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Adyar Pamphlets

By Theosophical Publishing House

Issue No.144 - The Ethico-Psychological Crux in Political Science and Art or Who Should be Legislators?

by Bhagavan Das (Published in 1931)

THE Spirit is eternal, and eternally young. It never ages. But its bodies, subtle and gross, are always aging, and being cast off, and renewed, India's manomaya-kosha, mental-body, has obviously become very old. And, it seems, under the decree of Providence, it has to renovate and rejuvenate itself by taking birth afresh from its own progeny, which offsprang from it in the distant past viz , the European mind body. The great-grandfather has to be born again as his own great-grandson. The intellect of India has to be renewed by transfusion of European scientific intellectual blood — but the danger, latterly threatened, has to be avoided, of complete loss of identity, by loss of memory of the past. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a way of such renovation in the department of political science and art, with benefit, not only to the great-grandfather, but possibly also to the great-grandson. 

- 1 - WESTERN THOUGHT

The happiness of a people depends primarily upon the goodness and wisdom of the socio-moral principles implanted in the heart of each of its successive generations by good and wise educators; and secondarily upon the goodness and wisdom of the laws promulgated for the welfare of all sections and classes of it, impartially, justly, benevolently, by good and wise legislators.The crucial problem in political theory and political practice is: How to find, persuade, elect good and wise men and women to the legislatures ? It may be brought into relief, for us, by a few quotations from Western writers, and then an attempt made to find out what ancient Eastern thinkers have to say on it.

How to reconcile representative institutions, with good government has become the great political problem of the day. The natural disposition of every assembly is to cultivate its opportunities on private account so far as conditions will allow (p. 117). Representative institutions allow choice, but the grounds of choice may admit all the folly, wickedness, and perversity of which human nature is capable (p. 153). Unless means are provided for insuring an active disposition to use opportunity on public account, it will most certainly be employed for private advantage, and representative institutions will tend to become a vast system of plunder (p. 199). The waste and profusion of which an assembly is capable exceeds that of a despot (p. 201). Representatives of the people should have no access to official patronage or to the public treasury. They must be placed under such conditions that they will be personally disinterested in such matters (p. 202). Mill took strong [Page 3] ground against money payment, pointing out that it tends to make politics a profession carried on with a view chiefly to its pecuniary returns and under the demoralizing influences of an occupation essentially precarious. Seats in the representative assembly then become objects of desire to adventurers incessantly bidding to attract or retain the suffrages of the electors, by promising all things, honest or dishonest, possible or impossible, and rivaling each other in pandering to the meanest feelings and most ignorant prejudices of the vulgarest part of the crowd; under no despotism has there been such an organized system of tillage for raising a rich crop of vicious courtiership (p. 204). The ancient tradition that representatives are paid in honor and not in money, was badly ruptured in 1911 when it was decided to give members of the House of Commons a salary of £400 a year (p. 205), Salary payment cannot fail to sap the independence of the assembly . . . Some observers note a new spirit of submissiveness in Parliament since salaries were introduced . . . It is certain that paid service to the public cannot compare in dignity and independence with unpaid service (p. 206). In all legislative assemblies, the greater the number composing them may be, the fewer will be the men who will in fact direct their proceedings (p. 218). 'It is impossible to legislate properly on any part without having the whole present to the mind.' (Mill quoted at p. 228.) "

These quotations are taken from Representative Government (published 1925), by H. Ford, a professor in U.S.A.

“Outrageous profiteering" (p. 213); “the monstrous pay-roll of an American legislative assembly" (p. 214); log-rolling (p. 215); “a noisy humbug and a costly sham" (p. 220); “Furtive manipulation for which American procedure allows scandalous opportunities” (p. 231); “Distribution of personal favors”;. . .“The same miserable situation exists in most countries having parliamentary institutions”; . . . “blackmailing use (of powers)” (p. 233); “passing the buck” (p. 234); "abominable abuse" (p. 236); " extorting personal favors "[Page 4] (p. 238); "systematic traffic in legislation"; . . . "collection and sale of political influence"; . . . " the whole machinery of popular election of representatives is deeply corrupted" . . . (p. 239); "members have been squared by private negotiations " (p. 242); . . . "dangerous exactions"... individual arrogance . . .."men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those they dislike" (p. 244); "often great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals" (p. 245); "Heavy . . .burden (of) election expenses . . . English experience ... (of its) . . . demoralizing effects upon . . . people" (p. 251); " Nursing a constituency " (p. 252); etc..

Such are some of the expressions scattered broadcast over the pages of the same book with reference to the U.S. American legislatures, and, in some instances, the English and others.Prof. Ford is not alone in his indictment. He is only typical. Prof. Hearnshaw, [See quotations in Sir Sivaswamy Iyer’s Constitutional Problems pub 1928] and many others, have written and are writing to much the same effect. Bryce, in his work on Modern Democracies (pub. 1921), written when he was about eighty years of age, and had spent many decades in dealing with practical politics as a high officer of State, describes and discusses conditions in many self-governing countries, and points out, in fine language, similar grave defects in all, in some more acute, in others less. He records how he once asked a prominent U. S. American, in one of the States, "What sort of a legislature have you got", and received the prompt reply, "As good as money can [Page 5] buy". Gettel, in his Introduction to Political Science (Edition of 1922), a recognized text-book, says, "At the present time the former confidence in legislative bodies is somewhat declining " (p. 253) in all countries.

Miss Follett, in The New State[This book praised by Lord Haldane and Prof Bosanquet, two competent judges catches glimpses of Indian Metaphysics as applicable to the administration of human affairs] says pithily, "Representative Government has failed" (p. 5, Edition of 1926).

Bryce lays special stress on the fearful mischief caused by the prostitution of the public press to false propaganda (II, 505). The Press, the greatest blessing of modern times, the most extensive and intensive illuminator of the human mind, a true light-bringer, is becoming the greatest curse, the worst darkener and deceiver. Lucifer, "light-bringer", the greatest and highest of the archangels, is "shooting beyond the mark", and over-reaching himself, and falling, and being transformed into the Prince of Evil and Darkness. "Electioneering claptrap" has become a byword. Professors of political science, journalists, men of affairs, lawyers, officials, platform-speakers, even novelists, all are inveighing against the corruption that pervades elections today, and against the character and conduct of the resulting personnel of the legislatures. Three questions that may be regarded as tests of successful administration of a [Page 6] country are — (1) Is the country satisfied with its legislature? (2) Has it discovered the way of ascertaining the vocational aptitudes of its youths ? (3) Is it prosperous; and if it is, is it really self-sufficing, or does its prosperity depend, partly or wholly, directly or indirectly, upon politico-economical exploitation of some weaker country; and if it is really thus self-sufficing, does it control the growth of its population or not ? A satisfactory answer is not available as regards any country, so far as the present writer is aware. Merivale and Gibbon, in their histories of Rome, repeatedly describe the gross malpractices of the political and ecclesiastical elections that took place in the times they deal with; so Macaulay in his history of England. Lord Haldane, with ample experience of practical politics, in his Introduction to Miss Follett's book above referred to, says:

"No Government will be successful which does not rest on the individual on his better side, and this . . . better side is to be reached neither by sending more people to the poll, nor by sending them more frequently (p. xiv)."

More ominous and arresting than all these quotations is the following extract from a publication more up-to-date than all these and far more intimately concerned with India, viz., the Report (pub. 1928) of the All-Parties' Committee (also known as the Nehru Committee, because the late great patriot of India, Pandit Motilal Nehru, was its [Page 7] President) prefixed to their Draft of the Swarãj Constitution of India.

"It is notorious that even in highly democratic England, votes are given, not for matters of high policy or considerations that are really important, but for trivial matters, or even sometimes most objectionable considerations which the exigencies of election-times force to the front — men, who were to govern an empire and influence largely world-events, have been elected for reasons which make every intelligent person despair of democracy (p. 37)."

For comment upon this, consider the following quotation from George Bernard Shaw. He is perhaps the most brilliant English author of the day, has reached the venerable age of seventy-five years, has lived most of that time and gathered mature experience of modern conditions and affairs in the busiest centers of life, in Britain, "the hub of the universe", was one of the founders of the famous Fabian Society nearly half a century ago, and has been working for social and political reform ever since. The result of all this experience he has put into a large book, published in 1928, called "The Intelligent Roman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism". Near the end of the book he arrives at this deliberate conclusion:

"If democracy is not to ruin us we must at all costs find some trustworthy method of testing the qualifications of candidates before we allow them to seek election. When we have done that, we may have great trouble in persuading the right people to come forward. We may even be driven to compel them; for those who fully understand how heavy are the responsibilities of government and how exhausting its labor are the least likely [Page 8]to shoulder them voluntarily. As Plato said, the ideal candidate is the reluctant one (pp. 454-5)."[Some sixteen hundred years after Plato, Sa’ãdî the famous Persian poet repeated the same sentiment which, again Vyãsa had embodied twenty-five hundred years before Plato, in the Mahãbhãrata, in telling the story of The Origin of the King (Shãnte-parva, ch 66). Sa’ãdî says, Pand agar bishnawî, ai pãdishãh!Dar hama ãlam beh az în pand n-îst,Juz ba khirad-mand ma farmã amal,Gar che amal kãr-e khirad-mand n-îst.

“If for wise maxim, ruler! art asearchIn all the world there’s none wiser than this –Let only righteous wisdom office hold,Though to hold office is indeed not wise!”]

The decency and propriety of feeling some reluctance to take up delicate and difficult work is so natural, and is such an obvious proof of the worthy possession of a keen sense of responsibility, that where it is not really felt, it is thought fit that persons should at least affect it! The Speaker of the British House of Commons had, until recently, to be pushed along by his friends, as part of the ceremonial, after his election, from his seat to the Speaker's Chair, resisting and shaking his shoulders, as sign of unwillingness ! (See MacDonagh's The Pageant of Parliament.) Per contra, "fools rush in where angels fear to tread", and, it must be confessed, sometimes muddle through, also!

Thus after a full course of modernism, Mr. Shaw begins to see good in Plato's ideal prince-philosopher. Another Greek, a couple of centuries [Page 9] older than Plato, viz., Lycurgus (as reported by-Plutarch), actually worked a scheme of ephors, the "best and wisest", for the Spartan Senate. In other words, Mr. Shaw says that (1) electees, i.e., the persons who are elected, should be possessed of certain qualifications, (2) there should be tests for ascertaining the possession of them, and (3) there should be means of persuading the possessors to undertake the onerous duties of legislation.But Mr. Shaw makes no suggestion on these all-important points at all. Nor does any of the other persons referred to above. Ford makes only the negative suggestion "that the representatives shall be so circumstanced that they can use their authority only on public account" (p, 158); "the only real security is that obtained by establishing such conditions that whoever is elected, good or bad, will have to behave himself properly" (p. 202); and it all comes to this that representatives should have "no power to vote to their own use offices and appropriations" (p. 203). This is sound but very insufficient. It does not, by itself, ensure actively and positively wise and beneficent legislation, promotive of public welfare at all. At most, it reduces the motives for the vicious to get into the legislature. It does not abolish all unworthy motives altogether. And it provides no inducements or facilities for the worthy and un-self-seeking to go in. The crux remains: How ensure that Swa-rãj shall be the rãj of the higher Swa and [Page 10] not of the lower, that self-government shall be governmenti.e., legislation, by the higher Self of the people, their best, wisest, most selfless, most philanthropic individuals, ("the better side", in the quotation from Haldane, above) and not by the astute schemers and self-seekers who are part of its lower self. When Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said, on an appropriate occasion, that "good government is no substitute for self-government," the saying sounded very well. But it is even more true that self-government which is not also good government, which is bad government, which is government by the lower self of the people, is not true self-government at all, and may be worse and less desirable than a good foreign government. How to make self-government coincide with good government is the problem — to vary the words of Ford. Legislation is the heart of government. Good and wise legislation must be secured above everything else. Efficient and honest execution of the laws will also be provided for by such legislation. The power of making the laws is, ultimately, the sovereign power. The person who has that power also knows how to provide forgetting his laws duly executed. If he does not, the power of making laws will not rest long in his hands.Therefore has it been said above that the extract from the All-Parties Committee's Report is of very grave and very ominous import to India. The Committee have called up an imminent prospect of [Page 11] despair; and have no more offered suggestions for warding it off than Messrs. G. B. Shaw and the others. India's own actual experience of elections of the modern style, in the last decade, has amply shown how unscrupulously elections are steered, how all the four devices of diplomacy, exhaustively ascertained by the ancient Indian science of politics, viz., sãmadãnadandabheda, cajoling, bribery, intimidation, and division (divide et impera), are employed by candidates, and vast amounts of money are spent in debasing and demoralizing all concerned.Do the traditions, the genius, the ancient spirit of India, offer any solution ?In what has gone before, an attempt has been made to show that western writers themselves confess that western self-governments have failed to solve the crucial problem of how to secure the combination of high degrees of both intellectual as well as ethical fitness in their legislators, though such combination is vitally necessary for true and successful self-government.

"Whether or not it be true that in European countries the intellectual level of legislative assemblies has been sinking, it is clear that nowhere does enough of that which is best in the character and talent of the nation, find its way into those assemblies" (II, 373). (Yet) "Mazzini described democracy as the progress of all through all under the leading of the best and wisest, (and said that) Authority is sacred only when consecrated by Genius and Virtue" (II, 609). "Two dangers threaten . . . all modern democracies. One is the tendency to allow self-interest to grasp the machinery of governments [Page 12] and turn that machinery to ignoble deeds. The other is the . . . dissemination by the printed word, of untruths and fallacies and incitements to violence, which we have learnt to call propaganda " (II, 505).[Self-interest is obviously the opposite of Virtue and Propaganda the perversion of Genius] "Philosophers . . . though they knew that a state needs uprightness and public spirit as well as intellect in the rulers, . . . never succeeded in showing how the possessors of those qualities are to be found and chosen" (II, 604). Bryce, Modern Democracies.

In the Preface to his latest book, The Apple Cart, (pub. 1930), Mr. G. B. Shaw says:

" What I should like is a real test of their capacity (i.e., of the candidates for election) . . . The election addresses convey nothing whatever to me as to their character or political capacity . . . What I am waiting for is the discovery of a process by which we can ascertain what is right (or wrong) with him mentally . . . When everything has been done that can be done, civilisation will still be dependent on the consciences of the governors and the governed . . . We have been badly brought up, and are full of anti-social personal ambitions and prejudices and snobberies. Had we not better teach our children to be better citizens than ourselves ? We are not doing that at present. The Russians are. That is my last word. Think over it." (pp. xxii-xxiv).

- 2 - EASTERN THOUGHT

Have the Indian sages of long ago thought over it ? Have they already discovered the process for the discovery of which Mr. Shaw is waiting, and which their unfortunate descendants have forgotten now for many centuries ?[Page 13]Have the ancient Indian philosophers succeeded in doing what, according to Bryce, Western philosophers have not ? And have they also told us how to teach and what to teach to our children so as to make certain that they will find, persuade, and elect only the good and the wise to the legislatures, so that the laws made shall be good and wise ?The Veda is the sacred scripture of the Indian Âryans in theory; but, in practice, Manu-Smrti is the basis of their socio-politico-religious polity and civilization. It deals with all departments of the people's life in the course of twelve chapters. Near the end of the twelfth chapter, it says:

"The final secret, the fundamental principle, of this Human Science, this Code of Life expounded by Manu, is this — when situations arise for which the current available laws are not helpful, and which call for new legislation, then what the honored and trusted men of knowledge and experience, the good and wise elders, possessed of tapasya and vidyãself-denial and learningvirtue and genius, decide to be right and proper to do, that shall be the law " (xii, 104-108).

Thus is the principle of living legislation laid down by the ancient Smrti. And it goes on to describe the qualifications and marks of "the good and wise elders". Manu's injunctions on this point have to be supplemented by the discourses of others, Vyãsa, Shukra, Yajñavalkya, etc..Briefly, (1) the legislators should not be very many in numbers; a minimum of ten, or three, or in emergencies, even of one, is mentioned, but the [Page 14] one must be a thoroughly and widely trusted person, full of wisdom, i.e., knowledge of human nature plus philanthropy, adhyãtma-vit-tamah; large numbers, "even tens of thousands", of unwise individuals cannot make good laws (Manu, ch. xii; Yãjñavalkya, i, 9). For comment on this consider the following. J. S. Mill says:

"No government of a democracy or a numerous aristocracy . . . ever did or could rise above mediocrity, except in so far as the sovereign many have let themselves be guided, which in their best time they have always done, by the counsels and influence of a more highly gifted and instructed one or few."

Though the full complements of the English Houses of Lords and Commons are over six hundred each, yet the quorum for the former is only three, and for the latter, forty. Also, as the published reports show, the active debaters and deliberators, the real law-makers, are to be counted on the fingers, and are almost all grey-haired, well past middle age, or even white-haired and old, i.e., possessed of mature experience. The remaining hundreds are there only for kudos, or sport, or the intellectual pleasure of hearing good debates, or delivering brilliant talk and smart repartee and witty retort and slashing attack, etc., or for high life and fine company and the delights of " the best club in the world", or for ulterior purposes and grinding axes and feathering nests, etc. — all which motives may have their play elsewhere, but surely have no natural place in a law-making assembly, [Page 15] which should be composed of "grave and reverend seigneurs", large-minded and large-hearted patriarchs of the nation. Some departments of the executive services are the proper place for the utilization of the other motives.Manu's dictum may be illustrated by another very modern writer.

"The secret of sound administration is a knowledge of the particular facts of the general method of human behavior" (i.e., psychology, adhyãtma-vidyã) ". As Anatole France says, “sovereignty resides in science, and not in the people. Foolishness repeated by thirty-six million mouths is none the less foolishness". George E. G. Cutlin, The Science and Method of Politics, p. 348 (pub. 1927).

(2) The law-makers should be such persons as are already widely trusted and honoredare known to be possessed of self-denial and experience, which two together constitute the title to trust and honor, and invariably do secure them. The principle of selection and election by the people is embodied here. It is not enough for a person to be good and wise and unselfish. He must be recognized as such by the people. The rule of decision by the majority, Mahã-jano yena gatah sa panthãh, “The proper way is that which the majority follows", and the rule of legislation by the few, are reconciled in this way; the majority decide which few shall make the law. In Mill's words, they “let themselves be guided by a gifted one or few ". The Samskrt word puro-hita etymologically means “he who has been put forward, placed in [Page 16] front, selected and elected as guide and leader, for the performance of all religio-legal actions whereby the good of the people is promoted “EthicoP16AThe ways of ascertaining the opinion of the people may have been different in the olden days, but the principle and its application in practice, in some form or other, were there. The old way was to look at a person's whole past life and work; the modern way is to look at his hundred rantings and stump orations in the course of a whirlwind campaign of a few weeks and at his offerings of liquor, refreshments, and cash.

(3) “The king, the head of the executive, shall be ruler over the people, but the puro-hita, the legislature, shall be ruler over the king."ethicoP16B

In other words, the legislature shall control the executive; and the two functions shall not be combined.

(4) The legislature and the king's counselors shall consist of representatives of the various sciencesand of the main vocational sections of the People, the Society, the Social Organization. (Manu, xii; MahãbhãrataShãnti-parva, ch. 85; Shukra-nîti, chas, i and ii, 166, 167; also Vãlmîki’s Rãmãyana, Bãla-kãnda, ch 7) [Page 17]Manu prominently mentions representation of the three first orders of society, viz., the student, the householder, and the publicist retired from household life (i.e., the vãna-prastha, who has ceased from competitive bread-winning and money-making and spends his time and resources in unremunerated public work, yajña-s, pious works of various kinds and self-sacrificing charities, and study of the inner sciences. Vyãsa lays stress on the representation of the four main vocations of society, the four natural and inevitable estates of every civilized realm:

“Four men of learning, especially versed in medical science, human psychology and physiology, eighteen men of action, versed in the arts of executive administration and of war, twenty-one men of agriculture and trade, of business and finance of all kinds, three men of labor, and one person at least who should be specially versed in history; and all should be of pure character and of mature age."

That the West is slowly advancing towards what is being variously called functional or occupational or vocational representation, in place of an indiscriminate universal franchise without any of the very greatly needed guidance to the electors whom to elect, is indicated by such. statements of western writers as the following:

“At present most political issues are economic in nature, and parties represent common interests in occupations. . . . The landed classes, the capitalists, the labor party, the socialists, free silverites, and similar groupings, are typical." (Gettell, Political Science, p. 291) [Page 18]“Neighborhood and occupational groups, either independently or one through the other, must both find representation in the State." (Follett, The New State, p. 321.)

The first three, if “the learned classes" were added to them, would obviously correspond with the four vocational classes (varnas) of ancient India (before the days of perversion into rigidly hereditary caste]; and the others would all go as sub-divisions under the main four. It may also be noted that most of the legislatures of the West today consist of two houses, and, very broadly speaking, the Upper House consists of representatives of the men of learning and the men of action (the higher clergy and the nobility in England), and the lower, of those of men of business (capitalists) and men of labor. In the technical terms of psychology, these four would be called, men and women (1) of knowledge, (2) of action, (3) of (wealth-making) desire, and (4) of undifferentiated, mostly unskilled, labor. The legislator should have done good work in any one of the multifarious walks of life, which form the sub-divisions of the above main four vocations, and should have earned a good name for uprightness, helpfulness, and philanthropic public spirit (Mbh, Shãnti, Ch. 83), This implies that he should be fairly advanced in yearsShukra-nîti (ii, 166, 167) mentions ripe age expressly among other qualifications.

The Taittirîya Upanishat also supplements Manu on this point. [Page 19]

When there is a doubt as to what is the right course, then the course prescribed and followed by the wise men who are just and impartial-minded, not actuated by any partisan-feeling, same-sighted, gentle of nature, tolerant and not bigoted, law-abiding, dharma-loving, thoughtful, renowned, looked to by the people for guidance, regarded and appointedelectedãyukta, as counselors by the people — the course advised by such shall be the lawful course.

(5) Smrtis say that makers of and advisers on law shall not sell it, shall not be dharma-vikrayî-s. If follows implicitly that they should not go about canvassing, begging that people should receive the law from them. It is curious that the legal practitioner is punished for employing touts, which is the same thing as canvassing, while the would-be legislator is encouraged in doing so.On the question of payments to legislators, Plato says:

Good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves (Republic, Jowett's translation, Clarendon Press, 3rd Edition, p. 25).

On the subject of canvassing, his opinion is that

The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him. . . The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him .. . neither are the wise to go to the doors of the rich. When a man is ill, whether he is rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern (p. 186).

Of course, modern conditions, with huge states, some extending over millions of square miles, and comprising hundreds of millions of inhabitants, are [Page 20] different from those of Plato's tiny city states; and men not rich in cash, representing distant parts, might find it impossible to meet even the mere traveling expenses from their private purse; but while the outer conditions may be different, human nature continues to be very much the same. Ford's views have been quoted before. Mill was strongly against money payment to legislators. Bryce says:

“Wherever rich men abound, the power of money is formidable in elections and in the press, and corruption more or less present. I will not say that wherever there is money there will be corruption, but true it is that Poverty and Purity go together. The two best administered democracies in the modern world have been the two poorest, the Orange Free State before 1899" (which seems to be a commentary on the benefits accruing to Boerland from its absorption by the British Empire) “and the Swiss Confederation . . . The rise of a large class of professional politicians must be expected if large salaries are paid to representatives . . . Such a class grows in proportion to the work party organizations have to do, and patronage is misused for party purposes wherever lucrative posts or so-called honors are at the disposal of a party executive" (II, 503). “Of these faults ... (1) the power of money to pervert administration or legislation, (2) the tendency to make politics a gainful profession, (3) extravagance in administration . . . have been observed in all governments, though the forms of all three are now different, and their consequences more serious (II, 504). Modern Democracies.

MODERN DEMOCRACIES

The solution of the dilemma, suggested by the principles indicated in the Smrtis, seems to be that ex-officio expenses, of traveling, housing, etc., [Page 21] should be paid from the public state funds, but no cash salaries or allowances or personal expenses; such personal expenses, if absolutely necessary, as when the electee happens to be a genuine ascetic vowed to poverty, may be borne by friends and electors, or defrayed by public subscriptions and honoraria, with honor redounding to both; [Foot-note to p. 21: Plutarch's Lives contain a few instances approximating to these conditions. In our own day, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, first Laborite Premier of England, was once charged by political opponents, large of purse and very small of mind, with having accepted an expensive motor-car from some one. He was triumphantly vindicated by a public statement that the car had been lent to him, by a friend, for use during his tenure of office, because he was too poor to buy one for himself, and too incapable of doing on foot all the running about which a Premier had to do unavoidably] and, finally, that, as inducement to shoulder the burden and do his best, distinctive honor should be paid to the legislator as such; while power, in the sense of official authority, should be entrusted to the (mostly salaried) executive, with responsibility to the legislature; and wealth as such, and until spent to the extent of self-sacrifice on public and charitable works, should be expressly and specifically, by public law, ranked below honor, which should rank first, and power, which should rank second. It will be found on scrutiny that human instinct has always ranked these three in this order, and is doing so today; but, because the psychology of the subject has been lost sight of, therefore it is done in an utterly imperfect and ineffective manner. That which nature itself indicates as right and proper, has only to be clearly recognized and regularized, in order to influence the administration of human affairs beneficially.If this gradation and partition (i.e., comparative separation) of the four great prizes of life, honor, power (or authority), wealth, and amusement, is [Page 22] made by public law (as also of the four main kinds of livelihood) between the four types of social workers, the indispensable sufficient personal or individualistic incentive to good work will be provided, on the one hand, and, on the other, the temptation to abuse and misuse of the four (i.e., of honor by “trading on reputation" to obtain the other three, of power by oppression of the weak to secure the other three, of wealth by bribery to purchase the other three, of amusement by excess and dissipation to ruin all, soul and body) will be minimized. It will make the prostitution of any one for the gain of the other three almost impossible, or, at least, very difficult.If this is done, and the suggestions of the old Smrtis, embodying the genius, the spirit, the individuality, the traditions of India, are utilized duly, it will be found that the three problems, in the terms of Mr. G. B. Shaw, of (1) qualifications, (2) tests, (3) persuasives, are all capable of satisfactory solution.[ For a more systematic application of the suggestions to modern Indian conditions, the reader may refer to the text and the appendix of the Outline Scheme of Swarãj published by Deshabandhu C. R. Das and the undersigned in 1923. The speech of the undersigned, in support of a motion of amendment, re qualifications of legislators, made on the last day of the sessions of the All-Parties Convention at Calcutta (from 22-12-1928 to 1-1-1929) and published as an Appendix to the Report of the Proceedings of the Convention supplies some details and comments on some of the points touched on in the text above. Some (revised) extracts from it are given in an Appendix to this pamphlet] [Page 23]Unfortunately, the insane communal disputes that have been and are occupying and disturbing all minds in unhappy India; the fetish of practicalism which obsesses most of the educated-minds that are engaged in the work of political reform — practicalism in different yet allied forms, “Let us not talk in the air", “Don't indulge in impatient idealism". “We don't want doctrinaire philosophizing", “Don't look too far ahead", “One step enough for me", “Enough for the day is the evil thereof”, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush", etc.; the glamour of western political and economic words and methods, and of legal phrases and conventional maxims, drawing unjustifiable sustenance and power from the misused realities and results of western science — “the nations which have aeroplanes and submarines and machine-guns and devastating explosives must also necessarily have sound political and economic and legal maxims and practices and arrangements — even though they have all been trying very hard to cut each other's throats very recently, and are still looking askance and growling at each other" [ By the way, this fact should suggest the desirability of making Japan suzerain over all the nations of Europe, including Britain, to keep the peace between them, to those British politicians who are always repeating that the British alone can and are keeping the peace between Hindû and Muslim in India, out of pure philanthropy ! Many honest English writers have stated that the British policy has itself been all along that of divide et impera, instead.] the feeling that [Page 24] enslaved India's past can have no lessons to give except by contrast, a feeling strengthened by the awful retrogressiveness, the crass narrow-mindedness, the blind self-seekings of the orthodox Pandits and Maulavis and professional religio-political leaders; the lack, on the part of many, perhaps most, of the active and prominent political workers of the country, of deep and sympathetic study of the ancient Samskrt and Arabic-Persian literature; the consequent impatient rejection of the sound, together with the worn-out or corrupt, ideas of the East, and the hasty acceptance of and obsession by the bad, together with the good, ideas of the West; and, almost more than all else the exigencies of the rush and hustle of day-to-day politics; — these leave no inclination and no energy to Indian political leaders to take the trouble of thinking out a comprehensive scheme based on long as well as broad views; no wish and no time to “go to the root of the matter" and find out the solution of the political crux, and so combine active forward movement with a deeply thought-out philosophy of the movement, looking before as well as after, and aiming at a high ideal always through the daily practical.The terrible welter of isms in the modern West, from individualism and Fascism, through socialism, State-socialism, guild-socialism, collectivism, and communism of many kinds, to the culmination [Page 25] in Bolshevism — which, incidentally, seems to be taking new shapes and turns every year, if not every month — all this ferment is only the endeavor of the Human Oversoul to arrive at a new and better organization of society. The endeavor is not succeeding, because men persistently ignore certain deep-seated facts and laws of human psychology. It appears laughably absurd for any son of “ India in Bondage" to suggest that the traditions of such a fallen India had in the past reconciled all these isms by taking due cognisance of those facts and laws, and embodied them in a social polity, which though it is the best practical combination of individualism and socialism, has now become the laughing-stock of the world, because of the terrible perversion of the whole system from the basis of karma to that of janma, of elastic spontaneous variation to rigid hidebound heredity, and the permeation of it by a fatuous, reasonless, idiotic touch-me-not-ism.

COMBINATION OF OLD AND NEW THOUGHT

If modern thinkers could apply the old theory to practice, with modifications suited to the new conditions, they would probably find many of their difficulties solved. History shows that the only sound practice is that which is based upon sound theory . Art and craft without science [Page 26] behind them are shaky rule of thumb. Medical practice without knowledge of anatomy and physiology and many other sciences is quackery. So political practice without knowledge of the psychology and philosophy of human nature is the most mischievous and dangerous charlatanism and chicanery.

Individualism and socialism are both necessary. Individual and society, I and We, are both obviously indispensable to each other. To suppress either is inevitably to suppress the other also. Absolute equality, homogeneity, is to be found only in pralaya, chaos. A cosmos means heterogeneity, differentiation, inequality.

Sãmyam pralayahvaishamyam srshtih. “Sameness is world-disappearance, world-slumber, dissolution, unconsciousness; Difference is world-reappearance, world-waking, evolution, consciousness". So says ancient Sañkhya. So say modern Herbert Spencer and all the evolutionists and scientists? Human beings are not equal but different in psycho-physical temperaments. If they were equal, they would have to be made unequal, to make life interesting enough to be tolerable, at this stage of human evolution. A soul that experiences the parental and the filial as well as the fraternal emotions is spiritually at least three times (in reality very many more times) richer than one which knows the fraternal only. Mere equality without seniority [Page 27] and juniority, superiority and inferiority, would soon become very monotonous and dull. Excess of equality and sameness as well as of inequality has to be avoided, as far as possible. As said before, there are four main types of temperaments. The main functions of a socio-political organism are correspondingly four: (1) education, (2) protection, (3) nourishment by wealth-production, (4) assistance of the other three by comparatively little skilled labor. The main prizes or luxuries of life are four: (1) honor, (2) power, (3) wealth, i.e., artistic possessions, and (4) play and amusement. The main ways of livelihood, of earning a living, are four:

(1) public and private honoraria;(2) taxes, tributes, public salaries;(3) agriculture, dairy-farming, cattle-rearing, trades and industries of all kinds;(4) ample living wage, housing, recreation. [See Manu, IV, 1-13; X 74-130]

These means of living should be partitioned between the four types, thereby ensuring that the minimum necessaries of life, food, clothing, housing, etc., should be secured to all. And the four luxuries too should be partitioned equitably between the four temperments and types of workers between whom the social labor should be divided, so as to act as incentives to each to put forth his or her best for the promotion and refinement of civilisation and the general welfare. So also each. [Page 28] individual life should be organized and regularly divided into the four stages into which nature already divides it: (1) student, living and studying at the expense of parents and society at large; (2) bread-winning, competing, social-labor-sharing householder; (3), un-remunerated publicist; and (4) hermit, anchorite, religieux, renunciant, preparing for the larger life beyond this life, and helping society by prayer and blessing and the potent example of a well-lived life.These general principles are of use and applicability in any and every form of government, and any and every form of social organization. The most benevolent despotism cannot help its subjects better and make them happier than by imposing some such arrangement upon them. And the most extreme form of communistic Bolshevism which still remains helplessly the Peasants, Soldiers and (a) brain, and b) muscle) Workers' Soviet", (i.e., the same four main vocational types, again) will also achieve the end of securing the greatest happiness of the greatest number by utilizing these principles — and will secure equality also, but in the sense of equitable partition of the luxuries of life, which are the only, the best, the strongest incentives to hard and effective and high-class work. Even Bolshevik Russia requires educators and scientists, and in very large numbers. The idea of attracting the best in sufficient numbers by [Page 29] giving them attractively high pay — does not pay! There is not money enough. And more, those who are attracted by money are not good enough real scientists and real educators; they are only moneymakers ! The small cash-pay necessary for necessaries must be eked out with honor-pay. So soldiers and captains and generals are needed, and also executive policemen and magistrates and administrators of various kinds. As in comparatively poor Japan, which cannot afford to pay high salaries, like plutocratic U. S. A. and Britain, to its public servants, they have to be satisfied with the power of authority besides the not more than necessary pay. So leaders and guides and managers of wealth-production are needed. Bolshevik Russia, too, despite vaunted equality, and abolition of private property, etc., finds itself compelled to take the help of foreign capitalist concessionaires (“men of acquisitive desire" with special natural talents for producing, managing, accumulating wealth of all kinds, principally necessaries, and in the next degree other consumable goods) on the terms of these latter, and let them make money. And it is doing all this with a very ill grace, a very evil grace, with a great deal of confusion and dissatisfaction and oppression of and misery to the people (even according to the most favorable reports) — because it does not recognize what nature, human nature, is loudly shouting in its ears; because it has not solved the crucial [Page 30] problem of politics, governs by means of a Presidium, i.e., a clique, a cabal, a caucus, or even by a single dictator, and has not secured, by any well-thought out and permanently and easily working method, genius plus virtue, character plus talent, intellectual plus ethical fitness, goodness plus experienced knowledge, selflessness plus wisdom, uprightness and public spirit plus ability, for its legislature.[ What is written about Russia is based on the very imperfect and unreliable information which is available in India, and must be regarded as subject to correction]It is by no means impossible to utilize the solution suggested here, even when society is not regularly, but only instinctively and more or less imperfectly, organized, as it is in all countries today. But if the individual life as well as the social life were organized, ordered, planned out, as above suggested, in accordance with Manu's views, [See the present writer’s The Science of Social Organization, or The Laws of Manu and as it is intended by nature to be, then there would always be available, ready at hand, a more than sufficient number of amply qualified persons in “the third stage" of life, to supply all demands for honorary workers of the finest qualifications, ethical as well as intellectual, for the performance of the highest kind of legislative, advisory, supervisory, judicial, arbitrational, and similar other public work. In the setting of a regulated social organization, as very broadly indicated [Page 31] above, the crucial problem of political science and art would be solved of itself, because a sufficient number of the best type of legislators would always be available among individuals in the third stage of life, retired from competitive bread-winning or money-making, looking upon the whole community with the benevolent eyes of patriarchal helpfulness (which all-embracing kindness of feeling is not possible to one still engaged in competition), full of the sense of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, possessed of full experience of some one important department of the national life, of knowledge of human nature through having reared a family in the midst of other families, of necessary leisure, of good name and fame and the trust and confidence of a large circle of fellow-countrymen, free of economic dependence and free also of dependents which and who confuse the mind, and able to bring mature judgment and benevolent wisdom to bear on all questions of public welfare in such a way as to preserve a due balance between and give just help and promotion to all right interests, a due balance of power between all the classes within each nation, or, rather, each people — a gentler, sweeter, more humane word.

WHAT AND HOW TO TEACH ?

The prime condition — and this is the answer to the very important query, What to teach and How to [Page 32] teach it to our children? — for the ushering in of such a millennium, for the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, the essence of which is Legislation by the Good and Wise — the prime condition is that in school and college, [For the kind of educator needed, see the present writer’s The Science of Social Organization, ch iii, “The Problems of Education”] and The Unity of All Religions, the section on “Education and the Educationist”. through press, from platform, the peoples of the earth, children and adults, young and old, men and women, should have it persistently and perpetually instilled into their hearts, (1) that Self-Government, spiritual as well as political, individual as well as social, domestic as well as economic, in the home as well as the factory, the place of business as well as the law court, in a train and on a ship, is government by the Higher Self, the God in Man, and not by the Lower Self, the Devil in Man; (2) that the persons in whose hearts and minds the Higher Self reigns may be recognized by such and such marks, the outer symbols of the inner grace, and (3) that Human Society, and also each Individual Life, should be organized in accordance with a few plain and simple psychological principles, to give free play to that Higher Self.

EthicoP32

 

 

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