Tag Archives: militarisation

Moonwalking with the Comrades: Anirban Gupta Nigam


The last book François Furet wrote before his death in 1997 was called The Passing of an Illusion. At the very beginning of the first chapter of that book, Furet spelt out the central question driving his study:

    What is surprising is not that certain intellectuals should share the spirit of the times, but that they should fall prey to it, without making any effort to mark it with their own stamp. […] twentieth century French writers aligned themselves with parties, especially radical ones hostile to democracy. They always played the same (provisional) role as supernumeraries, were manipulated as one man, and were sacrificed when necessary, to the will of the party. So we are bound to wonder what it was that made those ideologies so alluring, that gave them an attraction so general yet so mysterious.

Furet’s book emerged from an autopsy of his own past as a as a Communist “between 1949 and 1956.” He wrote, further, that his years as a Communist bequeathed to him an enduring desire to unlock the mystique of revolutionary ideology. Given this, it’s not difficult to see why he pioneered some of the most brilliant historiographical work on the French Revolution. The question we are concerned with here is the one I have quoted at length above; for it seems that in our own day, this strange romance between (formerly) fiercely independent intellectuals, scholars, activists and the – a – party, continues.

The latest document of this affair is a long essay by Arundhati Roy (once famous for her declaration of herself as an”independent mobile republic”), titled ‘Walking with the Comrades,’ published in the latest issue of Outlook. It makes for exciting reading, as a lot of well-written travel literature does; but it is significant for another reason: in the current debate over ‘Operation Green Hunt,’ with many versions of ‘ground realities’ fighting amongst themselves, this document is Roy’s attempt at producing an (her) authentic truth, so immersed in the charming details of revolutionary existence that everything else becomes secondary. If we were ever to perform an autopsy of our twentieth century’s ‘Communist’ pasts, ‘Walking with the Comrades’ would probably be as good a place to start as any. Continue reading Moonwalking with the Comrades: Anirban Gupta Nigam

The End or Future of Capitalism and Ending Obama’s War

Last night I heard a public conversation between the Marxist Geographer David Harvey and Alexander Cockburn the editor of CounterPunch and columnist with The Nation.  The conversation titled, ‘The End or Future of Capitalism’ was hosted by The Center for Place, Culture & Politics.  Cockburn opened the conversation by speaking about the lack of vision in the Left.  Harvey argued that the capitalist system was facing tremendous stress and that a different path of economic development had to be envisioned.  Harvey continued on the end of capitalism as one needing analysis in terms of how this crisis arose with the problem of accumulation and realization of surplus, and poses the question of what is to be done?  Central to Harvey’s argument is that the mounting stress seen at the centre of the capitalist system in the last three decades is the culmination of the inability to sustain the two and a half percent compounded accumulation that has been a characteristic of global capital over the last couple hundred years.  That the capitalist system is unable to find productive investments for the two and a half percent accumulation rate leading to repetitious and aggravating crises in the unproductive bubbles in financial assets.

I stood in line when the floor was open, but much to my disappointment the moderator had brought the conversation to an end before I could ask my question, and so I am going to ask it here.  Both Harvey and Cockburn talked about the urgency of the moment and the need for provocative questions from the Left.  But what is the more urgent question to ask at this moment?  Is it the end or future of capitalism? Or is it the end or future of the American Empire?  The two may well be related and even two sides of the same coin, but the question for me is influenced by the urgency of the situation in our region; the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The relatedness of the two questions also leads me to ask what would be the consequence of the tremendous stress at the centre of the capitalist system on the wars fought at the periphery of Empire?  And in turn, what is the impact of the tremendous stress of the wars on the periphery for the hegemonic centre of the capitalist system?

Continue reading The End or Future of Capitalism and Ending Obama’s War

A cartoon in ‘Greater Kashmir’

Meanwhile, some links to the sort of news from Kashmir that the Delhi media won’t give you:

Even expecting mother not spared during curfew

CRPF administers ‘patriotic’ dose to 56-yr old

Crippling curfew devastates fruit industry

Sikh Youth thrashed by Samiti supporters

‘Dangerous conspiracy to give communal color to movement’

While we were gagged
8 Killed, Hundreds Injured In 7 Days, Massive Clampdown On Valley

Where are pro-freedom leaders?
Geelani’s Son-In-Law Seeks Red Cross’ Intervention

Curfew relaxed, not beating
‘It is terrorism in uniform’

Yeh BBC London Ki Urdu Service Hai
News starved Kashmiris tune into popular radio program of 90’s in curfew

Tangmarg Imam goes missing

Curfew revives water transport on Jhelum

AMK condemns demand for ban on Kashir channel

Hindu chauvinist derails Mumbai citizens’ sit-in

Azaadi echo in Delhi
Civil right activists favour Kashmir independence

Steep rise in CRPF battalions in Valley