This week Venezuela, Zionism in the Congressional Black Caucus, and Gandhi and the anti-colonial movement are discussed. We received comments for “Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Times” and “Will New Black-Jewish Caucus in Congress Advocate for Israel?” We also received more feedback for radio segment “Gandhi’s Struggle Relevant to 21st Century Anti-Imperialism”and “Philadelphia to Celebrate Mahatma Gandhi and the Black Freedom Movement.” [These pieces refer to an initiative this writer is involved in. This writer authored the latter piece.]
In “Philadelphia to Celebrate Mahatma Gandhi and the Black Freedom Movement” Jahan Choudhry provides an analysis of Gandhi’s importance as an anti-colonial theorist and leader in light of a Philadelphia campaign to commemorate him in his 150thbirth anniversary. Dr. Anthony Monteiro argues that activists must look to Gandhi to complete the movement from colonialism and imperialism to freedom, justice, and socialism.
Youri Smouter wrote in last week about these articles. He follows up to the authors’ responses from last week by writing:
“I'm dismayed by Dr. Anthony Monteiro reactions to the legitimate criticisms of Gandhi and the inflammatory remark that Arundhati Roy is a ‘bourgeoise liberal.’ That's just not true if you read her book about the current state of India, Capitalism a Ghost Storyand her many writings and comments against India's trajectory towards ‘western modernization,’ her support for the Maoist rebels in India, her criticisms of what she calls the Hindu corporatist state of India and its media organs then that comment just doesn't hold water. On Gandhi she simply is reminding people to not overlook Gandhi's part as being controlled opposition and part of the Indian National Congress which is part of the Indian Misleadership Class which has failed decade after decade in eliminating the caste system and sectarianism and if we explored the often overlooked dark side of Gandhi, not just on caste but his own racism against our own black folk it would give answers as to why the Indian National Congress has been an obstacle to ending extreme poverty and the caste system in India and why our anti-colonial/imperial struggles have a hard time building solidarity and united front. So sadly the type of reaction Dr. Monteiro and others have displayed proves my point that though we should honor elements of Gandhi and his influence on non-violence and civil disobedience we shouldn't lionize him as an infallible deity, especially when he was often times controlled opposition and when it came to Black folks in South Africa he saw us as the untouchables in a racial pyramid -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg with Gandhi..”
Jahan Choudhry responds:
“The question is not whether Gandhi or other anti-colonial leaders were infallible or not. Also, I fail to see how Gandhi, who led the first successful major anti-colonial movement of the 20thcentury, can be a ‘misleader’ for not being perfect. The problem with this criticism, or that made by figures such as Roy, is that it makes the fallacy of arguing that the incompleteness of Gandhi’s anti-colonial project means that it is morally and politically wrong. Simply because Roy and her ilk criticize the West does not mean they are anti-Western. A revolutionary and anti-colonial analysis must not just critique but offer an alternative. The best alternative to the Western imperial project is offered by the anti-colonial project of the 20thcentury, of which Gandhi is an ideological and moral pillar. By attacking the anti-colonial movement as fundamentally flawed, Roy and others leave no alternative for the majority of humanity other than the European enlightenment project or romantic but directionless violence such as Naxalism. This radical chic may appeal to Westernized Indians and Western activists but it remains at its core another variant of bourgeois liberalism.
“As for the allegations of anti-black racism against Gandhi they are based on sentiments he had when he himself was in the process of shedding the Western education he absorbed in Britain. Much of the language he used and beliefs he had are not so different from how Westernized African elite described the African masses. The maturing Gandhi had to undergo a process of shedding his elite education and thinking that set a precedent for many future anti-colonial leaders. I reiterate the recommendation to read E.S. Reddy’s detailed piece on the evolution of the Mahatma’s views on Africa and Africans. The crystallization of Gandhi’s thinking on the unity of Pan-Africa and Pan-Asia resulted in independent India’s commitment to decolonization in Africa and the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement as a powerful Afro-Asian bloc. The smears of the anti-Gandhi critics are a direct attack on this anti-colonial process. The completion of this process in our time is the most crucial task in building a world of peace and justice for the darker peoples of the Earth.”
In “Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Times” Celina della Croce discusses the hybrid war on Venezuela and the ways in which the significance of its battle against imperialism is the same as Vietnam’s was during the Cold War.
Youri Smouter writes:
“Interesting the Vietnam comparisons, I would also add that Venezuela is the Haiti of our, the Nicaragua and Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Grenada of our times, as once again a democratic socialist government or social democratic government is under sieged, slandered as a communist one party tyranny, and enough Western NGOs and enough controlled opposition leftist are helping in the slander and the beat to war. Sadly, there is no global protests against Venezuela like there was against World War I, the Vietnam War or the second Iraq War, no one arguing in conversations or placards and protests like Iraq "NO War for Oil" and instead the pathetic excuse of a left we have in the West with regards to Venezuela, want socialist reforms at home but ironically imperialism abroad in Venezuela. So sadly, Venezuela isn't the Vietnam or Iraq of our times, it is the Manifest Destiny and Scramble for Africa of our times due to much of the Western governments and other forces endorsing this grotesque act of imperialism the Maduro government and its mass supporters face.”
“Will New Black-Jewish Caucus in Congress Advocate for Israel?” by Josh Reubner examines the founding of the new caucus and the ardent Zionism and Islamophobia of leading Jewish representatives in it.
Bobby Floyd writes:
“It’s sickening to me all these new quasi-Black Caucuses they are creating. (I just learned last week that there is a Black-Caribbean Caucus). These things aren't empowering us, but only help to destroy Black political power and render us irrelevant.”
Ben Eli Osterburgh writes:
“Never underestimate how conservative and fearful establishment Democrats are, and CBC is no exception. Rep. Lewis should take a good look in the mirror and think about retiring from the Black Misleadership Class.”
This week we got into some important debates. Let us continue discussing the controversies and central questions of the day on this page.
Jahan Choudhryis Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
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