The Spiritual Remedy

The remedy for the world’s economic problems is spiritual economics:

Economic problems may be solved by the application of the Science of the Love of God that is the true foundation of all economics.Manifest true economics to the people.Show what love is, what kindness is.as a remedy for the economic question bringing great readjustment and a high state of spiritual civilization, instilling a fundamental change...in man’s nature such as to enable him to adjust the economic relationships of society…control the economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of his existence, and thus assert his mastery over the forces of nature.[1]
The economic principles that Baha’u’llah proposed are practicable, and cause no distress to society.They embody the higher aspirations of all wage-earning classes and of economists of various schools.Our generation of the half-light in this period of incubation of the World Commonwealthhas already been experiencing some of these principles taking effect. They will widen in accordance with time and place.The Baha’i Cause covers all economic and social questions under the heading and ruling of its laws.Governments will enact these laws, establishing just legislation and economics in order that all humanity may enjoy a full measure of welfare and privilege.The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit. This is fully explained in the Bahá’í teaching, and without knowledge of its principles no improvement in the economic state can be realized. So let the Spirit…permeate…‌economic life in the following spheres:[2]
Wealth, work, and private ownership: The Baha’i Faith neither accepts the theories of the Capitalistic economics in full, nor can it agree with the Marxists and Communists in their repudiation of the principle of private ownership and of the vital sacred rights of the individual.Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree…provided the entire population is wealthy and the wealth is dedicated to the welfare of society.As for work, this is an inseparable part of man’s life…a necessary element in our earthly existence. Without work, life ceases to have a meaning.…Whatever the progress of…machinery may be, man will have always to toil in order to earn his living.…Folk should busy themselves with that which will profit themselves and others, for a job performed in the spirit of service is identical with the worship of God.[3]
Caring for the weak and the poor calls for giving every assistance and help…to those who are in distress and sufferingthrough orphanages, free schools and hospitals for the poor, and so on.Thus the rich can concern themselves with and care for the poor as the trust of God in [their] midst and show the lofty characteristics and noble attributes of mankind. But meanwhile there are still people
overburdened with riches, and…unfortunate ones who starve with nothing; those who possess several stately palaces, and those who have not where to lay their head…some…with numerous courses of costly and dainty food, whilst others can scarce find sufficient crusts to keep them alive.…Some are clothed in velvets, furs and fine linen while others have insufficient, poor and thin garments with which to protect them from the cold. This condition of affairs is wrong, and must be remedied. Now the remedy must be carefully undertaken. It cannot be done by bringing to pass absolute equality between men.[4]
Instead,
rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals, and limit the misery of millions of the poor masses.…Under present systems and conditions of government the poor are subject to the greatest need and distress while others more fortunate live in luxury and plenty far beyond their actual necessities. This inequality of portion and privilege is one of the deep and vital problems of human society.…Need of…apportionment by which all may possess the comforts and privileges of life is evident. The remedy must be legislative readjustment of conditions. The rich too must be merciful to the poor, contributing from willing hearts to their needs without being forced or compelled to do so.…In the future there will not be the abnormally rich nor the abject poor. The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.[5]
At the same time, begging must be wiped out, through every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited…engaging in some work or profession.[6]
Equalization of the means of livelihood: The right of every human being to the daily bread whereby they exist, or the equalization of the means of livelihood will let poverty disappear and everyone…share in comfort and well-being.…Laws must be enacted that it will not be possible for a few to be millionaires and many destitute, hereby preventing such extremes of wealth and sustenance and conforming to the Divine Law which gives equal justice to all.…Deplorable superfluity of great wealth and miserable, demoralizing and degrading poverty can be abolished.…There must be special laws…dealing with these extremes of riches and of want.[7]
The body politic is one family yet because of lack of harmonious relations some members are comfortable and some in direst misery, some members are satisfied and some are hungry, some members are clothed in most costly garments and some families are in need of food and shelter. Why? Because this family lacks the necessary reciprocity and symmetry.…Therefore a law must be given to this family by means of which all the members…will enjoy equal well-being and happiness. Is it possible for one member of a family to be subjected to the utmost misery and to abject poverty and for the rest of the family to be comfortable? It is impossible unless those members of the family be senseless, atrophied, inhospitable, unkind.[8]
It is important to limit riches, as it is also of importance to limit poverty. Either extreme is not good.…If it be right for a capitalist to possess a large fortune, it is equally just that his workman should have a sufficient means of existence.…A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny.…The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from lack of the very necessities of life.[9]
Ending Industrial Slavery and Strikes: In the USA in 1865 you did a wonderful thing…when you abolished chattel slavery, but you must do a much more wonderful thing now, you must abolish industrial slavery![10]
Rules and laws should be established…for moderate profits to manufacturers, and to workmen the necessary means of existence and security for the future‌.…Then socialists may justly demand human rights but without resort to force and violence or the strike…which is manifestly wrong and destructive of human foundations.…Strikes are due to two causes. One is the extreme greed and rapacity of the manufacturers and industrialists; the other, the excesses, the avidity and intransigence of the workmen and artisans.…But 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…in the greatest misery. This is contrary to justice, to humanity, to equity; it is the height of iniquity, the opposite to what causes divine satisfaction.…The human species…persists in the greatest error.[11]
Protection of Workers and Capitalists: Governments must plan with utmost wisdom and power so that neither the capitalists suffer from enormous losses nor the labourers become needy, though the rights of the working people must be strongly preserved. Also the rights of the capitalists are to be protected. The interference of courts of justice and of the government in difficulties…between manufacturers and workmen is legal. Commerce, industry, agriculture and the general affairs of the country are all intimately linked together.[12]
A just medium…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…that the workmen and artisans receive a fixed and established daily wage, and have a share in the general profits of the factory.…Every factory…will give shares…to its employees and will write the shares in their names.…The rest will belong to the capitalists. Then…whatever they may earn after the expenses and wages are paid, according to the number of shares, should be divided among both.…As a result, workmen…receive…wages and a share in the fourth or the fifth part of the profits as partners in every work.[13]
When they cease work, becoming feeble or helpless, they should receive from the owner of the factory a sufficient pension.…Also a manufacturer will not be allowed to leave all his property to his own family. A significant part must go to the factory workers who have created the wealth.[14]
Inequality is Natural: At the same time, social inequality is the inevitable outcome of the natural inequality of man. While all must enjoy the greatest comfort and welfare…there will be preservation of degree....Human beings are different in ability and should, therefore, be different in their social and economic standing....Wages should definitely be unequal, simply because men are unequal in their ability and hence should receive wages that would correspond to their varying capacities and resources....Apropos historically, the philosopher
King Lycurgus…made a great plan to equalize the subjects of Sparta…‌to achieve the permanent good of his country by the equalization of the property and of the conditions of life in his kingdom. But the self-sacrifice of the king was in vain. The great experiment failed. After a time all was destroyed; his carefully thought-out constitution came to an end. The futility of attempting such a scheme was shown and the impossibility of attaining equal conditions of existence was proclaimed....In our day any such attempt would be equally doomed to failure.[15]
Equality is a chimera! It is entirely impracticable! Even if equality could be achieved it could not continue—and if its existence were possible, the whole order of the world would be destroyed. The law of order must always obtain in the world of humanity....Some are full of intelligence, others have an ordinary amount of it, and others again are devoid of intellect. In these three classes of men there is order but not equality. How could…wisdom and stupidity…be equal?...An army could not be composed of generals alone, or of captains only, or of nothing but soldiers without one in authority.[16]
Absolute equality is…impossible, for absolute equality in fortunes, honors, commerce, agriculture, industry, would end in a want of comfort, in discouragement, in disorganization of the means of existence, and in universal disappointment: the order of the community would be quite destroyed. Thus difficulties will also arise when unjustified equality is imposed. It is, therefore, preferable for moderation to be established by means of laws and regulations to hinder the constitution of the excessive fortunes of certain individuals, and to protect the essential needs of the masses.[17]
Houses of Finance: The peasant class and the agricultural class exceed other classes in the importance of their service.…Let the economic problem begin to be solved with the farmer as the first active agent in the body politic.In every village a board should be organized and the affairs of that village should be under the control of that boardas a house of finance (storehouse) defraying necessary expenses for orphans…the cripples…the poor…and other members who for valid reasons are incapacitated—the blind, the old, the deaf—their comfort must be looked after. In the village no one will remain in need or in want.…This system is all thus ordered so that…the individual members of the body politic will thus live comfortably and welland benefit from the greatest achievements of the world of humanity.[18]
Trustees will be elected by the people in a given village to look after these transactions through the expenses or expenditures of the general storehouse, with its activities made manifest.Houses of Finance will receive tithes, taxes on animals, wealth without inheritors, all things found whose owners cannot be discovered, a third of all treasures…in the earth, a third of all the mines—and voluntary contributions. Tithes specifically mean taxes on income…greater than…needs, from 10% up to 50%.Each House of Finance will pay for the government, the poor, the infirm, the orphans, the schools, the deaf blind and cripples, and public health.…If after all these expenses are defrayed any surplus is found in the storehouse it must be transferred to the national treasury.[19]
 

After organizing the villages, spiritual economics must…reach out and embrace the other classes.…When the village is reconstructed, then the cities will be also.…For larger cities, naturally, there will be a system on a larger scale.… Nevertheless, there will be preservation of degree.[20]


Culling the Waste of War: Nations need just
a small force for the purposes of internal security, the correction of criminal and disorderly elements and the prevention of local disturbances.…Hereby the world may be freed from onerous expenditure, for warfare and conflict are the foundation of trouble and distress.[21]To pile up more weapons of war…people must sacrifice most of whatever they are able to earn by their sweat and toil. How many thousands have given up their work in useful industries and are laboring day and night to produce new and deadlier weapons which…spill out the blood of the race more copiously than before. Each day they invent a new bomb or explosive and then the governments must abandon their obsolete arms and begin producing the new, since the old weapons cannot hold their own against the new.[22]
The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war…will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race.[23]
A Global Economic Commonwealth means a world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of capital and labour definitely recognized. A world federal system…embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which force is made the servant of Justice…is the goal.[24]It will mean removing high and prohibitive tariffs that hurt international trade, setting up a uniform and universal system of currency of weights and measures to simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races, only charging interest on money with moderation and fairness, and no more trusts![25]

Such general spiritual economic readjustment…ensures the stability of the world…and lets each individual member of the body politic…live most comfortably and happily…without any harm or injury attacking the general order.[26]




[1] Economic problems, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Portals to Freedom 156
The true foundation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), PUP 238–39
Manifest true economics, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 238
Remedy for the economic question, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 455 & DP 7
Fundamental change, Shoghi Effendi Lights 1871.550
[2]Practicable, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 32
The higher aspirations, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel 26
Generation of the half-light, Shoghi Effendi, WOB 168
Widen in accordance with, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Light of the World 45; The Bahá’í World 4. 451, cited by Shams, Badi
The Baha’i Cause covers, Shoghi Effendi Shoghi Effendi Lights 1864.549; Directives 19; Bahá’í News 2 1935/03
In the following spheres, drawing from Shams, Badi: A Bahá’í Perspective on Economics of the Future, Compilation. New Delhi: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991
[3]Neither accepts, Shoghi Effendi Lights of Guidance 1862.549
Wealth is praiseworthy,‘Abdu’l-Bahá The Secret of Divine Civilization 24
Is an inseparable part, Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance 1870.550, Letter 1935/12/26
Whatever the progress,Shoghi Effendi, Aqdas56.192, Letter 1937/03/22
Busy themselves with, Baha’u’llah, TB 3.24
Identical with, Baha’u’llah, Scriptures 82.143
[4] Every assistance, Shoghi Effendi. Lights 411.121
Orphanages, free schools,Shoghi Effendi. Lights 411.121
Concern themselves with, Baha’u’llah, PB 9; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Foundations of World Unity 44; SOW 8.231
Overburdened with riches, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1911), Paris Talks 151–54
[5] Rules and laws, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SAQ 314–15, also 281; under present systems, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 107
[6] Shoghi Effendi, Aqdas56.192, Letter 1937/03/22
[7] The right of every human being, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Paris Talks 154
Enacted that, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá PUP 216
Deplorable superfluity, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Paris Talks 154
There must be, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1911), Paris Talks 151–54
[8] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 37–38
[9] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 151–54
[10] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SOW 7.6
[11]Rules and laws should, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SAQ 281
Moderate profits to manufacturers, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SAQ 282–83
The socialists may justly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), PUP 238–39
Strikes are due, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SAQ 273
[12] Plan with utmost wisdom, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SOW 8.231; the rights of the working people, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SAQ 317
[13]A just medium, Abdu’l-Bahá, BWF 282
Every factory, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 43
Workmen…receive, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ 315
Partners in every work, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, 668.342
[14]When they cease,‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ 315; a manufacturer will not, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SOW 8.11
[15] Social inequality,‘Abdu’l-Bahá PUP 41; SOW 8.229
Human beings, Shoghi Effendi Directives 20
Wages should definitely, Shoghi Effendi, Directives 20
King Lycurgus, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1911), Paris Talks 151–54
[16] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1911), Paris Talks 151–54
[17] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá SAQ 274
[18] The peasant class,‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Foundations of World Unity 39–41
Solved with the farmer, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights 1858.547
In every village, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights 1858.547
House of finance, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Scriptures 831.453, also Letter in Universal House of Justice 1919/07/25 cited by Shams, Badi
Necessary expenses, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Foundations of World Unity 39–41; SOW 8.229 1922/12; The Bahá’í World 4.451
This system, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 39–41; SOW 8.229 1922/12; The Bahá’í World 4.451
The greatest achievements, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 39–41
[19] Trustees will be elected, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Foundations of World Unity 39–41; SOW 8.229 1922/12; The Bahá’í World 4.451
Tithes, taxes, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Letter in Universal House of Justice 1912/10/04 cited by Shams, Badi; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Light of the World 45; The Bahá’í World 4.451; Foundations of World Unity 39–41
Income…greater than…needs, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá PUP 217
Government, the poor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Light of the World 45; The Bahá’í World 4. 451; also’Abdu’l-Bahá Letter in Universal House of Justice 1912/10/04 cited by Shams, Badi
If after all these expenses, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Foundations of World Unity 39–41; also SOW 8.229 1922/12; The Bahá’í World 4.451
[20]Economics must, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Scriptures 831.453
When the village, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Scriptures 831.453; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Letter in Universal House of Justice 1919/07/25 cited by Shams, Badi
For larger cities,‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1912), Foundations of World Unity 39–41; also SOW 8.229 1922/12; The Bahá’í World 4.451
[21] A small force,‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization 65; hereby the world, Baha’u’llah Scriptures 60.139
[22] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Secret of Divine Civilization 61–62
[23]Baha'u'llah, PB xii
[24] Baha’u’llah, PB xii–xiii
[25]A world community, Shoghi Effendi, Compilation of Compilations 2.1608.177; WOB 35
Uniform and universal system, Shoghi Effendi The Bahá’í Peace Program 8
Interest on money, Baha’u’llah, TB 132–33
No more trusts, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 43
[26]Readjustment…ensures, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 181
Each individual member, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá PUP 41; SOW 8.229
Without any harm, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity 39–41