Capitalism and communism are the two main eco-political philosophies to have shaped collective life in the past century and profoundly affect the lives of almost everyone on the planet today. PROUT offers a comprehensive alternative to these outworn exploitive philosophies.
Given below is a brief comparison between PROUT, capitalism, and communism.
Human Development. Human development under communism has been primarily concerned with the political and economic spheres of life. Under capitalism there is a pluralistic expression of personal freedom, with no clear conception of human potentialities. PROUT promotes the integrated development of the full human personality.
Liberty. Human liberty under communism was limited by the primacy of the interests of the state. Under capitalism, a licentious freedom of expression is permitted, but not a freedom from want and material insecurity. In practice, capitalist societies may restrict freedom of expression when this expression challenges the interests of capital. PROUT grants full freedom of psychic and spiritual expression, while recognizing the need for society to place limits on individual hoarding of wealth. Without this limitation, collective interests can be violated and universal freedom from want cannot be guaranteed.
Privileged interests. Communism privileged the interests of the party and the state. Capitalism gives primacy to individual property rights, privileging of the class that controls capital. PROUT seeks to guarantee the welfare of all and fully develop the potentialities of all; it privileges universal human well-being as the anchor by which values are developed.
Progress. Both communism and capitalism regard material development as the basis of progress. PROUT regards the increase in inner fulfillment of individuals to be the basis of progress. While this is primarily a spiritual conceptualization of progress, PROUT recognizes that material development is an important foundation for spiritual progress, one that when compromised, as in communism and capitalism, disintegrates spiritual and social development for all.
Culture. Communism compelled culture to be consistent with the state ideology. Under capitalism, mass culture serves commercial interests; it is creative but not authentic, energetic but destructive of subtler values. PROUT recognizes the need for strong cultures to emerge out of regional and ethnic experience, and for these cultures to instill values which give vitality to human psyche.
Incentives. Communism emphasized income equality at the expense of individual productivity. Capitalism's system of incentives motivates high productivity, but in the excess of its rewards it wastes collective wealth, encourages greed, and undermines social unity. PROUT strives to maximize incentive while minimizing social inequality.
Environment. Both communism and capitalism lack any clear value context for environmental protection. PROUT adheres to the principle of NeoHumanism, which recognizes the inherent existential value of all life. Communism and capitalism also find it difficult to restrict environmental abuse because both emphasize short-term efficiency and ignore long term costs of environmental degradation. PROUT's planning system emphasizes a sustainable approach to development.
Planning. Under communism, economic planning was highly centralized and controlled by the state. Capitalism centralizes the major part of economic planning in the hands of huge corporate interests. PROUT decentralizes planning authority to a level at which people are most aware of economic problems and potentialities, and therefore best able to plan for their common welfare.
Labor. Laborers in both communism and capitalism are severely alienated, as they have no ownership or control of their workplace. PROUT's system of enterprise provides for worker participation in decision making and cooperative ownership of assets—conditions which improve motivation and create a better environment for personal fulfillment.
Economy. Communism's command economy emphasized production; capitalism's free market economy is profit motivated. PROUT's economy is consumption oriented—it aims to assure purchasing power and availability of consumer goods so that peoples' needs can be adequately met.
Note about "Brute Force"
In order to make people "magnanimous" and "virtuous" through the application of brute force, individual liberty has to be ruthlessly crushed. Total power has to be concentrated in the hands of a particular group or party, and under these circumstances there is no alternative but to deny one's special value as a human being. To recognize people's value would only invite trouble, because then people would have to be granted freedom to express their opinions, or at least the right to demonstrate that their opinions are beneficial for society. And if this is accepted, it will have to be indirectly accepted that it is unjust to suppress human beings through brute force. If this is conceded, then the so-called communism which took so much effort to establish would be jeopardized as a result. Within a short time the group or party in whose hands the power was concentrated would be ousted by the collective psychic and spiritual efforts of the masses who had newly attained freedom. That is why neither Gandhism, nor the so-called communism which is based on brute force, can bring about human welfare.
Note about Capitalist Era in Social Cycle
When people use their intellects over a long period of time solely to accumulate material wealth, their intellects, because they have inculcated this sort of thought in their mental bodies, gradually develop in that direction. In other words, "How can I accumulate more?" ultimately becomes their only thought. Their social spirit and sense of humanity gradually disappear until eventually they become total blood-sucking leeches. They do not retain even the tiniest scrap of humanity.
At the beginning of the Capitalist Age some social spirit still exists in them alongside the desire to make money. Whatever their motive may be, the capitalists do sometimes spend generously on social service and charitable activities, but by the end of the Capitalist Age they lose even the last vestiges of social consciousness, and as a result of their foolhardiness worker revolution occurs. At the beginning of the Capitalist Age the capitalists use their money-making intellect both for social service and for accumulating money, and in these matters they take advice from other members of society. But by the end of the Capitalist Age they become so irresponsible due to the intoxication of accumulation that they are not prepared to take advice from anyone. They use their money-making intellect solely to exploit society.
“Communism perceives people as workers, Capitalism perceives them as consumers, while Prout perceives people as humans with physical, mental and spiritual dimension; all of which have needs that have to be met for a healthy, progressive society to prosper in every realm of life.”