Thursday, May 29, 2014

World's Largest Democracy Now Ruled by the Extreme Right

The stunning electoral victory of the leader of India’s militant nationalist party, the BJP, may momentarily make Indians hungry for development rejoice, but it is cause for concern for the rest of the world - as well as for India’s Muslims.
The BJP erupted onto the scene in 1984 and has been gaining strength ever since. The new Prime Minister, entrepreneur Narendra Modi, raised the economic profile of his state of Gujarat, however as chief minister he did nothing to stop the 2002 massacre of up to 1000 Muslims in revenge for the alleged murder of 54 Hindu pilgrims who were burned to death on a train. In 2005 this incident caused him to be barred from entering the United States. The fact that, less than ten years later, as Prime Minister of the ‘world’s largest democracy’ he will be received in Washington with all due honors, is not just a matter of issues fading with the passage of time.  It is, rather a sign of the times.

The BJP’s rise coincides with that of France’s far-right nationalist party, the National Front, created in 1972  and led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, a former officer in the French Foreign Legion who has never ceased to mourn the loss of France’s colonies. Having failed to take it seriously, in 1983 France work up to find that the National Front had polled 17% in municipal elections in a town near Paris.  Its electoral performance has continued to pose a threat to center-right parties ever since. Le Pen’s daughter Marianne, succeeded her father at the head of the party in 2010 and her efforts to make it respectable resulted in another shock when it gained third place in the 2012 presidential election.

As in France, right-wing nationalist parties are regular features in most EU countries. Their impact has grown as a result of the economic crisis that began in 2008, making the headlines in countries as diverse as Greece and Norway, largely due to rising immigration from the Third World.

At the same time that it sends hundreds of thousands each year northward, the largest countries of the Third World - or as some commentators prefer to call it, the Non-Western World - are forming a potentially powerful consortium known as the BRICS. If it stays on message, there is every reason to believe the alliance between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will eventually replace the United States as world’s preeminent political force.  
Alas, in early reports of the BJP’s victory, Indian commentators stressed Modi’s close ties with Japan’s return right-wing leader Shinzo Abe, who wants to modify Japan’s postwar constitution to once again make it a  military power, while being silent on Modi’s China views. The Russian on-line site Russia-India Report expresses hope that good relations will continue, however Modi’s election could represent a serious blow to BRICS cohesion. (In a typically alarmist comment, a participant in a France 24 debate today noted that China would now be ‘surrounded’ by India and Japan...)

 Modi’s victory also coincides with the tragic turn of events in Ukraine, where the U.S. literally brought to power (via an investment of $5 billion dollars, according to assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, wife of prominent Neo-conservative historian Robert Kagan and former NATO ambassador under George Bush), a government that relies on Neo-Nazis who trace their roots specifically to World War II.  The MSM has managed to somehow ignore even the most brutal, caught-on-camera atrocities committed by Right Sektor thugs on behalf of the Kiev government, while the American public, largely incapable of locating Ukraine on a map, continues mesmerized by fictional tales of violence.

The sad truth is that fascism is not on the rise solely because political leaders want it to be.  Although the conduct of foreign affairs is out of reach of the average citizen, domestic affairs are not, and of late in countries across the world, fascism has been increasingly alive and well on the street. In the United States, a Nevada rancher’s war with the Federal government over land use brought hundreds of armed citizens belonging to various right-wing anti-government movements from across the country to stand with him. The eminently newsworthy story afforded Cliven Bundy a platform to air his right-wing views, one of which is that slavery, “was better for Black people than the present situation in which they kill their babies and send their men to prison because they never learned how to pick cotton”.
Paired with this, a story currently featured on RT is about a vast California military site at which everything needed to conduct war is stored, repaired and recycled, or order to save the government money. The documentary is pegged to the upcoming removal from Afghanistan of U.S. war materiel, but the guided tour of the site ends with the casual statement that some of the recycled material goes to domestic law enforcement.  
This points to the fact that notwithstanding the power of Western govern-ments, their aggressive international behavior would not be possible were domestic progressive movements not countered by far-right grass roots organizations. Reciprocally, national governments would not allow far-right organizations to flourish if they were truly committed to a progressive ethos. The probability that American military hardware will be used against Bundy’s right-wing supporters as easily as it will against progressive groups asserting their rights, is no consolation. Oligarchy can increasingly be expected to use force not only against foreign enemies, but - as the saying goes - ‘against its own people’.

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