No Slow Freedom

May 18, 2015

Every week, we feature excerpts by Gandhi that lend insight into his values and personal practices.

Just right before been arrested in 1922, Gandhi wrote a piece in the Young India newspaper called Death Dance. In it, he exposes his fearless mind and strongly calls the attention of the reader to be aware of real freedom. Almost a hundred years later, Gandhi's words still ringing loud and strong even in our current contexts. Here is an excerpt of his writeup:

March 09, 1923

"It would be a thousand times better for us to be ruled by a military dictator than to have the dictatorship concealed under sham councils and assemblies. They prolong the agony and increase the expenditure. If we are so anxious to live, it would be more honourable to face the truth and submit to unabashed dictation than to pretend that we are slowly becoming free. There is no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free, we are slaves. All birth takes place in moment.

What is this dread of the Congress but the dread of the coming freedom? The Congress has become a grim reality. And therefore it has to be destroyed, law or no law. If only sufficient terror can be struck into the hearts of the people, the exploitation can last another century. It is another question whether India itself can last that time under the growing strain or whether the people must during that time die like flies. When a man begins to eat a coconut, he is not called upon to be tender to the kernel. When he has carved out the last bit, he throws away the shell. We do not consider it a heartless performance. No more does the trader consider what he takes from the helpless buyer. A heartless performance—there never is any heart about it. The trader takes all he can and goes his way. It is all a matter of bargain.


The councillors want their fares and extras, the ministers their salaries, the lawyers their fees, the suitors their decrees, the parents such education for their boys as would give them status in the present life, the millionaires want facilities for multiplying their millions and the rest their unmanly peace. The whole revolves beautifully round the central corporation. It is a giddy dance from which no one cares to free himself and so, as the speed increases, the exhilaration is the greater. But it is a death dance and the exhilaration is induced by the rapid heartbeat of a patient who is about to expire.

The expenditure is bound to grow so long as the dance continues. I should not be surprised if the increase is also laid upon the broad shoulders of non-cooperators. For them there is only one lesson. They may look upon the increase with philosophic calmness if they will be but true to their creed. The only way they can prevent it, the only way it will ever be prevented is the way of nonviolence. For the greatest part of non-cooperation is withdrawal from the organized violence on which the Government is based. If we want to organize violence to match that of the Government, we must be prepared to incur greater expenditure even than the latter. We may not convince all the dancers of the fatal doom awaiting them, but we must be able to convince the masses who take part in it and sell their freedom to buy so-called peace. This we can only do by showing them that nonviolence is the way to freedom—not the forced non-violence of the slave, but the willing nonviolence of the brave and the free."

M.K. Gandhi.    Ahmedabad​, March 3rd, 1922.

Source: Young India, , 9-3-1922.  ​CWMG Vol. 26 page 322 ​

Be The Change

Identify and observe one thing in your life that is blocking your way to get in touch with your real freedom. Then, apply nonviolence principles, to strip its grip on your consciousness.