A common space for harmonic peacemakers
By Arun Gandhi
I have often wondered why Americans generally, and politicians and commentators particularly, are so obsessed with Communism and Socialism. Ev...er since the “squad” came out with policies for the poor, everyone is rushing to brand them as “leftists,” Communists, or Socialists as though that is the greatest insult in the world.
There is nothing wrong with Communism, Socialism, or Capitalism as mere philosophies. What is wrong is the way we mutilate and abuse these philosophies. Yes, even Capitalism is abused and mutilated to feed the unfathomable greed of a few. The ills of the world cannot be pinned on Communism or Socialism alone. Capitalism also shoulders a good measure of of the mess because we are driven by selfishness and greed at the cost of dividing the world between the rich and the poor.
My grandfather, M. K. Gandhi, talked about “compassionate capitalism” as well as the theories of Trusteeship and Constructive Action. He recognized that the world is one large human family; peace can be ensured only if we stop exploiting each other and learn to share. He accepted that each human being had a different set of talents, and that we don’t own those talents but are rather “trustees” of the talent.
It means that we should use those talents to help others as much as we use them to help ourselves. Helping others must be constructive, designed to rebuild the self-respect and self-confidence of the economically, socially, and culturally oppressed. Yes, this even includes the religiously oppressed. Exploited people learn to believe the canard we spread that they are incapable of doing anything for themselves, let us dispel this untruth and instead leverage our talents to promote dignity and pathways to prosperity.
An extension of this theory leads us to “Compassionate Capitalism”. If we have the talent to make money, by all means make it but don’t be motivated by greed. Let the money you make enhance the quality of life of your workers and the community around you. Don’t give crumbs off your table, but instead give significantly so that it makes a difference in this world.
So yes, Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism work the best when they are combined together. Taken individually we have abused and exploited them to death, but as a packet, if we remove greed from the equation this world will learn to live in harmony and peace. So I am not afraid of the “squad” injecting a bit of socialism and capitalism into our greed-driven society.