What does being a journalist entail in today’s world of information technology and digitization?
The growth of social media in the past half decade has inevitably been a blessing in many ways since it is now possible to access topics of interest and items of news in a manner that is unprecedented in history. And given the far-reaching power that the Internet presents us with, a large readership can be tapped in by easily sharing articles and pieces on current affairs and developments with friends, family, and acquaintances. This seeming democratization of media has made it possible for everyone to participate in discussing the issues that matter the most.
It could be then concluded that the job of the journalist is to merely collect, analyze, edit and present the multiple viewpoints so that the readers can have the ability to judge for themselves what position to take, and which argument to lend support to.
As it turns out, however, your ability and effectiveness at truly fulfilling your journalistic duties can be curtailed by anybody who owns the means of knowledge production. When we talk about knowledge production, we mean it is the ability of the hegemonic entity or group to be at a position wherein it is possible for them to spin narratives and create arguments in such a fashion that it would be possible for them to be accepted by a mass that is mired in illiteracy, malnutrition, feudalism, casteism, and patriarchy. This act of knowledge production is usually done in order to maintain the status-quo, to pacify the masses even when they are on the brink of open revolt and revolution. The very act of knowledge production is done with a singular purpose in mind:
To maintain the dominance of the ruling classes, by legitimizing their exploitation of the proletariat and, in the current international climate, serve the growing needs of fascism, especially the kind of opiate which is Hindutva fascism that we presently witness in this country.
In such a case, a journalist – in the true sense of their professional duty – is faced with a number of challenges in their work. Not only would they have to contend with the sweeping powers of the State, in their effort to close all avenues of dissent and alternatives, but they also have to combat certain “journalists” and their infamous publications that toe the line of the State and assist it in enabling the popular establishment of communal fascism. Such “journalists” and their publications of disrepute have been seen to appeal to gross sensationalism and outright lies in order to get their loyalty-ridden message across. I shall not name these discredited “journalistic” endeavours but it is safe to say that we are all aware of the kind of webzines and Facebook pages that are being talked about.
Normally, to even consider writing an article calling out on their crassness is in itself unnecessary or even pointless. However, resistance on the streets, in factories and in landed estates can be effective only when it is complemented with the act of resisting the very ideals which give rise to the oppressions that plague Indian society as of now. To write these articles is to filter the water from the milk, to show where the journalists and the “journalists” respectively stand. As a student of journalism who is very vocal about revolutionary politics, this article would expose a very common tactic of untruth the enablers of the fascist rule have resorted to, and continue resorting to.
I am, of course, referring to the terrorism-war dialectic.
It is rather easy to beguile people into believing that acts of revolutionary violence are akin to acts of terrorism, perhaps because the people concerned are too worried about how to win their meal for the next day, or too corrupted by the cancer of feudal regression to even question such an equivalency. Such being the case, “journalists” and other people working to perpetuate the interests of the ruling classes have quite an easy time in demonizing the very people who are out to do something concrete, as “terrorists”. And why should not they do this? After all, “terrorism” as a word always had a pejorative meaning and it has been associated with acts where scores of innocents were killed to attain vested objectives.
How then could this pejorative notion of terrorism ever be reconciled with the theory of people’s war that is brought forth by the Maoists?
Well, one only needs to look at the dictionary definition of terrorism to understand the first aspect of this conspiracy that has prevented the students and youth from investing their energies in revolutionary politics. A simple Google search brings forth the following:
“The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
Note that there is an emphasis on violence being joined by intimidation. Therefore, violence alone does not constitute an act of terror, since the feeling of terror is an outgrowth of being intimidated to the extent that the terrorized person is unable to articulate their opinions or political opinions, which run counter to the political aims an act of terror desires to achieve.
Contrast this with the definition of people’s war:
“A war in which the common people are regarded as fighting against the ruling classes and, or, foreign aggressors.”
Quite evidently, any war relies on violence by both the participating sides in the pursuit of their (military) aims. However, the chief characteristic of people’s war is that it explicitly combines political aims with the attainment of military objectives, and the fighting units are controlled by the vanguard party taking up the responsibility to fulfil the new democratic revolution. As such, there is no intimidation involved and the targets of the people’s army are the armed wings of the semi-feudal, semi-colonial state: the Army and the Police. However, the “journalists” and their backers try their best to showcase how they resort to intimidating the peasant and tribal masses to serve in their ranks, or how they deliberately target civilians like any other terrorist or how even the Maoists join hands with Islamic terror cells/groups. In subsequent articles, we shall see how all these respective assertions are nothing more than attempts defame revolutionaries and how all these slanders can be countered with satisfactory evidence and citing examples.
Presently, however, there could be some doubt on whether an act of violence itself could constitute an act of terrorism. If that doubt remains, it has to be borne in mind that such acts of violence have to be accompanied with a sense of intimidation upon those who would be the targets of such violence. And herein, we can see the formation of a philosophical argument that why the terrorism-war equivalence is an utter falsity.
Significantly, in order for the bourgeois state to maintain the existing relations of material and knowledge production, it necessarily has to perpetuate violence in order to eliminate any alternative that might challenge its otherwise unquestionable authority. The characteristic of such state-sponsored violence of the oppressor is, for all intents and purposes, intimidating. It seeks to silence any kind of discontent, dissatisfaction through either legal or illegal means – mostly, the latter, if we consider the history of the conduct of the Armed Forces of India. This is true for all countries, where the ruling classes are in power, a minority holding the wealth of the toiling masses in their pockets.
On the other hand, when the oppressed – especially the proletariat belonging to the lower castes, religious minorities and subjugated nationalities – partake in violence, it is carried out through the agency of their vanguard party, whose sole objective is to seize political power from the exploiting classes. It has to be remembered, though, that this violence in the capture of state power is not intrinsically violent, but has emerged to be violent thanks to the ruling classes not realizing that their historical period is over and therefore, reacting violently to the just demands of the exploited. Those who currently fight the State are not rich, nor do they benefit monetarily in any way, but they fight because they believe in a better world is possible, and such a world can exist only when the parasites of the human race and thrown away from their thrones.
To not realize this highly simple difference between terrorism and war adequately proves the utter journalistic incapacity of these “journalists” who go on to sensationally paint the danger Maoists have on Indian “democracy”, a “democracy” where millions have no right to say anything other than voting in one faction of the exploiting classes to power.
This is, however, not to say that people’s war has to be romanticized. Rather, it is again a pretty bourgeois mistake to do so, since the war would involve a lot of hardship and a lot of things that would involve killing another human being. Revolution is an absolute necessity if we have to save our people from the ravages of fascism. Otherwise, we run the risk of being silenced forever while those who are presently facing the brunt of semi-colonial, semi-feudal and Bramhinical oppression would eventually face further death and extermination.
And as a journalist, we can’t allow that to happen in any way.
To end this article and to concretize the entire argument, I’ll quote what Bhagat Singh had clearly said in his last petition:
“Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites… The days of capitalist and imperialist exploitation are numbered. The war neither began with us nor is it going to end with our lives. It is the inevitable consequence of the historic events and the existing environments.”