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After Bandung: Marxism’s exit from the Third World

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On 18 April, exactly 65 years ago, the Bandung Conference took place with the participation of 29 countries, almost all of them ex-colonies. This is the first in a series of essays examining the Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, and their eventual dissolution.

By Uditha Devapriya

The postmodernist intellectuals of continental Europe who grew up adulating Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin had, by the time they left university and become policymakers or thinkers (or both), grown cynical of them. Ernest Mandel characterised the post-World War II order as ‘late capitalist’. I make this point because it’s futile to deny the parallels between the intellectual trajectory of postmodernist movement and the path capitalism took during this period. That link, as it stands, is essential to any critique of postmodernism.

Postmodernists, especially Foucault, Baudrillard, and Lyotard, gradually came to believe in the futility of political confrontation, and substituted notions of discourse and hegemony – the latter ‘borrowed’ from Gramsci – for the more fundamental dynamic of labour and class relations, which, after all, is what Marxism is supposed to be about. Frederic Jameson’s famous description of postmodernism as “the cultural logic of late capitalism” must be seen in this light; in shying away from political confrontation, he argued, it had succeeded in abdicating from its rightful task and sustaining the status quo.

Jameson wasn’t alone. Terry Eagleton and Christopher Norris made the same critique, from a different perspective. So did Ihab Hassan, Immanuel Wallerstein, Jurgen Habermas, Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank, and Aijaz Ahmad. Samir Amin and Gunder Frank, while basically disagreeing with one another, agreed that postmodernism, under the pretext of offering an alternative to Marxism, cut off the debate over disparities of wealth, income, and power from its working class, economic roots. Particularly in the Third World.

Aijaz Ahmad wrote of the emergence of a new intellectual movement, among Third World émigrés in the West, which “continued to call itself a formation of the left” while removing itself from the labour movement and at the same time invoking “an anti-bourgeois stance.” For Ahmad, this movement, an outcome of the continuous pummelling of anti-imperialist thought by the political right in the West, got propped up in the name of similar movements like anti-empiricism, structuralism, and post-structuralism. This critique of postmodernism, the most relevant yet to the Third World, continues to be made even today. But for every such critic and critique, there is always a fellow traveller.

Edward Said adopted Foucault’s notion of ‘discourse’ as the foundation for his critique of orientalism. As much as I am inclined to believe in what Orientalism talks about, at times Said comes across as an anti-ideological intellectual who finds in the very discussion of the orient by Westerners their supposedly condescending attitude to the East. As Irfan Habib, no opponent of Said, once asserted, “Said’s concept of ‘orientalism’ is both far too general and far too restricted,” general since it can cover anyone who professes to talk and write on the topic, and restricted since by doing so, it excludes the possibility of discussion about the orient by Westerners who are not Orientalists.

However, my critique of Orientalism, and Said’s name-calling, goes much deeper than that. My issue with Orientalism is that Said conflates Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, both neo-conservatives who supported Bush’s crusades in the Middle East, with Karl Marx, the latter “dismissed in the book as another orientalist.” I have my take on how Marxists, particularly European Marxists, viewed the problems of the Third World. They were, to be sure, Eurocentric, and fundamentally of the belief that ex-colonies required bourgeois democratic revolutions; a grave misreading of the ground reality, given the inability of bourgeois elites in ex-colonies to carry forward any such revolution even within the framework of a Non-Aligned Movement.

Said’s reading of Marx’s position on India, though, does not follow this critique, or even reproduce it. Instead he suggests that Marx, like the orientalists he targets, ‘otherised’ the people of the Third World with his argument that colonialism sped up the destruction of feudalism; in essence, that India needed Britain to help destroy its superstitions and feudal practices, just as Iraq, in the eyes of Lewis and Ajami, needed Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to escape the clutches of a brutal quasi-medieval dictatorship.

The point I’m trying to make is that Said, while offering a radical reading of how politics, economics, literature, and art and culture, (the latter’s impact on Orientalism explored in greater depth 15 years later in Culture and Imperialism), shape the First World’s view of the Third, turns the tables on Marxism itself. He doesn’t do so from the vantage point of Left theorists like Amin and Gunder Frank. He does so from the vantage point of postmodernism: Foucault and his notion of discourse, which writes off all “grand narratives” as domineering, and writes off Marxism since, like capitalism, it domineers.

Amin and Gunder Frank didn’t turn Marxism on its head as much as critique communist theorists for misunderstanding the ground situation in the Third World, especially in their support for the Non-Aligned Movement (read, in particular, Amin’s essay “The Bourgeois National Project in the Third World”). Yet they were critical of postmodernists also, whom they saw in the same light vis-à-vis Jameson, Eagleton, and Norris. I believe their rebuttal of the movement offers us a nuanced reading of it that can help us understand, more clearly, how it came to subsume the Marxist movement in the Third World.

Historically, postmodernism has viewed Marxism as part and parcel of the Enlightenment. It regards the Enlightenment, not as an emancipatory movement, but as a restrictive ideology which bound everyone to a rational worldview. What flows from that line of thinking is the claim that Marxism originated from the same Western Judeo-Christian worldview capitalism had: both, after all, happened to be driven by “the hubris of dedication to man’s mastery over nature” (Regi Siriwardena). This observation, sceptical as it is of the ‘internationalist’ character of Marxism, is made by rightwing ethno-nationalists as well.

Thus the most typical and frequently invoked critique of Marxism by the postmodernists is that it belongs in the same vein as bourgeois thought to the Enlightenment. A corollary of that critique is that Marxism reduces everything to class struggle; communism and socialism are therefore indicted as assuming that everything falls down to class relations. I disagree with such a stereotype: as Jason Schulman once pointed out, “for Marx the fundamental human category is not class struggle, but labour.” Indeed, I’d go further than Schulman and say that the fundamental human category for Marx is neither class struggle nor labour, but production, “the basis of social order” according to Marx and Engels.

But valid as this counter-response is, it still doesn’t resolve another complaint: that Marxism rationalises everything in economic terms. Postmodernists contend that this underlies its quintessential flaw: its rigidly economistic interpretation of history, which views all societal arrangements through the prism of material relations.

The flaw is followed by a contradiction: to topple a social order and the basis for it, power has to pass from the top of society to its bottom.

Yet the transition can only be carried out through a bourgeois revolution, by the bourgeoisie at the top. This orthodox Marxist reading of history lured much of the Third World, including Egypt and, to a certain extent, Sri Lanka, which explains why, in part at least, the Non-Aligned Movement failed: much of the Third World that emerged from Bandung 1955 happened to be led by the same nationalist elites who later contributed to the deterioration of their countries, and of NAM, due to their inability to take the revolution in their streets beyond the bourgeois-democratic stage.

Liberating and progressive as they were, towards the end of their terms, leaders like Nasser had become adamantly opposed to the incorporation of radical Left elements. In Sri Lanka this culminated in the expulsion of the Trotskyist LSSP in 1975 (the same year the Group of 77 supported New International Economic Order attempted, and failed, to integrate the Third World into the global economy) and the entrenchment of the right wing of the SLFP, leading to their defeat by the UNP in 1977. As with Sri Lanka, so with Egypt: the dissolution of Communist parties in 1965 was followed two years later by the catastrophic defeat of the June war. By 1982, with Mexico’s debt default, NAM had more or less unravelled; with much prescience could J. R. Jayewardene thus declare, at the 1979 Havana Summit, that the only nonaligned countries in the world were “the United States and the Soviet Union.”

Development economists, theorising against the backdrop of the Third World debt crisis and the ‘triumph’ of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism, as well as the collapse of the Non-Aligned Movement, thought they had the solution to this problem. They reasoned that the intelligentsia, as opposed to the elite, should be tasked with ‘delinking’ underdeveloped countries from the clutches of capitalism. In their opinion the rulers had failed, miserably (“the regimes were nothing but bourgeois,” wrote Samir Amin); the time had come for the baton to pass from them to the professors.

Later events confirmed that this solution turned out to be more flawed than the one they chose to discard. Why? Their solution was rooted in a critique of capitalism that first had to lay bare its contradictions and then transcend it. “The critique,” Samir Amin emphasised, “is meaningless unless it sharpens our awareness of the limitations of bourgeois thought.” But the intelligentsia on whom this task fell, at the time Amin wrote his prognosis, had changed, and its capacity to take on that task of critiquing the capitalist framework, and transcending it, had diminished. Just as the professors no longer adhered to orthodox Marxism, they also no longer opposed globalisation. There’s no other reason why the dependenistas, as Gunder Frank and Amin were called, failed in their project than this.

To understand why and how, it’s necessary to go back. Throughout the 1960s, Third World immigration to the West swelled considerably. This happened to transpire at the peak of the Bandung Project, when much of the nonaligned world as Fouad Ajami later put it seemed buoyed by the “enthusiasm of youth.” Ajami himself soon made his way to Western citadels of learning; so did Ranajit Guha, and so did Edward Said.

Because of that intellectual shift, the 1970s became a productive period for studies of the Left, feminism, and development in the Third World. Gunder Frank and Samir Amin were at the forefront here, along with George Beckford (Persistent Poverty), Eduardo Galeano (Open Veins of Latin America), Gordon K. Lewis (The Growth of the Modern West Indies), Eric Williams (From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean), and Kumari Jayawardena (The Rise of the Labour Movement in Ceylon). S. B. D. de Silva spent the better part of the decade collecting his thoughts for the most perceptive analysis of Sri Lanka’s economy ever written: The Political Economy of Underdevelopment, first published in 1982.

As Aijaz Ahmad correctly observed, many of these academics hailed from the upper classes of their societies. They would have cut a poor figure in the West, but back home they were eagerly sought after as experts by their governments for the formulation of economic and foreign policy, against the backdrop of a rising New Third World. (NAM was yet to enter its twilight years.) Most of these émigré intellectuals managed, in their new role as Third World policymakers, to escape their largely non-working class social background. Many could not. This paradox, between their social class and their status as Third World intellectuals, did not come out into the open just yet.

But then the 1970s would give way to the 1980s. That decade saw the resurgence of neo-liberalism in the person of Thatcher, Reagan, and before them, J. R. Jayewardene of Sri Lanka. In much of the Third World, the transition to ‘free markets’ invariably accompanied brutal centralisations of power by the political Right as well as assaults on the Left (including on trade unions, as seen in July 1980 in Colombo), and, concurrently, the rise of a parallel non-state sector; I call the latter ‘civil society’ in deference to a classification favoured by most scholars. Émigré intellectuals, some of whom had worked in the public sector, now found their place in the sun in that non-state sector.

Accompanying all this was the rise of an alternative non-Marxist discourse, fuelled in part by these émigrés from the West who were now writing on orientalism (Said), Islamism (Ajami), and subalterns (Guha). While not giving up on their Marxist roots, many of these émigrés repudiated – sometimes rightly, often wrongly – the tenets of Marxism. Some, like Ajami, sold themselves out to neo-cons, becoming what Adam Shatz of The Nation calls “the native informant.” Others, like Said, tried to achieve a balancing act, veering away from Ajami’s pro-Western polemics and from fundamentalist groups which would gain prominence after the 1980s. These three ideological formations – neo-conservatism (Ajami), post-Marxist humanism (Said), and cultural revivalism – soon began to brandish swords at one another; no common ground ever brought them together thereafter.

Save, of course, for one: their sidelining of Marxism.

The intrusion of postmodernism in the Third World can thus be viewed in the same light as the resurgence of nationalism on the one hand and the triumph of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism on the other, given their mutual aversion to the Left. The dismissal of Marxism by Third World émigré intellectuals can be considered, in that sense, as having facilitated the rise of anti-Marxist nationalist as well as post-Marxist postmodernist groups throughout much of this part of the world, particularly in Africa and South Asia.

Certainly, it is one of the ironies of history that the same anti-Marxist discourse which gave birth to communal-nationalist outfits could also, later, give birth to post-Marxist intellectual movements opposed to them. These have become, to borrow that memorable but worn out cliché, two sides of the same coin, or the same sword. The triumph of postmodernism in the Third World today has hence led to both sides – civil society and ethno-nationalists – gaining at the cost of the most progressive ideology we have ever come up with: Marxism. I called this one of history’s ironies. It is also, most certainly, one of its tragedies.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

 

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Sat Mag

George Floyd, African-Americans, and Sri Lanka’s Estate Tamils (Part I)

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By Uditha Devapriya

Over two weeks, the George Floyd protests spread practically everywhere. From Kansas to Kenya, from Baltimore to Berlin, they turned into symbols of dissent against not just the racism, but also the xenophobia, of White America.

One of the most haunting images to emerge from the demonstrations was that of a young Sri Lankan girl, draped in the flag of her country, posing defiantly on the streets of an American city. The image and the girl in it attracted both support and opposition, the latter coming from militant Sinhala nationalists who felt she dishonoured a national symbol by using it as a sign of civil disobedience involving a domestic issue of another country.

The response of the nationalists to the George Floyd uprisings was, if at all, amusing. One section of this crowd took to social media to condemn White America for exhibiting its racist, chauvinist face yet again. Another section – no less big or significant – took the opposite stance, censuring those protesting against the murder of a black civilian because, to them at least, Floyd’s murder did not warrant the rampaging and the pillaging of public property. To the latter group, these protests seemed disproportionate to what they regarded as an instance of police authority enforcing the law over a minority community.

The few within the nationalist crowd who did support the raging protests were, even more amusingly, taken to task on social media by another group, this one ideologically opposed to nationalism. The latter crowd seemed to think, not without justification, that the nationalists sharing posts and posting comments against White America were myopic: they seemed to sympathise with George Floyd, but not with the Tamils and Muslims of Sri Lanka, whom the anti-nationalists alleged are as discriminated against over here as George Floyd’s community is over there. Thus both nationalists opposed to the protests AND anti-nationalists critiquing the selectivity of those supporting the protests persisted in comparing African-Americans to the Tamils and Muslims of Sri Lanka.

In that sense the protests taught us two important lessons. Though they don’t form the subject of this essay, they are relevant to it, and hence need to be examined.

Firstly, the inability of many Sinhala nationalists to take their struggle against neo-colonialism and Western hegemony forward. Resistance to colonialism has historically formed the bedrock of the Sinhala nationalist lobby, yet their denunciations of this uprising betrayed a failure to think beyond geographic borders. This came out quite despairingly in their reaction to the only local political party that saw it fit to organise a protest in front of the US Embassy. The government’s crackdown on the demonstration didn’t seem to ruffle their feathers, nor did the point that the demonstrators were making.

Secondly, and just as importantly, the inability of local left-liberal outfits to come up with a proper front, in Sri Lanka, against the George Floyd murder. The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) organised the protest against the US Embassy, while the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) organised a discussion on it online. But neither of these belongs to what is traditionally labelled as “civil society.” The point can be made that the issue at the centre of these protests was not Sri Lankan and that is why civil society ignored it, but that excuse pales away when one considers that the moment sections of the nationalist crowd let out their anger at the US’s handling of the protests, certain social media civil society activists focused their energies more on pointing out the hypocrisy of the nationalists.

Despite the hostile exchanges between the two factions, one particular point brought them together: their comparison of African-Americans to Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims. They underscored this comparison from two different vantage points.

Thus the nationalists who critiqued the protests seemed to believe that, like extremist Tamils and Muslims, African-Americans and other minorities in the US were unfairly questioning the legitimacy of rule by an ethnic majority. Those opposed to the nationalists, on the other hand, inadvertently, by their critique of the nationalists’ sidelining of Tamils and Muslims, equated the latter two with the community which Floyd hailed from. The question to be asked here is whether such an analogy is, if not plausible, then at least tenable.

In 2011, a year before Barack Obama won election for a second term, Vinod Moonesinghe wrote a cogent reply to someone who in an article had wished for a Tamil or Muslim to be elected as this country’s leader. Vinod made two points there: considering Obama’s win as a win for all African-Americans failed to distinguish between his class origins and those of most African-Americans; and equating African-Americans with Tamils and Muslims was anachronistic, given the economically privileged status of the latter two groups.

Taking class and caste into consideration, then, Ranasinghe Premadasa’s election win seemed closer to such a comparison than the potential coming to power of a member of a “minority.” Taking class, caste, AND ethnicity into consideration, the analogy would have to extend, not to Jaffna and Colombo Tamils, Moors, and Malays, or Borahs and Sindhis, but instead to a community that, like the blacks of the US, was imported as dirt cheap labour, cut off from the rest of the population, and supervised under a setup no different to the plantations of the southern US. In other words, the migrant Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Before making an analogy between these two groups, though, it would do well to reflect, very briefly, on the historical trajectory of slavery in the West.

Following the Arab invasions of the seventh and eighth centuries, Europe turned inward. The eminent historian Fernand Braudel has written of a “second serfdom” that sprang up in parts of the continent where feudalism failed to give way to capitalism. The result was the growth of a kind of slavery, white slavery, across the East, in what is now Russia; it’s a testament to the legacy of the trade which emerged there that the word “slave” derived from the ethnicity of those marshalled into it from that region, Slav.

With the influence of the Arabs and the Ottoman Turks after them waning after the fall of Granada in 1492 (the same year Columbus “discovered” the New World), a liberated Europe, discovering hitherto unchartered colonies in the Americas on one side and Australia on the other, gradually instituted a system of indentured white bondage.

It has been estimated that around 67% of all white immigrants to the new colonies arrived there as servants. These immigrants were bound to a contract that compelled them to work for an overseer, without pay, over a specified period of time. Most often such contracts were drawn for those who had a prior obligation to these overseers which they couldn’t meet, such as a debt. Since the government usually didn’t interfere with these contracts, extortion and kidnappings became common, as they would among Africans later on. The situation was such that even in as late as 1910 the US government was trying to put an end to white slavery: the White Slave Traffic Act (or the Mann Act) that year made it a felony to transport women across state borders for the purposes of “prostitution or debauchery.”

Debt bondage, however, applied in the early period only to white immigrants to the white colonies, and the Irish; the difference between their situation and that of African slaves was that the latter were never recruited to pay off an obligation; most of them ended up as lifelong labourers, unpaid and treated as chattel or property. As Liam Stack once observed, “[u]nlike slaves, servants were considered legally human.”

To put this in its proper perspective, the position of those shipped to the sugar plantations of the West Indies and the cotton mills of the southern United States fitted that of neither indentured servants nor wage labourers. The process of recruiting and transporting these Africans, in the long term, thus became, as Gordon K. Lewis put it, “quasi-militarised”, while once quartered in the plantations their owners did everything to isolate the unfortunate immigrants, prisoners really, from the world outside.

Revisionist historians, white and black, have tried to understate the full weight of black slavery, either by pointing at the involvement of African intermediaries in it or by showing that European Christians became as entangled in it as Africans.

Thus Robert Davis (Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters) argues that while the Atlantic slave trade was 12 times as large, more Christians than Africans were captured between 1500 and 1650, while Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (“How Many Slaves Landed in the US?”) contends that of the 10.7 million Africans who survived the passage to the West, “only about 388,000” were shipped to the United States. What these “findings” fail to show is that black slavery was not geographically limited to the US, or for that matter to Western Europe, and that from 1530 to 1780, when more than five million Africans found themselves dispatched to Portugal and Brazil, only about a million Christians were forced into servitude in North Africa, along the Barbary Coast and into the Ottoman Empire.

The Abolitionist movement, no doubt representative of a progressive, enlightened wing in the Evangelical Revival, agitated for African slavery’s end. It did this as much for moral reasons as for pragmatic ones; the rise in Britain of an industrial Whig bourgeoisie over a landed Tory gentry and the expansion of British interests in Asia and Africa had by then necessitated the rise of plantation colonialism. It is hence not a coincidence that African slaves in the British West Indies were emancipated by official proclamation in the same year (1833) that the most ambitious set of administrative proposals were tabled in Sri Lanka (Colebrooke-Cameron) to lay the foundation for the new colonial plantation economy.

Against this backdrop, black slavery soon receded to countries where a white settler class predominated, including Rhodesia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. S. B. D. de Silva in The Political Economy of Underdevelopment refers to these as “settler states”, a distinction I will return to later. In any case, what we have here is the first of many differences between the plight of African-Americans and that of Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims.

Plantation colonialism demolished and also made use of existing traditional political, cultural, social, and economic patterns in much of Asia and Africa. The most immediate result of that, of course, was the impoverishment of the peasantry; in Sri Lanka, as we know, the peasantry most directly affected by these policies remained the Kandyan Sinhalese.

Marx was largely correct in his comparison of British domination of India to that of Ireland. He was more prescient in the implication that the British brought with them to the colonies their experience in subjugating the Irish peasantry. Two policies make it clear to what extent they were following the Irish example in India and Sri Lanka: the expropriation of peasant land, and the pursuit of divide and rule. I shall turn to these next week, and with them, the growth and evolution of Indian migrant labour.

To be continued next week…

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Sat Mag

Imagine yourself being fried and eaten bit by bit

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I cannot make up my mind: Is the meat eater, who eats dead animals killed in slaughterhouses, worse than the meat eater who kills the animal himself while eating it?

There is a certain type of person who goes to a restaurant, chooses a live fish, octopus shrimp or snake in a transparent aquarium tank, has it taken out of the glass and killed and cooked in front of him. His only reason for this to himself is that the meat should be “fresh”. In actual fact some people truly enjoy suffering. That, for them, is as important as the taste.

What can I say about people who enjoy eating these foods?

The Chinese Ying Yang fish is fried but kept alive. You can see videos of diners prodding at the face and eyes with their chopsticks while the fish struggles to breathe with its mouth and gills. It is prepared extremely quickly, with care not to damage the internal organs, so that the fish can remain alive for 30 minutes. Fish are the most sensitive of all to pain. Imagine yourself being fried and then eaten bit by bit.

In Japan, Sashimi, which means pierced body, is a common Japanese dish consisting of fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces and eaten with soy sauce. One kind of Sashimi is Ikizukuri (“prepared alive”) made with live sea beings. Fish and octopus are common ingredients that move on the plate as you eat them. Sashimi could also include live frogs. The frog is stripped of its skin while alive and stabbed delicately with a fork and eaten. One restaurant in Shinjuku serves the frog’s fresh, still beating heart, as starters. Lobsters are not always boiled alive and dead by the time they reach your plate. Restaurants in New York serve lobsters while they’re still alive. They are upturned and diners pick out “belly sashimi” from the lobster which flails in pain for all the time you take to slash and take out his stomach meat. Another common dish in Japan is swallowing live baby eels dipped in vinegar and saké.

In South Korea, Sannakji is a dish that involves hacking the tentacles off a baby octopus and serving them still wriggling. Sannakji connoisseurs enjoy the sensation of the still-active suction cups on the octopus’ arms as they stick to the mouth.

The Chinese cannot be bested for their addiction to cruelty. Live shrimp are put into a liquor called Baijiu and diners bite their heads off while drinking it. This can give you lung fluke disease, but what is more important than proving your manhood by killing a shrimp. In China there is a dish called “Three squeaks” in which live baby mice are dunked in sauce and eaten alive. The reason why it is called “Three Squeaks” is due to the sounds the mice make when grabbed with chopsticks, dunked in the sauce and bitten through.

Raw live baby monkey brain is a very expensive dish eaten by rich people in China and Hong Kong. The chef puts a live monkey beneath a table with its head poking up through a hole. The chef slices the top of the head off and the customers eat its brains while it screams. Fresh baby donkey, or Huo Jiao Lu. The animal has its legs tied and its body held down, while the chef cuts its body and serves the meat immediately to customers.

Live baby duck embryos, just a day from being hatched, are a famous Chinese specialty which is now common in the Philippines as well. In the latter country it is called Balut. The Filipinos eat the egg boiled. The Chinese eat it raw to get the full taste of the egg white, the little yolk left, and the live squirming chick. No wonder the Chinese make such dangerous enemies. They love violence and gore.

Odori ebi or “dancing shrimp” is a Japanese sashimi in which the baby pink shrimp is still moving its legs and antennae while being eaten. The shrimp only dies when chewed. Odori Don is a live cuttlefish whose tentacles twitch as you pour the soy and chew it.

Consuming the beating heart and blood of live snakes is common in Vietnam. You choose the live snake at roadside stalls and they cut it and serve it within a minute. I have seen this in Hong Kong. In China people eat live baby snakes.

Sea urchins are the porcupines of the sea; globular animals with long spines to defend themselves. They live on the seabed. But their spines cannot protect them from human greed. They are caught and served live. Their testicles are a delicacy across the world, specially Europe. The live animal is cut on the plate with scissors and its salty gonads are taken out and eaten raw.

The most common animal to be eaten alive is the oyster which is served alive. Its spine is broken, and its insides are slurped up raw. This was originally a French dish but is now eaten all over.

A famous chain of restaurants in Copenhagen serves salads crawling with live ants supposedly to add a zesty taste. These move slowly because they have been kept in the fridge previously. Wichetty grubs are chewed live in parts of Australia. They are said to taste like nutty fried eggs.

Casu Marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese eaten in Italy.  Its specialty is that it contains the live maggots of the cheese fly, which jump about in panic as you scrunch them. Casu Marzu has so much ammonia in it from its faeces that it scorches the tongue. Milk cheeses containing living insect larvae are produced in several Italian regions.

Television game shows that I have repeatedly complained about to the Ministry over the years is Fear Factor and Survivor where contestants eat live insects, spiders, cockroaches and worms. But by the time they take action, the series is already over. Then we start the cycle again with the next series. Man vs Wild is another show in which Bear Gryllis shows his manhood by eating live insects.

What is the word for people who demand food that is so full of pain? Monsters? Ugly terrifying evil beings that are probably a menace to human society as well. 

(To join the animal

welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.

peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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Sat Mag

The elephant and alli mankada

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By Ashley de Vos

In 1999, a proposal was made by the undersigned as President of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka, to document from the existing information in the Department of Wildlife Conservation, held in the archives of Mr. Wilson, an erudite Officer, and draw a map showing the original Alli Mankada, as they existed prior to 1977. Many ‘Experts’ objected, that they had all changed. They had all changed, yes, but we were after the Ayurveda solution to the problem, instead of the ampicillin solution of the western educated experts.

As a quick fix an ampicillin solution in the form of an electric fence was promoted and installed at enormous cost. This we all know has failed. These elephants for centuries have travelled from A to B along the Alli Mankada. Today this highway or the Mankada they travelled along has been blocked, and a detour has been introduced. Let’s apply the very same scenario to us humans. We are merrily travelling along the highway with our family trying to get to B. Half way we are confronted with a road block, we are not told why, but forced to take a detour. We have now to travel along narrow roads, not properly sign posted, across unfamiliar territory, meet new people, some friendly, some not, they are agitated, because of the sudden increase in traffic encroaching into their privacy and disrupting their life styles as well. Some put up boards requesting that the traffic should move slowly and hope the detour would be closed down and the highway opened up as soon as possible.

The poor elephant faces the very same scenario. They have travelled the highway, the Alli Mankada for centuries. Suddenly without any warning, due to a politically influenced decision and without a bird brain of thought the elephant highway, the Alli Mankada is closed. The disruption could be a badly located chicken farm belonging to a friend of the politician, an ill designed housing scheme, or the indiscriminate distribution of land usually for political expediency. Remember the people have a vote, the elephants don’t. The elephant journey from A to B, now for no real researched reason has been diverted through new areas. Through villagers have never seen the movement of the elephant herds in their village before. Some of the coconut trees destroyed are close to 10 years of more. They had been safe till the indiscriminate blocking of the Alli Mankada that diverted the herds, via electric fences in a new direction.

It is certainly not the fault of the elephant, but they are forced to suffer, they are shot, they are electrocuted, fed the insane Hakka Pattas. Those who indulge in this method, should lose any good karma that they may have accrued in the past, and be relegated to spend the rest of their million lives in the darkest hell hole. One cannot induce arbitory changes to the Alli Mankada, the fact is that these highways are engraved in the genes, is why we still see elephants climbing Koslanda on their way up to the highest landscapes like Poonagala.

Any good research has to commence from the base not from a contorted half way, leaving elephants on both sides of the electric fence. The cause has to be understood first, to arrive at the real solution. If people have been wrongly settled, if industries have been wrongly placed, if national parks have been compromised, now is the time to change, to get back. To look for permanent solutions, even if it means alternate lands. This would then constitute a permanent solution. To open up the Alli Mankada. We will not need the electric fences or the Hakka Pattas anymore, much to the disappointment of the suppliers. The politicians responsible for creating the illegal encroachments should be taken to task. If the map of the original Alli Mankada could be produced and forwarded to all authorities at least the Officers will understand the possible repercussions of their folly. No one can fane ignorance and say, THEY DID NOT KNOW.

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