Friday, 18 November 2016

Chicken coming home to roost: Letter to a friend from France


Sorry about the slight delay. Good to hear from you. Thanks for mentioning Pankaj Mishra's piece. I don't think Mishra's piece captures the deeper phenomenon beyond his usual sighs and complaints from a very elitist location.

But I agree with your concern about the familiar civil order falling apart. What is happening in Europe, specially France, Belgium and other sites under terrorist attack, is not very different from happenings in US and UK. India is a somewhat different case with its own tortuous history.

This is a very large topic, yet the really telling feature, as you note, is that very learned and enlightened people are totally caught by surprise. Given the lack of understanding, it is natural, though naive, to fall back on what we partially understand, such as Hitler and Mussolini. Even people of the calibre of Noam Chomsky are falling into such fallacies. 

The classical examples enable us to disassociate ourselves from the phenomenon and assign it to the 'other': xenophobia, racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, communalism, militarism, neoliberalism, etc. In my view that seems to be the biggest epistemic problem. Perhaps we do not realise that Le Pen, Trump, Nigel Farage, Narendra Modi, are just extreme forms of elite privilege itself which only a handful--including you, I and Mishra--can enjoy within the finite resources of the planet.

There are of course subtle distinctions within the elites in liberal discourse: say, between Obama and Trump, Nehru and Modi, Amartya Sen and Allan Greenspan, etc. But we cannot expect the vast majority of the world's deprived people to be interested in making those distinctions. In this context, I find this short video by a young woman very educative.

While scholarly understanding of these things unfolds, some measures of political correction are immediately needed. After Trump's victory, I came up with a 10-point action plan for people in America. Obviously, it is both globally-intended and self-directed. The planet is in danger, not just familiar 'civil society' in US. The planet still has a dim chance if concerned liberal intellectuals are prepared to join the masses in the streets, not just sign internet petitions. 

Let americans fill the streets of America

1. Despite reports about the billionaire Soros and other foundations triggering the anti-Trump protests, I fully support these elite protests because Trump is a shithead.
2. I will also support street protests by Trump-supporters demanding arrest of Hillary and Bill Clinton and judicial proceedings against Barak Obama for crimes against US and humanity.

3. I will support militant street protest by blacks to counter the white supremacist upsurge backed by KKK. I will support black demonstrations for enhanced welfare of black neighbourhoods, release of black prisoners, exemplary punishment for white police killing blacks.

4. I will support street protests by civil rights and hispanic organisations against Trump's reactionary immigration policy.
5. I will support aggressive protests by unemployed mostly white workers demanding enlarged social security and health insurance by federal funding. I will support every protest demanding radical upward revision of wages across the board.
6. I will support sustained street protest by all the impoverished sections of US demanding fulfilment of Trump's election promises including heavy taxation of US corporate setups abroad.
7. I will support all anti-war movements demanding withdrawal of american troops and weapons from across the world, and stoppage of all weapon sales.
8. I will support all protests demanding 90% cut of military expenses to divert the money for protecting the environment.
9. I will support all protests, especially by women's groups, demanding that Trump publicly apologize for his racist and misogynist remarks.
10. I will support all street demonstrations demanding that Bernie Sanders be given the supreme leadership of Dems.

Let these happen first. Others will follow.

Very best

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