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Communalism usually refers to a system that integrates communal ownership and federations of highly localized independent communities. A prominent libertarian socialist, Murray Bookchin, defines the Communalism political philosophy that he developed as "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation", as well as "the principles and practice of communal ownership". The term 'government' in this case does not imply an acceptance of a State or top-down hierarchy.


  • Its roots [of the term 'communalism'] lie in the British colonial policy of taking “communities” as the relevant units in recruitment or in the allotment of seats in representative assemblies. Originally, the term had no pejorative connotation, but Indian nationalists in the freedom movement objected to these “communal” policies which allegedly aimed at keeping the Indian population divided. Indeed, the biggest worry of the freedom movement was the “communalist” collaboration of the Muslim League with the colonial administration: in exchange for “communal” electorates and recruitment quota, the party claiming to represent the Indian Muslims agreed to stay aloof from the anti-British agitation. Today, “communalism” is one of those labels allotted exclusively to people who reject it; it is a term of abuse. Even people who advocate communal recruitment quota (a demand recently revived by an array of Muslim organizations) are now self-described “secularists” and signatories to every new “National Manifesto [...] Against Communalism.... Jamaat-i-Islami (whose Pakistani wing has campaigned for decades, and with success, for the desecularization of the state) attacks “communalism” in the name of “secularism”. I cannot recall a single issue of the Islamist papers Radiance and Muslim India which failed to brandish “secularism” and denounce “communalism”. ... Imposition of an exonym, especially a pejorative one like "coummunalist", must be considered a statement of involvement in an anti-Hindu-revivalist or so-called "anti-communal" crusade...
    • Elst Koenraad, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001),p.15-18
  • The main opposition to the unapologetic communalism of the British and the Muslim League came not from Congress (except initially), but from the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindutva movement was born in the struggle against communalism; that struggle was its very raison d'être. The HMS's stated programme was to abolish communalism and make India an unalloyed democracy without separate electorates... Very quickly, accurate usage of the term 'communal' was eclipsed by muddled usage.... Today... politicians and journalists and scholars systematically and exclusively apply the term to a movement ... which has always opposed those very policies which were described by their own proponents as 'communal'. And where the term does apply, as in the co-existence of separate religion-based Personal Law systems..., it is studiously avoided.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.242-3

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