A Comment by Lal Khan of IMT (translated by AA from Tabqatti Jiddojehd)

The recent Supreme Court’s recent decision declaring the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) null and void has emerged as latest explosion in the series of tremulous events which have been arising from the severe political, economic and social crisis plaguing Pakistani state and society.  Instead of resolving this severe crisis, this decision will actually sharpen the contradictions and deepen the crisis and the anarchic situation. In August 1970 the veteran communist theoretician Comrade Ted Grant wrote, “we see the ruling classes of Pakistan swing from one form of governance to another, from military dictatorship to democracy and than the cycle repeats it self. This on their part is an attempt to avoid and escape the principle contradictions confronting them. But whatever is their form of government, military dictatorship or a “difficult democracy” they fail to provide economic and social stability” (Unbroken Thread, Ted Grant, 1970,p 431)

The Hidden NRO

After 30 years this crisis has become far more complex and severe. Corruption is not the cause of failure of this system rather it’s the fundamental necessity and creation of this system.  In this rotten system who is not corrupt? From pillars of state and politics to journalism and vanguards of social morality every layer of authority and ruling classes is corrupt. In this state afflicted by the crisis capitalism the pillars of state have no solutions.  Just like western capitalism, the client politicians of the ruling elite and establishment do corruption like master tacticians; they leave no proof behind and no stain on their character.. Their corruption is protected and safe. Despite all this when one considers the different existential crisis affecting every aspect of society and state of so called Islamic republic, corruption really becomes a non-issue.  The judiciary which is being portrayed as holy, sacred and clean is historically one of the most corrupt institution of Pakistan . Not only this, judiciary has always given verdicts which have strengthened the strangulating grip of ruthless capitalism and establishment on the people.  This decision is just yet another addition into this long tradition of decisions given by the superior judiciary of Pakistan .  Just like Army, civil bureaucracy, parliament, corporate media the judiciary is part and pillar of the state.  Just like these the principle function of judiciary is to preserve this inherently unjust system at any cost. Some  times using brute force and violence and at other instances utilizing the farcical democracy or judicial and constitutional wizardry the rotten social values and institutions of this system of ruthless capitalist plunder are given new life. The bitter reality is that this state and its institutions and all the political parties affiliated with it are slave of international monetary capitalism. If the capital cannot be generated by fair means utilizing unfair means become a necessity in this system where capital is god venerated in temples of state.  In a system where every relationship, value and emotion has become a commodity, justice too is on sale at judicial market.  In this hideous play of the ruling elite, the imperialism is strengthening its grip and is continuously looting and plundering the national wealth and assets without any resistance.  Pakistan Peoples Party was product of a revolution (1968-69 revolution) but it could never transform itself into a Leninist revolutionary party.  This contradiction resulted in its adoption by the working classes and downtrodden people of Pakistan as their revolutionary tradition and at the same time, its real character being “populist” instead of “Leninist-revolutionary” makes it vulnerable to be used by the ruling elite and enemy classes for furthering their agenda and easing their difficulties. Despite having the ample opportunities to completely dislodge the capitalist system in 1968-69 and in 1971-72, the failure to do so and decision to operate within the constraints of this system, the party leadership is on a continuous swing of deviating from Party’s original and fundamental programme of Socialism.  With this the slow infiltration of enemy classes in the party started and their grip on party has been increasing ever since. It is not to be denied that the present leadership of feudal, industrialists and petty bourgeois up starters have indulged in corruption but the question is which party and institution of Pakistan has not? Karl Marx once wrote those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
In every crisis, the working classes and downtrodden masses of Pakistan have given their sweat, blood and tears to save this party. But the establishment and ruling classes have always used this party to control the crisis of state and to diffuse the revolutionary insurrections of masses and working classes standing behind this party. On return of Benazir Bhutto the monumental popular uprising completely exposed and discredited the so called “Lawyers Movement” and sharpened the class struggle. The sheer volume of popular uprising bewildered the establishment and ruling classes which were shaken to their roots. The epicenter of this movement Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and by a fraudulent election , a setup was imposed on the people in which government was given to the peoples party but the real power  was vested with some one else under tutelage of Washington.  The credit of removing General Pervez Mushraff was granted to the Lawyers Movement by the national and international corporate media instead of the glorious sacrifices and class struggle of people of Pakistan . The petty bourgeois and elitist leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party, blinded by the lust for power and wealth were under the deceptive illusion that they have the power in the state structure. The governance of this system moved them to impose ruthless capitalist policies like the criminally deceptive concept of “Public-Private Partnership, privatization and de-regulation resulting in unprecedented rise in poverty, hunger, unemployment and load shedding alienating the masses which form the very base of this party. With this economic terrorism people were attacked and the movement started to diffuse depriving people’s party of its “use value” by the state and establishment. As the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party tried to strengthen its hold on Power structure , the holders of real power and the real rulers of this country h used yet another of their institution, the Judiciary instead  of the traditional bully the Pak Army to show the Peoples Party’s government their real worth.  In reaching this situation, the people’s party government by its sheer incompetence and pursuit of anti people economic policies has weakened it self and paved the way for the right wing assault. The irony is that even if Peoples Party government is kicked out the problems and crisis will not be resolved. Rather the situation will deteriorate manifolds, barbarism will plunder the society. The brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto created a sympathy wave but the people burning in the hell of poverty, hunger and terrorism can’t wait for ever spell bound by an illusion. Even if they don’t rise in a revolutionary movement, holding on to the dwindling hope provided by their traditional party, in presence of such levels of poverty, humiliation, hunger and crisis any hope of stability is not tangible.

The crisis of society itself manifests in forms of contradictions within ruling elite, the state institutions creating an internal conflict within the state and ruling elite.  Every system of governance created by the bosses from ruthless military dictatorships to controlled democracy of General Musharraf and the capitalist parliamentary democracy has failed miserably. Every party and every institution stands exposed in front of the people. In this situation, it will be very difficult for the present leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party to use its traditional sympathy card. No doubt that the people and working class will be saddened by the dismissal of the government of their traditional party but they will only come out to actively support and defend the government, if the party returns to its original programme of socialism as rallying cry for a revolutionary movement.  This scenario in the present situation is very difficult keeping in mind the present leadership of the party. This on the other hand will create an ideological turbulence in the base of the party. Many expressions of this will be in form of personal and opportunistic dissent but an ideological conflict within the party is inevitable. The phenomenal question will surface in the party that which class this party represents and which class’s interests it pursues instead. The last writing and testament of Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto will re emerge and new avenues will open for the revolutionary tendency within the party. The traditional party slogan of “Socialism or death” will once again echo in this party.. The victory of revolutionary socialists in Peoples Party will pave the way for the socialist transformation of the society with the permanent solution of poverty, hunger  Islamic fascism and unemployment and this will become a reality.

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Guest Post From: Dawn Blog with thanks

The intensity of communal clashes in Gojra left a reporter fearing for his life.

‘I’ve never seen such mindboggling violence in my life,’ says Tariq Saeed, Dawn’s reporter from Toba Tek Singh. He was referring to the incident in Gojra, where several people were killed and scores were injured over the alleged desecration of the Quran earlier this month.

There has been considerable debate in the media about whether to describe the incident as a ‘riot’ between the Muslim majority and Christian minority communities. But Saeed clearly saw large groups of people out on the streets, thirsty for revenge and retribution.

‘When I reached Gojra on the night the incident took place, I found smoke billowing from several houses of the Christian community, though the fire had been put out in most places by then. There weren’t any Christian families in any of the houses as almost all of them had run away to nearby towns to stay with their friends and relatives,’ Saeed remembers.

‘But I did come across a large group of Muslim men, around 500 in number, who insisted, angrily I may add, that the desecration [of the holy Quran] did take place and that they had not made up the incident. They alleged that some members of the Christian community had torn pages and thrown them on the ground during a mehndi ceremony. They even showed copies of such pages to me which were indeed covered in mud. But when I suggested that these pages could also have been planted by a third person to stoke tension between the two communities, they reacted as if I had offended them and rudely asked me what kind of questions I was asking. In fact, at one point, their sentiments were so volatile that I felt threatened and feared that they might physically harm me if I continued with my probing questions.’

This was all very surprising to Saeed since he had been to Gojra several times before and had never felt unsafe there. In fact, it was also strange to him that there was strife between the two communities, when in the past they had lived peacefully side by side. ‘I’ve been to Gojra several times before this incident took place and never did I see such hostility between the Muslims and Christians living there.’ What was even more alarming to him was that the group of men he came across were not typical ‘mullah types,’ which one might expect given their extreme views. They were mostly clean-shaven young men between the ages of 15 and 35.

Despite the longstanding communal harmony in Gojra, Saeed acknowledges that the violent flare-up there was not entirely unexpected. Gojra has some of the most beautiful and historic churches in Pakistan with around 10,000 to 20,000 Christian inhabitants in the area. The importance of the town for the Christian community can be gauged from the fact that a bishop is also in residence. But, Saeed points out, Gojra has also always had a strong presence of the banned militant group, the Sipah-i-Sahaba, in the area. Indeed, one of the group’s leaders, Maulana Ahmed Ludhwani, hails from Toba Tek Singh.

The SS is suspected of being involved in the attack and is accused of instigating the local people against the Christian population. ‘Police sources say that members of the group had thrown chemicals on houses to spread the fire,’ says Saeed, adding that one of the local leaders, Qari Abdul Khaliq, has been held by authorities and reportedly tortured.

Saeed adds that the situation in Gojra is returning to normalcy, with both communities looking towards reconciliation. But for a reporter who has spent much time in this historic time, something has changed forever in the wake of violence. ‘The situation could deteriorate any time if the authorities don’t take appropriate steps to prevent such an occurrence in the future,’ he says.

Footnotes offers a weekly, behind-the-scenes look at the Dawn Media Group’s reporters on the job.

The views expressed in the following comments do not reflect the views of the Dawn Media Group.

On April 22, 2009 i wrote an article in my blog on the “thuggery” which was being declared a revolution. “The Black Revolution” a clown called it. Ignorant of the movement of history and the socio-cultural compulsions, many people in Pakistan adopted a dogmatic stand citing ideology and principle in supporting the lawyers movement. They completely disregarded the “evolution” which took place in lawyers movement , from a liberal movement, it became an instrument in hands of Jamate Islami and the reactionary retired generals. In the article, “Delirium: My name is Black” i tried to relate fate of such “movements” in a societies which are in grip of anarchy. In such situations, are the rhetoric of “order” results in “disorder”, i utilized the example of “black shirts” of Italian Fascist movement which also took control in name of “order”, “law” , constitution and “national honour”. Today Nadeem Farooq Paracha has taken a similar line. I am really glad that some people in Pakistan are aware of the dangers

Shaheryar Ali

Nadeem F. Paracha
Sunday, 09 Aug, 2009. With Thanks: Dawn

Recent incidents remind one of the antics of Mussolini’s notorious gangs of rampaging thugs. — File Photo

Recent incidents remind one of the antics of Mussolini’s notorious gangs of rampaging thugs. — File Photo

Thanks to the entirely lopsided media coverage in favour of the lawyers’ movement and the somewhat nauseating superlatives used to decorate the stand of the deposed CJP and his merry band of lawyers, there was always a danger of the lawyers’ community at large seeing themselves as gallant heroes who were above the law — a law which, to them, now meant nothing more than an ugly ogre to be constantly attacked, insulted and spat upon.

Harsh words indeed for a community which played its part in making the country’s last dictator announce his resignation. But the truth is that the lawyers would have remained nothing more than a loud little tassel if not for the overwhelming help they got from an adoring media and mainstream political parties such as the PML (N), and earlier, the late Benazir Bhutto’s PPP.

The recent spat of incidents in which groups of lawyers unabashedly abused and physically attacked former ministers, police officers, journalists, low-grade bureaucrats and civil judges while still in their black coats reminds one of the antics of Mussolini’s notorious gangs of rampaging thugs called the ‘Black Shirts,’ who, too, after tasting populist applause, started considering themselves above the law, eventually becoming one of classic fascism’s most animated expressions.

Isn’t this not what has happened to a movement that (unlike Mussolini’s fascist spurring) actually stood for the rule of law, democracy, constitutionalism and justice?

Well, did it really?

To begin with, there is absolutely no doubt that in spite of the fact that the CJP had agreed to take the oath in 2001 under Musharraf’s controversial PCO, his decision to stand up against what he considered were unconstitutional moves by the General was a laudable act. But a democratic and progressive protest movement by the lawyers bemoaning the CJP’s removal by the dictatorship started to change colour the moment it was turned into an anti-Musharraf bandwagon by the PML (N) and the PPP.

Now, there is certainly nothing condemnable about this, because active mainstream political parties are supposed to make full use of such openings. However, this did turn the movement into becoming a lot more political in nature which in itself created another window, this time for fringe parties such as the Jamat-i-Islami and Tehreek-i-Insaaf and parties from the peripheries of Sindhi and Pukhtun nationalism to tumble in with all of their political myopia and cornered, reactive attitudes.

Add to this mix the overwhelming coverage and praise the movement got from the media, and you have in your hand an explosive breed of highly politicised lawyers with cringing delusions of grandeur that have now emerged in full flow months after the movement officially came to an end with the restoration of the honourable CJP.

The saddest part in this respect is the way even the sanest and most democratic

instruments of the movement have largely tried to simply mumble out their reaction to the acts of violence and harassment perpetrated by some of their colleagues.

They are more than clear and ear-splitting in their condemnation of Musharraf and Zardari, but even after the many acts of violence involving lawyers have been captured on camera and repeatedly run on mainstream TV channels, these once glorified harbingers of justice and rights have at best sounded sheepish or simply decided to ‘vanish’ from the radar of the media.

The leading lights of the culminated Lawyers’ Movement must realise that their movement without the participation of mainstream political parties and the media would have amounted to nothing more than a fly-like nuisance for the dictatorship.

And the (electronic) media, much of which is now rightly questioning the many shameful post-Movement acts of the lawyers, should learn a vital lesson from these episodes. Its over-enthusiasm for sensational coverage and the space that it gives to cranks whose ‘analysis’ are nothing short of hateful fatwas against those they dislike and superlative praises for those they adore, has merely created monsters.

These include certain religious extremists in the NWFP, the Lal Masjid terrorists, and now a big, bad batch of lawyers whose delusions of grandeur — that the media helped create — seem to have made them lose all contact with democratic decency and maybe even reality itself.

From the BBC

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

A close associate of Pakistan’s most wanted man, Baitullah Mehsud, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack, has told the BBC he is alive.

Commander Hakimullah Mehsud said reports of the Taliban leader’s death three days ago in an attack on a house in South Waziristan were “ridiculous”.

The US said on Friday it was increasingly confident its forces had managed to kill Mr Mehsud.

Neither side has provided evidence to back up their claims so far.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday he was “pretty certain” Baitullah Mehsud had been killed.

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

But Commander Hakimullah Mehsud – who some analysts suggest may be positioning himself to succeed Baitullah Mehsud – told the BBC the reports of his death were the work of US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

He said the Pakistani leader had decided to adopt the tactics of Osama bin Laden and stay silent. He said he would issue a message in the next few days.

‘Safer’

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief’s father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

On Friday, another of Baitullah Mehsud’s aides told the Associated Press by telephone that his leader had been killed along with his second wife in the attack.

The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, described Baitullah Mehsud as “a murderous thug”, saying the Pakistani people would be safer if he was dead.

“There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead,” he told reporters.

South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who declared himself leader in late 2007, grouping together some 13 factions in the northwest of the country.

Believed to command as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants, he came to worldwide attention in the aftermath of the 2007 Red Mosque siege in Islamabad – in which the security forces confronted and forcibly ejected militant students who were mostly loyal to him.

He has been blamed by both Pakistan and the US for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country, as well as suicide attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan

Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan has also denied the news of Mehsood’s death, see the story at BBC Urdu. Please also see this analysis by Haroon Rashid

Its Shameful the way Pakistani media has destroyed the Objectivity. Shame on those pro establishment pseudo secular clowns who are calling a “unconfirmed” new “Confirmed”. We dont know weather he is dead or Alive, we will only believe when we will see an evidence.

SA

Neda

Thaper Jis Ne Marre, Wu hath ik Kirdar tha!

Aariz Sakina ke na the,Tareekh ka rukhsar tha

“Slaps on the cheeks of Sakeena[daughter of Hossein], were the slaps on the face of history and the one who slapped her, merely a character of an everlasting historical epic.

“At 19:05 June 20th Place: Kargar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father [sic, later identified as her music teacher] watching the protests was shot by a Basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me.” An eye witness [Wiki]

Her last words were, “I’m burning, I’m burning!”.

The words comming out of the camps at Kerbala were “Al atash” Al atash” “Thirst Thirst—”

Neda Soltani, a “non political” student of Islamic philosophy murdered by Islamic Republic

President Zardari is visiting United States. As it is clear to any one with intact mind that Pakistan is falling apart. Pakistan Army is either reluctant or finds itself incapable of fighting Taliban insurgency in Swat. United States and various experts have raised the issue of security of Pakistani nuclear weapons. In response to it the delusional minority in Pakistan, the English speaking Liberals [who are considered Kaffir by Taliban and security risk by Army] who consider themselves the vanguard of Pakistan non-existent nationalism, have raised a storm of protest. These protest are similar to their protest against India during the Ajmal Kasab’s issue. How serious is “nuclear threat” from Pakistan? As we all know, when these English speaking “experts”, and “intellectuals” were busy denying any such threats, nuclear proliferation actually took place. Notorious nuclear proliferator AQ Khan sold nuclear material to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Serious cracks are visible in Pakistan’s security establishment. Reports suggest widespread unrest within the Army with record number of deserters. Key figures of state have been accused of complicity with Taliban. Civil administrator of Sawt/Malakand had open ties with Taliban and was responsible for their takeover. Late General Hamza Alvi accused senior Generals of complicity with Taliban and payed the price.  On whose side is ISI has become a question similar to that of existence of God. With this kind of “security” , Pakistan’s nuclear arsnel is a very serious threat to humanity.

The most advance public opinion in Pakistan according to these delusional liberals was one motivated around the “lawyers movement”. All liberals drummed up the “secular humanist” nature of Lawyers movement . Its leadership was in hands of ex Maoists and Stalinists like Aitzaz Ahsan.  Who was in firm alliance with Islamic Fascist Jamate Islami [accused of Bengali Genocide] and PML-N [General Zia’s comrades in Arms]. During the glorious Lawyers Movement, the Bar Associations conducted country wide mock presidential elections in which Dr AQ Khan was their representative. When this is the state of affairs with  the “most advance layer of public opinion”. The world must consider its options. If Pakistani liberals have no conscience and consider it act of patriotism to support the evil deeds of their state than its duty of the world to take action.  Following is the article by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy a rare voice of conscience and it was written year back or so things have gone from bad to worse and it should open the eyes of conscientious Pakistanis

Shaheryar Ali

“The safety procedures and their associated technologies are only as safe as the men who use them”

Pakistan’s Nuclear Threat

Pervez Hoodbhoy. International Herald Tribune


A cacophony of protests in Pakistan greeted a recent statement by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad ElBaradei. “I fear that chaos, or an extremist regime, could take root in that country, which has 30 to 40 warheads,” he said. He also expressed fear that “nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

But in Pakistan, few worry. The Strategic Plans Division, which is the Pakistani agency responsible for handling nuclear weapons, exudes confidence that it can safely protect the country’s “crown jewels.” The SPD is a key beneficiary of the recently disclosed secret $100 million grant by the Bush administration, the purpose of which is to make Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safer.

aq-khanThis money has been put to use. Indeed, ever since Sept. 11, 2001, there has been a regular traffic of Pakistani military officers to and from the United States for coaching in nuclear safety techniques. While multiple layers of secrecy make it hard to judge success, the improvement in the SPD’s public relations is palpable. PowerPoint presentations, guided tours of military headquarters and calculated expressions of openness have impressed foreign visitors.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of a Homeland Security and governmental affairs committee, left reassured. After a briefing by the SPD’s chief, Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, Lieberman declared in a press conference, “Yes, he did allay my fears,” and promised to carry that message back to Congress.

So, is ElBaradei needlessly alarmed? Of the two diametrically opposed opinions, which deserves greater credence?

The two men are looking at different things. Lieberman was impressed by how well Pakistani nuclear handlers have been tutored in the United States. ElBaradei, on the other hand, expressed a broader concern. He presumably reasoned that safety procedures and their associated technologies are only as safe as the men who use them.

This is the crux of the problem. Pakistan has become steadily more radicalized as the influence of Islamists increases in its culture and society. The deliberate nurturing of jihadism by the state has, over 30 years, produced extremism inside parts of the military and intelligence. Today, some parts are at war with other parts.

This chilling truth is now manifest. A score of suicide attacks in the last few weeks, some bearing a clear insider signature, have rocked an increasingly demoralized military and intelligence establishment. For example, an unmarked bus of the Inter Services Intelligence agency was collecting employees for work early in the morning in Rawalpindi when it was boarded by a suicide bomber who killed 25 when he blew himself up. The ISI had not recovered from this shock when, just weeks later, another bus was blown up as it entered the service’s closely guarded secret headquarters.

Elite commandos of the Special Services Group have fared no better. Here, the suicide bomber was an army man. Still more recently, a group of six Pakistani militants, reportedly brainwashed by clerics linked to Al Qaeda, was arrested in December for plotting suicide attacks against military targets. Their leader was revealed to be a former army major, Ahsan-ul-Haq, who had masterminded the Nov. 1 suicide attack on a Pakistan Air Force bus that killed 9 people and wounded 40 others in the city of Sargodha, where nuclear weapons are said to be stored.

Fearful of more attacks, military officers have begun the transition to a new, surprisingly modest lifestyle. They have given up wearing uniforms except on duty, move in civilian cars accompanied by guards in plain clothes, and no longer flout their rank in public.nukewatertruckpakistan

As the rift within widens, many questions pose themselves. Can collusion between different field-level nuclear commanders – each responsible for different parts of the weapon – result in the hijacking of one complete weapon? Could jihadist outsiders develop links with sympathetic custodial insiders?

Many vexing questions concern the weapons laboratories and production units. Given the sloppy work culture, it is hard to imagine that accurate records have been maintained over a quarter century of fissile-material production. So, can one be certain that small, but significant, quantities of highly enriched uranium have not made their way out? More ominously, religious fervor in these places has grown enormously over the last 30 years.

Imran Khan and AQ Khan. Liberalism!!!

Imran Khan and AQ Khan. Liberalism!!!

Nevertheless, we Pakistanis live in a state of denial. Even as suicide bombings escalate, criticism of religious extremists remains taboo. The overwhelming majority still attributes recent terrorist events – such as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – to the Musharraf government. But these delusions will eventually shatter. At some point we will surely see that ElBaradei’s warning
makes sense.

Pervez Hoodbhoy is chairman of the department of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and the author of “Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality.”

After an interesting discussion with fellow blogger and friend Rabia Shakoor of Grand Trunk Road , i thought that this theoretical piece will be helpful in understanding the concept of Banality of Evil which i have been continuously utilizing in my work on Fascism, Racism, esp lynching and Bengali and Balochi genocides. Rabia raises an important issue of “deniability”. I have utilized the concept of “silence” in this regards. The theoretician talks about “normalization”. This essentially is illusionary. All these in one way or another lead to deniability.  The point of further research will be how conscious is this denial?. Is it delusional? Opinions exist on the subject. Levinas for example doesn’t consider it unconscious. In a symposium on forgiveness in Paris he said “Its difficult to forgive some Germans , its difficult to forgive Heidegger”. Hannah Arendt on the other hand herself the victim of Holocaust has defended Heidegger. She had a relationship with him as well. Was Heidegger conscious of what he was doing? Was it routine? or Was he indifferent to all of it , or was he in denial. These are still unsolved issues. Wasnt the complicity of Heidegger in purging German academy it self an example of Banality of evil? or was the great philosopher genuinely unable to understand what was going around him??

Sherry

From the book Triumph of the Market

by Edward S. Herman

The concept of the banality of evil came into prominence following the publication of Hannah Arendt’s 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which was based on the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt’s thesis was that people who carry out unspeakable crimes, like Eichmann, a top administrator in the machinery of the Nazi death camps, may not be crazy fanatics at all, but rather ordinary individuals who simply accept the premises of their state and participate in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

Normalizing the Unthinkable

Doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on “normalization.” This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as “the way things are done.” There is usually a division of labor in doing and rationalizing the unthinkable, with the direct brutalizing and killing done by one set of individuals; others keeping the machinery of death (sanitation, food supply) in order; still others producing the implements of killing, or working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns). It is the function of defense intellectuals and other experts, and the mainstream media, to normalize the unthinkable for the general public. The late Herman Kahn spent a lifetime making nuclear war palatable (On Thermonuclear War, Thinking About the Unthinkable), and this strangelovian phoney got very good press. ~

In an excellent article entitled “Normalizing the unthinkable,” in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists of March 1984, Lisa Peattie described how in the Nazi death camps work was “normalized” for the long-term prisoners as well as regular personnel: “[P]rison plumbers laid the water pipe in the crematorium and prison electricians wired the fences. The camp managers maintained standards and orderly process. The cobblestones which paved the crematorium yard at Auschwitz had to be perfectly scrubbed.” Peattie focused on the parallel between routinization in the death camps and the preparations for nuclear war, where the “unthinkable” is organized and prepared for in a division of labor participated in by people at many levels. Distance from execution helps render responsibility hazy. “Adolph Eichmann was a thoroughly responsible person, according to his understanding of responsibility. For him, it was clear that the heads of state set policy. His role was to implement, and fortunately, he felt, it was never part of his job actually to have to kill anyone.”

Holocaust

Holocaust

Peattie noted that the head of MlT’s main military research lab in the 1960s argued that “their concern was development, not use, of technology.” Just as in the death camps, in weapons labs and production facilities, resources are allocated on the basis of effective participation in the larger system, workers derive support from interactions with others in the mutual effort, and complicity is obscured by the routineness of the work, interdependence, and distance from the results.
Peattie also pointed out how, given the unparalleled disaster that would follow nuclear war, “resort is made to rendering the system playfully, via models and games.” There is also a vocabulary developed to help render the unthinkable palatable: “incidents,” “vulnerability indexes,” “weapons impacts,” and “resource availability.” She doesn’t mention it, but our old friend “collateral damage,” used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, came out of the nukespeak tradition.

Slavery and Racism as Routine

When I was a boy, and an ardent baseball fan, I never questioned, or even noticed, that there were no Black baseball players in the big leagues. That was the way it was; racism was so routine that it took years of incidents, movement actions, reading, and real-world traumas to overturn my own deeply imbedded bias. Historically, this was a country in which human slavery was firmly institutionalized and routinized, with abolitionists in the pre-civil war years looked upon as violent extremists by the dominant elites and masses alike in the North.

The rationalizations for slavery were remarkable. A set of intellectuals arose in the South before 1860 that not only defended slavery, but argued its moral superiority on the grounds of its service to the slaves, to the disadvantage of the enslaving Whites! Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, … is a superb account of how U.S. science at the highest levels constructed and maintained a “scientific” case for racism over many decades by mainly innocent and not consciously contrived scientific charlataury. The ability to put aside cultural blinders is rare. And it appears that what money and power demand, science and technology will provide, however outrageous the end.

Mainstream history has also successfully put Black slavery and oppression in a tolerable light. A powerful article by the late Nathan I. Huggins, “The Deforming Mirror of Truth: Slavery and the Master Narrative of American History, ” in the Winter 1991 issue of the Radical History Review, shows well how the “master narrative” in historiography has normalized Black slavery and post-1865 racism. Slavery was a “tragic error” (like the Vietnam War), rather than a rational and institutional choice; it has been marginalized as an aside or tangent, rather than recognized as a central and integral feature of U.S. history; and it has been portrayed as an error in process of rectification in a progressive evolution, rather than a terrible permanent scar that helps explain the Southern Strategy, the current attack on affirmative action, and the enlarging Black ghetto disaster of today.

Profits end Jobs in Death

Normalization of the unthinkable comes easily when money, status, power, and jobs are at stake. Companies and workers can always be found to manufacture poison gases, napalm, or instruments of torture, and intellectuals will be dredged up to justify their production and use. The rationalizations are hoary with age: government knows best, ours is a strictly defensive effort, or, if it wasn’t me somebody else would do it. There is also the retreat to ignorance, real, cultivated, or feigned. Consumer ignorance of process is important. Dr. Samuel Johnson avowed that we would kill a cow rather than forego eating meat, but visits to slaughterhouses have made quite a few people into vegetarians. A cover story of Newsweek some years ago, illustrating U.S. consumption of meat by showing livestock walking into a human mouth, elicited many protests-people don’t like to be reminded that steaks are obtained from slaughtered animals; they like to imagine that they are manufactured in factories, possibly out of biomass.

The bureaucratization of the use of animals for human ends is a large and controversial subject, but the potential for abuse is continuously realized as stock raisers, slaughterhouses, trappers, the Pentagon, the Animal Damage Control Agency, chemical, medical and cosmetic researchers, and academic entrepreneurs search for ways to improve the bottom line or fill in niches of “knowledge” that somebody will pay for. At the University of Pennsylvania a few years ago there was a Head Injury Lab, funded by the government, in which baboons were subjected to head injuries in the alleged interest of helping us (i.e., creatures with souls, the culmination of the evolutionary process, and the realization of the purpose of the cosmos). The lab was invaded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who among other things took away some records and films. The documentary which PETA made out of these materials, which showed these intelligent creatures having their heads smashed and rendered into zombies, also gave clear evidence that official rules of treatment of lab animals were violated, and, most important, that the participants’ attitudes toward the animals were insensitive and ugly. It was not hard to think of death camps watching the documentary of this lab in action. Yet the scientific community at Penn not only defends the use of animals against outside critics with passion and apparent unanimity, but has never to my knowledge admitted in public that the Head Injury Lab got out of hand.

In building weapons, contractors and the Pentagon have become quite sophisticated in spreading business over many states, to reach a critical mass of jobs, profits and legislators/media by congressional district to maximize the lobbying base for funding. Jobs are jobs, whether building schools or Peacekeeper Missiles or cutting down thousand-year-old redwood trees. I was slightly nauseated during the Vietnam War era by Boeing ads soliciting workers for its helicopter plant, touting itself as an “equal opportunity employer (EOE).” Maybe the Dachau camp management was also an EOE, for jobs that needed to be done and for which there was an effective demand.

Normalizing Shooting Human Fish in the Persian Gulf Barrel

Imperial Democracy in Iraq

Imperial Democracy in Iraq

In the Persian Gulf War of 1991 Uncle Sam was an EOE, and our boys and girls over there were doing their assigned jobs, repelling naked aggression in another Operation Just Cause. The war was forced upon us by Saddam Hussein’s rejection of the UN’s and “allies” insistence that he disgorge Kuwait, much as Bush “plainly” did not want war (Anthony Lewis).

Having made it Operation Just Cause No. 17, and a game with winners and losers, we could reasonably root for us-the moral force-to win. We were also defending Kuwait, and if once again the party being “saved” was “destroyed,” well, this was not our fault. Besides, there is the “principle,” of non-aggression, to which we are utterly devoted.

The media could thus focus on our brave boys, girls, generals, and officials to tell us all about their plans, moves, reactions, and miscellaneous thoughts. We could watch them in action as they took off, landed, ate, joked, and expressed their feelings on the enemy, weather, and folks back home in the Big PX. They were part of an extended family, doing a dirty job, but with clean bombs and with the moral certainty of a just cause.

The point was not often made that the enemy was relatively defenseless, and in somewhat the same position as the “natives” colonized, exterminated, and enslaved by the West in past centuries by virtue of muskets and machine guns … Our technical superiority reflected our moral superiority. If it all seemed like shooting human fish in a barrel, one must keep in mind that we were dealing with lesser creatures (grasshoppers, two-legged animals, cockroaches), people who don’t value life as much as we do, who allowed “another Hitler” to rule over them, and who stood in our way.

One of the effects of high-tech warfare, as well as the exclusive focus on “our” casualties, plus censorship (official and self), is that the public is spared the sight of burning flesh. That enemy casualties were given great prominence during the Vietnam War is one of the great, and now institutionalized, myths of that era. Morley Safer’s showing a GI applying a cigarette lighter to a Vietnamese thatched hut is used and referred to repeatedly as illustrating media boldness at that time because other cases would be hard to find. It caused CBS and Safer a lot of trouble (and he has been trying to make up for this sin ever since). Enormous government pressure and flak from other sources caused the media to provide grisly photos of enemy victims only with the greatest caution, and very infrequently, especially in light of the grisly reality. Capital intensive warfare in itself makes for distancing the public from the slaughter of mere gooks and Arabs. This is helpful in normalizing the unspeakable and unthinkable.

On February 5, 1991, the Philadelphia Inquirer carried an Associated Press dispatch by Alexander Higgins, “Marriage finds new expression in gulf: Honey, pass the bombs.” It is a little romance of a newly married couple, located at an air base in Saudi Arabia-and therefore regrettably obliged to sleep in separate tents-whose function is to load bombs on A-10 attack jets. It is a personal interest story, of two people and their relationship, with a job to do, in an unromantic setting. A fine study in the routinization of violence, of the banality of evil and the ways it is impressed on the public.

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Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

Book Cover BoE

Book Cover BoE