Crime – the Privilege of the State

Whether the State is called monarchy or republic, crime will always be necessary to maintain and assure its triumph. This crime will no doubt change its direction and object, but its nature will remain the same. It will always be the forced and abiding violation of justice and of honesty – for the good of the State.  – Mikhail Bakunin

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In 1939, few days before initiating the invasion of Poland, Hitler gave a speech to his to military commanders where asked them “to kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children” and added “only this way can we obtain the living space we want.” He assured them that there will be no retribution and that they will enjoy complete impunity.  This month marks the seventy-seventh year of the invasion.

In 2010, the current National Security Adviser for the Modi administration, Ajit Doval gave a lecture in Hyderabad on Kashmir and described the Kashmir issue as ” the product of the ‘dysfunctional mindset’ of three parties: India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri separatists.” and strongly maintained that there is no “political” issue in Kashmir – a position which is shared by Dovish military and intelligence officials as well.

After presenting his distorted and fantastical analysis of Kashmir’s history and the ritualistic display of jingoism: “we are great fighters, we have a great religion …that teaches us self-sacrifice…”  he advised the then policy makers that: “Don’t overreact, don’t give in, don’t follow appeasement, it [2010 protests] will pass off. It looks big in the midst of it, they cannot sustain it beyond a point and even if they do there is a price that they have to pay.” And “In the game of power the ultimate justice lies with the one who is strong”.

The Doval doctrine has since been applied and the result has been 89 dead civilian, attack on hospitals and ambulances by armed forced, tens of thousands injured, hundreds permanently physically disabled and writers, activists arbitrarily arrested. The goal of this tactic is, as security officers tell us, to retake control over South Kashmir and its streets.

State violence = defense. A tautology.

The organs of state and its lapdogs – the media, tell us that the actions of Indian armed forces are of defensive nature, that they are keeping peace and the unruly protestors are disturbing the peace. The Germans invaded Poland to protect themselves from foreign aggression and to save Germans, just like every other acts of wholesale murder in human history been committed for some noble goal and to protect oneself from aggression of the enemy.

If one accepts this premise that the state has the right to put down revolts and protests, to gain control inside their national boundary by any means then, they are also accepting that Pakistan was justified in committing genocide within its national borders. But I do not believe there are many who will hold such a view. And if the people who attacked Uri Army headquarters and killed 18 individuals for political, strategic or economic advantages are terrorists then, the institution that has deliberately killed 89 people and injured hundreds, within last few months alone, for its ideological, economic and strategic advantages is also a terrorist institution.

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Hypocrisy And The Indian Media

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It doesn’t behove Indian Media and intellectuals to criticize Pakistan Police crushing Pro-Indian protest in POK, when hundreds have been killed in the past decade by Indian Army during similar Pro-Pakistani protests in Indian occupied territories. Most of the times, these incidents are not even mentioned in Indian media, such as ibnlive, India Today and Zee News.

These outlets rarely bat an eye about the mass graves and thousands missing and other thousands of Kashmiris in Indian Prisons without trials, if in deed, ever! And they think they have any moral right to talk about Pakistan’s human rights violations, when at the same time they support the regime that has never let UN investigation team enter India to find the truth about much more severe allegations against it.

This at the moment, which Ahmed Quraishi, Executive Director, YFK described last week during a press conference in Geneva is as: “We could wake up any morning and find our selves engulfed in a full-fledged nuclear war in South Asia – between Pakistan and India”.

Just a few days ago, reportedly thousands of teachers were arrested in my home town, Bhopal, for demanding Equal Pay For Equal Work, a condition protected under UN’s declaration of Universal Human Rights, while instead of condemning this human rights violations most news channels either did not mention it, or mentioned it in passing or argued why the teachers do not “deserve” equal pay. If anyone doesn’t “deserve” any thing today, it is the media outlets, pundits and intellectuals to criticize Pakistan regime for their crimes when it supports the crimes committed by it’s own government with zeal.

On Budget 2015-16

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The general attitude towards this year’s budget has been quite similar to that of over the past few years: corporate enthusiasts are excited, middle classes are uncertain and puzzled and rest of the population is apathetic to varying degrees.

The underlying conclusion of this year’s budget is that of maintaining and extending the austerity measures, but to the magnitude that makes UPA look almost anti-capitalist. It proposes to abolish wealth tax and targets to reduce corporate tax from 30 to 25 percentage and also reduce direct tax by Rs 8,315 cr and increase the burden on “general public” through indirect tax hike of Rs. 23,383 cr.

I agree with Mr. Sitaram Yechury when he claims, commenting on the exceptions of budget’s gross tax revenues: “Expectations of ‘tax buoyancy’ by the financial minster is, hence, pure imagination”. But we are talking about corporate capitalism, Mr Yechury, “pure imagination” and fictitious capital is its live-blood.

There will be reduction in grants and loans to the states. Food subsidies will be sluggish. Health and family welfare will come down from Rs. 35,163cr (last year) to 29,653cr. Housing and urban poverty alleviation figures have dropped from Rs 6,008cr to Rs 5,634cr.

All this while the subsidies, “tax incentive” to the rich are more than the actual fiscal deficit. It should be quite clear that the deficit burden, for the most part, is due to subsidies to the rich, not the poor. In short, socialism for corporations and free market and its risks for the rest of the population.

It is also important to note that, “Taxing corporations and the rich would have consequences too, but they would generate far fewer social costs and fall mostly on those best able to cope with them.” (). Isn’t it quite obvious and why are all the measures that are being taken are exactly the opposite? And why can’t we do better than capitalism? Demand discussion, debate and democratic (in actual sense of the word) decisions – instead of being trapped by the invisible handcuff of capitalism?

Response To Remarks On Anarchism By Narendra Modi

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In January, during a poll address, India’s Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, in reference to Mr Arvind Kejriwal said, “Have you ever seen a political leader calling himself an anarchist? If so, join the Naxals. Naxalism cannot be brought to Delhi. Delhi can’t be surrendered to anarchy”. I will be examining and responding to this from a Libertarian-Socialist perspective.

First problem with this remark seems to be that it does not provide us with any background what so ever about Anarchism. What it is and what Anarchists believe, and as matters relating to anarchism are quite deliberately driven out of mainstream culture, it is easy to mystify and distort its meaning. Also as we will see that anarchism has many variants and this attack does not even provide us any clue as to which school of thought within anarchism Mr Kejriwal associates himself with. And as I tried to find out for myself what type of anarchist Mr Kejriwal might be, I soon realized he never made that clear (in interviews). I confess I have not yet read his book ‘Swaraj’, which should be the basic text for understanding his philosophy. But I’ll nonetheless try to examine his anarchism on the basis that it derives from pseudo-anarchist theory and even more so superficial practices of Mohandas Gandhi, who himself derived it from the works of Christian-Anarchist Leo Tolstoy, Thoreau and Chinese and other anarchist movements that were taking place at the time. And also Pacifism which is not exclusive to any particular anarchist philosophy but varies in practice from person to person and situation to situation.

Mr Kejriwal is a member of a political party and an electoral candidate (and now the Chief Minister of Delhi). Anarchists are exclusively against parliamentary government as a form of action for social change (the only exception to this that I can remember are four anarchists who joined the Marxist party [PCE] and the central government during Spanish revolution in 1937). It should be understood that there are no doctrines within anarchism, therefore, Mr Kejriwal can very well be an anarchist and be an electoral candidate, which evidently seems to be the case. But I don’t see him supporting Trade Unions or utilizing any other form of anarchist methods. I therefore doubt him being an anarchist, at least not an Anarcho-Syndicalist. And as for his stance on capitalism and neo-liberal policies, they are not very clear as well. As anarchists are very critical of and hostile towards it, his clear views would have been helpful. Yesterday, while addressing his supporters after his victory in Delhi elections he proposed that “Rich and Poor in Delhi will develop together”. He does not even seem to be conscious of the class conflict. He also proposes “women empowerment” by first empowering highly authoritarian and centralized Police forces and increasing surveillance on general population. An anarchist would have rather preferred educating women and men on feminist and sex studies and providing women with means by which they can defend themselves, instead of making them dependent on police force. And more centralization of power and police control is counterproductive to any democracy and for anarchist any cause as well. Hence, it is very improper to portray what Mr Kejriwal is doing as anything “anarchist”.

Second and maybe the most important point in this post – Naxalites are NOT Anarchists. Naxalites are Maoist-Communist guerrilla , which is a fragment of Maoist Communism (movement), which in itself is very different and contradictory to any Libertarian Communist belief like Council Communism, of that of thinkers and activists, like Anton Pannekoek and Rosa Luxemburg. Anarchists oppose all sort of statist, authoritarian forms of Communisms like Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, even more severally than we oppose representative democracy, as the latter is comparatively freer and desirable than any of the totalitarian State-Capitalism that call themselves communisms. The only similarity one can draw from Anarchism and Naxalism is they both are anti-capitalist in nature and oppose the state, but the alternative which both favor and the means by which they chose to bring the change about are polar-opposites.

Where Naxalites employ the use of violence and terror on the state and on civilians to remove the free market with state control over economy and representative democracy with totalitarianism. Anarchist favor trade unionism, peasants and workers movement, creating alternative economies to replace state control with federations of freely associating communes and capitalism with gift economies, participatory economies, mutualist markets etc. The difference between Anarchism and Naxalism is much more stark than that between the state and naxalists as both favor violence when population goes against their will.

I think it will be appropriate to draw out some of the key points on which anarchist and all Marxist traditions diverge. Both traditions emerge out of Workers movements and Socialist movements of 18th century. And both were part of the First International (International Workingmen’s Association) in late 1800s, where Marx was a leading figure. But soon the differences in strategy and aims grew deeper, where Marxist suggested a vanguard party should be at the front of revolution of emancipating the workers (it’s worth remembering that it was Marx who said “only workers can emancipate themselves”, but well…), the anarchists suggested the state and capitalism can only be abolished at the same time as state is very capitalistic in nature and the power of the state is corrupting. As Bakunin said, “Take the most radical of revolutionaries and place him on the throne of all the Russia or give him dictatorial powers . . . and before the year is out he will be worse than the Czar himself.” And either the State must be destroyed or one must “reconcile oneself to the vilest and most dangerous lie of our century….Red Bureaucracy.”
Some anarchists withdrew from the International while some were kicked out. Bakunin’s prophecy of red bureaucracy came true. Spanish revolution (a popular and widespread anarchist revolution) was crushed by combined forces of Fascists, Communists and Liberal democracies. In Russia Anarchists were killed as the Bolsheviks took power. It is quite clear that Marxists and Anarchists are not the same, neither believes in actions.

So the remark,” Naxalism cannot be brought to Delhi. Delhi can’t be surrendered to anarchy” is very misleading and aims to distort and provide a very violent image of Anarchism, at the same time belittling its radical yet humanist roots by associating it with Mr Kejriwal. I can almost appreciate the ingenuity of this propaganda. But in an already hellish environment for activists and social critics in this country, where student movements and activists groups are harassed and violently assaulted on regular basis (see [1][2][3][4][5]), labeling Anarchists as Naxalists and hence bringing them directly under the radar of Operation Greenhunt is devastating and, to me personally, threatening.

My appeal here is not to Mr Modi or Mr Kejriwal, but to the citizens of this country. It is something to be proud of, I guess, about this country that mass consensus still has some effect in decision making (at least when it comes to matters of Supreme Court) but this force can as easily be used by the state, which I would argue is the case, to form consensus based on misinformation and distortions and invoking nationalism and patriotism to repress the part of the population which does not agree with it. It is very crucial that the population has a clear understanding of the topics when the state (and corporations), for its own interest, want to keep them delusional about them, topics like alternative politics and economic theories like anarchism. When quite literally lives of activists depends on it.

Libertarian-Socialist Rant

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Disclaimer: This article is not for folks who shout “No! NO! I don’t wanna believe!” whenever they see words like “class interests” or “socialism” or  “environment-is-not-an-externality-you-dumbass”. Or for folks who indulge themselves in business theories or neoclassical economics to understand the ‘nature’ of socioeconomic relations.

I wanna begin with PR and educational system (..again), but this time with an intention of igniting a metaphysical rebellion (..maybe). For those who landed on earth today, well you see, we have highly authoritarian institutes which dumb down the population by crushing elements of critical thinking and emphasizing on senseless competition within peers for grades or a pat on the head and by utilizing all the knowledge of behavioural sciences, they create obedient, confused, self-loathing individuals, and I hope you enjoy your stay here. Ok. Ok. Some sort of education does happen in midst of all this because the confused individuals are then required to push levers, create programs, build dams, all on direct order from the employer. And it is all very efficient I must say and important for the people in power, like Edward Bernays said,

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”

And the six basic functions of school outlined by Inglis. Other than education system of orthodox indoctrination there are also social, political and media apparatus to limit the discussion and keep public opinion in check.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” – Noam Chomsky

[Maybe some day I'll write an article without quoting either Orwell or Chomsky but today is not that day]

Alfie Kohn explains how to prevent social change:
1. Limit Your Vision – Ignoring that social structure or hierarchy has anything to do with drastic economic inequality or pollution or climate change or nuclear weapons or terrorism etc and instead believing that everything should be done on individual level.
2. Adapt – To keep the status quo intact, people should be adjusted to serve its needs. Instead of the other way round. The premise is, you should adjust to the conditions as you find without thinking about the nature of those structures.
3. Think About Yourself –  You should be only concerned about your well being, groom yourself and let the rest of the world go on its way.
4. Be ‘realistic’ – “Like it or not, that’s just the way it is”. These protestation of powerlessness are very useful, every person who takes such as stance is a person rescued from social activism. And labeling people ‘Idealistic” ensures they are not taken seriously.
5. Rationalize – Proposing insignificant reforms that never come close of changing the structures themselves.

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Similar to a modern day commodity these ideologies and actions are camouflaged by theological and metaphysical niceties and its presence reflects an invisible transcendence and hence you do not see the dictatorship in democracy. Illusions can be powerful, liberation can be painful, like Wachowski Brothers Matrix or like people from the Allegory of the Cave, “…most of these people are not ready to be unplugged, Neo” said Socrates.  Exploiting Dunning-Kruger effect, Herd behavior or any other heuristics or cognitive biases they ‘ll deceive you, and I am not just talking about the marketing people here, the guy who wants to sell you more toothpastes, but also the people who want to sell you the idea of a new politician, who when I think about it happens to be the same people.

Even when you have escaped the Evil Demon of Descartes in this sense, you may feel powerless because of the Alfie Kohn argument or you might in the face of the facts go on acting as if there is no matrix, that the interests of the bosses are similar to that of the workers, or the representative democracy could work we just need better rules etc etc etc. Like people, for example, who acknowledge global warming is real and harmful and needs to be stopped somehow but act as if there is no global warming because:
1. They do not see the effects of global warming as they step out of there houses directly.
2. They actually cannot do anything practically alone. They need to organize.

Why did I say representative democracy fails? Read this by Iain McKay.

So, Yes, Organize! Organize fellow citizens, don’t look up to the well-to-do upper classes for support or cues, even though they too need to fight against the oppressive institutes that torment the whole of humanity and the planet at large. But their short term interests blind them. Organize! Don’t expect charity that entertains the poverty, instead eradicate the systems that generates it. Organize! For a better, just, classless society. Organize for yourself! Organize for the globe!

Let Your Senses Act

So I thought the sequel to my previous post on my dear “doublethink” was never coming. But what could be a better time than to put it up right before the polls day. This nation, your nation, mine too; needs us. No matter how clichéd it may sound but it is an undeniable truth.

Tomorrow you would want to laze around and call your friends up to help you finish the stock of beers you have, wake up late or just not vote because it is difficult for you to decide whom to vote for. I can understand that, I am no different.

But hey, your casting the vote is the first step towards a better India. You sure do not want to entire politics, but atleast cast that damn vote so you don’t blame yourself.

But apart from that there are a few things you can do in order to revive this nation.

1. File RTIs. Many people think that RTIs are of no use, but it really is a way to get that extra information about the laws made and question the dilly-dally implementation of these laws. You can file RTI for a whole lot of things. Ever thought about filing an RTI about how much fuel goes into running these government vehicles?
We all must have heard some distant relative say, government jobs are the best. We get so many advantages. They brag about their brother’s daughter or son being an IAS, IPS officer. Excuse me if I am wrong, very few stick to their business and most of them are corrupt. It is shameful that when people talk about government jobs which are about being public servants or working for proper administration (or may be it never was) it is instead about the extra benefits, travel incentives, extra holidays, compensatory holidays and medical benefits.
A normal Indian, service class person pays taxes every year without fail, the taxes which have been increasing with every financial budget since almost six years and has even taken place in my online shopping, are spent to provide benefits to these public servants so they can render their duties with full dedication. In return, what does a common man get, being forced to bribe the babu in government offices so he does his work in time. I am sorry to say, but here I don’t see that bribe being a failure on part of the common man, but a failure of the Indian Administrative System… or say any Indian System altogether, now blame me for generalizing and talking about the typical Indian system, I do not care. It is a fact no one can change. So think about these little issues, knock the authorities down with multiple RTIs to know more. You can stalk that girl and get her number from everywhere, think about stalking the government and you might just get to know things you could have never even imagined.
You could however also get to know about the good things which have been done, perhaps some increase in the literacy rate in an area due to proper implementation of the education reform, spread that and let people know who, which party indulges for real in substantive reforms and public welfare.

2. Form communities and file cases. Very recently the Supreme Court has dismissed a PIL with asked for post poll alliances being banned. It said that the courts couldn’t restrict parties to not form alliances with some other parties to form a government. I personally thought that the PIL made sense.
If people who share the same views regarding the development of the nation, they must set platform and brainstorm about the possible glitches in the system and find out possible direction to the correction.
Think about it, in this ‘secular’ nation, we form communities for our religion and propagate it because our constitution gives us the leverage to do so, but have we ever thought about forming groups which help increase development. The day we liberate ourselves of these minor differences, then can we think about greater meaning of words like developments.
So form communities, irrespective of whatever differences you can possibly think- divide you and the other person, for when you come together for real as a power, then only will these politicians take us seriously.
Think about it, this nation has over a thousand registered political parties, all approved by the Election Commission. It is rather funny that this commission, which can give parties the license to contest election cannot dismantle parties. So a party can get 10% votes once and manage staying in politics, for FOREVER. Ever thought, how such a big pool be checked?

3. Now that you have found out issues in the system and made communities of the intellectuals, the nation lovers and the informed, you need to file PILs. Public Interest Litigations could be a boon to the Indian systems. It is the only way I know, that a citizen of this nation can raise his voice for the correction of the ill practices which have slowly crept in and now exist and defining the system for all the bad reasons.

I apologize if I sound all preachy. I know all of us are too busy with our lives, but what is the use of living a life, which is not worth living. We slog ourselves hard from when in school to get good grades, to get the stream we wish for, to study in the top most college, till we retire all to have a good retired life. How will you feel if someone told you that you wasted it for being a narcissist?

Rise above and let your senses act.
Happy reading.

We Are Fools

India is the most populated democracy and the sad truth is that this population has no value. We all are mere ‘LOTAS’ (a utensil with a round base). We run in herds and our top floors stop working. We are conformists.

Indian population still thinks highly in terms of caste and religion. I don’t know if it’s just sad or devastating instead. Some time back, I was watching the Big Fight on NDTV. One of the panelists, a Journalist herself, said in her rounding up statement based on her research that “We vote for our caste.”

Why is it that the person standing for a seat does not matter to us? Why is it that we don’t go about inspecting the background of these candidates? Why is it that we don’t understand the politics these parties try to play? Or are we just helpless because all of these people (well mostly) are the same, and we try to choose a better option from amongst the worst…?

Today they claim to be our well wishers and tomorrow come out barking and biting at us as if they have all the power… even though in a democracy rightly people must be the wielders of the power. These so called well wishers then, come in the position they contest for and forget they are our servants- PUBLIC SERVANTS- and not some minister only.

With all of these things running in my mind these days, the only thing which comes clearly as a conclusion is that we have been reduced to mere votes and the individuality, humanity and the concern for development from the grassroots has gone to dogs (literally). Ask a young person about politics and the most obvious answer you will get is “Its shit!”

Indian voters are caught between the devil and the deep sea. If we don’t vote, we don’t exercise our right and thus don’t have the right to vent out anger about the government that comes in the position and if we do, we don’t know, who to choose?

The biggest scam in these general elections is the new entry on the board, NOTA. This “none of the above” option, as I know, seems to be the choice of many young voters. But here’s an advice, I might sound all stupid, but if you are considering NOTA, then you are caught in a trap.

You will go and press NOTA and think you have exercised your right, but here’s the catch, your vote is still wasted- or say Indian systems are wasted. If most people go for NOTA, even then, the party which gets the maximum votes of people, shall form the government; minority rule.

So minority is okay, but deceiving people is definitely not. What sense NOTA makes, when the Election Commission cannot announce re-election if most people opt for NOTA? Its rather a trap for the literate classes (ahem ahem), they will think they have cast their vote, but it will remain as useless.

So lets imagine, someone gets frustrated of all of this and decides, hello! I must stand against it. So he does. He forms a party. He comes in power, because people seem to ‘vote for change.’ Then these age-old parties full of almost dead people and thugs and goons, start to harp on that new person like vultures.

They call him politically inexperienced. And I find that amusing. Extremely amusing. Yes AMUSING! I mean the poor guy tries to stand against the ill in the system, you smash him down the seat and call him inexperienced in every move he makes. He has got to be inexperienced because he has come there for the first time and experience comes when you let people work their way out. Everyone’s not lucky to have the points for being the part of national movement or when some party started the two party system here in India for the first time…was new too. And this was the path they tread as well.

Yes he is politically inexperienced. Because he did not buy people’s votes with tablets, laptops and cash, because he did not use the tool of caste and religion, because he did not loot people to come in news because he wanted to gain publicity for his might for standing for elections… instead people saw in him which all these politician have drained themselves off and have a tainted image now from the legacy of being in politics.

But its not their fault. Its OUR fault. We vote for these people and when they come in positions, we treat them like our masters and be their slaves… we must instead make them realize that they are our servants and meant to work for us and not boss around.

Its rather sad that India has never had a revolution I feel. The condition of this country is regressing day by day and we just slog harder by day to earn our bread and confine to our bread earning. Its sad that the young blood boils and resides momentarily. On one hand I see people of my age protesting on India Gate and facing water cannons for the brutal rape of some girl they don’t know and on the other hand they choose the comfortable option of criticising what’s going and returning back to our business.

We all love power. But somewhere, deep down we all also think how power to every individual divided equally would make this country a better place. Lofty words, I know, but lets not let this die. Its high time, we did something.

The next post, I shall tell you what you can do 😉

Happy Reading.