Swamiji on politics, socialism, and spiritual awakening

“In India we have social communism, with the light of Advaita ~ playing in and around; in Europe you are socially individualists, but your thought is dualistic, which is spiritual communism. Thus, the one consists of socialistic institutions, hedged in by individualistic thought, while the other is made up of individualist institutions, within the hedge of communistic thought.”

“I could not preach religion in England without showing the wonderful political changes Vedanta would bring. So, in India, social reform has to be preached by showing how much more a spiritual life the new system will bring; and politics has to be preached by showing how much it will improve the one thing that the nation wants ~ its spirituality.”


What can we say of the system here in England? Everything goes to show that Socialism or some form of rule by the people, call it what you will, is coming on the boards. The people will certainly want the satisfaction of their material needs, less work, no oppression, no war, more food. What guarantee have we that this or any civilisation will last, unless it is based on religion, on the goodness of man? Depend on it, religion goes to the root of the matter. If it is right, all is right.

A time will come when there will be the rising of the Shudra class, with their Shudra-hood; that is to say, not like that as at present when the Shudras are becoming great by acquiring the characteristic qualities of the Vaishya or the Kshatriya, but a time will come when the Shudras of every country, with their inborn Shudra nature and habits — not becoming in essence Vaishya or Kshatriya, but remaining as Shudras — will gain absolute supremacy in every society. The first glow of the dawn of this new power has already begun to break slowly upon the Western world, and the thoughtful are at their wits’ end to reflect upon the final issue of this fresh phenomenon.

I do not know all the difficulties about the gold or silver standards (nobody seems to know much as to that), but this much I see that the gold standard has been making the poor poorer, and the rich richer. Bryan was right when he said, “We refuse to be crucified on a cross of gold.” The silver standard will give the poor a better chance in this unequal fight. I am a socialist not because I think it is a perfect system, but half a loaf is better than no bread.

The other systems have been tried and found wanting. Let this one be tried — if for nothing else, for the novelty of the thing. A redistribution of pain and pleasure is better than always the same persons having pains and pleasures. The sum total of good and evil in the world remains ever the same. The yoke will be lifted from shoulder to shoulder by new systems, that is all.

Let every dog have his day in this miserable world, so that after this experience of so-called happiness they may all come to the Lord and give up this vanity of a world and governments and all other botherations.

With love to you all,

Ever your faithful brother,
VIVEKANANDA.

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