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How the Shadows of Fascism Falls Unseen: The Dangers of Ignorance – Part VII

Do you believe that the universe has a natural order in which every component of it including the human beings are assigned a particular role? And no social institutions including the government can change that role? 

Or do you subscribe to the idea that all components of the universe including the human beings are equal and unique in their own ways? 

The former ideological version of organicism is a tenet of Fascist politics, in which all human beings are not born equal and there is one class of people who have the right by birth to rule over the others who are considered subhuman and work for the benefit of the privileged rulers.

When religion flirts with Fascism..

Many religions profess the importance of one’s personal relationship with a God or the unperceived higher power. This personal bond is sacrosanct for a religious fundamentalist and nothing should come in between them. Not even the universal liberal values that considers everyone is equal. 

Not to all those who are religious, but, to the religious fundamentalist, each living being on this planet is assigned a duty and they can only fit into that role. Only then the universe will function normally. Any anomaly to that structure leads to chaos and destruction. The present day problems are attributed to such an anomaly brought by the universal liberal values and they want to bring back the order where a certain group of people are humans and the others are dehumanized. 

..It leads to Clerical Fascism

In 1922, a Catholic Priest, who was also the leader of the Italian People’s Party, used the word Clerical Fascism as many of his party members were attracted by the tenets of Fascism. Some of them even contested elections for Mussolini’s Fascist Party. 

Pope Pius XI had shared anti-communist, anti-western ideologies with Mussolini and played an important role in the rise of Fascism in Italy, argues David I Kertzer in his book The Pope and Mussolini. 

Ironically, young Mussolini identified himself as an atheist, said only idiots will believe in Jesus Christ and was against the Catholic Church. 

Despite Mussolini’s initial opposition to the Catholic Church, he made a concession to them in 1929 when he signed the Lateran Treaty, which established Vatican City as an independent state and recognized Catholicism as the official state religion of Italy. 

This decision was partly motivated by Mussolini’s desire to gain the support of the Catholic Church and to solidify his power through a partnership with a powerful institution.

In the United States, 

Social Gospel is a movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century among Protestant Christians. They believed that Christianity had a responsibility to address social problems such as poverty, inequality, and injustice to create a more just and equitable society. 

Christian American Evangelism, on the other hand, emerged in the mid-20th century, characterized by a focus on personal salvation, evangelism, and conservative social and political values, placing a strong emphasis on the authority of the Bible and traditional Christian morality. 

Slogans like ‘’ Make America Great Again’ resonated with many white evangelicals because it showed them a promising route back to traditional values that are under threat by secularism and universal liberal values. Conservative Christian votes to Donald Trump played a decisive  role in making him the 45th President of the United States.  

The Four Varnas and Dalits in India

Hindu Nationalists, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, espouse the belief that their religious and cultural identity is threatened by the presence of Muslims, stoking religious tensions and undermining the country’s secular foundations.

The four Varnas of Hinduism strictly divides its people in different classes and the fourth class of people Shudras are servants to the top three classes and are kept away from reading the literature.

There is yet another class of people known as ‘Dalits’ (The Untouchables) who were kept outside of the four Varnas. There are over 200 million Dalits in India according to Wikipedia.

There are instances where members of this community were threatened and beaten up for wearing shoes, swimming, sitting cross-legged, riding a horse.

This kind of dehumanization is normalized by the Hindu Nationalists and they claim a glorious picture of the past India being eroded by liberal views. Much hypocrisy?

Treating everyone equal doesn’t go well with Fascist ideology.

Other examples of clerical Fascism

Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, has often positioned himself as a protector of European Christianity and leveraged this narrative to bolster his political agenda. 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, has frequently employed rhetoric that frames his government as a defender of Islam against Western powers.

In Myanmar, the Buddhist nationalist movement is involved in the persecution and violence against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

A prescription for failure

Any country that paints a religion with a tinge of nationalism is a disaster, destined to fail.  

Fascism requires the support and sympathy of a religion to establish its goals, particularly in a country where religion holds significant influence.

Okay, let’s not assume that all religions are bad for the planet. While some religious fundamentalists may view the universe as having a fixed natural order, many other religious traditions emphasize the importance of equality and social justice. 

It is important to recognize what Fascism and its subtle tactics can do to a free country and its population. 

As Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, ‘Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.’ Hence, we must take necessary steps to ensure that our democracies do not die in the darkness of Fascism.

To be continued…

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