Showing posts from March, 2017

Press Release: People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism: Defend Democratic Rights of all Citizens of India

  Stand Against Religious Bigotry, Defend Democratic Rights of all Citizens of India Press Release March 29, 2017 People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) condemns the murder of rationalist H. Farook in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu on March 16, 2017. Farook was a member of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (Dravidian Freedom Organisation) which is inspired by the rationalist ideas of Periyar. According to the police, the six men who killed Farook were self-radicalised and 'claimed that their radical thought had justified the murder of a Muslim who had deviated from faith and they are proud of what they had done'. After Dr. Dabholkar, Com Govind Pansare and Professor Kalburgi, Farook is the fourth rationalist who has been murdered by the so called champions of religion. On the same day, i.e. March 16 Prof Narendra Nayak, the president of Indian Federation of Rationalist Associations was threatened with assault in Bangalore. On March 19 in Jaipur a group

Helen Pluckrose: Postmodernism and its impact, explained

Foucault’s argument that knowledge is historically contingent must itself be historically contingent, and one wonders why Derrida bothered to explain the infinite malleability of texts at such length if I could read his entire body of work and claim it to be a story about bunny rabbits Post-modernism and the Academic Left Those who are obsessed by language finally come to the conviction that there is nothing but interpretation:  Stanley Rosen  in  Hermeneutics as Politics Postmodernism, most simply, is an artistic and philosophical movement which began in France in the 1960s and produced bewildering art and even more bewildering  “theory.” It drew on avant-garde and surrealist art and earlier philosophical ideas, particularly those of Nietzsche and Heidegger, for its anti-realism and rejection of the concept of the unified and coherent individual. It reacted against the liberal humanism of the modernist artistic and intellectual movements, which its proponents saw as naïvely

Global Seed Vault is actually a reminder that the world is always ending.

 the Global Seed Vault on the Svalbard archipelago (is) part of a frigid cluster of islands far north of Norway where  polar bears  outnumber  human residents . It’s a destination I first discovered in Lauren Redniss’ remarkable illustrated study of weather,  Thunder and Lightning . There, she writes, you’ll find the vault, a reinforced and heavily secured tunnel, built into a frozen mountain. It contains hundreds of thousands of unique samples of agricultural crops and serves as a backup repository for seeds from more local vaults around the world. The collection is so inclusive that, as of 2016, virtually every country was represented within. In  photographs , the vault’s exterior is strikingly beautiful, thanks in large part to the haunting crystalline light installation by Dyveke Sanne above the entrance. When Redniss draws the vault, though, she emphasizes just how small it is, a tiny gray wedge emerging out of the endless white expanse of the mountain. It’s an image of resil

Humans Produce So Much Junk, We Are Creating a New Geological Layer By Starre Vartan

Consumerism plays a massive role in climate change—all those fossil fuels we have to burn to make and ship our stuff, all those trees cut down to make way for expanding cities and businesses, all that livestock that sate our increasing appetites for burgers and steak. But the environmental impact that all of our material goods have on the planet goes far beyond the greenhouse gases emitted in the process of creating and transporting these things. In fact, much of it has to do with what we leave behind. It’s a manmade phenomenon so massive that that earth scientists suggest it’s creating a  distinct geological layer  upon the Earth made up of technofossils. Most people associate geological layers with eras long gone: paleontologists digging up fossils of stegosauruses or ancient corals, the stunning layered lines of the Grand Canyon giving testimony to the billions of years of life on Earth. But we’re creating our own coating on the planet that will outlast us. Just as dinosaur bon

Observe April 4/5 All-India & International Day of Protest: Free the Maruti Workers!

Appeal to Observe 4th/5th April as All-India & International Day of Protest Free the Maruti Workers! Comrades, You are aware of the repression on us by the nexus of Company management-Police-Government, as 13 MSWU members have been sentenced to Life Imprisonment and 4 more workers handed 5 years by the Gurgaon Sessions Court on 18 March 2017 – without a shred of evidence, and solely on the false witness accounts by the management. The MSWU body members have been targeted because they have been the leadership of the struggle since 2011 against illegal contract worker system and for Trade Union rights and dignity of labour. It is a ‘class attack’ as in the words of Maruti CEO RC Bhargava. All workers know that this manifestly unjust verdict is to ‘teach a lesson’ to us by those in power that we should not fight for our rights and dignity on the shop-floor and beyond. But against this repression, thousands of workers in this industrial belt and across India and world

Gandhi’s Last Message: ‘Raze the Sacred Sites of Others and You Too Will Be Obliterated’ - by Sudhir Chandra

For a man who made such a powerful intervention in the history of the 20th century, many of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas were misunderstood during his lifetime.  Sudhir Chandra’s   Gandhi: An Impossible Possibility,  translated from Hindi by  Chitra Padmanabhan draws our attention to Gandhi’s last years, particularly the marked change in his understanding of the acceptance of non-violence by Indians. It points to a startling discovery Gandhi made in the years preceding India’s Independence and Partition: the struggle for freedom which he had all along believed to be non-violent was in fact not so. Calling for a serious rethink on the very nature and foundation of modern India, this book throws new light on Gandhian philosophy and its far-reaching implications for the world today. Excerpted below is a section from the book in which Gandhi’s voice reaches out to our times with renewed urgency.  Gandhi…had wanted to avoid the country’s partition. Failing in that he engaged himself in pre

Paul Sagar - The last hollow laugh - Francis Fukuyama and 'The End of History’

NB : This informed defence of Fukuyama contains the following arguments:   Late capitalist modernity might be the highest civilisational point we could achieve, because it contained the fewest contradictions...  The anti-capitalist Left, however, was a busted flush. Communism was now a known fraud and failure, and post-Historical people driven by  megalothymia  would have no truck with its egalitarian pretensions, or its nakedly tyrannical realities. Far more threatening to the stability of liberal capitalist societies would be the emergence of demagogic strongmen from the fascistic Right.. Three years after it was written, in the midst of a pandemic, perhaps the author will recognise the fatal flaws in his argument: late capitalist modernity is not a high civilisatonal point: if it is, we are doomed.  And liberalism; communism and  fascism are connected, because the authors' so-called 'fewest contradictions' are always present in all projects to conquer nature .  They h

Larry Elliott - Populism is the result of global economic failure

The rise of populism has rattled the global political establishment.  Brexit  came as a shock, as did the victory of  Donald Trump . Much head-scratching has resulted as leaders seek to work out why large chunks of their electorates are so cross. The answer seems pretty simple. Populism is the result of economic failure. The 10 years since the financial crisis have shown that the system of economic governance which has held sway for the past four decades is broken. Some call this approach  neoliberalism . Perhaps a better description would be unpopulism. Unpopulism meant tilting the balance of power in the workplace in favour of management and treating people like wage slaves. Unpopulism was rigged to ensure that the fruits of growth went to the few not to the many. Unpopulism decreed that those responsible for the global financial crisis got away with it while those who were innocent bore the brunt of austerity. Anybody seeking to understand why Trump won the US presidentia

Exiled Former Russian Lawmaker Shot Dead In Kiev / Lawyer For Russian Whistleblower’s Family Falls From Building One Day Before Hearing

Ukraine accused Russia of “state terrorism” after a former Russian lawmaker and key witness in a treason case against former leader Viktor Yanukovich was shot dead in broad daylight outside a hotel in central Kiev on Thursday. Russia called the allegation “absurd.” Former MP Denis Voronenkov was killed by an assailant who was armed with a pistol. The assailant was wounded by Voronenkov’s bodyguard and later died in hospital, police said. Voronenkov fled to Ukraine last year and was helping the Ukrainian authorities build a treason case against Yanukovich, Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin former president. Voronenkov had also spoken out against Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, although he voted for the move at the time. President Petro Poroshenko said the killing “is an act of state terrorism on the part of Russia, which (Voronenkov) was forced to leave for political reasons.” “Voronenkov was one of the main witnesses of Russian aggression against Ukraine and, in particula

Andrew Calcutt: The surprising origins of ‘post-truth’ – and how it was spawned by the liberal left

the groundbreaking work on “post-truth” was performed by academics, with further contributions from an extensive roster of middle-class professionals. Left-leaning, self-confessed liberals, they sought freedom from state-sponsored truth; instead they built a new form of cognitive confinement – “post-truth”... More than 30 years ago, academics started to discredit “truth” as one of the “grand narratives” which clever people could no longer bring themselves to believe in. Instead of “the truth”, which was to be rejected as naïve and/or repressive, a new intellectual orthodoxy permitted only “truths” – always plural, frequently personalised, inevitably relativised. Under the terms of this outlook, all claims on truth are relative to the particular person making them; there is no position outside our own particulars from which to establish universal truth. This was one of the key tenets of  postmodernism , a concept which first caught on in the 1980s after publication of Jean-F