In the sixteenth State legislative assembly elections of Tamil Nadu held on the 6th April 2021, the DMK won the majority of seats and its president M K Stalin, son of previous Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M. Karunanithi, will reportedly be sworn-in as the Chief Minister on May 7.
When Superstar Rajinikanth dropped out of of Tamil Nadu politics in December 2020 on the basis of ill health, he was in effect, acknowledging the impossibility of religious politics in Tamil Nadu. It seems that neither his spiritual politics nor the BJP’s Hindutva, for which he was allegedly a proxy, had a chance of victory in the political milieu of the South.
In the meme pictured above, Rajinikanth’s visage in a still form the Mani Ratnam film Thalapathy has been replaced by that of MK Stalin. This meme also presents Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in the place of Mammooty, who plays Rajinikanth’s friend in the 1991 film.
Both the Dravidian MK Stalin and the Communist Pinarayi Vijayan are avowed atheists.
Donald Trump must not be treated as the cause of the recent debacle of American democracy – its attempted usurpation by fascistic forces. He may have been the catalyst for this ugly scenario but it arose from conditions that are endemic and systemic. We have to remember and accept that 73 million Americans voted for him in the last election. As Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff explain, it is in fact the relentless bipartisan entrenchment of neo-liberal economics by both Republicans and Democrats that has brought this demon seed to fruit. Donald Trump has simply, “peel[ed] back the gilded veneer of democracy in America. His presidency has revealed what neoliberalism has wrought: a post-democratic U.S. ripe for fascism.”
The decimation of America’s public sector and its national industries in cynical programmes of privatization and globalization, as well as the hollowing out of American society by the depletion of support and services for its most vulnerable, have reduced American democracy to being a lifeless shadow of its imagined self. As Peter Fairman shows, while the Reagan administration pushed privatization forward as an overt political ideology, Clinton sold the privatization as a politically neutral management reform. Neoliberal devastation his has been a bipartisan adventure.
As Higdon and Huff go on to say, “Democracy ceases to exist unless the citizenry participates in and respects the process, put its faith in and defends public institutions, accepts verifiable electoral results, and attains the critical thinking and media literacy skills necessary to make well informed and sophisticated decisions.” While the United States of America is our case-in-point, I believe that these criteria are not met in numerous other failing democracies across the world.
Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’ Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia are the 7 regimes that Laurence W. Britt analyzed to develop his set of fascistic characteristics. Like Umberto Eco before him, he came up with 14 key characteristics, which he construed as fascist and proto-fascist means of obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. He presented this list in an Op-Ed titled Fascism Anyone? in Volume 23, No. 2 Spring 2003 of ‘Free Inquiry’ as follows – 1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. 2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. 3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. 4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. 5. Rampant sexism. 6. A controlled mass media. 7. Obsession with national security. 8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. 9. Power of corporations protected. 10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. 11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts 12. Obsession with crime and punishment. 13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. 14. Fraudulent elections.
While, as Daniel Malmer notes this list was not intended to be used to diagnose fascism in present governments, but rather characterize historical fascist governments, it is nevertheless interesting to see how many of these fascistic characteristic apply to the purported democracies of the world.
As a Malaysian, I find that the polity of my country seems to exhibit a good 11 of the Britt’s 14 traits. If this were not worrying enough for the long view, we have just joined a list of dysfunctional nations that have suspended parliamentary rule and instituted emergency powers in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic. This is the first such declaration of emergency since the aftermath of the race riots of May 13th 1969.
According to Bloomberg, the state of emergency was declared soon after some key leaders in the ruling coalition’s largest partner, United Malays National Organisation had called for a fresh election. They also report that the Pakatan Harapan opposition has admonished the Prime Minister for burdening the people with a declaration of emergency for the sake of saving himself. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs has described the emergency as “totally unnecessary” and that “If you’re not careful, we will slip from parliamentary democracy into a rule by diktat.”
The Election Commission of Tamil Nadu has allotted the “Auto-rickshaw” symbol to a newly registered party called ‘Makkal Sevai Katchi,’ (MSK) which is, according to Outlook, believed to be the party floated by Tamil SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth to contest in the 2021 Tamil Nadu State Assembly elections. The article cites the lyrics Autokkaaran, autokkaaran, naalum therijna rootukkaaran (I am an auto-driver who knows all the ways) from the introductory song from his blockbuster film “Baasha” (1995).
The Dari Pusat Tasek performance (View my draft for the 13th Koboi series DARI TUBUH NEGARA) was held at the Lumut Waterfront, under the auspices of Percha Art Space at 5pm on the 25th December 2019. The exhibition will run till 5 Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020) . The Naan Anaiyttalflag presents an image that was shot in Kampung Indian Settlement, Batu Caves, in the wake of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections. The Koboi stands before a 12.2 m hoarding of the once jailed politician who is now Malaysia’s prime minister in waiting, Anwar Ibrahim. This flag was raised on a portable flag stand, accompanied by a performance based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual performed with cut lime.
After my body was ritually rubbed with lime, I faced the East and spit seven times. I then threw the remains of the limes in the Westerly direction saying, Pergi-lah semua sial jambalang dari badan aku, dan dari pada tubuh negara; pergi lah ke Pusat Pasek Paujangi, (‘Misfortune and spirits of evil begone from my body, and from the corpus of the nation, begone to the whirlpool of the of the Pusat Pasek Paujangi!) Water was then poured over me to complete the cleansing. All the waters of the world are ultimately received at the Pusat Tasek, bringing to its swirl all of the flotsam, jetsam and refuse of the world. The Pusat Tasek of myth seems to coincide with the contemporary swirl of the North Pacific Gyre– a place at which the worst of our contemporary sial jambalang reside.