Growth of Socialist, Communist, Capitalist ideas, their forms and effect on the society

Growth of Socialist, Communist, Capitalist ideas, their forms and effect on the society

Socialism and communism in India

The ‘Indian Renaissance’ of the second half of the 19th century gave rise to certain national ideals including democracy, a broad form of Socialism, nonviolence, anti-imperialism, anti-racialism, Asianism and cooperative internationalism. Influenced to a greater extent by Western political and economic thought these ideals, consummated in the Indian national movement for independence and gave the Indian people a certain autonomy in political thinking and a world outlook which fitted neither with that of the western countries nor that of the Communist bloc. The revolution against western democracy came largely out of the feeling that the capitalist economic system which was associated with it was responsible for the imperialistic exploitation of the colonial people as well as the domestic population. There was no articulate theorizing among the Indian national leaders on imperialism along Marxist-Leninist lines; but there was the vague feeling that the politicoeconomic system represented by traditional western democracy was responsible for inequality, exploitation and imperialism.

It was this strong reaction against the western politico-economic tradition that was mainly responsible for a relatively favourable attitude among the Indian national leaders, the nationalist press, the workers; peasants and youth movements, towards the Russian Revolution in the early phase. But the realization soon dawned on the nationalist Indian leadership, press and public opinion that the Russian Revolution and the politico-economic system which had come into existence as a result of it were utterly repugnant to the basic ideals of the Indian National movement, especially to those of non-violence, democracy, economic and social justice and cooperative internationalism.

The failure of the 1857 Mutiny further confirmed what had already been demonstrated earlier – the vast gulf which separated the vanquished from the victor in terms of material and social progress. India was defeated because she had lagged behind on account of her grave internal weaknesses. The lesson of the Mutiny was not lost on sensitive Indians nor on the Indian society as a whole.

New thinkers and reformers had appeared who advocated the necessity of the replacement of the capitalist society by a ‘just society’, a socialist society. The most important of them was Marx who had emerged at the most formidable critic of the new industrialcapitalist society and as the philosopher of Socialism. He had presented for the first time in 1848 a full statement of ‘scientific socialism’ in his Communist Manifesto.

This statement had been exercising a tremendous impact on sensitive minds in different parts of the world. In the countries where the new industrial society had already taken firm root, this doctrine had become the inspirer of working class movements with more well-defined, anti-capitalist aims and with greater confidence in justice and victory of their cause. In the other types of countries like Russia which were still far behind the west; but were in the process of making a transition to the new type of society, this doctrine had led to sharp questioning whether it was at all desirable or necessary to go the west European way. Thus Russia had become the centre of a powerful revolutionary movement of workers and peasants committed to the goal of Socialism.

In 1917 occurred the socialist revolution and the capture of power by the socialist revolutionaries under the leadership of Lenin who initiated the reconstruction of an economic and social order on non-capitalist lines.13 In the third group of countries like India which were under colonial domination, these historical developments both in west Europe and Russia made a tremendous impact in two ways. The Russian Revolution first of all demonstrated that an oppressive and tyrannical regime could be overthrown by the common, ordinary people if they were awakened and organised. The Revolution also posed and answered another question which was most pertinent to the Indian situation.

Within the country, Gandhi emerged on the crest of the new urge for anti-British resistance and the wave of anti-Westernism. There was never perhaps a more complex and puzzling figure in Indian history who was at once both backward-looking and forward-looking and the creator as well as the container of a vast revolutionary ferment. It was the merit of Gandhi that he evolved a form of resistance against the British which transgressed the limits of constitutionalism accepted by the early nationalists and which drew vast millions into the fold of the freedom struggle.14 He brought about a shift in the social base of the nationalist movement from the urban middle classes to the village-dwelling peasantry and in the focus of the nationalist cause from the richer classes to the poor classes. In sharp contrast to the early nationalists, an outstanding feature of Gandhi’s political personality was his ability to communicate with the common people of India in a language which was intelligible to them.

Growth of capital ideas

In the early part of the modern period, the economic activities were generally regulated by the governing powers. It was an economic reflection of the growing unification of European peoples under strong monarchical Governments. The interest of the secular rulers lay in internal unification and this necessarily meant economic as well as political integration.

The mercantilist ideology dominated the period. The economic activities of the people were politically regulated to increase the profits of the king and to fill his treasury with wealth. The nation was looked upon by the mercantilist as an economic organisation engaged in the making of profit. The ownership and use of productive properties were minutely regulated by mercantilist’s law.

Then came the Industrial Revolution which changed the techniques of production. The policy of mercantilism also had failed to bring about the welfare of the people. To secure maximum production of usual goods the new do “trine of ‘Laissez- faire’ was propounded. The doctrine preached non- interference in economic matters.  According to this doctrine, if individuals pursue their own interest, unhampered by restriction; they will achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Its advocates, Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, Spencer and Sumner contended that Government should remove all legal restrictions on trade, on production, on the exchange of wealth and on the accumulation of property.

Large plants in -course of time were set. Corporations owning large plants came into being. All these developments of mass production, division of labour, specialization, and exchange were accompanied by capitalism. In this new system of production and exchange, the ownership of productive properties was both individualized and divested of all social responsibility.



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