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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. May 24, 1907

An Irish Example

The refusal of the Irish Parliamentary Party under Mr. Redmond's leadership to have anything to do with the sham the Liberal Government has offered them in the place of Home Rule, is a step on which we may congratulate the Irish people. Had they been deluded into swallowing the bait which was devised for them with such unscrupulous skill by Mr. Birrell, they would have committed a false step of the worst kind and seriously compromised the Home Rule Movement. It is much better that Ireland should have to wait longer for any measure of self-government, than that she should commit political suicide by accepting Mr. Birrell's Bill. We call it Mr. Birrell's Bill but in reality it is Sir Antony Macdonnell's and has the stamp of “Liberal” Anglo-Indian upon it. Its object is obviously to kill the Home Rule Movement by kindness, to break up Irish unity and take the sting out of Irish Nationalism by a sham concession skilfully calculated to corrupt the natural leaders of the people. The measure proposed was a sort of bastard cross between a Colonial Parliament and an Indian-Legislative Council. Its acceptance would have committed Irish politicians to the abandonment of the policy of Parnell and to cooperation in future with the British Government. The Irish people were openly told that the concession of further self-government would depend on the way in which they used this precious opportunity, in other words, on their abandoning passive resistance and their principle of aloofness from Government and its favours and co-operating with it in a mutilated and ineffectual scheme of self-government. What would have been the result, if the Irish people had closed with this very bad bargain? They would not have got Home Rule which England is determined never to give them unless she has no other choice. The local self-government offered to Ireland would have been extended to Scotland and Wales and when Ireland demanded Home Rule, she would have been told to be satisfied with a measure of self-government which had satisfied the other parts of the United Kingdom. The British Government would by that time have broken the solid phalanx of Irish Nationalism and by the bribe of office, position and influence, succeeded in detaching from the cause a great number of the natural leaders of the people, men of intelligence, ability and ambition, whose talents would be used by England in keeping the people contented and combating true Nationalism. In this way the great ideal of an Irish Nation for which Emmett died, for which O'Connell and Parnell planned and schemed and which the Sinn Fein movement is making more and more practicable, would either have been entirely frustrated or postponed for another century. Instead of a separate nationality with its own culture, language, government, the Irish would have ended by becoming a big English county governed by a magnified and glorified Parish Council. The same kind of bait was offered to the Boers, but that shrewd people resolutely refused to associate themselves with any form of self-government short of absolute colonial Self-Government. The same kind of bait is promised to the Moderates in India by Honest John and the honest Statesman, if they will only consent to dissociate themselves from the New Spirit and all its works and betray their country. The Statesman says that Mr. Redmond has been forced to the refusal by the necessity of deferring to the Sinn Fein Party in Ireland, and hopes that the Indian Moderates will not commit the same mistake. Our sapient contemporary opines that the Nationalists in India are not really so strong as they seem, and that the Moderate leaders, if they desire to betray the country, can do so with impunity, without losing their influence and position. Well, we shall see.

 

Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 18901908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.