Gandhi was an ardent believer in the equality of all human beings. As such he preached and worked for social justice. He could not like the subjugation or exploitation of one man by another. He was a friend of the poor and downtrodden multitudes and worked ceaselessly for the amelioration of their conditions.
A talk which he once had with H.G. Alexander, a British visitor to Sabarmati, may be of great interest in this context. “What,” asked Alexander, “Shall I say when I get home to England ? “You must tell the English people,” he replied, “to get off our backs.”
This means that Gandhiji did not want a set of people to get on the backs of another set ; he did not like that any individual should be suppressed by the other. He was against any authoritarian force working over the masses.
This idea along with the former one of equality is communistic. Communist ideal is a classless society in which even the state withers away. Gandhiji also wanted to abolish all class distinctions and build a social order of self-sufficient, self-governing village communities having maximum autonomy.
The Ashrams that he established were experiments in Communism. In them efforts were made to put the doctrines of equality and non possession into practice. Not only this, the Communist doctrine ‘To each according to his need,” was also seen in operation there.
These things have led so many people to think that ideals and aims of Gandhism and Communism are the same. This Kinship between the two has been declared by as great authorities on Gandhism as Dr. J.C. Kumarappa, Prof. S.N. Aggarwal and Pt. Sunder Lai.
All these people have, however, pointed out that the means adopted by the two are different. Whereas Gandhiji attached sanctimonious importance to truthfulness and purity of means, Communists believe that “end justifies the means”.
Gandhiji did not compromise with violence in any sense. Ahimsa, for him, was the supreme value. The Communists, on the other hand, do not at all hesitate in the use of weapons, rather, they believe in the violent overthrow of the established authority.
This gives an idea that if violence of Communism be purged, it becomes Gandhism. Gandhiji stood for communism minus violence. But this seems to be too superficial. Similarities between the two are only on the surface. If the fundamentals and the aims of the two be carefully examined, they stand poles apart.
Gandhism is metaphysical where as Communism is materialistic:
Gandhism is metaphysical and mythical while Communism is through and through a materialistic ideology. According to the former, the ultimate reality is the soul and not the material world as it is with the latter.
The aim of Gandhi, therefore, was the realization of the Truth that resides inwards. His goal was the kingdom of Heaven, not the kingdom of the Earth.
To the Communists, on the other hand, power and happiness on this earth means everything. To Gandhiji life in this world is not real while Truth is real. To Communism, life in this world alone is real: the rest is a myth.
2. Gandhism believes in the principle of trusteeship of the capitalists whereas Communism believes in their liquidation:
Secondly, Gandhiji supported the capitalists and landlords. The capitalists, in his opinion, were as much worthy of compassion as the labourers. They also had a soul which could be self-suffering. They need not be dispossessed or wiped out of society to bring ideal society into existence.
On the contrary, the Communists start with the assumption that the moneyed minority is criminal and to change the existing structure, it is necessary to confiscate their wealth and rid the earth of their burden. Believing that truth cannot be reached by untruthful means.
Gandhi ruled out completely all appeals to class-struggle, class hatred, force, dictatorship of the proletariat which figure so prominently in the programme of the Communists. While the Communists want to create class-consciousness for building up a classless society, Gandhi wanted to benumb this consciousness.
3. Gandhism believes in social change through love but Communism believes in economic interpretation of history:
Thirdly, Gandhism lays down that if an individual be changed, social change will automatically follow. Stress is, therefore laid on the moral and spiritual development of man.
As opposed to this, Communism is based on the materialistic interpretation of history according to which if we have the right type of socio-economic organization, the development of moral character will automatically follow.
4. Gandhism Condemns the modern civilization but Communism wants to derive full benefit out of scientific knowledge and technique:
Lastly, the two ideologies differ in their attitude towards what is called modern scientific civilisation. Gandhism is against this civilisation of the machine on the plea that it leads to enslavement of man, and aspiration for material pursuit Communism, on the other hand, wants to have the full fruit of modern technology.
It does not demand from people any asceticism or simplicity, rather, it aims at providing thern maximum material comforts. Gandhism is based on faith and intuition; reason is expelled out. Communism is based on scientific theory of dialectical materialism, which admits both science and reason.
Points to Remember
1. Gandhism and Communism are identical in the following respects.
(i) Both belive in equality and aim at a classless society.
(ii) Both aim at a society which gives autonomy to units.
(Hi) Both believe in the principle, “From each according to his capacity ; to each according to his needs.”
2. Following are the differences between the two:
(i) Gandhism does not believe in violence. Communism uses violence as a weapon.
(ii) Gandhism is spiritualistic, Communism is materialistic. The former aims at the kingdom of Heaven while latter wants power and happiness in the world.
(iii) Dispossession and elimination of the rich is another point of difference.
(iv) Gandhism believes in changing the individual for change in society and Communism believes conversely.
(v) Gandhism is against the machinery but Communism is not averse by the two are different. Whereas Gandhiji attached sanctimonious importance to truthfulness and purity of means, Communists believe that “end justifies the means”. Gandhiji did not compromise with violence in any sense.
Ahimsa, for him, was the supreme value. The Communists, on the other hand, do not at all hesitate in the use of weapons, rather, they believe in the violent overthrow of the established authority.