Beyond Capitalism & Socialism

The industrial revolution with the discovery of steam power and the invention of steam engine in 19th century, which powered these industries, had brought a complete change in the way we produce commodities. These industries not only created an open demand for workers to man the machines in these industries, an open market where these workers could be hired at the lowest market rates and the exploitative dismal economic conditions for those workers because of such a market where the working hands could be hired at the lowest market rates but these industries also put those multitude of poor working human beings together under one roof.

These unfortunate circumstances made many people with conscience – religious leaders, poets, philosophers, revolutionaries – to voice their concerns for those unfortunate workers. A new concept under the name of socialism – supposedly to provide justice against exploitative injustice to these wratched humans – was conceived by many of these concientious people. There were many kinds of people advocating socialism and there were many brands of this socialism. But most of these brands were idealistic, against normal human nature and impractical to be implimented.

In such a conceptually confusing and intellectually hotch potch atmosphere, a German phiolosopher with a brilliant mind and pragmatic sense of hard reality came on the scene to lay down the foundation for a realistic philosophy. He had clear concepts and practical programme to establish his brand of socialism. Because of his confidence in the clarity of his concepts – albeit couched in philosophical jargon – he asserted that it was his brand of socialism that was scientific one, as if it was a branch of positive science just applied by him to society. He termed it communism and laid down a systematic route for a social transformation from capitalism to his brand of socialism. His name was Karl Marx.

He was clear that this transformation was only possible – with some rare exceptions – by resorting to violence: workers’ revolution. Though philosophically he asserted that working under the principles of Dialectics the capitalist society was bound to be transformed – whether with violence or without violence – into communism, nevertheless he, instead of waiting for such an automatic transformation, emphatically laid down a practical program for an armed revolution. He drafted in 1948 the Communist Menifesto and gave a provocative slogan – that evoked hope of emanicipation for workers: “Workers of the world, Unite” and that “workers have nothing to lose but their chains”. The layout of his program envisaged a revolution to dismental capitalism under the leadership of workers and immediately establishing a dictatorship – flagged by him as “dictatorship of ploretariat (or workers)” and, then, under this dictatorship waiting for an “automatic transformation” of this  (ploreteriat) dictatorship – termed by him as the first stage of socialism – into communism. He asserted that under this dictatorship people’s habits (like exploiting others), nature and culture (value system) would change and that in due course the state as an instrument of coercion would wither away – simply because it would have no need to exist , that is, need to coerce people.

Philosophically, it was a brilliant idea. But it is against normal human nature. It was never to come – and it has never come despite 80 years’ life of dictatorship in USSR, about 70 years’ life in China, Cuba, North Korea etc. – into social reality.

In fact, the whole exercise of the so-called socialist revolutions in these counyries became nothing but a coup d’ etat by a gang of professional and ruthless revolutionaries, who later on ran and enjoyed a dictatorship in their countries.

Capitalism is founded on normal human nature of selfishness, greed and the darker side of human psychology. It is exploitative of the weak and opportunistic in grabing advantages at the cost of others. No human with a conscience can ever approve capitalism because of its vices. Still, it is the truth that capitalism – having an inbuilt mechanism of initiative, freedom and innovation to excel other rivals in an open competition – is a suprb engine of developement and progress. How to find a way to balance its advantages and its inhuman vices? We have not seen communism – a promised heaven on earth, without a coercive state, without exploitation of human by human – in any country in our world. It is a mirage. But we have seen capitalism. We are living in it – and we are suffering its vices and reaping its fruits.  How to take benifit of its advantages and put down our foot over its vices? Can we balace the two? Can we do it? Yes, we can. Here are five fundamental principles – premises – to build a new society with a new political economy.

First Premise:

All Property Belongs to the People. It is the collective ownership of all resources – the natural and the man-made both – by the people of the place where they live. The ownership of all the resources by the inhabitants of a place ‘collectively’ as against ‘individually’ is a natural way always found in the societies that live close to Nature. One living example of such collective ownership of resources is found in the tribal society of aboriginals of Andaman and Nicobar islands in India and one can find many more such examples in, without exception, all the surviving tribal societies. Such common ownership of resources is not only the most natural way of people living near to Nature but also it is the most harmonious way of social life. The superiority of this social way of life – the collective masters of all that is available – is established not only by the fact that such societies are so found naturally but also by the fact that humanity’s most venerable voices have approved such common ownership in their own ways. Gautama Buddha approved of it by ordaining ‘Sangha’ where people lived and enjoyed land and wealth collectively. Almost all founders of religions advocated such collective ownership of resources by establishing convents, ashrams and other religious refuge. Hindu sages declared that all ‘bhumi’ or land belongs to ‘Gopal’ or God. In recent centuries, many thinkers advocated the common ownership of ‘means of production’ or resources by establishing Socialism. We all know that Earth is our common home. All resources are Nature – or God – given means for the use of all living beings on Earth. These resources are held by humans collectively in trust for each one of them and also for other living species on Earth. Resources are in collective hands in trust for the current generation and the succeeding generations of humans and for the use of other species also. This trusteeship is sacred and sanctified by morality, wisdom, common sense and religions, and lately by the environmental science. Its violation is the worst sacrilege of humans against themselves.

Second Premise:

Property Given to Private hands is in Trust. People are made-up of individuals and these individuals are not equal to each other in the matter of their capability. Their individual capability differs in the matter of psychological make-up, mental level, priority of goals assigned in one’s life, education and a host of other individual traits of one’s personality. Every individual among the collective people is not equally capable or inclined to utilize the resources available on Earth either for oneself or for others. Resources are means for people’s sustenance and development by their utilization and augmentation. Resources need to be utilized by people in their own interest. As each one of the collective people is not equal in capability to utilize these resources in the best possible way, these resources are given in trust to private hands or to individuals, who claim to be so capable of utilizing and wish to so utilize, solely for the purpose of utilizing the resources in the best interest of all. Though the resources are handed over to the private hands in trust, the rights of these private hands never ever exceed the supreme ownership rights of the collective community. Each one of the people who professes to be so capable has equal right, claim and opportunity to so utilize these resources. On utilizing these resources, wealth is produced, which in modern time is known as commodity. The net consequence of the production of commodities in good quantity is the rising of the living standards of people who consume those products. For putting one’s energy and efforts into the work of commodity production, the individual needs a motivating gear, which is known in modern time as an incentive. In a sensible utilization of resources, production of commodities is made, or in other words, for the production of commodity resources are needed. In modern time, for producing commodities, an individual (s) needs not only his capability to do so but also resources in the form of raw materials, which are of different kinds and may be termed as “inputs for production”. In modern time, the individual intending to produce commodities has a cost to pay to secure these inputs, which is known as investment. To make the process of commodity production viable, the concerned individual needs not only the returning back of his investment but also an additional amount in the form of profit in lieu of an incentive for his undertaking the whole affair. This incentive – or profit – is always a percentage of his investment and it can range from zero to one hundred. Zero percent profit is difficult to find anywhere and one hundred percent profit may be termed exorbitant, and the reasonable one can be fixed in between anywhere. On an amount of investment made towards the inputs for production, a deduction in the form of profit has to be made out of the amount of wealth produced in the form of commodities and paid to the individual(s) who has undertaken this whole affair, and the balance amount has to be returned to the people as royalty on the resources that belonged to them and were utilized. Taxation is a misnomer and needs to be done away with in our economics. In our economics there is no place for taxation of those who produce commodities for the purpose of the welfare of the people; instead there need to be: firstly, an accounting by those who use resources on such trust; and secondly, returning back to the public (by those trustees who undertook wealth production) the excess amount of wealth, which belongs to the people who owned the resources that were utilized in such wealth production.

Third Premise:

Complete Transparency in Economic Activity. Transparency is justified in all activities where the economic interests of more than one person or a class of persons are involved. Which are those economic activities that need to be transparent? It includes from A to Z, all stages from buying of inputs to selling of commodities, and nothing left in secrecy except the private life of the individual(s) who undertook the whole affair of wealth production. Transparency in economic activities means: letting the people know every part or stage of it or making that detailed information available to the public. The means of bringing this transparency is certainly information technology and putting each head – each act – of each wealth-producer (company or individual) on a website, and under the compulsion of law. In sum and substance, the public must know in each individual case (factory, shop or service) of what has been paid for what – in the inputs – and what has been received back out of those outputs in each case. This is transparancy of the accounting of the social or common resources.

Fourth Premise:

Accountability to the People. Those who hold the resources in their private hands for utilization are the trustees of those resources for certain purpose and they are accountable to the people who own those resources. There is no place for private ownership of resources – whether natural or man-made – in our economics. It is not Communism but it is also not Capitalism either. It is the 21st century’s new economic order. The accountability of those who hold the public resources in private hands towards the people needs to be mandated by law and incorporated in national constitutions in all those countries where people rule themselves. It is the relationship of a master with his servant tasked for a certain job, where the master has a legitimate right to keep an eye on each step of the servant while performing that job. With the onset of 21st century the time has come when the emphasis in democratic country must be shifted from the polity management by holding periodic elections to the economic management by putting in place the legal requirement for accountability through the information technology.

Fifth Premise:

People are Sovereign. The people are sovereign and that means the middlemen – or the representatives of the people – are not the sovereign. In fact, the middlemen are middlemen and, today in the changed circumstances like degradation in moral and related values, a representative of people represents more of himself/herself and less of people who elected him/her. By and large this is the reality today in democratic countries around the world. People are sovereign and, with the technology being available now, they can no longer afford to put their interests – be those political or economic – in the hands of middlemen. These middlemen – or better termed as representatives – need to be tamed and reined in by their masters, by the people through utilization of information technology. It is possible today – and this possibility must be utilized – to elect representatives of people, to recall them, to rate their performance and reprimand them for their poor performance. It is because of this “un-representative” character of these representatives that the democratic institutions throughout the world have degenerated today into a stinking capitalism. Now in 21st century it is possible through technology to turn a theoretical people’s sovereignty into the de facto people’s sovereignty and to save the humanity from further miseries it is the need of the hour to utilize this technological capability.

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