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

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

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

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.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Online education 'driving' digital divide: $1.97 bn industry's paid users grow at 6x rate

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, in a new report in the series on Lockdown on Civil Liberties focusing on education has said that there is a huge “push-out” children due during the pandemic, with deepening digital-divide playing a major role.