A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
Editorial Note : The book Dialectic Spiritualism presents a purvapaksha of thirty six Western Thinkers in incisive Srila Prabhupada style. A few select ones will be republished as part of the IK Masters Series.
From 1973 to 1976 His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada recorded a hundred hours of discourses on thirty-six western philosopher’s from Socrates to Sartre. At the final session, he gave the book its title and said, “Print it at once!” But the next year, Srila Prabhupada left this mortal world, and the manuscript remained unpublished, as some of his disciples feared releasing such a controversial book. “It’s an unscholarly punch in the nose,” one philosophy professor objected. “It’s a treatise against philosophy,” said another. Now everyone can decide for himself. Despite attempts at suppression, here is Srila Prabhupada’s last great opus—Dialectic Spiritualism, the complete and unexposed philosophy book as Srila Prabhupada himself spoke.Dialectic Spiritualism
Hayagriva dasa: Marx was a descendent of rabbis on both sides of his family, but Marx’s father was converted to Christianity, and Marx received a Christian education. In any case, Marx himself opposed both Christianity and Judaism. At the age of twenty-three, after having studied some philosophy in his university classes, Marx became an avowed atheist. It was Hegel who wrote: “Because the accidental is not, God or the Absolute is. “ On this, Marx commented: “Obviously the reverse can also be said.” That is, because God is not, the accidental is.”
Srila Prabhupada: How can any sensible man accept the view that everything is accidental? Is a child taking birth accidental? There must have been unity between a father and a mother. Marx, for instance, may not have wanted to die, but he was forced to. How can this take place accidentally? There must be some superior force. We may not wish to have an accident, but accidents happen nonetheless. This is a question of common sense. In nature, we see that there are many planets in the sky, and they are not accidentally colliding, but are remaining in their positions. The sun rises according to precise calculations. Since universal functions are going on very systematically, there must be some brain behind them, and we call this supreme brain God. How can you deny this?
Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt that true philosophy would say: “In simple truth, I bear hate for any and every God.” He saw this as philosophy’s “own avowal, its own judgement against all heavenly and earthly gods who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme divinity. There must be no other on a level with it. “
Srila Prabhupada: How can human intelligence be perfect unless it comes to the point of understanding the Absolute Truth, the original cause of everything? Our consciousness must progress, and progress means moving toward the ultimate goal. If a human being is ignorant of the ultimate cause and the ultimate goal, of what value is his intelligence?
Hayagriva dasa: Marx considered religion to be the pastime of degraded men who attempt to escape reality. He writes: “Religion is the sigh of the distressed creature, the soul of a heartless world, as it is also the spirit of a spiritless condition. It is the opium of the people. “ Being an illusion, religion cannot solve any of man’s problems, but can only complicate them. “The more man puts into God, “ Marx wrote, “the less he retains in himself. “
Srila Prabhupada: We can actually see that the Communists are not being so greatly favored without God. Now the Chinese and Russians are disagreeing. Differences of opinion will still be there, whether people deny God or not. So how have they improved matters? Both Communists and capitalists need to understand the nature of God. We have seen that denying God and acting independently have not brought peace.
Syamasundara dasa: Marx believed that everything is produced from economic struggle, and that religion is a technique invented by the bourgeoisie or the capitalists to dissuade the masses from revolution by promising them a better existence after death.
Srila Prabhupada: He himself has created a philosophy that is presently being enforced by coercion and killing. As we have often explained, religion is that part of our nature which is permanent, which we cannot give up. No one can give up his religion. And what is that religion? Service. Marx desires to serve humanity by putting forward his philosophy; therefore that is his religion. Everyone is trying to render some service. The father is trying to serve his family, the statesman is trying to serve his country, and the philanthropist is trying to serve all humanity. Whether you are Karl Marx, or Stalin, or Gandhi, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian, you must serve. Because we are presently rendering service to so many people and concepts, we are becoming confused. Therefore Krsna advises us to give up all other service and serve Him alone.
Hayagriva dasa: Like Comte, Marx hoped that the worker would eventually eliminate religion. He wrote: “The political emancipation of the Jew, the Christian, the religious man in general, is the emancipation of the state from Judaism, from Christianity, from religion generally. ” Thus the worker would become the savior of mankind by freeing man from a religion that worships a supernatural being.
Srila Prabhupada: Has that actually happened? Marx is dead and gone, yet his Communist theory is being exhibited in practice, and still we see that they have not liberated anyone. Now the Russians are not relating congenially with the Chinese. Why is this? They have abolished God, and the working class is there. Why, then, is there dissension and desire?
Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt that religion was blocking man’s path to happiness. He wrote: “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. The demand to abandon the illusions about their condition is the demand to give up a condition that requires illusion. Hence criticism of religion is . . . criticism of this vale of tears whose halo is religion. “
Srila Prabhupada: A religious system deteriorates when there is no understanding of its philosophical basis. People are apt to reject such sentimental religions. We must understand in fact that God is at the top of all cosmic manifestations and activities. Laws given by the supreme head of the cosmic manifestation constitute what we call religion. If we create our own religious systems on the basis of sentiments, we create only troubles and will be misunderstood. We must understand that there is a brain behind all the cosmic manifestations, and if we know the nature of this brain and how it is working, we attain real scientific understanding.
Hayagriva dasa: Marx encouraged labor not for the construction of temples but for the benefit of man himself. He writes: “The alien being, to whom labor and the produce of labor belong, and in whose service labor is done and for whose benefit the produce of labor is provided, can only be man himself. “
Srila Prabhupada: We must come to the understanding that it is beneficial for man to abide by the orders of God. If there is any organization at all, there is a director, even in Communist countries. Leaders are necessary, and the supreme leader is called God. It is not that the Communists can do without leaders. Even Karl Marx provided leadership. Now it is up to people to decide whether to work under the leadership of God, or under Marx and Lenin. We cannot avoid leadership; so now the dicquestion remains, “Whose leadership is perfect?” That we must decide.
Hayagriva dasa: Like Comte, Marx believed that atheism was unnecessary because it was negative denial, whereas socialism is positive assertion. Marx writes: “Socialism is man’s positive self-consciousness, no longer mediated through the annulment of religion, just as real life is man’s positive reality through Communism.”
Srila Prabhupada: We have made our point that real religion is not sentiment and that leadership has to be accepted, be it Communist,theist, or atheist. When leadership is selected, and directions are given by the leader, we can call it some “ism,” but in any case, religion means accepting the leadership of God and His directions. I don’t think that even the Communists can basically change this concept. They also have a leader-Marx, Lenin, or Stalin-and they are giving directions for the people to follow. Similarly, Krsna is there, and we are following His instructions. So factually what is the difference? In either case, there is authority. We have to select the best leader, and we also have to select a criterion for establishing him.
Hayagriva dasa: For Marx, there is nothing spiritual in the universe. He writes: “An incorporeal substance is just as much a contradiction as an incorporeal body. Body, being, substance are one and the same real idea. One cannot separate the thought from matter which thinks. “
Srila Prabhupada: When there is no spirit soul within the body, the body is considered dead. Otherwise, what is the difference between a dead body and a living body?
Hayagriva dasa: He further writes: “Since only what is material is perceptible, knowable, nothing is known of the existence of God. I am sure only of my own existence. “
Srila Prabhupada: But if he does not know of the spirit soul, how can he be certain of his own existence? What is his idea of life? Why is the body like a dead stone when life has ended? He must first understand what life is.
Hayagriva dasa: He felt that consciousness is basically social. “Life is not determined by consciousness,” he writes, “but consciousness by life . . . . Consciousness is therefore from the very beginning a social product, and remains so as long as men exist at all.”
Srila Prabhupada: Then why does life have an end? Why does he cease to exist? What is the answer to this? The soul of man exists, but why does he die? Death is a fact, and it cannot be denied. During this lifetime, he may speak very loudly, but as soon as he is dead, he can speak no more. Where is consciousness then?
Hayagriva dasa: Marx opposed Comte’s recommendation of the worship of women, and also the worship of God in nature. “There is no question,” he writes, “that modem sciences, which along with modem industry, have revolutionized the whole of nature and put an end to man’s childish attitude toward nature, as well as to other forms of childishness . . . . The position as regards to the worship of female is the same as nature worship.”
Srila Prabhupada: But how has science overcome the basic laws of nature? Has man put an end to birth, death, old age, and disease? If not, what is the meaning of revolutionizing or conquering nature? Nature’s laws are going on just as before. Before Marx died, his father and mother died, and their parents died before them, and so on. How has man then conquered nature? Death, old age, and disease continue.Where is the improvement?
Hayagriva dasa: If there is no improvement, he would feel that it is because religion has been an impediment.
Srila Prabhupada: This has nothing to do with religion. This is the work of nature. When a man takes birth, he faces death. How has science revolutionized this matter? Nature’s work is going on despite all the theories of Marx and others. So how have they surpassed the laws of nature ?
Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt that religion is the cause of constant antagonism between men. “The most persistent form of antagonism between the Jew and the Christian is religious antagonism,” he writes. “How does one solve an antagonism? By making it impossible. And how is a religious antagonism made impossible? By abolishing religion. “
Srila Prabhupada: The question of antagonism is solved if we know God and God’s desires. If we know the government and its laws, there is no antagonism. Antagonism is there when so-called religious systems do not know of God and His desires. God and His regulations are clearly described in the Bhagavad-gita, and therefore we are advocating the reading of Bhagavad-gita so people will know God and His instructions. As I have said before, religion means understanding God according to a system. God is the supreme proprietor and the supreme friend of everyone. He is the enjoyer of everything. People claim that their religion is better than others, but first of all we must know what religion is. It is knowing the orders of the supreme proprietor, and living according to them. If we do not know what religion is, why criticize religion and create antagonisms?
Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt that both Christian and Jew should cast off their respective religions, “as nothing more than different stages of evolution of the human spirit, as different snakeskins shed by history. ” Then man will no longer be bothered by religious antagonisms but will be able to enjoy a scientific and human relationship.
Srila Prabhupada: When people stamp themselves Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Moslems without knowing God and His desires, there will naturally be antagonism. Therefore we should scientifically understand what is religion and who is God. Then this antagonism will cease.
Hayagriva dasa: Marx believed that the state should eventually assume the role of Christ. He writes: “Religion is merely the indirect recognition of man through a mediator. The state is the mediator between man and the freedom of man. As Christ is the mediator on whom man unburdens all his own divinity and his whole religious burden, so also the state is the mediator on which man places all his unholiness and his whole human burden. “
Srila Prabhupada: Christ gave the knowledge by which we can be relieved of the material body, and that is the function of all religious scripture. Religious scriptures should give information about God’s exact position. When people learn scientifically of God’s existence and their relationship with God, everything will be adjusted. Our Krsna consciousness movement is trying to give people an exact idea of God, exact definitions, and exact instructions.
Hayagriva dasa: Here is a point that most Communists would choose to ignore: “To practice one’s own particular religion is explicitly included among the rights of man,” Marx writes. “The privilege of religion is a universal human right. “
Srila Prabhupada: It is always the state’s duty to see that there is freedom of religion. It is also the state’s duty to see that when a person is propagating a particular type of religion, he is acting according to it.
Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt, however, that religion should be individual, not communal. “But liberty as a right of man is not based on the association of man with man, but rather on a separation of man from man. It is the right of the separation, the right of the limited individual, limited to himself. “
Srila Prabhupada: There is no question of separation. When we accept God as the Supreme Father, we accept His sons as brothers who should be obedient to Him. If we all obey the Supreme Father, how will there be differences of opinion? When we do not know the Supreme Father and do not obey Him, there is dissension. It is the son’s duty to obey the father and enjoy his property. It is a question of the father being the center.
Hayagriva dasa: Marx believed that if man persists in worshiping God, he should do so privately and not communally.
Srila Prabhupada: If God is a fact, and man must worship Him, then why not communally? Does he think that every individual should manufacture his own God and worship Him? God is the Supreme Father, the Father of every man, of every living entity. How can He be different? There may be ten sons in a family, but the father is one. It is not that the different sons say, “Oh, I will select my own father. ” It is not possible. The difficulty is that no one knows the Supreme Father, and no one is prepared to obey His orders. That is the difficulty.
Hayagriva dasa: Marx was hoping that the isolation of religion would lead to its dissolution.
Srila Prabhupada: The dissolution of religion means animalism, and we have come to that point in human history. That is the defect in modern society. If people are serious about religion, they should sit down together and acknowledge God as the Supreme Father. Once people do this, they will not fight among themselves. In any case, religion will not dissolve because it is an inherent quality within every living entity. When I was in Russia, I saw that even the young men there were also interested in God. Belief in God cannot be avoided.
Syamasundara dasa: As far as Marx’s political philosophy is concerned, we should try to change the world, not interpret it. Dialectic materialism is based on the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, which he applied to economics and sociology. The thesis is the capitalist bourgeoisie; the antithesis is the proletariat; and the synthesis is a classless, or Communistic, society.
Srila Prabhupada: But how is it possible to have a classless society? We find that there are different classes of men by nature. Krsna says:
catur-varnyam maya srstam
tasya kartaram api mam
viddhy akartaram avyayam
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. ” (Bg. 4. 13) Also:
sudranam ca parantapa
“Brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaisjas, and sudras are distinguished by their qualities of work, 0 chastiser of the enemy, in accordance with the modes of nature. ” (Bg. 18.41). Since this is the case, how can we bring different natures to the same level ?
Syamasundara dasa: Marx felt that it was the mode of production that determined our beliefs and ideas. He wrote: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”
Srila Prabhupada: That is a question of training. The next question is, What is the center of that training? What is the motto?
Syamasundara dasa: The motto is: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
Srila Prabhupada: The contributions of different living entities are different. A scientific man contributes one thing, a philosopher another, and a worker something else. Trees are also contributing, as well as birds and beasts. The cow contributes milk, and the dog contributes its service as a watchdog. Everyone is contributing, giving, and taking. This arrangement is already there by nature. But what is Marx’s idea of a classless society?
Syamasundara dasa: He felt that the means of production should be owned in common so that there would be no exploitation of workers.
Srila Prabhupada: What is the question of exploitation? I am a religious preacher, and my contribution is spiritual knowledge. Where is the exploitation? As far as a classless society is concerned, I have been to Moscow and have seen women sweeping the streets while the big bosses sit in their cars and watch. So where is this classless society? As long as you maintain a society, you have to make some distinction between upper and lower. However, if the central point is one, it doesn’t matter on what level we work. Our bodies have different parts, which are all working to contribute to the whole.
Syamasundara dasa: They claim to look on it the same way. The scientist or manager is in a top position, but the worker is considered to occupy as glorious a position.
Srila Prabhupada: But we have seen in Moscow that not everyone is satisfied. One boy came to us and lamented that he was not allowed to leave the country. The point is that you will never be able to make everyone happy. Nor will there ever be a classless society because the mentalities of people differ. How can you say that your mentality is the same as mine?
Syamasundara dasa: Marx believed that it was possible to have a uniformity of ideas and purpose if the means of production are controlled. The problem is that the capitalists, who own the means of production, control people’s ideas.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not possible for everyone to think uniformly, but it is possible to find a central interest. For instance, in our Society for Krsna Consciousness, our central interest is Krsna. People are working in different ways, but everyone is convinced that he is working to render service to Krsna.
Syamasundara dasa: For Marx, the center is the state, which in time will wither away. Then a classless society will emerge.
Srila Prabhupada: But if you make the state the center, there is no question of a classless society. In the state, there is always a leader, a president or prime minister. Khruschev was the head, and when people were dissatisfied, they drove him from office. This means that the head was not perfect and that people were dissatisfied with him. This is going on even in non-communist countries. So what is the difference between Marx’s theory and others? What is taking place inside Russia is also taking place outside. First of all, the person in the center must be perfect; then his dictations can be considered perfect. If you put a lot of imperfect men in office, what is the point in changing governments? The same corruption will go on.
Syamasundara dasa: Presumably, the perfect leader would be one who follows Marx’s philosophy perfectly.
Srila Prabhupada: But his philosophy is not perfect. He proposes a classless society, but that will never emerge. When you run a government,there must be administrators, and also people to sweep the streets. So how will a classless society come about? When will the street sweeper be satisfied to see someone enjoying an administrative position? Now, in this Krsna consciousness society, I sit on a vyAsasana, and you offer me garlands. Why is this? You do this willingly because you see that there is a perfect man you can follow. Unless you are convinced that the leader is perfect, there is no question of bowing down and working hard like menial servants.
Syamasundara dasa: For Communists, Lenin was a perfect man.
Srila Prabhupada: But who is following Lenin? Lenin’s perfection was in overthrowing the royal family. What other perfection has he given? People are not happy simply reading books. You cannot make people happy artificially, by force. Unless there is a perfect ideal man in the center, there cannot be a classless society. It is not possible. We have seen in Russia that people do not feel that there is perfection in the center.
Syamasundara dasa: Well, the goal is the production of goods for the material well being of all people.
Srila Prabhupada: That is useless. We have seen that production in America is beyond comparison in the world, and that is a capitalist society.Yet despite so much production, people are not satisfied. The young men especially are confused. It is nonsensical to think that by increasing production you will satisfy people. Man is not created simply to eat. Man also has a brain and spiritual and intellectual necessities. In India, we have seen people sitting silently in a solitary place and practicing yoga. There is no question of production satisfying them. The proposition that everyone will be satisfied by increasing production is a proposition for animals. The basic principle is nonsensical and due to insufficient knowledge. Perhaps Marx was thinking like that because he was coming from a country where people were starving. This means that he has no conception of what happiness actually is. Happiness is in understanding the truths given in Bhagavad-gita. We are happy when we know that God is the proprietor of everything and that He is the supreme enjoyer. We are not enjoyers; we are all workers. By nature there are enjoyers and workers. In your body, for instance, the stomach enjoys, and all the other parts work to satisfy the stomach.When the stomach is satisfied, all other parts of the body are nourished. Everywhere we look, we see that there are those who are enjoying, and those who are working. There is no question of a Communist or capitalist society. You cannot avoid the fact that there must be directors, or enjoyers, and workers. We therefore have to find out how both the manager and the worker can feel equal happiness. There must be cooperation for a central purpose, and a classless society is possible only when Krsna is at the center. Then the brahmanas, kshatriya, vaisyas, and sudras all work for His satisfaction.
yatah pravrttir bhutanam
yena sarvam idam tatam
sva-karmana tam abhyarcya
siddhim vindati manavah
“By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings, and who is all pervading, man can, in the performance of his own duty, attain perfection.” (Bg. 18. 46) Each class works in his own way for the satisfaction of Krsna. The brahmana contributes one thing, and the kshatriyas, vaisyas, and suidras, something else:
samo damas tapah saucam
ksantir arjavam eva ca
jnanam vijnanam astikyam
sauryam tejo dhrtir daksyam
yuddhe capy apalayanam
danam isvara-bhavas ca
ksatram karma svabhava-jam
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness-these are the qualities by which the brahmanas. Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the qualities of work for the kshatriyas. Farming, cow protection, and business are the qualities of work for the vaisyas. And for the sudras, there is labor and to support others.” (Bg. 18. 42-44)
Syamasundara dasa: How does this differ from the Communist state wherein the street sweepers, the managers, the farmers, and the military all contribute for the central purpose, the state?
Srila Prabhupada: If the state is not perfect, no one will be willing to contribute to it. Of course, you may force people to contribute to it; that is a different thing. But voluntary contribution will be there only when people are satisfied that the center is perfect. In any case, there will never be a classless society because there will always be an intellectual class, an administrative class, a mercantile class, and a working class. People will never find perfection in the state; therefore the workers will always remain dissatisfied. If not, why are they always running their leaders out of office?
Syamasundara dasa: In examining history, Marx noted that the main production amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans was carried out by slaves, and in feudal times by serfs.
Srila Prabhupada: But the Communists have also created slaves; they call them workers. When you have workers, you must also have people directing them. Therefore a dictator is needed. There must be directors and workers in any society, but they should be so satisfied that they forget their differences. That is, there should be no envy. If you make the center anything other than Krsna, you will have nothing but materialistic activity. Materialism necessarily means exploitation. The only solution is Krsna consciousness. We must make Krsna the center, and work for Him. This is the formula: pour water on the root of the tree, and all the branches, twigs, and leaves will be satisfied. By satisfying Krsna we satisfy everyone. Arjuna had many problems, but by satisfying Krsna, all his problems were resolved. When we put Krsna at the center, everything we do is absolute. We may either write books or wash the dishes; our activities will not collide because they are on the absolute platform. In Vrndavana, some living entities are cowherd boys, some are cows, some are trees, and so on, but they are all satisfied because Krsna is the center, and they are happy by loving Him. When people become Krsna conscious and understand how to love Krsna, there will be a classless society. Otherwise, it is not possible. It is all bogus, humbug.
Syamasundara dasa: Marx felt that in the capitalistic state, a few men control at the expense of many.
Srila Prabhupada: But there are only a few men in the Kremlin. What is the difference? Marx was interested in changing society, but we can see there is no difference. Society can be changed only when the center is Krsna. The people in this International Society for Krsna, a Consciousness have actually changed their lives. Unless the consciousness of people is changed, how can the social structure change? First of all, we must change the consciousness; then society will change. If the consciousness of people does not change first, how will they accept a new theory? First, we must change the heart, and that is the process of Krsna consciousness. Ceto-darpana-mArjanam (SikAshtaka I). By chanting, we cleanse the mirror of the mind. If the consciousness is the same, what do you gain by changing the form of government? You will have the same situation. When you see stool on the ground, one side is dry, and the other side is moist. If you think, “Oh, this side is very nice because it is dry,” you are very foolish. After all, any way you look at it, it is stool. There will always be people who are hungry, and people who are wealthy. There will always be people with different ideas and capacities. People will never become the same. Temporary situations are created by materialistic men or by the laws of nature; they come and they go. Krsna tells us in the Bhagavad-Gita that we should be fixed on the absolute platform and not worry about these temporary things. agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata (Bg. 2. 14). A sane man should not bother with these temporary “ism’s. ” We do not support capitalism or Communism, this idea or that idea. Our only concern is how to satisfy Krsna. We know perfectly well that all these systems will come and go, that if they are existing now, in the future they will not continue to exist. We must fix ourselves up with that system which is eternal.
Syamasundara dasa: In Marx’s society, private property would be abolished, and there would be common ownership of the means of production. That is, everything would be state owned.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, we have seen in Moscow that the people do not like to go shopping because they are obliged to stand in line for hours. So that system does not appear to be working very well. If you cannot get what you want, what is the use of the stores? Besides, what is the state but an extension of the individual self? The self is extended in the form of one’s family, children, community, and nation. So-called nationalism and Communism are just extensions of the self. The labels are different; the quality remains the same. We may steal ourselves, or have others steal for us. What is the difference? We may say, “Nothing is mine.” That much is a fact. But we also say, “Everything belongs to God. ” We can live very comfortably in this world with the consciousness that everything belongs to God. God has given us the opportunity to live here, and we should satisfy and glorify God.
Syamasundara dasa: Marx saw the capitalists as parasites living at the cost of the workers.
Srila Prabhupada: But the Communists are also living at the cost of the workers. They are drawing big salaries while others are sweeping the streets. So what is the difference?
Syamasundara dasa: Marx felt that the price of a product should equal the labor expended on it.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, we see that in India the price of ghee has risen, but people are still buying ghee. The price may be two hundred rupees a kilo, or two rupees a kilo. The man who is destined to purchase it will do so, regardless of price.
Syarnasundara dasa: Marx would say that no profit should be made off the ghee.
Srila Prabhupada: He is simply pointing out some anomalies, but these anomalies cannot be checked even by the Communists. They will appear in different ways because that is the nature of material existence. Material existence means exploitation, and these anomalies can be checked only when there is Krsna consciousness. You may say that one should not make a profit, but no one will accept this theory. The tendency to make a profit is there, and you cannot stop it. The exploitative mind is there, whether one is a Communist or a capitalist. In Bengali, this is called miiyii-tattva. It is a bug’s business to suck the blood of others. In the winter, the bug dries up, but as soon as summer comes, he immediately starts sucking again. In the material world, the mentality is to exploit others and become fat like a bug. Whether you are a Commmunist in the winter, or a capitalist in the summer, your tendencies are the same. As soon as you have an opportunity, you will become fat by extracting the blood of others. Unless there is a change in heart, this cannot be stopped.
Syamasundara dasa: Marx felt that only the workers are entitled to the surplus value of a product.
Srila Prabhupada: But as soon as a worker gets some money, he becomes a proprietor, takes advantage of his position, and becomes a capitalist. What is the point in changing your designation? A change in mentality is needed.
Syamasundara dasa: Since capital is unnecessary for production, Marx urged the workers to unite and violently overthrow the capitalists.
Srila Prabhupada: When one is very poor, he favors his brothers who are also poor and working hard. But as soon as one gets a little money, he immediately becomes a capitalist. This is because everyone in this material world is thinking, “I shall become the Lord.” In material life, everyone is searching for a profit, for some adoration , for a position. How can you equalize people forcibly? It is not possible.
Syamasundara dasa: The Communists have played upon this profiteering tendency. If the worker produces more, he is glorified by the state and given a small bonus as incentive.
Srila Prabhupada: This means that he has a tendency to lord it over the creation, and he wants some profit, some bribe. Everyone wants some profit, and the state cannot destroy this tendency, neither by law nor by force.
Syamasundara dasa: The Communists are trying to centralize everything- money, communications, and transport-by putting everything in the hands of the state.
Srila Prabhupada: To what benefit? As soon as all the wealth is centralized, the members of the central government will appropriate it just as Stalin and Khruschev did. All these ideas are useless as long as the tendency for exploitation is not reformed. The Russians have organized their country according to Marx’s theories, yet all their leaders have turned out to be cheaters. Where is their program for reforming this cheating propensity? In any case, the leaders will never be able to train the people to think that everything belongs to the state. This idea is simply Utopian nonsense.
Syamasundara dasa: Another slogan of Marx is: “Human nature has no reality. ” He believes that man’s nature changes through history according to material conditions.
Srila Prabhupada: What does he know of human nature? It is certainly true that everything in this cosmic creation, or jagat, is changing. Your body changes daily. Everything is changing, just like the waves in the ocean. It does not take a very advanced philosophy to understand this. Marx’s theory is also changing. It cannot last. Man does, however, have a fundamental nature that never changes, and that is his spiritual nature. We are teaching people to act according to their changeless spiritual nature, and this means serving Krsna. If we try to serve Krsna now, we will continue to serve Him when we go to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. Therefore loving service to Lord Krsna is called nitya, eternal.
satatam kirtayanto mam
yatantas ca drdha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya
“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion. ” (Bg. 9. 14)
The Communists try to replace Krsna with the state, expecting people to think, “Nothing in my favor; everything in favor of the state. ” But people will never accept this. It is impossible. All the rascals can do is force the people to work, as Stalin did. As soon as someone opposed Stalin, Stalin immediately had his throat cut. The same disease is there today. So how will their program be successful ?
Syamasundara dasa: Marx believed that human nature is a product of environment. By putting a man in a factory and getting him to identify with the state, he would be transformed into a selfless person.
Srila Prabhupada: The basic disease of man is envy, and as long as he is envious, he will remain selfish. When a man sees that he is working very hard but that the profits are not coming to him, his enthusiasm will immediately slacken. In Bengal, there is a proverb: “As a proprietor, I can turn sand into gold, but as soon as I am no longer the proprietor, the gold becomes sand. ” The Russian people are in this position. They are not as rich as the Europeans and Americans, and because of this, they are unhappy. If people cannot make a profit from their work, they will eventually lose all interest in their country. The average man will think, “Whether I work or not, I get the same result. I cannot adequately feed and clothe my family. ” Thinking in this way, he will lose his incentive to work. A scientist will see that despite his high position, his wife and children are dressed just like common laborers.
Syamasundara dasa: Marx felt that industrial and scientific work constitute the highest kind of activity.
Srila Prabhupada: But unless the scientists and industrialists receive sufficient profit, they will be reluctant to work for the state.
Syamasundara dasa: The Russian goal is the production of material goods for the enhancement of human well-being.
Srila Prabhupada: Their human well-being actually means, “If you don’t agree with me, I’ll cut your throat. ” This was Stalin’s idea of human well-being, and anyone who disagreed with him was killed or imprisoned. They say that a few must suffer for the sake of many, but we have personally seen that Russia has achieved neither general happiness nor prosperity. In Moscow, for instance, none of the big buildings have been recently built. They are old and ravaged, or poorly renovated. And there are also long lines in the stores. These are indications that the economic condition is unsound.
Syamasundara dasa: Lenin reinforced all of Marx’s ideas and added a few of his own. He saw history moving in leaps and progressing toward the Communistic era. He wanted Russia to leap into the dictatorship of the proletariat, which he called the final stage of historical development.
Srila Prabhupada: We can say with confidence-and they may note it carefully-that after the Bolshevik Revolution, there will be other revolutions, because as long as people live on the mental platform, there will be revolutions. Our proposition is to give up all these mental concoctions and come to the spiritual platform where there are no longer revolutions. As Dhruva Maharaja said: “Now that I am seeing God, I am completely satisfied. Now all kinds of theories are finished.” God consciousness is the final revolution. There will be repeated revolutions in this material world until people come to Krsna consciousness. People are trying to approach an objective, but they do not know that the final objective is Krsna. They are trying to make adjustments with materialistic revolutions, not knowing that they are spiritual beings and that without God, there is no question of happiness. We are part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, Krsna, but we have left His association and fallen from the spiritual world because of our desire to enjoy this material world. Unless we reawaken the understanding of our spiritual position and return to the spiritual world, we can never be happy, just as a fish can never be happy out of water. We may theorize for many lifetimes, but we will continue to see one revolution after another. History repeats itself. The old orders change, yielding their places to the new.
Syamasundara dasa: Marx believed that the Communist revolution would be the final revolution because it is the perfect answer to all social contradictions.
Srila Prabhupada: As long as the Communist idea remains materialistic, it cannot be the final revolution. It must be spiritualized. They believe that the state is the owner of everything, but the real owner is God. When they come to this conclusion, the Communistic idea will be perfect. In our International Society for Krsna Consciousness, we are practicing perfect spiritual Communism by doing everything for Krsna. We know that Krsna is the supreme enjoyer of the result of all work. BhoktAram yajna-tapasAm (Bg. 5. 29). The Communist philosophy as it is now practiced is vague, but it can become perfect if the conclusion of Bhagavadgita is accepted: that is, Krsna is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer, and the supreme friend of everyone. Now people mistrust the state, but if people accept Krsna as their friend, they will have perfect confidence in Krsna, just as Arjuna had on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The great victory of Arjuna and his associates on the battlefield showed that his confidence in Krsna was justified.
yatra yogesvarah krsno
yatra partho dhanur-dharah
tatra srir vijayo bhutir
dhruva nitir matir mama
“Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.” (Bg. 18.78)
3 thoughts on “A Purvapaksha of Marx : #DialecticSpiritualism”
Very nice article.. will read the complete book as well.
Absolutely the correct interpretation of the useless concept of communistic state. Swami Prabhupada makes extremely valid points in comparing the communist philosophy and Krishna consciousness. A very good read.