Some Notes On The Working Class And The Imperialist Wars, by Jan Myrdal

Jan Myrdal, author from Sweden

[The First Comrade Naveen Babu Memorial Lecture,  Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi,  10 February 2012.]

First it is necessary to make a statement on whom I speak for. I am a communist but since close on sixty years a non-party communist. The reasons for that I have written about in several books. Thus I am not the spokesperson for any specific organization that can be made responsible for what I say.

I have just published a book mainly based on my visit to the guerrilla zone in Dandakaranya on the invitation of the CPI (Maoist): Red Star Over India: As the Wretched of the Earth are Rising. There I describe how, when we after a long march through the jungle came to the camp in Dandakaranya at night and had got our cup of tea, a group came walking out of the jungle. After some time I understood that it was the general secretary of the CPI (Maoist), Ganapathy and his comrades.

In the discussion with them that followed I tried to say something about our experience – positive and negative – of political work against war and imperialism during more than a century in a small imperialist country like Sweden.

As we at the end of our visit after sixteen days took a formal goodbye of our hosts I was also asked about the working class and the present situation in Europe. Continue reading

“Let’s Stand Against the Indian State’s War on People” by Jan Myrdal

[A speech by Jan Myrdal, (internationally well-known writer for his support for the people’s movements world-wide), at a public meeting sponsored by the Forum Against War on People, New Delhi,  6 February 2012.]

Stella Rossa Sull India (Red star over India: When the wretched of the earth rise up), by Jan Myrdal (book in Swedish and Italian)

Dear friends,

I want to say something on the international solidarity movement with the peoples of India.

We are here because there is an ongoing war against the peoples of India by the Indian state itself or – to put it more charitably – by dominant sections of the Indian state machinery. You as Indian citizens want to stop this war. I and other friends of India abroad are trying to organise an international solidarity movement with the people of India against the horrors of this war.

To try to do that is not interference in the internal affairs of India. We do not tell you in India how to conduct your affairs. That is for you to decide. No foreigner can prescribe for you. Even if many from the imperial camp – governments, media, NGO’s – always try do so.

This respect is a matter of principle. You – not we – are in your actions responsible to the peoples of India. As we said during the solidarity movement with the peoples of South East Asia in their struggle against US imperialism: “Support the peoples of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam on their own terms.”

But there is a truth that was formulated in 1624 by John Donne and has been quoted and used by those of us in different countries that have taken a stand against oppression and social cruelty – as during the Franco war against the people of Spain. A truth that is the base of international solidarity:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main /…/ any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

There is nothing secret about the present cruel war against the peoples of India. I could myself witness and hear about the war against dalits and adivasis when I was in Andhra Pradesh in 1980 (see India Waits, Sangam books, Hyderabad) and now 2010 in Chhattisgarh (see Red Star over India, Setu Prakashani, Kolkata).

In this war armed gangs and groups from ruling elites and land grabbers are attempting to drive people from their homes their lands and forests. Villages are being burned. Women are raped. Not as an expression of male sexual lust but as a cold conscious attempt thus to destroy the dignity and self-respect of the people. Those who defend themselves are branded as terrorists. Continue reading

On the legacy of colonialism and the struggles against oppression today

[Nearly 50 years after the death of Frantz Fanon, the author of “The Wretched of the Earth,” this essay traces his legacy and relevance in the oppressive realities and struggles today.  Nigel Gibson, the author of this essay, presents a profound review of the reality of the imperialist stamp on the countries and peoples who have won national independence–but not social or human liberation.  The thinking and orientation of Frantz Fanon contributes much to people who are inexorably driven to challenge their ongoing oppression in the so-called “post-colonial” world.  The essay is long, but deserves attention from all whose lives and possibilities are framed by these questions. — Frontlines ed.]

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50 years later: Fanon’s legacy

by Nigel C Gibson

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78860, Issue 564, 2011-12-21

When I was asked by Dr. Keithley Woolward to address the question of Fanon’s contemporary relevance, I was reminded of a blurb on the back of my recent book Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo which reads, ‘This is not another meditation on Fanon’s continued relevance. Instead, it is an inquiry into how Fanon, the revolutionary, might think and act in the face of contemporary social crisis.’ My comments today should be considered in that spirit.

Frantz Fanon

‘Relevance’ ­ from a Latin word ‘relevare’, to lift, from ‘lavare’, to raise, levitate ­ to levitate a living Fanon who died in the USA nearly 50 years ago this coming Tuesday in cognizance of his own injunction articulated in the opening sentence from his essay ‘On national culture’: ‘Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it’ (1968 206). The challenge was laid down at the opening of this year of Fanon’s 50th (as well as the 50th anniversary of his ‘The Wretched of the Earth’) which began with revolution ­ or at least a series of revolts and resistance across the region, known as the Arab Spring.

Fanon begins ‘The Wretched’, as you know, writing of decolonisation as a program of complete disorder, an overturning of order ­ often against the odds ­ willed collectively from the bottom up. Without time or space for a transition, there is an absolute replacement of one ‘species’ by another (1968: 35). In a period of radical change such absolutes appear quite normal, when, in spite of everything thrown against it, ideas jump across frontiers and people begin again ‘to make history’ (1968: 69-71). In short, once the mind of the oppressed experiences freedom in and through collective actions, its reason becomes a force of revolution. As the Egyptians said of 25 January: ‘When we stopped being afraid we knew we would win. We will not again allow ourselves to be scared of a government. This is the revolution in our country, the revolution in our minds.’ What started with Tunisia and then Tahrir Square has become a new global revolt, spreading to Spain and the Indignados (indignants) movement, to Athens and the massive and continuous demonstrations against vicious structural adjustment, to the urban revolt in England, to the massive student mobilisation to end education for profit in Chile, to the ‘occupy’ movement of the 99 percent.

And yet, as the revolts inevitably face new repression, elite compromises and political manoeuvrings, Fanonian questions ­ echoed across the postcolonial world ­ become more and more timely. (How can the revolution hold onto its epistemological moment, the rationality of revolt?) Surely the question is not whether Fanon is relevant, but why is Fanon relevant now? Continue reading