Skip to main content

Weak govts, economic disaster and lack of people's vigilance give rise to fascist threat across the globe

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
There is clear indication that fascist forces, you may call them rightist forces, if you like, are growing world over. It is better to be forewarned than regret later.
One may recall that in Europe, which has given both liberal and fascist ideas, the ascendancy to power of fascist forces became possible due to three main reasons.
First, weak governments being in office; second, the economic disaster that followed the first world war; and third, lack of people’s vigilance who became unconcerned about who their rulers are or who comes to rule next; they wanted only respite from their daily agonies of survival.
In Italy, Benito Mussolini captured premiership by marching on Rome with his 30,000 black shirts in 1922. BY 1925, he had announced he would be leader for life, and no one challenged him or could challenge him.
Hitler followed suit in Germany. He had the additional advantage of having a well organised party – the NSDAP or the Nazi party, which using its muscles grew by leaps and bounds, from being a fringe party to winning a dominant share of parliamentary seats, and thus getting a “democratically” elected majority in German Parliament in 1932.
The second key event of 1932 was of course the US presidential elections. Two days after the German elections Franklin D. Roosevelt won the US presidential elections defeating incumbent president Herbert Hoover. Next year FDR took the US off the gold standard and introduced the catastrophic National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). USA was on a gold standard since 1879 but during the great depression of 1930s, people began hoarding gold. Roosevelt ordered a nationwide bank moratorium to prevent a run on banks.
This was supported by all Central bankers of Europe. The break-up of Austro-Hungarian currency union and the failure of gold standard soon created an economically untenable situation. No one bothered very much about fascist powers coming in.
Germany was in great need of debt relief but was ignored. The European central banks did not abandon the gold standard suo moto but were forced to do it. Yet the French central bank went on to hoard gold. The great depression severely affected central Europe besides USA. Unemployment rate in Germany, Austria and Poland rose to 20% while output fell by 40% and every European country increased tariffs or introduced import quotas.
USA had been helping Germany under Dawes Plan with loans but discontinued that in 1929. This affected Europe also. The Kreditanstalt Bank in Vienna collapsed leading to a financial panic in Europe. No part of Europe was left untouched by it.
By 1931 US economy was itself crippled by the great depression which started in 1929 and ended only in 1939. It started off with the stock market crash in October 1929 and affected the entire western world wiping out millions of investors. It was an unprecedented global economic crisis. By 1933, European trade had lost two-thirds of its value. The way out was another war as only a war industry could possibly generate demand and investment creating employment and providing a financial breather.
Something like the developments of the thirties seems to be happening in many parts of the world now. Though history really does not repeat itself, some similarities are discernible. A curious mix of so-called nationalism, patriotism and demagogy assuring better days from the current horrible days and to make the country “great” and free from crises is again becoming the motivation for the growth of fascistic forces.
Based on demagogy, these forces are making headway in several countries. In USA they have already won the Presidency though they did not get the popular mandate. For strange reason, probably self-interest above all, Russia that has migrated from socialism to “Putinism” is backing these forces.
In nine European countries, fascistic forces are growing positively making big headways in elections. These are Front National in France, Party of Freedom in Netherlands, True Finns in Finland, Northern League in Italy, Swiss People’s Party in Switzerland, Danish People’s Party in Denmark, Austrian Freedom Party and Austrian Alliance for Future in Austria, Progress Party in Norway and Swedish Democrats in Sweden. Some of these parties are already in ruling coalitions.
In Turkey, an attempted coup was recently put down brutally with massive reprisals that were popularly supported. In the Philippines, voters chose a president who was wellknown for his death squads and takes pride on personally pulling the trigger. These types of developments are continuing the world over. The Middle East is literally on fire. Syria is under bombardment. In Turkey, a few days ago, the Russian Ambassador has been killed by a police officer in a public function.
One of the diversionary tactics of the ruling circles in several countries are adopting recently is demonetisation in the name of fighting black money and making peoples’ life smoother and free from a parallel economy. The results were quite interesting depending on the vigilance of respective levels of popular feeling.
Venezuela went in for demonetisation recently but had to withdraw it faced with public anger. Before that Nigeria took this step and its economy collapsed. In 1982, Ghana ditched their 50 cedis note to tackle tax evasion and empty excess liquidity. This made the people of the country support the black market who started investing in physical assets that obviously made the economy weak.
From December 2016, Pakistan was to phase out its high denomination notes and bring in new designs. However, Pakistan issued the tender a year and a half back, and therefore, the citizens had time to exchange the old notes and get newly designed notes. But there is a problem now. Pakistani Senate wants the change but the government does not.
Zimbabwe used to have a one hundred trillion dollar notes! The Zimbabwean economy went for a toss when President Robert Mugabe issued edicts to ban inflation through issuing laughable value notes. After demonetisation, the value of a trillion dollar dropped to 0.5 dollar and these were also put up for sale on eBay.
The demonetisation in North Korea in 2010 where North Korean boss Kim-Jong ll introduced a reform by knocking off two zeros from the face value of the old currency to get rid of the black market left people with no food and shelter. Mikhail Gorbachev in USSR ordered withdrawal of large-rouble bills from circulation to take over the black market. That move didn’t go down well with the citizens and resulted in a coup attempt which overthrew him and ultimately led to the break-up of the Soviet Union and end of socialism in Europe.
In 1987, Myanmar’s military invalidated around 80% value of money to curb black market. The decision led to economic disruption which in turn gave rise to mass protests against the military rule resulting in the killing of many.
The dictators of all fascistic forces always project a democratic veneer. An American journalist, Dorothy Thompson, who thought Hitler was a man of “startling insignificance” in 1928 realised the mistake soon and corrected her views. In 1935 she declared: “No people ever recognized their dictator in advance”.
She went on to add: “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.” Has not Donald Trump come out exactly like that as also like Modi in our country?"
A very original way in which the Nazi party came to power in Germany, apart from using physical force by its Brown Shirt gang, was to locate the main grievances of people and utilise these to attribute all the ills and misery due to the existing regime.
This is what is also happening now. People, better watch out and be forewarned. The Economist has put it so succinctly: FOR a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke. If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then 2016 was the year of setbacks.
---
*Veteran journalist

Comments

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".