Skip to main content

Fascism: Prashant Bhushan identifies malady, but doesn't prescribe remedy; plays an isolationist game

Hitler with Mussolini
By Sadhan Mukherjee*
Supreme Court Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan’s write-up on Rising Fascism in India (click HERE to read) makes an interesting reading, but I beg to disagree with him on several counts. He hangs his write-up on a single peg of history which does not apply even to all European countries.
Timothy Snyder whom he quotes seems to have an oversimplified approach to history. While he talks of European democracies degenerating into fascism, Nazism and communism, he is trying to use history to suit his choice. Was Czar’s regime in Russia a democracy? What Lenin brought about was socialism, not communism. In fact, communism never reached its working stage anywhere in the world; it remained a utopia.
Fascism also did not originate in Germany but in Italy in 1919. It was adopted by Hitler who further embellished it. Also the basic plank for the growth of fascism was the economic downturn and the distress of common masses caused by the unjust terms of the Treaty of Versailles following World War I. 
“In the regime of hunger, the world is all prose; and even the full moon appears like a burnt chapatti”, wrote Bengali poet Sukanto Bhattacharya many years ago. That’s what happened in Italy and Germany. Popular discontent seeks a way out, be it left or right. In Italy and Germany, it was the rightist way; in Russia it was the left.
Snyder talks of European democracies yielding to totalitarianism. Is that a fully correct statement? Not all countries in Europe took to fascism then, nor is it going to now. If that were so, then there wouldn’t have been the rout of rightists in Netherlands, or Brexit. 
Or, now, European liberalism would not be fighting back rightist populism (or nationalism, call it so if you will). Already in France, the results of the first round of presidential elections have put the ultra right on the back foot and on May 7 they are likely to be crushed.
As in Germany, when social democrats and communists failed to unite to stop the onslaught of NSDAP (National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei or National Socialist German Workers’ Party), in France, socialist and communist parties have failed to combine, and now the French voters have rejected the traditional ruling groups of socialist and republicans. They do not want a status quo any more. 
The French voters are also not inspired by Trump’s wall around USA or to have a Frexit in France. They want an open Europe. We must also realise that Brexit was the counter-expression of unjust rules of European Union which had hit the British workers and peasants very hard which the rightists like Nigel Farage took full advantage of. After the French Presidential election, the election to the French National Assembly will take place and its results should reconfirm the liberal premises of Europe.
It is at the same time true, that rightist forces are growing in many countries, not in European countries alone. The basic reason for that are the maladministration of previous regimes and the deprivation of common people and their economic misery. 
Let us also not misunderstand the sweep of the BJP in India. The groundwork for its ascendency lies elsewhere. The left also has been decimated in the process of anger and disillusionment.
It is however true that what Prashant Bhushan calls ‘lumpen gundaism’ is growing in our country and he has cited a number of examples. That is also the teaching of history as we have seen in various manifestations the world over.
Do not forget the Brown Shirts of Hitler or the Black shirts of Mussolini. They were incidental to Hitler and Mussolini’s rise to power. Not that a similar thing cannot happen in our country. But then it will be a military dictatorship which appears to be still a wild conjecture.
I would also point out that education to the people is a very important, if not the most important, task in national reconstruction. Political entities hardly talks about it and if they do, it is mostly lip service. NSDAP could sway the unskilled the most; it is so everywhere. Demagogy yields best results among the illiterate and the low literate.
Now what is more germane is: Why is it that a former socialist country, the beacon of the Left, the socalled Soviet Union, has degenerated so much that its main part, Russia, backed Donald Trump in his election and is now reported to be doing so in favour of French ultra rightist Marine Le Pen? History already has a pretty brutal lesson to teach us?
Prashant Bhushan has marshalled his facts correctly like a good lawyer that he is. He is citing symptoms of the disease but does not come out with a clear-cut prescription for its remedy. He is also playing an isolationist game, unfortunately.
---
*Veteran journalist. This is a rejoinder to Prashant Bhushan's article (click HERE) in www.counterview.in

Comments

TRENDING

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

US publication blames Gates Foundation for 'accelerating' India's healthcare crisis

By Rajiv Shah A new book, published by the New York-based Monthly Press Review (MPR), has blamed Microsoft founder Bill Gates for “crowning” the crisis allegedly engulfing India’s health sector, stating, the top American billionaire’s foundation of late has acquired “extraordinary influence" over India’s public health governance,  giving a fillip to a policy that deprives access of public healthcare facilities for majority of the country’s population.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

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.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".