Thoughts on economics and liberty

A super-confused Hindu swami’s view on “Vedantic socialism”

I had discussed Vedic socialism here and shown that it doesn't make sense. Now I've been provided a reference to Vedantic socialism – an essay by Swami Rama Tirtha. [More about Rama Tirtha here]

I've never come across a more confused "Swami"!

To me it is increasingly clear that Hindu thought is 100% compatible with capitalism, not socialism. Anyone who tries to prove otherwise is undertaking a wild-goose chase.

Key extracts, with my comments indented

First of all as to the name, Socialism, Rama would prefer to call it Individualism.

[Sanjeev: So far so good]

The word Socialism gives prominence to the idea of the rule of society, but Rama says the right spirit of Truth is to assert the supremacy of the individual against all the world, all the universe. Then there is no worry, no anxiety. This is what Rama calls Individualism, let people call it Socialism, if they wish.

[Sanjeev: that's where this Swami goes so wrong! You can't mix up names of two extremely contradictory things]

This is Vedantic teaching from the stand – point of the individual. 

We see again that the end of so called Socialism, being simply to bring down Capitalism, is so far identical with the end of the Vedanta, which means simply to strip you of all sense of possession, and to cast to the winds all sense of property, all selfish possession. That is the Vedanta and that is Socialism. The ends agree.

[Sanjeev: This is very incorrect. Capitalism DOES NOT require anyone to have possessions (or a sense of possessions). It leaves you free to choose whether you want possessions or not. The main thing is CHOICE.]

The Vedanta preaches equality, and so must the end of true Socialism be no deference, no respect, no regard for any outside possessions.
[Sanjeev: Socialism DOES NOT preach an end to the "regard for any outside possessions" – it preaches EQUALITY of possessions. Big difference in these two ideas. This Swami is super-ignorant. And by no means does socialism seek a situation of "no deference". This article was written in the 1890s, I'm now informed, so he wouldn't have known about Stalin and Nehru. But the socialists did not ever follow a society without "deference".].
This seems to be rather terrible and something very severe but there can be no happiness under the Sun unless a man gives up all sense of property and possessions, clinging and attachment. But Socialism simply wants a man to give up all this, whereas the Vedanta furnishes a great reason for doing the same. 
[Sanjeev: Nowhere does socialism want man to "GIVE UP" the sense of possessions! What is this "swami" talking about! Socialism is about ensuring equality of possessions. The socialists thought that it was going to be a quicker way to increase wealth if everyone had equality of wealth as well. They were not preaching poverty!]
So called Socialism has been merely a study of the surface of things and comes to the conclusion that mankind should live on terms of equality, fraternity and love. 
[Sanjeev: This swami was not born then, but millions of people were to be killed in ocialist USSR/China/N.Korea – not a sign of "love"]
The Vedanta studies the phenomena from the indigenous point of view. According to it the possession of any individual property is a most sacrilegious deed against one’s Atma or inner Self. 
[Sanjeev: This Swami first says that Rama talks about individualism. Ram rajya was NOT the land of poverty but of prosperity. India takes pride that in its past it was the "golden sparrow" of the world. And here we have a "learned" Swami talking about total renunciation – and denial of individual property – as the main plank of Hinduism. I'm done with this man. Nothing to add. Vedantic socialism is simply not a tenable concept. It not only doesn't understand socialism as a concept, it also doesn't understand the Vedanta.]
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2 thoughts on “A super-confused Hindu swami’s view on “Vedantic socialism”
  1. Sanjeev Sabhlok

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    bear in mind that this was written in the early 1890's. however to call one of historys greatest Vedantins 'ignorant and confused' is perhaps a ignorant and confused statement. I would suggest to check out more of his works before such a harsh condemnation.

    Sanjeev Sabhlok Sorry, in that case he would not have heard of Stalin. Let me fix my blog post accordingly. 

    However, on the rest of the analysis, I will need DIRECT CONTRADICTION of my views, not simply telling me that this man was so great. I don't really care about anyone's "greatness". I need argument and reason. 

    Indeed, if what he is writing is correct (that there should be no deference – merely because of someone's status), then it is obligatory that the discussion be on the merit of the case, not on the authority who has written something. 

  2. Sourabh

    the swami seems confused abt socialism rather than vedanta.he is fallaciously connecting transfer of ownership to the state to karma yoga ie doing duties with detachment by saying that  socialism is good bcos ppl will be working for the good of others and not for their own material posessions.even if that were true it wud not absolve socialism of its many failures.but even that is not true physically taking away posessions does not reduce desire for them,or for other things eg.power, rank etc.otherwise all beggars would be saints!!!


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