The second operational device springs up the moment we reflect on Gandhiji’s oft quoted responses to the heckling, “You say you are a man of religion, then why are you in politics?” In part, he says, because there is “no department of life which can be divorced from religion”; in part “because politics touchs the vital being of India almost at every point”; in part because “politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.” The first response concerns what politics needs. The second, what the country needs. It is the third that concerns us at the moment. Having to associate with all sorts of persons; having to see himself being punished, traduced, sent to jail, thwarted by persons who were infinitely tinier than him; having to confront the fact that very, very few were responding to his calls — for instance, his call to surrender official titles and honours; having several of the movements he launched peter out or go astray; having to see that instead of his lifelong ambition to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity, the communities were killing each other off; having in the end to see the country being partitioned; having in the end to see that no one was prepared to tread the path which he so fervently counseled for India, namely to bring into being, and live an alternate to Western civilisation — what could provide a richer laboratory for discerning himself than the snake, for observing the working of his mind, for observing whether he had finally mastered his ego?
It is this fact — that in the ultimate analysis he had made all his activity a means for inner growth — that insulated him from the disappointing net results of his labours. As the quest was inner growth, “failure” was as useful, in many ways even more useful, than what others would see as “success”.
Once we attain that sort of detachment; once we execute that reversal of view; once the specific issue we take up is a device for something beyond the reach of others, then all we have to do is to just keep at it. The writer is a BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha] [Nancy on the excessive use of the term “political”: the death of politics?
from An und für sich by Thomas J Bridges
In his book Philosophical Chronicles (a published set of radio addresses), Jean-Luc Nancy deals with a host of issues from daily life from the perspective of a philosopher, and some of them are deceptively simple, yet profound. His address from January, 2003, which addresses the word “politics” [politique], makes two very important points that have been haunting me for some three months now. First, Nancy points out the excessive use of the word politics, and its use in realms not normally considered “political.”