U.S. Elections: Footsteps of Fascism

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A very major, critically important U.S. election is tomorrow, November 8, 2016. I am asking people to vote AGAINST Donald Trump. Why? Here is why.

Comments and share welcome.

(Photo courtesy: all the photos in this article are taken from http://agamikal.com/?p=1510, where they published a Bengali version of this article.)
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Footsteps of Fascism — Part 1

By Partha Banerjee
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In the 1930’s, Weimar Republic in Germany failed to stop the economic, political, and social chaos. Although the global economy was not nearly as global as it is today, and media was not so grotesquely pro-1% and interconnected worldwide, Euro-American colonialism was acting together for a long time, destroying mankind. But its heydays were over.

Great Depression in America caused by an extreme inequality, rampant privatization of banks, industries and financial institutions, and corporate profiteering and corruption impacted Germany and Europe, and economic uncertainties unraveled. Capitalism was falling apart, capitalists’ modus operandi was being exposed, and a strong socialist revolution in Russia was moving the working class people and younger generation away from the status quo. Europe was more and more leaning left and progressive. Labor unions and social justice movements were getting stronger.

The rulers of corporate capitalism — now in crisis — was looking for a way to distract people’s attention from their depravity and their own political parties’ created turmoil. The ordinary people were extremely angry at the elite’s corrupt practices, indifference, and a depraved, immoral lifestyle.

Weimar’s so-called liberal leadership failed them: unemployment was high, prices were high, deflation of the currency was causing havoc, and people worked longer hours sacrificing family life and time for children. Their savings evaporated, and the wage-productivity gap was at an all-time high.

The working men and women didn’t quite figure out the reasons: media and mainstream politicians both from the liberal and conservative sides disillusioned them.

The time was ripe for a leader who would crush down on the socialists and communists and trade unions and social justice groups, find a variety of people as convenient scapegoats, and unite and mobilize the ordinary men, women and families around a doctrine of ultra-nationalism, old glory, total employment, severance from internationalism, and social morality.

Time was ripe for Hitler. Time was ripe for a Nazi Germany.

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Footsteps of Fascism — Part 2

By Partha Banerjee
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So, Hitler came to power, first with help from Hindenburg of Weimar Republic (who shared power with him as an appeasement effort — a huge blunder), and then through a self-styled chancellorship, followed by landslide mandate on his own. He called his political base National Socialist Workers’ Party — a German acronym of which is NAZI (I don’t know German, but that’s what I read — correct me if I’m wrong).

But Hitler was no socialist; it was a pre-meditated, calculated confusion created to project himself as a socialist leader. (Today, some of the far right wing organizations in the U.S. have strange, naive-sounding names — such as Center for Immigration Studies or CIS, American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, Federation of American Immigration Reform or FAIR-US, etc.) Hitler was anything but a socialist. There was no concept of equality in his party structure; Hitler assumed the role of a dictator, and his words were the last. This didn’t happen overnight; rather, by purging people who dissented, and rewarding those who complied, he went on to become the undisputed tyrant that he was.

Hitler did many things during his approximately a decade of global plundering, and we all more or less know it. But the striking resemblances of what he did and what we see today are the following: (1) He destroyed labor unions and social justice groups that were left and progressive (In 1933, Hitler’s storm troopers occupied all trade union headquarters across Germany, and union leaders were arrested and put in prison), (2) He began a massive and all-pervasive spying and phone-tapping of German citizens, particularly those who showed an iota of opposition; even totally innocent citizens were called spies, arrested, and executed, (3) He orchestrated a propaganda against Jews and communists labelling them responsible for the social and economic woes, and even though we hear about concentration camps (through plethora of Hollywood movies and corporate media) throwing Jews in gas chamber, hundreds of thousands of socialists, communists, trade union leaders, and left and progressive intellectuals and authors were also detained and killed — a part of history that is conveniently ignored and later distorted, and (4) He through his media and propaganda machine of that time whipped up an ultrapatriotic fervor for old German-Aryan glory, projecting Germany as the “best country in the world.”

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Then, as we all know, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and such people in Europe and rulers like Tojo in Japan built a global force of aggression that was called the Axis (the post-9/11 Bush-termed “Axis of Evil” could have come from that old, three-country force: at least, the similarity was there). The Axis quite rapidly started a series of military aggression on neighboring countries, eventually drawing a large number of countries worldwide into the war, which later became known as World World II.

Noam Chomsky discusses Germany’s plummet from its cultural and political heights in the 20’s—when Hitler received only three percent of the vote—to the decay of the 30’s, when the Nazis rose to power. Chomsky says although the situations are “not identical,” they are similar enough, to warrant concern. Likewise, the economic destruction of Greece, according to Chomsky, may lead to the rise of a fascist party, a phenomenon we’ve witnessed all over Europe. In India also, the failure of a corrupt center-left (Gandhi’s Congress Party) has seen a rapid surge of an ultranationalist, Hindu party, which is now in the seat of power, with an overwhelming majority.

“The fall of the Weimar Republic has a complicated history whose general outlines most of us know well enough. Germany’s defeat in WWI and the punitive, post-Treaty of Versailles’ reparations that contributed to hyperinflation and total economic collapse do not parallel the current state of affairs in the U.S. But Hitler’s rise to power is instructive.”

Hitler used to be ridiculed as a clown too, before Hindenburg gave him the position of a chancellor. In U.S., our question is (question that media bypasses): who made Trump, Trump?

“Hitler’s struggle for dominance truly catalyzed when he allied with the country’s conservatives, who made him Chancellor. Thus began his program of Gleichschaltung—“synchronization” or “bringing into line”—during which all former opposition was made to fully endorse his plans.

In similar fashion, Trump has fought for political relevance on the right for years, using xenophobic [anti-immigrant] bigotry as his primary weapon. It worked. Now that he has taken over the Republican Party—and the religious right—we’ve seen nearly all of Trump’s opponents on the right, from politicians to media figures, completely fold under and make fawning shows of support. Even some Bernie Sanders supporters have found ways to justify supporting Trump.”

[The last couple of paragraphs are paraphrased from an article in openculture dot com].

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Footsteps of Fascism — Part 3 of 3 

By Partha Banerjee
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So, given the historical background, and the strong similarities between what happened in Hitler’s Germany and what we’re witnessing here in USA (or India), where do we stand now?
Let’s concentrate on USA for the time being keeping November 8 in mind, even though the situation in India is gravely dangerous with ultra-nationalists already in power, and I have personal stake in that part of the world.
November 8 might not see a racist, sexist, pro-KKK white supremacist, anti-immigrant xenophobe who dodged taxes, milked the system, and became filthy rich and more corrupt than ever before to be the president of the United States. All indications are that Hillary Clinton will be the president, and the Clinton saga that began in 1992 will continue.
Great news! But is it, really?
I pose a few questions to ourselves who believe in a strong labor movement, and believe that a strong labor movement is the key to a strong, united middle class that can fight back against the tyranny of the one percent.
Simply put, Trump and his supporters and followers do not believe that labor unions have role to play in today’s America. In fact they want to completely do away with unions.
Yet, the following questions remain.
Question 1. Why did Bill Clinton pass NAFTA, going against AFL-CIO? What has Hillary Clinton’s position been on NAFTA, and now on TPP? Remember, TPP is often termed as “NAFTA on steroids,” and Obama advocated fast-track passing of TPP.
Question 2. Why did Bill Clinton dismantle FDR’s Glass-Stegall Act that kept private banking separate from investment banking? Some key experts suggested that breaking down Glass-Stegall actually led to Wall Street’s open and legal gambling with ordinary Americans’ money — trillions of dollars — and cleared the pathway to an economic destruction that saw the Great Recession of 2007? What has Hillary’s position been on the above?
Question 3. The Clintons’ close relationship with the Bush Dynasty as well as evil corporations such as Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, and Exxon. These four corporations, as well as the private prison industries, are symbols of Corporate America’s greed, exploitation, and repression of the ordinary people — both in USA and around the world. What we see in America today — a dangerous, out-of-control, and extremely repressive variety of capitalism, UNLIKE what we see in Germany, France, Canada, Sweden, Belgium or Japan — have destroyed the middle class, destroyed the labor movement, created the unprecedented, massive wage and wealth inequality (where 0.1 percent, i.e., one in a thousand rich Americans amassed wealth totaling what the other 90 percent have between them), and at the same time, destroyed the climate to a point that scientists think is practically irreversible. Unemployment numbers are artificially down, labor density is down to 10% in USA compared to 40% during FDR or even Nixon, and key expenses such as health care, education, and housing are out of reach of the ordinary men, women and families.
All of the above have gave rise to a countrywide upswelling of ordinary Americans, who are frustrated and angry. Whether it’s Occupy Wall Street, or Tea Party, or today’s right-wing’s rally behind Trump — are all manifestations of this major frustration and anger. Add to it the relentless police brutality on blacks, the fact that one million blacks and other minorities are in private prison across the U.S., and poor immigrants are scapegoated for our economic woes, just the same way Hitler scapegoated Jews and socialists and gypsies for Germany’s woes, and exterminated them.
It is true that in no sane mind, we can support a crazy racist, sexist guy like Trump for president. His fascistic, war-mongering, xenophobic, supremacist drumbeat scares the hell out of ordinary men and women like us. But UNLESS we bring back true, participator democracy in our country, strengthen labor unions, bring the inequality back to the 1940-1980 levels, and stop the destruction of the environment, as well as stop America’s global war game that went out of control since the Vietnam era, there will be a time when another Trump — who is not outwardly so insane and morally depraved as Trump — will rise on the scene, and in the absence of an educated working-class American generation, will be able to rise on top, just the same way Hitler did it, dismantling the Weimar Republic.
We hear the footsteps of fascism right now, right here. If we want to stop their takeover of America and by default, the world, we must find a real alternative political force, a force that will not just take advantage of our fear and votes, but will actually work for us, just the way FDR did it in the 30’s and 40’s.
We need to rally to bring ourselves to the position of power. After all, democracy is not only about voting every four years. It’s about our voices heard, and our day-to-day issues addressed.
If the one percent don’t do it, then we might empower ourselves, to do it on our own.
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Trump Won’t Be President. But…

Trump CNNDonald Trump knows he can’t be the next American president. America is not that intellectually advanced, but still, it has come a long way from the old days of hate, bigotry and fascism.

When Trump says he wants to ban all Muslims from coming to U.S., he kills his chances even more.

Really, Trump knows he doesn’t have any serious chances. People who are supporting him now are supporting his hate speech and message of bigotry, paranoia and exclusion. But nobody knows it better than Trump himself that he has zero knowledge about how the world turns, how tax is collected, how roads are paved, and how barbers run their unisex shops across America. For that matter, he never visited a barber shop in years.

Trump never read history or geography or science or arts books…none of his colleagues did. He never paid taxes…none of the American one percent did in recent years, especially since Reagan. He never drove on the road…in fact, his class only rode the helicopter from Wall Street straight up to their New Jersey, Connecticut or Rhode Island mansions.helicopter

That is how their world turns…as we’ve seen on soap operas and Hollywood. Their lives are fantastical and frivolous. I would give it an F. If you look carefully at his face, you know that he knows he is an F.

And again, we all know Trump never went to a barber shop. In fact, he has the most unkempt hair that we have seen in recent years. It’s shameful.

But here on this blog, we don’t talk about shamefully unkempt hair. Or, Hillary Clinton’s $600 hair. Here, we talk about more serious and important things.

Six months ago, I said this to my labor union students [paraphrasing]:

“Trump will not be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, and he knows it. But he is doing what he has been asked to do: move an already right-wing media discussion to an even further right, and the 2016 campaign will be fought within that narrow, right-wing, hate and war spectrum. All else will be excluded. That is the plan.”

Let’s go global for a second, given this is a globalized economy today, and elections are not local either. They are global. Monsanto farmer suicides in India can make it an election debate issue between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

In USA and India, the two largest “democracies” in the world, the one percent is doing precisely this, what we call distraction from the 99 percent’s bread and butter issues, and putting spotlight on sensational issues. That is the plan.

India cartoon
In India, suddenly, beef eating or not has become a nationwide media market sell. As if India and its one billion poor people have solved all their problems with poverty, hunger, malnourishment, diseases, environment pollution, illiteracy, or unemployment. Women in India found equality and respect. Film stars — especially the billionaires — suddenly find out that India is so intolerant that they may have to leave the country. 

In USA, Trump and Kruz and Carson and Huckabee and Bush the juniormost president-to-be all want to tell us how tough we must be, and how evil Muslims and Latinos are. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. When that didn’t go very well, ISIS came along to help. Now, it’s all about terror and ISIS and Mali and the imminent threat to American security and American way of life.

(Without telling us who and what created ISIS and Mali in the first place, that is. Hillary won’t talk about Libya and Mali. Bush  and New York Times and Judith Miller won’t talk about Iraq, Syria and ISIS.)

Trump and all other Republicans candidates are now saying that Muslims are all evil, as “thousands and thousands of Muslims cheered” when the World Trade Center towers came down on 9/11. Now, we must mark and tag and label each and every Muslim in America, Trump said.

(This tagging sounds familiar too…just go back on history a few decades.)

income inequality

And American big media — New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, PBS, NBC, ABC and CBS, plus the right wing nuts on their TV and radio shows — have all decided that the 2016 elections should not and must not have any discussion on subjects such as the unprecedented income inequality in America, the hidden, massive unemployment, the anti-labor treaties such as Obama’s TPP (or Clinton’s NAFTA), or global movements such as the ones on climate change or women’s equality. No more debate on police brutality and Black Lives Matter. No discussion no more on immigration reform.

climate-changeThey have succeeded. It is very likely that Bush or Cruz from the Republican side and Hillary Clinton and Blue Dog Democrats from their side will be made the candidates for another four years of dumb charade, aka presidential elections.

Serious people who talk about serious issues — like Bernie Sanders — will be officially ostracized and excluded. Unless Bernie’s people can bring in so much pressure that DNC has no choice but to nominate him.

Noam Chomsky once said,“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

That is the plan. Trump and Cruz, with help from Hillary and Obama, are moving the spectrum of the election debate to far right.

New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and NBC are making sure that is where the “lively debate” stays.

Just think about it.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Chomsky debate spectrum

 

Build That Bridge!

treerootbridgeEverything’s been said
Poetry and all
The rich have butlers and no friends
And we have friends and no butlers
Yet, nobody said
The immigrant have no friends and no butlers
Well, correction…
That’s unpoetry
We just didn’t remember
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I began my day this morning with this little poem, while riding the E train to work. The thought came to me, like an unanticipated burp, and I thought I had to write it down before it fizzled out. So, I did.

I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about building the bridge across the common men and women’s class — the so-called working class. I have written about it. I have posted numerous Facebook posts. I have even given small speeches at every opportunity I got.

And yet, I feel sorry that the bridge has not been built.

But it’s not that people do not want to do it. I speak with my labor union students. They understand it. I speak to my immigrant community. They understand it. I speak to my Bernie Sanders for 2016 colleagues. They get it very well.

Yet, I feel disappointed to see that the bridge has not been built.

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Build That Bridge!

Build the bridge between whites and blacks. Blacks and immigrants. Immigrants and mainstream. Men and women. Electrical workers and plumbers. Plumbers and painters. Painters and poets. Poets and musicians. Musicians and cab drivers. Night cab drivers and night toll booth operators. Parents and teachers. Teachers and students. Environmentalists and tomato pickers. Day laborers and grocery store clerks. Car washers and clergy. Nurses and paralegals…

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, socialists and atheists…

You know the rest.

There is no real difference between the so-called conservative and so-called liberal, when it comes to our day-to-day struggles. The so-called left and right divide: artificial and purposefully kept. “Our” issues are not much different from “their” issues. The Kentucky clerk who refused to marry the gay couple — defying dictates from U.S. Supreme Court — perhaps goes through her real-life situations, just the same way the gay couple does, when it comes to their education, health care, pension, wages, transportation, home mortgage, lack of savings, fear of gun violence, and social security issues.

They are perhaps both concerned about the deteriorating law and order situation, and how American police are killing blacks like flies, and how the private prison corporations are working hand in hand with law enforcement to put more and more immigrants in jail — for profit. They are, I’m sure, all concerned about the rise of terrorism globally. They are, I’m sure, all sick to hear how Monsanto farmers are killing themselves in India, out of hopelessness and desperation. I am sure they all feel helpless that U.S. corporations keep shipping manufacturing jobs out to China, Korea, Mexico, India, and Bangladesh, making huge profits and paying their workers slave wages.

I am talking about the commonality of the moderate, law-abiding, non-violent men, women, and families. Here, differences can be, and will be, sorted out.

Because, unless they are crazy right wing fanatics or crazy left wing extremists, their view of life is not much different from one another. They all belong to what we now call the 99 percent. They are all being exploited, worked, and taken advantage of by the one percent. And that is where the real fight is.

It would be extremely important to find our commonalities, and our common struggles. It would be critical in the coming days to find solidarity across the spectrum, and build that all-important bridge.

Once that bridge is built, we’ll usher in a new era of togetherness — to move forward.

Let’s build that bridge.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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My Last Election Campaign

Pro-99%. Not pro-1%.
Pro-99%. Not pro-1%.

It is *very* likely that this 2016 election in America is my last election campaign.

I came to America thirty years ago, when Ronald Reagan was president. I didn’t know who Reagan was, except for the fact that in 1984 when I was a very young professor in a remote, rural college in India, I heard on the radio that he trounced Walter Mondale and Democratic Party’s woman VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

I didn’t know the difference between the Republicans and Democrats. At that time, there was some difference, before Clinton made his party identical to Republicans. So, when I saw Reagan at hand-shaking distance in Chicago, I thought I saw a world-famous leader. Of course, he was world famous, but for all the wrong reasons.

Many young people who are now working for Bernie Sanders do not know the history, or have the political analysis of how Reagan in USA and Margaret Thatcher in UK destroyed any concept of equality and justice, and made this world a very dangerous, violent place for the poor and paradise for the rich.

Reagan and later Clinton finished off the “New Deal,” a system that had made America America.

I went through election cycles ever since, and saw Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama becoming the president. I saw how my hopes and dreams were shattered by W. Bush and Cheney’s global doctrine of warfare and anti-black, anti-immigrant repression, and I saw Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s truly disingenuous rules for sixteen years, where they used what Orwell called “Doublespeak.” I saw 9/11 terror and its aftermath state-sponsored violence, where thousands of innocent lives were destroyed.

NO to them.
NO to them.

I have signed on to work for Bernie Sanders, so that in case this is my last election campaign in America, I can tell myself that finally I have broken myself out of all the myths and illusions, and worked for a cause that is not perfect, but close to what I have always believed in: equality, democracy, nonviolence, justice, and peace.

I can’t live the rest of my life doing dishonest political work for dishonest people. I am severing all my ties with the Clintons and Obamas and Bush’s and Reagans.

I will throw my support and spend as much time as possible to work for an honest leader of the people.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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NO to them too.
NO to them, again and again.

How Bernie Sanders Could Actually Win

Jon Stewart thinks Sanders is a better candidate. He was serious this time.
Jon Stewart thinks Sanders is a better candidate. He is serious this time.

Is Bernie Sanders only a long shot? Or, could he actually win?

Here is my two outsider cents, in case anybody out there in his campaign really cares.

Now, who the heck is Bernie Sanders, and what is he trying to win?

Bernie Sanders is an independent-leaning politician here in the U.S., and he calls himself a democratic socialist. He has joined the fray of the Democratic Party presidential primaries — an election that will decide who will become the party’s candidate for the 2016 elections. He is fighting against a massive, billion-dollar campaign of Hillary Clinton. By default, Sanders is fighting against the Goliath, and he is not even David. We can call him david, with a small d. But Sanders has built a huge grassroots support across the country, especially from young-generation political, social and environmental activists. Sanders also has a long and successful administrative record in his state of Vermont.

Scott Walker and his union-busting politics have found praise in New York Times, and Walker could be a possible Republican candidate, perhaps a running mate with Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush, younger brother of George W. Bush, has just announced his candidacy for the Republican Party’s primaries.

Of course, New York Times is anti-union, but most people do not know it. Scott Walker’s violent union-busting tactics, funded by Koch Brothers’ millions, gave the American 1% another arsenal. Media have largely sided with what Walker did in Wisconsin, by excluding important, balanced economic discussions and globalized politics of IMF, World Bank, G-8 and Wall Street.

IMO, there is very little difference between the Republicans and Hillary Clinton.
IMO, there is very little difference between the Republicans and Hillary Clinton.

People who are working on the Bernie Sanders team are, I am sure, aware of how critical labor union support will be in 2016. But, challenges are hard, fierce and vicious.

Media is one challenge: CNN, NBC, ABC, WSJ, Fox. Radio talk shows. Most ordinary people do not understand alternative media. Koch Brothers and Clinton Foundation, Obama Foundation, and big, multinational corporations that supported their pro-TPP congressmen and congresswomen are challenges with billions of dollars to spend — secretly, thanks to Citizens United. Heritage Foundation and ALEC.

Pro-Hillary news from around the world is another challenge in this globalized society. NOW (National Organization for the Women, a liberal and elite organization) is a big Hillary block with money and influence. Gloria Steinems will only want a woman to be the president of the United States, without any discussion on what kind of woman she is, and what she stands for.

Yet, one of the biggest challenges will come from within the American 99%, and from within the middle-class and poor societies: particularly blacks, Latinos, Chinese and Indians.

I have kept my ears to the ground: I work with labor unions and immigrants. Blacks and Latinos together are nearly 25% of U.S. population, and Indians and Chinese together make another 5%. Plus, Indian white collar have money, and they will give to Hillary. Money will come from corporations around the world, without having to disclose their identity. And it’s very likely that money will decide 2016.

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UNLESS
 there is an unprecedented bridge building across the moderate left and right. IMHO, that must happen, or Bernie Sanders has no chance. Let us forget the left-right-socialist-capitalist divide, and bring the 99% together.

Again, I am sure people who are working on the Sanders campaign team are aware of all of the above. I just thought I should reiterate it, from a small, outsider point of view.

If Bernie Sanders can make it a step towards a positive, pro-equality, pro-99% honest change, he has a chance to win. If he tries to make it an overambitious revolution, he will lose. That is the trap media will lay out for him.

Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Build that Bridge, Bernie!
Build that Bridge, Bernie!

Do I Hate India? Do I Hate America?

Plato and Aristotle, two of the greatest analytical thinkers.
Plato and Aristotle, two of the greatest analytical thinkers.

I have decided to write less these days. Because not too many people care to read too much. They do not have the time. Long pieces make people tired. Complex subjects make people switch over to something more interesting. Hollywood, Bollywood, MTV, ZTV, dance stars, football stars, cricket. You know the rest.

But I am just writing about this subject because this question is coming up more and more, even from people whom I had thought were my friends and well wishers.

I write about the Indian government and the people in power, and expose their wrongdoings and clandestine connections. People from India get angry and say that I am anti-India. They say, “Why do you hate India so much? Don’t you have any love for your motherland — the land you were born and brought up in?”

Some others say, “Why criticize India so much, while having a ‘Mercedes Lifestyle’ in America?” They say, “You fled India to have a good life, and now you blast India every time you have an opportunity.”

When I write something about USA and its people in power, and try to show their wrongdoings — whether their economic policies, foreign policies or war games — my American readers blast me. They say, “Why hate America so much, when this country has given you so much?”

And some angrier people say, “If you hate USA so much, go back to your India.”

Sometimes these are mild admonitions. Sometimes these are very harsh words. And once in a while, people are outright nasty and vulgar. Sometimes, being a real man with a real heart and mind, it’s not easy to deal with them.

So, my question to myself is, do I hate India? Do I hate America?

And in short, my answer is: No.

I never hate either of these two countries — the two countries I’ve lived in all my life. I have nothing but love and respect for these two lands that have kept me alive, nurtured me, and gave me opportunities to live, grow and prosper.

I have nothing but love and care and best wishes for India and USA.

Ram Mohan Ray, one of the greatest voices of dissent in India. He challenged religious orthodoxy.
Ram Mohan Ray, one of the greatest voices of dissent in India. He challenged religious orthodoxy.

All my issues are with the people who are in power in these two countries: the one percent. I have talked about their politics, and I have talked about their covert and overt actions. And I shall keep doing it, as long as I live.

That is dissent to the powerful. This is all I have: a voice of dissent. Educated, informed, critically-analyzed dissent.

And believe it or not, unlike what the one percent and their corporations and media and politicians tell you, dissent is a big part of democracy.

In fact, believe it or not, dissent is democracy.

As noted historian late Howard Zinn had said: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Contrary to these critics who believe I hate India and I hate America, I am actually practicing that highest form of patriotism. And I am doing it nonviolently too. I am making my small circle of people think.

Just think about it.

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One of my favorite voices of dissent. Some people think he hates America.
One of my favorite voices of dissent. Some people think he hates America.

A Memorable Evening with Noam Chomsky

Bowing my head to him.
Bowing my head to him.

On Saturday, November 15, Noam Chomsky came to New York. 

Brooklyn For Peace, a grassroots organization, celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. On that occasion, they presented Chomsky with their Pathmaker to Peace award.

My wife and I have been involved with Brooklyn For Peace for a long time. I was its board member for a few years, and worked on its immigrant rights committee in the aftermath of the September Eleventh tragedy. The group reassured me and comforted me that there are a lot of mainstream Americans who are not hateful about Muslim and Arabs. And they do not consider them as “perceived criminals.”

I am neither a Muslim nor an Arab. But I feel a lot of togetherness with them. Just the same way I feel a lot of togetherness with African Americans and other marginalized groups. Latinos, Chinese, Sikhs…

Noam Chomsky is one of the most important scholars and intellectuals of all time. He is perhaps the most important linguist of our time. And outside of his M.I.T. linguistic studies, he is known worldwide as a leading voice of dissent against U.S. foreign policy and war diktat.

People line up for hours to get a ticket to hear him — all over the world. Scholars compare him with historic figures such as Aristotle, Plato, Russell, Tagore, Gandhi or Einstein. But U.S. corporate media despise him, because of his strong, fact-based, objective analysis of the media. Chomsky’s media expose Manufacturing Consent is a must-read, must-watch. You’ll know why U.S. media hate him.

And because of the blanket exclusion of Noam Chomsky by U.S. corporations, media, and the two big parties, most ordinary Americans do not know much about him. And the elite, status quo — both in the U.S. and across the world — are very happy that they don’t.

Speaking with yours truly.
Speaking with yours truly.

On Saturday, November 15, I had a chance of a lifetime to talk to him for a few hours. Some of it was, blessed I was, one on one. I also had a chance to interview him on camera, one on one. I shall post it when it is edited and ready to publish. I want to thank Brooklyn For Peace for that privilege too.

I’ve known the living legend since when I was a student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. I had my first chance to hear him a few months before I joined the school, when he came to the university to speak, along with late professor Edward Said on Palestine and Israel. In April of 2000, I organized a student meeting at the department when he came and spoke to the students of the department for the first and only time. Since then, I’ve kept in touch with him, and for the past six or seven years, I’ve kept pushing him to come speak at Brooklyn For Peace.

Finally, it all worked out. And I had my chance of a lifetime to sit down with him at the dinner table, and discuss many important subjects, including politics, economics, U.S., India, Bengal, and all. We particularly spoke about immigration, labor and their place in human history. We talked about the history-depraved U.S. education system too.

Noam Chomsky is now almost eighty six years old. But he is still doing okay, Thank God. He is speaking, he is writing books, and he is also traveling. A proverbial intellectual and scholar with ocean-deep knowledge is still around us, among us. Mainstream, corporate media and establishments will never like him. But let them dislike him. We love him. We absolutely love him. And we don’t have to agree with him one hundred percent on every issue.

I have never met Tagore, Einstein, Russell or Gandhi. But I have met Noam Chomsky. I’ve known him for quite some time.

And it’s by God’s grace he has also known me. And gave me his blessing and indulgence.

Know this great man.

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The Great Master of Human Conscience.
The Great Master of Human Conscience.

India’s Mars and America’s Middle East

Mars and the Middle East.
Mars and the Middle East.

It’s all about Mars and the Mid-East.

A scientist friend whom I respect a lot tried to impress on me that the cosmic expedition “success” of India last week was a great one, and that I’m playing negativity on it. She also reminded me that I had no business to downplay the incredible scientific achievement India just had. Moreover, she assured me that scientists had no business with politics: they were only doing their job. ISRO in India, and NASA in USA.

I respectfully disagree. Scientists and science, detached from political and economic reality, are actually doing a disservice to us the 99%, and helping the 1% big time, knowingly or unknowingly. In my own life as a scientist, I have seen extremely bright and talented scientists with zero political knowledge or wisdom or interest to get involved in anything political. These are some of the best, intelligent minds. Precisely, the people in power (the 1%) want that: they want to cajole or exploit their hard work and innovative ideas to champion their own cause — making themselves even more powerful, with motives to stay in power and strengthen themselves, and unleash more political, economic or military violence across their world.

Same with USA and its so-called war on terror. Syria and ISIS now. Iraq and Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda before. Chile, Bangladesh. Vietnam even before that. Agent Orange. Monsanto. Remember? It’s a huge, humongous military mission that mighty American science and U.S. scientists have helped their 1% to develop, and grow, beyond imagination. Do these scientists not know what weapons of mass destruction they’re manufacturing, and what costs — human and economic — they’re inflicting on us the 99%? Do they not know how many hundreds of thousands of innocent people their 1% are killing, with their invented and developed science? Do they not know how many Vietnamese mothers are still giving birth to crippled babies because Agent Orange crippled them when they were children?

India's Mars.
India’s Mars.

Do scientists and engineers and IT professionals at GE and Monsanto and Northrop Grumman and Raytheon and IBM and Boeing have any social responsibility? Do they vote? Do they care to vote? Can they vote? Are they detached from the rest of the world and its 99%, with their cozy labs and fancy instruments and crystal chemicals and fat salaries and travel allowances and famed journal articles and five-star conferences? I’ve seen a lot of them and their five-star conferences. I’ve been there.

I would not say much now. But I do want to return to this subject, and ask for your thoughts. I do not believe that the people in power — the 1% — could care less about our thoughts and our alternative priorities, away from theirs. They do not like our strong voice of dissent, and informed, educated decisions that go against their programs.

In short, their priorities are driven by political and economic profits via political and economic violence, and ours are driven by peace, justice and equality via democracy, nonviolence and collective actions. The continuous propaganda by big media — in the U.S. and India — are required weapons of the 1%, to distract us, fool us, and make us believe that they’re doing the right thing (for us), and that we should be happy and proud about “our country.” Of course, they define what the country is: we fall for their definition.

When USA dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, perhaps the greatest, deliberate mass murder in human history, it was possible because of the Einstein–Szilárd letter that inspired Roosevelt to start developing the bomb. Did Einstein do the right thing? Well, he was afraid Hitler might make it first. So, there was some political consciousness. But what happened because of that encouragement to FDR and Truman had changed the concept of human conscience, once and for all. Bertrand Russell, and later, Einstein too worked to stop the nuclear proliferation. Did they get involved politically? You can bet they did. That was the purpose of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto: to make people be aware more politically.

USA's Mess.
USA’s Mess.

War proliferation continues. Who knows what is happening inside the iron wall the 1% have built, in USA, UK, India, China or Russia, and what they’re cooking up with help from science and scientists? In China and Russia, they say there is no democracy; so the ordinary people do not know. But in USA, UK or India — three biggest democracy drum-beaters — do we know? We always know after the fact, and not before. Do we have a right know how OUR money is being spent, and do we have a right to participate in the policy- and decision-making process? If it is a democracy, then we do.

If people like us — the 99% — after informed education, analysis and careful consideration, decide that sending a spacecraft to Mars should be India’s top priority now vis-a-vis feeding milk to the malnourished or free the country’s air from carcinogenic pollution, or in case of the U.S., relentless bombing and making wars should be the topmost priority vis-a-vis rebuilding the falling-apart schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, libraries and a strong middle class, then that would be the right thing to do.

Problem is, we the 99% are force-fed with their views by their media, and we are allowed to voice our support only. Our role is only the role of cheer leaders. Dissent is repressed in China and USSR and Saudi Arabia, but excluded in USA and India. Noam Chomsky talks about self-censorship by U.S. media. Nobody knows there was a dissent, and why there was one. Scientists who have dissent, however few and far between, are ostracized and silenced. Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky are not household names in the U.S.

Dissent is never heard. Only the euphoria is heard, hence. Or, a massive indifference looms large.

In my opinion, hence, hoaxes and hypocrisies flourish.

Now, if I could only impress it all back on my scientist friend. Would she care to listen?

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Long Island, New York

September 26, 4 P.M.

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Not too long ago. Agent Orange, Vietnam. Monsanto.
Not too long ago. Agent Orange, Vietnam. Monsanto.

I Witnessed History Today

I was a part of an important history today. I witnessed the People’s Climate March.

At least two hundred thousand men, women and children walked from Columbus Circle at Central Park to Javits Center on 11th Avenue, here in New York City. It was humongous. It was massive. It was incredible!

We sent a strong, strong message to politicians, corporations and the U.N. The message was: it is OUR planet. It is OUR climate. It is our environment. Do not destroy it. We are HERE to reclaim it.

They noticed. They were not happy. They shuddered to see our united strength.

It was a divine experience.

I’m posting a few of my own photos here.

We made history today.

Partha PCM 1

What a Great Moment in Human History! And I was a part of it, walking shoulder to shoulder with 200,000 of us -- the 99 percent.
What a Great Moment in Human History! And I was a part of it, walking shoulder to shoulder with 200,000 of us — the 99 percent.

Partha PCM 3 Partha PCM 4 Partha PCM 5 Partha PCM 6 Partha PCM 7 Partha PCM 8

Modi, Media, and A 4 A.M. Realization

Image

At four in the morning today, I woke up with this scary realization.


I realized that unlike what New York Times and Times of India and CNN and NDTV told us, India’s Narendra Modi and his Hindu party BJP came to power with such a huge landslide because long time ago, when you and I and the village guy going to pee by the rail line under the open sky and the town woman lining up for her tube well water knew it, global rulers had decided that it was time for the corrupt and decadent Gandhi Congress to go.

 

They chalked out a plan.

 

And they knew that to preempt and quell a people’s rebellion on the street, an alternative storm of hope must be staged, and a democratic facade must be manufactured in the name of growth and development. Thus, their global and Indian media created a so-called Modi Wave and a so-called Gujarat Prosperity Model, and in the absence of an alternative media and presence of a pathetically disorganized Third Front as well as a totally apolitical, brainwashed, vast young generation, their plan worked.

 

A staged, fake third front called AAP backfired and collapsed.

 

Monsanto suicides
Monsanto suicides

An unprecedented election took place in India where nobody came to know anything about India’s catastrophic economic rot, IMF, WTO or trash currency that does not have any value on the global market. Nobody knew about Monsanto, Coke or McDonald’s and their takeover of India’s farms, food and water. Nobody knew about India’s looming environmental cancer. Or, a looming energy crisis that will crash India’s economy in six months or so.

 

Instead, on corporate media, a fake communalism debate was manufactured where experts started screaming whether Modi was responsible or not for the 2002 Muslim carnage in Gujarat. The left and the liberal, two biggest losers in these elections, fell for that trap.

 

Nobody even bothered to go to rural Gujarat to see the so-called Gujarat model first hand.

 

I came to realize that we’ve perhaps just witnessed the biggest mass deception in human history. In broad daylight, in front of the whole world, at least one billion people were cheated. I’m absolutely, positively certain about it, and I am ready to debate about it.

___

Post Script:

 

Today’s global economy and communications technology, coupled with long, grassroots knowledge and activism can help us analyze the situations in India and USA — two parallel systems — equally well. I’ve written about it for many years in various places including Indian and American publications. You — who live in India now — have more first hand knowledge about India today, and those of us who now live in USA have more knowledge about USA. But we all know about it because the political game across the world today is the SAME. The exploitative and deceptive “democracies” are strikingly similar; in fact some of the real, background players are the SAME. It is truly scary that this enormous, mass cheating is happening and people are accepting it as truth without even trying to critically analyze it.

 

That’s the greatest achievement of today’s neoliberal, neocolonial powers: to make the human mind stop questioning. This is how Orwell ended 1984 where the 99% totally accepted the 1% as the ultimate, unquestionable power.

 

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Taj Mahal, covered in environmental pollution
Taj Mahal, covered in environmental pollution