Dr. Ravi Batra
Every socio-economic system has a political system that supports it. PROUT is no exception. And as in all other respects it radically differs from current or past frameworks of government. It is based on strict morality, on what is good and shining in human beings. It contends that ever since the genesis of civilization some six thousand years ago, humanity has been brutally exploited by one class after another. There were of course short phases lighted by the ruler’s benevolence, but by and large history reveals that three psycho-social groups of warriors, intellectuals and capitalists came to power turn by turn and brutally oppressed the classes not in power as well as the masses. Today, in most countries, capitalists are at the helm, and for this reason selfish materialism and the attendant malaise pervade the world.
Is humanity doomed to such exploitation forever? Is there no escape from our inhuman past, or must the past be projected into the future? PROUT’s answer is in the negative. It contends that although the law of social cycle, being based on social evolution, is inviolable, humanity is by no means condemned forever to the cycles of exploitation. In order to escape from the clutches of exploitation, those representing the best tendencies of human beings should be established in the nucleus of society. The staunch moralists and spiritualists should come forward and take charge of the administration of society. For too long the field of government has been left to predatory politicians who can at least temporarily fool the people through sweet words, promises and slogans. Government is a serious matter; the administration of society should not be a playground for the self-seeking and corrupt people in society. It should be in the hands of what Sarkar calls sadvipras - staunch morally conscious spiritualists.
Plainly speaking, sadvipras are those persons who cannot even think of acting in self-interest. They are honest, intelligent and compassionate persons whose nature it is to fight injustice and corruption in society. Since such people represent our best sides, since they are beyond selfishness, the political power should be centralized in a board or Collective Body of Sadvipras. From such centralization of power, no one has to fear, because spiritualists act only in the interest of others.
One may legitimately ask if such people actually exist in society. For if they do not, the Collective Body proposed by Sarkar is no more than a utopian institution. Sarkar argues, that sadvipras have frequently appeared in the past. Many people gave up their lives fighting the entrenched citadels of corruption; many persons died serving humanity, but under the pressures exerted by the forces of oppression, society did not take their guidance. Therefore, sadvipras are rare, but they are here today and will be in future. Indeed Sarkar is optimistic that soon society, while reeling under the engines of capitalist repression, will recognize the services, selfless love and intellectual brilliance of the present day sadvipras, and then demand that they be placed at the helm.
The role that PROUT assigns to this Collective Body is one of planning and general supervision in important aspects of life. It does not assign the Body any legislative, judicial and executive functions, which are to be performed by elected or appointed officials in accordance with the constitution. Sadvipras, therefore, are in the nucleus of society. Their major function is to see that the class in power does not abuse its authority. Warriors, intellectuals and capitalists will go on succeeding each other in governing society, but the repressive phases of their rules will be very short-lived. Whenever the class in power starts oppressing the other classes, the sadvipras will educate and incite the masses and with their help enable the succeeding class to come in power. This way the social cycle will keep on revolving, but humanity will not have to undergo the churning that it has so often experienced in the past.
There is another reason why people should have no fear from the rule of sadvipras. Their rise to power will occur only after society gives recognition to their selfless service. Their influence will derive from their contact with the masses and not from any temporal power which will still be vested with legislative and executive bodies. Sadvipras will only have a supervisory role and will be answerable to the general public just as any elected official today is. Society that brought them into power could just as easily throw them out if they were found misusing their positions. Hence there is really nothing to fear from concentrating power in the hands of a group of moralists.
While there is nothing to fear from the establishment of the Collective Body, there is a good deal to be gained from it. Find any country today and we will find massive abuse of power. If there were a collective body over-looking the actions of the government such abuse will not occur. It can easily be seen how such a group at the nucleus would keep the government under leash in a totalitarian regime. But even in democratic countries, where each of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are supposed to serve as a check on the high-handed actions of the other, the Collective Body would be very useful. In the presence of such a body, the Emergency [of 1975] would not have occurred in India, or Watergate and Koreagate in the U.S., or the brutal abuse of human rights in Russia, China and many other countries. Hence a body of sadvipras is the need of the day, and the hope of tomorrow.
In every country, whether democratic or authoritarian, the ruling bodies are usually composed of people belonging to the same class. Hence they fail to serve properly as checks and balances. Separation of powers is not enough; there has to be another powerful institution guaranteed by the constitution, an institution whose members stand above all mean and narrow tendencies; which belongs to all classes, and whose word prevails over that of others.
How will the Collective Body of Sadvipras come into being? Here PROUT calls for a selecto-electional process, that is, for elections of the members of government at regional and federal levels by a large group of voters satisfying certain qualifications. It rejects the idea of universal suffrage, unless, of course, all members of society are honest and highly educated. The idea of ‘one person, one vote’ sounds sweet and appealing, but it never works that way in practice. The rich politicians have usually been able to buy votes from some people not only in India but in many advanced democratic nations. This is simply a mockery of the election process, and the fault here lies not just with the affluence of the politicians but also with the poverty, illiteracy and irresponsibility of those voters who are thus sold out to money. If the election process is to be above board, then only those with integrity and education should have the right to vote.
Hence PROUT advocates the formation of an Electoral College whose members satisfy the following qualities:
- They should be educated to the extent that they understand the pros and cons of the proposals made by those contesting elections
- They should have a sense of responsibility and a socio-economic consciousness
- They should, above all, be moral
PROUT preaches that every person should be provided the opportunities to imbibe such qualities, but until that is achieved the membership of the Electoral College will have to be restricted to ensure true and impartial elections. “Without a proper system of selection,” says Ac. Raghunath, a close student of Sarkar, “democracy gets degenerated into ‘mobocracy’, thereby creating a circumstance of exploitation.” If all the voters possessed civic consciousness then politicians will not be able to get elected by appealing to regional, parochial, racial and caste sentiments. Big business and money will have little role to play in the election process, and only then will democracy have a chance of success.
PROUT does not reject the idea of democracy, only the current system of elections that in reality produces an oligarchy of the affluent. For democracy is ‘rule by the people, for the people, of the people’, but the present-day election process reduces it to ‘rule by the rich, for the rich, of the rich’. And the rich then exploit the general public in the name of public welfare. They offer a little bonus here, a little carrot there, while pocketing millions in their vaults. Hence to ensure democracy , to ensure that the interests of the poor and the masses are not neglected, political power has to be centralized in the hands of those who feel for the poor, the downtrodden, the handicapped. Not those who say they that they feel for the poor, nor those who mask their ugly actions by making eloquent speeches, but those who have demonstrated through their actions the capacity to suffer for others. In the hands of such sadvipras alone can the people give their trust. Thus what PROUT in effect suggests is that the essence of democracy can be preserved only if the current system of rigged elections gives way to one of a powerful Collective Body of Sadvipras elected by an Electoral College with membership ultimately running into millions.
In order to expand the scope of this Electoral College, PROUT suggests that institutions should be established to provide moral and social education to people, thereby qualifying them as a voter. Such institutions should be free from any political influence; they should administered by an independent body like the Election Commission or the Public Service Commission, and their curriculum should be carefully designed by experts–educationalists, sociologists, philanthropists, spiritualists among others.
Those who pass the tests of such institutions should alone be the members of the Electoral College which may be divided into regions or administrative units to elect candidates for various arms of the government. The candidates themselves will, of course, have to come from the Electoral College, that is, they too will have to satisfy certain qualifications of education and integrity.
The Electoral College should not only elect members of various legislative and executive bodies, and also the constituents of the Collective Body vested with the supreme authority. The process of election by the selected voters should be direct. Even though the Collective Body is given ultimate authority in the land, with no other body restraining it, there is no possibility of autocracy or totalitarianism for various reasons. First, the Collective Body provides collective leadership, and power is not vested with one person only. Secondly, it is answerable to the mass-conscious Electoral College and ultimately to the general public. Thirdly, the members of the Collective Body themselves satisfy certain credentials of honesty and integrity. They can never go against the common good and welfare. Finally, the proutist system calls for a full guarantee of all the human rights including the right to free speech, criticism, assembly and employment. As long as the media are free and independent, no system is likely to lapse into autocracy.
In the proutist system the role of the Electoral College is not over even after it has elected members of various political bodies including the Collective Body. It will continue to remain in touch with the people and apprise them of the points and counter-points of various socio-economic issues. Constant vigil is required to make sure that all the arms of government function efficiently and honestly, and this vigil will have to be exercised not only by the Collective Body but the ever watchful Electoral College.
In present democratic systems, the government actions and policies are carefully examined by opposition parties and the press. This is a healthy practice which serves to keep the official arbitrariness under control. But it has also its faults. Quite often the opposition engages in destructive criticism, or plays upon the narrow tendencies of the public. The party in power counters with the same game, and, as a result, the country does get two viewpoints of any issue but necessarily the best viewpoint. The Electoral College that PROUT calls for will have a different role to play. Since it will not belong to any faction or party, it will be able to offer constructive criticism of governments policies.
From PROUT’s concept of politics and economy
Published by Central Publications, Proutist Universal
Copyright The author 1999