Religious fanaticism versus humanist values

January 19, 2017

Nasir Khan, January 19, 2017

The only reasonable way to get out of the mindset of religious fanaticism is to turn to humanism and humane values that fanatics fight against. It is true the road is long and hazardous but it is worth trying to explore. If rational people start thinking on these lines, they will also start walking along these lines and they will influence others. Otherwise, we will remain mired in the mud of religious fanaticism and barbarism.

There are many people who are justifiably afraid of the enormous influence the right-wing forces wield and exploit religions for their nefarious political agendas, communalism, hatred against other religious communities, creeds, oppose social justice and equal socio-political rights for all. These forces are a danger to all and are very active. They are a big danger to all human values, which are foundation stones of modern democratic societies, their organisation and functioning.

But we should keep in mind that there are also many people who are actively involved in combating and fighting against these forces of darkness and inhumanity. What our friends and sympathisers can do in this struggle is not to become only silent spectators and leave the field open to the fanatics but to side with those who are involved in political struggles against the reactionary forces.

This work involves, among other activities, using the media for highlighting the harm the fanatics have caused by their indoctrination and falsehoods. This process strengthens the struggle of creating common bonds of humanity and respect for all members of society where the development of all in a fair and democratic way is possible. That means to reject religious fanaticism in all its forms and advance the cause of democratic values and humanism.

Religious fanatics in India and Pakistan

January 18, 2017
Nasir Khan, January 18, 2017

(I wrote the following piece in reply to a comment by a Facebook friend.)

Both Hindu and Islamic architecture have influenced each other in many ways. By its appearance, Jejuri Temple seems to be a clear example of this interaction in architecture.

Regarding your views on the division of Hindus and Muslims, my reply is: If these people, Hindus and Muslims, regard one another as human beings first where people’s religious beliefs are left as their personal matters and nothing more, then a common human and humane bond will emerge that will allow cultural diversity but wherein all people will stand for common humanity and common political, social and economic rights and obligations.

But in India and Pakistan things are working in the reverse order. In these countries, the first consideration is towards religious identity while what is obviously common, our common humanity and our oneness as human beings, is pushed out of sight! The result is fanatics and fundamentalists in Hindus and Muslims have made living for ordinary people difficult.

The Hindutva fanatics in India have poisoned the minds of vast numbers of Hindus and have made them anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan by their continuous propaganda. Many feel that is the only way to make India a purely Hindu state by preaching the mantra of Akhand Bharat. There is so much hatred against Muslims and Islam in Indian right-wing Hindus, which I find hard to believe.

In Pakistan, the right-wing religious and political parties have equally viciously poisoned the minds of millions of people for establishing a theocratic state instead of a modern democratic state.

Consequently, their continuous indoctrination and misleading information against the non-Muslims has relegated religious minorities in Pakistan to a secondary status. The victimisation of some innocent people for having violated the so-called blasphemy laws of Pakistan under concocted charges is a living proof of the cancerous fanaticism and primitive mindset that once flourished in the early middle ages.

What sort of productive system Marx and Engels saw in Britain

January 8, 2017

Nasir Khan, January 8, 2017

The following photo is from Victorian England, which in those days had the largest empire in the world. It gives a small glimpse into the living conditions of young children.

Where did the wealth by trade and commercial activity with the colonies and the rest of the world go? Certainly, it didn’t go to the working class people, the poor, the paupers, and their children but only in the coffers of the ruling elite and the bourgeoisie.

Many writers and social historians wrote about the wretched conditions under which the poor and underprivileged people lived. Among them were two friends of German origin, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who witnessed the condition of the working class and poor people in Britain.

In their prognosis, the expanding capitalist system was based on greed and profit-making, where the social, economic welfare of the working class had no meaning for the owners of means of production and the control they exercised over the process of production.

Such an unjust and inhumane system needed to be replaced by a system where the means of productions were not to be left in the hands of a tiny minority but were held jointly by the majority to create a humane and caring society. Marx and Engels formulated their ideas in their books and papers that form the basis of Scientific Socialism.

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Happy New Year

December 31, 2016

Nasir Khan, Dec. 31, 2016

Happy New Year to all our readers and friends!

Come, fill the cup, and in the fire of spring
Your winter garment of repentance fling.
The bird of time has but a little way
To flutter – and the bird is on the wing.

— Omar Khayyam

A comment on US Secretary Kerry’s speech

December 28, 2016
  Nasir Khan, Dec. 28, 2016

No doubt, Secretary Kerry’s speech was crafted quite cleverly. One can’t but be amused by the linguistic chicanery he displayed by putting Israeli Zionists and occupied Palestinians in the same category!

However, the task of defending the undefendable policies of US imperialism in relation to the occupied people of Palestine and the Zionist rulers is not easy. Nevertheless, the question is: Why did he make this speech now when the Obama administration would be gone in about three weeks’ time, and not before? He had some four years to speak candidly in public, even for facilitating the continuing expansion of the Zionist state!

As I see it, Kerry’s speech will be exploited to the full by Zionists, both in Israel and America, to play the victim card and blame the Palestinians for having stood in the way of peace! Period.
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John Kerry has delivered perhaps his most impassioned speech on the Israel-Palestinian crisis – insisting that a two-state solution is the only way to achieve peace…
independent.co.uk

On the unity of workers for a socialist world order

December 27, 2016

Nasir Khan, December 27, 2016

When the workers of all countries unite for the common cause of a creating a society where the capitalists and owners of the means of production do not control the lives and destinies of the 99% of human beings in the world, any such unity in Marxist thought is known as proletarian internationalism.

The goal of the struggle of the working masses including peasants and landless serfs is primarily to defend themselves against the power and domination of the owners of means of production that they mostly use for augmenting their own wealth and upholding their privileges. The ideas about the unity of working classes to create a humane world has been the focus of theoretical and practical activities of generations of socialists since the founders of Scientific Socialism formulated their economic and political theories in the 19th century.

The first major step in creating a socialist society took place in Czarist Russia where the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin overthrew the old dynastic rule and introduced the Soviet system.

The success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a catalyst for revolutionary activities of the working masses in many countries and also a clarion call to the colonised people to overthrow their colonial masters. As a result, anti-colonial struggles became a powerful force in many Afro-Asian countries. Many countries, big and small, succeeded in throwing off the yoke of European masters.

But in many instances the local ruling classes that emerged had their roots in privileged classes or groups. The struggle for political and economic exploitation became their sole interest. While such leaders plundered their own people and used the political system as a camouflage for furthering their interests, the plight of the poor people remained a non-issue for them. In any case, it is little consolation to the working class, poor or starving people that their “glorious” saviours and leaders have hundreds of millions of dollars stacked in secret banks accounts in Switzerland, France, Britain and America!

However, such exploitation and downright plunder is not incidental. It is endemic, and closely related to how the capitalist political and economic system works. As long as capitalism lives, such exploitation will have its sway. In the third world countries, the problem of institutionalied brainwashing coupled with the exploitation of religion and cheap deceptive slogans at the hands of the ruling elites will continue to play havoc with the people of many Afro-Asian countries.

No doubt, capitalism is wonderful for a few but a disaster for many. To address such issues, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels advocated socialist democracy and a socialist system in place of capitalism. To achieve that goal, political education of working classe people is the first step and that education is part of the political activity that is expressed by the unity of the workers.

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Eternal Glory to El Commandante Fidel Castro!

November 26, 2016

Nasir Khan, November 26, 2016

The death of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro is a sad occasion for all those comrades and friends who for decades have shown solidarity with the people of Cuba and the Cuban revolution.

Since the victory of the Cuban revolution, the U.S. rulers did their utmost to stifle the revolution and kill its leader. To this end, they hatched some 638 schemes to assassinate him and also made actual attempts to this end. However, the criminal syndicate of US rulers to carry out subversive acts in the world, the CIA, did not succeed. As we all know, Fidel Castro died a natural death in his mature age.

The American rulers could not face the fact that the Cuban revolutionaries who overthrew the US-ally, dictator Batista, were to choose the path of Socialism. In the eyes of Washington this was an unforgivable offence. To keep their hegemonic control of the Caribbean they organised the invasion of Cuba in 1961. But the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion failed.

In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer to a nuclear war but luckily the American military hawks did not send us into the nuclear inferno! In fact, it was the Soviet leadership that showed restraint by pulling the recently-placed missiles in Cuba that were placed there in the first place to defend Cuba against American military aggression. In this way, a major crisis was averted that had the potential to ignite a global war.

Despite all the hostile American policies and sabotage, the Cuban revolution stood its ground. Fidel Castro rose to every challenge and heroically mobilised his people to confront the American imperialism.

The collapse of the Soviet Union drastically changed the world political scene with far-reaching repercussions for the Socialist movement. Now Cuba was alone and many thought the end of Socialism in Cuba was just a questions of time. But the resilience of the Cuban people under the inspiring leadership of Fidel Castro and the Communist Party of Cuba did not slacken. Notwithstanding many economic hardships, the rallying cry of Castro was ‘Socialism or death’. That meant no compromise with the neighbour, the only superpower and bully that wanted its hegemony accepted without question.

Another disconcerting factor for the Cuban revolutionary government was to see China and Vietnam taking the path of ‘raw capitalism’ while they still retained the name of socialism for their one-party bureaucratic system. Yet, this did not dampen the spirit of Fidel Castro. The revolutionary remained firm in his resolve to lead the fight for Socialism and an independent Cuba. His example inspired Latin American revolutionaries like Hugo Chavez and others.

His name and legacy will endure and continue to inspire new generations of revolutionary workers and activists for a socialist future.
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https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1636810276344714&set=a.121677137858043.18545.100000472735323&type=3&theater

Religions are for People, not for any State

November 16, 2016
 –
Nasir Khan, November 16, 2016
 –
In 1971, the people of East Pakistan achieved their political separation from West Pakistan at a very high cost. The country since then called Bangladesh like many Asian countries has been a traditional country where religions in the lives of its people have played an important part as a cohesive force. There are Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and others living in this country.
It is good to see a state adhering to the principle of non-partisanship in matters of religion and treating the followers of all faiths as equal citizens where the followers of minority religions have no fears of discrimination and recriminations. Obviously, the role of state in modern times is much different from what it was in the middle ages.
In democracies, religion and state are separated. No person of sound mind any longer stands for a coercive state that imposes its own version of religion on its citizens. Only the misguided and indoctrinated people oppose the separation of state and religion. However, a democratic state remains neutral in matters of religion; it does not favour or patronise one section of the population over the others merely because of religion. This is the path of secularism in which state respects all religions without letting any religion dictate its political and social policies in any way. Under such a system, people can practise their religions and follow their religious traditions without any intervention from the state.
If Bangladesh follows the democratic model and allows the people to follow whatever religions they want to follow without patronising one religion as state religion then the country has taken a major step in the right direction. No doubt, conservative and retrogressive forces within the country will oppose any such democratic and humane path.
                                     . . . . .

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bangladesh-islam-state-religion-government-considers-dropping-a7418366.html

Government officials in Bangladesh are considering dropping Islam as the country’s national religion after a senior politician claimed Bangladeshi people have embraced “a force of secularism”.

Dr Abdur Razzak, a leading member of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party, proposed the religion be withdrawn from the country’s constitution during a discussion at the National Press Club in the capital Dhaka.

“Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. Here we live with people from all religions and Islam should not be accommodated as the state religion in the Bangladeshi constitution,” Dr Razzak said in his report.

 “I have said it abroad and now I am saying it again that Islam will be dropped from Bangladesh’s constitution when the time comes.

“The force of secularism is within the people of Bangladesh. There is no such thing as a ‘minority’ in our country.”

Dr Razzak added he believed Islam had been maintained as the state religion for “strategic reasons”, but declined to elaborate on this during the discussion.

Islam is the largest religion in Bangladesh, with a practicing Muslim population of approximately 150 million – making it the fourth largest Muslim population in the world after India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

According to a national survey from 2003, religion was the primary way Bangladeshi citizens identified themselves, and atheism was found to be rare.

During a recent speech, Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the importance of “taking care” of those who follow minority religions.

“Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony which should be maintained at any cost for development and brighten the country’s image.”

The prime minister also condemned the recent actions of the militant group Isis, who have carried out various violent attacks against religious minority communities this year.

“You have to remain careful so that no such incidents, which are taking place sporadically in different parts of the country, take place anywhere in the country,” she added

Making of History

November 11, 2016

Nasir Khan, November 11, 2016

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living.”

Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)
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The social, political and economic factors in shaping history have been emphasised time and again by socialist theorists. Here in this short extract, Karl Marx points to the importance of prevailing objective conditions that determine the course of history. How he sees a logic in the social developments is part of his philosophy of history.

The conscious efforts of human beings sometimes set in motion the wheels of history and sometimes accelerate the speed of that process. But these variables are also dependent on the major trends that already exist. What exists is not independent of what has gone before but is rather a result of the earlier conditions under which historical events took place and the steady historical processes that have been in operation. Even in the realm of speculative thought and old metaphysical issues, we are profoundly conditioned by the old modes of thought and traditions.

Even a great thinker like Marx elaborated his thought by imbibing the ideas of the French Enlightenment, from Montesquieu to Linget and Condorcet, and by the Scottish historians. He took from Hegel the idea that history is the progressive self-realisation of man by practical social activity. While Hegel’s ideas were couched in somewhat obscure language, Marx was able to find the essntial meanings they contained. As a result he developed his ideas by subjecting Feuerbach and Hegel in matters of the role of religion, State, civil society, bureaucracy and the class structure of the industrial society.

His ideas of revolutionary Socialism became clearer in his thought by his critical assessment of the older socialist thinkers. The same thing applies in his understanding and explanation about the capitalism by his close scrutiny of the earlier economists.

Education of girls

October 31, 2016

Nasir Khan, October 31, 2016

In these times, in all civilised countries governments and civic organisations strive for the educations of all, boys and girls, men and women. The right to education is respected by all and people are doing their best to uplift women socially who have been victims for thousands of years of gender discrimination and servile existence.

Even in the third world countries, most of people recognise the importance of the education of girls, As a result, we all witness some good progress made in the positive direction. Unluckily, there are also some people in traditional societies who oppose the social uplift of women in society. They want to keep women tied to the old customs and traditions. The only justification for their opposition to women’s education and their adamant opposition to the equality of opportunities to women in all walks of life as full human beings is rooted in deep ignorance and the patriarchal norms of male domination. Somehow, such people also misuse religion for their vicious struggle against women’s worthy existence.

As I see it, all sane people in Pakistan feel proud that a young girl, Malala Yousafzai, who became a victim of violence at the hands of some ignorant terrorists but recovered and has stood for the right to education of all girls. She is a brave girl. What she stands for is in the best traditions of the heroic figures who become symbols for humane causes and people’s struggles.

The reactionaries and ignorant people have their mentors, their barbarian perspectives and their terrorist methods. But the people who want to see a third world society where both men and women can contribute to social progress and universal norms of civilised behaviour see the work of Malala Yousufzai as an inspiration and a way forward.

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