Bring the War Home (Part II)

So the CNN poll says that most Americans feel no one is winning the war in Iraq. Apart from the statistical tables drawn from little more than a 1000 people who were telephoned, the CNN forgets to mention one more word in its headline: Ignorant.

Only when people are deliberately kept ignorant about the state of affairs, can they make any such claim. CNN, after perfecting the art of mediocrity and disparaging neutrality during periods of great crisis, has been able to contribute to the pool of mythmakers who lull the population. The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration is winning the war.

Because the war is not being fought in Iraq. The war is being fought right here inside the United States. It’s just that this is the war that the corporate media would not like to talk about. Just as in any other capitalist country in the world today, media in the US have decided to bury the hatchet after digging the graves.

Colors of the Wars

Why is it that we call it a war only when a western country involves itself in external aggression? Be it the so-called “World Wars”, which were nothing but capitalistic battlefields for profits, or the “Cold War”, which was nothing but hot pursuit at destroying civilizations through barbaric American interventions, or the “Gulf War”, which continues in various names the showmanship of white masculinity despite international condemnations—the war is the game that men play, and worse, the game that the dominant ruling class men play.

Is it any coincidence then that the real colors of the war are shoved to obscurity through deliberate dislocation of the locale—geographical and psychological? Since the massive acquisition of world power following the world wars that led to obscenities such as G-7 and NATO, by color, wars are now being attributed solely to irresponsibly dangerous people of color. And by locales, they are always being fought only outside the Euro-American soil!

Omissions and Psychological Warfare:

In a recent exhibition to sensitize the American public about what it feels like to be in a war-ridden territory, Doctors without Borders had organized artificial refugee camps in the heart of New York City. I was struck by a world map that welcomed the visitors who were spoon-fed distorted history of warfare by a very able NGO propagandist. The physical/political map depicted the countries that had internally displaced population in the world today. Two kinds of refugees were enumerated: those who are foreigners to the warring country, and those that are resident aliens. Much careful planning must have gone through in preparing this exhaustive map, as the small group audience gasped at the reality.

The gasps of disbelief! Photo by Saswat.

Whereas people—mostly European-Americans–were clearly disturbed at the glaring map, they were visibly comforted as well. Reason: Each and every country in the world seemed to be depicted on the map as having displaced refugees, except for the country of United States and continent of Europe! It was as though the entire world was dotted with crisis, except for these two western regions that are entirely without a problem!

The Doctors without Borders expert then went ahead to narrate her personal experience in African countries and Muslim countries. Audience roared at first with laughter at the model of toilet that ‘those people’ use. And when the narrator said that some Muslims would not use the toilet when it would be faced in the direction of their mosque, some in the audience sneered at the preposterous audacity of ‘those ungrateful people’. It was not merely shocking for me to go through the public mockery at the toilet design that I had grown up with most of my life, but even for an atheist like me, the entire lack of religious sensitivity was quite disgustingly unpalatable an experience.

…and the vacuum of indifference Photo by Saswat.

The kind French doctor then took us around more to the way camps are set up, the hardships that NGOs face while saving the lives of the war-torn people and while distributing bare minimum food supplies to cornered people. And all the while, the exercise seemed like a self-congratulatory exercise of sizeable measure. Worse, it was the victory of sorts for the actors in global psychological warfare.

Acts of genocides caused by repressions by colonialists and imperialists in Africa and Asia were suddenly dismissed by the well-meaning reformist activist circles of organizations like Doctors Without Borders as processes to stop “civil wars” brought forth by “infighting” and “tribal clashes” and “Muslim conflicts”. The international organization even went to the extent of celebrating the beautiful, noble and charitable roles that European countries were playing in rehabilitating the greedy, fanatic and needy infighters.

In fact, nowhere in the narration at any point were the people told of the role of the “safe countries” that lead to the ravages in the affected countries. No where were we reminded that the safety in the western front is only a swelling mocking silence at sheer indifference that comes with luxurious ignorance. That’s because the reformists work to depict the wretched, torn, poor in a neutral way, after remaining silent at the continuous supply of arms by the militarist yet ‘safe’ countries to the warring sides. The war against Lebanese people is a case in point. It was depicted as though Middle East is a crisis. Not us—not even if we in the first world actively remain silent when our leaders negotiate arms deals with militarist regimes that we support actively through money, germs and warfare.

Revisionist Reactionary History Retold:

What the Doctors without Borders were essentially doing was continuing the legacy to distort the reality by replacing them with lasting impressionist images that are value-laden.

First off, the reassuring idea that Western World has no refugees and no war inside the countries is a blatant white lie. The kind French doctors should only have looked at war-torn (in their language ‘rioting’) Paris. The New Yorkers should have only looked at war-torn (in their language poverty and homelessness) Bronx. And the map could have been altered and the definitions of genocides and wars could have been revisited, as also attributions of perpetrators and victims.

Secondly, the perpetrators themselves have always become the largest preachers. In the name of church, they sanctified holy wars. In the name of charity, they legitimized unholy alliances. Unable to contain the mass resentments at colonial expansionist motives to force Africa to debt trap, the Euro-American alliances have now resorted to throw rice bags at warring tribes who have been forcefully devoid enough of their lands to the extent that staying sane has become an unknown privilege for them.

Thirdly, the preachers and moralists of the first world liberalism have helped themselves in getting rid of a guilty conscience that sure would have popped up, if not for sheer inaction and lack of imagination. So, the well-meaning doctors and journalists and peaceniks get together once in a while to pat each other’s back in their hard-earned efforts to hail the British sophistry to claim civilization, to herald Europe as the well-meaning citadel of freedom and continue the Nirmala (of Missionaries of Charity fame) doctrine: Poverty is the gift of God. Then, war must indeed be a perpetuating gift to be treasured as well, that continues to spin the money, influence and moral sense.

What’s the war about?

Plain and simple: the war that’s being fought now is a misnomer. Its just another scale of capitalistic perversion indulged in by the Eurocentric liberals. A sudden sense of powerlessness that engulfed the white ruling class world impaired its confidence to such a great deal that out of the vacuum came many a pseudo liberal and conservative movements. From safeguarding church sanctity, to curb communism, to attack sovereign lands, and to pose peace marches to oppose such attacks by terming them as wars: we have seen the hegemonists staking claim on both sides of the mainstream politics.

All along, what these reformers and reactionaries alike have consciously refrained from doing is to recognize the kind of war that’s the need of the hour. There is only one war that is needed to be fought today, and that is the Class War. In my view, the class wars have the following inherent features. (Bestselling works have different –often spiritual– types of Seven Laws. But that’s merely because they have a different population in mind):


1. Class wars are not fought outside the ‘national’ boundaries. Indeed, class wars do not recognize any divisions other than Class.

2. Class wars are organized attacks on global capitalistic economic system. They are not peaceful reform movements based on appeals and petitions and requests and preachings.

3. Class wars are not fought by recruiting working class people to fight on behalf of the imperialist masters. Quite the contrary, class wars force the capitalists out onto the street to fight their own battles and in fear or new found knowledge, many from capitalist classes join the working class people, and out of the enslaved mindsets, many from working class prefer to join their former masters. Apart from Bolsheviks, one could find instances in Black Panthers and Weathermen Underground, where people of all classes came onto the streets, many changed their class loyalties and consciously chose sides and fought the battles on principles.

4. Class wars are organized through radical education of the youths, by disavowing old reactionary knowledge, by replacing canonic texts and reactionary history and colonial languages with brand new narrations by the oppressed, language of the dispossessed and writings of the agitated. Vladimir Mayakovsky and Che Guevera and Maxim Gorky would come to mind who replaced the old texts with the new.

5. Class wars are fought against the entire lot of class elites, including the scientists who make bombs, doctors who pimp expensive drugs, teachers who teach classics, students who benefit from nepotisms. But since the class wars cannot be exclusionary in nature, the peoples sides always invariably accept those from different classes and backgrounds as long as they willingly change their statuses by giving up adamancies, class characters and superficial hierarchies.

6. Class wars always are organized, although outbursts are always spontaneous. It is the duty of the educated and privileged who feel oppressed, to heed to the call of the most dispossessed, and thereby help form the class in solidarity. In class wars, there are no gradations and levels and degrees. It’s an absolute war against the tiny minority of controllers of global resource, not against the exploited workers, mid-level managers or even those from the bourgeois class who are willing to consciously switch positions.

7. Class wars are not dogmatic, they do not follow arbitrary wishes of despots, and yet certainly do not entertain any reformist, and liberal understandings that look for intra-system micro changes. Class wars are about grand visions, great leaps and global single union of all workers.

It is only important for people of the biggest empire in world history to recognize that the war has to be brought home. With due apologies to Doctors without Borders, refugees are not outside of Europe or America. It is the majority of people in these countries that are the refugees within the ruling class boundaries. Just for an example, to take a leaf out of last month which was observed in the US as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, one needs to only redefine the scope of internally displaced people: Acts of domestic violence occur every 12 seconds in the U.S. – making it the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the country – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. More than 4,500 women are killed each year in the U.S. by abusive husbands or boyfriends. This is the state of women’s rights in the country that goes on preaching morals to China about human rights abuse and along with its European counterparts like UK, and France—which are even worse performers on human issues–issues warrants to Muslim countries regarding the freedom that ‘their women’ deserve and to ensure that, they declare wars on poor people. Largest undertrials, and biggest military-industrial complexes, fraud elections that steal the polls, education system working for the rich, healthcare industries at the call of the privileged—on almost every count of human dignity, the majority of people in the so-called first world are living in no better condition than the working class lives in the victim countries. And yet, the wars–to enforce a standard of governance that has invariably failed to deliver everytime—continue against the poor people of the world and crocodile tears are shed by the enlightened liberals at their plights. Its almost in charity towards the poor that the emotions are misspent, instead of asking the crucial question regarding who leads to their plights and thereby organizing them on an international economic class basis.

These utter hypocrisies of the elitists have led the world to believe in the external aggressions as some kind of feasible war, whereas the truth of the matter is, this is just a genocide being caused against the working poor of the world by the moral pundits of the first world who spread their neo-colonial tools of culture, media and redundant, privilege-ridden talk-shows laced, media-hyped, bogus talks about equality and liberty and freedom and all other superficially diverting values of plutocracy.

The real war needs to be brought home, and the demarcations need to be made. We did let go of the Katrina disaster that brought out the class dynamics because there were not enough among us who identified with the suffering black people of America who would like to give up our knowledge about issues defined by the structure as ‘issues’. Hence we looked at race dynamics, we looked at geographical dynamics, we looked at political dynamics. We entirely missed that it is the class that creates the divides across, geography, race, gender, religion, sexuality, disabilities, nationalities, political systems—to name but a few. Not the other way around. Yet again, this month, let us not allow the farcical elections blind us to a system that just doesn’t seem to be working for the people. This election is another reformist tactics to get rid of one ruler while upholding the structure that will seat just another. The absurdities surrounding these imposters are so well known that their media bombard us with multitudes of news only to force us to forget things we should have noticed. For example, John Kerry disgraced himself after talking about who gets stuck in wars. Sure, I don’t think it was a disgrace because Kerry was wrong in content. Just that he forgot to say he got out of Vietnam not because of education alone. But ironically he disgraced himself again for a second time (truly in sync with Democratic Party tradition of eating words) by apologizing: implying that it’s a good thing to be conscripted after all… Whose bickerings are we even choosing our sides for: These are not even worthy fights!

We don’t need militarists to misspell imperialism as some necessary war. We also don’t need peaceniks to preach against all sorts of wars. The fact of the matter is, we have submitted to these jargon jugglers for a long time now. And the need of the hour is for the ongoing class wars to be recognized and organized and brought back to homes—to every place of this planet and unionize our class identity before they move the focus to their media machines and central parks.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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