Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule or How to civilize barbarians of any race, creed and color. MK Gandhi and the struggle for Independence from the British Raj.

In the dialogue that follows, Gandhi outlines four themes that structure his arguments

Gandhi argues that ‘Home Rule is Self Rule.’ He argues that it is not enough for the British to leave only for Indians to adopt a British-styled society. As he puts it, some “want English rule without the Englishman … that is to say, [they] would make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englishtan. This is not the Swaraj I want.”

Gandhi also argues that Indian independence (Swaraj) is only possible through passive resistance. In fact, more than denouncing violence, Gandhi argues that it is counter-productive; instead, he believes, “The force of love and pity is infinitely greater than the force of arms. There is harm in the exercise of brute force, never in that of pity.”

To apply passive resistance, Gandhi reasons that Swadeshi (self-reliance) be exercised by Indians, meaning the refusal of all trade and dealings with the British. He addresses the English when he states, “If you do not concede our demand, we shall be no longer your petitioners. You can govern us only so long as we remain the governed; we shall no longer have any dealings with you.” Gandhi makes an intriguing argument here: if the British want India for trade, remove trade from the equation.

Finally, Gandhi argues that India will never be free unless it rejects Western civilization itself. In the text he is deeply critical of Western civilization, claiming, “India is being ground down, not under the English heel, but under that of modern civilization.” He speaks about civilization not just in relation to India. He argues that “Western civilization is such that one has only to be patient and it will be self destroyed.” It is a profound analysis that begs the question who rules over a people that no longer has any faith in the institution of government managed by a barbaric elite?

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