The ideologue of Hindutva fascism S.M. Golwalkar

August 19, 2017

 

The ideologue of Hindutva fascism S.M. Golwalkar

Nasir Khan

In many Facebook groups, including ‘International Finance, Economic Affairs, International Relations’ some ultra right wing Hindtva journalists and devotees always target Indian Muslims and Pakistan in the crudest possible manner. The rising tide of Hindtva power in India and their vast network of political and militant parties and organisations is a great danger to the Indian secular state and its democratic system. The fascist cadres of Hindutva also target those who oppose and expose this extremist ideology. The following article on the life of the chief ideologue of Hindutva fascism, M.S. Golwalkar, is written by an Indian Hindu, which will help our readers to understand some issues.
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https://www.countercurrents.org/comm-puniyani100306.htmhttps://www.countercurrents.org/comm-puniyani100306.htm

M.S. Golwalkar: Conceptualizing Hindutva Fascism

By Ram Puniyani

10 March, 2006
Countercurrents.org

Beginning this twenty Fourth February, RSS combine has undertaken programs in different parts of the country to celebrate the centenary year of RSS second Sarsnghchalak (supreme dictator), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, known in Sangh circles as Shri Guruji. What are going to be the implications of this celebration? To answer this, we will have to delve into the work of Golwlakar, who penned a small book, ‘We or our Nationhood Defined’ (We…), which gives an outline of his ideology and later his articles were published as a compilation, ‘Bunch of Thoughts’. In both these books and also in various other outpourings of his, he denigrates democracy and pluralism on one hand and upholds fascist concept of nationhood and sectarian version of culture on the other. His writing is most intimidating to the minorities in particular. He was the chief of RSS for 33 long years and was instrumental in giving RSS a direction, which assumed menacing proportions in times to come, and strengthening the foundations of the ‘hate minorities’ ideology resulting in the consequent waves of violence, undermining the democratic norms in the society. He can also be ‘credited’ with giving the sharp formulations which laid the ideological foundation of different carnages in the country.

Golwalkar praises Lord Manu as the greatest law giver mankind ever had. It was the same law giver Manu’s book, which was burnt by Dr. Ambedkar in his pursuit of getting justice for the dalits. In current times, Golwalkars’ successor also demanded a throwing away of Indian constitution, to be replaced by the one which is based on Hindu holy books, implying Manusmriti, of course.

His formulations of Hindutva Fascism are so blatant that even his followers, the RSS combine, is running for cover and claiming that this book, having a naked hatred for minorities and eulogies for the likes of Hitler, We…, was not written by him. They avoid owning these ideas. But one knows that this book was penned by him. In an affidavit submitted to the charity commissioner, Rajendra Singh, a later Sarsanghchalak pleaded, “With a view to give a scientific base to propagate the idea-India being historically from time immemorial a Hindu nation-the late Shri M.S. Golwalkar had written a book entitled ‘We or Our Nationhood defined’, which was published in 1938.” (Quoted in Islam, Undoing India: The RSS way) J.A. Curran in his classic study, RSS: Militant Hinduism in India Politics- A study of RSS: points out “The genuine ideology of Sangh is based upon principles formulated by its founder, Dr. Hedgewar. These principles have been consolidated and amplified by the present leader ( i.e. Golwalkar) in a small book called “We or our nationhood defined”. It is a basic primer in the indoctrination of Sangh volunteers… (Curran 1979, p.39). Since its quotations have been brought to the notice of people, RSS publishing houses have stopped republishing this book. What does Golwalkar say in this book?

In this book he rejects the notions of Indian nationhood, India as a Nation in the making. He rejects the idea that all the citizens will be equal. He goes on to harp the notions of nationhood borrowed from Hitler’s Nazi movement. He rejects that India is a secular nation and posits that it is a Hindu Rashtra. He rejects the territorial-political concept of nationhood and puts forward the concept of cultural nationalism, which was the foundation of Nazi ideology. His admiration of Hitler’s ideology and politics is the running thread of the book and he takes inspiration from the massive holocaust which decimated millions of people in Germany. He uses this as a shield to propagate his political ideology. It is this ideology which formed the base of communal common sense amongst a section of the population. “German national pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into a united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” (We…, 1938, p.37)

In the Sangh circles this book is regarded as their Gita. The implications for Indian minorities are presented here in a forthright manner. Today the swayamsevaks brought up on this Gita, do believe in all this but the language of expression is being made more polished so that the poison is coated with honey and administered with ease. Golwalkar goes on to assert, “From the standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd nations, the non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of Hindu nation i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this land and its age long traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, for less any preferential treatment, not even the citizen’s rights.” (Ibid p.52).

When the Hindutva politics came up in the late 1980s, in the beginning an unsuspecting observer could not comprehend from where has the concept of Hindu nation come up suddenly, why such an intense hatred for minorities, a glance at We… and one becomes clear that those fed on this ideology cannot but be what they are, cannot do anything else than what they did and have been doing since 1990, the Babri demolition, the anti minority violence and an open violation of democratic ethos of the country. These ideas were translated into the stories of atrocities of Muslim kings, the myth of Hindus owning this land from times immemorial and a lot of such make believe concoction. Irrespective of the fact the freedom movement rejected this ideology and its formulations, it was kept alive through the ideological indoctrination work in the RSS shakhas going on ceaselessly.

Golwalkar was also faced with some of the naïve swaymasevaks wishing to participate in the national movement, more so after the massive Quit India movement was launched. That time Golwalkar was the RSS chief and he dissuaded the people from participating in the movement, and some of them who participated did it in their personal capacity, some of them now claim that they also participated. ( e.g. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was onlooker in the anti British movement, was arrested but wriggled out of the jail and later claimed to have participated in the movement.) As matter of fact Golwalkar was very contemptuous towards the anti British movement. There is no mention of presence of RSS in the anti British movement even in most of the sympathetic accounts written about it. Even Nanaji Deshmukh, the foremost leaders of RSS puts this question, why did RSS not take part in the liberation struggle as an organization? (Deshmukh, Victim of Slander, Vision Books, 1979, p.70) Since Golwalkar propounded religion based nationalism, there was no place for anti British stance. “The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis of our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu Nationhood and made many of the ‘freedom movements’ virtually anti-British movements. Anti Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of freedom movement…” (Bunch of thoughts, 1996, p.138). In a frank defense of British colonialist he reminds the people of RSS pledge, “We should remember that in our pledge we have talked of freedom of the country through defending religion and culture. There is no mention of departure of British in that.” (Shri Guruji Samgra Darshan, Vol 4, p. 2) With allies like this British could merrily pursue their policy of divide and rule!

No wonder British never repressed RSS. Also the collusion between Religion based nationalism and colonialism can be understood from such statements. Later the World saw that in tune with this pro imperialist ideology, Golwalkar was to support the US aggression on Vietnam and his successor Sudarshan defended the US aggression against Iraq.

The murder of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindutva follower Nathuram Godse not only shocked the whole nation; it led RSS followers to celebrate this event by distributing sweets. While RSS followers were celebrating, and the links of Godse with RSS became apparent, RSS was banned and Golwalkar was arrested. They denied that RSS had any links with Godse. At that time it was easy to claim so as RSS had no written constitution and membership lists, enrollment register etc. Godse was RSS Pracharak and later he joined Hindu Mahasabha and was editing a newspaper, Agrani (leader), the subtitle of the paper was Hindu Rashtra. In the court he denied any links with RSS. Later his brother Gopal Godse, who was also an accomplice in the murder, in an interview given to Times of India (25 Jan 98) stated that his brother Nathuram spoke a deliberate lie in the court, “The appeasement policy followed by him (Gandhi) and imposed on all Congress governments’ encouraged the Muslim separatist tendencies that eventually created Pakistan…Technically and theoretically he (Nathuram) was a member (of RSS), but he stopped workings for it later. His statement in the court that he had left the RSS was to protect the RSS workers who would be imprisoned following the murder. On the understanding that they (RSS workers) would benefit from his dissociating himself from the RSS, he gladly did it.”

In the wake of the murder of Gandhi, RSS was banned and Golwalkar was jailed, from where he wrote a letter to the Government of India offering to cooperate with the government in ‘dealing with the menace of Communism’ in return for being released from the jail. Incidentally it was also the period when US was on the witch hunt of communists world over. Today, the global US agenda of demonization of Islam, and Muslims world over matches with the RSS agenda, coincidence again? Is this running parallel in the matching agenda US and RSS policies a mere coincidence?

For him the notion of Hindu Rashtra remained supreme and he could never reconcile to the secular values of Indian constitution. Time and over again he kept on harping on how UnBharat the constitution is and how Manu’s rules are more desirable and profound one’s. The partition of India and the consequent tragedy was registered through the Hindutva eyes, “Even to this day there are many who say, ‘now there is no Muslim problem at all. All those riotous elements who supported Pakistan have gone away once for all. The remaining Muslims are devoted to our country. After all they have no other place to go and they are all bound to remain loyal…It would be suicidal to delude ourselves into believing that they have turned patriot overnight after the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, Muslim menace has increased a hundredfold by the creation of Pakistan, which has become a springboard for all their future aggressive designs on our country.” (Bunch of Thoughts, Bangalore, 1996, p. 177-78)

The way to look at Indian communities as Hindus and Muslims as uniform monoliths continues to be exhibited all through. Further he also goes on to label Muslims, Christians and Communists as internal threats to Hindu nation. And this is the ‘ideological fodder ‘ of RSS shakhas and its practical unfoldment is visible in the regular occurrence of attacks against Muslims and Christians. With collapse of Soviet Union, the venom against communists has been given a different turn. And in the third category secularist have also been added up as a threat to Hindu nation.

It was Golwalkar again under whose stewardship the RSS gave birth to other organizations to play the divisive role in different arenas of social and political life. He was instrumental in helping bring up Bharatiya Jansangh, Akhil Bhartiya Vidayarthi Parishad, Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, amongst others. The infiltration of RSS cadres in different wings of state apparatus; army, police, bureaucracy, judiciary, education and media was another move initiated by Golwalkar, the effects of which are visible prominently from last two decades.

While secular democratic elements, activists have a long road ahead, we need to take care that in the already vitiated atmosphere, the communal divide is not accentuated further by this move of RSS and we put forward the values of humane plural and democratic society and dispel the ideologies which have been playing a very divisive role in the society.

American rulers, their wars and the god

August 9, 2017

Nasir Khan, August 9, 2017

We were told by the US president George W. Bush that god had assented to his invading Iraq in 2003, a war in which the American invaders killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and destroyed Iraq, plundered its wealth and its historical heritage.

Now the preachers of the same god (a Christian and Judaic god!) are saying that their god has nothing against it if president Trump uses nuclear weapons to destroy North Korea!

This miraculous intercession would justify a nuclear war on North Korea and at the same time save the presidency of Trump for any political problems he has faced since taking office this year.

It may surprise even some Christian and Jewish ‘believers’ that this ‘god’ works hand in hand with American warmongers and their imperialist rulers.

This also shows how the clerics and preachers willingly misuse their authority and exploit religions and ‘god’ for the sake of furthering the antihuman policies of the ruling elite and their powerful military-industrial complex. It is all for power, domination and profit-making, nothing else!

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“God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
huffingtonpost.com

 

 

 

Trump is America great again!

July 16, 2017

Nasir Khan, July 16, 2017

A lot of stories about Donald Trump’s lascivious ventures, adventures and fantasies are still being tossed around. It seems he had little control over his sexual thoughts and inclinations!

In my respectful opinion of the man and his great potential as a political game changer, he should even at this late stage in his life be handed over to a voodoo expert to castrate him with some magic spell without causing him any physical or mental harm. The world may recover from any physical disorientation of the big hope, but the incurring of any mental damage to the man is unthinkable for all of us. I would like to emphasise that this is a serious suggestion from a friend, not something damaging from any sordid enemy of the president. In fact, that may save him from any further lurid stories in the media and the embarrassment they cause him and his near ones.

Oh, for God’s sake, don’t blame him for everything! That’s how the good Lord made him, and that should end the story if you are believers in the meticulous work of the Lord!

In any case, if he opts to go through this ritual and lets the voodoo expert expunge him of his unsavoury peccadilloes, then he will have the time and plenty of resources at hand to make America great again, as his avowed objective. Yes, America first, and making America great again!

After having accomplished his historic tasks, who knows, he may, God willing, turn his attention to Mexico, and say: Now is the time to make Mexico great again! When he does that, and if I am still around, I will muster the support of as many Mexicans and gringoes I can to show my solidarity with him and his noble mission.

The electoral success of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom

June 10, 2017

Nasir Khan, June 10, 2017

All credit for the recent electoral gains in the United Kingdom goes to the election campaigners, party activists, left-wing writers and bloggers, ordinary members, including the students and old-age pensioners, and the leaders of the Labour Party for their hard work to achieve such surprising results.

The role Jeremy Corby played in the election and his focus on issues that matter most to the electorate as the leader of the Labour Party is a lesson in modern politics how a dedicated leader can inspire confidence and point to a better future for all. Despite being maligned from the Tories and also from many labour leaders, he refused to be sidetracked and continued to highlight the political and social issues in a magnanimous way. The traditional right-wingers in the party, Blair and Blairites, attacked him for not being ‘charismatic’ and ‘strong’.

But what such people ignored was the simple fact that politics is not merely an arena where only the people with rhetorical methods can mesmerise people and then leave them at the mercy of the anti-working class elite, but rather to speak the language of the people and then stand for their interests in a dedicated way. In many ways, Jeremy Corbyn has surprised his foes and detractors. He showed that in politics, adherence to the principles of honesty and truth are not demerits, but noble avenues that can lead to desired results in a meaningful way. However, this does go against the normal understanding of politics as a game of false promises and stage-managed show for playing with a gullible majority of the ordinary people and then forgetting them when the phoney leaders have achieved their political leverage.

On this occasion, I extend my congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues for their political work and the results they have produced. The foundation of the Labour Party was to protect the interests of the working class people in a society where political power and influence were reserved only for the elitists, not the ordinary people. Therein lie the roots of the Labour Party, not a party to tow the line of ruling-class establishment, but rather a party of the working class people. The present successes have revived the faith of many socialists and working class people that a just and fair political course is possible in the United Kingdom.

Modern democratic states and religion

June 9, 2017

Nasir Khan

“If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody’s personal concern!”

― Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

These are the words of a wise leader of Indian freedom movement, who was an inspiration to millions of people in the world for his message of non-violence and love for truth.

It is important for us to remember that Gandhi was not an atheist or agnostic. He was a devoted Hindu and a believer in God like Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian, Baha’i, Sikh and Jewish believers. However, for him the religion of an individual was a personal matter. No one should impose a religion or a belief on others. It was not for the State to tell people which religion to follow or which god to believe in (there are different views about god in many religions and his attributes, etc.). In the middle ages, State and Church in European countries were united. But that changed. The secularisation process became the norm and new ways of looking at the roles of state and religions became widely accepted.

Secularism is rooted in the political idea that state and religion have two different spheres and roles. They should remain separate and we should not allow anyone to mix them. People should follow whatever religions they want to follow without the interference of the state. As a result, there is no more religious coercion from the state or public bodies/institutions of the people. People have freedom of religion, freedom to practise any religion, freedom to convert to any other religion if any choose to do so, freedom to leave or reject religion and accept agnosticism, atheism, humanism or any other viewpoint. In democratic countries and their civil societies, these freedoms are essential ingredients of a civilised existence.

Unluckily, such views have had much opposition in traditional, conservative societies. For example, in my country of origin, Pakistan (‘Land of the Pure’!), Muslim clerics and political manipulators have distorted the meaning of secularism. According to their version, which most Pakistanis accept, it means rejection of Islam and Allah! It is anti-Islam and a threat to Islam and Pakistan!

Briefly, to attribute such things to secularism is totally wrong and pernicious. But the vested interests that played with the religious susceptibilities of the people for so long, and so successfully, will continue their exploitation. As I see it, our hope is that only progressive and democratic people can combat the reactionary forces and their toxic indoctrination. No doubt, the task is difficult. But our friends and comrades are doing what they can, both within and outside Pakistan.

Glad tidings to all believers

June 7, 2017

Nasir Khan, June 7, 2017

“Sacrificing the earth for paradise is giving up the substance for the shadow.”

— French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Many people are more concerned with the afterlife than this life. Who can blame them? In any case, when we see how the vast majority of human beings exists and suffers an existence on the earth, we can understand why they desire to have the comfort and grand living in the paradise or the kingdom of heaven, as some call it. Not only for some dismal few years or decades as we have in our worldly existence, but also visualising the rosy prospects of an eternal life somewhere up there where we will have everything we can think of in abundance and without any price-tags!

Those interested in carnal and sensual pleasures will be given to their hearts’ content, possibly much more then they need. There is no shortage of anything up there. All one will have to do is to say: I desire this delightful object or that pure creature! Soon the desired object or the lovely creature will appear in the blink of an eye.

It is all ready and waiting for us. The only thing we have to do is to wait a bit longer, be patient, and all will be ours. But we should also keep in mind that to get there we may have to do some hard work first that would appease the heavenly powers. This may include obligatory self-mortification and rigorous rituals to cleans our physical body wih a view to purify our souls, thus making us worthy of the upward journey and the heavenly rewards.

Thanks to our great visionary sages, teachers and preachers for having provided us detailed information about all this. I envy their wisdom and their concern for human beings.

Another terrorist attack in London on June 3, 2017

June 4, 2017

– Nasir Khan, June 4, 2017

Whatever reasons and political grievances any followers of Islamist ideology may have, their latest attack on innocent people on London Bridge was an act of indiscriminate killing of innocent people. If the facts are as reported in the media, and no false flags are involved, then I condemn this barbarous act of terrorism as a private citizen living in Norway, a peaceful, democratic and secular country.

The role played by western imperialists, especially the US, Britain, and their allies, in starting destructive wars of aggression in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. etc. in which millions of people, mostly Muslims, were killed and maimed, their cities and homes destroyed, were enormous crimes against humanity in recent history, for which there was no justification under international law.

Meanwhile, it is important to keep in mind that such crimes of genocide were committed by the governments of these countries, and not by ordinary citizens of any of these countries. There lies an essential difference between what the governments do and what private individuals do.

For instance, what George W. Bush and Tony Blair did that led to the genocidal wars and large-scale destructions of the targeted countries had nothing to do with the ordinary citizens of the United States or Britain. Ordinary pedestrians walking on London Bridge were not and are not responsible for the actions of people like former prime minister Tony Blair, or former president G.W. Bush.

In the hands of religious zealots and fanatics a religion and its teachings can easily be transformed into an instrument of terror and oppression. This happened in the last two thousand years, but historical evidence points to much earlier times also. Let’s take only the Middle East region. Here some major world religions arose and some of them are still with us. The histories of  all monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are replete with examples of heinous crimes against innocent people under the guise of religion.

That happened during the wars of religions and inter-religious conflicts; such things are still happening in many parts of the world. It is true that such conflicts may also have deep socioeconomic and political causes. But the killing of ordinary people under one pretext or another does not mitigate the gravity of terrorist crimes and madness.

Instability and chaos in the Middle East are the axis of US-Israeli power politics

May 23, 2017

Nasir Khan, May 23, 2017

All those who are interested in understanding the quagmire of war, violence, the victimisation of Palestinians by Israel, rampant abuse of human rights, etc., in which the whole region of the Middle East is enmeshed will readily appreciate the soundness of the views of President Rouhani. What he says is reasonable and factual.

However, political observers know fully well that the main catalysts of instability, war, violence and terror in the region have been the U.S. imperialists and the Zionist rulers of Israel. If there was stability in the region, then the foundation stones of their militaristic domination and their power politics in the region will come under threat. In such a scenario, Arab reactionary regimes, such as the House of Saud, will no longer be able to serve the US-Israeli power games. That also means the two allies are duty-bound to negate or neutralise any attempts or prospects for any positive change in the region because that will be detrimental to their long-term strategies and political manipulation.

As a consequence, they will keep the status quo at any cost, and not let any developments they perceive as challenging their imperial interests in any way. To accuse Iran of ambitions to dominate the Middle East politically is merely a ruse to keep their imperial diktat.

The question of stability will remain a distant dream. The overt and covert fanning of the Sunni-Shia conflict between Arab countries and Iran by the two powerful powers, the US and Israel, to further their hegemonic goals seems to have gained the upper hand. Where will that lead to is not difficult to foresee.

Rouhani says regional stability impossible without Iran

 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-rouhani-idUSKBN18I1M9
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani gestures during a news conference in Tehran,
Iran, May 22, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS
By Parisa Hafezi and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin | DUBAI/LONDON

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday stability could not be achieved in the Middle East without Tehran’s help, responding to criticism of the Islamic Republic from U.S. President Donald Trump who is visiting the region.

Trump called for a U.S. alliance with Muslim countries on Sunday aimed at fighting terrorism, singling out Iran as a major source of funding and support for militants in the Arab world.

Rouhani, a pragmatist who won last week’s presidential election, hit back hard by dismissing the summit as a “ceremonial (event) that had no political value and will bear no results”.

“Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran? Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?” he said at a news conference.

At a weekend summit in Riyadh, Trump accused Iran of funding and arming “terrorists, militias and other extremist groups” in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and backing President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Rouhani, who fronted Tehran’s deal with six major powers in 2015 to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions, said the U.S. administration lacked knowledge about the Middle East.

“Americans resorted to many different methods against Iran but failed in all … We are waiting for the new U.S. administration to find stability and continuity in its policies,” Rouhani said.

“The problem is that the Americans do not know our region and those who advise U.S. officials are misleading them.”

Rouhani said Iran was the vital force behind the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and repeated Iran’s official stance that the United States and Saudi Arabia are funding “terrorism” in the Middle East.

“Who fought against the terrorists? It was Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia. But who funded the terrorists? Those who fund terrorists cannot claim they are fighting against them,” he said.

Tehran and Riyadh are involved in proxy wars across the region, backing opposite sides in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

FRAGILE DIPLOMACY

Already fragile diplomatic and trade ties between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite-dominated Iran were severed last year, after Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric and as a result protesters ransacked the Saudi embassy in Iran.

“Buying arms or building weapons won’t make a country powerful. Military power is only a part of strength and we are fully aware of that. But the foundation of power is national strength and this only happens through elections,” Rouhani said.

“Maybe it will help if Saudi leaders let their people to decide over their country’s fate by casting their vote … It will make them (rulers) stronger.”

He said Iran welcomed better relations with its regional neighbors and pledged to fulfill his campaign promises of opening Iran to the world and delivering freedoms to the Iranian people.

“The Iranian people voted for moderation as they know a prosperous economy and jobs can only happen through investment, and investment through freedom and interaction with the world,” he said.

Rouhani’s efforts to open up Iran to less hostile relations with the West still have to be couched in the rhetoric of anti-Americanism that has been a pillar of Iranian rule since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran’s most powerful authority – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – has ruled out normalization of ties with the United States.

Iran’s economy has slowly recovered since the lifting of sanctions last year but deals with Western investors are few and far between as foreign investors are cautious about trading with or investing in Iran, fearing penalties from remaining unilateral U.S. sanctions.

Washington last week imposed new sanctions on Iran, over its ballistic missile program.

“The Iranian nation has decided to be powerful. Our missiles are for peace and for defense … American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission,” Rouhani said, repeating Iran’s commonly expressed stance on the program.

“America’s dream on ending Iran’s missile program will never come true.”

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Modernity in European history

May 5, 2017

Nasir Khan

“The point of modernity is to live a life without illusions while not becoming disillusioned.”

― Italian Marxist thinker and politician Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)

Modernity means many things to different people. But in learned discourse, it refers to the collective body of particular socio-cultural norms and attitudes that emerged when the medieval period in European history gave way to new thinking. Prior to modernity, scholasticism of the middle ages covered all aspects of socio-political life. Religion was the pivotal force that controlled the social and political thinking of the people as well as moulded political structures and power relations.

The Church hierarchy interpreted and enforced socio-cultural norms. Even monarchs, barons and landed aristocrats had to accept the directives of the Church in matters that seemed to have little or nothing to do with religion. In simple words, the Church was at the apex of the societal pyramid.

Then the scene started to change. At grave risks, some thinkers and public-spirited people started to question matters relating to the principles of absolutism, divine rights of kings, the power of the Church, even the old sacrosanct doctrines and dogmas that were once only under the domain of the clerics. Now people began to question the rationale of age-old norms and customs. This was something that was strictly forbidden in the middle ages.

We should keep in mind that the process of change was gradual but it had pointed to a new direction in social and political thinking and practice. The powers of omnipotent deity were questioned and some thinkers rejected all notions of any supernatural beings. Such ideas have made meaningful inroads in Europe. More people are rejecting old traditional modes of thought and dogmas.

The roles of many philosophers from the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries onwards have been instrumental in exploring new ideas to meet the needs of the times.

What public praise for a philosopher’s ideas leads to

May 3, 2017

Nasir Khan, May 3, 2017

“I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding.”

— Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BC – 271 BC)

Epicurus was a renowned philosopher and he certainly was aware of the worth of his ideas. In a simple and subtle way, he has also touched our profound longings to be appreciated by others for our mental and intellectual prowess and skills. Some may call it a human trait, some sceptics may call it a human weakness. Let us see what the public approval of one’s ideas, especially those of a philosopher, in reality amount to: That ideas are framed and presented in such a way that they will appeal to the feelings of the maximum number of ordinary people, who, in return, will heap praise on some ‘clever’ guy!

Can a philosopher or thinking person really expect to validate his ideas with the help of popular applause and praise? Epicurus reply was in the negative. So is mine, after having seen how things work in our times!

In fact, the shoddy tricks played on the unwary and simple people (simple people never think they are simple!) are a form of manipulation. In extreme cases that has led to personality cults, from the olden times to the present times, with disastrous consequences. We are still reaping the toxic fruits of our gullibility as common people because those personality cults are still shaping our history. The dead of the ancient and past history still rule us from their graves. We never question them or their motives. We simply idolise them and sing their praises!