Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

Indeed i have i myself belong to a class which mixes

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Indeed I have. I myself belong to a class which mixes with these lords of the land and owners of wealth. I am a typical bourgeois, brought up in bourgeois surroundings, with all the early prejudices that this training has given me. Communists have called me a petty bourgeois with perfect justification. Perhaps they might label me now one of the "repentant bourgeoisie." But whatever I may be is beside the point. It is absurd to consider national, international, eco nomic, and social problems in terms of isolated individuals. Those very friends who question me are never tired of repeating that our quarrel is with the sin and not the sinner. I would not even go so far. I would say that my quarrel is with a system and not with individuals. A system is certainly embodied to a great extent in individuals and groups, and these individuals and groups have to be converted or com bated. But, if a system has ceased to be of value and is a drag, it has to go, and the classes or groups that cling to it will also have to un dergo a transformation. That process of change should involve as little suffering as possible, but unhappily suffering and dislocation are inevi table. We cannot put up with a major evil for fear of a far lesser one, which in any event is beyond our power to remedy. Every type of human association political, social, or economic has some philosophy at the back of it. When these associations change, this 323
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philosophical foundation must also change in order to fit in with it and to utilize it to the best advantage. Usually the philosophy lags be hind the course of events, and this lag creates all the trouble. Democ racy and capitalism grew up together in the nineteenth century, but they were not mutually compatible. There was a basic contradiction between them, for democracy laid stress on the power of the many, while capitalism gave real power to the few. This ill-assorted pair car ried on somehow because political parliamentary democracy was in itself a very limited kind of democracy and did not interfere much with the growth of monopoly and power concentration. Even so, as the spirit of democracy grew, a divorce became inevitable, and the time for that has come now. Parliamentary democracy is in disrepute today, and as a reaction from it all manner of new slogans fill the air. Because of this, the British Government in India becomes more reactionary still and makes it an excuse for withholding from us even the outer forms of political freedom. The Indian princes, strangely enough, make this a justification for their unchecked autocracy and stoutly declare their intention of maintaining medieval conditions in their domains such as exist nowhere else in the world. But the failure of parliamentary democracy is not that it has gone too far, but that it has not gone far enough. It was not democratic enough because it did not provide for economic democracy, and its methods were slow and cumbrous and unsuited to a period of rapid change.
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