The need for Political Correctness

Saswat Pattanayak investigates what it means to be politically incorrect in contemporary times. Is it a ploy to maintain the status quo and further the capitalist cause or is it to give a voice to the truly marginalized?
– Kindle Magazine

If the concerns over free speech are due to AIB controversies, then there is a possibility that those are perhaps not valid concerns after all. The problem with free speech is that the freedom to espouse the contents belongs to those who own the means to circulate them. The question then would be if Bollywood celebrities ever lacked their platforms to express politically incorrect statements.

Whereas political incorrectness must be allowed to be expressed without reservations, the idea that it has somehow lacked platforms in India or elsewhere in the world today could be purely hogwash. In fact, the culture industry in capitalistic societies thrives on political incorrectness – both monetarily and spiritually. Usage of sexist slangs, rape jokes, fat-shaming or skin colorism are not exceptions to Bollywood; they are the mainstay. Although what AIB has aired was deliberately orchestrated to come off as controversial, a careful inspection of its content would reveal a mere continuation of dominant on-screen norms.

An enormously fat child as a reject is not an AIB discovery – it is evident in the industry’s obsession with “six-packs”. A dark-skin being the same as illegal money in Swiss banks is not a surprise statement – even male actors like Shah Rukh Khan endorse fairness as key to their successes. Jokes on how someone “ugly” does not deserve to be dated is not a shocking revelation for the majority – as the leading actors have to inevitably exceed the standards of beauty. Alia Bhatt may not take offense to being called ignorant and silly by her male co-stars – but women across the globe are anyway proclaimed as intellectually inferior by the male academic superstars. Deepika Padukone may be used to humors that reduce her to be a “good thing that Ranveer Singh was in” – but commodification of women is among the most profiteering industries today. Parineeti Chopra may have genuinely got scared of getting metaphored into a gang rape victim that night – and yet, rape as a funny metaphor is a constant that refuses to die – from usage by stand up comedians to supreme court judges. Raghu Ram being imagined as a wife-beater, Karan Johar imagined as a casting couch enabler, Ranveer Singh imagined as the pervert photographer of an actress who in her erstwhile feminist standpoint had pleaded the country to stop humiliating her – suddenly all this is good humor now, because the industry bigwigs are expecting us to get matured. Shouldn’t we have also matured into accepting Mulayam Singh Yadav’s “boys will be boys” statement regarding rape, if it is alright to laugh at the manly Ranveer Singh getting a hard-on from pepper spray by his next conquest?

What is amiss in the mature argument is that, none of these are objectionable because they are simply politically incorrect or because a society lacks a sense of humor. They are objectionable because a bunch of elitists continue to find these funny at the expense of those who are victimized by actual acts of domestic violence, sex discriminations and standards of beauty that effectively and unjustly exclude majority of people from the mainstream culture industry. AIB is no big deal though, only because it was not a breakthrough – it was just more of the same. It was just as objectionable as was Yo Yo Honey Singh’s poetry in his “Choot” volumes; little surprise that the rapper was instantly embraced by the industry that met its match in avowedly celebrating misogyny.

Roots of Roast:

Political correctness and political incorrectness are different shades of the same spectrum. They are not rigid, fixed unchangeable notions – indeed quite the contrary. Like culture itself, they form an unending line. What used to be politically incorrect a few decades ago is perhaps politically correct today, and vice versa. It is the content, the impact, and most importantly in the Marxist sense – the beneficiaries of certain consciousness that should determine what is to be considered politically correct or politically incorrect. It is upto the artists themselves to decide their directions, and to that extent raising hue and cry over AIB is redundant at one extreme and reactionary on the other. But to surmise that AIB discourse is in a victimized state crying out to be heard by the people, lest artistic freedoms will meet untimely deaths, is a ridiculous exaggeration.

Contents aside, the form also needs to be reexamined. Roasting might be a new phenomenon to hit Indian consciousness, but so has been rap. The tragedy is we perhaps have imported the worst of both forms while showcasing them to be the best we can be, that we need to the urge to defend what went for roasting on AIB. What was on display without anyone paying tribute to the roots of it (Bollywood surprise!) has been historically called “signifying”, “joining”, “snapping” and “playing the dozens” – deeply rooted in African-American heritage. Actively participated by the enslaved to amuse and distract themselves, they have accumulated political coinage and unique underground significance over the decades among the oppressed of America. Just like the use of N-word, some of the snaps may have derogatory feel to them, but the cultural usages by the specific groups of people lend them the context that needs to be respected, especially if the media are all agog over the novelty of this art form.

Consider rapper Biz Markie’s snap: “Your mother’s hair is so nappy, she has to take painkillers to comb her hair”. Or, actor Doug E. Doug’s snap: “Your family is so poor, they go to Kentucky Fried Chicken to lick other people’s fingers.” Or, comedian Nipsey Russell’s: “Your family is so poor, the roaches have to eat out or go hungry.” Not only are these legendary acts by the blacks, they are also reflective of a need to speak to the societal realities in the most cutting-edge manner.. For one “Your father is so poor, he can’t afford to pay attention,” a brilliant joining could be, “Your family is so poor, when I asked your mother if I could use the bathroom she said, ‘Sure, pick a corner’”.

Instead of exploring the historicity of this tradition, or of the underground political hip-hop that are emancipatory for a purpose, we have now started off on a wrong foot, with a bunch of narcissistic celebrities that are misappropriating a subculture to falsely portray themselves as victims of sorts. Strictly from the standpoint of a review (considering an important film reviewer was a panelist), what AIB came up with were just gross. One “roast” that met with laughter was that of a person being so black that a white cop got away with killing him. Another one caricatured Santa Claus giving away gifts to wrong kids only when he is Muslim. Nothing to laugh about racist justice system and Islamophobia unless one is actually a victim of those and chooses to make light of the situation. Sadly, the panelists were not. Certainly not enough to cry for their freedom to be politically incorrect.

It is not the politically incorrect that are tortured in a society like India. It is the political correctness that is still looking for outlets, amidst the prevailing platitudes of glorified incorrectnesses.

Whose Freedom?

The core argument of free speech advocates that art must be allowed to exist for the sake of it – and not as a means to a certain social purpose. But is that really a concern, going by the trends? When was art not existing for the sake of it in India? Barring a few socialist filmmakers, when have the huge majority of directors and producers made anything other than art for the sake of art? Most of the blockbusters celebrate themes that sustain on the absolutely irrational, illogical and impossible. Same is true of the prevailing dominant Hindu festivities across the states, regardless of the political party in power. What is politically correct about Durga Puja celebrations in the land of the Party Line? For all its shocking disclosures, what AIB aired was hardly more than a religious rhetoric that knows quite a few things about the free flowing use of “choots” as a liberating phrase. Did they even utter a fraction of “roasting” that is done while pulling the carts of Lord Jagannath in Puri every year at Rath Yatra? Sexist slangs and rape jokes comprise mainstream religious India’s constant preoccupation – a major factor that contributes to success of Bollywood movies and to the prolonged marital success stories of decent majority Hindu households.

Majoritarian supremacist speeches are so taken for granted in everyday life that we often assume them to be struggling for representation when rarely they are even slightly choked – akin to the predicament of an upper caste student who occasionally does not get what is automatically due, because some new movements are demanding reservations in education and employment. To grasp its scope, we may just need to consider the religious cultural givens and the atmosphere permeated by them. For atheists or minorities in religious beliefs, that climate is neither conducive nor desirable. If one were to raise a child as an atheist, where would that option really be? And yet somehow that lack of possibility is not considered as a systematically stifled right to free speech and expression. Only when the religious folks are not allowed to perform a public ceremony that they have historically been doing, is there a major hue and cry about human freedom being throttled.

When was the last time objections were raised because indigenous peoples of the lands were not allowed to address to a global audience to express how the State has been exploiting them? Let alone that, we even do not let someone from among us – Priya Pillai – board a plane. It is not simply the freedom of speech that is at stake – the question that needs to be asked is, whose freedom? The Solzhenitsyns, Rands, and Nabakovs were perhaps politically incorrect, but the freedoms of those they were representing are what must guide the discourse as to which ideology is inherent in artists’ works. Are they the purveyors of an oppressive status quo, or are they the champions of the underrepresented and the despised. Standing up for the freedom of affluent kulaks, greedy individualists and child rapists are not about desirable ways to justify political incorrectness – they are indeed necessary components of feudal and capitalist societies.

Art for the sake of art is not some unfulfilled remote possibility worth a struggle – it is the status quo in our political economy. The demand to prolong it in the name of “free speech”, where freedom is a byproduct of plutocratic enterprises is a needless lamentation. Most artistic endeavors today are rewarded for gearing towards “entertainment, entertainment, entertainment”; what is perhaps needed is for the politically correct artists to emerge – the ones who according to Ritwik Ghatak have the nature to “bring forth collective feeling…to seek not only to utter the reality but also to learn the cause of it and the remedy of it.” Like Frida Kahlo and Picasso, Guthrie and Seeger, Zinn and Chomsky. Langston Hughes and Neruda. These politically correct figures rooted in struggles for social justice are the marginalized – without a need for corporations and industries to carry forward their works. Yet they are the organisers themselves who have as Robeson once stated, “taken their sides”.

Artists choose their sides through their works. Whether or not they are suppressed, by whom, and for how long – these are not the real questions. The real questions investigate what sides they have taken. Are they using a platform to end religious intolerance or to promote it? Are they using satire to condemn a misogynistic order or to encourage it? Are they glorifying individual liberty at the cost of social equality, or vice versa, in their quest for free speech? Are they refusing to articulate historical privileges of propertied class, or are they exposing the contradictions with a vision to end that culture, instead of perpetuating it in the name of good humor?

Political correctness did not evolve because artists wanted to submit to the whims of some oppressive ruling class; quite the contrary – it emerged out of a need felt by progressive artists to go beyond individualism. It emerged when the duties of an artist prevailed upon the rights. When the idealists turned realists in the face of the “proletarian culture”, which to Lenin was the “result of a natural development of the stores of knowledge which humanity has accumulated under the yoke of capitalist society, landlord society and bureaucratic society.”

Philosophical premises:

Progressive artists are rightfully disdainful of bourgeois art. Even as Robeson and Picasso were themselves victims of censorship and travel restrictions, they were vocally unsympathetic towards reactionary works. The battle of ideologies is a constant where the ruling art form and historical narratives are representative of the ruling order. That point is lost in these times, when bourgeois art is suddenly celebrated as some sort of beacon for human freedom – where liberty and equality are not seen at odds. Thereafter, at the very least, this marketplace of free speech undermines the effects of hate speech and silencing of the religious, racial and sexual minorities.

The advocates of free speech principles employ “pressure valve” argument in justifying the status quo with the assertion that casteists, religious fanatics and misogynists are just blowing off steam that is harmless. It’s a paternalistic justification that overlooks the fact that hate speech indeed harms the minorities more. For instance, rape jokes are not going to make a victim of sexual violence feel empowered because she still has access to that same pool of free speech rights.

“Same pool” argument is also used to project free speech rights as especially beneficial to the minorities – conveniently forgetting that ruling powers do not employ the same set of rules when it comes to the dissenters. For instance, Maoist sympathizers do not enjoy the same level of freedom as do the sympathizers of corporate monopolies – even if it is erroneously assumed for a moment, that both these groups have similar vested interest in exploiting the natural resources of India.

Finally, the argument that more speech is better for democracy rather than regulated speech is also seriously flawed. It is presupposed at the peril of the oppressed that “talking back” will earn them rewards, while that is rarely the realistic scenario. Nonviolent protesters are routinely lathi-charged and imprisoned by the same system that prides itself on right to free speech and expression of the powerful elites.

The censorship argument just as the artistic expressions themselves needs to be politically correct – the position must spring from the point of raised consciousness where the needs of the times – taking into consideration various locations of exploitations and associated struggles for social justice – are well understood and articulated. For the freedom to be equally distributed, the downtrodden should be able to express dissent, while the rights of privileged need to be moderated. What needs to be a matter of concern is not the occasional inconveniences faced by celebrities for being just their usual selves, but what begs an answer is a probe in the Gandhian terms – whether a civilized society passes a test in the degree of protection it affords its most marginalized.

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Michelle Obama and American Status Quo Action Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2012)

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.

Of Occupy Wall Street :: Democracy, Free Press, Police State & the American Liberty Myths

“We own half the world, oh say can you see
And the name for our profits is ‘Democracy’
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
‘Cause we’re the Cops of the World, boys
We’re the Cops of the World…”
– Comrade Phil Ochs (1940-1976)

“State Police Keeps Press Away; Arrests and Assaults Peaceful People”

This is the Democracy that brings the likes of Bush and Obama to power. The Democracy that lets Democrats and Republicans contend with each other to run the American imperialism. The Democracy which exemplifies itself as the freedom forum to force its way into rest of the world. The Democracy that thrives on individual liberty, and free press!

And, when the rest of the world opposes the mammoth contradictions and brutalities of what the Democracy comprises, the Democracy then teaches the world a lesson. Across the world, the lesson comes in the form of lingering unforgiving wars where the Democracy annihilates the humanity that disregards its proclaimed superiority.

And, nearer home, the Democracy manifests in its nakedness, in its actual being, in the status of a Police State.

American Democracy does not even have to preach its virtues. In fact, it does not need a propaganda press. It simply does away with the press. American Democracy is not answerable to anyone, except those who own it: the wealthy class and their puppets, the lawmaking agencies, executives and representatives. They do not need the lobbyists at Washington. They are the lobbyists of capitalism themselves. A monstrosity that sustains itself. A system that perpetuates injustice as though it were normal, and necessary.

When NYPD forcefully evicted all the peaceful dissenters at the Liberty Square earlier tonight, and dumped one of the the largest collections of progressive books and literature literally into trash cans, it was a true reflection of what the civilized Democracy looked like. Not only were the people who claimed to be the majority brutally teargassed, handcuffed and unjustly arrested, but even the media/press which are supposed to represent the voices of the American society were disallowed from covering the ways the events unfolded in the middle of the night. Even the airways were blocked, lest the “free press” sends a helicopter to cover the brutalities that might give the much sacrosanct and vulnerable Democracy a bad name!

Really, what is this thing called Democracy? A system where the police decides to grant credentials to the press, a system where the media are owned by a bunch of millionaires to air their collective capitalistic interests, and a system where the reporters are forbidden from covering one of the most significant news events in recent times?

What happened today was worse than any other event of state brutality ever recorded in modern history. A right to peacefully dissent is not an exclusive form of American liberty grant. It is a fundamental human right everywhere in the world. It is so fundamental that every revolution and every mass movement has depended on its actualization.

Any government, by virtue of being one, is merely a temporary entity that is duly allowed to be there at the first place by the majority of people in a given society. May it be Hitler’s Germany, or FDR’s America, or Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, or Nehru’s India, a government is always in place with the support of the majority of people. Political scientists can call a government a form of dictatorship, communism, a monarchy or a democracy. The fact remains, without at least the implicit support of the majority, no government can stay in place. People implicitly, or overtly lend support to any regime for it to continue.

And therefore, it is the people who also inevitably change the governments and replace the systems.

Each time the people protest and make the changes, the events are duly recorded and the governments take notice of the oppositions. In the ongoing war, the people’s wills are always taken note of. No matter how politically polished or uneducated they may appear to be. When the Berlin Wall collapsed, one could dispute the collective intelligence of those that rejoiced. When the fascist minded folks walked the grounds to exhibit their deep-seated racism in Nazi Germany, one could virulently attack the sanity of the people. When George Bush was reelected to power in America, one could ceaselessly apologize on behalf of the electorates. But the reality is in each successful implementation of a political framework, it is the majority people, whose will has always prevailed sooner or later. And it is no wonder then, that this will has always been recorded in the pages of contemporary world history.

Except when the Democracy is questioned.

In the Wall Street area, where the Occupy Movement first started, when the police swiftly, hideously and murderously took over the Square amidst the darkness of a long night, American Democracy did not feel alarmed. American Democracy was not allowed to be recorded by the media to be the brutal, dysfunctional and oppressive construct it actually was. And the world’s earliest Democracy, the most vigorously tested Democracy, the world’s most successful Democracy did exactly what it was supposed to. It was not the Obama government or the Bush government that failed the people’s aspirations. It is the majority of people’s will to sustain an inherently failed system of Democracy – a system where money buys the votes – that failed the peoples’ aspirations.

Occupy Wall Street had major flaws no doubt, but it would have failed its purpose had it not enlightened the people about the failed system of Democracy that it was fighting within.

Fortunately, when the movement was overpowered by the Democracy, it veritably succeeded in its mission.

In its failure to succeed, the mass movement gains its success. Such is the nature of the Democracy.

Either we accept this contradiction, or we must redefine the word Democracy.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)