Friday, September 1, 2017

The disinformation campaign on Venezuela

The disturbances created by the wealthy are part of the imperialists’ intervention plan in Venezuela. The disinformation campaign carried out by the mainstream media is a key component of that effort. So, no one should be surprised by the profusion of Orwellian statements and the incessant vilification of President Maduro in mainstream coverage of Venezuela.
Venezuela, it seems, is a riddle to the audiences of the mainstream media. Yet the riddle conceals a fact. A conflict between opposing interests is roaring in the country, and attempts to stoke that conflict are being intensified by the imperialist-interventionist quarter as the day for a vote on the proposed Constituent Assembly—July 30— nears.
Every day the mainstream media showers its viewers with news reports that are partial and biased. Here are some examples from the past several weeks:
  1. A Venezuelan diplomat to the UN has decided to break with the government and resigned. The diplomat called on President Nicolas Maduro to resign immediately.
  2. Recent protests have led to the deaths of more than 100 persons.
  3. Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has confirmed a second death in Thursday’s protests. The chief prosecutor said she was investigating the death.
  4. Maduro has decried the general strike called by the opposition a crude attempt to sabotage the country’s economy.
  5. Maduro has also denounced an opposition attack outside the offices of VTV, Venezuelan state TV.
  6. Opposition protesters and pro-government forces threw rocks at one another while the Venezuelan National Guard launched teargas and rubber bullets.
  7. Streets in opposition-friendly neighborhoods in eastern Caracas were almost entirely devoid of activity during the strike. Some businesses remained open in parts of the capital traditionally loyal to the ruling party but foot and vehicle traffic was significantly reduced.
  8. More than 7 million Venezuelans cast ballots in an opposition-led “consultation” on July 16. Nearly 700,000 of those votes came from Venezuelans abroad.
Other news
Yet there is a significant number of other news stories on Venezuela that the mainstream media chose not to report:
  1. Citing the Proletarian Agency of Information, a grassroots media group, on 20 July 2017 Venezuela Analysis reported: In the industrial city of Barquisimeto, many workers have made efforts to maintain production despite several cases of sabotage by business owners, administrators and protestors. In the case of DISICA, a private company that supplies state oil firm Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) with iron construction material, the workers “continue working and have not stopped operations.”
  2. The same news report said: State-owned Lacteos Los Andes, a diary company, has alleged that since early hours of the afternoon, they have been under attack by opposition groups armed with home-made mortars and Molotov cocktails. The groups “tried to set […] fire to an industrial gas tank.”
  3. Workers complained of delays caused by opposition barricades.
  4. Opposition mayors supported the strike.
  5. Working class neighborhoods have largely been unaffected by the strike.
  6. Maduro told VTV: “The 700 largest companies in the country are working at 100 percent of their capacity.”
  7. The government said: Almost all 2.8 million public employees including employees of PdVSA turned up to work. The PdVSA management said it was not affected by the strike. (Ryan Mallett-Outtrim and Katrina Kozarek, “Venezuela Divided Over Opposition’s General Strike,” Venezuela Analysis, July 20, 2017.)
  8. Any change to the constitution by the proposed constituent assembly, once elected, will need to be put to a referendum.
  9. The death of Hector Anuel, a citizen, assaulted by opposition protesters in Anzoategui state. Anuel’s death sparked a social media outrage, after footage went viral that seemed to show his charred corpse being beaten by opposition protesters. According to news outlet La Tabla, Anuel was killed after being hit by a home-made mortar used by opposition protesters. The shot itself was allegedly caught on camera. Anuel was burned, before being pummelled with stones and other debris. In the footage alleged to show his death, Anuel appeared unarmed. (Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, “Venezuela Shocked by Graphic Footage of Alleged Mortar Killing,” Venezuela Analysis, July 19, 2017.)
  10. The Bolivarian government made no attempt to stop the opposition-organized “vote taking” even though it had no legal standing (and, therefore, was no more than a circus). Initially, the show was described as a “referendum” and a “plebiscite”. It had the logistical support of the National Assembly, the regional governors and opposition mayors. The propertied classes and imperialist camp also extended full support to the so-called referendum, which should be seen as part of attempts to organize a parallel government. Five rightist former presidents from Latin American countries were allowed to observe the proceedings. They made fiery speeches demanding Maduro’s exit. All these leaders are entangled in corruption cases, and they have not hesitated to use repressive power against workers and peasants in their respective countries. (Jorge Martin, “Venezuela: July 16 opposition ‘consultation’ countered by a Chavista show of strength,” In Defense of Marxism, July 20, 2017)
  11. The opposition-organized show mobilized a large number of people. However, long queues at “polling stations” in some areas of the capital city were due to a small number of “polling stations.” For example, in Catia, there was one polling station for 90,000 people. Moreover, the opposition leaders have admitted: people could vote more than once. There is already a video showing a person voting three times in one hour in the right-wing stronghold of Chacao. Furthermore, at the end of the day, they burnt the ballots and the registers, which demolishes all scopes to check the opposition announced result. This is the political force, “which has been accusing the Bolivarian revolution of election fraud for the last 15 years!” (ibid.)
  12. There was an official dry run of the proposed Constituent Assembly (CA) elections—a presence of Chavismo’s strength—on the same day the so-called referendum was organized by the opposition. The dry run of the Constituent Assembly vote had a very high turnout, as evidenced by long queues in front of official National Electoral Council polling stations throughout the country. Even in big cities, where opposition support is greatest, long queues were common. Local councils of a number of these cities are controlled by the opposition. In many neighborhoods the queues were so long that the polling stations had to keep open until 8pm (four hours later than the scheduled time). There was even significant voter presence in Petare parish, which supported the opposition in recent elections. In Merida, many people waited in queues for hours and finally had to return home without participating in the dry run. (ibid.)
  13. In a poll by Hinterlaces of over 1,500 Venezuelans the majority said they support a socialist economy, with the caveat that state-run enterprises need to improve their efficiency. The poll asked participants if “the best thing for Venezuela is a socialist economic model of production, where various forms of private property exist.” Three out of four Venezuelans agreed with this statement and only 1 percent was unsure. The results were released in a speech by Oscar Schemel (a pollster with Hinterlaces) to local business leaders in Caracas. Schemel said data shows Venezuelans want a socialist state with private investment and a “mixed economy.”: “61 percent of the population affirms that the economy must be led by the state, 86 percent think that the government should promote private investment, 78 percent consider that the government’s dialogue with businesspeople is more important than with the opposition, and 63 percent distrust the opposition.” While the majority of Venezuelans said they support socialism, 63 percent of the respondents said the government needs to become “more productive and efficient”, 32 percent said the current model should “change”, 74 percent said they would oppose any proposal to privatize PdVSA. When asked whether the electricity grid should be privatized, 67 percent opposed the suggestion while 69 percent opposed suggestion for privatizing state telecommunications giant CANTV. (Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, “POLL: 75% of Venezuelans support socialism, 63% distrust opposition,MR Online, July 23, 2017)
The mainstream media has failed to cover nearly all of these stories; when they have, the message has been distorted to fit the viewpoint of the US ruling class.
Since the mainstream media incessantly flaunts its “objectivity” we can reasonably ask: how objective has their reporting been on deaths and killings over the last four months? Is there any mention of opposition-induced violence? Any reasonable assessment would conclude that opposition has played little, if any role, other than to protest; whereas most, if not all, have been murdered by Maduro and his security machine.
So far, the opposition organized unrest has left 105 persons dead (date last updated: July 18). There is confusion over the causes of and parties responsible for these deaths. An in-depth account by Venezuela Analysis (“In detail: The deaths so far”, July 11, 2017) showed the following:
Deaths caused by authorities: 13
Direct victims of opposition political violence: 20
Deaths indirectly linked to opposition barricades: 8
Deaths still unaccounted for/disputed: 44
Accidental deaths: 3
Persons dead during lootings: 14
Deaths attributed to pro-government civilians: 2
The mainstream media not only avoid giving any such breakdown, they completely ignore who murdered whom. They also ignore other pertinent details about the opposition protests:
  1. Any details on the tactics most commonly used in opposition demonstrations.
  2. How opposition protestors target day-to-day civilian activities and attempt to create a sense of terror.
  3. Any investigation into the class affiliation of participants in opposition demonstrations.
  4. The extent to which vandalism, arson, bombings are used; or the routine targeting of public institutions (such as clinics).
  5. The assassination of Chavista supporters.
Any honest coverage would compel one to ask: are these opposition “crusaders” genuinely interested in “democracy,” or do they simply want the right to plunder and terrorize until they get their way by force? We simply cannot rely on the mainstream media to provide any insight into such pertinent questions.
Voting mathematics
The voting tabulations given by the mainstream media more often than not conform to the viewpoint of the Venezuelan opposition leaders and their supporters. A look into their very own figures on voting in the much touted “consultation” (or “referendum”) is a sterling example. Following are a few key points:
  1. The opposition has stated that they had 2,000 polling stations and a total of 14,000 polling booths, which remained open for 9 hours, from 7am until 4pm. A few of stations remained opened later, but most closed much earlier. They report a total of 7,186,170 votes. When we divide that figure by 14,000 booths over 9 hours we get rough estimate of 57 votes per hour per booth. In other words, just over 1 vote every minute in each and every one of the polling booths: 9 hours straight! In one minute and five seconds every voter had to go to the table, show identification documents, have their details written down in the electoral register, receive a paper ballot, go into the booth and fill out the ballot, fold it and put it into the ballot box. Surely a “believable” estimate, commented Jorge Martin: “massive achievement for the opposition, one which breaks all election records and a few laws of physics”! (“Venezuela: July 16 opposition ‘consultation’ countered by a Chavista show of strength”, In Defence of Marxism, July 20, 2017)
  2. In Spain, there are 63,000 Venezuelans, according to the census taken on January 2017. Of these 9,000 are below the voting age, leaving 54,000. The opposition claims that 91,981 participated in the consultation. Now, there may be some discrepancies between the census and the real figures, but is it reasonable to accept that there are 38,000 more people than are actually registered officially? Are we not justified to doubt these figures?
  3. The opposition officially declared that 7,186,170 people had participated. Let’s assume that the figure is true. That would fall short of the 14 million they themselves had announced would take part, just days before July 16, and also short of the more conservative figure announced by Capriles as a litmus test for the day. The opposition also announced that “with this result Maduro would have lost a recall referendum.” This refers to the Constitution, which states that for a recall referendum to be binding on the sitting president, more people would have to vote for his recall than he actually won in the election. Unfortunately for the opposition, Maduro was elected with 7,587,579 votes in 2013, and thus would not have been recalled. More confusing yet, the figure they apparently plucked out of thin air are less even than the opposition candidate won in that presidential election, which was 7,363,980. (ibid.)
As one might expect, the mainstream media have totally misrepresented the news of the official dry run process of the Constituent Assembly, most claiming poor voter turnout. The Spanish El País informed its readers that in Caracas there was “little influx to some polling stations […]” where a few “looked empty.” Yet the four photographs published by El Pais were of very long Chavista queues, with a false caption saying the cues were of Chavistas going “to participate in the opposition consultation”! (ibid.)
Interventionist propaganda
The upper classes of Venezuela are trying to regain their lost fiefdom. The program of violence they are implementing, which has rocked Venezuela since April 4, 2017, is part of that effort.
Venezuelan bonds have crashed as result of the sustained unrest, with five-year debt yielding 36 per cent. Economic problems and corruption are wearing down the Bolivarian revolution’s social base; as leaders are forced into a policy of class conciliation, revolutionary mobilization are weakened; and, thus, creating conditions favorable to the upper classes. The disturbances the wealthy elite are creating is part of the imperialists’ intervention plan in Venezuela. The disinformation campaign carried out by the mainstream media is a key component of that effort. So, we should not be surprised by the profusion of Orwellian statements and the incessant vilification of Maduro, in mainstream coverage of Venezuela:
  • “The proposed Constituent Assembly would disenfranchise millions of Venezuelans.”
  • “If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the US will take strong and swift economic actions.”
  • Mercosur has asked Maduro to suspend his plan to rewrite the country’s constitution.
  • A group of US lawmakers has warned of a new Cuba as Venezuela is trying to transform the country to serve its own people. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said of Venezuela: “This is a dysfunctional narco-state.” Rubio also said: “How truly tragic would it be for […] one of the most democratic societies in the hemisphere to become Cuba.” Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey said: “We are talking about a nearly failed state in our own hemisphere.” Venezuela is a “nearly-failed”, “narco-state,” and yet is “one of the most democratic societies”?! Which statement to believe?
  • Maduro is just another Fidel. [Yes, they say this.] Cuban-American Republicans and Democrats agree: Maduro must be stopped.
  • Rubio brought the wife of Mr. Leopoldo López, one of Venezuela’s opposition leaders, to the White House in February.
The US would obviously prefer to restore its allies to the throne in Venezuela so that they can go on plundering the country; so that surplus labor of the toiling people of Venezuela can be appropriated.
It might be argued that while most of the facts presented above are objective, some are biased. But that would miss the point, which is the wildly divergent narrative presented by the mainstream media. The interests of capitalists and imperialists are stated and restated incessantly; while those of millions of people of Venezuela are downplayed, distorted or ignored.
We cannot remain silent. We must recognize that many other countries may face (or are already facing) the same situation. Would an imperialist state allow some other state to decide/define:
  1. The imperialist state’s constitution?
  2. Who runs the imperialist state or who should be the president?
  3. Its domestic politics?
  4. Type of constitution, form of democracy and form of government?
Shouldn’t people of a country be allowed to decide the issues? These questions must be answered by those who support or downplay imperialist intervention in Venezuela and elsewhere.
No intervention should go unchallenged, whether in Venezuela or elsewhere. Piercing the edifice of mainstream media manipulation is a key part of exposing imperialist intervention, not least because it contributes to the political education of those fighting similar battles, leading to more effective organization and resistance.
This article was originally posted in MR Online on 25 July 2017.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bangladesh Liberation War Exposed A Neocolonial State’s Failure

With flawed political process, mismanagement of contradictions in body-society-polity, failures in political arrangement, incapability in handling of aspirations ingrained within the society, limitations in socio-political farsightedness of the dominating part of the society and failures in making compromises with emerging reality the dominating elites in pre-1971-Pakistan exposed its historical limits in its domain. It was a failure of the neocolonial state as well as of the imperialist power that stood by it as its guarantor and savior. The Bangladesh people’s War for Liberation in 1971 exposed the failure, a significant development in the people’s stride onward.
Pakistan, the moth-eaten country as was reportedly described by its leader M A Jinnah, was always in a precarious position since it was organized in 1947. “Pakistan has never been a country where the institutions might be stronger than personalities. The country has generally done well under authoritarian rule”. (British Ambassador in Islamabad to Secretary of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1973, Diplomatic Report No. 392/73, August 16, FCO 37/1334, The National Archives, London, cited in Mahboob Hussain, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Pakistan Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, “Parliament in Pakistan 1971-77 and Chief Executive: An Analysis of Institutional Autonomy”, Journal of Political Studies, vol. 20, Issue - 1, 2013)
The state’s deep rooted problem is evident in the following finding and the question:
“Pakistan has been in existence for more than four decades, yet has still not […] resolved the question of its nationhood. Does Pakistan’s national identity depend on Islam, the common faith of the majority of its citizens? [….] The country’s foreign policy files contain evidence of a seemingly unending debate about the nature of Pakistan state.” (Mehtab Ali Shah, The Foreign Policy of Pakistan: Ethnic Impacts on Diplomacy, 1971-1994, I B Tauris, London, New York, 1997) Mehtab Ali Shah cites “the contradiction that exists between the country’s official status as an ‘Islamic’ nation state, on the one hand, and the reality of its existence as a multi-ethnic society […] on the other.” (ibid.)
The state dived into more perilous position in 1971. Quoting Robert LaPorte’s “Pakistan in 1971: The Disintegration of a Nation” (Asian Survey, vol. 12, no.2, February, 1972) and other Syeda Sara Abbas writes: “Pakistan was a country without a viable government, money, international policy or a constitution […] (“Deliberative Oratory in the Darkest Hour: Style Analysis of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Statement at the Security Council”, Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, 2011) The state “survived” on “fatal links”, and the “fatal links” or the “linkages of failure” are told by Tariq Ali in his Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1983) and by Ayesha Jalal in her The State of Martial Rule (1991). Both of them cite linkage to, among others, the US imperialism. Like a business organization, the state at least once, had a CEO – Chief Executive Officer, a show of the state of the state’s nefarious political arrangement and compulsion, which many of the state’s 1971-mainstream politicians failed to perceive, which itself was a weakness in its system of observation, analysis and theory related to politics, especially the state.
The last act began on March 25, 1971, and the act concluded on December 16, 1971, the day Bangladesh people formally achieved victory by waging an armed struggle. A retired brigadier writes:
“On March 25, 1971, Gen Yahya Khan ordered the army to restore the writ of the state in East Pakistan [today’s independent Bangladesh]. On Dec 16, 1971, East Pakistan was no more.
“That afternoon [of December 16, 1971] in Dhaka, the Pakistan Army lost its honour […] when Lt Gen A.A.K. Niazi (Tiger) and his Eastern Command surrendered […] — honour that can be regained only on the battlefield. Until then, the ignominious defeat will continue to haunt the armed forces and succeeding generations in Pakistan.
“After he [Yahya Khan] chose to solve a political problem by military means [….] East Pakistan, as it stood on Dec 3, 1971, was ready to fall like a ripe plum.” (Dawn, December 3, 2009, “Blunders of the 1971 war”)
The military officer admits: “[T]he people there [in erstwhile East Pakistan, today’s independent Bangladesh] had risen in rebellion against the Pakistani state.” (ibid.)
“In 1971 Pakistan suffered a near death experience: genocide, civil war, migration and territorial reconfiguration.” (Syeda Sara Abbas, op. cit.) US Senator Fred R Harris cited a March 31, 1971 datelined report from The New York Times while urging the US government to “immediately end all military and economic assistance to Pakistan” in his letter to William P Rogers, the US secretary of state: “Pakistani soldiers have been dragging political leaders in East Pakistan into the streets where they are summarily shot. […E]xecution squads led by informers are systematically tracking down and killing East Pakistani intellectual leaders so that the people of that region will forever remain without a voice.” (US Senate, Committee on Government Operations, April 1, 1971) Congress member Halpern said in his statement: “thousands of people are being killed”. (Congressional Record House, “The need to clarify the Pakistani situation”, April 7, 1971, H 2524) US Senators Walter F Mondale, Edward W Brook, Mark O Hatfield and Edmund S Muskie in their letter to William P Rogers mentioned “bloodshed in East Pakistan” and “indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians”. Senator Kennedy’s comments in early-April are much known: “It is a story of indiscriminate killing, the execution of dissident political leaders and students, and thousands of civilians suffering and dying every hour. It is a story of dislocation and loss of home. It is a story of little food and water.” With the situation the Pakistan state created in Bangladesh since March 1971 the state was engaged in its last act of delegitimizing itself as it was conducting genocide in a part of the country while waging a war against the majority of the population under its control as the majority of the people yearned for justice and equity.
The state found no tools and mechanism for controlling and cowing down the majority of the population other than carrying on the genocide, which was a stark show of the state’s limits in the capacity to rule. The state of business in 1971 in the Pakistan-statecraft was an example of a neocolonial state’s failure; and the genocide and the war against the people was no exception in the imperialist-neocolonial system. The genocide took away the state’s all claims to rule, and denuded its barbaric character. The war the state was waging against the majority of the population under its dominance “was intricate in nature as it involved gross human rights violations [….The] murder, rape and arson were severe enough to deem it an international crisis. (Syeda Sara Abbas, op. cit.) Ishaan Tahroor referred Sydney Schanberg, an eye witness and reporter, who termed it a pogrom, and cited the rape of 400,000. (Tharoor, “Keeping Dhaka’s Ghosts Alive”, Time, September 24, 2008)
Failure of the Pakistan state began since it was organized. “Political and economic mishandling of the East Pakistan by the former West Pakistan caused deep dissatisfaction and growth of nationalist feeling among the almost entirely Bengali population, regarded as inferior by most of West Wing’s Punjabis who were the majority of administrators. […] Unrest in the East was suppressed in a brutal pogrom by the army”. (Brian Cloughley, War, Coups and Terror, Pakistan’s army in years of turmoil, Pen & Sword Military, Pen & Sword Books Limited, South Yorkshire, Great Britain, 2008) Taha Siddiqui refers to a retired major of the Pakistan army, who fought in East Pakistan in 1971. The army officer “claims the cracks in the system had started to show long before 1971” (The Express Tribune, December 16, 1971, “Remembering 1971: A retired major tells the story he’d rather forget”) “The retired major, who is a third generation military officer, says that when he was young, he used to visit his father who was also posted in Chittagong, Bangladesh. ‘The civil service, military and other high ranking government positions were all occupied by West Pakistanis, who considered Bengalis an inferior race,’ he says. Many times he saw Bengalis openly humiliated and treated like ‘untouchables’.” (ibid.)
The failure culminated in 1971 while the Baangaalee people rose in revolt against injustice, deprivation, killing, violation of honor of its women, arson and loot.
Political crisis that the state was nourishing within its head began taking acute shape since the overthrow of dictator Ayub Khan in a mass upsurge that reached its peak in 1969. A general election based on universal adult franchise was held in the later part of 1970. The days going to the election and the election results signaled the forthcoming conflict, and failure of a faction of the dominating elites of the state and success of the Baangaalees, the majority of the population, in their political fight. The following finding is only an example picked up randomly from among many:
“Between May and December 1970 the Jama‘at campaigned frantically. Competition with the Awami League and clashes with Bhashani’s supporters escalated tensions in East Pakistan and Punjab, and clashes with the People’s Party tied down the Jama‘at in West Pakistan. […] Despite untiring efforts, it won only four of the 151 National Assembly seats which it contested, all in West Pakistan [now, Pakistan], and only four of the 331 provincial assembly seats it had aimed for, one in each province except Baluchistan […] It trailed far behind the Awami League and the People’s Party […] and to its dismay and embarrassment finished behind the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan. The Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam even gained enough seats to serve as a partner to the National Awami Party […] in forming provincial governments in Baluchistan and North-West Frontier Province. To the Jama‘at’s surprise the two ulama parties did better than the Jama‘at, although they had contested fewer seats and received a lower percentage of votes cast. […] Where the Jama‘at had won only four seats (and none in East Pakistan), […] the ulama parties had won seven seats each. […] In contrast with the Jama‘at’s four provincial seats, the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam had won nine and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan eleven. The Jama‘at’s 6.03 percent of the votes cast in National Assembly elections had yielded only 1.3 percent of the seats, and its 3.25 percent share of the vote in provincial elections a mere 0.67 percent of the seats. […T]he Islamic parties taken together did poorly in both parts of Pakistan. This limited the political power of Islam and further constricted the Jama‘at. […] The election results dealt a severe blow to the morale of Jama‘at members. Mawdudi’s leadership was questioned, as was the party’s time-honored reliance on Islamic symbols and the putative Islamic loyalties of Pakistanis. The election results, moreover, effectively eliminated the Jama‘at as a power broker.” (Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama'at-i Islami of Pakistan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, “7. The Secular State, 1958–1971”, The elections of 1970 and their aftermath) Almost similar pattern was experienced by other rightist political parties including Muslim League, the party that claimed spearheading the political moves for the establishment of Pakistan.
Moreover, the Pakistan state found the ideological and theoretical basis of its existence was lost in the political fight as Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr writes “[t]he inability of Islam to keep the two halves of the country united”. (ibid. “8. The Bhutto Years, 1971–1977”) The developments of contradictions, and deepening of failures led to further developments or complication of contradictions as Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr describes in the following way:
“Driven by its dedication to Pakistan’s unity and unable to counter the challenge of the Awami League, the Jama‘at abandoned its role as intermediary and formed an unholy alliance with the Pakistan army, which had been sent to Dhaka to crush the Bengali nationalists. After a meeting with General Tikka Khan, the head of the army in East Pakistan, in April 1971, Ghulam A‘zam, the amir of East Pakistan, gave full support to the army’s actions against ‘enemies of Islam.’ Meanwhile, a group of Jama‘at members went to Europe to explain Pakistan’s cause and defend what the army was doing in East Pakistan; another group was sent to the Arab world, where the Jama‘at drew upon its considerable influence to gain support. In September 1971 the alliance between the Jama‘at and the army was made official when four members of the Jama‘at-i Islami of East Pakistan joined the military government of the province. Both sides saw gains to be made from their alliance. The army would receive religious sanction for its increasingly brutal campaign, and the Jama‘at would gain prominence. Its position was, in good measure, the result of decisions made by the Jama‘at-i Islami of East Pakistan, then led by Ghulam A‘zam and Khurram Jah Murad. This branch of the Jama‘at, faced with annihilation, was thoroughly radicalized, and acted with increasing independence in doing the bidding of the military regime in Dhaka. The Lahore secretariat often merely approved the lead taken by the Jama‘at and the IJT [Islami Jami‘at-i Tulabah] in Dhaka. Nowhere was this development more evident than in the IJT’s contribution to the ill-fated al-Badr and al-Shams counterinsurgency operations.” (ibid. “7. The Secular State, 1958–1971”, The elections of 1970 and their aftermath)
The reality the neocolonial state was facing surfaced forcefully, and concerned quarters were looking at roots of the reality. Citing ‘Abdu’l-Ghani Faruqi’s “Hayat-i Javidan,” (HRZ, 31) Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr mentions one of those searches:
“Since the beginning of the East Pakistan crisis, Mawdudi had claimed that the problem before the country was the product of lackluster adherence to Islam. He in fact blamed the loss of East Pakistan on Yahya Khan’s womanizing and drinking. The IJT echoed Mawdudi’s sentiments: its answer to ‘What broke up the country?’ was ‘wine’ (sharab). Some in the army apparently agreed.” (op. cit., “8. The Bhutto Years, 1971–1977”)
On the basis of an interview with lawyer S. M. Zafar Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr cites another similar evidence:
“In 1972–1973, the military high command uncovered a conspiracy […] hatched by a group junior officers, led by Brigadier F. B. ‘Ali [….] S. M. Zafar, who defended the officers in court, recollects that they believed East Pakistan had been lost because of the government’s “un-Islamic” ways and Yahya Khan’s drinking in particular.” (ibid.)
Answers to the questions cropping up from the circumstances the neocolonial state faced, thus, are abounding. But don’t the answers also create further questions for further inquiry? As, for example, picking out a few from many questions: (1) Why institutions are not stronger than personalities? (2) Is it factual that the country generally does well under authoritarian rule and, if the claim is factual, what’s the reason? (3) Why the state failed to solve the question of nationhood? (4) Why the country was without a viable government, a constitution, etc.? (5) Why the state’s official status faced contradiction? (6) Why a state failed to resist a sharab addicted womanizer in usurping the helm of the state? (7) Is sharab more powerful than political process or when does sharab turns more powerful than political process? (8) Does a person or a group of persons determine fate of a state? (9) Is the state defensible if sharab turns more powerful than political process? (10) Are these the real questions? The questions turn more complicated if one looks at the political fight within and around the state machine that was going around since April 1971, the reactions among a part of its allies, and the genocide the state was carrying on. Positions of Z A Bhutto/Pakistan People’s Party, and its competitors during those days help find the reality of political jockeying that the state was experiencing. Statements of Z A Bhutto, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Nawabjada Nasrullah Khan, Maulana Golam Gaus Hazarvi, Maulana Mufti Mahmud, Chowdhury Rahmate Elahi and other political leaders show their understanding of the situation and factional fight within the political system while the system was facing one of its most critical hours. The banning of all groups of National Awami Party and the cancellation of national awards of 32 high ranking civilian officers in 1971 are a few more evidences of the state’s vulnerabilities. There are more evidences. Even failure of a part of mainstream political leadership related to the state to foresee the coming events or the path of political developments or the destined path of the state is an important question, which haunts political scientists and politicians. The complications thicken if the scene is compared with other neocolonial states. The complication deepens if the reality or the questions are related to the Baangaalee people’s armed struggle for liberation and its victory. It was a people’s interaction/contradiction with a neocolonial state, and their way to carry forward the contradiction with the aim of liberation. Throughout the entire course of incidents/development the Baangaalee people appeared as the hero of history, which was blindly ignored by a part of the mainstream politics of those days although this principal character of history – the Baangaalee people – shaped political destiny of many. Actions by the people were impacting not only destiny of their land, but politics of other countries, Cold War days-super power relationships, etc. also. It was a unique moment in the life of the Bangladesh people. There were dynamics, equations, momentum, relations, speed and velocity. Hence, for furthering people’s political participation/activism, and for learning, the issue demands study.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


EDUCATION market in Bangladesh deserves ‘thanks’ for its exhibition of a part of its power with anomaly and tyranny. The market does not care about common benefits. It moves and it demolishes dignity of teachers and dream of young learners. It laughs in the face of the powerless, the citizens without money power.
Two recent incidents in the Bangladesh education area is a show of the relevant market: the issue of the university teachers’ dignity and the recently concluded admission tests for medical and dental colleges. With this show, it exposes the fact that market does not favour the weak, the underprivileged, the people without purchasing capacity.   Bangladesh university teachers are demanding dignity. To have dignity in this society, it seems, one has to demand in a loud voice; otherwise, the question of dignity goes ignored. It is a show of real economy with its power of dominance. The dominance is such that it does not recognise the dignity of teachers; teachers are to demand it; they are to demand it repeatedly. The dominance unveils its sense of dignity.
The economy is so efficient and powerful that it feels confident with its way of bestowing dignity proportionately or without proportion on different parts of the broader society. The economy is so arrogant with its dominance that it can ignore the question of the dignity of teachers. It is its face. It does not care about the dignity of others. It cares about its dominance. It cares about its dominance in a foolish way.
It does not know that Alexander reproached the members of his suite as those ugly devils began to make fun with the philosopher Diogenes, and then, Alexander said: ‘If I were not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes.’ Alexander had not only muscle power. There was brain power also.
On the contrary, the dominance, it seems, relies on muscle power. It is a power to dominate the weak, the silent. And, it is a power of the weak. Hence, seemingly scholarly opinions shamelessly search and fail to find ‘bargaining chip’ of the Bangladesh university teachers as the teachers raised their voice for dignity and the opinion was entertained by a few others including media outlet considered respectable.
It is a show of scholarship on which the dominance depends. It can move with this level of knowledge. It does not need other level of knowledge.
Economy in England required an appropriate level of the knowledge of science, philosophy, history, politics, technology for its own sake as it was extracting resources from beneath the earth, transporting goods in huge quantities, encroaching on land, pushing out peasants from land, enslaving thousands in industrial centres, securing interests tied to the resources. Appropriate philosophy and literature cropped up. France had, broadly, the same history: Requirements in economy generated appropriate scholarship, logic, arguments. Hence, there is Rousseau, there is Robespierre. Material production demanded the scholarship.
There were social requirements. These pushed forward science and technology. Science was turned into productive force. There was class struggle. This, at times, turned direct, fierce, powerful. These advanced knowledge. Ideas emerged and evolved. A few lost relevance while a few proved as essential. The complex process required knowledge as issues like rates of profit, accumulation, surplus value, and crisis and decline were encountered. The complex process required violence and restraint, law to protect property, and coercion to impose law. Market was playing its game with its level of scholarship.
Bangladesh finds an education market; not a small in size within Bangladesh reality. ‘Money’ involved in note book/guide book business is a small part of the market. Its business connection is wide.
 ‘Money’ involved in note book/guide book business is a small part of the market. Its business connection is wide.
‘Money’ involved in note book/guide book business is a small part of the market. Its business connection is wide.
There are bigger organisations involved with the market encompassing an area from primary to higher education. It goes to collaboration with organisations from other countries. There are recruiting/admission centres, local centres delivering parts of course of centres claiming to be educational from other countries, regular events organised for admission in organisations claiming to be educational from other countries, diplomatic support to these marketing approaches.
There are private organisations that train children handwriting as if never in this land none learnt handwriting in primary schools. A few very costly and luxurious schools are emerging that are catering to a very minor group of the rich of the country. People claiming to be teachers are imported for these schools.
A lot of these go beyond public view and scrutiny. The issues of transparency and accountability in this area are daydreams. Even, a complete account of these is almost impossible to find out. Here, in this article, it is a very sketchy description of the business, which can produce a very long list.
At the same time, the Bangladesh journalists regularly digs out stories of ‘from zero to hero’ — a lorry driver or a petty thief active in a city market place turns millionaire without any investment within a few years, wields wide power based on connections, terrorises a population in an area, and amasses a huge property. A Dhaka gang of pickpockets regularly spent a few hundreds of thousands of takas for travelling to Saudi Arabia during the holy Hajj with the plan of pick-pocketing the honourable hajis, Hajj performers. The gang has recently been apprehended. It is an international pick-pocketing operation! The multi-level marketing scam is a repeated incident. The total amount of these scams over the years is huge in terms of Bangladesh economy. The stories of other loots — from nature, banks, public property, property of individuals from weaker parts of society, from consumers of public utilities, hardware and software projects — are much narrated as are the stories of speculation, black marketeering, smuggling. These are related to the stock market of Bangladesh variation, essential commodities, agro-products, valuable metals and drugs. Together they make a size to be ‘appreciated’. [Appropriation of surplus value is not considered here.]
What happens to these ‘monies’? What connections do these build up? What are the areas and organisations these ‘monies’ infiltrate? How these ‘monies’ behave? What senses do these ‘monies’ own? What influences do these ‘monies’ spread across organisations, masses and culture?
The way and the amount of the ‘generation’ of these ‘monies’ astonish many traders, many manufacturers, many service providers, and many industrialists in Bangladesh. It takes an ‘astonishing’ shape and character as these ‘monies’ metamorphoses and enters into the broader economy that includes manufacturing, processing, etc. Culture, institutions and politics in all areas of public life cannot stay beyond it. The required ideology is framed accordingly and appropriately. Formal and dominant education is part of the ideology.
The pattern, the character of dominance that thus gets shaped, gathers energy in market — a region of tyranny. Education cannot escape the forces in the market once it is brought to market for trading. Honour, dignity, merit, labour, all are traded and subordinated to the market where only profit dominates and profit belongs to the powerful. This finds the more the power, the higher the dignity; the more the ‘money’, the higher the honour; the more the ‘money’ power, the more the ‘merit’. The merit as an output of labour falls down on dust — it is pushed back as ‘money’ owners purchase meritorious positions. It is part of the market’s manipulation. Merit produced with ceaseless hard labour haplessly is thrown out of market as the ‘money’ ‘germinated’ through the process mentioned above does not require scientific knowledge for a time being, and at initial stage. It can carry on its business — loot, etc. — with the ‘merit’ without merit. Even, trading with seats of merit is a lucrative business for it.
A comparison makes it easy to comprehend the lucrative business: The time and effort required to introduce or to import a technology in agriculture, in garment factory, in market place, in public education area, and the time required for ‘innovation’ of transmitting answers in a recently held admission test and the device used for conducting the smart business. The device, as media reports cited an official concerned, is a hearing machine small enough to hide inside ear and it was imported. The official concerned is not that irresponsible that he will concoct a device gossip.
What is the price of the device? What is the total amount of money required for entering into the deal for admission — getting answers in an admission test for a slot in a medical or dental college. Getting such a slot is a young learner’s dream nourished for years? How many months’ labour of an ordinary wage earner is required for earning that amount of money required to enter into the deal for admission — Tk 6,00,000 to Tk 1.5 million? How many ordinary persons can afford that amount? Who can afford that? The takawala, the rich, can afford the amount of money. An ordinary wage earner of Bangladesh in a far away land toiling under hard working condition has to forgo a few months’, and for many, years’, wage or savings.
Two aspects emerge from the, let it name, device deal: (1) the poor, meritorious gets kicked out; and (2) the broader society has to bear the burden of corrupt, non-merit. On the one hand, inequality widens and consolidates; and on the other, society suffers and is going to be suffered. However, the rich, the corrupt, the powerful entering into the device deal reaps benefits. Thus, it stands as, a few money-powered benefits at the cost of many weak, poor citizens.
This biased reality, a corruption of reality, does not go for the dignity of teachers as the money power dominating the reality considers that money is dignity, power is dignity, everything is purchasable, merit does not matter. Goodwill and intervention of an individual leader or a group of leaders may redress the dignity issue as the aggrieved group raised the issue of indignity, but the reality of increasing inequality persists. It persists because of the character of the ‘money’ involved. With this persistence, the ‘money’ involved confirms its harmful role, and creates rational for making it irrelevant.
The students and guardians demanding redress of their grievances related to the admission test, thus, stand as part of discontent that the ‘money’ concerned creates. The discontent can be ignored temporarily but cannot be wiped out. Instead of getting wiped out, it will silently creep in and turn powerful until redressed properly. The placards that the students held during their recent protest near the National Press Club in Dhaka read: Jadi habe prashna fans, keno parba bara mas (Why shall I study round-the-year if the admission question paper is leaked), and Taka achhe bap-dadar, medical naki chorakarbar (Parents have money, probably the medical admission exam is a black marketeering). The slogans are a rejection of the money power that corrupts reality, increases and confirms irresponsible ‘money’s’ harmful role. It will impact deeply and negatively as young learners’ yearning for justice shall not go in vain.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Ambiguity: The Case Of Democracy

The Great Financial Crisis, the Occupy Wall Street rising, Wikileaks and Snowden exposure, imperialist interventions in Iraq-Libya-Syria, the economic-political developments in Greece, and the on-going string of revelations in the US politics take away all ambiguities related to democracy, development and state. With broad and fundamental connections and character the incidents and processes – parts of democracy and development – being witnessed by the contemporary world are significant with far-reaching implications, and helpful to comprehend issues of democracy, development and state.
No ambiguity: Ambiguous and confusing narratives of democracy and development are vigorously sold in markets despite the reality of repeated exposures by the merciless incidents and processes mentioned above. However, the time is still dominated by the forces that try to benefit from confusion they create. Now-a-days even the conservatives like to “challenge the status quo”. Carly Fiorina, a runner for the Republican presidential nomination in the US, expressed similar views while she was discussing her foreign policy expertise in the first debate in early-August. (The Washington Post, August 9, 2015, “Distinguished pol of the week”) Isn’t the tact uncovered?
With the same tact, a part of academia and media massively and persistently propagate (1) democracy and capitalism are synonymous, (2) democracy is the normal and natural political form of capitalism, (3) democracy can’t be conceived without capitalism, (4) democracy is an integral part of capitalism, and (5) the issue of development conceived within capitalism can ensure people’s interests, their entitlements, their empowerment, their freedom of choice. Their propaganda tries to show:
(1) democracy is class-neutral;
(2) its universal form fits all societies, economies and interests of all classes: and
(3) the issue of development can be perceived and implemented without taking into consideration the issues related to class and class conflicts within a political system including democracy.
But variations in democracy don’t support the propaganda. The bourgeois democracy is fully exposed today with the political developments in the advanced bourgeois democracies. Former US president Jimmy Carter’s response to a question about his opinion on the US Supreme Court’s decisions in the 2010 Citizens United and the 2014 McCutcheon that allows pouring of unlimited secret money including foreign money into US political and judicial campaigns tells a lot about the type and character of the democracy.
The former US president said: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and US Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.” (The Thom Hartmann Program, Jimmy Carter’s interview, July 28, 2015) Any careful reader in any peripheral society will see the same image around.
The US “story” was started long ago. Charles Austin Beard’s illustrious book An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States says: “The economic corollary of this system is as follows: Property interests may, through their superior weight in power and intelligence, secure advantageous legislation whenever necessary, and they may at the same time obtain immunity from control by parliamentary majorities.” (ch. VI, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1921) Beard’s survey of the “distribution of economic power in the US in 1787 and property holdings of every delegate to the Constitutional Convention of that year led him to conclude that at least five-sixths of the delegates stood to gain personally from the adoption of the constitution, mainly because it would protect the public credit and raise the value of the public securities they held.” (“Beard, Charles A.,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 1968) Chapter V, “The Economic Interests of the Members of the Convention”, of the book presents the survey in detail and says: “The overwhelming majority of members, at least fifth-sixths, were immediately, directly, and personally interested in the outcome of their labors at Philadelphia, and were to a greater or less extent economic beneficiaries from the adoption of the Constitution.”
The next chapter “The Constitution as an Economic Document” says: “[T]he concept of the Constitution as a piece of abstract legislation reflecting no group interests and recognizing no economic antagonisms is entirely false. It was an economic document drawn with superb skill by men whose property interests were immediately at stake …”
“At the close of [the] long and arid survey” that he conducted his conclusions include:

“No popular vote was taken directly or indirectly on the proposition to call the Convention which drafted the Constitution.
“A large propertyless mass was, under the prevailing suffrage qualifications, excluded at the outset from participation (through representatives) in the work of framing the Constitution.
“The members of the Philadelphia Convention which drafted the Constitution were, with a few exceptions, immediately, directly, and personally interested in, and derived economic advantages from, the establishment of the new system.
“In the ratification of the Constitution, about three-fourths of the adult males failed to vote on the question … either on account of their indifference or their disfranchisement by property qualifications.
“The Constitution was ratified by a vote of probably not more than one-sixth of the adult males.
“The Constitution was not created by ‘the whole people’ as the jurists have said …”
Now, there’s the famous study in the US: “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” by Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, in Perspectives on Politics, the journal of the American Political Science Association [Vol. 12, Issue 03, September 2014 doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595.]. Their multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impact on policy of US government while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
The study results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination (EED) and for theories of Biased Pluralism (BP), but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy (MED) or Majoritarian Pluralism (MP). The empirical study, first of its kind in social sciences in the US, found: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” The study said: “The preferences of economic elites (as measured by the [study] proxy, the preferences of ‘affluent’ citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do.”
The scientists tested, first of this type, each of the four theoretical traditions – EED, BP, MED and MP – in the study of US politics. Until recently it was not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. They used a unique data set that included measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues during the study period 1981-2002.
The study findings indicate: “In the United States … the majority does not rule – at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.” [emphasis in the original] The research essay concluded with the following sentence: “[W]e believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.” [Are peripheral societies free of this observation?]
Recent findings and incidents show the advanced democracy today is much in favor of the propertied minority classes than those days. A close look at the US politics, especially elections in the political system takes away all confusion, and supports the above claim.
Advanced capitalist democracies are appropriate cases for debate on the issue of democracy today as democracies in variations in the periphery actually are under-developed that make the debate on bourgeois democracy inconclusive. Moreover, democracy or similar systems and arrangements in peripheral societies without experiencing bourgeois revolution or its type, and without developing their political arrangements and institutions are not comparable to advanced bourgeois democracy.
Hotchpotch business: There is lumpenocracy or lumpen-democracy, democracy for lumpen interests, characterized by immaturity, inefficiency, near-to-absolute dependency, unaware about self-interest, incapable of even carrying out its businesses with bourgeois tact, utterly unstable – sometimes behaving to a standard below medieval level including carrying out medieval style assassinations, murders and palace-conspiracies, sometimes taking moves that “strangely” touch the level of maturity but always lurk near the border of failure, always engaged with suicidal factional fights, always fighting for legitimacy but de-legitimating ruling machine, failing to secure institutions/machine for class rule, sporadically resorting to populist measures. Lumpenocracies also are not the samples to study bourgeois democracy. Deliberations within lumpenocracies, especially within its legislative and other branches of its government most of the time provide a picture of a reality which is worse than a hotchpotch business, worse than to be despised.
Many tags: Donor-driven/designed democracy (DDD), which is funded by the so-called donors, and is part of low-intensity conflict, and intervention-democracy (ID), and non-neutral position of these arrangements are starkly evident in countries that are experiencing or have already experienced these. American Democracy Promotion: Impulses, Strategies and Impacts (Michael Cox, G John Ikenberry and Takashi Inoguchi (ed.), Oxford University Press, 2002) discusses the DDD. These two types of democracies, DDD and ID, a lot other tags these carry, are not only for the peripheral countries. These have been/are being implemented in near-center countries also.
A group of theoreticians try to classify democracies into liberal and illiberal types, which don’t show the class character of these systems. Democracies considered liberal behave in illiberal way in actual terms whenever it feels the demand. In countries, political system considered liberal didn’t/don’t hesitate for a moment to resort to brutal repression and encroachment of minimum available, if any, democratic space for people, an illiberal act, whenever the interests felt threatened. These “liberal” systems don’t shy away from illiberal acts or being characterized as tyrannical. Recent exposures, and a careful examination of the systems claimed to be liberal democracy show the illiberal character of these systems. No democracy claimed to be liberal has behaved in liberal way whenever it has faced a situation that it considered to be threatening to its power, authority and interests. Each of these democracies supports respective interests, constituencies, classes and factions within these classes/interests. Citing cases from Latin America Andre Gunder Frank writes: “[T]hese very liberals were the first to resort to repressive measures and even to military dictatorship to serve their economic interests. Such was the course of events in Porfirian Mexico, in the ‘banana republics’ of Central America, and in the sugar producing countries of the Caribbean.” (Lumpenbourgeoisie: Lumpendevelopment, 1974) In Asia, similar cases are many. Europe and North America are not free from the style.
Transitional: Peoples’ struggles in countries have helped emerge types of democracies which are transitional and experimental in character, and are defined in different ways. These include, as Leslie Sklair mentions in “The Transition from Capitalist Globalization to Socialist Globalization” (Journal of Democratic Socialism, 1 (1), 2011), and Nadia Johanisova and Stephan Wolf mention in “Economic democracy: A path for the future” (Futures, vol. 44, issue 6, August 2012), economic democracy that brings private firms, or “the economy” under democratic public control, producer-consumer cooperatives playing a role in the generation, allocation and mobilization of resources, regulation of market mechanisms and corporate activities, support for social enterprises, democratic money creation processes, reclaiming the commons, redistribution of income and capital assets; social democracy, as Atilio A Boron discusses in “The Truth About Capitalist Democracy” (Socialist Register, 52, 2006) and Kathi Weeks discusses in The Problem with Work (Duke University Press, London, 2011), which along with regular election and popular participation in decision making process ensures universal access to employment, basic income, housing, health and educational services, and better living standard. The economic democracy, as Boron cites Gøsta Esping Andersen’s argument, “strengthens the worker and debilitates the absolute authority of the employers”. There’s political democracy, as Patrick Heller discusses in “Moving the State: The Politics of Democratic Decentralization in Kerala, South Africa, and Porto Alegre” (Politics and Society, vol. 29, no. 1, March 2001) that tries to find out effective ways for popular participation in decision making process, political representation and division of powers. Ben Selwyn refers a number of these in The Global Development Crisis. Ben Selwyn also mentions electoral democracy that regularly holds elections “but only acts to fill the posts of executive and legislative functions of the state who then serve ‘market forces’.” Noam Chomsky in Deterring Democracy (Verso, London 1991) describes the arrangement as “Low Intensity Democracy”.
All these and other systems and arrangements, with whatever nomenclature these are identified, show a single fact: Democracy as all other political systems is neither free from class contradictions nor class-neutral as all these move along respective class-line, as all these are/were designed to serve class interests and ensure class dominance.
Historical period & institutions: The system – democracy – does not transcend specific characteristics of historical periods. “[I]n order to be meaningful, discussions of democratic [and developmental] prospects … require a real grasp of the historically generated and limited situation.”(Bill Freund, “The weight of history: Prospects for democratisation in South Africa”, in Jonathan Hyslop (ed.) African Democracy in the Era of Globalisation, University of the Witwatersrand Press, Johannesburg, 1999, cited in David Moore, “Zimbabwe 1997-2007: A democracy of diminished expectations or
- Toward a political economy of renewal?”, October 24, 2007; also in David Moore, “The Weight of History, a Broad Sense of the Possible: Economic History, Development Studies, Political Economy and Bill Freund”, African Studies, Lance van Siddert and David Moover, eds., spl. issue, “Festschrift for Bill Freund”, 65, 1, July 2006)
There’s no single, universal design of democracy that fits all societies, countries and all regions of the world with their respective historical phases, levels/stages of development, all classes and class alignments in the societies. This fact invalidates (1) intervention- and donor-driven/designed democracies in societies, and (2) perception or thesis that a particular type of democracy in a particular society is the standard or yardstick for all societies.
Institutions embedded in interests of non-people sector of society neither serve democracy of people nor development for people; but the institutions don façade of equity, equality and democracy, which are mostly misunderstood, confused by a part in society, and are sold among people by another part. The later part’s stupidity and shallow statements come to light gradually. Moreover, institutions carry mark, characteristics, limitations of historical period. At times, institutions starkly show their incapability to carry forward, materialize and safeguard people’s rights, interests, struggles for a humane life. This nullifies the institutions, and the time delivers historical verdict: ignore the institutions incapable to carry forward people’s interests, set aside the incapable institutions, replace the institutions with appropriate institutions, and thus a rationale for radical change is constructed.
These – the historical phase and institutions – are integral part of the questions of democracy and development in all societies. Mere slogans, and absence of critical analysis of these – institutions, historical perspective, etc. – don’t facilitate charting path to democracy and humane development as humane development requires humane institutions at all levels.
Political system crops up from economy, and economic system can’t operate without social relations. “[T]here is not an economic system that operates without being under any social relations. Thus, it makes no sense if we talk about the rationality and viability of an economic system without considering the context of social relations. For example, given the capitalist social relations, productive forces can be developed only if the capitalists are allowed to exploit the workers, and consequently only the economic system that allows the capitalists to exploit the workers can be ‘rational and viable’. This certainly does not suggest that what is ‘rational and viable’ for capitalism is also ‘rational and viable’ for any other society. On the contrary, capitalist exploitation, by repressing the creativity of working people, is a great obstacle to the development of productive forces.” (Li Minqi, Capitalist Development and Class Struggles in China, Amherst, US)
Democracy isn’t a system, which is free from an economic system, is not a system, which can roam freely without taking into account its masters’ desires, and no economic system is not without social relations; and these in turn, shape the character of a democracy – who’s served, who’s safeguarded, whose rule prevails. This contention is not limited at national level only. Rather, this should be applied at regional, local and community levels, and in all types and forms of institutions and organizations including cooperatives, educational institutions, project implementation committees or bodies, water control structure management/maintenance bodies, NGO-organized and microcredit-driven groups, etc. also. This all encompassing view provides a more realistic, full picture of democracy in a society. The full picture helps perceive the type, character and ownership of democracy, and its role – effective or ineffective – in the area for development in the society.
Absence of an all encompassing view, focusing on only a particular area, narrowing down on only top and ignoring the ground or base is nothing but hypocrisy, nothing but turning into ally of the system, and nothing but exposing self-identity – cohort of the system. Absence of specific programs for all these – democracy and democratization at all levels and in all institutions and organizations – make demand for democracy a script for a comedy. All discussions on democracy turn into idiotic slogans and statements, and fail to design a system capable of delivering a humane development if these aspects are not considered while trying to build up a system named democracy or extending support to a system claiming to be democracy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Blackmailing Bankers Now Stage A Coup In Greece

Strangulated Greece now experiences a coup by blackmailing bankers. It’s a show of bankers’ democracy, a worst form of democracy in the Age of Crises. It’s an invasion by bankers.
Honorable bankers have imposed their demands on the people in Greece. It’s their reciprocal democratic measure to the Greek people’s practice with democracy. They love to humiliate people, they love to wreck countries, they love to pauperize people. These acts make them rich and powerful.
The conditions imposed on Greece are already public. It’s a regime of measures aimed at punishing the Greek people, hurting their honor. The bankers are laughing with the pride of powerful: We can do whatever we want.
Casting away all veils of shame and hypocrisy they demanded Greek public property worth billions of dollars to be placed outside of Greece. There was a suggestion that $56 billion (about 50 billion euros) of Greek public assets be placed in an independent trust based in Luxembourg, which would be out of reach of Greek politicians, the proceeds of which from privatizations would go directly to pay off debts. An appropriate bankers’ proposal! The arrogant bankers don’t bother the way their demand actually takes shape: A robbery. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has said: We averted the transfer of public property abroad, we averted the plan to cause a credit crunch and the collapse of the financial system.”
The 17-hour Brussels-bargaining shows very significant parts of a part of the world capitalism and a few facts:

1. Division within the bankers’ camp.
2. Weakness and vulnerabilities within the camp.
3. Vulnerability of the eurozone project.
4. The bankers’ brutal character.
5. The bankers’ intolerance with people’s verdict.
6. Democracy is not universal. There are bankers’ democracy and people’s democracy. Bankers’ democracy is dictatorial in case of people. Bankers’ democracy now dictates the legislative assembly of Greece. A flagrant violation. But the bourgeois democratic world doesn’t find there any trampling of democracy.
7. Limit of bourgeois democracy is narrowing down in the Age of Crisis.
8. Sovereignty of countries is defined and demarcated by bankers. Sovereign power of legislative assembly? Bankers don’t bother with it. They need money.
9. There are limit to powers of bankers. They can’t demolish all resistances. They can’t stand slightest resistance. Resistance with a politically aware, organized people under the guidance of a matured leadership and with united front is invincible.
10. Its geopolitical aspect is very significant.
The bankers had to make compromise. It was difficult for them to reach a compromise. They also had to cede a space: A 95 billion dollars (86 billion euros) aid to Greece in the next three years to keep the eurozone intact, to keep Greece within the eurozone.
The hashtag #ThisIsACoup, says an AFP report, is now trending widely among users of internet in Greece, France, Germany and Britain. They claim: “Greece was effectively being stripped of fiscal sovereignty.”
According to the AFP report KostasKainakis, a marketing lecturer in Athens comments: “Germany is destroying Europe once again”. From Britain, AllanSkerratt, a non-partisan retired soldier and ex-teacher opines: “The Germans could not do it with tanks so now they try it with banks [and are] trying to STEAL Greek assets BrITS MUST vote to get out”. Barbara Lochbihler, a member of the European Parliament for Germany’s Greens party, tweets: “They talk about trust. Only to draft a proposal that is pure humiliation. Brilliant idea.” Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist, writes: “The trending hashtag #ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief.” “It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.”
It was a bitter struggle in Brussels. There were extreme conservative forces bent on humiliating and punishing Greece for the weak economy’s stand with dignity. Tsipras said: “We found ourselves before difficult decisions, tough dilemmas. We took the responsibility of the decision in order to avert the implementation of the more extreme aims of conservative circles in the European Union.” Nikos Filis, the parliamentary spokesman for the Syriza, said on ANT1 TV Monday: Greece is being “waterboarded” by eurozone leaders. He accused Germany of “tearing Europe apart” for the third time in the past century. The observation tells the weakness within the eurozone. It’s not the German strength; it’s the strength of bankers as they fear their weakness that they like to hide with their show of strength.
A part of the Greek people’s struggle has come to a point. The episode – fight the bankers’ blackmailing and coup – is political. Its financial and economic aspects will appear in a meaningful way if its political aspect is not missed. It’s bankers’ politics. It’s bankers reign. The bankers’ politics is to be faced with people’s politics. People’s solidarity movement in countries should be widened. Bankers reign should be exposed. The most valuable lesson of the incident is political, the question of democracy. The relation between democracy and economy, and control on economy and politics are to be highlighted among the citizens.
It was a steadfast fight waged by the people in Greece although a part of mainstream media is propagating the deal as capitulation. But they deny admitting that the extreme conservative forces within the EU failed to move with their design: Grexit. They know their weak spot. Next time, the people will stand again with the lessons learned. There is possibility that the awakening will be in countries in Europe. Spain is already experiencing the trend.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blackmailing By Bankers: People In Greece Are Going For Referendum

People in Greece are going to referendum on July 5 to deliver their verdict on the question: Shall bankers be allowed to blackmail or no?
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has proposed the referendum on the Eurogroup’s austerity proposals.
In an address to the nation, Tsipras referred to the Eurogroup’s proposals with an ultimatum as blackmail-ultimatum, and said: “To this blackmail-ultimatum, for the acceptance on our part of a strict and humiliating austerity (proposal), and with no end to it in sight nor with the prospect of allowing us to ever stand on our feet economically or socially, I call upon you to decide sovereignly and proudly, as the history of Greeks dictates.”
Tsipras’ address presented in brief the background of the creditors’ acts:
“For the past six months the Greek government has been giving battle in conditions of unprecedented economic asphyxiation, to implement your mandate, of Jan. 25. It was a mandate to negotiate with our partners to end austerity and to restore prosperity and social justice to our country.
“(It was) for a viable agreement which would respect both democracy, common European rules and would lead to a definitive exit from the crisis.
“Throughout this negotiation period, we were asked to adopt bailout agreements which were agreed with previous governments, even though these were categorically condemned by the Greek people in the recent elections.
“But we did not, even for a moment, contemplate yielding. That is, to effectively betray your own trust.
“After five months of tough negotiations our partners, unfortunately, concluded at the Eurogroup the day before last with a proposal, an ultimatum, to the Hellenic Republic and the Greek people.
“An ultimatum which contravenes the founding principles and values of Europe. The value of our common European structure.”
Rumors of surrender by and skepticism about Tsipras’ and the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ position were spread over the last few months. There was planned propaganda to ridicule them. A part of mainstream media showed its taste as it tried to mock and vilify Varoufakis.
But it appears, unprincipled compromise has still not been made. On the contrary, theirs is a position of upholding the interests of the people of Greece.
Tsipras’ address details the bankers’ blackmailing proposals:
“The Greek government was asked to accept a proposal which accumulates unbearable new burdens on the Greek people and undermines the recovery of Greek society and its economy, not only maintaining uncertainty, but by amplifying social imbalances even further.
“The proposals of the institutions include measures which lead to a further detribalization of the labor market, pension cutbacks, new reductions in public sector salaries and an increase in VAT on food, eateries and tourism, with an elimination of tax breaks on the islands.”
A statement by Varoufakis makes it clear. “Over the past days and weeks”, said Varoufakis in an interview, “the Greek government has been making concessions continuously. Unfortunately, every time we make a concession and we get three quarters of the way, the institutions do the exact opposite, they toughen their stance.” On another occasion, he said Greece has bent over backwards in order to accommodate strange demands of the creditors. He was talking to Irish radio station RTE.
The situation led the Church of Greece to appeal to all concerned: “[W]ith enlightenment by Our Lord Jesus that it is possible to find a mutually accepted solution.”
But the creditors’ hearts are enlightened only by money, not by the Lord Jesus. Creditors not only want flesh; blood, heart and the whole body and soul are their demand. Panos Skourletis, the Greek minister for labor, said: Every time we are about to reach a solution they come and say bring some more pensioners to execute.

The Greek prime minister, in his address, identified the creditors’ proposal:
“These proposals clearly violate European social rules and fundamental rights to work, equality and to dignity, proving that the aim of some partners and institutions was not a viable and beneficial agreement for all sides, but the humiliation of the entire Greek people.
“These proposals prove the fixation, primarily of the International Monetary Fund, to tough and punitive austerity.”
So, the all-powerful IMF is there with its cruelty, with its indifference to life and dignity of people.
But Tsipras’ position is the opposite of the IMF as he addressed the people:
“My fellow Greeks, we are now burdened with the historic responsibility, (in homage to) to the struggles of the Hellenic people, to enshrine democracy and our national sovereignty.
“It is a responsibility to the future of our country. And that responsibility compels us to answer to this ultimatum based on the will of the Greek people.”
After concluding the inconclusive negotiation with the Euro bosses the Greek prime minister returned home, convened meeting of the Greek cabinet, and suggested the “referendum for the Greek people to decide in sovereignty.” The suggestion was unanimously accepted by the cabinet. Within a short time, he addressed the nation. The cabinet decided to ratify the July 5 referendum proposal in the plenary of the Greek parliament.
The referendum will pose the question of the acceptance or rejection of the proposal by the institutions. Even, before addressing the people, Tsipras communicated the Greek cabinet’s decision to the French president, the German chancellor and the ECB president. The Greek prime minister informed: “[T]omorrow in correspondence to the EU leaders and institutions I will formally request a few days extension of the (bailout) program so the Greek people can decide, free of pressure or coercion, as is dictated by the Constitution of our country and the democratic tradition of Europe.”
So, the move is clean, transparent and fair. There’s no ambiguity, no backdoor deal, no attempt to keep people in dark. Tsipras’ address to the nation emphasizes a number of issues relevant not only to Greece, but also to other countries facing the world masters, bank bosses. He said:
“My fellow Greeks,
“To this autocratic and harsh austerity, we should respond with democracy, with composure and decisiveness.
“Greece, the cradle of democracy, should send a strong democratic answer to Europe and the world community.
“I am absolutely certain your choice will honor the history of our country, and send a message of dignity to the whole world.”
It’s the message of democracy and dignity, which is sold out by leadership, lackey in character, in countries although democracy and dignity are the “tools” to fight command, dictation, and authoritarian rule of the world bosses.
Emphasis on people, sovereignty and dignity is clearly spelled out as Tsipras addressed the Greek people:
“I call upon you all to take the decisions worthy of us.
“For us, future generations, for the history of Greeks.
“For the sovereignty and dignity of our people.”
In the struggle for building up a prosperous life, for asserting rights over public properties and defending those, dignity and democracy are the cornerstones. For building up a prosperous life for the people, claiming public properties are essential as essential is asserting the rights with the sense of dignity. In today’s world, two trends are visible: undignified acts by a group of political leadership in a group of countries, and strivings for a dignified life by another group. Today’s Greece teaches dignity. It shames those political leaders without any sense of shame. Sense of dignity tells not to capitulate. It tells not to surrender people’s sovereign space. It’s one of the essential elements in the struggle against usurpers of public resources. Greece is showing this still.
In the case of Greece, Tsipras’, Varoufakis’ and their comrades’ stand is significant in two ways:
(1) In this Greece, bankers dictated and successfully made a regime change. In this Greece, bankers imposed whatever they liked. And, in this Greece, Tsipras, Varoufakis, the Spartan finance minister, and their comrades are standing on people’s mandate; they are bargaining on the strength of people’s mandate; they are going back to people to review their mandate through the proposed referendum. Bankers have not succeeded in toppling Tsipras and his comrades still.
(2) In the countries with austerity-bitten people, the struggle Greece is waging today will have implications. One of the implications will be political. Another will be in mass-psyche. The rest implications include lesson for a part of political leadership in those countries.
Bankers will also learn from a political leadership’s practice with democracy and dignity. Their first attempt will be to subvert similar leadership and politics in the austerity-battered countries.
Greece, it’s hoped, will be studied by political scientists as incidents in and related to the country are connected to a number of aspects of bourgeois democracy, state and people. A few limits, connections, roles are starkly visible. The incidents are not limited within its borders. This perspective generates serious questions.
The compromise question needs emphasis. Possibilities of compromises are always there. Compromises vary on the basis of principled stand, and its opposite. Limitations of circumstance compel, at times, to compromise. Sweeping comments regarding compromise, as adventurism resorts to, leads to a wrong place: isolation from friends, all sorts of inactivity but slogan-mongering, misleading people, and handing over opportunity to foe. In today’s Greece, both examples are present.
Moves by Tsipras, Varoufakis and their comrades are an example of political fight. The people are also participating in the fight. It’s an example of political fight against bankers. It’s meaningful. It’s meaningful as it’s Greece. Its past, history, present, its types of relation with bankers over times, its geopolitical position, size of the economy, Greece, and power of the parties on the other side of negotiation table make the ongoing Greek incidents meaningful.
The developments show it’s not possible by masters to intervene all the time or any time, and it’s not always possible to confuse people. Still the Greek people have not sent their trust to masters’ vault. It’s a lesson for people of other countries.
In an interview to the German radio station Deutschlandfunk the European commissioner for energy Gunther Oettinger warned: Greece may be forced out of the Eurozone, unless the Greek government and its creditors can reach an agreement by the end of the month.
But, from his end, the Greek prime minister clearly conveyed his message on the Euro position:
“In these crucial hours, we must all remember Europe is the common home of its people. There are no owners or guests in Europe.
“Greece is, and will remain an indispensable part of Europe and Europe an indispensable part of Greece. But Greece without democracy is a Europe without identity or a compass.”
Euro bosses will not lend their ears to this assertion: “Greece without democracy is a Europe without identity or a compass”. But the people of Europe should stand to defend democracy in Greece as it will be a part of defending democracy in home. And, brutal austerity-dictation by authoritarian bank bosses can be fought out with democracy only.
With the message, Tsipras is standing for Europe, a democratic Europe, the Europe bankers fear as democratic practice always stands as a bulwark against authoritarian rule. Bankers’ choice is a docile, fragmented Europe, a Europe to be ruled only by bankers. Tsipras has signaled: Leaving Europe is not the choice of Greece. The crisis that bankers have created is, as Tsipras said, “threatening the future of European unification.”
More interesting incidents are going to happen in Europe, and in Greece, the economy 2 percent of the eurozone and smaller than a number of cosmopolitan cities in the world metropolis. There’s a deadline now: June 30, payment of euro 1.6 billion to IMF.