With capitalism facing its worse crisis after 1929, the imperialists powers are gathering in Germany to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. As like always, history has different meanings for the elites and imperialists and the people. The imperialists hailed it has the triumph of democracy and freedom, the fall of iron curtain. It shook the intellectuals and thesis like “end of history” and “clash of civilizations” emerged with deadly consequences. The people of Pakistan were affected by fall of Berlin wall and even today are paying the price. The ruling elite of Pakistan with help of CIA created religious fascist monsters to fight Jihad against communism. The Jihad which has eroded the society and state completely. The pieces of Berlin Wall were sent has gifts to the most “reactionary of anti-communists” of Pakistan the ones who created the Mujahideen and the Taliban. I saw one of them on TV an ex ISI officer who was telling tales of how he helped Taliban . He was all praises for Taliban, he told that he received a portion of “Berlin wall” as gift. After the fall of Berlin wall the first gifts of freedom we got were worse war and genocide in history of Europe after Holocaust in Bosnia. The forces of hate which socialism had controlled spilled over and once again the international community failed to stop a genocide. Next gift of freedom we got was the rise of most heinous of  barbarism since the mongols in form of Islamic fascism which threats the very foundations of civilization. All these monsters from Taliban  to Hamas were created by USA and Europe through their allies the military dictators and Mullahs in muslim world to check the rising Left wing forces. These thugs who were used to kill left wing intellectuals and leaders on orders of west are now playing havoc with civilization. No one will remember these gifts of the fall of Berlin wall in Germany today but lets me warn them through words of Derrida, the most influential European philosopher since Hegel, that these cheers of victory are meaningless!

“For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelise in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realised itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth” Specters of Marx , Derrida

With these conditions Specters of Marx are haunting this globe !!!

Shaheryar Ali

The fall of the Berlin Wall: 20 years later

Written by Alan Woods Monday, 09 November 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

Twenty years ago as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down the bourgeoisie in the west was euphoric, rejoicing at the “fall of communism”. Twenty years later things look very different as capitalism has entered its most severe crisis since 1929. Now a majority in former East Germany votes for the left and harks back to what was positive about the planned economy. After rejecting Stalinism, they have now had a taste of capitalism, and the conclusion drawn is that socialism is better than capitalism.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”.The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”.The year 2009 is a year of many anniversaries, including the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, the founding of the Communist International and the Asturian Commune. None of these anniversaries find any echo in the capitalist press. But there is one anniversary they will not forget: On the 9th of November, 1989, the Border separating Western from Eastern Germany was effectively opened.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has passed into history as a synonym for the collapse of “Communism”. In the last 20 years since those momentous events, we have witnessed an unprecedented ideological offensive against the ideas of Marxism on a world scale. This is held up as decisive proof of the death of Communism, Socialism and Marxism. Not long ago, it was even presented as the end of history. But since then the wheel of history has turned several times.

The argument that henceforth the capitalist system was the only alternative for humanity has been exposed as hollow. The truth is very different. On the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of Stalinism, capitalism finds itself in its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. Millions are faced with a future of unemployment, poverty, cuts and austerity.

This vicious anti-Communist campaign is being intensified during this period. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. The worldwide crisis of capitalism is giving rise to a general questioning of the “market economy”. There is a revival of interest in Marxist ideas, which is alarming the bourgeoisie. The new campaign of slanders is a reflection of fear.

Caricature of socialism

Anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Klaus Franke with permission from Bundesarchiv.Anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Klaus Franke with permission from Bundesarchiv.

What failed in Russia and Eastern Europe was not communism or socialism, in any sense that this was understood by Marx or Lenin, but a bureaucratic and totalitarian caricature. Lenin explained that the movement towards socialism requires the democratic control of industry, society and the state by the proletariat. Genuine socialism is incompatible with the rule of a privileged bureaucratic elite, which will inevitably be accompanied by colossal corruption, nepotism, waste, mismanagement and chaos.

The nationalised planned economies in the USSR and Eastern Europe achieved astonishing results in the fields of industry, science, health and education. But, as Trotsky predicted as early as 1936, the bureaucratic regime ultimately undermined the nationalised planned economy and prepared the way for its collapse and the return of capitalism.

In the 1980s, the USSR had more scientists than the USA, Japan, Britain and Germany combined, and yet was unable to achieve the same results as the West. In the vital fields of productivity and living standards the Soviet Union lagged behind the West. The main reason was the colossal burden imposed on the Soviet economy by the bureaucracy – the millions of greedy and corrupt officials that were running the Soviet Union without any control on the part of the working class.

The suffocating rule of the bureaucracy eventually led to a sharp fall in the rate of growth in the USSR. As a result, the Soviet Union was falling behind the West. The costs of maintaining high levels of military expenditure and the costs of maintaining its grip on Eastern Europe imposed further strains on the Soviet economy. The emergence of a new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 signalled a major turn in the situation.

Gorbachev represented that wing of the Soviet bureaucracy that stood for reform from the top in order to preserve the regime as a whole. However, the situation deteriorated further under Gorbachev. This inevitably led to a crisis, which had an immediate effect in Eastern Europe, where the crisis of Stalinism was exacerbated by the national question.

Ferment in Eastern Europe

Mass protests in Poland in August 1984.Mass protests in Poland in August 1984.

In 1989, from one capital to another, a tidal wave of revolt spread, overthrowing one by one the Stalinist regimes. In Romania, Ceausescu was overthrown by a revolution and sent to a firing squad. A key factor in the success of the popular uprisings was the crisis in Russia. In the past Moscow had sent the Red Army to crush uprising in East Germany (1953), in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). But Gorbachev understood that this option was no longer possible.

The mass strikes in Poland in the first part of the 1980s were an early expression of the impasse of the regime. If this magnificent movement had been led by genuine Marxists, it could have prepared the ground for a political revolution, not only in Poland but throughout Eastern Europe. But in the absence of such a leadership, the movement was derailed by counterrevolutionary elements like Lech Walesa.

Election poster of Solidarity featuring Gary Cooper as an American cowboy urging a vote for the party/union.Election poster of Solidarity featuring Gary Cooper as an American cowboy urging a vote for the party/union.

At first, the Polish Stalinists tried to hold the movement down through repression, but in the end Solidarity had to be legalized and allowed to participate in parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989. What followed was a political earthquake. Solidarity candidates captured all the seats they were allowed to contest. This had a profound effect in the neighbouring countries.

In Hungary Janos Kadar – in anticipation of what was to come ‑ had already been removed as General Secretary of the Communist Party the previous year in 1988 and the regime had adopted a “democracy package”, including elections. Czechoslovakia was very soon also affected and by November 20, 1989 the number of protesters assembled in Prague went from 200,000 the previous day to half-million. A two-hour general strike was held on November 27.

These dramatic events marked a major turning-point in history. For almost half a century after World War II the Stalinists had ruled Eastern Europe with an iron hand. These were monstrous one-Party states, backed by a powerful apparatus of repression, with army, police and secret police, and informers in every block of flats, school, college or factory workshop. It seemed almost impossible that popular uprisings could ever succeed against the power of a totalitarian state and its secret police. But in the moment of truth these apparently invincible regimes were shown to be giants with feet of clay.

East Germany

Of all the regimes of Eastern Europe, the German Democratic Republic was one of the most industrially and technologically advanced. The standard of life, although not as high as in West Germany, was good. There was full employment, and everyone had access to cheap housing, free medicine and education of a high standard.

Gorbachev visiting Erich Honecker in 1987. Photo by Peter Koard with permission from Bundersarchiv.Gorbachev visiting Erich Honecker in 1987. Photo by Peter Koard with permission from Bundersarchiv.

However, the rule of a totalitarian one-Party state, with its ever-present secret police (the notorious Stasi) with its army of informers, the corruption of the officials, and the privileges of the elite, were a source of discontent. Before the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, about 2.5 million East Germans had emigrated to West Germany, many over the border between East and West Berlin. In order to halt this haemorrhage, the regime had the Berlin Wall built.

The Wall and other fortifications along the 860-mile (1,380-kilometre) border shared by East and West Germany succeeded in stemming the exodus. This action probably helped to boost economic growth in the GDR. But it caused suffering and hardship for the families that were divided and it was a propaganda gift to the West, which presented it as yet another example of “Communist tyranny”.

By the end of the 1980s the situation in the GDR was explosive. The old Stalinist Erich Honecker was implacably opposed to reform. His regime even prohibited the circulation of “subversive” publications from the Soviet Union. On 6 October and 7 October, Gorbachev visited East Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic, and he put pressure on the East German leadership to accept reform. He is quoted as saying: “Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben” (He who is too late is punished by life).

By now the East German people had become openly rebellious. Opposition movements began to sprout up like mushrooms. These included the Neues Forum (New Forum), Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Awakening), and Demokratie Jetzt (Democracy Now). The largest opposition movement was created through a Protestant church service at Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche, German for Church of Saint Nicholas, where each Monday after service citizens gather outside demanding change in East Germany. However, these movements were confused and politically naïve.

A Monday demonstration in Lepzig in January 1990. Photo by Zumpe.A Monday demonstration in Lepzig in January 1990. Photo by Zumpe.

A wave of mass demonstrations now swept through East German cities, acquiring particular strength in Leipzig. Hundreds of thousands of people joined these demonstrations. The regime entered into crisis that led to the removal of the hard-line Stalinist leader, Erich Honecker, and the resignation of the entire cabinet. Under the pressure of the mass movement, the new Party leader, Egon Krenz, called for democratic elections. But the reforms proposed by the regime were too little and too late.

The “Communist” leaders considered using force but changed their mind (with a little prodding from Gorbachev). Events were now spinning out of control. In the following days, one could almost speak of anarchy: Shops stayed open all hours, a GDR passport served as a free ticket for public transport. In the words of one observer: “in general there were more exceptions than rules in those days”. Power was lying in the street, but there was nobody to pick it up.

Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. On November 9, 1989, after several weeks of mass unrest, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. This was the signal for a new eruption of the masses. Spontaneously, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side.

Counterrevolution

Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. Photo by Songkran.Faced with a mass revolt, the seemingly all-powerful East German state collapsed like a house of cards. Photo by Songkran.

The Berlin Wall was a symbol and a focal point for all that was hated about the East German regime. The demolition of the Wall began quite spontaneously. Over the next few weeks, parts of the Wall were chipped away. Later on industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest. There was a celebratory atmosphere, a mood of euphoria, more like a carnival than a revolution. But that is true of the early stages of every great revolution, beginning with 1789.

In November of 1989, the population of the GDR was overwhelmed by emotional moods – a sense of liberation, accomplished by a general feeling of elation. It was as if a whole nation was experiencing a general inebriation, and therefore was open to suggestions and sudden impulses. Overthrowing the old regime proved far easier than anyone had dared imagine. But, once having overthrown it, what was to be put in its place? The masses that had brought about the overthrow of the old regime, knew very well what they did not want, but did not have quite clear what they wanted, and nobody was offering a way out.

All the objective conditions for a political revolution were now given. The great majority of the population did not want the restoration of capitalism. They wanted socialism, but with democratic rights, without the Stasi, without corrupt bureaucrats and without a dictatorial one-party state. If a genuine Marxist leadership had existed, this could have led to a political revolution and the establishment of a workers’ democracy.

Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Photo by ssgt F. Lee Corkran Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Photo by ssgt F. Lee Corkran

However, the fall of the Berlin Wall did not result in a political revolution but counterrevolution in the form of unification with West Germany. This demand did not feature prominently at the beginning of the demonstrations. But given the absence of a clear programme on the part of the leadership, it was introduced and gradually came to occupy a central role.

Most of the leaders of the opposition had no clear programme, policy or perspective, beyond a vague desire for democracy and civil rights. Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. The presence of a powerful and prosperous capitalist state next door therefore played a determining role in filling the vacuum.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was an aggressive representative of imperialism. He used the most shameless bribery to persuade the East German people to agree to immediate unification, offering to exchange their Ostmarks for Deutschmarks on a one-to-one basis. But what Kohl did not tell the people of East Germany was that unification would not mean that they would have West German living standards.

In July 1990, the final obstacle to German unification was removed when Gorbachev agreed to drop Soviet objections to a reunited Germany within NATO in return for substantial German economic aid to the Soviet Union. Unification was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

The masses deceived

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab in 1990.West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab in 1990.

The people of the GDR had been deceived. They were not told that the introduction of a market economy would mean mass unemployment, factory closures and the virtual destruction of large parts of the industrial base of the GDR, or a general rise in prices, and the demoralization of a section of the youth, or that they would be looked down upon as second-class citizens in their own country. They were not told these things but they have found them out through bitter experience.

Reunification precipitated a disastrous collapse in real Eastern German GDP, with falls of 15.6 per cent in 1990 and 22.7 per cent in 1991 cumulating to a one third decline. Millions of jobs were lost. Many eastern factories were bought by western competitors and shut down. From 1992, East Germany experienced four years of recovery, but this was followed by stagnation.

Before the Second World War, East German GDP per capita was slightly above the German average, and both at that time and in the GDR, East Germany was richer than other eastern European countries. But 20 years after unification, living standards in East Germany still lag behind the West. Unemployment is double western levels, and wages are significantly lower.

In the GDR unemployment was practically unknown. But employment declined by 3.3 million people from 1989-1992. East German real GDP has barely risen above its 1989 level, and employment languishes at 60 per cent of its 1989 level. Currently, unemployment in Germany as a whole is about 8%, but the figure for East Germany is 12.3%. However, some unofficial estimates put it as high as 20%, and amongst the youth even 50%.

Women, who achieved a high degree of equality in the GDR, as in other countries of East Europe, have suffered most. The German Socio-Economic Panel data for the mid-1990s indicate that 15 per cent of the eastern female population and ten per cent of the male population were unemployed.

In July 1990 the “chancellor of unity”, Helmut Kohl, promised: “In a joint effort we will soon turn [the East German regions] Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia into flourishing landscapes.” Fifteen years later, a BBC report admitted that “the statistics are bleak” Despite the capital injection of an estimated 1.25 trillion euro (£843bn, $1,550bn), the East’s unemployment rate was still 18.6% in 2005 (before the present recession) and in many regions it is more than 25%.

Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, once an important centre for the chemical industry with more than 315,000 people, has lost nearly a fifth of its citizens. Before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the “chemical triangle” Leuna-Halle-Bitterfeld gave employment to 100,000 people ‑ now 10,000 jobs remain. Gera once had large textiles and defence industries, and some uranium mining. They have gone, and much the same happened in most other state-owned industries since 1989.

Eastern GDP per capita improved from 49 per cent of the western level in 1991 to 66 per cent in 1995, since which time convergence has ceased to advance. The economy was growing by about 5.5% a year, but was not creating many new jobs. As a result the East is emptying. Since unification some 1.4 million people have moved to the West, most of them young and well-educated. Emigration and a steep fall in fertility have caused the eastern population to decline each year since unification.

It is a supreme irony of history that 20 years after reunification, people are leaving East Germany, not to flee from the Stasi, but to escape unemployment. Of course, some have done well. The BBC report says: “Grand bourgeois houses, many riddled with World War II bullet holes until 1989, have been restored to their old glory.”

Marxism revives

Like many other East Germans, Ralf Wulff said he was delighted about the fall of the Berlin Wall and to see capitalism replace communism. But the euphoria did not last long. “It took just a few weeks to realize what the free market economy was all about,” said Wulff. “It’s rampant materialism and exploitation. Human beings get lost. We didn’t have the material comforts but communism still had a lot going for it.” (Reuters report)

Hans-Juergen Schneider, a 49-year-old trained engineer has been unemployed since January 2004. He has sent out 286 job applications since then, without success. “The market economy can’t solve our problems,” he says, “big business is just grabbing the profits without accepting any responsibility.” He is not alone. A poll by Der Spiegel stated that 73% of East Germans believe that Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism is still valid.

Another poll published in October 2008 in the magazine Super Illus stated that 52% of people in Eastern Germany think that the market economy is “inept” and “rundown”. 43% would prefer a socialist economic system, because “it protects the small people from financial crises and other injustices”. 55% rejected banking bailouts by the state.

Of young people (18 to 29 years), who never lived in the GDR, or did so only briefly, 51% want socialism. The figure for people 30 to 49 years old is 35%. But for those over 50 years it is 46%. These findings are confirmed in interviews with dozens of ordinary easterners. “We read about the ‘horrors of capitalism’ in school. They really got that right. Karl Marx was spot on,” said Thomas Pivitt, a 46-year-old IT worker from East Berlin. Das Kapital was a best-seller for publisher Karl-Dietz-Verlag, selling over 1,500 copies in 2008, triple the number sold in all of 2007 and a 100-fold increase since 1990.

“Everyone thought there would never ever again be any demand for ‘Das Kapital’,” managing director Joern Schuetrumpf told Reuters. “Even bankers and managers are now reading Das Kapital to try to understand what they’ve been doing to us. Marx is definitely ‘in’ right now,” he said.

The crisis of capitalism has convinced many Germans, both East and West, that the system has failed. “I thought communism was shit but capitalism is even worse,” said Hermann Haibel, a 76-year old retired blacksmith. “The free market is brutal. The capitalist wants to squeeze out more, more, more,” he said. “I had a pretty good life before the Wall fell,” he added. “No one worried about money because money didn’t really matter. You had a job even if you didn’t want one. The communist idea wasn’t all that bad.”

“I don’t think capitalism is the right system for us,” said Monika Weber, a 46-year-old city clerk. “The distribution of wealth is unfair. We’re seeing that now. The little people like me are going to have to pay for this financial mess with higher taxes because of greedy bankers.”

Even more significant than opinion polls were the results of the recent German elections. The Left Party registered a significant advance, getting almost 30% of the vote in the East. In the East there is now no majority for the bourgeois parties. What this shows clearly is that the people of East Germany do not want capitalism but socialism – not the bureaucratic totalitarian caricature of socialism that they had before, but genuine democratic socialism – the socialism of Marx, Engels, Liebknecht and Luxemburg.

London, October 19, 2009

Muslim creationist, cult leader, Dawkins’ nemesis, messiah. Halil Arda tracks down the real Harun Yahya

With thanks: JZ [a friend, reader and contributor]

Inspired by the high profile of its Christian American counterpart, Muslim creationism is becoming increasingly visible and confident. On scores of websites and in dozens of books with titles like The Evolution Deceit and The Dark Face of Darwinism, a new and well-funded version of evolution-denialism, carefully calibrated to exploit the current fashion for religiously inspired attacks on scientific orthodoxy and “militant” atheism, seems to have found its voice. In a recent interview with The Times Richard Dawkins himself recognises the impact of this new phenomenon: “There has been a sharp upturn in hostility to teaching evolution in the classroom and it’s mostly coming from Islamic students.”
The patron saint of this new movement, the ubiquitous “expert” cited and referenced by those eager to demonstrate the superiority of “Koranic science” over “the evolution lie”, is the larger-than-life figure of Harun Yahya.
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Operating from Istanbul, Yahya is the founder of the Science Research Foundation, an impressive publishing empire that boasts more than 60 websites dedicated to his writings. It provides documentary films and audio recordings in fifteen languages, including Turkish, English, Russian, Amharic and Arabic, and claims to sell more than half a million books a year, including the infamous 850-page, fully illustrated Atlas of Creation, which was sent free in two volumes to dozens of universities, libraries and prominent scientists (including Richard Dawkins) across the world. In painstaking detail, with a mass of photos, graphs and statistics interspersed with verses from the Koran, the Atlas purports to prove that Darwin was utterly mistaken, that each plant and animal was created intact, and that no modification through natural selection ever took place.
Yahya has publicly offered a lucrative prize for anyone who can produce a “transitional fossil” – the lack of which he claims proves evolution to be false. When Dawkins publicly lampooned the research in the Atlas of Creation (he pointed out that one of the photos of a Caddis Fly was in fact a fishing fly, complete with metal hook, stolen from the internet, pictured)Fishing Fly used by Okatr in Atlas of Creation, and labelled Yahya a charlatan on his website, Yahya used his considerable influence and battalion of lawyers to sue for libel and have Dawkins’s website banned in Turkey. This is just one of thousands of cases he has brought before the Turkish courts.
Despite the shoddiness of his science Yahya has found a ready audience among those looking for scientific justification for their rejection of the West. Over the past decades he has served as an adviser to several Turkish politicians, and received endorsements from across the Arab world including Saudi Arabia and Dubai, where his stalls feature prominently at book fairs. He has also proved a fascinating subject for the Western media, offering all-expenses-paid flights to Istanbul to any journalist wishing to interview him, and making himself available for radio interview whenever required. In recent years he has been interviewed by the Irish Times, by American National Public Radio, by Gordon Liddy on Radio America, by the American science magazine Seed and even by The Skeptic magazine.
While coverage in the West tends to treat Yahya’s scientific claims with derision (though all are still posted on his website as evidence of his growing influence), he is treated far more seriously across the Muslim world. From daily newspapers in Egypt and Bosnia to influential satellite TV stations like al-Jazeera and (the Iran-funded) Press TV, to small Muslim broadcasters in the West like Radio Ummah and Radio Ramadan, Harun Yahya’s argument, with its appearance of scientific credibility, its crowd-pleasing critique of Western materialism and its promise of the imminent collapse of the “Darwinist Dictatorship”, is enthusiastically welcomed by a new audience hungry for compensatory narratives of Islamic superiority. As the American journalist Nathan Schneider argued, to judge Yahya’s message on its scientific content alone misses the point: “its power, for those who are not scientifically literate, lies in its vision of redemption.”
As well as being confidante to Islamist radicals, Yahya has received endorsements from conservative congressmen in the US for his strong stance against Islamic terrorism, is feted by extreme orthodox Sanhedrin Rabbis in Israel for his anti-atheism, and has ambitions to create a Turkish-Islamic union, a new Ottoman Empire girdling the world from Eastern Russia to Western Nigeria, which would unify the Islamic world under Turkish leadership.
But how many of those who enthusiastically swallow Yahya’s message are aware that he is a diagnosed schizophrenic who, in 2008, was convicted of running a criminal organisation? If his final appeal before Turkey’s Supreme Court fails, he faces up to three years in prison.
Martin Rowson's illustration of Adnan Oktar and his gang
How did such a man acquire the standing, and the financial resources, to be a player in global debates about the origins of life and the future of relations between Islam and the West? To answer this I have travelled repeatedly to Istanbul over the last few months (at my own expense), contacting sources and speaking to former members of his group, to journalists and political commentators who have followed his bizarre career and to legal experts who have defended individuals targeted by Yahya’s organisations. Many of my interviewees spoke on condition of anonymity, out of fear of the barrage of court cases his defectors and critics have been facing in recent years, described by one of his former acolytes as a campaign of “legal terror”.
As I arrive in Istanbul in July 2009 I am told that while he awaits the outcome of his final appeal Yahya can be spotted visiting Istanbul’s high-end shopping malls Kanyon and Istinye Park, accompanied by an entourage of men and women dressed in expensive, identical, designer clothes, their eyes concealed behind sunglasses. In his trademark garb – well-groomed beard, white linen suit and designer shades – he cuts the figure of a man of authority and influence, a man confident in his own importance. But is anything about him what it seems?
Certainly not the name Harun Yahya, which is a pseudonym used mainly for his operations in the English-speaking world. His real name is Adnan Oktar though in Turkey he is also known as Adnan Hodja (Preacher Adnan) and, to his followers, he is Adnan Agabey (Big Brother Adnan). Born in Ankara in 1956, by the late 1970s he was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, where he studied interior design. During this time he fell under the influence of the ideas of a charismatic Islamist preacher and moderniser, Said-i Nursi, in particular Nursi’s marrying of Islamic mysticism with scientific rhetoric.
It was in the years of violence and repression following the coup of September 1980, which installed a military junta, that Adnan Oktar began to emerge as a public figure in Turkey. In an environment of political and cultural instability, with Turkey threatened by Cold War politics from without and the clash between Kemalist secular modernisers and a rising tide of Islamic militancy within, the stage was set for a new character, a modern Turkish-Muslim man. On to this stage walked Oktar, clutching the first of his books, Judaism and Freemasons, a derivative retread of anti-Semitic clichés in the manner of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which identified Jews and the masons as the devious obstacles to the emergence of a new, powerful Turkish-Muslim nation. “The principal mission of Jews and Freemasons in Turkey,” Oktar wrote, “was to erode the spiritual, religious, and moral values of the Turkish people and make them like animals.”
Following publication Oktar was arrested, charged with promoting a theocratic revolution, a crime against the secular code. He eventually served 19 months, though he was never formally charged. During this period he was confined to a prison clinic, and then Bakirkoy Mental Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and schizophrenia. Though I have seen the formal diagnosis myself, it is still not clear whether the symptoms were genuine. Some, like his former colleague Islamist author Edip Yuksel, who was imprisoned in 1986 at the same time, believe Oktar was faking to avoid compulsory military service and criminal charges. (“Which is ironic,” wrote Yuksel, “since he was indeed mentally ill; he was a delusional maniac.”) Already by this point, Yuksel reports, Oktar believed himself to be the Mehdi, the messiah foretold in Sunni theology.
While Oktar was building a public profile through his books, the real work was taking place backstage, as he began to assemble a group of followers dedicated to his twisted vision. Combining his undoubted charisma (something even his most ardent opponents concede) with a gift for manipulation, Oktar set out to build a cult around himself, drawing extensively on the techniques pioneered by messianic gurus like Charles Manson and Jim Jones, and in particular employing the strategies of the Moonies, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Scientology in targeting disaffected but affluent and educated young people, insisting they turn their worldly goods over to the cult, and vigorously enforcing rigid hierarchies and punitive rules.
Though, as with all cults, it is extremely hard to understand what draws young, rich and educated people in, Dilek, a former follower of Oktar, gives something of the flavour. Now a suave businesswoman in her late 30s, Dilek remembers how she first met Oktar, visiting him while he was still in mental hospital, after her then boyfriend had turned out to be a follower. “I was expecting someone who frightens you off, someone terrible,” she told me. “He was the opposite. He was tall, with rosy cheeks and blue eyes. He was laughing a lot, he was full of love.” She was seduced.
On his release Oktar began to hold meetings in cafés and private residences in Istanbul’s posh suburbs, where a growing number of rich and beautiful young people gathered for debate and prayer. Soon Dilek donned a headscarf, but only outside her parents’ house, so as not to alert them to her new-found religious commitment. All her friends in the group were graduates of expensive public schools, educated in foreign languages, and most were the children of rich families and many of well-known personalities. In the early days the discussions invariably led to Oktar’s particular interest in Jewish conspiracies. “There was a chilling hatred against Jews and Freemasons,” Dilek recalls. “The Jews were the people who ruin the world, and we were the good Muslims to fight against them.”
Such “awareness-raising” meetings and discussion groups are part and parcel of Islamist group mobilisation. Yet Oktar’s group soon took a different turn. “Suddenly Adnan Hodja repudiated all oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of Muhammad (hadith) and decided that the Koran would be the only point of reference,” says Dilek. “Henceforth, he reduced the five daily prayers to three, and he dropped the veiling of women. He told us the Mehdi would emerge from Turkey, and he would come with an army of youth. He never said that he was the Mehdi himself, but we all believed that he was.”
Throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, Oktar built up his community. Followers were especially active in the swanky summer resorts along the shore of the Sea of Marmara. A friend of mine, who spent most of her holidays in the late 1980s at her parents’ summer flat in the area, recalls how the followers’ targeting worked: “They bought flats there and singled out attractive girls and boys. The boys were very good-looking, boys who can easily charm you. I guess this is why they started with the boys. Once the girls entered the cult, they had to give up sexy fashion, so they wouldn’t be able to attract new members. But for the boys, the rules were more relaxed, so that they could continue recruitment.”
The social organisation within the group was becoming rigidly hierarchical and, as is common in messianic cults, sexual relations were tightly controlled, with the putative messiah given access denied to others. Oktar considered all female members his legitimate possession. Berk, a recent defector after seven years, describes the groups: “There were sisters (bacilar), concubines (cariyeler) and brothers (kardesler), the male members. The brothers were allowed to marry the concubines, while the sisters were all married to Adnan Hodja.” Of course these marriages were not legal, but they were treated as such within the group. As with Scientology, discipline was maintained through humiliation, the threat of expulsion and physical violence. “I know personally,” Berk told me, “that Oktar beats the sisters.”
Okatr also insisted on uniformity in dress, behaviour and even home furnishings. “Everyone had to be the same,” says Berk. “The hairstyle, the shoes, the jackets. It had to be the most expensive brands, like Versace and Gucci, and it had to be exactly how he wanted it to be. Even our communal flats had to be furnished according to his taste. It had to be heavy antiques, all with gold leaf and dark wood.” Video cameras were installed in the communal apartments, which allowed Oktar to exercise control over his followers and outsiders. As the criminal indictment vividly illustrates, young girls were lured into sex parties with the promise of being admitted to the group, but ended up having to perform sexual acts with men of influence, whom the group needed for its economic and political success. The encounters were filmed and used to coerce the men in question to act in the group’s interest. In witness statements, the models Tugce Doras and Seckin Piriler give detailed accounts of how members of the group treated them as “sex slaves” and how Oktar and his followers compelled them to perform oral sex and other sexual favours.
No matter how bizarre the rules, Oktar was able to provide them with apparent legitimacy through his reading of the Koran and Islamic history. Concubinage was justified by reference to the Ottoman harems, while passages of the Koran were recited to justify the practice of severing the ties of the young followers to their families. As a leading legal scholar involved in some of the court cases against Oktar puts it: “In [Oktar’s] reading, the love for mother and father is an offence to God. Parents are seen as the executors of God’s will to raise the child. Once the child reaches adulthood, their role is fulfilled. If the parents happen to join, they are considered pious and may become fellow comrades. If they remain ‘infidels’, they are considered enemies.” It was with this justification that the followers cut off relations with their parents, on whose financial and social resources, however, the group ultimately depended. The indictment details the way in which followers were encouraged to plunder their parents’ bank accounts and sell their assets.
With the local elections in 1994 came an unforeseen opportunity for Oktar. The hardline Islamist Welfare Party (Refah Partisi), the predecessor of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), won control of the municipalities of Istanbul and Ankara. But the new Islamist mayors (in Istanbul this was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now Turkey’s Prime Minister) lacked the expertise and the social and economic networks to govern effectively. They needed allies who were both sufficiently Islamic and well resourced. With his eye for exploiting the main chance, Oktar stepped forward. The journalist and editor Fatih Altayli, who has taken on Oktar repeatedly and had to fight off dozens of libel cases as a result, sees this as a crucial moment of consolidation: “In 1995 and ’96, companies from Oktar’s sphere of influence made big business deals with municipalities under the control of the Welfare party, especially in Istanbul and Ankara. During a raid at a meeting of the group, for instance, the police arrested Oguzhan Asilturk, an acting minister in the Welfare government, and one of the leading ideologues of political Islam in Turkey. It was really during these years, that they gained a lot of economic clout. Followers even established companies in Dubai.” Some followers joined the trail of Turkish investors to Central Asia and set up businesses with the money they had extracted from their parents, with profits routed back to Oktar.
Another military intervention, the “bloodless coup” of 1997, saw the government of Erbakan forced to step down and the Welfare party disbanded. Oktar lost his political influence (something he has never regained with the current Islamist AKP government, who are eager to steer clear of him). Nothing if not bold, Oktar rebranded again.
In 1998 the Science and Research Foundation, the group Oktar had formed in 1990, launched its campaign against Darwinism, distributing tens of thousands of free copies of his book The Evolution Deceit in Turkey, paving the way for the Atlas of Creation and Oktar’s new role as the spokesman for Muslim creationism.
It is highly doubtful whether any of these books – or indeed any of the 150 books he claims to have written – were actually written by Oktar. Berk, who was part of the inner circle at the time, confirms this: “There is a group of followers who are commissioned to write the books. For every book, they will take a few key sources written by Christian creationist authors, mostly from the US. They plagiarise the chapters and paragraphs that agree with their creationist approach. Then they add the photos, a few ayat from the Koran, and sometimes a bit of a commentary. None of the ideas belong to Oktar.”
Sensing another opportunity immediately after 9/11, Oktar instantly shed his formerly virulent anti-Semitism and published a piece called “Islam condemns terror”, designed, apparently, to curry favour with America.
Oktar’s group already had established good relations with US congressmen in 2000, when his Science Research Foundation received the endorsement of seven members of Congress and retired Senator Steve Symms, who described it as “a major influence for good among the younger population of Turkey” and praised its “commitment to democracy, preservation of national and moral values, and respect for law”.
Adana Oktar's plan for a Turkish-Islamic Union
Since then Oktar has become an ardent proponent of interfaith dialogue, attempting to unify believers of all stripes against the corrupting influence of Darwinism, which he now holds responsible for Fascism, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Most recently, he has been talking about the “Turkish-Islamic Union”, which would bring peace to the entire Muslim world under the leadership of Turkey.
Oktar’s ideological and political promiscuity seem to support the claim that he has no genuine beliefs at all, and merely opportunistically jumps on issues which will further his notoriety, following the lead of smarter followers. As one former follower told me, “We had something to please everybody: Ataturk, namaz (prayer), creationism and, if need be, cocaine.”
But with so many ideas taken up and discarded, and their leader facing jail, might the group be nearing exhaustion? True, the Science Research Foundation and the followers have initiated thousands of court cases. Three hundred alone were brought against the model and one-time sympathiser Ebru Simsek, who spoke out against Oktar after she refused his advances, and a barrage of faked naked photos of her were made public. Oktar’s followers have shot thousands of compromising videos of everyone who has come into intimate contact with the group. They have intimidated prosecutors, judges and lawyers with endless streams of complaints and faxed denunciations and printed libellous advertisements in the Islamist media, defaming their critics. They been especially effective on the internet, setting up numerous websites to denounce their enemies, while using the Turkish courts to silence them – the Dawkins site is just one of dozens they have had banned. “They may be only a few hundred people,” one lawyer told me, “but the damage they have inflicted is considerable. Damage to the families, to the judicial system, and to Turkish politics.”
However, and despite the serious shortcomings of Turkey’s legal system, they have eventually lost every single one of the cases they have brought, thanks in large measure to the courage of solicitor Rezzan Aydinoglu, who works virtually full-time on behalf of Oktar’s victims. According to investigators most of the business ventures in Central Asia have failed. Both factors will have eaten into Oktar’s resources.
And there may be deeper, structural reasons for the group’s decline. In the late 1980s, after several babies were born to group members (whether Oktar’s or not is unclear), Oktar forbade sexual practices that would lead to pregnancy (his followers were limited to anal or oral intercourse). Since then there have been no more births in the group. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Oktar’s formerly aggressive recruitment has abated, too.
What remains is a closed community of broken individuals. Berk, who has had to endure his fair share of slander and court cases, nevertheless feels compassion for his former comrades: “You have to understand that these are people who have sold everything they had; they sold what their parents had. They possess nothing. Many are now in their late 30s and 40s. They have lost their families and their social networks, and they have lost the ability to socialise. The only thing they know is to talk about Adnan’s distorted version of Islam.” Dilek, who broke with the a few group years ago, left two sisters behind. Her family sees them once or twice a year, when they visit guarded by a group of brothers. “They are like zombies,” she told me. “As if there is nobody inside.”
Oktar continues to be a public figure in Turkey, where a two-part, five-hour interview with him was screened on national television in August. The final ruling on his appeal is due in October, and Razzan Aydinoglu told me it is very likely he will lose. But this may be just the kind of thing he would enjoy, turning it into evidence of his martyrdom.
Clearly Oktar is a master of manipulation, a “cunning charlatan” as Erip Yuksel calls him, but it is not this alone that has allowed this deluded, empty man to achieve the prominence he has. He is a symptom of our own sickness. Thanks to the “War on Terror”, Oktar could paint himself as a credible alternative to radical Islam; thanks to our timidity and incompetence around issues of faith he can gain credibility as a representative of Muslim sentiment and a champion of “inter-faith dialogue”. And, most of all, for many disoriented Muslims, he provides a compelling vision of a superior Islamic science.
He is a deluded megalomaniac who has artfully exploited the global resurgence of religious sentiment to cheat us all. A ludicrous man for ludicrous times.

Written by: Ben Peck
Monday, 24 August 2009

With thanks: International Marxist Website

In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a “non-aggression pact”, which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet “spheres of influence”, effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.

The Stalin-Hitler pact has gone down in history as a mark of the absolute cynicism of the bureaucracy. It was a treacherous agreement that involved the occupation and division of Poland, half to Stalinist Russia and half to Hitler’s Germany. Such a move was described by the Stalinists as “defensive”. The Pact did not prevent war between Germany and Russia, but certainly helped Hitler in his war aims. It caused confusion and demoralisation amongst honest communists around the world, who for years had been denouncing Hitler as the foremost enemy of the labour movement and a threat to world peace.

Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov signs the pact. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin stand behind him.Unlike Stalin, who sought all kinds of diplomatic deals with the imperialist powers in accordance with the theory of ‘socialism in one country’, and cynically sacrificed the revolution in the west, for Lenin and the Bolsheviks the guiding principle was the promotion of the world socialist revolution. This was a principle based on very concrete considerations. For a backward country like Russia, encircled by the imperialist powers, the spreading of the revolution internationally was the key to its survival and development toward world socialism.

When out of necessity Lenin and Trotsky signed the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty in 1918 it meant a strengthening of German imperialism, allowing them to take the Ukraine. The idea of a workers state dealing with capitalist nations is not precluded by socialists – each case must be weighed and considered as to how it advances the cause of the workers on an international scale. The Brest-Litovsk treaty of 1918 was forced upon the Soviet republic by Germany as its very survival was at stake. However Lenin and Trotsky saw such diplomatic manoeuvres as secondary to the only real saviour – the spreading of the revolution itself, starting with Germany.

The signing of the Stalin-Hitler pact must be seen in a different light. It marked a further break with the traditions of Bolshevism and the foreign policy of Lenin and Trotsky. As Trotsky said at the time, it was an “extra gauge with which to measure the degree of degeneration of the bureaucracy, and its contempt for the international working class, including the Comintern.”

Clearly, the rise of Fascism in Germany had had a devastating impact on the working class internationally. The mightiest and best organised labour movement in the world had allowed Fascism to triumph, as Hitler boasted, ‘without breaking a window.’ The reason for this catastrophe was the insane actions of the Stalinist Communist Parties.

By 1927 Trotsky and the Left opposition were being expelled from the Communist parties and its supporters were being hounded by the Stalinists. In face of the menace of Fascism, they raised the need for a United Front in Germany of socialist and communists. The Stalinists in Russia, having leant on the Right to defeat the Left Opposition, now proceeded to crush Bukharin and the enriched peasantry he represented. This was reflected by the ultra-left turn in the Communist International in 1928. This meant denouncing every group that was not the Communist Party as a variant of Fascism: “social-fascists”, “liberal-fascists”, and worst of all, the “Trotsky-fascists.” Such nonsense simply demoralised the workers and played into the hands of Hitler’s gangs.

The utter bankruptcy of the leaders of the German CP was revealed when Hitler was made Chancellor. They dismissed it with the declaration: “first Hitler, then our turn”! The Nazis divided and paralysed the German working class, which finally led not only to the arrest and persecution of the Jews, but also the liquidation of communist and socialist parties and all independent workers’ organisations. After this disaster, which did not even cause a ripple in the Communist Parties, Trotsky realised that the Communist International was finished and could no longer be a tool that could be used to further the cause of the international working class. A new international was needed.

German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Stalin at the signing of the Pact. Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv.At this point it is questionable whether the Stalinist bureaucracy was actively seeking to sabotage the workers’ movement as they later did in Spain in 1936, where it was clearly acting as a conscious and self-interested caste out to preserve its own position. The Spanish Stalinists acted on a line dictated from Moscow that demanded the sabotage of the revolution and the concentration of all effort on the civil war. The Stalinists were clear: “At present nothing matters except winning the war; without victory in the war all else is meaningless. Therefore this is not the moment to talk of pressing forward with the revolution… At this stage we are not fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are fighting for parliamentary democracy. Whoever tries to turn the civil war into a socialist revolution is playing into the hands of the fascists and is in effect, if not in intention, a traitor.”

This policy stemmed from their new policy of Popular Frontism, adopted in 1935 which represented a 180 degree turn. Rather than the United Front of worker organisations, the new Popular Front policy sought the unity of communists with socialists, liberals and “progressive”, “anti-fascist” capitalists. From mad ultra-leftism they swung to desperate opportunism. They abandoned all principles in order to ingratiate themselves with every “progressive” anti-fascist possible. It therefore meant the abandonment of any independent action of the working class – the only way to defeat Fascism.

At the level of international diplomacy Stalin sought to prove to the capitalist democracies that he was a reliable ally by selling out the Spanish revolution. In 1936 Stalin publicly announced that the USSR never had any such intentions of promoting world revolution, and that any such misconception was the result of a ‘tragicomic’ misunderstanding.

At this point the persecution of all opposition and political dissent inside the USSR reached fever pitch. The Purge Trials of 1936-38 drew a “river of blood” between the regimes of Lenin and Stalin. From August 1936 the world-wide Stalinist press was publishing on a daily basis resolutions from “workers meetings” speaking of the defendants as “Trotskyist terrorists” conducting their activities in league with the Gestapo!

Of the members of the Central Committee who met at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1934, the overwhelming majority had been shot or disappeared by 1938. The Purges extended far and wide. Those shot included Bukharin, Kamenev and Zinoviev, members of the Politburo under Lenin. The Red Army was purged with leading military figures murdered such as Tukhachevsky, a military genius and hero of the Civil War. In total 90% of generals, 80% of colonels, and 35,000 officers were liquidated by Stalin. The Red Army was decapitated. This fact was well noted by Hitler, particularly after the Soviets‘disastrous campaign in Finland in 1939, which played a part in his calculation to attack Russia in 1941.

Last page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLast page of the Additional Secret ProtocolLenin was fond of quoting the Prussian military theorist Clausewitz when he said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” The one-sided Civil War conducted against those genuine communists who remained in the Soviet Union marked the full emergence of a conscious and self-aware bureaucracy. The possible success of the Spanish revolution would have rejuvenated the aspirations of the Russian workers and undermined the stranglehold of the bureaucracy. It was no coincidence that the Moscow Trials took place at this time. If Stalin had not moved to suppress the Russian workers in blood, he would have been removed.

War was coming. The western “democracies” were not keen on a deal with Stalin. Stalin, the pragmatist, therefore sought a deal with Hitler. This was the solution, or so he thought. After the British handed Hitler Czechoslovakia on a plate, Stalin urgently needed an agreement with Hitler – whatever the cost. Within a week, the Stalin-Hitler Pact was signed. Even the pliable leaderships of the Comintern were taken by surprise. In Britain, the general secretary of the CP, Harry Pollitt, did not jump fast enough and within a few days had fallen into disgrace and was removed on Moscow’s orders.

The pact provided the Nazis with raw materials which funded the Nazi war machine in Europe, later to be turned against the USSR itself. By 1940 Russia supplied Germany with 900,000 tons of mineral oil, 100 tons of scrap iron, 500,000 tons of iron ore along with large amounts of other minerals. Soviet diplomats grovelled before the Führer in order to ingratiate themselves. In his cynical fashion, Stalin expelled each ambassador from the territories of the USSR as their countries were occupied by the Nazis armies.

In June 1941, to Stalin’s complete surprise, Hitler invaded Russia, meeting little resistance on the way. Despite the obvious signs and clear warnings, the USSR was totally unprepared and suffered heavy losses. Stalin, on hearing the news, disappeared for more than a week, declaring “All that Lenin built is lost.”

Eventually regaining his nerve, resistance was organised. The Nazi attack on the USSR delighted the imperialists who hoped that the fight on the Eastern front would mutually exhaust both sides, after which they could move in and mop up. But they had miscalculated. They had not counted on the planned economy, which, despite the waste and mismanagement of the bureaucracy, managed to increase production and shoulder the burden of the war during its darkest days. The superiority of the plan, combined with the Russian masses hatred of Hitlerism, provided the Soviet Union with the invincible fire-power needed to defeat the Nazi armies, eventually throwing them back to Berlin.

The Second World War reduced itself in essence to a struggle between the USSR and Germany, with the Allies as bystanders. In 1943, Stalin wound up the Communist International as a sop to the imperialists, but they turned deaf ears to Russia’s pleas for a Second Front. By 1945, the Red Army had shattered the Nazi war machine and defeated Hitler. This strengthened Stalinism for a whole period.

However, as Trotsky had warned, inherent within the ruling bureaucracy was a desire to restore capitalism in order to pass on their privileges to their offspring. It took 50 years for this prognosis to play out. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the leading bureaucrats, such as Yeltsin, embraced capitalism. The Stalinists, despite all the sacrifices of the Russian masses, had become the grave-diggers of the Russian Revolution

Shaheryar Ali

Famous Pakistani academic Dr Robina Saigol has written an influential critique of Nation State from feminist perspective. It is known as “Militarization, Nation and Gender: Women bodies as arenas of violent conflicts”. The study explains quite brilliantly the ideological structures which lead to crimes against women during violent conflicts. Pakistan is the specific focus of this study. I am reminded of it after I discovered the fate of Miss Zarina Murree a Baluch woman who went missing along with 429 persons since December 2005 according to Asian Human Rights Commission Report. She is reportedly being abused as a “sex slave” by Pakistan Army. I came to know about her, thanks to the inspiring blog “Grand Trunk Road” which writes about the duality of response on the predicament of two women. The suspected Islamic Fascist terrorist Dr Aafia Siddiqui and Miss Zarina Murree. The entry can be read here .I will deal with this problem at multiple levels trying to deconstruct the hegemonious discourse on Terrorism. Why a poor school teacher like Miss Zarina Murree would be abused as a “sex-slave” by Mujahid army of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Dr Saigol explains this phenomenon in general term:

“Recent feminist theories of nationalism have pointed out that the Qaum (nation) is essentially feminine in construction. The nation is narrated on the body of women who become an emotionally-laden symbol of the nation, self, the inner, spiritual world and home. One’s motherland or maadar-e-watan, as it comes to be called, becomes invested with the kind of erotic attraction felt towards women, especially in the figure of the mother. The country comes to be appropriated, represented and contained within words which have strong romantic, erotic as well as maternal connotations. The desire for this land/woman/dharti is constructed as masculine desire; the desire to possess it, see it, admire it, love it, protect it and die fighting for it against rivals.

Since the desire for women gets transferred on to the nation and women’s bodies come to signify the nation, communal, regional, national and international conflicts come to be played out on women’s bodies. These bodies thus become arenas of violent struggle. Women are humiliated, tortured, brutally raped, and murdered as part of the process by which the sense of being a nation is created and reinforced”

Thus by kidnapping and than sexually molesting a poor Baluch teacher, Pakistan’s Army is trying to reinforce the ideology of “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. This a reply to the traitor Baluchs. The ironic fact is the history of Islamic republic taught at school traces the history of Islamic state from the invasion of Sindh by Muhammed Bin Qasim, the Umayyad , who as the myth goes invaded Sindh to defend the “honour” of a Muslim girl. Like all other myths of Islamic Republic’s ideological history this honour laden justification of Arab imperialist assault on Sindh is deconstructed by great Sindhi poet and famous conscientious objectors to 1965 Indo-Pak , Sheik Ayaz in his poem which is the lament of the native girl of Sindh abused by invading Arabs. When Yvonne Ridley, former Taliban prisoner and now a pro Taliban activist and Respect Party affiliate who could very much be suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome” broke the news of Dr Aafia Siddique being sexually molested at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, ritualistic drum beating started. The fact that its very hard to dismiss Dr Sidiqque’s links with Al-Qaida and Islamic fascism was ignored. There is a case of abuse of Dr Siddique’s rights and all extra judicial punishments, torture and abuse must be condemned but this is clearly a case of “double discourse”. All the discourse of civil rights, human rights, woman rights, good governance etc in Pakistan favors the ideological interests of Islamic Republic. Thus suspected and alleged sexual molestation of Dr Siddique, an Urdu speaking girl from middle and upper middle classes who is involved in Jihad is the drummed up at all levels in Pakistan from media to text messages on mobile phones asking the young muslim men to follow the example of Muhammed Bin Qasim and deliver the “daughter of Islam” from infidels. Liberals and progressives follow this ideological discourse bound by their ethos of “human rights” and “civil rights”, the fact that Dr Siqqique if was successful in her Jihad would result in a system which doesn’t recognizes even the concept of human rights is ignored by most lefti human rights activists. Whilst they must raise a voice against state abuse they must make sure that their interest is only in the fact that Dr Siddique be brought in a court of Law where she gets a fair trial. Just as Ajmal Kasab has the legal right to fair trial. Nothing more than that. Unfortunately we saw Iqbal Haider becoming party to the the emotional drama created by the Right. He should  have kept in mind, what image they created of other abuse victims. Mukhtar Mai, the Saraiki woman raped on orders of village counsel is a “whore” according to moral punjabi middle class. Dr Shazia Murree, the Baluch doctor raped by Captain Hamad was declared a “slut” and government narrated the stories of “condoms” in her home with a question why did a good girl had “condoms” in her home??

The great respect to woman, civil rights and human rights expressed by Islamic Republic and its ideological apparatus the media and the chattering class in cases of suspected Taliban and other ideological allies clearly vanishes when such atrocities are done to “others” of Islamic Republic by establishment. Thus the documented use of rape as a war tactic by Pakistan Army and Jamate Islami in 1971’s Bangladesh’s war of Liberation is dismissed as “Indian propaganda”, similar use of rape as a tactic to curtail MRD in 1980s in interior Sindh and Saraiki region of Punjab is never spoken of. The rape and genocide of Baluch people by Pakistani state again fails to gain any mass support or even media attention. Why this happens. Dr Rubina Saigol writes in “State and the Limit of Counter-Terrorism: The Case of Pakistan and SriLanka”

“The foundational myth of Pakistan is the two-nation theory, which

posits Muslims and Hindus as two mutually exclusive, separate and

irreconcilable nations. This ideology divided the freedom struggle

against British rule as early as 1909 with the Morley-Minto Reforms in

which the principle of separate electorate was acknowledged by the

British government. It subsequently remained the main slogan of the

Muslim League and led to the division of independence by religion.

Within the two-nation paradigm, two states emerged, a Hindu India and

a Muslim Pakistan, although Indians generally see their country as secular.

The emergence of Pakistan within a struggle divided by religion meant

that religious identity came to be the defining characteristic of Pakistani

citizenship. This implied that other, sometimes older, sources of identity

in language, region or culture had to be suppressed if not entirely erased.

The construction of Pakistani identity as Muslim required the forgetting

of the identities of Bengali, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pathan or Baloch”

This is the root of all the double discourse in Pakistan. This is the bases of Bengali Genocide, this is base of failure of democracy and this is the base of Rape of Zarina Murree. Dr Saigol is one of those few academics from Pakistan who recognizes the fact that most of the problems of Pakistan like failure of democracy and Islamic Fascism are result of the “state” itself. She also traces the roots of Taliban terrorism in two nation ideology of Pakistani state. Just have a look at the report of Asian Human Rights Commission here .

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received further details in the case of Ms. Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Balochistan province, who has been held incommunicado in an army torture cell at Karachi, the capital of Sindh province and used as a sex slave, please see our statement; http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/1843/——–“
Sanakhawan e Taqdees e Mushriq Kahan hein?

SanaKhawan e Taqdees e Mushriq Ko Lao——–

Several nations with sizable gay communities have not signed up to a declaration on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN this month.

 

 

The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States.

Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.

Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.

He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.

In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter.

France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation.

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

More than 50 nations have signed up to support the initiative, but the Vatican has attacked it and claims that as many countries have not signed up, it they are in the right.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a Vatican spokesman said earlier this week.

The Holy See does not have a vote at the UN, but its observer has tried to claim that “states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” as a result of the declaration.

Mr Tin said:

“If your government has not yet signed the text, and if you think it is relevant to ask them, you could then lobby the Foreign Ministry in your capital.

“It might be also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador at the United Nations.

“You can explain that it is a declaration (it is not compelling), it is only about decriminalising homosexuality (there is no link with marriage) and that more than 50 countries have already signed.

“If your government has already signed the text, you may ask them to contact other close friend states. For instance, Canada and UK might contact other countries of the Commonwealth, Mexico and Spain might contact other countries of Latin America

Source : Pink News

Photo by BinaryApe on flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             

 

A Picture is a Fact . Wittgenstein

by Shaheryar Ali

We have analyzed, the origins of “communal historiography”, the “socio-political construction” of communal-identities, the conversion of “communal politics into Religious Nationalism.

Here we have given a critique of Colonial Historiography, by the secular-nationalist historians of India. What becomes clear is that colonialism in  India  resulted in formation of 3 types of Nationalism, which Romila Thapar characterizes as Anti-colonial Indian Nationalism, Hindu and Muslim Nationalism, both of whom were not anti-colonial but relied on colonialism for their historical legitimacy, we have demonstrated that looking into history and culture of India in terms of “Muslim” and “Hindu” was essentially British.

We have demonstrated, how Muslim and Hindu identities, are not monolithic and how they dissolve in class conflict. Accepting religious identities as monolithic and ahistorical is deeply disturbing and result in mass confusions and also errors in understanding historical events, It for example will result in failure of understanding Nationalism in Muslim nations, an example is Turkish nationalism, If Turkish nationalism is considered a “Muslim nationalism” because majority of Turks were Muslim, it fails to explain the formation of “Modern Turkish National identity”. What separated Turks from Arabs , both of whom, were part of Ottoman empire as Muslim subjects in Ottoman caliphate, The “Turkishness” debate, in early Turkey, the “de-islamization”, the “De-arabization” of Turkish language, the oppression of Turkish state of non-Turk population, the “Turkization of Kurds”, the suppression of Arts and intellectuals because of “Turkish honour” and “nationalism”. The Turks were building “Turkey” away from Muslim identity. It was the Muslim identity they were fighting, they were looking to Europe . The banning of head dress, the ban on Arabic language, the orders of saying Azan in Turkish as well. The adoption of Latin alphabets could these reforms be some how building “Muslim Nationalism?” Was Kemal Ata Turk  building a laboratory of Islam, was he giving pledges of following Koran and Sunnah? . The fact is Turkish state was so keen in building a Turkish national identity that by adopting Latin alphabets, they virtually made most literate people , illiterate. Arabic could confuse the people, linking them with Muslim Arabs who were once their subjects.  The fact that Ottoman Empire gave birth to nations which were Muslims yet they decided to form separate Nation States, based on Modern National identities, Arab Nationalism and Turkish Nationalism.  This quest for a European identity, also explains the repressive nature of Turkish state. This was a case of reforms from above , which had no material base and hence have to be protected by repression. The constant friction between both explain a lot of things, as Eqbal Ahmad, the foremost Marxist anti-colonial theorist suggest

“It has been nearly eighty years now since Turkey declared itself to be European. Turkey’s identity has developed for the last eighty years away from the Middle East. Its ruling class doesn’t want to be part of the Middle East. Turkey therefore has found itself making an alliance with Israel”

Eqbal Ahmad, Confronting the empire . Here Eqbal Ahmad explain quite brilliantly, the nature of Turkish Nationalism, The case of Armenian Genocide:

“The Turkish genocide of Armenians was the first expression of Turkish nationalism. The caliphate was still there, the Ottomans were still ruling, but they were already ceasing to be Ottoman rulers and becoming Turkish nationalists, which is why they lost the Middle East. They lost the loyalties of the Arabs because they turned to nationalism. Armenians had lived with the caliphate in relative safety until this particular ideology of difference, that is, nationalism, took hold. The ideology was that anyone who was not a Turk by blood was the Other. The Armenians were not killed for being Christian. They were killed for being Armenian”

Eqbal Ahmad, Confronting the Empire.

Ahmad explains, separation of Arabs and killing of Armenians, If one understands Turkish as a “Muslim identity” it creates a lot of problems in explaining history.

Here again one come across , the debate of “Marxist Historians”, “Biased Left wing histories”, “Commies” etc. This is a particular problem. It demonstrates, the lack of understanding of History, esp the movement of modern history, the modernism, academic Marxism, political communism.

In context of India and Pakistan, the explanation is quite simple, there is not much academic substance to such type of behavior. Any one who doesn’t subscribe to the Religious Nationalism, and try to do a critique of colonialism becomes a “commie”. As once again , i quote Romila Thapar:

“Historians who contest this formulation are described as anti-Indian, anti-national, and of course, “Commies”. Yet historians have argued that such a chronology is difficult to reconcile with the archaeological and linguistic evidence.”

Romila Thapar, the Future of Indian Past.

At another place, She again explains, this view point

“The Hindutva approach to history ignores all other histories and schools of interpretation. They are all dismissed as Marxist or equivalent. They are then replaced with a reconstruction of the past, based on dubious evidence and arguments, and which differs from the accepted mainstream history”

In defence of History, Romila Thapar.

The problem as such is simple prejudice, for example, any one who has made a systemic study of Modernism as a philosophy knows that Marxism is a very influential part of it. In academy, it has contributed a lot. In history especially, historical materialism, is unavoidable, All modern historians in one way or other have utilized it. Those who call themselves “Marxists” in academic field are not usually political communists. Marxism is not a monolithic entity, considering it one is yet another  a sign of lack of familiarity with Marxist thought and leftist progressive tradition.

Marxism owns its name to Karl Marx, yet, we see that Marxist historians have been in continuous debate over Marx’s understanding of India. It has been severely criticized by many “Marxist” historians. Any one familiar with historical materialism knows how important is “understanding of mode of production’ in such debate. Yet, Marx own model of “Asiatic Mode of Production” has come under attack from Marxists and is now considered discarded. As Romila Thapar asserts:

“These included Marxism of various kinds, schools of interdisciplinary research such as the French Annales School, varieties of structuralism and others. Lively debates on the Marxist interpretation of history, for example, led to the rejection of the Asiatic Mode of Production as proposed by Marx, and instead focused on other aspects of Marxist history. There was no uniform reading among Marxists, leading to many stimulating discussions on social and economic history. The ideas of historians other than Marxists, such as Marc Bloch, Fernand Braudel and Henri Pirenne, were included in these discussions. The intention was not to apply theories without questioning them, but to use comparative history to ask searching questions”

In Defence of History, Romila Thapar

Here we comes to more contemporary versions of Historiographies, we have seen the critique of Communal/Religious Nationalism by the Secular-Leftist Historians.   3rd Nationalism,  Anti-colonial secular Nationalism, has itself come under a rigorous critique by none other than various Marxist and Leftist Historians. This is the critique of Nationalism itself. The anti-colonial, anti imperial theorists like Eqbal Ahmad, Edward Said  and Hamza Alvi etc are on the forefront of this critique. Ahmad, a Marxist academic have criticized Nationalism as “Ideology of the difference”.  All this falls in the over all critique of “Modernism” itself. “The civilizing mission”. Post-colonial and Post-modernist theorists have made a rigorous critique of modernity, this critique applies on the Modernist Marxist model as well, which considered it self as “Anti-colonial” for accepting, the ideologies of modernism without critique, esp the ideology of Nationalism.

Under the influence of such philosophies, the process of “de-colonization” have been taking place in Historical texts. The fact , that lot of oppression and tyranny has been accepted on the premise that “colonial powers” were “modernizers”. This is dabate of  “Orientalism”. The debate of Knowledge and Power. The critique of Science [A great critique has emerged on the socio-political character of science, which is criticized for bring power tool of White Male ] Edawad Said has made an effective critique of Karl Marx himself in his phenomenal text “Orientalism”.

Knowledge has been used as a pre-text of colonialism. Modernization as a legitimization of oppression. As Eqbal Ahmad points out.

“Great imperial powers, especially democratic ones, cannot justify themselves on the basis of power or greed alone. No one will buy it…. Modern imperialism needed a legitimizing instrument to socialize people into its ethos. To do that it needed two things: a ghost and a mission. The British carried the white man’s burden. That was the mission. The French carried la mission civilisatrice, the civilizing mission. The Americans had manifest destiny and then the mission of standing watch on the walls of world freedom, in John F. Kennedy’s ringing phrase”

Eqbal Ahmad, confronting the Empire.

To be continued—-