Our Sanatan Socialist buddies at Swarajya seem to have got on to something with their recent promotion of something they call “Dharmicism”, in an article written by certain Anuraag Saxena.
Here the article, and otherwise, here’s a short Youtube video explaining it :
What’s Wrong With the Video
First, let’s deal with the several inaccuracies in this video, as pointed out by Keshav Bedi :
1) It’s claimed that Capitalism is failing. Why? See the poverty in US, we’re told.
Firstly, indulging in such crude statements is fundamentally wrong. Social facts are a result of multitude factors which aren’t amenable to laboratory treatment. So taking a crude social fact as an evidence of failure of capitalism is first evidence of intellectual confusion.
Secondly, we aren’t told who is poor in US. In US, someone who owns a fridge, a TV, a car, an air conditioner comes under the category of poor. US’s benchmark of poverty is not as dismal as ours. The living standard of American poor is higher than whatever living standards Indians ever had historically, in ‘Dharmicism’ or other system. If anything, its the success of Capitalism.
2) The unparalleled rise of population in the history of mankind since the advent of capitalism is completely ignored.
3) The speaker is clueless that proponents of Capitalism are greatly distressed by American governments not pursuing Capitalism in the first place.
4) India has been attractive to invaders due to its wealth we’re told. But nowhere we’re told that the standard of living in India was almost stagnant for the past 2000 years and the average living standard of Indians before 1850 was less than the living standard of an Indian poor today.
5) There’s a misplaced notion that culture has anything to do with market economics. Market economics takes culture as given, whatever it may be and shows us whether policy actions can achieve ends sought within that framework.
What We Liked
For once, the article largely sides with individual rights over “community” rights :
India has suffered the consequences of command-and-control economics for decades. In contrast, the valley-state-of-mind nurtures an individual’s pursuit; the path of “seeking” (the next big opportunity, in this case) if you will.
This refusal of central authority, and openness to non-linearity makes Dharmicism a more natural fit to the rebellious nature of enterprise.
Centuries before the phrase “monetisation” was coined, Chanakya had said: “In the absence of fruitful economic activity, both current prosperity and future growth are in danger of destruction.”
Some experts contend that mandated contributions, and demonization of wealth-creators, have actually pushed corporates away from making any social contributions, which were naturally a part of their DNA.
As if this wasn’t enough, the table that they’ve made up is almost on the spot, except a few points :
See first how the concept of communism is rejected outright. Coming from the socialists and Swarajya Magazine, that is a good start.
It may be mentioned here that the points they got ‘wrong’ : ie. responsibility, ownership and profits in “Dharmicism”, would not be a problem at all if they were simply a moral viewpoint.
If they were to be concepts enforced legally, that would go against the very “refusal of central authority” that they seem to like. This is because the legal system is, ultimately, a “central authority” and cannot decide for the entrepreneur what his “social responsibilities” are. That would be the very communism or socialism that the article seems to reject.
Could “Dharmicism” Become A Close Indian Cousin of The Austrian School of Economics ?
They have got a lot of things wrong about “capitalism” – as Keshav Bedi has pointed out above.
Let’s consider the other objections they have. As we can see, they’re almost at the door of the Austrian school – if only they
- stop considering the mainstream Keynesian view of economics to be ‘capitalism’;
- understand better how the ‘Shubh-Laabh‘ paradigm actually promotes social responsibility and doesn’t require legal prohibitions for it to work.
First Objection : the Different Types of Wealth
The article points out that unlike ‘uni-dimensional understanding of wealth in capitalistic societies, the Vedas identify eight different types of wealth’ – and goes on to identify those types.
This is understood by the Austrian school. From the Mises Wiki :
Wealth can be defined as a claim on, or command of, resources (commodities, capital equipment, time, physical labor, et cetera) that have the potential to make the individual’s existence easier, more comfortable or more enjoyable (i.e. “better”) than it would be in the absence of such things. Because value is subjective, wealth cannot be measured cardinally, but it is possible to measure ordinally.
In short, wealth can be said to be the ability to have desires fulfilled.
For a greater explanation, listen to “What is Wealth?”, published in the audio format by the Mises Institute :
Second Objection : the Harm Done by ‘Capitalism’
Both the stated objections to ‘capitalism’ can be dealt with very easily. If Swarajya understands this, they’re that much closer to going full Austrian, or full ‘Dharmic’ if they prefer that.
Stagnant wages, inhumane work conditions, rising student & homeowner debt, and plain simple misery have made capitalism a bane for the “other 99 per cent”. Communities, nations, even the planet pays the price in a winner-takes-all model.
The question of rising debt and stagnant (real) wages is directly linked to fiat money and the end of the Gold Standard. See the website wtfhappenedin1971.com with numerous charts making this very clear.
The quarter-to-quarter pressure is killing the long-term sustainability view that businesses should be taking. Sustained, balanced, longevity is being sacrificed at the altar of the financial markets (who are on life-support themselves).
This is another consequence of low interest rates and inflation, made possible by fiat money. Please watch this video :
As much as there is a lot of gibberish in what has been written by Anuraag Saxena, it has the merit of divorcing itself from mainstream nonsense which passes for economics these days.
That is a good start, and coming from the Sanatan Socialists at Swarajya, it must be welcomed and engaged with.