratic President has faced numerous protests from peaceniks inside the country. Sometimes, the peace lovers have even turned violent in their demonstrations in order to appeal to the consciousness of their favored self-proclaimed world leaders.

Today, the scenario is no different. President Barack Obama has raised the military budgets to unprecedented levels during the most unusual time of economic collapse. His seeking of $75.5 billion for the wars is a supplemental-spending request. Wall Street Journal reports that the president is increasing the budget as well as the force in Afghanistan by more than 20,000 new recruits (totaling American presence to 58,000). And despite the reinforced corporate presence in Iraq, sustained military assault on Pakistani civilians, significant infiltration into Afghanistan, reliance on Japan to silence North Korea, breadcrumb diplomacy in Latin America, there have been no rigorous criticism of the administration. In fact, there have been no demands from the publicly pacifist sections of the society either. No “Bring our Boys Home”. No “War is Over” narrative.

Such misdirected are political sentiments and such doleful are peace education that amidst the wave of celebration surrounding new American leadership, basic tenets of radical protests have been buried within frameworks of false hopes and unnecessary optimism. In deeply myopic stance of understanding progressivism, left intelligentsia has fallen for the media engineered leadership wheel. Absent from the conversation is the proposition that singular heads elected in modern western democracies are best leaders money can buy. These leaders obliged as they are to the military industrial complex must necessarily sustain the very system that lifts them up to a level worthy of glorification.

The series of gratitudes showered by President Obama to his election is a symbolic validation of the virtue of White House irrespective of its everlasting dark ages. Declaration of America as land of the infinite possibilities in wake of recent results is a celebration of wealth accumulation that must decide fate of aspirants preaching race blindness. Drawing parallels of an electoral victory for a person of color as a probable end of race discourse in white societies is normalization of privilege denial.

The issues that are being projected as resolved with the new president’s arrival are the very issues that are problems of the future. Like Wilson, Obama continues to be a fervent anti-communist publicly bashing the philosophy. Like Truman, he is yet another proud “War President” cheering the onslaughts in Iraq by his troops. Like Kennedy, Obama is an interventionist who minces no words before deciding to target yet another sovereign country. Like Johnson, he drafts one policy for North Korea while creating another for China (LBJ’s infamous speech goes on to validate American quest to combat Korean communism while not intending to attack Chinese communism). Like Carter or Clinton, Obama’s peace pledges have been convenient in form and impractical in content. Be it the lingering silence over Israeli show of strength in Middle East or American lingering show of strength in South Asia.

Liberal media takes fancy in comparing Obama with Bush and scoring brownie points. Where they need to make a substantial headway instead is in comparing Obama with Kennedy and Clinton. That is, after the necessary critical historical scholarship has gone into researching the so-called Cold War and why President Obama inherits an unenviable experiential heritage. The ease and comfort with which Obama proclaims moral world leadership to bomb Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the skillful oratory that carves his presence among capitalist bigwigs at G-20 summit are necessary consequences of the system that allows him to preside at the helm. Obama’s espousal at the London summit that “In America at least, people don’t resent the rich; they want to be rich. And that’s good,” was not merely his support for Wall Street monopolists. It is fundamental a philosophy for the growth of capitalism at the cost of oppressing the majority poor.

The usual resentments associated with such sick statements advocating Wall Street riches and bonuses have been declared dead. The otherwise anger resulting from hawkish mentality of world leadership while bombing civilians in the guise of locating a hooligan has been voluntarily suppressed. The necessary methodically critical analyses of imperialistic world leaders have been shoved to irrelevance. The hegemony is ideological this time. Self-censorship is the icing. Normalization, in the Gramscian sense, has come to stay. Hope is the magic. And the realism.