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Fascism's Firm Footprint in India(page 3 of 3)  Lloyd Jeffrey Mallan
 Sep 28, 2002 03:16 PDT 

Fascism's Firm Footprint in India
(page 3 of 3)

Fascism is about the slow, steady infiltration of all the instruments of
state power. It's about the slow erosion of civil liberties, about
unspectacular, day-to-day injustices. Fighting it does not mean asking
for RSS shakhas and madrassahs that are overtly communal to be banned.
It means working toward the day when they're voluntarily abandoned as
bad ideas. It means keeping an eagle eye on public institutions and
demanding accountability. It means putting your ear to the ground and
listening to the whispering of the truly powerless. It means giving a
forum to the myriad voices from the hundreds of resistance movements
across the country that are speaking about real issues--about mining,
about bonded labor, marital rape, sexual preferences, women's wages,
uranium dumping, weavers' woes, farmers' worries. It means fighting
displacement and dispossession and the relentless, everyday violence of
abject poverty.

While most people in India have been horrified by what happened in
Gujarat, many thousands of the indoctrinated are preparing to journey
deeper into the heart of the horror. Look around you and you'll see in
little parks, in empty lots, in village commons, the RSS is marching,
hoisting its saffron flag. Suddenly they're everywhere, grown men in
khaki shorts marching, marching, marching.

Historically, fascist movements have been fueled by feelings of national
disillusionment. Fascism has come to India after the dreams that fueled
the freedom struggle have been frittered away like so much loose change.
Independence itself came to us as what Gandhi famously called a "wooden
loaf"--a notional freedom tainted by the blood of the hundreds of
thousands who died during Partition. For more than half a century now,
that heritage of hatred and mutual distrust has been exacerbated, toyed
with and never allowed to heal by politicians. Over the past fifty years
ordinary citizens' modest hopes for lives of dignity, security and
relief from abject poverty have been systematically snuffed out. Every
"democratic" institution in this country has shown itself to be
unaccountable, inaccessible to the ordinary citizen and either unwilling
or incapable of acting in the interests of genuine social justice. And
now corporate globalization is being relentlessly and arbitrarily
imposed on India, ripping it apart culturally and economically.

There is very real grievance here. The fascists didn't create it. But
they have seized upon it, upturned it and forged from it a hideous,
bogus sense of pride. They have mobilized human beings using the lowest
common denominator--religion. People who have lost control over their
lives, people who have been uprooted from their homes and communities,
who have lost their culture and their language, are being made to feel
proud of something. Not something they have striven for and achieved,
but something they just happen to be. Or, more accurately, something
they happen not to be.

Unfortunately there's no quick fix. Fascism itself can only be turned
away if all those who are outraged by it show a commitment to social
justice that equals the intensity of their indignation. Are we ready,
many millions of us, to rally not just on the streets but at work and in
schools and in our homes, in every decision we take, and every choice we

Or not just yet...

If not, then years from now, when the rest of the world has shunned us,
as it should, like the ordinary citizens of Hitler's Germany, we too
will learn to recognize revulsion in the gaze of our fellow human
beings. We too will find ourselves unable to look our own children in
the eye, for the shame of what we did and didn't do. For the shame of
what we allowed to happen.

Freedom in our time!
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