Visiting France and Italy…and Comparing Them with USA and India — An Analysis

2018-05-26 12.46.42The Roman Forum — Relics of the ancient city. Julius Caesar was assassinated here.
(Photo by author)

[Blogs can sometimes work better than Facebook. At least, that’s the hope I have here. Or, maybe, in this Era of Post Reason, nobody cares. Maybe, nobody wants to read anymore about history, politics, economics, or such “boring” subjects. We gathering most of our knowledge from corporate media, and imagine the rest of it.]

I just returned from a short vacation in France and Italy, and planned to write a series of articles on what I saw there, comparing their situation with that in USA and India. I write them on this blog, segment by segment.

Here is part one: a historical narrative, sort of.

The Poor Immigrants Today: Politically Exploited and Socially Excluded

When Hitler rose to power in 1930’s Germany, he tricked his country’s men and women into believing that he was the true and honest voice of the ordinary Germans, who can rescue the country from “economic misery” and “social anarchy.” He created an environment of ultra-patriotism that made people believe that (1) Germany’s economy is unraveling because of a post-WWI “punishing” Versailles Treaty, and also because of Jews that he said were living as parasites with no allegiance for the nation of Germany and its supremacy, and (2) in order to get out of the mess and re-establish “Old Glory,” Germany must withdraw from global economic agreements, drive out its Jewish aliens, and assume military power by secretly building an incredibly huge arsenal.

We know the rest of the history.

In 2016, Donald Trump came to power in USA — once a laughable proposition — by championing an “America First” slogan that almost exactly copied from Hitler’s book of propaganda. He threatened to withdraw from global economic treaties, impose trade embargo on China and Europe, and through his far right media outlets, blamed Muslim and Mexican immigrants for the economic “ills” of America. In his many speeches, he openly called immigrants as “murderers and rapists.” His Republican Party that over the years became a far right-wing party with fascistic trends, sided along with him, and a weak and corrupt Democratic Party with its inefficient leadership failed to stop him from becoming the president of America. Hitler also had exploited a weak, corrupt and inefficient Weimar Republic for Germany’s “miserable” situation.

History is repeating itself today in other parts of the world. We have seen it in today’s India, where a far right, fringe grassroots organization called the RSS and its political front BJP have assumed an once-unthinkable majority in the parliament, with Narendra Modi as the prime minister of India, whose visa the U.S. government revoked after his alleged mastermind role in the 2002 anti-Muslim riot in the state of Gujarat where he was the chief minister. A man affiliated with the RSS had once killed Mahatma Gandhi. In 1992, these Hindu supremacist groups were responsible for a massive, bloody carnage across India.

History repeats, but people forget the history very quickly. Mainstream media and politicians make them forget.

In Europe today, we see the same scenario unfolding. In France and Italy, two countries I visited last week, see this trend. In the recent presidential election, far right wing candidate Marie Le Pen received an unprecedented high percentage of votes, and became the biggest opposition to liberal Emmanuel Macron, who eventually won the election. In Paris, we have seen many “Frexit” signs on lamp posts — following the “Brexit” (British economy out of the Euro Zone) fallout. Far right lives even among the free Parisians.

As we all know, the British powers have always colluded with American powers, to create war (Iraq war on a fake WMD pretext being the most recent example), violence and havoc across the world — going against the wishes of the rest of the human civilization. Brexit consequences helped Trump to consolidate his “America First” propaganda even further.

In Italy, the newly elected president Sergio Mattarella won against a powerful anti-EuroZone, far right coalition led by a heir of WWII dictator Mussolini. Chances are, Mattarella, a weak president, will not survive his presidency long. We just came back from Rome and Naples. People are not happy with the way the new government is running.

Anti-immigrant sentiments are high, and poor immigrants we spoke with look grim, scared, isolated, excluded, and sad.

In all of the countries above — during the present and past — poor, hapless immigrants are bearing the brunt of the economic chaos and social unrest that they are not responsible for. The 1% is now 0.0001% in USA, and the so-called “American Dream” is long lost — for most people. Northern Europe and Scandinavian countries practicing social democracy and with a strong labor union are doing a little better. The American situation is potentially catastrophic. The Indian situation is explosive.

America’s wars across the world and their aftermath have created a new generation of destitute, and millions have fled Bangladesh, India, Pakistan (former British colonies), Mali, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco (former French colonies), Tunisia, Albania, Libya, Ethiopia (former Italian colonies) — places which were even further ravaged by a global war-waging American military industry. Vietnam was also a French colony, before USA inflicted the historic genocide and barbarism.

Poverty, illiteracy, and health crises are dangerously high in the undocumented immigrant and refugee communities. They are trapped, with nowhere to go.

History repeats itself, but people do not remember history. Those who do, an ignorant, violent, or complacent populist culture excludes them from their association and awareness.

(To be continued).


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


An Immigrant’s Isolation

Who wants to know?
Who wants to know?

People who have not been in an immigrant’s shoes do not understand how difficult isolation can be.

Isolation from his family and friends he left back in his home country. Or, her country. His or her. But because I’m using me as an example of this emotional void, I’ll use “his” in this short outburst.

In fact, isolation — when it hits — becomes so excruciating that you do not want to do anything. You do not want to write. You do not want to talk. You do not want to go out and have some fresh air, which could help make you feel better.

It’s a very deep depression you carry with you throughout the journey as an immigrant. You carry it for the rest of your life in the land that you adopted. You thought your life would be better, and perhaps it has been better for some material purposes: money, education, pleasures of life.

But deep down, you are living an unfathomable void. You feel it more when you are in pain. You even feel it when you are celebrating. Because in both cases, you want to share it with others. But there are no others. It’s a complete void. You are cut off from your own kind of society and civilization.

You are trying your best to be a part of the new civilization. You are trying hard. But you can’t do it.

You just can’t do it.

On various occasions, I compared my immigrant’s isolation with the time when Neil Armstrong was dropped on the moon. The way he saw the vast, huge mass of land — dark, empty, lifeless. He broke down emotionally. He fought insanity, coming back to earth. But in my case, I can’t even go back to my earth. An immigrant is stuck on the moon forever.

And his spaceship dropped him off, and left. His Apollo will not return.

I guess, most people do not understand it. They would not understand it. I guess, and I’ve seen, even many immigrants do not understand it. Or, they are so “practical” that they have decided not to think about it.

“Most people are not poets; only some are” — as said one of our Bengali writers.

Really, you don’t feel it unless you have a sensitive mind. You don’t feel it if you do not long for your kind of people. You do not feel the pain if you do not want to share it with others. You do not feel the joy if you do not feel any need to share it with others who love you and care for you.

I do not feel like writing anymore. I am just happy that today, I was able to write this much.

Otherwise, this huge, empty, lifeless new world would devour me to death, quickly.

I am alive. And I am doing a lot of work. Some people say I am doing a lot of good work.

Maybe, I am.

But…who really understands an immigrant’s isolation?

Isolation of an immigrant who can’t deal with a total lack of society.

It’s no different from Neil Armstrong dropped on the moon.

Okay, that’s enough. Life will go on.



Brooklyn, New York