Archive for October, 2007


mere mann yeh batade tu
kis aur chala hai tu
kya paya nahin tu ne
kya dhoondraha hai tu

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Poli Sci

I was trained for over three years in political science. I spent half of it doing conservative political theory, the other half focusing largely on the politics of development and certain developing regions.

I still don’t know what it means to be a political scientist.

Why is this paper not writing itself?

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Itne bazoo, itne sar…

One of my favourite songs, ever, is from the Hindi film Main Azaad Hoon. Itne bazoo, itne sar brings tears to my eyes, just about every time. This song is right in line with El pueblo unido jamás será vencido and The Internationale. In fact, you can see the references (certainly to the latter). Itne bazoo, itne sar was written by Kaifi Azmi — one of India’s leading leftist poets of recent times. Javed Akhtar (his son-in-law) wrote the screenplay, and I’m certain he had a hand in the lyrics of the song as well. Amar-Utpal composed the music.

Yet, it’s very hard to find good copies of the video or the song. But just last night, or, to be more accurate, this morning, I found some clips from the film (including the song in a couple of iterations) on YouTube. I also found a high quality mp3 of the song elsewhere. This was really serendipitous.

I’m presenting the clips here with my transcription and (awful) translation of the song — please feel free to correct or help me.

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A prayer

I pray that God will bless you in everything that you do. I pray that you will grow intellectually, so that you can understand the problems of the world and where you fit into, in that world picture. And I pray that all the fear that has ever been in your heart will be taken out, and when you look at that man, if you know he’s nothing more than a coward, you won’t fear him.

– Malcolm X in Selma, Alabama, on February 4, 1965.

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A contribution to the critique of politics, Part 2

Some of you may say, “Wait, Noaman, you still haven’t addressed the point Adnan made. What about good people?”

The reality of the political system is that to be able to get elected to begin with, you have to trade off a lot of things — like your integrity, dignity and principles. You trade them off to people in the party, to corporations and businesses that fund your campaign and your party, to the many rich individuals who do the same separately from their corporations, etc. (What about unions? We have seen, and we will see, how many of them end up colluding with the ruling classes. So what about the unions?)

Additionally, many of the people who have the means and opportunity to run for office happen to be from remarkably privileged occupations or backgrounds. I remember, a few years ago, watching Ernie Eves say how he understands the difficult of high tuition fees because his children have to go through university, too. But Eves worked in the private sector making millions of dollars every year. So what on earth is he talking about?

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A contribution to the critique of politics, Part 1

Fathima‘s written a post that revolves around the rally against poverty that was organized on September 26. The post questions the politics of rallies — featuring a conversation Fathima and I had some nights ago — but also brings up broader issues of political action and social change. The comments are also interesting to read, and that’s where I’d like to begin responding. Starting from the particular might help me build up to some of the broader themes I’d like to address.

Speaking against the efficacy of rallies as a tool for political change, Adnan says:

The way to bring about change it (sic) to really choose good people for government that will indeed bring about change. Don’t vote for anyone you don’t trust with your cat and plants.

Fathima responds:

have you seen the choices? Tory vs McGuinty. i wouldn’t trust them with my flipflops.

But let’s say we do have good choices. Let’s say that the NDP will probably win, and that we actually would trust these individuals with our cats, plants, flip flops, and whatever else. Does this preclude the NDP’s taking measures that are seen as being destructive and regressive? No, not at all. This is because — regardless of how nice they are — politicians have to conform to the constraints imposed upon them by objective, structural forces.

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Para todos todo, nada para nosotros

For the uninitiated, it might help to check out the rest of the comics series here.

Click on image for full size:
Che Lives

Che lives.

(This comic is based, almost verbatim, on a true story. Thank you, Sheila.)

Via Lenin.

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At some point, I think I will speak nothing but academese. I’m afraid I’m almost there as it is.

I’ve realized that — although I don’t believe in karma, as such — it would do me well to reflect on my hubris. I need to be more humble, more careful, more thorough and more patient. I need to keep an open mind and an open heart, otherwise, as one of my favourite professors advised me, “You only know what you know.”

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Elections Ontario’s advertising campaign for the upcoming elections features this brilliant piece:

Vote advertisement

I suppose one reads it as, “Voooaaaaaahhhhhte.”

The piece is particularly brilliant because it exposes one of the many inherent contradictions of liberal, so-called representative, democracy. This should be obvious to anyone with more than two and a half brain cells to rub together, upon viewing the advertisement. You see, when you vote for a particular candidate, you are — wait for it — letting someone else speak for you. Yes. And, in fact, it’s probably someone you’ve never met, or have met (so to speak) for the brief period of time the candidate (or the candidate’s cronies) spent talking to you on the phone or outside your front door. That is, of course, if you have a front door to speak of.

Now, I must admit that back in the day — even as recently as a year and a half ago — I was quite a proponent of electoral politics. It is one’s civic duty, I told my brother, to shuffle over to the Catholic school down the street and stuff a ballot in the box. He spoiled his ballot. Far ahead of me on that one.

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