The socialist who did not follow Marx

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As part of Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, GB offers a 3-part series on Swamiji as a humanist, spiritual leader and socialist, who could vehemently relegate to the background, the gods of his own religion, for the greater cause of his country. At a time when India is going through religious intolerance, cases of lynching in the name of sacrilege, the true teachings of Swami Vivekananda must somehow come to the fore. In his pamphlet Vartaman Bharat, Swami Vivekananda predicted the rise of the Sudras in the future. By this term he meant the lowest echelon of the Indian population, the lowest caste and class of society. In this work he analyzed the historical process through the ages in light of the rise and fall of various social categories, Brahmins and Kshatriyas successively had their own periods of ascendance and domination, contemporary India , he thought, was going through the third stage. it is the rule of the commercial classes or Vaishyas. He then foresaw the coming to power of the Sudras with all their distribution and character. He sincerely aspired to the triumph of the popular masses, the proletariat, which had been oppressed for centuries. Vivekananda in his writings and speeches never mentioned the name of Marx or Engels. But he once quoted the Marxian phrase in his writings: “The poor get poorer and the rich get richer”. As recorded by Sister Christen, he even visualized that the victory of the proletariat would first take place either in Russia or China, drawing inspiration from his love for ordinary men and his prophecy of proletarian victory, Swami Vivekananda is often described as a socialist. In fact, in a letter to Mary Hale, Swamiji himself wrote: “I am a socialist, not because I think it is a perfect system, but half a loaf is better than no loaf. The other systems have been tried and found insufficient. Let this one be judged – if only for the novelty of the thing. A redistribution of pain and pleasure is better than always the same person having pains and pleasures. Like Karl Marx, he sometimes indulged in tirades against the wealthier classes and privileged strata of society and insisted on equal opportunity for all. While in the West, Swamiji came into contact with social revolutionaries. In 1900, he met the Russian anarchist leader Kropotkin in Paris and spoke with him. He was also inspired by the ideas of Fichte, Carlyle and Comte. Vivekananda in his writings and speeches never mentioned the name of Marx or Engels. But he once quoted the Marxian phrase in his writings: “The poor get poorer and the rich get richer”. Swamiji himself wrote, “I’m a socialist, not because I think it’s a perfect system, but half a loaf is better than no loaf. The other systems have been tried and found insufficient. Let this one be judged – if only for the novelty of the thing. His own younger brother, Bhupendranath Dutta, adamantly described Vivekananda as a socialist. He writes: “Swamiji called himself a socialist, and so far it is known. He was the first Indian to designate himself as such. However, his socialism is not of the same mark as today. By analyzing his words, a Marxist can say that his socialism does not correspond to that of Lenin and may fall short of the socialist ideas of the West. His school was rather reformist, but at the time Swamiji was writing these epistles, socialism was not adopting a revolutionary attitude. Source: Articles by Anil Baran Ray and Arun Kumar Biswas Book: Vivekananda as a turning point

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