maoist

In the late 1960s, there was an explosion of radical activism on Australian university campuses. Monash was rocked by waves of student protests, mass meetings and occupations, over everything from the war in Vietnam to the funding of campus libraries.

The Monash Labor Club was an organising centre for radicals and revolutionaries of all traditions. There, Tess met Dave Nadel, who had been a supporter of Mao’s China, but was becoming critical of its authoritarian, dictatorial system.

“I basically went on that journey with him”, she remembers. “I arrived at the worldview that I still have today, which is anti-Stalinist: socialism is about human liberation.”

Along with Nadel, Tess began attending the regular mass meetings of Monash students, where politics would be debated and activist campaigns proposed. “They were frequent events. Sometimes there’d be a couple in a week.”

The two of them became increasingly concerned about the influence of the student Maoists. The Maoists’ support for the dictatorship in China undermined their claim to be supporters of human liberation. And their obsession with street fighting, conspiracy and public posturing meant that most students were sidelined from activities that the Maoists led.

Tess and Dave thought that they needed to form a group that would organise militant actions, but which also would draw in the mass of students – an organisation based on the politics of authentic revolutionary Marxism.

“Towards the end of 1971 we started thinking about setting up some kind of alternative political current on campus”, she remembers. “At the beginning of 1972 we set up the Revolutionary Communist club and produced a weekly broadsheet, Hard Lines.”

Read More: Days of hope at Monash Uni

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Meet The Red Brigade: formed in November 2011 to fight back against a growing number of sexual attacks on women in the city of Lucknow, India

The male tormentor of the young women of the Madiyav slum did not spot the danger until it was too late. One moment he was taunting them with sexual suggestions and provocations; the next they had hold of his arms and legs and had hoisted him into the air.

Then the beating began. Some of the young women lightly used their fists, others took off their shoes and hit him with those. When it was over, they let him limp away to nurse his wounds, certain that he had learned an important lesson: don’t push your luck with the Red Brigade.

Named for their bright red outfits, the Red Brigade was formed in November 2011 as a self-defense group for young women suffering sexual abuse in the northern Indian city of Lucknow, 300 miles south-east of Delhi. Galvanised by the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi last December and the nationwide protests that followed against a rising tide of rapes, they are now gaining in confidence.

From a core membership of 15, ranging in age from 11 to 25, they now have more than 100 members with a simple message for the men who have made their lives a misery: they will no longer tolerate being groped, gawped at and worse. Their activities are a lesson in empowerment.

Men who fall foul of the Red Brigade can first expect a visit and a warning. Sometimes the Red Brigade will ask the police to get involved, but if all else fails they take matters into their own hands. Their leader, 25-year-old teacher Usha Vishwakarma, has her own experience of the daily danger faced by many young women in the country. She was just 18 when a fellow teacher tried to rape her. “He grabbed me and put his hands round me and tried to open my belt and trousers,” says Usha, sitting in the bare-brick front room of her small house. “But I was saved by my jeans because they were too tight for him to open, and that gave me a chance to fight, so I kicked him in the sensitive place and pushed him down and ran out of the door.”

No one at the school took her accusations seriously, telling her to forget it and stop causing trouble. The experience left her traumatized and for two years she did nothing. But little by little her confidence came back. In 2009 she set up her own small school for local girls in an outbuilding next to her family home. Yet all around her, she says, she saw more and more young women suffering the same abuse she had faced. And it was threatening to wreck the chances of her young female students.

"Parents were telling girls to stay in their homes so there would be no incidents. They said, ‘if you go to school, boys will be troubling you, so stay home and there will be no sexual violence’," says Vishwakarma. "But we said no, and we decided to form a group to fight for ourselves. We decided we would not just complain; we would take a lead and fight for ourselves." They bought red kameez (shirts) and black salwar (trousers) and began to plan the fightback. “We chose red because it means danger and black for protest,” says Vishwakarma.

There is much to fight back against. “It is in the minds of men that girls are objects and it has been like that always,” says Vishwakarma. “Religion shows women as very powerless and that whoever is strong can do anything.”

They have started martial arts training so that the men do not have a physical advantage over them. Pooja, Vishwakarma’s 18-year-old sister, laughs as she recalls the reaction of the boy they grabbed in the street when his taunts became too much. “We all stopped and turned round and we surrounded him and grabbed his arms and legs and he thought it was a joke, but we were not kidding and four of us lifted him in the air and the others started to hit him with their shoes and fists,” she says.

The rough justice the Red Brigade metes out might seem extreme to western sensibilities, but many Indian women are making it clear that they are no longer prepared to put up with endemic abuse. That much is clear from the crime figures: reports of molestation in Delhi are up 590% year on year and rape reports by 147%. The rape cases have hit tourist numbers, which were down 25% in the first three months of the year – 35% fewer women are travelling to India. The Red Brigade say sexual abuse is a part of daily life for young women like them. They all have stories of abuse, attempted rapes and daily harassment. “This is what happens in India,” says 16-year-old Laxmi, one of Vishwakarma’s lieutenants. “These things happen all the time. All of us know this, so don’t let anyone say otherwise. This is why we have formed the Red Brigade.”

Seventeen-year-old Preeti Verma nods in agreement. Her family are too poor to have a toilet in the house, so she has to go out into the fields, she says. Every time she went out, the man in the neighbouring house threw stones at her to try to scare her into jumping up. “He wanted to see my body,” she says. “I told him: ‘What are you doing? You are shameless, don’t you have a mother and sister in your house?’ But he replied that his mother is for his father, his sister is for her husband and that I was for him.” She told Vishwakarma, and the man received a visit from the Red Brigade and another from the police. She has had no trouble from him since.

"We’ve caught a lot of men recently," says 17-year-old Sufia Hashmi. "I joined up because men always used to pass comments on me and touch my body, but now we beat them the men cannot do anything and they run away. You feel powerful and you feel good."

On the way back to the slum, the rickshaws pass a public park and for a moment these tough young women show themselves for what they really are – children forced to grow up fast. They beg and plead to stop. “Please, please,” they say, their eyes gleaming in excitement. Shrieking gleefully, they race off towards the swings, slides and roundabouts. Later they stroll back through the market, eating ice-creams, heading for their homes. The sun is low in the sky, the shadows long. The men watch sullenly as they pass. No one risks a word.

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Saw this on Al Jazeera this morning. I’m sure it’s gone around Tumblr in some form before.

"…this revolutionary women’s movement has not emerged overnight, nor has it emerged spontaneously merely from propaganda. The women’s movement has grown alongside the growth of armed struggle. Contrary to general opinion, the launching of armed struggle in the early 1980s by the communist revolutionary forces in various parts of the country, the militant struggle against feudal oppression, gave the confidence to peasant women to participate in struggles in large numbers and then to stand up and fight for their rights. Women who constitute the most oppressed among the oppressed, poor peasant and landless peasant women who have lacked not only an identity and voice but also a name, have become activists for the women’s organizations in their villages and guerrilla fighters. Thus, with the spread and growth of the armed struggle, the women’s mobilization and their organization have also grown, leading to the emergence of this revolutionary women’s movement, one of the strongest and most powerful in the country today. Yet it is unrecognized and ignored, a ploy of the ruling classes that will try to suppress any news and acknowledgement as long as it can."

-Anuradha Ghandy, The Revolutionary Women’s Movement in India

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In Focus: The Last Maoist Village in China

In Nanjie Village, locals still wake to loudspeakers blaring “The East Is Red,” the classic anthem of People’s Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Nanjie, with more than 3,100 residents, is touted as one of the last models of communist China, where the principles of the late Chairman Mao still strictly guide the people’s daily lives. In the 1980s, when the rest of China was introducing market reforms, Nanjie went the other direction, collectivizing its farms and industries. Aside from free housing, healthcare, food rations and education, locals working in the village’s factories receive an average salary of 2,500 yuan (about $400 USD). Reuters photographer Jason Lee recently traveled to Nanjie, coming back with the photographs below.

See more. [Images: Reuters/Jason Lee]

The Maoist perspective on the women’s question in India also identifies patriarchy as an institution that has been the cause of women’s oppression throughout class society. But it does not identify it as a separate system with its own laws of motion. The understanding is that patriarchy takes different content and forms in different societies depending on their level of development and the specific history and condition of that particular society; that it has been and is being used by the ruling classes to serve their interests. Hence there is no separate enemy for patriarchy. The same ruling classes, whether imperialists, capitalists, feudals and the State they control, are the enemies of women because they uphold and perpetuate the patriarchal family, gender discrimination and the patriarchal ideology within that society.
—  Anuradha GhandyPhilosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement
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Farmers protest against corporate power plant & corrupt government partnership hits 1000th day
May 17, 2013

“Lathi maar maar ke utha lehale anshan wahe/ daktar sahib soochna pahuchain naye mukhyamantri se bataiye da/ hum aapan zamin na dewai/ hame na chahi kuch tumhara.” (Translated: Police beat protesting farmers and remanded them/ We heard a new CM is coming to hear us/ Tell him we won’t give up our land/ We want nothing from you.)

These defiant lines in a created mix of Bhojpuri and Hindi are few of the many composed and sung by Anarkali (52), over the last three years. Her songs are meant to inspire a few hundred fellow farmers, who sit attentively with their farming tools each day, listening to her after the day’s work. On Friday, they assembled at Kachari village in the Trans-Yamuna region of this district, for the 1000th consecutive day. A maha-panchayat of villages was held to mark the occasion.

Under the Purnvas Kisan Kalyan Sahayta Samiti (PKKSS), these farmers have been protesting the proposed 1980 MW Karchhana power plant. Through songs, slogans and speeches about government corruption & corporate land development, the farmers wish to keep up the momentum for their daily assemblage. “We apprise them of their rights, how the government cheated us. They are encouraged not to fall for bribes or be intimidated by threats. This is not compulsory yet the farmers come daily,” said Raj Bahaur Patel, president, PKKSS.

The project was conceived in 2007 under the Bahujan Samaj Party government and about 2,500 bighas of land was acquired from 2,286 farmers in eight villages — Devari, Kachari, Katka-Medhra, Dehli, Dohlipur, Bagesar, Kachara and Bhitar. However, the project, handed over to an undertaking of Jaypee Group in 2009, could never take off due to consistent protests by farmers over compensation, leaving one farmer murdered by police repression.

Last April, the Allahabad High Court allowed the farmers’ writ petitions and stalled the project. The Court stipulated that farmers who had received compensation for their land should either return the money and take back the land or willingly hand over the land for the project. Around 140 farmers did not accept compensation. Those who did are in no condition to repay the amount, causing an impasse which the administration is struggling to break through. Ever since the initial violence gripped the area, the protests have been peaceful, but the farmers complain they are being intimidated by local goons and officials to give up their land and discontinue the protests.

"We will shoot you and your family. Just let the power plant come up you will be taught a lesson, they tell us," says Sukhdevi, 65, one of the many protesters.

Many of these threats also come from petty politicians, says Mr. Patel. “They approached us for a compromise, first with bribes. When we declined, they have resorted to fear tactics.” Consequently, the farmers have written to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Chief Minister’s Office, listing their apprehensions and demands. Also, in two letters dated August 8, 2012 and October 10, 2012, the farmers mentioned the threats to their lives, while also promising that they were ready to return the compensation but in installments and on their terms.

When Mr. Patel was called in to receive the response on April 15, the special land acquisition officer O.P Singh only inquired about the land possession of each farmer, completely ignoring the threats to the farmers’ lives. The Hindu has a copy of the document.

The farmers have been demanding: restoration of the fertility of their lands, compensation for the loss of farming over the last five years and losses suffered at the hands of police action during protests, an official inquiry into the violence & threats made against them.

Despite Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announcing that the government would quash all FIRs filed against protesting farmers, eight criminal cases registered against farmers in Karchhana still stand. The farmers, who also reported that their land was wrongfully claimed to be barren, have filed an RTI into it. However, they have received no response yet.

Unlike previous years, when the farmers abandoned farming on the proposed site, they have engaged in some cultivation this season. Yet they remain fearful of violent retribution by goons and intermediaries. “We live in uncertainty. What if they destroy our crops and start the plant? We cannot afford further losses,” says a farmer.

The proposed land includes a large portion of the common property resources in the villages, like the ponds, rearing grounds, connecting paths and grain storage houses.

Notably, the region is turning into a hot-bed for famers’ protests against power plants. In Bara, while farmers have given up on their demands for higher compensation, they are on the verge of launching a movement against the excess extraction of water from the Yamuna.

The farmers have also demonstrated that “men of authority” are trying to create a rift among them to break down their movement. “They are creating false news that there is in-fighting among the farmers,” says Mr. Patel, citing a news report in a highly circulated Hindi daily.

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