Since its introduction in India, Leftist language has clearly dominated the discourse and performed the task of othering remarkably.
This is a commentary on the brilliant book “Perversion of India’s Political Parlance” by Shri Sita Ram Goel.
Philosopher Dr SN Balagangadhara says that the major problem of Indian thinkers has been to profoundly misunderstand Indian traditions as religions. India is a land of traditions and all traditional cultures strongly focus on the ‘how’ question and on rituals. In traditions, the most important characteristic is ‘an indifference to the differences.’ This has been the Indian solution to deal with its immense multiculturalism and pluralism without breaking down for thousands of years.
The West, in contrast, is a religious culture where the ‘why’ question is vital and here the focus is on truth values and history. History plays a vital role in the narratives and it is almost always that of a primitive past progressing to an enlightened future. This is also the soil where science and atheism develop, questioning the dogmas and religion.
Secularism evolved in the West at a specific time of its history to deal with the differences amongst the various Christian denominations. It worked well at that time but universalizing it to deal with pluralism in any culture at any time became hugely problematic. Maximally, a religious culture can tolerate or accept differences but secularism becomes a band-aid solution to handle true pluralism. India sees the outcome of this painful application of secularism to deal with its diversity abandoning its inherent mechanisms.
Briefly, traditions unite; religions divide. Communism is no less of a religion, as Sita Ram Goel shows in this book. As Balagangadhara says, for reasons we do not understand, Islam and Christianity took the form of traditions in India where they lost the focus on proselytization and have many times developed an indifference to differences. This was our solution to deal with diversity where the individuality stays intact- a traditionalizing of religions. However, consistently, we have been converting traditions into religions and that is indeed the cause of almost all our problems.
The peculiar and characteristic political language evolved mainly by the Communists and the Leftists have not only deeply misunderstood the Indian traditions but have gone a step further in maligning the Hindu traditions and culture. It took over smoothly from the previous Islamic, missionary, and colonial attacks starting in the late 1930s. The ideals of Sanatana Dharma are the only hope for a harmonious world today. The political language initiated and refined by the Communists is a weapon in the hands of all the inimical forces against Hindu culture and traditions. This language, when internalised by even well-meaning Hindus, becomes even more dangerous. Sita Ram Goel has written a brilliant book which analyses this foul leftist language which hits at the roots of Hindu culture. There is an urgent need to understand this language. This is a summary of the brilliant book which hopefully should motivate the readers to go for the whole book.
An Example of RSS- Something Seriously Wrong Somewhere
RSS (Rashtriya Sevak Sangh) has a negative reputation for being communal, reactionary, and revivalist in character. However, the RSS is just a symbol of an ancient society and culture which have suffered for long and in no small measure from successive waves of aggressive imperialism. The intellectuals do not see that there must be something of great value in a society which creates selfless workers without political patronage and despite malicious propaganda.
The key to understanding it lies in the political parlance or the language prevalent for more than five decades in India. The RSS becomes a ‘rightist, reactionary and revivalist movement of militant Hindu communalism’. Hindu society becomes a ‘crowd of caste-ridden, cow-worshipping and practitioners of obnoxious obscurantism’. Most mud sticks as both RSS and the Hindus fail in defending the hostile allegations. Our academia, media, and the political leaders continue with heavy doses of this language, fixing this image in the public’s mind.
The problem is with the vast intelligentsia who see plenty of positives in Hindu culture but either fail to defend or even join the hostile forces in belittling Indian traditions. Political language and slogans have stereotyped many organisations and Hindus as some fossilized elements. There is a need to understand this political parlance which continues to cause so much damage to the Hindu psyche.
Words Which Defy Dictionaries
India’s political language describes ‘Leftist’, ‘Rightist’, ‘Centrist’, and ‘Right or Left of Center’ positions without telling us what ‘Center’ means. These contradistinctive labels – Leftist and Rightist – have never had approval by an impartial tribunal, for example, the Election Commission. Certain groups appropriated one label- ‘Leftist’ for themselves and reserved ‘Rightist’ for opponents without permission or prior consultation. The Leftists soon lauded themselves as progressive, revolutionary, socialist, secularist, and democratic. Simultaneous was the denunciation of ‘Rightists’ as reactionary, revivalist, capitalist, and fascist.
The Leftists claim that they are committed to a scientific interpretation of economic, social, political, and cultural developments profitable for the modern age. In parallel, they accuse that the ‘Rightists’ of an obscurantist and outmoded view of the same world-process. Finally, the Leftists are self-righteous as they see themselves as the liberators of humanity while guilting the ‘Rightists’ for some heinous past or present crimes against humanity. The words employed by Leftists to applaud themselves and denigrate other viewpoints are many and diverse.
Some dictionaries define a Leftist as ‘the more progressive or actively innovating party’ and a Rightist as ‘an adherent of the political right (conservative)’. Not illuminating unless we have prior notions of progressive and conservative. Some define conservatism as ‘tending to retain the entire’ or ‘an aversion to change’. Conservatism becomes bad only if one can show that trying to retain or aversion to change is undesirable for society. This the Leftists do not strive to show much.
Progressive (Leftist) Versus Reactionary (Rightist)
This covers socio-political opinion in a broader and more confusing way than ‘Leftist and Rightist’. Leftist politics cleverly use the confusion by roping in ‘progressives’ who are unwilling to be termed, Leftist. It also silences many others holding a different opinion by branding them reactionaries. It is a circular definition when dictionaries define a progressive as one who is ‘moving forward, making progress’. The Leftists assume arbitrarily that whatever they advocate automatically becomes progress. It is also impossible to arrive at a universally agreed definition of progress.
A reactionary is ‘one who attempts to revert to past political conditions’- a vague generalisation. Firstly, it is difficult at any stage of history to revert to past political conditions unless it confines to narrow limits, like restoration of a royal dynasty. Secondly, the past refers to a long stretch of time. It is unclear whether the definition implies the ancient or medieval past. Thirdly, we cannot assume and deride that the past was always worse than the present.
Revolutionary (Leftist) Versus Revivalist (Rightist)
Revolution is ‘a great change in outlook, social habits and circumstances; a radical change in government’. It does not imply that this radical change is invariably for the better. Radical change should not be a reason for self-righteousness unless there is proof of fuller freedom of man, greater social prosperity, deeper culture, and a larger fraternity.
On the other hand, a revivalist is ‘one who promotes religious, architectural or other revival’. Religion has always been an anathema to the Leftists. A deep ignorance equates Sanatana Dharma to all monotheistic creeds and subsequently becoming a reason for a blanket blackening of all religious revival.
Socialist (Leftist) Versus Capitalist (Rightist)
This pair of labels arouses intense emotions. Socialism is a magic word which paralyses all thinking processes in a majority of our politically conscious intelligentsia. There is no political party which does not swear by Socialism, ‘a scheme of social organisation placing means of production in the hands of the community’. Capitalism is ‘the economic system which generates and gives power to capitalists.’ Obviously, public ownership is better than the greed of a few exploiters.
Problematically, when the state becomes the community; and a monolithic party machine becomes the state, there is choking of individual freedom; Russia and China gloriously demonstrate this. Leftists love these socialist examples where totalitarian states have reduced the communities to complete surrender. In India, the Leftists describe the public sector as a signpost of Socialism, which stays mostly incompetent and corrupt.
Leftists denounce as capitalist precisely those countries where powerful labour unions, free press, parliamentary institutions, and vigilant public opinion have combined to make private enterprise accountable to the community. The rising standards of wages and consumption, the social security measures and other welfare schemes speak volumes about how public good is gaining ground over private greed. But the Leftists insist on calling the Socialists good and all capitalists as evil.
Secular (Leftist) Versus Communal (Rightist)
This pair of labels attain the widest currency. Dictionaries define the word secular as ‘the belief that the state, morals, education, and so on should be independent of religion.’ In India, it means abusing the majority and appeasing the minorities.
A ‘secular’ must believe that, after independence, persecuted and impoverished Muslims and other minorities have minimal access to development and employment in private and public sectors including the security forces. Less representation in the security forces implies that it imperils their lives and honour even as there is no legitimate expression of their religion in public life and media. A secular Hindu politician must proclaim that Islam stands for equality and human brotherhood; celebrate Muslim festivals and throw Iftar parties; attend Urdu mushairas and Urs of Sufis; support Urdu language; applaud Islamic arts, food, dresses, and manners; abuse Israel; applaud Arab countries.
It is unacceptable for a secular to criticise the Muslims on population control, denial of education, the veil on women, polygamous practices, rioting on slightest pretexts, rejoicing on any Pakistani victory over India, and supporting Arab petrodollars targeting the weaker sections to convert. One is an even better secular if there a pronounced anti-Hindu animus. Criticising expression of Indic culture at public functions or government dignitaries, performing poojas or going on pilgrimages; accusing educational, cultural, and research institutions of harbouring communalists; putting blame on RSS for every communal riot, and a long list of grievances against Hindu society is a part of the ‘secular’ package.
The dictionary definition of communal, a logical corollary, is ‘pertaining to community, owned in common; shared.’ Hindus in India, on saying that they belong to a shared culture and a community, immediately provoke the secularists to make them ‘anti-secular’. A Hindu who says that India is his ancestral homeland and speaks for his traditions will become a chauvinist. Similarly, any criticism of past Muslim rulers or present Muslim aggression makes one a ‘communal’ enemy of public peace and national integration by the Leftists.
Democratic (Leftist) Versus Fascist (Rightist)
The Leftists invoke these labels only when they want to entice some elements. Fascist as a swear word works when others like ‘reactionary’ or ‘revivalist’ do not stick. The dictionaries define a democrat as ‘one who adheres to or promotes democracy as a principle,’ and a fascist as ‘one who believes in using forceful methods’. Fascist attitude fits the Leftists better who swear by democracy while in the opposition. Their self-righteousness and intolerance of other points of view make them first-class fascists. They suspect and shout a conspiracy behind every move of every other party. It is difficult to understand how Leftists label themselves as democrats and happily denounce anyone disagreeing with them as fascists.
The dictionaries are not helpful in decoding the Leftist language. With this language, the Leftists have made themselves as representatives of patriotism, progress, and public welfare while denying any other diverse opinion an equal right. In Indian politics, the Leftists are managing to collapse all so-called Rightists under the weight of these words carrying exclusive meanings only to the former.
The Sources of Leftist Language
Leftist academics lie when they claim that their language evolved during India’s freedom movement. These words came into usage in the late 1930s, had a different meaning, and limited to a small Leftist coterie. The words spread after independence in the Nehruvian era.
Before the foundation of the Indian National Congress (1885), there was a failed rebellion in 1857. For almost two decades after 1857, a national effort was towards Hindu religious revival, social reform, and cultural renaissance. The Indian National Congress, although founded by an Englishman, became a part of a broad national effort. However, the non-political movements, essentially Hindu, shaped the political attitudes of different people who participated in the Congress stage of the freedom movement.
Englishmen and their press started dubbing the Congress as a ‘Hindu organisation dominated by Bengali Babus’. The Congress leaders trying to prove they were a National organisation invited Muslims to preside over some annual sessions and sponsored some Muslim delegates too. This began a language where both Hindus and Muslims gradually reduced the national society to a ‘majority community’ as against the ‘Muslim minority’. Communal had not yet become an abusive political label.
Second Stage of National Self Assertion
This was after the Partition of Bengal in 1905. The radical nationalist forces were at loggerheads with the old guard of the Congress. Now, new words started creeping in. The old guard described itself as ‘Moderates’ and denounced the other side as ‘Extremists’. But the radical forces including the revolutionaries labelled themselves as ‘Nationalists.’ The latter, surviving British repression, did capture the Congress after a few years.
The Moderates withdrew to form their Liberal Federation. Meanwhile, the Nationalists, by the power they exercised over the mass mind, started attracting Muslim politicians. The latter saw the Nationalist alliance to settle their own parochial and pan-Islamic scores with the British. Nationalists led by Tilak, failing to suspect the Muslim motivations, made big concessions on important issues in the Congress-League Pact at Lucknow in 1916. No word of the present-day political parlance had yet gained acceptance in the writings of this period. ‘Nationalist’ still was an honourable word.
Third Stage of Soviet Subversion
An alien and anti-national language coined by Lenin soon subverted the language of nationalism. Starting with the Bolshevik revolution (1917), it gathered pace with the free flow of finance from the Soviet Union.
Communist Party of India, a section of the Communist International, started in far-off Tashkent in October 1920. The national movement would not have noticed them but for several conspiracy cases which the British government launched against the Party between 1924 and 1929. Later, the British imposed a ban on the Communist party and forbid their literature bestowing an aura of martyrdom on both. It also made the same literature easily available to revolutionaries to wean them away from this ‘terrorist’ path. Paradoxically, many patriots became convinced Communists and swelled the ranks of the party after their discharge from prison. In the public eye, these patriots retained their stature for their services. Communists became patriots in reflected glory.
Conveyor Belts of Communist Language
Nehru was uncomfortable with the language of nationalism based on Indian traditions. He took up the Communist language in great measure. There was a spread of Communist thought in prestigious seats of learning in the West. Many Indians who went to Western universities in the late twenties and early thirties came back talking Communist language. These occupied the academia, media, and political seats of India having a multiplier effect. By the mid-1930s, Nehru had solid support inside and outside the national movement, particularly among the English-educated intelligentsia.
Nehru became Congress president for the second time in 1936. The political atmosphere now was full with Communist catchphrases: bourgeois and proletarian; class struggle and class collaboration; revolution and counter-revolution; bourgeois nationalism and proletarian internationalism; fascist forces and the democratic front, and so on. Periodicals and pamphlets spread the jargon fast.
This was a highly obscure language. Nationalists led by Gandhi could not understand the nature and purpose of this language. Some nationalists picked up parts of this language to stay with the times; some went into defensive when lambasted by the language.
Communists Identified but Not Communist Language
Socialists and the Indian National Congress during 1942-45 discovered the Communists as the Soviet fifth-column undermining their efforts, expelled them from the national organisation in 1945. The thought and language, however, stayed intact. Nehru’s domination for 17 years in the post-independence period widened the scope for Communist language.
There is no truth whatsoever in the Leftist claim that India’s prevailing political parlance took shape in the course of India’s fight for freedom against British imperialism. This was a Soviet import becoming dominant towards the end of the freedom struggle by Soviet finance. Leftist language shows close affinity with languages of Islamic, Christian, or British imperialism. India has been able to save herself from total subversion because the spirit of nationalism surfaced repeatedly. It should however evolve and speak its own language.
The Character of Leftist Language
Beginning in the early 20th century, Leftism has been the loudest in denouncing imperialism, some real and some imagined, successfully hiding its own imperialist character. Every principal language of imperialism has unfortunately plagued India.
Important ‘Imperialist’ Characteristics
First, every language of imperialism invokes an inscrutable entity as its source and sanction. This entity- a person or book, is beyond human reason or experience. Second, this language divides history into two distinct eras: a ‘before’ era of darkness and an ‘after’ period of light. Third, humanity similarly divides into two camps: the ‘believers’ and the ‘non-believers’. The believers have variable rights over the non-believers which may include even carrying out wars, killing, or converting without moral worries.
Fourth, imperialism bands all believers into a world brotherhood cutting across geography, history, and culture. As a corollary, there is a denouncement of nationalism. The forced uniformity becomes ‘universality.’ Fifth, the inscrutable entity has mandated the Earth to the incomparable person who, in his turn, has bequeathed it to the brotherhood. When the brotherhood mounts aggression, it automatically becomes a war of liberation. Sixth, this language lays down two inevitabilities – an inevitable victory of the believers, and an inevitable defeat of the unbelievers.
Seventh, imperialist language equips the believers with an immeasurable degree of self-righteousness even while killing, enslaving, plundering, or humiliating the unbelievers. Lastly, the life-history of every unbeliever becomes a catalogue of crimes to debar the unbelievers from any sympathy.
Language of Islamic Imperialism
This was the first language against India from the mid-7th century to the mid-18th century. Allah revealed his final will to Prophet Muhammed. Before the prophet was Jahiliya (ignorance) and after Him was light. Humanity divides into momins (believers) and kafirs (non-believers). Momins, forming a millat (brotherhood) and as mujahids (holy warriors), have rights to occupy all lands as sanctioned by the One God. Their triumph remains inevitable. Hindus were kafirs in the sin of shirk (idolatry) and hence there were no moral or ethical worries in plundering or killing them if they do not convert.
Hindus resisted strongly and overcame Islamic imperialism. However, they failed to see through the language of that imperialism. Hindu saints, scholars, reformers, and scribes came to accept Islam as a religion as good as their own Sanatana Dharma. This self-deception is still working potently.
Language of Christian Imperialism
The next language of imperialism to plague India was that of Christian imperialism starting with the Portuguese in the 16th century. The one True God had sent his Only Son, Jesus, to atone for the sins of all humankind. Human history before Jesus was an era of darkness and there began the light of divinity after him. Humans were now ‘Christians’ or ‘Heathens’ and Christians have now a divine obligation to carry crusades against heathens. All Christians have one Church recognising no individual nations. The Only God had mandated the Earth to the Church which has now the right and duty to liberate India from the horrors of heathenism. This victory is inevitable and Christian soldiers or missionaries should endeavour to expedite this.
Hindus overcame this also but despite the warnings from a succession of Hindu sages – Dayananda, Bankim Chandra, Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Gandhi, a section of the educated Hindu elite remain enamoured of Christianity. Christian imperialism continues making inroads onto Hindu society.
Language of Western Imperialism
The French, Dutch, Portuguese, Belgians, Italians, Germans, and Russians who had forcibly occupied Asian and African nations share the Western imperialist language with that of the British in India. Essentially, it was a secularised version of Christian imperialism. The narrative, of course, was that history had clearly and convincingly ‘proved the cultural superiority’ of the white man. History before the 16th and 17th centuries was a dark age and there was enlightenment after. Humanity divided into the ‘civilised’ Europe and the ‘primitive’ Asia or Africa. The White race’s historical destiny was to dominate and civilise the world.
The ‘white man’s burden’ included India too. Britain should work towards the inevitable triumph of Western civilisation in India. In this purpose, the British had the right and duty to replace all existing political systems, social order, economic organisation, and cultural traditions of India. Hindus had lived too long in primitive superstitions and its suffering in the hands of the British mission was almost a necessity.
Hindus survived, yet the language of British imperialism has survived almost intact in the language of our elite and the ruling class for long. The basic thought is that India is a backward country which should look to the West for ideological inspiration on all important matters.
Language of Communist Imperialism
This started in India soon after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917. The language of Communist imperialism is the same as that of Christian imperialism except for its disguised Marxism. ‘Forces of Production’, maturing in history, became self-conscious in Lenin and enabled him to break capitalism in Russia. A history of class oppression and class struggle now took a decisive turn towards a ‘classless communist’ society, a move towards universal brotherhood. The world, including India, now became a battleground between forces of capitalist reaction and forces of the proletarian revolution.
The proletariat in every country including India became an international brotherhood transcending all forms of nationalism. The Communist International, the leader of the world proletariat, had inherited the earth from the Forces of Production and it was its inalienable right to promote a proletarian revolution in every country. The victory was inevitable and its sections in all countries should work towards that end. The Forces of Production should smash the feudalistic capitalism by replacing all existing political, social, cultural, and economic institutions.
India resisted the Communist Party of India functioning as a fifth-column of Soviet Russia for nearly six decades. But its language enjoys great popularity among the Leftists of India. Significantly, the language of Communist imperialism operates in tandem with the languages of Islamic, Christian, and Western imperialism. They have succeeded to some extent in putting Indian nationalism on the defensive.
The History of Leftist Language
Leftist language first came to India as the language of Communist imperialism. M.N. Roy (India in Transition) laid the basis for the language of Leftism. As a background, there were two schools of nationalism against British imperialism. One admired the British rule and aspired to remould India in the image of Britain. They dominated the Indian National Congress till the Swadeshi Movement swept them away. Roy refers to them as bourgeois liberals, modern intellectuals, radical leaders, moderates, radical intelligentsia, and as denationalised intellectuals.
The second regarded British rule as evil and wanted a free India based on Indian traditions and culture. They came to the fore during the Swadeshi Movement and took command of the freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi. Roy refers to them as orthodox nationalists, radical nationalists, extremists, and Hindu nationalists. He makes a distinction between Hindu nationalism and a more comprehensive Indian nationalism.
Fundamental Formulations of Roy
MN Roy, sent initially by Bengal revolutionaries in 1915 in search of German arms, wandered through Germany, China, Japan, USA, and Mexico to finally land in Russia in 1920. He became a confidante of Lenin later.
Roy wrote that India had never been a nation before the British conquest. At the time of the British conquest, the economic and political India was ‘a number of nationalities inhabiting a continent than a composite national unit.’ According to him, the 1857 revolt was a reactionary flare-up of decadent feudalism wanting to replace the British with either the Mughals or the Marathas. A majority lived in villages, steeped in ignorance and social stagnation; thus, politics, forms of government, national subjugation or freedom remained outside their concern and comprehension.
For Roy, the Western-oriented denationalised intellectuals alone were pioneers of progress and political patriotism. The constitutional democracy or the evolutionary nationalism advocated by liberal bourgeoisie led by the intellectuals spelt doom to the old social heritage and religious orthodoxy. The British Government was the best government which India had ever had in her long history. Further, orthodox nationalism advocated by the other school was a reactionary movement even as Swami Vivekananda, the prophet of Hindu nationalism, advocated ‘spiritual imperialism’. The revolutionaries inspired by Swami Vivekananda or the Swadeshi Movement in their wild spiritual imperialism simply embodied the reactionary social forces.
According to Roy, Gandhism, the most reactionary Indian nationalism, was a desperate manifestation of the forces of reaction holding against the objective revolutionary tendencies contained in the liberal-bourgeois nationalism. In fact, the Non-Cooperation movement was an exploitation of the ignorance of the Indian masses. For him, Mahatma Gandhi was speaking essentially the same language spoken earlier by Lokmanya Tilak, Sri Aurobindo and Bipin Chandra Pal with regards to spiritual prejudices, religious beliefs, and looseness of conviction.
Gandhism did not wane nor did the reactionary forces collapse immediately as anticipated by Roy in 1922. They continued to dominate the political scene. Communist International in 1929 did expel Roy for several counter-revolutionary crimes. But Roy’s formulations, the standard Communist language learnt from Lenin, became the bedrock of Leftist stance and slogans for all time to come.
Palme Dutt then took over. He had already fired his first fusillade against Mahatma Gandhi in his Modern India published from London in 1926.
‘Gandhi failed as the leader of the national struggle because he could not cut himself loose from the upper-class interests and prejudices in which he had been brought up. The spirituality of Gandhi is only the expression of this class interest.’
He wrote later,
‘To all that is young and generous in India, the name of Gandhi is an object of cursing and contempt, the name of Judas.’
The Sixth Congress of the Communist International declared war on Gandhism. It proclaimed:
‘Tendencies like Gandhism in India, thoroughly imbued with religious conception, idolize the most backward and economically reactionary forms of social life. Gandhism is increasingly becoming an ideology directed against mass revolution. It must be strongly combated by Communism.’
Percolation of the Poison-The Socialists
The Congress Socialist Party, formed inside the Indian National Congress in 1934, under inspiration from Nehru borrowed the language of Communism heavily. Unlike the Communists, the Socialists had no organisational or financial links with the Communist International- now a full-fledged instrument of Soviet foreign policy. But they agreed with the Communists in their evaluation of Indian history, society, culture, and current politics.
They differed on the evaluation of Gandhi; the communists called him ‘the cleverest bourgeois scoundrel’ while the Socialists admired him deeply, especially his power to mobilise the masses. Though the Socialists have travelled differently, their relationship with Communists is a love-hate one. Socialists retained the love for Leftist language however in the context of Indian nationalism.
Leftist terms like communalist, chauvinist, fascist, revivalist, and reactionary stay intact for anyone proposing Hindu society as the core of the Indian nation. Communists attract them with a bait of a united front; they repel them when they talk of serving Soviet Union causes. Meanwhile, struggles between Stalin and Trotsky in Russia or between Russia and Red China splintered the Communist party into various factions. Meanwhile, some individuals and groups splintered from the Indian National Congress at different times to move closer to the Communists.
Together, the Leftists are hollow inside but present a solid front as they adorn themselves freely with labels like communist, democratic, Leninist, Marxist, radical, revolutionary, and socialist in different combinations. Political power is difficult but they are conveyors of poisonous Leftist language which Indian nationalism must strictly guard against vigilantly.
Continued in Part 2