Tag Archives: Lenin

Gaza and the outrage of millions

By Omar

I do not follow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict very closely, but of course, given the high visibility of this issue, I am not completely ignorant of it either and do have opinions about it. Ever since the current war started, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been aflame with outrage at Israeli actions and support for the Palestinians. I have posted a post (basically saying there is no end in sight) and a few comments here and there, but generally stayed out of it. This (relative) lack of outrage has outraged some of my friends and forced me to think about it a bit more. So here goes:

First, about my relative lack of outrage: I plead old age. I am so old, I remember when i was outraged at Nixon’s Christmas bombing of Hanoi (I was a child, but I was a precocious child in that way, in a very politically aware household). I was outraged at the genocide in East Pakistan a few years after it happened (how I missed being outraged at that in 1971 is a long story). I remember being outraged when the CIA sent terrorists to blow up stuff in Nicaragua and when right wing death squads nailed nuns to the table in El-Salvador. I was outraged at the first Iraq war (and marched in Washington to oppose it, then went to a bar and saw zero coverage of that HUGE march on TV) and approaching old age, at the second. If that looks like a leftish list of outrages, its because (like all Westernized Desis) I grew up in a Leftist milieu when it came to being outraged. But I compensated in my old age. I have since become retrospectively outraged at Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, among others. I was even mildly outraged by our (Pakistan’s) close allies the Sri Lankan army, and their tactics in their elimination of the Tamil Tigers. But the point is, I have discovered by now that the outcome of these things is rarely determined by the number of people outraged. In actual wars, especially wars where the opposing parties look at it as a fight to the death, its usually a matter of who can fight better and longer and who has the deadlier weapons.

In short, if there is no middle ground, then the conflict (no matter who is at fault, or who did what to get here) will, NECESSARILY, be settled by the battle-axe. Any settlement by the battle-axe means more Palestinian suffering than Israeli suffering because Israel has the better axes. Supporters of Palestine (and I continue to believe that I am one, since I think a two-state solution on near 1967 borders is the most humane solution and complete defeat of either party involves too much human suffering) should keep this in mind before they valorize an armed resistance in which they themselves take absolutely no bodily risks. Israel must stop bombarding Gaza and killing civilians as collective punishment, but Hamas must also stop firing rockets and getting civilians killed. Even if we believe that the moral burden of those civilian deaths rests on the killers, not on Hamas, the price is too damned high. Moral victory at that price is not worth it.

Cheer leading that victory from 10,000 miles away on Twitter or Facebook is easy. But the price for those dying and suffering is too high. Should Hamas then accept blockade and lack of recognition and x and y?…yes and no. They must not act as if they can FIGHT their way past these restrictions because clearly they cannot. Then they should get out of the way and let more Gandhian alternatives try to improve the life of Palestinians instead of using them as cannon fodder. By not accepting X or Y, what exactly have they achieved? Has the blockade ended? has the suffering stopped? If the tactics you are using are only getting your own kids killed, then the tactics are not working. Honor and admiration from countless millions backslapping each other in their drawing rooms is not enough of a reward or achievement.

Almost all my friends disagree with me on this, but then, like me, they are safely away from the kill zone….also, many of them have had nasty words for Abbas (Abu Mazen). Well, he has not achieved what he wanted, but the West Bank Palestinians are still better off than the ones in Gaza. Their kids are not being slaughtered in the hundreds and they have the chance to resist non-violently and make their case to the world AND TO ISRAEL. Of course it is possible that (as most of my friends claim) Israel  is really not interested in making an honorable peace. But since the Palestinians do not have (and will not have in the foreseeable future) ANY way to militarily defeat Israel, their options are rather limited. Distant cheerleaders with nothing to lose are encouraging them to commit suicide so that we can all have dead heroes to admire. I dont think thats a good idea for Gazans.

Those protest demonstrations in Western capitals? I saw bigger ones before the Gulf war. What happened next is well known.

PS: What about my disproportionate attention to Pakistani Jihadists, ISIS and suchlike? I think its semi-rational. They have killed friends of mine already> they may kill more in the days to come. Their actions affect people I know personally. Its selfish, but its (sort of) rational.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits
http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/08/gaza-and-outrage-of-millions.html?spref=fb

BBC News – The curious survival of the US Communist Party

By Aidan Lewis BBC News, New York

Like fellow movements around the world, the US Communist Party suffered a crippling blow with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But a small group of die-hard members persevered.

Not far from Wall Street, on the seventh floor of an elegant eight-storey building on West 23rd Street, is the headquarters of an improbable political survivor – the Communist Party USA.

The office is bright and modern. On one wall are black-and-white photo portraits of major figures in the party’s history. The works of Marx, Engels and Lenin are stacked in bookshelves.

The building was bought to house the party in the 1970s before the surrounding neighbourhood of Chelsea became fashionable. “We got a great bargain on it,” says secretary-treasurer Roberta Wood.

In a concession to capitalist reality, all but two floors are now rented out. The revenue supports People’s World, an online publication that is the direct descendent of the party’s long defunct newspaper, the Daily Worker.

Continue reading BBC News – The curious survival of the US Communist Party

Delhi University council orders sociology department to ‘swap Marx for Indian thinkers’

By Neha Pushkarna

Delhi University’s academic council (AC) on Tuesday cleared the new curricula for history and sociology, but not without stipulations.

The members found the sociology syllabus to be leaning towards “left ideology” and a bit dense for undergraduate students.

The AC has asked the sociology department to review the syllabus and make the suggested changes within the next three months.

The department has been asked to cut down on the number of papers on Marx and introduce Indian social thinkers in the content. The two courses had been pending because of “noncooperation” from teachers.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2332298/Delhi-University-council-orders-sociology-department-swap-Marx-Indian-thinkers.html#ixzz2UiUsWope

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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

G. M. Syed’s Birth Day in Jail, Living With Enemies, Palijo’s Ideology, Life in Jail

Notes From My Memory, Part VIII: G. M. Laghari, Syed’s Birth Day in Jail, Living With Enemies, Palijo’s Ideology, Life in Jail

By Mir Thebo

Excerpt:

…. Living with ideological enemies: It is very difficult to live with an ideological enemy in one compound especially when there is just no way to avoid or escape him. And what do you do if that ‘ideological enemy’ is Rasool Bux Palijo who is always eager to pinch you with sharp and dreadful remarks? When we were in jail together (1968), as I mentioned in my previous note, R. B. Palijo came with the idea on 17th January to celebrate G. M. Syed’s Birth Day! I thought it was his ploy to criticize and condemn us [Communist Party (CP)] on the national question. Palijo arranged a birthday cake and some refreshments for the day. We all sat together including two muhajir comrades and paid rich tributes to Saaeen G. M. Syed.

When my turn came to speak, I compared Syed with other historical personalities like Dr. Sun Yat Sen, (Chinese nationalist leader, who played a great role in 1911 Chinese nationalist revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty in China), Jawahar Lal Nehru and Khan Ghaffar Khan. When Palijo’s turn came, he brutally attacked my comparison of Syed with those leaders and said, ‘Syed is far above than these leaders. Mir has tried to minimize G. M. Syed’s stature and his role.’ In rhetorical manner, he continued: ‘G. M. Syed is equivalent to Marx, Lenin and Mao’. He said: ‘these people don’t know how great G. M. Syed is’. I was flabbergasted by Palijo’s remarks. We knew how Palijo used Syed’s personality for his own narrow political interests. He himself knew very well the place of Syed. But, alas, that has been Palijo’s style all along.

R. B. Palijo’s political ideology: For political purposes, Palijo used Mao Tse-Tung whose little red book was

compulsory for every Chinese to carry during the cultural revolution (1966 to 1976) otherwise one will be labeled as counter revolutionary or an agent of the enemy. Thousands of people were persecuted especially the writers, intellectuals and middle class people. They were ruthlessly taken from their homes in the cities and were uprooted and sent to far-flung rural areas. They were humiliated under the guidance of the so-called vigilant party committees and people were forced to confess that they were anti-party and reactionary to bring them to shame in the public. Same thing was practiced in the Soviet Union during the Stalin period. They called it ‘The Great Purge’ to purify the party and the society.

Palijo found it easy to convince his workers through this sacred red book that all are enemies except his party people and that he can expel any leader or worker in the name of the great cause or the party. The same practice was common in our party too. It was actually a common practice in 3rd. world countries. Therefore almost all parties were divided in many groups and during that period Euro Communism emerged. The Western European parties denounced the Soviet system of one party rule and the dictatorship of the proletariat and the concept of democratic socialism and multi-party system emerged. New ideas emerged in 1980s in the Soviet Union too. They were called Glasnost and Perestroika (openness and restructuring) and M. Gorbachev declared a famous quote for the liberals that ‘Man is above the Ideology, the ideology is not above the man’. Those who are still Marxists and glorify the former USSR, consider Gorbachev the traitor and the one who brought down the grand empire of the UNION OF THE SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC.

Palijo brought Mao’s thoughts to his workers and Sindhi peasants and mixed it with Sindhi nationalism and formulated the idea of a Chinese model revolution in Sindh and repeatedly told his innocent workers the famous quote of Mao that “all political power comes from the barrel of the gun”. But Mao’s revolution was typical Chinese revolution. Mao didn’t copy the Russian model and he was against Russia. Both the communist powers even went to a war in 1969 over some piece of land along one of the longest international borders between the two countries although they both believed in the ideology that in future states will wither away and only universal communism will prevail. More funny thing is that it was America, the big capitalist enemy, who stopped Russians from attacking Chinese nuclear installations and Russians backed off (US journalist Harrison Salisbury reported that Soviet sources implied a possible first strike against the Lop Nur basin nuclear test site; and military documents of the time indicate that the USSR had more nuclear-attack plans against China than against the US. The United States warned the USSR against launching a nuclear strike against China. WIKI). Mao didn’t use even Marx very much. He brought the revolution in his own way as he convinced Chinese people how to fulfill difficult task through this old Chinese saying, ‘The foolish old man who moves the mountain’. ….

To read complete article: Indus Herald

The hornet is dead, near the nest – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Pakistani brass was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Doveryai, no proveryai! This Russian proverb, meaning ‘trust, but verify’, popularised by Vladimir Lenin and later by Ronald Reagan, has not rung truer than in the events surrounding the assassination of Osama bin Laden (OBL) earlier this week. And we may see it applied much more intensely in the months to come.

Phone calls from friends in Abbottabad about an ongoing military action there, were enough to suggest that something big was happening in what the locals had always believed to be an ISI-run facility, but the e-mail news alert from The Wall Street Journal announcing OBL’s death was still a major surprise. Against the norms of punditry, this time one hoped that we were wrong and this was not happening in Pakistan. But it was, and yes, we now stand vindicated: all of us who had been saying and writing for years that the US’s most wanted man was not under the protection of any major Pashtun tribe but was guarded by the clan that has anointed itself as the guardians of Pakistan’s ‘ideological’ and geographical frontiers. It is this same clan that had actually codified in its curriculum that “you are the selected lords; you are the cream of the nation”. Where else could this syllabus have been taught but at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul — less than a mile from OBL’s last lair?

There is no polite way of saying it but these masters of Pakistan’s fortunes got egg on their face and that too with the whole world watching. A Peshawarite calling in on a television show said it most aptly: “Koilay ki dallali mein haath to kalay hotay hein per moonh bhi kala hota hai” (Those, whose business is foul, not only get their hands dirty but a blackened face too). But they still have the nerve to say with a straight face that a million-dollar fortress under their nose had been “off their radar”!

Not only that but they also have the gall to mobilise the right-wing media to create the smokescreen of sovereignty yet again while simultaneously playing up their ‘role’ in support of the US action in Abbottabad. The world, however, is not buying that in a cantonment city, the army — which keeps track of every inch of land around its facilities — did not know what was going on in the high-walled compound next to its primary training academy. The paid spin masters will have to do better than this. No matter what President Asif Zardari or his ghostwriter is made to say in op-ed articles in US papers, it is the top brass that is under scrutiny. Using the civilian political leadership as the human shield is not going to work, as the calculus has changed dramatically.

Barack Obama’s token acknowledgment of Pakistan’s non-specific cooperation is being construed by the Pakistani establishment and its minions to imply that the US can be taken for a ride again. It is too early for the specifics to surface but conversations with several sources in Washington and Pakistan point only to the deep mistrust that the US has had vis-à-vis Pakistan. There was no deal initiated by General Shuja Pasha to ‘trade in’ OBL for a bigger Pakistani role in Afghanistan. On the contrary, in response to the chest thumping by the Pakistani security establishment and its ultra right-wing political acolytes, they were confronted with damning evidence about the Haqqani network and possibly the Quetta Shura, while the OBL lead was not shared. The no-fly zone over Pakistan was created through phone calls, minutes after the OBL operation got underway. While the Pakistani brass is clutching at straws like blaming the ‘two Pashtun guards’ for protecting OBL’s compound, it was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton’s nuanced diplomatic statements notwithstanding, the mood of the US leadership is almost reflective of the immediate post-9/11 days and was conveyed well by Senator Carl Levin in his remark: “(Pakistan has) a lot of explaining to do … I think the army and the intelligence of Pakistan have plenty of questions that they should be answering.” In a complete paradigm shift, any leverage that the Pakistani junta was hoping to gain from the bravado that started with the Raymond Davis affair has been lost completely. What will follow is a steady demand within the US to hold Pakistan’s feet to the fire. While maintaining a semblance of a working relationship, a very tough line will be adopted in private. The question bound to come up is not just why Pakistan was hanging on to OBL but also if there was any connection of its operatives to the 9/11 tragedy.

From a tactical standpoint, the OBL operation is likely to serve as a template for future action against the jihadist leadership hiding in Pakistan, especially with General David Petraeus assuming his new role in the near future. To get closer to the strategic objective of a certain level of stability within Afghanistan and potentially a political reconciliation there, it is imperative for the US to neutralise the next two key hurdles, i.e. the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Both these entities have so far been able to evade the US’s reach, thanks to the Pakistani security establishment’s patronage.

Members of the Haqqani clan have been roaming freely in the vicinity of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Khalil Haqqani has conducted several meetings in the previous few months to broker the ‘peace deal’ for the Kurram Agency. It is inconceivable that he could act without the knowledge of the Pakistani security agencies. Similarly, Quetta is home to the Pakistan Army’s XII Corps, ISI regional headquarters, the Balochistan Frontier Corps, an army recruitment centre, the Pakistan Air Force base Samungli and the Pakistan Army’s prestigious Command and Staff College. One wonders if the Pakistani brass would still be able to say that they do not know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar.

A window of opportunity perhaps still exists for Pakistan to make a clean break with the past but its incoherent blame-game and constantly changing story says otherwise. The Pakistani establishment has given the world very little reason to trust it without verifying — unless, of course, another hornet is to be missed hiding near a major nest.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201155\story_5-5-2011_pg3_2

A Primer on Class Struggle

by Michael Schwalbe

When we study Marx in my graduate social theory course, it never fails that at least one student will say (approximately), “Class struggle didn’t escalate in the way Marx expected. In modern capitalist societies class struggle has disappeared. So isn’t it clear that Marx was wrong and his ideas are of little value today?

I respond by challenging the premise that class struggle has disappeared. On the contrary, I say that class struggle is going on all the time in every major institution of society. One just has to learn how to recognize it. …

Read more : Common Dreams

Russia Weighs What to Do With Lenin’s Body

By C. J. CHIVERS

MOSCOW, Oct. 4 – For eight decades he has been lying in state on public display, a cadaver in a succession of dark suits, encased in a glass box beside a walkway in the basement of his granite mausoleum. Many who revere him say he is at peace, the leader in repose beneath the lights. Others think he just looks macabre.

Time has been unkind to Lenin, whose remains here in Red Square are said to sprout occasional fungi, and whose ideology and party long ago fell to ruins. Now the inevitable question has returned. Should his body be moved?

Revisiting a proposal that thwarted Boris N. Yeltsin, who faced down tanks but in his time as president could not persuade Russians to remove the Soviet Union’s founder from his place of honor, a senior aide to President Vladimir V. Putin raised the matter last week, saying it was time to bury the man. …

Read more : The New York Times

Remembering Leon Trotsky

By: Hisam Memon

A man of revolution, brave, demagogue and replete with wisdom and sincerity “LEON TROTSKY” was assassinated 21st August in 1940 by Stalinist faction with ice axe. He was a friend of great revolutionary hero Lenin, who revolved in Russia in 1917. Which is known as “OCTOBER INQLAB” in our Sindh and I have been observing Russian Revolution has been a mental monument for the people, who learnt much from the Russian literature and revolution.

Now the radicals inclinations have been dimmed and the minds of the people have been dipped into the lust of gaining status and hoarding money.

I know the people talk of revolution, they have memorized their political role and they still have from the past….

How long the same attitude of greatness would be lasting, people plasticize and memorize the things, but are not pragmatic. People searches behind short cut and they are cut from the actual political role.

People are mentally filled with the certain experience and feel that they have done that all individually. ..

I just remember the things and could not have concession in this regard, because it’s a matter of history and history does not forgive.

Continue reading Remembering Leon Trotsky