“I am not ashamed to own that many capitalists are friendly towards me and do not fear me.”
–Gandhi (Harijan, Young India, 10-27-1921)
Gandhi was not anti-capitalist. The most we can say about him in this regard is that he was anti-capitalism, that is, against unmitigated materialism while always pro the human being. He would reiterate time and again that the wealthy did not need to renounce their wealth; rather, they had to realize that they were its trustees and put it toward the public good. And many capitalists looked up to Gandhi’s values. It’s not too surprising: while materialism promises fulfillment, it’s really simplicity, as Gandhi embodied it, that actually fulfills it.
Did you know, for example, that Steve Jobs, one of the most celebrated capitalists of our time, was a great admirer of Gandhi? Think about it: his signature round glasses? It turns out that he wore them in honor of the Mahatma’s simple wireframe spectacles. Is that too much of a shock? After all, Jobs was a seeker of a kind of simplicity (i-simplicity, I suppose) and sought to facilitate the realization of our interconnection through technology. While in many ways he is worlds apart from the values of the Mahatma, if he and Gandhi lived at the same time, they might have done something amazing together. It’s worth thinking about, in any case, and who knows, maybe they are collaborating now. As those who knew both of them would agree, neither were prone to sitting idle for too long anyway, why would death stop them?
Experiment in Nonviolence:
Do something to honor Gandhi today in your values.
Daily Metta 2015, a service of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, is a daily reflection on the strategic and spiritual insights of Mahatma Gandhi in thought, word and deed. As Gandhi called his life an “experiment in truth,” we have included an experiment in nonviolence to accompany each Daily Metta. Check in every day for new inspiration. Each year will be dedicated to another wisdom teacher.