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Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English and economics. He was born and lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has contributed to AXIS OF LOGIC, ENTER TEXT, POSTCOLONIAL TEXT, LEFT CURVE, MOBIUS, ERBACCE, THE JOURNAL, and other publications. He is also a freelance journalist. He and his wife love to tour Bangladesh.
The Fallacy of Education
Take a youngster and fill his head with unreal ideas and you can call it education. This has been the fate of economics.
Friday, December 28, 2012(2 comments)
The External Proletariat
The Roman Empire had its internal as well as external proletariat -- the latter were the Germanic tribes, which finally overran the Western empire. Today, the third world plays the role of the external proletariat -- and the African-Americans and Native Americans that of the internal.
Saturday, December 15, 2012(1 comments)
9/11 Recalled In Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, we dream of the Green Card and the blue passport: we never stop to think what miserable lives our Palestinian brothers and sisters live, thanks to the country that holds out the aforementioned card and passport.
Thursday, April 12, 2012(1 comments)
Vercingetorix and Doofus Dignity
Vercingetorix was the leader of the Gauls who dared to rebel against the mighty Roman Republic. Irrational? Sure, but also dignified. The pursuit of dignity often entails the irrational. But we in Bangladesh are no "doofuses" like the great Vercingetorix -- we are rational, and without an atom of self-respect or dignity.
Monday, March 26, 2012(2 comments)
The Ethnocidal Civilisation
Ethnocide -- culture murder -- has been the repeated behaviour pattern of western civilization, as testified by Alexis de Tocqueville. The culture is not content with mere conquest: it must control the very thoughts of those conquered.
Thursday, March 8, 2012(1 comments)
On Clothes And Modernity
The mantra of modernity, as progress, has to be debunked. The word has no meaning and is responsible for all manner of evil.
Friday, January 6, 2012(1 comments)
A great poet described poetry as news that stays news. I hope these 8 poems on political violence in post-democratic Bangladesh - especially the murder of young politicians by themselves - remain permanent memorials.
Thursday, December 29, 2011(1 comments)
CRIMES OF FINANCE: The Pyramid of Bangladesh
On the two occasions that the Awami League has come to power, its proteges have engaged in share market fraud with impunity. This shows the patronage system of government masquerading as a democracy.
Thursday, December 8, 2011(1 comments)
Democracy Good, Demos Bad
This is a satire on democracy, especially as it is practiced and perceived in third world countries like Bangladesh, where it is a sick joke.
Saturday, December 3, 2011(7 comments)
Horace In The Hills
Spurious, but deadly, nationalism in Both Bangladesh and among its hill people in the south-ease has claimed lives - and continues to do so after a bogus peace treaty.
Saturday, February 19, 2011(1 comments)
Events in the Middle East and elsewhere are being increasingly shaped by the crowd. Since the French Revolution, the crowd ha emerged as a legitimate force, not always with happy consequences.
Thursday, May 20, 2010(3 comments)
Democracy: The Historical Accident
The forum polity -" democracies and republics -" owes its origin to two major accidents in human history: accidents that were unique to the western world, and which, indeed, created western civilization in contrast to the others, which were all palace polities.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
To Dance Upon The Air
Five former army officers will hang within the next few weeks in Bangladesh, raising deep questions about a people's right to protection from a tyrannical executive in the context of John Locke's political philosophy.
Friday, April 3, 2009(1 comments)
THE QUEENSBERRY RULES OF DISCOURSE
"The worse your logic, the more interesting the consequences...." Most of us would do well to make these words of Bertrand Russell part of our portmanteau of guiding maxims. There are few things more comfortable or seductive than the absence of reason, and among them the most everyday cushion and charm are provided by the informal fallacies catalogued in part here.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Dual Dictatorship
Western donor governments, especially America, have created civil wars in several Muslim countries by imposing democracy: in the next few months, Bangladesh will probably be added to the list.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The preoccupation with food shows how civilisation, despite 10,000 years of agriculture, has still failed to relegate the subject to the background of human needs. Poverty and plenty jostle obscenely; the affluent converse endlessly about food, as though well aware of the emergency of the subject.
Saturday, February 28, 2009(2 comments)
A Bangladeshi Bluestocking
Nationalism in Bangladesh is shot through with contradictions, some ludicrous and some dangerous. A local columnist has championed local culture by sounding off against Arab culture claiming that the hijab is an import from the latter. This would be risible but for the political consequences for that embattled Arab people, the Palestinians.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009(3 comments)
The Body of William Jay
It takes some years to learn the old adage: "You can't win an argument". In one's early days, one is brash and green enough to believe that reason will win through: then one discovers that the opposite is the case. For men and women are motivated, neither by love of truth nor by reverence for logic, but by prejudices that stem from their material interests.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Logos of Bangladesh
Two things conspire to multiply falsehood about Bangladesh: an ersatz nationalism, and a very real domination by western donor governments. The culture of lies that these have created robs even everyday life of its dignity, and sustains a noxious elite that thrives like a parasite on the backs of 'the people'.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Captain Bligh would have been unbelievable if he had not been real. Bligh epitomizes the New Personality - the individual who advances a career to the detriment, and indeed death, of others.
Monday, May 5, 2008(1 comments)
Sister Carrie and the Leisure Class
The year after Thorstein Veblen's classic Theory of the Leisure Class appeared, Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie followed. Coincidence? Not really: the two books shared many of the same themes.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008(4 comments)
Cherie Blair in Bangladesh
When Cherie Blair visits Bangladesh and lectures the natives on "the rule of law" and "human rights", she goes beyond decency and humanity, and makes a mockery of the deaths of over a million people in Iraq.
Thursday, April 24, 2008(2 comments)
The scientific spirit is the spirit of generalization. The opposite, the unscientific, is the spirit of humanity. It is tempting to think in "bulk" because it is cheap, like bulk purchase. It is also dehumanizing and dangerous.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The decline of the elegy betokens a certain loss of sensibility in the western world in the twentieth century, a loss described by Mircea Eliade as "desacralization". Where other cultures continue to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, the West has conflated the two.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
In The Prison of His days
In Bangladesh, we never identify with the African-American. Indeed, in South Asia, the middle class aspiration is to be like the white middle class: affluent. We forget that until recently, we were despised by our colonial masters, whose rule has proven so effective that we have become mental slaves the only kind that endures "emancipation".
Monday, February 11, 2008(3 comments)
The Perry Legacy
Over a hundred and fifty years ago, Commodore Perry turned a peaceful nation into a terrible force: there are lessons to be learned from the transformation of Japan. There are certain aspects of the west that should not be emulated.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Suharto, and Before
Suharto passes away, and with him an era. He will long be remembered as the father of Indonesia's growth and development, despite criticism of his rule. Even before his death, many ordinary Indonesians, if not most, mourned the passing of his regime.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
On Being a Philosopher
One of the deepest hungers is the hunger for knowledge: yet there is no obstacle that society won't place in its pursuit. Yet, at the same time, society pretends to admire the pursuit of wisdom. The philosopher has to contend against such contradictions.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008(2 comments)
In Quest of Happiness
"When is enough, enough?" Civilisation is a constant overreach for material possessions. Enough has never been enough, and some people, like the Cynics and the hippies, have reacted against the tyranny of matter.
Monday, January 14, 2008
From Ceylon to Sri Lanka
The twin ideas of democracy and nationalism were the undoing of the island whose people moved, violently, from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.
Monday, December 24, 2007(2 comments)
The Ad Hominem
Humanity is characterized by an abhorrence of logic: there's no expedient that it won't adopt to avoid thinking. And the most pernicious of these maneuvers is the informal fallacy that goes by the name of argumentum ad hominem.
Monday, November 5, 2007(3 comments)
The irrational, despite its ubiquity, has hardly served as an explanatory device. Most people assume that agents are motivated by rational considerations, when, in fact, they are frequently swayed by the irrational.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007(2 comments)
Is Poetry Dead?
Who reads poetry today? And who reads the modern and contemporary poets? And yet there is a deluge of poetry for the producers and consumers of poetry constitute a giant industry, from which the 'average' reader is left out.
Saturday, October 6, 2007(1 comments)
Nearly eight centuries later, the wisdom of Sheikh Sa'di receives confirmation if any were needed from economic data: the more you have, the more happy you are not. Besides, economic theory as Sa'di would have pointed out has been proven false by recent research: people earn, not to be happy, but to be richer than others.
Sunday, August 12, 2007(1 comments)
Four Years AFTER the Revolution
I have lived to see, first-hand, how an entire society goes mad, and loses all humanity... The personal is the political, and the choices we make in our everyday lives translate into good or evil in the (supposedly distinct) public sphere. Whether misled by ambition, or blinded by ideology, our actions have consequences; they can make or destroy strangers.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The prospect of democracy as universal religion must remain forever chimerical. In Bangladesh, the two dynasties that practiced an ersatz democracy are being politically ostracized by the military-backed government. The move has been enormously popular. Years of organized mayhem have suddenly come to an end.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Would the UN appoint Cheri Blair or Laura Bush as human rights advocates? Yet, that is exactly what the UN has done by appointing Sigma Huda to that role. And in this she, and many others, have been cosseted and protected by national and international NGOs.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The Seven Dimensions
The priests and priestesses of the religion of democracy require the world to have faith, no matter how many murders, rapes and other crimes are committed in its name, and by its advocates.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
The Rape of the Delta
The donor-backed military takeover has been immensely popular. But there are die-hard ýelements who wish to see the discredited politicians continue with their murderous ýcampaigns. The author feels that the politicians should not be tried for corruption, but for ýcrimes against humanity.
Friday, May 4, 2007
The Wicked Civilisation
After the end of the cold war, the target of western demonization shifted from the defunct "Soviet Union to the anticipated new adversary, the Muslim world. Supposedly universal "concerns -- women and democracy-- were brought to bear with obsessive focus on Islam, "to the exclusion of other civilizations where these were, by the same yardsticks, "legitimate concerns-- including the West. "
Thursday, April 5, 2007(2 comments)
Of skirts and scarves
Parts of the Muslim world reacted to western domination by focussing on superficial things like skirts and headscarves: other areas made more intelligent decisions.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The Perils of Cultural Absolutism
Ayyan Hirsi Ali finds everything wrong with "Islamists"; she deplores cultural relativism, which justifies points of view other than secular, western ones. The dangers of cultural absolutism are not obvious to her; and for her "rights" are universal, despite the fact that they are being debated all the time, even in the west.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
A Reply To Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell equated liberalism, commerce and empiricism, which was unfortunate. Rationalism, he observed, led to totalitarianism, which suppressed commerce, and thereby liberty. However, a brief outline of the history of slavery among the "liberal" and "commercial" nations of the world disabuse the reader of imagining any connection between the two.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The Two Religions of Bangladesh
According to Ninian Smart, nationalism is as much a religion as any of the regular variety. Nationalism has never been able to suplant Islam in Bangladesh, and the two religions coexist in hostility.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Sir David Lean's epic "Lara's Theme" raised deep questions about the individual and society. The triumph of the former in certain places have wreaked havoc.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Colonial democracy, is not new. The Persians and the Greeks were the first to practice it. Today, it is the turn of Bangladesh, Iraq and Palestine, on the one hand, and America and Europe on the other.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Among writing on the subject of unfreedom, Moll Flanders ranks supreme. The novel testifies to how America became the land of the unfree.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The Cringe Factor
South Asia suffers from "cultural cringe" syndrome envy of, and desire to imitate, the former mother country. Two hundred years of British rule has had a debilitating effect on the local psyche.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
A Frisson of Freedom
Since western governments exported democracy to Bangladesh in 1990, society has turned violent, with the major political parties employing thugs to win elections. This is a satirical take on the subject of "freedom", though it is not easy to satirise rape and lynching.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The Price of Conscience
With the major political parties employing thugs, our democratic transition of 1990 has become a nightmare. The worst part is the fact that foreign donors and local intellectuals alike ask us to accept the violence in the name of freedom.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
The Incoherence of Progress
"Progress" has been touted as the excuse for all manner of evils. Yet while politicians and economists believe in progress, and act accordingly, writers and directors busily depict cacotopias and dystopias, capturing the incoherence at the heart of the idea.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Anti-globalizers are worried that the world is headed towards a dull uniformity in culture. Yet there is another kind of ýmonoculture that threatens: western political ideas -- fatal to local culture and, all too often, people themselves. ý
Friday, January 5, 2007
The First European
To escape Europe's cycle of wars, the European elite created the European Union. But how democratic is the EU?
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Role of Anytus
Anytus, prosecutor of Socrates, represents the idea that civil society is a force for good. Today, in fact, "civil" society threatens the world with World War III.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006(1 comments)
REGIME CHANGE, LANGUAGE CHANGE
Those who wish to democratise other cultures need to consider the solid obstacle provided by language. For the meaning of terms like "democracy", "vote", "election", etc. are governed, like any other words, by the rules of society. One cannot therefore export concepts that do not fit the norms and mores and history of a society - the language will not allow it.