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32. In the Political Sphere

Freedom through Love

In the democracy which I have envisaged, a demo­cracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master.

Gandhiji’s Correspondence with the Government, 1942-44, p. 173

True democracy or the Swaraj of the masses can never come through untruthful and violent means, for the simple reason that the natural corollary to their use would be to remove all opposition through the suppression or extermination of the antagonists. That does not make for individual freedom. Individual freedom can have the fullest play only under a regime of unadulterated Ahimsa.

Harijan, 27-5-'39, p. 143

No All-powerful State

Political power means capacity to regulate national life through national representatives. If national life becomes so perfect as to become self-regulated, no representation becomes necessary. There is then a state of enlightened anarchy. In such a State everyone is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never a hindrance to his neighbour. In the ideal State, therefore, there is no political power because there is no State. But the ideal is never fully realized in life. Hence the classical statement of Thoreau that that government is best which governs the least.

Taxing India, 2-7-'31, p. 162

I look upon an increase of the power of the State with the greatest fear, because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the root of all progress.

The Modern Review, 1935, p. 413

I have therefore endeavoured to show both in word and deed, that political self-government —that is self-government for a large number of men and women—is no better than individual self-government, and therefore, it is to be attained by precisely the same means that are required for individual self-government or self-rule.

With Gandhiji in Ceylon, by Mahadev Desal, 1928, p. 93

A Non-violent Political Structure

True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people of every village.

Harijan, 18-1-'48, p. 519

In this structure composed of innumerable villages, there will be ever widening, never ascending circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village, the latter ready to perish for the circle of villages, till at last the whole becomes one life composed of individuals never aggressive in their arrogance but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral units.

Therefore, the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it. I may be taunted with the retort that this is all Utopian and, therefore, not worth a single thought. If Euclid's point, though incapable of being drawn by human agency, has an imperishable value, my picture has its own for mankind to live. Let India live for this true picture, though never realizable in its completeness. We must have a proper picture of what we want, before we can have something approaching it. If there ever is to be a republic of every village in India, then I claim verity for my picture in which the last is equal to the first, or in other words, no one is to be the first and none the last.

Harijan, 28-7-'46, p. 236

Under Swaraj based on non-violence nobody is anybody's enemy, everybody contributes his or her due quota to the common good, all can read and write, and their knowledge keeps growing from day to day. Sickness and disease are reduced to the minimum. No one is a pauper and labour can always find employment. There is no place under such a government for gambling, drinking and immorality or for class hatred.

Harijan, 25-3-'39, p. 65

Nationalism and Internationalism

My patriotism is not exclusive; it is calculated not only not to hurt another nation but to benefit all in the true sense of the word. India's freedom as conceived by me can never be a menace to the world.

Young India, 3-4-'24 p. 109

Just as the cult of patriotism teaches us today that the individual has to die for the family, the family has to die for the village, the village for the district, the district for the province and the province for the country, even so, a country has to be free in order that it may die, if necessary, for the benefit of the world. There is no room for race-hatred there.

Gandhiji in Indian Villages, by Mahadev Desai, 1927, p. 170

There is no limit to extending our services to our neighbours across State-made frontiers. God never made those frontiers.

Young India, 31-12-'31, p. 427

I believe in absolute oneness of God and therefore also of humanity. What though we have many bodies? We have but one soul. The rays of the sun are many through refraction. But they have the same source.

Young India, 25-9-'24, p. 313

My religion and my patriotism derived from my reli­gion embrace all life. I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth. I want, if I don't give you a shock, to realize identity with even the crawling things upon earth, because we claim descent from the same God, and that being so, all life in whatever form it appears must be essentially one.

Young India, 4-4-'29, p. 107