Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Salt March

Back during the beginning of the Iraq War there was so much

shock and awe dribble coming from the War Media Machine,

I decided I needed to see something where nonviolence was the star,

so I rented the movie, Gandhi. Here is the short blurb:

Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 multiple Oscar winner, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley, is an engrossing, reverential look at the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who introduced the doctrine of nonviolent resistance to the colonized people of India and who ultimately gained the nation its independence. Kingsley is magnificent as Gandhi as he changes over the course of the three-hour film from an insignificant lawyer to an international leader and symbol. Strong on history (the historic division between India and Pakistan, still a huge problem today, can be seen in its formative stages here) as well as character and ideas, this is a fine film. --Tom Keogh

And it is a fine film.

I particularly like the scene where Gandhi and his allies are meeting and strategyzing and one of them says, "well now that we have the people with us, we can't continue with this passive resistance, we will need arms. " Gandhi turns around and says "there is nothing passive about my methods."

That point is made loud and clear in the scene when Gandhi's soldiers attack the British, wave after wave with no weapons, other than the rightness of their cause.

Here is the situation:

The British had a royal monopoly on the manufacture of salt in India. By taxing the population for salt, the British were taxing the very poorest, many who lived just above starvation level. The law stated that any person caught with Illegal non British Salt would be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months.

A report from the English journalist, Webb Miller, who witnessed one clash, has become a classic description of the way in which the nonviolent militancy was carried out as 2,500 volunteers advanced on the salt works of Dhrasana:

"Gandhi's men advanced in complete silence before stopping about one-hundred meters before the cordon. A selected team broke away from the main group, waded through the ditch and neared the barbed-wire fence. Receiving the signal, a large group of local police officers suddenly moved towards the advancing protestors and subjected them to a hail of blows to the head delivered from steel-covered Lathis (truncheons).

None of the protesters raised so much as an arm to protect themselves against the barrage of blows. They fell to the ground like pins in a bowling alley. From where I was standing I could hear the nauseating sound of truncheons impacting against unprotected skulls. The waiting main group moaned and drew breath sharply at each blow. Those being subjected to the onslaught fell to the ground quickly writhing unconsciously or with broken shoulders.

The police attacked repeatedly and the second group was also beaten to the ground. There was no fight, no violence; the marchers simply advanced until they themselves were knocked down."

"For hour upon hour endless numbers of motionless, bloody bodies were carried away on stretchers".

What did the Satyagrahi achieve? The salt works were not taken, nor was the Salt Act in its entirety formally lifted. But the world began to realize that this was not the point. The Salt March demonstrated to the world the almost flawless use of a new instrument of political action and peaceful militancy.

It was at this battle, that the British lost the Moral High Ground.

Today marks the 75 th anniversary of Gandhi's Salt March.

On the 12th of March 1930 ,Mahatma Gandhi, at age 61, started walking from Sabarmati Ashram with a band of 78 handpicked volunteers. Their destination was a beachhead 241 miles to the south, Dandi. Around the 6th of April, Mahatma Gandhi and his band of followers reached Dandi, along with the thousands who had joined him en-route. The eyes of the world became riveted on a beachside village in South Gujarat.

The Salt March is acknowledged as the one event

that shook the British Empire to its core.

What will shake the American Empire to its senses?

A Lawyer who will walk to the beach or sit in a jail?

A Soldier? A Teacher? A Poet? An Inventor?

Or will the Empire crash like an overloaded jet liner in a Perfect Storm

of hubris, miscalculation, and raw stupidity.

Take that with a grain of salt if you want,

But I want an earthfamily for that ride.


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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a thought provoking post. I like this one.

9:35 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

I liked this one too. It is a powerful and meaningful piece of history. It is one of the great victories of non violent militarism.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of no one who is the least bit likely to do something about this government and its war plans in the middle east or its domestic agenda of lies and misdirection.

No One.

They all think we can vote these people out.

I hope they were right.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are too busy to worry about such trivial stuff.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the salt march - where courage fertilises the the futures' garden.

10:52 PM  

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