the ‘Grammar of Anarchy’ speech: B. R. Ambedkar

If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions”. There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

Discussion on the draft Constitution(1949):

3 Responses to “the ‘Grammar of Anarchy’ speech: B. R. Ambedkar”
  1. You are right. Look at the countries where revolution has taken place like Egypt, Libya. Still in mess and lot of people have suffered.

  2. For all those who have access to “constitutional methods” it is so very easy to presume that those are available to all. Only the farmers who can not pay back loans from the bank because of glut knows how difficult it is to avail those.The oppressed knows constitutional remedies are generally available only to theprivileged!

  3. It is important to decide for one’s self and for one’s followers, what precisely is one fighting for. And are the means to achieve ends constitutional, and more so, progressive? Mere exhortations won’t do. Who better than Mr. Ambedkar to refer to!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: