September 21, 2007

The State of the Revolution - Part 1

(Things are too fluid for meaningful analysis at the moment. A combination of a rant and impressions, this piece is too long for one quick read so I'm breaking it into two. Part 1 is a basic introduction that won't come as a surprise to anyone except REALLY partisan readers, all of whom have quit my blog anyway. Part 2 will follow shortly and consider the direction this so-called revolution is taking. Sneak preview: parallels with other revolutions are made! *gasp*)

Back in July, it was noted that the "The Bhodroloke Revolution" was a revolution but it's "bhodroloke" aspect was simply an ideological marketing ploy. The article linked above criticises the choice of ideological packaging to sell the product for a variety of reasons. It does not however say that it is an accurate description of the nature of this so-called revolution: "What happened on January 11 is a lot more complicated than the simplified picture put forward by the foreign advisor. But that simple picture by itself is highly important."

With events unfolding fast, let us look beyond the packaging and look at the coalition between those who took the Great Step on January 11th and those who have hopped on board since. Firstly, let me be clear as to why the ideological packaging is not as important in the current scenario. This incredibly media-savvy government obviously feels that the international community has bought it's product already. Remember, as has been pointed out in this space before, they can take the short-cut of censorship with the local media but not with the foreign. So far they've dealt politely and well with the foreign media with its two-second attention span and harshly with the local media. Which is the Great Tragedy (capital G? capital T? Deservedly yes!) of this current year.

So let us look beyond the packaging and at the product, the CTG. Now any regular denizen of the Bangladeshi blogosphere knows that die-hard Awami or "Nationalist" bloggers have been reviling this CTG as a "Rajakar/Jamaat/Shushil" and a "Indian/American/Shushil-led" government, respectively. Treating this government as a monolithic whole is enough for me to discount their opinions from the outset, before I even begin thinking about the ridiculous and the predictable epithets they usually apply.

The truth is that the CTG probably represents a much broader coalition of interests than the last government, and arguably broader than the last 2 before that as well.

So what can we gauge so far about who makes up this coalition? Well, first let's round up the usual suspects first:

1. the armed forces - the most "organized" segment of society

2. the BCS - "friends, not masters" who have an organizational memory of doing the daily grind for undemocratic governments that stretches back over a hundred years.

3. Political opportunists - following the footsteps of the original Bhodrolokes, the Jomidars of yore, Bhutto (deal-making Benazir's daddy), Moudud, Huda and other illustrious names who will make it into the history books (but as what?).

4. Islamists - In the history of Islamist political parties in Bengal (which I date from 1930s onwards, so don't bring Titumir in), no popular Islamist political party has come out in defense of democracy unless under the leadership of the mainstream non-religious party. On the other hand, they have sided with unelected governments over and over again and have even legitimised them using the all-powerful religion over whose "true interpretation" they claim to have a monopoly. It is therefore no wonder that Islamists in Bengal and Bangladesh have been and are about the least popular of the mainstream parties, inverting cases like Turkey and Egypt. If you do not respect the people (not Muslims, but all people), the people (including Muslims) do not respect you. Simple as that. (Consider this that post on my pet peeve with Islamism that I promised way back in May. It's really not worth doing a separate post on Jamaat and their apologists, willing to tolerate every vile anti-Islamic deed done by men with beards but ready to explode at the most innocent borderline deed committed by anyone clean-shaven and wearing a shirt and trousers.)

And now for the first-time offenders:

5) "Shushils" - Those former lefties turned liberals (aka centre-left) turned academics with foreign degrees who came back home to establish a few viable organizations and popularised the terms "civil society" and "corruption". They were indeed so "shushil" that they forgot that to be truly civil you had to include all sorts of non-government people: poor, uneducated, and (gasp) religious, instead of acting better-than-thou. Step up gentlemen, don't be shy. Newspaper editors, premier economists, and of course, our old "intellectual" pals. You know who you are. Please note, this does not include #4 through mutual loathing. Although asking each group to justify the other's exclusion is enough to give me a headache. (Full disclosure: I hate 'em both!)

Part 2
Part 3


jyoti said...

part deaux better not be like the matrix sequel.

asif said...

No promises there! But as long as Monica Bellucci stars in them.....

Anonymous said...

Asif, now you've got me completely distracted. Can your next post be about Monica Bellucci please?

asif said...

Mash try as I may I could not throw in a Bellucci reference in there. Jyoti bhai, hopefully this "revolutions" is better than the Matrix one. Your thoughts and inputs would be highly appreciated.

ZaFa said...

Hey...did you guys know that Bellucci was studying law when she tried out modelling to help her with college expenses?
Imagine what a waste it would have been if she became just another lawyer...LOL

Sorry back to "Revolution..."

tacit said...

How about degrees of separation?

Bellucci starred in Irreversible alongside Vincent Cassell, who played the Duke of Anjou in Elizabeth, which was directed by Shekhar Kapur, who is from India, which is the patron (in terms of ideas of multi-ethnicity and secularism) of a big chunk of group 5.

asif said...


News indeed!:)


Vincent Cassell is her husband as well. Have you been playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon a lot?:)

As for Indian ideological patronage, I feel that that is only partly true. It was part of Pakistani propaganda in the early Language Movement Days, and probably became a self-fulfilling prophecy in the 60s.

I don't quite know what you mean by the idea of multi-ethnicity. Multi-ethnicity is more a fact than an idea at this point. As for secularism, you forget that Indians themselves are in quite a "comprador" ideological position themselves when it comes to secularism (and nationalism too to a certain extent). Which is part of the reason Congress has been steadily losing ground to Hindutva parties. How can you be anti-Imperialist without fully embracing the same multi-religious Bharat Mata that you yourself had constructed while calling all demands for Muslim input "communalism"? That is Congress' dilemma, born out of Nehru's love of secularism and his religious people at the same time. We have to wait and see how it plays out. Hopefully Indian Muslims will weather out the storm and survive with dignity. Hopefully so will we.

tacit said...

Lol, no. I was just trying to give the vox populi what they demanded.