- 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 The discourse no longer represents an honest viewpoint of reality, the dominant slogans on TV and radio are a designed smoke-screen to hide the real structure, decision-making, and motives at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:

- Governance - Prevailing Conceptions

Assumptions Underlying Governance

As we can clearly see around us, governance stands in need of reconceptualization.  At this moment in history, when humankind is in a transition phase, and when changes are occurring at accelerated rates, the development of just and effective forms of government is imperative.  Democratic government, which has become the predominant form over the last century, has lost its legitimacy as a result of the corruption, hypocrisy, and elitism that has come to characterize its practice, rending it ineffective to address complex social challenges.  One main cause is its cooptation by lobbyists and interest groups – which, nominally may seem democratic, but in reality are just manipulations through selfish expressions of power.  These problems are not just confined to politics.  At the level of the market, corporate governance is viewed with distrust and suspicion – again, through the corruption and hypocrisy that characterize their economics, and through their pursuit of self-serving goals at the expense of broader concerns.  The result in this case has been outrageous ecological damage, a collapsed worldwide economy, and an ever-widening abyss between the rich and the poor.  Even governance of civil society and social organizations have been subject to the same problems of competing selfish factions, corruption, and viewing with otherness – rendering anarchy in the management of a school board or a hospital.  Considering the interdependence that characterizes all levels of governance, the interactions of these three levels leaves dismal expectations in one’s mind.

These are just the symptoms.  Any change must be at the level of principle – deeper still, at the level of assumption.  Some assumptions underlying these problems include:  1) Governance has to be divisive.  2) A single individual with good intentions can go into the system and change it.  3) Government is inherently ineffective, but necessary, so the more privatization, the better.  4) Governance is just an expression of power struggle.  5) There is no role for nurturing human potential.  6) Governance is largely a bureaucratic endeavor, and bureaucracy is cumbersome by nature.  7) To prevail, you have to undermine; to win, another has to lose.  Can you think of others?

The next series of posts will provide some insights into the concept of governance based on the assumptions provided throughout previous posts, rooted in a recognition of the spiritual dimension of human existence as well as drawn from the experience of governance within the Baha’i community.  What will be extremely helpful is your thoughts and contributions on the topic – to generate more and more insights; to understand issues, concerns, and needs; to raise questions for further exploration; and to identify challenges associated with profound changes both at the level of thought and at the level of structure.


- Empowerment Power

Power as Capacity

The development of a world civilization requires a transformation such as humanity has not yet experienced – both of society and of human consciousness.  Questions naturally arise, then, regarding the power necessary for this change: who wields it, how it can be used, what are its sources, etc.  Power, like all other concepts, needs redefinition and reconceptualization.

First, it is extremely helpful to equate the concept of power with the concept of capacity, to understand power as capacity.  In physics, a boulder at the top of a cliff has a measure of potential energy – latent capacity – and when it rolls down, this potential becomes kinetic energy – actualized capacity.  As it manifests its capacity for kinetic energy, it exerts power.  In social reality, too, power is capacity.  Prevailing definitions of power focus on the capacity to dominate, the capacity of manipulate, the capacity to compete, to capacity to pursue self-interest, the capacity to prevail.  However, added to this list can be the capacity to cooperate, the capacity to unify, the capacity to assist, the capacity to work creatively with others, the capacity empower, the capacity to transform.  Conceptualizing power as capacity opens up to the mind a wide range of human potentialities that can be expressed in social reality as power.

What are some sources of power and capacity?  Again, prevailing thought focuses on material sources.  These include obvious forms such as physical strength and military might, to less obvious forms such as money, wealth, and capital; access to media, the classroom, or the pulpit; access to specialized knowledge or technology; and social status.  No doubt these are sources of power and capacity.  Yet, society (and reality) has both a material and spiritual dimension – consequently, aren’t there spiritual sources of power as well?

Development Discourse Human Nature Justice Knowledge Oneness

Conscious Choice

Beyond the highly propagated fragmentation of science and religion in current thought, and the resistance to reconceptualize these complementary systems of knowledge and practice, there are, in general, voices that resist change, especially at the level of principle.  They refuse to believe that the assumptions they hold dear are not useful.  Yet, civilization is in crisis.  The fruits of outworn assumptions have gone rotten.  If long-cherished social assumptions are no longer bearing the much needed fruit, and are no longer promoting the betterment of the world, then what is stopping us from simply discarding these assumptions and adopting new ones to operationalize?  After all, the value and validity of assumptions lie in the results garnered from applying them to social reality – assumptions are all equal until they are tested through application.  Let us apply science in the realm of civilization-building itself; let us be evidence-based.  If assumptions no longer serve humanity’s developing requirements, then they are no longer valuable or valid; and new assumptions need to replace them.  Change is an immutable law of our reality.  What is the harm in adopting the assumption that humanity is one?  That science and religion are complementary?  That human beings are noble?  That beauty directs our purpose?  That individual and social well-being are inextricably linked?  That a world civilization beckons humanity, one that will be governed by justice, one that will achieve a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life, one that will be rich with knowledge from all people?

Tell, which do you prefer: the assumptions that led to our current crisis of civilization, or those listed above?

- Oppression - Religion - Science Knowledge

Fanaticism and Ridicule: Science and Religion

Currently, there are some who resist the reconceptualization of science and religion.  They fragment science and religion, and dismiss one for the other, claiming that only one or the other has led to humanity’s successes. How often is it that we hear religion caricatured as a superstition of idle fancy, or a hollow ritual of football-detracting compulsion. How often is it that we hear the thunder of ‘hail to science’ with the glorification of the latest cell phone mobile technology; and how often is it that we read of principle-compromising cover-ups of Church-father molestation scandals. If Thor ‘God of Lightning’ was real, one would think that we worshiped him as he flowed in our power cables.


A Mendelian punnet square emerges with fanaticism and ridicule on the Y axis and religion and science on the X (Figure 1). People often fall into habits of speaking fanatically about the exclusivity of science as a source of human betterment, or the monopoly that religion exercises over truth. Both are caricatures of reality, and neither adequately describes it. A discourse that ridicules religion as an empty ritual and a superstition for the ‘masses’, co-exists with a view in society that mocks science as a) a theoretical preoccupation of the disconnected elites, or b) a dangerous and heretical arrogance before the angry, angry Lord. The dichotomies of this punnet square are to be utterly and wholly discarded. The present discourse pays no attention to these ways of compartmentalizing our epistemic experience and collapses these dichotomies under the view: reality is one, knowledge of reality is multi-factorial, and ultimately represents only diverse views of a single entity.


We propose an alternate schema that reconclies these epistemic systems (Figure 2). We start with the understanding that reality is one (R1=S1). Science and religion are two systems of learning about it. Religion offers the Revealed Word of God and its authoritative interpreters (R2), and science offers the physical universe as an experience of facts and laws we can all observe (S2), as the first level of the two great systems. The interpretations and methods for justification of ethical commands in religion (R3) and the standards and justifications offered by the scientific method (S3) are the next level of knowledge offered by these two systems. Practical knowledge of daily spiritual disciplines as an individual and cultural norms of the collective within a community (R4), and technology and practical knowledge of scientific inquiry in application (S4), constitute the third layer and final of these two knowledge systems. They both intertwine to produce the harmony and betterment of the human condition and human society.