(Based on Comrade Dipankar’s address at the inaugural session of the Marxism 2017 conference hosted by the Socialist Alternative group of Australia in Melbourne from 13 to 16 April, 2017)
Three decades ago when the Soviet Union collapsed, triumphant ideologues of capitalism proclaimed the end of history. The global victory of capitalism for them marked the final destination of history. They told us that the free market would deliver what socialist planned economies and welfare state could not do: prosperity for all. With the end of the arms race of the Cold War era, we were supposed to have been ushered into an era of global peace in which technology would bring down every barrier and flatten the world into a global village and liberal parliamentary democracy would replace the party-state of bureaucratic socialism, ensuring equal rights, opportunities and representation for all.
The trajectory that the world has traversed since then has been markedly different. The end of the Cold War has only meant intensificationof hot war with all its horror and devastation. From Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria, we seem to have been trapped in an era of expanding war. The war affects us all – it is taking a growing toll of our freedom and welfare, whether or not we are living right inside a war zone. Globalisation has not meant rapid and universal spread of prosperity – it has only produced a major economic depression with bailouts for the rich and unmitigated austerity and inequality for the rest. Human need has been subjugated by corporate greed; corporate warfare for superprofit has hijacked all our natural and human resources. And at the helm of the world’s biggest self-styled liberal democracy we now have someone like Donald Trump, to understand whom Americans have to turn to the Hitler era of Europe.
Trump is however no exception. We in India are only too aware that while there may be only one Trump, there are several trumpets in today’s world producing similar noise which is music to the ears of the rightwing. It is no ordinary ‘free market’ rightwing that we are confronting today. The rightwing in power in several countries and knocking on the doors of power in several others is a very aggressive rightwing with a viciously supremacist and anti-democratic agenda. It may be racism and Islamophobiain America and communalism in India, but beneath the surface we must not miss the aggressive corporate core of these dispensations.
To take the example of India, with the rise of NarendraModi as the Prime Minister and most recently following the anointment of the saffron-wearing Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of India’s most populous province Uttar Pradesh, we are witnessing the phenomenon of groups of thugs patronised by the BJP and the RSS, the shadowy organisation which mentors and controls it, on a state-sponsored rampage. Some of them are busy beating up and killing people, mostly Dalits and Muslims, in the name of protecting the cow, some are designated as Anti-Romeo Squads and entrusted with the job of moral policing. Many rightwing apologists would still describe these thugs as fringe forces, but given the scale and impunity with which these forces are now operating almost all over the country, we can clearly say that the fringe now constitutes the core of the ruling order.
But it would be a folly to try and understand the driving ideology of the ruling order only in terms of markers like cow vigilantism and moral policing and miss the essential corporate dimension of this tyranny in the name of Hindutva. NarendraModi has been a hardcore organiser of the RSS, as Prime Minister he loves to flaunt his newfound status as a strategic ally of US imperialism and he is also known for his close personal equations with two of India’s biggest corporate icons, MukeshAmbani and Gautam Adani. I am sure you all remember how during his visit to Australia, Prime Minister Modi secured the controversial coal mine project for his close corporate buddy Adani. And only the other day when the Australian Prime Minister Turnbull visited India, he saw Mr. Adani and promised to ‘fix’ the Native Title Suit issue to facilitate the acquisition of land belonging to the indigenous people for his Coal Mine project.
Mussolini was indeed being very candid and accurate when he had defined fascism as the fusion of state power and corporate power. To combat this racist and fascist right, we must harness all our energies and struggles. Against the fascist politics of ‘divide and rule’, we must unfurl our banner of resistance: ‘unite and fight’. And if the right is out to resurrect the nightmare of Hitlerite fascism, we have the Leninist legacy of revolutionary Marxism. Indeed, we are in the centenary of the world’s first socialist revolution, when communists had successfully broken the imperialist chain at its weakest link, turning the Tsarist Russian Empireinto the Socialist Soviet Union. Back home in India, we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the great Naxalbari peasant uprising, a revolutionary dress rehearsal that however did not ultimatelysucceed. But Russia of November 1917 and India of May 1967 have the same message for us today: the fascist offensive must be fought back with a revolutionary counter-offensive. Let us invoke the revolutionary spirit of the international communist and anti-imperialist movement to strengthen our unity and sharpen our resistance.