UNCEASING WAVES

Why Clinton Got Trumped

Posted in International, Politics by Karthick RM on November 12, 2016

Originally published on The Huffington Post

The white working class is the American equivalent of the Indian Backward Castes in political and economic terms. Though they form the majority and though they suffer the most (as much as non-whites) from America’s disastrous economic policies, they are only seen by posh urban multiculturalists as backward villains, racists, xenophobes, inbred dimwits – or simply, “white trash”. The term “white trash” is so broad that it can be used to refer to any white person who cannot afford elite education, who lives a life that has none of the multicultural or multiracial glamour of a cosmopolis.

And what do you know – according to a report of voting patterns in North Carolina, “Trump is getting 70 percent of white male voters with no college education.” That is, the untouchables whom Clintonists would never dream of campaigning with. Bernie Sanders had a chance to win them over. But like most leftist leaders today, he shot himself in the foot when he compromised to an ultra-elitist, bank and arms industry favoured, war-mongering.. err… feminist. How to understand the ‘to defeat Trump, we need to ally with Clinton’ argument then? Through Hollywood of course!

In Jurassic World, you have the cruel genetically altered mega-monster Indominus Rex which goes on an indiscriminate killing spree of anyone in its path. To defeat it, the humans ‘strategically ally’ with Tyrannosaurus Rex (which is also a genetically altered monster that wreaked havoc in earlier movies, but that history is conveniently forgotten). In the climax, T-Rex saves the humans from Indominus Rex and rules over Jurassic World like a triumphant, well um, liberal democrat. But a radical ending to this movie would have been to show T Rex defeating Indominus Rex and proceeding to eat the humans. That would have been the fate of Sanders’ politics had Clinton won; any leftist core in it would have been swallowed by the wave of triumphant militaristic liberalism. Now at least Sanders and co have time to introspect on what went terribly wrong for the American left.

I did think Clinton will win. But America has voted anti-establishment for the first time in several decades. Trump had all odds stacked against him – the lefty media and the corporates, pacifists and the arms-industry big wigs, Occupy and Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and George W. Bush. And yet he won. A pity that this anti-establishment candidate is a racist bigot, and not a left-wing leader who could mobilise America’s majority and minorities against the establishment.

But what is the most radical thing the American left has done in recent times besides vomiting theoretically hollow jargon and preaching practically unfeasible activism in infantile ultraleftist forums like CounterPunch and Jacobin? And will the liberal writers who are cribbing about the “audacity of hopelessness” and pitifully wetting the pages of the NY Times with their tears ever comprehend that liberalism has exhausted its limits? Perversely, the only happy thing in these dark times is to see stupid people like these cry!

Because, America is not Berkeley University. America cannot be controlled with trigger warnings about microagression. America cannot be restrained under a fragile tyranny of political correctness. America cannot (and should not) bear the great white guilt and hence, they have voted in a great white shark. America has spoken today and the verdict is out.

#RIPClinton

More Little Notes on Hillary-Trump

Posted in International, Politics by Karthick RM on November 7, 2016

The Guardian, Huffington Post and few other left-leaning/liberal sites have censored all criticism of Hillary Clinton. HuffPost has taken journalism to an entirely different level by adding a compulsory trigger warning about Trump to every article on the American elections. Meanwhile, Assange is revealing that Clinton has received funds by the same sources as ISIS – and of late, he has become an untouchable for libtards. Assange further says “Banks, intelligence, arms companies.. foreign money etc.. is all united behind Hillary Clinton, and the media as well. Media owners and even journalists themselves.” One can readily believe this at a time when the Guardian runs an editorial titled “Hillary Clinton is the World’s Best Hope.” This appears laughable but we must remember that the West is a world that celebrates Wonder Woman as a feminist figure. But we should also ask ourselves something – in an age of voluntary self-censorship, why should we be worrying about state censorship? The unethical journalistic behavior that Trump may force you to do, you will do voluntarily under Hillary. Some choice I say!

According to Indian-American Democrat Kamala Harris, “Trump can’t see beyond race, gender, and religion.” Actually, neither can multicultural liberals.

Donald Trump the militarist dodged getting enlisted in the Vietnam War. What was Hillary doing in that period? “I stayed up all night … to talk students out of staging a Vietnam War protest that would embarrass our college.” the candidate for peace and democracy has said in an interview. Let’s be very clear. Trump will make life miserable for Americans. Clinton, for the whole world. And since she has a humanitarian garb favored by Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street alike, she is best qualified to take American domination to higher levels. I have no doubts that she will win the elections; what I am truly fearing is the wave of enthusiasm that is going to follow among the lib-left who will celebrate ‘victory over fascism’, whatever that term means now.

Meanwhile, a pink-colored gender-sensitive drone will take-off to bomb America’s enemies in the middle-east, ISIS backers will have soft diplomatic relations with the new government, butcher Erdogan will receive a pat on the back for being a staunch ally, and the machine will consolidate its hold in strategic points in South Asia, including in genocidal regimes like Sri Lanka. But these will not be discussed among liberals for a while for fear of embarrassing the American Heroine…

PS: In The Dark Knight, the Joker says “This city deserves a better class of criminal.” Hillary is the person for the job.

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Finally. Defending Clinton’s feminism because of the misogyny of Trump supporters is the equivalent of defending Rahul Gandhi’s intellect because Subramaniam Swamy called him a buddhu. Dont defend things that do not exist.

Trump, Clinton, and Jurassic World

Posted in International by Karthick RM on August 19, 2016

How to understand the ‘to defeat Trump, we need to ally with Clinton’ argument? Through Hollywood of course!

In Jurassic World, you have the cruel genetically altered mega-monster Indominus Rex which goes on an indiscriminate killing spree of anyone in its path. So, to defeat it, the humans ‘strategically ally’ with Tyrannosaurus Rex (which is also a genetically altered monster that wreaked havoc in earlier movies, but that history is conveniently forgotten). In the climax, T Rex saves the humans from Indominus Rex and rules over Jurassic World like a triumphant, well um, liberal democrat. But a radical ending to this movie would have been to show T Rex defeating Indominus Rex and proceeding to eat the humans.

That would have been a fitting commentary on the Clinton supporters. Because in real life, the ‘humans’ are Bernie Sanders and co.

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A Note on the Paris Attacks

Posted in International by Karthick RM on August 14, 2016

Why didnt the Western media cover Beirut as much as Paris, a writer for Al Jazeera asks. Why didnt Al Jazeera cover the Tamil genocide as much as Palestine, can we ask? We dont because we maintain this minimal decency that we should not compare deaths, massacres of civilians, that each tragedy is unique in itself and should not be compared. Yes, the dominant Western media covers Western issues more, just as a dominant Arab media covers Arab issues more just as a dominant Indian media covers Indian issues more. Why is that surprising? (To be honest, among the three, there is more diversity in the Western media.)

We have friends, family, comrades, lovers, who died in Paris. If we in the Europe mourn them, it does not mean we do not care about Lebanon. It is only because the Paris attacks were closer to the places we frequent, closer to the places our loved ones frequent; and humans as a species relate more to tragedies closer to home. This is what makes us human. To mock this requires a level of coldness which the ISIS share.

I can sympathize with the outrage that the Lebanese may feel at the media coverage in the West. Tamils who were active during 2009 can relate to this, how the Indian media, especially the lib-left ones, blacked out or twisted stories about Sri Lanka. But if we started asking the left “what about us” with respect to the Tamil case, there will be no end, and nothing fruitful in the end. We can challenge this media coverage with more dignity and without trying to exploit the other person’s guilt.

Yes, there are people who changed their profile pics to the French flag without any politics whatsoever, just as a stunt. But if these are fakes, I can say with confidence that the entire Indian “pro-palestinian” group is one big fake and the worst stunt pullers that I have met. These fakes do not represent the tragedy that either the Parisians face now or the Palestinians have faced for long.

Yes, Obama who is worrying about Paris but not Beirut is a hypocrite. So is Fidel Castro who accuses the US of creating ISIS but gave all diplomatic and political support to a state that resembles both in deed and ideology the Islamic State, the Sinhala-Buddhist regime of Sri Lanka. In fact, Sri Lanka is the perfect example of what the world will be if ISIS wins. And what coverage and solidarity did the Tamils get from the mainstream left? Imperialists will behave like imperialists will behave. They are brutal, hypocritical, cynical and manipulative. The sad part however is that the mainstream left is no different.

At some level, this also exposes the hypocrisy of certain ‘postcolonial’ activists – first you claim that you dont need attention from the West, next you scream if the West doesnt give you more attention. Just what and where is your politics exactly? To be honest, this “whataboutery” insults the victims more than the Western media people who you claim were ignorant to their plight.

Let us not undermine one person’s suffering in the name of highlighting another. Its like going to a house where a family has lost a loved one and making a statement that “Hey, this is sad, but you know in a road accident in New York in 1945, a whole family was wiped out.” There is nothing even mildly political about this.

Let us use this really grave moment to convey solidarity with the people who are standing up to racism and fundamentalism, be it in Paris, Lebanon, Tamil Eelam, Kurdistan, Baltimore, or Nigeria. But let us not do this “what about” games, especially with people who are our potential comrades, especially at such a time of crisis. The blood shed in Paris is the blood shed in Beirut is the blood shed in Jaffna is the blood shed in Diyarbakir. Praying for and showing solidarity with whatever is closest to you does not make you a racist. But trivializing the suffering of another makes you an absolute disgrace to humanity.

The Rise of the European Right Is a Wake-up Call for the European Left to Abandon Multiculturalism

Posted in International by Karthick RM on August 14, 2016

Originally published on Huffington Post

The astounding success of the Front National in the first round of France’s regional elections brought me no surprise. Though they didn’t win in the end, they have significantly increased their presence in France. The Right has been on an offensive insurgent mode in Europe for quite some time now. Quite strong Right-wing regimes rule Hungary and Poland. Anti-immigrant parties are on the rise in Denmark, Belgium and even in liberal Sweden. And at home, we have the UKIP that is steadily expanding its influence.

The success of the Right is not the validation of some inherently European racist tendencies as the politically correct would like to accuse, but rather the inevitable result of multiculturalism. The Right has capitalized where the Left has failed, weaving criticisms of practices of migrant communities into a strategically articulated discourse of xenophobia. The liberal-left, in its assumption that the best way to fight xenophobia is to treat the cultural practices of migrant communities as sacrosanct, has given ammunition to the Right’s discourse that immigrants will always remain alien to the European way of life.

Multiculturalism, and its dogma of uncritical tolerance of minority communities, has morally and politically undermined the Left and enabled the Right to project themselves as the defenders of Europe.

If in the era of colonialism the European liberal saw himself as the superhero responsible for saving all of humanity, in the era of multiculturalism, he sees himself as the supervillain responsible for all of humanity’s problems. To use a Freudian argument, the self-flagellating masochism of the European left-liberal is a form of a perverted narcissism. The left-liberal is secretly pleased at the ‘punishment’ being meted out to him by the exotic other, since he still remains the object of attention. This is why we could find so many apologetic rants in the wake of the Islamist terror attacks in Paris. “Yes, the attacks were bad, but we were the guilty ones.”

This sort of ridiculous posturing not only alienates the Left from the European masses, but also makes the vitriol of the Right more endearing. To be brutally honest, if I were a politically uneducated White working class person in a Parisian suburb, I would find the diabolical xenophobic frankness of the Front National more appealing than the sophistries of the liberal who expects me to bear responsibility for aggression committed against France.

If backward cultural practices of Muslim migrants are to be tolerated under the argument that they are integral to Islam, soon Hindu migrants too can make a claim, not without legitimacy, that practicing casteism is integral to being a Hindu. Indeed, Hindu lobby groups have opposed Britain’s attempts to criminalize the practice of casteism. There will be no limit to this, and the only politics that the Left will encounter from such groups is the politics of blackmail. As Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek rightly observed, “The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.”

We need to differentiate between defending the lives and democratic rights of migrants and minorities and serving as apologists for the bigotries and backwardness among them. In fact, the only way to effectively defend the democratic rights of migrants is by being unapologetically critical of backward cultural practices among their communities and extending full support to progressives from such communities. The failure of the Left to do so is the only success of multiculturalism, and this provides the best rhetorical weapon for the Right to denounce migrants en masse as a backward lot.

As an ‘immigrant’ who has been in this country for about four years now, I agree with the Prime Minister David Cameron that British values need to be defended. But what are the British values we are talking about? The utopian communism of Gerrard Winstanley, the secular Republicanism of Shakespeare and the romantic Jacobinism of PB Shelley are the real British values, and very much European values. To think that migrants need not subscribe to these and should stay in their own little closeted cultures is also a form of racism.

In the name of multiculturalism, we cannot allow an infantile liberal-Left deny and denigrate all that is radical and emancipatory about Europe. Because only the far-Right, which hates egalitarian European values as much as the Islamists, will be the eventual beneficiary of this.

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Je Suis Robespierre

Posted in International by Karthick RM on August 14, 2016

Originally published on The European Magazine

One should not be cynical here. The protests that followed the Charlie Hebdo massacre, that saw millions on the streets of Paris, were indeed genuine in their concern for Frenchlaïcité and the liberté that emerges from it. But this is not enough. This liberté cannot be sustained without the other two essential ingredients, égalité and fraternité. Which is why we need to revisit the ideas of the greatest European revolutionary whose birth anniversary fell earlier this month (no, Google Doodle did not honor him.)

Liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la mort

The slogan of the Jacobins under Maximillien Robespierre was liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la mort_. That is, there was a political will, almost a passion, to court death for the cause of liberty, equality and fraternity. This was the foundation for modern French laïcité. After the Thermidorian reaction, “_fraternité_” and “_ou la mort” was removed. And under Napoleon Bonaparte, it was reduced to liberté and ordre public – much like the present regime, which seems to want to balance liberty of speech and surveillance for public security. The radical universalism of the French Revolution, represented in its call for fraternité, was to be replaced.

In his speech “On the Trial of the King”, Robespierre said “We invoke forms, because we have no principles; we pride ourselves on our delicacy, because we lack energy; we flaunt a false humanity, because the feeling of true humanity is foreign to us”. We can extend this and say that we preach tolerance for particularities, because we have lost faith in universality; we submit to surveillance, because we do not dare to think beyond the system; we pick sides between majority and minority bigots, because we have lost the will to imagine a united fight against all bigotry.

Where should we stand now? In his last speech, Robespierre emphasizes “When reason is proscribed as a crime, tyranny reigns; when good citizens are condemned to silence, then obviously scoundrels must rule.” Here, both the state that persecutes individuals for treading on too controversial topics (like foreign misadventures) or the multiculturalist liberals who engage in censorship and self-censorship on topics that might be considered as offending minorities (like the Charlie Hebdo cartoons) obey the same perverse logic of criminalizing reason.

State Violence or Islamist Violence?

This again brings to the other problem, of violence. Here too, simple binaries operate. One is either an apologist for state violence, or one is an apologist for Islamist violence. Yes, one can argue that with all its flaws, the French state is far better than the Islamists that oppose it, that secular tyranny is any day preferable to religious tyranny. But this too betrays a lack of political imagination, the desire to create a new world order. It is probably only that vision, a revisiting of Robespierre, and a reinvented Jacobinism that can really safeguard French culture. If anything, the greatest threat to French culture comes not from immigrants, but rather from the general apathy of the French to their own radical past and its significance for the future.

Michel Houellebecq’s recent dystopian novel Soumission, unfairly accused of Islamophobia by some liberal critics, deals precisely with the costs of apathy and cynicism that pervades Western society and politics. Islamism is merely a metaphor in the novel for any dangerous and regressive ideology than can take over a nihilistic society with the promise of order and meaning.

Charlie Hebdo’s sacrifice served as a wake-up call for the values of laïcité and liberté. To defend and to take forward the “Je Suis Charlie” movement and to make it genuinely universal, we need to now say “Je Suis Robespierre”.

Ferguson: Taking the fight beyond identity politics

Posted in International by Karthick RM on April 13, 2015

Originally published on The European magazine

It has been reported that two police officers were shot at Ferguson on Thursday, hours after the city’s police chief resigned in the wake of an inquiry into the excesses that his department committed under his reign. This assault follows on the heels of another fatal attack on two NYPD police officers in December by a young Black man who claimed to be taking revenge for police brutalities in Ferguson and elsewhere. Ironically, the cops whom he murdered also happened to be “people of color”. Can these incidents, the general mood of public unrest in Ferguson, be read as acts of “divine violence”?

Disease of the old world order

Slavoj Zizek evokes Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” to defend this argument. Without condoning or condemning, he rightly observes that such outbursts “with no concrete programmatic demands” are sustained “by just a vague call for justice.” Indeed, Benjamin’s thesis is that “If mythical violence is lawmaking, divine violence is law-destroying”. But this is only a part of it. Benjamin further adds, “if the former sets boundaries, the latter boundlessly destroys them; if mythical violence brings at once guilt and retribution, divine power only expiates; if the former threatens, the latter strikes; if the former is bloody, the latter is lethal without spilling blood.” Did the reactive violence by the oppressed in Ferguson achieve, or even aim at any of this? Sadly, no. Why is this? The “irrational outbursts” such as Ferguson are not symptoms of a new world order – they are symptoms of the disease of the old world order.

The advocacy of indiscriminate violence to combat White racist power centers is nothing new. In the past, Black activists like Eldridge Cleaver advocated rape of White women as a form of resistance to White racism – though he later expressed regret for such ideas. Life came full circle when he eventually joined the Republican Party and became a Christian conservative. What does this say? The reality is that the American system is more than capable of defending itself against such violent excesses by its minorities. If anything, it would prefer the pampering of such particularist minority identity politics because the postmodern logic of global capitalism requires the proliferations of multiple minority identities. This impotent violence of particularist identity politics, fueled only by anti-Whiteressentiment, creates more boundaries and comes nowhere closer to destroying them, which alone would be the real act of divine violence. So the White racists who are phobic about the “brutal Blacks” and the multicultural left who, to overcome a misplaced sense of guilt, celebrate “Black resistance by any means necessary” are actually conforming to the logic of the same system.

Overcoming black separatism

Frantz Fanon was precisely talking about this when he wrote in his “Black Skin, White Masks” that those who adore the Black person are as pathological as those who hate him. His message is crucial – the practice of attributing an immutable identity to an exotic Other and preaching phobia against it, as the racists are wont to do, or preaching a patronizing tolerance for it, as multiculturalists are wont to do, damages the possibility of an universalist political project. In fact, more than Black nationalists in America, it was Martin Luther King Jr. who took this message to heart, when he argued it was necessary to overcome Black separatism and fight on a universalist plank for all the oppressed in the country.

Where does this place those on the radical left? Of course, we have to, without any hesitation, acknowledge that the police system in several parts of America is totally racist. But at the same time, we should not slip into the quite problematic multiculturalist position of endorsing everything that goes by the name of Black/minority identity politics. One can acknowledge that a section of the population has been systematically marginalized, convey solidarity with their struggles, while also remaining critical of reactionary cultural and political tendencies within those minority communities. We can learn a few lessons here from VI Lenin who, while being extremely sensitive to the precarious position of the Jews in Russia, was also boldly critical of isolationist Jewish Bundist politics. To make an excuse that reactionary politics of minority communities have to be tolerated just because “they are different from us” is after all another form of racism.

Defending the egalitarian aspects of Western society

What is needed is, as Zizek suggests elsewhere, a “radical emancipatory Third” that rejects both an identity politics based on anti-Western ressentiment and a shallow liberal multiculturalist tolerance. It is this Third alone that can defend the egalitarian aspects of Western society. This might take the form of a reinvented Jacobinism or a heretical Leninism, but the urgent need is to imagine such a politics of universalism, one that breaks boundaries, expiates both guilt and ressentiment, strikes potently, and is lethal even without spilling blood.

Only this force which the current system cannot accommodate and liberals cannot imagine can bring forth the real event of divine violence.

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Islamophilia Cannot Be an Effective Answer to Islamophobia

Posted in International by Karthick RM on December 24, 2014

Originally published on Huffington Post

The recent siege by an Islamist in Sydney has raised all too familiar debates about Islamophobia. The general right-wing argument, of course, is that such acts of terrorism are justified by a hard-core minority of Muslims and that downplaying the role of Islam is potentially harmful. On the other hand, the general liberal-left argument is that expecting all Muslims to condemn such acts is bigoted because a whole community cannot be held accountable for the actions of a few ‘deranged lunatics’.

Central to both arguments is an unstated belief that the Islamic identity is central to all Muslims, and while the former despises it, the latter preaches a patronising tolerance of the same. And both are wrong.

We have to look at Islamophobia as the tendency to blame Muslims as a whole, without any differentiation of nation, culture, class, gender, and political orientation for terrorist acts committed by Islamists.

Likewise, we have to look at Islamophilia as the tendency to exonerate Islam as an ideology from the crimes that are committed in its name, as the belief that the Muslim identity is good in itself and is central to an adherent of the faith.

Reality, if anything, shows the contrary. Proponents of the two sides are unlikely to remember that the first state to declare itself officially atheist in the world happened to be a predominantly ‘Muslim’ country – socialist Albania. Under Enver Hoxha, the state banned religion and religious preaching, shut down mosques, and tried to achieve gender parity in all services. In practice, the ‘Muslim’ Hoxha was the most rabid Islamophobe of the previous century. Incidentally, it was precisely those western governments – who are now accused of harbouring Islamophobia – who railed against Hoxha for curbing religious freedom for Muslims.

Several other examples could be given. The Indonesian Communist Party led insurgency, the Kurdish movement in the middle-east, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (Turkey), the Communist Party of Iran – all militantly secular movements led by ‘Muslims’ – have faced brutal repression from variants of Islamism. It would be a brutal illogic to say that the murder of thousands of individuals from these movements had nothing to do with the Islamic ideology that the states they challenged upheld.

Why is this important? Drawing parallels from other cases, can we say that the Inquisition’s slaughter of tens of thousands of heretics at the stake was just an act committed by a few ‘deranged lunatics’ and that the ideology of the Church had no role to play in it? Can we say that the discrimination against Dalits, the lowest castes in the Hindu hierarchy, owes to a few bad individuals and is not a structural problem in Hinduism? Can we say that war crimes perpetrated by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamils were just acts of bad soldiers and they can be divorced from the genocidal intent of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism?

Similarly, we cannot excuse the Islamic ideology from the terrorism and violence that is committed in its name. There is a lot in political Islam that justifies violence against non-Muslims, sexism and terroristic acts and those Muslims who have been fighting it for long have written the best testimonials. For liberals in the West to ignore this and to engage in downright immature acts, like wearing a hijab to convey solidarity with Muslim women, is tantamount to mocking those progressives in Muslim communities who resist the cultural diktats of political Islam.

A more critical approach to political Islam is needed. Commenting on the Rotherhamchild abuse scandal, which saw the sexual abuse of over a thousand white, mostly working class, children by men of Pakistani-Muslim origin, Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek argued that raising questions about inherent sexism and violence in these communities is neither racist nor Islamophobic. Rather, it is this questioning alone that can guarantee an authentic co-existence.

Liberals and leftists in the West are right to condemn the bigotry of the majority community, but the fundamentalism of the minority community cannot be spared from criticism. If those identifying as left and liberal fail to criticise the dangerous trends of Islamism, the right will step up for the task. That is a future no one wants and political correctness can do little to fight it. Maybe one can start by expressing critical solidarity with those progressive movements from within the Muslim communities that are willing to think beyond narrow religious identities and are willing to challenge the bigotries in Islamic ideology.

Excerpt from my review of Chomsky’s On Anarchism

Posted in International, Liberation Struggles, Politics by Karthick RM on December 8, 2014

Read full review at The Oxonian Review

Inspired by anarchist ideas, the Kurdish struggle in the Middle East led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliated groups is a particularly successful and spectacular movement. Though initially conceived as a Kurdish nationalist-cum-Marxist-Leninist movement, it evolved into a movement that seeks to transcend barriers of nations and states, and seeks instead to establish autonomous sovereign communes of peoples based on equitable distribution of resources, mutual recognition, and tolerance. The PKK-led Kurdish struggle, under the theoretical guidance of its founder-leader Abdullah Ocalan, is based on direct democracy and grassroots participation. It is of note here that Ocalan was greatly influenced by the ideas of the American anarchist Murray Bookchin. The latter’s idea of “libertarian municipalism”, the creation of local level democratic bodies as opposed to a centralised state apparatus, contributed to the development of Ocalan’s idea of “democratic confederalism” which forms the theoretical basis for the praxis of the PKK. Even though a critical situation like the one with which the Kurds are now faced—confronting ISIS—requires strict military discipline, the vanguard of the Kurdish struggle has not established a vertical decision-making process, choosing instead a more horizontal approach to cultivating cadres and leaders.

The effects of such an approach can be seen in the enthusiastic participation of Kurdish women in the struggle. Unlike most nationalist movements that symbolically use the bodies of women in the peak of a military campaign but send them “back to the kitchen” once the goals are achieved, the Kurdish struggle in Kobane involves women as an integral, organic part. Kurdish women in Kobane are the agents of their own liberation, and are as politically equipped at resisting chauvinism within their own communities as they are fierce in resisting the brutalities of ISIS. Few movements in the world have been able to rival the PKK when it comes to gender parity. And, while Chomsky himself has written little on the Kurdish struggle, it might actually be the best contemporary example to validate his own position on the moral superiority of anarchism.

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‘The Empire Of Liberty’: An Outsider’s Observations On American Exceptionalism

Posted in International, Politics by Karthick RM on October 12, 2013

Originally published on Countercurrents

In a telling scene in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, noticing his partner using excessive force to subdue a rioting mob, the masked vigilante Night Owl posits a question of conscience. “What happened to the American Dream?” To which the partner, The Comedian, a vicious vigilante with a particularly cynical view of the world, replies “It came true. You’re looking at it.”

Isn’t that what we are witnessing in the US of A today? A government that supports despots across the world, intervenes in conflicts often only to make them worse, pursues an economic policy that supports an oligarchy at the cost of other people and its own, while its rule at home is so fragile that it resorts to a shutdown over a tuff about a healthcare reform for its citizens?

Quite a few leftists would gleefully agree. The American Dream was just a facade for unbridled capitalism, an apology for an imperialist power and so on and so forth, they would argue. And this is not without truth. Yet, the American Dream is a lot more than that. In fact, it is a lot more than what is popularly perceived, i.e. America as a land of opportunity, individual progress, multiculturalism, liberal niceties and whatever.

The genealogy of the idea of the American Dream can be traced to the theory of American Exceptionalism, expounded by no less a person than Alexis de Tocqueville, a theory that contends that America of the New World is unique for the ideals that it holds. The radical emancipatory potential in the American Revolution was indeed unprecedented for its times – its universal appeal was such that Ho Chi Minh, an intransigent opponent of American imperialism if there was one, when reading out the Vietminh’s Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, quoted extensively from the American Declaration of Independence.

There are two things that make the July 4 Declaration absolutely fascinating. One is its categorization of the pursuit of happiness, by all standards an abstract ideal, as an inalienable right of man. It provides a moral imperative for the government to create conditions for one and all, irrespective of their particularities, to seek and achieve happiness as a universal standard. The other thing about the declaration – the more radical part – is its ethical imperative to the American people that should any government be destructive to these ends, “it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.” Isn’t this precisely the spirit operating the consciences of a Manning, a Snowden or an Assange?

Taking a realist diversion, the nuclear world does require a global guardian. And if there is to be one, I would prefer that it be a country that was founded on an ideal of a universal emancipatory logic than a country like, say, China, India or Russia that lack anything close to it. But the corresponding realist question is, as posed by the Roman satirist Juvenal ages ago, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Yes. America committed – and continues to commit – crimes that cannot be overwritten. Its history of persecution of indigenous peoples, of slavery, of support for the vilest murderers and mercenaries in Latin America and elsewhere, its disaster in Vietnam, its dubious foreign policy that sees ‘human rights violations’ at one place and a ‘war on terror’ at another dictated solely by geo-political interests. Yet, there have been American artists, intellectuals, writers, academics and just common citizens, who have vehemently opposed what the government claims to do in their name. It is they who have exposed to the world best that what the US does in the garb of promoting the Jeffersonian vision of ‘The Empire of Liberty’ is to facilitate plunder of the poorer nations by its military-business complex. Poignantly, it is such men and women of knowledge and conscience who represent the true Empire of Liberty. And it is sad, owing largely to America’s own actions that many left activists in the rest of the world do not associate American Exceptionalism with such people, or with the exceptional genius of a Poe, a Whitman, a Sinclair, or a Hemingway, but rather with the grotesque mediocrity that is Bushism.

America has the power to not just ameliorate the conditions of its own poor; it has the technology to positively intervene to do the same in rest of the world. A very simple example, the amount of money pumped into the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for creating new machines for wars that may never happen, could easily be invested in finding cure for tuberculosis, a killer that has consumed more lives in the past decade than any conflict in the same period. If only the will is there, the means are at America’s disposal. But will this happen in an America that refuses to provide free universal healthcare for its own citizens?

Others share my political consternation with America. Alex Pareene writing for Salon rightly said about America that “We are actually a very rich country with a lot of resources and the ability to do almost whatever we want”, but “we’re choosing to become a heavily armed failed state.” The Great American Tragedy then is that the ruling elite does not want to accept the responsibility of promoting an Empire of Liberty and live up to America’s Exceptionalism.

Though several of the actions of America can’t be defended, the idea of America, of its Exceptionalism, deserves to be. And it needs better leaders than what either the Democrats or the Republicans have been providing till now.

The redeemers of the Empire of Liberty are within America. And the eyes of the world are upon you.