( October 17, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Malala Yousafzai, who was brutally shot by the Taliban, shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. She implored at the UN, “let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen, can change the world. Education is the only solution,”
Many of the people lauding the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her advocacy of nonviolence and who spoke of her struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism are the very same who also happily cheered on the the bloody invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The utter hypocrisy does not strike them.
Malala understands how poverty creates and perpetuates the very social and political ills against which she is fighting. She continuously stresses the importance of not just spreading education, but of directly combating poverty. Yet these calls fall on the selectively deaf ears of the media.
Few in the media reported when she announced:
“ I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”
This is the Malala the corporate media doesn’t quote. The media was all over the story of Malala getting shot brutally by fundamentalists, yet, no one dared mention her political activity or views.It doesn’t fit in with the prevailing narrative.
Of course, exactly what she means by socialism, we can question. After all it was made in a statement to those sympathetic to Trotskyism and is a member of such a party, yet we can understand it when she addressed the World Bank meeting:
“I think the best way to fight terrorism is not through guns. If you want to end a war through a war, it’s never going to end….Much of the money is spent on making tanks, on making guns. Much of the money is spent on soldiers. We need to spend the same money on books, on pens, on teachers, and on schools... do not fight through guns, fight through pens and through books. And take education serious.”
In her autobiography, Malala Yousafzai recalls that her grandfather “would rail against the class system, the continuing power of the khans and the gap between the haves and have-nots.” Her father was inspired by activists who “talked a lot of sense, particularly about wanting to end the feudal and capitalist systems in our country, where the same big families had controlled things for years while the poor got poorer.”
Likewise, the person who Malala shared the peace prize with, Kailash Satyarthi, campaigner for children and the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), makes uncomfortable reading for capitalist apologists.
“Children are employed not just because of parental poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, failure of development and education programmes, but quite essentially due to the fact that employers benefit immensely from child labour as children come across as the cheapest option sometimes even for free,” argues Satyarthi, whose organizing, mass marches and long-term work with the International Labour Organization, with the International Labor Rights Forum and trade union movements in India are credited with freeing tens of thousands of children from modern-day slavery. “When a child is bonded to a street restaurant, the employer is usually an ordinary person of some remote village or town,” he explains, in an analysis that invariably brings global trade and the supply chains of multinational corporations into the debate. “But when children are employed in carpet weaving, or the glass industry or the brassware industry, the employers are ‘big’ people. They generate a lot of foreign exchange through exports and are always considered favorably by the government.”
Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai are engaged activists who have not hesitated to challenge the most powerful political and economic elites in their own countries—and to challenge international leaders. Remember that, when a then–16-year-old Malala Yousafzai met with President Obama, she told the president that the drone strikes he was authorizing were wrong. And she made sure that everyone knew about it, releasing a statement that noted, “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”