Fascism is an act of contempt. Albert Camus made a detailed analysis of that contempt in his book, The Rebel. Conversely, said Camus, “every form of contempt, if it enters politics, prepares the way for, or establishes, fascism.”
Those of us who are not victims of selective amnesia may remember certain mock-slogans such as Hum paanch, humara pachees which won the sloganeer tremendous popularity in the country. If from Mein Kampf the road led straight to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, the mock slogans of the country’s most eloquent orator have brought us to Dadri. Leaving aside a Nayantara Sahgal and an Ashok Vajpeyi, the intellectuals in the country are lulled into stupor by the eloquent contempt. Have we reached that stage where – as in Camus’s analysis of fascism – one leader, one people translates into one master, millions of slaves?
Finally when the orator broke his silence on the issue he took recourse to the counsel given by the President who is a soft-spoken man with no gift of the gab at all. Why didn’t the orator declare his own ideology? His own philosophy about the plurality of the country’s culture and religions?
Hitler did not have any clear set of principles or ideology, argues Camus. He was a man of action. Action alone kept Hitler alive, says Camus. For him, to exist was to act. That is why Hitler and his regime needed enemies. Bereft of a constructive vision, the leader can only survive on hatred of the enemy and the constant action it generates. The very meaning, the purpose of existence, for such people is defined in relation to their enemies.
Yet the enemy has to be decimated too. The regime moves from conquest to conquest, from enemy to enemy, until the empire of blood and action is established. Or else, the march ends in total defeat – as it happened in the case of Hitler.
As long as the march is going on, it is only conquest, occasional setbacks notwithstanding. Hitler used to tell his generals that nobody was going to ask the victor whether he abided by truths or not. Hermann Goring, one of Hitler’s generals, repeated again and again during his trial that “The victor will always be the judge, and the vanquished will always be the accused.”
The guilt of the perpetrator of violence is shifted easily to the victim wherever there are victors and the vanquished. “They disrespected the religion of the majority.” That’s the crime. You can see that verdict in the umpteen comments made by readers below online newspaper reports of the Dadri lynching and related issues. It doesn’t even matter whether the hapless man had actually eaten what he had been accused of!
Even if the man had eaten the food forbidden by the so-called majority, did he deserve the kind of death he was awarded? During Hitler’s heyday the Nazi newspapers proclaimed a “divine mission,” namely, “to lead everyone back to his origins, back to the common Mother.” The Germans were divided into we and they. ‘We’ became the cogs in the fascist machinery, and they (those who did not belong to the common Mother) were viewed as the waste products to be dumped.
Let us hope that our great leader, instead of relying on the feeble inspiration muttered by the President, will use his eloquence to reunify the nation on a platform of pluralism where even bovine metaphors can have different meanings to different people as they ought to.