Social Action

Human rights, community development and the like

Capitalism: No longer a love story

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Of Americans under the age of 30:

  • 33% prefer socialism over capitalism
  • 37% prefer capitalism
  • 30% are undecided

These statistics, from a 2009 Rasmussen telephone survey, were cited in Michael Moore’s latest documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story“.

At a glance these figures are surprising, coming as they do from the country that has historically prided itself in being the champion of free market capitalism. They reflect just how badly the financial crises of the last 2 years has shaken young people’s confidence in the once impregnable fortresses symbolised by New York’s Wall Street and the Square Mile in London. With jobs in short supply and a startlingly high ratio of unemployed university graduates, the sense of disillusionment is palpable. And it hasn’t just been the youth. World leaders have been forced to sit up and scrutinise elements of a system that has lead to senseless exploitation of the masses, gross disparities between the rich and poor and blatantly unjust practices by individuals and corporations alike.

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Socialist Musings

My last post got me thinking about socialism, and how all of the worlds religions promote socialism at the basic level. Islam has the Zakat which must be paid by every Muslim who is financially able to do so. I believe the consensus of scholars is that the amount is 2.5% of leftover wealth after all expenses for his/her lifestyle is covered. There is a doctrine called “making the world a better a place” in Judaism, and is one of the highest commandments. The only day where there is exemption from this is on Saturday, the Sabbath (Shabbat.) In Christian mysticism, there is the belief in the “poor Christ” where Jesus Christ will manifest himself as a povery stricken person seeking aid to test those who claim to follow his teachings....

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Pluralist society

This is in response to Pluralist Society is an Unethical Rabble on another Bahai blog on WordPress, Owen’s Meanderings. Owen says he is:

The sodomites are smitten with a blindness

“increasingly reminded of that famous biblical story about Sodom and Gommorroh,” … the men and women who sit in government seats must take their share of the blame for the inequities within a nation. However increasingly I have realized that the person living in my street is likely to be twice a corrupt as a politician. … There seems to be very few people who have self-regulating ethical decision-making process. ..

They would say, “this is the way of a pluralist society, the secular society.” … so this rabble of millions of people require a watch dog over everything they do, … This rabble has no ethical education nor any commitment. They do not learn the lessons of yesterday’s generation, nor develop any new insights for today’s problems. … every time anyone of us need a watch dog to ensure we do the fair thing by others in our society, we are the fault for an inadequate governance in our democracy. If our need for a watch dog continues to increase as it seems to need, nations are eventually not going to be able to afford both progress and the watchdogs. At that stage, democracies will stagnate and fall. With luck, as dogs-eat-dogs amidst the chaos of nation-state failures, a transformed mind-set will be raised. But how many lives will need to be lost. ….There is no leadership out there in pluralist society, just a cacophony of voices asking, unfairly, for more for themselves.

{josquote}...the state has a stake in fostering those that do in fact produce virtuous citizens...{/josquote}

I disagree profoundly.

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Supporting Iranian prisoners of conscience

To mark the Persian spring holiday of Nowrouz, Amnesty International has launched a campaign to send messages of goodwill to prisoners of conscience in Iran.

The seven cases selected by Amnesty International mirror the “Haft Sin” (seven “s”s) traditionally placed on a Nowrouz table.

The 14 individuals in the seven cases have all been identified as being “at risk”. Many have been sentenced to long prison terms for their beliefs or peaceful activism and several are in poor health.

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“Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative..."

{josquote}...a comprehensive policy of constructive engagement with religions and religious actors abroad, indicating whom to engage, how to help them succeed, what vocabulary to use, and what the limits of such engagement are...{/josquote}

Scott Appleby has an op-ed piece on The Immanent Frame today which picks out the significance of the shift in America’s foreign policy approach to religion signalled by President Obama in Cairo last June. He is himself partly responsible for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ report, “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy,” released on Tuesday, so he’s in a good position to cut through the verbiage.

I hope that he’s right – that the potentially constructive role of religious networks and communities, long recognised by NGOs working for peace and development, will also become part of the foreign policy terms of reference.

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