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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 ...


Here is a basic framework for Gandhian economic analysis when it comes to policy. When we are considering a project with largely economic dimensions, we must examine the means independently from the ends.

We can never say, "Well the ends are so lofty so we may accept the means, whatever they may be." Instead we must ask ourselves, "Regardless of the ends what is the nature of the means? Are the means the right action?" If they are, they will be consistent with truth and nonviolence.

Next we must examine whether the proposed policy leads towards wholeness or towards splitting.

Modern economics, with its idea of raising standards of living leads directly to the splitting of the individual. Work is not meaningful, it is wrongly seen as a "means to an end" and separates the worker aspect of the person from all of his or her self--moral, religious, loving, social, creative, earth-intelligent.

We must only accept policies that move us towards wholeness. Work that uses all of a person's abilities, that enriches their moral and social consciousness would be accepted while work that is demeaning, soul-less and self-defeating such as that under modern economics must be rejected.

This is just a start. But I challenge us all to start implementing it, starting right now! Only then can we see change in our lifetime.


There is only one goal. That is to be whole again.

How human beings live and work determines whether they remain whole or are split.

Modern man is split. That is obvious to anyone who inquires into the human condition. In spite of tremendous increase in measured wealth, in the so-called standard of living, humans are more miserable than ever.

So the question emerges, why are humans split?

Human beings are split because of their economics. How they live and work is generally profoundly disconnected to the natural order of things. In place of harmony and balance, most people, especially in the West, but increasingly in the East as well, live lives of meaningless, disconnected work and neglected family and community lives. There can not be a rich web of interconnections when the core is rotten. And that rotten core is the system of modern economics.

In an act of absolute violence modern economics split the means from the ends. This way of looking at life involved using whatever means possible, guided only by self-interest, to maximize tradable output. Instead of seeing people as inherently good, as responsible caring members of families and societies, modern economics emphasized the individual, that too one that only seeks maximum satisfaction. This way of splitting means from ends led to the justification of the use of horrific methods never before used or even imagined by mankind. Nuclear power, dependence on fossil fuels, global and constant war are all considered to be appropriate means.

This has gone on for so long that the sickness of split humans has spread worldwide and violence and war, greed and exploitation have become the norm. In the name of peace we wage war, in the name of feeding people we poison the earth, in the name of the future we destroy the present. Everywhere we create a race of obedient workers working meaningless jobs, blindly following their politicians and leaders, ignoring their children, families and community in their restless (and pointless) attempts to get ahead.

Modern economics can be summarized in the following schematic:


Everywhere people are engaged in means that seek only to maximize production. Then there is an arbitrary and usually unjust distribution of that production. How else can we explain CEOs making billions while ordinary workers make less and less? The tax system is generally regressive in effect so that the poor are getting more and more destitute even as the rich get richer. Where I live the number of homeless people has easily multiplied by four times in the last few years while the simplest single-family house sells for well over a million dollars.

Consumption is the 'opiate of the masses.' By flooding the markets with cheap, shoddy goods and entertainment services, modern economics ensures that people stay too busy consuming to really question their lives.

This consumption is supposedly the ends of the whole corrupt, repressive, exploitative and splitting system of modern economics.

But there is an alternative--Gandhiji gave that to us a hundred years ago! Gandhiji said that means and ends are convertible terms, that there is no difference between means and ends. In other words

means = ends

and what follows from this equation is the total collapse of modern economics. For the system of


can only exist as long as means and ends are violently and forcibly separated.

Once we are enlightened with the deep understanding that means are the ends and ends the means, we will never again use violence (means) to achieve peace (ends), never again work meaningless jobs (means) to support our families (ends), never again follow individual self-interest or greed (means) to achieve a meaningful and happy life (ends).

Instead we will understand that only nonviolent means will lead to nonviolent ends, only meaningful work will create meaning in our lives, families and communities, only doing things for the good of all or One-interest rather than self-interest will lead to wholeness.

Friends, I am as scarred as you are by the violence of modern economics. I have been guilty of being seduced by modern economics for much of my life. I have paid the price for that with a broken family, lost friendships, and the malaise of meaninglessness. I have been there and continue to struggle with many of these issues each day. I am not a saint, just a very ordinary human being who lost his way in modern economics and was saved by Gandhiji.

Will you join me today in building a whole life for your self? Even if there are just two or four of us in the whole world we can make a difference. The point is to start, today.


Modern economics is built on the three-fold model of production-distribution-consumption. First a society, it is asserted, must decide what to produce using available but scarce means. Next that society must decide how to distribute the fruits of all the effort that was put to producing things in step 1. Lastly, the society must consume the fruits of work in accordance with how those fruits are distributed, this consumption being the ends of economics.

Gandhiji said simply that

means = ends

so the whole three-fold edifice of modern economics collapses when we approach economics from Gandhiji's perspective. 

Then there is no production-distribution-consumption but only right action. 

As the Bhagavad Gita tells us, our work is to commit to right action in all aspects of our life without any attachment to the fruits of that action. We create by connecting with family, with neighbors, thereby creating a society. A real society is one where people's wealth is in the rich interconnections that they have developed with others through right action. 

We don't commit to right action to create wellbeing in society:

right action = wellbeing

That would be separating means and ends. Instead we commit to right action simply because that is the right thing to do:

right action = right action

That is the essence of Gandhian economics.