By Jambavan Das
Jambavan Das is a Sanskrit translator and expert in Gaudiya Vaishnava theology. He is a public speaker and has been a missionary and active member with ISKCON for more than 15 years. He is also a professional financial advisor. He is presently working on a translation of the Vishnu Purana.
Although possessing the noble-minded purpose of promoting Egalitarianism, the economic system of Communism would fail to bring about equality among men in any nation in which it was implemented. The reason for this shortcoming on the part of Communism is due to its inability to abolish greed from the hearts of men. The only way by which greed can be eradicated is by providing men with an inner sense of fulfillment. This can be achieved only when men of all social classes recognize the true proprietor of all resources-God-and serve His interests.
Nearly a century ago in Russia, the oppressed found solace in the words of Karl Marx. These words were not simply the theoretical musings of a philosopher, these were words which heard the cries of the downtrodden-carrying with them the hope of a greater tomorrow, if only the powerless would band together and take hold of their destiny. Moved by this call for action, the weak rose up to topple their oppressors-opening for them a door to a greater tomorrow. Their victory offered them a future filled with the promise of equality and opportunity, a future that otherwise would have only offered subjugation and tyranny. However, as fate would have it, this was not to be. The new government that emerged after the October Revolution was ironically not to be the source of liberation and freedom for its people. Rather, this revolution would become the instrument of incarceration and oppression for the very people who gave it life. So it was that a great horror lodged itself in the hearts of the people of that nation. In tearing down their oppressors, the Russian peasants and workers had only replaced them with a power even crueler than the last. This power, which had once held the promise of prosperity for the common good, would now only offer destitution as it crushed the hearts of the meek with its iron fist, divesting them of not only their most basic God-given rights as humans-but even their God Himself!
Over the next half a century, the tragic scenario which had transpired in the aftermath of the October Revolution would be repeated again and again all throughout the world, as one nation after another fell to a Communist regime. By the end of the century, over two dozen countries on several different continents would swear allegiance to Karl Marx’s manifesto. The Communist revolutions within these countries would lay waste to dozens of economies, needlessly taking the lives of thousands of people, and robbing millions of their basic human rights. All of this was to take place on the basis of spreading a “classless” society, where the tenants of equality and freedom would take the shape of a government that would promote the greater good for all. Yet history showed us that nothing could be further from the truth.
Upon examination, one cannot help but marvel at such a devastating chain of events and wonder with amazement as to how such a laudable doctrine could give rise to such misfortune. It goes without saying that we would question the efficacy and practicality of such a system of government. Yet in all fairness, the form of government known as “Communism” never took hold within any country on this planet. While it is true that a semblance of such an ideology, swearing allegiance to the precepts of Karl Marx, may have dominated the economic and political policies of several nations over the past century, there has never been even a solitary country which could claim to have implemented the German philosopher’s creed in its pure form.
The reason for this is quite simple-greed. The inherent greed within the heart of man makes it impossible for him to ever truly institute the ideal of a “classless” society. Unless greed is purged from the heart, in the course of time one man or another will rise up to dominate and exploit another. After all, even though one may advocate the doctrine of egalitarianism with one’s lips, it has no meaning if it is not truly felt within one’s heart. Such an empty display of rhetoric will never bring about a beneficial change for society. The only thing that will change is one form of government for another, and with it the ascension of yet another oppressor. Before we once again enact this repulsive charade of so-called “revolution” at the expense of innocent lives, we should raise the question as to how we can factually change the hearts of men to bring about true peace and prosperity for society. This is a noble effort that is worth pursuing-a revolution in consciousness. For this is what will truly bring about harmony amongst all people.
Unfortunately, the doctrine of Communism cannot achieve this, for the ideology of dialectical materialism only pertains to the body and not the very essence of a man, which is the soul. It is only that which is spiritual that will be able to provide sustenance for the spirit of man and not the fulfillment of his material desires. Even if it was in our power to distribute the resources of this planet evenly to all human beings (and that is an impossible task for any form of government) it would never bring about inner peace. That sense of satisfaction must come from within, from our true being, not from the ephemeral pleasures of this world. This is evident throughout the whole of history, for in it we see that all of those who have fallen under the spell of such madness, endeavoring until their dying breath to satisfy their limitless desires, have found it impossible not to encroach upon the allotment of another for their own satisfaction. Thus, unrestrained greed has given rise to quarrel among people, clans, social classes, and nations, as they desperately struggle to fulfill their unlimited desires with the limited resources of this world.
Looking throughout all of history we can see that this economic conflict has been an ongoing reality for human society since the dawn of time-people engaged in a bitter struggle over scant resources-although they may disguise their conflicts as being religious, moral, etc. We are fools to think that in our limited capacity as human beings we will be able to suddenly institute a form of government that is going to end this struggle. The only thing we as individuals have the power to change is ourselves. By each of us reconnecting with the Supreme Spirit and finding sustenance in Him, we will experience a deep joy that will lead to the abatement of material desires and thus all human beings, regardless of class, creed, gender, nationality, or race, will be able to co-exist peacefully without the undue hostility that is the result of insatiated greed. This is what will truly bring about happiness for all mankind and not the futile endeavor to derive pleasure from the things of this world, for just as fire can never be satiated by any amount of fuel, greed can never be abated through the greatest of indulgences.
If all of us are actually sincere in our desire to bring about peace in human society then we must admit that all of the endeavors for amity among men, based on a material platform, have been complete failures. Sadly we can see that all of the political maneuverings amongst human beings, based on the false identification with the body, have been the cause of so much sorrow and grief, as one man fights with another, drawing allegiances to himself on account of his temporary bodily and mental designations. Such attempts at peace have only resulted in hostility and war. Is it not time to take a new approach, an approach that has as its basis a truly unifying and uplifting message in which all men can mutually benefit and will lead none to perish?
Let us abandon the fruitless political endeavors of the past and let us strive for the true form of Communism; one which recognizes the ultimate proprietor of all resources-God-not any temporary nation demarcated by drawing lines in sand. And let us all realize the true brotherhood of man based on our relationship with our eternal father, without concern for the impermanent characteristics of our material body. When this is factually done, not superficially, then the perpetual struggle for limited resources will come to an end as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat join hands in peace as they work together to serve the interest of the Supreme Lord, perfectly satisfied by working according to the dictates of their natural proclivities and utilizing their inherent skills. This will be the true birth of peace and prosperity, and the death of revolution and destitution