Tag: Culture

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn Bangladesh anti-minority violence

Azmi hood

By counterview.net

Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.

Signatories to the statement include actor Shabana Azmi and former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed; physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy and women’s rights leader Mehnaz Rehman from Pakistan; Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and secularism campaigner Shahriar Kabir from Bangladesh; women’s rights leader Nalini Ratnarajah from Sri Lanka; former minister of women’s affairs Sima Samar and academic Fidel Rehmati from Afghanistan; and peace activist Mohammed Latheef from the Maldives.

“Our heartfelt empathy and solidarity with all those killed, injured and affected in any way by this inhuman and mindless violence”, the statement said, adding, “Even as we were feeling some relief at the Government of Bangladesh reigning in fanatic groups and controlling communalism in the country, the current outbreak of mayhem and violence against the minorities comes as a big shock.”

Calling the violence a “setback to the Government of Bangladesh in its efforts to curb communalism and promote communal amity and peaceful coexistence”, the statement said, “This also shows that fanatic elements bent on spreading hate and violence in any society are always on the prowl to damage social fabric and we have to be on constant vigil against them.”

The statement said, “In the time of social media, it is easy to identify, try and punish all those who are involved in the recent violence. We understand that the Government of Bangladesh has started action against those involved and we welcome it and urge that quick and exemplary punishment should be given to deter others and ensure such obnoxious incidences are not repeated again.”

Urging the Government of Bangladesh to “immediately reconstruct and repair all places of worship, houses, and any other assets that are damaged and provide generous compensation to those injured and to the families of all those killed and government jobs to the next of kin”, the statement regretted, “Divisive forces in different countries of South Asia are spreading hate and violence, especially against minorities”, which calls for “immediate attention and decisive actions by all the governments of the region to ensure amity, peace and pave way for development and prosperity of the people.”

Pointing out that “all countries of the region are already lagging behind on all development indicators and any further divisions in society and violence can push our people into more poverty and greater misery”, the statement said, “We urge all South Asians to speak out against any violence in any form and prevail upon their governments to secure peace and ensure the prosperity of the people.”

- October 22, 2021

Forthcoming book explodes Western myth: Personal qualities are biologically inherited

HMI-Blog-You-Can-Change-Your-DNA

By counterview.in

Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled “The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order” criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited:

The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy.
Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationalises political systems based on genetic privilege. The result of the emergence of genetic determinism was the dismantling of ancient cultures based on inclusiveness, cohesion, and egalitarianism and their transformation into rigid structures of authoritarian domination based on separation and division: into families, classes, races, nations, sexes (i.e. patriarchy), and species.
The final proposition of the book is that propagating the myth was the chief aim of Zoroastrianism and the subsequent Abrahamic religions which pioneered the development of a reproductively active male as a supreme being (a Father). Since the 1850s, this myth-making role has been appropriated by science. By recognizing how the founding myth of Western civilization is being re-told in the language of science we can start to dismantle and replace it with a more humane and scientific understanding of the world.

Reaction by Paul Carline:

The subject of genetic determinism is certainly important.
However, I had imagined that the devastating results of the Human Genome Project had actually put an end to the dogma of genetic determinism – because it was shown that genes do not control anything of a higher order, but merely code for proteins. Director of the privately funded HGP research team, Craig Venter, remarked that the results told us nothing more about what it means to be human.
The research-grant-led ’scientific’ response was to say that the attention of the research must now be redirected to ‘proteomics’. But it is clear that the love affair with the idea of some kind of ‘master molecules’ controlling not only our physical makeup, but even our beliefs, hopes and fears – and especially our health – has not been abandoned, but rather intensified, with the toxic mRNA pseudo-vaccines being the latest progeny.

genetics-101

The corrupted science which now dominates research continues to deny the reality that the (arche)typical forms of living organisms are not shaped from within i.e. in ‘encoded’ genes, but are the result of invisible – but detectable – formative forces from ‘outside’, potentially from the entire cosmos. In a wiser age Paracelsus wrote that the forms of things are in the”astral light” i.e. the light from the stars (including the planets and comets).

Dr. Latham will almost certainly not agree with me on that – but at least we are in agreement that genetic determinism is a fallacy!

I am, however, left wondering what Dr. Latham means precisely when he states that “organisms are self-organised systems”. For the overwhelming majority of living organisms, it can hardly be said that they possess a “self” that consciously organises their development and form. Of course it is a problem for biology which is forced by its own belief system ultimately to see living beings merely as complex machines.

I recently reviewed a new book by an American biologist and naturalist who came to the same conclusion: that living beings are just the sum of their internal and external “activity” – they are just living beings ‘doing their own thing’. I do not find that very profound.

A couple of small but important points: Christianity is not an ‘Abrahamic’ religion, despite the centuries of corruption of the truth and the disastrous adoption of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law which relate exclusively to Judaism. The idea that the Christian supreme being is based on the model of a “reproductively active male” is to my mind simply laughable. Christian theology is totally free of the older descriptions of sexually active gods and goddesses.

Christian teaching actually refers to a trinity of supreme beings (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), where – according to the evangelist John – it is the ’Son’ i.e. the Christ who initiated the creation of the world. Even Genesis refers to multiple spiritual beings – the plural Elohim – as the active agents in cosmogenesis.

Jonathan Latham’s reply:

Just a correction, I dont know what definition of ‘consciously’ you use (and I dont normally use the word at all and dont in the blurb) but indeed all organisms are self-organising, even down to the tiniest virus. That is the history of evolution, which began with self-organising among the relatively speaking very simple initial set of molecules (long before DNA existed); and the definition of consciousness that I would choose to use would apply to them, it is simply the perception of and response to the environment.

In humans with large brains, we focus on the mental aspects but these perceptions and responses but are merely narrow aspects of a larger bodily whole consciousness that is closer to the consciousness of bacteria. But in general, consciousness is not a useful word as commonly used because the people who use it generally refuse to define it and the reason they refuse is that any rigorous definition would have to roughly follow my logic and so deny genetic determine and this is highly problematic since they are ideologically and a priori committed to it.

You are conflating sexually active with reproductive. Older and non-Christian ideas of gods did sometimes emphasize their sexuality, but all the references to “Our father” eg in the central “lords prayer” make it clear, to me at least, that paternity is central to Christianity: Jesus appearing as God’s son is another example. He could just have appeared, but no, was a male offspring.

VIDEO: Prof. Romila Thapar’s lecture on ‘Migrations and the Making of Cultures in Early India’

Leading historian Prof. Romila Thapar’s lecture on ‘Migrations and the Making of Cultures in Early India’ in memory of Prof. Satish Chandra, organized by the Bangalore International Centre on 13 October 2020.

Caste is the bones, race the skin. Caste is fixed and rigid, race is fluid and superficial

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By SAT News Desk/Counterview.in

In her book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson argues the United States’ racial hierarchy should be thought of as a caste system, similar to that in India. Excerpts from the transcript of her video interview with Juan González and Amy Goodman published in “Democracy Now”:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I want to congratulate you on such a marvelously written book, just as your first, your earlier book, was so marvelously written. And I wanted to ask you about a particular section of it, where you write, “Caste is the bones, race the skin… Caste is fixed and rigid. Race is fluid and superficial, subject to periodic redefinition to meet the needs of the dominant caste in what is now the United States.” If you could expound, for those of our viewers who haven’t read your book yet —

ISABEL WILKERSON: Yeah.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — this relationship that you try to delve into between caste and race?

ISABEL WILKERSON: Well, first, I want to say that I came to the concept of race through the first book that I wrote, “The Warmth of Other Suns”, in which I was writing about the flight of 6 million African Americans who were escaping the Jim Crow South, and in writing about what they had endured, writing about what the Jim Crow South was actually like. A lot of Americans have not really gotten a true exposure to what it was like to live in that world, where everything that you could do or could not do was based upon what you look like, that it was actually against the law for a Black person and a white person to play checkers together. So, I was recreating that world. And in recreating that world, I did not use the word “racism,” because it did not seem sufficient to capture the totality and the comprehensive nature of the control, restrictions, and boundaries…

So, that calls upon us to think about: Well, what does caste mean? What is caste? So, the caste system essentially is an arbitrary grading, an artificial graded ranking of human value in society. And it’s one in which there’s a fixed infrastructure that, in our country, predates anyone who’s alive today. It goes all the way back to colonial times when the country was being formed. And a caste system essentially determines one’s standing, the respect accorded a person, the benefit of the doubt, access to resources or the deprivation of access to those resources, even such things as assumptions of competence and beauty. So, this is the hierarchy that we have all inherited, that no one alive created, but we have inherited it, and we live under the shadow of that system.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You also write about what you call the middle caste of Asians, Latinos, Indigenous people, and new immigrants of African descent, who, you say, navigate within what began as a bipolar hierarchy. I’m wondering if you could explain that and also why you chose to include Indigenous people in the middle caste when some would argue that certainly in the United States and certainly in Latin America there has been a long-existing caste system toward the Native peoples, whether it’s in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and of course in the United States — why you felt that the Indigenous peoples should be included among this middle caste.

ISABEL WILKERSON: Well, first of all, the caste system, as I’m describing it, we have to go back to where it began. It began with the creation of a country in which the people who were the colonists, who were British, placed themselves, obviously, at the top of the hierarchy and then imported, brought people in, from Africa to be the enslaved people, who would automatically, by definition, be at the very bottom of the caste system, having no rights whatsoever, not even rights over their own bodies.

And so, there also were, of course, the Indigenous people, who were the First Nations of this land, who then were in some ways exiled from the caste system that was being created, as in a bipolar caste system. So, in many respects — and I also say that they are, in some ways, outside — forced to be outside of the caste system in the ways that the colonists devised it, by forcing them off of their land.

The bipolar caste system meant that there were basically two main groups that were the foundation that the country created. And then, anyone entering this bipolar caste system then had to figure out where did they fit in, had to somehow navigate what had been created as a two-tiered system. And the infrastructure that had been created had to also decide — you know, actually assigned people to roles on the basis primarily of what they looked like and what their lineage might have been, what part of the world did they come from.

So, when people were arriving, say, from Europe, they were not — from outside of northern Europe, they were not necessarily thinking of themselves as white. The white was not a label that had been applied, or needed to be applied, I should say, to someone who was living in 16th century of what would now be Ireland or Hungary or Poland. In other words, people who were arriving to the United States in the early decades and even century of history in the United States were not arriving as white people, in their minds. They were arriving as Irish or Polish or Hungarian. Upon arrival, though, they were assigned to the category, essentially a new category — the idea of race is a fairly new one, going back only about 500 years, race as we currently know it. So, they had to then navigate and readjust their identity in order to meet the expectations of this caste system that they were entering. And so did other people who were coming from other parts of the world.

The United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century went to a great deal of trouble to curate its population, particularly those who were not coming from northern Europe. And so, anyone coming from outside of northern Europe then had to be fit into this caste system, and that meant that there was a tremendous amount of disillusion and a tremendous amount of restlessness about trying to figure out who would fit. So, there were a lot of legal challenges of people coming from Asia, people coming from other parts of the world, to petition for the recognition of citizenship, petition ultimately for the recognition of being able to fit into what was the category of the dominant caste, which would have been white or Caucasian at that time.

And so, this is a work in progress. It’s always been a work in progress. And so, anyone coming in from outside of what these poles that were [inaudible] random designations of human beings ended up having to find a way to navigate. And it created this stressor, these stressors and tensions between groups as they tried to figure out how to survive in an often forbidding bipolar structure.

AMY GOODMAN: And you bring in Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson. If you can explain how it was the United States and the Jim Crow laws that inspired the Nazis? Explain how that all fits together with caste.

ISABEL WILKERSON: Well, I have to say that I — my main focus in the beginning was to look for the parallels or the intersections, the point of Intersections, that would help us understand our own countries, primarily focused on the United States, but to help us understand our own country through what we might learn from how other countries have managed their hierarchies.

And what brought me to Germany was actually Charlottesville, and it was there in the protests against the potential removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee that the rallyers himself displayed the symbols of the Confederacy and the Nazi Party, the Nazis, in this one space. We saw the pageantry of the symbols coming together over the issues of memory of the Civil War, memory of slavery, memory of American history in general. And so, the rallyers there are the ones that put these two together, these two symbols together, these two cultures together. And that was the reason why I decided to look more closely at Germany.

I was looking primarily to find out how had they managed to understand, reeducate themselves and the society, atone for what had happened during World War II. How had they remembered what had happened? And so, the deeper I looked, it turned out that I discovered things that I never would have imagined, one of them having to do with the fact that Germany eugenicists were in contact with, in continuing dialogue with American eugenicists in the years and decades leading up to the Third Reich, that American eugenicists wrote books that were big sellers in Germany in the years leading up to the Third Reich.

Now, but the Nazis needed no one to teach them how to hate. They absolutely needed no inspiration for how to hate or how to enact that hate. But what they did was they sent researchers to the United States to study the Jim Crow laws here in the United States, to study and to research how the United States had managed to subordinate and subjugate its African American population. They sent people to research the anti-miscegenation laws. They sent them to understand and to study the segregation laws. And then they went back, and they debated the American laws in the run-up to creating what would ultimately become the Nuremberg Laws. These were just stunning and wrenching things to discover in the process of this work.

AMY GOODMAN: You cited 2042. Why?

ISABEL WILKERSON: I mention 2042 because that is the year that was projected in 2008 by the census as to be the year that the demographics of the United States will change to a configuration that no one in the country, of any — in any space, had ever imagined. And that would be where the historic white majority would no longer be the majority, and that, in fact, the configuration that we’ve known for all of American history would be changing. And that has an impact on everyone in the hierarchy, everyone in the country, everyone in society, to try to figure out how do we work toward a space in which everyone can feel seen and feel that they are recognized as citizens in this country.

- August 16, 2020

Media houses seeking to ‘transform’ citizens into customers in a society driven by profit

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By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

In early 15th century Europe, news used to be political, economic, military, and diplomatic messages of the ruling classes. There was no mass media. It was often the voices of the businessmen and ruling elites circulated within their own networks. The revolutionary upheavals and democratization of society during the 19th century led to the growth of mass media.

People used mass media to fight against all forms of exploitation, injustices, and inequalities. The mass media has also played a momentous role during the struggle against feudalism, colonialism, and apartheid. Mass media is vital in the growth of liberal, secular, democratic, progressive, and scientific ideas in society.

Therefore, it is the historic responsibility of mass media to report on realities of everyday life and consider the fact as sacred in professional journalism. Yellow journalism is no journalism. But idealism and principles are dead within mainstream capitalist media.
From the early 20th century onwards, the mass media is not only manufacturing consent but also works as an agency of the ruling and non-ruling elites to hide alternatives from the masses. The old world of yellow journalism is transformed into news and opinions for sale in a post-truth world.

It spreads fake news, misrepresents everyday realities, twists facts, and shapes opinions like a marketing or advertisement industry. The mainstream media works as a propaganda machine for people with money and power. The uncritical reporting and ruling class biases are obsequious.
There is limited space for debates and disagreements in the media today. The editorial pages and opinion pieces are sponsored by the market forces that are concomitant with the requirements of neoliberal capitalism and its governance models.
The essence of neoliberal capitalism and its affiliated media is to create a domesticated and uncritical mass audience and destroy critical voices representing people. The idea is to create mass-produce social, cultural, and political values that accepts the dominance of illegitimate authority and power.

It is the market monopoly that controls the media today. The market monopolies are controlled by oligarchs of mass media. There are six companies (Comcast, Disney, Time Warner, Fox, CBS, and Viacom), which control almost all 90% media in the USA and other parts of the world.
The National Amusements is a multinational media conglomerate owned by Sumner Redstone and Shari Redstone. These two people control more than 170 networks, reaching out to more than 700 million people in more than 160 countries with the help of a company called the Viacom.
It is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. It controls print, electronics, and internet media outlets. It also controls movies, video games, TV shows, and many other creative industries like music. These companies shape public taste in culture, consumption, and voting behavior.

The Walt Disney Company is known as Disney, which controls hundreds of media and entertainment outlets. It is one of the leading multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate which played a major role in shaping capitalism with American dreams. It helped to transform the need-based society into a desire-based society with the help of its advertisement and animation industry.

It has promoted a culture of self-gratifying fantasies of individualism. It is also responsible for producing popular cultural narratives for the naturalization and normalization of American and global capitalism.

Time Warner is known as Warner Media LLC, which is another largest mass media and entertainment conglomerate. This conglomerate has used individual privacy data for its financial gain and played a major role in destroying net neutrality.

The Comcast is another largest media and entertainment conglomerate, which played a major role in shaping American and world politics. It has a huge budget for political lobbying and it funds electoral campaigns in the name of universal political action.

Six companies Comcast, Disney, Time Warner, Fox, CBS, and Viacom control almost 90% media in the US and other parts of the world
It traps consumers with its political projects and propaganda. This media corporation is opposed to universal media access. The News Corporation is owned by media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, who controls media and publication outlets in five continents. The News Corporation is known as the predatory capitalist media, which destroys media diversity and democracy. It upholds the power of the capitalist market.

Similarly, the Sony Corporation is another leading multinational conglomerate that controls the largest music, entertainment, and video game business. These media corporations uphold the voices of the capitalist class and suppress the interests of the working-class masses.

The large media corporations are a threat to the democratic and liberal values of the societies across the globe. In the pursuit of profit, the mainstream mass media has formed its alliances with reactionary religious, nationalist, undemocratic, illiberal, and fascist forces across the globe. It negates every founding principle of mass media.

These media corporations and their affiliates promote a culture of no alternative to capitalism in politics, economy, society, and culture. These forces hide the economic, social, and cultural realities of everyday lives within capitalism and promote capitalist myth. Facts are no longer the foundation of journalistic analysis.

It’s all about spreading the falsehood of market forces by spreading consumer culture as the only culture where individuals can realize their free choices. These media houses are responsible for transforming citizens as mere customers in a society driven by profit. In this way, mass media destroys society based on solidarity, love, share, and care by celebrating unabashed hedonistic individualism. Mass alienation is the net outcome of capitalism that led to corporate mass media.

It is imperative for people to detox themselves from the propaganda machines of the governing elites and find their own alternatives. It is time to reclaim the founding principles of mass media by representing the predicaments of the masses.
The masses can organize themselves to create cooperative media organizations to uphold their voices and represent their interests while promoting liberal, democratic, secular, and scientific ethos in society. This is only possible when people can control their own narratives by establishing people’s media free from corporate cultures.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is the only alternative to defeat the toxic culture of capitalism and its mass media, which destroys the lives, livelihoods of the masses. It serves power and tame voices of people. The powerful mass movement can crumble the palaces of media moguls and their oligarchic empire of propaganda and profit. The cooperative media owned by people is the only alternative to uphold Vox Populi.

*Coventry University, UK