Explain how M.N. Roy sought to reconstruct society by developing the notion of Radical Humanism


Radical Humanism:

Roy started his political activities as a .revolutionary by participating in the activities of Yugantar Group. Later on, he studied Marxism and was deeply inspired by its basic tenets. In his opinion “Marxism is the outcome of the development of thought from dawn of history, therefore it is the heritage of humanity, it is the ideological equipment belonging to everybody for “a better world”. But in view of dogmatic interpretations of Marxism by Russian tyrants, he moved on to outline, what he termed as Radical Humanism.

Roy’s radical Humanism is not simply a relation against Stalin’s interpretation of Marx but instead it represents his vision of freedom and well being. As he says, ‘radical humanism is a philosophy of freedom based on modern scientific knowledge. It aimed at infusing and re-invigorating ethical or moral outlook in the man.


There are following grounds on which Roy opposed Marxism.

Firstly, he did not pin faith in the Marxism theory of surplus value. Rather he believed that surplus provided one of the bases for society’s progress.

Secondly, he did not approve of economic deterministic outlook of man. As Dr. V.D. Verma observes “in place of the Marxist thesis which interpret ethical norms in terms of class struggle, Roy accepts that there is something permanent in actual values.” Roy also said “Philosophically, the materialist conception of history must recognize the creative role of intelligence. Materialism cannot deny the objective reality of ideas”.

Thirdly, Roy had strong praise for individualism,


Fourthly, Roy was not convinced with the Marxism notion of “history of ail hitherto existing societies is history of class struggle”. Rather, he believed that conflict cooperation is part of social life. Moreover, the contemporary reality did not expressed Marx’s ideas.

Fifthly, Roy was highly critical of the dictatorship of the proletariat. On the contrary, we believed that the real “conflict was between totalitarianism and democracy, between all-devouring collective ego- nation or class and the individual struggling for freedom”. A revolution through education was the most suitable method for change. In his opinion, revolutions and the resulting dictatorship of the proletariat lead to totalitarianism of one or the other kind.

New Humanism:

Roy changed his view from radical to New Humanism. It was marked by as Vishnoo Bhagwan observes “He found in the European renaissance enriched by the discoveries of present day sciences the basis of a new social order. Hence it is rightly contended that Roy’s humanistic elements of thoughts are traceable to several schools and epochs of western philosophy. He craves for New Humanism based upon natural reason and secular conscience”.


Roy made a novel connection between the means and ends. As he said “It is very doubtful if a moral object can ever be attained by immoral means”. But, his conclusions draw a totally different picture than Gandhi’s Ram Rajya. He was convinced of the usefulness of European rationalism. He advocated use of physical sciences in the service of mankind.

The basis of Roy’s “New Humanism” was cosmopolitan. It transcended natural as well as political boundaries. As he observed “New Humanism” is cosmopolitan commonwealth of spiritually free men would not be limited by the boundaries of national states. Which will gradually disappear under the 20th century renaissance of man”? The role of education was of pivotal importance in Roy’s scheme of things.

Roy’s conception of New Humanism was basically a conception of individual freedom based on reason and morality. It was to be a tool for social progress. As he observed “The quest for freedom is the continuation of biological struggle for existence at the emotional and cognitional level”. His love for individual freedom and social progress is expressed in his following word. “A brotherhood of men attracted by the adventure of ideas, keenly conscious of the urge for freedom fired with the vision of a free society of free man and motivated by the will to remake the world so as to restore the individual in his position of primary and dignity will show the way out of the contemporary crisis of modern civilization.

Political and Economic Ideas:


Roy’s love for individual freedom led him to outline a broader framework that could be most conducive to its realization. Being witness to the fate of centralized society (Soviet Union), he favoured decentralization of power in the political as well as economic realm. The villages and local units must be the tool of social change and it should not be brought about by the political parties. As Vishnoo Bhagwan observes “Like J.P. Narayan, we strongly advocated party less democracy”.

Roy did not favour the prevailing systems of representative democracy. According to Dr. V.P. Verma “He stood for a social system, where social technology and the pooled powers of human reasons and engineering would be applied to the reconciliation of individual freedom and social good and progress”. He labelled this model as ‘organized democracy’ resembling Rousseau’s theory of direct democracy. He said “To be real, democracy must be direct; government must be under the direct control of the people”.

However, in view of its impracticability in the contemporary world, Roy made certain modifications. These included an institution of council of state whose members were to be elected as well as selected by professional groups. The council will mainly concern itself with the planning and guiding the execution of plan.

Roy neither favoured laissez faire capitalism, nor did him précised collectivism of Soviet type. As he said “The concept of the economic man negatives the liberation doctrine of individualism. The economic man is bound to be a slave or a slave holder”. In the same vein he said “State control of the means of production and planned economy do not by themselves end exploitation of neither labour nor lead to an equal distribution of wealth”.


Moreover, he was totally against any use of state power in economy, speaking about welfare state, he remarked “Money is taken out of the pocket of the worker and put into his other pocket in the form of benefits, in the process, the money loses about 20-25 per cent of its value’.

Roy favoured a cooperative economy based on twin-principle of decentralization and cooperation geared towards serving human ends. These economic units must use technology on substantial scale to industrialize it. As he said “Machine should not be the Frankenstein of modern civilization. Created by man, it must subserve man’s purpose-contribute to his freedom.

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