Continuing from here. (Word document here)
Chapter (or Lecture) 1: Our Direction
I am asked to present my thoughts on the subject of “Integral Humanism” in a series of talks beginning this evening. Last January at Vijayavada, Bharatiya Jana Sangh adopted the statement of “Principles & Policies” in which ‘Integral Humanism’ has also been accepted. There has been scattered discussions here and there on the subject. It is necessary that we consider Integral Humanism in all its aspects. So long as the country was under the yoke of the British rule, all the movements and policies in the country had one principal ‘aim to drive out the foreign rulers and to achieve independence’. But what would be the face of the new Bharat after independence? In which direction were we to advance? These questions were precisely thought out. It would not be correct to say that no thought was devoted to these aspects. There were people who even at that time had considered these questions. Gandhiji himself had set out his idea of the independent Bharat in his book “Hind Swaraj”. Prior to this Lokmanya Tilak discussed the philosophical basis of the rejuvenation of Bharat in his book ‘Gita Rahasya’. He gave a comparative discussion of various schools of thought current all over the world at that time.
Apart from these, the Congress and other political parties adopted various resolutions from time to time which contain references to this subject. However the subject requires much more serious study than was devoted to it at that time. It did not attract serious attention at that time because every one believed it was more important to think of ways to drive out the British and the other things could be discussed later on. It did not seem right to waste time in internal discussions while the foreign rule continued. Hence even if there might have been difference in views, they were shelved for the time being.
As a result, even those who held the view that socialism should be the basis of the future Bharat, worked inside the Congress as a socialist group. They did not attempt to form as a separate party as such.
The revolutionaries too, were working independence in their own way. All were agreed, however, that the foremost task was to gain independence.
Having attained Independence, the question naturally ought to have occurred to us, “Now that we were independent, what shall be the direction of our progress?”. But it is amazing that serious thought has not been given to this question and today even after seventeen years of independence we cannot say that a definite direction been decided upon.
From time to time, Congressmen. or others have declared Welfare State, Socialism, Liberalism etc. as their aims. Slogans have been raised. But this ideology slogans attached little significance to the philosophies, apart from the slogans. I am saying this on the basis of personal discussions. A leading gentleman once suggested during a conversation that a joint front should be for against Congress, whereby a good fight can be given. Now a days political parties adopt this strategy. So, it was surprising to put forward this suggestion. However, naturally, I asked, “What programme shall we adopt? If such a joint front is formed some idea of the programme essential. What will be out economic policy? What will our foreign policy? These questions should also be broadly tackled.”
“Do not worry about it. Whatever you like you can adopt. We are ready to support, anything from extreme Marxist to downright capitalist program.” The reply came as if this was natural. He had no difficulty in adopting any programme. The only object was somehow Congress should be defeated. Even now some declare that Congress must be defeated even with the cooperation of communists and all the rest.
Recently elections were held in Kerala. During the elections, Communists, Muslim League, Swatantra Party, S.S.P. Rebel Congress known as Kerala Congress, Revolutionary Socialist Party etc. entered into a variety of bilateral of multiple alliances. As. a result, it was difficult to imagine that any of these parties had a definite ideology, principles and aims. This is the situation as far as principles are concerned.
Congress too, is in a similar state. Even though the Congress has proclaimed democratic socialism as its goal, the behavior of various Congress leaders shows one thing clearly that there are no definite principles, no single direction in Congress. There are staunch communists in Congress fold. There are also those who have faith in Capitalism and oppose communism to the teeth. All brands of people are arrayed on Congress platform. If there can be a magic box which contains a cobra and a mangoose living together, it is Congress.
We must ponder whether we can progress under such conditions. If we stop to analyze the reasons for the problems facing the country we will find that the confusion about our goal and the direction is mainly responsible for the chaos. I realize that all the 450 million people of Bharat cannot agree on all or even on a single question. That is not possible in any country. Yet there is generally, what is called a more or less common desire of the people of any nation. If this popular longing is made the basis of our aims, the common man feels that the nation is moving in a proper direction, and that his own aspiration is reflected in the efforts of the nation. This also generates the greatest possible feeling of unity. The truth of the statement is borne out by the response of the people during the Chinese Invasion of October/November 1962. A wave of enthusiasm swept across the country. Action and sacrifice, both obtained in abundance. There was no barrier between the government and the public or between various political parties. How did this happen? The external threat made us recognize ourselves. The government adopted that policy which reflected the widespread feeling in the people and which enhanced their sense of self-respect with a call for sacrifice. The result was, we stood united.
The Root of Our Problems-Neglect of Self
It is essential that we think about our national identity. Without this identity there is no meaning of independence, nor can independence become the instrument of progress and happiness. As long as we are unaware of out national identity, we cannot recognize and develop all our potentialities. Under alien rule this identity is suppressed. That is why nations wish to remain independent so that they can progress according to their natural bent and can experience happiness in their endeavor. Nature is powerful. An attempt to go against nature or to disregard her leads to troubles. The natural instincts cannot be disregarded but it is possible to elevate this nature to the level of culture. Psychology informs us how by suppression of various natural instincts different mental disorders ensue. Such a person remains restless and dejected. His abilities slowly deteriorate and become perverted. The Nation too like the individual becomes a prey to numerous ills when its natural instincts are disregarded. The basic cause of the problems facing Bharat is the neglect of its national identity.
Opportunism Has Shaken The Confidence Of People in Politics
A majority of those who lead the nation today as well as those who take active interest in the affairs of the country are not sufficiently aware of this root cause. Consequently opportunists with no principles reign in politics of our country. Parties and politicians have neither principles nor aims nor a standard code of conduct. A person feels nothing wrong in leaving one party and Joining another. Even alliances and mergers of parties or their bifurcations are dictated not by agreement or by differences in principles purely by gains in elections or in positions of power. In 1939 Shri Hafiz Mohammed Ibrahim was elected on a Muslim League ticket. Later when he joined Congress, in accordance with healthy principles of public conduct he resigned and sought re-election on Congress ticket and was once again elected. In 1948 when socialists left Congress and founded Socialist Party, all those who were members of legislature resigned and fought elections on socialist tickets. But thereafter this healthy tradition was forgotten. Now there is complete license in politics. As result, in public mind there is distrust for every one. There is hardly any reason whose Integrity is beyond doubt in the public mind. This situation must be changed. Otherwise, unity and discipline cannot be established in the society.
What Should Be Our Direction?
The nation is at crossroads. Some people suggest that we must start from where we have left off one thousand years ago, when foreign invaders disrupted our life. But nation is not an inanimate object like a cloth so that weaving can be taken up after a gap in time. Besides it would not be rational to say that the thousand year old alien rule has interrupted the current of our national life so completely that from that time to this day we remained stationary and inactive. The nation has certainly put her genius to work, in the changing circumstances to meet the challenges thrown at her. We have struggled to continue our life forward and to wrest independence from the aliens. The current of our national life was not interrupted but has gone on ceaselessly. The task of turning the waters of Ganga back to some previous point would not be wise. Ganga at Banaras may not be crystal clear as at Haridwar. But still it is the same holy Ganga. It has absorbed numerous rivulets with all their refuse. However, these have no separate existence but have become Ganga. The current Ganga must inevitably glow onwards. If this was all that happened it would still not be a big problem. But there are other nations in the world. They have made phenomenal progress in the past one thousand years. Our entire attention was engaged in fighting for independence or staving off new hordes of invaders. We have not been able to contribute to world progress. Now when we are free, is it not paramount that we fill this deficiency at the earliest and stand shoulder to shoulder with other advanced nations of the world?
Ill-effects of the British rule
Up to this point there is no room for difference of opinion. The difficulty arises when we fail to discern the reasons of the spectacular advance of the West, its effects, real and apparent. This is further complicated by the fact that Britishers, representatives of the West, ruled this country for a century and, during this period adopted such measures whereby in the minds of our people a contempt for things Bharatiya and respect for everything Western were subtly created. Along with scientific advance, their way of life, manners and food habits etc. came to this country. Not only material sciences but also their social, economic and political doctrines became our standards. Today the educated in this country clearly display this effect. We shall have to decide whether this effect is good or bad for us. We had taken pride in resisting things British while they ruled us, but strangely enough, now that the Britishers have left, westernisation has become synonymous with progress. It is true that a narrow sense of nationalism should not be allowed to obstruct the progress of the nation. However western science and the western way of life are two different things. Whereas western science is universal and must be absorbed by us if we wish to go forward, the same is not true about the western way of life and values. In fact thoughtless imitation of the West must be scrupulously discarded. There are those who consider economic and political doctrines of the West as epitome of progress and desire to transplant the same in our country. Therefore when we are trying to decide where we wish to take our country and how, we must also take into consideration the basis of various economic and political doctrines of the west and their present position.
The Rise Of European Nations
Among various Isms that affected the West, the principal ones are Nationalism, Democracy and Socialism. At the same time there have been some who cherish world unity and world peace and have made some efforts in that direction.
Among these, nationalism is the oldest and the strongest. After the fall of the Roman Empire and decline in the influence of the Catholic Church, Europe witnessed rise of several nations. History of Europe in the past thousand years is the history of the rise of and conflict among various nations. These nations extended their empires beyond the European continent and subjugate other independent countries. Nationalism brought nation and state together resulting in nation states. At the same time the decline in the influence of the Roman Catholic Church gave rise either to national churches or to complete disappearance of religious influence on politics. Anyway the concept of secular state arose out of this situation.
Birth Of Democracy In Europe
A revolutionary concept which made a deep impact on the political life of Europe is Democracy. In the beginning, every nation had a king as its head but there was gradual awakening in the minds of people against the autocracy of the royalty. The industrial revolution and the international trade resulted in the rise of a business community in all nations. Naturally there ensued a conflict between these new centres of power and the established kings and feudal lords. This conflict, adopted ‘democracy’ as its philosophical basis. The origin of democracy was sought in the Greek city republics. The common man was attracted by the lofty ideals of equality, fraternity and liberty of every citizen. France witnessed a bloody revolution. In England too, there were periodic movements. The idea of democracy gained foothold in the mind of common man. The royalty was either liquidated or their powers were drastically curbed and constitutional governments were established. Today democracy has been already accepted in Europe. Even those who have suppressed democracy do not denounce it. The dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin too paid lipservice to democracy.
Individual Was Exploited
Every individual got a vote in the democratic setup. But real power stayed with those who had led the revolution. Industrial revolution had generated faith in the new methods of production. Instead of working in the freedom of home, workers had started working in the factories taking orders from the factory owners, The worker migrated from his home town to dwell in crowded cities. There was no provision of proper housing. There were hardly any rules in the factory to protect the worker. He was economically weak and not yet organized. He became a victim of exploitation, injustice and harassment. Those in whom political power was vested were members of the same group who exploited the workers. Hence there was no hope of redress from the state.
A number of persons led movements in protest against this injustice with the desire to improve the lot of workers. They called themselves socialists. Karl Marx was one of them. In an effort to lead the movement against this injustice, he studied the entire history and structure and presented his analysis of the situation. He claimed to have given a scientific basis to his theories. All subsequent socialists might not have agreed with Marx but they were all considerably influenced by his ideas.
Dictatorship Of The Proletariat
According to Marx’s analysis-dialectic materialism, the root cause of exploitation, lies in the private ownership of the means of production. If these means are made the property of the society (for the Marxist, the Society synonymous with the State) then there will be no further exploitation. But before this, the state should be redeemed from the hands of the exploiters and ensured against their influence in future. Towards this end, dictatorship of proletariat must be established. In order that people tolerate this dictatorship, it was held as an ideal that when the exploiter class has been finally liquidated, and possibility of its resurgence exists, the state will replaced by a classless, stateless society. Marx also attempted to show that capitalism contains seeds of own destruction and that socialism is inevitable.
Three contradictory ideals
In some countries of Europe there was social revolution. Even where, socialism was not accepted, politicians had to accept the rights of workers. “Welfare State” was accepted as an ideal. Nationalism, democracy, socialism or equality (equality is there at the root of socialism; equality is different from equability), these three doctrines have dominated European social political thinking. Every now and then apart from these, ideals of world peace and world unity also cropped up. All these are good ideas. They reflect the higher aspirations of mankind. But by itself each of these doctrines is incomplete. Not only that, each stands opposed to the rest in practice. Nationalism poses a threat to world peace. Democracy and capitalism join hands to give a free reign to exploitation. Socialism replaced capitalism and brought with it an opposition to democracy and individual freedom. Hence the West is presently faced with the task of reconciling these good ideals. They have not succeeded to this day, in this task. They have tried combinations and permutations, by emphasis on one or the other ideal. England emphasized nationalism and democracy and developed her politico-social institutions along those lines, whereas France could not adopt the same. There, democracy resulted in political instability. The British Labor party wanted to reconcile socialism with democracy but people have raised doubts whether democracy will survive if socialism gains strength. Hence the labor party no longer supports socialism so strongly as the Marxist doctrines advocate. If socialism has been diluted considerably, Hitler and Mussolini adopted nationalism cum socialism and buried democracy. In the end socialism also became a tool for their nationalism which posed a great threat to world peace and unity. We may indeed seek some guidance from the western world but the fact is, it has no concrete suggestions to offer. It is itself at crossroads unable to decide what is good. Under such circumstances we cannot expect guidance from the West. On the contrary we must consider whether in this present state of the world, we can contribute something to resolve its dilemma. Having taken note of the progress of the world, can we add to the common store of Knowledge? As a member of the world community, we must discharge our responsibilities. If we possess some thing that may prove helpful to world progress we should not hesitate in imparting it to the world. In this era of adulteration, instead of adulterating ideas we must on the contrary scrutinize and improve upon them wherever possible before accepting them. Rather than being a burden on the world, we must attempt to resolve if possible the problems facing the world.
We must also consider what contribution our tradition and civilization make to the world culture. We shall consider this tomorrow evening.
22 April, 1965
If you found this post useful, then consider subscribing to my blog by email: