Tomorrow’s post will be looking at a recent critique of economics. This 2015 extract from an article by David Langness on Bahá’í economics therefore seems timely: for the full post see link.
The Baha’i Faith, unlike most other Faiths, offers the world a specific set of economic principles. Designed to promote justice, fairness and unity, those spiritual Baha’i principles do not advocate any of the currently existing economic models of capitalism, socialism or communism. Instead, the Baha’i economic ideals combine the best and most workable features of those systems with a balanced, spiritual approach that endeavors to deeply diminish the impact of the human struggle for existence.
In the modern world our lives have come to depend on struggle and competition, rather than unity and cooperation. Driven by the fear of hunger and poverty, many people suffer when their souls perceive the world’s predominant law as a Darwinian struggle for existence, rather than a harmonious and loving human unity.
The Baha’i teachings say that humanity can better organize its economic systems to minimize our struggle and attain our unity. Rather than a harsh and absolute dependence on the theory of the survival of the fittest, we can look to the spiritual aspects of our nature and find ways to reduce and eliminate the suffering that comes from dire need:
The fourth principle or teaching of Baha’u’llah is the readjustment and equalization of the economic standards of mankind. This deals with the question of human livelihood. It is evident that 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. That there is need of an equalization and 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. The composure of the world will be assured by the establishment of this principle in the religious life of mankind.
This primary Baha’i economic teaching, repeated in many places and contexts by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, asks humanity to work together to eliminate the extremes of poverty and wealth. Such a voluntary redistribution of resources does not envision just a simple legislative remedy or coercive, mandatory economic adjustments, however. Instead, it envisions a spiritual reformation of the relationship between the rich and the poor, a new sense of unity and fellowship and interaction, a realization that we are all one human family.