The practice of neo-liberalism for more than two decades has resulted in widening inequality and global poverty. The World Bank has estimated that the number of people living at a poverty line of $1.25 a day is 1.4 billion. With the increasing global food crisis and the rising cost of energy, another 100 million have come into the grip of poverty. Inequality is not only associated with poor, developing nations. Many wealthier nations are also suffering from inequality. The big anti-globalisation movements all over the world were the direct response of the neo-liberal regimes.
The massive protests witnessed during the G20 ministerial meetings in Toronto in June have shown the world that the popularity of global anti-globalisation social movements was still alive. To sustain and expand the movement, the activists and the working people have to be cautious of the fragmentary nature of the growing reactionary and extremist trends in the right and left spectrum. In essence, both these trends have been diverting the peoples movements from the goal of creating an alternative order, based on equitable distribution and social justice, replacing the present corporate-power-based world order.
The possibility for a mass fascist movement exists everywhere. As the unabated exploitative operation of global corporate capital has alienated the vast working population from getting basic necessities, a section of them opt for either right or left extremist courses. Even in Europe, although the serious neo-Nazi parties like the British National Party (BNP) in England and the Front National in France are far from taking power and the people rejected them in recent national elections, they have the potential to become contenders in a more serious crisis. So the working people have to be mobilized in the mass movement under a definite, progressive agenda.
The deterioration in the anti-corporate movement would create fertile ground for fascism and extremism. The emergence of Tea Party groups in the US, with their cries for states rights, hatred of dark-skinned immigrants, and their disparaging attitude towards the government programs for the poor calls for the Left to instill a great deal of vigor in the anti-corporate movement.
Like the Tea-Party right in the US, right-wing groups are active in many countries in Asia. They divert attention of the people from concentrating and agitating on the issues related to the social security, public education, unemployment insurance, etc. Although voted out of power in 2004, Indias main opposition party, the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with its ideology rooted in Hindu religious fanaticism, still enjoys the support of a large section of people, particularly in Northern India. The ruling Congress Party-led coalition is pursuing neo-liberal policies which are detrimental to the livelihood of poor. The BJP is taking up issues like rising prices to regain and strengthen the mass support. However, its parent body, the notorious Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (national volunteer corps-RSS) is actively promoting religious hatred between Hindus and minorities mainly Muslims and Christians. If the discontent of the people due to the neo-liberal policies of the government is not properly channelled towards the Left agenda, the danger of recapturing power by the Right still exists in India. The Left has to surge ahead, challenging the diversionary mobilisation of the people by both the Hindu and Muslim extremism.
On the Left spectrum, the Maoist insurgency raging through Indias rural heartlands is weakening and diverting the energetic anti-neoliberal peoples movement. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has been indulging in series of violent attacks. In the state of Chhattisgarh, 76 paramilitaries were killed in April and a train derailment blamed on Maoist rebels in May caused the death of 149 civilians. With daily reports of assassinations, extortion and police gun battles, 389 civilians, 177 members of security forces and 144 insurgents were killed in the first six months of this year. The annual death toll is expected to far exceed the 997 people killed in 2009.
Their attacks and killings of cadres and supporters of Indias prominent Left party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is committed to democracy, are utterly untenable. The Maoists are continuously unleashing hatred campaign against the state government of West Bengal, which is one of three state governments headed by the CPI (Marxists).
The left extremism precludes the participation of common people against the corporate plunder of Indias mineral potential. Recently, they attacked the 267-kilometer pipeline to pump the slurry to the east coast, from the Bailadila Hills in central India, which is full of 1.1 billion tons of raw ore, the largest iron deposits on the planet. Opposing the exploitation of natural resources by the big companies through peoples mobilization and mass resistance is acceptable. But individual attacks have no use at all.
The Indian government estimated that the Maoists had influence in 220 of the nations 626 districts. But the ruling establishment gives attention only on the law-and-order aspect by strengthening police forces, modernization of police stations, etc., while neglecting the basic issues of the people living the tribal and backward areas affected by the Maoist insurgency. The deprivation of poor from access to education, health care etc., has made them fall prey to the Maoist propaganda.
Both the left extremism of the Maoists and the religious extremism of the right wing RSS are doing havoc to the onerous task of building national mass resistance against the neo-liberal regime in India.
The Left and the progressive movements across the world have not only to be vigilant over these tendencies, but also make the people conscious of the dangers posed by the Right and Left extremism.
N. Gunasekaran is a political activist and writer based in Chennai, India.
From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2010
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