Irma and Harvey Exposed America Naked

Maria destroys Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria now ravaged Puerto Rico. The entire island is in dark. Curfew is on. This is United States of America. (Photo from SFGate dot com. For non-profit, one-time, academic use only.)

__________________
August ended and September started in America with two humongous, historic hurricanes.

Those who do not live in USA cannot fathom the calamity that knocked down the doors of some of the poorest people here. People in India and elsewhere are not able to understand what is happening in USA – one of the richest nations on earth.

As I write this article, Hurricane Harvey has turned Houston into an ocean before leaving for new destruction. Many in the city famous for NASA have their lives literally under water. People have left their homes just like the time when Katrina had struck New Orleans.

Dailyreadlist dot comHurricane Harvey, Houston, America. Photo courtesy: Dailyreadlist dot com .

Just when Harvey left a trail of devastation, Irma struck the Caribbean islands. It left, but not before sinking Havana. After pummeling through South Florida and its many small keys, including Hemingway’s Key West, Hurricane Irma has destroyed lives in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Jacksonville in North Florida. People have died — more than a hundred from the effects of Harvey alone, and the counts of death from Irma are yet to be fully known.

News from the “savage” Cuban and Caribbean islands do not deserve space in “civilized” American media. One of my acquaintances had gone for a holiday on an island in the  Bahamas. She came back safe. But she noticed that all the media coverage there was focused on the imminent threat faced by the tourism industry of Miami, Tampa, and South Florida. None of the news channels did much to warn the people of these “God-forsaken,” out-of-the way islands about the danger lurking. People there were not prepared to face the storm: there was no serious evacuation plan for millions directly in the path of the hurricane’s eye.

Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin were destroyed for a lifetime. But, American media’s wisdom is, “It happens all the time.” Who in their right mind lives there? Only poor black and brown people. They will survive anyways. Why, haven’t the people of Sunderbans survived after Super-Cyclone Aila of 2009? Havana – oh yes, the communist den! It is because of them that there’s so much trouble in this world in the first place. It’s God’s will, can’t you see? No one dies here in God-believing America.

America is great! For the moment let us overlook that St. Croix, St. John, Virgin Islands – all American places – are destroyed. But, heck, the coasts of Florida with their bikini beaches, casinos, golf courses are safe. Mercy to God!

The problem, however, is that America is not really so great. Not anymore. Numerous people in Florida — white, black, brown — still have their lives in major peril. Their houses and apartments and mobile homes were washed away. Hurricane Sandy had drowned New York City a few years ago, and today, Florida and Texas are under water. Thousands of people have taken refuge in government shelters. Basketball stadiums were turned into refugee camps, along with public schools. Government is supporting the poor with food, clothes, medicines, water. Many Non-profit organizations are also helping.

Irma shelter Florida BBC

Hurricane Irma shelter in Florida, USA. Photo courtesy: BBC News.

In this age of rampant corporatization and privatization, and the naked euphoria for everything “private,” it is actually the government that is supporting the vulnerable – countless of them in this so-called First World. If you notice carefully, you will find that all the warnings were issued by the National Weather Service and NASA. The heavy task of evacuation was carried out by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is them who have relentlessly planned to save the poor children, men, women and elderly from danger, death and starvation. It was public transportation and roads and highways that made the evacuation possible. With government police, military, and other such agencies. Not for profit organizations and volunteers helped them enormously.

Ronald Reagan said, there is no need of a government, because “Government is the problem.” No Sir, Your Honor, government is not the problem. Unchecked, unprecedented privatization, and out-of-control greed of private corporations is the real problem. Their fossil fuel burning, big, gas-guzzling cars and SUVs, exploitation of Mother Nature for oil, natural gas, or coal, combined with massive deforestation and urbanization have destroyed all the ecological and environmental equilibrium. This disaster is due to the havoc it has played with never-in-history emission of carbon di-oxide and other toxic gases, forcing a massive global temperature rise, and a catastrophic climate change.

Scientists have warned many times over, but the rulers in USA, China and India have not taken any heed. The environment is in the face of a major calamity today. The great scientist Stephen Hawking said that this world as we know it today would be completely uninhabitable in the coming hundred years. Environment disaster will bring forth new violence, unbelievable misery, and refugee crises for the people in all corners of earth. USA, India will not be spared.

And here in America, the far right president and his anti-people ruling class still deny climate change. They don’t believe in science, and honestly, this is the only developed country in the world that has so much science-ignorance and illiteracy. Again, you have to live and work on the ground in America to know how miserable the situation truly is.

There is no doubt that recent, major hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Sandy and Katrina have left America naked to the world, exposing its poverty and illiteracy. It exposed its unpreparedness to major disasters. Its science-ignorance. Its rulers’ total apathy about the ordinary people and their misery. The question, however is, will a neoliberal, USA-modeled India learn from these catastrophes, or resist this system that punishes the poor, and keeps them in perennial dark? Will they look for the truth? Accept the truth?

My wishful thinking is – the sooner we do it, the better.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

Stephen Hawking ecowatch dot com

My Father Passed Away

Bapi

Back in New York. Hurt, sad, and reflecting on the experience I brought back.

It was a very different and difficult trip to Kolkata this time. Monsoon in Bengal, and the pollution-free, lush, green, wet trees and fragrant flowers calmed me down a little. It was not easy to realize my father would not wait for me anymore, with his loving, welcoming smile. He would not sit in the balcony chair looking down, when I’d return to USA.

He passed away on August 6. Yes, he was old. Very old. He was 93. But does it matter?

On August 16, I performed the Shraddha ritual for my departed father. Through this ritual, the deceased (Preta) was admitted into Pitri Loka, or the assembly of forefathers. He united with those men before me — ancestors who made me possible. I would also want to believe he reunited with my mother, who waited for him in heaven for many, many years.

Mahanirvan Math

The last hour on August 6, when we brought my father’s mortal remains from the hospital back home, and sang Tagore songs together. Very happy we could pay him respect one last time this way, with songs he loved so much. I hope people noticed this way to pay homage to him.

August 6 2

August 6, 2017, 7.40 A.M., Kolkata, India. — My father passed away. He left his uncompromising character, and a total renunciation of selfish pleasures. He lived for his ideology, and he lived for his patriotism. I am fatherless today, but I shall live his uprightness, his inimitable courage and determination. Regardless of politics, he will always be a lightning rod for me.

Empty bed

Salute to this man.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

Old RSS: Anti-Gandhi, Anti-Tagore. New BJP: Corrupt, Violent, and Dangerous.

RSS Kolkata

This is what I have seen in my long, personal association, and study, of India’s Hindu chauvinist forces. RSS — the mentor, umbrella organization. BJP — its political wing now in the seat of power. ABVP, VHP, etc. — other powerful RSS outfits.

Pratik Ghosh translated the following from my Bengali article I posted in Facebook.

I have always found RSS, BJP and ABVP supporters to be of lower aptitude. Not much to talk home about their knowledge, thinking ability or analytical skills. They can be aptly called headstrong.

Like, my father used to say, they were not just anti-Gandhi but also anti-Tagore. My father despite having a golden opportunity refused to meet Rabindranath Tagore in Benaras. Now he regrets. What can be done regretting now – it is too late. At his young age, my father was just like that. In the fifties he moved to Kolkata and started reading Tagore.

But his Tagore was confined to Shivaji Utsab (Celebrating Shivaji – a Maratha icon), Bandi Vir (An Imprisoned Hero – a Sikh guru) and songs from the poet’s Devotion and Patriotic bouquets. Like the way hardliner Muslims from Bangladesh and Pakistan abuse Tagore without reading his works. They haven’t read Tagore’s Wife’s Letter, The Laboratory, The Crisis of the Civilization, or The Petrified Place. They have not heard his speeches, read his essays, letters, or his missive from Russia. They know a tiny sliver, a fragmented Tagore. And with that utterly limited knowledge they judge the Master Poet.

Yet during my intense association of some sixteen years with RSS-Jan Sangh-BJP-ABVP I always noticed that despite not being very clever, they were genuine human beings. I saw my father Jitendranath. How selflessly he spent his entire life with the Sangh family! In return he asked for nothing. Had he asked, he could have gotten a lot. Since 1939 he had been with national RSS/BJP leaders like Advani and Vajpayee. He too was jailed at the aftermath of assassination of Gandhi [when a Hindu zealot Nathuram Godse killed Gandhi, and the organization was banned]. Subsequently, being on the Congress blacklist he couldn’t get a proper job and spent his life in poverty.

I have written about these in my Bengali memoir, “Ghoti-kahini”. I have seen with amazement how for years the RSS proselytizers worked half fed from their third floor office at 26 Bidhan Sarani. They were racists, anti-Islam, anti-Christian. They depicted a laughable history of India. They knew hardly anything about the world history. They were awfully anti-socialism. Yet, they were nice guys. Like affectionate elder brothers. Even after I left RSS, I could never forget these men.

But now I see with the smell of power, BJP is filled with evil degraded men. Blood in their eyes. Poison at their tongues. Killing machines at their hands. I feel sad seeing them because they haven’t seen people like my father. They haven’t seen how to sacrifice life at the altar of idealism.

I have also seen at the other end how for the sake of idealism the followers of Communist Party of India (Marxist) or Marxism sacrificing their lives. I remember how my CPIM following in-laws’ family didn’t get on with my father. There was never any political discussions between them but there was a mutual respect. The Bengali characteristic of respect, civility, modesty and love is no longer found among the BJP supporters in Bengal. A few good ones keep shut for the fear of the obscene mayhem the rest can unleash upon them. They don’t have the backbones to withstand it.

I have been in politics for long. Politics of getting thrashed on the road. Politics of putting my own life at risk. I have done that in India. In the U.S. as well. Those who know me, know it. Those who don’t, can check it out on my Wikipedia page. The perpetrators of these atrocities are that foolish that they don’t even realize that they are only revealing their true self to the society. People with brains know that civility, gentleness are humane quality. Possessors of a sub-human brain have no understanding of that. Ironically, those without a brain, don’t realize that they don’t have brains because they need brains to understand it.

Anyway, there is no place for communal violence and slander in Bengal. Not for the Hindus. Not for the Muslims. Neither for CPIM, nor for the Trinamool Congress, now in power of West Bengal. And I shall carry on with my mission. My mission of making people think differently. To teach how to think. I am trying to steer away people from the brainwashing by the media. Steering my students in the US, people in India, in Bengal.

I have always been by the side of the oppressed. By the side of women, men, and children. I will always write against injustice, dishonesty, corruption and thuggery. I will protest — BJP or whoever the perpetrators might be.

Violence, intimidation, coercion or dirty abuses cannot bottle me up.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

gandhi-indian-express

From: Indian Express.

An Easy-to-Understand Analysis of Modi and Trump

IN CASE ANYBODY CARES.

Beef murder in India

Unlike the anti-BJP liberals, lefties and their media personalities who are making the beef ban and continuous, brutal murders of beef eaters in India a singular issue against the Hindu fanatics and their leader Modi, I do not think that is where the anti-fascist focus should be. Even though I condemn the murders of innocent Muslims by fanatic Hindus, and also strongly oppose the beef ban because it puts millions of poor people — both Muslims and Hindus — out of business, throwing them in more desperate poverty.

My problem with these liberals and their media is on these counts.

(1) The beef industry is extremely anti-environment: methane produced in cow farms is one of the major causes for global warming (just like carbon di-oxide), and therefore, there must be a way to discourage out-of-control production of beef and a massive export of beef to USA and Arab countries.

(2) The bigoted variety of Muslims (and NOT the ordinary, peaceful Muslims) has its share of blame to bear, as terrorism by fanatic Muslims is a serious problem, and Pakistan regimes (and now Bangladesh) — not ordinary, innocent Pakistanis — have been a major exporter of terror into India; therefore, common Hindus (and Muslims, Christians and everybody else) are angry at Islamic extremists. Media’s fanning the communal flame — to make profit by selling fear — creates hate and violence.

(3) The real anger should rather be on the economic destruction and escalation of rich-poor divide in India, where Modi and his depraved variety of capitalism are destroying the traditional semi-socialistic, pro-poor economic infrastructure, and basically plundering the poor and middle class, in the name of development.

(4) Tax cuts for the rich, interest cuts for the poor and middle class, destruction of the environment, rapid takeover of Indian farming by Monsanto and rapid takeover of Indian retail by Reliance and Wal-Mart — these are happening right now under this government, which has stark similarity with what Trump administration is doing here in the U.S. It’s an unprecedented-in-history takeover of world’s resources by the 1 percent.

(5) Unbelievable inflation and pollution, where the poor and middle class simply don’t know how to make ends meet, and how to breathe air. Coke is taking over water sources. Polluting promoters and corporations are taking over farmlands and villages, displacing the poor.

Elite liberals and their media are not focusing their energy on these more substantive issues, just the same way New York Times, CNN and MSNBC are not talking about these issues here in USA.

People are falling for their pervert spin, and hoping that in India, a degenerate Congress Party and here in USA, a bankrupt Democratic Party’s return to power would solve all the problems. It’s not going to happen that way, because Congress is as corrupt as BJP, just the same way Democratic Party is as corrupt as the Republicans.

And in the background, IMF and World Bank are pulling the strings, and nobody even knows how dark and sinister they are.

Media keep us in dark.

(BTW, I strongly support Not In My Name, because this is a major movement taking shape across India and around the world — against the rise of fascism in India.)

###

A Living Legend of Bengali Folk Music

 

 

I thought, I’d move up to Assam
Work in the plantation, and be rich
Eat, drink, and be merry…
But alas, now I’m broke
Beaten by the broker
and cheated by the owner
He threatens, “I’ll skin you alive…”
They tricked me…they tricked me big
and sent off to Assam

[…]

 

Yesterday, legendary folk singer Abhijit Basu from Calcutta visited us in Brooklyn, and with his beautiful, unassuming, inimitable style, sang a few songs, playing on our home harmonium. This is an illustrious artist, and a scholar on folk songs. An encyclopedia on the rich, diverse Bengali folk music, full of history and fables.

 

He has built a new genre of music, and a school of thousands of students worldwide. A wonderful friend, and also a man whose company makes you happy. No ego, no arrogance, no snobbery. Very uncharacteristic of today’s profit-driven, fame-driven cultural world. Listen, and enjoy.

 

I will translate (or summarize) the songs later. Major film makers such Buddhadev Dasgupta used his songs. And he is singing at our home, at ease, relaxed, smiling.

 

The song Abhijit sang yesterday at home. This is the sequence from Buddhadev Dasgupta’s hair-raising movie Uttara (a girl named Uttara). Watch the choreography. Absolutely fascinating, I think. What do you think? Link at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4vdic5YrPM

 

An abosolutely unforgettable day of music.

 

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

I Asked Chomsky About Trump and Russia

Chomsky on Trump

Israel Provided Data Trump Shared With Russia, Officials Say.” — New York Times.

Very strange that the brainwashing newspaper doesn’t have any problems with such a strange, bizarre turn of events. As if it’s normal.

Trump Says He Had the ‘Right’ to Share Data With Russia.” — New York Times.

That’s very strange and bizarre too. At least I thought so.

So, I turned to my old friend and mentor Noam Chomsky for help. I asked him today:

“Notwithstanding Trump is taking this presidency to a new, unprecedented, lawless level, hasn’t the U.S. always shared classified information with other governments and leaders in the past: information on war, terrorism, or banking or corporate interests that helped the U.S.? Why is there such a big fuss now?”

And I got this reply from him, which I share with you.

“The government has secretly shared classified material with selected allies in the past.  I know of no case where a President simply blurted it out in the course of a conversation (while boasting of what great intel he was receiving) without planning and consultation, and to a foreign power that is hardly an ally.”

So, a U.S. president, it seems to me, does not understand the seriousness of his job. Isn’t it reckless, immature, and very dangerous for mankind — to see such a man de facto could destroy the world, with one flip of the switch?

Do we want to see him in this seat of power at all?

But Chomsky also said this, and I share it with you too.

“It’s technically not lawless.  The president has the right to declassify information.”

If that is the case, and U.S. presidents apparently have done it in the past many times over, why do New York Times and the pro-Democratic Party U.S. media suddenly single out Trump for such a “crime?” Just because they have to get rid of Trump, one way or the other? And then what? Destabilize the Republican Party, and put another Clinton in power?

My question is, wouldn’t it have been much wiser, had New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN not killed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders last year? It is now so obvious that a Sanders-Trump election would see the pro-99% social democrat in office today.

Instead of this out-of-control, reckless, irresponsible man in this chair?

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

 

 

France Rejects Fascism

france-election-macron

France rejected fascism today. 

Education, pro-people capitalism, and a modern election system triumph.

Why did France reject Marine Le Pen, and USA didn’t reject Trump?

In short:

(1) Education: High literacy rate in France: higher than the U.S.

(2) Capitalism and corporate media are both much more humane in France, compared to USA. Income inequality is at a moderate level in France, directly related to social and health problems of the country. The U.S. has the highest rich-poor divide among all the developed, capitalist countries, and social and health problems are also the highest, because of it.

See graph below. From: The Spirit Level, Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010.

Wilkinson and Pickett 2010

 

(3) France has a much more modern electioneering system, compared to USA. They have a two-stage presidential election: the first among the top candidates of major parties, followed by a final, run-off election between the two top candidates. This is very different from USA’s pre-historic election system, where a candidate such as Trump or George W. Bush could win the presidency, even when their opponents such as Hillary or Al Gore got many more votes than they did.
(4) Labor unions, environmentalists, and progressive student and women’s movements are much stronger in France than USA. They took a big role to defeat Marine Le Pen.
France not only defeated fascists today. It trounced them.
The people of France also elected the youngest president in its history.
Vive La France!
Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
###

A Non-Marxist’s Marx

MarxKarl Marx (1818-1883)

May 5 is Karl Marx’s Birthday.
In USA, practically nobody knows Marx, outside of the academia. In India, corporate powers have done their best to ridicule this great philosopher. And in this era of Post-Truth or Post-Rationalism, curiosity, let alone studied admiration, is a thing of the past.
Communists in power, through their inefficient, violent and corrupt administrations, have also contributed greatly to people’s misunderstanding. Joseph Stalin is an example. Stalin in Soviet Union had undone what the Bolshevik Revolution achieved, under the leadership of Lenin. The Gang of Four and Deng Xiaoping had undone what Mao achieved in China.
Even though I am not a Marxist, on many of his analyses, I feel as if he is speaking on my behalf. Media would not want us to know about them.
Marx Quote #1. — “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths.” (From “The Communist Manifesto,” 1848).
Marx Quote #2. — “In every stock[market] swindle every one knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbor, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety.” (From “Capital: Critique of Political Economy,” 1867).
Marx Quote #3. — “If the laborer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist.” (From “Capital”).
Marx Quote #4. — “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions…” (From the “Introduction to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” 1843).
Marx Quote #5. — “If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist.” (Quoted by Friedrich Engels, in a letter to Eduard Bernstein, 1882).
VERY ENLIGHTENING.
Know this great man who revolutionized human history, on behalf of the have-nots. Labor unions, anti-war movements, feminist movements — all the progressive struggles can find their recent roots in the philosophies of Marx and Engels.
In the 19th century, in the era of European enlightenment, Marx, Darwin and Freud were perhaps the three most notable personalities. We owe so much to them.
Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
###

Satyajit Ray, Uncut!

SR blogMay 2 is Satyajit Ray’s birthday. The great movie maestro, remember?

People have remembered his Apu Trilogy. They are masterpiece Indian-Bengali movies, a genre world had not seen before him. Who can forget the little village boy, and his poor priest father, and a beautiful sister who died of malaria? And the helpless mother, and an adorable aunt? Who can forget the passing train sequence, and the monsoon shots?

We can’t. They are never to be forgotten.

But people have not remembered his Calcutta Trilogy, because media and movie critics thought they were too anti-establishment and anti-capitalist-powers. They were too uncomfortable and “controversial” for the ruling class. They excluded Calcutta Trilogy from any serious discussion and debate on avant-garde films.

But if you are interested, just in case, here they are.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-inaeJjndRg (English subtitled) — The Adversary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWrXERdiIaE&app=desktop (English subtitled) — The Middleman

People have not remembered his anti-war masterpieces, either. His two incredible anti-war, anti-fascism movies: The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha, and In the Land of King Diamond. They are made primarily for children, but they are definitely for all of us to enjoy, and reflect on. Especially today, when war mongers, racists, and fascists are taking over the world, all over again.

You want to see them? Here they are.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmzxFK2Dv2Y (subtitled) — The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha

and

In the Land of King Diamond (English subtitled)

Especially corporate, pro-1% film institutions such as Hollywood and Bollywood have decided to sanitize and sanctify his creations, and boxed Ray in a beautiful, mesmerizing Apu box.

Yet, I find his other creations much more powerful. They shake up our conscience. They expose fascists, war-mongers, and corporate capitalism — evils destroying humanity today.

Let’s remember this great spokesman for an equal, progressive, dignified humanity.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

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