The Biopsychology of Cooperation Part Eight

Those who believe that the left-right polarization of traditional politics will
find no place to draw energy in a cooperative society presumably believe that
policy debates with egalitarian implications, for example, concerning income
ratios and minimum requirements, will be resolved by rational argument.
However, the evidence suggests that the psychological factors which incline a
person to favour a more conservative versus a more egalitarian position on
such issues are not going to disappear even in a more cooperative society.
Recent research has shown that where a person is positioned on the political
spectrum has physiological and genetic correlates. According to a U.S. study
published in Science,183 political views are an integral part of ones physiology.
Forty-six volunteers were asked about their views on a range of political issues
before measuring their physiological responses (interpreted as levels of fear) to
a range of non-political stimuli, for example, sudden loud noises and
frightening images (including pictures of a man with a large spider on his face
and an open wound with maggots). “Those individuals with measurably lower
physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more
likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun
control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological
reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favour defence spending,
capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq War.” The researchers concluded
that “the degree to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat
appears to indicate the degree to which they advocate policies that protect the
existing social structure from both external (outgroup) and internal (normviolator)
A number of studies184 suggest that political orientation has a genetic
component. A study of 30,000 twins from Virginia, USA, found that identical
twins are more likely than non-identical twins to give the same answers to
political questions. The explanation appears to lie in other independent studies
which show that some personality traits are highly heritable and that political
leaning depends on those traits. For example, conscientiousness, openness,
extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism are all accepted as basic
components of personality and they are all known to be highly heritable. The
first three are correlated with political persuasion. Republican voters in the
USA score more highly on conscientiousness but Democrat voters score more
highly on openness and extroversion.
There is much irony here for socialists, for they strongly support policies that
stress the importance of nurture and yet their policy preferences (so the
evidence suggests) betray an influence of nature.
From a Darwinian perspective, the health of a species depends on the existence
of ‘hidden’ genetic variability within its populations. A genetically determined
trait may be advantageous in one environment but not in another. The success
of any species depends on maintaining diverse genetic resources. We may
assume that the diversity of human personalities (and the consequent diversity
of political views) serves an important purpose for human society as a whole
but it also means that debates about egalitarianism run deep and will be with us
for a long time to come.
The Future of Cooperation – Psycho-economics
Contemporary economics is divided into two disciplines: microeconomics and
macroeconomics. Sarkar proposes dividing economics into four disciplines:
people’s economics, general economics, commercial economics and psychoeconomics.
Contemporary economics is primarily devoted to commercial
interests. People’s economics, by contrast, is concerned with the provision of
the minimum requirements of life using local resources, and psycho-economics
is concerned with satisfying subtler human aspirations.
People’s economy will be the main concern of undeveloped and
developing countries, but psycho-economy will gain increasing
importance in the future once the problems of subsistence are gradually
solved. Psycho-economy will be of major importance in a highly
developed and mechanized economy where people may only work a few
hours a week and have much spare time.185
Sarkar divides psycho-economy into two branches. The first investigates the
psychology, behaviours and institutional arrangements which make people
more susceptible to economic exploitation. “The first and foremost duty of
psycho-economics is to wage a tireless fight against all degenerating and
dehumanizing economic trends in society.” The second branch of psychoeconomy
hints at the subsequent development of neuro-economics and beyond.
This branch is virtually unknown today, but it will become an extremely
important branch of economics in the future. It will ensure equilibrium
and equipoise in all levels of the economy. It will find new and creative
solutions to economic problems to nurture the maximum utilization of
psychic and spiritual potentialities. Psycho-economics will add to the
glaring glamour of economics.186
Psycho-economics will surely develop in directions that we cannot yet
imagine, but it nevertheless has practical relevance in today’s world. In
developed economies (by definition, those which can provide the minimum
requirements of life to all), its most obvious expression will be cultivation of
the fine arts187 – not just to provide entertainment but to engage the individual
and collective minds with more subtle feelings and thoughts. If building a
cooperative society requires a constant struggle against individual selfishness
and narrow social dogmas, the fine arts provide us with the inspiration to make
that struggle because they can take one beyond limited ego and personal
concerns. The fine arts have the potential to engender feelings of love, awe and
respect for all the different peoples and living things in this world. They
overcome barriers and build bridges of affection.
The entire aesthetics is the only charming entity in human life. Had there
been no aesthetics, human life would have been just like a desert. A slight
touch of aesthetics in this anxiety-ridden life of human beings is just like
an oasis in a desert. Art, architecture, literature, music – everything had
its origin, had its starting point – where? Just at the common point of
aesthetics and mystics.188
Earlier it was noted that the struggle to create an egalitarian society can
succeed only as fast as culture and collective social consciousness are prepared
to accommodate it. We now go a step further and argue that education and the
fine arts provide the keys to changing culture and in combination they are the
most powerful force for social improvement. As an example we can turn to the
success of El Sistema, Venezuela’s 32-year-old program of social action
through music. This program has been so successful that it is now being
emulated around the world. It is estimated that a million Venezuelan children
have participated in El Sistema and currently a quarter of a million Venezuelan
teenagers and children, most from impoverished backgrounds, are being filled
with an “affluence of the spirit”189 through the intensive study of music and
participation in orchestras, choirs and ensembles. The goal of the program is to
help disadvantaged children become fully participating members of society.
The rationale is that the many skills required to play in an orchestra or sing in a
choir can be translated to the wider social setting.
When you work in the kind of ensemble musical activity that El Sistema
fosters, you are essentially developing into a social being, a cooperative
being, a non-violent being, someone who has the empathy to want to
reach out and help others…190
Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema, was asked why he made the
unlikely choice of music for disadvantaged children rather than the more
obvious choice of sports, especially soccer. Abreu acknowledged that sport has
the virtue of being invigorating, motivating and promoting physical health. But
disadvantaged youths have had the message drummed into them throughout
their lives, “You are a loser.” The problem with competitive sports is that 50
percent or more of them will continue to get the message reinforced, “You are
a loser.”
This is one problem that we do not encounter with playing in a symphony
orchestra because a symphony orchestra is a rare and unique
organization, whose only purpose and only reason for being is to be in
agreement with itself. We are a community and we all win simply by
participating in it.191
A note of caution is probably in order here. The fine arts are essential for
human well-being but they do not promise utopia. Hitler and Stalin attempted
to co-opt artists and musicians in the service of their tyranny. Those who did
not succumb were killed or sent to prison camps. The American music critic
Alex Ross has described “the awful warping effect that happened, in classical
music in particular” as a result of the engagement of Nazi Germany with the
fine arts. “You can see the danger of artists becoming too involved with
politics and being too impressed with politicians who take an interest in art.”192
The message is clear. Politicians must not be allowed to use the arts for their
own ends and yet it is their duty to create a social and economic environment
in which the arts can flourish. The vindication of this approach can be seen in
the El Sistema project.
I would love to be able to say that the problems of gang violence and
poverty [in Venezuela] have gone away completely but what I can say
[about Abreu’s system] is that over the years, with a million children
having gone through this system, those who have experienced it are
among the most brilliant, poised, self-assured, curious, engaged young
leaders of the future that I have ever met. I think that is about as good a
sign of a system that works and frees people from the shackles that they
were… born into and might have been fettered with for the rest of their
lives, as any could possibly be.193
A healthy human society can only be founded on a social theory that
recognizes humans as multidimensional beings, that is, as having metaphysical
and spiritual aspirations in addition to their physical aspirations. Given the
history of utopian visions gone wrong, it is important to guard against naivety –
a cooperative society will not be established without struggle and without a
commitment to cardinal human values and Neo-ethics. Human beings are both
selfish and cooperative – our struggle is to encourage the latter in as many
ways as possible and to control the former in as many ways as possible.
Cooperation must not be allowed to become another dogma. Coordinated
cooperation will require a good scientific understanding of the physiological,
psychological and environmental factors which encourage cooperation and
those which do not. The research to date offers good grounds for optimism.
Human beings have a strong genetic and physiological foundation on which to
build a better society and there is every reason to suppose that a cooperative
society can be built given any reasonable effort in that direction.
We conclude with Sarkar’s definition of society because it encapsulates many
of the ideas developed in this article.
The concerted effort to bridge the gap between the first expression of
morality and establishment in universal humanism is called “social
progress”. And the collective body of those who are engaged in the
concerted effort to conquer this gap, I call “society”.194
The phrase “first expression of morality” clearly implies the emergence of a
natural system of morality, certainly not one that was imposed from the
outside. We might speculate that this occurred sometime in the late Palaeolithic
(Old Stone Age) or early Neolithic (New Stone Age) when there is clear
evidence for aesthetic expression and burial of the dead with artefacts.
Aesthetics and ethics are closely linked in the Eastern understanding of
developmental psychology.195
The term universal humanism is clearly an anticipation of Neohumanism (the
above definition dates back to 1957). A society established in Neohumanism
would accept Neo-ethics as its moral compass and would enjoy a degree of
egalitarianism such that remaining class and group differences would not
provoke disruptive social antagonisms. We cannot reasonably expect such a
society to be achieved anytime in the near future, but without the vision, it is
not possible to take steps in that direction.
The author wishes to acknowledge Jake Karlyle, Ivana Milojevic, Sohail
Inayatullah, Marcus Bussey and Firdaus Ghista for helpful feedback during the
various drafts of this article.
About the Author
Michael Towsey studied biology at Auckland University (New Zealand) in the
late 1960s and later obtained his PhD in computer science from Queensland
University. For most of his career Michael has been a research scientist. He
started in the field of plant physiology, moved to crop physiology and after
obtaining his PhD turned to biological applications of machine learning.
Michael is a founding member and associate of Prout College. In relaxed
mode, he plays in two recorder ensembles and potters around in a community
Davies, Geoff. Economia: New economic systems to empower people and support the living
world. (EC) ABC Books, First Edition, 2004. ISBN 0 7333 1298 5.
Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy, (HWP) Unwin University Books, New
Edition, 1961.
Sarkar, P. R., Prout in a Nutshell, Parts 1-21 (PN1, PN2, etc.) AM Publications; Parts 1-12,
First Edition, 1987; Parts 13-15, First Edition, 1988; Parts 16-21, First Edition, 1991.
(Note: Prout in a Nutshell contains all of P. R. Sarkar’s discourses on Prout.)
Sarkar, P. R., Proutist Economics – Discourses on Economic Liberation (PE). AM
Publications, First Edition, 1992. ISBN 81-7252-002-6. (Note: Proutist Economics contains
all the author’s discourses on economics, which are also contained in Prout in a Nutshell.)
Sarkar, P. R., Human Society, Part 1 (HS1). AM Publications, Fourth English Edition, 1998.
Part 1 was dictated in Bengali in 1957. First Bengali Edition, 1959. First English Edition,
1962. (Note: All the chapters in this book are also published in Prout in a Nutshell.)
Sarkar, P. R., Human Society, Part 2 (HS2) AM Publications. Fourth English Edition, 1998.
Dictated 1967, First Bengali Edition, 1967. First English Edition, 1967. (Note: All the
chapters in this book are also published in Prout in a Nutshell.)
Sarkar, P. R., Human Society (HS). AM Publications, Second English Edition, 1999. First
English Edition, 1987. (Note: Human Society is the one volume book containing both
Human Society, Part 1, and Human Society, Part 2.)
Sarkar, P. R., Problems of the Day (POD). AM Publications, Fourth English Edition, 1993.
The discourse was originally given in Bengali, 26 January 1958, Bhagalpur. First published
in both Bengali and English, 1959. (Note: This discourse is also published in Prout in a
Sarkar, P. R., Idea and Ideology (I&I). AM Publications, Seventh English Edition, 1993. First
English Edition, 1959. Originally dictated in English, 1959. (Note: The last two chapters of
this book, which deal with Prout, are also published in Prout in a Nutshell.)
Sarkar, P. R., Discourses on Prout (DOP). AM Publications, First English Edition, 1993. This
book is a series of six discourses given in English at the First Conference of Proutists, 17-
22 October, 1959. (Note: These discourses are also contained in Prout in a Nutshell.)
Sarkar, P. R., The Electronic Edition of the Works of P. R. Sarkar (ElEdit). AM Publications,
Version 7.0, 2006. (Note: All the discourses and books by P. R. Sarkar included in the
above reference list are also available in this electronic edition. ElEdit Version 7.0 contains
the most recent translations available of all Sarkar’s discourses and books.
Stretton, Hugh. Economics – A New Introduction. (ENI) Pluto Press: London, 1999.
Note: In the following endnotes, a space may have been inserted into some URLs in order to
facilitate formatting. If a URL does not work, check for the insertion of a gap.
1 Prout (the Progressive Utilization Theory) is the socio-economic theory developed by the
Indian philosopher, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921-1990).
2 Sarkar, P. R. “Cooperatives” (PE), p 128. For a more general introduction to Prout read, After
Capitalism – Prout’s Vision for a New World by Ac. Maheshvarananda Avt., Proutist
Universal Publications, ISBN: 1-877762-06-7, First Edition 2003.
3 Sarkar, P. R. “Shudra Revolution and Sadvipra Society”, (HS2).
4 Towsey, Michael. “The Three-Tier Enterprise System”, in Understanding Prout – Essays on
Sustainability and Transformation, Volume 1, Proutist Universal Australia, 2009.
5 Bihari, Pranav. What factors led to the emergence and early growth of the British cooperative
movement in the 19th century? Unpublished master’s thesis, 2009, London
School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
6 Engels, Fredrick. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume 3,
pp 95-151, Progress Publishers, 1970. First published 1880. Download Version:
Marx/Engels Internet Archive,
7 Russell (HWP) p 747.
8 The International Cooperative Alliance. ICA Membership Statistics. 2007, retrieved 5 August
2008 from The ICA defines cooperatives
as “collectively owned and democratically controlled economic enterprises”.
9 Many of Australia’s most successful cooperatives in the agricultural sector have fallen prey to
large corporations seeking to privatize capital that was accumulated cooperatively. The
push to demutualize cooperatives has succeeded for at least two reasons: 1) large
cooperatives were finding it difficult to obtain finance from private financial institutions to
expand their operations, and 2) the shareholders/owners of cooperatives, many of them
farmers, had forgotten why their cooperatives had been formed in the first place and the
advantages of them.
10 A friendly or mutual society is a mutual association for insurance, pensions, savings and
loan-like purposes. Many still exist today.
11 The word communism can be used in two senses. As used by Marxist socialists, it refers to
the ideal classless society expected to be formed after the overthrow of capitalism and an
intermediate period of socialism. Its second more common use refers to those states, such
as the USSR and China, which attempted to implement the Marxist social agenda. This
essay uses the term in the second sense. We use the phrase classless society to refer to the
more formal notion of a communist society.
12 The difference between a social enterprise and a cooperative is partly one of definition. Yet
the difference may be important. A cooperative has a distinct legal structure that defines the
shared ownership of assets and a more democratic management structure. Social
enterprises, on the other hand, according to the Wikipedia entry under that heading, are
“social mission driven organizations which trade in goods or services for a social
purpose… It could be that the profit (or surplus) from the business is used to support social
aims (whether or not related to the activity of the business, as in a charity shop), or that the
business itself accomplishes the social aim through its operation, for instance by employing
disadvantaged people (social firms) or lending to businesses that have difficulty in securing
investment from mainstream lenders.” Missing from this definition are explicit statements
concerning the ownership of capital, amount of surplus returned to workers and
management style.
13 Pearce, John. Social Enterprise in Anytown. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2003.
14 The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) argued in a famous treatise,
Leviathan, that all ‘men’ are equal in nature, but by nature they desire their own liberty and
to acquire dominion over others. From these impulses arises a war of all against all, which
makes life “nasty, brutish and short”. Unlike bees and ants, human beings cannot cooperate
because their nature is to compete. Strong centralized government alone can prevent the
brutishness of life from overwhelming society.
15 Cole, George D. H. A Century of Cooperation, George Allen and Unwin Ltd. for The
Cooperative Union Ltd. First Edition, 1944. Downloadable from:
stream/centuryofcoopera035522mbp/centuryofcoopera035522mbp_djvu.txt. Cole is a noted
historian of the cooperative and socialist movements in Britain from the 18th century
through to the early 20th century. See also Cole, A History of Socialist Thought, 7 Volumes.
The Wikipedia entry offers a complete list of
Cole’s works.
16 The opening paragraph of A Century of Cooperation (Cole, ibid) offers a deeply-felt
introduction to the times: “The decade in which the Pioneers of Rochdale founded their
Cooperative Store is known to historians as ‘The Hungry Forties’. It deserves the name, not
only on account of the devastating famines which swept Ireland when the potato harvests
failed, but hardly less for the sufferings experienced by the working classes in Great
Britain. The great enlargement of the powers of production which followed upon the new
inventions in the textile industries and on the application of steam-power to manufacture
and transport ought, had it been rightly used, to have added largely to the wealth and
prosperity of the entire people: in fact, it inflicted upon them monstrous hardships which
still arouse bitter indignation when one looks back upon them from the vantage point of
today. One sees a hard generation of employers grinding the faces of the poor, and even
making a merit of so doing, with the support of the orthodox economics of the day and of
an other-worldly religion which taught that the ‘deserving poor’ would be richly
compensated for their sufferings in this world by their blessings in the next.”
17 The first consumer cooperative may have been founded on 14 March 1761, in a cottage in
Fenwick, East Ayrshire, when local weavers manhandled a sack of oatmeal into John
Walker’s front room and began selling the contents at a discount, forming the Fenwick
Weavers’ Society. George Cole (ibid) claims that the originators of the cooperative
business were “workmen employed by the government in the dockyards of Woolwich and
Chatham, who, as early as 1760, had founded corn mills on a Cooperative basis as a move
against the high prices charged by the corn-millers who held the local monopoly. These
early Societies speedily found themselves in conflict with the private bakers as well as with
the millers; and when, in 1760, the Woolwich Mill was burnt down, the local bakers were
accused of arson, a charge which they rebutted in a statement sworn before the Mayor. To
this burning we owe our knowledge of this early Cooperative mill, and also of the mill at
18 For example, Lockhurst Lane Industrial Cooperative Society (founded in 1832 and now
Heart of England Cooperative Society), and Galashiels and Hawick Cooperative Societies
(1839 or earlier, now Lothian, Borders and Angus Cooperative Society).
19 Cole, George. The British Cooperative Movement in a Socialist Society, Allen and Unwin,
London, 1951.
20 Bihari, Op. Cit.
21 The Benthamites were an extremely influential group of British philosophers, jurists and
social reformers in the first half of the 19th century. They were named after Jeremy
Bentham (1748-1832) and also included James Mill, John Stuart Mill and (for a time)
Robert Owen. The Benthamites are best remembered for their advocacy of utilitarianism as
a social ethic because they believed it to promote individual and economic freedom. To this
end they also advocated free trade. Their social agenda included animal rights, the
separation of church and state, equal rights for women, the abolition of slavery and the
death penalty, the right to divorce and the decriminalization of homosexual acts.
22 Owen never embraced Marxist communism. Rather it seems Engels is attempting to co-opt
those parts of Owen’s program that he finds amenable to his own.
23 Engels, Fredrick. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume
3, pp 95-151, Progress Publishers, 1970. Download Version: Marx/Engels Internet Archive,
24 Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825): a French utopian philosopher and founder of French
socialism. Like all the utopian socialists, he was opposed to class revolt and instead
attempted to implement his ideals by moral appeal to those in power.
25 The four principles presented here are modified from Roger Scruton, A Dictionary of
Political Thought, Pan, 1982.
26 Owen, Robert. A New View of Society, First Edition, 1813, p 9.
27 Owen, ibid, p 12, emphasis in original.
28 James was father of the more famous John Stuart Mill, who helped to develop the ethical and
theoretical foundations of neoclassical economics.
29 As quoted by Russell (HWP) p 747.
30 Ibid.
31 New Harmony survives today as a town in Indiana. See, link valid 12 December 2009.
32 See the Wikipedia entry on Robert Owen under the heading Community Experiment in
America (1825)
33 Warren, Josiah. Periodical Letter II, 1856, as quoted in the Wikipedia entry, ibid.
34 Contemporary neoliberalism can be understood as the 20th century manifestation of laissezfaire
35 Stretton (ENI) p 101.
36 Gunnell, Barbara. “A bend in the river”, Griffith Review 25, September 2009. Also an
interview with B. Gunnell by Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National, Saturday Extra,
22 August 2009,
37 Just as today, most 19th century academic economists were out of touch with the realities of
poverty. They published essays on the six kinds of poverty, four of which were culpable
because they were the outcome of a failure of will. To help the poor was morally wrong. To
give shoes to a poor person, for example, would weaken their will to purchase their own
pair of shoes. See Gunnell, ibid.
38 It is worth remembering that bankruptcies do not diminish the ardour of capitalists for
private enterprise.
39 Marx, Karl and Engels, Communist Manifesto, Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works,
Volume One, Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR, 1969, pp 98-137; first published 1848.
Translated: Samuel Moore in cooperation with Frederick Engels, 1888. Download Version:
Marx/Engels Internet Archive,
40 Engels, Op. Cit.
41 Cole, A Century of Cooperation, chapter 10, Op. Cit.
42 Ibid.
43 Cole, A Century of Cooperation, chapter 11, Op. Cit.
44 In Critique of the Gotha Program, (Section 3) Marx makes it clear that the cooperative mode
of production had no worth in itself and was of interest only to the extent that it represented
the struggle of workers “to revolutionize the present conditions of production”. Here is the
entire passage: “That the workers desire to establish the conditions for cooperative
production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale, in their own country, only
means that they are working to revolutionize the present conditions of production, and it
has nothing in common with the foundation of cooperative societies with state aid. But as
far as the present cooperative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they
are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or
of the bourgeois.”
45 George Cole, Op. Cit., possibly the best historian of 19th century cooperation and socialism,
was himself a member of the Fabian society for a short period.
46 Harold Lydall. Yugoslav Socialism: Theory and Practice, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.
See also a review of this book by André Sapir in The Economic Journal, September 1985,
pp 820,, link valid 23 December 2009.
47 As quoted by Sapir, ibid.
48 Russell (HWP) p 696.
49 The following exposition on Nietzsche is due entirely to Bertrand Russell, (HWP), Chapter
50 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, as quoted by Russell, (HWP) p 731. The italics are in
Nietzsche’s original text.
51 Russell (HWP) p 736.
52 Actually Russell refers to the “absence of sympathy” which he defines as “being made
unhappy by the suffering of others”. Empathy is a broader concept than sympathy (see, for
example, the distinction at I have
chosen to use the word empathy (the word Russell might have used if writing today) in
order to be consistent with what is to come.
53 Partridge, Ernest. Evil as the Absence of Empathy, Atlantic Free Press, 14 August 2008,
54 At this point it is helpful to clarify the differences in nuance between morality and ethics.
Here are the Oxford American Dictionary definitions. Morality: “principles concerning the
distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour” and “a particular system
of values and principles of conduct, esp. one held by a specified person or society” e.g.,
bourgeois morality. Ethics: “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behaviour”
and “the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles”. Clearly these definitions
overlap. Over the 200 years which this essay spans, usage of these words has changed
somewhat. Today, use depends on context. Morality is used in a normative context and
ethics in a professional or philosophical context. In this essay, the words tend to be used
interchangeably, depending on context and the word used by the author under
55 Blackledge, Paul. “Marxism and Ethics”, International Socialism – A Quarterly Journal of
Socialist Theory, Issue: 120, International Socialism, London, 2008. Web:
Blackledge is citing Terry Eagleton.
56 Blackledge, ibid.
57 Blackledge, ibid.
58 Blackledge, ibid.
59 For a brief description of the classless society, see the Wikipedia entry:
60 Engels, Op. Cit.
61 Ibid.
62 This famous slogan appears in Part I of Critique of the Gotha Program by Karl Marx (1875).
However Marx did not invent it. It was common to the socialists of the 19th century and can
be traced to the utopian socialist Henri de Saint Simon. See under
the heading “From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_need”.
63 It should be remembered that the principles of genetic inheritance were only gradually
elucidated in the second half of 19th century and first half of 20th century, and of course
their basis in DNA was not understood until the 1950s.
64 Lysenko came to prominence in the 1930’s during the crisis brought about by forced
collectivization of Soviet agriculture. He denounced the geneticists of his day as “fly-lovers
and people haters” – fly-lovers because, at the time, the principles of genetics were being
elucidated by breeding experiments with fruit flies, a research preoccupation which
appeared to have little relevance to the plight of Soviet agriculture. In 1948, genetics was
denounced as a bourgeois pseudoscience and prominent geneticists were executed or sent to
labour camps. A ban on genetics research was not lifted until the mid 1960’s by which time
immense damage had been done. Lysenkoism also spread to other communist countries and
was not eradicated from China until long after it was denounced in the Soviet Union.
65 See, for example, the Wikipedia entry on Lysenko. But note also the caution expressed
concerning the extent to which Lysenko’s rise can be attributed to ideological as opposed to
political reasons.
66 James Wood in an interview on the ABC, Radio National, The Book Show, 11 May 2009,
10am, concerning his essay
“A Fine Rage”, The New Yorker, 13 April 2009, p 54,
67 Russell (HWP).
68 Muravchik, Joshua. Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, Encounter Books,
ISBN 1-893554-45-7, 2002.
69 Russell (HWP) p 508.
70 Sarkar, P.R. The Liberation of Intellect. AM Publications, 1982.
71 Stretton (ENI) p 36.
72 The author believes it was John Kenneth Galbraith who observed that conservatism
represents the age old endeavour to find the moral high ground for selfishness!
73 Sarkar, P. R. “Suppression, Repression and Oppression”, in (PN17) and (ElEdit), 1989.
74 See the Wikipedia entry on the Fabian Society,,
for a picture of its logo. The emblem is inspired by Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the
75 Sarkar, “Shúdra Revolution and Sadvipra Society”, last chapter in (HS2). In his socioeconomic
writings Sarkar often writes from the perspective of an historian. Indeed, in To
the Patriots he notes, “Politics is neither my hobby nor my profession. I am a student of
history.” Sarkar often makes direct and indirect references to historical debates and
understanding these references helps to understand Prout.
76 Ibid.
77 Ibid.
78 Sarkar, P. R. “Art and Science”. Published in Ánanda Vacanámrtam, Part 14, First Edition,
originally published in A Few Problems Solved, Part 4, 1979.
79 Sarkar, P. R. “Suppression, Repression and Oppression”, in (PN17) and (ElEdit), 1989.
80 Sarkar, P. R. “The Excellence of God-Centred Philosophy”, in (PN18).
81 At the time of writing this paragraph in July 2009, the Global Financial Crisis is still
unfolding and its impact on the future of capitalism is not yet fully understood.
82 Fox, Justin. “Blame Them: Who got the U.S. into this financial mess?” Time magazine, 12
January 2009, p 31.
83 Ibid, pp 39.
84 Richardson, Susan. “Why do Women make Hopeless Economists? (Or fail to succeed
playing man-made economics by men’s rules.” Economic Papers, vol 17, 1 March, 1998.
As quoted in Stretton, H. (1999) p 236.
85 Richardson, 1998, ibid.
86 Richardson, 1998, ibid.
87 Hazeldine, Tim. Taking New Zealand Seriously – the economics of decency. Auckland:
Harper Collins Publishers, 1998. Chapter 8.
88 As reported in the Brisbane evening paper, mX, 3 April 2009, under the heading “Coke must
correct false health claims”.
89 See the Wikipedia entry on Placebo for further information
( According to another study, the response to a
placebo increased from 44% to 62% when the doctor gave them with “warmth, attention,
and confidence”.
90 Pine, Karen. A study done at Hertfordshire
University, England, 2009.
92 Khamsi, Roxanne. “Envious monkeys can spot a fair deal.” New Scientist, 13 November
2007. Original report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI:
can-spot-a-fair-deal.html, valid link 27 January 2010. See also Frans B. M. de
Waal, “How Animals Do Business – Humans and other animals share a heritage of
economic tendencies – including cooperation, repayment of favours and resentment at
being short-changed”, Scientific American, April 2005.
93 Powell, Kendall. Economy of the Mind, PLoS Biology, v1(3) p 312, 2003.
94 Sarkar (I&I) p 133.
95 Hazeldine, 1998, Op. Cit.
96 Jesson, Bruce. Only Their Purpose is Mad – The money men take over New Zealand, The
Dunmore Press, 1999. ISBN 0 86469 343 5.
97 Jesson, 1999, ibid.
98 The author has read various versions of this famous remark. Davies (EC) cites B. Toohey,
Tumbling Dice, William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne, 1994, p52.
99 Russell, (HWP) p 745. Ethical systems that determine the virtue of an action by its
consequences are known as consequentialist. Utilitarianism is just one example of
consequentialism. Consequentialism is to be contrasted with systems of ethics that find
virtue in duty, or intention or the law of God.
100 Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. First
Edition, 1776. Accessible through chapter headings at
101 Davies (EC) p 47.
102 Chomsky, Noam. “The Masters of Man” in Notes of NAFTA, 1993.–.htm
103 Altman, Daniel, “Managing Globalization”. In: Q & A with Joseph E. Stiglitz, Columbia
University and The International Herald Tribune, 11 October 2006. The quoted passage is part of an
answer to the following question: Q. What I find difficult to imagine is why a “superior
authority,” such as the government or an international organization, would be able to
regulate/decide what is the best trading strategy for any given country/region/community.
Why shouldn’t we let the free market forces determine what is the best for the world? What
is your opinion on the issue of free worldwide market forces versus regulation?
104 The author became aware of this research as a result of a letter from Murray Cree to
Geraldine Doogue, the presenter of Saturday Extra, Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
Saturday 4 April 2009, The figures
cited are those supplied in Cree’s letter. Cree states that the research was published in the
Certified Practicing Accountants Journal 1993. It is also cited in Murray Cree and Geoffrey
Baring, “Desperately Seeking Ethics”, Australian Accountant (July):25-26, 1991.
105 Billen, Andrew. “Goodbye to glib gurus and their gobbledygook”, The Times Online, 9
March 2009
106 Daniel Gross. Why Harvard Is Bad for Wall Street – Obscure Economic Indicators:
Harvard Business School graduates on Wall Street. SLATE: Posted 19 November 2004
107 Leslie Wayne. “A Promise to Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality”, The New York Times,
Times Reader 2.0, 2009,
108 Ibid.
109 The invisibility of power in the contemporary teaching of university economics would
appear to be an example of what the Portuguese philosopher and co-founder of the World
Social Forum, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, calls abyssal thinking. Abyssal thinking creates
systems of visible distinctions in order to render other more fundamental distinctions
invisible. In the case of mainstream Western economics, the visible distinction is the
tension between distributive rationality and distributive justice and the invisible distinction
is between the economically powerful and those colonized. According to de Sousa Santos,
“the struggle for global social justice must be a struggle for global cognitive justice as well.
In order to succeed, this struggle requires a new kind of thinking, a post-abyssal thinking.”
See Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2007) Beyond abyssal thinking: From global lines to
ecologies of knowledges.
110 This is a reference to a statement of Margaret Thatcher (cited by Davies, 2004, p 38) that
monetarism (the monetary policy of neoliberalism) is not just a theory but is as “essential as
the law of gravity”.
111 Davies (EC) Is neoclassical theory scientific? Part 6, p 62
112 This is the title of an editorial in The Australian, 2 April 2009, p. 13. For the benefit of non-
Australian readers, The Australian is an extremely conservative, yet very influential daily
newspaper. The editorial was prompted by a well-publicized speech given by the Prime
Minister, Kevin Rudd, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, in which he castigated the “false
god” of “unfettered free markets”. According to the editorial, Mr Rudd overlooked the fact
that world markets are “in the process of self-correcting”. The editorial conveniently did
not mention that the self-correction required many billions of tax-payers money, leaving a
public debt that will require a decade or more to repay.
113 Geoff Davies sums up capitalism thus: “The theory is bunk and the practice is ruining the
world.” Davies (EC) p 15.
114 The characteristics of fascism are similar across cultural boundaries. Japanese society just
prior to World War Two was not dissimilar to that of Italy and Germany – characterized by
imperialism, militarism, racism and social stratification. Torture and propaganda were
important instruments of the state, used to maintain order and ideological purity.
115 Sarkar, P. R. “Social Psychology”, in Tattvika Praveshika, First Edition, 1957, in (ElEdit).
116 As quoted by Roger Lewin, Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, ISBN:0020147953 /
9780020147954 / 0-02-014795-3. Simon and Schuster. Churchland goes on to acknowledge
that although she does not believe in Cartesian dualism, “we cannot claim to have ruled it
117 Wilbur, Ken. Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm. First Edition, 1984. Third
Revised Edition, 2001: ISBN 1-57062-741-X.
118 Sarkar, P. R. “Talks on Education: Basic Differences in Attitude between the East and the
West”, in (ElEdit).
119 Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. “Tantra and its Effect on Society”, in Discourses on Tantra,
Volume 2, AM Publications, 1994. Original discourse, 1959.
120 Sarkar, P.R. Ananda Marga: Elementary Philosophy. 1963. First Bengali Edition, 1955.
First English Edition, 1961. In (ElEdit).
121 This terminology was introduced by Sarkar in the context of his theory of Microvita. The
theory lies outside the scope of this essay but may be the subject of a future essay in this
122 Sarkar, P. R. The Supreme Question – 1, 1957, in (ElEdit).
123 Wilbur, Ken. Eye to Eye, Op. Cit.
124 Towsey, Michael. “Water and Land Management – A Foundation for Economic Planning in
Australia”, Understanding Prout, Volume 1, 2010.
125 The concept of social capital finds its place in Proutist economics as a metaphysical
potentiality of the collective body. The third fundamental principle of Prout states: “There
should be maximum utilization of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual potentialities of
unit and collective bodies of human society”, Sarkar (PE) p 7.
126 Hazeldine, Op. Cit.
127 Putnam, Robert D. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New
York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
128 I Kawachi, B. P. Kennedy, K. Lochner and D. Prothrow-Stith. “Social capital, income
inequality, and mortality”. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 87, Issue 9 pp 1491-
1498, 1997. American Public Health Association.
129 Hazeldine, Op. Cit.
130 Sarkar, P. R. The Liberation of Intellect – Neohumanism. AM Publications, 1982.
131 Bussey, Marcus. “Education for Liberation” in Understanding Prout, Volume 1, 2010.
132 Implicit in Sarkar’s synthesis of sentiment and rationality is a new approach to science –
that science can only be of benefit to society if it is motivated by a Neohumanistic
133 Russell (HWP) pp 737. Russell asks, “Suppose we wish – as I certainly do – to find
arguments against Nietzsche’s ethics and politics, what arguments can we find?” After two
pages of argument to and fro, he finally concludes, “But I think the ultimate argument
against his philosophy… lies not in an appeal to facts, but in an appeal to the emotions.
Nietzsche despises universal love; I feel it the motive power to all that I desire as regards
the world.”
134 This is the catchy title of a book by Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion: The science
behind mind-body medicine, Scribner, 1997. ISBN 0-684-84634-9.
135 Zak, Paul, R. Kurzban and W. Matzner. “The Neurobiology of Trust”. Annals of the New
York Acadamy of Sciences, 1032: pp 224-227, 2004. See also URL2
136 “Nasal spray gives hope on autism”. The Sunday Times, February 14, 2010., link valid 16
February 2010.
137 Newby, Jonica. Making love not war. Catalyst, ABC TV, 20 September 2007.
138 The reader may ask if experiments with monkeys have any relevance to human social
behaviour because our social conditioning can sublimate or repress physiological
tendencies. But this is exactly the point. It is difficult in humans to know the extent to
which subtle and altruistic behaviour is ‘natural’ because our social conditioning is so
pervasive. Monkey experiments point to the natural physiological foundations of human
behaviour presumably without the same degree of social conditioning. But there is an
extremely important caveat. The information so obtained must be extrapolated to humans
with much caution. A large body of experimental work on the ‘economic’ behaviour of
chimpanzees turns out not to be so relevant to humans because chimps lack the all
important ‘trust’ gene (producing vasopressin). On the other hand, comparisons between
chimps and bonobos appear to tell us a lot about the influence of the vasopressin gene.
139 Zak, Paul. “Trust”. Capco Institute Journal of Financial Transformation. v7: pp 13-21,
140 Ibid.
141 Wilkinson, Richard and Kate Pickett. The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost
Always Do Better, Allen Lane, 5 March 2009. ISBN: 9781846140396.
142 Inequality was measured as the ratio of the average income of the richest 20% to that of the
poorest 20%. Japan was the most equal nation in the study with a ratio of 3.5. Australia was
well down the list along with Britain at 7.0. The USA had even higher inequality.
143 See a review of The Spirit Level at the Penguin web site,,,9781846140396,00.html.
144 Experiments with brain scans throw further interesting light on this claim. In a study of 20
pairs of men who were asked to share money, it was discovered that the sharing promoted
activity in those parts of the brain that process pleasurable rewards. Even when the richer of
the two men said he wanted more of the money, in fact his brain scan indicated the opposite
was true. According to the leader of the research team this apparent incongruity “highlights
the idea that even the basic reward structures in the human brain are not purely selforiented”.
The study was originally published in Nature, February 2010. For further
information see Marlowe Hood, “Subconsciously, humans want to share the wealth”,
html. Link valid 26 February 2010.
145 There is a curious exception to this statement – rates of suicide tend to be higher in
countries with more equality. In an interview on ABC Radio, the authors Wilkinson and
Pickett offered an interesting explanation – that in unequal societies people tend to blame
others if their lives go wrong, whereas in more equal societies people are more likely to
blame themselves. In unequal societies, violence is directed outwards; in equal societies it
is directed inwards. ABC, Radio National, Saturday Extra, 6 June 2009, 7:30am.
146 Brosnan, Sarah F. & Beran, Michael J. “Bartering behaviour between conspecifics in
chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes”. Journal of Comparative Psychology. May, 2009. See also a
report at
147 Gunnthorsdottir, Anna. “Notes and Ideas – a behavioural economist nominates the five
books that can explain the games people play”. The Australian Literary Review. Issue 1,
Volume 1, p 29, 5 September 2006.
148 Sarkar, P.R. “Shúdra Revolution and Sadvipra Society” (HS2).
149 The ten principles are known as Yama and Niyama. The terminology is Sanskrit because
they have their origins in the ancient practice of yoga. See Sarkar, A Guide to Human
Conduct, 1957 (ElEdit). See also Bussey, “Education for Liberation” in Understanding
Prout, Volume 1 for a further account of the Yama and Niyama and their importance in
Neohumanist education. Sarkar appears to use the terms cardinal human values and
cardinal human principles interchangeably.
150 Sarkar, P. R. “Talks on Prout”, Section: Papa and Punya [Sin and Virtue], in (PN15). It
should be noted that the English word sin is a translation of the Sanskrit papa. It does not
have a religious connotation.
151 In the original Sanskrit, this principle is known as Brahmacarya.
152 See the Wikipedia entry on exploitation,
153 A moral person refrains from hurting another, not for fear of punishment but because he/she
experiences disquiet about the pain inflicted on the victim. Empathy stops what anger,
greed or passion might like to pursue. In other words, empathy, not punishment, guides the
moral person in good conduct.
154 Deep ecology was developed by Aerne Naess and shows the influence of Mahatma
Ghandi’s brand of Hindu philosophy.
155 The role of empathy in traditional socialist philosophy is filled by solidarity, but it only
appears to manifest when one follows the correct political line.
156 Fitzgerald, Jennifer. “Rekindling the Wisdom Tradition” in Transcending Boundaries,
Gurukula Press, Australia, 1999.
157 Sarkar, P. R. “Sin, Crime and Law” in (PN12).
158 The word obscene was used by Scottish National Party energy spokesman Richard
159 In the original Sanskrit, this principle is known as santosa. Human desires know no limit
and if some effort is not made to control them, much social harm results. Sarkar would
consider the excessive salaries pursued by CEOs in contemporary times to be a moral
malady. “Millionaires want to become multimillionaires, because they are not satisfied with
their million. Ask the millionaires if they are happy with their money. They will say,
‘Where is the money? I am somehow pulling on.’ This answer indicates their ignorance of
aparigraha [non-acquisitiveness]. But such feelings have another adverse effect on body
and mind. Out of excessive fondness for physical or mental pleasures, people become mad
to earn money and amass wealth. As money becomes the be-all and end-all of life, the mind
gets crudified.” To maintain contentment, says Sarkar, “one has to make a special type of
mental effort to keep aloof from external allurements” and to avoid coming “under the
sway of excessive greed”.
160 Simms, Andrew. “A salary cap for everyone”, The New Economics Foundation, 7 August,
2009., link
valid 27 January 2010. See also Simms, “Now for a maximum wage – A pay ceiling would
be good for both business and social cohesion”, The Guardian, Wednesday 6 August 2003,, link valid 27
January 2010.
161 In the original Sanskrit, this cardinal human principle is known as aparigraha. It concerns
the avoidance of superfluous material consumption.
162 Sarkar introduced Neo-ethics late in his life, in 1987.
163 Sarkar, P. R. The Neo-ethics of Multilateral Salvation, First Edition, 1987. In (ElEdit).
164 Ibid.
165 Sarkar’s principles of ethical governance will be the subject of a future essay in this series.
166 Sarkar, P. R. The Neo-ethics of Multilateral Salvation, First Edition, 1987. In (ElEdit).
167 Sarkar, P. R. “Quadri-dimensional Economy”, in (PE), pp 40.
168 We may conclude that any attempt to establish a socialist society with a materialistic
philosophy such as Marxism is doomed to fail. The union of mind and matter that is
supposed to usher in a classless society can, on the contrary, only lead to imperialism. The
history of the USSR confirms such an outcome.
169 Jeste, Dilip and Thomas W. Meeks. “A seat of wisdom in the brain?” Archives of General
Psychiatry, 6 April 2009.
170 Damasio, Antonio. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, First
Edition, 1994; Penguin paperback reprint 2005: ISBN 0-14-303622-X.
171 “Is Morality Innate and Universal?” An interview with Harvard psychologist, Marx
Hauser”, Discover magazine 2007, 2007/may/the-discoverinterview-
marc-hauser, link valid 12th February 2010.
172 Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate, A Boston Review Book, 2009. ISBN-10:0-262-
01359-2, ISBN-13:978-0-262-01359-8. For a review see
catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11864 See also Joan Silk, “Who are More Helpful,
Humans or Chimpanzees?” Science, v311, 3 March 2006.
173 Tomasello, ibid.
With Carol Dweck, Joan Silk, Brian Skyrms and Elizabeth Spelke
174 Sarkar, P. R. “Some Specialities of Prout’s Economic System”, in (ElEdit).
175 Ibid.
176 Sarkar, P. R. Liberation of Intellect. Op. Cit. p 35.
177 Sarkar, P. R. “Tantra and Its Effect on Society”, Op Cit.
178 Sarkar (HS1).
179 Sarkar, P. R. “Women’s Rights”, (PN13), 20 April 1981.
180 Sarkar, P. R. “The Importance of Society”, (PN13), 8 December 1978.
181 Women’s touch revives business,
182 Sarkar (HS2).
183 Douglas R. Oxley, Kevin B. Smith, John Alford, Matthew Hibbing, Jennifer Miller, Mario
Scalora, Peter Hatemi, John Hibbing. Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits.
Science v321 (5896), pp 1667-1670, 2008. DOI: 10.1126/science.1157627.
184 Giles, Jim. “Born that way: Your political leanings are imprinted in your genes”. New
Scientist, 2 February 2008, p 29.
185 Sarkar, P. R. “Quadri-dimensional Economy”, (PE) pp 40.
186 Ibid.
187 The author is indebted to Firdaus Ghista for the following train of thought.
188 Sarkar, P. R. “Aesthetics and Mysticism”, published in Ánanda Vacanámrtam, Part 34, AM
Publications, 1980.
189 Simon
Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, has called El Sistema “the most important
thing happening in classical music in the world today”.
190 Critendon, Stefen. Who stopped the music?, Background Briefing, ABC, Sunday 19 July
2009. The quote is from Brian Levine, managing director of the Toronto based Glen Gould
foundation, which has just issued its prestigious award to Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of
the El Sistema program.> and
191 Ibid.
192 These comments were made by Alex Ross when he was interviewed on the ABC, Radio
National, The Book Show, 25 May 2009, 8-9pm. The reader is referred to Ross’s highly
acclaimed book, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century. Fourth Estate, 2007.
ISBN 9780374249397.
193 Brian Levine in interview with Stefen Critendon, Who stopped the music?, Background
Briefing, ABC, Op. Cit.
194 Sarkar (HS1).
195 Neolithic culture, characterized by the earliest use of wild crops and domesticated animals,
appears to have arisen independently in several locations around the world, including
Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Its beginning in the Middle East is
dated to around 9500 BCE, that is, around the end of the last ice age. However recent
discoveries of so-called Bradshaw rock art in Northwest Australia indicate a widespread
aesthetic expression going back into the previous ice age, around 30,000 years ago (Ian
Wilson, Lost World of the Kimberley – Extraordinary Glimpses of Australia’s Ice Age
Ancestors, Allen and Unwin, December 2006). The Neanderthals (who survived in Europe
until about 28,000 years ago) wore jewelry and probably buried their dead (Kate Wong,
“Twilight of the Neanderthals” in Scientific American, August 2009, p 35). The earliest
known human literature (which survived as an oral tradition) is the Rg Veda dating from
West Asia and the Indian subcontinent about 15,000 years ago. Thus one might speculate
that the dawn of human ethical and aesthetic sensibilities was between 30,000 to 15,000
years ago.

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