What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism

What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism 

While articulating Gandhi’s views on socialism and communism, it is important to point out that Gandhi criticised them at the levels of both as a political philosophy as well as an economic strategy to reorder the economic contours of a society. What Gandhi found appreciable in socialism and communism was their concern for the masses in terms of making provisions for fulfillment of the basic needs of the people. But beyond that, Gandhi happens to be a staunch critic of socialism and communism. 

An ideology is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially those held for reasons that are not purely epistemic,  in which "practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones." Formerly applied primarily to economic, political, or religious theories and policies, in a tradition going back to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, more recent use the term as mainly condemnatory.

The term was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy, a French Enlightenment aristocrat and philosopher, who conceived it in 1796 as the "science of ideas" to develop a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational impulses of the mob. In political science, the term is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems.

 What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism

That is why, despite having declared Nehru as his political heir, he quite often entered into fierce debate with Nehru on the merits of socialism as an appropriate ideology to pattern the future course of activities of the country on the same. Indeed, most, if not all, of the major socio-economic, political, religious and moral formulations of socialism and communism appeared antithetical to the ideological orientations of Gandhi. Given the basis of Gandhi’s socio-economic, political and religious ideas in the moral emancipation of the masses, it was quite natural that they ran counter to the formulations of socialism and communism as they seek to ensure socioeconomic emancipation of the people. For instance, while the notion of equality of Gandhi was apparently the provision of equal ethical and moral independence to all in order to secure the development of their soul and spirit, it was the primary concern of the socialism and communism to afford economic and material equality to all in such a way that the basic needs of each individual in society could be fulfilled.

As such, a collectivist conceptualisation of the individual and his or her role in society would have been unacceptable to Gandhi; it was thus natural that Gandhi emerged as one of the staunchest critics of the theory and practice of socialism and communism in various parts of the world.

  What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism - As a political philosophy, socialism and communism earned the critique of Gandhi right from their conceptualisation of the nature of men to their ideal of establishing a classless and stateless society. Gandhi criticised them, like his critique of liberalism, for devaluing the basic essence of human personality by taking it as essentially selfish and driven by motivated pursuits for material gains in society. In a way, Gandhi discredited the entire philosophy of historical materialism of socialism as it was thought to draw its sustenance from a fallacious notion of human beings. Conceptually, socialism and communism sought to explain the evolution of human civilisation over the centuries with the formulation of historical materialism. These philosophies apparently tried to establish that the basic pursuits of each and every human being in society are to gain material resources and physical comforts. However, the departure of human life from the state of nature to that of man-made system led to the creation of two distinct classes in society: the haves and have nots.

Moreover, in accordance with the changing nature of relations between the haves and have nots, the nature of socioeconomic relations also underwent subtle transformations as well, whose latest incarnation could be seen in the form of the capitalism. The underlying argument of this classic Marxist formulation was that human nature was inherently materialistic and selfish which led to the perpetuation of the exploitation of one class of people at the hands of other. But given the moralist and religious overtones of Gandhian thought, it would have been obvious that Gandhi would have rejected such a description of human nature. He argued that taking human being as fundamentally selfish and materialist was a patently wrong preposition that would have produced equally wrong conclusions.

Therefore, in place of Marxist characterisation of human being as selfish and materialist, Gandhi argued for the selfless and spiritual nature of human personality. He firmly believed that human beings inherently carried a positive orientation rooted in his or her spiritual outlook to life as a result of which material considerations had only limited role to play in determining the course of the human life. Thus, to seek plausible and lasting solutions to the difficulties being faced by the human beings in present times, it was important that the positive moralist and spiritual instincts of human personality needed to be invoked.



Some significant aspects of socialist life that came on the radar of Gandhi’s critical examination appeared to be the politics and religion. To Gandhi, politics was not a means of appropriating power and wielding authority over the other unwilling mass of people. To him, politics was an instrument of mass mobilisation, service, concern, participation and moral regeneration of the moribund majority of people. Moreover, it would give the people an option to branch out of their stipulated economic and materialistic life as was found in the socialist countries.

At the same time, it ingrained in the people a sense of self-respect, dignity and value for the noble principles of equality, justice, fraternity etc. But, by negating the importance of politics in society, the socialist societies do great injustice to their people. They not only made them a subservient group of atomistic entities, but also their sense of perceiving the moral goodness or just and unjust in social relations got blunted as a result of which there did not exist any critique of the wrongdoings of the rulers. Moreover, the positive energies of the society remained unutilised for the purposes of moral and spiritual regeneration of the people.



Another point of discord between Gandhi and socialists existed on the issue of place of religion in society. While Gandhi took religion as the basic force to ingrain the sense of morality, spirituality and self-regulation for the people in society, the socialists labelled religion as the opium of the masses on the ground that it intoxicated them to be blind to the exploitation and oppressions perpetrated on them by the forces of capitalism and other vested interests of society. Therefore, in almost all the socialist countries, the public practice and propagation of religion and religious sermons were prohibited in order to dissuade the people to be religious and spiritual.

Gandhi asked for free and voluntary invocation of religious and moralistic teaching and preaching in society so that human beings could attain spiritual salvation through self-regulation and service and care for other distressed and miserable people in their neighbourhood.

What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism

Mahatma Gandhi's View on Communism and Socialism!

Gandhi was additionally never for communism propounded by Nehru, which accentuated for enormous scope creation. This gigantic creation, Gandhi dreaded, would prompt more noteworthy double-dealing and urbanization. This accentuation on decentralization charmed Gandhi to Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, and not to industrialists. As indicated by Gandhi, for a genuine Swaraj to be laid out, it isn't so much that that one class rule be subbed by the other. It is considerably more than that.

The towns must be fortified. He further accepted that is a lot more straightforward to change a foundation than a man. However Gandhi had extraordinary confidence in establishments and their working, he had more prominent confidence in the perfectibility of the person. Gandhi unequivocally accepted that Western communism and socialism had major areas of strength for an of self-centeredness.

What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism

Taking everything into account, however he appreci¬ated its capacity to arrange masses, he was disheartened that it prompts the establish¬ment of fascism. For a Gandhian, an option in contrast to socialism is to lay out a general public wherein the instruments of creation are basic and that the everyday person could play them in the towns.

In such a general public, there would be no grouping of financial power, thus state would wilt away and the Marxian dream wouldn't be satisfied. Notwithstanding, scholars like M. N. Roy unequivocally reprimanded the thoughts communicated by Gandhi and expressed that he lamented that Gandhi showed his laborers not to view their bosses as exploiters but rather trust them as their senior siblings and that property managers were glad that Gandhi viewed them as legal administrators of the interests of the workers.

He condemned Gandhi for his frail and watery reformism. Gandhi was additionally condemned for not having an ever-evolving financial philosophy that could give him a legitimate lead to the majority. In short. Socialists countered any movement attempted by Gandhi inferable from their reservations against the financial and social way of thinking of Gandhi. This antago¬nism was reflected in their disavowal to help Gandhi's Stopped India development. Regardless of their analysis of Gandhian way of thinking.

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What is ideology? Explain Gandhi’s critique of socialism and communism

Socialists had incredible sees for Gandhi as an extraordinary humanist. Remarking on Gandhi's optimism E. M. S. Namboodiripad in one of his books. The Mahatma and The Ism, expressed that virtues like truth, peacefulness, renunciation of the joys of life, political goals like opportunity, a majority rules system, emancipa¬tion of ladies, solidarity of every single strict gathering and networks, and so on, were trouble indissoluble pieces of his life and lessons. However, tragically, Gandhi viewed the specialists and laborers as siblings and accomplices of the classes that abused them.


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