While clearly a historical figure that given enough time will claim the same status as Moses or Mohamed, I have never done any serious study of the man, my knowledge of him was principally through mention of him in high school social studies, and of course the excellent film biopic starring a young Ben Kingsley (which he won a well deserved Oscar for).
Imagine my surprise when researching a quote by Gandhi, that I uncovered clear and irrefutable signs that he was a ‘capital L’ Libertarian! (Quotes via Wikiquote.)
“I’m a lover of my own liberty, and so I would do nothing to restrict yours. I simply want to please my own conscience, which is God.” January 21st, 1927
“…That State is the best governed which is governed the least.” August 15th, 1940
… It doesn’t get much more Libertarian than that!
And interestingly, while clearly a man of peace, he was not entirely a pacifist… And if he had been an American, he clearly would have supported the 2nd Amendment!
“In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the native. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?” – March 25th 1905
“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.” – 1927
Anyone who is scratching their head and wondering why Gandhi would hold this position on firearms (all the while espousing and practicing non-violence) should probably take a long pause… And meditate on it.
In retrospect it should have been obvious that Gandhi would have held Libertarian ideals. After all, his struggle to free India through civil disobedience and non-violent protest was for freedom, pure and simple. One who holds freedom as most important and above all else, cannot help but fit the very definition of a Libertarian.
With any luck, this will be the first in a long series of famous (‘surprise!’) Libertarians!