No accumulation without permission
No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission or approval by the collective body.
PROUT’s first fundamental principle of strives to seek:
- To protect all from artificial scarcity
- Solutions to the problems of both capitalist and collectivist economy
- Awareness of the State administration toward its benevolent and philanthropic mission.
This principle aims at checking the unhealthy tendency of accumulation. It evokes criticism from capitalists and collectivists alike. The advocates of capitalism vigorously contend that accumulation is an individual’s birth right. As it is highly improper to oppose this natural law everyone should be allowed to enjoy unlimited economic freedom. But PROUT on the other hand says, “No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth …” This may turn selfish capitalists antagonistic to PROUT. Similarly the so-called professors of socialism may put stress on the second portion of the first principle and point out that PROUT supports accumulation of wealth and this support, they may apprehend, revives capitalism. They would like to complete the sentence with “wealth”, clearly omitting the portion “… without clear permission or approval of the collective body.” In fact, if scrutinized properly, the arguments of both camps appear to be misleading. We should first know what does the term accumulation of wealth mean and why do people accumulate. Unless we get clear answers to these questions it would not be desirable to support or oppose accumulation of wealth.
What is accumulation?
The term accumulation denotes keeping in one’s possession any amount of wealth of this universe. Adding of one grain to another is also accumulation. Everybody in the world accumulates something for self-preservation. Reviewing the economic situation in post-revolution Russia one would get a clear idea of the horrid consequences of forcible curb on the accumulative tendency. The complete abolition of private ownership brought the Soviet economy in the throes of an unprecedented crisis and Lenin was compelled to introduce his remedial New Economic Policy (NEP) wherein individuals’ right to accumulation to a certain extent was acceded to. It proves beyond doubt the veracity of the fact that one’s existence cannot be maintained without saving for the future. Those who are totally against accumulation are going against the facts of life.
This, however, does not mean that the tendency of accumulation should be given unrestricted freedom. The human desires to accumulate are unlimited. Unlimited liberty in the physical realm will create artificial scarcity causing starvation and death to the majority of the people. In today’s capitalist system as a result of monopolistic hoarding by a handful of capitalists a large section of the population in most countries of the world is deprived of the basic necessities of life due to artificial scarcity. Innumerable human lives today are facing starvation and death due to man made scarcity, unemployment and famine. So it is as much irrational not to allow anybody to save for the future as it is dangerous to grant unlimited freedom of accumulation. That is why PROUT advocates controlled accumulation, meaning thereby that individuals will be allowed to accumulate but the quantum of accumulation would be fixed beforehand by the collective body. Now the question arises as to how will this tendency of accumulation be checked. In order to control the instinct of accumulation it is necessary to know through the study of human psychology the cause of human susceptibility to accumulation. Thus the psychological factors will also have to be reckoned with, otherwise out of fear of public criticism people may resort to subterranean and illegal hoarding and exploitative designs.
Generally people accumulate for the following reasons:
- Individual necessity
- Personal and collective responsibility
- Longing for infinite happiness
- Mental disease
Those who have to make their both ends meet with great hardship would naturally like to lay something aside for a rainy day. Hence they will feel relieved from having to save anything only when their bare necessities are provided to them. Again, those who save as part of their personal responsibility for the future of their children can give up that habit only when they will find a congenial social environment to help their children in distress. Today if someone leaves behind his or her dependents without having saved anything for them, in many cases the latter will be compelled to take to begging in some form. For these reasons it is but natural for every provider to save something for his or her family.
Those who want to posses wealth for getting infinite pleasure would not give up that tendency unless and until they are provided with the correct approach leading to that end. This tendency develops into a mental disease of those with whom it has become a wont. As such, it is not at all possible to remove the greed of accumulation from their minds unless their mental disease is cured. There are many states in the world who are keen to inflict severe penalty on those who accumulate, without tracing its causes and mercilessly annihilate accumulators.
There are others who prefer to solve the problem in a peaceful democratic way. They are in favor of changing human hearts by humanitarian appeals. They argue that while hearing these appeals repeatedly one day the exploiters will come to their good sense. Sarkar mentions in his Problems of the Day that, “This indeed very pleasant to hear and such attempt are quite appreciable too and not condemnable; but how long will it take for the good sense to prevail among the exploiters? We cannot wait indefinitely for this as the exploited masses by that time will have given up their ghost.”
There are still others who believe that the tendency to accumulate can be curbed through legislation. But in fact it is found that those who remain controlled for the time being for fear of legislation do take recourse to other cunning methods for gratifying their instincts. So this too will not prove effective.
We cannot support the attitude of those who bitterly criticize capitalism at every step, thereby causing more harm than good. Such criticism allows capitalists to become alert and get chances to find out more scientific and mischievous ways of exploiting others. People may use sweet words, threats or create pressures or any other means for the destruction of capitalism but unless they have any constructive ideal before them they certainly won’t succeed.
According to PROUT short-term as well as long-term measures should be adopted to control unhealthy accumulation. Through short-term measures a healthy climate is to be created wherein the minimum essentials and the social security for everyone would provided for. To bring about that situation the application of force is unavoidable. Those to whom the non-application of force is synonymous with non-violence are bound to meet with fiasco. Non-violence of this sort can never solve any problem of the world, Of course in order to create that situation certain rules and regulations will not be wholly unnecessary. The ceiling on bank balance, the valuation of moveable and immoveable properties, decentralization of economy through industrial and agricultural cooperatives, and external pressure of temporary nature can go a long way to curb the tendency of accumulation. But simultaneously the internal urge has got to be aroused. Otherwise, as in communist countries, the act of accumulation out of fear, will continue along secret channels. The case of Russia is a glaring example: “Often it is reported that collective farm workers miss no opportunity to extend their household plots at the expense of collective farm land. The authorities have often made checks and have returned any excess land to the collective farm., In 1939 more than 2 million hectares of such land were taken away from collective farm workers holding land in their individual capacity. The collective farm workers had made particularly wide use of the opportunities to expand their household plots provided by the second world war at the end of which 5,9 billion hectares of land were taken away from them and returned to collective farms (according to Indian economist B.C. Tandoon.1
Notwithstanding the long and continued anti-accumulation exhortation the Russians, who were made to parrot communist slogans, could not shake off their habits of accumulation. Along with the creation of a congenial environment PROUT will adopt the long-term course as well. Every action of human beings is directed toward the satisfaction of physical wants as well as his longing for the infinity. All mental propensities will have to be channelized toward the psychic and spiritual worlds which alone are limitless. This will make human beings realize that matter is not the summum bonum of human life. Human existence is an ideological flow. Unless and until one is convinced of it one is bound to cling to matter due to the impact of materialism. Sarkar has observed, “In fact, if the eternal hunger of the human soul does not find the real path leading to mental and spiritual wealth, it becomes engaged in depriving others of their rights by robbing them of their resources more than what is required in this material world.2
Hence mental and spiritual practices should go hand in hand with the economic program. The society of living beings is ready to wait indefinitely for the reformation of their nature by means of mental and spiritual remedies because by that time their fangs will be broken and their exploitative faculty gone due to the exertion of circumstantial pressure. Their exploitative nature has got to be gradually removed. A policy of destroying them cannot be supported by any means. PROUT is against exploitative capitalism but not for the annihilation of capitalists. The people afflicted by the tendency toward gross accumulation at the cost of the welfare of others will have to be cured of their disease either by responding positively to humanitarian appeals or by adjusting properly to circumstantial pressure. It will be a great crime even to think of their destruction.
Various forms of wealth
The wealth of the entire universe may be divided into three categories: physical, mental and spiritual. Of those the mental and spiritual wealth are unlimited whereas physical wealth is limited. Human beings however, due to their natural propensity, wants to acquire mental and spiritual wealth in the same manner they want to grab physical wealth. The negligence of the former causes imbalance and over-emphasis on the latter leads to catastrophe. Hence for promoting all-round welfare the right of accumulation should sometimes be regulated and at other times be unfettered.
As a matter of fact the right to accumulate the wealth that is limited in quantity should also be restricted. As such there should be ceiling on accumulation of physical wealth. But in case of mental and spiritual wealth more opportunities and encouragements, instead of restrictions or impositions, should be extended. That is why in the first principle of PROUT only physical wealth has been mentioned to the exclusion of intellectual and spiritual wealth.
The advocates of totalitarianism prescribe rule for the sake of rule and as such suppress all the thoughts and expressions of human beings ruthlessly. This is precisely what accounts for the total absence of intellectual freedom in communist countries. Neither can it be said with certitude that capitalist countries allow intellectual freedom. A noted principal of an American college once remarked, “Education is impossible in many parts of the United Stated today because free inquiry and discussions are impossible.”3 From 1945 to 1955 American students were not allowed to discuss the Chinese revolution in inter-college debate competitions. In the U.S. many public speakers are debarred from delivering lectures. In matters of religious freedom the totalitarian states have imposed iron restrictions. It seems that all dogmatic systems want to attune the human voice with their myopic conclusions on economics. Beyond that there is neither any liberty nor any philosophy. There is no other aspect of human life except the threats of human life except the threats of mighty autocrats, ruthless charge of bayonets, and dull and tedious ruminations of consumerism. But the human being striving for eternal freedom, though put in temporary confinement in the cage behind the iron curtain, will never remain in bondage for good. Of a caged bird refuses to be tamed, pecks the sticks time and again and gets out in boundless heavens, then how can men and women tolerate the tortures and torments of a tyrannical despot? Whenever human beings have been confined and their voiced gagged the spirit of revolt has unmistakably asserted itself then and there. The weapons of destruction are manufactured only to spell the extinction of the exploiters. In a desperate bid to bring about their own salvation human beings has discovered various ways of liberating themselves from the dreadful clutches of demons and tyrants.
People should be doubly assured of their enormous mental freedom in order to make them competent to defend themselves against the materialist onslaughts and tyranny. This freedom once granted will put an end to all sorts of chaos and confusion. This will facilitate people’s maturity of thinking, power of judgement and diverse experiences. On the other hand, the freedom totally denied will inevitably make people docile yes-men with slave mentality. It closely resembles the hopeless condition of a caged bird helplessly accepting the indignities of captivity.
The people of most countries today have become helpless victims of psychic inertia as they are given neither sufficient encouragement nor rights to think freely. Neither there is in them any dynamic urge for creation nor sharpness of intellect. Only in an atmosphere of complete psychic freedom is healthy criticism possible. The fear of such criticism will keep the government alert and guard against all probable mistakes. In absence of any opposition the government will most complacently do whatever it pleases according to its own whims and caprices, such as are happening in many countries today. But the impartial and truthful exposition of the critic would not allow it to go that way. So in order to camouflage their weaknesses despotic rulers spare no means to forcibly gag the voices of their opponents. Moreover, if one’s right to acquire mental and spiritual wealth is acceded to it will lead to one more good result, the solutions of some of the socioeconomic problems. At least the stringency of economic problems may be alleviated to some extent. Economic problems are caused chiefly by the scarcity of physical wealth, the reasons for this scarcity being the excessive attachment and lust for enjoyments. How can human beings destroy their propensity of accumulation until subtler things giving them more pleasure and satisfaction deflect their attention away from physicality? Therefore, a subtler ideology must be dished out for humanity. One’s love for ideology definitely indicates one’s mental development. So one’s attention should be directed toward the psychic world, from the external world toward the internal, from the domain of physicality to the unfathomable ocean of consciousness. The spiritual pursuits afford greater benefits. Constant spiritual ideation lessens the individuals’ hankering after physicality, arouses and develops the latent human virtues such as kindness, love, compassion, tenderness, etc. and elevates them to the glory of Godhood.
Only spiritual freedom, granted to mankind, can uplift human beings from abject materialism. Those who are reluctant to grant spiritual freedom to individuals only allow themselves to be tightened in the tentacles of religion. How can it be denied that a movement should be guided only by those who are spiritually conscious to a high degree? Though Marxism has refuted religion (but not spirituality for there is not the least proof to show that he had any deep knowledge of spirituality, not even a superficial idea of it) still he could not but create a passion for a new religion. Hallowell has rightly observed that “In theory Marxism rejects religion but in practice the passion which it forms is religious in character.” Rabindranath Tagore observed, “Those who refuse to believe in the authority of religious scriptures are the most dogmatic believers in economic doctrines.”
It is well nigh impossible to preclude spirituality altogether from human life. In communist countries religious practices continued and are continuing behind closed doors and windows of private houses. If spiritual practices are not allowed in broad daylight it is sure to find out its secret outlets for expression. We are ready to accept that religious dogmas are opium but the science of dynamic spirituality must be given due recognition. It is a fact that religious dogmas do more harm than good, make the individuals more materialistic but spirituality ensures one’s nobleness, keep one unattached to material objects and leads one from the finite to the infinite. PROUT will not only grant liberty to individuals for their psychic and spiritual pursuits but will extend more encouragement and facilities as well.
The Collective Body
If the right of individuals over physical wealth is regulated in the larger interest of society then naturally a poignant question arises: Who will regulate this right? The reply to this question is The collective body, mentioned in the last portion of the first fundamental principle of PROUT. This collective body should not be misunderstood to mean a large gathering of people built up on a democratic method. What it actually means is “the board of sadvipras”.4 These sadvipras, in fact, will be the controlling nucleus of society. They will always be far superior to the average people so far as virtues and capabilities are concerned, and will earn their position precisely because of their qualities of service-mindedness and spiritual orientation. Sadvipras can very well be compared to the head of a large family. Now, if the head of the family dictates something to the members the latter will have to carry it out for the common good of the entire family. Suppose some of the members tend to defy the orders of the head of the family and go against the interest of the entire family causing peace and tranquility of the family to be disturbed. If all the members pay special importance to the opinions and views of the enlightened head then naturally there will be a good result. The views of sadvipras have got to be accepted in the interest of humanity at large.
Here one thing has to be clearly borne in mind that the sadvipras are not owners of the wealth of this universe, neither is it a fact that humanity will have to live on their mercy. According to PROUT, none can claim ownership of physical or mental wealth in this relative world. The Supreme Operative Principle (the force of creation) has not executed any “will” exclusively for any individual. According to Sarkar, “This world is created in the imagination of the Great One. Only that Supreme Consciousness can be the real owner of Its imagination and not the created beings. All the properties of this Earth, moveable as well as immoveable do not belong to any particular individual. Everything is the patrimony of all of us and we have the Great One as our father.” It means that the world of the living beings is just like a big joint family. According to the Dayabhaga system enunciated by Jimut Bahn Battacharya, as long as the father is alive the sons cannot be the owners of the property but they can certainly utilize their rightful share, and enjoy peace and happiness thereby. In this system, even that One, who is the real owner, does not want to bring the entire wealth under his own control for his personal consumption. He prefers to distribute the wealth rationally among the members of the family. If he acts otherwise, then the family is bound to disintegrate, and it will be beyond him to keep the family under his control. Following the Dayabhaga system PROUT has accepted the concept of cosmic inheritance. The only difference between these two systems lies in the fact that the day the father of the family will be no more the offspring will establish their individual ownership after dividing the properties among themselves but with regard to cosmic inheritors it will never so happen as the cosmic father who is an eternal entity will never die.
Hence sadvipras will never enjoy the monopolistic rights of any property. Unlike communists, PROUT can never support centralization of economic powers. On the contrary it favors decentralization of economy so as to ensure good to one and all. Their main task will be not only to safeguard the ordinary or joint property in a befitting manner but also to see that everyone are guaranteed equal rights. They will start a system wherein all will live – each with sound body and sound mind. They are, as it were, the managers of the house. Now if the entire responsibility of management is left to a single sadvipra, it may involve grave risks and as such the responsibility is assigned to a group of sadvipras. That is why the term “collective body” has been used. This concept of sadvipras can no longer be described as utopian. In the words of Subash Chandra Bose, “Leaders do not drop from the sky, they are forged out in the process of work.”
Sadvipras will capture the hears of their fellow beings by their unique qualities of selfless service, sacrifice and bravery, and the latter, being pleased with their unique performances will most gladly hand over the charges of management and responsibilities of leadership to them. It is these sadvipras who will check the tendency of wealth accumulations.
The structure to be built up by these sadvipras will be dictatorial in terms of political philosophy. That will by no means be a copy of Hitler’s autocracy or Stalin’s dictatorship, which was nothing short of an instrument for promoting his self-aggrandizement and power-mongering. Rather it will be a benevolent dictatorship. In managing the affairs of the big joint family of a vast society, sadvipras cannot afford to act whimsically. They must pay due attention to the hopes and inspiration, pain and pleasure of the common masses. The rule in society will be reciprocal in nature, meaning thereby that the rulers will not only dictate from above, the ruled at the bottom will also have their voice in the administration. Hence the significant use of the two words “permission or approval”. By permission is meant that the sadvipras on the basis of facts and data gathered by them should assess the strength of the social and economic forces and decide thereupon as to how much of wealth the individuals may be allowed to accumulate, especially when world government has become a reality. Here of course does not lie the end. In this world of diversity the demands and needs vary from person to person. So it is but likely that the property permitted by the board of sadvipras may not be adequate enough to accommodate and feed the entire population inhabiting a particular country or it may also happen that on a particular day at the house of a particular person a special function may be held.
The quota of essential commodities fixed for that day may not be enough for the particular occasion. In that case that particular person will be required to place his requisition in an application before the board of sadvipras (sadvipra boards will function at all levels of administration from village to the global respectively). The board then will thoroughly scrutinize the requisition and, if it is found to be genuine, will approve it. Thus the government will be in close touch with needs and requirements of the people. The government cannot afford to remain too unapproachable to the masses nor can they put an iron curtain around themselves.
The use of the word “clear” is really significant. The permission to be given by the collective body must be a written one and this permission or approval must be unequivocal, free from any kind of ambiguity. Sometimes it so happens that the ignorant masses being fully satisfied with the permission or approval of the authorities approach the distributing office for getting their respective quotas but when the same approval letter is differently interpreted at that stage they cannot but be frustrated. According to the first fundamental principle of PROUT the language of permission or approval must be simple and easily intelligible.
Thus the speciality of the first principle is that it will operate in all countries and in all circumstances. It proclaims bold and unequivocal assurance of justice to the whole of humanity.
From the booklet PROUT, What It Stands For
1 In The Third Five Year Plan & India’s Economic Growth, B.C. Tandoon, Chaitanya Publication House, Allahabad, 1962.
2 Problems of the Day, P.R. Sarkar, Ananda Marga Publications, 1959.
3 Robert M. Hutchins, of the Ford Foundation, in “Are Our Teachers Afraid to Teach”, Look magazine, March 9, 1954, subsequently published in Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, 1954.
4 Sadvipra means “one whose mind is embedded in Supreme Truth”; from Sanskrit sat (truth) and vipra (intellect). They are morally and developed spiritually developed individuals who earn people’s respect by their practical devotion to their sublime core values.
Copyright Proutist Universal 2011