Showing posts from March, 2013

Fascism: Essays on Europe and India Edited by Jairus Banaji

Image The victory of fascism in Europe between the wars was an incalculable human catastrophe. This collection of essays contains the first-ever English translation of Arthur Rosenberg’s fascinating analysis of the emergence of fascism in Europe, as well as a short introduction to the essay that explains its significance, and then four contributions that extend the framework to India – dealing in turn with Savarkar and the politics of the Hindu Mahasabha (Srinivasan), communalism as the Indian version of fascism and its roots in the majoritarian ideologies of the nation-state (Simeon), and the fascism of the Sangh Parivar as this had emerged by the early ’90s when concerted communal mobilisations unleashed a spate of violence, foreshadowing the even more horrific events of 2002 (Sumit Sarkar). Unlike most left-wing theories of fascism, Rosenberg’s work made the mass base of fascism central to its political success.

James Gilligan on Shame, Guilt and Violence

Shame, Guilt, and Violence / James Gilligan During the past 35 years I have used prisons and prison mental hospitals as "laboratories" in which to investigate the causes and prevention of the various forms of violence and the relationships between these forms and to what I will call (with a nod to William James) "the varieties of moral experience." In the course of that work, I have been struck by the frequency with which I received the same answer when I asked prisoners, or mental patients, why they assaulted or even killed someone. Time after time, they would reply "because he disrespected me" or "he disrespected my visitor [or wife, mother, sister, girl-friend, daughter, etc.]." In fact, they used that phrase so often that they abbreviated it into the slang phrase, "He dis'ed me." Whenever people use a word so often that they abbreviate it, it is clearly central to their moral and emotional vocabulary. But even when they did n

Energy and equity

Ivan Illich's  ‘ Energy & Equity ’  shows how large-scale energy systems entail inequality, unfreedom, and loss of human dignity.   Aaron Peters  and  Tony Curzon Price , in their important exchange about workfare, both seem to accept a basically techno-utopian view of the future of hyper-automation. But this view ignores two crucial factors which make the fundamental picture much less rosy: the environmental constraint and global-scale immiseration on a global scale. Ivan Illich's  ‘Energy & Equity’ (1973)  is still the right place to start to understand the nexus involved. To start with the last of these: the future scenario Keynes described in 1920 - in which increasing productivity make economics essentially disappear as a constraint in our lives has - contrary to what Peters and Curzon Price imply - only very partially been realised. One need only look at the sheer scale of global and intra-national inequality. Immiseration is widespread (and arguably increas

All dissidents now: Russia's protests and the mirror of history

The rising profile of political prisoners, 'Stalinist'-style justice for protest figures, Brezhnevite stagnation and revolutionary romanticism has been met with a wave of interest in past dissident experiences.’ In celebration of New Year 2012 and as a New Year's gift to political prisoners past and present, the radical art group  Voina  [Rn. War] set a police detention van on fire in Saint Petersburg. In an effort to resurrect a spirit of resistance against continuing state oppression,  Voina  dedicated its action to dissident writers who died in prison camps during the 1970s and 1980s, as well as to Sergey Magnitsky. The past year has seen an influx of historical images into Russian political and cultural life. Although they were present before, the protests have reinvigorated a range of historical symbols as opposition groups, their supporters and their opponents attempt to gain purchase on the situation at hand. Rightly or wrongly, for a range of different groups and

Book review: The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence

Kevin B. Anderson and Russell Rockwell, eds,   The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence, 1954-1978: Dialogues on Hegel, Marx and Critical Theory ,  2012 Reviewed by  Ben Watson Raya Dunayevskaya died in 1987 aged 77, but her ideas remain alive and to-be-lived-by today, a permanent reproach to thought’s accommodation to an intolerable present. Dunayevskaya inspired and inspires a special enthusiasm, evidenced here by the meticulousness of the editing: no passing reference to text or event is left without a footnote. The scholarly apparatus is not there to obscure the original writing, but to make sure no prior knowledge – of history, of politics, of ‘isms’ – is taken for granted. The result is that, in its footnoted entirety, the book becomes an ideal introduction to the agonistic drama of twentieth-century life and politics: global conflicts are pursued right down to the  minutiae  which make and break friendships. This is entirely in the spirit of Dunayevskaya, the revol

In Chhattisgarh, tribal women retract rape charges

In December 2012, six tribal women had come forward to lodge formal complaints of gang rape against Special Police Officers (SPO).. amidst allegations of hundreds of rapes in south Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2009. With some of them withdrawing their statements now, many are asking if this was yet another instance of miscarriage of justice — one in which the State actively connived. Of the six tribal women of Shamsetti village in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh who in 2009 gave statements in court that they had been gang-raped by Salwa Judum functionaries, three have now withdrawn their charges. Three key witnesses — family members of the women — have also retracted their statements. Some lawyers in Dantewada familiar with the case say that the women are withdrawing due to “severe pressure” from several quarters. Many Salwa Judum members have now been inducted into the regular police force as constables. The lawyers say that the remaining victims and witnesses may appear in cour

Books reviewed: Afghanistan: The Way to Peace

A basic question raised by these books is what the Afghan experience of the past decade can tell us about the United States and its Western allies when they “go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”  .. Central to the problem is the number of forces and persons involved. A short and by no means exhaustive list of these includes, on the anti-Taliban side: the US government and military (which of course have their own serious differences); the Karzai presidency and clan, and their immediate allies; non-Pashtun warlords and other leaders opposed to the Taliban; and Westernized Afghan officials and  NGO figures in Kabul. Among the armed opposition, the list includes the Taliban under Mullah Omar (which also has potentially serious internal divisions); the Haqqani network; the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; the remnants of al-Qaeda in the region; the Pakistani Taliban; and anti-Indian terrorist groups based in Pakistan, some now in rebellion against the Pakistani state, oth

Book Review: - Derrida: The Excluded Favorite

Derrida: A Biography , by Benoît Peeters Reviewed by  Emily Eakin   In May of 1951, at the age of twenty, Jacques Derrida took the entrance exams for the prestigious École Normale Supérieure a second time, having failed, as many students do, in his first attempt the previous year. Fueled by amphetamines after a sleepless week, he choked on the written portion and turned in a blank sheet of paper. The same month, he was awarded a dismal 5 out of 20 on his qualifying exam for a  license  in philosophy. “The answers are brilliant in the very same way that they are obscure,” the examiner wrote, encapsulating a sentiment about Derrida’s work that has since become a commonplace: An exercise in virtuosity, with undeniable intelligence, but with no particular relation to the history of philosophy….Can come back when he is prepared to accept the rules and not  invent  where he needs to be better  informed . Jacques Derrida at the Sorbonne, June, 1979 In America, Derrida, who die

Vidarbha: Epicentre of suicides

Inside this abyss, Vidarbha is flooded with thousands of tales of tragedy. And the cold-blooded truth is, there is no end to this documentary of death and dying. Farmer suicides are only a symbolic pointer Akash Bisht/Sadiq Naqvi Pandharkawada, Yavatmal Advertisements promising massive   crop yield dot the entire landscape of Yavatmal district in Maharashtra. Surprisingly private companies are spending gigantic sums on these rosy campaigns. On walls, on huge billboards, on Maharashtra State Transport Corporation buses. The  happy face of a farmer proudly showcasing his cotton yield in these thousands of advertisements makes one wonder if this unhappy twilight zone is indeed the ‘Farmer’s Suicide Epicentre’ of the country. However, like most ad campaigns, they are designed to mislead as these reporters discovered in the small town of Pandharkawada and in the deep interiors of crisis-stricken Vidarbha. Seed and fertiliser stores line the small market-place of this mofussil town.

Anand Teltumbde: The Myth of Good People

The fact is that ‘opened-up’ India is a node in the gigantic network of global capital that does not have any moral qualms about corruption. Can Arvind Kejriwal’s rhetoric arrest this monster?   One cannot help   but admire Arvind Kejriwal. The zest with which he has made the issue of corruption to eclipse all other; the strategy under which he brought in Anna Hazare’s moral authority to bear upon it for mobilising people; the discretion with which he managed the rift with Hazare and his team; the élan with which he plunged into politics; the alacrity with which he covers up his glaring contradictions, and the untiring zeal with which he has been conducting himself may not find easy parallels. It is not easy these days to bring up any issue of collective interest to appeal to discrete individuals pulverized by neoliberal ideological crushers and has sustained it for over a year now is not a mean achievement. Whether one agrees with him or not, he has already made a mark on the politi