September 15, 2016
Prakash Karat Unable To Locate Fascism In Hindutva
September 14, 2016
by Shamsul Islam
Comrade Prakash Karat’s academic piece (‘know your enemy’, The Indian Express, September 6, 2016)[i] analyzing the character of Hindutva/RSS/BJP brand of politics/ideology suffers from confusion which greatly keeps parliamentary LEFT incapacitated at the national level against the rising tide of the Hindutva fascism. I am sure soon Hindutva public relation machinery will be circulating certificate from comrade Karat for disseminating the happy news that RSS is not a fascist organization.
Comrade in order to buttress his position quotes classical definition of the fascism as being ‘the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital’ and goes to argue that ‘India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present—in political, economic and class terms—for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule. No section of the ruling class is currently working for the overthrow of the bourgeois parliamentary system’. Despite having said this he is unable to decide whether the present regime ‘has the potential to impose an authoritarian state’ or follow the path of RSS ‘which has semi-fascist ideology’.
As an academician Karat must be familiar with the fact that history never repeats itself and two similar looking political happenings are not similar in nature. That was the reason that both the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Revolution though guided by the same ideology were immensely different in happening and outcome. The differences are well-documented in the voluminous ‘Great Debate’ with which karat must be familiar as CPM broke with CPI on many issues debated in this discourse. The Hindutva fascism may not be a photocopy of the European variety but has all ingredients specific to the latter.
Karat is not the only one in the LEFT fraternity who is confused about the character of the ideology as well as goals of the RSS/BJP brigade. They think Hindutva politics is a danger for a section of minorities and liberal intellectuals only and despite ‘a determined effort’ to reorder society and polity on Hindutva lines ‘they do not, by themselves, constitute the establishment of a fascist order’. This group feels that someday the Hindutva brigade will secularize/democratize itself.
The well-intentioned such secularists due to shallow understanding of the Hindutva phenomena feel that latter despite being antithetical to secular-liberal ethos does not represent a fascist challenge to democratic-secular India. They fail to understand that Hindutva’s Bharat Mata is not democratic-secular India but a Brahmanical Hindu polity modelled after Peshwa Raj where Sudras and Hindu women will have sub-human existence. Hindutva is nothing else but fascism in which Hindu nationalism represents superiority of Aryans over the rest.Fascism’s integral element Racism is camouflaged as Casteism, anti-Jewish politics is resurrected as anti-Muslim/Christian pogroms and the fascist wish to control the world is expressed in the call for rule over the world by Aryan Hindus.
Hindu nationalism & Aryan nationalism
Fascism was based on the superiority and pre-dominance of the Aryan Race. Hindutva ideologues like VD Savarkar (The Hindutva 1923) and MS Golwalkar (We Or Our Nationhood Defined 1939) both claimed that the white-skinned Hindu Aryans speaking Sanskrit once ruled the globe and are destined to rule the world in future. The Hindusthan was only for Hindu/Aryan nationalists. Hindutva ideology makes a sharp distinction even amongst Hindus so far as being Aryan or non-Aryan is concerned. The Hindutva hatred for non-Aryans is crystal clear. The most prominent Hindutva ideologue, MS Golwalkar went to the extent of glorifying a terribly anti Hindu women and Racist method of improving the ‘breed’ of Kerala Hindus who were considered as no-Aryans.
Golwalkar was invited to address the students and faculty of the School of Social Science of Gujarat University on December 17, 1960. In this address, while underlying his firm belief in the Race Theory, he touched upon the issue of cross-breeding of human beings in the Indian society in history. According to a report published in the English organ of the RSS (Organizer, January 2, 196) he said:
“Today experiments in cross-breeding are made only on animals. But the courage to make such experiments on human beings is not shown even by the so-called modern scientist of today. If some human cross-breeding is seen today it is the result not of scientific experiments but of carnal lust. Now let us see the experiments our ancestors made in this sphere. In an effort to better the human species through cross-breeding the Namboodri Brahamanas of the North were settled in Kerala and a rule was laid down that the eldest son of a Namboodri family could marry only the daughter of Vaishya, Kashtriya or Shudra communities of Kerala. Another still more courageous rule was that the first off-spring of a married woman of any class must be fathered by a Namboodri Brahman and then she could beget children by her husband. Today this experiment will be called adultery but it was not so, as it was limited to the first child.”
Thus for Hindutva gang Hindu nationalism and Aryan identity are one and same. Our current PM Modi, taking clue from here, when he was CM of Gujarat identified himself as ‘Hindu nationalist’ (Modi talking to Reuters on July 12, 2013). It was first time in the history of the Indian Republic that a constitutional functionary described himself as such. Leaders like Karat did not take any note of such a serious utterance of a CM who later became PM of India. Being Hindu nationalist means that one is not Indian nationalist and if Modi is Hindu nationalist then there are bound to be Muslim/Sikh/Christian/Buddhist nationalists.
Totalitarianism was part of fascism and the most prominent ideologue of RSS, Golwalkar long before Independence in 1940 declared, “RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land”.
Fascism rejected any concept of all-inclusive democratic state. RSS did not lag behind. The RSS organ Organizer on the very eve of Independence (14 August, 1947) rejected the whole concept of a composite nation and declared that in, “Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation, the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations”.
Casteism is Racism
If Hitler declared ‘all that is not Race in this world is trash’ so is the belief of Hindutva practitioners in Casteism. It is declared to be synonymous with Hinduism and Hindu nationalism. Golwalkar in a book published in 1966 declared that “Brahmin is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaishya the thighs and Shudra the feet. This means that the people who have this fourfold arrangement, i.e., the Hindu People, is [sic] our God. This supreme vision of Godhead is the very core of our concept of ‘nation’ and has permeated our thinking and given rise to various unique concepts of our cultural heritage.” [Italics as in the original] It is to be noted that Manusmriti in chapter 1 and verse 91 decrees that the only job for Sudras was to serve ‘meekly’ the other 3 castes. When Constituent Assembly passed Indian Constitution, RSS rejected it and demanded with Savarkar that instead Manusmriti should be promulgated as the constitution.
Comrade Karat fails to understand that Hindutva gang’s war-cry that Manusmriti should be promulgated as constitution of India presents a far worst scenario than what fascism did to Jews and Communists in Europe. It prescribes subhuman life to Sudras as well as Hindu women. I wish Karat had a glance over Manusmriti which was declared to be the most worshipable after Vedas by Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.
LAWS OF MANY CONCERNING SUDRAS
Once-born man (a Sudra), who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin. (VIII/270)
If he mentions the names and castes (jati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth. (VIII/271)
If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears. (VIII/272)
With whatever limb a man of a low caste does hurt to (a man of the three) highest (castes), even that limb shall be cut off; that is the teaching of Manu. (VIII/279)
He who raises his hand or a stick, shall have his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot, shall have his foot cut off. (VIII/280)
A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste, shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed. (VIII/281)
As per the Manu Code if Sudras are to be given most stringent punishments for even petty violations/actions, the same Code of Manu is very lenient towards Brahmins. Shloka 380 in Chapter VIII bestowing profound love on Brahmins decrees:
“Let him never slay a Brahmana, though he have committed all (possible) crimes; let him banish such an (offender), leaving all his property (to him) and (his body)
LAWS OF MANU CONCERNING WOMEN
Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control. (IX/2)
Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence. (IX/3)
Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling (they may appear); for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on two families. (IX/5)
Considering that the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands (must) strive to guard their wives. (IX/6)
No man can completely guard women by force; but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:
Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfilment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.
Both Believe in Violent Cleansing of Minorities
For fascism Jews were the enemy number ONE and Communists enemy number TWO to be killed or thrown out of the country. For Golwalkar, Hindusthan is only for the ‘Hindu Race’ and ‘Hindusthan’ must be cleansed of those who ‘are either traitors or enemies to the national cause, or to take charitable view, idiots’. The second supremo of the RSS, whose words are considered as holy, Muslims, Christians and Communists are ‘Internal Threats’ number 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
Golwalkar in his 1939 book, We Or Our Nationhood Defined (pages 47-48) settled the status of Muslims & Christians in the following words: “From this stand point, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations [Nazi Germany & Fascist Italy], the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights.”
Karat instead of downplaying the fascist potential of the Hindutva brigade should have been concerned that how such a brazenly inimical ideology has captured power through constitutional means. Now the Hindutva brigade is capable of undoing India both from within (brute majority in Lok Sabha) and its pro-active Hindutva zealots outside. It is a gravest challenge since Independence whatever nomenclature you may give it.
Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi.