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The Prospect of Fascism

Anti-fascists have a huge responsibility thrust upon their shoulders.

The outcome of the meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)—CPI(M)—at Kolkata, from 19 to 21 January, to discuss, amend and adopt its Draft Political Resolution (DPR) has, understandably, aroused considerable interest in left and progressive circles. With far from unfounded apprehensions of the advent of semi-fascism, or fascism for some, if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister wins a second term in office in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the left will once more have a life-and-death duty to fulfil, an onus for which it is historically cut out. What has attracted some public and media attention since September 2016 is an internal debate about whether the “conditions ... in political, economic and class terms—for a fascist regime to be established” are at all in existence in India today, and if so, what kind of political fronts/alliances are necessary to take them on. 

The dominant view in the CPI(M), articulated by former general secretary Prakash Karat, is that the conditions for the emergence of fascism are absent or at most have a weak presence. But both from above, by means of some institutions of the state, and from below, through the “Hindutva brigade,” a determined effort is being made to reorder the society and polity along the lines of Hindutva, thereby posing a grave danger to democracy and secularism. As regards what needs to be done, the majority in the Central Committee believes that “neo-liberalism” and “communalism” have to be fought as part of a combined struggle. Therefore, the Congress party, which has been, like the BJP, “managing the neo-liberal order for the ruling classes,” cannot be an ally in this struggle.

The alternative position, represented by the party’s present general secretary Sitaram Yechury, seems to think that this “no alliance, no understanding with the Congress” is a senseless stand. But the alternative position has lost out in the vote taken at the Central Committee meeting. The amended resolution rules out an understanding or an electoral alliance with the Congress party, unless this is overturned at the Party Congress in April.

Looking at the challenge more generally, that is, not with reference to the CPI(M) alone, and learning from the historical mistakes of the left in Germany in the late 1920s and the 1930s, the implicit model for the Indian left in resisting semi-fascism should be to first form a “United Front” of the Indian left. Apart from the parliamentary left parties, surely there is a need to include the radical left too, as also, the socialists. The communist left needs to transcend its visceral sectarianism and respect the plurality of the socialist tradition. Moreover, it is the United Front that needs to have an anti-neo-liberalist component in its programme. Any United Front worth its name will have to take on the monstrous class polarisation that has been the consequence of the capital accumulation process in the neo-liberal period, and the associated hijacking of the electoral process through the power of money and wealth, including the naked dominance that the latter bestows.

It is such a United Front that must then take a call on whether and when to ally, and on what terms, with liberal capitalist parties and governments to form a “Popular Front.” It will also have to decide whether and when to ally, and on what terms, with right-wing parties and governments, that is, with all anti-fascist forces in a “National Front.” The United Front needs to see the discrimination and the hatred, especially against Muslims, as deriving not from religious identity alone, but from structural inequality and the fact that historically a large proportion of them have been converts from the ranks of the exploited classes/oppressed castes. It must articulate this view in the Popular and National Fronts.

Presently, there are many Muslim youth who have been through acute suffering at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system. Indeed, the forces of Hindutvavadi nationalism with the active complicity of the state have been bent upon humiliating and crushing Muslims. The police and the courts have by and large failed to provide protection and deliver justice, so much so that a considerable section of the community seems to be losing faith in these arms of the state. Any United or Popular Front worth its name needs to rope in oppressed Muslims and all the other victims of the Hindutvavadi Brahminical order, especially the economically exploited and the socially oppressed, into its fold.

It is only by tracking the roots of fascism/semi-fascism and the socio-economic and psychological conditions that give rise to it that a United Front can decide how to eradicate it. Only then can it intelligently put in place a Popular Front, or even a National Front if deemed necessary, to rope in a majority of the people against the fascist/semi-fascist tendency. One must also keep in mind that time is of the essence, for the political party of the Sangh Parivar is now in power, and if it comes back to power in the 2019 elections, backed by the Hindutvavadi “nationalist” movement, it could possibly do away with liberal–political
democracy to achieve its goal of a Hindu rashtra.

Updated On : 29th Jan, 2018

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