Dhammic Socialism

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The term “Dhammic Socialism” was coined by Ajahn Buddhadāsa in the late 1960s in response to the growing political polarization in Southeast Asia. Through the ’60s, Thailand had been pulled into the geo-political mess of which the Vietnam War was the major conflagration…

Buddhadasa’s understanding of “socialism” was not a Marxist understanding. The Thai translation literally means “in favor of society” or “to be on the side of society.” In this sense, socialism means taking the side of society and can be contrasted with individualism. While individual responsibility is important in Buddhist ethics, “the individual” cannot ultimately be found and Buddhism was never meant to be individualist, though it may often look that way in the modern era…

Ajahn Buddhadāsa critiqued communism and Marxism, with their terminology of class war, as primarily motivated by revenge. He contrasted “blood-thirsty capitalism” with “vengeful Marxism,” and endeavored to create an alternative, middle-way understanding. Thus, he described a socialism that is primarily a moral system based in spirituality.

– Selected commentary by Santikaro Upasaka