By Harsh Thakor
AUTOCRATIC NATURE OF INDIAN STATE
A strongly concurring debate today is on the emergence of fascism in India as a full fledged phenomena or semi-fascist or bourgeois democratic. Without doubt hindutva fascism has reached a crescendo or sharpened its sword as never before and autocracy and opression of the state on peoples movements has traversed proportion unprecedented. Nor has subordination of global of capital ever been so powerful or dominant or economy been in crisis of such a magnitude. Even the few remnants of state protection, planned economy or welfare have been crushed to the dust. Capital can dictate itself to mercilessly tighten a noose around the neck of all democratic struggles or resistance. The liberties or rights promised in a bourgeois state have been torn to the ground. Whether the incarceration of intellectuals as urban maoists,the life imprisonment awarded to Maruti workers., the patronage of attack son Muslim minorities and dalits leading to massacres, the stripping of rights to minorities through NRC,NPR etc,Scrapping right to self -determination on Kashmir, assassinating many a tribal in forests who defend their land from the mercy of the corporates in the name of curbing Maoism, initiating brutal massacres in Chattisgarh ,Malkangiri and Gadricholi on Maoist guerillas portraying them as encounters, banning democratic fronts like Revolutionary Democratic Front in the name of Maoism, introducing laws like UAPA which may have surpassed barbarity of colonial days or curbing all democratic activities in pretext of pandemic are without doubt manifestations of Neo-fascism.
Unlike many liberal intellectuals feel this phenomenon had it’s very origin in 1947 itself, with the transfer of power from the British to the Congress. Who can forget the merciless trampling of the Telengana armed struggle,the toppling of a democratically elected govt.in Kerala,the brutal supression of democratic movements of workers and peasants in West Bengal etc. in the very regime of Jawaharlal Nehru. In the times of Indira Gandhi it was accentuated to the extent of ripping the flesh of the very constitution if one judges the treatment of naxalite prisoners, suppression of dalit panther movement, patronage to break the backbone of all workers resistance and capping t with declaring emergency in 1975.The base of parliamentary democracy was smashed then. Morally Indira Gandhi gave patronage to Hindu communal forces, caste massacres and even created a Sikh figure to split the Sikh vote in Punjab. Ironic that her son Rajiv Gandhi opened the doors of the Babri Masjid and endorsed the construction of Ram Janbhoomi temple.in 1986.In Rajiv Gandhi’s time a huge series of stage mangled encounters of naxalites occured and civil liberties activists liquidated. In the day of liberalization and globalisation repression on democratic rights to a new leap and prominence of Hindutva politics. The final chapter was written with the Bharatiya Janata party permeating every sphere of the parliamentary democratic fabric with proto -fascist Hindutva ideology.Today India is on the verge or brink of turning fascist as never before with such a powerfully entrenched fascist cadre of the RSS and imperialism and capitalism reaching an unprecedented crisis.
Morally we are only a semblance of democracy and people’s rights are very superficial. Organised protest of any section be it workers, peasants or students is blown away like dust ,in the false pretext of controlling terrorism. Before any movement can even crystallise the state cuts it at the very roots.
CAN WE CLASSIFY INDIA AS FASCIST?
Still I would not classify India as a fully fledged fascist state, nor on the verge of turning fascist .Whatever its strong semblances of fascist dictatorship, does it still have inherent features of a powerfully entrenched parliamentary democracy.
Can we forget what compelled India Gandhi to call election sin 1977 and lift emergency? Even with the Hindutva fascsim at an unprecedented wave ,opposition parties exist, democratic revolutionary papers and blogs allowed to express themselves ,democratic seminars and types of protests still allowed etc,
In a fascist state where would democratic intellectuals got the space to voice dissent over incarceration of urban intellectuals like at Janatar Mantar in 2018,an all-India seminar exposing fascism in Delhi in 2019 etc.I agree forces like C.P.I.(Maoist), Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha,Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front are banned as well as sites blocked like ‘Banned Thought. ‘However only with certain semblances of liberal democracy could leftist journals like ‘Class Struggle,’ ‘Red Star.’ ‘New Democracy’ ,’Surkh Leeh’ etc be published or websites like ‘Red Spark’ or even ‘Counter Currents ‘ be allowed.Books are still permitted to be published like ‘India after Naxalbari,’ and ‘Storming the Gates of Heaven’ on the Indian Maoist Movement or ‘Night March of the guerrillas’ which all expose the fascist designs of India. However repressive or, patronising ruling classes, India inherited certain bourgeois democratic features after 1947, like the constitution. I remember words of Jan Myrdal who felt India was more liberal to Communists and democratic intellectuals than even European countries or America.
I also feel India has much more diversity than fascist societies historically, having so many minorities and nationalities. I extensively spoke to Pavel Kussa of Surkh Rekha who emphasised that however autocratic or undemocratic India is, it will not be easy for fascism to completely take shape. His reasons were that even fascist parties like the BJP would have to utilize the parliamentary institutions and Social media and that in essence parties like Congress were no different. Chief Surkh Leeh editor Jaspal Jassi took illustrated how even colonialism was not fascist and how hard it would be for India to break it’s federal structure.
Even then the characteristics of Indian fascism will be different in many aspects from the European and more similar the Chinese fascism. ‘Most imperialist element’ of finance capital was inherent in European fascism, but the character of Indian fascism will be basically compradorial in nature. Among the fascist Hindutva forces, RSS is most reactionary and most chauvinist and the organization connot play anti-imperialist role in the current situation. History is witnessing that RSS had not opposed British imperialism during the freedom movement. Since, the Indian ruling classes contain both the feudal and capitalist elements; the fascist state will have the impact of both the elements (primarily capitalist) upon it. However, the Indian fascist state will also be different from the Chinese Comprador–Feudal Fascism, since in India warlords are not in power like China, and the character of Indian comprador classes are not like the puppet rulers of China. Still I feel it will have striking similarities in important ways. Thus, if fascist state power is established in our country, its character will be totally different from European, Japanese and partially similar to the Chinese fascist state.
I have no problem with inclusion of Ambedkarites or Gandhiansi n a united front against fascism. However we must mot let their ideology nullify the sword or cutting edge of class struggle or give Gandhism or Ambedkarism and revolutionary credentials.Infact activists should seriously study ho win colonial days Gandhian leadership struck no moral blow to colonialism ,unlike Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Comrade DV Rao wrote a most dialectical or analytical document on fascism in India in time of emergency, exposing the role of both Us Imperialism and Soviet Social Imperialism. No comrade had more theoretical clarity on the nature of fascism in a semi-colonial society. I still feel his writings are relevant till today, and should be meticulously studied.
In India in recent times various trends have emerged to confront the wave of BJP fascism.
TRENDS OF CHALLENGING FASCISM IN INDIA
One trend advocated by the C.P.I.(M.L)Red Star calls for a patriotic Democratic Front with all left parties ,even inviting the opposition .It supports mobilization of the peasantry and workers but analyses India to be a neocolony ,giving no role to agrarian revolution. To me it is tailist tendency, embracing parliamentary reformist approach.
Another current represented by the Communist League of India which treats the landed peasantry as a reactionary class of Kulaks and believes on the Industrial workers and landless agricultural workers can be mobilized. It also portrays that after 1947 India was a bourgeois democratic state.
Another trend reflected by the C.P.I.(M.L)New Democracy, C.P.I.(Maoist) C.P.I.M.L(Class Struggle) and PCC C.P.I.(M.L),supports new democratic revolution and agrarian revolt but singly focuses on Hindutva RSS Fascsim ,negating the reactionary nature of the Congress party or state overall. They also endorse the concept of Brahmanical fascist state and even seek alliances with Ambedkarist forces. These groups termed the recent election results as a victory against fascist forces.
The most correct trend theoretically in tacking fascism is that of the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist. It recognizes India as an autocratic state which was not even a bourgeois democracy in 1947, but cannot go fascist in the manner of Germany or Italy before. In it’s view it can go fascist like China did under Chiang Kai Shek. It feels a stage has still not arisen to build a united front against fascism through extra-parliamentary means. Most dialectically it projects how fascism emerges in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society.
The Stalinists in India like Vijay Singh or Ashim Roy are firm adherents of deploying extra-parliamentary forms of struggle that could entail unity with certain left forces and completely reject chairman Mao’s thesis of new democratic revolution. It is worth pointing out to comrades who are silent in speaking out against the Congress party that during their very regime the Babri Masjid was demolished and state repression at a crescendo in eliminating naxalite forces.
Whether you support them or not today the greatest brunt of proto-fascsim has been faced by the leadership, cadre and sympathisers of the C.P.I.(Maoist) on a scale on par with that the Chinese Communists faced under Mao .The incarceration of revolutionary intellectuals like Professor Saibaba,Vara Vara Rao or Sudha Bharadwaj may have even surpassed the barbarity of the colonial days, if you throw light on period of history. The unofficial banning of the Revolutionary Democratic Front is a testimony to this.
In recent years the most serious effort to challenge BJP Fascism has been initiated by the C.P.I. (M.L) New Democracy with an Al India seminar in Delhi in 2019 mobilising all progressive sections. Other significant work has been done by forces like Bhagat Singh Chatra Morcha in Uttar Pradesh, and Democratic Front against Operation Greenhunt in Punjab. On the intellectual front ‘Virasam’ rose to the very hour in Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, hosting a series of anti-repression and anti-fascist programmes .In Chattisgarh civil rights activists like Bela Bhatia and earlier or Vinayak Sen put up a brave front. Very qualitative work has been done by civil liberties organisations like Peoples Union fror Democratic Rights in Delhi and by the Civil Liberties Commitee in Telengan aand Andhra Pradesh and the Association for Democratic Rights in Punjab. It is sad that in the darkest hour we miss a federation like the All India Federation of Organisations for Democratic Rights which lasted from 1982-2000.From 1994-2005 the All India Peoples Resistance Forum role played a most qualitative role in challenging fascism with a national level programme flashing the torch of resistance, challenging state repression in 1999, mainly in Punjab, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. in Even if most ecclectic or revisionist in certain junctures the leaders of C.P.I.(M.L)Liberation have brilliantly exposed the true colour of the Narendra Modi Saffron fascism .Inspite of having the soundest polemical or theoretical clarity on nature of fascism in India it is of great regret that the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India have not been able to effectively intervene. Amongst the blogs I complement the analysis of ‘Peoples Review’ the most which assert that fascism can only be overpower by sharpening of revolutionary class struggle. I recommend their articles which expose the connection between Hindutva fascism and the prevailing socio-economic reality. I admire their exposure of the victory of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal elections, of only superficial value and how setback to the left front forces is a boon for the genuine revolutionary left.
Left sectarianism and right opportunism were major obstacles in paving the path for a war against Hindutva fascism.
I have respect for the view of my friend Scott Harrison of ‘Massline.info’ blog where he asserts that in the moral sense it is not incorrect to categorise India as fascist, inspite of the prevalence of liberal types of freedom. Scott summarises how any dissent of struggle threatening the legitimacy of the ruling classes or autocratic social order is mercilessly crushed with areas like Chattisgarh virtually operating like a fascist state. He narrates how activities of organisations or publications of leaflets or journals are allowed of groups whose impact is superficial in the democratic resistance, posing no threat to the oppressive social order. I wish he could have still reflected on liberalism that even permitted a blog like mass line to be seen by Indian viewers and earlier ‘banned thought.’
I greatly admire his writings on state of Indian economy and commitment against fascist tyranny by K Venugopal is eclectic to me when he classes or compares Indian fascism with that of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. He brilliantly defends thesis of semi-feudalism and ‘New Democracy’ but falters how when claiming India turned fascist after demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Personally I am critical of the trend that fosters Gandhian ideology to confront Fascism forgetting how Gandhi himself upheld varnas or caste system to the very core and diffused any popular secular uprising in every sphere, blunting revolutionary weapon. On the other hand upholders of ‘Brahmanical fascism’ give scant respect to class nature of society ,projecting all Hindu members of oppressed classes as reactionary, I have great respect for the thesis of Anand Teltumbde ,who makes the striking balance between caste and class.no intellectual in India as well integrates the caste factor with the class one.
THEORETICAL ANALYSIS OF COMRDAE ARJUN PRASAD SINGH
To me the most lucid or dialectical analysis made by a comrade on nature of Indian fascism was that of Comrade Arjun Prasad Singh,with whom I have had extensive discussions, in his writing “ Character of Fascism in India and it’s challenges” .Formally he was the joint secretary of the All India Peoples Resistance forum ,working alongside Professor GN Saibaba.He is a firm adherent that fascism in India cannot take the shape as it did in Germany, Italy or China earlier. In his view feudalism is not the principal contradiction, but the Comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie. Arjun Prasad Singh had strong differences with the adherence to terminolgy of’ Brahmanical fascism’ .I differ with this comrade on Indian fascism having complete variance with that of China. However I admire his analysis overall having roots in class analysis, with Marxist perspective. It is in contrast to trends that promote identity politics, concept of Brahmanical fascism, and left rhetoric. He strongly adheres to the fact that there is an ecclectical approach to confronting fascism even by Maoists. I have deep admiration for his giving such an important place to the study of Dmitrov and Zhou En Lai and the contribution of Stalin to launching an ideological war against Nazi fascism. In a most balanced way he also integrated the caste question and the need to balance it’s role with class struggle. He establishes the link or relationship between the Hindutva ideology and the oppressive classes or class structure and above all does not underestimate the rise of India into a fascist state. Today in India I feel he has the most balanced assessment on nature of fascism in the country.
SOCIAL –CULTURAL BASE OF FASCISM( Arjun Prasad Singh)
The social structure of our country is interwoven with multilayer Brahminical order, which gives rise to multiple social contradictions. Here the caste structure is very strong, and the numerous population of dalits and backwards is still facing the atrocities of dominating upper castes. Most of the people of India are still obsessed with religions superstition and conservative ideas. On the other hand, the Hindutva forces are spreading the poison of casteism and communalism among the masses through hundreds of their magazines, booklets and books with religious frenzy. They have made the religious structure of the country so insensitive that the people of Muslim community are regarded as the second class citizen of India. They are being attacked by Hindutva forces regularly on different fabulous charges. They are being killed even on the charge of keeping or eating beef. The mob lynching of Akhalak at Dadari is one of the glaring examples.
Almost all the governments of Indian ruling classes have been promoting casteism and communalism, instead of stopping caste and religious atrocities. Specially, the concept of Hindu Rashtra, propagated by Hindutva forces, has made the Muslims and other minority community people very insecure and terrorized. Much before, they have incorporated the people of Bodh, Sikh and Jain community under Hindu religion, now they are suggesting the Muslims to adopt the tradition and customs of Hindus. In totality, they are explaining ‘culture’ as ‘religion’ and ‘Hindutva’ as ‘Indianness’ so that to implement their concept of ‘cultural nationalism’, which is in real sense chauvinism. They are turning Hindutva communalism very meticulously into its fascistic frame.’
At present it is very much clear that the fascistic communalism of the Hindutva forces is not the ideology of majority Hindus, but of the dominant classes of society. But the irony is that even the frustrated and hopeless people of dalit and backward community, who are facing the atrocity and discrimination of caste and religion since long, coming into the grip of the fascist ideology. These downtrodden people are also taking part in those attacks on Muslims, which have been organized by Hindutva forces. Massacres of Muslim people in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the examples of their active participation. Communalization of society has deepened so mush that even the intellectuals and Social reformers like Dabhokar, Pansare and Kalburgi are being murdered by these fanatic Hindutva forces. Such discriminatory and aggressive socio-cultural structure of India certainly provides a strong base to Hindutva forces and Modi government to go ahead in the direction of transforming India into a fascist state.
OBSTACLES TO FASCISM (Arjun Prasad Singh)
It is a fact that all the above steps, taken by the Modi government fully supported by the Hindutva forces, are fascistic by nature. It is also true that the behaviors of Narendra Modi are similar to those of Hitler and Mussolini, in many respects. The Modi slogan of ‘Achche Din Aayenge’ is the exact translation of the slogan given by Hitler after coming to power. But, despite all that, it is not easy to establish fascist state in India in its full form. Some of the main obstacles on the way to Indian fascism can be recognized as follows:
(i) The Indian capitalist class is not as strong and independent as of western countries. It plays a compradorial and dependent role in the Indian economy, under the command of big imperialist powers. Although, the contradiction between the Indian monopoly capitalists is acute, but their economic crisis is not so deep.
(ii) Fascist forces are in power at center, but most of states are being ruled by secular and regional parties. In many states, the regional parties are very strong, although their character is changing steadily.
(iii) The growth rate of Indian economy is faster than the growth rates of USA, Western Europe and other imperialist and developed countries. Even its growth rate has surpassed the growth rate of Chinese economy.
(iv) India does not have significant contradiction with any of the imperialist countries. US President Barak Obama is often seen patting Narendra Modi’s back. Under this condition, it’s not possible for India to compete in the loot and division of world market.
(v) The structure of Indian society is very complex and diverse, and it is not so easy to unite all these diverse forces to lead them on the path of fascism.
(vi) Since a long period, the revolutionary and nationalities movements of our country are in the grip of stagnation. The workers and formers movements of our country (how far militant they are) are mainly confined to the limit of economism and reformism. So, there is no immediate danger on the ‘parliamentary democracy’ of the ruling classes, and the Indian ruling classes and their parties are not forced to transform the bourgeoisie democracy into a ‘terrorist dictatorship’.
However, the above analysis does not mean to say that it is not possible to establish fascist state in India, and the ruling classes will always be adhered to the form of bourgeoisie democracy. If the national and international situations change, the crisis of finance capital in India deepens, militant movements of various sections of the people will force the fascist rulers to be restless and steeples, and especially when the communist revolutionaries will become the read danger for their rule, then the parliamentary bourgeoisie democracy will became obsolete for the ruling classes and the transformation of Indian bourgeoisie state into a fascist state will be inevitable.
PEOPLES FRONT AGAINST DANGER OF FASCISM (Arjun Prasad Singh)
Just after the Narendra Modi government came to power at center in May 2014, most of the genuine democratic and revolutionary forces of the country regarded this government as a fascist government. Among these forces debate started upon building a broadest possible front against the fascist steps, taken by Modi government. Same of them concluded that time has come to build a broadest People’s Front with capitalist–liberal parties, Social Democratic and reformist–revisionist parties. Others argued that we should try immediately, to build working class front with all the sections of organized and unorganized workers. One of the section of democratic and revolutionary forces is of the view that we should build front of all the progressive, democratic and revolutionary forces, along with oppressed nationalities, dalits, minorities and tribals, under the leadership of working class. Same of them call the front as Proletarian People’s Front.
DRAUPADI GHOSH IN PEOPLES REVIEW
“Quoting journal Peoples Review article by Draupadi Ghosh “It’s only the working class’s movements against fascism, Hindutva fascism, with a goal of radical transformation and establishment of a people’s democracy that can bring a real, substantial change in the political and economic space. Therefore, the working class needs to be engaged to revolutionise a spontaneous wave of people to learn together, that irrespective of their religious identity, the masses need to fight Hindutva fascism, which is actually a servile lackey of the neo-liberal economy and strives to sell human labour at a cheaper price for profit maximisation, privatise all enterprises, sectors and plough this country only for the extreme rich, while murdering the common mass with total impunity.”
“While fighting Hindutva fascism, one also must remember that this enemy is not on its own. Apart from being supported by corporate funding, both foreign and domestic, these sly and bestial maniacs are also supported by their hidden allies — the social democrats (parliamentary left), the rightwing democrats, so-called liberals and vacillating entities that swear allegiance to the Constitution — who can at times appear as loyal allies of the people on the street. Thus, one can find Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury delivering fierce speeches on CAA in Guwahati, Assam, but remaining conspicuously silent over the issue of NRC in which 1.9m poor Bengalis and other people have been excluded and are rendered stateless. Their vote bank compulsions make these so-called opposition politicians do a balancing act through political acrobats. They were not, they aren’t and they won’t be allies of the working class in the struggle against Hindutva fascism.”
“It’s time the working class’s movements against fascism connect the dots of the anti-NRC and anti-CAA movements waged by the common people, the students and youth, the marginalised Muslims, the oppressed communities and play the pivotal role, gradually. The integration of the anti-NRC and anti-CAA movements, which the Modi regime is trying to push to the oblivion, with the working class’s movements against fascism, waged through different platforms and on different issues can become a lethal threat to the Indian Hindutva fascist regime of Modi. Rather than running behind the mirage of fixing the flaws of the system using a constitutional mechanism or doing an elite man’s politics of balancing, it’s imperative to lead the people on the path of a total transformation through effective intervention.”
This story first appeared on countercurrents.org