Today we discuss Bernie Sanders in 2020 and Mahatma Gandhi in the anti-colonial struggle. Strong comments came for “The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity.” We also received a few substantive comments on radio segment “Gandhi’s Struggle Relevant to 21stCentury Anti-Imperialism”and “Philadelphia to Celebrate Mahatma Gandhi and the Black Freedom Movement.” [These pieces refer to an initiative this writer is involved in. This writer authored the latter piece]
“The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity” by Glen Ford argues that the main threat to the ruling class in the 2020 election is the possible victory of Bernie Sanders.
Mary Wentworth writes:
“It seems that at this point, the oligarchs have given up on Biden, the 24/7 foot-in-mouth candidate, and are giving their attention to Elizabeth Warren, the Bernie-lite candidate, who, they believe, can take a lot of votes away from Bernie. She has proposed her own remedy for healthcare which would leave the private insurers in charge. She likes free college tuition — but only for those attending community colleges. She tweaks the system here and there but wants it known that she is a capitalist and a reformer — not a socialist. She is the lone “heavy” in the first debate next week. It will be interesting to see how far the oligarchs will go with her.
“I recall how the Washington insider candidates — Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards as well as Kucinich — got together right before the Iowa caucuses to plan how they could take down Howard Dean, the frontrunner but a Washington outsider. Their plotting worked out beautifully. Maybe, there will be a repeat of this by some of the other candidates to prevent Bernie from sweeping the Iowa caucuses this year.”
David Schaff writes:
“Glen Ford's ‘The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity’ reminded me of a quote by Karl Marx: ‘The English bourgeoisie has always shown itself ready to accept the decision of the majority as long as it commanded a monopoly at the polls. But you may be surer that as soon as it finds itself in a minority in questions which it considers crucial, we will see a new civil war.’
“This interview with Karl Marx was conducted by R. Landor on July 3, 1871 and was published in the New York World on July 18, 1871.”
In “Philadelphia to Celebrate Mahatma Gandhi and the Black Freedom Movement” Jahan Choudhry provides an analysis of Gandhi’s importance as an anti-colonial theorist and leader in light of a Philadelphia campaign to commemorate him in his 150thbirth anniversary.
Dharshini Joseph writes:
“The mythologizing of Gandhi continues but we have his own words and actions, not speculation, that demonstrate his virulent racism and staunch opposition to championing the rights of the most oppressed of society. During his time in South Africa, the young Gandhi was outraged that Indians were discriminated by whites. More specifically, he found it disgraceful that Indians would be lumped together with, in his own words, Kaffirs – black African savages. Gandhi wrote of racial purity and that the Kaffirs were racially inferior to Indians like himself. He insisted that the Indian descendants of the Indo-Aryan race, were closer to the ruling whites. In fact, Gandhi’s political activism not only centered on distinguishing Indians from black Africans but establishing political and economic alliances between upper caste Indians and the white ruling imperialist class. During the Zulu rebellion, it was no surprise that Gandhi volunteered for the British imperialist army.
“Gandhi is known for his fight to gain India’s independence from imperialist rule. At the same time, like his efforts in South Africa, Gandhi allied with Indian industrialists of his own upper caste, securing their economic and political foothold. Today, while there is extreme economic inequality, the upper caste in India own all industries, from mining to media.”
Youri Smouter writes:
“While we should honor Gandhi and his epic contribution to ending colonialism in India all through non violence and civil disobedience, as well as his modest support for a secular society in India and trying not to have Pakistan secede and his later influence on MLK JR and others. Let's not lionize and put him up as an infallible deity. Gandhi arguably was part of the Indian Misleadership class that downplayed the issue of caste and the Dalits and often times while claiming to want to abolished acted as controlled opposition to it.”
Jahan Choudhry responds:
“These allegations against the Mahatma produced by Western and Westernized Indian intellectuals with little connection to the Indian masses are widespread among activists today. They consist largely of isolating and twisting moments from Gandhi’s early years of activism ignoring his evolution into a premier anti-colonial leader. In many ways, they echo attacks on African American leaders such as Martin Luther King and W.E.B. Du Bois and serve as an assault on the tradition of the unity of Pan-Africa and Pan-Asia. Much of the criticism about Gandhi’s views on caste are from Arundhati Roy’s essay entitledthe Doctor and the Saint. I refer readers to Rajmohan Gandhi’s rebuttalfor a correction of the historical record. As for the criticism of his time in South Africa I refer readers to noted Indian apartheid activist E.S. Reddy’s piece on this topicplacing young Gandhi’s views into the context of his political transformation.”
In radio segment “Gandhi’s Struggle Relevant to 21stCentury Anti-Imperialism”Dr. Anthony Monteiroargues that activists must look to Gandhi to complete the movement from colonialism and imperialism to freedom, justice, and socialism.
Walter Murph writes:
“My humble criticism is in regards to your recent radio report with Dr. Anthony Monteiro . You & Dr Monteiro discussed the upcoming year of Gandhi, the focus of Monteiro”s Saturday school program. I know you must know that Gandhi was as ardent Hindu nationalists & no friend of the African. Gandhi, while living in South Africa was documented as believing Africans to be inferior & savage. Gandhi was a supportive of the backwards & criminal caste system that oppressed the Dalits. As an elderly man he tested his sexual abstinence by sleeping with his naked nieces. I respectfully refer you & Monteiro to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s book Annihilation of Caste, edited by Arundhati Roy. Ambedkar is the true hero & progressive of India.”
Dr. Anthony Monteiroresponds:
“Your allegations against Gandhi are not new nor do they carry the force of truth although they are treated as such. In this time for many truth matters little; certainly not as much as the volume with which claims are asserted and the extent to which they are embraced by the enemies of the anti-colonial, peace and socialist movements. You repeat what you have heard from petty bourgeois and pro-imperialist academics, public intellectuals and politicians. However the point is history, particularly the history of the dark nations of the world. Gandhi led the Indian anti-colonial movement and is considered by the majority of Indians as “the father of the nation.” The victory in India resonated throughout Asia and Africa, from Indonesia to Ghana and South Africa. Independent India rose to the head of the Non-Aligned, or Bandung Movement of colonized and former colonized nations. Its example encouraged the former colonized nations to go beyond political independence and to move towards socialism as a major step towards complete freedom against neo-colonialism. The victory of India was viewed by the colonized masses worldwide as part and parcel of their common struggle for peace and freedom. The Indian anti-colonial struggle and Gandhi himself were likewise embraced by the vanguard of the African American struggle as early as the 1920’s. This united front continued through the civil rights movement and we in the Year of Gandhi are continuing that spirit and legacy today. I encourage you to visit our website theyearofgandhi2019.org for further information on this relationship
“Lastly, the anti-colonial struggle was and is incomplete. As is the Black freedom movement. Their completion is the essence of the fight against war, neo-colonialism and imperialism. Some, however, take its incompleteness as reason to abandon its mission and achievements. Most on that side of the struggle were never a part of any struggle whatsoever. Such people like Arundhati Roy are bourgeois liberals in love with the West. They believe the future of humanity is with the West and its civilization. India and the darker races, they believe, at best should ape the West. In this regard they have gone over completely to the side of neo-liberal capitalism and imperialism. Like them your attacks upon Gandhi are nothing short of attacks upon the anti-colonial movement and the continuing struggle against imperialism. In the end, all of this is about history and what side of history we’re on; and our responsibility to history. No amount of personal attacks upon the acknowledged leaders of the people can obscure this reality.”
Serious debates such as these on the question of anti-colonialism are sadly missing from progressive thought today. Let us continue thinking through the self-determination of the darker nations on these pages.
Jahan Choudhryis Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA
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