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11 February, 2018 11:29:46 AM

2018: will history repeat itself?

Donald Trump's unexpected victory in America in the presidential election has given rise to fear among some people that a new ‘fascism’ is sweeping America
Abdul Gaffar choudhury

Perhaps 2018 will be a very crucial year not only for Bangladesh but for the whole world. Some western observers have compared it with the year 1938 of the last century, when the world was just passing through the period of the great economic depression. Fascism was victorious in Germany, Italy and Spain and was preparing for world domination. The British Empire was not stable and Gandhi and the Congress were agitating for the full independence of India. The Munich treaty between Britain and Germany was not working well. After invading Austria, Hitler was preparing to invade Poland. In Asia, Japan and China were engaged in an endless war. Japan was preparing for an invasion in South-east Asia and the possibility of a second world war was looming large over the sky of Europe.
Now according to some western analysts in 2018 the world is passing through an almost similar situation. Donald Trump's unexpected victory in America in the Presidential election has given rise to fear among some people that a new fascism is sweeping America under the cover of American ultra-nationalism. Some American political pundits predicted Trump cannot become a Hitler because of the strong democratic American constitution, which was absent in Germany in the early period of the last century. But still the world is passing through a period of turmoil for democracy, peace and political stability. A war of destruction is going on in the Middle-east from the last part of the previous century. Trump administration did not go for quelling it but added more dangerous fuel to the crisis. Trump's earlier hate-Muslim and his continuing anti-immigration policies, some critics observe, is almost like Hitler's anti-Jewish stand. Once almighty Britain is now a lone and weak country, isolated from the commonwealth and the European Union both.

Britain was once head of the commonwealth countries, which were once British colonies. Britain's source of political and economic strength was once this commonwealth. But the British leaders thought that if they weaken and ignore the commonwealth and join the European Union, they could compensate their loss of empire in Asia and Africa. Moreover they will be free from the tide of the black and brown immigrants in their country. A British leader like Enoch Powell was deadly against this so-called 'black' and 'brown' immigrants and warned his nation that the clashes between White British and their black immigrants would create a sea of blood in Britain. Enoch Powell died a long time ago but his prediction did not come true, though there were some sporadic riots among the White and black communities, especially between the British and


Britain's marriage with the European Union was not a happy one. They could not participate fully in the monetary system of Europe. Their policy towards America is not the same. European Union wants to maintain an alliance in defence with America but not to toe every whim to keep American supremacy over Europe. On the other hand, Britain is totally under American hegemony. The Labour Party, under the leadership of Tony Blair was partner of President Bush's illegal war ventures. Even the present Theresa May government expected that if their Brexit policy is successful and they come out of European Union, then America will come out to save them from economic crisis. America and Britain's economic ties would be more strengthened. But that did not happen. May was the first foreign leader who visited Trump after his victory and Trump also had expressed much affection for Theresa May. But it was a premature love. It did not last long because of Trump's arrogant behaviour and utterances. Now the question is because of the strong anti-trump public opinion in the country if Trump will visit or be willing to visit Britain in near future. There is speculation in the British newspapers whether he will be invited to Harry and Meghan's wedding or if invited if he will attend it.

Our next-door neighbour India, the great ally of our Independence war is also passing through a critical phase. In Soviet Union, after 70 years the Socialist system collapsed. In India- the greatest democracy in the world, secular democracy is also decaying. The rise of Hindutava in India is the greatest threat to peace and democracy for Asia. The religious extremism in the name of Islam has destroyed Pakistan, now it is a killing field. If Indian democracy after its 70 years of existence is destroyed or polluted by religious fascism, then it will affect the political stability of all the neighbouring countries. The present BJP government in Delhi is trying to erase the memories of Gandhi, the great preacher of nonviolence and Nehru, the architect of modern democratic India from the heart of the people and to malign their characters. If they succeed the very basis of Indian democracy will collapse after 70 years like socialism in Soviet Union. It will destroy the unity of India and increase regional conflict and war.

In this background America is steering a new Asian cold war between India and China, who are both the emerging great powers in Asia. China is no more a socialist country. They are pursuing the system of global capitalism under the cover of a communist political system. Chinese nationalism is now revived and jingoistic. So there is little hope that their competition with India or India's suspicion of Chinese motives will help to establish lasting and peaceful relation between the two Asian giants. Already the two country's competition to woo the Myanmar Junta has complicated the peaceful solution of the Rohingya issue. It has affected Bangladesh politically and economically.

In this background of the world situation Bangladesh, though under a democratic and secular government after a long time is not safe from the international cross currents. Bangladesh is also threatened by religious terrorism and communalism. They are combined now with a class of urban elite and so called civil society to thwart the structure of the very fragile democracy in Bangladesh. A general election is going to be held at the end of this year. That may decide the future of the country. Whether Bangladesh will remain a secular and democratic state or surrender to the unholy alliance of extremism and opportunism that may be decided in this crucial year. In 1938 a shadow of a war and destruction was looming in the sky of Europe. In 2018 whether the same shadow will be looming over the sky of both Europe and Asia we do not know. Our only hope is that there will be a silver lining in this darkest cloud. We hope against hope that this year may usher a new dawn for the world fighting against this darkness and confusion.

London, Friday  9th, February, 2018



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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