Shaheryar Ali

 

Understanding the issue of Gay liberation in Islamic Republic is a theoretically difficult and problematic notion for a variety of reasons!  Whilst the level of historical development as with other post-colonial states, ensures incomplete modernization, the existing union with international capital, forces a post modern sensitivity through out urban centers of Islamic Republic. It is still theoretically problematic to assert the existence of either “Gay” community or Gay liberation in the country. The pattern of “Men Having Sex with Men” and their women counterparts remains largely “pre-Modern” in the sense which Foucault elaborates as an “aberration” rather than “specie” (as is the case in industrialized societies). The pattern which exists mostly in the Islamic Republic takes form of Man/boy, Senior/junior and Macho/effeminate polarities and enjoys a level of social acceptability in almost all parts of Islamic Republic especially outside major urban centers but it could be dominant pattern even in these. The practice does not seem to induce “gay label” on the participants, which is especially true for the dominant polarity (man/senior/Macho). A common binary opposition which has been defined in these contexts is the one based on “performance” (Active vs Passive) where the “active partner” appears to enjoy a level of societal approval as this role is understood to be enshrined in the “Masculine identity” in many parts of the country. This also seems to suggest the “gay” label is only extended to receiving partner. This is the argument that one listens most from the urban gay activists but have always been a problematic notion for me to understand. Urdu has no word for “Homosexual” or “gay” nor does any of the regional language. “gando” the word commonly referred to in this context denotes some thing else. It does not strictly or exclusively denotes a passive partner. In Pre modern pattern “bacha” and Londa” are more important in this context. One can argue the extant of specificity these terms have as londa in vernacular denotes simply a “lad”but has been used in sexual context as well. Mir the foremost Master of Urdu poetry said “ Mir bare saada hein jis sabab bimar hue! Ussi Attar ke “londe” se dawa lete hein! Moreover there are no words for “Top” in in Urdu as such apart from words coined by urban chatters. Which represent more of constructed jargon than language! Language has been understood as “house of being” so I am not very convinced about this binary opposition. The trap here is too fall for what West has taught us.  The discourse on these matters is heavily laden with orientalist connotations. What is very conveniently forgotten In this regard is the fact that the same sex relations historically were more socially acceptable in East than in West. The Baghdad which is frequently alluded too by our moslem romantics was not only rich in philosophy science and Jihad but also in hedonism. Mutawakil had herm of thousands of castrated Roman lads and one Caliph had to explain to a visiting Mufti who was astonished to see his highness surrounded by cute youth that “he has never untied his trouser cord for what has been forbidden”. The European travelers to Ottoman empire were horrified to observe the openness of same sex relation in baths of Consentinople. Europe of middle ages remembered the Arabs and muslims as “sodomites”. Literature is full of such episodes. One ironic example is that of a Austrian lad who went to a handsome Turk prisoner of war and was utterly disappointed on his refusal failing to understand how a Turk not be a sodomite! Kohat observed frequent same sex wedding in Raj. Photographs exist in private collections. The “modern gay scene” is limited to only a handful of people mostly exposed to European society and westernized or semi westernized families. They are not representative of most of the “People who have sex with Same Gender” (PSSG) in the Islamic Republic. In absence of gay community the efforts to “liberate gays” might reduce the “social immunity” which a wide number of PSSG seem to have in Islamic Republic.

The so called pride event in USA embassy has in my opinion exposed these people to risk of death, social alienation and torture. The behavior which is indigenous will now become “western disease” which needs to be eradicated. Any one who is properly integrated in Pakistani society (not the isolated modern or semi modern Islands in Islamabad Lahore and Karachi) knows that homoerotic behavior is a significant part of local discourse and is not noticed or bothered much unless it crosses over from its designated sphere ie It is not worn on ones face or pumped up as a pride event.  Rather is often a matter of laugh, taunt or dislike by friends and usually does not lead to much serious consequences. (Apart from few cases in recent past which are result of more Gay visibility and emergent homophobia). The strategy of modern gay liberation in a society where modern lifestyles have not been universally accepted can be counterproductive. The orientalist approach in this regard must be discarded. The movement must be integrated with movement to secularize the country. The queer activists need to integrate themselves to the wider political struggle in the country. They need to be part of the rank and file of the resistance movement.  Winning the respect and acceptance of their colleges and comrades they need to introduce the agenda of sexual liberation in the emerging political leadership of the country. Not only this, they need to become part of this leadership.

The example of 20th century has explained to us the limitations of the identity politics in general. Whilst African communists and ANC were able to end apartheid in South Africa at level of the bourgeois state, the segregation in the society has not been abolished. The overwhelming number of Africans still lives in abject poverty without any access to the social standards which a White South African enjoys. Xenophobia has emerged as a dangerous consequence of the discontent which the “liberated” Africans feel. Same could be said about USA where the historic civil rights movement apparently ended the legal segregation but failed miserably to achieve social integration. An African American has become president of USA but the socio-economic and health indicators of the most advance nation of the world demonstrate a divergence which is startling to say the least! The poverty and health indicators of parts of USA are comparable to African states. African Americans are still more likely to have no access to health care and are more likely to be in prisons than the white Americans.

Though Gay rights have been granted in Europe and USA, Homophobia in the society effectively nullifies these gains. Homosexuals still face discrimination, exclusion and violence in USA and Europe. The most problematic aspect of this is the fact that these legal reforms tend to discriminate on a class basis. Where more socially advantaged classes seem to get benefit from these reforms but those from under privileged classes suffer exclusion. From the perspective of a social activist who is interested in emancipation it presents itself as an existential dilemma , where one tends to stand at the same point where he started before the “victory”. The criticism we are offering to the “liberal” model here is frequently misunderstood and sometimes described deliberately by our liberal friends as “deference” of the Question of Rights! This essentially is not the case!  This is essentially is a criticism of the political approach which deferred the question of “Human emancipation” indefinitely in favor of certain legal protections which practically have favored a small minority of oppressed communities thus resulting in actual increase in discrimination and social segregation. This is a criticism of the fragmentation of progressive movement which plays one oppressed community against another! Jews vs Blacks Vs Hispanics in USA.  Women vs Gays etc and favors the dominant sections of society to effectively remain in control. This is the criticism of the approach which sees “reforms’ as the endpoint of the struggle rather than emancipation. Reforms are certainly desirable and should be encouraged but only in a context of a holistic political agenda which seeks to unite people in struggle for socio economic emancipation or we will keep having “victories” without effect and ‘changes” without change!

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Though it has become a general fashion in the liberal intelligentsia to curse Marxist analysis , it’s simply astonishing to note  that it has been very accurate in explaining the complex perspectives totally missed and unresolved by liberal analysis. Global Economic Crisis and Arab Spring are just two most outstanding examples, while BBC published a leading middle east expert testifying that Egypt will not follow Tunis on the road to revolution , the masses were flexing their muscles as Marxists were telling us since last year. While a lot as been said about the politics in the Islamic Republic , the text unfortunately has a Derridian flavour of  ever “said” is “unsaid”. Whatever has been said for past few years by our great anchors, intellectuals, key opinion leaders turned out to be simply rubbish. One really feels in awe about the job description of these great men and women who get paid in million for saying and writing rubbish. On the contrary it’s again astonishing that since the day PPP government took office , Pakistani Marxists have been very successful in explaining the complex perspective with a relative ease. They were accurate in their description of nature of judicial movement, the futility of black revolution , the coalition between PPP and PML N, the imperialist nature of war on terror ,and the ” relationship of mutual deception between USA and Pakistan military establishment. The parent descendant relationship between establishment and Islamists,  the sharpening of national question by establishment etc. Now that every one is talking about the great vision of Imran Khan i had the pleasure to read this great piece on him by leading Marxist intellectual Lal Khan. The article explains in concrete terms the phenomenon of Imran Khan and so-called civil society. If one reads carefully it will be a treat as it provides one with tools needed to analyze the fluid political perspective of Islamic Republic. Whats he says explains Khan superbly:

Imran Khan is no Oedipus in this crime infested politics of a rotten state and system. His odd admixture of Islamic crusades, western liberalism and a redundant nationalism can only add to the prevailing political confusion. The ideology of Pakistani national chauvinism he propagates withered away in the paddy fields of East Bengal drenched in blood forty years ago. The justice he vows to impart is unaffordable in market economics. The corruption he decries is not the cause of the crisis but the need and product of debilitated capitalism. Black money and corruption run the economic cycle that is prodding the country. The British parliamentary system he espouses is still a monarchy and increasingly facing revulsion by the British masses. The Pan-Islamism he idealises is in contradiction with the Pakistan nation state that he harps upon. The American police system he wants to impose has bred more crime than anywhere in the advanced world. The US he wants to befriend on an “equal basis” will not stop leeching off Pakistan as long as capitalism exists here. (LK)

Shaheryar Ali

 

Pakistan: Passions without truths – the myth of Imran Khan

Lal Khan. www.Marxist.com

It is often said that history repeats itself, but the truth is that it never does so in exactly the same way; it repeats itself but on on a higher plane. The general consciousness of the masses in any society is neither static nor eternal. It is in a state of constant change, flux and motion. Betrayals and defeats push it back but with the new resurgence of the class struggle it rises to new heights.

However, the temperament and moods of different classes in society can vary according to the conditions and the epoch through which it is passing. In general terms the social psychology of the middle classes or the petit bourgeoisie is empirical and suffers from bouts of impatience reflecting its social and economic base. This, in times of crisis, puts it in a state of permanent insecurity, discontent and unrest, swinging from one extreme to the other – trying to ape the bourgeoisie in ordinary times and jump into the proletarian bandwagon in revolutionary situations.

While the toiling classes can endure hardships for long periods of time and from an empirical outlook sometimes they seem to be infinitely dormant and docile. There can be decades of lull and yet these working classes can explode into volcanic eruptions that can transform the politico-economic systems and change the course of history through revolutionary insurrections. Such periods are historical exceptions. Most bourgeois experts and intellectuals cannot contemplate these tremors in advance as they are mentally blocked from doing so by their philosophy of logical positivism and methods of so-called pragmatism.

At the present moment in time, apart from some sporadic struggles, Pakistan is passing through a period of relative lull as far as the mass movement is concerned, yet society is immersed in a terrible social and economic crisis that has pulverised it. This contradictory state of affairs gives rise to a political vacuum where there is no visible force on the wider political horizon that can present an economic and political way out of this misery and distress. Nature abhors vacuum, however. Hence we see peculiar phenomena that arise to fill this vacuum with rhetoric that touches upon the burning problems but has no real solutions to avert the impending catastrophe. The ostentatious nature of the petit bourgeoisie or the so-called civil society makes them feverishly attracted to these “liberators”. As a class it is the petit bourgeoisie that provides the social base for religious fundamentalism, vulgar liberalism, national chauvinism and other metaphysical and sentimentalist tendencies in periods of social stagnation. The latest episode of this series of petit bourgeois binges is the “rise” of Imran Khan.

He has been hyped up by the media and sections of the ruling oligarchy and the state as a substitute, in a situation where yet another attempt by the ruling classes to attack the working classes through a democratic façade is being foisted onto the masses. After the failure of direct rule and the loss of the cohesion of the army’s apparatus that would permit it to impose its rule once more, this weary and weak attempt to salvage a redundant system, shows the pathetic state of Pakistan’s ruling elite.

Looking at the democratic political circus in Pakistan one is reminded of the celebrated words of the 18th century British conservative politician Edmund Burke: “The tribe of vulgar politicians are the lowest of our species. There is no trade so vile and mechanical as the government in their hands. Virtue is not their habit. They are out of themselves in any course of conduct recommended only by conscience and glory. The calculators compute them out of their senses. The jesters and buffoons shame them out of everything grand and elevated. Littleness is the object and in means, to them appears soundness and sobriety.”

Imran Khan is no Oedipus in this crime infested politics of a rotten state and system. His odd admixture of Islamic crusades, western liberalism and a redundant nationalism can only add to the prevailing political confusion. The ideology of Pakistani national chauvinism he propagates withered away in the paddy fields of East Bengal drenched in blood forty years ago. The justice he vows to impart is unaffordable in market economics. The corruption he decries is not the cause of the crisis but the need and product of debilitated capitalism. Black money and corruption run the economic cycle that is prodding the country. The British parliamentary system he espouses is still a monarchy and increasingly facing revulsion by the British masses. The Pan-Islamism he idealises is in contradiction with the Pakistan nation state that he harps upon. The American police system he wants to impose has bred more crime than anywhere in the advanced world. The US he wants to befriend on an “equal basis” will not stop leeching off Pakistan as long as capitalism exists here.

He is playing the part of a right-wing populist trying to console a beleaguered people with the rhetoric of reforms that the system has no room for. The Balouch and other oppressed nationalities he wants to negotiate and patch up a deal with, have  since long rejected the two nation theory that Imran Khan is trying to resurrect as its new Messiah. He may be the establishment’s black horse, but who can be in the ring without the blessings of the hierarchy of the state.

The Chinese alternative of time tested friendship is a hoax. Whenever have they made a policy not coherent with their interests? China is today the biggest exporter of capital. And capital is invested to extract profit, not to be eulogised. The workers’ rights he talks about can only be slashed in the present day investment that is capital intensive. Revolutionary parties and leaders are not built by media “exposure” and pampering, but conversely the revolutionary victories are snatched from the jaws of the hostile and belligerent media by rousing the masses against it.

Imran Khan is offering everything to everybody, that means that the status quo is retained and the rich will get richer and the poor will be impoverished even more. That is the only possible fate under capitalism in decline. But the most insidious aspect of the mobs around Khan is that as in the lawyers’ movement the ideological differentiation is being scorned. The ideological divide between the left and right is not a theoretical synopsis. It stems from the nature of the class divisions in society and the struggle for the surplus of labour that is in the last analysis the struggle of life and death. As long as class exploitation exists the ideological fight will continue to rage on. It is a line drawn in the blood of the generations of the toilers. Imran khan is rousing the petit bourgeoisie with passions sans truth. Once the mass movement erupts again, no deception will suffice. Class war will have to be fought to the finish.

This letter was written to the editor of PTH and my dear friend Raza Rumi. He was kind enough to publish an edited version of this letter.

The basic aim of this letter was to highlight the fact that intellectual and progressive history shows that Fascist, Far-Right and Conservatives have over time built a highly offensive system of “witch-hunt” against those who have stood up for equality. The stereotype was to brand every one who stood up against the system as “Communist”, “Jew” or “Homosexual”. More often all these were part of a wider “stereotype” which in United States where even Liberals were called “commies”. Hilliary Clinton for examples states in her autobiography how she was slandered as a “commie” in deep south. Pinko is one such derogatory term used by American Right against progressive and civil right activist many of those lost their life and honor during McCarthy era. “Pinko-fag” is a term one often hears in USA while talking to bigots. The point of the letter was should a publication which claims itself to be progressive and secular-humanist and liberal allow language of American Right especially one associated with hate crimes during McCarthy era. Weather we should rise above “Niggers”,”Pinkos””commies” and “fagots” or we should celebrate one of the greatest “witch-hunting” by keep associating with it. Its neither about “communism” nor about “homosexuality” , any one who has read history knows McCarthy and Red Scare targeted people who were not all communists. Arthur Miller is perhaps the only writer who has  truly captured the mania of Red Scare and witch hunt in his remarkable and celebrated classic Play “The Crucible”. Its my failure , my personal failure that i couldn’t convey to my friend that i only didnt wanted to live in a “Salem”

Shaheryar Ali

Dear Raza Rumi,

After reading one of the articles on Pak Tea House I have been forced to write this letter of protest to you. The reasons are my great personal attachment to you and Pak Tea House Blog-zine I have always considered you not only a dear friend but also a mentor and spiritual companion in my quest for truth. The importance Pak Tea House has in my life is clear from this simple fact that I wrote my first ever “public article” for this internet publication. I am neither a professional writer nor I intend to be one I like some other people who can be called “dysfunctional neurotics” or “impractical Romantics” etc write only for one reason to voice our conscientious opinion. We neither claim “neutrality” or “impartiality” nor do we believe in “hegemonizing” the opinion. Our commitment to our values could be judged from the fact that the first target of our criticism is “Self”, in my case you are aware that I have always targeted intellectual expression of the “my self”, my country, my religion, my gender and my sexuality. I have been vocal critic of the things which according to the essentialist point of view are very nature of my being. I have been a vocal critic of Pakistani nationalism, despite the fact that I grew up with green flag on my chest and that I love this soil more than anything else in my life, I was born in a muslim family and have a deep emotional attachment to holy family, sufi mystics and other Islamic traditions but I have also been a passionate supporter of those who want to subject Islam to a libertarian critique. I am classified biologically as a “Male” who have XY genotype, but I reject the essentialist notion of Gender in line of philosophers like Bulleh Shah “Kanjri ban.ne meri izzet na ghati , mein ten ach ke yaar manana” Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. I am a “homosexual” but I reject the modern “Gay” label and associate my self with “Queer Movement”

The reasons for elaborating my intellectual history are to show our firm commitment to “Freedom of Expression” and “Right to Dissent”. Having said that, I come to the issue at hand; Mr Yassir Latif Hamdani’s latest article which has been written in response to a critical piece by “Freethinker” . I was shocked to read it. Now , its not that I have no expectations from Mr Hamdani when it comes to petty offenses, the reasons of my shock and outrage are that such a violently bigoted “hate speech” has been allowed at Pak Tea House. I here want to make one thing perfectly clear that Mr Hamdani’s right to express himself remains inalienable and non negotiable. The debate of “Freedom of expression” and “Hate Speech” is an ongoing debate and this letter is not the proper medium to revise it. Pak Tea House Blog is not a “free-publication”, it exercises an “editorial control” which means that it recognizes “Offence factor” or “The Harm Factor” and regulates speech which it considers either harmful or offensive. When Pak Tea House is exercising editorial control, it becomes a matter of “intellectual freedom”, how that control is being asserted. The generally accepted Progressive/Liberal position is to fight bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender discrimination at “social level”, at work place, offices, schools, churches, mosques and publications. The point is raising of consciousness at mass level to bring about “social –change”. The consensus is of protecting the “marginalized” groups, blacks, Jews, gays, transgender, etc for this the progressive establishments adopt “Affirmative actions” and “Pluralistic settings”. The issue of “state regulation” of this offensive speech is controversial amongst Left/Liberal/Civil Rights lobbies and activists. The more advance positions have been to resist any “state control” even if it seems to be protecting “marginalized community”. Because state control has the potential of being abused. This can be elaborated by the position of “American Civil Liberties Union”, which may occasionally plead for a “Neo Nazi” hate mongerer when he has been detained by authority but it will at social level fight hate mongering. It itself will never use its platform to spread hate; will never use offensive bigoted language. Noam Chomsky will sign a petition condemning removal from services of a French Professor who is Holocaust denier but he himself vehemently oppose anti Semitism, holocaust denial and will never use his website or articles to engage in “hate-mongering”. In this way issue of “freedom of expression” and “Hate mongering” are put in perspective. It’s fought at social level, at intellectual level, in streets but state is not allowed to restrict speech.

This principle has been violated at PTH. Mr. Hamdani’s article is titled “Brownies for Pinkos: Freethinking Paki Style”. Being a philosophy student “language” is my obsession and “etymology” my Passion Now this “Pinkos” have a very special significance for us “Commies”, “fags”, “sissies” whose genders is so “indeterminate” that we be addressed as “His/Her”. The term is literally drenched in blood. First appearing in Time Magazine, in 1926. Reference sources will talk bout its contemporary use as a “derogatory term used for those with sympathies with “communism”. A little detail will shed more light: The politics of colour. Those who used and popularized this term are those who saw “communism” in every emancipatory movement. But for “communist” the favored term was “Red”. I will remind you of the Spanish Civil War where General Franco and his “patriotic nationalists” read “Fascists” gave the Slogan “Better Dead than Red”. For them “Red” was every one who was on other side, poets, intellectuals, liberals, Anarchists, Socialists, Trotskyites. And than it all had a complete package “Jews, Fags Commies”. Communism was a “Jewish conspiracy” and their method to destroy a nation was to spread evil, atheism and homosexuality. By making the honour loving brave men of the nation “Homosexuals” the Jews/commies were destroying the nation. You remember Lorca, the Spanish poet, who Neruda laments in his poem on Spain. In Andalusia when he was captured the great patriotic men of Catholic non violent morality tortured him. He was asked to bow and say he was a “communist”. He was shot. Two shots were fired on his butt because he was a “Homosexual sissy” as well.

Now leave these Reds or commies aside, let’s come to Pinkos. Now in United States, those sissies who were not communists because they criticized USSR and totalitarianism but because they use to talk about “Peace”, “non violence”, ”Civil Rights” those long haired, hippies, sociopaths, they had to be commies so they coined the term “Pinkos”. Pink being the lighter shade of “Red” of communism and Pink also the colour of Gay Liberation. Of course who could forget Adolf Hitler the great made us wear “Pink Triangles” before killing us in Gas chambers? Now for American Right the Liberals were all commies and fags. A complete stereotype was created.

The great Time Magazine who coined this term used it in a specific perspective. Joseph J Firebaugh in his “Vocabulary of Time Magazine” says “Term has been used along with “Parlor Pink” for people with Left sympathies with a special implication of “effeteness”.

Now this “effeteness”, the Latin root of this word is “effetus”, fetus, fruitful, “More at Feminine” Impotent, sissy, faggy, Fruit” is yet another term for us “sissy boys” in American High schools.

From Time Magazine we come to Wall Street Journal , they used this term in 1920 , they talked about the “complete package” used the word “Pink” while describing supporter of progressive politician La Follete:

“Visionaries, ne’er do wells, parlor pinks, reds, hyphenates [Americans with divided allegiance], soft handed agriculturalists and working men who have never seen a shovel” so coming to point “Sissy Lefties”

Speaking of bigotry how could we forget another hero of Mr Hamdani , Richard Nixon , who using the same bigoted and sexist line , used this during Senate campaign against Helen Douglas , its one of the most infamous usage of this word “She is Pink right Down to her underwear”. The term was used most frequently during the worse times of United State History known as “The Red Scare” and McCarthy Era” where many Pinkos were tortured, killed, their lives ruined. Ku Klux Klan burned many long haired pinko sissies who stood up for Black Rights

The great Term was also being used In Apartheid South Africa, the ANC after all was “commie” and “Pinko” How many “Pinkos” were murdered and tortured there I leave it to you.

The real assault on the “Pink” happened in Germany with Homosexuals being killed en mass during Holocaust .They were asked to wear “Pink Triangles” to assert their “homosexuality” and “sissy-ness”.

Now let’s come to “Paki”. The great Pakistani “Patriot” Mr Hamdani uses this overtly “Racist” word. “Paki” has been declared by courts in UK to be “racist”. Just 2 days back Prince Harry made a public apology for using this term. Yahoo News says:

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince Harry apologised Sunday for any offence caused after a self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a Paki and telling another he looked like a “raghead”. Politicians condemned his remarks and welcomed his apology, but Muslim youth organisation the Ramadan Foundation said the comments were “sickening”. The Ministry of Defence said it would not tolerate “inappropriate behaviour” and Harry’s commanding officer would look into his remarks. Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper said the clips, posted on its website, were made in 2006 when the prince was still an officer cadet. footage begins as Harry is waiting with his platoon in an airport departure lounge for a flight to a training exercise in Cyprus. Touring the room with a video camera as his colleagues snooze, he spots a colleague of South Asian ethnic origin and says: “Anybody else around here?… Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed.“”Paki” is a racist term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.

Harry’s office issued an apology, but insisted the prince had used the term without malice. “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” a spokesman said. Cabinet minister John Denham condemned Harry’s language, saying: “People have changed their attitudes, people realise how offensive it is and I think the fact he has apologised so quickly shows that he’s recognised it.” David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Harry’s comments were “completely unacceptable” and it was “right” he had apologised, but did not call for him to be reprimanded” Sun, 11 Jan, 2009

This is the normal response to “bigotry” which I feel PTH has failed to show. What I want to remind here is all this fuss is created in UK where this remark “Paki” was uttered by Prince Harry for a friend in a situation which could be dismissed as a “joke”. Prince also pretends to call Queen in the video. But all this was not enough to let him off the hook. What is more important is that all this “did not happen because the person who was called “Paki” complained. He never did. He never was offended. This is also not about “discrimination” because the person who was called “Paki” was a cadet at Sandhurst academy, he Mr Ahmad Raza Khan was Prince Harry’s colleague and friend and was one of the best cadets and was presented with “Overseas Sword” by Queen Elizabeth herself in 2006 for being the best cadet. So there was no question of “legal discrimination”, even than British Society forced Prince Harry to apologize publicly. It was all about Language.

I don’t want to go into the academic merits of Mr Hamdani’s article and his Gandhi bashing. What I find ironic is a man who builds this case on the premise that Gandhi was a “sexist”, “Racist” “fascist” and “castist” thus masking his bigotry and communalism in Liberal ethos and impeccable English will use terminology as overtly sexist, racist and homophobic as “Pinkos” and “Paki”?? The most outrageous part is the nauseously sexist assault on “free thinker”, Knowing very well “freethinke’s” views on Gender and sexuality [His blog] and also knowing “free thinker” is a boy , even than he writes “Freethinker wants to prove “himself/herself” a freethinker” This “him/her shit goes on. Now my dear friend he has seen “freethinker’s” blog, he knows where he is hitting. Freethinker , my self and many others consider the essentialist notion of Gender a very oppressive social construct. The modern discipline of Gender theory is based on this concept. The whole discipline is of course of “pinkos”, feminists n faggots. Its no wonder the traditional Vanguard of all reaction in west Pope Benedict had recently condemned the whole academic discipline of Gender theory. It all may sound not very appealing to you but my dear friend people like us who grew up struggling with issues of gender and sexuality, who have been bullied at schools for being “sissy” and “fags” pushed to the point of suicide and nervous break down this is the matter of our life and death our freedom and liberty. What respectability English language grants to bigotry. This “Pinkos” and “Paki” , “Him/Her” is not very different to us than “Hijra”, “khusra” etc. Cant our ideas be vehemently criticized without judging us for who we sleep with, how we talk and walk and do we wear lipstick? I asked Mr Omair Raza to write for PTH, I was under impression that discussions will be on issues and ideas and not on our race, religion, gender and sexuality.

With this sort of bigotry being allowed what happens that we loose our intellectual freedom, let me give you an example. The techniques by which Mr Gandhi becomes “castist”, “sexists”,” fascist” and “racist” , every known man in history could be shown to be. I for example if uses this methodology could write about Voltaire being racist. If Hindu nationalists want to write on PTH about Prophet of Islam, with respect to Islam and Woman emancipation and sexuality, we all know the age of Hazrat Ayesha mentioned in reputed Islamic texts when the marriage was consumed. Jesus can be demonstrated to be a virulent racist and hate mongerer . What moral justification we have to “control” this hate speech and not control one which favors Pakistani muslim stra8 guy’s bigotry against other marginalized groups??

What should I expect after my post on Homosexuality at PTH that a fellow writer writes “Brownies for Commie Fagot”??

There is a responsibility to protect marginalized groups at work place, clubs etc United Nations has recently passed a resolution to end discrimination against Homosexuals and Transgender people. Criticism and racist –sexist slandering are two very different things. I have been taught to stand up to and oppose bigotry and that I will do. I only expected that PTH editorial policy would have followed normal protective mechanisms against racist and sexist offenses. If PTH chooses to keep allowing racist/sexist and derogatory language in general especially to be used by Writers against fellow writers merely for intellectual difference, I will be forced to consider it as “Abuse” and in that case will not be able to keep associating my self with PTH. My mother taught me that one can criticize Malcom X’s violence without calling him “Nigger” and I think our views can be criticized without us being “Pinkos” “Pakis” and “commies”

I am sure you will understand my pain. At the personal level I am feeling very uneasy after writing this knowing that you personally are not for all this, I want to apologize for any pain and letdown my letter may have caused you. But Raza I will be not be a party to Abuse.

I am waiting for your reply and action. I thank you and Pak Tea House for giving me chance to write and for grooming my thought. For that I will always be in debt.

Yours Faithfully

Sherry

[Shaheryar Ali]

“India has been unique in the sense that Left has been predominant in its “establishment”. For a long time, the ruling bourgeoisie kept raising red banner exciting many “third way” leftist throughout the globe. Nehru emerged as a leading figure of post war world history. Communists of India plagued by their theoretical incapacity kept swining between Nehru and Anarchism. India was partitioned , the communists supporting it, a decision that resulted in destruction of the progressive moslem cadre not only in Pakistan but also in India. The communist parties of India can be accused of every thing apart of being “communist” , but in recent times, what they did in Nandigram is unique in history of left. Weather its “liberal capitalist phase” of Stalinism or overt Fascism, i am not sure. Rajesh Tyagi gives an interesting perspective on the “International Marxist Website”Nandigram

India: Nandigram – the Waterloo of the revisionists

By Rajesh Tyagi in Delhi
Friday, 07 December 2007
The coalition government ruling the province of West Bengal in India, deceptively coloured in Red, under the banner of the ‘Left Front’ ‑ a block of four parties, dominated by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has been the vehicle for carrying out so-called “liberal” bourgeois policies. Under the regime of this Left Front, West Bengal has more than ever before become a convenient playground for the adventures of domestic and foreign capitalists. Time and again the Ministers in this government have assured the capitalists that the province of West Bengal is the safest haven on earth for capitalist investments. All the four parties in this “Left” coalition consider the national (“liberal”) bourgeoisie as an ally in their “revolution”, the so-called National Democratic Revolution. But just as this Indian bourgeoisie has itself been under the tutelage of world capitalism so have its allies in the Left Front. Rattan Tata, one of the top Indian capitalists, once said that West Bengal under the Left Front is the best place for investment. This was not a casual remark, but one based on an assessment of the role of this government. In the name of National Democratic Revolution, these parties have long since severed their ties with working class struggles. Instead, they have become proponents of “tripartite settlements” between labour and capital with the mediation of the government, i.e. open class collaborationist policies pursued by this Left Front.Protest
Since 1991, after the proclamation of the introduction of a “liberal” regime of capitalism in India, the direct domination of foreign finance in the economic life of the country has become even more of a reality than in the past and all petty bourgeois opposition to it has been transformed into a farce. Efforts of the West Bengal government have since then been focused on facilitating direct and indirect foreign investment in the province. This “Left Front” has therefore to show, more than others, its zeal in the service of capitalism in general, to assure the masters of world capitalism that the red banner it holds is nothing but a smokescreen, behind which stand the cousins of Gorbachev.

While the other local bourgeois governments, including the national government, were still proceeding at a snail’s pace to concretise the projects of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ), the capitalist hubs for the intense exploitation of labour and thereby the generation of super-profits, this “Left Front” has been taking the lead to prove itself the most deserving promoter of capitalism.

Recently, the West Bengal government burnt its fingers in Singur, where it had unsuccessfully attempted the forced acquisition of peasant land to hand it over to the Tata group of companies for the construction of an auto plant, but had to withdraw ‑ a volte face ‑ in the face of mass resistance. Now, following on the heels of Singur, it has provoked another tragedy in Nandigram, where it entered into an agreement with the Salim Group of Indonesia, permitting it to set up its SEZ for a chemical plant in East Medinipur in West Bengal on about 14,000 acres of land, which would become 35,000 acres in the future, as was planned by the Salim Group. Most of this land is under cultivation of small peasants and it is fertile multi-crop land. The place was deliberately chosen by the company for its proximity to the Haldia refinery to save on costs of transportation of petroleum and chemicals. The West Bengal government “won” this project competing with nine other state governments, after the multinational company selected West Bengal as the best place for such a huge investment.

It would not be out of place to mention that the Salim Group of companies is not an ordinary corporate firm but is the business cartel of one Sudono Salim, the right-hand man of Suharto, ex-president of Indonesia. This is not the first venture of this group in West Bengal; it has a track record of other contracts with the West Bengal government which already had led to controversy. Apart from the Special Economic Zone (which is a 50-50 joint venture with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation) it has also been assigned the construction of the 100km long 100m wide Eastern Link Expressway and the construction of a four-lane road bridge over the Haldi River, from Haldia to Nandigram. The proposed bridge would provide a link between Haldia and the proposed chemical SEZ in Nandigram. The BarasatRaichak expressway and the Raichak-Kukrahati bridge, will connect Haldia to National Highway 34. This decision to award the contract for the expressway to the Salim Group also led to controversy, since the preliminary work for the same, including a feasibility study, was contracted out earlier to the renowned JICA. The Agency was kept in the dark about the change in plan until it was announced publicly by the Chief Minister.

For this SEZ project, the West Bengal government was to acquire the land of peasants, under compulsory acquisition laws, in about 29 villages affecting about 40,000 tillers. Out of these 29 villages 27 comprised part of the Nandigram region. The prospect of losing land and livelihood thereby, aroused the peasantry into resistance against this plan of the government. As they saw that the lands were being acquired at nominal compensation, the peasants decided to resist. A joint struggle committee, Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Samiti (Committee for resistance against eviction from land) was formed by various groups for resistance against the forced acquisition of land in the affected villages. The villagers in Nandigram took over the administration and blocked the roads leading to the area under acquisition. The irony of the episode is that until that moment the peasants in this region had overwhelmingly supported the CPI(M), the leading partner in the Left Front, and many of them were its active cadres.

The Left Front government was determined to demonstrate its loyalty to capitalism and to show that it would deal with the mass resistance against it more ruthlessly and better than any other bourgeois government. It thus amassed its own cadres who wore police uniforms, alongside the 3000-strong police force, on March 14, 2007, with a pre-plan to drown the peasant resistance in blood. Getting wind of the crackdown, beforehand around 2,000 village people, women and children included, gathered on the spot.

The police accompanied by CPM cadres and local goons, attacked the crowd without provocation and in the resulting mayhem 14 people perished on the spot. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, commented that “the oppositional forces have been paid in their own coin”. Instead of retreating, the people challenged the violence and showed their resolve not to succumb to repression and to fight the issue to the end. The supporters of the Left Front parties were driven out of the area by the people. On April 29 fresh violence erupted as the armed police tried to enter Nandigram. A team of intellectuals was assaulted on its way back from Nandigram after disbursal of relief aid.

There was political uproar, putting all the partners of Left Front in the dock. While even the bourgeois newspaper like the Times of India wrote that the party machine of the CPI(M) has become the “sword arm” of the industrialisation policy to settle the issues of property rights. Nandigram resulted in the biggest ever exposure of the revisionist parties and their politics in India. The long-standing supporters of these revisionist parties, among whom were also many honest people, saw with their own eyes the true colours of these parties. Not only opposition parties, but also the some allies of the Left Front came out against the policy of the government. Parliament remained in suspense on this issue for two days and finally on November 21, the CPI(M) was isolated in Parliament with nobody coming to its aid, in view of the widespread mass sentiments against the massacre carried out by the West Bengal government.

But nothing could water down the determination of the masses to resist the move of the government. The West Bengal government ultimately had to shelve its plans ‑ at least for the near future ‑ taking shelter in the assurance that the land would not be taken without the consent of the peasants, suggesting that the chemical city could be built on the sparsely populated Nayachar Island.

Left in the lurch, the Left Front government in West Bengal sought and found the aid and support of the central government led by Congress, immediately returning the favour so given by withdrawing its opposition to the infamous Nuclear deal of the Central Government with the US.

Notwithstanding the blame-game, from Singur to Nandigram, the truth is that the days of revisionist politics can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The advance of so-called neo-liberalism in the country is removing the ground from under the feet of false revolutionists. The polarisation of political forces is the crude reality of this era, whether one likes it or not.

There are going to be thousands of Singurs and Nandigrams. The petty bourgeois mass of small proprietors, which comprises the overwhelming majority of the population and which had been the strong bulwark for capitalism since 1947, is being abandoned by the “liberal” bourgeoisie, as it integrates itself with global capital, and desperately tries to save its positions. The “liberal” bourgeois cannot offer anything to these masses, except ruin. The march of global capitalism, first and foremost, is going to trample on the mass of peasants and the urban petty proprietors. To counter this onslaught, this mass needs to turn to the working class. And this would happen if the working class shows itself capable of overthrowing the “liberal” bourgeois.

We have to remember that the job of Marxists is not to explain to the small petty proprietors that their salvation lies in the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, of capitalism itself. This stance of genuine Marxist revolutionaries separates them from the petty-bourgeois political currents like the “Maoists” who limit their perspectives to that of operating within the confines of capitalism, of seeking some kind of “progressive” development under capitalism. In this, the future of the land is not to parcel it out in smallholdings, but to develop it along socialist lines. We must defend the small peasants, but explain to them that their future can only be assured within the context of a general overthrow of capitalism. Our efforts must be directed to genuinely “ploughing the land” and not towards “growing in flower-pots”. We must unMarxderstand that the future under capitalist society brings with it the proletarianisation of the masses and not the spread of small-scale proprietorship