Modi – A Political Biography

Scott Alexander in Astral Codex Ten:

I have a friend who studied the history of fascism. She gets angry when people call Trump (or some other villain du jour) fascist. “Words have meanings! Fascism isn’t just any right-winger you dislike!” Maybe she takes this a little too far; by a strict definition, she’s not even sure Franco qualifies.

Anyway, I mention this because she says Narendra Modi, the current prime minister of India, is absolutely, literally, a fascist.

This is a strong claim, but Balakrishna Moonje helped found the precursor to Modi’s party. He went on a fact-finding trip to fascist Italy, met Mussolini, decided he had the right idea, and told the Indian papers that he wanted to:

“…imitate the youth movement of Germany and the Balilla and Fascist organisations of Italy. I think they are eminently suited for introduction in India, adapting them to suit the special conditions. I have been very much impressed by these movements and I have seen their activities with my own eyes in all details.”

So let’s at least say this isn’t the least fascist-inspired group around. It’s not that there aren’t extenuating circumstances. Indian independence movements of the time were fighting Britain, which made the fascist powers natural allies. And in 1934 when Moonje met Mussolini nobody had seen just how badly fascism could go. Still, not the sort of pedigree you want for your country’s ruling party.

More here.