Prof. Ramin Jahanbegloo, an Iranian philosopher who was jailed for four months by the regime on foolish espionage charges, writes in the Hindu-
There is a tendency in today’s world to think and to say that Gandhi’s ideal of non-violence is a noble idea but impractical and unrealistic.
Why? Because history shows his ideas were impractical, unrealistic and as stupid as shit. He appealed 'to every Briton' to surrender to Hitler. They preferred to defeat that cunt. Germany and the rest of the world was grateful.
I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.
The odd thing about this affirmation is that it tends to sanctify Gandhi while rejecting his principles.
True. Attributing nobility to Gandhi is foolish.
However, Gandhi was not a saint; nor was he a religious leader.
He claimed to be both. He accepted the title 'Mahatma' which means Saint and said that he alone understood the Bhagvad Gita- a sacred book for Hindus.
He was, first and foremost, an original thinker
but he did not have one single original thought. All his fads were borrowed from other fools.
and an acute political strategist,
he was astute at raising money and getting his acolytes into a position of control of the Congress Party. But this meant it became a vehicle to class-power for upper caste Hindus of a background similar to himself. This was not good for the country as a whole or for the anti-Imperialist cause or anything else which was worthwhile.
who believed profoundly in the possibility of introducing humanity to the principle of non-violence.
Introducing? What had the Jain Religion been doing for thousands of years? In England there were plenty of Quakers and other Conshie cranks. Bertrand Russell went to jail while Gandhi was trying to recruit soldiers for the British Army.
Gandhi’s idea of non-violence was not a dream; it was a realistic hope,
No. It was a strategy adopted by some mercantile and 'writer' castes in India. Essentially, they disqualified themselves from 'Kshatriya' (warrior, aristocratic) status so as to concentrate on making money. Under British Rule, being a Gandhian meant having your cake- in terms of staking a claim to power as and when the Brits relinquished it- while eating it in the safety of a prison cell from time to time. Actual revolutionaries risked the noose and the confiscation of their property.
armed with a dose of practical idealism; that of the global welcoming of the law of love.
Is this guy a MeK type nutter?
By saying this, he presented himself, at the same time, as an Asian who was influenced by Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, and as a person who was deeply influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ, Socrates, Tolstoy, Ruskin and Thoreau. Thomas Merton once wrote that Mahatma Gandhi was “an alienated Asian”. Maybe so, but it is not because Gandhi learnt many things from the West that he had necessarily become a stranger to his own culture and to the traditions of the East. On the contrary, his proximity to the East and the West proved to be very fruitful and made of him, what we can call, “an intercultural Indian”.
But that species of blathershite existed long before he was born! Indeed, by then, there were plenty of Europeans. including most ICS officers in Hindu districts, who - unlike Gandhi- knew Sanskrit and Pali and so forth.
Gandhi was endowed with an intellectual openness,
in other words, he was not actually mentally retarded or clinically insane.
which helped him to learn from others,
as opposed to incessantly playing with himself
and, as a result, live up to his ideals. As such, he was not only an Indian political and moral leader but also the founding father of modern non-violence as it has been practised for the past 100 years around the globe.
Gandhi adopted a British tradition of 'passive resistance' as practiced by the Baptist Minister John Clifford. Lots of silly people would go to jail rather than pay their rates. Why? Coz some of that money would go to Church of England schools and these nutters thought the Archbishop of Canterbury was the Whore of Babylon.
As such, with Gandhi, the philosophy of non-violence turned into an instrument of public dissent and a pragmatic tool of the powerless against the powerful.
But all that existed before he returned to India.
However, in the eyes of Gandhi, while being an instrument of conflict resolution and universal harmony, non-violence was also an essentially moral exercise.
Unlike masturbating on public transport or shitting on the doorsteps of people who, for some reason, don't like that sort thing.
The sad truth, however, is that most passive resistance is a public nuisance. It is seldom a moral exercise at all. There are times when it can be helpful. But, in that case, it will be even more successful if it is spontaneous rather than appearing to have been orchestrated by a bunch of antagonomic nutters who do it for a living.
I wonder what this Professor now views the Iranian revolution. Monarchies in the region seem to have done better than the various different type of Revolutionary Republics. Also, philosophers and political scientists have been proven to be utterly shit.
What Gandhi called the “soul force” was actually an ethical mode of conduct.
Ethical conduct does not involve boasting of imaginary super-powers. 'Soul force' does not exist. Lying to a bunch of very poor, very stupid, people is one way to get power. But it is not an ethical way to do it. On the other hand, all sorts of bogus Swamis have made a lot of money and gotten to sleep with naked chicks by preying on the stupid.
As a matter of fact, he viewed non-violence essentially as an ethical commitment and a constructive political action.
Because that was the line of crap he was selling.
For Gandhi, the ethical and the political were the same.
Which is why he was crap in both spheres.
Therefore, for him, the struggle against violence
which should be left to the police
which should be left to people who enjoy telling fanatics that they be kray kray
was at the same moral level as disobeying unjust laws:
That's a pretty low moral level. The fact is we all disobey laws which conflict with our interests- if we can get away with it. If the law is unjust, we may have a defence in law or a jury may refuse to convict.
Interestingly, the 'unjust' laws Gandhi defied are still around in Independent India.
it was expressed by the soul force and the pursuit of truth to uplift others.
But Gandhi did nothing but repeat stupid lies. What 'soul force' does that require? Being stupid and enjoying telling lies so as to magnify your own importance is all that is required.
Gandhi had a profoundly ethical view of life: he recognised neither the infallible authority of texts nor the sanctity of religious traditions,
but did think that his stupid ideas were actually very very clever
but he was also the foremost critic of modern politics and its authoritarian practices.
He may have been a critic of the modern politics we have in India but he played a role in its gaining ascendancy.
That is why, reading Gandhi today is unavoidably to rethink modern politics as a new relation between power and violence and as a way of transcending the conventional distinction between citizens and the state.
This is nonsense. Gandhi was happy to be locked up when he'd made too much of a nuisance of himself. What changed after Independence is that politicians were wary of locking up similar nutjobs- though extrajudicial killing was fine if they ran amok killing cops. Why? A spell in jail raises one's profile. It gains you a vote-bank. Thus it is better to soft soap such nuisances while finding other similar nutters to split their vote.
The distinction between the citizen and the State should not be 'transcended' anymore than the distinction between the commuter and the train he is sitting in.
It is also a move towards an inter-cultural democracy,
like the one the author made getting on a plane to India. However, Indians who don't get on a plane to somewhere else can't make any such move.
where solidarity of differences is not compromised by mere nationalism,
Cool! Instead of showing solidarity to other people on the basis of belonging to the same nation we can do so on the basis that they too are organic life forms. Why stop there? Why not express solidarity for all macroscopic objects in the Universe?
and democratic action is not limited by mere constitutionalism and representation.
and the laws of physics as opposed to those of magic
Working in this perspective, the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence finds the conventional meaning of politics as incomplete,
because it lacks concepts of 'soul-force' and 'astral-power' and 'mentational-magik'.
while problematising democratic politics as a way of assigning a duty to citizens to be vigilant about the abuses of power by the state and to struggle against the “Sultanization” of political power in our contemporary societies.
Why not just tell them that the power-elite are shapeshifting lizards from planet X?
On the social level, Gandhi envisioned an ideal society where social justice is done, including for the last person.
Who, nevertheless, slits his own throat because all the fun has been drained out of life.
This is a common world in which institutions aim to get the best out of the individual. The entire Gandhian thought in the realm of citizenship and democracy revolves around the establishment of a just society.
By banning anything people like to eat or drink or do. Gandhi appealed to all 'thinking Indians' to give up sex. Sadly, his sons and their children and their children were unthinking beasts.
As such, Gandhi’s idea of democracy hinges on moral growth in humankind, where an undisciplined and unrestrained individualism gives its place to an empathetic humanism.
This could be the idea of a theocracy. It can't be the idea of a democracy. Why? That which constitutes 'moral growth' is decided in accordance with the Condorcet Jury theorem. It isn't whatever bug happens to have crawled up your moral asshole.
Moreover, while speaking on non-violence and democracy, Gandhi believed that humanity had to develop certain qualities such as fearlessness, non-possession and humility.
Though peaceful democracies display no such traits. It is smart to be afraid of pain and poverty and so forth. Non-possession is only cool if you have the backing of wealthy industrialists.
The main aim was to restructure humans to suit to an inter-cultural and pluri-dimensional democracy.
Why not restructure them to breathe underwater or absorb energy directly from the Sun? That would be cool. Being re-engineered so as to suit a boring and stupid type of political regime is not cool at all.
Gandhi’s repeated emphasis on service to all human beings from all traditions of thought was the essence of his non-violent democratic theory.
But instead of serving anybody he just went around collecting funds which he proceeded to piss away on crackpot schemes.
In this pluralistic approach to the dialogue of cultures and faiths, Gandhi was far ahead of his time.
not to say out of his mind.
Indeed, his non-violent democratic theory as a philosophy of inter-cultural dialogue is still far ahead of our time, several generations after his death.
A guy whose political ideas can't be implemented in his own century ought not to be a politician.
Gandhi was not a dogmatic nationalist
For the greater part of his life he was a loyal and obedient subject of the King Emperor. He may have been a sincere Nationalist but the truth is his actions helped the die-hard Tory Imperialists again and again and again.
but essentially a pathfinder towards a common ground among different cultures and diverse mentalities.
It may be that he advanced the country down the road to Partition. But that may have happened anyway.
Therefore, his philosophy of democracy remains neither mono-cultural nor essentialist.
The concept of democracy can't be mono-cultural- otherwise one would not speak of 'democracy' but rather refer to its political regime by a name denoting that culture- e.g. 'Americanism'.
On the other hand Democracy must have an essence- i.e. there must be something about it which obtains in all possible worlds. A philosophy of democracy which does not identify such an essence is just handwaving bullshit.
It is essentially pluralistic and empathetic.
Nonsense! Gandhi condemned British democracy. He had no empathy at all for people who thought he was a stupid liar.
More importantly, his attachment to politics is more ethical than religious.
No. His attachment to politics was political. He was not a religious or ethical preceptor who took up politics. Rather, he was a small time lawyer-politician who claimed to have achieved something very wonderful in South Africa by 'soul force'.
Consequently, religion for him is identified with ethics rather than theology.
But ethics, for him, was identified with giving him money and listening to his stupid shite.
Therefore, his concept of democracy and modes and methods of achieving it, including Satyagraha and Swaraj, are not theological concepts.
They are political- d'uh.
Gandhi believes that human destiny has constantly been on the move towards a non-theological truth.
That can be a theological truth. Indeed, any old shite has that quality. Gandhi- but also Nehru- firmly believed in re-incarnation. That's why, even if Satyagraha was useless, still one could be reborn in Satya Yuga or Vaikuntha or some other such paradisal dimension where there would be no death, or scarcity, or naughtiness of any sort.
Muslims and Christians don't believe in reincarnation. Still, they might have believed there was spiritual merit in standing with Gandhi. However, if you don't believe politics, or plumbing or any other potentially useful profession, should be fucked up by shitheads hoping to improve their prospects in the afterlife, then standing with Gandhi was silly- unless you made money of it.
And he was a person who pursued truth in all aspects of life, not only spirituality, and encouraged others to join him in this pursuit.
Sadly, it is not true that fucking up the economy will get you to Heaven or reborn as Beyonce or whatever.
Gandhi considered democracy as a dynamic element in the ethical becoming of human civilisation.
But this could be said of anything at all! Try it for yourself. Replace the word 'democracy' with something you like- e.g. 'Pop Music is a dynamic element in the ethical becoming of human civilization.' So is Porn.
His effort to bridge different views of life
consisted of taking money from anyone who would pay or recruiting any nutter- even an atheist- who would support his stupid schemes.
was matched in many ways by his approach to the many-sidedness of truth.
Lies may claim to be one of Truth's many sides but Lies they remain.
That is why he did not reject different traditions of social life; he simply affirmed what he considered to be authentic in them and thought of bringing them together in the realisation of an ethical common ground.
Or in their simply doing what he told them or gave him lots of money.
This enabled him to maintain that it would not be possible to understand the concept of democracy
which lots of Brits understood just fine- which is where the Indians got the idea
without having some understanding of the philosophical tradition of a critique of violence in which it is nurtured.
What fucking 'philosophical tradition'? Don't kill your daddy or eat the baby. Stop raping people all the time. That's all the critique of violence anybody needs.
Gandhi, therefore, speaks of democracy and non-violence as two sides of the same reality.
The reality that he was talking through his arse.
He defined his mission of promoting non-violence and democracy in India beyond all political and philosophical sources of hatred, exclusion, suspicion and war.
He was saying 'Don't kill Whitey. Go to jail periodically by all means. But don't fucking kill Whitey. Those guys will fuck you up but good.'
He was well aware of the fact that politics is a fragile concept and is vulnerable to nationalist justifications of violence and war.
Politics is not a fragile concept at all. Political regimes evolve through war and violence. Nationalist justifications may be valid. They may be foolish. It depends.
That is the reason why he refused to define India in terms of ethnic purity or linguistic unity or some other unifying religious attribute.
Yet, India exists because Hindus want it to exist and, because they are the overwhelming majority their wishes prevail. Why is this the case? Probably because the Hindu Religion has a 'sacred geography' which causes Hindus from one part of the country to want to go on pilgrimage to other parts of India or places adjacent to India.
More than rallying Indians to combat various “others,”
Gandhi tried to recruit soldiers for the British during the First World War. But he changed tack and rallied Indians to get rid of its British overlords. That's why he gained salience. Speaking generally, Gandhi's followers did better- or, at least, their kids and grandkids did better- than they would otherwise have done. This is because capturing the Indian State paid off long run.
Gandhi’s philosophy of democracy introduced an anti-monistic and pluralistic dimension into a primarily territorial rootedness of Indiannes.
Says an Iranian guy who spent a lot of time in France and the US but who knows nothing about India.
In this sense, it could be argued that for Gandhi, there was no sentiment of loving one’s country (namely India) without loving the culture of the other.
But he had no love for British culture- that was his alterity.
Gandhi’s appeal to planetary companionship
why not super-Galactic?
was based on an inclusive and dialogical idea of living together which disapproved all forms of national or religious self-centredness. As he pointed out: “The golden way is to be friends with the world and to regard the whole human family as one. He who distinguishes between the votaries of one’s own religion and those of another miss-educates the members of his own and opens the way for discord and irreligion.”
Gandhi's political career took over as the leader of a Hindu-Muslim combine. It ended with Partition and genocide and ethnic cleansing. Why? India has had hundreds of thousands of mendicants proclaiming the equality of all religions and the futility of orthopraxy. They have changed nothing- unless they created a new religion which fought those which had come before. Gandhi did not create a new religion. But he is a mascot for a dynastic party and is still liked by people from his home state because of his enduring fame.
Discord is not necessarily a bad thing. Irreligion is often a very good thing. Open the way to both by all means provided that means more useful stuff can get done. Gassing on about the essential unity of the Universe is a waste of time- unless you are actually selling some type of drug or else running a cult.