Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gandhi, Socrates and satyagraha, pt 2



For the first post on Gandhi, Socrates and satyagraha, see here.

I underlined there two crucial similarities between Gandhi and Socrates. The first is an explicit willingness to seek and stand for the truth even at the cost of one's life. It is this point which Gandhi emphasizes in his "Story of a Soldier of Truth," his translation into Gujerati of Plato's Apology. See here.

Second, Gandhi believed in personal experiments with truth which resemble Socrates's questioning. He engaged in these experiments both in his life and in the movement against English colonial oppression in South Africa and India. One does not possess, but seeks the truth.

But a qualification of this last comparison is important. In response to the Delphic oracle, Socrates realized that he had to test those reputed to be wise by questioning. This inspired hatred against him, the "old slanders" of the Apology (registered in Aristophanes' The Clouds) and helped provide a backdrop for those who voted to kill him (a slight - 60 vote majority - in a limited, one-day trial).

Despite being moved by Socrates, Gandhi did not so much question or challenge individuals and was no practitioner of philosophy (he started from a religious outlook and moved into politics from it.)*

Still, Gandhi built a movement of satygrahis and others to combat British rule or to challenge the movement he led (as in his hunger strike against the Hindu slaughters of Muslims in 1947). He thus made nonviolence, more than Jesus did, a movement for political change. Socrates defended toleration of philosophy within a democracy (prefiguring, to some extent, later ideas of toleration of individual conscience) and was, in this sense, profoundly political. As I have suggested, he pits a common good or what we call individual rights-sustaining democracy (individual rights are equal basic rights: a common good) against McCarthyism or lynch-mob "democracy," in Rousseau's idiom a general will against a will of all. See here and here.

In contrast to Gandhi, Socrates's are individual actions and not in service of trying to build a movement.

As a third commonality, Socrates says, "I dwell in utter poverty because of my service to the God." (Apology, 23c). Note how close the unspecified God is in this statement, one which Gandhi took in and which recalls a theme of the Autobiography. Note how the God (removed from the city's gods, whom Socrates was put to death for supposedly disbelieving) is close to Gandhi's conception which is, in no way, distinctively Hindu. For a long time, particularly in England and South Africa, Gandhi flirted with Christianities.

God is truth for Gandhi (more exactly, seeking truth), and he resonated to this also in Socrates...

One meaning of Socrates's poverty is that Socrates did not have many needs (see Xenophon’s Defense of Socrates at his Trial for a caricature version of this idea and Alcibiades's drunken speech in the Symposium for a clearer one). Socrates sought to live a life contained in his questioning and conversations, with life’s pleasures being the pleasure of relationship.

In India, Gandhi would associate himself with the poor and the outcastes or the children of God (the harijans) as he renamed them. As his Autobiography reveals, Gandhi, a stranger in England, long struggled with upper class garb. When he went to South Africa and fought against racism, this question – whether he was a lawyer and would-be Englishman, an Asian assimilating to the elite and dressing at least as a parsi, one of the privileged over untouchables and blacks despite his sympathies – remained. Suits were a political choice. He eventually shed them.

Gandhi also exercised, pretty unself-critically, patriarchal authority over his wife (an aspect of traditional Hinduism, along with the core caste system, untouchability excepted, of which he was, misguidedly, no critic):

“I therefore determined the style of dress for my wife and children. How could I like them to be known as Kathiawad Banias? The Parsis used then to be regarded as the most civilized people amongst Indians, and so, when the complete European style seemed to be unsuited, we adopted the Parsi style. Accordingly my wife wore the Parsi sari, and the boys the Parsi coat and trousers. Of course no one could be without shoes and stockings. It was long before my wife and children could get used to them. The shoes cramped their feet and the stockings stank with perspiration. The toes often got sore. I always had my answers ready to all these objections. But I have an impression that it was not so much the answers as the force of authority that carried conviction. They agreed to the changes in dress, as there was no alternative. In the same spirit and with even more reluctance they adopted the use of knives and forks. When my infatuation for these signs of civilization wore away, they gave up the knives and forks. After having become long accustomed to the new style, it was perhaps no less irksome for me to return to the original mode. But I can see today that we feel all the freer and lighter for having cast off the tinsel of 'civilization'.” Autobiography, p. 119.

Gandhi shed the garb of an English lawyer, and dressed in India with peasant simplicity to fight the oppression and degradation of colonialism, mocking Churchill who derided him as a "naked little fakir." (Gandhi also recommended the panchayat system of village organization and a return to traditional as opposed to industrial and urban ways). This is often seen as a distinctively nationalist move on Gandhi’s part, and mocked, for example, even by my teacher Barrington Moore, as anti-industrial.

But in Gandhi's translating the Apology, one can also discern a strong Socratic element in this style.

And as a less significant point, he admired medieval Catholic civilization and tried to unite with the older "West" against modernity (cities, industrialism). In Bhikhu Parekh's apt phrase from Talking Politics, he engaged in a multicultural dialogue of which Socrates (and to a lesser extent, Tolstoy, Thoreau and Jesus) were a part.

The image of Socrates is of a poor man but one of intense thought, happiness (in the sense of eudaimonia) and amusement (irony) who is supported, to some large extent by his followers (he is, as it were, one of the guardians imaged in the Republic). See here. There are perhaps, as Hilary Putnam has suggested to me, some traces of the ashram prefigured in action as well as the argument of the Republic. In any case, in the Apology, Gandhi apparently found the description of Socrates congenial.

Meditating on the passage from the Apology about Socrates's poverty set Gandhi on a path, which later also turned out to identify with peasants and outcastes and be in service to humanity, partly for Socratic reasons.

As another illustration, When Gandhi left South Africa, Indians showered him with gifts for leading the protest against discrimination. He fought with his wife about not keeping them, and instead selling them to raise money for his coming political efforts in India. He insisted on personal austerity. That, too, is an approximation of Socrates.

"At this time I was intimately connected only with Natal. The Natal Indians bathed me with the nectar of love. Farewell meetings were arranged at every place, and costly gifts were presented to me."

"The evening I was presented with the bulk of these things, I had a sleepless night. I walked up and down my room deeply agitated, but could find no solution. It was difficult for me to forego gifts worth hundreds, it was more difficult to keep them.And even if I could keep them, what about my children? What about my wife? They were being trained to a life of service, and to an understanding that service was its own reward."

"I had no costly ornaments in the house. We had been fast simplifying our life. How then could we afford to have gold watches? How could we afford to wear gold chains and diamond rings? Even then I was exhorting people to conquer the infatuation for jewellery. What was I now to do with the jewellery that had come upon me? I decided that I could not keep these things. I drafted a letter, creating a trust of them in favour of the community and appointing Parsi Rustomji and others trustees. In the morning I held a consultation with my wife and children and finally got rid of the heavy incubus."

"I knew that I should have some difficulty in persuading my wife, and I was sure that I should have none so far as the children were concerned. So I decided to constitute them my attorneys." (pp. 141-42)

Gandhi then draws the apt political conclusion: "I am definitely of opinion that a public worker should accept no costly gifts." (p. 142)

So giving one’s life for truth and what is good morally speaking, seeking the truth rather than arrogantly imagining one possesses it, and living simply or as one of the poor are three great commonalities of Gandhi and the Socrates of the Apology.

Fourth, one might invoke the Phaedo in which Socrates is most a spirit or soul against the body. Here, perhaps most strongly in all the dialogues (Socrates converses with Pythagoreans and is about to drink the hemlock), there is a common subordination with Gandhi of desires. Socrates distinguished himself, a seeker of truth who took no money for teaching, from sophists who taught but for the money's sake and were helpful to customers only in the prize fight of law courts.

To pursue the soul's purposes and the truth without other (or false) motivations was Gandhi's purpose as it was Socrates'. To cultivate the true or intrinsic reasons for activities, not to hide in money or power, and to experience mortality nakedly and as something near, to be prepared for, were also among things they shared.

Fifth, in the Symposium, Alcibiades drunkenly styles Socrates a Silenus, ugly on the outside but beautiful on the inside (full of beautiful statues…). In a brief philosophical exchange about truth and beauty, Gandhi reveals deep awareness of the Symposium***:

"`But cannot Truth be separated from Beauty,' Ramachandran asked, 'and Beauty Truth?'

'I should want to know exactly what is Beauty,' Gandhiji replied. 'If it is what people often understand by that word, then they are wide apart. Is a woman with fair features necessarily beautiful?' [there is some automatic sexism here]

'Yes" replied Ramachandran without thinking.

'Even' asked Bapu, continuing his question, 'if she may be of an ugly character?'

Ramachandran hesitated. 'But her face in that case cannot be beautiful'.

'You are begging the whole question,' Gandhiji replied. 'You now admit that mere outward form may not make a thing beautiful. To a true artist only that face is beautiful which quite apart from its exterior shines with the truth within the soul. There is then, as I have said, no Beauty aside from Truth. On the other hand, truth may manifest itself in forms which have no outward beauty at all. Socrates, we are told, was the most truthful man of his time and yet his features are said to have been the ugliest in Greece. To my mind, he was beautiful because he was struggling after truth. ...Truth is the first thing to be sought for, and beauty and goodness will then be added to you. To me he was beautiful because all his life was a striving after truth'" ("Indian Problems" in Homer Jack, ed., The Gandhi Reader, pp. 174-75).

In the description of Eros in Plato's Symposium, poverty is connected to cycling desolation and resourcefulness in seeking love (and in Socrates's case, seeking truth).

Now Socrates was less self-mortifying about sexuality than Gandhi, despite the care which he took – for instance, Alcibiades's drunken description of trying to seduce Socrates in the Symposium and how Alcibiades failed. Alcibiades speaks of Socrates acting like a father. That example may have been involved in some of Gandhi’s thinking. And Socrates' view of physical lovemaking in Phaedrus as deficient is suggestive of Gandhi. Gandhi regarded his “lustfulness” as a curse in marriage and took a vow of Bramacharya in 1906 against sex which may have lasted the rest of his life.

In Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India (2011), however, Joseph Lelyveld has unearthed a passionate relationship with Hermann Kallenbach, a German jewish architect and body-builder who shared many of Gandhi's values, shortly after Gandhi took a vow of celibacy. That Gandhi had a strong streak of bisexuality (or may perhaps have been mainly homosexual in inclination) is, of course, also similar to Socrates.

Amusingly, Diotima, the Mantinean prophetess whom Socrates conjures to interrogate him about love in the Symposium, counsels Socrates about the joys of boy-love. She speaks in accord with Socrates's inclination, to help him ascend to the idea of beauty. One might recall Phaedrus here, where the images of love and the god who presides over it are shaped by the psyche of the lover/worshipper.

Plato puts this discourse on love into the words of Diotima partly because she shows that Eros is not a god, a backhanded acknowledgment of a grain of truth in the "democrats'" charge - but an in-between creature, manifesting by turns poverty/lack (penia, his mother) and resourcefulness and abundance (poros, his father), a bit like Socrates. In Phaedrus, Socrates had become aware, at least metaphorically, of offending the god Eros. The development between the twin dialogues on love in which, subsequently, Eros is denied to be a god in the Symposium is revealing less about the meaning of the charge - its undermining of Socrates's surface piety - than in the idea of a long ascent, both being within ordinary situations and relationships and outside of/beyond them, and the relentless striving of love (and philosophy)...

Socrates, too, had children, as he remarks in the Apology, and in other cases of lovers, was not obviously “Platonic.” So Socrates may be a bit closer than Gandhi to Hindu temple statuary...

These five similarities reveal that Gandhi was profoundly drawn to the story of Socrates. And of course, King mentions Socrates three times in the Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (see my "Do philosophers counsel tyrants?," Constellations, May 2009 here.**

Socrates was thus a paradigm of nonviolence - even though, as the Apology and Symposium underline, he served in the Athenian wars - for these two founders of the twentieth century movement.

Going further than Socrates or his predecessors, Gandhi developed satyagraha as a political tool. And there is another difference between Gandhi and Socrates. As Hegel says rightly in his 1819-1820 version of the lectures on the Philosophy of Right, Christ preached for the poor. Against previous Hinduism with the caste system, a model of inequality to be conquered for Gandhi only by transmigration of souls across lifetimes - hardly a conquest in reality) and reshaping it for the harijans (the children of god), Gandhi took up this idea. Gandhi not not only lived in poverty, he saw himself as among the poor and sought to serve them, to lead a movement among them (this is with the caveat that he did not look to the black poor in South Africa and that his affection for the children of god did not include actually organizing them or supporting their efforts to form a constituency among the voters for the British (see Perry Anderson's recent essays in the London Review of Books here and here).

Socrates, comparatively had little concern for the poor. But one can overemphasize this distinction. What Socrates did, when put on trial for his life, was to fight for what is decent in democracy, for the maintenance of philosophy and thus toleration (not that he would have put it this way; that would come 2000 years later), for a non-Meletus-like or non-McCarthyist democracy (this is a side which I.F. Stone should have identified with, but missed - see here, here, here, and here). There is nothing anti-democratic in despising the Ku Klux Klan (and one can try to heal Klan members though stopping them and conversation – though putting them out of business is the primary obligation).

Deterring persecutions for questioning, which is also the core of democratic dissidence, might benefit the poor.

Further, in the Meno, Socrates's conversation with a slave (any slave) shows that under questioning and learning from his mistakes, that person could prove an advanced theorem of Greek geometry (Socrates infers that he had the learning from eternity, not-forgetting or inadequately translated, remembering - "recollecting"). This process shows the master's ideology of a putative distinction between bodies and minds to be abjectly false and is a radically abolitionist argument. But this central insight of the Meno is glaringly ignored in Strauss's semester-long course on the Meno (h/t Mike Goldfield; perhaps this is not surprising, however, given Strauss's reactionary politics...). This passage shows, however, that Socrates at least broadly prefigures Gandhi in sympathies, even though he did not envision or engage in a political movement.

Still, in contrast to Socrates, Gandhi saw service to the poor as vital to self-realization. He identified this with service to truth.

One should also qualify Gandhi's vision as, to some extent, a goal or aspiration. In South Africa as Joseph Lelyveld has emphasized, he did not reach out to blacks (and may have looked down on them in the pro-British way widespread common among Asians - see Yasmin Alibhai Brown's account of this issue in her Nowhere to Belong: Tales of an Extravagant Stranger here). And though Gandhi emphasized the untouchables, he was not able to organize among them. There is of course a sharp limit, in even the most revolutionary situations, to how much actual organizing and breaking down of barriers any individual can inspire or lead. Lelyveld's biography - a creative, non-radical journalist who has no experience of organizing, let alone innovating a whole new way of organizing - is too harsh on Gandhi.

In this fundamental respect - of organizing or seeking to organize a nonviolent movement among the poor - Gandhi made Socrates deeper. But noticing the political impact of Socrates – the way in which the Socrates archetype shaped the story of Jesus (especially in Greek orthodox Christianity) – is also important. To seek the truth, to fight for virtue (for instance, to oppose the hubris of imperial wars, of self-destruction, of a democracy which is less than virtuous in the sense of not waging only wars of self-defense) is of course also a form of public service.***

In this way, Gandhi (and Jesus and Marx) all explicate implications of Socrates or develop him further.

Before discovering Gandhi's translation of the Apology into Gujerati, I had written quite a lot on Gandhi and Socrates both on the nature of non-violence and as an alternative to the reactionary interpretation of Socrates (and Plato) – the Nazi vision of Martin Heidegger,**** and, to a large extent, certainly vigorously in the early 1930s and till well into his arrival in America, Leo Strauss.***** Strauss equates Socrates with Xenophon’s Socrates as an anti-democrat, a view ironically shared by IF Stone.

In contrast, I emphasize that questioning and dissent are ingredient to democracy and that the alternate view extols McCarthyism as "democracy" (in Stone’s case, from whom I have learned a lot, this is truly a startling misconception). But more deeply, nonviolence and civil disobedience are the basis of a decent regime, of making a democracy serve a common good. These are different paths though the woods, as Heidegger would say, of life and politics. The intimacy of the connections between Socrates and Gandhi and the sharpness of the alternatives is visible here.

Gandhi, who wished to treat even enemies as having souls and thus capable, if stopped, of learning, is also Aristotelian in the sense of thinking about how to transform conflict (there is no evidence that he read Aristotle, however). To say that anti-Nazism or common good-sustaining democracy and internationalism is the sharpest alternative to Heidegger and Strauss is not to say that the most violent forms of anti-Nazi resistance are the way to go. I prefer Nelson Mandela (also learning profoundly from Gandhi's experience in South Africa) and Truth and Reconciliation; it is the only future for humanity if there is to be a future….

***

*Anderson has a learned, instructive and often subtle pair of long essays on "Gandhi Centre Stage," London Review of Books, July 5, 2012, and "Why Partition?," July 19, 2012. See here and here. The essays focus on some of Gandhi's weaknesses in fostering the Hinduism which was ingredient to the slaughters along the border and his willingness to accept some communal violence as a price of independence and peace. Anderson wishes to disabuse the cult of Gandhi in England - where non-hagiographical accounts of Gandhi are ignored in the press - and this is admirable. But one also needs to take in Gandhi, and his essays do not really do so, are moved too much by distance and aversion.

As Anderson suggests, Gandhi was a courteous correspondent but (usually) not one to take apart another's argument. But he misguidedly then trivializes Gandhi"s invention of satyagrapha and its roots (which he does not recognize) in Gandhi's study of Socrates.

Not noticing that Gandhi actually created a nonviolent movement as a political force - a pretty big deal - Anderson initially suggests that Gandhi merely reworded Tolstoy on passive resistance. He then concludes:

"Satyagraha had not been a success: each time Gandhi had tried it, the British had seen it off. His great achievement lay elsewhere, in the creation of a nationalist party, whose road to power forked away in another direction. For in the end independence did not come from passive resistance, let alone sexual abstinence, individual or universal. It was the result of two other dynamics. The first was the broadening of the electoral machinery first introduced by the British in 1909, and expanded in 1919. Designed originally as a safety valve to co-opt a native elite, and disregarded by Congress as long as Gandhi set its course, it remained the standby of the Raj as nationalist pressures mounted. In 1929, a scheduled ten-year review of the system set in place after the First World War fell due and, undeflected by civil disobedience, issued after three Round Table Conferences in the Government of India Act of 1935, the longest bill ever passed by the British Parliament. At the outset, Halifax had made a public promise of eventual dominion status, lifting India to the position of Australia or Canada as a self-governing state within the empire, date unspecified."

King, I guess, and others who have made organized mass civil disobedience a determined alternative in other struggles just missed the central point of Gandhi which Anderson has grasped (see Sudarshan Kapur, Raising up a Prophet about the study of Gandhi for 35 years by black dissidents in America before the emergence of King). Even were Anderson's claim true, this would mistake Gandhi's errors or secondary features (the nationalism, even modified by Gandhi's pursuit of unity with Muslims, is less original and but provisional - against the evil of colonialism but not ultimately emancipatory) for the significance and promise, in world history, as an alternative to violence and human self-destruction (combine global warming and American militarism, and think about where it may lead) of satyagraha.

Anderson is also one-sided on Badshah Khan, the leader of the Red Shirts (he was a major nonviolent ally of Gandhi among Muslims, the creator of a vast movement in Northwest India, not just a critic of Gandhi's weaknesses). Anderson also notes that Gandhi called off, by himself, the vast movement to achieve swaraj because of the violent response of some of his followers to three police murders. He then remarks abstractly that Gandhi sometimes supported violence (Britain in wars; possible communal violence after independence), to say that he was irrationally contradictory. But it is Anderson who fails to give any account of the particular settings or line of thinking about context in which Gandhi said this. For instance, it is doubtful that Gandhi ever imagined any violence on the scale of the communal slaughters.

Sometimes, there are good criticisms of Gandhi to be offered. But failing to specify context and thinking it enough to show that Gandhi sometimes tolerated violence, Anderson does not offer a good argument.

Though Anderson also acknowledges Gandhi's fasts against the slaughters, he blames what he overemphasizes as carelessness or "listening to whatever voices came into his head" on Gandhi's part for the murderous Hinduism of partition. But this is self-contradictory, since Anderson also notes that Gandhi - mistakenly, he rightly says - endorsed the khalifat movement in an effort to reach out for Hindu-Muslim unity, as, similarly, he endorsed Ali Jinnah to be President of a united India. Instead, Anderson oddly makes Gandhi, more even than the British, responsible for the massive slaughter along the borders of Pakistan and India. One would think it would be bad enough to show that Gandhi had some responsibility...

For an English Marxist, to be soft on English imperialism and divide and rule in India - those primarily responsible for the slaughters - and goad Indians for being overly "nationalist" about India at the beginning of his essay, is bad form...

Now all of this might make one sympathetic to Mao and the movement from below in China (though Anderson isn't particularly), but the defeat of radicalism in China and the danger of making the earth uninhabitable through militarism and global warming, as well as the power of Arab spring, Occupy and the indignados in Spain, inter alia, should make one skeptical about one-sided criticisms of Gandhi. It would be good if Occupy and Arab spring, particularly in Egypt today which is at a bad point of violence of the Muslim League against Christians and restoring the wall with Gaza in response to murderous, counterproductive Hamas violence against Egyptian soldiers, learned the organizational/tactical lessons of nonviolence and could organize renewed campaigns...

That the nonviolent boycott and divestment campaign is just taking off and "wrong footing" Israel, reveals the hollowness, if not worse, of what Hamas is doing.

Gandhi was a human being, not a saint (there are none). He invented a great political strategy - even though he often failed in implementing it. Anderson's concluding idea that Gandhi's was just a politics of intention a la Weber and that one can't judge it (his essay's frequent fury at Gandhi is disproof of this claim) as opposed to one of (ir)responsibility (Nehru) is also foolish. Weber was a great power realist - the only "responsibility" that interested him - and a German imperialist. and so the choice of terms, though widely fashionable in America and Britain, is both misguided in this case, and bizarre, for a radical, as to political preference (compare the critique of Weber in Democratic Individuality, ch. 12).

In his worst moment, Anderson says:

"Such is the record. To read it as evidence of mere hypocrisy on Gandhi’s part would be a mistake. There can be no doubt that he was, so far as he himself went, sincere enough in his commitment to non-violence. But as a political leader, his conception of himself as a vessel of divine intention allowed him to escape the trammels of human logic or coherence. Truth was not an objective value – correspondence to reality, or even (in a weaker version) common agreement – but simply what he subjectively felt at any given time. ‘It has been my experience,’ he wrote, ‘that I am always true from my point of view.’[the first point of these two essays about a commonality with Socrates in seeking truth suggests some shallowness of appreciation here]. His autobiography was subtitled The Story of My Experiments with Truth, as if truth were material for alteration in a laboratory, or the plaything of a s√©ance. In his ‘readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment’, he was freed from any requirement of consistency. ‘My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements,’ he declared, but ‘with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment’: ‘since I am called “Great Soul” I might as well endorse Emerson’s saying that “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”’ The result was a licence to say whatever he wanted, regardless of what he had said before, whenever he saw fit."

"The effects of such a conviction on the political culture of the movement that he led could not but be corrupting. Admirers point out that Gandhi nearly always replied, calmly and courteously, often with a touch of wit, to anyone who wrote to him, high or low. He was an impeccable correspondent. But to real intellectual exchange he was a stranger. He was trained as a British barrister, and argued like one, as a lawyer not a thinker, changing his brief from day to day. The condition of this ductility was not fees but faith. His religious belief in himself was rock-like, impervious to doubt or objection, guaranteeing in the final resort that all he said, no matter how apparently contradictory, formed a single bloc of truth, as so many scattered words of God. For while he modified or diluted or inverted positions as time went by, enabling a vast industry of later glossators to represent him as transcending earlier limitations in a spiritual progress towards ever greater political wisdom, he rarely disavowed directly anything significant he had once said or written. Even his ardour for the wars of British imperialism, for which he was reproached by those who had opposed them, elicited no regret: he had sincerely believed in the honourable intentions of the empire, and it was not his fault if it had failed to live up to them. Hind Swaraj, its battery of archaisms a stumbling-block to those who pointed out that he was using railways and doctors and not actually rejecting schools, he defended to the end, writing in 1945 that he still stood by its system of government. Characteristically, he added: ‘It is not necessary for me to prove the rightness of what I said then. It is essential only to know what I feel today.’ Throughout his career in India, he claimed both to rise above consistency – growing ‘from truth to truth’, it was to his latest version that the world should attend – and unswervingly to embody it. ‘Whenever I have been obliged to compare my writing even of fifty years ago with the latest, I have discovered no inconsistency between the two.’"

**A few years ago, I changed my view of Plato's relationship to Socrates. See here.

***Committed to nonviolence, Gandhi was confused about wars, serving medically in the Boer War and World War I (in war except for being against aggression and against Gandhi's core insight, one often does not suffer wickedness but does wickedness to others...). But during World War II, with more clarity, Gandhi opposed the Empire and was jailed for the Quit India movement.

His letter of counsel of nonviolence to Hitler, however, a reflection of hubris and silliness emphasized by Anderson, is his weakest moment.

****As Heidegger says revealingly about his Platonic (though false to Plato) Nazism in his 1943 Essence of Truth: Plato's Cave-Metaphor and the Theatetus:

“We must now see if what has been said can be verified from Plato’s own presentation. With this intention we turn to the final section of book VI of the Republic. In regard to the ‘state’ (as we somewhat inappropriately translate polis) and its inner possibility, Plato maintains as his first principle that the authentic guardians of human association in the unity of the polis must be those who philosophize. He does not mean that philosophy professors are to become chancellors of the state, but that philosophers are to become phylaches, guardians. Control and organization of the state is to be undertaken by philosophers, who set standards and rules in accordance with their widest and deepest, freely inquiring knowledge, thus determining the general course society should follow."(paragraph 13, p. 73). See here.

*****Heidegger's follower, Leo Strauss, was profoundly anti-industrial, wanting to recover traditional practices and settings against "the last men," and this is a tone in Allan Bloom as well.

2 comments:

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