And then, sidelined in the evolutionary arms race, with our fates sealed, what else will there be to do other than lean back and watch as the flame of consciousness leaps forward without us...and try to enjoy the spectacle. We can only hope in his new society – his brave new, non-human, world – that our place will be comfortable, despite its insignificance...I’m guessing it will be boring. He’ll remember me though; how could he not...all the times I’ve been wrist deep cleaning up his faeces...I think I’m owed a little extra.
But the writing had been on the wall for quite a while, and Sabyasachi Panda should have recognised it. In 2009, a reporter from the Indian Express newspaper travelled to Naxalbari to see if Charu Majumdar‟s grand statement, “Naxalbari has not died and it will never die” had stood the test of time. An elderly resident, Abhijit Mazumdar, explained: “You won't find any traces, no matter where you go in Naxalbari. Memories have been systematically obliterated. People are too afraid to speak even now.” A young child in the same village was asked if he was scared to enter the nearby Tukuriya forest, where the Maoists once operated from. The boy innocently replied “We go to the forest regularly. There are no Naxals [Maoists] but there are snakes” (Indian Express 2009).
A faint scent of pepper spray in the breeze; someone, somewhere is getting their money’s worth. I hadn’t come prepared for this: knee-high plastic boots and a large 10 cent garbage-bag, strategically cut so that it can be worn as a raincoat, that’s all! Nothing more needed. Not a great look I know: black sheet plastic from neck to knee, black rubber from knee to toe. I look a little like a homeless SS officer. As odd as it might seem, this is a shrewd calculation – lazy, scruffy and ill-coordinated fits the scene here
When asked to reflect upon the death of his father, Canadian academic and former politician, Michael Ignatieff described the feeling as ‘losing the audience to his life’. Parents give us our first taste of fame; from infancy most of us are fawned over in our every step, smile and stumble. We become accustomed to the idea that someone will always care about the details of our life, no matter how mundane; we become accustomed to the idea that there will always be eyes on us.
Rebelling desperately against the dying light of their usefulness, your average North Korean studies department has gradually become a hollowed-out shell of intellectualism. Atmospheres of fetid starvation where professors and researchers pick desperately over the fleshless carcasses of decades-old publications; where any depths can be plunged, and any lengths can be gone to in the hope of prolonging dying careers.
However, this also represents a selective and favourable understanding of LWE support, often relying upon anecdotal evidence, weak correlative data, a glossing over of ‘push’ vs. ‘pull’ factors, and by simply overlooking a number of statistically integral dynamics as merely peripheral. The rise of, and support for, LWE violence in India is also well correlated to high levels of corruption, low literacy rates, and the presence of easily stolen resources (such as explosives on mine sites); and has considerably stronger statistical correlations (above and beyond issues of development) to the rise of societal fear from conflict in neighbouring districts, with hard to access terrain (heavily forested areas), and with high population densities of lower or oppressed castes.
Romney, almost certainly has, once again, misread the mood. He has mistaken hatred for Trump as love for himself. The Republican Party has been as clear as she could be about her feelings for Mitt. Yet from a few kind gestures, and ignoring all other contrary indicators, Romney has managed to manufacture a false signal and a false intent that conveniently matches his internal desire.
If only by the sheer weight of probability Donald Trump was eventually going to achieve some tangible good. Until now most sensible political observers have managed to be thankful for his presence – though be it grudgingly – only as a means to broaden the debate. This should end immediately. Trump’s indiscriminate trashing of political correctness and the boundaries of common decency has finally hit upon a very worthy cause – the moral character of Hillary Clinton.
On paper Libya was a no-brainer: a situation where the international community could not reasonably avoid taking a more active role. Whereas in Egypt it was sufficient for global powers to simply withdraw support from the regime in order to help facilitate its downfall, Muammar Gaddafi was a different animal altogether. After threatening to suppress local uprisings with "rivers of blood" the international community were – quite out-of-character – quick to act. Before long Gaddafi was dead and Libya was in the hands of the Arab Spring.
The tableau of humanitarian intervention remains frozen in a moment. In October 1993, the deaths of eighteen soldiers in Mogadishu shattered the resolve of the American public – within a matter of months American troops had been completely withdrawn, and a year later the United Nations did the same. Left behind was what UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar referred to as “the most serious humanitarian crisis of our day” – 4.5 million people in need of emergency humanitarian aid, 1.5 million at risk of immediate starvation within a country razed of infrastructure, and in the midst of a decades-long civil war.
The Empire of Japan brought to its knees by Russian forces who were so short on supplies that they were invading on horseback, and the United States winning the final battle of the Second World War only by default – this would not do. It was simply more prudent for both sides to champion the importance of the nuclear blasts, particularly so for the Truman administration who were only too aware that their decision to approve the bombings would sit better in history if it had a neat and matching justification.
The sheer fact that we are not talking about it means that it has died! With all the harm that we are currently seeing in Syria and Iraq, the Doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect – or R2P – should be rolling off our tongues daily, and should be echoing in the language of our politicians. In the absence of such a prominent role, it is now increasingly obvious that what was once a promising ethical development has, in fact, died a quiet death whilst still only in its embryonic stages.
So it is that 20 years ago this week, after a seemingly endless besiegement, Bosnian-Serb forces officially "liberated" Srebrenica. Three days later the gears shifted, the violence became systematic, and Europe was witnessing its first genocide since the Second World War. However, more than just a ritualised act of remembering, the anniversary of Srebrenica offers a series of lessons that are still pertinent today.
As long as the Armenian genocide remains forgotten, and as long as justice is allowed to be contingent upon the cooperation and goodwill of the perpetrators, we must accept that we are creating an international culture of impunity: an environment where human rights and moral responsibility can be taken à la carte, and an environment that rather than protecting against genocide, actually cultivates it.
We are simply too accustomed to the idea of self-hatred, and too accepting of blame for the violence of others. When someone attacks us, our first instinct is to think that we must have brought it on ourselves, that we must have done something provocative. So we accept the self-professed narratives of those who wish us harm, and we buy into their claims of grievance, rather than viewing their violence as it should be: unjustified, self-created, and mitigated by nothing.
It is a strange moment when you begin to feel compassion for someone whom you otherwise consider to be a moral monster. We ordinarily prefer our moral decision-making to be a fairly easy and straightforward process, yet such moments make this impossible. This is certainly the case when it comes to considering the now-exonerated, former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, David Hicks. The nature of his incarceration, the plea-deal he signed, the artificial legal case against him, all demand from us a semblance of sympathy – sympathy, that his support for terrorism makes unbearable.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott began this week under attack from his own political party. To try and assuage those Liberal members who wanted him removed, he presented himself as a “chastened” man: “I’ve listened, I’ve learned and I’ve changed”. As this week comes to an end, very few of his colleagues are likely to still believe him.