Cabbages and kings
Much like fascism in Germany, the rise of Narendra Modi’s BJP is driven by similar agendas of neo-liberal economic reform and communal polarisatio, writes Sitaram Yechury.columns Updated: Apr 16, 2013 04:04 IST
While the Gujarat chief minister is mounting a feverish pitch for being projected as India’s future prime minister, his Bihar counterpart, a vital NDA ally, has not minced words in expressing total disapproval. Thus the irreconcilable contradiction that plagues any coalition led by the BJP has come to the fore, i.e. if the coalition has to be strong enough to command the numbers of a majority, then the BJP would have to put its core communal agenda on the backburner.
On the other hand, unless the communal agenda is aggressively pursued as directed by the RSS, the BJP would not be able to either consolidate or expand its own political base.
This, notwithstanding the choice of using platforms of India Inc. and the servile response that the Gujarat CM is getting, is chillingly reminiscent of the rise of Hitler and fascism. The CM, like the Walrus in Alice in Wonderland, has begun to speak many things — “cabbages and kings … ”
He wants to create a ‘vibrant’ India a la the illusory ‘vibrant’ Gujarat. The 2002 communal genocide in Gujarat is sought to be replicated for the rest of India as the foundation to achieve such a ‘vibrancy’. This is the debt that the Gujarat’s chief minister claims to have repaid to his state and now wants to repay to India.
Strangely, he speaks of empowering Indian women while subscribing to an ideology of the RSS, which has institutionalised women as the exploited second-class citizens of our country. Ironically, Gujarat has human development indices that are much lower than the national average, particularly concerning the girl child.
The corporate world’s cries for profit maximisation reach a crescendo in periods of intense economic crisis. They seek a ‘strong’ leader who is ‘decisive’ to take actions that can facilitate their interests. Pre-eminent historian, Eric Hobsbawm, in Age of Extremes, says that the point about big business “is that it can come to terms with any regime that does not actually expropriate it and any regime that comes to terms with it… fascism has some major advantages for business over other regimes”.
He lists various advantages, amongst them being the elimination of labour unions, the weakening or defeat of the Left, which lead to an unduly favourable situation to emerge from the great depression of the 1930s.
With little signs of reversal of our domestic economic slowdown and with the global economy continuing to falter, the yearning of India Inc. for profit maximisation needs such a messiah. There is much historical evidence of how global big business, particularly US corporate giants, had played an important role in the rise of fascism.
In his book, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, Antony Sutton provides a documented account of the role played by major US corporations in funding the rise of Nazism. The Guardian in its obituary of American historian, Gerald Feldman (January 15, 2008) says, “Gerry wrote a sober, balanced but in many ways devastating official history of the Allianz Insurance Company whose Chief Executive Kurt Schmitt was for a time Hitler’s economics minister.”
Michael Dobbs writes in the Washington Post (November 30, 1998), in an article “Ford and GM Scrutinised for Alleged Nazi Collaboration”: “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration’, Hitler told a Detroit News reporter two years before becoming the German Chancellor in 1933, explaining why he kept a life-size portrait of the American automaker next to his desk.”
It, however, must be noted that the situation obtaining in our country today is not similar to the period leading to the emergence of fascism in Germany. However, there are striking similarities in the manner in which the most reactionary sections are seeking to assume control of State power by using fascistic methods.
Georgi Dimitrov, in his United Front provides a scientific analysis of the nature and emergence of fascism in Germany. He says, “Fascism acts in the interests of extreme imperialists but it presents itself to the masses in the guise of the champion of an ill-treated nation and appeals to outraged national sentiments.”
Further he says, “Fascism puts the people at the mercy at the most corrupt and venal elements but comes before them with the demand of an honest and incorruptible government. Speculating on the profound disillusionment of the masses, fascism adapts its demagogy to the peculiarities of each (situation)”.
Dimitrov could well be talking about the RSS/BJP’s current campaign. It openly advocates furthering the agenda of neo-liberal economic reforms and, in the bargain, get the approval of international finance capital. Notwithstanding its opposition to some reforms like FDI in retail trade (which it considered when it led the NDA government earlier) it is already advocating enlarging the areas for the entry of FDI. Thus it acts in the interests of international finance capital.
Its relentless campaigns on the core agenda of Hindutva continue to sharpen communal polarisation in the name of correcting “outraged national (read Hindu) sentiments”. A chilling convergence with fascist methodology.
History has its own ways of conveying messages through historical coincidences. It was on February 27, 1933, that the Reichstag (Germany’s seat of power) was set on fire. On February 27, 2002, Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express burst into flames at Godhra.
The former was used by Hitler to launch a vicious anti-Communist repression, abrogate democratic rights, suspend the Weimar Constitution and proceed to consolidate Nazi fascism. The fire was later established to have been the handiwork of the fascist forces themselves. Further, on January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. It is, indeed, an irony of history that on this very day, 15 years earlier, in 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as the Chancellor of Germany.
Sitaram Yechury is CPI(M) Politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP. The views expressed by the author are personal.