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Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.

Why would the Indians be playing cricket in the first place? Presumably, because they can be criticized by an Australian cricketer and told to speak English.

An apparently trivial incident in the apparent scheme of things. I suppose that cricketers represent Australia because they are good players, not cultural ambassadors. Perhaps they are truer representatives than they imagine.

M.K. Gandhi had a few thoughts on the political and economic system that the British had established in India. He is a far more comprehensive political theorist than I ever imagined. He advocated local self-sufficiency, an India of independent villages. He argued that a carpenter, and especially a farmer, should be paid as much as a lawyer. I am not sure what he thought about doctors, although I imagine he would have acknowledged their special importance.

Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk, reviews Gandhi’s concept of local village self-sufficiency(swadeshi) in “The Case Against the Global Economy( edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith.), by observing:

Gandhi’s vision of a free India was not a nation-state but a confederation of self-governing, self-reliant, self-employed people living in village communities, deriving their right livelihood from the products of their homesteads. Maximum economic and political power – including the power to decide what could be imported into or exported from the village – would remain in the hands of the village assemblies.

. . .
According to the principle of swadeshi, whatever is made or produced in the village must be used first and foremost by the members of the village. Trading among villages and between villages and towns should be minimal, like icing on the cake. Goods and services that cannot be generated within the community can be bought from elsewhere.

Swadeshi avoids economic dependence on external market forces that could make the village community vulnerable. It also avoids unnecessary, unhealthy, wasteful, and therefore environmentally destructive transportation. The village must build a strong economic base to satisfy most of its needs, and all members of the village community should give priority to local goods and services.

Every village community of free India should have its own carpenters, shoemakers, potters, builders, mechanics, farmers, engineers, weavers, teachers, bankers, merchants, traders, musicians, artists, and priests. In other words, each village should be a microcosm of India – a web of loosely inter-connected communities. Gandhi considered these villages so important that he thought they should be given the status of “village republics”.

Scientific Management, individualism and mass production have a lot to answer for, and are integral to the the history of war, colonization, imperialism and poverty that are characteristic of the contemporary world.

The British believed in centralized, industrialized, and mechanized modes of production. Gandhi turned this principle on its head and envisioned a decentralized, homegrown, hand-crafted mode of production. In his words, “Not mass production, but production by the masses.”

By adopting the principle of production by the masses, village communities would be able to restore dignity to the work done by human hands. There is an intrinsic value in anything we do with our hands, and in handing over work to machines we lose not only the material benefits but also the spiritual benefits, for work by hand brings with it a meditative mind and self-fulfilment. Gandhi wrote, “Its a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God. Millions cannot keep fit by games and athletics and why should they exchange the useful productive hardy occupations for the useless, unproductive and expensive sports and games.” Mass production is only concerned with the product, whereas production by the masses is concerned with the product, the producers, and the process.

The driving force behind mass production is a cult of the individual. What motive can there be for the expansion of the economy on a global scale, other than the desire for personal and corporate profit?

In contrast, a locally based economy enhances community spirit, community relationships, and community well-being. Such an economy encourages mutual aid. Members of the village take care of themselves, their families, their neighbours, their animals, lands, forestry, and all the natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Mass production leads people to leave their villages, their land, their crafts, and their homesteads and go to work in the factories. Instead of dignified human beings and members of a self-respecting village community, people become cogs in the machine, standing at the conveyor belt, living in shanty towns, and depending of the mercy of the bosses. Then fewer and fewer people are needed to work, because the industrialists want greater productivity. The masters of the money economy want more and more efficient machines working faster and faster, and the result would be that men and women would be thrown on the scrap heap of unemployment. Such a society generates rootless and jobless millions living as dependants of the state or begging in the streets. In swadeshi, the machine would be subordinated to the worker; it would not be allowed to become the master, dictating the pace of human activity. Similarly, market forces would serve the community rather than forcing people to fit the market.

Gandhi knew that with the globalization of the economy, every nation would wish to export more and import less to keep the balance of payments in its favour. There would be perpetual economic crisis, perpetual unemployment, and perpetually discontented, disgruntled human beings.

. . .

In order to protect their economic interests, countries go to war – military war as well as economic war. Gandhi said, “People have to live in villages communities and simple homes rather than desire to live in palaces.” Millions of people will never be able to live at peace with each other if they are constantly fighting for a higher living standard.

We cannot have real peace in the world if we look at each other’s countries as sources for raw materials or as markets for finished industrial goods. The seeds of war are sown with economic greed. If we analyze the causes of war throughout history, we find that the pursuit of economic expansion consistently leads to military adventures. “There is enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for anybody’s greed,” said Gandhi. Swadeshi is thus a prerequisite for peace.

The economists and industrialists of our time fail to see when enough is enough. Even when countries reach a very high material standard of living, they are still caught up with the idea of economic growth. Those who do not know when enough is enough will never have enough, but those who know when enough is enough already have enough.

Swadeshi is the way to comprehensive peace: peace with oneself, peace between peoples, and peace with nature. The global economy drives people toward high performance, high achievement, and high ambition for materialistic success. This results in stress, loss of meaning, loss of inner peace, loss of space for personal and family relationships, and loss of spiritual life. Gandhi realized that in the past, life in India was not only prosperous but also conducive to philosophical and spiritual development. Swadeshi for Gandhi was the spiritual imperative ,

European colonialism, including the Spanish in the Americas, deeply influenced by the politics and aftermath of the Reconquista, as well as the British and others, with a propensity to draw abstract lines on a map to create notional nation states have created both a schema and a process.

As Kumar Satish duly notes the British came with an imperial system, at first the East India Company along with centralization, a British style education in English and mass produced cloth. At Independence, following the partition of India and Pakistan, and the assassination of Gandhi, and the post independence domination of anglophones, Nehru and his family, the Gandhian vision was discarded

There is a consistent strange attitude of invader-settler societies towards the indigenous populations. I suppose if you are stealing their land and resources, while displacing and dispossessing them, dehumanization helps the cause. Let’s be incurious about their language and culture, although some of the displaced from British Isles carried with them folk memories of the same process in their former homelands. How very convenient for a cricketer to be such a fine representative and exemplar of the spirit of conquest. Gandhi’s views on cricket appeared mixed.

One conclusion to be drawn is that violence, often structural and cultural violence, which conveniently is below the radar of consciousness, perhaps analogous to metadata, is intrinsic to the system. Why then is the history of war and violence so surprising and inevitable?

One take:

There can be no peace until they renounce their rabbit god and accept our duck god.

There can be no peace until they renounce their rabbit god and accept our duck god.

Second Take: In a remarkable two minutes, David Swanson presents Why End War:

David you might have missed the historical baggage train that is rolling on.

And Gandhi was somewhat equivocal on cricket.



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