Decentralized Economy 2

P.R. Sarkar
At the beginning of civilization, the desire to create arts and crafts arose in the human mind. At that time artisans used to work at home, and arts and crafts were produced in cottage industries. Men, women, boys and girls – all participated in the creation of arts and crafts. Later people realized that some arts and crafts could not be produced in every village, so certain artifacts were produced by a few combined villages. If artisans had not combined together, they would have suffered losses in the market place, and their numbers would have been significantly reduced. So gradually human beings started to go and work in places where production was done collectively, or the first factories. At that time the few industries that existed were decentralized.

In this connection one thing should be remembered – the more that arts and crafts are decentralized, the greater the benefits for human society. Decentralization does not diminish or dissipate economic potential. Rather, decentralization removes regional disparity because wealth is distributed almost equally everywhere. We do not find situations where people in some places cry out in agony due to scarcity and starvation, while people in other places become immoral due to excessive affluence and over abundance. In fact, industrial centralization is detrimental to a well-knit social order.

In a decentralized economy people do not have to leave their homes to work in an industry, and consequently they are saved from the expenditure of maintaining two establishments. Moreover, decentralization increases the possibility of saving labour, because people can earn their livelihood while simultaneously taking care of their household responsibilities.

This arrangement is not possible under capitalism. Capitalism will never support decentralization, because capitalist production exists to maximize profits. Centralization means industry for profit, while decentralization means industry for consumption. PROUT’s approach, which will be supported by all rational people, is production for consumption. PROUT’s maxim is, “Production for consumption, not production for profiteering.”

Capitalists want to produce commodities at the lowest costs and sell them at the highest prices. To produce commodities cheaply, there must be efficient transportation, cheap raw materials, cheap labour, cheap energy, adequate water supply, etc. No matter what form capitalism takes – individual capitalism, group capitalism or state capitalism – capitalists will always prefer centralized production. All these forms of capitalism are essentially the same.

Thousands of industries have mushroomed around Calcutta, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kanpur and Madras in India due to this capitalistic mentality. Remote places such as Khairasol in Birbhum district, Puncha in Purulia district, Goghat in Arambagh district and Nakashipara in Nadia district have been neglected. They have gone to sleep, crying in cimmerian darkness. Perhaps only a few people have even heard of these places. How could they? The people living there are extremely poor. They are incapable of purchasing a woollen wrapper for winter, what to speak of expensive woollen clothing.

In India regional disparity is increasing. Calcutta’s per capita income is twenty percent higher than the rest of Bengal, while the Punjab’s per capita income is higher than Haryana’s and Orissa’s. The people of Delhi enjoy much greater liberty and comfort than the villagers of Purulia district. Regional disparity is detrimental to the cause of a healthy social order. PROUT is the only panacea. There is no other solution.

Communism is state capitalism which is why it is not free from the defects of capitalism. State capitalists, like individual and group capitalists, control industries. State capitalism means state controlled industries. In other words, in state capitalism industries are centralized. Communist countries support state capitalism, which means centralized production. While communism appears to differ from capitalism on the question of popular liberation, capitalism and communism are the same internally. Fruits of the same variety may have different colour skins, but their seeds are the same. Capitalism and communism are fruits of the same variety.

To ensure the social and economic liberation of human beings, the maximum amount of socio-economic decentralization is essential. While it may be difficult to establish village-level economic infrastructure at present, there is no insurmountable obstacle preventing us from establishing block-level economic infrastructure. As far as possible, the establishment, operation and distribution of all industries should be done at block level. Only when this cannot be done should industries be organized at a higher level. Obviously, industries such as iron and steel factories cannot function in every village, block and district, so they should function in a larger area.

There are some special types of key industries which can conveniently function as either small-scale industries or medium-scale cooperative industries. If some key industries are structured in this way, they must be under state control. Care should be taken to ensure that they are properly organized and widespread. Such key industries should never be controlled by capitalists, otherwise the interests of the people will be partially if not fully ignored. Moreover, if they are left in the hands of capitalists, many different kinds of problems will arise. Normally only very large-scale key industries should be under state control, and these industries should be centralized instead of decentralized. But industries which cannot be readily decentralized today may be decentralized in the future due to changing circumstances. At that time the decentralization of key industries must be implemented.

There are also many other adverse effects of industrial centralization. For example, in large cities it is difficult for people to remain healthy because of the scarcity of fresh fruits, vegetables and milk. Immorality and corruption are rampant. Thieves, criminals, drug addicts, alcoholics and antisocial elements easily conceal themselves and prey on innocent people. Malnutrition, air pollution, water pollution as well as other problems also exist. All large industrial centres presently suffer from these defects.

In ancient times, people who travelled great distances to reach their place of work in order to earn their livelihood were called gandhahárin. Women and girls did not usually work outside the home. They normally stayed at home, took care of their household duties and worked as well. Highly skilled people do not often get proper recognition and adequate facilities if they live in remote areas. Rather, they usually have to travel long distances just to arrange their livelihood.

In medieval times skilled ivory artisans used to live in Burdwan district, but there was no market for ivory there. There was a large ivory market in Murshidabad, and smaller markets in Bankura, Vishnupur and Dhaka, consequently the skilled ivory artists of Burdwan were compelled to travel to those places.

Skilled artisans who are compelled to travel to another place for work are called gandhahárik or gandhaháriká in Sanskrit.

From: Prout in a Nutshell Volume 4 Part 16, and Proutist Economics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *