ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home    ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more) 

Google
 

Information can flow in seconds today when earlier it had taken days. It has benefited researchers and also ordinary

persons. But it has benefited more the stock exchanges, speculators in Tokyo and Paris, in London and New York.

The transnational corporations can negotiate mergers, exchanges, freeze stocks, stop production, all on global scales.

 But information technology is most effectively used by criminal syndicates. The networks of illegal

traffickers in weapons, in narcotics, in explosives are global and efficient.

 

 

Neo-Liberalism: Dictatorship of the Market

By M.P. Parameswaran

 

The word ‘globalization’ like many other words such as ‘socialism’ or `participation' has been used to denote many concepts, sometimes quite contradictory. So also is the word ‘liberalism’. We use these words with a specific understanding. Globalization does not, for us, mean the ever-expanding vista of human civilization or the shortening of distance across the globe due to improved transportation and communication. It does not mean the slow, but certain, spread of science and technology and ability to survive, to far off corners. It does not mean internet and the treasures of knowledge it has made available to all who can use it. These are not the products of what we call globalization but agents which have facilitated it. We mean by globalization the incessant movement of speculative capital, of enterprises, of goods and services across the globe; we mean by it the so called free market, in fact a dictatorship of the market controlled by super-powerful transnational corporations, we mean by it the enforcement of the will of global capital, whose political and military godfather is USA, across the world through economic, political and wherever necessary, military coercion.

As was pointed out earlier, capitalism cannot survive without continuously expanding production and exchange of goods and services. For this it should have control over natural resources and markets all over the world. Capitalism emerged and evolved rather spontaneously, in Europe, four centuries ago. The story of its global expansion, of colonization, of wars for control over colonies are all well-known. No need to repeat them here. Since it all started as an opposition to feudal and princely powers, since it enlisted the broad masses of the people, it was called ‘liberalism’ at that stage. Capitalists required the liberation of economy from the clutches of lords and kings.

They conceived the concept of "Abstract Market," an omnipotent entity capable of delivering maximum happiness to maximum number of people. It was given the best theoretical foundations by Adam Smith. The essence of this theory is that neither the State nor any other regulatory authority shall interfere with the ‘free’ functioning of the market, that market can regulate itself to the best interests of all. The deceptiveness of this argument has been well explained by Karl Marx and Frederic Engels. We also know that Lenin’s characterization of the early 20th century imperialism as the highest and last stage of capitalism was correct. Capitalism could not have endured in that form any more. It led to two world wars. It led to persistent economic crises. Finally, liberal, market- controlled capitalism was temporarily abandoned and in place came up the concept of ‘welfare state,’ as advocated by Keynes.

The success of the Russian revolution, the economic strength exhibited by it, the series of revolutions that took place subsequently—all these accelerated the transformation of capitalism from ‘ the dictatorship of the market’ to the concept of a `benevolent welfare state.' This helped capitalism to survive. Its essence still survive in the Scandinavian countries. Welfare State was not, however, compatible with the essence of capitalism, which advocates survival of the strongest in the battle-ground of the market. Quite akin to the Olympics of ancient Rome, the rules of this battle were neither fair nor just. The capitalists always had the State’s support, of its police, courts, jails and army. The State was theirs.

When, towards the end of 20th century, the socialist experiments began to degenerate, more through subjective causes than through objective reasons, liberalism began to reassert. The first results were Reaganomics and Thatcherism. When the final collapse came in late eighties and in 1990, liberalism came out in its new form—neoliberalism—controlling the sovereign states through economic bondages and wherever necessary through military force. It was liberalism in new form—neo-liberalism—because the main ‘commodity’ being exchanged in the market was ‘ finance capital’ or speculative capital. The equation is no more M1-C-M2, but M1-M2-M3. Capital transactions form more than 98% of the total global trade. Capital got almost delinked from production or to put it more scientifically, productive capital is enslaved by speculative capital.

And, therefore, to save the situation, many economists argue for delinking the two. And this is the essence of ‘localism,’ which we will discuss in detail later. Before that, let us look into the present situation a little deeper. One can see several long- term tendencies :

(i) Increasing inequality: vulgar enrichment of a few and abject impoverishment of many;

(ii) rapidly decreasing reserves of natural resources and increasing levels of environmental degradation;

(iii) increasing loss of human behaviour patterns which have hitherto helped the species to survive.

All these were visible even a century ago. However, there were people who put forward the simplistic argument that the rich, after all, will have to spend their wealth in this world only and in the process it gets redistributed among the poor. When a country as a whole becomes rich, whether the rich like it or not, a part of it will reach the poor too. This argument is known as ‘Trickle-down Theory.’ In the long run the gap between rich and the poor will necessarily have to come down. This theory is not only wrong but also a falsehood. The rich-poor gap has always been increasing. The poor have become poorer, the rich, richer. Look at Table 1. It shows how much the per capita income of nine rich countries in the world has grown up from 1960 to 1990 and 2002. It also shows the situation of nine poor countries. The incomes given are in terms of Purchasing Power Parity dollar. The table is constructed from Human Development Reports of 1993 and 2004.

In the sixties, the average per capita income of the richest 20% of the world countries was 30 times that of the poorest 20%. By 1997, this has risen up to 86 times. Inequality had doubled. The wealth of three richest individuals in this world is more than the combined wealth of 35 poor countries in the world. The total wealth of the top 200 individuals exceeds the combined wealth of the poorest 41 per cent—2400 million of the world population. One rich = 12 million poor! 2% of their wealth per annum is sufficient to give primary education to all children in the world.(9)

Table 3.1 Per-capita income of nine rich and nine poor countries in PPP dollars

RICH COUNTRIES

Country

Income PPP $

 

1960

1990

2002

 

1. USA

9,983

21,499

35,750

 

2. Switzerland

9,313

20,874

30,010

 

3. Canada

7,758

19,232

29,480

 

4. Sweden

6,483

17,014

26,050

 

5. France

5,344

17,405

26,920

 

6. Inland

4,718

16,446

26,190

 

7. Austria

4,476

16,504

29,220

 

8. Japan

2,701

17,616

26,940

 

9. Spain

2,701

11,279

21,460

 

           

POOR COUNTRIES

Country

Income PPP $

 

1960

1990

2002

 

1.Zaire

379

367

- -

 

2. Afghanistan

775

714

- -

 

3.Chad

785

559

1,020

 

4. Africa

806

768

1,170

 

5. Somalia

891

834

- -

 

6. Liberia

967

857

- -

 

7. Sudan

975

949

- -

 

8. Madagascar

1,013

704

740

 

9. Zambia

1,172

744

840

 

           

Not only between countries, but also within them, inequalities have been increasing. This is particularly so in the erstwhile socialist countries after the collapse of the socialist experiment. These countries as well as the Scandinavian countries, which followed welfare economics both in spirit and body were the most egalitarian in the world. The inequality factor measured as the ratio of average incomes of the richest 20% and poorest 20% used in the range 3 to 4. Today, in the old Soviet Union areas, it is about 14. Brazil, which embraced neo-liberal globalization quite early, continues to be one of  the most inequituous countries in the world, the inequity factor being about 96. USA also is very inequituous-inequality factor being 57. Even in the case of Scandinavian countries it has doubled, to 6-7. World over, inequity has increased and is increasing. In many countries, even absolute poverty has increased. This is an inevitable consequence of neoliberalism—of the dictatorship of the market. 

The experience of the initial phase of liberal economy was not different. By the middle of the 19th century India, together with many other colonies, had been forcefully linked with global market. Viceroys taught by die-hard liberal economists were ruling India. During the second half of the 19th century, under the reign of Queen Victoria, two devastating famines struck India—first during 1859-1860 and second during 1897-1901. The severe droughts had caused grain production to drop down by about 20 – 30%. But this was not the cause for famine which killed, according to the most conservative estimate, 13 million people. Some estimates put the toll at 29 million. There was no cash with the village farmers and agriculture workers. There was no employment. Whatever surplus grain they had with some farmers were exported out of the area and out of the country. The Viceroys banned relief works like food for work, grain subsidy and grant, etc., citing that such measures will be interfering with the 'freedom' of the market that is freedom to make money, causing starvation. The great Indian Railways did a yeomen service to these free marketeers by quickly transporting grains from the hinter land, where it was not safe surrounded by hungry millions to the safe coastal towns from where it could be exported profitably. (10)

Capital Runs Amuck

In the stock exchanges across world the daily transaction of shares is amount to a trillion and half dollars. The value of goods and services produced in the entire world per day will be only about 2% of this. These money exchanges have practically nothing to do with production. They are merely speculative exchanges. A new terminology has emerged: Casino Capitalism. It is interesting to have the changes that has taken place in the character of market transactions from commodity exchange to money exchange. The different stages can be depicted as follows:

Commodity – Commodity C – C 

Commodity – Money – Commodities C – M – C 

Money – Commodity – Money M – C – M   

Money – Money – Money M – M – M

Barter

Money as mediator

Capitalism

Casino Economy

The stock exchanges are no different from the gambling dens in Las Vegas, Atlanta City or Monte Carlo. The capital involved in stock trade has very little to do with the production process. It is no longer a part of the classical quartet: Land – Labour – Capital – Organisation. Unfortunately, through structural adjustments and liberalization of capital market, the whole economy and the productive activities of the developing countries are strongly bound to the footloose speculative capital. In order to safeguard the economy of any country, it has to de-link the speculative capital from productive capital and provide protection for the later. This is partial or selective de-linking. Footloose capital impacts not only on developing countries but developed countries too. Productive capital has no qualms in flying without any notice from one country to another where it can earn more profit. Yesterday, the enterprise was working. Today, when the workers reach the factory it is closed. The machinery may be there—but the factory has been relocated in another country. Their families are impoverished. Small shop owners, schools, banks, barber saloons and other enterprises lose customers. They too are forced to close down. The town loses its vitality. It becomes a ghost of what it earlier was. Even the US is replete with such ghost towns.

Economy: The economic insecurity engendered by neo-liberal globalization in developing countries is well demonstrated by the quick cascade of events in 1997 – 99 period which emaciated the so-called `Asians Tigers’—South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, etc. During the 1990 – 95 period, the net foreign direct investment in these countries was about 90 billion dollars. In the 1997-98 period, 12 billion dollars were just withdrawn. Their economy collapsed like a house of cards—the GDP came down by 11%.13 million people were thrown out of employment. The prices of essential commodities shot up. Real wage level came down up to 40-60% in Indonesia. Arson and looting became commonplace. Law and order broke down. True, they have come back to a partly stable situation, but not to the original glory. The behaviour of finance capital has become totally unpredictable. It flows madly across the globe, round the clock, thanks to internet revolution. Though it can be consciously used by the power to be to kill opposition, often even they lose control over it. Capital becomes autonomous, free from the capitalist. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina—all have been reduced to grinding poverty by finance capital—this is neo-liberalism.

Employment: Global expansion of neo- liberal capitalism made it easy for enterprises to merge, to relocate, to dilute rights of workers, to destroy job security and to reduce social security measures. In fact, neo-liberalism demands all these. Unemployment in Chile is about 30%, in Columbia it is 39%. No wonder, it has become the narcotic capital of the world. Even Europe could not escape the vagaries of footlose capital. The unemployment level remained about 10% for more than a decade. About 35 million unemployed. All new jobs are created in the informal—totally insecure—sector.

Health: AIDS is a disease which has spread all over the world like a wild forest fire—a truly globalized phenomenon. By 1998, 33 million persons have been afflicted. Every year 6 million new victims emerge. It has spread to even isolated corners on the globe. In developing countries, every day 16,000 persons are added to the list. The life expectation in nine countries in Africa will be, by 2010, less than what it was in 1960—17 years less than what it is today. The Botswanian people have come to the conclusion that within one generation, they are all going to die and are in a mood to enjoy their remaining `Decameron Nights.' In the process, they are accelerating self- extinction. And what do neo-liberalists do? Make money. Sell drugs at exorbitant prices! The more the demand for drugs, the merrier they are!

Culture: In the beginning of the last century, Gandhiji exclaimed : I don't want to be shut up within the four walls of my home. Let the cultural winds from all over the world blow into it, freely. Still I will stand firm on my soil, on my culture. I will not be blown away. Unfortunately, his followers lost their hold. They were blown away. The indigenous cultures all over the world are being blown away and replaced by one culture that of capitalism, one of consumerism. America exports more dollars worth of films—filthy ones at that—than even narcotics. It is said that in 1997 Hollywood films have cashed, globally, 37 billion dollars. Television is the most wide spread and the quickest of all media today. Together with internet system, it has shrunk the entire globe into one village (or town!), reduced it into one mono-culture.

This has created a sense unsettlement which can not be explained, but only felt. A sense of insecurity. The overall level of real insecurity for individual human lives, integrated world over, is increasing. It could be direct physical threat from local people running beresk, it could be from road rage, it could be from wars and it could be from natural calamities triggered at by global warming and climatic changes. The economic insecurity and the cultural degeneration are kindled in human minds their `reptilian instinct'. This has led to unimaginable increase in crimes of various kinds.

The consumption of narcotics is rocketing. Even in the former socialist countries, which earlier led a relatively stable and settled life, crimes related to narcotics increased by 8 times during the 1990 – 1997 period. Flesh trade is booming. Every year, about half a million girls and women are `exported' to West European countries by these traders. An annual business of 7 billion dollars. The US can be proud (or ashamed!) that it has got maximum number (and percentage) of people in jails. The criminal syndicates have strong global networks. They are stronger than UNO, their annual business is about 1500 billion dollars. They can buy or bury any political leader, industrialist, police or defense officer anybody. They use information technology most effectively! 

Environment: Capitalism cannot exist even for a day without expanding production of goods and services. This we have noted. Production involves use of natural resources and release of wastes to the environment. An eco–catastrophe is looming large over the horizon. Global warming, unpredictability of weather, natural disasters like tsunamis, twisters, droughts and floods, drying up of rivers, dwindling ground water wealth, desertification, declining health of soil, loss of biodiversity, reduction in marine life, ever depleting stock of fossil fuels and minerals . . . all these and many others have put  humans and the entire life on earth in a situation of ecological insecurity. Yes, neo-liberalism accelerates this, because it is a system of the 'dictatorship of the market,' which is ecologically insensitive. 

Nation, Society: Political and communal tensions and strife's are concomitant products of the sense of insecurity described above. Instances world over are numerable: India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Chechnya, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Israel . . . the list is too long. It has been estimated that during the eight years between 1989 and 1998, 61 armed conflicts have taken place. Of these, as many as 58 were internal conflicts. Increasing bitterness of religious fundamentalism and blind terrorism result from this sense of individual social and national insecurity. The basic reason for the 9/11 suicide attack on the World Trade Centre was the criminal expansion of capitalism world, impoverisation, cultural collapse, social insecurities—all caused by neo-liberal globalization.

Species Madness: And today the entire human species has begun to lose the ability to think rationally. They have invented a new rationale to justify the present—wars, treachery, killings, profit-mongering, in fact, everything: humans are by nature selfish. Selfishness is the basic characteristic of the species. Collectivity, sense of brotherhood and even the concept of family all are qualities artificially created by the society. Basic instincts are prone to come up at the slightest provocation. There is a small element of truth in it, but much of it is false too. The basic characteristic of any human being, for that matter any life form, is to remain alive, to resist death. This is an individual, biological quality. Whatever it does can be attributed to selfishness. But the word is normally used not to connote instincts, but conscious actions. Another characteristic of any life form is reproduction—maintaining the species. For all higher forms of life this requires. To gather food and to save oneself from being eaten by others, even the less evolved life forms depend on collective action.

In the case of humans, this collectivity is highly evolved. Humans were weaker than many contemporary animals. The species survived because it learnt to act collectively. Human language greatly helped this collectivity. Those individuals in the pack who lacked in collectivity, who didn't have the propensity for collective action, gradually must have got eliminated. The survivors were those who had a general propensity for collective action. Hence collectivity is not merely a cultural attribute, but an evolutionary character. Once the social environment begins to discount collectivity and uphold the animal principle of `survival of the strongest,' `the species is likely to become extinct not because of external enemies but due to internal fights. Humans are gradually losing the sense of being one in a community. Even the strongest ties, the family ties, are broken.

This is most widespread in the so-called advanced capitalist countries. In the US, in Europe, in the metropolitan towns of the developing countries, that warm and soothing relationship amongst father, mother, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces . . . all that make humans humane are being weakened and destroyed. It is a sad fact of history that humans, while enlarging the collectivity from the family to the tribe, to the nation, to the world, did not succeed in strengthening of these ties. But, because of being humane, humans are able to realize this weakness and so can rectify it and guide its own social evolution. But today it has to be stated that humanity is affected by a sort of 'species madness.'  Many other species have become extinct because of this type of collective loss of evolutionary behaviour patterns.

Limits to Growth: One marked symptom of this madness is the greed to consume, consume more and more. As if afraid that nothing will by left behind because others will consume. This is so evident in the so-called developed—in fact, they are diseased—societies. In these societies, there is a mad growth in the number of gambling dens, five-star hotels, roads, cars, throwaway culture, etc. One of the causes for the failure of the socialist experiments of the 20th century, as noted earlier, was its inability to distinguish human (socialistic) consumption and capitalistic consumption. Even today, China is trying to ape the US in all its follies.

The 1973 Club of Rome report "Limits to Growth" was most violently opposed by socialist thinkers. Some of the figures given in it were questionable. But the essence was not. Today there is no argument regarding limits to natural resources. Table 3.2 below gives a recent (1994) estimate of the duration of availability of certain selected metals at the then existing levels of consumption. These levels are increasing, because developing countries have to increase them for mere sustenance. So, in fact, the exhaustion period could be even shorter.(11)

Table 3.2 Availability Period of Certain Metals

Metal

Years 

Aluminum

Iron

Nickel

Mercury

Tin

Copper

Lead

Zinc 

207

152

59

45

41

33

22

20

There is the question: What do we mean by sustainability? By this we don't mean availability for one generation, not even for hundred or thousand years, but for millions of years. Maybe, we can discover new materials to substitute these metals. But they too have limits. The only way for long- term sustainability is the possibility of cent per cent recycling—to get back the desired materials in the desired form from extremely diluted conditions from wastes. Technologies are to be developed for this. It will demand substantial amounts of energy. Fossil fuels will suffice for only one generation or two. The only long-term solution is the ability to extract solar energy effectively. All these have been pointed out elsewhere in this book. However, the pressing importance of this have not been understood either by politicians or by scientists. The latter includes the scientist-president of the country of Mahatma Gandhi, who speaks about nuclear bombs  and missiles and not solar homes!

The conflicts—which have become endemic for control over the Gulf countries, continuing for at least the past half a century—have their origin in the scramble for the last resources of oil. In essence, every conflict has at its root, this narrow economic self-interest. Today, the mode of existence of the human species is one of mutually destructive conflicts and not of creative cooperation. The great question is this: can we reverse the situation? The answer: potentially, yes.

A Paradise for Criminals: There are a few who argue that globalization offers a few goods things too, besides the above- mentioned economic—political—social threats. For example, the time contraction made possible by the information technology revolution. Information can flow in seconds today when earlier it had taken days. It has benefited researchers and also ordinary persons. But it has benefited more the stock exchanges, speculators in Tokyo and Paris, in London and New York. The transnational corporations can negotiate mergers, exchanges, freeze stocks, stop production, all on global scales. But information technology is most effectively used by criminal syndicates. The networks of illegal traffickers in weapons, in narcotics, in explosives are global and efficient. Today this is a major empire, overruling nation- states. The Sicilian mafia, the Japanese Yakusa, the Arab Al Khaida.... these are terrifying names. It is disconcerting to note that though outwardly all these are illegal setups, their leaders occupy in many countries, rulers' chairs. Politics in almost all countries is highly criminalized. This is true of the US or India, of Italy or Pakistan. All age-old social contracts are being broken down. It is urgent that humanity formulate new social contracts. If humanity is to be diverted from the present suicidal path, a new society has to be created. Another world has to be created.

And Another World is Possible. Capital is running amuck and humans too.

Source: GeocitiesAnother World Is Possible—Thoughts about a Fourth World, Chapter Three

*   *   *   *   *

Dr. M. P. Parameswaran, author of Empowering People: Insights from a Local Experiment in Participatory Planning, received a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from the College of Engineering, Kerala, India in 1956, and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Moscow Power Institute in 1965. He was a scientist with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, from 1957 to 1975. Since 1975 he has been a full-time activist with the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP). Dr. Parameswaran also currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) and as the Chair of the Total Health and Sanitation Mission, Kerala.

The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (which literally means the Science Writers' Forum of Kerala) has earned wide acclaim for activities related to generating environmental consciousness, literacy campaigns, and decentralized, micro-level planning. The KSSP is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (dubbed the alternate Nobel Prize) in 1996, the UNESCO Literacy Award (King Sejong Prize) in 1990, the UNEP's Global 500, and the Vriksha Mitra award.—IndiaTogether

M. P. Parameswaran is an Indian nuclear engineer and eminent science contributor. He is an atomic scientist and educationist of India. He played an important role in Indian Nuclear program. He was born on January 18, 1935 in Kerala. In 1956, he received Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the College of Engineering, Kerala. He then joined Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay in 1956 as a scientist and continued there up to 1975. From 1969 to 1973 he also worked as the assistant director of the State Institute of Languages in Kerala, on a deputation from BARC. He got PhD in Nuclear Engineering from Moscow Power Engineering Institute in 1965. . . .

MP is also a prolific writer. He has written 29 popular science books in Malayalam and two in English. His books give a panoramic view of science. Radioactivity, atomic science, Astronomy, Mathematics, political science, social science, ecologythese are some of the varied subjects he has dealt with in his books. A vision of "A New WorldA New India" guides his thoughts and actions. He was the recipient of two national awards, one for science popularisation and another for literacy. Articles written by him in various periodicals run to more than 300. He has received Government of India awards for Books for Neoliterates (1962) and Basic and Cultural Literature (1964). He also received an Award for Children's Literature in 1982.

He was also an active member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) for 33 years, before being expelled for writing an ideological book 'Fourth World' which envisions a world based on decentralised democracy and an economic production that is detached from consumerism, but the party views it as a rejection of Marxist principles. In 2007, he also acted in a Malayalam movie named 'AKG' about the Communist leader A K Gopalan in which M. P. Parameswaran donned the role of Kerala's first Chief Minister E M Sankaran Namboodiripad (EMS).Wikipedia

*   *   *   *   *

Social ideas of an n-scientist

While suggesting alternatives to globalisation, he said direct action, both defensive and offensive, was required and we have to clearly declare it a war-like situation. "Let us declare a people's war against sell-out policies, against fundamentalism, against cultural degradation, against consumerism and against mafias of all form. This is a war to save the human species from self-destruction, to free human beings from animal limitations, to realise the true human potential," says Dr. Parameswaran, the spirit behind the formation of the All India People's Science Network

Dr. Parameswaran, who has blended Gandhism with Marxism and his own type of Socialism, has devised new forms of offensive defence against the aggression by the so called corporate world, which he calls ``corporate mafia''. He suggests an extensive and intensive boycott of goods produced by the trans-national corporations. He preferred developing smaller technologies for producing quality goods for all and organising a mega network of consumers and cooperative societies involving millions of households.

He suggested that a massive citizen education programme of more than one year's duration be envisaged to educate all about the ill-effects of forced globalisation and the benefits of local self-reliance. A cultural offensive to be used against cultural imperialism by organising scientists, artists and writers. The natural resources available in various States, he said, should belong to the people and shall not be allowed to be sold over to private profiteers. Luxury, conspicuous and extravagant consumption should be considered as unethical and anti-social. It is immoral to have a star or stylish living in a country with so much of poverty, ill health and illiteracy, he said.

*   *   *   *   *

A Fourth World outlook

To know the world does not mean knowing only the word. One has to learn from interactions with the world. The literacy campaign was initiated in 1989. At a discussion in Delhi, where the UNESCO director general and many important people from the Government of India were present, it was argued that it is not possible to mount a campaign for literacy in India. This is because, elsewhere where there was such a campaign—Cuba, China , Tanzania, Burma or Russia—there had also been a major social upheaval. So a literacy campaign could only succeed either with or after a social revolution, but not before it. Since there was no semblance of any revolution in India, such campaigns could not succeed. Our own experience has been that on the basis of science we have been able to mobilize people for campaigns, ranging from the silent valley movement to lectures on astronomy. In fact, in 1987 we mobilized tens of thousands of people for a major science campaign, the Jan Vigyan Jatha. So we argued that it is not necessary for literacy to follow social revolution. Rather, literacy could accelerate social revolution. They said there was no precedence for that. I said that anything which is first cannot have precedence. So, let us try it first.

However the initial trial should be in a place where it is easiest to achieve success, viz. Kerala. This is because in Kerala, the literacy level was higher than in other places. In addition, the KSSP was a very large organization with 40,000 members and units everywhere. It had a lot of credibility, and the Ernakulam district collector at that time was a former vice president of the KSSP. He said that he would be game to such an experiment which would help make Ernakulam 100% literate. So, we joined forces and the government of India gave about Rs. 1 crore. We then had to mobilize about 15,000 volunteers to educate approximately 170,000 people. These volunteers conducted saturation propaganda through face to face discussions, multimedia and street theater. They visited every household. Ultimately 160,000 people enrolled, and of these, 130,000 became literate. This meant that they could read and understand around 35 words per minute, write 7 or 8 words per minute without mistakes, and perform numerical calculations with two digit numbers. Beyond this, we took each of them on 3-4 visits to the police station, post office, bus stand, collector's office etc. Most of the villagers were afraid to go to these places. So this exercise helped to increase their confidence level, and reduce their fear of the bureaucracy.

This achievement in Ernakulam caught the imagination of people all over the country. Similar campaigns were started in Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu), Bijapur (Karnataka), Midnapore (West Bengal), and Durg (Madhya Pradesh). The following year, it spread nationwide.

However, the term 100% literacy is used figuratively. In reality, nothing is 100% - about 70-80% of people may be functionally literate, while the other 20% may be marginally literate. So anything above 90% should be known as total literacy and not 100% literacy. But even that term is a misnomer when expanded to the rest of India, and should instead be referred to as a mass literacy campaign.

Nevertheless, total literacy became a fashion and about 400 districts in India took it up. Every collector and minister took it up as a prestige issue. The result is that about 120 million people participated in the literacy campaign. Of these, about 20% became totally literate, while the rest could only sign their name. But even this was a massive process which required a volunteer force of more than 10 million. Each volunteer committed about 400 hours per year. During the process, the outlook of the volunteers changed by discussing with and learning from groups of people who had enrolled in the campaign. Many of the learners were more knowledgeable than the volunteers. The volunteers knew only the alphabet. So, an interesting relationship started. As a result, the demand for primary education shot up since these people wanted their children to be literate. Initially there was extreme cynicism, and to break that we needed plenty of optimism.

This achievement may not be called literacy per se. Rather it could be referred to as an increased level of awareness because of the increased demand for education and active involvement. For instance, movements like the Nellore anti arrack and the quarry workers' women's movement developed as a result of this campaign.

posted 27 November 2011

*   *   *   *   *

Fourth World Essays

Afro-America & The Fourth World 

The Black Middle Class & a Political Party of the Poor  (essay)

Dark Child of the Fourth World  

The Fourth World and the Marxists

The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast

New Orleans: The American Nightmare

On the Fourth World: Black Power, Black Panthers, and White Allies

Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators

 

Other Fourth World Essays

African America A Fourth World  (Waldron H. Giles)

Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out   (Dennis Leroy Moore)

Fourth World Introduction (M.P. Parameswaran)

 Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist  (M.P. Parameswaran)

The Fourth World Multiculturalism (Rose Ure Mezu)

Fourth World Programme M.P. Parameswaran)

Neo-Liberalism Dictatorship of the Market  M.P. Parameswaran)

The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World  M.P. Parameswaran)

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

*   *   *   *   *

Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

*   *   *   *   *

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

 

 

 

update 17 April 2012

 

 

 

Home  The Economy  Amin Sharif

Related files:  Fourth World Introduction     Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist    Fourth World Programme   The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World