What constitutes nationalism? Who is considered a member of that nation-state? Both Mahatmas Gandhi and Joseph Mazzini make strong arguments regarding these two topics. While they share the common end goal of independence, they contend different views as to what constitutes a nation’s need independence from, and who are members of a certain nation-state. Ultimately, Gandhi’s argument is more morally defensible than Mazzini’s for reasons that will explained.
In their arguments for nationalism, both Gandhi and Mazzini argue that nations need to be free. However, Gandhi contends that nations need to be free from “civilization”, while Mazzini argues that they need to be free from their oppressors. Gandhi believed that India did not need to be free from the British, but free from “civilization” in order to be liberated. He contended that India was being suppressed by railroads, lawyers, and doctors. Gandhi wrote that, “railways, lawyers and doctors have impoverished the country, so much so that, if we do not wake up in time, we shall be ruined”. He argues this point both in the literal and figurative sense. Gandhi argues that when the English “civilized” India by introducing railroads, doctors, and lawyers, that they were, in fact not bringing advancements, but rather, bringing the collapse of true civilization. People started to worship money as if it were a god and would do anything to pursue it, often forfeiting a fulfilling and pure life in order to attain material