Rising Tide of Far-Right Neofascsim at a Global Level Including India and Task Before People

Background

Emergence of the “new global far-right” or “ultra-right” or “radical right” integrating itself with neofascism is on the ascendance today. Though the term “far right” is used to refer to sections and parties or positions which are more or further towards the right of the mainstream political right or centre-right. Today far right is also synonymous with neofascism, i.e., fascism in the neoliberal context. This is a reactionary trend which is increasingly visible across all continents and is particularly striking in Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia including India. In the latter, the most populous country, RSS, world’s biggest and longest-running fascist organisation through its political tool BJP is controlling the State regime. As a manifestation of this far-right global trend, all inherent contradictions within countries as well as inter-imperialist contradictions are intensifying. The ongoing inter-imperialist war between Russia and US-NATO forces in which the neo-Nazi Zelensky regime is a proxy, and the US-led Zionist ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinians are examples. Of course, the covert and overt support that the Zionists are getting for inflicting what the UN calls a “humanitarian catastrophe” on the Palestinian people together with the despicable inability on the part of world community to appropriately intervene in it are all worst manifestations of neo-fascism today.

Across Europe including even the Scandinavian countries where remnants of welfare state, parliamentary democracy and social liberalism were prevailing until recently, neofascism is advancing with intensified vigour. The emergence of neofascist ‘Party for Freedom’ led by Geert Wilders as the single largest party in the recent Dutch Election is probably the revealing instance for this. Wilders and his Party for Freedom have called for a total “de-Islamisation” of Netherlands, banning of Koran, closing of mosques and Muslim schools. Coupled with this ‘Islamophobia’ together with the usual far-right, neoliberal economic agenda, Freedom Party has also put forward it’s racist, chauvinist and xenophobic proposals such as a total halt to asylum seekers and refugees together with a migrant push-back, based on Wilders’ own new coinage “asylum tsunami” that, he alleges, is gripping Europe now.

While Wilders is typical of the far-right, neofascist surge in Europe, this reactionary trend has been steadily gathering momentum there since the collapse of the welfare state and advent of neoliberalism in the 1980s, though it got added impetus by the turn of the 21st century. Today, the neofascist appeal is very strong throughout Europe, and far right neofascist parties originating from almost all EU members have their representation in the European Parliament. In Italy, for instance, Islamophobic Giorgia Meloni, Italian prime minister and leader of the far-right ‘Brothers of Italy’ is proud of tracing her ideological roots to Mussolini. In the same vein, Marine Le Pen of ‘National Rally’, the far right party in France, being runner-up in the last presidential election, occupies a prominent place in French politics, even influencing policy-decisions of the centre-right which is in power. In Germany, the neo-conservative and neofascist AfD (Alternative for Germany) with more than 70 seats in parliament has emerged as a dominant force. Following Brexit, ultra-nationalist trend is very strong in Britain, and the Islamophobic Sunak regime has added further momentum to it. Neofascist trends have deep roots in Sweden, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Greece and so on. Far-right parties in Sweden and Finland (Sweden Democrats and True Finns respectively) have grown to second position in their parliaments, and in Finland, the ‘True Finns’ is already part of the coalition government.

Resurgence of the “New Global Far-right” is widespread across the Americas where many countries had left-of centre parties in power during the first decade of the 21st century. Its latest manifestation is the victory of Javier Milei as president of Argentina (widely known as the ‘madman’ of Argentina). In his election campaign, he has promised a resurrection of the economy through what is called “anarcho-capitalism” (implying unfettered and uncontrolled freedom to corporate capital) by deploying the “shock doctrine” comprising privatisation of all state-owned firms, scrapping of Central Bank and replacing Peso with Dollar (dollarization of Argentina) and above all, a tirade against left leaders especially against Lula of Brazil on the one hand, and a high adoration of neofascist Trump and Bolsonaro, on the other. During the past half-a-decade, as in the case of Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay have shifted to the far-right, while neofascist movements are very strong in Chile and Columbia and other Latin American countries. And, in view of the growing discontent against Biden administration, according to political analysts, in spite of Colorado court barring neofascist Tump from primary election in State, the chance of his coming back to power in the 2024 election cannot be ruled out, and if so, it can give a further boost to far right neofascism not only in the Americas, but at a global level too. According to the regional, historical and social specificities of countries, far-right trends are on the offensive in Asia, especially in India, where RSS neofascism is in full swing (which will be taken-up in the ensuing discussion).

Meanwhile, a convergence between the far-right parties and parties of centre-right which are in power, especially in Europe, against the Left is also a striking trend. Even where the far-right parties are not in power, they play a major role in influencing/shaping state policy decisions, which enable them to gather acceptance among sections of the middle class, and thus advance their agenda further, and n some countries, far right parties are playing the role of “kingmakers”. Reminiscent of the fascist days of the 1930s, even disenchanted academics and intelligentsia, and even judiciary have become addicted to neofascist thinking. Linked with this, the anti-communist, far right corporate think-tanks have become proponents of altogether rejecting the erstwhile Anti-Fascist United Front against Mussolini and Hitler, in which even “non-fascist” imperialist powers of that time were also involved. The advent of the so called “new history writing”, also known as “historical falsification” or “historical negationism” in Europe is to be situated in the context of this neofascist ideological offensive. Linked with this and, as a variant of anti-Communist propaganda, there is a growing trend of equalising Communism with Nazism, and as its manifestation, the neo-fascists in European parliament recently have moved a Resolution equating communism with “fascism” with the obvious aim of whitewashing the latter. This is not a European trend alone, for, under the Modi regime, a similar ‘new history-writing’ that obliterates the line of demarcation between myth and history, and a process of “saffronisation” of history that is in conformity with the fascist agenda of RSS is going on India too.

Roots of Neofascism

The immediate cause of this far-right political surge is attributed to the mounting economic crisis coupled with social and political disruption after the collapse of the welfare state, and more particularly since the 2008 world economic crisis. The middle class and large sections of the lower classes including unorganised working class are attracted to anarchic and xenophobic propaganda and populist slogans targeted against foreigners, immigrants, asylum seekers, racial and religious minorities depicting them the cause for all the misfortunes. Right-wing and neoliberal media backed by corporate-sponsorship play a major role in this far-right task which is effectively utilised by neofascist parties. For instance, the latest ‘Pact on Migration and Asylum’ aimed at the creation of “border detention centres” and accelerated deportation of asylum seekers on the part of European Commission is a concrete manifestation of the growing far-right, neofascist offensive in Europe. Mounting joblessness, loss of housing, increased cost of living and lack of social security together with migrant and refugee crises exacerbated by domestic and global political-economic turbulence amidst growing mistrust of the mainstream parties provide the fertile ground for the ascendancy of the far-right. Anti-Communism (targeted against not only the Left but even against the liberals and ecologists), Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, and chauvinism often provide the ideological bases for this neo-conservative offensive.

At the same time, the roots of neofascism (fascism in the neoliberal period) lay deep in imperialist-fascist history itself. During and after World War II, thousands of European fascist intellectuals and activists, especially those from German Nazi Party had migrated to other European countries and Americas with the tacit understanding of the ruling regimes there. While the persecuted Jews were denied asylum by many imperialist powers of the time, there were no such restrictions to the entry of fascists. Latin America, especially Brazil and Argentina were safe havens for many infamous Nazi war criminals. A typical case was that of Joseph Mengele, a Nazi physician who earned his nickname “Angel of Death” due to his deadly experiments on prisoners. For almost two decades, even after the defeat of Hitler, he was reported to have travelled many countries across Latin America spreading fascist ideology. Like him, many Nazi descendants and groups were safely lived elsewhere including Europe. They were operating through such cover organisations as European Social Movement, World Union of National Socialists, League for Pan-Nordic Friendship, etc. even amidst mainstream repudiation of fascism during the immediate postwar yesrs.

Meanwhile, as an inalienable component of Cold War, US the supreme arbiter of postwar neo-colonial world order, went on installing ‘fascist regimes’ through military coups in various countries from Latin America to Asia. US imperialism also went on creating and planting anti-communist, reactionary, fascist and terrorist factions and trained cadres in “civilian deep cover” within seemingly independent regimes in many parts of the globe as effective tools against Communism and to deal with emerging anti-imperialist revolutionary movements in neocolonially dependent countries. Thus, during the decades that followed, the US succeeded in installing fascist regimes in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Philippines in continuation of McCarthyism that flourished within US in the immediate postwar years characterised by heightened anti-communism and political repression. However, these fascist trends whose roots lay deep in the specific character of corporate accumulation had not been the principal global trend during the quarter century that followed Second World War when the capitalist-imperialist system experienced what is called a “Golden Age” under Welfare State, amidst the strong presence of both international communist movement and national liberation movements. In spite of that, as already mentioned, it was under the cover of Welfare State that US imperialism installed fascist-military regimes across many countries for facilitating its neo-colonial plunder.

However, by the turn of the 1970s, the post-war imperialist ‘boom’ came to a close and on account of the irresolvable contradictions inherent in capitalist-imperialist system, persistent “Stagflation” emerged as a relatively new, more prolonged and more complex phenomenon compared to the “Depression” and imperialist crisis of the late 1920s and 1930s that gave rise to fascism. However, unlike the situation then, by the 1970s, the ideological-political setbacks of the International Left became so glaring that provided the political context for imperialism to abandon ‘welfare state’ altogether and adopt a change in the accumulation process through “neoliberalism”. In essence, neoliberalism has been the move on the part of US-led imperialism to reverse of the downturn in profit rate by developing new avenues of unfettered plunder of labour and nature together with horrific levels of speculation through a ballooning of the financial sphere utilizing the advancement in information, communication and digital technologies from the late 1960s onward.

With the collapse of Soviet bloc, US-led imperialism initiated its post-Cold War order with the backing of a whole set of postmodern prognoses such as “end of ideology”, “end of history” and so on. Meanwhile, US administration so cunningly and assiduously brought up the so called “Islamic terror” (Islamophobia) as its new enemy and a critical counterweight in its militarisation strategy leading to a more favourable condition for a global bouncing back of fascism with intensified vigour. However, instead of open military coups, the required groundwork had already been underway by neoliberal centres and deep-seated reactionary forces that made it possible for fascist parties with their far-right socio-economic and political agenda to ascend to power through ballots even while maintaining parliament as an edifice. At the same time, today’s neo-fascism is more complex and multifaceted and is not mere a text-copy or stereotyped version of erstwhile classical fascism of the 1930s.

Far Right Neofascism Under Neoliberalism

Obviously, fascism under neoliberalism, i.e., neofascism propped up by the most reactionary, far-right sections of corporate capital, unlike the case of ‘classical fascism’ which was confined to Europe during the colonial period, has become transnational (cutting across both imperialist and neocolonially dependent Asian- African-Latin American countries) in tune with globalisation or internationalisation of capital and worldwide super-exploitation of the working class through what is called a new international division of labour and intensified oppression on world people. Taking advantage of the ideological-political setbacks of the Left, the tyranny of corporate-finance capital that started with Thatcherism and Reaganomics immediately after the abandonment of Keynesian Welfare State is now brought to its farthest limits at a global level. The ideological basis of this corporate-neofascist offensive was provided by postmodernism and post-Marxism through such prognoses as ‘identity politics’, and ‘multiculturalism’ (that emphasises difference rather than commonality) that negated the relevance of struggles and resistances by both working class and the oppressed peoples against the neoliberalism. The Left also failed to unravel the depoliticizing mission underlying this reactionary offensive in the proper perspective. This brought forward various religious fundamentalist, revivalist, chauvinistic, xenophobic, racist and autarkic ideologies to the centre-stage of history to take advantage of the mass psychology of social and economic insecurity among people arising from corporate plunder and diverting world people’s attention away from corporate-fascist regimes.

As already noted, this neofascist global trend is strengthened by both anti-Communism and anti-Islam. And a striking feature of all the far-right neo-fascist parties and forces has been their apparent use of anti-establishmentarian and populist postures to come to power by hoodwinking the masses, and once in power, they have no qualm to betray the people who voted them to power, and despicably serve the interests of most corrupt and reactionary corporate sections. Further, according to the specific historical and concrete social conditions of countries and regions, neofascists could be seen conspicuously pursuing an exclusivist line or ideology allying with the majoritarian or ‘homogeneous’ part of the population effectively pitting against the ‘heterogeneous’ or minority sections generally composed of religious, ethnic/racial and linguistic, migrant, refugee, Dalit, tribal or other marginalized and oppressed sections. Christian Evangelism in the Americas, Xenophobia and Ethno-Nationalism in Europe, Zionism in Israel, Political Islam in West Asia, Hindutva or Political Hinduism in India, and even Buddhism in Myanmar and Sri Lanka are concrete examples of how far right neofascism flourishes basing on different ideologies according to the concrete social situation of countries.

RSS Neofascism in India

In India, the advent of far-right neofascism led by RSS, world’s biggest and longest-running fascist organisation needs to be analysed in the broader global context briefly analysed above. Right from its inception in mid-1920s under British colonialism, as per records, fanatical adulation or admiration of both Hitler and Mussolini was endemic to RSS leadership from the very beginning. With extreme servility to British imperialism, and genocidal hatred towards Islam and with its ideological roots in Manuvadi caste system which treats vast majority of India’s working class and women as subhuman, Hindutva or political Hinduism espoused by RSS totally distanced itself from the independence movement, and hence remained outside the Indian political mainstream for a long period. However, the global imperialist crisis leading to the collapse of Welfare State and advent of neoliberalism in the 1970s had its repercussions in India during Indira Gandhi’s regime, and it provided an opportune moment for RSS’ sudden shoot-up to political lime-light from relative obscurity, since fascists of all hues are adept to transform crises into opportunities. For, to overcome the surge in Indian people’s resistance and consequent political-economic instability in the context of the worldwide crisis of the 1970s, when Indira declared Emergency with a view to cling on to power, effectively taking advantage of the ideological-political failures of the Indian Left, the far-right, pro-American RSS came to the fore as champion of the anti-Emergency campaign. Thus after entering into mainstream politics, and effectively utilising the post-Emergency political scenario, RSS floated its new political tool BJP that became world’s biggest political party within a relatively short span of time. And taking advantage of the facilitating role of the Soft-Hindutva Congress, and leading the ‘Sangh Parivar’ composed of innumerable open, secret and militant organisations, and with its far right or ultra-right economic philosophy and unwavering allegiance to US imperialism, RSS has grown into the biggest fascist organisation in the world with a number of overseas extensions and affiliates.

Traversing a series of Hindutva milestones beginning with Ram Janmabhoomi movement leading to demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, first BJP government led by Vajpayee during 1999-2004, Gujarat Pogrom in 2002, and innumerable riots targeted against minorities culminating in the decade-long continuous rule of Modi regime since 2014, corporate-saffron fascism in India is moving towards its farthest limits. Along with RSS controlling entire micro and macro spheres of Indian society and spreading its fascist tentacles to India’s social, political and cultural landscape, by this time, while Parliament has become a mere edifice devoid of its tasks, all the constitutional, administrative (including both civil and military administration) and institutional structures of India are in the process of being transformed in conformity with the requirements of an intolerant, majoritarian and theocratic Hindurashtra. This fascistisation process is facilitated by abrogation of Article 370 for J&K’s break-down and forcible integration into ‘unitary’ India, construction of Ram Temple at the very site of Babri Masjid, superimposition of Uniform Civil Code, Citizenship Amendment Act, and so on, the essence of which are anti-Islam or Islamophobia, firmly in consonance with the global neofascist trend today. Along with such moves as imposition of the upper caste oriented economic reservation (EWS) undermining the very character of Indian Constitution, as part of its majoritarian agenda, RSS neofascism is also engaged in a pan-Indian homogenizing drive of “deconstruction” or subjugation of the oppressed caste organisations aimed at integrating them into Hindutva-fold, rejection of all values of modernity such as rational-scientific thinking, fostering the cult of tradition and obscurantism, treating dissent and disagreement as treason, worship of heroism and elitism, and above all anti-Communism as part of the neofascist offensive.

No doubt, in the whole course of this transformation that made RSS capable to wield state power through its political tool BJP, the Soft-Hindutva Congress has been faithfully playing second fiddle to RSS. As everybody knows, after her return to power in 1980, Indira Gandhi totally reversed her earlier anti-RSS posture, and after her assassination, Rajiv Gandhi who ascended to power provided facilities to Hindutva forces for performing shilanyas at the very disputed site where Babri Masjid was located. In the series of highly venomous and violent saffron offensives and communal riots that steadily strengthened since 1984 such as the ‘Liberation of Ayodhya’ campaign by Dharam Sansad, formation of Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini as aggressive Hindutva militant organisations respectively for young men and women, etc., the Congress while remaining a mute spectator, also tried to cash in on Hindutva sentiments for electoral gains. Revealingly, the Rao government that demolished the Nehruvian model and embraced full-fledged neoliberalism in the early 1990s also extended security cover for the demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindutva goons in 1992. In the same vein, the Zionist regime could open its embassy in India with full diplomatic relations under the same government. What happened during the quarter century since then is already in the public domain. While the Soft-Hindutva pursued by the Congress devastated it, the RSS/BJP with its Hard-Hindutva became the ultimate victor.

Even today, instead of studying lessons from the past four decades, in spite of its anti-BJP rhetoric, the Congress’ ideological bankruptcy in failing to understand that there is no line of demarcation between its Soft-Hindutva and BJP’s Hard-Hindutva, is still continuing. Take, for instance, the case of Caste Census, which is a powerful weapon against RSS/BJP, since, if properly pursued, it can effectively undermine the ongoing saffronisation offensive of integrating lower castes into the Hindutva-fold or Hindutva umbrella. Even though there are strong demand for a nation-wide Caste Census among the oppressed lower castes which could be used as a counter-offensive against the RSS’ ingenious ‘deconstruction’ of lower caste organisations and forcible integration of oppressed castes in to the Hindutva bandwagon and dividing anti-Brahmanical vote banks, the Congress leadership in the India Alliance did nothing in the direction of obstructing this Hindutva agenda by strongly putting forward the issue of Caste Census in the recent Assembly elections. Its outcome was a total defeat of Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan resulting in further consolidation of Hindutva votes. Meanwhile, BJP’s victory in the “semi-final” has its repercussions including the mass-suspension of the entire opposition MPs from parliament which has been reduced as a mere spectator, while policy decisions are taken in corporate-saffron board-rooms. No doubt, along with the sustained struggle against far-right neoliberal-corporatization, the ideological-political struggle against RSS fascism in India is difficult without building-up resistance against the Manuvadi Brahmanical caste system.

Task Before the People

While RSS neofascism in India is in a madding pace towards its ultimate aim of transforming India into a theocratic Hindurashtra, the opposition parties that belong to the India Alliance are in general agreement on removing BJP from power, even as strong disagreement is there among them regarding division of seats and power-sharing. However, these parties, especially the Congress, are devoid of any fundamental difference with BJP regarding neoliberal-corporatisation, the material basis of fascism or on caste-based Hindutva, which is the ideological basis of Indian neofascism. For, ranging from the Congress and regional parties to CPI (M), all are implementing the same neoliberal economic policies that undermine the sustenance and existence of the working and oppressed peoples. At the same time, as proved in the latest Assembly elections, India Alliance is disoriented, divided and even bankrupt in raising any concerted move against the ideology of RSS neofascism, as is proved from its approach to Caste Census on the part of many parties including Congress and depoliticized CPI(M). In spite of these, if the ‘non-fascist’ opposition parties as represented in the India Alliance, setting aside their preoccupation with power, come to an understanding on seat-sharing in the General Election and thus become capable to consolidate the anti-RSS/BJP votes, the possibility to oust Modi regime from power is still there.

In this context, we need to have a clear-cut understanding on the immediate task of the democratic and progressive forces including that of the genuine Left who are always duty-bound to uphold the interests of the working and oppressed people. Since the India Alliance lacks an orientation from the perspectives of the working class and oppressed castes, it is not proper on the part of genuine left-democratic forces to have any ‘political alliance’ with this section; since it will be a hurdle for asserting their independent position of always identifying with all the working and oppressed peoples including the Dalits, minorities and women. However, based on an understanding of the immediate and indispensable task of ousting the Modi regime from power in 2024, it is indispensable on the part of all anti-fascist democratic and progressive forces and parties to tactically use all possible means in the election process so as to consolidate and avoid a division of the anti-fascist votes.

Further, it is also high time on the part of the antifascist, anti-caste, secular, democratic, Left and Movements of the Oppressed Peoples who oppose, though from varying perspectives, both neoliberal-corporatization and Manuvadi-Hindutva to come together based on a common agenda. This initiative shall encompass the needs of the working and toiling people, especially those in the unorganized and informal sectors comprising more than 95 percent of the Indian workers, that of the peasantry, oppressed Dalits, Adivasis, Minorities, especially Muslims, women, and those who are displaced and devastated through corporate plunder of nature. The struggles and campaigns based on people’s issues should be carried forward with the conscious effort to develop a political alternative against neoliberalism and neofascism in all their manifestations. In ‘multi-national’, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and caste-ridden India where RSS, world’s biggest fascist organisation is controlling state power, this task is long-term and complex which requires multi-faceted initiatives according to the concrete situation in various states and regions of the country, leading to the emergence of an all India coordination too.

And, even if Modi regime is thrown away from power in the coming General Election, since the RSS with its tentacles in India’s entire political, social and cultural fabric, being backed by immense corporate power and capable of using even other parties as its political tool, continues without any let-up, the threat of fascist come-back to state power cannot be ruled out. This danger can be resisted and thwarted only if the genuine anti-fascist forces upholding the long-term and strategic interests of the working class and all oppressed advance further and become capable to win over more and more sections and forces to the side of people, effectively utilizing the contradictions even within the non-fascist ruling sections, and isolating the reactionary sections who opportunistically ally with corporate-saffron fascism. Since the struggle against Indian neofascism is a prolonged one, the need is to develop a broad anti-fascist front led by progressive-democratic forces capable to appropriately link the immediate and short-term task of removing the present fascist regime from power and the long-term task of abolishing neoliberal-corproatisation that forms the material basis of neofascism today, and which imposes the heaviest burdens upon the people.

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