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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.


  • The 'progressive' people in this country show a remarkable eagerness to see communalism even in the most harmless observations of [Hindu] religious leaders, while overlooking such outrageously communal and provocative statements as the one made by the former government official Syed Shahabuddin, that contact with the Hindus debased the Muslim, or the one by Syed Abdullah Bukhari, the Imam of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, that the Muslims would resort to a civil war.
    • Subhash Chandra Sarkar, The Independent, 7/11/1990. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • 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
  • An active communalism not only postulates that people who share a religion, have common secular interests ; it also grants them (or withholds from them) secular rights on the basis of their belonging to a given religion. Therefore, it is certainly a case of active communalism when we find the secular Constitution of India (which limits its own authority to secular matters), in its Article 30, guaranteeing the secular right to set up educational institutions of their choice exclusively to minorities, including religious minorities. This case of discrimination against the majority community is outright communalism. Yet, no secularist raises his voice against it. On the contrary, when pressed for an opinion, they support it. .... There is absolutely no questioning of the religious rights of the minorities in India, so if Mr. Akbar raises issues involving the minorities, it must be non-religious issues, in which the category of religious community (minority) does not properly apply. From the moment the religious rights of the minorities are guaranteed, any other talk of minorities is fundamentally communalist. Every single article of law not dealing with the exercise of religious community as a legally relevant unit of organization, is an element of communalism in the legal framework of the state, and should be repudiated in a truly secular-set-up. ... Islam is communal through and through, preaching a total abyss between its own community members and the rest of humanity. So, very generally, the cause of communal riots is Islam. The cure is Sanatana Dharma. It teaches that everything is generated by thought. While seemingly a difficult notion, in this context it is very easy to understand : the physical problem of communal riots is but the materialization of communal thinking. This communal thinking should be identified : its most potent and consistent form is the Islamic doctrine of the struggle between Momin and Kafir....
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • If every time there is an inter-communal conflict, the majority is blamed regardless of the merits of the question... the springs of traditional tolerance will dry up.
    • Kanhaiya Lal Munshi in a letter to Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, quoted from Kishwar, Madhu (2014). Modi, Muslims and media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat. p.210, with quote from K.M. Munshi, Indian Constitutional Documents: Pilgrimage to Freedom, 1902-1950
  • These our well-meaning but unthinking friends take their dreams for realities. That is why they are impatient of communal tangles and attribute them to communal organizations. But the solid fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of a cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and the Moslems. When time is ripe you can solve them; but you cannot suppress them by merely refusing recognition of them. It is safer to diagnose and treat deep-seated disease than to ignore it. Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India. And as it has happened in many countries under similar situation in the world the utmost that we can do under the circumstances is to form an Indian State in which none is allowed any special weightage of representation and none is paid an extra-price to buy his loyalty to the State. Mercenaries are paid and bought off, not sons of the Motherland to fight in her defence.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Hindu Rashtra Darshan, quoted in part in Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.332

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