OSTERGAARD, Geoffrey. "Sarvodaya and Anarchism" (Extracts)

GANDHI, Mohandas Karamchand (1869-1948)IndiaOSTERGAARD, Geoffrey (1926-1990)
" In [the ideal state] every one is his own ruler. He rules himself in such a manner that he is never a hindrance to his neighbour. In [such a state], therefore, there is no political power because there is no State.’


Young India, 2 July 1931.

The practical difference between socialism and anarchism, at the purely local level, is small. They differ, of course, in how each responds to the question of a state and national policy. Gandhi saw an India with a plethora of local problems, and for them he prescribed local solutions. In this respect, his thinking and philosophy most closely resemble Western anarchism than any other political philosophy. In fact, he acknowledges Tolstoy, especially his spiritual anarchist treatise The Kingdom of God Is Within You, as an influence. But Gandhi’s political thought is not derivative, it originally combines his Hinduism and his thoughts on non-violence. Nevertheless, many concepts familiar to the student of Western anarchism are also present in the philosophy of Sarvodaya.

One trivial example is that of decision-making through consensus or unanimity. Vinoba Bhave wrote:

Now we ’pass’ a decision by a majority...as though God now speaks [through a majority]. I contend that such proposals are not really passed, so long as they fail to convince even one person. Only that proposal deserves to ’pass’ which commends itself to all. We must revive this ancient Indian tradition, for a people’s democracy can only be built on mutual trust and cooperation

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