Given the sad events of the current violence in Delhi, the largely humanistic response by the left in the UK is understandable – but short-sighted. We’ve only had brief interactions with comrades in Delhi, the following thoughts are therefore general in nature. From a working class perspective a liberal-left response that targets the ‘fascist BJP’ as the main aggressor against ‘the Muslim community’ is dangerous for the following reasons:
a) Because it let’s the ‘democratic’ state and its representative parties like Congress off the hook. The current situation is bad, but nothing compared to the massacre that the ‘democratic’ Congress Party organised against Sikhs in 1984, or the violence of the CPI(M) against anyone who would oppose their industrial investment plans. This is not about comparing ‘evil’, it is about emphasising that ‘pogroms’ and ‘democratic state rule’ are not mutually exclusive and that therefore, an ‘anti-fascist’ response only goes so far.
b) Because it neglects the influence of the ‘Muslim middle-class’ and its political and religious representatives. These forces have an interest in portraying ‘Muslims’ as a community whose cross-class interests outweigh its inner class-contradictions. These forces have been mobilising anti-government protests in response to the new ‘anti-Muslim legislation’ and have an interest in state violence against them. Instead of rallying behind them and other political profiteers (‘democratic’ parties like the CPI etc.) we have to propose working class self-defense.
c) Because it misses the chance to strengthen working class unity against religious or caste politics. In working class neighbourhoods like Faridabad, Kapashera and Okhla ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ workers live and work side by side, in particular in the garment sector. Currently there is little tension in these areas. The violence takes place largely in areas with a significant Muslim middle-class. In recent years we have witnessed waves of struggles that undermined divisive politics, in particular the division between male and female workers. In the face of a state that wants to provoke communitarian feelings (the BJP lost regional elections recently), this is what we should emphasise.
And of course we all have a certain need for humanism, but let’s quote a weaver from back then:
“I am beside thee. I am neither in temple nor in mosque: I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash: Neither am I in rites and ceremonies, nor in Yoga and renunciation.”