Politics has to be fought with politics itself. The Right has to be fought by the Left, says Bishwadeep Mitra.
The chains of the old world broke long back.
You are too used to them like elephants of circuses,
Like the midnight pangs of hunger,
Like the absence of a lost friend.
Roar, thunder and love.
If you are hungry and ask for food, a capitalist won’t give you anything to eat. In all probability, he will tell you to sell your labour, physical or intellectual or both, and give you some promissory notes while keeping a cut for himself, by which you can buy food. Faceless corporations sell us ‘freedom’ in the form of say, eighty different brands to choose from, fusing it with forced patriotism and myopic nationalism. The nationalist counterpart of industry always requires a face to look forward to, the lighting beacon of history and civilisation, of ‘nation’ and progress, be it in the form of Modi or Trump or Erdogan or Assad. Take your pick. The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the rise of Donald Trump, demonetisation, the most intense curfews in Kashmir in the past 15 years, massive rise in fake encounters throughout the tribal heartlands, the Burkini ban in France, surge in anti-immigration policies across all Europe: all of it can be threaded in a single narrative – the surge of New Populist Right.
Let’s not be cryptic anymore and lay all the cards on the table. Why are things the way they are today? Have they been like this since we can recall and they have just accelerated enough to demand our attention? In around 1989, after the United States of America won its long jihad against Communism, the Government of India very well realised whom to side with in the new unipolar world. What Reagan and Thatcher started in their own distant lands of ‘freedom’ needed to be applied to the world over. The economic blueprint of neo-liberalism was waiting to be smeared in the third world as what is better known to its population as globalisation.
Understanding globalisation is central to understanding of the rise of the new Right or the populist right all over the world
Understanding globalisation is central to understanding of the rise of the new Right or the populist right all over the world. There are two sides of the coin, which are supposed to oppose each other, but they don’t. They complement each other but it is deliberately overlooked by all the present proponents of neo-liberal regime and it ultimately completes the fateful integration of globalisation and nationalism. Globalisation has led to the rapid and rabid shrinking of the economic and political powers of the state. Deregulation and privatisation of industries and lands and enormous proliferation of the capital has made nation-states mere puppets at the hands of the capitalists. The mantra of the neo-liberal economy is that fair competition in an open market will lead to better quality of commodities subsequently leading to the ‘development’ of the entire population. One global market in a perfectly globalised world! The question remains, how exactly does a global market cultivate the Populist Right? What is the math behind it?
Rise of the Right Wing: Formation of Exclusionary Identities
After the Congress abandoned economic nationalisation and embraced neoliberalism, the BJP lost no time in upholding the banner of cultural nationalism, the struggle for lost religious glory and laying claim to the Hindutva nationalist space. This is a textbook example of how globalisation leads to the formation of exclusionary identities. Exclusionary identities are based on superficial notions of race, religion, gender and all other sociological elements, which bear no scientific connection to a person’s geographical suitability. It is the formation of a false supremacist identity that is sustained by manufactured histories, distorting events and preaching half-truths. It is this exclusionary nationalism that has led to the surge of white nationalism in Europe and America, and to the rise of Islamic and Hindutva forces in South Asia. By preaching exclusionary nationalism they are garnering the security of their vote banks while their economic policies call for even more austerity, deregulation and privatisation: the same principle which is responsible for the way the world is today. Globalisation needs a false sense of oneness that facilitates the unimpeded regulation of austere economic policies.
The general population, lost in the swollen jargons of every regime, identifies with what seems to them is the most viable answer to hunger, unemployment and cultural security.
Therefore, it is not strange to claim that globalisation comes hand-in-hand with ethnic and religious adversities. And it is on this equation of religious/ethnic/racial turmoil the right wing thrives. It is a two-way process: Globalisation leads to the exponential surge of the right wing and vice versa. The people, divided, scattered and leaderless, come to fear and hate a manufactured enemy that varies according to histories and demographics of different countries. The general population, lost in the swollen jargons of every regime, identifies with what seems to them is the most viable answer to hunger, unemployment and cultural security. Due to the penetrating propaganda against the minorities via films, television and news media, the majority of that country comes to imagine and fear a monster whose reason of fury is unknown. The fear latches onto the cultural idiosyncrasies of the ‘adverse’ population, giving it a shape in the collective conscience of the majority population. Subversion of the collective rage and insecurity of the masses has helped capitalism build the ‘Free World’ of market hegemony and nuclear nationalism. This fight for identities and counter-identities takes away notice from the very structure of globalisation and what survives it: the proliferation of global capital.
Rise of the Right Wing: Proliferation of Global Capital
After Donald Trump got elected as the President of the USA and the so-called President of the entire free world, there has been too much distress and fear pouring all over social media, academic circles, political discussions among peers and so on. That Hillary Clinton is obviously the better and deserving option for the Oval office used to be the verdict of such discussions. For the last five years, elections throughout the world have witnessed a ‘choosing the lesser evil’ strategy. This self-defeating strategy does not call for smooth, transparent governance but calls for someone who is perceived to cause less harm than the other.
The death knell of Capitalism is sounded by itself as it takes away people’s jobs, wealth and security. The façade of manufactured fear is always vulnerable to people’s realisation that their ‘adverse’ neighbours face similar exploitation, if not more, and die the same death as themselves.
We are not paying taxes, electing presidents and prime ministers so that they can harm us. Both Trump and Clinton, Modi and Gandhi harp to the tune of corporate fascism, because the bottom line is clear to all of them: The death knell of Capitalism is sounded by itself as it takes away people’s jobs, wealth and security. The façade of manufactured fear is always vulnerable to people’s realisation that their ‘adverse’ neighbours face similar exploitation, if not more, and die the same death as themselves. The forest heartlands and hamlets and the systematic structural genocide of adivasis residing there speaks of the desperation to proliferate capital, which has no space to swell anymore. For profits to emerge and roll in the market people need to have the consuming ability which calls for jobs that will give the population money to consume. Intense deregulation, privatisation and automation of industries lays off workers for the sake of profit maximisation. Massive industrialisation in farm lands leads to its erosion and degradation to the levels of sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, the dead bodies of farmers pile up. India ranks one of the highest in farmer suicides and all they have got back in return are bullets and court orders of displacement. The anger and resentment of the masses gets channelised because of false propaganda which leads to the formation of malicious hard-line fundamentalist identities. The vicious cycle is complete. This psychological warfare needs to be reiterated by the capitalist class to survive keeping its structure of exploitation intact. Corporate fascism and the Populist Right always require each other to make the market roll. The bastion where they conflate comprises religious fundamentalism, market economy, hyper-nationalism and staunch individualism.
Rise of the Right Wing: Failure of the Left
This year witnessed protests all over the world against the dominant narrative of identity propagated by right wing parties. From Black Lives Matter to Dalit Asmita Yatra, from Argentinian women marching against gender violence and patriarchy to mass student protests against the student wings of ultra-right parties in Brazil, the resentment of the masses is coming out though various forms of protest. Yet, a very crucial element common to all these mass movements is lacking.
Class-consciousness is the root of all mass movements to thrive, and for that to be ingrained in the masses, there needs to be a strong left with meticulous organisational skills.
To draw an analogy, this year’s mass movements against the burgeoning Right resembled gigantic dragons without their heads. Absence of proper leadership, or better, absence of the Left which is supposed to be the vanguard of the society, made these potentially game changing movements too short-lived. Class-consciousness is the root of all mass movements to thrive, and for that to be ingrained in the masses, there needs to be a strong left with meticulous organisational skills. Movements pertaining to counter-identity and recognition/acknowledgement of the same by the ruling class, for instance, Dalit Asmita Yatra, remained within the domain of identity politics.
More women voted for Trump than they did for Clinton. This apathy and corruption of the Left also led to the UKIP successfully dismantling UK from the European Union via popular consensus.
The Left, the mainstream parliamentary counterpart, to be precise, has not done much to convert the politics of identity to the politics of class. Apathy of the Left has had far-reaching consequences throughout the world. Failed economic reforms, corruption, failure to address severe exploitation of workers and women have swayed the masses to the vicious ‘othering’ by the Right. The revolutionary left, on the other hand, working mostly underground, has not yet been able to reach the masses at large. Consequently, the white working class in America voted for Trump. More women voted for Trump than they did for Clinton. This apathy and corruption of the Left also led to the UKIP successfully dismantling UK from the European Union via popular consensus. In France, soft faces like Marine Le Pen of a hardcore Right wing French National Party have emerged to the point of victory in the upcoming elections playing the same ‘othering’ card. The Trump victory has led to the accretion of similar forces exponentially, as the shadow of the Right looms larger than ever in the political clouds of Europe.
Politics has to be fought with politics itself. The Right has to be fought by the Left. The conditions are ripe and the machinery is crumbling.
While the Left continues to bicker over political correctness and reluctance to take severe major steps, it has forgotten where its lifeblood comes from: The People. Failure of the Left has given rise to religious fundamentalist groups in the Middle East which grow in number with each passing day, troubling the already troubled waters of world politics. Today the only formidable force fighting directly against US Imperialism is Islam, a war that is bound to end in stalemate. You cannot fight politics with religion. Religion is outdated, politics updates itself, sharpening its knives every day. Politics has to be fought with politics itself. The Right has to be fought by the Left. The conditions are ripe and the machinery is crumbling. Yet today, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) apologises in front of news channels for calling out strikes against demonetisation. It is high time to realise, the Right has swollen, just like its economy, and will kill the farmer, the worker, the woman, the transgender, the Dalit, the Muslim, the Armenian, the African American… While the list shall go on, let’s ask ourselves an important question: What are we doing?
Time warps to take us to points where humanity failed. We don’t need museums to realise that. We have Syria. We have the screaming tweets from Aleppo. We have the glorious International Community to condemn the ‘crimes’ and ‘mourn’ the dead.
To conclude, I would like to add a sort note on museums. Museums are the remnants of old wars. Time warps to take us to points where humanity failed. We don’t need museums to realise that. We have Syria. We have the screaming tweets from Aleppo. We have the glorious International Community to condemn the ‘crimes’ and ‘mourn’ the dead. We have analysts from both the sides (if there are two sides at all) to twist the narratives, play their rhetoric and strip you out from your own. You have forgotten to sing of the dark times. You did not bid the last goodbye. You did not even know it was the last goodbye. Your scream for help makes museums redundant. For now, Syria is the microcosm of all the lies humanity ever told itself. And then there is Najeeb, the forgotten wounds of Kashmir, the dismembered memories of history and the forgotten people.
Image via www.prisoncensorship.info