Indian History & Sangh Parivar (Was: Medieval India)

J.B. Sharma JSHARMA at Hermes.GC.PeachNet.EDU
Tue Dec 5 15:09:51 UTC 1995

Mark Tritsch wrote :

Why call anybody fascist? Either because you want to insult them 
(unwise in the west, downright foolish in India), or because you want 
a word to describe their ideas. Let's stick to the second.

I think "fascism" describes a set of overlapping and sometimes 
contradictory beliefs that first became fashionable in continental 
Europe in the 1920s:
1) A return to the ancient traditions of the race
2) Militaristic, corporativistic social organisation
3) Leadership cult
4) National self-reliance
5) Respect for labor - full employment
6) Aggressively nationalistic foreign policy

Although it's the combination of all these that makes for trouble, 
the first three seem to be the most important. 

...... That's why I say: let's call a spade a spade - it 
doesn't stop us talking to the man holding the spade.

Mark Tritsch

 I think that your analysis has sincere intent and I agree on 
several points; But I dont buy the part of the argument to ensure 
that labels have to be affixed and code words loaded as a condition of 
the debate. This puts speaking about a particular issue synoymous 
with being a fascist. This pollutes the discussion at best.

 Secondly, the analogies derived by comparison to the recent European 
experience are not vaild as the conditions on the ground are quite 
different. No political party has been calling for return to ancient 
traditions of race; The continuity of ancient traditions of caste 
(not race) continue uninterrupted to order social life (wether that be 
good or bad) on the subcontinent. There is no exact equivalent of the 
word Dharma in English.  There is no case of a sudden discovery of an 
ancestral past as in he case of 18th Century Europe, fuelled by the 
likes of Gobineau and company. There is no charismatic leader 
comparable to Hitler or Mussolini in India, and these folks are 
working thru the democartic process. I seriously doubt that the body 
politic will put up with a Bosnia type senario, no matter who is 
elected in India.

 However, you are correct in pointing out the cynical expolitation of 
the masses and xenophobia in the name of Hindutva. You are also 
correct about the power of the word of academics. They remain the 
lens thru which societies and cultures view each other. This assumes 
a new dimension with instant inforamtion sharing. My basic point, and 
none other, is that Hindu fundamentalism can only be understood in 
the context of Muslim fundamentalism in the region, and they both 
feed off of each other. All of this is rooted in the history of 
medevial India, a discussion of which always invokes namecalling in 
subtle and not so subtle ways. A scholarly consensous of the history 
of the times would be a first step in unlocking the tangled and 
competing premisis all kinds of movements in the sub-continent are 
based on. A commonly shared vison, no matter how sordid, also 
breathes hope for the future . I would be interested in a scholarly 
refutation (or references thereof) which would systematically 
demolish the compilation of Sita Ram Goel and Elst's subsequent 
thesis. The branding iron is quite unecessary ...

J.B. Sharma


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