Categories
- Governance Justice Oneness

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Post-Election Talk

Two weeks ago, the United States once again had a presidential election, its 58th in an uninterrupted series held every four years since George Washington, predictably to occur in yet another four years.

 

During the 1912 presidential election, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Center of the Covenant of the Bahá’í Faith and Son of Bahá’u’lláh – had been visiting America. (Click here for this blog’s post from four years ago.)  He had been raised and lived most of His life as a prisoner and exile under two oppressive and corrupt dictatorial regimes, and had recently been freed as a result of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 that brought partisan politics to a then-Sultanate Empire.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá longed to travel to the democratic America, which was counseled years earlier by Bahá’u’lláh to adorn its land with justice. 

 

The day after the 1912 presidential election, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá happened to be in Washington DC, and gave a series of 10 publicly recorded talks over 5 days before heading off to New York. 

 

His first post-election talk – Wednesday, November 6th, 1912 – included a number of points, on liberty, on brotherhood, on the capacity of America, some of which are below.

 

He mentions the “freedom, hospitality and universal welcome extended to me during my recent travels throughout America” and then speaks of liberty:

The standard of liberty is held aloft in this land. You enjoy political liberty; you enjoy liberty of thought and speech, religious liberty, racial and personal liberty.”

 

Liberty and liberalism, though, He defines as “justness and equity toward all nations and people”, not merely as childish unfettered freedom.  Ensuring justice and equity sometimes requires a constraint on freedom as it is traditionally conceptualized.  

 

Brotherhood, or fraternity, is His next topic.  He speaks of different kinds: family bonds, patriotism, racial unity, and altruistic love of humankind.  These are all limited and liable to change and disruption, as we have witnessed over and over throughout history and in this country.  A spiritual brotherhood, on the other hand, will result in an indissoluble unity.  “We may be able to realize some degrees of fraternity through other motives, but these are limited associations and subject to change. When human brotherhood is founded upon the Holy Spirit, it is eternal, changeless, unlimited.”

 

In various parts of the world, this brotherhood and love had seemed to disappear; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá mentioned the Balkan Wars of 1912 and the turmoil in the Middle East.  Yet, “The world of humanity is one, and God is equally kind to all” He asserts, and the “source of unkindness and hatred in the human world” is division, citing examples of war and greed. 

 

He goes on,

As to the American people: This noble nation, intelligent, thoughtful, reflective, is not impelled by motives of territorial aggrandizement and lust for dominion. Its boundaries are insular and geographically separated from the other nations. Here we find a oneness of interest and unity of national policy. These are, indeed, United States. Therefore, this nation possesses the capacity and capability for holding aloft the banner of international peace. May this noble people be the cause of unifying humanity. May they spread broadcast the heavenly civilization and illumination, become the cause of the diffusion of the love of God, proclaim the solidarity of mankind and be the cause of the guidance of the human race. Therefore, I ask that you will give this all-important question your most serious consideration and efforts. May the world of humanity find peace and composure and this dark earth be transformed into a realm of radiance. May the East and West clasp hands together. May the oneness of God become reflected and fully revealed in the hearts of humanity and all mankind prove to be the manifestations of the favors of God.

 

Yet, it is not naïve utopia is that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is promoting.  He acknowledges that “Necessarily there will be some who are defective amongst men”.  His remedy, however, is based on the principles of love and unity, never admitting an “us and them” disunity; rather, He continues, “but it is our duty to enable them by kind methods of guidance and teaching to become perfected.”  Diversity implies a relative spectrum, meaning some will be on the right, some of the left, some further ahead, some behind, in any given measure.  The solution is not to cast one group aside in favor of another, but to help each group, knowing that we are all interconnected and, in the end, united and one.  He writes,

Others are immature and like children; they must be trained and educated so that they may become wise and mature. Those who are asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of kindness and love and not by strife, antagonism nor in a spirit of hostility and hatred, for this is contrary to the good pleasure of God. That which is acceptable in the sight of God is love. Love is, in reality, the first effulgence of Divinity and the greatest splendor of God.”

 

Finally, He ends with a prayer that is well-known to many Bahá’ís: “O Thou compassionate Lord, Thou Who art generous and able! We are servants of Thine sheltered beneath Thy providence. Cast Thy glance of favor upon us. Give light to our eyes, hearing to our ears, and understanding and love to our hearts. Render our souls joyous and happy through Thy glad tidings. O Lord! Point out to us the pathway of Thy kingdom and resuscitate all of us through the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Bestow upon us life everlasting and confer upon us never-ending honor. Unify mankind and illumine the world of humanity. May we all follow Thy pathway, long for Thy good pleasure and seek the mysteries of Thy kingdom. O God! Unite us and connect our hearts with Thine indissoluble bond. Verily, Thou art the Giver, Thou art the Kind One and Thou art the Almighty.”

 

 

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá understood the capacity of the American people.  Just because we aren’t demonstrating that potential now, does not mean that it doesn’t exist.  Maturity is hard work, falling back into habits of childhood is the easy way out.  It requires effort and determination to release capacity, yet it is as inevitable as a tree releasing its capacity to bear fruit.   The question for everyone reading is: what type of gardeners are we going to be to the orchard of America? 

 

For the rest of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s post-election DC talks, and the rest of His talks throughout America, please see The Promulgation of Universal Peace.

 

 

 

 

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Categories
- Governance - Oppression Development Discourse Justice Oneness

Globalization: Good or Bad?

Friends, listen up. The end of the 20th century discloses to the eyes of humanity a vista of stupendous opportunities and grave perils. Allow me to explain. Some of the more striking phenomena are those associated with globalization, a designation that arouses strong emotions and lends itself to a variety of interpretations. But here is the truth. There is no doubt — and this is true irrespective of one’s views on the subject — that the forces of globalization have set the nations of the world on a new and irreversible course. There is no going back. We’ve passed the point of no return. Economic activity, political structures, and culture are all undergoing profound change. This is not our parent’s world any longer. A global society is being born as barriers that have kept peoples apart crumble and are swept away. Planetary civilization beckons. The transformation is made possible by accelerated technological advance, an early fruit of which is a mode of communication transcending national boundaries and operating at staggering speed. For example, the internet. However thrilling future prospects may be, present patterns of behavior do not inspire confidence in the process. People are critical about the role western governments and corporations have played on the global stage. It is only natural to wonder whether globalization will, in fact, unify the human race without imposing uniformity or simply propel the universalization of the culture of consumerism. Skeptics say globalization involves exporting materialistic values, consumer propaganda, and economic hegemony from the west. Can globalization really be the bearer of prosperity for the masses or the mere expression of the economic interests of a privileged few? Will it lead to the establishment of a just order or the consolidation of existing structures of power? Share your opinions below!

Globalization

 

Categories
- Religion - Three Protagonists Expansion & Consolidation Justice Social Action

Ridvan 2014 Message Summary

Paragraph#:

To the Baha’is of the World

1 – 3 years down. 2 to go. 2 Movements reinforced by youth conferences. 2000 Programs of growth (PG) remain of the goal.

2 – 3000 PG’s. Many simple lines of action; some intensified pitch; educational quality attracts participants. Momentum regained with searching consultation into lulls. Scope and complexity commensurate to supportive environment. 100′s serving thousands. Underlying vision discernible with large numbers.

3 – Expanding conversation amongst 10,000 locals on Vanuatu’s Mashriqu’l-Adhkár extension of training institute. Chief’s support junior youth groups which galvanize all age groups through practical service projects. The Local Spiritual Assembly gives guidance and resolution with wisdom and sensitivity against a backdrop of Expansion and Consolidation (E&C) when the other elements of the Plan are coherently combined. House of Worship captures imaginations.

4 – Counterpart in reflection on action, consultation, study, and action in numerous advanced clusters.

5 – Local capacity for learning fosters progress. Dynamic clusters identify what is required and create ways to achieve it. Rigid formulae cannot be extrapolated as circumstances are all unique, each contributing to collective learning. Beyond “success and failure” that breed freneticism or paralysis. Detachment: Effort is for God.

6 – If we exert an effort, heavenly aid will be vouchsafed. Entreat in the shrines on our behalf. Call to Action. Tear the veils assunder, point out the path of Salvation.

signed: THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

“There is much here to indicate that, when the elements of the Plan’s framework for action are combined into a coherent whole, the impact on a population can be profound.” 

Universal House of Justice - Main Hall

Categories
- Education - Empowerment - Governance - Oppression - Orthopaedic Surgery - Prevailing Conceptions - Religion - Science - Three Protagonists Development Discourse Health Care Human Nature Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Artificial Scarcity & The Baha’i Faith

The Problem

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ARTIFICIAL SCARCITY is a term used to describe the condition in which masses of people are deprived of their bare necessities, while wealth, resources, and infrastructure exist in sufficient proportion to provide for all. The amount of wealth and scientific technology available to humanity in the 21st century is more than at any previous time in human history. So why are the following statistics still true?
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-There are 1 billion children living in poverty today.  
-Twenty-two thousand children die each day from hunger/malnutrition.
-Two point two million children die from preventable illnesses annually, due to lack of immunization.
-120 million children are not in any school (60% of these are girls).
-Over 1 billion people lack access to clean water (millions of women spend hours each day collecting water).
-Two billion people lack basic sanitation.
-One billion people are illiterate.
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To put these statistics in perspective: it would take less than what the United States spends annually on dog food to solve any one of these global tragedies. Alternatively, it would take less than a tenth of 1% of what the US government spends on the military annually to do the same. 
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Scarcity & Modernity

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So with the increase in scientific technology and global wealth production, why is the number of people under poverty increasing, not decreasing? Humanity is richer and more technologically advanced than ever before, and yet the scale of suffering, and its proportion as a factor of global population is increasing. With the aid of science, agriculture industries produce more food than the entire species needs to survive, but hunger still persists. Millions of people die from preventable disease, for which vaccine immunizations have already been invented. The internet makes knowledge universally accessible, but education is still not universal. 
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Privation is a condition being exacerbated by modernity, not alleviated by it, despite an ironic time-warp advance in agricultural technology and global productivity in the 20th cenntury. A complex result of international disunity, outmoded economic theories, cultural slogans, corporate and government exploitation of indigenous peoples, and squandering of natural resources, has artificially imposed scarcity as a defining feature of modern civilization, crippling the abundance and global prosperity of human civilization that is its natural state, by orders of magnitude.
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It’s Origin

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A particular conception of human nature which is implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, promoted in popular narratives can be traced back and identified as the Archimedian point from which the lever of human history pivoted in the trajectory of artificial scarcity . With the post-dark ages rise of the state-type known as ‘western democracy’, an implicit claim of superiority regarding its cultural values, was exported along with its plastic goods, fast food corporations, and sexualized media. Economic hegemony of the globe implied at least three metaphysical presuppositions, to a world fixated on materialism as its religion and new standard of truth. Understood to be the basis upon which western prosperity was ostensibly achieved, three assumptions stood out about human nature.
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Human Nature is:
1) Material
2) Individualistic
3) Competitive
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We are learning that human nature is not material but spiritual, not individualistic but communal, and not competitive but cooperative.
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Science Devoid of Religion

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Much of science is only acknowledged as true science until such time as it is disproven to be the fancies of personal bias amongst the elite who control thought in ways that benefit them through mechanisms of power: private and public grant funding, editors of academic journals, television and internet news media moguls, and industry-sponsored misinformation. A classic example is the transition from Newtonian to Modern Physics, the ecstatic character of which resembles mass religious conversion, more than the sterile stereotype of science fancied in popular imagination (See Kuhn, On the Structure of Scientific Revolutions). In orthopaedic surgery, the controversy over research on drugs like rhBMP-2, procedures like kypho- and vertebroplasty, and implanting of metal-on-metal hip prostheses, bear similar semblance to the effect of profit-motive over elite decision makers who lampoon their whims downhill as the edicts of gods from Mount ‘Science’, only to realize in retrospect a lesson which humility could have taught prior to the the cost in human life and morbidity. It is not science, but hubris that is to be blamed. 
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Likewise, the  three assumptions of human nature popularized implicitly by materialism’s gospel of human betterment which was successfully exported along with US lifestyle’s addiction to instant gratification (salt, fat, sugar, sex, violence, and drugs), purported to be scientific as well. Again, not because of evidence, but because of arrogance.
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The Science of Economics

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The science of economics, taught in every school, has led humanity down a dark path,  because it is based on a flawed conception of human nature. According to the fathers of modern economic theory, which still holds sway in dominant market spheres today, actors in the marketplace can be characterized according to the following three principles. 
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1) Human actors express unlimited material wants
2) The quantity of  desirable resources and wealth is limited and finite
3) Markets operate in an efficient manner
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Principle one states that human beings are rationally self-interested actors in pursuit of maximizing hedonistic pursuit of insatiable material pleasure. Here, both self-interest and a materialistic conception of human nature are presupposed implicitly in the premise. Principle two states that resources and opportunities are limited. In the case of natural resources for example it holds them, implicitly to be non-renewable (viz a vis. fossil fuels but not solar power)  and in the case of educational opportunities (university admissions but not online courses, open-source code, Ruhi classes, or grass roots distance education) and employment opportunities (trickle down theory and not regulated, responsible, socially just policies). As such, it presupposes them to be scarce and insufficient. Principle three states that consumers will purchase good products more frequently than inferior products and as a result of Laissez-faire natural selection producers of poor products will fall out of business, leaving an increasingly superior quality of product available for sale in the marketplace (ignoring the effect of advertising, which is one of the biggest investments of corporate producers, designed explicitly to undermine rational self-interest and persuade consumers to purchase things that are not to their benefit. Also, ignoring negative externalities which lie beyond the purview of market actors, and are having a devastating effect on human society, viz a vis green-house induced climate change.)  Value ought to be determined by a commodity’s worth to human society, as opposed to its price, which in modern economic theory is left unregulated as the equilibrium point between supply and demand. To drive up price, supply is intentionally limited by providers, even in the case of necessities, to maximize their profit margin. As worth is divorced from price so to is universal prosperity impoverished by income inequality.
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Reform in Retrospect

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These “scientific” principles are more selfish, egocentric, philosophical beliefs, that are essentially metaphysical in character, with no amenability to scientific inquiry. More like Machiavellian or Nietzschean claims of human nature than empirical science. It should evoke the question in us all, “why has metaphysical speculation, personal conjectures, and supernatural philosophy been allowed to pass as science?” It makes science seem like prejudice, superstition, and ignorance, especially those branches of science that endorse these claims about human nature. The twilight of this conception of human nature is at hand, giving way under mounting evidence of success in ethical-collective-cooperative business models, but not before its effects had been baptized into law, dogmatized as inviolate, and employed in not only academic exercises, but also in application to global market operations, Geopolitical relations, ownership of natural resources, and even in the domestic policy arising in the wake of civil rights and social justice struggles.
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Notwithstanding this, the most tragic victim of the material-individualistic-competitive conception of human nature is the education system. The fundamental principles of pedagogy upon which K-12 and university models of education have been adopted endorse a zero-sum grading curve, in which the success of one student necessitates the failure of his classmates, interpersonal competition fostered for internal class ranks, extinguishing creativity through emphasis on standardized testing, and social hierarchies that rarely relate to inherent talent but more often reflect access to opportunities family finances that enable credentialing like MD and PhD, exclusively and artificially maintained, through insurmountable tuition barriers.
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Artificial Scarcity of Education

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How did the esotericization of knowledge come to replace what is the birthright of all humankind — universal education? The esotericization of knowledge is the single most grievous victim of the economic system that birthed artificial scarcity. Baha’u’llah writes, “What “oppression” is more grievous than that a soul seeking… knowledge…should know not where to go for it?” Knowledge has been artificially controlled by barriers to its generation, application, and diffusion. Barriers that include cultural myths about who has access to it, economic barriers about who can afford it, and popular barriers about what its usefulness and application can be. Furthermore, education suffers from internal corruption regarding its generation, and what kinds of subjects are investigated, reported and applied that are of specialized interest to wealthy urban technocrats and irrelevant to the majority of people.
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The internet and cyberspace has created the possibility of exploding knowledge at unprecedented rates across millions of miles to peoples and lands who would otherwise never be able to communicate. Tuition is used to keep people out of universities, while the curriculum is already online wholesale. Exorbitant tuitions purchase for the student only the numeric digits of the password to access gigabytes of lectures and audio-visual material that is already uploaded online. This material could be used to teach graduate curricula in every shack or shanty town with a wifi connection accross the villages and urban sprawls of Africa and Latin America. False scales of prestige are perpetuated by cultural narratives originating in the enlightenment by which knowledge is conserved as the elite purview of credentialed experts (MD, PhD, etc.) by which masses are excluded from contributing to knowledge, but also from participating in its application to their own life situations. In this way a passive, recipient class is created which depends upon the knowledge and expertise of gatekeepers, prior to their own use of knowledge to advance towards prosperity. The inherent potential, volition, and talent of the masses is subjugated and destroyed in exchange for the experts to acquire their profits.
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Disempowerment is profitable to the few. Yet prosperity for all demands that we enact the democratization of knowledge, revolutionizing the systems of pedagogy using modern day technology to achieve relevant and participatory education for all.
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Applicability of Curricula

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The content of research and educational curricula are set by intellectuals who are ironically distant from the life of the masses from which the most important questions of our generation arise. Academic content  is determined by individuals and systems with priorities alien to the communities and realities of the majority of people. Graduate curricula and research agendas are as irrelevant to the issues of privation and prosperity as they are to industry needs of employment markets. The education-to-employment market mismatch is an oversight which is staggering even from a materialist point of view. An unprecedented proportion of college graduates are working unskilled minimum wage jobs. The corporatization of the university has metastasized and is stealing nutrients from its parent-cancer, the broader unregulated capitalization of civilization. This is the nature of self-interest — it splinters until the tinniest atoms of existence are at war with each other.
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Culture of Contest

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Artificial scarcity squanders human and natural resources through conflict that is the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The narrative is sold that opportunities are scarce and competition between individuals needed to determine who deserves opportunity — inculcating a culture of contest, prescriptively. Similarly, this same logic is used to make economic decisions regarding the structural supply of goods and services in the form of policy and infrastructure that creates opportunity and education. The prevalent discourse about what is considered valuable opportunities for the actualization of human potential is likewise prescribed via education by the beneficiaries of a pacified and obedient labor force. As such, both the social structure and the minds of social actors, individuals and institutions, is handicapped in the reductionism of the prison of the scarcity mindset. A self-reinforcing cycle of human consciousness and social structures is established in which privation and inter-personal conflict are regarded as natural. Slowly, what should be a reprehensible externality is transmuted into a fact to be embraced by those functioning most virtuously within the system. Before any evil decision-making has entered, injustice is already prevalent, and no one is to blame.
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Consumerism as Opiate

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The material-individual-competitive conception of human nature exported by an imperialistic consumer culture has built scarcity into the economic paradigm as a means of maximizing profits but not prosperity for the world order. For the growing number of the oppressed, their economic situation is resembling more and more the feudal relationship that characterized wealthy land-owners and peasant farmers in medieval Europe. Instead of military force to induce compliance, the modern masters of social and economic control employ subtle mechanisms of consumerism and entertainment which act as opium to the human soul, lulling a satisfied and docile slave labor class into generational obedience. Myths of opportunity and the american dream maintain people in the belief that suffering and privation result from the failure of individuals and not from the nature of the socioeconomic system.Workplace specialization and a growing climate of worker insecurity drive laborers to increasingly monotonous occupations that necessitate increasing quantities of nightlife entertainment to cure and assuage the destruction of their God-given potential. Exploiting the bodies of the masses, unjust labor wages drain biological treasure, while consumerism and entertainment exploit financially, reabsorbing monetary treasure back into the system. In simple terms, the feudal lord owns the adjacent beer-hall, in which the peasants squander their family’s livelihood on substance addiction each pay-day. Like all opiates, tolerance to even the highest doses becomes inevitable. Income inequality and mass privation of an increasingly employed and impoverished majority cannot but lead to instability and a breakdown of law and order. As riches are increasingly concentrated in the hands of an elite minority, receptivity to alternative social orders grows amongst the populace.  Only those who question, and are attune to the searing of the Undying Flame of the Baha’i Revelation are awakening to alternative worlds.
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Market-Share Vs. Pie-Size

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Re-conceptualizing human nature as spiritual-communal-cooperative allows a transition from emphasizing an individual’s or business’s market-share as a proportion of profits, to emphasizing the total size of the pie available to everyone. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith writes, “the advantage of the part is best to be reached by the advantage of the whole.” This revolution in economic theory and social policy implies a profound change at the level of culture, both as individuals and communities, and at the level of social structure and institutions. Unlike the pseudo-science of modern economics, a growing body of evidence is showing that when each individual or group works to further the productivity and usefulness of the entire market (ie: pie-size), it may entail that the group’s particular market-share decreases as a proportion, but notwithstanding this, their particular allotment actually increases in terms of its absolute quantity. This evidence flies in the face of the zero-sum conception of reality in which competitive and self-interested systems inculcate scarcity as a natural outgrowth of the economic paradigm. Ironically, selflessness conduces to prosperity. According to the Baha’i conception, scarcity is an aberration. The reality of the universe is abundance.
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De Beers is a well known manipulator of diamond supply (via its leverage over a majority of global diamond mines) to fix prices at a high level.
diamonds
Categories
Justice Knowledge Power

The Price of Exclusivity

from a guest author:

 

A friend and I recently had a fairly common exchange about which show was better – Community or The Office. I argued for The Office, because in my opinion, it’s more accessible by a larger audience. The rebuttal (in favor of Community) was that often, things that are loved by the masses are lower quality. And this started me thinking…

 

What my friend said is often true. Let’s take a look at things that are loved by the masses, and are also of low quality. Sex, drugs, promiscuity, violence, consumerism, material goods, moral laxity, donuts and McDonald’s have all achieved celebrity status and are universally glorified. These “goods” are available to everyone, and STD’s, overdoses, broken families, premature death, the temporary and empty thrill of a purchase, diabetes and obesity are equally accessible by all.

 

Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came.”

 

What is harder to get – intellectually and materially – is better for us. What are these things, so prized, you might ask? Private education, intelligence, clever jokes, organic quinoa and heirloom tomatoes, scholarship, locally-made apparel, elitism, and apparently Community, to name a few. These are not so easily accessible, and are therefore more valuable. Not everyone can have them. Their rarity makes them the property of but a few. The rest of the world does not “get it” as a result of their lack of knowledge, lack of funds, or both. But we must keep it that way if some things are to be valued above others, right? If everyone could have organic heirloom tomatoes, wouldn’t that make them worthless?

 

Or would it…

 

Commonality does not always imply poor quality, and alternately, we must be infinitely careful that rarity does not prescribe value. Let us take two examples noted by William Hatcher. Professional sports players, although highly skilled, hold an exaggerated value in society. Although they have attained a high degree of excellence in their craft, it is largely their rarity that makes them so highly valued in the minds and hearts of men. In contrast, the station of motherhood, a universal, mundane occupation, doesn’t merit a second thought. Does the fact that motherhood is accessible to half the world’s population de-value it? Is motherhood less valuable than sports because of its commonality? It certainly brings in less revenue. Yet, to quote Hatcher: “if only one generation of women all over the world refused to play this role, it would be the end of the human race, forever. But society could clearly survive quite well if professional sports ceased to exist altogether.”

 

Obviously, many things can, and must, remain highly valuable when equally accessible (Will not the junior youth spiritual empowerment program retain its value as it grows? In fact, won’t it gain in value and quality as it increases is size and strength? Similarly with the growth of the membership of the Faith itself…) We must re-orient our perception of value and justice if we are to pull this off. Value must no longer be defined by scarcity, but rather in its ability to exalt man’s station. “…man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.” Justice implies that those things that lead to loftiness, glory, and spiritual and material prosperity, are not only common, but accessible by all. If we lived in a just world, many of the “luxuries” enjoyed by the elite would be equally accessible to humanity, while others, also as a result of justice, would vanish. Humanity should have equal access to knowledge, health, and education that strives to empower. We should collectively be called to a higher standard, one “that seeks to raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development.”

 

This heightened standard must manifest in our rectitude of conduct, the way in which we treat each other, the foods we eat, the words we use, the clothes we wear, and the way in which individuals, communities and institutions carry out their responsibilities, enlightened by values that lead to man’s loftiness and glory. As individuals come to see themselves as “active agents of their own learning” and pursue spiritual excellence, so too will the communities and institutions made up of such high-minded individuals be re-structured to release the vast potential latent within humanity.

 

In this way will humanity collectively advance, and in this way will distilled quality, both material and spiritual, become the right of every individual.

 

 

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Categories
- Education Human Nature Justice Oneness

The Midnight Sighing…

A continuation of a conversation on Facebook, prompted by the quotation below, in which thoughts about these two links were asked…

www.usdebtclock.org – US National Debt Clock
xkcd.com/980/huge/ – xkcd: Money Chart

 

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor…”

One thing to remember is that money is simply a social construct that represents good and services, and the social value placed on these goods and services. In fact, economics as a whole is the systemization of values.

What the US National Debt Clock indicates to me is that there is a grossly unjust correspondence between useful and beneficial input of goods and services into society and output. For instance, the third largest budget item is on “defense/war” – this economic investment does not increase prosperity; in fact, building B2 bombers (represented in the xkcd chart in the bottom-right hand corner of the millions box) is not a constructive and beneficial use of funds. The cheaper alternative is to not war. Another example, which costs a bit more than the “defense/war” budget item is “credit card debt”. Again, this doesn’t input anything useful into society. Charging an individual to borrow money that they do not have does not create systemic prosperity – the more economical alternative is to create a culture of education that facilitates sound long-term economic planning at the level of the individual and community. How can we fund a legitimate need, like health care – an investment that will surely produce fruits (for healthy human beings contribute to societal well-being) – when we are, instead, funding fruitlessness?

The xkcd Money Chart is brilliant. At a certain level, it is a chart of values (the same way that the Manhattan skyscraper profile is a map of the depth and strength of its underlying bedrock). Money is simply the unit used to indicate this value. The wealth of the 1,200 richest people is roughly a bit more than the annual spending of the United States. US spending on nuclear arms during the cold war is roughly more than US spending on health care. The cost of flowers for William and Kate’s wedding is about equal to the annual income of individuals in the wealthiest 1% of the US; while the cost of Kate’s dress is more than what the wealthiest 10% of individuals make annually. It’s interesting to look around and make comparisons about how money is being spent.

Clearly, there is tremendous inequality and injustice. The solution is not found in fine-tuning manipulation of the same system that created the problem – not through “political passion, conflicting expressions of class interest, or technical recipes”. Rather, what is called for is “a spiritual revival, as a prerequisite to the successful application of political, economic and technological instruments”. As consciousness of the inherent oneness of humanity is raised and as understanding of the spiritual nature of a human being, a creation that mirrors forth divine attributes (like generosity), is fostered will the peoples of the world be empowered to creatively and together address the challenge of injustice. Understanding the nature of the individual as spiritual and the nature of humanity as one entity can be achieved through a process of spiritual education – through “meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of the teachings to their individual and collective lives”. So we see the spiritual solution to economic injustice.

 

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor…To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.”

 

 

The Bahá’í perspective on the spiritual solution to economic inequality:

“…not through sedition and appeal to physical force—not through warfare, but welfare. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently….For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, “It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,” and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.”

“Fighting, and the employment of force, even for the right cause, will not bring about good results. The oppressed who have right on their side, must not take that right by force; the evil would continue. Hearts must be changed. The rich must wish to give! …The spiritually awakened are like to bright torches in the sight of God, they give light and comfort to their fellows.”

 

 

How can we create an economic system that empowers the wealthy to adorn themselves with the attribute of generosity, instead of oppressing them with the burden of greed?

 

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Categories
- Governance - Oppression Development Discourse Health Care Justice

“Concentrations of Wealth” by Michael Karlberg

A recent study by Oxfam provided some striking data regarding growing disparities of wealth and poverty within and between countries around the globe:

50% of the world’s wealth is now owned by 1% of the population.

This richest 1% has 65 times as much combined wealth as the bottom 50% of the population.

The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as the bottom 50% of the population.

10% of the population controls 86% of all the assets in the world, while the poorest 70% control only 3% of assets.

The amount of wealth hidden in secret tax shelters is estimated to be $18.5 trillion, which exceeds the entire GDP of the richest country on earth (US GDP = $15.8 trillion).

In the US, the richest 1% of the population captured 95% of new wealth generated after the 2007 financial crisis, while the bottom 90% became poorer.

The combined wealth of Europe’s 10 richest people exceeds the total cost of stimulus measures implemented across the EU between 2008 and 2010.

The report goes on to show that these growing income disparities are being seen in most democratic countries today and it attributes this trend to “political capture” – or the control of political institutions by the wealthiest segments of society, who are re-writing national and international laws and policies in ways that serve only their narrow self-interests.

Which raises an important question: what can be done to reverse these trends?

The Oxfam report suggest that “popular politics” – or the political mobilization or poor and working classes in support of progressive taxation as well as investments in education, health, and other public services – will be needed to reverse such trends.

I fully agree that progressive taxation as well as investments in education, health, and other public services are essential. But achieving and sustaining these kinds of advances will require much more than “popular politics.” This is because the underlying problem is, in part, structural.

Western liberal democracies are structured according to the logic of interest-group competition. When governance is organized in this way – as a contest for power – it will always be divisive and dysfunctional at best, oppressive at worst.

For reasons I’ve outlined elsewhere, electoral contests invariably invite the corrupting influence of money; they diminish the inclusion and participation of historically marginalized individuals or groups; they reduce complex issues down to manipulative slogans; and they ignore the well-being of the masses of humanity.

Stated another way, when governance is organized as a contest for power, it will inevitably result in political capture.

Popular political mobilization will, in exceptional historical circumstances, result in temporary advances for the cause of social justice and economic equity. But the long-term trends will continue to be characterized by the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people – as the history of the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries abundantly demonstrates.

These trends cannot be reversed merely through popular mobilization within current political structures.  They will only be truly reversed when the organizing logic of interest-group competition is replaced with a new structural logic, derived from consciousness of the oneness of humanity — or recognition of the organic unity and interdependence of the entire social body.

It is, therefore, toward the cultivation of this consciousness, and the construction of new models of governance that are coherent with it, that we need to bend our energies in the long-term, if we hope to truly reverse the deeply troubling trends identified in the Oxfam report.

http://agencyandchange.com/2014/01/24/concentrations-of-wealth/

one of a kind

Categories
- Empowerment - Religion - Three Protagonists Development Discourse Justice Oneness

120 years of discourse

A few days ago passed the 120th anniversary of the first mention of the Baha’i Faith in the Western hemisphere.  At last, the spiritual forces released by Baha’u’llah’s Revelation had an “initial conversation” through which they could be channeled.  Many of the early Baha’is of the West interacted with the Faith through this initial conversation – whether they were present, read about in it a newspaper, or heard about it in a subsequent conversation.

 

September of 1893, just over a year after Bahá’u’lláh’s ascension, Reverend George Ford, a missionary in Syria, read a paper by a Presbyterian minister named Henry Jessup, at the World Parliament of Religions held in downtown Chicago.  After speaking about Christianity, he ending the speech with,

 

In the Palace of Bahjí , or Delight, just outside the Fortress of ‘Akká, on the Syrian coast, there died a few months since, a famous Persian sage, the Bábí Saint, named Bahá’u’lláh -the “Glory of God”- the head of that vast reform party of Persian Muslims, who accept the New Testament as the Word of God and Christ as the Deliverer of men, who regard all nations as one, and all men as brothers. Three years ago he was visited by a Cambridge scholar and gave utterance to sentiments so noble, so Christlike, that we repeat them as our closing words:

“That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religions should cease and differences of race be annulled. What harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”

 

Thus began a discourse on Baha’u’llah’s principle of the oneness of humankind.

 

One way to think about discourse is as the instrumentality through which spiritual forces are able to influence the hearts and minds of human beings.  As thoughts and habits of behavior are altered, so are social structures.  The initial conversation – the Word of God brought by a Manifestation of God and subsequently spread across the world – leads to a community dedicated to translating high ideals into action.  This new system of values reorders consciousness and behavior and restructures the administration of society.  Eventually, a civilization emerges that embodies the concepts contained throughout this conversation.  As more and more people engaged in this conversation, the civilization becomes more and more just – as justice requires universal participation.  And as it becomes more and more just, it takes on higher degrees of unity.

 

The discourse on peace that began 120 years ago in the heart of North America has gained in strength and momentum, and taken on degrees of complexity.  The conversation has taken many forms and included many topics over the last century, and is currently about a community-building endeavor that receives its impetus from an education process that seeks to build capacity in its protagonists for acts of service through imparting skills, insights, and knowledge.  But it’s always been the same conversation. This is humanity’s conversation about its spiritual and social destiny – all can contribute, all have a say.  And at a deep level, all are connected to it….all can learn from it and advance it.  The conversation’s aim is to empower populations to take charge and responsibility for their own development, as a people.  In what ways are your daily thoughts, words, and actions contributing to this conversation?

 

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Categories
- Empowerment Development Justice Oneness

10% of Humanity’s Population is Young People in India

Putting aside, for a moment, the truth that young people are characterized by having a “desire to bring about constructive change”, by having “a capacity for meaningful service”, by having “all the hope in their hearts that, through strenuous concerted effort, the world will change”; setting aside, for a minute, the fact that youth have an “eagerness to take on a measure of responsibility to aid the spiritual and social development of those around them”, and that they “share in the desire to dedicate their time and energy, talents and abilities, to service to their communities”; and ignoring, for a second, that “loving fellowship, mutual encouragement, and willingness to learn together” are properties of groups of youth and that young people possess “altruism, an acute sense of justice, eagerness to learn about the universe and a desire to contribute to the construction of a better world” – why is it that so much emphasis is placed on young people?

 

In 1920 in the United States, Congress amended the Constitution to give women the right to vote.  Prior to this, it was state dependent.  Granting this contribution to the national society for roughly 50% of the nation’s population was a matter of justice – the principle of justice demands universal participation in collective decision-making, for justice is the only means by which unity is to be achieved.  Equality of men and women in the affairs of society is a prerequisite for progress and central to any advancement, not only at the level of the principle of equality – that the rational soul, a human being’s true nature, has no gender and denial of right based on sex is unfounded – and not only based on the principle of justice – because the contributions of all is required for unity, and unity is necessary for progress – but also simply because of sheer numbers.  Half of the people making decisions for the whole?

 

 

So let’s look at statistics.  50% of the current world’s population is under 30 years of age.  The percentage has been gradually increasing, and is projected to continue.  As the population grows, more humans are born, and these humans start out under the age of 30.  So it makes sense that over the past few decades the percentage and number of young people have risen.  Those under 30 now outnumber those over 30.  Of course, not all this 50% of humanity’s population are able to speak in complete sentences or are even fully conscious (ie, the infants and toddlers).  However, on both the level of the principle of justice and based on sheer statistics, it makes sense to involve the contribution of young people to the future progress and prosperity of humankind.

 

Some more statistics.  The average age of nations across the world ranges from 15 years old to 49 years old.  There are around 33 countries in which the average age is between 15 and 18, and another 29 countries in which the average age is between 19 and 21.  There has been a 14% increase in those aged 15 to 24 in the last 20 years – currently 18% of the world’s people are between 15 and 24; while 20% are between 5 and 14.   People 14 years old and younger currently make up about a quarter of the world’s population.  Those 15-30 also make up 25% of human beings on earth.  How can these large numbers contribute to advancement of humankind?  Perhaps one-quarter (15-30) can become empowered by responding to the spiritual aspirations of another quarter (those 14 and younger)?

 

We are in the midst of a youth movement – whether coordinated or not, whether purposeful or not, whether towards laudable aims or not, whether united or not – the movement is gaining and growing.  What will be its direction?  What will be its influence in the affairs of humankind?  Their contribution will be needed in order to even begin to strive for universal participation, without which there can be no justice, without which no unity, no progress.

 

The Universal House of Justice is charged with the duty of ensuring the advancement and betterment of the world.  50% of the world’s people are 30 and under, half of them youth between 15 and 30.  Now we can go back to all the characteristics of young people mentioned in the first paragraph – combining this with the percentage of humanity they represent, little wonder, then, that the House of Justice is working to coordinate and unify this youth movement, to instill in them a “twofold sense of purpose that impels them to take charge of their own spiritual and intellectual growth and contribute to the welfare of society” and make a decisive contribution to the fortunes of humanity.  Towards this end there are currently happening 114 youth conferences, to spur on this mighty youth movement – the first world-wide, unified, purposeful, commendable youth movement in the history of humanity.

 

http://news.bahai.org/community-news/youth-conferences/

 

Categories
- Empowerment - Three Protagonists Development Justice Oneness

From the Animator to a World Civilization

The worldwide Baha’i community is dedicated to a systematic long-term process of learning how to translate the principles of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah into reality and engaging more and more people in an “exploration of reality that gives rise to a shared understanding of the exigencies of this period in human history and means for addressing them.”  The community’s activities are the current representation of this process of learning.  The end goal: a world civilization that has achieved a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life.

 

How do these activities relate to a world civilization?  Let’s work backwards.

 

A world civilization that has achieved a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life requires relationships that are completely reconceptualized and based upon the principle of the oneness of humankind – the relationships between and among individuals, communities, and institutions – as well as social structures that are based on fresh conceptions of justice.

Relationships based upon the oneness of humanity and social structures based upon justice require patterns of behavior and habits of thought that are founded upon an understanding of the spiritual nature of the human being: that justice is a faculty of the soul, and that the rational soul – a human being’s identity – has no gender, race, ethnicity, or class.

These patterns of behavior and habits of thought that strive to embody more and more the principles of oneness and justice – in other words, a change of culture – require patterns of community life that draw upon our common identity; a community that takes “charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development” and is “eager to improve [its] material and spiritual conditions”.

Creating such a community life necessitates certain foundational collective activities that will occur even as humanity matures into a world civilization, such as praying together, educating the young together, studying together and applying insights into action together, and reflecting and consulting together.  These activities will never cease, only simply change form.

At various stages in the development of community life, one activity may flourish more rapidly.  This should be strengthened, as an advance in one aspect of the community-building process will advance the whole.  At our current stage of growth, the junior youth spiritual empowerment program has proven vital and beneficial to enhancing the entire scheme of community-building.

In order to develop the junior youth spiritual empowerment program, there needs to be strong animators – those older youth who work with junior youth groups – who “come to regard themselves as agents of social change”, “endowed with a twofold sense of purpose that impels them to take charge of their own spiritual and intellectual growth and contribute to the welfare of society”, and who can “examine the forces shaping their society and their role in contributing to its constructive transformation”.

 

This sequence of thoughts helps to show how service as an animator of a junior youth group is directly tied with contributing to the advancement of a world civilization.

Categories
- Consultation - Education - Language Discourse Knowledge

Coherence in Conversations

Recently, a gathering took place in which friends from diverse backgrounds, ages, geographies, and experiences came together to explore participation in discourse.  Coherence, it seemed, was the key.

 

The weekend began with a study of a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 4 January 2009, which encourages examination and conceptualization of the community’s work in terms of three broad area of action – “enabling the protagonists of collective effort to strengthen the spiritual foundations of villages and neighbourhoods, to address certain of their social and economic needs, and to contribute to the discourses prevalent in society”.  All of these efforts require coherence in methods and approaches, something that was implicitly, as well as explicitly, explored during the weekend.

 

Next, a message dated Ridvan 2010 was studied, particularly the paragraphs regarding “two interconnected, mutually reinforcing areas of activity: involvement in social action and participation in the prevalent discourses of society.”  Though the content was overtly about social action as a field of endeavor, under a framework of coherence the same concepts and principles are easily applied to discourse.  For instance, discourse, too, requires efforts to draw on insights from Revelation as well as tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race; involves the application of the teachings of the Faith toward improvement of some aspect of society, keeping in mind a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life; is built upon the principle that access to knowledge is a right of all human beings; fosters universal participation in the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge; is not the provision of insights and principles, but is concerned with building capacity to apply and reflect upon the application on concepts; is not a series of conversations one group of people does for others, but includes insights and perspectives from all; is founded on the immutable conviction that every human being is a mine rich in gems of inestimable value and can contribute to discourse.

 

While coherence was explicitly the topic of discussion, as demonstrated by the Ridvan 2010 and 4 January 2009 messages, the structure of the weekend sought to be implicitly coherent in approaches and methods with, say, what has been learned from the institute process.  In efforts of community building all throughout the world – through “meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; circles of study, open to all, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of the teachings to their individual and collective lives” – Baha’i communities are learning about how to “raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development”.  One of the methods and approaches toward this end is that all participate in the generation of insights.  Reality is multifaceted, and therefore a sincere investigation of reality, or truth, requires the harmonization of diverse perspectives from all.  In fact, the culture of protest that has come to characterize much of political activity is a predictable reaction to lack of ability to voice opinions in political decision-making processes, a clear injustice – for justice demands universal participation.  A weekend gathering regarding discourse used the same participatory method and approach as has been learned from institute campaigns and study circles.

 

Another principle that this first area of endeavor – community building – is founded upon is the wedding of study and service.  True education is the process of revealing the gems latent within all human beings so that mankind can benefit therefrom.  Study and service.  Neither is effective without the other.  In such a short period of time, such as a weekend, study becomes the overwhelming emphasis.  Yet, multiple times were participants asked to each one voice an insight through their subjective mind to enrich the collective understanding.  And on the last day, individuals and pairs presented insights from specific-subject discourses that they had studied that morning, each presenting something unique that others didn’t have a chance to study.

 

By all accounts, the result of this coherence was highly energizing.  These participants, who had been used to attending lectures and presentation, who considered the norm a 50 minute talk with 10 minutes for irrelevant Q&A, and who felt that they needed to muster up energy for any conference since all collective activity was draining, all verbalizing feeling charged by the end.  Clearly, the galvanizing effects of participation in collective knowledge generation coupled with such a simple act of service as sharing insights with others was evident.  Participants left animated and inspired to share their understandings of the conceptual framework they studied.

 

* * *

 

At a foundational level, all areas of endeavor – whether a grassroots educational process aimed at the spiritual empowerment of large numbers, involvement in social action projects seeking to raise capacity, or participation in public discourses and humbly offering one’s perspective illumined by the Faith – are built upon conversations.  It follows, then, that all the conversations we are having in these diverse areas and fields must be characterized by a high degree of coherence.  In fact, in this way, the methods, approaches, principles, and framework will be more naturally coherent.

 

Coherence entails reflection on what we are learning about “meaningful and distinctive conversations” in the area of community-building, where we are seeking out receptive souls “who are willing to engage in a conversation about the world around them,” in order “to undertake with them an exploration of reality that gives rise to a shared understanding of the exigencies of this period in human history and the means for addressing them.”  If we are striving for coherence across all three fields of endeavor, then the nature of our participation in the discourses of society will share some of the same qualities as conversations we are learning to have in our community building efforts.

 

Categories
- Consultation - Language Discourse Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Collective Reflections

This past weekend, nearly forty individuals gathered together for an exploration of participation in discourse. (See post, Discourse: Session at Bosch)  The aim was to connect everyday conversations – those with neighbors, with friends, with co-workers, with family, with parents of children and junior youth – regarding society’s prevalent discourses with the conceptual framework described by the Universal House of Justice, in order to provide a context for continued reflection, action, and learning.

Among other documents, the letter dated 2 March 2013 from the Universal House of Justice was the main study.  Both halfway through study of the message and at the end of the study – which was done in small groups – all participants got together as a large group, and each individual shared one advance in understanding regarding the conceptual framework provided by the Universal House of Justice in that message, one salient point that they wished to share with the large group.  Capacity to articulate insights perceptibly increased from the first round of sharing to the second.

Below are some brief notes of each comment, grouped by concept.  This list can serve both as inspiration for others to connect their experiences with the framework provided by the House of Justice, as well as a source of analysis and reflection.  (Of course, these groups are my own categorization – many comments span multiple concepts).

 

ONENESS

– Oneness requires breaking of all us/them dichotomies, including an “us” that is more conscious of the oneness of humankind and a “them” that is less conscious.

– Relationships are reconceptualized based on the principle of oneness – including our relationship with nature.

– That the rational soul is the identity of a human being is a conviction of the oneness of humankind

– Concepts addressed by the House apply to all.

– All are working to advance one humanity, because all are one – this realization gives hope.

– Hallmark of age of maturity is oneness – this principle reconceptualizes relationships and structures of society.

– The new civilization won’t come through only the efforts of Baha’is, but is a process of organic change that all people contribute to.

– Humanity’s transformation will occur through the efforts of all people.

– The principle of oneness reconceptualizes all human relationships in a sustainable way.

– Peace will not come about through Baha’is alone, but all people – this reality is becoming more apparent.

– Association with others in a spirit of joy and radiance creates unity which actually advances humanity forward.

– The rational soul (our identity) has no gender – an empowering concept to women, as well as men.

– Unity is promoted through associating with joy.

 

THREE PROTAGONISTS

– The vision of the relationships between the three protagonists is completely new; there is no precedents to guide action, only a mode of learning.

– Each of the three protagonists affects the other – how can I, as an individual, strengthen community and institutions?

– The three protagonists are not just for the Plan, but actors on a stage of history that at this point need cooperative relations in order for humanity to mature.

 

HISTORY / FUTURE

– Humanity is on an evolutionary path and is at the threshold of maturity – our communities are similarly at this point.

– Humanity’s transition requires work and effort, and though it is difficult, we try and learn.

– Historical perspective is important to understand humanity’s current state.

– The House is opening and guiding the final frontier for humanity’s evolution – the building of a world civilization.

– Civilization is to the body of humanity as the soul is to the body of an individual, which elevates the building of civilization to the level of sacred.

– The analogy of the soul to the body as civilization to humankind gives a vision of spiritual, as well as material, prosperity.

 

TWO PROCESSES

– Linking together the process of disintegration and integration infuses hope into our outlooks.

– The process of disintegration is not discouraging, but hopeful; it sweeps away barriers and allows for more integration.

– Integration and disintegration go hand it hand – disintegration allows for integration.

– As the forces of disintegration are removing obstacles, integration proceeds; the House of Justice is now sending open letters to Iran, as an example.

 

LEARNING

– Diversity of thought has led to a rich conversation that allows investigation of truth.

– Our mode of operation is a process of learning, and all is on a continuum – there is no need to fear disintegration.

– Culture of learning allows adaptation.

– Decision-making in fact benefits from a diversity of opinions, because consultation is a form of collective investigation of reality.  Diversity is a source of strength.

– The messages of the House of Justice become more accessible through a collective collaboration of diverse minds.

 

JUSTICE

– Consumerism is inherently unjust – it doesn’t allow justice, which is a faculty of the soul that allows one to distinguish truth from falsehood, to be exercised.

 

POWER

– Sources of power that can be harnessed include the power of unity, of truth, of pure deeds, of humble service, which represent a limitless capacity to transform humanity and allow each person to grow spiritually.

– Words associated with power include “release” and “enable”, not “seize”.  How do we help release the power latent in others?

– Reconceptualizing power as having sources based in the human spirit, and the power of unity for example, is an empowering notion, something all can access.

 

TWO FOLD PURPOSE

– The two-fold moral purpose permeates all aspects of life and all three protagonists, including its appellation to the Baha’i community itself (its own development, and its involvement in society at large)

– Through an understanding of this coherent framework for action, how can I choose coherent goals in life, aligned with two-fold moral purpose?

– Two-fold moral purpose requires a coherence of words and deeds.

 

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

– The language of the House is accessible to all, and phrases from it can touch hearts.

– The House is inviting us to engage with a deep vision of a just and prosperous world civilization.

– How empowering is language of the House of Justice.

– The House of Justice has been providing us guidance in unfolding layers – their vision is world-embracing.

– The House of Justice itself is a model of effective governance, for it seeks to empower.

– This message demonstrates the power of Baha’u’llah through the vision and compassion of the House of Justice – all are uplifted, even those chastised.

 

DISCOURSE

– Discourse is part of the growth of Baha’i community – people are gems of value, and all can contribute.

– My goal is to have better discourse each day through reflection on conversations.

– The language of the House of Justice affects hearts, and use of its phrases is powerful.

– This letter represents a force of integration, and is empowering to discuss and share.

– The House of Justice’s use of language raises standards of discourse, and it uses language in a way that is beyond dispute.

 

Discourse

Categories
- Governance - Oppression Justice

Tax Code 101

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The top 10 US tax deductions, credits and exclusions ensure that over $12 trillion in tax revenues will be granted to multinational corporations over the next decade. The tax loopholes have been written into the tax code by a bought-and-paid-for Congress that receives its marching orders from the multinational corporations that dominate campaign-finance. The study below shows that the top 20% of American income earners will receive more than half of the $900 billion in benefits from these tax breaks in 2013 alone. Exactly 70% of the total benefits will  go to the top 1% of income earners – families that earn a combined $450,000 or more.

US fiscal policy could achieve a significant amount of deficit reduction by limiting tax loop-holes to the highest income earners.

Three of the top five biggest tax breaks, a $2 trillion dollar exclusion of net pension contributions and earnings over 10 years, the $1 trillion deduction for mortgage interest, and the $1.1 trillion deduction for state and local taxes also disproportionately benefit the top 20% of income earners.

These tax breaks that disproportionately benefit only the very wealthiest Americans are not only blowing up our deficit, but are providing unnecessary tax relief to those that need it the least, and do no work for the economy.

revolution

Categories
- Empowerment - Governance - Human Body - Religion Justice

Abdu’l-Baha on Economic Policy

According to Abdu’l-Baha, wealth inequality, can be attributed to the “extreme greed and rapacity of the manufacturers and industrialists.” He furthermore  identifies  the root cause of income disparity as the defunct operations of the legislative branch of government:

“The principal cause of these difficulties lies in the laws of the present civilization; for they lead to a small number of individuals accumulating incomparable fortunes, beyond their needs, while the greater number remain destitute, stripped and in the greatest misery.”

Abdu’l-Baha introduces concepts into His discourse that rarely find equivalent parallels in the modern discourse on economic policy. Instead of dominant values such as “economic growth”, He emphasizes “justice”; instead of  “profits” He emphasizes “humanity” and “equity”. His appeal to new concepts is grounded in a metaphysics that transcends the modern foundations of economics, which are outdated. The remedy to economic injustice He specifies lies in legislation designed to ensure that private profits go to meet the needs of the impoverished masses:

“…Rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals and meet the needs of millions of the poor masses; thus a certain moderation would be obtained…”

The exact proportion of workers wages as a function of CEO or owner income that is most conducive to justice, Abdu’l-Baha specifies as 20-25%. Therefore the average laborer should earn 20-25% of the total income earned by an owner or CEO. The majority shareholder of a corporation for example could expect to see approximately 4-5 times as much share in the profits as the average worker would. No more.

“Laws and regulations should be established which would permit the workmen to receive from the factory owner their wages and a share in the fourth or the fifth part of the profits…The body of workmen and the manufacturers should share equitably the profits and advantages…”

Today the average CEO “earns” 360 times as much as his average employee.  According to Abdu’l-Baha’s vision, the ratio of reward for investment vs reward for labor is not as distorted in favor of investment as is today’s market. The power balance between the labor and capital markets today is not tenable in the context of justice. Furthermore, honest labor should come with the guarantee of social security and retirement packages for aging populations. According to Abdu’l-Baha,

“The capital and management come from the owner of the factory, and the work and labor, from the body of the workmen… Either the workmen should receive wages which assure them an adequate support and, when they cease work, becoming feeble or helpless, they should have sufficient benefits from the income of the industry; or the wages should be high enough to satisfy the workmen with the amount they receive so that they may themselves be able to put a little aside for days of want and helplessness.”

The accumulation of excessive wealth is itself a burden and carries with it natural and moral dangers for individuals. Extremes of wealth and poverty engender social unrest between classes. Violence and crime become means of survival for the poor as well as weapons of retribution for their suffering against the rich. Wealth in itself is a transient entity that will not endure beyond its utility in this world. Large sums of wealth carry with them the burden of responsibility and administration for its owner. In the words of Abdu’l-Baha:

“If the fortune is disproportionate, the capitalist succumbs under a formidable burden and gets into the greatest difficulties and troubles…[for] the administration of an excessive fortune is very difficult and exhausts man’s natural strength”

Abdu’l-Baha advises people who control vast means of production that they exercise moderation in the acquisition of profits, instead diverting the majority of their funds to the infrastructure of their company, the needs of employees, or the welfare of society:

“It lies in the capitalists’ being moderate in the acquisition of their profits, and in their having a consideration for the welfare of the poor and needy”

For Abdu’l-Baha, the profits of a corporation do not belong to whoever arbitrarily purchased more of their stock. On the contrary, there is a moral right intrinsic to the workers who created the products to ownership of a fixed and definite proportion of the profits:

“Workmen and artisans receive a fixed and established daily wage—and have a share in the general profits of the factory…” “And it is from the income of the factory itself, to which they have a right, that they will derive a share…”

Moderation in the profits of the owner are linked to the retirement security of the laborers as well as the cost of caring for and rearing the worker’s offspring. The social security net of work covers not only the individuals who work but their family and children until they become old enough to be independently financially responsible:

“It would be well, with regard to the common rights of manufacturers, workmen and artisans, that laws be established, giving moderate profits to manufacturers, and to workmen the necessary means of existence and security for the future. Thus when they become feeble and cease working, get old and helpless, or leave behind children under age, they and their children will not be annihilated by excess of poverty.”

Abdu’l-baha advises congress to legislate on matters of workers rights and the share of profits to be apportioned to owners vs laborers in a just and impartial manner. By this statement He rules out the legitimacy of lobbyists or special interests swaying the partiality of the law-makers. It would be important for them to remain “impartial” in this regard and to legislate laws of profit distribution in accordance with principles of justice.

“But the mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and impartial laws.”

If owners oppress laborers by refusing to pay them their share of the profits or treating them poorly or providing abusive working conditions, the judicial branch is responsible for passing a ruling in defense of the laborers, and the president and department of justice would be responsible for penalizing the corporation, procuring the profits due to the unpaid workers and establishing measures for the continuation of a just relationship:

“In case one of the two parties should transgress, the court of justice should condemn the transgressor, and the executive branch should enforce the verdict; thus order will be reestablished…”

Abdu’l-Baha clearly situates the relationship between employers and employees within the public sector, endorsing the validity and importance of state-run workers rights regulations:

“The interference of courts of justice and of the government in difficulties pending between manufacturers and workmen is legal, for the reason that current affairs between workmen and manufacturers cannot be compared with ordinary affairs between private persons, which do not concern the public, and with which the government should not occupy itself.

A coherent conception of society underlies Abdu’l-Baha’s vision of the relationship between the private and state sectors and the role of governance and law in ordering and regulating capital and labor markets:

“If one of these suffers an abuse, the detriment affects the mass. Thus the difficulties between workmen and manufacturers become a cause of general detriment.”

The Baha’i principle of unity is the nexus through which all things are connected. Pain of the part necessitates pain of the whole. Prosperity for the whole implies prosperity for each part. Can any body part maintain the position that only some distant body part is in pain, but that it itself is immune to the feeling? Surely not. The body experiences pain and pleasure as one. Likewise, the body politic experiences prosperity or privation as one. Abdu’l-Baha explains:

“In reality…these difficulties between the two parties produce a detriment to the public; for commerce, industry, agriculture and the general affairs of the country are all intimately linked together.”

pies

Categories
- Governance - Oppression Justice

Colonial Coercion vs. Corporate Consumerism: Replacing the Stick with the Carrot

About a century ago, in the free world, the ruling classes became aware they couldn’t control the population by force any longer, the spirit of the age was shifting and violence only bred further civil disobedience. Too much freedom had been won by struggles for democracy around the world, and it had altered the collective consciousness. Rulers in every nation began to realize and strangely grew self-conscious about it. This alienation of colonial rulers from their own means of coercion is discussed in their literature. The rulers never gave up their identity however, they just reformed their appearance. The dominant class recognized they had to shift their tactics to control of attitudes and beliefs instead of just through force and coercion. Baha’u’llah writes: “Wherefore do ye wear the guise of shepherds, when inwardly ye have become wolves, intent upon My flock?”

The dominant class didn’t completely dismantle the apparatus of coercion, they just replaced a substantial portion of its function with another system – advertising. Their aim was to control attitudes and beliefs. This period saw the birth of the public relations industry, in the United States and England. These nominally free countries are where physical coercion was replaced by a major industry to control beliefs and attitudes, to induce consumerism, passivity, apathy, and entertaining distractions.

Passivity is bred by the forces of society today. A desire to be entertained is nurtured from childhood, with increasing efficiency, cultivating generations willing to be led by whoever proves skilful at appealing to superficial emotions. For example, in educational systems students are treated as though they are receptacles designed to receive information, reinforcing a posture towards life accustomed to being told what to do and what to believe.  Regional training institutes around the world are succeeding however in developing a culture which promotes thought, study, and action among diverse collaborators in way that they consider themselves treading a common path of service. Against the dominant culture, the Ruhi system has developed an empowering culture, which constitutes an accomplishment of enormous proportions. Therein lie the dynamics of an irrepressible movement for change.

television

Categories
- 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

Categories
- Education - Empowerment - Equality of Women and Men

Prioritizing Women: Exigencies of Equality in an Age Transcending Patriarchy

The spiritual planetary civilization that is destined to be born out of the current international, humanitarian, and moral chaos will carry with it a shining jewel of accomplishment – the establishment of absolute equality between female and male sexes. Within a majority of rural and urban societies a pervasive institutional and attitudinal bias against women and girls can at present be perceived – biases, the transformation of which, will remain the goal of united development efforts which seek to give a strategic vision to globalization for some time to come.

That men and women are equal must be asserted explicitly and emphatically in all endeavours at the level of principle in order to prevent the overt, as well as to obviate the more subtle, forms of cultural or implicit masculine superiority. Metaphysically speaking, the religious knowledge that the soul lacks both gender and race proves a most formidable ally in the modern quest for social justice against the forces of ignorance and prejudice that have from the dawn of time plagued the fortunes of women and minorities.

According to values that are rewarded in the modern marketplace – intelligence, work ethic, and creativity – women are man’s rival if not his superior, scientifically speaking. Yet during Nazi Germany, science was used to substantiate social claims to rights and privileges that were erroneously founded. Religion, as the other system of knowledge and praxis to which the cause of social justice might appeal, demonstrates only a meagre history of advancing the station of women in ancient times, but recently has become synonymous with regressive doctrines and oppressive ecclesiastical hierarchies. The original spirit of the Christian or Islamic religions cannot be blamed for this eventuality as much as its corrupt and antiquated clerical order can in its pursuit of power.

The teachings of Jesus were largely silent on advancing the societal role of women, while the laws of Muhammad – defending the right to life of female infants – was certainly progressive in the context of Arabian tribal law. Nevertheless, society has evolved, and Biblical or Quranic conceptions of female gender roles no longer satisfy the soul of the modern social justice movement. However, these religious teachings can regain legitimacy in the context of an understanding of progressive revelation – in which religious truth is understood to be relative and not absolute, progressively revealed over successive advents of Manifestations or Prophets, corresponding to and driving the process of spiritual civilization. After arab muslims acknowledged the right to life of female infants why would it still seem necessary now to wear the hijab in an age when civilization is breaking into the daylight of equal rights and equal social responsibilities? Why would a church like Catholicism – formulated in medieval times – project its chauvinistic original culture onto times that lie well beyond the scope of those cultures and customs?  If Muhammad or Jesus were indeed to return, they would proclaim the equality and empowerment of women beyond Quranic and Biblical terms.

Lip service is the motto of modern politics – and in issues of social justice activists are too familiar with the pandering of campaign rhetoric amounting to nothing more than a stepping stone for a politician’s will to power. To prevent ideals of this kind from degenerating into political pandering or academic exercise, coherence between means and ends is needed, a coherence in which women and men both carry out the work of transformation in human endeavours – scientific, political, economic, and cultural – side by side, in serried lines, with equal rights and equal rewards.

Practically, resource allocation and policies specifically aimed at increasing accessibility and quality of education available to women is one initial paramount step. The UN and global consensus has shown encouraging progress on the primacy of education for the girl child in pursuance to this imperative.

Institutional structure is the most exciting element of reform that will come to characterize transformation towards a spiritual civilization. No institution, western or eastern, rural or urban, modern or indigenous, will stand immune to its exigencies. Equality of women and men does not imply the inclusion of women in all the current, often corrupt, activities of men – but rather the upliftment of both gender roles in novel social institutions.

Nation-state formulations of institutional structure force the individual who occupies them, whether man or woman, to exemplify the hyper-masculine characteristics of aggression, combativeness, and power-mongering. In light of spiritual conceptions of gender equity, human nature can be re-envisioned constituting more compassionate, intuitive, cooperative, and mutualistic modes of existence and institutional arrangement. New global structures will emerge as women take the helm in multiple fields of human endeavour, engendering a departure from war and violence, a re-awakening of the spirit of collaboration and empathy, on a scale hitherto unimagined. Without women in control, the world of man is simply lost.

Malala

Categories
- Governance - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice

Money, Lies, and Spiritual Solutions

Since the housing market crash of 2008 we have heard it said that the economy is recovering. Who, I wonder are the people who are actually recovering? Let us look into what the facts say. The top 7% of wealthy americans have gained $5.6 trillion during the period of time called the recovery from 2009-2011. The rest of the 93% of the working public have actually had a net loss in assets during this period amounting to a deficit of $669 billion. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (7% of the population) have seen a rise in their personal assets increasing from $1.7 million to $2.5 million per family, on average. During this exact same “recovery” period 93% of the population – 111 million families – have seen their income decline by $6,000 per family, on average.

Who is recovering then I repeat? This comes out to a 28% increase in the assets of the wealthy, and 4% reduction in the assets of the poor. The phenomenon can be explained by a straightforward hypothesis: the entire financial product of the recovery is being accrued directly in the personal bank accounts of a wealthy minority. Income can be imagined to be a stream of money; wealth is the pool into which that stream flows. The vast majority of the water that was generated in the so-called “recovery” has flowed directly into the existing largest bodies of water, ie: all the reward gained by the recovery labor and austerity were accrued directly into investors pockets, some of it even being siphoned off from smaller lakes and streams that are already nearly dried up.

It seems we are to believe that the status of world affairs is determined by how the rich alone are feeling, and is reflective only of the state of the satisfaction of the privileged. This skewed metric of success is then reported publicly as if it applied equally to all. Medical science has confirmed that some affluent individuals suffer from Narcissistic personality disorders but how can a whole society be forced to think and feel the happiness of a small subset of people. I’ve never heard of a thief who forces his victim to deny his own feelings and profess great happiness at the wonderful new acquisition of commodities by the thief.

Through arrogance and methodical coaxing, through social conditioning and propaganda  the rich have come to identify the well-being of the state with their own personal well being.  If the rich feel enriched, the news announces, “we” are all richer. If the rich feel poorer, the media chastises american laborers for laziness, and calls for slashing of taxes and dismantling governmental infrastructure and safety nets. The entire world is asked to be selfless to make room for the narcissism of wealthy bankers and investors. Countless human beings in the latin american and african continents deny themselves their own perspectives and legitimacy in favor of believing the pronouncements and self-expressions of the powerful and wealthy elites of american society. The suffering millions go unmentioned and uncared for because media tycoons have decreed that it would suit their interests more if the news popularized the release of their latest technocratic gadget for consumer consumption.

Ideological transformation is necessary. Spiritual values must be heard throughout the world:  “tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor.”

The recovery has made a fortune for the rich and applied further downward economic pressure on the middle and working classes. A plan brought this turn of events about. The same plan that told the news media to cover reports of the great figures demonstrating a healthy and vibrant stock market and finance earnings. The discussion of the well-being of the masses of humanity is Taboo in american society. Such taboos themselves are evidence of a culture designed to placate and remove any trace of public discontent with the economic and social status quo. The more that news can spread of the recovery, the more the plight of the impoverished masses is kept out of the limelight, and the more injustice continues unabated and even intensifies in its oppression.

After greedy banks manufactured fraudulent credit schemes and sold them to the american public the stock market that had traded with and insured these corrupt mortgages collapsed. The government simply credited large amounts of money to these same banks that had ruined the world, in  order to prevent the world from suffering a collapse of the global credit system. Bail outs consisted of the US government using taxpayer money to pay the bloated salaries and bonuses of the big bankers who threatened to resign if not bailed out.
The so-called “bailout” designed to benefit victims of the banking fraud unfortunately followed the exact same logic as fraud itself, which was: paying fat cats at the top promotes wealth by a “trickle down” phenomenon. Our own tax dollars and government championed the world view that the rich deserve to get richer even after having made the poor poorer.

The Federal Reserve credited trillions of dollars to Wall Street firms employing a wide variety of transparent and opaque financial maneuvers with little accountability and even less earmarking. The graph below demonstrates the beneficiaries of the bail bouts by amount received. As you can see the lion’s share went to private firms on Wall Street.  Fannie May and Freddie Mac are officially private institutions however they operate the same way as Wall Street banks.

There is a financial-legal pipeline between political positions in washington and high finance. Financial influence on Wall Street readily translates into legislative power in the senate and vice versa. They are like one currency with two forms of expressions: money and power. Most individuals shuttle back and forth between Washington and Wall Street during their careers. It is these folks that write laws and basic policies that govern our nation, legally and economically. They consult for and advise banks and then go legislate policies that enable things like sub-prime loans. Instead of representing citizens they made bankers billionaires and evicted countless american homeowners and cause an economic Armageddon.

These same wall street politicians proposed and carried out the bailout. This is severe and unregulated conflict of interests. Hank Paulson served as chairman of Goldman Sachs before being hired as Secretary of the Treasure under W. Bush  in Washington. Timothy Geithner was head of the regional Federal Reserve Board in New York (side by side with the heads of all major Wall Street Banks) prior to being asked by President Obama to join his cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury. Many congressmen and staffers hold offers for lucrative Wall Street employment in recompense for work they performed while occupying an office on the hill. Together, this marriage of finance and government has enacted a half-century of policies that rob the middle and working class of their rewards on labor in order to enrich the already wealthy. Is there any more blatant idolatry at the false-god of money than this?

Policy after policy enacted protects big banks and emboldens them in their ways. Even at the time for punishment, the bail out solution takes the form of money paid to big banks to incentivize them to put things back together. This doesn’t count as democracy. This is plutocracy.

The partisan system only exacerbates the dilemma. The election procedure that decides between party candidates often boils down to cash donations for campaign funds. Underlying their time in office, in legislating, in campaigns, and getting elected – money is the real common denominator in what is done. And therefore banks reign supreme.

The current stimulus policy being pursued by the Federal Reserve operates under the presumption that wealth trickles down. They have continuously been reducing interest rates on diverse bonds and securities to facilitate and expedite the flow of money as much as possible into stocks holdings. As money pours into stocks, their value on the market increases, and supports a thriving, bullish stock market. Wealthy investors who profit by their stocks going up  are somehow mysteriously thought to reinvest their earnings into the economy in a constructive way that creates jobs, supports education, fosters research, and bolsters infrastructures. According to this theory, upper class elites rarely spend private finances on offshore investments like cheap labor in Foxconn plants in china, or store it in offshore bank accounts where US taxes don’t apply, and rarely squander their money on useless pastimes such as extravagant, unnecessary lifestyles like sailing yachts, sports cars, private jet planes and esoteric entertainment. This is the trickle down wealth effect theory that is basically a hoax devoid of economic data and dogmatized by people who need an excuse to justify the corrupting influence of finances of government.

Why lower interest rates on securities in the first place? Why give low-interest rates to investment banks? How does giving 0% interest to banks help the citizenry? These Banks have consistently been using that money to make risky investments and loan it to the American people for a usury profit. outlandish interest rates on credit cards, escalating mortgage rates, and a plethora of high-interest credit lines for the public to consume is the result. Why doesn’t the government loan us the money itself at a low-interest rate, taking out the middleman?  Big banks are the middlemen who turn a huge profit peddling our own government cash to us at a higher rate than the government loaned it to them. Then they higher politicians after office to reward them for their favorable policies.

Figure 2 demonstrates that encouraging investments in the stock market is basically giving money to the rich. The top 1% of wealthy americans own 35-40% of all stocks. The top 20% of all wealthy americans own almost 60% of all stocks. Therefore, an investment in the stock market is bypassing the majority of the people in the middle and working classes prima facie. It benefits them not.

In the crash of 2008 Wall Street made millions in a process that is the legal equivalent to gambling and as a result the middle class has been in recession ever since. Over the several months that ensued, the fallout of 8 million jobs lost was noted. The clear paper trail leads directly to Wall Street financiers who, acting on greed, concocted sub-prime mortgages after lobbying for dysregulation of the finance sector under Allen Greenspan and W. Bush and repealing Glass-Steagall. Their aim: to sell more mortgages and maximize short-term profits for their shareholders.

No mention of justice or punitive measures for the guilty parties have ever been mentioned. No one who committed white-collar crimes has been imprisoned, nor have their assets accrued unjustly been confiscated. People who suffered job losses in the middle and working classes have never been appropriately compensated. Ironically, the rhetoric of “moochers” and “free-loaders” and “the 47% of the country who don’t take responsibility for their lives” continues. The federal stimulus package merely slowed the pace of the recession. It has not improved middle class average incomes, let alone reversed the direction of the recession. Only the rich are profiting again from stock market investments. We are facing the highest levels of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression with the lowest number of people seeking employment since 1979, 63%.  Figure 3 shows how the long-term unemployed level, as a proportion of total population, is at an unprecedented high.

The mortgage bubble bursting caused wide-scale business failure and massive layoffs.  Because average middle class incomes plummeted there was less principle to be taxed by state and local governments, robbing them of their primary source of revenue. Justice would require fact-based appropriations of Wall Street private bank accounts to be tapped for compensating people with foreclosures, firings, failed businesses, and slashed government programs. In reality what happened is that we simply allowed government programs and employment levels to take the hit.

This however introduced a vicious cycle. Because people didn’t have jobs and lost major portions of their income, governments couldn’t tax incomes if they no longer existed. So, governments had to slash programs for which funds had already been earmarked, necessitating a further round of layoffs. And so on and so forth.

Secondly, rising unemployment drives up labor supply while the demand remains stagnant or even declines. Price is determined by the intersection of supply and demand profiles. The result is a significant decrease in the salaries offered for labor, further driving down workers wages. The corporate savings on decreased workers wages and collapsed government union bargaining conduces to further profits for the wealthy.

Compared with today, the government has never employed such a low percentage of the total populace before. This is unprecedented in american history. How detrimental to the welfare of the masses this predicament will be is not clear, except for what is obvious in the reduction in public sector employment. Police, teachers, EMS, and air-traffic controllers have been cut and their families destitute or sinking into poverty without new jobs to replace the old ones.  Table 1 below demonstrates teachers employment dropped almost 6%, policeman over 8%, emergency responders down almost half of what it was, and air traffic controllers down almost 30%. (Please note: Air traffic controllers affect congressmen directly. Therefore,  it appears a hasty bill has been passed to mitigate the effects of the sequester on that particular sector of employment.)

Occupation

Employment (2009)

Employment (2011)

Change in Employment

Percent Change in Employment

Teachers

3,942,700

3,721,938

-220,762

-5.6%

Policemen

666,579

610,427

-56,125

-8.4%

Fire fighters

233,051

277,158

44,107

18.9%

Emergency responders

69,370

39,170

-30,200

-43.5%

Air-traffic controllers

23,959

17,128

-6,831

-28.5%

The decision to bail out the banks in 2008 was based upon the threat that the global economy was infected with illegitimate credit and would collapse if the banks went out of business. Whether or not this was true, does not imply that the only option for the public is to roll over dead and allow the banks to do as they please. Otherwise they will take tax payer bailout billions, and simply continue their pillaging of public wealth. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. Big banks were bailed out, multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses continued to be awarded, gambling on wall street proceeded unabated, in fact with new vigor and boldness. The banks have actually delved deeper into dangerous practices and have grown in size. If they were too big to fail then, there is no description for how big they are now. The LIBOR scandal and other rigging of global interest rates is another outgrowth of this emboldened attitude after the crisis of 2008. Like a child who never receives discipline, bankers are growing in audacity, and are often in collusion with regulatory mechanisms or simply legislate them away.  Practices of gambling with insured deposit money, partnering with loan sharks, money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist organization, and increasing the monthly dues on homeowners forcing them into premature foreclosure have all proceeded unchecked. Figure 5 illustrates just how much since 2008 nothing has changed to break up big banks or to curb the expeditious use of immoral practices.

As an example of the cancerous degree of the growth of big banks, consider their relationship to, and enabling effect on, wealth inequality – which is a well-documented precipitant of social unrest and civil disobedience. The top hedge fund manager in 2012 reports having “earned” in a single hour the equivalent of what a family would make in 21 years, on average in the united states. Now consider the top 10 hedge fund managers “earned” in 1 year the equivalent of what approximately 200k registered nurses working in hospitals in the US would make combined.

The value of a hedge fund to society is similar to the value of a casino. They have an economy of their own that produces and consumes, but it yields no positive effect on society besides enriching the winners and impoverishing masses. Simple gambling is immoral, but at least is currently legal. A hedge fund manager’s expertise is in concocting schemes to bend rules and obscure crimes, to break the law or to buy it. Illegal insider tips hidden without a traced. High-frequency trading without actually caring about the product of the company invested in. Manipulating stocks with rumors or media. Exploiting tax loopholes. Manufacturing and marketing fraudulent financial products or bundles designed to fail so insurance money can be claimed. These are some of the ways that hedge fund managers break the law, make millions swindling hard-working families, and avoid being caught.

In modern times, radicalism doesn’t just increase in Islamic groups, it increases in political partisanship and financiers as well. Rhetoric and doctrines to support particular agendas become popularized through well-funded campaigns and propaganda,  often amongst rural, uneducated, and unsuspecting populations. Fear mongering and prejudice coupled with bigotry and the promised pleasures of materialism sway the minds of the electorate and purchase voting power in the grass-roots. As a war of civilization rages on the international front, a war of financial radicals pitted against the common weal ranges domestically — lobbied by Halliburton, the NRA, and big banks. Their viciousness is matched only by the fanaticism of the extremists who fight with each other overseas to see who will control oil resources. A philosophy that aggrandizes the ego and glorifies violence is used to seduce people, taking them back to fantasies of boyhood compensation sloganized in the works of 1-dimensional thinkers like Ayn Rand.

The erroneous philosophy of seeing competition, struggle, and war in everything. The juvenile outlook that society consists only of individuals and that government has no place in regulating, legislating, and providing infrastructure. These are the ideas of individuals who do not know what they are saying, and in their ignorance have even steeped to hatred of the poor. Rhetoric, such as “moochers”, “f freeloaders, and “the 47% who do not take responsibility for their lives” deserves no place in a society of mature souls, with spiritual insight, and moral integrity.

Individuals must voluntarily ask that their privileges be suspended if it would serve the common weal and ease the travails of their fellow countrymen. But this is not the interpretation given to the Bible anymore. Albeit, these were the sentiments and explicit intentions of Jesus Christ, Whom this Nation of God-fearing people reveres so much. So how could it be that national discourse has overlooked this striking passage from the mouth of Jesus, “go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Rich and engaging discourse from all sectors on these and other issues of collective importance will raise awareness and educate the masses in the nature of what transpires in the economic and political spheres around them. In self-propelling systems of distance education at the grassroots lies our only hope of an irrepressible movement. Knowledge and spiritual transformation are a light that will illuminate the economic-political axis of darkness, and liberate individuals to love their social institutions fully, reduce the extremes of wealth inequality, and nurture all people without prejudice in a system that rests-assured that the surest path to the protection of any one part is to ensure the prosperity of the whole.

Various economic policy suggestions have been proposed by way of solutions to the dilemmas listed above. In addition to spiritual transformation and grassroots education, practical steps to mitigate short-term damage in the present humanitarian crisis of poverty would do well to consider the following activist opportunities. A Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street financial transactions. This is a matter of justice. Every sale or transaction in the US is subject to sales tax, why is high-stakes multi-national gambling not taxed? It is certainly a sale, and it may even be worthy of a vice tax as well. This is a principled starting point. The tax rate can be increased until the rate of day trading slows down enough to represent a legitimate interest on the part of the investor in the product and mission of any given corporation and sufficient time is allowed for products and initiatives to come to fruition before the stock is deemed worthy of sale or withdrawal. Such a posture is more in keeping with the honest and genuine intentions of an investor seeking to sponsor the business of a corporation. The tax rate on stocks, bonds, and derivatives can be raised until high-frequency trading for example is eliminated. These taxes would be used to offset the damages done to the global infrastructure as a result of scams originating from Wall Street. As a matter of fact, eleven nations have already decided to adopt the Robin Hood tax to govern their own internal stock exchanges. For more information please visit robinhoodtax.org.

Another practical solution is state banks that could compete and replace Wall Street type banks in each of the US’s 50 states. North Dakota  has a State Bank functioning in a transparent, honest, and legitimate service model devoid of corporate shareholdings, illegally maintained profit requirements, and other pressures of financiering. We recommend the erection of 50 public state banks to support local city banks with loans to private citizens to mirror the success seen in the State Bank of North Dakota model. Bankers in these banks, as public servants, receive reasonable, and not extravagant, salaries. It makes sense for the government to give low-interest rate credit to these banks because they pursue the interests of the people, not their own selfish interests. For more information please visit the Public Banking Institute which is led by Ellen Brown and Marc Armstrong. Twenty states are currently exploring this idea with their help. It is morally imperative that conscientious citizens become active in the reform that could improve conditions of economic and social justice in our society. This discourse represents one of many constructive ways to reform Wall Street’s influence on the economy and capitol hill. Justice demands that labor be rewarded with wages, and those wages not be taken by corrupt bankers even if they lobby the law to be written in their favor and can’t be caught. Society needs reform.

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.” 
sun trees cold
Categories
- Empowerment - Primary Care - Religion - Science Development Discourse Health Care Justice Knowledge

The Structure of Future Scientific Revolutions

Science is in its infancy. It will evolve, change, and grow until it achieves a more mature form. To date, the human experience suffers from an underdeveloped understanding of the nature and scope of the scientific enterprise. Those who suffer from this misunderstanding are scientists themselves most of all. Popular culture imagines science to operate at a superficial level of significance, with technocratic objectives, outlandish methods, and esoteric membership rolls. Scientists strive for this image sometimes, and so perpetuate an unwelcoming stereotype, despite the fact that they are privileged to be engaged in a noble enterprise that is the heritage of the entire human race. Above all, one would anticipate that scientists would know its worth and potential and lead the way in democratizing the generation, application, and diffusion of knowledge to encompass all people.

By restricting membership in a scientific community to an elite circle of like-minded personalities, who share a particular culture, upbringing, and socio-economic status the scope of what questions emerge to scientific investigation is narrowly restricted. This hierarchical structure is maintained by the use of elaborate accreditation systems (such as MD, PhD, and the like) and exclusive membership policies in professional societies. The structure is reinforced by a disciplined academic hierarchy, not unlike those of a church order or ecclesiastic organization, like the Vatican or Caliphate. Though their subject matter differs, their use of dogma and ritual to perpetuate it, does not. As a result only a tiny minority pose the problems to be researched for the benefit of humanity. These questions arise from the interests of a miniature subset of the collective brain power available to humankind, and in the process skew the representation of humanity’s fundamental interests.

The foregoing analysis explains the structural impediments preventing the scientific enterprise from attaining its full stature as the driving force and bulwark of human welfare. This will change in the future. Statistical power is born of the sample size of the population being studied. By restricting research subjects to the interests, purview, and aspirations of an elite, the questions really needing answers, the life-and-death circumstance facing humanity have been relegated out of the research agenda. Research topics of infectious disease, sanitation and fresh water, agriculture and irrigation, public health policy, and vaccinations are some of the most important issues in medical science today, affecting millions.

Statistical power in defining specific problems facing the largest number of humans in the most severe way should be the ideal. Therein should science find its priorities defined. Instead decision-making power lies in the hands of individuals at the top of grant-lending and fund allocating agencies, or in the personal vantage point of chief editors of peer-reviewed journals. The number of people polled in the decision as to what questions deserve investigation in this way never exceeds a handful of individuals, and these are often in competition with each other or finally coerced by market or governmental forces that displace their decision-making even further from what matters, the well-being of the majority. This structural arrangement is inadequate to address complex and wide-sweeping needs.

Whether this scientific structure has arisen due to unregulated expedients accumulating inadvertently over time to define who sits at the decision-table or if it is the direct result of corrupt forces on regulatory mechanisms like the cultural analogue of corporate money on politics, the fact of the matter is that scientific goals are driven in large part by popular consumer values for technologically enhanced entertainment and consumer-satisfying commodities like iPad’s and video games. No doubt these are useful to a subset of individuals who seek to have their work efficiency enhanced or their children pre-occupied and off the streets. But what cannot be denied is the selfishness of this position, and the motivations that lie at the bottom of this type of science. What is needed is conscious effort to engage in discourse regarding issues of scientific reform and encourage ongoing dialogue on the nature and structure of the premises underlying the agenda of science and its priorities.

Science cannot reform its own structure from within, because it responds to market pressures and consumer demand. Economics has run rampant determining western middle classes destiny politically, economically, and scientifically. An external influence is necessary to prescribe in part to science its core values and give it direction. Science is the machine, it must be given a directive. In the absence of clear public interest, obscure private interests co-opt the machine and employ it to selfish ends. While allowing science to recommend its own opinions of what remains possible and tactically feasible, an understanding that values must be prescribed from an external source, and cannot be left to emerge naturally from within the field itself is necessary. Dysregulation always implies corporate co-optation as a rule — as evidenced by politics, finance, globalization, and now science. The parasite is familiar, the host is diverse.

In the process of structural revolution, the democratization of science will require us to insulate funding agencies and influential scientists from financial forces in the industry, academic pressures from the university, or market pressures as healthcare becomes increasingly monetized. The democratization of science will mean that it is determined by universal participation in a survey of human needs. The generation of knowledge regarding research priorities bubbles up in response to the appropriate system of training grassroots initiatives to engage laborers of all kinds. Systems for grass-roots training will allow the masses to build consensus on the most pressing demands of their respective industries, synthesize response in the form of experimental interventions, and coordinate solutions in segments before extrapolating to global practice. Only in this way will the enterprise of science become informed by the diverse needs of the real humankind.

A process of increasing democratization in which fewer and fewer individuals call the shots for what is on the list of priorities and an ever-increasing number of unskilled laborers engage in dialogue that allows the organic assimilation of the experience of millions into an objective representation of what concerns humankind. These should then come to dominate public discourse, resource earmarking, priority setting in scientific agendas, and the daily concern of scientists. This is the transformation that so crucially beckons science into the 21st century.

In an age when social constructs are being torn down all around us, religious dogmas uprooted, social conventions systematically dismantled, gender roles questioned and experimented with, rules of personal conduct and language utterly recreated, and the very tempo of life on the internet re-envisioned — is it possible to constrain what constitutes the most powerful force for progressive civilization behind a veil of anachronistic and outmoded stereotypes of self-righteous elderly males donning lab coats and scheming over a slew of chemistry beakers and petri dishes, erlenmeyer flasks and bunsen burners? Is this image even tenable in any age of internet traffic and lightning media, of the democratization of skills, of the open-sourcing of software, and the free-flow of knowledge ? Why have we allowed stereotypes to restrict the prospects obvious to a dreaming and visionary world that can see the potential application of science to the betterment of the whole of humankind with participants numbering in the millions from every walk of life and every cultural persuasion? Such a prospect ought to invoke in the mind of an objective observer the promise of human longevity wrought by universal participation in the task of researching and discovering solutions to global impasse’s, with completely open source modes of disseminating research conducted and methods employed.

Ownership assumed across a representative spectrum of the human species would allow the generation of sufficient data to converge on statistically adamantine findings — discoveries the like of which humanity could never before have found, and which humanity could never before have felt so confident would benefit all equally. We all await the rise of science, the last great democracy.

child getting water

Categories
- Religion - Science Development Justice

5 Aphorisms on Science, Religion, and Development

1. I feel like science is that family that screams at each other all saturday night long waking up the whole neighborhood and then shows up to socialize at a local potluck pretending like nothings wrong and acting like no one knows they’ve got issues. Each scientific field claims their version of the scientific method is the “correct” one — like teenage girls. News flash: you can’t all marry Robert Pattinson.

2. I feel like avoiding discourse about the values underlying scientific research because God and the soul can’t be proven, is like avoiding talking about morals with your children because you can’t control everything they’re going to do when they grow up anyway — so why try?

3. I feel like development needs to avoid thinking of native religions like a cultural idiosyncrasy of the people, the same way we’ve outgrown the notion that racial dialogue is the emotional need of African-Americans. Wake up call privilege: There’s truth to people’s perspectives.

4. I feel like because the poverty gap is getting bigger than ever before, development needs to come up less with grand projects and listen more to the needs and potential of indigenous people. Remember the middle-aged mom who forced her 3-year-old girl to compete in beauty contests? Hey mid-life crisis: your failed goals are not your daughter’s misfortune.

5. I feel like the separation of church and state in development is like the separation of truth and justice in the legal system. Truth comes out of attorneys paid to represent their client the same way that prosperity comes out of westerners paid to trivialize the beliefs and motivations of indigenous people. Rethink your model: Motivations and Outcomes are connected, in the courtroom and in the farmland.

 

lightening over the sun

Categories
- Language - Religion - Science Justice

The Circulatory System and the Beauty of Language

People have been inquiring as to the connection between the concepts of the circulatory system and the beauty of language. The human cardiovascular system is the symbol for justice in the world of nature. The means of distribution and circulation in it are perfect and provide us with a metaphor for understanding how human society should be structured. Society should mirror the institutional organization of the heart, arteries, arterioles, perforating arteries, capillary beds, venules, veins, and vena cavas. Local metabolite build up triggers vasodilation and increased flow. Similarly, hard work should merit more resources and nutrients. Vital organs have auto-regulatory mechanisms that maintain blood flow within a narrow window. Incorporated in society should also be equivalents for these sophisticated systems of chemical communication employed by the circulatory system in its responsibilities to arrange and order blood flow to and from various tissues and organs,  assess anatomic needs, differentiate distributions of flow based on organ function and physiologic state, and govern overall oxygen and glucose consumption to eliminate extremes of excess and privation. Privation would result in tissue necrosis and infection, while excess would produce disease states like diabetes and vascular disease. In the body, no tissue starves while another feasts on nutrients. The body manages to balance supply and demand to achieve organismic prosperity. A concept equally applicable to human society.

The human cardiovascular system distributes glucose and oxygen in a way that maintains balance in the whole organism to optimize its function and performance in life goals such as work and business and caring for family (some of which may require brain power consuming glucose or manual labor requiring oxygen in the muscles). The ideal regulation in human society likewise achieves coherence between the diverse populations within society, balances labor and the finance markets, and eliminates the extremes of wealth and poverty. When human masses have a just distribution of access to opportunities of education and employment the whole society prospers. Justice predisposes to society-wide prosperity.

The relationship between the metaphor of the circulatory system and the beauty of language is through the drive to search for meaning in the universe, which is intrinsic to human nature.  Language is the medium by which our minds probe and understand reality. Languages are of different kinds such as the language of science or the language of poetry, yet they all expresses a measure of meaning. Religious Writings maximize the richness of meaning, sometimes enduing each word with up to 71 different meanings. Religious Writings in this way may by mystical and lack simplicity or clarity. Scientific writing on the other hand aims to maximize clarity, but in so doing narrows the meaning of words and sentences. Science often defines ‘technical’ terms which convey only one, very precise meaning. Though scientific studies are not rich, the added influence of permutative inquiries progressively contributes to knowledge over time. Conversely, religious texts are progressively applied, and in iterations of  interpretations and refinements of application their rich meaning becomes manifest and gains clarity. A single scriptural phrase can be used to apply to diverse fields as it unfolds its enormous storehouse of meaning to improve human life. The clarity of science, and the richness of religious scripture drive the two major unfolding knowledge systems that shape human progress and the path to prosperity.

The misunderstanding that science and religion deal with mutually exclusive subject matters is fading. Science and religion are two systems of knowledge and praxis with regard to our reality, which is one. Science to date has dealt largely with phenomena that drive technological progress. While religion has been stereotyped as concerning itself solely with matters of the soul and a beyond. A new Revelation offers a vision of religion that deals directly with social, political, economic, medical, agricultural, and legal matters. We should seek to apply what is Written to reality.

In this day and age science and religion must collaborate to come to bear on matters of global import to improve human life. Themes such as governance and the laws of the land, social theory and the modeling of social institutions, economics and the writing of tax codes and national budgets, legality and the disarming of civilian life, finance and the attenuation of wealth inequality, are examples. Religion can inform national priorities for example that wisely reduce military budgeting while scientific research on the other hand can supply the evidence and rational footing that demonstrate the correlation between the prevalence of firearms and the rate of violent crimes in society. As one illustrative example, this gives us a glimpse of what the collaboration between science and religion makes possible.

Language is the structure of thought. And thought is the reality of man. Therefore the reality of man is mirrored in the beauty of language. Our deepest thoughts seek to express the heart of the universe. When a soul-refreshing truth is found it seeks to find expression through our tongues. Contentment results from perceiving a beauty that motivated the creation of existence itself. That beauty is a fire burning in the heart of Sinai, and that soft glow that binds you to it is Justice. Justice is the best beloved of all things that emanate from that burning fire. Justice is a gift to humankind from the depths of that fire’s furness called Revelation. Justice travels from the realm above to our own as a treasure. We as human beings are each in possession of our own sense of justice and strive to apply and unfold the reality of this light the world over. Like a blanket, as we labor the light of justice slowly encompasses the globe.

Justice gives to all according to their need, and employs all according to their talent for the benefit of all. It rewards all in proportion to their labors, and in its unerring wisdom, it regulates the flow and distribution of resources. Justice demands universal participation and ensures universal prosperity. Like an organism, it is the justice of the circulatory system that our spirit recognizes in the beauty of language that has been gifted to us from Revelation. The metaphor of the human circulatory system is the symbol which our soul describes when it sees this gift from on-high.

“The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.”

Universal House of Justice Pillars Alight

Categories
Justice Oneness

Planetary Unity, Universal Justice, Global Prosperity

Global prosperity will result from the establishment of universal justice. The establishment of justice in turn depends upon the progressive unification of the peoples of the world into a single community, one family, functioning like the fingers of one hand. The existence of structural impediments to the work of the unification of the people of the world cannot be denied. Foremost among such obstacles are: 1) the concept of nationhood, 2) centralized control over knowledge and the flow of information, 3) childhood neglect due to a culture of materialism and selfishness, and 4) inadequate access to an ideology of hope and reconstruction that offers a common identity. Structural improvements to social relationships will need to be made before justice can be installed as a fact of global infrastructure. For the sake of the prosperity of humankind, unity must be achieved.

Unity, is of four kinds: geography, destiny, type, and values. Prisoners that share a cell are united as a result of their physical proximity to each other, ie: their geographical unity makes them united. Workers in all nations feel a certain affinity for one other as a class who labor under toilsome conditions for the production of society’s goods. Workers also share a common destiny of being controlled by those who own the means of production, whatever corporation that may employ them. Their common plight orchestrates a shared destiny that they see in each other. Hence, the popularity of unions, Marxian theory, and the concept “proletariat.” African-American individuals, regardless of their socio-economic status, share a sense of unity with each other as a result of their race, evidenced by the development of shared culture, rights movements, and the affection of brotherhood.  African-Americans experience unity as a result of sharing identity in a common type. These three types of unity (geography, destiny and type) are of limited scope and none is universal in its potential or claim on humanity.

Geography is limited by space, there will always be another location to represent a disunity. Destiny is restricted to those who do not control their own social predicament. Thus, those who do not share the oppression or structural relationship that led to a common destiny cannot be united through it. Finally, unity based on type will always be thwarted by a more refined conception of type, due to mankind’s infinite degrees of diversity. Within every race can be found subsets, ie: ethnic or tribal differences, like in Rwanda’s ethnic cleansing.

Planetary unity cannot be achieved through urbanization, and the movement of millions of acres of rural farmlands to inhabit common geographical regions known as urban centers. Planetary unity cannot be achieved by herding masses of people into a common social role, because those who drive the system remain outside of the destiny of the masses. Finally, planetary unity cannot be achieved by uniformity, because infinitely refined forms of diversity are forever intrinsic to human nature.

Only one type of unity remains to unite people across geographical boundaries, regardless of social destiny, and whose existence celebrates the infinite diversity of human race, culture, language, and tastes. Value unity is the only power that can inspire the minds and attract the hearts of a limitless assortment of human souls – a unity of values can alone unite a beleaguered and disheveled humanity seeking justice and prosperity in the 21st century.

planetary unity

Categories
- Empowerment - Governance Discourse Health Care Justice

Trickle Down Fail

The sequester decreased federal investments in national infrastructure resulting in lay-offs and more unemployment. Only 88k jobs were created in march — the least jobs created per month in the past 9 months. The Labor Dept report showed that the U.S. Postal Service, for example, lost 12k positions. The pace of job growth this year is slower than its pace last year. Effects of the sequester are expected to continue mounting well into spring. The economic recovery was gaining momentum before the arbitrary and unnecessary cuts to government services took place. Congress legislated the sequester as a means of motivating itself to compromise on partisan national budget differences. It failed to compromise. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the sequester will cost the economy 750,000 jobs, ultimately.Although thousands were laid of off, unemployment has not increased, offset by the exodus of personnel from the workforce. Unemployment is paradoxically down to 7.9%, because the number of people in the workforce has declined. Nearly half a million people have stopped searching for jobs recently. If you’re not looking for work, you can’t be counted as unemployed. The low unemployment figure belies the weakness of the labor market. The labor market’s weakness is evident in the small percentage of Americans currently active in the labor force. The percentage of working-age Americans with a job or looking for one has dropped to 63.3 %, the lowest it has been since 1979.Most of the 88k jobs created in March were from the construction and health care sectors. The construction sector, which is usually propelled by housing market growth, only generated 18k jobs in March. This is half the number reported in the previous month. Health care created less jobs than last month as well, at only 23k. Typically 36k retail jobs were created per month for the past 6 months. However, even the retail sector lost jobs in March for the first time in 6 months.

Trickle down economics is failing — statistically speaking. Evidence shows that cutting government spending and reducing taxes on the wealthy did not create jobs for the middle class. Statistics from March in the wake of the sequester show that companies won’t hire if consumers aren’t buying enough goods to justify the new hires. And consumers don’t have enough money to buy when they are unemployed. A growing economy depends upon an employed middle class. Employment leads to consumption which drives the need for job creation. Not vice versa.

The hike in the payroll tax (January), the government budget cuts due to the sequester (February), and gas price increases to maximize Big Oil profits (March), are all robbing the middle class of its income. People therefore, are not able to consume. Explicit evidence for this can be seen in that Retail Department Stores have cut their staff by 24k jobs this March.

The booming stock market should not be touted as evidence that the entire economy is recovering. A small segment of society is affected by the stock market. The top 1% of wealthy Americans own 35% of all stock shares. The wealthiest 10% of Americans own 90% of all stock shares. So the rest of the 90%, own less than 10% of stock shares. There is no generalizability in looking to the market as a gauge of middle class economic growth and stability. Even this is evidence trickle down economics is a cultural hoax, which has been foisted on the American people to abet the swindling of wealth by the elite from the national labor market.

Furthermore, the recent recovery in the housing market is not due to employed families mortgaging new homes. The recovery is from wealthy investors buying up real estate and renting it out to middle class families who can no longer request mortgages from banks. Again, middle class wealth and consumer confidence are undercut, and as demand shrinks so goes production and supply. The effect is bottom up.

The American recession mirrors the structural reform in Europe, known as austerity measures, which has exacerbated wealth inequality there. The middle class is asked to live more austerely, while wealth is concentrated increasingly in the hands of a shrinking few. Fewer people are working and generating wealth, thus there is a smaller pie to go around. The wealthy abide this situation, nay even enable it via lobbying congress to legislate trickle down economic tax codes, because their market share of the wealth increases. As long as the market share of the wealthy increases faster than the rate at which the pie is shrinking, they will not be moved to lobby against this state of affairs. Austerity economics is squeezing the average American and European.

A labor-based economy, that rewards work and empowers the central government to tax and create middle class jobs is the best hope for a sustained economic recovery. Economies, like organic bodies, grow bottom up.

Rain Dance

Categories
- Governance - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice

New World Order

Corrupt incentives drive people’s contribution to the public discourse. Politicians, businessmen, financiers, are all guilty. The discourse no longer represents an honest viewpoint of reality, the dominant slogans on TV and radio are a designed smoke-screen to hide the real structure, decision-making, and motives at play in the world of economic policy, legislation, and campaigning. The derangement in  economics, political deceit, and social manipulation is reaching unrecognizable proportions. Popular culture is responsible for making itself gullible to such influence. Our society nurtures a desire to be entertained from childhood, cultivating generations eager to be led by priests, politicians, advertising, pop idols, and whoever proves skillful at appealing to superficial emotions. Hence the increasing efficiency with which political marriages to the finance sector manipulate mass perceptions in the electorate during campaign season and drive up consumer demand with commercial advertising. The world’s social, economic, and political Order is in an irreparable downward spiral. Nothing can salvage it except a broad reconceptualization of our fundamental conceptions of society, self, government, global interdependence, the rule of Justice and Law, the reviving of the spirit of brotherhood in Religion, wide-scale increase in education and the free-flow of knowledge, robust discourse amongst the masses, self-sacrifice for unity, and a sense of  obedience to One Universal Cause.

Framing the problem and a plea to begin rethinking society’s fundamentals begins here with Professor David Harvey:

NWO
Categories
- Governance - Oppression Development Justice Knowledge

Marx: From Beyond the Grave

The global economy is now in a downward spiral, unemployment is at record highs in country after country, national debt is paralyzing governments, incomes have stagnated for a majority of workers — suddenly the question emerges from Marx’s grave: has capitalism been transformed into feudalism? Is our unregulated approach to capitalism tantamount to enslaving masses in serfdom under feudal lords who own the land/economy in which we work? Is capitalism without regulation inherently unjust and self-destructive? Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic extremes and social conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole” ~Karl Marx.

Karl Marx died and was buried, seemingly along with his philosophy. The collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s prosperity since its emergence to a capitalist economy, sealed the fate of Marx’s philosophy as communism faded into the backdrop of history. The only communists heard of any longer were arch-villains in old James Bond movies, or on the news in the bloated rhetoric of child-emperors like Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx envisioned seemed to have faded and given way to new frontiers of prosperity and unregulated upward advance in laissez fair markets and entrepreneurial globalization. Nothing was to be heard of regulations or the needs of the community as a priority above the sovereign rights of the investor-individual. Communication, international banking, expedited sea and air travel, and merging multi-national economies linked far off and remote corners of the earth with centers of purchasing power and consumption. The bonds produced were ones of lucrative potential and supposed mutual profit. Masses of slave labor forces in China and Indonesia were linked with desperate iPhone’s buyers in the USA through deregulated multi-national transport and finance routes resulting in the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Borderless economies were the result of dropping international import/export taxes. Farm workers in China were offered more money than they had ever seen before, despite the decimation of their local economies, family structures, health and sanitation conditions, and for far less than US minimum wage. For Silicon Valley tech giants the exploitation proved to be a remarkable benefit to their share holders. Less than 1% of Americans own over 50% of all stocks and bonds currently. Therefore, the mega rich effectively empowered their corporations to exploit the labor forces of distant economies for the century’s greatest instance of profiteering. The GDP, CEO salaries, stock values, corporate profits, and owner’s incomes all reflected this astronomical concentration of human wealth into the hands of the greedy few. This new oligarchy has become the modern version of Feudal lords. They own the land. We just work on it. All the rest who work for productivity-based wages are the masses of serfdom who toil in their service.

In the past, feudal lords maintained their dominance by force. Nowadays, the oligarchy keeps the situation alive with myths of social mobility and propaganda that convince people they can get rich as long as they work hard. Try as they might, however, people are beginning to realize that they work for a system that gives them no meaningful share of the profits they create. They will always be employed by the system, never owners of their own system. Moreover, their wages were shrinking given the rise in inflation, with no compensation in income or minimum wage. Additionally, an increased intensity of work demand was not earning anything more than the toil they endured day in and day out. Finally it dawned on them that social mobility was a myth designed to pacify the modern version of serfdom.

The owners of the system were an oligarchy that owned the rights and deeds to all land and profits and performed no work in the system themselves. The system ran on the backs and sweat of the slave labor class. Nothing seemed capable of hindering the political and economic machinery by which the super-rich concentrated all the world’s wealth into their hands, and relegated the burden of production and society-building to the poor and working classes. Capitalism now seems to be fulfilling Karl Marx’s long out-dated warning — that inherent to the system of personal self-interest and social non-responsibility there would arise a super-class of corporate tycoons, who purchasing the legislative powers of the state would employ the apparatus of government to their own greedy ends. The result: squeezing the masses of their labor and rewards and expanding extremes of wealth and poverty.

Wealth inequality would cause wide-scale poverty and privation of the necessities of life. The suffering would increase until a large enough majority were severely discontent. When social unrest can no longer be contained, a tide of populist uprisings would sweep the economic and political landscape stripping the wealthy of their lands and lives. As the feudal lords scramble to flee with what hoards of treasure they can steal with them, they take up foreign abodes and island resorts in exile.  The blood of the bourgeoisie fills the streets and guillotines follow swiftly upon kangaroo courts for the opulent princes and nobility that remain behind. The popular uprising supplants the political status quo with a government that rules by the people, of the people, and for the people.

Marx’s theories must echo loudly in our times faced with the reality of oligarchs that influence US politics, corporations that lobby legislation, and workers that are increasingly dissatisfied with their wages. Social change and willing progress towards economic justice is the only hope to a peaceful resolution of the dilemma. Justice demands conscientious insight into the needs of the community, and the rights of the public ought to be safeguarded against the excesses of individual greed. Otherwise, Marx’s philosophy is dangerously close to becoming a reality. Proactive, conscientious, and moral legislation will be needed to correct the excesses of this irresponsibly deregulated economy.

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are getting poorer. A September 2011 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011 was $48,202 which is less than it was in 1973 given the rate of inflation. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. flowed directly into the bank accounts of the richest 5% of Americans, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline in take-home pay.

Marx’s critique of unregulated capitalism appears to be coming true. It is easy to criticize. Marx’s solution seems not to have fared so well. Communist governments have failed miserably in historical examples from the collapse of the USSR to the mass poverty of China in the late 20th century. The conclusion may be obvious: Marx’s criticisms of capitalism were valuable, but his solution, communism, is not (private property is needed for incentivizing labor). As with many 19th century anti-establishment critiques, Marx’s criticisms were insightful, factual, and valuable. However, as with almost all of the 19th century post-modern critics, he had more effective criticisms than he had solutions. We can say that now, with the testimony of China and Russia in hindsight. Marxism, Communism, Socialism remain an informative category through which to deconstruct the inefficiencies of our current economic establishment, but not reliable methods for enacting responsible and positive change for the future. Marxian class theory remains an invaluable lens through which to view the struggles of laborers world-wide, as well as a wonderful insight into the dangers of unbridled capitalism which allows the extremes of wealth and poverty to invoke social unrest. Revolution by the hands of an enraged proletariat is no trifling matter, and deserves to be preempted in the stage of social unrest in which rests now, before the suffering of the masses draws out frank violence and revolution. “There is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new – revolutionary terror”, wrote Marx.

Workers of the world are growing discontent and belligerent, demanding their share of the increases accrued to the global economy. From the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to the streets of Athens to the assembly lines of southern China, political and economic events are escalating tensions between sectors of capital and of labor to a degree hitherto unseen since the communist revolutions that rocked the 20th century. How this struggle plays out will influence the direction of global economic policy, the future of the welfare state, political stability in China, and who governs regions from Washington to Rome.

Tensions between economic classes are on the rise. Slogans encapsulate entire movements, such as “99%” (the masses or majority working class people) juxtaposed against the top “1%” (the wealthy, elite owners of corporations and big oil, who are connected politically). A Pew Research Center poll released last year showed that 2/3 of US inhabitants said they believed the country suffered from a “strong” or “very strong” conflict between rich people and poor people. In 2011 this was ranked as the most significant division characterizing US society, giving it a 19% increase in popular conception since the same study in 2009.

The modern US political discourse is being ambushed with a preoccupation with the concept “debt” which represents the cumulative excess expenditure accrued over all previous years through the addition of each year’s fiscal budget “deficit.” Deficit is another term of central importance to the debate. The deficit is the difference between the revenue and the expenditures of the US government annually, and each annual deficit funnels into the cumulative national debt. Revenue is the product of 1) taxation, and the total GDP of the economy that year, because more product means more incomes, which provides a larger sized principal to be taxed. Expenditure is the sum of costs such as wars, military spending, infrastructure, health care, medicare/Medicaid, research and investment, roads and construction, congressional operating budgets, etc.

The issue of debt has dominated the discourse as a result of proponents who wish to bias the categories of discussion towards downsizing and weakening the government, its domestic offices and their functions of regulating business  and representing the interests of the public. The reality is that the issue of “Debt” is not even among the top 3 most important issues facing modern US economics today.  Unemployment is #1. Two wars, a deregulated sub-prime mortgage bubble, and an unemployment rate close to 7.7% (Bureau of Labor statistic) is the root cause of deficits, debts, poverty, social unrest, and class distrust. More people working implies less unemployment entitlements doled out and more working individuals available to be taxed by the IRS. Reducing unemployment to 5-6% for example is the single most important way to improve people’s social status, personal well-being, healthcare, happiness and it will solve the budget, debt, and deficit problems. A working person has money to spend on stimulating the economy, receives health insurance from her employers, and has income that can be taxed by the federal government. Reducing unemployment should be the #1 economic policy interest of the US government and electorates who vote for congressional office. Improving the quality of employment, wages, insurance benefits, and investing in research and education that will train the next generation of skilled laborers and scientists is the surest way for preparing for sustainable economic prosperity in the long run.

Discourse on this topic has been largely politicized along partisan talking points that obscure the true intent of the speaker behind vague platitudinous of American patriotism which prevent an honest exchange that can actually lead to consensus in public opinion. Obscurantism serves the interests of those who benefit from popular disunity. To eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty, Marx explains, the state will have to tax wealth that is sitting idle and not being re-invested in the infrastructure of the economy. Funding for universities, research, roads, services, and healthcare lay the societal foundations for future prosperity. Wealth that sits idle in personal bank accounts or is used for extravagant personal entertainment does not trickle down to training skilled labor forces or improving healthcare cost-effectiveness. Finally, wealth that is being shuffled around thousands of times per second in un-taxed high-finance stock exchanges especially in the case of derivatives, short-sales, and futures is not only not contributing to the common weal, it is diverting resources away from productive sectors of the economy, and instilling dangerous volatility into the overall health and stability of the global economy, viz. the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis for which the middle class is still fitting the bill.  Stock exchange purchases and sales should be taxed just like any other sale or purchase of goods on the market. That would slow down the rate of trading that has a proclivity to enabling gambling and irresponsible practices of financiers and wall-street market riggers, as well as generating an additional source of income for the federal government.

Cutting health care services simply drives the cost of living higher for the working class. This makes it essential for maintaining the overall health and stability of the workforce that the government tax corporate profits which corporations refuse to translate into increased worker’s wages and utilize those usury incomes for the benefit of the public in social services and reinforcing national infrastructure. An injured or sickly laborer cannot earn profits for corporations or himself, but the short-sightedness of quarterly profit margins blinds corporate boards to the social reality that they are driving the working class into the ground. This slavery is a subjugation from which there is either no return but poverty, or the return that no one wants but which Marx prophesied.

Amid the rhetoric of “Trickle-down” economics, which insists that the success of the 1% will benefit the 99%, the masses of the electorate have come to seriously question the underlying logic. Every working man and woman senses something amiss about this logic. However, we are told that if we tax the rich we will incur the wrath of their out-sourcing manufacturing  jobs to overseas, and they will move their capital and investments elsewhere. Perhaps some corporations will, but wherever they go, that place will soon suffer the unjust exploitation corporations bring with them. One by one the nations of the world will have to turn to a more regulated form of capitalism under pressure from labor forces awakening to their rights as co-creators of the economic productivity of a company. Dissatisfied and exploited workers in all societies will vote out their incumbent leaders who have been corrupted by lobbyists, and governments more representative of the interests of the people will emerge as the staple of national leadership.

Globalization can be seen as a transitional stage for countries that are coming to learn the benefit of regulating capitalist businesses. Inevitably, as each nation experiences in their own turn the downside and travesties of corporate exploitation of the masses and as their workers become more educated from the internet and a collapsing global flow of information the havens for corporate outsourcing will dwindle. So long as the masses retain their democratic voting power, the unification of the globe in a common economic policy that protects the laborer, is inevitable. The rich will run from country to country, seeking those that will welcome their corruption in their politics and legislate tax codes in their favor, but when those last few countries are reformed by an increasingly enlightened electorate who vote for the people’s representatives, there will be nowhere for the rich to take their exploitative business practices. No country will want them to exploit their masses for fear of the people’s wrath in democratic elections. Eventually, there will exist no safe haven in which multi-national corporations can perpetrate their exploitation of underpaid labor and ship the products to developed countries where consumers will fund their enterprise. Products will have to be manufactured locally.

Through shared travails and common experiences at the hands of exploitative corporations the people of the world are being drawn into under one economic policy, that protects the labor force from unjust exploitation. As for the present day, when the rich threaten to take their business elsewhere, on principle the workers must respond, “Go ahead. There are a finite number of places to which you can flee, and the day is approaching when you will not be welcome anywhere. On that day, no leader will be open to your corruption, because the eyes of a democratic electorate are trained upon them.” Any manner of bargaining with corruption simply makes that corruption more emboldened and virulent.

The rich-poor class struggle is more severe in China, where workers no longer enjoy the job-security promised under a communist regime, but did not gain a capitalist government that cares regulate worker-conditions or wages. Along with the lack of environmental regulations, workers rights legislation, freedom to protest of assemble, lack of free press, and absent manufacturing quality standards, China has seen an explosive expansion of air pollution, toxic contaminations, worker suicides, biohazard outbreaks, and lead and heavy metals in children’s toys. Obama and the newly elected President of China, Xi Jinping, face similar challenges related to the intersection of workers rights and oligarchical influence over government demanding unbridled economic freedom for exploitative practices, although the situation in China is more pronounced.

Marx’s warnings do not just apply to slow-growing, debt-ridden, industrialized economies in the West but also to rapidly expanding, emerging markets, such as China.  In China workers have few rights, wages are minimal, infrastructure is not provided, and the disparity between the rich and the poor is sky-rocketing. Resentment is reaching a boiling point in factory towns due to increasing hours, rising costs, oppressive management, and overdue paychecks. The rise of Marx’s proletariat can be heard echoing in the cries for justice that ring in the hallways where workers commit suicide. Tension between rich and poor is becoming a primary concern for policymakers the world over.

Internet access enlightens millions of youth that global conditions and expectations are changing. The free flow of information clues people into the fact that millionaires are partying with profits made on laborers efforts, while they are paid less than minimum wage. Through this rising consciousness, movements for social justice are laying the foundations for long-term and more egalitarian forms of prosperity. Factory workers feel a spiritual and moral righteousness in demanding humane working conditions and equitable pay in light of a sense of global solidarity, as well as their level of productivity relative to the salary of their CEO. The internet makes all of these concepts freely available and the revolution is therefore inevitable.

The democratization of knowledge is one of the most powerful forces of humanity’s collective maturation, and is soon to be recognized for its value as a force superior to that of economic growth. Knowledge and its free access and dissemination and productions should be recognized as the central pillar of human society, and the fulcrum round which society and its economy and government turn. Knowledge and its associated systems for generation and dissemination like universities, research labs, and the internet, will soon supplant monetary wealth as the true measures of power and value.  Monetary wealth is of short-term value, whereas systems for the democratization of knowledge can lay the foundation for national economic and social prosperity for centuries. Knowledge achieves this power by being entailing an attitude of empowerment and collective problem solve. As such democratic knowledge generation is a renewable resource with limitless applications. Moving beyond corporate dominance and financial influence in politics there will be an era in which monetary power is not only considered irrelevant to social decision-making and change, but we will see the rise of knowledge, and those who know how to generate and apply it, to the helm of decision-making, change, and authority.

Marx’s class theory foresaw much of our current class struggle. However, a violent revolution, as he prescribes, is not the way forward. Violence begets violence and does not lay the foundation for a just and prosperous future.  Laborers are increasingly agitated. Tens of thousands have protested in Madrid and Athens, bemoaning the stratospheric unemployment rates and austerity measures that best them. Marx encouraged this sort of protest, saying “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” He went to on to explain that change can only be attained by a forcible overthrow of social structures. This however is not the case. And it makes it all the more imperative that peaceful solutions be reached in a reasonable time frame, before suffering consumes more souls in scale and severity, and social unrest produces violent revolution. It is important for all of us to act now, before Marx’s proletarian revolution becomes a reality.

Unions have not been able to be part of solution in large part due to their bureaucratization. In fact, many workers have abandoned unions in recent times. Populous demonstrations like the “Occupy” movement demonstrate the expansiveness of the discontent and the severity of those affected, nevertheless such movements lack the rational discourse to accompany their views in the public domain, not to mention lacking the institutional influence to see any substantive change. Most of those affected seek a peaceful reformation of the existing government institutions, tax codes,  spending priorities, and economic regulations that themselves are actually in the system’s best long-term interests for a viable and sustainable economic posterity.

The US congress is held hostage by corporate-owned votes and lobbyists, China’s government does not know how to rectify wide-spread corruption, Europe is approaching unemployment with economic policies that decrease government spending instead of stimulating growth, Italy, Spain, Greece and Cyprus are being forced to accept austerity measures for workers and further deregulate their economies, and national unions have collapsed under the threat of out-sourcing jobs overseas.

The solution is an international labor union, across all national borders. Thereby corporations will be unable to exploit people by threatening to take jobs overseas. In the long run, the economic unification of the planet is inevitable to defend against dangers such as this. It is best to be pro-active and support a preemptive international movement for standardization of laborers wages and rights of sanitation and working conditions across national borders.

The political spectrum of left-right wing supporters is now heavily biased towards the right. The left of yesterday is the center-right of today. And the right of yesterday is the fascism of today. It really raises concerns for what tomorrow’s political radicals will bring.

Marx’s class theory helps us understand the problems of class struggle today, but we need to unite as a global economy with a universal scope to our laws and policies, with an equal emphasis on corruption-free legislation at the national and international levels, to be able to address the challenges confronting the labor and capital markets of the 21st century.

“Let your vision be world embracing”

vision be world embracing

Categories
- Oppression Discourse Justice Power

Are You Working for Someone Else’s Money?

GDP has doubled in the past 30 years, yet workers wages haven’t even kept up with inflation, let alone increased.

The 1.9% increase in wages was  surpassed by inflation in 2012 marking the 40th consecutive year that wages have declined below their 1972 peak. Wages fell 0.2% in 2012, from $295.49 per week, (in 1982 currency value) to $294.83 per week, according to the 2013 Economic Report of the President.

Data for production and non-supervisory workers in the private sector from “Hours and Earnings in Private Non-Agricultural Industries, 1966-2012” (taken from Appendix Table B-47) shows that this decline in wages is affecting 80% of the current private-sector workforce (as detailed in table below). At this same time, during these same years in which wages stagnated,  private non-farm productivity has doubled (in the fashion illustrated on the graph below). Therefore, higher productivity coupled with lower wages implies increasing wealth inequality. This fuels the gap that separates the rich minority from the poor majority widening into abyss.

The great irony is that the middle class is doing all the work that is enriching the top 1%. The audacity of the rhetoric from the rich minority is to accuse the poor of mooching off society and not taking responsibility for their lives — however the obvious reality is that the laborers and educated services classes are doing all the work that booms the economy. And the economy has boomed — doubling in productivity over the past 30 years. With none of the profits going towards those who do the actual work or those who deserve the increased salaries. The profits have one and all flowed like streams of increasing income into the sea of an already wealthy elite’s bank accounts. If they would only stop calumniating the poor, the situation would be almost tolerable.

If minimum wage had merely kept up with inflation for the past 30 years it would have been over $25 an hour by now. Comparatively, minimum wage is still in the sub-ten-dollar range and corporations ownership incomes are exponentially higher than they were just 5 years ago. Who is mooching off society now?

Year     Weekly Earnings (1982-84 dollars without taking into account inflation)

1972     $341.73 (peak)
1975     $314.77
1980     $290.80
1985     $284.96
1990     $271.10
1992     $266.46 (lowest point; 22% below peak)
1995     $267.17
2000     $285.00
2005     $285.05
2010     $297.79
2011     $295.49
2012     $294.83 (still 14% below peak)

Graph of Nonfarm Business Sector: Output Per Hour of All Persons

 

Categories
- Governance - Oppression Discourse Human Nature Justice

Capitalism vs Corporatism

Dow Jones is at record high; corporate profits are too. The real estate crisis is over, but most people in the united states still seem to be in financial difficulties.

Household incomes in absolute dollar amounts are at a decade-low despite an inflationary market; the poverty bracket consumes an ever larger proportion of american citizens annually; 47 million people on food stamps; 110 million without health insurance. America’s once burgeoning middle class is being squeezed into poverty. The owners of the fortune 500 are doing well, while american families are having a harder time.  Isn’t wealth supposed to “trickle down” as the theory goes? Where are the corporate profits trickling down now?

To maximize profit margins corporate business models lay off workers locally and transplant manufacturing to China and or other economies that do not protect their laborers. Accepted culture of economic responsibility to one’s shareholders maintains that ethics has no place counteracting the profits of exploiting under-payed workers. Board members, shareholders, owners of the fortune 500 are an elite minority comprising <1% of the population who control an estimate 40% of the treasure and wealth of the United States. 50% of stocks are owned by 1% of the population. Justice, the responsibility of the federal government, would be to intervene legally and reverse the imbalance of the ownership-labor profit benefits which currently give 99.7% of profits to owners, and divide up 0.3% to workers, teachers, doctors, farmers — the educated and laborers who make the products and services needed by society. The US Congress has legislated, as a result of its private relationships with lobbyists, financial benefits should go almost entirely to the owners not the laborers, and has written capital gains taxes in the order of 12-15% and other loop holes for wealthy owners to exploit. Corporations purchase this legal power to write laws from senators and members of the house of representatives by donating to their campaigns and offering them financial and employment compensation after their terms are completed. This is corporatism, not capitalism.

Capitalism rewards anyone who is intelligent and works hard. Reward right now is entirely controlled by certain owners of corporations who do not compensate those who are creative or hard working. The Federal government who is charged with safe-guarding the proper functioning of the capitalist economic system is defunct and failing to perform its duties. The economy is dominated by corporate boards who have successfully co-opted the legislative branch of government, and to a lesser extent, the executive and judicial branches as well. The educated and the laborers are caught in a cycle of consumption of commodities and taxation of their wealth that leaves them squeezed between the greed of corporations on one hand, and the corruption of government on the other.

The average CEO ‘earns’ 360 times as much as his average employee. The size of personal incomes should be curbed by progressive tax reform, and the proceeds used to supplement the wages of the educated and the laborers. Lobbying and financial influence on congress’ legislation should be illegal. Campaigning, being itself self-aggrandizing and immoral, in time will be outlawed — until then, financial donations to campaigns should be taxed at 100%. The personal incomes of congressional representatives and senators should be capped at 200k from all sources — including salary, business, and personal investments, as well as lobbying and corporate royalties. Civil service should be a self-sacrifice, not a winning lottery ticket. Craving leadership itself is a sign of moral unsoundness; whereas selflessness, humility and service are the touchstones of civil qualifications. Corporations and their financial influence should be ousted from government. The marriage of politics with the finance sector must end in a divorce.

Capitalism in its true sense leads to a growing middle class. The rules of the economic system should be protected by the government of the people. One of the most important duties of the government is to safe-guard the integrity of functioning and rules governing the free flow of capital, services, and labor on the free market. This is true capitalism. The system has been corrupted. People who labor do not receive their fair proportion of profits made in compensation. People who receive stressful education and contribute creativity and valuable services do not receive the bulk of the profits accrued as a result of their efforts. The owners of the respective systems within which they operate, be it a farm, a school, or a hospital, receive the true meat of that profit generated. This is not capitalism; this is corporatism.

Corporatism mirrors the structure of communism, in the sense that totalitarian regimes concentrate the nations wealth in the hands of a powerful minority at the top. Popular discourse makes it seem like the debate is between capitalism and communism, however the real discussion revolves around the relative merits of totalitarianism versus capitalism. The discussion framed in this way, makes it much less easy to conjure up the irrational fear which wins votes in presidential and congressional elections, however. Corporatism is a form of totalitarianism, like communism and fascism. Evidence for this can be found in transformation of China from a formerly communist state to a largely corporate state.  Justice, not socialism, is needed to return corporatism to its original state of capitalism. True capitalism would mean a more just distribution of economic rewards for the educated and laborers — those upon whom the prosperity of our country depends; they deserve to enjoy the majority of that prosperity.

Personal income fell 4% in January 2013 (corrected for taxes and inflation). Median household income in 2011 ($50,054) has declined for 4 consecutive years, now 8% less than its 2007 peak ($54,489), which is lower than it was in 2001. Are america’s laborers getting lazier? Are the educated forgetting their creativity? Economic data shows the US is more creative and more prosperous now than ever before. So how does the current discourse’s focus on ‘self-reliance’ and ‘incentivizing’ growth’ justified? A corporate power who wishes to distract the masses from the obvious swindling of their hard-earned products and wealth would re-direct the conversation towards further self-reliance, and increased workers diligence. Or otherwise, to conceal a theory that emphasizes the value of ownership (ie: investment, risk taking, venture capitalism, capital gains, etc) over hard earned work, like the educated services and laborers.

Post the real-estate bubble, the economic recovery has mainly benefited corporations. The US labor market is still in recession. Multi-national corporations recovered faster because they employ emerging labor forces in unprotected markets like China and India, without minimum wage or insurance benefit regulations, and without functioning unions to protect against worker mistreatment. In 2013 corporate profits as a percentage of U.S. GDP are at an an all-time high, yet educated and laborer wages are nearing an all-time low.

Figure 1. Chart of corporate profits.

Corporate Profits After Tax

Figure 2. Graph of workers wages as percentage of GDP in the same time period.

Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

Corporatism funnels all of the economic rewards in the system to the top. Leftward motion, towards socialism, however is not advisable, as totalitarianism of all kinds produces the same structure that funnels reward centrally towards an elite minority. The solution rests with justice enacted in the political and economic arenas.

When a minority concentrates all the wealth of the nation in their own hand, they can make small portions of it available to the public, but this done in the form of loans and credit, to control the masses with the burden of debt and compounding interest. Debt, has grown in prevalence, scope and magnitude at unprecedented rates in proportion to the centralization of capital in the hands of a minority at the top. Increasing frequency and size of mortgages is limited only by consumer’s inability to funnel to the banks the monthly premium that is due. Automobile loans show record breaking size ($26,691) and duration (65 months) quarter after quarter. Longer, larger, and more frequent loans, for an expanding spectrum of goods is evidence that we are being owned by others. We borrow our existence from those who own all the wealth of the nation. If all the wealth is theirs, they enslave us through debt. The educated and the laborers work the remainder of their lives to redeem that debt and make the wealthy wealthier.

32 trillion dollars have been funnelled from american corporations to off-shore accounts to avoid US taxes. How does this money trickle down to the american people? Discourse on these matters can assist us to recognize the injustice, elect government officials with integrity, legislate the removal of finances and corporate influence from congress, develop a progressive tax pattern, and rectify the ownership-labor imbalance of reward distribution toward the educated and laborers .

Passivity is bred by the forces of consumerism. A desire to be entertained is nurtured in popular culture, from school age children to young professionals. Social causes often devolve into superficial fads, rarely challenging the fundamentals of our economic and political systems. Education fails to go beyond the memorizing of information, failing to cultivate curious minds that will question and reform the structures of our society for the future. Society must learn it is treading a common path of service, in which communities should support each other and advance together, unitedly. Prosperity follows unity.

Funneling of financial reward to the elite minority at the top disempowers the masses of people at the bottom. Eventually, the squeezing of the middle class will completely obliterate the power and rights of the majority. People are concerned about hostile occupation under a tyrannical government, saying that the individuals right to bear arms is the only defense against domination — how can fire arms help us now? An elite government plutocracy controls 40% of the nations wealth, and all of congress, and has rigged the system such that the law — which is supposed to stand up for american justice — is written against the people. The debate over fire arms is misplaced — we are under an oppressive government rule now, and there’s nothing that the right bear arms is doing about it. Military violence is not so oppressive as economic domination.

Noam Chomsky once wrote, “jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them.” Trickle down economics, the ideology in favor of the wealthy elite, was  popularized by a confabulated myth of self-reliance (fundementalism), demonizing critics of wealth inequality (fear), and a sharp racial divide along party lines (racism), by people with pretense to a monopoly on patriotism (jingoism), which accumulated a mass of political support for policies designed to squeeze the middle class of its hard-earned labor and education reward.

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment Human Nature Justice Oneness

Ninety-Five Conferences will be Convened

Topic Outline: (by paragraph)

  1. Summary
  2. Youth Saviors
  3. 95 Conferences will be Convened
  4. Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

¶1    Summary

Civilization as we know it is characterized by a culture of rational self-interest and a value system that encourages individual benefit. Decisions regarding what social, political, or religious ideology to believe in seem based upon calculations of which one personally profits each individual or satisfies their desires the most. Nevertheless an emerging demographic exists who are not duped by the assumptions of the establishment generation. Progressive thinkers and activists, who are typically in their youth, are ironically the main resistance to this dominant ideology. This is ironic, because it is precisely the impressionable age group of youth towards which corporate marketing and proponents of consumerism tailor their advertising propaganda and a culture of peer pressure. Precisely where beneficiaries of a consumer culture expect to reap the 2nd generation of their ideological harvest, a phenomenon is being observed that gives hope to heart.

2    Youth Saviours

Those who are old enough to have the intellectual capacity to perceive right from wrong but who are still young enough to posses the trait of idealism before vested interests in financial establishment strip them of it — these youth in their mid teens and twenties — are at once the target and the arch-nemesis of the materialistic way of life. In youth is found both the gullibility of rationalized hedonism and the will that blazes bright with the fire of sacrifice. Selflessness is the moral order that will inherit the future. There would be concern for the destiny of human society and the trajectory of our civilization were it not for the youth who are arising in diverse cultural settings, and from a wide spectrum of social and economic backgrounds, both rural and urban, public schools and private universities, indigenous and immigrant populations, working class and affluent families to unitedly affect positive enduring transformation. These diverse social elements have melted together as if by the heat of a common oppression and the camaraderie born of a shared sense of purpose. A sea tide of melded discontent stands ready to revolutionize humankind’s ordered life with sweeping reforms one after another, and the unity of identity and purpose needed to see the that transformation through.

¶3   95 Conferences will be Convened

In launching this stupendous mission and to accelerate its initial progress, an organization of youth which functions as a platform for the dissemination of conceptual truths, and a proclamation of the responsibilities to be borne by this age group is needed. Therefore, 95 youth conferences will be convened. Every young person who perceives that the path to the regeneration of the fortunes of humankind as one collective lies in the restructuring of social, economic and political life according to spiritual values of unity and justice would do well to attend.

¶4   Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

Born, Lived, and Died on this earth — every human being who has ever existed has confronted the perennial question, posed to us from the bowels of existence itself: to contribute to the betterment of the world or languish in hedonism the remaining days of a fleeting life? As innumerable as all the people of the world and of the past may be, still each one possesses a unique opportunity to render some service. Youth of the world: the choice is now! The cross-roads beckon before us: do we meditate on this crisis of civilization, do we commit to its reform, do we harden our hearts for the pain that a life of sacrifice would entail, in preparation for the glorious revolution, the surpassing characters, and the untold blessings that are sure to follow on the heels of so great an undertaking?

The swamp of human values today will birth fairies of a realm beyond, nymphs of perspicuous eye sight, visionary pixies with stainless characters in stark contrast to the mire of the swamp. Plagued by insecurity the present world order will perish. Uniting the myriad disenfranchised segments of a multi-cultured but too extremely unequal society into a single response. Youth who do not placidly walk past the injustices of the world, nor even seek to ignore or avoid them, but rather run straight towards them — these youth will struggle and die for the reign of justice to arrive.

“Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more…”

95 Youth Conferences

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Governance - Oppression Discourse Human Nature Justice Oneness

In the Masses Lies the Key

Some facts are based on principle, others follow from empirical evidence. The economic and social order of the industrial world no longer considers universal welfare the object of its deliberations and actions. This has been, in part, the result of a self-centered design by the elite few whose underhanded influence upon government has seen a cancerous variant of capitalism eat into the vitals of democratic representation. However, this is also because a general unity of values, discourse, and global consensus on the part of the masses of people was lacking. Blame should be carefully laid where it can be demonstrated, to avoid exaggerating the culpability of those who exploited a situation that lacked unity of vision. Particularistic forces operated in a way that profited themselves according to an institutionalized design. The measure of their selfishness may neither have exceeded nor been exceeded by the selfishness of the masses. Outcome inequalities in access and opportunity may have resulted from a difference in power which enables them to acquire the structural changes anyone would seek in accordance with a morality of chaos that is fragmented into isolated individuals, in which each individual pursues their own personal benefit. This was and continues to be the dominant moral order. A differential of moral culpability may not have existed; only a power differential, between the soon-to-be elite, and the masses. But all animals exist in a state of power struggle with others. What worm declines to struggle against the crushing weight of a lion’s paw on his hunting sprint? If all people were universally selfish in the years leading up to the current accumulation of financial and social capital in the hands of a minuscule minority, then the current outcry should not be identified with the voice of justice, but is better anthropomorphised as the objection of losers. Culpability cannot be placed at the feet of the victors, soley due to their disproportionate privilege. Culpability must be placed equally at the feet of all who engaged in a jungle-style war of the fittest evolutionary specimen in the selfish and competitive world of social Darwinism. Anyone who competed in the game of selfishness contributed to the downfall of our moral order, and its institutionalization of unequal access and opportunity. If all humans were equally guilty in the years leading up to the injustice of our world order, then all can be declared equally innocent in this day, when all humankind is awakening to the reality of what our selfish ways have wrought. Humankind is now waking up from its great folly and opening its eyes to the beneficence of a new value system. The value systems of the future are based upon the acute awareness of the spiritual reality of humankind and therefore our essential oneness. The realization of the many inadequacies of the individualistic, competitive, materialistic paradigm is tearing away the veils from our eyes. In temporary moments of adjustment to blinding sunlight most social theorists are stunned, awed, and bewildered. There is need for a time of self-examination after our confidence in our identity has been shaken. The social theory that we touted for over half a century with such apparent promise, and in which we invested so much of our hopes and faith, now sags under mounting evidence that it is the source of a world-wide atrocity against all humankind, and the perpetrator of an ever-expanding abyss that divides a quickly shrinking wealthy elite from the masses of impoverished people mired in hopeless want. Bewilderment, gives way to search, and search to love of a philosophy of universal brotherhood and institutionalized philanthropy,  based on the concepts of a spiritual human identity, global unity, justice for all, and insightful theories as opposed to economics as the central feature of social existence. These concepts enable a renewed commitment on the part of people, institutions, and communities to the common well-being of humankind.

In the application of this new theory, we are not allowed to assign to the masses again a role of passive obedience to the will of an elite minority, this time a minority who understands the need for the common resources of earth (material and human) to be devoted to the universal well-being of all equally. This minority, no matter how well intentioned will prove to be no different from the minority that was responsible for the individualstic, competitive system of consumerism that produced so much senseless suffering and injustice in the world. No doubt they too had noble intentions with the start of their enterprise  (Indeed their theory maintained that the greatest amount of total prosperity resulted from each person striving to achieve the most comfortable life for himself or herself). No, rather must the revolutionary theory of human unity, equality, and spirituality be implanted in the lives of all people through the patient but methodical action and reflection of all people collectively in their respective spheres of endeavor to the problems facing them in their social, economic, agricultural, health care, and educational lives. Only this way will the empowerment of a people become a wide-spread and global phenomenon, which alone can be responsible for elevating a civilization out from the mire in which a half-century of greed, domination, and war has imprisoned it. The masses will have a fundamental role in the transformation of our world forward.

New theories are important, but structures must be coherent with those theories if they are to have a positive effect. Love cannot be maintained by force. Peace cannot be achieved through war. Similarly, justice cannot be achieved through injustice. Through principle we always knew, and through experience we have come to learn, that means must always be expressed in a way that is morally consistent with our ends. Equality cannot be achieved by a few. For, those few in perceiving the endpoint of a just social order, and seeking to impose that endpoint on multitudes of other people, will thereby  ironically become the unknowing perpetrators of a tyrannical world order. Foreknowledge of outcomes is not always necessary to be a good man, in many instances adherence to moral principles is sufficient. A revolution for the people must ultimately be conducted by the people. Where the people are activists only and not thinkers in the formulation of transformation, they continue to occupy the position of the manipulated  and their leaders, though purportedly advocating a moral order free of manipulative dynamics, are in fact inwardly becoming the oppressor class of a new totalitarian regime.

What is the role of “leadership” then, in the path to a just social order? As opposed to giving society its structure and overall direction, the function of the new leadership is to convene those settings in which selfless consultation can take place, to coordinate the interface and representation of all human needs equally, and to safegard the process of democratic decision making. The new leadership is a shepherd, walking beside the flock, not a fox, herding them toward exploitation. Reflection and action are as intrinsic to the masses as success is to revolution–without it, tyranny supplants tyranny without any change in human fortunes. Ironically, the act of compelling the masses to serve a revolutionary goal, falsifies the goals of the transformation, and robs it of its intended nobility. The oppressed maintain their status as oppressed under a new master, and the elite are merely exchanged for a minority with another lingo, and another vocabulary for justifying their indulgence. The means must be coherent with the ends, to truly vindicate those ends in the long run. It is a strange law built into the fabric of the universe, that morality is not utilitarian, but always will be, deontological. No matter how good the justification for a crime may be, God has made up His mind, that unsound means shall never serve His holy Ends. If leadership is committed to the unity and equality of all humankind, it recognizes that its reflection and action must walk hand in hand with the reflection and action of the masses.

Masses

Categories
- Consultation Knowledge

Scholars and Servants

As beings of praxis, human beings differ from animals, which are beings of pure activity. Animals do not consider the world; they are immersed in it. In contrast, human beings emerge from the world, objectify it, and in so doing can understand it and transform it with their labor. Animals, which do not labor, live in a setting which they cannot transcend. Hence, each animal species lives in the context appropriate to it, and these environments, while open to humans, cannot be a facility for communication among them.

But human activity consists of action and reflection: it is praxis, and through praxis it is transformation of the world. As praxis, it requires theory to illuminate it. Human activity consists of theory and practice; it is reflection and action. It cannot, be reduced to either pure analysis (verbalism) or mindless action (activism). Without a revolutionary theory there can be no movement for change. The revolution of mankind’s ordered life will be achieved with neither verbalism nor activism, but rather with praxis, that is, with reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed. The revolutionary effort to transform these structures radically cannot designate its leaders as its thinkers and the rest as mere followers or doers. In this revolution all must be scholars and all must be servants.

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Reflection and Action

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Categories
- Consultation - Equality of Women and Men Development Health Care Oneness

Utilizing Material Means

Achievement, we know from experience, requires the expenditure of material means. Social and economic development, albeit with a spiritual and transcendent intention, is no exception. Antithetically, there are many societies, some of whom may consider themselves servants of the best interests of humankind,  who gauge achievement in terms of the raw quantity of grants received, employees hired, and monetary resources consumed. Socioeconomic development (SED) programs of the future, are expected to utilize more accurate, humanistic, and noble outcome measures.

Communities generate funding for their own SED projects. Governmental or NGO donor agencies dispense grants to applicant organizations. In all cases however, funding should be utilized for the betterment of the people being served, not for the satisfaction of bureaucratic outcome measures imposed by the donors. Indigenous capacity building is the mainstay of authentic SED work.

Trust is paramount for the continued donation of funding. Systems, and not individuals, must be responsible for safeguarding the transparency and clarity of the financial operations of any SED organization. An eternity of financial drought will follow for every lapse of integrity in the process of money-handling. Not only is corruption of a willful and depraved manner unacceptable, but so too is the lackadaisicalness and imprecision characterizing so many governmental and charitable organizations. No wonder therefore at the little respect awarded to these organizations in popular conception. Inefficiency and incompetence are no less disillusioning than frank corruption. Evidence-based practices of financial regularity will serve as prophylaxis against an ethos that conduces to individual unscrupulousness.

Beyond concrete inputs and outputs, variables in a re-conception of efficiency should be expanded to include such things as creativity, selflessness, and sustainability of an employee’s motivation. We know that careerism can motivate people, but have we explored how spiritual values, self-sacrifice, and empowerment can motivate a work-force? Obsequiousness to one’s superiors accomplishes narrow aims. Camaraderie and unity in a collegial  team-environment  unleashes ingenuity and devotion that  reach super-human levels of dedication and excellence. The love one bears for oneself is delusional and finite. The love we bear for each other can be infinite and inexhaustible.

Far-farsightedness, a virtue lost on modern financial giants, entails expanding goals to include intangibles such as interpersonal rapport and talent-vocation matching, instead of the management-worker relationship — the worker-worker relationship should take precedence. The firing and hiring of individuals as the fundamental action of  human resource acquisition is the single-most destructive characteristic of modern economics. A vast and inexhaustible productive resource comes into existence in the interactions and familiarities professionals co-create together as they innovate the path to their next collective objective. The efficiency and joy, the exuberance and power of unity, as an intangible but positively priceless resource goes unquantified and unpurchased, altogether despoiled, as employers buy and sell individuals unaware of their collective efficiencies developed through mutual rapport.

The capacity of participants in SED projects to cooperate and coordinate united action determines their success. Over and above material inputs and outputs, a storehouse of spiritual and intangible resources remain as gems un-excavated from within the mine of human potential. Employment and production will reach summits of achievement  when harmonious cooperation is sought as a resource along with personal abilities. Loyalty and consecration,  resourcefulness and organizing ability, courage and zeal, tenacity, sagacity, fidelity, devotion, and vigilance–all these constitute the intangible powers of unity.

The triumph of selfless virtues testifies to the efficacy of their influence, an influence which should come to increasingly characterize the sphere of action in social and economic development. Material means are a treasure entrusted to an organization by those who make donations sacrificially, joyfully, and with a consciousness that its custodians will no doubt exercise an exalted attitude of scruples, gratitude, and economy in deference to the sacrifice that those donations entailed. To ensure the continued survival of SED organizations we have no doubt that such an attitude must and will be exercised.

The gap between one’s material means and one’s achievements is the measure of the potency of these spiritual virtues, and the proportion to which they have been utilized. Increasingly will these intangibles constitute the tipping point in the balance between forces of constructiveness and liberation on the one hand, and the forces of exploitation and individualism, on the other. The new centers of economic power will be the educational institutions that cultivate and reward intangible virtues of human character and spiritual ideals of unity and cooperation. By their aid and their insensible influence the truth will be made manifest in the realm of means as brilliant as it currently is in the world of spirit.

 

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Farm Workers

 

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Categories
- Consultation Development Justice Knowledge Oneness

Justice and Universal Participation

The development of a just society requires universal participation.

Why?  Why is this the case?  If you’d like, respond with your thoughts below.

Surely, there are many of reasons.  Three come to my mind at the moment.  They are related to unity, capacity building, and knowledge.

The purpose of justice is to bring about unity within human society.  This is a basic reason why all who are a part of this society need to be involved in its development; otherwise how could one claim unity, when some are spectators and some are protagonists?  More significant than the actual actions of various people (because of course, contribution to society’s development is a spectrum; some more active, some less) it is the mindset of “us” and “them” – of otherness – that hinders unity.

One of the manifestations of justice is that the capacity of each created thing is revealed to its fullest.  Obviously, this, too, is a spectrum.  But, to use a tree as a simple example, it is just that a tree be allowed to bear its fruit.  Human beings have infinite talents and capacities, especially when each individual is viewed as part of a collective humanity.  In order to fully express the collective capacity of humankind, opportunities must be created for each individual to contribute to humanity’s well-being and development, according to his/her talents.  Otherwise, if only some develop capacities while others don’t, the collective capacity of humankind will not fully be actualized, which is not just.

Finally, justice is the process of investigating truth through one’s own eyes, and not through blind imitation of what has been already stated.  A human being who undertakes an exploration of reality with justice will necessarily have a unique perspective, since it is through his/her own eyes – some may say that it is subjective.  We know that reality is multi-faceted.  As an example, imagine that it’s a sphere.  Each individual will view from a particular angle, perhaps seeing a disc.  It is only as more and more subjective perspectives are harmonized together will reality be objectively known and understood.  Justice demands universal participation, because it is only through a diverse range of perspectives that our multi-faceted reality can be known, and justice is the process by which we understand truth.

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Categories
- Equality of Women and Men Oneness

Gender Equality and the Economy

So long as woman is maintained in the prison of objectification and her worth set by superficial conceptions of beauty–international unity and peace, and economic prosperity, will remain beyond the grasp of human achievement.  The uniting power of a more compassionate and intuitive nature  can alone overcome the divisive culture inculcated by men in the war-obsessed system of nation-states.

It is the result of a soul-stirring Revelation that man has come to know and appreciate the value of women in this day and age. Truly, if it were not for the spiritual impetus yielded unto our primitive species, centuries and millenia would have surpassed us before the reality of the sanctity of the female form and the integral function performed by united families in matters of political peace, the prosperity of economies, and our cultural tastes was ultimately realized.

Much emphasis is placed on growing humankind’s economies. Few recognize, however, that social issues of a spiritual and humanitarian nature are the limiting denominator in most of these dilemmas. Fifty One percent of humankind’s workforce is cruelly mistreated and deprived of their brilliant intellectual and physical potential–which they could have contributed to the tasks of rebuilding the global economy, nurturing its social and cultural development, and organizing its international politics so as to lead us away from intractable violence.

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womenliftglobaleconomy

 

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Categories
- Equality of Women and Men - Governance - Oppression - Primary Care - Religion Discourse Health Care Justice

The World of Man: The Rape of Women

“…Should anyone deliberately take another’s life, him also shall ye put to death…”

The world of man is a terrifying place. A world constructed on violent notions of masculinity. A world where power is the only rule, and law is secondary to what can be taken by force. In today’s society, man’s confidence is proportional to his capacity to accomplish what he wants devoid of co-workers’ approval, against economic obstacles, and by the exercise of his own aggression. Society bows to corporate, monetary, physical, social, and sexual might. This rule by masculine power – its political, social, institutional, and cultural apparatus – is known as the “patriarchy,” to feminist scholars.

Our political world remains in the grip of its own insecurities of phallic inadequacy: each actor on the world stage determined to substantiate claims to tyrant fertility by means of their tank size and number of infantry and nuclear missiles commanded. International relations have been governed by men challenged by their own fear of infertility and lack of procreative capital for too long. Our world has gone to war over power-obsessed men unfit to carry workman’s hammers, let alone their own god-given equipment. Let it be known to all who command armies, allow widows to raise their husbands children fatherless – to all who carry a gun – it does not matter that your 2nd amendment allows you to compensate for your phallic inadequacy – you do not have the right to kill what God has Himself raised up!

The dominant relationship of men over women in the home, born of inadequacy and fear of being undermined by a biologically inferior specimen, has carried over into those men’s professional lives, and in the case of international relations, has written the political history of the world in blood. So long as we view physical might as the measure of social and familial right, the world will rot from the core outward. Family is the fundamental unit of social existence. It is precisely the personalities of men who spend their nights womanizing in Washington, in whom our decisions to wage war with foreign powers lies. And it is in the corrupt characters of these same slick cheaters-on-their-wives that the decision to allocate funding to the military-industrial complex versus education resides. A man who cheats on his wife, and thereby betrays his family, cannot prioritize the education of his own or anyone else’s children over the deafening cry of his own phallic insecurities  – no matter how his slickly whitened teeth present a tranquil demeanor before the 7 O’clock news cameras. It is these insecure facades of men (unworthy to bear the name) who appear as the face of the nation, and it is these influential, wealthy, and well-dressed manipulators who set the values that dictate our tax dollars spending allocations. It is these same power-mongers and their sojourn in privilege that has protected similarly-positioned potentates since the dawn of time from the justice of the rights of the masses.

The voice of the oppressed will no longer be silenced on the issues of global justice, and the clamor for the New World Order will no longer succumb to exhortations for patience and resignation. Our destiny is now; the Promised Day is come! The lives of those 6 men in India who committed rape-homicide will be snatched out from within them, quickly, publicly, and shamefully. The victim of rape-homicide died of overwhelming sepsis several days after the episode. If her assailants were trans-genitally disemboweled (as the victim was) and allowed to expire from septic shock – it would not be unjust. Law has to be expanded to include punishments commensurate to the heinousness of the crimes committed. Arson-murder produces fortunate victims who perish from smoke-inhalation, and unfortunate victims who endure weeks of superficial skin-site infections before succumbing to global sepsis and organ failure. Arson-murder should be punishable by death from burning. Rape-homicide should be punished capitally. The execution of these “men” in New Delhi should be publicized as both justice for the criminals and as deterrents for others who have yet to learn the rights and sacredness of women and girls. Faces, names, families, and final moments should be made publicly available and popularized. The shame and hate, the wrath and indignation of the world of humankind should be made to bear upon the psyches of these criminals – until the fear of God and the terror of humankind’s justice – both – are inculcated in their minds and in those of all men and boys like them, until all would-be exploiters of the privileges of patriarchy recognize now and forever: that the world of man and the world of his mother, his sister, his daughter – in short: the world of woman – will not stand for this type of treatment.

“…Should anyone intentionally destroy a house by fire, him also shall ye burn…”

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Veiled Woman Praying

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Categories
- Consultation - Education - Empowerment - Oppression Discourse Justice Knowledge

Education and Liberation

Some people think education is an act of depositing facts, in which the students are the receptacle and the teacher is the banker. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues lectures and makes deposits which the students receive and memorize. This “banking” concept of education, allows the students only to receive, file, and store facts told to them. In the final analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and true knowledge in this misguided pedagogy. The reality of man is his thoughts. Devoid of inquiry, apart from the exercise of generating knowledge, individuals cannot be truly human. True knowledge emerges only through invention: a restless, impatient, hopeful inquiry which human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who are “knowledgeable” upon those who “know nothing”. Projecting ignorance onto students actually negates true education because this arises through agency and inquiry.

Education must begin with the resolution of the teacher-student dichotomy, so that both are recognized as simultaneously teachers and students. They are simultaneously co-creators of knowledge and collaborators walking a path of discovery. The banking concept of education regards humans as manipulable, submissive objects. Students fail to develop the critical consciousness of intervention as transformers of the world. Passively, they adapt to the world handed to them, and to the fragmented view of reality it describes. Fragmentation of the mind and not coherence is engendered by the banking conception of education.

To annul the creative power of the students and to inculcate their submissiveness serves the interests of those in power, who do not wish to see the world transformed. The state of the world as it is, is profitable unto them. Charity and “humanitarianism” are held up to pacify the people and preserve a profitable situation. Education must foster critical faculties unsatisfied with a partial perspective of reality – minds that always seek out the connections which link one fact to another and one reality to all the rest. Fragmentation weakens the mind of the slave class upon whose backs the profits of the privileged depend. The interests of the privileged lie in changing the consciousness of the underprivileged – not the situation which oppresses them. To achieve this end, the privileged use the banking concept of education.

The underprivileged are considered marginal outsiders, and deviants from the norm of prosperity and justice inculcated by the social order. As the excrement, or pathology, of a healthy society such outliers receive the stigma of “incompetent and lazy” folk. This stigma is used to justify a situation in which the disenfranchised are maintained quiescently in the social order doing the jobs and occupying the social rank that no one else would willingly accept. The banking concept of education avoids the threat of mass increases in spiritual consciousness, prevents unity of thought, and obviates activism toward wide-scale social reform.

The banking concept of education never proposes to students that they critically consider reality. It will deal instead with memorization as the vital question, and insist upon the importance of submissiveness and compliance as the measure of grading and evaluation. The “constructiveness” and “benefit” of (banking) education masks the effort to turn women and men into automatons. Many of those who use the banking approach, do so unknowingly, for there are innumerable well-intentioned teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize their students.

The true educator must from the outset make efforts which coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual good. His or her efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in the majority of students and their creative intellectual powers. To achieve this, “teachers” must be partners of the students in their classrooms.

Grammar memorization, reading assignments, standardized testing, the hierarchy between teacher and student, and the criteria for teacher promotion: everything in this cookie-cutter approach serves to obviate thinking and boycott actualization of intellectual potential. The bank-clerk educator does not realize that there is no epistemic authority in his paid position as teacher: knowledge is not already known; it needs to be created. Teacher-student solidarity requires honest, respectful communication. Only through dialogical engagement can pedagogical, institutional, or community life find meaning. The teacher’s thinking is validated only by the authenticity of the students thinking. The teacher cannot think for his students, nor can he impose his thoughts on them. Thought has meaning only when generated by action upon the world.

Banking education begins with a false understanding of men and women as objects. Instead of “biophilia,” it promotes “necrophilia.” Life is characterized by growth in an organic, functional manner. Necrophilia loves all that does not grow, is mechanical, and stale. Memory rather than experience; subservience other than agency; owning rather than manifesting, is what counts. The necrophiliac loves control, and in the act of controlling kills life. The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is necrophilia. Based on a mechanistic, static, naturalistic view of consciousness, it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads women and men to submit to the world, and inhibits their creative power. When their efforts to act creatively are frustrated, people find themselves unable to use their faculties. This impotence leads to suffering.

We must abandon the banking method of education and replace it with the posing of problems relevant to human beings in their relations with the world. “Problem-posing” education, responds to the essence of consciousness: intentionality. “Problem-posing” education avoids lecturing and embodies honest communication. It epitomizes the method of consultative reflection. It is a pedagogy in which known facts are intermediates between people in their mutual quest for new knowledge. Known facts are not — indeed cannot be — the end in itself. Dialogical relations empower people’s capacity for cooperation in perceiving insights into knowledge and generating its further extensions.

The teacher becomes the convener of the class and the provider of prodding questions. With the students, he becomes jointly responsible for a process in which all generate knowledge. His authority must be on the side of freedom of thought, not against it. No bank-clerk teacher teaches, and no bank-account-student is self-taught. People research together, mediated by the world, using cognizable objects available to all in wikipedia, in textbooks, and on the internet. The teacher does not regard known facts as his private property, but as the object of reflection for himself and the students in their quest for mutual human betterment. In this way, the problem-posing educator constantly re-forms his reflections in light of the reflections of his students. The students—no longer docile listeners—are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher to find a solution to new human problems. The teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration, and re-considers her earlier considerations as the students express their own. The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge is most effectively, and energetically generated. Problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves and their world, feel increasingly challenged and motivated to respond to the inquiry. The challenge is interrelated to other problems within a holistic context, not as an isolated theoretical question. The resultant comprehension tends to increase total consciousness. The students conclusions to the challenge evokes new quandaries, followed by new investigations; and gradually the students become committed to a life of insatiable learning.

The “problem-solving” model of education is a practice of freedom—as opposed to the banking model of education which is a practice of domination. Through fragmentation, robbed of their minds, there is nothing to unite people in resistance to the exploitation of the powerful. The new liberatory pedagogy denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world. The world does not exist as a reality apart from man either, however. Consciousness neither precedes the world nor passively follows from it. They dance together the path of life.


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Brain Power

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Categories
Discourse Health Care Justice Oneness

Don’t Regulate Guns: Arm the Children!

Fire arms enable tragedy in a way that no other technology does. Where guns are absent, tragedies and destruction are less. Where people possess fire arms, homicide,  suicide, and mass shootings are more prevalent. Why do we need guns? We don’t. We enjoy guns for recreational purposes. What about defense? Possession of a fire arm does not deter other people from shooting you. Self-restraint isn’t inculcated by fear of retaliation. Rational foresight isn’t a strong suit of the violent. What about the 2nd amendment? The freedom to bear arms applied to (a) musket technology of the 1700’s, and (b) farmers who resisted government occupation by force. Muskets fire few shots per minute. Modern hand guns and semi-automatic machine guns were not envisioned by the founding fathers. Who today would seriously entertain the idea that guns help deter wrong deeds committed by the government? The government could commit a host of financial fraud in league with wall street to rob a majority of american home-owners of their pensions, and there’s nothing that guns would do about it. The government is tyrannical in its corruption to corporate tycoons and NRA lobbyists, but guns ironically aren’t the solution to that: they’re the result. Modern governments are tyrannical in a non-military fashion; therefore owning weapons isn’t the solution. A discourse on the influence of finances in congress would do more good. The 2nd amendment is outdated. Society evolves; so should the constitution. Civil servants should have to make a sacrifice to hold their office to ensure their incentive is strictly the common good. Total personal income for congressmen should be capped by the IRS at a modest quantity to flush out those who seek public office for personal gain. Lobbyists would lose interest and general welfare would be the only motive left for congressmen. To serve civil society is a responsibility and a sacrifice, not an accomplishment and a lottery ticket. Periodic massacre’s are not the price of freedom, but the outgrowth of anarchy.

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Olivia Engel

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Categories
- Empowerment Discourse Justice Knowledge

Kings

Disproportionate access to education and employment opportunities for a privileged minority deprives society of the labor and intellectual potential of the masses. From among the privileged, certain members may seek to join the struggle for social transformation towards a more just world order. Historically, what has been the role of defectors from privileged classes who seek to join the masses in a people’s revolution?

A nobleman and knight, Sir Florian Geyer (pictured), fought for peasant liberation in the German Peasants War of 1524. Won over to their cause by a sense of justice, Geyer’s “Black Band” was uniquely capable of combating heavy cavalry from the aristocratic opposition, executing lords and priests, and liberating thousands of peasants. Mistrusting an aristocrat, the peasant army made him a chief adviser instead of a general. Ironically, Geyer was assassinated by peasants loyal to the aristocracy in summer, 1525.

Existentially, these people pose unique risks and special opportunities as they move from one pole of the privileged-oppressed dichotomy to the other, without necessarily transcending it. As exploiters of the masses, heirs of oppressive fortunes, or passive spectators of inequality, when such individuals take up the cause of social transformation, they bring with them their capacities as well as their biases.

Pitfalls of privilege include a lack of confidence in the peoples’ ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the cause of social transformation constantly run the risk of offering material generosity to their compatriots which is as disempowering and destructive to the self-esteem of the movement as the system of charity institutionalized by the status quo. The charity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be perpetuated in order to concentrate wealth amidst the privileged class, necessitating in turn these acts of oppressive charity. The power dynamic is concealed behind the washing of the oppressor-conscience and the legitimization of the economic order, by such charity.

Converts to the people’s cause, even those that truly desire to transform the unjust order, because of their upbringing believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. Their self-assurance stamps out the budding aspirations of the newly empowered. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the surest prerequisite to universal participation and social reform. A champion of social justice can be identified more by his genuine trust in the people, which draws him into identity with their plight, than by a thousand actions on their behalf devoid of that trust.

Those who commit themselves to the cause of social justice must re-examine themselves constantly for that ego that creeps incessantly and imperceptibly. Bringing themselves to account each day in regards to their inner thoughts towards their fellow collaborators will guard against it. This conversion is unspeakably difficult, and does not admit of ambiguous behavior. To affirm this commitment but to consider oneself the proprietor of the knowledge of the dynamics of change—which must then be explained to (or imposed upon) the people—is to retain the posture of the paternalistic status quo.

The man or woman who proclaims devotion to the cause of justice yet is unable to enter into socio-economic equality with the people, whom he or she continues to regard as ignorant, is self-deceived and eventually may be a traitor. The convert who approaches the cause of social transformation but feels cautious with each step they take, often expressing doubts about success, and whose suggestions are accompanied by attempts to impose his or her “status” remains nostalgic towards their powerful origins.

Being drawn into the life of the masses requires a profound reorientation, burning the selfishness born of materialism. Those who undergo this personal transformation must take on a new state of mind; they can no longer remain as they were. Only through unity with the oppressed can the new converts truly understand the culture and aspirations of the grass-roots, their beauty and legitimacy, which in diverse ways reflect the structure of domina­tion.

So it is that a person born into privilege becomes solidary with the oppressed. He finds true love and marries a local girl, learns the native customs and cultures, adopts the language and dress, cooks the food, and reverences the wisdom of elders. Historically, Buddha, Moses and Baha’u’llah, were raised in noble families but discarded their titles and privilege for the Cause and Faith they proclaimed, and entered into complete solidarity with the masses. The nascent community that emerged had its own structure with egalitarian principles and institutions. This is the embryo of a New World Order.

Categories
- Education - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions Human Nature Justice Power

Economic Mirages

Disproportionate access to nutritious diets, quality housing, industry-recognized education, employment opportunities, and healthcare services would not in itself sow the seeds of rebellion were it not for the possessiveness of the privileged over their resources. Selfishness towards privilege is engendered through  fear of having to share what one possesses. An individual’s right to private property has been scapegoated to obscure a cultural obsession with commodification, and a philosophy that reduces human reality to an uninhabited marketplace. “Pure capitalism” and “Laissez-faire” market are coinages held up to prevent wide-spread questioning of the merits of “economic growth” as the purpose of social life. The view that reality is an exchange of commodities on a social marketplace reduces human relations to products, capital, and profits in a mutually exploitative fashion and has been mistaken for a substantive claim to self-identity by some in the 21st century. A debasing culture, value-system, and worldview has become pervasive. This world view objectifies every element of its surroundings into an object for domination, exploitation, and profit, be it earth, property, product, or people themselves. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand of the market” is as unreal today as it has been impotent historically. Children refuse to accept tales of invisible saviors, why have grown women and statesmen fallen for such costly fairy tales? Theories that scarcely applied to a time when international industries, sophisticated financing, and advertising propaganda were absent, cannot be seriously relied upon for guiding today’s economy.

Limitless consumption is a right, some aver, earned through individual “effort” and the courage to endure economic “risk”. If others lack commodities, it is simply because they are lazy and cowardly. But what does access to education and employment opportunities have to do with effort and entrepreneurial courage? The truth of the matter is that the poor work much harder and with much more resourcefulness than the rich on average. Of course those with superior access and opportunity do not perceive their advantage as having issued from a type of privilege which excludes and denigrates others. More surprisingly, they do not perceive how institutional complacency with this injustice numbers them historically as backwards, ignominious and primitive. How will posterity evaluate the empathy, nobility, and vision of our privileged generation? Unabashed before the specter of their own selfishness, they resort to passivity behind the laws of the status quo that safeguard and drag their feet to create inequality. Material things contain a fire within them. Hoarders suffocate within their smoldering homes. Agency is forfeited. Humans become slaves to possessions. Desire is an inglorious master.

A habit of the mind gone voracious, the insatiable hoarders of commodities become afflicted with the conviction that they can transform everything into objects of their purchasing power. Hence their strictly materialistic conception of reality. A vapid conviction that deprives reality, economic and social , of its intrinsic meaning. Money is the measure of all things, and profit the primary goal. Whereas the opposite should be true: price determines value. The consciousness, now neurotic, feels that what is worthwhile is to have more—always more. Especially to be halted are those ingrates who may steal priceless technologies to barter in exchange for their daily bread. Laws must be enacted – to protect “private property”. And yet, the argument has already become deranged once it is cast in terms of private property or the struggle to justify or redeem it. Private property is a right. That is irrelevant  This is rather a question of oppression, not rights. Oppression is not a right. Exploitation is not a right. Slavery is not a right. Calling these things pure capitalism, lassaiz-faire, or private property does not change their moral nature. Inequalities of access and opportunity do not allow people to work for their own betterment or for that of the community. This is not justice.

The status quo is protected by law and maintained by the institutionalization of inequality. To call for justice amounts to a call for institutional reform. Institutions legislate laws, educate police forces, and mechanize a system of coercing and normalizing the inequality. When caught between his own dignity and the steel of the system, a young worker becomes devitalized, made complacent, and in-animated. He becomes inanimate before the eyes of the law as well as the benefactors of that system that created both his crime and engineered the low estate that forced him into it. The power to devitalize, the specialty of the privileged class, is completely consistent with the ideology of commodification. Inanimate objects are naturally more possessable and manipulable. Psychologically, the drive to possess, and in possessing, to devitalize, is akin to the psychiatric diagnosis of sadism. Sadism is the derivation of pleasure from the domination and objectification of a sentient life form. Sadism therefore is a love of death, since in objectifying and dominating we deprive a life of its inalienable quality – freedom. Love of power, is the source of all evil, and a perversion of human drives. Privatization of possessions is not a path which must lead to the deification of commodities, the rise of consumerism, and the psychological obsession with domination and sadism. This path leads towards a cultural love of death. Therefore, it is necrophilia. Dead men, oppressed objects of the perpetuated system of inequality under which they patiently languish, are owned by the plutocratic minority, lacking any purpose except what is prescribed unto them by their privileged masters.

Categories
- Consultation - Education - Empowerment - Governance - Religion Development Discourse Justice Knowledge Power

Spiritual Re-Education and the Power of the Masses

In discourse, thought, reflection and action are intimately interdependent.  Action is coherent only when it is not merely rote but also consultative, that is, when it is not dichotomized from reflection. Reflection, which is essential to action, is implicit in the requirement of explaining to the masses their own action, just as it is implicit in the purpose we attribute to consciously activating the subsequent development of experience.

For us, however, the requirement is seen not in terms of explaining to, but rather dialoguing with the people about their actions.  In any event, no reality transforms itself, and the duty which we ascribe to responsible citizens of explaining to the masses their own action coincides with our affirmation of the need for the critical intervention of the people in reality through praxis.

The democratization of discourse, which is the spiritual re-education of people engaged in the fight for a just world order, has its roots here. And those who recognize, or begin to recognize, themselves as bearing the responsibility to contribute to this transformation must be among the developers of this new education. No world order which is truly just can remain distant from the masses by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the privileged. The masses must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.

The establishment of a just world order, animated by authentic, altruistic generosity, presents itself as a spiritual re-education of humankind. Values which begin with the egoistic interests of the privileged (an egoism cloaked in the false generosity of paternalism) and makes of the masses the objects of its humanitarianism, itself maintains and embodies injustice. It is an instrument of injustice.

This is why, as we affirmed earlier, the betterment of mankind cannot be developed or practiced by a wealthy minority fixated on 3rd world development. It would be a contradiction in terms for the privileged few to not only defend but actually implement a spiritual revolution. But if the implementation of a new type of spiritual education requires political power and the masses have none, how then is it possible to carry out the re-education of the world without a spiritual revolution?

This is a question of the greatest importance, the reply to which is at least tentatively underway in the system of distance education propounded by the Ruhi Institute. One aspect of the reply is to be found in the distinction between governmental education, which can only be changed by political power, and educational processes, which should be carried out with the masses in the process of organizing them.

Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of My commandments.

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Religion Discourse

Summary of 14 November Message

Paragraph#:

1. Learning sites and associated clusters (31 in total) contain half the current junior youth groups and participants.

2. Universal youth response to serve as animators. Ruhi 5 releases reservoirs of commitment to social change. Program expands beyond resources within Baha’i community.

3. Benefits of JYSEP in junior youth: Power of expression, spiritual perception, developing capacity for service, shape praiseworthy character. Educational process and growth program benefit from JYSEP. Learning about  increasing and deploying resources, raising capacity in cohorts, coordination, and multiplication of core activities.

4.  Two broad goals – 1) accelerating progress in clusters with programs of growth.  2) finding individuals to carry this approach to hundreds other clusters.  Number of learning sites in North America to rise to 7, and associated clusters to 70.

5. Endeavors grounded in experience from clusters at the frontiers of learning will enable assembly to achieve objectives of current Plan

Department of the Secretariat

14 November 2012

JYSEP = Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program

Categories
- Education - Empowerment - Governance - Oppression Development Justice Oneness

Empowerment, Oppression, and Social Order

Extreme socio-economic inequalities of access and opportunity result in privileged vs. oppressed classes. The oppressed, over time, adapt to the structure of domination under which generations languish and become resigned to it. The status quo of the social order is maintained by coercive deterrents and castigating norms. Fear of freedom inhibits the underprivileged from waging a struggle for reform. The task of forging alternatives to the social order requires the rejection of a submissive social role and the adoption of prescriptive autonomy and larger community responsibility. The oppressed, having internalized the image given them by their oppressor accept a self-conception of individualism and dependence prescribed by the social order.

Prescription is the process by which one ideology’s value-allocations are injected into other individuals and communities, transforming the consciousness of persons prescribed to in conformity with the ideals of the oppressor. The behavior of the oppressed follows the guidelines set by the social order. The mindset which afflicts the oppressed will persist until they achieve a self-conception that holds them capable of running the risks of equality. Increasing capacity leads to this state of empowerment.

The oppressed suffer from a duality which has established itself in their self-conception. Without equal opportunities and access they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic existence, they fear its responsibilities. They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose social norms they have internalized.

Suppose some among the disadvantaged sought to alter the course of history, to change the social order, and to eliminate the sources of unequal access to social and economic capital. Their struggle for reform threatens not only the social order, but also their own oppressed neighbors who are fearful of still greater extremes of inequality, and indeed punitive measures that loom unspoken above their fragile lives. When they discover within themselves the yearning to be equal and united, they perceive that this yearning can be transformed into reality only when the same indignation is aroused in a critical mass of believers, volunteers, and supporters. While dominated by the fear of freedom they think themselves incapable of teaching or appealing to others, or to listen to the discourse of worthy causes, or even to the pangs originating from within their own consciences. The social order subdues the will to fight with the incessant whisper: “don’t stand out, don’t resist the flow, don’t oppose the flow of the norm.” As a result, the oppressed prefer gregariousness to authentic unity; they prefer the security of conformity to the creative enterprise produced by equality; they prefer boring subsistence over the dangers of ruffled feathers during the activism of social change.

The oppressors are also incentivized to maintain the social order as it exists, for it represents the source and foundation of their inordinate privilege. Although they may donate charitable contributions to the oppressed class they can never instigate revolution, not because they are unwilling, but because their soul’s lack the spirit of selflessness that suffering engenders. They give a pittance of charity to redeem their guilty conscience of the disproportionate gain they enjoy unearned, and squander indulgently. In order to maintain the flow of their conscience-clearing donations to charity, the oppressors require the perpetuation of the system of injustice, upon which their disproportionate privilege depends. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of their false generosity, which is nourished by popular squalor, poverty, and global despair.

Enduring change to the social order, ironically, consists in fighting to eliminate the causes which make charity possible. It is the good conscience of the oppressive social order that stifles the will to change, and drinks thirstily the nectar of complacency that only the fount of pride could furnish. Charity is the origin of that clean conscience.

Charity induces the disadvantaged and subdued masses to extend their trembling hands in supplication before the power and wealth of the socially successful. It is not in supplication but in co-equal creator-ship that these hands become worthy hands, belonging to valuable peoples, and creators of peace and prosperity for all. True generosity lies in striving so that men’s hands need not be extended any longer in supplication, but become increasingly the hands of creators which when raised up, embody the confidence of empowered hands. With a definite sense of power and increasing skill these hands transform our world and revolutionize the human condition.

Categories
- Governance Development Justice Oneness Power

Unity, Communism, and Change: The Principle, the Boogie-Man, and the Future

Today it seems that the message for change is articulated by people who believe in the unity of races, equality of genders, and institutional intervention on behalf of social and economic justice. These people also hold that the unity of mankind is a valuable principle. Alternative views originate from camps where self-reliance, individualism, and the centrality of ownership over risk and productivity is central to economic growth. These two camps are not necessarily opposing, although they set themselves up in a way to compete in a zero-sum situation, mutually excluding each other from voters allegiance, and financial and ideological support. There may be principles of merit at the heart of both camps, however the conflict appears to be designedly partisan, ideologically embodying the structure of conflict. They equate success with the failure of the opposing camp. As such, unity and consensus cannot be built.

The association of change and progress with unity and inclusiveness has not always existed. Progress has become increasingly linked with unity in popular discourse. However, the language of unity recalls certain associations with historical precedents. Certain movements invoked similar justifications for tyrannical processes in the past, such as the emphasis of national unity under communism in the USSR. This recalls tragic associations with 10 million deaths and relocations in genocides under Stalin.

Progressivism is associated with the political left, and conservativism with the political right. Leftism is associated with unity as a principle because of the language employed historically in communism. The right is associated with individualism, which it regards as the driver of economic activity. The right regards laissez faire markets as the source of economic prosperity. Whatever the etiology, the right has come to be associated with capitalism, and the left with communism. The division has been made highly controversial by manipulating public perceptions, reducing the discussion oftentimes to caricatures. The current matrix of associations is as follows:

The LEFT:
Economic theory: communism
Social theory: unity and equality
Direction: progressive

The RIGHT:
Economic theory: capitalism
Social theory: individualism
Direction: conservative

What is the origin of the association between the principle of human unity and communist economic systems? Why has a moral principle become bound up in political lingo and public perception with something so destructive and so outdated as communism? The largest and most well-remembered historical example of communism’s practical failures was Soviet Russia and the cold war arms race. In American perception, the USSR was demonized and held to be an ideological antithesis to the United States of America. But is this association between communism and an appeal for greater unity so tight knit? Moreover, is the fear of communism and all things related to it rational or even useful for our society? More specifically, does the principle of human unity imply communist economic practices?

First we will have to identify the elements of communist economics that led to its failure. Second we will have to look at the principle of human unity and identify its elements, moral appeal, and its implications. Finally we will look at these two, and determine if there exists any essential overlap that confounds the language of human unity with the knee-jerk reaction against communism. We will show that the aforementioned association is partly the result of historical experiences, irrational fear, and prejudices of language; we will also show that the principle of the unity of humankind is good, sound, and moral; and we will conclude by demonstrating that there is no essential connection between the economic system of communism and the moral appeal of the principle of oneness.

According to Karl Marx, when left to their own devices, power structures within free markets will set up systems that normalize a culture of exploitation of the masses of common laborers. Without a medium for expression of their wants and without voice to their needs, the proletariat, as they were called, would feel progressively dissatisfied. The discontent of the masses would well up into revolution eventually which would shift the balance of power in favor of the working class with the instatement of a communist government. This analysis also produced the categories of class theory that saw the organizers of the system of exploitation as a rich, powerful, minority that enjoyed disproportionate privilege. Whilst the working class was constituted of a poor, hard-working, majority that suffered in silent determination until the advent of revolution.

Whilst communism has multiple elements, the economic theory is of greatest concern here. One of the tenets of a communist economics is the absence of private property and ownership and that the means of production and subsistence belong to the community as a whole. So, communism believes that people should not be allowed to own things, and that the resources funneled into industry as well as the products of work belong to the society as a whole to be distributed as it sees fit for the satisfaction of its subject’s needs. These tenets can summarized as follows:

1) No private property

2) Resources and Products belong to the community

Although it is not entirely obvious that these are bad ideals as stated, it does pan out to be the case that societies do not prosper with the implementation of communist economic theory and these beliefs. No one has to remind the west of the dangers of communist economic practices, and with the evidence of history at our disposal in the 21st century, not many entertain the idea that communism in its pure ideology is tenable as a model of governance in economic spheres. Notable cases of the collapse of the Soviet Union testify to this fact, and the reality that the People’s Republic of China has actually prospered in recent times due to its distancing itself from communist economic regulations, and the implementation of a de facto free-market system under a nominally communist government, has led to widespread acceptance that pure communist economic theory is not a practical possibility.

Finally, we note that the episode of McCarthyism in the United States in the 1950’s roused public fears and prejudices to a level of irrationality and hysteria. As a result, communism ceased to occupy a rational pole in public considerations of governmental and economic options available, and started to become a weapon of defamation commensurate to a culture of witch hunting, demon-exercising, or other superstitions. The combination of these influences produced the current psychological milieu, in which it may be difficult for the public to speak or think rationally on topics that have a historical association with something so tragic and devastating in the collective national memory.

It is important to differentiate communist economic systems, from the benefits of the principle of the oneness of humankind, which it is the position of this forum, constitutes the single most important factor in the realization of world peace, global security, and future prosperity for the species. The principle of the oneness of humankind is no outburst of ignorant emotionalism or a vague hope, it is not even just a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and charity among humans. It determines the nature of the structures and relationships that bind institutions within states, policies to people, and nations into members of a single human family. It is not merely an ideal. Institutions are responsible and committed to the task of spreading its message, and embodying its truth. It cannot engender a mechanical change in society, but a natural and organic one. It challenges old belief systems, that inculcate or encourage a loyalty to smaller or outdated sects, and challenges all values to recognize the infinite authority of the value of the entire human family.

The principle of the oneness of mankind necessitates the demilitarization of the globe, as large militaries have been one of the most crucial elements enabling divisiveness, disparities, and war. We require a unified planetary model that melds our political machinery into a single global federation of nation-states, with a representative parliament, and a single global executive branch.

Unity must materialize in our spiritual aspirations, our trade and finance systems, and our script and language. Nevertheless, we must safeguard the local cultures and diversity of national and regional heritage. This is similar to how a human body centralizes control over many functions through the operation of the central nervous system, but also relegates certain functionaries to local administration and entrusts certain decision-making to regional nervous circuits or even paracellular communication. Unity in a planetary federation does not therefore imply uniformity any more than national federalism (vis. the USA) implies destruction of state distinctiveness or regional rights and cultures.

Human unity represents the consummation of our evolution that began with the birth of family life, subsequent development of tribal solidarity, leading to construction of the city-state, coming to rest finally in the system of sovereign nation-states that we have today. As you can see the circle of unity has been expanding continuously over humanity’s long history from the caveman to the space-station, and our final stage of evolution is now imminent: global unity. This final stage is necessary, inevitable, and soon at hand.

To meld so many disparate factions into a cohesive unity will require another impetus from that Source that has impelled the evolution of our species through all of its successive stages into greater circles of unity throughout the past. It is prophesied in religious scriptures and tribal faiths as well. A gradual diffusion of the spirit of world solidarity is arising out of the chaos on the internet, in the financial system, in health scares, in tourism and travel, in international trade and debt, in sports and culture, and in charity and development work.

Human unity increasingly captures the attention of the leaders and presidents of nations. Only selfish and backwards forms of nationalism would regard the call to international unity as a threat to the power and resources of the national government. Just as colonial powers resisted the inevitable rise of national sovereignty for the sake of selfish power, so too will national powers resist the rise of a global unity that stands equally inevitable and equally beneficial to the interests of the people and the governments. Absolute autonomy of the arm is no special boon when the brain is willing and able to coordinate whole-body motion.

The fierce opposition which greeted the Geneva Protocol, the proposal for a United States of Europe, and the restriction of President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points into a smaller version, the League of Nations, all rank as among the prejudices faced by the forces of global unity at the hands of national power-mongering. Nevertheless the testimony of the prosperity of the United States of America with its system of federalism represents a credible and persuasive guide for the future of our world when it overcomes its prejudices against planetary society. Indeed, the United Nations demonstrate a significant advance in this direction, with some well-known shortcomings that illustrate the importance of more powerful and less nominal government structures at the global level.

The establishment of the European Union has taken steps in securing the monetary unity of that continent, however we still see the challenges associated with surgically enacting monetary unity in the absence of greater fiscal unity, vis. the current debt crisis in Greece. With Greece wanting to maintain its own national sovereignty in the context of increasing debt, their eventual fiscal merger with the rest of Europe is inevitable. As it is now, without fiscal unity, Greece maintains its control over fiscal budget setting. This sets the stage for increasing debt because they are not able to manipulate their currency, now the Euro (set by central European control) in response to economic shortages. This predicament will continue, and will worsen, until Greece and other countries like it are forced to sacrifice their national sovereignty in favor of continental governance. European control has already begun asserting Greek civil servants must comply with austerity measures before further loans from the European Union will be granted. The signs of centralized european government are already therefore being demonstrated. Inevitably, Europe is heading toward both monetary and fiscal unity – A reliable guide to the economic future of our planet.

Trouble and travail meld the warring factions of the world into a single united homeland. Stirring struggles and fierce controversies that forged the unity of the United States, are liable to play themselves out on the world stage to forge a global unity that will endure as long as mankind itself.

Categories
- Governance Discourse Justice Oneness

America’s 1912 Election

One hundred years ago today, a sixty-six year old traveler from the East, an exile and prisoner since the age of nine, with no formal education, in broken and failing health, having never faced a public audience, and unfamiliar with the customs and language of the West, gave a talk at Grand Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio, en route to the capital of the United States.  He was ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  It was election day.

That particular election was unique.  The three competitors are now all called by the same name “President”, for on the ballot was the incumbent President, a former President, and the newly elected President.  This was the first time all the 48 continuous states participated.  That day seemed to embody unity.

‘Abdu’l-Baha, in the course of this nearly three-year historic journey to Egypt, Europe, and North America, before audiences large and small, brilliantly expounded principles – the spirit of the age – that are imperative for humankind’s imminent transition to maturity.  The independent search for truth, the oneness of the entire human race, the unity of all religions, the condemnation of all prejudice, the harmony of science and religion, the equality of men and women, abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty, justice as the ruling principle of social organization, and universal peace as humanity’s goal, to name a few, were proclaimed in every social space, from homes, churches, parks, and railway cars, to universities, societies, halls, and public squares.  None were excluded.  The working poor, scientists and statesmen, children, refugees, clergy and skeptics, all benefited from a wisdom and love that was uncompromising in defense of truth yet elevating and gentle in manner.  Still today, millions are galvanized by such a matchless example of words and deeds that transformed hearts and expanded consciousness.

Election day a century ago, ‘Abdu’l-Baha praised the efforts of then-President Taft for rendering services towards the cause of peace, and noted that peace was constantly a topic of discourse in this country.  Taft had made treaties with various nations, and while this was good, the talk urged a higher level of peace – one that moves past cooperation within the current fetish of the social convention of nation-state sovereignty, one that embraces the beckoning world commonwealth, putting into social structure and political machinery the truth of the oneness of humanity.

America is destined to lead the world in the cause of peace, in spiritual civilization.  The challenge will not be easy or swift, and it is one that includes every member of the human race.  Society is formed from conceptions – these thoughts are shaped by conversation.  President Wilson, who was elected that day in 1912, incorporated these spirit-of-the-age principles into a noble peace program aimed at the well-being of all.  How can we apply, elevate, and spread the discourse of the oneness of humankind?

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Categories
- Consultation - Education - Governance - Language Human Nature

Shadows of the Mind: Disorganized Activism, Conducive to Change?

Decades have come and gone and our busy lives, cluttered with diverse daily drives and enjoyments, have advanced in age, irreparable choices have been made, courses set, and moral decisions cast in the stone of opportunity cost. Billions have come before us and billions beyond, all have passed into the annals of history, and been forgotten by the onward march of time.

The abyss of oblivion now beckons to our scrumptious generation, morsels for its dinner. Not many with good intentions have been seen on the world stage; albeit works of charity and small acts of kindness are as prevalent as the annual holiday season – but  structurally, not much has changed. A collective will that is able to revolutionize the structure of society and apply new values to its educational, operational, military, economic, and cultural aspirations has not emerged.

The failure belongs to us all, as much as it does to any individual, institution, or activist community. Faith in a number of established principles has waned from public consciousness. With lack of faith in these values, and the will to apply them, it is not easy to conceive a remedy for society’s spiral.

Many people speak of their ideals of improving society, but without the will to plan for the future how will this good intention produce any result? Without organization for the widespread application of intelligence, foresight, evidence-based strategy, and the will endure what is necessary to arrive at the desired result, of what use are all “good intentions”? The touchstone of intention, is the ability to learn from mistakes, not just to reapply the same failed systems and ideas to current problems.

Society has inculcated a system that places economic activity at the center of social existence, that deifies the market, that worships monetary wealth, that promotes cutthroat and deceitful business practices, that is protected by a system of legality that is equally divorced from morality as it is profitable to ruthless corporate-legal machines.

We have abandoned our children and the future generation to teachers less qualified, less compensated, and less equipped to discharge their duties than the sacred task of education requires them to be. The educational system is outdated, ineffective  and trains people to be a receptacle of knowledge, not active participants in their own learning process. This reflects our collective disregard for the importance of education. Lip service is no substitute. Where society places its wallet, is where you find what it believes in, what it values.

We have relegated intelligent problems that is the substance of climate change and discourses of global importance to the realm of political talking points, and corporate manipulation. When justice is dethroned, and intelligence is mocked as a partisan ploy, there you see the dangers of corruption in politics. Individuals cannot combat institutional corruption – institutional capacity is needed to deal with the evils of partisanship and to cleanse the current system.

We have abandoned justice for the guise of non-aggression in society: where human psyches should be nurtured with love and education and opportunity we have implemented a system of mass consumerism and individual disconnectedness.

Loneliness and desperation bursts through publicly in acts of unprovoked personal massacres committed by mentally deranged outcasts on the fringes of the social order. Mentally ill college students, and bullied high schoolers exact their vengeance upon a world that neglected their need to belong. The difference between outcasts and the rest of people living “normal lives” is not clear superficially, because the baseline level of social disconnectedness is so high. Madness, goes undiagnosed and unsuspected for decades. Loneliness is widespread and the human need to belong – much more powerful than the drive to consume commercial products – is not recognized at all in social value, taking hardly a second place to the recognized need for an new iPod.

Pain is the perpetual companion of the disenfranchised members within the system. Those without happiness, home, opportunity, love, or family values are relegated to a world of isolated subsistence, where they are expected to “overcome” through “self-reliance” the disparities that divide them. Instead, most are forced to suffer in solitude the aching question: should I continue being misunderstood by society? or take from society the attention and awe I deserve? Crime is the result.

Disconnectedness and disunity remain the foremost culprits. Though society has adopted a lingo of professed love and unity one to another, disenfranchisement and lack of a community to belong to, remains the de facto reality for most of the world’s inhabitants.

Oblivious to this suffering, post-modern voices from a bygone philosophical age still cry: “NO, to organized initiatives. NO organized system is needed to solve any social dilemma!” Why is this opinion maintained, that organized systems are superfluous to addressing social disparities and values of social cohesion and unity? Do we leave medicine and finance to free-lance garage-practitioners? Do we leave law and order to old-school sheriff’s like the wild wild west? In this day and age, do we leave governance to regional chieftains and warlords? So why would we leave social justice to disorganized activism?

Is the fear of oppression from large organizations rational? Or does it stem from a past where systems had been abused to commit atrocities against and oppress the public? Examples that come to mind are gender inequalities propagated by the Catholic Church, and government embroilment in scandals like the Tuskegee experiments?But should we throw out the baby with bath water, and use the rationale of post-modernism?

Religious structure even still oppress the masses. But is disorganization and the dissolution of organized approaches to reforming society’s values the solution? Do we consider these religious structure valid expressions of religion? Is al-Qaeda a valid expression of religion? Is Christian fundamentalism a valid expression of religion?

But what should be foremost in our concerns, fear of tyranny, or commitment to improving the world? Systems increase the power of response. As such they increase the power of corruption as well.  Corruption should be rooted out, however, and we ought to struggle to eliminate. Let this be the end to which a painful past can motivate us to act. Let our will be stronger than our fear. Let us embrace an overarching process within evolutionary and global history. Let us acknowledge a fruit and destination to which the revolutions ages is inexorably drawing the human race. Let the telos of the universe again be recognized.

The new demand and discourse on valid religious organizations begins here: http://agencyandchange.com/2012/10/19/discourse-on-religion/

Mankind’s united destiny beckons. The merger of nation states into global federalism, the elimination of distinctions of all kinds, the economic, cultural, linguistic, and ultimately the political and biological unity of the human race is inevitable.

Inevitably, globalization will merge our economies, internet and cell phone communication will combine our languages, intermarriage and the force of biology will intermingle our genomes, the collective travails and natural disasters that persistently plague our world will require us to unite economically and politically to resist them, and the global trends in trade will mandate us to adopt a single international currency.

Competition, we have institutionalized in economic doctrine and business practice. Selfishness, we have inculcated as the driver of innovation and change. Concern with one’s personal family, we have touted as moral responsibility, while the heavens have said from the beginning of time “prefer others before oneself”.

Military might we appraise as a means of keeping peace and an expression of our patriotic commitment. But when has a display of might been conducive to de-escalating the portents and probability of war? When has war run from selfish armamentarians? and when has hot war not been preceded by cold-war?

When research and investments in technologies and green-energy for the future, upon which the prosperity of the whole race depends, are relegated to a second priority, and fossil fuels burnt at a ever-accelerating rate, it raises concerns about the intelligence of out political and discursive climate. If this trend continues, the demise of the values of the mind of man will be evident, and the rise of values pertinent to his body will be consummate in lust for power, war, and dominion. The drive for economic and military domination is an expedient, and not a path to enduring change and prosperity. domination is nullified when it faces the same thing across the sea. Historically, it has been particularistic pursuits of power that produce destruction, and it has always been submission of the ego in deference to the collective will that produces progress and prosperity.

Drives for particularistic interest, personal control, with power and war as a means to it, inevitably end by destroying and disenfranchising all, irrespective of the identity of the parties. Selfishness itself is the essence of destruction. Its origin is the war within the self, and its end is annihilation.

“…ye walk on My earth complacent and self-satisfied, heedless that My earth is weary of you…”

Categories
- Education - Governance Human Nature Justice

Spring Showers onto Hard Earth: Prevailing Theories of Human Nature, Alterable?

How great is our capacity for change? The endpoint of our progress is as difficult to imagine as space travel is to cavemen. Social reform will outpace our technological ingenuity. Freedom fighting at present is dwarfed by the liberties of the future. Cause-drops merge into revolution-streams; but the goal remains oceans away. Over fair seas, where life is fair, sail with me.

Activists confront wide-scale cynicism. Their hopes dashed by erroneous assumptions of human nature. Does the past have to be our future? Competitive economics prescribed because of the struggle for survival in World War II? Cutthroat education climates because individuals procreate their genes?  Contentious politics because checking leads to balance?

Selfishness theory is self-fulfilling. Its prescription causes the disease; the disease is mistaken for our nature; that nature is re-prescribed. If disease is described as health, symptoms become prescribed as cure.

Although, failure is common, is it also our nature? War and injustice reinforce this  illusion. The state of the world, however, reflects a distortion of the human spirit, not its essential nature. Anachronisms disallow drawing on the extraordinary reservoir of spiritual potential available to us.

Drawing on this power, activists develop spiritual capacities to contribute to social reform. Like hard earth, prevailing theories, seem impervious to alteration, before the spiritual springtime brings rain. Like flowers, accurate theories of human nature, are due to spring up fresh and fair.

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Categories
- Consultation - Governance - Oppression - Religion - Science Discourse Knowledge Oneness

Climate Change and Political Partisanship: Why is the Truth So Divisive?

Every intelligent mind that evaluates the causes for global warming concludes that human-induced green-house gas emissions are responsible for Earth’s atmospheric average temperature increases. The only people who disagree with this are fringe scientists and few in number. For mysterious reasons, politicians are highly polarized on this debate. This scientific question has therefore become politicized. Since the early 1990’s the debate has typically fallen along partisan lines. The question needs to be asked: ‘Should we raise awareness of the facts surrounding climate change and risk igniting partisan warfare?’

To investigate the scientific validity of an issue, to raise awareness and form thoughtful opinions, and to act on these views as citizens with our purchasing-power and electoral choices — all this seems a human duty and a moral responsibility. However, what if we also hope to avoid becoming embroiled in partisan conflict, and consider exacerbating its divisive character, by throwing fuel onto a fire, equally unacceptable? An alternative is to refrain from speaking altogether. This however, would imply remaining silent on matters of conscience.

To many it would be unconscionable to hold their peace on matters of importance to one’s community, the environment, and the world. As responsible citizens of one common homeland, if we know something we would wish to share it, especially if  it is of betterment to the world. Who wouldn’t want others to benefit from it, to stimulate large numbers to investigate it, to improve collective conditions and avert disaster?

Pursuit of truth is natural. The desire to teach it is equally natural. The facts compel our conscience to declare that human fossil fuels and deforestation are responsible for climate change and truly threaten life on earth as we know it. How can public information and unbiased investigation into the topic be promoted, while not attracting the label of partisan bickering? How can one be true to one’s conscience but at the same time avoid being drawn into conflict with partisan representatives and economic special interests?

Partisan demonizing carries with it a debilitating affect on intelligent discourse. Climate change is after all, an issue of global importance and collective human destiny. Is it possible to contribute wisely whilst remaining free of quarrel in a social environment charged with partisan bickering and economic second agendas?

Holding discourse hostage with the threat of demonizing and castigating alternative viewpoints undermines the truth-discovering power of consultation, cooperation, and collective action.

Dear Sandy: Will humankind put aside partisanship before the Earth overheats our species?

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Categories
- Consultation - Education - Empowerment - Governance - Language - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Religion - Three Protagonists Development Discourse Human Nature Justice Knowledge Oneness

Summary: Ridvan 2012 Message

Paragraph#:

1. Abdu’l-Baha’s Temple-ground piercing Centenary. Diverse participants then and now.

2. Divine civilization beyond mere adjustments to present order.

3. Erroneous assumptions of human nature, justified by failings, disallow spiritual potential.

4. Imprisonment enables sympathetic hearts. 5-Year Plan (5YP) features grasped. Intensify application.

5. Signs: individual transformation, divine communities, administration promotes human welfare. Protagonist’s mutual support.

6. Citizens, body politic, societal institutions struggle for power. Cooperative Baha’i alternative emerging: responsible individual, nurturing institutions, eager community.

7. Revelation recasts societal relationships. Economic injustice tolerated; disproportionate gain emblem of success. Eschew dishonesty, exploitation.

8. National Mashriqu’l-Adhkars to be raised in Democratic Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea. Remarkable response to Plans.

9. Mashriqu’l-Adhkar weds worship and service, reflected in devotionals and educational process, correlates with size and SA. JYSEP fuels SC’s and CC’s. Learning site fortifies E&C. Erection of Local Houses of Worship: Battambang, Cambodia; Bihar Sharif, India; Matunda Soy, Kenya; Norte del Cauca, Colombia; and Tanna, Vanuatu clusters.

10. Temples Fund established. Sacrificial contributions invited.

11. Seven countries breaking Temple-ground. Every city prelude. From these Dawning-Points peal out anthems of His praise.

The Universal House of Justice

 

“…extraordinary reservoir of spiritual potential available to any illumined soul…”

 

Abbreviations:
5YP – Five Year Plan
SA – Social Action
JYSEP – Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program
SC – Study Circle
CC – Children’s Class
E&C – Expansion and Consolidation

 

 

Categories
- Governance - Human Body - Prevailing Conceptions Discourse Human Nature Justice Oneness

Economic Theory: Competition, the Key to Prosperity?

Human nature has been misinterpreted. We are not selfish and competitive by nature, but rather, altruistic and cooperative. Human societies to some extent actually represent an anomaly in the competitive theory of the jungle. Humans demonstrate a detailed division of labour and exchange of goods and services, with or without a cooperative intention on the individual level, between genetically unrelated individuals, that amounts to an economy-wide scheme of cooperation for collective prosperity. Modern societies with large organizational structures for meat and vegetable production and distribution, banking services and widespread trust in economic stability, and the rule of law and order, do the same. Since earliest days of the species Homo sapien, we have seen dense networks of exchange relations and practices of sophisticated forms of food-sharing, cooperative hunting, and collective warfare in hunter gatherer societies. The world of the animal for example, exhibits little to no distinguishable division of labour. In the jungle, cooperation is limited to small groups, and when it is seen it is almost certainly among genetically closely related individuals (eg: a family in a pack of wolves). Even in non-human primates (chimpanzees etc.), cooperation is orders of magnitude less developed than it is among humans. One may argue that certain insects such as ants and bees, or even the naked mole rat demonstrate cooperation in colonies of 1000’s of individuals working together. However, cooperation of these types of organisms cannot be appreciated except in the context of their considerable genetic homology. Genuine, conscious, cooperation that is biologically altruistic or selfless (ie: lacking genetic incentive) is seen in human society because of our unique nature, distinct from the jungle.

The “Jungle” interpretation of human nature comes from looking at humanity’s past of war and crime and deducing that human nature is selfish and competitive. No serious sociologist would look at a child and deduce that human beings are 2 feet tall and irrational. Yet, that is precisely what has been done when we look at humanity’s war- and crime-ridden history and deduce that human nature is selfish and competitive. Over the course of the child’s maturation and development it will become evident that he is actually capable of being a 5’10” professor of physics, for example. To judge human nature based upon an immature stage in human development leads to misconceived notions of who we are and how we should behave. The problem arises from the mistake of taking descriptive observation and mistaking them for a prescription of how things should be. The is-ought fallacy. Based on the observation of selfish and competitive behaviour, sociologists have prescribed selfish and competitive standards for others to follow. Instead of describing humankind’s violent past and seeking to overcome and transcend these difficulties in the future, many social theorists normalize these characteristics and prescribe them as the mode of interaction in economics and political practice. The sad truth is that much of our social order is built with this view of human nature in mind, catering to the worst aspects of our potential. No wonder society and the global state of affairs are in such shambles. A distinctive effort is needed to rethink human nature and our relationship to the collective order. Nothing less than a spiritual revolution in the hearts and minds of people and a transformation of the values of society will redeem us from the course we have set for ourselves with bankrupt self-conceptions.

Current economic theory is modeled around a self-interested conception of human nature analogous to the competitiveness of animals fighting for survival and reproductive resources in a jungle. I believe human nature is fundamentally altruistic, analogous to the harmony of cells and tissues cooperating for total organismic prosperity. The best advantage of the part is pursued in the progress of the whole. Cooperation of the various parts leads to health, and selfishness of any cell leads to cancer. The human body and not the jungle is what I choose as my model for societal and economic organization.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g

Assumptions of the Jungle Interpretation of Human Nature:
1. Human beings are naturally self-interested
2. There is a finite amount of goods, services, and opportunities with an infinite amount of wants, drives, and competitors
3. Competition is both biologically necessary and mandated by the scarcity of resources
4. Survival of the fittest is not just a biological law, but a social one as well, equally applicable to the biological and social human condition

Assumptions of the Body Interpretation of Human Nature:
1. Human beings are naturally altruistic
2. Goods are produced in proportion to the sense of a duty, purpose, and enterprise animating human endeavours, individually and collectively
3. Needs are satisfied in a way that does justice to their severity and intensity, which balances the extremes of satisfaction and want society-wide
4. Creation of a just and prosperous world order is the fruit of all social evolution, just as the manifestation of the rational mind has been the fruit of biological evolution

 

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Governance - Religion - Three Protagonists Discourse

Summary of August 9th Message

Paragraph#:

1. 10 new Regional Councils (RC’s). 5-Year Plan messages foundation of action and study. Familiarity with dynamics of growth increases with core activities.

2. Dichotomy of neighborhood and centralized children’s classes (CC) transcended. 2 Junior Youth learning sites. Expansion/consolidation primary task of RC’s.

3. RC’s to ensure functioning of Regional Training Institute (RTI) and Area Teaching Committees (ATC). Two perspectives: cycles of activity and educational process.

4. RC to draw on world-wide system of generation and dissemination of knowledge. Relationship with Counsellors significant. Report successes and impediments.

5. Prospects for Junior Youth program especially bright. Transformation in junior youth and rapid development in those accompanied to serve as animators.

6.  Capacity for human resource development needed for sustainable progress in growth of Cause and transformation of society.

7. Intensity and patience are called for organically in accordance with the varying rates of growth in various populations.

8. Refrain from comparisons between differing circumstances. Validity of network teaching versus intense neighborhoods. Guard against inundating fledgling efforts.

9.  Attention to Latin, African, Asian children; now 1 in 4 children. Vibrant sense of community more pronounced. CC’s and JYSEP accelerate community building.

10. NSA to engage in regular consultation with Counsellors on form of scheme of cluster coordination being studied by International Teaching Center.

11. Ramifications for organization of National Center. Decentralization to respond to financial needs at grassroots. Funds for part- and full-time workers.

12. Growth not to revolve around expectations or presence of RC members. Requests for reports or gatherings deferred in response to needs of grassroots.

13. Appreciation of efforts. Ardent supplications on behalf of new RC’s. May Baha’u’llah bless American Baha’i community.

Department of the Secretariat

9 August 2012

Categories
- Governance Development Discourse Justice Power

The Universe is Pregnant

The universe is pregnant with these manifold bounties – bounties mysteriously emerging from the intricate interplay between the micro-cosmic visions of various actors on the world stage, each pursuing their own selfish advantage, and yet all mysteriously contributing to the continuing flow of a unified destiny, and to the onward march of a common history. The child of earth’s multifarious nations and leaders, are all woven inextricably into a historical fabric that is the narrative of history, increasingly united in families from before the caveman, to the village and tribe in ancient societies, to the city-state and the rise of modern governance, to the nation-state scheme currently languishing under the mounting evidence of our collective contracture into a global neighborhood with the rise of technology and transportation and communications. Economically, politically, culturally, and medically, we have become one organism – trustees of the common homeland known as earth. We share in its travails, we all suffer if global warming wreaks havoc on the climate. Posterity belongs to all of us, and it is threatened by our disregard for global issues.

The world is moving on. Political realities shift with bewildering rapidity. Only a short while ago it was normal for parties to subjugate their partisan agendas in favor of national well-being. Today partisanship is committed to gridlock and national demise if power does not go their way. The whirlwind of social unrest in education reform, scientific controversy, climate change, religious fanaticism, economic travail, are all swift and alarmingly violent. The destiny of all people is being drawn against their isolationist and inward-looking dogmas into one common vortex – a vortex of trials and difficulties, but also, a vortex to be followed by one common rebuilding and society melding reconstruction. The potential storm centers are military in nature with the prospect of world war, but also economic with the selfish practices of financial corporations and the influence of corporate incentives in legislative processes that are supposed to be immune from this sort of ulterior motive. Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, in terms of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, AIDS, infections, and cancers of various kinds all threaten our collective prosperity and way of life – both for those steeped in materialism in the west or those seeking to attain it in the African and Latin American continents. Governments and peoples are being gradually enmeshed in the coils of  recurrent crises of economic fluctuations, medical inequalities, political oppression or corruption, and social disintegration.  The world is contracting into a neighborhood. America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with the problems and potentials of all other nations, and learn to grow together with them for international peace and prosperity. For purposes of national security, let alone any ideal of the oneness of humankind, all nations must bind together to protect each other from the assaults of any aggressor and unite to safeguard international security as if it was their own. Paradoxical as it may seem, our only hope of extricating ourself from the perils gathering around and within us is to become entangled in the very web of international dialogue regarding our collective destiny being woven by the hand of an inscrutable Providence. Amidst the chaos, a clear course of human progress can be discerned. Despite various disparate actors vision’s, a collective destiny emerges beneath our feet.

The United States can serve its own interests by striving to apply the system of Federalism to the whole word, which it has applied to the governance of its own country since its inception. The unification of all nations in an international federation, under a single global government is the next step in political history. Federalism, underlying the government of the United States, should be applied to the relationships existing between the nations of the world and a world government. The ideals that fired the imagination of America’s tragically unappreciated President Woodrow Wilson betoken the day when absolute unity and peace will reign on earth, its global government, and amongst its constituent nations. The promulgation of the Divine Plan, now in its 4 of 5 five year plans, designed to expand and consolidate the boundaries of those laboring for the erection of a New World Order, is the key which Providence has placed in the hands of the American believers to fulfill this momentous and unshakably glorious vision.

“The universe is pregnant…awaiting the hour when the effects of Its unseen gifts will be made manifest in this world, when the languishing and sore athirst will attain the living Kawthar of their Well-Beloved, and the erring wanderer, lost in the wilds of remoteness and nothingness, will enter the tabernacle of life, and attain reunion with his heart’s desire.”

Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Governance - Human Body - Prevailing Conceptions Discourse Justice

Discourse and Politics: Blood in the Arteries of Governance

Discourse on the following topics has brought these themes to the point of being reconceptualized. Certain foundational principles have emerged and crystallized from ongoing discourse. Principles we now believe in in a new way are:

1) Unity of all Humankind
2) Justice according to the Laws of God for all
3) Knowledge, as the central feature of social existence, the generation of which is prerogative and responsibility of all
4) Power, corrupted by partisanship today, must be revolutionized by the power of cooperation, love, unity, spirituality, selflessness, collective-mindedness, and humility.

The fundamental difference between the governance of the present and the governance of the future will be the values of the governors. Unity of the people will be: 1) an assumption about the nature of their collective trusteeship of the governed. Baha’u’llah writes, “The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust.” If the assumption is that all citizens are equal subjects under one government then disadvantages will not be allowed to amass disproportionately in one sector. 2) The self-conception of governance must change to recognizing itself as the greatest champion of justice for all people. Associated with this is 3) the requirement of promotion of language that reflects the selflessness of the speaking party and grounds any and all validity or claim to be heard in the public forum in the collective well-being. Thoughts will be entertained only that aim at the betterment of all people without regard for particularistic interests. And proposals will be entertained only that allocate resources in accordance with what serves the long-term, principled interests of all people. Baha’u’llah addressing the concourse of the rulers of the earth writes “Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind and bettereth the condition thereof.”

How can there be different people, with different ways of life and social structures, but all with a binding unity? How are the diverse tissues of a body coordinated to achieve maximum efficiency and prosperity for all? In pursuit of collective unity and prosperity, rulers ought to regard the world as the human body which, though created whole and perfect, now has various social, economic and political imbalances  as a body that has been afflicted with illness and maladies. Selfish, particularistic, or corrupt politicians, of whom partisanship is a subset, are like untrained, uneducated, fake doctors who have pursued their own materialistic desires at the expense of the common weal.  And through the violent and competitive electoral and social system we have created if a well-trained and educated physician did intervene, his influence was limited and interrupted and the recovery remained limited to a small region of the body. Collectively, the unity and prosperity of the human race has not been realized.  “That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith.”

This can in no way be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. Any representation to the contrary is false. The testimony of all history is obvious. Mankind suffers, and selfishness reigns at the level of statesmanship, where selflessness should have flourished decades ago. We must have laws within our discourse against selfish ideology or intentions and we must promote a discourse that glorifies and appreciates educated, thoughtful, proposals that aim for the betterment of all people with no surreptitious corruption or financial motives. We must vote for and uplift those who have demonstrated a history of consistent selfless action, thoughtful planning for universal betterment, and unwavering discipline and justice in the face of tempting expedients. A stricter order of appreciation for the level of selflessness in the ideology of political leaders is necessary. Those with power must support a culture and enact laws that ensure values which promote those with selfless tendencies, and remove those with particularistic or corrupt inclinations.  “It behoveth every ruler to weigh his own being every day in the balance of equity and justice and then to judge between men and counsel them to do that which would direct their steps unto the path of wisdom and understanding. This is the cornerstone of statesmanship and the essence thereof.”

The publication of high thoughts is the dynamic power in the arteries of life; it is the very soul of the world.

Categories
- Consultation - Education - Governance - Language Discourse Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Can Debate Lead to Truth?

Is it possible that a “debate” leads us, the listeners and watchers, to truth? Can a mode of dialogue such as contestational or confrontational debate assist others and people interested in the issues to discover the truth or learn more about the details of the issues? Does this forum conduce to discovery? Does contest and argument even produce results in truth seeking? Does a public setting of competitive public display uncover and disentangle the intellectual subtleties no doubt at the center of what needs to be appreciated to solve the problem? Do enraged egos before a gaping audience foster intellectual loftiness or merely expedience and aggression in a defensive mind? An audience seeking entertainment on “fight night” pay per view, as they do in the determination of political leadership on important social issues will scarcely be able to disambiguate its destiny out of the darkness of the 21st century. With a priority on violence as a form of entertainment, commercialization of political decision making, combat as the ideal form of intellectual activity – with all this, the result will be a world ruled by slogan-filled celebrities suited better for individual aggrandizement than collective vision and responsible leadership.

What is discovered through debate: Who is most skilled and most motivated to aggrandize himself and to dominate others. When important discussions are framed in terms of winners and losers, its is difficult to see how the goal of leadership is collective accomplishment. What are the losers meant to do after the debate? Respect the opinion of the majority, when so much practice has been given to disrespecting each other, and mocking and hating one’s opponents? If the process that produces political and social leadership is divisive how can the result be collective and universal prosperity? Moreover, how can the winner be responsible for the suffering of the losers, when his entire camp was running on disregard for the opinions and detests the values of 50% of the population? What assurance do we have that the partisan desperation created in the electoral process does not carry over into the legislative and governing process post-election? What is to say that the paralysis of the legislative and judicial machinery, and social and economic unrest, and distrust of the government is not a direct corollary to the contestual and partisan manner in our elections and governance systems? This results in an increasing privatization and individualization of isolated aspirations and life initiatives undertaken by individuals for their private family’s prosperity. Why be committed to a people or a system that feeds on violence and contest? The breakdown of the partisan political system results in breakdown of governance and collective social cohesion itself, at once a symptom and a cause of individualistic forms of materialism, consumerism, and entertainment preoccupations.

If people had a government they loved, a collective community to which they belonged, an ideal worth fighting for, and a prospect that united not divided people’s interests against each other there may be more general will and universal participation in matters of importance to collective well being. Without a collective to believe in, what reason do people have not to pursue their own individual happiness and pleasure in isolation to the collective good? In the absence of a cause worth serving, people find entertainment and pastimes to serve themselves, becoming a shadow of what their inherent potential could have destined them to be. Human being, is a mine rich in gems. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures. Our purpose is that all humans shall be regarded as one soul. If the leaders and politicians of this age would lead the people towards fellowship, love, and unity, everyone would finally experience the pleasure of the highly-coveted true liberty, and within the energy of a free conscience discover the exhilaration born of undisturbed peace and inner composure. Productivity on that day will harness the power of unity for explosive levels of global prosperity. It is inevitable that the earth will one day attain this station. ‘All things have I willed for thee, and thee, too, for thine own sake.’

Categories
- Governance Discourse Human Nature Justice Knowledge Power

Progressive Revelation: Historiography and Civilization Dynamics