- 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

Human Nature Power

Spiritual Sources of Power

The conventional analysis of the role of power in society has only focused on material sources of power.  The discourse of this blog acknowledges that civilization has both a material and spiritual dimension, that science and religion are complementary systems of knowledge, and that human nature has both a material and spiritual nature.  All of these notions follow from a certain understanding of reality itself – that reality, on an ontological level, has a spiritual dimension, as well as a physical one.  We have physical laws and forces, which we have only recently begun to comprehend and harness; and we have spiritual laws and forces, which are relatively more intangible that we have a more dim understanding of at present.  However, we respond to spiritual forces regardless of our understanding of them, just like we respond to gravity regardless of our understanding of it.  It follows easily, from this understanding of reality, that there are physical or material sources of power, and there are likewise spiritual sources of power.  How do we draw up and factor in these powers?

Humanity’s history clearly proves the ability to conceive of power in more creative ways than brutish military strength or manipulative economic clout; evidence demonstrates that the human race has always tapped into spiritual sources of power.  These include the power of beauty, the power of justice, the power of humility, the power of cooperation and reciprocity, the power of selflessness.  Even more obviously is the power of truth, responsible for great artistic, scientific, and philosophical advances; the power of character, inspiring countless generations to create positive change; the power of unity, without which we have no progress; and the power of love.

Before delving into the process of drawing upon these powers, we can already see by this short list of spiritual sources of power that they are unlimited resources – power need not be reduced to a scarce material good for which groups must compete.  There is not a fixed amount of humility, cooperation, unity, or integrity, which, when used up is then gone.  Understanding that intangibility is not mutually exclusive with existence helps one understand these powers’ unlimited ability to transform society and human thought.

- Consultation Discourse Justice Knowledge

Justice and Discourse, Part II

Both extremes are to be completely avoided; the first of accepting everything one reads – this is the state of being an easy prey to eloquence and dazzling and elaborate presentations of those who pretend to know or actually are recognized as world-renowned experts in a given field. The second is to criticize continually and instinctively everything that contradicts one’s own views or ways of phrasing or thinking about certain concepts than what one already has narrowly defined for one’s own self. Rejecting everything new is wisdom for turtles. Women and men of genus homo and species sapien are rich, confident and capable of considering something new, grasping its fundamentals and novelty, and disseminating and applying  new insights and knowledge to various tasks of human endeavor. The extremes mentioned above are in connection with Justice as it exists in application to the endeavor known as discourse – the present undertaking of the current forum you, the reader and we, the contributors, are taking part in. Neither of these extremes is in accordance with the principles of justice as accepted in our discourse.

We wish to demonstrate how subtle and profound the discussion of justice can be and how much there is to learn from theories such as the ones elaborated by the contributors and commentators. We also hope to demonstrate how numerous truths are lost when one insists on keeping references to God and Revelation out of the discussion of justice. Our avowed aim in discourse is to be concerned with the advancement of humankind towards a novel world civilization.  However important an open and sincere consultative process is here, regarding justice and other foundational concepts of our dialogue, such a discourse will not produce answers to the worlds problems if its is limited to material reality and consideration of within materialistic presuppositions and reductions. We wish to avoid the anathematic posture of  Western secular thought towards transcendental, evolutionary, and teleological interpretations of reality, drawing upon aspects of human consciousness capable of experiencing and knowing spiritual reality. For the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants it is consciously, culturally and empirically self-evident that human nature and human civilization with its rituals and kindness, schooling and organization, indeed all of reality, including the beauty of the natural world and the mystery of evolutionary origin – for these reasons and for most of the worlds (unspoken for) population: reality is fundamentally spiritual.  If discourse is to be relevant to the needs of humanity in this day, it must consider the concept of the spiritual reality of humankind as the pivot of its interactions, consultations, and deliberations. We aim as part of this discourse to demonstrate how reflecting on the Writings and ideas of certain powerful social thinkers as well as guided or Revealed truth and spiritual meditations will teach us to avoid the two extremes mentioned in the previous paragraph.