Strategy and tactics

‘Every single Viceroy of India, whether they liked it or not, had to deal with Gandhi’

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Harjeevan Gill speaks to author and historian Talat Ahmed about her new biography of Mohandas Gandhi, the battle over his legacy in India today and what Extinction Rebellion can learn from him.

There’s been so much written about Gandhi. What was the motivation behind writing your book?

Yes there are lots of books about Gandhi — you could fill an entire library with the number of biographies and political theses. Some of the literature is very good indeed and there are lots of historical works dating back 30 or 40 years where historians have mined all kinds of archival material in order to try and make sense of Gandhi. Much of that work has been very useful and it certainly influenced me in my own thinking.

What kind of unity?

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In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, 1,000 people met in central London to discuss “post-Brexit alliance building”. The idea — that the only chance to defeat the Tories is to form a “progressive alliance” between Labour, Greens, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP — has become increasingly popular. It was also discussed at the Momentum festival that coincided with Labour Party conference in Liverpool, and is heavily referenced in a Momentum-edited edition of the magazine Red Pepper.

How about a life in politics?

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Donny Gluckstein asks what the relationship is between “politics”, the state and radical social change, looking at reformist and revolutionary strategies as well as the rejection of it all in the form of anti-politics.

The foundations of mainstream politics are crumbling and the results are both exhilarating and troubling. Alongside the recent election victory of Syriza, and with Podemos topping Spanish polls, there is the frightening growth of the far-right in many European countries.

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