Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Indian Semi Fascism ? Bernard D'Mello on Indian Semi Fascism and The Left

                                                                Bernard  D'Mello

Source: http://www.epw.in/authors/bernard-dmello

Democracy  and Class Struggle re- publish this article has it throws light on Indian Fascism - we believe D'Mello still has some bourgeois illusions has he takes some of the formal aspects of Indian Democracy like elections has substance.

Nevertheless we find this article illuminating when it comes to the  ‘State-Temple-Corporate Complex’.

We also think the notion of tendency to sub imperialism in India is worth further study.

Download PDF version

Following the ascendancy of Hindutvavadi nationalism over its "secular" counterpart, and a majority, Modi-led government in power at the centre, semi-fascism is in the making in a milieu characterised by monstrous class polarisation, a sub-imperialist tendency of the oligopolistic business stratum/Indian state, rotten liberal-political democracy and widespread "Syndicated Hindu" religiosity. What is this semi-fascism? How may the Left resist it? What may the anti-semi-fascist magazine be comprised of?

Bernard D’Mello (bernard@epw.in) is a member of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai.

This essay is dedicated to the memories of Sheikh Abdul Rawoof and Nirmal Kumar Chandra, the former, a Maoist revolutionary, who passed away on 9 February 2014, the latter, one of India’s finest radical economists, who died on 19 March 2014. Their respective aspirations lay beyond the narrow limits of "acceptable politics"/"adequate scholarship". I am grateful to John Mage and Paresh Chattopadhyay, and to my colleagues at EPW, for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. The text in its first draft was in the form of notes I prepared for a Rawoof Memorial Lecture I delivered in Thrissur on 16 March 2014, and I benefited from the discussion and the comments that followed. I assume responsibility for any mistakes and shortcomings that remain.
You can’t have ideas like mine and expect to be left alone.
– Pier Paolo Pasolini, the Italian poet, film-maker, novelist and political journalist, shortly before his murder (assassination?) on 2 November 1975.

Overburdened by anxiety over the sway of Hindutvavadi nationalism after February 2002, compounded by isolation at a workplace breeding mistrust and back-stabbing, its management steeped in the values of the Dharmashastras, I was compulsorily retired "in the public interest".

Among other matters, the management just could not take the few paragraphs I had written about Bharatiya management studies (D’Mello 1999:M-174).

When I think of those times, I invariably remember the character Pinneberg, the "little man" or "nobody" from the German novelist Hans Fallada’s 1932 Little Man, What Now?

The novel hit the stands just before the Nazi Party took over. "Nothing lasted but being alone" – those words from its final chapter say a lot about the solitariness upon rejection of those who "don’t belong". I

n 1935 Fallada was classified by the Nazi regime as an "undesirable author". That was almost 80 years ago, but now, "master criminals" are about to run amuck once more, this time in 21st century India, and not many will be willing to see, tell or publish the truth about the further contamination of Indian society and the state.

I begin with the premise that liberal-political democracy in India, however rotten it may be (D’Mello 2013), is not about to be discarded, for neo-liberal capitalism and India’s nascent sub-imperialism are not threatened; they do not, as yet, need the application of the ultimate safeguard – fascism.

Two processes, apparently running parallel to each other over the last two decades, neo-liberal capitalist development and the oligopolistic business (in Marxist terminology, monopoly) stratum’s/Indian state’s nascent sub-imperialist tendency, on the one hand, and the reactionary Hindutvavadi nationalist movement, on the other, have congregated once again at the national level, greatly strengthened compared to such convergence at the time of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government during 1998-2004.

I argue that the consequence can be semi-fascism (conceptualised later on) – fascism hyphenated with a semi – not full-blown fascism, mainly, but not wholly, because electoral democracy, the filling of the posts, through universal adult franchise, of the legislative functions of the state, will not, as yet, be dispensed with, given bipartisanism (concurrence of the Congress and the BJP) as far as both neo-liberalism and nascent sub-imperialism are concerned.

Big business, even with Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister and the BJP with a majority in the Lok Sabha, will not encourage the organisation of a fascist regime. And, moreover, despite the Maoist movement, the ruling establishment is not threatened by revolution from below. But with semi-fascism on the anvil, the question naturally arises as to how the Left should take on the challenge.

I start with a few observations on the central fascist movements and regimes in the history of Germany and Italy (historical fascism), this because they inform all accounts that try to theorise about fascism/semi-fascism. I then briefly explore the monstrous polarisation that has occurred in India in the neo-liberal period and argue that, in certain circumstances, this can bring the monopoly stratum’s/Indian state’s nascent sub-imperialist tendency to the fore.

From here I probe the long process by which the Hindutvavadi nationalist movement has managed to bring the BJP to power with a majority in the Lok Sabha – its designated leaders now hold the principal offices in the executive of the Indian state. Hindutvavadi nationalism has triumphed over "secular" nationalism.

I go on to conceptualise semi-fascism in the Indian context, and come to what the Left can do to resist the demon. I critique the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s (CPI(M)) and, in turn, the radical Left’s, existing approaches to the challenge that Hindutvavadi nationalism has, so far, posed, and outline my own proposals of what might constitute a viable and effective Left resistance based on a United Front (UF). But, in locating the magazine of the resistance in its multiple strands, I propose the idea of 21st century United and Popular Fronts.

Essentially, I am trying to understand what fascism and semi-fascism are, why they surface, and how they manifest themselves. Equally, I am concerned with the terrain of anti-fascism/anti-semi-fascism. I make no bones about my objective:

It is to present a point of view of anti-fascism/anti-semi-fascism. I am concerned with the urgent need for the Indian Left to ally and organise against semi-fascism, and in this endeavour, it has a lot to learn from what other anti-fascists have done in the past.

I emphasise that there is a great deal of continuity between what the Congress Party and the BJP have done in their political spearheading of India’s neo-liberal development, as also in buttressing the monopoly stratum’s/Indian state’s nascent sub-imperialist tendency, as well as the regime’s severe repression of the oppressed-nationality and Maoist movements.

I try to provide a "quality" intellectual understanding of Indian semi-fascism in the making. However, knowledge of the past can only be a rough guide, if at all, to the future, and so my comprehension of Indian semi-fascism in the making is provisional until something better comes along. Also, let me sound a note of caution, a caveat, at the very outset: I may have overestimated the effect of certain objective conditions on the ground, as also, the efficacy of the voluntarism of the Hindutvavadi leadership in the likely installation of semi-fascism.

Concurrently, I may have underestimated the impact of other objective conditions, the progressive currents in Indian society, and the will & resolve of progressives in undermining that reactionary transformation.

It is true, however, as far as the force of opinion on public action goes, individual reason often gets dwarfed by the influence of power, and here, the power of Hindutvavadi discourse, more so with the BJP sponsored by big business and now, the loaves and fishes of office.

2 Clues from Historical Fascism

Any analysis aiming to understand contemporary semi-fascism in the making must revisit historical fascism, especially in Germany and Italy.1 I view the rise of historical fascism as emanating from the impact of the imperialist first world war on the economic and social structures of some of the defeated developed-capitalist nations. The Kingdom of Italy, of course, joined the Entente in May 1915 urged on by Mussolini’s paid war propaganda, and after secret negotiations with Britain and France, bargained for territory if victorious. But although in the victorious camp in 1918, with the wretchedness of life in the trenches, and poverty, misery and degradation at home for the majority, Italy’s fate was much like that of the defeated Central Powers. So the context was the war, the "defeat", the reparations (in the case of Germany), hyperinflation, deep despair and imagined-threatened disintegration of the nation state.

To this one must add the build-up of a reactionary mass movement anchored in paramilitary formations, the subsequent emergence of a one-party regime with aFührer or a Duce as the supreme symbol of authoritarian leadership, a repressive regime that was violently nationalistic, racist (anti-Semitic, indeed, racist anti-Semitic, in the case of Germany), intolerant of opposition, hostile to civil liberties and democratic rights. And, lest I forget, before fascism came to power, there was its principal adversary, a formidable labour movement, with one wing led by social democrats, and the other, smaller, but headed by communists with revolutionary objectives.

The independent labour movement was among the first targets in both Italy and Germany, in both cases replaced swiftly by a fascist all-inclusive labour movement directly integrated into both party and state. Fascism presented itself as an authoritative alternative in the form of militant, demagogic nationalism2 and violence (with the use of "storm-troopers/Blackshirts" in active complicity with the state) against all those whom it singled out – communists, social democrats, the labour movement, and in Germany, the Jews, the gypsies and the Slavs. Of course, Mussolini fell in line with anti-Semitic racism only from 1938.

When the reactionary mass movement (fascists mobilised the masses from below) and party upstaged the other rightwing nationalist parties, cartelised big business came eagerly on board. In both Germany and Italy, the fascists came to power by "constitutional" means, and only then did they refuse to play the liberal-political democratic game.

However, the important point is that the reactionary mass movement heralding "national renewal", whether in Germany or Italy, did not by itself produce fascism. The Great Depression, monopoly capitalism mired in stagnation, and deep economic, political, social and cultural decline in Germany (in Italy, the fascists came to power before the Great Slump), and importantly, seriously undermining the very structure of capitalist rule, led to the rise and consolidation of the fascist regime. And, with the coming to power of fascism, the strong state and one-party system followed, and then, imperialist strategy – monopoly capital and the state came together to extend their influence, their power, and their mutual interests beyond the national borders.

There is just one more thing I need to mention. With the establishment of a strong state and a close state-big business alliance, and with some sections of big business losing favour (in Germany, the Jewish capitalists were expropriated), some parvenus backed by powerful fascist politicians entered the ranks of big business. A virtual absorption of the personnel of the top levels of big business into the state apparatus then ensued – the separate channels through which the ruling class exercised its political and economic power in liberal-political democracy now tended to converge into one under fascism.

This bare account of historical fascism suggests that it would be best if fascism/semi-fascism is theorised as a process, keeping in mind the various aspects/elements just mentioned, for then one can avoid the pitfall of permanently fixing its meaning based on its historical forms in Germany and Italy.

We are now ready to get to India today.

3 Monstrous Polarisation

Capitalism is based on exploitation – private appropriation of part of the product of the labour of others and of the natural resources of the commons – and this generates inequality. Neo-liberalism exacerbates such inequality. It is a package of policies coupled with an ideological framework. The policies include free trade, privatisation, financial openness, the elimination of government regulations on capital, and fiscal conservatism leading to reductions in social programmes, all these appended with a facade of social and governance issues, like, for instance, fighting corruption. The ideology assigns primacy to economic growth, believes in the dynamism of the market and the private sector, and celebrates inequality. As a result of the adoption of such neo-liberal orthodoxy in India in phases from 1991 onwards, money – the standard of all things, the measure of one’s worth – now has many more avenues for profitable deployment than it had before. Indeed, India’s moneybags now almost have de facto the freedom to accumulate wealth by any and all available means.

In an earlier essay (Bernie 2012), I emphasised the importance of the opening of the energy, mining, telecommunications, civil aviation, infrastructure (ports, highways, etc), banking, insurance, and other sectors to private capital following the International Monetary Fund-World Bank prescribed stabilisation and structural adjustment programmes that India undertook in the 1990s and the transformation of the character and composition of the big bourgeoisie that was brought about as a result. In particular, I stressed upon the rise of a "financial aristocracy" (financial big bourgeoisie), including a set of parvenus, which has been increasingly calling the shots in the corridors of power in India today.3

Essentially, the financial aristocracy has been multiplying its wealth not by production alone but by pocketing the already available wealth of others, state property and the commons, including those of the adivasis. In emphasising the rise of the financial bourgeoisie, however, I do not intend to convey the impression that the "industrial bourgeoisie" (that directly extracts surplus value from productive labour) is not in the circuit of political power, or indeed, that all the other propertied classes have been excluded from the orbit of political power.

In particular, we must not disregard the powerful brick-and-mortar industrial bourgeoisie. In the earlier essay just mentioned, we followed the money; now let us follow the labour that made it, and then combine the two. Over the last two decades, as part of a process of rapid business expansion, the proportion of regular workers in the total workforces of units in the factory sector has been on a downward trend, i e, the proportion of temporary and contract workers in these workforces has increased quite significantly, this with the complicity of the state. The latter has turned a blind eye to violations of labour law concerning the terms of employment, wages, conditions of work, including occupational health and safety, as also retrenchment and compulsory retirement. The ongoing struggle of the workers of Maruti-Suzuki’s Manesar plant – the company is Suzuki’s most profitable subsidiary worldwide – and the solidarity they have got have helped highlight these facts in the political realm.

3.1 Huge Reserve Army of Labour

Capital in neo-liberal India exploits a precariously employed flexible workforce, this with a vast reinforcement of potential workers at its disposal, what Marx called the reserve army of labour or the relative surplus population – a vast pool of the unemployed, underemployed, and self-employed in petty commodity production and/or trade (potential wage labourers). Marx categorised the reserve army in normal times into three components, the floating, the latent and the stagnant, and added on those engaged in illegal activity, the lumpenproletariat.

The floating component would be composed of workers who are unemployed due to the normal ups and downs of the business cycle, those who have lost their jobs due to the introduction of new capital and technology that makes possible the production of a given level of output with a lesser amount of labour (technological unemployment), and those who are laid off when employers can get cheaper, younger workers to replace them. But then, with no social security, many of these persons will not be able to survive if they remained unemployed; they desperately do what they can to earn a living, so the actual number of the unemployed is lower.

The latent component of the reserve army of labour in the Indian context should include those who work for subsistence on own-account (self-employed petty commodity producers/traders of goods and services), including in agriculture, as well as the other members of their families who chip in as unpaid workers, the proportion of which goes up in times of economic distress. The stagnant component is that part of the active labour army that only manages to find extremely irregular employment (at best they are intermittent workers). In the Indian context, a significant proportion of casual wage labourers, including agricultural labourers, would be in that category.

Basically, the reserve army of labour presents capital with a pool of labour available for hire; equally, it also forces "discipline" and "efficiency" on those who are in employment. The threat of unemployment and underemployment hangs like the sword of Democles over the heads of all those who have no other alternative but to work for a wage under capitalism, and this is the real source of capitalist efficiency, the real means of increasing the rate of exploitation of the active army of labour. As Marx put it in Chapter 25, "The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation" in Capital, Volume 1, the reserve army of labour or the "(r)elative surplus population is...the pivot upon which the law of demand and supply of labour works".

Our estimate of the size of the reserve army of labour in 2011-12 is 226.9 million persons – the sum of a 24.7 million floating reserve, a 171.7 million latent reserve, and a 30.5 million stagnant reserve – 10% more than the size of the active army of wage labour.4 The pivot upon which the law of demand for and supply of labour works is thus very significant, both, in an absolute and in a relative sense, in not only restraining the rise in real wages, but also in moderating the producer prices that the petty commodity producers get (from merchant capital) in the overcrowded and intensely competitive supply side of the product markets they find themselves in. If we now assume that each person in the reserve army of labour and each person in the active army of casual labour supports one dependent, then together this section of Indian society – which is at the bottom of the class pyramid – is made up of 720.6 million persons, or 59.5% of the country’s population.

The reserve army of labour and the active army of casual labour are at the bottom of a steep social-class hierarchy at the apex of which are a relatively small number of owner-controllers of the oligopolies, beneficiaries of the skewed distribution of surplus value. There is thus a sharp class polarisation in neo-liberal India – islands of wealth, luxury and civilisation in a vast sea of poverty, misery and degradation. The ratio of the income of a dollar billionaire to that of a casual labourer is of the order of 106! In between, at different distances from the apex and the base of the social-class pyramid, are semi-capitalist landowners,SME (small and medium enterprise) capitalists, the merchant and moneylending classes, the administrative, professional, scientific and technological sections of the middle class, the labour contractors/jobbers who recruit and manage gangs of unregistered casual-contract wage workers, and the regular wage workers. Such relative immiserisation in India’s underdeveloped capitalist system is not very different from what Marx expected in the course of capitalist development and he articulated a "general law of capitalist accumulation" to that effect in Capital, VolumeI, Chapter 25.

One aspect of India’s underdevelopment is the large (in relative and absolute terms) contingent of petty commodity producers/traders. A low level of development of the forces of production prevails in significant parts of the economy, with these spheres dominated by mercantile, credit and semi-feudal capital. Indeed, there has been/is a political and commercial alliance between the semi-feudal/semi-capitalist landowning classes and mercantile-cum-credit capital which has preserved the status and prerogatives of both. This and the preservation of the large mass of oppressed peasants and other petty commodity producers are at the core of India’s underdeveloped capitalism. Importantly, this state of affairs is concomitant with backward capitalist and semi-feudal political, ideological and cultural traits.

3.2 ‘Natural Order’ of Society!

Even learned economists seem to be mystified by the economic system; one has only to examine the false solutions they propose to solve the problems of the 59.5% (three-fifths) of the population who are at the bottom of the steep economic hierarchy. Basically, their diagnoses of the problems are oblivious of the real world of classes, wherein ownership entitles a few to substantial shares of the output. Despite a trend annual rate of growth of real national income/product of around 6% (official statistics seem to overestimate services sector growth) over two decades since 1991, the distribution of that income – which is not merely a passive consequence of production and exchange – has prevented the increment of aggregate income from raising the levels of living of the masses. Hardly anyone, even in the economics profession, ever mentions Marx’s labour theory of value and his analysis of exploitation. Didn’t he also say something about the loop between the ruling classes and the ruling ideas?

Any wonder then that the three-fifths of the population whose lives are ruled by external economic compulsion cannot understand the world around them and are subject repeatedly to false promises. One might surely be dismayed by the many visible strains of irrationality, but with the extent of mystification and superstition all around the three-fifths of the population who constitute the poor, the miserable and the degraded, the conservativeness of the administrative, professional, scientific and technological sections of the middle class, the pernicious influence of mercantile, credit and semi-feudal capital over the lives of the petty commodity producers/traders, it’s not hard to understand why so many in India today are so utterly confused and misinformed, why Hindutvavadi nationalism as an ideology has grown in strength.

Class and caste distinctions, and Hindutvavadi morality, are openly flaunted, especially by the nouveau riche, who unlike its older counterpart, relates to money as if it can buy anyone and anything. This is not at all surprising, for liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation have paved the way for the making of fortunes (by the privileged) where they were not many such avenues earlier, and with a low incidence of income tax on high incomes and a lack of a social code regarding the extent of permissible relative poverty, the billionaire-casual wage worker income ratio of (the order of) 106 is seen as part of the "natural order" of society. Indeed, the nouveau riche also defines "Quality", and does it very carefully for those who come from dalit-bahujan social backgrounds, this in order to preserve that "natural order".

3.3 Propensity of Overproduction

The relative immiserisation and the monstrous class-polarisation that India has witnessed over the last two decades are consequences, not of any "natural order" of society, but of the working out of the very nature of capital as self-expanding value. Marx put it wonderfully well when he wrote: "The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself". With the sharp deceleration of real GDP (gross domestic product) growth (from an average of 8.3% during 2004-05 to 2011-12 to 4.6% in 2012-13 and 2013-14), what is now unfolding is the contradiction between the capacity to produce and the capacity to consume. The process of accumulation is predicated upon an increase in the rate of exploitation, but at the same time, the realisation of the additional surplus is dependent upon additional purchasing power of the mass of consumers – both are essential to spur investment and economic growth. But relative immiserisation has reached a point where it is holding down growth of the relative purchasing power of the masses, weakening consumption and adding to overcapacity, thus lowering expected profits on new investment, and thereby dampening the propensity to invest.5

The neo-liberal path of capitalist development followed over the last two decades is suffused with a realisation problem, and the oligopolists at the top of the social-class pyramid, the main beneficiaries of the skewed distribution of the surplus, are now trying to maintain their higher rates of profit by holding back on investments that would otherwise have expanded the stock of productive capital. A successful process of accumulation requires a rise in mass consumption, but when the capitalist class does not concede a sufficient rise in the incomes of the regular and casual workers and the petty commodity producers, the addition to productive capacity turns out to be more than what the increase in consumption can possibly sustain. In such a situation – and with self-imposed caps on civilian government spending – militarism and nascent sub-imperialism, besides financialisation, the offsetting tendencies, come to the fore.6

4 Sub-Imperialist Tendency

We have been labouring at the domestic aspects of India’s neo-liberal capitalist development, but it’s time now to turn to the international ones. A prudential way would be to move from the domestic to the international via the intersection of the two.

India has one of the most powerful and wealthy big bourgeoisies in the periphery of the world capitalist system. But yet, in the process of advancing their power, their influence and their mutual interests beyond the country’s borders, the Indian state and big bourgeoisie are dependent upon US imperialism, a dependence that deepened following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union. The Indian regime began to alter its foreign policy, leading on to a strategic alliance as a junior partner with US imperialism. In emphasising US imperialist agency, however, one should not forget that India’s nascent sub-imperialism is also the global face of the monopoly stratum of Indian capital. Indeed, India’s nascent sub-imperialism springs from the very nature of its underdeveloped capitalism with a strong monopoly capitalist stratum that includes a transnational-corporate slice.7

Sections of the big bourgeoisie have gained unprecedented prosperity over the last two decades, derived from high rates of exploitation at home and the growth of exports of information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services, pharmaceuticals, etc, mainly from arbitraging cheap "human capital". The relatively significant outward foreign direct investment, even to the developed capitalist countries, mainly through mergers and acquisitions, must also be acknowledged.

We have already highlighted the rise of the financial aristocracy (financial big bourgeoisie), which is now increasingly calling the shots in the corridors of power, but the consolidation of oligopolistic market structures in the modern industrial and services sector, reinforced, no doubt, by foreign capital, must also be noted. Indeed, Indian monopoly capital, which was once "a very different species from its counterpart in the west" when it bore "a closer family resemblance to pre-industrial monopolies" than to contemporary western monopoly capital (Chandra 1979), now that it has been exposed to two decades of constant pressures from foreign institutional investors, this in the presence of competition from and collaboration with transnational corporations, and competition from imports, and despite being technologically dependent on western and Japanese monopoly capital, it is now emulating its western counterpart in more ways than one might like to admit.

4.1 Financialisation, Consumerism, and Militarism

With the globalisation of the country’s financial markets – gross capital inflows and outflows as a percentage of GDP increased from 15.1% in 1990-91 to 53.9% in 2010-11 – international financial capital that is seemingly disengaged from any particular national capitalist interests is now a prominent structural characteristic of the Indian economy. Not to be left behind, Indian monopoly capital has jumped on the financial bandwagon. The registration of new non-government public and private limited companies in terms of sheer numbers, 40,459 (43.8% of the total of such registrations) in finance, insurance, real estate and business services during 2012-13, compared to 14,146 (15.3%) in manufacturing in the same year (part of the trend in recent years), and cumulatively, as on 31 March 2013, 2,82,093 (32% of the total such companies at work on that date) in the former compared to 1,96,314 (22.2%) in the latter, points to the extraordinary growth of "finance" vis-à-vis "industry" (Government of India 2014: 27, 29-30). With various kinds of non-banking financial companies (NBFCS) within the fold of the large business houses (units of large capitals), inter-company investments financed by debt have made the process of centralisation of capital (gaining managerial control over smaller capitals) less complicated.8

La Grande Bouffe, so characteristic of consumerism, is confined to the elite, which imitates the consumption patterns of its counterparts in the developed capitalist countries.9 Much of this is ensconced in a corporate milieu wherein a considerable part of personal consumption is written off as business expenses, and the very rich siphon off part of the surpluses that they appropriate to tax havens. As the saying goes, "nothing is enough for those for whom enough is too little". Thorstein Veblen’s concepts of conspicuous consumption and leisure, and pecuniary emulation,10 these in the context of the monstrous class polarisation that we just touched upon, are more relevant than ever before. Even as Indian fascist leaders control people by bringing them under the sway of Hindutvavadi nationalism and other demeaning passions through shared devotion to Bharat Mata (Mother India) – with their flags, anthems (Vande Mataram), loyalty oaths, symbols and myths – consumerism in a corporate capitalist milieu, with its subliminal suggestions regarding the criteria of success and the ruthlessness with which affluence must be pursued, virtually declares war on nature.

Loyalty to particular brands, just like allegiance to Bharat Mata, is created through symbols and images, basically by manipulation through emotional appeal. However, at least with respect to historical fascism, the demeaning passions did not last after its defeat, but consumerism, it seems, is worse in this respect; for those who indulge in it, they apparently fleetingly satisfy their basic compulsions, but remain subjugated and confined, slaves of those urges. I am really echoing Pasolini, when I say this, but it leaves me with a disturbing question: Is consumerism strengthening the incipient mass psychology of fascism? Certainly, the impression that wallowing in branded consumer goodies is equivalent to the attainment of political liberty and economic freedom, what Herbert Marcuse called "repressive desublimation", has gained a lot of ground in the neo-liberal period.

But now, in the throes of a realisation crisis, with the economy having generated capacity faster than the growth of demand, especially in consumer durables, including cars produced by the multinationals, the further opening of external markets in south Asia and beyond has become an imperative. And, with the state tending to increase military expenditure and import technologically-superior hardware subject to the quid pro quo of gradual indigenisation in India’s own developing military-industrial complex, the fusion of interests between India’s defence ministry, military top brass and Indian-monopoly licensees/subcontractors and their multinational licensors is solidifying. This might lay the foundation for profitable military exports from India. After all, the Indian state is a regional military power that has built a nuclear weapons arsenal; and besides, it even has a missiles and missiles delivery development programme. And, of course, it has, for long, been fighting internal wars (Navlakha 1999a, b, 2001; Reddy 2008).

4.2 Ruthless Measures

For Rosa Luxemburg, imperialism was – as she put it in her 1913 book – The Accumulation of Capital – "the political expression of the accumulation of capital in its competitive struggle for what remains still open for the non-capitalist environment" (p 446), within one’s own borders and beyond, through militarism and war. In this respect, one senses continuity vis-à-vis colonial capitalism in the expansion of the Indian state and monopoly capital, including transnational corporate capital, into the tribal areas of central and eastern India, and the Indian state’s engagement in a "war against its own people" in seeking and securing raw materials and investment opportunities.

As regards its internal "non-capitalist" milieu, like colonial capitalism, contemporary Indian capitalism is engaged in adapting it to its own imperatives by drawing it into its orbit. Of course, in the tribal areas of central and eastern India, where there is revolutionary resistance, the process of capitalist development has turned increasingly violent and catastrophic, what with the escalation of militarism and war by the Indian state leading to an inevitable cultural and economic ruin of the tribal communities living over there. As Luxemburg puts it, albeit with respect to what colonial capitalism did in the non-capitalist parts of the world, and I quote her because her passionate account, in parts, might well apply to what is presently happening in the undeclared civil war that the Indian state has unleashed against its own people in central and eastern India (Luxemburg 1913: 365, 376, 452):
...primitive conditions allow of a greater drive and of far more ruthless measures than could be tolerated under purely capitalist social conditions. ...
The unbridled greed, the acquisitive instinct of accumulation ... is incapable of seeing far enough to recognise the value of ... an older civilisation. ...
Force, fraud, oppression, looting are openly displayed without any attempt at concealment, and it requires an effort to discover within this tangle of political violence and contests for power the stern laws of the economic process.

But apart from such ruthless measures within one’s borders, what is of crucial significance is Washington’s "Pivot to Asia" strategy in the wake of China’s rapid economic development over the last 30 years, her securing of international energy and raw material sources and surface transportation routes for the same, and Beijing’s accompanying geopolitical ascendency, all of which have upset the long-established US imperialist dominated order in Asia. The US’s strategic alliances with Japan, Australia and India are aimed at containing China through political, diplomatic and military means, and Washington’s three strategic partners are now being pressurised to, in turn, forge strategic ties with each other. As a junior partner of the US, the Indian Navy is fast becoming the chief policeman of the Indian Ocean, and the Indian military’s dependence on the US military-industrial complex is increasing, this via supply of military hardware and a homeland security deal with Israel too. Basically, India is being groomed for the role of a sub-imperialist power by the US in order to serve mutual capitalist interests.

4.3 Akhand Bharat and ‘Greater India’

The question then naturally arises about the link between Hindutvavadi nationalism and India’s nascent sub-imperialism. The bolstering of the semi-fascist project of the Hindutvavadi forces really followed the US "war on terror" in the aftermath of 9/11, and this provides the connecting link of India’s nascent sub-imperialism with Hindutvavadi nationalism. What is relevant here is Hindutvavadi nationalism’s expansionist thrust – its call for the "recreation" of Akhand Bharat, undivided India, geographically as it existed prior to Partition in 1947, indeed, the territory of what the Hindutvavadins would equate with that of the ancient Bharatavarsha, "purified" culturally, and embracing a hoary "civilisational heritage", and yet, technologically modern.

The Hindutvavadi claim is that only such a formation can usher in "real freedom" for Hindus. The building of such castles in the air can be dismissed as part of the irrational and mystical outpourings of Hindutvavadi ideology, but even an Indian government under Congress Party leadership has eagerly played the role of the pawn that Huntington – in his influential book Clash of Civilizations – assigned to it, coming close to the "the US-Israel alliance against the largely Islamic ‘axis of evil’ nations" and positioning itself "as nuclear-armed bulwark" against China (Nanda 2009a: 108).

In such a defence framework, smaller neighbouring states are considered mere protectorates under India’s security system. But further, it is the extension of India’s "strategic neighbourhood" to the whole area around the Indian Ocean region adjoining the Persian Gulf (the extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz), east Africa and south-east Asia – the Hindutvavadi nationalist conception of "Greater India"11 – that is, from Washington’s point of view, the geopolitical significance of India. More plainly speaking, the junior partner’s military presence at the core of the arc between Washington’s military consolidation both in the Persian Gulf and in east Asia explains the geopolitical relevance of India to the US.

Tragically, the ascendancy of Hindutvavadi nationalism – based, as it is, on a chauvinistic hatred of Muslims and an irrational and mystical appeal to "Akhand Bharat" and "Greater India" – will further the sub-imperialist urging and it is to this allegiance that we now turn. Readers will have noted as to what kind of nationalists these Hindutvavadins are who – like their Congress counterparts – endorse a strategic alliance of India as a junior partner with US imperialism. Of course, concomitantly they also play the pretence card of "strategic autonomy".

5 Ascendancy of Hindutvavadi Nationalism

1,200 saalo ki ghulaami ki maansikta Hindustaniyon ko pareshaan karti rahi hai.
(Colonial subjugation over 1,200 years has plagued Indians.)

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first speech in the Lok Sabha, on 11 June 2014.

Clearly, Narendra Modi expressed the Hindutvavadi perspective of Indian history, wherein the "Muslim civilisation" period is depicted in terms of "despotic tyranny", this in sharp contrast to the earlier "Hindu civilisation", portrayed as 2,000 years of a "golden age". But, as far as we know, there was not even a murmur of protest or argument in Parliament. The long-drawn struggle between (receding) "secular" nationalism and (advancing) Hindutvavadi nationalism seems to have moved quite decisively in favour of the latter. How did this happen?

5.1 Militarisation of the Hindutvavadi Project

The involvement of ex-armed-forces officers and some in-service officers of the Indian armed forces in the political project of Hindutvavadi nationalism – quite a number of them – leads one to trace the historical roots of the phenomenon. What comes to mind is V D Savarkar – when he headed the Hindu Mahasabha during 1937-42 – urging Hindutvavadi nationalists to join the Army in order to help "militarise Hinduism" to take on the Muslims in the civil war he was anticipating in India after the British left.12 Based on historical archival work, Marzia Casolari has unveiled the existence of direct contacts between the representatives of Hindutvavadi organisations and those of fascist Italy in the 1930s. B S Moonje (1872-1948),13 who was among the foremost of the Hindutvavadi leaders from the early 1920s to the start of the second world war, saw the political reality of fascist Italy as a source of inspiration. The result was the attempt to militarise the Hindutvavadi nationalist movement "according to fascist patterns", Moonje’s scheme of the Central Hindu Military Society and foundation of its Bhonsla Military School being a concrete manifestation, as also, the evolution of the concept of internal enemy "along explicitly fascist lines" (Casolari 2000).

Contemporary involvement of Hindutvavadi militants in a series of terrorist acts – bomb blasts in Malegaon (in 2006 and 2008), on the Samjhauta Express (in 2007), at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid (2007), at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah (2007), and Modasa (2008) – including an ex-army major and a serving Lt-Colonel in one of these operations, and evidence of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) sanction at the highest level for these alleged crimes, seem to be a clear indication of progress on Savarkar’s project. The confessions of Swami Aseemanand – who headed the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram’s religious wing, the Shraddha Jagran Vibhag – in December 2010 to a magistrate, and in interviews (four of them, between January 2012 and January 2014, see Raghunath 2014), directly point to the fact that the terrorist acts were sanctioned by Mohan Bhagwat, the current chief of the RSS and the Sangh’s general secretary at the time.

Indeed, even "Operation Janmabhoomi" could not have been elaborately planned and meticulously executed without the involvement of retired military officers who trained a 38-member squad, a "Laxman Sena", to demolish the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, as a recent Cobrapost probe has revealed. This inquiry has in fact been indirectly given credence by Central Bureau of Investigation officials who have confirmed that "there is no new revelation in it" and that all the disclosures had already been included in the charge sheet that the agency has filed (Cobrapost 2014 and CBI response in The Times of India 2014).

5.2 ‘State-Temple-Corporate Complex’

Now, if Hindutvavadi nationalists of the Indian Armed Forces have furthered the militarisation of the Hindutvavadi nationalist project, the "captains of industry" have not been too far behind – they are on board. But, of course, their contribution is based upon profit calculus. At the last "Vibrant Gujarat" Summit, held in January 2013, this is what Mukesh Ambani, chief executive officer (CEO) of Reliance Industries and India’s richest billionaire proclaimed: "In Narendra Bhai (brother), we have a leader with a grand vision". His brother Anil, CEO of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani business group, went several notches ahead, hailing Modi as "king among kings"! And, he went on: "Narendra Bhai has the Arjuna-like clarity of vision and purpose". Ratan Tata, CEO of the Tata business group from 1991 to 2012, was all praise for Gujarat’s "investment climate", attributing it to Modi’s leadership: "Today when investors look for locations to make investments, they would be looking for locations which are investor-friendly. Gujarat stands out distinctly in the country and the credit for it goes to Modi."

Of course one might counter that this support for Modi may indeed be on pragmatic-business grounds alone rather than those of ideology. In the case of Ratan Tata, surely this is the case, but one needs to probe a bit deeper into what may be called the nationalistic Hindu religiosity14 of the bourgeoisie and the middle classes. Such religiosity accompanied by ostentatious rituals – yajñas, bhumi pujas before the start of construction of projects, etc – has made for a distinctly Hindu texture in the public sphere. Indeed, even the representatives of the then Left Front government participated in the bhoomi puja performed by Tata Motors in Singur.

Some of the same gurus and swamis who have participated in and blessed the Hindutvavadi politics of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) have had generous benefactors in Lakshmi Mittal (of ArcelorMittal) and Anil Agarwal (of Vedanta Resources). Corporate patronage and generous funding of Hindu religious institutions is too well known, but land gifted or sold for a song by the Indian state to these institutions is not, besides promotion of the Amarnath Yatra that is said to bring spirituality and patriotism together. Indeed, reflecting over all of this and more, Meera Nanda (2009b) discerns an emerging "State-Temple-Corporate Complex" that will wield decisive political and economic power. All this nationalistic Hindu religiosity has contributed to the hegemonic rise of Hindutvavadi nationalism, itself a part of the global resurgence of right-wing ideology since the 1980s, and sections of the Indian bourgeoisie have embraced it.

5.3 Power of Hindutva Ideology

What accounts for the power of Hindutva ideology at this point in time? It must be recalled that religious-communal hate politics since the 1890s was given an ideological content with the founding of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1914 and the RSS in 1925, and grew steadily in the wake of Partition (the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946, communal clashes all over north India and Bengal, the genocidal "cleansing" of the Punjab, both in Pakistan and India), and its aftermath (of Muslims in Hyderabad in 1948, of Hindus in East Pakistan in 1949 and 1950).15

The BJP has its roots in the political project of Hindutvavadi nationalism, which reformulated Hinduism as Hindutva (literally, "Hinduness"), a formulation that has proved singularly appropriate to political mobilisation. A Hindu is defined, in V D Savarkar’s Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu? (written in 1923) as "a person who regards the land of Bharatvarsha ... as his fatherland, as well as his Holy land – that is the cradle land of his religion", thus identifying pitrubhumi uniquely with punyabhumi, "(a)scribing sanctity to the land of one’s birth", and thereby providing the link with nationalist discourse, but ensuring that Muslims and Christians are excluded from being identified as Indian nationalists (Basu et al 1993: 8-9).

"Hindus" can thus claim to be the primary citizens of India because their religion and their ancestry are indigenous to Bharatvarsha. And, besides the unique identification of pitrubhumi with punyabhumi, a shared "Hindu Sanskriti" (culture based on Vedic foundations), a set of languages originating in Sanskrit, and the Dharmashastras (the Hindu law books laying down the social codes, including those related to caste and gender) are all appealed to, which together make for "cultural nationalism" and the imagined community of the "Hindus". This Hindutvavadi nationalism has been projected as synonymous with Indian nationalism, sidelining what was anti-colonial and "secular" in the latter.

There is just one more dimension that we need to flag in the above theorisation of Hindutva – that Hindutvavadi nationalism is identified with one particular version of Hinduism. This is how, we think, Romila Thapar would put it, but we are perplexed with her contention that "Hindutva is in many ways the anti-thesis of Hinduism". Of course, she says this from the secular perspective of opposition to the abuse of religion or the vile-political use of religion. As she puts it in her celebrated essay "Syndicated Hinduism":

The Hindu, it seems, is being overtaken by the Hindutvavadin, who is changing the essential nature of the religion. There is something to be said for attempting to comprehend with knowledge and sensitivity and not just the verbosity of glorification, the real religious expression of pre-modern Indian culture, before it is sniffed out.

She is here recalling the Shramanism (in relation to popular religious cults) that sprung up in the latter part of the first millennium BC, which "explored areas of belief and practice different from the Vedas and Dharmashastras" and "often preached a system of universal ethics that spanned castes and communities", in opposition to brahmanism. She is also referring to the Bhakti (devotion) cults from the seventh century AD, as also to "‘folk Hinduism’ – the religions of the dalits, tribals and other groups at the lower end of the social scale". All these progressive trends are being snuffed out with the hegemony of Syndicated Hinduism that "draws largely on brahmanical texts, the Vedas, the epics, the Gita and accepts some aspects of the Dharmashastras" (Thapar 2014: 115, 163, 143, 146 and 160) and this is the version of Hinduism that Hindutvavadi nationalism identifies with. One might then say that Hindutvavadi nationalism, identifying itself with Syndicated Hinduism, actively promotes it, through the auspices of the VHP, as a guide to political and social life in India today – political Hinduism, if one might like to call it by that name. In which case, how then is Hindutva "the anti-thesis of Hinduism" if the latter has largely become what Thapar calls "Syndicated Hinduism"?

The insidious spread of Syndicated Hinduism and Hindutvavadi nationalism in public life in India is not new. Even Jawaharlal Nehru, in his An Autobiography (also known as Toward Freedom, published in 1936) wrote: "Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak". Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946), who was president of the Congress Party in 1909, 1918, 1930 and 1932, espoused the ideology of Hindutva and was one of the initial leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha and its president in 1923. In the 1950s, Congressman K M Munshi (1887-1971) exploited the so-called collective memory of the "trauma" suffered by Hindus following the raid of Mahmud of Ghazni on the temple of Somnath and encouraged the turning of it into a political slogan.

Nehru would have been traumatised if he had even an inkling that, as events were to unfold after his death, it would be his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, of all persons, who would decide to remove the seals from the Babri Masjid in February 1986, and in 1989, allow shilanyas to take place over there. Indeed, Rajiv Gandhi launched his campaign for the 1989 elections from Faizabad, the town adjoining Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid was located, calling for the ushering in of Ram Rajya (the rule of god Ram), the expression, unlike when Mahatma Gandhi used it, now clearly invoking Hindutvavadi connotations. And so the destruction of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 came to be justified as avenging the Somnath temple raid of 1025 AD, this, after nearly a thousand years! In 1998 at its Panchmarhi Convention to chart out a political strategy, the Congress Party even went to the extent of endorsing "soft Hindutva" themes in order to steal a march on the BJP (Desai 2004a).

I think that Christophe Jaffrelot (2010) has a point when he argues that the hegemony of the ideology of Hindutvavadi nationalism must be seen in the extended process of socialisation of generations of Hindus, through the RSS’s web of shakhas (from Hedgewar’s time) and network of front organisations collectively known as the Sangh Parivar16 the creation and diffusion of which explains its hold in Indian society and politics. Indeed, the political fervour of Hindutvavadi nationalism seems to have moved women in a special way, with many making symbolic offerings of their mangalsutras to the cause of "God Ram". And, in the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat, the Hindutva nationalists managed to mobilise even dalits and shudra jatis17 and adivasis as foot soldiers of the fascist militia. Indeed, the BJP has not found the political difficulties of integrating the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – the shudra jatis – into the Hindutva fold insurmountable, for instance, in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (Desai 2004b),18 and also, more recently, in the 16th Lok Sabha elections, in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (Desai 2014), in the latter two, stealing a march over the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, respectively.

The roots of the rise of Hindutvavadi national chauvinism should be traced to India’s conservative modernisation from above, the development of underdeveloped capitalism that has failed to complete the tasks of the "bourgeois-democratic revolution".19 Clearly, such roots run deep, beyond the bounds of the Sangh Parivar. One has only to make a comparison of the Shiv Sena-led pogrom against Muslims in January 1993 in Bombay20 under a Congress government in Maharashtra with the one in Gujarat led by the RSS and its Sangh Parivar organisations, including the BJP, from 27 February to mid-May 200221 when a BJP government was in power.

In the aftermath of 9/11 and with Washington’s declaration of the global "war on terror", the Sangh Parivar was emboldened in Gujarat in 2002 to prove that it could be more sinister, more evil and wicked than the Congress and the Sena had been in Mumbai in January 1993. I cannot but remember the nine-month pregnant Kausar Bano’s killing at Naroda Patia in Gujarat in 2002; whatever the highly-paid lawyers defending the Hindutva brigade might have argued, the barbarity, the savage cruelty, nothing could have been more sinister than that. And, even though this brings forth, even today, feelings (in me) of deep anguish, torment and despair – there was the mostly, silently complicit majority Gujarati-Hindu population, Gujarat’s mitläufer,22 receptive to the Sangh Parivar’s "storm-troopers" committing mass murder.

Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat at the time, is now India’s prime minister, in power, no doubt, due to majority support from an expanded all-India Hindu mitläufer now claiming that it voted for the BJP because it saw in Modi the vikas purush par excellence. So far, the Indian courts, despite prima facie allegations of gross criminal misconduct against Narendra Modi and other powerful persons, for instance, in Zakia Jafri’s case, have been reluctant to initiate criminal court proceedings against the accused because of their high rank and the power that they wield. Now that Modi is in the prime minister’s chair, the chances that the principle of equality before the law will be upheld in this matter are minuscule. After all, even the initial charges against Modi are of gross criminal misconduct – promoting enmity between Hindus and Muslims, making statements that led to harm to Muslims, acting in a manner prejudicial to inter-religious harmony, engaging in acts that promoted national disintegration, and in unlawful activity with the intent of causing harm to Muslims.

5.4 Supreme Symbol of Authoritarian Leadership

That such a person is now the prime minister of India, besides being a further reflection of the rottenness of India’s liberal-political democracy, is also the fulfilment of the classic fascist dream – the Hindutvavadi nationalist movement has finally got its supreme symbol of authoritarian leadership and what is now being carefully polished is the RSS and Führer/Duce principle of ek-chalak anuvartitva (translated as obedience to one leader).23 In a sense, the Hindutvavadins are behaving as if they have achieved their own swaraj with Modi as their dictator. The figure of Modi representing strong authority and whose legitimacy derives from being the one who vanquished "the Other" perfectly matches the psychic desires of Hindutvavadins socialised in caste-Hindu families. Personality traits such as "puritanical rigidity, narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego defence of projection, denial and fear of ... [one’s] own passions combined with fantasies of violence", as also, conspiratorial painting of "every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a potential terrorist" (Nandy 2002), all these characteristics fit Modi very well for his role as a sarsanghchalak-type prime minister, since that which is paranoid and obsessive-compulsive in the individual, is in a semi-fascist regime, normal and politically desirable (from the perspective of its supporters) for the functioning of such a system of government. Public events around Modi are being carefully choreographed, his exaltation of youth, his masculinity, how he relates to the masses.

The financial markets have already made known the collective judgment of the moneybags on the additional expected profitability of their investments as a result of the ushering in of the new political regime. The first thing Modi did after it was clear that his party had won a majority was to emphasise strength through unity leading to national renewal. The "truths" that are being cultivated about him are those that appeal to the fantasy – above all, the hearts and only then the minds – of youth. The promotion of a lavish cult of personality is on; any policy decision, if its legitimacy is to be upheld, is claimed to have a certificate of approval from Modi. Following the success of the Hindutvavadi nationalist movement, then, isn’t the semi-fascist regime gradually taking shape?

6 What Then Will Indian Semi-Fascism Be?

Taking into consideration what we have come up with so far, Indian semi-fascism, in the process of its coming into being during a possible tenure of two five-year terms of a Modi-led government at the centre, and if it does actually emerge, will tend to have the following characteristics and policy imperatives:24

• A further degeneration of India’s rotten liberal-political democratic system following a strong dose of "authoritarian democracy"25 wherein a sarsanghchalak-type prime minister will seek and claim "spiritual" connection with the people;

• The affairs of the state will likely be run in a manner wherein major interest groups will address a vastly-strengthened Prime Minister’s Office (Groups of Ministers abolished), which will claim to resolve matters in the best interests of the "general will of the nation" in the manner of corporatism and the corporatist state;

• A greater infusion of money and wealth in the hijacking of the electoral process that will ultimately make economic policy totally business-driven with the economic ministries restructured along business lines (e g, the Ministry of Environment and Forests with respect to environmental clearances), framing policy mainly through interaction with those who represent business interests;

• More inroads of Hindutvavadi nationalist ideology influencing the affairs of the state, leading to

– constitutional reform that reinforces the executive branch of the state, further undermining the independence of the judiciary;

– degeneration of Parliament and the state legislatures;

– stronger bourgeois private property rights, including intellectual property rights;

– further dilution of secularism (e g, no guarantee of the rights of Muslims), freedom of speech, and right to peaceful assembly;

– escalation of internal wars, including the civil war against the Maoists.

• The use of state and vigilante terror (the latter, with parallel structures), as the ultimate weapons to maintain control over the "objective"/"necessary" enemy, using among other things, a "voluntary" espionage network to identify "possible criminals";

• Advancing the immediate objectives of the Hindutva nationalist movement, like the building of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya over the ruins of the Babri Masjid, the scrapping of Article 370, and the enactment of a "uniform civil code" aimed at removing Muslim Personal Law;

• Implementation of the RSS’s wish list in the fields of education and culture;

• The launching of some spectacular infrastructural and military projects;

• Exacerbation of relative immiserisation as a consequence of practising neo-liberalism with the gloves off;

• More Seva Bharati-type NGOs dispensing private charity with government, corporate and NRI support, in effect, humiliating the poor even as the donors earn brownie points for fulfilling their "corporate social responsibility";

• Extension of the low-wage arbitraging policy with changes in labour law and severe repression of independent trade unions, both to promote labour-intensive manufactured goods exports;

• A likely consolidation of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh in a bid to put in place an all-inclusive labour movement close to the BJP and the Modi-led government;

• Foreign policy informed by the notion of Akhand Bharat and Greater India;

• Furthering the objectives of Washington’s "Pivot to Asia" strategy against China to the extent that they correspond with New Delhi’s;

• A strengthening of the centrifugal tendencies in the nation because of the threat of, and/or actual resort to state violence to smother aspirations of sovereignty and force the oppressed nationality movements to accept forms of severely circumscribed autonomy.

Here then is our conception of Indian semi-fascism in the making. Indian semi-fascism in the making would, most likely, manifest itself in terms of an "authoritarian-democratic" regime and sub-imperialist power in a corporatist state, the regime maintaining a close nexus of politics-as-business with big business; nurturing and supporting the Hindutvavadi nationalist movement to the extent of being complicit in its acts; and insisting on controlling its "necessary" enemies through the use of terror, thereby exacerbating the centrifugal tendencies of the system.

And, from what we have understood so far, it will not be hard to identify an Indian semi-fascist when you encounter one – his/her ideology of Hindutvavadi nationalism, his/her upper-caste, "Aryan" superior manner vis-à-vis lower castes and dalits, his/her reactionary right-wing views, his/her support for the state’s sub-imperialist ventures and use of terror against its "necessary" enemies. How then may the Left resist the semi-fascism that is in the process of happening?

7 Anti-Semi-Fascism

The Left now obviously has a huge responsibility thrust upon its shoulders. With the massive electoral success of the BJP and Narendra Modi in firm control of the executive of the Indian state at the centre, both the parliamentary and the radical Lefts are up against the wall. What should they do to shift the balance of power in favour of the proletariat and the petty commodity producers? To restore its credibility, the Left has to launch a programme and a set of tactics that do not lose sight of the "actuality of the revolution". Surely, this demands audacity, and more.

7.1 CPI(M)’s ‘Popular Front’

The CPI(M) claims a Marxist-Leninist heritage, and so it might be useful to briefly comment on aspects of its anti-communal politics and anti-neo-liberal economics. The party’s intention to forge an anti-Congress, anti-BJP "Third Front" of the parliamentary Left with an assortment of "secular and democratic" regional parties after the 16th Lok Sabha elections lacked credibility. Nevertheless, in such alliances, the implicit model is that of the "Popular Front" (PF) and even its wider extension into a "National Front" (NF), that is, if I am allowed to indulge in loose, sweeping abstraction.

The PF was an electoral and political alliance originally advanced by Stalin and Georgi Dimitrov in the mid-1930s, the latter, then heading the Comintern. Communist and social democratic parties, having come together as the united forces of labour in a UF,26 were called upon to ally with the forces of "bourgeois democracy" against fascism, even support liberal capitalist governments, and as a further step, form an NF that would include all anti-fascist forces (even right-wing parties and governments). It meant that the communists were to mobilise their support base in the service of coalitions with liberal and right-wing (in the case of a NF) capitalist parties and the pro-capitalist governments that the latter headed or might head. But surprisingly, in the post-second world war period too, long after the defeat of fascism,27 and in the atmosphere of the cold war, some communist parties, by-and-large, continued to implement, more-or-less, an adapted set of PF tactics.

Such political tactics, based on an implicit PF with the Congress Party, were practised by the CPI during the period 1970-77, in the name of supporting a "progressive" national bourgeoisie against the forces of reaction in the course of the so-called "national democratic revolution". The CPI(M)’s tactical alliance with the Congress Party from 2004 to 2008 was essentially, in a loose sense, also of that category – this time, to keep the communal BJP at bay. The party’s more recent tactic of an alliance of the parliamentary Left parties forging a front with an assortment of some regional parties – political outfits dominated by the "provincial propertied classes"28 – can also be viewed as part of the same genre. Frankly, all such fronts have, more than keeping the "communal forces at bay", undermined the credibility of the CPI and the CPI(M) as "left forces".29 Indeed, in the 16th Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(M) and other parliamentary Left parties cut sorry figures.

Let us then come to the CPI(M)’s approach to the nationality questions in Kashmir and the North East. Its support of the Indian state in the latter’s violent suppression of the right to self-determination fought for by the nationality movements over there is dubious to say the least. In these matters, the CPI(M) is very much a part of the "bourgeois-landlord state" consensus on Indian nationalism, which includes the BJP (Chattopadhyay 1996). Like the "bourgeois-landlord" parties, it supports the Indian state’s machinations aimed at co-option, not caring to reach out to the people in these areas through direct involvement in their struggles. It is high time the Indian Left adopts Lenin’s approach to the question of the oppressed nationalities. Even as he supported the "nationalism of the oppressed", he did not envisage this support as an end in itself when he wrote in 1916 in "A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism" as part of "6 The Other Political Issues Raised and Distorted by P Kievsky" (Collected Works, Volume 23):

If we demand freedom of secession for the Mongolians, Persians, Egyptians and all other oppressed and unequal nations without exception, we do so not because we favour secession, but only because we stand for free, voluntary association and merging as distinct from forcible association. That is the only reason!

7.2 Radical-Left Resistance

What then of the Naxalite/Maoist approach to taking on Hindutvavadi nationalism? Recall BJP leader L K Advani’s September-October 1990 Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat, weaving its way through parts of Bihar where the Naxalite movement had a considerable mass base, to culminate, according to the BJP’s plan, in Ayodhya, the site of the Babri Masjid. It was this Rath Yatra that catalysed a chain of events leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. In an air-conditioned Toyota suitably decorated to look like the chariot of Arjun, a central character in the Mahabharata, wherever Advani went along the route, he contributed very significantly to deteriorating Hindu-Muslim relations, building the mass Hindu support needed to legitimise and justify the impending demolition of the mosque. But it was Lalu Prasad Yadav who stopped the Rath Yatra on 23 October 1990 at Samastipur in Bihar, and from then on, he could present himself as a "secular" leader. It is here that we might ask: Why did the Naxalite parties in Bihar, the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation), the Maoist Communist Centre, and the CPI(ML) (Party Unity), and their mass organisations, not take the lead in halting Advani’s Rath Yatra? Had they done so, this would have been one of the most significant early political acts by the radical Left against the march of semi-fascism in the making in India.30

Had the radical Left halted Advani’s Rath Yatra in October 1990 as it made its way into Bihar, this would have created an avenue for building mass support in the cities. Of course, such support would have come only if it had then followed this up by taking on the Sangh Parivar by allying with Muslim youth engaged in defending the victims of the pogrom in Bombay in January 1993 through the organisation of "focos", and later on, in Gujarat, from late February to mid-May 2002. Remember, the Chinese communists, with Mao at their helm, played an outstanding part in the defeat of Japanese fascism on Chinese soil, especially from 1937 to 1945. Of course, it is not too late for the radical Left, as a whole, to come together and "work out a far-reaching plan of action that would mobilise their followers and rally the people [against] the fanatical Hindu fundamentalist forces", as Sumanta Banerjee put it so well. Indeed, the CPI (Maoist), in a "Resolution against Hindu Fascism" passed at its Ninth Party Congress in 2007 promised the Indian people thus:

The CPI (Maoist) pledges to fight resolutely against each and every instance of the trampling on the democratic rights of the oppressed minorities and others by Hindu fascists. It pledges to do its best to defend the sections of the population targeted by the Hindu fascists. Our party is willing to unite in a broad front with all the genuine democratic forces which would be willing to fight back the Hindu Fascist offensive [all italics, our emphasis].

Sadly, the party is yet to fulfil this promise. What then may it have to do to meet such expectations? Alongside focos defending Muslim and Christian communities in the wake of attacks by the Hindutva forces, the radical Left will also have to implement the "mass line" in urban areas and thereby gain mass support there. It will have to organise anti-imperialist and anti-sub-imperialist struggles, and reach out to those who are most liable to be influenced by semi-fascist demagogy – the unemployed and underemployed, the petty commodity producers/traders, and the casual and regular wage workers.

7.3 Long Struggle for Hegemony

The other dimension is the lengthy "war of position" (the long struggle for hegemony), in Gramsci’s sense, involving the spread of democratic and socialist culture through, among other avenues, film, theatre, poetry, literature and painting (taken together, "art"). The Left will have to take from each nationality the democratic and socialist elements of its culture, in radical opposition to that nationality’s bourgeois and Hindutvavadi nationalist-cultural constituents. There’s a rich experience in Andhra Pradesh in this respect in the works of members of the Revolutionary Writers Association (Virasam) and the Jana Natya Mandali.

But beyond the sphere of "art", in the long struggle for hegemony, the radical Left must be much more visible in the intermediate sphere (between the economic base and the repressive apparatus of the state and parallel coercive politics), namely, the educational system, cultural institutions, the media, trade unions, etc – the institutions of civil society (the complex of the ideological structure) in Gramsci’s sense. It is these institutions that socialise youth, shape public opinion, indeed, structure the very thought processes of the exploited and oppressed to build consent for the authority of the prevailing underdeveloped capitalist order. The ruling classes not only use the repressive apparatus of the Indian state to suppress dissent, but manage to do this, most of the time, by establishing their ideological hegemony (maintaining one’s authority not through coercive force alone) over the exploited, the oppressed and the dominated.

The radical Left needs to counter the political, cultural and moral leadership of the organic intellectuals of the ruling classes over the masses by the ascendency of radical working class, peasant (rural schoolteachers, for instance), and middle-class (academics, doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc) intellectuals in all the institutions of the civil society. In particular, it has to find more creative ways of adapting Jotiba Phule’s agenda of uniting the shudras and the atishudras (the untouchables, dalits today), and even Christians and Muslims, as active members of its mass organisations. The Left has to find a way of overcoming what B R Ambedkar called the "graded inequality" of the caste system, which divides the dominated all along its social hierarchy.

7.4 Toward 21st Century United/Popular Fronts

Where are the weapons?

I have only those of my reason

– Pier Paolo Pasolini, from his poem "Victory" (1964)31

The UF against Hindutvavadi nationalism and Indian semi-fascism in the making would be an alliance of the radical and the parliamentary Lefts, with each constituent maintaining its specific political identity, and the gradual extension of it to south Asia, including Afghanistan, for Indian semi-fascism in the making is an expansionist/sub-imperialist force. The Left has to transcend its visceral sectarianism. The revolutionary struggle and the striving for democracy go together. In the latter, the part related to remedying India’s liberal-political democracy of its rottenness must be undertaken alongside the longer-term agenda of expropriation of the businesses of the monopoly capitalist stratum and the landlord class so as to make capitalism more compatible with democracy, creating thereby the groundwork for socialism. The New/People’s Democratic Revolution is not a bourgeois-democratic revolution. The Left must discard "stages theory"; its approach to the 21st century UF must be from the perspective of the New/People’s Democratic Revolution.

But what about the more immediate political programme? In today’s context, given the fact that money and wealth have virtually taken command of the bourgeois-landlord parties, and even those who claim they reject Hindutvavadi nationalism are part of the consensus on neo-liberalism and sub-imperialism, and more importantly, with Hindutva nationalist ideology so deeply embedded in the social and political fabric, the idea of a PF needs to be reformulated.

Basically it should include all secular-democratic persons/parties who also oppose neo-liberalism and Indian sub-imperialism alongside imperialism (the incubators of semi-fascism). The anti-neo-liberalist component of the programme needs to focus on reversing financialisation in all its various dimensions – the financial-market speculation of productive enterprises, banks and NBFCs as well as the forced financial-commerce of households in the wake of only a slow rise in their real incomes, and the withdrawal of the state from the provision of public housing, health, education, social security, etc. Middle-class households have literally been pushed into doing business with banks and NBFCs, including insurance companies, for all the above provisions, where the state has relinquished its responsibility.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front government’s failure in the provision of adequate healthcare through the public health system in West Bengal, like that of other governments elsewhere in the country, and becoming more and more responsive to capital in the private, including corporate-controlled, healthcare business, pushed even lower-middle-class households into doing business with private health insurers and private, including corporate, controlled hospitals. Couldn’t this Marxist-led government have learned from the example of the Cuban healthcare system – the latter reminds us of the one healthcare system that works in a poor country, providing healthcare to all its citizens. The CPI(M) leadership only needed to set an example in terms of serving the people, and there would have been many doctors, nurses and health support staff that would have refused to follow the money, putting healing before personal wealth, like their Cuban counterparts (Fitz 2012).32

The PF we are suggesting will have to present an alternative to the neo-liberal model33 at the national, state and local levels. Moreover, as Arjun Sengupta et al (2008) have pointed out, there is a close association between "poverty and vulnerability" and one’s "social identity" (as SCs/STs, Muslims, OBCs). The Sachar Committee too highlighted the social, economic and educational backward-status of Muslims in a comparative framework. The fact is that, historically, a large proportion of Muslims have been converts from the lower castes and dalits, and in independent India they also face discrimination on religious grounds. One must therefore keep in mind the class-caste conjunction – "difference" with respect to Muslims should not be seen as deriving from religious identity alone but also from structural inequality. Hope the "struggle of memory against forgetting" the truth never dies.

7.5 Pasolini and Shahid Azmi

Where then is the magazine and "where are the weapons?" Pier Paulo Pasolini, the unarmed partisan who fought with the weapons of poetry, cinema, literature and political prose, says: "I have only those of my reason". In an audacious and inspiring poem entitled "Victory", penned in 1964, the bard dreams on a gray morning that Italian partisans killed in the resistance against fascism return from their graves to see if those who survived made the world worth their martyrdom. But what they discover is betrayal, fascism still in the ranks of Christian Democracy, an Italy inimical to justice, trivialised by the power of consumerism.

... At the end of the

Piazzale Loreto

there are still, repainted, a few

gas pumps, red in the quiet

sunlight of the springtime that


with its destiny: It is time to make it

again a burial ground!34

Piazzale Loreto is the square in Milan where, after Mussolini was shot dead on 28 April 1945, his body was hung upside down from some kind of scaffolding. And, among the partisans who descended "from their graves, young men whose eyes" held "something other than love", was Pasolini’s martyred sibling, Guido, who had joined the Catholic partisans (not the Catholic Church which, by-and-large, connived with fascism) in the fight against fascism, and whom the poet saw off at the railway station, when, in 1944 at the age of 19, he left home to join the armed struggle against fascism, never to return.

Communists have never been the only partisans against fascism. When Pasolini made one of the most distinctive films ever on the life of Jesus, The Gospel According to Mathew in 1964, he said: "Someone who walks up to a couple of people and says, ‘Drop your nets and follow me’ is a total revolutionary". Telling the story of Jesus to the strains of sacred music from Bach (Mass in B Minor and St Mathew Passion), Odetta’s (she was "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement") spiritual ("Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"), and even a Congolese musical genre, and more generally, the "mystery of life and death, and of suffering...questions of great importance for human beings" didn’t meet the comrades’ expectations of Socialist Realism! Just as well that Pasolini dissociated himself from their political grip.

Hannah Arendt, who was no votary of identity politics, once said: "When one is attacked as a Jew one must defend oneself as a Jew." I am reminded of Shahid Azmi, the advocate who never turned his back on Muslim youth falsely implicated in criminal cases. He was our comrade in the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights in Mumbai. Having been through acute suffering at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system, he could empathise with the suffering of others like him. As my friend and comrade Monica Sakhrani put it, roughly something like this: "It would have been impossible for him to live with himself had he given up his work as their advocate", for which he was assassinated four years ago.

Some Muslims who feel the community has been defeated, humiliated and crushed by the forces of Hindutvavadi nationalism with the active complicity of the Indian state, and do not expect justice from the courts, do see terrorism as the only weapon that can strike back. From each crime of the Hindutvavadi nationalists and the complicit state RDX is delivered. Nevertheless, one has to embrace humane values even in the struggle against state and state-sponsored terror. Just as the latter is criminal, so also is the terrorism of the insurgent Islamic groups fighting it. The desperate followers of the leaders preaching vengeance are "as much victims as those who perish in the attacks of which we read and hear." But let us make no bones about it – state and state-sponsored terrorism is the more dangerous, for it masquerades as justice. The fight against terrorism, "the cycle of senseless violence", will make headway only as part of the larger struggle to do away with the injustice that gives rise to it. In these dark times, an Islamic liberation theology might also be the need of the hour. And, winning the political and legal battle to strip the state and state-sponsored terrorists of their impunity and bringing them to justice is an integral part of that fight (Tigar 2001), for which Shahid Azmi fought to the very end.

In his own way, Shahid Azmi had something in common with Pasolini – they were unarmed partisans who, nevertheless, fought against neo-fascism/semi-fascism in the making with other weapons, Pasolini with the weapons of poetry, cinema, literature and political journalism, Shahid Azmi with the weapons of jurisprudence and the law.

7.6 Partisans in Common

India’s liberal-political democracy is rotten and this makes the way easier for semi-fascism; all the more those who have been struggling to further the process of democratisation, for instance, some of the leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party, should be welcomed to bring their "weapons" to the magazine. A Subbarao Panigrahi, like the guerrilla-poet in Srikakulam, with his Jamukulakatha (theatrical rendering of songs in a folk idiom), brutally "encountered" by the police, will surely be there, but so too must a Gandhi, like the Mahatma with his pacifist resistance, risking his life in Kolkata, Noakhali, etc, in trying to prevent the anti-Muslim pogroms there, even ready to confront the Hindutvavadi mobs who were killing Muslims, assassinated by a Hindutva nationalist intolerant of his "assimilationist concept of Indian nationhood".

And all those who are committed to the habitability of the natural environment and the security of everyone in their sociocultural environments, implacably opposed to the monstrous class polarisation that has been a consequence of the accumulation process in the neo-liberal period, and the associated hijacking of the electoral process with the power of money and wealth. A 21st century UF must be one where non-party but generally left-wing persons feel at home in it. I am reminded of Samir Amin’s (2007: 160) idea of a Fifth International that draws its inspiration from the First International – whose 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year – the only International to recognise the plurality of the socialist tradition, and that’s the principle a 21st century UF should uphold.35 Its Popular counterpart will, of course, include all those who regard Indian semi-fascism as a priori intolerable.

The Supreme Court has re-criminalised homosexuality, upholding the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, adopted in 1860, and the RSS has now decreed that live-in relationships and homosexuality are inimical to Bharatiya sanskriti. So we might soon have to reassure the authorities that we are following "the ‘Love Laws’ that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much" (as Arundhati Roy put it in The God of Small Things). Confirm in opinion that we are going along with the Bharatiya sanskriti-approved sexual orientation! There might soon be a list of authors classified as "undesirable", like Hans Fallada was in 1935.

In his final work, Salò, a very disturbing allegory of fascist repression and intolerance, Pasolini tried to track the roots of fascism (and "neo-fascism") – the socio-economic and psychological conditions that gave rise to it. Above all, what made the self-proclaimed "Masters" representing the landed gentry, religion and the law (the swelling book of rituals and rules), finance capital and its politics – all "lawless and without religion", and above all, consumed by the lust for absolute power – unleash the horrors of Mussolini’s Repubblica di Salò. In the face of the Resistance though, the Republic of Salò didn’t last. But tragically,Salò goes on, forcing us to write this essay and reach for the magazine. Now that there is a dire need for the magazine, where is it? It must have all the "weapons" needed to win the fight against Indian semi-fascism in the making – prevail in the battle for democracy in India and south Asia.


1 This attempt to understand historical fascism draws on Sweezy (1942: Chapter 18, "Fascism"), Neumann (1942), Hobsbawm (1994: Chapters 4 and 5), Rosenberg (1934) and Banaji’s (2013a) introduction to Rosenberg’s essay.

2 Benito Mussolini realised the significance of the volunteer corps retaking Fiume, and after 1921, he ensured that fascism became a mass movement in the March on Rome organised by the National Fascist Party in October 1922.

3 See Bernie (2012). I use the designation financial aristocracy in a similar sense in which Marx did in his The Class Struggles in France, 1848–50, when he described the nexus of the "financial aristocracy" with the upper rungs of the polity during the July monarchy (July 1830 to February 1848).

4 In a separate, unpublished note, I have estimated the sizes of the three different components of India’s reserve army of labour with data drawn from the National Sample Survey Office’s Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, NSS 68th Round (July 2011-June 2012), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, January 2014. I am grateful to my colleague Abhishek Shaw for some useful suggestions related to the methodology.

5 For the Marxist theory we are drawing upon, see Sweezy (1987).

6 For a succinct summary of the Marxist theory we are applying, albeit, one that is more relevant to an economy where monopoly capital is in a commanding position, see Sweezy’s 1990 essay, "Monopoly Capital". The Indian economy, however, has a long way to go before it reaches "maturity" in the sense of tight oligopolistic market structures with excess capacity fulfilling mostly replacement demand, and with modern infrastructure (for example, urban infrastructural development, including the highway system) already in place, and therefore requiring very little large "Greenfield" investment. So, from the capitalist point of view, there isn’t as much of a chronic deficiency of effective demand like there is in the developed capitalist economies.

7 We must, however, reiterate the fact that the economy/society is an underdeveloped-capitalist one; by no stretch of imagination can it be characterised as monopoly-capitalist.

8 With financialisation, the process of capital accumulation is increasingly a matter of adding to the stock of financial assets.

9 A considerable "sales effort" is now evident at the upper ends of the markets for consumer durables, including cars, and fast-moving consumer non-durables – in packaging, non-functional product-attributes, throwaways, and built-in product obsolescence.

10 For a deeper conceptual understanding, see Baran (1957).

11 Hindutvavadins take great pride in the supposed cultural imperialist past of India, its large-scale acculturation, especially in south-east Asia, including religious and spiritual tutelage there. In a recent interview, Ashok Singhal, the main patron of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, articulates the idea of building a "cultural commonwealth" of south and south-east Asia (Hindustan Times, 17 July 2014).

12 Many of the early Italian fascists too were ex-armed-forces personnel.

13 Mentor of K B Hedgewar (1889-1940), the founding sarsanghachalak (supreme leader) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and for many years the president of the Hindu Mahasabha until he handed over charge to V D Savarkar in 1937.

14 Such religiosity, in its demonstration of power and wealth, exploits religious faith for political and pecuniary gains.

15 See a brilliant essay by Dilip Simeon entitled "The Law of Killing: A Brief History of Indian Fascism" in Banaji (ed.), pp 153–213.

16 The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (since 1948), the Jana Sangh (founded in 1951), Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (from 1952), the Saraswati Shishu Mandir network of schools (since 1952), the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (since 1955), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (since 1964), the Seva Bharati (from 1979 onwards), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (after the 1980 split of the Janata Party), the Bajrang Dal (from 1984 onwards), the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (1993 onwards), etc.

17 Asghar Ali Engineer’s remarks at http://www.csss-isla.com/arch%20243.htm

18 The way in which politics influences caste is as important as the manner in which caste influences politics.

19 Incidentally, Barrington Moore Jr (1967) argues that unlike in England, France and the United States, in Germany and Japan, capitalism came from an alliance of precapitalist landowners and the rising bourgeoisie, and this fact is crucial in explaining why the result in both was fascism.

20 For Bombay 1993, we draw on LHS and CPDR (1993).

21 For Gujarat 2002, we draw on Sonnenberg (2014).

22 As far as I know, Jairus Banaji (2013b: 218) has been the first scholar to suggest the use of this German term to designate the large section of society that has been passively complicit in the criminality of the regime and "morally indifferent to the fate of the regime’s victims."

23 After "a long and rambling interview" with Narendra Modi when the latter "was a nobody, a small-time RSS pracharak", the political psychologist and social theorist, Ashis Nandy (2002), a trained clinical psychologist, was left "in no doubt" that Modi was "a classic, clinical case of a fascist".

24 In trying to identify the characteristics and policy imperatives of an emerging Indian semi-fascism, we look back and gaze forward.

25 "Authoritarian democracy" in the semi-fascist regime is likely to be a diluted version of Giovanni Gentile’s – he was the mastermind of the "fascisization" of Italian culture – formulation of it (for Gentile’s political philosophy, see Turi 1998). In keeping with such a concoction, authoritarian democracy in India will be based on the premise that the Hindutvavadi nationalist movement has a broad popular consensus. To attain such like-mindedness "Hindu sanskriti" will be given a national form, this through the widespread diffusion of "Syndicated Hindu" religiosity, reshaping of school syllabi, and the recruitment of more teachers with RSS sympathies. Conformity and homogeneity will be sought to be achieved, followed by consent, with the people constantly urged to rally behind Modi. Intellectuals will be attracted and absorbed (co-opted), and then enlisted in the regime’s cultural, educational and research initiatives. They will not be asked to subscribe to the Sangh Parivar’s ideology but to embrace the values of the Indian nation state with which the semi-fascist regime will identify itself. Pluralism and diversity will be deemed dysfunctional; in these matters, the emphasis will be placed on coercion, not on consensus.

26 Tragically, early on in the struggle against reactionary right-wing nationalism metamorphosing into fascism in Germany, at the 1924 Fifth Congress of the Comintern, social democracy and fascism were viewed by the communists as "two sides of the single instrument of capitalist dictatorship"! And worse, at the 1928 Sixth Congress of the Comintern, social democracy was condemned as "social fascism", no doubt making it easier for the Nazis to ultimately come to power in 1933. I mention these disastrous episodes in the history of the communist movement because I am pained at the huge blunder of the CPI (Maoist) in its mechanical repetition of such abuse when it calls the CPI(M) "social fascist". Such sectarianism would nullify any attempt to put in place a UF against semi-fascism.

27 The exceptions were Spain and Portugal, where, with Washington’s support, the two dictatorships were deemed necessary till the mid-1970s. Francisco Franco and Antonio Salazar were "reinstated" by Washington in 1945.

28 This class characterisation of the regional parties draws on Radhika Desai (2004b: 199; 2014: 50), for which she credits the late civil rights activist K Balagopal (1987).

29 The CPI was so blinded by the dazzling light that was directed at Indira Gandhi’s "liberation" of Bangladesh, the signing of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, and so on, that it failed to even take account of the decimation of the Naxalite movement, the massive offensive against the working class and the poor peasantry, and even what the Indira Congress’s hired hoodlums did to CPI(M) cadres in West Bengal. The CPI(M), in the more recent period of collaboration with the Congress Party, even though it was taken for a ride by the Manmohan Singh-led government, it chose to act as a close collaborator of the "occupying" Joint Forces of the central and West Bengal governments in Jangalmahal in order to decimate the Maoist-led Lalgarh movement over there.

30 It was the radical journalist and political writer, Sumanta Banerjee (2003) who first raised this question.

31 The poem is translated by Norman MacAfee with Luciano Martinengo, and can be read at http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2005/ 10/a_hitherto_unpu.html

32 For Cuba’s healthcare system, see Don Fitz (2012).

33 For a broad, general outline of the neo-liberal model, see Arthur MacEwan (1992).

34 Excerpt from Pasolini’s poem, "Victory". See footnote 31.

35 Note that I have not explored the organisational implications of the political questions I have raised. The question as to what may be the best forms of organisation to move the anti-semi-fascist struggle forward is, nevertheless, exceedingly important.

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