Category Archives: OpEds

Why the EU matters

Is there life for capitalists after the present, ill-fated EU? Of course there is, if they choose to abide by harmonious humanity and not rampant individualism. PROUT points to a true European and global socio-economic renaissance of welfare and progress for all.

​Photo: From an anti-EU rally in Athens, Greece.

By Trond Øverland

The European Union (EU) matters because Europe is where democracy took root. Europe is also the place where a great deal of modern political thought emerged. It is the continent of the Enlightenment, industrial revolution, and the economic system of capitalism.

Consequently, to most people today the EU is a powerful politico-economic structure stemming from the cream of the time-honoured European political think-tank hailing back to ancient Greece. Certainly the EU has great symbolic value to the entire world. Should its structure break down, its collapse will echo everywhere.

Normally, people of a society feel strongly for their community, as it provides them with a sense of unity, common momentum, mutual support and agreement, cooperation, combined reserves against uncertainty, etc. This is also true for a system that is about to break. There, two belligerent sentiments emerge in conflict – one group holds on to status quo while another embraces a fresh vision of community based on values different from those of the current establishment.

Deep down the EU is based on crucial factors of capitalist industrialism. The four pillars on which the mighty EU structure rests are free flow of: capital, work force, goods, and services. This capitalist fundament has given both European and global capitalists a free hand in Europe and has turned the EU into a perfect vehicle for capitalism in politically sensitive Europe.

Here an important question arises: What sort of community does capitalism generate?

Essentially, capitalism is not about society, it is about individuals. Capitalism allows one individual to become rich at the expense of others, even to the extent of making millions paupers and debt slaves. It is therefore natural that the new vision growing out of resentment against scarcity and destitution is a rebirth of society, a renaissance of human culture.

At the economic level, such visionary collective sentiments may initially express themselves as protectionist attitudes and self-centred policies; in the form of localised approaches focusing largely on local people’s needs and resources. This is where the existing EU should have started, with a vision of the welfare of the entire locality.

Buildings have to be built from the bottom; it is not possible to build anything concrete from the top. But the masters of global capitalism, with their exclusive focus on spin-off economics in the global casino and total lack of interest in the real economy, certainly think otherwise. Therefore the present EU structure is about to crumble. In its stead the Europeans have to develop a new organization, this time from the bottom-up, and not from the imaginary sky of giddy capitalists.

Is there then life after the EU for capitalists? Can they exist and even thrive in a genuine bottom-up society? Of course they can, if they choose to abide by harmonious humanity and not rampant individualism. The capitalist tendency is a natural human trait, and like all other human traits it should exist in agreement with other human traits and not take precedence over all and sundry. Industrial dynamism and competent management of capital is a priceless, benevolent social resource. It should not however be given free rein so as to profit individuals exclusively but should exist for society as a whole and for all its individuals.

PROUT is the only theory today that points to a true European and global socio-economic renaissance of welfare and progress for all. Among PROUT’s principles that addresses this vision most conspicuously, we find the first fundamental principle of PROUT and the principle of socio-economic unity in diversity – the idea of numerous samajas functioning well together in ever-increasing economic, cultural and political synthesis.

“A debt is a debt and it is a contract.”

Pictured above: IMF’s Christine Lagarde

[January 21, 2015] – On Monday the Jubilee Debt Campaign, an organization which campaigns against “unjust debts” said that its analysis of IMF figures showed that almost all of the money lent by the IMF, and Europe to Greece has been used to pay off “reckless lenders, with less than 10 percent of it actually reaching the Greek people.”

“European and Greek banks have been bailed out, whilst a debt has been left with the Greek people,” Tim Jones, an economist at the Jubilee Debt Campaign said, according to CNBC.

“This is the same unjust response to a financial crisis as happened across much of the developing world in the 1980s and 1990s. Debt needs to be cancelled, and we need a new process for dealing with debt crises so that lenders do not continue to be bailed out, leaving the cost with the public, and incentivising more reckless lending and turmoil.”

We agree – it is about time huge debts were written off and a fresh system of cooperative grassroots economics should be introduced. When policies prove utterly wrong and disastrous, it is high time for policy makers to look into alternatives and open up to new directions.

Dr. Susmit Kumar: "I'M Finished"

However, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned simultaneously that restructuring Greek debt would not be without “consequences.”

“A debt is a debt and it is a contract,” Lagarde told The Irish Times in an interview when asked about the general idea of holding a debt conference. “Defaulting, restructuring, changing the terms has consequences on the signature and the confidence in the signature,” she said.

We feel that Lagarde’s statement here is on par with the alleged utterance of Marie Antoinette of France (1755-1793): “[if they can’t have bread…] Let them eat cake!” The Queen of Louis XVI may or may not have said it, but Lagarde did; she expresses no sympathy or real understanding for the desperate situation of the 99% but continues to protect the privileges of the 1%.

We suggest Lagarde and her team study the history of stubborn rulers, in order to enable themselves to properly reform their global institution. Otherwise, the IMF will be just another Bastille doomed to topple.

Administration and Taxation

fox2(PROUT Globe, 18 June, 2013) – The Times of India has launched a campaign for letting corporate leaders have a say in how taxpayers’ money is spent. The initiative comes in the wake of increased taxes on businesses and booming bureaucracy spending. The proposal’s main argument is that the Indian state bureaucracy is inefficient and expensive, and that instead of having politicians spending money in ways designed to arouse the sympathy of the electorate, it would be better to have experienced business people monitoring public spending.

Like most proposals this bid, too, has its pros and cons as well as scope for improvement. From a Proutist point of view, the initiative is of general interest as it suggests transfer of power from one interest group to another and thereby indicates a basic principle of rotation of administrative powers. The proposal also touches on taxation, another area of keen interest to PROUT.

Administration

Pro: Business people do know how to calculate, budget, administer capital, control expenses, etc. It is a good idea to include such skills in economic administration. PROUT fights capitalism and its exploitation but favours input of capital-savvy individuals into growing humanistic economies.

Con: Under the current capitalist system business leaders invariably seek to further their own interests at the costs of others. In this respect, The Times of India may as well suggest to set a fox to keep the geese. It is inconceivable that this part of the proposal will work as intended under capitalism. More likely it will lead to increased exploitation of public funds

Scope for improvement: The proposal aims to lessen the power of the country’s notoriously corrupt bureaucracy and instead increase the power of the super-wealthy. This is not the way to solve the problem of graft and misuse of public funds. By replacing one corrupt class with another nothing good will be achieved.

Instead, PROUT advocates rotation of legal, executive, and fiscal powers from one interest group to another under the auspices of sadvipras. Only the stewardship of basically detached but deeply involved moralists and spiritualists can ensure that skills and calibers of the various military-minded, intellectual and capitalists interest-groups are properly employed.

Dynamicity is of the essence, humanity should not be made to suffer from imposed staticity. Whenever any of those three interest-groups fail to abide by the noble standards of evolving humanity it is the duty of sadvipras to ensure transfer of administrative powers to the next interest-group in a rotating system, for the good and happiness of all.

Taxation

PROUT recognizes the fact that many existing forms of taxation invite corruption. This is especially true of income taxation, which encourages economically alert individuals and companies to evade taxation as much as possible and thereby turns them into contributors to the black economy.

In order to root out this serious malady, PROUT advocates abolishment of direct taxation in most people’s daily life. Essential goods will be entirely tax free. There will be no income tax either. Instead taxes should be levied at the starting point of production, a system that would yield positive environmental impact in addition to establishing greater clarity and control as far as tax collection is concerned.

Here the question arises: How to make up for the abolition of income tax? PROUT founder Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar argued that if income tax is abolished in India and excise duty on excisable commodities is increased by only 10%, there will be no loss of government revenue.

When there is no income tax, nobody will try to accumulate black money. All money will be white money and as a result there will be economic solidarity, an increase in trade and commerce, more investment, more employment and an improvement in the position of foreign revenue. The abolition of income tax will prove a boon, Sarkar concluded.

Further thoughts on taxation according to PROUT may be found here.

Copyright PROUT Globe 2013

A Very Greek Tragedy

Originally published May 28, 2011.

By Trond Overland
The Beauty of Greece, currently playing in Europe, tells the story of Lady Greece of noble heritage who has taken to prostitution because a gang leader she fell in love with, Capitalism, is really a pimp. When the scandal breaks, her family go out of their way to save their reputation. They publicly brand Greece as deranged to get her into mental hospital treatment, “until she no more embarrasses herself”, and they mortgage (“quanteeeeeease” the rather sickening pawnbroker calls it) the family jewels in order to finance her stay at a seriously expensive mad house. If they don’t, the family’s golden ass, Euro, will die – an oracle balefully informs us as the first act closes dramatically.

Greece’s dandy cousin, UK Cameron, decides early on in the second act that he will not take part in helping Greece. He delivers a line of classical proportions: “We are not member of the Euro zone, therefore we won’t pay,” thereby reserving a place for himself among theatre’s hypocritical greats. For it was not, as you will remember, Euro or Greece herself who brought shame on Greece; it was Capitalism who did it.

During a nocturnal meeting in a graveyard between UK Cameron’s three servants, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, we come to know that their lord is unbridled Capitalism’s secret lover, and that all other members of the ill-starred family have also come under Capitalism’s dark sway one way or another, even the hospital staff. Hope for Greece seems to be running out. The graveyard council culminates with Wales rushing in to announce the terrible news that Capitalism and UK Cameron are really half-brothers by the same mother, Greed, who is also the mother of Greece by Capitalism’s old servant, his “paternal uncle” Grab.

Capitalism's henchmen Niko and Silvio let loose at the fatal booze party in Capitalism's mansion, "Second Dancing with Spirits scene (ugly)", Act 3, The Beauty of Greece

In the final act, Capitalism, drunk at a party in his pimp mansion, scorns Grab for being nothing but a poor servant. Grab, equally intoxicated and increasingly agitated, kills Capitalism who, as it turns out, is his own son. Gross Greeks.

The climatic last scene belongs to Grab. Hospitalised Greece has died of grief. Miserably alone in dead Capitalism’s mansion, Grab pulls out his own eyes, then tries the same with his ears but — newly self-blinded and severely disturbed by now — fails to succeed. The oracle’s ominous ramblings portending Euro’s gloomy fate grow increasingly loud as Grab, in the utter darkness that is now his life, inadvertently sets fire to the mansion and burns helplessly to death with the oracle’s words roaring in his ears.

Many in the audience are clearly agitated. “Let the golden donkey Euro go to hell!” some shout. A large lady shouts: “Down with the pimp!” Such loud-mouthing in the sacred temple of high drama may seem entirely out of place to some. We would rather welcome it and join in enthusiastically: “Give the EU structure more and more of a well-deserved thrashing!”

Members of the cast take a cue during rehearsal of "The Global scene", Act 1, The Beauty of Greece

The EU was originally established as a post-WW2-euphoria “common market” and developed politically from there. But this copycat model of the US federation will never be able to work through its serious crises — because it doesn’t have to. The sovereign countries of Europe know only too well how to survive on their own. If anything, they have perfected crisis management for centuries and millennia.

Precious little common glue, except for financial purposes and mountains of related laws and regulations, has stuck together the European nations before or after entering into their unholy EU alliance. The cement that carries the US federation forward is Liberty — Enlightenment style individual freedom with a business twist. The EU capitalist project has no such ideological adhesive, other than a semblance of pan-Europeanism without any real substance to it.

A federation of states cannot be founded on commercial terms alone. A wide spectrum of socioeconomic elements and factors need to reach certain saturation- and maturation levels before a happy merger of the two can take place, not to speak of an entire continent. Prime among these factors is the common economic challenges of ordinary people, which was never an EU issue in the first place. From Day One, this thoroughly market-oriented business plan allowed for the free exchange of goods, services, labour and capital, which has nothing to do with common welfare but everything to do with big capitalist interests.

The Beauty of Greece is written by the corrupt outlook and decadent socioeconomic ethics of contemporary bureaucratic society, who indeed want to get back at Capitalism. The Greek civil servants simply would like to have their cut and have sought it in the system itself, not in financial markets that they are not particularly good at playing.

Their attitude, of skimming off the cream in the family pantry instead of being out milking the cows, if you like, does not sit well with many of their colleagues and equals in the other countries, especially not with those up in more prudish northern Europe. This alone shows that important factors for close cooperation across Europe, let alone a full continental merger, were not properly in place back then. When the mother of all democracies along with other opportunist capitalist forces of Europe entered into EU matrimony, none of them were ethically or practically ready for taking such a huge step.

We all long for unity and togetherness. Such are the expansive sentiments and tender feelings at the core of our universal being. Still, we cannot deny our local heart and soul. We do need to acknowledge and bring with us our respective cultural emphasis, proud legacy, peculiar traits, etc. into any sort of union — and start from there. The EU merger mania gambled on skipping a few too many such local fences and now has to pay for it with its currency, the Euro. The question is whether matters will end there.

So what is the moral of this particular Greek tragedy? Heritage has to be brought forward in its own dignified way, independent of external economic interests. Capitalism the pimp has no role to play in the welfare of local people.

Suggested further reading: Criteria for Socioeconomic Groupification

Copyright The author 2011

Ship going down!

The Titanic of global capitalism has started to sink. The creaks and bangs of the gigantic ship breaking up, the shouts and howls of confused crew and desperate passengers, the incessant feed of nonsensical messages over loudspeakers, will continue to rouse general panic for some more time. In the end nothing can save the enormous structure from the very icy waters of its final demise.

By Trond Øverland

A Pew poll[1] taken in April 2012 show that the economy and jobs remain the most important issues of this presidential campaign, more than four in five registered voters thought. Only one in two thought that previous hot issues such as terrorism and abortion remained most crucial.

In fact, the economic crisis in America has reached the point where voters are ready to reject capitalism itself. In December last year, registered young voters in the U.S. said they preferred socialism to capitalism for the first time ever, and were more negative to capitalism than positive:

Pew poll conducted late December 2011

and the rats are leaving, too …

Jan. 25, 2012 (Bloomberg) – International investors say capitalism is in crisis, with almost one in three backing radical changes to the system, according to a Bloomberg survey.

As the global financial and business elite gather in Davos for their annual forum, a majority in the Bloomberg Global Poll agree that income inequality hurts the economy and that governments need to do something to address it – ideas at the heart of “Occupy” protests worldwide. Those surveyed also voice reservations about the financial industry’s role in society, with seven in 10 seeing at least some truth in the argument that banks have too much power over governments.

“Capitalism is in crisis because there is a huge and growing disparity in income/wealth distribution in Western economies, and an equally divisive generational disparity,” poll participant Michael Derks, chief strategist for FXPro Financial Services broker in London, said in an e-mail.

“It requires government intervention on an enormous scale, because an economy cannot survive if it does not invest in the younger generation,” Derks said. [2]

Unprecedented crisis

The present crisis in global exploitative capitalism is tremendous and in many ways unprecedented:

  • The crisis is global: Everywhere people are confronted with serious problems caused by capitalism’s single-minded pursuit of profits; capitalism is being universally questioned.
  • The crisis is unsustainable: As profit margins come under increasing pressure in the global village, capitalism takes on the appearance of a civil war being fought out between giant corporations on the world’s stock exchanges for reasons far removed from the realities of most people.
  • The capitalist race itself is basically unsustainable: The physical world is limited and we all need to take part in a coordinated effort for proper utilization through sharing of resources.

In short,capitalism’s main inner self-contradiction is critically breaking its keel: Capitalism’s insatiable greed for limited physical wealth.

Moreover, modern technology accelerates the crisis:

  • Financial and commercial trade operates through a 24/7 network of high-powered sophisticated technology that holds the world a permanent hostage to speculation.
  • Hyper-alert robot technology drives the stock markets still further away from economic realities, creating fluctuations faster than humans can think.

And the media amplifies and reinforces the crisis:

  • Acting as a pressure cooker outside and inside the manipulative system, commercial media bombard market players with information that rapidly gets translated into dramatic figures.

Here are some real figures:

  • January 2012: Two-thirds of the U.S. public believe there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor, The Pew Global Attitudes Project reports.
  • May 2011: An OECD report concludes that income inequality is rising in most developed countries. Kentaro Toyama, an information researcher at Berkeley, writes in The Atlantic:
    “The report should be disturbing for centrists who believe both in free markets and social equality. If free-market capitalism works so well for every income level, why have so many people seen income pass them by with capitalism working more efficiently than ever before?” [3]
  • January 2012: Youth unemployment throughout the EU stands at 25%. By September in Spain it is 50%. Half of Britain’s young black males are out of work, reports the UK Office for National Statistics.
  • January 2011: 1 in 4 young people (aged 16-24) are unemployed in Middle East and North Africa, a factor that contributed considerably to the rapid mobilization and explosive character of the Arab Spring, the International Labor Organisation reports.
  • 2011: 1 in 7 people are hungry [4]. According to the World Health Organization, hunger is the single most serious threat to the world’s public health. Six million children die of hunger every year; half of all child mortality is caused by malnourishment. Undernourishment currently affects about 14% of the world population.
  • October 2010: Global environmental damage cost $6.6 trillion during 2008, equivalent to 11 per cent of global GDP, and is set to quadruple by 2050, the UN reports.

Unprecedented response

Management responses to the present crisis are unprecedented, too. The last time the world was shattered by a gigantic economic downturn, in the 1930s, the burst of an enormous bubble of speculation took authorities by surprise. Today they are much better prepared:

  • The present organization of global capitalism, spearheaded by the IMF, the G8, etc., will continue to present powerful arguments for passing laws and regulations for sustaining the exploitative system.
  • Interventions, such as quantitative easing, debt packages, etc., will continue to be orchestrated between countries.
  • In addition to its phenomenal media power, today’s mature capitalism has formidable research, academic and technological resources at their disposal.

This remarkable machinery will be able to somehow stall a fundamental collapse for some time. We will therefore continue to see increasingly dramatic fluctuations until the system goes down for good.

So far only Greece and Spain have seen sustained mass demonstrations in reaction to cuts in public spending, galloping unemployment, etc. Elsewhere, people still seem to think: “It isn’t really happening here, the global system has been allowed to run amok, someone fix it!”

Going down for sure

Where are the life boats then? Well, capitalism itself provides none — it never had proper plans and programs in place for economic and financial rescue. For instance, the pension funds of hundreds of millions of people are now being used for speculation on the stock exchanges. These, too, will be lost forever in that fathomless, unforgiving sea.

Capitalism is not just a few particularly bad apples. It is an all-encompassing, ever-encroaching cancer on human sense and sensibilities. In fact, capitalism was always a reckless system totally averse to taking real social responsibility in a crisis situation. Even in its death throes capitalism’s focus will remain on making profits out of the terrible chaos it has created.

It is up to ordinary people and their governments to find a new way once they are on dry land again. New laws and rules will certainly forbid liberal capitalism and favour a system better able to secure progress for all.

Sources

1 Poll taken by Pew Research Center, April 4-15, 2012
Business Week
3 The Atlantic, May 13, 2011
Hunger Notes

Countries in Overwhelming Debt, Just Say No!

(October 2011) – Economist Ravi Batra calls it “Weapons of Mass Destruction” while financial advisor Max Keiser refers to “The Financial Terrorists of Wall Street and the IMF”.

In Iceland, the people decided to take the health of their country into their own hands. They refused to pay for the ill deeds of bankers who had brought their economy to collapse. In Greece at present a similar No-Pay movement is fast taking shape. The peoples of Italy, Spain and of other countries in heavy debt will most probably follow suit.

Who is responsible for a country’s catastrophic debt — its people or the financial players who orchestrated it? To the people of Iceland the answer was simple. The country’s 300.000+ citizens took little time in changing their constitution in order to initiate a tough recovery program after the collapse of Iceland’s three biggest private banks. Writer Diana Stryker observed

“The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.”

According to PROUT, the present European Union is a premature, speculative socio-economic experiment bound to fail. Instead of joining a common open market, the respective nations should first have aimed at each being anchored in local economic democracy and developed their own balanced economy.

The proper functioning of a large and diverse socio-economic area such as Europe require that common economic, ethnic, sentimental and geographical challenges are managed with the view of people’s welfare and not for the profit of opportunistic market players.

It was Nancy Reagan, wife of the late U.S. President, who famously suggested, “Just Say No!” to teenagers who sought her advice on how to tackle the pushing of banned substances in their local environment. Now the time has come for whole countries to say no to offers that would only maintain their dependency on a financial system that has come to poison the entire world.

Copyright PROUT Globe 2011

Close Down All Stock Exchanges For Good


(PROUT Globe) – The concentration of great wealth beyond the influence of ordinary citizens is at the heart of the mounting difficulties that now make global capitalism look like the Nexus of Evil. As a first step towards establishing a real economy of real people, stock exchanges and their exploitative trading tools should be banned.

In a seminal discourse in 1984, PROUT founder P.R. Sarkar exhorted:

“Capitalists, in either their singular or collective forms, are the most pernicious economic exploiters today. All over the world they are continually exploiting local economies and draining their wealth. In nearly all cases the profits they accrue are spent outside the local area and remitted to outside stockholders and parent companies. An essential measure to control this economic exploitation is that the speculative markets in all countries of the world should be closed down immediately.”*

Closing down the leading institutions of an exploitative system is a first step. However, the subsequent constructive steps may seem even more important.

The world and its people need a decentralized consumption-oriented economy where profits are for developing the economy of everybody and not only of a few. It will be the job of lawmakers and the people to evolve such a humanist system.

Money needs to be kept rolling. Otherwise it loses its practical value. Right now, capitalists are holding back as they are not sure where they can get optimum returns. By their present unwillingness to invest they hurt the entire world and threaten to offset an unprecedented depression. But their greed does not allow them to act otherwise. They keep the whole world hostage to their defective mentality. Consequently, the days of capitalism as the dominating world system are numbered.

We appeal to occupants and protesters all over the world to move swiftly from being angry and upset protest movements to presenting mature sustainable and constructive alternatives for the welfare of all. In that way we may be able to present solutions that may be applicable to all, including those of a commercial and economic persuasion. The movement for economic justice is global.

* Source: “Socio-economic Movements”, PROUT in a Nutshell Part 13, Ananda Marga Publications

Copyright PROUT Globe 2011

A European Tobin Tax: Charity For Whom?

(September 28, 2011) – The so-called Tobin tax proposed today by the EU Commissioner Mr. Barroso may be seen by some as an attempt at infusing an element of “mixed economy” and even humanity into the heartless world of finance. “Such a measure, already supported by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is long overdue,” writes Philippe Douste-Blazy, a former French foreign secretary, in The New York Times. Mr. Douste-Blazy reminds us:

“Last year 4 million people in low- and middle-income countries had been forced into extreme poverty — living on less than $1.25 a day — as a result of the food, fuel and financial crises … A new architecture of development assistance should provide stable, reliable and robust revenue streams that can weather global economic storms and changing political landscapes.”

He also refers the commendable work done by the organisation that he himself is heading:

“In 2006, Unitaid, an international agency based at the World Health Organization in Geneva, introduced the world’s first innovative tax for development — a small levy on airline tickets, usually about $2, that in its first five years has raised around $2 billion to help save lives by providing treatment for H.I.V./AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis … There is an urgent need to expand such solutions. It is fair, given its role in precipitating the economic crisis, to look to the largest and most profitable industry in the world — the financial sector — to play its part.”

The present call for a Tobin tax in Europe can not be likened to a scheme where airline passengers pay extra to fund a charity. This tax proposal is a desperate attempt to get some of the enormous concentration of wealth at the top of the capitalist food-chain redistributed — not to ordinary people who may need it the most but to the banks and other parts of the exploitive financial machinery itself.

Whatever the case, neither can people live properly on charity nor will the exploitative system change to the better as a consequence of being forced to do away with a tiny bit (the proposed tax would levy just 0.05 percent on each stock, bond, derivative or currency transaction) of its ill-begotten wealth. The cunning people on Wall Street will only find out new inventive ways to make up for their “loss” many times over.

PROUT points out that concentration of wealth is at the heart of the capitalist system. Robin Hood-style taxation will not result in a redirection of capitalism towards a wider distribution of wealth. No amount of taxation of financial trade will contribute to public welfare in real terms as long as the economic system itself only continues to increase its exploitation of the social body.

PROUT states that the collapse of the exploitative world of finance will happen as a natural course of events. It is the logical outcome of capitalism’s fundamental contradiction: Infinite desire for finite wealth. The job at hand is neither to reform the exploitative system nor to tear it down (as it will fall by itself). Our duty is to manifest a new, radically different, sustainable, and moral alternative.

Copyright PROUT Globe 2011

After Decades of Being Looted by the Rich the Poor Loot Back

Dada Krsnasevananda
(August 10, 2011) – According to the recently released Report of the National Equality Panel (http://bitly.com/p6yB3O) the top ten percent of British households are a shocking 100 times more wealthy than the lowest ten percent. How did they get there? Since the mid 1970s real income of the average British Citizen has stagnated while the incomes of the top 10 % have doubled and quadrupled. Since the 2008 financial crisis alone British CEOs of the FTSE 100 top corporations have increased their incomes by 51% to an average of 4.3 million pounds a year.

Meanwhile Joe Citizen has to face unemployment, increasingly unaffordable education, cuts to medicare, youth services, elderly services, etc.. Such blatant inequality is nothing less than looting. Over the last few days the anger has boiled over. Disenfranchised youth facing long term prospects of poverty and unemployment are turning to rioting in London and other cities as the only means of striking back and getting their hands on amenities they will be unlikely to obtain any other way.

Sadly, looting struggling shopkeepers in poor areas only adds to the suffering and risks turning the poor against the poor. Youth leaders, students and the middle class need to be educated as to who the real criminals are. This work is being done well by movements such as “UKUncut”  (http://bitly.com/oHkTIy) who are organizing peaceful demonstrations outside wealthy banks and shops with proven records of “tax-dodging”.  UKUncut is calling on the government to pay for bailing out the banks by making wealthy individuals and corporations pay their taxes – highlighting the fact that up to 20 billion pounds a year of government revenue are lost through tax avoidance. UKUncut rightly points out that if the wealthy merely paid their fair share of taxes no cuts would be necessary.  The struggling British public has responded very favorably to these demonstrations – with as many as half a million people coming out on the streets of London on a single day.

With anger against exploitation mobilized to the extent of open revolt, it is urgently necessary to take the demands of protest one step further – how can we not only end such unethical disparity but prevent it from occurring in the first place? According to PROUT, in order to protect the welfare of the common citizen and prevent the greedy from exploiting others a humane society must set rational limits on individual accumulation. The ratio of minimum to maximum wealth should be fixed. The minimum should be calculated so that the average citizen can afford the basic necessities while the maximum should be calculated so as to provide individual incentive without harming the bulk of society. In other words there should be a fair balance between individual and collective interests. Capitalism with it’s inherent tendency to privatize profits and socialize losses has been clearly unable to do this.

So let’s get the message out on the street.  We can do this by supporting UKUncut, Trade Union strikes and protests by all progressive groups and simply extending their “Tax the Rich” message into a demand for ethical limits on wealth. We can also get the idea out by using the opportunity to comment on relevant articles appearing daily in the electronic media such as The Guardian (http://bit.ly/oMhzDb), and other progressive or not so progressive media. And of course, tweet, blog, etc.

Copyright The author 2011

As Above, So Below

(August, 2011) – British authorities were quick to brand rioters in London and other cities as criminals. There seems to be little understanding of the fact that the looters and vandals are underprivileged people who have been forced to watch as the rich and the super-rich become still richer.

We live in a world of limited resources. It is therefore reasonable to expect that those who are left with little, will harbour all sorts of unhealthy feelings toward those who already have too much and still want more. In the end their desperate dissatisfaction transforms into a collective outburst of rage which is what we are seeing on the streets of the UK now.

The UK is “a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country,” writes Nina Power in The Guardian.

If the British really want to get to the bottom of their present troubles they should take a hard look at gangs and looting not only at the lowest levels of society but more so at the highest level. Just calling them criminals puts the British authorities on a par with repressive regimes elsewhere whom they hardly want to be compared to.