In2-MeC

newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

ISKCON Chowpatti, Mumbai, Maharastra, India
29 April 2004

For me, the article that follows--The Death of Socialism--which I found on the Internet, sheds excellent light upon the mind-set behind not only the specific European doctrine of socialism, but also the general obsession with social issues, the obsession of the type that we can even see in ISKCON. This mind-set is a thing I've had to deal with repeatedly in my years in ISKCON, particularly during the nine years (1977-1986) I served in the zone of Harikesa Swami.

In my opinion Harikesa resembled, in at least one important way, a socialist of the classical school. Like Rousseau (whom I've written about before in In2-MeC, and who is mentioned below), Harikesa wanted independence for himself and socialism for everyone else. In 1996, while I was chairman of the GBC, he proposed that the GBC Body be reorganized along a "varnasrama" scheme. . . "varnasrama" that was considerably flavored with Mother State socialistic values. In that proposal he offered a classification of each GBC member as either a brahmana or a ksatriya--but tellingly, he kept himself unclassified.

Harikesa has left ISKCON, but socialism didn't leave with him. Today's GBC Body exhibits certain socialistic tendencies that I am not comfortable with. To be honest, I am not, to begin with, comfortable with "social issues. "

I think that to stay away from social issues is appropriate for the sannyasa asrama. But in ISKCON, some sannyasis are very active in the societal problems of the movement; and a good number of non-sannyasi ISKCONians (brahmacaris/brahmacarinis and grhasta men and women) expect sannyasis to be managers and/or social authorities. I recall a question and answer period after a Sunday feast lecture in a temple where one of the ladies asked me to give my opinion about some ISKCON social issue that had just flared up in some Pamho. net conference. Knowing zero about this issue, I asked her, "Why do you want me to talk about this?" Her reply was, "You're the boss. " Meaning: "You're a sannyasi, so you're responsible for this society. "

Ha! Let me be up front about this: not only do I not see myself as a "boss" in ISKCON, I do not see myself as responsible in any way (even as a teacher or example-setter) for persons who are more absorbed in social problems and paradigms than they are in their own individual Krsna consciousness.

The vasudeve bhagavati verse (SB 1. 2. 7) teaches us that the evidence of advancement in Krsna consciousness is the appearance of jnana-vairagya in the individual. That's not to say that message of this verse is "anti-society. " Krsna conscious jnana-vairagya means yukta-vairagya, the expert yet detached use of matter in the Lord's service--which certainly includes the matter of social dynamics. But the vasudeve bhagavati verse is clearly aimed at the individual "unit" within Vedic society. The real business of that unit is to become renounced of social dependency through transcendental wisdom.

But within the GBC and other levels of ISKCON leadership one often hears that the individuals in ISKCON are "not very intelligent"--as I cited, day before yesterday, an ISKCON guru saying about a disciple. I recall a GBC man saying in a Mayapur meeting that ISKCON devotees in general do not come to conclusions that are based upon philosophy. They come to conclusions that are based upon rumor, gossip and politics. And so many on the GBC believe that their main duty is to direct the "mass" of devotees, since the mass is unable to intelligently direct itself.

It may very well be true that the mass of ISKCON devotees is not equipped to make intelligent decisions. But if it is not, it should be learning to do so. We should not remain outer-directed our whole lives long.

Look at the verse that precedes SB 1. 2. 7, and the verse that follows it. The context is unmistakable: that to merely follow the social formalities of varnasrama-dharma without atma-suprasidati--personal, individual spiritual satisfaction--is a waste of time. Verse 1. 2. 9 is likewise explicit. Dharmasya hi apavargasya: the goal of varnasrama-dharma occupational engagements is liberation only. Liberation is individual. This fact is made doubtless in SB 1. 15. 50. In the purport, Srila Prabhupada explains

When flying an airplane, one cannot take care of other planes. Everyone has to take care of his own plane, and if there is any danger, no other plane can help another in that condition. Similarly, at the end of life, when one has to go back home, back to Godhead, everyone has to take care of himself without help rendered by another.

That is why I wrote above:

not only do I not see myself as a "boss" in ISKCON, I do not see myself as responsible in any way (even as a teacher or example-setter) for persons who are more absorbed in social problems and paradigms than they are in their own individual Krsna consciousness.

I find that my individualistic viewpoint on "ISKCON social issues" is borne out by history. Devotees who suffer from mental agitation over perceived social injustices, inequalities, inconsistencies and so on in ISKCON have very likely ventured into a personal danger zone in their spiritual lives. The irony is that society--even if it is "reformed" (ah, that favorite old word!)--isn't, at the end of the day, going to be able to help them out of that danger zone.

I mentioned one "reform-conscious" sannyasi already. I could mention a good number more along with similarly "reform-conscious" brahmacaris/brahmacarinis and grhastas who, like Harikesa, are no longer members of ISKCON. Is that ISKCON's fault? I think that question is answered by the fact that these persons I'm thinking of maintain no reasonable standard of sadhana-bhakti in their personal lives now that they are "free" of "the corrupt institution. "

In the article that follows I've taken the liberty to render in bold  points that I think are important for our consideration. At the end of the essay I offer some comments on these points. Many of these comments are directly from Srila Prabhupada.

The Death of Socialism

by Roger Kimball

Those who dare to undertake the institution of a people must feel themselves capable, as it were, of changing human nature, of transforming each individual into a part of a much greater whole, of altering the constitution of man for the purpose of strengthening it.
--Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762

We are all socialists nowadays.
--Edward, Prince of Wales, 1895

The most important political event of the twentieth century is not the crisis of capitalism but the death of socialism.
--Irving Kristol, 1976

What is socialism? In part, it is optimism translated into a political program. Until he took up gardening, Candide was a sort of proto-socialist; his mentor Pangloss could have been one of socialisms founding philosophers. Socialism is also unselfishness embraced as an axiom: the gratifying emotion of unselfishness, experienced alternately as resentment against others and titillating satisfaction with oneself. The philosophy of Rousseau, which elevated what he called the "indescribably sweet" feeling of virtue into a political imperative, is socialism in ovo ["in the egg"]. "Man is born free," Rousseau famously exclaimed, "but is everywhere in chains. " That heart-stopping conundrum too thrilling to be corrected by mere experience is the fundamental motor of socialism. It is a motor fueled by this corollary: that the multitude unaccountably colludes in perpetuating its own bondage and must therefore be, in Rousseaus ominous phrase, "forced to be free. "

We owe the term "socialism" to some followers of Robert Owen, the nineteenth-century British industrialist who founded New Harmony, a short-lived utopian community on the banks of the Wabash in Indiana. Owens initial reception in America was impressive. In an 1825 address to Congress, Joshua Muravchik reports in Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism,[1] Owens audience included not only congressmen but also Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, President Monroe, and President-elect John Quincy Adams. Owen described to this august assemblage how his efforts to replace the "individual selfish system" with a "united social" system would bring forth a "new man" who was free from the grasping imperatives that had marred human nature from time immemorial. (And not only human nature: the utopian socialist Charles Fourier expected selfishness and cruelty to be obliterated from the animal kingdom as well: one day, he thought, even lions and whales would be domesticated. )

The starry-eyed aspect of socialist thinking did not preclude a large element of steel. As Muravchik points out, the French Revolution was "the manger" of socialism. It was then that the philosophy of Rousseau emerged from the pages of tracts and manifestos to strut across the bloody field of history. The architects of the revolution invoked Rousseau early and often as they set about the task of "changing human nature," of "altering the constitution of man for the purpose of strengthening it. "

This metamorphosis does not come easily. Human nature is a recalcitrant thing. It is embodied as much in persistent human institutions like the family and the church as in the human heart. All must be remade from the ground up if "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" are at last to be realized. Since history is little more than an accumulation of errors, history as hitherto known must be abolished. The past, a vast repository of injustice, is by definition the enemy. Accordingly, the revolutionists tossed out the Gregorian calendar and started again at Year One. They replaced the Genesis-inspired seven-day week with a ten-day cycle and rebaptized the months with names reflecting their new cult of nature: Brumaire (fog), Thermidor (heat), Vendmiare (wind), etc. A new religion was born, as imperious as it was jealous. It is significant that the socialist mentality is usually also an atheistic mentality, where atheism is understood not so much as the disbelief in God as the hatred of God--an attitude as precarious logically as it has been destructive in practice. There is an important sense in which religion as traditionally understood reconciles humanity to imperfection and to failure. Since the socialist sets out to abolish failure, traditional religion is worse than de trop: it is an impediment to perfection. ("Criticism of religion," Marx said, "is the prelude to all criticism. ") In 1793, the churches were closed to worship and ransacked for booty. The anti-clericalism that had been a prominent feature of revolutionary sentiment grew increasingly vicious. Muravchik describes so-called "revolutionary marriages" in which priests and nuns were tied together naked and drowned. Rousseau was always going on about establishing the "reign of virtue. " His far-seeing disciple Maximilien Robespierre spoke more frankly of "virtue and its emanation, terror. "

It is one of the great ironies of modern history that socialism, which promises a more humane, caring, and equitable society, has consistently delivered a more oppressive and mismanaged one. Socialisms motto--Muravchik optimistically offers it to us as socialisms epitaph--turns out to be: "If you build it, they will leave. "

If, one must add, they are allowed to leave. As Muravchik reminds us in this excellent survey of socialist personalities and socialist experiments, encouraging dissent is never high on a socialists agenda. The socialist pretends to have glimpsed paradise on earth. Those who decline the invitation to embrace the vision are not just ungrateful: they are traitors to the cause of human perfection. Dissent is therefore not mere disagreement but treachery. Treachery is properly met not with arguments but (as circumstances permit) the guillotine, the concentration camp, the purge.

In tracing socialisms phenomenal trajectory, Heaven on Earth tells the "story of mans most ambitious attempt to supplant religion with a doctrine about how life ought to be lived that claimed grounding in science rather than revelation. " It is, to say the least, a cautionary tale. Muravchik provides a devastating anatomy of the socialist dream--a dream that with clocklike regularity becomes a nightmare. If, as Muravchik suggests, socialism was "the most popular political idea ever invented," it is also undoubtedly the bloodiest. Of course, many who profess socialism are decent and humane people. And it is worth noting that socialism comes in mild as well as tyrannical versions. Muravchik, who was once a socialist himself, pays frequent homage to the generous impulses that lie behind some allotropes of the socialist enterprise. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that "regimes calling themselves socialist have murdered more than one hundred million people since 1917. " Why? Why is it that the more dogged the effort to achieve the announced goals of socialism, the more the outcome mocked the human ideals it proclaimed? And why is it that conservatives, who by and large have agreed with Samuel Johnson that "A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization," have regularly been demonized as uncaring brutes?

A large part of the answer lies in the intellectual dynamics of utopianism. Utopia is Greek for "nowhere": a made-up word for a make-believe place. The search for nowhere inevitably deprecates any and every somewhere. Socialism, which is based on incorrigible optimism about human nature, is a species of utopianism. It experiences the friction of reality as an intolerable brake on its expectations. "Utopians," the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski observed in The Death of Utopia Reconsidered, "once they attempt to convert their visions into practical proposals, come up with the most malignant project ever devised: they want to institutionalize fraternity, which is the surest way to totalitarian despotism. "

There was also the intervention of Marx. Intellectually, Marxism is the most highly developed--as well as the most influential and most murderous--form of socialism the world has seen. But Kolakowski is surely correct that Marxisms influence, far from depending on its alleged "scientific character," depends "almost entirely [on]. . . its prophetic, fantastic, and irrational elements. " Marxism says that as capitalist societies develop, most people are hounded into abject poverty while a tiny coterie of capitalists thrive. This scenario is presented, la Hegel, as a "dialectical" inevitability. But in fact capitalism has always made societies richer, much richer. Capitalists get rich, and workers become more prosperous than their grandparents could have ever imagined possible.

Whether or not this is a necessary concomitant of market forces, it is an historical fact. The curious thing is that this phenomenon, which any dispassionate observer might count as a refutation, leaves the true-believing Marxist entirely unruffled. Whatever else one can say about it, Marxism is surely one of the most impervious systems of thought ever devised. It is also one of the most protean. It has always, as Kolakowski notes, been able to change "content from one situation to another and [crossbreed] with other ideological traditions. " In part, this is a testimony to its intellectual adaptability; in part, it is simple mendacity. As Marx himself explained in an 1857 letter to Friedrich Engels about an election prediction he had made, "Its possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way. "

Muravchik begins his account of the career of socialism with figures like Franois-Nol Babeuf and Sylvain Marchal, whose radical egalitarianism and endorsement of violence helped set the tone--and the murderous program--of the French Revolution. Marchal, who took to signing himself lHSD (lHomme Sans Dieu, the man without God), was above all an apostle of radical egalitarianism: equality understood not as a legal postulate but as an existential imperative. "If there is a single man on earth who is richer and more powerful than his fellows," he wrote, "then the equilibrium is broken: crime and misfortune are on earth. " It is imperative, Marchal said in his Manifesto of Equals, to "remove from every individual the hope of ever becoming richer, or more powerful, or more distinguished by his intelligence. " Tough work, that removal, but the promised rewards were great: really establish equality, Marchal argued, and the result would be "the disappearance of boundary marks, hedges, walls, door-locks, disputes, trials, thefts, murders, all crimes. . . courts, prisons, gallows, penalties, . . . envy, jealousy, insatiability, pride, deception, duplicity, in short all vices. " Of course, until that happy day arrives there will be plenty of "trials, thefts, murders, . . . courts, prisons, gallows, penalties" in order to hasten the institution of equality.

Babeuf, who called himself "Gracchus" Babeuf after the legendary Roman land reformer, also put radical equality at the center of his revolutionary program. Since nothing institutionalized inequality more than private property, he reasoned, private property and its distillate, money, must go. Babeuf looked forward to the "general overthrow of the system of private property" as an "inevitable" adjunct of revolution. "Society," he said, "must be made to operate in such a way that it eradicates once and for all the desire of a man to become richer, or wiser, or more powerful than others. " Like Marchal--like Robespierre whom he admired as a "regenerator" who "mow[ed] down all that impeded him--Babeuf (who also called himself "the Marat of the Somme") believed that "in order to govern judiciously it is necessary to terrorize the evilly disposed, the royalists, papists and starvers of the public. . . . [O]ne cannot govern democratically without this terrorism. " If the cost of paradise was unfortunately high, it was as nothing compared with the envisioned benefits. "I dont think it is impossible," Babeuf enthused to his wife, "that within a year, if we carry out our measures aright and act with all necessary prudence, we shall succeed in ensuring general happiness on earth. "

Today Babeuf is little more than a footnote to the history of tyranny. As with many extremists, the very extravagance of his pronouncements is implicitly taken as a license to dismiss him or deprecate his importance. What fundamentally challenges the status quo is defanged by the rhetoric of extremism: what is extreme is also exceptional, a special case, i. e. , not really threatening. But this line of reasoning misunderstands the threat posed by radicals like Babeuf. His extremism was not limited to acts perpetrated in the late eighteenth century. It lived on in the murderous socialist programs he helped to inspire. Babeufs importance in the history of socialism was underscored by Marx and Engels. In The Holy Family, their first work together, they fondly note that Babeufs attack on private property "gave rise to the communist idea. " (The essence of Communism, Marx correctly observed, can be summed up in a single phrase: the abolition of private property. ) Babeufs importance was reaffirmed in the founding manifesto of the Comintern in 1919, whose authors saw themselves as "the direct continuators of the heroic endeavors and martyrdom of a long line of revolutionary generations [starting] from Babeuf. " In our own day, the Frankfurt-school Marxist Herbert Marcuse has championed Babeufs thought as a tool to battle the seductive evils of advanced capitalism.

Muravchik ranges confidently through the history of socialism, neatly weaving biography, anecdote, and political commentary into a fascinating chronicle of disappointed idealism. A large part of Heaven on Earth is given over to the rise and eventual foundering of what we might call "soft socialism. " Muravchik patiently details the experiments of utopians like Robert Owen, Marxist reformers like Eduard Bernstein (a protg of Engels), the trade-union movements of Samuel Gompers and George Meany, and mid-twentieth-century redactions of the socialist impulse in Clement Attlees Labour government, Julius Nyereres Tanzania, and the Israeli kibbutz.

Perhaps his most illuminating pages are devoted to the careers of Mussolini and of Engels. We tend to think of fascism as the antithesis of socialism or Marxism. But as Muravchik reminds us, there are in fact deep continuities between them. Mussolini began as a disciple of Lenin and did not so much repudiate Marxism-Leninism as become a self-declared "heretic. " Thus one of Mussolinis groups of thugs called itself the Cheka, after Lenins secret police. As Muravchik observes, "However fierce they grew in their antipathy to communism, the fascists never ceased mimicking it, implicitly underscoring their claim to be the true or superior heirs to the same legacy. " (Something similar can be said of Hitler, whose party, after all, was called National Socialism. It is true that Hitler was adamantly anti-Communist; at the same time, he acknowledged that he had "learned a great deal from Marxism. ")

Most of us think of Engels as the junior partner in the conglomerate of Marxism, Inc. In some ways that perception is accurate. But Muravchik shows that Engelss contribution to the formation of Marxist doctrine was much larger than is usually recognized. The well-to-do son of a German textile manufacturer, Engels beavered diligently for decades in the Manchester office of Engels & Ermen in order to earn enough money to support his comrade-in-arms. (Engels was always sending Marx money; when he finally retired from the family firm, he made Marx an annuity of 350--several times more than the average family lived on but not enough for Marx, who always adjusted his spending to a level above what his benefactors supplied. ) Engels was an indefatigable publicist. It was Engels, for example, who suggested the title Communist Manifesto for their jointly authored "confession of faith. " When Marx finally, after innumerable delays, managed to complete the first volume of that great reader-proof tome Das Kapital, Engels flogged it everywhere, taking it upon himself to write ten separate reviews of the book. He also completed volumes two and three of the book, working up Marxs scattered notes into something resembling a consecutive argument. More substantively, Engelss 1844 Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy articulated many central points of the doctrine we have since learned to call Marxism, above all the thesis that the evolution of capitalism necessarily leads to cutthroat competition among capitalists and poverty and dehumanization for the majority of the populace. Marx himself called it "a work of genius" and incorporated many of its central arguments into his later work.

Muravchik's argument has two aspects. Like many other disabused commentators, he presents a sobering chronicle of socialisms delusions and crimes. He reminds us--if we still need reminding--of the central role that the "annihilation. . . of reactionary races" (Marx), the "extermination" of enemies (Lenin) has always played in "really existing" Marxism. Muravchik also presents the cheering news that daybreak has come at last, that we have finally awakened from the long dream of socialist utopia. It is difficult to argue with the first part of his argument. What about the second? It is certainly significant that the Soviet Union imploded and that its last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, should have recently acknowledged that Communist claims about economic progress had been "pure propaganda. " Perhaps it is also significant that Tony Blair in Britain should have campaigned on the slogan "Labour is the party of business. " But I cannot help receiving the news of socialisms death with a certain scepticism. For one thing, the fact that an idea has been thoroughly discredited does nothing to render it impotent. It is part of the perversity of human nature that discredited ideas are often the most successful ideas. Then, too, I see little evidence that socialisms fundamental tenet--namely, the ideal of equality--is on its way to the dustbin of history. The wheels of egalitarianism may grind away more slowly in liberal democratic countries than in Communist ones, but grind away they do. It would be pleasant to think that in leaving historys bloodiest century behind, we have also left behind the passions that sparked its unprecedented carnage. But time and again history has taught us that the hunger for equality is among mankinds most brutal passions. It is for this reason that I believe the philosopher David Stove was correct when he identified "bloodthirstiness" as a central ingredient in the psychology of egalitarianism. Socialism will be conquered to the extent that egalitarianism is conquered. In the meanwhile, I fear that Stove is correct that "very far from communism being dead, as some foolish people at present believe, we can confidently look forward to bigger and better Marxes, Lenins, Stalins, Maos, Kim Il Sungs, Pol Pots, Ceausescus, Baader-Meinhofs, Shining Paths, and all the rest. "

Notes

1. Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, by Joshua Muravchik; Encounter Books, 400 pages, $27. 95. Go back to the text.

Another look at some significant points from The Death of Socialism

Socialism is also unselfishness embraced as an axiom: the gratifying emotion of unselfishness, experienced alternately as resentment against others and titillating satisfaction with oneself.

Comment:

This "gratifying emotion of unselfishness" is what Srila Prabhupada terms "extended sense enjoyment. In Sri Isopanisad 2 His Divine Grace writes:

An ordinary man works for his own sense enjoyment, and when this principle of sense enjoyment is extended to include his society, nation or humanity in general, it assumes various attractive names such as altruism, socialism, communism, nationalism, humanitarianism, etc. These "isms" are certainly very attractive forms of karma-bandhana (work which binds), but the Vedic instruction of Isopanisad is that if one actually wants to live for any of the above "isms," he should make them God-centered.

Roger Kimball, the author of the above essay on the death of socialism, points out that doctrinaire unselfishness (i. e. extended selfishness) is experienced by the socialist as resentment against others and titillating satisfaction with himself. Such is dvandva-moha (Bg 7. 27).

That heart-stopping conundrum too thrilling to be corrected by mere experience

Comment:

The conundrum Kimball is talking about is Rousseau's exclamation "Man is born free but is everywhere in chains!" A conundrum is a paradox, a riddle. It is a problem that actually cannot be solved.

Now, Rousseau's famous conundrum is first of all paradoxical because it isn't true. Man is not born free. To believe so is utterly idiotic, and that's even before we bring in the doctrine of karma. A new-born baby is utterly dependent. Everyone is well-aware of mankind's helplessness in infancy, so how can anyone proclaim "Man is born free"?

Second of all, mankind is everwhere in chains, yes, but not fundamentally because of social conditions. He is chained by birth, death, disease and old age. People who are obsessed by social issues sweep these existential issues into the background. There is a reason for that which we shall see shortly. In any case, the existential issues of mankind's mortal condition cannot be solved socially, medically, scientifically or by any other type of material endeavor. The conundrum, accurately stated, is that mankind desires to be free from his very birth, but is everywhere in chains at every step of his life.

Rousseau's exclamation is said to be "too thrilling to be corrected by mere experience. " This is the sort of blockheaded idealism that Rousseau and so many Romantics after him indulge in. The experience of history shows again and again that mankind cannot free himself by his own endeavor. But still these dreamers, intoxicated by ahamkara (which literally means "I"--aham--"am the doer"--kara), argue "Why not?"

that the multitude unaccountably colludes in perpetuating its own bondage and must therefore be, in Rousseaus ominous phrase, "forced to be free. "

Comment:

This is Rousseau's own answer to "Why not?" The reason that experience shows again and again mankind hasn't managed to free himself is because again and again mankind contributes to his own bondage. Which means he doesn't have sense enough to want to be free. Which further means he doesn't even understand what freedom is. Which necessitates that he be educated what freedom is, so that he'll want to be free.

Education is not the socialist's solution to bondage, however. How can it be? He is in ignorance. Vidya (education) is the Vedic solution. Srila Prabhupada writes in The Science of Self-Realization:

The culture of vidya, or transcendental knowledge, is essential for the human being, otherwise the culture of avidya, or nescience, binds him to conditional existence on the material platform. Materialistic existence means the pursuit or culture of sense gratification, and this kind of knowledge of sense gratification (avdiya) means advancement of repeated birth and death. Those who are absorbed in such knowledge cannot learn any lesson from the laws of nature, and they do the same things over repeatedly, being enamored of the beauty of illusory things. Vidya, or factual knowledge, on the other hand, means to know thoroughly the process of nescient activities while at the same time culturing transcendental science and thereby undeviatingly following the path of liberation.

The solution that Rousseau declares is that mankind must be forced to be free. This is a real conundrum! It suggests that Rousseau had no idea what real freedom is. Certainly he didn't. "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free," said Goethe. Who is free?

The Roman poet Horace answered this question nicely: "Who then is free? The wise man who can command himself. " Rousseau, profligate that he was, was by no means in command of himself. He was enslaved by the senses of his lusty mortal body and by the speculations of his uncontrolled mind. And that is precisely the sense in which "mankind is everywhere in chains. "

A new religion was born, as imperious as it was jealous. It is significant that the socialist mentality is usually also an atheistic mentality, where atheism is understood not so much as the disbelief in God as the hatred of God--an attitude as precarious logically as it has been destructive in practice. There is an important sense in which religion as traditionally understood reconciles humanity to imperfection and to failure. Since the socialist sets out to abolish failure, traditional religion is worse than de trop: it is an impediment to perfection.

Comment:

The above quotation states very much in very few words. The urge to take charge of society and mold it without regard to the laws of God, but only according to mundane ideals (another conundrum!), is a symptom of aggressive atheism.

Hiranyakasipu was so powerful that even the demigods in other planets would tremble simply by the unfavorable raising of his eyebrow. (Bhag. 1. 3. 28p)

In other words, he [Maharaja Vena] was an atheist, who did not believe in the existence of God, and who consequently stopped all Vedic ritualistic ceremonies in his kingdom. Prthu Maharaja considered King Vena's character abominable because Vena was foolish regarding the execution of religious performances. Atheists are of the opinion that there is no need to accept the authority of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be successful in religion, economic development, sense gratification or liberation. According to them, dharma, or religious principles, are meant to establish an imaginary God to encourage one to become moral, honest and just so that the social orders may be maintained in peace and tranquillity. Furthermore, they say that actually there is no need to accept God for this purpose, for if one follows the principles of morality and honesty, that is sufficient. (Bhag. 4. 21. 30p)

Sisupala's father was known as Damaghosa due to his superior ability to cut down unregulated citizens. Dama means curbing down, and ghosa means famous; so he was famous for controlling the citizens. Damaghosa thought that if Krsna came to disturb the marriage ceremony, he would certainly cut Him down with his military power. (Krsna Ch 52)

Thus on the material platform animalistic leaders are worshiped by animals. Sometimes physicians, psychiatrists and social workers try to mitigate bodily pain, distress and fear, but they have no knowledge of spiritual identity and are bereft of a relationship with God. Yet they are considered mahajanas by the illusioned. (Cc Madhya 17. 185p)

The French term de trop means something superfluous or unnecessary. Religion is worse than unnecessary for the aggressive atheist. He thinks where religion prevails, society suffers. The faith that God will relieve humanity of suffering in the next world cripples action in this world for correcting such suffering. Thus for the agressive, socially-conscious atheist, God is the single delusion of mankind that is most instrumental in robbing him of the willpower to free himself. If faith in God were merely superfluous, it could be tolerated. But it is the very chain of bondage. It is the opiate of the people. It must be eradicated.

The socialist pretends to have glimpsed paradise on earth. Those who decline the invitation to embrace the vision are not just ungrateful: they are traitors to the cause of human perfection. Dissent is therefore not mere disagreement but treachery.

Comment:

People are very fond of the pattern of Rama-rajya, and even today politicians sometimes form a party called Rama-rajya, but unfortunately they have no obedience to Lord Rama. It is sometimes said that people want the kingdom of God without God. Such an aspiration, however, is never to be fulfilled. (Bhag. 9. 10. 50p)

And it is worth noting that socialism comes in mild as well as tyrannical versions.

Comment:

The above-quoted purport continues:

Good government can exist when the relationship between the citizens and the government is like that exemplified by Lord Ramacandra and His citizens. Lord Ramacandra ruled His kingdom exactly as a father takes care of his children, and the citizens, being obliged to the good government of Lord Ramacandra, accepted the Lord as their father. Thus the relationship between the citizens and the government should be exactly like that between father and son. When the sons in a family are well trained, they are obedient to the father and mother, and when the father is well qualified, he takes good care of the children. As indicated here by the words sva-dharma-nirata varnasrama-gunan-vitah, the people were good citizens because they accepted the institution of varna and asrama, which arranges society in the varna divisions of brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra and the asrama divisions of brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa. This is actual human civilization. People must be trained according to the different varnasrama occupational duties.

I see mild socialism entering when the government adopts a more "motherly" (material) than "fatherly" (spiritual) relationship with its citizenry, and when the citizenry in turn adopts a more infantile dependence upon the government. "Raising a family"--which is what the above quotation from Srila Prabhupada compares good government to--is raising children to become well-trained adults who enact their personal realization of dharma. That realization is the blessing of the Lord and spiritual master. It is the blessing of increasing independence from material nature and increasing dependence upon Krsna's mercy.

Why is it that the more dogged the effort to achieve the announced goals of socialism, the more the outcome mocked the human ideals it proclaimed?

Comment:

Prabhupada: . . . [Y]ou can do everything by becoming Krsna conscious. That is the advantage of Krsna consciousness. Krsna says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami. You cannot get out of sinful action, but Krsna can do it. Therefore He says, "I'll get you released. " You cannot get released; therefore He says, "I'll do that. "

Harikesa: So bringing it to a practical platform. . .

Prabhupada: Practical means it will be done by Krsna. Your only business is to surrender to Krsna. You cannot do anything. And as soon as you think that "I shall be able to do it," then you are a rascal. Immediately you are rascal.

Harikesa: So only a fully surrendered soul can do everything perfectly.

Prabhupada: Hm?

Harikesa: A fully surrendered soul is the only one who can do things perfectly.

Prabhupada: He cannot do anything, even in his. . . Everything is to be done by Krsna. But he has to apply his intelligence by Krsna consciousness. Even if he is intelligent, he cannot do anything. (Vrindaban, December 3, 1975)

The search for nowhere inevitably deprecates any and every somewhere.

Comment:

Sometimes when one Gopi would serve Krishna very nicely, the others would say, Oh, she has done so nicely, now let me do better for pleasing Krishna. That is envy, but it is transcendental, without malice. So we shall not expect that anywhere there is any Utopia. Rather, that is impersonalism. People should not expect that even in the Krishna Consciousness Society there will be Utopia. Because devotees are persons, therefore there will always be some lacking--but the difference is that their lacking, because they ave given up everything to serve Krishna--money, jobs, reputation, wealth, big educations, everything--their lackings have become transcendental because, despite everything they may do, their topmost intention is to serve Krishna. "One who is engaged in devotional service, despite the most abominable action, is to be considered saintly because he is rightly situated. " The devotees of Krishna are the most exalted persons on this planet, better than kings, all of them, so we should always remember that and, like the bumblebee, always look for the nectar or the best qualities of a person. Not like the utopians, who are like the flies who always go to the open sores or find the faults in a person, and because they cannot find any utopia, or because they cannot find anyone without faults, they want to become void, merge, nothing--they think that is utopia, to become void of personality. (Letter from Srila Prabhupada, 72-02-04)

"Utopians," the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski observed in The Death of Utopia Reconsidered, "once they attempt to convert their visions into practical proposals, come up with the most malignant project ever devised: they want to institutionalize fraternity, which is the surest way to totalitarian despotism. "

Comment:

One thing, we can never expect to find any kind of utopia, even in the spiritual world. Where ever there are persons there are bound to be differences, so we should not expect any kind of perfect arrangement, especially here in the material world. Even sometimes amongst the gopis there is envy, but that enviousness is transcendental and should not be accepted in the mundane sense. Anyway one quality of a devotee is that he is always very much tolerant of other people, so I request you simply to tolerate the faults of others and always think that I am myself the most faulty. In this way your humble attitude will qualify you to advance very quickly in Krishna Consciousness. (Letter from Srila Prabhupada, 72-05-25)

Whatever else one can say about it, Marxism is surely one of the most impervious systems of thought ever devised. It is also one of the most protean. It has always, as Kolakowski notes, been able to change "content from one situation to another and [crossbreed] with other ideological traditions. " In part, this is a testimony to its intellectual adaptability; in part, it is simple mendacity. As Marx himself explained in an 1857 letter to Friedrich Engels about an election prediction he had made, "Its possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way. "

Comment:

Religious principles that obstruct one from following his own religion are called vidharma. Religious principles introduced by others are called para-dharma. A new type of religion created by one who is falsely proud and who opposes the principles of the Vedas is called upadharma. And interpretation by one's jugglery of words is called chala-dharma. (Bhag. 7. 15. 13)

The living entity has nothing to do with bodily pains and pleasures. These are simply mental concoctions. An intelligent man will find the original cause of everything. Material combinations and permutations may be a matter of fact in worldly dealings, but actually the living force, the soul, has nothing to do with them. Those who are materially upset take care of the body and manufacture daridra-narayana (poor Narayana). However, it is not a fact that the soul or Supersoul becomes poor simply because the body is poor. These are the statements of ignorant people. The soul and Supersoul are always apart from bodily pleasure and pain. (Bhag. 5. 12. 7p)

It is part of the perversity of human nature that discredited ideas are often the most successful ideas. Then, too, I see little evidence that socialisms fundamental tenet--namely, the ideal of equality--is on its way to the dustbin of history. The wheels of egalitarianism may grind away more slowly in liberal democratic countries than in Communist ones, but grind away they do.

Prabhupada: So where is equal rights? Even in Russia, there is managerial class and laborer class. Where are equal rights? Why there are managers? Yes. I have seen it. The managerial class and the laborer class. So where is equality? Why the managerial class? You know that? There must be required. The old women, they are sweeping the street. Why not Mr. Lenin come and sweep the street? Why he is sitting in a big palace and the poor woman has been engaged to sweep the street? Where is equality? What advancement they have made? We are following opiate. They are following opiate, Lenin's rascal's philosophy. That's all. That is also opiate. But where is equality? That is also opiate. You are advocating equality, but where there is a man manager and another man is working. So why you are accepting this nonsense philosophy being opiated by rascal Lenin? (Morning walk, Rome, 29 May 1974)

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