Thoughts on economics and liberty

A religious guru who strongly endorses capitalism

Thanks to Vijay Mohan for alerting me to a brilliant piece by  Osho (Rajneesh). Vijay wrote: "i accidently read him .. … and found his superb logic for capitalism …". I agree.

A bit about Osho

We all know of Osho as a controversial libertine who died at a relatively young age. I visited his ashram in Pune in 1980 or thereabouts, when I had left formal study in order to prepare for the IAS exam (the ashram was located fairly close to our house in Pune Cantonment, and I had a bicycle to take me around when I was not studying at home for the exam). The (Indian) lady who met me at the reception in the ashram showed me around – including the open (covered) enclosure where Rajneesh would hold his sermons each day. 

The place was full of foreigners, and that was the time when Rajneesh's ashram was starting to get significant bad press. The next year he left India, being hounded by constant bad press and by the people of Pune taking offence to activities in his ashram. He fled to USA.

What happened next can only be said to be deplorable (his actions were not above board as well, I think), and he was booted out of USA. Landing back in India, he died in his Pune ashram in 1990. The next time that the ashram came to public attention was in 2010 when a bomb exploded at the Landmark bakery near the ashram. I don't know whether he still as any followers or what happens in is ashram.

My mother has read some of his work and tells me that he talks a lot of sense. Not being religiously inclined, and entirely put off by his lifestyle and the controversies surrounding him, I have not cared to read his work yet. In the sphere of religion, Vivekananda is king as far as I'm concerned. (And of course, I'm still not religious in any sense of the word, and continue to investigate.)

So it is with considerable trepidation that I reproduce sections from Osho's work on capitalism, below. It is possible that his reputation will besmirch the name of capitalism itself, but it is a risk I take knowing that in the end that it doesn't matter who speaks the truth.

In the extract below I've excised some irrelevant sections. Osho does tend to babble quite a bit.



Osho on Capitalism – Capitalism is basically individualism, it is not a social structure
Question – Beloved Osho, Every time I hear you praising Capitalism I get angry. You say sannyas means to get rid of all conditioning and to escape out of every cage whether it is religious, philosophical or political. But isn't Capitalism a cage too? Why can't we live a creative life in wealth and freedom without any "isms"?
Osho – Swami Prem Vardan, capitalism is not an "ism" at all; just don't get too obsessed by the word. Sometimes words become too important to us and we tend to forget the reality. Capitalism is not an ideology; it is not imposed on the society, it is a natural growth. It is not like communism, or fascism, or socialism — these are ideologies; they have to be imposed. Capitalism has come on its own. In fact, the word "capitalism" has been given by the anticapitalist thinkers: the communists, the socialists and others. Capitalism is a state of freedom; that's exactly why I am in support of it. It allows you all kinds of freedoms. Communism will not allow you all kinds of freedoms; communism will give you only one ideology to believe in — there is no question of choice.
I am reminded of Henry Ford….
When he made his first model, those cars were only made in one color — black. And he himself used to take the customers round his showroom; he would go around with them and show them the cars. He used to say to people, "You are free to choose any color, provided it is black!"
That's exactly the attitude of communism: you are free to choose any ideology, any philosophy, any religion, provided it is communism. In a communist society there is no hope for a multidimensional humanity to grow; it can allow only a certain type to grow: it is linear. You cannot conceive that in a communist pattern even Karl Marx would be possible; he would not be allowed. You cannot conceive a Jesus, a Buddha, a Krishna, or a Lao Tzu being born in a communist society; they would be destroyed at the very beginning.
Before the Russian revolution, Russia produced the greatest novelists in the world. Before the revolution, Russia passed through an immense period of creativity; it was almost an explosion. Nowhere else, in no other time, were so many great artists born together: Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov, Maxim Gorky, Turgenev, and many more. What happened to all that creativity after the Russian revolution? Not a single Tolstoy, not a single Dostoevsky, not a single Maxim Gorky has appeared. It is impossible, because the government directs you about what to write, what not to write. The bureaucracy dictates everything. You cannot paint according to your own heart, you cannot sing the song that you want to sing; you have to dance to the tune that the government plays. Naturally, only mediocre people have been happy in Russia. Untalented people will find it very good, but talented people, who are the salt of the earth, will be retarded.
Only one outlet is there, to go into politics, and that too is not easy. Once you are in power it is very difficult for anybody else to replace you. Joseph Stalin remained in power longer than any other person, and he was hated by the people from their very guts, but nobody was able to say anything. He killed more people than Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Nadirshah; even Adolf Hitler comes second to him. And he killed very methodically. It is estimated that he must have killed several million people at least, with no guilt.
The day he died and Krushchev came into power, Krushchev started saying things against him. Even his dead body was removed from the Kremlin, from the place where it had been ceremoniously placed. It was dragged from the grave in a very insulting way and removed to a faraway place which nobody visits.
Krushchev had always served Stalin as a servant, and when he started saying things against him…. In one of the meetings of communist workers he was talking against Stalin, and a worker shouted from the back row, "Where were you when he was alive? Why didn't you say these things when he was alive?"
For a moment there was a very uneasy silence. Even Krushchev could not find any words. Then he asked, "Can I ask one thing, sir? Can you stand up, comrade? Who has asked this question?" And Krushchev laughed and he said, "Now you know! That's my answer!"
Communism is an "ism"; capitalism is not an "ism." Capitalism is simply a natural phenomenon that has come on its own. There are no capitalist philosophers, there is no capitalist party, there is no capitalist economy which has been enforced on people; it is a growth.
But you seem, Vardan, to be too attached to the word. Rather than looking at the reality you have become distracted by the word "capitalism." It simply means a state of LAISSEZ-FAIRE, a state of freedom where one is allowed to be himself. Capitalism is not an "ism" but a natural state of society which is capable of producing capital, which is capable of producing wealth.
Now for sixty years or more communism has existed in Russia. Still, communism existing in Russia has not been able to make it a rich society; it is a poor country. Of course they go on competing as far as war technology is concerned, but the people are poor. America is far richer; in fact, it is the richest society that has ever existed on the earth. Even the poorest man in America is in a far better situation than any Russian, for the simple reason that people are allowed to produce wealth if they choose to. If they choose not to produce wealth, if they want to be painters, poets, they are allowed — that is their freedom, that is their birthright. In communism you don't have any birthright.
And remember, equality is a very unpsychological idea. People are not equal. Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Gautam Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Ghalib — can you consider that these people are equal? The society consists of thousands of types; it is beautiful because of the variety. Communism destroys variety. It makes people in a certain pattern, it gives them a certain structure. The whole society becomes like an army: everybody is regimented, everybody is following a certain ideal.
Now the word "capitalism" is torturing you. If you understand me, what you are saying is exactly what I mean by capitalism.
You say: "Why can't we live a creative life in wealth and freedom without any `isms'?" That's exactly what capitalism is! Drop the word "ism," find something else. I am not much concerned with words. 
"You say sannyas means to get rid of all conditioning…." Yes, and it includes the obsession with words too. And you say, "to escape out of every cage…." True.
Capitalism is the only state where you are not forced to live in a cage, you are free. But capitalism is in a very dangerous state, for the simple reason that there are only a few people who are capable of creating wealth, and they create great jealousy in others. Those who cannot create wealth become jealous — and there are more of them.
Everybody has to be himself, and capitalism simply gives you the possibility to be yourself. Certainly you will have to prove your mettle, you will have to work; you will have to create, you will have to bring your total energy to a focus. But only then will you be able to shine forth.
Capitalism is basically individualism, it is not a social structure. It is more than that; it is just democracy and freedom
Capitalism gives you the freedom to be yourself; that's why I support it. My support has reasons behind it. I am not supporting it as an economical phenomenon; there is much more involved in my support.
A few people will create wealth, but they will reveal the secrets of how to create wealth. Sooner or later this whole society will be benefited by it.
A real socialism will come out of capitalism as a by-product. When too much wealth is created, people will not be so greedy; the greed arises only because the wealth is very scarce. And you can see it very clearly — you can see it here. The poor person is very greedy, the rich person is not so greedy. The people who are coming from the West are less greedy than the people who are living in India. The Indians TALK about no-greed, greedlessness, but they are the most greedy people in the world. They have to be — they are so poor, they have to cling.
You can see it easily: the West has created enough wealth; the greed is disappearing. But in the East, the greed has gone on increasing more and more. 
Capitalism is pure freedom. Of course, everybody is not capable of creating wealth, hence it creates jealousy. But we should not be dominated by jealousy, we should not be dominated by those who are uncreative. If we are dominated by the uncreative, by the jealous, then we will destroy all the talented people. And they are the real people, they are the people who raise humanity to higher levels.
Humanity owes all its growth to very few people, not to the masses — not at all. Society has been benefited only by a few scientists, a few mystics, a few creators; the others have been just hindering in every possible way. And these others constitute the majority, and of course they are jealous. But nobody says directly, "I am jealous." They will talk about equality, socialism, communism…beautiful words to hide something ugly.
Prem Vardan, … [m]aybe you have come believing in socialism, communism, and all that kind of nonsense
But when I say, "Don't be a communist or a socialist," then it hurts more, because particularly the new generation is very much addicted to the communist ideology. Capitalism is not an ideology at all, that's why I prefer it.
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One thought on “A religious guru who strongly endorses capitalism
  1. Joyson Fernandes

    From what I know about Osho, he was a collectivist and appreciated socialist principles. His commune-town in Rajneeshpuram was based on communitarian socialist principles. He called it a “true communist” commune. In fact, his devotees wore the revolutionary colour red as well as pink.

    Osho was also a Malthusian quack who believed that resources were limited and overpopulation was a problem. He advocated that people stop breeding. He implemented strict birth control in his commune, and not a single child was born there for as long as it lasted. He was a sycophant of the dynasty, and praised Sanjay Gandhi’s forced sterilization measures.

    Osho vociferously stated that the lives of the poor in Ethiopia and India should not be saved through proper sanitation, access to healthcare, and food aid; because resources are limited and they will live blighted miserable lives. In fact when an interviewer asked him what he would do if he saw a starving child on the verge of death, he replied that he would give a morphine overdose so it died peacefully in its sleep.

    Overall, a sick charlatan! But to his credit, he publicly admitted that he was a charlatan, that he loves wealth, that there is no such thing as enlightenment, that his teachings shouldn’t be taken seriously, and that his followers were fools; not once but on many occasions.

    I like reading his insights, but those who sincerely believe that he would deliver them enlightenment surely are morons.


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