Exactly 73years ago Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu Communal fanatic who made an impact on humanity at large as few individuals ever did in the history of mankind. Whether for good or evil. few men ever on the face of this earth could mobilise or influence people to the extent or manner Gandhi did .Arguably there is no man in this millennium in India who could understand the language or idioms of the masses and relate to them in the depth of Gandhi. He could encompass every part of India to touch the very core of the soul in the masses.
Gandhi has been analyzed in 3 different perspectives .One camp classifies him at the level of a prophet or a great champion of non -violence and thus as a liberator of mankind. This is the dominant view in India and the world. The 2nd one is critical of Gandhi’s opposition to capitalism, caste and landlordism but recognizes Gandhi as a truly anti-British mass leader who won independence for India. The 3rd one is that which classifies Gandhi as an agent of British imperialism and the Comprador bourgeoisie as well as completely casteist and communal. This view substantiates that Gandhi only projected himself of being anti -imperialist and created movements to give them a nationalist colour but in essence to divert genuine anti-imperialist struggles or anti-feudal ones.
In my view however historical a figure he was in essence not an anti imperialist crusader but a reactionary who championed the interest of the propertied classes. He bent or twisted or even attempted to suppress any genuine peasant struggle, workers strike or army boycott opposing any movement for boycotting rent or tax to landlords. He had the genius of a magician like no leader in a 3rd world country ever in disguising himself as the saint of the masses and conceals his class character as a representative of the comprador classes. The Western countries hailed him as a liberator of the Indian masses and his ideology as a model for emancipation of people worldwide to protect the interests of imperialist hegemony prevent any confrontation with the monopoly of imperialism. He went out of the way to propagate trusteeship of workers with big industrialists like G.D. Birla as well as peasants with landlords .There was no agenda in his programme for confiscation of land or no-rent protest. Morally he suppressed every movement when it took a genuine mass character and confrontation of the peasantry with landlords or of workers against industrialists in the name of non-violence. Gandhi did not allow any major struggle to mature into genuine armed revolutionary resistance struggles. Morally he suppressed every genuine struggle crystallizing that struck British imperialism in its very belly.
I feel because of crumbling British economy the British rulers were compelled to leave India in any course. The verdict of Indian Independence was not because of Gandhi or Subash Chandra Bose but because of the disintegration or collapse of the British economy with Britain virtually unable to afford to keep India as a colony. It is also pertinent that the India from 1947 which Gandhi left behind was not a genuine democracy but one that was a state subservient to Imperialism and feudalism and thus one of the comprador bourgeoisies.
Gandhi’s trusteeship policies would be a blessing for the big corporates in capitalizing their monopoly over sections like workers, peasants and Adivasis. His panchayat raj concept advocated practice of the medieval days and would be used totally in favour of the landlords or rich peasantry. Still it is possible that Gandhi’s methods may have been modified in context of the modern age, rejecting the earlier dogma of the credibility of the big industrialists
Today if applying Gandhism many a revolutionary struggle would be diffused to the core in every sphere of society. The Adivasis resistance in Kalinagar in Kalahindi in Oriisa or Chattisgarh, the resistance of Maruti workers, the struggles of dalit agricultural workers, or the confrontation of globalisation sponsored policies by the landed peasantry would would loose their very backbone with no base to build self-defence against opressors.Today it would have been virtually suicidal for the farmers in Delhi to emerge victorious applying Gandhi’s methods of Satyagraha. Even if not asserting revolutionary violence the masses needed weapons in self-defence to protect mass movements. Without them land rights could never have been won by the peasantry , Khalistani fundamentalist forces not confronted. With Gandhian submissive methods no workers struggle, be it in Kanoria Jute mill in 1994 ,Girni Kamagar workers in Mumbai in 1992 or in Ludhiana Textile workers in 2014 be successful. We can all learn the lessons from the setback to the Jayparakash Naryan movement in Bihar or in the rest of the country ,which even colluded with the RSS Hindutva brigade.
It is a travesty today that several progressive intellectuals have jumped to the Gandhi bandwagon within the democratic camp and are glorifying his. contribution as a liberator. Even revolutionary journal ‘Frontier Weekly’’ is flooded with such articles as well as progressive blogs.Morally they are distorting the essence of his reactionary historical role. They fail to highlight how Gandhism is an obstacle to the crystallisation of revolutionary democratic movements against capitalism or imperialism. Gandhian non-violence is seen as a solution, failing to reflect how it nullifies the essence of democratic revolutionary class struggle or liberation from exploitation.
Writers like Louis Fisher although most pictorial or illustrative in biographies hailed Gandhi as some kind of a prophet or crusader for liberation, distorting his compromise with the British colonialists at so many junctures. Ironically even journalist Edgar Snow, who earlier exposed Gandhi supporting the big bourgeoisie, glorified Gandhi’s role in the very house of industrialist GD Birla.Albert Einstein however a great genius he was failed to understand Gandhi’s true nature when stating” Scarce has anyone with such flesh, blood and bones ever existed on this earth.”
I feel historians must understand the phenomena that made Gandhi being eulogised like a prophet .It would even be a challenge to the psychologists.
TRUE HISTORICAL CONTRIBUTION
.The base of his political ideology of Satyagraha took birth in South Africa where he took up only the cudgels of the Indian business community and deliberately isolated the African black community whom he termed as savages. His compromising character was revealed on many an occasion when the shape of any struggle against the Dutch took on a militant character and he even supported volunteering of fighting on the side of the British in the Boer war .He also denounced the Zulu resistance in 1906.Winning concessions for India business class but segregating black people was part of his inherent racism. Gandhi also made a series of compromises like in January 1908 against Smuts.
After returning to India he set off from where he took off in South Africa to pursue his path of non-violent resistance Often the situation all over India was reminiscent of many streams turning into an Ocean or a spark billowing into a huge flame .When any major struggle was accentuating like a spark turning into a prairie fire he called the struggle of .He expressed great animosity in any struggle taking the shape of mass strikes, boycott of rent or taxes, or seizure of land.
In Champaran in 1917 he compromised the struggle for a settlement for the peasantry with the Indigo planters. Closing all avenues for abolition of tax payment or receiving the promised wages at market rates. He made no call for non-payment of rent or boycott of Indigo cultivation and only made an impartial inquiry, The same experience was repeated in Kheda area when the struggle took the shape of a no-rent payment protest or for reduction in land revenue. Gandhi in the end betrayed the struggle
In Ahmedabad in 2018 he was responsible for compromising an important struggle between the mill workers and owner for rise in wages through holding repeated meetings during the 3 week long lockout dissuading militancy, asking the workers to demand 35% of the wage and advocating non-violence and avoid picketing to lead to the surrender of the workers who now received less than the 35% per day promised during the lockout.
In the Salt March in March 1930 for 3 continuous weeks the ceremonial boiling of salt took place on the seashore after a march of 78 hand-picked men from Gandhi’s ashram Salt law was violated, foreign cloth boycotted, and foreign cloth shops picketed. After the Salt Satyagraha several peasant movements sprouted up as well as strikes, powerful mass demonstrations, and the Citation. Armoury raid in Bengal, the army revolt in Peshawar ,no-tax movement in Chattarpur, no-rent struggles in Punjab and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, Rohtak in Bihar, tribal armed struggle in Nasik and confiscation of land in Kheda. A huge contingent of workers went on strike in Sholapur and attacked law courts, police stations, railway stations and municipal offices. In Peshawar the struggle grew so intense that the British resorted to aerial bombardment. When the water was simmering at its boiling point Gandhian leadership repeatedly thrust its lid over the pot to diffuse al such struggles.
The non-cooperation movement in 1920-21 began in striking pomp with boycott of foreign goods, law courts, government offices, schools and colleges. But after a while Gandhi began to denounce it wishing to only enforce the boycott of foreign cloth. Significantly the beneficiaries of boycott of foreign cloth, agreed with the interests of the Comprador merchants. Gandhi felt boycott of gods sacrificed millions of the millionaires. Gandhi revealed how he backed the welfare of the comprador merchant princes who sold goods on the domestic market than in the building of indigenous industries. In this movement Gandhi repeatedly coined his religious slogans and classified it as a religious movement.
With Civil disobedience movement at its peak with 90,000 people filling the jails the Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed which morally curtailed all the revolutionary democratic rights .Gandhi even in prison expressed dissatisfaction with the militancy entrapping the whole nation .In the 1931 round table conference he morally projected the cause of the big industrialists like G.D. Birla and the Gandhi-Irwin agreement suspended the civil disobedience movement Not a single democratic headway was made towards self-governance in this event. Noteworthy that no sanction was awarded for the release of the true ‘revolutionary’ political prisoners. The aims of complete independence were thrown into the grave. Only right that was won at was the one of peaceful boycott of foreign cloth and not for any type of militant demonstration, or against British goods specifically.
Gandhi being patronized by G.D. Birla and being editor of his magazine ‘Young India ‘ must be questioned by all progressive historians. Deliberately industrialists like Birla compromised with British capital not creating any wedge with imperialist finance and sponsoring pro-Hindu movements, to the extent of supporting demand for partition.
A t the time of the Quit India Movement of 1942 a flurry of peasant struggles broke out encompassing all over India in Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Midnapore in Bengal, parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, with parallel governments. set up in 1943.Gandhi again called off the struggle when it reached the boiling point.
Gandhi was also indirectly responsible for the death sentence to Bhagat Singh and his comrades who were genuine nationalists and even had the audacity to pretend that he tried to revoke the sentence awarded. In Garwhali he opposed the Hindu and Muslim soldiers laying down their rifles protesting an order to fire on a mob, in the name of performing their duty and promise of allegiance to the British empire. In 1946 he condemned the naval ratings strike which hit British imperialists in their very belt .To top it all he called the Indian army to take armed action on the Kashmiri people in 1947 which violated. These 4 incidents are a testimony to his hypocrisy or dual nature of his non-violence which he allowed to perpetrate by the oppressors on the masses. Ironically the actions of Bhagat Singh throwing the bomb in the assembly in 1928,,Garwhali soldiers laying down arms and refusing to shoot and Naval mutiny did not create a drop of bloodshed but the Gandhian Congress condemned it.
Significant that today in Punjab it is Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his compatriots who are the icons and Gandhi condemned as a traitor, who dumped the very essence of Bhagat Singh’s anti-colonial programme addressed to every section of society into the grave. Garwhali Incident depicts Gandhi’s pro-British sentiments while naval mutiny proves how he was ambiguous to any revolt in the armed forces.
Gandhi to journalist Charles Petrasch on Garwhali Soldiers “A soldier who disobeys an order to fire beaks the oath which he has taken and renders himself guilty of criminal disobedience. I cannot ask officials and soldiers to disobey, for when I am in power I shall in likelihood make use of the same officials and those same soldiers. If I taught them to disobey I should be afraid that they might do the same when in power.”
Gandhi on the naval ratings strike of 1946 “I might have understood if they had combined from top to bottom. This would have meant handing India over the rabble. I would not want to live up to 125 to witness that consummation. I would rather perish in the flames.”
Some sections glorify Gandhi as a champion of secularism and a brother like Jesus Christ. However his speeches repeatedly had powerful pro-Hindu communal overtones like in the Noakhali riots in 1947 when he urged Hindus to take up arms to defend themselves against Muslims .Earlier he even gave patronage to communal fascist leaders like Madan Mohan Malviya. He also to his last tooth defended the caste system and even fasted to oppose Ambedkar’s demands in the Poona pact. It is ironic that it is Gandhi who blessed the founding of the Hindu Maha sabha. Indirectly it was Gandhi’s leadership within the Congress that laid the roots for the partition of India where he regularly appeased Hinduism. In all his prayer meetings he touched upon the essence of Hinduism often quoting how Krishna deployed violence and the varnas in the Bhagavad Gita. Gandli always appealed to the Muslims as a Hindu leader and not as a national leader when appeasing Hindu-Muslim unity. He was master in using religion to divert the masses from genuine issues or struggles, glorifying concept of Ram Rajya. Ironically Gandhi even gave tacit support to the Khilafat movement which lent support to colonialism and the Muslim fundamentalists or comprador bourgeoisie opposing the secular Kemal Pasha and supporting the Sultan of Turkey to quell the militancy of the Muslims. Gandhi displayed his repulsion towards the Arab s right to self -determination here.
POLICIES AND THOUGHTS OF GANDHI
Gandhi on caste “A healthy division of work based on birth, a very beautiful and beneficial thing and not a bad one a unique contribution of Hinduism to the world. Varna is the recognition of a definite law that govern shuman happiness. We must treasure and conserve all the good qualities we inherit from our ancestors, and that therefore each one should follow the profession of his father so long as the profession is not immoral.”
Gandhi to the untouchables “The only pure way of self -purification is not by use of physical force, nor a renunciation of Hinduism, nor non-co-operation, with the caste Hindus. Only by ridding themselves of your vices like drinking and eating meat. You will be able to obtain your uplift and overcome prejudices of caste Hindus.”
Gandhi to G.D. Birla in 1947 “I was not perturbed by the Calcuta riots. I have already said that if the Hindus were bent on fighting, then instead of finding fault with it as a symptom of cruelty ,we should treat it as a virtue and augment it. If some Hindu disfavours the path of peace or is not equipped for it, he should acquire the strength for open clash. Hindu-Muslim quarrels are a fight for swaraj. This fighting is a form of cowardly assaults on defenceless men, women and children, however unfortunate it might be, is a sign of growth. Out of it will rise a mighty nation.”
Major Wyatt in 1946.”Gandhi thinks there may well have to be a bloodbath in India before her problems are solved. If blood-bath was necessary it would come about in spite of non -violence.
Gandhi at All India Cow protection Conference “I hold the issue of cow protection to be no less momentous but in certain respects even far greater movement than that of Swaraj.”
He took abysmal stands in International politics his lifetime like calling the Indians to fight on the side of the Dutch by volunteering in the Boer war, telling the Jews to surrender their heads to Adolf Hitler in Germany and thus commit mass suicide, support the Axis countries or fascist powers in World war 2 and even refuse to support the allies in World War 2.Significant that Gandhi opposed all movements worldwide opposing fascism like opposing China’s armed resistance against Japan.
Quoting Gandhi to the Jews in 1939″ I should not wait for my fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence in the end the rest were bound to follow my example .The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews. But if the Jewish mind cannot be prepared for voluntary suffering even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even before the hands of the tyrant. For the god-fearing death has no terror. I plead for more suffering and more still till the melting has become visible for the naked eye.”
Quoting Gandhi in 1939 on China, “If China is defeated on the battlefield, your non-violence will remain undaunted, and will have done its work. Victory of China over Japan will not bring a new hope for the world. If China wins and copies Japanese methods, she will beat Japan hollow at her own game.”
Quoting Gandhi on fascist advance “The Czechs, the Poles ,the Norwegians, the French and the English should say to Hitler not to make scientific preparation for destruction and meet violence with non -violence. You will thus defeat our non-violent army without tanks, battleships and airships. The only difference would be that Hitler would have got without fighting what he had gained after a bloody fight. Under non -violence only those would be killed who have trained themselves to be killed.”
Although projected as a champion of Brahmacharya Gandhi experimented with young naked women which were hypocritical. Above all he was vitiated by strong racism like when terming the African people as ‘savages’ and making no efforts in taking up the cudgels for the African people ,by only fighting for the Indian businessman. Gandhi’s Satyagraha was seemingly liberal but morally it forced or imposed its will on the broad masses of the people where he revealed great egoism and he revealed authoritarian tendencies in the Congress party itself. It suppressed the deep class antagonism or hatred for the British rulers.
Intellectuals must be critical of Gandhi’s economic theories at their very roots exposing how it protected the propertied classes and at the core refute those who try to club Gandhism with Marxism or Socialism negating its class character. The policy of Khadi actually benefited the very industrialists in consolidating their monopoly and posed no threat the colnila economic stranglehold.Writers must also expose the ineffectiveness of Gandhi’s concept of non -violence as a weapon to combat imperialism with the Middle East being a classic example. Some idealist thinkers like economist Kumarappa or former Communist Parimal Dasgupta term ‘Gandhism as Marxism minus non-violence’ which is idealistic, completely discounting class relations. They equate that even in essence China after the revolution in initial years practiced Gandhi an ideas failing to understand the deep rooted class struggle within the de-centralization against the bourgeoisie with cooperation in a very limited sphere. Although having similarities with Socialism in terms of goal of sharing resources Gandhism basically emphasizes on the individual being the centre of everything as against the collective spirit of Socialism. Lot of Gandhian ideas can also be traced to the medieval ages and his opposition to progressive industrialization is anti-socialist. They simply cannot differentiate between de-centralization under Socialism or within neo -liberal capitalism.
QUOTES AND OPINIONSON GANDHI
Quoting Kanchan Iliah Shepherd “Gandhi was against abolition of caste and varna order because he knew that the caste/varna institution is the soul of Hinduism. The RSS/BJP share this view of Gandhi, hence they try to use their power in Delhi to subtly send that message by giving a bigger celebration to his 150th birth anniversary than what Indira Gandhi’s Congress did in 1969.”
Quoting Gandhi on Indian civilization “I believe civilisation India is evolved is not to be beaten in the world. It is not the British people who are ruling India ,but its modern civilisation, through railways, telegraph, telephone etc. Medical Science is the concentrated essence of black magic. Quackery is essentially preferable to what passes as high medical skill. India’s salvation lies in unlearning what it has learnt in the last 50 years The railways, telegraphs, hospitals, lawyers, doctors and such like have to go and the so called upper classes have to learn to live a simple peasant life. If British rule was to be replaced tomorrow by Indian rule based on modern methods, India would be no better, only to retain some of the money that is drained away to England.”
Quoting Gandhi to Zamindars in 1934 “Our Socialism or Communism should be based on non-violence and the harmonious corporation of labour and capital, the landlord and tenant. I shall be no party to dispossessing the propertied classes of their private property without just cause. My objective is to reach your heart and convert so that you may hold all your private property to trust for your tenants and use it primarily for their welfare. I will fight till the last drop of my blood to avoid class war.”
Quoting Gandhi on machines “It is necessary to realise that machinery is bad. We shall then be able to gradually do away with it.”
We have to at the very ground refute intellectuals like Ramchandra Guha who virtually conceal or camouflage the moral nature of the practice of Gandhi’s so -called pacifism by portraying him as a liberator of the Indian masses or a champion of secularism. Indirectly they are virtually telling lies and protecting the interests of the bourgeoisie.Although progressive even Ram Puniyani fails to understand Gandhi’s indirect fostering of Hindu communalism .
The best or most historically correct works on the actual role of Gandhi are ‘India and the Raj’ by Suniti Kumar Ghosh, “Freedom Struggle betrayed ” by Research Unit for political economy’ and to a certain extent “India Today” by Rajani Palme Dutt. All these works brilliantly assess in a most dialectical manner how Gandhi’s road fundamentally represented the interests of the comprador bourgeoisie and at the very core refute how his non-violence was in essence counter-revolutionary, with vivid description of how important struggles were betrayed by the Gandhian Congress. They also expose the glaring contradictions in Gandhi’s social philosophy and economic policies.All these works have classical Marxist-Leninist approach.
I also recommend readers to read the portrayal of Gandhi by late Nicholas Glais in blog ‘Democracy and Class Struggle.”
Today in Punjab Communist revolutionary journals like ‘Surkh Leeh’ or ;Inquilabi Sada Reh’ mantain that Gandhi defended interests of British imperialism and so do mass organisations like Punjab Students Union ,Naujwan Bharat Sabha or BKU(Ugrahan).Evn in his book 50 years after Naxalbari Bernard de Mello has highlighted how in many junctures Gandhi glorified Hinduism and blessed caste-sytem as well as championed class interests of the propertied.
Today the strongest critique of Gandhi comes from the Ambedkarist or dalit camp which identifies Gandhi as a patroniser of Brahmanical feudalism. I salute late Arundha Gandhy,Arundhati Roy and Anand Teltumbde for most creative and illustrative writings in portraying Gandhi in true light. Still I feel they lack a critical Marxist or class perspective and basically project anti-caste angle. Unfortunately today critical analysis of Gandhi is mainly made from caste and not class stand.
POSITIVE ASPECTS ABOUT GANDHI
Nevertheless Gandhi had his positive points He was the pioneer in linking the Indian national Congress to the masses . Although a pacifist Gandhi possessed the qualities or spiritual essence of great revolutionaries like Mao Tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh like when travelling all-round the nation in a 3rd class train , sleeping in village huts and performing manual labour.
I visualise Gandhi condemning the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992,Godhra riots and the recent supreme court judgement favouring the building of the temple. Probably Gandhi would have been a thorn in the flesh to the forces of Hindutva fascism who have penetrated every sphere of society in India as never before and take proto-fascism to its crescendo.
He may well have also been a crusader to defend people’s right to dissent with proto-fascism at its crescendo today. Within boundaries he would have been an opponent of globalisation and condemned Operation Greenhunt or arrest of Urban intellectuals like Vara Vara Rao or incarceration of Professor Saibaba..In an anti-fascist united front his personality would have been very impactful today. He would have been a most vocal opponent of the war mongering pro-nuclear policies of the current BJP regime and championed movements against nuclear missile bases. Gandhi may well have also raised his voice against India’s expansionist policies and chauvinist behaviour on Kashmir.Gandhi may have been our mascot if he lived today on issues of civil rights. Significant that today Gandhian activists like Himanshu Kumar are playing a major role in opposing Operation Greenhunt in Dantewada.
Without Gandhi the independence movement would never have attained its national character Thus a great architect and connoisseur in crystallizing or building liaison with all the movements prevailing .The non -co-operation movement in 1920-1921 and the Salt Dandi march in 1930 and later the Quit India embarrassed the British in their very den adopting most creative methods..Gandhi depicted more mastery over the idioms of the masses or creativity in building movements than any Communist leader in India in his time. The methods he deployed to mobilise masses or galvanize movements are even a lesson for Communists or social revolutionaries and in preliminary stages similar to the mass mobilisation adopted in the revolutionary movements of China and Vietnam. .Gandhi depicted more mastery over the idioms of the masses or creativity in building movements than any Communist leader in his time.Afterall let us remember could we Communist revolutionaries collectively prevent the Babri Masjid from being demolished or any major communal riot in India?
Quoting Marxist historian Rajani Palme Dutt in historical book ‘India Today.’ “No other leader could have bridged the gap during the transitional period, between the actual bourgeois direction of the national movement and the awakening, but not yet conscious masses. Both for good and evil Gandhi created it. The role only comes to an end in proportion as the masses begin to reach clear class consciousness of their own interests and the actual class forces and class relations begin to stand out clear in the Indian scene, without need of mythological concealments.”
“Left wing –critics of the 1930-40’s hardly recognized Gandhi’s role in raising the national movement and the Congress from it’s previously relatively narrower range to an all-India national mass movement, inspiring the most backward inactive masses with national consciousness and awakening them to struggle.”
In 1947 in Delhi he literally risked his life to save the lives of thousands of Hindus and Muslims which proves his relevance in India today when the nation is engripped by the clutches of Hindutva fascism. In that period no doubt he was champion of secularism defying the communal fascists challenging the Mountbatten award. Here even late Maoist historian Suniti Kumar Ghosh praised Gandhi’s work in thwarting the communal forces. in his book ‘India and the Raj.’
Gandhi is one of the few men ever who has said “I am a Muslim, Christian, Hindu and a Jew” and so are all of you.”In modern times wit the world in such a strife such a thought would be invaluable.
Above all Gandhi like Marx had great respect for manual labour, encouraging students to perform menial work and not look down on it. Gandhi depicted more mastery over the idioms of the masses or creativity in building movements than any Communist leader in his time. The practices of social labour in his Ashram or even spinning and weaving cloth and his constructive programme had Marxist overtones even if he resolutely opposed class antagonism. Gandhi remarkably imbibed the lifestyle of a communist by sowing bread himself or weaving cloth and thus participating in manual labour. He fostered the dignity of labour amongst students within the education system which was similar to Marxism. And incorporated programme of manual labour in student’s curriculum. His village industries plan had subtle similarities with Marxist goal seven if idealistic. A Communist would be proud of emulating the lifestyle of Gandhi. Not for nothing did even Lenin classify Gandhi as a Tolstoy in 1920 or Ho Chi Minh state that there is no doubt that ‘We all revolutionaries are pupils of Gandhi.
Quoting Ho Chi Minh “I and others may be revolutionaries but we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, directly or indirectly, nothing more nothing less.”
Like the Maoists in India I would not term Gandhi as pro-British but an anti-colonial reformer. I feel because of crumbling British economy the British rulers were compelled to leave India in any course. Whatever the defects that were obvious in Gandhi’s role we must ask ourselves why no genuine revolutionary alternative was built by our communist party or other genuine revolutionary sections apart from those like Shaheed Bhagat Singh or Ghadr party. To me only blaming Gandhi is not doing justice to history.
Quoting Tablet Ahmed from International Socialist Review “Gandhi was totally committed to a united, independent India. He wanted to emancipate Dalit, women and create Hindu-Muslim unity. However, he was a reformer, not a revolutionary. This was a reformism rooted in social conservatism that did not seek the overthrow of capitalism but its taming. In relation to conservative, elite social forces Gandhi did offer a programme of mass action and political activity that drew in wider layers of activists. But in relation to achieving the world of social harmony without inequality that he aspired to, his strategy proved sorely lacking in failing to understand how to direct the mass action he helped to initiate.”
Quoting Joma Sison “M.K. Gandhi was an Indian patriot. He can be criticized as a pacifist in contrast to the revolutionaries. Thus, he was favored as an icon by the bourgeois press in India and abroad. But he was of great consequence in showing defiance to the British colonialists in dramatic instances and propagated the cause of Indian national independence. At the political level, people who respect Gandhi should not be merely condemned but welcome to a united front against imperialism and reactionaries and be persuaded to advance. Let him in rest be recognized and respected as an anti-colonial reformist who advocated civil disobedience but not the armed overthrow of the British colonial power.”
Athough a profuse Stalinist editor of Revolutionary Democracy Vijay Singh has great admiration for Gandhi’s liberal or anti-chauvinist stand towards Pakistan in 1947 and his role in diffusing communal tension in 1946.Former All India peoples Resistance forum joint secretary and leader of Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad in Bihar Arjun Prasad Singh has scant admiration for Gandhi as a mass organiser stating that he achieved what the Communists did not at that time.
I also have positive overtones on the approach of Professor Shamsul Islam in his treatment of Gandhi with light to mass mobilisation methods and countering RSS fundamentalism
I do not agree but I am intrigued with what made revolutionary Antonio Gramisci hail Gandhi’s strategy who equated it with revolutionary warfare in the 1930’s.
Fascinatingly even Maoist writer Steve Otto from America who conducts a blog ‘Ottos War Room’ felt Gandhi had a good side in him.
Late founder of ‘Filhal’magazine from Patna Hari Shankar Pradhan endorsed Gandhi’s methods of mobilisation., even if being a Marxist
Thus to conclusively analyze Gandhi is very complex. It is complex how a figure like Gandhi would have evolved today in the age of globalization and neo-liberalism turning into fascism. However I feel today we have to be more critical of this historical figure than praise him as today his non-violence is glorified to condemn genuine movements in India or other anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist forces.
Basically we have to distinguish between Gandhi the man and Gandhism .His ideology or economic policies were deeply contradictory and a blessing for exploiter classes on the whole but his character possessed deeply humanistic overtones and moralistic virtues. Even Maoists could be proud of emulating his habits. There were simply 2 sides to this man.
Harsh Thakor is an independent journalist or political commentator covering movements all around the country especially Punjab. Written on topics like ‘Maoism’, ‘International Communist Movement trends’, ‘Nagi Reddy masssline’ in India ,peasant struggles in Punjab and other democratic agitations on blogs like ‘Democracy and Class Struggle’,’Ottos War Room’ and frontier weekly.