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Our Philosophy – Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr

III The Islamic System: the Proper Treatment of the Problem [16]

The world has two options for driving off the above-mentioned danger and for erecting the principles of a stable society. The first option is to replace the present human nature by another nature -that is, to create in people a new nature that makes them sacrifice their personal interests and the material acquisitions of their limited lives for the sake of society and its interests. They do this with the conviction that there are no values other than material values, and no gains other than the gains of this limited life. This can be accomplished only if self-love is stripped away from the heart of their nature and is replaced by social love. Thus, human beings would be born without self-love, except inasmuch as they constitute a part of society, and without taking pleasure in their happiness and interests, except inasmuch as their happiness and interests represent an aspect of the general happiness and the social interests. The instinct of social love would then insure in a mechanical manner and procedure effort-making in the direction of achieving social interests and fulfilling social requirements.

The second option open to humankind for eliminating the danger threatening the present and future human generations is to develop people’s materialistic notion of life. (p. 41) With such a development, human goals and standards would naturally develop, and the miracle would be accomplished in the easiest way possible.

The first option is the one that the communist leaders dream of realizing for the future human race. They promise the world chat they will reconstruct mankind in such away as to enable thorn to move mechanically in the service of society and its interests. Further, in order to accomplish this great deed, we must entrust them with world leadership, as one would encrust the surgeon

with the fate of the patient and delegate to him the cure of the patient, the amputation of the sick parts of his body and the readjusting of the misaligned parts. No one knows the length of time required for such an operation, which places mankind under the surgeon’s dissecting knife. People’s surrender to that operation is the greatest evidence for the extent of the injustice they have suffered under the capitalistic democratic system, which, in the last analysis, deceived them with alleged freedom, stripped them of their dignity, and sucked their blood in order to serve it as a tasty drink to the representative ruling group.

The idea of this point, which advocates treating the problem by developing and reconstructing human nature, relies on the Marxist notion of self-love. Marxism holds that self-love is neither a natural inclination nor an instinctive phenomenon in the human nature. Rather, it is a product of the social condition that rests on the ground of private ownership. The social condition of private ownership is what constitutes the spiritual and internal content of the human being, and creates in the individual his love for his personal interests and individual benefits. Thus, if a revolution occurred with regard to the principles on which the social structure is established, and if private ownership were replaced by social and socialistic ownership, the revolution would be reflected in all aspects of society and in the innermost being of people. With this, the individual feelings of a human being would be turned into social feelings, and his love for his personal interests and benefits into a love for the social benefits and interests. This would be in accordance with (p. 42) the law of concordance between the state of basic ownership and all the superstructural phenomena that are regulated in accordance with the ownership.

In fact, this Marxist notion of self-love views, in a reverse order, the relation between individual reality (the instinct of self-love) and social conditions. If this were not so, then how could it hold that the individualistic motivation is the product of private ownership and class conflicts that result from this kind of ownership? But if people did not already have individualistic motivation, they would not have created such conflicts, nor would they have thought of private ownership and exclusive personal possessions: Why would a human being seek exclusive power over the acquisitions of the system and employ this power in a manner that preserves his interests at the expense of others, if he does not deeply feel an individualistic motivation? In reality, the social manifestations of selfishness in the economic and political fields are nothing but a result of individualistic motivation which in turn is a result of self-love. Thus, this kind of motivation is deeper in human nature than the social phenomena of selfishness. [17] Hence, it is impossible to remove it and root it out by removing those manifestations. An operation of this sort is simply a substitution of certain manifestations by some other manifestations chat may differ from them in shape and form, but agree in substance and reality.

Add to this that if we explain objectively the individualistic motivation, [which is the result of] the instinct of self-love, [18] as a reflection of the phenomena of individualism, such as the phenomenon of private ownership in the social system (as Marxism does) this would not mean that, by the removal of private ownership, the individualistic motivation will lose its objective source, as well as its cause, which is grounded in the social system. This is because, even though it is a phenomenon marked by the individualistic character, nevertheless it is not the only one of its kind. There is, for example, the phenomenon of private administration which is retained even in the socialistic system. For even though the socialistic system eliminates private ownership of the means of production, still it does not eliminate the private administration of these means by members of the ruling group who practice (p. 43) the proletarian dictatorship, and monopolize the supervision over all the means of production as welt as over the management of them. After all, it is not possible that at the time of their nationalization the means of production can be administered by all the individuals of society in a collective and socialistic manner.

Therefore, the socialistic system retains prominent individualistic phenomena. It is natural for these individualistic phenomena to preserve the individualistic motivation and to reflect it continuously in the innermost human nature, as did the phenomenon of private ownership.

Thus, we now know the value of the first option for solving the problem that is, the communistic option which considers the cancellation of legislating private ownership and its removal from the legal records as alone sufficient for developing human nature and solving the problem. [19]

Regarding the second option discussed earlier, it is the option pursued by Islam, due to its conviction that the only solution for the problem is to modify the human materialistic notion of life. Thus, Islam did not begin with the cancellation of private ownership. Rather, it assaulted the materialistic notion of life and posited, instead, a new notion of life. On the basis of this new notion, Islam established a system in which the individual is not considered as a mechanical tool in the social system, nor society as an organization established for the sake of the individual. Rather, is gave to each – the individual and society -their rights and insured for the individual both his spiritual and material dignity.

Islam put its finger on the real source of the illness in the social system of democracy and in other similar systems. Thus, is eradicated this source in a manner concordant with human nature. [According to Islam], the basic central point due to which human life was crowded with various kinds of misery and different forms of tragedy is the materialistic view of life which we can summarize in the following brief statements. ‘The assumption of human life in this world is all that should count. Further, personal interest should be set up as the standard of all action and activity.’

According to Islam, capitalistic democracy is a system destined for definite collapse and failure; however, this not by reason of the claims of the communist economy concerning the contradiction (p. 44) that are natural to the capital and the destructive factors inherent in private ownership. This is because Islam diverges from the notions and dialectical method of such a claim in its logical method, in its political economy and in its social philosophy. This was pointed out in the book lqtisaduna (Our Economy). It insures the placing individual ownership in a social plan free from those alleged contradictions.

According to Islamic doctrine, the failure and painful condition that afflicted capitalistic democracy can be ascribed to the purely materialistic notions of this kind of democracy. People cannot be happy under a system whose essence is drawn from such notions and whose general ideas are derived from the spirit of these notions and at their directions.

It is necessary, therefore, to be assisted by something other than the materialistic notions of the universe from which the social system can be drawn. It is also necessary to have sound political awareness based on sound notions of life, upholding the greatest human cause, making an effort to achieve this cause on the basis of these notions, and studying the world problems from this point of view. When this sort of political awareness is fully achieved in the world, when it prevails over every other political awareness, and when is assaults every notion of life that does not agree with its main principle, it becomes possible for the world to enter a new life shining with light and full of happiness.

This profound political awareness is the real message for peace in the world. Further, this message for salvation is the eternal message of Islam which drew its social system – that differs from any ocher system we have discussed – from a new ideological principle of life and the universe.

By means of this ideological principle, Islam provided human beings with the cornet view of life. Thus, it made them believe that their lives proceed from a principle which is absolutely perfect, and that their lives prepare them for a world free from hardship and misery. Besides, Islam set up a new moral criterion for human beings (p. 45) [with which they may evaluate] all the steps they take and all the stages they cross, this criterion being the satisfaction of God, be He exalted. Therefore, not everything dictated by personal interest is permissible, and not everything that leads to a personal loss is prohibited and in bad taste. Rather, the goat that Islam set up for human beings in their lives is the divine satisfaction, and the moral criterion by means of which all actions must be weighed is only a measure of this glorified goal that these actions can achieve. The righteous human being is one who achieves this goal. And the complete Islamic personality is the one which, in its various advances, moves by the guidance of this goal, in light of this criterion and within its general scope.

This transformation of people’s moral notions, criteria and objectives does not signify a change in human nature and a new development of it, as was intended by the communist idea. For self-love -that is, the love that a human being has for himself – as well as the fulfillment of the specific desires of this self, are natural to human beings. We do not know of any inductive reasoning in any empirical field clearer than the inductive reasoning experienced by people in their long history that proves the essential character of self-love. Indeed, if self-love were not natural and essential to humankind, earlier human beings (that is, those who lived before any social formation) would not have been driven to satisfy their needs, to repel dangers from themselves, and to pursue their desires through primitive methods by means of which they preserved their lives and continued their existence. This resulted in their plunging themselves into a social life and merging in relations with others for the purpose of fulfilling those needs and repelling those dangers. Since self-love enjoys such a [prime] position in the human nature, what decisive solution for the great human problem must be established on the basis of accepting this reality? If such a solution is based on the notion of the development of this reality or on overcoming it, then it is an idealistic treatment for which there is no room in the practical realm of human life. (p. 46)

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