Wednesday, April 6, 1983
I continue to make stuttering efforts with my notes on post-reconstruction USA.
Mum, Andrew and I went to see Gandhi at the Tivoli. Mum's been wanting to see it for a while and this was her first visit to the cinema since she took me to see Jaws eight years ago. Dad says he hasn’t been since 1968 when he saw The Battle of Britain. He declined the offer, saying he didn’t care for the pictures. He dropped us near the cinema.
The film was powerful and very moving. My heart was pounding in horror at the portrayals of racism, General Dyers Indian massacre and the like: a thousand defenceless people mown down like cattle by the Glorious Ghurkas.
Ben Kingsley’s performance was really good. ‘Men of violence’ looked small-minded. Gandhi’s non-violence requires so much strength and discipline, but that mass, non-violent, non-cooperation policy wouldn't work here because we have such a literate and willful population: too many people claiming to represent equality, fairness and liberty. In India the masses were leaderless and therefore ripe for someone to come along and show them a way out.
The Indian situation also had more clear cut examples of oppressed and oppressors. Instead our oppression is subtle and ideological, and we're numbed into bovine acceptance of job, home, mortgage and bourgeois slavery, to be called upon whenever ‘they,’ our wonderful ‘authorities,’ deem it ‘necessary.’
I'm puzzled why Dad supports regimes like S. Africa’s, but the more I think about it the more it seems only one conclusion can be drawn. It sickens me to think this of my own father. In fact it disgusts me that an intelligent and compassionate person can hold such narrow-minded and idiot notions as those of “Empire and the British Army” and yet still claim to be a ‘good Christian.'
Could nonviolence work in Ireland as an alternative to the IRA? In India, Muslims and Hindus subordinated their religious differences to fight the British. In N. Ireland, Catholics and Protestants work towards different ends, the one towards a united Ireland, the other towards the maintenance of the status quo with N. Ireland as a part of the UK. And as the Catholics are in the minority in N. Ireland, a non-violent, non-co-operative policy of civil disobedience would fail. The Catholics aren't strong enough. If only both sides could see that they should all work together to throw off all outside interference in the peoples’ affairs.