Future scenario for the Indian subcontinent – 3 : Bangladesh and the planned regime yet to come

Posted on November 8, 2008. Filed under: Army, Bangladesh, Bengal, India, Islam, Islamic propaganda, Muslims, Pakistan, Politics, religion |

Now that the Election Commission “of” (the technical and formal legal separation of the Election Commission as a completely independent entity can have some legal complications in the future as part of the broader problem of legitimacy of entire “reformation” process)  the “interim” “Caretaker” government of Bangladesh has announced a tentative schedule for the December parliamentary elections, the question of the nature of the future regime comes up. The case of this “regime to be” is of crucial significance as an indication of how Islamic politics in South Asia is going to transform itself in the near future.

As I have speculated before, the elections will take place only if the two major groupings in Bangladeshi elite can be coerced into agreeing to the long term agenda of the military and its international allies – which come under two major mutually dependent but antagonistic international groups – the predominantly Christian, white industrial export oriented West, and the Islamic oil-gas exporters of the Middle East (historically no less colour based racist compared to Europe – for this it is enough to look at the Arabic and Persian Islamic chroniclers who inevitably refer to the people of Indic origin abusively and derisively as “black faced Hindoo”, or are always very conscious of “white” or “black” colour in the Indians and write appreciatively of “white” whenever they see them in an otherwise “dark” subcontinent – see Firishta, Biladuri, Masudi, and many others, especially the Arabic ones). The mutual dependence between these two international “blocks” (not homogeneous, they have their own internal conflicts, but here I refer to their block nature in terms of Bangladesh only) is over “energy” and “markets”, and the conflict is of course over “ideological domination” over the world (in both religions, historically at a practical implementation religion has always been very nearly indistinguishable from biological greed – i.e., religions simply justify and “legalize” taking over of the biological resources of the “others”).

The Awami League has shown its flexibility already (as it has done also on many occasions previously) by possibly agreeing to the terms and conditions which like many other such “agreements” before, will never be made public. As I have also speculated before, the two weapons of “persuasion” in this has most likely been (1) mediation by the West (which probably affected the change in the “mood” and “modus operandi” of the caretaker government over the last one year from aggressive deconstruction of the political apparatus to rehabilitation of the political apparatus) (2) the use of the trump card of the “Jamaat” – which typically is used by the military-feudal-business elite leadership to keep the “anti-Urdu non-Jihadist Bengali” elements in check.

The case of the BNP is more interesting. I have already written about my assessment that the elite and its social support heavily leans towards Islamic authoritarianism, and they remain the overall dominant force in Bangladesh politics. This ideological leaning should not be confused with formal party affiliations, as its elements will appear all across the political spectrum with the exception of perhaps the extreme Left. One of the features of any society where Islam has managed to finish off “almost all ideological opponents” is a distinctive feature  of the mass psychological acceptance of “authority” endorsed by the Islamic theologians- which is consistent with the basic tenor of the Quranic and Hadithic “revelation”  as a submission to some authority – and inevitably to the personification of that authority. In the struggle for claim over this authority the theologians always appear to have been stronger, and have always managed to keep Islamic societies closer to their own fossilized mindset that lives in the 7th century Arabian desert. Because Islam cannot deal with the complexity of modern science and technologically complex socio-economic superstructure, the theologians whose sole power derives from the existence of as near a copy as possible to the society of the prophet of Islam, the theocracy is ruthless in taking societies back as far as possible to their primitive ideal.

In the background of the history of Bangladesh, all this implies the incomplete Islamization of the region stemming from the late intrusion of Islam into the heartlands of Bengal, and the protracted struggle between predatory Islam and the non-Muslims as evident in numerous legends (which sometimes reveal the military resistance and the essentially initial military subjugation of mainly non-violent Buddhist groups followed by supposedly “peaceful” conversion as per modern propaganda – typically in modern renditions of the “spiritual” conquest by Islamic preachers and adventurers the chronicled accounts of initial military raids are either completely avoided or when undeniable are “mumbled” away  as “defensive” actions, and the historically significant clues as to the presence of some major Islamic state-military machine in close proximity is also suppressed) and significant clues in the British censuses which indicate slightly less than half the population still remaining non-Muslim at the beginning of British Imperialist presence. This “incomplete” Islamization of Bengal was always a problem with the theocracy of Islam and their closely linked patrons in Islamic state machinery. To a certain extent, with the help of the British, and the political dishonesty of the Nehru-Gandhi axis, they managed to revive the classic Jihadi Islamic strategy of ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims to capture land, wealth and women of non-Muslims, during the partition of India to create Pakistan, and thereafter manipulate social conditions to ensure that non-muslims continue to “emigrate” out of Islamic Bengal.

The process having accelerated during the buildup to the Liberation War of 1971, (exact proportions of non-Muslims raped, murdered or forced to flee as refugees compared to overall estimates are never concretely discussed, and typically “patriotically” dismissed as all part of overall Bangladeshi casualties implying that any further demographic analysis which might reveal the basic Islamic Jihadi bias against non-Muslims would be “unpatriotic”), Bangladesh’s elite cleverly managed three basic objectives (1) reducing the number of non-Muslims (the census revelations of missing Hindu populations are indirectly blamed on the “unpatriotic” India leaning mindset of “Hindus”) and gaining their lands (the Enemy Property Act which was practically a license for Muslims to take over “Hindu” property without any compensation enacted by Pakistan was retained for a long time in independent Bangladesh) (2) manage to exclude West Pakistani elite from exploitation of Bangladesh resources which the elite could now control for their own private profit through the achievement of an independent nation (3) reestablish more direct ties and connections with the Islamic heartland as an independent nation without having to go through the regimes of Pakistan.

We have to remember that a substantial portion of Bangladeshi elite are ethnically descended from pre-Islamic non-Muslim elite, who as late as the waning Mughal period were converting into Islam to preserve their political and feudal existence. This is also evident in the anthropological composition and appearance of the spectrum of elite leadership – even if they have high flying claims of descent from “illustrious” Arabic or Persian Islamic roots.  The fundamental concern of this elite is to hold on to power and hence overall control of exploitation of resources. There could also be a basic continuity of cynical Brahmanical priestly theocracy under the new garb of Islam which provides lots of opportunities to reduce embarrassment for evidence of personal biological greed compared to pre-Muslim ideologies. The incomplete Islamization has paradoxically given rise to this peculiar situation of polity in Bangladesh – it has transformed Brahminical theocratic exploitation (the Brahmins could have been eager converts as they were numerically weaker compared to the Buddhists, and could have found a better excuse for their greed  in Islamic formalism) into a Islam justified feudal mindset and claims of authority. Having separated from the main subcontinental culture with violence, the elite needs the support of the Islamic power centres of Saudi Arabia and Iran, to maintain the predominance of Islamic theology which would allow a more natural submission of the non-elite to that of the elite – this comes out in the frequent defiant admissions of favouring “Islam” or “refusal to take action against Islamic theocracy” by spokespersons of the military-elite “caretaker” governments as well as “past” leaders from the military.

In the mindset of the elite, the key to holding onto state power is the deepening of Islamic authority under their political control, as otherwise the cultural tendencies of the Bengali’s (like their non-Muslim brothers in West Bengal) would lead them to experimentation of the most radical of modern ideologies which usually spells disaster for what one Bangladeshi author has translated as “timber mullah’s” (I would rather translate it as “dimwit”).

The Jamaat has been re-kitted out in formal political clothes that would make it less embarrassing for the military political elite  in its international posturing towards the West, and promptly adopted into the political process. This is the key force of Islamic theocracy, and will never be abandoned by the elite. It will be used to keep those in favour of modernization and weakening of theocracy in the left-of-centre/centre as in the fourteen party alliance around the AL, under pressure. It will also be used to bring around the remaining right wing of the elite’s broader social basis of support  based around the BNP into the agenda of the military leadership. The BNP leadership may rail its rhetoric against the “current government” in field “rabble-rousing” for political credibility, but incredible as it may sound, it is the wee little tail of Jamaat that will wag the dog of the right wing “led” by the BNP.

With consistent and persistent state patronage and extensive foreign support, Islamic theocracy has substantial hold on the common Bangladeshi now. It will be the height of political stupidity to assume that the Right has taken a knocking and will come out the worst in the “elections”. The campaign of the sector Commanders against the Jamaat and the existing “Rajakars” will not be very successful, as Jamaat’s role has been carefully politically rehabilitated by the military and allied political elite. Unless the West has worked out a compromise with the Saudis, to include and give a share of power to the AL, the military will actually ensure that the forces “centred” around Jamaat will win the elections to form the new regime.

This regime will be characterized by a strengthened Islamic theocracy, greater role of Islam in the long term internal and international policies, greater indirect military support, involvement in, control and mobilization of the Islamic forces, long-term eventual rise of Jamaaat as the dominant political force, greater penetration of the influence of the theologians into academics and the media and overt and covert liquidation of cultural entities deemed to be a threat to absolute eventual control by the Islamic forces (more of incidents like vandalization of the statue of the “integrative” “syncretic” Baul “emperor” will take place without any state retribution).

Part 2

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