Reader : Then from your statement I deduce that the Government of England is not desirable and not worth copying by us.
Editor : Your deduction is justified. The condition of England at
present is pitiable. I pray to God that India may never be in that
plight. That which you consider to be the Mother of Parliaments is like
a sterile woman and a prostitute. Both these are harsh terms, but
exactly fit the case. That Parliament has not yet, of its own accord,
done a single good thing. Hence I have compared it to a sterile woman.
The natural condition of that Parliament is such that, without outside
presure, it can do nothing. It is like a prostitute because it is under
the control of ministers who change from time to time. Today it is under
Mr. Asquith, tomorrow it may be under Mr. Balfour.
Reader : You have said this sarcastically. The term "sterile woman" is
not applicable. The Parliament, being elected by the people, must work
under public pressure. This is its quality.
Editor : You are mistaken. Let us examine it a little more closely. The
best men are supposed to be elected by the people. The members serve
without pay and therefore, it must be assumed, only for the public weal.
The electors are considered to be educated and therefore we should
assume that they would not generally make mistakes in their choice. Such
a Parliament should not need the spur of petitions or any other
pressure. Its work should be so smooth that its effects would be more
apparent day by day. But, as a matter of fact, it is generally
acknowledged that the members are hypocritical and selfish. Each thinks
of his own little interest. It is fear that is the guiding motive. What
is done today may be undone tomorrow. It is not possible to recall a
single instance in which finality can be predicted for its work. When
the greatest questions are debated, its members have been seen to
stretch themselves and to doze. Sometimes the members talk away until
the listeners are disgusted. Carlyle has called it the "talking shop of
the world". Members vote for their party without a thought. Their
so-called discipline binds them to it. If any member, by way of
exception, gives an independent vote, he is considered a renegade. If
the money and the time wasted by Parliament were entrusted to a few good
men, the English nation would be occupying today a much higher platform.
Parliament is simply a costly toy of the nation. These views are by no
means peculiar to me. Some great English thinkers have expressed them.
One of the members of that Parliament recently said that a true
Christian could not become a member of it. Another said that it was a
baby. And if it has remained a baby after an existence of seven hundred
years, when will it outgrow its babyhood?
Reader : You have set me thinking; you do not expect me to accept at
once all you say. You give me entirely novel views. T shall have to
digest them. Will you now explain the epithet "prostitute"?
Editor : That you cannot accept my views at once is only right. If you
will read the literature on this subject, you will have some idea of it.
Parliament is without a real master. Under the Prime Minister, its
movement is not steady but it is buffeted about like a prostitute. The
Prime Minister is more concerned about his power than about the welfare
of Parliament. His energy is concentrated upon securing the success of
his party. His care is not always that Parliament shall do right. Prime
Ministers are known to have made Parliament do things merely for party
advantage. All this is worth thinking over.
Reader : Then you are really attacking the very men whom we have
hitherto considered to be patriotic and honest?
Editor : Yes, that is true; I can have nothing against Prime Ministers,
but what I have seen leads me to think that' they cannot be considered
really patriotic. If they are to be considered honest because they do
not take what are generally known as bribes, let them be so considered,
but they are open to subtler influences. In order to gain their ends,
they certainly bribe people with honours. I do not hesitate to say that
they have neither real honesty nor a living conscience.
Reader : As you express these views about Parliament, I would like to
hear you on the English people, so that I may have your view of their
Editor : To the English voters their newspaper is their Bible. They take
their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest. The same fact
is differently interpreted by different newspapers, according to the
party in whose interests they are edited. One newspaper would consider a
great Englishman to be a paragon of honesty, another would consider him
dishonest. What must be the condition of the people whose- newspapers
are of this type?
Reader : You shall describe it.
Editor : These people change their views frequently. It is said that
they change them every seven years. These views swing like the pendulum
of a clock and are never steadfast. The people would follow a powerful
orator or a man who gives them parties, receptions, etc. As are the
people, so is their Parliament. They have certainly one quality very
strongly developed. They will never allow their country to be lost. If
any person were to cast an evil eye on it, they would pluck out his
eyes. But that does not mean that the nation possesses every other
virtue or that it should be imitated. If India copies England, it is my
firm conviction that she will be ruined.
Reader : To what do you ascribe this state of England ?
Editor : It is not due to any peculiar fault of the English people, but
the condition is due to modern civilization. It is a civilization only
in name. Under it the nations of Europe are becoming degraded and ruined
day by day.