If ever you have discussed Capitalism, one argument people often throw is – they (Capitalists) have reached at this level because of their talent. Let me present an example of their so-called talent –
I bought a slipper, after two months, one of its straps got damaged. Went to purchase it. Shopkeepers said they don’t keep the straps anymore, they insisted me to buy a new slipper. Searched 4-5 shops, but of no use. When inquired, they said there is less Profit margin and so they don’t keep. One of them said, nowadays even companies don’t make the straps. Finally, I had to purchase a new pair of the slipper( ₹180 ) instead of a pair of the strap ( ₹ 30 / ₹50 ). While returning from the market I kept wondering about the waste generated, resources misutilised and of course that what if someone was not well enough to buy another pair of slipper just after two months. To those who think that Capitalist are making riches because of their talent, let me assert…that is pure exploitation!
Production for Profit Vs Production for Consumption:-
In a natural world, people would produce for themselves and for consumption…but in the capitalist system, people produce, not for themselves, but for few people who owns the means of production. Karl Marx has pointed out that there is the alienation of the workers from their productive activities and even from what they produce out of their own labour. Imagine, they couldn’t even own the goods they produced! Under this system the main goal of production is Profit. The craze for profit doesn’t have any end, resources are exploited to its fullest, environmental concerns overlooked and workers well being is not even a matter to concern. Everything is guided by lessening the production cost for more and more profit.
Since surplus is produced the next concern is how to sell them. This gives birth to the culture of consumerism. According to this, consuming things is an end itself, happiness or better living or status in society is associated with the[ amounts and quality of] goods one consume. For letting this happen, people are manipulated. Through advertisement, they are provoked to buy some specific kind of goods. An example is the ads and market of fairness creams, people are compelled to believe that they need fair skin and fair is better than the black one. Such complexes are injected to generate new markets and to sell their surplus products and for only one reason- Profit. The culture of consumerism also has a negative impact on the way people perceive the world. The focus is solely on material well being, this is a kind of limiting human existence to the physical world alone.
PROUT(Progressive Utilisation Theory) proposes Production For Consumption –
This doesn’t mean that there is zero profit, this means the motive of production should be consumption-based. Resources would be rationally used in such a system of production. There would be no need to waste resources on advertising the goods, no necessity of manipulating minds to get their products to sell. Economic tragedies like Inflation, depression deflation etc would not occur. These occur because of mismatch in demand and supply. When the motive of production is consumption, the produce would naturally get its customers.
Guaranteeing of Minimum Requirements( one of the basic principle of PROUT) is possible only through such mode of production. The production priorities are to be first for essential, then for demi essential and then for luxurious goods. There would be concern about the workers; they are also among those who would consume the produced goods. To maximize the profits, the producers try to cut the production costs and in this process, they do not give due weightage to workers’ well being. With more consumption of basic goods, people naturally would aspire for more- the consumption pattern will see rise every time the minimal level is
achieved..so there is no stopping here. What happens today in a Capitalist system is that there is the production of more profitable goods and less focus on consumption goods. These goods are consumed only by few who are capable of and thus leaving the larger masses who do not consume them out of focus. They even are not capable of consuming their essential goods but the system didn’t raise its scale production. This also creates another problem which is recently seen, for example, a household of four purchased an LED TV, a car, two ACs, three laptops…now what? On the other hand, people at the lower level of economy strive for meeting their consumption demands – a black and white TV or colour TV, bicycle or bike, or a fan. Unfortunately, the economic system has focused less on these. Now, a situation arises where – some people do not want to buy and many people couldn’t buy. In ‘production for consumption’, the economy would move ahead always, swiftly and more equitably hence benefiting all. Profit would naturally come as the consumption goods are needed by all. Resources are limited and they must be wisely used. After meeting the minimum necessities, the resources are then to be employed in production demi essential, semi-luxury or luxurious goods. Remember an old man who wore a single dhoti said: “The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed.”
Author: Varun Sarkar PROUTist Universal