Sunday, November 11, 2018

Making of History


-- Nasir Khan

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living."


-- Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

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The social, political and economic factors in shaping history have been emphasized time and again by socialist theorists. Here in this short extract, Karl Marx points to the importance of prevailing objective conditions that determine the course of history. How he sees a logic in the social developments is part of his philosophy of history.

The conscious efforts of human beings sometimes set in motion the wheels of history and sometimes accelerate the speed of that process. But these variables are also dependent on the major trends that already exist. What exists is not independent of what has gone before but is rather a result of the earlier conditions under which historical events took place and the steady historical processes that have been in operation. Even in the realm of speculative thought and old metaphysical issues, we are profoundly conditioned by the old modes of thought and traditions.

Even a great thinker like Marx elaborated his thought by imbibing the ideas of the French Enlightenment, from Montesquieu to Linget and Condorcet, and by the Scottish historians. He took from Hegel the idea that history is the progressive self-realization of man by practical social activity. While Hegel's ideas were couched in somewhat obscure language, Marx was able to find the essential meanings they contained. As a result he developed his ideas by subjecting Feuerbach and Hegel in matters of the role of religion, State, civil society, bureaucracy and the class structure of the industrial society.

His ideas of revolutionary Socialism became clearer in his thought by his critical assessment of the older socialist thinkers. The same thing applies in his understanding and explanation about the capitalism by his close scrutiny of the earlier economists.

Marxism and Freedom


-- Nasir Khan

“Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.”
― Jamaican musician Bob Marley (1945-1981)
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To gain freedom from social, political and religious oppression is a great thing for every sentient human being. As we know we are living in a world where the 'ruling ideas of the age' we are living in, are related to Power - in all its nefarious forms. Political power, economic power, social power, religious power - all such different faces of power are intertwined; they contribute to the same goals and the same targets. Politically conscious people know that the targets are the ordinary people of any given society, whether in the advanced capitalist societies or the 'developing' countries. If the people became aware of the overall bondages they are subjected to, they will strive for freedom.


The fact remains that only a very tiny minority develops such consciousness; for the vast majority the established order is more like the divine writ, which none should question. However, the ideas and actions to challenge the established order are not easy either; they often have unexpected harsh reactions and consequences. The revolutionaries of the past ages have shown that nothing comes without struggle. In our age, it is still the revolutionary thought and praxis of Marxism that has to 'bear the cross’. This is despite all the howling of the jackals of reaction and their ilk.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Importance of the Separation of Religion and State


-- Nasir Khan

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
[Letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803]”
― James Madison (1751-1836). He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and its fourth President.
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While underscoring the importance of the separation of Church and State, James Madison had in view the gory history of Europe over the course of at least 18 centuries of political strife, horrifying torture and violence because of the unquestioned power of the church over the states and within the political systems of states. The rulers had to obey the commands of the Catholic Church. After the Reformation, the Lutheran including the Calvinist churches also had immense power over the states.

In fact, the question of the separation of Church and State in a broader sense is the question of the separation of Religion and State. After the end of the medieval times, there was a movement towards the freedom of conscience. The people had to be freed from the suffocating clutches of Religion.

It meant a challenge to the clerical authorities that had imposed their will and their interpretations of what God may have said or ordered. Thus, the chief custodians of the divine truth, who had arrogated all powers on behalf of God to themselves for so long found themselves confronting a new situation. Their monopoly over what God said was under question. That was dangerous, very dangerous!

Now some thinkers and enlightened people said what people believed in matters of a Divine Power or Religion was a personal matter; this was secularism. It was no business of the state to impose the will of the clergy on the people. According to them, people should have the freedom of conscience.

For most people, it was a novel idea; they never had anything like this for so many centuries. Thus, a revolutionary idea was introduced that had far-reaching effects. Consequently, the process of freedom of conscience and the secularization of the state and society gained more ground in most of Europe, North America and Australia, etc.

While the western countries made such inroads into enlightenment, freedom of conscience, and gave legal protection to people to believe or practise any religion, the vast majority of Muslim countries has followed a different course.
The ruling classes and the Muslim clergy became close partners to advance their respective agendas. In fact, they found Islam as a convenient tool to gain power and influence over a people who had a strong cultural identity with Islam. This they exploited to the maximum. That opened the way for the fanatics, misguided and indoctrinated people to clamour for an Islamic polity under the rule of God.

As a result, we see the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the terrorists of the Islamic State in many countries and many Islamist groups and organisations causing havoc. One thing: They are convinced they represent the 'light' of Islam. They are offering the salvation to worldwide Muslim community people (the Ummah); the golden age of ‘Islamic truth’ and ‘Islamic justice’ is near when the Sharia laws of the seventh-century Islamic Arabia will be enforced.
In fact, many ordinary Muslims think that the era of the early Caliphs of Islam of the seventh-century Arabia will solve all their worldly problems. It is logically possible that such a golden age can emerge if there was anything like this before!

However, we may pause for a second and think (not easy though): The world has moved with the times, including the Christians of Europe and their descendants in North America and Australia, etc. How will Islamists go back from the 21st century to the seventh-century Arabia? The only possibility I can see is if Aladdin with his magic carpet appears and transports us back to our golden age, back in time. If he does that I’m sure he will give me some space on his magic carpet; I promise to report back to all of you my story from there!
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Thursday, November 01, 2018

The fanatic mobs of Pakistan are a threat to democracy and the rule of law

-- Nasir Khan, November 1, 2018

It may come as to jolting shock to many civilized human beings in the world that hundreds of thousands of Muslims of Pakistan are protesting, not against something awful that happened, but because an innocent Christian women, Aasia Bibi, who had falsely been accused of blasphemy was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on her appeal.

The judges of the Supreme Court found that she had been falsely charged by some Muslim co-workers on some very trivial dispute; the trial judge had sentenced her to death on the basis of false accounts of the witnesses of the true nature of the petty dispute. Aasia Bibi, a married working-class woman, had languished in prison for the last eight years in solitary confinement.

Now, so many Pakistani Muslims are protesting and threatening to bring the country to a standstill for the acquittal of Aasia Bibi!

It is difficult to believe this, but that is exactly what these people are doing, and they think they are doing it to 'defend and exalt the honour of Prophet Muhammad'.

The events in Pakistan show how the Islamic clerics, with the support of the Pakistani ruling elite over the years, had a free hand to spread the poison of religious fanaticism among the ordinary people and turn them into extremists, who, apparently have become indifferent to the distinction between right and wrong because of their religious indoctrination.
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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/pakistan-thousands-protest-blasphemy-acquittal-ignore-pm-call-181101140852399.html?fbclid=IwAR3xk08G4pcK-aXniJF0FgZ6y_lPGHJQQ0nuTSxUTooMxvwXqbEAQkZ8hnc
 

Pakistan: Thousands protest blasphemy acquittal, ignore PM's call

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan-led protests take place across the country, a day after Supreme Court clears Aasia Bibi.
by


Most schools and many businesses remained closed in three major Pakistani cities on Thursday [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]
Most schools and many businesses remained closed in three major Pakistani cities on Thursday [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]
Islamabad, Pakistan - Thousands of far-right religious demonstrators continue to block major roads across Pakistan in protest against the acquittal of a Christian woman in a high-profile blasphemy case.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) political party, led by firebrand Muslim leader Khadim Rizvi, organised rallies in cities across the South Asian country on Thursday, despite a warning from Prime Minister Imran Khan not to "force the government to have to take action".
Aasia Bibi, 53, who was on death row for eight years, was acquitted by the country's top court on Wednesday, with judges saying the prosecution contained "glaring and stark" contradictions.
Shortly after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling was pronounced, Rizvi led a major protest outside government buildings in the eastern city of Lahore, with fellow TLP leaders declaring the three judges who acquitted Bibi to be "liable to be killed".
The sit-in protest in Lahore remained the largest TLP demonstration on Thursday, with other major demonstrations being held in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan's largest. Protesters are also blockading a major highway into the capital, Islamabad.
Most schools and many businesses remained closed in all three cities through the day, with hospitals on high alert in case the protests turned violent. Highways were partially shut down and the federal cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the law and order situation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a televised address to the nation, accused the TLP of attempting to stir religious sentiments for political gains.
"I say to these people: do not confront this state ... do not damage this country for your vote bank," said Khan.
"If you do this, I promise that the government will do its duty … I ask you: do not force the government to have to take action," he added.
On Thursday, Shehryar Afridi, Pakistan's minister of state for interior affairs, told parliament that talks were under way with protesters to end the standoff.

'Watershed moment'

Blasphemy against Islam and its prophet is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where the crime can carry a compulsory death sentence.
Increasingly, blasphemy accusations have resulted in mob lynchings and extrajudicial murders.
At least 74 people have been killed in violence related to blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.
PM Imran Khan urged calm since Bibi's acquittal but his call has fallen on deaf ears so far [Saudi Press Agency via AP]
There are still roughly 40 people on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy, in Pakistan, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Bibi's case had become emblematic of fair-trial concerns in cases related to the country's blasphemy laws, with two senior political leaders who stood up for her gunned down in 2009 for supporting her.
Rights groups have hailed her acquittal as a watershed moment.
"Justice has finally prevailed. The message must go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute the country's most vulnerable minorities," said Omar Waraich, deputy director for South Asia at human rights group Amnesty International.

Tense calm 

At the protest at Islamabad's Faizabad interchange, roughly 2,000 TLP supporters had gathered to block a major road into the federal capital.
TLP volunteers had visibly beefed up security at the demonstration's entry and exit points. They barred entry to journalists, saying they would only be allowed to pass after surrendering cameras and other equipment.
Among the protesters, a tense calm prevailed, with many young men interspersed among the crowd carrying sticks and metal rods.
Many sat on reed mats, listening to devotional poems and sermons extolling the virtues of loving Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The TLP mainly represents the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam, which places a particular importance on the veneration of the personage and honour of the Prophet.
Overhead, two military helicopters flew low over the crowd, prompting shouts from many protesters. Two young men manning a barricade angrily shook their sticks at the aircraft.
Further protests are expected on Friday following midday prayers, with other right-wing religious groups joining the TLP in its rejection of the verdict.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera's digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim
Pakistan protests: How powerful are religious groups?
Inside Story
Pakistan protests: How powerful are religious groups?
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

It will go on happening . . .

Erich Fried: It will go on happening . . .

(English translation of a poem by Austrian poet Erich Fried)

It has happened
and it goes on happening
and will happen again
if nothing happens to stop it.
The innocent knew nothing
because they are too innocent.
The poor do not notice
because they are too poor.
And the rich do not notice
because they are too rich.
The stupid shrug their shoulders
because they are too stupid.
And the clever shrug their shoulders
because they are too clever.
The young do not care
because they are too young.
And the old do not care
because they are too old.
That is why nothing happens to stop it.
And that is why it has happened
And goes on happening
And will happen again.


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Erich Fried (1921-1988)



Sunday, October 28, 2018

Palestinians under Israeli colonial occupation and the Arab rulers


--Nasir Khan, November 27, 2018

The leadership of the Arab world has been corrupt since the end of the Ottoman Sultanate, when, under the European 'Mandatory powers (read: Neo-colonial powers), Britain and France, divided the Middle East according to their imperial interests. 

Now, many Arab regimes, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, are close allies and 'partners' of the Zionists of Israel. They follow the lead of Israel in suppressing the national rights and aspirations of the Palestinians. They are not going to form a power bloc to stand for the occupied Palestinians; they are a long arm of the power of Israel and the United States, all too eager to protect the imperialist and undermine the Palestinian people's struggle for national liberation. 

But the oppressed and marginalized people of Palestine are in a precarious situation. They are victims of imperialism in the most tragic way. Even the leadership of these occupied people in the shape of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is doing exactly as Israel wants, despite his periodic speeches in the United Nations for the national rights of the Palestinians. Such a window dressing takes place with the blessings of Israel, because it does no harm to Israel.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Palestinians under Israeli colonial occupation and the Arab rulers


--Nasir Khan, November 27, 2018

The leadership of the Arab world has been corrupt since the end of the Ottoman Sultanate, when, under the European 'Mandatory powers (read: Neo-colonial powers), Britain and France, divided the Middle East according to their imperial interests. 

Now, many Arab regimes, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, are close allies and 'partners' of the Zionists of Israel. They follow the lead of Israel in suppressing the national rights and aspirations of the Palestinians. They are not going to form a power bloc to stand for the occupied Palestinians; they are a long arm of the power of Israel and the United States, all too eager to protect the imperialist and undermine the Palestinian people's struggle for national liberation. 

But the oppressed and marginalized people of Palestine are in a precarious situation. They are victims of imperialism in the most tragic way. Even the leadership of these occupied people in the shape of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is doing exactly as Israel wants, despite his periodic speeches in the United Nations for the national rights of the Palestinians. Such a window dressing takes place with the blessings of Israel, because it does no harm to Israel.

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