PROUT

PROUT
For a More Progressively Evolving Society

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Synopsis of PROUT

PROUT (an acronym for Progressive Utilization) is a socio-economic theory developed by Indian philosopher and social activist Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar in 1959, providing an alternative to both communism and capitalism.  PROUT rejects exploitation in all its forms and advocates economic democracy, based on the following guiding principles:

Minimum Essentials: The basic minimum essentials, such as, food, clothing, shelter, education and health, must be guaranteed to all members in the society as a fundamental constitutional right.  This means that it is the responsibility of a government and its economic system to provide job opportunities for all those who are capable of work.  These jobs must afford a purchasing capacity that secures the basic essentials to live in a given society.  PROUT supports welfare payments only for people with special needs or for those unable to work due to sickness or old age.

Purchasing Capacity: One of the most essential functions of the economic system is to continuously increase the purchasing capacity of every person in the economy.  Economic growth without increasing the purchasing capacity of a large section of the society is of no significance in PROUT’s economic system.

Inequality: People should be provided with opportunities to earn according to their talent and skills.  It is necessary to give higher incentives for more contribution to society.  However, highly unequal societies are detrimental for the social well-being of its people.  Therefore, inequality should be managed by maintaining a cap on wealth accumulation in proportion to the minimum earning capacity.  This is a dynamic ceiling that moves upward with the rise in minimum earnings and the fruits of economic progress are more widely distributed in PROUT's economic system.

Economic Democracy: PROUT’s conception of economic democracy strives for bestowing economic power to the people rather than capital owners or the state.  It envisages worker owned and managed co-operatives as the largest sector of the economy.  Nonetheless, PROUT accepts the role of private ownership of businesses, especially when they are small or simultaneously small and complex, and not involved in the essentialities of life of which should operate as cooperatives.  The role of state in managing key natural
resources is seen as desirable for the benefit of the wider economy.  However, local governments and local civic boards must be vested with as much power as possible for economic management of local resources and achieving both economic security and
full employment. 

Utilization and Distribution: The world’s resources should be utilized maximally for the benefit of the people and these resources should be justly distributed.  It is important to
note that maximum utilization does not mean indiscriminate exploitation of human and natural resources.  Utilization refers to proper use of sustainable and progressively scientific methods to serve the needs of society.

Types of Resources: PROUT recognizes all three types of resources, namely, physical, psychic and spiritual, and demands a balanced and well-adjusted utilization of all these resources for collective welfare.  For example, excessive focus on material development alone to the neglect of intellectual and spiritual needs of the people is considered detrimental for all-round welfare of the individual as well as the collective.

Progressive Utilization: The method of utilization is progressive.  It is dynamic and adjusts with changes in time, such as, the development of new scientific knowledge as well as changing social norms.


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Political Democracy can and will be fortuitous
when Economic Democracy is established.  

Explore this and other articles covering alternative economics, ethical leadership, economic democracy, and a society without the weal and woe of social and economic vicissitudes HERE  
How does PROUT compare or contrast with capitalism or communism?  Explore the answers HERE
What are essential ingredients assuring progressive sustainability bereft of the vicissitudes of economic or political predation, privation or disparity?  Learn more HERE 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Environmental Destruction and Pollution

It can be safely said that financial interests are for the most part responsible for environmental destruction.  Most advances in modern science create detrimental side effects which require considerable time and effort to understand, and then to minimize.  This corrective process is expensive and cuts into profits—resulting in great opposition from corporate elites to implementing new safety standards and methods of environmental protection.  This is especially problematic as the direction of science is largely determined by what these elites decide upon.  It is well know that independent research that strives to address environmental problems often has difficulty being funded, especially if the results might damage an existing industry.  Research into non-fossil fuel based automobile engines, for example, is certainly going on, but with a fraction of the resources poured into fossil fuel research.  Alternative energy in general (solar, wind, bio-gas, etc.) is researched but with only a fraction of the funding nuclear energy receives.

In PROUT the control of science would not be determined by profit seekers.  The large scale key industries would be run by the state on a "no profit no loss" basis, and research would be out of the hands of corporate interests.  Each locality will rely on whatever resources are naturally available or can be synthesized artificially.  In this case the “polluter pays” principle is not just a slogan, it cannot be avoided.

Essentially, pollution is beneficial for only a short time period.  Corporate profits are increased through throwing off negative side-effects onto the environment and society as a whole.  Eventually, however, the long term effects of raping and polluting the environment will require tremendous effort and resources to correct.  PROUT maintains that the calculations of profits must include not only the cost of production, distribution, labor, etc., but equally important, the environmental and social costs involved.  Social costs includes all factors that negatively affect the mental, physical and spiritual capacity of people immediately and into the future.  For instance, the trucking industry is uneconomical from the stand point of social costs.  Currently highway maintenance costs are not calculated, the environmental impact is not properly evaluated, the damage done by depleting the earth's oil reserves is not considered, and the health problems resulting from environmental pollution are not considered—not to mention traffic congestion, accidents and the mental and physical strain on the drivers and their families.  Although trucking allows faster delivery and thus greater profits, from the social perspective as a whole, the railway system would be a better alternative.

The concept of social costs is integrally related to the idea of environmental sustainability.  In agriculture especially, the costs of using chemicals far outweighs the alleged short term benefits.  Agricultural pollution resulting from pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc., would be reduced by decentralized agriculture using the techniques of integrated, ideal farming (see Chapter Four).  Agricultural research could then focus on sustainability as well as quality and efficiency.  Already there is indication from applied research that output can even be increased using advanced natural techniques—not to mention the increase in taste and nutritional value.

From the point of view of sustainable economic development, anything that reduces the productive capacity of the earth and destroys the health of human beings and other life forms is definitely to be avoided.  Yet this is the path of the so-called global economy.  In capitalism, the quest for short term gain usually overrides consideration for the future.  It has been stated by scientists in international conferences, such as the Earth Summit, that the global economy is destroying ecologies at a rate of a thousand times faster than they can reproduce.  It has also been predicted that given the current rate of destruction, it will destroy the planet’s life support systems—ozone, breathable air, arable soil, potable water and the forests—in about fifty years.  It is therefore a life and death matter to reduce the economic decision-making powers of the corporate elites.  They have ignored repeatedly the considerations of the general welfare and they will continue to do so without governments and people intervening to curb their efforts.  



Political Democracy can and will be fortuitous
when Economic Democracy is established.  

Explore this and other articles covering alternative economics, ethical leadership, economic democracy, and a society without the weal and woe of social and economic vicissitudes HERE  
How does PROUT compare or contrast with capitalism or communism?  Explore the answers HERE
What are essential ingredients assuring progressive sustainability bereft of the vicissitudes of economic or political predation, privation or disparity?  Learn more HERE 

Friday, August 12, 2011

What is PROUT?

PROUT is an acronym for Progressive Utilization Theory, a socio-economic philosophy that synthesizes the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of human nature. The goal of PROUT is to provide guidance for the evolution of a truly progressive human society.

PROUT is an alternative to the outmoded capitalist and communist socio-economic paradigms. Neither of these approaches have adequately met the physical, mental and spiritual needs of humanity. PROUT seeks a harmonious balance between economic growth, social development, environmental sustainability, and between individual and collective interests. Combining the wisdom of spirituality with a universal outlook and the struggle for self-reliance, proutist thinkers and activists are creating a new civilizational discourse and planting the seeds for a new way of living.

A few basic tenets of PROUT:

Spirituality and Progress

Human beings are on an evolutionary path toward realizing their higher consciousness. True progress is movement that leads to self-realization and spiritual qualities such as compassion and love for all beings. Material or intellectual gains do not necessarily constitute progress unless they contribute to deeper, spiritual well-being.

The progressive orientation of society is maintained by making continual adjustments in the use of physical resources and mental potentialities in accordance with spiritual and Neo-humanistic values. Human beings are encouraged to construct economic and social institutions to facilitate the attainment of our highest potentialities.

Economic Democracy

Political democracy and economic democracy are mutually inclusive. PROUT advocates economic democracy based on local economic planning, cooperatively managed businesses, local governmental control of natural resources and key industries, and socially agreed upon limits on the individual accumulation of wealth. By decentralizing the economy and making sure decision-making is in the hands of local people, we can ensure the adequate availability of food, shelter, clothing, health care and education for all.

A decentralized economy can better ensure that the ecological systems of the earth are not exploited beyond their capacity to renew themselves. Environmental stewardship is a requisite for people who are dependent upon these systems for their own survival and well-being.

Basic Necessities Guaranteed to All

The basic necessities of life must be รก constitutional birth right of all members of society. People cannot attain their highest human potential if they lack food, shelter, clothing, health care and education. Meaningful employment with a living wage must be planned to ensure adequate purchasing capacity for all basic necessities. The standard of guaranteed minimum necessities should advance with increases in the economy's productive capacity.

Leadership

For a benevolent society, it is essential that leaders are morally principled and dedicated to serving society as part of their personal progress. Authority should not be centred in the hands of individuals, but should be expressed through collective leadership. The viability of political democracy rests on an electorate possessing three factors: 

 education,
 socio-economic consciousness,
 ethical integrity.

Freedom

Individuals should have complete freedom to acquire and express their ideas, creative potential and inner aspirations. Such intellectual and spiritual freedom will strengthen the collectivity. Restrictions should only be placed on actions clearly detrimental to the welfare of others. Constraints need to be placed on the accumulation of physical wealth, as excessive accumulation by a few results in the deprivation of many.

Cultural Diversity

In the spirit of universal fellowship, PROUT encourages the protection and cultivation of local culture, language, history and tradition. For social justice and a healthy social order, individual and cultural diversity must be accepted and encouraged.

Women's Rights

PROUT encourages the struggle against all forms of violence and exploitation used to suppress women. PROUT's goal is coordinated cooperation, with equal rights between men and 3women. PROUT seeks the economic, social and spiritual empowerment of women throughout the world.

Science and Technology

Scientific knowledge and technology are potential assets to humanity. Through their proper use the physical hardships of life decreases, and knowledge is gained about life’s secrets.

Time is freed for cultural and spiritual pursuits. However, the development and utilization of scientific knowledge must come under the guidance of spiritual and Neo-humanist values and ethical leadership. Without this, technology is often abused by profiteers and the power-hungry, resulting in destruction and exploitation.

World Government

PROUT supports the creation of a world governance system having a global bill of rights, global constitution and common penal code in order to guarantee the fundamental rights of all individuals and nations, and to settle regional and international disputes. As the global economy becomes decentralized, it will be advantageous to also have a global political system.  


Political Democracy can and will be fortuitous
when Economic Democracy is established.  

Explore this and other articles covering alternative economics, ethical leadership, economic democracy, and a society without the weal and woe of social and economic vicissitudes HERE  
How does PROUT compare or contrast with capitalism or communism?  Explore the answers HERE
What are essential ingredients assuring progressive sustainability bereft of the vicissitudes of economic or political predation, privation or disparity?  Learn more HERE 

Progressive Continuity of PROUT

A theory is an exposition of the general principles that govern some aspect of life. Hence, every theory must have a function. Generally speaking, that function may be either explanatory or practical, though in fact any successful theory must necessarily be both. True knowledge is always both useful and usable information.

As PROUT is a socioeconomic theory, its purpose is to facilitate the happiness and welfare of all. The Five Fundamental Principles of PROUT embody both the practical and theoretical essence of this theory.

In a nutshell, the theory is that an ideal society makes progressive utilization of everything. Though the concept of progressive utilization sounds obvious, its implications require some amplification. Hence, the theory is broken down into five fundamental principles.

Each of the principles enlarges on the preceding principles. In other words, Principle 2 becomes practical only after applying Principle 1. Principle 3 becomes practical only after applying Principles 1 and 2. In this way, each successive principle not only adds insight into the theory of progressive utilization, but it also adds dimensions to the principles that precede it.

We may liken the practical aspects of PROUT to a lotus flower having five layers of petals. The outermost layer corresponds to the first principle, and the innermost layer corresponds to the fifth principle.

The Five Fundamental Principles of PROUT are:

1. There should be no accumulation of wealth without the permission of society.

2. There should be maximum utilization and rational distribution of the crude, subtle, and causal resources.

3. There should be maximum utilization of the physical, mental, and spiritual potentialities of the individual and collective beings.

4. There should be a proper adjustment among the crude, subtle, and causal utilizations.

5. Utilizations vary in accordance with time, space, and form; the utilizations should be of a progressive nature.