by Jeff Knaebel
MARCH 75TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, PUNE, INDIA 6 APRIL 2005
Gandhiji, I left my native country and came to India to learn, and
to try to practice a life of satyagraha (adherence to truth), ahimsa
(compassionate non-violence) and sarvodaya (welfare of all). And
thus led by Gandhiji, I met the woman who was to become my wife
when she invited me to speak at a Gandhi Seminar here in Pune.
It is astounding
to me that I find myself addressing this group of eminent people;
I hope I can do justice to the occasion. Please understand that
I represent no organization and speak only for myself.
the human condition and history of the last 90 years, I feel moved
to question the future of the human race, and for this I would like
to place some considerations before you. The baseline fact is that
the various Nation-States of this small and lonely planet have murdered
around 200 million people in wars and internal conflicts during
these years. They have indirectly destroyed many millions more lives
through Corporate-State institutionalized economic exploitation
and ecological destruction.
facts arise the questions: Who are we?
What do we
think we are doing?
of our bombs, missiles and kill-at-a-distance weapons systems, might
not the death of humanity be our reward?
does it mean to be human?
What was Gandhiji
doing at Dandi? Of course we know it was a protest against taxes
imposed by the State, which were used to finance further exploitation
and oppression of the people.
Ahimsa, compassionate non-violence. Taxation is the expropriation
of private property under threat of violence. What is this if not
theft? What is theft if not violence? Is this what Gandhi taught?
us that the American, Henry David Thoreau, had some influence on
Gandhi's development of civil disobedience as a tactic to fight
oppression. This is what Thoreau said about taxes during the American
imperialist war against Mexico (1846–48): "If a thousand
people would not pay their taxes this year, that would not be so
violent and bloody as it would be to pay the taxes and enable the
State to commit violence and shed innocent blood."
In more modem
times, "civilization" having devolved to a state of totaI
war, U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig said (1982) regarding
war protesters: "Let them march all they want, as long as they
continue to pay their taxes."
comes the finance for Nation-States to murder 200 million people
in the past 90 years? It comes from taxes mostly. Who paid the taxes?
Was it not us as citizens? So, who financed the murder and who is
"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." Who owns the individual? Who owns my body?
Do I own my body and the product of its labor, or does it belong
to the State? Who really owns your property, that is, the product
of your labor?
So long as
there are taxes obtained through threat of violence by a State which
holds monopoly on the use of force, I do not, as a matter of public
law, own my body or the product of my labor.
Is not my moral
sovereignty inalienable? Is not my will inalienable? Can I assign
my will to another person, give it away to him? It is impossible.
Then what right does the State have to the product of my labor,
which is the extension of my personality? Are not taxes then a form
of Gandhi's march to Dandi: "There is a fire of great resolve
in him, and love of truth and love of freedom that inspires."
LOVE OF TRUTH. LOVE OF FREEDOM. Does anyone capable of reading a
newspaper believe that any State at any time upholds TRUTH? When
the State can take your property by threat of force, where is FREEDOM?
means is to end as seed is to tree. A good end is not possible through
evil means. Therefore, how can we expect a good outcome from the
use of force to take property from people? Violence always begets
violence. It is the obvious outcome of Law of Cause and Effect.
Peace is, at
minimum, the absence of violence or threat of violence against persons
and their property. The State uses threats of force against my person
and property if I don't pay taxes. Then it uses my tax money to
murder innocent women and children in far away lands. This is the
breeding cycle of State-Corporate–sponsored escalating violence,
opposite of Gandhi's humane non-violence, opposite of the moral
choice promulgated by all great wisdom teachings of humanity.
power in a centralized government, promotes violence. "War
is the health of the State." Only Liberty promotes non-violence.
Gandhi was a revolutionary for Liberty.
Now, we in
democracies are meeting the final enemy and recognizing that it
is us. It is now we who are desecrating all life through consumerism
and militarism. Now we need an Inner Revolution:
From fear to
love, from greed to generosity
From selfishness to compassion, deceit to truth
From dependence to self-reliance, war to peace
From enslavement to Liberty
To think one
thing, say another and do a third is to lie, to disintegrate the
pysche. Gandhi was integrity personified. He did not lie and he
did not engage in secrecy. Contrast that to the world leaders of
today. We live in a sea of lies. How can we navigate? Only by the
compass of Moral Courage.
and taught Truth, non-violence, integrity, self-reliance. Is it
not self-evident, based upon our common experience, that these Beatitudes
of life require Liberty?
Footnote: The Dandi Salt March of 1930 was undertaken by Gandhi
to protest the British tax on salt, which was a great hardship imposed
upon the poor. Gandhi and a hardy band of followers marched 241
miles in the heat of Indian summer to reach the sea coast at Dandi.
Gandhi addressed large crowds along the way, and each day more people
joined him. Upon reaching the sea, prayers were offered and Gandhi
harvested a lump of natural salt, thus breaking the law. Many others
followed suit and soon the jails were full and Gandhi himself was
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. This
essay is a talk given at the 75th anniversary celebration of Gandhi's
march to Dandi.
© 2005 LewRockwell.com