Strikes in Western Europe/India

Rahul Mahajan rahul at peaches.ph.utexas.edu
Mon May 20 18:05:59 MDT 1996


Well, Rakesh, I'm not going to tackle the larger issue you mentioned,
especially since I have not really thought seriously about the situation in
India in almost a year.

As far as the election results go, I'm not sure what they really tell us.
The fatuous assurance some leftists had after the last assembly elections
that the BJP had peaked and was going to go steadily downhill has been
exploded, but it was clearly wrong even at the time. The performance of the
third front is just a part of the normal up and down, and in fact is not
nearly as much of an up as was expected. After all, the same grouping
formed the government not much over 5 years ago. It does signal that the
logic of neoliberalism has not really penetrated the electorate as it has
in the First World, but that's only to be expected. It's going to take a
lot to sell the beggars and the starving peasants on the American Dream.
The dominance of the Congress Party has effectively been broken, but that
seems to be neither here nor there. An opportunist coalition within a
single party will be replaced by a multiparty opportunist coalition.

About the question of crisis, it's clearly too early to see. Vajpayee's
politics does not differ appreciably from Rao's, but then Rao was clearly
anything but a secularist. With the good cop as prime minister, the bad cop
will clearly have a lot more room to maneuver. I am not at all convinced
that there will be any worse abuses (massacres, for example) now than there
were before, even assuming the government will last past May 31, which
seems unlikely. If it does, it will have to rely on the support of many
parties that won't countenance a Hindu fundamentalist agenda, so I think
there is little question of fundamentalist/theocratic legislation. Of
course, the question of whether they will attempt fascist-type measures to
rule and to perpetuate their rule, much as the Shiv Sena do in Bombay is a
real one. It doesn't seem like it could happen any time in the near future,
but I daresay Germans said the same thing in 1932. Democracy is clearly not
so deeply ingrained in Indians that such a thing is unthinkable. On the
other hand, I don't think that classical fascism is a viable possibility in
the modern world, at least if you exclude some very isolated and backward
countries. I can't see the BJP or anyone else trying to institute autarchy,
at the very least. Prognostication is a very dangerous business, but I
don't really see the signs of incipient fascism.

Rahul




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