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EDITORIAL: By Saeed Naqvi, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: The alarming surge of the far-right in Germany, according to the latest opinion polls, should not surprise the political class who have with diligent deliberation conjured up Hitler’s spirit.
Remember how the German ruling class, as the engine of EU, laid-low the Left-Wing Syriza which brought a 43 year old Alexis Tsipras to power as Prime Minister of Greece. The Greeks had tossed up a Socialist experiment. No, said Germany and the EU. This experiment shall not be allowed to prosper. Revert to austerity or we shall not pick up your debt. The pity is Tsipras turned out to be too weak-kneed. He buckled, demoralizing the left across the board.
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In Spain, where Franco hovers over public life like Banquo’s ghost, people, accustomed to being obedient, suddenly showed spunk. Prime Minister of the right wing Peoples Party, Mariano Rajoy broke all records of corruption in the construction sector. This kind of corruption had become the fashion in this phase of accelerated globalization but Rajoy went a few yards past the post. People, groaning under a tainted democracy worked hard to remove the pollution in the next elections. Under the leadership of a 39 year old Pablo Iglesias, a Spanish variant of the communists burst upon the scene. This was Podemos or We Can, extracted from Barack Obama’s slogan which worked in the 2008 elections in the US.
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In the 2015 elections the right wing Peoples Party and the Socialists lost relatively but emerged first and second. The party which created an earthquake by cornering 5 million votes and 69 seats was Podemos. Spain rubbed its eyes in disbelief. How could Europe’s fourth largest economy be “allowed” to be managed by a coalition of which Communists were a part? Franco would turn in his grave.
The very idea had to be killed. The Peoples Party and the Socialists conspired. By refusing a coalition slot to Podemos, they forced another election. The turmoil in Spain which had been originally brought about by Rajoy’s unspeakable corruption was overlooked. Rajoy was reinstalled. Anything but the Leftist ogre.
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People adapt to change but Establishments are obstinately resistant. Additionally they have the power to shape events by their control of the media, refashion public opinion. In fact the popular will is anathema to entrenched Establishments. The consent has to be fashioned. People make economic demands, jobs, wages, price control, social welfare. These have the potential of making drastic reductions in corporate income. I know all this is elementary. Why then are such elementary truths edited out?
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For corporates, it makes enormous sense to employ every possible trick, the media above all, to divert people’s attention from economic issues to issues of identity, minorities, migrants, race or caste and communalism in India. This continuous tussle between Establishments and the people leads to one result: muscular establishments emerge on top. The popular will is the missing ingredient in what are advertised as democracies. Given this perspective, the Liz Truss type democracy versus autocracy formulation to define international relations rings false and hollow. We are living in hollowed out democracies, but for how long? Well the latest German poll points to a model, in the short term at least.
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And it is not something happening in distant Europe only. After defeat of the BJP in Karnataka there is some life in the opposition unity schemes and yet the discourse on Narendra Modi’s invincibility does not go away. It will not go away because the controls of the “Modi, Modi, Modi” echo chamber are with Modi. Did you watch the masterly choreography of the inauguration of the new Parliament building? It made you “gasp and close your eyes”. Yes, Modi will look invincible so long as the media keeps him in that focus. And the media is in the hands of big business who are in the hands of Modi and the other way around.
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The global media and the one which is in the Prime Minister’s thrall are cousins born from the same seed and at the same time. The fall of the Soviet Union brought about the Sole Superpower moment which required a global media. This was inaugurated by Peter Arnett from the terrace of Baghdad’s Al Rasheed hotel during Operation Desert Storm of 1992.
The global media did not reach India until a few years later. The fall of the Babari Masjid on December 6, 1992 was only covered by Newstrack a weekly video magazine launched by the India Today group. The mushroom growth of independent channels is a phenomena of the mid 90s, when the neo liberal economic policies of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Finance Minister Manmohan Singh boosted businesses which demanded channels to accommodate the advertising which the new economy was attracting.
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The burgeoning TV scene enlarged the consumer society which is what the new economy was galloping towards – a tinsel middle class, creating a huge imbalance between Lakshmi and Saraswati. It was all custom made for the corporates, multiplying billionaires – far away from the roti, kapda, makan, education, health care which are basic for a developing country where an overwhelming majority are poor.
The politician, corporates and the channels are together in diverting the poor away from their condition towards the glorious inheritance they been wilfully denied by “The Other”, the migrant from another race, another country.
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New strategic choices imposed by the unending Ukraine war has introduce further fertility for the far right to prosper everywhere – Germany, Vox in Spain next month. And who can ignore Trump of the Howdy Modi chant in Houston.
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