Tabenisi - World without Poverty and Unemployment
Ladies and gentlemen,
the concept we are presenting to you today is literally worth gold - or, more precisely, millions of Euros!
Or what amount of a fee do you think would a firm of consultants charge to the Federal Government for a plan that eliminates poverty and unemployment in this country from one day to the next, so that the treasury saves billions of taxpayers’ money?
But do not worry: you will learn here for free how the society as a whole and every individual member on its own can overcome the burden of poverty and unemployment.
1. The Essential first
Let us put the essential first:
Poverty and unemployment are not inevitable natural catastrophes which, as a result of force majeure, beset innocent people like a plague.
They are the result of our egotism, of an unjust system created by ourselves.
All we have to do to eliminate them is to enforce justice:
There is work in abundance. If we distribute justly the necessary work, there will be more than enough to do for everyone.
The planet is rich enough. If we distribute justly the proceeds of our collective work, there will be more than enough wealth for everyone.
Nicholas Roerich „Holy City“
Imagine the village of Tabenisi as a settlement similar to an Israeli kibbutz where some 40 or 50 families are living and working together.
The principles on the basis of which we overcome poverty and unemployment are the same in a village, a city or a whole country.
3. Work in Abundance
"Unemployment" is a grotesque notion: everywhere around us we see a boundless abundance of hardship, suffering, dirt and imperfection.
These grievances can be overcome by nothing else but work.
A state of the community in which work is no longer necessary is not conceivable at all. A day on which there was nothing to do, has not yet been seen in Tabenisi.
On the contrary: there is not less, but much more urgent work to do than we have workers, time and strength at our disposal.
A society in which there are, on the one hand, a huge amount of necessary work, but on the other hand millions unemployed or underemployed, is very poorly organized indeed!
Nicholas Roerich "Zvenigorod"
The key to a new construction is the concept of community.
The people living in a country, a city or a village should not regard themselves as a band of robbers, in which the law of the jungle, the "right" of the strongest prevails, but as a real community in which justice rules.
In a society in which everyone struggles against everyone and every member is selfishly striving to grab as much as possible for himself to the detriment of the others, applied ethics can at best mitigate the worst excesses, but cannot solve the problems at the root.
In a true community (family, association, brotherhood, order, kibbutz, monastery) there is no poverty and no unemployment.
Because in a real community both the work required and the income arising from it are shared justly. Everyone makes a fair contribution and receives a just share.
Let us now look at how this concept works in practice.
5. No Unemployment through just Distribution of Work
There are no unemployed people in Tabenisi, because we distribute the work which is necessary in our community fairly amongst all members.
If we share the burden, there can be no unemployment - because there is no shortage of work.
6. Distribution of Work in Practice
How does that work in practice?
In the morning, the inhabitants of Tabenisi meet in the village square. The work of the day is allocated: for example, harvesting fruits and vegetables, milking cows, cultivating fields or beds, producing goods, teaching children, nursing the old, curing the sick, repair machines or houses, prepare food, and so on and so forth.
There is a task for everyone. On some days there is more to do, on others less. Accordingly, the work to be performed by the members of the community is sometimes more, sometimes less extensive.
But no one goes away empty-handed. Something needs to be done every day.
7. Right to Work
In our community, everyone who is able work has a right to work.
An existence without useful work is unworthy of man. No one must be excluded from the life of the community, which consists, first of all, of work for the improvement of the living conditions.
The persons in charge have to make sure that everyone in his place and according to his abilities can make his contribution to the common good. A system like that of the old world which does not ensure the realization of this basic human right, fails.
In addition, in order to alleviate the general distress, we literally need every hand. Not to exploit the capacity for work especially of young people, or of the old who are normally shuffled off to retirement homes, is a humiliation of those affected, a waste of resources and the neglect of potential which we simply cannot afford in view of the gigantic tasks.
8. Obligation to Work
From the abundance of tasks follows: Everyone who is able to work has a duty to make his contribution to the accomplishment of the work that is necessary in our community every single day.
It is unethical to do nothing, even though one can work: Necessary work would then remain undone or must be taken care of by others in addition to their own duties - to which the idler then imposes himself as a burden with his claim for securing his livelihood.
Everyone has to contribute according to his abilities, otherwise he places himself outside the community.
This does not necessarily mean that all must carry the same workload. Everyone can contribute only according to his faculties. Both overwork and underemployment must be avoided. The normal duty in Tabenisi is eight hours of work on five days a week.
9. No “Unconditional Basic Income”
An "unconditional basic income" that leaves it to the pleasure of the individual, whether and what he contributes, is a misguided concept. He who does only that what he is fond of and refuses to do his part in order to cope with the necessary work, forfeits his claim to participate in the prosperity of the community.
Only co-workers are entitled to a share of the collectively earned income.
Just imagine: Someone is sitting with us at the dining table. He asks for food, but is not prepared to participate in its procurement or preparation; over and above that, he is not even willing to help with the washing-up, but prefers to go back to his room to play the guitar, and thus leaves the dirty work to us? Inconceivable!
This is, in truth, crudest egotism, which will never be tolerated in any true community.
No community can be so stupid as to support someone who makes the others work for him by refusing to participate in the necessary work.
10. No „unacceptable“ Work
No one must exclude himself. For example, if there is, at the moment, no legal work at hand for the lawyer of the community, he should not be afraid to work elsewhere, for example if necessary even to sweep the village square.
It is simply unimaginable in our community that he puts his hands in his lap and does nothing, so that necessary work remains undone or must be carried out by others in addition to their own tasks.
The usual concept of "unacceptable work" is, in truth, completely absurd: How can a task that is necessary in the community be unacceptable? He who does not find any other activity must not be afraid to do away with the garbage which, after all, has to be removed by someone.
It is better to do simple work and thus contribute one’s small part than to do nothing at all.
11. No Poverty through just distribution of the Proceeds of Work
Through its work, our community creates prosperity, namely, products that we use for our own needs or sell to others. This wealth is to be distributed justly among all members. When prosperity grows, all receive greater shares, when it diminishes, all must retrench. If we share fairly what we have earned collectively, then there can be no poverty.
Here, too, justice does not necessarily mean that all must receive the same amount. A higher qualification or a larger contribution may be rewarded with a larger share. Or a family father who has to support wife and children might be allocated more than a single person.
Justice, however, requires one thing: We must also allow those who are only able to make a smaller contribution the full participation in the life of the community. If all of us together create a culture of high prosperity, we cannot leave the so-called "simple" co-workers in a state of material need.
Therefore, in Tabenisi there is a "basic salary" for all co-workers which allows a dignified human life. Only when this is ensured do we consider to grant additional allowances to individual overperformers.
Decisions are being made solely on the basis of the principle of justice. Battles over distribution like in the jungle, unworthy games of muscles, the enforcement of selfish interests by violent means such as strikes or lockouts, have no place in a civilized community.
12. Technological Progress, declining Production
In the old world, there are two main reasons for the rise of unemployment or poverty: The technological progress which eliminates jobs, or declining production that costs both jobs and prosperity.
How do we deal with these two challenges in Tabenisi?
13. No Poverty and Unemployment through technological Progress
In the old world unemployment is created by machines taking over the tasks of humans. This reduces the amount of work, or individual jobs are lost completely.
How do we cope with this problem in Tabenisi?
14. New Distribution of Work
The solution is quite simple: work is redistributed. Since the machines take over some work, we all can work less.
If a job is completely lost, the person concerned must work elsewhere in the community. Which is not a problem in view of the abundance of urgent tasks.
A true community will not put into unemployment those whose work is assumed by machines (for which they are not to blame personally). Rather, the technological progress, the reduction of the number of working hours, must benefit all co-workers.
15. New Distribution of Proceeds
If, using new machines, we continue to sell the same number of products at the same price as before, sales, costs and profits, and thus the prosperity of our community, will remain essentially the same as before.
We can therefore continue to pay to all co-workers the same share of the collectively earned proceeds.
As opposed to that, in the old world, the entrepreneur claims the advantage of the technical progress for himself alone by dismissing superfluous employees, imposing their upkeep on the community, and increasing his profit through the saving of labour costs.
Such selfish behaviour is unthinkable in a true community.
16. Blessing of technological Progress
Thus, the progress of technology becomes a blessing, because machines reduce the burden of primitive work. It is a great relief that washing machines, combine harvesters, or speech recognition programs, by which the computer converts dictates without the help of a secretary into written text, spare humanity monotonous routine work.
Just imagine: In 50 years from now it might be possible, because of the advances in technology, to generate the present prosperity, the current gross national product, with only half of today's working time. Would that not be a reason to rejoice, instead of complaining about the "loss of jobs"?
Would it not be wonderful if we all had to work less in our profession in order to earn our daily bread? Who of you would not like to have more time for the really important things: family, spiritual interests, unsalaried activity?
Would we not come closer to the realization of a dream, if we could make do with half-day work without sacrificing prosperity? However, this is possible only if we allow the advantage of automation to benefit all community members.
17. No Poverty and Unemployment through declining Production
Problems arise when the turnover of our businesses drops, for example because competitors offer the same products cheaper or in better quality.
Then, we can sell only fewer products at the old price, the same number of products only at a lower price, or even fewer products at a lower price. Then there is less work and less profit.
18. New Distribution of Work
If fewer goods are produced and less work is required, this loss must be distributed fairly. All members of the community will then work less. We all share the consequences of our diminished competitiveness.
If individual jobs are completely eliminated, the affected members have to change to another working place.
19. New Distribution of Proceeds
For example, if the community's profit drops by 10%, the share of all co-workers must be reduced by 10%.
The principle of just distribution of the necessary work and of the collectively earned revenues remains in full force and effect - only with shares on a lower level.
20. Applied Ethics solve economical Problems
The example of Tabenisi shows: An ethical economic and labour policy must be based upon the principle that everyone makes a fair contribution and receives a just share of what has been earned collectively.
This requires responsibly acting co-workers who shake off their egotism, place the rule of justice above their own advantage, and whose aim it is to contribute more to the common pot than they withdraw from it.
You see: Morals are not a luxury which you can afford if you have enough resources, and which you put off when it gets serious. On the contrary: Applied ethics are the only means to solve our material everyday problems!
The fight against poverty and unemployment is a struggle for justice. Justice is a revolutionary concept that completely changes our world - if we only master the strength to enforce it.
21. The Path of the Individual
Caspar David Friedrich „ Wanderer above the Sea of Fog“
For those who do not live in Tabenisi, the question arises: How can you overcome the burden of poverty and unemployment on your own?
You can join our community at any time, even if you dwell elsewhere. You can live in the diaspora according to our principles as well. No follower of Tabenisi is ever poor or unemployed!
22. New Thinking
Auguste Rodin „The Thinker“
Recall once more: Objectively there is work in abundance. The so-called "unemployment" does not exist in reality, but only in our minds - there it must be fought. You have to create a new consciousness, a better attitude towards the problems of everyday life.
23. Regain your Self-Esteem
If you were put out of work, first of all you have to regain your self-esteem, your pride and your dignity.
Remember: your situation is not due to your own personal inadequacy, but to the fact that you are forced to live in an unjust system, among selfish people who are unwilling to share. This is not your fault and no reason to feel inferior.
24. Shake off Egotism
Lex Drewinski „Homo homini lupus“
Above all, you must overcome your own egotism, that means:
Do not participate in the fight of everyone against everyone. Do not try, as the others, to grab as much as possible from the common pot for yourself, because that necessarily means to take away from the others as much as possible.
Think about how you can give back to the community the support which you receive. Earn what you get as social aid! Your endeavour must always be to contribute more than you claim - only in this way you maintain your dignity.
25. Unsalaried Labour
How can this come true? Even as an "unemployed", you can leave the private area of your home, like any professional, in the morning to do eight hours of work for the common good.
If payment is not in the foreground, it will no longer be difficult for you to find a place where you can make your contribution to eliminate a small part of the omnipresent hardship, suffering and dirt:
You can take care of the elderly or the sick, of neglected children or other people in distress. You can turn to the churches, the Red Cross, or other charities. You can clean or embellish an ugly corner in your area. If you keep your eyes open, there will be more urgent tasks than you can ever manage to cope with.
If you succeed, you have overcome your unemployment. In all reality, you then have earned what the society gives you as a so-called "unemployment benefit".
If you do eight hours a day of honorary work for the common good, you do not have to regard as alms the share of the collective wealth which you receive. You can be as proud of it as any employee of his salary.
26. Wealth in the Heart
Finally, you will not feel poor, but rich when you can give so much, when you have found a way to make your valuable contribution to the common good. The need for survival is being taken care of - that what goes beyond is of little importance.
The true wealth lies within the heart, where, as Jesus says, it cannot be stolen by thieves or corroded by rust. To finish this Broadcasting, let us listen to the popular saying:
If you do not create Heaven within your own heart, you will not be able to find it anywhere else in the world.