[Marxism] Re: Is BJP Fascist? (was Fascist Intell ectualsc)
ewjohnson72 at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 28 18:22:13 MDT 2006
This was written in 2002
Resisting the Fascists through Self-Organisation and Struggle: The Only Road Forward
Soma Marik and Kunal Chattopadhyay[*]
The protracted, systematic, and state-sponsored anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat, which has led to the death of thousands, to the uprooting of well over a hundred thousand people to the relief camps (and an unknown number to relatives and friends) to large scale and systematic violence on women, including rape, mass rape, gang rape, rape followed by injury and burning to death, and to a massive economic destruction of property belonging to Muslims, has revealed with utmost clarity the overt fascist outlook of the Sangh Parivar. By invoking spuriously Newton's Third Law, by punishing those police officers who tried to prevent the carnage, and by publicly aiding the mobs, Narendra Modi and many of his cabinet colleagues have shown themselves to be accomplices in the genocide. By protecting Narendra Modi, by blackmailing its so-called secular allies of the NDA, by putting up a sustained fight against discussion of the Gujarat issue under Article 184 in Parliament, and above all
by the public utterances of Vajpayee, including his statement that wherever Muslims go, riots occur, the central BJP leadership and the leadership of the Central Government have also demonstrated that the fascist agenda of the RSS will from now on be pushed, not only at the level of Gujarat, but also at the all India level.
This means that it is not enough to mobilise only to get relief, nor to protest against Modi. This means it is now necessary to form a coalition against fascism, for democracy and secularism at the all India level. However, forming such a coalition calls for deciding what is the nature of the fascism of the Sangh Parivar, and how we propose to fight it.
1.. The fascist orientation: a. B. S. Moonje, a mentor of K. B. Hegdewar, was deeply influenced by Nazism and particularly Italian Fascism. Between February and March 1931, on his return from the Round Table Conference, Moonje made a tour to Europe, which included a long stop-over in Italy. There he visited some important military schools and educational institutions. The highlight of the visit was the meeting with Mussolini. Once Moonje was back in India, he kept a promise made to himself and started immediately to work for the foundation of a military school and for the militant reorganisation of Hindu society in Maharashtra. He really did not waste time, for, as soon as he reached Pune, he gave an interview to The Mahratta. Regarding the military reorganisation of the Hindu community, he stressed the necessity to 'Indianise' the army and expressed the hope that conscription would become compulsory and an Indian would be put in-charge of the defence ministry. He finally
made a clear reference to the Italian and German examples: "In fact, leaders should imitate the youth movements of Germany and the Balilla and Fascist organisations of Italy. I think they are eminently suited for introduction in India, adapting them to suit the special conditions. I have been very much impressed by these movements and I have seen their activities with my own eyes in all details".
Soon fascism became a subject of public debate and Hedgewar himself was among the promoters of a campaign in favour of the militarisation of society, according to fascist patterns. On January 31, 1934, Hedgewar presided over a conference about fascism and Mussolini, organised by Kavde Shastri. Moonje made the concluding speech.
b. If this seems inadequate, Golwalkar leaves us in no doubt. In his We, or Our Nationhood Defined, he wrote : "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her (sic) purging the country of the Semitic Races - the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." In the same work, he explained the political conclusion that needed to be drawn: "The foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must loose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu
Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment - not even citizen's rights. There is, at least, should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country."
c. The avowal of the Nazis as an ideal was further explained by Anthony Elenjimittan, a Christian convert to the RSS outlook. "The RSS from the very inception of the movement hoisted Bhagva flag, Dharma Chakra and Satya Meva Jayte as their symbols, and have grown around these patriotic ideals. Hence, the RSS youth, given more favourable circumstances can be in India what was Hitler youth in Germany, fascist youth in Italy. If discipline, organised centralism and organic collective consciousness means fascism, then the RSS is not ashamed to be called fascist. The silly idea that fascism and totalitarianism are evils and parliamentarism and Anglo-Indian types of democracy are holy, should be got rid of from our minds .." (The Philosophy and Action of the RSS for the Hind Swaraj, p.197).
d. Though the RSS today pretends that the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha were totally distinct, in fact there was both considerable overlap between the two organizations, and a great degree of ideological overlap. The key Hindu Mahasabha ideologue, V. D. Savarkar, put forward many of the crucial aspects of present day RSS doctrine. It was Savarkar who first argued that territorial nationalism was a wrong concept. Those who did not have their punyabhumi at the same place as their pitribhumi could not be equal citizens. This ruled out Muslims and Christians. Golwalkar later added communists, asserting that they were all people having their punyabhumi in Russia. In place of territorial nationalism, Savarkar argued, what was needed was cultural nationalism, equating religion with culture. Likewise, it was Savarkar who advocated flatly the need to push Muslims into second-class citizen status. It was Savarkar who created the basic ingredients of the picture of the Muslim as the
eternal enemy who must be fought by a so-called Hindu awakening.
2.. The Nature of Fascism: However, one cannot prove that the RSS, or the Hindu Mahasabha etc were in any sense fascist simply through analogies and through quotations showing their leaders had a liking for the Nazis. That does prove their extreme-right, authoritarian bent of mind and political orientation. But that is not by itself enough to show they were fascists. In the case of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, we need to look at both the reasons why we call them fascists, and the nature of their distinctiveness compared to classical fascism. However, this calls for, first of all, a better understanding of fascism itself. In much of the Indian left, the view of fascism that still prevails is the view created by the Communist International in the Stalinist era. This had two variants, and we will argue that both were wrong.
At the time of the Fifth congress of the Communist International (1924), Stalin and Zinoviev were pretending to extreme leftism, accusing Trotsky of being semi-Menshevik. At that stage, Stalin put forward a definition of fascism that concealed the distinct character of the fascists by imputing fascism more or less indiscriminately to all parties other than the communist party. The essential element of Stalin's definition is that fascism and social democracy are not antipodes but twins, and that social democracy is, in fact a left mask of fascism (whence the epithet "social-fascists"). Taken up further by the Executive Committee of the CI and the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1929-33, this came to mean that all parties, apart from the Communist Party, were in some measure fascist. This meant further that any special attention to building an anti-fascist proletarian united front was uncalled for. Assuming all parties to be simply reactionary, the Communist Party of
Germany in 1929-33 targeted the Social Democrats rather than the Nazis. They even, at times, joined hands with the Nazis in tactical anti-social Democrat struggles, as when the Communist party and the Nazi Party both sponsored a referendum against the Social Democratic provincial government of Prussia. Subsequently, as late as November 1932, the Communist party and the Nazis had their trade unions in agreement, at a time when the Communist party was refusing to have united front with the Social Democrats even at the level of the trade unions. Within this "ultra-left" position, there already existed embryonically the rightwing definition. Stalin had written that "fascism is the bourgeoisie's fighting organization that relies on the active support of Social Democracy". Evidently, if the latter could be detached, it would be nice. And as appetite comes with eating, it would be even nicer if the "friends of peace", "democrats" and all other non-fascist bourgeois elements could
also be brought into an antifascist front. So Dimitrov, who in 1931 had urged united action of the KPD and the Nazis to speed up the revolution, called in 1935 for an all embracing united front and an effective liquidation of the Communist Party and the Communist International.
The Seventh Congress definition, in fact, called fascism the most reactionary wing of imperialism. From this, two conclusions can be drawn. First, that fascism is a creation of imperialism. Second, that it is the agent of a more or less well defined segment of imperialism, so that the opponents of that wing can be roped in the anti-fascist alliance. Moreover, the first conclusion can lead to a further conclusion, namely, that the social base being purely manipulated, its aspirations, and the specific ways in which that has an impact on the state form, the relationship between the different classes and social groups, etc., are irrelevant. Both ultraleftism and class collaborationism can flow out of this erroneous definition.
In fact, the history of fascism shows that it originated as a distinct petty bourgeois movement which aimed at capturing power. In the long run, any such movement, in order to come to power, must compromise with big capital. In power, it must serve the capitalist mode of production and its conditions of reproduction. But an analysis which confies itself to this truism fails to realise the concrete ways in which the fascist organisation and the fascist movement are built up, the steps on the road to power, etc. And therefore it fails also to develop proper resistance, just as Stalinism failed. Social Demcracy, which based itself on the organised working class, could serve capitalism only as long as a democratic system, with parliaments, legal trade unions, and other aspects of democracy were in operation. Within the bourgeois democratic system, all parties that serve the ruling class take action against the working class from time to time. But the Social Democracy could
"deliver the goods" to the capitalist class only if they were in turn willing to pay a social cost. The condition for Social Democratic normalisation was the creation of a welfare state, the maintenance of relatively stable economic conditions for the workers, accepting their right to strike and get better living conditions, and so on. From the time of the Great Depression, the overwhelming majority of the German bourgeoisie was determined not to accept the Social Democracy in government for precisely this reason. The fall of the Hermann Mueller government and the coming of Bruening as Chancellor meant a determination of the bourgeoisie to cobble together a rightwing government, with the help of the Christian Democratic Party, the Liberals of the DDP, and the two main parties of the traditional right - the German Nationalist Party and the German Peoples' Party. They expected the Nazi party to play only a limited role in this alignment. But the Nazi leaders were determined.
They wanted full power for themselves. They refused to support any Centre-Right government. After the elections of 1930, this meant that no stable parliamentary government was possible. The Communists and the Social Democrats (the latter by compulsion, since the bourgeois parties would not take them in government) on the Left and the Nazis on the Right had enough seats to destabilise any other combination. The Nazis with 108 seats were the biggest gainers and the second biggest party in the country. Fearing their power, the Social Democrats declared a policy of "toleration" of Chancellor Bruening as the "lesser evil". This meant that Bruening's, and subsequently the even more right-wing Chancellor Papen's, anti-working class policies were not met head on with all out battles that refused to compromise in the name of the Nazi threat. Far from weakening the Nazis, this strengthened them. The Social Democrats appeared as merely verbal opponents of the status quo, so those who
were losing out as a result of the great depression turned either to the Communists or to the Nazis. Among the petty bourgeoisie, the turn was sharply to the Nazis. One can trace with precision the decline of the fortunes of the liberal party, and partly of the nationalist party, and the growth of the Nazi vote. Yet history shows that where the working class has fought resolutely, it has been able to rally the petty bourgeoisie behind it in an anti-capitalist direction. Indeed, as modern studies, like those of Detlef Muhlberger, show, the impact of the depression which threw many workers out of jobs into insecure income hunting, was to make even sections of the working class, especially by 1932, turn to the Nazis. As for the Communist party, it, too, was strengthened, showing the possibility of polarisation. But with the policy of "Social Fascism", the Communist party rejected any serious united front with the Social Democracy. Now a united front is not made with those
with whom one agrees. A united front against fascism implies an agreement between the working class parties, despite all other differences, to fight together against the fascists, against attacks launched by the fascists, in defence of democratic rights. Not forming such a united front was a very serious failure. Thus, at one level, there was a failure to comprehend the nature of the Nazis - that they were not simply hired gangs but an organisation created through a definite ideology, and at another level there was the failure to build the united front.
What was the nature of Nazi ideology? Central to fascism as a mass phenomenon is the development of a powerful and extendable enemy image through appropriating stray elements from past prejudices, combining them with new ones skilfully dressed up as old verities, and broadcasting the resultant compound through the most up-to-date media techniques. In Germany this was how the Jews were represented in Nazi propaganda. There are two sides to this, which must be remembered. In power, the Nazis did not (could not) simply give up their anti-Jewish slogans. Beginning with restrictive laws on Jews, ejection of Jews from academic and administrative positions, curbs on Jewish small business, etc, they went on to commit the worst genocide in modern history. However irrational this might seem from a purely economic logic of capitalism, the German capitalist class had to acquiesce to this. The other side of the story was, that while the Nazis politically expropriated the bourgeoisie
and all their traditional retainers, in return, they did render yeoman service to the German bourgeoisie. On the eve of 30th January 1933, when Hitler became the Chancellor, the Social Democratic party published no fewer than 196 daily newspapers, 18 weeklies and on monthly theoretical journal. The German Trade Union Federation, allied with the Social Democrats, also published numerous journals. With a membership of 5 million, they commanded an entire parallel apparatus alongside the party. Then there was the Communist party, whose membership of 350,000 was about a third of the 1 million strong Social Democracy. They too had a trade union wing - much smaller, but still claiming 320,000 members. Taking overlapping memberships into account, this still meant a six million people organised in leftist parties and unions. At election times they gathered around themselves a further six to seven million votes. Indeed, in the last free parliamentary elections of November 1932, the
combined votes of the Communists and Socialists exceeded by nearly 1.5 million that of the Nazis. A year later, all this was smashed, in utter ruins. Between 1932 and 1937, the bosses' share of the GNP went up by close to 11%. Despite a growth in employment figures due to the end of the Depression and the beginning of rearmament by Germany, the total wage bill went down. The Nazis had kept their side of the bargain.
The Spanish experience shows the other side of the coin. At this point, after the Nazi victory, the Communist International swung over to the opposite error and now embraced the discredited policy of the Social Democrats. Since fascism was the enemy, all anti-fascist capitalists were to be kept happy. In Spain, a revolutionary wave was progressing. To stall that, Generals Franco, Mola and Sanjurjo staged a coup. In response, the workers in the major cities rose up. In Barcelona, factories were taken over by the workers. In the name of the united front, Social Democrats and official Communists disarmed the workers, murdered their radical Anarchist, Trotskyist and POUMist leaders and returned factories to their "rightful owners". The morale of the workers was broken. And the capitalists switched over to Franco in due course.
There are many lessons from these events that we need to relearn. First, we need to understand that people turn to fascism - ordinary human beings turn to it in desperation, and therefore we need to wage a sustained struggle, without the artificial separation of economic and political from socio-cultural the way much of Indian leftism does. Second, we need a united front, but not any kind of united front. We need to struggle, not merely against the BJP government, but against the fascist strategy of the Sangh Parivar. In the next section, we will turn to these issues. But before that, let us state briefly what we take fascism to be:
Any definition of fascism that has as its aim the prosecution of a successful struggle against fascism must include the following elements: Fascism is the product of the declining periods of capitalism of the age of imperialism. It is a mass movement, based chiefly on the petty bourgeoisie, and the diverse intermediate strata between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In its origins, it is not a creation of the big bourgeoisie. In countries where proletarian struggles have a long history, the most advantageous form of rule is bourgeois democracy, because it permits a recurrent reduction of social tensions through regular elections, changes in governments, reforms, and because a great part of the upper classes come to wield power through various institutions like parties, newspapers, the bureaucracy, the economic bodies, the institutions of local self-government, etc. But the stability of this model of bourgeois rule is dependent on a particular balance of social and
economic forces. If the equilibrium goes, the big bourgeoisie fights as it can to defend its historic interests. For this, it is willing to put up with considerable state autonomy and even a consequent loss of political power. With the growth of a powerful proletariat, forms of authoritarianism that had been adequate in the past are now inadequate. Hence, fascist leaders try to come to terms with the big bourgeoisie, pointing out the difficulties in achieving the desired sift in reallocation of surplus through a purely police state set up. The fascist solution is the establishment of a counter mobilization, based on "nation" instead of "class". The fascists want, not just to "defeat" the workers, but to destroy their entire sense of class, all their organisations, etc., through a combination of alternative ideology and mass terror "from below", from within civil society, as well as, rather than only through, agencies of the state like the police.
This explains both why large sections of the bourgeoisie are not easily attracted by fascism, and why at times the fascist appeal increases so much. Under "normal" circumstances, i.e., when profit-making is easy, the fascist movement seems, to bosses, only another mass movement, capable of disturbing the peace and causing loss of profits, etc. The ideological elements like anti-Semite or anti-Muslim politics appear as irritants at best and dangerous at worst. Even in such situations, capitalists use fascist gangs to break up strikes occasionally, frighten trade unionists, and the like. At the same time, precisely because of the distancing between the big bourgeoisie and the fascists, fascism is able to assume a "truly national" supra-class appearance, though its exact structure and contents naturally vary from country to country. Ideologically, fascism claims to struggle against particularity, to subordinate it to the "totality", the "organic" or the "nation" in order
to establish "harmony". Fascism is an illusory transcendence of particularity. It seeks to "overcome" class conflicts on the basis of and within the framework of the existing class society. The fascist ideology seeks to negate the concepts of freedom and equality. It is not by accident that in 1933 Goebbels said that the Nazi victory meant that "by this we have obliterated the year 1789 from history". For the petty bourgeoisie, the growth of capitalism only brings increasing fear of freedom, for freedom appear as the freedom of big capital to accumulate and the freedom of the working class to organize. By revoking the ideal of liberty, fascism appears to save the interests of the petty bourgeoisie, which wants the reestablishment of the "ancient harmony", but actually serves the big bourgeoisie by announcing the truth of modern capitalist society and elevating its actual practice to the status of a principle. Equality is also revoked, by an apparent rationality that is
heavily conditioned by the social psychology of the petty bourgeoisie.
3. The RSS: Fascism with Specifically Indian Traits : When we discuss the Sangh Parivar, therefore, we can situate its specificities within the matrix of the wider fascist type organisations and movements. That the Sangh Parivar is an all-pervasive combine working in all types of sectors in civil society today requires little elaboration. It has specific organisations for virtually every conceivable situation and for every type of its potential cadre force. Secondly, it has created assiduously an enemy image of the Muslim, which then steadily expands to engulf all manner of others. "The foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must loose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation,
claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment - not even citizen's rights. There is, at least, should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country". Thus spoke Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, in We or Our Nationhood Defined. This has been the outlook for six decades. And the enemy image has spread. Read the pages of the Organiser for 1991-92-93, and you will find references to the Red-Green Alliance. This is not an ecologist-socialist bloc, but a communist and Muslim (or, in their parlance, a communist-communalist) alliance - communalist, because according to their myth, only Muslims are communalists, and all Muslims are virtually communalists.
4. However, it is not this alone that makes them fascist. We could then have simply equated them with the Taliban or with Ayatollah Khomeini. It is the specific relationship that they aspire to develop in relation to the Indian bourgeoisie that must be kept in mind. The RSS on one hand aims to clearly keep its agenda intact, and it has shown itself willing to let go of temporary advantages like ruling through coalition governments. When the Dual membership issue first came up in 1979, its members were to stick firmly to the RSS, resulting in the fall of the Janata Party government. During the recent Gujarat carnage and its aftermath, we have seen the BJP leaders of the Central Government stick up shamelessly for Modi, without whose support the genocide could not have happened. They threw down the gauntlet to their so-called secular allies mumbling about the secular programme of the NDA, and forced them all to back down. They bought up Mayawati, showing how easily all
shades of bourgeois politicians will switch sides, even if they claim to represent the dalits. But at the same time, the RSS has a definite class agenda in its own way. Right from the 1930s, Moonje, one of the inspirations behind Hedgewar, made it clear that for the forces of the Hindutva right, communism and socialism were fundamental enemies. M.S. Golwalkar for his part explained this equally bluntly. In the aftermath of Gandhi's murder, when the RSS was banned, Golwalkar's exchanges with Patel show him offering a pact to Patel, on the basis of a shared hostility to communism. And when Golwalkar and his followers talk of communism, we need to understand it very ecumenically. Just as when Hitler ranted against Marxism, he made no distinction between Social Democrat, Communist, dissident Communist, or just trade unionist with a degree of proletarian class-consciousness, the same is true of the RSS. From the faintest pink to the most ultra-red, all come under its scanner.
The RSS-BJP bloc is willing to fight in its own way against the working class. It is willing to smash every form of independent proletarian organisation. In the few years of the NDA, more "progress" has been made with neoliberal globalisation than in the years of the United Front and the Congress. In the United Front, the left parties had gone along, but constantly putting a brake on the forward march. The death and retirement of the older generation of left leaders with their residuary emotional attachment to slogans and demands made for entire lifetimes and the rise of a Blair look-alike in West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has made possible further accommodation to the bourgeoisie on the part of the left, but more of that later. The Congress, likewise, had constantly faced a tussle between those advocating liberalization and those wishing to retain some measure of state control as a populist sop. The BJP, and its forerunner the Jana Sangh, had been
advocates of full-fledged privatization since inception, and they had no hang-ups. They were therefore able to push through a much more drastic and brutal privatization, opening up the insurance sector, closing down many public sector enterprises, selling others, etc, paying absolutely no heed to the struggles of the working class. At the same time, they realize that at each step they are raising up working class protests, and they are willing and able to use their forces from inside civil society to smash these protests. The big bourgeoisie and the mainstream media had been ruing the slow-down of "reforms" by 1996-7, and they welcomed the Vajpayee governments. Of course, there are important differences between India and Nazi Germany. The Indian big bourgeoisie is not an imperialist bourgeoisie seeking to regain its lost weight in the world economy and politics. Nor is there a serious threat of a proletarian revolution in India. That has made the big bourgeoisie less
willing to put up with the excesses of the fascists. At the same time, two other factors need to be taken into account. The first is the threat of imperialist globalisation. The Indian rulers cannot hope to defeat imperialism in the capitalist framework. So, in order to keep afloat and make gains, they do need to destroy the institutions of working class power. The second factor is that fascism in Italy and Germany had come to power within a relatively brief period of being formed. Indian fascism has had a much longer innings as an autonomous force. As a result, even if, in the long run, it will serve capitalism, in the here and now, its autonomy is greater. Throughout 1930-33, Hitler assiduously paid court to the capitalists. He could afford to bare his teeth at them only after vanquishing all his political opponents. By contrast, even the very timid manner of protest by sections of the CII brought the BJP's thunderbolts on its head.
5.. So how do we fight this fascist force? The answer lies through a series of negations - or stating how we should not fight it, because these are routes to disaster. The biggest error is that committed by every major political party including the mainstream left. This is the strategy of fighting solely the BJP. Yes, today there are far fewer provincial governments in the hands of the BJP than there had been some while back. But why? Does this prove people have risen up against fascism? No, it only shows that electorates have decided to fight misgovernance. Does this give us a brief respite? Yes - but only on condition that we do not think this to be a victory for us. This is an electoral setback for the BJP, through no positive action on our part, and this is not a political set-back for the RSS. Look back over a span of two decades. Has the RSS become weaker or stronger? In 1979, the Janata split over the Dual membership issue. In 1984 the BJP went alone and got knocked
out. Today, there is no party which can say that it has never formed some kind of a bloc somewhere with the BJP. In West Bengal, in its bid to topple the Left Front, the Congress (not merely Mamata Banerjee) has often entered into local level adjustments with the BJP, though this has not been a general strategy. In the case of the left Front, one has only to remember that even as the RSS began its Ram Janmabhoomi wave, the Left and V.P. Singh were in alliance with the BJP. Every so-called secular bourgeois party has at some time been a BJP ally. The SP of Mulayam Singh will be cited as a resolute anti-BJP force. Apart from the fact that Mulayam as Chief Minister of UP was an ally of the BJP during the first phase of the VP Singh era, one needs to understand that the kind of ultranationalist rhetoric he unfolds whenever tension grows with Pakistan, makes it perfectly easy to disarm his opposition to the BJP even at the party level. Moreover, as we remarked earlier, all
these parties do no more than oppose the BJP at the hustings. For several decades, indeed for the major part of the 20th Century, militant Hindutva-based fundamentalism and its fascistic form has been carrying out systematic propaganda. What have all these parties done to combat that? As practising teachers who are concerned about the spread of communalism through education, let us take the case of West Bengal, where there exists a government which in words is most resolutely fighting fascism. But this province, which boasts of a supposedly Marxist government, inculcates a Hindu communal view of modern India history to school and college students. Both the authors are long standing members of an association which stands for fighting against communalism in history writing and teaching, and one of them is engaged in teaching modern Indian history to college students for well over a decade. It is our experience that year after year, the question papers in schools, colleges,
board and university examinations, routinely include stuff like the following: "Was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan a forerunner of the Two Nation Theory?", "Trace the genesis of Muslim Communalism since 1905", 'Discuss the role of Muslim Communalism in the partition", and so on. Yet one never gets questions dealing with the growth of 'cultural nationalism' and its transformation into aggressive Hindu communalism, the role of Hindu communalism in the freedom struggle (or rather, its lack of a role), and the like. There are treatments of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and M. A. Jinnah which make it clear that the paper seter expects the student to deal with these personalities in the light of the student's knowledge of 1947 and the violence of partition. Never has Shyama Prosad Mukherjee, V.D.Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS, etc been treated the way they deserve. The Arya Samaj is routinely lumped with the Brahmo Samaj as "reformers", never mind what sort of reforms with what kind of a
political agenda. In other words, the mythic history of the RSS has been accepted as standard common sense by a large part of a supposedly left intelligentsia and a supposedly left government, precisely because they have never bothered to look into the civil society dimension of the RSS struggle for hegemony.
6.. So the first strategy to avoid is that of cobbling up any odd combination that will keep the BJP out of government. Are we therefore arguing that the BJP should be kept in power? Certainly we are not putting forward any such argument. What we are saying is that the war of seats, the war of loaves and fishes carried out by the bourgeois parties is a war where the working people should not consent to become load bearers for one of the contending sides. In Marxist terms, this is the principle of the self-emancipation of the proletariat. Classical Marxism, as it was developed between 1844 and 1895, began with the assertion of the principle of proletarian self-emancipation and class socialism. What was unique about Marx and Engels was that they were not theorists of communism who latched on to the proletariat and its struggles as a possible vehicle to achieve success through. Rather, they believed that communism was the result of the proletariat's own struggle for
emancipation. This was a principle that Marx adopted as a consistent democrat, even before he became a communist. As the Communist Manifesto affirmed: "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority in the interest of the immense majority." So intense was their feeling on this point, that having worked with Proudhonists, English trade unionists, and all other manner of activists within a common organisation, the one category of people with whom they refused to cooperate in the framework of a united organisation were those who opposed this principle. In a celebrated 'Circular Letter' of 1879, Marx and Engels wrote : "For almost forty years we have stressed the class struggle as the immediate driving power of history.....; when the International was formed we expressly formulated the battle cry : The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. We cannot therefore cooperate with people
who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must be freed from above by philanthropic big bourgeois and petty bourgeois." It is not a more commitment to democracy. Going beyond that, it is an emphasis on the fact that people fight for their demands, for their needs, educate themselves in course of such struggles, and thereby raise the struggle to new heights. This disposes of the false dichotomy of leader and led ¾ the latter a product of the objective situation that binds them to the existing society, the former a group of wise men who have escaped the debilitating influence of the rotten society and are therefore fit to lead. Such a view necessarily combines the most vulgar mechanical determinism with the most extreme forms of voluntarism, for on one hand, human conditions are wholly given by the past, and on the other, a minority has escaped the conditioning, presumably by will power, and can make history by sheer will power. It is
our argument that one does not need to be a Marxist in the strict sense in order to accept this proposition. Indeed, Marx believed that this was a formulation which could unite most currents of political and social movement and thought within the working class. Likewise, we believe that this principle can be extended to say that the emancipation of all oppressed and exploited peoples will be their own tasks, and reliance on institutions of purely parliamentary democracy, through representatives whose horizons do not move out of the portals of parliament, will be fatal to any such struggle for emancipation. Strategies of fighting the RSS and the BJP are not all alike, because, one must ask, why are these people fighting to throw out the BJP? Is it because they are committed to a more just, more socially equitable, more committed to substantive equality of rights, society? Or is it because they want to replace the BJP as the trusted political lieutenants of capital by
themselves? Even if they appear to be sincere in their opposition to the communalism of the BJP, we need to ask both this last question, and whether they, while being opponents of the fascist form of communalism, are not willing to use softer variants of communalism tactically. Three instances will be given here. The first deals with Congress(I). In the mid-1980s, it was to stoke up Hindu communalism in connection with Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots after the murder of Indira Gandhi, and it was again to open the Babri Masjid dispute a few years later. Permission for Shilanyas came, lest we forget it today, from the Congress(I) under the "modernising" Rajiv Gandhi. The second example comes from the "Secular" parties of the "Third Front". Two of the oldest partners of this Front were the DMK, led by M. Karunanidhi, and the TDP, led first by NT Rama Rao and then by Chandrababu Naidu. For them, regional equations and their regional rivalries with the Congress were
enough to switch to the BJP, and they have stuck to this ally now through thick and thin. Neither did they fight over issues like the communalisation of education by Murli Manohar Joshi, nor have they now seen fit to leave the NDA even after the communal pogrom-genocide in Gujarat. Finally, the new dispensation Left Front and its leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came up with the view that it is Madrasa education that is the breeding ground for terrorism. This is to argue, subtly, that while all Muslims may not be terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims, and further, that while all Maulavis may not be training terrorists, all terrorists get their initiation into terroristhood sitting at the feet of the Muslim ulama or sections of them. This came, we would argue, because of a need to win over a soft Hindutva-tilted Bengali petty bourgeoisie. A national coalition seriously committed to fighting the Hindutva forces must begin by stating its emphatic independence from all these
parties and blocs.
7.. But, it will be argued, we need a breathing space, and it is only by getting rid of the current government that we will get this breathing space. We question this manner of presentation of arguments. If we build up a coalition with the starting premise that we must support an anti-BJP government, we will find ourselves hamstrung in other vital issues. For example, this alliance must accept, in our view, a policy of fighting communalism across the sub-continent consistently. This would mean fighting for the rights of Bangladeshi Hindus equally strongly. This will be argued in greater details below. What we are saying is that this, and other strategies, would have to be subordinated continuously to the task of "preserving" the "anti-fascist" government. Take the case of the anti-globalisation movement. A strong fight against it will see many of the bourgeois parties, beginning with the Congress, resisting it, and sending in the police against strikers, threatening to use
laws to bust unions, etc. We would be constantly pulling back such struggles in the name of toppling the government. The alternative road has been shown, for example, by the people of Argentina.
8.. Fighting the RSS, as opposed to merely fighting the BJP electorally, means adopting a tactic of united front and projecting a multidimensional secularism described by Sumit Sarkar some years back: "What is necessary today is the recognition that secularism can and indeed does have many meanings, that its wide and varied spectrum can extend from the devoutly religious to the freethinker-atheist, on a common minimum ground of total rejection of communal hatred and a theocratic state. This does not mean that non-religious secularists should engage in a breast-beating exercise for having been 'alienated' from the 'mainstream' and suddenly claim to be more 'truly' Hindu or Muslim than the VHP or the Muslim fundamentalist. (They are less alienated, surely, from Indian culture or elementary human values than those young men of Surat who, in the name of Hindutva, videotaped their gang-rape of Muslim women. The tape, I have been told, is being avidly watched at evening parties
in some affluent Bombay homes.) It involves, rather, an awareness that even profound differences need not rule out common action in defense of basic human values, that, as Trotsky had once said while pleading for a united front against Fascism, it is possible to "march separately, but strike together".
That the Hindutva forces are afraid of such unity is indicated by their persistent efforts to brand secularism and indeed all anti-communal attitudes as necessarily somehow anti-Hindu. Simultaneously they try to conflate secularism uniquely with the policies of the 'Nehruvian' state, thus making it bear the burden of the many sins of opportunism, excessive and bureaucratic centralisation and repression of which that state has been often guilty. Here, once again, current intellectual tendencies have provided respectability to such critiques, for it is often assumed nowadays that secularism was a creation of the now much-abused Enlightenment rationalism and scepticism, brought into India in the baggage of colonial discourse, and subsequently embodied in the repressive nation-states that have emerged on the western pattern. Actually, even in Europe, the roots of secularism go back at least another 200 years, to the times of the religious wars ('communal riots', we might
legitimately call them) sparked off by the Reformation. The first advocates of toleration based on separation of church from state were not rationalist freethinkers, but the Anabaptists, minority trends passionately devoted to their own brand of Christianity, who still believed, perhaps due to their own experiences, that coercion, persecution and any kind of compulsory state religion was contrary to true faith.
In India, as in other countries with multiple religious traditions, the need and therefore the bases of co-existence are broader and deeper than the teachings of the vast majority of holy men of all creeds or the policies of many kings, among whom Akbar is only the best remembered. They have been grounded in the necessities of daily existence itself, which might occasionally produce conflict, but also tend towards the restoration of interdependence - if allowed to do so by organised communal forces, which means less and less often nowadays. And if communalism shatters everyday existence, it simultaneously halts and turns back all efforts to improve the condition of living through striving to reduce exploitation and want. It does so in two fundamental ways: by shattering the unity and struggle of toilers and all the subordinate groups, and fostering, within the rigid community boundaries it erects, tendencies towards ruthless homogenisation. Such homogenisation invariably
helps the groups and interests occupying positions of power - in the context of Hindu communalism, most obviously, the high caste elite. It is noteworthy how every move towards implementing even the fairly limited measures towards social justice promised by the Mandal recommendations are being, met by a Hindutva offensive. The noticeable silences so far about specific socio-economic issues in the programmes and activities of Hindutva (no effort has been made to spell out the 'roti' concomitant of Ram, and that slogan itself seems forgotten) can be made into a space for effective secular intervention - provided, however, the habit of segregating the 'economic' and 'political' from the 'cultural' or 'ideological', fairly deep-rooted in Indian Left traditions, is abandoned. Anti-communal campaigns cannot be left to seminars or middle-class cultural programmes alone, important though these are, nor can everyday economic struggles afford to skirt questions of religion,
communalism and ideology in the facile hope that material issues and 'real' class identities will automatically assert themselves." (Sumit Sarkar, 'The Fascism of the Sangh Parivar', reprinted in K. Chattopadhyay ed - The Genocidal Pogroms in Gujarat: The Anatomy of Indian Fascism, Baroda 2002.) In the light of Gujarat, it is tragically evident that Sarkar was sounding an eminently correct warning, ignored by the economistic left. Dalits and Adivasis have been systematically sought to be inducted into the Hindu fold by the far right and used for the most vicious attacks this time round. The most learned seminar papers explaining all this to be the result of false consciousness or any other complicated theory does not provide the least clue to how to ensure counter mobilisation. To hope that calls for united struggle of all the oppressed, from outside, by organisations that only claim to speak for all the oppressed, without the actual day to day participation of the toiling
people, will do the trick is to indulge in wishful thinking. Unless the left is prepared to think for the long haul, it cannot match the far right in the struggle for the soul of civil society. To succeed, the left parties have to stop pretending that they, and "mass organisations" which have big memberships but whose policies are decided on top by the same party leaders, constitute the movement. The autonomy, the plurality, the ways of organising, the diversity and political originality of various segments of the movement are crucial. The response to fascist authoritarianism must be the defence and development of widest imaginable forms of democracy, of socio-cultural pluralism. It is necessary to work with those who are not in a party and do not want to be in one, and with those who want a party but feel that none of the existing parties are parties of the oppressed and exploited, of workers, of women, of dalits and adivasis, of national, ethnic and religio-cultural
minorities, so that these struggles can eventually lead to the emergence of an all-India alternative and cease being a minority and become a real actor in the public life of the country.
9.. The development of Hindutva forces has seen an expansion of its constituency. In recent times, analysts have naturally paid most attention to Gujarat. But even that limited analysis shows that there has been an incorporation of dalits and adivasis. True, not all of it is peaceful. True, dalits remain subalterns, since the RSS has no desire to abolish casteism. But the half inclusionist strategy has paid some dividends, as dalits and adivasis have snapped off their traditional relations with Muslims in many places. Fighting the RSS therefore involves seeking to build a bloc with dalit and adivasi forces. In West Bengal, for example, the complacency of the mainstream left ("there is no casteism in West Bngal", their typical refrain - is false. Any investigation of job rosters will show how badly dalits, adivasis and Muslims fare).
10.. At the same time, it must be our task, in such a coalition, to fight ruthlessly against the communal poison ideologically. Everyone who has gone out in the streets to campaign after the Gujarat carnage must have seen the result of decades of vicious propaganda. We need to answer these at length, and at the same time we need to look at our own weaknesses. Thus, we need to reply to the myth-histories of the RSS at every moment. We need to reply to the false story of how the Muslim population originally grew by plundering and raping Hindu women and how today the Muslims are all set to overcome the Hindus population wise. We need to take up the questions like the issue of Kashmiri Pandits. And we need to recognise that communalism in the sub-continent is indivisible. There are 1 crore 40 lakh Hindus in Bangladesh, migrating to India at the steady but unspectacular rate of some 500-700 per day. It is necessary to stand up for their rights, to fight publicly, visibly and
very strongly, against any curtailment of their rights. This does not mean we call for Indian state intervention. But this means we fight at the level of civil society, we condemn Muslim fundamentalists of Bangladesh, we put pressure on the Bangladesh government, and we accept these people as genuine refugees if they come to India. If we do not do so, we are handing over, in the next quarter century or so, a crore of people, humiliated and deprived in their turn, to the RSS, and are preparing a future Gujarat in West Bengal.
11.. We wish to emphasize very strongly the need for a struggle over history. It is not the result of some conceit of ours due to our own profession, but is born out of a professional awareness of what the stakes are. It needs to be emphasised that 'history' of a particular kind is vital for the Sangh Parivar, in ways and forms which go very much beyond its importance for other political trends in India. The interference by the BJP-dominated government has therefore been far more systematic and energetic that under any previous regime. All governments have played games of patronage and nepotism, and Congress or Left regimes have certainly not been innocent of such things. Former beneficiaries of patronage and nepotism, now turned votaries of neoliberalism, have been falsely equating the two sides. A second rate ex-historian, now a paid hack of the most rightwing sort, has been attacking Sumit Sarkar, Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar, equating the fact that they received ICHR
grants, or ICHR office, etc, with the recent appointments of nonentities to the ICHR. But not only must real or alleged past misdeeds not be made into a justification for present crimes: what is happening now is qualitatively different. To take the very example of Habib: Habib was a renowned Marxist scholar and a member of the CPI(M) and remains so. When he was appointed the Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Rajiv Gandhi regime was not at all in good terms with the CPI(M). Indeed soon afterwards the CPI(M) was to join forces with V. P. Singh and the BJP to defeat the Congress in the 1989 general elections. The same Rajiv Gandhi regime appointed prominent archaeologists like S.P.Gupta, with known Sangh Parivar associations, to important posts in another key funding body, the Archaeological Survey of India. Some attention was being paid, therefore, to academic quality or stature: very different from the systematic and unashamed packing of all
central government funding institutions since 1998 with academic nonentities whose sole qualification is speaking up for outlandish theories of the Hindutva brigade. 'History' of its own kind is indispensable, if Hindutva is to consolidate its claim to be the sole spokesman of the 'Hindus', who have to be convinced that their interests and emotions are and have always been unitary and inevitably opposed to those of Muslims or Christians, regardless of differences of caste, gender, class, immense regional variations. 'History' is vital also because the Sangh Parivar has remarkably little to say about the crucial problems of Indian society, above all mass poverty and social injustice. A set of organisations who are dedicated to a casteist vision of society can mobilise lower castes not on the basis of any goal of social justice, but on the basis of a spurious historical myth, according to which all evils in Indian society originated due to the coming of the Muslims. Endless
harping on the past misdeeds, real or imagined, of other religious communities is an excellent diversion, well suited for the preservation of existing power structures. In Gujarat, for example, dalits have been oppressed by upper castes for long. And extreme forms of cultural nationalism have to be foregrounded, precisely because political and economic independence is being surrendered in unprecedented ways to the United States and Western multinationals.
12.. The violence unleashed on women is not only a concern for women. But the women's movement and the human rights movement have to take up the issue of gender and fascist communalism seriously. One of us will be writing a much more detailed essay on this issue separately, but in discussing the strategies before us, we need to integrate the gender dimension fully, rather than leave it only to women's organisations as if the rape , stripping, sexual assault, sexual abuse of innumerable women is simply a matter of concern for women's rights groups. We need to begin by understanding that this too is the outcome of a long strategy. As one of us has already written: For V.D. Savarkar creation of the Muslim 'other' as opposed to the 'self' of Indian (= Hindu) culture/civilisation was a concrete political necessity. The major work where his views are expressed is The Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History. Savarkar identified the Hindu community with the Indian nation. He replaces
god with the nation as the crucial referent for moral decisions. This is important because then the demands of the community/nation are perceived as adequate justification for actions, which by traditional ethics as well as by modern secular ethics would be considered immoral. This is made explicit when Savarkar repeatedly criticises Hindu heroes like Shivaji for humane behaviour to Muslim women [The incident of Shivaji capturing the daughter of the governor of Kalyan and sending her back with full honours was often celebrated by other communalists particularly in Maharashtra as a sign of Hindu tolerance in opposition to Muslim behaviour to Hindu women]. Here Savarkar was trying to reject the moderate form of Hindu communalism by advocating brutality to Muslim women. This is because the nation was being constructed by tracing its contours on the bodies of women. Women of the upper class, upper caste majority community were the custodians of the national honour. It is not
that they have honour for their own sakes, but for the male defined community/nation. For the same reason, defiling the honour of the opposite community was best done through the women of the opposite community.[?] We can sum up the following crucial lessons that Savarkar tried to draw and the discourse of violence and retribution which he developed.[?]
1). Creation of an internal enemy -- though elsewhere Savarkar claimed Buddhists to be Hindus, here, in his exegesis of ancient India, he claimed that the Buddhists were internal enemies. It was however with the arrival of Muslims that his concept of the internal enemy got full play. They were treated as eternal traitors.
2) The definition of a community was made purely political. It was treated as a political entity based on race and the joining of religious dogma, so as to mobilise the majority of Hindus while streamlining all differences, creating a monolithic entity.
3) Race theory was the normal basis of his creation of Others. The exception was concerning the Muslims. Here, he lumped together all the Islamic peoples. He therefore talks about the invasions of the Greeks, the Sakas, etc, but not about the Turkish, the Afghan etc. invasions. This was essential to validate the construction of Muslims as the principal enemy to the Hindu nation.
4) Savarkar's narrative consistently projected Muslim males as rapists who could be stopped only if Hindu men gave up their misplaced sense of chivalry.
5) In his analysis of sexuality woman is a medium whose role is to produce progress for the community and to be a symbol of honour. He asserted that Muslim women played a role in the molestation and rape of Hindu women -- thereby he exhorted the Hindu men to plunge into a "tit for tat" policy.[§] (Soma Marik - 'State, Gender, Community: The Construction of Hostile Identities - Historical Roots of Contemporary Politics', Jadavpur University Journal of History, 2001-2). The events in Gujarat were thus the culmination of a protracted process whereby not only ideas of democracy, rights of women, etc, but even the moderate communalist views regarding "protection" of women had to be rejected. When Maitree was campaigning in Calcutta, one of us, engaged in photographing the event, was accosted by people speaking with the voice of the far right. The comments made included full justification for all that had been done in Gujarat, with the simple argument that allegedly Muslims have
been doing all this for years and we, the pseudo-secularists (Muslims lovers, agents of Muslim, among the choice words used against us) have been keeping silent. The centrality of gender in the construction of fundamentalism has been commented on all over the world. What we therefore want to emphasize strongly is the need to make gender an equally central issue in all unfolding struggles. The Hindutva-ideology hold on Hindu women has been commented upon by the PUCL Boaroda Report, to take one instance. "There have been multiple effects on Hindu women. At one level, they have gained a new visibility in and access to the public sphere. This was evident in the "Ram Dhun" program of 15 March where they participated enthusiastically in celebrations in the many temples in the city in large numbers. Also noteworthy is the fact that they have taken active part in violence, in small though significant numbers. Area reports from Baranpura, Bajwa and Navayard (among others) reveal
that women have been active members of the attacking mobs. Some prominent women leaders have also been named in affected persons' testimonies. On March 1 in Atladhara, the Sarpanch Kantaben Sanabhai Vasava was one of the main persons in the mob. Kanchanben Barot, a BJP Councillor in the ESI Hospital area was seen to move around with a sword along with others in the mob. In Bajwa, Jayaben Thakkar was part of the attacking mob. Women have played a role in looting as well, as is evident in arrests made in Vadodara. These arrests were widely reported in newspapers in mid-March.
Importantly, they have taken the lead in mobilizing and organization of various activities. Several women's delegations which included members of the BJP and VHP, made representations and complaints to the several investigating teams and commissions including NHRC and NCW. These new roles seem to have been played with increasing ease and social sanction.
At another level, they are undeniably an agency through which the ideology of hatred is being perpetuated. PUCL fact-finding teams report that the level of hate among the Hindu women was alarming. Although they started off sounding sympathetic (bahut bura hua etc as seen in the infamous Best Bakery case) very soon they defended the violence saying that "they had it coming" etc. Women are very much part of a systematic hate-the-Muslims campaign that has been in place for the last few years. They feel threatened by Muslims, economically and socially: "They have 4 wives and 20 children, they will overrun us, they don't use contraception etc. They are taking away all our business, we are becoming poor." PUCL teams have pointed out the manner in which the line between hating Muslims to condoning their killing and encouraging it has been crossed, at least partly on account of the fear psychosis that centres around the notion of the 'dangerous Other.' The insecurity of Hindu
women is, in many ways, a product of Hindutva ideology that sets them up as vulnerable to sexual attack by Muslim men. These perceptions are irrational and have no sound basis; nevertheless their experience of fear is clearly real." (PUCL Report, courtesy Maya Valecha and Renu Khanna). No single proposal is enough, and what we say here is tentative. But evidently, over the last few years, there have been shifts in the women's movement. There have been fewer efforts to build movements on issues concerning vast numbers of women. Too much time has been spent on lobbying and on engagement with administrations and too little out on the streets. This parallels to some extent the decline of other movements, including considerable sections of the trade union movement. We need to reforge alliances between various types of organisations, and to recreate secular and democratic spaces, while at the same time addressing the economic tensions caused by neoliberal globalisation that are
giving rise to the easy propensity to violence tapped by the Sangh Parivar. We also need to overcome the tendency to fragmentation, justified in the name of pluralism, within the movements. Certainly, we need to honour pluralism. But neither sectarian avoidance of organisations or currents with whom we disagree, nor refusal to engage in dialogues in the name of respecting autonomy, are useful. Yet both these tendencies are found very often.
13.. In place of a conclusion: We are putting this forward as a discussion document. To recapitulate, therefore, let us look at key proposals on strategy and tactics.
1.. It is the entire Sangh combine that is fascist, and it is seeking to conquer power by deeply infiltrating civil society.
2.. We advocate independent mass political action to fight fascism.
3.. We oppose any idea of turning a national coalition against communalism and fascism into an adjunct of a revamped Third Front.
4.. We oppose voting for any bourgeois party.
5.. We advocate linking our struggle with the struggle against capitalist globalisation.
6.. We stress the centrality of gender issues in this struggle and urge all organisations and the movement to analyse and integrate this.
7.. We emphasize internationalism in deed, beginning with the realisation that the communal problem is one and the same throughout South Asia, so we have to fight just as much for oppressed Bangladeshi Hindus as for Indian Muslims and Christians, and that we need to forge an alliance progressives in all countries of the sub-continent for that purpose.
8.. In coming elections, we advocate putting up candidates of the movement wherever possible. We recognise that on one hand the Left Front is also serving neoliberalism. But on the other hand its MPs still serve a useful purpose against communal fascism. So where Left Front candidates stand, we advocate voting for them in Parliamentary elections.
9.. We stress that the struggle cannot be limited to an electoral struggle vs. the BJP, but must be turned into a struggle for the soul of civil society. That is why, alliance with bourgeois forces is totally to be rejected. At the same time, that means emphasizing democracy, pluralism, human rights.
10.. The ideological struggle involves contesting the RSS ideology at every level, and linking this struggle with bread and butter struggles.
[*] The authors are both members of Pratibadi Udyog (Protest Initiative), West Bengal. However, this is not a Protest Initiative document, but one written in their personal capacities.
[?] See for an elaboration, P. Baxi, 'Rape, Retribution, State', E&PW, 1 April 2000.
[?] Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, The Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History. Delhi, 1971.
[§] Dhananjay Keer, Veer Savarkar, Bombay 1966, p.539.
Marla Vijaya kumar <marlavk at yahoo.com> wrote:
David Walters wrote: gBy labeling non-Fascist right wingers as "Fascist" not only makes one wrong, it opens the door to all sorts of nasty problems. Such as, well, if (insert rightwinger's name) then what we need is an alliance with all "non-Fascists" as if the issue itself was "Fascism" and not a rightwing program and attacks on the working class, at home and abroad. It is, very similiar, to the misue of the term "Genocide" to describe the general use of terror against civilian populations by gov'ts.h
Marvin Gandall wrote: gPerhaps, though from here it looked like a normal bourgeois democratic party - a business-friendly conservative one presiding over deregulation and privatization and opening up the country to foreign capital.
I don't doubt the BJP has avowed fascists within the its ranks, up to the highest levels. But doesn't a party have to be judged on what it says and does? If it hasn't declared itself a fascist party and doesn't have a fascist program and doesn't set up a fascist state when it takes power, or if, as you say, it couldn't set up a fascist state in India even if that was its intent, how does it help us to understand its political behaviour by describing it as fascist?
If conditions deteriorate, it may or may not come out under these colours, but that is another matter. Until then, shouldn't we continue to anticipate that if it were to return to power, it would continue to operate as a "normal bourgeois outfit" like the Congress Party?h
Reply: Right in the early 50fs, when the newly independent India was trying to form its democratic institutions, the undivided CPI had warned of the rise of fascist forces under the banner of Hindutva.
The communal hatred and massacre at the time of partition of the country and the continuous fanning of communal flames around the country were of no less magnitude in cruelty.
Events that happen in a poor and backward country such as India get a very highly biased reporting in the west. But those on the left of the political spectrum would have easily guessed the intensity of the atrocities committed on minority Indians by the Hindutva goons (the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena) in Gujarat under the patronage of the BJP chief minister Narendra Modi.
The Communists have not raised the bogey of fascism just to get some political advantage as David claims. It is a matter of vital importance and is critical for the unity of this multi-cultural and multi-racial nation. Please do not draw any parallels with the West as India with its billion population has got its own unique set of problems. Fighting the forces of Hindutva (The RSS version of Hindu-Aryan supremacy) has been and will continue of paramount importance for the Left in India.
Guru Golwalkar, the theoretician of the RSS had advocated the formation of a Hindutva State with the inspiration of Hitler. There were many rantings by the Hindutva brigade, but the notable among them was by the erstwhile Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, considered to be a moderate in BJP: He had once written an article in the official journal of RSS gPanchajanyah, that the only solution to the problem of minorities in India lies a) in driving out all Muslims to Pakistan and b) eliminating them. This article was widely reported in the press and I remember, it is on the Internet also. I do not have the URL of that. (Of course, though photo copies of the article were published in the papers, Vajpayee had denied writing any such article. He is a perfect liar).
Marvin, please do not go by what is said about BJP in the monopoly press. Simply because it was toeing a pro-US line, it was pampered by the capitalist press in US and naturally they had painted it in soft colors.
I earnestly hope that BJP will not manage to get absolute power on its own any time in the future as then it will really unwind its fangs. I believe that the Indian people, though poor and backward, are wise enough not to allow that.
Vijaya Kumar Marla
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