Economic Conflict & Trusteeship

   Let us see how Gandhi sought to manage the problem of economic conflicts between the rich and poor. Says the father of the Indian nation: “True economics never militates against the highest ethical standard, just as all true ethics to be worth its name must at the same time be also good economics. An economics that inculcates Mammon worship, and enables the strong to amass wealth at the expense of the weak, is a false and dismal science. It spells death. True economics, on the other hand, stands for social justice; it promotes the good of all equally including the weakest, and is indispensable for decent life.”

The father of Indian nation further says, “Working for economic equality means abolishing the eternal conflict between capital and labor. It means the leveling down of the few rich in whose hands is concentrated the bulk of the nation’s wealth on the one hand, and the leveling up of the semi-starved naked millions on the other. A non-violent system of government is clearly impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists. … A violent and bloody revolution is a certainty one day unless there is a voluntary abdication of riches and the power that riches give and sharing them for the common good. I adhere to my doctrine of trusteeship in spite of the ridicule that has been poured upon it. It is true that it is difficult to reach. So is non-violence. …They (Congressmen) should ask themselves how the existing inequalities can be abolished violently or non-violently. I think we know the violent way. It has not succeeded anywhere. This non-violent experiment is still in the making. We have nothing much yet to show by way of demonstration.”

  He says:

  “Today there is gross economic inequality. The basis of socialism is economic equality. There can be no Ramrajya in the present state of iniquitous inequalities in which a few rill in riches and the ma“sses do not get even enough to eat. “

  The great soul says:

  “I suggest that, if India is to evolve along non-violent lines, it will have to decentralize many things. Centralization cannot be sustained and defended without adequate force. Simple homes from which there is nothing to take away require no policing; the palaces of the rich must have strong guards to protect them against dacoits. So must huge factories. Rurally organized India will run less risk of foreign invasion than urbanized India, well equipped with military, naval and air forces.”

He expressed candidly his thoughts thus: “I must confess that I have not yet been able to fully understand the meaning of Bolshevism. All that I know is that it aims at the abolition of the institution of private property. This is an application of the ethical ideal of non-possession in the realm of economics and if the people adopted this ideal of their own accord or could be made to accept it by means of peaceful persuasion, there would be nothing like it. But from what I know of Bolshevism it not only does not preclude the use of force, but freely sanctions it for the expropriation of private property and maintain the collective State ownership of the same. And if that is so, I have no hesitation in saying that the Bolshevik regime in its present form cannot last for long. For it is my firm conviction that nothing enduring can be built on violence. But, be that as it may, there is no questioning the fact that the Bolshevik ideal has behind it the purest sacrifice of countless men and women who have given up their all for its sake, and an ideal that is sanctioned by the sacrifices of such master spirits as Lenin cannot go in vain; the whole example of their renunciation will be emblazoned forever and quicken and purify the ideal as time passes.” (Young India dated 15-11-1928 – India of my dreams, p. 26.)

The modern political saint of India opened his heart saying: “What does Communism mean in the last analysis? It means a classless society – an ideal that is worth striving for. Only I part company with it when force is called to aid for achieving. We are all born equal, but we have all these centuries resisted the will of God. The idea of inequality, of ‘high and low’, is an evil, but I do not believe in eradicating evil from the human breast at the point of the bayonet. The human breast does not lend itself to that means.” (Harijan dated 13-3-1937; India of my Dreams, p.27)

He echoes a faint voice of a new type of Communism, a spiritual Communism, when he says: “Communism of the Russian type, that is communism which is imposed on a people, would be repugnant to India. If communism came without any violence, it would be welcome. For then no property would be held by anybody except on behalf of the people and for the people. A millionaire may have his millions but will hold them for the people. The State could take charge of them, whenever they would need them for the common cause.” (Harijan datedc13-3-37, India of my Dreams p. 27)

He further elaborated on spiritual communism thus: “Real Socialism has been handed down to us by our ancestors who taught: “All land belongs to Gopal; where then is the boundary line? Man is the maker of that line and he can, therefore, unmake it.” Gopal literally means shepherd; it also means God. In modern language, it means the State, i.e. the people. That the land today does not belong to the people is true. But the fault is not in the teaching. It is in us who have not lived up to it. I have no doubt that we can make as good an approach to it as is possible for any nation, not excluding Russia, and that without violence. The most effective substitute for violent dispossession is the wheel with all its implications. Land and all property is his who will work for it. Unfortunately the workers are or have been kept ignorant of this simple fact.” (Harijan dt. 2-1-37, India of my Dreams p. 22).

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