Source: Labour Monthly, Vol. 4, June 1923, No. 6, pp. 363-376.
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
On the eve of the Gaya Congress Mr. Das published his sensational programme calling for the destruction of the Reform Councils, the boycott of British goods, and the organisation of labour and peasant societies with the object of preparing the country for what was termed “the final blow”—a complete and protracted national strike, accompanied by the simultaneous and wholesale resignation of services under Government all over the country (especially in the ranks of the police and army), and a general declaration of civil disobedience in the form of non-payment of taxes. By this series of steps, as outlined in his short-lived organ, the Bangalar Katha, did Deshbandhu Das and his coterie of personal followers propose to restore life to the fast-ebbing nationalist movement and to attain the rapid consummation of Swaraj. This skeleton programme called further for the formation of an Asiatic Federation, the organisation of foreign centres of Congress propaganda to enlist “the support of all lovers of freedom in all free countries,” and for the drafting of a Swaraj constitution which would fully define the goal towards which Indian Nationalism was striving.
The country had little time to discuss the project in full, launched as it was within a few weeks of the annual session of the National Congress, whose function it was to adopt a programme of action for the ensuing year. What comment there was time for concerned itself more with that other programme, published about the same time and precipitated upon the country in the third week of December—through the dubious connivance of Reuter—the programme of Social Democracy, drawn up for consideration at the Thirty-seventh Congress by the Communist Party of India. If the bureaucracy had hoped to kill two birds with one stone, to convict Mr. Das of being in collusion with Indian Bolshevism, and thereby damn his programme in advance, as it sought to damn that of the “Vanguard,” it was doomed to disappointment. The Deshbandhu was acquitted by the unanimous voice of his own countrymen of being in collusion with anybody but himself, but it was, nevertheless, considered by those who differed from him that his ideas bordered dangerously near to Socialism, if not dipped in the deeper dye of Bolshevism. His repeated protestations that he stood for the constructive programme, subject to the alterations mentioned above, and his declarations of faith in the revival of cottage industries, as exemplified by the sacred Charka, could not save him from the taint of dangerous heterodoxy. His frequent references to a need for change in tactics made him an object of suspicion to the high priests of orthodox Gandhism, while his apocryphal utterances about the “masses” alarmed the propertied classes and brought him into the limelight of official displeasure.
Thus, on the eve of Gaya, Mr. Das stood practically alone with his own conscience; no party had yet rallied to his banner, though the air was thick with speculation. What he said and did may be regarded for all practical purposes as the utterances and acts of an individual mind, undeterred and uninfluenced by party responsibilities and allegiances. All factions awaited his presidential address at Gaya—here was the key which would unlock the mystery of his intentions and reveal the full purpose of the new leader. Negotiations behind the scenes there must have been and were, on the part of those discontented elements seeking a new standard to rally round, but as to which of those elements, exclusive of the rest, would relieve the isolation of the Deshbandhu and elect him their chief, Gaya alone could determine.
The presidential speech at Gaya is a monumental record of Mr. Das’s legal mind at war with his poet’s soul. It is the Gotterdämmerung, where the gods of the earth and heavens wrestle in titanic conflict for supremacy. Beginning with an eloquent exposition of historical precedents, a host of facts is marshalled before his thousands of auditors (and for the benefit of the listening bureaucratic ear), to prove the legality of revolution. Then the Deshbandhu proceeds to prove, by another set of historical facts, the utter futility of exercising this indubitably legal right to rebel, and ends in a grandiose and self-contradictory climax, which seeks to demonstrate that India will succeed in doing that which history has failed to furnish any precedent for—the conquest of Swaraj by non-violence, such as will start a new chapter of human relationships and usher in a new historical era of peaceful revolutions.
The inaugural address may be taken as the complete expression of the Deshbandhu’s individual philosophy and political ideology, worked over for many weeks with meticulous and loving care. It is likewise the last expression of pure Deshbandhuism, since events following rapidly on the conclusion of the Congress session swept Mr. Das and his personal devotees into the strong current of party politics, where his dominant personality no longer reigned supreme. A study of the Gaya presidential address is, therefore, a revelation of the full mind and heart of Chittaranjan Das, an authentic document of his own making at what may be regarded as the turning point in his career.
There is little that is new. His speech at Dehra Dun, the statement to the Press at Amraoti, and the statement of policy in Calcutta appear to have been incorporated bodily in this wider and all-comprehensive document, wherein its author conscientiously attempts to indicate a new path for the national movement to follow. Of greater interest than its objective statements are the subjective forces of his own mind that struggle for supremacy, now the cool, reasoning brain of the lawyer, now the passionate warmth of the rebel, and again the imaginative idealism of the romantic poet. In the beginning the lawyer reigns supreme, and Deshbandhu the barrister treats his hearers to a masterly exposition of “Law and Order” as the basis of all tyranny, and the legal right of the subject, as furnished by good historical precedents, to rebel against the tyrannical dictates of this doctrine. His arguments are irrefutable, and one imagines they re intended less for his Khaddar-clad auditors, the majority whom, perhaps, could not understand the language he addressed them in, than for that august tribunal of bourgeois justice and morality—western civilisation and history—that he proceeded later to hold up to such scorn. Here spoke the product of bourgeois English education, quoting English historical precedent to substantiate his country’s claims to freedom, and hoisting the British rulers of India on their own petard, so to speak, by proving from the Revolutions of 1640 and 1688 the legal right of a people to rebel. He concludes this part of his thesis as follows:—
This, then, is the history of the freedom movement in England. The conclusion is irresistible, that it is not by acquiescence in the doctrines of law and order that the English people have obtained the recognition of their fundamental rights. It follows, firstly, that no regulation is law unless it is based on the consent of the people; secondly, where such consent is wanting, the people are under no obligation to obey; thirdly, where such laws profess to attack their fundamental rights, the subjects are entitled to compel their withdrawal by force or insurrection; fourthly, that law and order is and always has been a plea for absolutism; and lastly, there can be neither law nor order before the real reign of law begins.
To all of which arguments there is and can be no answer, and were British rule in India a mere question of legal quibbling, the representatives of that haughty Empire must withdraw in confusion, and leave India bag and baggage for sheer lack of any adequate defence. But, unfortunately, British rule in India is based, not upon the justification of law courts, but upon the strength of armies, and Mr. Das would have done better to have based his arguments upon the latter supposition, or to have saved his breath.
However, having concluded this phase of his pleading, Mr. Das takes his stand on another ground to prove the right of the Indian people to freedom—this time, not by historical precedent, but by “sacred and inalienable right.” And once more, to the confusion of his Christian preceptors, he quotes the Bible, and the words of Christ. Here he warms to his task and plunges into a dissertation on the sacred and inalienable right, not alone of individuals, but of whole peoples, to resist unjust oppression and “to take their stand upon Truth.”
For myself, I oppose the pretensions of “law and order,” not on historical precedent, but on the ground that it is the inalienable right of every individual and of every nation to stand on truth and to offer a stubborn resistance to ruthless laws . . . . The development of nationality is a sacred task—if, therefore, you interpose a doctrine to impede that task, why, the doctrine must go.
By this narrow bridge, Mr. Das, the lawyer, passes over into the precincts of Deshbandhu Das, the patriot and friend of the country. The realms of dry historical facts are forsaken for that richer field of political speculation and philosophy, already enriched by the minds of Jean Jacques Rousseau and his successors. But the tools of the lawyer are not abandoned—the appearance of proving his point by logical deduction, the falling back upon authority and precedent, this time not mundane but divine. The next part of the address is devoted to an exposition of Mr. Das’s theory of nationality, wherein western ideas and education are forgotten, and the Vedanta school of Spiritual Imperialism is given full play. The patriot, the poet, and the mystic are happily combined, and Mr. Das becomes once more intelligible to his own people as he soars into the realms of metaphysics:—
What is the ideal which we must set before us? The first and foremost is the ideal of nationalism. Now what is nationalism? It is, I conceive, a process through which a nation expresses itself and finds itself—not in isolation from other nations, not in opposition, but as part of a great scheme by which, in seeking its own expression and identity, it materially assists the self-expression and self-realisation of other nations as well. Diversity is as real as unity. And in order that the unity of the world may be established, it is essential that each nationality should proceed on its own line and find fulfilment in self-realisation.
Mr. Das then goes on to declare that his ideal of nationality must not be confused with that conception which exists in Europe to-day:—
Nationalism in Europe is an aggressive nationalism, a selfish nationalism, a commercial nationalism of gain and loss—that is European nationalism.
And in contradistinction to this horrid spectre he conjures up a vision more pleasing and familiar to his auditors, fed with the same spoon from other hands, that of the new nationality of spiritual India which is to be realised through soul force, non violence and love, and which will save the world.
Throughout the pages of Indian history I find a great purpose unfolding itself . . . . The great Indian nationality is in sight. It already stretches its hands across the Himalayas, not only to Asia, but to the whole world; not aggressively, but to demand its recognition and to offer its contribution . . . . True development of the Indian nation must necessarily lie in the path of Swaraj. A question has often been asked as to what is Swaraj. Swaraj is indefinable, and is not to be confused with any particular system of government. Swaraj is the natural expression of the national mind, and must necessarily cover the whole life history of a nation. Nationalism is the same question as that of Swaraj.
Here is the transcendentalism of Mahatma Gandhi, highly flattering to a people accustomed to think of itself as a special creation of Providence, and charged with a spiritual mission to save mankind from the materialistic abyss towards which it is speeding. The Mahatma was wont to declare: “First realise yourself, then Swaraj will come of itself”; the Deshbandu affirms: “Let each nation realise itself, then Swaraj will come, the Swaraj of entire humanity.” The soul of the poet had not purged itself of the mysticism bred of solitary confinement nor of the tendency to make politics a metaphysical adjunct of speculative philosophy. Mr. Das belongs by nature to the school of Transcendentalists who have picturesquely adorned the pages of Indian history in her transition from mediaevalism to modernism, and are now rapidly becoming extinct in the march of events.
We cannot leave the subject of the presidential address without reference to a few more pronouncements which provide a key to the ideology of India’s new leader. Mr. Das reaffirmed in strong words his faith in the doctrine and tactics of non-violent non-co-operation, and gave as his reasons therefore, “apart from any question of principle,” the “utter futility of revolutions brought about in the past by force and violence.” Taking the French, American, English, Italian, and Russian Revolutions as historical precedents (the ghost of the lawyer still lingers), he proceeds to demonstrate to his own satisfaction, and presumably to that of his auditors, that it is impossible to attain Swaraj by violent means (Swaraj here taken in its mystical sense as described above). Says Mr. Das:—
I maintain that no people has yet succeeded in winning freedom by force and violence. The use of violence degenerates those who use it, and it is not easy for them, having seized power, to surrender it. Non-violence does not carry with it that degeneration which is inherent in the use of violence.
He seeks to prove this assertion by a hasty and dogmatic analysis of those great historical convulsions described as “national” revolutions, which in the past have ushered in new political institutions to correspond with fundamental changes in the economic and social orders. The vast upheaval in France from 1789 to 1812 means nothing more to Mr. Das than a struggle “as to which of the various sections shall rule France.” He fails to glimpse beneath the apparent clash of individual hatreds and ambitions, the grim struggle between two opposing and mutually-exclusive classes, the corrupt monarchy and decayed feudal order on the one hand, and on the other, the rising bourgeoisie whose allies were drawn from the ranks of the exploited peasantry and city proletariat. Against this struggle the whole of Absolutist Europe ranged itself, for the challenge of the French bourgeoisie was a challenge against feudal absolutism and corruption wherever it existed; and so we find, civil war and terror within, accompanied by invasion, starvation and blockade from without. Napoleonism was the answer of the new social order, determined to maintain itself; and the overthrow of Napoleon, followed by the reaction that overswept Europe, could not delay forever the inevitable triumph of the French bourgeoisie, and of the bourgeoisie in every country. The great French Revolution, the English Revolutions of 1640 and 1688, the American and the Italian Revolutions were successful, in that a new class came to power, shaping its own political institutions in accordance with the dictates of its economic needs and interests. Modern bourgeois democracy is not the Utopia dreamed of by Jean Jacques Rousseau, nor the abstract Reign of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Reason proclaimed by the Jacobins—but it remains, nevertheless, the logical heir and successor of the medieval feudal autocracy which reigned in Europe before its advent, and it represents one step forward on the road of progress that will lead mankind to its ultimate goal. The victory of the bourgeoisie over feudalism is but the prelude to another and fiercer class struggle, now being waged, between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; which must end in the victory of the latter and the abolition of all classes with the institution of private property which gave them birth. The present-day politics of Europe bears this contention out.
Such is history as viewed in the light of the Marxian dialectics, which reads success or failure, not in approximations to an abstract ideal, but in the development of new productive forces and the corresponding rise of new social classes, ideas and institutions. The faulty and shallow analysis which Mr. Das and all bourgeois libertarians bring to bear upon the great revolutions of the past is the result of their lack of understanding of the underlying social and economic forces involved. We can expect nothing better when we read, further on in the presidential address, that Mr. Das “looks upon history as the revelation of God to man.” With such an attitude towards history, where every event is a special dispensation of Providence and not the result of material economic laws, no wonder that Mr. Das fails to draw useful analogies from the great revolutionary movements of the past to apply to the Indian struggle, and no wonder that he declares that India will not repeat the history of other nations, but will offer the world something unique.
And yet Deshbandhu Das and his associates are playing out their unconscious rôle as the leaders of India’s bourgeois revolution against the decayed feudal autocracy of the native princes, and the absolutism of the imperial overlord. The Congress and its leaders are but the tools and instruments of those powerful social forces that have been silently developing themselves within the past century—a native bourgeoisie, reinforced by a rebellious peasantry deprived of its land, and by an exploited industrial proletariat, the product of machine industry and a ruined system of handicrafts. The struggle of these social classes for supremacy is masked beneath vague phrases and idealistic abstractions about “Swaraj,” “Self-Realisation,” and “Truth,” even as the struggle of the French bourgeoisie, exploited peasantry and city proletariat was concealed beneath the eloquent perorations on “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das and his fellows, despite their sentimental Utopianism, are the Dantons, the Patrick Henrys, and the Garibaldis of the Indian Revolution, whose unexpressed and as yet half-conscious purpose it is to usher into power the Indian bourgeoisie.
But is not Mr. Das something more, one is tempted to inquire, in the light of his eloquent pronouncements on the subject of “the masses,” whose cause he champions so valiantly against the “classes.” Is his role to be not that of eighteenth century Republicanism of America and France, but of a twentieth century Messiah of the masses? How nobly he champions their cause in his speech at Gaya, and on innumerable occasions before and after. Does he not say: —
Many of us believe that the middle classes must win Swaraj for the masses. I do not believe in the possibility of any class movement being ever converted into a movement for Swaraj. If to-day the British Parliament grants provincial autonomy in the provinces with responsibility in the Central Government, I for one will protest against it, because that will inevitably lead to the concentration of power in the hands of the middle classes. I do not believe that the middle classes will then part with their power. How will it profit India if, in place of the white bureaucracy that now rules over her, there is substituted an Indian bureaucracy of the middle classes? … I desire to avoid the repetition of that chapter of European history. It is for India to show the light to the world—Swaraj by non-violence, and Swaraj by the people.
And how does Mr. Das propose to realise this “Swaraj of, by, and for the people”? By the revival of the ancient Indian Panchayet, or village community, which he terms “real democracy.” According to his idea, “the most advanced thought of Europe is turning from the false individualism on which European culture and institutions are based to what I know to be the ideal of the ancient village organisation of India.” We do not know if Mr. Das confuses, in his ignorance of the facts, the idea of the Soviet system with that of the Panchayet. If he does, we would point out to him that the analogy lies, not between the Soviet and the Panchayet, but between the Panchayet and the ancient Russian village Mir, which like the old Teutonic Mark, constituted the basis of primitive village self-government. Such “ideal” democracies are to be found in the early history of every country, not alone in India, during the stage when agriculture was the prevailing mode of production and the small peasant proprietor was the dominant social class, in that remote past before feudalism, with its complicated social and political institutions, superseded this very primitive stage of decentralised government. It is useless to discuss the kind of democracy enjoyed by these village communities, except to observe that, being founded upon the system of private property, it contained the germ of modern bourgeois democracy into which, by slow and painful process of evolution, it has evolved, through the intervening stages of feudalism. Useless to discuss it we say, since even were it desirable, how were it possible to revive this archaic institution, which may have corresponded to the economic development of our remote ancestors, but which cannot possibly meet the manifold requirements of this twentieth century world in which we live, with its internationalised system of production, distribution and exchange? If decentralisation is desired, why seek to revive the Panchayet? Its own natural extinction in the process of evolving society is the best proof of its own unfitness to survive. The very desire to hark back to an imagined Golden Age is but an indication of Utopianism on the part of Mr. Das and his fellow-worshippers of India’s mythical past, which savours strongly of reaction. Did not Jean Jacques Rousseau paint in glowing colours the “ideal democracy” of the primitive American Indians, whom those other seekers after democracy, the fathers of the American Revolution, were busily engaged in killing off to make room for themselves and their more advanced institutions?
But Mr. Das goes further in his advocacy of the cause of the “masses.” In his presidential speech, as well as on other occasions, he specifically urged the organisation of labour and peasant societies “to further the cause of Swaraj,” and earned thereby the appellation of “Bolshevik.” We reproduce his words on this subject from the Gaya address, in order to discover if such an adjective is justified:—
I am further of the opinion that the Congress should take up the work of Labour and peasant organisation…. Is the service of this special interest in any way antagonistic to the service of nationalism? To find bread for the poor, to secure justice to a class of people who are engaged in a particular class or avocation—how is that work any different from the work of attaining Swaraj? . . . We have delayed the matter already too long. If the Congress fails to do its duty, we may expect to find organisations set up in the country by labourers and peasants detached from you, disassociated from the cause of Swaraj, which will inevitably bring into the arena of the peaceful revolution class struggles and the war of special interests. If the object of the Congress be to avoid this disgraceful issue, let us take Labour and the peasantry in hand, and let us organise them from the point of view of their own interest and also from the point of view of the higher ideal which demands the satisfaction of their special interests and the devotion of such interests to the cause of Swaraj.
We think Mr. Das should be absolved from all allegations of Bolshevism, and even of a pink shade of Socialism. What he advocates here is pure Hedonism—“pig-philosophy,”—let us help Labour in order to secure their help and to prevent their being used against us. No doubt this is put in such a utilitarian form in order to convince the more bourgeois among his audience—but it is the special pleading of what is at best, a bourgeois Utopian Liberal’s plea directed towards a bourgeoisie more hard-headed, less romantic and unsentimental than himself. That is the essential quandary of Mr. Das—to be a humanitarian bourgeois liberal intellectual, fallen among orthodox Gandhians and “Responsive Co-operators,”—each faction listening critically to all he had to say, ready to follow him if he voices their particular aspirations and unexpressed interests, but equally ready to pounce upon him and rend him to pieces should he violate any one of their cherished traditions or prove himself the standard bearer of a new economic class, which is not yet really represented in those chaste deliberations. We allude to the turbulent class of the industrial workers and landless agricultural proletariat, whose incipient spirit of revolt against unbearable economic conditions constitutes the only real menace to the established order of things in India, and upon whose dynamic power of mass action the Congress seeks to base its tactics of civil disobedience, without committing itself to a programme of economic reform which might antagonise the vested interests behind the bourgeois nationalist movement.
The inaugural address at Gaya closed with Deshbandhu Das, the poet and sentimentalist, riding in the saddle of Pegasus, with the discomfited barrister lost amid the cloud pictures of an India reborn, waging “spiritual warfare” against the unnamed foe—a warfare waged by “spiritual soldiers” free from all anger, hatred, pettiness, meanness and falsehood. A quotation from the “Prometheus Unbound” of that other poet-mystic and knight-errant of Liberty, Percy Bysshe Shelley, constituted the climax and close of an undeniably eloquent oration, which equally undeniably is a masterpiece of contradictions and sentimental confusion.
The die was cast. It remained for those who had heard to choose sides and elect their leader, either from among the doughty champions of No-Change or the Don Quixote of Pro-Change cum grano salis. The week of discussion and resolution-making came to an end, and Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, “Friend of the Country” and champion of the masses, found himself the head of a new party called the “Congress-Khilafat-Sawaraj Party,” pledged to work within the Congress for the achievement of Swaraj by non-violent non-co-operation, but along the lines of its own programme. This programme, it was announced, would be drawn up and submitted to the public for approval in the early months of 1923. Mr. Das, finding himself and his party in the minority, honorably resigned his post of Congress President, and betook himself to a tour of the country to rally his forces. The principal clauses of his temporary programme, as announced before the Congress session, included the capture of the Reform Councils, to mend or end them, the boycott of British goods, and the organisation of peasant and Labour unions, with the object of declaring a national stake for the speedy attainment of Swaraj.
The names of those who rallied to Mr. Das’s side and swelled the ranks of the new party included as a preponderating majority, that group of “Responsive Co-operators” who, in various provinces, had been long and vainly chafing against the leading strings of orthodox Gandhism, and who beheld in this eloquent exponent of “Pro-Change,” a captain who would lead them on to storm the citadel of the Reform Councils. While the question of Council entry was a secondary consideration in Mr. Das’s programme, the whole issue of the Gaya Congress turned upon this disputed point, and to the new faction which unexpectedly swelled the ranks of the “Congress-Khilafat-Swaraj Party” this question was all-important and supreme. Wherefore we find that by sheer force of numbers they overwhelm Mr. Das, and make this point supreme for him as well. It begins to figure in every speech and declaration of policy as the decisive point at issue, on the part of the leaders of the new party. On the other point—that of the organisation of the Indian workers and peasants—the statement of Mr. N.C. Kelker, one of the Chiefs-of-Staff of the new party, and veteran leader of the Tilak School of “Responsive Co-operation,” is exceedingly interesting. In an article called “The New Party,” published in the Mahratta of January 14, 1923, the first comprehensive statement of the purpose and intentions of this organisation is given from the viewpoint of that rationalist faction which constitutes its chief strength. Mr. Kelker’s views about Labour, as compared with those of Mr. Das’s, are significant:--
The new party will, I think, whole-heartedly favour the formation of Labour unions and peasant unions. And while the formation of co-operative societies may represent its constructive activity, its destructive activity may, if occasion demands it, be represented by the advocacy of Labour strikes for a just cause and the non-payment of unjust taxes or dues by the peasants, not necessarily in the big name of Swarajya, but as a legitimate measure of resistance to unlawful acts of authority.
This measured statement of the case comes like a cold douche after the warm-hearted advocacy of the Deshbandhu, and should have somewhat prepared the unwary for a further shock that came towards the end of January in the form of a statement by the first convention of the Congress-Khilafat-Swaraj Party on the “Rights of Private Property.” This statement takes the form of a special clause in the first draft of the party programme that “private and individual property will be recognised, maintained, and protected, and the growth of individual wealth, both moveable and immoveable, will be permitted and encouraged.” This clause, it is remarked by contemporary journals, “seems to have been particularly included in order to counteract the statements made in some quarters that the non-co-operation movement represented a form of Bolshevism.” But the fact that such a statement was published, far in advance of any other clause of the party’s programme is an important indication of the true nature of the men who lead it. It is a frank declaration of class-affiliation and class-consciousness on the part of the rising Indian bourgeoisie, whose special interests the Swaraj Party is dedicated to defend. Under the influence and pressure of this class the school of liberal intellectuals to which Mr. Das belongs, is being willy-nilly converted from the erstwhile champion of the exploited masses, into the protector of bourgeois property rights. This is, indeed, a metamorphosis little expected on the part of those who were carried away by the eloquent speeches of the Deshbandhu in the cause of Labour and the Indian masses, but not very surprising to those who have learned to draw a hard, clear line between sentimentality on one hand, and class-interest on the other. The presence of a class-conscious bourgeois party within the ranks of the National Congress is rapidly beginning to crystallise the political ideology of the non-co-operation movement as a whole. The leaders of the new party are determined to protect their class-interests from the very outset against the rising flood-tide of mass-energy that may some day find an outlet in revolution. The day is fast approaching when Mr. Das must either abandon his own party and the social class to which he belongs, to throw in his lot with a purely proletarian movement conducted on the lines of the class-struggle against capitalist exploitation, both foreign and native, or give up altogether his sentimental effusions about the masses and take his stand unequivocally by the side of the propertied classes.
The new party has been captured by a very clear-headed set of individuals who have long been the standard bearers of political rationalism inside the Congress ranks, and who will do their best to guide the movement back into the folds of parliamentarism and constitutional agitation, where they will eventually become His Majesty’s most loyal Opposition. The difference between this “Responsive Co-operation” and the co-operating Moderates is slight indeed. Mr. Das now finds himself in the anomalous position of being the nominal head of a party which will end by negating the very principles of non-co-operation upon which it was originally founded. As he was isolated on the eve of Gaya, a solitary figure of dreams and illusions, so is he isolated now—pushed into a minority within the ranks of his own party whose guidance has passed into other hands. Deshbandhu Das may be no less the friend of the country, no less the champion of the oppressed masses than he was before his spiritual kidnapping by the Responsive Co-operators. But he is caught upon the horns of a dilemma which correspond to the poles of his own temperament—the lawyer in him struggled to escape from the metaphysical toils of orthodox Gandhism and so fell into the meshes of bourgeois rationalism, against which his poet’s soul rebels. He still talks about “the masses,” still dreams of the coming of an Indian millenium wherein peace and prosperity shall descend upon the people through the medium of the village Panchayet. Even in his most recent utterances before the third session of the All-India Trade Union Congress, celebrated in Lahore towards the end of March and over which he presided, he declared:—
If the middle classes ever win Swaraj, and I live to see that day, it will be my lot to stand by the workers and peasants and to lead them on to wrest power from the hands of the selfish classes.
But ere this day dawns the metamorphosis of Mr. Das from bourgeois liberal intellectual and Don Quixote of the masses into a true leader of the Indian working class must be complete.