WB: ‘Left Ideological Struggle against Sangh Parivar is the Need of the Hour’
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WHILE neoliberalism has made people’s lives miserable, far-right ideologies are flourishing. Prakash Karat, Polit Bureau member and former general secretary of CPI(M) called for intensifying the struggle for livelihood along with the promotion of Left political ideological struggle against the far-right Hindutva forces. If the BJP regime, India's biggest threat after independence, is to be removed from power, these two battles must be fought together. If there is any imperfection in any one area, BJP cannot be beaten.
Addressing a packed auditorium at a programme in Kolkata to mark the 57th foundation day of Ganashakti, the CPI(M) West Bengal state committee’s newspaper, Prakash Karat conveyed his warm greetings to all associated with the daily newspaper. He said that the newspaper has truly been an agitator, organiser and educator, the way Lenin wanted the party newspaper to be. It has played a key role in facing difficulties and challenges and has been steadfast in serving the interests of the people of West Bengal.
OF THE FAR-RIGHT
Focussing on the subject he was to speak about, namely, ‘Threat from Right Wing and How to Meet It’, he said that the right wing had been always there in politics denoting old, conservative right parties. We are now talking about the threat from extreme right or far right. CPI(M)’s 23rd Congress held last year at Kannur and the previous 22nd Congress at Hyderabad in April 2018 noted of “global rightward shift” in politics and its persistence. By this we mean the rise of the far right. As compared to the old conservative right which is satisfied in holding on to the status quo, the vested interests of the society, this is considered to be a more radical force, extremely reactionary in its orientation. The question we need to ponder upon is how did this extreme right rise, participate in elections, become a dominant force and even form the government? Why did people accept them? Is it true that the people in these countries have suddenly become right-wingers in their outlook? We need to analyse this phenomenon carefully.
Let us take a look at Europe today, he added. The victory of the far-right alliance in the Italian parliament election last year is a remarkable moment in Europe. The far-right alliance consisting of the neo-fascist Brothers Party of Italy and its two right wing alliance partners have won 46 per cent of the vote. Italy is the third largest economy in the European Union. It now has a woman prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who began her political career as a leader of the youth organisation of a party which was set-up by Mussolini’s supporters in 1946. In France, Marine Le Pen’s Far-Right National Alliance drew 41 per cent of votes in the presidential elections, coming second. In Germany the far-right political party named ‘Alternative for Germany’ gained 15 per cent of votes. Spain’s far-right Vox has managed to become the third largest party in the country’s national parliament. In Spain the far-right party having right extremist views is named Vox which has become the third-largest party in Spain's parliament. Three months ago, in Sweden, a right-wing coalition has won the election. A far-right neo-fascist party – Sweden Democrats – made big gains but as it is still not felt respectable to induct them into the government, they shall be supporting the right-wing coalition government from outside for the time being. Such examples are there across the globe.
Before going into that, Karat said, let us get into the socio-economic factors involved behind this phenomenon. It is a proven fact that wherever neoliberal regimes are installed, they are in crisis. And it is the working class in these countries that has to bear the burden of the crisis. Neoliberalism entails the dominance of finance capital, the imperialism of finance. Since 2008 the neoliberal states all over Europe have been in the grips of global economic crisis, which is a manifestation of the crisis of neoliberalism itself.
The neoliberal regimes tried to overcome this crisis mainly in two ways. First, big banks and financial companies were bailed out using taxpayers’ money. Second, in the name of austerity measures, harsh cutbacks were imposed on public spending, which involved wage cuts, curtailments of social security benefits and so on.
The working class was already suffering from the worst effects of neoliberalism. Industry and manufacturing had moved off from Europe’s advanced capitalist countries to developing countries, particularly to China causing the disaggregation and disorganisation of the working class in many countries of Europe. Entire working-class communities found themselves left without any livelihood. This happened in the case of mining communities of Britain and France, in the steel industry sector and so on. The obvious consequence was the weakening of the trade union and working-class movement. So, the capacity for collective action of the working people declines in many or all of these countries. The working class and the Left movement which was already on the defensive, the austerity measures gave a more severe blow. In this situation the massive discontent in society made fertile breeding ground for the rise of the far-right who intervened and exploited the vulnerability of the state of affairs.
The rise of the far-right and extreme rightwing forces all over Europe shows a similar pattern of capitalising on fear of migrants, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism. The common denominator of far right everywhere is patronising the politics of ‘othering’. They are also able to cash in on the vacuum created by the absence of vibrant working-class movement. In many of these countries the Left had ceased to be an effective force. The anger and frustration that needed to be directed against the people and policies causing exploitation, joblessness and precarious employment is diverted against imagined threats and perceived enemies –the others.
When fascism arose from the capitalist crisis, they also said that we would overthrow the current ruling class and bring in a system that would guarantee employment for all. This type of anti-capitalist rhetoric is still being used by the far-right today. But this rhetoric never leads to active resistance against the capitalist neoliberal order.
Some of these far-right parties are what we call neo-fascists. They are not fascists in the classical sense. There is no longer the objective condition of reproduction of the fascism we saw in the 20th century between the two World Wars. We call them neofascists because they are inspired by that ideology and understand that the world has changed. So, they have to change their outlook and ideas in a timely manner. But the core of their politics still has an extreme solution for the capitalist crisis. The ruling class may sometimes worry about what direction these parties will take, but eventually they are reassured that they are not against us and that we can control or manage them.
IN USA AND ELSEWHERE
The rise of the far right did not occur only in Europe. We saw Trump's victory in the United States. Even though Trump is no longer president, Trumpian politics still prevails. Republicans are taking more extreme right positions and increasingly accommodating reactionary elements.
Not only in advanced capitalist countries, but also in less developed capitalist countries, this far-right has spread its power. We know about South America. Jair Bolsonaro nicknamed ‘Trump on steroids’ was the president of Brazil until January 1, this year. He is said to be the most reactionary head of state in recent Latin American history. All kinds of fascist tendencies have been traced to him. During Covid pandemic, Bolsonaro regularly downplayed the virus, dismissing it as a 'little flu', delayed in ordering vaccines and arranging mass treatment. Nearly 700,000 Brazilians died from Covid. Apart from that he was seen trying to describe Amazon rainforest protection as a redundant task and gave big contractors and builders a free run to destroy the 'lungs of the world'.
Given this anti-people nature of Bolsonaro regime, many people thought that the left-of-centre candidate Lula da Silva would have an easy victory in the elections. But that did not happen. Lula had 50.8 per cent of votes compared with 49.2 per cent for Bolsonaro. Thus, Lula had a close-cut election (with a victory margin of less than 1 per cent). Far right Jair Bolsonaro still exists with a huge support base and his association continues with the evangelist churches.
In Turkey, the Islamist nationalism of Recep Erdogan is directed toward the Kurdish minority. This along with open coercive measures against the opposition has helped Erdogan retain power and remain the long-lasting president for the last 16 years by winning elections.
THE INDIAN SITUATION
Pointing to the emergence of the far right in Europe, South America and Asia, Karat called for identifying and dealing with the radical right-wing nature of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in India. The main narrative of RSS-BJP's Hindutva politics is no longer on the periphery of Indian politics; it has come to the very centre of politics in the last eight years under Modi. With the help of big capital and media, Hindutva has now become a powerful force. Under its influence many other non-left parties like Kejriwal’s tried to win votes in Gujarat with soft Hindutva politics. This in turn helps Hindutva forces indirectly. What is the objection of RSS if another party propagates its ideals!
So, the only viable anti-thesis to BJP-RSS is the Left. The Left may have limited strength, but it can present alternatives based on scientific ideology and engage others. This is why veteran Sangh pracharak Modi has identified communist ideology as a dangerous enemy. “If the enemy knows us correctly, why should we make a mistake in knowing the enemy correctly,” Karat wondered.
Prakash Karat explained how the BJP in India, like the extreme right parties in many parts of the world, is gaining political support by creating fear and hate among the people by locating 'enemies within' among the population and thereby diverting their attention from the recession and livelihood problems caused by neoliberalism. He said the BJP never speaks out against capitalism. Rather, the BJP has identified religious minorities as ‘enemies of the people’. This is Hindutva nationalism. Big capital is supporting this Hindutva for their profit interests. Even though the farmers of Uttar Pradesh were angry with the government, BJP rule has been perpetuated in the state under the influence of the poisonous ideology of Hindutva.
But citing India's long tradition, from the 1857 Great Rebellion to the long days of freedom struggle, Karat hoped the history of Hindu-Muslim living and working together would not be erased so easily. Even today, if the Left ideology could be taken among the farmers who fought united in the heart of the Indian capital, then it was possible to stop the BJP. It is not only a question of fighting for alliances in elections; it is also the issue of struggle for constant propagation of ideology among people in socio-cultural spheres.
THE BENGAL SCENARIO
Addressing the meeting, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Salim said that the danger in Bengal should be properly recognised. The chief minister is now saying she did not directly join the BJP. The danger can be seen when the knife is directly in the hand, it is more dangerous when the knife is hidden in the sleeve. To make people forget the destructive activities that Trinamool has done as opposition, the chief minister is now saying that she did not do any destructive politics. This is how the extreme right wants to confuse people's memories and distort history. Corporate media doesn't expose these lies, they don't see red flag protest marches in villages and towns, and they are just busy spreading shameless lies about ‘Ram-Bam' (BJP-Left) coalition. But as people are rising, they will not be deceived by this lie.
Salim also said that Trinamool and BJP are trading lies to vitiate the politics of Bengal. It is a political match fixing where BJP is the 'fake opposition’. Helpless people are not getting work, they have to survive on meagre income, Awas Yojana is being looted, and jobs are being bought and sold in exchange of lakhs. Where is the reflection of all this in the mainstream media, he asked. When people are getting upset, the chief minister is saying that the 'Trinamool ambassadors' will go to the neighbourhood! Forget about ambassadors, the spectre of Trinamool’s tyranny, loot and corruption is haunting the people, he commented. And when the people are getting determined to see an end to this, the 'Ram-Bam' canard is being spread. The truth is, even the extreme right knows that the soil of Bengal is a stronghold of secular democracy. So Trinamool and BJP have made an agreement and are spreading lies with the help of media.
In his welcome speech, editor of the newspaper Debashish Chakraborty said 57 years is not a small period of time. He asserted that besides being a newspaper, Ganashakti is a movement; it carries in its heart the spirit of a mass movement. It not only represents the movement of the present but also ‘takes care of the future of the entire movements.’ It is true that Ganashakti is in financial trouble, it is also true that well-wishers are standing by the newspaper beyond measure, extending a helping hand and it is also a fact that Ganashakti will not surrender. A major reason for the financial crisis is the abnormal increase in the price of newsprint, which is quite a bit higher than the usual rate of increase in prices. While this price hike is not normal; it may not be unreasonable to think that there may be a plan to end the print media. There seems to be an attempt to bring the print media under the control of a handful of corporates who are already dominating the electronic media and a large section of the digital media.
But even in this situation, Ganashakti is fighting. It has been able to expose gigantic corruption in the education sector, the bribe-for-job scams, bring into open the coal and cattle smuggling cases and spread the news of people’s resistance against the misrule of the ruling parties at the state and the centre. The very early reportage in Ganashakti clearly indicated that the death of young Anis Khan in Amta of Howrah was actually a murder. Ganashakti is continuing to expose the massive financial corruption that has taken place in the state with NREGA or Awas Yojana, and has tried to provide documentary support for the mass movement.
Ganashakti has remained committed to carry on an intense ideological struggle against the philosophy and practices of the BJP and all other groups which are commonly called the Sangh Parivar. In the days to come, Ganashakti will deepen and carry forward the work it began 56 years ago, come what may.
Ganashakti Trust chairman and veteran communist leader Biman Basu presided over the meeting. Referring to the efforts of the Ganashakti to provide positive campaign support in the struggle of the working people, Basu said, everyone should come forward and stand by Ganashakti to strengthen the struggle of the people.
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