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A Man Against Time

gandhi1,417 words

Editor’s Note:

Savitri Devi met Mohandas Gandhi in India in September, 1941 and reports on part of their conversation in the second selection below. It seems probable that their meeting was preceded by correspondence, and it would be interesting to know if any correspondence survives in Gandhi’s archives. 

Although Savitri clearly disagreed with Gandhi on many issues, she nevertheless also admired him as a “man against time,” even though she regarded his “non-violence” as a deceitful form of violence, a kind of emotional blackmail. Savitri believed violence to be inevitable and indispensable in the Dark Age. Thus she did not object to Gandhi’s violence but to his deceit–as opposed to the frank and unapologetic violence that she favored.

The following texts are excerpted from Savitri Devi’s books. The title is editorial.

From The Lightning and the Sun
(Calcutta: Savitri Devi Mukherji, 1958), chapter 3

We have said: those who remain “above Time” do not resort to violence. This does not mean that all men who abstain from violence are necessarily liberated souls, living “above Time.” First, an immense number of cowards are non-violent for fear of taking risks. And they are anything but free from the bondage of Time. Then, that which one often takes for non-violence—that which actually goes under that name—is, in reality, but a subtler form of violence: pressure upon other people’s feelings, more oppressive and—when one knows, in each case, what feelings to appeal to, many a time more effective than pressure upon their bodies. The late Mahatma Gandhi’s much admired “non-violence” was of that type: moral violence; not: “Do this, or else I kill you!,” but: “Do this, or else I kill myself!” Knowing that you hold my life as indispensable. It may look “nobler.” In fact, it is just the same—apart from the difference in the technique of pressure. It is, rather, less “noble” because, precisely on account of that subtler technique, it leads people to believe that it is not violence, and therefore contains an element of deceit, an inherent falsehood, from which ordinary violence is free.

The late Mahatma Gandhi was by no means what we have tried to define as a man “above time.” He was what we shall call a man “against Time,” aiming now—far too late or . . . a little too soon—at the establishment of a tangible order of justice (Ram raj) on this earth. But, inasmuch as it lacks the frankness of brutal force, his so-called “non-violence”—moral violence—is characteristic of our epoch of dishonesty (however honest and sincere he might have been himself). It is, perhaps, the first instance in history of a disguised form of violence applied, on a broad scale, in a struggle for a good purpose. Its popularity in India can partly be credited to the fact that it was, or seemed to be, the only practical weapon in the hands of totally disarmed and, to a great extent, naturally apathetic people. But it enjoyed abroad, also, a tremendous publicity, quite out of proportion with its real value (and the late Mahatma Gandhi’s tremendous reputation of “holiness” is no less out of proportion with his real place among the great men of India). The foreigners who have done the most to popularise it are people typical of our degenerate age: people who recoil at the mere thought of any healthy and frank display of force, but who cannot even detect moral violence; men and women (especially women) of the Western Democracies, the most hypocritical half of the world. It appealed to them precisely to the extent that it was violence in disguise. Even English people (some of whom had lived in India; some of whom had, nay, occupied a high position within the ranks of British colonial officialdom) could not help admiring it. It was not that hated brutal force which other great men “against Time” had used in the course of history (or were using at our epoch) to bring about an age of justice. Oh, no!

But it surely was not, either, the non-violence of the men “above Time” who, if they cared at all to take an occasional stand against the unavoidable fall of mankind, would either use no real pressure at all to enforce their good laws—and fail, from a worldly point of view, as King Akhnaton did—or else, exert “against Time” any amount of violence that might be necessary, in the spirit of the God Who speaks, in the Bhagavad-Gita, to the Fighter for a just cause (provided the latter happens to be, like Arjuna, a Kshatriya, i.e., a warrior by race and by nature).

From Impeachment of Man
(Calcutta: Savitri Devi Mukerji, 1959), chapter 6

We know that quite a number of people nowadays are rather inclined to condemn the increasing use of machines in all walks of life. They insist, like Mahatma Gandhi, on the hardening, “soul-killing” effect of the constant handling of machinery upon the man who handles it; and they often oppose to that the natural friendship of man and of his faithful collaborators, the beasts of burden. We have seen too much of the daily distress of beasts of burden in all countries save perhaps a very few, to subscribe for a minute to the views of such incurable optimists, or to share their hopes. Men, if allowed to use animals to draw carts or to carry loads, on a broad scale, will surely overload them, overwork them and ill-treat them, in order to get out of them all the material service they possibly can for the money they spend on their food. Average men are naturally selfish and greedy and cowardly; they always were; they apparently always will be, so far as we know human nature.

In September 1941, in a half-an-hour’s interview which he was kind enough to grant us, we could not help drawing the attention of India’s saintly politician, Mahatma Gandhi, to the cause of the unfortunate horses that his followers and visitors used to hire to carry them from the Wardha railway station to Sevagram — Gandhi’s abode — and back. We pointed out to him the number of times those beasts had to run the five miles that separate the two places, tired or not, hungry or not, sick or not, drawing in their two-wheeled carriages — “tangas” — besides the driver, believers or professed believers in the Mahatma’s creed of love towards all life, whose number varied from one to six. Before leaving Wardha we had ourselves reported one of the drivers to the police for making a horse work in spite of an open wound upon its back, and we recalled the incident before the great man. Mahatma Gandhi seemed to understand our point of view and to share, to some extent, our sympathy for the exploited horses. But he knew the people with whom he had to work. He told us frankly: “I have, as it is, no real disciples. If I started criticizing those who come here for taking advantage of the ‘tangas’, I dare say, then, even the nominal ones would soon leave me, and the little good I might do would be entirely lost.”

If that be the truth about Gandhi’s own followers, then what can be expected of man in general? What can be expected of those who do not even profess to adhere to a life-centered creed? — of those who have vested interests in the exploitation of beasts of burden? Can one reasonably believe that they would be kind and merciful towards their dumb “collaborators and friends” — that they would never overload them; never force them to work when tired or sick or unwilling, as long as they believe that a contrary behavior would be more profitable to themselves, materially? Even just laws protecting the four-legged laborers would result in little good. No government can afford to maintain a policeman to watch each and every cart-driver in the street, each and every ploughman in the fields-provided we suppose an animal-loving government could exist and last before tremendous changes take place in the collective ethics of our societies. Therefore as long as certain beasts are permitted to work for man at all, it seems that there will be fifty harsh and exacting masters for one naturally kind one.

The best course of action would be, in our opinion, to reduce as far as possible, and gradually to suppress altogether, the use of animals for hard work. The development of machinery is, in that respect, helping the cause of our dumb brothers.


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  1. Alexandros Megas
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Well, Ghandi was pro-Hitler and anti-jewish.

  2. EssEm
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    As an occasional reader of CC, I find some writers quite clear and communicative and others, well, opaque. “Savitri Devi” has fallen into the latter category for me. (I also confess to a prejudice against people who make animal rights a big issue.)

    However, I was very pleased to see her assessment of The Mahatma. Others have rightly pointed out that his strategy of “non-violence” only works on certain types of Westerners, those capable of being morally conflicted about power. Our new saint, MLK, learned that lesson well, to our sorrow.

    But she puts her finger on the dishonesty in the idea itself, its passive-aggressive core:

    “The late Mahatma Gandhi’s much admired “non-violence” was of that type: moral violence; not: “Do this, or else I kill you!,” but: “Do this, or else I kill myself!” Knowing that you hold my life as indispensable. It may look “nobler.” In fact, it is just the same—apart from the difference in the technique of pressure. It is, rather, less “noble” because, precisely on account of that subtler technique, it leads people to believe that it is not violence, and therefore contains an element of deceit, an inherent falsehood, from which ordinary violence is free.”

    Of course it can only work on an opponent who is vulnerable to the game, and nine times out of ten that will be a foolish White group. Certainly during Partition, no Hindu was foolish enough to sit down on the ground and expect the Muslims to back off.

    Ghandi, along with other secular saints of noble resistance like King or (wholly undeservedly) Mandela, or even the fluffy Dalai Lama, are no friends at all to the sons of Europe. Celebrating them is celebrating your own demise. And now, in the person of Pope Francis the chatterbox, we have one who has flamboyantly turned against his own.

    Our ancestors must be writhing in anger and disbelief at our foolishness.

  3. Petronius
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    “In fact, it is just the same—apart from the difference in the technique of pressure.”

    Except for, if you don’t succeed you’re dead, which makes a lot of difference I suppose.

    Check out this classic piece of Gandhi revisionism from a Jewish pov:

    The term “Jew,” also, has a reasonably hard profile, and I feel all Jews sitting emotionally at the movie Gandhi should be apprised of the advice that the Mahatma offered their coreligionists when faced with the Nazi peril: they should commit collective suicide. If only the Jews of Germany had the good sense to offer their throats willingly to the Nazi butchers’ knives and throw themselves into the sea from cliffs they would arouse world public opinion, Gandhi was convinced, and their moral triumph would be remembered for “ages to come.” If they would only pray for Hitler (as their throats were cut, presumably), they would leave a “rich heritage to mankind.” Although Gandhi had known Jews from his earliest days in South Africa—where his three staunchest white supporters were Jews, every one—he disapproved of how rarely they loved their enemies. And he never repented of his recommendation of collective suicide. Even after the war, when the full extent of the Holocaust was revealed, Gandhi told Louis Fischer, one of his biographers, that the Jews died anyway, didn’t they? They might as well have died significantly.

  4. Fourmyle of Ceres
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Gandhi was not opposed to the use of force per se, not in the slightest. He knew the use of violence against the British was doomed to failure, absent a different political status quo.

    So, he left violence to the violent, and defined himself politically as a quiet, peaceful man of non-violence. When the opportunity was available, he filled the political vacuum from the political position of being above politics, of a higher morality – perfect 5G warfare, and an example we could all learn from.

    After all, he effectively withdrew the consent of the governed, and the motor…stopped. (Apologies to Ayn Rand.)

    Gandhi: the metapolitician, and an example we could learn from.

    • rhondda
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know if it is meta political or not. In the left it is called work to rule. That is no one does anything that is not in the job description and basically means all those little things that make things go smoothly are no longer done because it isn’t written down as part of the job. Alot of the role of servants is anticipating what the master wants you to do and doing it as part of the ingratiating subservience. If suddenly that skill disappears well what is the master to do? How can you make someone anticipate your needs? Prevarication and dissimulation then come into play too. It can be completely demoralizing. That’s what Gandhi did. He undermined the role of the British and with saintly aloofness said “who me?”

  5. Arindam
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    From an Indian perspective, Gandhi was a disaster for his own people. His non-violent tactics were a failure as far as getting independence was concerned, (for details on this matter see R.C. Majumdar’s, ‘History of the Freedom Struggle in India’ Vol. 3, as well as the following excerpt in a paper by Karl Otto Braun:

    ‘But there is another and more important achievement of the German-Japanese alliance. This was the contribution to the Indian National Liberation movement headed by Subhas Chandra Bose. (I delivered a lecture on this remarkable man and his place in history at American University in Washington, D.C. in late 1983.) Bose was President of the All-India Congress and a major figure in the struggle for Indian independence. Shortly after the outbreak of war in Europe he was imprisoned by the British in Calcutta, but he escaped and made his way to Germany via Kabul and Moscow. After a period of speaking to his country over the short wave radio station “Azid Hind” (“Free India”) from Germany, Bose wanted to go to East Asia to organize an Indian National Army. The Foreign Office appreciated his goal and we arranged a submarine voyage in coordination with the Japanese Navy. The remarkable journey was successful and Bose was well received in Tokyo by Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. Bose raised an Indian army in Singapore and Malaya which fought with Japanese forces against the British at the India-Burma border area. Years after the war the British Prime Minister Clement Atlee confessed to the Indian Chief Justice in Calcutta that it was Bose’s Indian National Army which had shattered the loyalty of the British colonial troops. The British could no longer rely on them and were forced to quit India forever.’ )

    Gandhi’s appeasement of the Muslims has extremely detrimental consequences for the Indian subcontinent which extend to this day, and it is for that reason that he was killed. Westerners don’t usually understand what motivated his killers – but there are exceptions as indicated in the following excerpt:

    Dominic Campbell’s review of Gandhi and Godse: A Review and a Critique by Koenraad Elst.

    ‘Gandhi’s pacifism was not simply a matter of denouncing violence in all its forms, it took the form (and this is what for Godse is ultimately unforgivable) of tolerating Muslim violence not despite the fact, but principally because Muslims were not Hindus. This is the familiar case of the mentality which has more understanding for the outside aggressor than for one’s own. Gandhi was not ultimately interested in what Muslims did, he was interested in how his fellow Hindus reacted to what they did. To those Hindus who suffered Muslim outrages he had the message that they would enjoy the aura of martyrdom and (by implication) the smug but not very practical awareness that they held some kind of moral ground. Appeasement has its moral consolation.’

    This is not the place to comment on Gandhi’s other antics. Suffice to say, he is one of the most overrated individuals in Indian history, (just as Subhas Chandra Bose is one of the most underrated). However, to give the devil his due, he knew how to mobilize men – but he either did not know how to lead them to victory – or deliberately led them to defeat.

  6. Lew
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone here who appreciates Devi know anything about a man named Swami Prabhupada? I ran across this article was immediately intrigued. Apparently, he founded the so-called Hare Krishna movement, but wow. Take 2 -3 minutes to read this article and learn his views on matters racial including Jews and Hitler.

    From what I can gather, Pradhupada saw his mission as winning/converting white people to the ancient beliefs of their ancestors. A bit of searching around shows that some people believe his movement was infiltrated and subverted by Jews and that he was ultimately poisoned with arsenic by a Jew.

    • Jaego
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      Yes all true. His disciples have covered all this up, but such views are common in India. He was also prescient about the future of America saying that immorality and fiat currency would be the end of us. But Prabhupad, his disciples would say, look at how prosperous America is. He would say just wait a bit and you will see. He also emphasized the ever changing nature of the material world saying that America was controlled by Whites now but in a few centuries someone else may be in charge.

      Nevertheless, as a Swami he believed the Soul was beyond any and all physical or social identities. And he felt that chanting Hare Krishna was the Yuga Dharma, the spiritual practice of this fallen age. Thus he could not turn any away and really believed that the Vedic Process could elevate Blacks and purify Jews if they were sincere. Chanting Hare Krishna was the for the most fallen of Beings – and all are fallen in Kali Yuga, the last and most degraded of the four ages.

      He criticized Gandhi for not teaching the real Bhagavad Gita. And he was no pacifist. Interestingly, apparently Gandhi wasn’t either in his early days – he was actually a decorated veteran who had fought against the Blacks in South Africa.

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