4) The fourth requirement for Economic Democracy is that production should be based on consumption, not profit. Most countries in the world have adopted economic systems which are profit oriented – that is, production is undertaken for profit. Producers give first preference to those items which bring maximum profit, so everywhere there is keen competition regarding the production of the most profitable goods. India is no exception. To increase the standard of living of the people, a new system of production will have to be introduced. Consumption, not profit, should be the underlying motive in the field of production.
In an economic democracy, the commodities produced by a socio-economic unit will be sold in the local market itself. As a result, there will be no uncertainty in the local economy or the economic life of the local population. In addition, money will be circulated within the local market so there will be no outflow of local capital. The possibility of an economic catastrophe in the local economy will be largely eliminated. In such a system, people’s income will have an upward trend and their purchasing capacity will continuously increase. No economic system in the world has been able to continuously increase the purchasing capacity of the people, because economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few.
For the success of economic democracy, PROUT must be implemented and the economic welfare of all people must be enhanced step by step. This in turn will lead to greater opportunities for the spiritual emancipation of human beings.
Commentary: This principle can seem confusing for those who only know the culture of consumerism (Homo Consumens) of capitalist society that leads narcissistic lifestyles of alienation, addiction and cultural destruction. Capitalist consumption is based on profit. Capitalists produce goods in order to extract the maximum amounts of profit. They will go anywhere and produce anything in order to make a profit. However, in order to make a profit they exploit both nations and communities to increase production. However, this leads to excess production which is also caused by the fact that the workers have less purchasing power or ability to buy products. Hence capitalists create a consumer society. Through the media they isolate people from their families, traditional culture and societies and then infuse them with various complexes and insecurities. They then induce them to believe that by consuming various products they can find meaning in their lives and attain greater social status (conspicuous consumption). Furthermore through planned obsolescence (products designed to only last for a short time) people are induced to endless keep buying and consuming more and more goods.
This way, through cultural and psychological imperialism people are rendered ripe for psycho-economic exploitation. All of this is done simply to maximize profits. When the capitalist era is ending, this consumption becomes out-rightly destructive in the form of destroying entire nations through bank fraud and encouraging via credit cards the creation of a debt-based society based on the ideology of endless consumption of goods. This extreme greed creates not just ecological disruption but ecological and planetary catastrophes. So this form of consumption can be called corporate consumption.
Then end result is that by controlling people to make them debt-ridden consumers, capitalists end up making them into raw materials of their profit production. This debasement of the human spirit results in a profound spiritual emptiness which causes them to develop addictions of different types from gambling, shopping, drugs, alcoholism, rape, violence and so many other forms of excessive, suicidal consumption. So, all of these forms of corporate consumption arise from artificial desires fostered through manipulating people’s minds. And this massive manipulation of countless people is all done to increase profits.
So, in capitalist economies, production is for the profit of the capitalist and the profit goes to individuals, groups and the state exchequer. In socialist economies or so-called communism, the profit goes to the state exchequer and a microscopic fraction of the profit goes to the actual producers. In both cases capitalism exists, and whenever fresh financial investment is required, inflation takes place. In neither of these cases is there any commitment to provide for the basic survival and increasing prosperity of every single member of society. This is why these are fundamentally inhuman or forms of economic tyranny. Such societies cannot be considered genuine societies as we have seen.
Providing food, clothing, housing, education and medical treatment is most important for social security. These five minimum requirements are indispensable to raise the living standard of the people. To guarantee these, the principle of production based on consumption has to be adopted. Special emphasis should be placed on agricultural production because the provision of food is of vital importance, and for this the cooperative system should be rapidly expanded. Unless the produce of the local region is kept in the local market, the local people cannot achieve control over their economy. Hence people must be empowered to control the local produce of their area. This is economic democracy at the practical level.
When the produce is kept in the local market, then the money made from it will go to the local people and not to outside capitalists or to the government. Hence the people will not be held hostage to corporations threatening to leave town if the town does not enslave itself to them. Nor will people suffer because of the whims of corporate executives who loot the company and then when crisis hits the company sells off or close down their factories.
Therefore, to the extent to which a country or a region is dependent on other countries/regions for its exports or imports, to that extent will be affected by a Global Economic Depression. For example, India also has immense loans, and these loans will put a strain on the Indian economy during the Depression. If the financial or monetary trade – or say the trade that affects bullion – is lessened, and barter trade is increased, then the effect of a depression on India will not be much. Therefore, India should try to increase its range of barter trade. Bangladesh exports manufactured goods, raw jute and hide, and imports foodstuffs and almost all other articles. If Bangladesh wants to avoid a depression, it will have no alternative but to increase its barter trade.
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.”
Now PROUT is an entirely different type of economy. As we have seen the foundation of the PROUT lies in its commitment firstly to guarantee the minimum necessities of life to every member of society and secondly later to guarantee each person the ability to consume as many amenities or goods as is possible for the local economy. So the planning for production is not based on the idea of making a profit but on providing for the basic needs of every person in the community. As we have seen, this is what is called People’s Economic Planning. It is a service-centred economy as the goal is to serve the people. Furthermore it is an empowering economy because it is the local people who will be serving their fellow citizens
So, in a Proutistic economy, production will be solely for consumption. As there will not be any profit motive, there cannot be any fresh inflation, and the existing inflation will gradually die out. In Proutistic production or consumption, in the first phase the money value remains constant and full-fledged purchasing capacity will be guaranteed to the people. In the second phase, when production increases in the revised economic order, money will get back its natural market value. Finally, after consumption, money will get back its actual value. Inflation will be checked and purchasing capacity and the minimum requirements of life will be guaranteed to the people.
First, there should be a free trade system so that overproduction can be consumed by other countries or other economic units. In India, excepting the Punjab and Haryana, there is underproduction of milk. In other states, common people cannot get a sufficient amount of milk. But there are many countries, such as certain European countries, where there is overproduction of milk. In England, Germany and Sweden the authorities even give orders or encourage the public to kill cows. If in these circumstances free trade is allowed among different countries, the countries having overproduction or underproduction can make respective adjustments among themselves so that the overproduction of commodities may be consumed by under-producing countries. In that case the concerned countries will be benefited.
Here free trade means that there should not be any imposition of export or import duties, and thus the prices of these commodities will benefit the consumers when they reach the market for actual consumption. Neither the capitalist countries nor the communist countries like the free trade system because it is detrimental to their respective self-interests. But there are some free trade zones in the world which are very bright examples of the success of this sort of system. Singapore is one such example. There was a good proposal to declare Calcutta a free trade zone, but it was not implemented for many reasons, including the failure of the concerned leaders. Bengal could have been greatly benefited by such a system. In a revised economic structure – that is, PROUT – there must not be any import or export duties on consumable commodities (e.g. food items). If this is done, then this earth will be converted into a golden earth.
Barter trade is suitable for a developing country, but not where the number of surplus goods – say raw materials – is limited or few in numbers. Bangladesh has a surplus in jute and hide. For that country, barter trade is suitable. Where the number of surplus goods is not much, barter trade is not required. Say there is surplus food or hide or leather or jute in one country; and there is another country which is willing to enter into barter trade with that country in order to meet its shortages – won’t the problem be solved? Burma has a shortage of leather and hide, and Bangladesh has a surplus of leather and hide, but a shortage of rice; there can be barter trade between them.
Secondly, there should be proper arrangement everywhere for the preservation of products which are in excess production. In Malda in Bengal there may be overproduction of mangoes which are perishable commodities. As there is no system of preservation, the ordinary mango growers will have to sell their mangoes at throw away prices. But if they could sell the same products four months later they would get remunerative prices. Moreover, if processing factories are established, they can then produce dried mango, mango candy, mango juice, sauce, jam, etc., which can be preserved for a longer time. There are many countries in Europe or other parts of the world where there is no mango production. If a system of preservation were available, then mangoes could easily be sold in those European countries, and the mango growers could earn a good amount of money.
Thirdly, new diversified styles of consumption should be invented. That is, consumption should be of a progressive nature and the style of consumption should be diversified. For example, there is only limited utilization of linseed at the moment in India. If the oil extracted from the linseed is deodorized, then it can be widely used as edible oil. Also linen thread can be manufactured from linseed plants, which generally go to waste. Okra is abundantly produced in India, but it is only used as a vegetable. Oil can be extracted from okra seeds, and this can be processed and marketed as edible oil. Also, fine thread can be manufactured from the okra plant, and good quality clothes can be prepared from that thread.
In case there is overproduction of non-perishable goods or raw materials, these raw materials must not be allowed to be exported to other countries. Instead, raw materials must be immediately converted into manufactured goods at the place where they are available. For example, Orissa, the western portion of Ráŕh (western Bengal and eastern Jharkhand), certain portions of Madhya Pradesh, and certain portions of southern Bihar and Telangana are rich in different kinds of raw materials. These economically undeveloped places can easily be converted into advanced areas like the Rhine region of Germany. Poverty stricken people will live an affluent life if factories in these areas convert raw materials into manufactured goods.
We can understand to some extent how implementing PROUT will lead to economic democracy. However, to understand why implementing PROUT will lead to spiritual liberation we have to a very brief look at the basic philosophical and spiritual foundations of PROUT and its form of consumption. We should note that the Latin prefix “com” means “together” and the Latin word “sumere” means “to use up or waste.” The word “consumption” used to be used as a synonym for tuberculosis and indeed consumption in a capitalist society is a kind of moral and spiritual tuberculosis where one consumes for the sake of consuming and not for the benefit of one’s society, body, mind and Consciousness. Hence the original meaning of consumer was someone who squanders and wastes.
Even prehistoric tribes used to drive a herd of buffalo off a cliff and eat only a few of them and leave the rest to die needlessly. However in traditional consumption, this human greed was limited due to lack of technology, inability to cope with the extreme weather conditions and so forth. Thus human consumption was in accordance with the seasons and rhythms of the local environment. This balanced consumption gave scope for inner moral and spiritual reflection and enlightenment. However technology’s intensification and diversity of pleasures as well as the ability to easily acquire them destroyed this balance. Capitalist materialism uses products to develop people’s baser desires so that people will not develop critical intellect, subtle intuition and mystical love which would enable them to free themselves. Religions try to manipulate people’s desires for material consumption by promising them semi-material pleasures in heaven in order to convince them to submit their minds to dogmatic indoctrination and submit their wealth to priests and to submit themselves to the rule of those politicians who pay the priests.
To explore this further let us look at the Sanskrit word for profit or lábha. It means “gain, profit, political or military advantage and bribe.” From this we see that by nature, this is something for an individual or elite and by nature is a form of corruption or violence and if fundamentally anti-social. However, PROUT does not ban profit but rather allows it in such a way that the entire cooperative and society profits and not just one elite at the expense of the suffering of millions.
The Sanskrit word for consumption is upabhoga. Bhoga means “to enjoy or experience or to eat”. Upa is a prefix meaning “near to, proximate”. So consumption is an approach to or pursuit of material happiness. The driving force behind this is the mind’s desire to enjoy different objects. This creates a triad of a web of relations between the consumer (upabhokta), the objects consumed (upabhogya) and the act of consumption (upabhoga). Enjoyment or happiness always has physical limitations such as the fact that our stomach becomes too full or our sensory organs become defective. It also has psychological and intellectual limitations due to the weaknesses of our minds. So the path of materialism is to overcome these limitations by technology and get as much pleasure as possible and is ultimately bound to end in disappointment.
However, the approach of PROUT is radically different. The thirst and pursuit of infinite happiness or enjoyment leads to the realization that infinite happiness or bliss (Ananda) lies in not transcending material limitations by technology but in transcending material consciousness by meditation that purifies and sublimates the mind and merges it in limitless, pure Consciousness. What this gradual process does is to develop the inner conscience to take responsibility that one’s consumption does not harm other human beings as well as plants, animals and the Earth. This process gives one the ability to consume the cruder, selfish and harmful flows of one’s mind with benevolent flows arising from mystical love. In that phase the mind no longer takes the identity of either being a victim of someone’s consumption or in being a consumer. Rather the mind withdraws from narrow propensities and sentiments and merges in the limitless love of Supreme Consciousness deep within itself. To consume or utilize objects in this state of mind is mystical consumption. Then alone will human civilization and culture guide the development of technology rather than vice versa as it is today.
So the purpose of consumption in PROUT’s economic democracy lies in the intellectual, aesthetic, cultural, sentimental, intuitional and yogic development of every member of society. The past has seen societies where ordinary citizens were encouraged to read classic literature and to know as much as possible. This culturally wealthy society requires also spiritual treasures of self-realization and mystical love in order so that the cultural wealth does not lead to selfish decadence. This is what Shrii Sarkar has called the secondary branch of Psycho-economics.
This has two parts which are described in two PROUT aphorisms
- Vyaśt́isamaśt́isháriiramánasádhyátmikasambhávanáyáḿ caramo’payogashca.
[There should be maximum utilization of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual potentialities of unit and collective bodies of human society.]
- Sthúlasúkśmakárańeśu caramopayogah prakartavyah vicárasamarthitaḿ vańt́anaiṋca.
[There should be maximum utilization and rational distribution of all mundane, supramundane and spiritual potentialities of the universe.]
The key point is that the spiritual potentialities of every individual, society and in fact the entire universe have to be developed. This in itself requires a spiritual revolution. PROUT’s economic democracy not only provides people purchasing capacity for the necessities of life and material goods, it also provides people increasing consumption of subtler psychic and spiritual goods and services and encourages them to the path of spiritual enlightenment in order to attain ultimate enjoyment of bliss. Thus PROUT’s consumption results in the consummation of the innate sublimity of every individual. Hence it can be described as a mystical consumption. In the French language, this kind of consumption that leads to the perfection or consummation of oneself is called consommé. This consommé also brings about the welfare of the entity being consumed. This is because the enjoyer (subject), the enjoyed (object) and the enjoyment all merge into one in the state of bliss (Ananda). The process of spiritual ideation or awareness of every entity as merged in one’s innermost Consciousness is a kind of waking meditation and is found in nearly all spiritual cultures. In the Upanishads, this is called madhuvidya or honey knowledge that melts the mind into the sweetness of limitless love.
The mystical realisation of Ananda was first stated by the radical Maharśi Bhrgu in the Four Blissful Truths of the Taitiriya Upanishad,
- Ánandaḿ brahmeti vyajanát,
[Verily, realize that Bliss (Ananda) is none other than the Absolute or Consciousness.]
- Ánandadhyeva khalvimáni bhútáni jayánte,
[Verily from Bliss all beings are created and take birth]
- Ánandena játáni jiivanti.
[Verily having been born, in Bliss and by Bliss they are living.]
- Ánandaḿ prayantyabhisaḿvishanti iti te.
[Verily at the time of their final demise and dissolution, into Bliss they will merge.]
From the realization of these Blissful Truths, comes the ideal of Ananda Parivara or the Cosmic Family of Bliss. Due to crude levels of Consciousness, people are oblivious to these truths and hence do not protect or commit themselves to carrying for the members of their Blissful Universal Family. Furthermore due to even cruder states of Consciousness they rob, exploit and kill their brothers and sisters of all species. This is why Shrii Sarkar bluntly states that the hoarding of wealth is not just an economic but a spiritual crime,
“The One who is the origin of all beings is the Supreme Entity. The Supreme Entity belongs to all, equally. To get protection and to enjoy the manifested universe of the Supreme Entity is the birthright of each and every being. Nobody has any right to accumulate excessive wealth. To accumulate and desire more mundane property is a crime against society and a sin against God. It is a highly immoral and antisocial action. To fight such vested interests and to wage a war against such antisocial activities is upright and sacramental.” (Human Progress)
This principle is known as the Principle of Cosmic Inheritance of PROUT. It is this founding principle of PROUT which commits all Proutists to the destruction of the capitalist system. This is explained by Shrii Sarkar as follows,
“How was capitalism created? Capital is consumable commodities in their potentiality. Intelligent people collect more capital than others in the form of consumable goods, but since this capital cannot be stored for a long time, they began to keep it in the form of money. Such people are called capitalists. These capitalists are the unworthy sons and daughters of the Cosmic Father because they go against the principle of cosmic inheritance. They should be cured of their ailments. To fight capitalism is therefore within your goal. The seed of infinite expression lies within Dharma, but you must nourish it. Capitalists create hindrances on the path of human beings to prevent them from becoming one with the cosmos – to prevent them from becoming great. So capitalism is anti-Dharma and the actions of capitalists are also anti-Dharma.” (Talks on PROUT)
This brings us to the reason why PROUT alone brings economic democracy. Other theories are either exploitative or based on materialist utopianism. Materialists believe that if one removes exploitation as much as possible and give people wealth people will become good and their consciousness will evolve. However the word “wealth” popularly is derived from “weal” and “ilth”. “Weal” means “welfare or happiness” and “ilth” means “strong sickness.” The reality is that wealth leads to many psychological problems in materialistic societies. Furthermore increasing the wealth and removing major exploitation do not lead to the development of a humane and benevolent society. Hence, both on the individual and collective level, the propensity to exploit and harm others still remains present. Hence only PROUT, which is committed to the development of the subtle intellectual, intuitional and spiritual treasures in every mind can bring about a transformation of Consciousness that can create not just economic democracy but for the first time a genuinely humane society on this planet. And this spiritual transformation comes forth from the revolutionary yoga of Tantra which is a vast topic. As Shrii Sarkar succinctly explains,
“The significance of the term Tantra is “liberation from bondage [the bondage of dullness, or staticity]”… so the spiritual practice which liberates the aspirant from the dullness or animality of the static force and expands the aspirant’s [spiritual] self is Tantra sádhaná. So there cannot be any spiritual practice without Tantra. Tantra is sádhaná.
Spiritual practice means practice for expansion, and this expansion is nothing but liberation from the bondage of all sorts of dullness [or staticity]. A person who, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, aspires for spiritual expansion or does something concrete, is a Tantric. Tantra in itself is neither a religion nor an “ism”. Tantra is a fundamental spiritual science. So wherever there is any spiritual practice it should be taken for granted that it stands on the Tantric cult. Where there is no spiritual practice, where people pray to God for the fulfillment of narrow worldly desires, where people’s only slogan is “Give us this and give us that” – only there do we find that Tantra is discouraged. So only those who do not understand Tantra, or even after understanding Tantra do not want to do any spiritual practice, oppose the cult of Tantra…
Now, this expansion, this expansion of mind, expansion of ideas, expansion of human spirit, is the only sádhaná. And when a sádhaka, a spiritual aspirant, tries to enlarge his mind, naturally debasing forces become very active. The depraving forces, debasing forces, become very active, and the sádhaka is to enlarge his mind and spirit by fighting at each and every step, each and every stage of life. In his mind there will be those two belligerent forces; that is, the spiritual force and the debasing material force will start fighting amongst each other in the mind. In family life also, in social life, in national life, in each and every stratum of life, there will be fight. That is, those two fundamental belligerent forces will become active. One force will try to exalt you towards the Supreme Self, another force will want to degrade you, goad you towards crude materialism.
Now, a Tantric is called, a sádhaka is called, a soldier. [Sádhanásamara] [“the battle of sádhaná”]. Samara means “war”, “battle”, and “fight”. The sádhaka is engaged in fight. It is for the brave, it is for courageous people…And this cult is the cult of Tantra. He or she who wants to keep himself away from fight is unknowingly committing suicide, mental and spiritual suicide. Each and every man and woman should be ready for fight – fight in the mental stratum, fight in the family stratum, and fight in each and every stratum of life. This is Tantra.”
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great article, nicely explained