American Marxism as a guide to action:

Marxist political advice and its discontents

By Omar Ali

Professor Vijay Prashad  is the George and Martha Kellner professor of history at Trinity college. He is also a prominent left wing activist. The two roles have different requirements. Here he tries to bridge the gap. 

Someone had commented on 3quarksdaily.com that this is “Another bucketload of gormless Marxist verbiage around a central anti-semitic core: forget the mountains of corpses and the decades of torture and oppression – Assad’s main crime is defined as “neoliberalism … and a practice of accommodation with both the US and Israel.”

That triggered the following comment (i have edited the original slightly for clarity)  from me: The real problem with neomarxist verbiage is not double standards or selective outrage, its the unbridgeable gap between being a professor and being an actor on the ground in a civil war in a faraway country.
Vijay Prashad as a professor in a first world University may eventually contribute to changing the way X or Y issue is framed in the mind of the elite, and that in turn will eventually have some impact somewhere in actual daily politics and political struggles but those are big “eventually-s”. Some professors are OK with that and focus on doing their research and writing their books and teaching their students in the hope that their analysis will eventually “trickle down”. But that (for obvious reasons) is not very satisfying for most of us. Hence the need to suggest practical courses of action in today’s clash, to pick sides, to “organize a relief column”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your estimate of said professor’s wisdom and insight) this aspect of a professor’s work has near-zero real world relevance.
I don’t know how to fix this problem, but it does seem to be a real problem. Most right wingers are almost by definition closer to the ruling elites so maybe they dont feel the pain as much, but left wing professors are in a painful bind here..to have no opinion on proximate politics and wars seems silly, but to have an opinion that arises logically from their theoretical framework is frequently sillier, and any honest and good man may end up in Professor Prashad’s position. Its a real dilemma.

In an attempt to pre-empt misunderstandings, let me add:

1. My question is not about the details of his analysis.

2. Its about this scenario. Lets say Vijay is Vladimir Lenin. Well, in that case he is not only a theoretician (though he would like to believe that his superior understanding of theory informs his practice), he is an organizer, a rebel, a leader, a politician with day to day decision to make. Very fine nuances and very involved calculations will come into play. Many of those calculations will be very cynical. All of them will be locally bound by existing circumstances. Theory will have to give way again and again. But Vijay (probably not even in his own mind, but I don’t know him personally, so I cannot say for sure) is not Lenin. He is a professor. He does research, he writes books. He has theories. And he is part of a broader left wing academic current that has its own internal dynamics very far from the ground in Syria. I am saying I don’t expect him to say things that are too useful as guides to action.
3. What do you think?

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

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Sarkash Sindhi Passes away

Ratodero, Sindh: Noted Sindhi poet Sarkash Sindhi passed away on Monday 5th March 2012. He was 70. Sarkash Sindhi wrote 11 books. He was controversial Sindhi poet due to his radical poetry. Sarkash Sindhi was hospitalized due to the complications of cancer but today he has passes away.

To read more about him » BBC urdu

Pakistan Taliban ‘number two sacked

By AFP

PESHAWAR: The number two commander in Pakistan’s nebulous, umbrella Taliban movement has been sacked as deputy chief but will remain within the organisation, a spokesman said Monday.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad is the Taliban’s commander in Bajaur, one of Pakistan’s seven districts in the tribal belt on the Afghan border and one that has seen a recent lull in fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani soldiers.

He was sacked on Sunday at a meeting presided over by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud at a secret location in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone.

“A shura (council) meeting was held on Sunday and it decided to remove Maulvi Faqir Mohammad from the position of deputy chief of TTP,” he said, adding that Mohammad would continue to serve the group as an ordinary member.

Ehsan gave no reason for the removal. Neither was a successor announced.

The TTP is a loose confederation of militant commanders founded and run by Baitullah Mehsud until his death in a US drone strike in August 2009. His killing sparked a bitter succession battle won by Hakimullah Mehsud.

A source close to the Taliban told AFP on condition of anonymity that the Bajaur commander fell out of favour with Mehsud over his alleged support for peace talks with the Pakistani government.

Mohammad also had sympathies with Mehsud’s biggest rival within the TTP, Wali-ur Rehman, the source added.

Northwestern Pakistan, particularly the main city of Peshawar, has seen a recent increase in suicide and gun attacks blamed on Taliban.

Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban, reportedly asked his Pakistani counterparts to stop attacks within Pakistan, considered vital in any peace process in Afghanistan.

The only TTP commander who refused to comply was Mehsud, an Afghan Taliban member recently told AFP. Young and impetuous, the TTP leader has reputedly said there will be no end to attacks until Washington stops drone strikes.

Courtesy: DAWN

Chief Justice urged to help recover ‘kidnapped’ Hindu girl – DAWN

By Bhagwandas

KARACHI, March 4: An alliance of minority parties on Sunday appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take a suo motu notice of the kidnapping of a Hindu girl and order her immediate return to her parents to restore the waning sense of security in the minorities.

Speaking at a protest demonstration staged outside the Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Minority Leaders Alliance representatives said they would launch a protest movement and stage a sit-in on March 10 if the authorities failed to recover the girl, Rinkle Kumari.

According to an uncle of the girl, Raj Kumar, she was kidnapped from her house in Mirpur Mathelo over a week ago and forced to marry Naveed Shah and change her religion. He alleged that the case was heard by a civil judge in Ghotki, but he did not allow her relatives to enter the courtroom while giving a verdict in favour of the ‘kidnapper’, Mr Shah.

Speaking on the occasion, Jeay Sindh Mahaz chief Riaz Chandio expressed solidarity with the minority community members and demanded arrest of and punishment to culprits involved in her kidnapping.

He said those belonging to religious minority groups, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, were sons of the soil. They should not feel threatened by such acts, as all Sindhis were one and that they were equal citizens and had equal rights, he said.

He said it was unfortunate that the girl was given in police custody instead of being sent to Darul Aman.

Mr Chandio announced that if “the daughter of Sindh” was not rescued and returned and culprits were not arrested soon and punished according to law, a province-wide sit-it would be staged on Saturday.

Manohar Lal, Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker in the national assembly, condemned the kidnapping and forced conversion of a young girl. He urged the president to take notice of the incident.

He said Islam guaranteed protection to minorities, but such people were giving a bad name to the religion. With such incidents, a sense of insecurity was growing in the community, he said. Earlier their sons were kidnapped for ransom, but now their daughters were being kidnapped and forcibly converted, he remarked.

Jeay Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party leader Gulzar Soomro said that forced conversions were a conspiracy against Islam, which preaches love and peace and opposes use of force. He said the culprits were agents of the establishment that wanted to divide the Sindhis.

“Our patience should not be mistaken as our weakness,” he warned, seeking her immediate recovery.

A Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and former lawmaker, Michael Javed, said the Quaid-i-Azam had said that the minorities would be equal citizens in Pakistan, but over the years the Quaid’s message was being forgotten.

Amar Lal, a community leader, said he and the girl’s uncle had met US consulate general staff a few days back and political counsellor Junaid J. Muneer had assured him that the issue would be taken up with the authorities concerned. He said he had also received a call from a former political counsellor of the US embassy in Islamabad, L.K. Robinson, who was currently in Washington. He told him that he would take up the issue with human rights organisations there.

Mahesh Singh, Mangla Sharma, Ramesh Kumar, Vijay Kumar and others also spoke.

Raj Kumar, the girl’s uncle, earlier informed the gathering that on Feb 24, a few armed men barged into her home in Mirpur Mathelo and kidnapped her at gunpoint.

He said a case was filed in a Ghotki court where he said she gave a statement about the threats she had received to convert and marry Naveed Shah or she and her entire family would be killed. He quoted her as saying in the court that she wanted to return and live with her parents.

He also alleged that the judge, in the presence of gunmen in the court, sent her to police custody rather than to her parents’ home or to a shelter home. The next hearing was scheduled to be held at 11am on Feb 27, but the case was heard at 8.15am and the girl’s family was not allowed to enter the courtroom, he said, adding that the judge then gave a verdict in favour of Mr Shah.

Mr Kumar urged the chief justice to take a suo motu notice of the issue and order her safe return to her parents.

Earlier, the participants in the demonstration chanted slogans such as ‘we want justice’ and ‘Rinkle be rescued’.

Courtesy: DAWN