“Both liberal democracy and socialist democracy may be considered forms of political democracy because these systems are based on economic and political centralization.
In all countries where democracy is in vogue today, people have been deceived into believing that there is no better system than political democracy. Political democracy has no doubt granted voting rights, but it has snatched away the right of economic equality. Consequently, there is gross economic disparity between the rich and the poor, immense inequality in people’s purchasing capacity, unemployment, chronic food shortages, poverty and insecurity in society.
The type of democracy prevalent in India is also political democracy, and it has proved to be a unique system of exploitation. The Indian constitution was created by three groups of exploiters: the British imperialists, the Indian imperialists and the ruling parties representing the Indian capitalists. All the provisions of the Indian constitution were framed keeping an eye on furthering the interests of these opportunists. Just to hoodwink the masses, the people were granted the right of universal suffrage. Millions of Indians are poor, superstitious and illiterate, yet the exploiters, through such practices as making false promises, intimidation, gross abuse of administrative power and vote rigging, repeatedly win over the electorate. This is the farce of democracy. Once they form the government, they get ample opportunity to indulge in rampant corruption and political tyranny for five years. In the subsequent elections – whether on the provincial or state level – the same absurdity is repeated.
This type of political opportunism has been going on in India since independence. For the last thirty-five years, the political parties have maintained that in order to attain economic parity with the industrially developed countries of Europe, India must follow the democratic system. To support this argument, they cite the examples of America and Great Britain or China and the Soviet Union. The political leaders urge the electorate to vote in their favour at election time so that the country’s starving masses can reap the benefits of a developed economy. But once the elections are over, the exploitation of the common people continues unabated in the garb of political democracy, and other areas of social life are completely neglected. Today millions of Indian citizens are being deprived of the minimum requirements of life and are struggling to procure adequate food, clothing, housing, education and medical treatment, while a handful of people are rolling in enormous wealth and luxury.
One of the most obvious defects of democracy is that voting is based upon universal suffrage. That is, the right to cast a vote depends on age. Once people reach a certain age, it is assumed that they have the requisite capacity to weigh the pros and cons of the issues in an election and select the best candidate. But there are many people above the voting age who have little or no interest in elections and are not conversant with social or economic issues. In many cases, they vote for the party rather than the candidate, and are swayed by election propaganda or the false promises of politicians. Those who have not reached the voting age are often more capable of selecting the best candidate than those who are entitled to vote. So age should not be the yardstick for voting rights.
Whether or not a candidate gets elected usually depends upon party affiliation, political patronage and election expenditure. In some cases it also depends on antisocial practices. Throughout the world, money plays a dominant role in the electoral process, and in nearly all cases, only those who are rich and powerful can hope to secure elected office. In those countries where voting is not compulsory, often only a small percentage of the population participates in the electoral process.
The prerequisites for the success of democracy are morality, education and socio-economico-political consciousness. Leaders especially must be people of high moral character, otherwise the welfare of society will be jeopardized. But today in most democracies, people of dubious character and those with vested interests are elected to power. Even bandits and murderers stand for election and form the government.
In almost all the countries of the world, the masses lack political consciousness. Cunning, erudite politicians take advantage of this shortcoming to confuse people and attain power. They resort to immoral practices such as bribery, vote rigging, booth capturing and buying of votes, and stand unopposed for elections. Consequently, the standard of morality in society is declining, and honest, competent people are relegated to the background. Moral leaders have less chance to win elections because election results are rigged through financial inducements, intimidation and brute force. In the present democratic system, all sorts of immoral and corrupt practices are given the opportunity to pervert society. The very nature of the present system is that it favours the capitalists and exposes the administration to immoral and corrupt forces.
The farce of democracy has been likened to a puppet show where a handful of power hungry politicians pull the strings from behind the scene. In liberal democracies, capitalists manipulate the mass media such as the radio, television and newspapers, while in socialist democracies the bureaucrats lead the country to the brink of destruction. In both forms of democracy, there is little scope for honest, competent leaders to emerge in society, and virtually no possibility for the economic liberation of the people.
Political democracy has become a great hoax for the people of the world. It promises the advent of an era of peace, prosperity and equality, but in reality it creates criminals, encourages exploitation and throws common people into an abyss of sorrow and suffering.
The days of political democracy are numbered. PROUT demands economic democracy, not political democracy. To make democracy successful, economic power must be vested in the hands of the common people and the minimum requirements of life must be guaranteed to all. This is the only way to ensure the economic liberation of the people. PROUT’S slogan is: “To end exploitation we demand economic democracy, not political democracy.”
People will have to opt for either political democracy or economic democracy. That is, they will have to choose a socio-economic system based on either a centralized economy or a decentralized economy. Which one will they select? Political democracy cannot fulfil the hopes and aspiration of people or provide the basis for constructing a strong and healthy human society. The only way to achieve this is to establish economic democracy.“- Sarkar, Prabhar, June 1986, Calcutta, Prout in a Nutshell Part 21, Economic Democracy