Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Anna’s social fascism (Kancha Ilaiah)

Anna's social fascism
Kancha Ilaiah

September 7, 2011

The recent happenings in Delhi around the issue of the Lokpal Bill
have been celebrated by the media as people's victory, pinned down on
Team Anna Hazare. But the majority of the "masses" of this country,
living in institutional caste and class enclosures, are not yet part
of the "civil society" that the victorious group was talking about.

The so-called anti-corruption movement, therefore, needs to be
examined from a multi-dimensional perspective. For example, I see it
as a modern Manuvaadi Leviathan's victory. Manu's modern disciples
walked into the Ramlila Maidan to celebrate the rise of a modern
Levia-than, decorated in Gandhi topi.

This 21st century "social" Leviathan walked into the maidan as the
enemy of corruption, but he sought to set aside the Constitution
(maybe because it was drafted under the chairmanship of a dalit) and
throw overboard the supremacy of Parliament that came into existence
to dismantle the fascist social structures that existed for centuries
in the form of Varna Dharma. Vande Mataram was its slogan and the
national flag (not its own flag) became the symbol of its street

Social fascism becomes the reality of a civil society that constructs
a moral basis of its own. A middle class like the Indian one, which
has erected strong caste enclosures around itself, looks for morality
to serve its own interests. Corruption in general becomes a buzzword
of condemnation within its day-to-day discourse, despite the fact that
it lives with corrupt practices on a daily basis. For example, a
middle-class government or NGO functionary does not hesitate to take
Rs 1 lakh or more as salary, plus thousands of rupees of honorarium
and sitting fees, but that same person would treat a chaprasi, who
works for a Rs 5,000 monthly salary, as corrupt if he/she asks for Rs
200 for extra work.

The civil society that led the anti-corruption crusade also does not
see corporate houses paying hundreds of crores of bribe money as
corruption, but, a minister, an MP or a government official, who takes
such bribe money is seen as corrupt because the corporate houses are
still in the hands of "their people", while the political and
bureaucratic positions are slipping into the hands of people who are
"corrupt by birth".

Take, for example, A. Raja and Kanimozhi. They are treated as corrupt
but the corporate houses that gave kickbacks and took huge contracts
at throwaway prices are not treated as corrupt. The same corporate
houses and their media boxes have been mobilising civil society of
Gandhi topi into maidans to fight corruption.

In an unethical capitalist market like ours, whoever takes more space
in English TV channels can portray themselves as clean. That very
media can become a source of mobilisation of mobs to define corruption
as they want. Any other mode of defining corruption is treated as
illiterate rhetoric.

If the chant of Vande Mataram has the power to empower civil society,
it also has the power to destabilise democratic institutions that gave
life to the poorest of the poor and the lower castes, particularly
India's Muslims.

The high moral ground on which the Hindu middle class stands is a
breeding ground for social fascism. The poor and lower castes have
fought huge battles to checkmate saffron social fascists in the last
20 years. Now the same forces have come to occupy centrestage wearing
the Gandhi topi.
I wish all those who came to Ramlila Maidan in Gandhi topi would also
send their children to schools in Gandhi's dress code.

But back home they prefer suits and boots for their children who go to
a St. Mary or St. Peter's, and not to a Mahatma Gandhi or a St. Hazare
school. Corruption is not just economic practice; it is also cultural
practice. Social fascism does not want us to see that inter-linkage,
though it knows that such linkage exists.

Social fascism always lives in duplicity. It uses Sanskrit as its
temple language, Hindi for maidan speeches and English as its office
language. Hypo-crisy is its innate cultural being. It pretends to be
simple in public life but its dining table has to have all items that
the corporate market supplies with brand names.

Team Anna does not think that the Indian corporate houses are corrupt
because they are supplying all the cameras that show them as crusaders
out there in the new avatar of Gandhi. The social fascist ideology
treats corruption as a one-way process. Any process of flow of money
to the poor and lower castes in the Indian context is treated as a
process of corruption or economic waste. But de-ployment of market
prices by monopoly traders that acquire huge margins of profits,
without subjecting themselves to state regulations, is not treated as

Take, for example, all Bollywood heroes and heroines who joined the
anti-corruption bandwagon — most are people who evaded taxes. Team
Anna believes that the agendas that have the potential to establish
equa-lity among people or at least change the basic life of the
oppressed masses need not exist in the national discourse at all. The
nation is being shown in the image of Bharat Mata who controlled and
manipulated the consciousness of oppressed people for decades, and
that image is being shown to the others, minute by minute, 24x7,
making them shiver.

Fascism now lives in pucca houses and democracy has been sent to a
shed. Social fascism treats hierarchical ordering of the society as
natural. Any economic redistributive mechanism put in place by the
state or a civil society organisation is treated as corrupt and
unethical. When corruption is seen through the glasses of this upper
caste middle class, it appears to them that it has a legal solution
and that legality is crafted in its own terms. It doesn't want to
understand that the dharma of the oppressor has always worked against
the interest of the oppressed.

Social fascism emerges when a nation is in a deep crisis of moral
confidence. It formulates itself in the layers of civil society and
moves on to occupy the portals of political power. This happened in
many countries — Germany, Italy and so on. In all countries where
social fascism emerged victorious, it emanated from the fold of middle
class that asserts a high moral ground for itself. That high moral
ground generally gets established around the theory that it is

Kancha Ilaiah is director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion
and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad


Get all ZESTCaste mails sent out in a span of 24 hours in a single mail. Subscribe to the daily digest version by sending a blank mail to, OR, if you have a Yahoo! Id, change your settings at

On this list you can share caste news, discuss caste issues and network with like-minded anti-caste people from across India and the world. Just write to

If you got this mail as a forward, subscribe to ZESTCaste by sending a blank mail to OR, if you have a Yahoo! ID, by visiting

Also have a look at our sister list, ZESTMedia:! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive