India’s rightwing parties have been caught unawares. A part of them would really like to take a bow over the 100 odd pages that Anders Breivik has dedicated to them, but they are aware that this is not quite the right time. Among the analyses that are now unfolding – the script is one-dimensional – the inspiration from Hindutva forces has larger dimensions. It is not surprising that Ram Madhav, senior RSS leader, said:
“His entire so-called manifesto quotes conservative writers from both sides of the Atlantic. Ideological similarities have been drawn from all over, so to say suddenly that it is linked to Indian nationalists or Hindutva is simply motivated propaganda.”
Is the RSS not among the first when it comes to accusations for any scrap of paper by a Muslim individual or group? How can this be motivated propaganda when it is there in Breivik’s words and the rightwing parties were bookmarked and quoted from? It is also pertinent to point out that Mr. Madhav has used the terms “Indian nationalists and Hindutva” interchangeably. This echoes Breivik.
As I said, they would have liked to take credit but political reasons prevent them from doing so. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Vinod Bansal said:
“Most of what he has to say makes no sense, except the bit about appeasing Muslims is right. Basically, the UPA government under Sonia Gandhi has been indulging in it and also framing policies in such a way that the whole country is converted to Christianity.”
The theory of appeasement denotes a supremacist credo, the benevolence of malevolence. Critics of Islam object to the one and only one god idea, but is such scriptural supremacy manifested in everyday life? Supremacy is essentially a moral belief, and even if such morality is non-religious it follows a religious paradigm of one against the other. The subtext is righteousness.
It cares little for history. Just as the Hindutva fundamentalists do not take into account the subversive nature of the older dynasties that ravaged Jain and Buddhist places of worship, it is only fitting that Breivik thinks that their contemporary stance is proper as they “do not tolerate the current injustice and often riot and attack Muslims when things get out of control”.
Injustice in the supremacist scheme of things is a delusion. It gives the moral right to set things right. There is no attempt at looking for truth. Truth is the need for reaction and for reclamation. Such truth needs enemies. As the Norwegian outlined, “Instead of attacking the Muslims, they should target the category A and B traitors in India and consolidate military cells and actively seek the overthrow of the cultural Marxist government. It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical.”
The Indian rightwing hardly ever operates as resistance movements; they are sanctified as power centres, form elected governments and use the establishment machinery. They do not need military cells because they can influence popular sentiment using the culture argument. Most societies cannot function in a vacuum. They need the moorings of heritage. However modern the façade may be, the core is essentially a historical relic.
Hindutva forces have long fantasised of a Hindu rashtra, a theocratic state. The major roadblock is not the Indian Constitution but the sheer number of Muslims. It would be, quite understandably, difficult to annihilate such a large section of the people. The country is challenged by its own avowed post-Independence canon – to be a secular republic. This, as it turns out, is dogmatic, for a set of rules and legal tools cannot function on a national scale, especially if it seeks a pluralistic vision. Pragmatism defeats idealism. It gives rise to a neo-idealism to break free of such constrained freedom that postulates you belong to everyone.
The Islamic creed has no such problems because it accepts the subservience to Allah. Therefore, whatever the ‘jihadis’ do, it purports to be in god’s name. A polytheistic society would tend to be more lax and spread out. In the political arena, this amounts to looking for a godhead.
Breivik’s bibliography has resulted in most people distancing themselves but only as real activators; their work and ideology reeks of the same fetid smell of Islamophobia. Eugene Robinson comments on this trend in The Washington Post:
“At least one anti-Muslim blogger had the decency to acknowledge feeling ‘terrrible’ about being cited in Breivik’s writings…Unfortunately, the blogger went on to write that Breivik’s ‘total lack of respect for human life is not, however, something he can have picked up from me, or from any of the other Islam-critical writers I know. . . . Indeed, the lack of respect for human life is often one of the great shortcomings of Islamic culture that we have consistently pointed out’. Think about the implications of that last sentence. If Muslims have no respect for human life, why should anyone respect their lives? Or, for that matter, the lives of the government officials who invite Muslims to live among us? Or the lives of the sons and daughters of such traitorous quislings?”
The anti-immigrant lobbies have been active for a long time, and it is not Muslims alone who are targeted. However, once the “war on terror” became akin to a statute bill people had a carte blanche to ‘be safe rather than sorry’. On the surface, this appears as survival instinct; scratch the skin and you will find hollow bones echoing the dissonant voices of victims. No one seems particularly bothered that the victims are nameless and not specially chosen in most cases.
How then can such a supremacist cult work? Breivik followed the Alex Curtis model, it would seem. Curtis of San Diego was ahead of 9/11. He believed that all non-Whites must be finished off. His preference was to work alone, as the “lone wolf”. He did not believe in any sort of apologia, for that would negate the basis of his beliefs. There was also a planned agenda.
Breivik is not a White supremacist. His anti-immigrant ideas are to preserve the purity of the European ethos and this makes him naturally anti-immigrant. The multiculturalism he is against has room for supporting other movements, though. It is a curious anomaly that, much like the Indian caste system, he wanted to create a “servant class” that would be from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, but all non-Muslim. Entry into his temple of doom obviously was to be limited.
His manifesto states:
“During their stay, they will work 12 hours a day for the duration of their contracts (6 or 12 months) and are then flown back to their homelands…These individuals will live in segregated communities in pre-defined areas of each major city.”
In India, and Mumbai at that, the Shiv Sena wanted migrants from other cities to go back to where they came from. Bangladeshi families who have been living in India for 30 years and more are not only seen as a nuisance – although they work as labour and are sold as prostitutes – but are now terror suspects, too, when we run out of Pakistanis.
The problem with such movements is that they transform indigenous populations into psychological immigrants. The questions one poses immediately become sectarian and emphasise one’s otherness.
A devious argument is that post 9/11 and post Mumbai’s 2008 attacks India and the West, in this case the US, have suffered due to a common enemy. This is a complete lie that is buffered by the Indian elite who flaunted their Taj Hotel and marketed what they saw as the destruction of the country’s progress. It was a shameless attempt at empathy and identification with the Twin Towers, the Manhattan skyline already familiar to Indians through a few upmarket Bollywood films. At last, we had internationalised our sorrow and found a common opponent. The Islamist. This wiped out India’s 16 million Muslims, who had to play quasi nationalists, since real nationalism had been barricaded.
This terrorist attack whitewashed the Bombay riots of 1992-93 and of Gujarat in 2002, both with the connivance of Hindutva political groups that got propped up following such acts.
It is quite disingenuous that Breivik, while admired in the silent chambers of xenophobic thought, is projected as mad. It is disconcerting to note that this terrorist is in the mainstream projected as a “gunman” and as one report said a “paranoid warrior”.
His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, believes:
“This whole case indicates that he’s insane. He believes that he’s in a war and that when you’re in a war you can do things like that without pleading guilty.” Worse, he could be seen as clinically insane and not be jailed at all because he “has a view on reality that is very, very difficult to explain”.
Any act of terror is difficult to explain because it is not rational, much like a belief system. You do not know anything about god or the afterlife, and yet there are millions of devotees across the world. Breivik could well have been sitting at the feet of a levitating guru in the many yoga centres that have sprouted in the West. He chose a more violent method to project his virulence. This itself proves that he operated as a lone wolf but made sure that he aligned himself with the right groups.
Unintentionally, he has exposed the world to phobias that live off phobias.
(C) Farzana Versey
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Also published in Countercurrents, July 31