Hindutva and Islamism: Twins in Annihilation

Ranjit Hoskote
Gwangju, September 5th, 13:45 - 13:00

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Hindutva and Islamism are both movements of revanchism and annihilatory impact, which claim to speak in the name of a pure religious tradition that has been tainted and threatened by alien influences. In a zone of cultural confluence such as South Asia, these global movements are at war with one another: to Hindutva, secular modernity as well as Islam and Islamism are the enemy; to Islamism, secular modernity as well as Hinduism and Hindutva are the enemy. In actuality, these seemingly opposed movements are twins, mirror images, with deep foundations in the same thematics of avant-garde revolutionary activity, ethnic purification, total war and perpetual violence towards the Other, which characterised several early-20th-century ideologies including Nazism, Fascism, Bolshevism, Trotskyite theory and Carrelian biology. Arising out of the modern, Hindutva and Islamism have little sanction in Hinduism and Islam, respectively: the traditions in whose name they claim to speak and act have no place for them. Indeed, Hindutva and Islamism are products of the 20th century: ideologies that employ the sinister possibilities of the modern to overturn the emancipatory possibilities of the modern, which leads me to regard them as projects in counter-modernity.