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PHILOSOPHY OF REVOLUTION
will make this revolution ?
Who Will Make This Revolution?
We have been enquiring who will make this revolution, who Will belts central figure? We have come to the conclusion that it will be the ploughman and not the soldier. We are living in a country which is predominantly agricultural. And in an agricultural country, the revolution must not only benefit the man who tills the land, but it should also be mainly brought about by his efforts. So it will be, not a revolution for the people, but a revolution by the people, a revolution in which the common man will be able to participate actively. He will not be a passive participant or a sleeping.
Not only the common man, but also the common woman. Women should be able to take as men.
This means that we will have to explore an entirely new technique of revolution, revolution in the technique of revolution And the first condition is that there should be no necessity for a counter-revolution of any type. A revolution which will leave no room or need for counter-revolution.
That is what Total revolution means. In the last century we have had two revolutions; one in the America and the other in France. In this century too we have had two revolutions-one in Russia and the latest in China. These latter revolutions have been called Marxist revolutions. I shall not dispute that claim, because I do not claim to be well-versed in Marxist lore, I mean orthodox Marxism.
This reminds me of the case of a certain man who claimed to have used the same knife for 25 year. Some times he changed the blade, and sometimes the handle, but the knife was the same, he said. That is what always happens with the followers of eminent leaders-Gandhi not excluded.
So let us take it for granted that these revolutions were Marxist revolutions. But there was a difference of opinion among the Marxist themselves. There were Leninists and there were Trotskyites. Issac Deuseur who has written a detailed biography of Trotsky in three big volumes, says "these are unfinished revolutions. Unfinished revolutions, because there is still the necessity of a counter-revolution."
A counter-revolution is born out of reaction, And any movement or any type of social change that is the result of reaction, cannot be revolutionary. So when we speak of a complete revolution, a total revolution, what we mean is that there will be no necessity for utter-revolution, which means that there will be room for difference of opinion.
The soul of a democratic set-up is the right to think. And the to think means the right to think differently, otherwise the right to think has no meaning whatsoever. When you concede the right to think differently.
So in a democratic context, not only difference of opinion, but dissent is not only tolerated, but appreciated and respected.
So we have to find out, to explore a technique of revolution, which will not only tolerate different opinions but respect them. Respect the other man's point of view. This technique is human, in the sense that it has respect for the intelligence of other people. In democracy, as you know, there is no collective voting. Democracy not recognise groups. Every individual is an integer, a whole number. He is not a fraction of humanity, not a fragment.
This revolution which we call, not only Total revolution, but a complete revolution which will look upon man as individual, will means that which cannot be divided. Protagoras, the Greek philosopher, said, "Man is the measure of all things". And the Hans Gita of the Mahabharat says "There is nothing higher than man". And I can understand their saying their saying this, because in this universe, in the creation of God, there is no species so responsible as a human being. The gods have no responsibility. They are not required to answer for their good or bad deeds. Other animals also are not responsible for their own lives. It is man alone who is karma yoni-one who is responsible for his own life. And in democracy every man in himself is complete, that is, responsible for his own life as well as the life of his neighbour.
In this direction, we, of the Sarvodaya movement, try to experiment; "One man's opinion is as important as the opinion of the 99 who are voting." John Stuart Mill who wrote his essay on "Liberty and Representative Government, "has enunciated this principle in the dearest terms. He says, "99 people, who have difference with one man who speaks against them, have no more right to silence him than he has to silence them." It was perhaps Voltaire who said, if my memory does not betray me, "I do not agree with a word of what you said, but I shall give my life for your right to say it." That is the real democratic attitude.
In a democracy a man People, the world over, have cannot be killed for his opinion. People the world over, have come to the conclusion that capital punishment should be abolished in regard to ordinary criminals who commit murders and other serious offences. But in the case of those murderers who hold different opinions, who do not agree j with the view of the majority, no quarter is shown. They are beheaded mercilessly, as happened in the case of Nathuram Godse whose conduct was in all conscience clearly diabolical. We are all pledged to non violence, that is for not killing human whatsoever but voted in favour of Godse being hanged! This should never happen in a democracy.
Unfortunately even social justice smacks of collective revenge. Bacon once said, "Revenge is wild justice." And the justice that is I out in most law courts in the world is social revenge, that is justice. In a democracy there can be no liquidation of the went. Your opponent is none but your playmate on the other. He belongs to the other team, but the other team is necessary complete the game. That is the beauty of democracy, the proudest characteristic of a democratic social order. It respects difference of opinion, which no other system respects.
In our economic planning, the first article of our creed should be that our planning shall be anthropocentric. Man should be the centre in all planning. And what man? The man whose life is more, or less a life sentence of prison which he wants to complete as best as he can.
In 1942 Vinoba and I were in the same jail. There was also a young student whose bed was between mine and Vinoba's. The one question that he always used to ask Vinoba was, and it was in Hindi "Kya Karen, Samaya nahi Katta" (Time hangs very heavy on my hands, I do not know how to spend this time.) Vinoba is a very patient man. But sometimes he makes very withering remarks. When this boy repeated this same thing for some days, one day Vinoba replied, "Why don't you go and hang yourself on the gallows? Ek minute mein samey Kat Jayega!" (Time will be finished in one minute!)
There are also those who toil and for whom life is a burden, much like incarnation in a prison house. Time is their arch enemy. They do not know how to beguile it. It is this man, as I have said, for whom we should have respect. We should raise dignity, and it is he, who should be the far as our revolution is concerned.
So the first article of this revolutionary creed is-man is the measure of all things. And the underlying principle is "reverence for life", reverence for all life, however mean, however low, that is our watchword. This watchword was given to us by that wonderful man -Albert Switzer, who was, I think, the most versatile man after that great painter of Italy, Da Vinci. He said, "Reverence for Life should be not only the first article of our faith, but the first rule our conduct." Reverence for all Life; Reverence for human life first, Reverence for other animals second; Reverence for vegetation third, and reverence for nature fourth. This means relationship. Reverence for life is thus our watchword.
Life is relationship. There is no life in isolation. A man cannot live alone. The Upanishads say, "The soul alone was created in the beginning. He did not feel like living alone." So life is relationship. Relationship with our fellow-men, relationship with animals, relationship with the vegetable kingdom and relationship with all nature, animate or inanimate. This has been known in our ancient lore as "Vibhuti yoga." "The worship of all that contributes to make life sublime." The worship of all that makes life rich. That is vibhuti. This earth is 'Vibuthi', this mother earth to whom we owe these thews and sinews as well as these courageous hearts. It seems they all combine to make our life not only happy, but blessed, So this Vibuthiyoga is benediction. And all planning should be approached in this spirit. All planning should be not only for the survival but the maintenance of life. Life shall not only survive, but thrive.
Now I would like to explain in short the main principles on which our planning should be based. The first is-planning and education should be co-related. Direct Self-preservation and indirect Self-preservation. These are terms that Spencer used in his book on Education. Planning is concerned both with direct self-preservation and indirect self-preservation. And education is concerned with the harmonious development of all our faculties. So education and planning must go hand in hand. They have been separated. That is why there is such tremendous dissatisfaction with the present system of education.
So, it means that the system of production and the system of education should be coupled with the cultural development of human personality. These two have got to go together. Human personality should be capable of being developed through this process, which that the system of production and distribution should be conducive to the growth of all human faculties.
Man has been defined as a tool-making animal. What is a tool the all? The tool is an extension of our limbs and senses. It augments, it amplifies our body, our senses and our limbs. I cannot break a coconut with my fist. So I first take a stone, and then invent the hammer. The hammer is the extension of my fist. That is why Sanskrit all these instruments have been named as "Upakarana". 'Upa' in sanskrit means samip-next to; 'Karana' is sense. 'Upakarana is that which is next to the sense'. So tools have been designed, not to substitute human power, but to augment it, to extend it. These are all shibboleths, whether we will have de-centralisation or centralisation; whether we will have technology or whether we will not have technology. These are mere shibboleths with which we have simply nothing to do. Let us go straight to the point on which want to take our stand. And that point is that we should not allow any tool or machine to replace human power. It may amplify it, it may augment it. If my glasses replace my eyes, I am nowhere. They say that a motorcar is scientific. The motorcycle is also scientific. May I ask,'Is the bullock-cart unscientific?' If the computer is scientific; is the human brain unscientific? The computer is an idiot which has to be fed. It can never replace man. What are the distinctive features of man? A man can become a genius and a lunatic, which the computers can never become.
Man-Machine Relationship There is a book on this subject-'Man Modified', if I remember the all right. Its author has concluded with an epigram, "Render unto the computer the things that are the computer's the things that are man's."
That is the balance which we have to strike between man-machine relationship. The man-machine relationship today is a mismatch, and that is why there are accidents galore. These accidents are an index of the fact that We have not been able to live at with the machine. Technology is not Science, science is greater technology, and man is greater than science. That is why I began with Protagoras maxim-'Man is the measure of all things.'
So, the process of products should be educative. Educative in the sense that it will be conducive to the cultural development of man to the development of his body, to the development of his mind, the development of his arts, and also to the development of his other faculties. How this can be achieved, is for us to explore? Revolution has had no blueprints, and all the blueprints that were written before a revolution never proved true. Because life does not proceed according to a chart or according to a time-table. Life cannot predicted Life is real, life is beautiful, but life is also mysterious. And all its beauty consists in its being mysterious. Because it is a great romance to advance in mystery. So, that is the first principle.
(2) Honourable Place For Animals
The second principle is, if we want to include animals in our society, they should have a honourable place in the process of production.
Ivan Illich was recounting the other day about what he saw in this country. He said, "I have never seen animals and men living so amicably in country." People always warn us, if you go to Kashi you should beware of the bulls in Kashi But Illich went to Kashi and said, "I have never seen a country in which the bulls have been so docile, and the human beings so friendly with them." So we have been living together with other animals. And some fine morning our forefathers came to the glorious conclusion that we should decide that there should be at least one animal which shall not be killed on any account. Man shall not be killed, that is the first article of our faith. The second article is, We shall choose at least one animal which shall be sacred, which shall not be killed for any purpose whatsoever. But that animal shall not be man's toy, or mere pet, because pets and toys are kept as long as they amuse you. They are not sacred, they are play-things. The day man chose to regard one animal sacred, I think, he took the great stride in the direction of cultural progress.
What is culture? Culture is the art of living with others. If there is a cultural pattern that does not agree with this definition, it is not culture, it is savagery. So, we decided to include one animal, some animals, as many animals as we can, not only in the process of production, but in all other ceremonies and in all other relationships of our life. This means that the tools should be such as would give ample scope for the development of the faculties of the animal, the development of its strength, the development of such art as the animal is capable of.
(3) Nature: Our Oily
Next comes nature, our third principle, It is known as capital goods, natural resources. Some 25 years ago, I came across a book entitled 'Our Plundered Planet'. I have forgotten the name of the author. There has been a plethora of books after that on the same theme, hut that was one of the earliest I came across. The author said, "We are exploiting nature". F. S. Marvin wrote a remarkable book on the advent of science-'The Century of Hope'. And he described the 19th century as the century of the conquest of nature. Is nature our ally or our enemy? If nature is our enemy, and if we go about conquering nature, man on this planet will not survive. Harry Truman, President of the United States, in a moment of great depression said, "Humanity is under sentence of death." We are all to die. In the same year William Faulkner won the Noble Prize for literature. And when he went to receive that prize, the first sentence that he uttered was, "Men will die, but man will survive." Man shall not die,he shall survive. This is the robust outlook that a revolutionary should have. We don't want to conquer nature, we don't want to mould nature in our cast, but we want to make nature our ally, who shall co-operate with us in making this life richer, greater and more beautiful. So, we don't want to plunder nature.
There are a few other things connected with this planning. What shall be the aim of production? Production for profit i.e. Capitalism. All production is for profit. Production for exchange, or barter. Production for price. Everything has a price tag. Your wisdom, your knowledge, you arts, yourself and your gods, they all have a price tag. And price is against all human values. Functionalism is colour blind to all human values. And capitalism is based on the principle of exchange value, which is price. A philosopher once defined a cynic. Who is a cynic? In Sanskrit 'nastik' means' devoid of all 'faith'. A disbeliever in God is not a cynic, he is only an atheist. A 'nastik' is one who has no faith. So, this philosopher defined a cynic thus 'A cynic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.'
This economy of exchange value is a false economy. It is an economy that has proved our undoing. Pragmatism can never work in practice. You pay the soldier his hire. But do you assess the value of his life? I was myself once nearly drowned in the Narmada. A fisherman saved my life. My father paid him Rs. 25/-. I asked my mother, "Is this the price of my life, or the life of fisher man, who risked his life to save me? Is an exchange value ever possible?
Everything that has an exchange value is wealth. That is what is known as classical economics. Adam Smith says so in his Wealth of Nations.' Tile diluted milk of the milkman has an exchange value, while my mother's milk has no exchange value. Is my mother's milk not wealth? This economy is brainless in the extreme. So, we have to change this economy of exchange value and work for a new economy which is based on absolute value--no price, no barter, no exchange. Air and water have their values, but no price. I breathe the air without paying any price, and, I hope that I shall be allowed to drink water without paying any price.
The things that are most valuable in life have no price. This is the economy of value. The basis of distribution shall not be purchasing power, but need. Production for profit, production for sale is capitalism. Production for use is classical socialism and sharing or production for your neighbour is democratic socialism, humanistic socialism, new humanism. Respect for all life has been called the, "New Holism" But you know, we believe in abbreviation these days. So the 'w' has been omitted and an
apostrophe has been substituted. A new holism and then there is a new immanentism. Life with a capital 'L'. So this is the meaning of reverence for life in all its aspects.
Our tools and implements shall be designed with a view to make our tools and implements life, not only possible, hut to make life prevail. Life shall prosper. How to go about this we shall have to explore, find out. And I hope the intelligence of our young men and women in this country has not reached its limit. We have been fond of copying. Copying has been the vogue in this country. I don't make any distinction between East and West. And in fact East and West are myths, geographical fictions. And yet I don't believe in revolution being copied. It was Stalin who said, "Revolutions cannot be exported. Every country in its particular context has to explore its own technique Of revolution."
Let us see, what is the context of revolution in this country? Ours is a country which is not highly industrialised. Our first problem is hunger. And the answer to hunger is food, and not factory manufactured goods. So, we have to begin with the land. The Earth has been called in Sanskrit by various names, but there is a very significant name -" Vasundhara" or "Vasumati." 'Vasu' means wealth. There is wealth in the bowels of the Earth. And this we have to search, not to exploit, but to make our lives gratifying, blessed. So, we have to look to the Earth as the first means of making this revolution possible.
While dealing with the question, "To whom should this Earth belong?" I suggested, that it should belong to the tiller. And what does belonging mean? Belonging does not mean absolute ownership, but the right to use. There is this difference between private property and personal property. Personal property is that which I use actually. So, it will be a sort of personal property, not absolute property, at absolute disposal, with the right to alienate, to sell. Because we want to establish relationship between men, and relationship between man and everything else.
Relationshipprecludes alienation of any kind. We want relationship, kinship, not alienation. Alienation separates; alienation divides while relationship joins, it is cohesive. The tiller will not be entitled to alienate his land. His ownership shall not he absolute. It was perhaps one of those utopian socialists, who were intellectual giants, who said, "Property is improperty i.e. impropriety." So there shall not be property in the sense that one can do with it whatever one likes. One holds it, to use it for the benefit of the individual and for the benefit of the society as a whole. That is what Vinoba meant when he said, "The land shall belong to all-to God." There shall be no collective ownership either. It shall not be absolute ownership of the village even. State ownership smacks of state capitalism Collective ownership is collective capitalism. But people's 'lok-swamitwa' is quite different. It is a different concept altogether. The land belongs to no one in particular. It belongs to all, and therefore it belongs to God.
Unless we chalk out some programme connected with the production of food in plenty, we shall not be able to make any headway whatsoever. This is essentially necessary. Villagisation of the land, you may call it, for want of a better phrase. All land shall belong to the village, to the people, to no one in particular: and neither shall it belong to the aggregate of individual villages. Let us not forget that Vinoba made an experiment which was perhaps the most courageous and the most glorious made by any man in history. And he deserves well of his people. He said, "The land shall belong to no one." And he wanted to bring about a revolution through cooperation, a revolution through persuasion. He did not fail; he partially succeeded. But even if he had failed, his failure would have been more glorious than our sordid successes.
So, he has blazed a trail, which he may have left, but it is for us to follow it up, in our own humble way. We need not be followers of Gandhi, Marx or Vinoba. A follower never takes a forward step. Kakasaheb Kalelkar once read out to us a sentence from the life of Jesus Christ, which read, "Not knowing how to punishes great men for their greatness, fate punishes them with disciples." So the successors are not disciples. Gandhi was a successor of Gokhale and Tilak not a follower, not a disciple. Therefore, he could not be accommodated either in Gokhale's camp or Tilak's camp. So is Vinoba, Gandhi's successor, not his disciple or follower, and so is Jayaprakash, the successor of both and the follower of neither. It is successor's proud privilege to take one step forward, which the disciple and the follower have neither the courage nor the inclination to do. A successor is thus also a path-finder.
We have had two revolutions in this century. We are not to copy them, but to learn from these revolutions and take one step forward. What have we to learn? Marx had predicted that a revolution will probably take place only in those countries which are highly industrialised. For only in those countries could the contradiction inherent in capitalism come to a head. But chance ordained otherwise: the revolution started, not in those countries which were highly industrialised, where we had a proletariat. Who is a proletariat. A proletariat is one who works but does not own, one who toils, but does not own. There were no proletarians in Russia, much less in China. For the first time in the history of socialism was the peasant allowed to join a socialist revolution. In orthodox communism, a peasant could never become a member of the: Communist Party. Marx in his Das Kapital has labelled him as the last citadel of capitalism, the 'petit bourgeois', because he owns his land, and he works on a piece of land. the produce: of which he enjoys, which is not the case in a factory.
Let us see what is the industrial context? That would help us to determine what an agrarian revolution, farmer's revolution would be like. In an industrial context, in a factory, there are three characteristics, three features. The first is, that there are a handful of masters and thousands of workers. The second feature is, that those who work, do not work for themselves, they work for others. And when a man works for others he shirks work, he stops work. Because it does not do any harm to him. The loss is of the employer.
Suppose I am a professor in a college, and I join a strike. I come home and teach my grandson. The grandson asks me, "You are on strike. Why do you then teach me?" I tell him- "I teach you because this is my own work, I can strike where I do not do my own work." So strike is a weapon which is effective when you do another man's work.
The third characteristic of a factory is that all labourers work in the same campus, in the same compound. Their organisation is easy. They can over whelm the masters, the employers, because they preponderate in numbers. They can stop work. That is why the Marxist revolution was conceived in an industrial context. Rut Lenin had to invent, develop a separate technique, and Mao was more original. He has written, "If ten marks be allocated to the whole revolution, seven marks will go to the farmer, the peasants." But had these peasants any knowledge of this revolution? Did they know about it? When, after the Long March, and after Mao's victory, his soldiers marched into Peking, they ran towards the electric bulb to light their cigarettes. They were so ignorant. Though unlettered, not being men of letters, they were men of sense. They knew what they wanted: they had that revolutionary consciousness. So, in an agrarian revolution, there are three things which are just opposite to the proletarian revolution in an industrial context. The first is, that in an agricultural context the small owner is in greater number; the non-owner, that is the landless labourer is less numerous comparatively. Now, this small owner is the back-bone of all land-ownership, all peasant proprietorship.
There are three traditional methods of eliminating proprietorship and property. The first is, expropriation. The second is confiscation. The third is confiscation. But in this country, the small owner has the large number of votes, and he is in such large numbers that you cannot expropriate him without a civil war. So, expropriation is out of question. As for confiscation, the state cannot attach his land because he has the largest number of votes. He shall vote the government out of office. Taxation also is not possible for the same reason. It will not be passed by parliament. Then the only method remains is is 'voluntary abdication.'
Revolution, Mao said, is not a work of art, it is not a dinner party, it is not painting a portrait or writing a poem. Nor is it a work of embroidery. But I want to tell you in all seriousness that we want to develop revolution into a fine art. Then alone can cultural advance come in the wake of economic revolution.
Vinoba tried this, and after trying for some time gave it up. Revolution is much like a relay race. One horse takes you to a certain stage, and then you change it for another.
So, if the landless labour and the small owner join hands, the big owners shall be isolated, and the big owners will have left no strength to resist. This is the technique of revolution we will have to follow broadly, if we want to bring about a humanistic, a cultural, as well as an economic revolution, which will be one step further than the revolution in China.