July 1, 2013

The Supreme Affliction: A Study in Baha’i Economics and Socialization – by Alfred E. Lunt

[This article which was passed by the Reviewing Committee was originally printed in Star of the West, vol. 23, no. 3, June 1932 at the request of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada. It was noted that it presents a very complete treatment of the economic plight in which the world finds itself as of 1932, and describes the perfect solution as found in The Order of Baha'u'llah.] [For a brief biography about Alfred Lunt please visit Baha'i Heroes and Heroines]

The Primal Necessities
God has created hunger and thirst, the need of warmth and shelter as essentials of the very existence of the human race, and deposited within man an ever present consciousness of these needs. Throughout the countless ages of man's occupation of the earth, these necessities have, to an over- whelming degree, been his taskmasters, the seat of his ambitions, the source of his joys and sorrows. Since food, drink and housing are vital needs of his physical existence, and have never been attainable except through individual effort -- these primitive needs have wielded an enormous influence in the history, progress and destiny of our race. In the hope of gold, men have yielded life. For the power of money to purchase necessities, men have frequently laid aside honor, and have not fallen short of commission of detestable crimes. The dethronement of God, in the human consciousness and the enthronement of gold as a idol, is not a mere play upon words in the past and present history of the race.

The Unbalanced Distribution of Necessities
As the individuals of society, because this primitive urge, identified happiness with the possession of the goods of this world, and tasted of the power that comes the attainment of property in excess of their actual needs, the distribution of means gradually becomes unbalanced. This unbalanced distribution, however, is by no means a modern phenomenon. The emergence of humanity from the patriarchal state marked the taking on of individual responsibility for livelihood, and was the signal for a steady encroachment upon property by the more capable, more ambitious, or more unscrupulous members of society. We must remember that up to comparatively recent times, huge masses of humanity were either slaves, possessing no right to property of any kind; serfs, with an inchoate right at best to a meager ownership; or feudatories, holding their fiefs, lands or properties conditioned strictly upon an oath of unrestricted service to their lord or baron. As a consequence, the favored classes held all property in their sway, and vied with each other, often by private war or foray, to attain larger and larger possessions. Many of the medieval wars had their rise in these inordinate contentions of barons and princes, in which the hapless serf or feudatory bore the brunt of the fighting.