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What values will guide society’s evolution in the new century and millennium?

The American President, Bill Clinton, proclaims globalization as the central reality of our times.  Indeed, neo-liberalism and global capitalism have taken front stage after the fall of communism and the decline of socialism.

Yet the recent massive protests aimed at the WTO, IMF and World Bank suggest that all is not well with the prevailing trend.  As Jennifer Fitzgerald notes in Transcending Boundaries , “At this time, when the interests of the individual are prevailing over the collective, when the material is prevailing over the spiritual, when positivism has captured the ethical ground, calls are coming to ‘bring the good back in,’ to revisit and regenerate our value structures.”

Others see this as a battle.  On one side are the forces of “globalization from above” the economic brand of globalization supported by multinational corporations, international financial institutions, and elite classes.  On the other side are supporters of “globalization from below” including grassroots movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and spiritual movements which support a future based on humanistic, ecological, and life and spirit affirming principles.

P.R. Sarkar’s writings on these issues date from the 1950’s before they had grown to such worldwide prominence.  He supported a universalistic outlook which went against other narrow “isms” like nationalism, communalism, casteism, racism, sexism, and classism. 

His philosophy of Neo-Humanism extended traditional humanistic values to all creation, providing profound support for an ecological component to our value system.  It also called for coordinated cooperation between women and men and an end to male domination.

Sarkar’s socio-economic theory (PROUT – Progressive Utilization Theory) called for guaranteed minimum necessities for all people, an effort to balance individual and collective needs.  It envisioned a world government and constitution as well as efforts to ensure that states provide all-round service to people.

Sarkar did not believe these goals would be achieved through direct political means.  Rather he supported grassroots efforts focussed on rendering social service which in turn would win over a broad base of supporters.  He also felt it was crucial to help society develop a common philosophy of life, which would unite people intentions.

Since the early 1990’s grassroots movements and NGOs have experienced remarkable growth both locally and globally.  Many of the movements and organizations focus on specific issues such as the environment, human rights, social justice, women’s rights, and others.  In the past year many of these groups have joined to work against the onslaught of economic globalization.

 These groups may constitute the service oriented movements that Sarkar describes as vehicles for implementing positive change.  Yet, can these groups forge a common philosophy other than just opposing globalization?  Can they find consensus on a common philosophy of life that will serve as a uniting vision, complete with values that will help guide us to a new and better world for all?