Gandhi: A Man and His Beliefs
Gandhi. What do people think of when they hear the name? The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas describes Mahatma Gandhi as a leader, speaker, peace activist, lawyer and teacher.
Gandhi has impacted millions of people. Gandhi’s influence extends through generations to help make the world what it is today. Not all leaders and activists share Gandhi’s beliefs. One author in particular, Karl Marx, displays opposing beliefs. Although Gandhi was openly anti-communist the two, Gandhi and Marx, may have agreed upon a few points.
Leaders want the best for their people and/or groups. Gandhi and Marx had contrasting opinions on how to make a difference. One goal both share is change. Main points Gandhi and Marx would debate on include the topics of: violence, political control, freedom, finances, government power, and uniting individuals. Peaceful protests and revolutions are highly encouraged by Gandhi. Through peace and love nations can be changed and lives improved.
Sometimes fighting is necessary, but not without evaluating the situation. If an individual’s life is in danger violence may be required. Gandhi said, “I do believe that where there is a choice only between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence” .Gandhi went on to say, “Love is a skill. Forgiveness is a skill. The transformation of anger is a skill.
All these can be learned. We cannot say we aren’t capable nonviolence; all we can say is we are not willing to do what is necessary to learn” . Both authors encouraged change for the betterment of the people they supported. The main difference in the beliefs revolves around violence. Karl Marx claims the middle class needs to be angry and fight the powerful upper class. Marx encourages a “violent overthrow ” of the bourgeoisie.
Communists are willing to remove anyone from power by whatever means necessary. Gandhi has specific conditions for a successful strike: Never resort to violence; Never to molest (non-strikers); Never to depend upon alms; To remain firm no matter how long the strike continues, and to earn bread during strike with honest labor .Either method can be used to achieve results, but Gandhi’s allows many lives to be spared in the process. When the British government tried to control Gandhi he made a statement saying, “…I declared that the British could not order me around in my own country” . Gandhi became very skilled with tracking and controlling funds during his time in London. This was helpful when he became a part of groups that handled large amounts of money, like the Indian National Congress.
Communists believe that money is unnecessary and the state should control the nations industries and production. Marx believes everyone has equal rights if the state of proletarians, as a whole, share control of industry and wealth. Satyagrahis, followers of Gandhi, want to be truly happy. Different goals are made in order to achieve said happiness. In a way, both sides oppose capitalism, but Gandhi only disagrees because greed and vanity can grow from it; for example, English obsession with commercialism. The British Empire also abuses Indian farmers by exporting their goods, leading to India becoming “the Jewel in the crown” as an imperial colony.
Marx claims a nation can move on from a capitalist economy, but at first a capitalist economy is necessary. Communism calls for a short lived capitalist society to establish strong industry. The end economic goal for communism is the shared wealth, or no private property, profit, the market, and money. The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, never gives an exact vision. A way to gain happiness is education. When citizens are educated and have better lives they may be happier.
Communism allows everyone the same educational opportunities. Education in schools would improve and life at home would be pleasant. Families could flourish and grow without fear of economic struggle. Gandhi did not think large amounts of money, funds, were essential for a town to thrive, but he became convinced that schools were needed. “As I gained more experience…I became convinced that work of a permanent nature was impossible without proper village education… “.
Gandhi went on to establish primary schools in six villages. Enabling the villagers and peasants is more important than giving them items such as clothing. If a villager is taught a skill that individual can go on to work and thrive. Followers of Gandhi attempt to rid themselves of hatred. The “Passive Resistance Association” believes in achieving results with truth, love, and non-violence while communism pushes for brutal overthrows and power struggles.
When the Indian community openly picketed the permit offices they were given instructions to be respectful. The nation and its people has a higher chance of respecting the group if the protestors are agreeable. Passive resistance is an all-sided sword…it never rusts and cannot be stolen . Communists and the Satyagrahis call for their followers to be brave. Self-sacrifice is essential for success.
The peaceful resistors that follow Gandhi are willing to be arrested or beaten for the good of the cause. Both groups want freedom to support their beliefs, although those beliefs differ greatly. Marx states that, “Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement for the momentary interests of the working class… “. Marx and his co-author Friedrich Engels push for results impatiently. Gandhi was patient, and made his hopes open to the public and those around him.
Mutual love and trust enables Gandhi to be more successful because he listened to his people and their struggles, and “involves sacrifice of self “. Gandhi wanted India to become strong and independent after England gave up its control. But, one country leaving doesn’t automatically make another nation “independent”. Gandhi believed that when all of the villages were able to prosper then India could truly be independent. He said, “When I succeed in ridding the villages of their poverty, I have won “Independence”.One goal Gandhi was worried about achieving was ensuring his followers/protestors were strong believers.
To ensure his peoples future (in India and elsewhere), he wanted to create a strong group of Satyagraha, such as the “Passive Resistance Association”. Twenty years in South Africa taught Gandhi the importance of self-discipline. One must be fully devoted. Prayer is an important part of a devoted Satyagraha follower’s life. Gandhi wanted to acquaint India with the methods he used in South Africa. Communists believe all land, industry, labor, and wealth would be shared.
In time, all workers from neighboring nations could unite as a whole. According to Marx the working men have no country. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have the world to win. “