Mandela. Yes. MLK. Yes. Gandhi. No.

Mandela. Yes. Gandhi. No.
Mandela. Yes. Gandhi. No.

[Update: Nelson Mandela died today, December 5, 2013. With his death, world lost one of the most important crusaders for rights, justice and freedom.]

Two important articles on Mandela — subjects big media won’t talk about in this frenzy to glorify him, without talking what he was truly all about.

http://thinkprogress.org/home/2013/12/06/3030781/nelson-mandela-believed-people-wont-talk/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/05/don-t-sanitize-nelson-mandela-he-s-honored-now-but-was-hated-then.html

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“Live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” — Nelson Mandela.

“Others” is the key word here. Live … for … others…and not just for yourself. Once today’s evil Roman Empire gets it, human civilization will stop sinking, and move forward again.

Until then, it’s all downhill dark and despair…and Ayn Rand.

This is my small tribute to two of the greatest men I’ve respected in my life.
______________________________________________

Nelson Mandela is in critical condition. We are all hoping and praying he pulls through. But he is 94 and his health situation has taken a turn for the worse.

This is a brief remark I have about Mandela — Amandla, Madiba— at this crucial time. This is a brief remark I’ve carried with me all my life.

There will be many eulogies about Mandela. Big media, establishment media, textbooks — particularly in the U.S., South Africa, Britain and India — would immediately compare him with Gandhi.

Likewise, over the years, there have been many eulogies about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Big media, establishment media, textbooks — particularly in the U.S. Africa, Britain and India — have compared him with Gandhi too.

Even though I understand the importance of Gandhi and his nonviolent movement, and even though I am totally against violence, for various, critically important reasons, I reject the mainstream’s sweeping comparison between Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi.

For historical reasons, I strongly believe that Gandhi was no Mandela. Gandhi was no Dr. King. Let’s accept facts, and not hearsays.

Nelson Mandela challenged Apartheid. He challenged the Anglo-American-European white supremacist doctrine and politics of subjugation (NOTE: I’m emphasizing the politics that has divided and conquered the rest of the world). Amandla challenged the global political colonialism, brutal violence against the black people, mob lynching, arson and mass rape. He organized his people against European economic oppression, slavery, stealing of land, and fought back against centuries of explicit, grotesque violation of human rights of African people. He inspired the entire world and its rights and justice soldiers to rise up against the global tyranny, promoted and sustained mainly by U.K. and U.S. regimes.

Apartheid regimes put Mandela in prison for almost thirty years. Ronald Reagan and a number of other U.S. presidents supported Apartheid. They did not want Mandela to come out of prison. Margaret Thatcher had also supported Apartheid, even though later she withdrew her support.

MLK. Yes. Gandhi. No.
MLK. Yes. Gandhi. No.

The same presidents and similar political leaders and regimes in America and across the world also supported repression of blacks and other such disempowered, marginalized people. They never believed these poor and oppressed people should have equal rights and dignity. They never liked civil rights leaders such as Dr. King or Malcolm X. They never liked the fact that Dr. King not only championed equal rights for the black people in America, but also spoke against economic exploitation of workers around the world. They despised that he championed labor unions and supported their strikes. The people in power never liked that Dr. King spoke strongly against the Vietnam genocide.

I have always believed that Nelson Mandela and Reverend King both understood the connection between global colonization from outside forces and social feudalism and exploitation of the poor from domestic forces. Both of them challenged economic subjugation of the ordinary, working people — both by external and internal powers. Both leaders were visionary to explain how the so-called one percent is using global warfare, assassinations and other politics of violence on one hand and permanent replacement of a people-oriented economic system by a profit-oriented system on the other. Therefore, both Mandela and MLK worked simultaneously on peace, rights, justice and equality fronts.

Therefore, global powers and their media — some of whom later sang praises for them — tried to condemn them as communists and socialists, with help from establishment media. They also tried to assassinate them many times. These are all historical facts, whether we like them or not.

And that is where the critical difference is between these two leaders and Gandhi.

Believe me, I know the importance of Gandhi’s nonviolent freedom struggle. I know how his nonviolence has now become a major force for many grassroots struggles around the world. And I know at the end of the day, it was Gandhi who was killed by religious fanatics. My book on the politics of religion in India talks at length about Gandhi’s assassination by zealots.

No to Feudalism.
No to Feudalism.

But honest to God, Gandhi is no Mandela. Gandhi is no MLK. Mainly because Gandhi never believed in social and economic equality between men and women, or the rich and poor. Gandhi never believed in total equality, period. Gandhi, unlike Mandela and MLK, practiced the politics of appeasement with a tyrannical British Raj. Gandhi yielded to an historically murderous partition of India. Gandhi drove anti-British progressive leaders away from his Congress Party, and put feudal, corrupt, social patriarchs in power. The horrific patriarchy and violence on women India sees now, as well as with the abysmal corruption Indian people in power are now exposed naked, are all direct products of Gandhi’s failed political and social doctrines. They are all results of him putting the wrong people in power.

Most of us do not even know that how the so-called nonviolent Gandhi’ism actually destroyed nearly a hundred years of anti-British struggle in India when he was brought over from South Africa, many say, by the British. Hundreds of thousands of Indians — a large number from Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra — had sacrificed their lives fighting back against the British occupation. Gandhi’s relatively short-lived movement helped delete these martyrs from the history of India’s freedom struggle. Western powers were delighted that it did.

(And very few dare to speak about Gandhi’s explicit racism against South African blacks.)

I understand this is NOT the time to talk about Gandhi. I understand this is a SOLEMN moment to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. But, just because my voice is small and I am not going to have a better opportunity to challenge mainstream media’s comparison between these three leaders, I thought I’d write a few lines challenging the disingenuous parallel.

Quickly, global powers are destroying and distorting history. Can we take a moment, while remembering Mandela, to reflect on this obliteration of people’s history: the history of our struggle?

I wanted to meet Mandela. I met him — even though not personally. But I met him. Believe me, I did.

Thank you, Madiba, Amandla, for meeting me.

Ardently, Humbly, a Lifelong Follower of Yours,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Others. That is the key word.
Others. That is the key word.

The Passing of Rituparno Ghosh

Image

I just got some bad news from Calcutta. Noted filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh suddenly died this morning. He was 49.

In some ways, Ghosh reminded us of Fassbinder. In their separate social contexts and possibilities, they both challenged the “normal” society and the larger limitations of humanity. Both had a “libertine” lifestyle. Both probably died of strange, out-of-the-ordinary reasons — prematurely.

Both Fassbinder and Ghosh were exceptionally talented and extremely hard-working. Both cut a new genre of powerful, artistic movies.

Art critic, film professor Dilip Basu at University of California at Santa Cruz wrote me: “He was an idealist/realist, and an iconoclast.”

Prof. Basu is right. Ghosh carried forward the bright torch of Bengali liberal intelligentsia, a torch passed on by the likes of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and more recently, Buddhadev Dasgupta, Aparna Sen and Gautam Ghose. All these noted movie makers, Ray and Ghatak being the two globally-famous names, showed us how progressive thoughts and anti-status-quo intellectualism and politics can thrive — even in an extremely conservative and patriarchal society. Yes, they can survive an onslaught of MTV, Beyoncé, Spielberg, Titanic and Jolie.

Or, in the Indian context, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Amir Khan.

Fassbinder (1945-1982)
Fassbinder (1945-1982)

The Bengali poets, artists, musicians and intellectuals have created an indelible path of free and futuristic thinking. Indian filmmakers and playwrights such as Ray, Ghatak and Ghosh as well as Badal Sarkar, Shyam Benegal, Girish Kasaravalli, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, M. S. Sathyu and Ketan Mehta vigorously put up a strong resistance against the quicksand kitsch of Bollywood. Millions of Indians and Bengalis are proud they have refused to be a part of the Bollywood imbecility. They drew inspiration from the vibrant, alternative, pro-real-life, anti-fantasy genre. They needed the inspiration now more urgently than ever before.

Ghosh’s sudden, untimely departure is thus truly difficult to grasp today.

Professor Basu wrote me: “A Bollywood friend told me once, ‘If you are looking for real innovation, you will not find it here as much as in Kolkata [Calcutta]. Where is a Rituparna Ghosh in Mumbai?'” For those who do not know, Bollywood movies are all made in Mumbai (previously Bombay — thus the name Bollywood: Bombay-Hollywood).

There was never a Satyajit Ray or Ritwik Ghatak in Mumbai Bollywood. There was never a Rituparno Ghosh or Aparna Sen in Bollywood Mumbai either. Especially if you think about the exquisite art Rituparno Ghosh held in his frames.

Many smiled at him. Many more laughed.
Many smiled at him. Many more laughed.

Especially, Ghosh was indeed an iconoclast. For India’s extreme, and often violent male chauvinistic society, his coming out as a gay/transgender was itself a revolutionary act. Some say, his sexual orientation and fiercely individualistic lifestyle made him a lonely man.

A Calcutta critic Yajnaseni Chakraborty wrote today: “…the jibes at the way he dressed and talked, the personal attacks on his films and those he acted in, the insensitivity of a society he was trying to change and educate, the seeming disloyalty of those he considered friends, and his inability to really, truly, trust anybody. Beneath his nonchalant facade, the hurt and the loneliness dug deep.”

I was not so much for his almost exhibitionist, somewhat bizarre lifestyle. In fact, as a movie enthusiast, I was not even one of his biggest fans. I never liked the way he filmed Tagore’s Chokher Bali (Eyesore) and cast Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai as the lead, feminist character (Bollywood is polar opposite to women’s equality, in case you didn’t notice; and the Bachchan-Rai family has been one of the lead torchbearers of this anti-feminism street swear). I strongly disliked the way Ghosh distorted Tarashankar Banerjee’s novel Antar Mahal (Heart Quarters). I always thought Rituparno, in a zeal to break down any social norms, customs and traditions, took it too far too quickly, and did not do justice either to the original authors or to the core messages they wanted to pass on to us. His cinematography took over his body of work, not only from a film-language point of view, but also from a social message point of view. His much-pronounced individualism thus unfortunately alienated me from some of his otherwise memorable creations.

Indian Rituparno Ghosh, at the end, perhaps gave in to Western Ayn Rand’ism. Or, perhaps, to Fassbinder’ism.

But I still want to remember him as one of our greatest artists and filmmakers; Ghosh brought the Bengali-Indian audience back to Bengali-Indian cinema from kitschy-glitzy-variety Bollywood. I want to remember his movie Dahan (Crossfire), where Ghosh took on the rampant street violence on women in India as well as the cowardice of Bengali middle class failing to prevent it. He took it head-on. I want to remember how he used our beloved Tagore singer Suchitra Mitra as a major actress on the movie and brought the best out of her. I would want to remember Chokher Bali, not for the film interpretation as much, but for the celestial music Ghosh’s music director Debojyoti Mishra created for the movie. I would close my eyes and just listen to the music for its entire two hours — non-stop.

Mastery in art. Captured in the frame.
Mastery in art. Captured in the frame.

Again, I was not a major fan of Rituparno Ghosh the filmmaker. But even without blinking for once, I would rank him as one of the most important artists — a cultural icon — of our time, who defied kitsch-for-entertainment, and had opted for intelligence and humanism — the essence of Bengali-Indian identity.

Or, rather, the way I have always considered our Bengali-Indian identity. Or, for that matter, my present Bengali-Indian-American identity.

Rituparno Ghosh and his art are going to be dearly missed.

Sadly Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Everybody knows, Nobody cares. Nobody dares. Nothing changes.
Dahan by Rituparna Ghosh. Everybody knows, Nobody cares. Nobody dares. Nothing changes.

How My Father Taught Me Patriotism

In the Twilight Zone…

“All can be sacrificed for ideology, but ideology can never be sacrificed.” — My father Jitendra Nath Banerjee, quoted from my book In the Belly of the Beast: Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India. Ajanta Books International, New Delhi, 1998.

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This is a very personal story.

Today, I want to tell you how my father taught me patriotism. I want to tell you how he taught me how to love your own country — selflessly.

Today is 15th of August: India’s Independence Day. This is a special moment to remember some of the lessons my father left with me — with much hope and expectation.

He taught me that patriotism is not just about the so-called Independence Day. He never had any special emotions on the 15th of August. I have followed some of his lessons, and also carefully, selectively rejected some others. But I have accepted his seminal lesson that these specially designated days have no special meaning. I have never found any special reasons to celebrate either 15th of August for India, or the 4th of July here in America. I always found them to be all about hype for the “haves” (or those who believe they will soon be have’s), and nothing about the “have-nots.” And no, I am not a communist. I never was. My father was staunchly anti-communist.

Even though I am now primarily an American citizen and secondarily an Indian overseas citizen, and even though I have been living in the U.S. for twenty-five years with a rarely-found high and honest, sincere involvement with the American society, economics and politics, deep inside, I feel very strongly about India, the country where I spent over twenty-five years of my life — a place where I was born, grew up and first learned how to live and love.

India is the land and Bengal is the special land where my senses developed and matured: senses to appreciate art, literature, music, poetry and politics. My Calcutta school teachers gave me my first history and geography lessons. I developed my first people skills and public oration in Calcutta. My first falling in love and first hurting in love were in Bengal.

My First Love: Art, Literature and Music.

My mother and my grandmother, two women who left deep impressions on me, lived and died there. They did not know any other places. In its fullest sense, therefore, I can call India and Bengal my motherland. I owe a lot to those places. At the same time, I have a special sense of righteousness and wrongfulness for those places.

My father who is now eighty-eight years old and in poor health, wanted to instill some of his hard-earned values in me. One of the values he inculcated on me was his love and pride for his motherland. India was not just a geographical mass of land for him. It was his entire existence: his way of life. It’s a belief system.

Today, a socioeconomic devastation is engulfing India like wildfire. In spite of the unbelievable material progress for the top one percent of India’s people, and some trickle-down progress for the next five to ten percent of India’s upper middle class — thanks to a globalized economy India adopted post-Soviet era — India’s vast eighty percent poor who live in both rural and urban areas, keep sliding fast into a quicksand of poverty and hopelessness. Nowhere in the history of India, the rich-poor disparity and income inequality have been so extremely wide.

Corruption is the Most Profitable Industry in India.

But the most catastrophic devastation has taken place in India’s social, moral and ethical values. In just two decades, India has transformed from a country of collective care and compassion to a country of extreme individualism, a disintegrating society and horrific corruption.

My father was a poor man compared to today’s standards. But he didn’t have to be this way. He was born in a more-or-less well-to-do family where his father migrated from poet’s Bengal to pious Benaras and married a woman from a rich family. He had bought a big house in an uppity neighborhood in Benaras, and when he died, his family was doing well where his widow — my father’s mother — as well as my uncles and aunts didn’t have to worry about their economic well being.

But my father chose to sacrifice it all. At a young age, a bright student, he became involved with an ultranationalist organization and gave up his college education and essentially, his career, to work full-time as a grassroots activist for the group. He lived from village to village, small town to small town all over North India, and put his organizational priorities much above his personal priorities. In fact, he never had a personal priority of his own. I have never seen him buying a shirt for himself or spending any money on himself. He spent his paltry factory-staff salary for us and some other poor relatives. My mother saved a few rupees here and there to help her mother and fatherless siblings who were miserably poor and often starved.

Gandhi was assassinated immediately after India’s 1947 independence from the British and a violent, bloody partition of the country in three, arbitrary pieces, uprooting millions of Bengalis and Punjabis. My father’s organization RSS was implicated in the assassination and later exonerated by India’s court. However, Indian government in the interim put all the top activists in jail, and my father spent a few years in free India’s jail. When he came out, his leaders sent him away to Bengal to work for its political wing — a party which is now India’s biggest opposition party. In Calcutta, he met my mother, a beautiful woman from a very poor Brahmin family, and they got married. I was born two years later.

My first lesson in patriotism was through the Hindu right wing organization’s paramilitary exercises on one hand as well as its patriotic songs many of which included Tagore and D. L. Ray’s nationalistic songs; yet at home, my father and my mother both taught me how to love the language of Bengali with its vast art, music and literature. Father taught me about Tagore, Swami Vivekananda and ancient Hindu scriptures in Bengali, Hindi and Sanskrit; my mother’s family and my maternal uncles and aunts all taught me more Bengali-liberalism-oriented people patriotism. There was a subtle balance between my mother’s version of patriotism and my father’s: there was never any serious conflict. I was never force-fed.

But the most important patriotism that my father taught me was about a deep pride for the heritage, history and traditions of the ancient land of Bharatvarsha (the Land of King Bharat) and its continuous stream of legendary personalities and their contributions in every possible aspect of life — for thousands of years. The pride gave me a strong, moral and spiritual backbone to stand on. We had no money and we had absolutely no pedigree; in fact, both my father and myself were subjects of many major and minor humiliations and ridicules by “friends,” “relatives” and neighbors alike — because of our economic status. But they could never unnerve my father’s steel-strong resolve and confidence; they could also never humiliate my mother because of her golden-glow character and modest-but-strong poise.

My father taught me that patriotism was never about material richness or personal prosperity.

My first lesson in patriotism. Left it. It wasn’t me.

I always knew that patriotism was about the people, and mainly about the suffering people — irrespective of their caste. My father and his organization were quite extreme on their rejection of internationalism; the organization was, I repeat, staunchly anti-socialist and pro-Hindu. They had deep anathema for Christian missionaries, Muslims and communists.But their love for their Hindu-heartland country, complete dedication, selfless sacrifice and absolute renunciation of greed — for all intensive purposes like those of saints and yogis — were exemplary. I grew up in that tradition. I am very happy that I did.

One result: money and material could never lure me. Ever. (People say that’s an excuse for my inability to be a rich immigrant here in the U.S.)

Yet, I have seen some others in the same organization — ones who used and exploited my father and dedicated, selfless activists like him. But to me, my father has always been a symbol of moral uprightness, honesty, integrity and selfless devotion for the country. I have rejected their religious dogma-based politics once and for all, and left the organization long ago — once and for all. But I can never forget either the love and affection I received from those numerous ex-colleagues I worked with, nor their complete dedication for the cause. I have used those attributes in a different way: in my grassroots and advocacy work here in America.

India is going downhill. The old-wine-in-new-bottle rulers have destroyed the country’s people-oriented society and economy and replaced it with a trickle-down, profit-oriented system, with active support from IMF, World Bank and multinational corporations. India has now the highest level of corruption both at government and private institutions; corrupt and unethical practices have become so rampant that nobody considers them unusual or extraordinary anymore.

The Revolutionary Monk…an Electrifying Inspiration!

There is a new kind of internationalism in vogue — a globally connected class of rulers with money, military and media. This class has brought the land of Sri Chaitanya, Tagore, Gandhi, Vivekananda, Ambedkar, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Mirabai and Vidyasagar to the brink of doom. History and heritage conversations are now outdated; pride in the ancient land’s thousands of years of glory is now ridiculed by the country’s new elite and their young, modern, “global” followers.

To be rich is now independent India’s only purpose to live. It does not matter how you become rich. The society and the vast eighty percent poor, who keep languishing in total hopelessness and despair, do not matter. In fact, you use and exploit them — mercilessly. Ayn Rand must be laughing her heads off, down there!

My father, on the other hand, taught me how to reject individualistic, selfish prosperity and greed — in his own way. Much later, I heard a Bengali song composed by a rural, wandering poet named Mukunda Das. I cite it here. If there is one lesson of patriotism I learned from my father, I’d cite this song.

“hasite khelite asi ni e jagate
karite habe moder mayer’i sadhana”

Mukunda Das, the rural bard of Bengal.

We did not come to this world only to play and have fun
The call of the day is to invoke and worship the Mother.

Old-fashioned patriotism? Too nationalistic? Too sentimental?

I’d rather be old-fashioned, nationalistic and sentimental patriot with zero selfishness and zero greed, than a so-called modern, global and pragmatic materialist who lives for himself or herself only. I never wanted that kind of life. My father never lived that kind of life. My mother never did, either.

That’s my patriotism. I am happy with it — whether I am in USA or India.

I hope you think about it too.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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I Shall Never Vote for Romney and Ryan. But They Will Win.

Money Money Money…Sweet, Ryan and Phony

Note: I wrote this article on my own, using my own time and resources. This is a purely personal opinion.

Also, please read these related posts.
http://onefinalblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/an-urgent-call-to-occupy-wall-street/

and

Questions Media Won’t Ask Romney and Ryan

http://onefinalblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/questions-media-wont-ask-romney-and-ryan/

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I am never going to vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. But my vote would not matter. Romney and Ryan are going to win in November, 2012.

Let me tell you why.

But before I do that, let me tell you this. I am terribly worried that a Romney administration, with help from someone like Paul Ryan, is going to destroy the last remnant of the New Deal economic system — an FDR-established, time-tested fiscal policy that saved and prospered the working people and middle-class families of America for decades.

I am scared to think about the future of America and its new generation of working people and families that’s going to suffer the most. Irony is that, many of these young men and women this time wouldn’t even come out to vote. I am frozen to imagine how their lives will shatter into pieces. I am frozen to imagine how the top 1 percent in America will now be even more powerful and richer — at the expense of the poor and middle class. Occupy Wall Street’s worst nightmare will come true! Sadly. Scarily!

The new Romney-Ryan (and Rove) administration also will, in all likelihood, begin a new war in a matter of months. Another ancient civilization will be erased from the face of the earth. Millions of innocent lives and dreams will be destroyed in that new, massive bloodshed.

Because I understand the looming destruction and doom and cannot ever accept it, I shall not vote for Romney and Ryan. But my vote won’t matter. With help from U.S. corporations, think tanks and media, as well as Karl Rove and Koch Brothers, they will win the elections this November.

War, Profit and Propaganda…All in the Name of Democracy.

Let me tell you why.

I shall be brief. After all, with all these big-name political pundits and their big-name media spouting foam-in-the-mouth, who’s going to listen to what a no-name neophyte says on his little, obscure blog?

I quote this from CNN today.

“Congressman Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are a match made in millionaires’ heaven, but they’ll be a nightmare for seniors who’ve earned their Medicare benefits,” said New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “For the last 18 months, we’ve said Republicans will have to defend the indefensible — their vote to end Medicare. Now with Congressman Ryan on the ticket, House Republicans face the one thing they hoped to avoid — a national debate on their budget that puts millionaires first and Medicare and the middle class last.”

I think that quote says it all. Let’s see what it really says — section by section.

Section 1. “Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are a match made in millionaires’ heaven.” Okay, great point, Mr. Israel. We all know Republicans’ crocodile tears for the working people and middle class, especially at election times, are phony. But do you know what’s phony about your quote? Democratic Party has done exactly the same thing over the past two presidencies — of Clinton and Obama. You have not done a thing to bring the economy back to the direction of the poor and middle class, who voted you in with so much hope and expectation. You have worked with the rich bankers and financial institutions, and have not held them accountable for their destruction and looting of the American economy.

And just two days ago, in spite of a scathing Congressional hearing that completely, unequivocally exposed the criminal activities of Goldman Sachs and its billionaire executives, your administration has let them off the hook — silently.

If the Republicans are hypocrites, at least we always knew they were. But Mr. Israel, you can’t project a different, clean image for your party and your administration. As far as I am — a registered Democrat voter — concerned, I feel cheated.

Clinton Destroyed Welfare. Even Reagan Couldn’t Do It.

Secton 1: post script. Bill Clinton destroyed the welfare system in a way even Ronald Reagan or George Bush Senior couldn’t do. See, we’ve heard a lot of talk from the Dems about Republicans’ destruction of Medicare and Social Security. I’m sure some of it is true. But again, they don’t make any pretension about it. They tell us that Medicare and Social Security are wasteful expenses and they want to get rid of them. They tell us that they want to privatize Social Security (which will really be the end of the last remnant of New Deal economics), and I am sure Romney and Ryan will keep their promises. They will also destroy America’s once-prized public education system, once and for all.

But think about it. Clinton destroyed American welfare that was so critical for so many poor people especially poor women and single mothers. You Democrats named it welfare reform. Corporate media was handy again to spin on it and middle class people who didn’t know much about the devastating impact of this “reform” bought your spin. Clinton won in 1996, with help from Southern moderates and Northern conservatives.

At the same time, Clinton put Greenspan, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin in power, who with help from Phil Gramm, et al. in Congress, overturned the landmark Glass-Stegall Act and deregulated financial derivatives. Basically, the Clinton administration privatized the U.S. economy and promoted deregulation — going against the New Deal principles of the Democratic Party.

Section 2. “Now with Congressman Ryan on the ticket, House Republicans face the one thing they hoped to avoid — a national debate on their budget that puts millionaires first and Medicare and the middle class last.” Great again, Mr. Israel. But what if someone like me challenges you and the Obama Democrats how you have performed over the past four years when you bailed out the richest corporations (and let off the hook Goldman Sachs, etc.), took in some of the biggest Wall Street crooks on your administration, and did not do anything significant to drive the economy back in the direction of the working people and families.

What answer would you have for them: like, “Well, I know we have not done anything significantly different from Clinton or Bush W., but see we are really significantly different? Just trust us?”

Well, Mr. Israel, I am definitely not going to vote for Mitt Romey and Paul Ryan, because I just know them all too well. But guess what, a LOT of ordinary Americans, who are sick and tired of your party’s and administration’s false promises for Change We Can Believe In, will vote for them.

I work with American labor and immigrants — all poor and middle class. I know for the fact that a large number of these people will vote Republican this time. Not because they don’t like Barack Obama. They do. Barack Obama is a likeable guy: he is smart, he is extremely articulate, and he is I believe much more caring than some of his predecessors.

But his personal qualities and his administrative records simply do not match.

Rats! They are Republocrats!

So, to keep it brief, here’s some of the reasons Romney and Ryan will win.

Bullet Point 1. The Republicans and Democrats are now really flip sides of the same, old coin (or you can use the other cliché and call them same-old wine in a new bottle). People now call them Republocrats, and how much ever you’d dislike to hear it, they have truly become just that.

Bullet Point 2. The Koch Brothers, ALEC, NRA, right wing think tanks such Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Center for Immigration Studies, Eagle Forum, and the billionaire Super PAC’s are now going to work extra hard to pump in an historic amount of campaign money to the Romney-Ryan ticket. With U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Citizen United verdict, nobody can prevent them from doing that, and they don’t even have to disclose their identity.

Bullet Point 3.We have seen a small version of that enormous campaign cash in the Wisconsin Scott Walker recall election. It’s going to be deja vu, thousand times multiplied.

2012 Super-PAC Contributions

Bullet Point 4. Labor and youth will vote in a drastically smaller number because they have lost their enthusiasm for Obama. If anything, a large number of working people — especially non-union people — will vote Republican this time. Even a significantly higher number of union members will vote Romney-Ryan. Congressional elections this November will also be a Republican landslide. Hate me for saying this, and I hope to be proven wrong.

Bullet Point 5. Contrary to the above, Tea Party will come out in full force and with help from white supremacists who absolutely want to see Obama eliminated, will work Romney-Ryan with the same enthusiasm we had for Obama in 2008. They do not believe in government, they hate Obama, and they’ve found their best spokesperson now in Ryan (and Joe Biden is…well, I don’t know what he really is). Government programs, whatever is left for the poor and needy, are going to be history. In fact, chances are, the U.S. government as an institution is going to be history too! And that would be the ultimate victory for Ayn Rand and Frederich Von Hayek and their disciples such as Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin.

Bullet Point 6. The war lobby, especially the Middle East war lobby and their known spokespersons in the media, will make sure Romney wins. Romney’s announcement today on the V.P. pick in front a Norfolk war ship is not a missed point, especially for these powers and their big friends in big media. Romney presidency will start a new Middle East war very soon. In spite of Obama’s so-called terrorist kill list (one that President Carter denounced recently), there has not been a new full-scale war in four years; in fact, people are coming out on the streets of Egypt, Yemen and those places, and are throwing off U.S.-supported dictators. The Middle East war lobby and their media are deeply disturbed.

I shall come back and write more. I hope you come back and send your comments and criticism too.

Sincerely (and Scared’ly) Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Arab Spring. We need a nonviolent American revolution, now!

An Urgent (Renewed) Call to Occupy Wall Street

Re-posted on May Day, 2012. Watch NY1 TV report on today’s OWS rally at Union Square.

Apologies. This blog is not the place where I post hardcore political stuff.

However, given the urgent nature of it, I’m taking the liberty to digress from the “personal” and “apolitical” focus of my blog, to invite you to be a part of this critically important conversation — both here in the U.S. and worldwide.

I shall try to analyze some relevant social and economic scenarios that might prove useful in this conversation.

I hope you take a couple of minutes to go through this note, and think about it.

IF you find it useful, please share it.

Thank you.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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AN URGENT CALL to Occupy Wall Street Protesters

By

Partha Banerjee

_________________________________________________________________

First, this. You might find it very relevant to the discussion below. Let me know if you need clarification. I’d be happy to speak or write more. Thank you for taking the time to go over this paper and workshop I presented last June in Granada, Spain.

Peer-reviewed paper on political alliance building at  

http://ijh.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.26/prod.2020

The Second Circle

Second Circle – Middle Majority of the Working People: A Simple Spin Wheel Model to Build Alliance and Power across the Soft “Left and Right”

Working people who consider themselves moderate “left” or ‘right” have more overlaps than differences. Below are a few examples – the moderate working people feel similarly and strongly about the following:

1. Economic disparity and frustrations on social mobility: living wages, unpredictable workplace, loss of health care, education costs for children, loss of home and savings, and consequent psychological trauma and depression are major issues.

2. Feeling of being left out: not being a part of the election-time promises to be included in democratic processes.

3. Discontent on lack of peace, right, justice and human dignity issues: state repression, global warfare and poverty issues hit the average home.

4. Helplessness on destruction of the earth and environment: the BP disaster, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan and Iraq wars are examples.

5. Fast-worsening stability and security situation for the children: terrorism and violence are all-time high.

Can the poor, working man and woman strengthen themselves to a position of power? Can we empower the Middle Majority – which I call the Second Circle – driven by coalition building across the working class, political education, and will power, in a non-violent way? What are the obstacles?

I propose a simple “spin wheel” model to create cooperation and collaboration across the moderate left and right working class spectrum, eventually empowering the Second Circle middle majority, and through the process, disempowering the iron-walled elite center and separatist and violent far right and far left. I believe that with evolving action plans (including but not limited to elections), moderate working people will win and assume power.

The artificial left-right divide is deliberately created by the forces in power aided by corporate media; it’s been detrimental for the working class people and families. It’s time we go beyond the archaic box and come together.

_________________________________________________________________

Then, the main discussion on Occupy Wall Street.

I’m writing my two little cents with hope that somebody at the OWS camp will notice it. The developments since November 15, when Bloomberg and NYPD violated the democratic rights of us the ordinary people to protest peacefully, have been greatly troubling. It is obvious — to me and a number of my friends who worked with me over the years as a grassroots political activist and peace and justice advocate – that with overt and covert support from the political establishment and corporate media, Wall Street crooks and their cronies are now preparing for major onslaughts on the movement. It is also quite likely that there will be violence traps to exploit.

And even though there was no violence from the OWS protesters’ side, there was violence from the suppressors’ side. Yet, media has largely overlooked it. That’s not surprising either. (However, today, May Day 2012, a local popular media report from New York City has covered some of the police action — as narrated by a little girl. Watch report at http://manhattan.ny1.com/content/top_stories/160369/may-day-protesters-join-for-large-union-square-rally.)

Next time, the “radical” protesters might be taken in prison, and strip searched — courtesy U.S. Supreme Court’s newest ruling earlier this week (April 2012).

Maybe, none of the above will happen; without a serious leadership with pragmatic goals and achievable benchmarks, the movement might fizzle. There are already unfortunate signs of it. Street protests have become increasingly unsustainable. (But the May Day rallies across the U.S. today showed that the movement is still strong and perhaps coming back in full force. That is very reassuring.)


Upon this backdrop, this is my brief thought. This is what I urge you to do.

For heaven’s sake, find political support from the pro-people sections of Democratic and other political parties (Kucinich, Feingold, Sanders, Waxman, Levine…you know who I’m talking about; definitely not the Schumer or Clinton Democrats). More importantly, find support from parallel peace and justice groups. Find support from the labor movement.

Without that support, even sane Americans (and onlookers worldwide) will slowly get tired of the prolonged protests “without a clear goal” (I know you have solid demands), and both corporate America and elite-centrist Reps and Dems with their military and police and media will crush you.

Find that critical political support and find a clear time line to achieve certain goals. Have meetings. Talk about it. Call us.

Ideally, OWS with help from all rights, justice and peace groups (and special support from labor) should have their own candidates for the upcoming elections; however, I don’t believe it is anymore possible in 2012. It needs focused energy to achieve election goals; I am yet to see the movement contemplating that goal.

Some of us believe that Obama-Biden Democrats will eventually call. They’ll never call. Most of them do not want to lose their campaign contribution money anyways. Obama is one of them. It’s up to the protesters to show that they have political pragmatism and acumen; they need to show to the world that they know how to find political support from sane, influential people from all walks of life. The documentary Inside Job (Sony, 2010, directed by Charles Ferguson) has interviewed some of these people. Talk to them. Make up a winning strategy.

The other side is WAY too powerful. Plus they have New York Times and CNN, PBS, etc. on their side. (I’m not even talking about Fox or the Murdoch media empire and far right wing nuts like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.)

During a Facebook conversation, one committed OWS friend said this in response to the above: “Trying to work within this corrupted, benighted system is a losing proposition. The protesters are righteous and an important part of this process. Screw both parties. Time to change it all.”

I told her that it’s not so easy (i.e., to “screw both parties” and work without them). I did not hear from her ever again.

This is the real "Change We Can Believe In."

I’m trying to articulate my bullet-points here very briefly; if you want, you can circulate them among the OWS leaders, and let me know if they need me in any future conversations.

(1)  Obama was elected with bankers’ money. He never did and never will come out strongly against the crooks who stole the U.S. economy. His so-called Wall Street reform has been laughably inadequate. (However, Republicans, Wall Street and their media will use that reform ploy in 2012 as if enough has been done already to reform Wall Street and therefore, now it is old news — to divert peoples’ attention from that subject, moving their spotlight to the so-called tax and deficit questions. They and their corporate media alike will again conveniently not analyze Reaganomics and the deficits ballooned during Bush. See illustration below.)

See for yourself: Bush-era Reaganomics tax cuts for the rich created huge deficit.

(2) Democratic Party establishment is no different than the Republican Party establishment when it comes to their campaign contribution money and allegiance; in fact, I always say that right wing is easier to read because they have no pretense. (Yet, it is true that 2012 is already seeing signs that billionaires and big corporations are heavily contributing to Republicans, especially through their PAC’s.)

(3) The financial sector, after Reagan, got the maximum boost and the stock market bubble happened during Bill Clinton. Remember Clinton had Greenspan as the Federal Reserve chairman, in spite of Greenspan’s well-known connections with Charles Keating of the S&L Scandal. Clinton also recruited Rubin and Summers — the two biggest names behind deregulation of derivatives and illegal-made-legal Wall Street mergers.

(4) The biggest crooks completely deregulated and destroyed the economy with blessings from Clinton, W. Bush and now Obama; nothing changed (Greenspan has Ayn Rand ideological agenda; Summers has Harvard and Columbia Business School support. All of them made millions in these eras).

(5) Neither Republicans nor Democrats jailed a single individual crook such as Paulson or Fuld even though all their wrongdoings are established and beyond belief. (Senator Carl Levine of Michigan, a few-and-far-between Democrat, grilled Goldman Sachs operatives; Waxman grilled Fuld of Lehman Brothers who made a personal income of half a billion dollars off the now-bankrupt company. The hearings are available online. There are more such public exposés. Paulson would be a test case to expose now.)

(6) We are working under this system; therefore, there is NO reason to believe mainstream Democrats would come out to support OWS. Levine and Waxman hearings, although strong and commendable, failed to jail either the GS operatives or Fuld. Note the notable absence of the two big NY senators Hillary and Schumer from these events; I have not heard a single word of support for OWS from them.

(7) As I said before, and as I emphasized in my paper cited above, work with labor unions, peace and justice groups, and civil and immigrant rights groups. This is the time to mend fences and build broad-based alliance of moderate working people and families — both from the so-called left and right (read my new paper for this model).

(8) Therefore, find other politicians who either lost elections in 2010 because of their pro-people positions or are traditionally known for their pro-people politics — there are many both at the national and state levels. Spitzer is one of them (he was set up because he worked against these Wall Street crooks); then there are cleaner images within and outside the Democratic Party.

(9) Work with Volcker and others who do not like the way Glass-Stegall was repealed by Rubin, Summers and Paulson. Work with Elizabeth Warren, et al. too. Warren must win.

(10) Find international support especially from Europe — a whole bunch of leaders — market capitalists — know how to run a capitalist economy without crooks. Iceland has already fixed its colossal problems that precipitated exactly the U.S. way just before October 2008. (Watch the documentary Inside Job: it begins with the Iceland episode.)

(11) Challenge Obama on these economic and political platforms, and also the major Democratic candidates running in 2012. Find shadow candidates who can put pressure on them whether or not they actually run.

(12) Find friends in corporate media who can put out the OWS platform. It does not matter if for various reasons, the street rallies dwindle; people will come back in various ways to rally across the U.S. and beyond if there is a serious action plan based on pragmatic politics.

I do hope the OWS leaders have time to read my two cents.

BTW, it’s much better to have known evils in political power than hypocrites. The peace and justice movement both in the U.S. and worldwide got stronger during Dubya. Egypt and the entire Middle Eastern revolution keep happening because of that solidarity, not because of Obama’s Cairo speech.

NOTE: If you’re more interested to know about my grassroots, empirical model on political alliance building that invites and includes the sane and moderate working people and families from both the so-called left and right – to disempower the elite center and marginalize the extreme right and left – read my new paper Second Circle: Middle Majority of the Working People (International Journal of the Humanities, October 2010). I’m including the link to the abstract here. I’ve already put the text of the abstract above.

Again, the link is at http://ijh.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.26/prod.2020.

Thank you and in solidarity,

Partha Banerjee

(Note: I work with labor unions professionally. However, I wrote the above in my personal capacity.)

Email: banerjee2000@hotmail.com

Blog: http://onefinalblog.wordpress.com

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One of my recent talks in New Delhi, India