The Communist’s tryst with fascism (Part 1)
(This is the first of a two-part article. The second part will be published tomorrow.)
Comrade Sitaram Yechury unfailingly uses the space of his ‘Left Hand Drive’ column to attack the RSS, the BJP and Narendra Modi. In fact he uses the patronages of this particular column to spew venom, hurl incoherent expletives and confusedly discuss history in his amateurish attempt at trying to denigrate Hindus and organisations that speak up for them. He also attacks individual leaders of the Right who speak for the need to develop a cohesive and vibrant India. But we know what usually happens to most left hand driven vehicles in India – whether they are thought vehicles or road vehicles – at some point of time they crash. It is an accepted fact, however hard for comrades to digest, that a majority of Indian roads like the majority of the Indian mind and psyche is highly averse and unsuited for left hand driven vehicles as well as for left hand ideologies. Time and again these have been abandoned and junked.
Comrade Yechury has discussed the rising spectre of fascism and has again raised the bogey of the fascist agenda of the RSS to be implemented by Narendra Modi. While doing this he has extensively discussed dates, positions, events, especially related to Hitler and his third Reich. Now this is what I call dated and putrefying scholarship – trying to draw parallels between a 21st century India and one of the most dreadful episodes of world history and a system and ideology that is long past and gone. But this is what the comrades have always done; they have always harked back to an alien past, dissected an alien ideology, embraced it starry-eyed and then forcibly advocated its imposition on the Indian mind and conditions. However, without entering into a detailed analysis of comrade Yechury’s thoughts I would focus on what he discussed extensively – i.e. fascism. He said that the rise of Hindu forces would be the rise of fascism. I shall not focus on the Molotov-Ribbentrop episode, nor discuss the bogus claim of a peoples’ war – these are too well known episodes but comrade Yechury, while conveniently skirting these, has ignored the fact that this period saw the actual inauguration of the era of the Communists’ tryst with fascism.
For those of us who subscribe to the Right of Centre position, comrade Yechury and his followers are the epitome of fascism. Throughout history the comrades have sided with fascist elements, have themselves displayed fascist traits and have often remained silent accomplices in the growth of fascistic forces. The very lumpen proletariat that they condemn has often become their instruments for consolidation of political power. They have often surrendered to these forces for sheer survival. When Taslima Nasreen was thrown out of Kolkata in November 2007, the comrades were bowing down to the dictates of the lumpen proletariat represented by the Islamist fringe. When in February 2009 the comrades got the editor and publisher of one of the oldest dailies of Kolkata The Statesman, arrested, they were willingly ceding political space to this very lumpen fascist proletariat which had brought to standstill central parts of Kolkata in the name of Islam. Comrade Yechury has very deftly avoided these episodes; his only brief was to blindly bludgeon the Hindu Right. Since Comrade Yechury has quoted and cited references to his positions it would be appropriate to do the same in support of what we say.
Let us start quite early. Fascism is built around the cult of one person; any balanced student of history will associate such a cult with Stalin and Mao, both perpetual fountains of inspiration for comrade Yechury and his camp followers. No country and people aspiring to prosperity, freedom and selfhood would ever wish to live through the systems that these “stalwarts” so passionately espoused. Fran Dikotter in his Mao’s Great Famine, says: “Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives,” this is just one example of the havoc that a fascist regime can wreak.
Stalin’s proletarian paradise was, in effect, the hell-hole of fascism. Stéphane Courtois in his paper ‘Crimes of Communism’ gives a list of those liquidated under Stalin’s gaze. The Great Purge between 1937 and 1938 saw the liquidation of almost 690,000 people. Nicolas Werth in his ‘A State Against Its People’ describes how during the Great Terror of 1936 – 1938, the period known as Ezhovshchina, ‘Rule of Ezhov’ referring to Nikolai Ezhov, then head of the dreaded NKVD, saw repression at all levels of Soviet society. Ordinary citizens as well as politburo members were detained, deported and liquidated. The entire period saw 200,000 people affected. Available documents of the period indicate how Stalin “meticulously controlled and directed Ezhov’s every move. He corrected instructions to the NKVD, masterminded all the big public trials, and even wrote the scripts for them.”
Speaking of our climes, it is well known that Indian comrades siding with the reactionary Muslim League supported the demand for Pakistan in the 1940s. Ram Manohar Lohia in his Guilty Men of India’s Partition for example mentions how Communist support to the partition demand “acted like an incubator.” Interestingly, responding to the Muslim League’s hartal in support of its Direct Action in August 1946, the legendary patrician comrade Jyoti Basu, then a communist member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly, made a startling proposition in face of a fascist organisation’s imposed programme. Comrade Basu is reported to have said, according to the leading Amrita Bazar Patrika of August 14, 1946, that his party would support the strike where necessary and oppose the strike where necessary. It ludicrously meant that the comrades would oppose the Muslim League hartal in areas in Calcutta where the Hindus were in a majority and would support the shutdown in areas where the Muslim League dominated! It is in this manner, taking recourse to fascism that comrade Yechury’s mentors saved themselves and survived the vagaries of Indian politics.
Years later AJ Kamra in his heart-rending The Prolonged Partition and Its Pogroms recounted how comrade Basu, now transmuted into the new avatar of a democratically elected Chief Minister of West Bengal, helped settle thousands of Bihari Muslims from Bangladesh in Calcutta, those very Bihari Islamo-fascists who collaborated with the fascist Pakistan Army and the fascist Jamaat in butchering Hindus during 1971. Kamra noted how comrade Basu allowed the Forward Bloc minister in his Cabinet, Kalimuddin Shams, to play “a pivotal role in settling the Bihari Muslims of Bangladesh in and around Calcutta.”
During the 1971 Bangladesh war, comrade Yechury’s party did not condemn the fascist Rezakars of Jamaat and Pakistani Army. Instead, as Mohit Sen, an insider, describes in his insightful A Traveller and the Road, when India sent its Army, the CPI(M) was “taken aback and stated that outside intervention in the internal affairs of another country could only lead to negative consequences.” Yechury’s party, displaying a strong fascistic trait, “never demarcated itself from and much less criticised the Chinese support of the Pakistan military junta and its genocide” in East Pakistan.
(Read the second half of this piece here.)
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Anirban Ganguly is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. He can be followed on twitter at @anirbanganguly.