by Jeff Knaebel
is the print version of a public talk given on 30 January 2006 at
the Gandhi National Memorial, Pune, in honor of the birth anniversary
of Mahatma Gandhi.
We stand on
the shoulders of Gandhi. I submit that he would ask, that by standing
on his shoulders, we reach higher, that we not pause too long in
front of his statues, but that we must work, work, work.
I believe that
Gandhi was totally correct when he said "We must be the change
we wish to see." The point where change must occur is at the
individual, personal level, multiplied by about 6 billion. As the
cartoon character Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and they
Once when Gandhi’s
great friend, the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, was visiting
a Bedouin camp in Iraq, the chief told Tagore, "Our prophet
has said that a true Muslim is he who, by his words and deeds not
the least of his brother-men may ever come to any harm." Tagore
then noted in his diary, "I was startled into recognizing in
his words the voice of essential humanity."
As I speak,
the country of my birth is systematically, in cold-blooded calculation,
destroying the Iraq of which Tagore spoke. When the killing will
stop, no one knows. I stand before you with a deep sense of shame.
My country’s actions are a stain upon humanity.
wrote "So long as there is any suffering and insult in humanity,
no individual man can ever win his escape." As one of the invited
speakers has written, in our globalized and inter-connected world,
there can be no peace in India so long as there is war in Iraq.
Because of war inflation of oil prices, basic foods will cost more,
the poor of India will eat less, children will become more malnourished,
and more trees will burn in the cooking fires of villagers who cannot
the Indian winner of the Booker Prize for literature, wrote in The
Algebra of Infinite Justice "… a world laid waste by
America’s foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal,
its vulgar policy of ‘full spectrum dominance’, its chilling disregard
for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its
support for despotic dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic
agenda that has munched though poor countries like a cloud of locusts…The
International Coalition Against Terror is largely a cabal of the
richest countries in the world. Between them, they manufacture and
sell almost all of the world’s weapons, they possess the largest
stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. They have fought the most
wars, account for most of the genocide, subjection, ethnic cleansing,
and human rights violations in modern history. They have worshipped,
almost deified the cult of violence and war…"
I left my country
almost 15 years ago in order to start a new life in Sacred India,
so as to be no longer an accomplice to this systematic murder by
my payment of income taxes into this ruthless war machine. One of
the waypoints that crystallized my decision was a visit to the Museum
at Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the atomic bomb.
The Temple of Death at the Mother Mandir of the Science of Total
Annihilation. How could I ever again be sweat at law in an economy
whose best and brightest produce this abominable machinery of mass
murder, with my tax support? I joined the river of the dispossessed,
the disenfranchised. How can we call this a "civilization"
– this mindless Corporate State War Machine in the service
of which so many children go to bed hungry, so many shattered lives
are lived in silent, burning fury?
But a man cannot
escape his humanity…. We are all in the same boat together, like
it or not. I hope I can point out some things to you citizens of
India by way of a warning of dangers ahead. I am speaking from my
American experience; yet I ask you to open your minds to the dangers
to India’s people that come from adopting the Western profligate
India has a
heavy responsibility to the whole of humanity because of her status
as the cradle of human spiritual wisdom. What other land has produced
a Krishna, a Mahavir, a Buddha, and Gandhi? There is even a significant
body of evidence that Jesus studied here during the eighteen-year
gap of His unknown whereabouts. On the destiny of India hangs the
fate of mankind.
the soul of India? When future generations contemplate the footprint
of India on the path of Man, what shall they see: a print heavy
with death wrought by a consumerism and arms industry matching the
American Nuclear Bully? Or a gentle sign, like that of a butterfly
on the morning dew, leaving a sweet fragrance of Sanathana Dharma
(Eternal Wisdom)? Shall humanity recollect India’s responsibility
as the keeper of the flame of Eternal Wisdom?
WE ARE THROWING
AWAY OUR HUMANITY FOR A PLASTIC TOY
leader of the free world is a perpetrator of mass murder who should,
under terms of the Geneva Convention, be booked and brought to trial
for crimes against humanity. He should, under US law, also be tried
for fraud because of the lies he used to get the US Congress to
approve his war for oil and corporate military profiteering. Sensible
and concerned Americans are calling for his impeachment.
"The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless
machine, it can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes
its very existence." There was a recent movie "Maine Gandhi
Ko Nahin Mara," with theme "We have murdered Gandhi"
(by disregarding his message of nonviolence). I left the American
Corporate Warfare State Machine in order not to be among those who
In the past
100 years, Nation-States have murdered about 200 million people,
many of them their own citizens within their own borders. Ordinary
people, your friends and neighbors, don’t spontaneously rush to
make war on others. Governments must make the most strenuous efforts
to mobilize populations for war. Isn’t it about time we questioned
this way of living together on this small planet? Why is it that
we submit to this rampant destruction all around, in fact even paying
homage to those who would enslave us and destroy all living beings
for their own wealth and power?
How do we lose
touch with the core of love deep within each of us? Could it be
through conditioning since childhood that the State is God, the
final source of security and survival?
How is it that
we do not call the State by its true name of organized violence
and perpetrator of mass murder? Is it because we live in a sea of
lies, deceit, secrecy and hidden agendas? Such that we are expected
to believe heads of State when they tell us that war is peace and
murder is liberation? Or is it that we have become mentally conditioned
to violence by the TV? Language is employed to keep thought at bay.
On the role
of State-Controlled Education in the maintenance of Empire, I turn
briefly to Dr. Claude Alvares, PhD, President, Organic Farmers Association
of India and educationist in Multiversity: "What kind of ‘education’
would allow the brutalization of innocent people in Iraq? Which
system of learning would justify the open theft of resources from
a nation kept forcibly impoverished for a dozen years? Can one ever
applaud a high-tech war against a nation of undernourished people,
mainly children? The rulers of these highly ‘educated’ and so-called
advanced societies of the USA and UK have violated every law known
to civilized society. They lied, and fabricated documents. By their
unilateral use of brute force, the invaders created overnight a
country bereft of civic life and education (and a planet emptied
of international law as well). The violent American conquest of
Iraq symbolizes the failure of education in USA…. These ideals failed
in the US where even school children take up guns in senseless bouts
of violence. So what can be expected of their political leaders?
We may not be able to stop the American war machine in its tracks,
because there is today simply no institution large enough to hold
the clinically insane, thoroughly schooled individuals who control
and direct it. …. We must never surrender our children to a system
that can only benefit and strengthen this manic cabal of anti-civilization,
anti-culture terrorists and thieves …" (Multiversity Newsletter,
From the Nobel
Lecture of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1970) I quote, " Violence
does not live alone and it is not capable of living alone: it is
necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Violence finds its only refuge
in falsehood and falsehood its only support in violence. Any man
who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose
falsehood as his principle. At its birth violence acts openly and
even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established
than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot
continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing
them in sweet talk. It does not always openly throttle the throat;
more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance
to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood."
years ago, is this by Solzhenitsyn not a perfect caricature of the
script being followed by the so-called leaders of the free world
The State makes
it impossible for a man to live honestly and at the same time in
reasonable comfort at even a modest level of civic amenities.
A HUMAN SOCIETY SURVIVE WHEN THERE IS NO MORAL GROUND?
We have abdicated
our moral sovereignty and outsourced our personal responsibility
to corporations and to the State. These are both non-human entities
without heart, soul or conscience. They are machines, abstract legal
constructs. They cannot feel pain, cannot love, experience empathy,
touch the moist grass of this earth with their bare feet, hear a
birdsong, or scratch a puppy’s ear. Yet, by operation of sovereign
immunity and the corporate veil, their anonymous members can make
secret decisions that destroy thousands, millions of lives, and
they remain personally unaccountable.
The State has
no ears for Nature, it hears not the cries of earth and her creatures;
it cannot respond to Nature. It would be wise for us not to forget,
in our pride, that man IS nature. The State responds only to the
self-interest of its power, and to money. We expect individuals
to lead a life of reasonable morality. The State has no morality.
We must remember
that finally this tyranny is grounded on popular acceptance. If
government is "of the people, by the people and for the people,"
when the problems become ugly and dangerous, we had best look to
philosophy, the State must itself be morally illegitimate, because
it is based upon a monopoly of force and it operates through coercion
only. There is a word that describes our condition. That word is
disobedience becomes a sacred duty when State becomes lawless and
corrupt." As so many writers have emphasized, Gandhi’s greatest
teaching vehicle was "My life is my message." His first
loyalty was always to life, to humanity, a loyalty which he said
superseded any other loyalty to nation, race, class, caste. Love
is the highest law of life.
Now I refer
to news reports and photos of joint India-US Army exercises at Ranikhet,
Uttaranchal. I have visited the nearby Anasakti Ashram at Kausani,
Uttaranchal, where Gandhi penned some of his most famous lines,
and thought I was on holy ground. Look now at the foreign army on
your sacred soil, where the waters feed the Holy Ganges. Look now
at a foreign military desecrating your land by teaching your Indian
army in counter-insurgency, which means bluntly, teaching Indians
how to kill each other more efficiently.
More and more
the news is reporting mega weapons deals between India and USA:
big purchases of aircraft and military hardware along with nuclear
weapons cooperation. How many generations must live in the fear
spawned by the insanity of the atom bomb and Hiroshima before we
wake up to what the Corporate Warfare State is doing to us, to all
did produce one man who made a contribution to India. His name was
Henry David Thoreau and his writings on Civil Disobedience helped
inspire Gandhi’s program to liberate India. Regarding his own imprisonment
in South Africa, Gandhi wrote, "Placed in a similar position
for refusing to pay his tax, the American citizen Thoreau expressed
similar thoughts in 1849." Thoreau was very much anti-war.
"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree,
resign his conscience to the legislator? Why then has every man
a conscience? I think that we should be men first, and subjects
afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate respect for the law,
so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right
to assume is to do at any time what I think right."
"What difference does it make to the dead … whether the mad
destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the
holy name of liberty or democracy?"
All of us on
this earth are living under the rule of some Nation State or the
other. I believe the Nation State is a bad plan for humanity, based
upon flawed concepts which will lead to our ultimate destruction.
The most fundamental flaw is moral illegitimacy because of its basis
in force and coercion. The State is incapable of appropriate social
response; in fact, it cannot even know what appropriate response
is. It is a great error to believe that in a world system of all-powerful
technology combined with the stress of over-population, we can safely
allow the monstrous power of the State to be deployed by the egos
of a few men at the center.
I quote a
modern Gandhian activist and writer named T.S. Ananthu, a man educated
in both India and USA (MSc. Stanford): "Here is where Gandhi’s
insights are really useful to us. While the American and Soviet
models SEEMED to be at odds with each other, they shared something
very basic in common: a materialistic notion of life. It has been
called, mistakenly, a ‘scientific’ view of the world, notwithstanding
the fact that both Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics reach
a much different conclusion. But in the name of science, both capitalism
and communism shared a definition of human progress and success
that is exclusively based on the material: income levels in the
case of individuals and corporations; GNP in the case of societies.
It is this vision that is at the root of all modern development
and progress, and also forms the driving force behind the globalization
phenomena we are currently witnessing.
had the foresight to predict a century ago that if our worldview
is totally materialistic, we will end up with the same kind of seemingly
democratic but actually totalitarian structures that are crushing
American agriculture, no matter what our dedication to democracy
and free enterprise may be. To Gandhi, a civilization based on materialism
was no civilization at all, for the greed it forces us to cultivate
prevents us from becoming civilized in the deepest sense of the
five trends are INEVITABLE results of any development effort based
purely on materialistic considerations, whether the political model
is communism or capitalism:
urbanization, mushrooming metropolises and a disappearing farming
heavy industrialization, especially of the capital-intensive variety.
centralization of power and decision-making, with the ordinary citizen,
whether farmer, worker or voter, a helpless spectator to the
horrors he is witnessing.
monetization, not only of all goods and services, but even of the
earth’s ecosystems and basic human values.
militarization, both at government and non-government levels including
States today represents the above trends in action. Should we really
be emulating them?"
Back to Gandhi:
"Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes
lawless and corrupt."
From the Nobel
Prize Lecture of Harold Pinter, December 2005, I quote: "The
invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant State terrorism,
demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international
law… We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable
acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi
people and we call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle
East.’ What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have
any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely
employed these days – conscience? A conscience to do not only with
our own acts, but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts
of others. Is all this dead?"
I commend Pinter’s
entire lecture to your earnest attention, and Solzhenitsyn as well.
you as an American runaway slave, I say watch carefully the path
you tread. Do not march to the American drum, blindly down the trail
of tears into the Valley of Death, surrounded on all sides by agents
and slave masters of the Corporate Warfare State, armed with nuclear
weapons on hair-trigger alert, ready on as little as eight minute’s
notice to scorch the earth on the command of one man, and that
too a man who claims that
to him personally and told him to invade Iraq. Simply by virtue
of my presence here as a human being, I have a derivative responsibility
for these abominable actions.
That one man,
said by some to be psychotic holds at his command the power
to unleash the incomprehensibly destructive products of American
nuclear weapons R & D is to put every child on this earth
under his malevolent influence. As Oppenheimer said at the first
atomic test explosion, "I am become death." Americans
are showing the world, by where they put their money, that they
value the science of death more than the art of living. Hiroshima
changed the very meaning of life itself. What, now, does it mean
to be human?
once taxed my bread labor
it to murder children in the womb
a threat to oil
your weddings, and strew the body parts
they press the button; death rains from the sky
accomplished, without breaking a sweat
kids watch cannibals on DVD
their parent’s SUV
children harvest death-by-cluster-bomb in broken fields
can be no greater act of betrayal than sending young people to death
basis of fraud.
man I know is an Indian villager who has no ID card, no tax ID number,
no bank account, no birth registration certificate, and no Big Brother
tracking his every move. He earns his bread by labor with mind and
body given by God, and he gives thanks for every day of life. He
speaks kind words to all he meets. He is a man of peace.
Long live the
possibility of this way of life, for it is my belief that the fate
of the Indian villager is the "canary in the coal mine,"
the harbinger of mankind’s future. Before the last villager will
have been displaced by some big dam, or an express highway, or an
IT Park, or cutting the last of his forest, or pumping the last
of his water, before his last tree has been cut down, mankind will
have become extinct.
Is there hope
that we may yet create a society of love and reason? I say yes,
and part of the energy behind that ‘yes’ comes from messages of
eminent Indians expressing themselves about the coming visit of
the Emperor: a retired Supreme Court Justice says "…stand for
an example to all decent human beings to make visits impossible
by warmongers and imperialists masquerading as champions of democracy."
A retired Indian Civil Service officer, "GW Bush is a war criminal
and I am utterly ashamed that my country has invited him to be a
guest here… the shame of our elected government consorting with
I say yes,
because that hope is in the proof of Gandhi’s life, that once before,
humanity rose up in response to a call to nobility of character,
a call to truth. As one of today’s speakers has written earlier,
"Gandhi and Tolstoy together created a spiritual crisis for
the British. Gandhi’s thought, influenced by Tolstoy’s book The
Kingdom of Heaven Is Within You, his public correspondence with
Tolstoy, his personal example, and his call to make manifest in
this world the values of Christ presented a spiritual challenge
of Christ himself to the British rule."
Again I say
yes, because what we have done once, we can do again. By love alone
can hatred be overcome. Violence originates in the mind. We can
change our mind. May love prevail.
is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but
rather for him who loveth the world. The earth is but one country,
and mankind its citizens."
Knaebel [send him
mail] is an expatriate American domiciled in India since 1995.
He formerly practiced as a registered professional engineer, having
been trained at Cornell Univ. and the Colorado School of Mines.
© 2006 LewRockwell.com