Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kenan Malik - How to become a real Muslim

A media reliant on scandal has colluded with self-promoting but marginal Muslim clerics to create a cycle of self-reinforcing myths around the Mohammed cartoons, writes Kenan Malik. The fear of causing offence has helped undermine progressive trends in Islam and strengthened the hand of religious bigots.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Crunch Time for India: Who Speaks for the People?

By Badri Raina

It should be obvious that India needs to be reclaimed and rescued both from the State and those who engage in self-defeating hinterland warfare.

What would Gandhi have done?

Walk from end to end of this beleaguered country, building bonds of self-respect, courage, love, and peaceful mass reistance.

We believe whether or not he would have succeeded (at Champaran he did, would he have at the Poscoe site?), that is the way we need to go. The cure for the ills of democracy is not a denial of democracy but insistently more democracy.

And more democracy can happen only when masses of people shame the State from its own hypocritical postulates and shame it into yielding economic control of the wealth of the nation besides the right merely to cast the vote. And when men and women of all castes and all religions come together to say “NO” to brutal obscurantisms that flourish at the behest of the haves who can provide money for unleashing both caste wars and religious riots.

And when men and women, remembering Gandhi, face those bullets, lose lives, but refuse to descend to the cruel bestialities practiced by oppressors of all persuasions and denominations.

Let the Indian democratic revolution begin.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Social networks, the novelty of the campaign in Colombia

Hernando Salazar

Social networks and the Internet are the main novelty of the campaign for the presidency of Colombia and a kind of new public square for candidates who will compete in the polls on May 30.

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Essay - Theory, Literature, Hoax -

We love stories as much as we need them, but a funny thing has happened to departments of literature. The study of literature as an art form, of its techniques for delighting and instructing, has been replaced by an amalgam of bad epistemology and worse prose that goes by many names but can be summed up as Theory. The situation seems to call for a story, and one written in the style of Jorge Luis Borges, the grand chronicler of the tragicomic struggle between humans and logic.

Essay - Theory, Literature, Hoax -

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Review - The Flight of the Intellectuals - By Paul Berman -

It is a good theme, and it has attracted the attention of other writers too — the British journalist Nick Cohen, for example, examined it in his estimable 2007 book “What’s Left? How the Left Lost Its Way.” Indeed, so fertile is this idea, so appealing is it as an object of inquiry, we may even speak of a distinct category of recent books devoted to elaborations of it. Richard Wolin’s “Seduction of Unreason,” on the intellectual romance with fascism, is a distinguished instance, written from the left. Paul Hollander’s “End of Commitment,” on intellectuals, revolutionaries and political morality, is another, this time from the right. The many books written in the last 20 years about the German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s complicity with Nazism represent further instances of the genre.

The masterwork, however, is still ­Julien Benda’s “Treason of the Intellectuals.” This book, written in 1927 by one of the leading French intellectuals of the early 20th century, may be regarded as the inaugural work of the line. Berman’s own books can usefully be read as restatements (in their own register, of course) of Benda’s polemic against his fellow intellectuals.

For Benda, the intellectual betrays his vocation when he compromises his commitment to universalist values. The temptation to make such compromises, he argues, lies principally in the appeal of national sentiment, to which intellectuals are quick to subordinate themselves. And the role they assume as nationalists is to conceptualize political hatreds. Benda, a supporter of Dreyfus, deplored the eagerness of some French writers to play this degraded, ignominious role.

Book Review - The Flight of the Intellectuals - By Paul Berman -