There will always be economic inequalities in any society. Why? Quite simply because there are incredibly huge differences among people’s outlook on life, the importance they attach to wealth, their ambitions, their good and bad habits, the social pressures they experience … and so on and on.
Dreaming of an ideal society in which there are no economic inequalities is therefore being naive, foolish – or both! The dream does not match reality.
So then what does a person do? Does one simply sit with folded hands and shed tears that the world is not constructed according to one’s ideals?
Ideals are no more than mental constructs. No human being in the long history of mankind has been able to impose his or her mental constructs on reality. The benefits of impositions are short-lived and illusory. Any intelligent person with some experience of real life should understand this fact.
No. That is not a workable strategy.
At the same time, however, extreme deprivation and misery are blots on a human society. These must be alleviated. A reasonable and achievable goal for a society should be the alleviation of extreme deprivation and misery. Rather tragically, however, by making unachievable economic equality the goal, a society misses that which is achievable, sensible and morally right.
A huge opportunity cost is paid for thus picking the wrong goals.
But intelligent people do chase “revolutionary” ideals, don’t they? What are the possible motivations behind an intelligent person behaving thus?
In particular, why would an otherwise intelligent person opt for “Marxist revolutionary” ideals which prescribe “class conflict” – ideals which are in any case unachievable, even after long and costly conflicts? In the latter part of the last century, USSR paid a huge price for blindly following Marxist ideology. Today, another large country is proudly proclaiming its adherence to Marxist ideology. Time will reveal the inevitable outcome in that country.
Traditional Indian wisdom, time-tested over millennia, says that craving, aversion and illusion are at the root of wrong choices – and therefore failure. It seems that most Marxists – being unaware of this precious truth – choose to follow Marxist ideology from a mix of craving, aversion and illusion.
A few specific likely motivating causes – born of craving, aversion and illusion – are listed here. The reader is invited to contribute more!
Desire for political power
A person may chase political power for (1) personal or family gain, (2) “showing people” forcefully how to run their lives, or (3) genuinely helping people through difficult situations.
When following blindly the Marxist ideology, however, the third of these possibilities fades into the background. So the most likely combination is a toxic mix of (1) and (2) – personal or family gain and dictatorial tendency.
Hatred of the well-off
It is indeed difficult not to feel perplexed or even irritated by the way in which extremely wealthy people and their sycophants live and behave. They live as though they do not even belong to the society which is in fact sustaining them. This is an ugly facet of present-day as well as historical human reality.
In Marxist ideologues, however, this natural perplexity and irritation seem to turn to intense hatred. The ideologues do not seem to understand that any course of action rooted in hatred cannot bring about happy results.
When a person blindly follows another person’s prescription in life, durably good results cannot follow. No doubt short term gains may be possible, but they are soon reversed. The intellectually lazy may gang together to appear more fashionable, engage in superficial debates, drink coffee and smoke in coffee houses, quote Marx, dream of gaining political power … and so on. A heady but false sense of camaraderie hovers over their gatherings.
Underneath that all, however, is intellectual laziness – or even dishonesty.
Overpowering desire to do good
An ideologue may indeed be motivated by a strong desire to do good. No doubt a desire to do good should always be appreciated. However, in the absence of self-knowledge – and especially when blended with intellectual laziness – this desire leads only to dogma, frustration and negativity.
Usually, your average Marxist with a strong desire to do good is not a clear thinking individual. All said and done, he or she must follow the “party line” laid down by hardened, cunning “ideologues”.
The example of Siddharth Gautam is relevant here. After he left the palace at the age of twenty nine, it took six years of intense and arduous struggle for him to finally discover how to alleviate human suffering.
Suffering cannot be alleviated without compassion, a crucial point which Marx and all his followers have missed.
Confusion and fatal attraction
In late teens and young adulthood, many persons go through a phase of uncertainty and confusion, as they seek a direction in life. The image of apparently very intelligent and committed “party leaders” pronouncing on weighty issues makes a strong impression on the impressionable young.
To swell their party cadres, cynical party leaders are quick to exploit the confusion and the fatal attraction. Within the cadres, however, there is more confusion than clarity, and therefore durably good results do not follow.
At the stage in life when young persons need compassionate but firm mentoring, they are instead exploited cynically. This is a tragedy of super-epic proportions, which plays havoc with a society’s future.
[Reportedly, Mao used to have nubile young girls sent to him on a regular basis to satisfy his sex drive. Quite possibly, every such young girl was told that it was an incredibly great communist honour for her to be chosen by the great personage for such a noble purpose. Today Mao’s historical contribution to his society is being re-assessed.]