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Posts Tagged ‘Desert Religions’

Indian Mosaic and the Western Melting Pot

September 6, 2009 2 comments

West has the lowest levels of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity persecutes whatever little is left. E.g. Roma Gypsies.

The US Melting Pot

The US Melting Pot

“However, India’s nation-building process differed markedly from the classic 19th-century European model. European nations flattened diversities. We now know that at the time of the French Revolution, only 10-12 % of France spoke French. Over the next 100 years, public schools and conscription armies turned “peasants into Frenchmen”. France simply did not allow diversities to flourish. Everyone came to speak French.

Under Gandhi, India consciously embraced diversities. Even though Gandhi thought that Hindustani — a combination of Hindi and Urdu — might become India’s lingua franca, the idea that India would be a multilingual nation soon took control of his political thinking. And the notion of embracing diversities was quickly extended to religions and castes.

Experience told Gandhi that most Indians had at least two or three identities. They were Bengali and Indian, Tamil and Indian, Hindu and Indian, Muslim and Indian. To push either fragment too far was to go against the requirements of Indian nation-building. Building a classic European style nation was simply not a practical option.

Thus was born the Congress model of politics, which was indistinguishable from nation-building. Today, we call this the “mosaic” model of nationalism, as opposed to the “melting pot” model. The latter term is often used for the US, but recent scholarship makes it clear that France is the biggest melting pot in the world.” (via No place for extremes in the Indian mosaic – Special Report – Sunday TOI – NEWS – The Times of India).

Ashutosh Varshney, in the article linked above, makes the distinction between ‘mosaic’ and ‘melting pot’ very well. Looking deeper, one, however needs to qualify his thesis.

Lowest diversity vs.Biggest talk

The West today has the lowest levels of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity – and persecutes whatever little is left, like the Roma Gypsies for example. Would critics like to mention any other country, where such a large minority Muslim population, has greater freedom and opportunity, than in India? Would you like to suggest France instead?

The US melting pot

The US melting pot

The language conundrum

India, has 15 official languages.

No other countries even had the courage to think of that. Various US state governments outlawed all languages – except English.

It was only in 1923, was this finally set aside after the matter reached the US Supreme Court (read Meyer vs Nebraska). The USA gathered some courage to start timidly with more than English only after seeing India’s success with 15 languages. Switzerland has only four. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalas do not want to accept Sri Lanka Tamils as full and equal citizens – hence the 20-year-old civil war.

In the thrall of One

The Western concept of nation building requires the cornerstones of Desert Bloc – One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festivals. This tyranny of the ‘One’ is the root of most problems in the world. From this ‘Oneness’, we get the ‘One’ Currency, ‘One’ Language logic  – a fallacious syllogism. Once you accept ‘One’, you will accept all others.

Manick Sarkar - does magic with cartoons also

Manick Sarkar – does magic with cartoons also

Before finished saying M

While Ashutosh Varshney makes the distinction between ‘mosaic’ and ‘melting pot’ very well, he misses the beat, completely, by crediting Gandhiji for this Indic construct! When he says, “Under Gandhi, India consciously embraced diversities” is he implying that before Gandhiji, India was a mono-bloc society.

Was it under the thrall of ‘One’?

Would Gandhiji have become a Mahatma in India, if tried the ‘melting pot’ strategy?

I think not!

He would have been rejected, rubbished and trashed before he could have said M.

Of mosaic, melting or Mahatma.


Racism in Detective Fiction

Postcolonial postmortems By Christine Matzke, Susanne Muehleisen page 88

From the book "Postcolonial postmortems By Christine Matzke, Susanne Muehleisen page 88

How very true!

Monster fiction for children!

Monster fiction for children!

Whatta shot!

Ms.Christine and Susanne, you have hit the nail right in the centre of head! Your aim is truer than you imagine. Though I don’t know if you have hit the nail deep enough – deep into the heart of darkness in the Western heart, which gave rise to these genres of Western ‘literature’.

An Indian columnist laments how Indians lack literary talent and ability!

The Indian churail (or pisach or djinni) faces similar problems as the Scandinavian myling or the Er Gui of China: they don’t translate well outside of their culture.

India may have had local incidents, where an oppressive zamindar may have created a market for horror stories and monsters – but without genocide, slavery and massacres to fall back on, popular imagination simply does not have the fodder to create ghouls and monsters.

And that is reason for Indian churails being rare – not lack of literary ability in Indians.

Trailing the Buddha

July 15, 2009 1 comment

Photographer Benoy K Behl’s pursuit of documenting ancient Indian art and the spread of Buddhism across the world does not show any signs of slowing. He is travelling to Siberia and Afghanistan to shoot art in the monasteries there, and his project will culminate in shows in London and New York, finds Anand Sankar (via Trailing the buddha).

Indian academia abdicates

Western historians trace this art form to Islamic school

Western historians trace this art form to Islamic school

This short post in Business Standard is an eye opener. It is another case of the Dysfunctional Indian academia, which is the story of abdication by the Indian academia in correcting colonial history. Western historiography, based on a colonial agenda and racial superiority is not being challenged – at least not enough.

To the lengthening line of non-specialists, who are re-writing Indian history, like Amaresh Misra (War of 1857), Anant Darwatkar (on Sambhaji Maharaj), Parag Tope (on Tatiya Tope’s role in 1857), Savitri Sawhney (on the Ghadar Party’s contribution to Indian Freedom Movement), we can now add the name of Benoy K Behl. As this article points out,

Some of Behl’s observations on the Indic vision might ruffle feathers in the academia, amongst certain ideologues. While politely saying that he “stays away from political issues”, he points out: “At some places, they are less confused than us. For example in Bali, they know that the Ramayana sets a benchmark for ethical rule. It is literature, an epic of ideas.

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

Awesome Work

Capturing Indian history across more than 20 countries, Benoy K Behl has spent,

almost two decades now, … to document the spread of Buddhism; his work evident in over 30,000 unique photographs that he has taken all over the world.

He has found that

“At many of these places people may not have seen present-day Indians but they still hold Indian culture in great regard”.

Unlearning and learning

Western history in the thralldom of the Greek Miracle and a colonial agenda of minimizing and subverting Indian history, is a bad (though usual) starting point to understand Indian history. To Benoy K Behl,

“The paintings of Ajanta appeared to me as a world of compassion. An entire world is enshrined there. It had an immense effect on me. I found all the things one had believed in and wanted to believe in there. I was really taught by that art. It is a really good way to learn. Western literature did not come in the way of art and me”.

At Ajanta, Behl says he found that the popular view was that the paintings were a “flash in the pan”. And that there was no documentation of what happened before and after these. “Sheer volumes of art are waiting to be discovered and with them, a perspective will emerge. People haven’t bothered to go to these places.

Mahajanaka vaanprastha

Mahajanaka vaanprastha

Desert Bloc legacy

Benoy K Behl makes an interesting observation that India discovered religion in the last few centuries. Early India never had religion. Which is exactly what the 2ndlook blog has said for the last few years.

“In ancient times, there was nothing called Hindusism, Jainism or Buddhism. This is a European construct of a divided religion. The philosophy of religion was not limited by these divisions in India or in Asia even”.

If I may add – The Europeans are a part of The Desert Bloc – where religion was born and propagated.

Gajalakshmi in Varaha cave

Gajalakshmi in Varaha cave

What Benoy K Behl brings to the table

An independent and interesting perspective. A rare commodity in the best of times. For distressed Indian history, it is invaluable.

Citing an example, Behl says, one of the stories that needs to be documented in India is the contribution of Kumara Jiva, a big name in Chinese Buddhism. “He was the son of Kumara Yana, an Indian nobleman who married Princess Jiva of Kucha (in China). Jiva took her son to the Kashmir valley, where he studied for 19 years. He became the greatest translator for Buddhist scriptures in China, especially the Lotus Sutra.” The Chinese government has built a statue recognising this at the Kizil caves, on the northern Silk Route in the remote Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Behl suggests that India must also “build a statue of Kumara Jiva” in recognition of his origins.

The ancient culture of India is important in world history. European writing has perhaps undermined this.” To substantiate this he says that Ashoka is still revered everywhere from the Volga basin to Japan.

New view on India

More of Benoy K Behl

The National Geographic has put together some good photographs – and I am sure there are more where these came from.

Threat to bomb Indian community centre in Belfast- Hindustan Times

July 14, 2009 3 comments

The Indian Community Centre in Belfast has received a threat letter from Protestant extremists asking immigrants to leave Northern ireland or face bomb attacks.

Besides the Indian centre, the threat letter has been sent to the Belfast Islamic Centre and the Polish Association, reports from Belfast said.

The letter, threatening of racist violence, from the youth wing of the Ulster Defence Association warned: “No sympathy for foreigners, get out of our Queen’s country before our bonfire night (July 11) and parade day (July 12).”

“Other than that your building will be blown up. Keep Northern Ireland white. Northern Ireland is only for white British.” (via Threat to bomb Indian community centre in Belfast- Hindustan Times).

When the Roma Gypsies were attacked and assaulted, ‘knowing’ readers responded that it was the fault of the Roma Gypsy!

After all, how can you blame other people? Apparently, the logic why the Roma Gypsies are disliked is, because,

“people dislike a group that don’t pay taxes, don’t integrate into the community, don’t speak the language of their guest country, and are seemingly the origins of most petty crime in any area they descend upon, and yet this same group demand the community supports them, demands that specialist teachers are provided for their offspring, demand they have unfettered access to the same services as the rest of us but don’t pay their way.”

What could be more logical, when these Roma,

appear anywhere they want, set up their camps, totally dividing entire communities, demand these things, and then get … bleeding heart liberals jumping to their defence when the people (btw – they were the people you guys would have been defending 10 years ago, although,to be fair, you probably patronisingly refered to them as ‘proles’) decide to give them a message, and yet you wonder why they’re hated.

Probably, the Indians, Poles and the Muslims also have similar problems – which they themselves cannot see.

But these enlightened British souls from Northern Ireland can see more and further – then we can.

EU scraps ban on ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables – The Times of India

July 2, 2009 3 comments

These potatoes didnt know EU rules ...

These potatoes didn't know EU rules ...

Europe ends a two-decade ban on wonky fruit and vegetables on Wednesday by scrapping standards that keep misshapen mushrooms and curvy cucumbers out of supermarkets.

The European Union said dropping rules that only allow beautiful-looking produce to hit shop shelves would reduce waste and allow farmers sell more of their crop. (via EU scraps ban on ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables – International Business – Business – The Times of India).

Shameless vegetables?

Shameless vegetables?

Earlier in November, newspapers reported that,

Based on a proposal by the European Commission, EU member-states voted to repeal specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables, including asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, cherries, melons and onions. The standards, introduced more than 20 years ago, have been derided by critics as proof of EU’s madness to regulate everything, under which a Class 1 green asparagus must be green for 80 per cent of its length, Class 1 cucumbers should not be bent by a curve of more than 10 millimetres per 10 centimetres, and a string of onions must have 16 onions to qualify.

Forked carrots, onions that are less than two thirds covered with skin and the over bent cucumbers have been excluded from supermarket shelves. Now, the rules governing the size and shape of fruit and vegetables will be consigned to history.

EU wants bananas and cucumbers to follow rules

EU wants bananas and cucumbers to follow 'rules'

To those who think that this over-regulation is a ‘modern’ phenomenon, must look at the Desert Bloc history of nearly 2500 years. During this period, the cornerstones of ‘modern’ societies (based on older religions) from the Desert Bloc are One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festivals, et al.

From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic  – a fallacious syllogism. Once you accept One, you will accept all others, including ideas like one shape of vegetables. This quest of ‘oneness’ is the root of most problems in the world.

And when you see ‘modern’ law-makers spending time, on making bananas obey their rules, about shape and curvature, you know where this comes from!

Roma Gypsies face Northern Ireland ethnic violence

June 18, 2009 24 comments
A frugal Romani Gypsy Camp

A frugal Romani Gypsy Camp

Police said the racist attacks started last week, with gangs smashing house windows and attacking cars. The violence flared again on Monday when youths hurling bottles and Nazi salutes attacked an anti-racism rally called to support the migrants.

Belfast City Council press officer Mark Ashby said the majority of the victims were Roma, or Gypsies, from Romania.

Marian Mandache, from the Romanian Gypsy NGO Romani Crisis, said the Northern Ireland violence was the latest in a disturbing trend of attacks across Europe.

“Starting with Italy in 2007, there have been waves of … racist attacks against Roma,” said Mandache. “Afterwards, there were attacks in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.” (via Gypsies face Northern Ireland ethnic violence).

Hitler was never alone

Hitler’s biggest mistake – he lost the war.

The genocide with which his regime was charged with was also carried out against the Native Americans in the USA, the Australian aborigines, in Congo by the Belgians. Post colonial Governments in Kenya and India have ignored the cover-up of the millions killed by the colonial rulers – in the Mau Mau operations in Kenya or the 1857 War in India.

The Romani Gypsies Sinti have been a favored European target for the last 500 years – by the Vatican, by the Protestant Church, by monarchies and by Republican Governments. In war and and in peace.

Their crime. They civilized (?) Europe. No less.

A 'campaign' to remove Roma Gypsies from camping sites in Britain

A 'campaign' to remove Roma Gypsies from camping sites in Britain

Why Europe continues to demonize and persecute the Roma

Despite the immense contribution by the Roma Gypsies to European culture and life. Is it because: –

  1. They have a different lifestyle – which is migratory and frugal. They do not wish to have permanent homes, too many possessions or jobs. They prefer living in wagons, with skills and trade that they possess.
  2. They have not ‘integrated’ into the White, Christian, European social system. They wish to remain ‘different’.
  3. They stick out like sore thumbs – in a Europe where the Jews have been annihilated, where  descendants of the African slave populations have been exterminated and the Islamic population (past and present) is not tolerated. In such a situation, the Roma Gypsies have not only survived, but have regrown (after Hitler’s concentration camps killed them by millions).

Since when, are these qualities a crime.

Recent history

A few months ago, the Italian police started a campaign of racial profiling and persecution of the Roma – based on an isolated murder of an Italian.

This disproportionate response against a community, to a crime (I am making an assumption of guilt) by a Roma individual, smacks of persecution, racism and pogroms. After all, this is how Hitler and Mussolini too started their campaigns.

In Northern Ireland, the Roma Gypsy number less than 1000. What threat, what problem could they be to the nearly 2 million people of Northern Ireland?

In Britain,

For over twenty years Erith Borough Council continually tried to remove the gypsies from the Marshes. The Council’s eviction policy even made the National Press. In 1948 the Daily Mirror ‘Ruggles’ cartoon strip featured the plight of the Belvedere Gypsy community.

Finally, in 1956 Erith Borough Council got its way. The Council minutes for that year record that “over 700 persons and 280 ramshackle structures have been removed…The clearance could now be said to be complete” thus ending over 100 years of Gypsy history living on Belvedere Marshes.

By 1965, following a campaign led by Norman Dodds, MP for Erith and Crayford, the Government commissioned a national census survey of the Gypsy community living in Great Britain. Sadly, Norman Dodds died in 1965, but James Wellbeloved who became the MP for the same seat took up Dodds’ campaign and finally, in 1968 Parliament passed the Caravans Sites Act. This Act placed a duty on all local authorities in England and Wales to provide sites on which Gypsies could place their caravans and stay, either temporarily or permanently. However this duty was repealed by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1995. (from Gypsies In Bexley: A Hundred Years On The Belvedere Marshes By Simon McKeon, 13/07/2006, from Untold London).

Unarmed, and a few of them!

PS

To all those who wanted to pin the blame for this wave of violence at the doorsteps of the Roma, better find a new and better story. It was reported that Indians, Muslims and the Poles were also warned. Leave Northern Ireland, or else.

Apply command responsibility!

May 11, 2009 1 comment

In these days of easy communication and the existence of a clear chain of authority, ignorance cannot be an excuse. In the post World-War I era, the principle of ‘Command Responsibility’ was evolved for imputation of responsibility and criminal liability to superior officers for the actions of their subordinates. This principle was most famously used to sentence to death General Yamashita of Japan for crimes committed against civilians in the Philippines, and has been included since in a number of international law instruments, including the rules for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In the Nuremberg trials after World War II, command responsibility was undoubtedly a consideration for affixing liability, but was not really applied because the accused German ministers and officers were found to have a direct role in the atrocities committed by the instrumentalities of the Nazi state. This is a principle that has been utilised to punish those who order the commission of crimes against humanity as also those who turn a blind eye to the commission of these crimes. As defined under the Rome Statute, it can apply to both military and civil authorities, although it has mostly been used to prosecute military commanders whose troops were found to have committed offences which were within their notice. (via Apply command responsibility- Comments & Analysis-Opinion-The Economic Times).

Interesting concept

Wonder how this can be used by the Roma Gypsies against Berlusconi for persecution by the Italian police. Or against the Hungarian and Czech Governments for their complicity and inaction against the persecution of the Roma Gypsies.

This disproportionate response against a community, to a crime (I am making an assumption of guilt) by a Roma individual, smacks of persecution, racism and pogroms. After all, this is how Hitler and Mussolini too started their campaigns.

Why does Europe continue to demonize and persecute the Roma

Despite the immense contribution by the Roma Gypsies to European culture and life. Is it because: –

  1. They have a different lifestyle – which is migratory and frugal. They do not wish to have permanent homes, too many possessions or jobs. They prefer living in wagons, with skills and trade that they possess.
  2. They have not ‘integrated’ into the White, Christian, European social system. They wish to remain ‘different’.
  3. They stick out like sore thumbs – in a Europe where the Jews have been annihilated, where the descendants of Black slave populations have been exterminated and the Islamic population (past and present) is not tolerated. In such a situation, the Gypsies have not only survived, but have regrown (after Hitler’s concentration camps killed them by millions).

Since when, are these qualities a crime.

Long history

In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies.

Sharing the Nazi concentration camps with the Jews were a fringe European group – Roma Gypsies. 80% of the Romany Gypsy population – a greater percentage of Roma Gypsies died than the Jews.

Jewish Double Standards

On 16 September 1986, as Elie Wiesel addressed a wide range of audience in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, he stated

“I confess that I feel somewhat guilty towards our Roma friends. We have not done enough to listen to your voice of anguish. We have not done enough to make other people listen to your voice of sadness. I can promise you we shall do whatever we can from now on to listen better” (Tanner 1997).

Elie Wiesel confirms that he feels only somewhat guilty and will do his best to listen – just like Europe and the world does – once in while, listen to the Roma Gypsy and then revert back to complete indifference rest of the time.

Sarkozy lectures to Manmohan Singh

A few months ago, President Sarkozy was preaching to PM Manmohan Singh of India, about managing minorities. Can you, Shri Sarkozy, look at your own backyard. For a start, will you start with some Muslim North Africans, Mr.Sarkozy!

Mr.Sarkozy, recently, in the EU, Roma Gypsies, who are EU citizens, were profiled and expelled from Italy because of 1 incident (yes, one) where a White was murdered – allegedly by a Roma Gypsy. France and Italy both belong to an organization called the EU – which now wants to teach India about Human rights.

A few months ago, the Italian police started a campaign of racial profiling and persecution of the Roma – based on an isolated murder of an Italian. Till recently, France was head of EU. If you, Mr. Sarkozy, can preach to Manmohan Singh, can you start with your colleagues – in Italy, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Do European prejudices include Roma Gypsy children, Sarkozy mahodai?

Law and order

an angry mob attacked a Roma gypsy camp outside of Naples … when a gypsy woman was accused of trying to steal a baby from a nearby apartment. Police arrested the woman, but a crowd then turned against all 800 gypsies living in the camp. “They have to go,” said one Italian. “They stink, they bother us, and they steal from us. That is why they have to go.” Tuesday night, a group of people torched the camp, forcing residents to flee under police protection. (from Italian police crack down on immigrants)

Now, this Italy. If the Italians are so brave and law-abiding, I would like to see the Italians torch the home of a Mafiosi! Even a small time hood! A low-level Mafiosi. After all, the Mafia is the biggest criminal organization in Italy! Where is this outrage, when it comes to the Mafia?

Let us face it – this is entirely because the Roma Gypsies have not taken to violence or arms! If I were an Italian, I would be careful. Like the British found out, we Indians are a peaceful lot … till …

Roma Gypsies are Indians

The Roma Gypsies came to Europe 1000 years ago, from India – and are till today considered outsiders. They are not allowed to lead their lifestyle – and the Gypsy community is accused of all misdeeds. It is the same Gypsies who civilized Europe with their music. Today, the West desperately hides the fact that Western classical music was derived and grew from Gypsy music. No longer slaves, the discrimination and persecution continues.

Zombies versus churails

Could you have an equally successful version with churails and djinns? Perhaps, but Grahame-Smith’s success is also because of the public fascination with zombies, vampires and werewolves. Werewolves come from the Old Norse vargulf, and were feared as actual threats several centuries ago. Zombies originated in Haiti, but the idea of revenants—the walking dead—was very much part of Old English folklore. Vampires, especially the Transylvanian kind, reached the peak of their popularity in the 18th century.

True zombies, vampires and werewolves have not been feared for at least two centuries. But their place in the popular imagination has been maintained by horror movies and novels as well as several generations of gamers. Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series elevated the classic vampire love story to interspecies romance, with a werewolf vying for the hand of the beautiful Bella. (via Nilanjana S Roy: Zombies versus churails).

Why are Indians so bad at horror films …

Why does the largest film production culture, i.e. India not produce Jaws, Jurassic Park (animals as malevolent monsters; justifying the extermination of huge swathes of wild life, “good that we have exterminated them). Where is the Indian Dracula or Frankenstein? In all its 25 major languages and more than 500 plus dialects, Indians don’t have a national ‘monster’ culture? The writer of this column writes, almost complainingly, how

But few have carried on the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote some of the most chilling ghost stories of all time—Khudito Pashan (The Hungry Stones) being perhaps the best of them. It’s not for lack of talent—for instance, Tarun Tejpal and Ravi Shankar Etteth have both played around with the ghost story. Ravi Shankar wrote at least one classic, featuring a busload of highly unusual passengers in war-ravaged Kashmir. In 1914, a Mr S Mukerji compiled a set of Indian ghost stories

The Ramsay family tried keeping the ‘horror’ flag flying. But most of their ‘horror’ films finally turned out to be romantic comedies – with a token presence of the ‘horror’ element.

The Indic spread

Other Indian themes have crossed languages, geographies, cultures – and spread all over the world. Witness the spread of Ramayana or how Sanskrit defined most languages of the world. After more than 1000 years of aggression, the Desert Bloc has only half the world as its adherents – though they have 80% of the world’s geography. The Indic belief systems still accounts for half the world’s population.

Why indeed does India have a scarcity of ‘monsters’. Even Indian asuras are not really monsters or devils! This columnist speculates that

perhaps something of the belief that ghost stories are for the masses, not for the purveyors of high literature, has rubbed off on to our authors. That, given India’s rich heritage of dakinis, betaals, nishibhoots and other things that go bump in the night, is a sad mistake.

To understand this better, let us look at the world’s most fertile ground for ‘monsters’ …

Medieval – Renaissance Europe

16th century Europe – specifically, Spain and Portugal. The last of the Moors had been driven out of Spain. The Christian standard was flying high. The Papal Bull divided the Earth (for the Europeans) between Spain and Portugal. White Christian rulers of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, set historic standards in persecution and extortion. More than a million Jews were killed, crucified, burnt alive; their properties confiscated and distributed. Columbus returned to enslave the American Natives – and subsequently, work them to death.

New chapters in bloodshed were being written by conquistadors like Vasco Nunez De Balboa, Francisco Pizarro, Juan Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto, Hernando Cortez, et al. Not to forget the search for El Dorado led by, “above all, that prince of monsters Lope de Aquirre, colour the pages with the darkest hues of bloody emprise.” In South American memory, Francisco de Carvajal, the “demon of the Andes” remains alive. These real-life monsters set new standards in brutality, slavery and genocide.

Europe in the sixteenth century was “obsessed with questions of language, and especially so in Spain and its recently conquered American Empire (emphasis mine). This was driven by

what Marshal McLuhan called “the hypertrophy of the unconscious,” a phenomenon he associated with periods of revolution in media technology: the advent of print in the 16th century created a great need for sensational materials to be broadcast, and this need caused ideas that formerly had been only lurking in the dark recesses of men’s minds to come floating to the surface.

One of the great bestsellers of the 16th century was the Histoires prodigieuses of Pierre Boaistuau (Paris, 1560), a sort of Renaissance Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not containing marvelous tales on everything … Seventeen of the Histoires forty tales are about monsters, a fact that may explain why the book was republished anywhere from ten to twenty two times and translated into Dutch, Spanish and English. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Spanish literature of the Renaissance

From this hotbed of ferment, a representative of this period was Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681), the Spanish writer. Growing up in a Spain, a 100 years after the Conquistadors, benefiting from the twin advantages of fresh memory and hindsight “a century of Janus, facing backward, towards the rise of the Spanish Empire … and forward, toward its decline.” His more than a 100 plays and writings represent 17th century Spain, significantly – and even Europe.

There is probably no word that is more characteristic of Calderon de la Barca’s art than monstruo, “monster.” Rare is the play in which the word does not appear several times … (from Celestina’s brood By Roberto González Echevarría).

Calderon’s play about Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire builder, showed her in a monster mode – her hybrid character the most masculine modes and the most feminine, a monster of destruction and creation”. And Calderon was not alone. The fertile growth of monsters gave birth to a new study – teratology, the study of monsters.

“Monster lore truly becomes “popular culture” only with the Renaissance … Fresh works on the subject of teratology are written by Italians, Germans, and Frenchmen. The foreruuner of the modern newspaper, the broadside were bought at street corners and at fairs by the barely literate masses. The great reformers Luther and Melanchthon used the broadside medium to popularize their propagandistic and anti-Catholic versions of two of the most famous monsters of the Renaissance, the Monk-calf of Freiburg and the Pope-ass of Rome. (from Popular culture in the Middle Ages By Josie P. Campbell).

Some of Calderon’s plays dealt with the proselytization of the Native Americans – like his play, La Aurora En Copacabana (Dawn in the Copacabana), described as a play about “the conquest and conversion of the Indians in Peru”

The success of the conquest, therefore, is attributed to (Christian) faith which is valued as mans greatest gift to the world … Thus (Christian) conquest becomes a form of colonisation with the purpose of imposing religion and culture on a land “que habitan inhumanos” (512) and is in need of redemption and education. Finally, the play tries to harmonise irreconcilable contradictions which lie at the bottom of colonial discourse. (texts in brackets and italics mine).

With this idea, must be seen something important. That is the important element of “the escape of the monster.” In the … Monster Theory, Joel Cohen has remarked that the monster always escapes. Now combine the three elements – the newly acquired colonies of America, the proselytization (or otheriwse, the genocide) and the escape of the monster. These were the ‘monsters’ of colonialism.

A very interesting play by Calderon was La vida es sueño (Life is a dream). It tells the story of Segismundo, the Prince Of Poland, who was destined to be a monster. To forestall the prophecy, Segismundo was imprisoned by his father from the time of his birth. In adulthood, released from prison to test the prediction, Segismundo fulfills the prophecy. As a analyst of Calderon’s work summarizes,

Affirming a “better reality,” Segismundo’s message speaks as well to all of Europe: the “new European man” is the real monster. (from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

200 years after Calderon, HG Wells, in the The Island of Doctor Moreau, foretold Joseph Menegle’s experiments rather well.

Onshore genocide – The Roma Gypsies

Apart from the Jewish persecution, less known is the the persecution of the Roma Gypsy, which continues till date. In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies. In Europe you could be hung to death if you committed the crime of being born – between 1500AD-1750AD! Born as a Roma Gypsy!

Europeans, in the their age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, (1500-1750) could just pick up human slaves – yes, own them like cattle and furniture, if you found one! As long as they were Roma Gypsies. Later you could also sell them for profit!

Ship owners and captains in Europe’s Golden age, (1500-1750) could arrange galley slaves for free. No wages, no salary. You just had to feed them. Use them, abuse them, flog them, kill them, drown them. You could do anything – as long as they were Roma Gypsies.

What set off the Roma Gypsy Genocide

In 1420, a 60 year old man, blind in one eye took charge – and took on the might of the Roman Church and Roman Emperors.

Jan Zizka.

Over the next 12 months, he became completely blind. In the next 15 years, Zizka (and other Czech generals) defeated, many times, the combined armies of Germany, The Roman Church and others. His military strategy was studied for the next 500 years. Thereafter, the myth of military might of the Church was broken forever.

Jan Zizka allied himself with the Taborites (the radical Hussite wing). Zizka made Tábor in Bohemia into an armored and mobile fortress – the Wagenburgs.

Interestingly, a 100 years after the Hussite Wars, the European persecution of the Roma Gypsies began in full earnest. And during WW2, the Vatican joined with the Nazi collaborators, the Ustashe,  to extort gold and the genocide against the Roma Gyspises.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the Battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Coming back …

Who were the major users of the wagons in Europe then (and now?) Answer – The Roma Gypsies.

Who were the people who could pose spiritual and ecclesiastical questions to the Vatican? Answer – The Gypsies, with their Indian heritage, were not not new to spiritual dialectics (contests, discourse and debates). For instance, Mani, and his adherents, an Indic teacher of Buddhist thought, known to Christians as Manichean thought, were the nightmare for Christianity till the 15th century. When Mani called for overthrow of slavery, the Vatican at the Council of Gangra, re-affirmed its faith in slavery. European minds were occupied with the questions raised by the Hussite reformers.

Some think they (the Waldensians) had held them for centuries; some think they had learned them recently from the Taborites. If scholars insist on this latter view, we are forced back on the further question: Where did the Taborites get their advanced opinions? If the Taborites taught the Waldenses, who taught the Taborites?

Who were the people who could help the persecuted Waldensians, the Bogomils, the Cathars to escape persecution and spread out across the Europe? Answer – The Roma Gypsies – in their wagons. The same Gypsies, had earlier pioneered the Troubadour culture in the Provence Region, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade by the Vatican.

Prokop Coat Of ArmsProkop Coat Of Arms

And who was the King of the Taborites? Answer – An entire clan of leaders who called themselves as Prokop (The Shaven /Bald; The Little and The Great) were the military leaders of the Taborites.

The word and name Prokop have no meaning in any European language – except in Sanskrit, where it means vengeance, retribution, violent justice.

Mythology as History

Jan Hus initiated the Reformation in the Vatican Church. It was Jan Zizka who broke the back of Papal authority. On the back of these Czech successes, was laid the foundation of 95 Theses by Martin Luther in 1517. The British break (1533-34) with the Holy Roman Church happened due to favors by the Papal office to the Iberian Empires – in matters of trade and colonial expansion, and the impediments to divorce of Henry-VIII at the behest of the Spanish rulers.

Today, the Germans and the British are loath to be reminded about the Czech Church Reform initiatives and the defeats at the hands of the Poles and Czechs. Western historiography about the Enlightenment and Renaissance, in Britain, France and Germany, leading to the reformation is ‘mythology as history’.

Of course, the role of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Empire in the entire Czech saga is also worth re-examining. Were the Hussite Wars, a proxy war waged by the Eastern Church against the Vatican?

Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

In the 19th century came the monster story was dubbed as Gothic – and this form of story-telling matured as a craft.

A significant array of Gothic writers emerged from Ireland (from Charles Maturin, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the contemporary writer Patrick McGrath), in a colonial situation where a Protestant minority was the colonial occupier. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851), wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley started writing Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, at the age of 18, and completed it one year later. First published in London, anonymously, in 1818 by small London publishing house of Harding, Mavor & Jones – after previous rejections by bigger publishers like Charles Ollier (Percy Bysshe Shelley’s publisher), and John Murray (by Byron’s publisher). The writer’s name started appearing from the second edition of 1823 onwards. The interesting aspect, lost in popular usge, is that the monster is not named – and Frankenstein was the scientist, who brought the monster to life.

In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde was first published. This explored how ‘normal’ (Dr.Jekyll) human beings could become ‘evil’ (Mr.Hyde).

And in 1887, Bram Stoker, an Irish writer published his Dracula. The character of Dracula is based on Emperor Sigismund and his Order of the Dragon, who waged war against the Hussites – led by Jan Zizka. Infamous for his betrayal of Jan Hus, he sparked of the Hussite Wars, in which the Taborites (the Roma Gypsies) used wagons and gun powder for the first time in Europe. He founded a secret sect,  the “Dracul” called the Order of the Dragon.

Of course, these three are the most famous – but not the only ones. Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 “Carmilla“, about a lesbian vampire was another monster book of its time. An associate of Mary Shelley, John Polidori created the character of the “The Vampyre” in 1819 – on which possibly Dracula was based.

Most significantly, in 1896, was HG Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, which presaged Joseph Mengele – when Joseph Mengele had not even started on his higher education. A good 50 years before Joseph Mengele’s experiments were discovered by a shocked world.

The wellspring of these works is H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. In this 1896 novel, a vivisectionist attempts to transform animals into men until the misshapen creatures revert and kill him, the forces of nature overcoming man’s civilizing artifices. From The Boys From Brazil (Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele, alive and well and cloning Hitlers at a secret lab in the Brazilian Amazon) to Jurassic Park (Richard Attenborough alive and well and cloning velociraptors), Wells’ basic formula has become familiar: an island; a Frankensteinian experiment; a Faustian scientist; something gone terribly, terribly wrong. (from Requiem for the Mad Scientist

From the 1700-1800, while Spain was in decline, for about a 100 years, Western literary field did not see too much action on the monster front. The main action was in Haiti, where zombies, the ex-murderers, the living dead became a part of the voodoo cult.

The late Victorian era was one of the most expansive phases of the empire. Britain annexed some thirty-nine separate areas around the world between 1870-1900, in competition with newly aggressive America in the Pacific or the European powers in the so-called ‘Scramble for Africa’ after the continent was divided up at the Berlin conference of 1885. (from Late Victorian Gothic tales By Roger Luckhurst)

The last of the true great monster in popular culture came from the East. Soon after WW2, as tales of Japanese atrocities started coming out and as American atrocities in Vietnam started, Godzilla came out of Japan. But a different pressure head was building up, which gave rise to a new genre – detective fiction.

Euro-Pessimism

Between 1800-1950, Western powers killed (directly or otherwise) more than 50 million people in America (the Native Americans), Africa (the Native Africans), Asia (Indians, Chinese, Arabs). This led to a situation that every other person in the West had participated in murder or massacre – unlike the few Conquistadors. Western ambiguity towards Soviet Russia on one side, Hitler on the other was itself a concern. To that add, Gandhiji’s resolute opposition to colonialism and you have a inflammable moral situation.

The deluge of blood and murder caused moral anxiety and was a matter of ethical dilemma amongst common folks. The pressure valve for this was popular fiction. Identifying murderers became a form of proxy, vicarious entertainment for ordinary folks. Enter the super detectives, who pick out the murderer from a room full of ordinary people. Enter detectives like Auguste Dupin, of ‘The Purloined Letter‘ fame, who “investigates an apparently motiveless and unsolvable double murder in the Rue Morgue.”

Murder in Popular Image

The racist imagery in Tintin.

The 'racist' imagery in Tintin.

A trend started by Edgar Allan Poe, whose first detective novel, Murders In Rue Morgue (1841) soon became an avalanche. Writers like Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple solving murders happening by the second), Georges Simenon (and his Inspector Maigret investigating brutal crimes), Ngaio Marsh (Roderick Alleyn), GK Chesterton (Father Brown), Raymond Chandler (Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe) dealt with murder. Alfred Hitchcock made horror thrillers in similar themes.

In 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock series made its debut. Many of Conan Doyle’s characters came from the colonies. Many victims lived in isolated communities. Past (mis)deeds caught up. Crime, murder and malevolence hung in the air like thick smoke. Some of the stories addressed the colour prejudice. The status of England as a super-power was apparent. The intrigue and bloodshed in the India was palpable in stories like the The Sign of Four at the Pondicherry Lodge.

Tintin in Congo

Tintin in Congo

Agatha Christie’s book, filmed as Ten Little Indians, based on the book, initially released (the book) in Britain as Ten Little Niggers (later renamed as Then There None) gives the game away. Agatha Christie probably unconsciously verbalized the White desire to ensure that there should be none of the Red Indians left to tell the tale. The overt racism in Herge’s ‘Tintin in Congo’ made the world sit-up and note the pervasiveness of racism in detective fiction.

Media and academia

Jerome Delamater, Ruth Prigozy, in an essay compilation, ‘Theory and Practice of Classic Detective Fiction’, observe that Jane Marple, along with Hercule “Poirot becomes an equal opportunity detective who really believes that anyone might commit murder”. Dismissing the jaundiced view of human nature,” the writers of this book, while commenting about the detective fiction genre, do not mention slavery at all – and mention colonialism and racism once each.

One writer, Franco Moretti did half the job in book Signs Taken for Wonders: On the Sociology of Literary Forms By Franco Moretti. He writes,

“The perfect crime – the nightmare of detective fiction – is the feature-less, deindividualized crime that anyone could have committed because at this point everyone is the same.” He further writes,“Yet, if we turn to Agatha Christie, the situation is reversed.Her hundred-odd books have only one message: the criminal can be anyone …”

Detective FictionIn his entire book he does not use the words like slavery, racism, genocide, bigotry even once. The 19th century, which was based on Western bigotry, White racism, African slavery, and assorted genocides is unrecognised in Moretti’s books.

Running or hiding? Or it a case of feeling squeamish? Perhaps, a case of queasy stomach, Franco?

Another book, The Detective as Historian: History and Art in Historical Crime Fiction, by Ray Broadus Browne, Lawrence A. Kreiser does a better job. This book examines, the detective fiction genre, with some references to slavery and child prostitution.

How was this explained away

As the monsters increased, both in real life and literature, rationalizations were required. A person no less than Immanuel Kant, was pressed into service to deconstruct the ‘monster’, re-invent it and give it a positive spin.

The monster taken up by Kant in an aesthetic sense to refer to those things that exceed representation considers that the monstrous describes an entity whose life force is greater than the matter in which in which it is contained. Thus rather than something that malfunctions during the course of its production, monstrosity is associated during romanticism with “over-exuberant living matter” that extends itself beyond its natural borders in order to affect a much wider sphere. ((from The subject in question By C. Christopher Soufas).

In the twentieth century, Kant’s hypothesis finds an echo when Lord Randolph William Churchill, the ‘Bulldog’ declared

I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race has come in and taken their place. (from Minorities, peoples, and self-determination By Nazila Ghanea-Hercock, Nazila Ghanea, Alexandra Xanthaki, Patrick Thornberry)

In another instance, Churchill wrote how superior’ Arabs, imposed on the ‘inferior’ negroes.

The stronger race imposed its customs and language on the negroes. The vigour of their blood sensibly altered the facial appearance … (from The River War By Winston Churchill).

The Mystery of the Dying Detective

After de-colonisation, as mass murder went underground, the detective-murder mystery books genre faded. This category was replaced by a new theme – the axis of Corporation-Government-International Conspiracy.

The new category of popular fiction are represented by Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey, Frederick Forsyth, Irving Wallace, Robert Ludlum, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, et al. More and more contrived, each conspiracy theory writer has been ‘inspired’ by real life incidents.

While Ludlum’s international-conspiracy-plot-CIA-FBI-KGB series have worn thin, the spookiness of Le Carre’s Absolute Friends and Constant Gardner still work as novels representing the West.

Western Twins – Anxiety and Paranoia

To develop this understanding further, there are two classes of films that I wish to draw attention to.

Malignant Nature

Jaws (the shark that eats humans), Jurassic Park (mad scientists, conspiring technicians let loose man eating dinos) Gremlins and Poltergiest (things that go bump in the night). This paranoid fear of nature (and natural laws) seems to be a result of the subterranean knowledge of the way in which ecological damage and pollution is happening. These films produced /directed by Steven Spielberg (who is incomparable because as Time Magazine says, “No one else has put together a more popular body of work”)

Illegal AliensVindictive Humans

The other is the thinly disguised hate and prejudice films against the poor and the victimised. ‘Aliens’ needs just one small change for the films idea to become clear. Instead of LV-426, Nostromo the space ship, receives a distress call from some country in South America or Africa (or India, if you prefer). The meaning is clear when you see the movie while conscious of the fact that alien is is the word the US Government uses for people from other countries.

As for the Indian churails

Coming to India, a writer notes how

Francesca Orsini identifies the detective  novel as one of the genres that ‘was brought into India ‘ready-made’ without the intellectual and historical substratus that had generated it in Europe’ This total lack of any indigenous roots, one could argue, makes detective  fiction a colonial imposition, and its adoption by Indian writers, clearly a case of copy-cat reproduction wherein ‘black-pens’ write ‘white-texts’ that have no identity of their own. (from Postcolonial postmortems – crime fiction from a transcultural perspective By Christine Matzke, Susanne Muehleisen, page 88).

How very true!

Ms.Christine and Susanne, you have hit the nail right in the centre of head! Your aim is truer than you imagine. Whatta shot! Though I dont know if you have hit the nail deep enough – deep into the heart of the darkness, which gave rise to these genres of Western ‘literature’.

The Indian churail (or pisach or djinni) faces similar problems as the Scandinavian myling or the Er Gui of China: they don’t translate well outside of their culture.

India may have had local incidents, where an oppressive zamindar may have created a market for horror stories and monsters – but without genocide, slavery and massacres to fall back on, popular imagination simply does not have the fodder to create ghouls and monsters.

And that is reason for Indian churails being rare – not lack of literary ability in Indians.

Military success

Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.

His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.

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Roma Gypsy murder raises ethnic tension higher – BBC NEWS | World | Europe |

April 30, 2009 5 comments

A Gypsy Slave Village

“The net is tightening around the perpetrators,” says Hungarian Police Chief Jozsef Bencze. “But our main enemy now, is time.”

The short time which passes, that is, before the next lethal attack against a Roma (Gypsy) settlement.

The Hungarian police are now investigating 18 such attacks in the past 18 months, some carried out with both firebombs, and firearms. (via BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Murder raises ethnic tension higher).

A few months ago, President Sarkozy was preaching to PM Manmohan Singh of India, about managing minorities. Can you, Shri Sarkozy, look at your own backyard.

A few months ago, the Italian police started a campaign of racial profiling and persecution of the Roma – based on an isolated murder of an Italian.

This disproportionate response against a community, to a crime (I am making an assumption of guilt) by a Roma individual, smacks of persecution, racism and pogroms. After all, this is how Hitler and Mussolini too started their campaigns.

Cuba in a Time Warp – The Atlantic

April 23, 2009 6 comments

“The greatest achievements of Communism are health care, sports, and education. The greatest failures of Communism are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” (via Cuba in a Time Warp – The Atlantic Food Channel).

Poverty in Cuba

The biggest reason for Cuban economic stagnation is the 100 year proxy war that the US has been waging against the former slave colony – which it ‘bought’ from Spain. Cuba’s problems started a 150 years before Fidel Castro.

Tales from the Caribbean

Almost unknown today are the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. These were slave islands – and part of the Caribbean group of islands which were used by the British Navy to run their slave colonies. These were ‘salt colonies’ – not as well known as the ‘sugar colonies’ of Haiti, Cuba, Demerra, Trinidad and other West Indian Islands.

After the original Native ‘Red Indian’ tribes were annihilated in forced labour camps, mines and slavery, these Caribbean islands were peopled by millions of slaves that were imported and subsequently died.

Apart from the momentous slave revolts of Haiti and Cuba, about 200 slave uprising and revolts in the USA before the Civil War, cleared the way for end to slavery in the the Americas. Similarly, more than 20 slave uprisings in the Caribbean, made slavery impractical – and not the Anglo-Saxon concern for human rights or the oozing milk of human kindness. It was this determined Black struggle for overthrow of slavery, the more than 20 slave rebellions between 1789-1833, in the Caribbean – one every 2 years, that ‘persuaded’ the West to abolish slavery.

Afraid that US slaves will follow the Haiti example, US did not recognise Haiti, till November 1864 – 60 years after Haiti declared Independence. Moreover, in 1826, at the Congress of American States, under US pressure, Simon Bolivar did not invite Haiti.

The British search and seizure of colonies enriched them – at the cost of the native populations. A significant benefit of the English language to the Anglo Saxon Bloc is the convenient white wash of history in English language media – and tarring of competitive economies and nations.

For roughly 250 years, the Iberian Empires were the most powerful. The slave rebellion of Haiti triggered a collapse of the Spanish colonies in South America. Simon Bolivar, aided by the Haiti’s rulers, initiated decolonization movements across South America – leading to the demise of Spanish Colonialism. The last nail in the Spanish colonial possessions was Cuba – which they lost after the Spanish American War. After the loss of Cuba, Philippines and the American colonies, and the end of slavery, the Iberians imploded much like other slave societies.

A little over a century ago,

125 years after Independence, USA by 1890 was developing colonial ambitions and had acquired a taste of colonialism. On the other side of the Atlantic, earlier the Berlin Conference, sparked of the scramble for Africa. After the Brussels and Berlin conference carved up Africa, there were few places left for America to colonise.

America, then created the ‘Monroe doctrine’ – supposedly an anti-colonial doctrine, a policy to create colonies in the American backyard. ‘Yellow Journalism’ was invented to whip up public sentiment. On April 25th 1898, the US Congress declared war on Spain. For the next 4 months, the US fought The Spanish-American War. On August 12th, 1898, Spain signed the peace treaty. On December 10th 1898, the treaty of Paris was signed.

As a part of the Paris Treaty between Spain and USA, the USA ‘bought’ Philippines from Spain, maintains Puerto Rico as a colony also Guam – and paid Spain US$2,00,00,000. Cubans were nominally declared free but with many conditions. The Cubans refused to honour this ‘purchase’ – for which the USA has waged a war against Cuba for the last 100 years. Of course, the ‘inferior’ populations of these countries – Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico were unfit for inclusion in the Paris negotiations about their future.

In 1915, again the Monroe doctrine was invoked to invade Haiti.And these interventions have continued. Haiti has been invaded many times. In the 1960s-70s, Chedi Jagan and his struggle to break from US domination (in the Caribbean) was sabotaged.

Having paid US$2,00,00,000 of the ‘US taxpayer money’, the US believes that they ‘own’ Cuba – and even today, continues to eye Cuba. It was such thinking that led to the ’sale’ of Cuba, Philippines and Puerto Rico by Spain to the USA. After the purchase, came a century of pain in Cuba, many hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Philippines and the forcible accession of Puerto Rico into the US. Of course, some of these islands have become colonies, of the USA, Britain and the people there continue to serve the interests of these Western nations.

Countries which wished to follow their independent future, like Haiti, Cuba, Granada have been made an example of by Britain and USA. For trying to make a country of themselves. A lot of such places would be quite happy without the Western attention they received – and subsequent ruin that they faced.

US antagonism …

The hostility of the US has its roots in this struggle – when US refused to recognize Haiti for a 60 years after the overthrow of the colonial French Government, which used the Haitians as slaves. US ‘bought’ Cuba from Spain – and hence this hostility. The US feels that they ‘own’ Cuba – and, of course, other and large parts of the world.

After Haiti independence, restrictions on slavery were discussed all over Europe and USA. The US placed restriction on import of slaves – which increased the price of existing slaves in the trade market. But slave traders like Jean Laffitte soon ran rings round this by smuggling slaves from Cuba.

For more than two centuries now, the US has been actively working with an agenda of ‘racial superiority’ which has resulted in slavery and then repeated interventions and manipulation in South America. They have used force and power to derail economies and politics of emerging countries. The example of Haiti’s failure and Cuba’s desperate struggle to survive drove Fidel Castro into the arms of Soviet Russia.

The US record against the growth and stabilisation of Cuba does not bear repitition. Having ‘bought’ Cuba from Spain (like Puerto Rico, Guam and Philippines), USA believes and feels that they ‘own’ Cuba.

In 1904, the US pressured Tomas Estrada Palma, a ‘puppet’ Cuban President, to sign the Platt Amendment. This allowed US intervention in Cuban affairs, if ‘vital’ US  interests were at risk (meaning at at US will) – finally modified only in 1934. Under this ‘new deal’ ‘Cuba would be allowed to export 22% of the sugar the US imported, by paying 0.09¢, a pound tariff duty. In return, little or no duty would be levied by Cuba on goods imported from the USA.’

When the freed slaves of Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, tried to overthrow American-foisted dictator Batista, the US used the American Mafia, to attempt assassination of Fidel Castro.

Elephants in the room …

Western media and academia today glosses over Western record of slavery and colonialism. This ‘collective amnesia’ about the past is widespread and blatant. Other writers forget about the causes leading to abolition of slavery. Seminal events in Haiti, Cuba, Caribbean are ignored, white-washed or brushed under the carpet.

The USA and the West has been at war (or by proxy) with the Black Republics of Haiti, Cuba, Greneda for the last 200 years. Fuelled by a desperate desire to show White superiority. By a need to white wash history. To hide the origins of their misbegotten wealth – built on the foundation of the skeletons of dead and surviving slaves.

Haiti gave the world freedom. Not America – which claims itself to be a land of the free (as long as you are white).

Media ‘White-wash’

A recent article in the British Guardian is a case in point. Richard Gott (the writer of this post) claims that he is a history student … which makes this post very remarkable. In the entire post of 1150 words, he mentions the word slave only once – while the entire history of Cuba for the last 200 years has been about slavery.

He is surprised by the number of Blacks in Cuba – which was the largest slave colony in the Spanish Empire – after the fall of Haiti. The Cuban revolution began in Haiti more than 200 years ago – and Fidel Castro has but been one, in a long line of revolutionaries who tried to break free from their enslaved past. For a history student, can this be ignorance or a more likely attempt at ‘whitewash’ …?

Exactly why is the presence of so ‘Blacks’ so surprising, Mr.Gott …?

Why is Richard Gott so surprised …

It is the ‘white wash’ of history – and the ‘tarring’ of protagonists which is a matter of concern. Haiti’s (and also Cuba’s) crime – they refused to accept the racial agenda of the US. They (including a ‘White’ like Fidel Castro) wanted to build a ‘free society’ for people – without colour being a factor. Perhaps all Whites are not like Richard Gott.

And that is, perhaps, why Richard Gott is so surprised.

Cuba according to Gott

Fidel Castro (L) with Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in the 1960s

Fidel Castro (L) with Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in the 1960s

The Cuban revolution began 50 years ago … with its charismatic and bearded leadership descending from the hills, young men in their 20s brandishing guns and seizing the cities, and calling for land reform …

Castro began his epic quarrel with the United States – through the US abolition of the sugar quota, the arrival of Soviet oil, the CIA invasion at the Bay of Pigs, and the missile crisis of 1962 … Faced with the implacable hostility of the United States, Fidel decided that he had no alternative except to ally himself with the Soviet Union.

What struck me most was to find an island full of black people. The revolutionary leadership could hardly have been more white … Fidel’s enlistment of the black population was his astutest move, being echoed in the United States (where he stayed in Harlem on a visit to the United Nations) … The only political movement in Cuba that had enrolled black people … was the Communist party, and Fidel (long before his move towards the Soviet Union) had turned to the local communists for help in reaching out to the urban population, both poor and black. The white racist element in the Cuban population had tolerated a black president such as Fulgencio Batista, who had kept the black population under control; they were alarmed by a white man like Fidel who appeared to be mobilising the black people against them. (via Richard Gott: It’s time to let Cuba in from the cold, and Obama is the perfect man to do it | Comment is free | The Guardianellipsis mine).

The Future Of Oil Is The Caribbean

Bretton Woods-II, based on oil-dollar anchor, worked for another 35 years (1973-2008) till now. Oil exploration is a 5-10 year investment. Oil should be made another commodity. An easy option is to create a Republic of Pacific Islands – Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, and other West Indies. These islands can become vast oil production centres – that will help them raise their economies and can feed Asia with oil, peacefully.

Reeling under the curse of history, Western intervention and poverty, the Caribbean islands have been dealt a bad hand. Third World countries are paying through their nose to the OPEC cartel and for a dollar hegemony. Cuba, Haiti and the various Caribbean islands have been hit by poverty and Western intervention.

Oil can break this vicious cycle. Oil exploration in the Caribbean has been negligible. These are promising exploration blocks. A joint venture between ONGC (India), Petrobras, and the various islands could kick-start oil exploration and production – which will change the future of the world.

For one, it would immediately reduce Saudi funding of terror.

What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate.

Brazil takes the first step

On October 14, 2008, 2ndlook had proposed a BRICS-Caribbean accord for oil exploration in the Caribbean. Brazil has also taken the first step. ONGC was already in the game. As is Russia. With India, Brazil and Russia working on Cuban oil exploration, it is a promising first step to a prosperous Caribbean.

“I don’t understand why it took so long to sign this agreement,” said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who presided over a signing ceremony for the deal with Cuban President Raul Castro. That makes two of us, Mr.President!

Next stop, Haiti?

Europe wants to stay relevant

Europe which has a major say in the IMF and World Bank, after the USA, obviously wants to increase its role – and decrease US importance. To gets its way, it has gone on a major diplomatic offensive – to the extent of restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba.

Is that a sign of times to come?

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