Thoughts on economics and liberty

Violent Socialism: Essay by Rajaji, January 1959


IT is not only lathis and rifles that make violence. A show of rifles is as much violence as actual shooting. The violence of legislative compulsion on a submissive people is of the same quality as lathis and rifles, and the coercion exercised through it is even more effective and more lastingly harmful.

Democracy is said to be the voice of the people and therefore of God. These fine phrases serve to hide the coercion and many another fault. Democracy worked through the system of political party organizations, as it must necessarily be done when huge populations are to be governed, is very far from the voice of the people which is said to be the `voice of God ‘.

Everyone knows how the bosses come to a conclusion on the basis of their often faulty and biassed appraisement of what will please the greatest number and sustain them in power, and their decisions are imposed on the party, any dissenting minority in it being more or less suppressed at the altar of confidence in the leadership that serves to keep the party in power. Pomp and public splendour are called in to hypnotize an uninformed people.

The organization’s majority decision becomes the ‘ voice of God ‘. The process is the reverse of the ideal democracy wherein the voice of the people, whether it be that of God or not, must precede the decision of the leaders. We thus can easily see, if we care to observe, the clay feet of the golden idol set up for worship.

The machinery of the State is a perfected instrument for exercising violence without exposing it to the eye. And in a Welfare’ State, i.e. , in a State where private life and professions depend on the favours of officials, the processes of coercion are the worst conceivable.

The evolution of non-violence that was the dream of Gandhiji has been rudely stopped, and India goes the way of the other States of the world. With the goal of industrialization as conceived now by the Congress, the dream becomes more distant than ever. More and more centralization, more and more State control of everything, will be the history of ‘ democratic socialism ‘ in India.

Instead of training in self-reliance, all the education is the other way about. The training is to expect the Central Government at Delhi to help the smallest and remotest village, with tax-obtained money and subsidies of all kinds for every purpose. and to give grateful homage to the party in power.

There was more self-reliance in the days when the government was foreign and was just a law-and-order government. Today Government’s ambition is much greater but the way it has gone about the business has undermined initiative and self-reliance, in fact, undermined independence at the ‘ grass roots’ and made the people tamer than under foreign rule.

I am not saying anything remarkably new. What I say is worrying Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru’s mind, specially as he sees more and more of what has resulted from the policies adopted these dozen years, and more and more of what lies at the base of the human spirit.

But withdrawal is always the most difficult part of a battle. It looks easier to go forward than to confess or correct an error. What is wanted is a miracle of courage and a talent for orderly withdrawal, a withdrawal in which inevitable losses are bravely borne, but avoidable damage carefully saved to make room for a policy more consistent with non-violent socialism.

Gandhiji dreamed non-violence and he dreamed perfect social justice, and social welfare without coercion. How could social justice and social welfare be reached except through force ? His answer was it could and must be done through the spiritual education of the people, and he developed the doctrine of trustee¬ship for this purpose. He had hoped to make this the fundamental of the economic life of Free India through right education. Any object sought to be achieved in a hurry and without waiting for the necessary popular education must necessarily be achieved through coercion ; and the violence involved undermines and nullifies the object. The long way is the shortest cut.

We should realize that it makes little difference whether the Communist Party paints our house with communism or the Congress borrows from the communist his brush and paint and does the work with even less hesitation than the communist. The spirit and intent of Article 31 of the Constitution of India has been and is proposed to be violated in gigantic measure ; and the large volume of the open violation does not make it less of a violation, but indeed aggravates the offence. Instead of annulling Article 31, it is made a mockery of.

As-uric democracy is not the democracy that we want. We want satvic progress in individuals and non-violent socialism for the State. If this is not to be, and the present violent socialism is to be persisted in, we must take it that it is the Communist Party that rules India by laying down policies for the Congress to follow without themselves undertaking the risk or the blame. This subtle process by which what we are supposed to oppose is allowed silently to conquer our own spirit and replace our own personality must be resisted, if we desire to save India for non-violence.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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