You are here:
51. What of the 'Weak Majority' ?
Prof. Timur of Islamia College, Peshawar, writes: "The world is indebted to you for revealing to it in these hard times the hidden values of non-violence. The experiment which you want to make of defending India against foreign aggre-ssion without the use of arms would be the boldest moral experi-ment of all times. There are two possible results of such a course. Either the conscience of the invaders may be awakened by the love of the invaded and they may repent of their sin. Or the proud invaders may take non-violence as a sign of physical weakness and degeneration, and may think it right to subjugate, rule over, and exploit, a weak people. This is the doctrine of Nietzsche which is followed in practice by Hitler. A great loss is involved in such conquest of the physically weak by the physically strong. A few strong-willed members of the conquered nation may refuse to own allegiance to the conquerors, but the large majority always submits and adopts servile manners to preserve its existence. Among them may be found great scientists, philosophers and artists. Genius and moral strength are not always combined in the same man. The strong man does not need armies to defend his liberty. He sacrifices his body to preserve his soul. Such men are, however, few and far between. It is the weak majority which needs pro-tection. The question is how to protect it by non-violent methods. This is the real difficulty which every patriot feels when he thinks of adopting non-violence for the defence of his country." The weak majority no doubt needs protection. If all were soldiers either of Ahimsa or Himsa, no such questions as call for discussion in these columns would arise. There is always a weak majority that would want protection against man's mischief. The orthodox method we know. Nazism is its logical outcome. It is an answer to a definite want. A terrible wrong wantonly perpetrated against a whole nation cried out for redress. And Hitler arose to avenge it. Whatever the ultimate fortune of the war, Germany will not be humiliated again. Humanity will not stand a second outrage. But in seeking to avenge the wrong by the wrong method of violence brought to very near perfection, Hitler has brutalized not only Germans but a large part of humanity. The end of it we have not yet reached. For Britain, so long as she holds to the orthodox method, has to copy the Nazi methods, if she is to put up a successful defence. Thus the logical outcome of the violent method seems to be increasingly to brutalize man including “the weak majority". For it has to give its defenders the required measure of co-operation.
Now imagine the same majority defended after the method of non-violence. As it admits of no grossness, no fraud, no malice, it must raise the moral tone of the defenders. Hence there will be a corresponding rise in the moral tone of the “weak majority" to be defended. No 'doubt there will be difference in degree, but not in kind.
But the snag comes in when we consider the ways and means of working the non-violent method. In working the other, there is no difficulty in getting the human material. Therefore that way seems easy. In getting non-violent defenders, we have to pick and choose. Money cannot buy them. The non-violent process is wholly different from the one commonly known. I can only say that my own experie-nce in organizing non-violent action for half a century fills me with hope for the future. It has succeeded in a marked measure in protecting the “weak majority ". But half a century is nothing in discovering the hidden possibilities of this force and working them out. Those, therefore, like the correspondents who are attracted to non-violence should, according to their ability and opportunity, join the experi-ment. It has entered upon a most interesting; though at the same time a most difficult, stage. I am myself sailing on uncharted waters. I have to take soundings every half- hour. The difficulty only braces me for the struggle.
Sevagram, 6-8-'40
Harijan, 11-8-1940