May 1 Is Labor Day

Labor Day

May 1. — Sing praise to the working women and men — across the world.

May Day is an auspicious day worldwide for its historical importance, as well as political impact — especially to bring the working class men, women, and families together. It has won many battles for the ordinary people, and people who are now blasting labor unions are actually reaping fruits of the glorious workers’ struggle.

May Day has its origin in Chicago when workers’ struggle for an 8-hour workday saw riot, police violence, and massacre. Yet, unlike the rest of the world, we don’t observe the International Labor Day here in USA, because both the U.S. ruling class and detached-from-global-unity labor unions refused, rejected, and condemned any movement with an iota of socialism.

Socialism and the concept of equality, let alone Marxism, is denigrated here (without any analysis), especially by media, the two big political parties, elite academia, and Wall Street. The wonderful, gallant history of labor unions in America is history that nobody reads anymore. Few people care to know about great labor leaders such as Emma Goldman, Hellen Keller, or Eugene Debbs. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last speech just before his assassination to a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Emma Goldman

That tradition of distorting and destroying history in America has not changed even today. Republicans found a racist, lying man to be elected president, Democrats found a lying, detached-from-reality woman to be their candidate, and New York Times and CNN trashed Bernie Sanders, who talked about equality, real-life issues of the 99%, and proposed peace and justice for all. AFL-CIO sang praises for Trump, who wants to get rid of unions! Truly, this is the era of Post-Truth, or as I call it, Post-Rationalism.

Until U.S. workers and labor unions came out of this pathetic hegemony and found their own political platform, labor unions will keep declining, and the American 1% will destroy mankind.

I sing praise to May Day, the International Workers’ Day.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee (a labor educator in New York)

Brooklyn

haymarket-riot-hero-AB

My Fifteen Years with Hindu Fanatic RSS

PB RSS book cover

This is a personal confession that might shock some of you, those who have known me for my many years of progressive, pro-equality activism.

I spent a very precious fifteen years of my life with Hindu militant RSS, and also their now-famous political wing BJP and student organization ABVP. As you know, BJP is now the powerful ruling party in India, and they support Trump. I left RSS and BJP before I moved from India as an international student to America.

When I came out, I was a rising star: top RSS leaders in India personally knew me, and put me in charge of West Bengal state of ABVP. They also sent me to New Delhi to attend the first-ever conference of Janata Party, a conglomerate of anti-Indira Gandhi opposition. I was also deeply involved with the grassroots peoples’ movement led by Jay Prakash Narayan, a movement that successfully unseated mighty Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party for the first time in Indian history.

Fifteen precious years of my life — I spent with a militant, male chauvinist, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, anti-socialism, anti-union, feudal Hindu supremacist organization that is strikingly similar in its social, economic and political doctrine with Christian or Islamic fanatic groups across the world. An organization that at one point eulogized Hitler and Nazis. An organization that masterminded — directly or indirectly — many Hindu-Muslim violence, and was once implicated in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Godse killed Gandhi

I deeply mourn those lost fifteen years. In fact, it was more than fifteen years. I joined them when I was only a six-year-old boy, and quit them once and for all, when I was doing my M.Sc. in the University of Calcutta. My old Calcutta friends know how passionately I had worked for the Hindu militants.

God! I was thick and thin, with religious and race bigotry!

Slowly but surely, I realized that I must write about them. In 1998, my book called In the Belly of the Beast: Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India — An Insider’s Story was published from Ajanta Books International Delhi. It was somewhat of an autobiography: I talked about my long, personal, and deep association with those groups. I talked about my hundreds of peers, leaders, and friends. I wrote about my countless activities.

In the book, I highlighted the similarities across the fanatic, fundamentalist, and supremacist groups from various parts of the world. I also showed the hypocrisy of RSS and its offshoot organizations such as BJP, ABVP and Viswa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), when it comes to preaching Hinduism and and its peace, and practicing hate and violence.

The book also has my translation of an article written by my father Jitendra Nath Banerjee, who has been a lifelong activist with RSS. He is a highly respected man among their circles, for his uprightness, honesty, and personal sacrifice for his ideology.

I respect my father’s lifelong sacrifice for his cause. But I do not support the cause.

I will post excerpts from my book here slowly. Hope you have time to read.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Related blog I posted before on this subject. — A Candid Confession.
Modi at RSS prayer
India’s prime minister Modi at RSS prayer.

Trump’s “Buy American” Propaganda

buy american propaganda

I saw a news item in Washington Post this morning that Trump is going to sign an order on his “Buy American, Hire American” rhetoric. Then, I saw it on CNN.

I know this is a populist message that he is singing now to please his voters, who are already becoming disillusioned with him.

(Hence, the war drumbeat to shore up support at home. North Korea has less than 15 nuclear weapons compared to U.S. and Russia’s 7,000 each. Israel has 80 nuclear warheads, India and Pakistan has 120 each. Media’s new portrayal of “evil” North Korea is just like mirror image of what we saw before U.S. bombed Iraq. Kim Jong-un looks strikingly similar to media’s “evil” Saddam Hussain just a few years ago.)

But this is purely rhetoric, and has nothing to do with reality. I just thought I should write about my two cents on this issue, in case anybody out there cares. I doubt anybody truly does, other than the diehard peace and anti-nuclear activists.

So, what is going on? Why is “Buy American” a fake, cheap slogan?

Basically, globalization of the economy has broken down all the barriers and national frontiers, when it comes to doing business and free flowing of money around the world. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries have been the richest of the rich: the one percent. Globalization has not done much, if anything at all, to bring the human communities together from various races, colors, religions and nationalities. In fact, hate, fear, and division have risen in an unprecedented way. Across the world, whether it’s USA, India, France, or Turkey, isolationist, anti-democracy leaders have cashed in on fear and terror, and divided people even more.

This is a low point in human history.

“Buy American” in particular is a hollow slogan, and not only it’s a failed saga of and isolationist economic principle that does not work, but it is also a slogan based on pure lies and propaganda. Here is why.

Almost all U.S. and other multinational corporations now manufacture their products across the globe, almost always outside of the U.S., exploiting slave labor and sweatshops, maximizing profit, and destroying the environment and labor unions. And we all know, by outsourcing their manufacturing and other trading bases, they have managed to dodge their share of taxes, in billions of dollars. Wal-Mart, GE, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Disney, Monsanto, Apple, Coke, IBM, Apple, Oracle, Gap, J. C. Penny, Caterpillar, and also war industries and drug companies have done it the worst possible way.

Even Facebook, Google, and all the other social media…they all do a big chunk of their IT business outside of the U.S. Paying much less to their white-collar slaves in Third World countries. With no union rights. Sure, Google’s head is an Indian origin. So what?

Can Trump bring all these corporations back to USA for manufacturing here 100%, using 100% U.S. labor? And unionized labor? We all know that’s not what he has on his mind. He is using big media – Fox, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, ABC and NBC included – to create this illusion, without telling the American people the whole story.

Fact is, U.S. foreign policy has always been based on forcing countries across the world to buy U.S. businesses, and U.S. powers have toppled governments when they resisted. They have killed democracy, and created and supported dictatorship.

Just look up. It’s easily available. Maybe, start with Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn.

Can U.S. economy survive without selling its products across the globe? Will U.S. stop selling its weapons, cars, tobacco, movies, toys, computers, clothes, or drugs in India, Africa, China, Europe, or Latin America?

What if countries retaliate by banning U.S. products in their countries? Poor and powerless countries may not be able to do it, but rich countries might. Will Trump start bombing them too? If Germany does not import U.S. computers…if Britain does not allow U.S. pharmaceuticals…If Canada does not let MacDonald’s or Coke in…

Can we separate U.S. economic policies from its foreign policies and war policies? Will the biggest corporations – the one percent – let a U.S. president force them to pay their taxes, and bring their jobs back home?

I believe we need to search for our own answers, and let our own people know what we think. That’s all we the small people with small powers can do.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

US-Military-Bases-Around-The-World

Good Friday. Thank God, It’s Not “Happy.”

Church-of-the-Holy-Sepulchre

Good Friday is now a forgotten day.

It has no meaning. Because it does not draw much business. Malls don’t make much money on a sad day. Media don’t consider it to be “Happy Good Friday.”

Nobody sends a “Happy” greeting. (Thank God!).

I am really tired of this relentless “happiness.” Like, please gimme a break!

If someone did a survey of all the holidays — Mother’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Halloween — and made a comparison between all the corporate sales and discounts and profits, Good Friday would perhaps rank the lowest. It’s not profitable at all.

Wal-Mart, J C. Penny, Target, T. J. Maxx, MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell…Gap, Mango, Botany, K-Mart, all the fancy restaurants and cheap joints…make a scientific survey on their sales and profit. You’ll know.

Good Friday is neither good, nor happy for Corporate America.

Yet, even though I am not a Christian, and never want to be one, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to save his people from the rulers’ wrath greatly inspires me. I remember when I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where he was crucified, I was emotional.

Good Friday is not about big bombs, new violence, and war drumbeats. It’s about peace.

On this Good Friday, early in the morning, America — with its Christian rulers — dropped the biggest U.S. bomb on Afghanistan. To kill. Many innocent men, women, and children included. Media is okay with it. Democrats and Republicans are okay with it.

Corporate America is totally okay with it.

Jesus Christ is not happy today, either.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Golgotha

So, Media and Propaganda? Who Cares?

IMG_1014“Audiences of mass media do not exist a priori. They are actively constructed through careful programming decisions and marketing strategies, as well as transnational flows of information, capital, and commodities, and in some cases, the agendas of the nation-state.” (Purnima Mankekar, 1999).

That’s mass media today, as written by an Indian woman scholar. But average response to her observation will be like as follows.

Like, (1) “Who cares?” Or, like, (2) “What are you talking about?” Or, (3) “Those lefty intellectuals!” Or, (4) “What’s the big deal? Doesn’t everybody do it?” Or, (5) “Well, they’re doing business too, just like everyone else!”

How can you talk substance to a vast majority of dumbed-down people — people who not understand the objective voice of reason? People who do not know the difference between journalism and propaganda?

Media propaganda has reached an unbelievable, abysmal low. Both in USA and in India. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, etc. here in America. And their counterpart media in India. All these media are either directly owned or totally subsidized by corporate businesses. GE, Disney, Exxon, Wal-Mart, Reliance, Ambani, Tata. Very few people make the connection.

They have actively silenced any voice of dissent, and killed any possible debate. But most people do not understand this game. The 1% have successfully created an illusion that this is freedom, free thinking, and democracy.

USA’s illegal war, bombing and killing of innocent people in a faraway land are now completely legitimized. Economic terror, religious violence, hatred and bigotry of Gandhi murderers are now totally acceptable.

Nobody even blinks to wonder how is it possible that in a so-called “Land of the Free,” 25% of world’s prisoners are rotting in U.S. jails. Nobody pauses for a second to question how the U.S. media are doing 24/7 propaganda for Trump’s illegal bombing in Syria.

In a two-party system, both parties are now wings of the 1%. Republicans and Democrats in USA. BJP and Congress in India.

Media is their propaganda machine.

Think. Like, what else can I say?

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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My Mother’s Death Transformed Me

Today is my mother’s death anniversary.

She passed away when she was only forty-two. Had she not died of cancer at a very early age, she would have been eighty years of age today. Or, perhaps, eighty-one. We were not exactly sure of the year of her birth.

Well, life brings joys, and life brings sorrows. But my mother’s early, painful death has created a deep impression on me about women’s plight, injustice, and human rights in general. That one tragedy transformed me, and slowly made me what I am today.

My father, who is a lifelong, hardcore RSS (Hindu fundamentalist), is missing her all these years. He is now ninety-three. When my mother died, he was about fifty-three.

He has lived a very long, very lonely life ever since her death. And I know, a stoic man he is, he has kept a very deep sadness in his heart.

He did whatever he could to save her life. He was a loving husband and responsible head of the family. My mother’s cancer was a rare type that spread too rapidly.

Yet, it is undeniably true that my mother was a victim of the extreme, systemic patriarchy and gender inequality in India. Her life did not have the same value as ours — men. We did not pay attention to her well being the way we should have.

I have carried a deep trauma in my all my life too. But looking back, that one incident perhaps made me think differently about my life.

And our lives: lives of poor and powerless people like us — in India, and elsewhere.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York