A turning point in life (PROUT’s economic democracy)
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
One of the main concerns of Ananda Marga’s Progeressive Utilization Theory (PROUT) is economic democracy. There can be no “real” democracy if people are not economically empowered. That they should have enough purchasing capacity so they could live a decent life. While it should also happen in juxtaposition with proper education that would be a different story and we will come to that next week.
Economic empowerment of the people necessitates preventing the inequitable distribution of wealth. Physical wealth or economic resources are limited or finite. If a few families or clans have a very big slice of the economic cake of the nation, then the vast majority will have to divide among themselves the small leftover. They will just have morsels not even enough for their families to have three decent meals a day.
A few families of tycoons in this country control about 80% of the nation’s wealth (if memory serves) and the other 100 million Filipinos, that include you and me, divide among themselves the 20% left. Poor us.
But that is how things will always turn out in a capitalistic democracy. There will be a few families who will amass or control most of the wealth. Remember what Imelda said? “Some are smarter than others.”
Even China which is now a “capitalistic communist” country, has the same problem. The richest man in Asia is a Chinese. He just overtook another Chinese, Jack Ma, and another multi-billionaire compatriot.
Such an eventuality cannot happen in a PROUTISTIC set-up where businesses will be owned by the people through cooperatives. Even agricultural enterprises so they could have economies of scale that will make them economically viable. Thus, the members will divide the profits. That is economic empowerment. But small private businesses like sari-sari stores that can be run by families on their own will be allowed. Likewise, small agricultural holdings will be allowed that individual families could run on their own would also be allowed to be individually owned.
How will such cooperatives be different from electric cooperatives here in the Philippines which are being manipulated by those running it in cooperation with officials of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) such that the so-called co-op members actually don’t have any share from the profits?
This is where the emphasis of PROUT on the requirement of a moral leadership comes in. Without a leadership of staunch moralists, no philosophy or ideology, no matter how good can result in a just society. Somehow the leaders will get corrupted and then exploit the people through chicanery or by force.
What would be the moralist leaders? They would be those whose personal goals in life are to achieve spiritual development, who only need the basic economic requirements and whose happiness are satisfied only by spiritual activities like meditation (intense and extended prayer) and serving or helping the needy as part of their spiritual calling, to achieve spiritual elevation or to be close to the Lord. Or even to be one with Him.
Such leaders would even be beyond Plato’s “Philosopher King” who is only intellectually and physically developed. The moralist leaders as envisioned by PROUT must have all the attributes of the Philosopher King plus being spiritualists who will have no interest for economic wealth, political power or prestige, but will be competent in dealing with the political wielders of such, particularly those who will misuse it like the exploiters of the people. In short, they will be competent in dealing with worldly matters for the welfare of the people, but their personal interest would be for their spiritual elevation.
We mentioned earlier that businesses will be run as cooperatives so the people would be part owners and would share with the profits, but how about the key industries which are vital or strategic to the national interest? These will have to be run by the government. With the moralist leaders breathing down the necks of those managing these who must be competent and efficient, the risk of corruption would be very rare.
So the success of a PROUTISTIC society is the existence of a good number, a critical mass, of moralist leaders who could rise up to the occasion whenever a group or personalities of exploiters would try to manipulate the system for their selfish interests, or to abuse the masses.
That is the big difference compared to how things are today. The tycoons in the Philippines practically control the key industries making the government practically under their beck and call.
Sure there are some rants against them by the President every now and then, but the bottom line is they are actually in control of the country and its economy.
How about you and me? We are breaking our heads on how to satisfy our economic needs tomorrow, or the next week or month.
We’ll try to get into more details on these and other parts of the organization’s philosophy as we go along.
Presently, how is the organization trying to implement these? All over the world, its members are coming up with master units or communities where they are implementing on the ground its socio-economic and political philosophy.
For instance, it was able to create several such communities in Brazil. How pervasive is its implementation? It can be gleaned from the fact that the country now has 30 million residents who are vegans or vegetarians. And one of the organization’s recognized leaders in that part of the world, South America, was from Bontoc, Mtn. Prov. He Is now a universal man.
In India, it was able to build Ananda Nagar, a city on a desert, with schools and colleges, hospitals and economic enterprises employing the people there. It was also able to cause the election of some of its members to the nation’s parliament.
In the Philippines, the creation of such communities is going on in earnest.** (More next week)