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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Revolutionary Rebellion in Egypt

February 18,2011

The Revolutionary Rebellion in Egypt

I said several days ago that the die was cast for Mubarak and that not even Obama could save him.
The world knows what is taking place in the Middle East. The news is circulating at incredible speed. Politicians barely have time to read the cables coming in by the hour. Everyone is aware of the importance of what is occurring there.
After 18 days of harsh battling, the Egyptian people attained an important objective: to defeat the United States' principal ally in the heart of the Arab countries. Mubarak was oppressing and plundering his own people, he was an enemy of the Palestinians and an accomplice of Israel, the sixth nuclear power on the planet, associated with the military NATO group.
The Egyptian Armed Forces, under the command of Gamal Abdel Nasser, had overthrown a submissive king and created the Republic which, with support from the USSR, defended the homeland from the Franco-British and Israeli invasion in 1956 and retained possession of the Suez Canal and the independence of this millennial nation.
Thus Egypt enjoyed a high level of prestige in the Third World. Nasser was known as one of the most outstanding leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, which he participated in creating, together with other eminent leaders of Asia, Africa and Oceania who were fighting for national liberation and political and economic independence from the former colonies.
Egypt always enjoyed the support and respect of the abovementioned international organization which brings together more than 100 countries. That sister nation currently presides over the Movement for the three-year period established; and the support of many of its members for the struggle which its people are now waging will not be slow in coming.
What did the Camp David Accords signify, and why are the heroic Palestinian people so passionately defending their most vital rights?
At Camp David – with the mediation of the then U.S. President Jimmy Carter – the Egyptian leader Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the famous accords between Egypt and Israel.
It is said that they held secret talks during 12 days and, on September 17, 1979, signed two important accords: one referring to peace between Egypt and Israel, and another related to the creation of an autonomous territory in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which Al-Sadat thought – and Israel knew and shared the idea – would be the headquarters of the Palestinian state, whose existence, as well as that of the state of Israel, the United Nations Organization agreed on November 29, 1947, during the British Mandate of Palestine.
After difficult and complex talks, Israel agreed to withdraw its troops from the Egyptian territory of Sinai, although it categorically rejected the participation of Palestinian representatives in the peace negotiations.
As a result of the first agreement, Israel returned to Egypt the Sinai territory occupied in one of the Arab-Israeli wars.
In virtue of the second, both parties committed themselves to negotiate the creation of the autonomous regime in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The former comprised a territory of 5,640 square kilometers and 2.1 million inhabitants; and the latter, 360 square kilometers and 1.5 million inhabitants.
The Arab countries were angry with that agreement in which, in their judgment, Egypt did not energetically and firmly defend a Palestinian state whose right to exist had been at the center of the struggles waged for decades by the Arab states.
Their reaction reached such extreme indignation that many of them broke off relations with Egypt. In that way, the UN Resolution of November 1947 was erased from the map. The autonomous entity was never created and thus the Palestinians were deprived of the right to exist as an independent state, leading to the interminable tragedy endured there and which should have been resolved more than three decades ago.
The Arab population of Palestine is the victim of acts of genocide; their lands are being snatched from them and are deprived of water in those semi-desert areas, and their housing is destroyed with sledge hammers. In the Gaza Strip, one and a half million people are systematically attacked with explosive missiles, live phosphorus and the well-known stun grenades. The territory of the Strip is blockaded by land and sea. Why is there so much talk about the Camp David Accords and no mention of Palestine?
The United States supplies Israel with the most modern and sophisticated armament, worth billions of dollars every year. Egypt, an Arab country, was converted into the second recipient of U.S. weapons. To fight against whom? Against another Arab country? Against the Egyptian people themselves?
When the population was demanding respect for their most elemental rights and the resignation of a president whose policies consisted of exploiting and plundering his people, the repressive forces trained by the United States did not hesitate to fire on them, killing hundreds and wounding thousands.
When the Egyptian people were awaiting explanations from the government of their own country, the replies came from senior officers from U.S. intelligence agencies or the U.S. government, without any respect whatsoever for Egyptian officials.
Do the leaders of the United States and their intelligence services, by any chance, know nothing of the Mubarak government's colossal theft?
Faced with the people's mass protests in Tahrir Square, neither government officials nor intelligence agents said one single word about privileges and the bold-faced robbery of billions of dollars.
It would be an error to imagine that the revolutionary popular movement in Egypt simply constitutes a reaction against the violation of their most fundamental rights. Peoples do not risk repression or death, nor do they stand fast the whole night protesting energetically about purely formal issues. They do so when their legal and material rights are pitilessly sacrificed to the insatiable demands of corrupt politicians and to the national and international forces sacking the country.
The rate of poverty already affected the vast majority of a combative, young and patriotic people, whose dignity, culture and beliefs have all been attacked.
How could they reconcile themselves to the continuing increase in the price of food with the tens of billions of dollars attributed to President Mubarak and the privileged sectors of his government and society?
At this point, it is not enough to know how high that figure is; it must be demanded that the funds be returned to the nation.
Obama is affected by the events in Egypt; he acts or appears to act as if he were the owner of the planet. What is happening in Egypt seems to be his own issue. He has not stopped talking over the telephone with leaders of other countries.
The EFE agency, for example, reports, "… He spoke with British Prime Minister
David Cameron; Jordan's King Abdala II and with the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a moderate Islamist.
"The U.S. President recognized the 'historic change' that Egyptians have made and reaffirmed his admiration for their efforts…" 
The principal U.S. news agency AP released some arguments worthy of attention:
"Wanted: Moderate, Western-leaning Mideast leaders willing to be friends with Israel and cooperate in the fight against Islamic extremism while protecting human rights…
"That's the impossible wish list from the Obama administration after popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia ousted two long-serving and close but deeply flawed U.S. allies in stunning rebellions that many believe will spread. 
"This dream resume doesn't exist and isn't likely to appear soon. Part of the reason is that American administrations for the past four decades sacrificed the lofty human rights ideals they espoused for the sake of stability, continuity and oil in one of the world's most volatile regions.
"'Egypt will never be the same,' Obama said as he welcomed the departure of Hosni Mubarak on Friday.
"'Through their peaceful protests,' Obama said, 'Egyptians changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.'
"Even though governments around the Arab world are nervous, there is no sign that entrenched elites in Egypt and Tunisia are willing to cede the power and vast economic leverage they have enjoyed…
"The Obama administration has insisted ever since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia last month – a day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Arab leaders in a speech in Qatar that without reform the foundations of their countries were 'sinking into the sand…'"
The people in Tahrir Square do not appear to be very docile.
Europe Press relates:
"Thousands of demonstrators have arrived in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the mobilizations which provoked the resignation of the country's President, Hosni Mubarak, to reinforce those who have remained in the area despite attempts by the military police to dislodge them, according to reports by the BBC.
"The BBC correspondent posted in the central Cairo plaza has reiterated that the army is looking indecisive faced with the arrival of more demonstrators…
"The hardcore are situated on one of the square's corners… and have decided to stay in Tahrir to make sure that their demands are met."
Regardless of what may happen in Egypt, one of the most serious problems faced by imperialism at this time is the shortage of grain, which I analyzed in my January 19 Reflection.
The United States uses an important part of the corn it raises, and a large portion of soybeans, to produce biofuels. Europe, for its part, employs millions of hectares of land for this purpose.
On the other hand, as a consequence of climate change produced fundamentally by the rich, developed countries, a shortage of water and food is emerging which is incompatible with the growth of the world's population, at a rate which will result in 9 billion inhabitants within 30 years, without the United Nations or the most influential governments on the planet warning or informing the world of the situation in the wake of the fraudulent Copenhagen and Cancun meetings. 
We support the valiant Egyptian people and their struggle for political rights and social justice.
We are not opposed to the people of Israel; we are opposed to the genocide of the Palestinian people and in favor of their right to an independent state.
We are not in favor of war, but rather in favor of peace among all peoples.
Fidel Castro Ruz
February 13, 2011

January 31,2011


Mubarak's fate is sealed, not even the support of the United States will be able to save his government. The people of Egypt are an intelligent people with a glorious history who left their mark on civilization... »

January 13,2011

The Crime Against The Democratic CongressWoman

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January 03,2011

The battle against cholera

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February 17,2011

Capital in India

For the first time, as far as I know, an Indian edition of the full three volumes of Marx's Capital is available. LeftWord ( published the three volumes of Capital earlier this year, along with a companion volume with essays by various writers (myself included) that introduce the principle themes of Marx's mature work. To be fair, the LeftWord volume is less an Indian edition than an Indian publication. LeftWord has printed an extant edition. This was not a new translation or an edition with a special scholarly and political apparatus for the Indian reader. Nevertheless, Capital is available in an Indian publication at a relatively affordable price (the three volumes, hardback, leatherbound cost Rs. 1400 for book club members; the companion volume is Rs. 140 for book club members, and it includes essays by Venkatesh Athreya, Jayati Ghosh, R. Ramakumar, Prasenjit Bose, T. Jayaraman, Prabhat Patnaik, and myself).
I bought my first Capital set in 1981 from a Progress Publishers stall at a book fair. It was very cheap. I also bought Tolstoy's Resurrection, a book that had an enormous influence on me at that time (I wrote about that in the SFI journal a few years ago). When the Soviet Union collapsed, cheap copies of Capital from Progress Publishers were no longer available. It was hard to get access to cheap editions, since the only available ones (from Penguin and an abridged version from Oxford) were very expensive. Capital is not a book that one can borrow from a friend or from the library. It is not a book that can be read at a sitting and then set down. It is necessary to read Capital slowly, with others in a group, and over and over again. This is a book that needs to be used, to be read actively.
LeftWord's edition is, however, not the first edition of Marx's Capital. In 1944, Sree Saraswaty Press published an abridged version of the book. Sree Saraswathy was run by S. N. Guha Ray, an eclectic publisher who printed such books as K. D. Chatterjee's Parasitology in Relation to Clinical Medicine, the Collected Scientific Papers of Meghnad Saha, the Bethune School and College Centenary Volume, and Prabodh Chandra Sinha's The Problems of Education in Bengal. Guha Ray also published an important set of books known as the Struggle for Swaraj Series. The version of Capital that he published was edited and abridged by an extraordinary man, L. G. Ardnihcas.
Ardnihcas's version of Capital was abridged from the 3rd German Edition, edited by Friedrich Engels and translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. The changes for the 4th edition appeared as long footnotes. Ardnihcas wrote a thorough preface to the volume ("Introduction to the First Indian Edition"). It provided an outline of Marx's analysis from the three volumes of Capital. At its center is the theory of value. He gives a brief explanation of the idea of surplus value, and then goes to the heart of the politics of its structural theft in the production process:
"The progress of capitalism is marked by two distinct tendencies. On the one hand, big capital ousts small, until the wealth of the world is concentrated into the hands of a few colossally wealthy persons. On the other hand, it causes degradation and demoralization among the labouring classes. The giving of liberal wages and amenities to them does not touch the root of the problem. Affluence is a relative term and its only yardstick is the disparity between what the capitalist and the labourer get. For every penny the labourer receives the exploiter gets a thousand pounds. Thus the conflict grows and as wealth accumulates at one pole and misery at the other, the proletariat is organized into industrial armies, clearly conscious of their class position. Ultimately capitalism is ruined by the very excess of its wealth – the accumulated surplus value in its hands. When things come to a crisis, the organized proletariat take the initiative and seize possession of the means of production for the good of all."
The logic of capital, and its gravedigger, is unimpeachable. But it was of course overly optimistic. Even if it is objectively true that capitalism produces grave inequalities, and even if it is true that these inequalities engender the sensation of outrage, it does not follow that this outrage will be captured into the "industrial armies," or the trade unions and Communist Parties, nor does it follow that this will result in socialism. History is cruel. It does not move in a straight line. Other things come in the way, such as ideology and frailty. These should not be underestimated. Nor should one dismiss the extraordinary power amassed by the rich alongside their extraordinary wealth. Marx had not fully elaborated his theory of power and inter-state relations. That was to be come in his plans for the following volumes of Capital. But nonetheless, the importance of force in human history had a place in his analysis. When the "industrial armies" do emerge, so too does the force of counter-revolution.
Ardnihcas knew full well of the undertow of ideology and tradition. The year after his Capital was published, Guha Ray published Ardnihcas' spirited book, The Soviet East: A Story of the Making of Man (1945). A 145-page book, The Soviet East offered a study of the USSR in Central Asia. Here Ardnihcas had two motives: he wanted to compare the USSR policy in Central Asia with British Imperialism in India (the latter was found wanting); and he wanted to demonstrate the impressive achievements of the Soviet Union in Central Asia. On the comparison between the Soviets and the British, Ardnihcas wrote, "Of the dependence of demilitarized India and her half-fed billions vegetating under the protection of the British ruling class on the mercies of foreign countries little need be said here. But look at the USSR. Twenty five years ago Russia was the despair of the civilized world of the West. Today she is her savior and tomorrow she can well be her redeemer." And a half century later, some parts of Ardnihcas's assessment was also accepted by Manmohan Singh: "By any reckoning, the Soviet Union has a highly impressive record in terms of the speed of the accumulation process and the structural transformation of its economy and society under the regime of planning" (1989).
Did Central Asia benefit from its entry into the USSR? "Had [the Great Russians] so minded," Ardnihcas wrote, "they could have had socialism at home and imperialism abroad and thereby earned the gratitude of Chamberlains and Churchills. They could have become fat on the labour of Asiatics, like the British who prosper on the labour of the Indians and Africans." Instead, "the Bolsheviks dealt the legend of racial inequality and the luxury of racial prejudice a mortal blow." They took the total development of Central Asia seriously. Success was not guaranteed, but the attitude toward change was monumental. Bureaucratic processes got in the way of social development in Central Asia. It posed a serious problem for the construction of socialism in the region. These trends were not clear in 1944. By 1991, they were clarified.
Ardnihcas was aware of the attempt to suppress religion in the early years of the Revolution. People like the Uzbek Communist Akmal Ikromov took a hard line against Islamic education and institutions. This approach was rolled back in 1943-44, and the USSR created, what historian Eren Tasar calls the "vanguard muftiate." New institutions for Islam were created, in the hope that these would produce an Islam that was coterminous with socialism. Ardnihcas was aware of the difficulty of cultural change, and of the light touch needed by Communists as they dealt with tradition and habit. Nevertheless, he was impressed by the efforts made to create what he called the "making of man." It reminds me of Akbar Illahabadi, aadmi tha, bari mushkil se insaan hua. We were people, with great difficulty we became human.
"A certain amount of set-back and even retrogression is possible," Ardnihcas wrote, "and does happen, and the struggle starts afresh from the beginning." There is no guarantee in the political domain, and no ease of transit from the objection conditions of deprivation to the subjective organization to reorder society. Cultural and political change are not easy to complete. The struggle is unpredictable. No wonder that Rosa Luxemburg said that the objective conditions of inequality provide human history with two roads: Socialism or Barbarism, either the vast mass seize society and reorder it in a socialist direction, or barbaric tendencies will destroy humanity itself (and the planet).
We read Marx to understand the method for an analysis of the objective processes that generate inequality in a capitalist society. That method is crucial. It is a science to understand the production of inequality through the structural theft of surplus value. "There is, of course," Ardnihcas wrote, "a lot of unreflecting hero-worship about, and an adulation which Marx would not have liked if he were alive today. Marx undoubtedly explains many things and sets the model for a method of enquiry by which all other things can be explained. But he left several things unexplained." It is for us, as Marxists, to draw from his method and his analysis, test it against the developments in the world, and produce accounts that not only explain the chaos around us, but find a mechanism to move history forward in a progressive direction.
I know very little about Ardnihcas. I am trying to find out more. Who was this man? What was he doing in Kolkata in the 1940s? Was he involved in the Communist Party? If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
Capital is now available in India. It must be read and re-read. As Ardnihcas wrote, Capital is "the most talked-of and least read book in the present century." We need to change that equation and make it as well the most read book in our times.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. The Swedish and French editions are just out. He can be reached at: 

February 25,2011

Economic Survey 2010-2011: Full of Contradictions

With domestic inflationary trend remaining unchecked there is hardly any possibility of economic relief to common people. Pointing to International Monetary Fund projections of continued pressure on commodity and non-commodity prices, the latest economic survey of the Government of India observes that "this year, inflation seems to be driven by demand factors, despite higher supply levels" This is in contrast to the fact that during the last fiscal year, inflation was mostly driven by a deficient mansoon, leading to scarcity of certain food products.
The survey tabled by the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for 2010-11 during the current budget session of Parliament reflects contradictory observations. While it warns the spiraling crisis in West Asia and rising global commodity prices could increase the inflationary pressures at home the survey expresses hope that the government expects inflation to moderate to around 5 per cent by June-July. However, it declines to disclose policy measures required to combat the rising pressures of global commodity prices. The commodity prices are sure to jump as the West Asian turmoil has already taken global oil prices to a two-year high of over 100 US dollar per barrel. 
The inflationary pressures on the domestic front, according to the survey, are likely to be exacerbated by the higher levels of global commodity prices. "The political turmoil in West Asia and the 'easy money' policy being followed by developed nations will have a bearing on headline inflation.
As regard oil prices are concerned the survey report presented by the Finance Minister says the Indian economy is resilent to deal the rising crude oil prices that surged to a 30-month high. However, a further hike of 2.50 a litre petrol is needed to level them with global rates.
The survey has hinted that despite increase of milk production in the country it cannot meet the demand requiring import. 

February 21,2011

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February 19,2011

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February 18,2011

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February 15,2011

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February 12,2011

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