Platoon of Leeches and the New Royal Parasite

By Saswat Pattanayak


BBC informed us: “Kate in Labour as the World Waits”, CNN’s Victoria Arbiter said Kate Middleton was “brilliant for delivering a boy”, Times of India updated Indian readers about “15 quirky facts” they “didn’t know about the royal baby”, while The Hindu kept up with the times as it ruptured, “It’s a boy! Kate gives birth to royal heir”. Not to mention, the famed liberal newspaper Guardian started worrying over the name with its headline, “Alexandra, Charlotte, George or James – all royal baby name bets are on.” There was perhaps not a single news establishment of the mainstream order that did not highlight this event. And not a single one among them that painted a bleak picture. Not one of them took this opportunity to question the frenzy and to demand the abolition of that celebration.

Among the less mainstream publications, some did give space to an alternative narrative. Reflective questions were posed regarding the needs for such euphoria. Some more radical observations even went to the extent of saying that funding for the royal families should be checked. Some have also opined that the royal family is almost an embarrassment. And the politically correct voices of dissent said the criticism of the baby can wait until he becomes an adult. At best, there has been an evasive quality to the informed criticisms, and at worst, a jubilation that paralleled the worldwide mourning around the death of Princess Diana several years ago. Regardless of the observations, and perhaps because of them, it’s time now to face and critique some inconvenient truths.

And the truth is royal family is not an embarrassment. It is a criminal institution. It is not a laughing matter. It is a despicable agency. It’s members are not saints. They are hooligans. It’s legacy is not of a cultural pride. It is one of racist supremacism. Royal positions are not ceremonious figureheads. They are active displays of colonial machismo. The very fact that they still exist in our times is testament to our collective failure to appreciate immense human sacrifices made at the alters of freedom struggles against these filthy criminals, these usurpers of powers, these enslavers of destinies.

Even the most brutal of dictators in world history would tremble at the mercilessness of the European empires, led in example by the British. For these parasites did not just fend off their compliant slaves at home in the name of taxes and free labor, but they also amassed their insatiable gluttony through exploitations of billions of people who lived outside their goddamned territories. Royal families were so vicious that even those they sent to America also writhed in agony.

As Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense (1776), “Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families….Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still….”

The monster had a special liking for those who it heavily penalized so that the royal family lived in luxuries. But special scorn was reserved for those it overtly owned as slaves so the family oversaw the growth of the business it called an empire. This business profited the masters and afflicted the slaves; salvaged the advocates and purged the dissenters; enriched the family trees of the royal parasites, while starving the countless minions.

So complete was its influence that Eric Williams wrote in Capitalism & Slavery (1944), “All classes in English society presented a united front with regard to the slave trade. The monarchy, the government, the church, public opinion in general, supported the slave trade…The Spanish monarchy set the fashion which European royalty followed to the very last…Hawkins’ slave trading expedition was launched under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth. The British government, prior to 1783, was uniformly consistent in its encouragement of the slave trade. The first great rivals were the Dutch, who monopolized the carrying trade of the British colonies. Soon, England’s victory over Holland left her face to face with France. It was a conflict of rival mercantilisms. The struggle was fought out in the Caribbean, Africa, India, Canada and on the banks of the Mississippi, for the privilege of looting India and for the control of certain vital and strategic commodities – Negroes, sugar and tobacco; fish, furs and naval stores. Of these areas the most important were the Caribbean and Africa; of these commodities the most important were Negroes and sugar. The outstanding single issue was the control of the Asiento.”

Against such backdrops of controlling resources and owning slaves, the royal families of Europe colonized the then vast and wealthy continents of Africa and Asia. When Clive entered Murshidabad in 1757, he wrote, “This city is as extensive, populous and rich as the city of London, with this difference that there were Individuals in the first possessing infinitely greater property than in the last city”. Speaking of all the provinces of India and especially of the region of Bengal and Bihar, Manouchi wrote in the eighteenth century, “The prodigious riches transported thence into Europe are proofs of its great fertility. We may venture to say that it is not inferior in anything to Egypt, and that it even exceeds that kingdom in its products of silks, cottons, sugar and indigo. All things are in great plenty here, fruits, pulse, grain, muslins, cloths of gold and silk.”

For the apologists of colonialism, it is worth reminding that countries like India were so drained of their resources and their peoples kept so deprived that the 1926 Royal Commission on Agriculture in India concluded, “Of all the disabilities from which the masses in India suffer, malnutrition is the chief, and most far-reaching of the causes of the diseases in India.” The 1929 Royal Commission on Labour in India reported that “in most industrial centers the proportion of families and individuals who are in debt is not less than two-thirds of the whole…”. In the “unregulated” factories and industries, in which the overwhelming majority of Indian industrial workers were employed, “workers as young as five years of age were found working without adequate meal intervals or weekly rest days, and often for 10 or 12 hours daily, for sums as low as 2 annas.”

Even without going into the details of ruling class atrocities, murders and human rights records under the colonial regimes supervised by the royal family, and even without dwelling over how much of the colonies it ravaged and left in abject poverty, in almost unrecoverable stages of development – the fact that the world media is swooning over the birth of the newest royal parasite today is a pathetic portrayal of our obsession for monarchies. It’s almost as though we have started relishing our states of servitude. It’s not merely bizarre that we have been witnessing the masses clinging unto the gate of the palaces, and glued to their television sets – for days in anticipation of the news of the birth of someone in the family that has entirely thrived at the expense of enslaving others, and continuing to relax at the expense of hardworking taxpayers of a country
that dares call itself civilized.

In Britain suffering under austerity measures, on that very fateful day, over 2000 babies were born, out of which 540 were born into poverty, and another 600 into families struggling with unsecured public sector jobs. In the British class society, the top 200 babies are 850 times richer than the bottom 200. With a model that still distinguishes the lords from the commoners, with a system that remains the greatest defender of inheritance and bloodlines, with a public outcry that loudly and proudly proclaims that its regressive traditions will never wither, it is only more tragic to see that the masses turn to proverbial scavenging, and the bloodthirsty hawks remain secured in their palatial abodes grinning like the sun never set on their empire. And for a reality check on their grins, one needs only to take a look at the numerous colonies they have profited from, after rendering them impoverished. Much of Africa and Asia – the Third World – stands still, as neocolonial projects, struggling with debates surrounding growth and development, charities and monopolies, foreign takeovers and domestic instabilities.

But what bears resemblance with the spirit of what Malcolm X used to call the nature of a “house slave”, these colonies still remain in awe, not disgust, of their former master – with teenagers sporting Union Jack on their tee-shirts; and even as the indigenous freedom fighters had overthrown their own little kingdoms in the colonies, the new generation parents not so secretly craving to call their children – little prince and little princess. At an international level, the Commonwealth of Nations very much exists, headed of course by Queen Elizabeth II. These are a shameless bunch of 52 countries comprising over two billion people, who still bask in the glories of their colonized legacies. Only Zimbabwe has had the courage to reject the Commonwealth membership, standing up against it like Lumumba once did while refusing to thank the Belgian monarchy, for anything at all.

Commonwealth of Nations is tolerated on the ground that it is symbolic, just as various Kings and Queens in Europe are accepted on the grounds that they are all symbolic. The truth is only by demolishing their palatial structures, and through imprisoning those evil scroungers on charges of evading taxes for centuries, the symbolic gestures of justice can be duly carried out. Since all the previous generations of these bloodline rulers cannot be anymore captured, simply by sentencing to life each of the existing heads, can the symbolic justice be finally served. By returning the stolen jewelries, artifacts, furniture, carpets, gold coins and the stuffed animals to the respective former colonies, along with the reparation amounts – can the symbolic humane gestures be exhibited. And if prison sentence for their masters sounds too loud for the civilized British slaves, what would truly become symbolic is when this newborn headline boy is raised in a working class neighborhood after the entire platoon of royal freeloaders is shifted from that monstrous Buckingham Palace.

Considering all the irreparable damages wrought upon the planet Earth and its billions of inhabitants over the centuries by this royal family, no sentence is too harsh, and no judgment too much. Yet if our unfortunate history is any indication, these bloodsuckers may well flourish under the garb of a fancy phrase “constitutional monarchy”. They may continue to combat every revolution by denouncing it as a “riot”. They may continue to celebrate their generational leeches by calling them “royal babies”. And we the commoners might only be allowed to bet our money on the probable name for the future king. Any more adventures may force us to die like that loyal Indian subject Jacintha Saldanha, the very first victim of the future King. And yet thanks to this newborn, we must finally choose: whether to evade suicide by upholding the sanctity of this royal family or commit to equitable redistribution of worldly resources by all means possible. And giving the devil it’s due, the choice suddenly appears to be abundantly clear.


(First published in Kindle Magazine)


Free Market War on Gaddafi: Unjust, but Natural

The war against Libya is a continued assault on part of the imperialist and rogue nations of the First World against the champions of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and progressive socialism of the Third World. Contrary to corporate media spins, the war is neither about oil money, nor about installing democracy. It is neither about the rebel uprising in the Arab world, nor about merely ending a dictatorial regime.

The war against Libya is an attack on every remnant of collective human aspiration for freedom, peace, justice and equality. The war against Libya is a war against every future possibility that can enable international solidarities among peoples who envision a better world that belongs not to oligarchs and media monopolists, but is shaped up by the ideas of the internationalists, the pan-Africanists.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s demand for the United States of Africa does not manifest in a Utopia. Quite the opposite: it is a scathing indictment of an unequal world whose mammoth immoralities are deep-rooted in an oppressed Africa. The only way the world’s richest continent has been kept impoverished thus far is through systematic subjugation of its human and natural resources, via colonial power sharing. Just as Che Guevara’s dream for a unified Latin America resulted in his assassination, Gaddafi’s dream for a unified Africa has the murderers on the loose on a hunt for him. Just as Che and the Cuban revolution have been consistently portrayed in the most inhuman manners through western media propaganda and official foreign sanctions, Gaddafi’s life of revolutionary commitments has been spun by the western media with, as Hugo Chavez says, “a colossal campaign of lies”.

The campaign of lies has been since a long time, well accepted among the Pulitzer-honored American media and the European free press alike. The western media propaganda mill never paused for a while before publicizing Ronald Reagan’s absurdities regarding Libya during his cold war witch-hunts. Its also critical to deviate slightly and observe that when the western press endorses official statements from its own politicians as truths requiring no further investigations (the weapons of mass destructions with Saddam being the most infamous of the claims), it is presumed to be the acts of the Free Press. But, if the official statements of the “evil” countries (North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, China, among this endless list) are found published in their press coverages, they are outrightly denounced as unfree press. Such hypocrisies intact, the American media convinced the citizens of Reagan’s free land that Libya needed to be bombed out of proportion for it was responsible for the death of one civilian in a West Berlin nightclub bombing in 1986.

“Our evidence is direct, it is precise, it is irrefutable,” announced American President Ronald Reagan to justify his war on Libya – without providing any evidence to the press or to the public. The war on Libya during President Obama’s tenure is as deceptively being carried out today as it was during Reagan’s time. Both the regimes have demanded for Gaddafi’s ouster, if not outright murder. The only difference is Reagan managed to kill 99 civilians, while Obama sits comfortably numb over thousands of deaths and more. Looks like Reagan’s unfinished task shall find a logical culmination in Obama’s.

The pattern too is shockingly similar. Reagan’s America was rejoicing over the death of Qaddafi’s daughter, and hospitalization of his wife and other children, caused by American bombing. And today, fed with sensationalistic media spins, Obama’s America awaits with anticipation and glee for the news of deaths from Libya’s First Family.

After all, Reagan had declared Qaddafi the “mad dog of the Middle East” and the mad dog must be killed. Libya had nothing to do with the single death from nightclub bombing in Berlin then, and it was unclear how precise was American intelligence information when it came to killing of 99 civilians in Libya. Were any of them responsible for the death in Berlin? Or were they looking for just one person, Qaddafi instead? The Guardian newspaper confirmed from an Air Force intelligence officer that it was only Qaddafi who the US was actually after. No surprises, considering how the US administrations have a history of murdering heads of states that resisted American capitalistic hegemony. The more critical question then is, what excuse does the US have now to continue such monstrous principles even after the so-called Cold War is apparently over? Is it the need to monopolize over oil resources, destabilize Islamic regimes, establish political democracy world over, or just control and dominate the world in the imperialistic manner?

Considering the absolutely amicable – and profitable – relationship America shares with the Saudi Arabia and other undemocratic regimes, it would be naive to conclude that America is serious about destabilizing Islamism or establishing democratic governances. So, are Euro-American war ventures merely the battles over oil? Or are they actually about reinforcing imperialism, and bringing back colonialism? Or perhaps, both? In fact, isn’t oil a given, once colonialism is realized?

Fulfillment of imperialistic fetishes takes place through iconization of the enemy that must be annihilated. For the United States and European Union alike, Gaddafi has been the epitome of the archenemy. He has been the most defiant voice against western hegemony, and the most successful of revolutionaries in all of Africa. In bringing him down, the imperialistic ambitions would have realized a unparalleled potential. Not just the bombing of the nightclub, the American press continued to publish unfounded accusations against Gaddafi to generate and sustain a sense of paranoia among the citizens home to such an extent that they shall not resist becoming accomplices of murders in the foreign land. From Chicago gangmen who were allegedly offered millions of dollars by Gaddafi to murder innocent American citizens, to blowing up of a synagogue in Istanbul, Gaddafi was cited as the villain of it all by American press – without a trace of an evidence to substantiate such serious claims.

Not just the media propaganda, the western intellectual horizon is equally shrouded with biased agendas. Lyn Boyd-Judson from University of Southern California attempted at an academic explanation for Gaddafi’s rise in a much publicized essay. She selectively quoted another biased study on Libya by John Wright (“Libya: A Modern History”). Wright, in the classically colonialist fashion declared Libyan people as “politically retarded” (“politically ignorant” in another context) around the time Gaddafi overthrew colonial rule. Judson’s intellectual roots and Wright’s colonial mindsets are typical of subservient administrative scholarships which one way or the other thrive via endorsements of the “good old days”.

In actuality, Libya’s modern history does not comprise a “politically retarded” people who submitted themselves to Gaddafi. It is quite the contrary. When the so-called “free” nations of the First World woke up to the revolutions by North African people against European colonialism (Italian misrules in Libya, in this instance), they stepped in promptly to seize the opportunity to establish a puppet monarchy in their favor.

Contrary to claims by John Wright and endorsements by Lyn Boyd Judson, Omar Mukhtar who led the resistance against Italian colonialism in Libya was neither “politically retarded” himself, nor was leading a bunch of “politically retarded” people of North Africa. Mukhtar, a hero to Gaddafi, was a teacher of Holy Qur’an and a master of Guerrilla warfare. For over twenty years, he was ably supported by indigenous African peoples in their collective uprisings against the Italians. He was the most ferocious opponents of Fascism in the whole of Africa. When the American and British forces were not even recognizing Africa as a site of revolution, Mukhtar was waging the fiercest of battles against Benito Mussolini. While Eurocentric scholars were dismissing African people as “politically retarded”, Omar Mukhtar’s revolutionary army posed the gravest challenge in the history of Italian colonialism.

Instead of recognizing Mukhtar’s contributions and young Gaddafi’s revolutionary participations, the First World nations went ahead to install a puppet monarchy. Had they supported Mukhtar’s legacies or Gaddafi’s rise, it would have become impossible to continue the menace of neocolonialism in Libya because both Mukhtar and Gaddafi were sick and tired of Western interventions in Africa. Contrary to anthropological misgivings, peoples of Africa – both the North and the South – were enlightened, and the African peoples – both the Arabs and the indigenous – were empowered in their collective stance against colonialism. African peoples were not the “politically retarded” who needed the help of the “civilized” first world. It was the first world – the genesis of Colonialism, Fascism, Nazism, White Supremacism and Democratic Farcism – which has been the most barbaric of societies, while the African land – the origin of humanism, tolerance, peace, freedom, and justice – has been the land of greatest civilization.

Colonel Gaddafi, and Nelson Mandela are among the brightest of representatives of the civilized peoples of Africa in their steadfast opposition against the barbaric West. Unfortunately, albeit quite predictably, the western corporate media continued to highlight exactly the opposite. Unable to shatter its barbaric shell, the capitalistic world of the first world remained entrenched in waging wars against innocent peoples of Korea and Vietnam, against all edicts of international peace treaties. The First World continued to support the Apartheid regime of South Africa, the Belgian colonialism in Congo and the French annexation of Algeria, just to name a few. And most illustratively the First World continued its assault on Gaddafi – the leader who overthrew King Idris and his bunch of subservient clowns forming the first and the last monarchy in Libya, the oligarch who was installed by the European and North American ruling classes as their “good dictator”, as their Batista of the North Africa.

Colonel Gaddafi and his revolutionary army, overthrew from Libya the last remnant of colonial rule, of the neocolonial hangover, of the illegal monarchy. 1960’s onwards, it was Gaddafi who played the role of the conscience keeper of the African people. He remained the voice of the oppressed, the champion of the anti-imperialism, the fighter against colonialism and neocolonialism world over. Gaddafi was the worthy successor to Egypt’s Nasser and it was Gaddafi who furthered Nasserism from its ethos of Arab Nationalism to its eventual goal for Pan-Africanism.

Gaddafi remained the hope of the Third World, the most resolute advocate of freedom, liberty, equality and justice. It was Gaddafi who signaled to the world that the Western powers – which practiced Apartheid against the blacks in America, against the Jews in Europe, and against the indigenous peoples of Africa and Asia in the pretext of colonial rules – are the least likely candidates to be using phrases of social justice and democracy to further their imperialistic aims. It was Gaddafi who led the Third World resolutions against the colonial regimes of South Africa and of Congo – exposing the greatest hypocrisies amongst the political elites of the “free” world. It was Gaddafi who vindicated the global need to contain Israeli dominance lest it gets reduced to emerging as the stockpiling backyard for Euro-American expansionist efforts.

Gaddafi stood the tallest among all freedom fighters of the world in his unwavering support to the Black Power movement in the United States, to the Red Brigade in Italy, to the Irish Republican Army in the United Kingdom, to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to the Japanese Red Army, to various peacenik, disarmament groups and to the Pan African Congress in South Africa, among others. He, more than anyone else, raised the global consciousness regarding the need to radically overthrow colonialism from African and Asian lands, while recognizing the ugly faces of racism, militarism, and white supremacism in the American and European territories.

No wonder, the name of Gaddafi distresses and causes enormous amount of uneasy in the power corridors of the western ruling class elites who identify with their colonial past and imperialistic future. No wonder the name of Gaddafi sends shivers in the newsrooms at the CNN and BBC, at AFP and Fox, in the corporate media propaganda mills of the “free” world. Both the liberals and the conservatives – whose imaginations have failed them in acknowledging the ongoing revolutions in Michigan, and in London, in Paris, and in Greece – are the ones too quick to judge Gaddafi as a an evil monster. No wonder, they are the ones who once criticized Nelson Mandela for coming to Tripoli in order to bestow the “Order of Good Hope”, the highest honor of the liberated South Africa, upon Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

Speaking from Tripoli, Mandela had thundered to the Western powers and their liberal hypocrites, “Those who say I should not be here in Tripoli are without morals. This man (Colonel Qaddafi) helped us at a time when we were all alone, when those who say we should not come here were helping the enemy. Those who are bitter at our friendship can go drown themselves.”

Indeed, those that are bitter at the friendship of Gaddafi and Mandela can go drown themselves. Gaddafi and Mandela represent not only the largest regions comprising the Northern and Southern African continent, they represent ideas and values way higher than is perceivable by a world order growing in hollowness, bereft of knowledge in the historical roots of peoples revolutions. Mandela has reminded the world time and again to take cognizance of the sacrifices Libyan people under Gaddafi have made to ensure a world of dignity for the colonized and oppressed of Africa and Asia. Mandela declared, “The people of Libya shared the trenches with us in our struggle for freedom. You were in the front ranks of those whose selfless and practical support helped assure a victory that was as much yours as it is ours. We are therefore deeply moved to be amongst freedom fighters for whom the freedom of others was as precious as their own.”

What exactly distinguishes the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela from the likes of David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama? The most trenchant of them all is their respective stances towards the world status quo. Whereas Gaddafi/Castro/Mandela have demanded for greater powers for the General Assembly of the United Nations with an aim to strengthen the majority of the member nations, the Cameron/Sarkozy/Obama varieties have vigorously maintained the elitist position of the Security Council as the final arbitrator of world order. Whereas Gaddafi/Castro/Mandela are indigenous revolutionaries at the forefront of battles against colonialism who must uphold the principles of social justice and organize international solidarity against global capitalism, the Cameron/Sarkozy/Obama are beneficiaries of deceptive political practices funded by private banks and vested interests that must uphold global capitalism and its expansionistic order of imperialism.

With such fundamental differences among the world leaders and ideologies, there should not be any surprises and question marks. Every war in the world has been a class war. Whether it be popular revolts against monarchies, or progressive movements against colonialism, every time the masses have united in their efforts against the imperialists, the traditional ruling classes, in turn, have recruited from among the masses to gain back their lost power. The much publicized death of colonialism and monarchy is merely a sham. Its the accompanying shame for the so-called “civilized” world which has forced their ruling classes to renounce the tags of colonialism. But in reality, colonialism is thriving in the garb of democracy crusades. In the classical patterns of geographical annexations of the imperial past, the neocolonialists are this time shamelessly encroaching whatever land they can grab with an intent to teach their former subjects a lesson.

The war on Libya certainly did not begin in 2011. However, it probably is going to end this year if the rogue nations of G8 and NATO forces end up assassinating Colonel Gaddafi. But there should not be any illusions harbored as regards the outcome of this war. It is crucial to understand that the goals of this war do not lie in its eventualities. The goal is not to democratize Libya for the benefit of its people. Indeed, as it stands today, Libya is the most developed of all African nations, and Libya is the most secular of all Arab nations. And yet these are the very reasons why Libya must be bombed and its history textbooks must be replaced. Just as the goal of this war is to obliterate any nation and people in the world that aspire to be a Libya. The goal of this war will not have been achieved until all the peoples that aspire for social justice, reparations, and revolutions against the imperialists have been silenced. The goal of the war is to replicate the experiments the American, British and French regimes have conducted upon their own Black Panthers, the London “rioters” and the Muslim youths in Paris slums. The goal of the war is to declare the revolutionaries as the criminals. The goal of the war is to glorify corporate controls as free democracies. The goal of the war against Libya is to warn the world that no more Gaddafis can be allowed to exist in this new free trade world, that no more Gaddafis can be permitted to challenge the patterns of colonialism and monarchies, that no more Gaddafis can be tolerated who dare to challenge the First World Apartheids against the indigenous peoples of the world.

Yet, the single largest mistake routinely committed by war-mongers is that they often overlook important lessons of world history. They conveniently forget that revolutionaries are not born to foster circumstances. Revolutionaries are born from within the circumstances. In assassinating one Patrice Lumumba, the western powers did not end revolutions in Africa. In assassinating one Gaddafi, these hideous NATO powers are not going to succeed in preventing future Gaddafis. Or Mandelas. Or Castros. Or numerous revolutionaries the world over, including within Europe and North America, who have been unyieldingly challenging global capitalism. As Hugo Chavez rightly announced while honoring Gaddafi with Simon Bolivar’s Sword in 2009, “What Simon Bolivar is for Venezuelans, Moammar Gaddafi is for the Libyan people.”

Just as Chavez is the worthy successor to Simon Bolivar, it will be worthy of a historical revisit to trace the legacies of future Gaddafis. For, revolutionaries are not found among officially recorded chronicles of neatly arranged presidential tribute museums. Revolutionaries are traced back within the legacies they leave behind.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

Arab World Witnessing Anarchy, Not Revolutions

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

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

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

Beyond Oriental Fixations:

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

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

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

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

Revolutions and Counter-revolutions:

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

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

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

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

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

Ongoing Eisenhower Doctrine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)

India vs Indians: Revolution Never Ends in Orissa

Freedom will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear….
I do not need freedom when I’m dead
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread
– Langston Hughes

Using brute police force to silence indigenous peoples’ mass uprising in Orissa is not just an act of sheer cowardice and criminality; it is a decision founded upon gross ignorance of the unique stream of struggles which characterize the class war in the land that has witnessed more organized revolutions than enforced reforms.

Orissan tribal uprising has a definitive historical pattern. It is not exclusive to the current state of unrest. The administrations – both Union and the State – deliberately fail to acknowledge the peoples’ organized movements as thus. It is not a Maoist prerogative to envision the path of violent resistance among the oppressed in Orissa. Quite the contrary, actually – it is the continuation of radical dissent among the peoples of Orissa that has generated a certain Maoist character within the struggle.

The indigenous in Orissa have never retired from their relentless rebellions against the land-grabbers. They have violently challenged the zamindars, formed alliances against the kings, conspired to overthrow the British, and have demonstrated ample courage in battling caste supremacism. Tribal resistance movements in Orissa have consistently targeted foreign interventions via expropriation of their lands that threaten to result in economic distress.

Prof J. H. Hutton (quoted in G.S. Ghurye’s “The Scheduled Tribes”, 1961) observes, “All these rebellions were defensive movements: they were the last resort of tribesmen driven to despair by the encroachments of outsiders on their land or economic resources. As such they could have all been avoided had the authorities recognized the aboriginals’ grievances and taken steps to remedy them out… but before the pressure on the tribesmen had made an outbreak unavoidable. Indeed anyone with first hand experience of conditions in the backward areas must be surprised, not by the occurrence of risings, but by the infrequency of violent reactions on the part of the aboriginals to the loss of their ancestral lands and to their economic enslavement.”

Ghumsar Risings

One of the first organized revolts by the indigenous, known as Ghumsar risings, during early 19th century, illustrates how the people have cried for freedom from invaders, both local and global. Ghumsar, a small estate in Ganjam district was ruled by the Bhanja dynasty. Owing to default in revenue payment to the Empire, the British intervened in the affairs of Ghumsar and its ruler Srikar Bhanja was deposed in 1800 CE. When the British took control of Ghumsar after overthrowing Srikar’s son Dhananjaya, it was Dora Bisoi, a leader of the Kandhs (who was awarded the title of Birabar Patra) who won the support of the common people as well as Kandh chiefs to decide on the fate of Ghumsar. Since a Kandh leader could not be allowed to rule, Bisoi brought a 12-yr old girl and substituted Dhananjaya’s son of that age with her and ruled the estate on her behalf. Dora Bisoi was the leader of the masses and this was the reason why the Collector of Ganjam failed to arrest him for over three years.

Administrative officers did their best to harass Bisoi and finally, he escaped to Torabadi at Soroda. The Kandhs then garnered support of the Savaras in this movement against the British and the royals. In the meantime, Srikar Bhanja was again placed on the throne, but he failed to manage the affairs properly upon which his son Dhananjaya was reinstalled on the condition that he paid the dues to the British. British force under Sir Henry Taylor finally occupied Ghumsar in 1834.

Dora Bisoi, the leader of the anti-Bhanja rebellion now led a revolt against the British which claimed lives of several British soldiers and burnt down British camps. British Government appointed a special officer George Russell to capture Dora. Rebel leaders including Kollada, Galeri, and Durgaprasad lent support to Dora in their collective fight against the British, while they found shelter in the mountains of Daspalla and Nayagarh.

Special Commissioner Russell unleashed one of the greatest assaults upon a resisting people that changed the character of India’s freedom movement. The British offered an unprecedented Rs 5,000 as a reward to anyone who could capture Dora. Many rebel leaders were captured and hanged, but Dora escaped first to Patna before escaping to Angul. It was there that the Raja of Angul handed him over to the British and received the reward. Dora Bisoi died tortured in a state prison of Madras. But his ability to lead and create many rebel leaders in Orissa continued to inspire. Great Oriya patriot and nephew of Dora Bisoi, Chakradhar Bisoi took his place and Ganjam’s destinies were reshaped after what the people demanded, not what was imposed from above.

In Banpur, the Kandhs alongwith another low caste people Panas organized their struggle under the leaderships of Krutibas Patasahani, Sadhu Jani and Dunai Jani. Kandhs of Baudh also joined the movement and were united by leaders such as Nabaghana Kahnar, Bira Kahnar, and Madhab Kanhar. The Kandhs remained united in struggle for social justice and economic improvements against both the British and their Rajas. All efforts by the British to divide and rule over the tribals drastically failed.

Mariah Revolt

Elsewhere in India, people used to heed to their Kings as mediators between them and the British. Not so in Orissa. When the British could not accept their defeat in the hands of the Bisois and people of Ganjam, they used the Kandh practice of Mariah sacrifice as a moral justification to attack the indigenous. Chakra Bisoi flat refused to negotiate and the British brought the King of Baudh to intervene. Chakra Bisoi and his comrades not only defied the Baudh King, they burnt down the camp of the British agent and forced the Raja to be sent back with them.

Chakradhar successfully organized the Kandhs in the territories of Angul, Ghumsar, Boudh, Patna, Kalahandi and Paralakhemundi. He also led the Savaras in Paralakhemundi, the peasants in Nayagarh, as well as the Kandhs of Ranpur and Daspalla.

In 1846, right after rainy season, British officer Macpherson marched into Kandhamal to recover his prestige. His troops managed to burn down some houses of the Kandhs. But the Kandhs organized to strike back and plundered in every direction, making the revolt more widespread than before. Orissa’s tribal revolt against the royal thrones as well as British officers became such a matter of concern that the Madras unit of British Government sent a whole army under the command of General Dyee to control the situation. Government of Bengal cooperated with General Dyee to put an end to indigenous revolts.

Tribal leader Nabaghan Kahnar of Baudh and Chakra Bisoi harassed the British no end. Rani of Sonepur, Raja of Angul and Raja of Baudh tried their best to apprehend them and a reward of Rs 3,000 was declared this time. Failing in all their efforts to suppress tribal resistance, Raja of Baudh had to cede Kandhamal to the British.

Governments – both British and the feudal – tried all measures, including arresting Rendon Majhi, head of Borikiya Kandhs of Kalahandi on charges of performing human sacrifices. Most warrior class among the Kandhs, the Kutiya Kandhs joined the larger tribal movements and demanded the release of Majhi. Zamindar of Madanpur was removed when he failed to act against the rising violent rebellions. In the meantime, Chakra Bisoi escaped to Ganjam and joined with the Saoras to rise in rebellion under leadership of Radhakrushna Dandasena. The British ruthlessly attacked and burnt down scores of villages and hanged Dandasena.

Many rebel leaders were hanged and eliminated by the British forces. But this never stopped the march of the revolts. When the Baudha Raja in collaboration with the British oppressed the downtrodden in his state, a new leader Narayan Maliah led the Kandhs to lead yet another violent rebellion.

Bhuinya Risings

In 1868, the Bhuinya revolts determined the shape of things to come in Keonjhar. The newly appointed King Dhanurjaya was not recognized by the Bhuinyas. Tired of being brutalized by the royal family, tribal leader Ratna Naik led a popular agitation against the king. The Dewan of Keonjhar Nanda Dhal took help of officer Ravenshaw, the Superintendent of the Tributary Mahals. But the Bhuinyas did not remain silent for long. They rose in revolt, captured Nanda Dhal and Raja’s other associates, and plundered Keonjhargada, the kingdom.

The Bhuinyas found support from the Juangs and the Kols. The Deputy Commissioner of Singhbhum marched to Keonjhar and demanded that the indigenous groups return the captives. The Bhuinyas refused to cooperate and the Deputy Hayes requisitioned for another contingent of army from Singhbhum. Equipped with bows, arrows and swords, the Bhuinyas bravely confronted the British armies but had to finally surrender. Ratna Naik was captured by the Paiks of Pallahara on August 15, 1868 and brought to Cuttack. Paiks who were agents of the British helped arrest several hundreds of tribal revolutionaries. In a show trial, seven were sentenced to death, 27 were transported for life and 149 revolutionaries were imprisoned. Ratna Naik and three of his comrades were hanged in Cuttack.

Dharani Meli

Minor in age, but a boy of immense moral courage, Dharanidhar Naik of Bhuinya tribe was well educated for his age. The Raja of Keonjhar even appreciated his talents. But when he attempted to educate the fellow Bhuinyas, it did not sit well with the king. Dharanidhar, his brother and friends did not bury the lessons of their education. They organized the bonded labor class of Keonjhar against the King and demanded that they be paid for their work.

This infuriated the King of Keonjhar who had fancied that his tribal subjects were forever deemed to remain as slaves. Dharanidhar, even at such young age, did not submit to various temptations as offered by the King, and went ahead to foster a spirit of resistance among the oppressed indigenous peoples. Many of them then joined Dharanidhar in submitting a petition to the Superintendent of Tributary Mahals. The Superintendent obviously did not act upon the petition and the Raja arrested the petitioners.

Dharanidhar then went on to organize the people to revolt against the Raja. This shocked the ruling class. Dharanidhar led the people inside the palace and looted the palace and distributed the ill-gotten wealth among the people. The King of Keonjhar fled to Anandapur and sent his Assistant Dewan Fakirmohan Senapati to control the situation. Superintendent Ravenshaw also helped the King by sending a detachment of British force to Keonjhar.

Fakirmohan resorted to ugly tricks against the tribal leader. He assured Dharanidhar that the British police was there to help the tribal people. Dharanidhar on good faith appeared before the police officer, but little did he know that Fakirmohan was acting on behalf of the King and the British to punish the poor people who demanded their rights to dignity of life. Dharanidhar and his comrades were arrested and sent to years of rigorous imprisonment by the royal-feudal-bureaucratic-British nexus.

Sambalpur Revolution

Not only were the Adivasis exploited economically, they were also culturally forced to submit to higher-caste whims. The tribal deities were Hinduised and the indigenous were compelled to show allegiance to the protectors of their new Gods. In the guise of developing personal relationships between the rulers and the ruled, the indigenous peoples were routinely recruited to fight on behalf of the ruling class.

Sambalpur was a classic instance of cultural exploitation during the Sepoy Mutiny. Surendra Sai, a claimant to the guddee of Sambalpur used the Gond and Binjhal tribal chiefs to wage a war against the British Government because the British opposed Sai’s demands. The Gonds of course cooperated in resisting the British, but they also figured out that they were being manipulated by the ambitious ruling class hierarchies.

Sambalpur and adjoining areas were inhabited by the Gonds and the Binjhal tribes who enjoyed autonomy in governance, economic and political. When the king of Sambalpur died without a son, the British Government let his widow Rani Mohan Kumari to succeed him. The patriarchal upper-caste mindset prevalent in the kingdom could not allow a woman to govern the state. The biggest opponent happened to be Surendra Sai, a royal descendant from the Chauhan Raja of Sambalpur, who himself aspired to the throne.

Under the prevailing tensions, the British removed the Rani and replaced her with Narayan Singh who was also from the royal family. The Gonds agitated against Narayan Singh who was appeasing the higher castes by creating 37 Maufi tenures. The Gonds made remarkable progress in Sambalpur. They shook the foundation of royal families which were ambitious in their designs and atrocious in their actions against the dispossessed indigenous.

The Gonds brought Sambalpur to a standstill and organized mass movements to teach a lesson to the Brahmins and the royal family collaborators. In a historic episode now described as “Gond Maru”, the Gonds attacked higher caste people, burnt down their ill-gotten wealth and killed the caste supremacists who were encouraged by the royal families. King of Sambalpur entrusted a Brahmin talukdar of 96 villages with the task of putting down the tribal agitation. The Adivasis rose in revolt against the prescript and killed several Brahmin landlords. The British Government directly intervened to suppress the uprising, but considerably failed to.

Kalahandi Uprising

Kalahandi revolt was a direct result of economic exploitation of the Kandhs by the Koltas, a class of prosperous agriculturists from Western Orissa. Kandhs had been the pioneering agronomists in Kalahandi for generations, and yet, the Koltas, with financial and military backing of the kings expanded their reach. The Rajas supported the Koltas under the pretext of receiving higher rents, and the Koltas stopped at nothing to exploit the Kandhs, resulting in an agrarian revolt by the latter.

In May 1878, the Kandhs organized a meeting in Balwaspur where they decided to defend themselves against the Koltas. The British Superintendent of the State intervened to stop the Kandhs agitation. The Kandhs resolved to attack whoever came on their way. Several Koltas were killed and many more taken captives by the Kandhs in a mass agitation movement.

The British, acting on behalf of the wealthy, sent additional forces from Raipur, Ganjam and Sambalpur to suppress the Kandhs agitation. Ten Kandh leaders were hanged. Although “peace” was restored, the Koltas were afraid of committing any more atrocities upon the Kandhs in the region.

Gangpur Revolt

Attacks on the tribal sovereignty in Orissa continued from both the British regime and the rulers of the princely states. In 1897, several tribal village chiefs were forcibly replaced by the royal ruling class. In Gangpur, the Raja installed the aristocratic oligarchy of Sambalpur in charge of the tribal population.

The indigenous peoples led by Madri Kalo organized a mass agitation movement against Agharia and the rich elites. The Raja sought help from the British to suppress the tribal agitation, but open revolt by the oppressed remained difficult to counter. Many poor people were captured on charges of committing dacoities, but the class/caste war in Gangpur continued without a pause. In 1938, Gangpur witnessed a serious agrarian discontent when Mundas were forced to pay higher rents. The Munda uprising led by Nirmal Munda demanding exemption from payment of land revenues to the colonialists resulted in British intervention causing the Simko firing which killed 41 tribal rebels.

Revolution Never Ends

Orissa’s indigenous never ceased their strikes against the oppressors. Countless revolts – varying in scale – resulted from the organized dissent. This is the nature of struggle that the poorest section of Orissa have engaged in since centuries. It is unlikely that they shall abandon their freedom movement now, simply because the seat of power has been transferred from the white-skinned elites to the brown-skinned ones.

And just as the indigenous organizers were correct in their assessment of human values in the past, it is more likely that keeping in view the status quo of power dynamics in independent India, their dissent towards the power this time around, too, is indicative of appropriate impatience towards prevailing rampant social injustice.