Notes and Comments: Political Fanaticism and Repressive Methods

The Review of Religions (English), July 1908 Issue (Vol. 7, No. 7, pp. 289–290)

The rise of an anarchist movement in Bengal has caused great anxiety to all well-wishers of peace, and the Government has very wisely taken steps to restrain this mischievous movement by repressive methods while yet it is limited to a single province. But to the great misfortune of this country some of our educated men are acting like the ignorant men who opposed the beneficial measures of the government which it adopted to restrain the spread of the plague at its first appearance. The result of that opposition was the painful experience of the depopulating ravages of the plague. The anarchist movement is by no means a lesser evil or a smaller calamity. No doubt there are very few who outwardly show any sympathy for the anarchists, but a large number, including many of the “Moderates,” are opposing the measures adopted to root out the evil. We wonder if they fail to see that anarchy is as much directed against the ruling power as against social order itself, and if strong measures are not adopted to nip it in the bud, the contamination of the evil ideas will spread with even greater virulence than the plague.

It is, no doubt, necessary that the government must be liberal enough to listen to a criticism of its measures, but it is still more necessary that the subject people should have some confidence in the measures of the government. The error in the present case, I mean in the unjust and ill-directed criticism of the Newspapers Incitements Act, lies in the false supposition that government intends to repress all justifiable expression of opinion against its measures, as if the measure had proceeded from an enemy, and not a well-wisher of the people, that had no other object in view but to crush down the honest opinions of its subjects and to oppress them in every possible way.

It is the first duty of the subjects to have confidence in their rulers and to help them in the suppression of evils. If there is no confidence, then even the most beneficial measure can be so distorted as to appear an unmitigated evil. Lack of confidence between government and its subjects is as injurious as that between parents and children. But whereas this lack of confidence is prominent on the part of some subject people, the Government has not shown any lack of confidence, and notwithstanding the growing tendency of the press to sedition and the growth of anarchy, it is still bent upon taking Indians more and more into confidence and granting them greater powers not only of a consultative but also of an executive nature.

Under these circumstances it is incumbent upon the subject people to show greater confidence in the Government, for without such confidence on their part no progress can be made. Those who remember the clamour that was raised last year against the Seditious Meetings Act and the fears that were expressed of the insecurity resulting therefrom to law-abiding citizens can easily see that the noise made against the new act relating to newspapers is no less unfounded. If the Government desires to bring the culprits to law by the easiest methods, it is the duty of all loyal subjects to assist the Government and not to place obstructions in its way.