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Reading Gandhi Reading(lareviewofbooks.org)

22 pointskwindla posted 12 days ago3 Comments
3 Comments:
einhverfr said 11 days ago:

As an interesting note, my time in Indonesia introduced me to Sukarno's writings, which introduced me to Gandhi's writings on nationalism. These have been firm influences on my view that the choice is not between nationalism and internationalism, but between nationalism with internationalism and globalism with colonialism.

yesenadam said 11 days ago:

Gandhi was one of the huge number of people influenced and inspired by G.K. Chesterton. Gandhi read an essay of Chesterton's on Indian nationalism in 1909, which in part went:

"The principal weakness of Indian Nationalism seems to be that it is not very Indian and not very national. It is all about Herbert Spencer and Heaven knows what. What is the good of the Indian national spirit if it cannot protect its people from Herbert Spencer? I am not fond of the philosophy of Buddhism; but it is not so shallow as Spencer's philosophy; it has real ideas of its own. One of the papers, I understand, is called the Indian Sociologist. What are the young men of India doing that they allow such an animal as a sociologist to pollute their ancient villages and poison their kindly homes?

When all is said, there is a national distinction between a people asking for its own ancient life and a people asking for things that have been wholly invented by somebody else. There is a difference between a conquered people demanding its own institutions and the same people demanding the institutions of the conqueror. Suppose an Indian said: "I heartily wish India had always been free from white men and all their works. Every system has its sins: and we prefer our own. There would have been dynastic wars; but I prefer dying in battle to dying in hospital. There would have been despotism; but I prefer one king whom I hardly ever see to a hundred kings regulating my diet and my children. There would have been pestilence; but I would sooner die of the plague than die of toil and vexation in order to avoid the plague. There would have been religious differences dangerous to public peace; but I think religion more important than peace. Life is very short; a man must live somehow and die somewhere; the amount of bodily comfort a peasant gets under your best Republic is not so much more than mine. If you do not like our sort of spiritual comfort, we never asked you to. Go, and leave us with it." Suppose an Indian said that, I should call him an Indian Nationalist, or, at least, an authentic Indian, and I think it would be very hard to answer him. But the Indian Nationalists whose works I have read simply say with ever-increasing excitability, "Give me a ballot-box. Provide me with a Ministerial dispatch-box. Hand me over the Lord Chancellor's wig. I have a natural right to be Prime Minister. I have a heaven-born claim to introduce a Budget. My soul is starved if I am excluded from the Editorship of the Daily Mail," or words to that effect."[0]

On reading this, Gandhi "immediately translated it into Gujarati, and on the basis of it he wrote his book Hind Swaraj, his own first formulation of a specifically "Indian" solution to his country’s problems. Thus you might argue, not quite absurdly, that India owed its independence, or at least the manner in which it came, to an article thrown off by Chesterton in half-an-hour in a Fleet Street pub."[0]

"Gandhi read G. K. Chesterton's essay in the Illustrated London News on September 18, advising young Indians to hold by their traditional culture rather than introducing the new ideas associated with Herbert Spencer. Gandhi was so delighted with this that he told Indian Opinion to reprint it. Gandhi also liked a letter by Chesterton to the Daily News of October 22; Chesterton preached a version of Ruskin's and Morris's enthusiasm for the culture of the Middle Ages."[1]

[0] http://americanchestertonsociety.blogspot.com/2009/01/gandhi...

[1] Martin Green, Gandhi: Voice of a New Age Revolution, 2009

awadheshv said 11 days ago:

> It’s generally foolhardy to write about Gandhi.

and yet here you are.