The Left Non-debate on Fascism or How Not to Fight the Hindu Right

History never repeats itself. Neither as tragedy, nor as farce. Every historical situation is a singularity, a product of its conjuncture and the opening out of different possibilities – thus irreducible to any other. What becomes farcical is the attempt of historical actors to borrow their slogans, icons and ideas from specific pasts and their attempt to reenact them in conjunctures that are radically different. Indian communists, of course, have long had a penchant for re-enacting (or believing they are re-enacting) other histories and other revolutions. And yet, more often than not, they have simply operated on the margins, engaging in violent and heated debates, as if the course of history depended on how these debates were resolved – while other historical actors took centre-stage, actually steering the course of history.

For decades Indian communists debated the ‘class character of the Indian state’ and even though their descriptions of its effects often differed little (except for an emphasis here or an emphasis there), they themselves split many times over in trying to name the beast. They became one another’s bitterest enemies, throwing about labels like “revisionist”, “neo-revisionist”, “sectarian”, “adventurist” and so on. Ask the CPI, CPI(M) or CPI(ML) Liberation, who fought the 2015 Bihar elections together and are trying to come together on issues of common concern today, how invested they are in those characterizations and how relevant they find them for their joint activity today? The really honest answer would have to be that it is of no relevance, whatsoever,  whether the state is described as that of the national bourgeoisie, the bourgeois-landlord alliance or as a semi-feudal and semi-colonial one – especially where it concerns joint or common struggles. Indeed, many communists might cringe today if reminded of these characterizations over which not just barrels of ink but precious blood has been spilt in the past. And so it happened, that while communists occupied themselves with all this bloodletting, history passed them by. Not once or twice but repeatedly.

There is a sense of deja vu therefore, when the official Left (at least the CPI(M) and CPI) and many left intellectuals suddenly seem bent upon tearing each other to bits in simply trying to name the Modi/RSS/BJP phenomenon (hereafter referred to as Sanghism – a term I have explained elsewhere). It seems it is necessary to first “correctly” characterize the phenomenon before any fight can even be conceived – even though, I suspect, there will be little difference in the way the different protagonists actually describe it.

Kick-starting this great non-debate, former CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat wrote in The Indian Express, a piece so befuddling that it left many people gasping: The Sanghist/ Modi dispensation, according to him, is “right -wing authoritarian” but not “fascist” and hence there is no need for broader resistance against it (my paraphrase of what is in fact a simple question of whether or not to have an electoral alliance with the Congress!) What was worse, he referred to what he called the “classic definition” (yes, definition!) of fascism, in order to make his point. What was simply a formulation made by Georgi Dimitrov and the Comintern in a specific context, is turned into a definition. Here is Karat’s “definition”: Fascism in power is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” From this definition, he then proceeds to make his deductions about present day India:

In India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present — in political, economic and class terms — for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule.

Every bit of this statement is an instance of formulaic thinking. As Jairus Banaji pointed out in a sharp riposte, calling Dimitrov’s formulation a “classic definition” is merely a way of suggesting that it was a code graven in stone, and therefore, not open to any critical scrutiny or examination. After all, how can you debate a definition? Banaji, in fact, made an important point in his response: fascism is not merely a conspiracy of finance capital but as later Marxists like Arthur Rosenberg and Wilhelm Reich repeatedly insisted, it was, above all, a mass movement. If one seriously ponders the implications of this claim, fascism’s relationship to capital – finance or otherwise – can hardly be seen as simple and straightforward any more. We will return to this point later. Continue reading “The Left Non-debate on Fascism or How Not to Fight the Hindu Right”

Not Pakistan, but Modi has pushed Kashmir on the Brink : Ashok Swain

This is a guest post by ASHOK SWAIN

Since the death of a young and charismatic separatist named Burhan Wani, Kashmir has erupted into violence and chaos. Weeks of violent protests in the Valley have resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people and over 5,000 injuries. Kashmir is not new to violent protests and civilian deaths, but this time the intensity of the protest and the passion of the protesters is unprecedented. Continue reading “Not Pakistan, but Modi has pushed Kashmir on the Brink : Ashok Swain”

Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels

As the cow-gangs of Hindutva go on a rampage and the the prime minister, Narendra Modi, adopts a posture of strategic silence, the country is rapidly being pushed to the brink of a civil war. This might sound a trifle far-fetched but classically, when large numbers of people begin to believe that there is no government for them, the time is not far when they will start making preparations for defending themselves. It started with the attacks on Muslims but soon enveloped the Dalits as it was bound to. The Una incident, which sparked off a veritable revolt, was followed up by subsequent attacks in Lucknow. The Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association in Punjab, involving large number of Sikh farmers, has also been fighting continuing harassment and violence by cow-gangs of Hindutva in Punjab for some time now. The PDFA president has also stated that they might be forced to act in self-defense. The president Daljit Singh Gill, in fact, reportedly told mediapersons that “(I)f someone attacks the farmers, we will stop them now,” and “(I)f something goes wrong, it is the government’s responsibility.”

Even as the cow-gangs continue with their vigilantism unrestrained and unchecked, a large demonstration yesterday at Jantar Mantar by Samta Sainik Dal, actually sent out yet another signal. It spokespersons said in so many words that they were now prepared to take on the cow-gangs physically, if and where necessary.

Tracing SSD’s lineage back to Dr Ambedkar’s initiative in the 1924, the President of the organization openly blamed the ‘Manuvadi’ forces, in cahoots with the police and bureaucracy, backed by the government. He was candid that it is not the Sikhs or Muslims or Christians who are attacking the Dalits today but the Hindus who are doing it in the name of nationalism and that people were now in a mood to fight back unitedly together.

Not only is Modi’s deafening silence now coming to be seen as a sign of encouragement and complicity, with BJP leaders like Hyderabad MLA Raja Singh openly justifying the Una attack, and no action being taken against him by the party yet, it is clear that this vigilantism is endorsed by the highest quarters in the party. For those who may have missed seeing Raja Singh’s video, this is what he said:

“Jo Dalit gaye ke maas ko le ja raha tha, jo uski pitai hui hai, woh bohut hi achhi hui hai (Those Dalits who were taking the cow, the cow meat, those who were beaten, it was a very good thing to happen).

Continue reading “Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels”

Cow Vigilantism as Terror : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by  New Socialist Initiative

Can the Saffron Establishment ever wash its hands of the growing menace?

(For Hindi version, click the link http://nsi-delhi.blogspot.in/2016/07/blog-post_26.html)

( Courtesy : Cartoonist Satish Acharya, https://www.facebook.com/cartoonistsatishacharya/)

Cow vigilantism which has received tremendous boost since the ascendance of BJP at the centre got its first fitting reply in Gujarat recently. The way in which a self-proclaimed Gau Rakshak Dal – owing allegiance to Shiv Sena – attacked a group of Dalits in Una (11 th July 2016) who were skinning a dead cow, publicly flogged them, led them to the police station charging them with cow slaughter and even circulated a video of the whole incident on social media to spread further terror, has caused tremendous uproar. Continue reading “Cow Vigilantism as Terror : New Socialist Initiative”

Statement On the Unfolding Situation in Kashmir : NSI Delhi Chapter

Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative, Delhi Chapter

The valley of Kashmir is on the boil again. Forsaking the so-called normal routines of their lives, people are on the streets. Not just young men, but even children and women are out, challenging the military might of the Indian state. Any fear of the police and army appears to have been discarded. Police stations and even CRPF camps have been attacked. A popular upsurge, it is energised by mass fury. Forty people have lost their lives in one week at the hands of the Indian security establishment. Hundreds of others have suffered serious eye and other injuries from presumedly ‘non-lethal’ pellets used by the police. While people are out confronting the police, para-military and army, the other organs of the Indian state in Kashmir, the elected government and its bureaucracy, elected members of the legislature, panchayats, etc. are in a rathole, fearing public appearance. It is just the people of Kashmir valley versus the institutions of organised violence of the Indian state.

While the immediate cause of popular anger is the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, reasons for this anger go much deeper and have a longer history. The stifling and repression of the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination stands at the root of this conflict. This repression has taken on extreme violent forms. For twenty five years now, the Kashmir valley has been among the most militarised places in the world. More than half a million troops of Indian army and para-military forces have been stationed in the state and its border with Pakistan. Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF camps dot the land scape. Highway checkpoints and random searches are part of everyday life. Thousands of men have disappeared, been picked up by security forces, thrown in the black hole of interrogation camps, often ending up in unmarked graves. The hated AFSPA gives Indian security forces legal cover to assault basic rights of Kashmiris to live a life of elementary dignity. If an average valley resident is alienated from the normal practices of the Indian state such as elections and its administrative initiatives, s/he harbours deep resentment against the presence of Indian security forces in their homeland. This resentment has erupted in mass protests again and again.

Continue reading “Statement On the Unfolding Situation in Kashmir : NSI Delhi Chapter”

Ambedkar Cannot be Adopted or Appropriated by Hindutva: K Satyanarayana

Transcript and translation of lecture  by Prof. K.SATYANARAYANA, speaking at the launch of book, Ambedkar Can Neither Be Adopted Nor Appropriated by The Hindutva Elements. The book, authored by Bojja Tharakkam, K. Satyanarayana, K. Laxminarayana and K. Y. Ratnam. It was launched in Hyderabad in July last year and is a reply to RSS’ Organiser special edition on Ambedkar. The text and video of the original Telugu lecture received by us via DALIT CAMERA.

All the friends who gave me this opportunity, to the many Ambedkarites present in this hall and to the very senior members, activists and intellectuals, I thank you all. After Anand Teltumbde has spoken, there isn’t much left to speak because he covered all the information in this book and also described completely about a lot of aspects about Maharashtra, about Ambedkar’s like and his work. Therefore there might not be much new information in my speech, but while writing this book, the distortions they made, or the attempts of RSS in relation to Ambedkar, as there is a need for historical context, I will speak about some of those issues. Firstly what Respected Mr. Tarakam has said is, to read some of the names of essays in the Organiser as the book is not available to everybody. When this book Organiser came out, generally RSS-BJP, when they talk about Ambedkar or about Babri-masjid, what we think is that they speak lies, false words, and mistruths and therefore there isn’t any danger as nobody will believe in their load of rubbish and lies. We think that way and if people understand the lies and if they don’t follow those words, there is no danger, but with this same type of propaganda, they completely changed the normal common-sense of the people and today Modi, as a K.D (drawn from an old colonial police/ legal category, it has become a Telugu expression that suggests a person with undesirable traits), as our brother has sung, is sitting in power.

Continue reading “Ambedkar Cannot be Adopted or Appropriated by Hindutva: K Satyanarayana”

Statement of Solidarity with Kancha Ilaiah

[The following is a statement in support of scholar-activist Prof  Kancha Ilaiah, who is under attack from a number  of Hindutva organizations and  against whom the Hyderabad police recently registered a case for ‘hurting religious sentiments’. The tendency to  resort to police cases, in order to stifle any criticism of Hindutva and the regime has assumed menacing proportions, against which we stand  firmly with Kancha Ilaiah. Those who wish to add their names to the statement and express solidarity may do so by adding them as comments.]

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the continued harassment, attacks on and intimidation of Prof Kancha Ilaiah at the hands of various Brahmin / brahminical organizations, police and the state administration of Telengana for his political writings and views.  We also hold responsible for this intimidatory environment, the Telugu media that reportedly published distorted and misleading reports of Prof Ilaiah’s speech.

While speaking at the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on May 14, 2016, at Vijayawada (Amaravathi), Prof. Ilaiah had  said: “The Brahmins as a community have not contributed anything to the production process of the Indian nation. Even now their role in the basic human survival based productive activity is not there. On the contrary, they constructed a spiritual theory that repeatedly tells people that production is pollution.” Continue reading “Statement of Solidarity with Kancha Ilaiah”