Tag: <span>Mahatma Gandhi</span>

League of Nations Rapprochement of Cultures.

La Société des Nations et son armée de la…

Image en vedette : Stanley Bruce présidant le Conseil de la Société des Nations en 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop s’adresse au conseil. Par Commonwealth d’Australie, domaine public, via Wikimedia Commons

Par René Wadlow.

Le 28 avril 1919 peut être considéré comme la naissance de la Société des Nations. La création de la Ligue avait été à l’ordre du jour de la conférence de la paix à Versailles, aux portes de Paris, dès son lancement en janvier 1919.

Le président américain Woodrow Wilson était le champion en chef de la Ligue. La création d’une telle organisation a été discutée dès le début en janvier, ainsi que des discussions sur l’emplacement du siège de la Ligue. Le 28 avril, la création d’une Société des Nations est décidée à l’unanimité et, dans le même temps, Genève est choisie pour son siège.

Woodrow Wilson, président des États-Unis d’Amérique. Par Harris & Ewing, domaine public, via Wikimedia Commons.

La première décennie de la vie de la Ligue.

Certains des échecs ultérieurs de la Ligue étaient visibles dès le début. L’Allemagne vaincue et l’URSS révolutionnaire n’ont pas été invitées à se joindre, et le Sénat américain a refusé l’invitation. Néanmoins, la première décennie de la vie de la Ligue a vu beaucoup de coopération internationale, en particulier dans les domaines des conditions de travail, de la santé, de la protection sociale, de la coopération intellectuelle et de l’agriculture – tous domaines qui seront ensuite poursuivis et développés au sein du système onusien.

La première décennie a vu le règlement d’un certain nombre de conflits qui auraient pu conduire à la guerre. Il y avait un sentiment largement répandu qu’une nouvelle ère dans les relations internationales était née. Cependant, les années 1930 ont commencé avec les conflits qui ont conduit à la fin de la Ligue.

Incident de Moukden.

Le 18 septembre 1931, le Japon accusa la Chine d’avoir fait sauter une ligne de chemin de fer de Mandchourie sur laquelle le Japon avait des droits issus de traités. Cet ” incident de Mukden “, comme on l’appela, fut suivi de la prise par les Japonais de la ville de Mukden et de l’invasion de la Mandchourie. L’occupation militaire de la région a suivi et, le 18 février 1932, le Japon a établi l’État fantoche de Mandchoukine.

De nouvelles hostilités entre le Japon et la Chine étaient une possibilité réelle. La Ligue a tenté de servir de médiateur dans le conflit sous la direction de Salvador De Madariaga, l’ambassadeur de l’Espagne républicaine auprès de la Ligue. En pratique, aucun des gouvernements occidentaux n’a voulu s’impliquer dans les conflits asiatiques, surtout pas à une époque où ils faisaient face à une dépression économique.

L’écrivain espagnol Salvador de Madariaga et le ministre des Affaires étrangères de l’Argentine José María Cantilo se sont entretenus lors d’une session de la Société des Nations (1936). Par Auteur inconnuAuteur inconnu, domaine public, via Wikimedia Commons.

Salvador De Madariaga: Conscience of the League of Nations.

Coopération avec les organisations non gouvernementales.

La coopération des organisations non gouvernementales avec la Société des Nations n’était pas aussi structurée qu’elle le serait par la Charte des Nations Unies. Il y avait quelques groupes pacifistes à Genève qui interagissaient de manière informelle avec les délégations de la Ligue – la Ligue internationale des femmes pour la paix et la liberté, le Bureau international de la paix et les Quakers britanniques étaient actifs mais n’étaient pas en mesure de parler directement lors des réunions de la Ligue. Ils ne pouvaient qu’adresser des appels écrits au secrétariat de la Ligue et contacter de manière informelle certaines délégations.

En réaction aux tensions Japon-Chine, le Dr Maude Revden, une ancienne suffragette, l’une des premières femmes pasteurs d’Angleterre, influencée par le Mahatma Gandhi qu’elle avait visité en Inde, proposa des “troupes de choc de la paix” qui se porteraient volontaires pour se placer entre les Japonais et combattants chinois. La proposition d’interposition d’un corps non armé de civils des deux sexes entre les armées adverses a été proposée au Secrétaire général de la Société des Nations, Sir Eric Drummond.

Drummond répondit qu’il n’était pas dans son pouvoir constitutionnel de présenter la proposition à l’Assemblée de la Ligue. Seul le gouvernement pouvait soumettre des points à l’ordre du jour à l’Assemblée. Néanmoins, il a diffusé la lettre aux nombreux journalistes alors à Genève alors que l’Assemblée était en session. La lettre a été largement relayée.

Une troupe de choc non armée de la Ligue ne s’est jamais développée, et la Chine et une grande partie de l’Asie sont devenues le théâtre d’une guerre menée par les Japonais.

Sir Eric Drummond vers 1918. Par Bain, domaine public, via Wikimedia Commons.

Les Nations Unies par des citoyens du monde.

L’idée d’une force d’interposition non armée a de nouveau été présentée cette fois aux Nations Unies par des citoyens du monde peu après la création de l’ONU lors de la création de l’État d’Israël en 1947-48 et du conflit armé qui en a résulté. La proposition a été présentée par Henry Usborn  un député britannique, actif dans le mouvement mondial fédéraliste et citoyen du monde. Usborn a été influencé par le concept de satyagraha (une force de l’âme) du Mahatma Gandhi et a proposé qu’un corps de volontaires de quelque 10 000 personnes non armées détienne une zone démilitarisée de deux kilomètres de large entre Israël et ses voisins arabes.

Un peu plus tard, en 1960, Salvador De Madariaga, qui avait cessé d’être ambassadeur d’Espagne auprès de la Ligue à l’arrivée au pouvoir du général Franco, créa en 1938 l’Association des citoyens du monde depuis son exil en Angleterre.

Le socialiste indien de Gandhi.

Il a élaboré une proposition avec le chef du Parti socialiste indien de Gandhi, Jayapeakash Narayan, pour des gardes de la paix de l’ONU, une force de paix internationale non armée qui serait une alternative aux forces armées de l’ONU. (1) De Maderiaga  et Narayan ont soutenu qu’un corps de gardes de la paix réguliers intervenant sans aucune arme, entre deux forces au combat ou sur le point de se battre  pourrait avoir un effet considérable. Les Peace Guards seraient autorisés par les États membres de l’ONU à intervenir dans tout conflit de toute nature à la demande de l’une des parties ou du Secrétaire général.

Jayaprakash Narayan lors de sa visite en Allemagne, 1959. Par Ullstein bild, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dag Hammarskjold, qui avait suffisamment de problèmes avec les troupes armées de l’ONU dans l’ancien Congo belge et comprenait la realpolitik de l’ONU, n’a pas donné suite à la proposition. Ainsi, pour le moment, il n’y a que des troupes onusiennes armées tirées des armées nationales et ne pouvant agir que sur une résolution du Conseil de sécurité.

Photographie de Dag Hammarskjöld (1953). Par Caj Bremer, domaine public, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might interesting to read: Dag Hammarskjold. Crisis Manager and Longer-Range World Community Builder .

Note.

Un bon portrait de Jayaprakash Narayan, citoyen du monde, est dressé dans Bimal Prasad. Gandhi, Nehru et JP Studies in Leadership (Delhi, Chamakya Publications, 1985)

Narayan était également l’un des dirigeants indiens rencontrés par les dirigeants fédéralistes du monde étudiant lors de leur séjour de 1949 en Inde. Voir Clare et Harris Wofford, Jr.
India Afire (New York : John Day Company, 1951).

René Wadlow, président, Association des citoyens du monde.

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Romain Rolland Rapprochement of Cultures.

Romain Rolland: The Cosmopolitan Spirit.

Featured Image: Romain Rolland on the balcony of his home (162, Boulevard de Montparnasse, Paris), 1914. View to the south-south-east. The building at the center belongs to the church of the monastary of the Sisters of Visitation (68 bis, Avenue Denfert-Rocherau), and the cupola at the far right is the observatory of Paris. By Agence de presse Meurisse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the major voices of the spirit of Citizens of the World is Romain Rolland (1866-1944). He is the symbol of those who would not let war destroy the cultural bridges between peoples, especially during the 1914-1918 World War.

Romain Rolland came from a French family with many generations in the legal profession. However, from his secondary school days on, his interest was in music, painting, history, and literature. Early he was drawn to German music, especially Wagner and Beethoven. Later he wrote an important biography of both Beethoven and Handel. He did his university studies at the prestigous Ecole Normale Superieure, a specialized higher education school which trains university professors. He was in the same class as Paul Claudel who became a diplomat and well-known poet.

At university he became interested in Russian literature and started a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy whose ideas he admired. After his studies, he received a scholarship to study in Rome in order to write his doctoral thesis on the history of opera. He also collected information for later articles on Italian painting.

French poet, playwright and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine.

On his return to Paris, he started teaching on the history of art and the history of music at the Sorbonne, the leading French university. He wrote a number of plays dealing with the French Revolution and began his collaboration with Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine , a literary journal edited by Charles Péguy, a poet and writer who increasingly wrote on political subjects.

In 1903, Rolland began publishing in Les Cahiers what became his major novel

Jean-Christophe which came out first in sections over a 10-year period and led to his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. In his novel, Jean-Christophe is a young German intellectual, a friend of young French intellectuals. The novel has as its leitmotif that friendship can overcome political divisions such as those created by the 1871 German-French war and the annexation by Germany of Alsace and Lorraine.

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

Guns of August.

Romain Rolland had often spent his summer vacations in Switzerland, beginning when he was a boy with his parents. Thus, he was spending the summer of 1914 in Switzerland when the “guns of August” marked the start of the First World War. Because of his age, 48, and his fragile health, Rolland was exempt from French military service. He stayed on in Switzerland to work with a Red Cross-related International Agency of Prisoners of War in Geneva.

However, later, his enemies claimed that he was anti-patriotic and had left France for the safety of Switzerland. As he was already well known as a writer and intellectual, he was interviewed and asked to write articles for the leading Geneva newspaper, Le Journal de Genève as well as for the newly created intellectual journal Demain (Tomorrow). He brought these articles together in a book Au Dessus de la Mélée (Above the Battle) though later he thought that “Au-dessus de la haine” (Above hate) would have been the better title.

Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

As a result of the war, Rolland decided to stay on in Switzerland and bought a house at Villneuve, the opposite end of the lake from Geneva. The house was in the park of a well-known hotel where the many visitors to Rolland could stay. He lived at Villeneuve for 26 years until 1938 when nostalgic for the area of his boyhood, he bought a house in central France and moved in shortly before the start of the Second World War.

It was from Villeneuve that Rolland turned his attention toward India and the contribution that Indian thought could make to a Europe destroyed by its divisions and hates. Thus Rolland turned to the two living Indian thinkers whose contribution he thought crucial: first Rabindranath Tagore and then Mahatma Gandhi.

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Universal Real.

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

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.

He also wrote books on two related Indian religious thinkers: Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. As Rolland never learned to speak or read English, he had to count on his sister Madeleine who lived in his household much of the time. There is little original in his portraits of Ramakrishna (1929) and Vivekananda (1930) but because of Rolland’s fame, the biographies were widely read and so introduced the two to a wider French-reading public, well beyond the narrow circle of specialists on Indian philosophy.

Famous photograph of Ramakrishna (1836-1886). By Abinash Chandra Dna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Higher detail image of Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicago, On the left Vivekananda wrote in his own handwriting: “One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee.” By The original uploader was Dziewa at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Hesse and Hermann Keyserling.

In Rabindranath Tagore, Rolland found a common cultural bridge-builder as well as a fellow Nobel Prize for Literature holder. Both Tagore and Rolland saw literature, music and painting as instruments of broad world cooperation and avenues of understanding. In his letters to and discussions with Tagore, Rolland stressed the possibilities for cultural inter-penetration, advising against the imposition of either civilization on the other. Rolland was interested in spiritual and cultural revitalization following the lines of his friend Hermann Hesse and Count Hermann Keyserling. Rolland hoped to introduce Indian thought into the European framework intellectually and morally drained by the 1914-1918 War. Rolland used his influence to promote the translation and publishing of Indian writers in Europe.

Hermann Hesse. By See page for author, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Graf Keyserling, German philosopher. By AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope.

However, it is as the popularizer and exponent of Gandhi’s thought that Rolland played a crucial role for nonviolent action. Gandhi was the embodiment of many of Rolland’s positions: a non-Leninist opposition to imperialism and a concern for movements of national independence. For Rolland, Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope and a political alternative to the pervasiveness of force in the West. Nonviolence would give to the demoralized pacifists; who had been unable to prevent World War I a vigorous faith and an experimental tactic for social change.

Romain Rolland asserted that the real enemy in the nonviolent struggle was personal weakness and the lack of faith − not the presence of entrenched and violent enemies.

“We do not fight violence so mush as weakness. The road to peace is through self-sacrifice.”

As with the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda biographies, Rolland had to depend on his sister’s translations to write his 1923 biography of Gandhi based largely on Gandhi’s writings about South Africa, Gandhi’s articles in Young India as well as Tagore’s letters to Rolland which often mentioned Gandhi. Rolland’s short biography sold well, some 100,000 copies the first year followed by translations into Russian, German and English.

On a more personal level, one English reader of Rolland’s biography was Madeleine Slade who asked Rolland to write to Gandhi so she could join Gandhi’s ashram. Rolland did, and Slade, renamed Mira by Gandhi, became a close disciple and served as intermediary between Rolland and Gandhi until the 1939 start of the Second World War when correspondence between India and France became impossible. Rolland’s fragile health prevented him from traveling to India and the only face to face meeting was in 1931 when Gandhi, from negotiations in London went to Villeneuve to meet Rolland.

In his autobiographic Discovery of India Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:

“In recent years that great European and typical product of the best European culture, Romain Rolland, made a more synthetic and very friendly approach to the basic foundations of Indian thought: for him East and West represented different phases of the human soul.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, Former Prime Minister of India. By AFP staff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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

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Appeals

Nonviolent Action: The Force of the Soul.

Featured Image: Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

2 October is the UN General Assembly-designated Day of Nonviolence chosen as 2 October is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

U.N General Assembly

Featured Image by 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?

Passive Resistance.

Mahatma Gandhi, shortly after finishing his legal studies in England, went to South Africa and began working with Indian laborers, victims of discrimination. He looked for a term understandable to a largely English-speaking population to explain his efforts. “Passive resistance” was the most widely used term and had been used by Leo Tolstoy and others.

However, Gandhi found the word “passive” misleading. There did exist a Hindu term ahinsa − a meaning non and hinsa, violence. The term was basically unknown among White South Africans, largely uninterested in Indian philosophical thought.

Leo Tolstoy

Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Tune with the Infinite or Fullness of Peace Power and Plenty.

Gandhi wrote to a friend from his legal studies days in England, Edward Maitland. Maitland and Anna Kingsford were the leaders of the Esoteric Christian Union and the leaders of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society. Maitland introduced Gandhi to the writings of the American New Thought writer Ralph Waldo Trine. Trine was a New Englander and his parents named him after Emerson. His best known work from which Gandhi took the term for his actions in South Africa is In Tune with the Infinite or Fullness of Peace Power and Plenty. (1)

Edward Maitland, biographer of en:Anna Kingsford (1846–1888). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Soul Force.

Trine uses the term “soul force” which Gandhi then used for his work in South Africa. Once back in India, Gandhi wanted an Indian rather than an English expression, and he coined the term satyagraha − holding on to truth: sat as Truth in a cosmic sense is an oft-used Hindu term while “soul” would need some explaining to Indian followers.

All of Trine’s writings contained the same message: soul force could be acquired by making oneself one with God, who was immanent, through love and service to one’s fellow men. The Christ Trine followed was one familiar to Gandhi − the supreme spiritual exemplar who showed men the way to union with their divine essence. Trine promised that the true seeker, fearless and forgetful of self-interest, will be so filled with the power of God working through him that:

“as he goes here and there, he can continually send out influences of the most potent and powerful nature that will reach the uttermost parts of the world.”

For Trine, thought was the way that a person came into tune with the Infinite. “Each is building his own world. We both build from within, and we attract from without. Thought is the force with which we build, for thoughts are forces. Like builds like and like attracts like. In the degree that thought is spiritualized does it become more subtle and powerful in its workings. This spiritualizing is in accordance with law and is within the power of all.

“Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material. The realm of the unseen is the realm of cause. The realm of the seen is the realm of effect. The nature of effect is always determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.”

Thus for Mahatma Gandhi, before a nonviolent action or campaign, there was a long period of spiritual preparation of both himself and his close co-workers. Prayer, fasting, meditation were used in order to focus the force of the soul, to visualize a positive outcome and to develop harmlessness to those opposed.

Another theme which Trine stressed and which Gandhi constantly used in his efforts to build bridges between Hindus and Muslims was that there was a basic core common to all religions. Gandhi wrote:

“There is a golden thread that runs through every religion in the world. There is a golden thread that runs through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages, and saviours in the world’s history, through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power. The great central fact of the universe is that the spirit of infinite life and power is back of all, manifests itself in and through all. This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all is what I call God. I care not what term you may use, be it Kindly Light, Providence, the Over-Soul, Omnipotence or whatever term may be most convenient, so long as we are agreed in regard to the great central fact itself.”

Simone Panter-Brick - Gandhi

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

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Note.

1) R.W. Trine. In Tune with the Infinite (New York: Whitecombe and Tombs, 1899, 175pp.)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Leo Tolstoy Book Reviews

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Featured Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

We possess a single infallible guide, the Universal Spirit that lives in men as a whole, and in each one of us, which makes us aspire to what we should aspire: It is the Spirit that commands the tree to grow toward the sun, the flower to throw off its seed in Autumn, us to reach out towards God, and by so doing, become united to each other.”
                          Leo Tolstoy.

9 September marks the birth of the multi-dimensional Count Leo Tolstoy, an aristocratic land owner, a young military officer, a distinguished author of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Hedji Mirad, a spiritual-moral philosopher deeply influenced by the Semon on the Mount of Jesus, and a champion of non-violent action. It is this last aspect and the link with Mahatma Gandhi that I would like to stress.

The final two yeas of Tolstoy’s life (1909-1910) were enlightened by his written contacts with Mohandas Gandhi (not yet called Mahatma) Gandhi had read Tolstoy’s fundamental spiritual-political work, The Kingdom of God is Within You shortly after it was published in England in 1893 and had been much moved by it. Gandhi had his friends translate the book into his native language, Gujarati.

To render good for evil.

Gandhi had read earlier in London Helena Blavatsky‘s The Voice of Silence, published in 1889, which elaborated the doctrine of liberation through service to others with the Buddhist concept of bodhisatva − the enlightened being who postpones indefinitely entry into nirvana in order to serve others. The voice of silence is the inner voice of the Higher Self or the soul. There is also developed the idea ‘to render good for evil’.

Thus Gandhi was well prepared to react positively to Tolstoy’s vision even if the vocabulary was largely Christian. Christ’s teaching, writes Tolstoy, differs from other teachings in that it guides humans not by eternal rules but by an inward consciousness of the possibility of reaching divine perfection. Tolstoy stresses the Middle Way, which led the French writer E.M. De Vogue to write that Tolstoy had the soul of an Indian Buddhist. Tolstoy had discovered that non-violence must have a spiritual foundation, most clearly expressed for him in the Gospels. Tolstoy wrote:

“the truth that for our life one law is valid, the law of love which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as to all mankind.”

Leo Tolstoy and Gandhi never met, but they corresponded with each other during the final two years of Tolstoy’s life. Tolstoy had read Hind Swaraj (1909) where Gandhi set out his vision of a liberated India, the means to reach liberation, and what an independent India could mean for the world. It was Gandhi’s plan of action before he set out to put it in practice. Gandhi had listed some of Tolstoy’s books in a list of supplementary readings to Hind Swaraj in particular The Kingdom of God is Within You and Letter to a Hindoo, Tolstoy’s reply to an Indian revolutionary who had proposed a violent uprising.

Tolstoy wrote to Gandhi:

“I read your book with great interest because I think that the questin you treat in it − the passive resistance − is a question of the greatest importance not only for India but for the whole humanity.”

Tolstoy had also read Joseph Doha’s 1909 biography of Gandhi An Indian Patriot in South Africa ,the first biography of Gandhi to be written. In August 1910, Gandhi wrote to Tolstoy to announce the creation of his ashram in South Africa called Tolstoy Farm.

Gandhi’s efforts in South Africa were signs to Tolstoy that non-violence based on the importance of personal virtue could be put into practice. Much of the last years of Tolstoy’s life was a harsh struggle against darkness as represented by the State, its war-making power, its ideologies, and the social thinking that structured the State. Colonialism, imperialism and the oppression of the indigenous peoples were the hallmark of the State.

He saw the forces at work that would lead to the First World War and the Russian Revolution. By 1901 he had been excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox Church − not that he expected much light to come from Church-State relations. The Church did insist that no prayers be said at Tolstoy’s funeral.

For Tolstoy as for Gandhi, nonviolence was an expression of ‘soul force’ −the outward expression of the Inner Kingdom.

René Wadlow, president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens.

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

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Edmond Privat Rapprochement of Cultures.

Edmond Privat: The Inner Light.

Featured Image: Esperanto World Congress, Vienna 1924. Prominent group of participants, from left to right: Lidia Zamenhof, Edmond Privat, Klara Zamenhof (1924). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

17 August is the birth anniversary of Edmond Privat in 1889 − a leading world citizen of the first wave of world citizen action closely associated with the League of Nations.  It was natural for Privat, a citizen of Geneva, to be drawn to the efforts of the League of Nations.  He served from 1923 to 1927 as the vice-delegate for Iran.  In the early League days, many States did not have a permanent representative to the League and so named an “intellectual personality” to represent the country. 

The Interpreter and Orator.

Privat also worked at different times at the League as an interpreter from English to French.  In those days, there was no simultanious interpretation but only consequtive interpretation. The interpreter, standing near the speaker had to convey some of the same drama in his voice. Privat was an experienced orator, one of the first to make regular radio broadcasts and so was much appreciated as an interpreter. At the time, the League Secretariat staff was small, and there was a good deal of interaction among the staff and the government delegates.  Thus Privat, already a political journalist, could follow closely world events and the League efforts.

Privat served as an interpreter for Fridtjof Nansen, whose work for World War I refugees and relief to Russia after the Revolution, marked Privat who developed a life-long concern for refugees and relief from hunger.

Fridtjof Nansen is a model for Erik Werenskiold’s bust of him in the artist’s studio. Half figure. By National Library of Norway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Romain Rolland and Gandhi.

Privat was a close friend of Romain Rolland who lived during the 1920s and 1930s at Villeneuve near Geneva.  Romain Rolland was one of the first in Europe to write about the philosophy-in-acts of Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi had gone to London in 1931 for a government roundtable on the future of India.  Romain Rolland invited Gandhi to Villeneuve and asked Privat to translate for him and to organize two public talks for Gandhi. Privat was much impressed with Gandhi, and Privat and his wife left shortly afterwards for India to report on Gandhi’s efforts, resulting in a book Aux Indes Avec Gandhi.

Romain Rolland, Nobel laureate in Literature 1915. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Through Rolland and Gandhi, Privat became interested in Indian philosophy and shared Gandhi’s views that there was an inner light that was  a common core of all the world’s religions.  

As Privat wrote :

The Inner Light opens us to the sense of the universal and the eternal. The Inner Light can recognize no frontier and can exclude no one. The Inner Light can make no distinctions of race, color or social condition. Love can not be bound by passports or visas. The Inner Light is seen not in words but in attitudes and acts.”

Mahatma Gandhi. By Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Esperanto Congress.

Privat had a life-long passion to promote the universal.  He looked for ways to build bridges among peoples and had learned Esperanto from childhood. As a secondary school student, he attended the first universal Esperanto congress in France in 1905. He then took on the task to organize the next Esperanto congress in Geneva in 1906.  Privat had a talent as an organizer and virtually to the end of his life in 1962, he was organizing conferences, creating committees as well as writing articles.

During the First World War, he was sent as a war correspondent to Poland where he met Ludoviko Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto.  Later Privat wrote a biography in Esperanto Vivo de Zamenhof, translated into many languages.  From his observations in Poland, he became a champion for the liberation of Poland from Russian influence.   In 1918, Privat published L’Europe et l’Odyssée de la Pologne aux XIX siecle.

L. L. Zamenhof  (1859–1917). Universala Esperanto-Asocio. By L. L. Zamenhof, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Wars.

Privat’s observations of the First World War and its consequences confirmed his earlier conviction that war was evil and the result of narrow nationalism.  To overcome war, there was a need for a cosmopolitan – world spirit.  People needed to think of themselves as citizens of the world.  He saw the League of Nations as a first step toward a federation of the world.  After the Second World War, he worked actively for a stronger United Nations and the creation of a “Second Chamber” to which people would be elected rather than being appointed by governments as is the case for the UN General Assembly. He published Trois experiences federalistes (USA, Suisse, S.D.N.) on federalism as an approach to a stronger world structure.

Privat’s vision of the unity of the world included a strong emphasis on the equality between women in men − this in a country where, at the time, women could not vote or hold public office.

Today, much of the cosmopolitan-world citizen emphasis is on understanding the forces leading to world integration. Not all “globalization” works for the benefit of all people.  Nevertheless, trends are to ever grater interaction among the representatives of governments, transnational corporations, and non-governmental organizations – social movements. There is less emphasis on a common language of communication such as Esperanto.  It is likely that English plays the role that some hoped that Esperanto would become, although Esperanto still has its chanpions.  Privat is an important symbol of those who worked between the two World Wars for new positive attitudes and strong inter-governmental structures that would create a climate of peace.  The tasks still  face us today.

o: Edmond Privat, drawing, 1925 (made during the UK in Geneva), photo archive of AdUEA, BHH of eo: UEA. By Oszkár Lázár (1890–), Geneva, Rue Lévrier 3, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen.

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Horace Alexander Portraits of World Citizens.

Horace Alexander: Unofficial Diplomacy and Mediation.

Featured Image: Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash.

At this time of increased tensions and armed conflits in different parts of the world; it is useful to recall the positive possibilities of unofficial diplomacy.  Unofficial diplomats recognize that the suspicions of government officials are a major hurdle to overcome; and that they must emphasize their impartiality and independence from governments.  Preparing the way for official policy changes; or for improved interstate relations is a slow-building evolutionary process.  Personal contacts across borders hold the potential for influencing the knowledge and attitudes of those involved; as well as the ability to gain information.

Horace Alexander.

Horace Alexander (1889 – 1989); the British Quaker and friend of Mahatma Gandhi is a good example of the unofficial diplomat and mediator.  Horace Alexander was born in an English Quaker family.  His father was a lawyer deeply involved in peace efforts; and in opposing the opium trade active between India and China.  Horace Alexander was a Cambridge University graduate; who went on to teach international relations at Woodbroke; an adult education center run by Quakers.  Alexander was very active in efforts to support the League of Nations.

Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1926 and 1927; there was increased agitation and repression in India; as the Indian National Congress became increasingly active.  Thus in 1928; Horace Alexander was sent to India by the British Quakers; to see if relations between the Vice Roy Lord Irwin and Mahatma Gandhi could be improved.  Alexander saw the spiritual dimension of Gandhi; but also his political impact and suggested to the British government that Gandhi be invited to the Roundtable on Indian politics; which was to be held in London in 1931.

Alexander developed close relations with Gandhi; and divided his time between India and England.  He was active in relief work during the famine in Bengal in 1943-1944; and was active with the Indian National Congress during the negotiations; which led to independence in 1947; but sensed the birth pangs of the creation of the two states of India and Paxistan and the terrible days of partition; when fighting between religious communities took a deadly toll in human life and spirit.

Mahatma Gandhi

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

While he was with Gandhi in India; seeing the growing divide between Hindus and Muslims; he created the Fellowship of Friends of Truth. As he wrote:

“The basis and goal of the Fellowship of Truth will be a common striving toward fuller knowledge of the Truth that is God.  Members will commit themselves to learn with and from one another of the things that are eternal, through common acts of quiet worship and meditation and through other forms of communion with God and man.” 

Horace Alexander lived his later years in the United States and died at the age of 100.

Unofficial diplomacy rarely creats a breakthrough; as situations can be completely blocked; and even minimal proposals are unacceptable at the time.  However small steps can be useful if taken in the right direction. Unofficial Diplomacy; which is increasingly called Track II diplomacy; is growing in importance and merits support.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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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.  

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League of Nations Rapprochement of Cultures.

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

Featured Image: 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

By Rene Wadlow.

28 April 1919 can be considered as the birth of the League of Nations.  The creation of the League had been on the agenda of the Peace Conference at Versailles, just outside of Paris, from its start in January 1919.  

The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was the chief champion of the League.  The creation of such an organization was discussed from the start in January, along with discussions as to where the headquarters of the League would be set.  On 28 April, there was a unanimous decision to create a League of Nations and at the same time Geneva was chosen for its headquarters.

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America. By Harris & Ewing, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The First decade of the League’s life.

Some of the later failings of the League were visible from the start.  Defeated Germany and revolutionary USSR were not invited to join, and the U.S. Senate turned down the invitation.  Nevertheless, the first decade of the League’s life saw a good deal in international cooperation, especially in the fields of labor conditions, health, social welfare, intellectual cooperation, and agriculture – all areas that would later be continued and developed within the U.N. system.

The first decade saw the settlement of a number of conflicts that could have led to war.  There was a wide-spread feeling that a new era in international relations had been born. However, the 1930s began with the conflicts which led to the end of the League.

Mukden Incident.

On 18 September 1931 Japan accused China of blowing up a Manchurian railway line over which Japan had treaty rights.  This “Mukden Incident” as it became known was followed by the Japanese seizure of the city of Mukden and the invasion of Manchuria.  Military occupation of the region followed, and on 18 February 1932 Japan established the puppet state of Manchukin.

Further hostilities between Japan and China were a real possibility.  The League tried to mediate the conflict under the leadership of Salvador De Madariaga, the Ambassador of Republican Spain to the League.  In practice, none of the Western governments wanted to get involved in Asian conflicts, especially not at a time when they were facing an economic depression.

The Spanish writer Salvador de Madariaga and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina José María Cantilo talked during a session of the League of Nations (1936). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-govermental organization cooperation.

Non-govermental organization cooperation with the League of Nations was not as structured as it would be by the U.N. Charter.  There were a few peace groups in Geneva which did  interact informally with the League delegations – the Women’s International League for Peace and Fredom, the International Peace Bureau, and the British Quakers were active but were unable to speak directly in League meetings.  They could only send written appeals to the League secretariat and contact informally certain delegations.

In reaction to the Japan-China tensions, Dr Maude Revden, a former suffragist, one of England’s first women pastors, influenced by Mahatma Gandhi whom she had visited in India proposed “shock troops of peace” who would volunteer to place themselves between the Japanese and Chinese combatants.  The proposal for the interposition of an unarmed body of civilians of both sexes between the opposing armies was proposed to the Secretary General of the League of Nations, Sir Eric Drummond.  

Drummond replied that it was not in his constitutional power to bring the proposal before the League’s Assembly.  Only government could bring agenda items to the Assembly.  Nevertheless, he released the letter to the many journalists then in Geneva as the Assembly was in session. The letter was widely reported.

An unarmed shock troop of the  League never developed, and China and much of Asia became the scene of a Japanese-led war.

Sir Eric Drummond circa 1918. By Bain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations by World Citizens.

The idea of an unarmed interposition force was again presented this time to the United Nations by world citizens shortly after the U.N.’s creation at the time of the 1947-48 creation of the State of Israel and the resulting armed conflict.  The proposal was presented by Henry Usborn  a British MP, active in the world federalist and world citizen movement.  Usborn was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha (a soul force) and proposed that a volunteer corps of some 10,000 unarmed people hold a two kilometre-wide demilitarized zone between Israel and its Arab neighbors.   

Somewhat later, in 1960, Salvador De Madariaga, who had ceased being the Spanish Ambassador to the League when General Franco came to power, created in 1938 the World Citizens Association from his exile in England.

The Gandhian Indian Socialist.

He developed a proposal with the Gandhian Indian Socialist Party leader Jayapeakash Narayan for a U.N. Peace Guards, an unarmed international peace force that would be an alternative to the armed U.N. forces. (1) De Maderiaga  and Narayan held that a body of regular Peace Guards intervening with no weapons whatever, between two forces in combat or about to fight  might have considerable effect.  The Peace Guards would be authorized by the U.N. Member States to intervene in any conflict of any nature when asked by one of the parties or by the Secretary General.

Jayaprakash Narayan during his visit in Germany, 1959. By Ullstein bild, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dag Hammarskjold who was having enough problems with armed U.N. troops in the former Belgium Congo and understanding the realpolitik  of the U.N. did not act on the proposal.  Thus for the moment, there are only armed U.N. troops drawn from national armies and able to act only on a resolution of the Security Council.

Photograph of Dag Hammarskjöld(1953). By Caj Bremer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might interesting to read: Dag Hammarskjold. Crisis Manager and Longer-Range World Community Builder .

Note.

1) A good portrait of Jayaprakash Narayan, a world citizen, is set out in Bimal Prasad. Gandhi, Nehru and J.P. Studies in Leadership (Delhi, Chamakya Publications, 1985)

Narayan was also one of the Indian leaders met by the student world federalist leaders in their 1949 stay in India. See Clare and Harris Wofford, Jr.
India Afire (New York: John Day Company, 1951).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Jayaprakash Narayan Rapprochement of Cultures.

Jayaprakash Narayan: Advocate of the Nonviolent Total Revolution.

Featured Image: Jayaprakash Narayan during his visit in Germany, 1959. By Ullstein bild, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jayaprakash Narayan (1902-1979) whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 October, was an Indian social reformer in the struggle for Indian independence led by Mahatma Gandhi and a social reformer after the independence of India.  J.P. as he was usually called, had followed the advice given by Gandhi to refuse schooling financed by the British colonial authorities.  Thus in 1922, he left India to go to the USA.  With part-time jobs, he financed  his education at different U.S. universities until 1929 when he received a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Ohio and  then returned to India.

While at the University of Wisconsin, through some professors and a few students, he discovered the writings of Karl Marx and ever after considered himself a Marxist.  As he wrote:

Marxism provided a beacon of light for me: equality and brotherhood.  Freedom was not enough. It must mean freedom for all – even the lowliest – and this freedom must include freedom from exploitation, from hunger and poverty.”

On his return to India, he went to stay at the rural center where Mahatma Gandhi lived and where he had left his wife.  J.P. had married Prabhavat, whose father was a prominent co-worker of Gandhi.  She was 14 years old at the time and Gandhi and his wife had accepted her  as an adopted daughter when J.P. left for the U.S.  While he was away, she took the vow for a life-long abstinence from sexual relations which Gandhi encouraged  his followers to take. Thus, she and J.P. had no children.  She was highly devoted to him and an active support during the many years that he spent in jail for his political activities.  Her death in 1973 was a hard blow to him, especially as his health was then declining.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi. By Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Bimal Prasad writes in his analysis of the leadership qualities of Jayaprakash Narayan.

While Gandhi led India to freedom and Nehru laid the foundations of a modern, democratic state, it was left to J.P. to go on struggling for the establishment of a social order in India, of which both Gandhi and Nehru had dreamt.  The dominant feature of his political life extending over half a century was a quest for a revolution which would usher in a just social order, enshrining equality as well as freedom.”

In the years prior to Independence, he moved around the country, helping to set up an underground network of activists.  He was first put in jail in 1932 by the British; again in 1940 for 9 months and then moved into a prison camp where he fasted for nearly one month demanding the release of other prisoners.  He escaped from the camp but was re-arrested in 1943 and released only in April 1946 when negotiations between the Indian Congress leaders, especially Nehru  and the British were well under way. 

Jayaprakash Narayan had always stressed that independence could not be granted by England.  Independence could come only by a seizure of power, led especially by peasants. J.P. opposed the idea of dividing British India into India and Pakistan, but his release from prison was too late for him to have any influence on the negotiations.

Democratic Socialism.

When not in prison, he had organized a Marxist current within the Congress Movement, called the Socialist Congress Party.  Jayaprakash Narayan  had already in the mid 1930s become highly critical of the Stalinist government of the USSR, its emphasis on State-ownership of heavy industry, its collectivization of agriculture, the “Moscow trials” of former party leaders, and the efforts of Stalin to control all Marxist movements abroad.  Thus J.P. put his emphasis on what he called “Democratic Socialism” and stopped calling himself a Marxist.

J.P. by temperament was not attracted to parliamentary life with its maneuvering for power and position.  He did not stand for elections and refused an offer by Nehru to enter the government as a minister.  He was always an advocate of decentralization and the idea of local leadership in the form of “village republics”.  Thus, when a close co-workers  with Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, began the Bhoodan (land gift) movement in 1951 he joined the effort to have land owners give some of their land to the landless.  

He left the re-named Socialist Party, which in any case by 1955 had disintegrated into factions and had largely disappeared from the political scene.  J.P. also was out of sight of those interested in politics until 1974.  Then in 1974, dismayed by what he said was:

dishonesty, corruption, manipulation of the masses, naked struggle for personal power and personal gain”.

he decided to act politically.  He added:

The permissible limits have already been crossed in this country.” 

 

He called upon students to push for the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly (his home state) the Vidhan Sabhap.  He created what he called the Sampona Kranti, the Total Revolution Movement.  The movement started spreading, and the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, declared an Emergency, allowing for strong restrictions on civil liberty. Although J.P. had been close to Nehru and looked upon Indira Gandhi as his niece, he was critical of her way of functioning.  J.P. was arrested but then released because of his ill health.  The Emergency lasted from June 1975 until January 1977.

J.P.’s last years until his 1979 death were those of ill health and sadness.  There had not been a Total Revolution nor had village republics been created.

However, his goal lives on.

The problem is to put man in touch with man, so that they may live together in meaningful, understandable, controllable relationships. In short, the problem is to recreate the human community.”

Vinoba Bhave Jawaharlal Nehru with Vinoba Bhave at the Paunar Ashram. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note:

(1) Bimal Prasad. Gandhi, Nehru, and J.P. Studies in Leadership.
(
Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1985)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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

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Simone Weil Portraits of World Citizens.

Simone Weil : Roots in the Ideal.

Featured Image: Simone Weil (1909–1943) – a French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist of Jewish origin. By Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

“In the day of Victory, the angel of justice strives with the demons of violence; the heart of the victor all too easily is hardened; moderation and far-seeing wisdom appear to him weakness; the excited passion of the people, often inflamed by the sacrifices and suffering they have borne, obscure the vision even of responsible persons and make them inattentive to the warning voices of humanity and equity.”  – J. Naughton

 

Simone Weil;  who died on 24 August 1943;  was one of those warning voices writing a memo in London for General Charles DeGaulle’s;  Free French on the problems that would face France;  after the victory over Nazi occupation. 

Her memo concerning the need for humanity, non-violence, and equity;  was published after the War;  as Enracinement in French and The Need for Roots in English.  The memo;  too philosophical for people;  who were primarily concerned with the upcoming D-Day;  and the need to coordinate the different resistance movements within France;  had little impact.

No one in the Free French leadership was sure;  where Simone Weil fit into the different groups;  which had assembled in London.  The Free French officials had quickly rejected her request to be sent back to France;  to partake in armed resistance or in helping the wounded.  Simone Weil had had a short experience with armed combat;  as part of an anarchist brigade in Spain in the Civil War against Franco;  but her poor eyesight and very fragile health;  had quickly put an end to her armed participation. 

Simone Weil

Simone Weil (1909–1943) – a French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist of Jewish origin. By Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Poem of Force.

She returned from Spain convinced of the need for non-violent action;  influenced by her philosophical interest in Indian thought and the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi.  She also returned from Spain as a convinced opponent of the death penalty;  having tried to stop her anarchist co-fighters;  from executing prisoners of war and Catholic priests. Her non-violence is expressed in a powerful prose-poem ‘L’Iliade: A Poem of Force;  published in both French and English;  first under her pen name, Emile Novis.

She had begun her intellectual life as a Marxist;  but an anti-Stalinist one. As a young philosophy teacher;  she had housed Leon Trotsky in her Paris apartment;  but found Trotsky dogmatic and too willing to justify the policies of the Soviet Union even as he opposed Stalin.  Simone Weil’s Marxism was embodied in no political formation;  and was more an ideal form based on compassion;  for the fate of workers than from an expression of class struggle.  Simone Weil was above all indebted to the writings of Plato;  and her teaching was largely related to Plato and classical Greek thought.  The cave from where one only sees shadows is her image of the world;  in which we live. 

Leon Trotsky

Headshot of Russian Revolutionary political leader and author Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940), 1930s. By Лев Давидович Троцкий (1879-1940), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

She was interested in the spiritual dimensions of religion;  without ever becoming a member of an organized religion.  She came from an agnostic Jewish background.  Her brother;  André Weil;  who was able to leave France for the USA in 1941;  was a well-known mathematician;  whose career was largely spent at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton;  New Jersey.  The Institute had been created to house Albert Einstein;  and was home for a good number of theoretical mathematicians.

Joseph Stalin

 

Joseph Stalin, Secretary-general of the Communist party of Soviet Union (1942). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Osiris in Egypt and the Krishna of the Gita.

Simone Weil was interested in Taoism, Hinduism and in the person of Jesus.  As she wrote;  Osiris in Egypt and the Krishna of the Gita;  were also incarnations of the Divine.  Her views of Jesus as Prince of Peace kept her outside the Catholic Church;  but after her return from Spain;  she started meeting with Catholic intellectuals.

The most significant of these was Gustave Thibon (1903-2001);  who lived not far from where I live in Ardeche, south-central France;  but I never met him.  Simone Weil and her family had been able to leave Paris in 1940 for Marseille in what was then still “Unoccupied France” under the French government of Vichy. 

Gustave Thibon.

Simone Weil’s parents and brother left for the safety of the USA;  but she refused to leave those suffering behind.  Thus; through mutual friends in Catholic intellectual circles;  she went to live in Ardeche;  helped by Gustave Thibon. 

She left all her writings;  nearly all unpublished; with Thibon when she left Ardeche to join the Free French in London.  Thibon oversaw the publication of her writings and wrote perceptive introductions to many of them after her death.

 

Gustave Thibon was a self-taught philosopher and poet but also a wine producer;  wine being the economic base of our area. Thibon had left school at 16 at the death in the First World War of his father;  in order to help his grandfather tend the wine vines. 

Thibon remained a farmer all his life;  even after the Second World War;  when his philosophical writings became well known;  and he was often asked to give talks in different European countries.  Thibon understood the driving energy of Simone Weil;  her constant questioning of ideas and her desire to put her ideals into practice. 

Gustave Thibon

Gustave Thibon 1982. By Bohémond, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Network of Intellectual Catholics.

Gustave Thibon was part of a network of intellectual Catholics;  who were also concerned with the future of France after the war.  Along with Thibon;  the group included Louis-Joseph Lebret;  a Catholic priest;  who played a large role in creating the cooperative movement in France;  and who helped draw up the first development plans for Senegal after its independence in 1960. Francois Perroux;  whose economic ideas set the stage for the first post-war reconstruction;  and planning in France was also a member of the network.  

Although Thibon and the others were orthodox Roman Catholics;  they were united with Simone Weil in trying to build a synthesis between philosophical thought and economic conditions;  especially of the poorest and those ground down by repetitious factory work.

Simone Weil’s health, always poor, declined in London, and she died at age 34. It is only after her death that her writings in notebooks were structured into books.  Her life and writings are a prime example of the effort to establish a link between society and the direction of thought.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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