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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section VII : Economic Ideas > Economics and Ethics


35. Economics and Ethics

The whole gamut of man’s activities today constitutes an indivisible whole. You cannot divide social, economic, political and purely religious work into watertight compartments. I do not know any religion apart from human activity.

Harijan, 24-12-38, p. 393


I must confess that I do not draw a sharp or any distinction between economics and ethics. Economies that hurts the moral well-being of a individual or a nation is immoral and, therefore, sinful. Thus the economics that permits one country to prey upon another is immoral.  It is sinful to buy and use articles made by ‘sweated labor’. It is sinful to eat American wheat and let my neighbor, the grain dealer, starve for want of customer. Similarly, it is sinful for me to wear the latest finery of Regent Street when I know that if I had but worn the things woven by the neighbouring spinners and weavers, that would have clothed me, and fed and clothed them.

Young India, 13-10-21, p. 325


True economics never militates against the highest ethical standard, just as all true ethics to be worth its name must at the same time be also good economics. An economics that inculcates Mammon worship, and enables the strong to amass wealth at the expense of the weak, is a false and dismal science. It spells death. True economics on the other hand, stands for social justice, it promotes the good of all equally including the weakest, and is indispensable for decent life.

Harijan, 9-10-37, p. 292


That economics is untrue which ignores or disregards moral values. The extension of the law of non-violence in the domain of economics means nothing less than the introduction of moral values as a factor to be considered in regulating international commerce.

Young India, 26-12-24, p. 421


I venture to think that the scriptures of the world are far safer and sounder treatises on laws of economics than many modern textbooks.

Mahatma, Vol. I, (1951), p. 238


You know how Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations, after laying down certain principles according to which economic phenomena are governed, went on to describe certain other things which constituted the ‘disturbing factor’ and prevented economic laws from having free play. Chief among these was the ‘human element’. Now it is this ‘human element’ on which the entire economics of Khadi rests; and human selfishness, Adam Smith’s ‘pure economic motive’, constitutes the ‘disturbing factor’ that has got to be overcome.

Harijan, 21-9-34, p. 253


Khaddar economics is wholly different from the ordinary. The latter takes no note of the human factor. The former wholly concerns itself with the human.

Harijan, 16-7-31, p. 181