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Beyond Sustainable Economy: Catalin Mamali

Published: 08.08.2017

Romanian philosopher, psychologist and general social scientist

Dr. Catalin Mamali, a, is unique in working on Gandhi at all three levels: the Gandhi of public space, known to us all from his public experiments with truth, the private Gandhi, known only to family and friends, and revealed to others through notes and correspondence and many books, and then the inner Gandhi, the Gandhi of the spiritual journey. To follow the philosopher-psychologist training of Mamali, so far mainly seen in Erik H. Erikson's Gandhi's Truth, is very useful. Mamali's exploration is the best rebuttal of Erikson's psychologizing of Gandhi so far – as concluding that Erikson's book tells more about Erikson's childhood problems than those of Gandhi. And, I may add, could Erikson's denigration of Gandhi also be a cry of despair: "... if the Jews of Europe were unable to find an alternative to violent resistance, then nobody else should have any claim on that kind of Truth.

And yet, in February 1943, in Rosenstrasse in Berlin, German wives of Jews to be exterminated managed, nonviolently, to have their husbands liberated by the thousands (see my The Way is the Goal: Gandhi Today, 1993, pp. 45-46). Imagine Gandhi's Truth, as told by Mamali, or by Gandhi!, had been better known in those dark days.

Mamali's book has one organizing axis a comparison of Gandhi with Machiavelli, for understanding both of them better, as each other's contrast, dialectionally – not to end up telling the reader whom he should follow. Interestingly, they were both fighting for freedom of their lands. But to Machiavelli such giant tasks accrued to the Prince. To Gandhi the liberation could only be done by those who should be liberated; the people, not the way Machiavelli (and the Marxist tradition) saw them, as "masses," as superficial admirers of success: hence to be led by feeding them with successes. As a social psychologist Mamali then hitches on to the US social psychologist Richard Christie's work on Machiavelli, developing an attitude scale on Machiavellianism.

In his book The Gandhian Mode of Becoming, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, 1998, Dr. Catalin Mamali adds to the "simple list" of comparison terms - Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Martin Luther, Thoreau, Ruskin, Tolstoy, Steiner, Marx, Tagore, Freud, Mao, Lenin, Savarkar, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa - one more frame of reference: Niccolo Machiavelli. A special feature for a book on Gandhi published in India may be also the large number of Romanian authors in bibliography: Badina O, Blaga L, Botez M, Brucan S, Constante L, Draghicescu M, Eliade M, Gusti D, Herseni T, Ierunca V, Istrati P, Mamali C, Neculau A, Preda M, Zapan G.

Some quotes:

"As a thinker and practitioner of politics, Machiavelli had a profound influence on European political life. Seeking power through any means was the major principle of his philosophy. As against this Gandhi preached and practiced ethical principles of purity of means for attaining his objectives. One can hardly imagine two completely opposite view points and their paths of life. (Govindbhai Raval, Vice Chancellor, in "Foreword")

Mamali's book has one organizing axis: a comparison of Gandhi with Machiavelli. This leads to understanding both of them better, as each other's contrast, dialectionally – not to end up telling the reader whom he should follow.

Interestingly, Both Gandhi and Machiavelli were fighting for freedom of their countries. But to Machiavelli such giant tasks accrued to the Prince. To Gandhi the liberation could only be done by those who should be liberated; the people, not the way Machiavelli (and the Marxist tradition) saw them, as "masses," as superficial admirers of success, and hence to be led by feeding them with successes." (Johan Galtung in "Introduction").

The Gandhian answer to violence cannot be separated from the Gandhian way to cope with the dialectics of a number of tensions as those between

  • inner forces and exterior forces (Where could meaningful change be originated?);
  • individual responsibility and action on one hand and societal structures and trends on the other (Which is the relationship between structural social actors and individual actors?);
  • means and ends (What kind of goals could be achieved by what kind of means?);
  • religion and politics (which is the relationship between the religious values and norms and the political values and norms? Should politics govern the religious life or should the religious values enter into the life of political institutions?);
  • the normative (the ought to be) approach to human problems and the realistic, practical approach to them (How should one behave when reality, for instance that of human relationships, is in contradiction to the normative script?);
  • thought, speech, and action (Which is the most efficient relationship among these major components within the human becoming?);
  • self-realization and community growth (Which are the minimal requirements for a good relationship between these two processes?);
  • local harmony and universal harmony. (p.7)

At the end the author puts a list of the 140 Gandhian statements, of which we present a selection here:

1.      It is impossible to detach, to separate the ends from the means.

6.      Any economy ignoring moral values is ultimately wicked and artificial.

8.      The individual entrusted with a public mission should by no means accept valuable presents.

20.    Any person willing to act in support of social welfare should never depend on public charity.

21.    Only when a person is able to look at his/her own errors through a magnifying glass and at the others' through a minimizing one, is he/she capable to correctly evaluate his/her and the others' mistakes.

27.    Only through non-violence can truth be attained.

42.    Centralization as a system is improper for the non-violent functioning, and organization of the society. It is hard to achieve a non-violent society within centralized systems.

44.    A public servant should never further personal interests through his position.

47.    Most of the people would rather forget their own father's death than the loss of their fortunes.

50.    Not to admit and to detest your enemies' mistakes should never rule out compassion and even love for them. The means should be in harmony with the purpose.

53.    In my opinion the help to those in need should be granted out of pleasure and not out of obligation.

67.    It is altogether difficult for a person living in dire poverty to achieve his moral development.        Those who accomplish it in such strained circumstances are people of extraordinary ability.

73.    Bad means cannot help attain good ends.

76.    The lust for riches when resources are limited inevitably generates competition and violence both at the individual and the collective level.

80.    I think it is well and proper that all people consume as much as possible, indigenous goods.

82.    When very many people live in poverty, the others should refuse what millions of people cannot afford.

90.    In my opinion any person who eats the fruits of the earth without sharing them with the others and who is of no use to the others is a thief.

93.    I think that a primary sacrifice should be an act mostly conducive to the welfare of the largest number of people, in the largest area, and which can be accomplished with the least difficulties and troubles by the largest number of people.

96.    Non-violence is indispensable to genuine economic development.

98.    I think only evil should be hated not evil-doers even when I could be the victim.

99.    In my opinion a person should never use friendship to gain favors.

110. I think everyone should be in control of his/her appetite and eat only what is necessary to him/her.

112.  I think that the most efficient means to have justice done is to do justice to my own enemy.

114.  When many people live in dire poverty, it is of utmost importance to cultivate in all of us the mental attitude of not boasting objects and appliances which are denied to millions of people, and, consequently, to reorganize our lives in keeping with this mentality as fast as possible.

120.  I think that each and every person should give up the desires to possession of as many things as possible.

124.  Individuals should primarily use goods produced by indigenous economy.

129.  If one is truly dedicated to non-violence (ahimsa) he/she must be prepared to die

without killing.


Title: Beyond Sustainable Economy
Author: Dr. Rudi Jansma, Dr. Sushma Singhvi
Publisher: Prakrit Bharati Academy

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahimsa
  2. Ahmedabad
  3. Berlin
  4. Buddha
  5. Gandhi
  6. Gujarat
  7. Non-violence
  8. Socrates
  9. Space
  10. Tagore
  11. Violence
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