Third principle of Economic Democracy

3) The third requirement for economic democracy is that all the resources in a socio-economic unit should be controlled by the local people. In particular, the resources which are required to produce the minimum requirements must be in local hands, and all the industries based on these resources will have to be controlled entirely by the local people. Local raw materials must be fully utilized to produce all kinds of commodities necessary for the economic development of a socio-economic unit.

Economic liberation is the birthright of every individual. To achieve it, economic power must be vested in the local people. In economic democracy the local people will have the power to make all economic decisions, to produce commodities on the basis of collective necessity, and to distribute all agricultural and industrial commodities.

Local people are those who have merged their individual socio-economic interests with the socio-economic interests of the socio-economic unit they live in. Clearly, this concept of local people has nothing to do with physical complexion, race, caste, creed, language or birth place. The fundamental issue is whether or not each person or family has identified their individual socio-economic interests with the collective interests of the concerned socio-economic unit. Those who have not done so should be branded as outsiders.

No outsider should be allowed to interfere in local economic affairs or in the system of production and distribution; otherwise a floating population will develop, causing the outflow of economic wealth from the local area. If this occurs the area will become vulnerable to outside economic exploitation and decentralized economy will be undermined.

The surplus wealth, after meeting the minimum requirements of the people in the local area, should be distributed among the meritorious people according to the degree of their merit. For example, doctors, engineers, scientists and other capable people engaged in various activities require extra amenities so that they can perform greater service to society. While a common person may require a bicycle, a doctor may require a car. But there must also be provision in the economy for reducing the gap between the minimum requirements of all and the amenities of meritorious people. To increase the standard of living of common people, they may be provided with scooters instead of bicycles. Although there is some difference between a scooter and a car, the gap that existed between a car and a bicycle has been partially reduced. The economic gap between common people and meritorious people should be reduced as much as possible and ceaseless efforts must be made in this regard, but this gap will never vanish altogether. If the gap increases, the common people will be deprived and exploitation will re-emerge in society in the guise of amenities. Decentralized economy leaves no such loophole because on the one hand the standard of the minimum requirements must be increased, and on the other hand the provision of amenities will be assessed from the viewpoint of the collective welfare.

 Commentary: We have seen that the minimum necessities of life must be given to the people and this requires a new vision of what an economy and what a society should be like. We have further seen that this should be done by increasing the purchasing power of the people through proper employment and that this necessitates the creation of a local economy based on the industrialization of local resources. This brings to the key issue that is explored in this principle and that is the control over the economy in any community must be in the hands of the local people alone.

Why is this so important? It is crucial because only then will the local resources be used for the consumption and development of the local area. And it is this alone that will bring economic liberty, equality and fraternity into people’s lives. The rich know the joy of economic freedom but their joy is poisoned because their freedom is based on the economic slavery of the fellow citizens of their community. When people do not have to worry about their basic needs and more importantly when they are not getting handouts but are involved and collectively in control over their own economy, then their lives have meaning and purpose beyond earning enough to survive or earning to pay for the schooling of the children and meet their needs after retirement. In the present Depression even those who are able to get jobs get such low paying jobs that they have to work two jobs. Begging all day long is the lot of those who cannot get employment. This is not natural. In the past people thought it was natural that they should be slaves and that dukes, knights and zamindars (feudal landlords) should control what they say and what they do. Now people realize that political slavery is unnatural. Through this Global Economic Depression the same realization is being forced upon countless people all over the world. But ending economic slavery is not the core issue. The core issue is svaraja or the dominion of the local people over their local economy. People must learn to fight for economic freedom just like they fought for the political freedom of their community. This is the second freedom struggle that will create a holistic democracy based on morality and Neohumanistic (socio-spiritual brotherly and sisterly) love.

And while we are talking about this kind of love, we must be clear that we are not supporting narrow xenophobia or hatred of outsiders. Those who have merged their lives in the local community are genuine local citizens. Someone may be born in a community but he may be spending his money outside the community. Hence he is involved in the debasement of the local economy and is an outsider or someone inimical to the local community. On the other hand an immigrant born elsewhere who has learned the local language and culture and added the noble aspects of his/her own culture (while preserving the birth language and culture in their family life) is to be considered as a local person if they invest all their money and labour in the local community. Someone who demonstrates love for the local region (by learning and developing the local culture and devoting one’s labour and wealth to the local economy) is the criteria of a local person.

In the area of trade, state (bioregional or samaja) governments must have the right to take action against those involved in black marketeering, speculation, adulteration, illegal misappropriation and the creation of artificial scarcity, but broad-based autonomous bodies (such as district boards or municipal corporations) should also have sufficient power to act. This is because if ordinary people want to take action against a local offender they may have to register their complaint with an individual police officer, then with the police station, then with the sub-divisional administration and finally with the district administration, the entire process taking about six or nine months, and when they reach the state capital, they learn that such matters come under the jurisdiction of the central government and not the state government. This type of situation is certainly not desirable. The state government must have the right to pass and enforce anti-corruption laws.

In the area of trade, state (bioregional or samaja) governments must have the right to take action against those involved in black marketeering, speculation, adulteration, illegal misappropriation and the creation of artificial scarcity, but broad-based autonomous bodies (such as district boards or municipal corporations) should also have sufficient power to act. This is because if ordinary people want to take action against a local offender they may have to register their complaint with an individual police officer, then with the police station, then with the sub-divisional administration and finally with the district administration, the entire process taking about six or nine months, and when they reach the state capital, they learn that such matters come under the jurisdiction of the central government and not the state government. This type of situation is certainly not desirable. The state government must have the right to pass and enforce anti-corruption laws.

Now we have to face the idea of the outsiders. One basic principle of political democracy is that foreign dukes, royalty, or other powerful people have no right to interfere in the politics one’s homeland. This is the foundation of political patriotism. Similarly the foundation of economic patriotism lies in the determination that no outsider capitalist, corporation or capitalist empire has the right to economically interfere, control and enslave the people and the communities of one’s homeland. Those who refuse to accept this principle are traitors, no matter how much they wrap themselves up in the flag. The real patriots are those who fight to protect the government and the economy of their homeland from outside control. And while we are talking about homeland we should make absolutely clear that the foremost loyalty lies at the local level. No district should exploit another district; neither should one block (sub-district) exploit another block. And at the bioregional level, that is called samaja in PROUT, there should be complete socio-economic, cultural and ecological independence and self-reliance. We also have to clearly state that even those who were born and live in a locality but who are hoarding property and wealth are in fact “outside exploiters”. This is because they are a threat to the economic freedom and prosperity of the local community. As per PROUT all property is the common inheritance of all people and no one has any right but to temporarily use their fair share of it. This is why an aphorism of PROUT clearly states,

“Samájádeshena viná dhanasaiṋcayah akartavyah.
[No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission or approval of the collective body.]
Purport: The universe is the collective property of all. All people have usufructuary rights but no one has the right to misuse this collective property. If a person acquires and accumulates excessive wealth, he or she directly curtails the happiness and convenience of others in society. Such behaviour is flagrantly antisocial. Therefore, no one should be allowed to accumulate wealth without the permission of society.”

And it will not be enough to simply enough to protect one’s homeland from external and internal exploiters, the very culture and sentiment underlying this type of exploitation must be fought. Of all the factors that cause this imbalance in the external world, the primary one is geo-sentiment, which concerns itself with the interests of one’s own locality at the expense of other localities. People will have to fight against geo-sentiment in their individual lives in order to direct their inner beings towards perfection, to develop their latent humanity along the proper channels, and to elevate the demi-humans, or half-humans, and the quarter-humans to the level of fully-developed human beings.

Other associated sentiments – geo-patriotism (fascism), geo-religion (dogmas based on holy lands for chosen people), geo-economics (nations crating mafias of empires) and many more – are based on this geo-sentiment; and in the future clever people may create still more sentiments based on it. All these sentiments certainly hinder the inner growth of human beings. So people must remain vigilant, lest this precious treasure, their inner asset, be destroyed. This sentiment for a particular land is the most baneful sentiment that poisons not just material life but especially spiritual life. Nationalism, provincialism based on the principle of selfish personal enjoyment is the greatest threat to morality and spirituality in any country. This sentiment must be fought first in one’s own homeland by extensive study. One has to study practically the history of exploitation and the different varieties of exploitation of different nations and provinces. This study has to become a collective mission in the society. This is how one has to awaken the conscience of one’s homeland. Once the collective conscience is awakened, the collective rationality and the pursuit of rational reflection must become part of social life. This is essential, not just to protect one’s homeland from the external exploiters but to protect one’s homeland (samaja) from the greatest enemy – the internal urge to exploit arising from narrow selfish emotions of a crude state of consciousness.

For it is not enough that the local people be given control over their own local economy. The people themselves must be liberated from all kinds of vices arising from selfishness. This requires a moral and spiritual renaissance in the society. Geo-religion (religious nationalism or provincialism) is the primary enemy of any bioregion or samaja. Although a few people thought to establish a strong and healthy society, they adopted argument and debate instead of deliberation and reason to convince the people of the need for such a society, and ultimately ended up projecting themselves instead of the ideology. Thus, the ideology became secondary and was ultimately swept away because people started worshipping them as Mahatmas, prophets and avatars. This was why, in the absence of an ideology, a strong society has not been established, and many defects have crept into individual and collective life.

In the present era one has to liberate the minds of one’s community because economic exploitation today has become more and more psychological in its quest for control over the mind of a community. Psycho-economic exploitation is the latest form of dangerous and all-devouring capitalist exploitation. It is a special type of exploitation which first weakens and paralyses people psychologically in various ways, and then exploits them economically. Some of the methods of psycho-economic exploitation include, first, the suppression of the indigenous language and culture of local people; secondly, the extensive propagation of pseudo-culture, exemplified by pornographic literature which debases people’s mind and particularly undermines the vitality of the youth; thirdly, the imposition of numerous restrictions on women, forcing them to be economically dependent on men; fourthly, an unpsychological education system with frequent political interference by vested interests (religious, racial, ethnic and corporate); fifthly, the negation of Dharma (sublime righteousness) in the name of secularism (materialism); sixthly, the balkanization of society into numerous castes and groups; seventhly, the damaging of society by the use of unnatural and harmful methods of birth control; and eighthly, placing the control of different mass media, such as newspapers, radio and television, in the hands of capitalists. Both intellectual exploitation and psycho-economic exploitation are great dangers to the human race today.

With this liberation of intellect it alone become possible to create economic democracy at the ground level because then people will no longer be shackled by their selfish sentiments and will have the urge to care for and serve the human, animals, plants, rivers and hills of their homeland. This brings us to the other basic fact that must be accepted. We have accepted that the minimum requirements have to be provided to everyone and we have accepted that everyone should have increasing purchasing power. However, it is also a fact that those who are talented and those who are hard-working must be rewarded. Left wingers want to neglect this fact and right wingers want to neglect their duty to provide the minimum requirements to life to every human being. In the Soviet Union talented people shirked work and stagnated because their talents were neither respected nor rewarded. Both right and left mentalities are expressions of a two dimensional consciousness. An economy is not just about ending people’s suffering. It is about the thriving of every single one of their dormant potentialities and talents. So the talents of people must be cherished by the society. So the second main mission of the local economy controlled by the local people is to nurture and blossom all the talent in the community.

This is achieved by providing greater and higher quality of material goods to reward the talented and the hard-working. So the PROUT economy is driven by 2 dynamic processes. First there is the endeavour to provide the minimum necessities to everyone and to increase their wealth by increasing their purchasing power. Second there is the endeavour to nurture the physical, psychic (cultural, intellectual, care-giving) and spiritual talents of the exceptional people in the society. After meeting the minimum requirements of all in any age, the surplus wealth will have to be distributed among meritorious people according to the degree of their merit. In an age when a bicycle is the minimum requirement for common people, a motor vehicle is necessary for a physician. In recognition of people’s merit, and to provide the meritorious with greater opportunities to serve the society, they have to be provided with motor vehicles.

This is not achieved at the expense of the common people such as found in aristocracies or meritocracies. Rather the primary demand of PROUT’s economic democracy is the imposition of a MAXIMUM WAGE or LUXURY LIMIT (Amiiri Rekha). Unless this is wholehearted accepted by the people of a community who have learned to control and sublimate their selfishness, an economic democracy is impossible in the real world.

There are some activists against the ecological destruction of capitalism who advocate going back to a subsistence economy and ending economic growth as much as possible. While the moral principle of taking the minimum of what needs to survive (aparigraha) is the foundation of PROUT. This cannot be enforced on people such as was attempted with disastrous consequences in communist societies. Repression of any desire leads to more perverse and violent expression of that desire. The solution in PROUT is to allow people to increase their material wealth while at the same time preventing exploitation and encouraging people towards more sublime values and states of Consciousness. This is why one of PROUT’s aphorisms (sutras) states,

Sarvanimnamánavardhanaḿ samájajiivalakśańam.

[Increasing the minimum standard of living of the people is the indication of the vitality of society.]

So, besides increasing the maximum amenities of meritorious people, we also have to increase the maximum amenities available to common people. Meritorious people will earn more than common people, and this earning will include their maximum amenities. But the common people should not be deprived of maximum amenities, so there should be efforts to give them as much of the maximum amenities as possible. There will still be a gap between the maximum amenities of the common people and the maximum amenities of the meritorious, but there should be constant efforts to reduce this gap. Thus, the common people should also receive more and more amenities. If maximum amenities are not provided to common people, no doubt there will be progress in society, but there will always remain the scope for imperfection in future. What constitutes both the minimum requirements and the maximum amenities should be ever increasing.

In the bonus system the calculation of the bonus will be on the basis of the time saved, and the money value of this calculation will be given to the worker. This will be the incentive in the bonus system.

In the piece-work system, the incentive is calculated in a different way. Suppose we are manufacturing machines. The labour, etc. involved in the cost of production is set, so the market price will be the cost of production plus a rational profit. P = C + Y. A rational profit is about 15%. This amount or part of it will be distributed amongst those who manufactured the machines. This will be their incentive. As they get more incentive, workers will try to manufacture more machines. This is not the case in state capitalism because workers get fixed incentives which become part of the salary. Incentives should encourage greater work and better quality work, so they should be directly linked to production. When this system is adopted the per capita income and the standard of living of the workers will automatically increase. This is how incentives should work in the piece work system.

One age will go and another will come, and human longings will also change. In one age a particular type of breakfast is accepted as the standard, and in the next age it will be considered substandard. Today people eat bread and butter, but according to the standard of the next age people may eat fried rice or sweet rice. Thus, the maximum amenities of life should be guaranteed to each and every individual, and their standard should be continuously elevated. Most importantly everyone in a community must fight to make sure that the gap between the minimum wage and the maximum wage does not increase causing inequality. Ideally the gap between the two should be 5% and not more than 10%. However the wage – be it maximum or minimum – must provide more and more capacity to purchase more and more goods

The jurisdiction of maximum amenities will go on expanding with the progress of human beings. Human beings are marching ahead, and their longing for different psycho-physical pabula is also increasing. The minimum requirements of the age must be guaranteed, and the maximum amenities must also be guaranteed. Maximum amenities must be provided in the existing environment.

Can human thirst be fully quenched? Can human hunger be fully satisfied? Why is it, that human thirst knows no limitations? From PROUT we are moving to psycho-philosophy or Neohumanism – the cult of love for all created beings as manifestations of Supreme Consciousness. Neohumanism will bring equality in the social sphere and remove all sorts of disparities; therefore human progress will be greatly accelerated. In the relative world human thirst cannot be satisfied. Human beings are the progeny of the Supreme Progenitor, therefore human thirst is unlimited. All the properties of the Supreme are ensconced in human existence, and not only in human existence, but in each and every entity of the expressed universe. Can physical thirst, psychic thirst and spiritual thirst be quenched? Only spiritual thirst can be quenched. Unification of the unit with the Cosmic can quench the spiritual thirst. And it is when this thirst becomes powerful in the collective mind, then will the people never tolerate any increase in inequality between the maximum and minimum wages, nor will they utilize their talents and wealth selfishly but will find their joys in giving and serving others.

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