Democratic socialism is a lie
A number of questions have been received; they are in the context of the previous discourses. A friend has asked: IN THE COURSE OF YOUR TALKS ON SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM YOU DID NOT GIVE ANY THOUGHT TO DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM. CAN YOU SAY SOMETHING ABOUT DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM?
It would be useful to understand a few things about democratic socialism. Democratic socialism is a contradiction in terms; it is a combination of two words that contradict each other. It is like saying "a barren woman's son", which is again a contradiction in terms. If a woman has a son she could not be barren; and if she is barren she could not have a son.
There is no grammatical mistake in the composition of the phrase "a barren woman's son", but it cannot be true. In the same way there cannot be a thing like democratic socialism; it is just an empty phrase, a meaningless cliche. Why?
Democracy and socialism, as socialism is currently known cannot go together, because the one cancels the other. Because democracy has to be destroyed in the very process of bringing socialism, the so-called socialism cannot be brought without murdering democracy. And it is necessary to understand why democracy will have to go for socialism to come.
The first principle, the foundational principle of democracy is that it gives every individual person the freedom to live, to work, to earn, to produce and to own, use and amass his production, his property. It is one of his basic rights. The next fundamental principle of democracy ordains that there should be no injustice to anyone. And another basic principle of democracy says that the majority cannot subject the minority to any injustices. If, in a village, there live a hundred Mohammedans and ten Hindus, and the Mohammedans decide to kill the Hindus and say that they are going to do it democratically, because the majority is in support of killing and only the minority is against it, then we will say that it is wrong, it violates democracy. Democracy means that even if there is a minority of one, the majority cannot subject it to injustices, and deprive it of any of its basic rights.
Capitalism, or the capitalist, is a minority today. If the majority, whom the so-called socialism claims to speak and work for, uses democracy to destroy this minority, then it knocks out the very foundation of democracy. And minorities change with time. Today one group is in the minority, tomorrow another may take its place. Now some people say that wealth should be distributed -- someone should not have more and others less -- because wealth creates jealousy and bitterness. But it is necessary to ask if it is justice that those who did not do a thing to produce wealth, who took no part whatsoever in its creation, who were just spectators, should now, when wealth is created, come forward and demand its distribution.
It is interesting to note that whenever a great invention was made, an invention which later on became an instrument of great production, it could not be easily sold, it had no buyers. The inventors and innovators have always been looked upon as crazy people.
I have heard that a scientist took an inventor to any number of people and introduced his new design to them. And the inventor was ready to sell his design for just fifty rupees, but nobody wanted to oblige him. The first design of the motor car was thought to be a piece of madness, and so was the first design of the airplane. No one was ready to buy and try them, because one could not really believe they would be worthwhile. They must have been men of rare courage who worked on those new designs and opened unheard of doors to production. But now that the wealth is there, all those who had been idle spectators, who had called the pioneers mad and crazy, come forward and ask for a share in that wealth, saying that wealth belongs to all.
A handful of people have created wealth, but after it has been created, all those who have had no hand in its creation are claimants for a share in its ownership. But this is not what democracy means. Democracy means that the producer should own his produce. And if he distributes it, shares it with others, it is his pleasure. But the so-called claimants have no right to it. And if it ever became a matter of right, then nobody knows where this matter will end.
Wealth is the creation of intelligence and talent. Today we envy that intelligence and say that wealth should be distributed equally. In the same way, tomorrow we will say that we cannot tolerate that a few persons have beautiful wives while others have ugly ones. We will say that this is inequality, it cannot be tolerated; everyone should have equal rights to beautiful women. We will not be wrong if we say that, because basically it is the same logic; there is no difference at all. And then the day after we will say that it is intolerable that a handful of people are intelligent while others are stupid. This too is inequality; we demand equal distribution of intelligence and talent. It is again the same logic that demands equal distribution of wealth.
But the whole approach is anti-democratic. In fact, every person is different and unique.
Every person is born with distinct and different potentialities, and they will seek and develop their own potentialities, and they will create what they are made to create. And as such they will own their creation. And if they share it with others, they do so for their own joy. But we have no right to claim it; it would be grossly unJust.
Socialism, however, approves of many such injustices, because it is easy to win the majority in support of injustices. But injustice will not become justice and a lie will not become truth just because the majority supports them. Freedom to own private property is one of the fundamental human rights, and democracy accepts this right of the individual.
So when somebody says that socialism with democracy is possible, he is saying an outright lie. Socialism violates the basic principle of democracy. Democracy and socialism cannot go together.
The second thing is that socialism only talks of the great values, which make for the basis of its philosophy; it cannot achieve them. So it will be worthwhile if we go into some of these values at length.
Freedom is perhaps the greatest value in man's life. There is no greater value than this, because freedom is foundational to the whole development of man. That is why bondage or slavery is the worst state of human existence and freedom its best and most beautiful.
And socialism cannot be established without fighting and finishing freedom. It is, of course, possible that the majority may consent to destroy the freedom of the minority. But still it is unfair and unjust. Destruction of freedom can never be democratic.
Freedom of thought is the very life of democracy; it is its very soul. But socialism cannot stand freedom of thought, because freedom of thought includes the freedom to support capitalism. It is difficult for socialism to swallow. Socialism wants to destroy capitalism root and branch, and therefore it has to destroy freedom of thought. And it is unthinkable how, after destroying the right of the individual to hold property and his freedom of thought. socialism can be democratic.
Democratic socialism is a blatant lie. The fact is that the word democracy has respectability, and socialism does not want to forego this respectability. That is why Russia is democratic, China is democratic, and the rest of them are democratic. Man can misuse words in a big way. He can label Satan as God. Who can stop it? It is difficult.
Let it be clearly understood that democracy is a value that goes with capitalism, and not with socialism. And if democracy has to live, it can only live with capitalism; it cannot live with socialism. Democracy is an inalienable part of the capitalist way of life, and as such it can only go with capitalism.
Similarly there are other values -- we are not even aware of them -- which can be destroyed easily. And they are already being destroyed. The individual has the ultimate value. But in the eyes of socialism it is not the individual but the collective, the crowd, that has value. And socialism accepts that the individual can be sacrificed for the collective, the society. The individual, in fact, has always been sacrificed in the name of great principles, and for the sake of big and high-sounding names. He has been sacrificed sometimes for the sake of the nation and sometimes for the sake of religion, and sometimes for the sake of the KORAN, the Gita and innumerable other things. But man refuses to learn from history. When old altars disappear, he creates new ones, and continues sacrificing the individual. Socialism is such a new altar.
If man has to learn anything from his history, the one lesson that is worth learning is this:
The individual cannot be sacrificed for anything. Even the greatest of nations does not have the right to ask for the sacrifice of a single individual. Even the greatest of humanity does not have the right to sacrifice the individual for its sake -- because the individual is a living consciousness, and it is dangerous to sacrifice this living consciousness at the altar of a system or an organization, however great it be; because the system is a lifeless arrangement, a dead entity, and it is not proper to sacrifice a living man for the sake of a dead system.
But we have gotten into the habit of killing the individual, and even now we are seeking new avenues, new altars at which the individual can be sacrificed. The new altar is socialism.
Socialism is not democratic. The socialism that is sought to be forced on us can never be democratic. In only one way can socialism come without sacrificing freedom, and that is when it comes effortlessly, naturally and by itself. Otherwise it is not possible for socialism to be democratic.
Only today a friend told me that he had read in some newspaper about a unique little island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. The population of that island is not large, some hundreds of people live there. But the island is so rich in phosphorous mines, and those mines yield so much wealth that every person earns at least eight thousand rupees from them. In that island no one is poor, no one is rich, just because men are few and wealth is plentiful. This little island is perhaps the first socialist society on this earth at the moment. But the people of the island don't even know that they are a socialist society -- it is not necessary for them to know it.
Abundant wealth and scant population make for socialism.
The friend also told me about a unique custom that exists in that island and perhaps nowhere else. If a guest in a family admires a thing -- say the radio in the sitting room -- then the family immediately makes a gift of the radio to the guest. Because they believe that if a person has a liking for a certain thing, it should go to him; it really belongs to him. This custom exists there because they have abundant wealth and so their clinging to wealth has withered away.
Someday we may have socialism on the whole earth. It is necessary, and it will come, if the socialists are not in haste. But if the socialists continue to be in a hurry, as they are, then the chances are that it will never come; it will be delayed forever. Socialism will come without sacrificing democracy when we have created a situation with plenty of wealth and less numbers of people. But then we will not know when it came, how it came. It will come silently, as every significant thing in life comes.
There is another thing that deserves attention, and it should be understood well. Many friends have complained that I say that labor has no use in the creation of wealth. I never said that labor has no use in the creation of riches. I only said that sooner or later labor will increasingly become a non-essential factor in the production of goods. over a long period it has already been losing its place. Labor has a hand in the creation of wealth, hut it has not been the central factor, the basic factor of production. It does not play a pivotal role. The basic factor, the pivotal factor is the mind of man -- his intelligence, his talent.
It is man's intelligence that has discovered new dimensions of creating wealth.
It is also important to know that labor is a perishable commodity; it dies soon and readily if it is not used. Unused labor dies every day. If I have not worked today, then my unused labor cannot be preserved in some safe for future use. I will not do the same work ever again that I could have done had I worked today, because labor cannot be saved. It is lost every day; it is perishable. It is not that a worker will escape being exploited if he does not work in a field or factory for all his life. He will die nonetheless, because labor cannot be preserved; it cannot be put in a safe deposit.
Capitalism, for the first time, found ways and means to preserve labor. It made labor, a perishable commodity. preservable in the form of wages in money; that is, capital created out of it. So it is again capitalism that made it possible. If I work this very day and save five rupees of my wages, it is labor made durable. If it had not turned up in the form of five rupees, it would have gone to waste. It is not that my unexpended labor would have remained with me even if I had not worked to earn the wage in money. But it is strange that I say that while I had put in ten rupees worth of labor, I was paid only five. The fact is, that if I had not worked at all, my labor was not worth a single paisa. It is desirable, however, that some day I should be paid ten rupees instead of five that I receive right now. But it does not mean that ten rupees will come after destroying the capitalist mode of production. No, this system has to be retained and progressively developed.
As it is today, the capitalist system is not adequate. And don't think, as many friends have said, that I support the system as it is. The system as it is needs to be tremendously improved and developed. As it is, it is primitive; it is just the abe of capitalism. But the socialist cry is coming very much in the way of its growth, and it will not allow it to grow if it has its way. But if capitalism is allowed to grow it will be quite possible for it to pay the worker ten rupees, even twenty, in the place of today's five. It will be possible to pay even the person who does not work. And if we go through a full technological revolution, which is in the making, it is just likely people demanding work will be paid less and those agreeing to enjoy leisure will be paid more. It will be so because the utility of labor is connected with so many other things.
If tomorrow your town is equipped with every kind of automatic machine, soon tens of thousands of people will be out of employment. But what will you do with the huge wealth that the automatic machines will produce? You will have to give it away in the form of compensation to the unemployed people. But someone among them may say that he cannot sit idle for twenty-four hours, he must have at least two hours' work every day, otherwise he will go crazy. This man will have to be paid less because he wants both:
work and money. And another man who agrees to sit idle and be content with only money, will have to be paid more than the one asking for work.
This can be possible in fifty years' time if capitalist production is fully developed and automatized, and no efforts are made to sabotage it at its various points.
The ways of sabotaging are devious; they are not easily discernible. On the one hand the leaders shout that the country is poor, and production. more production, is the need of the hour, and on the other hand they go on imposing higher taxes on those very people who produce more. This is utterly foolish. If you really mean production of wealth, the pattern of taxation will have to be radically altered. People who produce more should pay less tax and those producing less should be made to pay more tax. The person who produces two hundred thousand rupees worth of goods annually should pay less tax than the one who produces only one hundred thousand rupees worth of goods. Similarly, the producer of five hundred thousand rupees worth of goods should pay less than the one producing two hundred thousand rupees worth of goods. And he should be exempted totally from paying any taxes, who produces, say, a million rupees worth of goods in one year. And if someone produces ten million worth of goods, the government should pay him instead.
Then alone, wealth, abundant wealth, can be created. The key to production is incentive.
If an entrepreneur today earns two hundred thousand rupees in profit, he is made to part with ninety percent of his income by way of taxes. And if another entrepreneur earns, save five hundred thousand, he will have to part with his entire income to pay the taxes.
And in case someone dares to earn a million rupees, he will have to sell his assets to pay the taxes. Under the circumstances the producer thinks -- and thinks rightly -- that it is useless to produce. Thus you are obstructing those who can create wealth and you sing hymns Of praise to that largest group, the idlers who do not produce and earn at all. Can there be a better way of destroying the country than this?
The hymns of praise meant to placate the masses may be pleasant at the moment, but they are going to prove very costly and dangerous.
It is very interesting to note that a great majority of mankind is wholly uncreative. This majority is contented with eating and producing children. It has done nothing else. Only a very small fraction of humanity has engaged itself in creativity and produced great results. Take any field, be it poetry or great painting, production of wealth, science or religion -- only a handful of men and women have attained to peaks of creativity. The tragedy is that it is these very people who are being maligned, thwarted and suppressed.
And it is a very absurd logic at that. On the one hand you say that wealth is urgently needed and on the other you praise those who are without any wealth. Why don't they have limit.
They have been on this earth for millions of years. Their forefathers were here. Have you ever thought why they did not have wealth? They produced children and not wealth -- and it is thus they have always remained poor. It is amazing that creators of wealth are made to feel guilty about it, they are treated as criminals and are going to be put on the cross of the society. Their only crime is that they did not produce children and sit idly by, like the rest of mankind. And their worst crime is that they produced wealth. Now those who did not take part in the production of wealth will take revenge, they will strangle them on the grounds of being exploiters. This is quite strange. This wealth has not come through exploitation; it has been created with great intelligence and hard work. It has been created through the adventure of the mind in many dimensions.
But we give no thought to it and we are determined to destroy those who create wealth and prosperity. This is our strange logic all the way down. This is a dichotomy.
I happened to visit a family-planning center a short time ago. The whole country and its government are engaged in an effort to limit the size of the family with a view to controlling the exploding population of the country. But our logic is upside-down everywhere. If we have to have family planning it is necessary that we think about it in its total perspective. As I said earlier, that if we have to have wealth, the producer should be given full encouragement and incentive to do it, but the contrary is happening -- he is being punished and persecuted. And why should he then produce if he is going to be punished for it? And the people who are not productive will not do it in any case. And those who can produce, will withhold their hands in despair. And consequently the country will suffer and go down the drain. It can never be rich.
When I arrived at the center I saw a lot of propaganda being done about the importance of family planning. I asked the officer in charge of the center if he knew about the rates of income tax for the bachelors and the married couples and couples with children. The officer said that there was no connection whatsoever between taxation and family planning. I then said that in that case there is no connection between intelligence and family planning.
If the government wants to limit the family it should levy heavy taxes on those who produce more children than the prescribed number. But the contrary is happening on this front too. Parents with many children pay much less tax than those with less or no children. And this law works against family planning. If it is to succeed, parents with more children should be made to pay a larger amount of tax than the others with less or no children. A family with three children -- if three be the limit -- should pay much less tax than the family with more than three children. And if a family exceeds the number of five then the schools and hospitals should be asked to charge higher fees for their children's studies and treatment. Then alone will families feel compelled to limit their size.
But, currently, parents with a larger number of children are given higher rebates in income tax. The bachelors pay higher taxes than the married ones. It is utterly foolish.
Bachelors should receive full exemption from taxes, or if they have to be taxed at all the rates should be much lower so that young people abstain from marriage or marry late. On the other hand married people should be taxed heavily so that marriage becomes costly.
And let there be a graduated increase in tax rates with every increase in the number of a family's children Then there will be a system a logic in the management of the state affairs; otherwise the whole thing, as it is, is simply ridiculous. What does it mean that while you cry for limiting the family, you go on rewarding those with unlimited families?
The same chaos prevails in the field of production. And it is so in many dimensions of life that for lack of a clear perspective we just go on drifting. If we want to end poverty then all avenues of production should be opened and every facility and incentive given to those who have the talent to produce. If the country's poverty has to be liquidated, then capital from all over the world should be invited for investment in India. But we think that if people from other countries come here, they would exploit us. As I said, if labor is not used, it just perishes.
So if international capital is allowed to be invested here, it can convert the entire unused labor of this country into solid wealth. But we are afraid that we will be exploited It is a very wrong way of thinking. International capital will not exploit us; on the contrary, it will help us immensely. It will utilize the huge unemployed manpower of this country which is just being wasted everyday like the waters of the Ganges and Narmada -- when you don't use them, they disappear into the ocean. If we fail to utilize our labor energy that is abounding it will disappear into the cosmos and be lost to us forever. Let it be used and transformed into wealth. Then alone it can be preserved.
But we are a strange people. We say that it does not matter if ten rupees worth of labor is wasted, but we will not agree to work for five rupees and be robbed of the other five, as if we have five rupees in cash on us and someone is going to grab it. No it is not so; nobody is robbing you.
The whole concept of exploitation is full of nonsense.
Capitalism is an instrument for converting labor into wealth and if capitalism is allowed to grow unimpeded it call find ways to convert the entire labor of the country into wealth but the socialists say that they will hand over everything -- the means of production and labor -- to the state The irony is that the politicians are, and have always been. the most inefficient and worthless class of people in the world.
There is a reason for this. It is that merit is valued in every walk of human life except in politics. In politics alone merit has no value at all. The person who cannot be employed in a shoe-shop to sell shoes can very well become the education minister of a country -- there is no difficulty in it, because it is not necessary that a minister of education have any educational qualifications. In fact, politics is the refuge, and the only refuge of the misfits and the nincompoops.
A person who has no qualifications whatsoever, is qualified for politics. Politics does not ask for any particular qualifications, specialized knowledge, on the part of those who want to enter its arena. It is a strange profession, which calls for nothing except that you can shout slogans and get some followers behind you. But what will he do by becoming the education minister? Vice-chancellors and academicians will dance in attendance on him and the man will put his thumbprint in place of his signature. It is an outrage on education that it should be directed by one who cannot sign his name. A person who does not know what medical science is becomes the health minister to take care of the country's health.
Politics, which is the haven of the nincompoops, is trying to take over the wealth of the country as well. It says that trade, commerce, industries -- including all means of production -- should be put in the hands of the state, which is another name for the politician. So the politicians will manage and control the economic life of the country. It seems that they are under a vow to ruin the country forever. And they will do it; they will not stop short of it.
My vision is different. It is that the politician can be prevented from ruining the human societies of the world if he is prevented from directly controlling the government and the administration of the state. The elected representatives of the people. of course, should form the parliament, but the parliament or the majority party in parliament will not form the Cabinet or the council of ministers. The majority party should find highly qualified and experienced specialists and experts in different fields of government -- like education, health, finance and the rest -- and form the council of ministers with them. For example, it will be the task of the majority party to find the best educationist for the job of education minister. Similarly it will appoint the best physician as health minister. The right to select the specialist members of the Cabinet will certainly belong to the majority party, but no popular representatives will be appointed as education minister and health minister, or any minister for that matter.
What we have at the moment is mobocracy; it is certainly not democracy. It is all right for the people to choose their representatives for the parliament, but it should be the clearly defined task of the majority party in parliament to find the best men of merit to administer the various divisions and functions of the government. They have to see to it that the selected ministers are fully qualified for their different jobs. Then we will have meritocracy in the place of the mobocracy that we have. Unless democracy is wedded to meritocracy, i will remain a tool in the hands of the ignorant and stupid people. And unless democracy it allied with meritocracy, democracy will continue to be the instrument of man's downfall and degradation; it can never be the instrument of his uplifting and glory.
I am all in favor of the people electing their representatives; it is their right -- but they have no right to make their representative the education minister of the country. The representatives will have this much right: They will search for the best educationist and invite him to shoulder the responsibility of education minister. The Cabinet and the administration of the country should be in the hands of the experts. Meritocracy means the rule of the experts, the specialists, the qualified people; it is the rule of men of merit.
It is the age of specialization -- we have specialists even for small things of life. Those days are gone when you had to go to the village doctor who just checked your pulse and prescribed medicine without asking you if you suffered from headache or bellyache. It happened in pre-specialization days when the village doctor was supposed to know every thing. Things have changed since.~ I have heard that fifty years from now a woman visited the clinic of a doctor and said that she had eye trouble. The doctor took her into his consultation room and enquired which particular eye was giving her trouble. When she pointed to her left eye, the doctor said, "Excuse me, I am a specialist for the right eye. The left-eye specialist lives in the neighboring building."
Even one eye is such a big thing that a single doctor for both eyes will not last long. Even a single eye is a great phenomenon -- much too complex in itself. It needs specialization and its own specialist.
The eye is certainly a complex organ, but the most complex organ is the state, which is in the hands of the most incompetent, the most inexpert and unskilled people. They will continue to ruin the country. And the inexpert want to monopolize everything. They want all power for themselves. Besides political power, they want to monopolize economic power too. They want trade and industries and everything in their hands. Even science and religion are not spared -- they want everything under the sun. They may desire so, but if we allow their desires to be fulfilled, danger is guaranteed.
That is why I place this idea of meritocracy before you. Meritocracy is not opposed to democracy; meritocracy is a concept of working through democracy. And sooner or later, with the growth of understanding, the specialist is going to be significant in the whole world. Maybe, sooner or later, everything will be in the hands of the expert, the knowledgeable.
A friend has sent this comment to me:
AS YOU SAY THAT ONLY THE CAPITALISTS KNOW HOW TO PRODUCE WEALTH, THE brahmins IN THE PAST CLAIMED THAT THEY ALONE COULD PRODUCE KNOWLEDGE. WHERE ARE THOSE brahmins AND THEIR MONOPOLY OF KNOWLEDGE? NOW ANYONE IS CREATING KNOWLEDGE.
IN THE SAME WAY WHEN THE CAPITALISTS WILL HAVE DISAPPEARED, EVERYBODY WILL CREATE WEALTH.
I would say to this friend that he is not aware of what we have said on this matter. We have not been saying that only the brahmin can create knowledge, no; we have been saying that he who creates knowledge is a brahmin. And this is so even today; it is the brahmin who is creating knowledge in the whole world. Einstein is a brahmin, not a businessman. And Bertrand Russell is a brahmin. And so is Marx. All of them are brahmins. If Marx had been born in India he would have been a maharishi -- a great seer - - a long time ago. But what do I mean by a brahmin?
Nobody is a brahmin by birth. It was a grave mistake, all injustice at that, that the concept of brahmin was joined with birth. The concept that there are four types of men on this earth is very significant. It is really a concept of deep insight. The error came in when it was tied with birth. No one is a brahmin by birth, or a tradesman or a warrior by birth.
But there are people for whom the search for knowledge becomes their very breath, their soul. There are people who search for wealth with the same passion and commitment.
Then there are others who seek power like they are seeking their lives. Similarly there are people whose life's central theme is work, labor.
This concept of four types -- the brahmin, the knowledgeable, the kshatriya, the warrior, the vaishya, the tradesman, and the shudra, the workman -- was very meaningful. When it came to be associated with birth it became diseased and distorted. Otherwise it was very different. In its true sense the concept meant that there are only four types of men in the world. And this concept has not gone wrong even today; it will never go wrong.
There are only four types, not more.
There are people who can produce wealth, and they are a few. It is not necessary that the son of a rich man should produce wealth; he may do something else. So an element of liquidity is there in this concept. But some persons are born with the talent to produce wealth, and they make for businessmen. And a few others can produce knowledge. Here is Karl Marx who spent twenty years in the library of the British Museum so that he could write DAS KAPITAL. He used to be so absorbed in his studies that when the library closed each evening, the clerk usually found him Lying unconscious in his chair and had to help him go home. He read so much all through the day that by the evening he fell into a swoon. This man is a brahmin. The fact is that knowledge cannot be created without the brahmin. He who brings knowledge to any part of the world belongs to the category of brahmins. So also, only a few men can create wealth.
And the pursuit of power and politics is different from the pursuit of wealth. If the passion for politics is right and pure, then the pursuit belongs to the category of the warrior. The warrior totally goes in pursuit of power and spends his life in that pursuit.
And the shudra, the worker type, is not going to disappear from the earth. Of course, nobody should be a shudra by birth. Shudra means a type of person who works, eats, procreates and dies. And many people are shudras, workers, and they are found all over the world. They are found in the families of brahmins, warriors and businessman. Shudra is not a derogatory term. Shudra is one who does no more than fulfill the basic needs of nature; he just works, eats, sleeps, produces children and dies. He ends his life living on the plane of an animal .
But we are used to thinking that a person is a brahmin if he is born in the family of a brahmin. The brahmin by birth is no more. And the businessman by birth is not going to last long. But if somebody has talent to produce wealth, his freedom to do it should be secured. Similarly, the worker should be free to work and the priest should be free in his own pursuit.
Socialism is going to come in the way of every pursuit; it is going to control knowledge itself. In Russia today there is a basic restraint on the quest for knowledge. Every kind of knowledge is not allowed to be sought and found. If someone in Russia wants to do research on meditation, it is simply impossible. There is no way to be a sannyasin in today's Russia. The sannyasin is also on a quest, and who can say that this quest may not prove to be the ultimate. When all knowledge has exhausted itself and failed, maybe the quest of the sannyasin is proven right. Because a researcher like Einstein says at the close of his life, that after all his search, he came to a point where he could only say that he knew nothing. The more he searched the more he found that he was ignorant. And the more he searched the more he found that there still remained an infinity to be found. At the end he could say this much: that life is a mystery -- beginningless and endless.
Now this man is a sannyasin; he has reached the very shore of mystery. But in Russia you cannot talk of mystery. The search for God is forbidden; it is considered to be dangerous.
This means that there is no way to be a brahmin in Russia. Even the search for wealth is prohibited.
Only today someone informed me that the Russian government has invited Ford to build a motor factory in their country. Now they invite Ford from America, and they destroyed, in the past fifty years, the possibility for a Ford to be born in Russia itself. Ford could have happened in Russia; it was not necessary to import him from America -- but they had to. Why? What is the matter? Russia, too, had its business class with the acumen to produce wealth. What happened to it? In fifty years' time the socialist government regimented it, suppressed it and ultimately destroyed it. It is in shackles at the moment; it cannot move a finger.
Socialism does not give freedom to any of these four types of people. And that is why I believe that socialism is inhuman. On the other hand capitalism is a humanistic system which gives full freedom to all kinds of people, and in all directions of life, to grow and be themselves. If it is not giving full freedom right now, then efforts should be made that it does. If there are any impediments, they should be removed. But there are people who say, "Why get rid of the disease? Get rid of the diseased himself." They say that there is no use treating the patient, better to kill him. In fact, there are flaws in capitalism, but they can be removed. But the socialists argue that the flaws are so numerous that it is better to finish the system itself. They don't know that the death of capitalism may turn out to be the death knell of man himself.
In this context I would refer to another matter.
Yesterday I called Gandhi a bania, a businessman, and some friends felt hurt about it.
Gandhi was a businessman; he was a businessman in the same sense in which I referred to four types of men a little while ago. Somebody has said that I used a derogatory term to describe him. Some people think that "businessman" is a derogatory term. Even the businessman feels so. But no word is derogatory. Businessman is a fact; he is a type of man. And I say that Gandhi is not a brahmin, not a warrior, nor a worker; his basic personality is that of a businessman. But it is just a statement of fact; there is no condemnation implied in it.
We have become so feeble in our thinking that we understand only the language of praise or condemnation; we do not accept a fact, that there is something like "fact". If I say that so and so is suffering from T.B. he may say that I slandered him. But it is simply a fact that he is suffering from TB. -- there is no condemnation involved in it. I called Gandhi a businessman just because he is a businessman. I did not mean to condemn him in the slightest. His whole personality was such. But the friend wants me to give a few more illustrations.
A thousand illustrations can be given, but I will mention only a few. Mahavir Tyagi has mentioned an incident in his book of memoirs. One day Gandhi visited his town and addressed a largely attended public meeting in the evening. At the end of the meeting he asked for donations from the audience. Many people gave money; women gave away their ornaments, like earrings, bracelets and anklets. Gandhi accepted them and piled them on the podium. Before he left the meeting he asked Mahavir Tyagi to carry the donations to his residence.
Tyagi arrived at Gandhi's place at about midnight. He thought that Gandhi had gone to bed; he also thought that he himself could have waited until the next morning before he saw him. But he had no idea of the mind of a businessman -- he never goes to bed before finalizing his accounts. And so he was surprised to see that the old man was wide awake at that hour of the night.
As soon as Tyagi arrived Gandhi enquired if he had brought everything from the meeting place, and immediately he opened the bag and examined it. He found one earring missing. "No woman will give only one earring; she will donate the pair. So go back to the meeting place and find the other," he said to Tyagi. A tired Mahavir Tyagi returned to the meeting place at one in the morning and found the missing earring with the help of a gaslight. When he returned to Gandhi's place he again thought that he had gone to bed, but no, he again found the old man awake. When he received the earring he was satisfied and said to Tyagi, "Now you can go; the account is okay."
I did not say anything derogatory about Gandhi. This is also a kind of mind; there is nothing of condemnation about it. And if we had rightly understood the personality of Gandhi, it would have made a great difference in the life of India. Because if the leadership of this country was in the hands of a businessman, the danger was inevitable.
It was really the job of a warrior which Gandhi, a businessman, undertook to do. Bhagat Singh would have done it well; Subhas Bose would have done it still better. But it could not happen that way. And Gandhi did what his type was capable of doing. The country was partitioned and it was a mutilated and lifeless independence that we had, because the businessman is always for compromise; he cannot afford to be an extremist. He says, "Let us settle on the basis of fifty-fifty." India's partition was the result of Gandhi's leadership. Because the mind of a businessman does not like fight, he chooses compromise instead. He believes in settlement on the basis of give-and-take. He avoids conflict and confrontation. Whether Gandhi said so in explicit terms is not the question. It was the mind of a businessman that the country acquired from the leadership of Gandhi.
This is precisely the reason why Gandhi found accord with the British, because they also are a community of businessmen. The British could not have found this accord with anyone else. It was impossible to have accord with Bhagat Singh or Subhas Bose. They had accord with Gandhi because their mental type was the same. The British were essentially businessmen, who by mistake became rulers of a country and wielded power.
And the person who confronted them was, to their good luck, also a businessman. It is surprising to see that the British government provided every security to Gandhi, something no government on earth had ever done to their enemy. We could not save Gandhi's life after the British left India, but he was alive as long as they were here. It is such an interesting episode of history.
The British gave full protection to Gandhi because it became clear to them that sooner or later he would prove useful to them, and so they should be on good terms with him.
others in his place would have been difficult to deal with. There was a sort of inner communion between him and the British rulers of India. This relationship was bound to happen, because it was so natural -- they belonged to the same category as far as their mental makeup was concerned. They could understand each other, and so a rapport was established between them.
That is why India could not win her independence; it was given as a gift, and such an independence is worse than slavery. Independence is wrested, it is achieved, it is not had by begging. Independence is not had through negotiations and compromises; it is always wrested from unwilling hands. And the freedom that is wrested is alive and dynamic; it has a verve and vitality of its own. And one that is granted and received as a gift is as good as a corpse. It was a lackluster independence that came to India in 1947; it missed the glory and grandeur that comes with it. And it came with all the ugly consequences that independence coming as a gift brings with it.
Gandhi never tired of preaching non-violence, because a businessman cannot afford violence. Have you cared to note that the Jain teerthankara Mahavira is a kshatriya, a warrior, but the community that gathered around him is entirely a trading community.
Mahavira is a warrior, and the twenty-four teerthankaras of the Jains are warriors, but not one Jain is a warrior -- all the Jains are businessmen. What is the matter? There is no other reason than the fact that non-violence made a deep appeal to the merchant community. Mahavira's non-violence made a great impact on the minds of the shopkeepers. Similarly, the businessman's mind in India found itself in accord with Gandhi's non-violence. It said that Gandhi was right: if we are not going to be violent with others, others will not be violent with us. It was because of Gandhi's leadership that non-violence became the basis of a movement for independence. India had to go through tremendous misfortunes because of the non-violent character of its movement for independence.
It was a great misfortune that Gandhi did not allow the hatred and violence that naturally surged in India's mind against the British to express itself. He suppressed it. Whenever a little violence showed itself, the businessman in Gandhi panicked and retreated, as if he thought aloud that shopkeepers could not afford violence, they were all for compromise.
He always retraced his steps.
I remember a story; it is perhaps one of the folk tales of Rajasthan. The story says that there was a warrior, a kshatriya in a village, who was very proud of his mustache; it symbolized his brawn. He sat all through the day in front of his house twisting the ends of his mustache upwards. He had it announced in the village that nobody could pass his house twisting the ends of his mustache upwards.
One day a businessman, who had newly settled in the village and who sported a mustache, happened to pass the house of the warrior while twisting the ends of his mustache upwards. The warrior stopped him and said, "Listen, businessman, stop twisting the ends of your mustache upwards." The businessman said, "Who are you to order me about?" The warrior stood up and handed the businessman a sword saying, "Then take this sword and let us settle the matter once and for all."
The businessman was flabbergasted, he had not imagined that things would come to such a head. He said, "Okay. But before we fight a duel let us do one thing that is necessary. In case I die, my wife and children will suffer. And if you die your wife will be widowed and your children will have to beg. It will be better if both of us go back to our houses and finish with our dependents. And then we will settle our score."
The warrior readily agreed. If he had been intelligent, he would not have made an issue of his mustache. The businessman went home, and so did the warrior. The warrior killed his wife and children and returned to his seat, twisting his mustache. When the businessman came back, he had no mustache at all; he had shaved it. And he said, "I thought there was no point in fighting to death for nothing, and I shaved my mustache!"
This is a type of mind; there is nothing derogatory about it. This is just to say that the warrior is like this and the businessman is like that. It is not a condemnation.
Whenever Gandhi was in difficulties, whether it was the Chaurichaura incident or something else that turned violent, he at once beat a retreat. He thought it was better that he shaved his mustache. Why fight? The result was that the hatred and violence of the Indian people against the British, which was simply natural, was repressed. And because of this repression, the two major communities of India -- the Hindus and the Mohammedans -- fought with each other, and bloody riots took place throughout the country. If India had fought the British openly -- with swords -- the Hindus and Mohammedans would not have fought among themselves. As we could not fight the British, the repressed hatred, the unspent violence, had to find an outlet somewhere.
Where could it go? And it found an outlet in the Hindu-Mohammedan riots, in violent infighting.
It is generally believed that Gandhi tried his best to prevent the infighting between Hindus and Mohammedans. But I say that he was responsible for the whole tragedy. You can understand this easily if you are familiar with the findings of modern psychology.
The feeling of hatred and violence against the alien rulers was so powerful -- and very natural at that -- that it could have set fire to the British regime and thrown it out of India.
Such a tremendous energy was suppressed, and it had to find other ways to express itself.
It could not have done otherwise.
For example, there is a petty clerk working in some office. One day his boss berates him He is so hurt that he feels like strangling his boss, but he simply cannot do it; it is unthinkable. So he suppresses his anger and puts a false smile on his face and goes about wagging his tail before the boss as usual.
Then the clerk leaves for home in the evening. Watch his bicycle; he is pedaling it with great force. Why? He is just giving vent to his repressed anger against the boss. He would have beaten him with his shoes, but he could not. Now it is as if he is beating the pedal with the same shoes. And he drives fast. Now his wife should know that the lord and husband is coming home after he had some trouble with his boss. But she does not know a thing. She is fondly expecting her husband home. The husband too is not aware of what he is going to do after reaching home. But you can know that he is now going to strangle his wife in the place of his boss. He will find a thousand and one excuses to punish her -- the bread for his dinner was burned, the bed was not made, and so on and so forth. And he takes her to task, he thrashes her. In reality he had to thrash the boss, but he dared not.
So the anger deviates and makes the wife its target.
Hatred is stored in his mind; it is bursting. If you close the drainage of your house, then filth will be all over the place. As a house needs a drainage, so also our violence needs a let-go. And if it is not allowed a right outlet, it will find a wrong one. And the violence expressed the wrong way will do you more harm than one expressed the right way. It proved to be so.
But the wife is also helpless; she cannot beat the husband in retaliation. Up to now the wife has not gathered that much courage... but she should. Husbands themselves have taught the wives that husbands are their gods. Now it is dangerous to beat a god, although the wife has her doubts too. What kind of a god is he that beats his wife without reason?
But she has to believe what she had been taught to believe.
So the wife of the clerk, in her turn, waits for her son to return from the school. These are all unconscious deviations. The son is returning from school; he is not aware of what has happened between his father and mother. He comes home singing a film song. The mother immediately grabs him by the neck saying, "What a dirty song it is!" It was this very song he sang while returning home the previous evening and the evening before that. And the mother herself sang it, his father too. Their forefathers had done the same -- there is nothing new about this song -- but today the mother is about to strangle him on the grounds that he sang an indecent song.
Now what should the son do? Should he hit his mother back? But the world has not become that civilized yet. So he goes inside his room, picks up his doll and tears it to pieces.
The mind has its own energy. Gandhi caused deviations in the way of India's natural energy by thwarting it, suppressing it. If India's violence had been directed against the British -- which was its natural course -- a splendored country could have emerged out of that clean fight. Then India would not have been divided into two parts; it would have remained one and whole. A direct fight with the British power would have disciplined us as a people, given an edge and sharpness to our energy and a dignity and grandeur of our own. A straight and clean fight with the alien rulers would have filled us with hope and confidence, verve and vitality; it would have made our life lively, juicy and beautiful. But that could not happen.
But we had to use the sword nonetheless, and we used it against our own people. This is how the Hindus and Mohammedans clashed, and clashed like savages. And who is responsible for the massive violence that blasted this country after it became independent on August 15, 1947?
People are dishonest who say that the British government engineered the communal riots and infighting. Some people say that Mr. Jinnah was responsible for it. Others say other things. No, this is wrong. None of them, neither Jinnah nor the British were behind the holocaust. The real reason was that a volcano of hate and violence was smoldering in India's mind, but it had no outlet. So when India was partitioned, the suppressed volcano found an opportunity and it erupted. The pain of hundreds of years of slavery found an outlet. The country was partitioned and a million people were killed. At the price of a million lives we would have wrested our freedom from the British a long time before. If one fine morning a million people had only shown readiness to die for their country's freedom, the British government would have left the very next morning. But it could not be.
When I say that Gandhi was a businessman, I say it after due consideration. And I do not mean to slander him in the least. And it will stand you in good stead if you take him to be what he is -- a businessman. Then you will be careful in relating with him in the future. If this country has anything to do with the shopkeeper's mind, then it will never have that dynamism, that elan vital, without which we would be as good as a dead people.
The tradesman has his usefulness. He has a place in the society, and he is valuable.
Similarly the warrior has a place in the society, and he is useful and valuable. The priest is equally useful and valuable. And the laborer also. They all have their distinctive usefulness and value. And in the humanist sense no one is more or less valuable than the other.
But it should be clearly understood that socialism is going to wipe out these distinctive types altogether, because it does not accept them. It says that all men are the same -- but all men are not the same.
A friend has a question, and a few other friends have put the same question with some variations. They want to know on what authority I say that Gandhi was opposed to railways, telegraphs and airplanes. They also say that I am wrong to say so.
I wonder if you read anything at all.
If you only read Gandhi's hind swaraj you will see that Gandhi denounced modern machines and technology a thousand times more than what I have mentioned here. But the book hind swaraj was written way back in 1905, and someone may say that it is not right to judge a person who died in 1948 from his writings of 1905. I will agree with him.
But in this context there is a letter of Gandhi's which he wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru in telegraphs as he had written in his book hind swaraj. Gandhi wrote back to Nehru -- and this in 1945 -- that he stood by every word he had written in hind swaraj. It appears that the questioners don't read a thing. They have said that I am not aware of facts. But the truth is that Gandhi himself was not a well-read man, and his followers are still less so. In my understanding, Gandhi is the least-read man among the great men of this century. He was unaware of all the great findings of the present times. He knew nothing about Freud and Jung. And what he talked about celibacy was three thousand years old and now out- of-date. He had no knowledge of the studies done on birth control. He read Marx in jail in
He, of course, read the GITA and the RAMAYANA, but the GITA and the RAMAYANA are the textbooks for the ignorant villagers, not for the knowledgeable.
Gandhi read poorly and thought poorly, and his followers, it seems, do not even read their leader's writings.
A last word. Another friend has said that I did not illustrate my point when I said that there was contradiction in Gandhi's professions and his practice.
I would like to give a few examples.
Gandhi preached non-violence throughout his life, but his own personality was violent, utterly violent. He never tired of talking of non-violence. You may ask how I say it. We need to understand this thing carefully.
If I point a knife at your chest and say that I w ill kill you if you don't accept what I say, then you will say that I am a violent person. Now just reverse the process. Instead of pointing the knife at you, I point it at myself and say that I will kill myself if you don't accept what I say. Do I now become a non-violent person? Does one become non-violent by just turning the direction of the knife, or changing its target?
All his life Gandhi used this threat, this coercion that he would kill himself if his point of view was not accepted. This is coercion, this is violence. Gandhi coerced Dr. Ambedkar through fasting. He could not bring about one change of heart, though he resorted to any number of fasts and fasts-unto-death. Not one heart was changed, although he always talked of"change of heart" as the object of his fasts. Ambedkar just gave in under duress and accepted Gandhi's demands. Later on Ambedkar said that Gandhi should not be under the illusion that he changed his heart. He still believed that he was right and Gandhi was wrong, but he submitted because he realized that it would be too much if Gandhi lost his life for his demand. His heart was not at all changed; he relented because of Gandhi's coercion. Gandhi used this kind of coercion all along.
Whether you threaten to kill yourself or kill others, it is all the same and it is violence.
Both kinds of threats are violent. But we fail to observe it, and we think that the threat to kill oneself is non-violent. Truth is otherwise; it is subtle violence. It is not non-violence.
Non-violence is very different. Non-violence means that there should be no threat, no coercion whatsoever, to kill oneself or others. Ask the people who were associated with Gandhi. Ask his own sons. Ask Haridas Gandhi if his father was non-violent. If so, then why did he become a Mohammedan? If Gandhi was non-violent, why did his son take to drinking and meat-eating? If Gandhi was non-violent, why did he have to fight his father all his life?
It was because Gandhi's non-violence was so sadistic, so torturous that he tortured his own sons. Haridas left home and ran away for fear of his father, that he would destroy him. Haridas did not know that the person who could not be a right father to his own son was going to become the father of a whole nation.
Really, it is easy to become the father of a nation; it is much more difficult to be a right father of a single son. Being the nation's father you are really nobody's father. Ask Haridas and you will know whether Gandhi's personality was violent or non-violent. Ask Kasturba, his wife, about it. A lot is being written about the married life of Gandhi and Kasturba and it is trumpeted that they made a very ideal couple. It is sheer tall-talk; but in talking tall we are a matchless people.
In reality the married life of Gandhi was ridden with constant conflict and strife, but we claim that it was the ideal of ideals. Ask Kasturba; look at their whole life.But we don't see at all; we are so skilled in shouting and slogan-mongering that we don't need seeing.
Whenever they had a guest in their house in South Africa, Gandhi always asked Kasturba to clean the guest's latrine. Once Gandhi saw that Kasturba was weeping while coming down the stairs with the guest's chamber pot in her hands. He took her to task saying, "Don't cry. Service should be rendered with a smile on your lips." The poor woman is being forced to clean the latrine of others; she is not doing it for service. She is just in the trap of her husband who, in his turn, is in the trap of a set of principles. So he coerces his wife to clean latrines with a smile. Many times he took Kasturba by her wrist and threw her out of the house at midnight, on the grounds that she did not follow his principles.
This man is not non-violent; he is utterly violent. But he swears by non-violence; it is his ideal. And it is on account of his ideal of non-violence that it becomes so difficult to understand his personality.
Life is a very complex affair; it is not that simple. So when I say something don't jump to a conclusion about it. Whatever I say is well-considered; I have given thought to it.
But Gandhi's devotees think that they are protecting him by questioning me. They are mistaken to think so. The more questions they ask, the more vulnerable they make him to beatings. There is no place in my mind for Gandhi. I consider him to be an utterly diseased personality, so don't get him beaten unnecessarily. It is not necessary to drag him in the midst of our present discussions. Right now I am speaking on the question of socialism and capitalism, and you bring him in for a beating. It is absolutely uncalled for.
I am grateful to you for having listened to me so silently, with love. And at the end I bow down to the God enshrined in the heart of each one of you. Please accept my salutations.