Multipurpose Development Plans
Proutistic Solutions for Crime and Punishment, Population Growth, Environmental Destruction and Pollution
The Sanskrit term for society is samaj. It means a group of people working together for all round development toward a single goal. In the context of PROUT, samaj further denotes a socio-economic unit formed on the basis of common economic potential and problems, geographic similarity, cultural and historical similarity, etc..
A strong local culture is the prerequisite of a healthy society and also of economic prosperity. Essentially, a samaj is a socio-economic group having strong historical, lingual, and/or cultural ties, a progressive decentralized economy based upon the principles of economic democracy, a flourishing cultural and intellectual life, a general atmosphere of social equality and collective spirit, and a strong moralist leadership. The goal of the samaj is to assist its members to meet their physical requirements and achieve their highest intellectual and spiritual potentiality. The establishment of samaj is the culmination of PROUT in three spheres: socio-economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural.
To various degrees, in almost every part of the world, national and state boundaries have been formed along primarily political lines. Hence, if the guidelines for the division of samaj units are followed, many boundaries could be expected to change. Samaj divisions are both natural and inevitable if capitalist exploitation is to be confronted. We see many movements around the world that show peoples' natural desire for regional-economical-cultural independence: a movement for an independent French Quebec; the Zapatista and Guatemalan uprisings of poor Mayan natives; the Republican movement of Ireland; numerous bloody conflicts by African nations in the aftermath of colonialism; the Kurdish uprising in Iraq, and many others.
Many existing political boundaries have been established to allow colonialism to divide and conquer. The first blow was always to the local language and customs. One of the fundamental tenets of capitalist exploitation is to divide a people and make them mentally weak, by imposing lingual and racial inferiority complexes and by exciting regional and religious narrowness to create infighting. Taking the example of Great Britain, it can easily be seen that several cultures and language groups have been subjugated, on both the cultural and economic levels. Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are all examples of potential socio-economic units and future samaj areas. They all are faced with various degrees of economic and political satellite status to England, dying languages and loss of local culture to a colonial culture. In India, Bengal was divided into numerous pieces by the British and again later by the post-independence government. This occurred in order to cripple a cultured and prosperous people and exploit them economically. In almost every corner of the globe this same phenomenon can be observed. The Proutist solution is to develop strong local cultures and economies, united by a World Constitution and Bill of Rights.
In time, many samajas together might form a nation or a state. PROUT does not advocate a sort of cheap regionalism or nationalism; rather, we see the samaj as the basic unit of a strong global culture. So many of the international relations of the past and present are relationships of exploitation. PROUT promotes the admixture of different strong cultures. The more they interact, the more human beings will develop. Any person should be able to live anywhere, provided they merge their economic interests into their locality. The formation of socio-cultural-economic zones is for the purpose of removing exploitation, not to disseminate fissiparous tendencies. There are many indications of the beginnings of samaj movements, and as the defects of capitalism and communism become clearer and social consciousness increases, these movements will increase in magnitude.
PROUT recognizes the need for emergency economic relief activities and short-term multi-purpose development plans. There are a billion hunger-stricken people throughout the world, and there should be an immediate influx of food from outside to these malnourished people. The cause of this problem is global economic maldistribution. Economic democracy, decentralization, and an end to imperialism are the long-term solutions, but solving the immediate food shortages is an urgent necessity. The excess food of the developed world could easily satisfy the shortages of the developing nations if there was a willingness.
Multi-purpose development schemes are based on the degree of poverty in a country and aim to immediately elevate the standard of living of the people and bring about integrated development throughout the world. Such programs are suitable for the entire globe, and include undertaking temporary and permanent relief and upgrading the standard of education wherever required.
Different types of service, both extensive and intensive, have to be done in all the poor countries. Extensive service means that service must be provided down to village level, while intensive service means that as many people as possible must be benefited. This is necessary due to defective economic management in many parts of the world, and has nothing to do with party politics. Mass feeding and cheap kitchens are appropriate everywhere, plus other items like the distribution of clothes, medicines and school supplies, etc., according to the situation. Essential items are to be provided to the poorest and most needy people in each locality.
Secondly, you can see that in most of the countries in the worldin almost the entire worldthe vast percentage of the economically disadvantaged people are illiterate. They are lagging behind in the realm of education. This deficiency is initially alleviated by teaching literacy. Literacy programs should be initiated wherever the necessity exists as the first stage of educational development plans.
We have said that the progress of human beings requires an internal spiritual approach and an external approach which maintains equilibrium in the different arenas of our socio-economic life. Society is presently suffering from two problemsone is affluence, and the other is a shortage of physical and mental resources. Most of the developed countries suffer from over-consumption of consumer goods. If the consumption patterns of the industrial countries can be regulated, then an adjustment can be made so that physical shortages and psychic deficiencies of the other 80% of humanity can be minimized. Today, many admit that there should be such an adjustment; nonetheless, little effort has been made on the part of the developed nations to meet the needs of other human beings with their excess. Such an adjustment is necessary until the economies of the post-colonial and developing nations develop sufficiently to meet their populations basic living requirements.
PROUT recognizes the need for model development projects that promote integrated communities. These centers for applied Proutistic principles are called "master units." A master unit combines the ideals of self-sufficiency and decentralization with spiritual community committed to all-round social service. Beginning with agriculture and cottage industries for local economic development, master units expand their services to cover many facets of human needs, including education, culture, and spirituality. Integrated agricultural projects based upon progressive farming techniques, and cottage industries that use local raw materials are among the essential projects of master units. Medical clinics and hospitals with a focus on alternative modalities, and housing for the very poor are other important projects. Other important services provided by master units are schools based upon a holistic, Neo-humanistic approach to education and human development.
Master units incorporate a variety of economic and service projects. Some examples of existing master unit projects include: flour mill or wheat grinding machines; bakeries; seed bank; cheap seed distribution centers to meet the needs of local people; distribution centers for plants and seedlings; sericulture and silk weaving centers; bio-gas plants, utilizing organic waste; butter production (and dairy processing in general); apiculture (bee-keeping); farming training and research centers; and sanctuaries for animals and plants.
By their ecological vision and their role as community centers for progressive and spiritually minded individuals, master units also offer even economically developed nations a valuable model for the future of human settlement. Whether in economically developed or impoverished areas, they provide a model for balanced and integrated centers of human culture, meeting the physical, mental and spiritual requirements of life. They demonstrate the practical application of the PROUT philosophy, addressing human, animal, and ecological needs in an integrated way. Master units exist currently in many countries of the world at various stages of development. For information concerning these, one may contact Proutist Universal.
PROUT seeks to solve many existing problems in a creative, integrated way. No problems exist outside a larger social context, so it is necessary to address the very root causes. Here we shall address aspects of PROUT regarding crime, population, and the environment. Any one could of course be discussed at great length.
Crime and Punishment: The concept of justice is largely dependent upon society at a particular time and level of development. What is justice for one society may not be accepted as justice by another society. The common conception of justice is that there should be fair punishment to fit a crime. This is a kind of traders justicean exchange where harm done must be paid in full. But this is a relative process. What is justice in one era, or in a particular society, may not be the same in a different time or place. PROUT advocates that reformation should be more important than punishment. As humans, we are incapable of perfect judgment and will always have a limited capacity of evaluation. Hence we should not have the right to punish each other, only to correct each other as best as we are able. Therefore justice under PROUT is to be a code of corrective measures. And in such a world of relative justice, a great importance must be put upon the selection of judges. Judges need to be learned and possess penetrating intellects. They must also have indisputably good character.
Under the trial system there is much scope for error. There is no way to verify the testimony of witnesses. Investigators should research and present evidence too. Relying on lawyers interpretations is too dangerous; clever lawyers can be troublesome within the trial system. Perhaps judges should be able to make final decisions, with juries acting as their assistants. There should also be an appeals procedure to go along with this system.
Criminals should not all be classified the same way. There are many different reasons that people turn to crime. PROUT recognizes five distinct criminal types. First, there are criminals by instinct. Generally these are quiet people who enjoy petty crimes. Though easily instigated by others, this class of criminal typically does not commit major crimes. However, they are not easily educated so rehabilitation may be difficult.
The second category consists of those who are criminals by habit. People in this category may or may not be intelligent, but they revel in cruelty and are unable to understand compassion. Generally they are quite clever in committing their crimes. They also tend to become addicted to criminal behavior, and possess low moral strength. However, they are capable of being cured of this defect through rehabilitation.
A third class of criminals become so due to their environment. Family or peer pressures are the most common cause of this defect. Often parents with depraved tendencies will pass them on to their children. In dealing with these individuals it is important to discover where the bad influence comes from so that it can be dealt with. People who fall into this category are likely to degenerate even further if they are put into prison with those who are criminals by habit.
Criminals by necessity make up the fourth category. Most of the crimes in this world are motivated because of want of the basic necessities. Under PROUT, society will increasingly provide the basic necessities, and this category of criminals should be eliminated. People who do fall into this category ought to create social pressure to force a change in their circumstances. Society has no right to judge such behavior, since society itself is responsible for it.
The fifth and final category of criminals are those who become so through snap volition. This is a treatable mental condition. It expresses itself in temporary mental ailments such as crimes of passion or kleptomania. Mental rehabilitation here would be more effective than imprisonment.
Population Growth: Two factors need to be considered when dealing with the question of population growththe availability of resources and the availability of space. Although this planet is large enough and abundant enough to satisfy the food needs of all, there are many who lack sufficient food due to lack of proper coordination and planned efforts. If the living space of this Earth were properly utilized, there is also abundant living room for humans and all species.
According to PROUT there are four factors which will lead to the population growth finding a natural level. First there needs to be economic democracy so that people have sufficient scope to meet basic dietary needs. Secondly, there should be access to medical care so that people can remain in good health. Thirdly, as far as possible, people should be free from unnecessary worries and mental stress. And fourthly, the intellectual standard of humanity will have to be elevated through education. Taken together, these changes will tend to keep the birthrate at a reasonable level. In those countries where the people have become relatively educated and affluent it is a fact that the birthrate decreases. In undeveloped countries like China and India, and also developed countries with large numbers of impoverished people, like the USA, the birth rate is increasing. However in places such as Switzerland, France, and the Scandinavian countries the birth rate is stable or even declining due to affluence.
The science of agriculture has taken great leaps forward, and a properly managed earth will surely be capable of meeting the needs of its population. The idea that the world is in danger of becoming overpopulated is one that has been used by vested interests to misguide and exploit people, and to divert attention away from issues of exploitation and economic injustice.
Environmental Destruction and Pollution: It can be safely said that financial interests are for the most part responsible for environmental destruction. Most advances in modern science create detrimental side effects which require considerable time and effort to understand, and then to minimize. This corrective process is expensive and cuts into profitsresulting in great opposition from corporate elites to implementing new safety standards and methods of environmental protection. This is especially problematic as the direction of science is largely determined by what these elites decide upon. It is well know that independent research that strives to address environmental problems often has difficulty being funded, especially if the results might damage an existing industry. Research into non-fossil fuel based automobile engines, for example, is certainly going on, but with a fraction of the resources poured into fossil fuel research. Alternative energy in general (solar, wind, bio-gas, etc.) is researched but with only a fraction of the funding nuclear energy receives.
In PROUT the control of science would not be determined by profit seekers. The large scale key industries would be run by the state on a "no profit no loss" basis, and research would be out of the hands of corporate interest. Each locality will rely on whatever resources are naturally available or can be synthesized artificially. In this case the polluter pays principle is not just a slogan, it cannot be avoided.
Essentially, pollution is beneficial for only a short time period. Corporate profits are increased through throwing off negative side-effects onto the environment and society as a whole. Eventually, however, the long term effects of raping and polluting the environment will require tremendous effort and resources to correct. PROUT maintains that the calculations of profits must include not only the cost of production, distribution, labor, etc., but equally important, the environmental and social costs involved. Social costs includes all factors that negatively affect the mental, physical and spiritual capacity of people immediately and into the future. For instance, the trucking industry is uneconomical from the stand point of social costs. Currently highway maintenance costs are not calculated, the environmental impact is not properly evaluated, the damage done by depleting the earth's oil reserves is not considered, and the health problems resulting from environmental pollution are not considerednot to mention traffic congestion, accidents and the mental and physical strain on the drivers and their families. Although trucking allows faster delivery and thus greater profits, from the social perspective as a whole, the railway system would be a better alternative.
The concept of social costs is integrally related to the idea of environmental sustainability. In agriculture especially, the costs of using chemicals far outweighs the alleged short term benefits. Agricultural pollution resulting from pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc., would be reduced by decentralized agriculture using the techniques of integrated, ideal farming (see Chapter Four). Agricultural research could then focus on sustainability as well as quality and efficiency. Already there is indication from applied research that output can even be increased using advanced natural techniquesnot to mention the increase in taste and nutritional value.
From the point of view of sustainable economic development, anything that reduces the productive capacity of the earth and destroys the health of human beings and other life forms is definitely to be avoided. Yet this is the path of the so-called global economy. In capitalism, the quest for short term gain usually overrides consideration for the future. It has been stated by scientists in international conferences, such as the Earth Summit, that the global economy is destroying ecologies at a rate of a thousand times faster than they can reproduce. It has also been predicted that given the current rate of destruction, it will destroy the planets life support systemsozone, breathable air, arable soil, potable water and the forestsin about fifty years. It is therefore a life and death matter to reduce the economic decision-making powers of the corporate elites. They have ignored repeatedly the considerations of the general welfare and they will continue to do so without governments and people intervening to curb their efforts.
Discussion of the above topics can be found scattered throughout the PROUT literature. References to various samajas are found in the PROUT in a Nutshell series, while much material on Master Units is as of yet unpublished. For a discussion on crime and justice, one may refer to Human Society Part One. An article on population growth and control is found in Proutist Economics. For case studies on integrated, applied PROUT primarily in the economic sphere, refer to Part Six of the above book.
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