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Our Philosophy – Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr

The Tragedies of the Capitalistic System

If we wished to present the links in the chain of social tragedies that resulted from this system, which is neither well studied, nor philosophically based, there would be no room for doing so in the space designated for the present discussion. Because of this, we will [only] make a brief allusion to this point.

The first of these links is the following. The majority governed the minority, their vital interests and affairs. Political freedom meant that the majority had the prerogative to lay down the system and its laws (p. 22), as well as their management. Let us imagine that the group which represents the nation’s majority seizes the reins of power and legislation, and adopts the capitalistic democratic mentality which is purely materialistic in its orientation, inclinations, purposes and desires. What then would be the fate of the other group? Or what life would you expect for the minority under laws legislated with the majority and the preservation of its interests in mind? Would it be strange for the majority to legislate laws, particularly in light of its own welfare, to neglect the welfare of the minority, and to turn toward fulfilling its desires in a manner unjust to others? Then who would preserve the minority’s vital structure, and defend it against injustice, if personal interest is the [sole] concern of every individual, and if the majority’s social mentality lacks the notion of spiritual and moral values? It is natural that under (this) system, the despotic rule continues as before, and that the phenomena of manipulation and neglect of the rights and interests of others persist in the social atmosphere of this system as they did in the old social atmosphere. Put briefly, the difference [between the present and the old systems] is that neglect of human dignity arose [in the older systems] because of individuals in the nation; while in the present system, it arises because of groups that represent majorities in relation to minorities. [But] the totality [of these minorities] constitutes a large number of people.

I wish the matter ended there. (Had it not gone beyond that) the tragedy would have been less and the stage would have witnessed more laughter than tears. However, the matter became more grave and intense after that, when the economic issue arose in this system. Thus, it determined the economic freedom along the lines discussed earlier. It allowed various methods and kinds of [acquiring] wealth, regardless of how exorbitant the wealth is, and regardless of how deviant it is in its methods and reasons. It also secured the realization of what it had advocated at the same time as the world witnessed a great industrial revolution, and when science became the product of the birth of the machine that changed the face of industry and swept away manual labor and the like. Thus, bountiful wealth came to (p. 23) a minority of the nation’s individuals who were given the opportunity to utilize the modern means of production, [9] and who were supplied by unlimited capitalistic freedom that provided sufficient assurances for exploiting these means of production and benefiting from them to a great extent, as well as for destroying many groups in the nation whose industry was swept away and whose lives were shaken by the steam engine, and who found no way to stand steadfast in the face of this storm, as long as the lords of modern industries were armed by economic freedom and the rights to the glorified freedom of these industries. The scene became the sole province of an elite of the lords of industry and production. The middle class became smaller and grew closer to the general lower class. This left the destroyed majority at the mercy of that elite whose thoughts and considerations were consistent with the capitalistic democratic method only. It was natural for this wealthy elite to withhold compassion and charity from this large group of people, in order to keep them in the abyss and deny them a share in the elite’s own exorbitant profits. Why should the elite not do so, as long as the ethical criteria are benefit and pleasure; as long as the state secures for them absolute freedom of action; and as long as the capitalistic democratic system has no room for a moral philosophy of life and its specific concepts?

The issue must, therefore, be studied in a manner inspired by this system. These powerful persons exploit the majority’s need for them, and their life supports. Thus, those who were capable were required to work in the elite’s fields and factories for an extremely long time; and for salaries sufficient only for the necessities of life.

This is the pure reasoning of benefit. It was natural for the elite to adopt it, thus dividing the nation into a group of immense wealth and a majority in the deep abyss.

Here, the political right of the nation is crystallized once again in a different form. Even though equality of political rights among individual citizens, for example, was not erased from the records of the system, nevertheless, after such tremors, it was nothing other than a figment of the imagination or a mere thought. For when economic freedom records the results that we have presented, it leads to the abominable division (p. 24), Mentioned above. Further, it would itself be in control of the situation and of the reins of power, and would overcome the political freedom confronting it. Thus, by virtue of its economic position regarding society, its capacity for utilizing every means of propaganda, and its ability to buy defenders and aids, the capitalistic group has the upper hand over key positions [10] in the nation. It assumes power in order to exploit it for its own welfare and for the pursuit of its aims. Legislation and the social system come under the control of capitalism when, according to democratic notions, they are the right of the nation as a whole. Thus, in the last analysis, capitalistic democracy is reduced to rule by a privileged minority, and to power used by a number of individuals to protect their existence at the expense of others. This they do by means of the benefit mentality which they derive from capitalistic democratic thought.

We arrive now at the most abominable link in the tragedy played by this system. Those gentlemen in whose hands the capitalistic democratic system places full power and to whom it supplies every force and capacity, will extend their vision -inspired by the mentality of this system – to wider horizons. Also, inspired by their welfare and aims, they will feel in need of new areas of power. Two reasons account for this. First, the availability of production depends on the extent of the availability and abundance of raw materials. Thus, he who has a large share of such materials also has productive capacities chat are large and strong. Such materials are spread all over the vast, God-given earth. If it is necessary to obtain them, it is necessary to control the land that has them, in order to absorb and exploit them.

Second, the intensity and strength of the movement of production motivated, on the one hand, by the protection of profit and, on the other hand, by the fall in the standard of living of many citizens due to the materialistic ambitions of the capitalistic group and its domination over the rights of the general public through their self-interested methods which make the citizens incapable of (p. 25) purchasing and consuming products create big producers who are greatly in need of new markets to sell the surplus products existing in the markets. Finding such new markets means chinking of a new country. Thus, the issue is studied with a purely materialistic mentality. It is natural for such a mentality whose system is not based on spiritual and moral values, and whose social doctrines admit no ends except those that bring pleasure to this limited life in various delights and objects of desire, to see in these two reasons a justification or a logical formula for assaulting and dishonoring peaceful countries, in order to control their fate and their large natural resources, and to exploit their wealth to promote surplus products. All of this is reasonable and permissible, according to the notion of individual interests on which the capitalistic system and the free economy are based. From there, gigantic materialism proceeds to raid and fight, to restrict and shackle, to colonize and exploit in order to please the appetites and to satisfy the desires.

Reflect on how much the human race has suffered from the calamities of this system due to its materialistic spirit, form, tactics and purposes. This is so, even though it does not center on a well-defined philosophy which is in agreement with that spirit and form, and concordant with such tactics and purposes, as we have pointed out.

Estimate for yourself the lot of a society established on the basis of this system and its conceptions of happiness and stability. In this society, mutual love and confidence, real merry and compassion, as well as all good, spiritual tendencies art totally absent. Thus, in it the individual lives feeling that he is responsible for himself alone, and that he is endangered by any interests of others that may cash with his. It is as if he is engaged in a constant struggle and a continuous fight, equipped with no weapons other than his personal powers, and provided with no purposes other than his personal interests. (p. 26)

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