September 03, 2007

Ummm.... Ok.

Commenter at Drishtipat talking about the Daily Star's bias against the CTG/army.

Commenter at In the Middle of Nowhere talking about the Daily Star's bias against the politicians in jail.

Does anybody think that neutral institutions exist in Bangladesh? Anybody?


tacit said...

None that matter. And that's a good thing. We need institutions and people who'll do their duty when called on, neutrality is for babies and mad men (am I the first person to ever quote Begum Zia in a blogspot website?).

asif said...

Hahah... no I don't think you were, though I do see a relative dearth of BNP supporters in the blogosphere. I put it down to the conservative bent of mind of most BNP supporters that makes them allergic to new technology. I emphasize, "most" ...:)

Well, neutrality might be for babies and madmen, but the fact is that the lack of political neutrality of most of our institutions has meant that they've lost sight of their own interests as a group (which IMHO should be their duty). Everywhere I see only AL/BNP (and now CTG) wings. E.g. DUTA, FBCCI, MCCI and the old style newspaper houses.

That is why, despite their many faults, I still tend to like DS (PA not so much), because it tries to stand up for the media as a whole, instead of for one party or another.

Neutrality does not mean passivity.

Jyoti said...

Conservative bent of mind that is allergic to new technology??!?
Obviously you are quite unaware of the netijihadis international. Which is probably a good thing considering one is more likely to be picked up by the intelligence agencies of liberal west than our friends from uttarpara for blogging.

I don't think it's the conservative bent of mind of BNP supporters. Rather, it is more likely to be because of BNP's loss of support among the younger generation that is likely to be involved in blogging. If blogs were around in 1987, I'm willing to bet a fair amount of money that they'd be full of fire and brimstone after Khaleda's arrest.

asif said...

Hahah... No, it's hard not to know about those people if you watch Western media outlets.

But first things first, good to have you commenting on this blog again Jyoti bhai. Been a long time!

I confess, I was speaking more about BNP people than about conservatives in general. I also confess that my reasoning was probably fatally flawed as you have shown.

BNP people vs. conservatives in general: well, while BD Islamists fall into socially conservative spectrum as far as ideology is concerned. However, they are as "radical" as can be when it comes to tactics. This is something of a paradox, seen in other post-Afghan war Islamists as well (not counting Shi'a political groups here).

BNP for me represents the hardcore conservatism, in that it really is a coalition of the entrenched middle classes - disenchanted by what they see as the dangers of the new epitomised by the 71-75 experience - with honourable exceptions of course.

Younger generation: fine, I'll give you that. BNP is severely outnumbered among the younger generation, but then isn't every other conservative movement? Give these young ones (yours truly included!) some time to get cushy jobs and families and sell out to send the kids to college and the wives to the golf course eh?;)

More seriously, I agree with you to an extent. BNP hasn't exactly lost out completely, especially given TZ's popularity among the younger crowd around 2001-2002. BUT, you have to agree that this is also because the grassroots AL people seems to have picked up this new technology much faster than the grassroots BNP people. Which to me indicates either aversion to new technology or that I hang around the "wrong crowd":).

Most bloggers were not born with the internet, even less with blogs. I'm going to use 3rd World View as a standard, since consensus is that he was the first Bangladeshi blogger. If you look at the age of AL bloggers, they're probably significantly older than Rezwan bhai. So for them too, blogging was a new technology.

Part of it could simply be a rural-urban divide. Like in the US, urban areas in Dhaka tend to be more liberal and thus more AL-prone. As long as we remember that 80% still reside in rural areas, are generalizations about the younger generation really possible?

jyoti said...

BNP definitely has a strong conservative base in the originial, English Tory meaning of the word: social stability, law and order, private enterprise, national pride etc. But I'm not sure our cities are more liberal and pro-AL the way American cities are liberal and pro-Dem.

The stylised fact of the 1990s electoral politics was that BNP was lot stronger in more urbanised areas than AL. Even in 2001 election, outside greater Faridpur, AL won most of its seats in overwhelmingly rural areas.

Once upon a time our opinionmakers/antels/buddhijibis/susheels were of the sinister persuasion. In the 1990s, these opinionmakers were probably evenly distributed between BNP and AL, but as BNP tacked right, it lost the buddhiwallas. To the extent that bloggers are younger (not nec in literal sense) opinionmakers, they are not pro-BNP.

And of course, it is harder to be any kind of chintajibi and support a party that ditched B Chowdhury for no apparent reason.

Fugstar said...

Awami league leaning young liberals are more likely to have an ethical outlook that permits them to disclose their thoughts onto the blogosphere without drawing the attention of the internet thought police. With a worldview aggreeable to the status quo they are more likely to find like minded support on the web, amongst eachother especially through the university networks. Bangladeshi bloggers are generally quite a RANDy bunch i find.

The above mindset may not tally with the majority of party supporters, who i reckon are more traditional.

maybe heres a point, perhaps the other members of this pentalactic discourse are busier in less virtual spheres and obsess less with minute by minute details of politics in bangladesh while they are studying and learning abroad?

Buying into the idea of an open society is an ideological step that traditional society wont take. Discussing inside affairs outside is regarded with disgust and dishonour in bangladesh, despite what we do. This is precisely what i find most content is.

perhaps its not a technophobia, its more to do with the values in the technologies, one that it tends to inhibit and others it tends to promote. Im not even sure if people with traditional values see it like that, but I notice the differences in characters between differnt young deshi saplings.

asif said...

The thing I enjoyed about your perfectly useless contribution to the discussion here is your complete lack of evidence and that hint of paranoia lurking behind statements like "internet thought police" and "Bangladeshi bloggers are generally quite a RANDy bunch i find". Yes, Bangladeshi bloggers and RAND types really get along I hear. RAND people love the third world, and Bangladeshi bloggers are always saying good things about American hegemony. This is where your paranoia comes in. They both are allergic to selfproclaimed "Islamists", so yes all your ideological foes are alike aren't they?

"Internet thought police"? The Bangladeshi blogosphere is absolutely mild and over-polite. (Maybe this comment will change all that.) We don't call each other out on our own bullshit. I've tried it with a few group blogs, but won't go near the personal ones more out of courtesy than anything else.

I've been taking AL-ers to task here for the last few months without anyone having said anything or issuing threats or coercing me to change my point of view. (Oh, btw, maybe you can spare some sympathy for DU students who had to go through REAL police actions for protesting the beating up of their fellow student on day 1, instead of whining like an angsty over-privileged RANDy white suburban male about the "thought police")
I even have regular AL readers here. I mean, why aren't they here tearing me a new one when I talk about their excesses? Where is the "police" action. Again, NO EVIDENCE.

"A worldview agreeable to the status quo"? The only thing we can all agree on regardless of political hue is that the status quo in Bangladesh since 1971 is not agreeable to anyone. We all want change; we all disagree as to what change we want to see. Once again, you're horribly wrong.

Lastly, don't mind me mentioning this. But didn't you yourself talk about Bangladesh now and then on your blog? And do you not yourself reside physically in the UK, studying for a PhD I believe? And ummm... sorry for the minute to minute updates, but they seem to be popular with most of my readers. I guess people just love information. It's what helps them do the small things in life that you say they should be busy doing.

So, do me a favour, stop being an absolute hypocrite (as you just were with the "deshis abroad have too much spare time on their hands" bit. And start seeing things without ideological blinkers on (as you so aptly demonstrate time and time again). More than criticisms of AL-ers or supposed "liberals", what most Bangladeshis are particularly allergic to is hypocrisy. If we see a bit less of it, we applaud.

So last word and some unsolicited advice just for you from me (someone who's living outside Bangladesh and not studying and really trying to do enough to get by with some food, shelter and a few good laughs): your "political orphan" status is more due to your own intolerance, bigotry and lack of sympathy for the downtrodden, not because of your beliefs, "Islamist" or otherwise. My beliefs make me as much an "orphan" as yours make you. My attitude and sense of consistency means that I actually engage people and give everyone the same treatment. And there lies real orphanhood.

Anonymous said...

What Asif said :)

Fugstar said...

Theres no need to take observation as direct criticism and not everything in the blog universe is centred on bangladesh.

When i talk about status quo mdear is not about bd recent history and national birthing, it is about secularism, desacredisation and the propagation of liberal values in conservative societies.

Some deshis and civilisational fiddler wannabes cooperate on issues that they both make capital out off. I dont see how thats going to change any time soon. Its quite embarrassing actually, the lengths some people will go to.

The internet thought police isnt neccesarily deshi but i'll lump it with folks who censor and edit with relish. If such a witting element exists i think its desired effect would be to distract (Is personal evidence really a requirement, i mean it takes ages, and in open?) Your evidence is my sin, not fair.

Compare the beautiful web machinery, totally opt in and optoutable of course, of the proverbial left(sorry, centre left), with the proverbial right of bangladesh, to use only 2 sides of the pentagon. Just compare the cumulative time spent and decided to be spent on web venture. Look at the evolution from list servers to yahoogroups, to blogs and the different forms of activisms that people take part in.

Put it this way, i dont see shayk al hadis taking time out of class to blog on sultani era architecture.

You took the 'time on the hands' remark with unnecesary personalised venom. Theres a difference between that and wondering if people are neglecting their closer duties, which is none of my business really, but something i will freely admit i am guilty off. No need for accusations of hypocrisy.

Thankyou for the masterclass in my vice. Bigotry, intolerence(classic liberal) and lack of empathy for the down trodden (pseudo lefty). Strange conclusions from analysis of limited comments and blogs.

and i'll repeat the point of the argument about why the banglablogosphere is the way it is.

"Buying into the idea of an open society is an ideological step that traditional society wont take. Discussing inside affairs outside is regarded with disgust and dishonour in bangladesh, despite what we do."

asif said...

I'll add some more to that list of sins: incomprehensibility. Don't mind me getting too personal, but it's a trait I notice in British Muslims in particular: a sort of parochialness re-inforced by their religion and nationality/habitat that stops them from communicating with the rest of the world. Deadly combo if you ask me.

Intolerance and lack of sympathy for the downtrodden are vices not just by secular-liberal measures, but by Islamic standards as well. Any answers to that? Didn't get one the last time on DP either.

Your archetypes of "traditional" vs. "liberal" (those two are NOT opposites) are laughable really. Have you been reading a lot of Huntington lately? Why DO neo-cons and Islamists end up sounding the same?? The eternal question remains unanswered.

"Discussing inside affairs outside is regarded with disgust and dishonour in bangladesh, despite what we do." - tsk tsk. Such an open grovelling before those who hold the power to decide the "inside" and the "outside". Not to mention, that British parochialness at work again. And shame on those (not necessarily you) who decide to "takfir"-"out" people they disagree with. Far better to grovel before Allah who made me at home in the entire world. "Inside" is everywhere and "the world is my oyster" etc etc. But that's just me.

And please stop wasting my time with false analogies and sophistic arguments to weedle your way out of your unsupported arguments. We were talking here of the Bangladeshi blogosphere when you came in. So obviously you were referring to that, or should have made clear where you were making larger arguments.

I refuse to believe you're this dumb and doing a PhD. So obviously you know the false positions you take. Case in point:

"Put it this way, i dont see shayk al hadis taking time out of class to blog on sultani era architecture."

How many secular-liberal experts blog anyway? Give me examples like this when Debapriya starts blogging.

So once again, I repeat: you haven't added anything to my curiosity, why exactly is the Bangladeshi blogging ciruit more AL-minded than BNP. If you have the answer, fine.

Otherwise, please don't use it as an excuse to rant on about how much "policing" is done by the anarcho-Marxist-liberal-secular-atheistic-fascistic-developmentspeaking-hating everythingaboutme-"thought police". The internet is the wild frontier, no police here.

A better explanation is that either conservatism is unpopular as Jyoti bhai suggests or conservatives have an aversion to new technology as I've suggested. Saying that conservatives/traditionalists are somehow such gentlemen (or ladies) that they don't like washing their dirty linen in public is contrary to the evidence we see everyday: namely the rest of the media from conservative newspapers to religious program shows which aren't exactly ashamed to do just that. So why not blogs?

Probashi said...

Good old, fugstar complaining about people having too much time and blogging?!! This has got to be the height of hypocrisy. The local IKEA store in enfield is giving away mirrors for 3 quids. I suggest you go there right now and help yourself with one. At least the liberal bloggers write stuffs that are comprehensible rather than endless pompous holier-than-thou monologues and useless pontification.

tacit said...

I could advance another theory for the dearth of BNP bloggers online. Blogging really took off about when? 2001-2002? Same time BNP came to power. And why blog when your party's in power? So much easier to call someone up and get it done.

I know, that sounds horribly shallow, God knows there were enough things that BNP messed up during their five years. But that's my two cents.

asif said...

Good point tacit, but aren't we overestimating the importance of bloggers though? No one lobbies the government through blogs even in the US (probably the most advanced political blogging community). But leaving aside lobbying and thinking of it in terms of "venting", then yes, blogs make a great way to vent out your frustrations with a government, especially if you can't do so in real life.

Let's set up an experiment. Next time AL/ "left leaning" (not that AL was left or right or anything) come to power, let's see if the blogosphere shifts and how.

tacit said...

I think that that's a fair experiment. However, the AL is, I think, a lot of things to a lot of people, and given how it usually has tried to bear down the more centrist path after 1998 under leaders like Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Kazi Zafrullah, the late SAMS Kibria, Salman F rahman, Obaidul Quader, and so on, you may actually see the blogosphere shifting more left-of-centre, as the more idealistic and left-leaning of AL's supporters vent their bile for their party's supposed betrayal and incompetence. We saw a small indication of how that'd be in the aftermath of the MOU signed between Jalil and Khelafat Majlish.