Revisionist history would have us believe that Gandhi was strictly a one-season man, dedicated to his non-violent stance above all else and at the expense of everything else. Now I don’t claim to be an expert in either non-violence or Gandhi, but I am fairly versed at calling out discrepancies.
“I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.”
It would seem to me in this quote he does not wish to force his way of being onto others, which sounds like non-violence to me, but then again, is it possible to be non-violent while advocating violence, even in defense?
“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.”
This one is my personal favorite, because he says “our” hearts. Many folks confuse non-violence with Pacifism and Gandhi was a very far stretch from that. The hunger strikes and willful disobedience and prison terms he endured in his lifetime show he deeply cared about the future of humanity and was willing to put his life on the line to show it. The Pollyannas I’ve called “greenie-weenies” in the past spend their hours incessantly trying to prove to themselves and others that nothing is wrong, or that the government can and will fix it all, while the Pacifists refuse to participate in any way in anything. They like to call Gandhi their greatest hero when clearly they are clueless as to how actively he pursued his passions.
In fact, hunger strikes are indeed violent, but apparently self-inflicted violence is an OK tactic to Gandhi. I can’t help but question how well they work though, considering it hasn’t been too effective for those innocent prisoners still in Guatanamo being force-fed.
Gandhi called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha. This translates roughly as “Truth-force.” A fuller rendering, though, would be “the force that is generated through adherence to Truth.”
His belief was that through consistent tactics of refusing all support for an unjust system, such as the British rule of India, like boycotting British products, refusing to work for British employers, pulling one’s children out of British schools, refusing to supply the British with services, and not paying taxes a nation could eventually “withdraw Indian support from the vast, monstrous Machine of Empire until it ground to a halt.” (Wolpert).
But the problem is it never did ground to a halt, or even close to it. The British may have left in theory, but India today looks exactly like what Gandhi was vehemently opposing, which was the intense centralization of power and wealth at the expense of the common man. He advocated basing economic and political power at the local level–an achievement none of world’s largest or most powerful nations have any interest in acquiring at all to this day.
In fact, it’s difficult to find among the mainstream media and whitewashed history any of the more objectionable of Gandhi’s beliefs. It’s as if the world is completely willing to accept whatever the establishment wants to pass for history as the totality of history itself.
It reminds me of a famous quote by another famous man: “Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.” Shakespeare, King Lear