The Pilgrims' March/Foreword

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Let the reader not mistake the purport of these messages from imprisoned and other leaders. They are not messages of complaint but of triumph and achievement. Non-co-operators have every reason to rejoice at the Government's adoption of the policy of repression, for it has been frankly the aim of non-co-operation to force this policy on Government. It is as in a game of chess the skilful player thinks ahead and forces his opponent to move according to the more skilful player's plan of campaign and the opponent plays into the victor's hands. It is as in a war, the skilful general at his pleasure forces the enemy to advance and attack that the latter might be defeated the more comprehensively. When the Indian nation resolved on non-co-operation with the Government it anticipated and desired repression, for there can be no non-co-operation without it. There can be no passive resistance if there is nothing to resist. The nations strikes must be directed against the Government's laws, and while that Government exists that Government must resort to repression to enforce its laws. When repression ceases non-co-operation will be at an end; for, the cessation of repression will spell the defeat and abdication of the Reformed Government of India it will spell Swaraj. It were therefore, rank hypocrisy in nationalists to protest ever so faintly against repression, or indeed to do anything but welcome it. It is a signpost on the pilgrims' road to Swaraj telling them that the journey's end is in sight. The nation most emphatically does not desire the release of those leaders who have been imprisoned; nor do the leaders themselves wish this until such release comes automatically with the abdication of the Reformed Government of India in favour of a Swaraj Government. The most dangerous opponents of Indian national freedom are not those Governors who like Lord Ronaldshay are filling the gaols with non-co-operators, but those Satraps who like Sir George Lloyd of Bombay, are resisting the temptation to play into Mahatma Gandhi's and the nation's hands. But eventually even the Government of Madras and Bombay will be compelled by the people to follow the example and policy of the Government of Bengal, the United Provinces and the Punjab. Their only alternative will be unconditional surrender to, and in favour of provincial Swaraj. With the above facts clearly borne in mind the reader will not be tempted to regard this book as a pathetic monument of suffering. Its message is one of good cheer and of encouragement; for, it is a record of successful achievement. Contrast the brave optimism and firm purpose of every word with the halting apologies for a truce uttered by Lords Reading and Ronaldshay. If clarity of thought and confidence of success breed immediate victory, if hesitation and doubt spell early defeat, the contrast is eloquent of the fact that victory is already ours, and that the pilgrims' march to Swaraj has in the gaol all but reached its goal.

24th Dec. 1921.