PROUT Research Institute, Venezuela
PROUT is the acronym for the Progressive Utilization Theory, a new socio-economic paradigm proposed by the late philosopher and spiritual master Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. It proposes the maximum utilization and rational distribution of all physical, psychic and spiritual resources, for the dynamic progress and equilibrium for all beings.
Political democracy requires a population that is well educated, with a high standard of morality and a keen socio-economic consciousness. Otherwise money can manipulate elections and corrupt politicians. Corruption and mismanagement in the past has resulted in a crushing external debt that reduces social services to pay exorbitant interest.
Economic democracy means regional, democratic control of resources, ceilings on the super accumulation of wealth, employee ownership and cooperative management of medium-scale economic enterprises, and guaranteed employment with sufficient wages for purchasing basic necessities–food, clothing, housing, education and health care. An ideal constitution should guarantee these rights and prevent financial exploitation.
Venezuela is today at a critical juncture: though wealthy in natural and mineral resources, millions of its people suffer in desperate poverty. Selfish greed has created a tremendous gap between the rich and the poor. Materialism is rapidly destroying our natural environment with no thought for the future. There is need for deep structural transformation. PROUT offers a new socio-economic paradigm that provides social justice for all based on human and spiritual values.
Below are some very brief points that we believe should be included in the new constitution:
- Every person is guaranteed the five minimum necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care.
- Every person has the right to a job with adequate purchasing power.
- Cultural expressions and indigenous languages must be protected.
- The country’s bio-diversity and endangered species must be protected, and pollution of the air, water and land is prohibited.
- Spiritual and religious practices for self-realization must be protected
- No expression of these rights can be allowed to violate cardinal human values
- Three socio-political principles must be guaranteed
a) people should not be allowed to lose their jobs until and unless alternative employment can be arranged for them
b) people should never be forced to convert from one religion to another
c) no one’s mother (native) tongue should be suppressed
- The penal code must be based on universally accepted cardinal human values such as the right to a decent life. Capital punishment is banned
- Quality education must be guaranteed for all and free of political interference. This includes objective knowledge, ethics, character building, creativity, spirit of cooperation and service, and self-knowledge.
- We are all members of one human family without divisions. No person can be discriminated against because of race, sex, color, language, beliefs, sexual orientation, origin, or health status.
Economic democracy is essential to eliminate poverty and continually elevate the standard of living of everyone. For this reason, the following policies should be implemented:
- Private enterprise will be permitted and encouraged for small scale businesses that produce non-essential items.
- Most enterprises will be run as cooperatives. Industrial and agricultural, producers and consumers coops will produce essential items.
- Key industries will be administered by the government.
- A ceiling on income and wealth will be established to prevent superaccumulation and economic exploitation.
- Raw materials should not be exported out of the country. Rather they should be processed or refined in the local region and then sold for local consumption. The excess can then be traded or sold abroadm
- The banking system should be run as cooperatives, while the Central Bank will be controlled by the government. Money should be based on proportional quantity of gold bullion.
- In addition to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the government, there should be the addition of an independent Financial department. This will monitor government spending and publicize the strengths and weaknesses of its programs. This department will keep the accounts of the other three branches and prevent corruption. All of these powers should function independently.
- The first priority of the government shall be to guarantee the production of the five minimum necessities to all people at accessible prices. Each region of the country must be made self-sufficient in these five necessities.
- Impoverished regions will be developed especially through the development of agricultural cooperatives, agro-industries and agrico-industries. This decentralization of the economy will create economic democracy, in which the local people will make all economic planning. Foreigners may not interfere in economic planning. Profits may not be exported out of the country, but rather should be re-invested for the development of the country.
- Income tax should be abolished, rather tax should be placed on the production of goods.
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, Proutist Economics: Discourses on Economic Liberation. Ananda Marga Publications, Calcutta, 1992.
Copyright PRIVEN 2011