In a letter written to Alasinga Perumal from Paris, dated 9 September 1895, Swami Vivekananda clearly told—[Source]
I will have nothing to do with cowards or political nonsense. I do not believe in any politics. God and truth are the only politics in the world, everything else is trash.
So in this post “Socialism” or “Communism” means the political and social ideology and the system and not any particular political party or organization.
Vivekananda made three predictions in his lifetime. His second prediction was on the Proletariat revolution of Russia. He felt, the first Proletariat revolution would take place in either Russia or China, which no one thought would or could happen. Karl Marx, the protagonist of the proletariat revolution told the revolution would happen where the trade union movement was very strong and he predicted it would happen in Britain. But the first Proletariat revolution occurred in Russia in 1917. Russia was an agriculturist country. they did not have any organized trade union or labour movement at that time. Yet, the first Proletariat revolution occurred in Russia. It is difficult to understand how Vivekananda concluded it, but here his prediction was correct.
Swami Vivekananda on socialism and communism
- A time will come when there will be the rising of the Shudra class, with their Shudra-hood; that is to say, not like that as at present when the Shudras are becoming great by acquiring the characteristic qualities of the Vaishya or the Kshatriya, but a time will come when the Shudras of every country, with their inborn Shudra nature and habits — not becoming in essence Vaishya or Kshatriya, but remaining as Shudras — will gain absolute supremacy in every society. The first glow of the dawn of this new power has already begun to break slowly upon the Western world, and the thoughtful are at their wits’ end to reflect upon the final issue of this fresh phenomenon. Socialism, Anarchism, Nihilism, and other like sects are the vanguard of the social revolution that is to follow. As the result of grinding pressure and tyranny, from time out of mind, the Shudras, as a rule, are either meanly senile, licking dog-like the feet of the higher class, or otherwise are as inhuman as brute beasts. Again, at all times their hopes and aspirations are baffled; hence a firmness of purpose and perseverance in action they have none.[Source]
- Here in India, it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India. I have been told a hundred times of the want of information there is among the masses of the Indian people; and that is true. Landing in Colombo I found not one of them had heard of the political upheavals going on in Europe — the changes, the downfall of ministries, and so forth. Not one of them had heard of what is meant by socialism, and anarchism, and of this and that change in the political atmosphere of Europe.[Source]
- I am a socialist not because I think it is a perfect system, but half a loaf is better than no bread.[Source]
- In India we have social communism, with the light of Advaita — that is, spiritual individualism — playing on and around it; in Europe you are socially individualists, but your thought is dualistic, which is spiritual communism. Thus the one consists of socialist institutions hedged in by individualist thought, while the other is made up of individualist institutions within the hedge of communistic thought.[Source]
- The doctrine which demands the sacrifice of individual freedom to social supremacy is called socialism, while that which advocates the cause of the individual is called individualism.[Source]
- Wwhat can we say of the system here in England? Everything goes to show that Socialism or some form of rule by the people, call it what you will, is coming on the boards. The people will certainly want the satisfaction of their material needs, less work, no oppression, no war, more food. What guarantee have we that this or any civilisation will last, unless it is based on religion, on the goodness of man? Depend on it, religion goes to the root of the matter. If it is right, all is right.[Source]
Let new India arise. . .
From Memoirs of Europe Travel, Complete Works Volume VII. Here Vivekananda did not directly mention the words “socialism” or “communism”, but scholars have found Vivekananda’s socialist spirit in it.[Source]
Let New India arise in your place. Let her arise — out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains. These common people have suffered oppression for thousands of years — suffered it without murmur, and as a result have got wonderful fortitude. They have suffered eternal misery, which has given them unflinching vitality. Living on a handful of grain, they can convulse the world; give them only half a piece of bread, and the whole world will not be big enough to contain their energy; they are endowed with the inexhaustible vitality of a Raktabija. (A demon, in the Durgâ-Saptashati, every drop of whose blood falling on the ground produced another demon like him.) And, besides, they have got the wonderful strength that comes of a pure and moral life, which is not to be found anywhere else in the world. Such peacefulness, such contentment, such love, such power of silent and incessant work, and such manifestation of lion’s strength in times of action — where else will you find these!
Lal Krishna Advani’s comment
Here we’ll quote a paragraph from Lal Krishna Advani’s autobiographical work My Country My Life—
“. . . we wanted to counter communists’ claim to be the sole champion of the poor. We wanted to demonstrated that the concept of ‘socialism’, like the concept of ‘secularism’, has Indian roots, and that only the Indian way of achieving economic and social justice would ultimately succeed. We wanted to reaffirm that all great thinkers and social reformers in the Hindu tradition, including Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi in the modern era, had been votaries of what can be termed as ‘spiritual socialism’. . .”