THERE is a pause at present in the clamor of Indian politics, and it is well that it should be used to review and to appraise the situation. What does the pause imply?
There is a silence that nothing saith.
Which is this? Is it the silence of sullenness and anger, soon to break out again in violence, or the silence of listlessness and indifference? These are questions for those to answer upon whom has been laid the burden of the mystery of this Oriental people. To govern it is necessary to understand.
It is, I think, true to say that one effect of government by an elaborate machine is that those in control are apt to consider the highest good of the administration to consist in its smooth running. The manipulation of its wheels and screws becomes the chief end of their statesmanship. But a time arrives, and it has arrived now in India, when a higher type of wisdom is demanded of the rulers. Statesmen, not officials, — men who can see into the causes of the nation’s ills, who can feel and gauge the gusts of passion and desire that are stirring in the hearts of the people round about them, and who have the courage to act accordingly, however precedent may fail them — leaders of that kind are demanded by India’s present condition, and the lack of such leaders makes the future uncertain and menacing.
It has always been a proverb that India is a land hard for the foreigner to understand, and a land about which it is dangerous for anyone to generalize. As a matter of fact, this mystery has been due to little else than the vastness and the silence of the Indian continent. But it is no longer to-day so vast or so silent. The shrinkage of a world that now, we are told, is to the wireless telegraphist only one tenth of a second in circumference, has affected India also. Lord Curzon, when he was Viceroy, described, in one of his sonorous phrases, some world-event of the time as ‘reverberating through the whispering-galleries of the East.’ There have been reverberations many and terrible since then, which have brought men together in fear, in hope, in jealousy of the stranger, in an awakening to national kinship.
These agitations have stirred the life of India no less than they have that of other lands. The dumb has found a voice. Someone recently in the House of Commons charged Mr. Montagu with having disturbed ‘the pathetic contentment’ of the Indian people. The pathos consists, one must suppose, in the fact that, once the sleeper wakes, no potions can charm him back to slumber. From the point of view of many in the West the tragedy of the situation lies in the quickening of desire in these long-patient and submissive hearts. Where a temper of dispassion, of listlessness, had brooded for so long over a docile population, and ‘love for the Ultimate and Universal’ had happily absorbed their attention, the tides of worldly longing have now begun to surge and heave. It is a change that is disquieting to those who had profited by that ‘ pathetic contentment,’ and it demands diagnosis.
The first fact that we have to face and understand is — Mahatma Gandhi. I do not propose to add another to the many attempts that have been made to pluck out the heart of this mystery; but no explanation of contemporary India can leave him out of account. When ‘ Lokamanya ’ Tilak died, someone described him as a ‘portent.’ He was that just because he was Lokamanya, that is, a demagogue, the voice of popular passion, crude, violent, dangerous. Gandhi is ‘Mahatma,’ and by that title he is linked, not with the gross, sensual, common man, but with India’s ideal, India’s dreams. In a Marathi poem, written seven centuries ago, the god Krishna is represented as describing the Mahatmas, ‘the greathearted,’ ‘who day and night are from all passion free.’
Within their minds as in a scabbard I,
The All-Indweller, lie.
These great-souled ones; not the least rift can be
Between their hearts and me.
One of whom such thoughts as these can be thought is not a portent; he is a symbol. In him we see the spirit of India reawakening, calling up ideals, long forgotten, from their graves. Such is this frail man’s power. He is India risen from the dead, and his voice stirs in hearts all through the land emotions that are ancient and profound.
A shrewd observer has remarked that the influence that Mr. Gandhi exercises is not such as accompanies a political movement but such as accompanies a religious revival. The religion of that realist, that practitioner of real politik, B. G. Tilak, was a tool in the politician’s hand. ‘He used to challenge my interpretation of life,’Mr. Gandhi tells us, ‘and frankly and bluntly would say truth and untruth were only relative terms, but at the bottom there was no such thing as truth and untruth, just as there was no such thing as life and death.’
That is the voice of the Indian casuist, and Indian philosophy lends itself to such subtle and poisonous doctrine. Gandhi’s message pierces beneath the message of the Vedanta to a deeper and not less ancient fountain of Indian wisdom. He claims to follow in the footsteps of Buddha and Christ, and in doing so he places himself in the succession of the Hindu bhaktas, those who, in however varying measure, recognize and reverence a moral order. He believes in God and duty, even as Mazzini did, and his central message affirms ‘the sovereign virtue of sacrifice without retaliation.’ Sometimes, with the fanaticism of a mediæval Christian monk or a modern evangelist, he preaches the supreme efficacy of ‘ blood.’ It is a word that seldom fails to touch deep and passionate chords in the human soul. One heart ablaze sets another on fire. ‘I know that people have sometimes gone mad,’ he said to the judge who tried him at Ahmedabad. And he went on; ‘You will have a glimpse of what is raging within my breast to run the maddest risk which a man can run.’
He knew that he was playing with fire; he took the risk. His business was to set India ablaze. That is why he is in jail to-day. The British judge who sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment said to him in doing so: —
Having regard to the nature of your political teachings and the nature of many of those to whom they were addressed, how you can have continued to believe that violence would not be an inevitable consequence, it passes my capacity to understand. There are few people in India who do not sincerely regret that you should have made it impossible for any Government to leave you at liberty. But it is so.
The prisoner in the dock urged no plea in extenuation of his crime. He was wholly submissive and wholly unrepentant. ‘I am here,’ he said, ‘to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.’
These exchanges are at least unusual between the magistrate’s bench and the prisoner’s dock. A parallel has been freely drawn between that scene and the scene before the judgment-seat of Pilate, between ‘the weaver of Sabarmati’ and the Carpenter of Nazareth. There is, perhaps, this at least of similarity, that both prisoners were looking beyond the immediate present to remoter consequences. Their eyes ‘ dream against a distant goal.’ Mr. Gandhi was deliberately and gladly laying himself upon the altar, in order that his people might be born again to what he believed would be a higher level of living. He would light a fire in India that should never be put out.
The actions of Mr. Gandhi were not, then, those of an aimless fanatic. They were all directed consistently to a single end — the creation of a new spirit of strength and self-respect in India. In one of his most outspoken articles in his paper, Young India, an article with the curious title ‘Shaking the Manes, he challenges, in behalf of India, the utmost that the ‘hard fibre’ of Britain can do to crush the awakening Indian spirit. The fight, he says, is to be a fight to a finish, but ‘I hope and pray,’ he goes on, ‘that God will give India sufficient humility and sufficient strength to remain nonviolent to the end.’ Every item in his programme has its place there as a means of making the people inwardly strong and selfrespecting, and is meant to create ‘a spirit that will neither bend nor break.’ He holds that the domination in India of ‘the most determined people in the world’ has had the effect of crushing the spirit of those under their control; and by being continually told that they are not fit to govern themselves they are being made unfit. He would awaken in them the conviction that they can achieve their own destiny, and that they can do so ‘without any further tutelage and without arms.’
Some who distrust the bona fides of this leader allege that he advocates nonviolence only because in the circumstances a programme of violence is doomed to failure; that he teaches this method as a policy, not as a dharma or matter of principle. That view is in direct contradiction to Mr. Gandhi’s whole message and to his repeated declarations. No one can doubt that he is sincere in his belief that the strength he labors to create in India, that by means of which he believes that she shall achieve her destiny, is an inward strength based upon purity and love.
These are lofty aspirations, and, unless we are prepared to call their promulgator in plain terms a hypocrite, we must grant him a place of his own among the revolutionaries. It is not strange that he has been compared with Christ, when we find him echoing, in an environment so inhospitable to such a message, some of the central thoughts of Christ. That he has caught the attention of so great a multitude, that, still more, he has won the hearts of so many among them, is an amazing fact, and, one is inclined to affirm, is something possible only in India. It is a poor business, and an unworthy, to belittle his achievement. Whatever deductions may have to be made as a result of more careful scrutiny, that achievement remains astounding. But now that an interval has been given for reflection, we are bound to ask how far Mahatma Gandhi has actually achieved an aim so high. Has he created a new spirit in India deep enough and sufficiently widespread among the people to make it possible to claim for him that he has opened the way to freedom ?
He himself believed that the period that has now come would be the time when his work would be tested. It is not possible indeed to claim for Mr. Gandhi that he has been consistent in his utterances; and his broken promises of swaraj, as they appeared to many of his followers, undoubtedly helped to create, as time passed, a temper of disillusionment. This disillusionment was due, no doubt, to a failure to realize that every promise was conditional. The majority gave heed to the fair hopes he held up before them, but lent a deaf ear to the harsh warnings that accompanied them. The time of purgation had to come, and it has come.
In his worthiest hours Mr. Gandhi distrusted his own popularity. He desired to conquer, not by force of the numbers of his nominal following, but by the power of conviction of those who understood. ’I have become literally sick,’ he said a few weeks before his arrest, ‘of the adoration of the unthinking multitude. I would feel certain of my ground if I was spat upon by them. ... I see that our nonviolence is skin-deep.’ He even suggested that his imprisonment might be a benefit to the people. It would show, he said, that he had not the supernatural powers that the superstitious credited him with; it would try the reality of the people’s faith in his programme and, at the same time, their ability to carry on their activities without his leadership; and, finally, it would give him ‘a quiet and physical rest, which,’ he added, and no one can dispute it, ‘perhaps I deserve.’
It is extraordinarily difficult, in a land so vast and varied as is India, to pronounce any confident judgment as to the prevailing mood of the people. In the Marathi region, for example, Mr. Gandhi’s influence has never been widespread or deep. They distinguish there, as those who are perhaps the most ‘realist’ race in India, between the saint in him and the politician. The former they reverence; the latter they have followed reluctantly, and with no faith in his programme. Now that his personal influence is withdrawn, they are making use of the opportunity to reinstate the policy of their own admired leader, Mr. Tilak.
Almost all the leaders who have arisen in the Marathi country have come from among the Chitpawan Brahmans, whose ‘hardheadedness’ and practical statesmanship have perhaps helped to encourage the fantastic theory that, gray-eyed as some of them are, they may trace their pedigree to Scandinavian ancestors and have their Oriental mysticism crossed with the colder calculation of the North. Certainly their idealism is in little danger of ‘leaving the earth to lose itself in the sky,’ as Mr. Gandhi’s may be said to do. Was not the programme for many a decade, even of their social reformers, the unheroic one of ‘progress along the line of least resistance’? They are accordingly taking the opportunity that is now granted them to disengage the political Gandhi from the saintly Gandhi, and to bring the Congress policy down to earth again.
There is certainly, not only in the Marathi country, but throughout the whole of India, a power working all the time against the ‘ Noncoöperation ’ policy, with its demand for sacrifice — the power of self-interest. The Mahatma makes great demands. Tilak, the worldly-wise, harnessed religion and politics side by side to the chariot of swaraj. But one who denounces untouchability and speaks so frequently of Christ — how can he, however much he protests himself a Hindu, escape the suspicion of the orthodox? He claims indeed to have ‘experimented’ by ‘introducing religion into politics’; and in making that claim, he pronounces judgment on the religion, with the elephant-headed Ganpati as its symbol, which Tilak at an earlier period summoned to his aid. Tilak’s experiment had introduced the outward emblems of Hinduism and the forces of orthodoxy and reaction into politics, but not the reality of religion. Mr. Gandhi sought to do so.
But here we touch, I think, the fatal defect of Mr. Gandhi’s entire political structure—‘the one weak place that’s stanchioned with a lie.’ The lie is not, indeed, the gross one that Mr. Tilak used. Mr. Gandhi is incapable of deliberate deceit; but he has been, one cannot but feel, self-deceived. He has adjusted his lofty teaching to mean political uses. He who should have been free to follow his own ideal, unimpeded, had, as Swami Vivekananda said of himself long ago, ‘become entangled.’ He goes far to acknowledge this himself. ‘If I seem to take part in politics,’ he says, ‘it is only because politics encircle us to-day like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out no matter how much one tries.’ It seems as if, as time goes on, the snake is wrapping its coils ever closer around him. Perhaps at the last the prison-cell presented itself to him in the aspect of a way of escape from an intolerable contradiction.
But if he was glad to escape from the temptations of expediency to the shelter of a jail, there are many who were still more glad to yield to these temptations. And now that he is no longer there, the saint, to rebuke them, they can yield the more easily and comfortably. Undoubtedly it is true of a large section of the population that the Mahatma’s level was too lofty for them. They had grown somewhat weary, and were glad to relax. The pull of the worldly spirit was against his success. He wound them up too high; and they are now well content to get back to earth and to get on once more with their money-making.
The financial debacle is another element in the situation which has told powerfully against him. Alany financial magnates are among the Mahatma’s most devoted followers. It was easy to follow him and to be generous in support of his schemes in the years of the war and after, when their wealth seemed to have no limits. But now the lean years have come and enthusiasm has chilled. Counsels of prudence are more likely to be heeded, and there is a certain soreness in the remembrance of great sums, now irrecoverable, given away at the gust of impulse and by the persuasions of this unpractical saint.
It is surely a tragedy when a government has to place its hopes upon the triumph of the grosser elements in the souls of the people whom it governs, when it has to desire eagerly that worldliness shall return and engulf them as in the past. If only Brahma will sink back again into his heavy slumber, the pralaya, the period of catastrophe, which threatens us will pass, and those in authority will be able to set the machinery of administration going again and ‘pathetic content ' will reign as heretofore. ’I fear,’ Mr. Gandhi says in one of his many writings, ‘we will have to admit that moneyed men support British rule; their interest is bound up with its stability.’
It is true, of course, that law and order are necessary for the pursuit of a man’s honest avocations and for the maintenance of what is called civilization. It is true, too, that idealism may be a dangerous dynamite in the hands of folly or of ignorance, or even of sancta simplicitas. At the same time, there is, surely, something wrong with a state when the only place for the idealist whom all, even the judge who condemns him, respect, is the prisoncell, and when the strength of the state lies, not in its people’s fear of God, but in their desire for gain. There is some justification in these circumstances for Mr. Gandhi’s view that civilization is a disease with which England is ‘afflicted.’ It is irreligion, and ‘makes bodily welfare the object of life.’ It is, alas, a disease that afflicts India too, whether it is to be pronounced indigenous or an importation from the West. Undoubtedly the downward pull of this ‘civilization,’ the desire to cease troubling for a while about swaraj and self-purification, and to resume the making of money, has been a more effective ally of the bureaucracy than all their skill and statesmanship.
These things have caused what is at least a temporary weakening of Mr. Gandhi’s amazing power. What is generally considered common sense will keep breaking in, and now its voice begins to be heeded. This is a quality that the Moderates possess in abundance. They are believers, like the rest of us, in civilization. They are not. carried off their feet and they do not carry others off their feet. They are able to do little, for they do not awaken passion; they do not touch the heart. Moderation makes a poor ‘ slogan ’ with the multitude. Its advocates bring no torch such as Mr. Gandhi carries, with which to kindle a prairie fire. He calls his method that of ahimsa, nonviolence, even love; but it can hardly be questioned that, when it passes from his lips to his hearers’ hearts, it is a flame still, but a flame now of hate. Hence the massacres of Malabar and Bombay and Chauri-Chaura. Is it simplicity or is it vanity that persuades him that, by waving his wand, he can tame this tiger? From ‘mobocracy’ he will evolve democracy by ‘a process of national purification, training, and sacrifice.’ Surely no leader such as this has ever before perplexed the minds of those who would understand him and estimate his influence; no leader who combined so much nobility and so much folly, such qualities fitted at once to exalt a people and to endanger the safety of the state.
It is a difficult, if not an impossible, task that Mr. Gandhi has set himself. He would be at once a stimulus and a restraint. He would awaken in his fellow countrymen simultaneously passion and self-control. In the former task he has had a success that is amazing; in the latter he has failed, and he is, I think, conscious that he has failed. It is a question now whether his half success will not prove presently an entire failure, and whether those so suddenly awakened are not even now sinking back again to slumber. He has created what is little better than a frenzy, as he calls it himself, which may burn itself out in a brief and destructive conflagration, and then be succeeded by a deeper desolation than before. He was dismayed himself once, when he stood in the streets of Bombay, by the battered victims of a ferocity he had done much to unleash. That again was followed by other warnings, even more hideous, that made him pause. ‘What if,’ he cries, ‘when the fury bursts, not a man, woman, or child is safe and every man’s hand is raised against his fellow being? Of what avail is it then if I fast myself to death in the event of such a catastrophe coming to pass?’
He had good reason for such misgivings. India has no lack of inflammable material in its wide, sun-scorched plains. Perhaps, after all, the cold prudence of the Government is a wiser guide on the road to swaraj. But who will believe it? There is no more sinister aspect of the situation than the deep, invincible distrust of the good faith of Great Britain and her representatives in India that possesses the leaders of the people. Moderate and extremist alike believe — and much in recent financial transactions gives them valid excuse for their belief — that shopkeeper England is out for loot in her relation to India. This widespread conviction has wrought disastrously upon the attitude of the thoughtful and articulate classes toward the foreign ruler. So long as this is so, what place can there be for that gratitude which some demand?
The ‘white man’s burden’ is the occasion only of a sneer. Whether with good cause or without, it yet is true today that India, who once in a measure reverenced England as her guru, her spiritual preceptor, now no longer does so. No one can ever deny that Great Britain has brought to India very great gifts. It is she that has shown to her the face of Liberty, and ‘terrible are the loves she has inspired.’ And yet we now see India, as represented by some of her noblest sons, averting her face from this foster-mother, at whose knee she has learned such lessons. We see her turning away, critical and suspicious, ‘ashes to the very soul.’ Distrust, deepening into ‘nonviolent’ hate on the one hand, and on the other a new ambition to live her own life, a new faith in herself, and an intoxicating dream of power — these make together a mood that is full of peril to the public peace.
These are some of the elements that blend to form the complex and baffling situation in which we find the Indian peoples at the present time. The ingredients are mingled in varying proportions in one section of the community and in another, in one province in the North and in another in the South. Dominant over the whole has been the personality of Mahatma Gandhi, broadcasting, like a central wireless telephone station, a message of extraordinary stimulus and quickening. Hope and agitation and disappointment have swept across the land in wave after wave. Wherever any spark of anger or discontent has been kindled, this wind that is abroad fans it to a dangerous flame. The brutal passion of a planter; the long-established custom of impressing labor for Government purposes on the Frontier; the privilege of the ‘poor white’ to have a third-class compartment reserved for him in the train — such matters as these are no longer ordinary matters of injustice or of crime; they become occasions for the clash of interracial warfare; they feed the fires of interracial hate.
It may be that the hopes that Mr. Gandhi kindled are fading, that the flames are dying down, and that the Imperial Fire Brigade has now got the situation ‘well in hand.’ But beneath the ashes of the dying conflagration there smoulder Tartarean fires, and no one can tell when they may break forth again. Certainly we may well fear that there will be further outbreaks of violence, bloodstained and full of peril to the state.
There have been warnings enough already that such events hover near and threatening. We have had some grim samples. There were, first, the horrors of Malabar in the South; then the horrors of Chauri-Chaura in the North. In both cases it is obvious that what might have been an insignificant outbreak of disorder was transformed by the atmosphere of the time into a hideous orgy of blood and violence. It is true that in both cases there was serious cause for discontent. India’s agrarian troubles are not new, and they will not soon or easily come to an end. But the oppression of the landlord becomes to his oppressed and ignorant tenant only one item more in the crimesheet of the ruler — one item more, which suddenly arouses him from sullenness to fierce and brutal acts.
Another centre that is being watched with considerable anxiety is the Punjab. Names from that province have come to be the rallying cries of hate. Amritsar and Jallianwalla Bagh are being used with the same skill and for the same purpose with which Antony held up Cæsar’s blood-stained mantle. ‘O piteous spectacle! O most bloody sight! Revenge! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay!' The reaction to such a stimulus is inevitable. And when it is in the land of the Sikhs that the stimulus is applied, the reaction is likely to be as violent as ever it was in the streets of Rome.
No wonder then that the movements of the Akalis are causing anxiety to the authorities. This is a fanatical sect of Sikhs, who are to their religion very much the same as the Ghazi is to that of the Mohammedans. They claim as a right of their sect to carry arms; and when zeal for their religion reinforces zeal for their country’s honor and the reawakening of old ambitions for dominance, there is danger enough that they will not only carry arms, but use them. How near sheer barbarism lies to the surface among these people was shown when a conflict of extraordinary ferocity took place within the courts of one of their temples between a company of Akalis and the armed retainers of the high priest of the temple. The story reveals at the same time how cunningly t he horrors of even this crime can be used to feed the fires of patriotic hate. For the lie was soon passing from bazaar to bazaar, that the massacre was wrought with the approval, or at least the tacit connivance, of the British administrators.
There are other lesser symptoms of unrest that one can note in every province. To-day it affects the coolie workers in Assam; to-morrow the employees of the East Indian Railway. It breaks out among the hillmen of the frontier; among the Bhils of a Rajputana state; among mill-workers in Madras. Industrial discontent, agrarian discontent, discontent with long-tolerated casteexclusiveness and pride — every wrong however ancient, now looms through the mist of ill-will with an aspect to exasperate and embitter that it never bore before. The non-Brahman refuses to coöperate with the Braham, and leaves the Brahman’s fields untilled, his clothes unwashed, and his beard unshaved. The Brahman, himself a noncoöperator with the Government, is hoist with his own petard, and quite unable to see the humor of the situation. Hate is a dangerous devil to unchain. No one can be sure that he will not turn round, like Porus’s infuriated elephants, upon the ranks of those who let him loose against their enemies. Perhaps this reflection also is occupying some minds during these days of truce.
But the root cause of India’s unhappiness, but for which the great multitude of her people would pay little heed to the incitements of the agitator, is her poverty. There is a ribald saying of the Anglo-Indians of an older generation that an Indian can live on the smell of an oil rag. He cannot, but sometimes he is almost compelled to try. It seems as if the land were becoming poorer and poorer, and the desert were encroaching slowly but steadily upon the sown. It is said that once upon a time Sind was a fruitful land. Wide tracts of the Deccan seem to be on the way to becoming what Sind to-day is. It is true that wide tracts of the desert have been won back to fertility by great systems of irrigation. But the area within which harvests are becoming more and more precarious is, it seems, extending steadily and continuously. That at least appears to be the experience within the last few years. The increase of prices may sometimes mean that the rich are becoming richer; it always means that the poor are becoming poorer.
By irrigation, by improved agricultural methods, this evil may be, and is being, palliated. But it remains a very formidable evil still. When the rains fail and the fields lie brown and empty, there is only one thing to do. Men and women and children — their cattle sold or dead — must strike the weary t rail for work. And so the city sucks them into its black depths. The last census of Bombay reveals the fact that only nineteen per cent of its million inhabitants are natives of the city. The great bulk of them have been blown there like dust or withered leaves by the hot winds that sweep across the plains.
One notable feature of our industrial organization [to quote Mr. A. C. Chatterjee, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Industries] is that the workers are practically all recruited from the ranks of agriculture. They travel long distances, in many cases hundreds of miles, to tracts where a different language, a different climate, and an entirely different environment confront them, in addition to the strangeness of unfamiliar, continuous, and sometimes dangerous work in closed buildings and areas.
These are circumstances which are not satisfactory from the point of view either of the master or of the worker. They create inefficiency and they create discontent; but, most of all, they create misery and disease and vice. The tale of industrialism, written in the West in smoke and squalor, is being repeated to-day in India, and the same pall that blackens our own land is being cast across the brilliance of her sunshine.
Already we can see, even in the jungles of the land, ‘the spreading of the hideous town.’ A black, steelsmelting city called Jamshedpur has arisen in the midst of the wide solitudes of Behar. In these iron factories and in the mills of Bombay and Calcutta and Madras work simple, ignorant peasant men and women, to whom the furnaces and the machines are strange demons to be appeased. They are as little adapted to live in their new surroundings as are their cows and their buffalos. Their children die; they become entangled in the net of the city’s iniquities; they are fortunate, indeed, if they can presently escape back to the lesser tragedy of a life — even if it be on only one meal a day — lived in the clean air of their native village. The love of their own ‘country,’ the region in which they were born and their fathers were born before them, is often inarticulate, but it is always deep in the peasantry of India.
No one needs to remind us that the devil does not have his lair only in the city’s streets. Mr. Gandhi seems to believe that there is something diabolic in machinery. ’It is machinery,’ he says, ‘that has impoverished India.’ That is, of course, pure fantasy and prejudice. He declares again, ‘Impoverished India can become free, but it will be hard for any India made rich through immorality to regain its freedom.’ There is at the same time an element of sorrowful truth in his denunciations. Mill-woven cotton is in danger, as he declares, of getting into the lungs of India, as of other lands as well. It is not the machine, but the materialism of which the machine is apt to be the symbol, that is the danger. The charka — the spinningwheel — that Mr. Gandhi has emblazoned on his flag may signify, just as much as any power-loom, a spirit that is materialized and worldly. What Mr. Gandhi really desires to teach is, as the Greek poet sings, that ‘the soul’s wealth is the only wealth.’ The Gujerati for civilization, he tells us, is ‘good conduct,’ and all men of goodwill must wish him well if he desires to translate into that language the materialism and the greed of so much that calls itself civilization.
It is really the enslavement of the soul that this man, when he understands himself aright and is truest to his central aim, desires to overthrow. That is the swaraj that he has set before himself, though he has often lost sight of the goal, and missed the straight path to it. Neither machinery, nor an English education, nor the ‘Satanic’ British Government, is the real enemy that hinders him and that hinders India from attaining this desire. It surely is disastrous folly to speak, as he has spoken, of ‘the hallucination of Schools and Colleges’; to declare, as he has declared, that ‘Tilak and Ram Mohan Roy would have been far greater men if they had not the contagion of English learning.’ The hindrances in the way of the attainment of that high swaraj are indeed many and formidable. Poverty is one, as we have seen; ignorance is another; ancient and deep-ingrained prejudice, dividing class from class as by impassable gulfs of contempt, is a third. The coöperation of every man of goodwill, of whatever race or creed, is needed if these tremendous barriers to freedom are to be overthrown. No one could have more fitly or effectively exercised to this end a ministry of reconciliation than Mahatma Gandhi. He lies in prison, as do many others who might have been his fellow workers in a task so noble. Noncoöperation has failed, and repression has failed and will fail. Force is no remedy. It is time, for India’s sake, that we all return to sanity and cooperate with one accord for the nation’s highest good.