Congrats folks! You are witnessing history in the making. One that I and many of us like me never dreamt of seeing. Remember seeing that Discovery channel’s documentary on World War II and asking yourself “how on earth did this madness happen?” I am sure the most haunting question in your mind would have been “how did average Germans with high familial values went behind this mad man?” “What made them hate and despise fellow humans?” I am sure you never found a plausible answer. Watch closely. Observe the change that has happened in the last 6 years in you and the people around you.
You have started being more nationalistic and have started being more assertive about it. You have started feeling that the country has been in a state of decline (of course only before the messiah arrived). You have started venting your anger on the people and groups that you think are responsible for the decline of this great country. You have clearly started taking sides and feel a revived sense of power. When Kashmir was put on a clampdown you did rejoice and say “saala yeh pehle hi karna thaa…”. When the Pulwama attack happened and the prime minister went on TV to say “Bohat badi galti kar chukein hein… Bohat badi keemat chukane padegi….” your hearts pumped and your imagination went straight to the imagery of elite forces and fighter planes bombing the shit out of Pakistan.
Your college WhatsApp catchup groups are now teeming with “Us vs Them”, BJP era vs Congress era fights, etc. About the chest-thumping and jingoistic pride in social media, the less said the better. I think you get the point.
All we realize is that there is something churning in this country. Something which has not happened for a long time. Right? I hear that this is all communal politics. Yeah. But then that hue of politics is not new to this country. Jan Sangh, the political arm of RSS, was formed in the year 1951. Communal politics is not new to this country. The nadir of that brand was witnessed on 6th December 1992. But what is this new thing? Why is it so exciting? At the risk of you terming this article bordering paranoia, let me introduce you to a new creature which you have heard and despised but have never experienced. Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome FASCISM to the land of Bapu. Oh.. don’t shoo it off. I know India is a vibrant democracy. Bear with me till the introduction is complete!
I take liberty in quoting various research works about Fascism to highlight its basic tenets.
I particularly rely on the works of one Jason Stanley, an American philosopher and a Professor of Philosophy at Yale University to explain the same.
Firstly, Fascism starts by a projection of a father figure to establish a patriarchy. Patriarchy is the key element here. It is not a concept, ideology or a party. It is a person in flesh and blood. A heroic figure. This patriarchal father figure then goes on to embody the values of the country and in due course becomes the sole embodiment of the values of the country. All decisions and achievements are taken in his name. It would be naïve to highlight who in recent times has gained this status. Note the difference in the previous NDA regime where there was communal politics, hate crimes, etc., but no patriarch. Shri Vajpayee and Shri Advani had their own status but never did they grow beyond the RSS and the Sangh.
Secondly, the patriarch goes on to create a narrative of a mythical past and glory that once was there and then would single out a group as being responsible for the decline in the values and culture of the society. With the RSS agenda and the Jan Sangh’s own objectives this part becomes easy for Mr. Modi as the template is already set. As a crescendo, the call is on for the country men for the reversal of a declining nation. The common folk are called to support this initiative of creating the great nation through hyper-nationalistic appeals. Remember “Ache din ayegi…” ,“ Kaala Dhan”?
The third major strategy of fascism is to take control of all the intellectual organizations which would question or debate the strategy of the system. Remember the attack on JNU? Has anyone witnessed anything like that in the recent history? It would be a fallacy to think that this was random. Media houses would be compelled to comply and the institutions of checks and balances would also be meticulously compromised. A situation of intellectual void is created which sets up the ground for the propaganda machine to roll in its glory.
Fourthly, the majority population is made to feel victimized. This is an easy task in a society which is to balance all socio-economic groups aiming at a ‘just society’. The fear of ‘Us vs Them’ is created and is brought into the popular narrative of the people. I had studied in a pluralistic college in which I had spent 4 years and I don’t remember a day when we had any discussion based on our identities. In recent times when I go through the discussions in our college social media groups, I find more than 70 percent of the discussion is between identities veiled as Congress era Vs BJP era and of course “Us Vs Them. The terms “Urban Naxals” and “Prestitude” are thrown around liberally. But the underlying hate vibe of the arguments against ‘Them’ are very clear to even an uninformed mind.
A parallel is often drawn with the emergency during the Indira Gandhi period. It certainly was a dark period. And surely was an authoritarian regime where the government took over control and people were made to suffer due to curtailment of fundamental rights. But what is happening now is the systematic poisoning of minds which creates a lynch mob bereft of kindness or sympathy. And this is how people fall prey to the propaganda machine of the Fascist juggernaut. It is also difficult to specifically define fascist strategies as unlike other systems like communism or socialism, fascism doesn’t have set working agenda. It keeps varying according to the patriarch’s whims and fancies.
It is clear to me that the fascist machinery has spread its tentacles all over the country. Minority bashing under the guise of nation building has become the norm. Aren’t we creating an entire generation filled with hatred and mob mentality with sheer contempt for human rights and values? Aren’t we propagating an ideology of hate to the extent of glorifying the assassin of the Mahatma?
India, born with the ideals of Gandhi and the vision of other tall leaders, is slowly turning into something which will leave a deep scar not only on the soul of this country, but also on future generations. Erich Seligman Fromm, a world renowned social psychologist and survivor of the Nazi onslaught said something which is very relatable to India at this juncture:
“When Fascism came into power, most people were unprepared, both theoretically and practically. They were unable to believe that man could exhibit such propensities for evil, such lust for power, such disregard for the rights of the weak, or such yearning for submission. Only a few had been aware of the rumbling of the volcano preceding the outbreak.”
– Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom
I hope the ones who are unaware quickly wake from their normal nationalistic overtones and see that it is no more about Hindutva but it has mutated into a fascist volcano waiting to burst. You don’t want to be a fence sitter and wait till the explosion happens. Do you? Go for your family and children and give them safe and love-filled country to live in. And for the rest aware ones, Do your part. The clock is ticking.