Category Archives: Debates

Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali: The Seductions of Stalinism

Once more, Stalinism’s seductions have taken over even libertarian Leftists and Trotskyists, who, one would imagine, should know better about the methods of this devious ideological machine. Leading intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn have issued a statement addressed to “Our Friends in Bengal”, which you can read here. The statement offers the solemn advice that in the face of Iraq and the impending attack on Iran, ‘it would be impetuous to split the Left’. Suddenly, as if by magic, ‘all Leftists’ from anarcho-communist Chomsky, Trotskyist Tariq Ali, and many many Liberal Leftists – all become ONE with Stalinism (‘The Yet-Unsplit Left’). For it will be apparent to any one who reads the statement that the appeal not to split the Left is made not to the CPM, but to those who oppose its crypto- capitalist policies.

Continue reading Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali: The Seductions of Stalinism

The Sword and the Monk’ s Cowl: Curfew in Kolkata

“Instead of society having conquered a new content for itself, it seems that the state has only returned to its oldest form, to a shamelessly simple rule by the sword and the monk’s cowl. “

-Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

We live in strange times. Really strange times. Just as the news from Kolkata was getting better, it got worse again.The sudden spectre of ‘communal rioting’ has reared its head, as if from nowhere in West Bengal. The All India Minorities Forum, a little known entity led by a busy body called Idris Ali materialized yersterday on the streets of Kolkata demanding the deportation of the exiled Bangladeshi writer, on the grounds that she had once injured the sensitivities of Muslims. Crowds attacked police, pitched street battles continued, the Army was called in. Curfew was declared, and on television, Biman Bose, a CPI(M) and ‘Left’ Front hatchet man, declared – “… if her stay creates a problem for peace, she (Nasrin) should leave the state” (see NDTV report at the end of this posting)

Continue reading The Sword and the Monk’ s Cowl: Curfew in Kolkata

Another Supreme Court

Even as our own dearly beloved Supreme Court repeatedly shows contempt of the people by handing over tribal lands to corporations and urban spaces to mall developers, the judges across the border seem to be on a radically different track. As is well known by now, the initial dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary by General Musharraf – an action that launched a million mutinies – was at least partly to punish him for his order preventing the sale of Pakistan Steel Mills to a private group.

As the democratic upsurge in Pakistan carries on unabated, here is a lesser known story, sent to me about a month ago by Nighat Said Khan (better known as Bunny) Women’s Action Forum activist. It is an eye-witness account of the hearing in June 2007, in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, on the appeal by the ‘she-couple’, as a story in Dawn dubbed them, seeking dismissal of a High Court decision sentencing them to three years’ imprisonment for perjury. Not only is the order by the Supreme Court exemplary for its commitment to individual rights, Bunny’s account highlights the extraordinary sensitivity and awareness shown by both the lawyer representing the couple, Babar Awan, and the judges hearing the case.

If this is Pakistan’s judiciary, no wonder the general is a little lost in his labyrinth…

Over to Nighat Said Khan.

Continue reading Another Supreme Court

Dhikkar Michhil: One Lakh March in Kolkata – Moinak Biswas

[We present below a participants’ account, by Moinak Biswas, of the massive and unprecedented Dhikkar Michhil [condemnation rally] in Kolkata, protesting the killings in Nandigram. We now know, notwithstanding the cold blooded claims of ‘liberation’, that the operation carried out there was no different from what any marauding army does – kill rape, rape, maim. And so, Kolkata rose up in spontaneous condemnation – AN]

kolkata rally

The organizers were obviously not prepared for size of the turn-out. That it would be big they must have known, as the outrage had reached a boiling point since the second offensive against Nandigram villagers started on the 6th. . But no one could have anticipated the multitudes that would render numbers obscure on the streets yesterday. The organizers didn’t even bring enough of those little badges which just said ‘Dhikkar’ (‘Shame!’). But then who were the organizers? Some familiar faces were using a loudspeaker to issue basic instructions – ‘Please do not carry organizational banners; do not shout slogans; our route will be.. .’ No one was leading. Many people did not know who gave the call for the rally; they still do not know. Continue reading Dhikkar Michhil: One Lakh March in Kolkata – Moinak Biswas

Nandigram Redux: Reading Sudhanva Deshpande

It is interesting to witness the spin doctoring of the CPI(M) come into play once again in the wake of the renewed violence in Nandigram, which in CPI(M) newspeak is now being called ‘a transition to peaceful conditions’ .

Recently, I have had the opportunity to read the seasoned voice of one of the leading ‘cultural’ lights of the Consolidated Promotors of India(Militant) in Delhi, Comrade Sudhanva Deshpande, on Nandigram Redux, on an extended posting made on Pragoti.org,

I urge you all to read Sudhanva Deshpande’s text as a window into the amazing felicity with which the Consolidated Promotors of India (Militant) constructs the edifice of its positions.

In this posting, I intend to subject Comrade Deshpande’s text to some close reading. I am writing this in order to respond especially to the work that Aditya Nigam is doing in keeping the question of Nandigram alive on Kafila.I have relied extensively on reports, news and analysis on an excellent archive-blog – Sanhati – for a great deal of the material for this posting. Continue reading Nandigram Redux: Reading Sudhanva Deshpande

Soft Bhadralok Hindutva Under ‘Left’ Garb – VB Rawat

[We have received this guest piece from Vidya Bhushan Rawat, which looks at another pathology behind the ‘Left’ Front and its entrenchment in West Bengal politics. We are pleased to present this as it underlines a point seldom registered by self-proclaimed ‘Leftists’ and ‘secularists’: the saffron under the red colour of Indian marxism in general but especially of the CPM. The Sachar committee had recently only revealed what many had always suspected with regard to Muslims. With regard to the Dalits, analysts have been at pains to point out that West Bengal ranks far below even UP, in terms of ownership of land by Dalits. So much for its much touted land reforms. While publishing this piece, let us also underline, with the author that when, in the height of the anti-Islam hysteria during NDA rule, LK Advani’s Home Ministry proposed ‘bio-metric identification cards’ – to check the problem of ‘infiltration’ (!?), then too, Buddhadeb was its most enthusiastic supporter. It is actually interesting that when the ruling classes and parties under Indira Gandhi used to see CIA everywhere, the CPM too saw CIA; and then when the NDA started seeing ISI ‘under every bed as it were, CPM followed suit. Curious, would you say? Read on, for the real debate on the ‘Left’ should be here, which is not to say that we agree with every thing said here. – AN]

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Nandigram is burning and the Neros of the left front governments are watching it with great patience. Those who are up in arms against any displacement elsewhere remain mute spectators at the butchering of people in this ‘war zone’, as the governor of the state Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi mentioned in his statement. CPM and its leadership were prompt in condemning the governor for his remark as unconstitutional. If governor’s remark is out of the touch of Bengal’s reality then how can one justify the ‘call’ for ‘recapture’ of land by the top leadership of CPM? Continue reading Soft Bhadralok Hindutva Under ‘Left’ Garb – VB Rawat

The Silence of the Lambs

protest nandigram

It has happened many times in the past and it seems destined to happen again – thanks to the silence of the left-liberal intelligentsia and the opportunism of the political class. Soon Nandigram may be forgotten by the political class and CPM will be ‘forgiven’ its misdemeanour – all for the sake of some supposedly ‘larger cause’.

After making some noises for public consumption, the Left Front partners have eventually decided, or so it seems, to make peace with the CPM. What else can they do if they have to remain in power? Remember the NDA allies – including the heroine of today, Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress, the TDP and others? Did they squeak, when Gujarat burned? AB Bardhan, the CPI General Secretary is of course, knows full well, which side his toast is buttered and is known to be inside his own party a CPM mole (he has been advocating the merger of the CPI into the CPM.) So we can let Bardhan be. But what are the other LF partners in West Bengal thinking? They can choose to sink with the CPM – as and when it happens (like the TMC and TDP sank with the NDA) or they can help the formation of an alternative platform with other smaller parties. The CPM, after all, was not always a big party. It became big in the process of presenting an alternative to decades of Congress rule.

Continue reading The Silence of the Lambs