Economic Democracy

P.R. Sarkar
Nature has been kind enough to provide abundant natural resources to every region of this earth, but she has not given the guidelines on how to distribute these resources among the members of society. This duty has been left to the discretion and intelligence of human beings.

Those who are guided by dishonesty, selfishness and mean-mindedness misappropriate these resources and utilize them for their individual or group interests rather than for the welfare of the whole society.

The mundane resources are limited, but human longings are limitless, hence for all the members of society to live in peace and prosperity, human beings have to adopt a system, which ensures the maximum utilization and rational distribution of all resource. For this, human beings will have to establish themselves in morality and then create a congenial environment for morality to flourish.

Economic decentralization means production for consumption, not production for profit. Economic decentralization is not possible under capitalism because capitalist production always tries to maximize profit.

Capitalists invariably produce at the lowest costs and sell at the highest profits. They prefer centralized production, which leads to regional economic disparity and imbalances in the distribution of the population. On the other hand, in the decentralized economy of PROUT, production is for consumption, and the minimum requirements of life will be guaranteed to all. All regions will get ample scope to develop their economic potentiality, so the problems of a floating population or over-crowding in urban centers will not arise.

Unless a country attains optimum development in industry and other sectors of the economy, it is impossible for it to be highly developed. If more than 30% to 45% of a country’s population is engaged in agriculture, there will be excessive pressure on the land. Such a country cannot become highly developed, nor can there be balanced, decentralized development in all sectors of the economy. India is a classic example of this. About 75% of India’s population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood.

In some democratic countries like Canada, Australia, etc., a large percentage of the population is engaged in agriculture, and although these countries are regarded as agriculturally developed, they depend on other industrially developed countries because they themselves are industrially undeveloped. For instance, Canada has traditionally been dependent on the U.S.A. and Australia on Britain.

As far as India is concerned, as long as around 75% of the population is engaged in agriculture, the unbearable economic plight of the people will continue. Any country confronted with such circumstances will find it very difficult to meet its domestic and international responsibilities. The purchasing power of the people will keep decreasing while economic disparity will go on increasing. The social, economic and political environment of the whole country will degenerate. India is a clear example of all these evils.

Thus, economic decentralization does not mean that the majority of the population will be dependent on agriculture for their livelihood or that the other sectors of the economy remain undeveloped. Rather, each sector of the economy must strive for maximum development, and all sectors must strive for maximum decentralization.

In all the democratic countries of the world, economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals and groups. In liberal democracies, economic power is controlled by a handful of capitalists, while in socialist countries, economic power is concentrated in a small group of party leaders. In both cases, a handful of people — the number can be easily counted on the fingertips — manipulates the economic welfare of the entire society. When economic power is vested in the hands of the people, then the supremacy of this group of leaders will be terminated, and political parties will be destroyed forever.

People will have to opt for either political democracy or economic democracy. That is, they will have to choose a socio-economic system based on either a centralized economy or a decentralized economy. Which one will they select?

Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2011

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