Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chairman Mao versus Naked Gandhi: Who will have the last laugh?

Biplab Pal04/07/05

This is not an article. It’s a prelude to a great debate. A debate that will continue to hunt the mankind as the tyrannical oppressors will continue to bleed the civilization.
Oppressed nations and subjugated ethnic minorities always revolted back with arms…throughout the history. Central power of Rome was engaged in endless battles to suppress the revolution of independence by Gaul, Goths, Normans and Egyptians. Countless revolution against Mughal Empire by Marathas, Rajputs, Bengalis and Southern India finally pulled down the whole empire. In that sense, Mao’s method of arm resistance against oppression is not new and he is not the only icon of great arm resistance in the last century. Truly speaking every nation has its own hero. Bengalis have Netaji and Mujibar. Marathis have Shibaji. But still Mao emerged as the final prophet of arm struggle for independence because in him, oppressed people of all kinds see the hope of a utopian society-free of class and oppression. Final independence.
Compared to Mao, nonviolence resistance of Gandhi is rather new. Principal of nonviolence as a form of protest is a direct consequence of Buddhist and Jain renouncement. Self immolation to protest tyrannical regime is a historical Buddhist tradition. In 900 AD, during seize of the Nalanda and Takhashila by Muslim invaders, monks sacrificed their life as a protest against burning of the valuable books. The same tradition continues even in modern Burma where often we find the news of self-burning of the monks as a form of the protest. In that sense, Gandhi does not hold the patent of Satyagraha (nonviolence resistance) but he emerged as an icon because for the first time, he successfully applied this method to liberate the largest colony of the world-India under British Raj. Not only Gandhi achieved success both in South Africa and India, he also proved his superiority as a civilized culture over British. A nation too proud of their civilized ancestry, bowed before Gandhi-Gandhi as a man. Never had it happened in world civilization that a man who liberated a nation from empirical power also achieved highest esteem from the ruthless power lords of the empire. Mujibar Rahaman is still considered to be a traitor and conspirator in Pakistan. Status of Netaji to British historian is no different. But when it comes to Gandhi, he is a hero both in his home and abroad.
Here is a glimpse of the current conflicts in the world. A brief summery will tell you, influence of Gandhi and Mao.
Naxalite struggle in India: In last two years around 56 districts in India have been brought under grip of communist rebels – Inspired by Mao
Communist rebels in Nepal: Mao
Kashmiri freedom struggle: Islamic Jihad
Tibetan Freedom movement: Gandhi
Democratic movement in Burma : Gandhi
Armed struggle of Palestine : Islamic Jihad/Che
Democratic movement in Uzbekistan : Gandhi
Rebels in Chechen :Islamic Jihad
Liberation movement in South Africa: Gandhi
Tigers in Lanka: Tamil nationalism
Several rebel groups in Latin America—Mao/Che
It is interesting to note that the nature of the rebel movements is undemocratic (authoritarian) if it is not inspired by Mao or Gandhi. Movement inspired by Gandhian philosophy gained more respect and support from the rest of world because of its democratic and spiritual nature. Movement inspired by Islamic Jihad gained most notoriety and hatred because of its cruelty against common people. Besides, non-Gandhian rebel movements always produced authoritarian monsters like Osama Bin Laden, Pol Pot and Pravakaran. It is interesting to note that cruelty against Tibetan people by China is no less than cruelty of Israel against Palestine. But Dalai Lama successfully managed to keep Tibetans nonviolent and established his cause before the world. Therefore Tibetan freedom struggle gained respect all over the world where as Palestine freedom movement gained notoriety as its nature transgressed from secular (initially Arafat was greatly influenced by Che) to Islamic.
I am summarizing the view of Gandhi and Mao over different aspect of life and society.
Struggle for independence:
Mao’s method is definitely by gun but there is bigger truth. Gun should be in the hand of poorest of poor people. It is only when the last section of the mass will be mobilized for true independence –a society without oppression will emerge following Marxism. I am attaching a few famous quotes to understand Maoist viewpoint of freedom through arm struggle.
War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups, and it has existed ever since the emergence of private property and of classes.
"Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War" (December 1936), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 180.
However there are good wars and bad wars in Maoism unlike Gandhi who dumped all kinds of wars as manslaughter. In this respect, Mao’s vision is same as that of Krishna in second chapter of Gita. However unlike Krishna, Mao’s justification for war is based in dialectic analysis and not on metaphysical duty.
“History shows that wars are divided into two kinds, just and unjust. All wars that are progressive are just, and all wars that impede progress are unjust. We Communists oppose all unjust wars that impede progress, but we do not oppose progressive, just wars. Not only do we Communists not oppose just wars; we actively participate in them. As for unjust wars, World War I is an instance in which both sides fought for imperialist interests; therefore, the Communists of the whole world firmly opposed that war. The way to oppose a war of this kind is to do everything possible to prevent it before it breaks out and, once it breaks out, to oppose war with war, to oppose unjust war with just war, whenever possible.
Ibid., p. 150.
Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power.
"On Contradiction" (August1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 344.*
Gandhi on the other hand analyzed the history and came to conclusion that anything that is achieved through violence loses its objective of supreme value of humanism. He saw an inherent contradiction in violent method of resistance.
“Violent means will give violent freedom. That would be a menace to the world and to India herself.!”
Clearly Gandhi didn’t see any merit in Mao’s arm revolution because it destroys the supreme divinity in the heart of the revolutionaries.
“It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself, for we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being, is to slight those divine powers and thus to harm not only that Being, but with Him, the whole world.”
Nature of virtues in a Man and experimenting with truth:
Both Gandhi and Mao had strong view on evolution as a human being. While Gandhi stressed on honesty and truth, Mao focused on evolution of human being as an intelligent analytical persona. Mao is definitely more inclined with true nature of evolution—it is the cunning and deceptive method to kill the prey has made us evolved as human being.
The only virtue I want to claim is truth and non-violence
Mao analyzed the truth in dialectic manner-which is also the basic method of science. To him every truth is like a hypothesis that needs to be tested in the due course of social evolution.
In their social practice, men engage in various kinds of struggle and gain rich experience, both from their successes and from their failures. Countless phenomena of the objective external world are reflected in a man's brain through his five sense organs - the organs of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. At first, knowledge is perceptual. The leap to conceptual knowledge, i e., to ideas, occurs when sufficient perceptual knowledge is accumulated. This is one process in cognition. It is the first stage in the whole process of cognition, the stage leading from objective matter to subjective consciousness, from existence to ideas. Whether or not one's consciousness or ideas (including theories, policies, plans or measures) do correctly reflect the laws of the objective external world is not yet proved at this stage, in which it is not yet possible to ascertain whether they are correct or not. Then comes the second stage in the process of cognition, the stage leading from consciousness back to matter, from ideas back to existence, in which the knowledge gained in the first stage is applied in social practice to ascertain whether the theories, policies, plans or measures meet with the anticipated success. Generally speaking, those that succeed are correct and those that fail are incorrect, and this is especially true of man's struggle with nature. In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. Man's knowledge makes another leap through the test of practice. This leap is more important than the previous one. For it is this leap alone that can prove the correctness or incorrectness of the first leap in cognition, i.e., of the ideas, theories, policies, plans or measures formulated in the course of reflecting the objective external world. There is no other way of testing truth. -Mao
Science in Society:
Gandhi’s view on applied science is controversial. According to him, science is the main cause of growing materialism in the society. Materialism destroys the inherent spiritualism of a man—he saw the negative impact of science. He witnessed the devastation brought by scientific invention in the First and Second World War. He didn’t see any value in material comfort as a result of scientific discoveries.
A certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above a certain level it becomes a hindrance instead of a help. Therefore the ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them seems to be a delusion and a snare.
Mao also believed in limited materialism but he also welcomed science to enrich materialism –as a mean to progress in the society and as a society. His assessment of science in the society is by far the best one can find in any leader.
Natural science is one of man's weapons in his fight for freedom. For the purpose of attaining freedom in society, man must use social science to understand and change society and carry out social revolution. For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature, man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature.
Speech at the inaugural meeting of the Natural Science Research Society of the Border Region (February 5, 1940).
“The history of mankind is one of continuous development from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. This process is never-ending. In any society in which classes exist class struggle will never end. In classless society the struggle between the new and the old and between truth and falsehood will never end. In the fields of the struggle for production and scientific experiment, mankind makes constant progress and nature undergoes constant change, they never remain at the same level. Therefore, man has constantly to sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. Ideas of stagnation, pessimism, inertia and complacency are all wrong. They are wrong because they agree neither with the historical facts of social development over the past million years, nor with the historical facts of nature so far known to us (i.e., nature as revealed in the history of celestial bodies, the earth, life, and other natural phenomena).
Quoted in "Premier Chou Enlai's Report on the Work of the Government to the First Session of the Third National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China" (December 21-22, 1964).
Mao was a great lover. He was married four times. He wrote a lot of beautiful love poems. He has insatiable sexual appetite for daughters of the proletariat. It is rumored Mao never turned down any request to sleep with him!
Gandhi saw sex as a stigma. A deterrent to spiritual attainment. Sex is merely a necessity like urination for the purpose of reproduction.
However there is a link between Gandhi and Mao in their sexual practice. Sleeping with teens to enhance the internal energy is a Taoist (Daoist) practice. Both followed this Taoist practice to elevate their metaphysical male energy level!
In his book The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress: Secrets of the Female Taoist Masters, Hsi Lai writes that Mahatma Gandhi "periodically slept between two twelve-year-old female virgins. He didn't do this for the purpose of actual sexual contact, but as an ancient practice of rejuvenating his male energy. . . . Taoists called this method 'using the ultimate yin to replenish the yang.'"
Mao’s private Doctor Li wrote a book on unknown sex life of Mao “Memoirs of Private Physician of Mao Ze Dong” where he also found how Mao fell in love with Taoist sexual practice to regain his youthful energy. The practice is same as what Gandhi did with naked young girls. However Gandhi used virgin girls merely as a testimonial of his celibacy control where as the Chairman grew found of group sex in the form of Taoist practice.
A few controversial lines from “Memoirs of the private physician of Mao Ze Dong”
The English edition claims that Mao adopted the Daoist practice of complementing Yang with Yin via sex:
"Mao became a practitioner of Daoism then [when he was 67]: sex was intended to prolong life and not just for pleasure." (p.343)
That is all there is to the sensationalist story of Mao practicing Daoist sexual methods. No mention of Yin or Yang or any other details. In the English edition, this sentence is slightly altered:
"It was then that [Mao] became an adherent of Daoist sexual
practices, which gave him an excuse to pursue sex not only for
pleasure but to extend his life.[italics added]"
Then the "editors" of the English version proceed to add two entirely new sentences that are not in the Chinese edition:
"He was happiest and most satisfied with several young women
simultaneously sharing his bed. He encouraged his sexual partners
to introduce him to others for shared orgies, allegedly in the
interest of his longevity and strength." (p.358)
On the same page, the "editors" also insert a long footnote, amplifying the term "Daoist Sexual Practice" with the explanation how Yin could be made to complement Yang. There is another reference to group sex in the English edition:
"[It was at] the height of the Cultural Revolution, that Mao was
sometimes in bed with 3, 4, even 5 women simultaneously."(p. 517)
There is no explanation of who saw this or under what circumstances it was observed. The Chinese edition makes no mention whatsoever of group sex for the simple reason that the Chinese would see through the lie. Likewise, the Chinese Edition does not make the assertion that Mao also liked to have sex with men as is alleged in the English edition.(p358--359).
Gandhi’s experiment of sleeping naked with naked young teens looks less scandalous before Mao’s sex life as described by his physician.
Gandhi yoke did sleep with young females--and what's more, both parties were often naked at the time. He was 77 when this odd practice came to light, and from what we know sleeping was all they did. However, when a renowned holy man of any age pulls a stunt like this, he takes the chance that it'll turn up in a book with a title like The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress.
Gandhi's sleeping arrangements attracted public attention during the winter of 1946-47, when he was trying to quell violence between Muslims and Hindus in the Noakhali district in what is now Bangladesh. It came out that Gandhi was bunking nightly with his 19-year-old grandniece, Manu. In part this was an effort to stay warm in the winter chill, but Gandhi soon acknowledged there was more to it: he was testing his vow of brahmacharya, or total chastity in thought and deed. If he could spend the night in a woman's embrace without feeling sexual stirrings, it would demonstrate that he had conquered his carnal impulses and become "God's eunuch." It turned out that Manu was not his first brahmacharya lab partner--he'd also recently gotten naked (partly, at least) with another young woman in his extended family, starting when she was 18.
There were quite a few raised eyebrows in India. One of the most vocal critics was Nirmal Kumar Bose, a university lecturer who served as Gandhi's interpreter in Noakhali. While conceding that no hanky-panky had taken place (Gandhi and his entourage typically all slept in the same room) Bose protested that the master was exploiting the women, each of whom felt she had a special place in his affections and became "hysterical" if slighted. (Here I follow the account by author Ved Mehta in his 1976 New Yorker series on Gandhi and his followers.) Gandhi, far from being abashed, vigorously defended himself in meetings, letters, and articles, arguing that making a woman "the instrument of my lust" would be far more exploitative than what he actually did.
Remarkably, the critics eventually quieted down. Even Bose, who quit in protest and later discussed the issue in a book, My Days With Gandhi, remained an admirer. Gandhi continued to sleep with women until his assassination in 1948, and the matter is little remembered today. The esteem in which Gandhi was held no doubt partly accounts for the lack of repercussions, along with his advanced age. His notoriously eccentric views on sex may have been a factor too. Gandhi believed that sex for pleasure was sinful (for that matter, he felt eating chocolate was sinful), that sexual attraction between men and women was unnatural, and that husband and wife should live together as brother and sister, having sex only for purposes of procreation. (I take most of this from a memoir by journalist William Shirer, another admirer.) He swore off sex at age 36, required a similar vow of his disciples, and publicly freaked when he had a nocturnal emission in 1936 at age 67. Many hearing him rationalize his unusual blanket substitute probably figured, eh, that's the mahatma for you. (For what it's worth, the kinkier takes on the story--e.g., that Gandhi was regularly massaged by naked women--have no basis in fact that I can discover.) Whether or not you buy the notion that he didn't get off on contact with his very young bedmates (or feel that that would make it any less creepy), it says something about this profoundly strange guy that you can hear his claim that naked sleepovers were tests of purity for both participants.
Religion and God:
While Gandhi sought final salvation and supreme goal of mankind in achieving his relationship with God, Mao’s view of God was completely sociopolitical based on Marxism. Gandhi’s perception of God starts with Spinoza but then it quickly gets dissolved in Gita.
My own experience has led me to the knowledge that the fullest life is impossible without an immovable belief in a Living Law in obedience to which the whole universe moves. A man without that faith is like a drop thrown out of the ocean bound to perish. Every drop in the ocean shares its majesty and has the honor of giving us the ozone of life.
If you think, this sounds more like Spinoza then read another quotation from Gandhi on Religion
“Religion is more than life. Remember that his own religion is the truest to every man even if it stands low in the scales of philosophical comparison.”
Clearly, Gandhi could not think of a life with a religious purpose.
Mao not only rejected religion but also any metaphysical or any subjective idealism.
“Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics. “
Clearly Mao adopted more scientific approach than Gandhi. But in personal life Mao failed to rise above personal greed in his old age. His individualistic lust to retain power forced China into its nightmare –Cultural Revolution. Millions of people died so that Mao could eliminate his opposition. Gandhi was also power hungry but he never sacrificed his ideals to subdue his opposition-to him that would have been end of the supreme objective.
Here lies the triumph of Gandhian policy that emphasized and warned
Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
However a stronger and better philosophy is not necessarily the best contender for survival. Survival is determined by the natural selection-which theory can adapt to changing social dynamics. I don’t know who will be the ultimate survivor.

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