This past month I have been staying with an Ananda Marga nun in her master unit Ananda Vasundhara. Living off a plant-based diet (but mainly avocados and bananas from the trees around us), practising yoga and meditation, weeding and seeding the vegetable garden, visiting waterfalls and learning about an entirely new philosophy and economic system… My attitude and worldview have irreversibly shifted. PROUT, or Progressive Utilization Theory finally offered me a hopeful approach towards the future by integrating clear notions that most of us find so obvious and basic that they appear as a utopia in this corrupt, complex, capitalist society. As a Proutist, I now feel more enthusiastic when political and economic debates arise, more trusting of our potential to fix our current situation and more determined to make sure we do so through positive action. My confidence in the importance of taking small steps is strengthened as I write this article, hoping it will help increase awareness, debates and concrete reactions.
In his book Economic Democracy, early in 1959, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar outlined a Neohumanist economic system that can ensure equal access and availability of food, housing, clothing, education and health; thereby progressively increasing the well-being and happiness of all. Once these basic human necessities are attained, each of us can dedicate oneself to one’s passions, to expressing creativity and to deepening the meaning of existence by re-entering in contact with one’s spirituality.
During my first couple of weeks on the farm, I dedicated almost all my afternoons to an enchanted read into After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action
by the monk Dada Maheshvarananda who is currently imprisoned. Here, PROUT is re-explained in an updated interpretation relevant to the latest world disasters and developments.
In the PROUT model, cooperatives play the central role in the attainment of a democratic economy. Today, although cooperatives are rarely mentioned, 1 billion of the world’s population is a member of such a sharing-based production system which, in addition, has 20% higher employment than multinational companies and far lower risk exposure. Such facts are just one of the many proofs against the capitalist claim that human nature is competitive. In fact, science since Darwin has shown that nature, first of all, is cooperative, where animals and elements cohabit to avoid competition and its inevitable consequences, such as waste and poverty.
Sarkar’s theory goes much further in his positivistic and hopeful vision for a better future. The vision is of a world government ruled by spiritual leaders, or savipras represented independently of any political parties. Great, aware, humble, strong, wise, and everything you want individuals, developed in all of the four mental cores or varnas that determine mankind and its history: workers, warriors, intellectuals and entrepreneurs. In his envisioning social spiral, Sarkar illustrates human history across these four traits, showing that all humans are capable of training in all spheres (for instance through social work, team efforts, meditation or academics and entrepreneurship) to maximize positivity.
In the proutist vision, nation-states would be substituted by self-sufficient social, economic and cultural geographical regions protecting human rights and maximizing efficiency for sustenance; planning would be decentralized in local scale agricultural and industrial cooperatives where each member has a say in its work, thereby exercising direct democratic rights. Money would still exist as a local currency, but the most trade would take place through barter between regions in proximity to each-other to share basic products for subsistence.
This and much more has come to me as a breath of fresh air, also bringing disappointment in my education and social environment for not having allowed this information to reach me before. Although this vision has been around for over 50 years, very few people have even heard of it, simply because it represents a threat to the status-quo. Sarkar himself was imprisoned by the Indian government under false allegations, and until today his spiritual organization is considered a top terrorist organization in India. Simply, such a graspable and positive world vision, given with the right media has the potential to call attention and approval of all the sane and righteous people of this planet, posing in real danger governments, multinationals and their quite opposite agendas for the future of humanity and their wallets.
This 1% of the world interests can be alienated by us, today we have the means to spread awareness, mobilize and expect with one click. So read the books, share the knowledge and discuss some action! Or, stop complaining about abuses, inflation, injustice, inequality, exploitation, and all that other shit that leaves us strolling down our Facebook page we fall into depression.