21 min read

Thoughts on 'Glimpses of World History by Nehru' - Part 4

Nehru's thoughts on freedom struggles. Ireland, Turkey and beyond. Viva la revolution!
Thoughts on 'Glimpses of World History by Nehru' - Part 4

Nehru's thoughts are magnificent, yet dense. A small break was required, thus, in order to rest the mind and digest his thoughts. Nonetheless, with that break out of the way, it is time to continue reading Pt. Nehru's letters to his daughter and discern this thoughts and opinions on some very important parts of history: the century before his time and contemporary events.

Day 15

I stopped reading Nehru at Page 599 last time, a point where he was threatening to go into the literary history of the world. I felt myself ready for it today merely to be underwhelmed.[1] Nehru blitzes through literature, quoting a few people here and there. He mentions people like Victor Hugo, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and Percy Shelley before going on to talk about philosophy and science. His thoughts on science are rather interesting: they form a stark contrast to his thoughts on religion. Rationalism and science, according to Nehru, are meant to supplant religion in the mind of man. Indeed, Nehru believed they were living in the age of rationalism, an age in which the barriers of faith were breaking down and material progress was coming to roost.

He had something else to say about the same thing in a later letter as well, which I find pertinent to skip ahead to. Nehru states that the ideas of democracy were couched in the language of the French and American Revolutions, the rights of man and a few other highbrow ideas. Unfortunately, the world had moved on from those times by the middle of the nineteenth century. A mere half-century had passed from the advent of these revolutions: a virtual blink of an eye compared to the pace of change in previous eras.

Nehru does talk about some people in the sciences as well. He talks about Charles Darwin, Issac Newton, Albert Einstein and even Adam Smith. He dwells on the latter a bit because of his being a prelude to Marx, but not too much beyond talking about him being the father of modern economics.

And now comes the shocker. Nehru brings to bear his attention on Karl Marx, the founder of the philosophy Nehru himself was a believer in. And yet, Karl Marx himself found fewer pages dedicated to him than Napoleon did. The pen is mightier than the sword, the idiom goes. Yet the fascination we have with people who rule and fight remains. Ideas are the pivots of the world, true; yet it is those who lead the world around those pivots who catch our eye. Nehru, for all his strengths and faults, is no different.

He goes on to talk about anarchism and its relationship with communism and socialism. He talks about how the anarchists were a society more anchored to the poor than the communists were: yet it was communists who won when they all convened together. The middle-class representative nature and gradualism of the communists won out over the more working-class and radical ideas of the anarchists. And truly, as the world grew more prosperous, anarchism faded out, becoming a taboo word in most societies.

He then traces[2] the history of worker unions in many countries. He says that while anarchism prevailed for a while in Eastern and Southern Europe, continental Europe became, for most purposes, the nerve centre of communism. England was too prosperous for there to really be any successful workers' movement there. English Socialism took the form of Fabianism, a belief in extremely gradual change. Germany's Social Democrats and Russia's Bolsheviks became the faces of communism after a while, and Nehru notes how they've always been at odds with each other.

Fundamentally, Nehru says, communism is revolutionary in nature, and thus remains incompatible with prosperity. This thought was espoused by Stalin and then, quite famously, by Chairman Mao. This is disturbing on many levels. In a way, this can mean that revolution is not possible without a loss in prosperity (or without there being low levels of prosperity in a country), a thought quite understandable. On the other hand, given the nature of continuous revolution that both Stalin and Mao kept their countries in, does Nehru mean that Communism requires one to be in a continuous revolutionary spirit? I don't rightly know. Given that Nehru did not pivot India into outright Soviet Communism, one would think he had some cognisance of the fact that it wasn't the best way forward.

Nehru mentions how many people associated with bodies like the First International and Second International went on to become Prime Ministers and Presidents in their native countries: using these bodies as a form of stepping stone towards something else. This led to a loss of trust in these organisations, he opines. Thinking along this line a bit more, one wonders if Nehru truly thought about trust to any significant extent. He talks about a classless society and how the State is merely a way for the governing class to keep getting resources. Only when there is no concept of class, he says, will there be an end to inequality.

The problem here is that one, that's impossible if one thinks about stochasticity[3] and its effects on the evolution of a population, and two, if one thinks about trust in general. Democracy is built on the ideal of limited trust, Capitalism on the idea of no trust. Socialism,[4] on the other hand, is built upon the idea that trust underpins human interactions. Indeed, one may see that Capitalism works best when a bunch of organisations, small enough for there to be sufficient trust within them, have no trust in each other and hence rely on a set of laws imposed upon them by a third party. On the other hand, if one reduces the number of corporations (by mergers, for instance) and increases their size, it's much harder for all members of an organisation to trust each other. If the workers, owners and management of an organisation have no trust in each other and rely on an imposed set of laws, and the management and/or owners of different organisations trust each other because the community is small enough for most people to know everyone, then the very basis of Capitalism is lost.

Socialism, however, requires everyone to trust each other and work fairly. The problem with this approach is that while I might trust people I know (because I have first-hand experience with them), I might not trust their friends. Or complete strangers. Indeed, the maximum number of friends properly sustained by a person is around 150, according to recent research.

Of course, one needs to forgive Nehru for not having travelled forward in time and understood all this before writing to his daughter: he was very much, a product of his age.

Day 16

Nehru goes on to talk about Great Britain's empire and the way in which it went about working it. It's interesting stuff, but bog standard if you've read enough economics. He doesn't like the fact the Great Britain's strategy of running her government is, primarily, based on economics. She imports raw materials, he says, and exports finished goods. Before the Great War, she was a net creditor, owning assets throughout the world. The headquarters of Lloyds was the centre for shipping in the world. That changed, as the United States and Germany[5] began catching up and slipping into manufacturing as well. America had its own sources of raw materials, Germany didn't. That led to tensions between Germany and Britain, which would boil over soon.

He then shifts gears and talks about the slave trade in America. Its horrific conditions, the civil war, and things like Jim Crow are discussed at length. Nehru talks about British complicity in the slave trade, and how banning it merely drove it underground rather than extinguishing it.[6] He talks about the tensions which led up to the civil war, its impact on American society, and the subsequent developments in America in some detail, but one gets the impression that Nehru was either not too knowledgeable about them or wished to move the conversation along.

His thoughts on America's "economic empire" are quite illuminating. Nehru opines that there are three ways in which one may conquer a country. The first is to capture a land and enslave its people. The second is to capture a land and tax its people. The third is to not capture a land or its people, but to merely gain mastery over their economic institutions. The United States, he says, was definitely guilty of the third one. While the Monroe Doctrine was sufficient to deter European powers from meddling in Latin America, it did nothing to stop the United States itself. The United States meddled in Latin America through the actions of its bankers, who bankrolled the factions which benefitted them the most. Nehru's opinion is that this was backed by the American State, which allowed these bankers to wield powers they would not have normally wielded. In a way, the US was subtler than the European Powers of which it was borne, and the Latin American states are all the worse for it.

Nehru also states that workers' conditions in America, which had no "landless poor" class at all, were so good that there was little, if any, revolutionary spirit in them. At the same time, though, he does mention that while the US minted millionaires by the bucketful, their gains were not shared by the vast majority. Given that he was writing at the tail end of the Great Depression, he might have found it better to withhold judgement for a while.

Nehru goes on to talk about England's seven hundred year long suppression of Ireland and its conquest of Egypt. While the first is nothing more than routine history mixed with barbs towards the English, the second offers an example of how Britain flouted International Law and adopted similar methods to the US in extending its Empire. Briefly, the Suez Canal was used to trap Egypt in a spiral of inflating and high-interest debt payments, defaulting on which gave them the opportunity to seize the Suez Canal and take over the Egyptian government. And this was done while Egypt was a dominion of the Ottoman Empire to boot![7]

The major takeaway from this exploration was that Nehru's thoughts on International Relations are not really based on Realpolitik, but idealism. While other books on Nehru have sought to downplay his idealism and ground him in Realpolitick, I believe that Nehru has got a lot more idealism in him than revanchists give him credit for. Essentially, Nehru's vision of International Relations was fundamentally based on morality. The issue was that Western powers didn't care about that sort of thinking at all. Morality is a fluid term which changes from age to age. It was routinely invoked by kings when they required a legitimate cassus beli. As Machiavelli notes[8], there's nothing to be gained by calling up past favours or invoking morality. The only thing which matter are current profits.

Day 17

Nehru talks about Turkey and Russia, to begin with. His retellings of their histories are quite uncontroversial. Briefly, he talks about the Ottoman Millet system (though he doesn't take the name) and the practice of raising Janissaries being altered to accommodate their children. He makes special mention of the fact that Turkey had nearly no middle class and almost zero industrialisation. It was a sad situation to be in, because industrialisation and the resulting upheavals in European countries form the basis of world history since then. Nehru opines (correctly) that the Ottomans were unable to integrate the various nationalities in their empire into a cohesive whole, and this caused nationalistic fervour to flare up in these regions. Some of the worst massacres the world had seen were to happen in these regions, the worst of which was the Armenian genocide.

Nehru believes that these nationalities could not have been integrated by the Ottoman Empire, which is why it did not do so. I'm not truly convinced by this. The Ottoman Millet system emphasised the separation of cultures to quite a ridiculous extent, so there does seem to be an element of design in it. However, the animus it seems to have bred within these groups is quite interesting, and not a question Nehru seems inclined to answer.

Nehru then goes on to talk about the Tsarist system. He rails quite passionately against it. He talks about the secret police employed by the Tsar, the various pogroms taken up by the Russian State, the system's complete indifference towards the serfs it ruled over, the poverty and backwardness of Russia, and finally, the seed of Socialism which sprouted there and led to Lenin. It is quite amazing to read him expound upon this, given what the Russian State morphed into under Stalin. Of course, it is pertinent to know that Solzhenitsyn did not publish much while Nehru was alive, so it is hypocritical to expect his opinions to be changed by knowledge of what was happening under Stalin and Khrushchev's watches.

Nehru goes on to talk about the Decembrist Revolt, the formation of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, the Revolution of 1905, the formation of the Duma, the creation of the Soviets, etc. He ties all this into the narrative of repression which had already been woven around the Tsarist regime.

Reading Nehru's take on this is quite interesting, chiefly because of the manner of writing. Nehru opines that Soviet Russia was, in many ways, the most advanced country in the world. He uses this train of thought of launch into a critique of Capitalism, which, according to him, leads to inequality, increasing debt burdens, etc. He is, however, quite fair when he talks about the great things to have come out of it as well. He acknowledges the great strides Capitalism has enabled humanity to take. In particular, his awe at human flight is quite endearing.

This diatribe against Capitalism is, perhaps, the best phrased I have yet read from this man. Nehru's view on Capitalism was shaped by the way the British practiced it in India. It led to poverty, debt traps, and the creation of a zamindari system which was on the path to self-destruction. Nehru sees inequality as an endemic part of the system. He also believes that Capitalism, by virtue of its insatiable hunger, was a ravenous beast harnessed to the carriages of the owners of capital, caring naught for the workers it trampled.

It isn't true, of course. While laissez fare Capitalism wasn't the end all be all of economic systems as its proponents claimed, Nehru ought to have remembered the role of political systems in assuring rights to their citizens. Fair working hours, universal education, universal franchise and a general uplifting of the quality of life were all products of the Capitalist system. As Nehru himself said, the problem in India was that it was British capital, and not Indian, which was India's master. Nehru is quite critical of bankers and foreign capital in general. He points out how the 1905 Revolution in Russia was crushed by the Tsar using French capital.

Unfortunately, this view seems to have seeped into governmental policy when India became independent. While foreign capital was unwelcome in India from 1947, it would have been interesting to see what might have happened had India encouraged entrepreneurship immediately after independence.

Anyhow, moving ahead sees Nehru talk about the eve of the First World War. He says a lot, most of it uncontroversial. The viciousness of the Balkan nationalities towards each other is mentioned, the Ottoman Sultan's attempt at a Pan-Muslim brotherhood is also talked about, and Gandhi's history in South Africa is briefly mentioned. Nehru is quite vocal about the fact that while only 19 years have passed since 1914, he could partition the world into a pre-1914 epoch, and a post-1914 epoch. It makes one wonder what he might have thought of 1991.

Day 18

The First World War and the Russian Revolution are covered in these pages. Nehru does not cover the War battle by battle.[9] However, he goes into the various cassus bellis employed by the participants, the motivations behind their actions (to an extent), and the source of the money pouring into it. It's quite interesting to see the amount of blame laid at the feet of the bankers and financiers behind the money pouring into the war. The war of the rich fought by the poor is how Nehru would pithily describe it, if given the chance.

This letter, however, demonstrates Nehru's anti-war credentials quite magnificently. He was not a violent man. He abhorred war. Like any thinking person, the very idea of war repulsed him, the thought of man against man was not something he liked. This is an interesting observation, really, because it explains a bit about his mindset when he fought various wars after independence. I will go out on a limb and say that Nehru did not believe any war to be morally valid. While he admired Napoleon (but not Alexander, it must be remembered), he speaks out against modern war much more vehemently than he expresses admiration for conquerors. Nehru expresses no admiration for the Red Baron or Lawrence of Arabia, for that matter. He sounds disgusted by David Lloyd George and the statesmen of the day. The actions of the bourgeoisie and the nobility, according to him, were morally repugnant and often quite plainly wrong.

It's hard to disagree with Nehru when he argues the way he does. He's not wrong: the First World War was not fought for the masses. But putting things in perspective is quite important here. War is nearly never a public endeavour. War is almost always fought for private gain through public means. There are few wars fought where the general populace of a country benefits as much as do the rich and privileged of the winning side.[10] Of course, Nehru was writing for the benefit of his daughter, so he might have driven home the point for teaching purposes, but there is a side of me which believes that Nehru actually did believe that World War One was exceptional in the accruing of benefits to bankers and financiers.

Nehru then turns to the Russian Revolution. My describing his writing would be quite artless: it's best if one took the time to read the letters describing the situation in Russia not just once, but at least twice. Any doubts on Nehru's socialist sympathies would be erased. Nehru is in praise of Lenin and Trotsky (he doesn't mention Stalin) and talks a great deal about how the Soviets nationalised industries to save them from looting by the very people they were sworn to govern and represent. He talks about how the Russian peoples were a lot more revolutionary than the bourgeoisie chosen to lead them, how the Soviets and the government became parallel governments, the magnificence of Lenin and the acceleration of the Revolution throughout Russian lands.

It's easy to understand Nehru's rose-tinted view of communism. To be quite honest, taking his thoughts at face value I can almost totally empathise with how he perceived it. A system free of inequality, one in which everyone was at the same level, one which aimed at solidarity, not war, a system which brushed aside the system of imperialism-capitalism which had subjugated his mother country. He contrasts the Russian Revolution against the First World War. The first a movement in which a bunch of people came together to end war and to empower the people, the second a brutal war fought to enrich the wealthy even further.

It is, of course, a bit disingenuous on Nehru's part to do this. He has expressed admiration for the virtues of capitalism in the past, even though he decries its ills. His opinion on capitalism vs socialism, however, seems to have solidified a bit early. The mistake Nehru seems to have made is forgetting that human nature is the same, whether one is feudal, a capitalist, or a socialist. Capitalism as a system worked upon human greed: it has been argued by scholars (both before and after Nehru's time) that leveraging self-interest into creating the invisible hand of the market is what leads to a well-functioning society, one which rewards risk-taking and innovation. It has its flaws, there is no denying that. However, dismissing it entirely seems to be a bit harsh.

Coming back to Nehru's narration of the Russian Revolution, one is struck by how it seems that the revolutionaries can do no wrong. Nehru does not strike me as someone who would believe something uncritically. A revolution occurring without there being much bloodshed? Am I to believe that no one perished due to the actions of Lenin and his friends? The confiscation of property and the legalisation of peasant land seizures might work for the revolution, but there is no moral critique of whether it was right of the peasants to take them from their former owners. Property rights are a fundamental basis of modern democracy: I'm surprised that a committed democrat like Jawaharlal Nehru makes no comment on this.

Day 19

These forty pages mostly cover the world going up in flames after the first world war. The Soviet Union, miraculously, emerges from the scrum after WWI both strong and virile. Nehru compares Soviet Russia to a young man in contrast with the doddering old capitalist countries.[11] There is an element of truth to what he says: class warfare and class differences are a lot more important to people compared to national differences. The Allies and the Central Powers worked together to try and thwart Bolshevism in Russia. The upending of the existing world order seems to have scared them more than other countries winning.

Nehru is, of course, very sympathetic to the Soviets. His veneration of Lenin, his trumpeting of the Soviets' generosity towards China, their focus on equality for all finds a lot of praise in these pages. He saw Socialism as the future, and in the spirit of a true revolutionary, justifies the sacrifices needed along the way. He justifies the Soviets depriving people of basic necessities in the name of progress. He, quite tellingly, talks of Lenin and Trotsky, but does not mention any elections taking place within Soviet Russia.

An uncharitable thought also came to mind as I read this. As Nehru talks about China, Arabia, Persia and Central Asian countries, he mentions Sultans, Kemal Pasha, a bunch of other people. However, self-determination and democracy were not words in his repertoire. Freedom from Imperialist yoke seems to be a lot more important than what comes after. It would be interesting to see what Nehru actually thought about hereditary rulers and Sultans in Arabia. While he mentions Sultan Ibn Saud, he does not say much beyond stating that Arabia was independent under him. This contrasts with an earlier letter where he talks negatively about Shah Reza Pahlavi and his strongman impulses. What is one to conclude? That Nehru wanted democracy, but was okay for a country to be undemocratic as long as it was free from any colonial master?

The French Revolution enchanted Nehru with declarations of liberty, fraternity and equality. Nehru venerates freedom from Imperial rule, yet sees nothing wrong with Soviet Imperialism in Asia. He speaks glowingly of equality as practiced in the Soviet Union[12], but makes light of the loss of liberty needed to get there. He makes a big deal about fraternities of men and women forming communes and soviets in Russia, but does not stop to think about representation. There are fallacies in his thinking, fallacies it would be good to face and consider.

The seduction of a new world unburdened by past mistakes is a great one. But one ought to remember that history cannot be erased with a sweep of one's hand, and generations of oppression do not go away by a change in policy.

He mentions Imperialist duplicity a lot. Japanese duplicity regarding agreements with respect to China, secret British and French treaties which bypassed their own international obligations, the agreement of Versailles: all of them are brought in for almost singular criticism. Nehru's anti-imperialist views are quite solid; it would not be wrong to say that a large portion of Nehru's stance towards all issues was based upon his anti-imperialism.

Yet one is reminded of how Nehru did admire Japan. If one harkens back to Nehru talking about different conquerors, one is reminded of Nehru's admiration for the ones in Asia and his distaste for the ones in Europe. A similar charge may be put at his feet again: Japan is all right despite its Imperialism because it is Asian. The atrocities committed by Japan do not erase the fact that she remained the only Asian country to successfully modernise before WWII. I do wish it was easier to square this circle, but I'm honestly scratching my head.

Nehru mentions Fascism and how it comes about. He mentions how it's an evolution of democracy[13] and how it comes about in economically beleaguered states, specifically in Italy. I am glad he did not tap into this mode of thinking when ruling India. Avoiding democracy to belay Fascism would have been throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Nehru then goes on to talk about India during wartime. India was kept backward by the British, but that changed during WWI. The ruling classes rallied behind the British, and British capital flowed into India to build up her industries. Industrialists like Tata flourished under this regime, despite the fact that Britain sought to help no one but her own merchant and industrial class. The idea, according to Nehru, was that Britain had to at least partially industrialise India in order to make sure she could withstand an attack from the Soviets, who seemed dangerously close to her in Central Asia. That way it wouldn't matter whether she was cut off from Britain or not, she would still be able to do something on her own. Of course, that did not mean that India was to relieve Britain of any special taxation privileges she enjoyed. The British still controlled the currency, the banking system, and the rates of taxation, and ruthlessly used them in their own favour.

This led to the formation of bourgeoisie groups which demanded attention and Home Rule. Most specifically, he calls out the Indian National Congress, which matured into a body of committed Home Rule demanders, almost all of them from the upper castes and classes of India.[14] Nehru also mentions the transformation of the Congress under Mahatma Gandhi from an elite body to a mass movement. For the common folk, Gandhi embodied the freedom struggle under the Indian National Congress. More than anyone else, it was Gandhi who converted the Indian National Congress into a people's movement.

This is quite interesting. If one were to note parallels with the French Revolution, one would remember that the French Revolution has also been described by Nehru as a middle class revolution. The Indian freedom struggle, likewise, started out because enough people had become rich enough that they sought a better polity. Like Prof. John Darwin has stated in After Tamerlane, a society needs to achieve a certain level of prosperity before it starts to chafe against political bondage. It happened when Shivaji rebelled against Aurungzeb, when the Sikhs broke off to form their own state, even when Bengal submitted to Robert Clive. Gandhi's brilliance was in converting this sentiment into something the working class could understand. In a way, I must say, Gandhi created exactly what Nehru calls WWI for being: a private war fought by the public. The irony ought not to be lost on anyone.

Nehru does not speak much more of India and her Freedom Movement. He shifts talk to China, which is divided after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. He says that China is ruled by warlords[15], except the south, which is ruled by the Kuomintang under Dr. Sun-Yat Sen. The Kuomintang is a great national body, according to Nehru, and perhaps the only strong authority in China at the time. The government in Beijing was weak and easily compelled. It could be forced to go this way or that by anyone, and the Japanese, in particular, took advantage of this to sign numerous treaties in the League of Nations to honour Chinese boundaries and not take part in its internal affairs, while still doing it anyway.[16]

Nehru's feelings towards China have changed, at this time. Gone are the laudations and heaps of worshipful praise piled upon China as a greater civilisation than all before it. China is a fellow sufferer, a giant country forced to its knees by world events. As Nehru tells it, giants take time to change. India and China would change, and once that would happen, China would become a great power, and India would become a potential great power.[17]

But there was time for that. In the meantime, the League of Nations had formed. Nehru laments that it was an ineffectual body. There were many things it was supposed to do, but not many things it actually did do. Britain and France, in particular, used it as a legitimiser for their various imperialist acts. The Soviet Union was not a member, neither was Germany[18], or the United States.

The Soviet Union, says Nehru, sympathised with the plight of the oppressed. It would always ask about the nature of self-determination when countries like India were denied it by their European overlords. The cynic in me thinks that it was advantageous for the Soviets to do so. In fact, Nehru noted that Britain itself would care about and protest for lofty principles like the dignity of man and human rights whenever there were no commercial reasons to not do the same. The Soviets lost nothing by espousing self-determination in Western colonies: all it lost them was the respect of all of Europe, which they didn't have anyway. Given the history of Josef Stalin and all that he did, I'm not sure which view is more correct.

Nehru also mentions the Great Depression and the nature of credit which led to it. About how the costs of borrowing went so high that the debtors had to borrow even more to pay off their previous debts. How the United States lent as much as it could, but when it became clear that its debtors could not pay, the world economy crashed and protectionist barriers went up.

I don't really know what to conclude about Nehru from all this. The hypocrisy in his stances is plain, the irony of him leading a movement of the masses which mostly benefitted the bourgeoisie is rich, and his ambiguous stance on Japan is strange. The amount of suspicion he held towards Western powers and methods is, well, nigh-ununderstandable to me. He sees the power of industrialisation, the power of Capitalism as well as its downsides. Yet he seems to not have applied the same power of critical thinking towards Communism. It makes one wonder about the true depth of revolutionary fervour. Can one blame a BJP supporter for being as passionate as he or she are right now when people like Nehru could so easily be seduced by an undemocratic ideology?

  1. As an aside, I wonder how many people have thought of the fact that one can be underwhelmed, one may be overwhelmed, but one is never really just "whelmed". Quite curious, is it not? ↩︎

  2. Nehru remains concise here, which makes me wonder what else this book is going to give me. It's already just seventy years away from Nehru's own time. ↩︎

  3. Which I believe was not a thing in his time ↩︎

  4. I do not say communism here, do mark this. ↩︎

  5. It's quite interesting that France is not even mentioned here. It would be interesting to understand what was happening to industry in France as this was going on ↩︎

  6. A lesson current politicians seeking to end the war on drugs might want to adopt as well ↩︎

  7. I suppose Nehru goes into this thought process later: there is a letter titled "The Sick Man of Europe" immediately after this one ↩︎

  8. Out of all the books Nehru read, I'm surprised at his lack of adherence to the theories of The Prince ↩︎

  9. To be fair, I expected at least a mention of the Battle of the Somme, but there was none. ↩︎

  10. The Second World War is a notable exception. It is hard to imagine what would have happened to the various peoples of the world had the Nazis won ↩︎

  11. This makes for an interesting what if. Would Nehru be surprised by the state of modern Russia? How would he have viewed Stalin and the truth about Soviet communism after he knew everything about it? ↩︎

  12. There is a great deal of discussion about the equality between men and women in the Soviet Union. One gets the feeling that Nehru was an ardent feminist from these letters, but I wouldn't stake my life on that claim. ↩︎

  13. I do not mean to say that Nehru thinks it's a natural evolution of the doctrine of democracy, no. Nehru merely says that Democracies, under certain conditions, seem to (d)evolve into Fascist states ↩︎

  14. Gopal Krishna Gokhale is called out specifically as being out of this mould. Lokmanya Tilak is also mentioned as being an upper class/caste person, yet being very popular among the masses. ↩︎

  15. The Chinese name for these warlords is Tuchuns. The name makes me chuckle. ↩︎

  16. And yet, Japan is the greatest Asian nation of her time, so Nehru does not critique her the same way he criticises Britain or France. To say Nehru was not a politician would be doing him grave injustice. ↩︎

  17. As an aside, I'm actually curious about how many people shared this world view back then. Nehru's articulate writing belies a powerful mind. His views, while not necessarily widespread, must have been shaped from somewhere. Why did he decide that China would make a great power and India would not? I'm quite sure he'd be thrilled to know that he was vindicated. ↩︎

  18. Not a founding member, at least ↩︎