Fascism, Fundamentalism and Patriarchy

[This article was written by Anuradha Gandhy in 2001 on the verge of the reactionary Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi becoming the chief minister of Gujarat, where in the Gujarat riots of 2002 fascist Hindu nationalists murdered thousands of Muslims in what became billed as “The Final Solution.”  Modi, now the newly-elected Prime Minister of India, is moving to consolidate even more repressive power on a national level, forge even stronger collaborative relations with imperialism and with Zionism, expand the military and arms-export industries, enforce an exclusive Hindu-language public usage in a country where 60% of the people speak non-Hindu languages, and further intensify patriarchal and caste-driven relations and attacks on adivasi peoples.  The following article, pathbreaking when it was written, provides significant analysis and background on relations which have only become more oppressive. — Frontlines ed.]

Anuradha Gandhy– [from Wikipedia: “Anuradha Ghandy (1954 – April 12, 2008) was an Indian communist, writer, and revolutionary leader. She was a member of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist. She was mostly involved in propaganda, and in CPI(Maoist)’s insurgency into urban areas. Among the policy papers drafted by the Marxist movement, Anuradha had contributed significantly to the ones on castes and ‘Feminism and Marxism’. She made the guerillas realise the potential of worker cooperatives in areas like agricultural production, in Dhandakaranya. She was also critical on shifting patriarchal ideas that were then dominant in the party.”  —  Frontlines ed.]

 

Exactly one year after the carnage in Gujarat began; the country is still reeling from the horror of the events. Narendra Modi’s expected victory in the assembly elections has further strengthened the position of the Hindutva fascist forces not only in Gujarat but also in the country as a whole. Reviewing the strategy of Hindutva forces and the lessons from Gujarat become even more relevant now. Here we are concerned with the impact of the Hindutva fascist forces on women and on the women’s movement.

The agenda of the Hindu fascist forces is political. Their strategy is the maximum political mobilisation of the Hindu masses and their aim is the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra. It will be noticed that the present phase of Hindu fascist growth can trace its growth with the neo-liberal economic policies of the early 1980s. And the aggressive policies of economic reforms and globalisation of the 1990s is accompanied with the aggressive policies of Hindutva. The reasons for this is not far to seek: the policies of economic reform have led to the extreme impoverisation of, not only a large section of the masses, but even of sizable sections of the middle classes; so there was urgent need to divert peoples’ attention from their mass destitution through the whipping up a frenzy against Muslims and other minorities. Besides, mass anger against the blatant capitulation to the imperialists, particularly the US, is sought to be diverted through fake nationalism, like slogans of cultural nationalism and Hindu Rashtra.

The extreme and continued polarisation of Hindu society in Gujarat along religious lines, the sense of brazen confidence with which the attacking, looting and killing was carried out and the active participation of a section of the women from the upper castes, shows that the Hindu fascist forces have been successful in Gujarat in taking their agenda forward. They have penetrated and succeeded in converting a section of the Hindu masses to their ideology and imbue them with the goal of Hindu Rashtra. What horror this portends for the oppressed sections — the lower castes, women, especially women of minority communities and the poor —does not need mention.

Growing Fundamentalism Worldwide — What it means for Women

The rise of Hindu fascist forces is part of the world-wide rise of fundamentalism and fascism.. Imperialism faced with its worst ever crisis since the inter-war years is encouraging and promoting fundamentalist forces and fascist organisations and propaganda. “Imperialism strives for reaction everywhere” Lenin. As Hawley has argued, “fundamentalist perspectives on gender cast a uniquely revealing light on the nature of fundamentalism as a whole.” As it is, all religions have been patriarchal in the moral code they sanction and the social arrangements they uphold. And one of the central points of fundamentalist propaganda is a conservative ideology of gender — all fundamentalist forces, be they of the Christian denominations in the US, or Hindu, or the New Religions in Japan or Islamic forces — they proclaim the specific agenda of restoring the centrality of the family and home in the life of women and patriarchal control over her sexuality. Hence ideologues of the New Right even in the US are claiming that there is a moral crisis in American society and this is because of the fact that women are working outside the home. Though they have mobilised actively around opposition to abortion rights for women, they begin by arguing that welfare state expenditures have raised taxes and added to inflation, pulling the married woman into the labour force and thereby destroying the fabric of the patriarchal family and hence the moral order of society. According to Jerry Falwell of the Moral majority, “ children (in the US) should have the right to the love of the mother and a father who understand their different roles and fulfil their different responsibilities…to live in an economic system that makes it possible for husbands to support their wives as full time mothers in the home and enable the families to survive on one income instead of two.” Continue reading