In the post-cold war era, India has moved from a policy of non-alignment to a policy of multi-alignment. This means that India has friendly relations with almost all-powerful and developing nations.
Today India is carving out a unique path for itself. Such an approach provides prominence and exposes India to the harmful behind-curtain activities by some of the powers, which are not happy with the present situation. They join the usual suspects, China and Pakistan, to keep India unsettled and uncomfortable and stop it from becoming too rich and powerful. So, what are their techniques and agendas? How would they keep India under check and try to hamper the Indian story going smoothly?
One of the most effective methods of unsettling a country is by starting a separatist movement. It is essential to identify the regions of a nation that are suitable for such activities. One would be amazed to learn that if the poorest and least developed ethnically distinct areas are ideal for the separatist movement, then even the wealthiest region could also be utilized for the cause. The methodology used would be different.
Another critical aspect of the separatist movement is that there should be easy access to that region. That is the reason border states are most suitable for such movements. Poor states have enough reasons to believe that they are marginalized. They can also provide an unhindered supply of unemployed and frustrated youth. On the other hand, wealthy states have to be convinced that their hard-earned funds are being squandered away on other undeserving states.
Civil War And Mass Movements
While separatist movements keep a country unsettled, they rarely break up a nation. On the other hand, civil wars and mass movements give quick results in a short period. Civil wars are most effective in democracies where unhappy citizens have the power to vote out the politician.
To start with, mass movements and civil wars need an objective and a text to achieve that objective. Al-Qaeda had Osama bin Laden’s ‘Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.’ Muammar Gaddafi copied Mao’s Red Book and produced his own Green Book. Adolf Hitler gave Nazi groups Mein Kampf. In the United States, William Pierce gave white supremacist groups, The Turner Diaries. In China, they have ‘Xi Jinping Thought.’ The list is endless.
Once the text is ready, the time comes to implement it. The first step in that direction is to identify the groups who would take that agenda forward and impress upon them that they are distinct people from the rest. The second step is to adopt an attire, a symbol, and a slogan that could be alien to the land to symbolize and identity with a much bigger sect, group, or cult, elsewhere.
The third step is to question and mock every local practice, every reform, and decision taken by the government. The fourth step would be to project that the group’s practices are superior, others are an inferior lot, and put across weird demands like banning music and reading only the literature related to movement, etc.
The next step is a big jump when the violence is introduced to take on the other groups or spread general terror. Time also becomes ripe to go on propaganda blitzkrieg and dehumanize the existing leaders. Buy or fund as many media houses as possible. Reputed international writers and intellectuals’ services are also taken to put extreme pressure on the local government.
While the huge rallies are suitable for international attention, they put the spotlight on participants. Those exposed through such protests get on the police watch list and get arrested occasionally. The real work is done by cell-style leaderless resistance. One FBI director once stated that “thousands of these small phantom cells are an intelligence nightmare for a government.”
The foot soldiers of these cell-style leaderless groups are indoctrinated into ‘accelerationism.’ Accelerationism theory states that the modern ways of governance are irreparably corrupt and should be replaced by an ancient or different system.
When the movement shifts from rallies to violent phase a war of attrition begins. A large number of individuals as well as infrastructures are targeted. Roads, railways, business hubs, and power plants etc. are blocked from public use. The unbearable pain makes even the citizens not participating in the movement dissatisfied. If the government of the day is still not toppled, then intimidation is the best solution. The intimidation phase is to target people who matter, and who have power. Idea is to make them feel powerless and run for own safety rather than implementing the law of the land.
Now, if there are more groups than one, then they would have competition among themselves to outdo each other. More powerful groups would make more lethal attacks to solidify their position. They would also spoil the chances of any peace between government agencies and any moderate group.
In 1979, Iranian radicals had kidnapped fifty-two Americans in Tehran not because relations between the United States and Iran were worsening. It was done because Mehdi Bazargan, Iran’s relatively moderate prime minister, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the U.S. national security adviser were seen shaking hands in a photograph. The handshake was mistaken for a sign of the restoration of harmony.
The Leader And The Able Lieutenants
A movement is nothing without leaders and followers. Premature introduction of a movement and the leader is a recipe for failure. Conditions are ripe when frustration is at its peak; people are looking out for a leader and ready to obey him at any cost.
Real leaders should never be exposed. If possible, the real leader should be in a different location altogether. These real leaders should be able to create a secondary core team and have a hold over that team. The secondary leaders should have their own teams. Under the public gaze should be only the secondary leaders and their teams.
These secondary leaders should be men of words. Failed scholars, author, artist, scientist, etc. These people are incurably frustrated and most vehement. They are the permanent misfits with an unfulfilled craving for creative work. They try to write, paint, compose, etcetera, and fail decisively.
The core team need not have originality or great intellect. They should just evoke sense of liberation, be charismatic, and look visionary. The average intelligence ensures they are never on their own and always obey the orders of the main leaders.
It is important, that to succeed the core team gives the movement shape of a compact corporate organization right from the beginning. It should take in and incorporate all newcomers in a professional manner. Idea is to make new joiners forget their individual self and get immersed into a closely knit and motivated corporate entity.
The leaders should continuously remind the followers of a glorious past and a promise of magnificent future. There is no need to make each individual understand the doctrine. They should just believe in it. The doctrine should be rather incomprehensible, vague and have no source to corroborate with.
The main leaders must never forget that a mass movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and given final shape by the men of action.
Therefore, once the present leadership has been discredited by the men of words, fanatics, and men of action move in. Very rarely, the men of word would have the capacity to take the movement to the consolidation phase. Lenin was one rare example of the man of word, fanatic, and the man of action, all in one. This is why Fascism and Naziism, being single-leader movements, failed, and communism thrived.
Fanatics’ primary domain is Chaos. They usher in new beginnings, rubbish all reforms, thrives on chaos and helps the old order collapse. While men of word hate chaos, fanatics are most non-creative people and believe in destruction.
A fanatic is a stop-gap arrangement and cannot sustain a new beginning. Therefore, at the right moment, the men of action appear to replace chaos with the order, a new desired order.
The Foot Soldier: The Believer
Frustration is the first requirement to be a foot soldier. This doesn’t imply that poor or deprived are always frustrated. Poor from close knit and compact groups are immune to their plight. It would take a disaster, an invasion, a disease, communal disharmony to open their eyes to their plight and give rise to frustration.
Adolescent youth, unemployed college graduates, veterans, new or illegal immigrants, religious fanatics and the likes make best foot soldiers. They are restless, disgruntled and tormented by the fear that their best years will be squandered before they reach their goal.
The foot soldiers must be most violent, and indisciplined troublemakers for the society but most obedient to the movement. The Japanese, Nazi and Islamic State followers displayed these dual traits.
When foot soldiers are ready for one movement, they are prepared for another movement too. It is the leader who has to decide when the mission of one movement is over, and time is ripe to shift to another movement. That is the reason one sees the same familiar faces in different movements repeatedly.
The movement is bound to fail when it converts from self-renunciation to self-advancement. In the early days of movement, many leaders and foot soldiers would join in to work on their fortune. Therefore, right from the beginning, the self-interest has to be made very evil, unclean and tainted.
The Requirement Of A Devil
Mass movements can survive without God but never without a devil. Hate is the prime requirement for a movement to succeed. Therefore right, in the beginning, a person of interest should be chosen. The whole movement would thrive on hating him or her. Hate bonds people much more than love.
It is important that a leader always has a person, caste or race to hate. Chiang Kai-shek was head of the Nationalist government in China (1928–49) and later in Taiwan (1949–75). When the Japanese were plundering his country, he couldn’t convert that hatred into mass hysteria. Once the Japanese enemy disappeared from the scene, at the end of the world war, even then he failed to find a new enemy to hate. Thus, people lost enthusiasm, and he lost China to Mao.
On the other hand, Kemal Ataturk of Turkey could effectively use nationalism to modernize his country. Discontent in itself is no remedy for a change. Discontent has to be followed by dissatisfaction. Therefore, hope in the present government, system, religion, or the country itself has to vanish.
Propaganda is very important tool in the hands of the main leaders. Propaganda enters only in to open and willing minds. The fears, hopes and passions should be used to block their mind from the reality. They see, hear and feel things coming from the propagandist what they have already visualized in their heart and mind. At times little coercion from the propagandist works. It has been noticed that the leaders and the foot soldier who suffer the most become the most ardent and cruel believers of the movement.
Best way to propel propaganda is through intellectuals, print, electronic and social media. Countries like China have entered Indian intellectual spaces. Chinese intelligence services have well-established themselves into the Indian entertainment sector and academia. They have managed to do so by making generous donations directly or through proxies. They regularly conduct exchange programmes among think-tanks and university students.
Today most Indian universities are left leaning. Most of India’s educational and online news and content aggregators have received investment directly or indirectly from companies related to the Chinese Communist Party. Therefore, in a way, they control our and our children’s present and future thoughts.
If one leaves aside problems faced by the British Crown post-World War two, the British Raj made some fundamental mistakes in India. Instead of cultivating relationships with Nizams, Maharajas, Nawabs, and Gaekwads etc they should have made an effort to win the Indian intellectuals. Ignoring the Indian intellectuals costed them ‘the jewel in the crown.’
The fact is that snobbish British lacked the aptitude to get along with intellectuals. They were men of action and had flawed belief in superiority of the British. They mostly disrespected the Indian intellectuals and relied mainly on the action. The education system they were trying on Indians became their nemesis. They never encouraged the Indians to become engineers, doctors, technicians or any other professional but men of words. And that trickery instead of safeguarding British rule, hastened its end.
The demise of the Mughal empire and British Raj is summed up very well by the American philosopher Eric Hoffer — “Christianity and Islam made little headway against Hinduism because the Sanatan religion had the ardent allegiance of the learned men and intellectuals. The Brahmins and their disciples enjoyed an exalted status in India, where the school and the book supplanted the temple and the nation. In any social order where the reign of learned men is so supreme, no opposition can develop within, and no foreign mass movement can gain a foothold.”
Anti-CAA protests, farmers’ protests, Delhi riots and a series of other events show clearcut patterns of what we discussed in the preceding paragraphs. The leadership of the nation must understand the patterns in these methodologies. Ignoring a movement won’t help. Since older the movement gets, more fanatical, orthodox, and difficult to handle it becomes. Government must also recognize, nurture and provide for the men of word and intellectuals and safeguard them from external and internal threats. Unlike the British Raj, foreign powers know that the first step in destabilization of India would be achieved by the men of words, and they are out to get them.
Gratitude: This writing is inspired by the writings of George Orwell, Vaclan Havel, Albert Camus, Czeslaw Milosz, Hannah Arendt, Eric Hoffer and many more.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Chanakya Forum. All information provided in this article including timeliness, completeness, accuracy, suitability or validity of information referenced therein, is the sole responsibility of the author. www.chanakyaforum.com does not assume any responsibility for the same.
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