The Socialist and Marxist Studies Series began on Thursday with professor Doug Allen speaking about Mahatma Gandhi and his socialist views.
Allen said Gandhi identified himself as both a socialist and communist, declaring that he felt like “a blend of the two.”
He explained some of the inconsistencies in Gandhi’s ideas. Allen said the non-violent leader had conflicting views on capitalism and capital, and he criticized Gandhi’s plan to make the wealthy adopt socialism.
Gandhi preached non-violence and wrote that the upper class would need to give up their money and adopt socialism on their own. Allen thought Ghandi was naive to think socialism could be accepted without force of any kind.
“Why should the wealthy make a permanent choice to go down a level?” Allen asked.
Joseph Nabozny, a student attending the lecture, thought Allen’s criticism on some of Gandhi’s views added an interesting factor to the lecture.
“I think Gandhi’s conflicting ideology, as portrayed by Allen’s lecture, really gave it that dynamic aspect I wasn’t expecting to hear,” Nabozny said.
Although Allen was critical at first, he later detailed Gandhi’s strengths on his view of communism.
Allen explained Gandhi’s ends-by-means theory, his emphasis on morality and his analysis of violence as points that should be viewed by contemporary socialists as a model for modern socialism.
Gandhi’s theory of non-violence was a huge platform in his socialistic view. Allen said that though Gandhi was influenced by the likes of modern socialists like Leo Tolstoy, he felt that they were too accepting of violence as the means to get the end result of socialism.
Gandhi believed if you had to use unsavory means to establish socialism, it was not worth the effort.
Allen read passages about Gandhi’s reverence to morality and truth. Though Gandhi spoke extensively about God, truth was the foundation of his socialism.
“God is truth. Atheists don’t believe in God, but they do believe in truth,” Allen quoted. He explained that Gandhi believed morality had to be the foundation of a socialistic state.
“The hope is that these programs will invite the public into a low-pressure and highly educational lecture,” former UMaine Peace Action Committee President Jeffrey Hake said.
The “Controversy Series” will continue on Sept. 18 in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union as professor Alex Grab will speak on going to war, with an emphasis on the Middle East.