26 October 2005

Venezuelan National Radio report (English translation)

American Monk Affirms that New Socialism Promotes Well-being.

Venezuelan National Radio September 11 2005

The monk Dada Maheshvarananda explained that the new form of progressive socialism promotes well-being and integration between nations, with the aim of sharing the resources of the planet for the common good.

Socialism of the 21st century, or "progressive socialism", promotes well-being and integration between nations, with the aim of sharing the resources of the planet for the common good, said American monk Dada Maheshvarananda.

During the conference Endogenous Development and Socialism of the 21st Century, held in the Hotel Rasil in Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui, Maheshvarananda said that new socialism should be composed of three economic levels.

These levels, according to his point of view, are: A small scale free market made up of private businesses; a second level of cooperatives that makes up the majority of the economy; and a third which contains some state-owned enterprises.

The peace activist and promoter of the Progressive Utilization Theory (abbreviated Prout in English) with a multidimensional focus , which advocates economic democracy of the people, visited the Eastern Venezuelan city along with Steve Phillips, an expert in the creation and administration of cooperatives.

Prout is a socioeconomic theory that favors a progressive and dynamic adjustment to the political, economic, and social environment for the better development of human potential, both spiritual and psychological.

According to its hypothesis, the resources of the world should be distributed in a progressive and efficient manner with the intent of guaranteeing the basic necessities for all human beings.

The conference was organized by the national petroleum company (PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela, S.A or PDVSA), and served a varied group of people, including people from the petroleum industry, community groups, students and cooperative activists from the State of Anzoategui.

Venezuela, in turn, is showing the lecturer a new path to improve social and economic inequality.

In this sense, Dada Maheshvarananda commented that Venezuela is the first country in the world that is aggressively and vigorously fighting to eradicate poverty, which he characterized as a positive example for the world.

Furthermore he insisted that the country demonstrates the importance of eliminating the historical gap between the rich and poor, originating from the neoliberal economic model.

"Venezuela is a model for the future. Today every country is looking to the Venezuelan experience which widely favors those most in need. It is the path to the elimination of poverty," he proclaimed.

25 October 2005

The Catholic Church in Venezuela

Leonardo Boff, one of the founders of Liberation Theology, said, “"For
500 years, there have been two Catholic Churches in Brazil: one of the
rich and one of the poor.”" I have many friends who are priests and nuns
who work with the poor in Brazil. Their sacrifice and dedication are a
great source of inspiration to me.

I spoke at length with Charlie Hardy, a former Catholic priest from
Wyoming, USA, who has lived in Venezuela for more than 20 years. As a
priest with the Maryknoll Order, he used to live in a slum barrio with
no electricity, running water or toilets for many years. Because of his
strong sympathies with the poor, he is a supporter of the anti-poverty
programs of President Hugo Chavez. His insightful blog site, “"Cowboy in
Caracas: A Voice from the New America"” is: http://fuego.net/

Charlie explained that because of a historical Concordia agreement
between the government of Venezuela and the Vatican, only Venezuelan-born priests are allowed to become bishops in that country. A popular saying in the Church is that when a Venezuelan priest is newly ordained, he is told, “You have to decide, do you want to serve the people or become a bishop?” It means that if a priest decides to work with the poor, he will never be promoted in the Church heirarchy.

The Venezuelan bishops that are published in the newspapers invariably
criticize the Chavez government. (The newspapers are owned by the
superrich who are opposed to Chavez.) For example, Cardinal Rosalio
Castillo Lara said to journalists on Oct. 22 that Venezuelans ought to
“"deny recognition"” to the Chavez government and organize civil
disobedience against because it because it is, "“ill-fated and dangerous".”

High level Church officials criticize Chavez because he reduced
government spending for private schools, which affected Catholic
schools. During the April 2002 coup attempt, Cardinal Ignacio Velasco
tried to persuade Chavez to sign a letter resigning from the presidency
while he was under military arrest.

There is no archbishop in Caracas because the government does not
approve of the Vatican´s nominee.

There are a few progressive priests in Venezuela (Franciso Rondon in
Caracas, Obaldo Santana in Maracaibo who is second vice president of
Bishops Council, and Padre Paulo) who support the democratic reforms of
the government, including a bishop, so of course the previous admonition
is not always followed.

Introduction: What kind of world do you want?

Namaskar (this is a Sanskrit greeting which means “I greet the divinity in you with charms of my mind and the love of my heart”).

When I arrived in Europe in June 2003, Pranava from Hannover, Germany, generously lent me a small red 1990 Ford Escort. Two years later, Tilakapash in Lisbon donated a 1994 Fiat Punto S. I’ve been continually traveling, usually by car but sometimes by bus or plane, to Portugal, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, England, Wales, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Austria, Hungary and Poland. When people ask me where I’m based, I reply the global office of Proutist Universal is in Copenhagen, Denmark, but the truth is I visit there only occasionally.

I’ve been wonderfully charmed by the beautifully diverse cultures, history, languages and people in each country. In each country I’ve given talks about my book, “After Capitalism: Prout’s Vision for a New World” with preface by Noam Chomsky. This has been published so far in Portuguese, Spanish, and Hungarian, and will soon be published in Italian, German, and Japanese.

In my opinion, the most significant page of my book is one that most readers skip – the acknowledgements. More than 70 individuals and a few organizations are listed there, and there are still others who asked to remain anonymous. The names include economists, environmentalists, agricultural experts, activists, cooperative consultants, senior Proutists and others, from six continents. The value of the book lies in their contributions.

Everywhere I go, friends and strangers continually help me. They organize lectures, debates and workshops; arrange interviews with the media; cook vegetarian meals for me and offer a place to spend the night; hand me a badly-needed donation.

In every presentation, I bring up the powerful theme of the World Social Forum, “Another world is possible.” I ask the audience “What kind of world do you want?” Invariably the responses are nearly always the same: a world without war, hunger, poverty, or exploitation; with more economic equality, ecological protection, community and cooperation; with a better quality of life. I believe there is tremendous power in this common dream, because together, nothing is impossible.

How do we make that dream a reality? I think about this a lot. If you have some ideas, I’d love to hear them.