Narendra Modi And The Reality Of Fascism That Haunts Us All: A Call To All Comrades To Unite!
By V. Arun Kumar
18 September, 2013
I am writing this article not for the sake of writing an article on the rise of Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate. This article is call for all revolutionary forces in India to unite to form a cohesive and effective platform to fight against the reality of fascism which haunts all of us.
The rise of Narendra Modi as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha election was not something which was unexpected, but this news chilled me to the bone. I was anxious and uncomfortable for some time. Finding me little uncomfortable, my friend looking at the scrolling on the news channel asked me little sarcastically, “So”. I understood what he meant. I just replied, “The seed of fascism is sown”.
Fascism!! Isn’t that too much of exaggeration? Well, not at all. Actually, this is a reality. To understand this reality one must open up the historical repository of fascism and compare it with the present Indian social and political scenario and try placing this man, Narendra Modi, at the centre of the picture. But before venturing into the underworld of fascism and what it has for India, let us first look into the villain figure, Modi.
Modi: Indian flag bearer of fascism
Narendrabhai Modi, the present chief minister of Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, is someone who is totally unique from all other leaders India has ever seen. India’s post independence history had numerous leaders in power who had shown authoritarian and dictatorship attitudes, but never before there was a leader in power who can be termed as the flag bearer of fascism. A very good orator, crucial leader of right wing political party, member of militant right wing cultural organisation, a staunch believer and soldier of a dominant religious ideology, a person capable of polarizing the masses in the name of religion and the poster boy of Indian bourgeois class. Ah! A perfect ten to join the league of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
The life of Modi since he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat is well known. 2002 Gujarat genocide which killed thousands of innocent people was all done under the able guidance and auspices of Modi and his fascist goons belonging to the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. His second stint as Chief Minister saw targeted killings of people from minority Muslim community and branding them as terrorists in a process of delegitimizing the minority population and tagging them as a the ‘problem’.
India: A breeding ground for fascism?
India, a country of 1.2 billion people, is simmering between the two antagonistic forces. One is of a semi feudal structure and other the emerging bourgeoisie class. Indian social and political scenario is as diverse and complex as its cultural scenario. While states like Kerala has almost come out of its feudal past; many states such as that of the middle Hindi speaking belt are dominated by the feudal landlords and their decrees. The blooming bourgeois society has also created a new middle class in the urban pockets of India. This new middle class, which considers itself the flag bearer of Indian political conscience, will play a very a vital role in fanning the fascistic winds in this country, either by supporting the tide or remaining silent to the onslaught of fascistic elements. Apart from the emerging new middle class, there exist the traditional petty bourgeoisie. Petty bourgeois, unlike the new urban middle class, is more close the proletariat masses. But this closeness is not something which is perfectly bonded. The rise in the social and economical crisis and its impact on the petty bourgeois can easily shift their loyalty towards a new viable alternative. Trotsky in his work Fascism: What it is and how to fight it argues, “Naturally, the petty bourgeois prefers order so long as business is going well and so long as he hopes that tomorrow it will go better. But when this hope is lost, he is easily enraged and is ready to give himself over to the most extreme measures. Otherwise, how could he have overthrown the democratic state and brought fascism to power in Italy and Germany.
India is in crisis, both economic and social. This crisis is the result of the contending forces of feudalism and capitalism, wherein each want to annihilate the other. While the bourgeois society wants to annihilate the feudal remnants for its growth, on the other hand the feudal forces don’t want to lose their dominance over the means of production. In this backdrop the revolutionary forces, if not becoming a cohesive and viable option can easily pave for the the emergence of fascist forces. In the process of rise of fascism, the new middle class and petty bourgeoisie will play an important role. Fascism claims answers for all the problems. And I think they have. Shocked?? Fascism is a project where the problem solving technique lies in annihilating all the factors which it thinks is leading to the ‘problem’. And if there are no ‘problem’ creating factors, then there is no problem. How was Hitler trying to solve the problem of ensuring the purity of Aryan race? Simple, exterminate all others. As it is evident from the history (Italy and Germany), fascism has always attracted societies in crisis. But why will a nation support an ideology which aims at killing people?
One has to understand that fascism never directly claimed to kill people and solve problems. No one can, unless first they are able to polarize the population and inject hatred. In this process fascism dehumanizes the minority population ‘factors to the problem’ and once dehumanized, their annihilation doesn’t pinch the conscience of the people (that is why the Germans didn’t react to the mass killings). Fascism has always done this by asserting the dominance of a particular race or religion and the need for purity. When Hitler and Mussolini used the concept of race, Modi and his Hindutva brigade is doing the same in the name of religion. India is a country of more than 80% of Hindu population. Out of this 80% population a large chunk falls under the category of highly religious and can be easily polarized and turned into the supporter of the hindu fascism band headed by Narendra Modi. Modi have shown how capable he is of polarizing the masses and injecting hatred. 2002 genocide in the Indian state of Gujarat and then the series of minority witching under the Modi regime is a perfect of reflection of how fascism can work in a democratic country without much repercussion. He was able to garner Hindu votes with his successful strategy of polarizing the population in the lines of religion and delegitimizing the minority religion.
Not only the new middle class and petty bourgeoisie which may help fascistic forces, the bourgeois class and the masses also play their role. Bourgeois capitalistic class will be the most happy to witness the rise of fascism. Industrialization is one of the prominent features of fascism. Mussolini, the infamous Italian fascist leader had said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”. Modi’s Gujarat model of development is the reflection of this. Why else are TATA, Birla and other bourgeois class are rushing towards Gujarat? Why else are the corporate leaders hailing Modi as an ideal leader? But wait! There is catch 22 situation here. While the bourgeoisie class will help the fascistic power to rise; later it will realize that fascism is a hindrance to capitalistic policy of profit making, and thus exploitation. The fascist state will channelize the industrial production for the nation (read nation of the majority) which will done by using the power of the state. This will sow the seeds of discontent between the bourgeoisie and the fascists and now the bourgeois class will again prefer the democracy over fascism. The bourgeoisie will bring down the fascism. Thus, fascism by itself is never a sustainable project. But by the time, things would have gone too far. Fascism would have already killed millions.
The rise of fascism in power will be juxtaposed with the rise of a fascistic armed militia which will try to remove all oppositions to it. Modi have his own band of fascist militia ready to work for him. We have seen in 2002 genocide and even in recent Muzaffarnagar riots how these militia of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other right wing Hindutva groups went on targeting people from minority community and killings them to create an environment of hatred and fear, the condition on which fascism thrives.
Requirement of shift in countering strategy
With Modi’s rise as PM candidate, there is requirement of shift in the strategy to counter the rise of Modi into another Hitler. In this regard, two things are very crucial. One is the requirement of shift in the strategy of fighting Modi by civil society groups and other progressive forces, and other is regarding the unity of revolutionary forces in India. Various progressive and democratic groups around the country have put up a good fight against Narendra Modi. But with the Modi’s elevation and rise of fascism an eminent reality there is an urgent need to shift the strategies. At present most of the anti Modi strategies which are going around is based on two issues. One is his role in 2002 genocide and the other is regarding his tall claims of great industrial development in his state of Gujarat. The foremost problem with this strategy is that this is mainly focused on the elite and middle class section of the society while the masses of this country remain out the realm of this discourse. One has to keep in mind, though fascism is spearheaded by a minority, it has a mass appeal. This we have seen in the post World War II Italy and Germany.
The recent trends show that the civil society and progressive forces had based their countering strategy more on countering Modi’s claims of industrial and overall economic development in Gujarat. These progressive forces are bringing in more and more statistics to show that Modi’s claims of high industrial growth and state’s development are false. But are these statistical data helping to create a momentum in masses against the fascist policies of Modi? No, this fight with technicalities and statistics can’t reach out to masses. Another, matter of the fact is that in this strategy the progressive forces are falling in the same trap they are trying to put. Trying to delegitimize the developmental claims of Modi will only make them roam around the statistics without putting up any credible fight. Mark Twain has pointed once out that “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” The fight with statistic will lead all of us to nowhere. People like Modi, who are in power, always had and will have an upper hand in creating and interpreting statistics. We need a strategy that counters fascism where it hurts most and that is at the level of the masses. The main base of fascism is the masses. Here, I am not saying that masses are fascists. The fascists indoctrinate masses through “negotiated construction of a political and ideological consensus”. The fight against the fascists has to take in account the immense importance of ideology.
Now, the question is which ideology? Of course, to fight fascists you need a inclusive revolutionary ideology. Here comes the limitation attached to civil society and democratic groups, they lack an ideology. Unfortunately, their fight fails to go beyond the sphere of the larger middle class. I am nowhere trying to belittle the hard work done by the civil society and the progressive sections of the society in fight against the fascistic elements and they have to continue their fight. But one has to understand that fascism is attached to an ideology and to fight this one need to use another ideology as a weapon.
Now, when I am speaking about a revolutionary ideology it is the ideology of communism. Antonio Gramsci and Leon Trotsky, two Marxist politicians and authors, have done extensive work on fascism and the fight against it. Gramsci, one of the greatest Marxist thinkers of 20th century, unfortunately died fighting fascism. He was the only person who said that the rise of fascism was possible when all other, including members of his own communist party, thought otherwise. Gramsci and Trotsky both had put immense emphases on a workers movement to stop the rise of fascism. And when they say workers movement, it is the communist party. Now let’s come back to India. What is the position of communist party in India?
Left factionalism in India: A perfect chance for the rise of fascism
In India, left (communists) rather than becoming one cohesive and unitary force were splitting like amoebas in past six decades. I myself part of a left wing student organisation, seriously, have no idea how many communist parties are there in India. Some are in mainstream democratic politics, while others are in armed movement. I am here nowhere trying to go in for a debate about which communist party among the more than two dozens is a real party of the masses or what are the issues and reasons of their split. But one is thing for sure, how much big or small these parties are, none of them represent the whole working class of India. Masses are confused. They are confused who is the real revolutionary among the dozens. And this is perfect fissure in the revolutionary movement which will help fascistic elements in this country to rope onto the masses.
I remember a paragraph from Trotsky's work, Fascism: What it is and how to fight it;
A cattle dealer once drove some bulls to the slaughterhouse. And the butcher came night with his sharp knife.
"Let us close ranks and jack up this executioner on our horns," suggested one of the bulls.
"If you please, in what way is the butcher any worse than the dealer who drove us hither with his cudgel?" replied the bulls, who had received their political education in Manuilsky's institute. [The Comintern.]
"But we shall be able to attend to the dealer as well afterwards!"
"Nothing doing," replied the bulls firm in their principles, to the counselor. "You are trying, from the left, to shield our enemies -- you are a social-butcher yourself."
And they refused to close ranks.
The what? Well, the rest is history and can be guessed.
My intention of writing this article is to call on to all comrades to unite. The rise of Modi and fascism is a reality which haunts all of us today. Gramsci has pointed out the dangers of rise of fascism, but the lack of larger understanding of this failed to create an effective fight against fascism. Today, the necessity is that all revolutionary forces have to unite and create a strong workers movement against the fascistic elements in the society.
And if we fail and the present scenario continues, then India is doomed.
V. Arun Kumar is a political activist and a student of Masters in International Relations at South Asian University, New Delhi, India. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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