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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. June 20, 1907

Concerted Action

We publish in another column a letter from a correspondent signing himself “Organised Cooperation”, in which a very elaborate plan is sketched out for ascertaining the opinion of the nation and following out in unison the programme arrived at. The scheme is, we fear, more elaborate than practicable. If the suggestion originally put forward by the Nationalists of the creation of Congress electorates had been adopted, such a plebiscite might have been possible; as it is, the necessary machinery does not exist. Moreover, such an all-India plebiscite covering the whole field of politics, even if it were possible, would neither be useful nor necessary. The national programme has already been fixed by the Calcutta Congress and there is no need of a further plebiscite to decide it; in Bengal at least it has been universally accepted, with additions and reaffirmed by the District Conferences and District Committees appointed to carry it out. Our correspondent seems to have misapprehended the nature and object of a plebiscite. A plebiscite can only be on a single definite and supreme issue, the decision of which is so important that the ordinary representative assemblies cannot undertake the responsibility of a final decision. A plebiscite on a whole programme is an impossibility. Neither would it be binding. Bengal, for instance, is practically unanimous for Boycott. If the majority of votes went against Boycott, would Bengal accept the decision and tamely submit to repression? Or if the majority were for Boycott, would Bombay City agree to carry out the decision? We sympathise with the hankering for united action, but united action is only possible in so much of the programme as all are agreed upon; it is not possible in those matters on which opinion is still widely divided.

 

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.