What Is To Be Done?

The Rise of Neo-Fascism

Arup Baisya

BJP has ascended to powerin 2014. The background was set by the twin process of neo-liberal economic reconstruction and the social “Rammandir Nirman” movement that culminated into the demolition of Babri Masjid. This is the economic, social and political aspects of neo-fascism. The neoliberal restructuring was set in motion in the 1980s. After the initial decades of apparent success stories of the neoliberal Washington consensus, global capitalism plunged into deeper crisis of overproduction or under-consumption. The rise of fascist social movements and fascist political power can be conceived in this backdrop. The definition that emerged in the backdrop of the rise of fascism in the backward capitalist state of Germany underlined the fact that though the rise of fascism and state repression is fundamentally directed towards the toiling masses, it is also characterised by the suppression of the section of the old bourgeoisie to serve the interest of the new bourgeoisie. It is fundamentally directed towards the toiling masses because the masses do not want to be ruled in the old way and rulers are also not capable of ruling in the old way due to the change of social relations of production which is not compatible with the existing productive forces–this is also one of the conditions for revolution as Lenin articulated. In the Indian context, people observed similar features at the initial phase of BJP’s ascendance to power. The rise of the rightist social movement is primarily due to the weakening of left working-class resistance throughout the entire neoliberal phase preceding BJP’s ascendance to power in 2014. Within this broad framework of a neoliberal global framework, there are certain new features in the here and now that need to be taken into cognizance while formulating the revolutionary strategy and tactics. In a dependent country like India, the concatenation of events related to fascism domestically and imperialism globally needs to be looked into through a continuous process of concrete analysis of the concrete situation. In that sense, the danger is neo-fascism in India in the backdrop of neo-imperialism.

When BJP ascended to power in 2014, neo-liberalism was the globally accepted policy. Though the firm faith of the capitalist-roaders on neoliberalism had been shaken after US sub-prime crisis in 2007-08, trend to sever ties with Washington consensus started gaining ground in post-Covid period. This trend is gaining ground due to the decline in global hegemony and domination of US imperialist and the rise of China-Russia axis power. The rise of various regional formations including that of BRICS posed a formidable challenge to US hegemony both economically and militarily. The fundamental reason for the rise of fascist forces is due to the deep-rooted economic crisis, change of the social relation of production and the absence of any left alternative from working-class perspective. It gained momentum through a reactionary social movement of Hindutva with an imagined solution of the crisis through the investment of the new bourgeoisie in infrastructure and service sector with the support of global financial centre of the US imperialism. But the situation has taken a different turn due to the decline of US power and the challenge from China-Russia axis power. So Indian fascism has lost its US imperialist prop and the political dispensation in power is now compelled to tread a difficult path of balancing between the two dominant imperialist poles.

But this has given some leeway to ruling class to pursue a domestically oriented economic policy for addressing the domestic economic crisis to contain social turmoil. This economic policy can only be pursued by reversing the trend of privatization, state regulation on corporate capital, ensuring government’s welfare participation and most importantly through federalism, social justice and secularism. BJP vis-à-vis SanghParivar is averse to such policy framework due to their core ideological position of centralised Hindu Rastra. Does Congress led opposition is committed to follow this path of economic and social development? At the present moment, the reply to this question is ambiguous so long as there is no policy shift of global capitalism from neoliberalism for a new restructuring. Though ideologically Congress has positioned itself in such a direction, but so far as the domestically inward looking policy is concerned, Congress as a ruling class party is reluctant to impose any state regulation on corporates and is destined to succumb to the pressure of global finance capital as Monmohan Singh Government did in 1991. The challenge which is posed by the imperialist capital needs to be resisted by the popular national uprising of Indian masses. The deep economic crisis and the loosening grip of old feudal classes over the masses due to change in relations of production leads the Indian society in turmoil. In the backdrop of this tumultuous socio-economic situation, diverse social and economic categories are agog at the idea of launching spontaneous movements, and this might be visible in the popular uprisings in foreseeable future. The capitalist system needs to contain this situation for social stability to ensure profit and accumulation for the Capital. Bourgeoisie of all hues realizes this threat when corporate consultants have been occupying the driving seat replacing or conniving with the bureaucracy to advise the political power at the helm of affairs of the state. The pivot of the transitional phase of capitalist state system featured with two opposing intertwined trends of neo-fascist and a democratic options rests on workers vis-à-vis the people. This new emerging reality needs to be visualised from a working class perspective.

The imagined reality that is projected by the neo-fascist dispensation must have a connection with some sort of productive activity. BJP government initially highlighted the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” with new entrepreneurship of MSME sector, but that could not sustain in the backdrop of dwindling purchasing power of the Indian masses. Now the slogan of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” is based on constructing Military Industry to create jobs. Budgetary allocation for such state investment is enhanced, and this is best suited for a fascist state. There is another shift in purchase of Military equipments from the US to the old imperialist master, Russia. The emphasis on semiconductor and solar energy-based industry is indicative of the shift in dependence on foreign investment from the US to China. India-China bilateral trade hit a new record in 2023. China is eager to shift their mobile manufacturing factories for the US Company Apple to India for the transfer of surplus value of cheap Indian labour to China. Indian finance secretary is emphasising on shifting of focus from maintaining fixed fiscal discipline regime under Washington Consensus without imposing tax on the corporate for deficit financing. This balancing act of BJP regime at the centre between US brand of neoliberalism to Chinese brand creates the space to accommodate all variants of the bourgeoisie while shifting the entire burden of economic crisis on the toiling masses.

Under this transitional phase stated above, the neo-fascism of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” with Military industry and the industrial policy driven by imperialist design is destined to be primarily directed against the Indian toiling masses by accommodating the bourgeois and intermediary sections. As such, the revolutionary strategy must focus on the struggle of every social and economic category of people to build nationwide working class vis-à-vis people’s movement. It is to be borne in mind that under the given social balance of forces in here and now, any people’s movement with a genuine demand of the toiling masses under apparently any leadership has the systemic tendency to be transformed into a revolutionary mass movement. Revolutionaries must unite to build struggling unity of the workers vis-à-vis people’s movement for a revolutionary state with an alternative vision based on nationalisation, state regulation, and socialisation.

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Vol 56, No. 37, Mar 10 - 16, 2024