Saturday, February 15, 2014

Indians are damn fools: The first in a series

I don't know how Indians can afford to be super patriots and downright jingoistic and xenophobic when our country is in such shambles -physically, psychologically, intellectually or aesthetically.

In pretty much any endeavor one can think of India lags far behind the first world and often even the second and third world.
And I am not interested in listening to claims from unbalanced Ajit Vadakayil acolytes as to how wonderful India was. I am talking about what India IS today. And please no ridiculous statistics about NASA being 38% Indian , Silicon Valley 78% or American doctors are 108% or any other silly ,fraudulent claims one routinely finds dished out by unthinking and hyper ventilating sons of the soil on the internet.

It would seem that our National Security(hahaha) Advisor thinks India should not be a superpower.
So many points....Well firstly why should we take anything seriously from a person who holds the ridiculous post of NSA in a country as lax about its security as India.
He is right for the wrong reasons. For example he prattles on and on about some nonsense called "soft power". And what exactly is this "soft power" you speak of? Bollywood? An industry where a movie which features no songs or a romantic angle is considered a daring and edgy documentary? Or perhaps the pan Indian influence around South/South east Asia that existed upto a millennia ago. Notice how secular parties shy away from referring to the influence as Hindu but a vague undefined term "Indian". Anyway let us examine this "soft power" of ours and its successes.

Pakistan- Pakistanis love Bollywood but I am not sure that it would prevent them from nuking Mumbai if need be. That people who don't think that is the case work in the Indian government is a terrifying thought.

Sri Lanka- Hard power (LTTE) blew up in our faces or at least in Rajiv Gandhi's face.(what too soon?)
Soft power didn't stop SL Navy from killing and detaining Tamil fisherman and having the Chinese built a deep water port on the Indian Ocean. Goddamn you idiot Indian government ,its called Indian Ocean for a reason. If you cant even maintain naval autonomy in your own backyard that is named after your country then what good are you?
More than a thousand years ago Sindhu Mahasagar turned into the Arabian Sea due to Arab naval supremacy after the collapse of Hindu power in Sindh and Gujarat. There is no reason why the Chinese would insist on referring to the Indian Ocean henceforth as the Chinese Ocean

Bangladesh- Didn't stop the flow of illegal immigrants to India. As if India is just swimming in jobs.
India builds belated and brutal border fence. At least here soft power's fatal flaws are exposed.

Nepal- Soft power couldn't save the India friendly monarchy and now Nepal is on the verge of full blown Maoist takeover.

Bhutan- Buddhist monarchy friendly to India Expelled Hindus en masse. India did nothing

Burma- Buddhist military dictatorship.Expelled Hindus en masse. India did nothing

Malaysia- Revoked visa on arrival for Indians. Still available for Pakistanis. Tamil Hindus routinely discriminated against. India does nothing. Let us hear Soft Power roar!

I think we had enough evidence of the efficacy of "soft power". Soft power and other silly terms are thrown by people who either lack hard power or in the case of Indians have no idea what real power is and how it is to be wielded. Kautilya must be rolling his grave.... or he would be if he wasn't cremated.

Indians currently lack thumos. Thumos is a Greek word best translated as the quality that a dog possesses when it is backed into a corner. A ferocious survival spirit which translates in killer instinct.

It was not always this way. Our history is replete with heroic figures fighting invaders against overwhelming odds. Examples abound - the courageous Nandas, Mauryas and Mallas wars against the hitherto invincible Macedonians. The imperial Satavahanas smashed the power of the mighty Scythians
The indomitable Baladitya, Yashodharman and Guptas were victorious against the ferocious Huns.The various heroic,gallant and noble Andhra dynasties persisted over half a millennia in a long war against the cruel and relentless Turkic Muslims, never losing hope even after the fall of Vijayanagara and Nizams and Bahmanis setting up shop in their neighborhood. Their successors-the wiry ,tough and hardy Marathas brought down colossal Mughal empire which had become a byword for a powerful overlord in the English language

That's just to mention a few

So I am not of the school that Indians were always pushovers that is unfortunately rather popular. This is turn can become a self fulfilling prophecy when propagated by a thoroughly ignorant government, media and university system

It is a very sad state of affairs when Indians are so deluded that they mistake affection for respect.
They take the camp appeal of Bollywood in the West as proof that it can compete on Hollywood's turf.
When Indians benefit from American cost cutting measures in technology, finance, sales, marketing and other sectors, they foolishly think by eating scraps off the table they are a respectable dinner guest.

It wouldn't surprise me that if someone is stroking a kitten , an Indian would claim that the woman stroking the cute feline is doing so because she so respects the kitten.

Indians please: A pat on the head and a pinch on the cheek is not a handshake

We are not in the major leagues. We are barely in the Little League.

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting we have one. We have to acknowledge that India is a hellhole - a third world country and we aren't all what we are cracked up to be.
India is wounded civilization in the words of VS Naipaul and we are a damaged lot.

Often I think if democracy isn't quite what the doctor ordered....

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Robert Kaplan's biases and the tragedy of Cold war era nationalisms

In my previous fisking of Layla Anwar I promised to use The  Robert Kaplan travelogue on Iraq in his book The Arabists in order to further elucidate my point on how Iraq is doomed to brutality

Turns out I am unable to locate my copy of The Arabists. Most likely I lent to a friend. I will retrieve it and post the evocative passages in question and my take on them ASAP

But since we are the topic of Mr Kaplan,it would be apropos to discuss his work

I was quite compelled by how RK views the world. I am intrigued as to how he includes a regions historical and cultural framework with its interlocking complexities of sect,tribalism and nationalism in highlighted its current woes or glad tidings as the case may be. The analyses are occasionally reductionist when it comes to really large and complex countries such as say India(which we will get to soon) and Russia but that is somewhat understandable when dealing such formidable cultural entities

My main beef with Mr Kaplan is how his yearning to absolve Islam for the crimes of its followers causes him to take odd leaps in logic,common sense and positing false analogies

For example in Buddhas Savage Peace he writes of the Tamil Tigers

"The very history of the Hindu Tamil Tigers shows that perverse violence, the embedding of warriors amid large numbers of civilians, and the rampant use of suicide bombing are not crimes specific to Muslims. "

Indeed Tamil Tigers were pioneers in suicide bombings and until the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which inspired legions of suicidal jihadis, they would lead in this field.
But how accurate is it to place the Tigers in the Hindu club? Doubtless most of them were brought up as Hindus but it was a secular Marxist organization with ties to other revolutionary outfits such as Basques, IRA, PKK,PLO et al
But seeing how Basques and IRA weren't  Crusader brotherhoods or PKK and PLO weren't Muslim fundamentalists , wouldn't it be fair to assume that Tamil Tigers's motive were ethnic nationalist with a dash of revolutionary leftism thrown in. Just like majority of the liberation movements in the Cold War era

One wonders why the usually thorough Mr Kaplan left this out? Could it be that pointing out that leftists have the dubious honor of the highest number of suicide bombings would embarrasses his bosses at The Atlantic?We cant have that can we?

And what better way to placate the PC Islamophiles by stating that Hinduism and Buddhism are associated with brutal blood and soil martial qualities just like the Muslims? Thereby negating any
criticism of Islam being uniquely violent. Granted that is an unfair criticism. Hinduism for instance has been incredibly violent for most of its history. It is only the ignorance of  Westerners in general who by transposing late 20th century Gandhian pacifism on to more than 6 millennia of Hindu history end up promoting such misinformation.
But that is no excuse for sloppy thinking and propagation of feel good falsehoods designed to provide a moral fig leaf for your ideology.

Also missing was the influence of Christian organizations on the LTTE. Many of Prabhakaran's top aides were Christian. Both Protestant and Catholic groups were very pro LTTE. Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists an otherwise loathesome lot were at least somewhat accurate when they saw the dead hand of Christian reactionaries who had a bone to pick with Buddhists in Sri Lanka since the rough treatment they received ever since the Portuguese pirates and missionaries(but I repeat myself) arrived

I don't quite know why a writer for The Atlantic ,not really a magazine friendly to Christian interests ignored this angle but my guess is the editor imagine its readers who may have tired of looking for the Opus Dei under their beds and are ready for a more exotic religious bigot. Even their Abrahamic cousins are no spicy enough. I mean Islamic terrorists are soooo 2001!

What really did the Tamil Tigers in , besides the bad PR for suicide bombing since 9/11/01 is they had been infected with Marxism/Leninism to begin with.

This has been the tragedy of pretty much every liberation movement during the Cold War. It really started with Stalin ,despite his flaws ,recognized that Soviets had no choice but to tap into the reservoir of Russian nationalism which was trampled on by the cruel and bloodthirsty Bolsheviks.
This since then has been the template of Cold War geopolitics in the Third World. A pretty good strategy which the dimwitted tacticians in the West had been unable to counter with any PR move even remotely comparable
A sole exception was Dwight Eisenhower who actually saw the immoral treatment of African Americans as a national security issue which the Communists would be able to exploit.
And in many ways they did, Martin Luther King Jr was a socialist masquerading as a Christian activist. WEB DuBois dropped any pretense of Christianity and was an unapologetic Marxist.
While Nelson Mandela was a full on communist.
The U.S government whole hearted support for Civil Rights movement and the tepid support for anti apartheid activists while seemingly contradictory are actually coherent from a national security perspective in the Cold War era.

The demise of the LTTE was just the long overdue cleaning up of  the Cold War business.

The Atlantic which leaned toward the Soviet Union , is with that article just throwing the totalitarian Marxist/Leninist LTTE under the bus by declaring it "Hindu".

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Movie review: Wolf of Wall Street

Having been in the sales field for a bit and dealt with their type extensively as a colleague and a sucker where I lost something in the neighborhood of 30k usd, I had mixed feelings about this uber alpha salesguy Jordan Belfort

Sales guys are a peculiar sort. They are usually rather shallow,gauche and garish. They are usually average or below average intelligence. Indeed Ive seen many smart guys actually get stupider when they enter this field.Did I mention that they are a bunch of crass nouveau riche douche tools?
Having been a sales guy in a company dealing with B2B events, the gold standard is Scott Ragsdale.,the Chairman of Naseba. An impressive person indeed -an Ironman champion whose awesome physical endurance matches his ambition.
But reading his blog is a very tiresome process as he is a fan of Ayn Rand and her views dominate his world view. Her "philosophy" if you can call it that is responsible for much of the cruelty, coarseness and vulgarity in the modernity world. Specifically sad to say in the libertarian conservative world to which I am very sympathetic
Mr Ragsdale seems to imply that if you are not making tons of mucho dinero like he is then you are rather worthless. Less said about his incoherent political(a Randian who supports Obama and dismisses the "whacky right wing"?)  and social views(women are better employees than men) the better. I had better stop talking of this thin skinned Mr Ragsdale as oddly it is rather easy to aggravate him!And will spend a good chunk of the blog whining about the criticism and threatening various legal (and implied illegal) actions using his (admittedly impressive) contacts. I have been on the receiving end of such threats before and came out relatively unscathed. Still best not to indulge in bravado and more provocation than necessary.

I had been a victim of a different type of fraud than in WoWS where the enterprise is legit logistically speaking but are selling their customers overhyped stock. I OTOH was taken in by smooth talkers whose entire operation was a scam- Shin Kong Wedbush  based in Taiwan but registered in China

Similary the Wolf of "Wall Street" is really set up in Long Island and the guy is really more of hyena and vulture than a wolf and mostly lower middle class types of Jewish and Italian types created the very Waspish sounding Stratton Oakmont which invokes Ivy League bluebloods and the Social Register

Misdirection via deceitful branding is how they present themselves. I was pitched by a smooth talking "Richard Franklin" whose linkedin page showed all sorts of fancy degrees from Columbia Business School and Wharton.

I didn't do any more due diligence. More fool me. I was out $30k usd (at that time my life savings) and had restart from scratch. Thank god I wasn't married and have any other dependents

So it was interesting from this movie what goes on from the other side of the curtain

Martin Scorsese paints a hyper charged picture of a macho larger than life group of high testerone roguish risk takers living in a haze of cocaine powder and perfume of whores. A group who just sees their investors as marks and numbers and nothing else.

In other words pretty much every other Scorsese movie since Goodfellas

Goodfellas, Casino and Wolf of Wall Street are pretty much cookie cutter Scorsese. The Departed is a wonderful exception as it is a remake of an excellent Hong Kong feature

Ethnic Italian/Jewish hybrid from wrong side of the tracks makes good in illegal ventures and enjoys the ride and perks utterly oblivious of bourgeois morality. The downfall comes due to fatal character flaws(usually involving women) and Feds close in and put an end to the party.

This is not to knock Goodfellas. I absolutely love that movie -not a dull moment in it- but I feel sorry for those who watch Goodfellas AFTER watching its million knock offs and derivatives(including Scorcese's own work).

It is how viewers cant get riled up about John Carpenters Halloween (1977) because they
saw the inferior derivatives first.

Or how people cant feel the incredible power of Wagner( though mostly in discrete moments) due its pop corn versions in Star Wars movies. Only Robocops theme IMO comes close to its original majesty and oddly enough it meant to be satire of right wing heroism and Randian corporatism

I think Mr Scorsese should try some new narratives. Its not without a coincidence that he was celebrated for The Aviator and The Departed but less so for this movie Casino and Kundun( a wannabe Mishima- Schraders far superior Philip Glass biographical opera)