Digital authoritarianism, defined broadly as wielding technology to enhance or enable authoritarian governance, is spreading around the world. While the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual Democracy Index found that, on a global level, “democracy stopped declining in 2018” for the first time in three years, the researchers cautioned that it may be merely a “pause.” In 2019, the […]
India is literally at the crossroads with the very future of its secular democracy at stake. With five important State Assembly elections in various stages of completion and the general election around the corner, the political temperature is at boiling point. Competitive Hindutva has become the name of the game, with the ostensibly secular Congress party trying […]
In Poland two months ago, more than 200 schools planning to hold a “Rainbow Friday” to promote tolerance for sexual minorities had to cancel the event, under orders from the increasingly authoritarian government’s Minister of Education. In the United States, as part of the Trump administration’s attack on transgender rights, the Department of Health and […]
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — From the balcony of BuzzFeed’s São Paulo office right now, you can hear screams of “Ele Não” echoing through the city’s winding avenues. It’s the same phrase I’ve seen graffitied all over the city this month. The same one I heard chanted from restaurants and bars all afternoon. It means “not […]
With Jair Bolsonaro’s electoral victory in Sunday’s runoff election for president of Brazil, a global resurgence of the radical right is indisputable. Mr. Bolsonaro is a particularly ugly representative of this movement, both politically repressive and culturally intolerant. The question being asked in the bourgeois press is: what psychological malady is taking hold that could […]
The real obstacle to understanding, or even recognising, contemporary fascism is alas, the memory of the 1930s. The fact that we have fascists in power in India, at the helm of a liberal bourgeois state, is indubitable: their organisation, the RSS, to which they belong and swear by, has made no secret of its admiration […]
“লড়াই, লড়াই, লড়াই চাই/ লড়াই করে বাঁচতে চাই” Let us fight for our rights and live our life. You do not get to hear such slogans on the streets of my city very often. You do not get to see the entire city street getting decked up to celebrate something which millions have longed for years. You do not get to […]
In our global slide toward despotic unaccountability, three words act as the primary signifiers of the changes in governing and political norms at work around the globe. The words are fascist, illiberal and authoritarian.
Let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of each.
Fascist:A political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
Illiberal:Opposed to liberal principles; restricting freedom of thought or behavior.
Authoritarian:Favouring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom. Showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; dictatorial.
Whether we’re talking about Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro, Benjamin Netanyahu, Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin or Daniel Ortega you see aspects of each these dangerous modes of social control being normalized and, in many instances, enacted through executive or legislative means.
While it is natural to be most alarmed by the rise of neo-fascist political parties in Italy, Germany, Poland, Sweden, France, and the UK, perhaps a more dangerous trend is the emerging religious authoritarianism infecting Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism. In India, Modi’s BJP has actively encouraged ethnic cleansing campaigns by Hindus against Muslims in northern states. In Israel, Netanyahu successfully passed a new law elevating the citizenship rights of Jewish Israelis over those of Muslims. In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has given tacit approval to Buddhist death squads attacking Muslim Rohingya villages. Across the Middle East, leaders leverage the Sunni/Shia divide to redraw national boundaries resulting in the refugee crisis in Europe. In the United States, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are rushing the decisive Christianist candidate onto the nation’s Supreme Court. In Brazil, the leading candidate in October’s presidential election is an open supporter of military dictatorship is supported by 90% of white Catholic and Evangelical voters.
Any of these political-religious movements could result in illiberal, authoritarian or fascist governing regimes. Adding the accelerant of religious dogma any of these are much more likely to spread across national boundaries and endanger regional or even global peace.
The recent World Hindu Congress in Chicago, an attempt to endow the intolerant majoritarian philosophy of Hindutva with international legitimacy, couldn’t have chosen a better time to bring the party to the US. Socialism, the saying goes, subjects art to politics, while fascism is guilty of the opposite. The goal of the extreme aestheticisation of […]
In a recent episode of “On Contact,” host Chris Hedges and activist Shehla Rashid Shora discuss Hindutva fascism in India and draw parallels to the current situation in the United States. “Caste slavery is fascism,” says Rashid Shora, the face of the student movement in India, in conversation with the Truthdig columnist. “It is not […]
A civil society-sponsored public meeting in Delhi’s Press Club of India has alleged that Tamil Nadu has been turned into a fascist laboratory by India’s BJP rulers. Seeking to highlight the “voices from the south”, organized by the Delhi Solidarity Group, speakers at the meeting said that, over the past couple of months, the political […]
Former Vice President M. Hamid Ansari has said that India is feared to be turned into an illiberal, majoritarian democracy where religious minorities would not be equal citizens but “on sufferance” and underlined that democratic institutions have been “eroded very seriously” in the country. “The basic concept that I have used is what is a […]