Monday, October 31, 2011

OCCUPY WALL STREET : LETTER FROM CAIRO

Solidarity Statement From Cairo


To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it's our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.

An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.


The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people's right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .



What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.


But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.


We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government's own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party's offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.



By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.

Washington Square Park, NYC




Times Square, NYC


Bronx, NYC


Madrid

Hong Kong


London


Rome

Berlin


Tel Aviv


Amsterdam


Los Angeles


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Politics and the English Language

George Orwell

Politics and the English Language


Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad — I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen — but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative examples. I number them so that I can refer back to them when necessary:
1. I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien [sic] to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.
Professor Harold Laski (Essay in Freedom of Expression)
2. Above all, we cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of idioms which prescribes egregious collocations of vocables as the Basic put up with for tolerate, or put at a loss for bewilder.
Professor Lancelot Hogben (Interglossia)
3. On the one side we have the free personality: by definition it is not neurotic, for it has neither conflict nor dream. Its desires, such as they are, are transparent, for they are just what institutional approval keeps in the forefront of consciousness; another institutional pattern would alter their number and intensity; there is little in them that is natural, irreducible, or culturally dangerous. But on the other side, the social bond itself is nothing but the mutual reflection of these self-secure integrities. Recall the definition of love. Is not this the very picture of a small academic? Where is there a place in this hall of mirrors for either personality or fraternity?
Essay on psychology in Politics (New York)
4. All the ‘best people’ from the gentlemen's clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.
Communist pamphlet
5. If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream — as gentle as any sucking dove. A virile new Britain cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes or rather ears, of the world by the effete languors of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as ‘standard English’. When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma'amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens!
Letter in Tribune
Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the work of prose-construction is habitually dodged.
DYING METAPHORS. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically ‘dead’ (e. g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles’ heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a ‘rift’, for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is sometimes written as tow the line. Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase.
OPERATORS OR VERBAL FALSE LIMBS. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry. Characteristic phrases are render inoperative, militate against, make contact with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, have the effect of, play a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, take effect, exhibit a tendency to, serve the purpose of, etc., etc. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and so on and so forth.
PRETENTIOUS DICTION. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements. Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid process of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying war usually takes on an archaic colour, its characteristic words being: realm, throne, chariot, mailed fist, trident, sword, shield, buckler, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and expressions such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, mutatis mutandis, status quo, gleichschaltung, weltanschauung, are used to give an air of culture and elegance. Except for the useful abbreviations i. e., e. g. and etc., there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in the English language. Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers(1). The jargon peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words translated from Russian, German, or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one's meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.
MEANINGLESS WORDS. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning(2). Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, ‘The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality’, while another writes, ‘The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness’, the reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3) above, for instance, contains several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full translation. The beginning and ending of the sentence follow the original meaning fairly closely, but in the middle the concrete illustrations — race, battle, bread — dissolve into the vague phrases ‘success or failure in competitive activities’. This had to be so, because no modern writer of the kind I am discussing — no one capable of using phrases like ‘objective considerations of contemporary phenomena’ — would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first contains forty-nine words but only sixty syllables, and all its words are those of everyday life. The second contains thirty-eight words of ninety syllables: eighteen of those words are from Latin roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid images, and only one phrase (‘time and chance’) that could be called vague. The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash — as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot — it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. Professor Laski (1) uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip — alien for akin — making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness. Professor Hogben (2) plays ducks and drakes with a battery which is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious up in the dictionary and see what it means; (3), if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: probably one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of the article in which it occurs. In (4), the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink. In (5), words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning — they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another — but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. The will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.
In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a ‘party line’. Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestos, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
‘While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.’
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow. Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he ‘felt impelled’ to write it. I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: ‘[The Allies] have an opportunity not only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany's social and political structure in such a way as to avoid a nationalistic reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of laying the foundations of a co-operative and unified Europe.’ You see, he ‘feels impelled’ to write — feels, presumably, that he has something new to say — and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern. This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.
I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned, which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence(3), to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable. But all these are minor points. The defence of the English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply.
To begin with it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a ‘standard English’ which must never be departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a ‘good prose style’. On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally. But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.
I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.
1946
_____
1) An interesting illustration of this is the way in which the English flower names which were in use till very recently are being ousted by Greek ones, snapdragon becoming antirrhinum, forget-me-not becoming myosotis, etc. It is hard to see any practical reason for this change of fashion: it is probably due to an instinctive turning-awayfrom the more homely word and a vague feeling that the Greek word is scientific. [back]
2) Example: ‘Comfort's catholicity of perception and image, strangely Whitmanesque in range, almost the exact opposite in aesthetic compulsion, continues to evoke that trembling atmospheric accumulative ginting at a cruel, an inexorably selene timelessness... Wrey Gardiner scores by aiming at simple bull's-eyes with precision. Only they are not so simple, and through this contented sadness runs more than the surface bitter-sweet of resignation’. (Poetry Quarterly.) [back]
3) One can cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field. [back]
THE END
____BD____
George Orwell: ‘Politics and the English Language’
First published: Horizon. — GB, London. — April 1946.

Reprinted:
— ‘Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays’. — 1950.
— ‘The Orwell Reader, Fiction, Essays, and Reportage’ — 1956.
— ‘Collected Essays’. — 1961.
— ‘Decline of the English Murder and Other Essays’. — 1965.
— ‘The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell’. — 1968.
____
Machine-readable version: O. Dag
Last modified on: 2004-07-24

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The REAL Reason Why Gadaffi Was Killed And WHY NATO & USA Are In Libya!



From : NTS

Well.. It does now appear that Muhammar Gadaffi is now dead. There has been speculation for the last while that he survived the so called "assassination" by the hands of the so called "Rebels" in his home town of Sirte, but now even his own sons have confirmed that he died while most probably attempting to flee that city under siege. Now NATO can gloat that they have eliminated the "Evil Dictator" and have "Freed the citizens of Libya" by placing the proud people of Libya back into the cruel world of debt enslavement and criminal Usury!


I and others have been troubled since the US led NATO attacks on why Libya was even attacked in the first place. There was the totally false media reports of Khadaffi murdering his own people, which was proven to be a massive lie. And then there was the totally BS reports of so called Libyan "Rebels" fighting for "Freedom and Democracy" in Libya but in reality were mass murdering thugs and criminals financed by the IMF itself!


For this article, I want to present this startling and truthful video that comes from Russia Today, that I have taken from Poor Richard's blog, at www.poorrichards-blog.blogspot.com, entitled: "The Real Reason Why Gadaffi Was Killed And Why We Are In Libya". It is absolutely factual and gives what is quite possibly the absolutely real reason for NATO to go and destroy Libya! 




NTS Notes: I for one am truly sick and disgusted to be living in Canada, which is one of the Rothschild controlled NATO nations ordered to destroy Libya like the good slave nation we truly are.

The fact is that the US would not have been able to compete against a Libyan Gold Dinar for OPEC petroleum and it would have spelled economic disaster for the US and many nations that still use the US Dollar for international trade. This is absolutely the reason why the US destroyed Iraq in 2003 due to Iraq shifting its trade from the US dollar to the Euro, and will be most probably the real reason why the US will attack and destroy Iran shortly....


Today I feel for the 50,000+ civilians killed and the 100,000+ civilians wounded in Libya all for the greed of the Rothschild controlled monetary empire. Muhammar Gadaffi wanted to give his own people the freedoms that we have long cherished for, and he paid the ultimate price. When will people finally stand up and say enough is enough and end this world wide debt enslavement system once and for all?...


Posted by NTS

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another 175,000 general practitioners needed in Arab world

The Arab world has less than a third of the general practitioners it requires, says a regional healthcare expert, and as a result the benefits of visiting a family doctor are reduced here.
Heightened trust and a knowledge of family history are just two of the benefits to family doctors, said Prof Faisal Abdul Latif Nasir, the chairman of the department of family and community medicine at Bahrain's Arabian Gulf University.
By international norms, there should be one family physician per 2,000 people, he said, but the reality in the Arab world is that there is roughly one doctor per 6,000 people.
"This indicates a severe shortage in this speciality among doctors in the Arab world," he said.
The Arab world needs about another 175,000 family physicians, he said, adding that half of the doctors practising in any country should be family physicians.
"In Britain, they are called general practitioners, and you have your own GP. Whenever you are not feeling well, you go to them," said Prof Nasir, who was speaking yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress. "The most important thing about this service is that he provides continuous care for the whole family."
The prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the Middle East could also be tackled more effectively if there were more family physicians, he added.
Both patients and governments would benefit in the long run. "It is wiser and economical to establish more health centres with more facilities in them equipped with specialist family physicians who can take care of the whole population."
Dr Osman El Labban, the director of the family-medicine residency training programme at the Dubai Health Authority, said most patients were unaware that family physicians are in fact highly specialised.
It is a common belief that has led Ahmed Atteya, a 32-year-old Dubai resident, to put his trust in hospitals rather than doctors. He said the country's level of health care had not given him the confidence to trust one doctor alone.
"I don't think a family physician works on its own," he said. "There need to be other specialists involved."
Dr El Labban said family physicians should be the first care provider that a person visits.
"Hospital care is deep and narrow because it is very concentrated, whereas the family physician's care is wide and broad."
zalhassani@thenational.ae

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gaddafi ‘raped’ his female bodyguards

video

‘She refused his advances and he raped her’

Five women who formed part of Muammar Gaddafi’s select unit of female bodyguards are claiming they were raped and abused by the now hunted dictator.

The women have told Benghazi-based psychologist Seham Sergewa they were sexually abused by Col. Gaddafi and his sons before being discarded once they were “bored” with them.

One of the women told Dr Sergewa how she had been blackmailed into joining the bodyguard brigade, once believed to number as many as 400 women, after the regime fabricated a story that her brother was carrying drugs on his way back to Libya from a holiday in Malta.

“She was told ‘you either become a bodyguard or your brother will spend the rest of his life in prison,’” Dr Sergewa told The Sunday Times.

The woman in question knew exactly what this meant, Dr Sergewa explained, because she had been raped a few weeks before this by Col. Gaddafi.

“She had been expelled from university and was told to seek Gaddafi’s intervention to be reinstated. She was told she had to undergo a medical test that included an HIV test that was administered by an East European nurse.”

Eventually she was taken to meet Col. Gaddafi at his Bab Aziziya compound in Tripoli. She was led to his private quarters where she found him in his pyjamas.

“She could not understand because she saw him as a father figure, leader of the nation, that sort of thing. She refused his advances and he raped her,” Dr Sergewa said.

A pattern emerged in the stories. The women would be first raped by the dictator and then passed on, like used objects, to one of his sons and eventually to high-ranking officials for more abuse before eventually being let go.

The disturbing claims form part of a dossier being collated by Dr Sergewa for the International Criminal Court and possible trials that Col. Gaddafi and members of his inner circle may face in Libya if and when they are captured alive.

However, her work does not stop with the bodyguards. The women only stepped forward after the psychologist started investigating claims of systematic rape, allegedly committed by loyalist troops during the conflict.

It started about a month into the uprising, in March, when Dr Sergewa, a child psychologist by specialisation, was approached by the mothers of three children she was treating with harrowing stories of rape by militiamen.

The stories prodded her to pursue the claims, particularly as she already had experience of rape being used as a weapon of war as a young graduate working in Bosnia in the 1990s.
“At first I thought these were isolated incidents but I kept thinking about it and felt I should try to look into it further,” Dr Sergewa said.

She had been preparing a study on the psychological stresses associated with the ordeal of war among displaced Libyan families who sought shelter in the refugee camps that were set up in Tunisia and elsewhere, and decided to add some questions related to rape at the end of a survey. The responses started trickling in and the number eventually grew to 300. The stories were as grim as they get.

“Women came forward saying they had been raped by as many as 20 soldiers, sometimes in front of their husbands and children. In one case, a girl, around 18 or so, said she was raped in front of her father. She kept telling him not to look at her...”

Many of the victims have been deeply scarred by the abuse, with a number committing suicide orcontemplating it.

“Others have signs of psychosomatic stress and develop conditions like bulimia and anorexia.”
Her experience in Bosnia and the fact that she was a familiar face to many Libyans, on account of her TV appearances on a regular morning show dealing with children, meant that she was very well placed to help more women come forward.

Still, she feels the number of women she and her team dealt with is only the tip of the iceberg.
“I estimate that there might be as many as 6,000 victims of such rape. The problem is that we need resources to reach out to these women and give them the help they need.”

Since March, Dr Sergewa managed to secure funding from some Libyan charities and a Swiss foundation which helped pay for a team of some 15 psychologists dedicated to collating testimonies of rape and treating the victims. m The money is fast running out and the team is now down to five, but some other benefactor will keep the project going, she says.

Beyond the financial constraints, the researchers had to face the taboo associated with rape which in Libya is stronger than most countries.

“The shame is cast on the victim and her whole family, so it is very difficult for women to come forward with their story because it might mean they become socially ostracised and bring shame on their whole family.”

Some religious leaders criticised Dr Sergewa for publicising the subject, while some colleagues, including the head of Benghazi’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Ali Elroey, disputed her methods of study.
Even Amnesty International said it had not found evidence supporting the extent of rape reported by Dr Sergewa, even though the organisation did not deny it.

However, doctors and obstetricians in different cities have reported treating women for injuries that are clearly associated with rape.

Moreover, in June Dr Sergewa’s work received approval from the International Criminal Court when chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced he would be looking into charging the regime with ordering the systematic rape of civilians.

He even suggested there was evidence that the regime had provided soldiers with Viagra to encourage the attacks.

There was also the case of Iman Al-Obeidi, the woman, who burst into the hotel hosting international journalists in Tripoli to tell the world how she was savaged and gang-raped repeatedly by some 15 soldiers after she was arrested at a roadblock simply because she came from the town of al Bayda, where there had been an uprising against the dictator.

But Ms Al-Obeidi’s willingness to publicise her ordeal proved to be as rare as her story was shocking.

The ICC had approached Dr Sergewa to help convince victims to testify but the task is not plain sailing.

“So far I have managed to convince eight women to step forward to testify and it has been difficult,” Dr Sergewa explained. “Some women have been abandoned by their husbands, others are too ashamed to share their secret with their family.”

 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

$104b investment on cards for Gulf's Airports





DUBAI — Passenger capacity of the world’s three fastest growing airlines — Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad — is on pace to quadruple to 200 million passengers by 2020, warranting GCC governments to spend a total of $104 billion for airport expansion over the next few years, a latest aviation industry forecast said.

The three legacy carriers, currently growing at phenomenal pace, have grown into global airlines and are instrumental in boosting capacities at their home airports apart from contributing immensely to the region’s economic growth, the Kuwait Financial Centre, or Markaz, said.

The “explosive growth” in passenger traffic triggered by these airlines has necessitated the large-scale expansion of existing facilities, the report noted. “By 2015, Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi international airports will have a combined annual capacity of 190 million passengers,” Markaz said in an updated version of its GCC infrastructure series that also covers airports. “With 48 million passengers in 2010, Dubai is now the world’s fifth largest airport. However, Abu Dhabi and Qatar also aim to attain a hub status for the region,” it noted.

To cope with the projected surge in passenger traffic, GCC governments have boosted investment in building new airports and upgrading existing facilities. “These investments are in the neighbourhood of $104 billion over the coming few years, concentrated primarily in the UAE. The majority of which is for the Al Maktoum Airport with an estimated cost of $50 billion.”
The new GCC mega airports will dwarf European airports and support both their airlines and country’s economic development, Markaz said.
Currently, there are 37 main civil airports in the GCC. Of these, more than 30 are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Saudi Arabia has four international airports and 22 domestic airports.
“The UAE, in particular, has aggressively pursued this model over the last decade and consequently rapidly climbed up in international rankings; with 48 million passengers in 2010, Dubai International is now the world’s fifth largest airport. However, Abu Dhabi and Qatar also aim to attain a hub status for the region,” Markaz said. Dubai’s new five-runway airport — Al Maktoum International Airport — will be able to handle 70 million passengers. “This is gigantic considering that the population consists of only a few million, including guest workers. The target market is clearly the global citizen. Dubai Airport has doubled in size every few years. Abu Dhabi and Qatar are following suit,” it said.
Passenger traffic in the GCC, which is now a transit point of millions of passengers, has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 10 per cent between 2002 and 2010 — significantly higher than the global traffic growth in the same period which was between one and three per cent.
The report suggests that passenger traffic at Dubai has now overtaken Saudi Arabia, despite the acute financial crisis in Dubai. “This shows that the business of air travel in Dubai is both successful and very resilient.”
Cargo volume at Dubai is now in a league of its own. Dubai handled double the cargo volume of any other GCC airport in 2002. At present, the cargo volume has increased five-fold. In 2010, Dubai alone handled more cargo than all the other GCC airports combined.
In its recent forecast, Boeing predicted that Middle Eastern airlines would require 2,340 aircraft by 2029 with a total value of $390 billion as the regional industry expands, Airbus also forecast that by 2028, the Middle East fleet would triple in size.
Boeing also estimates that the regional aviation industry will grow at 7.1 per cent a year for the next 20 years.

The geniuses we’ll never know

This essay is not about Steve Jobs. It is about the countless individuals with roughly the same combination of talents of whom we’ve never heard and never will.

Most of the 106 billion people who’ve ever lived are dead—around 94 per cent  of them. And most of those dead people were Asian—probably more than 60 per cent. And most of those dead Asians were dirt poor. Born into illiterate peasant families enslaved by subsistence agriculture under some or other form of hierarchical government, the Steves of the past never stood a chance.
Chances are, those other Steves didn’t make it into their 30s, never mind their mid-50s. An appalling number died in childhood, killed off by afflictions far easier to treat than pancreatic cancer. The ones who made it to adulthood didn’t have the option to drop out of college because they never went to college. Even the tiny number of Steves who had the good fortune to rise to the top of premodern societies wasted their entire lives doing calligraphy (which he briefly dabbled in at Reed College). Those who sought to innovate were more likely to be punished than rewarded.
Today, according to estimates by Credit Suisse, there is approximately $195 trillion of wealth in the world. Most of it was made quite recently, in the wake of those great political and economic revolutions of the late 18th century, which, for the first time in human history, put a real premium on innovation. And most of it is owned by Westerners—Europeans and inhabitants of the New World and Antipodes inhabited by their descendants. We may account for less than a fifth of humanity, but we Westerners still own two thirds of global wealth.
A nontrivial portion of that wealth ($6.7 billion) belonged to Steve Jobs and now belongs to his heirs. In that respect, Jobs personified the rising inequality that is one of the striking characteristics of his lifetime. Back in 1955 the top 1 per cent of Americans earned 9 per cent of income. Today the figure is above 14 per cent.
Yet there is no crowd of young people rampaging through Palo Alto threatening to “Occupy Silicon Valley.” The huge amounts of money made by Jobs and his fellow pioneers of personal computing are not resented the way the vampire squids of Wall Street are. On the contrary, Jobs is revered. One eminent hedge-fund manager (who probably holds a healthy slice of Apple stock as well as the full array of iGadgets) recently likened him to Leonardo da Vinci. So the question is not, how do we produce more Steves? The normal process of human reproduction will ensure a steady supply of what Malcolm Gladwell has called “outliers.” The question should be, how do we ensure that the next Steve Jobs fulfills his potential?
An adopted child, the biological son of a Syrian Muslim immigrant, a college dropout, a hippie who briefly converted to Buddhism —Jobs was the type of guy no sane human resources department would have hired. I doubt that Apple itself would hire someone with his résumé at age 20. The only chance he ever had to become a chief executive officer was by founding his own company.
And that—China, please note—is why capitalism needs to be embedded in a truly free society in order to flourish. In a free society a weirdo can do his own thing. In a free society he can even fail at his own thing, as Jobs undoubtedly did in his first stint in charge of Apple. And in a free society he can bounce back and revolutionise all our lives. Somewhere in his father’s native Syria another Steve Jobs has just died. But this other Steve was gunned down by a tyrannical government.  And what wonders his genius might have produced we shall never know.
Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University and a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University© Newsweek

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dari Berita Minggu hari ini 16 oktober 2011

Sanggar Kreatif: Tawaf Widak
Oleh Fudzail

2011/10/16

pix_gal0
UDARA masih diseliputi hawa panas. Memijar. Pancaran daripada kilauan matahari membuatkan kepeluhan. Terasa sedikit kelelahan. Luqman melangkah mengharung manusia yang semakin ramai. Semuanya bergerak ke merata arah. Berpusu-pusu. Terutama menuju ke dataran Kaabah.

Dia mesti segera menghabiskan tawaf widak. Dalam masa dua jam akan berangkat ke Jeddah sebelum terbang ke KLIA, sehari lagi Aidilfitri. Setelah seminggu menghabiskan masa untuk mengerjakan umrah pada bulan Ramadan. Seminggu yang melontar dirinya ke seribu suasana. Sesuatu yang mencorak keganjilan dalam diri. Di luar jangkaan dan di luar kebiasaan. Ini bukan kali pertama dia berada di Tanah Suci, tetapi kali pertama pada Ramadan dan segalanya seakan ke ruang yang asing sekali.
Dalam mengharung wajah-wajah dan tubuh-tubuh pelbagai saiz, rupa dan warna kulit, kedua tangannya menggenggam erat telefon Blackberry dan iPhone. Dua gajet yang menjadi sebahagian daripada kehidupannya. Biar di mana-mana berada.
Terus saja berkomunikasi dan mengakses sosial media dan apa saja berkaitan perniagaan, kemas kini berita serta politik semasa. Fikirannya sama bergelombang dengan frekuensi yang memenuhi ruang udara. Seolah bergerak, berputar, tunggang terbalik dan kitar semula dalam nadi elektronik yang menjalar ke serata arah. Dia adalah generasi yang sentiasa memerlukan maklumat walau lebih maklumat bertaraf sampah di mana-mana, baik di Internet mahupun media konvensional. Kunyahan rohani daripada santapan maklumat yang sering kali membuatkan otaknya bekerja keras daripada biasa.

Itu belum masuk lagi kegemarannya memasuki chartrooms untuk bersembang lucah dengan manusia psiko dan mengakses bahan pornografi yang bertimbun-timbun.

Luqman agak terlewat untuk membuat tawaf widak. Dua lagi rakan yang dibawa bersamanya sedang bersantai dalam bilik hotel sambil menonton TV. Kelewatannya kerana ada pesanan daripada kedua-dua isteri yang memesan itu ini. Daripada pesanan untuk membeli beberapa helai lagi baju jubah dan abaya ke pesanan minyak wangi dan madu. Beg yang dibawanya sudah berganda, sudahlah setiap isteri mempunyai beg khas, tidak boleh bercampur, bimbang timbul iri hati dan tercetus pergaduhan.

Selain berjenis permaidani yang dihantar terus melalui kargo. Seminggu di Makkah, dia lebih banyak membeli-belah dari kunjungan ke London atau Dubai. Sememangnya Makkah, syurga untuk beribadah dan syurga untuk membeli-belah. Ribuan lebur di pusat beli-belah mega dan sejumlah kedai kota Makkah yang meriah.
“Jangan lupa ya bang!”

Suara manja isteri kedua, Sofea masih terngiang. Itu belum lagi kekasih gelapnya, Diyana.

“Itupun kalau you nak belikan, kita ini siapa, bukan isteri abang lagi kan?”

Ugutan halus Diyana boleh saja membuatkan Luqman cair. Dalam usia hampir lima puluhan itu, Luqman masih terasa kembali remaja sejak bertemu Diyana, siswi universiti Islam yang dikenali melalui Facebook. Diyana yang kembali menjadikan tenaganya, mindanya dan batinnya segar. Meremajakan dirinya bersama-sama suapan Viagra, segala ubatan herba yang menjanjikan awet muda dan kelihatan menarik.

Apa pun, Luqman tidak mengabaikan, Jawaher, yang dikahwini sejak dari tahun satu universiti, 25 tahun dulu. Kekasih awal dan akhir sebelum bertemu Sofea dan Diyana.

Memang fikirannya lebih berkecamuk daripada sebelum dia datang ke Makkah seminggu lalu. Walau datangnya, hadirnya untuk menjernihkan sebahagian, kalau tidak semua yang mengekori, membebani dan menarik-narik kewarasannya. Kekusutan dari dilema, polemik, isu dan pelbagai masalah dalaman dan luaran. Selain tentunya usia yang sudah menghampiri senja.

Kota Makkah baginya seperti kota-kota lain, yang berbeza hanyalah status sebagai Tanah Suci dan pahala berganda kalau menunaikan solat di Masjidil Haram. Baginya, solat di situ boleh menampung kekurangan dalam amalan lain. Begitulah Luqman yang percaya bahawa dia akan masuk syurga kerana banyak kali ke Makkah dan Madinah.

Luqman tiba-tiba tertolak kuat. Ada sekumpulan wanita Iran berjubah hitam mengasak. Dalam cuba mengelak, tersentuh tubuh mereka. Daripada kilasan, wajah manis wanita itu merentap seketika minda. Melucutkan sebentar segala yang bermain dalam fikiran. Jiwa mudanya mencabar, tetapi tubuh yang tidak lagi muda menarik kembali perasaan mendomba-domba.

Dia sekadar mengekori tubuh mongel yang semakin cepat bergerak.

“Sakan kau membeli-belah?” terdengar pertanyaan Harun, pegawai bahagian kelulusan projek sebuah kementerian yang dibawanya. Dia telah berjanji untuk membawa Harun dan seorang lagi pegawai, Jasni, mengerjakan umrah sekiranya menerima tawaran projek yang dibida. Menunaikan janji dengan membayar pakej yang agak mahal dalam bulan Ramadan, selain memberi duit poket untuk membeli-belah yang secukupnya. Apalah sangat membelanjakan mereka berdua berbanding dengan margin keuntungan daripada pembekalan alat komunikasi berharga jutaan ringgit. Lagipun semua itu sudah menjadi sebahagian daripada kos perniagaan. Sudah menjadi amalan terbuka yang diterima pakai sebagai budaya. Satu usaha ‘menang-menang’ dalam proses pembangunan fizikal ke arah sebuah negara maju.

Harun dan Jasni bukan saja ceria menghabiskan masa beribadah, malahan lebih ceria menghabiskan wang saku yang diberi untuk sakan membeli-belah sebaik keluar dari Masjidil Haram. Yang pastinya, masa untuk membeli-belah lebih lama dari masa untuk bersolat dan dengan pilihan yang ada, walau kekadang tersesat, selain lapar dan dahaga dalam bulan Ramadan, segalanya menyeronokkan. Berbelanja dengan wang tajaan dan tidak perlu memikirkan kalau-kalau ada pengintip SPRM mengekori.

“Biasalah. Ada dua isteri, anak perempuan enam orang, dua mak mentua, dua bapa mentua, adik-beradik sendiri, adik-beradik isteri-isteri, saudara-mara mereka, semuanya mesti diambil kira itu sebab mahu dapat berkat Tanah Suci!”

Luqman seakan memberi fatwa dalam menjawab soalan Harun yang pendek, tetapi tersirat. Sebenarnya Harun bertanya dengan agenda lain, manalah tahu kalau-kalau Luqman boleh memberi wang saku tambahan kerana dia sudah terliur untuk membeli permaidani yang diborong Luqman. Cuma tidak cukup wang setelah kehabisan memborong pakaian untuk keluarga, jiran dan kawan-kawan. Banyak lagi dalam senarai yang masih belum dilaksanakan.

Dalam melangkah dan cuba mengingat sama ada sudah sampai ke pusingan tawaf kedua atau ketiga, Luqman terlanggar seorang gadis muda yang sedang khusyuk membaca ayat-ayat doa dari sebuah buku. Gadis itu berpaling.

Luqman mengangkat tangan meminta maaf. Gadis berketurunan Arab itu menjeling marah.

Wajah marah yang membawa Luqman ke bayangan anak perempuan sulungnya. Dengan Jawaher, dia mendapat empat anak perempuan. Tiada zuriat anak lelaki dan Jawaher tidak sanggup untuk hamil dengan usia bertambah.

Lantas Luqman meminta izin untuk berkahwin dengan Sofea, sekretari sendiri yang dia terlanjur hubungan. Skandal pejabat dari sekadar suka-suka. Mahu berkahwin lagi dengan alasan mahukan anak lelaki sebagai penyambung zuriat.

Dan perkahwinan yang tidak pernah direstui Jawaher itu memberikan dua lagi anak perempuan. Maka Luqman seakan terhukum dalam pencarian mendapatkan zuriat anak lelaki yang semakin terlupus dan terluput.

Anak perempuan sulungnya, Zara sudah hampir menamatkan pengajian di universiti. Anak keduanya di tahun kedua dan yang ketiga akan masuk ke universiti. Yang lain masih di bangku sekolah. Kesemua anaknya masuk universiti swasta dengan perbelanjaan sendiri. Wang bukan masalah apabila perniagaan semakin maju biar dalam kegawatan ekonomi kerana Luqman cukup licik dan bijak dalam strategi ‘menang-menang’ sejak kenal dunia perniagaan.

“Abah tahu tak, di universiti tempatan sekarang, peratusan pelajar perempuan jauh lebih tinggi daripada pelajar lelaki?”

Anak perempuan ketiganya, Sara memberitahu dalam perjalanan ke KLIA dengan suara yang membayangkan kegusaran. Mahu melanjutkan pengajian dalam bidang pengiklanan.

Luqman mengangguk. Fikirannya merawang-rawang.

“Apa masalahnya?” Jawaher mencelah.

Luqman ketawa sambil berkata, “Masalahnya, kuranglah pilihan untuk berboy friend kan? Terpaksa bersaing dengan lebih ramai untuk sebuah cinta?”

Jenaka yang sebenarnya menikam diri sendiri apabila Jawaher tidak ketawa. Dalam suasana yang tiba-tiba ganjil, tiba-tiba radio memainkan lagu ‘Kekasih Gelap.’ Terpanah dan terobek lagi hati Luqman dalam cuba menenangkan situasi. Semakin terhimpit.

“Betul abang tidak bawa isteri muda abang itu?” Sekali lagi Jawaher melontarkan soalan yang berulang ditanyakan.
Soalan yang merimaskan kerana niat asal Luqman memang mahu membawa Sofea, sehingga Jawaher bertalu-talu menyoal walau berkali-kali Luqman menidakkannya. Akhirnya, terpaksa Luqman membatalkan saja perancangan dan membuatkan Sofea pula merajuk. Bukan senang untuk beristeri dua, kata P Ramlee, mesti pandai pembohong, mesti pandai temberang, tetapi jangan sampai pecah tembelang.

Dan oleh kerana mahu ke Makkah, ada juga takutnya Luqman untuk temberang dan berbohong kepada kedua-dua isterinya yang perangai pun lebih kurang sama saja, bercirikan queen control dan cemburu tidak tentu pasal. Sentiasa mengugut dan ada kala berbomohan. Kata ramai orang, apa saja boleh berlaku di Makkah. Jangan salah cakap di Tanah Suci. Ramai juga yang menerima ‘bayaran tunai’ daripada perbuatan masa lalu.

“Abah tahu, kakak Zara sudah mempunyai seorang kawan lelaki yang intim dan sedang asyik masyuk bercintaan!”

Anak keduanya, Hannah memecahkan berita menyebabkan Zara tertunduk malu sambil cuba mencubit Hannah. Manakala Jawaher dan Zara ketawa. Ada sedikit getaran kebahagiaan yang meresap ke dalam MPV mewah yang meluncur laju.

Luqman terkesima dalam cuba memproses berita yang bercampur-baur. Sememanganya kesibukan Luqman dengan urusan perniagaan, selain kegiatan sosial seperti main golf, berkaraoke dengan pelanggan, selain membawa pelanggan berlibur di tempat hiburan merata tempat, menyebabkan tidak banyak masa untuk bersama anak-anak sendiri. Kalau berkomunikasi pun melalui SMS dan Facebook.

Lontaran suara Hannah itu seakan dentuman dari guruh yang menggegarkan. Luqman terus terkaku dan fana seketika.
Membawa dia jauh ke ruang-ruang berlalu. Begitu pantas masa berlalu. Begitu jauh perjalanan hidup dan kembara dunia yang terus dikejarnya. Begitu bersimpang-siur kehidupannya dan penuh dengan pelbagai peristiwa. Ketika itu juga dia disambar sesuatu yang hinggap ke benak fikiran.

Ah! Zara sebaya dengan Diyana, kekasih gelapnya yang sudah beberapa kali ditidurinya! Yang berkali-kali dia berjanji untuk kahwin di selatan Thailand. Apakah Zara termasuk dalam golongan perempuan muda seperti Diyana? Apakah Zara mempunyai kekasih yang sebaya dengan usia ayahnya? Apakah Zara memilih bakal suami seorang lelaki seperti dia, seperti Luqman yang masih belum mahu untuk berubah perangai.

Luqman hampir tersasar pemanduannya seperti mana tiba-tiba dalam melepasi garisan tanda pusingan tawaf, dia terhuyung-hayang dengan gema dan pekikan. Asakan dari pelbagai tubuh yang menghempap.

Sekilas itu juga Luqman tersedar seketika, dia telah jatuh tersungkur ke lantai dataran Kaabah. Dilanggar tubuh-tubuh jemaah yang disedarinya, kesemua perempuan. Luqman kehairanan, tiada jemaah lelaki. Dalam fana dan berdebaran, dia tetap memastikan Blackberry dan Iphonenya terus dalam genggaman.

Luqman terasa kepalanya berdenyut-denyut. Berpinaran dan daripada kilauan panahan matahari, Luqman terpandang wajah setiap perempuan yang pernah menjadi sebahagian daripada kemeriahan kehidupan materialistik dan dunia keseronokannya.
Dunia tanpa sempadan nafsu dan dunia wang yang menggerakkan nadi dalam tubuhnya. Bertukar perempuan yang menjadikan dia lelaki buas bertaraf romeo jalang. Ada wang semua boleh jadi, hulur sana sini dan jalan ke neraka tetap terbuka, seperti mana gelaran datuk yang dibelinya.

Wajah berserabut itu mengasak dan melempar caci nesta. Wajah yang mengancam dengan pandangan menusuk dan mengejek. Terdengar suara memanggil-manggil. Menjerit-jerit dan di antara wajah itu, muncul wajah Zara yang seakan berlapis-lapis, bertindih-tindih.

“Zara akan menjadi mangsa lelaki buas. Mangsa nafsu serakah kamu seperti kami. Jangan lupa pembalasan Tuhan daripada doa mereka yang teraniaya!”

Luqman meronta-ronta cuba melepaskan diri daripada cengkaman yang dia sendiri tidak pasti. Tubuhnya tidak dapat bergerak. Tercungap-cungap. Nafasnya semakin sukar.

Datang pula bayang-bayang dirinya. Imej dari usia muda, sejak dia mengenal keseronokan dan perempuan. Sejak berfungsi sebagai lelaki dan jantan yang mahu mencari keseronokan. Menikmati kemanisan daripada permainan kata-kata dan segala yang berputarkan kepada nafsu. Dosa, halal, haram dan neraka jarang muncul dalam perbendaharaan katanya. Kalau munculnya hanyalah sebagai ungkapan yang tiada kesan apa-apa dalam jiwanya.

Pandangan menjadi gelap. Luqman menjerit sekuat hati. Hanya suara perempuan yang mengasak pendengaran.

“Darah daging kamu dan keluarga daripada rezeki tidak halal, bercampur baur. Kekayaan yang kau kumpulkan itu, walau kau bayar zakat, kau bersedekah, kau solat, pergi haji, selalu ke umrah, boleh membawa kau ke neraka!”

Bergema suara daripada seorang perempuan tua. Suara yang dulu biasa didengar dan amat dibencinya. Suara seorang ustazah yang sering menegur sikapnya. Ustazah Halimah yang telah lama meninggal dunia dan dia tidak pernah memaaafkan ustazah yang mahu dia berubah sikap.

Luqman terasa dilapah. Seseorang merenjis air. Air yang berbau cukup busuk dan hanyir. Terasa mahu muntah, tetapi pandangannya kembali pulih. Dia menoleh ke sekeliling. Manusia di mana-mana. Tetapi matanya terus mencari. Sesuatu yang selama ini sekadar jasmaninya mengadap setiap kali solat. Mengadap tanpa hati yang fokus, fikiran sentiasa berlegar mengenai dunia.

Dan Luqman menjadi kaku. Tercampak Balackberry dan iPhone. Sekilas itu cuba untuk mengucap. Pun dia lupa, seperti mana kaabah yang tersergam dan yang ditawafnya berkali-kali itu, tiba-tiba hilang dari pandangannya!

INFO: Fudzail

Nama pena bagi Mohd Fudzail Mohd Nor, berkelulusan Sains Komputer dan Matematik dari New Zealand. Pernah menjadi pengurus Teknologi Maklumat (IT) di TV3, juga ekspatriat Malaysia yang bermastautin di Emiriah Arab Bersatu (UAE) sejak 2000. Terbabit dalam pembinaan projek mega seperti Dubai Internet City dan Palm Jumeirah.

Kini pengarah beberapa syarikat antarabangsa dan pengurus Yusuf Islam, selain sukarelawan yang pernah ke Gaza, Palestin. Pernah memenangi hadiah sastera Utusan, Johor dan Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia 2006/7. Antologi puisi Waikato diterbitkan oleh Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP 2001), Kumpulan Cerpen Dotkomania (DBP 2009) dan Trilogi Aotearoa (Karangkraf 2010). Boleh dihubungi melalui e-mel fudzail@ gmail.com dan blog 1426.Blogspot.com.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Indian village suffers for lack of women

Unmarried men stand in a group as they watch women dance during the Dussehra festival in the remote village of Siyani, where they also live and work in, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad, October 4, 2011. REUTERS-Vivek Prakash
(Reuters)

12 October 2011
SIYANI, India - Nearly two dozen men building a temple in this remote farming village lay down their tools at midday and walk through the dusty streets to a shed where they are joined by another group of men — and start eating a meal cooked by a man.



They live, eat and sleep together, sharing mattresses on the bare floor of an empty room the way a married couple usually would. All but a handful are unmarried — a living example of India’s rapidly worsening gender imbalance. 

An unmarried man eats his lunch in the remote village of Siyani, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad, where they also live and work in, October 5, 2011.  REUTERS-Vivek Prakash

Census data released earlier this year revealed there are 914 girls for every 1,000 boys born - a sharp fall since 2001 when the ratio was 933 girls for every 1000 boys.
‘I have been looking to marry since I was 15,’ said Vinodbhai Mehtaliya, a 23-year-old Siyani farmer.
A decades-old Indian preference for male children, who are seen as breadwinners, has led to the skewed ratio, aided by cheap ultrasound tests that assist in sex-selective abortions and female infanticide. 
Unmarried men eat lunch together in the remote village of Siyani, where they also live and work in, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad October 5, 2011.  REUTERS-Vivek Prakash
Siyani, in the western state of Gujarat, shows the decline. Here, some 350 men over the age of 35 are simply unable to get married — out of a total population of roughly 8,000.
‘I’m lucky I got married 20 years ago’ said 42-year-old Laljibhai Makwana, who works as a diamond polisher in one of the village’s small workshops. ‘If I was young here today I would never get married.’
The absence of women is obvious in the village’s bumpy, tiny lanes, where cows wander freely, especially in the evenings. 
Unmarried men sleep next to each other in a shared accommodation in the remote village of Siyani, where they also live and work in, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad, October 5, 2011. REUTERS-Vivek Prakash
‘There is little industrial development or infrastructure here, so people are poor and uneducated,’ said Prashant Dave, the 41-year-old owner of a small flour mill who said he was lucky to be married.
‘There are too few women and they leave for better prospects.’
Among the group of men living together, men perform all the tasks which are traditionally the domain of women: sweeping, cooking and cleaning. 
A group of mostly unmarried men pose for a photograph in the remote village of Siyani, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad, October 5, 2011. REUTERS-Vivek Prakash
The situation has also led to another reversal in custom, with some women and their parents asking for a lot of money from men to allow men to marry them, an inversion of the usual dowry system in which the woman’s family has to pay the man’s.
At sunset, as the day’s work ends, groups of unmarried men gather around the village tea stalls and tobacco shops, lacking wives and families to go home to. 
Two unmarried men lay out a bed sheet in their room in the remote village of Siyani, where they also live and work in, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad, October 5, 2011. REUTERS-Vivek Prakash
‘I’ve given up looking,’ said Bharatbhai Khair, who is single at 45 and has been trying to marry for 25 years.
‘The women want more money for marriage than I can afford.’ 
An unmarried man sweeps the floor after serving lunch to a group of men living and working in the remote village of Siyani, about 140km (86 miles) west of Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad, October 5, 2011. REUTERS-Vivek Prakash