Decentralised Economy – 1
The transition town action plan is on the one hand a way to face up to the twin threats of peak oil and climate change, and on the other a way to generate circumstances for greater economic justice. The PROUT (PROgressive Utilization Theory) philosophy of P. R. Sarkar clearly recognizes this.
Below is a speech given by Sarkar on 16 March 1982 in Calcutta, and which was published in: Prout in a Nutshell Part 21 [a compilation], and: Proutist Economics [a compilation].
Decentralized economy 1
The most important economic issue before the leaders of all the countries in the world today is how to increase the standard of living of their citizens through the economic prosperity of the state. This is a burning question, especially in those countries which are economically backward. The matter is not very simple because in many countries people are still directly dependent on nature for their subsistence. Only in a few countries have people been able to utilize their knowledge and wisdom to solve their economic problems.
Most countries in the world – whether capitalist or communist – have adopted the policy of economic centralization. While the economies of the capitalist countries are centralized in the hands of a few capitalists or a few capitalist institutions, the economies of the communist countries are centralized in the hands of the party. After so many years of economic centralization, how successful have these countries been in improving the standard of living of the people? To assess this, the main issue is whether or not economic exploitation has been eradicated and the common people have been guaranteed ever increasing purchasing capacity. The fact is that in a centralized economy there is no possibility that economic exploitation can ever be eradicated or that the economic problems of the common people can ever be permanently solved.
As far as India is concerned, the common people have been led astray time and again by vested interests. Innumerable promises have been made by political leaders, but they have proved to be nothing more than cruel hoaxes. The policy of economic centralization stands exposed as merely a strategy to accumulate increasing capital in the hands of the capitalists. On the one hand the incredulous masses are kept in good humour by promising them something negligible, and on the other hand the capitalists go on amassing enormous wealth. If we examine why this is happening, we will find that the cause is clearly evident. All the economic policies in the country are formulated by a handful of people who are pillars of capitalism.
There is only one way to stop economic exploitation and alleviate the plight of the common people, and that is to implement a policy of decentralized economy in all the sectors of the economy. Successful planning can never be done by sitting in an air conditioned office thousands of miles away from the place where planning is to be undertaken. Centralized economy can never solve the economic problems of remote villages. Economic planning must start from the lowest level, where the experience, expertise and knowledge of the local people can be harnessed for the benefit of all the members of a socio-economic unit. All types of economic problems can be solved only when economic structures are built on the basis of decentralized economy.
The basic question is how to remove the unhealthy influence of centralized economy. The real issue is, who will bell the cat? If the vested interests fail to be guided by righteous intellect, then people will have to take matters into their own hands. They will have to create circumstantial pressure from all sides, uniting around the slogan: “Abolish centralized economy to end exploitation; establish decentralized economy.”
Decentralized economy is the only way that people can attain all-round welfare because it will not only guarantee economic prosperity, but also pave the way for individual and collective psycho-spiritual progress. Once people’s mundane problems have been solved, they will have greater opportunities to develop their potentialities in the psychic and spiritual spheres. With the establishment of decentralized economy, economic and psycho-economic exploitation will be eradicated, the gap between the rich and poor will be minimized and individual and collective welfare will be greatly enhanced. This in turn will create greater opportunities for the psychic and spiritual progress of all members of society.