In recent discussions on fascism, the qualitative distinction between fascism and dictatorship are being blurred. Fascism is also a dictatorship, but not every dictatorship is fascism. Fascism presents one or some sections (minority sections) in society as ‘Others’. It portrays minorities as ‘enemies of the “majority people”. It shows them as obstacles to the development of and threat to the security of the country.’ Fascist forces (read political formations, parties) mobilise the masses of the majority against the minorities and even go as far as ethnic cleansing.
In Germany, out of ninety lakhs Jews, fascism took the lives of sixty lakhs (six million). In fact, there is a conspiracy in the very formulation of the ideas of minority and majority. In India, the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) is the only organisation that portrays minorities as ‘Others’, presents them as ‘obstacles to development’, ‘threats to national security’, and ‘enemies’; it is against them that the RSS has built its ideology and organisation over the last hundred years. We can call only the RSS, which formulated such a theory and prepared a suitable structure for it, a fascist organisation. The Congress is different. It is true that when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was assassinated, large-scale anti-Sikh riots broke out (October-November 1984), and the Congress government of the day allowed and encouraged them, but this was only a cynical, election and power ploy. We cannot say that anti-Sikhism was part of the Congress doctrine. In Hyderabad (undivided Andhra Pradesh), we have had the experience of Congress creating communal strife once to topple the NTR government and another time to topple the Chenna Reddy government. Those incidents of communal strife –opportunistically communal and deplorable as they were, were also created for immediate political needs but not for the establishment of a theocratic state. Congress never believed in a hegemonic ideology like RSS-BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).
The Congress Party imposed state of emergency in 1975 and ran an authoritarian regime. But it did not incite the majority community against the minorities. It was state violence against all the people. Even today, state violence has become common. All governments, whether under BJP rule or under the rule of other parties, are undermining completely the fundamental rights of the people and the political opposition. However, no party other than BJP is instigating people of one religion against the people of another religion; none other than the BJP showcase one section of society as both ‘Others’ and ‘Outsiders’. Therefore, we cannot call those (other) parties as fascist, on par with the BJP.
When it comes to rights, David Harvey, a famous Marxist writer, once said, “In the capitalist system, people do not get their rights without effort; people have to achieve and protect their rights through their own struggles”. Today, all political formations practice dictatorship rule (of different parties in various states). People have been living with (or under) dictatorship regimes for some time, now. But what we see unfolding before us now is fascism, a qualitatively different regime, the seeds of which were sown a hundred years back.
Fascism, now, under the headship of the RSS (the Sangh Parivar), is aggressively displaying its two facets Communalism and Manu Dharma. When dictatorship is built on hegemonic fanaticism, it takes the form of fascism. That is what we are experiencing today. Further, only by pushing forward the agenda of “corporate capital loot” can the Sangh Parivar forces get the support for their agenda of ‘Hindu Rashtra’. That is why, in order to further their Hindutva agenda, they are protecting the general interests of corporates and, more importantly, giving high priority to the interests of a select a few corporate entities. The partisanship being shown by them in favour of the interests of their chosen corporate bodies has surpassed all limits. There is no space here (in this article) to examine the consequences.
It is true that Sangh Parivar’s fanatical activities divert people’s attention from the real issues created and intensified by corporate loot. However, more than that, such activities are leading the country towards ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (a theocratic state). Some dismiss the actions of the Sangh Parivar only as “distractions from the real issues”. This is a very dangerous trend. The RSS is an organisation of activists committed to a maniacal ideology. The RSS has a trained and organised private army based on this irrational, maniacal, ideology. So, one has to understand that while the fanatic activities pursued by the Sangh Parivar forces do help diverting the attention of the people from real issues, they are firmly directed to pave path for the final goal of ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
Every move of Sangh Parivar is aimed at the establishment of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ based on Communalism and Manu Dharma. The ‘Hindu state’ is not just an electoral gimmick or a way to sidestep public discontent. That is their goal. It may not be possible to achieve such a goal; even if it is achieved, it will be annulled, as was done in Germany. But if fascism’s development is not stopped now, we will see bloodshed like never before and this will be unstoppable for at least two or three decades. Fascism can plunge a society into darkness.
As far as economic policy is concerned, both the Congress and the BJP implement the corporate agenda. But there is a major difference in how this plays out in the political arena. Ruling class politics operate mainly against mass movements. While Congress follows one route to weaken mass movements, the BJP follows a different route; that is the only difference.
During the period 2004–2014, the Congress government at the Centre had slowly implemented neo-liberal policies and simultaneously implemented some welfare programs to prevent the occurrence of any major uprisings. This very pattern is also followed by almost all non-BJP parties. This pattern bears some resemblance to Keynes’ welfare state. When it comes to the BJP, it is implementing neo-liberal policies very aggressively, diluting all welfare programs. The BJP, by promoting communalism and national jingoism, is diverting common people’s discontent which is arising out of its pro-corporate actions. In the process, it is pursuing its own agenda of laying the foundations for the construction of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’. This difference assumes significance in the context of elections.
To state it briefly, Congress and other ruling class parties seek to “manage” people’s dissatisfaction by welfare measures whereas BJP seeks to divert people through communal propaganda. The RSS has nicknamed its doctrine ‘Hindutva’. It is suicidal for the critics of the Sangh Parivar to call this fascist theory by the name preferred by its creators. To repeat, the ideology of Sangh Parivar is based on Communalism and Manu Dharma. They are not only religious bigots but also staunch followers of Manu Dharma. They openly undermine the Constitution of India. As early as 1950, they called for (re) writing the Constitution of India on the basis of Manu Dharma.
The RSS strongly believes that ‘Hindu Jathi‘ can be strengthened only by restoring the ‘caste system’. They also believe that families will live happily and peacefully only if women are restricted to the kitchen. They do not herald and promote fanaticism only to divert the attention of the people. They are fostering various forms of exclusivism (madness) to (re) establish a hegemonic and hierarchical order in our society. Their ideology hinges on the supremacy of the majority community over minority communities, ‘higher castes’ over ‘lower castes’, males over females, and Sanskrit over other languages.
Fascism is a hegemonic ideology. Further, Socialism cannot be brought in through parliament, but fascism can. That is why those who truly want to resist fascism cannot ignore Parliament and Elections, the electoral processes. All approaches like a)the boycott of elections, b) using elections as mere opportunity for ideological campaign and c)trying to get some votes and seats are equally (and dangerously) faulty. A proper electoral intervention for stalling onward march of fascist forces –as was successfully achieved by Eddelu Karnataka — is in order.
The good thing about the present situation is that the Indian people have not become fanatics, yet. People continue to observe the mis-governance of BJP. That is why the BJP has lost elections in many states. The BJP lost consecutively in Bengal, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka. They would have faced more defeats if the media role had been impartial. In the coming five state elections, the Left Democratic, Secular, and Opposition forces should make concerted efforts to prevent the BJP and its allies from coming to power. In these states too, like Karnataka, civil society should work on a large scale.
If the BJP comes back to power, the entire state system (executive, judiciary, army, and police) could be filled with Sangh Parivar forces. Parliament may then be dissolved or become completely worthless. Exposing Sangh Parivar’s Communalism and Manuvadi Samskruthi (upper caste, Brahmanical culture) roots in the cultural sphere is as important as defeating fascism at the polls. The struggles on the economic front also have to be continued and intensified.
(The author is a presidium member, All India Forum for Right to Education-AIFRTE)
This is an English rendering of a Telugu article written by Ramesh Patnaik and published on October 25, in Andhra Jyothi, a largely circulated daily in Andhra Pradesh, in a slightly modified version – Editors