Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. 27 August, 1906
By the Way
It is sad to watch the steady intellectual degeneration of our once vigorous contemporary the Indian Mirror. Commenting on the formation of Labour Unions, the Mirror advises the promoters to make the suppression of strikes the principal object of their efforts! Certainly, the strike is the last weapon in the hands of labour and should not be used as the first. But the idea of organising Labour Unions to suppress strikes is a masterpiece of unconscious humour. We shall next hear that Mahomedan Educational Conferences should be organised to discourage Mahomedan education, that the anti-circular laws1 should make it their chief object to put down picketing, and perhaps that a League is being formed with Babu Narendra Nath Sen at its head to “suppress” the Indian Mirror.
We do not think the amazing timidity of our political leaders can be paralleled in any other country in the world. Is a National Congress established? Its object, one would think, must be to concentrate the strength of the nation and fight its way to power. Oh, by no means, it is only to advise and assist the Government! Is a national Council of Education instituted? Of course, it has arisen to rival and replace the alien-ruled University. Not at all, not at all; it is meant not to stand in opposition to but to supplement the old University! Does Labour rise in its strength and band itself into formidable combinations? Their work will be, then, to resist the greed and heartlessness of Capital and vindicate the claims of the toiler to just treatment and a man's wages for a man's work. O God indeed2! These Unions are rather meant to suppress strikes and establish kindly relations between the employers and the employed! Are we, after all, one wonders sometimes, a nation of cowards and old women?
The excuse usually urged for these pitiful insincerities is that it is all diplomacy. The diplomacy of grown-up children! The diplomacy of the ostrich hiding its head in the sand? What a poor idea these “leaders” must have formed of the political intelligence of the British Government and of Englishmen generally, if they think they can be deceived by such puerile evasions. Bureaucracy and Anglo-India take advantage of these professions and laugh in their sleeves. Meanwhile, the country loses the inspiration of great ideals, the exaltation of frank and glorious conflict, the divine impulse that only comes to those who know they are battling bravely and openly for the freedom of their country, not to men who cringe to the enemy and lie and palter with their consciences.
Truth and bold straight dealings3 we believe to be not only our noblest but our wisest policy in our struggle with the alien. Our leaders have no faith in the nation; they believe it is weak and impotent, and shufflings, evasions and shallow insincerities are the weapons of the weak. We for our part believe in the immense strength of the nation and demand that our leaders shall bring it4 face to face with the enemy. Still if they must have diplomacy let them give some diplomacy worth the name. If the shades of Cavour and Bismarck have leisure to listen to such senilities, what a smile of immortal contempt must pass over their lips as they watch the “diplomacy” of our leaders.
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 1890–1908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.
1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: boys
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: forbid
3 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: dealing
4 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: us