Tag: <span>Commonwealth</span>

Garry Davis Portraits of World Citizens.

Garry Davis: “And Now the People Have The Floor”.

Featured Image: Garry Davis by Wim van Rossem for Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Garry Davis; who died 24 July 2013, in Burlington, Vermont; was often called “World Citizen N°1”. The title was not strictly exact as the organized world citizen movement began in England in 1937 by Hugh J. Shonfield and his Commonwealth of World Citizens; followed in 1938 by the creation jointly in the USA and England of the World Citizen Association. However; it was Garry Davis in Paris in 1948-1949 who reached a wide public and popularized the term “world citizen”.

The First Wave.

Garry Davis was the start of what I call “the second wave of world citizen action”.  The first wave was in 1937-1940 as an effort to counter the narrow nationalism represented by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan. This first world citizen wave of action did not prevent the Second World War; but it did highlight the need for a wider cosmopolitan vision.  Henri Bonnet; of the League of Nations’ Committee for Intellectual Co-operation; and founder of the US branch of the World Citizen Association; became an intellectual leader of the Free French Movement of De Gaulle in London; during the War.  Bonnet was a leader in the founding of UNESCO — the reason it is located in Paris — and UNESCO’s emphasis on understanding among cultures.

League of Nations

Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

The Second Wave.

The Second Wave of world citizen action in which Garry Davis was a key figure lasted from 1948 to 1950 — until the start of the war in Korea and the visible start of the Cold War; although, in reality, the Cold War began in 1945 when it became obvious that Germany and Japan would be defeated.  The victorious Great Powers began moving to solidify their positions.  The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. During the 1950-1991 period; most world citizen activity was devoted to preventing a war between the USA and the USSR, working largely within other arms control/disarmament associations and not under a “world citizen flag.”

The Third Wave.

The Third Wave of world citizen action began in 1991 with the end of the Cold War and the rise again of narrow nationalist movements; as seen in the break up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.  The Association of World Citizens with its emphasis on conflict resolution, human rights, ecologically-sound development, and understanding among cultures is the moving force of this Third Wave.

The two-year Second Wave was an effort to prevent the Cold War which might have become a hot World War Three.  In 1948; the Communist Party took over Czechoslovakia; in what the West called a “coup”; more accurately a cynical manipulation of politics.  The coup was the first example of a post-1945 change in the East-West balance of power; and started speculation on other possible changes as in French Indochina or in 1950 in Korea.  1948 was also the year that the UN General Assembly was meeting in Paris.

The United Nations did not yet have a permanent headquarters in New York; so the General Assembly first met in London and later in Paris.  All eyes; especially those of the media, were fixed on the UN.  No one was sure what the UN would become; if it would be able to settle the growing political challenges or “go the way of the League of Nations”.

Un General Asembly

Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?.

“Song and Dance” Actor.

Garry Davis, born in 1921; was a young Broadway actor in New York prior to the entry of the US in the World War in 1941. Garry Davis was a son of Meyer Davis; a well-known popular band leader who often performed at society balls and was well known in the New York-based entertainment world.  Thus it was fairly natural that his son would enter the entertainment world, as a “song and dance” actor in the musical comedies of those days. Garry had studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology; a leading technology institution.

When the US entered the war; Garry joined the Army Air Force and became a bomber pilot of the B-17, stationed in England with a mission to bomb targets in Germany.  Garry’s brother had been killed in the Allied invasion of Italy; and there was an aspect of revenge in bombing German military targets until he was ordered to bomb German cities in which there were civilians.

The Creation of a World Federation with powers to prevent War.

At the end of the War and back as an actor in New York; he felt a personal responsibility toward helping to create a peaceful world and became active with world federalists; who were proposing the creation of a world federation with powers to prevent war; largely based on the US experience of moving from a highly decentralized government under the Articles of Confederation, to the more centralized Federal Government structured by the Constitution.

At the time, Garry had read a popular book among federalists; The Anatomy of Peace by the Hungarian-born Emery Reves.  Reves had written:

“We must clarify principles and arrive at axiomatic definitions as to what causes war and what creates peace in human society.” If war was caused by a state-centric nationalism as Reves, who had observed closely the League of Nations, claimed, then peace requires a move away from nationalism. As Garry wrote in his autobiography My Country is the World (1) “In order to become a citizen of the entire world, to declare my prime allegiance to mankind, I would first have to renounce my United States nationality. I would secede from the old and declare the new”.

United World Citizen International Identity Card.

In May 1948, knowing that the UN General Assembly was to meet in Paris in September; and earlier the founding meeting of the international world federalists was to be held in Luxembourg, he went to Paris. There he renounced his US citizenship and gave in his passport.  However; he had no other identity credentials in a Europe where the police can stop you and demand that you provide identity papers. So he had printed a “United World Citizen International Identity Card” though the French authorities listed him as “Apatride d’origine americaine”. Paris after the War was filled with “apatride”; but there was probably no other “d’origine americaine”

Giving up US citizenship and a passport which many of the refugees in Paris would have wanted at any price was widely reported in the press and brought him many visitors.  Among the visitors was Robert Sarrazac who had been active in the French resistance and shared the same view of the destructive nature of narrow nationalism; and the need to develop a world citizen ideology.  Garry was also joined by the young Guy Marchand; who would later play an important role in structuring the world citizen movement.

Guy Marchand

Guy Marchand By Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

World Citizenship.

As the French police was not happy with people with no valid identity papers wondering around; Garry Davis moved to the large modern Palais de Chaillot  with its terraces which had become “world territory” for the duration of the UN General Assembly. He set up a tent and waited to see what the UN would do to promote world citizenship.  In the meantime; Robert Sarrazac who had many contacts from his resistance activities set up a “Conseil de Solidarite” formed of people admired for their independence of thought, not linked to a particular political party.

The Conseil was led by Albert Camus, novelist and writer for newspapers, Andre Breton, the Surrealist poet, l’Abbé Pierre and Emmanuel Mounier, editor of Esprit, both Catholics of highly independent spirits as well as Henri Roser, a Protestant minister and secretary for French-speaking countries of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Albert Camus

Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner. By Photograph by United Press International, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Albert Camus: Stoic Humanist and World Citizen.

An Interruption.

Davis and his advisors felt that world citizenship should not be left outside the General Assembly hall but had to be presented inside as a challenge to the ordinary way of doing things, “an interruption”. Thus, it was planned that Garry Davis from the visitors balcony would interrupt the UN proceedings to read a short text; Robert Sarrazac had the same speech in French, and Albert Crespey, son of a chief from Togo had his talk written out in his Togolese language.

In the break after a long Yugoslav intervention, Davis stood up.  Father Montecland, “priest by day and world citizen by night” said in a booming voice “And now the people have the floor!” Davis said “Mr Chairman and delegates: I interrupt in the name of the people of the world not represented here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order can no longer be disregarded.”   After this, the security guards moved in, but Robert Sarrazac on the other side of the Visitors Gallery continued in French, followed by a plea for human rights in Togolese. Later, near the end of the UN Assembly in Paris, the General Assembly adopted without an opposition vote, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which became the foundation of world citizens’ efforts to advance world law.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

The Rue du Cherche Midi.

Dr Herbert Evatt of Australia was the President of the UN General Assembly in 1948.  He was an internationalist who had worked during the San Francisco Conference creating the UN to limit the powers of the Permanent Five of the Security Council.  Evatt met with Davis a few days after the “interruption” and encouraged Davis to continue to work for world citizenship, even if disrupting UN meetings was not the best way.

Shortly after highlighting world citizenship at the UN; Garry Davis went to the support of Jean Moreau; a young French world citizen and active Catholic; who as a conscientious objector to military service, had been imprisoned in Paris as there was no law on alternative service in France at the time. Davis camped in front of the door of the military prison at the Rue du Cherche Midi in central Paris.  As Davis wrote:

“When it is clearly seen that citizens of other nations are willing to suffer for a man born in France claiming the moral right to work for and love his fellow man rather than be trained in killing him, as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Tolstoy, St Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and other great thinkers and religious leaders have taught, the world may begin to understand that the conscience of Man itself rises above all artificially-created divisions and fears.” (2).

Herbert Evatt

Dr Herbert Evatt By Max Dupain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Others joined Davis in camping on the street.  Garry Davis worked closely on this case with Henri Roser and Andre Trocme of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Davis was put in jail for camping on the city street and also for not having valid identification documents, but his place on the street was filled with others, including a German pacifist, an act of courage so soon after the end of the War.  It took another decade before alternative service in France was put into place, but Davis’ action had led to the issue being widely raised in France, and the link between world citizenship and non-violent action clearly drawn.

Garry Davis was never an “organizational man”.  He saw himself as a symbol in action.  After a year in France with short periods in Germany, he decided in July 1949 to return to the US. As he wrote at the time:

“I have often said that it is not my intention to head a movement or to become president of an organization. In all honesty and sincerity, I must define the limit of my abilities as being a witness to the principle of world unity, defending to the limit of my ability the Oneness of man and his immense possibilities on our planet Earth, and fighting the fears and hatreds created artificially to perpetuate narrow and obsolete divisions which lead and have always led to armed conflict.”

Perhaps by the working of karma, on the ship taking him to the USA, he met Dr. P. Natarajan, a south Indian religious teacher in the Upanishadic tradition.  Natarajan had lived in Geneva and Paris and had a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Paris.  He and Davis became close friends, and Davis spent some time in India at the center created by Natarajan who stressed the development of the inner life.  “Meditation consists of bringing all values inside yourself” was a motto of Natarajan.

It was at the home of Harry Jakobsen, a follower of Natarajan, on Schooly Mountain, New Jersey that I first met Garry Davis in the early 1950s. I was also interested in Indian philosophy, and someone put me in contact with Jakobsen. However, I had joined what was then the Student World Federalists in 1951 so I knew of the Paris adventures of Garry. We have since seen each other in Geneva, France and the US from time to time.

As well as a World Citizen.

Some world federalists and world citizens thought that his renunciation of US citizenship in 1948 confused people.  The more organization-minded world federalists preferred to stress that one can be a good citizen of a local community, a national state as well as a world citizen.   However Davis’ and my common interest in Asian thought was always a bond beyond any tactical disagreements.

Today, it is appropriate to cite the oft-used Indian image of the wave as an aspect of the one eternal ocean of energy.  Each individual is both an individual wave and at the same time part of the impersonal source from which all comes and returns.  Garry Davis as a wave has now returned to the broader ocean.  He leaves us a continuing challenge writing:

“There is vital need now for wise and practical leadership, and the symbols, useful up to a point, must now give way to the men qualified for such leadership.”

Notes.

1) Garry Davis. My Country is the World (London: Macdonald Publishers, 1962)

2) Garry Davis.Over to Pacifism:A Peace News Pamphlet (London: Peace News, 1949)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizen.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Simone Panter-Brick - Gandhi Book Reviews

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Featured Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Path to Indian Independence (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012, 225pp) Simone Panter-Brick.

Simone Panter-Brick had written two earlier books on Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi against Machiavellism: Non-violence in Politics; and Gandhi and the Middle East.

Here, in a book written just before her death; she deals with two key concepts in the thought and action of Gandhi: swaraj and dharma. Swaraj is best translated as self-realization; as in the Self-Realization Fellowship of the Indian teacher; Paramahansa Yogananda in California. “Gandhi and Swaraj” would have been a more accurate title of the book than “Nationalism”; but fewer people would have known what the book was about from such a title. As Panter-Brick points out:

“Swaraj is formed of two Sanskrit words: swa (self) and raj (rule). Thus, it can be construed either as rule over the self – the spiritual assertion of every person – or as self-rule – participation in the political affairs of the nation as citizens fully conscious of their rights and duties. For Gandhi, it was both.”

Dharma.

Dharma is a term used by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Buddhists do not normally speak of their own religion as ‘Buddhism’; but usually refer to it as ‘the Dharma’ meaning truth; the law as in the sense of the natural law which sustains the universe.

Dharma in Hinduism also means order in the sense of the law of the universe; immanent but made known to humans through awakening; the basis of moral life. In a narrower sense; dharma means duty – often caste duties or loyalty to the rulers of the country; into which one has been born through the working of karma.

It is in this latter sense – the duties that Gandhi felt to the Empire – that the book develops. The book is especially useful for those of us who try to use spiritual concepts within the political field; where words take on other meanings; and can also be understood by others in different ways than intended.

Paramahansa Yogananda with his book “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Paramahansa Yogananda, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

My life is my message.

The understanding of the ways spiritual concepts are used in political life is made even more complex; in the case of Gandhi in that he was not a thinker in terms of systems; but in terms of action. “My life is my message.” Most of Mahatma Gandhi’s writings were newspaper articles reacting to specific events and letters; often in reply to letters asking specific questions.

Copies of his letters were kept by his secretary, Mahadev Desai; and make up much of the many-volume Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi’s effort at systematic writing; in particular his 1909 Hind Swaraj; was used on the eve of independence against him by those wanting to establish Pakistan saying that Hind; which Gandhi had used as an old name for India really meant Hindu; and that Gandhi saw no place for Muslims in Indian society; and deliberately overlooked any Muslim contribution to Indian civilization.

Gandhi and Mahadev Desai, at Birla House, Mumbai (7 April 1939). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Panter-Brick points out:

“Gandhi’s entry into politics sprang from the firm belief that a citizen has rights and duties, and that he, as an Indian, had a duty to perform. This Indian conception of one’s life task is best expressed in the word dharma or righteous performance of one’s duty in life”.

Born into a family whose function was that of diwan, chief administrator of a princely state; both his family and he saw his dharma as that of a government administrator; probably of a larger state than Porbandar administered by his father. As the princely states were autonomous; but under the control of the British Empire; Gandhi stressed his individual duty to the British Empire. He had lost his caste standing by crossing the sea to study in England – there being a caste prohibition to crossing a large body of water.

Thus; the only dharma he had was a responsibility to the British Empire. However; dharma for Gandhi had to be considered as a self-imposed direction for duty and not imposed by tradition.

Quit India.

Thus in South Africa; he helped to create a medical corps for the English – the 1,100 strong Indian Ambulance Corps – in the 1899-1902 war against the Boers; and again for the government in the 1906 short-lived Zulu Rebellion in Natal.

On his return to India at the start of the First World War; he had tried to recruit Indians to serve in the British Army. He failed in his efforts as individuals; who were not already members of military castes felt no dharmic duties to serve the Empire.

Gandhi’s sense of duty to serve the state of his birth ultimately gave way; when the British Raj was too slow to react favourably to Indian nationalism, granting too little, too late. Moreover; Gandhi was surrounded by Indians in the Indian National Congress; who had never felt any dharmic duty to the British Empire. They wanted to rule India without the British. They had in their hearts the slogan; which they did not use publicly until 1942 “Quit India”

Gandhi’s Vision of Swaraj.

As Judith Brown; another specialist on Gandhi’s thought, writes on the evolution of Gandhi’s vision of swaraj :

“that was to be markedly at odds with the vision of political independence held by most of his colleagues in the Indian National Congress and the country at large. For him, swaraj was not a matter of Indians ejecting the British and stepping into their shoes and seats of power…It was a great enterprise of moral regeneration of a whole people and a transformation of their society, a righting of the wrongs and weaknesses that made colonialism rule possible, and ultimately a transformation of the processes of governance.” (1)

Home Rule.

Gandhi long hoped for Home Rule, Indian independence within what later became the Commonwealth; that is, national government with foreign policy set by consensus of all the member states having a Home Rule status. He had translated into English himself his Hind Swaraj giving the title Indian Home Rule. India had been accepted as a member of the League of Nations although not independent nor having Home Rule status. In fact, the Aga Khan; considered to be an Indian; had been President of the League of Nations Assembly.

For most leaders in the Indian National Congress; it was not foreign policy which mattered but; “who ran things on the ground” in India. The Indian National Congress took advantage of every possibility to extend its control at the local level. Thus; Congress was ready when the Government of India Act was passed in the British Parliament in 1935; to take power through elections set for 1937 down to the provincial level of governance.

Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might read: The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

Create a Political Vacuum.

From 1937 until 1940; Congress controlled the internal affairs of India; gaining experience in administration that would have paved a smooth road for governing the country at Independence in 1947.

However; at the outbreak of the Second World War; the Congress High Command instructed all its provincial governments to resign in protest at the Viceroy’s declaration of war on Germany; without consulting with the people of India. (Hitler; of course, had consulted no one before attacking Poland).

The immediate result was to create a political vacuum; into which Muhammad Ali Jinnah; also a British-educated lawyer and President of the Muslim League; stepped. Jinnah was aware that London badly needed some show of loyalty in its major imperial possession; and presented himself along with a vague concept of “two nations” – one Hindu; the other Muslim and the need for a “Pakistan” for the Muslim population. (2)

 Mohammad Ali Jinnah – Founder and 1st Governor General of Pakistan (1876-1948). By Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Quit India.

Congress formulated a “Quit India” Campaign of immediate independence for India. Japanese troops were in Burma on the frontier of India. Along with the Japanese; there was a fairly strong contingent of Indian soldiers; who had been captured in Europe by the Germans and then sent to Asia to help the Japanese. These Indian troops were led by the Bengali leader Subhas Chandra Bose; who had played an important role in Congress politics and was a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru. The British took the Quit India Campaign as a sign of treason in wartime and jailed much of the Congress leadership until June 1945 when the war was over in Europe.

The days of the Empire were limited.

With the end of the Second World War; events speeded up. In 1945, 1st Viscount Wavell; who had been military Commander-in-Chief in India during the war was named Viceroy. Wavell knew the situation well enough to understand that the days of the Empire were limited. He called for an interim government that would be based on a combination of Hindu and Muslim leaders: Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, the organizational strong man of Congress at Interior, and Liaquat Ali Khan, Jinnah’s deputy, at Finance.

Photograph, silver Dimensions:Framed: 13 1/4″ x 11″ Description:Black and white portrait photograph of Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru with hand to chinThe photograph is inscribed to President John F. Kennedy.
Historical Note:This photograph was presented to President John F. Kennedy during Prime Minister Nehru’s state visit to the United States on November 9, 1961 in Newport Rhode Island. By White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi was largely on the sidelines as the administrative structures were being decided. As Panter-Brick writes:

“The Mahatma wanted to represent all Indians but not all Indians accepted that claim. He was too democratic for the autocratic princes and their vast estates. He looked too Hindu to the Muslims, too unorthodox to the Brahmins, too anti-class war to the Communists, too pro-landowner for the Socialists, and even in his party, too leftist to the right, too secular to some, too religious to others – and too non-violent to the politicians.”

Thus leadership moved to Jawaharlal Nehru; who also wanted to represent all Indians; but as Congress was over 90 percent Hindu, he was seen as a Hindu spokesman with Ali Jinnah for the Muslims.

Studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi, London, 1931.Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jawaharlal Nehru.

Jawaharlal Nehru had been brought into Indian politics by his father, Motilal Nehru; an important lawyer and an early Indian Congress leader in the 1890s. Motilal, interested in spirituality; was a member of the Theosophical Society and a close co-worker with the Theosophical President; Annie Besant, and her Home Rule efforts. Motilal felt that his son needed a Western education to be able to play a real role in Indian politics.

Thus; he sent Jawaharlal to be educated in secondary school and university in England. The separation resulted in that Motilal and Jawaharlal had distant father-son relations; and Motilal passed on few of his spiritual interests to his son.

Jawaharlal and Gandhi developed much of a father-son relation; Gandhi serving as the replacement for the distant Motilal and Gandhi; who had bad relations with his own children; saw Jawaharlal as his son and heir.

Annie Besant, half-length portrait, seated, facing slightly right, clad in the style of the Aesthetic Dress movement (1887). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Congress Party.

Jawaharlal Nehru was basically a secular thinker; but who understood the need to make a religious appeal to the Hindu base of the Congress Party. As Nehru wrote:

“Sacralisation of the national movement? I used to be troubled sometimes at the growth of this religious element in our politics, but I know well that there was something else in it, something which supplied a deep inner craving of human beings.”

The “deep inner craving” seemed to express itself by Hindus and Muslims each wanting to govern without the other. Suaraj came to two states; with no spiritual transformation of the leaders. We have had since ‘nationalism’ in its narrowest sense; with wars between India and Pakistan; and the division from Pakistan of East Bengal; become Bangladesh.

Never in South Asian history did so few divide so many, so murderously.

Partition was imposed from above by the British; but no Indian leaders proposed forms of association; which would have provided autonomy without division. Some ideas of an Indian confederation were suggested; but the details had not been worked out. So division seemed to be the only solution. As has been said “Never in South Asian history did so few divide so many, so murderously.” Gandhi boycotted the celebrations of Independence held among riots, massacres and refugee flows. Over a million were killed in a short time; and there were some 18 million refugees and exchanges of population.

Thus; we see the importance of discussing and finding a consensus on the structures of a state. There were no Federalist Papers debates at the time of Indian Independence. Demands for the creation of Pakistan may have been a political move rather than a “final status” demand on the part of Ali Jinnah. Administrative structures may seem dull in contrast to the ideology of political independence; and the righting of social evils. But as Gandhi and Nationalism points out well; without clear understanding of the type of state desired and broadly acceptable; the door was open to religious chauvinists and their simplified divisions.

Notes.

1) See Richard L. Johnson (Ed). Gandhi’s Experiments with Truth (Oxford: Lexington, 2006)
2) For a good biography see Stanley Wolpert Jinnah of Pakistan(Oxford University Press, 1984). Wolpert is also a biographer of Gandhi, see his Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi (Oxford University Press, 2001)

Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens.  

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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