The Distinction Between Marx and Gandhi

Karl Marx was one of the triumvirate of the three leading sociological thinkers of 19th century Europe, his two competing contemporaries being Émile Durkheim and Max Weber.

Marx believed in the inevitability of change through the dialectical tension between economic classes. One of his famous observations was,

Conflict is the midwife of change.

Recognizing that this dynamic process had many applications for organizational change, I employed Marxist precepts in guiding Piňon Management through its various transitions. The person-directed care movement, which is directing the overthrow of the institutional model of long-term care, has aspects of Marxist sociology.

Gandhi was a spiritual master that practiced nonviolence to obtain social equality and liberation from oppressors. He was also a believer of change, his approach successfully liberating India from British colonialism. Martin Luther King, Jr. adopted the philosophy of Gandhi during the 1960’s and the great civil rights movement in this country.

Marx and Gandhi each approached change and conflict with a profound difference. Marx believed that the ends justified the means. Gandhi, however, deliberately espoused that the means needed to be worthy of the ends.

Marx justified violence for the purpose of an evolved society, whereas Gandhi postulated that violence only diminishes the human spirit.

On some level, I attempted to practice the synthesis between Marx and Gandhi. I believe that person-directed care needs to confront the established institutional order, but only through conflict that is respectful and compassionate. This truly was the foundation of my career.

2 thoughts on “The Distinction Between Marx and Gandhi

  1. Conflict is always present. Of course it can be denied, hidden, not fully understood or denied by historic ingrained beliefs. There perhaps can be another approach besides conflict resolution, which is of the essence of the Old and New Testament called “letting go so you can love” if one wants to truly find who one is or to have any mystical experience one must let go, be silent and open oneself to the spirit within you and the creation that exists around you. In the N.T. when a wealthy man came before Jesus and wanted to follow Jesus, Jesus said, “Give up all that you have and come follow me”. Of course the man silently and sadly walked away. Or the constant reminder in both the OT and NT, regarding , Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, blessed are the compassionate, blessed are the peacemakers.
    Administrating a Nursing Home one must see, feel and understand what the residents gave up, and the compassion that the staff must have for these now blessed people both the resident and the caregiver both who are poor, certainly not the 1% or even the middle class. Ideology of any sort will not make one a lover. Love and Compassion are the essence of being a fully human being.

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