Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dhammic Socialism?

Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes—that is, the majority—as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. […] The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.
— Ven. Tenzin Gyatso, H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

I've met and read about some amazing human beings over the years who appear to have a deep understanding of human nature, and a profound knowledge of paths that lead to liberation of the mind. But that valuable knowledge doesn't necessarily translate into the same depth of understanding of political, economic, or even social systems of thought. These things, being in the realm of concepts and ideas, require careful study and examination in order to arrive at deeper insights and understanding.

The system of Marxism, and Socialism in general, is violent at it's root as it requires a select few to take away from some to give to others, often employing coercion when necessary. It assumes wise and benevolent dictators are the dispensers of the means and fruits of production, irrespective of merit, effort, or capability. Nor does such a system allow for the merit that arises from genuine acts of charity to manifest.

Whenever a select few are chosen to control and disperse the means and fruits of production, we have a serious problem, as we can never guarantee that those few individuals will always be acting fairly and justly in the best interests of their fellow man. For this reason, a true Capitalist system combined with a very limited hands-off role for a centralized governing authority, is the best way we have of both creating and dispensing wealth and fortune. All people in such a system have the opportunity to come to great prosperity, if they are sufficiently motivated, and then use the fruits of their labour as they see fit.

Such a system is far from perfect, however, as it is inextricably linked to the motivations and intentions of fallible individuals. But the solution to this unfortunate and unavoidable situation comes not from imposing an artificial system of seeming economic ‘fairness’, but rather from acquainting our captains of industry with Dhammic or Dharmic thought in its many and varied forms, so they voluntarily act in more compassionate, moral, and thoughtful ways, seeing it as a path to their own evolution and ultimate fulfilment. The less fortunate would receive benefits through voluntary acts of charity rather than coercive acts of the state.

There is nothing inherently wrong with gain and profitability. It's the attachment (or aversion) to gain and profitability which is the underlying problem.