Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

What after all was he aiming at in spite of the

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What, after all, was he aiming at ? In spite of the closest association with him for many years, I am not clear in my own mind about his objective. I doubt if he is clear himself. One step is enough for me, he says; and he does not try to peep into the future or to have a clearly conceived end before him. Look after the means, and the end will take care of itself, he is 313
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never tired of repeating. Be good in your personal individual lives, and all else will follow. That is not a political or scientific attitude, nor is it perhaps even an ethical attitude. It is narrowly moralist, and it begs the question: What is goodness? Is it merely an individual affair or a social affair? Gandhiji lays all stress on character and attaches little importance to intellectual training and development. Intellect without character is likely to be dangerous, but what is character without intel lect? How, indeed, does character develop? Gandhiji has been com pared to the medieval Christian saints, and much that he says seems to fit in with this. It does not fit in at all with modern psychological ex perience and method. But, however this may be, vagueness in an objective seems to me de plorable. Action to be effective must be directed to clearly conceived ends. Life is not all logic, and those ends will have to be varied from time to time to fit in with it, but some end must always be clearly envisaged. I imagine that Gandhiji is not so vague about the objective as he sometimes appears to be. He is passionately desirous of going in a cer tain direction, but this is wholly at variance with modern ideas and conditions, and he has so far been unable to fit the two, or to chalk out all the intermediate steps leading to his goal. Hence the appearance of vagueness and avoidance of clarity. But his general inclination has been clear enough for a quarter of a century, ever since he started for mulating his philosophy in South Africa. I do not know if those early writings still represent his views. I doubt if they do so in their entirety, but they do help us to understand the background of his thought. "India's salvation consists," he wrote in 1909, "in unlearning what she has learned during the last fifty years. The railways, telegraphs, hospitals, lawyers, doctors, and suchlike have all to go; and the so-called upper classes have to learn consciously, religiously, and delib erately the simple peasant life, knowing it to be a life giving true hap piness." And again: "Every time I get into a railway car or use a motor bus I know that I am doing violence to my sense of what is right"; "to attempt to reform the world by means of highly artificial and speedy locomotion is to attempt the impossible." All this seems to me utterly wrong and harmful doctrine, and im possible of achievement.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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