Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. October 8, 1907
Mr. Keir Hardie and India
The visit of Mr. Keir Hardie to Bengal, so much feared by the English papers, has come and gone and the reactionist Press have taken care that it should create the right sort of sensation in England, so that whatever he may tell of the carefully-hidden truth about the “unrest” in India may be discredited beforehand. We have been watching these manoeuvres with some amusement, mingled with a kind of admiration for the sheer bare-faced impudence of the lies which these amiable gentry are administering so liberally to a willing British public. Anything is good enough for British consumption, and accordingly Anglo-India sets itself no limits in the grossness and incredibility of the inventions it circulates. Mr. Hardie's presence is responsible for the riots, for the Union Jute Mills strike, for every development of the political struggle which has occurred since the formidable Labourite set foot on Indian soil. We shall hardly be surprised if we see it next asserted in the Englishman and then telegraphed by the Englishman's faithful Reuter that the boldness of Brahmobandhab1 Upadhyay's statement in the dock was caused by the expectation of Keir Hardie's visit or that some dim prophetic anticipation of it moved Basanta Bhattacharjee when he faced the terrors of British law. We are ready to give Anglo-India credit for very great lengths of denseness, ignorance and folly, but it is hard to believe that they cannot realise the change which has come over Indian political life and still think that the words or presence of an Englishman can ever again influence the minds of the people even in an ordinary way much less in the fabulous fashions2 which Newmania concocts. Anglo-India feared that if the truth travelled to England, the campaign of repression might be stopped and measures of conciliation adopted. For ourselves we never entertained any such fear. It is not ignorance of the truth, but their own self-interest as a nation which determines the attitude of all English parties, not excluding the Labourites. The interest of the monied classes is bound up with the continuance of arbitrary British domination, and for that domination Liberal as well as Tory will fight tooth and nail. As for the Labour Party, it will support that domination if they think it is to the interest of the working classes, otherwise they will oppose it. We have met and talked with Mr. Keir Hardie and we found him a strong, shrewd-witted man possessed of a great deal of clear common sense. He is a Labourite and a Socialist. As a Labourite he will do whatever he thinks best in the interests of Labour; as a Socialist, the interests of whose creed are bound up with the progress of internationalism, he may take Indian questions with a greater sincerity than the Cottons and Wedderburns. But as we said before in our article on Mr. Keir Hardie, to suppose that he can do anything for us is a delusion. India like other countries, must work out her salvation for herself, and the less she trusts to foreign help, the swifter will be her deliverance.
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: Brahmabandhab
2 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: fashion