Presentation on theme: "MOHONDAS GANDHI And His Global Legacy 1930-1950. REASEARCH QUESTIONS Why did pacifists in the West embrace Gandhi in the 1930s, and were they right."— Presentation transcript:
REASEARCH QUESTIONS Why did pacifists in the West embrace Gandhi in the 1930s, and were they right to do so? To what extent did Gandhian nonviolence strike a chord in the West – particularly in Europe and the USA?
STRUCTURE 1. INTRODUCTION 2. RECEPTION IN THE WESTERN WORLD – OVERVIEW 3. BRITAIN 4. CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT 5. RICHARD GREGG 6. KRISHNALAL SHRIDHARANI 7. CONCLUDING REMARKS
INTRODUCTION Much of his early reception focused around a notion of Gandhi’s divine status. The more sophisticated of the later assessments are notable for playing down or neglecting to each with this issue: Del Vasto: ‘the Hindu had to come for us to learn what we had always known’ (Hardiman, 2004). Huge influence on the existing pacifist movement. The more successful applications of Gandhianism began from a point of acknowledging differences or, conversely, were already at a distance enough from the man and his work simply to acquire a casual, though no less profound, influence. Influence wasn’t of course all one way with Gandhi. The Russian general strike in 1905 and the non-violent portions of the subsequent revolution, alongside the suffragette campaign in Britain during this period meant that ‘It was Gandhi who was influenced by some of these events rather than exerting an influence upon them.’ (Randle, 1994)
RECEPTION IN THE WESTERN WORLD – OVERVIEW Romain Rolland – Mahatma Gandhi: The Man Who Became One with the Universal Being (1924) – ‘[projection] of spiritual yearnings’ Gandhi visited him in 1931 – received as a celebrity. Fenner Brockway: true to his creed more so than ‘any man since the time of Christ’ (1929). Lord Irwin – viceroy 1926-31 – sympathetic: effectively allowed the ‘salt march’, 1930. Joseph Jean Lanza Del Vasto – visit in 1937 – Le Pelerinage aux Sources (1943) - ‘the Hindu had to come for us to learn what we had always known’ (Hardiman, 2004) – returned to India, got into politics and fasted for 20 days in protest against French treatment of Algerians (1957). Bart de Ligt – met in Switzerland in 1931 – Conquest of Violence (1937) – argued that syndicalism adopt the tactics of Gandhian non-violence – though he wasn’t a fan of the idea of Gandhi as a messiah figure.
BRITAIN Churchill’s dislike: “a thoroughly evil force, hostile to us in every fibre.” Lancashire mill owner solidarity: ‘Gandhi struck a chord with the working class in way that he generally did not among the ruling class’ (Hardiman, 2004).
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT Bayard Rustin founded CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) in Chicago, 1942. An acquaintance of Shridharani. Campaigned against British colonisation in India. Beaten and jailed for his involvement in a campaign to remove desegregate buses in 1947. The action was done in ‘true Gandhian spirit’, Rustin described it as “going Gandhi”. BAYARD RUSTIN (1912 –1987)
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT 2 W.E.B. Du Bois – in contact with Gregg. However, Du Bois seems to have dismissed Gregg's economic views and their potential to be applied in the US. Economics of Khaddar (1928) and A Philosophy of Indian Economic Development (1958). FoR (‘Fellowship of Reconciliation’) leader Howard Thurman traveled to India to meet Gandhi in 1935, an event highly publicized in the black press. Gregg’s PoNV "the 'Bible' of non-violence“ for the group.
RICHARD GREGG (1885–1974) MLK listed PoNV among his top five most influential books. Despite the common notion that he was a Quaker, Gregg held unconventional spiritual views: "I do not belong to any church, "he once explained. "I'd rather work from the outside."‘ Joseph Kip Kosek: ‘More than any other single figure, Gregg taught American pacifists and social reformers that nonviolence was more than an ethical or religious principle ; it was also a self-conscious method of social action with its own logic and strategy’ Why?: disappointment with, and formative effect of, the railway shopmen's strike of 1922. Gregg lost his job. He made up his mind to go to India.
RICHARD GREGG 2 Reclaiming/disrupting the discourse/commons - He employs "a sort of moral jiu-jitsu " that causes his attacker to "lose his moral balance.“ Bodies that neither obeyed nor resisted official authority threatened the subtle systems of corporeal discipline (cf. Michel Foucault) Modernising impulse: ‘In fact, nonviolence was the logical application of modern psychology, modern politics, and modern systems of representation and communication’ Open both to religious interpretation and secularisation - ‘For Gregg, as for generations of pacifists before him, the rejection of violence was a fundamental religious imperative. Yet the "power of non-violence" drew on more than divine mandate; it also depended on the insights of modern psychology, the influence of mass media, and the experience of mass spectatorship. In his fusion of principle and spectacle, he hoped to rescue and revitalize democratic practice’ (Kosek, 2005).
RICHARD GREGG 3 Gregg clearly thought that his work applied to America as well as India. Later work not as well regarded: ‘The nonviolence of the civil rights movement was on the model of The Power of Non- Violence, and although many of his ideas prefigured the countercultural experiments of the 1960s, Gregg's more thorough-going vision had little direct impact ’ (Kosek, 2005). Kosek’s study does much to vindicate the lack of attention Gregg receive din the latter part of his life ‘Militant nonviolence was at once authenticity and illusion, principle and spectacle. It was, in Gregg's own juxtaposition, the ‘practical instrument’ that could help usher in "the kingdom of God... here on earth." Perhaps, then, the method of nonviolence was the ideal political form for a nation of perfectionists and pragmatists’ (Kosek, 2005).
KRISHNALAL SHRIDHARANI (1911-1960) Educated in Ahmedabad and participated in the salt march in 1930. Emmigrated to the USA 1934. Allegedly a heavy drinker and smoker – proof that Gandhian principles need not have a spiritual substrate Significant part of the movement to secularise Gandhi’s work. ‘The appeal of one human being to another is at once the most primitive and authentic form of human communication. It is because the Satyagraha of Gandhi moves so surely on this level of social interaction that it presents an opportunity for a a fresh start in dealing with conflict-situations which none of us can afford to dismiss untried.’ (Shridharani, 261).
KRISHNALAL SHRIDHARANI 2 Careful qualification: ‘Satyagraha here stands not as a universal panacea. It represents, on the contrary, just one mode of direct action, resting upon the strongest human sanctions, that can be invoked when all else fails and no alternative presents itself but open application of force’. (Ibid, 262). ‘Indian traditions were necessary for the emergence of the technique, but they were no indispensable in its use. In the course of our study we have observed that groups whose culture was non-Hindu and non- Indian have used the programme with marked success.’ (Ibid, 269). The necessity of a degree of adaptation: ‘The resourcefulness of man is likely to invent many more stratagems to meet the “enemy” at every step in a strictly non-violent fashion…’ (Ibid, 279).
CONCLUDING REMARKS To what extent did Gandhian nonviolence strike a chord in the West – particularly in Europe and the USA? Charisma/leadership: ‘the Gandhian method depends very strongly on the presence of an inspired and charismatic moral leader’. (Hardiman, 255). Numerous successes and gestures of solidarity: ‘It came to be seen that modern governments, with their strong and often secretive and authoritarian bureaucracies, but with nominal commitment to the rule of law were particularly susceptible to principled non- violent protest … it has been argued … that Gandhian-style non- violent civil resistance has had a greater global impact since 1945 than armed struggles and violent resistance.’ (Hardiman, 2004, 254- 5) Frederick Fisher : “right psychological moment” (Hardiman, 2004, 246)
CONCLUDING REMARKS 2 Why did pacifists in the West embrace Gandhi in the 1930s, and were they right to do so? Could he have achieved more if he had chosen violence?: ‘… Marxists often argue that Gandhi was a reactionary who prevented real revolution, that could have made a difference to the downtrodden, from taking place. His limiting of violence prevented justice, it ensured that structures of violence stayed in place’ (Weber, 2007). Context: Sharp’s criticisms of Gandhi - while Sharp is concerned with social and political freedom, Gandhi’s focus is on a search for Truth: ‘Nevertheless, a friend of Sharp has pointed out that this debate must be seen in context. Ralph Summy notes that Sharp is trying to promote nonviolence in a highly acquisitive capitalist society’ (Weber, 2007).
BIBLIOGRAPHY Gregg, Richard, The Power of Nonviolence, London, 1935. Hardiman, David, Gandhi in His Time and Ours, London: Hurst & co, 2004, pp. 238-57. Kosek, Joseph Kip Richard Gregg, ‘Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence’, The Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 4 (Mar., 2005), pp. 1318-1348. Randle, Michael, Civil Resistance, London: Fontana, 1994.
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