Capitalism, PROUT and Deficiencies of Democracy – I

(This five part series comprises Chapter 8 of the author’s The Modernization of Islam and the Creation of a Multipolar World Order and its notes. References relate to the book.)

Dr. Susmit Kumar
Incompetent persons like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush win elections as president of the world’s superpower because of massive media propaganda using hundreds of millions of dollars donated by big corporations and the ultra-wealthy. Were these same people to try to get work as CEOs, however, they would fail, because corporations know their true worth and that they would be incapable of managing the duties this position requires. Big corporations and the ultra-wealthy, rather, hire puppets like Reagan and Bush, Jr., to do their dirty work.

Like communism, the present form of democracy, based on the universal adult franchise, is a recent phenomenon. Women lacked voting rights in most countries, including the U.S., until the early 1900s. Women’s suffrage was granted in France only after World War II. Until the 1800s, voting rights in many Western democracies were limited to only those men who paid a certain amount in taxes. It is true that out of all the “-cracies,” democracy is the best, but it has deficiencies.

Democracy in its present form is not truly successful anywhere, even in the U.S., the world’s richest nation, or in India, the world’s largest democracy. Almost 99 percent of Indian ministers, at both the state and central levels, would go to prison if corruption and other criminal charges were investigated impartially and vigorously in the same manner that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI investigate crimes and corruption charges against American politicians. Although generally American politicians avoid taking bribes for personal gain, they accept thousands of dollars in donations from big corporations and the ultra-wealthy for their election campaigns. In return, their benefactors receive millions, if not billions, of dollars in the form of budget outlays and other government provisions like tax breaks and no-bid contracts. The American political system has forced politicians to become corrupt in this way, which can better be described as systemic rather than the personal form it takes in some developing countries. Allegations of large-scale government corruption in advanced democracies like Italy and Japan have been responsible for the fall of governments as well. Because of corruption and the influence of the “money power,” democracy needs major reforms.

Two seemingly unrelated facts also suggest inherent deficiencies in capitalism. First, in the latest high school textbooks in Shanghai, China, Mao Zedong, the former communist dictator responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese, is mentioned only once—in a chapter on etiquette. The new standard world history text has eliminated wars, dynasties, and communist revolutions in favour of colourful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs, and globalization. J.P. Morgan, Bill Gates, the New York Stock Exchange, the space shuttle, and Japan’s bullet train are all highlighted. The book even includes a lesson on how neck ties became fashionable. The French and Bolshevik Revolutions, once seen as turning points in world history, now get far less attention. Mao, the Long March, the colonial oppression of China, and the Rape of Nanjing are taught only in a compressed history curriculum in junior high.1

Second, the percentage of workers in the American agricultural sector was reduced from 40 percent of the total workforce in 1900 to only three percent in 1999.2 The percentage of manufacturing workers was reduced from 35 percent of the workforce in 1953 to 14 percent in 1999.3 With automation and the increase in productivity that it brings, the number of workers required in the manufacturing sector as well as the service sector decreases.

The first fact tells us that China has accepted the death of communism and a future in capitalism. The second tells us that because over time a nation’s manufacturing sector requires fewer hands, capitalism will in the long run fail in China because of its large population. China has too many people to employ to be able to overcome the unemployment resulting from the capital-, as opposed to labour-, intensive techniques demanded by capitalism’s profit motive and ethic of competition.

In this article series we will first discuss some of the deficiencies of democracy and capitalism. We will then discuss Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar’s Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT). PROUT’s focus is on economic decentralization and on the optimum utilization of local resources to generate full employment for local people, something that can be achieved without investing a significant amount of money. It aims at increasing the individual’s purchasing power rather than increasing the gross national product (GNP).

Part 2: Deficiencies in Democracy

Copyright The author 2011

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