Merrily at Work: Clash of Civilizations

Narendra Modi to the left of LK Advani during his W rath Yatra Courtesy Daily Yo
Narendra Modi to the left of LK Advani during his (W) rath Yatra-Courtesy Daily O

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In 1993 an essay appeared in a US journal: “Clash of Civilisations” by Samuel Huntington which later appeared as a book [The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington]. In the very first chapter we find: “One grim Weltanschauung [“philosophy (of life)”] for this new era was well expressed by the Venetian nationalist demagogue in Michael Dibdin’s novel, Dead Lagoon: “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birth right, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.” The unfortunate truth in these old truths cannot be ignored by statesmen and scholars. For peoples seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential, and the potentially most dangerous enmities occur across the fault lines between the world’s major civilizations.” [Italics ours.]

But this theory was at work since long, even before the above publication or ‘theorisation’ overtly: though it is difficult to point at some exact date of the start of its field trails, we may point to some time or some year in between 1979 and 1982 or may be a little later.

The so-called Iranian revolution was almost an ‘watershed’ year in history in the sense that a ‘revolution’ against imperialist-supported monarchist-dictatorial regime did not, ultimately, talked about ‘socialism’, some left-sounding-rhetoric, a little ‘internationalist’ appeal, even as much as shared by say, the then PLA – ultimately, because the workers-peasants’ force in that revolution got defeated and crushed by the Islamist forces. The US started an indirect venture, it started aiding Iraq to fight Iran, a devastating decade-long war followed. Almost simultaneously the US got another ground: the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan proliferated forces who were anti-Soviet and anti-PDPA-regime and USA gladly started helping the Mujahedeen forces and factions. Inside India too different things were happening from the start of the nineteen-eighties: communal elements using Assam agitation could become successful in conspiring the Nellie Massacre: thousands of Muslims killed in a day, while on the other end, using the expression used by Dr Anirudh Kala (in his Two & Half Rivers), the P3 in the process of P1→P2→P3 were showing fault-lines (interested readers may please go through the splendid book: “Panjab · Journeys Through Fault Lines” of Amandeep Sandhu). From 1987 onwards the ‘Prime Time’ of the then India’s only TV Channel countrywide available stated showing Ramayana and then started Mahabharata, in 1988 the TV serial gave birth to the slogan Jai Sri Ram; and interestingly the ‘sponsors’ of these mega or giga powered serials were MNCs – Indian branches of Dunlop, Unilever and etc. BJP’s MP seats grew from 2 in 1984 to 85 in 1989. Advani’s Ram Rath Yatra toured India in 1990. The day after it crossed Purulia district of West Bengal, a communal riot flared up there taking many lives. Well, we know about Babri Mosque destruction in 1992, riots all over India including Bombay riots, and then cropping up of different ‘mujaheedin’ or ‘laskar’ etc groupings in this subcontinent. While Sri Krishna Commission report of Bombay Riot gathered dust. The ‘left’ contributed their bit by performance of West Bengal Govt in Sachar Committee report; with about 26% of state’s population being Muslim in govt jobs they figured 2.6% or something like that, making WB the most discriminating state in this count.

Instead of writing on recent happenings, let me give here (translated version of) what two friends, Nizamuddin (who publishes a Bengali journal Ei Muhurte kichhu bhavna) and Arijit Saha wrote in the FB post: “One religious fundamentalism organizes another – if that is in slumber it pokes and stokes till it is awakened and then call it in a duel to fight. One fans up the other, bolsters the other.

“There are always lots of other type of interests that work behind the scene. And if people can be kept divided into various antithetical divisions, if one section hates all others, those sitting behind can continue their plunder. Nupur Sharma works for those behind-the-scene players. And one of their motives is to make people forget the burning problems they are facing: price-rise, unemployment, low-income, discriminations, exploitation and etcetera.

“We have to decide whether we will go forward to fight the problems united or we step into the trap. Will your problem be solved by making your neighbour your enemy?

“PS: There had been protests including road and railway blockades against the insult of Prophet of the Muslims in which a section of the Muslims in India participated. But perhaps it is not that single act of BJP or Nupur Sharma that made this possible: there had been a series of attacks on minorities and what was seen was a manifestation of accumulated discontent.

“When some people of one religious community go on heckling the other communities continuously, and governments act as onlookers then if we only say that ‘BJP will gain from it’, ‘this sort of protest will create more advantage for BJP’ while we do not protest, then they will obviously not like to listen to our lecturing and would rather think of responding to the call of religious leaders.”

A de-facto Hindu State where protesters on ground are overwhelmingly Muslim in religion, and also other minorities, Tribe-people, Dalits, … and there are some ‘liberals’ though mostly in social-media and/or media. Let me shut up.

Voices from the oppressed and toiling people matter. Let us try to amplify that. They may be insignificant right now as organised forces, but if and when they hit the roads, they can still make some difference – it is only 6 months that farmers went home after continuous 381 days around Delhi. Can we forget so easily those days? Can we forget that Lota-Nun oath ( Can we forget last year’s June 26 (Democracy Day) and June 30 (Hool rebellion day) as observed by the farmers ( Can we forget the now-happening anti-eviction anti-deforestation movements in several states including the tea-workers movement of Dolu Tea Garden in Assam?

Tariq Badayuni says: “Ek na ek shamma andhere mein jalaye rakhiye / Subah hone ko hai maahol sajaaye rakhiye.”

Sandeep Banerjee  is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India.  Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at [email protected]


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