Questions of Freedom and People’s Emancipation — Part 3, by Kobad Ghandy

Kobad Ghandy

Kobad Ghandy

[Kobad Ghandy, a member of the Politburo and Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), was captured by Indian Intelligence Bureau on  September 17, 2009.  Initially kept in illegal detention and tortured, he remains a political prisoner in Tihar Jail, where he continues his revolutionary studies and writings, organizes Maoist classes, and joins the struggles of other prisoners against the draconian conditions they face.  The following is the third part of a 5 or 6 part series on freedom–its promise and the problems in its pathway. The first article (covering Part I – The Context)  and the second one (covering Part II – Search for Freedom through History) can be seen at https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/questions-of-freedom-and-peoples-emancipation-by-kobad-ghandy/— Frontlines ed.]

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Mainstream, VOL L No 42, October 6, 2012

PART III—Socialism and Existentialism

The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed two major schools of thought—socialism and existentialism. The former reflected the agony of the vast impoverished masses, the latter mirrored the acute alienation within society, strongly reflected in the middle classes. While socialism focused on the society, the existentialists concerned themselves more with the individual. Both these philosophical trends had a powerful impact till the 1980s.

I shall first briefly look at these two trends and then come to the present, post-1980s situation.

Socialist Trend

The agony of the impoverished people was beautifully portrayed in a large number of classics in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There was Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in Britain, a large number of novels by authors like Emile Zola, classics like the book Grapes of Wrath etc. which depicted how cruel capitalism was.

In the post-war period there were a number of African and Latin American writings which pictured the agony of colonial conquest like the book Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galaeno. Continue reading

Palestine: How hunger strikers “tied the hands of the occupation”: a view from Israeli prison

A demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Jaffa, 12 May 2012. (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

A demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Jaffa, 12 May 2012.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

Palestinians have achieved three consecutive victories in the last few months. In October 2011, there was the release of prisoners (the exchange deal involving the kidnapped Israeli soldier).

Then there was a series of individual hunger strikes, which lasted for unparalleled periods of time. These began with Khader Adnan, who went on hunger strike to protest against the Israeli policy of administrative detention.

Adnan’s action spurred an open-ended hunger strike by prisoners, started by more than a thousand prisoners on 17 April. It ended on 14 May, with more than 2,000 prisoners taking part. The strike began a new page in the history of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, written by the prisoners along with their Arab and international supporters.

The agreement signed on 14 May 2012 between the authorities in charge of the strike and Israel — with Egyptian and international mediation and guarantees — confirmed that the prisoner movement not only scored a major achievement, but realized a clear victory. We can now speak of two periods, the before and after, with the watershed moment being the hunger strike of 2012. Continue reading

Comrades in Cairo send solidarity, and advice, to Occupy Wall Street

by Anonymous on October 25, 2011

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in sol­i­dar­ity. Having received so much advice from you about tran­si­tion­ing to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demon­stra­tions, riots, strikes and occu­pa­tions taking place all around the world, its foun­da­tions lie in years long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repres­sion, dis­en­fran­chise­ment and the unchecked ravages of global cap­i­tal­ism (yes, we said it, cap­i­tal­ism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhab­i­tants. As the interests of gov­ern­ment increas­ingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transna­tional capital, our cities and homes have become pro­gres­sively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic devel­op­ment or urban renewal scheme.

An entire gen­er­a­tion across the globe has grown up realizing, ratio­nally and emo­tion­ally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under struc­tural adjust­ment policies and the supposed expertise of inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, indus­tries and public services were sold off and dis­man­tled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immis­er­a­tion rein­forced by a massive increase in police repres­sion and torture. Continue reading

Carlos Montes, target of political repression

In this video, Carlos Montes speaks about his activism and the struggle against political repression. Montes is a lifelong activist in the Chicano community in Los Angeles, focused on issues of education, and opposition to imperialist war.
He spoke in San Francisco on August 31, 2011, sponsored by the Bay Area Committee to Stop Political Repression.
This video is presented by pro-jectPRO:JECT and Collision Course Media.

Wisconsin Protests Draw More Than 70,000 In Largest Rally Yet

AP/The Huffington Post

PATRICK CONDON and TODD RICHMOND

02/27/11

 

Wisconsin Protests

MADISON, Wis. — Chanting pro-union slogans and carrying signs declaring “We are all Wisconsin,” protesters turned out in cities nationwide to support thousands of public workers who’ve set up camp at the Wisconsin Capitol to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.

Union supporters organized rallies from New York to Los Angeles in a show of solidarity Saturday as the demonstration in Madison entered its 12th straight day and attracted its largest crowd yet: more than 70,000 people. Hundreds banged on drums and screamed into bullhorns inside the Capitol as others braved frigid weather and snow during the massive rally that flooded into nearby streets.

“I want to thank you for coming out here today to exercise those pesky First Amendment rights,” actor Bradley Whitford, who starred in television’s “The West Wing,” said as he rallied his hometown crowd. “This governor has to understand Wisconsin is a stubborn constituency. We fish through ice!”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has introduced a bill that includes stripping almost all public workers of their right to collectively bargain on benefits and work conditions. Walker has said the bill would help close a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-13 budget, and argues that freeing local governments from collective bargaining would give them flexibility amid deep budget cuts. Continue reading

Ramallah, Occupied Palestine: Demo in support of Egyptian people, 5 Feb – PA arrests I


February 05, 2011
The Palestinian Authority security agents in civilian clothes arresting demonstrators in Ramallah 5th Feb 2011,

the demo in solidarity with the Egyptian & Tunisian uprisings

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Charlotte Silver, The Electronic Intifada, 9 February 2011
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11788.shtml

On Saturday, 5 February, cities around the world and throughout the Israeli-occupied West Bank held demonstrations in solidarity with the people’s uprising in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade-old regime. In Ramallah, security forces belonging to the Palestinian Authority attempted to pacify a protest of 2,000 persons.

In the West Bank, demonstrating solidarity takes on a dual and potentially treacherous significance, as Palestinians can easily indict their own government for similar charges heard from Egyptians and earlier, Tunisians. The fate of Egypt has direct consequences for that of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where elections for the Palestinian Authority have not been held even though the terms of office for the legislative council and president have long since expired. Egypt has also played a key role in internal Palestinian politics, actively supporting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction against rival Hamas. Continue reading

San Francisco: Demonstration at Indian Consulate–“Free Binayak Sen and all Political Prisoners in India!”

[International protests are growing, condemning the Indian government’s unjust sentencing of Dr. Binayak Sen and the growing masses of Political Prisoners in Indian jails.  In San Francisco, California, on January 28, 2011, people gathered to demonstrate at the Indian Consulate, delivering the message that the world is watching, and growing numbers are exposing and opposing the attacks by the Indian government on the people of India!–Frontlines ed.]

Continue reading