Thousands March to Kalpatta, Wayanad on July 18 in Solidarity with Land Struggle !
Thousands of Adivasis and landless peasants along with others expressing solidarity marched on18th July to Wayanad District Collectorate demanding land to the landless. In Kerala after 72 years of so called Independence 5.25 lakh acres of land are still encroached by foreign plantation companies and local mafia with the help of Kerala governments (either Left Front or Right Front) whoever is in power. The All India Krantikari Kisan Sabha, Adivasi Bharat Mahasabha and the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Red Star organized this march. Under the much trumpeted Land Reforms of Kerala, the State Governments, either Left or Right, distributed only about one lakh acres out of the eight lakh acres declared as surplus land at the initial stage under ceiling laws. In Kerala, land has become a commercial and rare commodity to buy and sell at sky rocketing prices. The real estate mafia are taking benefit out of it. As a result lakhs of Adivasis and other landless peasants are thrown out of land, many have become landless and pushed to rented houses or caste based tiny huts in colonies because of the so called Developmental activities in the name of highways and corporate projects. In this situation, the Thowarimala movement is now getting momentum and many leading people’s movements are reaching at the collectorate gate where Adivasis and landless peasants are sitting in dharna from 23rd April after they were thrown out of the Towarimala land they had occupied.
The Towarimala land struggle should be seen in the context of Adivasis’, Dalits’ and other landless people’s land question becoming an increasingly serious question all over India. While vast stretches of land are given to corporates and land mafias, and even foreign corporates are allowed to keep lakhs of acres of land illegally for decades as in Kerala, the Adivasis and others at many places have no land even to bury their dead relatives. Though land ceiling laws were enacted in almost all states, nowhere the surplus land was distributed to the landless peasants, the real tillers of the land. It is in this situation the ongoing Towarimala land struggle in Wayanad district of Kerala is very important. More than 1000 families, who occupied this land taken over from the Harrison Plantations in 1970s for distributing to Adivasis, but not distributed still, were thrown out by force on 23rd April. They are continuing dharna in front of Kalpatta district office from that time.
On 18th July thousands of families of landless people marched towards Kalpatta struggle centre demanding taking over of illegally held land from the foreign corporates and its distribution to the landless families. Declaring solidarity with this march and supporting the Towarimala land struggle many leaders of people’s movements, activists, writers, cultural activists etc addressed the thousands of Adivasis and other landless people mobilized there. While the LDF government is totally neglecting the movement and trying to suppress it, this struggle is inspiring the numerous struggles of the landless people al over the state. Let the revolutionary peasant movement led by AIKKS and the Adivasi Bharat Mahasabha get organized more militantly mobilizing the Adivasis and other landless people, and intensifying the movement. n
Comrade A K Roy, general secretary of the Marxist Co-ordination Committee (MCC) and a leading trade union activist among the coal workers of Dhanbad region, passed away today (21st July 2019) at the age of 84. After taking up job as a chemical engineer he actively worked among the coal mine workers and led many militant struggles, for which he was thrown out of job.
In 1971 he resigned from the CPI(M) and formed his own trade union centre and MCC. For some time he had formed a platform with Sankar Guha Niyogi who was leading the workers’ struggle in Chhattisgarh and Shibu Soren who was leading Jharkhand Mukthi Morcha. He was elected to parliament three times and after 1980s was shifting closer to the left Front.
CPI(ML) Red Star expresses its heartfelt condolences at the departure of com. AK Roy
Comrade Santosh Rana, a leading comrade of the CPI(ML) movement from the very beginning and who was ailing for a long time, passed away at a Kolkata Nursing home on 29th June morning. He was active in the PCC-CPI(ML) for a long time, and was its general secretary also for a time. CPI(ML) Red Star expresses its heartfelt condolences at the departure of com. Santosh Rana, and shares the grief with his family, comrades and friends. n
[Re-published by the Indian Cultural Forum on 11th July, 2019. One of the early writings of Dr Ambedkar, it gives a clear understanding on the origin of the caste system. From here he had developed his vision to the concept of Annihilation of the Caste System by 1936 as explained in his famous writing on it already published in the Red Star. “Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development” was a paper read by BR Ambedkar at an anthropological seminar of Alexander Goldenweiser in New York on 9 May, 1916. In 1979, the Education Department of the Government of Maharashtra (Bombay) published this article in the collection, Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, Volume 1. The following are excerpts from the paper. — Red Star]
this critical evaluation of the various characteristics of Caste leave no doubt that prohibition, or rather the absence of intermarriage—endogamy, to be concise—is the only one that can be called the essence of Caste when rightly understood. But some may deny this on abstract anthropological grounds, for there exist endogamous groups without giving rise to the problem of Caste. In a general way this may be true, as endogamous societies, culturally different, making their abode in localities more or less removed, and having little to do with each other are a physical reality. The Negroes and the Whites and the various tribal groups that go by name of American Indians in the United States may be cited as more or less appropriate illustrations in support of this view. But we must not confuse matters, for in India the situation is different. As pointed out before, the peoples of India form a homogeneous whole. The various races of India occupying definite territories have more or less fused into one another and do possess cultural unity, which is the only criterion of a homogeneous population. Given this homogeneity as a basis, Caste becomes a problem altogether new in character and wholly absent in the situation constituted by the mere propinquity of endogamous social or tribal groups. Caste in India means an artificial chopping off of the population into fixed and definite units, each one prevented from fusing into another through the custom of endogamy. Thus the conclusion is inevitable that Endogamy is the only characteristic that is peculiar to caste, and if we succeed in showing how endogamy is maintained, we shall practically have proved the genesis and also the mechanism of Caste.
 It may not be quite easy for you to anticipate why I regard endogamy as a key to the mystery of the Caste system. Not to strain your imagination too much, I will proceed to give you my reasons for it.
 It may not also be out of place to emphasize at this moment that no civilized society of today presents more survivals of primitive times than does the Indian society. Its religion is essentially primitive and its tribal code, in spite of the advance of time and civilization, operates in all its pristine vigour even today. One of these primitive survivals, to which I wish particularly to draw your attention, is the Custom of Exogamy. The prevalence of exogamy in the primitive worlds is a fact too well-known to need any explanation. With the growth of history, however, exogamy has lost its efficacy, and excepting the nearest blood-kins, there is usually no social bar restricting the field of marriage. But regarding the peoples of India the law of exogamy is a positive injunction even today. Indian society still savours of the clan system, even though there are no clans; and this can be easily seen from the law of matrimony which centres round the principle of exogamy, for it is not that Sapindas (blood-kins) cannot marry, but a marriage even between Sagotras (of the same class) is regarded as a sacrilege.
 Nothing is therefore more important for you to remember than the fact that endogamy is foreign to the people of India. The various Gotras of India are and have been exogamous: so are the other groups with totemic organization. It is no exaggeration to say that with the people of India exogamy is a creed and none dare infringe it, so much so that, in spite of the endogamy of the Castes within them, exogamy is strictly observed and that there are more rigorous penalties for violating exogamy than there are for violating endogamy. You will, therefore, readily see that with exogamy as the rule there could be no Caste, for exogamy means fusion. But we have castes; consequently in the final analysis creation of Castes, so far as India is concerned, means the superposition of endogamy on exogamy. However, in an originally exogamous population an easy working out of endogamy (which is equivalent to the creation of Caste) is a grave problem, and it is in the consideration of the means utilized for the preservation of endogamy against exogamy that we may hope to find the solution of our problem.
 Thus the superposition of endogamy on exogamy means the creation of caste. But this is not an easy affair. Let us take an imaginary group that desires to make itself into a Caste and analyse what means it will have to adopt to make itself endogamous. If a group desires to make itself endogamous a formal injunction against intermarriage with outside groups will be of no avail, especially if prior to the introduction of endogamy, exogamy had been the rule in all matrimonial relations. Again, there is a tendency in all groups lying in close contact with one another to assimilate and amalgamate, and thus consolidate into a homogeneous society. If this tendency is to be strongly counteracted in the interest of Caste formation, it is absolutely necessary to circumscribe a circle outside which people should not contract marriages.
 Nevertheless, this encircling to prevent marriages from without creates problems from within which are not very easy of solution. Roughly speaking, in a normal group the two sexes are more or less evenly distributed, and generally speaking there is an equality between those of the same age. The equality is, however, never quite realized in actual societies. At the same time to the group that is desirous of making itself into a caste the maintenance of equality between the sexes becomes the ultimate goal, for without it endogamy can no longer subsist. In other words, if endogamy is to be preserved conjugal rights from within have to be provided for, otherwise members of the group will be driven out of the circle to take care of themselves in any way they can. But in order that the conjugal rights be provided for from within, it is absolutely necessary to maintain a numerical equality between the marriageable units of the two sexes within the group desirous of making itself into a Caste. It is only through the maintenance of such an equality that the necessary endogamy of the group can be kept intact, and a very large disparity is sure to break it.
 The problem of Caste, then, ultimately resolves itself into one of repairing the disparity between the marriageable units of the two sexes within it. Left to nature, the much needed parity between the units can be realized only when a couple dies simultaneously. But this is a rare contingency. The husband may die before the wife and create a surplus woman, who must be disposed of, else through intermarriage she will violate the endogamy of the group. In like manner the husband may survive, his wife and be a surplus man, whom the group, while it may sympathise with him for the sad bereavement, has to dispose of, else he will marry outside the Caste and will break the endogamy. Thus both the surplus man and the surplus woman constitute a menace to the Caste if not taken care of, for not finding suitable partners inside their prescribed circle (and left to themselves they cannot find any, for if the matter be not regulated there can only be just enough pairs to go round) very likely they will transgress the boundary, marry outside and import offspring that is foreign to the Caste.
 Let us see what our imaginary group is likely to do with this surplus man and surplus woman. We will first take up the case of the surplus woman. She can be disposed of in two different ways so as to preserve the endogamy of the Caste.
 First: burn her on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband and get rid of her. This, however, is rather an impracticable way of solving the problem of sex disparity. In some cases it may work, in others it may not. Consequently every surplus woman cannot thus be disposed of, because it is an easy solution but a hard realization. And so the surplus woman (= widow), if not disposed of, remains in the group: but in her very existence lies a double danger. She may marry outside the Caste and violate endogamy, or she may marry within the Caste and through competition encroach upon the chances of marriage that must be reserved for the potential brides in the Caste. She is therefore a menace in any case, and something must be done to her if she cannot be burned along with her deceased husband.
 The second remedy is to enforce widowhood on her for the rest of her life. So far as the objective results are concerned, burning is a better solution than enforcing widowhood. Burning the widow eliminates all the three evils that a surplus woman is fraught with. Being dead and gone she creates no problem of remarriage either inside or outside the Caste. But compulsory widowhood is superior to burning because it is more practicable. Besides being comparatively humane it also guards against the evils of remarriage as does burning; but it fails to guard the morals of the group. No doubt under compulsory widowhood the woman remains, and just because she is deprived of her natural right of being a legitimate wife in future, the incentive to immoral conduct is increased. But this is by no means an insuperable difficulty. She can be degraded to a condition in which she is no longer a source of allurement.
 The problem of the surplus man (= widower) is much more important and much more difficult than that of the surplus woman in a group that desires to make itself into a Caste. From time immemorial man as compared with woman has had the upper hand. He is a dominant figure in every group and of the two sexes has greater prestige. With this traditional superiority of man over woman his wishes have always been consulted. Woman, on the other hand, has been an easy prey to all kinds of iniquitous injunctions, religious, social or economic. But man as a maker of injunctions is most often above them all. Such being the case, you cannot accord the same kind of treatment to a surplus man as you can to a surplus woman in a Caste.
 The project of burning him with his deceased wife is hazardous in two ways: first of all it cannot be done, simply because he is a man. Secondly, if done, a sturdy soul is lost to the Caste. There remain then only two solutions which can conveniently dispose of him. I say conveniently, because he is an asset to the group.
 Important as he is to the group, endogamy is still more important, and the solution must assure both these ends. Under these circumstances he may be forced or I should say induced, after the manner of the widow, to remain a widower for the rest of his life. This solution is not altogether difficult, for without any compulsion some are so disposed as to enjoy self-imposed celibacy, or even to take a further step of their own accord and renounce the world and its joys. But, given human nature as it is, this solution can hardly be expected to be realized. On the other hand, as is very likely to be the case, if the surplus man remains in the group as an active participator in group activities, he is a danger to the morals of the group. Looked at from a different point of view celibacy, though easy in cases where it succeeds, is not so advantageous even then to the material prospects of the Caste. If he observes genuine celibacy and renounces the world, he would not be a menace to the preservation of Caste endogamy or Caste morals as he undoubtedly would be if he remained a secular person. But as an ascetic celibate he is as good as burned, so far as the material wellbeing of his Caste is concerned. A Caste, in order that it may be large enough to afford a vigorous communal life, must be maintained at a certain numerical strength. But to hope for this and to proclaim celibacy is the same as trying to cure atrophy by bleeding.
 Imposing celibacy on the surplus man in the group, therefore, fails both theoretically and practically. It is in the interest of the Caste to keep him as a Grahastha (one who raises a family), to use a Sanskrit technical term. But the problem is to provide him with a wife from within the Caste. At the outset this is not possible, for the ruling ratio in a caste has to be one man to one woman and none can have two chances of marriage, for in a Caste thoroughly self-enclosed there are always just enough marriageable women to go round for the marriageable men.
Under these circumstances the surplus man can be provided with a wife only by recruiting a bride from the ranks of those not yet marriageable in order to tie him down to the group. This is certainly the best of the possible solutions in the case of the surplus man. By this, he is kept within the Caste. By this means numerical depletion through constant outflow is guarded against, and by this endogamy and morals are preserved.
 It will now be seen that the four means by which numerical disparity between the two sexes is conveniently maintained are: (1) burning the widow with her deceased husband; (2) compulsory widowhood—a milder form of burning; (3) imposing celibacy on the widower; and (4) wedding him to a girl not yet marriageable. Though, as I said above, burning the widow and imposing celibacy on the widower are of doubtful service to the group in its endeavour to preserve its endogamy, all of them operate as means. But means, as forces, when liberated or set in motion create an end. What then is the end that these means create? They create and perpetuate endogamy, while caste and endogamy, according to our analysis of the various definitions of caste, are one and the same thing. Thus the existence of these means is identical with caste and caste involves these means.
 This, in my opinion, is the general mechanism of a caste in a system of castes. Let us now turn from these high generalities to the castes in Hindu Society and inquire into their mechanism. I need hardly premise that there are a great many pitfalls in the path of those who try to unfold the past, and caste in India to be sure is a very ancient institution. This is especially true where there exist no authentic or written records or where the people, like the Hindus, are so constituted that to them writing history is a folly, for the world is an illusion. But institutions do live, though for a long time they may remain unrecorded and as often as not customs and morals are like fossils that tell their own history. If this is true, our task will be amply rewarded if we scrutinize the solution the Hindus arrived at to meet the problems of the surplus man and surplus woman.
 Complex though it be in its general working the Hindu Society, even to a superficial observer, presents three singular uxorial customs, namely: (i) Sati or the burning of the widow on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. (ii) Enforced widowhood by which a widow is not allowed to remarry. (iii) Girl marriage.
In addition, one also notes a great hankering after Sannyasa (renunciation) on the part of the widower, but this may in some cases be due purely to psychic disposition.
(Courtesy: Indian Cultural Forum) n
[Note: The report given below is on the latest developments in Hong Kong which is getting major coverage in the corporate media in India also as a fight between ‘socialism’ in China and freedom fighters of Hong Kong! It is contrary to facts. The capitalist roaders in China after usurping power in post Mao years had turned it to a capitalist imperialist country with one-party bureaucratic ruling system which is on the one hand colluding with US led imperialist forces against the world people, while on the other contending with them for world hegemony. China’s accession of Hong Kong with “One China, Two Systems” slogan itself was a clear example of its opportunist policy, abandoning the path of Marxism. While China is under a one party bureaucratic rule, Hong Kong is following a multi-party bourgeois democratic model. While this is one of the causes for continuing contradiction, as this report explains, more than that it is the escalating trade war between China and the US and its allies is the main reason for escalation of the conflict, though the Extradition Bill has fuelled it. As the international finance capital is becoming increasingly speculative and the monopoly tendencies are intensifying, the inter imperialist and inter monopoly contradictions are also going to intensify as reflected in the growing trade war. It will be contrary to facts to present them as a conflict between socialism of China and the freedom fighters of Hong Kong. As the inter-imperialist contradictions are a growing reality, what is happening in Hong Kong is another example of how they get reflected in every struggles. Along with this the general understanding among the masses that compared to the bureaucratic one party rule in China, the multi-party bourgeois democracy is better is also a major factor for such conflicts getting sharpened very fast – Red Star]
with the turning up of British Union Jack flags, the recent Hong Kong protests seem to have given China a major setback on the much-debated extradition bill. The Hong Kong administration had intended to introduce such a legislation to allow transfer of criminal suspects outside its jurisdiction to places with which they lack an extradition treaty citing a murder case involving two Hong Kong inhabitants. Poon Hiu-wing was murdered by her boyfriend Chan Tong-Kai while on a trip to Taiwan but Chan got arrested only after returning to Hong Kong. Hence, ‘The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill’ has been in the news recently as it would allow the extradition or co-operative trial and transfer of fugitives/criminals between Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Macau, which was previously impossible as Hong Kong lacked any existing extradition treaty in place for serving the purpose. This, however, is what has been placed as an agenda by Hong Kong officials, promoted by Carrie Lam whose administration the western media has immediately recognized as a pro-mainland (People’s Republic China) lobby in comparison to those opposing the bill self-proclaiming themselves as the pro-democracy lobby. This bill met with immediate peaceful to violent protests from activists afraid of giving up their democratic rights which they claim would suffer from the strict laws of the mainland. With comments being thrown from USA, UK and China back and forth about the crisis, the mass protests have gradually taken a violent form in the past few weeks.
The “One Country Two Systems” policy is what the activists demand to be treated with respect. Hong Kong, previously a British colony, was handed over to China in 1997 under the “One Country Two Systems” agreement which prevented the execution of the strict laws of mainland China on Hong Kong, a clever bid to keep the region retain its capitalist mode of economy while China enjoyed sovereignty over the region. This treaty, however, was looked at by the then Chinese govt officials as a temporary condition which would help Hong Kong serve as a hub with more flexible trade policies between the mainland and the other countries until Hong Kong was ready to become a part of the mainland. The present political crisis is proving otherwise.
The truth of the situation is far bigger than the simple scuffles of protecting democratic rights under a communist government in a pro-capitalist market. The Sino-US relations were initially at stake with the latter’s initial interference into the situation in Hong Kong. Although it was previously commented upon by Trump that certain governments are not pro-democratic, USA seems to have toned down their interference in the matter while UK, the former colonizer of Hong Kong is unwilling to yield to China. Hong Kong still remains a vital trade and finance partner of Britain. It is one of the largest Asia-Pacific market for UK exports worth £8 billion annually. There are over 600 UK companies in Hong Kong. Investment of UK in Hong Kong is worth £33 billion accounting 35% of its total investment in Asia. Therefore, to retain its trading supremacy and taking advantage of the disturbance at hand, the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has made their stand clear, warning China of serious consequences and staunchly supporting the protesters in their fight to retain their rights which would, in turn, serve and protect their capitalist free market economy in Hong Kong instead of being threatened by the firm market policies of mainland China. The Chinese government has retaliated, the Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming stating firmly “Hands Off Hong Kong” and alleging the UK of interfering in China’s affairs in Hong Kong. Despite UK’s bitter statements, the successful £500 billion China-Britain trade agreement seems to point towards the cosmetic character of such heated talks. China had also stated and has been successful in not allowing any discussion on this extradition bill at the G20 Summit, following an appeal by the protestors to foreign leaders to intervene on this issue.
17% of Chinese exports reach USA via Hong Kong while 9% of US exports enter mainland China through the city. Therefore, US-China trade war escalation had affected Hong Kong as well. Although the US seems to have taken a pro-China stand on the matter to develop the Sino-US relations further, evading the trade war, the Trump administration is citing a 1979 Law to sell Taiwan $2.2 billion arms that ‘it may need to defend itself’! Back in 2004, Colin Powell, the then US Secretary of State commented that Taiwan wasn’t a sovereign nation and it would look forward to its peaceful reunification with the mainland. The dream of the free world (read free market) that the West aims for Taiwan to put the Chinese economy at the back-foot is now being powered by arms which can lead to war if mainland China calls for a forceful reunification of Taiwan. While Taiwan has expressed willingness in seceding from the extradition bill unless their sovereignty is accepted by all the stakeholders, UK officials are clinging to their position of not considering Taiwan as an independent nation. Thus, the US and UK have adopted a two faced policy to take advantage of this crisis situation.
The mainland China-Hong Kong-Taiwan trade route is a silk route for the underworld. Taking advantage of the Chinese free market, the British American Tobacco company (BATCo) has been following the ‘alternative’ route of distribution of ‘unofficial’ imports of tobacco into mainland China with only 5.4% of its total business passing through the legal channel of National Tobacco Corporation, China’s tobacco monopoly, since the 1990s. On the other hand, recent reports of smuggling of ketamine and methamphetamine worth $700,000 from Taiwan to Hong Kong has sparked fresh theories on the trans-border market operations of black money. The much frowned upon mainland Laws characterized by stringent market principles and severe punishment for drug trafficking and several other crimes related to smuggling have seemingly created panic upon the syndicates of organized crime working efficiently in the inter-connected routes of Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland. Hong Kong’s legal slippages attract criminal activity; its ports being safe harbours for smugglers, its skyscrapers acting as offices for North Korean shell companies and its banking system a gambling hub to money launderers. With the reduction of Hong Kong’s share of China’s GDP to 3%, the augmented flow of black money to the mainland has provoked the Chinese government to endorse the extradition bill for preventing Chinese businessmen from expatriating profits via Hong Kong during slow economic growth.
On the eve of onset of such protests, Hong Kong exhibited a total trade value of $15 billion with $13 billion worth of export and $2 billion of import, proving itself to be a wonder destination for trade and commerce and justifying the eagerness of interference of USA and UK. In a bid to bring the situation under control, Carrie Lam declared the extradition bill to be dead. However, the protests are still continuing in demand of complete withdrawal of the bill. Softening some provisions of the bill in terms of surrender arrangements and trials did not bear fruit. With increasing mercury of violence, Lam has resorted to supporting the police and citing protesters as rioters. The protesters, on the other hand, are resorting to a wider movement for democratic reforms and universal suffrage in the semi-autonomous state. As the expectations of peaceful reunification of Hong Kong with mainland China begin to fade, the new wave of endorsement of right-wing politics by the youth of Hong Kong raises concern as to whether the movement can spread in the mainland as well. If successful in crossing the boundary, it may threaten the legitimacy of the Xi Jinping government.
China’s failing foreign policies followed by the present situation of unrest in Hong Kong appears to distance the dream of reunification of Hong Kong from reality. As the fight for flexible open trade becomes more and more violent in these regions that currently serve as a tunnel between the rest of the world and China, what seems to be a fight for democracy is revealing itself as an apparent fight for market control between nations. n
A rejoinder to Dr. Ramachandra Guha’s Article in Telegraph: “Does the Indian Left Have a Future?”
presently, when ‘the parliamentary communists have descended from the high of 2014 to the low of 2019’, Dr. Ramachandra Guha, a well known intellectual, in his article “Does the Indian Left have a future? (Telegraph) has given many advises for reviving it. As, not only in India, but internationally also when all the former socialist countries have degenerated to capitalist path and the communist or left movement as a whole is facing severe setbacks, it is the task of people who are engaged in rebuilding the movement to give serious attention to the advises of well wishers of the communist movement like him.
But one problem with the writings of such intellectuals is that they reduce their analysis of the left movement to only the parliamentary communists, or often to CPI(M), with whom they are familiar. Even while doing so, many of them further reduce their critic mainly to not allowing Jyothi Basu to become prime minister in 1986 or the 61 strong Left Front not joining the UPA government in 2004 as the principal reasons for its debacle. According to Dr. Guha, “the UPA government ran for two full terms; had the communists joined the cabinet, and taken charge of such portfolios as education, health, and rural development, they could have helped improve people’s lives, while increasing the party’s visibility and profile across the country”. When the UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was going ahead with implementation of the neoliberal policies, how far such a participation would have benefitted the parliamentary communists is a debatable question. But why Dr. Guha is silent on the fact that after a decade of this rule, the UPA became so alienated from the people that Modi could come to power winning a majority for BJP in 2014? Can anyone say that presence of few LF ministers in the Manmohan cabinet would have changed the situation?
And, as Dr Guha says, if it is the question of getting opportunity to do helpful things to people and getting visibility, was not the LF in power continuously for 34 years in Bengal and 25 years in Tripura? Why they were unseated in both states and their vote share fell drastically to 6-7% now? Why the LDF in Kerala, alternately coming to power for last five decades, is going to be unseated in 2021 as Dr Guha himself states? Can we swallow the claim of CPI(M) leadership that the LF was unseated just because of the violence unleashed by the TMC in Bengal and BJP in Tripura? Violence was there, but the main reason was that it got alienated from the people. Why? Because Jyothi Basu and other chief ministers in these states, like the Kerala chief minister is still doing, were only implementing, in the main, the neoliberal policies competing with other state governments! In the name of bringing industries to the state, when the LF govt in Bengal tried to take over agricultural land at Singur and Nandigram, its police had to fire on its own followers, killing many and terrorizing the area. They had no alternative socialist oriented vision of development and democratization to put before the people, different from that of Congress. As CPI(M) and other LF parties became apologists and executioners of the neoliberal policies, as they abandoned the communist education of their cadres, they became corrupt and bureaucratic, making things easier for TNC or BJP to unseat them from power.
Our intellectual friends shall be in better position to advise the left, if they take the trouble to understand what was/is happening at the micro and macro level in the states where the LF was ruling for decades. For example, let us see just one aspect of what is happening in Kerala, visited by Dr. Guha recently as a guest of KSSP. It is one of those few areas in the world richly gifted by nature. But in spite of the awareness campaign of KSSP, in effect a front organization of CPI(M), and in spite of LDF coming to power alternatively, it has become one of the most ecologically devastated, drought affected regions under the impact of climate change. Hundreds of people’s movements are going on in Kerala against widespread quarrying, destruction of the Western Ghats by the land mafia, projects like Vizhinjam Port, extensive ilmenite mining in the sea coast, land acquisition for 45 metre national highway when KSSP also calls for limiting it to 30 meters in very thickly populated Kerala, sand mining which has almost destroyed the 33 rivers in the state, extensive destruction of mangroves for various projects etc. But KSSP is not leading any of these people’s movements, and the LDF govt, like its predecessor UDF govt, suppress them in hostile manner. When foreign plantation companies and their benamis are illegally holding 5.25 lakh acres of land in the state, landless Adivasis’ and dalits’ struggle for land is suppressed! In LDF ruled Kerala also farmers’ suicides, lock-up killings takes place. Instead of carrying forward the rich experience of renaissance movement for cast annihilation, like other parties CPI(M) also go for caste appeasement for vote bank!
The communist movement spread its influence in different parts of India through anti-capitalist, anti-feudal struggles like Telengana, Tebhaga and numerous other movements with the slogans of’ land to the tillers’ and workers’ rights. It had put forward the vision of people’s democracy and socialism before the people. Marxist teachers called for developing all forms of struggle including parliamentary struggle linking them with the struggle for basic social transformation, for the establishment of an egalitarian society. But the parliamentary communists led by CPI(M) reduced their struggles for parliamentary gains only, abandoning the struggle for socialism. So their line of demarcation with Congress and other reactionary, reformist parties started disappearing. Their present decimation is due to this degeneration from socialist path. We can reply without any hesitation to the question paused by Dr. Guha that the parliamentary communists led by CPI(M) have no future at all, unless and until they rectify their line and actions, which looks almost impossible.
But it does not mean the end of history, or end of socialism, as the imperialists and their lackeys propagate. The revolutionary communists in India like their comrades all over the world, taking lessons from the degeneration of former socialist countries like Soviet Union and China to capitalist path, former communist parties like CPI and CPI(M) to mere parliamentary communists and the degeneration of the left adventurist Maoists like trends to anarchist path, learning from the positive and negative experiences of the socialism that was practiced in former socialist countries, are trying to understand the present international and national situation and engaged in developing Marxist teachings and practice according to concrete conditions of today.
Today we are discussing the future of Left, when not only the parliamentary communists are decimated, all the non-NDA opposition parties starting from Congress are also decimated and in total disarray. Through Modi-2 the neo-fascist RSS is aggressively moving towards establishing its hegemony in all fields and to transform India in to a Hindurashtra. It will intensify entry of international finance capital, control of US and other imperialist powers and opening of the country fully to neoliberal/corporate raj as seen in the first budget of Modi-2 itself. It is an unprecedentedly serious challenge before not only the left, but before the people as a whole.
In order to take up this challenge the communist forces committed to beat back this neo-fascist challenge have taken initiative to unite their forces, to chalk out a common minimum program, to mobilize all struggling left and democratic forces along with the oppressed classes and sections including the dalits, Adivasis, women etc based on it. Starting with the total rejection of neoliberal/corporate policies, this program should address the annihilation of the inhuman caste system, and strive for genuine secularism based on separation of religion from politics, for abolition of all inequalities based on gender, caste, religion, language etc and for an end to plunder of nature by forces of capital which is leading to climate change and ecological catastrophe. It should work for people oriented and sustainable development paradigm and democratization of all fields leading to establishment of people’s power at all levels. It should call for political settlement of all problems with the neighbouring countries and for an end to imperialists’ domination of all shades. Based on such a CMP a Mass Political Platform of all these struggling forces should be formed which shall utilize non-parliamentary and parliamentary struggles for throwing out the neo-fascist RSS led Modi-2 and to replace it with a people’s alternative government. It is based on such an initiative the left is going to return to the centre stage of Indian politics. We expect suggestions and active cooperation from the intellectuals like Dr. Guha in this new upsurge of the revolutionary left in India. n
[The neo-colonial transformation of its colonial policies by the US led imperialist camp during the post-Second World War years was a major step taken by it to overcome its crisis and to beat back the growing challenge posed by the socialist forces. But by 1970s, in spite of the disintegration of the socialist camp, the imperialist system could not overcome its perennial cycle of crises. So the neo-liberal policies with the liberalization-privatization-globalization trio under IMF-World Bank directives were imposed. But it only intensified the speculative nature of finance capital and frantic monopolization of wealth, along with sharpening of inter imperialist, inter monopolies conflicts.
The cut throat competition for control of sources of raw materials, plunder of natural resources at unprecedented levels and trade war started intensifying. It led to ecological catastrophe on the one hand, and to people’s upsurges like the socialist oriented progressive movements in Latin America and Arab Spring in a number of North African and West Asian countries by the beginning of the new century, leading to new crises. The migration question took unprecedented magnitude, with millions of migrants from the neo-colonially dependent countries fleeing to the ‘developed’ countries of Europe and North America.
It is in this situation raising right populist slogans and anti-migrant stand, ultra right, neo-fascist forces started coming to power in an increasing number of countries from the beginning of 21st century. In order to divide, de-politicize and ideologically maim the masses, these forces were utilizing religious fundamentalism/fanaticism, racism, national chauvinism etc as their ideological weapons.
It is based on this analysis, the CPI(ML) Red Star was pointing out that with the advent of Modi-1 in 2014, the Saffron/Sanghi fascist or neo-fascist forces have come to power and are trying to consolidate its hegemony through further fascistization. Based on this analysis, in its 11th Congress it called for defeating this challenge by building up a people’s alternative by building Mass Political Platform of the struggling left and democratic forces with the strengthening of independent communist assertion as its core.
But the social democratic and reformist sections took confusing stand on this question, many of them compromised with the neo-fascist BJP leading to their decimation in the recent 17th Lok Sabha elections. As the BJP led NDA has returned to power with increased strength, intensifying fascistization of all fields under Modi-2, it has exposed the erratic stands of the social democratic, reformist and left adventurist forces. In this situation, with clarity of understanding about the emergence of neo-fascism the revolutionary left forces have to strengthen the struggle against the neo-fascist Modi-2 rule.
It is in this context we are re-publishing this article on Neo-Fascism published in the issue 18/2018 of the RED DAWN, International Theoretical Organ of MLKP. We invite discussion on this important issue from the readers – Red Star]
for some years and with different conceptualizations, the topic of neo-fascism has been hotly debated by both bourgeois-liberals and reformist-left circles, as well as revolutionary forces. In fact, when looking at the past decades, we can see that fascist parties and leaders have successively taken positions in many countries, such as presidencies, prime ministries, coalition partnerships or have at least seen serious increases in votes.
In Hungary, the leader of the government party Fidesz, Victor Orban, who has been in power since 2010, has been pursuing a racist and anti-immigrant state policy that gradually eliminates bourgeois civil-democratic rights in order to establish a dictatorial regime. In the racist and fascist lane, Orban is in competition with the Jobbik Party, which was inspired by Hitler.
In India since 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been the sole governing party whose leader Narendra Modi is a fanatical supporter of Hinduism. He is the perpetrator of the massacre in Gujarat in 2002, where numerous Muslims were killed, the carrier of the mission was described with his own words as “burying the secular republic which is an aberration built by foreign powers”.
Donald Trump, roaring loudly “make America great again”, has been insistent to build a wall on the Mexican border against migrants from Latin America and to prevent migrants from the Middle East from entering the United States through a legal bullying, since his entry to the White House in 2016. With a Ku-Klux-Klan jargon, he insults Muslim citizens of the USA by saying “they are the trojan horses among us”. The fact that he does not refrain from affronting women at any chance makes him the almost complete symbol of male reaction on a social and political level.
Jair Bolsonaro, who won the presidential elections in Brazil in October 2018, praises the torturers of the military dictatorship, speaks of “arming the people against gangs and terrorists”, and promises to extend the authority of the police. He codes blacks, academics, dissident journalists and trade unionists, lgbti+’s as “reds” and threatens them with a “clean-up, which has never been seen before in the country.” He is such a misogynist, that he even said about a deputy of parliament “she‘s not even worth to be raped” and such a Nazi admirer, that he is proud of his grandfather‘s services in the Hitler army.
After the elections in June 2018, Tayyip Erdogan has been institutionalizing the fascist chieftaincy regime in presidential form. The official ideology of the Turkish bourgeois state has been in a transformation with a fascist, political-Islamist quality and its institutional structure is centralized in the palace in form of presidency. The fascist state terror in Turkey, as well as the colonial war of occupation in Kurdistan is mounting up and expanding more and more.
Two other fascist figures: The new dictator of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who has a history of socialist discourse, but praises himself today with the destruction of gangs without any legal accountability; and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the Prime Minister of Poland, who draws attention with his efforts to try to develop a direct control of government over the judicial system and to remove the evolution theory from the education curriculum.
Let’s add National Rally (former National Front) in France, AfD in Germany, United Kingdom Independency Party in England, Northern League in Italy, Vox in Spain, Golden Dawn in Greece, Freedom Party in Austria, Vlaams Bloc in Belgium, Freedom Party in the Netherlands, True Fins in Finland, Progress Party in Norway, Svoboda and Right Sector in Ukraine and others to the table. These racist-fascist parties in Europe generally not only increase their electoral votes and enter bourgeois parliaments, they also even participate in coalition governments in some countries.
Racist-fascist parties are now well-recognized actors in the bourgeois political scene. And the fascist leaders look like cloned in some ways.
Historical Development of Fascism
Fascist parties and leaders of our time show some significant similarities with the fascism of the period between the two World Wars. Some of them do not even feel the need to hide their emulation of the Italian and German regimes in the 1930s.
As it is known, fascism came in view as the product of the age of imperialism and the proletarian revolutions.
After the re-division war, the capitalist world found itself in a political turmoil and economic crisis, moreover, it was shaken by the October Revolution and confronted with the development of worker’s movements and communist parties in almost every country in Europe. The traditional bourgeois parties had been politically bankrupt, the bourgeois parliaments had no longer been able to promise any hope and the bourgeois states had been in a hegemony crisis. Germany was under the yoke of the Versailles Agreement, sealing the surrender of Germany in the war, Italy was frustrated due to its exclusion in the division of the war swag. Workers had been suffering in claws of unemployment and poverty, millions of dispossessed and wrecked middle class members, who lost their future in the dark, were in search of a response and way-out. At the scene of ruling classes, on the other hand, there was nationalism, expansionism abroad and escalation of hardening in the regime forms.
These conditions, which pointed out the general crisis of imperialist capitalism, had offered the fascist movements the opportunity to grow fast. In Italy and Germany, the fascists initially represented the interests of the petty bourgeoisie and the middle bourgeoisie in their program. They increased their political strength by leaning on the middle classes, appealing to the working class and particularly para-militarizing the lumpen proletariat.
Mussolini‘s fascist program of 1919 and the 25-point program of the Nazis in 1920 were containing similar social promises: employment safety for workers, increase in wages, protection of small shopkeepers, more taxes for big property owners, price controls, increase in public investments and dissemination of social services. Their political agitation included the hatred against capital owners and their puppets, politicians and targeted to make their own nation prosperous again and to restore the level it deserves in the world.
In the ideological scene, the proletariat, as the revolutionary historical subject, was confronted with the nation, as the fascist historical subject. Accordingly, fascists would ensure national unity and let the fallen nation rise again. The myth of a “fascist revolution” found correspondence in Mussolini‘s revival metaphor of the Roman Empire and Hitler’s revival of the Holy Roman-Germanic Empire, and their discourses of a “New Italy” and “New Germany”. The Jews served as a necessary hostile external factor, for the fascist redefinition of nation, thus, for the inclusion of the masses from the lower and middle classes in their own ranks by racist-chauvinist poisoning.
For the fascists, who wanted to overcome the general crisis of capitalism by reviving the glorious past of the nation, the main enemy was the increasingly strengthening communists, who wanted to divide their nation into classes with the goal of overcoming them. Moreover, the communists were the main perpetrator of political chaos and had to be crushed immediately.
Fascist paramilitary organizations emerged in Italy as Mussolini‘s Black Shirts, in Germany as Hitler’s Storm Troops, or in Romania as Antonescu’s Iron Guards. They embarked on attacking the revolutionary worker’s movement and communist parties. In addition to these, the betrayal of social democracy to the working class and lateness of communists in building an anti-fascist front made it easier for the fascist movements to win masses and seize power.
The monopoly bourgeoisie felt the need to both satisfy their imperialist hunger, as well as to rebuild the mass basis of their sovereignty, and to suppress the proletarian revolutionary movement by terror. The fascists, with their masses of aggression, had fulfilled the function of the bourgeois state‘s violent repression, thereby developed organic relations with the bourgeois class and the state.
As the bourgeois rulers could no longer rule as before, as all other bourgeois parties were getting exhausted and as the bourgeois-democratic state structure could no longer absorb the revolutionary rise, the need for new forms of bourgeois political sovereignty objectively increased. Fascism, which had strengthened as much as to demand political power, on the other hand, was a direct response to this need. In a dilemma between revolutionary chaos and fascist order, the bourgeois classes in Italy and Germany chose to hand the power to fascism. As a result, the bourgeois states had become fascist and fascism had nationalized itself.
In addition to Italy and Germany, the fascist dictatorships between the two world wars institutiona-lized in various ways and ruled in Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Romania and Croatia.
The fascist regime was more than just a change of governmental body as the bourgeois political executive organ, it appeared through a profound change of the political and judicial structures of the bourgeois state, the legislative and executive relations, the state and party affiliations, even when a constitutional shell was protected. While socialism was the negation of bourgeois democracy outside the existing order, fascism was its negation within the order. Fascism repealed the state structure based on bourgeois-democratic representation in order to save the crippling capitalist system and the bourgeois state whose social and political foundations had fallen into disintegration. The executive was freed from parliamentary control and the state apparatuses were largely centralized, it was centralized so much that the state ended up with an identification with its leader.
The fascists set to begin crushing the struggle of the working class and the oppressed with a merciless counterrevolutionary force, dissolving the entire elements of the bourgeois opposition, and building a racist, chauvinistic ideological hegemony within society. Also in the arena of imperialist competition and war, they took up attaining new colonies and lands of influence with the reorganization of their economic and military forces and facilities.
There was no room for other parties, unions, for social and political organizations apart from the fascist corporate organizations, for press and publications which did not represent the fascist line. From culture to sexuality, from art to pleasures, from education to family, from leisure places to medical institutions and population planning, all elements of social life had to be formed according to fascist ideological norms. A racist, chauvinist, sexist, heterosexist, disciplinarian, aggressive, monist propaganda downpour surrounded the society. Loyalty to the leader was enforced not only in the official political organs of the state, but also in universities, newspapers, art houses or social service institutions, that is, in all structures of socialization.
Where the fascists came to power, the contradictions between their anti-ruling class rhetoric voicing to the lower and middle classes, and their commitment to the interests of the ruling class, which were contrary to the interests of the lower and middle classes, objectively led to a tendency of decomposing in their mass base. But it was the chauvinistic wind they had blown through imperialist war, the benefits they got by increasing public spending of the state and the wealth transfer from the national communities to which they had committed genocide; what had hampered the decomposition tendencies from occurring with all its consequences. After Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the number of unemployed reached up to 6 million. That number being zeroed in 1938 was an indication why the mass support for the bloody power of the Nazis didn’t melt away.
Under the extraordinary circumstances of the extreme sharpening of contradictions between the fractions of the ruling class, and between the ruling class and the oppressed classes, it seemed like as if the fascist bourgeois state had gained autonomy from the classes in terms of ideological and political features. Indeed, up to a certain point, this was also necessary to get results with ideological-political interventions in the afore-mentioned contradictions. Moreover, with the identification of the lower and middle classes with the fascist state, as well as with the fascist leader, who represented the “national will”, it became easier to turn the state and leader into a cult. Yet, behind the image of autonomy from classes, what lays was the reality, that the fascist state tied thousands of threads with the financial oligarchy, and shaped the capital accumulation model as extremely convenient for the big bourgeoisie and tended to seek new foreign markets and colonization areas for monopoly capital.
For this reason, the Komintern stated in its famous definition associated with Dimitrov, “Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” This analysis clearly illustrated the class quality of the fascist dictatorship and its political function within the framework of imperialist capitalism.
The Period of Military Fascist Coups
After the fascist bloc had suffered a defeat in World War II which had taken the shape of an anti-fascist war, the world split into two enemy camps. The worldwide contradiction that arose between the capitalist and socialist blocs, and was symbolized with the Cold War between the USA and the USSR, had marked the entire subsequent period. While, on the one hand, the people’s democracies in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and the revolution in China strengthened the socialist bloc, the national liberation struggles of the colonies achieving their political independence, led to devastating consequences for the capitalist world.
The capitalist bloc united in the orbit of the USA aimed to stop the expansion of the influence-spheres of the USSR and to defeat the danger of a revolutionary and socialist rule in the capitalist countries. The establishment of secret, fascist counter-revolutionary organizations within the bourgeois state apparatuses became a main method for this aim. The fascist cadres of the period between the two world wars, were deployed in the secret services and counterrevolutionary structures of the bourgeois states. In short, the fascist counter-guerrilla called Gladio was structured as an internal element of the Western European bourgeoisie by the hand of NATO. In the Western imperialist centres which stood against socialism with the bourgeois democracy and the “welfare state”, the financial oligarchy kept its counter-guerrilla as an anti-communist hit force for extraordinary times.
The counter-guerrilla organization in the neo-colonies was again organized by the US. This secret fascist structure under the control of imperialism had been the focus of anti-communist work in almost all dependent capitalist countries. Sabotages, assassinations, provocation and disinformation against revolutionary developments were produced in their workbench. The counter-guerrilla headquarters organized paramilitary gangs depending on the location, preparing them as a counterrevolutionary centre for possible civil wars.
In the period after World War II, the new fascist dictatorships were typically the work of American-backed fascist military coups, staged by these counter-guerrilla organizations. One by one, in Iran, Brazil, Indonesia, Greece, the Philippines, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries, fascist regimes were founded by military coups. In the neo-colony countries, where revolutionary movements along with deep economic and political crises were growing, also meaning that these countries were the weakening links of imperialist chain, military coups rushed to the aid to sustain the US hegemony and bourgeois rule.
Military, fascist powers in the neo-colonies, as open terrorist dictatorships of the imperialist oligarchy and collaborative bourgeoisie, began to crush the danger of revolution with all their might. Common features of ruling fascism in these countries were the liquidation of bourgeois-democratic featured political institutions as much as these existed, the extreme centralization of political power functions in the executive, the attempt to brutally crush all revolutionary and democratic forces, the establishment of a nationalist, chauvinist and anti-communist official ideology and thus the legitimization of the fascist state terror through their identification with the „national will” and the consolidation of anti-Soviet foreign relations.
The first wave of fascism consisted of monopoly capital’s reaction to the rise of world proletarian revolution in the central countries of capitalism. This second wave, on the other hand, was an offensive of finance capital in the peripheral countries of capitalism, against the renewed revolutionary rises in an atmosphere of Cold War balance and against the national liberation victories. Both waves of fascism confirmed Lenin, who pointed out that imperialism systematically produces political reaction.
The Political Result of Existential Crisis
In the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the receding of revolutionary danger, the world bourgeoisie were jubilant with its triumph and felt less of a need for fascist counter-guerrilla organizations and fascist military coups. In recent years, fascist military coups and dictatorship following the example of Egypt and Thailand have been increasingly rare, while fascist movements that come to the fore in the election ballots grow.
This new type of fascism that has come to the forefront in this new historical period is peculiar to imperialist globalization with all its distinctive features and owes its current development to the existential crisis of capitalism.
The structural congestion occurred during the period of “welfare state” within the capital accumulation model was put back on track of recovery through neo-liberalism. Education and health services, as well as all public services were assigned to the service of capital expansion and state enterprises were exposed to plunder by privatization. Two tendencies in the capital movements have become dominant: investments in cheap labour-force countries and investments in financial transactions. Because this was the only way to increase the low profit rates. As the capital accumulation process gets financialized and the speculative capital played a more dominant role, chronic excess capital was accumulated at one end and chronic excess labour-force was accumulated at another. And both were more and more out of reach of one another.
Construction of a “world factory” by the world monopolies, the enforced abolition of all kinds of national barriers for the global circulation of capital, the enactment of international laws for the interests of the financial oligarchy and the transformation of capitalism in peripheral countries into an internal phenomenon, ultimately removed the social material ground on which the bourgeois nation-state placed its foothold. As neo-colony countries became financial-economic colonies, the working class in Western capitalist countries could no longer benefit the imperialist exploitation. The heavy class devastation in the financial-economic colonies has led to an utmost increase of immigration of labourers to the Western capitalist countries. Imperialist aggression and war in the Middle East, on the other hand, triggered an immense flow of poor Muslim population to Europe.
Social rights of workers were trimmed and wages were lowered. Subcontracting, disorganization and privatization have largely spread and unemployment has grown like an avalanche. The capital shifting to cheap labour-force countries has led workers in the capitalist centres to face the dilemma of decline in wages or unemployment. The expropriation of small property owners and pushing them into the ranks of the proletariat have gained momentum. The abyss between rich and poor has grown rapidly and many times more. As the practice of “welfare state” became history, the contradictions between capital and labour, as well as between the state and the people have intensified. The great financial-economic crisis of 2008, on the contrary, was an expression of the existential crisis of capitalism. It becomes obvious that capital has completely lost the ability to develop the productive forces, thus turned into an absolute shackle against social progress. Thus, workers and labourers, including those in the capitalist metropolises, can no longer expect any future hope in the capitalist order. According to a survey conducted in 2015 in Europe, the vast majority of families no longer believe that their children will live in a better world. The percentage of non-believers in this survey was 85% in France, 68% in England and 58% in Germany. What we see here is the reaching to the end of this entire social formation, with its economic, political, ideological and ecological dimensions.
When toiling people, whose working and living conditions have rapidly deteriorated, who have fallen into the swirl of unemployment and poverty, find in front of themselves, the traditional bourgeois parties, whose programs and rhetoric are getting to be the same, they started to react more against the current bourgeois political order. An extraordinary erosion of faith has occurred both against the mainstream bourgeois parties harnessed by neo-liberalism, and against the bourgeois democratic parliaments, whose main premises are formed by these bourgeois parties. The bourgeois rule has more and more lost the ability to produce consent and to refresh its hegemony, with the liberal-democratic norms of its time and with the essential ideological variants, in regard of the working people. All of this has brought an escalation of political polarization in the society.
In many of the capitalist countries, the new fascist movements have experienced a course of accelerating growth since the 2008 depression until today. As we see in the picture drawn above, this is not coincidental at all.
On the one side of the coin, there was already the reality of bourgeois states, whose bourgeois-democratic laws are being trimmed and which are increasingly shifting to authoritarian forms of rule, as a result of sharpening class contradictions and political contradictions, as well as the raging aggravation of inter-imperialist competition. Passing to the state of emergency under the government of Socialist Party in France, consolidation of the strictly centralized and repressive rule of Putin, paving the way of a lifelong presidency for Xi Jinping in China are different reflections of this reality.
On the other side of the coin, there stands the massacre attacks of ISIS against the people in the US and the EU. While ISIS attacks caused anxiety and hostility against Muslim migrants, at the same time, the mass basis of ISIS gained an enormous extensiveness within the poor Muslims masses, who suffer from the imperialist plunder wars in the Middle East or from social exclusion in the imperialist centres.
It was not difficult for a blind consciousness to spread, which accuses the migrants to be the reason for the loss of life standards of the previous period, in the Western capitalist countries, among the working class, which was subjected to an ideological collapse after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and was disintegrated in its organizing capacity as a result the neoliberal policies of capital. The responsibility of the decline in wages, job losses, the worsening of living conditions, the rising insecurity due to street mobs were all put on the poor migrants. Almost everywhere and day by day, people started to feel insecure in different aspects; the loss of jobs and social security has incited an economic insecurity, the bourgeois parliamentarian representation crisis has incited a political insecurity and the ISIS aggression or mafia violence has incited a physical insecurity. This mass-psychology of insecurity became the ground for the reactionary longing for the protection of a strong nation-state.
All in all, neo-fascist parties and movements find the opportunity to strengthen fast on this social ground on which they move.
Lines of Neo-Fascism
Naturally and inevitably, fascism shapes itself according to social and political traditions, historical and cultural influences, as well as to the specific structural characteristics of the lower and middle classes, dominant social and political conflict points, even more, according to the changes in the technological structure of the capital accumulation model, to specific class-related or politic power relations of a certain period and the existing relationship hierarchy of the state systems. Moreover, this formation is a phase in itself, a state of becoming, it also shows fundamental differences between phases of ruling and before ruling. Therefore, today‘s fascist movements and leaders can not be exact copies of fascism in 1930s or 1970s, nor can they be identical with each other today. Characteristic factors, such as the motif of national revival, expansionism, nationalism, biological racism, militarism, anti-communism, culture of leadership cult, anti-democratic discourse, one-party regimes, party-state modelling, paramilitary organization, corporatism, misogyny, heterosexism, homophobia or disgust with intellectuals, therefore, can’t appear in a particular fascist movement all together. The fascist quality of the movement is determined by the general direction of its ideological texture, political goals and functions, as well as its practical mode of existence.
Just like fascism in Italy and Germany initially had included in its program generally the interests of the middle and petty bourgeois, which had been pushed into destruction and uncertainty due to the crisis of capitalism and had influenced the masses of the working class in the period between the two world wars; today‘s fascism either leans on the dispossessed middle classes and the unemployed strata of working class or at least tries to make demagogic bonds with various demands of these classes. The political agitation against the privileges of monopoly capital, the degeneration of traditional bourgeois politicians and the fallacies of intellectuals are quite similar in the words of the past and current fascist leaders.
Anti-communism is also a structural ideological and political feature of neo-fascism. But today, hostility to migrants in combination with racism is more prominent. The fascists target migrants as responsible for poverty and misery and as “parasites that absorb the blood of the nation”, or target various national and religious communities as “enemies of the nation”. They channel the accumulated anger as a result of the social decay of the capitalist neoliberal policies, towards migrants or oppressed national and religious communities, thus pulling this anger out of agenda of the class conflict at one swoop.
Reactionary nationalism stemming from the middle classes is a reaction to the politics of imperialist globalization. New fascist parties do not openly defend the politics of “welfare state” period. But what they defend, such as the strengthening of the nation state once again, nationalist protectionist economic policies, and opposition to EU, corresponds to the political tendencies of those sections of the middle classes contradicting with imperialist globalization. Depending on these defence, their promises to increase investment and employment in the country can be tempting among the working class and the poor. The fascists manage to assemble those who have lost their class status and even their dignity and their dreams in a racist and nation-statist political rank with the aim to regain what they lost. When you see the simultaneity of the usurpation of the achievements of the working class in “welfare state” period and the “national” meltdown of the nation-state, when the traditional bourgeois parties turned into almost copies of one another and lost their “national” features, there is nothing surprising here that the reaction to these creates a longing for revival of the nation-state. It is no coincidence that Le Pen receives many votes in the impoverishment areas of France where the industry was moved, the employment hit the bottom, or that in the same sort of areas of England more approval for the Brexit has followed.
Hitler and Mussolini had voiced the desire for the old in a deeply shaken bourgeois society, pledged to revive the nation, and prescribed racism and chauvinism at the top of their recipe of a “fascist revolution”. Now it is Trump and Modi who, with all their racist-chauvinist arguments, are casting the flag of a return to the strong nation-state and clinging to past reactionary values and traditions. The supremacy of the German “Aryans” or the Italian “vanguards of civilization”, the supremacy of white evangelic Americans or the Hindus from upper castes; history and countries change, surely so is the forms of racism. Yesterday, it was Jews and gypsies who were marginalized, today it is the Afro-Americans, Muslims or Latin Americans.
Today the emphasizes of the fascists are nation, leader, state, flag, language as a solution against the encirclement of domestic and foreign enemies and their threats. What they mark as enemy is sometimes the stigmatized western world, sometimes the international capital and imperialism, which are emptied from its true content, in general, it is migrants or various national and religious communities, often homosexuals or atheists, thus these are rendered as pillar for a new “national identity” construction. As a legitimization conception of fascism, the “national will” fill its content with the rhetoric opposing to “traitors”, “terrorists”, “separatists”, “foreign focal points and their extensions”.
Fascism remains the spearhead of patriarchy. On the ideological ground, womanhood described through “motherhood” and “partnership”, together with masculinity identified with credibility and strength; on the rhetorical ground, the reckless use of patriarchal language depreciates women; on the political ground, the attempts to abolish acquired legal rights of women, starting with the right of abortion and the provocation of masculine violence against women are all historically and currently characteristic elements of fascism. How much is the resemblance between Mussolini, who said “war belongs to men, motherhood to women” and Erdogan who is constantly sermonizing women for even more births!
There are also fascist movements, such as Golden Dawn in Greece, or Right Sector in Ukraine, which initially base on increasing their political activity on the streets, but also others, such as National Rally in France or the Party of Freedom in Austria, which prioritizes the electoral successes. In any case, neo-fascism tends to permeate both the street, and the ballot, as well as the daily life just as in its historical experiences, from which it is inspired. The fact that fascist paramilitary gangs do not yet patrol the streets does not prove that these will not spread and strengthen depending on the hardening of political struggles.
In countries where capitalist development is comparatively still at a low level and religion still has a strong social and political influence, while the modern, more secular bourgeois ideologies are losing influence, whereas fascism advances more by basing on a political-religious ground. The fascist lines of Erdogan leaning on Islam and Modi leaning on Hinduism, for example, recall the fascisms of the time between the two wars, in terms of both their aggression and massacrer feature, as well as their monism and claim to revive the “old”. Political-Iislamist organizations such as ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, both with their mass experience and the ruling practices in the areas under their control, point out the fact that political Islam will interlock with fascism in the East in general. The anger and hatred of the poor and those who had to leave their homes against the rich and the states of the rich, against imperialism and its plundering wars, are turned into a rancour against the “nonbelievers” through the fascist organizations.
The ideological-political line pursued by neo-fascism and the program it upholds before it takes the power usually do not coincide with the interests of the world monopolies. National-protectionist measures, financial controls, restrictions on capital exports, public investments to increase employment are not aligned with the neoliberal economic policies of the financial oligarchy. Even, as the monopoly capital is in search of wringing the working class and the labourers dry, fascist leaders are preaching to regulate the exploitation of the labour force by capitalism. In some financial-economic colonies, fascist rulers, such as Duterte, Erdogan, or Modi easily dares to follow policies unfitting with imperialism under international political conditions, in which the imperialist hegemony of the USA weakens.
Apart from the countries where revolutionary or reformist left is seriously rising, neo-fascist parties and movements are neither invited to power by the financial oligarchy, nor are they directly led by them. The bourgeoisie is getting united in France in order to prevent Le Pen from taking the head of the bourgeois state, or many monopoly bosses and senior bourgeois politicians in the US mentioning about the resistance against Trump, have such a meaning.
Nevertheless, fascist parties and leaders, whether voluntarily or not, fulfil the policies of imperialist globalization in those countries where they are in power. Because they have no other choice. Orban, Modi or Bolsonaro are the typical examples of this. Compensation methods like state’s infrastructure investments, social assistance or even “charity” organizations, can not prevent the tendency of dismemberment within their mass base, due to the discrepancy between their rhetoric’s against the ruling class and the current politics in favour of these ruling classes. Moreover, fascist powers especially in the financial-economic colonies are constantly bumping into the contradiction between their ideological and political discourse speaking to masses and their mediocrity in power, since they have neither economic freedom of movement to meet the workers’ demands nor have they military and economic capacity to expand. In this context, even Trump, who is in a much more advantageous situation, tries to continue playing the impossible game in the field of tension between two opposing poles, representing the interests of one part of the monopolistic bourgeoisie and addressing the lower and middle classes.
Beyond all these, neo-fascism offers capital a two-dimensional actual political possibility. One is that fascist parties ideologically and politically hold the sections of labouring masses within the limits of capitalism, the sections which back these parties and still are reactional to the policies of financial oligarchy. And two is that they become the “scapegoats” of the bourgeoisie, causing the other part of these masses to support bourgeois-liberal institutions against the “fascist danger”. In other words, if one opposes neo-fascism without turning against neo-liberalism as well, that is, if one hopes to stop fascism while leapfrogging over capitalism, one ends up with the reconstruction of the bourgeois class sovereignty. The most glaring examples of this are the attitudes which support Clinton against Trump or Macron against Le Pen.
Fascism, Civil War, Revolution
It is true to note that neo-fascist parties and movements in general are not yet directly oriented by the financial oligarchies, however it is equally true to anticipate that if the communist parties and the rise of revolutionary struggles of the working class and the oppressed grow up to a point where they will threaten the foundations of the bourgeois order, these neo-fascist parties and movements will be given functions as the anti-communist hit force and the open terrorist dictatorship of the financial oligarchy.
A current example from Brazil: The American capital monopolies and collaborative bourgeoisies of Brazil could not even endure the left-wing reformist Workers’ Party, trying to implement both neoliberal policies in favour of the interests of capital and some social projects in favour of the interests of labourers. But above all, they got frustrated with the alliance of Brazil under the leadership of the Workers‘ Party with Cuba and Venezuela. Thus they applied a two-stage type of coup and managed to put president Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva out of action first and then to carry a reckless fascist like Bolsonaro to the presidency seat. A complete supporter of a fascist dictatorship, Bolsonaro has already shown that he will clean up the remnants of the Workers’ Party and be a nonpareil figure to fulfil neoliberal policies.
During the days in October 2018, when Mexico suffered a 17.9% drop in shares and the bond interests hit the ceiling due to Mexico‘s new president, social democrat Lopez Obrador’s statements distant to neoliberal policies, the new fascist president of Brazil, Bolsonaro‘s words about his intention for the complete annihilation of the left led the share certificates in Brazil to increase 19.4% and hearing this, the financial markets were almost jubilantly celebrating.
The example of Brazil clearly explains us that even just a reformist left-wing alternative of power is sufficient for the financial oligarchy to introduce fascism, that the fascist movement is ready for such a political power task regarding the interests of the financial oligarchy, and that increasingly violent contradictions between revolution and counterrevolution will narrow the gap between financial oligarchy and neo-fascism.
Let‘s take a last look at the discussion of fascism from a different perspective: If the political polarization tendency strengthens in society due to the existential crisis of capitalism and if one of these poles produces neo-fascism, then the other pole consists of the growing anti-capitalist and anti-fascist movements. So not only a “neo-fascist wind” blows in the world, at the same time, an “anti-fascist wind” is also blowing.
Bernie Sanders, who stood out against Trump during the US presidential election and won enormous popular support by defending the demands of the working class and leaning on socialist values, but was put out of rank at the bourgeois backstage of the Democratic Party. Jeremy Corbyn, who upholds socialist arguments in England, where reactionary nationalist reflections of the Brexit decision continues, and who is likely to win prime minister seat in the next election with the growing and enthusiastic support of the working class, but this time, who still stay in position since the bourgeois backstage of the Labour Party cannot pull the carpet under his feet. The popular and democratic parties and leaders from large parts of Latin America including from Venezuela to Ecuador, from Bolivia to Uruguay and from Paraguay to Honduras during the 2000s. And much more important than all these reformist left-wing developments, which are resulted from the political fusion of the working class and the oppressed, are, of course, the mass uprisings which express themselves in the Arab people‘s uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the Rojava Revolution, the Indignados in Spain and the Occupy Movement in the US, the Gezi-June Uprising in Turkey, the wave of yellow vests in France; all of which are fermenting another big rising and representing the no longer controllable search of workers and the oppressed.
It became extremely difficult for the rule of the monopolistic bourgeoisie to produce social consent and it cannot protect its ideological hegemony. For the labouring people, there is no objective base of hope for a free and dignified future within the capitalist order. Workers and oppressed are turning their faces to ideological and political breaks with the capitalist order, which has been gradually losing the manoeuvring ability with in-order reforms. They are searching ways in the series of uprisings. But politically all the short cuts are consumed. Let‘s look at Venezuela, Greece or Brazil; what we see is how fast the efforts for social peaceful progress through reforms reach its limits and are crushed, and how quickly conditions for civil wars and their forces mature.
Revolts ultimately open the door for civil wars. And, no doubt, civil war will be the scene for the utmost violent confrontation of fascist and revolutionary forces. n
the return of Modi rule with increased strength is not like Indira Gandhi led Congress returning to power in 1971, or any other such change of governments under the bourgeois democratic ruling system. Such comparisons will be simplistic. It reduces the great threat from the ‘New India’ RSS is trying to mould through the Modi rule. Even a glance through the Bunch of Thoughts of Golwalkar show that through its Hindu Rashtra concept RSS wants to take the Indian society back to the pre-renaissance Manuvadi conditions, to a caste and communal divided situation, which had weakened this South Asian polity for centuries, ultimately making two centuries British colonial domination possible; and now, it shall lead to further intensification of the neoliberal/corporate raj.
When BJP’s initial moves to saffronize and control the political scene started gaining strength with Adwani’s rath yatra, especially when the RJD government in Bihar stopped its advance by arresting Adwani, and in the following decades, the prevalent dominant view, not only among the wide range of caste based political parties/groups/individuals emerged and strengthened based on ‘identity politics’ following Mandalisation of politics, but also among the traditional socialist and left parties, and large number of intellectuals close to them, was that the powerful caste identity, sharply dividing the existing Hindu identity, will not allow the growth of majoritarian Hindutva polarization in India! Based on this theorization, in continuation to their anti-Congressism, large sections from the socialist trend joined the saffron band wagon. All of them failed to recognize the powerful influence of religious undercurrent nurtured by the Bhramanical forces, the Hindutva myths from Ramayana, Mahabharata etc, and the Hindu religious traditions and the customs promoted under Manuvad influencing even the most down- trodden castes. As far as the main stream parties, mainly Congress was concerned, to promote their vote bank, they were increasingly using communal appeasement, mainly Hindutua appeasement. Neither the various political groups emerging from the Ambedkarite/Periyarist like streams, nor other parties based on castes or caste based ‘social engineering’, nor the traditional left stream, all of whom who had reduced their political activities, in the main, to electoral politics, bothered to take up the tasks of carrying forward the renaissance values, of struggling against patriarchy, decadent customs and traditions, of focussing on the annihilation of the caste system, and of strengthening genuine secular values, that is keeping religion away from politics. The caste identity was increasingly utilised to promote vote-banks. In the name of ‘social engineering’, promotion of caste collaboration went ahead. Meanwhile, the small but powerful section among the SCs/STs and other backward sections, who became economically advanced with the benefit of reservation, embraced ‘neo-Brahminical’ positions, abandoning the concept of caste annihilation. They went on diluting demarcation of the socially and economically oppressed sections with the majoritarian Hindutva forces.
At the same time, with active assistance of Savarna elitist sections, the corporate forces, their media, state machinery which is under Brahmanical domination and the enormous corporate funds it is getting, the RSS was executing its plans for saffronization of society and politics aggressively through socio-cultural offensive, utilizing the most modern technology, like utilizing the TV serials based on Mahabharata, Ramayana, etc, entering the field of education and publications in a big way. It imposed its own dress, food codes, etc, spreading hatred against the minorities mainly Muslims and Pakistan, that is against everything that is not saffron or its allies. Once Modi came to power in 2014, mob lynching by gorakshaks and attacks on Muslims and dalits intensified. Imposing patriarchy, the concept of women’s liberation and gender equality were attacked. In this way saffronization was intensified in manifold ways. As a result, in this election BJP could submerge the caste based identity politics, and hegemony of majoritarian Hindutva identity could be advanced decisively, along with the muscular nationalism based on it.
It targeted communists in general, and in the context of immediate electoral demands, the CPI(M) led Left Front parties in particular. Similar to other areas or more than that, it spread RSS sakhas in Kerala, Tripura and Bengal in a big way. It launched an onslaught against the LF governments. The Left Front parties were devoutly pursuing the neoliberal policies wherever they came to power. Instead of waging parliamentary struggle to strengthen class struggle, they had degenerated to parliamentary cretinism, becoming a part of the ruling system. They could not put forward an alternate vision among the masses against the neo-liberal/corporate regime, and for a casteless, genuinely secular and egalitarian society with democratization of all fields of life. So, the LF government in Bengal had started weakening by 2009 and got defeated by the aggressive TMC in 2011 assembly elections. The LF was thrown out from power by aggressive BJP in last year’s assembly elections in Tripura using naked muscle power along with its majoritarian Hindutva offensive. As the CPI(M) and its allies, in spite of the electoral setbacks from the time of 2009 elections, in the main, were not prepared to make self-introspection and to come out of their social democratic narrative, in this election almost 30% of the LF vote share shifted to BJP compared to 2014, decimating it in both these states. It was mauled in its last bastion, Kerala, also, raising the threat of a similar fate for it by the time of the next assembly elections there in 2021.
The massive victory of BJP in Bengal and Tripura and increasing influence in Kerala, along with its sweeping victory except in few states like TN and AP has created a critical situation. Whatever false narrative Modi may propagate about inclusive growth, in reality Yogi Adityanath and Pragya Thakur have become the symbols of BJP victory. Modi-2 is going to launch a severe assault on all democratic values strengthened during the renaissance movement. While indulging in dirty tricks to assimilate the names of renaissance leaders, it is actually intensifying efforts to distort, vulgarize and annihilate the renaissance values. Whatever positive principles are enshrined in the Constitution is assaulted. Constitutional institutions are saffronized further. Fields of education, culture and propaganda also shall be brought under the hegemony of Hindu Rashtra ideology. Penetration and domination of the state machinery and armed forces by RSS shall be speeded up further.
Based on the above analysis of what is happening in the political scene, a pertinent question arises, especially in the context when all the mainstream opposition parties, starting from Congress are seemingly in a somewhat paralysed condition following the BJP/NDA victory: were they not aware of the political plan of the RSS to transform India in to a Hindu Rashtra right from the time it was formed in 1925 following the models of Brown shirts of Italy and storm troopers of Nazis? Though their history may be different, the numerous neo-fascist outfits including RSS are emerging and often coming to power today, in a larger scale than in the 1930s, as the imperialist system has become much more degenerated and reactionary, and as it wants these as their political task masters to serve the neoliberal/corporate exploitative system with an iron hand. Though it was the Congress which opened the neoliberal innings in India, during the decade long UPA rule it was proved inefficient and lacking a reactionary ideology as efficient as that of the RSS parivar to carry forward the tasks of globalisation to its extreme levels. So, 90% or more of the corporate funding and support went to BJP, the political face of RSS which could wield the majoritarian Hindutva weapon to polarise the “Hindu” votes and come to power to serve imperialist interests. The first budget of Modi-2 has proved how the neo-fascists with populist claims are opening up the country for globalization decisively, justifying the corporate trust in it. At least Congress, leading a decade of UPA rule cannot say that it was ignorant of the systematic growth of RSS and its criminal activities.
Still the Congress and other opposition parties who were serving the neoliberal agenda at the centre or in the states are refusing to recognize this fact, even grudgingly, because of their political positions subservient to the ruling classes. So, afraid of their future, they are in total disarray. It is similar to what is happening in most other countries where the neo-fascists, whatever may be their brand, are coming to power. All the centrist or rightist parties who were in power are in disarray as they are still sticking to their rightist policies. This is proved from their meek response so far to the blatant budget proposals of Modi-2 as well as to its aggressive saffron offensive.
In spite of such a severe setback they suffered in Bengal, Tripura and even in Kerala where they are in power, besides in all other states except Tamilnadu thanks to their alliance with the DMK, the traditional left parties, the CPI(M) and its Left Front partners, refuse to recognize this reality. CPI(M) general secretary is repeating that if all non-NDA parties come together everything will be ok. While saying so, he is not ready to ask the LDF government in Kerala led by his party to rectify its positions so that a better resistance can be put up against the BJP in the 2021 assembly elections. The Pinarayi government is so dedicated to implement the Modi-2’s so-called development plans and so arrogant towards people’s movements for social justice, environmental protection, land for the landless Adivasis and dalits etc that nobody should be surprised if what happened in Bengal and Tripura is repeated in Kerala also! The pity is that CPI(M) leadership which is not capable to stop its own government in Kerala from pursuing neoliberal agenda and to strive for an alternative development approach is talking big about building an all India level front against the Modi government by uniting Congress like parties (who may commit suicide rather than changing their ruling class policies)! Like the social democrats everywhere, the CPI(M) is also on the path of self-destruction, instead of rectifying its line and working for left unity as the core to build the anti-fascist front.
The stand taken by the sectarian CPI(Maoist) is also suicidal. They are still under the illusion that through their squad politics they can win over the people! Even after the victory of the mass movement of the Adivasis in Chhattisgarh which compelled the state government to withdraw orders for coal mining destroying vast forest areas, which their squads could not achieve, the Maoist and their intellectual supporters are not prepared to abandon their anarchist line which is only defaming the communist movement.
Under these circumstances, it is the historical responsibility of revolutionary left forces to come together and unite all struggling and toiling people to resist this fascist offensive of the RJP/RSS-Parivar. It is only by exposing the corporate - saffron fascist agenda of the Modi government and building mass movements and class struggle against every such attack can we build an effective resistance against the looming threat of fascism. Our proposal is that the struggling left forces should start an open dialogue to explore the possibilities of developing a mass political platform at the national level based on a common minimum program that will take up both parliamentary as well as extra-parliamentary struggles against the saffron brigade and its policies. Such an initiative from our side shall create conditions for uniting all anti-fascist forces on a broad platform also in coming days. n