Socialism is a conceptual umbrella under which a variety of economic, political, and social theories exists. Most of these ideas contrasts themselves with capitalism by opposing private ownership, competitive relationships, and free, unrestrained markets. Within the socialist camp, there are differences regarding who should control the economy (state vs self-managed), between market and non-market approaches, and how it should be implemented (reform vs 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. As regards 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 a few state-owned key industries. Through economic decentralization, PROUT replaces state-level planning with local control of markets in order to build local self-sufficiency and wealth.
While socialism has a materialistic value base, which sees nature as a subset of the economy, PROUT’s values are based on neo-humanism, which views the economy as a means of not only supporting human life but of protecting the entire natural world. This worldview supports human and animal rights, and has an ecological vision honoring nature with inalienable constitutional rights. The economic features of PROUT are thus an integration of the best of both small scale capitalism and socialism while, at the same time, moving beyond both.