DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 29 Subhash Chandra Bose (1897—1945)
Explain ideas of Subhash Chandra Bose.
Subhash Bose admitted that no single political theory was adequate to discuss the total aspect of reality but he considered that the Hegelian concept of dialectical progression both in the realism of logical concepts and in the realm of spatio-temporal manifestation is more adequate than the Spencerian theory of evolution or the Bergsonian, “concept of creating evolution.’
Subhash Bose said, “But undoubtedly Hegel’s theory is the nearest approximation to truth. It explains the fact more satisfactorily than any other theory. At the same time, it can not be regarded as the whole truth, since all the facts, as we know them, do not accord with it”.
Though Bose was impressed by the Hegelian theory of dialectical evolution in the world-process, yet he did not accept the Hegelian theory of the national character of reality’.
However, Bose conceived of love as the ‘nature of reality’. He wrote, “For me, the essential nature of reality is Love. Love is the essence of the universe and is the essential principle in human life. I admit that this conception is also imperfect – for I do do not know today what reality is in itself and I can not lay claim to knowing the Absolute today – even if it be within the ultimate reach of human knowledge or experience. Nevertheless with all its imperfection, for me this theory represents the maximum truth and the nearest approach to absolute truth.
I may be asked how I came to the conclusion that the essential nature of Reality is Love. I am afraid my epistemology is not quite orthodox. I have come to this conclusion partly from a rational study of life in all aspects – partly from institution and partly from pragmatic considerations. I see all around me the play of love. I perceive within on the same instinct ; I feel that I must love in order to feel free myself and I need love as the basic principle on which to reconstruct life.
A plurality of consideration drives me to one and same conclusion. I have remarked above that the essential principle in human life is love. This statement may be challenged when one can see so much in life that is opposed to love ; but the paradox can be easily explained. The ‘essential principle’ is not fairly manifest yet ; it is unfolding itself in space and time. Love, like reality of which it is the essence, is dynamic.”
Bose as a political realist.
Bose in the beginning was a spiritual realist but later became political realist. He was against the mingling of political and ethical issues. Bose criticised Gandhian ideas because he considered that ‘Gandhism Politics’ was not discussed on its own plane. He commented, “we have to render into Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
Opposed to the philosophy of moral orientation to politics.
There system that finds ‘enumerated at a theoretical plane in Plato, Cicero and Green’ and later accepted and put into practice by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi, had no appeal to Bose. He disfavoured any attempt for mixing up of the spheres of Caesar and Christ.
Bose’s concept of political bargaining.
Bose, being a realist believed in the teachnique of ‘Political bargaining’. He said, “the secret of political bargaining is to look more strong than you really are”.
He was displeased the way Gandhi attended the Second Round Table Conference held in London in 1931 and the simple humility shown by Gandhiji by laying all his views. Subhash Bose strongly felt that ‘Gandhiji should have spoken at the. Round Table Conference in a firm voice of political strength’. He wrote, “If, on the contrary, the Mahatma would have spoken in the language of Dictator Stalin, or Duce Mussolini or Fuhrer Hitler, John Bull would have understood and would have bowed his head in respect”.
Subhash Bose was a practical politician and not a moralist or a philosopher. He was of the view that one had raise himself equal to the demands of the political situation.
Bose was emphatic in his declaration that no motion could be built on the basis of expediency. Expediency as the basis of nation building had been propagated by Edmund Burke and Surendranath Banerjee. Bose maintained that for nation building what needed was a genuine attempt at the reconstruction of the nation necessitated the embracing of the uncompromising idealism of Hampden and Crowmwell.
Bose followed with Vivekananda had said that there could be no gain without sacrifice or no realisation without renunciation. Bose maintained that for attaining political freedom one had to face intense sufferings. Great moral preparations are to be made to win independence. He wanted that Indian people should be ready to face grave situations to win independence.
Favoured economic and social equality.
Besides realising the need of political freedom, Bose realised that the battle between the rich and the poor, capitalist and labourers, landlord and peasant, were also unavoidable. It was his belief that the rich (or the ‘have’s’) would be inclined towards the British in the war of independence.
He, therefore, wrote, “The logic of history will, therefore, follow Its inevitable course. The political struggle and the social struggle will have to be conducted simultaneously. The party, that will win political freedom for India will be also the party that will win social and economic freedom for the masses.”
Subhash Bose wanted social disparities to go from the Indian society and thus, by- the thirties, he became a recognised spokesman of the leftist ideology in India. Explaining his stand, on March 19, 1940, he said, “The present age is anti-imperialist phase of our movement. Our main task in this age is to end imperialism and win national independence for the Indian people. When freedom comes the age of national reconstruction will commence and that will he the socialist phase of our movement.
In the present phase of our movement, leftists will be those will wage an uncompromising fight with imperialism. Those who waver or vacillate in their struggle against imperialism – those who tend toward a compromise with it – cannot by any means be leftists. In the next phase of our movement leftism will be synonymous with socialism – put in the present phase the words ‘leftist’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ should be interchangeable’’.
Discuss Bose’s ideas about contemporary ideologies.
1. Bose’s ideas about Gandhism.
Subhash Bose respected the character and personality of Gandhiji. His broadcast on July 6,1944, from the Rangoon Radio in which he hailed Gandhiji as the ‘Father of the Nation’ has vindicated this cause. Subhash Bose also sought Gandhiji’s ‘blessings in the war of India’s liberation’.
‘He is proud of his devotion to truth’ and praised the purity of his character.’ Bose was much impressed by Gandhiji’s single-hearted devotion, his relentless will, and his indefatigable labour. Bose also appreciated his ‘humanitarian outlook and his freedom from hatred’.
He recognized the great work of Gandhi in the Consolidation of the Indian National Congress and in bringing about a great mass awakening. But he never became a Gandhian. He stated that ‘Gandhism was only concerned with a technique of action – Satyagraha, but had no social philosophy or programmes for social reconstruction’.
Bose, was a political realist, and so be could not appreciate the far extending ethical idealism of Gandhi. ‘He felt that the political issues were confused by engaging in subtle ethical investigation into the purity of motivations.’ It was his belief that political action needed bargaining technique and the keeping up of a show.
He indicated that Gandhi ‘had1 been playing a double role of a political leader of the Indian masses and of the ethical world teacher of non-violence. He felt that this created confusion and the Mahatma could not play the dual role successfully’, because ‘it is not always easy to play two roles in one person.’ According to Bose Gandhi failed to recognize the technique and conspiracies hatched by the ‘British politicians and reactionaries’.
Bose said that non-violence alone could not bring independence. Non-violent Satyagraha was recognized, the capacity of arousing public opinion but by itself it cannnot bring independence. Bose wanted to supplement it by two other techniques
(a) international propaganda
(b) diplomacy. Subhash Bose felt that Gandhi ought to have felt the Second Round Table Conference when he had realised its uselessness. He also wanted that Gandhi should have toured America and the European continent to expose the Britishes and reality of the second conference.
Gandhi claimed to represent the whole Indian nation and hence to lessen the antagonism of the various sectors he stood for social harmony and reconciliation. He realised that the richer section of the society in the country would tend to deviate to the side of British imperialists. Therefore, he was opposed to more single opposition of ‘hetrogeneous elements under the aegis of Gandhism’.
It was his dream that a leftist party would come up to crystallize the militant and radical forces of the country. He visualised that such a party working outside the Gandhian leadership would achieve India’s independence. Bose at the end of his book, ‘The Indian Struggle’ had augmented, “But India’s salvation will not be achieved under
Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership”. However this declaration of Bose went against the historical truth.
Bose opposed Gandhi for his conscious and unconscious exploitation of the weak elements in the mass psychology of the Indian people. ‘Bose argued that the Indian masses have a deep seated veneration for saints and seers. Gandhi adopted the external appearance of a saint and this brought to him mass support and phenomenal popularity. Bose felt that in place of advancing the cause of free thinking and objective analysis such capitalization of mass sentiments was an irrational political technique’.
2. Bose’s Ideas About Communism.
Subhash Bose was not an orthodox Marxist. Though he was a leftist in the Indian National Congress, but his idea about leftist philosophy was quite different from the common interpretation. Bose maintained that the leftist were the supporters of Socialism having the objective of wiping out poverty and inequality from the country. He was against the practice of zamindari system and sought to relieve the farmers from their indebtedness.
He was against any practice of landlordism. To achieve success in the agrarian field, he suggested cooperative cultivation and promotion of co-operative movement in India. As a leftist he wished to give increasing recognition to the rights and interests of the working classes. According to Bose, communism was not conducive to Indian conditions. He maintained that, we are tradition oriented and would never emotionally accept Communism which opposed religion.
3. Bose’s Views About Indian History. Subhash Bose was proud of Indian cultural heritage and he felt that nation could rightly take pleasure and pride in her past glory. Indian culture was a dynamic which changed with the passage of time as well as adjusted according to the circumstances. He felt that Decay, came when dynamic feel¬ings were taken over by stagnancy making the nation inactive.
He followed Swami Vivekananda and said, “After all, what has brought about India’s downfall in material and political sphere. It is her inordinate belief in fate and in the super natural, her indifference to modern scientific development – her backwardness in the science of modern warfare, the peaceful contentment engendered by her latter day philosophy and adherence to ahimsa carried to the masses to. absurd length”.
4. Bose’s View about Fascism.
Bose was a political realist. “He had a keen and subtle mind. He accepted the necessity of foreign propaganda for arousing sympathetic world public opinion for the cause of India’s liberation”. Bose thought it necessary to be friend the foreigners for the cause of Indian independence.
It is amply clear that Subhash had emotional inclination “towards the ‘strong’ ways of the fascist dictators”. In his book, ‘The Indian Struggle’, Bose regarded Mussolini as “A man, who really counts in the politics of modem Europe”. He regarded Gandhi’s visit to Italy and his interview with Mussolini in 1931 as very significant. He further wrote ; “……the Mahatma rendered great public service by his visit to Italy. The only regret is that he did not stay there longer and did not cultivate more personal contacts”.
In the chapters entitled‘A Glimpse of the Future’ in his‘The Indian Struggle’, Subhash Bose commented : “Inspite of the antithesis between Communism and Fascism, there are certain traits common to both. Both Communism and Fascism, believe in the supremacy of the State over the individual. Both denounce parliamentary democracy.
Both believe in the dictatorship of the party and in the ruthless suppression of all dissenting minorities. Both believe in a planned industrial reorganization of the country. Both common traits will from the basis of the new synthesis. These synthesis is called by the writer “Samyavada” – A Hindi word, which means literally the doctrine of synthesis or equality. It will be India’s task to work out this synthesis”.
This hope of synthesis of fascism and communism sounds strange. Bose did not work out the theoretical foundations and practical implications of this synthesis. It is surprising to notice this phenomenal transition in the philosophy of Bose. Bose is ready to sanction the subordination of the individual to the State. In defence of Subhash Chandra, however, it can be said that his extreme restlessness for the independence of his country from the iron chains of British imperialism made him an advocate, at least partly, of fascistic ideas.
Now the point to be analysed is ‘was Bose a Fascist.’ It has been commented that he was an extreme nationalist and believed in resorting to violent technics for the liberation of country. He actually organized the Indian National Army for India’s liberation during the Second World War. The adoption of the title of ‘Neta’, which is a Sanskrit and also Hindi rendering of the German term.
Further, in itself is not very significant. Perhaps the organization of the administrative structure of the army of the western countries. But this is correct, still it does not have great relevance from the standpoint of democratic political practice.
However, Bose never believed in the extreme tenets of fascism. He had not supported imperialistic expansion and had never subscribed to the cult of ‘racial supremacy’. He had been, in the Indian National Congress, an exponent of the interests of the weak and exploited ; and it would be incorrect to say “that he could have allied himself with the exploiting and dominant classes as the fascists in German and Italy did, if he could have assumed political powers.”
Discuss Bose’s Forward Bloc. What did he want to achieve through this organization ?
Subhash Bose was aware of the fact that communism had no bright future in India. In 1939; Subhash Bose was elected as President of the Indian National Congress defeating Dr. Pattabhai who was favoured by Gandhiji.
But some of the members of Congress Working Committee found themselves unable to adjust to Subhash Bose’s ideas and way of thinking, attitude and his stubborn opposition to British rule in India. Furthermore, the criticism of Gandhiji’s philosophy of Ahimsa and non-violence by Subhash Bose was also disagreeable to many. Consequently there arose friction- in the organisation and Bose left the party.
He founded an organization known as Forward Bloc, with an objective to make an attempt to bring more and more Congressmen closer to the Forward Bloc. This Bloc also stood for complete national independence. The Bloc was to continue as Subhash Bose declared, its struggle for independence.
It had a goal before it, to make India a modern and socialist State. To make the country enable to undertake large-scale production for economic prosperity of the country. The Bloc also stood for social ownership and control of means of production and its distribution. Freedom of religion of every citizen was to be restored thereby giving equal rights to every individual.
He outlined following programmes to be undertaken by his new party ‘The Forward Bloc’ :
- “The party will stand for the interest of the masses, that is of the peasants, workers etc. and not for the vested interests, that is, the landlords, capitalists and moneylending classes.
- It will stand for the complete political and economic liberation of the Indian people.
- It will stand for the Federal Government for India as the ultimate goal, but will believe in a strong Central Government with dictation of power for some years to come, in order to put India on her feet.
- It will believe in a sound system of State-planning for the re-organisation of the agricultural and industrial life of the country.
- It will seek to building up a new social structure on the bases of the village communities of the past, that were ruled by the village ‘Panch’ and will strive to breakdown the existing social barriers like caste.
- It will seek to establish a new morality and credit system in the light of the theories and the experiments that have been and are current in the modern world.
- It will seek to abolish landlordism.”