ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Neo-liberalism and Democracy

This article attempts to analyse the rise of fascism in Indian politics and explains the growing popularity of a "messiah" who promises to solve all problems in the "closure" of politics under neo-liberalism. It sheds light on the decline of class politics and the rise of "identity politics", the growing clamour against "corruption" and politicians and proposes a path for left politics to break the hegemony of globalised capital.

This is a revised version of a speech given to a conference of progressive writers at Allahabad on 10 February 2014. I wish to thank Akeel Bilgrami, Rajendra Prasad and Utsa Patnaik for helpful discussions.

The viability of democracy requires a belief among people that they can make a difference to their lives by participating in the democratic process. This belief may be a false one; it may be a mere illusion. But unless this illusion exists, people become not just cynical about the democratic process but despondent about their capacity to make any difference to their lives through their own efforts. Such despondency then leads to their quest for a “saviour” or a “messiah” supposedly endowed with extraordinary powers who can come to their rescue. They no longer remain “on this side of reason” but start moving into a realm of irrationalism.

Since in the period of the hegemony of monopoly capital, such “saviours” and “messiahs” are typically either manufactured, or propped up, or, even in those instances where they make the initial headway on their own, appropriated, by the corporate-financial elite, which uses for this purpose the media under its control, their rule becomes synonymous with corporate rule. And this constitutes the core of fascism.1 The loss of belief among the people about the possibility of themselves making a difference to their own lives through democratic political intervention thus creates the conditions for fascism.

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