Exploring the Social Imagination

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mohandas Gandhi ~ Not Imagining Socialism






Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi  was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family. Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organizing peasants, farmers, and urban laborers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchablity, but above all for achieving self-rule.

Gandhi worked before dawn every day. He spun his own garments at his spinning wheel which for him symbolized his belief in rural industry and self-reliance...  not Government.

"Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves." 

Of course, how can an individual remake him/herself if the government controls the individual. Yes, Gandhi was about communal life, but as an individual who had a sense of duty and respect for his/her responsibility in a community, one not mandated from the top down as in orchestrated and directed by a government.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." 

Gandhi was a provocatuer... His view on the caste system was not popular among the higher up Hindus who shunned what they considered to be polluted members of the lowest caste. Gandhi believed in the dignity of work, no matter what it was. Gandhi studied the Bible and the Koran and the writings of Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau.

"Religions are not for separating men from one another; they are meant to bind them." 

~ Gandhi

How would Gandhi justify a separation of church and state? What would bind people together? He might view what we have in the US - civil religion. Yes, it grows stronger every day and not through commonalities shared but through executed top down mandates.

Gandhi wrote about the ideal state and he argued that increasing State interference is immoral and opens up ever increasing possibilities of violence and corruption. Gandhi described self rule as the ideal State. This would imply not only self-rule as is commonly understood but it implied governance of one’s self, self-control and self regulation a situation where each individual is able to govern and control himself or herself thus making the State redundant.


~ Quotes are from numerous published materials documenting the life of Gandhi

*additional sources ~ National Geographic "Gandhi's Living Legacy" July 2015 and Online history sources on the Life of Mahatma Gandhi.


 

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