Most of the old isms are now dead except for few embers in the minds of those who have seen their initial heydays. Classical version of socialism is one such defunct ideology. At the other end of the ideological spectrum is the highly imaginative (hence impractical) doctrine of “from each according to their might and to each according to their needs”. The need of the times is a viable social ideology by mixing socialism with social justice. The two main problems with classical socialism were its irrationality in equalising unequal beings and injustice in terms of denying legitimate rights of the abler. A rational and just version of socialism (we will call it ‘raju’ socialism) will be the best target for any modern society. “Raju” is the symbolic name of a common man in India and ‘raju’ version of socialism can satisfy his hopes & aspirations more than any other system. A brief outline of such a socialist society is attempted here.
The best way to describe a socio-political ideology is to describe the nature of society (country or nation) that it will usher in. In this respect, any society can claim to have achieved ‘raju’ socialism only when the following four minimum conditions have been met:-
· Basic minimum requirements for all
· No negative discrimination whatsoever
· Proportional representation in power & economic structure
· Rational distribution of wealth
In any modern society, the question of social justice comes in only after the basic requirements of the common man have been met. In addition to the essential minimum of food, shelter & clothing, the modern man wants good infrastructure too in terms of water, roads, electricity, health, education and entertainment. If these items are not readily available and affordable to (almost) all the members of a society, there is no point in talking about social justice or socialism in that society. These basic requirements constitute the canvas on which the picture of ‘raju’ socialism can be drawn. In addition to the bare canvas, we need the framework of freedom of life, movement, expression, and faith to hold together the picture. In the absence of such basics, all talk about social justice and liberation are meaningless and like drawing a picture on water. So the first step of the leaders who want to attain ‘raju’ socialism in their society is to get the basics right.
Any society that has attained ‘raju’ socialism must be devoid of all types of negative discrimination. No one should be prevented from doing anything or enjoying any benefit because of reasons beyond his/her control like birth, colour, race etc. The only thing good and rational about classical socialism was its strong advocacy of equality before law. All members of a society must be equal before the common law of the land and only the selected or elected few must be assigned special privileges on strictly ex-officio basis for a fixed period. Elected leaders are like idols in a temple and unless we give or assign them special privileges and powers, they will be weak in taking decisions. However, there must be strong restraining and punitive laws against those who violate the spirit of equality. The psychological impact of a non-discriminatory justice system is very high in the eyes of the common man in any society. If an ex-ruler is arrested and treated as an ordinary criminal for confirmed corruption charges, the ordinary citizens of such a country will not be shameful but proud.
Every society is made up of several communities or groups. Each such group or community must share the responsibilities and benefits in direct proportion to their numerical strength in an ideal and just society. To do that, each community should have their representation in the power and economic structure in direct proportion to their population. Imagine a state (in the Indian union) with X,Y and Z communities in the ratio of 20%, 25% and 55% respectively. If at any point of time, the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and Chief of Police in that state happen to be from ‘X’, there is something definitely wrong with the political state of affairs. If 50% of the doctors and engineers belong to ‘X’, there is something rotten in the social sector. If 75% of the trade and agriculture is controlled by ‘X’ and ‘Y’ together, there is something seriously wrong in economics as well. The state is far away attaining ‘raju’ socialism.
Distribution of wealth according to the capability and needs of the individuals is the crux of ‘raju’ socialism. Once the very basic requirements of even the weakest member of a society have been met, further distribution of wealth must be according to the capability and efforts of the individuals. There is absolutely no logic in restraining any individual from accumulating wealth by merit and fair means. If someone is intelligent and hardworking, he/she should definitely have avenues to become wealthier without any hindrance. Those who are more capable and hardworking must be richer than the ones who are idiotic and lazy. Such a system will motivate or provoke the less capable and lazy to perform better. Instead of creating an artificial equality by bloody revolutions, efforts should be made to mould a competitive system by rewarding excellence. That is the only way a healthy competitive upward mobile society can evolve for the good of each and everyone.
Ways & Means
On the whole, the ‘raju’ socialism expounded above contains shades of socialism, social justice, welfare state and capitalist ideologies. More important are the ways & means of reaching such a ‘raju’ socialist state. We have seen Communism failing miserably in creating a sustainable socialist society through bloody revolution (by the proletariat) in the USSR experiment. It is now confirmed that neither politicians nor dictators can lead us to a just society. We need natural leaders of the like of Mahatma Gandhi, who combined politics with spirituality. Ordinary political leaders are not necessarily natural leaders but most often aberrations in the arithmetic of electoral politics. A ‘raju’ socialist society must be built on consensus based on a constitution drafted by natural leaders who have won the trust of the society by their living style and not their speeches alone. In modern democracies, there must be a forum for such natural leaders for providing the guidance. In India, the old concept of having a ‘Dharma Sabha’ made up of spiritual leaders (proportionately from all religions) above the elected ‘Lok Sabha’ and ‘Rajya Sabha’ can be the best vehicle for attaining a ‘raju’ socialist society.