I must admit that i am delighted to see Pankaj MIshra jump the shark. About bloody time. Of course its possible he is a CIA agent and this just means “the empire” has decided to dump the democracy facade. Either that or his wife was out of town and nobody told him he was going to expose himself badly with this. Well, time to plug my rolling review of Pankaj Bhaiya’s tendentious little book. (please do keep in mind, thats a rolling review, just random comments dashed off as i read the book. That is why its so repetitive and disjointed).
Or…who am I kidding. In all likelihood no one will notice. Good native informants are hard to find. He has reached the top of the heap. They wont dump him, they will find his op-ed brave and original. And they will say its being misunderstood by imperialist apologists.
But one can always hope.
Anyway, in my last post about Shia-killing in Pakistan I had taken a dig at left wing “native informants” in the following words:
It (LEJ) has a real presence (perhaps less visible to the super-elite and left wing “native informants” like Saadia Toor and Humeira Iqtidar?). (btw, Saadia has tweeted to object that Humeira is not leftist “by any stretch”, so I must add that the term leftist is used VERY loosely here)
A word about left wing native informants. I know there are native informants galore and I have been accused of being one myself, but I could not find (in a 2 minute google search) any article that sheds light on left wing native informants. Someone must have written something about the various Western educated member of the South Asian native elite who help to translate the affairs of the natives into the language of the modern Western Left. Can someone help find a good write-up?
A commentator took me to task with the following comment:
I do have a beef to pick with Omar. You are a little too consumed with some of these liberal Pakistani know nothings. The inability or unwillingness of South Asian academic scholars or other Pakistani liberals to understand the nature of these killers is not the reason Pakistan cannot protect its minorities. Yes, the liberal Pakistani blogger is more interested in fighting the ‘empire’ than the Taliban and this is something which is very annoying and a major nuisance. However, he is only a nuisance to people like us who actually read these fools and who debate with them. In the real world in Pakistan, the security agencies, conniving politicians and their enablers in the media are not really influenced by seminars on imperialism at NYU. So yes, it is very satisfying to mock these people – however, we also need to realize that they control nothing, influence nobody, and are completely irrelevant. Our focus on them, however small, is a little misplaced.
The fact is, I am genuinely confused on this issue. On the one hand, I agree with the commentator; who cares what Tariq Ali or his fans at the Lahore literary festival think about this? Not the killers nor their managers, not the American imperialists..no one really give a damn. Nobody who matters actually gives a damn.
But then I think about the fact that most of my social circle in Karachi and Lahore was probably out there clapping for George Galloway as closing speaker at the Karachi literary festival and Tariq Ali as keynote speaker at the Lahore one. And thats not just the 57 remaining Marxist rich people in Pakistan, that means lots of middle class types. Some of these people are very smart, they are rising stars in various modern fields, if they all get sucked into the PankajMIshra-ArundhatiRoy black hole then what? I dont mean that they all follow the full argument. But they seem to share a lot of the basic assumptions.
And then there’s the whole lot of Western journalists and think-tankers who use these native informants? dont they have any influence? Does that matter?
I mean, one expects a certain percentage of the elite to be Arundhati Roy fans. Thats probably healthy. But suppose you have an emerging society so many of the Western educated professional and intellectual types are drinking the Kool Aid. Is that healthy? Does that matter?
Besides, they supply the real jihadis with all their modern talking points. The jihadis copy and paste a lot from the internet. A lot of it is borrowed from White-power websites or other anti-Jewish sites. But they scan Chomsky and Monbiot and Fisk. For sure. Even Ayman Zawarhiri goes on about globalization because he read about it while reading some western left site for talking points. Does that matter?
What do you think?