Eagle's Eye: Economics Of Non-Violence & Peace

Published: 07.02.2008
Updated: 10.11.2008

Central Chronicle

Thursday February 7, 2008

Economics Of Non-Violence & Peace

The objective of Modern Economics is not peace; nor is non- violence. Its goal is economic prosperity. It aims at certain objectives. It aims at everyone becoming rich - nobody to remain poor while man's primary needs are satisfied. It also wants that he acquire large resources.

Modern Economics does not, however, stop there. In order to fulfil the objective of pervasive prosperity, it also expects that desires, needs and production are expanded, and as a consequence thereof, it is accepted that greed should be promoted.

The strategy goal of communism has been to grab power, which should be rested in the hands of the economically weaker, backward or the working class. However, no proper consideration is given on how it is achieved. The purity of means does not matter at all. If power comes through fair means, well and good; however if it does not come through fair means, then it has to be acquired through any means.

Modern Economics too has the same approach. What matters to it is that prosperity is enhanced. And to acquire greater prosperity, greed and competition are the prerequisites. The expanding greed presupposes expanded needs, which call for expanding production. This, in turn, requires higher economic growth. Economic growth calls for competition. In this context, peace and non-violence are relegated to a secondary position. It can be easily admitted that the question of peace is not primary to Economics. Dr. Marshall and other economists who followed him have conceded that, while the question of morality may also be considered, morality was not an imperative. Keynes said: When we become prosperous economically, then alone will arise the occasion to think about morality. The present is no proper time for that. Whatever is wrong today might also be useful at the moment. Economics is based on the concept of utility and, therefore, it does not consider there is anything wrong in that. What is useful is right and is desirable, it is maintained.

This then is the point of view of today's Economics. The question that emerges is, what was the view of Mahavira? Let us first discuss the Gandhian view before talking about Mahavira. Mahatma Gandhi opposed certain aspects of communism. He opposed in particular two aspects, industrialism and concentration. He said that concentration of power and of capital tends to increase violence. Wherever power and capital get concentrated in the hands of a few, problems arise. This view of Gandhiji has come wholly true. Wherever concentration of power and capital took place, violence has intensified. Gandhiji made another vital point. Any government, the foundation of which is based on violence, cannot survive. Communism would also not survive. Gandhiji's forecast made a few decades ago has turned out to be true. Based on violence, nothing can remain enduring. It is for a similar reason that he opposed industrialism. Industrialism, in its ultimate analysis, is only a variation of economic slavery; it is one of its synonyms. As industries become centralized, economic slavery will prevail. This will lead to exploitation. Exploitation would not be limited to one country but it will extend to exploitation of one nation by another. The nation with increased industrial capacity will use that power to exploit other nations.

With industrialism two other things go together: Power, and exploitation through power and violence. Where industrialism gets a free hand, the problems of conflict and war are also created. In opposing industrialism, therefore, Mahatma Gandhi called for decentralized industry; in opposing concentration of capital, he advocated dispersal of capital and trusteeship. This really means that Gandhiji propounded non-violence and peace. Let us now proceed towards Mahavira. The main issues before Mahavira were those of self-control, peace and non- violence. He maintained that where self-restraint and peace prevail non-violence is also ensured. Economics is moored in the fulfilment of wants. What is aimed at is that the people should be able to satisfy their wants. Satisfaction and enjoyment have remained the main targets of Economics. Hedonism has been a philosophical concept. In the West, a considerable amount of thinking has been devoted to the hedonistic point of view. That point of view has been prevalent in India too. But along with that, there has also been another point of view and that is happiness. Happiness is attainable. But it is somehow not achieved.

To Mahavira, the question of satisfaction and comfort was secondary; the question of peace was primary. When the objective of peace becomes primary, the whole approach changes. When peace is primary, the purity of means also gains supremacy. Mahavira did not prescribe abrogation of all possessions for a normal family, since it was not a practical proposition. How could a religious preacher talk impossible things? From the point of view of anekanta, he prescribed a middle course a societal person cannot give up all but he should control desires and consider purity of means in earning his income and wealth.

Central Chronicle, by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg.
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekanta
  2. Central Chronicle
  3. Concentration
  4. Economics Of Non-Violence
  5. Gandhiji
  6. Greed
  7. Lalit Garg
  8. Mahatma
  9. Mahatma Gandhi
  10. Non-violence
  11. Violence
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