Supposing I have come by a fair amount of wealth either by way of legacy, or
by means of trade and industry, I must know that all that wealth does not
belong to me, what belongs to me is the right to an honourable livelihood,
no better than that enjoyed by millions of others. The rest of my wealth
belongs to the community and must be used for the welfare of the community.
I enunciated this theory when the Socialist theory was placed before the
country in respect to the possessions held by zamindars and ruling chiefs.
They would do away with these privileged classes. I want them to outgrow
their greed and sense of possession, and to come down in spite of their
wealth to the level of those who earn their bread by labour. The labourer
has to realize that the wealthy man is less owner of his wealth than the
labourer is owner of his own, viz. the power to work.
The question how many can be real trustees according to this definition is
beside the point. If the theory is true, it is immaterial whether many live
up to it or only one man lives up to it. The question is of conviction. If
you accept the principle of Ahimsa, you have to strive to live up to it, no
matter whether you succeed or fail. There is nothing in this theory which
can be said to be beyond the grasp of intellect, though you may say it is
difficult of practice.
H., 3-6-’39, p.145
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 Euclid's 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. ... It is
my firm conviction that if the State suppressed capitalism by violence, it
will be caught in the coils 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 a
soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its
very existence. Hence I prefer the doctrine of trusteeship. 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.
Modern Review, 1935, p.412
It has become the fashion these days to say that society cannot be organized
or run on non-violent lines. I join issue on that point. In a family, when
the father slaps his delinquent child, the latter does not think of
retaliating. He obeys his father not because of the deterrent effect of the
slap but because of the offended love which he senses behind it. That in my
opinion is an epitome of the way in which society is or should be governed.
What is true of the family must be true of society which is but a larger
H., 3-12-’38, p.358
I hold that non-violence is not merely a personal virtue. It is also a
social virtue to be cultivated like the other virtues. Surely society is
largely regulated by the expression of non-violence in its mutual dealings.
What I ask for is an extension of it on a larger, national and international
H., 7-1-’39, p.417
My theory of 'trusteeship' is no make-shift, certainly no camouflage. I am
confident that it will survive all other theories. It has the sanction of
philosophy and religion behind it. That possessors of wealth have not acted
up to the theory does not prove its falsity; it proves the weakness of the
wealthy. No other theory is compatible with nonviolence. In the non-violent
method the wrongdoer compasses his own end, if he does not undo the wrong.
For, either through non-violent non-co-operation he is made to see the
error, or he finds himself completely isolated.
H., 16-12-’39, p.376
I have no hesitation in endorsing the opinion that generally rich men and
for that matter most men are not particular as to the way they make money.
In the application of the method of non-violence, one must believe in the
possibility of every person, however, depraved, being reformed under humane
and skilled treatment. We must appeal to the good in human beings and expect
response. Is it not conducive to the wellbeing of society that every member
uses all his talents, only not for personal aggrandizement but for the good
of all? We do not want to produce a dead equality where every person becomes
or is rendered incapable of using his ability to the utmost possible
extent. Such a society must ultimately perish. I therefore suggest that my
advice that moneyed men may earn their crores (honestly only, of course) but
so as to dedicate them to the service of ail is perfectly sound. “तेन
is a mantra based on uncommon knowledge. It is the surest method to evolve a
new order of life of universal benefit in the place of the present one where
each one lives for himself without regard to what happens to his neighbour.
H., 22-2-’42, p.49