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Trusteeship, the nature of man, and utopia
Sorry for boring some of you who are very knowledgeable, but I thought
that Gandhi is turning out to be quite a find! He knows the reality, but
spends his life appealing for a utopia! Why do we have these
good-intentioned utopians everywhere?
This is from:
Gandhi and modern economics:
In Harijan, 3-6-1939, Gandhi said, "I have no hesitation in endorsing the
proposition that generally rich men and for that matter most men are not
particular as to the way they make money."
"We do not want to produce a dead equality where every person becomes or
is rendered incapable of using his ability to the utmost possible extent.
Such a society must ultimately perish."
These are the same as the usual assumptions of economics:
* people prefer more of a good thing to less (local non-satiation)
* people can cheat if incentives and opportunities exist (opportunism)
Gandhi the utopian:
Unlike Marx whose utopia is rather drastic and totalitarian, Gandhi's
utopia is somewhat 'tame' and hence more attractive.
"In the application of the method of non-violence, one must believe in the
possibility of every person, however depraved, being reformed under humane
and skilled treatment. We must appeal to the good in human beings and
expect response. Is it not conducive to the well-being of society that
every member uses all his talents, only not for personal aggrandizement
but for the good of all?"
"Trusteeship provides a means of transforming the present capitalist order
of society into an egalitarian one. It gives no quarter to capitalism, but
gives the present owing class a chance of reforming itself. It is based on
the faith that human nature is never beyond redemption.
"It does not recognize any right of private ownership of property except
so far as it may be permitted by society for its own welfare.
"It does not exclude legislative regulation of the ownership and use of
"Thus under State-regulated trusteeship, an individual will not be free to
hold or use his wealth for selfish satisfaction or in disregard of the
interests of society.
"Just as it is proposed to fix a decent minimum living wage, even so a
limit should be fixed for the maximum income that would be allowed to any
person in society. The difference between such minimum and maximum incomes
should be reasonable and equitable and variable from time to time so much
so that the tendency would be towards obliteration of the difference.
"Under the Gandhian economic order the character of production will be
determined by social necessity and not by personal whim or greed.
Now you see the seed of the commonality between Romesh Diwan's view of
Swadeshi, and Marx's view. No property rights. Decent minimum wage. Upper
limit for incomes. Production determined by "social necessity."
This is utterly impossible! Complete turnabout from the principles
enunciated by Thoreau, Gandhi's guru. It turns out that Gandhi was a
utopian. Recognizing very clearly the nature of the human being was not
sufficient. The human being had to be 'improved.'
That is impossible! All we can do is to study the actual human being and
to channelize his/ her energies into socially productive tasks. All these
utopias are a completely unscientific and un-implementable. Let us abandon
these ideas forthwith.
America was based on the concepts of Jefferson and Madison. It succeeded
wonderfully. India's ideas were based on Marx and Gandhi. We failed
miserably. Let us move back to classic liberalism. Did anyone notice:
there is no classic liberal political party in India today? What a shame!
Are there no scientific thinkers in the whole of India today?
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PUBLIC: Re: Trusteeship, the nature of man, and utopia Dear SS (if you will allow me to address you so!) I have been following the IP discussions for a short while and your EM below interested me. It seems that you allow a liberal fallacy space in your mind when you attribute the advances of the US system to liberalism, because liberalism can only work where there is a minimum moral framework. In the case of the USA, this has been provided largely by Protestantism (though assisted, of course by Judaism and Catholicism). The reason I attribute Protestantism a larger role is first for historical reasons (with which you are well acquainted, I imagine) but secondly and mainly because Protestantism has continued to provide a moral framework through the atomisation of social structures which is an inevitable result of industrialisation and modernisation (Judaism and Catholicism have been able to sustain such influence largely where their social structures have remained intact). As social structures in India disintegrate with the impact of modernisation and industrialisation, we have no body providing a moral framework any more, and the result is the corruption we all deplore. The "return" to a new-fangled Hinduism invented by the BJP and its allies will not do, because their theologies offer no rational basis for morality. Nor do our traditional theologies. But I come to a more basic point: MOST systems can be made to work, at least after a fashion, where the majority of people are honest, hard-working, and have some sense of their responsibilities to others and to the overall society (or country or State or World). EVERY system will break down where such a moral sense is absent. It could be argued that the present system in the US is breaking down because the US has become morally a two-tier society, with "grass-roots" mentality still shaped by Protestantism, but the "commanding heights of the society" now shaped by no sense of morality at all, except the values of money, personal greed/comfort and power. I do not find that any of the discussions in IP have addressed this basic problem thus far. Prabhu (is fine to call me) Professor Prabhu Guptara Director, Organisational and Executive Development Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre (a subsidiary of UBS AG) CH-8272 Ermatingen Switzerland Tel: + 41.71.663.5605 Fax: +41.71.663.5590 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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