In his Speech at G.I.P. Railway Depressed Class Workmen’s Conference, Nashik Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar expressed his views on Brahmanism. You can read the whole speech from here.
There are in my view two enemies which the workers of this country have to deal with. The two enemies are Brahmanism and Capitalism.
The accusation of our critics arises partly because the critics fail to reckon Brahmanism as an enemy which the workers have to deal with.
I do not want to be misunderstood when I say that Brahmanism is an enemy which must be dealt with. By Brahmanism, I do not mean the power, privileges and interests of Brahmins as a community. That is not the sense in which I am using the word. By Brahmanism, I mean the negation of the spirit of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
In that sense, it is rampant in classes and is not confined to the Brahmins alone, though they have been the originators of it. This Brahmanism which pervades everywhere and which regulates the thought and deeds of all classes is an incontrovertible fact. It is also an incontrovertible fact that the Brahmanism gives certain classes a privileged position. It denies certain other classes even equality of opportunity.
The effect of Brahmanism is not confined to what are social rights such as inter-dining or inter-marriage. If that was so, one would not mind it. But it is not so. It extends to civic rights as distinguished from social rights. Use of public wells, of public conveyances, of public restaurants are matters of civic rights.
Everything which is intended for the public or maintained out of public fund must be open to every citizen. But there are millions to whom these civic rights are denied. Can anybody doubt this is the result of Brahmanism which has been let loose in this country for thousands of years and which is functioning even now as a live wire?
So omnipresent is Brahmanism that it even affects the field of economic opportunities. Take the Depressed Class worker and compare his opportunities with a worker who does not belong to the Depressed Classes. What opportunities of obtaining work has he? What are the prospects he has in the matter of security of service or advancement therein?
How are we to consolidate the ranks of labour? Not by allowing one section of workers to suppress another section of the workers. Not by preventing the oppressed section from agitating against the injustice that is being done to them. The real way to bring about unity is to remove the causes which make one worker the antagonist of another worker on the ground of race and religion. The real way to bring about unity is to tell the worker that he is wrong in claiming rights which he is not prepared to give to other workers.
The real way to bring about unity is to tell the worker who makes these social distinctions which result in unfair discrimination, are wrong in principle and injurious to the solidarity of workers. In other words, we must uproot Brahmanism, the spirit of inequality from among the workers if the ranks and labour are to be united. But where is the labour leader who has done this among workers?
I have heard labour leaders speaking vociferously against capitalism. But I have never heard any labour leader speaking against Brahmanism amongst workers. On the other hand, their silence on this point is quite suspicious.
Whether their silence is due to their belief that Brahmanism has nothing to do with the organisation and unity of workers, whether it is due to their non-appreciation of the fact that Brahmanism has great deal to do with the disorganisation of labour or whether it is due to sheer opportunism which believes in acquiring leadership of labour and not saying anything which would hurt the feelings of the workers. I do not stop to inquire.
But I must say that if Brahmanism is admitted to be the root cause of the disorganisation of labour, a serious effort must be made to remove it from the workers. The infection will not go away merely by ignoring it or by remaining silent about it. It must be pursued, dug out and notched. Then and then only will, the way for the unity of workers be made safe.
So long as Brahmanism remains a living force and so long as people continue to stick to it because it confers privileges upon one class and puts handicaps on others, I am afraid that till then there will be the necessity for those who suffer from these handicaps to organise themselves. And what harm is there if they do organise themselves?
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