I have added footnotes to the quotes in the text and published the quotes and their references at the bottom of the document.
I found this very thought provoking.
Re-adjustment of the social economy is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it ensures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible." (1)
At the same time, rampant materialism must give way to a more balanced view of the world, in which everyone has the right to a reasonable standard of living and in which resources can be conserved. At present, a cycle of slump and boom characterises western economies, while industrialised former communist countries strive to adapt to market forces, and much of the developing world struggles against poverty and a world economic system loaded against them.
Ultimately, Bahá'ís believe that all the world's population will become a united community, diverse in their national and individual characteristics, but co-operating in one shared world civilisation. This civilisation will be based on justice. All trade barriers will be removed, a common system of weights and measures adopted, a world currency established and interest rates set at a fair level. These measures would foster trade between countries and remove many of the difficulties faced by less developed nations.
"The essence of the matter is that Divine Justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life." (2)
Work and the Individual
"It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organisation of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilising such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood." (3)
Profit-sharing is advocated as a general principle, allowing workers to have a greater role and interest in their employment:
"According to the Divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work." (5)
Implicit in this is a partnership between capital and labour. Employee/employer relations should be based on spiritual principles, backed up by laws which are just to both sides:
"The mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and impartial laws." (6)
Redistribution of Wealth
"Absolute equality in fortunes, honours, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in chaos, in disorganisation of the means of existence, and in universal disappointment; the order of the community would be quite destroyed." (7)
The Role of the Local Community
Economic progress depends on a balance between the needs of the different members of the community. In the Bahá'í view, this will work better as mankind evolves a proper community spirit, and local communities are allowed freedom of initiative. Although many Bahá'í teachings are clearly global in application, complete transformation will be from the grass roots:
Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, reminds us that agriculture is essentially the most important industry. Bahá'u'lláh's son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, gave an example of how the system of local finance should work, based on an agricultural community. The principle is the same for towns and cities, but operating on a more directly financial basis.
As weather conditions vary from year to year, it is recommended that each village has a local storehouse, where a certain percentage of the harvest is kept. This would be under the control of the local authority, which would also receive income from a graduated income tax. It would also receive a proportion of the income from any mining operations in the area.
Great importance is put upon a detailed system of financial support, administered by the local authority. A family whose income exceeds its needs is taxed, but a family which does not earn enough to support itself is supported by the local community.
Each local community would contribute to the national funds, if it could afford to do so, but could also be supported by national funds if necessary. The same principle would apply at international level.
The details of how this system will operate will clearly vary from one community to another, and from one time to another.
In the Bahá'í Writings, great importance is given to voluntary sharing of wealth. Voluntary contributions form part of the income of the local authority. Concern for one's fellow beings is essential to the Bahá'í approach.
When people become citizens of the world, voluntary giving will be on a larger scale than at present:
"The time will come in the near future when humanity will become so much more sensitive than at present that the man of great wealth will not enjoy his luxury, in comparison with the deplorable poverty about him. He will be forced, for his own happiness, to expend his wealth to procure better conditions for the community in which he lives." (9)
The many specific recommendations relating to economic questions to be found in the Bahá'í Writings cannot each successfully operate alone. For example, the system of financial support can only work properly when people are generally honest, and profit-sharing schemes depend upon mutual trust and goodwill.
Although the implementation of certain economic principles could improve the lot of humanity, it is only when the need for justice and social equality is universally recognised that the full impact can be achieved, for in reality:
"The secrets of the whole economic question are Divine in nature, and are concerned with the world of the heart and spirit." (10)
Published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.Approved by the National the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27, Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD.
1) “This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 240)
2) “The essence of the matter is that divine justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs, and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132)
3) “It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood.” (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 192)
4) “It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others.” (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 26)
5) “According to the divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work.” Abdul-Baha (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 145)
6) “But the mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and impartial laws.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 276)
7) “However, absolute equality is just as impossible, for absolute equality in fortunes, honors, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in disorderliness, in chaos, in disorganization of the means of existence, and in universal disappointment: the order of the community would be quite destroyed.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 274)
8) Cannot confirm this quote.
9) Found similar quote: “For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, "It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community," and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.” (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 239)
10) “The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit.”(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238)