Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

And yet this nationalism itself was a composite force

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And yet this nationalism itself was a composite force, and behind it could be distinguished a Hindu nation alism, a Moslem nationalism partly looking beyond the frontiers of India, and, what was more in consonance with the spirit of the times, an Indian nationalism. For the time being they overlapped and all pulled together. It was Hindu-Muslaman fy jai everywhere. It was remarkable how Gandhiji seemed to cast a spell on all classes and groups of people and drew them into one motley crowd struggling in one direction. He became, indeed (to use a phrase which has been applied to another leader), "a symbolic expression of the confused desires of the people." 73
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Even more remarkable was the fact that these desires and passions were relatively free from hatred of the alien rulers against whom they were directed. Nationalism is essentially an anti-feeling, and it feeds and fattens on hatred and anger against other national groups, and especially against the foreign rulers of a subject country. There was certainly this hatred and anger in India in 1921 against the British, but, in comparison with other countries similarly situated, it was extraor dinarily little. Undoubtedly this was due to Gandhiji's insistence on the implications of nonviolence. It was also due to the feeling of re lease and power that came to the whole country with the inaugura tion of the movement and the widespread belief in success in the near future. Why be angry and full of hate when we were doing so well and were likely to win through soon ? We felt that we could afford to be generous. We were not so generous in our hearts, though our actions were circumspect and proper, toward the handful of our own countrymen who took sides against us and opposed the national movement. It was not a question of hatred or anger, for they carried no weight whatever and we could ignore them. But deep within us was contempt for their weakness and opportunism and betrayal of national honor and self- respect. So we went on, vaguely but intensely, the exhilaration of action hold ing us in its grip. But about our goal there was an entire absence of clear thinking. It seems surprising now, how completely we ignored the theoretical aspects, the philosophy of our movement as well as the definite objective that we should have. Of course we all grew eloquent about Swaraj, but each one of us probably interpreted the word in his or her own way. To most of the younger men it meant political inde pendence, or something like it, and a democratic form of government, and we said so in our public utterances. Many of us also thought that inevitably this would result in a lessening of the burdens that crushed the workers and the peasantry. But it was obvious that to most of our leaders Swaraj meant something much less than independence.
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