Whatever Hitler may ultimately prove to be, we know what Hitlerism has come to mean. It means naked ruthless force reduced to an exact science and worked with scientific precision. In its effect it becomes almost irresistible.
In the early days of Satyagraha when it was still
known as passive resistance, The Star of Johannesburg,
stirred by the sight of a handful of Indians, wholly unarmed and
incapable of organized violence even if they wished it, pitting
themselves against an overwhelmingly armed government, had a cartoon
in which the latter was depicted as a steam-roller representing
irresistible force, and passive resistance was depicted as an
elephant unmoved and comfortably planting himself in his seat. This
was marked immovable force. The cartoonist had a true insight into
the duel between the irresistible and the immovable forces. It was
then a stalemate. The sequel we know. What was depicted and appeared
to be irresistible was successfully resisted by the immovable force
of Satyagraha — call it suffering without retaliation.
What became true then can be equally true now.
Hitlerism will never be defeated by counter-Hitlerism. It can only
breed superior Hitlerism raised to nth. degree. What is going
on before our eyes is a demonstration of the futility of violence as
also of Hitlerism.
Let me explain what I mean by failure of Hitlerism.
It has robbed the small nations of their liberty. It has compelled
France to sue for peace. Probably by the time this is in print
Britain will have decided upon her course. The fall of France is
enough for my argument. I think French statesmen have shown rare
courage in bowing to the inevitable and refusing to be party to
senseless mutual slaughter. There can be no sense in France coming
out victorious if the stake is in truth lost. The cause of liberty
becomes a mockery, if the price to be paid is wholesale destruction
of those who are to enjoy liberty. It then becomes an inglorious
satiation of ambition. The bravery of the French soldier is
world-known. But let the world know also the greater bravery of the
French statesmen in suing for peace. I have assumed that the French
statesmen have taken the step in a perfectly honourable manner as
behaves true soldiers. Let me hope that Herr Hitler will impose no
humiliating terms but show that, though he can fight without mercy,
he can at least conclude peace not without mercy.
But to resume the thread of the argument. What will
Hitler do with his victory? Can he digest so much power? Personally
he will go as empty-handed as his not very remote predecessor
Alexander. For the Germans he will have left not the pleasure of
owning a mighty empire but the burden of sustaining its crushing
weight. For they will not be able to hold all the conquered nations
in perpetual subjection. And I doubt if the Germans of future
generations will entertain unadulterated pride in the deeds for
which Hitlerism will be deemed responsible. They will honour Herr
Hitler as a genius, as a brave man, a matchless organizer, and much
more. But I should hope that the Germans of the future will have
learnt the art of discrimination even about their heroes. Anyway I
think it will be allowed that all the blood that has been spilled by
Hitler has added not a millionth part of an inch to the world's
As against this imagine the state of Europe today if
the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the French and the English
had all said to Hitler: "You need not make your scientific
preparation for destruction. We will meet your violence with
non-violence. You will, therefore, be able to destroy our
non-violent army without tanks, battleships and airships." It may be
retorted that the only difference would be that Hitler would have
got without fighting what he has gained after a bloody fight.
Exactly. The history of Europe would then have been written
differently. Possession might (but only might) have been then taken
under non-violent resistance, as it has been taken now after
perpetration of untold barbarities. Under non-violence only those
would have been killed who had trained themselves to be killed, if
need be, but without killing anyone and without bearing malice
towards anybody. I dare say that in that case Europe would have
added several inches to its moral stature. And in the end I expect
it is the moral worth that will count. All else is dross.
I have written these lines for the European Powers.
But they are meant for ourselves. If my argument has gone home, is
it not time for us to declare our changeless faith in non-violence
of the strong and say we do not seek to defend our liberty with the
force of arms, but we will defend it with the force of non-violence?