PREM SINGH | 28 JANUARY, 2020
Call After Political Defeat!
On anti-neo-imperialist politics
The title of the article does not refer to the defeat of that politics which stands against the politics imposing neo-imperialist slavery upon the country. That defeat has already been taken place. The reason is that almost all the claimants and intellectuals of socialism, secularism and democracy in the country are against anti-neo-imperialist politics. The experience since 1991, the beginning of the New Economic Policies, amply shows that the intellectual leadership of the country outdid the political leadership in paving the way for neo-imperialist slavery.
When the New Economic Policies were being implemented, Atal Bihari Vajpayee stated that the Congress had taken up the work of the BJP by replacing the Constitution’s socialist system with a capitalist one. The intellectual leadership could not hear the call of fascism then.
Being itself a beneficiary of neoliberal policies, it strengthened its economic status rapidly from the country to abroad at the cost of farmers, labourers and the unemployed. The status of ‘top’ intellectuals and artists, who had already attained wealthy lifestyles on government spending, became more and more entrenched.
It is no longer a hidden truth that the intellectual leadership of the country is determined not to allow the structure and struggle of anti-neo-imperialist politics to become complete and decisive. Even today it proposes that no situation like neo-imperialism or studies or discussions related to it exist in India or the world. It has transformed the meaning of politics, political ideology, political activist and political party by decorating the various retail shops of NGOs and discourses.
This intellectual leadership launched the first united attack on anti-neo-imperialist politics under the auspices of the World Social Forum, a world-level event of the NGO network, in which the slogan of ‘Another world is possible’ was raised. People were told that another world would come into existence against the current neoliberal world without politics. There would be a need to sing, dance and eat together in between.
And for all of this, funding was required. It meant that for the creation of another world there was no need to talk about alternatives to corporate politics. They would let us know when the time was opportune to talk about politics, and what kind of politics to talk about.
That moment arrived soon. The intellectual leadership launched another attack in the form of an anti-corruption movement called India Against Corruption. IAC was a unique scene of NGO mobsters’ actions. From progressive and secular intellectuals to corporate houses, almost everybody queued up in that movement. This time it was joined by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and various religious - social - civic - administrative personalities.
The ‘Gandhian’ Anna Hazare, who was made the face of the movement, praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a ‘Vikas Purush’ (man of development) from his Delhi stage. The humble Modi wrote Hazare a letter of gratitude and warned that enemies would try to mislead him.
But the ‘enemies’ did nothing of the sort. They were already intoxicated with the second-third ‘revolution’. They had no inkling that Narendra Modi could become prime minister. It was worth seeing the naivety of this very intellectual leadership: that two-term prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was all of a sudden painted as dishonest, would be replaced by the ‘honest’ NGO kingpins and that too in such a huge country.
This time they performed the sophistry of non-ideology. They directly attacked the ideology of the Constitution. They told the world and country that an ideology-less politics was the only alternative.
And, thus, a new specimen of corporate politics emerged in the form of the Aam Aadmi Party. Slogans started echoing of ‘Modi for PM, Kejriwal for CM’ and there was no end to the enthusiasm of the intellectuals, who threw away the veils of communism, socialism, social justice, Gandhism, modernism etc. and proactively covered themselves with the ‘Ramnami’ of non-ideology.
For long the neo-imperialist establishment had desired the direct intrusion of NGO players into India’s politics. The anti-corruption movement, which was said to be bigger than the JP movement and of the level of the freedom movement, not only vaulted Narendra Modi, restless in Gujarat, above Advani in the BJP, but also opened the highway to power with an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha for the BJP.
Kiran Bedi’s ‘Chhota Gandhi’, having completed the task, fought that election from Benares and hoisted the flag of Modi's invincibility. In this way the politics of India, set on the axis of the neo-imperialist establishment by removing it from the axis of the Constitution, was strengthened forever.
This dynamics of corporate politics was worth witnessing: India's intellectual leadership was calling the counter-revolution a revolution.
The concerted attack of the intellectual leadership was bound to prove fatal to the already weak political ideology of anti-imperialism, built on and inspired by the values of the freedom struggle and the Constitution.
The attack also proved to be the last nail in the coffin of the Constitution of India. It isn’t without reason that when these intellectuals cite the Constitution while opposing the decisions of the RSS/BJP, the public no longer trusts them.
If the public agitates spontaneously, then these very intellectuals, who have lost credibility by invalidating the Constitution, show up to take possession of that movement, clutching Ambedkar’s photo in their hands.
The phrase ‘political defeat’ in this article refers to the opposition's defeat in the 2019 general election. I have described in detail how this defeat could have been avoided in view of the dissatisfaction among people that was expressed in the last five years. But the opposition contested the election in a retail manner, without proper preparations. The political leadership and the intellectual leadership remained poles apart.
I wrote in June 2018: “The intellectuals and activists of the country who are worried about the basic values of the Constitution - socialism, secularism and democracy - and the erosion of constitutional institutions, should play a positive role in the formation and acceptance of the National Front. In India, leaders have often inspired intellectuals and artists. Now it is the turn of the intellectuals, artists and conscious representatives of the civil society to extend their guidance and co-operation to the leaders in the times of crisis.”
This did not happen last time. If it happens in time for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the chances of defeating the BJP in the realm of corporate politics will increase.
It was no secret what ‘solutions’ the BJP government would propose to the Kashmir problem, the temple-mosque dispute, the Assam NRC problem, and the Citizenship Law. The government has done its work one item after the other. The work of political and intellectual leaders has once again been restricted to only react to the government’s agenda of communal polarisation. It seems that the situation which surfaced between 2014 and 2019 will also remain extant for the next five years.
A cursory glance at the call made after the political defeat shows that progressive or secular citizens have no serious concern about the election of 2024. They feel delight in mere protests. ‘Read this entire article, listen to this speech, watch this video and forward it to as many people as possible – so and so has been silenced, exposed, taught a lesson, played the band, licked the dust’ and so on.
‘The heirs of such and such have come out to save the Constitution, the public has understood the game, people have woken up, Dalits and Muslims have united, the backward have made a ruckus on Manuwad, such a protest was never seen before, a wave of protests have arisen in the universities, the youth of the country are bent upon taking freedom…’ and so on.
Along with this, a variety of contrary sayings, idioms, stories, legends, statements, poems, slogans, jokes are being circulated so as to suggest that the days of the RSS/ BJP/ Modi-Shah and their fascist government are numbered, and it is only a matter of time before they are wiped out.
Amidst all this the question is not asked: If they themselves have all the knowledge and scientific perspective, then why is the agenda of RSS being percolated in such a vast country? Why are innumerable magazines and books overshadowed by just an RSS mouthpiece? Why are the ‘bauddhik’ or knowledge classes held inside RSS shakhas seeming to defeat the doctrines and discourses propounded in national and international seminars?
The fascist character and face of the RSS is being demonstrated repeatedly in order to save democracy. But the basic truth is again being hidden: that constitutional democracy in India was not adopted to serve the present corporate capitalism.
It is also reiterated from some corners that communal polarisation is used to divert attention from the plight of farmers, labourers, small-business owners, the unemployed. This serves to hide the reality that if the country’s economy is not run on the basis of the Constitution’s Directive Principles of State Policy, it will be run on the dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, World Economic Forum, and domestic and foreign corporate houses and politicians-businessmen. The economic plight will continue. The pillar institutions of the economy will continue to be destroyed.
Modi is providing good training in jumlebazi (spin) even to his opponents. Recently, a fellow who cast a curse of death on the Congress said that instead of a National Citizenship Register, a national unemployment register should be prepared instead. Some good people took that jumla hands on. Such wisdom flows after reading the lessons of ideology-free ‘swaraj’ in Kejriwal's school that a simple truth becomes elusive:
If privatisation continues unabated under the corporate capitalist system, there will no longer be permanent jobs.
The intellectual leadership does not want to leave space for proper political preparations against this outright attack of the counter-revolution because if these happen, their visibility is bound to be affected, even if for a short while.
The leadership, in fact, follows the prop of ‘What you see sells’. It is not ready to introspect for a moment about whether it is itself a participant in this counter-revolution. At least in the sense that it did not pursue the agenda of revolution honestly.
As a result, the horrific debris of this counter-revolution has fallen on society.
The problem is that most of the intellectuals of the progressive-secular camp are hidden neoliberalists. They oppose the neoliberal system on one hand and reap its rewards on the other. These people are more dangerous for constitutional sovereignty and values than the open neoliberalists.
However, the new Chief of Army Staff has announced in his first press conference that Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir will be merged into India whenever the government wishes. Pakistan has dismissed the general's announcement as a routine rhetoric meant for public consumption. But such an action can happen before the general election of 2024. If it happens, the election can also be won. And after one more political defeat, the call of protests may continue again for the next five years!
Prem Singh is a teacher of Hindi at Delhi University.