SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI >  VOL. IV - SELECTED LETTERS > SECTION ONE : SELECTED LETTERS > To Carl Heath
73. To Carl Heath
Sevagram,
Wardha, 25-1-41
DEAR FRIEND,
I have your very kind letter. In it there is no acknowledgement of my cable reply to your cable referred to in your letter. My reply cabled on 27th October, 1940 was as follows:
"ALL EFFORT FAILED. INDIAN CONDITION WHOLLY DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE. PRESS GAGGED. HAVE STOPPED HARIJAN WEEKLIES, RESTRICTING CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS OF NON-VIOLENCE."
Since then I have sent you the following cable in reply to yours of the last week of December:
"M.P.S. LETTER IGNORES FACTS, FRANK OPEN COMMUNICATION MADE IMPOSSIBLE. GOD BETWEEN US ALL."
I understand your argument. The Quaker attitude is individual. The Congress attitude has reference to a big organization. The Congress as an institution based on non-violence cannot distinguish between one species of violence and another. I do not think that the world will be any better if British arms are victorious over the German through the means employed by the latter. In the ultimate the question before the Congress is how to do away with the use of arms as between man and man or nation and nation for the vindication of justice. The universal proposition is implicit in India's fight for freedom through non-violence.
You have rightly detected the flaw in the Congress attitude as reflected in the Poona resolution. That was when and why I had ceased to guide the Congress or take part in its deliberations. I withdrew my opposition when the Congress retraced its steps through the later resolution at Bombay. In my opinion it reflects no discredit on the Congress that it could not abide by non¬violence in all circumstances. Its policy is truth and non¬violence. Above all else, therefore, it must be honest. When, therefore, it found the Poona demand flouted it came round to its original position and invited me to lead the battle of Civil Disobedience. I had no hesitation in responding as I knew that the mass mind in India was by instinct non-violent. You seem also to have missed the fact that the Poona resolution would not have been passed at all but for my weakness of which I made ample confession in the pages of Harijan.
My experience is that the Congress has grown progressively, though slowly, in non-violence. And I would have proved an unworthy exponent of non¬violence, if I had failed at the right moment to express it through the Congress.
The Congress is as much anti-Nazism as anti- Imperialism. If the Government had not thoughtlessly forbidden the anti-war activity of the Congress and had not proclaimed it as pro-Nazi, they could easily have claimed the whole of India as anti-Nazi—both that part which followed the Congress non-violence and the other which believed in the use of violence. Had it not done so, much bitterness would have been avoided and the world would have profited by the lesson of tolerance and its moral opinion would have been on the side of Britain. It is never too late to mend one's error.
Whether, however, the error is admitted and mended or not, the course of the Congress is clear. The conviction being purely moral it should be pursued irrespective of the immediate result. A moral means is almost an end in itself. Is not virtue its own reward?
Yours sincerely,
M. K. GANDHI
To
FRIEND CARL HEATH,
WHITEWINGS, MANOR WAY,
GUILDFORD-SURREY
From a photostat: S.N. 22663