14 thoughts on “Some pictures from Occupy the World”

    1. This is Kafila, a site run by people who still think socialism is a wonderful form of government, despite all evidence to the contrary. Also, you can either have full blown socialism, or US style robber baron capitalism with absolutely no hope for a middle path.

      India and America are at diametrically opposite ends – the former has way too much government control and mindless worship of the useless ideology of socialism, while the latter’s government has all but been taken over by lobbyists determined to get rid of the little regulation that does exist.

      We could use some of the Tea Party rhetoric ourselves, and they could use a dose of Sonia Gandhi-Congress or West Bengal ‘frozen in time for 30 years’ style socialism.

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      1. And this is Rex who has it all figured out. 500 ml of Capitalism and 250 gram Socialism is what the doctor ordered. Who needs what, no need to analyse, just ask Rex !

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        1. It is unscientific to make prediction based on a theory without its experimental verification. Carl Marx was undoubtedly a great scholar and economics theoretician. His model of government and society was experimented all around the world. The results are now known. If Marx is considered a scholar, but not a prophet, then one must draw conclusions based on the experiments done in many countries, as it failed every where. Rex is apparently just pointing out to that fact.

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      2. @Iqbal – It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, if you have anything other than sarcasm to offer, I’ll be glad to discuss.

        @Ram Darshan Sharma: One of the claims by Marx and others was that socialism is ‘inevitable’, and that eventually all government would ‘wither away’. There is no scientific basis for such predictions, and without a time machine you cannot even verify the outcome.
        Socialism simply does not take into account basic human nature- to look out for one’s own. Every country under socialism or communism wound up like Animal Farm– with a ruling elite who lorded it over the proles. So much for dictatorship of the proletariat – it’s just a dictatorship.
        Not that capitalism has had a better run, but as Churchill is supposed to have said, it sure is better than the alternatives.

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  1. The successes of communism are well-known – millions killed in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, invariably leading to a system of oppression with no civil rights for its hapless denizens.

    But in any case, my point was – what does Iran surrounded by the American war machine have to do with capitalism? That is a staggering logical leap.

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  2. And I suppose capitalism, with starving millions and irreparable ecological damage has succeeded everywhere? I can already see, Rex and Ram Darshan Sharma here will say that’s not capitalism’s fault. Or that we should give it some time to fix itself. Actually, if you see it scientifically (since we are all fans of the scientific method here) capitalism has had at least one century more than socialism to succeed. Plus it had ample doses of help from European colonialism and American military interventionism. I suppose you will say the problems I mentioned have very little to do with capitalism. So, let’s see, everything that’s more or less right with the world is capitalism, and anything that’s bad is outside it. And this is a neutral, scientific way of looking at things I guess? Rex, tell me the last socialistic principle in India that you or your generation and class suffered due to. And I mean, truly suffered, like lost some life chances. And don’t tell me you had to stand in line to pay your electricity bill, or that your father had to choose between an Ambassador and Premier Padmini. Something that involved real redistribution of ancestral land or wealth, or real income. Something outside regular taxation that happens in all capitalist societies. Say you had to go to the same school as your domestic help’s child, or be treated in the same hospital when you fell ill. Or even serve one year in the army, or attend party meetings every week. Where is this socialism you speak of? The public sector? When did the public sector make any dent in the inequality in this country? I’m very happy to celebrate with you, the demise of Nehurvianism. It was anything but socialism.

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    1. And I suppose capitalism, with starving millions and irreparable ecological damage has succeeded everywhere?

      Your reading comprehension sucks. As I originally pointed out – there is obviously no via media for you and similar folk between outright socialism and 19th century style robber baron capitalism – which is what is going on in most of the world today.

      capitalism has had at least one century more than socialism to succeed.
      Capitalism works because it does not conflict with self interest. Humans have worked for themselves and traded with each other from hunter-gatherer times. Socialism would work if every human was an altruistic saint who was ok with handing over the fruit of his labor to another one. ‘From each according to capacity, to each according to need’ is the best way to redistribute poverty. Show me ONE example of a socialist regime that even looked like it might succeed in making people happy. Every last one winds up with an oppressive government, a secret police to monitor your every word, and party moles in every organization to check whether you’re ‘ideologically pure’.

      Besides if it’s such a wonderful thing, then why weren’t people from Western Europe immigrating in droves to the Communist bloc, instead of vice versa?
      Read this for some more perspective:
      http://www.reagansheritage.org/reagan/html/reagan_panel_pipes.shtml

      Rex, tell me the last socialistic principle in India that you or your generation and class suffered due to. And I mean, truly suffered, like lost some life chances.

      How about reservation in tax payer funded, government run educational institutions? With every community clamoring for its slice of the pie, you better belong to some backward community/caste if you want any hope of getting admitted to a good public college.

      And as for going to the same school or hospital as the domestic help, I would love to have a well equipped public school system or health care where you get timely assistance and quality care, or a good education, given the increasing tax burden every year.
      Instead, we have rural employment guarantee schemes, crores of rupees being spent on newspaper ads on Indira Gandhi’s birthday, and other examples of utter wastage of public money.
      The fact that despite paying taxes, I cannot get decent hospital care or good education and have to resort to private schools/hospitals is in itself a failure on the part of government.

      I am grateful for the balance of payments crisis that forced the government to open up the economy in 1991, which led to at least some improvement in per capita statistics, and saw the rise of the middle class, and the IT boom at the turn of the century, from which I’ve benefited.
      If this had been done 20 or 30 years earlier in conjunction with a focus on primary education, a much bigger set of Indians would have prospered a whole generation in advance.

      Finally, as in the beginning – you simply cannot envisage a middle path. America built its success on capitalism, back in the 50s when companies paid 90% of their income as corporate taxes and a CEO earned maybe 10 or 20 times what the lowest worker did, as opposed to almost no taxes and about 700 times as is the case today.
      Capitalism as I said before, is based on self interest, but without arbitrage and regulation, people will look for their own interest at the expense of others.

      I’m very happy to celebrate with you, the demise of Nehurvianism. It was anything but socialism.

      Since you make a distinction between Nehruvianism and socialism, what you criticize here is Reaganism, not capitalism. If it were capitalism at work, the Wall Street companies that went bankrupt should have been allowed to die without expecting a handout from the US govt.
      It was Reagan who started cutting corporate taxes and made it possible for US companies to start the outsourcing trend. It was he who advocated a free for all when it came to trade, and blind support for his policies by Republicans are what are undermining America today.

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  3. Since you have mentioned my name, I wish I could add to what Rex has already commented. Unfortunately, you guys who declare commitment for FREEDOM OF SPEECH often suppress my comments. If you allow this one, the capatilism that Marx denounced does not exist anymore. A safely valve in the form of social justice/welfare state has long been incorporated in the system. Now, on the brand of socialism, I am not sure which one you find attractive. If I mention explicitly the models, one practiced in Germany prior to second world war and the other in Sobiet Union just a few years ago, and many brands in between, my comments may not see light. So, I will refer to Rex for all the atrocities and mass murders committed by different ‘scientific’ socialist regimes. Rex is right that India would have progressed far more now if even the current economic policies, which still have too much government intrusion, were followed soon after independence. One just have to open eyes to the past and present Communist regimes to see what they did to their people.

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  4. I can support Ram Darshan Sharma’s contention that that comments unflattering to the leftist ideology of this site (but well made and argued and well within the bounds of decency) tend to get censored. In fact, I was a little surprised that my first comment showed up. Not sure if this will see the light.

    I would go so far as to say that most leftists are extremely intolerant of diverse opinion and never learn to engage in a meaningful way in debate with others. There is an over-reliance on over-wrought over-the-top rhetoric. There is no attempt to present an intellectual argument supported by logic or data.

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  5. @ Sunalini, you mention ” let’s see, everything that’s more or less right with the world is capitalism, and anything that’s bad is outside it. “- As far as I can see Rex has ALREADY mentioned the evils which rampant greed can lead to, which seems to have been a result of unchecked “capitalism” Either you have only half-read his post, or are reading it with a bias.
    As for “starving millions” under capitalism, I think there are probably more starving in India with all its socialist policies, or even if not starving without the basic amenities such as health and education, medicine etc.
    While we haven’t “suffered” in the way you mention, the very social phenomena you mention are NOTHING to be proud of- since you seem to imply that going to the same school or hospital as your maid’s kids would be “suffering”(correct me if I am wrong)you yourself are acknowledging the very class distinction that socialism seeks to abolish. Or at least admitting that it has not been abolished in India.
    IF socialism were really followed, we would have really good health and welfare systems , RELIABLE free education and a much better public transport network- believe me, India’s (even Calcutta or Bombay which probably have the best public transport in the country) transport facilities are NOTHING like those in Europe, specifically Germany’s
    which brings me to my point
    a) ALL ideologies are hollow. The foolish people are those idealists who think any one particular system has all the answers.There will ALWAYS be cracks because these are implemented by PEOPLE. and people are foolish, impractical, selfish, power hungry ruthless, and also intelligent sensible good moral. Political theory does not work like a mathematical identity. The results depend on the circumstances, history, geography, the temperament of the people(and yes, this is a big factor, otherwise every country would have had a similar history)
    b) I find the main goal/premise?of Marxism impractical. A stateless classless society with no power structure? The fact that people should be paid according to need? Who defines that?C’mon, these are HUMAN beings you are talking about, not a bunch of Smurfs. That said, Communism, socialism etc, developed in certain social contexts and did bring about much of what we value in today’s working like, the ability to negotiate for higher wages, better working conditions, the five day week, regulated working hours, benefits, pensions, better land distribution etc. BUT if this ideology is the perfect one- then WHY did communist countries turn into police states with surveillance and hang up an iron curtain? Surely people would have been happy to live in such a Utopia? the answer is that none of these countries managed to achieve Marx’s ideal, but stopped at grabbing power from the traditional aristocracy and creating a new set of tyrants, and because of these disasters, we believe it will always be a failure. Proof of the pudding being in the eating
    c) I also agree that rampant capitalism leads to greed and consumerism, credit, debt instability and unscrupulous behaviour.The free market and survival of the fittest can easily lead to an economic rule of the jungle. Look at the greed and which leads to the live on credit and don’t save philosophy which leads to debts and disaster.the I want the best and I want it NOW attitudes.Look at at the Republican party opposing tax increases for the super rich and tax cuts for the middle class, I don’t know what logic they use!The whole beauty of the American system was that with low taxes state intereference etc people were supposed to have the initiative to innovate, become entrepreneurs, which did happen, till it spiralled into a society where people are encouraged to spend rather than save! capitalism as an absolute cannot exist either,where was American “capitalism” when all the banks and investment institutions were bailed out?

    Ultimately, what is dangerous is the way people subscribe to and advocate ONE political /economic ideology as Gospel truth without critically examining both its pluses and minuses. All these ideas as the previous commenter said developed in specific socio-historical contexts in which they were relevant. Taken out of the context, all they can do is provide us useful pointers, capitalism because of it’s encouragement of initiative, material rewards, and yes, admit it higher levels of FUN because life to some extent IS about enjoying material things, otherwise we would give up our jobs and go live as hermits, socialism because of the equity and social justice it preaches, with the state playing a benevolent role concentrating on providing certain common resources (I really think the communist ideal is unachievable crap). Blind acceptance of any theory is DOGMA and not acceptable for rational argument.

    And you are asking about “suffering”- I come from a city which was almost the commercial capital of India till the 60s, one of the best education systems, really good night life. The communists(most of them armchair) came and destroyed the first two, the naxals the last. very few people in my age group have actually considered going back home and settling in Calcutta. It’s been like a mass exodus of highly skilled youngsters. and while we as individuals may not have suffered, I do think the city has been crippled.
    and this waiting in queues, the inefficiency of everything, the lack of impressive infrastructure,you mean to say that this is a GOOD thing? that it shows us up in a good light ? Specially when our neighbour is progressing by leaps and bounds (albeit at a very huge sacrifice of human rights)

    Look towards the Western European countries if you MUST have an ideal. Look at Germany currently.They have excellent social welfare systems and public facilities, industry flourishes, and as a population they are very very ecologically conscious and spend a fair amount of resources in environment friendly technology R& D.

    What a discussion- and all about some pictures. By the way, I see nothing “socialist” about these pictures, these are all valid human truths.

    Ideas develop are welcomed are implemented and then go to an extreme and then crash. it’s this EXTREME that we should ALWAYS look to avoid. and yes, Capitalism AS WE SEE IT IN RECENT TIMES has gone to this extreme.

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  6. Oh sorry, Rex, you’re a TAXPAYER! Why didn’t you tell me earlier? I will go to a corner and feel bad now. And Ram Sharma, your comments are all over Kafila, on several posts. So I think the worry about censorship may be misplaced.

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  7. Venkat, you are right that while we are very open to comments that are very critical to us, we do sometimes exercise our editorial discretion in order to ensure that a proper informed debate takes place. That is clearly mentioned in our Policy. People who think they can comment on everything under the sun on the basis of some wikipedia readings, or those like Rex who can opine of Kafila (quote from his first comment: “This is Kafila, a site run by people who still think socialism is a wonderful form of government, despite all evidence to the contrary“), certainly contribute in one thing: bringing down debate to the level of the most banal everyday chatter. If Mr Rex had even cursorily gone through Kafila posts and debates, he would have seen that we have had long exchanges and debates with people of different views, often those who speak from an explicitly neo-liberal or pro-capitalist position. That might have made him think twice before opening his big mouth to make the kind of statement that he does above.

    I do not intend to get into an argument with such ill-informed but supremely smug people as Rex, for instance. But for those who happen to visit this post and see this misleading ‘debate’, let me state that many kafila members have maintained here on Kafila (as well as in our articles and books published elsewhere) that these banal twentieth century choices that produced dichotomies like capitalism versus state socialism are spurious choices. We (and I personally have written for at least twenty years now ) hold that the entire experience of twentieth century socialism was a disaster. Not a horribly new insight, I admit, but not one that is in tune with the misleading description given in the quote above. What is new and different, we hope, is that we have not thereby taken the path of many defeated soldiers of state socialism to now say that therefore we must celebrate capitalism. Some of us – me included – have thus tried to think of capital and property differently. The commenters above who talk of some deficit of logic in our arguments ought to know that not-X is not equal to Y. Capitalism does not by default become exonerated of its crimes simply by virtue of socialism’s failure. Its crimes are yet to be tried and that is what some of the images in this post suggest. That is what many movements across the globe today are attempting to say in one form or the other – without entertaining any illusions about state socialism.
    Let me conclude my response here with trying to dispel (for what it’s worth) just one inanity that Mr Rex seems to hang his story of capitalism’s socalled success on: the idea that capitalism accords with human nature. He says:

    “Socialism simply does not take into account basic human nature- to look out for one’s own.”

    – and presumably capitalism does. Thus he says in response to Sunalini:

    “Capitalism works because it does not conflict with self interest. Humans have worked for themselves and traded with each other from hunter-gatherer times. “

    These two statements between them compress so much ignorance and prejudice that we will need to write tomes to reply to them. Let me, rather, just try to give a couple of instances to ilustrate the hollowness of these claims.

    1. In the history of capitalism, right from the 17th to the late 19th centuries, violence and incarceration was employed – usually with state backing, (“human nature” tended to go the other way), to make a ‘disciplined’ work-force for capital. You just have to read a little of the stellar historical work that has been done by historians of this period in order to realize that leading political economists of the period argued – and states complied – that people have to be kept at starvation levels in order to make them work.
    2. In the early 20th century, the dimensions of the problem changed entirely. Mass production brought forth the problem of consumption. With Fordism and large numbers of workers beginning to get a reasonable wage (after their prolonged struggles), the problem before the ideologues was – how to make the workers consume, and consume ‘rationally’ – that is to say buy what the capitalist produces rather than waste their money in drinking! Spending money ‘rationally’ was a serious concern for reformers – as it did not sit well with the normal course ‘human nature’ was taking – which was more inclined to pleasure.
    3. More importantly, till about the late twenties, one of the major anxieties of the automobile sector (the backbone of the US economy) was how to make people buy cars. The facile notion that if people had money the first thing they would do would be to buy cars, did not work. Urban dwellers seldom bought cars. They were more comfortable in the electric car (the tram system). Cars were bought by rural dwellers as they had fewer means to go to the city. The way the problem was solved was not by appealing to ‘human nature’ for that was clearly not working. It was solved by destroying the electric car and restructuring American cities, making them difficult to negotiate without the automobile.
    4. And to this day, the central anxiety of every capitalist is that people do not usually buy simply becuase they have the money. Hence the advertising industry, hence the credit offered by the seller, hence the enticing calls and sms-es on your mobile. The central anxiety of capital remains the failure of demand. And yet we must listen to illiterate comments about capitalisim conforming to human nature!

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  8. Rex, Owl and Venkat, allow me to point out the irony of your accusations of black and white reasoning on my part, given that it was Rex who first demonstrated his fine grasp of nuance with the following declaration, “This is Kafila, a site run by people who still think socialism is a wonderful form of government, despite all evidence to the contrary. Also, you can either have full blown socialism, or US style robber baron capitalism with absolutely no hope for a middle path.”
    This, despite most of us on Kafila never having unitedly avowed allegiance to a Thing Called Socialism, despite the hundreds, perhaps thousands of debates we’ve had here bringing in various points of view ranging from libertarian anarchism to democratic socialism to the new left, to pro-State and anti-State. Sure, we are all more or less committed to a critique of the world we live in; and many of us recognise that a big part of the contemporary world is composed of capitalist forms of making wealth. But beyond this broad consensus, there is a massive amount of creative disagreement on the pages of Kafila, since there is in fact a rich and complex reality of economic systems beyond capitalism, some of which identify formally as socialist and many which don’t. You in fact are guilty of DOGMA (to borrow the owl’s love for capslock) since while you are perfectly willing to see capitalism as a diverse system, with hundreds of local variations and several gradations from ‘unchecked greed’ to well, checked greed, I suppose; you are not willing to perform the same exercise for socialism. Oh no, socialism is gulags and Stalin and that tired old stereotype that Rex was so nice to share with us – socialism is the stupid, childish belief that people will produce wealth without incentive, or that once they produce wealth, they will give it away. No, sirs, a critique of capitalism does not spring from naivete; it springs from rage at its lies and illusions. As Aditya said, capitalists need to spend billions of dollars to convince us that without consuming and producing within this system, we are nothing, we cease to exist. Humans have existed before capitalism and will continue afterwards, if we don’t manage to destroy ourselves completely, that is. And please don’t tell me humans have always traded with each other, so capitalism is as old as civilisation. Even wikipedia won’t say that. Indeed, I think Aditya was being generous; a good wikipedia session would still produce a more complex and nuanced knowledge than the ‘arguments’ displayed here.
    And of course not, sarcasm is certainly not required. But if you want to start the debate by your sweeping summary of an entire website and all its content in a couple of banal sentences, then sarcasm may be a better response than others that come to mind.

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