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Mahatma Gandhi


The Means and Ends Of Revolution

The Means End Of Revolution

Let us proceed with an open mind to think over our theme of total revolution. We have tried to enquire into what constitutes a revolutionary mind, along with the attributes of a revolutionary. Now it would be a very pertinent question to ask who is going to benefit by this revolution?

Who needs the Revolution?

This, I think, is the most crucial question that every revolutionary must ask himself, "Who will inherit this earth?" Will crucial question that every earth belong to anyone? Will it belong to the man who can conquer it by his sword or to the man who can purchase it? Will it belong to the sword first or the scepter? "To whom shall this earth belong?" That is the most crucial question, because there are more people on this earth who are deprived of their inheritance. They are driven from pillar to post. The law in its majesty forbids them to sleep under bridges, to sit and live on the pavement and to beg on the streets and to steal from houses where there are heaps of bread. They have no place, not even a few inches to stand upon God's earth. And we have been chanting almost every day; "0, Mother earth, you have been supporting all people on your breast, while you have been supported by the God Vishnu Himself."

This question asked by the destitute and the poor has never been answered. Who is it that needs a revolution? Those who enjoy status and prestige in the present social order? They do not need the revolution. Any social change would be to their disadvantage. Therefore the revolutionaries call them the 'vested interests.' It is in their interest to maintain their status quo.

So it is this 'last man' who has to make this revolution. He is not only the man who will benefit by the revolution, but also the maker of the revolution. Therefore the revolution haste be brought about in the context of democracy and by democratic methods, whether constitutional, extra-constitutional or un-constitutional. Democratic means peaceful. It is calculated to bring man nearer to each other: a revolution that will not prove divisive. We have to explore a technique of revolution which will be cohesive.

The Means and End of Revolution

In our vision of this revolution, all progress means advance and all advance means approach-approach to one another, coming nearer to one another. So we have to explore, to find out a technique of revolution that will bring men closer together; closer in mind also. Because, if men come closer together merely in body, and not in mind, then what will happen? They may not embrace each other, but merely wrestle with each other. The process is the same. In wrestling also you have to embrace each other. But as Harold Laski once wrote, "I embrace my enemy the better to choke him." So this embrace of death is not calculated to bring about any revolution that will be human: human in the sense that it will be a revolution that brings each man closer to his brother.

This is not a question Of violence or non-violence. The fundamental question in democracy is, "Who will be the supreme authority-the soldier or the citizen?" Who will depend upon whom? Will the soldier depend upon the citizens or the citizens depend upon the soldier? What will be the sanction of our democratic order? Whether the final arbiter will be the ploughman or the hangman?

I had a heart to heart talk with an enlightened gentleman this afternoon and he told me, "there can be no morality without fear." And I can tell you that from what I know and what I feel, and what I have experienced that fear is the dark room in which all negatives are developed. The morality which fear begets is a counterfeit morality. It is a misnomer. That is why our ultimate sanction in the other world is Yamaraj, the god of death. He metes is not Lord Vishnu, the preserver. We worship Vishnu, but in the heart of our hearts we pay tributes to Yamaraj, who after all seems, to be the power behind Vishnu.

Our orthodox pundits often say, "the glory of the Vedas rests on the bow and the arrow." The Koran in one hand and the sword in the other." The Bible in one hand and the crusades in other." What does it mean? It means that it is brute force, physical power on which on our democracy rests today. The citizen is sovereign under the constitution, but actually it is the citizen on whom the soldiers depend.

So, what does this revolution signify? What is its objective? We wanted to liberate the plough and other implements of production from the domination and dread of the sword and from the abject subservience to the throne, which is the symbol of the 'state' under any social order. This is the primary aim of the revolutionaries; in the world, belonging to whatever persuasion.

War: Detrimental to the Evolution of Humanity

I am reminded of the Third International held in Moscow in 1919, which declared the aims of Communism-Communism as it is understood in Russia, because Communism is also not the same everywhere. There is a Communism of the Russian orientation, there is a Communism of Marxist orientation, there is a Communism of the Namboodripad variety, the Naxalite variety, Dange variety, Jyoty Basu variety. So we have several brands of Communism. In his book on Communism, Harold Laski wrote: "Communism is like a hat that has lost its shape because everyone wears it . That is what is happening to our concept of 'revolution.'

The Third International in Moscow laid out the aims of Communism. The first waste end the domination of capital, the second was to wipe out the state boundaries, the third was to make war impossible. It was not Gandhi, who for the first time asserted, that war was inhuman, and detrimental to the evolution of humanity. 'It was Karl Marx who for the first time uttered this truth which will hold true for all time to come. This is the timeless truth that he uttered, and he alone had the courage to do so. No religious leader, no rishi or saint, no prophet before Karl Marx had the courage or the vision or the foresight to utter this truth.

No Poor : No War

Every religion prescribes charity-`daan'. And the Christian scriptures say that poverty was designed with a view to charity. Unless you have poverty, you can't have charity. If you have to be bounteous, generous to the poor there must be some people who suffer from want; want in order to provide you with an opportunity for charity. So every religion has prescribed charity, but no religion has asserted so unambiguously as Karl Marx that there will come a day when there will be neither be poor nor the rich on this planet; and there will come a day when there will be no war. He never asked whether this was possible. As revolution is the art of making the impossible, possible; the possible, probable; and the probable, feasible. A revolutionary mind is not pragmatic. Pragmatism, as a matter of fact, does not exist in any of our relationships.

Hand in Hand to Hell

Life means relationship; and relationship is based on mutual faith. If men did not believe in each other, they could not even sin together. If you want to commit a murder with the other companion there has to be good faith amongst you, which they call 'honour among thieves.' In one of Shakespeare's works there is a very fine sentence, "So march on. Let us on to it. But hand in hand to hell."

Freedom means the freedom to go to hell. It is my choice whether I want to go to hell or heaven. The hell of my choice is heaven, and the heaven that is imposed on me by another is prison, it is hell. That is what Milton wants to convey in his 'Paradise Lost' seems to have glorified Satan.

Togetherness Means Sharing Weal and Woe

We, in this country have the freedom to go to hell if we like. But, let us go to hell hand in hand, because if you want to go to hell singly, personally, the way to hell is paved with good intentions but evil consequences. This togetherness is the first necessity of social life. And togetherness means sharing weal and woe. Sharing not only material goods but sharing weal and woe. Sharing is not distribution. Distribution is an entirely different thing. And revolution does not strive merely for distribution, not even equitable distribution, but Sharing. And in sharing, the basis is love, brotherhood, fraternity. So it is a familistic, fraternal, social order, for which this revolution ought to work.

Mutual Support Society

Who will be the architect of this revolution? The man who needs most. But the difficulty is that the man who needs the change most in the social order does not seek it. The necessity is there, but it seems that the aspiration is wanting, because his mind has been conditioned in the present social order by politicians, by educationists and by religion. Why does the poor man bear the burden of his poverty? He suffers the pangs of poverty, because he hopes to become rich someday. So this hope sustains him in his poverty, and in his penury.

And why does the rich man bear the Burden of his Riches

It is not in the nature of man to possess or to amass. Man wants use, not possession. Possession is a liability. If he had the assurance that he could get a thing whenever he wants it, he would not hoard. He stores because there is insecurity for the morrow. So he provides for a rainy day. Everyday is a rainy day, because there is no security. So, psychologically, fundamentally, the poor man and the rich man have the same mind. The rich man is afraid of becoming poor, and the poor man hopes to become rich. That is why both co-operate with each other in maintaining the present social order. He was also once poor. Rich man does not belong to a different species. He was also once poor. Just as every saint has a past and every sinner a future, every rich man has a past and every poor man has a future. Therefore when we say that if we liquidate the rich man, poverty could be eliminated, we are labouring under a serious delusion.

This is a delusion, because a rich man does not belong to belongs to the same species as we do. This what we call I call faith or in Sanskrit you may call it 'astikata'. Faith in, the goodness of every man, because goodness is man's nature Wickedness requires a reason.


So this revolution is trying to find out, is in quest of, a technique that would be effective as well as human; that will be in consonance with our end, the end in view being that men should come closer together. All advance is approach.

Every step in this revolution muse bring men nearer to each other. In democracy, your opponent is not your antagonist just as in a game, say of cricket or of cards; your opponent is your playmate on the other side. A playmate on the other side is not your adversary; he is a part of the game.

A Contradiction

But there is a serious contradiction in our present democratic set-up. The candidate belongs to a party, but the representative is a representative of the people. It is the voter who has elected him, but the party can order him out. So I have always felt that the party is a conspiracy against the people. We want a voter democracy and not a democracy of the candidates. Candidates are concerned not with public opinion, but with gathering votes.

Mob and people

Pickwick was once asked by his friend Snodgrass, a very difficult question, "How to act when in doubt?" Pickwick was a quick-witted guy who could answer any question offhand. So he said, "when in doubt, follow the mob." But that did not solve the problem. So Snodgrass asked, "What if there be two mobs?" "Then follow the largest." That was Pickwick's prescription.

But there is a world of difference between a mob and the people or the public. What is a mob? A faceless, amorphous blob of population. So it's neither the people nor the public. The people are an entirely different category. What is a mob? A mob is a congregation of people, a collection of people which has several heads, but no brain. Several breasts, but no heart. The people have consciousness, a purpose. They gather together for a certain purpose. So democracy is not the 'cracy' of the crowd, neither is it my cracy. As the orthodox people always say, orthodoxy is my doxy, heterodoxy is your doxy." Democracy is cracy and autocracy is your cracy. That is the level on which our politics has been working for the last few years, for the last several years you might say.

Changing the Context

So, we have to change the very basis of our political system, the system of our democracy. Democracy of the candidate is an auction of the candidate and of the voter. It was perhaps Edmund Burke, remember right, who said, "Leaders are bidders at an auction on popularity'. So in the capitalist context, even democracy will be auctioned. Even gods will be auctioned, men will be auctioned of course. That is why we want to change this context. Revolution has three-dimensions-change of context, change of value and change of heart. We want to change this context, because in the context of commercialism and capitalism, every blessed thing becomes a commodity. It is either purchased or sold, including man and So, we want to liberate man from this context. And what man? It is not we who will liberate him. It is the last man who needs a revolution, a social change, who will liberate himself.

Man With Implements

Now, what is the distinction between the man who needs change and who does not need change? I shall just analyse this more or less in a symbolic manner. There is the man with the sword who enjoys his status in the present society; there is the man with the purse, with his coffers, who also enjoys considerable social status because he can purchase everything, he can purchase even democracy; and then there is the man of power. Power is the most dangerous of all these intoxicants. The man in power is tipsy most of the time. So, we have to liberate the man who has neither the sword nor power in his hand? He has the means and implements of production. But we have always conditioned him into the false notion, that power rests with the sword, the purse and the sceptre. As a matter of fact they are all created by the man who wields the instruments of production. Who made the sword? Who made the safe? And who made the throne on which the king sits T It is the man with the implements, tools, who has made all these symbols of social status and social prestige, as well as social power.

Where Lies The Real Power?

So, it is the man with the implements and tools who forges the instruments of his exploitation and suppression. This is revolutionary trade-unionism. Organise labour on this basis, and they will realise ICQU the real strength is with them, not with the soldier or the capitalist or the man in power. This is the social revolutionary consciousness that we have to rouse among the common people. We been deceiving them, cheating them into believing that real power is not in the instruments of production, but in the instruments exploitation and destruction.

What's the difference between an implement and a weapon? If I were to use a sword to cut a cucumber, you would all ridicule me. You would say the poor man does not the poor use of a sword. The proper use of a weapon is to take life. It is to destroy life. The proper use of a sword is to take life. To use the sword for any other purpose is to misuse the sword. But the hammer and the Sickle, if you use them for destroying life, you are misusing them. They have been designed to produce life-giving, material goods. So real power, the ultimate power is with the man who has implements in his hand and not with the man with the armaments.

A Cudgel to Keep Silence!

This is not a question of violence or non-violence. If you reduce a social virtue into an abstract theory or a principle, it loses its essence. It ceases to have any bearing on real life. This has happened to me in actual life.

Spiritual Values

That's the monstrosity which we create a social value of a creed. That is why there have been more wars than religion and God than in the name of the kingdoms and property.

Spiritual values are quite different from religious values or ethical values. So I have given you some idea of the new context that we want to create, for a new value will require a new context. And who will bring about this revolution? The man has translated revolutionary values into his own life.

Translate Values into Your Life

Once I was addressing a huge meeting, a mass meeting of students at Patna, and they asked me, "Well, what do you expect us to sacrifice? We have no property. So, we cannot give a portion of it in charity. We have no money. So we can't give you any donations. We are merely students at college. So, what is the actual programme, the code of conduct, that you could prescribe for us?

The students asked me what they could do I said, I can assure you about one thing. I can point out to you definitely one thing that you can do and that is, today you write to your father that relinquish all claims to his property, because you don't believe inheriting property. Not only private property but hereditary property. The secretary of the meeting came and whispered in my tit seems we have invited a wrong man", because they were prepared to do anything except translate revolutionary values into their own lives. So this is change of heart, and this change of heart to begin with the revolutionary himself.

Let The Man With Plough Make History

I hope that you and I and all of us will realise that the maker history in the future will be the man with the plough and not the man with the sword. So far human history has been made by kings, warriors, heroes and politicians. We are looking forward today when you will be made by the common man. He will no longer be object of history, but the architect of history. History has not come to an end, time has not stopped and there is no last word in history; there is no last event in history. Every event that is recorded history is not repetitive. Every event is unprecedented. So let us task ourselves whether this has happened anywhere else. If it has not happened anywhere else, it should happen in India, simply cause it has not happened anywhere else. This is the spirit in which in which we have to approach this stupendous task of Total Revolution.