How did Gandhi do it ?

I was very angry at Obama yesterday, I am still angry at him today; but somewhat less so.  And so today, I can think at other parallels in history.  There have been other situations where a militant movement for social justice has had to coexist with a peaceful one.  There have been other situations where a militant movement for social justice has evolved into a peaceful one.  Two famous examples of this are India and South Africa.  

Let me use India ~ the example is better documented, and South Africa is much more recent.  The example can best be told by the story of two men: Gandhi and Bose.

I am sure you all know who Gandhi is.  The nerds amongst you may assume that Bose refers to a certain JC Bose, who was a scientist/engineer of remarkable accomplishment.  Some of you may think that the Bose refers to the speakers in your living room.  However, the Bose in this instance refers to a firebrand leader named Subhash Chandra Bose.  Bose and Gandhi overlapped and paralled each other much like Obama and Rev. Wright have. ndra_Bose

Bose was a leader in the Indian National Congress ~ this is the party that Gandhi had joined.  For a long time, Bose was more popular than Gandhi, even within the Congress.  And his suggested path (that of militancy) was favored by most Congressmen over that of Gandhi's peaceful non-cooperation.  Bose was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1938, despite strong opposition from Gandhi's faction.  It was only later that year that Gandhi managed to get the upper hand, and Bose ended up leaving the Congress party.

History is witness that Gandhi went on to lead a peaceful non-cooperation movement against the British; ultimately resulting in Indian Independence in 1947.  Bose allied first with the Germans, and then with the Japanese.  He raised the "Indian National Army" from Indian POWs captured by the Japanese, and managed to capture small portions of British India before the tide of WW II turned against Japan and Germany.  Bose perished on a flight while enroute from Burma to Japan in 1944.

History is witness that Gandhi's method worked, and Bose's didn't  .  Historians argue whether Gandhi would have succeeded without Bose, but I leave that question aside.

The important point to remember is that all though this process, the two men (Gandhi and Bose) respected each other; even though the paths they had chosen were radically different.  They never repudiated one another, and never doubted each other's patriotism.  This process was fairly painful for Gandhi initially ~ Bose and his compadres were branded as "terrorists" by the British, and Gandhi was often accused of not doing enough to help them as the British prosecuted some of them for various acts of terrorism.

This story resembles the Obama/Rev. Wright fracas.  I do not doubt that Rev. Wright is representing a community that has genuine grievances.  The methods he advocates is ruinous to his cause, however ~ as Gandhi would have pointed out.  Obama's approach of unity, hope and inclusiveness is much more in the Gandhian mold.  And I admire Obama for that (even though I am not going to support him this cycle).

There is one difference, however:  Gandhi never ignored what Bose was saying.  He actively fought and campaigned against the militant approach favored by Bose, even when Bose's approach was favored by large majorities, and even when Gandhi's opposition was politically expensive.

That is where Obama failed!

Tags: Gandhi, obama (all tags)



Re: How did Gandhi do it ?

In light of this well-written diary, would you consider to draw a parallel to the stances of Senators Clinton and Obama on engaging some of our enemies in direct negotiations? And given the more obvious Obama v. Clinton in regards to two different approaches, did Obama's sticktoitedness cause you to believe that here, too, he failed?

by lizardbox 2008-03-15 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: How did Gandhi do it ?

Thank you for the complement!

Obama has a long way to go before he can be accurately compared to Gandhi.  If that comparison was even mildly applicable, I would have been supporting him all along.  

You mentioned engaging with your enemies.  This is one of Obama's catchiest lines.  Unfortunately, is is also easily proven to be a phony.

Let me quote from his website:

" Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions."  

Sounds good so far, but what does he mean by this ?

" Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress."

When he says "negotations without preconditions", he really means coercion, and his policy is identical to current US policy (officially called containment).

by SevenStrings 2008-03-15 02:31PM | 0 recs

about the WTO piece! I want BOTH of these candidates to either work HARD to change these "free" trade orgs for the better.. for the people or KILL these damned "free" trade orgs!

by kevin22262 2008-03-15 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: And...

Did you post this here by mistake ?

by SevenStrings 2008-03-15 05:51PM | 0 recs
I am completely ignorant of Wright's methods

What "militant" actions has he been telling his congregation to take?

The dirty secret is that what this guy has said - whether it's about 9/11 or American history - does not reside too far outside of the mainstream at many universities in this country.

by highgrade 2008-03-15 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: I am completely ignorant of Wright's methods

I can assure you that my personal experience of several universities in the US would put the "mainstream at many universities" outside of the norm suggested by Rev. Wright's comments.

But then, that was just my experience.

I admit that Rev. Wright has not used any words that I know of that amounts to a direct call to action.  However, when you use lines like US KKK of A etc., the call to fight back with militancy is implicit... or the next logical step.  It is sort of like yelling fire in a crowded theater.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-15 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: How did Gandhi do it ?

You know, Ghandi himself observed that his particular tactics would likely only work against the British - he felt that many other cultures would be too casually violent for peaceful success.  

So, it's also know what weapon to bring to the battle.

by Little Otter 2008-03-15 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: How did Gandhi do it ?

I think you are wrong (or at least, incomplete) in your comment.

Gandhi was quite adamant that his methods would have worked even against Hitler (he was kept in a prison during WWII, so we never got to know..)  Gandhi often said that his methods would work against any oppressor.

It is also true that in the last days of his life, Gandhi had lost faith in his own methods, and considered himself to be an abject failure. It is then that he once remarked that he was surprised at anything that they had achieved.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-15 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: How did Gandhi do it ?

the indian pakistan infighting really broke his heart.

by theninjagoddess 2008-03-15 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: How did Gandhi do it ?


by SevenStrings 2008-03-15 03:42PM | 0 recs
Pastor Wright is no Subhash Chandra Bose

This comparison is ridiculous. Bose was fighting for India's independence against the British. Pastor Wright is a preacher living a good life and sprewing hatred against US and White Americans. How can you compare them

Gandhiji was a person who never wanted to be the limelight and did not want to be in power. BHO is no Gandhiji - is all I can say and can never be compared to the Great Man

BHO has said his Judgement matters. Judgment" is the wrong word here, because the entire Wright liaison is proof positive of terrible judgment. And the problem is not judging Sen. Obama "on the basis of what someone else said", but on the basis of his own generous subsidies to someone who spewed forth not mere speech, but hate speech.

by indus 2008-03-15 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Pastor Wright is no Subhash Chandra Bose

I agree that Obama cannot possibly be compared to Gandhi...I said so earlier in one of the comments.

I also agree that Rev. Wright also cannot be compared to Bose.  Bose never indulged in hate speech, etc.

I was comparing situations ~ how a militant movement is transformed into a peaceful one.  My intent was not to equate Gandhi with Obama and Bose with Wright.

I apologize if I hurt your feeling.

by SevenStrings 2008-03-15 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Pastor Wright is no Subhash Chandra Bose

Its fine - you have not hurt my feelings.

Bose was a patriot and was disillusioned with the fact that Gandhiji and the Indian national congress was cooperating with the British. Gandhiji was using the peace movement so as to make the British leave India and it was taking time which Bose did not like. He wanted to kick British out by the power of the Gun and Sword which Gandhiji was against. Indians still rever Gandhiji and Bose.

Something which I learned in reading Indian history

by indus 2008-03-15 10:13PM | 0 recs


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