“The greatness of a nation ( and its moral progress) can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
There is scarce a dog forum, discussion list or group in the world that doesn’t have at least one member with this quote in their tag line.
Who, can possibly complain about Gandhi?
Who indeed. Well my furry comrades, no one escapes the truthlight.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Since presumably no one can besmirch Gandhi, or protest against treating animals well, this quote is held high over us all like a golden scepter.
The greatness of a nation…
Yes. You’re starting to see it. I can tell. Nationalism. Nationalism is a very different thing from Patriotism. Patriotism loves the goodness of your country. Nationalism loves its evils.
“By patriotism I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige.. ., for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” – George Orwell
The greatness of a nation can be judged…
The nation is judged as a single entity.
Notice how it is judged on its GREATNESS?
Not its compassion, or intelligence or liberty. No. The NATION is judged on GREATNESS.
Does [national greatness] not consist in Liberty? That Liberty is a kind and fostering Nurse of Greatness will be cheerfully and cordially admitted but as we have seen National Greatness where there was no Freedom, so we have seen free Nations where Baseness rather than Greatness constituted the national Character. – William Morris
National Greatness is not a sympathetic virtue.
National Greatness => Nationalism => Government Tyranny
Look at the quote in its entirety.
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its’ people treat their animals.
Oops. My bad. It really says,
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
Again I entreat you to look carefully at the wording. The quote says “its animals”. "Its" clearly refers to "a nation". "Its" does not refer the people of the nation who own the animals.
Ghandi does not suggest that a nation is great because it is made up of great individuals that each treat their animal well.
Rather, the quote suggests that a nation is great because it has a large central government that forces people to act in a way that it (the large central government) deems acceptable.
“Nationalism is inseparable from the desire for power.” - Orwell
Using the power of government to force feel-good compliance from your neighbor so you can tell your European friends how moral your country is, is nationalism.
Raj Panjwani, a Hindu who campaigns for animal rights in Australia and New Zealand, is a stellar example.
The New Zealand Herald reports:
[Panjwani] says he came not to preach, simply to tell how he has achieved improvements to the lives of animals in India through the use of the law.
…the law is about empowerment, Panjwani says.
And when the government-induced animal welfare ends your rights keep a pet or buy meat for your children?
When the Nationalism goes bad, as it always eventually does?
Nonviolent Gandhi had the solution for that too.
“Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.” - Mahatma Gandhi