by VIJAY PRASHAD
Ever since the Indian Left faced a historical drubbing at the polling booths earlier this year, commentators have made their mark with obituaries or suggestions for improvement. The former are largely off base, given that the Left – with several million members in its parties – will not dissolve into the cracks of Indian capitalism as long as the contradictions remains. The latter are welcome, and some have provided useful direction for a movement that needs intellectual comradeship and critique. Most recently, the historian and novelist Mukul Kesavan provided one such essay (“Left Behind: Where Are the Comrades When One Needs Them?” The Telegraph, September 8). Kesavan’s main target is India’s largest Left party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI-M. The others, including the Maoists, remain outside his purview.
Like Mukul Kesavan, when I think of the CPI-M, I think directly of the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi. I remember that while others went into partisan bickering or cowered in fear, the CPI-M cadre helped set up the rehabilitation camps and worked to salve a great hurt that overtook the entire landscape of the nation’s capital. That Kesavan starts his largely clichéd assault on the Communists from Delhi is important to me. It means that he, as I, recognizes that the CPI-M is not solely to be found in West Bengal. It was in West Bengal, a state with a population of near one hundred million, that the Left Front (with the CPI-M as its main party) had been in power for thirty-four years. The Left Front won seven consecutive state assembly elections, from 1977 to 2011. The defeat in 2011 did not come as a shock, as I will suggest below, but it was certainly a landmark. That defeat has meant that most commentary on the Indian Left begins and ends in West Bengal. Kesavan’s opening in Delhi is refreshing break, but he cannot contain himself. He is sucked into West Bengal once he begins his actual discussion of Indian Communism. This is a pity.
For the past ten years, I have been around India, from Tamil Nadu to Haryana, studying the work of Communists. I found that it was the CPI-M and All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) that raised national attention to the khap panchayats (socially suffocating local “courts”), at great risk to their cadre. AIDWA members oscillate between fighting to reveal a particular atrocity and taking to the streets against a state administration that tolerates medieval forms of justice (for more on this I recommend Elisabeth Armstrong’s Gender & Globalisation, Tulika, 2013). I found that it was the CPI-M and its Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front that joined with Dalit (untouchable) organizations to fight against the spate of anti-dalit atrocities since the 1990s. Ending the two-cup system and breaking the “untouchability walls” have been as important to the Communist struggle as that of increasing daily wages. In Andhra Pradesh, I found that the CPI-M cadre have walked thousands of kilometers in their relentless padyatras (long marches) to defend the livelihood of the people, and to fight for an alternative to private sector control of the energy industry. These communists remind me of those who helped set up the rehabilitation camps in 1984. That spirit is alive and well.
If this spirit is alive and well in other parts of the country, why has it been seen to diminish in West Bengal – the main target of Kesavan’s essay? After thirty-four years, the Left Front was voted out of office. It is remarkable that any one formation trayvonscould have been re-elected for such a long period. The pressures of incumbency are not easy to dismiss. From conversations with members of the Left Front at different levels I learned that after three decades it takes a great deal of time to pivot into oppositional politics. I also learned how they understand their defeat – more complex than Kesavan allows. Kesavan remains at the level of the leadership, making snide remarks about their caste background. The Left has to certainly do a much better job of diversifying its leadership in terms of caste and gender. But this is not the proximate reason for the defeat in West Bengal. Other reasons bear consideration:
(1) The very rural achievement of the Left Front – radical land reforms – produced new rural propertied classes whose own instincts have over time moved away from the Left. In 1995, I interviewed CPI-M leader Anil Biswas, who told me that the Left had to be cautious about the emergence of these new class realities in the countryside. It was hoped that the panchayat (local self-government) devolution would help maintain the politics of the rural areas, but the result here have been mixed.
(2) Kesavan says that the “temptation to say ‘Nandigram’ or ‘Singur’ is understandable, but it ought to be resisted.” Singur is the name of the town where the Left Front government tried to set up an automobile factory, but faced protest against land acquisition. Much the same in Nandigram, where there was a dispute once more on land. But then Kesavan cannot contain himself. These issues have to be raised, as they must be raised. Few in the Communist Left have failed to recognize the perils of the industrialization policy – some will argue that the policy itself is bad, since it charts a path toward inequality, while others will argue that the implementation of the policy was undemocratic. Either way, the implications of Nandigram have been digested. It is a penalty that the Left shall have to pay for some time to come yet.
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Sufis are so resentful of buddhists and gurus that they try to foment sabotage: I must be wary here since I have double confusions interacting. Getting all these peoples into a conflict to the point of killing each other off is there calling card.So what is going on?
I think there is a species of spiritual mediocrity that will attempt to attack the path of enlightenment because such ‘god-cretins’ think dumb belief in god is more important than a path to enlightenment…
This schmuck is so suspicious of the mediocrity of his own sannyasins and so desperate to find a future venue that he adopts predatory tactics to entrap future leaders, people like me. I don’t buy it. Bugger off. I find it pathetic Osho can’t find anyone in his commune he can trust to lead into the future. What about all these enlightened disciples? Why me, for god’s sake.
I have made it clear Osho’s crowd really dislikes me. So who am I to impose on them. Give me a fucking break.
And I plead exception to the tactics of threatening those who don’t submit. Try it. Kill me asshole. Enlightened asshole once, beyond enlightenment now.
I recommend sannyasins read Osho’s Beyond Enlightenment: an eerie and dangerous world opens up here and is a strange form of chaos. It is a dangerous thing to let into your unconscious….
Sam Harris, amusingly, is entering the spiritual path racket. His take is truly dreadful, but it points to something all these haughty gurus are unaware of: the phenomenon of guru fatigue leads to a demand for something more intelligent than ‘surrender, no surrender, you’re dead’ games with guru authority figures. We don’t need this. It is a distraction and an attempt to make the past control the future. The original dharma of buddha never even mentioned gurus, and Gautama insisted, be ye lamps to yourselves.
Still, I can see the point: with rogue sufis like Gold, impostors like Lozowick, and even Osho who is a crypto-authoritarian,the whole new age foundation is starting to crumble. With figures like Nisargadatta, I simply don’t know. Who needs all this?
Meanwhile the subtle trashing of the buddhist tradition in Sam Harris new business of new age ‘waking up’ is a challenge to all these new age distractions leading to nothing.
Let me note in passing that Harris’ new cult of ‘waking up’ is grotesque and a disservice. But so it goes.
At the point where poeple like Ouspensky are being pursued into their next lives the whole game has become grotesque.
I need to be in a hurry here: these people really don’t like me much. But I will caper through this man’s materials, as per a request…
Om Shantih (not the shantih shantih shantih of T.S.Eliot’s wasteland)
I am suddenly in Ramana Maharsi land. I have always respected that figure, but now I am already suspicious. He was, btw, a Brahmin, and raises the suspicion of being part of a neo-Brahmin cabal. Anyway I need to be very wary of these figures. They might just hate me as much as they hate Osho.
Note: I made a promise to never again deal with Brahmin caste gurus. So much for Maharsi, a most remarkable figure in any case.
I don’t take attempts to rush me out of Osho land lying down. So fuck you to Nisargadatta… Still, he may be right, and I can’t be sure I haven’t imagined this.
As a ‘courtesy’ I have obtained most of his books and will consider this interesting figure. In a way I am glad to be done with all gurus, not just Osho..
But, you know, I am glad they cancel each other out. And thirty years down the drain with Osho leaves me feeling disgusted.
Fuck all these gurus…
NK, for five years I have tolerated this stealth input/propaganda from ‘accesstoinsight’. You are the third such commenter here. The second had to be banned for being overtly racist, incromprehensible in a buddhist.
Never once have these people identified themselves, made a formal gesture of personal communication, nor any explanation of their activities. So, please explain something about this group of buddhists, and why I should trust them where I can no longer trust Tibetan buddhists?
We have had a lot of discussion of the Sam Harris confusions at darwiniana.com.
For the first time this blog surpassed Darwiniana
with 10961 pageviews and 3566 visitors for Tuesday….
This was the original ‘netbook’, so-called from 2008, that inaugurated this blog. Since then we have taken a lot of flak, but in the end this has been a mission accomplished: I am getting indications the hidden gurdjieffians and/or sufis are close to tossing in the towel: the charge of reactionary mindsets and worse has sunk in and soon the whole gurdjieff field is going to fall into oblivion. And people like EJ Gold are helping: he creates the alarming possibility of something evil in its wake, a sort of ambiguous mafia of malformed occultists wrecking the spirituality of innocents approaching the ‘ways’. That has aroused the ire of some spiritual bigwigs somethere, and Gurdjieff is going to change his story in a hurry and/or disappear to another galaxy.
The whole idea of the ‘work’ was a crippled idea, and once its hyper-conservative non-spiritual meaning becomes evident, the stock of ‘fourth way’ schools plummets.
The idea of fourth way school is a bunch of nonsense, and won’t muster in the end.
I recieve a suggestion to turn this ‘netbook’ into a full book: we shall see.
We have been advocating something like this for some time, given the hostility here to the political aspect of ‘buddhism’ and the dark history rumored but undocumented.
Logically, a political formation of medieval Tibet is going to peter out as rootless even as its larger expands globally. But even the ‘religious’ movement is likely to fade away, because its obscurities forestall clear action in response. Is the whole system a front for something else? And the tactics of Lama selection are suspect.
The question of Osho remains unresolved at this point. The suggestion of a radical ‘sannyas’ movement is tabled and left as is. The problem is that the forms and transformations of Indian spirituality are not really suitable as vehicles of (radical) modernity. The guru question remains too nebulous to be workable for those who demand the fundamentals of autonomy. No matter how you work it, autonomy is going to be a casualty here, so it is necessary to rewrite the classic mostly buddhist canons for new era of world civilization. The guru question smacks of medieval decline and neo-brahmin manipulation: it is barely present in early buddhism. The issue of ‘gurus’ is really about the moment of flowering of a realized sage in the company of a set of observers in the last lifetime of that figure. Mahavir and Gautama are too classic cases. Osho is another, and nearly there as a modernist movement.
From there arises the dangerous passage of the sequence. It is that creates the confusion. Disciple/robots carrying out a world plan for a dead guru litter the scene in all directions. It is chaos we can’t calculate and whose transformations are shadowy. We suspect a fascist takeover has occurred as historical fact in the legacy of the dangers, next to the obvious attempts to destroy modernity. In any case, a radical movement would look with derision on a mixture of radicalism and guruism.
For the future we must rethink the whole question. In the end the Indian tradition is a self-contained wonder that now confronts globalization and probable dissolution save in its basic core, in India. We must confront religions like Christianity and Islam in their hybrid confusions and determine how in the ‘paths of the will’ and the ‘paths of being’ an intelligent renaissance is possible in the definitions of secularism.
We will continue with this anon, but the gesture of stepping beyond the Osho field is an exercise in reflection on the question of ashrams, communes, and all that, in the context of global religion.
For myself, the Osho game is never over, save when it’s over, but the real issue is that I have a responsibility to speak in generalized terms that can’t be subject to hidden manipulations by dead gurus. In the end that is the case for all of us.