A. B. Bardhan: Unforgettable Relevance

By Saswat Pattanayak

Comrade A B Bardhan (1924-2016) was not just the foremost communist mass leader of India who raised working class consciousness among millions through his oratory and organizational persistence, he was also the Marxist historian who accounted peoples’ struggles like no one else had quite done.

Well before publishing “People’s History” had become a worldwide trend, Comrade Bardhan had reflected upon the critical role of working class in India’s freedom struggle with these words –

“Official histories are apt to pass over in silence the role of the working class in India’s freedom struggle. They depict the freedom struggle as a series of events determined and influenced by individuals from the upper strata of society, who reacted against the humiliation and oppression of foreign rule, and moved the masses in their wake.

As to the workers and working people, they were considered either too weak or ignorant to play any role in this struggle, or concerned themselves with the more immediate problems of mitigating exploitation and improving their lot.

Nothing could be more one sided and false than this picture. In fact, with the growth of the working class in India and the rise of the labor movement commences the impact on India’s struggle against foreign domination.”

Well before social justice movements demanded reservations as part of parliamentary political norm, Comrade Bardhan had gone beyond the traditional proposals and recognizing the imminent pervasiveness of private capital, he had called for reservations in private sector as well –

“As Communists, we take note of the problems of the deprived communities in our society and pay special attention to them. These are for instance the dalits, the adivasis and the minorities, especially the Muslims. We shall actively support the demand that reservation should be extended to the private sector, especially when moves for privatization are afoot.”

Well before the caste discourse in public policies had gained momentum and denouncing Hindutva politics had become mainstream, and intolerance debate had gained a foothold in India to prompt celebrities in joining the chorus, Comrade Bardhan had urged the people to reject communal casteist elements from the political sphere, in these words –

“Neither Gandhi or Nehru nor the hundreds of martyrs who climbed the gallows for independence – none of them gave their lives for a Hindu nation.

Never forget that!

We who uphold the red flag – we respect all religions. For the identity and ego of one religion, you cannot attack and break the identity and faith of another religion.

Always remember this.

In Hinduism, there is both tolerance as well as intolerance. There is humanity, but there is also a caste system. That is why for years saints and enlightened ones have tried to bring in reforms. They raised their voices against casteism, but even today caste remains. Today a new effort is being made to share power with those who were always kept out of Government, those who were considered only fit to be servants. Today an effort is being made that they too get a chance to help run the country. But the very forces who wish to preserve Hindu fundamentalism and unfurl their flags over destroyed mosques, these very forces swear by the caste system.

Recognize them and understand their mentality.”

ABBardhan_Saswat Photo

Comrade Bardhan had confidence in fellow Indians that they shall reject communal, Hindutva politics and usher in a new age that will put the working class in charge of its own priorities. And armed with his inspiring words and following the exemplary life he led, his dreams shall certainly be realized.

Advertisements

2016: Divided We Fall

Saswat Pattanayak

Last year alone, an earthquake – among many – left 9,000 dead in Nepal. Stampede among the devotees caused death of 2,200 people in Mecca. Over 3.1 million children –  under five – died of malnutrition everywhere in the world. They were not victims of terrorism or organized murders. They did not perpetuate any evil to justify a divine plan that took their lives. And yet, not one God or multiple versions of Gods could do anything to save them. That is because there is no God. There is no reason for a belief in God, or adherence to any religion. And yet, as if such tolls were not enough, we exponentially increase the number of untimely deaths of fellow human beings while using religion, god, nationality, race, caste, gender and private capital and power as our divine alibi. Instead of love, we engage in war. Instead of sharing, we promote hoarding. Instead of cooperation, we encourage competition. Nothing will likely change in 2016. But the hope still remains that reason shall prevail over unexamined emotions, while using historical lessons from the years before, as potential tools of liberation.

2016: Divided We Fall

Yet another year went past defining
deriding, describing, disrupting
decrying. Terrorism.

In the fight against the evil
the war of the rich
pitting the poor, the unsung
the unknown, unemployed
famished, hopeless.
Handing them a shotgun
assault rifle, pistol,
an oath of loyalty
to the military, nation-state,
a god, a belief, holy text
preaching freedom, salvation
duty, patriotism, nationalism
Terrorism – both ours, the NATOs
and theirs, the ISILs.

Yet another year went past ridiculing
rehashing, regrouping, replenishing
renaming. Identities.

In the fight against the backward
the march of the elite
positioning the hungry, the oppressed
the voices without a social handle
the suicidal farmers, indebted students
the workers without a union
being Black while driving – car and life
and those bereft of privileges
to raise their consciousness.
Deluding them with elections
leader after leader, hope after hope
emptying the wallet of promises
showering the wealth of rhetorics
constructing the highway of dreams
preaching love, preaching hate,
after a while, love-hate.
Plutocracy – both ours, the voting class
and theirs, the ruling corporate bosses.

Yet another year went past propagating
polarizing, preaching, propounding
programming. Ignorance.

In the fight against the subjugated
the collusion of the masters
requiring the working class
to stay divided, trusting none
vanquishing incentives to imagine –
a planet without borders,
people without religions,
genders without assigned roles
to obliterate the regressive texts
that justify terrorism, by state; by others.
Unity, empathy, solidarity –
not anymore threats to ruling class
when the year went past us
like they were anathema to the workers.

This world never so fragmented
so in despair to not understand,
to lend an ear, a hand, a tear.
Never so lacking in care
that it advances a Trump, a Modi,
a Hillary, a Cameron, a Bibi.
Only a Paris. Eurocentric lease.
Warmongers, homophobes, xenophobes
In power everywhere, the worst of us.

Maybe its all that we can muster
– or, with contradictions exposed
we can take this just no more?
Won’t the new year notice any difference
shall we keep on penalizing dissidence?
Call fellow travelers aliens, illegals, refugees
– or, with our inhumanity exposed
we can reattempt unity amidst diversities?

Religious Terror is created by Religions and Weapon-manufacturing Lobbyists: Saswat Pattanayak

Twelve hours ago journalist Saswat Pattanayak in a note shared in social media had written:

“Whereas Islamic terrorism is a reality, let’s not forget that the “War on Terror” is also a religious war. Islamic terrorism may have little to gain other than causing emotional havoc. But the War on Terror, in our names, is a profiteering agenda that causes fear among the victims, unites the jingoists, and financially enriches the weapons-manufacturing lobbyists. In fact, the seeds for terrors have been planted by those very folks who are today implementing the “War on Terror” as a way to viciously perpetuate the cycle while they continue to profit from military-industrial complex and increase defense budgets with a scared citizenry meekly consenting to nationalist rhetorics”.

For whosoever shudders to see the unilateral extinguishment of hundreds of innocent civilians of Paris by a religious terrorist body that shamelessly claims credit for the brutality, in the night of Friday, I post here Saswat’s Face Book Posting:

Terrorists killed 26 and wounded 60 in Iraq yesterday. They killed 43 and injured 181 in Lebanon the day before. They killed 66 and injured 107 in Pakistan last month. And last month alone, 56 Palestinians were killed by Israeli terrorists.

Let’s stand in solidarity with Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Palestine too and change our grieving profile pictures across social media accordingly. Let’s hope that Facebook also activates “Safety Check” button for relatives of victims and potential victims of terrorist attacks in each of these regions. Not just for the folks who have relatives in France.

Sadly, this is a wishful thinking. What will happen is branding of those who are condemning selective outrage, as inhuman creatures lacking empathy. The truth is, when people are killed by terrorists in the global South, those are matter-of-factly dismissed as suicide bombings. When NATO terrorists sanction killings of innocent people, they are justified and glorified as a “Global War on Terror” instead – which is now going to be expedited in the wake of Paris, even as it has already killed well over 4 million Muslims so far.

Whereas Islamic terrorism is a reality, let’s not forget that the “War on Terror” is also a religious war. Islamic terrorism may have little to gain other than causing emotional havoc. But the War on Terror, in our names, is a profiteering agenda that causes fear among the victims, unites the jingoists, and financially enriches the weapons-manufacturing lobbyists. In fact, the seeds for terrors have been planted by those very folks who are today implementing the “War on Terror” as a way to viciously perpetuate the cycle while they continue to profit from military-industrial complex and increase defense budgets with a scared citizenry meekly consenting to nationalist rhetorics.

The need in our times is to not “other” people or to isolate “them” as suspects. The need is to come forward as one human race to combat the grounds that facilitate terrorism; to end the growing militarization that romanticizes violence as a tool of justice; to stop revenge politics which promotes retaliation across ideological spectrum.

Contrary to mainstream media claims, Paris did not happen after 9/11 – and neither of those two incidents were attacks on “western values of freedom and liberty”. Paris happened after Baghdad, which happened after Beirut, which happened after Sindh and Baluchistan. Likewise, 9/11 had happened after various militarist interventions in regions that were challenging a unipolar world order following dissolution of Soviet Union.

Yet, the righteous tears are suddenly flowing now and they were not flowing last week, because whether or not we agree, its only White Lives that Matter in the world that is still very much Eurocentric. This is yet another RIP Princess Diana moment – a fetishization of equating race with aspiration for freedom, and the selective emotions associated with such assumption. A convenient alibi to discard the reality that countries in the global South also aspire for freedom from occupation, from the hooliganism of the NATO member states that has not stopped even as there is no Warsaw today.

A historical blunder it would be to forget that it is the United States under Ronald Reagan which funded the Taliban/ Mujahidins so they could destroy a secular Afghanistan under Dr. Najibullah. An egregious oversight it would be to not hold the NATO powers accountable for the birth, rise and sustenance of ISIS – a threat from which the refugees are fleeing for safety, in a region systematically marked by political uncertainties to benefit Israeli hegemony. It was Hillary Clinton’s State Department under Obama administration that refused to brand Boko Haram as a terrorist group because the US was funding it. To kill a leader of Gaddafi’s stature, it was the NATO again which funded Al-Qaeda. In so many ways, ISIS is a direct consequence and is a beneficiary of the funding of hate, instituted by Obama administration and its Saudi allies – in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and well beyond.

To imagine that there will be no backlash at all, despite us thriving in moral and financial superiority at the expense of the wars of our own creations, is to simply dwell in fairy tales. Except, unlike the stories, there are possibly no happy endings in sight.

Saswat Pattanayak on Killing by the State

Saswat Pattanayak is a known voice of humanitarianism. He is known as a campaigner against capital punishment, against State becoming a killer. His views on final punishment given to Yakub Memon this morning in social media call for serious cogitation. I have picked up his words for esteemed visitors to these pages.

(Subhas Chandra Pattanayak)

There is no need for blame games, now that Yakub Memon has been killed by the Indian State. And there is no irony in Kalam’s funeral being held on the same day either. Nations that worship missile men don’t get to preach nonviolence and forgiveness at the same time. Just like Mukherjee, Kalam too had rejected mercy pleas. Just like Kalam, K. R. Narayanan also had rejected mercy pleas. And before him, S.D. Sharma. In fact, the only one in recent times who did not supervise execution was the only woman president: Pratibha Patil, although that could have been purely incidental. All presidents across religions and political affiliations have bossed over death penalty executions in India.

Institutional killing of people by India is so random and considered so casually, that the country does not even have any official figures available towards that to critique. However, from limited available data, it appears that well over 2,100 prisoners have been executed in India since its independence. And of course, countless more are “encountered” for being “Maoists”, “terrorists” and being just whatever the heck. “Encounter cops” are rejoiced protagonists of Bollywood movies. Private militia continuing caste-based murders are paramilitary heroes. Death penalty is in vogue – inside courtrooms, on the streets and in newsroom debates.

It is sick, it is tragic, it is macho, it is justice, it is time for ladoo. Call it what we may, India is the citadel of death penalty. The discourse needs to go beyond blaming the president alone. Presidents are merely symbolic representatives of our collective thirst for blood. Expecting them to get merciful or failing which, be termed monstrous is an exercise in moral high ground marathon. Well before mercy petitions arrive, it is our holy cow enlightened judiciary that already seals the deal by not resisting the urge to issue death sentences, dozens after dozens. It is our wise judges who have taken it upto themselves to decide that death penalties are necessary. It is our Constitution that provides for such an unchallenged option. It is our cops and military who receive medals for being killers. It is our children who aspire to join these violent clubs of future in name of showing off patriotism.

As of now, 140 countries in the world have outlawed death penalty. India the land of nonviolence and peace howsoever fabled, continues to adamantly oppose every UN resolution that seeks to ban death penalty. And it is therefore all of us who still take pride in such a heartless immoral construct of a country. It is not Mukherjee alone. And it is our humanity that is hanged in installments. It is not an Afzal Guru, or a Yakub Memon alone.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: ANTI-WAR, ANTI-CAPITALIST MOVEMENT TO EMANCIPATE ALL WORKERS!

by Saswat Pattanayak 
march-8th.jpg

“Down with the world of property and the power of capital! Away with inequality, lack of rights and the oppression of women – the legacy of the bourgeois world! Forward to the international unity of working women and male workers.” (Alexandra Kollontai)

The radical roots of International Women’s Day are being systematically suppressed via liberal appeals for male virtues to prevail upon a patriarchy. Revolutionary struggles waged by the women and men to challenge feudal and capitalistic orders are being overshadowed by reformist emotions dramatized in commercials targeting women as a burgeoning consumer class. Incessant demands for emancipation of the working class under the banner of International Women’s Day (IWD) are being discarded in favor of trickling down of legislative charities.

When in 1917, the IWD was first observed in Leningrad, women workers of Petrograd had organized a mass of 50,000, comprising their fellow male comrades in demanding for “bread, peace and land” and to end the imperialistic world war. They confronted the Tsarist military exceeding 180,000 troops, and refused to disperse. Not only that, the organizing women proved to be so exemplary in their resistance, that the Russian Army had to turn mutinous and the first International Women’s Day resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of Romanov dynasty and the end of Russian Empire.

Alexandra Kollontai

Alexandra Kollontai

Alexandra Kollontai, who spearheaded the movement to establish March 8th as the International Women’s Day, had declared it as a “militant celebration, a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organization of proletarian women.”

Far from being a day for reviewing the strength of working class, March 8th today has been rendered as merely a day for symbolic overtures. Far from a celebration of solidarity across working women, it has become a day to cheer for the women celebrities bossing over structural inequalities. Defeat of the very corporate culture which cemented the women’s day has today usurped the principles and made the anti-capitalist day into an event of consumerist fanfare.

March as the Women’s History Month:

With much of the capitalist world failing to officially regard March 8 as the International Women’s Day, considering its communistic roots, they have however acknowledged the month of March as one to acknowledge the role of women in nation-building. Women’s History Month is now celebrated in the US, UK and Australia among a few other countries. Just as they have succeeded in obliterating the significance of May Day by not celebrating it officially because of its communistic history, they have also managed to avoid IWD as an occasion to duly observe. Instead of celebrating the working class struggles against the imperialistic power structures, Women’s History Month has become a marketing opportunity to further reinforce capitalistic ethos. Instead of celebrating the mass movements and unsung protesters, the Month is instead being used as a way to iconize individuals, bereft of their political contexts.

This March 8 should serve as a reminder that despite the collapse of Soviet Union and despite the lack of global initiatives to bring the women’s rights struggles to the political forefront, the principles guiding the International Women’s Day remain as relevant as ever. IWD is an anti-war, pro-working class global movement that aims to emancipate all women and men. On the March 8th of 1970, the Berkeley Women’s Liberation Front outlined the heroism of Vietnamese Women while answering “What does the Vietnamese War have to do with women’s liberation?” In the words of these radical American feminists: “Everything! Women in the movement here are talking about the essential right of people to live full and meaningful lives, demanding an end to the way women, throughout history, have been objectified and dehumanized. How then can we not recognize these same claims that are being made not only by the oppressed in our own country, but by those who are oppressed by this country abroad?”

MARCH-OF-THE-WOMEN1.png
The very heroic struggles of Vietnamese women which once informed the revolutionary potential of women in the US are at the core of the IWD history. Although the IWD was celebrated only in the communist countries, it had its roots in American labor history, and this is something the American ruling class conveniently overlooks. After all, it was on March 8, 1911 that the American working women had gathered to commemorate this occasion for the first time, even as it was never granted an official status in the US. And even during the anticommunist era, American women gathered again to celebrate the IWD in 1969 in the city of Berkeley. In subsequent years the day was to be commemorated across institutes in the US, despite official disapprovals. The popularity of IWD grew so much that to evade further embarrassment, Jimmy Carter had to proclaim the week of the March 8th as the “National Women’s History Week” in 1980. Under the Reagan Administration, this History Week was to be formalized and finally celebrated, starting 1982. Five years hence, in 1987, Ronald Reagan would finally expand the History Week to a month, upon the insistence of “National Women’s History Project” (NWHP). Through 1988 to 1994, several legislations ensured that Women’s History Month would be formalized and it has been so since 1995.

This series of reluctant observations on part of American administrations also corresponds directly with the half-hearted approaches towards addressing issues of women’s rights in this country. Struggles for equal pay across sexes, maternity leaves, freedom from racial discriminations, wealth disparities across classes continue to define oppression of women in the United States, and pretty much rest of the world. Without any alternative economic model of women’s empowerment in this vastly unipolar world, capitalistic values continue to impose themselves on people everywhere. It has become almost impossible to break away from the chains of slavery gifted to us by capitalistic greed and mindless competitions which have systemically left behind the traditionally oppressed people, most significantly, the women of color and the disabled women.

If history teaches us any lessons, then the International Women’s Day teaches us a few: that, women will not be emancipated anywhere without women’s liberation everywhere; that, without the recognition of the ways race, class, gender and other social locations intersect, there is no way to bring the historically oppressed women to the same platform that has been achieved by the privileged women; that, the radical history of working women’s movements to liberate women and men must not be diminished by those eager to erase the history of struggles and replace them with history of charities. That, the month of March, the week of March 8th and the Day of the International Women instruct us this: the working women (and, men) of the world must unite in cause, because they have nothing to lose. And, everything to gain.

(Written for Women’s Rights NY Blog and published first on MARCH 8, 2014)

AMIRI BARAKA: ANGRY BLACK COMMUNIST, THE SOUL OF THE SUN.

By Saswat Pattanayak

 

“Who invaded Grenada

Who made money from apartheid
Who keep the Irish a colony
Who overthrow Chile and Nicaragua later
Who killed David Sibeko, Chris Hani,
the same ones who killed Biko, Cabral,
Neruda, Allende, Che Guevara, Sandino,
Who killed Kabila, the ones who wasted Lumumba, Mondlane , Betty Shabazz, Princess Margaret, Ralph Featherstone, Little Bobby

Who locked up Mandela, Dhoruba, Geronimo,
Assata, Mumia,Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus Hutton

Who killed Huey Newton, Fred Hampton,
MedgarEvers, Mikey Smith, Walter Rodney,
Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel
Who tried to keep the Vietnamese Oppressed

Who put a price on Lenin’s head?”
(Amiri Baraka)
Who says Amiri Baraka is no more?

He is alive as long as there exists humanity. He shall remain relevant as long as critical questions continue to be posed. When Baraka wrote the poem “Somebody Blew Up America”, he was accused of anti-semitism, he was stripped of the poet laureate rank of New Jersey and many prominent political leaders and activists ridiculed him for having taken such a radical stand at a time when the country was mourning 9/11, as jingoism was the only poetic license a poet could afford to retain in America then. And yet, Amiri Baraka did not give in to the patriotic flavor of the day. He instead spoke the truth. Awards and recognitions were not going to influence him. He relinquished the honorary positions. He adopted what a true radical does: he remained unafraid of truth.

This truth however became the contentious issue for a hypocritical world order that soon termed him as controversial. What was controversial about furthering the cause of peace as an active oppositional stand against militarism and racism? Upon his demise, New York Times called him the “polarizing poet”. Polarizing? What was polarizing about the poet who dreamt of unifying the world while challenging the artificial geographical borders conveniently set by colonial masters?

Amiri Baraka was neither controversial nor polarizing. He was a poet, a historian, a progressive, romantic, revolutionary communist. And he was always unafraid of truth. The truth to him was revolution. A revolution to him was beyond a certain group of people, certain race of people, or people of a certain nationality. Like Paul Robeson before him, he strove for the revolution through his art. He shunned social divisions imposed by the ruling class. And if to acquire this truth, he had to struggle to reach there, he remained unafraid of that. He was not ashamed of transforming himself as a political being if by doing so he could further the progressive causes of the world. He wrote:

“I see art as a weapon of revolution. I define revolution in Marxist terms. Once I defined revolution in Nationalist terms. But I came to my Marxist view as a result of having struggled as a Nationalist and found certain dead ends theoretically and ideologically, as far as Nationalism was concerned and had to reach out for the communist ideology.”

When I met Amiri Baraka for the first time in Summer of 2011 at his house, he was 77. I had expected to see an old man, a retired poet, a tired revolutionary, or maybe a combination of all three. What I found in him instead was a young man deeply curious to know about international affairs, a passionate researcher sharing his new findings, and an enthusiastic radical radiating hope for the future. I had promised to be back to his place for another meeting, perhaps to conduct a more formal interview. But then I also knew that formal interviews are not conducted with lovers of revolution. Or, maybe I was quick to abandon any professional project in the midst of the hearty welcome, fine homemade foods and introductions with his entire family; the warmth and love that they bestowed upon my father (journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak) and I, when we visited him along with my dearest friend Dr. Todd S Burroughs, and beloved Professor and freedom fighter Dr. Les Edmond.

Todd S Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Les Edmond

Todd S Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Les Edmond

I saw Mr. Baraka two more times – once in Brooklyn during an evening of revolutionary recitals, and the last time was at a Left Forum event. On both the occasions, he kindly asked about my father and reminded me that we needed to have that interview we have been planning for. Well, the interview could never finally take place. But I have no regrets at all. The fact that I did get to see him in person a few times was itself such a precious experience. The fact that he and his remarkable wife, revolutionary poetess Amina Baraka posed for my lens will always remain the high point of my artistic career.

Amina Baraka & Amiri Baraka

Amina Baraka & Amiri Baraka

Personal is political and that is how I was drawn towards him early on. And that is the philosophy which was embodied in Baraka’s works throughout. His poems inspired me and empowered me. Baraka to me was Langston Hughes of our times. A poet of his people, a poet for all people. Like Hughes, his songs carried messages not of hope, but of revolution. Not of charities and feel good rhetorics, of sweet talks or inner peace bullshits. But of raw emotions, critical posers and call for actions.

Hughes had written:
“Goodbye
Christ Jesus Lord God Jehova,
Beat it on away from here now.
Make way for a new guy with no religion at all-
A real guy named
Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME-
I said, ME!”

Baraka, too wrote:
“We’ll worship Jesus
When Jesus do
Somethin
When jesus blow up
the white house…
we’ll worship jesus when
he get bad enough to at least scare
somebody – cops not afraid
of jesus
pushers not afraid
of jesus, capitalists racists
imperialists not afraid
of jesus shit they makin money off jesus
we’ll worship jesus when Mao
do, when tour does
when the cross replaces Nkrumah’s star
Jesus need to hurt some a our
enemies, then we’ll check him out…
we ain’t gon worship jesus
not till he do something
not till he help us
not till the world get changed
and he ain’t, jesus ain’t, he can’t change the world
we can change the world
we can struggle against the forces of backwardness,
we can struggle against our selves, our slowness, our connection
with the oppressor, the very cultural aggression which binds us to our enemies
as their slaves.
we can change the world
we aint gonna worship jesus cause jesus don’t exist
except in slum stained tears or trillion dollar opulence stretching back in history, the history
of the oppression of the human mind
xxxxx
we worship the strength in us
we worship our selves….
throw jesus out your mind
build the new world out of reality, and new vision
we come to find out what there is of the world
to understand what there is here in the world!
to visualize change, and force it.
we worship revolution.”

This is the Baraka I have known. The “real guy” Hughes wanted us to remember, emulate and while worshipping the revolution, to worship the revolutionary. It is not the gods who are immortal. It is Baraka and the revolutionaries like him who shall always live in our midst.

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka

Immortality is radicalism. Going to the roots and to find that all of us never really perished. We are all connected with each other, in our life form and without, in our present and our collective history. This is again what Baraka used to characterize as “Digging”, the name of the outstanding work of his that traces the evolution of Afro-American art. About that book, he had written, “This book is a microscope, a telescope, and being Black, a periscope. All to dig what is deeply serious…The sun is what keeps this planet alive, including the Music, like we say, the Soul of which is Black.”

Baraka’s black-is-beautiful was a legendary call for international unity for the people of the third world. It was a call for communism in a country that was the most anti-communist in the planet. Baraka never faltered, never feared and always remained the fighter, against conventional wisdom. In “Reggae or Not!”, he outlined who he was as a black man in America:

“Self Determination
Revolution
Socialism Socialism Socialism
DEATH TO ALLIGATOR EATING CAPITALISM
DEATH TO BIG TEETH BLOOD DRIPPING IMPERIALISM
I be black angry communist
I be part of rising black nation
I be together with all fighters who fight imperialism
I be together in a party with warmakers for the people
I be black and african and still contemporary marxist warrior
I be connected to people by blood and history and pain and struggle
We be together a party as one fist and voice
We be I be We, We, We, the whole fist and invincible flame
We be a party soon, we know our comrade for struggle…
Only Socialism will save
the Black Nation
Only Socialism will save
America
Only Socialism will save
the world!”

Goodbye, angry black communist. See you again in the morning, the soul of the sun.

—–

(Saswat.com)

The Best of all the New Year’s Messages I have received

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Amongst all the New Year’s messages I received this year, the first one was from Power and Information Minister Mr. Arun Kumar Sahoo, which, like the previous year, bears in poetic form his dialectic sojourn between the village and the Town.

When Orissa played host to the 74th session of Indian History Congress in 2013, the Card from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, with his wishes for 2014, has come with a picture of a stone sculpture from Orissa’s historic Buddhist monument, the Konark Temple, befitting to the occasion.

Yet, better than the many is the Card from my dear friend and elder brother, Journalist Barendra Krushna Dhal. Receiving his New Year’s Greetings every year has become a part of my life. In that, included are wishes from Bhauja, his beloved wife Snehalata Dhal (and the family). He makes it special by writing in his own hand my name, despite the nice printing. And, to tell the truth, every year I wait anxiously for his Card to arrive.

But the ‘Best’ amongst all that I have received this year, is the one from my son Saswat Pattanayak. Like all other years, his message is in his poetry written for the entire mankind. I share it here with the esteemed visitors to this site.

Unlock the New Year: Let Ourselves Prevail

“Where the mind is without fear”
and whistleblowers roam free
Prisons abolished; die with them,
values all reactionary

Where the world exults in differences, 
amidst sheer diversity
Supremacism ends; cease with it,
any collective adversity

Where ideas spring from 
challenged truths, broken promises
Perfection wound up; sought after 
no more are divine images

Where faith is exposed as 
a hopeless quest, of oppressed states
Reason, power and strength too 
seen as elite privileged quests     

Where rape no longer a metaphor, 
nor millionaires act commoners
Celebrities awaken the conscience, 
not as profiteers, accumulators 

Where the admired do not endorse wars, 
nor dwell in charities 
Corporate czars get caught 
faking empathies, moralist vanities

Where the homeless are not recruited
to clean nuclear mess
Working class emphatically organizes,
not rescued under duress

Where marginalized empowered, 
seeking no solace in a pope
Into such a year of radical possibilities,
immense in its scope

To undo, to unlearn, to find right here – 
both heaven and the hell
To end holy patriarchies and capitalism, 
let ourselves prevail.

– Saswat Pattanayak, peoples’ poet.

(the above verse is inspired by Tagore’s poem from Gitanjali ).