Skip to content

The Inner Voice

April 27, 2011

Pankaj Mishra in The New Yorker:

Mohandas Gandhi was the twentieth century’s most famous advocate of nonviolent politics. But was he also its most spectacular political failure? The possibility is usually overshadowed by his immense and immensely elastic appeal. Even Glenn Beck recently claimed to be a follower, and Gandhi’s example has inspired many globally revered figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Aung San Suu Kyi. Gandhi, rather than Mark Zuckerberg, may have been the presiding deity of the Arab Spring, his techniques of resistance—nonviolent mass demonstrations orchestrated in the full glare of the world’s media—fully absorbed by the demonstrators who prayed unflinchingly on Kasr al-Nil, in Cairo, as they were assaulted by Hosni Mubarak’s water cannons.

And yet the Indian leader failed to achieve his most important aims, and was widely disliked and resented during his lifetime. Gandhi was a “man of many causes,” Joseph Lelyveld writes in “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India.” He wanted freedom not only from imperial rule but also from modern industrial society, whose ways Western imperialists had spread to the remotest corners of the globe. But he was “ultimately forced, like Lear, to see the limits of his ambition to remake his world.” [More]

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s