- Prevailing Conceptions Discourse Human Nature

Which brand are you?

“The reality of man is his thought…”

The world is in a state of oppression.  This is not an unknown fact – any media source will recount the various expressions of social disintegration throughout the world.  The riots in Turkey, the tension in Egypt, the plotting of terrorists, the violence, the scandals, the corruption…it all seems indistinguishable at a certain point.  A common characteristic to them all is that each is an instance of external oppression.

What about the United States?  By some accounts, we have less terrorism, less corruption, less rioting.  From a certain perspective, we have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from threat.  Some can claim we are a less oppressed nation overall.  Perhaps, however, this belief that we are less oppressed is itself one of the greatest oppressions.

The United States is dominated by a culture of consumerism – today’s inheritor of a materialistic worldview.  This is a different type of oppression, insidious, exacting, and stifling.  The discourse of our nation has been hijacked by the interests of corporations and government; so, while it is true that one has a choice – without threat of violent recourse – of whether to side with this or that political party, or support this or that technical recipe, or opt for this or that legalistic procedure, what is not up for debate is the framework within which the political system operates, the value that inevitably comes with advances in technology and who they serve, the circus of legal advocacy that has masqueraded as search for truth.  In other parts of the world, oppression takes the form of brute violence against the physical body, religious hypocrisy that can be detected with little sight, or obvious suppression of the rights of one group of people by another seemingly more powerful group of people; whereas in the United States, the oppression takes the form of a manipulation of identity.  Instead of being able to think about the systems within which our society operates, we are manipulated – through classroom, pulpit, and newsstand – to regard the human being as a consumer.  A consumer of whatever political topic is most convenient for the upcoming campaign; of whatever knowledge and skills are currently the criteria to assume a coveted post within some corporation to uphold our economic status-quo, of whatever foods and medicines are promising the lure of easy fix, of whatever technology can deliver convenience in exchange for adoption of values, of whatever trend is being deposited in the mind.  The question is never “why?”, but always “which?”.  To me, the most striking point – and the one that makes this type of oppression all the more apparent – is that those segments of the population that seek to distinguish themselves by attempting to identify and fight oppression, in fact only distinguish themselves by adopting different types of patterns of consumption.

An oppression that is external – that is violent and ugly and hurtful – is at least one that can be identified.  Hypocrisy, suppression, corruption, can be known and fought.  It is because this oppression targets the body and external conditions of a human being, not his essential reality.  However, when the sights of oppression are trained at the identify of an individual, then his mind becomes restricted, his thoughts become suppressed, his reality is oppressed.  How can one fight an oppression when one does not even know that one is being oppressed?  When one’s identity has been manipulated to regard as normal what is clearly a distortion?

“What “oppression” is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth…should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it?”

“The perpetuation of ignorance is a most grievous form of oppression…”

- 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.


- Empowerment - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Human Nature

Unemployment and Religion

No one looks for the source of economic problems in spiritual matters. Likewise, no one looks for solutions to economic problems through spiritual means. Unemployment is the self-claimed most important economic problem of the day, and yet, the fact that workers aren’t motivated to go to work isn’t seen as a systemic problem of our culture, but rather as a problem with those individual workers themselves. “Lazy”, some people call them. “Unmotivated” others say. And yet, what do we expect individual’s to feel motivated by in our current conception of the purpose and nature of employment? How does it draw on a human being’s capacity, talents, and aspirations? These are the sources of motivation after all.

Modern western society has reduced the individual’s perspective of work to what is termed “gainful employment.” The gainful employment conception sees work as solely aimed at acquiring the means for the consumption of produced goods. The main driving thrust of employment then is to put into  society the labor that earns one the credit on which to purchase society’s commodities. There is no real purpose or passion or spiritual worth intrinsic to the labor itself in this conception. Society has crafted innumerable “jobs”, to be filled, and “products” to be consumed around this vapid conception of employment.

No serious doctor would look at the human form and reduce the purpose of eating to being healthy, and the value of health to hoarding food. But that is precisely what we have done when we expect society to work for a salary, and expend that salary on the consumption of goods. The system is circular: acquisition and consumption resulting in the maintenance and expansion of the system of good production and, in consequence, upholding the practice of gainful employment. Whereas, the reality is that human life should have a purpose that transcends the mere physical dimension.

In the gainful employment conception, there is no consideration for matching a human being’s natural talents to her or his tasks, for the maximization of society’s benefit from her or his labor. Neither is there a sense of credence given to the dreams or aspirations of the individual, in what he or she deems worthy of their life’s work. Finally, there is very little collective planning with regard to what division of labor would be most efficient and conducive to the prosperity of society as a whole. Corporations are empowered to employ countless thousands of mindless workers without questioning the merits of the menial tasks they assign them to perform, many of which are a waste of true human potential, and taken cumulatively  usually detrimental to the interests of society. For example, the maintenance and running of enumerable fast food chains, which waste human talents and capacities on things like assembly line production for Big Macs or janitorial labor, meanwhile the whole time these establishments do a disservice to society, driving up the consumption of unhealthy foods and saturated fats, simple sugars, and processed goods.

Taken individually, things like labor of various complex levels, compensation of salaries and wages, and the purchasing of goods, groceries, and housing are all essential activities to the economic order, however the vapidness of the entire conception is demonstrable in its circular-ness. Bodies don’t live to eat, and expend energy to hunt food — we live to listen to music, love our families, serve our communities, and develop our potential for art, science, and civic engagement. Eating is just something we do to enable this whole process. Likewise with sleeping, and using the energy from our food to solely pursue another meal or shelter, clothing, and some other basic necessity. The purpose per se of our health in our bodies however is not the acquisition of the next meal, nor is it the purpose of food and rest and shelter simply to create those conditions in which we feel most comfortable and secure. They are part of a larger context in which meaning comes to be realized through a series of complex, interconnected social, personal, and spiritual pursuits that give a sense of transcendence and purpose to our lives.

The  inadequacy of the concept of gainful employment, as it is practiced in our modern culture can be read from two sources: First, the wide-scale apathy of workers and upswing in mass shootings that social media sources are covering as the natural expression of people on their daily routine grind as post-office workers, school boys, or university students. The second sign of the inadequacy of the conception of gainful employment is the mounting tide of people who are totally unemployed all together. The growing armies of the unemployed, who develop day by day an increased sense of demoralization and despair, are considered by those who believe in social safety nets and those that consider them lazy or un-ingenuitive, a bad sign for health of the economy. One of the most important indices of economic strength and prosperity is the unemployment level, and in turn, one the major causes of unemployment is the conception of gainful employment as it is understood in modern culture. A reconceptualization  of employment in popular culture is the spiritual solution to the economic problem of unemployment.


- 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.