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 Gandhi’s Vision of a Stateless Society

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PostSubject: Gandhi’s Vision of a Stateless Society   Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:56 am



Gandhi was not just a strong proponent of national independence from British rule, but more specifically, he was interested in protecting the rights and the sovereignty of the individual. One of his most attributed quotes is “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”

Gandhi’s philosophy was deeply rooted in self ownership and the non aggression principle, and he actually had a “political” philosophy aligned with this, which was called called “Swaraj”.

According to wikipedia:

Swaraj can mean generally self-governance or “self-rule”, and was used synonymously with “home-rule” by Gandhi (Hindi: swa- “self”, raj “rule”) but the word usually refers to Gandhi’s concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralization. Since this is against the political and social systems followed by Britain, Gandhi’s concept of Swaraj laid stress on India discarding British political, economic, bureaucratic, legal, military, and educational institutions.

Although Gandhi’s aim of totally implementing the concepts of Swaraj in India was not achieved, the voluntary work organizations which he founded for this purpose did serve as precursors and role models for peoples movements, voluntary organisations and some of the non-governmental organisations that were subsequently launched in various parts of India.The Bhoodan movement which presaged land reform legislation activity throughout India, ultimately leading to India discarding the Zamindari system, was also inspired by the ideas of Swaraj.

The Wikipedia entry goes on to say that:

Swaraj warrants a stateless society; according to Gandhi, the overall impact of the state on the people is harmful. He called the state a “soulless machine” which, ultimately, does the greatest harm to mankind. The raison d’etre of the state is that it is an instrument of serving the people. But Gandhi feared that in the name of moulding the state into a suitable instrument of serving people, the state would abrogate the rights of the citizens and arrogate to itself the role of grand protector and demand abject acquiescence from them.

This would create a paradoxical situation where the citizens would be alienated from the state and at the same time enslaved to it which according to Gandhi was demoralising and dangerous.

If Gandhi’s close acquaintance with the working of the state apparatus in South Africa and in India strengthened his suspicion of a centralized, monolithic state, his intimate association with the Congress and its leaders confirmed his fears about the corrupting influence of political power and his skepticism about the efficacy of the party systems of power politics (due to which he resigned from the Congress on more than one occasion only to be persuaded back each time) and his study of the British parliamentary systems convinced him that representative democracy was incapable of meting out justice to people.

So he thought it necessary to evolve a mechanism to achieve the twin objectives of empowering the people and ‘empowering’ the state. It was for this that he developed the two pronged strategy of resistance (to the state) and reconstruction (through voluntary and participatory social action).

more here: http://intellihub.com/2013/04/02/gandhis-vision-of-a-stateless-society/

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