Oscar Awards: White Elephant in the Room

Its not about Viola Davis not winning the Oscar. What’s murkier is the psychoanalytic dependency of Academy elites on their colonial legacies: The Queen, the King and now the utterly despicable Thatcher! The rejection of “The Help” actually offers a timely insight: choosing between the white guilt and the white pride has not been very difficult; beckoning to the colonial era has been easier than reevaluating racist legacies.

However, this is not the most crucial issue. The overwhelmingly positive obsession of the world with the Oscars is. Here is an award ceremony that is inherently Eurocentric and its recognitions have traditionally been conferred upon mainstream movies upholding the status quo. Academy selectors foster visibilities of selective agendas and validate their approvals. They establish norms of achievements and standards of successes. They throttle thematic diversities and control creative boundaries. They celebrate commercial triumphs and hand out golden statues. They convert a quintessentially free form of artistic climate into a corporatized “industry” of thriving multimillionaires.

All this while treating the Euro-American initiatives as comprising main categories while relegating the rest of the world to fight for a “foreign” tag. Like the elite clubs of the ‘good ol’ days’, not only are the nominations complicated and compromised from the start, even the purposes of these awards serve in sustaining the racist world order. Almost as though Oscars is the last thread of the bygone racist era, and yet one which refuses to wither away, affirmed and hailed as it is in the garb of arts and aesthetics.

Art is the holy cow bastion, artists the beautifully neutral people, the entertainers being those that apparently abhor politics. And every now and then, insanely wealthy filmmakers go over on the Academy awards stages to read out speeches decrying politics of all sorts, and to state their distaste towards everything political. In a politically neutral environment, the objectivity and truth-seeking triumphs mark careers of the old rich men who sit down to judge the standards that shall define filmmaking from there on.

Not that diversity is absent. In fact tokenism helps sustaining any status quo further by enhancing its acceptability. In recent memories, when “Slumdog Millionaire” was awarded in the main category, it was considered to be a recognition of Indian cinema. Except, it was not produced in the Mumbai film industry. It was a British film throughout that allowed for certain Indian artists to get the much deserved approvals they had been craving for.

That aside, diversity is, if anything, a sad thing. It is what Malcolm X derided at for the correct reasons. Getting mentioned alongside the owner does not alter the ownership. So when “Crash” won the best picture award, it was the victory of the postmodern, a call to ignore historically conflicting ideologies, and a blanket humanity crisis statement. The minorities were as much racists, a bottom line the movie surmised and impressed the Academy with. Much like the racism in the Third World: the Indians and the Pakistanis are the dogs who deserve their slums until they endorse the only Civilization that decides cultural merits. Worse, until they realize they were better off during the golden era of colonialism and race supremacism. Just look at the poor now – say the colonialism’s apologists – not with scoff, but with pity and concern.

Oscar’s humanitarian, charitable attempts at diversity are not aimed to deconstruct, but to reconstitute. Not to demolish the Academy’s old world order which kept Paul Jarrico or Dalton Trumbo from receiving credits and Paul Robeson blacklisted. But to repackage itself for the new manufactured audience, a global consumerist audience, an audience whose thoughts are systematically being reshaped through textbook lies and news channel agendas and projected lifestyle priorities.

Spiritual, humanitarian, and charitable as they are, they even are politically correct: they abhor institutionalized religions and oppose any forms of censorship. Free speech is what they preach and so they must show solidarity with the champion of their brand of free speech: Sacha Baron Cohen. Lets caricature the usual suspects, Prophet Mohammad, the Catholic Pope – but, and, while at it, let’s mock Gaddafi and Kim-Jong Il as well! There, we were not fostering Islamophobia or Anticommunism. This is just free speech in a free country. Those evil dictators deserve a lesson in free speech. And Academy is all about freedom!

The freedom that has been bestowed upon the earth by the British monarchy through its generous, hardworking messengers of trade, military and governance. The Nirad Chaudhuris and the Uncle Toms, the Manmohan Singhs who express gratitude to the Queen for teaching uncouth Indians a lesson in English. The freedom of the Queens and the Kings of Britain and most of Europe to define democratic values for the African and Asian savages. The freedom to loot and drain resources and to leave the colonies ravaged beyond repair, not just materially, but also at subconscious levels so much so that even a drug peddling white tourist in India gets a standing ovation from a brown skinned educated police officer if he/she dared to be obstructed. Or worse, the Bollywood or the television anchors competing for whiter skins among the natives. And thanks to the Oscar recognition of Indians within India-inflicted poverty and providing quick fixes – for enabling the wretched and perpetually hapless miserable slumdogs to become more intelligent dreamers – of one day ending up as fulfilling and happy millionaires, based solely on individual merits and destinies.

The freedom that Margaret Thatcher ensured during her time, the creation of a widespread perception of what a (white) woman is capable of doing: ruling over the most powerful abusive men, and ruling exactly like them. For having the wisdom of recognizing Nelson Mandela as a filthy terrorist and Apartheid as a noble endeavor to acknowledge the black South Africans as at least half humans. The freedom that she brought about to the humanity along with her buddy Ronald Reagan by enabling anticommunist ploys to materialize. Not to mention, the freedom to bomb Libya on charges of alleged misdemeanors of the Gaddafi types who dared raise voices against the master race.

“The Help” not winning the Oscar is not the issue. That movie is not a celebration of organized black resistance anyway. In fact, it would not have been surprising had it actually won such an award at the first place. But the continued acceptance of thematic underpinnings of Academy honors that are reflecting an sustained adherence to Euro-American global, colonial, and racial hegemony is the issue that needs addressing. Considering the unequivocal acceptance of Oscars as the highest talent declarations world over, the need to unthink eurocentrism is rather urgent.

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Roman Polanski and Euro-American Privileges

By Saswat Pattanayak

It’s a deceitful media circulation which suggests that the American judiciary is going after Roman Polanski. The truth is it never has. Polanski is a filthy criminal who had raped a child and yet was allowed to let go by the American justice system for over three decades. And this time, he is merely a bone which Switzerland threw at the United States over its UBS catastrophe. As for Polanski, who has visited Zurich several times and never been arrested before, its going to be few wordplays around extradition treaties that will ensure his freedom while, corporate media, hollywood biggies, and opportunist feminists rally in his support.

Roman Polanski is not merely mentally sick, physically brutal, and powerfully abusive, but he is also a rapist of a minor without a sense of repentance. Had he any iota of regrets, he would have surrendered to the legal system on his own, not continued to evade arrests, and make movies, no matter how many awards they win. It is in the content of character, not in the counts of awards, that a person is to be judged. His affairs with his leading ladies should not have bothered us, but his brutal rape of a minor is not an act worthy of kind reviews, let alone of a solidarity march.

But precisely, drawing from his old boys networks, from the euro-centric privileges, from the elite film industries, from the corporate media friends, and from the liberal feminists, Polanski has succeeded in generating unprecedented solidarity today. His support base glorious and powerful beyond any recent recollections. And in it, lies the greatest irony of our times: the justice system in capitalistic societies.
Each country’s administration that let Polanski work on its land is guilty of abetting this criminal. Mainstream media’s claim that European countries are harboring him while American judicial system is seeking him is utterly misleading. Polanski was to be sentenced not only for rape of a minor, but also on charges of sodomy with drugs. During the 70’s when police dogs were being unleashed upon innocent black workers on the streets, when educated youths were being mercilessly shot at for their demands for racial equality, and poor people were being arrested for jaywalking in rich neighborhoods, Polanski was allowed to go shoot in foreign lands even after he pleaded guilty to the rape charges (in order to avoid harsher sentences associated with sodomy with drugs, he just preferred being sentenced as a rapist and as an European-American, get a bail for the rest of his celebrity life).

For more than three decades (32 years, to be precise), this man was not arrested by the American judiciary. He did not even have to abscond, or flee, as the media reports suggest. He remained in public limelight, continued making movies in Britain, France and Poland. The Oscar jury even shamelessly awarded him with the highest prizes. He could easily have been arrested within three weeks of his departure from the United States. Three decades made him mere immortal.

Disproportionately high number of poor people in America are imprisoned for crimes that are not remotely as heinous as Polanski’s. There is scarcely any demand for their unconditional release. And yet, the American elites have all the hearts for this scum of a man – a filmmaker powerful enough to evade law for such long periods. The man who could not have the courage to surrender before due processes of law, but always had the audacity to attend award ceremonies. Now that he is finally being held in Zurich, all kinds of extradition laws are being reviewed to have him released. What is even more interesting are his lawyers’ claims to their Zurich counterparts that they have evidence to suggest the California police were not very keen on his arrest. Following that, the efficient police department of Los Angeles immediately responds by saying they have been looking for Polanski for over thirty years now, and his arrest has nothing to do with diplomatic faux pas over UBS scandal!

How would have been an ordinary man treated while in position of Polanski is an easy guess. California court would not have taken so long to find a rapist, especially one who is visibly present everywhere, giving out interviews, and receiving awards. In place of an European like Polanski, what would have happened to an African-American celebrity had he been convicted of raping a minor, not to talk of drug possession charges accompanying it. It is worth noting that Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges by the court, and yet he was damned as a pedophile by the media even after his death. No Hollywood elites signed petitions to attack the press or to convince President Obama that Jackson was a true American hero who deserved a tribute. But here is a man already confessed to have raped a child after drugging her and the media are all quoting his famous friends about his deeply troubled personal life!

Not just United States, even United Kingdom could have taken an action on Polanski. It could have easily handed over the criminal to California. But that did not take place. And the French, the self-proclaimed civilized, those that taught the Algerians how to behave as decent law-abiding citizens, of course preferred to twist their own laws when it came to treat a self-confessed rapist. French judicial system, instead of imprisoning a convicted and at-large criminal, decided to play word games of extradition treaties and harbored a pedophile rapist into emerging as a filmmaker of some repute. Not just that, this abominable piece of trash was even heralded as the pride of France, as one of the greatest of its sons! How does a rapist cease becoming one after crossing geographical borders is beyond amazement of human intellect of this century.

The Hollywood, the corporate media as well as renowned feminists have all come together to support Polanski and to demand his immediate release. Such hollow and reactionary are our current progressive movements that the world of films – that imaginative, creative society of free thinking professionals, has lost every sense of self-respect in their unquestioned support lent to a child predator.

Whoopi Goldberg claims she “does not believe, it was a rape-rape”. In her feminist sit-com show, “The View”, she thinks, “he’s sorry. I think he knows it was wrong. I don’t think he’s a danger to society.” Instead of using the opportunity to appeal to women of Hollywood and television industry to come out about the sexual exploitations women have continuously faced in film societies, resulting in phrases such as “casting couch”, and worse, rapes and humiliations by the veteran directors, producers and actors, Ms Goldberg decided to defend a child rapist and assumed he must be feeling sorry!

Debra Winger is also feeling sorry, apparently because according to her, the whole art world is going to suffer in the arrest of Polanski! Even as she knows, Polanski might at the most get a probation, or in the least likelihood, the highest of 16 months in prison. Which world will suffer for one year detention of a convicted rapist can only be left to Winger’s imagination.

Now comes, Peg Yorkin, the renowned feminist and chair of Feminist Majority Foundation, which she co-founded with Eleanor Smeal. Yorkin not only does clearly absolve Polanski, she even reverses the foundations of progressive feminism with her statements to LA Times: “My personal thoughts are let the guy go. It’s bad a person was raped. But that was so many years ago. The guy has been through so much in his life. It’s crazy to arrest him now. Let it go. The government could spend its money on other things.”
Its sad, but a true reflection of comfortable feminists throwing around millions of dollars in charitable causes meant to address issues concerning women, but in reality, sympathize with the perpetrator as a victim. Yorkin parrots, what the mainstream media does: Polanski has been through a lot in his personal life. But they do not ponder over for a bit as to how does that anyway relate to the specific criminal act? When no one objected to his winning awards despite his personal life, why would the law not apply to Polanski because of it? The logic of Yorkin, Winger and Goldberg, our contemporary women champions of feminism are victimized by the same sexist structural overarching they are trying to contest.

Not to mention of the powerful males in Hollywood who are busy drafting petitions in support of the rapist claiming that “filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision.” Someone needs to tell them that France is already in Europe, so that mention is redundant, and secondly, “around the world” has no empirical basis. The whole world is not as perverted and manipulative as these signatories: Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Mike Nichols, Woody Allen, Neil Jordan, Harvey Weinstein, Pedro Almodóvar and Ethan Coen.

The final defense is in the assumption that raping of minors was commonplace in those days and Polanski being a man of his times, his arrest is an unfortunate exception. Such arguments lack validity since in those days, so many black men were being routinely arrested on entirely false charges of rapes. It is true that Hollywood was perhaps the place for the Anglo-American playboys. Woody Allen immediately comes to mind – a privileged liberal who exploited his adopted children and married his stepdaughter, without his image being tarnished in any manner.

What is more distressing is that this trend of relegating the invisibly exploited women by the powerful filmmakers of Hollywood to irrelevance continues to this day. The fact that over a hundred legendary filmmakers come together to suppress the significance of combating sexual exploitation in the world’s wealthiest film industries, speaks of their own contributions in silencing the victims to this day. Be their films be declared hollow, their messages sexist, and their positions unworthy.

Capitalism: A Democrat’s Love Story

By Saswat Pattanayak

Written for publication in VoxUnion

Capitalism: A Love Story, is just that.

As occurs in most love stories, there are depictions of mismatched expectations, conflicting situations, remorse and grief, cherished moments, rejoiced nostalgia, idealistic aspirations, and eventually a unilateral resolve to call it quits. Michael Moore’s disillusionment with capitalism is manifested in the current liberal crisis: a crisis that discovers resolve in invoking the founding fathers and preaching moral ethics, a crisis that must indulge in taxonomy of political correctness.

Wistful Days of Yore: Most liberal commentators are currently obsessed with the ‘good old days’ before Ronald Reagan spoilt it all. Michael Moore’s film parrots this narrative rather pronouncedly in the film. According to Moore, in the good old days, students were not dependent on loans and wealth flowed into economy from all quarters, and “we even sent a man to the moon”. A system was working until it was failed and hence, the liberal remorse. The truth, however, is that the American political-economic system has never worked for the majority of people, in its entire history. The happy images of the yore which the film so poignantly projects as exemplification of successful economy were at their best, racist, discriminatory and exclusionary. American infrastructure were built not with free spirits of democracy, but with susceptibly invisible slave labor. Its a myth that there ever was a system that had worked in the United States for the betterment of majority of its people, or of the world. The film perpetuates it through appeal to look kindly at the Fordist era.

Not only the industrial period following the Second World War, Moore has selectively quoted from the original American Constitution and the “Second Bill of Rights” as suggested by FDR to appeal to the humanistic roots of American hegemony. Liberal espousal of such brilliant documents, however, are soaked in sheer idealism than any planning around radical restructuring. Neither the makers of such documents had any designs to implement equal access to outcomes of such resolutions, going by the exclusion of oppressed minorities in affairs of the nation, nor were there any attempts to limit the access of the privileged in controlling of economic power. Even to this day, if the Universal Health Care, far from being a fundamental right, has not even been implemented at legislative level, it is because of a refusal on part of the powers to curtail the existing exuberance of the rich class. Mere declarations for “general welfare” (Constitution) or right for “decent home” (Second Bill of Rights) are wishful, and hence by virtue of that, reactionary.

The “Golden Days” of the past never had any scope to limit the free market, and the present days have no control. Moore avoids deliberating on the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment which proclaims that private property cannot be taken by the state for public use. Nor does he quote the Second Bill of Rights where FDR also suggests that every businessman – small, and large, is free to trade in an atmosphere of freedom.
Capitalism versus Democracy: The film’s main argument is that Capitalism is different from Democracy. Indeed, Moore says the other -ism is not Communism, but Democracy. Moore’s reliance on the glories of American proclamation of democracy enshrined in the Constitution has guided him to such idealistic and misleading conclusions. The truth is American democracy has worked just the way it was designed to work from the very beginning. In fact, American democracy has only improved over the years. Women suffrage was not part of what the Founding Fathers had decided upon. By their documents, even the people of color were not going to be active participants in the electoral processes. No matter how many times we quote the Constitution’s exalted words, they were not designed for all. And yet, the document was a result of democratic standards to which Moore looks upto. Likewise, every subsequent amendments have been democratically implemented and have only resulted in sustenance of the status quo. America has been the citadel of democracy, an exemplary nation that has resulted in election of President Obama through sheer voting power. To deny the democratic nature of American politics is to redefine political democracy.

Moore could have chosen to redefine political democracy, because in reality, democracy thus far has only been a constant ally of the capitalists. Election of President Obama is not the liberation of African-Americans from centuries of discrimination; it is yet another victory for the private bankers and militarist forces that profit from economic recession and wars on Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq. Through system of electoral voting, financial manipulations have invariably always taken over the propaganda mill and influenced political processes in most western countries. Capitalism is the political-economic system that demands democratic consensus for its prosperity. Moore does not need to be a Marxist to understand this. A critical perusal of societal bases of economic relationships should suffice. Even President Obama’s democratic mandate was materialized through capitalistic alliances. Capitalism is not opposed to democracy. Indeed, it requires democracy so as to be able to fund, and benefit from, it. A breakaway from feudal past was necessary for the prospective capitalists, and envisioning a proletarian dictatorship through communism would seem nightmarish. The safest bet for the proverbial Wall Street magnets is sustenance of multi-party democracy. Moore surely is acutely aware of it. Roger and Me was an outstanding exposition of status quo elements. But with passing years, and as a Democratic Party fanboy, he is now clouded with misplaced optimisms.

Desperate attempts to separate capitalism from democracy have gone nowhere in the film, because in real life, they are inseparable. Be it Italy, or India, Germany or England, America or Philippines – political democracy is a major hoax of our times – an euphemism for plutocracy. Money buys votes, and democracy is the best system money can buy. Obama was aware of it during his fund-raising campaign which resulted in highest amount of revenue collection in electoral history. In so many ways, it is impossible to differentiate between Reagan and Clinton or Bush and Obama. Because there are no fundamental differences. Each of their democratic triumphs are thanks to capitalistic lobbyists.

Holy Books and Capitalism: So who are the anti-capitalists? Not the communists, Moore declares. They are the anti-communists! The Church! Moore’s childhood love for the Catholic nuns (an exceptional child he must have been) and dreams of becoming a priest himself, and in the typically liberal fashion of distancing oneself from Communism, Moore turns to the Fathers. He quotes the holy books to suggest how the Bible must have been anti-capitalistic in content. The Christian God himself is for the poor and the oppressed. Certainly the atheists must be the capitalists.

Moore misleads not just in his attempts to posit democracy as contradictory to capitalism, but also introduces Christianity as the friend of the oppressed. Not surprising, considering the current liberal fascination of alluring the mainstream and giving them a sense of unity under the America as envisaged by the new president – a race-neutral country of the one-God. Moore goes so far as to interview three Christian priests, and to quote from the scriptures – all appears honky-dory, and everything Christianity is about divine love for the poor and the oppressed. The anti-Capitalists are the Catholics. Such vulgarly twisted interpretations of a religion that singularly led to emergence of capitalism’s assaultive powers speaks of the acute vacuum that exists in current liberal thoughts. Or, quite simply, the dissent camps of the Democrats have merely been converted to becoming apologists for Obama administration. A film such as this clearly absolves Obama of the charges of being a socialist, a “Muslim”, and a likely shareholder of the economic mess.

Hail Obama: Moore, to the cheer of his traditional devotees (myself, included) bashes Reagan and Bush for their dastardly lies about economic state of the nation. But I shall find myself outside of his sycophantic zone in hailing Obama as the man on a mission to correct the ills brought upon by corporate greed. It is not only factually inaccurate to suggest that President Obama has done anything thus far to punish Wall Street mongers, but it is also absolutely ridiculous to overlook the amount of damages the new presidency has caused since its acquisition of power. The fact is President Obama’s election campaign depended on Wall Street mercies and he must remain obliged to their interests. And by all admission, he has. The biggest corporate bailouts in American history were not declared by Bush. They have been authored by Obama. The largest acquittals of financial criminals were not conducted by Reagan administration. They are being done right now by Obama administration. Moore does not offer the slightest hint of how manipulatively the current administration is functioning. The reality is not the failure of capitalism. It is the success of capitalistic democracy. The anti-thesis of Moore’s assumptions.

The film clearly serves as a propaganda medium for Obama administration. But I shall not blame Moore for this myopic project completion. His is reflective of larger liberal opinions. The opinions which have suddenly fizzled out in thin air when it comes to anti-war movements. There is no Cindy Sheehan in this Michael Moore film. A critique of capitalism without mention of the military-industrial complex? Sure, because now, the liberals benefit from the wars. The restless anger and frustration characteristic of Moore has been replaced with Christian values of selective amnesia. Class wars are not done through comic orchestrations. “Hey, tell the CEO that I am Michael Moore and I am here to make a citizen’s arrest” spanks of both celebrity arrogance as well as a self-proclaimed sense of being a savior. Much as his boss Obama, Moore is on a trip: “Are you with me? Let’s go change the world” rhetoric is so seeped in liberal privileges that the commands become invisible to the protagonists.

Democratic Party has killed the anti-war movement in the United States. First by organizing few demonstrations to change the color of the cola in the election war, and then by withdrawing the funds to continue the movement, the party has done bigger damages to kill the spirits of the peaceniks than the Republicans could ever imagine. Progressive filmmakers like Moore no more link war with capitalism as long as Democrats are in power. Is it not a fact that the economic recession could have been better handled had the administration curtailed the enormous defense budgets? With President Obama pushing for more wars against more nations through recruitment of more armed forces than even before, the conservatives are not complaining, and the liberals have their feet in their mouth. This is the first major documentary made by Moore that does not deal with economics of war. He has no one to blame but himself. His constant hope that Obama would somehow stop the wars has been shattered. But he is in denial.

Just as Moore is in denial when it comes to Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. He constantly showcases them as the villains of Bush era. But entirely skips to mention that they were hand-picked by President Obama as well. So why are they serving in Washington? Moore says Obama has selected them because they know the rules of the game. It is smart in selecting the Mafia to control the drug dealings. And what leads Moore to believe that Summers and Geithner will listen to Obama more than they listened to Bush? Unless, of course they are closer to the former. Either way, these are dangerous people – policy makers and capitalists on behalf of the militarists. They are the gifts of the political democracy. Just as Goldman Sachs is. Or Secretary Paulson, the former chief of Goldman Sachs was. If Obama is the hope for the democracy, Goldman Sachs – his million dollar sponsor – must be the protector of democracy. Moore, like Obama, denies that capitalism is inseparable from political democracy. Like the politically savvy liberals, both of them claim a distance from the dirty mud while embracing the rejoicing pig.

Upon election of Obama, Moore declares it is a “Farewell to Old America” in his film. He cites a bread factory cooperative and a Bank of America employees protest as examples of rejuvenated country that is witnessing revolutions against corporate takeover. This is exactly the kind of myth which the current administration wants to spread in its attempts to strengthen base among its loyalists. Moore has unknowingly or knowingly fallen in that pit. Anti-corporate sloganeering are among the easiest of protests. Politicians love it when the public turns its ire against the corporates, and business houses do not mind much of the assault so long as the politicians honor their contracts. Both the sectors remain so cozy in their actual functioning as partners in crimes because by turning the public ire against the “corporate greed”, they ensure that the enemy will always be a faceless, unknown bunch of people whose progress are neither supposed to be monitored by the public nor are even noticed from close quarters.

Therefore when a few dozens of Bank of America employees express their anger at the company, President Obama declares his support for them and win huge approvals. And needless to predict, the bank then hands over few thousand dollars to the employees and the movement fizzles out. The protestors think they have won the battle, whereas in reality, the political party in power gains strength, makes greater friends with the company, and the company bosses find reciprocation from Washington. So when Ken Lewis masterplans takeover of Merrill Lynch at $50 billion, or contributes to fraudulent misappropriation of taxpayers’ money worth $700 billion, eyebrows are raised, but actions are not taken against him. In fact, the public anger is still against the “corporates”, but the closures are hardly in sight. The biggest vultures, like Citigroup and Bank of America continue to flourish when it comes to their board member salaries with public money. In fact, Citigroup has liabilities of $1.797 trillion! And yet, these company heads, instead of being imprisoned for fraudulent practices, predatory lending, and mismanagement of working class money, are rewarded by the administration in Washington DC without any clause for future auditing of their subsequent spendings.

Political democracy has always needed capitalistic economics. They swim and sink together. The odd examples of cooperatives that Moore provides are not only exceptions, but they are romanticized exceptions. Cooperatives, unless made universal and owned by the states themselves make no sense, and are merely to suffer from the maladies of health insurance status in the United States. The private enterprises through their carrot dangling tactics will continue to attract a select few and the rest will be subjected to their own fates. Mixed economy, like the “middle class”, is a misnomer. There are only haves, and the have-nots. A credit society is not a prosperous society. America is a prime example of a failed economy because of capitalism. And capitalism survives through the political system it has helped create. Contrary to Moore’s assumptions, capitalism did not start with Reagan. It started with the Constitution of political democracy where the voting is counted, candidates are selected, the public is normalized into believing that the system which opts for “change” as opposed to “replacement” is the system that works.

Handing over $6000 worth of checks to few employees at a bank is not called advent of revolution. Temporary pacification of agitated mass through token money and soothing words of religious priests are actually murders of revolution.

Brother Gil Scott Heron has appropriately described what is a revolution:

“NBC will not be able to predict the winner at 8:32 or report from 29 districts…There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose…The revolution will be no re-run brothers; The revolution will be live.”

Michael Moore has distorted the idea of revolution. Revolutions indeed, cannot be predicted through mainstream movies commercially distributed nationwide. Or through the collaboration of the Catholic Church. Certainly not spearheaded by the likes of Obama and his fundraiser Goldman Sachs. As always, the conservative critics have raised wrong questions. The question that is being asked today is why Michael Moore resents capitalism so much if he makes so much money. And Moore continues to be defensive about it by citing instances of how the privileged can make a difference. By that standard, Warren Buffet and George Soros and Bill Gates are all necessary elements for a better world. In reality, these are the scums of the earth, and the parasites that grow with their charities. Moore does not need to defend any of these guys, nor does he need to answer why he is collaborating with Sony Pictures for his films or Warner Books for his books.

Moore may also look at another critique of capitalism, and he might just discover then that individual consciousness is shaped by the political economic system, and not the other way around. Revolutions are not conducted by one man with a controversial name and an amplifier, nor are they done by a group of people crying in joy at being pacified by a populist president throwing around resounding words. Revolutions are not supported by multi-party voting systems founded by oligarchies, sustained by nationalists, funded by feudalists and flavored by capitalists. Moore’s intents at attacking capitalism is much appreciated, and most timely for him to win few more awards from the European jury. But his tools of deconstructing capitalism as necessarily antithetical to political democracy, his analysis of class relations from the standpoint of Bill of Rights, his reliance on Germany, England and Japan as model democracies, and his aspirations to offer the political democracy as a solution to the global economic crisis, instead of isolating it as one of the root causes are worth inspections all over again. Liberals will do well in expressing solidarity with international movements against capitalism based on their class status and class alliances. In their reaffirmed belief in overthrowing of existing structures of power in a sense that there will be no president that will be heralded by his race, nor be surrounded by the old treasury criminals as his advisers.

A political democracy that allows everyone a vote without first ensuring that everyone has equal access to the potential of the exercised power, is a sham. Its a political system that was a stark failure when the Greeks first implemented it for only the elites. Its a system that was a failure when the European landowners implemented while excluding the slaves and the women. Its a system that continues to be a failure when India as the world’s largest democracy goes to polls with people illiterate and hungry. Its a system that remains a failure in America where the candidate that is fielded is the one who must raise most funds by collaborating with the corporate houses. Western democracy has been an abject failure, more so because it gets away with ‘masks of consent’ rather than facing revolutionary forces of workers in solidarity. Such phony democracy is a system that has become the norm, a standard against which other systems are evaluated, a self-sustained yardstick that has no place for upheavals and certainly, no scopes to imagine revolutions. Such unsurpassed strength of an immoral political system is possible only through the massive presence of its base: Capitalism. It is inconceivable for the modern democracy to exist without capitalism. The sooner the masses realize it, the sooner they will find their paths of liberation. They will not wait for another four years. Nor for the next charitable rich for their strikes to be called off.

Revolutions are expressions of collective human emotions. Not their suppressions. Moore’s comic attempts to capture the essence of our times are certainly worthwhile, but their attempts to define revolutionary ethos are not. The Moore I knew from Roger and Me is a much evolved man now. He is not so much opposed to the types of the Pat Boones during economic crisis. Rather, he is way more subtle, more religious and less angry a man now. And so is his new film. Without a distinctive revolutionary tone, which we had all so grown to expect from an unquestionably remarkable filmmaker like him.

‘Crash’ Course from Kenneth Eng: Racism defines America

AsianWeek controversy has been quite an upset. For one, it claims to be the voice of the Asian Americans, and then goes on to publish an article written by a racist bigot who has absolutely no knowledge of his own history, and then the paper goes on to apologize while refusing to single out editors.

If only Kenneth Eng would have been the problem of it, the problem would have been solved by now, considering that he has been fired and even his article has been withdrawn from the AsianWeek website. On the contrary, bloggers are highlighting how immensely published is Eng and how his arguments might have some merit or how disgusted they are at this character. Now we have his photographs appearing on several sites and discussions on his student days in a New York film school. For someone who loves limelight (and any PR charmer can tell you any publicity is good publicity), Eng is having a field day. Amidst all this diplomatic efforts to showcase how not-so-racists we are in comparison to Kenneth Eng, the question must be redirected at the holier of the factions.

The truth of the matter is Kenneth Eng is a product of our system, not a creator of it. Just as Michael Richards was. Has Richards’ apologies helped any bit more than would Eng’s? Or did Mel Gibson really lose out all that deal after his apologies? Such politics of apologies are aimed at individual ‘atonement’s, not at social remedies.

Eng/Gibson/Kramer are trying to say something. And so also those who bear with these bunch. And again those of us readers who comment at the end of the blog entries reinforcing their myopic views. Now, deleting their comments and their articles and apologizing for the same is not the solution. Far from it, such responses are what I would say constitute the “Crash” actions. Remember that movie which won Oscar last year and promised everything was fine on the racial front and that Dubois was inherently wrong.

No, Dubois was not wrong. In fact he is more relevant today than ever before. America, the metamorphosed country of illusions lulling its “diverse” people to sound amnesia by preaching “equality and liberty” is condemned to grapple with its color-lines. Any amount of diplomatic legerdemain by community “leaders” and public figures, college professors and filmmakers cannot hide this reality. The problem of 21st century America is the problem of Capitalism that thrives on inequalities based on several of its social locations. How else does one justify the continued consolidation of most wealth and power in the hands of a few white men in this country? How does one justify the saga of discriminations against people of color in the workplace? How does one justify the annual raise of bonuses to the tune of two hundred percent for the owning class while the workers beg for a five percent up?

Individualism leading to Community-ism
In hostile situations of cut throat capitalistic competitions, everyone is up for the battle of interests. In place of individual rights that this country so proudly enshrined in its constitution that merely focussed on the wealthy and powerful (only the truly free enjoyed the rights, not those they enslaved), the group rights started forming impressions following several reformist movements last century.

Group reformist movements, just like the individual rights movements, engage in competing to garner support from those from whom the rights flow. The ruling classes who devise and define individual rights to their interests (for example it is alright to be a Christian, but not alright to be a Communist; its your right to have family, but not to have it if you are not heterosexual) also describe the scope of group rights. However just as illusive are individual rights, so are the group rights, in a capitalistic setup where the romance of rights are not inherent, but gifted.

To preserve the gifts (‘scope of rights’ that come with charity, although rights themselves may have been fought for, within limits set by the capitalists), groups often tend to resort to squabble, mud-slings and outright racism. People like Kenneth Eng are products of such society divided into groups competing to attract favors from charity masters. Even as the Engs hate racism targeted against them, they rarely stop to find out the true reasons behind the same.

Its utter ignorance of some people about their own history that leads to culmination and growth of racism in our world. Are young students like Kenneth Eng taught in their school about the role of black people in shaping the free America? Are young black students taught about the systematic biases that continue circulating against Asian-Americans in mainstream entertainment industry? Are young south asian students told of the role of black Muslims in enlightening the conscience of this country when it was deep asleep in evil contentment? Are young white students taught of the role of Latino working class in wealth creation of the superpower at the cost of their own exploitation over debates surrounding minimum wage? Are the minority students taught about how majority of white workers indeed are at receiving end of en exploitative economic system?

Need of the hour:
What needs to be done at this juncture is not for black commentators attacking Asian press or South Asian commentators condemning Kenneth Eng. For all we know, Eng could well become a celebrity in a few months. The root cause of racism is not one bigoted mind. Its capitalism that we largely let go unchecked for in its practice. We must address the manner in which private capital creation safeguards specific group interests rather than working for the betterment of the world. The racial tensions in the US are economic in nature. There is no place for moral preachings here. No place for Crash finale!

Lets admit and accept that as long as we refrain from critiquing the capitalist causes (private monopolies) we will have to accept racism as part and parcel of the deal. Till now, people other than white are being called in their suffixes. American history is differently noted than African-American history! How will we expect Engs of the world to even feel grateful for immense sufferings of generations of black people that must be acknowledged at every mention of America even as an idea? How will we expect white people to understand that Columbus was not after all some hero and that this land was indeed “made for you and me”, and not just for the English speaking elites. Such expectations will bear fruit only if people are treated equally irrespective of race in this country and elsewhere. However that would mean perhaps to quote Paul Robeson, “adopting the nature and politics of Soviet Union where people are treated as people, not as black or white”. Even adopting one-tenth of former Soviet policies would entail the reversal of centuries-old capital accumulation policies that are in place in a flourishing capitalism. As long as a society is built on bedrock of money as the only thing that matters–to buy health insurance to higher education–people will always be treated as secondary subjects. And where people need to be treated as secondary subjects, to refrain those very people from fomenting a revolution against their secondary status, it becomes imperative for the capital masters to wage a divide and rule policy that keeps people ignorant about their collective struggles in everyday lives. While at it, the economic system goes unchecked in its biases against working class by deliberately playing one group against another when it comes to economic parity, share holding and accountability. No wonder, thousands of discrimination cases at the workplace are filed every week based on racial disparities.

We need to shed our racialisms and embrace the collective history of struggles of working class people of this country and the world against their class antagonists in our everyday observations. Careful and conscious efforts must be made towards deconstructing problems such as Eng’s while observing the need for such racism not to take place again.

One thing is to condemn racism, which is all good, but entirely useless. Since we know no one can feel unscathed from racist attacks under capitalism which bases itself on human inequality, today’s condemned group will become the condemner tomorrow. The other thing is to actually ensure that we do not produce a new generation of racists in our own households. There would be no end to this Ghettopoly-Tsunami saga, if we did not really address the issues critically. That some Blacks despise some Asians, some Asians despise some Blacks, and some Whites despise some immigrants and vice versa is a well known fact. How many Indian families actually encourage their doting daughters to make friends with Blacks and Muslims? How many of us actually stop thinking about people beyond their colors the moment we fail to receive our due share? How long will the “good” people refuse to acknowledge that? How long we will keep condemning Kenneth Eng?

We must make every efforts to acknowledge collective contributions to working class struggles. White people should be educated about Whiteness history that must detail not the struggle of black people alone, but also the struggle of good white people while dealing with slavery and racism. Neither slavery nor racism should be treated as subjects of the past, for both are going to remain in full function as long as there is an owning class of minority people–those that traditionally were slaveowners and who own us mentally now with their monopoly media misinformation tirades.

South Asian Journalist Association (SAJA) which is composed of really nice people some of whom I have had the opportunity to have interacted with, must make every effort to include black people on its editorial board. No issues of journalism that pertains to people of South Asian origin precludes people of other races. Likewise good Asian folks at the AsianWeek should include Latino people on their boards. The black television programs that have been accused of making fun of some Asians should include some enlightened Asians in their team. And together all of them should include some white people in their efforts to understand and strengthen collective efforts to uproot racism from this country.

Although racism, like sexism, is a byproduct of capitalism, capitalism will not vanish as long as we do not treat these diseases on a preventive manner. If we really wish to eradicate racism, and not merely talk about it, we must look beyond our own group interests and then we shall be able to address racism among our own communities in a more informed manner. Accusing the ‘other’ becomes easier when we are refusing to look outside our ‘own’ comforted walls. It is perhaps more true when we are dealing with a subject such as race–one that will not go away, but one we must deal with.

Time has come to look beyond our own races, and look for commonalities with the others in order to find the links that have been deliberately kept missing. Until then, we will be demanding an apology, not the solidarity. Because until then we are perhaps intending to let capitalism succeed at any cost in enslaving us while giving us an illusion of freedom, because we refuse to look beyond the windows to understand why some of us out in the rain will continue to suffer at the hand of the same system that can turn us against each other. For racism to go, we need to embrace human beings, not private wealth monopolists. For that to happen, we need to address issues of capitalism at its systematic level, not at its symptomatic level.

Of our racist tolerance of the Kramers..

Click on the video above to watch Michael “Kramer” Richards speak on last Friday, as the audience enjoys a hearty laugh. In fact they were so enjoying that Richards was not stoned or kicked out. He went on to get exclusive interviews on television channels, entirely unharmed. No, the interviews were not conducted in some dingy prison cells, but atop celebrity couches for CNN consumption. The great mainstream media melting pot even aired him as he went on continuing with his racist unapologetic mode: “I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this.”

What had he said at the first place that he found those objecting to him were actually the insane people?

“Shut up! “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass.”

“You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! A nigger, look, there’s a nigger!”

Politics of apology is a prerogative of the privileged. After all, the essentially underlying presumption is normalization of situation. In fact, apologies are the soothing weapons of the smooth criminals.

Michael Richards aka Kramer of the “Seinfeld” is another one in the line, following the horrible footsteps of Mel Gibson. No, I am not outraged that these celebrities became honest about how utterly inhumanely and disgustingly racists they were. But certainly outraged that these bigots are still at large in the society hogging the fancy of thousands of their young fans clearly as misguided missiles as are the Aryan sisters called “Prussian Blue”, about whom I wrote last year.

I am clearly outraged that the white supremacist society has yet not found a solution to teach itself some decent lesson in human dignity even after its long evolution as it claims, other than letting some liberal middlemen hosting quick subsequent apology shows to forgive evil intentions as some form of accidental lip-slips.

Was I hoping any better than this? Are we all hoping that the Congressmen will suddenly behave better than corrupt jerks preaching moralist pronouncements of the sexist church order? Are we hoping that the Hollywood will eventually make better movies than pathetically dumb discourse called Crash and the television stars will become any better than this sick, deafeningly sick, Michael Richards? Or that our educational institutes will finally stop bullshitting us about how World War II ended with bombing of Japan and that Ronald Reagan “apologized” a bit too late. Or that we shall be treated to some charming Oprah any better than announcing that “Dreamgirls” is the movie she loves because its made for all people irrespective of their economic class! Aha!

No, I am not expecting miracles here. For the most, the way the television culture has depraved us, a movie or a performer only remains to be graded in terms of recognition and awards. Will she win Oscars? An entirely uncritical society resting on laurels of backdoor promotional competitions to shape its yardsticks of appreciation will only be able to reflect in its churned out “talents”, its own true self.

Michael Richards is not some self-made TV star. He is not some celebrity on his own merit. He is just one of us. He is there at that stage, because we put him there to entertain us. Because most of us actually laughed like sick saddists without applying our critical minds to the television culture. Every evening, this country (and following it, most in the rest of the world) telecasts stupid comedy shows that runs late into the late night with special comedy shows, apparently by liberal by names of Stewarts and Lopezs too. There are dedicated channels and prominent companies producing “stand-up comedies” 24/7. The culture of humor in capitalistic marketplace is the most potent ingredient to normalize the otherwise actual tension that prevails in the society.

Humor as capitalistic agent of illusive consensus:

Racial tensions are not some exaggerated fictionalized accounts of hyped media reports. They are for real. In fact, in every racist country from Britain to France, they are the only things that’re real. Denial of privilege and race-blindness is the prerogative of the few elites representing the historically oppressing racial category that manufactures the divisions to distinguish humans on basis of color skin. One would have wished the Apartheid ended. One would have perhaps also imagined that the black issues were resolved following desegregation. But wishes and hopes do not make a society run.

The reality is that the racial tensions are necessary consequence of free trade capitalism. It is capitalism that’s the creator of racism through its patriarchal control of private property by means of subjugating human beings as slaves to further the profit consolidation of the masters class. In fact, for capitalism to grow and further its own interests, racism needs to be furthered too. New forms of racism will take place of old forms of racism, just as credit cards are replacing old cash circulation. But the essential implementation of divide and rule will forever remain the cornerstone for the wealth-grabbers to stay in power over those that earlier used to remain as slaves, and now as freemarket consumers. Earlier they were house slaves, today they are software slaves. Difference is in the degrees.

Likewise, earlier the subjugation of society used to take place through sheer brutal force. As the levels of sophistication increased, the territorial conquests were replaced by imperialistic expansions. And these days, via more implicitly sophisticated means such as words defined by the masters’ dictionaries as soothing: words such as liberty, democracy, family, happiness, elections, television, comedies and organic food.

So what we have is the culture of comedies in the most obnoxious of places. In the most inappropriate settings. During the most pathetic times. Never in the history of humanity, so many people of the world felt so very helpless at their inability to prevent wars of mass destructions launched by the most unqualified of people to assume leaderships. And yet during days like these, the television shows and comedy films are making the biggest of business. During a time when the entertainment industry should have been focusing on agitating the people through critical education about their role in reversing world order, we have all the world television channels owned by five old men and the film industries run by people like Tarantinos (another N-word hyperactivist). And all of them have readymade shows to make people stay relaxed. How will we know if we need to be relaxed? The celebrities tell us when is the time to relax and how to feel relaxed after undergoing body jobs. How we shall know this is the time to laugh? The background clap sequences on comedies will ask us to laugh along the scenes. Such perversity of underestimation of collective human intelligence is a compelling tale of how far have we regressed in our movements.

What to do with Michael Richards?

Nothing. Ideally he should be jailed for “fifty years with a fork up on his ass”. That’s the minimum verdict that he deserves. But that’s not even a portion of what we must all undergo if we envisage our future as active agents of humanity, and not some remote controlled passive recipients of messages and bullets.

All of us must daily observe a couple of hours introspecting about our own inactions, apathy, indifference, involvement and withdrawal from the largely racist world that has been a direct creation as a result of our collective indecisiveness. While at it, we must realize that we need to be as honest with ourselves as Richards and Gibson were with themselves, not just when we are angry, but throughout the 24 hours everyday. If overcoming the deep love for our own dominant supremacist race at the cost of degrading those we oppressed becomes too difficult, we must be prepared to die the way that abominable creature and our racist epitome called Hitler ended his life. We don’t need another television show which the neo-nazis like Michael Richards pay to apologize. We need Richards and his likes to be forced to introspect and change. And if they do not “amend”…..Well, they better amend.

I wish I could say all that I wanted to. But unlike some elite white folks in this country and their counterparts in much of Europe, I certainly do not enjoy “Hate Speech” privilege anyway. And neither do I want to enjoy any of this. Good for them.