|Partyless, Compartmental Democracy
Constitution and Law
Political democracy, as it is practiced in the world today, has a record of mixed success, and has failed to solve certain existential problems due to the absence of economic democracy. Loftily defined as "Government of the people, for the people, and by the people," political democracy is simply majority rule. And when vested interests are able to influence voters and politicians, whether by coercion, propaganda, bribery or clever manipulation of the media, it is easy to see that the real interests of even the majority are not always served. Similarly, under the influence of clever speeches and poor education, unqualified or corrupt leaders may be elected. While running the risk of underestimating people's power of self governance, it is important to realize that majority decision making is not free of blemishes, especially when politicians are bought and corporate media leaves voters poorly educated regarding the issues.
PROUT recognizes that certain prerequisites are necessary for a successful political democracy. Political candidates must be ethical, educated, and socially conscious. Voters must also demand ethical behavior of their leaders and have the requisite education and socio-economic consciousness to make rational decisions. Thus a high standard of impartial education is necessary to ensure that democracy is successful.
Presently money, intra-party status, and media portrayal have more to do with the success or failure of a candidate at the polls than does his or her position on issues and standard of behavior. In many countries, votes are bought and sold openly and corruption is the rule rather than the exception. It is often impossible for moral people to even dent the realm of politics. In the so-called developed countries, the situation is only little better, as financial and political control of the mass media and poor socio-economic consciousness prevail.
A further problem with the present system of political democracy is that as candidates are dependent upon campaign contributions from the wealthy, in most instances, they end up catering to the demands of those influential sections of society. This means that the decisions taken by the leaders in a democratic country do not necessarily reflect the best interests of society as a whole. Political leaders are forced to serve powerful corporate interest groups, even immoral hypocrites, who have tremendous financial influence. They are unable to maintain their offices if they cross such people. And due to continual pressure to canvass for funding, the role of money in politics is paramount.
The system of political parties seems also to have significant defects. Candidate qualifications, personal integrity, and the spirit of social service play secondary roles to party status and seniority. Candidates are forced to abide by party policies and cannot effectively combat elections without party endorsement. In this way, political parties are also controlled by monied interests. For these reasons, PROUT advocates a system of partyless democracy.
Under PROUTs system, independent political candidates would be required to state their platform policies in black-and-white. Failure to implement such programs could result in termination from office so as to prevent politicians from making empty promises for the sake of an election. A partyless system is of paramount importance for lessening corruption. Of course, it is natural that like minded people will associate and work together out of common interest. Indeed, it would be impossible to enact any positive measures independently. Yet, it is clear that the current formality of party affiliation has significant drawbacks. A more balanced approach without the formalities of party name and the necessity of party endorsement may alleviate such problems.
So, in addition to economic democracy, PROUT advocates a democratic political system with certain modifications. PROUT favors the three branch system of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial with the addition of an independent Financial or Public Exchequer department. This is an important addition that would monitor federal spending and publicize the strengths and weaknesses of government programs. This department would keep the accounts of the other three departments. All of these departments should function independently.
It should also be stressed that there should be no political involvement in economic affairs by the central governments, as the economic system is to be decentralized. Local governments would be responsible for the running of certain key industries, but for this purpose, independent managers would be hired. Key industries would not be run by politicians, whose skills are much different.
Under democracy as it is known today, the right to vote is based, in most countries, upon a persons age. This system has been selected owing to the tremendous moral difficulties arising out of excluding some from the voting process. Naturally, the question arises as to who has the moral right to decide who can and cannot vote. This dilemma is avoided by the adult franchise system. Such a system presupposes that upon reaching a certain age people will have the ability to fairly and intelligently weigh the pros and cons of each candidate and arrive at the best choice. While this may be true for some, it is easily seen that this is not always the case for everyone. If the educational system is excellent, this may very well be the case; but unfortunately the facts are different at this time. Not only is there widespread voter apathy (judged by low turnout), but socio-economic consciousness is conspicuously low in most places of the world.
How then can society arrive at the optimal method for selecting who is eligible to vote? In the past there have been many abuses when it came to allowing people the right to vote. This has often taken place as a method for the elite or a majority ethnic group to retain power. PROUT suggests that the fairest way to select voters is through some sort of test which must be passed in order to show the individuals knowledge and interest in participating in the election process. This can be termed "selecto-electional" democracy. Just as a new driver must demonstrate his or her capability before being let loose on the roads, so it should be with electors. Testing methods have been misutilized, however, to prevent black people from voting in the southern USA. Hence, universal suffrage and free access to equal education is imperative in a Proutistic system. In this respect, the involvement of politicians in the school curriculum must be scrupulously forbidden. Public Social Boards of qualified educators should be responsible in this regard.
Since many people had to fight so hard in order to attain the right to vote, it is likely that this particular aspect of PROUT may cause some consternation at first glance. However, it must be remembered that the goal of PROUT is real democratic freedom in the form of economic democracy. The political democracy we presently have provides little more than an illusion of true freedom. Nonetheless, a balanced blending of both should be formulated for everyone's benefit. As long as everyone is given a chance to pass the examination for voting in political elections, and there is no discrimination in this process, nor in the education system, it can be seen that the suggested selecto-electional process has some distinct advantages over the present system. Educated and aware voters are less likely to be fooled by the extravagant publicity machines of politicians. Money, also, will be less of an influence in deciding the outcomes of elections, whether that money be put into a media blitz or used more crudely through bribery or the buying of votes.
Political democracy leaves many human problems unsolved, as evidenced by the fact that even in today's most advanced societies, a small monied class of less than 1% of the population is allowed to own half of society's wealth while half the people are deprived of a living wage. Nonetheless, PROUT supports political democracy over other forms of governance while working to alleviate its shortcomings.
As a valuable complement to partyless, selecto-electional democracy, PROUT advocates the existence of grassroots Social Boards composed of individuals interested in community service. These voluntary boards would not contest elections, their function being to render social service in a combined way.
The object of these boards would be to help create economic democracy, environmental sustainability, and ensure that all local people have their basic needs met. Boards would begin to address the social, cultural, scientific and welfare needs of the people and serve as a catalyst to
organize the community. Social Boards would address such issues as education, relief, animal rights, culture, art, industry, commerce, farming, etc. The formation of such boards is an important phase in the exploration and implementation of PROUT.
Proutist Social Boards need not wait for a change in the economic and political systems to begin their workthey may immediately be formed by those eager for social transformation and the alleviation of poverty. They may also organize local economic self-reliance movements and initiate projects such as local currencies, producers and buyers cooperatives, credit unions, etc. Their activities could then extend into the social and cultural spheres, promoting literacy, the arts, continuing education, etc. Social Boards should be composed of members of all segments of the community and be as encompassing as possible. Proutist concepts of partyless, compartmental democracy and selecto-electional democracy can be tested and improved within the social board administrative structure.
Such Social Boards could have a valuable role to play as a check and balance to elected governmental officials. Free from the restrictions of partisan politics, Social Boards transcend the traditional limitations of politicians who depend upon creation of an "electable" image and solicitation of monied interest groups. As respectable non-political bodies, Social Boards would also be in an excellent position to monitor governmental officials and check potential corruption. While members of Social Boards could potentially run for office, in no circumstances should boards engage in party-politics. They should support the selection of candidates based upon individual merit alone.
Such a platform for moral leadership will do much to address the faults in the current political system and empower local people. Even so, there will be a perpetual fight between progressive and regressive forces. Class rivalry and other forms of social conflict are bound to persist, to a
greater or lesser extent. Corruption on a Social Board can occur but it is much more difficult because of the integrity of the other members of the Board, and because of the higher expectation that the public will come to have of these Boards.
Cynics seem to believe that human nature is corrupt and as such claim that the Social Boards of local organizers will be as susceptible to corruption as are the capitalist political parties. Such cynics have obviously never worked among the poorest of the poor and had their heart go out to them. Nor
do they know what its like for the people to love them in return.
PROUT envisions Social Boards as the primary media for aspiring sadvipras to serve society. Who are sadvipras? Sadvipras are those moralists, intelligent and compassionate people, who by virtue of their beliefs and practices, fight injustice and corruption in society and stand for the well-being of
all. In the struggle to achieve self-reliance for the local people, local organizers having moral integrity and self-discipline will be tested by fire and in so doing will rise to positions of responsibility. These will be the sadvipras.
Moral leaders (sadvipras) have different objectives than the average capitalist politician. Generally, political parties do not advocate for basic needs for all, or for full employment. They understand that the riches of the rich must come from the hides of the peoplefor where else could it come from? Spiritually indifferent politicians do not want to stop this dynamic even if they deliver high sounding speeches, release white pigeons or throw a few dollars here or there. To stage a war against the forces of ignorance and corruption, people will have to become powerful within. For this, physical, mental and spiritual powers are necessary. Insincere politicians will not resort to spiritual practices.
Sadvipras, on the other hand, are motivated by selfless service. They have a spiritual goal, which can only be achieved by personal sacrifice for the greater good. As they continue their spiritual practices, they become even more selfless. Their reason for living and their joy of life comes from this.
Many wars and conflicts between nations take place due to the narrow ideas of nationalism, religious dogma, racism, etc., fueled by the interests of economic imperialism. It is obvious that humanity should strive to eliminate such conflicts for the greater good. To do so, PROUT proposes a world governance system to serve the interests of humanity as a whole. Such a system would guarantee that cardinal human rights will be universally accepted. These rights will be guaranteed by a universal constitutional structure, a common penal code, and full support to ensure the availability of the minimum requirements of life for all. Combined with decentralized economic democracy, such a system is a clear reflection of the ideals of spirituality applied to politics.
The creation of a world governance system could involve reforming and strengthening the United Nations. In the first phase, a law framing body would be formed. It would develop a Bill of Rights and a Constitution and ensure that no country was allowed to pass laws that were detrimental to the interests of its minorities. The actual execution and enforcement of such laws would be left up to the local governments. The purpose of the world legislature would only be to provide the guiding principles for local legislative and enforcement bodies. It would have no administrative power. This body should consist of an upper and a lower house, with representation based upon nationhood and population respectively. The existing UN General Assembly and the proposed Peoples Assembly could serve as the organs for such functions.
In the first phase of establishing such a global legislative body, the emphasis would be on eliminating or reducing those factors causing disunity. Imperialistic interests would be reduced by supporting the formation of decentralized socio-economic units based upon the principles of economic democracy.
In subsequent phases, the executive and judicial functions of the world government would be slowly increased. Gradually the national militias would be replaced by a world-wide reserve force. This would be instituted as the local socio-economic units would increase to form larger federations.
The most fundamental economic aspect of PROUT is that the minimum requirements for all should be met. This will have the effect of restoring economic balance throughout the world, and will help to bring about true economic democracy. Clearly there are many potential problems and details to be worked out in this process. PROUT offers a broad overview leaving details to be worked out in the process of practical application. A world government becomes more desirable as an institution when coupled with economic democracy and decentralization because it provides the political means to achieve lasting peace and social synthesis.
Let us also keep in mind that PROUT holds spirituality, in the most universal sense, as the only factor which can truly unite people. Hence, without increasing acceptance of a spiritual philosophy of life, even a benevolent world government cannot in itself establish unity, security and peace.
Hand in hand with the evolution of a world governance system, there exists a need for a World Constitution. Such a document will have to include the following: a guarantee of complete security to all of the worlds humans, as well as plant and animal species; the citizens of each country must be guaranteed a minimum level of purchasing power; the four fundamental rights of spiritual practice, cultural legacy, education, and the expression of one's native language must be guaranteed; and finally if the practice of any of these rights conflicts with universally accepted human values then that practice will have to cease. That is to say, a practice such as the binding and crippling of women's feet for cosmetic purposes (like in ancient China), even if considered part of one's cultural legacy infringes upon basic human values/rights and should be discarded.
Prout proposes that three socio-political principles must be included in the world constitution to prevent injustice, disunity and exploitation from continuing to plague humanity. The first is that people should not be allowed to lose their jobs until and unless alternative employment can be arranged for them. The second principle is that people should never be forced to convert from one religion to another. And third, no one's mother (native) tongue should be suppressed. These three things, employment, spiritual practice, and mother tongue (discussed in the next chapter), are very important to people. Human progress will certainly be hindered if any of them are violated.
Presently all national constitutions suffer from some defects. The adoption of the above mentioned points will help to alleviate these defects in the future. Similarly, the penal code ought to be based on common constitutional tenets. This will necessitate a complete overhaul of the present concepts of vice and virtue, and crime and punishment, taking a Neo-humanist approach not limited by any narrow social or religious values.
There are three kinds of laws: cardinal law, moral law, and human law. Cardinal law refers to universally accepted lawbasic principles such as existential rights. Moral and human laws are based upon changeable values varying from religion to religion and culture to culture. Humans should work with a view to minimize the differences between these laws until they are finally one and the same. Laws will, of course, vary according to time place and person. Every effort should be made to develop universality amongst laws. Universal spiritual values as opposed to social and religious values must be the basis.
PROUT in a Nutshell.
Parts Four, Six, Fourteen and Sixteen contains articles relevant to the political dimension of PROUT.
Proutist Economics. The articles on Economic Democracy in this book are relevant to the discussion on politics.
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