Ultimately, mind is the only basic necessity. And it can never be fulfilled. The stomach can be fulfilled, naked bodies can be clothed and sheltered, and science has come to a point where socialism is not needed in order to provide these things They can be provided more easily without socialism. For example, Sweden has fulfilled the basic needs of its people better than Soviet Russia. These basic needs must be fulfilled but that doesn’t require socialism. Socialism has not fulfilled these needs, rather, it has equalized poverty.
A poor man can be at ease with his poverty if everyone else is also very poor. Socialism has only equalized poverty. Even today, Soviet Russia is not a wealthy land. The poor in America are better off than the more successful people in Soviet Russia. But the poor person in America is not at ease because the comparison is there: others are rich.
Sudras were never as unhappy as they are now because everyone else in their world, in their class, was equally as poor. The world was taken for granted as being the way it was. It looked like a natural phenomenon, nothing could be done about it; it was determined by birth. It was taken for granted that to be a sudra was one’s destiny. Competition was only possible between one sudra and another. But they were equally poor so they were at ease. The equal poverty was their consolation.
Now, when we have come to understand that a sudra is not born but made, the competition has moved from horizontal to vertical lines. The competition was very gentle between one sudra and another. Now the competition has become vertical. Everyone is competing with everyone else.
A capitalist society is a vertical society; a socialist society is a horizontal society. If you create a horizontal society, then the poverty will be evenly distributed. It is a consolation that everyone else is equally as poor, but the society will remain stagnant.
A socialist society is stagnant. That’s why in the last five or ten years Soviet Russia has been moving away from socialism. That has been the basic controversy between Mao and Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia seems to Mao to be turning capitalistic now. It is no fault of Russia; it is because of a basic error in socialism itself. If socialism is to remain, it must become stagnant. The very inequality of individuals creates a restlessness to develop, to grow, to transcend. If everyone is equally placed, the society becomes stagnant. Then there is no motivation, there is no stimulation to work, to grow, to transcend. The motivation comes through inequality.
By and by, Soviet Russia will become capitalistic. It will have to. Otherwise it will die from stagnation. To me, a capitalist society is a natural phenomenon. A socialist structure is not natural. It is something imposed, something conceived of through the mind. Capitalism developed by itself; socialism has to be brought about, it cannot come by itself.
Marx thought it would happen, but he was basically wrong. And he has been proved to be wrong. He thought that socialism would be a natural outgrowth of capitalism – the more capitalistic a country is, the more possibility there is of a socialist revolution – but it has not happened that way
What has happened has been quite the contrary.