The second movement is one which is now being tried out in Russia. The cardinal points of this movement are that individual effort should be replaced by collective effort; that manual workers should be secured against want and privation; that purely intellectual workers should have no claim upon the State; that all surplus wealth should belong to and be at the disposal of the State; that the State should have full control and direction over the means and sources of production; that the education and training of children should be in the hands of the State and not of the parents; and that the movement should seek to gain universal acceptance. These people believe in the rule of the masses, but are not prepared to entrust political power to them for a considerable time to come. This movement is known as Bolshevism in Russia and as Communism in other countries.
It suffers from the following defects: its most serious defect is that it forbids individual effort. This perhaps is not realised fully at the moment, but its disadvantages are bound to be felt more and more as time passes. Man is so constituted that he is much more keenly interested in that which visibly promotes his own interest, or through him that of others but is not interested to the same degree in anything the benefit of which is not observed directly but seems rather remote. Our interest in our own work or occupation is stimulated by knowledge of the results we achieve. Under ordinary systems a student’s interest in his studies is stimulated constantly by the urge towards the achievement of the objective he has set to himself. One may be working to secure respectable employment in the service of the State; another may desire to work up to the position of a Captain of industry; a third may wish to become a commercial magnate. In each case the motive may be to secure comfort for himself and those dependent upon him and to exercise power in a certain sphere. When this incentive is removed and the State determines that every person irrespective of his education or training and his intellectual capacity shall receive the same reward, intellectual effort is bound to decline and to be discounted. An average student will cease to put forth his best effort, and diligence will decline. There will be very few who will seek to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge; the majority will become comparatively indifferent. This attitude will spread to all occupations, professions, arts and sciences. The result will be a gradual decline in intellectual qualities.
Experience shows that intellectual qualities and acquirements are transmitted through heredity. That is why eminence in many arts and sciences is known to be inherent in certain families, tribes, races or nations. For instance, the Italians have always excelled as painters, sculptors and musicians. The Kashmiris are adepts at the culinary art and calligraphy. Other nations have attained eminence in other fields. Even among individuals, it is generally observed that the qualities of the father are repeated in the son and even remoter descendants. That moral and intellectual qualities are transmitted through heredity no longer admits of any doubt. It is true that environment exercises a very potent influence over an individual’s development, but it is none the less true that an individual inherits many moral and intellectual qualities. Under the operation of the Bolshevik system the incentives towards high intellectual effort have been considerably weakened, and this is bound to result in the progressive deterioration of intellectual capacity.
The second defect in this movement is that it seeks to promote itself by force and violence, rather than by persuasion. If the movement had sought to bring about an equitable distribution of wealth by means of persuasion and conviction, results might have been wholly beneficial. It seeks to achieve this end, however, by force at one fell swoop. The wealthy sections have been deprived of all wealth and property at one stroke and have been suddenly plunged into poverty and misery. This kind of violent revolution is bound to lead to disaster. A change to be beneficial should be ushered in after conditions, suitable for it, have been provided. When a good gardener decides that transplantation has become necessary he carries it out after careful preparation and under the most favourable conditions. If this is not done, the plant is bound to wither and die rather than bring forth fruit. Bolshevism has paid no heed to this principle. The result has been that the old aristocratic classes had to go into exile and all their influence has been cast on the anti-Bolshevik side. They continue to do propaganda against Bolshevism in the countries of their adoption and to incite the governments of those countries against Russia.
Thirdly, by opposing religion the Bolsheviks have set the religious part of the world up against them. Those who are truly attached to religion will never be able to lend support to Bolshevism.
Fourthly, Bolshevism has opened the door to dictatorship. It is true that these people profess to believe in mass rule, but they say that dictatorship is necessary in the initial stage. We are not told, however, when dictatorship will come to an end. Lenin was succeeded by Stalin, and Stalin may be succeeded by Molotov and so on. Thus in practice this movement has resulted in setting up a rigid dictatorship.
Fifthly, this movement creates barriers in the way of intellectual development. Apart from the fact to which I have already adverted — that if all intellectual effort whether great or small is to have the same reward, very few will be impelled to high intellectual effort — this movement in effect imposes drastic restrictions upon intercourse between peoples of different countries and thus shuts down one of the main sources of intellectual stimulation. Providence has endowed different nations with different intellectual qualities. The Chinese mind excels in one thing, the Japanese in another, the French in a third and so on. History shows that it is only by free and unrestricted intercourse between nations that intellectual progress can be maintained at a high level. If foreign travel is permitted only to a few or can be afforded only by a limited number out of a nation, that nation will not be able to derive much benefit from the intellectual attainments of other nations, and as a result very useful technical and scientific knowledge will be lost. For instance, at one time the weavers of Dacca produced very fine muslin. Europe has since developed highly technical textile machinery which is capable of manufacturing cloth and fabrics of varied qualities, but they are still no match to the Dacca muslin. Similarly, the Egyptians possessed the secret of embalming and preserving the bodies of their dead in the form of mummies. I have myself seen some of these mummies in Egypt, and they are in a wonderful state of preservation. They are thousands of years old, and yet by looking at them one imagines they are bodies of persons who may have died but a few moments before. Even the freshness of their complexion is preserved. The world has made great progress in science and technology since the days of the ancient Egyptians, but neither in Europe, nor in America, nor in any other part of the world has anybody succeeded in discovering the process which the Egyptians employed for preserving the bodies of their illustrious dead. Modern methods of embalming the dead are a poor substitute. Again, it is related that in the Mughal palaces in Delhi there was a marble bath which could be heated with the help of a single lamp. When the British took Possession of Delhi, they took the mechanism to pieces in order to discover the secret of the heating arrangement, but having taken it to pieces they were not able to restore it. Different minds have different bents, and the reaction of one mind upon another is one of the main sources of intellectual stimulation which leads to development and progress. If one is with a farmer even for a very short time, one gathers interesting information and acquires new knowledge about agriculture; or, again, if one associates with a carpenter, one gains fresh knowledge with regard to his craft. Such contacts are not only stimulating but refreshing for the mind. If a Punjabi travels into the UP or into Kashmir, he is bound to return to his own province with increased knowledge of many things. That is why in the Holy Quran, God exhorts the Muslims to travel in different lands so as to increase their knowledge and to develop their minds and intellects. If a Muslim from India were to travel to Arabia by way of Iran and Iraq, he would increase his knowledge in many directions and his mind would become broadened and more richly equipped. If, however, everybody is to be given only that which would meet his ordinary needs, foreign travel would become very restricted, and as a consequence this valuable source of intellectual progress would run dry. It is essential for the intellectual progress of a nation that a section of it should devote itself to the study of the intellectual activities of other nations by personal association and by the observation of those activities on the spot so as to enrich the store of knowledge of their own people.
It may be said that agents of the State can undertake such journeys. But if this is to be confined to diplomatic and consular agents the object would not be served, inasmuch as it does not follow that those, who are trained in diplomacy or in the technique of commercial intercourse between nations, should possess minds adapted to the acquisition of scientific, technical and artistic knowledge. Where free intercourse is permitted, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a painter, a sculptor, a poet or a religious leader, will gather information and knowledge suited to the pursuits and to the intellectual capacity of each, and the national intellect will be enriched proportionately in all these directions. If it is urged that the State could send abroad, at its own cost, representatives selected from various walks of life for this purpose, the answer would be that this would in itself result in setting up standards of discrimination and inequality which it is the declared object of the movement to abolish. It would merely prove that the doctrines of the movement were impracticable or inconsistent in at least this respect.
Sixthly, this movement promotes class struggle instead of putting an end to it, inasmuch as it involves the extermination of the rich and propertied classes.
Seventhly, when this movement begins to decline, its fall will be sudden and will lead to chaos. Other systems at least ensure a certain amount of continuity. Under a monarchical system one sovereign succeeds another. Under a system of parliamentary government there is a perpetual succession of parliaments. Bolshevism aims at securing a dead level in everything and does not encourage representative institutions. It also discounts purely speculative and intellectual activities. The result will be that when a decline sets in, the whole system will fall with a crash and will probably be replaced by absolutism as was the case with the French Revolution. It only produced an absolute Emperor like Napoleon and not a succession of great republican leaders.