24 January 2002
ON "UNCIVIL DISOBEDIENCE"
From: Devinder Sharma
Referring to Gandhi in this unsavoury debate on biotechnology is rather amusing. And if the Mahatma were alive today, I am sure he would have undertaken a long fast to express his displeasure at the biotechnology industry's greed!
Let us not forget, it was Mahatma Gandhi who said "Earth has enough for man's need, but not for his greed" !!!!!
If we were to follow even a fraction of what the Mahatma said and followed, there would be no need for the permutation and combinations that the biotechnology industry is weaving to manipulate and exploit the poor for the sake of its profits. If only we had read Gandhi's talisman there would have been no place for the greed of the biotechnology industry and its 'shouting brigade' comprising agricultural scientists, economists, bureaucrats and politicians. If only we had followed the principles of self-reliance to which Gandhi devoted his life, there wouldn't have been any need for courageous people like Jose Bove to step out. And let us not forget, biotechnology does not lead to self-reliance. In fact, it destroys self-reliance.
What is important for the global community is to follow the ideals of the Mahatma. The world would have been much better and peaceful if we had honestly followed what the Mahatma had said. It is not late even now. Let us all join hands and make a humble beginning...........
(I live in New Delhi where Gandhi spent much of his life outside prison. I live in the city where Gandhi was assassinated and his body was consigned to flames. Whenever I get fed up with the antics and propaganda of the biotechnology industry, I sit around his 'samadhi' for a few hours, read and read again his great talisman and come back rejuvenated !)
From: "Charles M. Rader"
Bove's reference to following the ideal of Henry David Thoreau must leave Henry rolling over in his grave.
Thoreau was opposed to a war between the United States and Mexico. He felt that a moral man opposed to immoral conduct should take no part in such conduct. As a specific, he refused to pay a small tax that he said would support that war. He was arrested and spent one night in the Concord town jail, but was released when a friend paid the tax in his stead.
Thoreau did NOT engage in any violence. He destroyed no property. He just refused to cooperate with what he thought was immoral. When arrested for non-payment of the tax he did not claim that he shouldn't go to jail. He just went to jail.
If Jose Bove wants to not cooperate with immoral GM crops, he can refuse to plant them. He can refuse to buy them. He can refuse to eat them. When he refuses to let others plant, buy or eat them he is stepping well past the boundaries of Thoreau's philosophy. He is perverting it.
A well known example of an application of Thoreau's concept of civil disobedience was Ghandi's campaign to get India's independence from England. Ghandi destroyed nothing, injured nobody. He refused to obey unjust laws and went voluntarily to prison several times. One of his most effective campaigns was getting people to spin their own cloth instead of buying cloth imported from England. It seems that there is a good analogy between Ghandi's preferring Indian homespun cloth over English factory cloth and Bove's preferring French organic crops over American biotechnology crops, but Ghandi never destroyed anyone else's clothing.
Bove's disobedience is anything but civil.
(I live in Concord, Massachusetts, where Thoreau lived and taught school. My house was once his schoolhouse, first as a pupil and later as the teacher.)
Charles M. Rader
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