Sunday, October 03, 2010

Movements and Ideologies - Overview

I was thinking about the causes for success or failure of any movement. I opened the Iranian Revolution page at Wikipedia. Well, that certainly was not the best revolution to understand the causes. The Iranian Revolution was supposedly an exception than a true case for any revolutions to succeed. Anyway, I consider the four causes given in the article as the basis for understanding other movements. According to that article one of these four causes have helped revolutionary movements.

1. Defeat at a war
2. A financial crisis
3. Peasant rebellion
4. Disgruntled military

But I'm more inclined at mass movements and I believe only second and thirds causes can be called genuine. However, considering the Iranian Revolution, I would say a third cause , Threat to identity, can be added for any mass movements. Then there is a fourth factor, a revolution driven by outside wave, should be added. Because sometimes other causes may be secondary. Here, I'm considering all kinds of mass movements revolutionary or otherwise. Also, I consider these causes responsible for both success and failure of a mass movement. My causes for the success or failure of any mass movement;

1. A financial crisis
2. Rebellion of the left behind
3. Threat to identity
4. Driven by outside wave

All these movements need intellectual leadership and ideology. At present I can only think of two such ideologies, Communism and Religion.

Let me look at various countries.
1. Russia
  Ideology: Communism
  Success: Rebellion of the left behind
  Failure: A financial crisis

2. Iran
 Ideology: Religion (Shia Islam)
  Success: Threat to identity

3. China
 Ideology: Communism
  Success: Rebellion of the left behind

4. India
  Ideology: Religion (Hindutva)
   Success: Threat to identity
Comment: It would have been a natural course of action for the caste system or Hinduism to become multiple entities as the middle and lower castes would have become enlightened and would have their own intellectual circle. However, by breaking the nation into two Muslims gave all the castes an anti-identity. This was further solidified by the Hindutvites by blowing up issues like Muslim breeding and Muslim men marrying Hindu women while keeping their own women closeted.

5. Afghanistan
  Ideology: Communism
   Success: No internal causes; driven by outside wave
   Failure: Threat to identity
Comment: In Afghanistan, Communism was driven by elites. We should note that a vast majority of the Afghan society is highly egalitarian (probably, nothing to do with Islam but because of its tribal and non-hereditary leadership structure). So, there was absolutely no room for Communism to make any kind of difference in their life. Thus religious fundamentalists could easily exploit these people.

6. Yugoslavia
  Ideology: Communism
    Success: No internal causes; driven by outside wave
    Failure: Threat to identity

I suppose any new ideology should align itself to one of the above four causes if it has to become a mass movement.


Maju said...

I do not understand what you mean well but it is clear to me that both in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, without doubt in the latter case, the success of communist movements was driven by internal forces with only lesser importance of foreign influence.

While the communist government of Afghanistan eventually called for Soviet support against the Washington-backed jihadist militias, its arrival to power was an internal process.

Yugoslavia is an even more clear case, having developed which is maybe the most clear success story of true Socialism ever totally on their own internal dynamics.

Check your facts, please.

manju said...

The Partisans where the only people who could be acceptable to all nationalities within Yugoslavia. I suppose the Communist ideology helped different nationalities to work together. In many countries Islam does the same job.

There was absolutely no mass movement for Communism.

Maju said...

Not sure about all the details of the rise of communists to power in Afghanistan but it was for sure something that had some strong support in the country, at least among the military and illustrated sectors of Afghan society. It's weakness may have been that it was elitist in its ranks but anyhow that can also be said of all other regimes that Afghanistan has got through history, as far as I can tell.

But, unlike the rest, the communist regime was a positive force for the nation, promoting gender equality, universal education and secularization, as well as much positive economic reforms that favored the dispossessed. Would not have been for the US-supported Taliban aggression and the wrongly performed Soviet intervention, which alienated the people from the government, Afghanistan would now be a much more advanced and happy nation, no doubt.

As for Yugoslavia, it's clear that the Titoist militia had widespread support, the same that similar local armed communist movements had in Greece, Albania, Italy or Bulgaria. The final outcome in each case was surely affected by the Yalta agreements and the pressure from the superpowers or lack of it but that says nothing against the much real support that communists had in all the Eastern Mediterranean region.

In general it was also a positive influence, even in more Maoist than Mao Albania, which became strangely isolated from the outside world but which is now the only truly post-Muslim nation in the world, where religion plays not anymore a dominant role, as most people are agnostic or atheist even now. But where the reactionary intervention was effective in defeating communism, mostly by violent means, as in Greece or Italy, it was a nightmare of repression, mafiosity and relative underdevelopment.

Things changed in Yugoslavia in the 80s and 90s but that is another story. While Tito was alive, Yugoslavia was the jewel of the Mediterranean, much more advanced and illustrated, and influential at international level, than any neighbor.

manju said...

It's irrelevant how great the Communist ideology is. The fact is it couldn't liberate people from sectarian feelings even in Yugoslavia. Therefore, it's obvious that there was no mass movement in favour of the communist ideology to begin with. The non-sectarian ideology of communism only gave educated people of different nationalities a framework for working together. Maybe Tito's charisma played a bigger role.

The communist regime in Afghanistan of course was elitist.

Maju said...

"The fact is it couldn't liberate people from sectarian feelings even in Yugoslavia".

Actually it did, however Yugoslavia was a rather artificial country of recent creation (it was formed only in 1918 and some of the territories incorporated, specially Kosovo, were against the will of their peoples) and had a strong imbalance between Serbian imperialism and peripheral ethnicities. This was largely tackled by Tito successfully but, when Yugoslavia "became strategically irrelevant" (as I know the CIA admitted) it also became prey of the ambitions of neighboring powers, notably Germany and Russia, who helped a lot to de-stabilize an divide the country.

It was easy as the scars of the past (Serbian centralism, Croat pro-Germanism, Albanian lack of recognition) had not healed completely and the army was dominated by the Serbs, whose plan B in case of secession was to make a war and a genocide in favor of the Greater Serbia. This did not help to keep Yugoslavia united at all and, as it turned out to be the case, it did not help Serbian ambitions either.

In this case as in the USSR (and probably in Cuba now) a big failure was that the bureaucracy had become too powerful and wanted to become a new oligarchy. There were two different projects for this reconversion to Capitalism: the rogue genocidal state project of Milosevic, supported by Russia and Greece and the EU integration project of Slovenians and Croats, supported by Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Turkey. UK, France and Spain were neutral because or even somewhat pro-Serb because they wanted Yugoslavia to remain united but Germany imposed its thesis with the eventual help of the USA, specially as the genocidal attitude of Serbia was simply not possible to support with any pretense of legitimacy.

For me the lesson is: respect the peculiarities and right to self rule of the peoples and communities: a solid federation or union of any sort can only be created when all parts are happy with the arrangement. When this is imposed it eventually fails.

But that was precisely what Tito tried to do. And the project was quite well designed, just that it could not withstand the demolition incited from inside as from outside. It's a very sad story and I largely blame Serbian nationalism for it. If they would have been wiser they would have embraced federalism and mutual respect, but they thought they could impose their majority and failed, of course.

It will happen again: Spain is next in the list. The case is very similar but benefits from US and French protection... by the moment.

But it was not sectarianism, it was Serbian imperialism what killed Yugoslavia in the end. Religions were rescued from the ashes in order to justify false ethnic adscription of Serbocroats but they are a propaganda tool, not the core issue.

manju said...

I'm not sure about Serbian imperialism. Serbian nationalism...yes. However, the origin of nationalism was a typical case of majority victimhood. A mortal fear of being outnumbered or been outnumbered by the minorities (Kosovo).

Parallels could be found in India and Sri Lanka.
- A section of Hindus had the opinion that they were victims of Muslims in the past
- Majority Sinhalese had the similar grouse against the Tamil minority

- The castes fear being outnumbered by the Muslims. Fear they would be cleansed like in Pakistan and Bangladesh where they had been outnumbered

- Sinhalese were so paranoid about Tamil indentured labourers enhancing overall Tamil numbers in the island that they forced Indian government to take back a big chunk of them to India

In my opinion, the communist ideology should have killed all those identities in Yugoslavia and this didn't happen.

Maju said...

I used the term imperialism to describe expansionist nationalism in this case. I am used to 'nationalism' meaning separatism, rather than annexionism. But whatever.

Serbs were the minority in Kosovo (and were so since centuries ago). In fact, Kosovo should have been given a republic status early on, what would have prevented disintegration probably. The only Serbian claim to Kosovo is vaguely historical: once long ago Serbia (or Rashka) controlled it and lost a key battle against the Ottomans there.

It'd be like Basques claiming Atapuerca, you know. Or Germany claiming Stalingrad, to put it even more extreme.

Albanians never ruled Serbia, nor as far as I can tell Tamils ruled Sri Lanka. Muslims did rule most of India but that is more comparable to Serbian control of Kosovo, Indian control of Kashmir or Sinhalese control of Tamil Eelam against the will of their peoples, by pure right of conquest.

"Fear they would be cleansed like in Pakistan and Bangladesh where they had been outnumbered"...

Not sure about the details but this sounds like a problem derived from the partition of India along religion lines, something I have always disagreed with. Nations are not religions but are founded on language, identity, history, culture. Similarly I think that the division between Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats is wrong (all them speak the same language and I have met too many "Yugoslavians" with plural ancestries which were no doubt who suffered more from the pseudo-ethnic wars of Croatia and Bosnia). But Albanians are different because they have a different language.

You probably agree that it'd be absurd to divide Germany or the USA along religious lines, right? Sure, in the past there were some quarrels along religious lines, even large painful wars, but they are considered pre-modern anachronisms now.

In Europe at least there are two schools of what makes up a nation: the German school which bases it on language/ethnicity and the French school that bases it on political reality. IMO the German school is more correct, the French model is impositive. But there is no school based on religion.

"In my opinion, the communist ideology should have killed all those identities in Yugoslavia and this didn't happen".

It did. At least largely so: there was a lot of people who declared themselves 'Yugoslavians' in the ethnic census' boxes. However the underground Serbian nationalism tried to recentralize the federation after Tito's death. They used the army for that, which was like 70% Serb in their officers, and that was what triggered the discontent and separation of the rest. If that happened their plan was to create by force of arms Greater Serbia. Eventually it failed too but that was the cause behind the wars. They were willing to let go a mini-Croatia around Zagreb and Slovenia but nothing else if they could help it.

Their first maneuver was to suppress Kosovar autonomy, this caused the formation of an illegal but fully democratic Republic of Kosovo. It also triggered the breakup of Slovenia, who defeated the Yugoslavian Army in a mini-war with 13 casualties. Then it began the wars of Croatia and Bosnia and the state of terror in Kosovo.

But anyhow it should not have "killed" ethnicities. That's anti-democratic and anti-Leninist. One of the appeals of historical Communism is precisely how much self-rule it give to nationalities. Most of those republics and autonomous regions did not exist before revolutionary access to power. Try to look up Slovenia or Macedonia, or Ukraine or Georgia or Slovakia or even Latvia in any historical atlas... you will have trouble finding them. The nations existed but they had no states.

Basques had a state 1000 years ago but most modern "nations" did not: not Ireland, not Netherlands, not Norway, not Finland, not Estonia, not Latvia, not Ukraine, not Slovakia, not Slovenia, not Italy, not Spain, not Portugal, not...

Not Pakistan certainly, nor India either.

manju said...

The only Serbian claim to Kosovo is vaguely historical

Historical claims are untenable. It has no scientific standing even when the explanation is the most plausible.

But the fact is people develop pride or shame, anger or affinity based on past events, when in that age people most likely had different world views. They are not what they were. The actions for the past perceived rights can be very aggressive when the numbers and power is on their side (like China, Serbia, Russia). However, weaker regions like Basque may not have any overambitious claims as they know their limited might. This fact doesn't make former a bully or the latter a sensible nationality. It's just a matter of perception of their might.

India's case is different. The phrase "Indian control of Kashmir" is basically meaningless. When you take Kashmir as a separate ethnic entity, I'm not an Indian but a Kannadiga, another separate ethnic entity within India. And mind you, you are talking about Kashmiri Muslims only. The Kashmiri castes have been cleansed out of the valley(and live as refugees in other parts of India). The correct phrase should be "The caste control of Kashmir". But again "caste" is not a straight forward identity. Probably, I have told you before, many Indian politicians think if Kashmiri Muslims develop 'Kashmiriyat' (Kashmiriness... which of course based on language. The Kashmiri language has lower place among Kashmiri Muslims. They give high respect to Urdu, the language of Muslims in South Asia) then Kashmir problem would be solved.

I don't think you have much idea about Sri Lanka. But history is about interpretations hence should not be given much respect.

In Europe at least there are two schools of what makes up a nation: the German school which bases it on language/ethnicity and the French school that bases it on political reality. IMO the German school is more correct, the French model is impositive.
What does 'political reality' mean? Does that mean, a powerful identity at the time of a nation founding should be considered as the final identity of that nation? I suppose the German school's definition is too limited. In the not so developed regions of the world there are too many isolationist linguistic groups. So, German definition basically was a political reality for Germany (as it was divided into multiple principalities ... that spoke the same language...I guess they should claim Austria too). There are too many isolationist groups in very backward regions of the world. German school of thought would prove a nightmare situation.

I don't think identity of a nation is easily definable. In my opinion, two models could be;
- Assimilation to a meaningless identity (like Yugoslav)
- Integration with an undefinable identity (like Indian)

All other identities should be killed. As most of these identities, as I said before, come with a burden of pride or shame, hatred or affinity.

Maju said...

I would not like to insist much in the issue of Kashmir, which is obviously manipulated by Pakistan and International Islamism. Just that it's clear that Kashmir fell to India without a referendum, by decree of its former monarch, and that is behind so much trouble.

"However, weaker regions like Basque may not have any overambitious claims as they know their limited might".

Also because we are a people which has never been expansionist. Our polities were always defensive and expansionism, specially manu military was clearly out of the agenda (the only exception was the failed attempt to conquer Albania - of all places!- by a king known to history for that reason as Charles 'the Bad'). While you never know what may happen in the future, I think we really have a tradition of democratic self-rule and are not the least interested in expansion at the expense of others, what in the end can only damage our own democracy and favor some elites, not the people.

"I don't think you have much idea about Sri Lanka".

I know that Sinhalese claim that Tamils were introduced by the colonial powers, though Tamils reject that claim. But never heard that Tamils were the ruling elite anywhere, just plantation workers.

"What does 'political reality' mean?"

The actually existing state, often inherited from previous monarchs and seldom constituted in any process of democratic self-determination. The French school decorates this Jacobin model by claiming the "will of the people" but they would not allow any sort of self-determination process in the already annexed lands (unless a war forces it, as happened in Algeria).

The roots of this Jacobin model are actually in the French absolute monarchy system, consolidated after the Hundred Years' War, that established that all lands belonging to the new king be annexed to France, which was therefore the inheritable royal lands (plus vassals). Other Latin European countries (and elsewhere too) have copied the French Jacobin model, whose main trait is centralism and active suppression of minorities' cultures and languages.


Maju said...


"I guess they should claim Austria too".

They have done it in the past and Austrians were never really hostile to that incorporation. Only international treaties prevent that from happening in fact. A different case would be Switzerland, which has a "national" identity based on free union of many small republics (cantons), with several languages. The identity of Switzerland was built in the early Modern Age against feudal and monarchical claims, as an identity of a free people surrounded by absolutist and feudal realms. It's a very particular case but can be compared with the Netherlands for instance (otherwise they'd be German too) and also with the Basque traditional polities (though in this case there was also an ethnic identity). There were other European republics in the Middle Ages and early Modernity but were swallowed by history and, lacking ethnic identity, it's not likely they will ever resurface. This could have happened to Switzerland but did not. Another Basque-like historical and ethnic republic is Corsica, the actual inventors of human rights and modern democracy, even if they were conquered by France later on.

"Assimilation to a meaningless identity (like Yugoslav) [or] Integration with an undefinable identity (like Indian)"

Aren't they the same thing? Who says Yugoslav identity is more meaningless than others. Most Yugoslavians spoke a single language: Serbocroat, whose dialectal divides have nothing to do with the alleged "ethnicities".

I think anyhow both models are rather out of what I consider a nation: Germans are a nation, Russians are a nation, Estonians are a nation, Basques are a nation and Tamils or Bengalis are nations too. For me a nation is primarily an ethnic group, defined normally by language (plus history, etc.) For me Chechens do not belong to the Russian nation but are a different one.

But, well, we could go around this in circles for a while.

"All other identities should be killed".

That's Jacobinism. And that is why this doctrine is despicable. Identities should not be "killed". Why? People have the legitimate right to have their identity, their roots, their community and their corresponding polity. Identities are not built on hatred but on love, genuine roots are those of love for one's own people (and you can perfectly respect and even love other peoples from this point but that is internationalism or humanism, not nation).

Would you allow Dravidian languages to be replaced by Hindi or English?

manju said...

Just that it's clear that Kashmir fell to India without a referendum, by decree of its former monarch, and that is behind so much trouble.
- The British idea of allowing Indian "kings" (500+) to chose between India and Pakistan can be debated
- The plebiscite itself could be debated considering Kashmir kingdom itself was a mini-India
So, if I go by your idea of 'nation' then Pakistan or Islamic terrorism are not the spoilsports but the complicated demographic situation of Kashmir itself make it untenable.

But never heard that Tamils were the ruling elite anywhere, just plantation workers.
- Tamils were one of the earliest settlers in Sri Lanka
- Tamils ruled parts of Sri Lanka and sometimes defeated Sinhalese kings
- Tamils and other South Indian communities worked as mercenaries for Sinhalese kings
- Tamils and other South Indians went as labourers
- Tamils were probably to the British what the so-called upper castes in India to them. A preferred educated clerk class to rule others. Sinhalese had different identity (Buddhist) to hate them for this.

Be aware that, many Tamils and other South Indians assimilated with Sinhalese in the past (probably making up 20% of present day Sinhalese population....and I suppose all those Sinhalese matrilineages are basically Tamil).

French Jacobian model doesn't apply to India since it's creation just an accident of history. However, its legitimacy comes from its partition which showed people were unclear about civilized definition of a nation. And our major insurgencies still show that dangerous definition based on religion. At present because of our secular constitution it's impossible to accept any Hindu, Muslim or Christian dominated regions' claim of independence.

Strangely, after Independence India has been divided into states based on dominant linguistic identity. So, we have artificially created nations within India. But that has left many smaller linguistic communities discontent. If we start creating states for every language in India then it's going to be a nightmare situation.

Of course, the same linguistic identity hasn't stopped many states again getting divided into smaller states(and still many states on the verge of becoming divided). So, your idea of language defining a nation doesn't appear to work all the times if there are other regional grievances and cultural identities (like that of Yugoslavia).

But somehow I feel your criticism of France is rather superficial. The dominant culture of France appears to be Secularism. And Secularism is a learnt position and not a natural folk culture of any dominant group. And it appears they have even absorbed good things of minority culture (like Corsican human rights).

Would you allow Dravidian languages to be replaced by Hindi or English?
I hope English kills all languages in India so no group will have the feeling that their language has been killed by another dominant group language. The English are not part of our nation thus they are irrelevant.

The ascendancy of English I hope will kill any dominant group behaving as if they are the true identity of a state or the nation and minorities fearing that will be so.

Maju said...

I'm only going to comment further on France. Secularism is not historically the core identity of France, not at all, in the religious aspect it used to be Catholicism and it is still to a large extent.

But religion (or secularism) is not the main aspect of French identity. The main aspect is the language, which is effective vehicle of cultural unification, much more than anything else.

France was born as a residual Germanic-dominated realm in what is now Northern France the Low Countries and parts of West Germany. That's what used to be Francia (the realm of the Franks) in the Dark Ages. Upon the divisions that followed the reign of Charlemagne, the name stuck to the Western part, the one that spoke Romance, mostly for lack of a better name and the prestige of the Frankish dynasty. However all the South and Brittany were not French-speakers. The South spoke mostly other Romances, one of which, Provenzal or Languedocine, was the most prestigious language of the High Middle Ages after Latin, which was like our Sanskrit.

The ethnic, political and feudal divisions of the realm played in the hands of sects (Albigensians, who were fiercely persecuted in the first crusade against other Christians, later Protestants) and foreign powers (notably England). The Hundred Years' War was the first great national impulse for France, consolidating what was before a very weak and divided realm.

It is with this war that France as we know it is born: with a centralized monarchic (nor presidentialist) state. While French language got a boost with that (and also with the earlier Norman conquest of England and the temporary residence of the Popes at Avignon), what was most strongly boosted was the polity as such, identified with the monarch and the Catholic Church.

This in turn caused the wars of religion, with the dissidents again being strong in the South. And for a change they won, more or less. In the mid-run Protestantism was again persecuted anyhow and with it Occitan, Gascon and Basque identity.

This caused emigration to Acadie but also eventually, together with other causes, triggered the French Revolution. This revolution is not just at the core of French identity but at that of all modern Europe (except possibly Britain). In any case, it was a second boost to French identity, which since then has used the revolutionary icons to impose the Northern identity to all the territory, with some success, sadly enough.

The state was also then extremely centralized, dissolving all provinces (historical and ethnic autonomous regions) and replacing them by a ultra-rationalist and monotonous departamental organization that more often than not has no historical roots.

It may be your dream but it's not mine. I think that a model like that of India or the USSR are much better. Because I think that collaboration can only be based on mutual respect and that democracy must be a reality for all, not just some. While in the long run a centralist Jacobin model can be imposed, in the process (and the process can be "eternally" long) a lot of conflicts will arise.