dr anonymous's blog

Open Thread: Randomness

By: on 12 Jan 2008

You know that homophobia is losing when its advocates have to veer dangerously close to the plot of a Ted Danson movie for examples to back up their arguments.  Read all about the alleged twins who allegedly married each other allegedly by accident and allegedly may exist in order to all

Letter To American Editors On The Cheap Indian Car

By: on 11 Jan 2008

I suppose I shouldn't participate in this outsourced corporate marketing scheme from Tata, but I'm a sheep. And an uncompensated sheep at that.



In a departure from my normal strategy of media criticism (just carping), I'm going to provide constructive suggestions from what I want to see from stories from the American media and people who call themselves "analysts" on Tata's one-lakh car that's been in the works for a long time and made a splash today. However, I will continue to approach writing in the fashion of a fascist schoolmarm.

Bhutto Dead

By: on 27 Dec 2007

I don't really have anything to say right now. I just wanted to let you know in case you hadn't read the news.

Don't Mess With Death-xas

By: on 26 Dec 2007

I need to do a brief move away from desi-related issues* because of this news that Texas, the (adopted) home of the Bush dynasty, is not only leading the United States in executions with 60% of them, but that this percentage is likely to go up even further.

From The NY Times (link above):

...enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states, none of which executed more than three people. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.

Indeed, said David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented death-row inmates, the day is not far off when essentially all executions in the United States will take place in Texas.

“The reason that Texas will end up monopolizing executions,” he said, “is because every other state will eliminate it de jure, as New Jersey did, or de facto, as other states have.”

It's this last bit that's interesting--the growing contrast between Texas and other states on this issue. It makes me think of how things are changing.Over the last 30 odd years, there's been a broad shift towards the ideology and values of this thing we have called a conservative movement--a coalition of "social conservatives" (who collective handle explicit or implicit racism, some profoundly patriarchal tendencies--notably in the religious sphere--and of course violence, as noted above and in foreign policy) and business/capital/finance capital. It would be surprising if this culture--through Wal-Mart, sports, the stock exchange, television news, and other national institutions--hasn't infiltrated the pores of the American body politic everywhere, though to different degrees. That's one of several reasons why it might not be useful to stigmatize Texas or Louisiana when trying to speak productively (rather than just venting). Others implied below.

Presidential elections over historical time can serve as markers for how to understand change and how it fits with the ebbs and flows of American politics over the past 75 years. As you might know, from 1932 to 1968 there was one coalition which won all the Presidential elections (New Deal/civil rights, basically). That coalition elected politicians that pass for left in the United States like JFK from states that are comparatively socially liberal like Massachusetts and even Eisenhower, the President from the "conservative" party, represented "the party's moderate eastern establishment."

Saving the Savages

By: on 24 Dec 2007

I recently received the following e-mail on a listserv for the desi queers:

Successful writer seeks gay Asians to interview for THE ADVOCATE, the world's largest gay magazine. Must live in Asian countries that discriminate against gays and/or force them to stay in the closet. Your name and photo will be used but it can be altered for your protection.

Open Thread: Careers For PTR Fans

By: on 19 Dec 2007

Anyone have suggestions for jobs that heavily involve writing and thinking besides academia and journalism, the obvious poles? Aside from my obvious self-interest in the topic, it's a dilemma a lot of us face, this being in between, being connected to writing and being connected to thinking.

So? :)

A,E,I,O,U, and sometimes How

By: on 19 Dec 2007

I. Historiography*

Among the many things I've rediscovered in the past few months is that learning without primary sources is hard for me. Having not taken any history courses in my program, I find myself confronted with analysis after analysis about the history of India and Pakistan--political, economic--that rely on...what?

I wanted to know the answer to a question that ought to be a basic prereq for everyone concerned with South Asia: How did South Asia become incorporated into the international division of labor and more broadly the European capitalist system (that is now global)? This stemmed from an initial encounter with World Systems Theory and the tactical use of the geographical area as a focus; I'm ignoring for a second that in the way that I had framed the question I had already taken sides in a debate**, as we'll see later on.

Considering that one needs to know the 5Ws (and sometimes H), I thought that a good way to approach it might be to try to understand the regional political economy and social, to the extent possible, prior to the colonial intrusion. For convenience's sake, you can say that the system of monopolistic economic control by British agents began sometimes in the mid-to-late 18th century. So you would want to know what situation the subsequent system followed from in order to understand how the economic and political situations in South Asia changed (not to mention the psychological, but we'll leave Ashis Nandy for another day).

Conveniently, though perhaps a bit too much so, the high period of the Mughal Empire ruled over much of what is now called South Asia from the early 16th to the early 18th centuries (please let me know if I have the dates wrong). This is setting aside for a moment the question of whether British colonialism caused or simply followed from the decline of Mughal rule (I'd go with the latter...see the dates I've used in this :), since you would expect that to get resolved in looking at this subject matter anyway. Moreover, focusing only on the Mughals is an extremely limited way to look at things--sort of putting the cart before the horse. The Mughal empire, even including the subsystems that it included or interacted with, certainly wasn't the only political or economic form that existed in South Asia--it's just the one you can find out about.

So, take as a starting point to answer this question a fairly straightforward way to proceed--find out what life and the political system were like in 18th century South Asia from a social and political economy vantage point on the basis of what we know about the Mughal high period.

Turns out, not so straightforward.

There Was A Coup Attempt In The Philippines Yesterday

By: on 5 Dec 2007

Heard about it?

I thought this was the age of instant news, but apparently if you self-select enough and then rely on the NY Times to fill out your knowledge, you miss things. Like attempts to overthrow governments.  I suppose it's more important "news" in someone's mind that Last Call With Carson Daly wasn't funny last night b/c of an entertainment industry strike.

So What Now?

By: on 29 Nov 2007

Musharraf took off the uniform and agreed to suspend military rule on the 16th of December, with elections to go forward on the 8th of January.

If I Can't Oppose State Murder, I Don't Want To Be In Your Revolution

By: on 27 Nov 2007
I went for the Puja (pdf), and we were sitting there. The police came and kicked the idol. We appealed to them not to get violent and leave us alone. However they on the contrary started abusing verbally and simultaneously started lathi charge, throwing tear gases and firing bullets. 20 -25 women were beaten and thrown in the trenches and soil filled and road made over it. They killed children- they shot, hacked and even tore them apart with their two legs. 5-6 women were raped and they cant be traced anymore.

-testimony of Lata Mondal, local resident, in English version of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights report on Nandigram

When the police open fire in the name of a Left-wing government, it should always give us pause. There is no question that it is a symptom of a political problem, which requires a political solution. But, it is in this juncture that cooler heads need to prevail. One expects nothing more from the TMC, who not only egged on the situation, but has also, unsuccessfully attempted to collect political capital on it. Nor can one expect much from the Naxalites, the unreconstructed Maoists, who have largely lost control of their political strategy in favor of what was once called the "propaganda of the deed." Acts of violence against their major political enemy, the Left Front, is their raison d'etre. One does, however, expect more from the reformed Maoists, the anarcho-syndicalists and the non-Party Left. They, after all, could play a good, critical role in West Bengal, pushing from the Left, criticizing and learning. Instead, they have joined with the Trojan Horse of the far right, by an elementary error: to care only for short-term tactics and be blind to long-term strategy. If the TMC had succeeded in breaking the back of the Left, where would this leave the non-Left Front Left? What is their revolutionary strategy in that case?

-Sudhanva Deshpande and Vijay Prashad in Counterpunch, May 23, 2007

After the CPI(M) first gained a share of post-independence power in West Bengal in 1967, the Naxalite movement quickly emerged and there was generally land appropriation, urban labor strife, and student protest. There are different perspectives on the role of CPI(M) in this. Some sources say the CPI(M) was engaged in sectarian warfare with the Naxalites through the early 1970s. These sources also say that they assisted Indira Gandhi's centre government in "cleaning up" over the next decade and thousands were killed in a combination of sectarian violence and state repression, with the convenience of army troops that were involved in the war to the east in 1971.

On the other hand, author Atul Kohli says that they pursued a policy of deliberate non-interference with the land reform movement at first and were largely successful in governance through the late 80s because of their discipline, willingness, and ability to implement a reform agenda. There were accomplishments like Operation Barga, according to both Kohli and those who disagree with him about whether CPI(M) helped kill the Naxals. This program raised incomes substantially for rural sharecroppers, among the poorest people in the state.

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