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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.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 9, 2020 Porn, and the Born Taxpayer
In this part of the world, we have given government carte blanche: to direct us, and to tax us without a fuss. "Born taxpayers" never see government as a problem, but the solution to every problem. The result is self-inflicted misery.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 28, 2020 History to the Defeated
Was Derek Chauvin a "bad apple" in an otherwise excellent barrel, as claimed by Donald Trump? The bad-barrel theory was first propounded by George Bush in relation to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, author of the Stanford Prison Experiment, emphatically declared the barrel to be bad.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 3, 2019 Demos
Democracy came to Bangladesh in 1990, our annus mirabilis/horribilis, after a hiatus of 15 years (1975 - 1990) when the Cold War required maintenance of the military in power by the West. Democracy has claimed victims of all kinds - bystanders burnt alive, beaten to death, student politicians murdered by each other.... The poems give poetic voice to the carnage, mendacity and manipulation of the miraculous/horrible years.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, November 29, 2019 The Great Unwatched
Psychological experiments have repeatedly shown that when people are watched, they are less antisocial and more prosocial. These findings are at odds with the facts on the ground in Bangladesh. A plausible explanation is that the psychological subjects are mostly WEIRD: White, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 14, 2019 Meeting a White Mennonite
For rational reasons (foreign aid, foreign jobs, foreign education) as well as extra-rational reasons (the long colonial experience under the British from 1757 to 1947), the educated elite of Bangladesh financially, psychologically and emotionally prostrate themselves before the West. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the democratic choice by a coterie of self-interested and self-deprecating few.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 9, 2019 "Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay"
The political development of Western Europe, with its incessant change and internal and external strife, contrasts sharply with the tranquility and continuity of Asia.
These facts have gone unappreciated by historians until today.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 24, 2019 The Linnet and the Leaf
Ingroup-outgroup hatred is easily generated. In fact, "-social psychologists have generated it again and again in laboratories. Demagogues know how to manipulate our deepest emotions and anxieties to create hostility. They take us back to our pre-civilisational past, when we lived in compact groups, fearful of others outside and clinging to those inside.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, July 19, 2019 Unholy Sonnets
Donne wrote his Holy Sonnets at a time that was infused with God. Perhaps more, or less, wise than before, we live in what appears a God-forsaken world. Hence these Unholy Sonnets.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 4, 2019 Asian Values
Asia and Europe have had divergent historical trajectories, with the slavery-freedom distinction absent"- or prominent"-, respectively. Asian culture stresses collective harmony over individual difference, and is remarkably free of ideology (which, when imported, ha"-s"- had unfortunate consequences).
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 15, 2019 Mendacity in Bangladesh
Thanks to colonial hangover, western foreign policy and our own avaricious ambition, mendacity has become entrenched in Bangladeshi political and social life. No lie is too prodigious to whitewash the pathologies of democracy on both sides of the Indo-Bangladesh border.
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, June 10, 2019 Huxley, and the Meaning of Words
The meaning of a word resides in the rules for its use in a way of life. Meaning amputated from a way of life becomes merely a word. This is the finding of Wittgenstein and the Sapir-Whorf thesis. It implies that one cannot translate between languages, nor transplant a word to another society that must necessarily be incapable of understanding the meaning. Words are portable; not ideas.
Democracy is such a word.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 30, 2019 Verses of Violence
Since the democratic transition of 1990, people in Bangladesh have been burnt alive, beaten to death, decapitated and disarticulated -- without a murmur from the populace.
These poems reflect the descent into less than animality in Bangladesh. They all recount true incidents.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 9, 2019 The Club
"Outgroup favoritism" is the term used by social psychologist Jim Sidanius to refer to the deference shown by members of subordinate groups to those of dominant groups. He gives the example of Uncle Tomming in the segregated South.
But outgroup favoritism was, and is, common in South Asia, where the British ruled for 200 years.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, December 7, 2018 Of Pigs And Believers
Ideologies seem to polarize people into pigs and believers: those who are in it for the "-perks, and those who are really in it, the fanatic. This was true of Russian Communism - "-as historian Richard Vinen tells us - as it is for democracy in Bangladesh (and elsewhere). "-Here, the locals are in it for the cash and the (western) kudos."-
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 13, 2018 In Memoriam; Yasser Arafat
On the 14th anniversary of the passing away of Yasser Arafat, we look back on the days before and after his death.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 18, 2018 Carthago Delenda Est
John McCain once proposed 'A League of Democracies'. The man has passed away, but ideas seldom die. It is a peculiar feature of Western nations to try and mould the world in their fashion. Even the great John Milton was guilty of the same.