The third movement is National Socialism. This aims at raising the standard of the poor and yet preserving and encouraging individual talent and capacity. But as the leaders of the movement believe that the highest talent and capacity are monopolies of their own respective peoples, their object is to raise the German, Italian and Spanish people at the expense of other peoples and nations. The latest adherent of this movement is Japan. This movement is open to several objections:
It aims at the improvement of national standards at the expense of other nations and is not universal in its application.
Secondly, it too fails to provide for spiritual peace and contentment and, on the contrary, imposes restrictions upon religion. The very idea of religion carries the notion that it is based upon divine injunctions; any limitations and restrictions put on it must also be imposed by divine command.
Thirdly, it exalts the individual unduly as against the collective wisdom of the nation. It may often happen that the views of one individual, however high his intellect, may be at fault compared with the collective views of a nation or a group, though the level of the collective intellect may not be as high as that of the individual. The system devised by Islam seeks to utilize in the service of the nation the individual as well as the collective intellect. It provides that the Khalifah (Caliph), who himself is elected, should seek to guide himself by the advice of the representatives of the nation, but if he should, on any particular occasion, be of the opinion that in accepting and following the advice tendered to him he will be putting the national interest in jeopardy, he is entitled to overrule such advice. This system makes available to the nation at once the collective wisdom of the nation as well as the judgment of the highest intellect among them. But National Socialism carries the individual principle to an extreme. Have not all of you had experience of occasions when the whole village is in the wrong and one old man offers the best advice, or when the seniors may be in the wrong and the young men may be in the right?
All these movements possess certain extreme aspects which have led to friction and conflict between nations and the present war is the result of this conflict. The Bolsheviks desire that their theories should gain universal acceptance and their system should be adopted everywhere. The Socialist elements in England, France and the United States are anxious to safeguard the sources of wealth in their possession and have no desire to yield any of them to Germany, Italy or Spain. The first struggle that ensued was between the Socialists and the National Socialists. The Socialists wanted to retain their national wealth and power and the National Socialists desired to drain away that wealth and power into their own lands. Bolshevism was the last to enter the field. Eventually, Hitler was clever enough to come to some sort of understanding with Russia by offering her a bribe in the shape of a share in the loot in the event of the defeat of the Western powers. Russia pretended to be deceived by the offer and an agreement was patched up but after the collapse of France, when Hitler had succeeded in making himself master of greater part of Europe, he turned his attention towards Russia — impelled by various considerations the foremost of which was his need of oil, raw materials and other supplies. He had to postpone his invasion of Britain and was anxious to employ his powerful war machine for the achievement of some other objective. The only other objective he could think of was the destruction of Bolshevism. He, therefore, embarked upon an invasion of Russia, and thus brought about an alliance between Bolshevism and the Western Powers. Now two of these movements are on one side and the National Socialists are on the other. If the war ends in victory for the National Socialist powers, the poor of Germany, Italy and Spain will certainly stand to gain, but the rest of the world will be much worse off than before. That is to say, poverty may be relieved or even abolished in four countries, but will be intensified in all the others. On the other hand, if victory is won by the Allies, some countries may make an advance towards political liberty and some concessions may be granted to India, but so far as commercial and economic freedom is concerned, these countries will have to carry on a prolonged struggle for its achievement. For, not only will the old conservative and liberal parties stand in the way of this freedom, but even the Socialists will oppose it out of the apprehension that it might result in lowering their own standard of living. There can, however, be no doubt that other countries will be comparatively better off in the event of an allied victory than if the National Socialist countries are victorious.
So far as India is concerned, I have, on several occasions, expressed the opinion that in the event of a German victory, we shall be very much worse off and that a British victory is bound to lead to an improvement in India’s affairs. Some of us are apt to imagine that if we are to remain a subject nation it is immaterial whether we are subordinate to this power or that, but this is an entirely mistaken point of view. I have already had occasion to point out that the older powers, having enjoyed economic domination over a long period, have now lost that aggressiveness characteristic of nations flushed with the acquisition of new power. These latter are likely to spring upon other nations like swarms of hungry locusts, whereas the older powers may now be compared to an old merchant, who has accumulated a large amount of wealth — he is miserly and acquisitive, but he may also remain content with things as they are. On occasion, he may even contemplate his possessions with satisfaction and may give up the desire to add to them. The older powers may be approaching a condition of surfeit, whereas those who are struggling to gain fresh power are certain to prove very greedy. Great Britain already enjoys dominion over the most tempting parts of the old world to the confines of China. The United States enjoys economic domination over the rest of the world. They are like a person who is already filled to repletion, and a person so well fed is not overmuch inclined towards high-handedness and tyranny. If you present such a person with a dish of Pula’u1, he will be inclined to partake sparingly of it, but if you were to place the same dish before a hungry person, he would not only clean it up but would probably demand your share of the meal also. The Germans, Italians and Spaniards are at the moment famishing. If they come to the top, they will achieve great feats of exploitation as the British did when they first began to dominate India. They will be inspired by similar desires and will subject other countries to ruthless exploitation for a century or two. The British, on the other hand, though they may still have the desire to exploit may wish to remain content with what they have already acquired, so that their desire for domination and exploitation is occasionally tempered with ideas of justice and fair play, and those who are subject to them are less liable to be subjected to tyranny and high-handedness.
Again, the older powers do not normally interfere in matters of religion and, except in extreme case or political or economic necessity, do not apply even secret or indirect pressure in these matters. Those, therefore, who have faith in God and in the value of Divine Revelation and believe that it is necessary for the complete fulfilment of life here and Hereafter to act upon divine teachings, are bound vastly to prefer and desire the victory of the Western over the National Socialist powers, in spite of the fact that the attitude of the Western powers towards other nations is also somewhat selfish and leaves much to be desired.
We must not forget, however, that the victory of the Western powers necessarily means also the victory of Bolshevism, and Bolshevism is an even greater enemy of religion than the National Socialists. By the victory of the Allies, therefore, the world will be rescued from the dangers of National Socialism, but a new struggle will start between religion and irreligion.
1 Indian dish of fried rice cooked with meat or vegetable curry.