India puts on the jackboots
India, the world's largest democracy with an estimated 1.2 billion inhabitants, has entered a terrifying new era with the election last week of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party. Essentially China's great economic rival in the east has voted in a fascist party. It is not hyperbole to suggest that India will now be the first, major fascist power in Asia. This is not an exaggeration. Modi is a lifelong member of the paramilitary Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak (RSS), a group inspired by classic fascist movements from Europe such as the Nazis and Benito Mussolini's Black Shirts. As the chief minister of the Gujarat area, Mondi is notorious for having looked the other way during a vicious 2002 pogrom against local Muslims that resulted in over 200 deaths. In fact, Modi's campaign rhetoric was replete with anti-Muslim slogans.
However, this nightmarish development in India is not an isolated case.
The rise of Modi confirms the emergence of a new axis of radical, right-wing political powers in parts of Europe and now the east. In Ukraine the Right Sector, a half-paramilitary party has ascended to positions of authority within the new government in Kiev. In Greece the Golden Dawn party, whose flag boasts a Swastiska-like symbol, is according to the polls the third most popular party in the economically-thrashed country.
In Israel the conservative Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being overtaken in the parliament by new, ultra-nationalist parties of militants such as Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman, who oppose any rational peace deal with the Palestinians. In France recent parliamentary elections saw a major boost for the xenophobic National Front led by demagogue harpee Marine Le Pen.
Why are these movements starting to breed and spread like a contagion in various corners of the globe? The answer lies in the global economic situation since the 2008 banking crisis. Modi and those like him are rising to the top because they promise quick, thuggish solutions to the issues of immigration and corruption. In a country like India, where the caste system remains firmly in place, or in a country like Greece where unemployment and financial distress has shattered society, the appeal of macho nationalism and easy targets (immigrants, Muslims, gypsies) quickly infects the masses. Blood and land cults become prominent and the appeal of jack boots attracts young, angry unemployed citizens.
These developments, in coordination with continuing tensions with Russia over Ukraine, and ongoing U.S. wars in the Middle East, present us with the prospect of dark times to come.
We as students should pay close attention and be concerned, because this is the world we will inherit and quite seriously be expected to run after obtaining AA degrees or transferring to complete even higher degrees in universities.
One major reason these fascist movements are gaining power across the sea is because the times trapped in an ideological, political void. There are no revolutionary passions among the young, even after the brief flicker of the 2011 Occupy movement. In the Arab world the great hope of the 2011 revolutions is being slowly crushed under the heels of local monarchs and their intrigues as seen last year during the military coup in Egypt that has returned that ancient land into the hands of brutal men in military uniforms. Shadows of Chile's Augusto Pinochet are cast over the Nile.
In the United States countries such as India and France may feel distant, but such shockwaves as what has happened in India will be felt everywhere. What will happen when continuing unemployment and lack of jobs in this nation inspires the young and angry to follow some unknown, yet to be revealed demagogue who will step before a podium?
In Greece there has been a great flame of hope in the form of the radical leftist party Syriza, whose leader Alexis Tsipras is promising that if elected he will focus on socially conscious policies and even, potentially revolutionary ideals such as those seen in Latin American countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. A Greek Revolution would shake modern Europe, if not the world. But it will be up to the Greek youth, who form a large bloc of Syriza voters, to carry out the massive change.
We must not allow our societies to regress into the darkness of radical nationalism and Medievalism. As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote when Hitler rose to power in Germany, "capitalist society is puking up the undigested barbarism." Such barbarism will swallow us whole unless we begin to think, write and form new alternatives in order to imagine new dawns and not return to past nightmares.