Drawn from an excellent article in The New Yorker by Pankaj Mishra, "Gandhi for the Post-Truth Age," in the issue of October 22, 2018.
Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote. And even Gandhi’s harshest detractors do not deny that he steadfastly defended, and eventually sacrificed his life for, many values under assault today—fellow-feeling for the weak, and solidarity and sympathy between people of different nations, religions, and races.
No one would be less surprised than Gandhi by neo-Fascist upsurges in what he called “nominal” Western democracies, which in his view were merely better at concealing their foundations of violence and exploitation than explicitly Fascist nations were. He thought that democracy in the West was “clearly an impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists,” and as long as legislators act like a “prostitute”—his infamous term for the British Parliament—and voters “take their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest.”
True democracy, or swaraj, involved much more participation from citizens, he believed; it required them to combine self-rule with self-restraint, politics with ethics. Turning his back on his middle-class origins, he brought millions of peasants into political life. To him, the age of democracy—“this age of awakening of the poorest of the poor”—was a cause for celebration, and he conceived of democracy as something that “gives the weak the same chance as the strong,” in which “inequalities based on possession and non-possession, colour, race, creed or sex vanish.”