Category Archives: Social cycle

The Middle Class Potentiality

By Trond Øverland

[January 2015] – All over the Western world, the middle class is now sinking into poverty. The economic crisis has planted its roots both in Europe and in the USA, and millions now have to live with insecurity, uncertain about what the future holds for them.

Just before the 2015 Davos Summit being held in Switzerland this week, the charity Oxfam has published details of how the mega-rich 1% now own and control more than half of the world’s wealth. This miniscule group now have cornered more wealth than 99% of world’s population as a whole have.

“This is one of the worst psychological states of mind for human beings. We see quiet desperation spreading among Europeans, resulting in depression, resignation and loss of hope,” says a 2013 report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“Whilst other continents successfully reduce poverty, Europe adds to it. The long-term consequences of this crisis have yet to surface. The problems caused will be felt for decades even if the economy turns for the better in the near future … We wonder if we as a continent really understand what has hit us,” the report ponders.

According to Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation some 5.5 million Germans have lost their middle-class social status over the past decade and fallen into the ranks of low-income earners while at the same time half a million others made the grade as high-income earners. Despite Germany’s vaunted success in avoiding the high levels of unemployment prevalent across much of the EU, a quarter of the country’s employed are classified as low-wage earners, almost half of new job contracts since 2008 have been low-paid, flexible, part-time so-called mini-jobs/zero hours jobs with little security and usually no social benefits, The Guardian reports.

Values

As Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute has pointed out, a strong middle class and a more egalitarian distribution of income can build long-term growth. The conventional capitalist idea is to see the middle class as a middle economic tier, a buffer, sandwiched so to speak, between the rich and the poor, preferably with certain values attached to it:

“In the USA being middle class does not just imply a particular financial state but a set of values, and even a way of life, that is assumed to be broadly shared not only by members of the middle class, but by Americans in general. A strong work ethic, understanding the value of the dollar, striving for economic success and the promise for a better future for one’s children are the values, which have made the huge American middle class possible. They are also central to the broader American ethos and to the maintenance of the social fabric. When these values are threatened, as they are now, our whole society is threatened.” – Lincoln Mitchell

PROUT’s middle class, on the other hand, is not defined by people who perform intellectual (non-menial) work, or of people of average wealth (neither super-rich nor poor). The critical middle class in a capitalist society consists of warrior-minded and intellectual people who refuse to accept capitalism as their life ethos. Instead they choose to work for the introduction of economic democracy focussed on humane cooperation and all-round progress for all.

PROUT’s concept of middle class springs out of the theory of the social cycle. The social cycle spans four classes — workers, warriors, intellectual, and acquisitors (capitalists) — who dominate their respective eras and times. During capitalism, the three other classes are subjected to working round the clock for the continuous enrichment of the minority rich.

It is this situation we see today: the 99% and the 1%. Of the 99% the majority are of worker mentality, understanding or knowing little beyond slaving for their exploitative employers. Only a small minority of the 99% hold on to their original warrior and intellectual values that enable them to see beyond capitalist rule and cherish the vision of a new human society where all can progress.

The difference between PROUT’s concept of the middle class and the conventional capitalist view of it reflects a deeper view of human nature and potentialities. PROUT is for maximum utilisation and rational distribution of all physical, mental and spiritual potentialities, both of the individual and the collective.

What Lies Ahead for Egypt Post Arab Spring?

By Apek Mulay

Introduction

The Arab Spring is widely believed to have been instigated by dissatisfaction with the rule of local governments, though some have speculated that wide gaps in income levels may have had a hand as well. Numerous factors led to the protests, including issues such as dictatorship or absolute monarchyhuman rights violations, political corruption, economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty and a number of demographic structural factors, such as a large percentage of educated, but dissatisfied youth within the population [1]. By December 2013, rulers had been forced from power in TunisiaEgypt , Libya and Yemen; civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests also broke out in AlgeriaIraq, JordanKuwaitMorocco and Sudan; while minor protests occurred in MauritaniaOmanSaudi ArabiaDjiboutiWestern Sahara and the Palestinian Authority [1].

Law of Social Cycle

The theory was propounded by the Indian philosopher and spiritual leader Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar in the 1950s and expanded by Ravi Batra since the 1970s, Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah since the 1990s and others [2]. According to this theory, people in any society are all relatively similar; they have generally the same goals, desires and ambitions – but differ in the way they go about achieving their goals. Based on their approach to achieve those goals people could be classified into four different psychological categories viz. warriors, intellectuals, acquisitors and labourers [2].

Warriors [2]

Warriors are people with strong bodies, vigorous physical energy and a sharp intellect. Warriors tend to develop the skills that take advantage of their inherent gifts of stamina, courage and vigor. Their mentality is one that is not averse to taking physical risks. They all achieve success through their physical skills and a deep understanding of their profession. Examples of people in our society with the warrior mentality include: policemen, firemen, soldiers, professional athletes, etc.

Intellectuals [2]

Intellectuals have a more developed intellect than the warriors, but generally lack the physical strength and vigor. Intellectuals are happiest when they try to achieve success by developing and expressing their intellectual skills and talents. Examples would be: Teachers, writers, professors, scientists, artists, musicians, philosophers, doctors and lawyers and above all, priests.

Acquisitors [2]

Acquisitors have a penchant for acquiring money. If money can be made, the acquisitors will find a way to make it. They are not considered as bright as the intellectuals, nor as strong as the warriors, but they are keen when it comes to making and accumulating money and material possessions. Such people are the traders, businessmen, managers, entrepreneurs, bankers, brokers and landlords in our society.

Laborers [3]

Laborers lack the energy and vigor of the warriors, the keen intellect of the intellectuals, or the ambition and drive of the accumulators. Their contribution to society is profound and no society could function without them. However, the other groups generally look down upon and tend to exploit them. The laborers- including peasants, serfs, clerks, short order cooks, waiters, janitors, doormen, cabdrivers, garbage collectors, truck drivers, night watchmen and factory workers – keep society running smoothly by working diligently and without complaint.

losc1

Figure 1: Law of Social Cycle explained in pictorial form. As shown in figure above, control of Society keeps moving from Intellectuals to Acquisitors to Laborers to Warriors in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction depending on the domination of Intellectuals, Acquisitors, Warriors or Laborers.

The Social Cycle Theory has its source in the concepts of Macrohistory presented in P.R. Sarkar’s philosophical treatise Ananda Sutram along with original concepts of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and macrohistory [3]. According to Sarkar, in this movement of the social cycle, one class is always dominant. The movement of the Social Cycle in a clockwise direction in Fig 1 (shown by Blue arrows) constitutes an “Evolution” if it occurs after a sufficiently long duration. If this clockwise movement occurs within a short duration, this is called “Revolution.” The movement of the Social Cycle counter-clockwise in Fig 1 (shown by Orange arrows) constitutes a “Counter Evolution” if it occurs after a significantly long duration. This counter-evolution is extremely short-lived. But, if this anti-clockwise movement occurs within a short duration, it is called “Counter Revolution.” Counter-revolution is even more short-lived than counter-evolution. The successful operation of the “Law of Social Cycle” has been analyzed by Professor Ravi Batra from SMU, Dallas in his 1978 book The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism: A New Study of History[4].

Law of Social Cycle in Egypt

After the Second World War, the US was the only developed country which had not experienced that war fought on its soil. As the US became a global nexus of capitalism, US-based multi-national corporations (MNCs) influenced “Free Trade” agreements between member nations in order gain free access to the markets and increase their consumer base [5]. The capitalists or acquisitors from the US were also very eager to reap profits from the oil rich countries in Middle East. While the US theoretically advocated Democracy all over the world, when it came to the Middle East, US policy has been different. The 1979 Iranian revolution resulted in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran by a Mass revolution [6]. As a result of this, the US tightened its grip over the oil rich countries in Middle East by supporting dictators in several Middle Eastern countries. Hosni Mubarak became the President of Egypt following the assassination of then-president Anwar Sadat on 6 October 1981 [7]. By means of supporting dictators like Mubarak in Egypt, US was able to exercise its control over the Suez Canal which was a strategic port connecting the Middle East to the rest of world by Sea.

During Mubarak’s reign as dictator in Egypt starting in 1981, he suppressed the fundamentalists in Egypt with an Iron hand. He made it officially illegal for Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to distribute literature or assemble in public [8]. Although Mubarak acted in best interest of his western allies, the economic conditions of ordinary Egyptians did not improve during his reign leading to large scale unemployment because Mubarak looked after his own interests over the interests of his subjects. There was also suppression of their political freedom in Egypt. This 30 years rule of Hosni Mubarak was indeed because of Rule of Acquisitors who supported dictatorial regime in Egypt to get access to strategic Suez Canal.

After the great recession struck in US in 2007, the lingering weakness of American economy which was so far ignored by experts and government came to the surface. During this recession, US were forced to cut foreign aid to several of its allies in order to have sufficient funds to stimulate its domestic economy. The huge unemployment and exposed political corruption ignited the spark of mass protests which is now called as the Arab Spring. The spark grew like a raging wildfire with mass demonstrations engulfing several countries in Middle East including Egypt.  Eventually, After 18 days of protests and demonstrations by masses on Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Mubarak had to step down as a dictator due to International pressure. These Mass Demonstrations were the Social Upheaval or rule of Laborers in Egypt.  In order to restore civil order in Egypt, the Egyptian army took control of country post Mubarak. This rule of Army was essentially Rule of force by the warrior class in Egypt. After the Egyptian military took control of Egypt, the citizens of Egypt demanded free and fair democratic elections.

Democracy is defined as government of the people, for the people and by the people. But, in fact, it is the rule of the majority. Hence democracy means mobocracy when the government under a democratic guise is guided by mob psychology. The majority of people can often be manipulated. The wise are always in a minority. Thus finally democracy can amount to nothing but a “foolocracy”. In such a system, the government of the people, by the people and for the people would mean government of fools, by fools and for fools [11]. Due to inherent defects in democratic process and because of rule of majority in Democratic elections, the long suppressed Muslim brotherhood rose to power with their presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, winning 52% of votes [12].

The election of Mohamed Morsi enabled the Muslim brotherhood to make changes in the existing constitution in order to impose aspects of Islamic law. These constitutional changes were counter evolutionary because instead of evolution of Egyptian society with progressive ideas, Muslim brotherhood made an attempt to take the society back to regressive ideas which existed in 7th Century Arabia. The liberal minded Muslims and Egyptians from other religious faiths were opposed to imposition of these Islamic ideas which led to a Mass Demonstrations once again on Tahrir square demanding resignation of the newly elected president. This short period of presidential rule of Mohamed Morsi could be considered as the Rule of Ideas or rule of Intellectual class.  This proves that only progressive ideas lead to evolution of society and those ideas which are regressive or go against the evolution and progress of society are extremely short lived. The Mass Demonstrations turned back the clock of Social Cycle in Egypt and Rule of Ideas was replaced by Social Upheaval thereby bypassing the Rule of Force by Warriors. This movement of Social Cycle from the Rule of Intellectuals to Rule of Laborers could be considered as ‘Counter Revolution‘ due to application of tremendous revolutionary force bypassing the counter-evolution where control was supposed to mover in hands of the Egyptian army thereby establishing  a Rule of Force.

As mentioned by P R Sarkar in Ananda Sutram, A ‘Counter Revolution‘ is even shorter lived than ‘Counter Evolution‘ [3]. This proved to be true as Egyptian Army quickly took control back in their hands and election of Mohamed Morsi was cancelled and he was placed under house arrest. The rule of Warriors was a process of natural evolution after social upheaval and hence it has continued for a while in Egypt. This Social change since Arab Spring in Egypt has been graphically been explained in Figure 2.

losc2

Figure 2: Recent Social events in Egypt complying with P.R. Sarkar’s Law of Social Cycle showing different stages of Evolutions and Counter Revolution.

What lies ahead for Egypt?

As the Rule of Warriors post recent Social upheaval has been a process of evolution, it is expected to last for a while. The Egyptian army has a very important role to restore a functioning democracy in Egypt based on progressive ideas. Based on the above analysis, I have proved that Law of Social Cycle worked successfully in recent history of Egypt. The understanding of this ‘Law of Social Cycle’ is also best way of forecasting Macro-history in Egypt and around the world.  To end the martial law in Egypt and to have a stable civil society, it is duty of military to seek help  and work with International community in bringing the much needed reforms in its democracy to respect the interests of minority even when there is a rule of majority in democracy.

In his book The Modernization of Islam, author and historian Dr. Susmit Kumar analyzed the Social, Political and religion in Middle East and concluded that the rise of fundamentalism is inevitable not just in Egypt but all Islamic countries in Middle East and North Africa [13]. The Muslim brotherhood tried to take control of a country with secular past like Egypt and made an unsuccessful attempt by democratic means to establish Islamic law. As part of natural evolution, the Social Cycle in Egypt should move from Rule of Warriors to Rule of Ideas. If the Egyptian Military gets assistance from democracies in west and establishes a secular democracy in Egypt, then the future is bright not just for all Egyptians but in general for entire Middle East.  However, If Western democracies fail to solve problems in their own economy and also fail to bring about progressive reforms in their existing democracies, it is very likely that Egypt would fall into the hands of radical Islamists.

Therefore, if the West wishes to lead countries like Egypt towards social and economic progress, it is very critical for them to get their own domestic economies in order.  It is in best interest of West to have a stable and progressive democracy established in Egypt in order to pursue International trade via Suez Canal.  If however, Out of their self-interest, the West forgets and leaves Egypt with its own troubles (just like it abandoned Afghanistan post Collapse of Soviet Communism) instead of assisting the Egyptians, the rise of fundamentalism in not just Egypt but entire Middle East seems inevitable. Since Rule of Warriors is followed by the Rule of Ideas in process of evolution as put for by P R Sarkar, Depending on the assistance received from its western allies, Egypt would have a governance with either progressive and democratic ideas or regressive and undemocratic ideas like Sharia law.

References

[1] Arab Spring, Wikipedia -the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring

[2] Law of Social Cycle, Wikipedia- the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Social_Cycle

[3] P R Sarkar, Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell, Ananda Sutram, Chapter 5, AMPS (1959).

[4] Ravi Batra, ‘The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism’, Venus Publications (May 1978).

[5] Apek Mulay, ‘Should USD be restored to Gold Standard?’ PROUT Globe (4 August 2013). http://www.proutglobe.org/2013/08/should-usd-be-restored-back-to-gold-standard/

[6] Iranian Revolution, Wikipedia -the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Revolution

[7] History of Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, Wikipedia -the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Egypt_under_Hosni_Mubarak

[8] History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (1954–present), Wikipedia -the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Muslim_Brotherhood_in_Egypt_(1954%E2%80%93present)

[9]Larry Everest, HOSNI MUBARAK: A Profile of an American-Backed Tyrant (7 Feb 2011) http://www.revcom.us/a/224online/mubarak-en.html

[10] John R. Bolton, The Wall Street Journal, Cutting off aid to Egypt would be a mistake (11 Jul 2013) http://www.aei.org/article/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/middle-east-and-north-africa/cutting-off-aid-to-egypt-would-be-a-mistake/

[11]Apek Mulay, Truth-out.org, Reforms for Converting the Present Corporate Democracy into Meaningful Civilian Democracy (16 Sept 2013) http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/18865-reforms-for-converting-the-present-corporate-democracy-into-meaningful-civilian-democracy#!

[12] Adnan Khan, Khalifah.com, Egypt, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood: Challenges and Threats (12 July 2012) http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/analysis/middle-east/14224-egypt-morsi-and-the-muslim-brotherhood-challenges-and-threats

[13] Susmit Kumar, PROUT Globe, The Modernization of Islam http://www.proutglobe.org/2011/10/modernization-of-islam/

The Sarkar Game

fourvarnas

This is an action learning process that introduces participants to the Social Cycle and its holistic perspective of social change. It was created in 2004 by Peter Hayward and Joseph Voros of the Strategic Foresight Institute at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. Their colleague, Sohail Inayatullah, has successfully used this technique in hundreds of workshops with professionals. In an article, “Creating the experience of social change”, Hayward and Voros wrote:

Sarkar’s theory of the Social Cycle is concerned with the ways that humans, and their social organizations, have dealt with the existential problems of how their physical and social environments relate to one another. His theory of macrohistory proposes that civilization has cycled through four major ‘states’… [that are] both material power structures and epistemic or paradigmatic forms of individual and collective psychology. Further, each state has a beneficial phase (vidya) and a perverse phase (avidya); thus, even though each state is successful in managing existential problems, it also contains the seeds of its ultimate decline.

P.R. Sarkar’s Social Cycle elegantly demonstrates how easily ‘social roles’ are adopted and how these roles bring forth partial and limited understandings of change and change processes. Both as a macrohistorical model of social change and the embodiment of the process of social construction, it is a pivotal learning element in the subject…. By ‘creating’ the experience of the Social Cycle in the classroom, the students learn of their own social constructions and roles. They experience the frustration of how these roles and constructions limit the effectiveness of their actions. They can also recognize the qualitative difference in the potential of actions that arise from adopting an ‘integral’ stance in participating in social change.[1]

University students and other groups tend to enjoy this activity very much. The facilitator divides the participants into four groups; each group is given a simple script explaining the varna that they will represent. While a good amount of laughter often accompanies the impromptu acting, the debriefing and deconstruction of the roles that follows awak- ens many questions and insights. The creators note:

The Sarkar game experience taps into the ‘deep’ scripts that we all have, scripts that cover role, power and relationship. Our societal processes have programmed those scripts into us and they continue to operate unconsciously until an experience draws them into consciousness, thereby making them accessible to inquiry and examination… The game, therefore, is a serious one. While we ‘play’ at learning, the consequences of not learning are serious indeed. Sarkar’s social cycle at its heart is revolutionary…[2]

Below are written instructions to be handed to each group, as well as instructions for the facilitator.

Scripts:

Group 1, Workers

You are guided by basic instincts. You are preoccupied with survival and mundane pleasures. You want safety, security and reasonable comforts. You want inspiration and faith to alleviate suffering and the fear of death. TV, a cold beer, sex, watching sports are common pastimes. You usually leave complicated political and economic decisions to leaders you trust. When inspired, you loyally follow leaders of the other classes. But if your needs are not met, you can disrupt, create chaos or even bring the system down. Your group will begin the game. So prepare a simple skit lasting a couple of minutes or so demonstrating your nature until the other groups enter and interact with you. Remember there are both positive and negative aspects of your archetype. Use your imagination and speak loudly and clearly.

Group 2, Warriors

Your physical strength and courage are your greatest assets. You embrace challenge and struggle. You value honor, discipline, and self-sacrifice. Your will, patience and hard work are your strengths. You protect society from danger and chaos, by enforcing order. Sports and martial arts are your hobbies. You obey and expect others to obey authority and follow orders, no matter what. Your group will be the second group to enter the game. Decide how you will interact with the first group of workers. Remember there are both positive and negative aspects of your archetype. Use your imagination and speak loudly and clearly.

Group 3, Intellectuals

Your developed mind is your greatest asset. The search for truth, removing errors and confusion, is your purpose. Some of you have knowledge of science, while others have knowledge of spiritual reality. You protect everyone by making rules and laws and ordering the warriors to enforce them. You debate hard so that the best ideas win. You create enlightenment. The arts are your hobbies. You lead others by establishing your religion, your science or your political system as the Truth. Your group will be the third group to enter the game. Decide how you will interact with the groups of workers and warriors. Remember there are both positive and negative aspects of your archetype. Use your imagination and speak loudly and clearly.

Group 4, Entrepreneurs

You make money easily and invest it wisely. You excel in administration and organization. Efficient and effective, you manage large numbers of people to produce new products and accomplish difficult tasks. Through wealth and power, you can help everyone. You reward loyal service with higher salaries. Efficiency is very important. Your group will be the last group to enter the game. Decide how you will interact with the groups of workers, warriors and intellectuals. Remember there are both positive and negative aspects of your archetype. Use your imagination and speak loudly and clearly.

Faciltator instructions:

Split the room into four equal groups and give each group their script, and props if you can: tools to the first group, toy guns and/or kitchen knives to the second, books to the third, and credit cards and play money to the fourth.

Stand in the middle of the room and explain the game: “Read your script and play just that role. Do not show your script to the other groups. Please remember that there are both positive and negative aspects of your archetype. Be aware of both potentials as you interact with others. Take a few minutes to discuss in your group what you want to do.”

Invite the workers to begin. After a couple of minutes, invite the warriors to respond. The other two groups observe until called in. When you feel that perverse behaviors are present or the game is going flat, stop the play (with a bell, whistle, red flag, whatever) and ask the intellectuals to enter. The tripartite dynamic continues until the behavior becomes perverse and the entrepreneurs are invited in.

The game runs until you are satisfied that the dynamic is sufficient. Ask the groups to take their seats but stay in their groups. Debrief each group in turn, with everyone listening. Ask one member to read their script aloud. Then ask the group to describe how they tried to act out their role, and ask the other groups for their opinions. Build a dynamic picture of each group. Highlight the healthy form of each type of organization, how each group wins power, and the inherent suffering that each group eventually creates.

Once the nature of social change is clear, you can then introduce the idea of an invisible fifth force in the room. Conscious of the strengths and weaknesses of each group, one can choose another path, that of the spiritual revolutionary.

Notes

1  Peter Hayward and Joseph Voros, “The Sarkar Game: Creating the experience of social change” http://www.priven.org/publications/ 2  Ibid.

Excerpted from After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action by Dada Maheshvarananda (Puerto Rico: Innerworld Publications, 2012): www.aftercapitalism.org

Batra on Revolution, Persecution, Supply and Demand, Economic Democracy and Social Cycles

An interview on New Zealand National Radio on 5th November 2011

Dr Ravi Batra – Professor of economics at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and the author of the 2008 book, The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos.   Original audio interview online

Prof Ravi Batra

Kim Hill:    Economist Dr Ravi Batra wrote a book in 1978 called The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism which predicted that Soviet Communism would vanish around the end of that century and that a social revolution sparked by disparity of wealth would begin the end of Capitalism by 2010. Well Dr Batra was pretty much on the money about Soviet Communism and now, looking at recent events including the Occupy Wall St movement and presumably the Eurozone crisis, is feeling vindicated on the second prediction as well. He says that social revolution will succeed by 2016. Dr Batra is Professor of Economics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and he joins me now. Good morning Dr Batra.
Dr Batra:    Good morning
KH:    Your predictions have been it seems more accurate than most not only about the end of Communism, the rise of the Shia republic in Iran. What other predictions have you made?
RB:    Oh, in the latest book that I wrote The New Golden Age and the Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos, in that book I made all sorts of forecasts about the economy, society, Iran-Iraq war, oil prices, rates of inflation, the budget deficit, and I wrote that book in 2006 and everything that I wrote there has already come true.
KH:    What did you predict about the Iran-Iraq war as a matter of interest?
RB:    I wrote that the war in Iraq would not be over until about 2010-2011 and around that time then the US would somersault to pull out but that it would keep on going for another 3 or 4 years unfortunately.

Law of Social Cycles

KH:    We will get back to economics. I presume the Iran-Iraq war is not strictly an economic theory is it?
RB:    No it’s based on the Law of Social Cycles. I use that law to make political and societal forecasts but it also helps in understanding the economy.
KH:    And the Law of Social Cycles is what?
RB:    The Law of Social Cycles says that in every society there are 3 possible sources of political power. One is military might – when people become militarily strong they can come to power with the help of physical force. Another source of power is human intellect. People who are intelligent – they become quite strong. They join the ranks of the elite. The third source of political power we all know is money. With the help of money people also become powerful. The Law of Social Cycles says that every society was first ruled by a class of warriors. The military rules first in every society. This is how civilization started. After the rule of warriors came the rule of intellectuals in the form of the priesthood. Lately it has been in the form of prime ministers, advocates, chancellors and so on. After the priesthood or intellectuals ruled for a few hundred years, then came the rule of money in society, the rule of acquisitors. Moneyed people have an acquisitive intellect and that’s where we are passing through now. But every rule of acquisitors created so much wealth concentration towards its end that in the end people became very poor and they simply overthrew the rule of money in the form of a social revolution and that’s why I was able to predict with the help of the Law. And I wrote the book in 1978 that I expected a social revolution to occur but the precondition would be a huge jump in the concentration of wealth which also has occurred already. And so the precondition has been satisfied and poverty is also rising, so I think the social revolution is bound to come. My latest forecast is by 2016, crony capitalism will be gone.
KH:    We will get back to that in a moment. I’m just interested to know how the Iran-Iraq war fits into your Law of Social Cycles.
RB:    Okay. In a book about Iran I predicted that the priesthood would take over Iran around 1980 after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran. Once the priesthood took over I wrote that the priests always want to stamp their ideology. Iraq is Sunni whereas Iran is Shia, so I predicted that right away there would be a fight between these two states because of their religious differences and that fight would last for about 7 maybe 8 years. That is how the Iran-Iraq war fits into this Law of Social Cycles. I foresaw that the priesthood was going to take over because when I looked Iran, I found that only the priests were offering leadership so I just surmised that according to the Law of Social Cycles priests also come to power at a certain point and that’s how the Iran-Iraq war became relevant.
KH:    And what about the US war in Iraq? How does that fit into the Law of Social Cycles?
RB:    In the same book that I wrote on the Muslim civilization, I predicted that the Western world would come into a very strong conflict with fundamental Islam. I wrote that it would happen around the year 2000 and once there was a conflict between the West and fundamental Islam that it would keep on going and in fact even after this Iraq war is finished this conflict is not going to stop – it will keep on going for this entire decade in fact.
KH:    And that is explained by the Law of Social Cycles in what way?
RB:    I have updated this Law in my latest book The New Golden Age. So the book has in it economics and politics and we like to say that our subject is in political economy because politics has a tremendous amount of influence on the economy.
KH:    I understand that the economy cannot be cordoned off from all other things but it is fair to say that you have received some criticism for going way beyond the usual margins of economists. Yes?
RB:    Well yes. There was not just criticism, I …
KH:    There was derision.
RB:    Yes I was ostracized for years and years. People used to say this man has a lot of talent but he doesn’t know how to use his talent. He’s talking about communism would be gone, capitalism would be gone. He’s a madman. That’s what they used to say. But I had tested this Law in terms of four different civilizations and I found that it always was valid. It described the evolution of society amazingly well. In all civilizations it was valid and the Law has been upheld by 5000 years of human history. I said that if something like that goes for 5000 years, that law is not going to be stopped right now.
KH:    And who first drew up or discovered the Law of Social Cycles?
RB:    That was my late teacher P. R. Sarkar. He was my teacher in India. I studied yoga by the way with him, yoga and philosophy but he also had knowledge of so many different areas including economics and history. So the Law of Social Cycles was pioneered by my teacher P. R. Sarkar.
KH:    And he was the leader of the Ananda Marga movement?
RB:    That’s right. He was the leader of the Ananda Marga movement. But my concern was mostly with him. I find the teachings he offered were great and the Ananda Marga teachings are of very great interest to me.
KH:    Fair to say too then that Ananda Marga does not have huge credibility in some quarters?
RB:    Well who has credibility when you are pioneering something new? Such people never had credibility in the beginning but later on their philosophies are accepted and even eulogized. That’s a feature of history that anything new is opposed by the existing ideas. So new ideas have to fight the existing ideas and then they become popular.

Supply and Demand

KH:    Is it possible that you failed to predict some things or predicted some things that did not happen but we are only hearing about the things that you predicted that did happen?
RB:    Oh yes I did fail to predict …in fact I mentioned in the article that I wrote about this Occupy Wall St movement, I mentioned that about 5 to 7% of my economic forecasts have been wrong. But the political forecasts about the society have never been wrong, at least not to my knowledge. Some of the economic forecasts I made in the 1980s, they turned out to be wrong but lately the forecasts that I made from 2005 not a single one has been wrong.
KH:    Would you regard as wrong the prediction that there would be a great depression in 1990 which …
RB:    That’s right that prediction turned out to be wrong in terms of its timing, but the theory that I had mentioned that depressions are caused by extreme wealth concentration, that theory is not wrong. Right now the heavy wealth concentration around the world that the world just cannot come out of is very very serious.
KH:    So the theory is when the disparity between rich and poor becomes large enough, the economy will collapse.
RB:    That’s right
KH:    Why?
RB:    Well it’s very simple. You just have to look at supply and demand that’s all. Now the reason why wealth disparity occurs is that productivity rises but wages don’t. That’s why the fruit of increased productivity increasingly goes to the wealthy and that’s the reason for wealth disparity. Now let’s look at what happens in an economy when productivity goes up but wages don’t? I like to say that productivity is the main source of supply, whereas wages are the main source of demand. So if productivity goes up, supply rises, then wages have to rise in the same proportion so that demand also rises and keeps up with supply. To maintain this balance in the economy, supply has to be equal to demand and when supply is greater than demand all the extra goods that have been produced cannot be sold. So some goods remain unsold, this means profits fall and businesses have to lay off some workers.
KH:    Are you looking at a country in isolation because we live in a global economy now so if one economy cannot afford to buy goods they produce then they’re shipped off to someone else who can. Right?
RB:    Well the trouble now is that all over the world, productivity is rising but wages are not. It’s a global problem, so that’s why you will find that the only cause of unemployment in any part of the world is that wages are not keeping up with productivity. It has been going on for many many years but the problem has shown up now because now the gap between productivity and wages is so large that demand simply cannot rise to the level of supply. And this problem is all over the world. Look at China. Their productivity has risen the fastest but wages has not risen much at all, so what they do? They ship products abroad and create unemployment for other countries. So the only cause of unemployment in any part of the world is that wages lag behind productivity. Now when that happens there is increased wealth concentration. So in the end you can say increased wealth concentration is associated with rising unemployment and recessions.
KH:    So when you say that when disparity between rich and poor becomes large enough and the economy collapses, you are not talking necessarily about social revolution, you are talking about a purely economic response.
RB:    That’s right. That’s purely an economic theory. The forecast of a social revolution comes from the Law of Social Cycles.
KH:    And do they both coincide? In other words if you have a Law of Social Cycles and something going on economically is it possible to separate them?
RB:    Well at the end of the age of acquisitors, there is always a social revolution and the reason is incredible jump in wealth disparity, and that’s why when I wrote this book in 1978, I mentioned very clearly that first there would have to be a big rise in wealth disparity which would then cause a tremendous recession or even a depression. If a recession keeps on going for 3-4 years in history it is known as a depression. And when
poverty keeps rising for a very long time people eventually revolt and they overthrow the rule of money in society in a social revolution. So the forecast about the social revolution comes from the Law of Social Cycles.
KH:    And do you see the Occupy Wall St movement as part of the revolt that you say will succeed by 2016?
RB:    That’s right. Finally people are waking up. They find that they are the vast majority, they are the 99% and they don’t need to take it any more. They don’t need to be dominated by just the 1% because the 99% have the right to vote. That’s what is happening now not just in the US but all over the world. I think this movement has found sympathizers in most countries.
KH:    Many people have said that the movement doesn’t know what it wants. It knows what it doesn’t want but it doesn’t know what it wants. You handily enough have apparently drawn up a manifesto for the movement and you’ve got 9 points which if people put in place, would sort things out and generally protectionism seems to be a theme that runs through your recipe. Would that be true?
RB:    No not protectionism. There are two types of free trade. One is free trade with balanced trade, i.e. we import as much as we export. That’s the balanced free trade. And then there is the kind of free trade where you have deficit ridden free trade. I don’t advocate that. I don’t think any country can do well by constantly running a trade deficit and having its manufacturing base completely destroyed. So it’s not protectionism but balanced free trade that I believe in.
KH:    So people can only import as much as they export.
RB:    That’s right. They should only import as much as they export. In fact if the entire world was following free trade then no country should really have a trade deficit. Some countries are indeed following free trade but some are not. Like China is not following this policy because they have an exchange rate manipulation, and the manipulation of the exchange rate is necessary for them because they also have this problem of excess production – not enough demand but too much supply. So they keep their exchange rate   low so that the surplus production is shipped abroad. In the end every problem is attributed to the rising gap between wages and productivity and hence the rising concentration of wealth.

PROUT

KH:    There’s a system called PROUT that you have written about originally developed by the gentleman that you mentioned earlier and it’s an acronym for Progressive Utilization Theory with a new form of government policy that will be needed you suggest. What does that consist of?
RB:     The Proutist system is based on what we call economic democracy. Now in economic democracy the majority of shares in very large companies like IBM, Toyota, Mercedes Benz and so would be held by the employees themselves. They own at least 51% of the shares and when that happens then this majority will elect a board of directors and the board of directors will appoint a CEO. But in such a system whenever productivity rises, wages will automatically go up in proportion to productivity because if the CEO does not give them higher pay he will be thrown out. So what we need is an economic system in which wages go up in proportion to productivity. This system is not only fair but it is also a stable system. It would not allow any depression or any kind of recession in the economy and we will not need any government help ever to fight recessions. Whenever wages rises, productivity demand increases supply. There are never any layoffs.
KH:    So that is the basis of the Progressive Utilisation Theory. It sounds quite simple really.
RB:    It is quite simple. PROUT is also very interested in maintaining the quality of the environment and also maintaining a minimum level of living standards for every able bodied worker. There are some other things but the main basis of economic policy is economic democracy.
KH:    PROUT has been described as the alternative to both capitalism and Marxism but isn’t it capitalism really?
RB:    It is capitalism. I like to call it mass capitalism because when employees own the majority shares of large companies and private property on a massive scale it is mass capitalism.

Revolution

KH:    I said it sounded quite simple. I guess the tricky part might be persuading the large companies to allow their employees to own 51% of their shares.
RB:    Well that’s where this Occupy Wall St movement comes in. 99% of the people will eventually persuade them that they have to give up control of the economy and society.
KH:    They will?
RB:    Oh yes otherwise there’s no revolution. Revolution means economic democracy.
KH:    And you have no doubt that this will happen
RB:    Yes I have no doubt that this will happen.
KH:    What gives you such confidence?
RB:    The confidence I have is based on the Law of Social Cycles. It is likely to happen by 2016. That’s my best estimate. It may happen a little later maybe 2017 or 2018 but it’s going to happen because the public is not going to face prolonged unemployment and we will not be able to come out of this very very serious recession until there is economic democracy.
KH:    Will we know when it’s happening?
RB:    Yes we will know that I think in 2013 or 2014 for sure.
KH:    How will we know? What will the signs be because as the world grinds on it’s very hard to pinpoint things that mean this or that. It’s a slow accumulation of historical things. What will be the point at which we will ring you up and say what’s happening and you’ll say “well this is it. This is the social revolution that I predicted.”
RB:    Well next year the economy will be just as bad as it was in 2008. It’s going to be very bad next year and when that happens the Occupy Wall St movement will spread like wild fire and if you see it spreading like that for sure the revolution is coming.
KH:    And will it be a bloodless revolution?
RB:    Yes more or less bloodless just like you saw it happening in Egypt. I would say the Egyptian revolution was somewhat bloody but less bloodshed than that in the western world.
KH:    Did you see the Arab Spring coming by the way?
RB:    Yes that’s written in my book The New Golden Age. These are the words. I chose my words very carefully. It’s in chapter 10 of that book. It said that “A regional war in the Arab world is more than likely and countries could be fighting with each other and or there will be internal fights and revolutions.”
KH:    It’s fair to say that you covered a few bases there didn’t you. You could say either they’re fighting here or they’re fighting amongst each other
RB:    And or. First this is what that forecast implies. They are fighting each other first and after the United States completely pulls out of Iraq I think there is going to be a big fight between Shias on the one side and the Sunni forces on the other. And that means countries fighting in the Arab world.
KH:    The European debt crisis, is that part of the Law of Social Cycles?
RB:    Yes that’s part of the Law of Social Cycles because the current economic policy is totally bankrupt. You cannot bring the economy out of this great recession just by spending money. Wages have to rise to the level of productivity otherwise there is no increase in consumer demand. And so long as consumer demand remains constant, Government money is only a band aid and in the end even that band aid has to be abandoned as the experience of Greece, Italy, Ireland etc shows.
KH:    You criticized the bailout that President Obama implemented. What was the alternative?
RB:    The alternative was that they should have bailed out the public, the consumer, not the banks or investment corporations and other financial institutions. That was just surely a waste of money. In fact I predicted that once these companies were bailed out, oil prices will zoom again. The first bail out occurred in 2008. At that time oil was around $US32 a barrel and I wrote that that would go back sharply again after the bailout because all this money that the government gives them, will go into oil speculation. These companies don’t need any money. They have plenty of money. It was corruption that reflected itself in the form of the bailout.
KH:    Dr Batra how do your colleagues regard you in Dallas?
RB:    They’re very skeptical. Now they are not. Now they are surprised. But they have been not just skeptical, I’ve been ostracized by my profession for the past 30 years
KH:    Including the University where you work at?
RB:    Oh yes, all over the world. In fact I used to publish articles in very good journals in the 1970s but once I started to make these forecasts, they wouldn’t even publish my economic articles. The ones I wrote about wage productivity gap. This is a sound theory that when wages don’t rise as fast as productivity you’re going to have layoffs. They would even publish this kind of article and so I had to put the ideas in books. But slowly the word is getting out, what the wage productivity gap is like and what it creates. It creates a lot of debt. It creates a trade surplus for China and then unemployment for all the other countries. So it explains every economic situation you find today in the world.
KH:     I suppose notions of cyclical regularity and infallible laws of nature applying to humankind and its business have always been open to skepticism.
RB:    That’s right. Those Laws have been very open to skepticism because people don’t like to think that some powerful law of nature is controlling their destiny. But this is misinterpretation of such laws because all these laws say is that nature sets the boundaries in which we operate. We cannot violate these laws. Laws of nature are supreme in the end. Nature sets that boundaries in which we operate, but within those boundaries we are free to make our decisions.
KH:    What has nature got to say about wages?
RB:    That has nothing to do with nature. That has something to do with the human nature where the person who has a lot of money becomes even greedier and that’s why when producers have a lot of money they become greedier and greedier. They acquire more and more wealth and then they buy up the politicians, have them pass laws so that wages don’t rise as fast as productivity. That has nothing to do with nature, but nature tells us the consequences of what will follow when this is not corrected. Nature tells us there will be a social revolution then if these things are not corrected.

Economic Democracy

KH:    Has there ever been this situation before?
RB:    Yes many times.
KH:    What was the last time?
RB:    The last time the rule of money prevailed in the West was under feudalism. At that time wealth was ownership of land. Landlords used to buy up people by granting parcels of land and this was how they controlled society. And feudalism was overthrown in social revolution all over Europe. At that time Australia was not in its present form nor was New Zealand, but Europe was where Western society was predominant and feudalism was overthrown in a series of social revolutions in England, France, Germany and elsewhere. So this thing has happened in Western society before.
KH:    Given that this Progressive Utilization Theory has been around since that last 1950s when P. R. Sarkar began to propound it, why is it that you have been such a lone and ostracized voice on it?
RB:     Well anything as profound as economic democracy – we are not talking about just any change. We’re talking about a profound change in society. Simply eliminating the rule of money, we’re talking about a revolution. Revolutions don’t occur overnight. They normally have at least a 20 year cycle so that’s why it’s taking so long. But at least according to my calculations the time is very near.
KH:    I guess people can attach themselves to pessimism. It’s optimism that people find difficult and you have written that soon after the stock market crash a democratic revolution at the ballot box will catapult the United States into a golden age that will eclipse the reign of wealth, establish a truly free enterprise economy and bring now discarded spiritual values back into fashion. Then will dawn a brilliant day across the world beginning a thousand years of righteousness, compassion and innate goodness on earth. At this point I imagine your economist colleagues might be thinking you’ve lost your marbles.
RB:      This is not the first time. They’ve been thinking it for the past 30 years. The reason I feel we are going to have a global golden age for the first time in human history is that every new system has been better than the one it’s replaced. Capitalism is better than its predecessor feudalism. Feudalism was better than the rule of the church in society. So every new system has been better. And the reason is that human evolution happens alongside social revolution. So economic democracy will be a totally new system and it will be much better than the current system of crony and monopoly capitalism and therefore it will usher in an era that has been totally unprecedented.
KH:    What’s your definition incidentally of crony capitalism?
RB:    Crony capitalism occurs when very rich CEOs buy up politicians with the help of their money and have them pass laws in the name of free enterprise to further the interests of wealthy corporations. In the United States there are so many companies that earn billions of dollars a year but pay zero taxes and then they complain the corporate taxes are very high. This is crony capitalism.

Looking Forward

KH:    What would you say to people like Thomas Friedman to whom I spoke a couple of weeks ago who would accuse you of possibly not losing your marbles but trying to turn the clock back?
RB:     I’m trying to turn the clock forward.
KH:    Well Thomas Friedman would say that free trade is the only way to go. You cannot shackle free trade.
RB:     Why not? Well first of all I’m not in favor of deficit ridden free trade. Balanced free trade is fine. There was time I wrote a long time ago when I showed – in fact I predicted that the United States would lose its manufacturing base completely because of free trade and that would destroy its middle class. At that time I used to say yes let’s have tariffs back, but not any more because now, as you said yourself, we cannot really turn the clock back, but we can follow policies so that we have a balanced free trade, not deficit ridden free trade. That’s not protectionism in my view.
KH:    Okay. I accused you earlier of advocating protectionism and you said no, no, no. But you have in the past, you just changed your mind.
RB:    Yes in 1993 I wrote a book – and that was what, almost 20 years ago – and I predicted at that time that the middle class would be destroyed in the United States because of the insistence of free trade and because of NAFTA especially but now things are so different, so intertwined all over the world that now balanced free trade is essential.
KH:    At the moment when ghastly things are happening in Europe and the United States and elsewhere, what we get are reports that well stock markets have fallen and everybody says oh dear and then the stock market has rallied and every body goes oh well that’s all right then. You’re saying that’s all nonsense and in fact part of the problem.
RB:     Oh that’s a big part of the problem because one big reason for the stock market rallying is a huge jump in the price of oil. It’s good for the stocks of energy companies but the high price of oil creates havoc for our global economy.
KH:    Have you actually been and talked to Occupy Wall St people?
RB:    I have not been there yet but I have heard of a lot of people in that movement and I’ve had a lot of emails especially about the 9 point list of exploitation that I mentioned in that article that came out in Truthout.org. If you Google my name – Ravi Batra and at the same time Occupy Wall St, you will get to that article. That 9 point list of demands, if accepted would bring us out of the recession and this depression. I’ve heard from quite a few people about that list and they like it very much.
KH:    Some of our listeners want you to be president of the world.
RB:    No, I’m here just to offer advice. I’m not after any office or politics.
KH:    That’s what they all say but come the revolution! Somebody wants me to ask you this question. In the interests of preserving declining resources, is it possible to reduce production back to the level of wages to achieve a supply and demand balance, rather than forever trying to increase production and having to raise the wages to match?
RB:    No we should be constantly increasing production and productivity, because that’s the only way to end poverty around the world. But PROUT has also certain policies which would ensure there’s no degradation of the environment. In fact I’m going to write a book one day to show how we can change our tax laws in such a way that there will be no destruction of the environment whatsoever. We need to increase production and productivity so that we end poverty all over the world.
KH:    But there are people who say we cannot continue to increase productivity. There has to be an end to it.
RB:    No that will never happen because human brain is constantly evolving. A time will come when productivity will be extremely high – much higher than we have right now and at that time people will have more time to relax. That in fact is a feature of the coming golden age.
KH:    Some say that this cycle theory does not account for the depression of the mid 1890s. What do you say?
RB:    I don’t see any relevance between the cycle changing and that depression of the 1890s. That was an example of when wealth concentration increases there are recessions and depressions. The 1890s in the United States was known as the gilded age. It is a fact that high wealth concentration destroys an economy.
KH:    So should we all be worried about the revolution because revolutions always whether they are bloodless or not, cause chaos and there will be a lot of innocent people who will suffer, will there not?
RB:    Yes unfortunately. My whole purpose in writing my books in the past was to warn the public to do something about this political corruption and the rising wealth concentration so that we don’t get into the kind of situation we are in right now. That’s why I took all these risks. My whole career was destroyed because of all these writings but I did not want people to see, have to face this poverty. The good part is that now we are in this situation, at least crony capitalism will be overthrown forever.
KH:    Just going back to your teacher P. R Sarkar and his leadership of the Ananda Marga movement, Ananda Marga has had their brushes with anarchism. You’re not suggesting that anarchism might be a way to go?
RB:    Personally I don’t know of any anarchism caused by Ananda Marga, in fact I am part of the movement and I tell you I am a vegetarian.

Persecution

KH:    Can you be a vegetarian anarchist?
RB:    I don’t eat meat. I don’t believe in violence at all. But their might have been some people who got angry and they may have committed certain acts. I have no idea.
KH:    You’re talking about what happened in the 1970s presumably are you?
RB:    Well all I know is that Ananda Marga was constantly hounded by the Congress Government in India. They in fact sent my teacher to jail on baseless charges of murder. Then he was totally acquitted. The Government didn’t accept this and appealed to the High Court. The High Court said you have no case at all, release him right away. In fact throughout the past 30 – 40 years Margiis were convicted by lower courts and always released by higher courts. So I don’t understand how they could have been anarchists.
KH:    So it was all a set up because …
RB:    That’s the way of history. Whenever someone offers a new progressive idea, the status quo people go after them but in the end the new ideas prevail. This is nothing new. It is just history repeating itself. Unfortunately Ananda Margiis are the victims of that reputation.
KH:    We only have a very short time left. What’s the next thing that’s going to happen that we can read as part of the coming revolution?
RB:    As I said next year is going to be very bad in terms of the economy. Then just watch how fast this movement spreads. When it is moving so fast then you will know that the revolution is almost here.
KH:    All right. Well we will get back to you on the revolution.
RB:    All right.
KH:    It’s nice to talk to you. Dr Ravi Batra is the Professor of Economics at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Rarely has anyone predicted such bad events with such jollity.

Sarkar’s Theory of Social Change: Structure and Transcendence

By Sohail Inayatullah, PhD

Personal History

Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar was born in May of 1921 in Bihar of an old and respected family that had its roots in regional leadership and in ancient spiritual traditions. Sarkar’s early life was dominated by fantastic events, spiritual miracles and brushes with death. He was nearly killed in his early years by a religious sect who believed that Sarkar was destined to destroy their religion (as astrologers had predicted about Sarkar). Surviving this event and many other similar ones, by the 1950’s he had become a spiritualist with many followers. In 1955, he founded the socio-spiritual organization Ananda Marga. Soon after, he articulated a new political-economic theory and social movement called the Progressive Utilization Theory or PROUT.

Ananda Marga and PROUT grew quickly in the 1960’s and managed to attract opposition from numerous Hindu groups, they believing Sarkar to be an iconoclast because of his opposition to caste (jhat) and his criticism of orthodox schools of Indian philosophy. By the late 1960’s his followers were in key positions in the Indian civil service. The government argued that it was a politically subversive revolutionary organization and banned civil servants from joining it. Ananda Marga asserted that it was being harassed because of its opposition to governmental corruption.

In 1971, Sarkar was accused of murdering his disciples and jailed. Before Sarkar’s eyes his movement was decimated and publically labelled as a terrorist organization. In 1975 with the onset of the Indian Emergency his organizations were banned and his trial conducted in an atmosphere where defense witnesses were jailed if they spoke for Sarkar. Notwithstanding reports by the International Commission of Jurists and other associations of the partial judicial conditions making it impossible for Sarkar to receive a fair trial, Sarkar was convicted.1 When the Gandhi government was removed, his case was appealed and reversed. During those difficult years, Sarkar fasted in protest of the trial and the numerous tortures committed by the police and intelligence agencies on his workers and himself. By the 1980’s his movement grew again expanding to nearly 120 nations.

Until his death on October 21, 1990 Sarkar remained active in Calcutta composing nearly 5000 songs called Prabhat Samgiit (songs of the new dawn), giving spiritual talks, giving discourses on languages, managing his organizations, and teaching meditation to his numerous disciples, especially his senior monks and nuns, avadhutas and avadhutikas. His most recent project was Ananda Nagar or the City of Bliss and other alternative communities throughout the world. These communities have been designed with PROUT principles in mind: ecologically conscious, spiritually aware, socially progressive and embedded in the culture of the area.

The Personal and Social

Sarkar places the rise, fall and rise of his movement in the same language that he uses to explain aspects of history. For him, whenever truth is stated in spiritual or material areas of life, there is resistance. This resistance eventually is destroyed by the very forces it uses to destroy truth. “Remember, by an unalterable decree of history, the evil forces are destined to meet their doomsday.”2

For Sarkar movements follow a dialectical path: thesis, antithesis and synthesis. A movement is born, it is suppressed and oppressed (if it truly challenges the distribution of meanings of power), and if it survives these challenges it will be victorious. The strength of the movement can be measured by its ability to withstand these challenges.

Sarkar’s own life and the life of his organizations follow this pattern, although at this point the success of the PROUT movement has yet to be determined. In our interpretation, it is this mythic language that is also perhaps the best way to understand his theory of history, for it is myth that gives meaning to reality, that makes understandable the moments and monuments of our daily lives and that gives a call to sacrifice the moment so as to create a better tomorrow.

Sarkar’s universe is the habitat of grand struggles between vidya and avidya: introversion and extroversion, contraction and expansion, compassion and passion. This duality is an eternal part of the very metaphysic of the physical and social universe. Unlike the Western model where social history can end with the perfect marketplace or the conflict-free communist state, for the Indian, for Sarkar, social history will always continue. Only for the individual through spiritual enlightenment can time cease and the “mind” itself (and thus duality) be transcended.

Sarkar’s Larger Civilizational Project

Sarkar’s intent was and is (his organizations continue his work) to create a global spiritual socialist revolution, a renaissance in thought, language, music, art, and culture. His goal is to infuse individuals with a spiritual presence, the necessary first step in changing the way that we know and order our world. Unlike the socialists of the past who merely sought to capture state power–forgetting that the economy was global and thus in the long run strengthening the world capitalist system–or the utopian idealists who merely wished for perfect places that could not practically exist or spiritualists who only sought individual transformation at the expense of structural change, Sarkar has a far more comprehensive view of transformation of which his social cycle provides the key structure.

His theoretical offerings include a range of new approaches to understanding social reality. His theory of neo-humanism aims to relocate the self from ego (and the pursuit of individual maximization), from family (and the pride of genealogy), from geo-sentiments (attachments to land and nation), from socio-sentiments (attachments to class, race and community) from humanism (man as the center of the universe) to neo-humanism (love and devotion for all, inanimate and animate, beings of the universe). Paramount here is the construction of self in an ecology of reverence for life, not a modern/secular politics of cynicism. Spiritual devotion to the universe is ultimately the greatest treasure that humans have; it is this treasure that must be excavated and shared by all living beings.

Only from this basis can a new universalism emerge which can challenge the national, religious, class sentiments of history. The first step, then, is liberating the intellect from its own boundaries and placing it in an alternative discourse. Sarkar then seeks to make accessible an alternative way of knowing the world that includes yet steps beyond traditional knowledge points; reason, sense-inference, authority, and intuition.

The central framework for his neo-humanistic perspective is his Progressive Utilization Theory. PROUT encompasses Sarkar’s theory of history and change, his theory of leadership and the vanguard of the new world he envisions, as well as his alternative political economy.

Theory of History

His theory of history constructs four classes: workers, warriors, intellectuals, and accumulators of capital. Each class can be perceived not merely as a power configuration, but as a way of knowing the world, as a paradigm, episteme or deep structure, if you will. In Sarkar’s language this is collective psychology or varna (here, dramatically reinterpreting caste). At the individuals level there is varna mobility, one can change the influence of history and social environment! At the macro level, each varna comes into power bringing in positive necessary changes, but over time exploits and then dialectically creates the conditions for the next varna. This cycle continues through history and for Sarkar is indeed an iron law of history, true irrespective of space/time and observer conditions. It is a law because it has developed historically through evolution and because the cycle represents a universal social structure. For Sarkar, there have been four historical ways humans have dealt with their physical and social environment: either by being dominated by it, by dominating it through the body, dominating it through the mind, or dominating it through the environment itself.

While the parallel to caste is there (shudra, ksattriya, brahmin and vaeshya), Sarkar redefines them locating the four as broader social categories that have historically evolved through interaction with the environment. Moreover, varna for individuals is fluid, one can change one’s varna through education, for example. Caste, on the other hand, developed with the conquest of the local Indians by the Aryans and was later reinscribed by the Vedic priestly classes.3

Sarkar believes that while the social cycle must always move through these four classes, it is possible to accelerate the stages of history and remove the periods of exploitation. Thus Sarkar would place the sadvipra, the compassionate servant leader, at the center of the cycle, at the center of society (not necessarily at the center of government). In his life, Sarkar’s efforts were to create this type of leadership instead of building large bureaucratic organizations. He sought to create a new type of leadership that was humble and could serve, that was courageous and could protect, that was insightful and could learn and teach, and that was innovative and could use wealth–in a word, the sadvipra.

These leaders would, in effect, attempt to create a permanent revolution of sorts, creating a workers’ revolution when the capitalists begin to move from innovation to commodification, a warriors’ revolution when the workers’ era moves from societal transformation to political anarchy, an intellectual revolution when the warrior era expands too far–becomes overly centralized and stagnates culturally–and an economic revolution when the intellectuals use their normative power to create a universe where knowledge is only available to the select few, favoring non-material production at the expense of material production. Through the intervention of the sadvipra, Sarkar’s social cycle becomes a spiral: the cycles of the stages remains but one era is transformed into its antithesis when exploitation increases. This leads to the new synthesis and the possibility of social progress within the structural confines of the four basic classes. Sarkar’s theory allows for a future that while patterned can still dramatically change. For Sarkar, there are long periods of rest and then periods of dramatic social and biological revolution. Future events such as the coming polar shift, the possible ice age, increased spiritual developments in humans due to various spiritual practices, and the social-economic revolution he envisions may create the possibility for a jump in human consciousness.4

Sarkar’s theoretical framework is not only spiritual or only concerned with the material world, rather his perspective argues that the real is physical, mental and spiritual. Concomitantly, the motives for historical change are struggle with the environment (the move from the worker era to the warrior era), struggle with ideas (the move from the warrior to the intellectual), struggle with the environment and ideas (the move from the intellectual era to the capitalist eras) and the spiritual attraction of the Great, the call of the infinite. Thus physical, mental and spiritual challenges create change.

Table: Sarkar’s Stages

The key to Sarkar’s theory of history, thus, is that there are four structures and four epochs in history. Each epoch exhibits a certain mentality, a varna. This varna is similar to the concept of episteme, to paradigm, to ideal type, to class, to stage, to era and a host of other words that have been used to describe stage theory. Sarkar, himself, alternatively uses varna and collective psychology to describe his basic concept. Collective psychology reflects group desire, social desire. There are four basic desire systems. The four varnas are historically developed. First the shudra, then the ksattriya, then the vipra, then the vaeshya. The last era is followed either by a revolution by the shudras or an evolution into the shudra era.

The order is cyclical, but there are reversals. A counter evolutionary movement or a more dramatic counter revolution which may throw an era backwards, such as a military ksattriyan leaders wresting power from a vipran-led government. Both are short-lived in terms of the natural cycle since both move counter to the natural developmental flow. But in the long run, the order must be followed.

Significantly–and this is important in terms of developing an exemplary theory of macrohistory–Sarkar does not resort to external variables to explain the transition into the next era. It is not new technologies that create a new wealthy elite that can control the vipras, rather it is a fault within the viprans themselves. Moreover, it is not that they did not meet a new challenge, or respond appropriately, as Toynbee would argue. Rather, Sarkar’s reasoning is closer to Ibn Khaldun’s and other classical philosophers. They create a privileged ideological world or conquer a material world, use this expansion to take care of their needs, but when changes come, they are unprepared for they themselves have degenerated. While changes are often technological (new inventions and discoveries of new resources) it is not the significant variable, rather it is the mindset of the vipran, individually and as a class, that leads to their downfall.

Alternative Political Economy

Embedded in his social theory is Sarkar’s alternative political economy. In this project he designs his ideal theory of value. For Sarkar there are physical, intellectual and spiritual resources. Most economic theory privileges the material forgetting the intellectual and especially the infinite spiritual resources available to us. Secondly, his theory uses as its axial principle the notion of social justice, the notion of actions not for selfish pleasure but for the social good.

Society is perceived not as an aggregate of self-contained individuals nor as a mass collectivity designed for the commune, but rather as a family moving together on a journey through social time and space. Within the family model there is hierarchy and there is unity. Newly created wealth is used to give incentives to those who are actualizing their self, either through physical, intellectual or spiritual labor, and is used to maintain and increase basic needs–food, clothing, housing, education and medical care. Employment, while guaranteed, still requires effort, since central to Sarkar’s metaphysics is that struggle is the essence of life. It is challenge that propels humans, collectively and individually, towards new levels of physical wealth, intellectual understanding and spiritual realization. Sarkar speaks of incentives not in terms of cash, but in terms of resources that can lead to more wealth.

Finally, Sarkar would place limits on personal income and land holdings for the world physical resources are limited and the universe cannot be owned by any individual since it is nested in a higher consciousness, the Supreme Consciousness.

The Indian Episteme and the Indian Construction of History

Following the classic Indian episteme, reality has many levels; most ideologies only have accentuated the spiritual (Vedanta) or the material (liberalism), or the individual (capitalism) or the collective (communism), the community (Gandhism), or race (Hitlerism) or the nation (fascism). Sarkar seeks an alternative balance of self, community, ecology, and globe. Yet the spiritual is his base. In his view Consciousness from pure existence transforms to awareness then to succeeding material factors (the Big Bang onwards) until it becomes matter. From matter, there is dialectical evolution to humans. Humans, finally, can devolve back to the inanimate or evolve as co-creators with consciousness. For humans, there is structure and choice, nature and will. There is both creation and there is evolution. With this epistemic background, we should then not be surprised at his dual interests in the material and spiritual worlds and their dynamic balance.

Placing Sarkar in an alternative construction of the real is central to understanding his social theory. Every macrohistorian and thinker who creates a new discourse evokes the universal and the transcendental, but their grand efforts also spring from the dust and the mud of the mundane. They are born in particular places and they die in locatable sites as well. Sarkar writes from India, writes from the poverty that is Calcutta. The centrality of the cycle then can partially be understood by its physical location. The cycle promises a better future ahead; it promises that the powerful will be made weak and the weak powerful, the rich will be humbled and the poor enabled. The cycle also comes directly from the classic Indian episteme. In this ordering of knowledge, the real has many levels and is thus pluralistic; the inner mental world is isomorphic with the external material world, there are numerous ways of knowing the real, and time is grand. According to Romila Thapar, “Hindu thinkers had evolved a cyclic theory of time. The cycle was called the kalpa and was equivalent to 4320 million earthly years. The kalpa is divided into 14 periods and at the end of each of these the universe is recreated and once again Manu (primeval man) gives birth to the human race.”5

In this classical model (ascribed to the Gita) the universe is created, it degenerates, and then is recreated. The pattern is eternal. This pattern has clear phases; the golden era of Krta or Satya, the silver era of Treta, the copper era of Dvapara and the iron age of Kali. At the end of Kali, however, the great redeemer whether Vishnu or Shiva or Krishna, is reborn, the universe is realigned, dharma or truth is restored, and the cycle begins again.

Now is there a way out? An escape from the cycle? Classically it has been through an alchemical ontological transformation of the self: the self realizing its real nature and thus achieving timelessness–the archetype of the yogi. Concretely, in social reality this has meant the transformation of a person engrossed in fear to a mental state where nothing is feared, neither king nor priest; all are embraced, lust and greed are transcended and individual inner peace is achieved. To this archetype, Sarkar has added a collective level asserting that individual liberation must exist in parallel and in the context of social liberation. Spirituality is impossible in the context of the social body suffering in pain. For him the world has a 6 defective social order…. this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. This structure of inequality and injustice must be destroyed and powdered down for the collective interest of the human beings. Then and then alone, humans may be able to lead the society on the past of virtue. Without that only a handful of persons can possibly attain the Supreme Perfection.

But Sarkar too uses the redeemer concept to provide the way out of cyclical history. This is his taraka brahma. The first was Shiva who transformed the chaos of primitive life to the orderliness of humanity. Next was Krishna who restored the notion of national community. And, for Sarkar, another redeemer is needed to transform the fragmented nation-states into a world community. However, paradoxically the concept of the redeemer for Sarkar is also metaphorical: it is meant to elicit devotion by making the impersonal nature of Consciousness touchable in the form of a personal guru.

Sarkar thus develops ways out of the cycle: individual and social. In contrast Orientalist interpreters like Mircea Eliade believe that the theory of eternal cycles is “invigorating and consoling for man under the terror of history,”7 as now man knows under which eras he must suffer and he knows that the only escape is spiritual salvation. Sarkar finds this view repugnant, for people suffer differently and differentially in each era, those at the center of power do better than those at the outskirts, laborers always do poorly. Indeed throughout history different classes do better than other classes, but the elite manage quite well.8

Oftentimes, some people have lagged behind, exhausted and collapsed on the ground, their hands and knees bruised and their clothes stained with mud. Such people have been thrown aside with hatred and have become the outcastes of society. They have been forced to remain isolated from the mainstream of social life. This is the kind of treatment they have received. Few have cared enough to lift up those who lagged behind, to help them forward.

Hope lies not in resignation to but transformation of the cycle–it is here that Sarkar moves away from the classic Hindu model of the real–of caste, fatalism, and mentalism–most likely influenced by fraternal Islamic concepts, liberal notions of individual will, and by Marxist notions of class struggle.

For Sarkar there are different types of time. There is cosmic time –the degeneration and regeneration of dharma; there is individual liberation from time through entrance into infinite time; and there is the social level of time wherein the times of exploitation are reduced through social transformation, thus creating a time of dynamic balance–a balance between the physical, social and spiritual.

This differs significantly from other views of Indian history. In the Idealistic view history is but the play or sport of Consciousness.9 In this view the individual has no agency and suffering is an illusion. In the dynastic view history is but the succeeding rise and falls of dynasties and kings and queens; it is only the grand that have agency. In contrast is Aurobindo’s10 interpretation, influenced by Hegel, in which instrumentality is assigned to historical world leaders and to nations. For Sarkar, making nationalism into a spiritual necessity is an unnecessary reading. God does not prefer any particular structure over another.

Following Aurobindo, Buddha Prakash has taken the classic Hindu stages of gold, silver, copper and iron and applied them concretely to modern history. India, for Prakash, with nation-hood and industrialism has now wakened to a golden age that “reveals the jazz and buzz of a new age of activity.”11 But for Sarkar, the present is not an age of awakening, but an age “where on the basis of various arguments a handful of parasites have gorged themselves on the blood of millions of people, while countless people have been reduced to living skeletons.”12

Sarkar also rejects the modern linear view of history in which history is divided into ancient (Hindu), medieval (Muslim), and modern (British-nationalistic). In this view, England is modern and India is backward. If only India can adopt rational, secular and capitalist or socialist perspectives and institutions, that is, modern policies, it too can join the western world. India then has to move from prehistorical society–people lost in spiritual fantasy and caste but without state–to modern society.13 Sarkar’s views are closer to Jawaharlal Nehru14 who thought that history is about how humanity overcame challenges and struggled against the elements and inequity. Sarkar’s views are also similar to the recent “Subaltern”15 project in which the aim is to write history from the view of the dominated classes, not the elite or the colonial. However, unlike the Subaltern project which eschews meta-narratives, Sarkar’s social cycle provides a new grand theory.

Sarkar’s Historiography

Sarkar’s stages can be used to contextualize Indian history.16 Just as there are four types of mentalities, structures or types, we can construct four types of history. There is the shudra history, the project of the Subaltern group. However, their history is not written by the workers themselves but clearly by intellectuals. There is then ksattriyan history; the history of kings and empires, of nations and conquests, of politics and economics. This is the history of the State, of great men and women. Most history is vipran history, for most history is written and told by intellectuals, whatever their claims for the groups they represent. Vipran history is also the philosophy of history: the development of typologies, of categories of thought, of the recital of genealogies, of the search for evidence, of the development of the field of history itself. This is the attempt to undo the intellectual constructions of others and create one’s own, of asking is there one construction or can there be many constructions? Finally, there is vaeshyan history. This is the history of wealth, of economic cycles, of the development of the world capitalist system, of the rise of Europe and the fall of India. Marxist history is unique in that it is written by intellectuals for workers but used by warriors to gain power over merchants. Sarkar attempts to write a history that includes all four types of power: people’s, military, intellectual and economic.

For Sarkar, most history is written to validate a particular mentality. Each varna writes a history to glorify its conquests, its philosophical realizations, or its technological breakthroughs, but rarely is history written around the common woman or man. For Sarkar, history should be written about how humans solved challenges. How prosperity was gained. “History… should maintain special records of the trials and tribulations which confronted human beings, how those trials and tribulations were overcome, how human beings tackled the numerous obstacles to effect great social development.”17 History then needs to aid in mobilizing people, personally and collectively toward internal exploration and external transformation. Thus history should be a “resplendent reflection of collective life whose study will be of immense inspiration for future generations.”18 History then is a political asset. Here Sarkar moves to a poststructural understanding of the true. Truth is interpretive, not rta (the facts) but satya (that truth which leads to human welfare). History then should not be placed solely within the empiricist view, but within an interpretive political perspective.

Sarkar’s own history is meant to show the challenges humans faced: the defeats and the victories. His history shows how humans were dominated by particular eras, how they struggled and developed new technologies, ideas, and how they realized the atman, the, the eternal self. It is an attempt to write a history that is true to the victims but does not oppress them again by providing no escape from history, no vision of the future. His history then is clearly ideological, not in the sense of supporting a particular class, but rather a history that gives weight to all classes yet attempts to move them outside of class, outside of ego and toward neo-humanism.

Conclusion

History then is the natural evolutionary flow of this cycle. At every point there are a range of choices; once made the choice becomes a habit, a structure of the collective or group mind. Each mentality, with an associated leadership class comes into power, makes changes, and administers government but eventually pursues its own class ends and exploits the other groups. This has continued throughout history. Sarkar’s unit of analysis begins with all of humanity, it is a history of humanity, but he often refers to countries and nations. The relationship to the previous era is a dialectical one; an era emerges out of the old era. History moves not because of external reasons, although the environment certainly is a factor, but because of internal organic reasons. Each era gains power–military, normative, economic or chaotic–and then accumulates power until the next group dislodges the previous elite. The metaphysic behind this movement is, for Sarkar, the wave motion. There is a rise and then a fall. In addition, this wave motion is pulsative, that is, the speed of change fluctuates over time. The driving force for this change is first the dialectical interaction with the environment, second the dialectical interaction in the mind and in ideologies, and third the dialectical interaction between both, ideas and the environment. But there is also another motivation: this is the attraction toward the Great. The individual attraction toward the Supreme. This is the ultimate desire that frees humans of all desires.

While clash, conflict and cohesion with the natural and social environment drives the cycle, it is the attraction to the Great, the infinite, that is the solution or the answer to the problem of history. It results in progress. For Sarkar, the cycle must continue, for it is a basic structure in mind, but exploitation is not a necessity. Through the sadvipra, exploitation can be minimized.

To conclude, Sarkar’s theory uses the metaphor of the human life cycle and the ancient wheel, that is, technology. There is the natural and there is human intervention. There is a structure and there is choice. It is Sarkar’s theory that provides this intervention; an intervention that for Sarkar will lead to humanity as a whole finally taking its first deep breath of fresh air.

Notes

1. See Vimala Schneider, The Politics of Prejudice. Denver, Ananda Marga Publications, 1983. Also see, Tim Anderson, Free Alister, Dunn and Anderson. Sidney, Wild and Wolley, 1985. And, Anandamitra Avadhutika, Tales of Torture. Hong Kong, Ananda Marga Publications, 1981.
2. Ananda Marga, Ananda Vaniis. Bangkok, Ananda Marga Publications, 1982.
3. For various interpretations of caste in Indian history and politics, see Nicholas Dirks, The Hollow Crown. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987; Rajni Kothari, Caste in Indian Politics. New Delhi, Orient Longman, 1970; Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1979; and, Romila Thapar, A History of India. Baltimore, Penguin Books, 1966.
4. See Richard Gauthier, “The Greenhouse Effect, Ice Ages and Evolution,” New Renaissance (Vol. 1, No. 3, 1990).
5. Romila Thapar, A History of India, 161.
6. P. R. Sarkar, Supreme Expression. Vol. II. Netherlands, Nirvikalpa Press, 1978, 16.
7. Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return. New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1971, 118.
8. P. R. Sarkar, The Liberation of Intellect–Neo Humanism. Calcutta, Ananda Marga Publications, 1983.
9. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, “History: An Idealist’s View.” K. Satchidananda Murti, ed. Readings. See K. Satchidananda Murti, “History: A Theist’s View.” K. Satchidananda Murti, ed. Readings.
10. Sri Aurobindo, “The Spirituality and Symmetric Character of Indian Culture,” and “The Triune Reality,” K. Satchidananda Murty, ed. Readings in Indian History, Philosophy and Politics. London. George Allen and Unwin, 1967, p. 361. Also see Vishwanath Prasad Varma. Studies in Hindu Political Thought and its Metaphysical Foundations. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1974.
11. See Buddha Prakash, “The Hindu Philosophy of History.” Journal of the History of Ideas (Vol. 16, No. 4, 1958).
12. Shrii Anandamurti, Namah Shivaya Shantaya. Calcutta, Ananda Marga Publications, 1982, 165.
13. See Ronald Inden, “Orientalist Constructions of India.” Modern Asian Studies (Vol. 20, No. 3, 1986). See also Edward Said, Orientalism. New York, Vintage Books, 1979. And, Ashis Nandy, Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias. New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1987.
14. Jawaharlal Nehru, “History: A Scientific Humanist’s View.” K. Satchidananda Murti, ed. Readings.
15. Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Selected Subaltern Studies. New York, Oxford University Press, 1988. See also D.D. Kosambit, “A Marxist Interpretation of Indian History.” K. Satchidananda Murty, ed. Readings, 40.
16. See also Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and Romila Thapar, eds. Situating Indian History. Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1986.
17. P. R. Sarkar. A Few Problems Solved. Vol. 4. trans. Acarya Vijayananda Avadhuta. Calcutta, Ananda Marga Publications, 1987, 64.
18. ibid, 66.

Copyright The author 2012

Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar’s Social Cycles, World Unity and Peace

Renaissance 2000 Honoring Sarkar’s 75th Anniversary

By Johan Galtung, dr hc mult, Professor of Peace Studies;
Universitaet Witten/Herdecke, European Peace University,
Universitetet i Tromsoe; Director, TRANSCEND: A Peace Network

We are honoring a great thinker and a great practitioner. I have chosen to honor him as a great macro-historian, focusing on his theory of social cycles and their implications for world unity and peace. In my view he certainly ranks up there with other macro-historians like Smith and Marx, Toynbee and Sorokin. But, given the ethnocentrism of the USA and Europe Sarkar will not easily make it into textbooks and courses civilization. For one thing, the West quotes itself on matters concerning the West; and Sarkar gets straight to the core of our history with a scheme so simple, unashamedly universal and so evidently inspired more by Indian society and history than by our own. He turns the world upside down: India is supposed to be captured, dissected and understood in our paradigms, he understands us in his. In Sarkar the West is no longer intellectually in command.

Sarkar’s theory of social cycles

Second, Sarkar draws very concrete implications from his macro-history and the philosophical underpinnings: PROUT, the ” progressive utilization theory”. This is the theory of an economic (and political) self-reliant system, spiritually rather than materialistically inspired, cooperative, based on local economies, cooperating like in Gandhi’s “oceanic circles”. In this system money is no longer in command, nor are economists. The goal is not “economic growth” and accumulation of wealth, but true human growth with basic needs satisfied, and unlimited spiritual growth topping that. That alone disqualifies Sarkar a utopian, a person to be marginalized. There is more to come.

The following is a simplified version highlighting the essential features for reflections on the implications for world unity and peace. I shall make use of the presentation given in Acharya Shambushivananda Avadutha’s excellent book PROUT: Neo- Humanistic Economics, and add some interpretations of my own. The point of departure is the Hindu caste system with brahmins, kshatriyahs, vaishyahs and shudras; in the PROUT tradition spelt somewhat differently. However, I shall use neither the traditional nor that special spelling, preferring Intellectuals (including priests, artists), Warriors, Merchants, People, lamenting that the Excluded, the pariah do not figure clearly in the cycle theory. Each one carries what Sarkar calls a “mental color”, very similar to the mentalite of the French Annales school. A basic axiom is that, at any time, “In the flow of the social cycle one mental color is always dominant”.

Before that point is explored further let us pause for a second and ask: is this not a very Hindu perspective? Caste, yes, but not this division into three types of elites and then the people. Elites have a power problem: how do we steer people? There are generally three answers: by normative, contractual and coercive power; by cultural, economic and military power; by values, carrots and sticks, to use three parallel formulations. Obviously these are the intellectual, economic and military elites respectively, or I, M and W; with three very different ways of steering. And whom are they steering? The people, of course. Hence, what Sarkar is exploring is not Indian history but the general dynamism of what we might call I,W,M,P systems, assuming that at any given time only one of them can dominate. So let us assume that one of them rules the ground alone. How do we predict who is next in line? Yin/yang thinking gives us an answer: the carrier of the mental color most suppressed by the dominant group.

Another approach would be by asking: when X is dominant, which group, Y, suffers most? As we are dealing with three elite and one non-elite group one conclusion is as follows: all elites suffer when the people are in power for the simple reason that they are denied elite status. But when one elite is in power People do not necessarily suffering most. Sarkar does not romanticize People; they are somewhat coarse and crude, materially oriented. Hence, they would generally suffer more when exploited materially by the Merchants than when repressed militarily by the Warriors or brainwashed by the Intellectuals. However, should People manage to get the upper hand through a revolution, then all three elites would suffer so much that they would run to the Warriors, the violence specialists, and demand “do something about it”.

Then, the inter-elite explorations. When the Warriors are in power Merchants may be operating but the Intellectuals less so. They live by the word, not by the sword (and a few words like Stop! Fire!). But Intellectuals in power have a major problem: who pays for their livelihood? In the past the princes, the courts; more recently the state. So they tend to be friendly to the state, including designing economic roles to the great chagrin of the Merchants who live neither by the sword, nor by the word, but by the gold. So: after Warriors the Intellectuals, after Intellectuals the Merchants, after the Merchants the People, W-I-M-P, and then after People the Warriors again.

The process is known as History. History is then viewed as a spiral with History telling the incumbent “time is up” and the next in line “it is your turn”. When any group comes back into power society is not entirely the same, hence a spiral, not a circle. Each group leaves a mark. Sarkar assumes, however, that even given a certain automaticity in this process there is at the center of the spiral some kind of spiritual super-elite, the sadvipras, seeing to it that each elite is used by this process for its positive contributions of courage and valiance (W), creativity (I) and wealth-creation (M), and yields the ground to its successors when the negative aspects become dominant, like repression (W), ritualism (I) and exploitation (M). And for all elite groups: arrogance. Given these four groups, there are, of course, 24 possible representations of the drama of history if we accept the “one mentality at the time” idea.

Sarkar chooses one: W-I-M-P. That is a dramatic reduction, so he adds that [1] cycles may be read backwards, [2] they may be accelerated and decelerated. It is only a rule-of-thumb, but a useful one, as we shall soon see. But first a note on the cyclicity. Of course this is a reflection of the samsara, transmigration, reincarnation cycles for individuals. Non-Western views tend to be cyclical; only the West builds its projet on linearity and the promise of an, even imminent, end-state. This is also what makes the West so dangerous because some people get the idea that the end-state is around the corner, and the utopian tradition is born. The result is Stalin and Hitler and their fight over that end-state in this century. That fight was won by somebody else also claiming “the end of history”, wit globalized markets and free and fair elections.

It will soon prove equally delusionary. 3. Sarkar’s theory and post World War II History. First a comment on asynchronic and synchronic cycles. Sarkar’s theory is about societies, complete social formations. The cycles are not necessarily synchronized like summer-time/winter-time in the Atlantic space. Each society follows its own cycle, logic, dialectic. Of two neighboring countries one may be in the Warrior phase and attack its neighbor in the merchant phase to get goodies, like Vikings did to Russians thousand years ago. Ultimately the Vikings became Intellectuals on Iceland and Merchants, Hansa, elsewhere. Or, they may happen, just happen, to coincide.

For some time. Which does not mean peace: two Warrior states may transform any quarrel into a casus belli to get a war to show their prowess. However, recent world history has produced phenomena with great synchronizing potential, in addition to communication. One of them is colonialism, dominant during the better part of this century. The colonies were denied the warrior phase and the colonial powers exported, and prolonged, theirs to/in the colonies. The colonies were supposed to accept both being suppressed, brainwashed and exploited, by colonial powers and their cooperating elites. In fact, the people reacted, with a vengeance, and in most colonies (as Sarkar would predict) the military took over, also to tame their own populist forces.

Then, another great synchronizer: the Second World War, followed by he Cold War. Warriors became the dominant mentalite all over even if others held the reins of formal power. To win the war, and to deter the war (with military means) became the dominant logic in most societies for half as century (1939-89). The warriors were listened to, and enjoyed discourse dominance. But not forever. The polarization, typical Warrior logic, of the Second World War abated. The Cold War polarization outlasted any war danger; but then it was about serious matters such as property and religion, not just about extermination (the two wars period, hot and cold, shared that concern).

The Intellectuals came into power in the West probably already in the 1960s; hence the student revolt against them, at the end of the sixties, at that time more serious than the peace movement. In the East Poland and Hungary came first, then the Soviet Union (Gorbachev/Gorbacheva), with DDR, Czechoslovakia and Rumania keeping the Warriors/Party in command till the end. And that became their end; had they synchronized they might not have harvested that much popular wrath. Of course the people, particularly when armed with a human rights agenda, can revolt against Warrior/repression, not only Merchant/exploitation. The Merchants suffered, in the West as also in the East. To them “freedom” was the freedom, as the Americans, with their permanent over/under-layer of Merchant mentality, say: “to use private property to make more private property”.

They demand their slice of the cycle, the Westerners among them, with usual lack of realism, forever. There are only two economic systems they proclaimed, capitalism and socialism and socialism collapsed, hence capitalism will prevail forever, q.e.d. Sarkar’s theory would predict otherwise: a popular revolt when the exploitation has come sufficiently far. Moreover, given the global synchronization of the phases, the revolt, violent or not, might also be fairly global. Qui vivra verra, but Sarkar’s theory evidently has some explanatory power. In a sense not so strange: Hindu understanding of the world is so much older. Let us then change focus and try out the theory on the United Sates of America, bringing in geographical regions in addition to historical stages.

The USA can conveniently be divided into four regions: the Yankee Northeast, a Mid-West stretching all the way to the Pacific, a Southeast=Confederacy, and a Southwest from Texas to the Pacific, from Mexico to Utah (by and large the territory taken from Mexico in 1846-48). In terms of mentalities the Northeast has from the very beginning been the intellectual/ideological/brahminic center, with Boston yielding the merchant center to New York (keeping Harvard and MIT). The warrior center was Washington, Virginia and the Southeast in general; after the Civil War the center for the conquest of the Caribbean, the Second Empire (the First Empire came with the conquest of the Native American nations).

The West, conquered in the nineteenth century, was a vast depository of People, essentially a Hinterland of the East Coast. The Northwest remained that way with no clear W-I-M profile. But the Southwest tried all three: as Warriors (center for the conquest of the Pacific, the Third Empire; US Marines, the war industry, war think tanks); as Intellectuals (the UC system, media, Hollywood); as Merchants (Silicon Valley). With considerable success, except for the victims. If we now introduce the Sarkar cycle for the Post World War II period we see the point of gravity of the USA moving with the switch in mentality: from kshatriyah Washington to the brahmin Northwest, and from there to the vaishya (merchant regions); but then to sun-belt Southwest rather than snow/rust-belt Northeast, with the last president from the Northeast murdered in the Southwest, followed by a flow of presidents from there.

But History is like the man in the post office, through with one customer he shouts next. According to Sarkar next in line is People, and with this image of the USA next in focus is the Northeast, the Ecotopia of a famous book with that title. The image today is less positive, as if they are preparing themselves for their role in the Sarkar cycle as a counterpoint to all three elites. The UNA-bomber, and above all the militias stand out. The latter are more American than apple-pie, they are the original intent. In the Europe whence the conquerors (in the USA called “settlers”) came, the aristocrats in general and the monarch in particular had the monopoly on arms as the last argument, ultima ratio regis. Real freedom was the freedom of the aristocrats to carry arms, and the freedom of the merchants to make use of private property to create more private property. For the latter some initial capital is often needed, or at last comes handy; for the former arms to carry arms will do.

The longer the current trend of taking from the workers and giving to the share-holders lasts the more will the American economic dream be lost and the American weapons dream gain in salience. And that is what the militia movement is about. Of course they are not only in the Northwest/Mid-West; the phenomena producing that movement are all over. Their original intent stance does not work on the East Coast, imbued with W-I-M logic. But back-country, far West, up-state it may work extremely well; in fact more so than the sporadic violence of black groups against the white or the yellow (Koreans, LA-1993). Sarkar’s message is very clear: elites cannot it on top of people without the people sooner or later reacting, and they see elections in a democracy mainly as elite rotation.

The world is now becoming a complete social formation, under the slogan of globalization. In that case the post World War II Sarkar cycle for a relatively synchronized world might also have geographical addresses. The world Northwest, the Atlantic region, sees itself as the Warrior-Intellectual-Merchant center in a position to control, to imprint and to the rest. And they certainly did; the pattern was know as colonialism. The world Northeast tried to make a W-I-M counterpoint, the socialist countries of yester-year. Evidently, they took on more than they could carry and collapsed under the burden. The world Southwest were and are condemned to be People, with no W-I-M profile; so they revolt in the way of the underdog, sometimes nonviolently, often violently at unexpected points in space and time, in other words with terrorism.

The world Southeast chose another strategy against the world Northwest: develop M. They did, indeed; and what Japan and then South Korea and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore and then Malaysia managed is nothing relative to what will come when the whole mahayana-buddhist/confucian region comes together as an economic actor. Of course, their power increases as the world Sarkar cycle proceeds from W and I into M where it is today. If the region manages to read the popular revolts and not only to suppress them (Kuala Lumpur 1967, Kwangju 1980, Tiananmen 1989) then they will of course also move full scale into W and I, with considerable counter-power to the Northwest and increasing intellectual power as an alternative source of light.

But watch out: as the Sarkar cycle turns to W and I the Northwest will also be activated, and the region is formidable. 4. Are there exits from the Sarkar cycle? Of course there are. Sarkar has one formula: combine the courage of the warriors, the creativity of the intellectuals, the industriousness of the merchants, the down-to-earth common sense of the people in one person. The sadvipras, similar to the boddhisatvas in some branches of buddhism, serve this function. I have a basic problem with this formula, perhaps two. From early neolithic times we have had the W-I-M division of labor simply because of the size of the social formations and the need for all three types of steering. Certainly, those three elites could be improved; they could, for instance, learn that people are human being and not objects. But I doubt that the division of labor can be abolished except at a cost that is too high for most people: a return to much smaller, less complex social formations, not necessarily hunter-gatherer nomads, but, say, monasteries, communes, sanghas. Excellent for some, but insufficient as a general formula. The second objection is different. Yes, we need people with that quadruple combination, picking the best from W-I-M-P.

But not everybody will manage that; many might even prefer their own simpler ways. That means that the formula becomes a recipe for a new elite, the integrated super-elite, pitted against not only People, but also against the old compartmentalized elites in a three tier system. Plato’s Republic, the Philosopher-King? Do we want that? Or, would it be better to work for democracies that give power not only the W-I-M elite rotation carousel, but to regular people as well? In other words, a polity that gives power to all components of the Sarkar cycle, but at the same time so as to mitigate the single-mindedness of each phase? 5. The Sarkar Cycle, World Unity and Peace At this point comes a more fundamental critique of Sarkar’s macro-history. He focuses on the actors, the W-I-M-P, but not on the deep structure and the deep culture in which they are embedded. W, I, M and P may enter and exit from the limelight but their subsystems, strongly institutionalized and internalized in contemporary modern society, will remain.

The Cheshire cat is known to leave behind a smile. The four groups leave behind their systems when they exit from the stage and everybody else will have to play according to those rules even if the masters of ceremony are not front stage: for the Warriors: the deep structure of the state system for the Intellectuals: the deep culture of the cosmology system for the Merchants: the deep structure of the market system for the People: the deep culture of the nation system We have about as much, or as little. world unity and peace as these systems offer us, meaning not very much. Hence, if world unity and world peace is what we would like to have all four systems will have to be modified, and very much so. In my Peace By Peaceful Means the state system is explored in Part I, the market system in Part III and the cosmology system, including some national cultures, in Part IV. My time is up so I refer you to that. Suffice it only to say that the state system must be liberated from its pathology, narcissism/paranoia inherited from the warrior caste of the European feudal systems, the aristocrats; that some of the cosmologies, including many nationalisms are plainly pathological and we do not know much about possible therapies; and that much richer, more eclectic market formulas can be found than capitalism and socialism.

Managing the Fall of Capitalism: A Prout Perspective

By Ronald Logan
In capitalist dominated economic markets, the theory is that entrepreneurs, desiring their own profit and competing with each other, will inspire higher quality work so that superior goods and services will flourish. This system originated as an advance in the functioning of medieval village economies. In a village, let us say, there is one cobbler; and then another cobbler comes to the village and opens a shop. Now there are two cobblers, and they are in competition. When there was only one cobbler, there was no competition. He could do poor work, and the people would not have quality craftsmanship for their shoes. The second cobbler comes in and the two cobblers compete with each other. Then the people go to the one who does the better quality work, and the other gets the message that he has to improve the quality of his work. So, through competition, this type of capitalism was very effective and made for higher standards and better quality of work.

From these origins, the capitalist system has grown and grown and grown, until now there are international corporations of immense size owning many subsidiary corporations. They have become so vast in their scope that they begin to resemble the single cobbler in the village economy of old. Their goal is to eliminate the competition, to eliminate anything that would stand in the way of their profits. They are directed to this approach by the same system that inspired the village cobblers into competition and that promoted superior quality work. But now, there is no village; there is the reach of the international corporation across the globe. They own many subsidiary companies, and they have become very powerful entities. These entities have one purpose still: to increase their profits and their wealth by any means possible. But they have become so powerful that their capacity to increase profit and wealth lies primarily in their ability to suppress competition — and even to control governments and world economics — to get the most they can.
Greed now dominates to the point where the original system of healthy competition has been corrupted, and the powerful corporations’ intention of gain is now so extreme that they control great amounts of wealth. And they have now become the main controllers of power in the world.

It is mainly the multinational corporations and their greed that have brought the world to the brink of catastrophe. They want only to increase their profits. The goal of improved quality driven by healthy competition that was seen in the village economy is gone. The motivation is no longer to improve quality as a means to increase profit. It is to control the market, control the buyers, control the workers. So the capitalist economy now gives expression to an extreme of greed.

Power Over Governments

Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. The sword that the great corporate entities live by is that of cutting through all obstacles to attain the maximum benefit and profit. That has meant the acquisition of power, and the use of this power to control governments so that governments provide them what is needed and do not stand in their way.

Due to this, governments become weak. The corporations are sufficiently powerful to control governmental bodies. The regulatory systems and the laws set to control these powerful entities are weakened or ignored, leaving them free to pursue their financial well-being and their power. The goal is no longer to increase quality so as to increase profit, but to increase power in the world — and not for the benefit of the society, but for greater corporate gain. They exert all manner of power and control to gain the proper atmosphere for the maximizing their bottom line. So it is that the competition that was a very healthy approach in the simple village economy has now become detrimental to the human society. Due to the greed for ever-increasing profit, the goal of capitalism at this point no longer breeds quality and improvement in services; it has breads power-mongering. With their ability to control and influence governmental bodies, regulation is stifled and the powerful multinational corporations are able to increase their influence unchecked.

One result of this unchecked greed was the mortgage crisis, centered in America. Federal government regulation and oversight of the banks was weakened, creating an opportunity for banks to maximize their profit by pushing alluring mortgages. The banks and mortgage brokers then encouraged people to overextend their debt. This generated greater and greater profits for the banks, but their reckless pursuit of profits was done without care for the welfare of the people acquiring the mortgages.

So, with the lax regulations, the corporate lenders saw great opportunity to make maximum profit. And their greed drove them to acquire more and more profit even when real money was not there. The trading in the lending market became more and more insubstantial and theoretical. This caused a great imbalance. So long as profit was being made, the practicality of having real money behind the loans, and consideration of factors impacting the ordinary person became irrelevant. It was then inevitable that this approach would play itself out to a tragic end.

Enlightened Socialism

The world stands at a critical juncture, and over the next few years the situation will become more critical. Then the world will have to make a choice: Will governments regain their strength, and will they recognize that they live in an international community that requires global regulation? The world today is like the Wild West run by the fastest gun — run by the multinational corporations. There is no government of the world, so the multinational corporations, with their drive for acquisition and profit, have taken over. It is time that the governments of the world unite and face the crisis that their failure to take responsibility for economic regulation has caused.

Beyond the global economic crisis are a stack of other critical problems that will also soon come to fruition. There is the aging of populations, oil depletion, climate change, environmental pollution, excessive population, earth disasters, food shortages, water pollution, water shortages, etc. These are coming up right behind the economic crisis, and their mutual interaction will magnify the impact of global crisis, should proper actions not be taken. So the world is coming to a place of crisis — again, because there is no governmental body, no multinational body, to look to the welfare of all of the people; there is no one to take this charge. The capitalists cowboys are running free, getting the most out of everything they can get, taking humanity to the brink. Can we continue to let them be unregulated worldwide entities?

The current situation has created opportunity for the governments of the world to band together, to unify themselves and dig out of this mess by forming a type of enlightened socialism. Under the approach of this enlightened socialism, the governments would work together to regulate greed. They would take dynamic action to see that the capitalist privatization and greed paradigm comes under the control of reason and that corporations serve the welfare of the international community, and not solely that of their private profits. At present, the intention of capitalism is creating profits for the corporate body. If the intention were instead that of promoting the welfare of the world community, this would cease the oppressive dominance of capitalism.

What, for example, could the governments do together to deal with the situation of so much trading and lending and valuing and devaluing? With a worldwide approach, governed by the world organization, power could be given back to local businesses, to local communities. There could be a uniting to develop a global solution that promotes local economies. This would create grounding in a practical economics, not a theoretical one based on monies that don’t exist and on debts and more debts.

What if governments also decided to erase all foreign debts and start afresh? There would be no national debts, no international debts. What if the playing field were leveled? The governments could decide to form one type of exchange — no dollar no Euro; there would be one exchange and all debts of nations erased. And then ample monies could be poured, in a simple way, to support and develop small businesses and economic diversity. Economic diversity, small business development, local economic independence would be promoted as much as possible and directed toward meeting the basic needs of all peoples. And, as well, strict regulation would be put in place to suppress the greed of capitalism. This enlightened socialist approach would solve today’s growing economic crisis.

Critical Juncture

At this critical juncture, it may be that the global community will come together and create a rational approach that serves human welfare. But it may also be that the the greedy capitalistic paradigm will remain so dominant that this does not happen. If that is the case, these powerful corporate entities may vie for greater dominance, and they may start to divide the world into corporate-controlled entities with weak governments that lick their boots. If in this way they take yet greater power, the middle classes of the world will fall away. There will be the poor workers and the rich consumers. And there will be the totalitarianism of the controlling corporate entities.

So in the present crisis there are two solutions. One is some type of enlightened socialism. The other is totalitarianism control by those motivated to run the world to serve their greed. Should this later approach come to dominance, it will not last long. Their exploitation and greed, without consideration of the needs of people, will bring their downfall. But this downfall would bring much suffering.

So the world stands at a turning point, at a juncture. It may be that dharma will prevail at this stage; capitalism may give way to a type of enlightened socialism to pull the world out of this crisis. But it may be that the multinational corporate powers take more dominance in the weakened situation and the really big corporate entities ever further utilize the weakened governments under their control and establish a short reign of this capitalist tyranny.

Change of Eras

The system that was originally built in which the cobblers — the village craftsmen and merchants — competed to produce higher quality goods, brought social progress. The early merchant society was a healthy advance. But, as with all class dominance, when the capitalist era reaches towards the end, it becomes so extreme that it becomes demoniacal. It becomes a force against the human society. Then change is inevitable. And what follows the capitalist era? There is shudra revolution, mass revolution, led by those enlightened intellectuals who care for the welfare of humanity. The people cannot lead themselves as a mass, so the enlightened intellects give leadership to bring forward change. But what follows the revolution? Then the ksattriyas will take the lead.

The ksattriyan class is often seen simply as warriors. But ksattriyan society is not necessarily a martial society. In a ksattriyan society, it will be the ksattriyas that determine the values and approach of the society. In the capitalist society, the value is on personal gain; greed is the motive. In the ksattriyan society, by contrast, the dominant motives are duty and honor. Ksattriyans live for duty and honor. The ksattriyan society is not necessarily a military society, but it is a very well-ordered society, as people uphold their social duty, their collective responsibility. There is not the extravagant individualistic indulgence of capitalist society, but instead a strong sense of duty to collective interests. The growing reaction to capitalist neglect of individuals, communities, and the environment — and all the insecurity and suffering this has caused — will naturally give momentum to the rise of ksattriyan society.

Now the wheels of social evolution turn, and that system of competition which once created increased well-being and wealth has become a tyranny upon the people — oppressing them with materialism, oppressing them with the power of the profit-driven, corporate entities. They have lived by their greed, and so they are falling. They may rally for yet a few more years of dominance, but still they will fall. So it is now a time of change.

We should not think that these are times of pain and suffering. These are times of dynamic change, and of great opportunity for humanity. But naturally, in times of great change, of a shifting of class dominance, some suffering occurs as that which has been imbalanced breaks down. Now is a bright time, a time of change. Change is not always easy. How deep and how difficult it becomes will depend upon the response of the world’s peoples, and upon the availability of a guiding ideology that can provide enlightened solutions.

Copyright The author 2012

Visions for Global Justice through the Lens of Sarkar’s Social Cycle

Josh Floyd, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
From Journal of Futures Studies, February 2005, 9(3): 47 – 60

Introduction

“We know what you are against, but what are you for?” This is the now familiar retort by supporters of free market economic globalisation used to counter the Global Justice Movement’s dissent.1 While some participants in the movement dismiss this, seeing “rebuttal of the fundamental weaknesses of a system which defends the privilege of a small minority” as their central responsibility, others perceive a pressing need to rise to the challenge presented by this question. (Seabrook 2001)

Michael Albert (2002), co-founder of Z Magazine based in Boston, sees the lack of attention to “what we actually want” as a “huge error”. He contends that “we need vision to know where we want to go so that our efforts will advance our aspirations rather than leading only in circles, or even worse, leading toward ends we abhor.” (Albert 2002)

Two particularly audacious visions for addressing the injustices wrought by economic globalisation have recently been articulated. Both propositions involve reigning in marauding corporations and capital through the extension of democratic influence beyond national boundaries to the global sphere. The first approach is detailed by George Monbiot (2003), the British journalist, environmental activist, philosopher and author, in his book The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order. The second is based on ideas developed by John Bunzl, Founder and Director of the Londonbased International Simultaneous Policy Organisation.

Bunzl’s proposal is introduced in his book The Simultaneous Policy: An Insider’s Guide to Saving Humanity and the Planet and further developed in a series of essays available on the organisation’s website (2000a, 2000b, 2001a, 2001b, 2003a, 2003b, no date; International Simultaneous Policy Organisation, 2003).2

Abstract

While a large body of work catalogues the problems of economic globalisation, proposals for addressing global economic, environmental and social injustice are notoriously limited. Two visions for the future of globalisation that have emerged are George Monbiot’s proposal for implementation of global democracy detailed in The Age of Consent and John Bunzl’s Simultaneous Policy proposal, presently being implemented by the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation. These ideas are critically examined from integral perspectives: briefly, using Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory; and in greater depth from the perspective of P. R. Sarkar’s Progressive Utilization Theory, with a particular focus on his social cycle.

Given the intended scope of Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s programs, deep understanding of their positions demands the application of an analytic tool with requisite complexity. Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, introduced in concise form in A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality offers a potential starting point (2001). Integral Theory provides a meta-map that attempts to accommodate and contextualise any perspective. While the entire system is more complex, a simplified version based on two of the principle elements, “quadrants” and “levels”, is useful in situating Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s work. Integral Theory posits that all knowledge can be classified according to whether it pertains to the individual or the collective and to the “interior” or the “exterior”. The interior/exterior dimension recognises a fundamental category difference between consciousness and culture (the interior) on the one hand and physical manifestation of matter, energy and their systems (the exterior) on the other hand. Integral Theory tells us that neither domain can, nor should, be reduced to the other. The division of knowledge by individual/ collective and interior/exterior defines four fundamental quadrants. The individual-interior, or Upper-Left quadrant, is the intentional domain, where knowledge claims are assessed according to subjective truthfulness. The individual exterior, or Upper-Right quadrant, is the behavioural domain; knowledge claims are assessed by objective truth. The collective-interior, or Lower-Left quadrant, is the cultural domain; knowledge claims are assessed by inter subjective justness. The collective-exterior, or Lower-Right quadrant, is the social systems domain; knowledge claims are assessed by inter-objective functional fit. Integral Theory also posits that all perspectives are held from a particular developmental viewpoint, pertaining to the model’s “level” element. The perspectives held in each quadrant unfold in developmental sequences, or “growth hierarchies”, extending from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit. In Integral Theory, consciousness develops or emerges asymmetrically, generally following this sequence, and any perspective is identified with the level of consciousness from which it is held.

Both Monbiot and Bunzl characterise the problems associated with unconstrained global business interests in terms of Integral Theory’s Lower-Right quadrant and it is also from this perspective that their interventions are formulated. They advocate action that leverages economic and political systems on a global scale.

Bunzl’s position, however, is differentiated by its attention to the Left-Hand quadrants, both in understanding the problem and in formulating his response. In fact, he attributes his proposal to the transformatory insight resulting from “one of those rare moments of stillness” in his own interior world. (Bunzl 2001a: 8 ) The roots of the globalisation problem are seen to lie equally with “markets, corporations, laws, patterns of ownership, institutions, technologies” and with an attendant “widespread lack of spiritual values in society”. (Bunzl 2001a: 6) As we will see later, both writers also consider the relationship between exterior social, political and economic change and interior changes in consciousness and culture, although their respective positions highlight a divide in their thinking. In terms of the level from which their perspectives emerge, some subtle clues are available. Bunzl’s embrace of spiritual perspectives, and his openness to insight as epistemology is suggestive of a post-rational stance. In a similar vein, he devotes an essay to the role of Wilber’s vision-logic (cognitive development beyond formal operational thinking) in taking us beyond the present globalisation model. (Bunzl 2003a)3 For Monbiot, on the other hand, the rational is of prime legitimacy. His favouring of the rational is illustrated well in his rebuke of those in the West who would deny proportionate power to citizens of other cultures. In dismissing this chauvinism, Monbiot (2003: 107) reflects that “the people of China and India are just as capable of assessing their political options and making rational decisions as anyone else”. Rationality is, for Monbiot, the basis of right thinking.

Integral Theory facilitates deep comparison of the perspectives underlying Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s proposals. In considering globalscale change, we require also a basis for analysis that addresses and accounts for, in similar depth, the power dynamics underlying the global political-economy. A critical lens that incorporates the integral knowledge concept (integration of breadth and depth of available perspectives) with a generalised model of social change will be invaluable in extending the analysis. The basis for such a tool is contained within the thinking of Indian philosopher, social activist and spiritual leader Prahbat Rainjan Sarkar. Sarkar’s Progressive Utilization Theory (PROUT), and his social cycle theory in particular, offers a rich contextual base from which to examine the shifting global interrelationships between citizens, governments, corporations and the philosophers responsible for these groups’ guiding ideas.

The social cycle combines the focal elements of Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s works in a grand macrohistorical structure. This provides us with a deep, long-term perspective within which to situate Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s visions. In turn, the social cycle theory of change should reveal valuable critical insights into the prospects for their proposals. We will commence this process by examining Sarkar’s social cycle and other elements of PROUT in more detail, predominantly considering the perspective of Sohail Inayatullah, one of the foremost commentators on Sarkar’s thinking. In particular, this article draws on the books Transcending Boundaries, Situating Sarkar and Understanding Sarkar. (Inayatullah 1999; Inayatullah & Fitzgerald 1999; Inayatullah 2002).

Sarkar’s Perspective as Critical Framework

From Inayatullah (1999: 2) we learn that “Sarkar’s intent was and is…to create a global spiritual socialist revolution, a renaissance in thought, language, music, art and culture.” Sarkar’s thinking, originating in what Inayatullah (1999: 5-6; 2002) has called “the classic Indian episteme”, benefits from the many-layered reality that is inherent in this system, and then transcends its specific cultural roots by seeking a genuinely global, spiritual universalism. The Sarkarian system provides a vantagepoint situated outside the Western discourse within Journal of Futures Studies 50 which Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s ideas are located.

Rather than simply offering its own alternative, here we find a system with potential to encompass their thinking by providing “a new way to constitute the real”. (Inayatullah 1999: viii)While discussion here centres on the social cycle theory, this is just one component of the overall PROUT system. Inayatullah (1999: 3) describes the entire system as comprising “Sarkar’s theory of history and change, his theory of leadership and the vanguard of the new world he envisions, as well as his alternative political economy.” In making best use of Sarkar’s ideas for our present analysis, we will touch on all of these elements.

Sarkar saw the history of societies as the result of rising and falling influence of four classes, or varnas: workers (shudra), warriors (ksattriya), intellectuals (vipra) and capitalists (vaeshya). (Inayatullah 1999) Associated with each is a particular type of power – mass power, coercive power, normative power and remunerative power. (Inayatullah 1999) But beyond this, each class represents a particular paradigm, with its own way of knowing and dealing with the physical and social world.

(Inayatullah 1999) Inayatullah (2002: 265) explains that “varna is about an analysis that is much deeper than government and ruling classes, it is an entire worldview.” Sarkar’s system, however, differs from purely structural perspectives on class. Varna is not fixed: as Inayatullah(1999: 3) notes, “one can change the influence of history and social environment”, for example, via education.

Each varna is characterised by its relationship with the social and physical environment. The shudra are dominated by the environment, the ksattriya struggle with and dominate the environment, the vipra struggle with and dominate the world of ideas and the vaeshya struggle with and dominate the environment and world of ideas. (Inayatullah 1999) History, for Sarkar, involves a cycle of epochs in which each of the classes in turn rises to power in a benevolent form but then becomes exploitative and creates the conditions for the shift to a new epoch. (Inayatullah 1999) The cycle proceeds from shudra to ksattriya to vipra then to vaeshya, before returning to shudra, either through revolution by the shudra, or by evolution. (Inayatullah 1999)

The social cycle is based on the Indian perspective in which social history is continuous. In Sarkar’s worldview, history always involves a dialectic relationship between thesis and antithesis, benevolence and perversion, leading to synthesis and renewal. This constant interplay underpins the fabric of the cosmos, creating an internal challenge “that propels humans, collectively and individually, towards new levels of physical wealth, intellectual understanding and spiritual realization.” (Inayatullah 1999: 5)

According to Inayatullah (1999: 25), the driver of Sarkar’s dialectic, rather than means of production, new technology or “the actions of the Great Leader…is physical struggle (the battle with the environment), mental struggle (the battle between new and old ideologies) and the spiritual attraction of the Great (that force which leads women and men towards the infinite).” Periods of power associated with each varna are characterised by particular systems of government. This is a vital point in applying Sarkar’s model to analysis of current approaches to reform of the global political-economy.

Inayatullah explains the Sarkarian view on the relationship between types of government and class power: when there is worker rule (prehistory and revolutionary times) the political system is anarchy; during warrior rule (empires and kingdoms as well as modern military states) there are monarchies or dictatorships; during intellectual rule (the great religions and the bureaucracy) there are republics; and during capitalist rule, there is mass democracy. (Inayatullah 1999: 70)

Elsewhere, Inayatullah (2002: 158) reflects that “for Sarkar no political system is intrinsically better than any other one.” Inayatullah (1999: 2) highlights the manner in which this contrasts with “the Western model where social history can end with the perfect marketplace or the conflict-free communist state.” While Sarkar recognised the importance of checks and balances, and separation of powers, the actual forms of government “are but secondary factors in the larger system.” (Inayatullah 2002: 265) In Sarkar’s thinking, “what is important is responsiveness to human needs and the accountability of power, that is, a model of needs representation not representation by ballot.” (Inayatullah 2002: 265)

In order to address the problem of exploitation that is, eventually, the nature of all systems of government and sources of power, Sarkar also proposed a fifth social group. This is the sadvipra, or servant leaders, who have the potential to create a state of permanent revolution such that the exploitative stage of each epoch is avoided (Inayatullah 1999). The sadvipra sit at the centre of society. Like the vipra, they operate in the realm of ideas. They differ from the vipra, however, in that these ideas are combined with interventional action, transforming the pattern of history from circle to spiral.

The sadvipra disrupt the social cycle, preventing it from becoming stuck in a repetitive loop. They create circumstances in which “the call of the infinite” can create a dynamic, evolutionary, social progression (Inayatullah 1999: 4). This provides the ground from which the self may expand from identification exclusively with ego, to family attachment, to geo-sentiments, to socio-sentiments, to humanism and finally on to identity with the cosmos as a whole, Sarkar’s neo-humanism (Inayatullah 1999). Inayatullah (1999: 2) describes neo-humanism as “the construction of self in an ecology of reverence for life”, characterised by “love and devotion for all, inanimate and animate, beings of the universe.”

The sadvipra are universal agents, transcending and working across the spectrum of institutional forms. In Sarkar’s view, the priority must be to “create this type of leadership instead of building large bureaucratic organizations.” (Inayatullah 1999: 3) Developing the consciousness of the leader must precede any specific change to the structures of social organisation.

As Inayatullah (1999: 65) explains, for the sadvipra “power is populist, based on the person not an institution. Thus representation moves away from acting for particular individuals as defined by national sovereignty and moves to acting for the interests of a general and universal ‘humanity’.” The sadvipra represents “a new type of leadership conscious of the pattern of history and the structures of power that gives us our selves.” (Inayatullah 1999: 73) This approach, relying on the integrity and spiritual development of the leader, stands in contrast to the post-enlightenment democratic concept of leadership characterised by institutional protection from the essentially corrupting nature of power. Sarkar embraces instead “the notion of leader as having access to special knowledge or access to deeper layers of consciousness.” (Inayatullah 1999: 22) For Sarkar, “it is leadership that represents not a particular class but the interests of the collective that is critical for a future political design.” (Inayatullah 1999: 66) But how to cultivate these qualities? How does the potential leader move towards vidya (benevolence, introversion) and away from avidya (the perverse, extroversion)? This is possible only through individual growth, as Inayatullah describes:

Revolutionaries who desire to transform the numerous pathologies of the present must prepare their minds and bodies, they must be ready to suffer hardships. They must also undergo spiritual transformation: they must suffuse their minds with love, with selflessness. (Inayatullah 1999: 22) Still, the sadvipra are human: how would corruption of members of this group and subsequent abuse of power be avoided? Sarkar’s system, according to Inayatullah (1999: 66), specifies that this polity “is never one person rule but a council, a board of sadvipras, thus allowing sadvipras to monitor each other’s behaviour.” Also, the focus on “community and personal power” leading to the “spiritualization of society, the democratization of the economy, interwoven citizen bonds” would act to counter the “abuse of power by those intending to do good.” (Inayatullah 1999: 66)

Where might Sarkar’s vision lead us? We have seen that the ultimate call is towards neohumanism, but as Inayatullah (1999: 68) explains, “perfection is possible only at the level of individual enlightenment. A perfect polity is impossible.” Nonetheless, spiritual practice aimed towards neo-humanism “must be based on rigor, discipline, and selfless service to the Other, not solely on good feelings and the search for spiritual pleasure.” (Inayatullah 1999: 33) The aim should be to create, through a path commencing with transformation of one’s self, the social conditions within which others can pursue their own growth. But this does not mean the establishment on Earth of a perfect paradise, Sarkar’s understanding of our reality is far more complex than to suggest this.

Inayatullah (1999: 33) explains that “Sarkar’s vision is not utopia, it does not predict the end of exploitation and struggle; rather it is a eutopia, a good place, where not only will there be good forces, but evil forces as well.” Whereas utopia implies the eradication of that which is seen as bad, Sarkar seeks “prama or balance between the individual and the collective, growth and distribution, and between ideational and sensate.” (Inayatullah 1999: 14) This is a project of global scope: it is seen as a suitable goal for all of humanity, transcending state, race and religion.

Inayatullah (1999: 17) emphasises that, for Sarkar, “one of the criteria of a good society is well being and economic vitality, not solely a society where the transcendental is worshipped.” Sarkar saw an appropriate politicaleconomy as integral to PROUT’s ability to provide the material and social base for such a good society. The PROUT political-economy stands as a genuine alternative to those of capitalism, localism and communism. Inayatullah (1999) characterises the PROUT system as high growth and high distribution, in contrast to capitalism (high growth, low distribution), localism (low growth, high distribution) and communism (medium growth, medium distribution). A central tenet of PROUT is that it “accepts individual difference and the desire of individuals to own limited property and goods as well as the key role of incentives in spurring technological innovation and economic growth.” (Inayatullah 1999: 23) In contrast to both communism and capitalism, PROUT reflects an understanding that “individual good and collective good are symbiotic: neither one is more important; both find their apex through interrelationship.”

(Inayatullah 1999: 23) Inayatullah (1999: 31) explains that within PROUT, “economic development is defined as increases in purchasing capacity, not gross national product.” Moreover, it is a political-economy based on “physical, intellectual and spiritual resources” (Inayatullah 1999:5). In this system, employment, rather than an end in itself and the principal source of our wellbeing, is seen “as only an intermediate state, the final good is full unemployment, the creation of a society where material needs are fulfilled so out intellectual and spiritual selves can be cultivated.” (Inayatullah 1999: 31)

A final key to Sarkar’s system, and an essential element in the analysis of alternative globalisation proposals, is his epistemological diversity. He recognises four “conventional” epistemologies, two typically identified as Western, two as Eastern, described by Inayatullah (1999: 16) as “Sense-Inference (Science), Reason-Logic (Philosophy), Authority (Religion), Intuition (Mysticism).” To these he “adds a fifth that of devotion/love which is not merely an emotion but a way of constituting the real”, creating “an alternative reality inaccessible by other conventional ways of knowing.” (Inayatullah 1999: 16) Reason and sense-inference, the West’s “officially” sanctioned epistemologies, are placed “in a larger context of intuition and layers of reality.” (Inayatullah 1999: 16)

Depth of both being and knowing is essential to understanding Sarkar’s perspective of the real, and hence to assessing the strength of responses to globalisation from within his framework.

The Nature of the Problem

From the point of view of the Global Justice Movement, our present era of economic globalisation clearly correlates with the exploitative phase of the vaeyshan historical epoch. This is the context in which we will now examine George Monbiot’s and John Bunzl’s characterisation of the problems that they perceive. Following this, we will consider their respective visions for change. Finally, the social cycle and the broader landscape of PROUT will be used to situate each author’s work.

Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s proposed interventions in the economic globalisation process share common themes. Where they differ markedly is in their respective characterisations of the problem that these interventions are designed to address. As we saw earlier, they are also differentiated by the layers of reality that they recognise and the relative depth of their perspectives. Their positions can each be summarised by a central question. In Monbiot’s case this question is “Who holds the power?” For Bunzl, it is “What is the guiding imperative?” For Monbiot (2003: 8), the injustices of economic globalisation stem from a system “designed and executed by a minority seeking to enhance its wealth and power.” Underpinning this perspective is a view of human nature in which greed and fear, violence and destruction are the predominant drivers of behaviour.

Humans are seen as having a natural tendency towards oppression of an “other” in pursuit of the resource needs of the group with which they presently identify. The world is divided along class lines, where a small but powerful and rich elite exploits the poor and weak masses. Monbiot (2003: 15) regards the problems associated with corporate and financial globalisation as “simply formulated: there is, at the global level, no effective restraint” of this exploitation.

Monbiot sees problems relating to globalisation originating in the tensions between class-based groups with conflicting interests. In other words, the problem is one of the relative competitiveness between these groups, their respective ability to capture and exert power. While, as we will see shortly, Monbiot rejects communism as a system of political economy, his thinking with regard to social change is strongly reminiscent of Marxist conflict theory. In Monbiot’s view, structural change, albeit instigated by human agency, is the necessary precursor to changes in consciousness. He describes these as “metaphysical mutations”, borrowing from Michel Houellebecq’s novel Atomised. (Houellebecq 2001 cited in Monbiot 2003: 7) This perspective sees human consciousness, and the values enacted by this consciousness, as a collective structural phenomenon, a “framework of perception”, itself beyond human agency. (Monbiot 2003: 260) It is only through institutional reform instigated through the action of the weak, poor and oppressed that the onset of the “metaphysical mutation” might be brought about, permitting us “to cooperate in resolving our common problems.” (Monbiot, 2003:260-1)

While Monbiot’s understanding of social change is strongly influenced by Marxist conflict theory, he departs sharply from Marx with regard to the historical trajectory. He is perfectly clear on this: “history does not come to an end; dialectical materialism has no ultimate synthesis.

New struggles do, and must, emerge as needs change, interests diverge and new forms of oppression manifest themselves.” (Monbiot 2003: 29) Here, then, we see his current formulation of the globalisation problem, and the context for any proposed program of action, in a wider framework. We should expect no magic solution, no ticket to utopia. The problem that we face is inherent in human nature. For Monbiot, there is a strong sense that global injustice results from a fundamental flaw in our being. Recognising the central role for human agency in addressing injustice, he sees a clear path beyond our current circumstances, but in the absence of a deeper, layered view of reality, and a perspective on individual transformation, it appears that his options for taking us forward may be limited in scope.

John Bunzl sees two specific global justice issues as being of greatest concern. He describes these as “the threat posed by unsustainable consumption and pollution that characterise continual economic growth in a finite environment” and “the threat posed by worsening poverty and dependency of the vast majority of the world’s rapidly growing population.” (Bunzl 2001a: 1-2) While not denying the significance of power discrepancies, Bunzl (2001b) perceives the root of these problems to lie deeper: he suggests that it originates in our collective myth of competition itself. For Bunzl (2001a: 3), this myth is inherently associated with “certain aspects of the capitalist system and its attendant lack of spiritual values.”

Competition, in Bunzl’s (2001b) view, induces fear. Governments, incapacitated by the fear of capital flight, job loss, inflation and currency devaluation, refuse to implement policies aimed at economic, environmental and social sustainability. Businesses refuse to act more responsibly due to perceive d negative impacts on profits and market share relative to competitors who refuse to act for the same reasons.

Bunzl (2001b) portrays global economic injustice not as “the result of an ‘evil conspiracy’ on the part of transnational corporations, market traders or fund managers but merely the natural consequence of competition becoming unshackled from cooperation.” His position with respect to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an institution much maligned by the Global Justice Movement, illustrates this well. He sees the WTO, as “a symptom of the absence of political control over the global economy rather than its cause”, its establishment necessitated by a mind-set in which competition is an inevitable force, the impact of which we can only hope to make fairer by removal of constraints. (Bunzl 2001b)

The Nature of the Response

Monbiot’s vision for change in response to his formulation of the problem involves the extension of democratic institutions beyond the national domain to the global sphere. He advocates overthrow and replacement by the world’s citizens of the present global institutions of economic power. The broad aim is the introduction of democratically appointed rule of law at the global level. Specifically, his manifesto proposes the establishment of four principal global institutions: a democratically elected world parliament; a democratised United Nations General Assembly, which captures the powers now vested in the Security Council; an International Clearing Union, which automatically discharges trade deficits and prevents accumulation of debt; a Fair Trade Organization, which restrains the rich while emancipating the poor. (Monbiot 2003: 4) In framing his vision for a more just political-economy, Monbiot relies largely on variations of existing systems. He writes that “I have not sought to be original. Where effective solutions have already been devised, I have adopted them”, his “principal innovation [being] to discover some of their synergistic effects.” (Monbiot 2003: 2-3) He considers in some detail the prospects for communism, anarchism and democracy as principals of political organisation. He examines localism as an alternative to capitalism; voluntary simplicity and mindful consumption as means of de-clawing it; and new rules for the IMF and World Bank as approaches to reforming it. Monbiot (2003: 41) finds in favour of democracy, although it is for him “the least-worst system we can envisage”, containing its own inherent problems and requiring scrutiny from a politically active civil society to avoid perversion. His economic proposals assume a continuation of prevailing capitalism and global trade, but with strong institutional measures to ensure distributive justice and control of interregional wealth disparity. The intention here is not so much to critique the specific details of this project.

Monbiot (2003: 3) makes clear that he does not “presume to suggest anything resembling a final or definitive world order.” The specific ideas are intended as much for seeding a movement and for provocation of debate as they are for direct implementation in their own right. Of greater interest is the worldview within which the proposals arise, and the way that relationships between actors are considered to play out in implementing such proposals.

Monbiot works within a strategic space governed by zero sum logic, in which the advantage of one group implies the disadvantage (real or perceived) of an “other”. The world is populated by clearly defined “in” groups and “out” groups. While he eschews actual physical violence in considering how aims of the type that he lays out might be achieved, Monbiot adopts the language of violent revolution. He speaks of globalisation placing “within our hands the weapons we require to overthrow the people who have engineered it.” (Monbiot 2003: 9) Power must be seized, existing powers “forced to comply”, “cruel and unusual methods of destroying their resistance” must be employed. (Monbiot 2003: 4) Although his resort to “cruel and unusual methods” is clearly intended figuratively, Monbiot does not anticipate such restraint from the entrenched powers.

He expects that the success of his approach will be established “only when it is violently opposed.” (Monbiot 2003: 3) We see here that Monbiot’s response to the injustices of economic globalisation is framed within the modified Marxist conflict theory with which he constitutes the problem itself. He is disdainful of the role that inner transformation of the individual might play in social renewal. For instance, he suggests that “Voluntary simplicity looks more like the monastery than the barricade.

Delightful as it may be for those who practise it, quiet contemplation does not rattle the cages of power.” (Monbiot 2003: 62) Monbiot marginalises the role of contemplation and “voluntary simplicity” in the preparation of individuals for action in the social domain. His perspective on social change is biased strongly towards structural primacy. The prospects for his response are likely to be tied to the adequacy of that theory of social change.

For Bunzl, global injustice is to be addressed by transcending the myth of competition with the spirit of cooperation. If fear of competitive disadvantage drives the global economic game, then we must step outside the framework that gives validity to such fear, addressing the rules of the game rather than reacting to the fear itself. (Bunzl 2000a) Bunzl has developed ideas that might facilitate such transcendence, and has enacted these ideas via establishment of the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO). The organisation’s program has “as its ultimate aim the transformation of the international economy such that it operates in harmony with the global natural environment and with the needs of human nature”, aims that are summed up as “balance”, “peace” and “permanence”. (Bunzl 2001a: 82) The Simultaneous Policy (SP) concept and implementation process is described in detail in ISPO’s Founding Declaration. (International Simultaneous Policy Organisation 2003) The process involves adoption of SP by individuals.

The contents of SP would be determined cooperatively by all adopters. Adopters agree to vote in future national elections for any candidate or party within reason that agrees to implement the SP agenda. When sufficient individuals have adopted SP, all candidates or parties would have to pledge to implement SP in order to be elected. Once elected, a government that has pledged to implement SP would be required to do so when the governments of a sufficient number of other countries have also agreed to do so. It is of particular significance that the proposal would “take place within our existing framework of world politics and international relations.” (International Simultaneous Policy Organisation 2003: “Background”) Bunzl (no date) sees the central strength of SP as its creation of “what could be described as a ‘future context’ of co-operation amongst nations… policies that are unworkable and consequently undesirable in the current competitive context can, in a future context in which all cooperate, become entirely workable and desirable.”

Bunzl and ISPO have made initial proposals for policy measures that might be implemented, but the emphasis is on the adoption process itself, on the means of reaching agreement to implement simultaneously, rather than on what to implement. Interestingly, George Monbiot’s specific measures have themselves been suggested as part of the initial SP package (International Simultaneous Policy Organisation, no date). The intention is that the final policy package would be developed from the grass roots level by SP adopters, and it is in this manner that SP is differentiated from other transnational “coordinated” policy initiatives. SP is specifically intended to allow members of a global civil society to have direct input into development of the policies by which their world is governed.

Bunzl’s favoured political-economy is based strongly on institutional reform of the prevailing capitalism, supported by liberal democracy at the national level. His “aim is not to destroy capitalism but rather to give it the legitimacy that it currently lacks.” (Bunzl 2001a: 82) He holds that the “fall of communism [has] revealed capitalism in all its myriad forms to be the world’s dominant mode of production.

Having achieved supremacy, the need now is for capitalism to examine itself and to put its own house in order.” (Bunzl 2001a: 180) Bunzl sees democratic nation states as the appropriate units of political organisation. The SP program is specifically formulated to take advantage of a perceived trend towards universalisation of this system. He rejects the notion of “a benevolent global state” and, like Monbiot (and Sarkar for that matter), “small-scale opting out”. (Bunzl 2001a: 182) In contrast to Monbiot (and again, Sarkar), Bunzl’s design criteria are motivated by an aversion to political instability. For him, “the ballot box still remains the only safety valve through which essential reforms can come about, without the danger of revolutionary or violent change.” (Bunzl 2001a: 106) It may be useful to consider this in light of Bunzl’s personal background. He was born into relative affluence and has spent his working life with his family’s business and recognises that his “current lifestyle leaves him in something of an embarrassing situation and wide open to charges of hypocrisy.” (Bunzl 2001a: 7, 189) Finally, he reminds us that in suggesting a form of political-economy, “many assumptions are made for I am neither an economist nor a political scientist.” (Bunzl 2001a: 81)

Central to Bunzl’s proposal is a shift from blaming of one group by another for global problems. SP requires that we all acknowledge some degree of responsibility for our present predicament. (Bunzl 2003b) The reward for such acceptance of responsibility is a path forward based on positive sum logic, with the potential to disrupt the cycle of “‘us and them’ blame and counter-blame”. (Bunzl 2003b: 1) His intention is to bring us to “a crucial and fundamentally important intellectual and spiritual turning point… at which we can move to a new and liberating level in our thinking and being.” (Bunzl 2003b: 3) The aim is to create “the conditions of forgiveness and non-judgemental acceptance of ourselves and each other; the inclusiveness necessary to beginning our collaborative search for global solutions.” (Bunzl 2003b: 4)

Bunzl’s worldview is infused with the spiritual, and his vision for social change is underpinned by the centrality of inner transformation. His transformative perspective, reminiscent of the views on social change seen, for instance, in Richard Slaughter’s (1999) T-cycle or Jack Mezirow’s transformative theory of adult learning (Mezirow & Associates 2000), is coupled to an appreciation of structural realities. In support of this, he writes: “Whilst the impetus for such spiritual and material reform must come from within, the adoption campaign would at least provide conducive conditions in which it is encouraged to flourish.” (Bunzl 2001a: 163) Nonetheless, for Bunzl, the primary energy for change comes from within. In moving “from A to B”, it is “clear that a process of fundamental transformation [of human nature] is involved and that any such proposal for fundamental transformation must inevitably be characterised by a high degree of idealism.” (Bunzl 2001a: 8 )

Finally, through “an organisation focused upon achieving a political and spiritual shift of emphasis”, he believes that “we have the opportunity to take the stage of World Community – and thus humanity – to a new spiritual height.” (Bunzl 2001a: 181; 171)

Through Sarkar’s Lens Although conceding the possibility of Houellebecq’s “metaphysical mutation”, George Monbiot’s proposal is very much “of the system” that it seeks to change. It is also noteworthy that, while he has a strong background in activism, the ideas proposed in The Age of Consent are intended as motivation for action by the Global Justice Movement at large rather than as a personal or organisational implementation plan. The Age of Consent is a call to arms: the framework for action is to be constructed elsewhere. Through the lens of Sarkar’s social cycle, Monbiot’s role can be interpreted as that of the disaffected vipran, sensing within the present perversity of the vaeshyan epoch the seeds for the rise of the shudra class. His ideas have the potential to channel shudran chaos into directed and purposeful energy. The revolution for which these ideas call, not withstanding the marginal chance of a “metaphysical mutation”, seems destined to assist the rotation of history’s wheel by pushing it along its existing track. Monbiot occupies a position of essential significance within Sarkar’s macro-perspective, but is perhaps unlikely to bring about the elevation of discourse for which this perspective calls.

Within Monbiot’s theory of social change, we find elements in strong accordance with PROUT. Inayatullah (2002: 244), in characterising Sarkar’s cyclical view, writes “There is no final synthesis – the battle between basic forces in the universe is endless.” As we have seen, Monbiot is unequivocal with regard to his perception of a cyclic trajectory without ultimate synthesis, where the next stage of history has its own problems and potential for oppression. Sarkar and Monbiot share an appreciation of the importance of class and power in social history, and of the inequity of the present global class and power arrangement. They share also a common understanding of the dialectical nature of change, of a continual process of thesis, antithesis and new synthesis. They diverge sharply, however, with regard to the basic nature of this dialectic. Monbiot’s perspective is, here at least, strongly Marxist: the dialectic is always physical, material. For Sarkar, it is much more complex. The dialectic varies in degrees between the physical, the mental and the spiritual, and is always related to the psychologies, the epistemologies, the types of power of the varnas in conflict. (Batra 1999) Here we see also a fundamental departure with regard to the layered nature of reality; with the importance of depth of being and of knowing.

From Monbiot, we hear nothing of the spiritual: the category is not considered. For Sarkar it is the central key. Monbiot (2003: 252) writes “to be truly free… we must be prepared to contemplate revolution”. Sarkar would agree, but ultimately, for real freedom, this revolution must take place in individual consciousness, proceeding from a sound physical and mental base. (Avadhuta 1999) Nevertheless, on the matter of revolution, we see a convergence of thought. The Sarkarian social revolution may be “bloody or peaceful” in contrast to the Marxian revolution, which is always “bloody and violent”. (Batra 1999: 39) Monbiot holds that his proposed program contains the possibility and hope, at least, of peaceful social change. Finally, Monbiot’s economic program, while restricted to the physical category where Sarkar’s extends to the intellectual and spiritual domains, is reminiscent of PROUT. Monbiot sees a strong role for inter-regional trade, but frames this within a system designed to provide distributive justice. This would be achieved not through a shallow “leveling of the field” but by structuring trade rules to ensure genuine, not simply legalistic, equity.

John Bunzl’s ideas, while constructed “in the system”, are not “of the system”. For Sarkar, the first step in the emergence of a new universalism “which can challenge the national, religious, class sentiments of history… is liberating the intellect from its own boundaries and placing it in an alternative discourse.” (Inayatullah 1999: 2-3) Such a liberation of intellect is evident in the foundations and structure of the Simultaneous Policy project. A clear sadvipran current runs through Bunzl’s work: here we see ideas and action combined to lift the wheel of history from its track and place it on a new course. Potential exists to establish a spiral trajectory capable of transcending patterns of the past.

Krtashivananda Avadhuta (1999), in his chapter in Transcending Boundaries titled “Politics Beyond Liberalism: the Political Theory of Prout”, summarises Sarkar’s guidelines and goals of economic development in a series of ten key points. While all of these points are in close accord with Bunzl’s economic principles, two in particular stand out. Included in Avadhuta’s list we find: Harmonious relations of cooperation with nature should be established.

The psychology of greed and envy must be replaced by a psychology of collective welfare and cooperation. (Avadhuta 1999: 96) There is strong resonance between these principles and those underpinning Bunzl’s program. In fact, the language itself bears an uncanny resemblance to Bunzl’s. The source of this is revealed by Avadhuta’s reference to E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful, also Bunzl’s principal reference for his economic proposals. This suggests a significant philosophical link between the SP program and PROUT: Avadhuta is a disciple of Sarkar, and has held prominent roles in Proutist Universal. (Inayatullah & Fitzgerald 1999)

With his emphasis on the individual’s spiritual transformation in creation of healthy social change, Bunzl is in clear accord with Sarkar. Inayatullah (1999: ix) sums up Sarkar’s position: “it is through individual effort in the context of social movements that a brighter future is possible.” “His goal is to infuse individuals with a spiritual presence, the necessary first step in changing the way that we know and order the world.” (Inayatullah 1999: 2) This perspective is mirrored by Bunzl throughout his writing. For instance he discusses, in a section of The Simultaneous Policy titled “Campaigning and spiritual values”, the relationship between transformative interior development and the SP adoption campaign. (Bunzl 2001a) For Bunzl, the period of SP adoption prior to eventual policy implementation is an opportunity for cultural revitalisation – similar to Sarkar’s cultural revolution, described by Inayatullah (1999: 24) as necessarily preceding economic change, due to capitalism’s creation of “cultural and economic dependency between centres and peripheries”.

Considered from Sarkar’s viewpoint, Bunzl’s thinking and SP have genuine strengths. Potential problems, however, are also revealed. While strong on transformation of the individual, SP is much weaker with regard to its macroperspective of social change. The peace and permanence toward which Bunzl hopes his proposals will direct us appear antithetical to the social cycle. This doesn’t necessarily discount the value of the SP program under our current circumstances, but it does raise questions as to its relevance within an environment ofworsening rather than increasing global stability. We might also ask whether SP could have any influence over inequities within individual nations, without seizure of power by the poor and oppressed.

Finally, Bunzl’s reliance on and faith in democracy would be questioned by Sarkar, for whom: democratic socialism is far too slow, what are needed are efforts that quicken the pace of change, which allow elites to circulate and social forces to balance… Democracy is useful, but too often, endemically, the larger capitalist structure and local political leaders imbalance it at the expense of the suffering poor. (Inayatullah 2002: 265) Balance, too, is one of Bunzl’s aims. In Sarkar’s view this balance would not be achieved without the release of tension that revolution provides. Of course, this perspective on democracy applies also to Monbiot’s proposal, however he provides the appropriate outlet for stored energy through his harnessing of conflict.

Conclusion

Viewed through the lens of Sarkarian thinking, the programs of both Monbiot and Bunzl appear particular to their time and place. They are specific responses to problems of a specific historical epoch. Both perspectives reflect strongly their Western economic, political, social and cultural roots. While Bunzl, with his greater epistemological depth, and, to a much lesser extent Monbiot, with his perspective on structural change, class and power, have within their systems of thought the potential to transcend their present frameworks, cast against the backdrop of Sarkar’s PROUT their limitations are clearly revealed. Nevertheless, we see in Bunzl’s work strong signs of Western sadvipran thought and action emerging. Here we see practical evidence that Sarkar’s vision of a universal system transcending its Indian sociocultural origins is indeed being realised.

Sarkar’s wider and deeper perspective also gives us reason to see real value in Monbiot’s and Bunzl’s work. In their programs we see the turning of the social cycle, and we see (in Bunzl, at least) the potential for the spiral trajectory towards neo-humanism. While their thinking is particularly relevant to one stage of the cycle, it is this turn from vaeshyan to shudran power that presently challenges us and upon which our energy will naturally focus. The possibility exists that we might reconcile the tensions between their respective conflict-based and transformative outlooks in a genuinely integral program of social change. A path forward drawing on the best of both Bunzl’s and Monbiot’s thinking would in many respects echo the vision of Sarkar’s PROUT.

The challenge remains to avoid any approach to global justice becoming a quest for the “perfect market” and the “end of history”. We must avoid the temptation to pursue development of our exterior, global economic system at the expense of transforming the interiors by which we perceive our economic needs in the first place. If we can move towards the visions of justice held by George Monbiot and John Bunzl, then where will Sarkar’s cycle take us next?

Contact author:
Josh Floyd
Australian Foresight Institute,
Swinburne University of Technology,
Melbourne, Australia.
2/10 Redan Street,
St Kilda 3182, Victoria, Australia
joshfloyd@iinet.net.au

Notes

1. The title “Global Justice Movement” represents what has been widely dubbed in the international media as the “Anti-Globalisation Movement” or the “Anti-Capitalist Movement”. The Global Justice Movement could be considered as a loose affiliation of individuals and organisations around the world representing those whose interests have been overlooked, neglected or outright threatened by the process of economic globalisation.
2. The International Simultaneous Policy Organisation website is located at http://www.simpol.org
3. Vision-logic is discussed extensively in Wilber (2000).

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Copyright The author 2011

Proletarian Revolution and Post-capitalist Society

spirevP. R. Sarkar
The inevitable consequence of capitalist exploitation is proletariat revolution. When capitalists, maddened with excessive greed, lose their common sense completely and bid farewell to humanism totally, it is time for proletariat revolution to burst forth. But it will be futile to expect it just because of the ripe time. For this, conditions relating to place and person are also largely responsible.

From the economic standpoint, where there exists two classes – the exploiting capitalists and exploited proletariat – revolution takes place at such a time indeed, but at such a time if there be no intellectuals and fighters, from the mental standpoint, or in other words if people are proletarian economically but not intellectuals or fighters mentally, proletariat revolution is not possible. Those that are mentally proletarians are not capable of bringing about revolution. They are battle-shy. They are the playthings of the capitalists. During the hey-day of the capitalist era, capitalists easily kept in their clutches such proletarian-minded workers. Nay, even the martial-minded or intellectual workers, if they are not spirited enough, get themselves sold to the capitalists. Therefore, eventually, proletariat revolution has to depend on those workers who are sufficiently spirited and who are mentally intellectual or fighters. Without taking into account the mental cast, those who want to bring about the revolution of the proletariat only with the help of the working class, will come a cropper.

Revoloutionary middle class
The moral and the virtuous may be found among both the rich and the poor. It is known to everybody that the notion that rich means dishonest and poor means honest is totally wrong. But in most cases spirituo-moralists will be found particularly in the middle class society. By middle class society I mean the intellectual or martially-minded workers. It may be argued that, “can’t a rich person, who is moral and virtuous, be a moralist?” In reply, I would say, yes, s/he can, but s/he will have to come down to the level of the bourgeoisie, for s/he shall not relax snugly with his or her ill-gotten capital and eat idly. In order to observe and abide by the rules of PROUT, s/he has to fight against wrong and injustice, and in order to continue this fight properly s/he shall cease to be a rich person, but will become middle class. The interpretation of the word moralist is one who is a moral and virtuous person and fights against unjust policies. Earning money wrongfully or hoarding inordinate wealth runs counter to the fundamental principles of PROUT, without which proletariat revolution can never be successful. It may be argued again that, “can’t a poor person be a moralist?” Yes, s/he can, but only those poor people who are martially-minded or intellectuals can bring about revolution, and those very poor people I call the middle class. This is how I interpret the middle class. I do not see eye to eye with those who say the middle class people are those who do not do physical labor but render intellectual service, nor with those who say, those whose incomes are neither high nor low constitute the middle class. Taking the last interpretation of middle class I see that there are many martially-minded or intellectual workers in society whose incomes are far less than those of the proletariat-minded workers doing physical labor. If anybody takes exception to this appellation of middle class, or if anybody insists that middle class means those whose incomes are neither more nor less, and so the pioneers of revolution – the martially-minded or the intellectual workers – may or may not be middle class, I am ready to use the term discontented or disgruntled workers, instead of middle class, for the revolutionary workers. This disgruntled worker society, is the eye sore of the tyrannical capitalists. Actually the capitalists are not afraid of labor unrest, they are afraid of the labor leaders, these disgruntled workers.

Constitutionally the capitalists like democracy, for in a democratic set-up they easily buy off the proletariat-minded workers by force of money. Numerically these proletariat-minded workers are in the majority. At the time of election it is easy to sail across the election-styx after exhorting them with a mouthful of tall talks and promises. Thereafter no harm, even if they forget all about their tall promises, for the proletariat- minded workers themselves easily forget all about them. It can be asserted with emphasis that if, in any of the countries, only the educated people had been given voting rights instead of the general adult franchise, the administrative or state structures of most of the democratic countries would have played quite a different tune. If the voting rights had remained in the hands of the moralists only, there would have been no difference at all between the world of reality and the heaven of imagination. The condition of the middle class people, the disgruntled workers, is miserable in most of the countries having a capitalistic social system and democratic structure. The reason is that these are the people who are the greatest critics of capitalism and the greatest opponents of capitalistic exploitation. The numerical growth of such disgruntled workers is indeed prognostic of or presages a potential proletariat revolution. Therefore those who want an exploitation-free world should help in maximizing the number of these disgruntled workers. Their extinction or their transformation into proletariat-minded workers is detrimental to revolution.

All the moralists of the world should be alert and vigilant so that the number of these disgruntled workers does not diminish as the result of unemployment problems, birth control or other different practices and policies. Revolution means a great change. For a change to come or to bring about a change, it is not that bloodshed is inevitable. But then if the majority of the disgruntled workers be martially- minded or if their martial influence be dominant, revolution indeed comes through sanguinary clashes. It cannot, however, be emphatically said that, without bloodshed or intellectual clashes, a revolution cannot come. Bloodless revolution is only possible if the number and influence of the intellectuals among the disgruntled workers be very great. But we cannot expect the last named possibility and so it has to be said that the popular emancipation, in most cases, is blood-soaked. Some claim that they are capable of bringing in socialism or universalism or mass emancipation through democratic methods. On the whole the fundamental policy of the welfare state is also the same.

The disgruntled workers who take the leadership of the proletariat revolution are imbued with martial qualities with regard to courage, dynamism and strength of mind to take the risks and hazards of life. After the proletariat revolution the leadership of society indeed comes to these disgruntled workers, when their martial qualities come into prominence still more conspicuously and vigorously. In the post-revolutionary era they should no longer be called the disgruntled workers. At such a stage they become the martial class of the second social cycle. Those that keep vigilant eyes on these militants, lest they land in the role of exploiters subsequently, are indeed the moral, virtuous and undaunted fighters – the sadvipras. If the militants take to exploitation, the moralists shall fight against them and establish the intellectual era in the second phase of the social cycle. Then again if the intellectuals take to exploitation, the moralists shall fight against the intellectuals and pave the way for the capitalist era of the second social cycle. Afterwards, if the capitalists take to exploitation or want to play the role of exploiters, then these moralists shall incite and inspire disgruntled workers and bring about proletariat revolution for the second time.

So the social cycle shall go on and on. None can stop this rotation. If we call the post-revolution martial era the thesis, then the counter-step, taken by moralists against the militants disposed to exploitation, we shall call the antithesis and resultant indication of post-revolution intellectual era following this fight, the synthesis. Later on if the intellectuals take to exploitation, the counter-move then taken by the moralists against them will be known as the antithesis, and so at that time instead of calling the post-martial intellectual era synthesis, we may call it the thesis of the next phase. None, not even the moralists, can stop the rotation of the social cycle. The moralists, established in the central hub of the social cycle, shall be alert and awake, keeping a vigilant eye on the process of rotation. After the martial era will come the intellectual era and after the intellectual era will begin the capitalist era, and then proletariat revolution – like this, one era will always follow another. The moralists cannot stop this process. But then they must be vigilant, so that after the establishment of the post-revolutiony martial era the militants may not take the role of exploiters but only govern the society as its guarantors. The moment the militants give indications of exploitation, the moralists shall immediately bring about the antithesis and thereby end the martial era. They shall take similar steps in the intellectual as well as the capitalist eras. That is to say, instead of letting the society drift towards natural evolution they shall facilitate social revolution as per necessity. Therefore the moralists shall have no rest, ever. Such a time will never come in the life of a moralist when he or she will relax in an armchair and say, “Ah, I have nothing to do today. Let me rest a while.”

In the first phase of the human history of the world, a moralist society has not yet formed itself. In most countries the last part of the first phase is on the move. Only in a few countries the post-revolutiony marital era has been established. At some places the intellectual era is just around the corner. In the absence of a moralist society the social cycle is moving on its natural round. In every age, government of the predominant class is being followed by exploitation and thereafter comes evolution or revolution. For want of moralists’ assistance, the foundation of human society is lacking firmness. Today, I extend my earnest request to all reasonable, virtuous and moral fighters that they form a good, well-disciplined moralists society without further delay. These moralists shall work for the good of all countries, for the all-round emancipation of all humanity. The downtrodden humanity of this disgraced world is looking up to the eastern horizon, awaiting their advent with earnest zeal and eagerness impatiently. Let the cimmerian darkness of the interlunar night disappear with their advance. Let humanity of the new day of the new sunrise wake up in the new world!

Excerpted from P.R. Sarkar, Human Society, Part Two
Copyright Ananda Marga Publication 2011

The Place of Spiritual Revolutionaries in the Social Cycle

P.R. Sarkar
Those spiritual revolutionaries who work to achieve progressive changes for human elevation on a well-thought, pre-planned basis, whether in the physical, metaphysical or spiritual sphere, by adhering to the principles of Yama and Niyama, are sadvipras.

The principles of Yama are ahiḿsá, satya, asteya, aparigraha and Brahmacarya. Ahiḿsá means not causing suffering to any harmless creature through thought, word or deed. Satya denotes action of mind or use of words with the object of helping others in the real sense. It has no relative application. Asteya means non-stealing, and this should not be confined to physical action but [extended] to the action of the mind as well. All actions have their origin in the mind, hence the correct sense of asteya is “to give up the desire of acquiring what is not rightly one’s own”. Aparigraha involves the non-acceptance of such amenities and comforts of life as are superfluous for the preservation of the physical existence. And the spirit of Brahmacarya is to experience His [the Supreme Entity’s] presence and authority in each and every physical and psychic objectivity. This occurs when the unit mind resonates with Cosmic will.

The five rules of Niyama are shaoca, santośa, tapah, svádhyáya and Iishvara prańidhána. Shaoca means purity of both physical and mental bodies. Mental purity is attained by benevolent deeds, charity, or other dutiful acts. Santośa means “contentment”. It implies accepting ungrudgingly and without a complaint the out-turn of the services rendered by one's own physical or mental labour. Tapah means efforts to reach the goal despite such efforts being associated with physical discomforts. Svádhyáya means study of the scriptures or other books of learning and assimilating their spirit. The whole universe is guided by the Supreme Entity, and nothing that one does or can do is without His specific command. Iishvara prańidhána is an auto-suggestion of the idea that each and every unit is an instrument in the hands of the Almighty and is a mere spark of that supreme fire. Iishvara prańidhána also implies implicit faith in Him irrespective of whether one lives in momentary happiness or sorrow, prosperity or adversity.(4)

Only those who by their nature adhere to the above ten commands in their normal and spiritual conduct are sadvipras. Such a morally- and spiritually-equipped sadvipra has to perform a fundamental and vital duty to society.

In the cycle of social evolution, during each age before it is succeeded by another age, one particular class enjoys the position of domination and superiority. Such a class, while in political power, has every chance of exploiting the society. History has shown that this is not mere chance, but has been repeating itself. Now the duty of the sadvipra is to see that the dominating class does not take recourse to exploitation. The four classes – shúdra, the toiling class; kśatriya, the warrior class; vipra, the intellectual class; and vaeshya, the capitalist class – have remained well defined in the cycle of human civilization, and the gradual domination and decline of each class shall continue to occur in this cycle.

Life is a dynamic principle, and the movement of the samája cakra continues without any break or pause. The cycle cannot be checked, as stagnation implies death. The function of a sadvipra shall, therefore, be to see that the dominating or the ruling classes do not have any scope for exploitation. The moment one class turn into exploiters, the life of the majority becomes miserable; a few enjoy at the cost of many whose lot is only to suffer. More than that, in such a state of society both the few and the many get degenerated. The few (exploiters) degenerate themselves due to [an] excess of physical enjoyments and the many (exploited) cannot elevate themselves, because all their energy is taken up in mundane problems and all their mental waves are always tending to attain psycho-physical parallelism, thus getting day by day cruder. Hence, for the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of the administrator and the administered of the society as a whole, it is essential that no one be given any scope to exploit the rest of the society.

Sadvipras are not inactive witnesses. They are active participants to see that no person or class exploits the rest. For this they may have to resort even to physical violence, because the sadvipras will have to strike at the source of the power [of the class] which is tending to become the exploiter. In case the warrior class are becoming exploiters, the sadvipras may have to resort to physical force, and in an age where the intellectual class are dominating, they will have to bring about a revolution in the intellectual field. In case the capitalists are dominating, the sadvipras may have to contest and win elections, because the capitalist class rules by democracy, and the democratic set-up enables them to accumulate undue gains.

Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2011