Q. Why do you say, "Democracy can only be saved through non-violence”? (The questioner is an American friend.)
A. Because democracy, so long as it is sustained by violence, cannot
provide for or protect the weak. 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. No
country in the world today shows any but patronizing regard for the
weak. The weakest, you say, go to the wall. Take your own case. Your
land is owned by a few capitalist owners. The same is true of South
Africa. These large holdings can-not be sustained except by
violence, veiled if not open. Western democracy, as it functions
today, is diluted Na- zim or Fascism. At best it is merely a cloak
to hide the Nazi and the Fascist tendencies of imperialism. Why is
there the war today, if it is not for the satisfaction of the desire
to share the spoils? It was not through democratic methods that
Britain bagged India. What is the meaning of South African
democracy? It’s very constitution has been drawn to protect the
white man against the coloured man, the natural occupant. Your own
history is perhaps blacker still, in spite of what the Northern
States did for the abolition of slavery. The way you have treated
the Negro presents a discreditable record. And it is to save such
democracies that the war is being fought. There is something very
hypocritical about it. I am thinking just now in terms of
non-violence and trying to expose violence in its nakedness.
India is trying to evolve true democracy, i.e.
without violence. Our weapons are those of Satyagraha expressed
through the Charkha, the village industries, primary education
through handicrafts, removal of untouchabilitv, communal harmony,
prohibition, and non-violent organi-zation of labour as in Ahmedabad.
These mean mass effort and mass education. We have big agencies for
con-ducting these activities. They are purely voluntary, and their
only sanction is service of the lowliest.
This is the permanent part of the non-violent effort.
From this effort is created the capacity to offer non-violent
resistance called non-co-operation and civil disobedience which may
culminate in mass refusal to pay rent and taxes. As you know, we
have tried non-co-operation and civil disobedience on a fairly large
scale and fairly successfully. The experiment has in it promise of a
brilliant future. As yet our resistance has been that of the weak.
The aim is to develop the resistance of the strong. Your wars will
never ensure safety for democracy, India's experiment can and will,
if the people come up to the mark or, to put it another way, if God
gives me the nece-ssary wisdom and strength to bring the experiment