Dec 8, 2006

Hindu Fascism

The excellent blog sketchythoughts recently posted an interview with a South Asian antifascist living in New York City, along with an analysis of the interview. The whole thing is worth reviewing, but in particular the questions it prompts around the class composition of fascist movements. Based on his experiences fighting Hindu fascism in North America, the interviewee concludes that wealthier segments of the Indian population in the diaspora are more supportive of Hindu fascism than are working class or poor folks.

“Mathew explains that the Hindu far-right draws most of its support from the well educated professional middle class. Not surprisingly, this is in direct contradiction to the liberal myth that it is the “backwards” and poor classes which are drawn to fascism – while i certainly don’t want to pretend that the global far right is homogenous, there are many many other examples of fascism growing within the most “advanced” and “modern classes,” regardless of the traditionalist drag they may hid behind.”

This may well be the case, but it would be interesting to research the question more fully, and to think about the differences between fascist movements in exile/diaspora and those in the “fatherland,” so to speak. Some commentators (mostly from the right) seem to make a similar point in the case of Islamic fascism – whether or not the term is used with any precision. That is, the support base for Al-Qaeda and other groupings is thought to be largely in the underclasses in the middle east and Central/South Asia, while many of the targets of counter-terrorism investigations in the US and Europe are educated, often wealthy, immigrants from the middle east or Central/South Asia. I don’t know whether this assessment is accurate (in either the Hindu or Muslim cases), and I’m not sure what all the implications would be for anti-fascism, but it’s worth pursuing.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, I'm not sure. To me this is to some extent an unanswered question. But I am deeply troubled by, for instance, the post-2004-election liberal 'anti-fascist' sentiment that was essentially little more than bourgesois snobbery equating fascism with the the
'red state' working class.

Sakai writes that "Fascism is a revolutionary movement of the right against both the bourgeoisie and the left, of middle class and declassed men, that arises in zones of protracted crisis" (Confronting Fascism: Discussion Documents for a Militant Movement). So Sakai's analysis goes along with that description of Hindutva fascism's base. There are particular beliefs about the 'material basis' of ideology that informs this claim, which I don't always grasp.

It seems to evident me that the base of fascism is always a class of people who think they have been denied something they rightfully deserve by nature of their identity. This is almost a definition of the motivating ideology of popular fascism. But, certainly the working class is capable of believing they have been denied something they rightfully deserve by nature of their identity as the working clas. That's the whole idea of the proletarian revolution, ain't it? So obviously that's not all there is to fascism.

Fascist popular motivation is always about blaming those 'below' you AND those 'above' you for both taking what is rightfully yours. And it's usually believed to be yours by virtue of your national identity specifically.

I don't know the answer. But when considering the make-up of proto-fascist formations in the US, it's worth considering the STO/Sakai line that the white working class in the US isn't really a proletariat at all. But I don't know the answer. Likely there are differnet things going on in different parts of the world--while in one sense a fascist resurgence seems like a global phemenon, in another each local movement is locally situated too.


Anonymous said...

For what it’s worth, STO never believed that “the white working class in the US isn’t really a proletariat at all.” In fact, they were harshly critical of other (mostly) white anti-imperialist groups like Prairie Fire precisely because those groups had written off the white segments of the working class. For a bit more on this, you can check out and other posts from my blog. To the best of my knowledge, no former STO members hold this position either (although admitedly I’ve only established contact with a fraction of them).

While we’re at it, it seems important to point out that STO also never identified with Maoism, although a small number of dissident members did in the early seventies. But even a casual glance at the materials up on the STO web archive will show that Mao is almost never mentioned in the group’s literature, and that the political trajectory of the organization was much more a form of unorthodox Leninism. They did consider themselves ML’s for a time, but Maoism was an alien tradition and not of great interest, except insofar as it led to criticisms of the Revolutionary Union (now RCP) and other groups. See for instance: