Buddha or Karl Marx

34 pages

Dr. Ambedkar admits that at first glance a comparison of Buddha and Karl Marx seems unreasonable. However, both can be considered practical philosophers attempting to create a more equitable world. Also, both saw that the abolition of private property would lead to a fairer and freer society.

Karl Marx proposed what he felt was a scientific socialism. In Marx’s estimation, a revolution by the poor was inevitable due to mounting inequality. The poor would collectively own the means of production through dictatorship. Once the dictatorship removed the concept of private property, a new equitable society would flourish.

However, the Communist plan has been implemented in Russia since 1917 after a violent revolution. The implementation of policies has also necessitated the use of violence and coercion. The use of force has no end in sight. Even though Marx claimed that implementing Communism would eventually lead the dissolution of the state, there is no evidence of this happening. Also if the state dissolved, it seems it would be replaced by Anarchy.

In contrast, Buddha set out to change people’s understanding of the world. Ambedkar then goes on to explain various Buddhist concepts such as The Four Noble Truths, The Ten Hindrances, and the Ten Virtues. He describes how these teaching systematically remove the idea that the individual can exist on his own or personal gain will lead to lasting happiness (ego). Once a person thinks in a collective sense, they will not want to own the means of production and want it owned by the collective.

To reframe this in Integral terminology, Buddha focused on interiors, and Marx concentrated on exteriors. Buddha understood that external changes only happen once a person’s attitude changes. If externals change without the internals, there will always need to be some greater force holding society together. People will not be motivated to maintain a healthy society without coercion so the society will always be unstable.

One of the criticisms that Communist often levy on Buddhist or people with religion is that religion makes people “otherworldly”. Those with religion care more about the afterlife than building an equitable future here on earth. Ambedkar illustrates how Buddhism professes and supports building material wealth inside the boundaries of law and morality. Buddhism is not an otherworldly religion. Ambedkar goes further to say Communist attempt to paint all religions with the same brush.

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Buddha or Karl Marx