- Governance - Oppression Justice

Prophecy And Policy

The economic recession is linked to a recession in democracy. If we continue this way, we will be ruined by class warfare and the wrath of global warming. We must seek a different way of living that is based not on maximizing how much we can buy but on maximizing values important to life. True happiness is a transcendent experience, not inherent in material things. Groundswell in grassroots spirituality holds the solution. Countless small actions of unknown people are the foundation for those great moments that ultimately enter the historical record without mention of the people that created them. Change is made in such ways.

Before the 1970’s there was a sense that the US was a socially progressive society, albeit there were setbacks and economic downturns,  but most people seemed to believe in a spirit of progress, change, and development that was inherent to the narrative of US life. The despair that characterizes society now is like a burn-out after a long and hard period of endurance after hopes have been dashed and dreams gone unfulfilled. Injustice no longer has promise of resolution in, for example, the manufacturing industry that is facing similar levels of unemployment now as it was in the great depression: back then there was an assumption that honest labor was still fundamental to productivity and so there was general confidence that the market would eventually recover. Unfortunately, policies being crafted now in the US and western Europe enable off-shoring of jobs to foreign countries that lack organized labor unions. This incentivizes the abuse of workers and makes it possible for corporate exploitation to continue indefinitely by hopping around the globe, trading investment capital with countries that agree to deregulate workers rights. Only unification of the entire globe as one nation with one government and the formation of multinational labor unions will be able to stop the assault on masses of helpless workers by globalized capital markets. Hence, unity is the chief steward of achieving justice. The term coherence encompasses the concept of prosperity that is born of justice whose surest means is increasing levels of unity.

Further death blows to US hopes came with the financialization of the economy since the 1970’s. Work is worship is a concept that encompasses the belief that true work, or labor, when performed in a spirit of service to one’s fellow humans, constitutes worship of God and possesses sacred value. With the transition away from a productive economy, in which people once manufactured things of worth to others, the rise of the financial sector and the conversion of profits based on labor to profits earned by manipulating financial systems the demise of the US economy was guaranteed, along with the spirit of service that once animated it.

Before the 1970’s banks simply stored a family’s savings and used the extra funds in the meantime to offer loans to other families to send children to college or mortgage a home. Now banks have become hegemons of the entire financial system that own 60% of the GDP, conducting millions of wire transactions per day that produce no fruit for humankind or society, and manipulating sophisticated stock exchanges and financial packages for personal profit. Concentration of wealth entails concentration of political power. Tax reduction, corporate personhood, and business deregulation ensued. Banks borrow billions from government credit at no interest and loan it to taxpayers for substantial interest rates and profits. They corrupt governments, lobby congress, and distort legislation to their own ends, in a vicious cycle that further deregulates their behaviour.

Unimaginably costly campaigns for elections have driven government politicians deep into the pockets of the corporate sector, corrupting the very structure and function of democracy. Wealth inequality has become extreme in the US with wealth concentrating mainly in the top tenth of 1% of the population: owners of corporations and health systems, elite bankers and big-oil. Extreme disparity in incomes, wealth, and lifestyles is not good for the economy, and creates social unrest. A healthy middle class fuels the consumers who drive economic stability by purchasing necessities and goods lacking negative externalities. The production of necessities in turn ensures job security for many. The real picture is that the poor increasingly are unable to meet basic survival needs and the wealthy increasingly waste the society’s resources on personal entertainment and extravagant past-times. Average wages for workers have not even kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, yet US GDP has doubled in that time, and corporate profits are at an all time high – built on the backs of those uncompensated laborers. The gap between public policy and public will has never been larger. As Abdu’l-Baha explained, wherever you find great poverty, look close and you will find extreme wealth. One cannot be eliminated without the other.

Figure: “Death’s Embrace” – Workers found in the rubble of a factory in Bangladesh after it collapsed. Signs of building collapse prior to the tragedy were sensed by many. Bankers were evacuated from the 1st floor of the building. Workers were told that if they left they would not receive wages for the day. Over one thousand workers were killed due to deregulation of the business sector and lack of worker’s rights.
Bangladesh factory deaths embrace

3 replies on “Prophecy And Policy”

I think educated consumers can guarantee that multi-nationals toe the line. You exploit, you aren’t able to move your goods. A one-world government would not have the flexibility or ability to be able to allow local populations to live in freedom and peace according to their own values.

Hi Peggy! I think that this type of solution, though limited, works well in a system that operates under certain assumptions, namely competition and disunity. If a system has multiple parties, all competing towards their self-interest, then – like you say – it would be wise to have each one check another, or make sure there are rules and mechanisms and “referees” that can maintain order.

However, that system described rests on an assumption. There are other assumptions that can be operationalized, namely cooperation and unity. If there is a system in which all the parts work together towards the welfare of the whole – knowing full well that collective well-being ensures individual well-being – then there is less need for one party to keep in check the other. In this way, one unified government, let’s say can release the potentialities of all the parts to a greater degree, since energy is not dissipated on one controlling another.

The best system I have seen is the human body – where all the cells, tissues, and organs work towards the well-being of the whole organism; and the role of the central nervous system is to release power, enable activity, channel energy, not to manipulate, dictate, or seize (except in the case of disease, of course!). This system operates under the assumption of cooperation and unity, with little need for checks and little mechanisms to regulate competition between organs. And it would be difficult to imagine a human body that functions if the kidneys are competing with the liver, or the heart and the stomach; and how much energy would be lost if the function of the brain was to keep checks on the interaction of all the organs.

Paradoxically, a system built on the assumption of competition and disunity allows for less individual freedom and decentralization! While a system built on the assumption of cooperation and unity enables and empowers the individual parts to contribute in their own way to the whole.

Of course, our current social arrangements are not the human body. And we must not reify the analogy. However, we can draw insights into the development of society – that it is organic; that it involves the simultaneous development of both social structures and the individual (neither without the other); that it is driven by a understanding that collective and individual well-being are one in the same; that its motivation lies in a loving cooperation and harmony; that it admits a diversity of functioning without labeling one “better” or “more important” than another; that oneness is the organizing principle of the entire system. I’m sure there are more!

I hope to hear more of your thoughts 🙂 I think that solutions rest on the assumption of the system itself, and the solutions you proposed are great! However, what about the underlying assumptions? If they change, perhaps we can avoid the problem in the first place…

I think the world should be ruled by a series of complex algorithms, as complex as those that run the financial markets at present, but instead of being set to create the maximum profit, they would be set to calculate and achieve the greatest balance of fairness and equality for all governmental policies fed into it to the most minute detail. We will never be able to trust humans,to take the correct course for humanity, but we can trust computers to make the right decisions if the desired result (of balance) is correctly programmed in.

What are your thoughts?

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