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Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

কিউবা প্রসঙ্গে র‍্যাডিক্যাল সোশ্যালিস্টের বিবৃতি

 

সাম্রাজ্যবাদের বিরোধিতা করুন, জনগণের গণতান্ত্রিক অধিকারের পক্ষে দাঁড়ান, যে সব রাষ্ট্রীয় নীতি সংকট বাড়ায় সেগুলি সম্পর্কে প্রশ্ন করুন

 

১৯৯২ সাল থেকে, কিউবা প্রতি বছর রাষ্ট্রসংঘের সামনে মার্কিন আরোধ শেষ করার দাবী এনেছে, এবং প্রতিবছর আন্তর্জাতিক সম্প্রদায়ের ব্যাপক সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠ অংশ সেটা সমর্থনও করেছে। সবসময়ে নীরব থেকেছে মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্র আর তার ঘনিষ্ঠতম সহচর ইজরায়েল। এই আবেদন কোনো বাধ্যবাধকতা আরোপ করে না। মাসখানে আগেই এবছরও এটা আনা হয়েছিল, এবং ১৮৪ ভোট পক্ষে পড়েছিল, ২টি বিপক্ষে (মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ও ইজরায়েল) আর তিনটি দেশ ভোটদানে বিরত থাকে (কলম্বিয়া, ইউক্রেন আর সংযুক্ত আরব আমীরশাহী)।

বছরের পর বছর মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্র কিউবাতে ‘গণতন্ত্র’ ও ‘স্বাধীনতা’ র জন্য লড়াই করার অজুহাত দিয়ে চলেছে, অথচ তারা এমন এক অবরোধ চালিয়ে গেছে, যা তারা যে মানুষগুলোকে নাকি মুক্ত করার কথা তুলে থাকে তাদেরই অভুক্ত রেখে দিচ্ছে। এই দাবীটা গত এক সপ্তাহে মার্কিন কংগ্রেসের দুপক্ষের রাজনীতিবিদরাই আবার করে তুলেছে। ১১ জুলাই এক প্রেস কনফারেন্স ডেকে মায়ামির মেয়র ফ্রান্সিস সুয়ারেজ আহ্বান করেছে, মার্কিন নেতৃত্বে কিউবাতে এক আন্তর্জাতিক হস্তক্ষেপ হোক।

ভারতীয় বামপন্থীদের বৃহদাংশের কাছে তথাকথিত সমাজতান্ত্রিক রাষ্ট্রদের বিরুদ্ধে যে কোনো সময়ে, যে কোনো প্রতিবাদই অন্যায্য এবং সাম্রাজ্যবাদের তৈরী। এটা স্তালিনবাদের মৌলিক ধারণা থেকেই আসে। কিউবার ক্ষেত্রে, ভারতীয় স্তালিনবাদীরা সমগ্র দায় রেখেছে সাম্রাজ্যবাদের উপরে, যে কাজে তারা কিউবার কমিউনিস্ট পার্টিকেই অনুসরণ করছে।

নিঃসন্দেহে দীর্ঘমেয়াদী দায়ের সিংহভাগ মার্কিন সাম্রাজ্যবাদের উপরেই পড়বে। কিউবারে এবারের প্রতিবাদ ঘটেছে বিগত ত্রিশ বছরের সবচেয়ে খারাপ অর্থনৈতিক মন্দার মধ্যে। গত কয়েক মাস ধরে ভিডিও ঘুরেছে সোশ্যাল মিডিয়াতে,যেখানে দেখা গেছে মানুষ নিত্যপ্রয়োজনীয় দ্রব্যের ঘাটতির ফলে ক্ষোভ প্রকাশ করছে,খাদ্যের জন্য লম্বা লম্বা লাইন পড়েছে, এবং অতিমারীকে সরকার যেভাবে মোকাবিলা করতে চাইছে তার প্রতি অসন্তোষ আছে। অতিমারির বিশ্বে অবরোধের প্রভাবে বিপর্যয়কর পরিস্থিতি তৈরি হয়েছে। সাম্প্রতিকতম প্রতিবেদন থেকে জানা যায় যে  ২০১৯-এর মার্চ থেকে ২০২০-র মার্চে মার্কিন অর্থনৈতিক অবরোধ কিউবার অর্থনীতির ৫.৫৭ বিলিয়ন ডলার ক্ষতি করেছে। অতিমারী যত পৃথিবী জুড়ে ছড়িয়ে পড়ে, অর্থনৈতিক নিষেধাজ্ঞার ফল তত মারাত্মক হতে বাধ্য।। এই কথা বিশেষ করে বলতে হবে, কারণ দেশের প্রধান শিল্প হল পর্যটন, এবং সেই ক্ষেত্রটি ভীষণভাবে আঘাত পেয়েছে। দেশের মোট আভ্যন্তরীণ উৎপাদন কমেছিল ১১ শতাংশ। ব্যবসা এবং রেস্তোঁরাগুলি বন্ধ, ফলে বহু কিউবান এখন কাজ পাচ্ছেন না। সেপ্টেম্বরের মধ্যে টিকাকরণ দেশের সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের মধ্যে ছড়িয়ে পড়বে, কিউবার এই পরিকল্পনা ধাক্কা খেয়েছে কারণ ইঞ্জেকশনের ছুঁচ পর্যন্ত নিষেধাজ্ঞার ফলে যথেষ্ট পরিমাণে  উৎপন্ন হয় নি।  

কিন্তু এখানে থেমে যাওয়ার অর্থ হবে, কিউবার কমিউনিস্ট পার্টি যা করেছে তার সবকিছুই নিঃশর্তে মেনে নেওয়া। কিউবার বিপ্লবের প্রতি সমর্থনের মানে এই না, যে বর্তমান (বা পূর্বতন) নেতৃত্বের ভূমিকা সম্পর্কে নীরব থাকা। কোনো আমলাতান্ত্রিক রাষ্ট্রযন্ত্র, যা কেবল জনগণকে ‘সংগঠিত’ করতে চায়, কিন্তু প্রতিবাদী কন্ঠদের রোধ করে, তার পক্ষে সাম্রাজ্যবাদের চাপ সহ্য করা সম্ভব নয়। ভূতপূর্ব রাষ্ট্রপতি রাউল কাস্ত্রো সরকার যে উদারীকরণ প্রক্রিয়া আরম্ভ করেছিল, সেটা এখন দিয়াজ-ক্যানেল সরকারের তত্ত্বাবধানে দ্রুতগতিতে এগোচ্ছে। মুদ্রাস্ফীতি, এবং সরকারের ভাষায় ‘অপ্রয়োজনীয় ভর্তুকি ও বিনামূল্যে পরিষেবা’ কেটে বাদ দেওয়ায় জনগণের উপর এক কঠোর ব্যয়সংকোচ নীতি চেপে বসেছে। এটা শুরু হয়েছে ১ জানুয়ারি থেকে ডলারের সঙ্গে বিনিময়যোগ্য পেসো বন্ধ করে দেওয়া এবং পেসোর দাম ২৪ পেসোতে ১ ডলার করে বেঁধে দেওয়া থেকে, যার ফলে মুদ্রার ২৪০০ শতাংশ অবমূল্যায়ন হয়েছে। অন্যদিকে, বিদেশী বিনিয়োগকারীদের আকৃষ্ট করতে এবং ব্যক্তিগত ক্ষেত্রকে (অর্থাৎ কয়েক ডজনের বেশি না, এমন অল্প মানুষকে নিয়োগ করে যে ছোটো ও মাঝারি ব্যবসায়ীরা, তাদের ) সতেজ করে তুলতে একগুচ্ছ পদক্ষেপ নেওয়া হয়েছে। এই সব পদক্ষেপের উদ্দেশ্য ৫০০টির বেশি প্রকল্প যা প্রধানত ভ্রমণশিল্প ও খনিজ তেলের ক্ষেত্রে “সুবিধার পোর্টফোলিও” আনার আশা প্রকাশ করেছে, যাতে নাকি ১২ বিলিয়ন ডলার আনবে। কিন্তু সবচেয়ে বড় ঘোষণা হল যে ভ্রমণ, বায়োটেকনোলজি এবং পাইকারী ব্যবসাতে রাষ্ট্রের সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠ অংশগ্রহণ বাধ্যতামূলক থাকবে, এই ব্যবস্থার অবসান। 

যে প্রতিবাদগুলি দেখা দিয়েছে তা ভালমন্দ মেশানো এবং এখন অবধি বেশ সীমিত। কিন্তু সরকার তাদের উপর ঝাঁপিয়ে পড়ল, ঘোষণা করল সবটাই সাম্রাজ্যবাদের মদতপুষ্ট। প্রেস কনফারেন্সে দিয়াজ-ক্যানেল মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রকে নিন্দা করলেন, সমস্ত প্রতিবাদীকে প্রতিবিপ্লবী বলে চিত্রায়িত করলেন এবং ‘বিপ্লবীদের’ আহ্বান করলেন রাস্তায় নেমে ‘বিপ্লবকে রক্ষা করতে’। অবশ্যই আমরা দক্ষিণপন্থীদের, চার্চকে এবং ‘পাত্রিয়া ই ভিদা’ আন্দোলনকে প্রত্যাখ্যান করি। এরা কিউবার পরিস্থিতির ফলে যে ক্ষোভ দানা বেধেছে, সেটাকে পুঁজি করে কিউবার বিপ্লবের অর্জিত অধিকারগুলি মুছে ফেলতে চায় এবং ধনতন্ত্র ফিরিয়ে আনতে চায়। কিন্তু এটাই পুরো গল্পটা নয়। প্রতিবাদগুলি শুরু হয়েছিল শান্তিপূর্ণভাবে, কিন্তু প্রায় প্রতিটি প্রতিবাদ-বিক্ষোভই শেষ অবধি হিংসাত্মক ঘটনা দেখেছিল। আর সেই কাজটা কিন্তু দুপক্ষই করেছিল। আর,একই সময়ে একের পর এক শহরে সরকার বিরোধী বিক্ষোভ দেখা দিয়েছিল, এটা সমাজতন্ত্রী কিউবাতে অভূতপূর্ব। ঘটনাগুলি বোঝার সময়ে এই কথাটাও মনে রাখতে হবে।

 ১১ জুলাই কিউবাতে কী ঘটেছিল, তার তিনরকম ব্যাখ্যা করা হয়েছে। সরকার দাবী করেছে, এটা ছিল প্রতিবিপ্লবীদের সঙ্গে কমিউনিস্টদের সংঘাত। বুর্জোয়া প্রচারমাধ্যম পৃথিবীজুড়ে বলছে এটা ছিল স্বৈরাচারের বিরুদ্ধে নিপীড়িতের বিদ্রোহ। আবার কেউ কেউ বলেছেন, এটা ছিল অবক্ষয়ী আমলাতন্ত্রের বিরুদ্ধে বিপ্লবী শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর উত্থান। বাস্তবে ১১ জুলাইয়ে এই তিনটি বাখ্যারই কিছু কিছু উপাদান দেখা যায়। মার্কিন অর্থপুষ্ট প্রতিবিপ্লবী সংগঠনরা কমিউনিস্ট পার্টিকে আক্রমণ করেছিল। কিছু বুদ্ধিজীবী গোষ্ঠী, যাঁরা মনে করেছেন তাঁদের নাগরিক অধিকার ভীষণভাবে সংকুচিত, তাঁরা সেন্সরশীপের সামনে পড়ছেন, তারাও প্রতিবাদ করেছেন। আর শ্রমিক শ্রেণীর সদস্যরা দাবী করেছেন, সরকার তাঁদের জীবন যাপনের অবস্থা ফেরাক। কিন্তু যদিও প্রতিবাদীদের ব্যাপক সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠ ওই তৃতীয় পর্যায়ে পড়েন তবু এঁদের কোনোভাবে এক সচেতন সমাজতন্ত্রী জনতা হিসেবে দেখা যাবে না, যারা  এক স্থবির আমলাতন্ত্রের বিরুদ্ধে আরো সমাজতান্ত্রিক দিকে যেতে চাইছেন।  

প্রতিবাদের মূল বৈশিষ্ট্যসমূহ

·        অধিকাংশ প্রতিবাদীই কোনো প্রতিবিপ্লবী সংগঠনের সঙ্গে যুক্ত না। প্রতিবাদগুলি প্রতিবিপ্লবীদের নেতৃত্বে ঘটেও নি।

·        প্রতিবাদীদের মধ্যে ব্যাপক সংখ্যক যে তরুণ ছিলেন, সেটা দেখায়, সরকারের ন্যায্যতা মানুষের চোখে কমছে।

·        প্রতিবাদগুলি প্রাথমিকভাবে দানা বেধেছিল শ্রমিক মহল্লাতে, যেখানে সামাজিক সমস্যা সবচেয়ে বেশী। আজকের কিউবার সমাজে সামাজিক অসাম্য একটি ক্রমবর্ধমান সমস্যা। দারিদ্র, সামাজিক অবহেলা, সামাজিক নীতিদের অনিশ্চয়তা, রাষ্ট্রীয় উদ্যোগে খাদ্য ও অন্য নিত্যপ্রয়োজনীয় দ্রব্যের সরবরাহের সীমাবদ্ধতা এবং নিম্নমানের সাংস্কৃতিক নীতি এই সব প্রান্তিক ও নিম্ন-আয় মহল্লাগুলির জীবনের বৈশিষ্ট্য।

·        প্রতিবাদ কোথাও সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের সমর্থন পায় নি। কিউবার জনগনের বড় অংশ এখনো সরকারকেই সমর্থন করেন।

·        প্রতিবাদগুলিতে প্রায় কোনো সমাজতন্ত্রী স্লোগান ছিল না।

·        অল্পসংখ্যক বুদ্ধিজীবী প্রতিবাদগুলির সঙ্গে যুক্ত ছিলেন কিন্তু অবাধ মতপ্রকাশের দাবী, সেন্সরশীপ ছাড়া অবাধে শিল্প সৃজনের দাবী সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের মধ্যে সাড়া জাগায় নি কারণ তারা চাইছিলেন জীবনজীবিকার মৌলিক উন্নতি।

·        হাভানার শান্তিপূর্ণ মিছিলের বিকৃতি ঘটিয়ে লুঠ ও ভাঙ্গচুরের জন্য দায়ী লুম্পেনরা

 

মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্র থেকে সোশ্যাল মিডিয়া মারফত আসা প্রতিবিপ্লবী প্রচার অবশ্যই একটা ভূমিকা পালন করেছিল, কিন্তু এইগুলি প্রতিবাদের জন্ম দেয় নি।    

 

সামনে এগোনোর পথঃ

বিপ্লবকে রক্ষা করা আর রাষ্ট্রে গভীরভাবে গেঁথে থাকা কমিউনিস্ট পার্টির আমলাতন্ত্রকে রক্ষা করা সমার্থক নয়পুঁজিবাদীদের উচ্ছেদ করার দিকে শ্রমিক শ্রেণী যে অগ্রগতি ঘটিয়েছেন তাকে রক্ষা করা। সাম্রাজ্যবাদ বিপ্লবদের উল্টে দিতে পারে। কিন্তু একদলীয় পার্টি-রাষ্ট্রের আমলাতন্ত্ররাও বিপ্লবদের প্রতি অন্তর্ঘাত করতে পারে যার ফলে ধনতন্ত্র পুনঃপ্রতিষ্ঠা হতে পারে।   

যারা কিউবার বিপ্লবের অর্জিত জয়গুলি রক্ষা করতে ও তাদের এগিয়ে নিয়ে যেতে লড়াই করছেন, আমরা তাঁদের স্বাধীনভাবে মিছিল করার, ইউনিয়ন গঠন করার অধিকারের পক্ষে ।

যে কোনো রাজনৈতিক বন্দী তিনি যদি  অন্য কোনো মানুষের জীবন বিপন্ন না করে থাকেন, তবে তাঁদের প্রত্যেকের অবিলম্বে মুক্তি দাবী করি।

সামনে এগোনোর একমাত্র পথ হল গণপ্রতিরোধে অংশ নেওয়া, তার মধ্যে স্বাধীন সমাজতন্ত্রী কর্মসূচীর পক্ষে মত রাখা, মার্কিন সাম্রাজ্যবাদ এবং প্রতিক্রিয়াশীলদের সরকার উচ্ছেদের প্রয়াসের বিরোধিতা করার সঙ্গে সঙ্গে জনগণের প্রত্যক্ষ গণতন্ত্রের প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক রূপ কায়েম করার জন্য লড়াই করা এবং উপর থেকে আমলাতান্ত্রিক শাসনের প্রবক্তা হতে অস্বীকার করা।

১৯ জুলাই ২০২১

Does solidarity with Palestine equal ‘anti-Semitism?’

By COOPER BARD

Let’s not confuse the issue. What is happening in Palestine is not a conflict that exists between “Islam and the West” or between “Judaism and Islam.” It is a conflict between oppressor and oppressed—a conflict between a settler-colonial state engaging in ethnic cleansing, and the people whose land they are stealing. When the Israeli Defense Force deliberately targets hospitals and civilian homes, and the Israeli government actively encourages Jewish settlement on lands recently stolen from Palestinians who are told to demolish their own homes, this couldn’t be more clear. For over 70 years, Palestinians have been fighting for their freedom.

Unfortunately, Zionists and their allies (including real anti-Semites) will deliberately foster the notion that the free Palestine movement is anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish)—for different purposes, of course. Movement activists need to discredit the lie that Israel defends Jews, and therefore that countering Israeli policy is inherently anti-Semitic. Dismantling this falsehood is important for achieving Palestinian liberation; at the same time, it necessitates combating anti-Semitism whenever it flares up around the world.

Anti-Semitism must not be tolerated

Agitators have and will come to Palestine solidarity rallies and meetings with the intention of exploiting justified anger against mass murder and turning it into “anti-Semitism.” They try to catch the movement off guard, occasionally taking poorly conceived statements out of context and then publishing the “evidence” far and wide. Sometimes they go much further in their actions, such as accusing Palestine supporters of seeking a second Holocaust.

The “anti-Semitism” label was recently employed against the Palestine solidarity movement by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who reintroduced legislation that would effectively allow state and local governments to implement laws targeting firms that boycott Israel. “The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is the single most destructive campaign of economic warfare facing the Jewish state of Israel today,” said Rubio. “Amid a rising tide of anti-Semitism, it’s critical that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our closest democratic ally in the Middle East.”

Of course, real anti-Semitism must be crushed wherever it rears its ugly head. Anti-Semitism is designed, like all forms of racism and prejudice, to divide the working class. The longer that Jewish workers are fooled into thinking Palestinians are their enemies, and the longer that some Palestinians put blame on Jews in general, makes it longer until they realize that their common enemy is capitalism. This works to the benefit of the Israeli capitalists and their sponsors in the United States and other imperialist countries.

This is the same dynamic that white supremacy plays in the United States, and it is thus no surprise that Trump rallies fly the flag of Israel, while Black Lives Matter rallies have often embraced the cause of the Palestinians. Many U.S. police and border patrol agents receive training from Israeli security experts or receive training directly in Israel. The same methods of police terrorism are applied globally, and therefore it is easy for both BLM activists and Palestinians to see that their oppression takes similar forms. The racists and anti-racists alike are well aware of their allies and enemies.

Israel will not protect Jews from oppression

One of the reasons used to defend the existence of Israel (by arch-Zionists as well as by supporters of a “two-state solution”) is that Jewish people, being persecuted globally, need a homeland of their own, an ethnic Jewish state for their own protection. Never mind that to secure this Promised Land requires theft from the Palestinian people, with their persecution and murder.

For one to believe that Jewish people require a hermetically sealed special box for their protection is to cede to global racism a massive victory. But shouldn’t oppressed peoples have the right of self-determination? Yes, absolutely, but this doesn’t justify Israel. As the 1971 Socialist Workers Party resolution on Israel and the Middle East explained:

“The situation of the Israeli Jews is essentially different from that of Jews in other parts of the world. The struggle against anti-Semitism and the oppression of Jews in other countries is a progressive struggle directed against their oppressors. In some circumstances the demand for self-determination for oppressed Jews, directed against the oppressor nation, could become appropriate. Thus the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky recognized the right of the Jews in Russia to set up a state on their own territory, if they wished. However, the oppression of Jews in other countries does not justify the creation and maintenance of the existing Israeli state at the expense of the Palestinians, who were not and are not responsible for the oppression of the Jews. There, the situation is the reverse. The Israeli Jews form an oppressor nationality of a settler-colonial character vis-a-vis the Arab peoples. The Israeli state is the means by which this oppression is maintained.” [1]

Israel does nothing to halt the oppression of Jews worldwide. If anything it intensifies it, by allowing an opening for the anti-Semites to declare that “the Jews,” as a group, are oppressing people. As Israel privileges Jews more and more at the expense of the civil rights and autonomy of other peoples, this racism only feeds more racism.

Moreover, Zionism implicitly relies on the existence of anti-Semitism to justify itself. As long as Jews in Israel perceive that they are surrounded by enemies, and that they are powerless to make common cause with oppressed people in the Middle East, the suggestion is reinforced that the only solution is to continue the settler-colonial project. This idea encourages a xenophobic fortress mentality on the part of Jewish citizens of Israel, who feel obliged to defend themselves from a hostile world that intends to destroy them as a people.

However, the target of the Palestinian movement is not Jewish people but the state of Israel. Some well-meaning people may believe that the only viable means to do so is to hoist the Jews off the land once stolen. But this is not a goal expressed by most forces of the free Palestine movement and its supporters worldwide.

Zionism leads Jews away from the class struggle

In the history of labor struggles and social movements, particularly before World War II, Jewish people were at the forefront, and made up a large portion of socialist forces. This was true in both the United States and Europe. It is no surprise that with the emergence of fascism in Germany and other countries, Jews became a specific target of persecution.

Fascism, as a dictatorship of capitalists guaranteed by gangsterism*, has as a high priority the annihilation of socialist forces. In the 1918 revolution, before the rise of Hitler, the German proletariat came very close to overturning capitalism, and they had chances again in 1923 and 1933. The association of “Jews” with “Bolshevism” became a ringing point of fascist propaganda. Jews were, of course, not the only victims of the Holocaust, and the slaughter of a number of class fighters and a majority of Jews helped German capitalists eliminate any memory of the proletarian class struggle in Germany.

After this abomination, Zionism came to the forefront, supported by U.S. and British capitalists. They supplied money, arms, and willing settlers to the burgeoning colonial state of Israel. They did not, of course, do this out of the kindness of their hearts or out of any sense of guilt for persecution happening in their own countries. The existence of Israel provided a beachhead, and a very valuable one, for securing U.S. and British interests in the Middle East. They continue to provide arms (including material for nuclear weapons) and other aid to Israel for this purpose and no other. It is a great evil of history that one mass killing is used to justify another.

Zionism leads Jewish working-class people into a racist trap, one which, as mentioned, helps perpetuate capitalism and colonialism by pitting them against Palestinians, as well as the whole Arab world. In reality, Jewish working people have their real allies in the greater working class of the Middle East and Palestine. It is by mobilizing this class in the name of its own interests against the rich of the Middle East that Israeli Jews can secure their own protection. Arab workers of the Middle East must also recognize where this trap is being set for them, and struggle as a class.

Two state solution?

In the struggle to end the oppression of Palestinians by settler colonialism, what solution will work? What state of affairs will guarantee, in reality and not mere words, the equality of rights in Palestine between Jews, Muslims, Christians and everyone else? It should be clear that the settler-colonial state itself, Israel, is incapable of providing the needed framework. It is built, as is the United States, on a foundation of land theft and genocide.

Biden and other imperialist politicians call for a “two-state solution,” a formula that is accepted by the Palestinian Authority. That would require maintaining the state mainly for Jews (Israel) while allowing a smaller one for Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza). Since Israel has not found success in putting an end to rebellions against its domination over historical Palestine, the two-state scheme is the next best acceptable option for the U.S. ruling class. Steering the Palestinians toward such a “solution” would strengthen the influence of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and provide hope that more radical forces could be contained.

It should be obvious, however, that there no way that Palestinians could build a tenable “state” while their territory is subdivided into tiny unconnected parcels that are interspersed with hostile settler communities, and subject to constant Israeli regulation. [2] Moreover, it would be ridiculous to assume that Palestinians can liberate themselves from racist tyranny while Israel remains a military outpost for the expansionist needs of U.S. imperialism. Any movement by Palestinians against neo-colonial domination would be met by the force of Israeli arms. These reasons help explain why the “two-state solution” is increasingly unpopular among radicalizing youth, both in Palestine and in the world solidarity movement.

Only a united socialist Middle East can successfully repel imperialist aggression. The establishment of a singular, secular, and democratic Palestine,with the right of return open to all Palestinians, is an unavoidable step along this road. It is in the framework of a democratic secular Palestine that the Free Palestine movement can begin to achieve its goal of equal rights for all ethnicities and religions, including Palestinians and Jews. But full liberation can only come when workers and oppressed people throughout the world take the road of socialist revolution.

And this especially is why anti-Semitism is so valuable to the ruling classes of both Israel and the United States. The suggestion that there is an inherent desire for race war among those in struggle is a tool that they will try to use to hold off workers’ revolution in the Middle East and occupied Palestine—and in this country as well.

* The book “Fascism and Big Business,” by Daniel Guerin, is an exemplary history of the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany, and is recommended reading for anyone seeking an understanding of the causes (and horrors) of 20th century fascism.

Sources:

[1] https://www.marxists.org/history//etol/document/swp-us/24thconvention/zionism.htm — SWP 1971 Resolution on Israel.

[2] https://socialistresurgence.org/2021/05/25/palestine-ceasefire-declared-but-israeli-occupation-continues/ — Erwin Freed discusses the successes and challenges to the Free Palestine movement, including the pointlessness of the “two-state solution.”

 

From the website of Socialist Resurgence

Cuba: Resist Imperialism, Defend the Democratic Rights of People, Question State Policies that Create Hardships

Since 1992, Cuba has brought the demand to end the U.S. embargo every year in front of the UN — a motion that is approved annually with the overwhelming support of the international community with the deafening exception of the U.S. and its closest ally, Israel. The non-binding request was, in fact, introduced again just about a month ago, and was approved with 184 votes in favour, two against (USA and Israel), and three abstentions (Colombia, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates). 

For years, the U.S. has hidden behind the excuse of fighting for “freedom” and “democracy” in Cuba while continuing to implement an embargo that starves the very people it claims to want to “free.” This claim has been repeated in the past week by U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle. In a press conference on 11th July, the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, called for an international intervention into Cuba under US leadership.

For large parts of the Indian left, any protest against the so-called socialist states at any point of time has been seen as illegitimate and imperialist sponsored. This stems from the basic premises of Stalinism. In the case of Cuba, Indian Stalinists have put the entire responsibility on the imperialists, following the Cuban CP itself.

Undoubtedly, US imperialism bears much of the long term responsibility. The protests in Cuba come in the midst of the worst economic recession in 30 years. For months, videos circulated on social media have shown people expressing dissent over the shortage of basic necessities, the long queues for food, and the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic. According to the latest reports, in just the period of March 2019-2020, the embargo has caused an estimated $5.57 billion in damages to the Cuban economy. As the pandemic spread globally, the impact of the sanctions have been more disastrous, especially as the country’s primary industry, tourism, suffered terribly. The country’s gross domestic product fell by 11 percent. With businesses and restaurants still shuttered, many Cubans are now unable to work. Cuba's plan to vaccinate the majority of the population by September has hit a snag, since syringe production is affected due to the sanctions.

To stop here, however, would be to assume that whatever the Cuban Communist Party has done must be accepted uncritically. Support for the Cuban revolution cannot mean silence about the role of the current (or previous ) leadership. The pressures of imperialism cannot be withstood by a bureaucratic state apparatus which only tries to “mobilize” masses while stifling dissent. The process of liberalization that was started by the Raúl Castro regime is now rapidly continuing with the Díaz-Canel government. On the one hand, there is severe austerity for the masses in the form of inflation and cuts in “undue subsidies and free services,” as the government calls them. This came with the withdrawal of the CUC (Convertible currency) from circulation on January 1 and the implementation of a single exchange rate of 24 pesos (CUP) = $1, which resulted in the devaluation of the currency by 2400 percent. On the other hand, there is a new battery of measures to “attract foreign investment” and strengthen the private sector, the small and medium-sized merchants and business people who employ no more than a few dozen people. The aim of these measures is to bring in foreign investment with an ambitious “portfolio of opportunities” with more than 500 projects, mainly in tourism and oil, for $12 billion. But the most important measure was the announcement of the end of the obligation of majority-Cuban state participation in investments in tourism, biotechnology, and wholesale trade.

The protests that occurred have been a mixed bag, and certainly, as yet, relatively small. But the regime came down hard, and declared it wholly sponsored by imperialism. In a press conference, Díaz-Canel denounced U.S. imperialism, painting all protesters as counterrevolutionary and asked for “revolutionaries” to take to the streets and “defend the revolution.” Indeed, we reject the right wing, the church, and the “Patria y Vida” movement that continue to capitalize on this discontent over the situation in Cuba, attempting to stifle the continuing conquests of the revolution, and set the path for capitalist restoration. However, this is not the whole story. Although the first protests began peacefully, almost all the demonstrations ended up seeing violence, which was carried out by both sides. This series of simultaneous anti-government demonstrations is something never before seen in socialist Cuba. This must be taken into account to understand the events.

Three characterisations of the protests in Cuba on 11 July have been given. The government claims they were a confrontation between counterrevolutionaries and communists; the bourgeois press globally say they represented the oppressed rising against a dictatorship; others have argued this was a revolutionary working class against a politically degenerate bureaucracy. In reality, the 11 July protests brought together the three previous perspectives: the counterrevolutionary organisations—financed by the United States—violently attacking the Communist Party; groups of intellectuals, who feel their civil liberties severely restricted, facing censorship; and the working class demanding that the government improve their living conditions. However, although the overwhelming majority of protesters belonged to the third category, this cannot be understood as a politically conscious socialist mass, demanding more socialism from a stagnant bureaucracy.

Key Features of the Protest

§  Most of the protesters were not linked to counterrevolutionary organisations, nor were the protests led by counterrevolutionary organisations. 

§  The political legitimacy of the government is diminishing as shown by the large number of young people among the protesters.

§  The protests originated in the working class neighbourhoods with the greatest social problems. Social inequality is a growing problem in Cuban society. Poverty, social neglect, precariousness of public and social policies, limited supply of food and basic products by the state, as well as poor cultural policies, are characteristic of life in peripheral and lower-income neighbourhoods.

§  The protests did not represent a majority. Most of the Cuban population continues to support the government.

§  In the protests there were hardly any socialist slogans.

§  A small number of intellectuals were linked to the protests. but their demands for right to free expression and uncensored artistic creation had little resonance with the majority demanding basic improvements in life.

§  Lumpen groups were responsible for looting and vandalism distorting the otherwise peaceful spirit of the demonstrations in Havana.

§  Counterrevolutionary propaganda orchestrated from the US via social media certainly played a role  but were not the main factor triggering the protests.

 

The Way forward

The defence of the revolution is not a defence of the Communist Party bureaucracy which is entrenched in the state, but of the gains made by the working class in the revolution to expropriate the capitalists. Revolutions can be toppled by imperialism. But revolutions can also be subverted by one-party state bureaucracies that lead the way to capitalist restoration.

We defend the right to demonstration and union organization of those who fight to defend and deepen the conquests of the Cuban Revolution.

We call for an immediate release of the political prisoners as long as they have not committed actions that have threatened the lives of other people.

The only way forward is to participate in the popular protests, to defend within them an independent socialist program, to work towards the creation of much more direct institutional forms of  popular democracy even as we continue to oppose and challenge US imperialism and reactionary efforts to overthrow the regime but without becoming apologists for top down bureaucratic rule.

 

Radical Socialist

19 July 2021

ফাদার স্ট্যান স্বামীর প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক হত্যা সম্পর্কে র‍্যাডিক্যাল সোশ্যালিস্টের বিবৃতি

 

 Father Stan Swamy, 84-year-old Jesuit in Mumbai prison, may have Covid-19 |  America Magazine

ফাদার স্ট্যান স্বামী তাঁর জীবন উৎসর্গ করেছিলেন ঝাড়খন্ডের আদিবাসী সম্প্রদায়দের সঙ্গে থেকে ও কাজ করে। তিনি খনিজ সম্পদে সমৃদ্ধ অঞ্চলের অধিবাসীদের উপর ধনতান্ত্রিক শোষণ আর রাষ্ট্রীয় দমন-পীড়নের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াই করেছিলেন। মানুষের অধিকার নিয়ে কথা বলা ও মানুষের পাশে দাঁড়ানোর এই অপরাধের জন্য আরো অনেকের সঙ্গে তাঁকে ভীমা কোরেগাঁওয়ের মিথ্যা মামলায় জড়িয়েছিল কুখ্যাত জাতীয় তদন্ত এজেন্সী (এন আই এ)।   

 

 

একদিকে মোদী গণতন্ত্রের গুণগান গাইছে আর অমিত শাহ একটি প্রসিদ্ধ ইংরেজী দৈনিকে নিয়মিত গণতন্ত্র ও মৌলিক অধিকারের উৎস সম্পর্কে প্রবন্ধ লিখছে; আর একই সঙ্গে অন্য দিকে রাষ্ট্র যে কোনো প্রতিবাদী বা সমালোচনাত্মক কন্ঠ, সে সাংবাদিকদের হোক, উদ্বিগ্ন নাগরিকদের হোক, বুদ্ধিজীবীদের হোক বা ছাত্রদের হোক, তাঁদের উপর তীব্রভাবে ঝাঁপিয়ে পড়ছেআমরা এটা দেখেছি, নাগরিকত্ব সংশোধনী আইনের প্রতিবাদ যাঁরা করেছেন, তাঁদের বিরুদ্ধে কীভাবে পদক্ষেপ নেওয়া হল তাতে। আমরা দেখেছি, তারা যেভাবে চলমান কৃষক আন্দোলনের সঙ্গে যাঁরা যুক্ত, কীভাবে তাঁদের নামে কুৎসা রটিয়েছে,  আক্রমণ করেছে। আমরা দেখেছি তারা কীভাবে ২০২০-র দিল্লীতে সংগঠিত  ধর্মীয় গণহত্যার  প্রতিবাদ করেছেন যাঁরা, তাঁদের বিরুদ্ধে রাষ্ট্রীয় পদক্ষেপ নিয়েছে। জিঘাংসু রাষ্ট্র যে হিংস্র আইনের সাহায্যে ভীমা কোরেগাঁও মামলাতে জড়িত রাজনৈতিক কর্মীদের যেভাবে আক্রমণ করছে, সেটা হল সম্ভবত কর্মী ও বুদ্ধিজীবীদের উপরে সবচেয়ে মর্মান্তিক আক্রমণের নজীর, এবং সরকারের দিশার সবচেয়ে স্পষ্ট উদাহরণ।  

 

এই সবগুলিই হল ভারতে উদারনৈতিক গণতন্ত্রের যেটুকু খোলস পড়ে আছে, তা থেকে ভিন্নমতের কণ্ঠরোধ করা, এবং  ওই গণতন্ত্রকে নিশ্চিহ্ন করা।  এই কর্মীদের, ছাত্রছাত্রীদের এবং বুদ্ধিজীবীদের দুরবস্থা হল উদাহরণ, যা দিয়ে গোটা দেশকে বোঝানো হচ্ছে, সরকারের নীতিকে কোনোভাবে প্রশ্ন করলে  মানুষকে কোন মূল্য দিতে হবে। সরকারের এই নীতি হল এক বিষাক্ত মিশ্রণ, যাতে আছে কৃষিতে কৃষি আইন এবং শিল্প ক্ষেত্রে শ্রম কোডের মাধ্যমে ধনতান্ত্রিক শোষণের চরমতম বাড়াবাড়ি, আর সেই সঙ্গে হিন্দুত্ববাদী উগ্রজাতীয়তাবাদ, যার আছে ‘অপর’কে বাদ রাখার হিংসাত্মক প্রবণতা। এই দ্বিতীয় ধারাটির ফলে সরকার ক্ষুধা, দারিদ্র, বেকারত্ব, ইত্যাদি প্রসঙ্গ উঠলে যে কোনো সমালোচনাকে ধামাচাপা দেয়  মন্দির গড়ার কথা তুলে, বা মনগড়া ধর্মান্তকরণের দাবী তুলে

যে ভীমা কোরেগাঁও মামলাতে ফাদার স্ট্যান স্বামী সহ অনেককেই মিথ্যা অভিযোগে ধরা হয়েছে, সেটা তৈরি করাই হয়েছে সব প্রতিবাদী কণ্ঠরোধ করতে।  আদালতরা এরকম বহু মামলাতে রাষ্ট্রের কার্যনির্বাহক শাখার অনুগামী হিসেবে কাজ করেছে। আদালত স্ট্যান স্বামীর ৮৪ বছর বয়স হওয়া সত্ত্বেও, এবং তিনি পার্কিনসন্স ডিজিজ-এর মতো রোগে ভোগা সত্ত্বেও,  তাঁকে জামিন দিতে রাজি হয় নি। তাঁর স্বাস্থ্য এতটাই ভেঙ্গে পড়েছিল, যে তিনি হাতে একটা কাপ অবধি ঠিক করে ধরতে পারছিলেন না। তাঁর জামিনের আবেদন,  এবং সেই সঙ্গে আবেদন যে তাঁকে জেলে একটা সিপার কাপ ব্যবহার করতে দেওয়া হোক, তাতে দেরী হয়, কারণ এন আই এ আদালতরা বারে বারে চূড়ান্ত অমানবিকতা ও সহানুভূতিবিহীন আচরণ করে আবেদন বর্জন করেছিল। তিনি কোভিড নিয়েও জেলে থাকতে বাধ্য হয়েছিলেন,  যেটা ধরা পড়ে পরে, যখন তাঁর অবস্থা আরো খারাপ হলে তাঁকে হাসপাতালে পাঠানো অনিবার্য হয়।  একজন সামাজিক কর্মীকে এইভাবে সুপরিকল্পিতভাবে, ধীরে ধীরে অত্যাচার করা, হল শাসকদের প্রয়াস, যাতে প্রতিবাদী সকলকে ঠেকানো যায়। ফাদার স্ট্যান স্বামীর নিছক মৃত্যু হয় নি। তাঁকে প্রাতিষ্ঠানিকভাবে হত্যা করা হয়েছে।

 

র‍্যাডিক্যাল সোশ্যালিস্ট দাবী করছে, ইউএপিএ এবং এন আই এ আইন রদ করতে হবে, এবং সমস্ত রাজবন্দীদের নিঃশর্ত মুক্তি দিতে হবে। ঝাড়খন্ডের হাজার হাজার আদিবাসী সম্পদায়ের মানুষদের সঙ্গে, এবং দেশ জুড়ে আরো অসংখ্য মানুষের সঙ্গে, আমরাও অন্যায়ের বিরুদ্ধে নিবেদিতপ্রাণ এই জীবন কেড়ে নেওয়াতে শোকপ্রকাশ করছি।

 

৭/৭/২০২১ 

 

 

Radical Socialist Statement condemning the institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy

 

Father Stan Swamy, 84-year-old Jesuit in Mumbai prison, may have Covid-19 |  America Magazine


Father Stan Swamy dedicated his life living and working with tribal communities in Jharkhand. He fought capitalist exploitation and state repression brought upon the people living in mineral rich areas. For these crimes of standing with and speaking up for people’s rights, he was falsely implicated along with many others in the Bhima Koregaon case by the notorious National Investigating Agency (NIA).

While Modi sings paeans on democracy and Amit Shah writes op-ed pieces in a leading English language daily about the roots of democracy and fundamental rights, the state continues to zealously crackdown on any voice of dissent or criticism whether it be by journalists, concerned citizens, intellectuals or students. We have seen this in the way they have dealt with the protestors against CAA, the way they have vilified and attacked those involved in the ongoing farmers’ protests, activists who spoke up against the organized Delhi pogrom in 2020 among many others. The pursuing of the Bhima Koregaon activists by a vindictive state under draconian legal provisions is probably the most harrowing for the activists and intellectuals involved as well as exemplary of the government attitude.

These are all methods of silencing dissent and hollowing out of whatever shell of liberal democracy that India was. The plight of these activists, students and intellectuals are meant to be examples of the very heavy price that people will have to pay should they dare to question the official line of the government, which is a toxic combination of the worst excesses of capitalist exploitation in agriculture (farm laws) and industry (labour code), and a politics of exclusionary ethno-nationalist Hindu chauvinism which helps them bury any criticisms by bringing up the question of building temples or fanciful claims of conversions whenever faced with material questions of hunger, poverty, employment etc.

The Bhima Koregaon case in which Father Stan Swamy was falsely implicated, along with many other activists, is similarly fabricated to stifle all voices of dissent. The courts, which in many such cases have simply acted as an extension of the executive arm of the state, denied Stan Swamy bail, despite him being 84 years of age and suffering from a serious degenerative disease such as Parkinson’s. His condition had debilitated to the extent that he could not even hold a cup properly. His bail pleas, along with his simple request to be allowed to use a sipper cup in jail, was greatly delayed by repeated rejections by the NIA courts showing a complete lack of basic humanity and compassion. He was forced to languish in jail with Covid, which was only detected later when he was transferred to a hospital when his condition deteriorated further. This deliberate and slow torturing of an activist to set an example out of them is nothing but an insidious attempt by the ruling regime to deter anyone who dares to dissent. Father Stan Swamy did not just die, he was institutionally murdered!

Radical Socialists demand a repeal of the draconian UAPA and the NIA Acts, and the unconditional release of all political prisoners. We join the thousands among tribal communities in Jharkhand, and many others across the country, in mourning the murder of a life dedicated to fighting injustice.

The case against nuclear power

From the Archives of International Socialist Review

In the shadow of a still-unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan, an argument for why nuclear power should be dismantled everywhere

FROM THE very beginning, unlocking the power of the atom for “peaceful” energy production was about waging war—war carried through to its logical end point: the power to indiscriminately destroy life on a planetary scale. In 1946 the U.S. State Department issued a Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy, drafted by Robert Oppenheimer and other nuclear scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, which stated, “The development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes and the development of atomic energy for bombs are in much of their course interchangeable and interdependent.”

People around the world stood aghast at the apocalyptic destruction wreaked on Japan during a few hellish minutes when the United States dropped the nuclear bombs Little Boy and Fat Man on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the official story about why the bombs were dropped remains one about saving the lives of U.S. servicemen by obviating the need for a ground invasion of Japan, the Manhattan Project leader General Leslie R. Groves in a 1954 testimony to Congress was clear about why the bombs were developed and dropped: “There was never, from about two weeks from the time I took charge of this project, any illusion on my part but that Russia was our enemy and that the project was conducted on that basis.”

The immediate loss of life, in the tens of thousands, coupled with the invisible and long-term effects of radiation sickness and cancers, brought the world up against the sharp razor edge of the nuclear age. The Second World War, which had revealed the barbarism of total war, including the attempted eradication of Europe’s Jewish population through the industrialization of mass murder and the deaths of 60 million human beings in the mutual slaughter between the contending powers, ended with the unleashing of the most terrifying of all weapons as the world entered the atomic age. The allied concept of “carpet bombing” civilian population centers (two days of incendiary carpet bombing by U.S. pilots killed more than 100,000 residents of Tokyo during the war) had now advanced to the next level: total annihilation.

Subsequently, the Cold War nuclear war preparedness policy of NATO was officially named MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, a point parodied in Stanley Kubrick’s outstanding black comedy Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Today, the nuclear stockpile of the United States, which stands at over 7,000 warheads—some of which are still kept in permanent readiness—could alone destroy planetary life several times over.

If nuclear weapons were to have a future, perfecting them as the ultimate weapon of mass destruction needed some other justification than the annihilation of entire cities that left behind a multigenerational legacy of radiation poisoning. Moreover, plutonium, a necessary component of nuclear weapons and the most life-destroying element known to humanity, is not an element that occurs naturally on earth. It is a by-product of nuclear fission inside nuclear reactors. Hence, without a nuclear power program, justified as the peaceful use of unlimited, cheap, and safe energy, it is not possible to realistically generate the required amount of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

The first nuclear plants in the UK, at Calder Hall and Chapelcross, commissioned in the 1950s, were explicitly for the production of plutonium for Britain’s nascent nuclear weapons program; Electricity production was a secondary consideration.

In 1954, Lewis Strauss, chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, when speaking of the possibilities of nuclear power declared in the heat of the technological optimism of the day that,

Our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.... It is not too much to expect that our children will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a life span far longer than ours, as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age.

The intimate connection between nuclear power production and nuclear weapons is inescapable. Because nuclear weapons are designed to be the Hammer of God, the ultimate arbiter of power, any country that is under external threat will logically seek to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent—which was their stated benefit and contribution to “world peace.”

North Korea—a country that didn’t have weapons of mass destruction—watched the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and quickly drew the logical conclusion that it needed to develop and test its own nuclear weapon as fast as possible. This fact is well understood by the U.S. government, which is doing all it can to prevent a civil nuclear power program developing in Iran despite it having the legal right to do so.

Hence, an important argument underpinning the anti–nuclear power movement has always been its insistence that an umbilical cord links military and civilian nuclear programs, which, as a consequence, drives a new and even more terrifying arms race.

There are four states with undeclared stockpiles of nuclear weapons developed from civil programs, and it is no coincidence that they are in some of the most volatile, militarized—and hence dangerous—areas of the world: Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea. Experts estimate forty more countries are capable of developing nuclear weapons as the nuclear club continues to expand.

Ex-president Jimmy Carter has accused the United States of being at the forefront of efforts to undermine the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) after setting up a nuclear technology exchange with India in 2005 and revealing that the United States was committed to a “first strike” policy—even against countries without nuclear weapons:

The United States is the major culprit in the erosion of the NPT. While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea…they also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

However, the treaty itself is fatally flawed because it contains an intractable contradiction: in exchange for offering technology and nuclear know-how from established nuclear powers to set up civil nuclear programs, countries that sign on to the treaty agree not to divert material into a weapons program.

One might ask, why would Japan, a small country close to active fault lines and known as “the Land of Volcanos,” a country that was still recovering from the devastation of a double nuclear attack, decide to adopt nuclear technology from the country responsible for that attack? While domestic considerations connected to energy independence certainly played a role, the United States sought to make Japan the “Great Britain of the East” by offering it protection under Washington’s “nuclear umbrella,” and nuclear technology to power the country. This was one of the factors that then drove China to acquire and test its own nuclear weapons in the 1960s and similarly motivated North Korea four decades later.

The ongoing and deepening nuclear calamity in Fukushima and Japan’s abiding commitment to nuclear power, including the ability to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and generate plutonium, is therefore an outgrowth of imperial power plays at the end of the Second World War.

Reeling from a 9.0 earthquake and a devastating tsunami, Japan is now several weeks into the nuclear crisis at Fukushima, and desperate measures are all that’s left. These measures have included pumping thousands of tons of seawater into the crippled reactors and spent fuel rod containment pools, dropping water from helicopters, and trying to plug a containment leak first with concrete, then a polymer, and finally with sawdust and rags. Radiation levels in the surrounding water have soared as high as 7.5 million times the legal limit while elevated radiation levels are now being detected in the United States.

Murray E. Jennex, an associate professor at San Diego State University with 20 years of experience in examining nuclear containment structures, believes that because these ad hoc measures are untested, they could be leading to greater problems, as spraying water everywhere wrecks delicate electrical equipment; “They dumped water all over the place…They keep on generating more contamination. That’s the consequence of doing it. They got water on things that shouldn’t be wet.”

U.S. nuclear experts question whether filling the reactors with hundreds of tons of water isn’t also raising the possibility of a rupture in the containment vessel, which would trigger a massive further release of radioactivity. The immense pressure of the water on an already compromised containment structure subject to continuing aftershocks could be enough to crack it open.

For the hundreds of thousands of Japanese moved into temporary shelters either because their homes were washed away in the tsunami or because of the emergency evacuation caused by the nuclear crisis, there is very little prospect of moving back. Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulator, admitted on March 29 that, “We will have to continue cooling for quite a long period. We should be thinking years.”

According to Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor in the department of quantum engineering at Nagoya University, if further complications arise and the situation deteriorates further, “The worst-case scenario is that a meltdown makes the plant’s site a permanent grave.”

Despite assurances from U.S. politicians and the nuclear industry that a similar disaster “couldn’t happen here,” the possibility of a nuclear accident in the United States is very real. According to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists cited by the Christian Science Monitor,

Nuclear plants in the United States last year experienced at least 14 “near misses,” serious failures in which safety was jeopardized, at least in part, due to lapses in oversight and enforcement by U.S. nuclear safety regulators…. While none of the safety problems harmed plant employees or the public, they occurred with alarming frequency—more than once a month—which is high for a mature industry.

Twenty-three of the 104 operational nuclear reactors in the United States are built on the same 1960s design, and by the same company—General Electric—as the reactors at Fukushima. They have been recognized to have serious design faults since the 1970s and have been regularly retrofitted (i.e., patched up) to take into account new research illustrating their design vulnerabilities to such things as power outages and other malfunctions that make possible a core breach and a resulting release of radioactive isotopes.

Many of these U.S. reactors sit on geologically active fault lines or are situated in coastal areas and close to extensive sources of fresh groundwater. The 40-year-old Indian Point nuclear plant, less than 30 miles from New York City, has a history of safety problems and sits on two fault lines. As U.S. government nuclear experts are arguing that Japanese authorities extend the current 12-mile evacuation and exclusion zone around Fukushima to 50 miles, a serious accident at Indian Point would mean relocating 17 million people. Alexey Yablokov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and adviser to President Gorbachev during the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, commented on the Japanese government’s playing down of the dangers, saying, “When you hear ‘no immediate danger’ [from nuclear radiation] then you should run away as far and as fast as you can.”

The U.S. department that would be in charge of such an operation is the same one that brought us the chaotic and ineffective evacuation of the much smaller city of New Orleans during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina debacle: the Department of Homeland Security.

A Coast Guard report released in April investigated its perfomance in response to the BP oil spill. The report does not inspire confidence that the U.S. government is in any way prepared for a possible nuclear accident. According to Roger Rufe, a retired U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral and chair of the team behind the report: “We clearly point out that contingency planning was not adequate, certainly not for a spill of this size…. There was a complacency that this was not going to happen at this scale.”

According to scientists, California has a 99.7 percent chance of being hit with an earthquake of 6.7 or greater within the next 30 years. And a quake could easily far exceed that level. Nuclear plants in California are only built to withstand earthquakes of only 7–7.5. How do we know a more powerful earthquake is possible? Because it’s already happened; the 1906 earthquake that tore apart San Francisco was measured at 8.3. The 42-year-old San Onofre nuclear plant, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, is situated right on the beach, with a fault line five miles offshore. Its tsunami wall is 25 feet high, which would have been too low to withstand the wall of water that washed over northeastern Japan. The Diablo Canyon plant, located 200 miles northwest of Los Angeles near Santa Barbara, was built in 1968 near two fault lines, one three miles off the coast that suffered a 7.1 earthquake in 1926.

With the nuclear industry’s litany of smaller radioactive leaks, accidents, opaque safety plans, and a history of cover-ups, people have every right to be very alarmed at the potential for a devastating nuclear accident coming to a plant near them.

Moreover, with the clear connection to nuclear weapons production, alongside many unresolved questions surrounding long-term waste management and the decommissioning of old plants, there are more than enough compelling arguments against nuclear power—in addition to the potential for terrifying accidents—to justify shutting them down now.

The production of electricity from splitting apart uranium atoms is an inherently unstable process liable at any moment to run away, out of control. In other words, the operation of a nuclear plant is premised on constant control over a fundamentally uncontrollable process. The “chain reaction” that is necessary to get the fission process going has to be relentlessly monitored to keep it within tolerable limits. Hence the need to keep the core cooled at all times, for control rods to drop into place at a moment’s notice, to avoid radioactive leaks, for multiple back-up systems and fail-safe devices, at least two containment vessels, an evacuation plan, regular testing of workers and the surroundings, and so on.

This instability at the heart of the production of nuclear power, combined with the long-lived and extreme toxicity of the resulting byproducts, leads to the second insurmountable issue with nuclear power: its expense.

This is fully recognized by the people who would otherwise be investing in nuclear power plants. They won’t do it without cast-iron guarantees that they will have only limited liability for accidents and retain huge government subsidies. The Bush administration gave the nuclear industry $18.5 billion in loan guarantees to try to encourage investment in new nuclear plants. The Obama administration doubled down with an extra $36 billion.

But even with over $50 billion of taxpayer money pledged, to get the ball rolling the nuclear industry feels the need for more. It is now asking for $100 billion. The industry also requested an extension of tax credits without plant-size restrictions, an investment tax credit, and a worker training and manufacturing tax credit as well as reductions in tariffs on any imports of required materials and components.

A 2009 report by Citibank, an institution that has rarely met a risky investment it could say no to, highlighted in the title of its report on nuclear power what its analysis showed: “New Nuclear: The Economics Say No.” The report goes on to say: “The risks faced by developers [of new nuclear plants]…are so large and variable that individually they could each bring even the largest utility company to its knees financially.” In 2001 the Economist, a publication with its heart firmly in the camp of “free-market” capitalism wrote: “Nuclear Power, once claimed to be too cheap to meter, is now too costly to matter.”

The Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, first passed in 1957 and last renewed in 2005, restricts any costs payable by utility companies in the event of a nuclear accident to $12.6 billion. Anything above that amount—which would be easily exceeded by any major accident—is covered by the federal government’s coffers; i.e., us. Again, without that indemnity, without the government subsidies and loan guarantees, and tax breaks, the nuclear industry could not exist; the laws of the free market are not allowed to apply to nuclear power.

A comprehensive 2003 MIT report, The Future of Nuclear Power, made it clear what the difficulties of expanding nuclear power were. Prospects for nuclear energy as an option are limited, the report found, by four unresolved problems: high relative costs; perceived adverse safety, environmental, and health effects; potential security risks stemming from proliferation; and unresolved challenges in long-term management of nuclear wastes.”

A 2009 update recognized the ongoing challenges of getting a “nuclear renaissance”:

After five years, no new plants are under construction in the United States and insufficient progress has been made on waste management. The current assistance program put into place by the 2005 EPACT has not yet been effective and needs to be improved. The sober warning is that if more is not done, nuclear power will diminish as a practical and timely option for deployment at a scale that would constitute a material contribution to climate change risk mitigation.

When the report mentions that the current support program is “not yet effective and needs to be improved,” this is a clear reference to the requirement for increased government subsidies. According to a report cited inScientific American, the costs to the taxpayer of building 100 new nuclear power plants, over the lifetime of the plants, over and above costs associated with alternatives if they had been pursued, come to a truly gargantuan $1.9–4.1 trillion. As nuclear plants are notorious for cost overruns, the higher figure is much more likely.

The report’s concluding statement is highly significant for those environmentalists who have been taken in by the pro-nuclear argument that “at least it’s not coal.” Without an increase in the rate of new-plant construction that surpasses that of the global construction programs of the 1970s and 1980s, nuclear power cannot make a meaningful contribution to climate change risk mitigation. Just to maintain the current world production of nuclear power, either the oldest, creakiest plants need to be relicensed or a veritable orgy of nuclear construction needs to begin. To maintain the current proportional contribution of nuclear power would require building eighty new nuclear plants in the next 10 years—commissioning one every 6 weeks! A further 200 would be required over the subsequent decade.

The long lead times for construction that invalidate nuclear power as a way of mitigating climate change was a point recognized in 2009 by the body whose mission is to promote the use of nuclear power, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Nuclear power is not a near-term solution to the challenge of climate change,” writes Sharon Squassoni in the IAEA bulletin. “The need to immediately and dramatically reduce carbon emissions calls for approaches that can be implemented more quickly than building nuclear reactors.”

Wind farms take only 18 months to come online; nuclear plants typically take in excess of 10 years. The last nuke plant to be built and become operational in the United States, at Watts Bar in Tennessee, took 23 years to build and cost $6.9 billion. Hence, from an economic and environmental perspective, nuclear power makes no sense; numerous studies from the Wall Street Journal and independent energy analysts have put the cost of nuclear power at between 12-20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). In contrast, those same studies put the cost of renewable energy at an average of 6 cents/kWh.

Furthermore, according to research by Friends of the Earth, if the extremely polluting and dangerous mining and refining of uranium are included in the running of nuclear plants, they emit 250,000 tons of CO2 for every year of operation. Moreover, one in five uranium miners in the Southwest has contracted some form of cancer.

The U.S. government and other governments around the world are enamored with nuclear power neither for its supposed environmental benefits (as if that weren’t a sick joke anyway) nor for its reliability, safety, or economic superiority. Ruling elites want more nuclear power because of its connection to nuclear weapons production, the need for energy independence, and the deeply entrenched and highly effective power of the nuclear lobby. However, that corporate lobby could not be so successful if its interests did not dovetail with the imperial geostrategic interests of the countries involved.

There are many other reasons to be against nuclear power: the cost overruns, the fact that no country has a fully developed or workable plan—or in most cases any plan—for what to do with the nuclear waste that is piling up alongside the nuclear reactors. If the government opened the long-term nuclear repository that was supposed to be beneath Yucca Mountain in Nevada today, it would be immediately filled with already existing nuclear waste.

The unresolved problem of long-term waste disposal—the U.S. government has pledged to sequester the waste for 1 million years—contributes to the astronomical cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants. Then there is the transportation of nuclear fuel for reprocessing and the international trade in nuclear waste. Alongside that, the highly centralized nature of nuclear plants means that if one or more goes down, at one stroke it takes out an enormous chunk of the electricity supply grid.

As nuclear plants have to be run continuously as close to full capacity as possible to even come close to justifying their enormous construction, operating, and decommissioning costs, they compete not just for funding, but they compete directly with clean renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar, which are similarly best operated on a continual basis. In addition, if regulators relicense nuke plants for another 20 years and start building new ones that will operate for 60, then there will be no “transition” to clean power until almost the end of this century. Goodbye clean world.

Can truly green, renewable sources of energy replace nuclear power? Easily. Scientific studies too numerous to mention show repeatedly that wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal sources of clean energy are abundant and easily accessible. Unlike coal and oil, these renewable forms of energy are freely available, don’t pollute the environment with waste (radioactive or otherwise), don’t need to be fought over, don’t contribute to global warming, and don’t require massive amounts of farmland, energy, and water as do biofuels. Furthermore, we have the technology to tap into them to provide not just the 20 percent of electricity currently provided by nuclear in the United States, but to provide all of our electrical needs.

But President Obama and the vast majority of Democrats are resolutely in the pro-nuke camp, even in the face of the catastrophe in Japan. They also favor more offshore drilling for oil in the Gulf and the Arctic, “clean” coal, and increases in agro-fuels such as ethanol. If we want a transition to a sane and clean energy policy, we will have to independently organize and fight for it. 
We should take a page from the playbook of the German antinuclear movement. Mass protests in Germany against nuclear power have already forced Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s center-right government to announce a three-month moratorium on plans to extend the life of Germany’s seventeen nuclear power plants. Not satisfied, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in four major cities at the end of March, including more than 100,000 in Berlin, calling for an end to nuclear power.

We need to organize local demonstrations against nuclear plants here in the United States, and resurrect the incredibly strong and successful antinuke movement of the 1980s. Let’s bring back the slogans “Nuclear Power—No Thanks” and “No Nukes Is Good Nukes.” We need to organize in our workplaces, unions, communities, and campuses for a national March on Washington in the fall for Jobs, Clean Energy, and Climate Justice. Because, to quote the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

 

The Inheritance of Resistance and Opposition: Santal Hool

The first sustained resistance to colonial rule from the toiling people of India came from adivasis. Bourgeois nationalist historiography tried to marginalise these struggles, and when that was no longer viable, to portray these as somehow ‘primitive’ and therefore not worthy of being considered proper parts of the national struggle. If however the Indian nation is to be seen as a modern creation, forged out of anti-colonial struggles, then the struggles of adivasis from Baba Tilka Majhi (Tilka Murmu), through the Kolhan revolt, all the way to Birsa Munda's resistance, or the Tana Bhagats, must be given their due. Among these struggles, few match in scope, valour and audacity the great Santal Hool of 1855. To pay tribute to the struggle, to reflect upon its relevance for today’s class struggles, is the duty of revolutionaries. We asked Professor Maroona Murmu, Professor of History, Jadavpur University, who is also the first Adivasi Professor of any History Department in any West Bengal University, to contribute a guest post. – Administrator, Radical Socialist



Maroona Murmu

 

On 30 June 1855, the children of Chunar Murmu – Sidhu, Kanhu, Phulo, Jhano, Chand, Bhairo, sent out the shal gira  ( branches of the shal tree) to mobilize within a very short period of time some ten thousand Santals of Damin-i-Koh, Birbhum, Bankura, Chhotanagpur, and Hazaribagh areas to proclaim the Santal Hool or revolt. By doing this, they had indeed shown the road ahead for resistance. It was indeed a novel revolutionary effort, to face the cavalry, the infantry, the cannons and the elephant forces of the Dikus (the oppressive money lenders, zamindars, jotedars and their chief patron, the British Government), in an exceedingly unequal war, with only bows and arrows and pole-axes for weapons.

 

The History, In Brief

Let us try to find out why the peace-loving Santals were angered enough to organize the Hool. The Governor General William Bentinck had invited the Santal adivasis from Birbhum, Singbhum, Dhalbhum, Shikharbhum, Odisha, Bardhaman, Palamau, Chhotanagpur, Hazaribag, Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia to settle in the densely forested Damin-i-Koh area and make it fit for cultivation. The memories of the Santals were filled with eternal evictions and a nomadic life – an eternal story of travelling from the land of Chai Champa. So they hoped that now at last that was coming to an end. Bentinck announced that for the first few years the Santals would be allowed to enjoy the land without any tax. But by 1854-55 the annual revenue had mounted to Rs. 58,000. So during the Hool, the demand of Sidhu and Kanhu was that since the Santals themselves had cleared the forests and turned them into cultivable habitations, the time had come to snatch the power away from the British government and establish an independent Santal Raj.

However, it would be erroneous to imagine that the rebellion was caused by this enhanced revenue demand alone. The trader-like mentality of the East India Company and the monetized economy they had introduced, encouraged the influx of Bengali, Panjabi, Rajasthani, and western (Indian) usurers and traders who all hit hard at the barter based Santal economy. The Santals, accustomed all these years to an egalitarian and equal rights based society, were not prepared for the discipline of a commercialized economy and polity. They had dreamt of a social-cultural life and an administrative structure under their own Majhis and Morols. In trying to keep pace with the fast changing world the Santals fell into the honey-trap of the consumer goods brought by the trades. In exchange for token amounts of money, tobacco, salt and clothes, they sold ample paddy, rice, mustard, linseed, bora and other oil seeds. These traders resold goods bought from Damin at higher prices in Kolkata or Murshidabad, and much of the mustard would be re-exported to England. The traders with their sharp practices would often use rigged scales to cheat the Santals over weight, using heavy weights when weighing the goods of the Santals and lighter weights when weighing their goods, and they would also buy things from the Santals at prices much below market rates. Often, in order to buy what they wanted to buy, the Santals had to borrow from the moneylenders, and they would not be able to repay those loans. When they failed to repay the loans, the moneylenders would loot their cows, buffalos, goats, hens, their pots and pans, iron ornaments, and other household implements. In the same way, they got enmeshed in a debt-trap when they were unable to pay the enhanced revenue demands or taxes to the landlords. If they were unable to pay the taxes, the landlords would unleash cattle, donkeys, horses, goats, even elephants to destroy their growing crops.

And the Santals did not only lose their crops, their ploughs and their buffaloes due to indebtedness. Both personally and through inheritance they would become bond labourers, virtually slaves. These people were called kamias. However much labour they put in round the year, the interest ranging between 50% and 500% could never be paid off. There was of course the custom of writing a bigger loan amount than what had actually been given, and getting the Santals to affix their thumb prints to those. If someone sought redress in the courts, complications increased rather than the problems being solved. Accustomed to the humane and arbitration-based justice of the village council, the harassment of the Santals only increased when they confronted the bureaucratic and harsh justice of the British. To all this was added the abduction and rape of Santal women by British adminstrators, engineers and staff engaged in extending the railways, moneylenders and zamindars.

Sidhu and Kanhu demanded that in the Damin area every Santal family was entitled to equal amounts of land. Since no revenues had been fixed in a proper way, so the zamindars must be evicted from all land apart from their residential land. When the independent Santal rule was to be established, all dikus or outsiders would have to pay a tax of five rupees. Only lower caste Hindus, like the Chamars, Kamars, Hadis, Bagdis, Dhangors, Goalas, Bhunyias, Doms and the Muslim weavers would be allowed to live in tax free land. Sidhu and Kanhu also declared that the unjust burden of interests that moneylenders and traders had imposed on the Santals for all these years would be cancelled, and  henceforth an interest of 1 paisa per rupee would suffice.

It was also decided that the local administrators must be accountable to a Santal court for the sustained repressions. Kirta, Bhadoo and Soona Majhi, recognised figures in the Santal society, were entrusted with the task of writing formal complaints against the Commissioners of Bhagalpur and Birbhum, the Collector, the Darogas of the Dighi and the Tikri Police Stations, and also against some zamindars. Sending an official letter of complaint is evidence that in their own way the Santals attempted one final time to arrive at a mutually agreed settlement. Since no responses came from the local authorities, on 7 July 1855 it was decided that a demonstration would set out from Bhagnadihi to Kolkata to the Governor General, seeking to know how oppression by European administrators, mahajans (moneylenders), traders and zamindars can to be contained.

Hearing about the Santals gathering, mahajans brought false charges of theft against Sidhu and Kanhu to the notorious Daroga of the Dighi Thana, Maheshlal Dutta. The Daroga was killed  when he came to arrest Sidhu. Five notorious Bengali mahajans – Manik Chowdhury, Gorachand Sen, Sarthak Rakshit,  Nemai Dutta and Haru Dutta were also killed. The flames of the rebellion spread across Godda, Pakur, Maheshpur and Bhagalpur in Bihar, and Birbhum, Bankura and Murshidabad in Bengal.

Something worth a special mention is the moral stance of the Santals even while facing unspeakable repression and destruction. One must not forget that when Trivuban Majhi led an attack that killed two European women and children, Sidhu and Kanhu meted out stern punishment. E. G. Mann writes that Santals despite being accustomed to using poisoned arrows, did not use them against the British during the conflict.

Against that there is the acknowledgement of British atrocities in Major Vincent Jarvis’ diary, where he wrote: “It was not war; they did not understand yielding. As long as their national drum beat, the whole party would stand, and allow themselves to be shot down. Their arrows often killed our men, and so we had to fire on them as long as they stood. When their drum ceased, they would move off a quarter of a mile; then their drums beat again, and they calmly stood till we came up and poured a few volleys into them. There was not a sepoy in the war who did not feel ashamed of himself."

During the second week of February 1856 Sidhu was shot dead. Some hold a different position and say that he was hanged. Chand and Bhairo died in a confrontation with the British troops in Bhagalpur. A woman Santal leader, dressed like a man, also died. More recent research says Jano and Phulo Murmu, sisters of Sidhu-Kanhu-Chand- Bhairo, killed 21 British troopers. On the third week of February, Kanhu was arrested and hanged in broad daylight. An Englishman has written that an extensive area from Birbhum to Bhagalpur was bathed in the blood of between fifteen thousand and twenty-five thousand Santals.

Bengali intellectuals wrote in the papers Friend of India and Calcutta Review, that the revenge for the defeats and killings of the British should be so terrible that in future the Santals should never in the future show the guts to assert themselves through rebellions. Such opinions were also expressed as, the ‘uncivilized’, ‘ugly’, ‘black ghosts’ of Santals should be sent off to the forests of Burma in exile, or that they should be shot or hanged till death. In courts, 251 persons were convicted, of whom 191 were Santals and the rest from oppressed caste Hindus. 76 of the accused were boys aged eight to ten, who were ordered to be whipped. The rest were sent to the Andamans or to imprisonment for between seven and fourteen years.

 

Results, Contemporary Relevance

Let us move on to the material results. The Santal rebellion led to the emergence of a Non-Regulation district named Santal Pargana in the map of India. By the Act XXXVII of December 1855, this Pargana was created out of parts of Damin-i-Koh, Birbhum and Bhagalpur. It was self-governing. Owing to the tremendous power of the revolt, the rulers realised that a people who could be defeated in a trial of arms but would not surrender but give up their lives, should not be allowed to mix freely with people from other parts of India lest the sprouts of rebellion raise their heads elsewhere too. This separate district was given to the charge of George Yule, the Commissioner of Bhagalpur. It was divided into five administrative sub-units, in charge of five Assistant Commissioners and four Sub Assistant Commissioners. But acknowledging the traditional structures of Santal society, revenue collection and administration of justice were handed over to Morols or Majhis. For this district, stamp duties were waived for private as well as revenue related transactions. The police control was toned down. The need for intermediaries between complainant and the Assistant Commissioner was abolished. Courts were set up in Dumka, Rajmahal and Godda. Santals were given the responsibility of producing the accused and the witnesses. Both interest on loans, and revenue rates, were lowered. In order to overcome the economic uncertainty faced by Santals, land transfer to non-adivasis was cancelled, and most of the land was restored to the previous Santal inhabitants. But though their traditional culture was saved, the Santal dream of a permanent homeland could not be realised in practice. Livelihood needs compelled many to accept the life of ‘coolies’ in the tea gardens of Assam.

 But that does not reduce an iota of the significance of the Santal Hool. Research shows that Santals continued to protest repeatedly against social-economic inequality and repressive policies afterwards too. The united Santals, representing the toiling masses, did not only create the first peoples’ army against the powerful British government, but also initiated a long term nationalist awakening. The banner of mass struggles that the Santal rebellion of 1855 had raised, the drums of revolt they had sounded, provided inspirations to the Great Rebellion of 1857, to the Indigo Rebellion of 1860, to the peasant struggles of Maharashtra of 1875-76. This revolt teaches that it is the resistance to colonial and feudal rule that is the most important thing, not the periodic defeats.

In Santal folk songs, folk tales, bardic songs Hool talks about both a present that is full of possibilities as well as holding out the promise of a dream of renaissance. This revolt brought about a transformation in the daily life of the Santal community. It became a part of their daily existence to be prepared to join in any revolt or opposition. In the revolt of 1857, Santals of Chhotanagur, Odisha and South Bengal Santals took part. In 1858, despite it not being a declared day of the shikar, huge numbers of Santals gathered at Deoghar with bows and arrows. In 1871-72, they resisted the enumeration process of the Census. In 1874-81, they started the socio-economic and religious reformist Kherwal movement. In 1917, when the British were recruiting Santal workers in Mayurbhanj, the Santals protested.

And, the Present

The fires of that revolt have never died down in the 74 years of independent India. The Supreme Court in its order dated February 13, 2019, had directed the eviction of more than 11.8 lakh adivasis from forestlands in 16 states of India under the Forest Rights Act 2019. a This virtual repeat of the colonial Act of 1927 is aimed to hand over the mineral rich adivasi dominated areas to Indian and foreign big corporate capital. This violates the Constitutional safeguard of full autonomy to adivasis in these areas. Moreover according to the Panchayat Act of 1996 in these areas, the adivasi gram sabhas or village communities wielding the highest administrative powers have the sole power to decide and sanction the sale or transfer of land to any non adivasis. Adivasis built up utmost levels of resistance to this government assisted corporate loot. In 2013-2014, we find how the Odisha government agreed to the proposals of Vedanta Aluminium Limited to dig the Niyamagiri hill in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district to procure bauxite. Local Dongria Kondh adivasis built up a tremendous resistance to that. In 2016-17, when the Jharkhand government brought in an amendment to the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act to transfer adivasi land for commercial profits, adivasis of Khunti, Gumla, Singbhu and West Simdega created the novel Patalgarhi agitation to resist the loot of water, forest and soil. They inscribed on stone slabs the part of the constitution dealing with the areas inhabited by people from the Scheduled Tribes.

In West Bengal, on 16 August 1992, the first graduate of the Lodha Sabar community, Chuni Kotal, took the path of ending her life in order to free herself from continuous casteist repression. Nobody has been punished in all these years under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities ) Act of 1989. According to a news of 16 October 2017, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes brought a charge against the government of West Bengal, that in terms of crimes against Dalits and adivasis, this state ranks second, and the government is not merely indifferent to this, but indeed irresponsible. Facts reveal clearly that the adivasi communities of West Bengal are neglected in terms of education, livelihood, financial conditions, and standards of living, and their standing is in most cases below the all India average. On one hand the cases of violence against adivasis has been growing, and on the other hand the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities ) Act is being diluted.

The mentality of ‘social distancing’, which has struck deep roots in the quotidian life in this society, dominated by Brahminical hegemonism and its aggressive caste discrimination, may not be fully extirpated even from a Covid-19 less life. The thousands of years of deprivation, defrauding, exploitation and domination faced by adivasis may not change in the near future. But an uncompromising attitude is built into the outlook of the adivasis. So their deathless valour and resistance will persist against social and state repression. Thousands of Thangjam Manoramas and Soni Soris will keep alive through the ages the spirit of resistance of Phulo Murmu and Jhano Murmu. This I firmly believe.

 

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