“Until there is economic equality, political equality is just talk.”
In earlier articles in this series we have described in detail exactly why democracy is no longer up to the task of managing a complex and crisis-torn planet. Starting with “Democracy – The Primary Fatal Flaw” and then “Democracy – The Other Fatal Flaws,” we then presented a progressive, radical alternative towards creating a Democratic Meritocracy. We now introduce Economic Equality as an essential condition for a true democracy:
“I want to say firstly that the democracy that exists today is not a complete democracy. And secondly, democracy cannot be complete until we create a system for economic equality. Political equality alone cannot make democracy complete: those who are economically unequal may be called politically equal, but in reality they are not equal.
Until there is economic equality, political equality is just talk; equality will be just a plaything in the hands of a few people. So, here in India there is democracy and in other countries such as America there is also democracy – but even in America that democracy is partial. Democracy cannot be complete until an atmosphere of economic equality also emerges.
“And I want to say this: whatever alternatives are going on in the world, none of them is democracy in the real sense of the word. One alternative has been in Soviet Russia, but it too was not a democracy because economic equality was given, but political equality taken away. That too is a partial democracy. It may be called a dictatorship or whatever else, but the name makes no any difference.
“And in countries where there is political freedom but no economic equality, there too democracy is half. The democracy that I call democracy has not yet been born in this world. By this I do not mean that the only alternative to this democracy is dictatorship. No, the only alternative to this democracy is complete democracy.
“Until we plan thoroughly for economic equality, there will be democracy only in word. From behind, “money-cracy” will continue. So, on the face of it we think there is democracy, but the rich are dominant and run the system. And they will continue to do so: it is natural that they do so because whoever controls the money will never let go of the power. The rich will keep the power in their hands. Democracy exists nowhere in the world, not in Russia, not in America, not in India, and not in Pakistan.”
Q. What is your idea of economic equality?
“It is simple: there can be no reason for anyone to have a special right to the wealth that exists in any nation or society on the earth. Firstly, whether it is ownership of land or any other type of wealth, all rights to it were acquired by some form of violence. No one should have any special right to wealth: wealth belongs to everyone. It is fundamental that wealth should belong to everyone. It is collectively earned; it comes about through the collective competence of all. To this wealth, everyone has a right. And through this wealth, everyone should have an equal opportunity and privilege to progress in life.”
Q. What will happen in detail?
“That is something else. What I am talking about is the principle: any accumulation of a nation’s wealth through exploitation is not democracy. And as long as wealth can be accumulated by any means, that system is not a democracy. A democracy cannot give the rights to land and the opportunity to accumulate wealth. Because the moment someone accumulates wealth, the value of that person’s vote does not remain at ‘one’ – their vote is now equal to “many.” And someone who does not have wealth, the value of his vote also does not remain ‘one’ – his vote is worth just a few rupees.
As long as wealth is divided unequally – and just now the systems of all societies are such that it goes on being divided unequally – democracy will be only in word. And this democracy will continue to oppose dictatorship, but will itself remain a kind of dictatorship.
“So, whatever systems there are in the world are more or less just a form of dictatorship. None of them is democracy. The alternative that I am talking about is not a choice between the system of India or the system of Pakistan, the system of Russia or the system of America. What I am proposing is a concept of democracy such that we can slowly make the financial status of every person equal, to the point that their political status can also become equal. And when all are equal in political status, democracy can be there – otherwise it cannot be.
“In a democracy which tells people that they are independent politically and that everyone has equal value, that equal value can only be in theory, not in practical life. This is because your worth is not assigned to you; it is assigned to the wealth you own.”
Abridged excerpts from: Osho, Birth of a New India, Talk #3 — A Complete Democracy
This article was also published in Medium