Vijay Prashad

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Vijay Prashad
বিজয় প্রসাদ
UNCTAD Public Symposium 2013 - Plenary II (9200112948) (cropped).jpg
Prashad in 2010
Born (1967-08-14) 14 August 1967 (age 55)
Education
Alma mater
RelativesBrinda Karat (aunt)
Websitethetricontinental.org

Vijay Prashad is an Indian Marxist historian and commentator.[1][2] He is an executive-director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books, and a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.[3]

He was the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and a professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, from 1996 to 2017. He is an advisory board member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.[4][5]

Early life and background[edit]

He is the son of Pran and Soni Prashad.[6] Vijay was born and raised in Kolkata, India.[7] Prashad attended The Doon School, an Indian residential boarding school for boys ages 12–18.[8] He then went to the United States and received a BA from Pomona College in 1989, and earned a PhD at the University of Chicago in 1994, writing a dissertation under the supervision of Bernard S. Cohn.[9][10][11] He is the nephew of Marxist Indian politician Brinda Karat.[12]

Work[edit]

In an article for The Nation, Prashad lays out his vision for a struggle towards socialism. He argues that progressive forces typically have very good ideas, but no power. He states that without power, good ideas have little consequences and that socialists must organise as well as theorise.[13] He has stated that American leftists are not as effective as they could be in situations where they win influence through community organising, such as in local governments, because they often do not appreciate ideas originating from other parts of the world. He also calls on leftists to have a long-term view of social struggle rather than focusing on short-term results. Prashad says that this short-term focus often results from an economic system where companies are incentivised to demonstrate quarterly profits.[14]

Prashad describes himself as a Marxist.[1][2] He is a co-founder of the Forum of Indian Leftists (FOIL).[1][15] His views on capitalism are summarised in his book Fat Cats and Running Dogs. The historian Paul Buhle writes, "Vijay Prashad is a literary phenomenon."[16] The writer Amitava Kumar notes, "Prashad is our own Frantz Fanon. His writing of protest is always tinged with the beauty of hope."[17]

In 2010, Prashad was appointed to head the newly formed Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, at Trinity College. A group of professors wrote a letter protesting the appointment based on "the prominent role he has played in promoting a boycott of Israeli universities and of study abroad in Israel".[18] After initially refusing to meet with them, Trinity President James Jones eventually met with representatives from Jewish organisations, including the Connecticut Jewish federation, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford[19] on 14 September 2010. One participant reported a "veiled threat" to have Jewish donors "weigh in". The university backed Prashad and rejected attempts to rescind his appointment.[20]

Criticism of US foreign policy[edit]

Prashad is an outspoken critic of what he calls American hegemony and imperialism.[21][22]

Prashad debated historian Juan Cole on the 2011 US-French-NATO military intervention in Libya. Cole was for it, Prashad against.[23] Prashad argued that the genuine Libyan rising had been "usurped" by various unsavory characters, including some with CIA connections.[24] Prashad wrote the 2012 book Arab Spring, Libyan Winter AK Press on the topic.[25][26]

Critique of Mother Teresa and Western charity[edit]

The Communists don't give people fish, so they might eat for a day; the point of Communism is to teach the masses how to fish, so that they might eat forever. Each day, Calcutta's Communists – as real nameless Mother Teresas! – conduct the necessary work towards socialism, for the elimination of poverty forever.

— Mother Teresa: A Communist View, Vijay Prashad, Australian Marxist Review No. 40 August 1998[27]

Prashad offered his analysis of Mother Teresa's missionary work in Calcutta, designating her as a representative of the collective 'bourgeois guilt' of Western nations.[28] He argued that people like Mother Teresa obscure the tragedies of capitalism. For instance, "During the night of December 2–3, 1984, the Bhopal disaster poisoned thousands of people". He states that the Bhopal disaster, which was caused by Union Carbide, was the most flagrant example of a transnational corporation's disregard for human life in defence of its own profit. In 1983, Union Carbide's sales came to US$9 billion and its assets totalled US$10bn. Part of this profit came from a tendency to shirk any responsibility towards safety standards, not just in India, but also in their West Virginia plant. After the disaster, Mother Teresa flew into Bhopal and, escorted in two government cars, she offered Bhopal's victims small aluminium medals of St. Mary. "This could have been an accident," she told the survivors, "it's like a fire (that) could break out anywhere. That is why it is important to forgive. Forgiveness offers us a clean heart and people will be a hundred times better after it." Pope John Paul II joined Mother Teresa with his analysis that Bhopal was a "sad event" which resulted from "man's efforts to make progress."

In the same article he also commented on Mother Teresa's alleged links with Charles Keating and Michele Duvalier (wife of Haitian dictator Baby Doc Duvalier). Denouncing the "cruel rule of capital" he also offered the view that the communists of Calcutta were the "real nameless Mother Teresas who conduct the necessary work towards socialism, for the elimination of poverty forever".[27]

Bolivia[edit]

Prashad has written extensively about the removal of Evo Morales as President of Bolivia in 2019 and the 2020 Bolivian general election.[29] He described Morales' removal as a coup d’état and said the Organisation of American States had "legitimised" the coup with unsubstantiated conclusions in its preliminary report.[29] In March 2020, he wrote that Morales' removal from office was the result of his government's "socialist policy toward Bolivia's resources" which required that returns from mining resources such as lithium "be properly shared with the Bolivian people". He said that the government of Jeanine Áñez had extended a "welcome mat" to Tesla to establish a factory in Bolivia to manufacture lithium batteries from Bolivia’s reserves.[29]

Works[edit]

  • (2000) The Karma of Brown Folk. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0816634385.
  • (2002) Untouchable Freedom: A Social History of a Dalit Community. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195658484.
  • (2002) War Against the Planet: The Fifth Afghan War, Imperialism and Other Assorted Fundamentalism Manohar. ISBN 978-8187496199.
  • (2002) Fat Cats and Running Dogs: The Enron Stage of Capitalism. Zed Books. ISBN 978-1842772614.
  • (2002) Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0807050118.
  • (2003) Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism under US Hegemony. New Delhi: LeftWord Books. ISBN 8187496355.
  • (2003) Keeping up with the Dow Joneses: Stocks, Jails, Welfare. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 978-0896086890.
  • (2007) The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World. The New Press. ISBN 978-1565847859.
  • (2012) Arab Spring, Libyan Winter. AK Press. ISBN 978-1849351126.
  • (2012) Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today. The New Press. ISBN 978-1595587848.
  • (2013) Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. Verso. Foreword by Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
  • (2015) No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism. New Delhi: LeftWord Books.
  • (2015) Letters to Palestine. Verso Books.
  • (2016) Communist Histories, vol. 1. New Delhi: LeftWord Books.
  • (2016) The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520293250.
  • (2017) Land of Blue Helmets: the United Nations in the Arab World, co-edited with Karim Makdisi. University of California Press.
  • (2017) Red October: The Russian Revolution and the Communist Horizon. New Delhi: LeftWord Books.
  • (2017) Will the Flower Slip Through the Asphalt: Writers Respond to Climate Change. New Delhi: LeftWord Books.
  • (2019) Red Star Over the Third World. Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0745339665.
  • (2020) Washington Bullets. New Delhi: LeftWord Books. ISBN 978-8194592525. Preface by Evo Morales Ayma.
  • (2022) Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism. Haymarket Books. ISBN 978-1642596908.
  • (2022) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power, with Noam Chomsky. The New Press. ISBN 978-1620977606.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "ZNet - Junevijayint". Archive.is. 16 April 2013. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b "I came to Marxism against my self-interest. Born into affluence, I was raised in an revolutionary city (Calcutta, India)" Left history, Volumes 11–12, pp 61, Department of History, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 2006
  3. ^ "Morocco Drives a War in Western Sahara for Its Phosphates". NewsClick. 21 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Advisory Board - US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel". Usacbi.org. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  5. ^ Guttman, Nathan (26 August 2014). "Anti-Israel Professor Returns to Trinity College — Will Controversy Come Back Too?". Forward. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  6. ^ My Japanese parents, VIJAY PRASHAD, Himal, May 31, 2013
  7. ^ Prashad, Vijay. "Columnist Vijay Prashad: Coronavirus and the virus of debt". Daily Hampshire Gazette.
  8. ^ "About Us - Best Boarding School for Boys | The Doon School". Doon School. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  9. ^ "2011 Indian-American Achiever Awards" (PDF). GOPIO-Connecticut. Global Organization of People of Indian Origin. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Vijay Prashad Video - Book Interviews". OVGuide. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  11. ^ Prashad, Vijay (1994). Revolting labor: The making of the Balmiki community. (Volumes I and II) (PhD). University of Chicago. p. v.
  12. ^ "Vijay Prashad". STOP HINDU HATE ADVOCACY NETWORK (SHHAN). 28 August 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  13. ^ Prashad, Vijay (17 March 2009). "The Dragons, Their Dragoons". The Nation. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Against the Grain – October 18, 2004" (Podcast). KPFA. 18 October 2004. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  15. ^ Hindutva For a Few Dollars a Day (author info) Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine People's Democracy, Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
  16. ^ Buhle, Paul (1 January 2014). "Prashad at Large". Monthly Review. 65 (8): 58. doi:10.14452/MR-065-08-2014-01_5. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  17. ^ Rana, Aziz (18 March 2014). "Break the Silence: An Interview with Vijay Prashad". Asian American Writers' Workshop. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  18. ^ Prashad, Vijay. "Understanding the boycott of Israel's universities" Washington Post, 24 January 2014
  19. ^ "About Us". Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  20. ^ Anti-Israel Professor Returns to Trinity College — Will Controversy Come Back Too? The Forward, 26 August 2014
  21. ^ "Vijay Prashad has come to be known for his expert critical analysis of US imperialism and war", Chopping Through the Foundations of Racism With Vijay Prashad, Joel Wendland, 8 August 2003, Friction Magazine
  22. ^ "Casual Imperialism". Globalpolicy.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  23. ^ "A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad". Democracy Now. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Professor: In Libya, A Civil War, Not Uprising". NPR. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Vijay Prashad: Arab Spring Libyan Winter - Part I". YouTube. 18 July 2012. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Vijay Prashad: Arab Spring Libyan Winter - Part II". YouTube. 18 July 2012. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b Mother Teresa: A Communist View, Vijay Prashad, Australian Marxist Review No. 40 August 1998, previously published in Political Affairs, the Journal of the Communist Party USA
  28. ^ White Women in Racialized Spaces: Imaginative Transformation and Ethical Action in Literature, Samina Najmi, Rajini Srikanth, Mother Teresa as the Mirror of Bourgeois Guilt - Chapter 4, pp 67, Published by SUNY Press, 2002, ISBN 0-7914-5477-0, ISBN 978-0-7914-5477-0
  29. ^ a b c Prashad, Vijay; Bejarano, Alejandro (11 March 2020). "Elon Musk is South America's neo-conquistador". Salon. Retrieved 19 August 2020.

External links[edit]

External video
video icon Vijay Prashad - Hybrid Wars and US Imperialism on YouTube
video icon The Chris Hedges Report: Struggle makes us human on YouTube