Love and exclusive possession can never go together. Theoretically when there is perfect love, there must be perfect non-possession. The body is our last possession. So a man can only exercise perfect love and be completely dispossessed, if he is prepared to embrace death and renounce his body for the sake of human service. But that is true in theory only. In actual life, we can hardly exercise perfect love, for the body as a possession will always remain with us. Man will ever remain imperfect, and it will always be his part to try to be perfect. So that perfection in love or non-possession will remain an unattainable ideal as long as we are alive, but towards which we must ceaselessly strive.
Those who own money now, are
asked to behave like trustees holding their riches on behalf of the
poor. You may say that trusteeship is a legal fiction. But if
people meditate over it constantly and try to act up to it, then
life on earth would be governed far more by love than it is at
present. Absolute trusteeship is an abstraction like
Euclidís-definition of a point, and is equally unattainable. But if
we strive for it, we shall be able to go further in realizing a
state of equality on earth than by any other method.
Q. If you say that private possession
is incompatible with non-violence, why do you put up with it?
A. That is a concession one has to
make to those who earn money but who would not voluntarily use
their earnings for the benefit of the mankind.
Q. Why then not have State-ownership in place of private property and thus minimize violence?
A. It is better than private ownership. But that, too, is Objectionable on the ground of violence.
It is my firm conviction that if the State suppressed
capitalism by violence, it will be caught in the evils of
violence itself and fail to develop non-violence at any time. The
State represents violence in a concentrated and organized
form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is
soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which
it owes its very existence. Hence I prefer the doctrine of trusteeship.
Q. Let us come to a specific
instance. Suppose some artist leaves certain pictures to a son who does
not appreciate their value for the nation and sells them
or wastes them, so that the nation stands to lose something
precious through one personís folly. If you are assured that
the son would never be a trustee in the sense you would like
to have him, do you not think that the State would be
justified in taking away those things from him with the minimum use of violence?
A. Yes, the State will, as a matter of
fact, take away those things and I believe it will be justified if it
uses the minimum of violence. But the fear is always there
that the State may use too much violence against those who differ
from it. I would be very happy indeed if the people concerned
behaved as trustees; but if they fail, I believe we shall have to
deprive them of their possessions
through the State with the minimum exercise of
violence. That is why I said at the Round Table Conference that
every vested interest must be subjected to scrutiny, and
confiscation ordered where necessary with or without compensation as the case demanded.
What I would personally prefer would be not a centralization of power in
the hands of the State, but an extension of the sense of
trusteeship, as, in my opinion, the violence of private
ownership is less injurious than the violence of the State.
However, if it is unavoidable, I would support a minimum of State-ownership.
While admitting that man actually lives by habit, I hold that it is better for
him to live by the exercise of will. I also believe that men
are capable of developing their will to an extent that will
reduce exploitation to a minimum. I look upon an increase of
the power of the State with the greatest fear, because
although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it
does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality,
which lies at the root of all progress. We know of so
many cases where men have adopted trusteeship, but none
where the State has really lived for the poor.