Ajay Skaria, Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Already in his own time, and ever more so in the last four decades, Gandhi’s politics have been subjected to powerful critiques from the left. While many of these critiques are entirely correct, they can, if made too quickly, also obscure from us what is most radical about Gandhi—the way he questioned a will-centered politics. Such a questioning remains indispensable for every left and democratic politics today, even if it must necessarily proceed by relinquishing many of Gandhi’s specific formulations and positions. Thinking with Gandhi, this talk will address four questions: what is a politics that affirms the will of the people? What is distinctive about “parliamentary swaraj” as a form of will-centered politics? What would be involved in a politics that relinquishes the will? Finally, what is the relation between these two politics—between the politics that affirms the will and the one that relinquishes the will.