Comparative Study of Gandhi and Marx


Pragya Markandey | Hidayatullah University, Academia – TRANSCEND Media Service

  • Gandhian political thought
  • Marxian political theory
  • Similarities & dissimilarities

18 Mar 2019 – What can be a more fascinating study to us in the present age than that of a comparison between the ideologies of Gandhi, the great soul (mahatma), and Marx, the great thinker (maha-muni)? If the last hundred years or so of the social life of humanity were boiled away, the residue will most likely be these two great names. Lenin is ingested in Marx. And the shadow of Tolstoy spreads over Gandhi. The two ideologies stand face to face, each bent on swallowing up the other.

Whatever interest the world may or may not take in the comparative study of Gandhi and Marx, in our own country at least, it has become a subject of everyday discussion among the educated. Every discourser attempts to weigh Gandhi and Marx and measure them up according to his capacity. If the Gandhian thought shows up a halo of spirituality around it, Communism has-at its back the support of a scientific terminology. Having proved its worth by securing Swaraj for us, Gandhism may no longer be dubbed visionary and impracticable. And Communism, too, has for the moment proved its virility by rejuvenating the, hoary old China. This tempts some workers to seek a reconciliation of the two systems, and has led to the enunciation of formulae like, “Gandhism is Communism minus violence”. The fact of the matter is that these two ideologies are irreconcilable; the differences between them are fundamental.

Just as the sons of Sagar discovered the source of the Ganga, so also these thinkers have traced the whole course of human history. And they have arrived at the conclusion that just as an arrow that has been shot will, not deflect from its path but must take a definitely determinable course, so also it is with mankind. Its past history has decided once for all its future course. There is no longer any freedom of action left us. Everything is determined. There will be first rivers of blood, then rivers of milk and honey, and then will follow those of fresh and cool water flowing by each happy home assuaging the thirst of all mankind. Their study and research of history has provided them with a well-knit science of revolution as exact as Euclidean Geometry.

          I. Gandhian Political Thought


Gandhian political theory has been broadly debated from two important perspectives. One argument places Gandhian political theory as a relative or a reconciled pattern of both Western and Eastern traditions. The other argument suggests that Gandhi is an original thinker, in the sense that he is a unique innovator of political concepts, inherently based on Indian traditions. In this way, it can be argued that Gandhi developed a distinctive and an alternative version of political theory compared to Western notion of political theory.

Gandhian political theory has been broadly debated from two important perspectives. One argument places Gandhian political theory as a relative or a reconciled pattern of both western and eastern traditions. The other argument suggests that Gandhi is an original thinker, in the sense that he is a unique innovator of political concepts, inherently based on Indian traditions. In this way, it can be argued that Gandhi developed a distinctive as well as an alternative version of political theory compared to western notion of political theory. However, he himself did not believe in any such absolute predictions or prescriptive norms of truth. He believed in no permanent truth (except God) and discarded his own ideas by saying that they are as old as the Himalayas. He also nullified the fact that there is nothing specific about Gandhism.

Gandhi on Politics

Politics in its simplest meaning denotes human activity to exercise power. Power is perceived as the language of politics. The end of politics is to seek power. In politics, power is considered as an end. However, for Gandhi, power is a means to enable people to pursue their life in a better way by feasibly arranging conditions of good life. But Gandhi’s indictment of modern civilization shows that he is keenly interested in a spiritual and moral politics inherently rooted in traditional Indian politics. The modern civilization is satanic civilization which is ultimately a soulless enterprise. In a material society the state and its agency is entirely corrupt. All the political institutions are instruments for multiplying wealth by coercive means and this provides a psychological incentive connected with power. The interplay of power and moral values is the central problem of politics. Gandhi repudiated the conventional meaning of politics and introduced a wider domain of power in which the dichotomies of private and public morals got diminished and religious values and political norms got shrunk. And ethical principles and political expediency got minimized.

Gandhi just after his arrival in India, as early as 1915, felt to declare his aim and, that is, to spiritualize political life and political institutions. Returning to the traditional source of society in India, Gandhi remarked that caste organization fulfilled not only religious want of the community but also its political needs. In his autobiography, he mentioned that he was attracted into politics for his devotion to truth and that his power in political field stemmed from his spiritual experiments with himself. He condemned those who say religion has nothing to do with politics. However, his mission of entering into politics was to purify it through the introduction of ashram or monastic ideal into politics. Gandhi’s most uncommon trait of entering into politics was by most important qualification of adopting voluntary poverty to do selfless service for wider society. There is close relationship between politics and social reform.

Gandhi was not to be accurately considered as a student of Kant, but he derived his position from the Bhagavad Gita as well as his own experience of religious studies. He attempted a strand of Indian philosophy into his religious understanding of politics, that is, the path of Karma Yoga or spiritual realization through social action. He experiences in India that the politics has been corrupted and the time has come to purify it. Politics is dangerous but not sinful or beyond redemption. Now it can be performed as a spiritual perfection as legitimate and sacred as any other spiritual path. Politics though cannot be understood through spiritualism but it can be approached continuously through a process of spiritual self-purification. Gandhi followed, in fact, the thoughts of the Buddha in framing the link between service of suffering humanity and the process of self- purification. He erased the distinction between mundane and the ultra mundane, the natural and the supernatural. Neither artha (politics) nor moksnya (salvation) could be separated from dharma (social and personal morality). He recommended artha as an aspect of and politics as branch of ethics.

Gandhi on Religion

Gandhi was primarily a man of religion. His religion was based on truth and love, and nonviolence. It is his religion that became his philosophy of life, and it gave him strength. Gandhi expressed the opinion that religion can become a basis for friendship among all mankind. He strongly believed that religion does not teach mutual enmity. He consid­ered that different religions as the different roads going towards the same destination. Gandhi out of his own experiences and readings came to the conclusion that all religions are based on the same principles, namely, truth and love. He claimed that religion is a binding force and not a dividing force. He was greatly perturbed by the fighting among people in the name of religion, and, in fact, laid his life for the sake of religious unity.

According to Gandhi, the main aim of religion is to make a one-on-one interac­tion between God and humans. He believed God is identical with truth. He perceived God through the service of humanity, because God lives in the heart of every human being or for that matter in every one of his creations.Gandhi believed that there is no issue of having only one religion because God himself created different religions and no one has the power to question the same. Gandhi opined the ultimate aim of the human being is the vision of God and for this purpose, all activities—be it social, political or economic—must aim at the realization of God.

Gandhi supported two different notions of reality that helped in correctly judging the faiths of various religions. He had a balanced regional approach that led him to take the whole world in the embrace of his love. He believed in the twin doctrine of Satya and Ahimsa. The term Satya means truth and Ahimsa means nonviolence.

These two principles helped Gandhi in evolving a comprehensive view of religion that was far beyond the narrow sectarianism. For Gandhi there is no higher way of worshiping God than serving the poor and identifying God in them.He, out of personal choice, wanted to travel in third class compartment and usually clad himself in a loin cloth that reminded him that he was one among the poor millions and that he belonged to the lower order of mankind and where humanity and love were found to be the richest.

Gandhi understood the term ‘love’ in terms of nonviolence. It was based on this understanding that Gandhi attempted to enlighten people that differences in the various religions were only in terms of their approach to God. He believed that truth and love are the two instruments that bind us to one another and also to the God.

Gandhi on Nonviolence

Gandhi saw violence pejoratively and also identified two forms of violence; Passive and Physical, as we saw earlier. The practice of passive violence is a daily affair, consciously and unconsciously. It is again the fuel that ignites the fire of physical violence. Gandhi understands violence from its Sanskrit root, “himsa”, meaning injury. In the midst of hyper violence, Gandhi teaches that the one who possess nonviolence is blessed. Blessed is the man who can perceive the law of ahimsa (nonviolence) in the midst of the raging fire of himsa all around him. We bow in reverence to such a man by his example. The more adverse the circumstances around him, the intenser grows his longing for deliverance from the bondage of flesh which is a vehicle of himsa Gandhi objects to violence because it perpetuates hatred. When it appears to do ‘good’, the good is only temporary and cannot do any good in the long run.

A true nonviolence activist accepts violence on himself without inflicting it on another. This is heroism, and will be discussed in another section. When Gandhi says that in the course of fighting for human rights, one should accept violence and self-suffering, he does not applaud cowardice. Cowardice for him is “the greatest violence, certainly, far greater than bloodshed and the like that generally go under the name of violence.” For Gandhi, perpetrators of violence (whom he referred to as criminals), are products of social disintegration. Gandhi feels that violence is not a natural tendency of humans. It is a learned experience. There is need for a perfect weapon to combat violence and this is nonviolence.Gandhi understood nonviolence from its Sanskrit root “Ahimsa”. Ahimsa is just translated to mean nonviolence in English, but it implies more than just avoidance of physical violence. Ahimsa implies total nonviolence, no physical violence, and no passive violence. Gandhi translates Ahimsa as love. This is explained by Arun Gandhi in an interview thus;

“He (Gandhi) said ahimsa means love. Because if you have love towards somebody, and you respect that person, then you are not going to do any harm to that person.”  

For Gandhi, nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than any weapon of mass destruction. It is superior to brute force. It is a living force of power and no one has been or will ever be able to measure its limits or it’s extend.Gandhi’s nonviolence is the search for truth. Truth is the most fundamental aspect in Gandhi’s Philosophy of nonviolence. His whole life has been “experiments of truth”. It was in this course of his pursuit of truth that Gandhi discovered nonviolence, which he further explained in his Autobiography thus “Ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth. I am realizing that this search is vain, unless it is founded on ahimsa as the basis.”  Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.

For nonviolence to be strong and effective, it must begin with the mind, without which it will be nonviolence of the weak and cowardly. A coward is a person who lacks courage when facing a dangerous and unpleasant situation and tries to avoid it. A man cannot practice ahimsa and at the same time be a coward. True nonviolence is dissociated from fear. Gandhi feels that possession of arms is not only cowardice but also lack of fearlessness or courage. Gandhi stressed this when he says; “I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice but true nonviolence is impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness[i]

Gandhi on Satyagraha

Satyagraha  is a compound of two Sanskrit nouns satya, meaning truth  and agraha, meaning, “firm grasping. Thus Satyagraha literally means devotion to truth, remaining firm on the truth and resisting untruth actively but nonviolently. Since the only way for Gandhi getting to the truth is by nonviolence (love), it follows that Satyagraha implies an unwavering search for the truth using nonviolence

Satyagraha is a moral weapon and the stress is on soul force over physical force. It aims at winning the enemy through love and patient suffering. It aims at winning over an unjust law, not at crushing, punishing, or taking revenge against the authority, but to convert and heal it. Though it started as a struggle for political rights, Satyagraha became in the long run a struggle for individual salvation, which could be achieved through love and self-sacrifice. Satyagraha is meant to overcome all methods of violence. Gandhi explained in a letter to Lord Hunter that Satyagraha is a movement based entirely upon truth. It replaces every form of violence, direct and indirect, veiled and unveiled and whether in thought, word or deed.

Satyagraha is for the strong in spirit. A doubter or a timid person cannot do it. Satyagraha teaches the art of living well as well as dying. It is love and unshakeable firmness that comes from it. Its training is meant for all, irrespective of age and sex. The most important training is mental not physical. It has some basic precepts treated below.

Gandhi on Ends and Means

Gandhi seems to stand almost alone among social and political thinkers in his firm rejection of the rigid dichotomy between ends and means and in his extreme moral preoccupation with the means to the extent that they rather than the ends provide the standard of reference. He was led to this position by his early acceptance of satya and ahimsa, truth and nonviolence, as twin moral absolutes and his consistent view of their relationship. In Hind Swaraj he wrote that even great men who have been considered religious have committed grievous crimes through the mistaken belief that there is no moral connection or interdependence between the means and the end. We cannot get a rose through planting a noxious weed. “The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree.” It is not as though violence and nonviolence are merely different means to secure the same end. As they are morally different in quality and essence, they must necessarily achieve different results.

The customary dichotomy between means and ends originates in, and reinforces, the view that they are two entirely different categories of action and that their relationship is mainly a technical matter to be settled by considering what will be effective and what is possible in a given situation, that the ethical problem of choice requires an initial decision regarding the desired end and the obligatory acceptance of whatever steps seem necessary to secure it or are most likely to do so. Gandhi, however, was led by his metaphysical belief in the “law” of karma – the “law” of ethical causation or moral retribution that links all the acts of interdependent individuals – to the view that the relationship between means and ends is organic, the moral quality of the latter being causally dependent upon that of the former

Gandhi on Education

Gandhi strongly holds that education is not end in itself but it is the most powerful weapon which creates all persons of genuine characters. There is degeneration of education when the qualities of truthfulness, firmness, tolerance are absence from it. True education is life process which helps in cultivating the spirit of co-operation, tolerance, public spirit and a sense of responsibility. All these qualities are considered as disciplines for the development of human personality. Such disciplines can create the harmonious balance between the individuals and social aim of education. His principle of ‘learning by doing’ tries to stimulate the individual’s mind to think creatively, independently and critically. His great emphasis on work-culture to the students from the primary stage to higher stage is to enable the students to start producing from the time he started his training. So, his primary information of basic education is Head, Heart and Hand rather than Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

Gandhi also maintains that education is essential for the attainment of the goal of peace. It can be attained only through morality and ethics. According to Gandhi, education is the realization of the best in man – body, soul and spirit. He maintained that education must be based on ethics and morality. Ethics and morality are integral to Gandhi’s life. All his thoughts, actions and speeches are based on these two concepts. From the ethical perspective, education may be considered as a means of attainment of salvation. It helps to the path of the complete peace. Peace is the absence of violence and hostile thought. As a daily practitioner of nonviolence, Gandhi right from his earlier stage considered that nonviolence is an indivisible, important and essential part of education. We cannot be separated education from ethics, morality and spiritualism. For this purpose Gandhi has given some rules for all students so as to ensure that morality and righteousness always be considered as an essential part of their education. Regarding this, such rules can make to right thinking, self-control, service to the society, respect to others and constant awareness for their duties and responsibilities.

II. Marxian Political Theory


Karl Marx was an intellectual who developed influential political dogmas. He was the first philosopher to bring together the various elements of socialist thought into both a coherent world view and an emotional principle of struggle. Along with Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), with whom he shared an unmatched partnership, Marx dissected 19 the century capitalism as scientific socialism or communism. Marxism is not only a critical evaluator of capitalism but also a feasible or credible alternative to it. Marxism is an orientation, programme of action and a working class movement.

Karl Marx is considered as originator of Modern Communism. The theory of communism be indebted its birth to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. According to the theory of communism, the only practical thing was to obtain mastery over the governing laws of society. Besides this, Karl Marx and Engels wanted to know the causes of economic changes in human society. They also wanted to discover what further changes are required. They established that the changes in human society were not the least accidental like changes in external nature. They worked out a scientific theory of society based on the actual experience of men. Karl Marx applied this theory to the society in which he lived mainly Capitalist Britain. He had an opinion that it was quite impossible to separate his economic theories from historical and social theories. Marx criticized the existing capitalist institutions. He did not believe in the essential goodness of man. He considered that a man is more as an economic than as a political animal.

Marx on Politics

When it comes to Marxist politics, Marxists see the world as a struggle between the bourgeoisie (owners of private property and the means of production) and the proletariat (workers), with economics as the foundation on which the rest of society is built. Marxists believe the state is an arena in which the haves and the have-nots struggle. Thus, Marxists see a democratic state or republic, especially in a capitalist economic system, as undesirable. According to Engels, “The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine.” This “machine” is an unacceptable state since it so clearly focuses on exploiting its citizens.

In a socialist society, the mode of production does not exploit its citizens to the extent that capitalism does and thus encourages a less exploitative political system. Socialist governments tend to discourage class antagonism since they are founded on economic systems that are close to abolishing class distinctions. This less exploitative nature of government makes the democracy more genuine and socialism more appealing than capitalism. Socialism, however, still lacks several factors of the ideal state of communism.

The ideal state for the Marxist is no state at all, since any government (whether a democracy or a dictatorship) is a vehicle for maintaining class antagonism. Marx says, “Political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another.”The state exists, therefore, because class antagonism exists. Once class antagonism is eradicated, the state will no longer be necessary.

Marx on Religion

Marx understood that religion served a purpose or a function in society but did not agree as to the basis of that function. For most, religion is seen through faith or teachings that are held to be true. Religion teaches morality, values, and beliefs that a society will hold its evaluation of behavior against. Marx had a hard time believing in unseen truths. The basis of his argument is that humans should be led by reason and that religion was masking the truth and misguiding followers. He believed that when one views society and life through the lens of religion, they are blinded to the realities of their life. Religion, then, was a false hope and comfort to the poor. He saw that poor used their religion as a means to find comfort in their circumstances, thus aiding in the process of alienation. Marx saw religion as an evil that existed in society and that it brought down all the people that believed in that religion. Marx said that, Religion is the opium of the people, and in saying this, Marx meant that religion was contagious on society.

There was always constant separation between the different creeds and even conflicts between different sects of the same basic religion. For in so far as society is viewed as class divided and religion as a source of social stability, then it follows that religion is an instrument of class domination. In saying this, Marx means that religion does not accomplish what it was intended in doing, and not only has it failed in one of its true goals, but it has done a one-hundred eighty degree turn to do the opposite of its aim. People originally made up religions as a way of life, but Marx criticizes it no longer exists in this fashion. The state of religion that Marx hates is when the religions begin to make the man.

A major belief of any religion is the belief in the spiritual aspect of ones life. Marx denounces this because anything spiritual is merely a surreal thought that has no relevant backing to it. Marx teaches that spiritual as well as physical faculties are inherent in the human body, that man is a product of nature and consists of natural elements changed into a human form. The physical aspect is the basic part of life is what Marx is trying to communicate here. Because everything physical is of nature and human beings are also part of nature, everything in the physical world is essential part of humanity.[ii]

Marx on Violence

Marx favoured the use of violence and argued that unless violence was used the evil institutions of the state and capitalism could not be done away with. Hence it is said that the Gandhian is not merely communism shelved of violence . Though there appears to be some formal identity between the two in reality sharp deferences exists between the two with regard to the end as well as the means to achieves these ends .

“ There is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new – revolutionary terror “  — Karl Marx

Marx on Communism

Marx described communism as a form of society which the proletariat will bring into existence through its revolutionary struggle. In his Economic and Philosophical Texts, Marx explained communism as the positive abolition of private property. It also entailed the abolition of classes and abolition of division of labour. In economic terms, the communist society will be a society of associated producers’. In political terms, communism will be the first state in the history of mankind to political power for universal interests instead of partisan interests.

Marx created his vision of communism out of the human and technological potentials already visible in his time, given the priorities that would be accepted by a new socialist society. Marx believed that the programs presented by a triumphant working class to deal with the problems left by the old society and the revolution would uncheck a social dynamic whose general results could be recorded previously. Marx declares, “we do not anticipate the world dogmatically, but rather wish to find the new world through the criticism of the old.”

Marx spoke of two stages of communist society. In the first stage, communism will bring about the socialization of means of production. It means that the means of production will not be in the hands of any one class but in the hands of society as a whole. At the second and final stage, the communist society will guarantee the end of man’s power by objective forces. According to Marx, communism is not only the abolition of private property but also the eradication of state and abolition of classes. It will be a classless and stateless society in which government of men will be replaced by administration of things. Marx visualized communism as the final solution of the conflict between existence and essence, freedom and necessity.

Marx on Ends and Means

The first Marxist principle is, of course, The Ends Justify The Means. In the effort of achieving the ultimate End, Marxists adopt the second Marxist principle, which says that You Can’t Make An Omelet Without Breaking Some Eggs. Achieving ultimate economic, political and social power is not necessarily a pretty process, and if people must die in the process, then so be it. When all else fails, and trickery and treachery alone do not provide the ultimate End, then all good Marxists need to be ready to say Shut Up And Get On The Cattle Car to the last hold-outs and resistors of the process. Achieving societal perfection is not a pretty process, and real Marxists need to be fully prepared to do whatever nasty things are deemed necessary to achieve that final End

Marx on Education

Marxist education will lay stress on indoctrination of ideas and practices. In Marxist state, education aims at creating Marxist attitude and values. The state is to be strengthened through the creation of a classless society. The proletariat will, no doubt, dominate in the Marxist state. But education will not be limited to a handful of people. Marxism lays stress on providing education to all sections of the society, i.e., universal education.

Equalisation of educational opportunity is the Marxist educational goal. Marxist education aims at maximum good to the maximum number. Social advancement is to be ensured through education. Education is considered as the greatest instrument of social change. Only intellectual education cannot achieve this goal.

Hence, in Marxism, emphasis is laid on vocational and technological education. All educands must know clearly the true character of social development. History and economics should be taught in proper perspective. The students must learn the fundamental principles of science.

In Marxist education ‘labor and work’ are considered as integral parts. A workman cannot work properly unless he possesses a sound health. Hence physical education is considered as an important aim in Marxist education. It also aims at cultural and aesthetic development, and further aims at indoctrination in communist and socialist values. Marxist education aims at creating creative, productive and faithful citizenship.

III. Similarities & Dissimilarities of Gandhi and Marx

 Conception of Ideal State:

There is a great similarity between Mahatma Gandhi and Kart Marx. However, while the final aim of both them it the establishments of a stateless and classless society, their means for achieving this aim are different. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to achieve this end through nonviolent means but Marx wanted to achieve it through violent means.


Though both Mahatma Gandhi and Karl Marx were opposed to capitalism and exploitation, yet they propagated different means to remove capitalism not by violent means but through economic decentralization, by encouraging cottage industries, and by making the capitalist trustees. Karl Marx was also dead against capitalism. He was the father of socialism. He was not prepared to tolerate capitalism in any form.

But for achieving this aim he believed in employing violent means. During his time the condition in Europe was such that it was not possible to abolish capitalism by parliamentary or nonviolent means. He had no faith in economic decentralisation. He wanted to remove the government through revolution in order to destroy capitalism root and branch.

 Spiritualism vs Materialism:

Mahatma Gandhi was decisively a spiritualist. On every aspect of his life there was a deep impact of religion. He was saint and a staunch believer in God. He did not attach any importance to materialism and luxuries of life. He said that man should have minimum needs. He did not attach any importance to politics devoid of religion.

Karl Marx considered religion as opium for the workers, because in his view religion made man a fatalist and it did not allow discontentment to arise in the workers against capitalism. The result was that they lacked organisation and enthusiasm needed for a revolution. Marx did not believe in God. He was a materialist and he gave materialistic and economic interpretation of history, in which he stressed the importance of economic factors.

In countries, like the U.S.S.R. China and those countries of Eastern Europe on which socialism had been introduced, religion was discouraged. No one can preach religion there, and religious education was banned in schools and colleges.

Ends and Means:

Mahatma Gandhi was not in favour of using violent means for achieving a good end. Therefore, he adopted nonviolent means for the achievement of India’s freedom and criticised revolutionaries who wanted to adopt all types of means, including the violent ones, for the achievement of India’s freedom. Marxists do not believe in nonviolence.

They believe that capitalism cannot be abolished trough parliamentary means and socialist revolution is not possible without the use of violence. Thus, Karl Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto ‘Let the capitalists tremble at the Communist revolution’

Class War:

Marxists have a deep faith in class struggle. Marx said that there had been two classes in each country since the very beginning. One class was of the exploiters and the other of the exploited. Though these classes had different names in different countries, yet they were always at logger heads with each other. Today the capitalists are the exploiters and the workers are the exploited.

According to Marx, there can never be compromise between the two and there would be a continuous conflict between the two. Mahatma Gandhi said that class- struggle brought ruin to the country and it made the production of goods fall considerably. All propertied persons were not bad. There was an urgent need to change their minds.

The capitalists should become the trustees of the country’s wealth and they should use their genius for the common weal. The capitalists should fix a nominal profit in consultation with the society. All classes should co-operate with one another in order to increase production. Gandhiji was not in favour of big industries.

He said that big industries encouraged capitalism. He was in favour of cottage industries, which freed the workers from the domination of the capitalists and did not allow the concentration of the country’s wealth in the hands of a few persons. He wanted the people to limit their daily needs and lead a simple life.

Investment of Capital:

With regard to the investment of capital the views of Marx and Gandhiji are different. Marxists say that there should be socialisation of the means of production. First of all they want to transfer to it the control of all the industries. Mahatma Gandhi allows the investment of private capital but not exploitation through it.

He wants to make the capitalists trustees of the national wealth. In case the capitalists do not agree to become the trustees, he is ready to give the power to the state to control the industries of the capitalists by using minimum force. He is also not in favour of snatching land from the landlords by force.

He is ready to accept their private ownership on land, while Marx is not ready to allow private ownership on land. Gandhi is also in favour of co-operative farming, while the Marxists are in favour of collective farming, in which there is a great control of the state.

Democracy vs Dictatorship:

Gandhiji had a firm faith in democracy, but he considered the Western democracy as incomplete. He said that there should be decentralisation of power. The Panchayats in the village should be given more powers and the villages should be given complete autonomy. He was the supporter of welfare state and hated dictatorship or autocracy. The Marxists believe in the Dictatorship of the proletariat. They want to give maximum powers to the workers. In the transitory period the Marxists want to give more powers to the state.

In the name of the working class, these powers have been utilised by the Communist Party in the U.S.S.R., China and Communist countries of Eastern Europe. The state has established its control over all the aspects of the individual’s life and democracy has been slain. Gandhiji was a staunch supporter of individual liberty. He wanted to win over the entire humanity with the power of love. Thus we cannot deny that there are certain similarities and dissimilarities between the two.[iii]

IV. Conclusion

Mahatma Gandhi and Karl Marx , undoubtedly both were brilliant political thinker. They analyzed the politics very deeply and gave their well known theories which have been discussed in this project. This project especially focused on their views on politics , religion , education , end & means, way of revolution, and all their basic principles. Gandhi believed in nonviolence and said,  “I will not purchase my country’s freedom at the cost of nonviolence.” On the other hand, Marx was in favour of violence: “There is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new – revolutionary terror.” Hence it is said that Gandhian is not merely communism shelved of violence. Similarly as on the one side Gandhi believed  in spiritualizing politics, Marx says “religion is an opium to the people.” Gandhi attached importance to the means and argued if proper means were adopted good ends would automatically be achieved on the other hand Marx attached importance to the ends ans stood for its attainment through just or unjust means . Gandhi hated the evil and not the evil doer but Marx hated both of them.


  • Principles of political theory and organisation – by Prof. L.S. Rathore and Prof. S.A.H. Haqqi , published by prem rawat for rawat publication
  • Western political thought –K Sharma and Urmila Sharma , published by atlantic, edition-2012
  • A history of political thought plato to marx – by Subrata mukherjee & Sushila ramaswamy , published by atlantic , edition-second
  • Gandhian political thought
  • Great thinkers Karl Marx
  • Political ideologies and concept


[i] Gandhian political thought – – accessed on 10th march’19 at 11:00 PM

[ii]  Great thinkers Karl Marx – – accessed on 10th march’19 at 11:30PM

[iii] Political ideologies and concept – – accessed on 11th march’19 at 10:00PM


Pragya Markandey is a graduate student at the Hidayatullah National Law University.

Paper submitted to Assistant Prof. of Political Science Kamal Narayan

Go to Original –


Tags: , , , , , , ,


Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Comments are closed.