Sunday, November 18, 2012

Balasaheb Thackeray -- a crude fascist, authoritarian demagogue,

Balasaheb Thackeray is a fascist because he believed in order and authority, but he is not fully a fascist because he did not really believe in the state or its institutions. He fought the battle against ideas, intellectuals,liberals, communists, secularists with a ferocity that could not be anything but crude. He was intelligent and witty but he firmly believed that subtlety and wit and good manners are wasted against people whom he believed were influential in the political arena without deserving it. So he represented those who were excluded from the elitist public platforms. The communists could be equally intolerant like the fascists though many of them were better educated. Thackeray fought for the crude uneducated and unintellectual people who did not understand ideas and ideologies. It is this that attracted so many people, the poor, the lower middle class. He gave them the voice and an identity. There was the intelligent upper caste Maharashtrian class which still held on to positions of power, which was communal and narrow-minded but put on the veneer of liberalism. All of them secretly admired Thackeray because the crude things they would have liked to say but were ashamed to say were said by him for them. He hated non-Maharashtrians including Gujaratis, south Indians and north Indians. He hated Muslims and he hated Pakistan. But hatred was a tactical weapon for him to create a political space for himself because everyone else was being so nice and correct, broad-minded and enlightened without being nice or correct or broad-minded or enlightened in their own minds and hearts. Thackeray tore up the veil of hypocrisy. While communal Muslims and fundamentalist secularists hated him, ordinary Muslims and ordinary people who were not particularly communal were not averse to doing business with him or with the Shiv Sainiks. The fascist hooliganism of the Shiv Sainiks certainly flowed from Thackeray's demagoguery, but Thackeray could reach out to the communities and groups he taught his Sainiks to hate and terrorise. Thackeray was unorthodox in his lifestyle, as a matter of fact very secular in his thinking and lifestyle. He drank and smoke and did not preach any kind of Hindu piety. He would meet without any reservations Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad, pop icon Michael Jackson and Enron chief Rebecca Mark. He was too pragmatic to be a puritan. He was open to new lifestyles and did not defend any outdated traditions. Something the Sainiks could not understand or appreciate or follow. Thackeray exposed the hollowness and hypocrisy of liberal, secular politics in the crudest manner possible. He embodied the simmering hatred of the petit bourgeois to perfection. The secular and liberal hate brigade of Thackeray are literally barking up the wrong tree when they rant against Thackeray as evil without understanding that Thackeray represents an existing resentment deep within society.

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