Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gandhi - The Anarchist

GANDHI ON GOVERNMENT Government control gives rise to fraud, suppression of Truth, intensification of the black market and artificial scarcity. Above all, it unmans the people and deprives them of initiative, it undoes the teaching of self-help...I look upon an increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the heart of all progress...Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest....We find the general work of mankind is being carried on from day to day be the mass of people acting as if by instinct....If they were instinctively violent the world would end in no time...It is when the mass mind is unnaturally influenced by wicked men that the mass of mankind commit violence. But they forget it as they commit it because they return to their peaceful nature immediately the evil influence of the directing mind has been removed....A government that is evil has no room for good men and women except in its prisons. http://www.whatwouldgandhido.net/ * Was Gandhi an Anarchist? Visionary promoted decentralized, direct democracy as key to peace; power resides in the individual and in self-rule By Josh Fattal (View Original) Anarchy is about abolishing hierarchy. According to the original, Greek meaning of the word, Anarchy stands to create a world where there is no separation between the rulers and the ruled--a place where everyone rules themselves. (An-archy in Greek means without rulers.) An anarchic vision of society is nonviolent, self-managed and non-hierarchical, and Anarchist thinkers hold dear to the ideal of democracy--rule by the people. They suggest political confederations of local organizations; a "commune of communes" was how the 19th century Parisians Anarchists articulated it. Anarchists seek to dissolve power instead of seize it. Therefore, they seek a social revolution instead of a political one. The social revolution throws into question all aspects of social life including family organization, schooling, religion, crime and punishment, technology, political organization, patriarchy, environmental concerns as well as others. Anarchists are identified "as enemies of the State," because they do oppose the existence of a hierarchical, top-down State.

Mohandas Gandhi opposed the State. The State is the military, police, prisons, courts, tax collectors, and bureaucrats. He saw the State as concentrated violence. "The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence." Gandhi recognized that the State claims to serve the nation, but he realized that this was a fallacy. "While apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, [the State] does the greatest harm to mankind."1

According to Dr. Dhawan, Gandhi was a philosophical Anarchist because he believed that the "[the greatest good of all] can be realized only in the classless, stateless democracy."2 While Gandhi advocated democracy, he differentiated between direct democracy and western democracy. Commenting on the parliamentary system, Gandhi says, "If India copies England, it is my firm conviction that she will be ruined. Parliaments are merely emblems of slavery."3 He had no more appetite for majority democracy of America, "It is a superstition and an ungodly thing to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority."4 By centralizing power, western democracies feed into violence. Thus, he thought decentralization was the key to world peace.


Towards a non-violent society: a position paper on anarchism, social change and Food Not Bombs by Chris Crass Gandhi writes of Tolstoy in his autobiography, "It was forty years ago, when I was passing through a severe crisis of skepticism and doubt that I came across Tolstoy's book, The Kingdom of God is Within You, and was deeply impressed by it. I was at that time a believer in violence. Its reading cured me of my skepticism and made me a firm believer in ahimsa(non-violence)... He was the greatest apostle of non-violence that the present age has produced".

Anarchist ideas also influenced Gandhi's ideas about the future society. In the book Gandhi Today, Mark Shepard explains, "India could become strong and healthy, Gandhi insisted, only by revitalizing its villages, where over four-fifths of its people lived - a figure that still applies today. He envisioned a society of strong villages, each one politically autonomous and economically self-reliant. In fact, Gandhi may be this century's greatest proponent of decentralism - basing economic and political power at the local level."

After Gandhi was assassinated, the person who was known as "Gandhi's spiritual heir", Vinoba Bhave led several major campaigns to reclaim land for the poor. In 1951 Bhave and the many workers from Sarva Seva Sangh (Society for the Service of All), started the Bhoodon (land gift) movement. Many felt that Bhave was a saint in the Hindu tradition, and so when he began walking across the country asking for acres of land from landowners, he received land gifts, which were then given to the poor. One and one third million acres, according to Shepard, were actual reclaimed by the poor (far more than had been managed by the land reform programs of India's government). Bhave was involved with other projects and campaigns to bring about the "non-violent revolution". Bhave was an anarchist.

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