Collective Psychology

Gary Coyle
Sarkar evolved his conception of class theory by analyzing human history and developing models of the different collective psychologies that have dominated society. He sees collective psychology rather than the interaction of material forces as the motivating force in human history. This is because human beings are essentially psychic beings with unlimited mental and spiritual potential, and society is the collective expression of human endeavour and interaction. In progressive socialism, class is synonymous with collective psychology and is a group of people having similar form of psychosocial expression. Collective psychology has been defined as “the average psychic momentum derived from the unit psychic momenta whose manifestations are the events on the pages of history.”* Human history is the history of collective psychology and the collective psychologies that dominate society in different historical epochs are the psychologies of different ruling classes.

Traditionally, class has been used in socialist theory as an economic term to define a particular group and their relationship with the dominant mode of production. In this context, the idea of class has involved a paradigm of materialistic values and analysis and implied a social structure constructed on a materialistic dialectic. PROUT only partially accepts this model of society because it contends that such an approach must be integrated with another and more significant level of analysis that explains the evolution of the collective mind.

In PROUT, four major collective psychologies are identified in developed societies – the working class, the martial class, intellectuals and capitalists – and each class is identified by its collective expression and utilization of power. Other sub-classes manifest in certain historical epochs as a result of particular social forces and may act as catalysts for social transformation. Analysing the collective psychic bearing of society is the means of determining which social class is dominant, how it exercises power and perpetuates its rule. A society where power is controlled through military might and the force of arms is indicative of the martial era, whereas intellectuals and capitalists rely mainly on controlling the intellectuo-religious and economic forces in society respectively to maintain social control. The institutions, value-system and social outlook fostered by each class is a direct function of its collective psychology. However, while each class has its own mechanism for dominating society, it also adopts the means of prior ruling classes. So in capitalist society, for example, the remnants of previous intellectual and military eras are still clearly evident.

Society has evolved through successive eras of class dominance. In primitive times when civilization was in its infancy all were hunters and gatherers. Powerful warriors and monarchs emerged and society evolved through periods of tribalism and feudalism. Some civilizations, like the Roman Empire, were highly disciplined military societies but proved incapable of making the transition from one era to the next, and were weakened and destroyed by internal conflict. After the martial era, ministers, priests and teachers emerged as society’s leaders and through the propagation of their dogmas and doctrines, forced society to pay homage to those with a little intellect and cunning. The rise of parliamentary democracy, for example, represented victory for liberal intellectual ascendancy over the monarchy. Finally, a class of merchants and capitalists by controlling the means of production determined the availability of commodities and subjugated other social classes by making them wage slaves. As a result of exploitation by the capitalist a revolutionary class of disgruntled workers emerge – poor and oppressed members of the martial and intellectual classes – and lead the other oppressed members of society to overthrow the capitalist class through proletariat revolution. The martial class then assumes leadership of society for the second time and the movement of society continues unabated, with one class succeeding the other – working class, martial class, intellectuals, capitalists, proletariat revolution, martial class, etc.

This model of social motivity on PROUT is termed the social cycle and is considered to be the pattern, the law, of human history. Periods of counterrevolution or counterrevolution sometimes check the natural flow of the social cycle but never for long. The cycle continues to progress through phases of natural movement, evolution or revolution, with the potential of achieving ever higher forms of civilization. As long as society exists no force can permanently check the rotation of the social cycle. When one class prolongs its power and domination over society it only results in exploitation, stagnation and death. The other classes inevitably rise up against this oppression to herald the next era in the cycle.

From Progressive Socialism, Proutist Universal Publications, Calcutta, 1985

* Ac. Raghunath, A New Interpretation of History, PFI Publications, New Delhi 1972, page 49.

Copyright Proutist Universal 2011

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