Dr Sudhir Narayan Singh
English & Communication Skills
The Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences,
Birla Colony, Bhiwani.
Gandhi & Marx: An Ethico–Philosophical Study
Author: Dr Kedar Nath Singh(1933- )
M.A., Ph. D. in Philosophy, Patna University
( Dr Kedar Nath Singh obtained his Master Degree in Philosophy from the Patna University in 1954 and later in 1969 was awarded Ph. D. Degree from the same University. Dr Singh Joined in the Philosophy Department, A. N. S. College Barh and also worked as Head, Philosophy Department in the same organization. )
This book is an academic venture of the author with a vision to offer a comparative study of the ethical ideas and practices of Marx and Gandhi in a scientific and analytical manner dealing two paradoxically varied and most influential thinkers of the 19th and early 20th century who made their presence felt throughout the globe. It finally has to deliver the two opposite ideologies ie.: (Gandhi’s Spiritualism + Theism + Social Activism + Truth & Non-violence) and on the other hand (Marx’s Materialism + Atheism + Socialism + Rationalist Approach to uproot the bourgeoisie at any cost may the mean be violence) in a dovetailed shape which may pave the new and innovative pathways to the humanity provided they are given the opportunity to showcase the inherent potential.
The layout of the book is divided into eleven chapters beginning with the Historical Background for Gandhi’s Spiritualism and Marx’s Materialism. Then progressing towards Metaphysical Basis of Ethical Thoughts of Gandhi and Marx. Further the book discusses Epistemological Views of Gandhi and Marx. The author also dedicates a complete chapter on Gandhi and Marx on Religion and another on its Place in Human Life and also a whole chapter on Morality. He also discusses The Status of the Human Individual and later on The Ideal of Human Life and on The Realization of the Ideal. The Problem of Means and End are also narrated by the author. The Problem of the Freedom of the Will and finally comes the conclusion summing up his own views, discussions, observations and inferential remarks.
When it comes to the acceptance and adaptation of Marxist ideology, most of the modern theories viz. Feminism, Black and African-American theories and Dalit discourse depend heavily for their origin to the Marxist ideology as their foundation stones. Although Gandhi did not approve of everything that happened in Marxian Russia, he did approve of something that happened there. Gandhi very much liked the growth of people’s power in Russia for on one occasion he said, “Although Russia has used a lot of brute force, the power vests in the people.
A critical and comparative study of the ethical ideas of spiritual Gandhi and non-spiritual Marx is the demand of the present day world. To Marx ‘religion works as opium’ and it does everything to mislead human society. To author the Marxian rejection of religion does not seem to be justified jurisprudential inference. Simply because a man’s interests are social, it does not follow that he should cut himself off from the spiritual world. This is what has been emphasized by Gandhi. Spiritual concern and social outlook are complementary to each other. In fact, as S. Radhakrishnan says, “to ignore the spiritual is to restrict one’s capacity for social work.” The greatest similarity of them is this that both of them fight for the weak and downtrodden and both of them coined the same cause and sacrificed their lives for helping coining the cause of the last man of the last row whose voice is choked at the margin itself. But the real differences lie in the selection of the tool and adaptations of means to achieve the very end and realize the goal. Gandhi chose ‘Peace’, ‘Truth’ and ‘Non-violence’ to meet his ends whereas Marx did not refrain in opting violence for the achievement of his objectives by dividing human society in two distinct social groups namely ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘proletariat’. He also pioneered the most pivotal slogan which became immortal by virtue of its inherent power to empower the powerless:
“Labourers of the world, Arise!, Awake!, and Unite! You have nothing to loose except the chains and bondages of the traditions.”
This slogan was manipulated, exploited and utilized with various modified versions by so many social revolutionaries, reformers, freedom fighters and pioneers of the new theories of the forthcoming generations in the years to come. The most significant borrowers from Marxist ideologies were feminists, black thinkers, Dalits and other theorists who wished to empower the week and the downtrodden who were to be considered more or less same as ‘proletariat’. The authentication of the Marxist theories and its inherent future fertile foundation had the potential to offer opulence to the humanity. Here, it would be needless to mention that the most of the modern theories either depend directly or borrowed heavily from the pioneering thoughts of Marx. Once Gandhi himself remarked on Marx:
His (Marx’s) diagnosis of the economic malaise may be correct or not, but there is no denying the fact that he thought of doing something for the exploited poor.
Gandhi as a practical idealist never preached anything that he himself has not practised whereas Marx’s communism is nothing else but humanism. Towards its end the book focusses on the urgency of connecting morality with rationality as the need of hour with the hope that “if reason is allowed to work as the ultimate arbiter of morality, it will prepare the ground for the spiritual harmony of entire mankind” and finally it ends with the recommendations that the readers should opt the Gandhian ethics rather than the Marxian ethics as the author feels that the Marxist morality is entirely subordinated to the class-struggle of the proletariat. Needless to assert that the target audience of the book are the legitimate and jurisprudential lovers of ethical values; social activists, practitioners, philanthropists, humanists and those who have inborn natural inclination towards philosophy and last but not the least the spiritual seekers.
Singh, Kedar Nath. Ghandhi & Marx: An Ethico – Philosophical Study, Ed.1st, Associated Book Agency, Patna, India 1979. (U.S. $ 9.50), Nature: A Research Based Book, Hard Bind (pages-176)