Tag Archives: insight

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

Rights violations shame Pakistanis at Congress hearing

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Guilt and shame were the two dominant feelings that overwhelmed many Pakistanis at a US congressional hearing room on Wednesday as witnesses detailed human rights abuses in Balochistan. Some were also troubled – while some felt elated – as all five US lawmakers who attended this unusual hearing of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations stressed the Baloch right to self-determination.

But this emotive session – which often drew warm applause from Baloch nationalists – offered little insight into how to resolve this difficult issue. Perhaps, that’s not even the intention of those who had organised the meeting. They wanted to highlight Balochistan as a possibly explosive spot close to a US war-theatre and they succeeded in doing so. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

The Next Indo Pak Conflict – Major Amin’s prophesies? Is he right?

The Next Indo Pak Conflict

By Agha H. Amin

A brother human being Mr Giani 240 was a catalyst for this reflection on an IndoPak conflict.

At some stage historical forces, greater than main or key decision makers takeover and take states to war. This has already happened! no one can reverse the tide! how it happens and how many major cities may be destroyed is the question?

Mad men on both sides! Extreme suspicion and paranoia! Situation compounded by fear and ambiguity! The Pakistani military an army with a state versus India a state with an army makes the role of Indian army more limited than the Pakistani military who also control foreign policy and internal politics! The Pakistani military is not really qualified foreign policy nor are they statesman! But they think that they are both! This makes it far more dangerous! The Indian state is at a loss to decipher Pakistani intentions! Ambiguity leads to confusion and as the adage goes ” Fear made men believe in the worst “! The use of non state actors initiated by the Pakistani military and now in full use by both countries has already gone out of control!Non state actors now have many masters, both state and non state and this complicates apportioning of blame in any incident! Above all population, limited resources, a human psyche deforming rapidly into collective neurosis as well as psychosis is complicating the situation. With man basically irrational, decisions military and political are not made with rational reasons.This was discovered by Freud long ago and discussed in detail in his classic ” The Future of an Illusion“. As a historian with a unique insight based on personal contact with many key decision makers on the Pakistani side and some interaction with Indians as a contractor in Afghanistan convinces me that a major Indo Pak conflict is not far away. Now the process is in hands of a remote and unknown pilot. Even the major and the key decision makers on both sides cannot reverse it. Although they may decide on the time and space and choice of targets. Why states go to war? A detailed study of history proves that it is for reasons more irrational than rational but nevertheless compelling reason. All is understood if we start from the premise that man is irrational! One thing I know .The Indian and Pakistani nukes will not be wasted and rusted in secret storages! God help us all!

Courtesy: Scribd


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