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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section IX : Political Ideas > True Democracy


59. Swaraj

By its very nature, non-violence cannot ‘seize’ power, nor can that be its goal. But non-violence can do more; it can effectively control and guide power without capturing the machinery of government. That is its beauty.

Towards New Horizons, (1959), pp. 91-92


Science of non-violence can alone lead one to pure democracy.

Young India, 30-6-20, p. 3


Democracy must in essence… mean the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of all the various sections of the people in the service of the common good of all.

Harijan, 27-5-39, p. 143


Democracy disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing in the world. A democracy prejudiced, ignorant, superstitious, will land itself in chaos and may be self-destroyed.

Young India, 30-7-31, p. 199


In true democracy every man and woman is taught to think for himself or herself. How this real revolution can be brought about I do not know except that every reform, like charity must begin at home.

Harijan, 14-7-46, p. 220


My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest. That can never happen except through non-violence.

Mahatma, Vol. V, (1952), p. 343


True democracy or the Swaraj of the masses can never come through untruthful and violent means, for the simple reason that he natural corollary to their use world 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, 25-5-39, p. 143


Democracy and violence can ill go together. The States that are today nominally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian or, if they are to become truly democratic, they must become courageously non-violent. It is a blasphemy to say that non-violence can only be practices by individuals and never by nations which are composed of individuals.

Harijan, 12-11-38, p. 328


The golden rule of conduct, therefore, is mutual toleration, seeing we will never all think alike and that we shall always see Truth in fragment and from different angles of vision. Conscience is not the same thing for all. Whilst, therefore, it is a good guide for individual conduct, imposition of that conduct upon all will be an insufferable interference with everybody else’s freedom of conscience.

Young India, 23-9-26, p. 334


Difference of opinion should never mean hostility. If they did, my wife and I should be sworn enemies of one another. I do not know two persons in the world who had no difference of opinion, and as I am a follower of the Gita, I have always attempted to regard those who differ from me with the some affection as I have for my nearest and dearest.

Young India, 17-3-27, p. 82


For me the only training in Swaraj we need is the ability to defend ourselves against the whole world and to live our natural life in perfect freedom, even though it may be full of defects. Good government is no substitute for self-government.

Young India, 22-9-20, p. 1