Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fighting Globalisation with Goebbelisation*

In my previous post about MICANVAS 2005, I briefly mentioned a Film Appreciation Workshop I attended. I also mentioned that the conductor of the workshop would require a whole article dedicated to himself to do him justice. This is that article.

Abhiskek and I turned up at MICA at around 10 am on Saturday. As it turned out, we had about six hours to kill, as the quiz (which we had come to attend) did not start till 4 pm. Seeing the schedule we were given, we saw that there was a Film Appreiation workshop that morning. Abhishek was interested in going, and I decided to go along as well. On the way to the workshop, we met Gaurav Sabnis, who told us that the conductor of the workshop was a leftist, and fun would come. So, we went for the workshop.

The four of us (Abhishek, Gaurav, Ramanand and I) turned up at the venue of the workshop and took our seats. Soon after, Prof. AF Matthew, who was to conduct the workshop, came in, and gave us a brief introduction to Film Appreciation (the standard bromides about how it is an art, with the equally standard warning that owners of ringing mobile phones would be castrated).

The good professor showed us the first film, Alain Resnais' Night and Fog, a good, if gory depiction of Nazi concentration camps filmed in Auschwitz in 1955. It is an amazing documentary, no doubt, but is quite disturbing. To be fair, Prof. Matthew had warned us that he'd decided not to "play it safe" with his pick of two films, and told us to expect disturbing footage. But the long and short of it is, the audience were left quite mind****ed by the end of the first screening.

Night and Fog ends with an admonition to the viewer that the kind of people who built the concentration camps still exist even thought the Nazis were defeated and we might see the likes of Auschwitz even after the Fuhrerbunker fell ( prescient considering that the Gulag system endured another 45 years). Prof Matthew took this opportunity to remind us that capitalism (which he took to be the enemy in Resnais' warning) was still alive and kicking, and that every effort should be made to defeat it. He also mentioned that according to Indian Government statistics poverty in India has risen 3 percentage points (from 38% to 41%, IIRC) and that according to the Union Home Ministry, Maoist Rebels control an area from Karnataka to Nepal, the "Red Corridor". "Red Corridor?" he challenged, "I call it the Liberated Corridor". Then he went on to inform us that the Maoist publication People's War has in fact a higher circulation than the Times of India (Aside: I wonder if he noticed that the ToI sales staff don't carry automatic weapons). He then made a few more unsubstantiated statements ("Indian advertising in the past 10 years has been anti-Muslim") before going on to a photo essay.

Now, as a preface to the photo essay, he mentioned that behinad all good art, there must be politics (I don't recall the exact words, but it went something like that). He went on to stress the importance of the "right" politics, which were embodied by the photgraphers his essay showcased, like the man who "inspite of a million dollar salary" went and photographed Iraqi insurgents in their own ranks. He showed us the photo-essay, which was admittedly quite good. The pictures he had selected were usually of people who were suffering "the effects of Capitalism". Each photo was accompanied by a little talk on the suffering of the subject of the picture, and it's cause (you guessed it, Capitalism). He did gloss over some pictures of suffering, notably one of homeless people in Lithuania in 1979 (I wonder why).

Then came the fun part. Our friend the professor started showing us slides of prominent US political figures (usually Republicans) making outrageoulsy right-wing comments. Some of the people featured (like Ann Coulter or Fred Phelps) were bonafide right-wing nut-jobs, but a majority of the comments were takeen out of context. In particular, he showed a particular US minister (I forget which one) saying that there was no need to protect the economy, because the second coming was at hand. Now Gaurav interjected to say that the comment had been a joke (can you provide me with a source if you're reading this), but the professor refused to listen. he went on to the next slide, that of Pat Robertson making his (in)famous statement on Hugo Chavez. This was the point where Prof. AF Matthew, the peaceful leftist and avowed Nazi-hater said, "He shopuld be put in a concentration camp and gassed (for saying that)".

Now the audience, mostly quiet till then, began to speak up. One particular chap began to question him, mainly about his assertion that Pat Robertson represented US government views. The guy pointed out that Robertson was forced to apologise for his remarks, and lost quite some advertising and other evenue thanks to it. The professor, in response, deftly shifted goalposts. What about the Kasmiris, he asked. So many of them, Indian citizens all, have been killed. The dissenter (gamely, IMO, considering the abrupt shift of topic) countered that Kashmiri Pundits had been kicked out of their homes by their freedom-loving neighbours, to which the professor replied that a majority of the Kashmiri Pundits had not left Kashmir. That statement is a model of disingenuoity: Kashmiri Pundits have been driven from the Kashmir Valley to refugee camps in Jammu, which lies in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. He then spoke about Indian government run concentration camps in Nagaland, where he said, "people are rounded up from their villages, put in camps along the Highway, and Carpet-bombed". Before anyone had time to respond, he moved to the LTTE in Sri Lanka, whose struggle, it appears, began way back in the 60s, when the majoritarian Sinhala government used crop-dusters to drop feces on the Tamils.

At this point, perhaps presciently seeing the surge of disagreement in the audience, he announced a ten-minute break, for, he said, us to cool down. Which was sad, because although I wanted to argue with him, going back into that room, with all the straw men, was beyond my powers of endurance. Abhishek, Gaurav, Ramanand and Amit Varma, who'd joined the workshop midway, agreed with me, and we ran out.

All in all it wasn't a bad experience. I got a chance to see many fallacies, so far only encountered in boring Logic lectures, being used in a real-life argument. I also took hope in the fact that if the left stormed to power with arguments as verifiably false as these, Classic Liberalism/Libertarianism too has a chance. I'm totally looking forward to the next leftist rant I hear. Fun comes.

¡Viva la Revolución!

(*Headline Quote originally by Gaurav Sabnis.)

46 Comments:

Blogger Pankaj said...

Hello Kunal,

To be informed is to be discerning and I think you were able to see through the whole charade being enacted by the Professor.

But just imagine the number of converts this guy would be able to win over, for the world is full of the half informed who do not have any ability to see through the communist propaganda.

Regards.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Wimpy said...

these commies rock dude! they seem to be one of the chief sources of humor nowadays!

5:38 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Pankaj: Yeah, and it must be even worse for the MICAns who have no choice but to listen to him for two years. He must have hajaar converts there.

Wimpy: What they say is entertaining, but what ain't funny is how many people take it seriously.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous rajesh said...

interesting to note that all of you sound equally goebbelised in your positions on the issue. And how come you all never go beyond the accepted modern paradfgm that is afloat and all you guys do is to just echo it like parrots?

And all what you have said as to what Prof. Mathew has supposedly said has been twisted royally and placed without the context. I too was there at the venue, be objective man

You guys have no idea whats happening. Could you just look around whats happening in the country?

Rajesh

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us join in with Rajesh


It seems none of you all have actually got the gyst of what that man was talking about in the film studies workshop! I agree with Rajesh when he says that you all are also behaving like Goebbels.


Not surprising after all you must not have seen anything other than computer science and management. And you guys need a course in reading history and also sociology.

If Prof. Mathew is a communist like you say.... that he has a right to be that no? Like you guys seem to be swearing by right wing fundamentalists? You also have a right to whatever little you profess in? So let him be man

And learn to listen to people! You say that man has jazzy qualifications so why did you twist all what he said?
you have also twisted all what he said..

And by the way he said that

1) Why is that we all talk about the Pandits that have left the valley and not talk about those who stayed behind or those who profess still to the Kashmiri identity (Please read some more on Kashmiri history)

2) is there anything wrong is talking about people who are upset the way we treat them?

3) And by the way he never mentioned Night and Fog with destruction of capitalism (dude you were sleeping or what?) What he said was that there are people who have the same right wing attitude (which resulted in the holocaust) today amidst us

IT SEEMS YOU GUYS HAVE PROVED HIS POINT!

4) he didn't mention about the "sales" of publication of banned books. This is crazy. He did say that such publications have a huge fan following among the masses

5) he was quoting all the government statistics (by the way) so he was only echoing the usual stuff and nothing much radical!

Be objective and just reflect and search for indivdual histories of the region that constitute India

Joy

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mathew was my professor in MIC for two years. I know for a fact that he does not speak without validating his point with research.

You should also understand that he teaches a bunch of young college kids who could not care less about whats happenning around them. I remember an outlook study a couple of years back that proved the same.

I can also tell you that he never turned any of the MIC students into commies, if he did turn them into anything it was a little more aware of the world. He also encouraged them to go out there read more and make opinions of thier own. What you have stated in your blog is not justified at all.

-Lavanya DJ

4:27 PM  
Blogger Sandesh said...

Good Post Kunal.

I just believe that Capitalism in its purest form is the best form of Socialism.

The commies in India are hyppocratic people who have made money like hell, sent their kids to foreign univs.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

Joy, Rajesh

Get me the source of the info that Matthew mentioned, i.e the fact that the Indian government's own survey shows that population below poverty line has increased since liberalisation to 41%. Actually it has decreased to 26%.

And since you were there, do you deny that he said Robertson should be gassed? If it is OK for Matthew to say Robertson should be gassed, why is it wrong for Robertson to say Chavez should be killed?

Finally, neither Kunal, nor any of us are supporting the right-wingers. I myself hate right wing politics, be it Christian, Hindu or Muslim. What I object to is the gentleman lumping right-wing together with capitalism.

I would also like to know if Prof Matthew understands what carpet bombing means. The statement he mentioned, also pointed out by Kunal, shows that he has no idea what carpet bombing is.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

And yes, Joy, this is such a ridiculous statement -

Why is that we all talk about the Pandits that have left the valley and not talk about those who stayed behind or those who profess still to the Kashmiri identity (Please read some more on Kashmiri history)

Tomorrow you will ask why do we talk only about the jews killed in the holocaust, and not about the jews who are still alive.

How would you or Matthew react if I say, why are you talking about the 2000 Muslims killed in Gujarat, and not about the 15 crore Muslims who still live in India and profess the Indian identity?

Get my point, as to why that logic is so ridiculous. People talk of the lakhs of Pandits driven out because they are victims, and if victims' rights are trampled, then they deserve to be talked about and protected. Much like the 2000 Muslims killed in Gujarat under Modi-raj, deserve to be talked about even though in percentage terms, they are a miniscule of the total Muslim population in Gujarat.

1:28 AM  
Blogger AKS said...

Hi! Friends

Here is my two penny worth on the issue.

I am not from MICA & neither do I know any of you or the professor in question. But from what I read -

I tend to agree with Rajesh & two anonymous posts thereon. The views in this article are, to put it simply, biased.

With what credentials are we commenting on the prof in question, who by your own admission has great credentials? By discussing this are we not influencing (in your words educating) minds? Best of it all - are we not stating that MICA students are vulnerable young 'uninformed' individuals who will carry the prof's worldview?

In our top hallowed portals of knowledge (like MICA) we have a mix of profs - if this one was 'commie' as you put it then there are others (I guess more in numbers) who are 'capi-s'.

Grow up guys. We do not get anything by making fool out of an erudite person who believes in his work and opinions. In a more informed world we paint ourselves as fools by trying that.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

OK, I am on a bit of a roll here, but remembered another point of Goebbelisation. My girlfriend who studies in MICA said she doesn't like Ayn Rand any more because she helped the McCarthy-ists hunt down and eliminate Communists in the film industry. This is something even Matthew made a reference to that day.

That is such a load of crap. the way he says it, it seems as if McCarthy and Rand sat together exchanging notes on commies and then eliminating them.

In reality, which if you have awareness enough to google, Rand's role during the McCarthy era was limited to only one testimony she gave before the HUAC. In that she gave her opinion about one particular work, and explained in great detail about how she thought it was a piece of Russian propaganda. Read it here -

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=12

How does one testimony by rand suddenly make her guilty of persecuting American communists?

1:41 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

Rajesh said - You guys have no idea whats happening. Could you just look around whats happening in the country?

Oh we have no idea? Do you have any idea what is happening in this country? Matthew made a big hue and cry about what Jerry Falwell said. What do we as Indians have to do with Falwell? He has nothing to do with any Indian companies or political parties. Why quote him and whip up trouble?

Let me make you aware of what is happening in our country. Ever heard of a small town in Maharashtra called Solapur? Do you know that one of the worst riots in Solapur happened in 2002 because somebody like Matthew gave unnecessary importance to what Falwell said?

Here's what happened in short. Falwell sitting in America, as is his wont, made some idiotic comments about the prophet Muhammad. Folks like Matthew made a big hue and cry about it. Some Muslims in Solapur decided to have a "bandh" in the city. When Hindu establishments disagreed to participate, citing that they had nothing to do with what an American says, they were forced to shut shop. There was violence, and riots erupted, killing 10 people.

Why? Because somebody wanted to give that nutcase enough importance to have a bandh protesting it.

Rajesh, my pal, were you even aware of this trouble caused by giving undue importance to Jerry Falwell?

So go ahead and defend Matthew's points logically if you want. Many of them can actually be defended logically. But don't make ad hominem attacks and say I have no idea what's happening in the country. I have plenty of idea.

This country has been impoverished because we have followed stragulating leftist policies, completely crippling freedom. These strangleholds were put on us under the influence of the KGB, as Mitrokhin archives tell us.

You want to know the reality, Rajesh? Find it out yourself rather than rely on a dogmatic professor who will cry over the Holocaust, but not even mention Gulags or Tiananmen Square.

1:55 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Rajesh: What exactly is happening in our country that I need to be looking at?

>>"And all what you have said as to what Prof. Mathew has supposedly said has been twisted royally and placed without the context."

Can you cite specific instances please.

3:37 AM  
Anonymous Aniket said...

Hello,
I came here following Gaurav's post on his blog. I will confess I am not a very erudite person but here are my inexpert comments.

I agree that people like Arundhati Roy, Prafulla Bidwai etc. do indulge in a lot of propaganda and usually publicise half truths or sometimes blatant lies, however to dismiss all that they say as bullshit, is I believe, indulging in intellectual dishonesty.

I would be more convinced of Prof. Matthew or Roy's mendacity if people (in this case Kunal) quote them within context .. and then refute their claims point by point rather than saying what Prof. Matthew says is wrong because he is Prof. Matthew (Gaurav has similarly rubbished Noam Chomsky and others in his reference to this article)

While I am sceptical of marxism, I find Marx's and Engels' method of argument very cogent and worthy of admiration. I have read "Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy" by Engels and a couple of Marx's letters .. and I find that Marx/Engels never cast aspersions on ppl's characters .. but logically refute arguments by various logical mechanisms .. for eg. in Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of Classical German Philosophy, by reductio ad absurdum.

I have read Chomsky's speech on Belgrade Radio when USA decided to bomb Afghanistan .. in which his basic claim is how USA's chickens are coming home to roost, or how Nicaragua's occupation was unjust. Again, while I don't think Roy's views on Singh and Chidambaram are valid .. I do think her premise that there is no 'real' choice between Kerry and Bush or BJP and Congress on most things is valid.

The long and the short of it: I believe counter-arguments carry more weight when they rebutt the arguments point by point compared to those counter arguments which rubbish the personality of the speaker.

PS: I am a Kashmiri Pandit and know a couple of Pandit families in J&K and I don't agree with Prof. Matthew when he says that we shud concentrate on those Pandits who have stayed on ... I believe Gaurav's arguments stated in the comments to be valid.

3:46 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Joy:

>>"Not surprising after all you must not have seen anything other than computer science and management. And you guys need a course in reading history and also sociology."

Firstly, you don't have to be a qualified sociologist to be able to observe the world around you, just like you don't need to be an engineer to drive a car. Secondly, you probably shouldn't generalise, sinmce you don't know "us people" very well. I'm not an engineer or a manager, I'm an Economics student.

>>"Like you guys seem to be swearing by right wing fundamentalists? You also have a right to whatever little you profess in? So let him be man"

Dude, you're putting words in our mouths. Where in this post (or on this blog for that matter) do you see support for right-wing fundamentalists? Oh, and where have I denied his rights to his belief? My issue is with his argumesnts, not his beliefs.

>>"And learn to listen to people! You say that man has jazzy qualifications so why did you twist all what he said?
you have also twisted all what he said.."

Firstly, I didn't twist what he said (I'm still waiting to hear a specific instance of said "twisting"). If you're saying I should just accept what he says because of his qualifications, then dude, I totally disagree.

>>"he didn't mention about the "sales" of publication of banned books. This is crazy. He did say that such publications have a huge fan following among the masses"

Well, I did not mention sales either, but anyway, you are just being pedantic.

My problem with Prof Mattew's lecture is not that he is a Communist. I don't claim to have a monopoly on the truth, and it may even be that I am wrong. What I have a problem with is with his outrageous statements, which he did not allow anyone to argue with, through various rhetorical techniques and logical fallacies. You have every right to say what you want, but you must be prepared to defend it.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Lavanya:

>>"I know for a fact that he does not speak without validating his point with research."

In light of his comments that I heard (especially about the Nagas), I must respectfully disagree.

>>"I can also tell you that he never turned any of the MIC students into commies, if he did turn them into anything it was a little more aware of the world. He also encouraged them to go out there read more and make opinions of thier own. What you have stated in your blog is not justified at all."

Fair enough, because I'm sure you know better. perhaps I was unjustified in saying that he has many converts in MICA, and if so, I apologise.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Aks:

In my college, I have some professors, who you might call "capis". They profess a free market ideology, and it comes through in their lectures. However, when their views are challenged by students, they defend them without shifting goalposts, without constructing strawmen and without making statements like "What about Kashmir?" (while talking about an unrelated issue). Like I've said, I agree he's entitled to his opinions, but he's got to defend them without resorting to rhetoric.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Aniket:

>>"I would be more convinced of Prof. Matthew or Roy's mendacity if people (in this case Kunal) quote them within context .. and then refute their claims point by point rather than saying what Prof. Matthew says is wrong because he is Prof. Matthew (Gaurav has similarly rubbished Noam Chomsky and others in his reference to this article)"

It is not my contention at all that Prof. Matthew is wrong because he is Prof. Matthew. I would have loved to Fisk his lecture point by point, but I did not take notes (not expecting the thing to turn out as it did), and I do not have a transcript.

I have not (or at least tried not to) rubbish the personality of the speaker. If you feel I have done so, let me know, and I will try and correct it.

As to misquotation and quoting out of context, please let me know where I have done so, and I will, again, attempt to rectify the situation.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Aniket said...

Kunal:
The tone of your article appears to be derisive and my point was that in SOME places, you haven't expounded on why you found Prof. Matthew's claims ludicrous. The so called Red Corridor has been called "Liberated Corridor" by Arundhati Roy also and she considers this to be a manifestation of "people power against the empire". I would be genuinely interested in knowing your analysis of the Naxal Revolution in the Red/Liberated Corridor.

I personally am not in favour of the Naxal movement but then again as per Arundhati Roy, I am a denizen of the urban middle class.. the small minority which benefits at the cost of the persecuted rural India.

I have reason to believe that Roy's arguments against privatisation and corporatisation are flawed .. but about this Red Corridor, I wud be curious to know what u have to say, before u ridicule Prof. Matthew's contention.

Lastly, my comment though directed towards ur post, was more directed towards Gaurav .. who in abt 2-3 lines, has dismissed and trashed Chomsky and Roy and accused them of willful mendacity and treachery without sufficient reason.

5:34 AM  
Blogger AKS said...

Kunal:

>>In my college, I have some professors, who you might call "capis". They profess a free market ideology, and it comes through in their lectures. However, when their views are challenged by students, they defend them without shifting goalposts, without constructing strawmen and without making statements like "What about Kashmir?" (while talking about an unrelated issue). Like I've said, I agree he's entitled to his opinions, but he's got to defend them without resorting to rhetoric.

Kunal
You missed the point all that I am trying to say is this
1. By blaming people and their styles (specially those who are on the other side of thinking fence)we are just being one of those goebbelised.
2. By referring to other profs who might be "capis" what I am suggesting is the balance that gets created among points of view.
3. Also, lets believe in the maturity of people. We are nobody to term others as converts. For all we know we might ourselves be converts of "capis" - only time will tell.
4. Last - welcome input from aniket. If we are actually discussing the prof's arguments then lets do them point by point AND take the prof's personality and inclination out of our minds.

As I said mine is a third person's point of view - I was not a party to that workshop.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really what is happening to the country? So many commies in the young crowd!

8:18 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Aniket: Ok, fair enough.

I think I'll need a seperate post on my views on the Naxalites, but I'll try and cram some of them in here. I believe that notwithstanding the grievances Naxalites and naxalite supporters undoubtedly have, they run an excedingly violent campaign in their "Corridor". They are as ready to violence against "collaborators" amongst themselves or the general population as against the authorities and security forces. Also, in the areas under their control they set up tax regimes that are every bit as exploitative as the ones they replace.

I need to do a bit more research, but basically, these are the reasons why the Naxalites can't claim to be "liberators" any more than the authorities they replace, and this ought to hold true whatever your politics.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Aks:

>>"1. By blaming people and their styles (specially those who are on the other side of thinking fence)we are just being one of those goebbelised."

Dude, you're the one missing my point. My problem with Maatew isn't that he has different views, IMO he's welcome to them. I take issue with his refusing to defend his statements, and stifling debate about them.

>>"2. By referring to other profs who might be "capis" what I am suggesting is the balance that gets created among points of view."

Ok, fair enough. I didn't mean "commie" as perjoraive anyway.

>>"3. Also, lets believe in the maturity of people. We are nobody to term others as converts. For all we know we might ourselves be converts of "capis" - only time will tell."

Whatever.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous shivaji said...

the problem with this discussion is that everyone other than maybe kunal himself and gaurav once or twice commited the mistake of putting forth their views - in the light of their own views . there is an almost wanton level of digression and misquoting and misappropriation of issues going on here .
a few issues to be raised .
the poverty line was never shifted i believe in the last fifteen years so there is a vast disparity between the ground reality nad what statistics tell you . the poverty line is defined for a level where humans can be human enough to be inhuman . these people are supposed to work and eat and that is about it .
i have been in areas where naxalites operate . palasa and srikakulam in andhra . my home town borders these . let me tell you how liberated these areas are . so liberated that there are women there who have seen their husbands decapitated . not because they were some kinky women but because their eyes were sewed open to ensure they did . revolutionary messages were then written with the blood of the deceased . these districts are now rid of this menace thanks to a couple of hard ass comissioners of police that said you kill one we`ll do you for three .
clubbing the rightist with the capitalist does come easily a lot of the time . historically money and religion are very interconnected with those who professed the religions having all the monetary clout too . in some cases as with the jews they were the people who had the money and the others did not . this in my opinion contributed to a lot of the anti semite feeling all over . in this case the jews were not the right wingers but the reactionaries certainly were .[ just to pre emp any nazi b****** comments - i hate hitler and i hate all his devotees ever since from modi to osama to sharon . i am only pointing out a relation which stuck me ] .i am out on a limb here but the anti trust litigaton on gates went the moment our neocons in america came to power . and he is one of their largest contributors . he does not hate other religions or maybe does not even follow one but there is a relation is there not between big money and big religion .
communism is not a joke . it is any other failed ideology seen in hindsight . there have been and will always be cycles in the government type in vogue . democracy existed long ago then dipped out . monarchy existed and is diping out . well soviet russia existed and now we have vladimir putin . anyone saying he is not a comrade in disguise has got to be kidding .

another problem with the discussion was the dissonance in the medium on which it is played out . this is the internet - a liberated opinionated independent and investigation driven medium . a lot of the arguments including my own are based in the top down straitjacketed world of traditional academia and media . it has forever bothered me that one should use the latter while in the former .it seems to me to represent a promiscuity in us all where we will get ourselves off with someone elses life . i am in effect questioning everything here and negating it all . this is not my intent nor is it advisable .

a note of caution in the end . we are in india . it is in our country that you can find both the proofs and the disproofs . kerala and then west bengal . just as a case in point . there are too many individuals in india . even those with voices . the dynamics in india are therefore necessarily different from anywhere else . it is good to bear in mind that the governments have come and gone and so have empires but the villsge in india is till the same from 3000 years ago .
thus ending this comment and proving my first point in the comment .

10:52 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

aniket,

Yes, in the post which you have mentioned, I have dismissed Chomsky and Roy in a few lines. But that is because the purpose of the post is to direct attention towards Kunal's post. I have written posts in the past dissecting Roy's nonsense. Several bloggers have fisked her in the past as well. About Chomsky, I may not have written posts, but give me a speech of his and I will point out the logical fallacies and half-truths in it.

Here's the thing, Aniket. I have formed an opinion about Chomsky, Roy, Bidwai, etc, over the years, on the basis of whatever they write or say. My opinions are not based on Chomsky's or Roy's looks, personality, race, upbringing (I will never make ad hominem attacks like Roy does, saying that just because someone is from a certain economic strata, he is incapable of understanding some issues). If you want, I will be able to defend my point of view to you, with proper references and footnotes.

However, giving this justification every time I feel like expressing an opinion about them would be a bit cumbersome, no? :)

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Joy here....sorry came in late

by the way everything being talked about is being summed up by one of the posted comment which said

"Really what is happening to the country? So many commies in the young crowd"

This is precisely the point! Just because some people just debate on some variables makes us all communists (as if that was a dirty word anyway!)

Lavanya's post if true is indeed worthwhile and it shows that the man seems to be democratic? that is ofcourse if one believes her "testimony" about Prof. Mathew. If its true and that Prof. Mathew is trying to show us all the parts which are ugly then I would appreciate that man as a teacher..

Now about the Kashmiri Pandits' issue, if I remember that day then what his idea was that one has to know and contextualise history and maybe what he meant was that we should embark on the inclusive? I guess we have to ask Prof. Mathew directly?

And he did mention not just the Holocaust but in the later part of his talk before the film "Funny Games" he did make it a point to mention that One should try to understand the issues, contextualise and one may not as yet find all the final answers for if one has final answers that he would be someone like Stalin or Hitler (Now that means he is not just harping about selected issues)

By the way dudes that was a crazy film... Funny Games... It shook me up!

I hate him for showing such a gory film

Anyway another thing I remember was that he stated that there is absolutely no time regarding anything to talk about in detail as one needs time to lay the foundation? I remember that too.

About the poverty figures, I think that was the NSS data but I have no idea whether Mathew meant that? But I know for sure that NSS data had all those statistics and all the neoliberal economist for the market were frothing at the statistics (and they promptly took refuge in NCAER data which showed your figures)

Ask Mathew directly what he meant by all he said. Why don't all you dudes ask him some questions?

Now am not defending the professor but lets have a good debate and see whats happening to make things more broad and operate beyond standard dominant paradigms.

Otherwise as that estemeed professor ranted all this would catch up on us. See how Naxalism has grown all over the country (See Frontline cover story) Right or wrong we have to face up to such realities....

Joy

3:02 PM  
Anonymous shivaji said...

http://blog.zmag.org/bloggers/?blogger=chomsky


quite an interesting guy this chomsky . i never thought he blogged but here you are .

3:40 PM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

Disclaimer: I am not a commie, leftist, rightist, liberal, conservative, marxist, royist, mathewist etc.

I believe before we begin to arrive at any conclusion, it is very important to notice where we begin.

Most of the time we begin with an awareness of where our 'faayda' lies.

Then we conveniently use our intellectual ability to highlight those parts that make us right.

I believe it is very convenient to 'not look' at a world that we are not a part of.

Let us see...

1. The world's populatin is 6 billion people where 4 billion live on less than 4 dollars a day.

2. There are 577 billionaires in the world. Together they have more wealth than 195 of world's poorest nations.

3. While you and I have daily concerns like 'Got to pay my bills on time' or 'Saving tax', there are a LOT more people who have daily concerns like 'How can I keep my child alive' or 'WHere am I going to get food for tomorrow?'

4. You and I cannot identify with that because we have never felt starvation, homelessness or been thrown out of our houses.

5. Let us not put labels on each other - call each other commies and leftists and rightists. Let us ask ourselves a question.

"Can the world be better?"

Of course yes.
I am not talking about utopia.

I am talking about hardcore ground-realities level improvement.

The hardcore reality improvement is that as Indians we campaigned for freedome some 60 years back and the situation did improve. Opression did end. Freedom was indeed gained.

We might point out flaws in our freedom and say how things are not perfect - in Kashmir/ in North-East etc.

But at a very basic level - they are our problems. We are dealing with them, sometimes not very well, sometimes apallingly, but we are. It's better than being ruled by the British.

Moral: Changes can be made. Positive changes can be made.

Imagine you are living in a house. The house has 10 rooms. You live in a room that is well furnished, has an A.C, a comfortable bed to sleep in, food to eat. The other 9 rooms are full of people starving, dying, diseased, malnourished, frustrated, deprived. How long will you be able to remain aloof of their agony, their pain and finally their anger, their hatred?

So, how do we bring about this change?

I am wondering.

Do you have an answer?

3:58 AM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

On another note - Hey Lavanya, is that you? This is Abhishek - Xerox's friend from TAPMI. What's up with you? Mail me abhishekk[at]gmail.com

5:45 AM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

And Gaurav, I searched your blog for your 'disection' of Roy's philosophy, but found one post. In which you mostly talk about how the poorest have mobile phones and mention Roy dismissively - in one line, between parantheses. Could you give me a link to the post you mentioned earlier, or is this post the only one?

I believe we make a mistake when we dismiss other people as 'nonsense' or 'communist' or 'right winger fundamentalist'. We lose them for the value they could be bringing us.

Surely if they believe so fervently in making the world a better place, their heart is in the right place. Surely they would be zealous in creating change if given the opportunity. Why dismiss the value they bring by labeling them or because the route they have chosen is different from ours. If we can agree on the outcome, we can also agree on the process.

So, I do not believe that Arundhati Roy espouses nonsense. Or Chomsky. I also do not believe that Captialism is evil. But I do believe the world can be made better and there is some tweaking needed. Maybe even a revolution.

Capitalism rewards for merit - that is sound. Billions live in poverty - that is violence. Capitalism cannot be sustained if we just ignore the 'have nots'. Sharing is needed. It's an attitudinal shift that we should be talking about.

To paraphrase somebody really famous whose name I can't remember "Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come"

'Sharing' should be that idea. We should make 'Sharing' that idea. We should not share because we want to dole out alms or to heal our conscience. We must share because there is no other way to be. We cannot exist in a world which has the cancer of poverty, violence and deprivation. Today or tomorrow, that cancer will affect us.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Pankaj said...

Hello Abhishek,

I have read your comments with great interest.

>>So, I do not believe that Arundhati Roy espouses nonsense. Or Chomsky.

You are probably wrong on this one. They do speak a great deal of nonsense and just about occasionally stumble on sense.

I am in complete agreement to the point you made about making the world a better place and not labelling people. However, you must concede that to speak about communism as a valid system is not a product of a sane mind. The monster collapsed worldwide in 1989 and we must be all thankful for it.

So every time we see a communist arguments or propaganda, we need to confront it. A monster once slayed should not be allowed to rise again.

Regards.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Nonerudite said...

Hello folks!

Oh God! Now look what you've gone and done. Started and almost ended this war! Well, I just couldn't resist getting in the thick of things...call me a word-war junkie if you will...so I thought I would gate crash this party!

So dear ladies and ledas,
let's start by taking sides. Let's see I remember a famous line from a play written by this guy born in Stratford-upon-Avon, (that sounds Brit to me (Damn those limeys, why do they have such confoundingly long names for places)) which goes like this (it's about a Roman guy, pretty dated stuff too (all these Italians are just crooks I tell you! Real mafioso like, if u get what I mean)) which goes like so..."I come to bury Caesar,not to praise him". Right, so now that you have got the drift, let me tell you my dear "friends", Indians, "countrymen...lend me your ears" and lend them good! 'Cause I am presently a student at MICA, in my 2nd year and have closely interacted with the "Prof." with whom all of you share this amazingly refreshing love-hate relationship. Damn commie bastard!!! First thoughts??? Well what I can share as inputs is that before MICA and Matthew happened to me, I had certain viewpoints which were pretty similar in nature to what has been expressed by certain folks on this blog. I'll cut straight to the chase. Matthew's contribution to my ideology has been that he has sown the seeds of doubt in my mind, or rather in more esoteric terms, he has forced me to have a more open and questioning attitude towards life. And frankly, with so much water under the bridge, I think it has made me more tolerant to other viewpoints albeit I still question stuff with cold blooded logic before accepting (or rejecting) it. Let's face it, our senses are so faulty especially in today's date that even what we see or hear first hand has a chance of being filtered through our cultural prejudices and in such a case, a reasonable man can hold on to only one thing, his mind and its ability to reason things out. (So much for being a convert) Sorry to disappoint some people, but we MICAns are pretty OK with Matthew (that's how we know him, especially when it comes to bumping cigarettes off him at Chhota-our college canteen and the only "Smoking Zone" on campus). And yes what some people witnessed at the Film Worshop during MICAnvas (the college fest) was not even close to skimming the surface. I would recommend a certain Iranian chap called Majid Majidi and two of his films in particular which he showed us: "Children of Heaven" and "Colours of Paradise". Even if they do not change your perception about Matthew, it would definitely point out why we adore him inspite of his running around with his topics, and his confounding statements (like "What about Kashmir then?") and his favourite epithets like "you maggots" which we cheerfully bear in class. We stick to him like leeches I guess, for he deals out information on sociological problems faster than the best cardsharp in his business of dealing cards. My dear patient friends (especially those who have managed to bear my soliloquy so far), all I have to say en passe for the man is that he has given us much food for thought, and at least I for one am grateful to him for the same.

Any bouquets/brickbats should be aimed at powershaper@yahoo.com or nonerudite.blogspot.com

urz truly

Non

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are certain things that we must experience for a while to get used to it. Beer! Perhaps!

Mathew is one of them...
another MICAn.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Daisy Miller said...

'The policy of Russia is changeless. Its methods, its tactics, its maneuvers may change, but the polar star of its policy, world domination, is a fixed star.'

'Democracy is the road to socialism.'
-Karl Marx

(The man who put into writing communism. Maybe you should read about communism and judge it yourself before judging it by its upholders.)

So you heard one man flumber about what he believed in, you label the entire lot as circus clown descendants. That doesn't sound very logical to me.
From what it seems, you were there just to pick on his factual errors. You totally missed the point of his being leftist. Leftists are so because they believe in the simple maxim 'All human beings are equal'. That's there vantage point. If you have a problem with the philosophical backbone of communism, forget the structural experiments that were carried out in the world post the penning of communism, you deserve to be a capitalist. For I know and agree that the most of the method of communism has sadly enough not been successful, nor worth implementing in the first place.

Given your scientific temperament, I would like to remind you that both capitalism and communism are post industrialisation ways of life, based on the very scientific Enlightenment slogan, 'Reason'. They both aspire for scientific progress, I stress, IN WRITING. (Please get yourself a beginner's book on commiehood.) So the biggest fallacy lies in your behaviour at the course, and in general, your attitude towards communism. You think communists do not possess a scientific temperament and make factual errors. So you attack them factually. Give me one instance, any one instance, where Naom Chomsky did not provide a verifiable factual event to support his argument. For he realised that The Capitalist Ignoramus would do just that, ask him for facts. And he states this purpose clearly as well, if you have read him before trashing him along with your friends, that is.

A communist argues against capital, not technology. He/she says that capital AND technolgy together are dangerous for the well being of society, for capitalism undermines labour, i.e. human labour.
'Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth - the soil and the labourer'
-Karl baba again

This can be seen so clearly in liberalising economies like India, where physical work is given bottom rung status. Also, the ownership of means of production is in the hands of a few. Simply put, its not a charkha which Gandhi put in a million hands pre-Independence. Where the means of production was owned by the producer. In capitalism, ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few. That sure is a problem when commies look back at the white board and see 'ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE EQUAL'.
I wish I could go on here but I can't for lack of time. I will leave you with one thought before I leave.

'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.'

Sounds like a capitalist? Wrong. Marx da yet again.

Since you seem to be an upholder of capitalism, can I ask you, even if it takes you a long footnoted essay on you blog, why you think capitalism is just about the best thing that happened to the world?

8:56 AM  
Blogger Daisy Miller said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Daisy, I commend you on your commitment and dedication, but I don't really see what I'm to do with Noam Chomsky's collected works. And you might want to go a little easy on Blogger, the poor guys give us this amazing service for free, and we go on filling up their archival space with comments.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mathew's profile is in the MICA website. Check that out.

has not been updated but does not matter

3:00 PM  
Anonymous shivaji said...

daisy my dear . you seem to be under this impression that noam chomsky is a communist . that is quite in contradiction to his own opinion of what he is . neither capitalist nor communist the guy is an anarchist . this puts him in opposition to both as both rely on government and governing influences . capitalism also assumes all are equal and therefore have the capability to earn and become bigger than those presently bigger than oneself . noam chomsky is a name that can only be used to provide a counterpoint in politics not as a support . i suggest you read all them collected works you gave us as example

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Aniket said...

Its heartening to see that after so much debate .. people are yet to quote statements to support their opinions malicious or otherwise.

Hey Gaurav, I can understand your point about not wanting to quote your point-by-point rebuttal of Chomsky/Roy everytime .. but pray put a link here to ur blog so that we can read it.

Thanks Daisy for posting Chomsky's works .. perhaps the bloggers here need to be reminded that Chomsky is one the greats of our time who has contributed immensely to our knowledge of linguistics and psychology. Perhaps Gaurav thinks Chomsky is another Arindham Chaudhary.

Shivaji, since u think Chomsky is an anarchist .. mind quoting a few lines here which will strengthen your case? Be it the Nicaragua controversy or the bombing of Belgrade, Chomsky has always stood for justice.

Lastly, failure of Russia does not imply failure of marxism (wonder why ppl make this most basic of logical fallacies). Perhaps we should all read more and opine less.

1:45 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Ok, this is beginning to piss me off.

I don't know how the whole Noam Chomsky debate started here, this is perhaps the second time I am ever mentioning Chomsky on my blog (the first being after Daisy dazzled us with his entire bibliography). If someone has a problem with what Gaurav Sabnis or Yazad Jal or Ashutosh Jogalekar or whoever said about Chomsky, take it up with them directly, and don't expect me to defend them. I am not their spokesman.

Anonymous, I have seen Matthew's profile on the website, I acknowledge he's a qualified guy, and have said so.

Aniket, Chomsky himself calls himself an Anarchist. Anarchism is a pretty legitimate school of political thought, and in fact Anarcho-syndicalists are the leftists I admire the most (or disagree with the least.) If you want a link on Chomsky's anarchism, here's one:

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/rbr/noamrbr2.html

And yeah, failure of the USSR does not imply the failure of Marxism, but I can't see where anyone in this discussion made that argument.

Anyone who wants to comment here further, please read the article and the comments carefully before you shoot you mouth (or your keyboard) off. I have had quite enough of strawmen.

1:45 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

I'm deleting Daisy's comment with Chomsky's book publications. Its too big, and bnot really pertinent to the article. If you want to give us his bibliography, post a link or something.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Aniket said...

Hey sorry Kunal .. u are right comments on Gaurav's posts should be on Gaurav's blogsite.

Yes, I made a mistake there.. he calls himself an anarchist.. I have read some of his stuff but did not know this is what the school was called.. apologies to Shivaji also.

Communism as a failed philosophy was mentioned in some comments. USSR is taken to be the biggest failures of communism. I guess I am done now.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Daisy Miller said...

Hi.

Just one clarification on Chomsky and no more, promise.

First of all, I know Noam Chomsky is an anarchist, I have read enough of him as a research scholar in my M.Phil to know that. Most anarchists, including Hannah Arendt, borrow from marxism, neo-marxism, post modernism and feminism to fuel in their philosophy. Chomsky's work has helped a lot of left politics, in India as well as abroad, leftists hold him up as source of knowledge for their practice. And I never said he was communist. I never said I was communist.

Two, the point of the list was to show he can't be dumped without being read. Look at his work, he's prolific. We can only hope to aspire to churning our mind wheels this much. The list was meant to be deleted. I was going to do it myself. Sorry about taking up so much space, I didnt mean to.

Three, the point of my post was not him. It got picked up by someone else and there it started.

Four, the point of my post really was about repecting alternative points of view, even if we disagree with them.

Bye!

12:27 AM  
Blogger neyhaa said...

Mathew at MICA....

If only you guys could see it as he is trying to help ya see it!!!

See the movies he talks about n then say what u have to...u'd be rendered speechless by the kind of stuff that goes arnd u widout u even being aware of it!!!

Wake up guys n pay heed to wat The Man has to say to u coz nt everyday u hv smone who has the balls to stand up for what he believes in,research n then try to prove his point!!!

For all those lame ducks who hvnt done ny productive work all their life,this is a good oppurtunity to learn more abt the Economics n Politics of the world instead of wastin all the precious money tht daddy spares ya on bloggin 24*7!!!Dnt f*** arnd n do get yr act together!!!

N gaurav,Four Words....She Needs a SHRINK!!!

8:24 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

I see that many people here are either condemning or prasing Chomsky/Roy/many others in blanket statements. Why does it have to be black and white, all good or bad? Everyone has his flaws. It's better to call a spade a spade, and not label these people with one word adjectives. I for example, love Chomsky, but certainly don't think he is infallible. And in society, even fallible people serve a certain purpose which we have to recognise.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mathew + acting = first grade acting = ONE BIG JOKE.

3:42 PM  

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