Gandhism and Marxism refer to the ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi and Karl Marx respectively.
Marx was a nineteenth-century German philosopher; whereas Gandhi was a twentieth-century Indian philosopher. Both Gandhi and Marx were deeply concerned with the plight of the oppressed section of society.
Gandhi and Marx both aimed at the formation of a classless and stateless society to ensure equality among the society.
It is believed that their Gandhism and Marxism were similar to each other; however, there were also contrasts.
By analysing both Gandhism and Marxism, it is revealed that the differences are more prominent than the similarities.
For Marx, the society was divided into ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ i.e. based on ownership of private property. Marx anticipated the formation of a socialist society by the means of violent revolution in which the bourgeoise class will be overthrown by the proletariat and the dictatorship of the proletariat will prevail.
For Gandhi, the division of society was due to the mental outlook of people who regarded one type of work (physical labour) as inferior to another type (mental labour). Gandhi suggested ‘dignity of labour’, particularly physical labour as a key to a classless society. He also put forward the idea of ‘bread labour’ for everybody.
Marx suggested social ownership of means of production to establish a classless society. Gandhi enunciated the principle of ‘trusteeship’ which required the change of hearts of capitalists. Marx wanted the development of technological means and production so that everyone’s needs could be satisfied.
Whereas Gandhi was against the technological revolution. He suggested “production by masses instead of mass production”.
Marx believed in the concept of ‘scientific socialism’ whereas Gandhi proposed the principle of ‘Sarvodaya’ to uplift every section of society. Marx was a materialist; Gandhi was a spiritualist.
Marx disapproved of religion and regarded it as the ‘opium of people. On the contrary, religion was a moralising force according to Gandhi and essential for human life.
Marx presumed that in a classless society the state would wither away; whereas Gandhi believed that slowly the state would become redundant if non-violence is adopted as a universal principle.
One major difference can also be found in the ideology of ends and means.
Gandhi never suggested the use of unjust means to achieve the goal. He was in the favour of adopting non-violence and truth as a way of life.
For Marx, violence was the only method to bring about a change in the society as he said “violence is the midwife of change”.
Despite the differences in the ideologies, Gandhi and Marx are believed to be the prominent philosophers in history and their theories and methods have been considered significant by scholars.