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I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been I = M - S Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what ...


Gandhiji said that the most important lesson of the Gita was to engage in work without any consideration whatever of the fruits of the work.

Do your work.

You have a right to your work. But you have no right to the fruits of your work. This is the central Gandhian economic organizing principle. Work without regard to its fruits.

Work without engaging ourselves with the fruits of the work disengages the means from the ends. It moves our focus from ends to the means. Our upbringing, our society teaches us to focus on our ends. What will you be when you grow up is a common question we were asked as children. But regardless of what you will or will not be, how are you going to conduct your self right now, today, is a not a question we were asked.

What are you going to do rather than where are you going. What are you doing rather than what are you doing this for? See the difference? If I am focused on where I am going, my destination, my end, then I am likely to adopt any means possible to get to that end.

By focusing only on the means, on what I do, with no regard to the ends whatsoever, I am in a position to examine my work simply in its own light, not as a duality. I am doing this because I want that. A duality such as this can easily disintegrate into I have to do this repellent thing, A, because then I will have this wonderful thing, B.

But surely you can see that A, what you do, is wrong, your conscience says.

Can't you see I am doing this awful, horrible, degrading thing, A, only so as to enable me to get to B, this sublime state I am looking forward to, you answer.

How do you feel about what you do? your work? probes your conscience.

Oh absolutely awful! And everyone else I know is engaged in work that they hate. But we do it because we have our sights on the end which is beautiful, you reply.

How can a series of awful nows in succession lead to a beautiful then? This is what your conscience would ask you if you would but listen to it. This is what Gandhiji asks when he challenges us to create a new economics. Gandhiji said that means and ends are convertible terms. Therein lies the vital clue to the development of a Gandhian economics.


Means and Ends are convertible terms -- Gandhiji

Ram, Allah, and God are convertible terms -- Gandhiji

I am interested in the means used by man in the making of the ends. I am interested in economics and religion. From the two statements made by Gandhiji I draw the implication

Religion and economics are convertible terms.

What does this new statement mean? What does it mean to say 'religion'? Is it not to say that there is history, a personal history that links us to the past through our parents and grand parents and community? That there is more to life and to that chain of lives than meets the eye? That the physical world, the world of commodities is necessarily simply a subset of a much larger scheme?

And then economics. What does that mean anymore? Is it that markets, the acts of buying and selling, are but a subset of the larger act of living? That an embedded economics requires that we relinquish the fiction that working life involves so-called factors of production churning out commodities?