Marxism Should have been Complemented by Eastern Relativism              

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

I was addressing a group of intellectuals on the subject that why Marxism could not take deep roots in the Indian society. I feel that the main reason for this was that most of the Indian Marxists did not deeply study the eastern philosophy and did not fully understand the difference between western Absolutism and eastern Relativism.

Marxism is a Eurocentric philosophy and not a universal philosophy. All the three major components of Marxism are European. These three are: British Economy, French Socialism and German Philosophy. However like all other European philosophies it has been passed on as a universal philosophy. The Indian Marxists should have complemented and enriched Marxism with the eastern philosophy, particularly with Relativism.

Relativism leads to Pluralism and makes us more tolerant of differences among us. In today’s globalized world tolerance toward diversity promotes peaceful coexistence and the reverse is also true. The Indian Marxists have mostly tried to mechanically impose Marxism on the Indian society without fully understanding peculiarities of the Indian society. This phenomenon makes it difficult for the Indian people to accept Marxism. Moreover, India is a multicultural and a multinational society. Such a society can only function smoothly with the principles of Relativism and pluralism and Absolutism is totally unsuitable for the Indian society.

Marx was deeply saddened by the dehumanization brought by the capitalist system. Human relations became the worst victim of capitalism. Love, affection and warmth of human relations have been replaced by cold calculations of a self centered and alienated man under the capitalist system. The previously very well respected professionals like doctors, attorneys, professors, scientists and priests all have become money making machines according to Marx.

Marx was deeply concerned by alienation of man from nature, society, family and himself (self alienation). The pain and the concern for alienation brought by capitalism was the main reason of Marx to put forward his theory of political economy to over throw capitalism. In the final analysis, Marx was a passionate, sincere and dedicated humanist.

I feel about 50% of Marx’s works is devoted to alienation of man and about 50% works are dedicated to political economy. Unfortunately Marxists, particularly the Indian Marxists have almost completely whitewashed the human aspect of Marx and reduced him only to an economist.  The Indian Marxists were never able to differentiate the western concept of religion from the eastern concept of Dharma. They mechanically translated religion to dharma.

Religion is a path followed by a group of people whereas dharma is universal. Dharma has many dimensions such as righteousness, duty, ethics, morality, nature and discipline etc. None of the western languages have an equivalent word for dharma. Therefore, translating religion to dharma shows a complete lack of understanding of the eastern philosophy. Moreover, this also shows a tendency toward Absolutism whereas explaining the differences between religion and dharma means to uphold the concepts of Relativism and Pluralism.

The Indian Marxists should have explained to the world that the eastern philosophy has the solution for the problem of alienation which pained Marx. Self realization is the remedy for alienation. According to Sri Guru Granth Sahib the zenith of the eastern philosophy, a person who realizes his true self unites with the whole universe because the universal reality is contained in each one of us in a micro form.

The lack of any deep understanding of the eastern philosophy by the Indian Marxists has not only made it difficult for Marxism to take roots in the Indian society but has also deprived them of a great opportunity to fuse the good and healthy elements of the eastern and the western philosophies. The Indian Marxists should Indianize Marxism and enrich Marxism with the sound concepts of the east. If western Absolutism is balanced by eastern Relativism, the world can be a better place for both the east and the west.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.


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