The following piece attempts to examine the roots of Hindutva ideology in India as well as the caste-class mobilisation on which it grows. In doing so, it will also look at the role of apolitical-centrist folks in fuelling fascism.

Fascism, as Time magazine describes it, is “a movement that promotes the idea of a forcibly monolithic, regimented nation under the control of an autocratic ruler.” Its origins can be traced to Europe in the early twentieth century, with Germany seeing one of the worst faces of that movement. However, after World War II, in 1945, fascism began to lose ground before resurfacing in the form of neo-fascism. However, fascism, unlike in the West, rose to prominence in India in the 1990s. Since then, fascism in India has grown to its worst, steadily choking the world’s greatest democracy to death.

In his paper titled ‘Neoliberalism and Fascism’, Prabhat Patnaik writes, “They (fascists leaders) invariably invoke acute hatred against some hapless minority groups, treating them as the ‘enemy within’ in a narrative of aggressive hyper nationalism, and attribute all the existing social ills of the ‘nation’ to the presence of such groups.” He goes on to explain in his research how these movements’ fundamental characteristics go beyond mere prejudice. It highlights the movement’s adherence to irrational viewpoints, desire for societal domination, and readiness to use violence openly—even in positions of governmental authority—in order to accomplish its goals. He describes the totalitarian tendencies of fascist governments as they attempt to dominate the social, political, and economic facets of society. This eventually leads to a highly controlled society in which the government has a significant influence over every element of an individual’s personal life.

Hindutva, also known as Hindu nationalism, is a fascist movement in India that advocates Hindu supremacy and the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra. This movement began in India in 1925, amid the fascist surge in the West, but received little attention from the public until the 1990s due to the dominance of a left-centrist political party in government. However, after the 1990s, the movement began to expand quickly, with the ‘Babri Masjid’ as the centre of the politicisation. The movement gained political traction with the formation of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980, which was backed by the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Dr Muhammad Gumnāmi for The Muslim 500 notes, “From the 1990s onwards, the slow poisoning of Hindu minds against Indian Muslims was carried out by the RSS and BJP. However, their progress to a majority with complete control did not occur immediately. The BJP passed through a stage where they had to form a coalition government under the ‘moderate’ Vajpayee, who was also an RSS member. The Vajpayee coalition government ran between 1998 and 2004, and while it was BJP-led, it did not have the majority to lay the foundations of a Hindu Hitlerian state.”

In a country where caste is severely established, Hindu unity was a challenging feat. At the same time, in the 1990s, the then-V.P. Singh’s government implemented the Mandal Commission, which granted 27% reservation to the OBCs. This policy was a political manoeuvre intended to harm the BJP’s electoral base by creating inter-caste divides. While most political parties stayed mute on the commission since any favour may result in them losing a specific caste vote, the RSS officially called on the BJP to reject the Mandal Commission. But the party used a different strategy to mobilise people and secure voter support. A month later, L.K. Advani, the then-BJP President, began the ‘Rath Yatra’ to promote the agenda of a temple under the Babri Masjid and deflect attention away from the Mandal Commission. From the start, the Yatra provoked sectarian tensions between Hindus and Muslims.

On 6 December, 1992, members of Hindutva organisations razed the centuries-old mosque, sparking one of the bloodiest communal clashes in the country. While the Hindu-Muslim gap was gradually deepening following the demolition, a train accident made it worse. In 2002, a train coming from Ayodhya caught fire, killing 58 Hindu pilgrims. This prompted violent riots in Gujarat, killing over 1,000 individuals, the majority of whom were Muslims. Many international organisations criticised the BJP administration, stating evidence that the violence had been planned and designed in advance. The inability of the state to control violence, acts of silencing journalists and critics, and banning documentaries make further cause for concern and question. From then until now, the BJP has been successful in uniting Hindus on the basis of hatred against Muslims.

A PhD candidate from the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra writes, “In India, fascism is reinventing itself. It has crept through Hindu nationalism—Hindutva—and now poses a serious threat to Indian democracy.” For the BJP, mobilising UC Hindus was an easy task. A fairly easy equation: Hindu Raj means Hindu domination, which means upper caste dominance. Along with that equation came the Mandal Commission, which eventually helped them acquire UC voter support due to open criticism from the RSS, the parent wing. In a poll analysis by Lokniti-CSDS, they reported that as many as 89% of Brahmins, 87% of Rajputs, and 83% of Baniyas voted for the BJP in the 2022 elections. The percentage was 66 for OBCs and 41 for SCs.

While the existence of the UC voter base is self-explanatory, the question arises: how did the BJP succeed in mobilising the lower caste? Their first card featured Narendra Modi. Modi has been quite aggressive about his caste identity since the beginning. The Press Trust of India reported, “Addressing a press conference at the JD(U) headquarters here, the party’s MLC and chief spokesperson, Neeraj Kumar, pointed out that Modi has been accused of getting his caste, ‘Modh Ghanchi’, included in the OBC list in 2002, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. ‘Modi sought to deny the allegation by claiming it was done way back in 1994, when the Congress ruled Gujarat as well as the Centre’, added the JD(U) leader. Kumar showed a sheet of paper claiming it was the Gazette of India of that year, mentioning the casts that were included among Other Backward Classes (OBC).” A few other political groups also questioned his caste status, but the BJP successfully defended it by labelling the claims “casteist”.

Now the question remains: even after an increase in crime rates against Dalits since 2013, why are Dalits voting for the BJP? The answer lies in the class development of this caste. In the book ‘Maya Modi Azad: Dalit Politics in the Time of Hindutva,’ scholars Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar find out the reason behind this shift. The book explains how class upliftment is one of the reasons behind the shift in political support. Vikas Patnaik notes in his review of the book for The Hindu, “Indeed, this is one of the finest insights of the book. One sign of self-confidence is always fragmentation, as an individual or a sub-group agency begins to question the need for a larger ‘authentic’ self. Just as a Brahmin can be a supporter of the BJP, the Congress, or even a socialist, it goes without saying that a confident Dalit middle class will also articulate itself in fragments. In other words, the electoral debacle of the BSP also reflects the success of the BSP in providing ‘aatma-samman’ (self-respect) to Dalits who grew up seeing Kanshi Ram and Mayawati as their natural leaders.”

Another reason is the hierarchy within castes. An excerpt from Pai and Kumar’s book argues, “It is also because the objective has been two-fold: to obtain the electoral support required in a key state like UP and include them within the saffron fold in order to build a Hindu Rashtra. Feeling neglected within the BSP vis-à-vis the dominant Jatavs, the smaller Dalit sub-castes have been attracted to the BJP and thus rendered vulnerable to its mobilizational strategies.”

The BJP’s silence on the Mandal Commission, the addition of EWS reservation, RSS’ criticism of the Mandal Commission, weakening opposition, intra-caste dominance, and Modi’s identity were all enough to mobilise the communities and bring them under the banner of “Hindu,” with a common slogan, “Not a ‘Brahmin’, Not a ‘Kshatriya’, Not a ‘Vaishya’, Not a ‘Shudra’: We are Hindus.”

While the underprivileged lack access to proper education and information about issues, they vote with the hope that this can probably uplift their financial status, while the rich ensure that they stay ignorant and vote with hatred. As economist Prabhat Patnaik states, “Fascism has been thriving on weakening the working class across the world,” and indeed the present construction workers deal between India and Israel exemplifies that. In India, the BJP government’s control over media and internet platforms aids in mobilising the middle and upper classes. According to a recent World Economic Forum survey, India is the most vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation in the world, posing the greatest threat to the 2024 elections. The reason a lie becomes a fact in India is because the privileged either benefit from it or turn a blind eye to it.

Fascism thrives on the politicisation of religion, and misinformation to blur the distinction between political and religious events aids in the cultivation of an apolitical voter base that ignores socio-political issues. Such a voter base indirectly aids in mobilising the working class. A recent illustration of this is the violence that erupted in the country following the Ram Temple’s inauguration. While this voting base had the resources and access to education, they chose to remain in their bubble of privilege, thereby supporting the authoritarian regime and creating a religious gap in their personal relationships.

Furthermore, an analysis of how apolitical-centrist individuals unknowingly support fascism emphasises the importance of a nuanced understanding of political apathy and the potential consequences of being untouched by ideological shifts. The development of fascism highlights the importance of ideological neutrality in deciding a country’s political direction.

So, while we sit in our bubble of privilege, continue to preach hatred, directly or indirectly, and refuse to question the hatred, the regime will continue to divide everyone, incite riots, and fan the flame of hatred towards our doors.

Read also: “I am a Brahmin” The Casteism of Baba Ramdev and Shankaracharya

Featured Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Dhruv Bhati
[email protected]

Universities, the breeding ground of education and ideals, echo today with chants of Azadi, and Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge. They think we’ll let go and surrender. However, they don’t know that our resistance is stronger than their hatred.

As another year goes by, the ‘one who must not be named’ reigns back to power and, yet again, the country erupts in massive dissent in one of the ways propagated by the moderate protests. While more universities get labelled as ‘anti-national’ by the followers of the ‘party that must not be named’, I am reminded of Satyajit Ray’s Hirak Rajar Deshe (1980); as the protagonist says, “Era joto beshi pore, toto beshi jaane, toto kom mane.” (The more they learn, the more they know, the less they obey).
Nandini Sukhija, a student of Mumbai University, said, “Our political leaders gain power by mobilization of groups, which are usually composed of brainwashed partisans. The intellectuals know better than of all for their cheap and divisive tactics, by which they threaten the Government’s power. It’s not hard to connect the dots and realise why fascist governments will always clamp down the educated and shut down channels of information.”
The well-read are rational critics whereas the ideologists are the irrational ones. Targeting universities, the educated, scholars, and writers, is an age-old gameplay to curb the anti- establishment voices, to curb nothing but dissent and voice.

Forcing the well- read to obey the regressive actions coerced on the vulnerable sections of the society is a task of great objection. The very reason why their voices are silenced is that the establishment is aware that they are wrong, they know that they’d fail if the truth prevailed, if the educated people’s voice reverberated.

The youth is the ‘future’ of India, long ahead after the remains of the politicians have vanished into thin air, their remnants left as a by-product of hate, fear and, fascism, the youth will still exist.

History is evidential of the exemplary contribution and corrupt silence that students are bestowed upon by fascist governments. When the ones to oppose, the ones to criticise cease to exist, their propagation, their ideology, their reign thrives. Democracy without opposition is no democracy at all. Arresting the well-read and labelling them as urban Naxalites is a reminder of the very failure of democracy.
Central universities ordering students to not protest, charging them of disciplinary action to prevent dissent or questioning the Government, Is everyone an accomplice here?

“Educational institutions are the hotspots of awareness. Silencing educational institutions to gain peace is like burning the Amazon and then expecting the earth to be ecologically sound. The consequences will only intensify. “Finger on your lips is not something appealing to the youth,
neither is it going to stay for too long,” Priyanshi Banerjee, a student of Lady Shri Ram College rightfully explains.
If we go down the pages of history, Nazi Germany right before World War II reminds us of eerily similar circumstances. Sonderaktion Krakau, a German terror operation against academics at Jagiellonian University performed in order to eradicate the Polish intellectual elites.

Along with this, Frankfurt University was the first university targeted by Nazis for their liberal, exuberant academic record, scholarships, international faculty, and uphold of democratic values and ideals.
The times we live in are scary, they attack unarmed students, name-call academicians, murder journalists, hush down voices, curb protests. Where is dissent? Where did the safety valve of democracy go?
All revolutions, all rebellions, nationalist movements, demand for rights, protests, agitations, all starts from the students; the very foundation of a stable country. The recent attacks on students at various universities are nothing but an act of cowardice in the world’s largest democracy; the very country which once upheld the ideals of secularism, democracy, justice, liberty, and equality.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Anandi Sen 

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These are powerful times. These are politically volatile times. These are disappointing times. These are resisting times. Most important of all, these are questioning and questionable times.

With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being protested against vehemently in the North-East and across the rest of the country, including the popular hubs of politics and entertainment – Delhi and Mumbai – respectively, the citizens of the country are awakening to the anti-people policies of the current administration, including (but not limited to) the controversial abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the policies to privatize education, the Trans Person’s Bill, and the continual curbing of dissent by arresting protesting activists. As I write this, the Farmers’ Leader, Akhil Gogoi, is being charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act – a move that has invited widespread criticism for its arbitrary and oppressive nature.

In a backdrop such as this, it is impossible to go about one’s life – especially as students who study Foucault, Orwell, Ambedkar, and Marx in the classrooms of one of the premier universities of the country – without being the least bit affected with the socio-political climate of the country. The slogan, “Personal is political” manifests itself  powerfully before us, now more than ever, since the majority of us who are on any social networking platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, among many others, cannot possibly scroll through the feeds nonchalantly, without coming across stories, posts, or articles on the current climate. What, then, becomes of social media activism?

I confess that I myself, in the past, have sneered at ‘social media influencers’ and the like, believing that the social and cultural capital enjoyed by them, by virtue of their popularity, was taking up unfair space in the powerful discourse of ground-level activism. However, the past few months have altered this perspective drastically, because social media has now seemingly emerged as the preferred space of discourse for many, includingsystematically disenfranchised communities like trans-people, women, and people from conservative households. When paramilitary troops and police forces are employed in the ratio of three is to one, at organised protests in India Gate, Jantar Mantar, and brutalise the students of Jamia (JMI), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), among other locations, then being on-ground becomes a life and death battle for many from the aforementioned communities.

Social media, then, serves as the forum to express dissent, become informed, and share awareness. This is not to say that the women at Shaheen Bagh, sitting in the chilling winter of Delhi for about a month now, are not palpable to a violent crackdown, or that the resistance that has engulfed Kashmir for multiple decades is on equal footing with sharing a tweet, but it is to acknowledge the newfound power that is threatening the authorities in control. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) IT cell has been notoriously in the news for circulating numbers, advertising that calling said numbers would get the people “free subscription to Netflix” or rendezvous with porn-stars. Doctored photos of students holding placards like Hinduo ki kabrkhudegiinstead of the original “Hindutva ki kabra khudegi,” were instantly circulated in social media pages, attempting to polarize communal sentiments against students at JMI and AMU. In no time after actress Deepika Padukone stood behind JNU Students’ Union President, Aishe Ghosh, and activist Kanahiya Kumar, that the hashtag “BoycottChhapak” was trending on social media and sexually profanity being hurled at her. Internet lockdown in Kashmir has continued for over 150 days now, while internet services in numerous states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, and Gujarat were blocked. Instances like this are testimony to the fact that any platform of public dissent, especially a technologically savvy one like social media that people from older generations in the administration are largely unable to grasp or master, acts to counter the narrative of normalcy our Prime Minister has been propagating with his famous line – Sab changa si!” A single tweet on the everyday violence in the country is indeed momentous enough to throttle this false narrative.

While the criticism against social media has always been the legitimacy of the sources and the accountability of any debates/discussions over it, private citizens like Mitali Bhasin, Sukhnidh Kaur, Pravan Sawhney, Divya Kandukuri, are some of the few names who have set precedent for researching their own resources for news and compiling information for public use in these tumultuous times. Pages like With Kashmir, and media houses like The Wire, The Print, Quint have proven to be reliable sources of information and discourses, publicized and accessible through social media platforms.

The language barrier parting English, Hindi, and other regional languages in India has always been a drawback for left liberal discourse in India, and the dearth of similar resources / activism in languages apart from English, including in Hindi, remains a blind-spot that needs correction in an era where the voting public, from Savarna households, including in our family WhatsApp groups is unaware of the manipulation and propaganda being targeted towards them, because of language or technological gaps that disengage their participation in social media activism. However, as millennials and post-millennials, it is our prerogative to engage in sharing the information that reaches us, creating the much-needed space for dissent amid the hoardings of propaganda.

Most important of all, it is time that to take heed of all the tools at our disposal in fighting violence sponsored by the State. It is time to change those display pictures to red, to make highlights on Instagram with curated information, to tweet and flood the judiciary, the Police, and the ministries, because when we fight fascism in Orwellian times like these, it becomes poignant to break free, in any and all ways possible, from what 1984 labelled the Thought Police.

Anushree Joshi

[email protected]

The administration has put out a notice asking students to refrain from sending articles on political themes.

In a recent move by the Ramjas College administration, articles with political themes will not be accepted for the college magazine Anand Parvat but rather, students are encouraged to submit ‘generalised’ writings instead. A further notice was sent clarifying that students may send the article on any topic but, which stated that, “students should however take precautions that the Election Commission of India has issued certain guideline to give views on social media in light of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections”.

The move apparently comes after the February 2017 clashes in Ramjas which erupted after Umar Khalid was called for a seminar organised by the literary society and the department of English.  Repeated censorship and systemic silencing in Ramjas has been condemned by the students.

“I don’t understand how can academic space be divorced from the political and read in isolation, that too in a college like Ramjas, whose walls smell of resistance and dissent. I find it very immature and undemocratic on the part of the administration to issue such an arbitrary notice.” said Yash Chaudhary, a third year statistics student.

Dr. Vinita Chandra, an associate professor at the Department of English who was previously a faculty advisor to the student editorial board remarked that this was the first time in Ramjas’ history where the magazine was brought under the staff council, “the money for the college student magazine comes from the students…College magazines, like school magazines, are meant to provide students a platform to express their creativity and their ideas about college life and the world they live in. It is not meant to be an academic journal. An administration that thinks it needs to censor its students and is afraid of allowing them to speak is truly out of touch with young people and needs to look into the reasons for its mindset.” she added.

The drastic move has also brought about resistance from the students. The Students Federation of India (SFI) plans on organising a protest on the 18th of April, 2019 in the college premises against the administration. Resistance follows Ramjas in uproar on social media and posters in college as the administration remains mum on the move.

“Well, the kind of censorship being seen in a space like Ramjas only further reiterates that there isn’t a better time to serve your country by writing politically, and keep fascism at bay” said another student, who would like to remain anonymous.

According to a Hindustan Times report, magazine convenor G. Chilana said that he had received complaints from various departments about the notice. “We are not sidelining any department or subject. We just want students to write more on academic issues rather than about any political event or ideology which has no relevance for the magazine. They should understand this,” Chilana said.


Image Credits: DU Beat archives

Jaishree Kumar

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We use it like a two-rupee ball-point pen. Read on to learn what it actually means to be a ‘fascist’ in yesterday, today, and the times to follow.

It is a Saturday morning, and you have the liberty of not worrying about the 8 a.m. commute. Even before fully opening both your eyes, you open your cell phone to find memes, pieces of news, and social media posts with words like ‘fascism’ muddled casually in between, all in caps. Like a good 2018 internet-accessing influenced mind, you provide traction to the aforementioned and add your stamp of approval to the opinions.

This is not to say that the regimes or individuals being labelled fascist are not so. But it is important to understand where the label has its roots, how it has grown, and what its modern version essentially looks like. Especially in tumultuous times like ours, where the morning tweets have the leader of the free world making racist statements on international forums, with humans being lynched over cows, and the student politics has candidates wanting to protect the university from the LGBTQ community in lieu of the Section-377 verdict.

Mussolini used the word ‘fascism’ for the first time in 1919 and it comes from the Italian word ‘fascio’, which translates to a militant brotherhood. The play of the term has shifted considerably over time, but it is not an uncomplicated process to apply one fitting definition for the term. The one thing that is common to all beliefs about fascism is that it rests on the creation and the cultivation of an almost-alternate reality conceived from lies. So, a person in power, or without it, may try to convince you that apples are actually oranges, and provide you fallacious reasons that start feeding off a convenient majority’s belief system, then that is an apt understanding of fascism’s ideals.

The ideals of fascism have one or, usually, multiple goals out of these- anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist. Robert Paxton at Columbia University is considered the father of fascism studies, and his definition for the aforementioned agendas of fascism excludes one significant sentiment of modern-day fascism, which is, the dynamic of undisputed power and the retention of it. To do so, the practice of fascism borrows the techniques of all the ideologies it is theoretically against. For example, it doesn’t emphasise on class conflict like the socialists do, but it gives preference (quite a lot of it) to racial and, by extension, national interests.

The ‘national interest’ picture that your typical fascist paints require the creation of an embellished idea of a ‘glorious past’. They romanticise the idea of a gone time of prosperity and joy for a nation so well it may put your epical bards to shame. Since it has beloved sentiments for one race or nation on an extreme end of a wide spectrum, like our good friends in the right-wing politics do today, fascism ideals require a manipulative vision of victimisation, resulting in superiority complexes. It requires one race, for example, the whites in 19th-century America, to feel wronged, threatened, superior and/or victimised, through a widespread use of disfigured realities. Our good friends in the Ku Klux Klan represented fascism quite well, before it became a real term in the 20th-century.

The modern world views fascism as the politics of intolerance and authoritarianism with a dollop of conservativism to spice things up, but it is significant to understand that the fascist finds their audience in a malleable mindset. Like all appalling notions that toxify democracy at its roots, fascism in politics today is skillfully perpetrated by establishing and then playing on power asymmetry in a diverse country.

As individuals who are on the internet, bombarded by a constant flow of information and (mis)representation of serious ideals, throwing around terms like ‘fascism’ must frighten us. It must frighten us because it is a callous wrong on our parts to negate the struggles of millions who lived through the worst of fascism, if we are wrong. If we are right, it must frighten us to only talk about it in confined, unreactive spaces when it is already in our homes, ready to burn the truth down.


Feature Image Credits: Slate

Anushree Joshi
[email protected]

In addition to the many prejudices, errs, and the copacetic oversimplifications of the modern man, is the idea that Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy are dystopian concepts which do not have, or never had, the requisite thrust to manifest in the modern circumstances, where it is widely acknowledged that the communication and information technology have made the present world a better place. In simple assumptions and beliefs, Nazism or fascism are rudimentary concepts, unpractical, theoretically unrealistic, and utterly irrational.

In the article, Umberto Eco on Donald Trump: 14 ways of looking at a fascist, released 10 days after the death of Umberto Eco, one of the profound thinkers of the 20th century, the author Lorraine Berry suggested that the Nazis represented the ultimate instance of the rational state and Hitler had a complete philosophy as a dictator. The article further went on to establish the fascistic instincts of Donald Trump, not missing, however, that Donald Trump was actually too dumb to be compared to Adolf Hitler.

So what point am I driving to when I establish the practicality of another Nazi regime, or when I further tell you that according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, there were only 19 countries that had a full democracy in 2016? What trend the world is actually following when extremism and alt-right politics is increasingly taking the global center stage. Everything is pointing to a picture of the world politics which is far removed from the ideals of a democratic society, inching towards a dictatorial world. We may find solace in denial, but the realities are thrown at our faces every other day. But as it is always with realities, they are scrambled pieces, waiting to be put together in a wholesome picture.

In his famous pamphlet, Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Lawrence Britt gives a list of 14 features of a dictatorship. Here are 14 signs of a fascist regime:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe which is manifested in racial, ethnic, or religious minorities.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorised.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion, and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government. Or else the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology are common among government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business and government relationship between the power elite.

10. Labour Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labour is the only real threat to a fascist government, labour unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police is given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright be stolen by the government.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. The assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers, and manipulation of the media, these tricks are blatantly practiced. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

To quote Eco from Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt to conclude, “Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plain clothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism* can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world.”

*Ur-Fascism was his umbrella term for Nazism and similar regimes.


Feature Image Credits: The Federalist Papers

Nikhil Kumar
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Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and that stands for a centralised autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.


In the process of looking up the above definition on Merriam-Webster’s website, I’ve made my contribution towards making fascism Webster’s ‘Word of the Year.’ The word that has been looked up the maximum number of times on the website receives that prestigious position of word of the year. While announcing the likelihood that fascism may become its word of the year, Merriam-Webster took to Twitter to send out an entreaty-“there’s still time to look something else up.”

In related news, Oxford Dictionary has declared ‘post-truth’(relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief) its word of the year, while dictionary.com has gone with xenophobia (dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries). The pattern is hard to miss.

Why this fuss about a ‘word of the year,’ you ask? They tend to reflect the socio-political situation we are currently faced with, though to a largely limited extent. A single word fails to capture the plurality of experiences across the world, but does serve as a mirror image of the ideas that are bandied about in conversations or in the media, virtual or otherwise.

While 2016 cannot be described in a word, our concern lies primarily with the circumstances that have led several thousand across the world to take to the internet and find out what ‘fascism’ or ‘xenophobia’ might mean. Acknowledging such words as ‘words of the year’ would involve accepting the unfortunate idea that such circumstances predominate in the minds of a large number of people, and this can be a scary prospect when it comes to terms like fascism. The world definitely hasn’t forgotten what happened the last time fascism gained ground as an ideology.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights Chief, claims that, “The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists meeting in illicit clubs. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse. In some parts of the USA and Europe, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree.” This rhetoric is evident in Donald Trump’s plan to build an “impenetrable, tall, physical, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the USA and Mexico, and in his suggestion of a ‘register’ for Muslims.

Though Trump occupies pride of place in the media, he isn’t the only one sounding the death knell for liberalism. European politicians like Germany’s Frauke Petry and Sweden’s Jimmie Akesson have been consistently opposed to ‘open-door’ refugee policies. An 89-year old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp recently took to the internet to appeal to people not to vote for a far-right Austrian politician, Norbert Hofer, as their President. She draws similarities between Hofer’s politics and fascism of the pre-second world war period. There have been allegations that India is also currently experiencing fascist undercurrents.

Though Trump has the backing of the people of a democratic nation, having been elected President in a valid election, similarities have also been drawn between Trump’s politics and that of Hitler’s. These similarities, seen not just in Trump but also in several politicians across the world, can be quite appalling.

Maybe looking up other words will help avoid the negativity associated with fascism and xenophobia? But doesn’t the “fear of a name increase fear of the thing itself?”

Maybe we should all look up tolerance instead. Our collective amnesia seems to prevent us from recalling what it means.

 Image credits: Uproxx

Abhinaya Harigovind
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