Lahore, Friday, September 17, 1920

Swaraj—a Means or an End?

MR. Gandhi appears to have astonished a good many among the delegates, including the President himself, by declaring in the subjects committee that Swaraj to him was only a means to an end, and if tomorrow he was convinced that some other form of government was better for the country than Swaraj, he would not hesitate to advocate it. Had such a declaration been made by someone who was merely or above everything also a political leader, and especially a leader of a country which is struggling for freedom, it would, indeed, have been profoundly astonishing and would probably have so scandalised his followers as to have immediately jeopardised his position. But Mr. Gandhi is not merely nor principally a political leader. The staunchest advocate of soul force that our age has known, he is above everything else a spiritual leader, and it is no matter for surprise that to him even political Swaraj is only a means to an end, the end, of course, being spiritual Swaraj, that is, the government of the soul, both individual and national, by itself. This is the only construction one can properly put upon Mr. Gandhi’s words, consistently with his oft-repeated declarations about the paramount importance of freedom, both individual and national, of the maintenance of national honour of any cost, and of unrestricted opportunity for nationalistic self-fulfilment. Similarly, Mr. Gandhi’s statement that if tomorrow he was convinced that some other form of government was better than Swaraj he would not hesitate to advocate it is not to be interpreted as meaning that he cares more for good government than for self-government. The man who held such a view would be at once set down as a reactionary. What he did probably mean was that there is nothing in a name, and Swaraj itself does not mean one particular form of government, though it is usually identified with one or other of its existing forms.

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