But it will not last. “In suppressing the bourgeoisie, the State is encompassing its own downfall, for in so far as it is successful in this aim it becomes superfluous. Being an organisation formed on a class basis to advance class interests, it ceases to have any raison d’etre so soon as it has suppressed class distinction. Therefore, the State will wither away, giving place to a free society.” The ultimate aim of Marx is the establishment of a classless and Stateless society which, he thought, would be realised through revolutionary upheaval organised only by the working classes. He believed that the emergence of a classless society was inevitable.
Gandhiji rejected the Marxian theory of struggle between labour and capitalism, for it emphasised the overthrow of the capitalist class by violence. But Gandhi did not subscribe to the philosophical and historical basis of scientific socialism as propounded by Marx. He did not believe in the primacy of material forces. He did not subscribe to the socialist theory of class conflict and class war. He did not believe that state regulation of means of production would end exploitation. He propounded the theory of Trusteeship as an alternative to state regulation of means of production and distribution. In a society one class should not be allowed to grow and flourish on the efforts of the other class. Gandhiji believed in non-exploitative, non-acquisitive, social and economic relations.
While believing that inequalities in intelligence and even of opportunities will last till the end of time, he said, “Equality too is not to be missed. Every man has an equal right to the necessities of life, even as birds and beasts have. And since every right carries with it a corresponding duty and the corresponding remedy of resisting any attack upon it, it is merely a matter of finding out the corresponding duties and remedies to vindicate the fundamental elementary equality. The corresponding duty is to labour with my limbs, and the corresponding remedy is to non-cooperate with him who deprives me of the fruit of my labour. And if I would recognise the fundamental equality, as I must, of the capitalist and the labourer, I must not aim at his destruction. I must strive for his conversion.
” He believed in the principle of trusteeship, that the rich people held all their wealth in trust for the good of the people and they should not hesitate in spending this wealth for the good of the nation as a whole. He looked upon trusteeship as an alternative to the extremes of capitalism and socialism. If the capitalists fail to comply, the State should expropriate their wealth with the least exercise of violence. The principle of trusteeship could achieve the object of socialism without fostering a class war. He regarded the village to be the unit of economy. He wanted the villages to be self-sufficient.
He stressed the development of village industries, and he was opposed to the introduction of heavy machinery, which created unemployment. He advocated that whenever large-scale industries were necessary for technical reasons, they should be placed under State control. He was working for an India in which the poorest should feel that it was their country. He advocated individual freedom, but under the socialist system there is no individual freedom. Gandhi was deeply religious, whereas Karl Marx denounced all religions; the latter thought that the capitalists exploited the masses under the garb of religion. Gandhiji stood for the individuality of man, for his genius, his perfect liberty of speech, thought and action. He believed in decentralisation of political power and economy, which aimed at the uplift and amelioration of village community.
Truth is the basis, the core of what Gandhiji preached or said. “Self-realisation,” according to him, “is the realisation of that self which is only a manifestation of that ultimate reality which is Truth.” Mahatmaji attached the greatest importance to the means to achieve an end, the means must be ethical and moral, they must be noble and pure. Karl Marx was prepared to adopt violence to achieve his goal of a classless society. Marx believed in the centralisation of all industry and in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Gandhi regarded society as an essay in cooperation.
He did not think in terms of class antagonisms. In fact, he believed that interests of the worker and the capitalist, the employer and the employees were identical. They were inter-dependent in the long run. He did not believe that the class conflict would cease; even after the destruction of bourgeoisie, new classes would arise. Therefore, Gandhi did not want to destroy the capitalists, but he sought to destroy capitalism.
He wanted the capitalists to consider themselves as trustees of wealth. The workers must become co-sharers of the capitalists instead of either remaining slaves or becoming the sole owner. Unlike Marx, Gandhiji’s method was one of conversion and non-violence, and not of expropriation and armed violence. He believed in harmonising the interests of the workers and the capitalists and wanted them to work for common social ideal.