Rajaji: What is Right and what is Left?

This article was written by Rajaji and published in ‘Swarajya’ issue dated May 12, 1962. Every word of this article is as relevant today as it was when written. When this was written Nehru and Congressmen were using Socialism to maintain their hold over power. Today it is Rahul G who mouths the same words that his great grandfather used to fool the gullible. As Rajaji says in this article it is the duty of the Intelligent men to work continuously to educate the less educated, to see the game of those who use power already acquired, to perpetuate themselves in office.

Everybody wants more wealth to be produced. Everybody also desires that wealth should be distributed more evenly among the people of the land.

The production of wealth requires labour and talent and investment, and human nature lays down what is needed for these; good wages and incentive, besides experience.

Those who ignore all theses requirements and talk vehemently about even redistribution of wealth, go by the name of Leftist.

Those who recognise the need for production of greater wealth, for such a significant addition to present wealth as would make the more even distribution of it possible and worth while, and who place emphasis on attending to first things first in national policies are called Rightists.

The Rightists are not for the perpetuation of poverty. It is a cheap story sold to the gullible by the Leftists in power, whose purpose is to perpetuate their power – that the Rightists are against tithe uplift of the poor. No Rightists, and for that matter nobody in the modern world, is against the uplift of the poor in the material, cultural or spiritual plane. The Rightists believe in first things first and want that policies whose purpose is to secure the uplift of the poor should not ignore this rule.

(ii)

The word ‘Socialism’ is used loosely to denote the urge to improve the lot and condition of those who are poor in material possessions, but is also confounded with the specific plans of the Leftists for producing this universally accepted objective. Two people may both want to light a fire. They may differ as to the fuel to be used or the spot where the fire is to be lit. For that reason, one cannot call the other a fire-hater. He who is not in the Left – who does not believe that any good will come by extinguishing or reducing the incentives for investment and for giving the benefit of one’s talent and experience to produce more wealth, or to work hard with the available materials in the prevailing conditions – is alleged to be against ‘Socialism’ in the first sense, that is, that he is against the welfare and uplift of the poor. This is cheap calumny and any appeal to passion easily succeeds in deceiving people. The gullible are told that the so-called Rightist wants the rich to get richer and the poor to remain poor. The game is to get the votes of the innumerable poor by misleading them about those who oppose the perpetuation of the ruling clique in power.

(iii)

Nothing has been more clearly established in recent times than that the so called socialism of the Congress Party has resulted in making the rich richer and, in consequence, in impoverishing the middle classes as well as in making life harder for the poor. This is the natural result of the preferences and monopolies and taxes taht issue out of Statist policies and State-Management. The State is a mere conception, not a business corporation. State-Management must therefore be management by officials, or licencees or business bodies organised for the purpose, the direction and control being given to chosen favourites. Those who actually run business on behalf of the State either mismanage it by reason of inexperience and the fear of exposing their own ignorance, or they make profit out of the monopolistic advantages accruing to them through this scheme of management. The political bosses do not leave the officials alone. They consider it their privilege to intervene in the administration where the field ought to be left to impartial officials. The consumers have no bargaining power where consumption is cut out. Even where everything is done properly and in a businesslike way, which is rare, the scheme works to the advantage of the State Exchequer and to the disadvantage of the consumer. State-Management in such cases is just another form of taxation. Men have to buy goods and services at the prices fixed by the State.

It will thus be seen that State-Management does not lead either to significant increase in production of wealth or more equitable distribution of it. On the contrary, it makes the chosen rich richer, and as a result the poor poorer, while the consumer pays for the mismanagement.

(iv)

Intelligent men who have realized all this should shed their apathy and gather self-confidence and vote the Permit-Licence-Raj out of power. in the meanwhile, they should continually work to educate the less educated to see the game of those who continuously use economic and political power already acquired in order to perpetuate themselves in office.

Parties in opposition can only expose error and educate the public. They cannot give anything to the people, because they do not collect the taxes or frame budgets of expenditure and cannot distribute favours. It is only party in power that is in a position to make policies, rule or misrule. The party in power can bribe with money taken out of public revenues. A party in the opposition cannot do it, as it does not hold the keys to the treasury. The ruling clique can make the tax-payers believe that what is given back to them out of the public revenues are gifts which entitle that clique to be kept going in power. The truth is simple enough to be seen, but it requires to be clearly explained, because the electorate has, without break, been kept hero-worshiping; people confound the present Congress Party with the divenly led old Congress which liberated India form foreign rule.

(v)

The Swatantra Party is not ‘Rightist’ in the wrong sense of the term given to it by the Leftists. Parliamentary democracy calls for an Opposition that can expose the errors of those elected to power and prevent them from ruining the country. The Swatantra party is really a centrist party. The Congress was once a Centrist party but  it has gone Left, leaving a gap which must be filled, and this is what the Swatantra Party seeks to do. Otherwise, it is not the nation, but the licence holders and other monopolists who will thrive and socialism, in the sense of uplift of the poor and equitable distribution of wealth and welfare, will remain an illusion.

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