|October 2-the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
(Born Oct 2,1869 ,died Jan 30,1948 ) was an occasion
to reflect on some Non-Western Anarchisms.
In his article “Contemporary Anarchism” Eric Kerl writes
about the wide breadth of ideas often contradictory which
fall under the umbrella of Anarchism. It is not uncommon
for people for such as Max Stirner, Leo Tolstoy, Henry
David Thoreau, Michael Bakunin, Emma Goldman, or even
Gandhi to be included in the broad tradition of anarchism.
Is Anarchism relevant in the post-Gaddafi turmoil of Libya
We examine this by taking note of some conversations
which will probably help to create a meta-language
of sensitivity and help guide the discussion beyond
1. Thinking with the Worker
2. Thinking with the patient, and issues of medical insurance
3. Thinking on the revenge mentality-will it lead to justice or peace?
4. Reflecting on Tolstoy’s definition of Murderer
5. Creative possibilities by having democracy based on non-violence
Non Western Traditions of Anarchism
Anarchism finds its first and most well-known expression in India
with Mahatma Gandhi’s statement, ‘the state evil is not the
cause but the effect of social evil, just as the sea-waves are
the effect not the cause of the storm. The only way of curing
the disease is by removing the cause itself…the state is perfect
and non-violent where the people are governed the least.
The nearest approach to purest anarchy would be a democracy
based on non-violence. ”
Jason Adams, Non Western Anarchisms: Rethinking the Global
context (Soweto:South Africa:Zabalza Books, 2003)
Thinking with the worker
“My wife is working in the health sector. Earlier I had a job in the
construction sector but now my company has closed and I am
looking for a job,” a friend from India told.
He has started a selling cheap international phone cards to
“Do you think you are very capable?
We will find someone to replace you.”
When the Philippino staff nurse asked the director why he was
being so harsh when all she was asking for was a visa to visit
her family, he backed out- I was just joking.
Such insensitivity towards someone who stayed with them
throughout the civil war is not uncommon.
Thinking with the patient
Last month Bupa international, the leading international health
insurance provider, and Sahara Insurance Company,
announced joining forces to provide international private
medical insurance plans for organizations based in Libya. (1)
While corporates linked with oil and government agencies get
insurance a large number of Libyans go without proper health insurance.
“I work and deposit my money in the bank.
I do not get insurance, the banker and his family gets it, Why?”
Medical workers without Medical Insurance
Do you have insurance?
When I asked this to several foreign workers in private medical clinics,
“Ironically, though we work in clinics where many patients come
through insurance providers like BUPA the workers in these very
institutions have no medical insurance.”
In places like Dubai it is mandatory for the employer to provide
medical insurance to the workers. This is not so in Libya.
Need for Restorative justice
The discourse of justice being interpreted as revenge will have
to be re-thought out in creative ways, while keeping the moral
compass in present day Libya.
“ We do not want to stretch this further.
But if we will be persecuted, we have no option,”
Democracy based on nonviolence and modeling a
“ Truth and Reconciliation Commission” like in South Africa
Will help healing better.
“But what about Justice” comes an alternative opinion.
“There can be no closure without justice.”
The debates continue.
Democracy based on Non-violence
Tolstoy’s doctrine of “Non-resistance to evil” influenced Gandhi
and introduced “Soul-Force” into human history, thus changing
the course of humanity.
As one muses on the themes of spirit of this revolution,
the means and what it means for the workers on the ground,
a revisiting of some previous thoughts will help perspective
In “ One year on, what is the change”
we revised the meaning of “Murderer”
Was wondering about this meaning of “Murderer” as
asked by Count Leo Tolstoy
In another pamphlet, entitled “How many Men are Necessary to
Change a Crime into a Virtue?” he says:
“One man may not kill. If he kills a fellow-creature, he is a murderer.
If two, ten, a hundred men do so, they, too, are murderers.
But a government or a nation may kill as many men as it chooses,
and that will not be murder, but a great and noble action.
Only gather the people together on a large scale, and a battle
of ten thousand men becomes an innocent action.
But precisely how many people must there be to make it so?–
that is the question. One man cannot plunder and pillage,
but a whole nation can.
But precisely how many are needed to make it permissible?
Why is it that one man, ten, a hundred, may not break the
law of God, but a great number may?”
Tolstoy, Leo.The Kingdom of God is Within You.
* * *
Exploring the nature of finiteness, ego and evil on Gandhi Jayanti
made us revisit some meanings and definitions.
Talking to persons on the ground, workers,patients, common
citizens, some big-company representatives, some relatives
seeking cross-border care, and listening to news of increasing
intolerance, makes it even more pertinent to reflect
on the following words of Emma Goldman
“No revolution can ever succeed as a factor of liberation
unless the means used to further it be identical in spirit and
tendency with the purposes to be achieved.”
In these conversations we try to seek a common
language going beyond the rhetoric of revenge
and corporates to real issues of people.
Notes and suggested further reading:
Other posts of interest
Which Historiography: In search of the unknown worker
The Eight hour day-Remembering Hay market in Tripoli
Remembering Studs Terkel-I want to conserve the blue of the skies.
Reflections on our Republic Day