Gandhi as a political organiser : an analysis of local and national campaigns in India 1915-1922
By examining Gandhi as a political organiser it may be possible to bridge the gap between two interpretations of his importance -- one which focuses on his propagation of nonviolence "as a way of life", the other- which treats him as a pioneer in the use of nonviolence "as a conflict technique. " Gandhi named his philosophy and his method of action, "satyagraha". Between 1915 and 1922 he emerged as the organiser of local satyagraha campaigns in Bihar and Gujarat. He moved quickly, however, to leadership of further struggles at a national level, in particular the hoxlatt Satyagraha in 1919 and Noncooperation eighteen months later. The thesis explores, through a series of case studies, how Gandhi developed his methods as he moved over a period of about five years from local to national scale. At the national level, Gandhi failed to take India by storm as he had hoped through organisations founded by himself to propagate his principles like the Satyagraha Sabha and the Swadeshi Sabha. He therefore forged alliances with political figures from other perspectives within the Khilafat movement and the Indian Rational Congress who nonetheless were prepared to follow his direction. A principal means which Gandhi developed for generating solidarity between the nation's educated "classes" and the "masses" and for mobilising people short of civil disobedience, was the promotion of campaigns of constructive work. This is particularly clear in his planning and leadership of the Noncooperation movement. Presentation of nonviolent action in the West, by overstressing the "conflict" aspect of satyagraha and neglecting the "constructive", has been one-sided. The importance in Gandhi's method as an organiser of a concept of constructive programme and its application in practice suggests that advocates of nonviolent action as a technique should look more closely at the balance between the two aspects in his approach. The thesis concludes with a review'of the rules and stages in Gandhi's satyagraha campaigns which have been proposed in the work of Joan Bondurant.