The Political Philosophy of the Self-Respect Movement (By Miss Gnanam)

The Self-respect movement stands for the social regeneration of the masses and the classes. It stands for the creation of an ideal society built upon the bedrock of equality and fraternity in all the spheres of life. It aims at complete equality between man and man as well as man and woman. Religion as a power to meddle with and shape society is completely ignored. The Self-respect movement is nothing if it does not stand for complete secularization of life. “Religion is the opium of life”. This is the guiding principle that shall shape the destinies of the Self- respect movement.

The relation of politics and political action to this movement is one which requires careful consideration. That the Self-respect movement is social in its outlook is true. But the political philosophies prevalent in our times are so chaotic that one does not clearly see the potentiality of the Self-respect movement as a political factor as well. This does not mean that politicians do not recognize its soundness as a political creed, a stepping stone to political power. But we are of the opinion that the Self- respect movement is something more than a mere creed. It is a guiding political principle, a sound political philosophy.

Let us examine a little the political tenets prevalent in our times. The democratic systems of Government in vogue in the advanced countries of the west, the group or the federal system of Government prevalent in America, France etc., represent a political principle which is becoming day by day mere anachronisms. The Government of such groups can be defined as the counting of “heads”. It is no wonder therefore, that such systems of Government, stinking as they do with social and religious superstition serve as fertilizers to the cropping up of “an abnormal race of unscrupulous people called politicians”. Society is food for their political power. Such governing forces are mere bubbles on the surface. It does not in the least matter even if when they are pricked.

On the other hand the Marxian philosophy certainly aims at supplanting such political groups with powerful representatives of society. It does not care for the form but the principle is the only imminent thing. We may call this principle a political philosophy but it is built on the strong foundation of economic equality. This is the only principle that guides the society and religion has absolutely no place. This is the other extreme of political reaction. This movement aims at leveling down human beings to the status of economic machines. Human instincts, human needs, biological factors etc., that make an individual’s life worth living are sacrificed for the purpose of erecting a socio-political machine.

On the other hand, the Self-respect movement wants to build up a government on the ideals of a social principle already enunciated. The method of political action adapted to the tenets of the Self respect movement is therefore a process of elimination and persuasion. Politics pledged to religious neutrality in national life and the method of least resistance in social reformation have no place in Self-respect politics. The Self-respect movement raises a standard of revolt against such socio-political parties whose cry of nationalism is but an election stunt. Nationalism with religion and social inequalities is but another name for gilded slavery, while communalism eschewed of its religion and its concomitant social superstitions is liberty cent percent. Battles fought in the name of nationalism are no more than swords brandished in the air, while even mild strokes aimed at social superstitions on the basis of the Self-respect movement will usher in a new era in the political life of a country.

Communal representation is the immediate expediency in the political action of the Self-respectors. It may be argued the communalism is built up on the basis of religious and social superstitions. It must also be borne in mind that communalism is the direct outcome of religious domination. We must strike at the root of this immoral domination. How can you do it but by mobilizing all our forces against a set of unscrupulous men, who are trading upon the religious power already conferred to them through age long frauds. Revolt against such a race is essential to wrest political power from them. Revolt is also essential to help the process of education which alone can help us in the rebuilding of a Self-respecting society.

- Revolt, 17 April 1929

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"பார்ப்பான், சூத்திரன், பறையன் என்கிற ஜாதி அமைப்பு இருக்கிற வரையில் இந்த நாட்டில் ஒரு இஞ்ச் அளவுகூட முன்னேற்றம் காண முடியாது என்று உறுதியாகக் கூறுவேன்" - பெரியார்


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