Archive for October, 2013

Marx’s view of supernatural beings

October 29, 2013

 

By Nasir Khan,  October 29, 2013,

“A non-objective being is a non-being.”

—Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)

In one pithy sentence in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx said something of unique philosophical importance that had occupied the minds of so many learned people for thousands of years and it still does. Among such people have been philosophers, mystics, theologians and visionaries who discussed the questions relating to supernatural beings for thousands of years. Their ideas and views have captivated countless generations of human beings and have filled millions of books. We see every year many thousand more volumes are added to the same old question. But Marx like a flash of lightening saw the reality of the fiction and put all that matter to rest. Any possible thing that is non-objective is non-being.

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Kemal Ataturk’s secular legacy and Islamist fanatics

October 29, 2013

By Nasir Khan, October 29, 2013

Kemal Ataturk was the first Muslim ruler who understood that religion and State have to be separated in the interest of the people. He had seen the decadent Ottoman Caliphate and the abysmal stagnation of the State and society under its Sultans and Caliphs. For a long time the decaying Turkey was regarded as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ by the European powers. They simply didn’t know what to do with this lifeless giant!

After abolishing the Caliphate, Kemal introduced far reaching reforms in the Turkish Republic. He didn’t force anyone to give up Islam; to follow and practise a religion, Islam in this case, was a personal matter; the State had nothing to do with it. The State was to be secular, which means the State had no religion and it did not interfere with the religion/ religions of the Turkish people in any way.

If the rest of the Muslim countries who gained independence from the colonial powers had followed the example set by Kemal then we would have seen a different world map. But instead the manipulators of Islam and reactionary ideologues of Islamism (Abul Al Maududi, Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, etc. etc.) used Islam to push vast populations into ignorance and darkness. That’s where at present stand the vast majorities of the Islamic counties of the Middle East, Iran, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, etc. etc.

India – Laboratory of Fascism: Capital, Labour and Environment in Modi’s Gujarat

October 22, 2013

How is the fascism of the Sangh Parivar going to be utilised for capital?


We are caught in a false debate in which the reality is presented in an erroneous perception. Narendra Modi, the perpetrator of 2002 carnage is counter posed with Mr. Modi the “development leader”. We call it a false debate, since for us, who have lived and grown in Gujarat over the past five decades the two aspects are actually the same – that of fascist. And we use the label of fascist for Modi with utmost seriousness and with full awareness of what the term involves. Of course, we have a different situation in India today, compared to Italy or Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Then, bourgeois parliamentary democracy was not too deep-rooted in those countries. By contrast, despite the efforts of Maoists on the extreme left and fascists on the extreme right, parliamentary democracy has struck considerably greater roots. This has had implications for the far left as well as the far right. Our concern today is the far right.

Since the Sangh Parivar has been consigned by fate to operate within ‘bourgeois democracy’ for a far longer time than it had originally envisaged (in 1947-48 it had clearly planned for a fairly swift grab for power, creating a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ analogous to Jinnah’s plan for a ‘Islamic State’), it has been compelled to split its operations. The BJP, as the electoral arm, has to look “moderate”. Of course, it is “moderate” only if one argues that a hyena is moderate compared to a wolf-pack. One should remember that the Mr. L. K. Advani, hailed these days as a “Statesman”, was seen as aggressive as against the “moderate” Mr. Vajpayee back in 1989-1992.

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The Fosse Ardeatine Massacre, a poem

October 19, 2013

Note: Erich Priebke, a former SS officer, who died in October 2013 was a war criminal.  At the time of his death he was serving  a life sentence under house arrest in Rome. In 1944 he  had participated in the killing of 335 civilians at the Ardeatine Cave outside Rome. Luis Lázaro Tijerina wrote the following poem.

by Luis Lázaro Tijerina, October 19, 2013
Eccidio delle Fosse Ardeatine
The Fosse Ardeatine Massacre

(For My mother, Rachel)

“Where history is not settled, the heroic dead

continue to speak” Lyman Johnson

The tourists gape down the Via Rasella
never thinking what happen here
on a  windy March day in Rome where the pavement
for the cars and pedestrians slumber like
forgotten stone in the shade.
Partisans killed terrorists in uniforms,
Terror for terror.
For on this street death occurred for those Italians
from the province of South Tyrol
who sided with the forces of oppression, that oppression
like a sleeping darkness that awakes to stalk
naive citizens who go about their business to live,
Never knowing that rifle butts can smash
window panes and splash the gardens with bullets
that bring up lair of blood not vegetables
under the bright Italian sunlight.

Wind and the painter’s spatial distance of clouds
with the sobs of rain bringing down the sanctuary
of wreathes and pines that have closed the eyes
of the dead in war.
Three hundred and thirty five Italian prisoners
taken to Ardeatine caves; amid dirt and stone,
all of them shot in reprisal; workers, lawyers,
doctors, a boy, a general and colonel, partisans, Jews,
and those who were picked-up while casually walking down the streets
to see a lover or buy some bread (the ration cards
like butterflies in coat pockets wanting to escape
the darkness for the hunger of light) The boulders of the cave wet with tears,
Those not yet dead crawling into the cave’s galleries
to die with dignity.

The Resistance priest, Don Petro Pappagallo, gives
the final blessing for those to be shot
with a bullet in the cerebellum,
“Night and Fog” to hide the terror in the silence
of denial… Fog and Night over the skies of Rome,
Where the Forum once again awakens with its shrieks
of ancient terror.
Grottoes of the Fish sign, Renaissance paintings stoically
hung on museum walls that are painted a clean white.
The killer, Erich Priebke, back in the caves
forcing a fellow officer to shoot a victim
all in the name of “Duty”, the living cadaver, Priebke, who lived to be a hundred in a country,
where sunlight, good wine, a stroll along the streets,
The beauty of glass and clothes seduces the eye
along the scattered fringes of life.

In the Ardeatine caves,
“The order has already been carried out.”
Piles of bodies, the executioners in a drunken state,
The engineers seal the caves with explosions like
a horde of shambled dreams in the darkness
where there is neither night nor day.
On a hillside outside Rome
in the middle of October sixty-nine years later, when Italy shows
her beauty in autumn with light rain, the cold
biting the faces of lovers hovering beneath an umbrella,
I see the Roman historian, Polybius,
taking notes with a harsh smile
on those who have taken to the streets
protesting the crime.

—Luis Lázaro Tijerina, Burlington, Vermont

Conversions in Gujarat: Whom Does Modi Represent?

October 18, 2013
by Badri Raina,   Sri Lanka Guardian, October 17, 2013

 In the wake of his conflict with Gandhi over the caste/Dalit question, B.R.Ambedkar, later to be the chief architect of India’s Constitution making, had determined, as early as 1935—the year the Government of India Act was passed—to leave the Hindu fold.

Upon a deeply considered evaluation of the social content of all major religious faiths, Ambedkar chose the Buddhist faith as the most befitting social/spiritual anchor because of the explicit rejection in the Buddhist Dhamma of all constructions of inequality among humankind. And a full two decades after his first resolve to abandon Hinduism, on October 14, 1956, this agonized doyen of the downtrodden took his vows at Nagpur alongwith some 3,80,000 Dalits, the date of his conversion recalling the conversion of the Maurya King, Ashok, to Buddhism after his revulsion at the massacres at the battle of Kalinga, third century B.C.
It must be tellingly ironical that a full half century after Ambedkar’s conversion the next mass exodus of Dalits from Hinduism should have occurred just a few days ago in the land of Moditva/Hindutva at Junagarh in Gujarat. At this event, some 100,000 took their Buddhist vows, which include the clear enunciation by the convertees that “Ram and Krishna are not (our) gods.”
Pointedly, this mass rejection of Hinduism has not taken place in some Indian state where scant claims are made for “Hindu nationalism,” but in the one state of Gujarat which under Modi has sought over a decade to consolidate Hindutva. Just to recall, not too long ago, Modi defined himself unproblematically as a “Hindu nationalist,” leaving many to wonder whether others might then define themselves as “Muslim or Christian or Sikh nationalists” without causing Hindutva hackles to go up.
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BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO GENERAL VO NGUYEN GIAP

October 17, 2013


Luis Lazaro Tijerina, October 17, 2013

This is a poem Luis Lazaro Tijerina  wrote for Vo Nguyen Giap on his 100th Birthday two years before he passed away this year on October 4, 2013.

BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO GENERAL
VO NGUYEN GIAP

The great son of Vietnam,
how you traveled through the long years
from your village of An Xa, in Quāng Bihn province,
where beautiful orchids and the great Gianh
Rivers, and the Ron and Ly Hoa rivers, flow to the sea
and where the high mountain summits,
Peak Co Rilata and Peak Co Preu,
are covered with green…
Military history and philosophy were your guides,
hidden volcanoes under the swirling snows of the living.
How is it that you have remained so young?
Your mentor Ho Chi Minh, your victory at Dien Bien Phu,
Now memories of the ancient past.
You once said, “My spirit is still young, my heart still remains young.”
On your hundredth birthday,
passed in obscurity
in an Army Hospital in Hanoi,
I send you this bright flower
to go with your gem-stoned Thang Long Dragon.

Israeli-Saudi Alliance Slips into View

October 14, 2013

Consortiumnews.com, October 12, 2013

Exclusive: The Israeli-Saudi détente is slowly emerging from the shadows, with a media report on a secret Jerusalem meeting and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s oblique reference in his UN speech. But this powerhouse collaboration could mean trouble for U.S. diplomacy in the Mideast, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

On Aug. 29, when I published an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower” describing an emerging odd-couple alliance between those two traditional enemies, the story was met with skepticism in some quarters. But, increasingly, this secret alliance is going public.

On Oct. 2, Israel’s Channel 2 TV news reportedthat senior Israeli security officials met with a high-level Gulf state counterpart in Jerusalem, believed to be Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States and now head of Saudi intelligence.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And, a day before that TV report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the new relationship in his United Nations General Assembly speech, which was largely devoted to excoriating Iran over its nuclear program and threatening a unilateral Israeli military strike.

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THE DEATH OF VO NGUYEN GIAP

October 13, 2013

Luis Lazaro Tijerina 

 

It is autumn here,
The leaves are turning a bright red!
I have heard that you have died far away
from your birth place, the village of An Xa.
The leaves are falling onto the earth,
You, Sun Tzu and the memory of Dien Bien Phu
are the memories of your great departure.

October 4, 2013

The Legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap (1911-2013)

October 6, 2013

Nasir Khan, October 6, 2013

Neither high, nor very far

Neither emperor, nor king,

You are only a little milestone,

Which stands at the edge of the highway.

To people passing by

You point the right direction,

And stop them from getting lost.

You tell them of the distance

For which they still must journey.

Your service is not a small one.

And people will always remember you.

Ho Chi Minh – Prison Diary

Vietnam’s great revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh aptly points to the services of a milestone. Sometimes some human beings become such milestones and people remember them in gratitude. One such man was General Vo Nguyen Giap, who died on 4 October 2013. He was a titan of military science and a far-sighted revolutionary who played a decisive part in the liberation of Vietnam. The people of Vietnam under their great revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), his comrades and able lieutenants, carried a heroic struggle for the liberation of their country. No doubt, among his military commanders General Giap was the most outstanding military strategist. He was also a scholar who chose military vocation to serve his nation.

Under his command, the Vietnam People’s Army fought two major wars: The First Indo-China War (1946-1954) and the Vietnam War (1960-1975). During the First Indo-China War, he led many battles. Among them was the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954) that sealed the fate of the French colonial masters in Indo-China. Before the brilliant and innovative war plans and tactics of Giap, the French were helpless. Then came the US imperialists to impose their rule, by bolstering their stooges in South Vietnam. Despite their enormous losses fighting when against a superpower and its brutal war-machine, the Vietnam People’s Army continued their heroic struggle against a vicious invader. Americans used their destructive military and air power to destroy Vietnam as much as they could; the devastation they caused was horrifying.

When in 1972, Nixon and his War Mafia started their relentless bombing of Hanoi and mined Haiphong to crush the Vietnamese patriotic people once for all, many students and political activists in various parts of the world had sympathy and solidarity with the the people of Vietnam; they opposed US war of aggression. They saw a genocidal American war becoming more and more like Hitler’s war on the Eastern front. The question was: Will Vietnam be able to survive such barbarous bombings? It was a deeply troubling period for many and in the life of this writer.

During this intensive bombing by B-52 bombers, came the news that General Giap had been killed in an aerial attack. That was the last thing any friend of the Vietnamese people wanted to hear. What will happen if the general was nor more? That was the question and there was no easy answer to it. The situation was fraught with great danger for the revolutionary forces. And we who stood for the national liberation of Vietnam were tormented. However, soon it became clear that the rumours of his death were part of the Nixon administration’s disinformation. Tricky Dicky and his Secretary Kissinger were past masters in such methods! But for this writer the news of the general being alive was a great relief; it also meant the master strategist will carry on as before, which he did.

President Ho Chi Minh who had died in 1969 was not able to able to see the unification of his country. But the patriotic people of the the Democratic Republic of Vietnam were sure to defeat American imperialists who had made Vietnam their killing fields. The divided country was united and the heroic Viet Cong prevailed. The United States imperialism had for the first time been defeated by the people of Vietnam. The role of General Giap in laying the strategy and winning the war was pivotal.

The name and work of this military genius and scholar will always live in the hearts and minds of all freedom-loving people, everywhere. Eternal Glory to General Giap!

Two Sides of Democracy in Pakistan

October 1, 2013

Nasir Khan, October 1, 2013

Democracy in Pakistan has two sides. For the majority, it is not more than a word which brings little comfort or change in their life. But despite all the problems and poverty in this life, they remain fully convinced of a glorious life hereafter. Their religious mentors and preachers have managed to instil such rosy prospects in their minds that they envision such a life of abundance and happiness as the ultimate prize in the eternal life. For my part, I wish them well when they get there.

But for a tiny minority it means much more: it means power, political, social and above all economic. Therefore, when they have political power in Pakistan they live a regal existence in their luxurious dwellings and manor houses surrounded by friends and allies. No doubt, this spectacle impresses friends and foes alike. They are looked upon as the uncrowned kings and queens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

But when they lose power in some shabby election or military coup then they continue to enjoy grand living in or outside Pakistan, in places like Dubai, England, France, etc. in their luxurious houses and palaces. Money is never a problem for them. The unlimited ill-gotten millions of dollars stacked in Swiss or other European banks keep them happy and content. As a favour to the Pakistani majority, they only wait to take possession again of the Presidential house or Prime Minister’s office!

Let’s not forget that Uncle Sam is always there to support them or disown them for their full loyalty or any suspicious move on their part. Even our Pakistani intellectuals eulogise this uncle. How could Pakistan have survived without American money, its patronage of some in Pakistan or without its Drone attacks, they ask.

In addition, just out of their far-sightedness, our royals keep new generation of political successors close at hand and sometimes they anoint them for the future role well in advance. During all this the vast majority keeps on chanting: Long Live this one or that one; Long Live Pakistan! Allah-o-Akbar!!