Socialism is a broad term which refers to variety of economic, political, and social theories. Most of these ideas contrast themselves with capitalism by opposing private ownership, competitive relationships, and free, unrestrained markets. Within the range of socialist thinking, there are differences regarding if and how much the government should control the economy and whether it should be implemented through gradual reforms or revolution.
Prout, often characterized as “progressive socialism”, provides a unique and integrated system that aligns itself with socialist approaches but also differs in important ways. With regards to ownership, Prout creates a three-tiered economic structure, which allows for private ownership of small enterprises, in order to stimulate innovation. However, most of the medium- and large-scale economic activity is controlled by independent cooperatives, together with state-owned key industries. Through economic decentralization, Prout replaces centralized country-level planning with local control of markets, in order to build local self-sufficiency and wealth.
While socialism is essentially concerned with providing human beings with material well-being, Prout’s values are based on universal neo-humanist values , which views the economy as a means of not only supporting human life but of protecting the entire natural world. It is an ecological approach that respects Nature’s non-negotiable rights.
Prout thus incorporates useful features of both small-scale capitalism and socialism while, at the same time, moving beyond both.