JOURNALIST GANDHI > JOURNALIST GANDHI > On Democracy > How Democracy Works
How Democracy Works
A valued correspondent has written to me two letters, one issuing a timely warning about the ill effects of hasty decontrol and the other about the possibility of an outbreak of Hindu-Muslim riots. I have dealt with both the letters in a letter which has become unexpectedly argumentative and gives my view of democracy which can only come out of nonviolent mass action. I, therefore, reproduce the letter below without giving at the same time the letters to which it is in answer. There is enough in the answer to enable the reader to know the purport of the two letters. I have purposely refrained from giving the name of my correspondent and the scene of action, not because the letters are confidential; but because nothing is to be gained from disclosing either:
"You still write as if you had a slave mind, though the slavery of us all is abolished. If decontrol has produced the effect you attribute to it, you should raise your voice, even though you may be alone in doing so and your voice may be feeble. As a matter of fact you have many companions and your voice is by no means feeble unless intoxication of power has enfeebled it. Personally, the bogey of the shooting up of prices by reason of decontrol does not frighten me. If we have many Sharks and we do not know how to combat them, we shall deserve to be eaten up by them. Then we shall know how to carry ourselves in the teeth of adversity. Real democracy people learn not from books, not from the government who are in name and in reality their servants. Hard experience is the most efficient teacher in democracy. The days of appeals to me are gone. The cloak of non-violence which we had put on during the British regime is no longer now necessary. Therefore, violence faces us in its terrible nakedness. Have you also succumbed or you too never had non-violence? This letter is not to warn you against writing to me and giving me your view of the picture, but it is intended to tell you why I would swear by decontrol even if mine was a solitary voice.
'Your second letter about Hindu-Muslim tension is more to the point than the first. Here too you should raise your voice openly against any soft handling of the situation or smug satisfaction. I shall do my part but I am painfully conscious of my limitations. Formerly I could afford to be monarch of all I surveyed. Today I have many fellow monarchs, if I may still count myself as such. If I can, I am the least among them. The first days of democracy are discordant notes which jar on the ear and give you many headaches. If democracy is to live in spite of these killing notes, sweet concord has to rise out of this seemingly discordant necessary lesson. How I wish that you would be one of the masters who would contribute to the production of concord out of discord!
"You will not make the mistake of thinking that your duty is finished when you have apprised me of the situation in your part of the country."