The Battle of Valentine’s Day

26 02 2008


What is it about Valentine’s Day that gets so many people so riled?

The past decade and more has seen the growing popularity of Valentine’s Day in South Asian countries as a festival of romance, specially for the urban youth. And it has also attracted significant opposition, often violent, from religious groups and conservative opinion which have attacked it for destroying our religion(s) and culture with its Christian, Western and commercial character. Read the rest of this entry »

“Hasta la Victoria Siempre! Compañero Fidel”

19 02 2008


This line, which was supposedly spoken by Ernesto Che Guevara before his departure for Africa to fight with the anti-colonial revolutionaries there, is a fitting slogan to bid adieu to one of the greatest revolutionaries and Marxists of our times. This line would roughly translate as “Until [we achieve] victory forever! Comrade Fidel”. Yesterday, Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, announced his decision to step down from the top post bringing to an end an entire era which he straddled like a colossus.

Clichés often belittle a person’s contribution but it would not be incorrect to state that Fidel Castro is among those few world historical individuals whose contribution to human history will resonate long after the writer and the readers of these words have turned to dust. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Socialism Survive Human Nature?

5 02 2008


The single greatest image which captured the end of the Socialist State system of the 20th century was the sight of hundreds of thousands of Germans breaking down the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall had been built in 1961 to stop residents of Communist East Berlin crossing over to capitalist West Berlin. Despite the barbed wire, watch-towers, attack-dogs and gun-totting sentries a few thousand people “escaped” from East Berlin to the West over the three decades of this Wall’s existance, each successful escape producing a hero and each killing on the Wall producing a “martyr”. The Berlin Wall became a metaphor for imprisoning an entire population and it was a distressing fact that this was being done by a State which claimed to champion the ideals of Karl Marx.

This column has earlier spoken about the endemic lack of freedom in the socialist States of the 20th Century (4, April, 2007). In a sense, they had made a Faustian bargain with what Marx had called “the characterless monster of unfreedom” in their attempt to protect their revolution. It has not only been the socialist revolutions which ended up denying freedom to their people, but this has been the unhappy chronicle of almost all modern liberatory revolutions. As this column has recounted over the past three weeks, similar was the case with the revolution of Haiti too, which in 1804 achieved freedom from slavery and colonialism, but is today wracked by poverty, imperialist plunder and oppressive rulers. Read the rest of this entry »