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Henry Judd

Gandhi’s “Passive Resistance” Line
a Blow at Freedom for Indian People

(May 1932)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 19, 11 May 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Meeting in the city of Allahabad last week, the conservative executive committee of the Indian National Congress adopted the pacifist resolution put forward by Mahatma Gandhi which declared that, while opposing an invasion of India by Japan, “Such resistance can only take the form of non-violent non-cooperation, as the British government prevented organization of national defenses by the people In any other way.”

The British authorities who rule the country are also joining (in their own way) with the supporters of Gandhi and Nehru in making it easy for the Japanese to conquer the country. Anxious to prevent a defense of India by the people themselves, they have ordered the provincial governments which have been organizing home guards for defense to arm them with “wooden batons”! The conservative nationalists and the British imperialists sabotage a revolutionary defense of India for different reasons but the results can only be the same – the tragedy of a Japanese victory over the Indian people.

Gandhi is correct when he accuses Britain of preventing the organization of a people’s defense, but that makes it only more necessary for the nationalists to take charge of their own defense. However, Gandhi and his capitalist supporters among the Indians are unwilling to go so far and take such responsibility. Having failed to come to terms with Cripps in the recent negotiations, they have now probably decided to passively accept conquest of India by Japanese imperialism. Since British imperialism has nothing to offer them, since it refused to make any concessions to them, the native capitalist class that stands behind Gandhi now feels that it can perhaps strike a better bargain with the Japanese. Therefore, it proposes “non-resistance.” What could be more helpful to Japan in its march of conquest?

With the rout of the British and Chinese forces in Burma the Japanese are in an extremely favorable position to advance on India by two routes – overland from Burma into the hostile, anti-British native states on the border and into the equally anti-British province of Bengal; by sea against Ceylon and Calcutta from bases in the Andaman Islands and Burma. The fact is that the invasion of India has all but begun and can actually start at any hour! India Needs Leadership

But India’s hour of crisis finds the great population of that country still without leadership. The imperialists of Britain, now reinforced by the United States, have withdrawn the Cripps plan and are sitting tight, preparing to “defend” their colony by the same methods they employed in Malaya, Burma, East Indies, etc. That is, a purely military struggle, without the support of the peopee, with a small handful of white troops doing the fighting amid an unfriendly, neutral or hostile population. What chance has India to ward off the Japanese under such circumstances?

The Indian Nationalist leadership, dominated by conservatives or open reactionaries of the Indian capitalist class, has likewise failed to rally the people. The Congress leadership today is divided into three mutually warring groups.

First, the Gandhi group (majority). They – with an eye to the future – propose to remain on friendly terms with the Japanese. They are “non-resistant” to Japanese imperialist attack. They will not scorch their private property for Britain; they will fight to see it preserved and continued – if necessary, even under Japanese rule.

Second, the Rajagopalichariar group (minority). This group, coming from the key seaport of Madras, wishes to accept the Cripps proposals and openly support British rule and the British war effort. It urges a complete surrender on the part of the Congress Party to Great Britain and is the most conservative of the leading conservative groups.

And finally, the most shameful and pitiful group of all, that of Nehru. Standing in between the above mentioned leaders, Nehru has nothing to offer but tears (his own tears!) He neither wishes Gandhi’s capitulation to Japan, nor Rajagopalichariar’s capitulation to England. But, as his many and confusing statements to the press testify, he has no independent program to offer the people. With invasion imminent, it is hardly likely that Nehru can continue his balancing act.

This Congress “leadership” that we have described is today completely Impotent and reactionary. It has failed to issue a single directive to the people; it has ignored the 385 million Indians at the most crucial moment. Although the time for independent class action on the part of the people themselves grows shorter with each day; although the difficulties of organizing a Peoples Militia of workers and poor people in defense of the country increase, nevertheless, the socialists and revolutionists of India are still hard at work advancing their program of action: Defense of India against Japan by the people, independently of British imperialism.

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Last updated: 13.6.2013