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.