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Tired of gandhi

Tired of Gandhi

In political theatre certain names are used to provide cachet, gravitas, or moral resolve. My favorites happen to be war – mongering, pro – capitalist, largely dead white European males. How banal. In the post – modern, populist, ‘I – feel – your – pain’ (please let me increase taxes and spend more because I love you) socialism, no name gets used and abused more than Gandhi. It is frankly annoying and tiring. Gandhi was anything but great.

Churchill called the careworn defender of Indian self – sufficiency a ‘half – naked fakir’. Harsh but not far off the mark. Gandhi’s recipe for India was one of immoderate nonsense. It took the Indians 50 years to cast off the shackles of Gandhian isolationism and communalism. Now India, in process of integrating itself into the global supply chain of extended trade, is finally lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, and assuming a middle power (or larger) regional role.

No thanks to Gandhi.

I have two problems with the bald, femininely built prophet. First his message and set of policies were anti – capitalist; anti – modern; and anti – progressive. Second, the Gandhian ‘model’ repudiates reality and merges mysticism and emotionalism, into a replacement for reality and practicality. Churchill was not too far wrong is his assessment but having said that, it is obvious that India would have attained independence post – World War Two. In fact it was a precondition of Indian support against Hitlerism. In any event the costs to the British of their Indian colony had by the 1920’s, outstripped profits. It was the burden of empire and the real consquential costs of controlling India, that made Indian independence inevitable. The terms of economic and political trade had turned. Expenses, political opinion, and mundane reality made Indian independence inevitable – Gandhi or no Gandhi.

Gandhi’s importance rested upon his non – violent approach to political change and self – rule. He advocated the complete rejection of all things British and western, through pacifist, non – engagement means. Gandhi’s great fortune was that he did this in a British protectorate, not a Russian, Japanese, French, Italian or Japanese colony. He would have simply been shot.

So what of Gandhi’s great plan?

According to Gandhi’s 1909 book (and his subsequent 40 year career), ‘Hind Swaraj’, Indian self – rule would repudiate western civilization and embrace ‘the village.’ British imports – law, medicine, transport, education, capital, schools, hospitals, and police – would be substituted by Indian communalism. Gandhi wanted the complete physical, mental and moral emancipation of India, from all British artifacts, including technology, the media and even advanced agricultural production.

It was to say the least, a program of Medieval proportions.

Gandhi advocated village self – sufficiency. This of course ensures poverty. Gandhi, trained in England and South Africa as a lawyer, was totally ignorant about economics, and how and why civilizations develop. Gandhi’s Marxism was untainted by the concerns of modernity. In his mystical world – view Indians would use the hand – loom to spin their own textiles’; use human labor and sharp sticks to develop their fields for agricultural output; and live in simple communal organizations untouched by western methods and devilish ideas around modernity and wealth creation.

In this dream Islam became an ally. The millions of Hindu’s slaughtered by Muslims over 1000 years (100 million or more?), made no impact on the Indian prophet. Saint Gandhi was supposedly a moralist and Hindu reformer, dedicated to modesty, chastity, restraint and temperance. But in his zeal to oust the British, attain power, implement ‘Satyagraha’ (truth – force) and achieve primitive communism, the Muslims – historically the destroyers of Hindu civilization – were conscripted. A rather strange alliance to say the least.

Indeed emboldened by Gandhi, Muslims in the early 1920’s rioted, attacked Hindu and non – Muslim sites, and in good Islamic fashion murdered 10,000 – 20,000 innocents. A poignant question is why the British did not deal with Gandhi and his leadership cadre at that point and destroy Gandhi’s movement? Maybe Gandhi’s support was too deep, the message too resonant, or the consequences too grave. In any event it was a mistake not to shut down Gandhian Marxism in the early 1920’s.

Gandhi’s legacy was to constrain, if not cripple Indian development. His embrace of Islam and ignorance of its violent nature directly led to firstly Islamic demands (within his Indian congress movement) and then in 1947 – 48, to a bloody civil war upon independence, in which at least 2 million died. Islam proved itself no friend or follower of Gandhian pacifism. His disavowal of modernity led to Indian communalism and prideful, superstitions beliefs in an ‘Indian – way’. This retarded Indian political and economic development by two generations.

Gandhi was thus a myth, more than he was a man. His mystical utopianism was no more coherent or relevant than the tired Marxist dogma of Mao, Castro or Chavez. The myth of village communalism, a rejection of modernity and racist contempt for European methods, has only very recently been cast off. Indian independence was inevitable. Fifty years of destructive socialism was not. For that disaster Indians can thank their saintly prophet, Mr. Gandhi.

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