by Jaspal Singh
The following is a foreword for this edition of Ghadar by the author to his piece on the History of the Ghadar Movement published twenty years ago, and why it remains relevant today.
We live in a period of transition. Like all periods of transition, our period is also unfolding through a contradictory process—the worst of times and the best of times, as Dickens would say. Possibilities of cataclysmic destruction due to the climate crisis and unheard-of transformations exist. Thus, the human brain is having a hard time cognizing the great and astonishing changes that are taking place. Anger, anxiety, retrogression, and cynicism are common.
Those who want to perpetuate the status quo are claiming that ‘There Is No Alternative’ like the monarchs and the pope in 16th and 17th century Europe. Some high priests of this view are proclaiming that “we never had it so good.” But conditions are calling for great transformations due to the climate crisis, technological developments, and changes in the consciousness of people across the globe. These developments have led to a Crisis of Imagination and a Crisis of Theory which are claiming that no fundamental changes in the ensemble of relations between humans and nature, and amongst humans, are either possible or needed. We keep hearing that “this is the best or greatest system” ever. All institutions constantly repeat such refrains while retrogressive changes are being made to push back the gains made in the 20th century by societies. Constant attacks on thinking are the order of the day, most pronounced in socio-economic, political thought, by political parties and ideologies. Claims such as End of History, Clash of Civilizations, Perpetual War, Hyper Nationalism, Beyond Nation-State, Cloning Humans, Colonizing Space, etc., are overwhelming minds.
There is an urgent need to tear the blindfold of anti-consciousness and engage in the act of finding out. Reimagining life and the world is the need of the hour to reflect the great and astonishing changes that are taking place in all fields of human endeavor. South Asians abroad, as in the past with the Ghadrites and others, are actively engaged in finding solutions to the problems faced by their peoples and lands. They are summing up their experience, drawing warranted conclusions, and using them as guides to action for transforming the ensemble of relations amongst humans and nature and amongst humans and humans, for renewal and renovation of their societies.
My History of the Ghadar Movement was written more than twenty years ago, to acquaint the youth with the revolutionary role played by the South Asians abroad. Ghadar remains a great source of inspiration to this day.