What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism

 What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism

Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism How Orwell might interpret autocracy is not difficult to characterize, as it is interweaved inside his milestone novel, 1984. Tyranny appears as complete government mastery over a nation, depending the persecution and observation of residents, a general public where it is 'possible that (the public authority) watched everyone constantly', where 'consistent modification' is applied to reality and guardians are 'terrified of their own kids' because of an increased sensation of neurosis. A nauseating feeling of nationalism is consistently infused inside this general public through promulgation, with individuals at the same time dreading and cherishing the public authority. Albeit these portrayals might take the idea to its obvious end result, Orwell makes his seeing exceptionally clear inside these words and the extent of control that a system should keep up with to help this philosophy. What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism.

What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism

Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism - This translation profoundly binds to how Orwell accepted tyranny ought to be combatted, through a unified moral front, utilizing military power. Orwell disagreed with Gandhi's case that dear kinships were 'risky', and that one's objective in life ought to be to rise above human indecencies to 'escape from the aggravation of living'. Rather, he thought this agony empowered people to sympathize with others, making a moral boundary by which people estimated when activities or convictions must be combatted. Companionship and this feeling of ethical quality were key as far as Orwell can tell of battling totalitarianism, his administration in the Spanish nationwide conflict, where he agreed with the 'ethically unrivaled' the conservative armed force. 1984 likewise addresses the significance of profound quality as hero Winston Smith becomes sympathetic towards his unfortunate companions while developing to oppose the tyrannical 'Elder sibling'. Force, upheld by profound quality, was essentially important to battle any administration that was really authoritarian from Orwell's perspective, and the main viable way that didn't end with unnecessary passing or wilful affliction.

Mahatma Gandhi's demise on January 30th 1948 prompted quick canonisation in the public eye for the attorney turned progressive. The effect of Gandhi's fights in laying out a self-deciding India, alongside his radical type of common obstruction called Satyagraha, lead to the world perceiving his philosophical devotion. For instance, The New York Times wrote in their eulogy '(Gandhi) made himself the living image of India'. As is in many cases the case for well known people, Gandhi's passing made him more significant, particularly as his collection of memoirs, The Narrative of my Examinations with Truth, was distributed interestingly beyond India in 1948, meeting an enormous readership anxious to take in the expressions of the left 'light of India'.One of these readers was British icon George Orwell,

What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism

In his piece ‘Reflections on Gandhi’, Orwell levels a number of criticisms against the ideology of Satyagraha and the effectiveness of Gandhi’s proposed method of fighting oppression. Although noting that Gandhi was ‘genuinely liked’ amongst even Britons, and that ‘(Gandhi’s) natural physical courage was quite outstanding’, Orwell’s major issues with Gandhi include his flattery of martyrdom, tendency to side with ‘the other-worldly’ over man, and crucially his inability to ‘understand the nature of totalitarianism’. What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism.

Orwell built this final criticism around a number of comments that Gandhi had made regarding the Second World War and particularly the oppression of Jews during the Holocaust, with the ethicist stating in interviews that German Jews ‘ought to commit collective suicide’, as this act ‘would have aroused the world and the people of Germany of Hitler’s violence.’ Further comments made by Gandhi surrounding the supposed effectiveness of ‘non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion’ lead Orwell to conclude that Gandhi’s interpretation of totalitarianism was naïve, and his methods of resistance towards domineering political powers were suited likely only to India, where British colonial control was idle compared to the fascist practises of Nazi Germany. As Gita V. Pai notes, Gandhi ‘never lived in a totalitarian regime’ and his manner of non-violent protest ‘could not have worked in Stalin’s Soviet Union’ because Satyagraha’s success relied heavily on media coverage, an impossibility in totalitarian societies. 

As Orwell would clearly state in his essay, ‘it is difficult to see how his strategy of fasting and civil disobedience could be applied in a country where political opponents simply disappear and the public never hears anything that the government does not want it to hear’.

What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism

It has been thoroughly observed that ‘many features of the totalitarian movements of the century’ are heavily rooted within ‘colonial practice and thought’, with H. Ridley further claiming that colonialism provided the continuity of ‘race-thinking within totalitarianism’. However, Orwell would consistently maintain that the rule of the British empire was not brutal enough to be deemed totalitarian. As Orwell wrote in an article for New English Weekly concerning author Rudyard Kipling, the imperialistic actions of the British empire, particularly during the late 1800s, was ‘not entirely despicable’, and that one could ‘be an imperialist and a gentlemen’ similar to Kipling. Orwell would eventually concede in his book Shooting an Elephant that the ‘white man’ becomes a ‘hollow posing dummy’. What was Gandhi’s view on totalitarian state and why he opposed fascism.

The fascist philosophy argues for the establishment of a totalitarian state encompassing within itself almost all aspects of human life in society leaving no room for independent functioning for the individuals. Such an idea was represented by the fascist dictum: ‘Everything for the state; nothing against the state; nothing outside the state.’ In fascist ideology, the idea of totalitarian state may be taken to portray two interrelated implications: one, it leads to the creation of a typical fascist state in which the human personality is moulded in a unique shape resulting in the emergence of what is called as the ‘fascist man.’ The basic characteristic of such a fascist man is his unflinching loyalty and support to the leader in an infinite manner in which he is ready to dissolve his personality into the personality of the leader for whose cause he would even prepare to lay his life. Two, as a result, such a conceptualisation of man in fascist state ‘violates the liberal idea of a distinction between the state and civil society. 

An unmediated relationship between the leader and his people implies active participation and total commitment on the part of citizens; in effect, the politicization of the masses.’ Hence, in the fascist formulation, the idea of totalitarian state occupies the central position which would not have been proper in Gandhi’s view. Gandhi, as a liberal thinker, believed in the minimum space for the functioning of state so that the people at large would get maximum possible operational sphere for the fullest development of their personality. He not only stood for the clear cut distinction between the public and private spheres of the social interactions amongst various institutions of government, but also paid more weightage to the private sphere of the individuals at the cost of the authoritarian sphere of the state. Gandhi’s views, thus, on the nature of state in fascism would have been totally incompatible as Gandhi would never allow the state to monopolise the personality of an individual for the cause of the leader.


The operationalisation of fascist ideology in various countries produced a number of modifications of the original formulations of the fascist philosophy as propounded by Italian leader Mussolini. One such modification appears to be the element of racialism that became very prominent in the operationalisation of the theory in Germany but was almost absent in its articulation in Italy. In other words, while racialism was not perceived to be a crucial element of the ideology of fascism when it was theorised and practised in Italy, it became one of the most critical components of the fascist philosophy as practised in Germany. Theoretically, the notion of racialism is based on the belief that there exist plausible distinctions amongst the human beings in different parts of the world on the basis of the biological or genetic differentiations amongst them. Such racial differentiations may be taken to be the basis of arriving at political or social conclusions to formulate the policy of a state or individuals towards others. This understanding of racialism was adopted by Hitler as his state policy to pronounce the racial superiority of the German race calling them as Aryan or superior race in comparison to others, and more particularly the Jews. As a result, he not only waged the war against a number of countries but also carried out massive genocide of the Jews in Germany.

Religion: A basic incompatibility between the perceptions of fascism and Gandhi appears to be obvious on the issue of religion. Fascism, owing to its varying understanding and operationalisation in different countries, could not claim a uniform understanding of the role of religion in the society. Hence, one strand of fascism believes in the futility of religion and religious organisations such as church because they could emerge as an alternative centre of power in state and claim allegiance of the people in the name of the supreme authority of God. But some other fascists regarded religion as some kind of loose instrument in the hands of the state to instill order and loyalty amongst the people. In fact, they go to the extent of using religious style of language in provoking the need for sacrifice, redemption and spiritual virtue to consolidate the supremacy of state in regulating the affairs of the society.

Moreover, the religious discourses were also used to demean and attack materialism, consumerism and hedonism as having potential to corrupt the moral basis of society as a result of which the fascist state would not be able to aspire for attaining the nationalist aspirations of the people. Such an immoral and selfish perception of religion was totally unacceptable to Gandhi who was very particular in presenting religion as a personal matter of the individuals.

To Gandhi, religion provides the basis of moral character of society and in the absence of religion, the moral regeneration of society would be well nigh impossible. He argued for purity of religious perceptions as any sort of motives in conceptualising religion would make it prone to be misused at the hands of the unscrupulous elements of society. Hence, Gandhi would not only negate the fascist understanding of religion but also call for its restoration in society as part of the personal domain of the people through which they could aspire for their moral emancipation in the wake of the fascist impurities introduced in society by the rulers.

Other Questions :

1. What do you understand by Fascism?

2. What were the views of Gandhi on Fascism?

3. Examine the crucial link between fascism and racialism.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.