Sixth Principle of Economic Democracy

6) The sixth requirement for economic democracy is the local people must be employed in local economic enterprises. Unless the local people are fully employed in the local economy, unemployment can never be solved. Local people should determine the quantum of minimum requirements and the basic policies connected with their own economic well-being. If this principle is followed the problem of outside interference in the local economy will not arise at all.

Cooperatives will provide employment for local people, and also ensure that the skills and expertise of the local people are fully utilized. Educated people should also be employed in cooperatives so that they do not leave the local area in search of employment or move from the countryside to the cities.

For the development of agriculture there is a great need for specialists and technicians, so cooperatives will have to train unskilled rural people so that they can acquire the necessary skills to develop the agricultural sector. In addition, all types of agro-industries and agrico-industries will have to be developed according to the needs and resources of the local area, and these industries should be managed as cooperatives.

Commentary:  There can be no economic democracy if outside labourers come to take away the jobs. Rich countries like America exploit poor countries like Mexico and Honduras and destroy their economy and make their governments kill those who resist. Then these victims cross the border into America where they are exploited by working for very low wages. This also helps the American exploiters. However it is the common people of both countries who suffer. When the wealth of rich countries comes from robbing poor countries, then the people of poor countries have every right to go to the rich country to earn by hard, honest labour a very tiny portion of the money stolen from their own country. However there are other cases where labourers from one strong but impoverished country come to a poor land and then seize the jobs causing even greater poverty for the native people.

So economic and military imperialism at the district (bhukti), regional (samaja) and national level must be eliminated, while at the same time people create a local economic democracy is built up at the block (sub-district) level. In building a new economy the foremost principle is that, there should be 100% employment for the local people. The basic right of all people is to be guaranteed the minimum essentials for their existence, including at least proper food, clothing, housing, education and medical care. This basic right should be arranged through cent percent guaranteed employment, not through welfare or dole-outs. Unemployment is a critical economic problem in the world today and 100% employment of the local people is the only way to solve this problem.

As we have seen, local people are defined as those who have merged individual socio-economic interests with the socio-economic interests of the socio-economic unit they live in. The primary consideration is whether or not people have merged their individual interests with their socio-economic unit, regardless of their colour, creed, race, mother tongue, birthplace, etc. Those who earn their livelihood in a particular socio-economic unit but spend their earnings in another socio-economic unit should be considered as outsiders or non-local people, as this practice is not in accordance with the interests of the socioeconomic unit in which they are employed. It results in the drainage of the capital necessary for the continued growth of that unit and undermines its economic development.

A floating population of migrant workers will have to either merge its individual socio-economic interests with the interests of the region or return to its own region. They will have to adopt the local language, and heritage while preserving and mingling it with their own language and traditions. Those who share a similar cultural legacy and uniform socio-economic potential will then be well-established in each region. In every region, socio-economic problems can be solved by the maximum utilization and rational distribution of the resources and potentialities in that region

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

To create 100% employment among local people, PROUT supports both a short term and a long term economic plan. In the short term plan, labour intensive industries based on the collective minimum requirements of life should be started immediately or made more productive where they already exist. These industries should be based on the consumption motive. They should also provide a rational profit in order to guarantee adequate purchasing capacity to those employed in them and to ensure their continued existence and growth. In North Bihar, for example, where there is virtually no industry, all kinds of agrico and agro-industries can be developed to alleviate the unemployment problem there.

In the long term plan, capital intensive industries should also be developed to increase the productive capacity of the socioeconomic unit. PROUT advocates a three-tiered economic structure, that is, small scale privately owned businesses, medium scale cooperatives and large scale key industries managed by the immediate [district, subdistrict, village] government. Such an economic structure should be based on the principles of self-reliance, maximum utilization, rational distribution, decentralization, rationalization (mechanization of more and more work carried out by workers) and progressive increases in the standard of living of all people. Through the never ending creation of new industries, new products and new production techniques incorporating the latest scientific discoveries, the vitality of the economy can be increased. As part of the long term economic plan, working hours may also be progressively reduced to maintain full employment.

It is incorrect to say that rationalization is the root cause of the unemployment problem. Such propaganda is carried out by leaders having little knowledge of socio-economic philosophy. The question of unemployment arises only in the capitalistic framework where industry is for profit. In the collective economic structure, where industry stands for consumption and not for profit, the question of unemployment does not arise. Here the number of labourers will not be lessened; rather the working hours will be reduced and the remaining hours will be used in mental and spiritual pursuits. The reduction in the working hours depends not only on yield, but on the demand for commodities and the availability of labour.

It is desirable that the management of industrial, agricultural, trade and commercial enterprises not be in the hands of the central government or the world government (after the establishment of the world government). If it is, the common people will not get the direct or even the indirect opportunity to participate in the management of these enterprises. In such cases capitalists, opportunists or self-seeking politicians can easily take control of them and misappropriate public wealth.

To solve the unemployment problem in both the short and long term there must be an accurate understanding of the surplus and deficit manual and intellectual labour trends. In India, for example, there is surplus manual labour in North Bihar, which is based upon an agricultural economy, and surplus intellectual labour in Calcutta. In both places there is high unemployment. In most of the countries of the world where there is high unemployment, there is surplus manual labour. So manual labour intensive industries are required to create employment. In some instances where deficit labour exists for an expanding industry, retraining programs may equip workers with the necessary skills for employment.

Another way to help solve unemployment, especially in rural communities, is the utilization of plants for economic self-reliance. All socio-economic units have the potential to increase their plant and crop varieties by properly matching these with the soil, topography and climatic conditions etc. in their units. Reforestation can reclaim arid and semi-arid regions, and some unique plants like the Puranica or fern, which has the capacity to attract clouds, can help radically transform the rainfall and weather patterns of a region. Agro- and agrico-industries based upon the productive potential of different plants can also help solve rural unemployment by creating a range of new goods and services. There are many dimensions to this revolutionary plant rationalization program, which is also a practical expression of the ideals of Neohumanism.

PROUT’s opinion is that local people must have first priority in employment opportunities. As long as there is not full employment for local people, continuous efforts must be made until all local labour is fully employed. In addition, no fresh developmental programmes will be started until there is further demand for labour. Scandinavian countries did not commence any new development schemes for this reason.

While creating employment for the local people, consideration must be given to local sentiments. For instance, many areas of India are regions of surplus intellectual labour. People in this category are ready to work as clerks for the very low wage of thirty rupees a month, but they are not prepared to work as porters and earn more money. The problem of surplus intellectual labour is a special one and should be solved in a proper way. In these areas industries which require less manual labour should be established. Thus, different development schemes will have to be adopted in different socio-economic units depending upon time, place and person.

The problem of a floating population and immigrant labour will not occur in the cooperative system, as cooperative members will have to be local people. Floating labourers should have no right to be cooperative members – migratory birds have no place in cooperatives – as they can disturb a whole economy. Howrah District, for example, produces sufficient crops in a season to feed the local people for seventeen months, but due to immigrant labour the produce is consumed in six and a half months. The elimination of the floating population will also protect the social life of the cooperative from the possibility of adverse social influences.

In the cooperative system unemployment will be solved. As production increases the need for more facilities and resources will also increase. Educated people can be employed as skilled workers. There will also be a need for tractor drivers, labourers and cultivators, and cooperative members will naturally do this work. Village people will not need to move to the cities for employment. In the cooperative system there should be no compulsory age for superannuation. People should be free to work as long as they like, providing their health permits.

In fact, the use of advanced scientific technology means rapid mechanization. Conservative people vociferously criticize this mechanization. Actually, such mechanization within a capitalistic structure inevitably brings more misery, in the form of unemployment, to the common people. That is why conservative people oppose it.

Those who want to promote public welfare without antagonizing capitalism will have to oppose mechanization. This is because when the productive capacity of machinery is doubled, the required human labour is decreased by half, so the capitalists retrench large numbers of workers from their factories. A few optimists may say, “Under circumstantial pressure other ways will be found to employ these surplus labourers in different jobs, and the very effort to find these alternatives will accelerate scientific advancement, so the ultimate result of mechanization under capitalism is, in fact, good.” This view, though not useless, has no practical value, because it is not possible to arrange new jobs for retrenched workers as quickly as they become surplus labourers due to rapid mechanization. Surplus labourers are ruined, bit by bit, due to poverty and hunger. A few among them try to keep body and soul together by resorting to petty theft, armed robbery, profligacy and other sorts of antisocial activities, but this situation is certainly not desirable.

In a collective economic system there is no scope for such an unhealthy situation; in this system mechanization will lead to less labour and more prosperity. With the double increase in the productivity of machines, the working hours of labourers will be reduced by half. Of course, the reduction in working hours will have to be determined keeping in view the demand for commodities and the availability of labour.

In a collective economic system the benevolent use of science will bring about human welfare. It is possible that as a result of mechanization no one will be required to work for more than five minutes a week. Not always being preoccupied with the problems of acquiring food, clothing, etc., people’s psychic and spiritual potentialities will no longer be wasted. They will be able to devote ample time to such activities as sports, literary pursuits and spiritual practices. This as we have seen was part and parcel of the mission of PROUT principles and is the secondary category of the new science of Psycho-economics. One of the founding principles or aphorisms of PROUT explains how these talents of people are utilised.

“Sthúlasúkśma kárańo’payogáh susantulitáh vidheyáh.
[There should be a proper adjustment amongst these physical, metaphysical, mundane, supramundane and spiritual utilizations.]
Purport: While promoting individual and collective welfare, there should be proper adjustment among the physical, mental and spiritual spheres and the crude, subtle and causal worlds. For instance, society has the responsibility to meet the minimum requirements of every individual, but if it arranges food and builds a house for everyone under the impetus of this responsibility, individual initiative is retarded. People will gradually become lethargic. Therefore, society has to make arrangements so that people, in exchange for their labour according to their capacity, can earn the money they require to purchase the minimum requirements. In order to raise the level of the minimum requirements of people, the best policy is to increase their purchasing capacity.

“Proper adjustment” also means that while taking service from a person who is physically, mentally and spiritually developed, society should follow a balanced policy. Society will take physical, intellectual or spiritual service from a person depending upon which of these capacities is conspicuously developed in that person. From those who are sufficiently physically and intellectually developed, society will follow a balanced policy and accordingly take more intellectual service and less physical service, because intellectual power is comparatively subtle and rare. From those who are physically, mentally and spiritually developed, society will take maximum spiritual service, less intellectual service and still less physical service.

“As far as social welfare is concerned, those endowed with spiritual power can render the greatest service, followed by those endowed with intellectual power. Those having physical power, though not negligible, cannot do anything by themselves. Whatever they do, they do under the instructions of those endowed with intellectual and spiritual power. Hence the responsibility of controlling the society should not be in the hands of those who are endowed only with physical power, or in the hands of those endowed only with courage, or in the hands of those who are developed only intellectually, or in the hands of those with worldly knowledge alone. Social control will have to be in the hands of those who are spiritually elevated, intelligent and brave all at the same time.”

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