Prashad in 2010
|Born||14 August 1967|
|Education||The Doon School|
Pomona College (BA)
University of Chicago (PhD)
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, journalist, commentator and a Marxist intellectual. He is an executive-director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books.
He was the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and a professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, United States from 1996 to 2017. In 2013-2014, he was the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut and has been a Senior Fellow of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs in Beirut.
Prashad is the author of twenty-five books. In 2012, he published five books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press) and Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today (The New Press). His book The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World (2007) was chosen as the Best Nonfiction book by the Asian American Writers' Workshop in 2008 and it won the Muzaffar Ahmed Book Award in 2009. In 2013, Verso published his The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. He is author of No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (LeftWord Books, 2015) and the editor of Letters to Palestine (Verso Books, 2015), a book that includes the writings of Teju Cole, Sinan Antoon, Noura Erakat, and Junot Diaz. His most recent book is Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017).
Prashad is a journalist, the Chief Correspondent for Globetrotter - a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a columnist for Frontline and writes regularly for The Hindu and BirGun. He has reported from around the world for the Indian media - from Latin America to the Middle East to Africa.
In 2015, Prashad joined as the Chief Editor of the New Delhi-based publisher LeftWord Books. He is also an advisory board member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, part of the global BDS movement.
He is the nephew of Indian politician Brinda Karat.
In his article for The Nation, Prashad lays out his vision for a struggle towards Socialism. He argues that progressive forces typically have very good ideas, but no power. He asserts that without power, good ideas have little consequences and claims that socialists must not simply theorize but also organize. As a panelist at the 2004 Life After Capitalism conference, he explained his views on the state of leftist strategy in the United States. He argues that leftists in the United States are not as effective as they could be in situations where they win influence through community organizing, such as in local governments, because they often do not appreciate ideas originating from other parts of the world. Examples he provides include experiments in participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, people's planning in Kerala, and new taxes for industries that cannot relocate. He also calls on leftists to have a long-term view of social struggle rather than focusing on short-term results. Prashad argues that this short-term focus often results from an economic system where companies are incentivized to demonstrate quarterly profits.
The historian Paul Buhle writes, "Vijay Prashad is a literary phenomenon."  The writer Amitava Kumar notes, "Prashad is our own Frantz Fanon. His writing of protest is always tinged with the beauty of hope." 
The Mexican Revolution opened up in 1911, but didn't settle into the PRI regime till the writing of the 1917 constitution and the elevation of Carranza to the presidency in 1920 or perhaps Cárdenas in 1934. I find many parallels between Mexico and Egypt. In both, the Left was not sufficiently developed. Perils of the Right always lingered. If the Pharonic state withers, as Porfirio Díaz's state did, the peasants and the working class might move beyond spontaneity and come forward with some more structure. Spontaneity is fine, but if power is not seized effectively, counter-revolution will rise forth effectively and securely.
In a subsequent essay, he asserted that the Arab Revolt is part of a long process, the Arab Revolution. He argued that the Revolt of 2011 continues to raise the two "unanswered questions" of the Arab Revolution: that of politics (freedom from monarchies and dictatorships) and of economics (to make an independent economy). In addition, he considers the Revolt part of a historical process that he characterises as a "revolt against the market" (as opposed to revolts in Eastern Europe which he sees as a "revolt for the market"). In two essays, he lays out what he describes as the failures of US policy in the Middle East. The two pillars of US cynicism are its need for autocracy as an ally in its "war on terror," and its need to support Israel in any way possible. The test for this conservative US policy came in Obama's choice of Frank G. Wisner, who he calls the "empire's bagman," as the US envoy to Mubarak.
In a further essay he offered an analysis of the collapse of the national liberation dynamic which is evident from his book, The Darker Nations. This essay goes over the recent history of Libya and proposes of the recent upsurge there, "Old rivalries and new grievances are united. Some of them are for reactionary tribal purposes, and others seek liberation from 'reforms.' Some cavil that a country of 6 million with such oil wealth does not look like the Emirates, and others simply want to have some more control of their lives. But most want release from the hidden corridors of the Libyan labyrinth." Prashad debated historian Juan Cole on the US-French-NATO military intervention. Cole was for it. Prashad against. Prashad argued that the genuine Libyan rising had been "usurped" by various unsavory characters, including someone with CIA connections.
The Communists don't give people fish, so they might eat for a day; the point of Communism is to teach the masses how to fish, so that they might eat forever. Each day, Calcutta's Communists - as real nameless Mother Teresas! - conduct the necessary work towards socialism, for the elimination of poverty forever.-- Mother Teresa: A Communist View, Vijay Prashad, Australian Marxist Review No. 40 August 1998
Prashad offered his analysis of Mother Teresa's missionary work in Calcutta, designating her as a representative of the collective 'bourgeois guilt' of western nations. He argued how people like Mother Teresa obscure the tragedies of capitalism. For instance, "During the night of December 2-3, 1984, methyl isocyanate left the environs of a Union Carbide factory and poisoned thousands of people". He contends that the Bhopal disaster by Union Carbide was but the most flagrant example of a transnational corporation's disregard for human life at the expense of its own profit. In 1983, Union Carbide's sales came to $9 billion and its assets totaled $10 billion. Part of this profit came from a tendency to shirk any responsibility towards safety standards, not just in India, but also in their West Virginia plant. After the disaster, Mother Teresa flew into Bhopal and, escorted in two government cars, she offered Bhopal's victims small aluminum medals of St. Mary. "This could have been an accident," she told the survivors, "it's like a fire (that) could break out anywhere. That is why it is important to forgive. Forgiveness offers us a clean heart and people will be a hundred times better after it." Pope John Paul II joined Mother Teresa with his analysis that Bhopal was a "sad event" which resulted from "man's efforts to make progress."
In the same article he also commented on Mother Teresa's alleged links with Charles Keating and Michele Duvalier (wife of Haitian dictator Baby Doc Duvalier). Denouncing the 'cruel rule of capital' he also offered the view that the communists of Calcutta were the "real nameless Mother Teresas who conduct the necessary work towards socialism, for the elimination of poverty forever".
In 2010, Prashad was appointed to head the newly formed Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, at Trinity College. A group of professors wrote a letter protesting the appointment based on "the prominent role he has played in promoting a boycott of Israeli universities and of study abroad in Israel". After initially refusing to meet with them, Trinity President James Jones eventually met with representatives from Jewish organizations, including the Connecticut Jewish federation, Anti-Defamation League, and the JCRC Hartford on September 14, 2010. One participant reported a "veiled threat" to have Jewish donors "weigh in". The University chose to back Prashad and turned down attempts to demote him.