Gora And Class Struggle
Ariel Cruz

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Ariel Cruz"
Subject: Re: Gora and class struggle.
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000 3:19 PM

As you will see, I have very little background in political science. I like some but not all of Gora's views as they pertain to atheism, and that's about it.

I would agree that Gora misunderstood the class dynamics (among other things) within a Capitalist society, and also misunderstood (at least on paper) the fact that neither pure Capitalism nor pure Socialism will work for very long.

I have adopted some elements of Gora's personal philosophical outlook and have stated that I am skeptical about his social and political outlook. It is his views on truthfulness and on taking personal action and personal responsibility that I have incorporated into my own outlook. Much of this aspect of his outlook is what he derived from Gandhi; some of it he already held and Gandhi agreed with him.

As anybody should be able to see (and most of us don't have the political science background that you appear to have -- I certainly don't), the times and culture that Gora was working in were vastly different from anything you will find in the West. The kinds of subcultures there (mostly distinguished by specific religious views) and the sheer diversity of the people, saddled with very specific economic problems, political hardships, and frequent natural disasters, complicated by the revolution in 1947 and 48, gave Gora strong reasons to conclude that his social and political views were best for all -- even though he spent very little time outside of his country.

This is why Gora's writings will never gain widespread acceptance outside of India and outside the role they play in describing the history of one subculture in one nation. Their current willingness to remain focused and plugged in to the world-wide atheistic movement is why the Indian Rationalist Association has gained much wider acceptance outside of India, even though Atheist Centre has probably accomplished more work inside India over the long haul (probably due to Atheist Centre's initial association with Gandhi and Nehru, and complicated by Indian Rationalist Association's internal power struggles that Atheist Centre, being a family-run group, will probably never suffer).

Thanks you for the opportunity to air some of my skeptical feelings about some of what Gora has written. His writings are here to give them Internet presence and I like them for their personal philosophical and ethical values. I profoundly respect Gora for the work he has done and for many of the ideas he has conveyed to us through his writings and his work. His stong sense of principle is something to be emulated indeed. I am also intrigued by his concept of "Partyless Democracy," though I don't see how it could possibly fly in the West.

If you are going to read only one of Gora's books, read An Atheist With Gandhi. This one is excellent starting with the splendid defense of the concept of the ineffable god contained in the Introduction, and culminating with Gandhi's playful taunts and Gora's unanswerable responses. To go further, read Positive Atheism -- though the limitations of Gora's political science education begin to show to those familiar with political science. Finally, An Atheist Around The World is interesting, but here is where Gora's limitations become apparent even to someone who is not paying very close attention, because here is where some of Gora's ideas meet the real world of culture outside India, thus invalidating their potential as a universally applicable system. Gora's main problem was that he tried to make everyone fit into the same mold; I differ in that as a Liberal, I try to see everyone as being different, and try to see all those different outlooks as being valid within a context of governing or administering a state or a nation.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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