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Results of the Labor Struggle
1. WHEN "An Employer's View of the Labor Question" was written, labor and capital were at peace, each performing its proper function; capital providing for the wants of labor, and labor regularly discharging its daily task. But before that paper reached the public the most serious labor revolt that ever occurred in this country was upon us. Capital, frightened almost into panic, began to draw back into its strongholds, and many leaders of public opinion seemed to lose self-command. Among the number were not a few of our foremost political economists. These writers of the closet, a small but important class in this country removed from personal contact with every-day affairs, and uninformed of the solid
basis of virtue in the wage-receiving class upon which American society rests, necessarily regarded such phenomena from a purely speculative standpoint. Some of them apparently thought that the fundamental institutions upon which peaceful development depends had been, if not completely overthrown, at least gravely endangered, and that civilization itself had received a rude shock from the disturbance. More than one did not hesitate to intimate that the weakness of democratic institutions lay at the foundation of the revolt. Suggestions were made that the suffrage should be confined to the educated; that the masses might be held in stricter bonds. When we hear the cry of these alarmists we are tempted to reverse the rebuke of the sacred Teacher: they are always troubled more by the mote in their own country's eye than by the beam in the eye of other lands. They forget that not sixty days before, monarchical Belgium was convulsed with labor revolts, compared with which ours were insignificant and practically harmless. That country, with its five and a half millions of inhabitants, had more rioters than the United States, with its fifty-six millions; and instead of restoring peace, as this country did, by means of the established forms of order, the Belgian government had to abandon, for a time, all law, and publicly authorize every citizen to wage private war against the insurgents.
The Baha'i Commonwealth of the future, of which this
vast Administrative Order is the sole framework, is, both in theory
and practice, not only unique in the entire history of political
institutions, but can find no parallel in the annals of any of the
world's recognized religious systems. No form of democratic
government; no system of autocracy or of dictatorship, whether
monarchical or republican; no intermediary scheme of a purely
aristocratic order; nor even any of the recognized types of
theocracy, whether it be the Hebrew Commonwealth, or the various
Christian ecclesiastical organizations, or the Imamate or the
Caliphate in Islam--none of these can be identified or be said to
conform with the Administrative Order which the master-hand of its
perfect Architect has fashioned. (World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, page
Now concerning our social principles, namely the
teachings of His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh spread far and wide fifty years
ago, they verily
comprehend all other teachings. It is clear and evident that without
these teachings progress and advancement for mankind are in no wise
possible. Every community in the world findeth in these Divine Teachings
the realization of its highest aspirations. These teachings are even as
the tree that beareth the best fruits of all trees. Philosophers, for
instance, find in these heavenly teachings the most perfect solution of
their social problems, and similarly a true and noble exposition of
matters that pertain to philosophical questions. In like manner men of
faith behold the reality of religion manifestly revealed in these
heavenly teachings, and clearly and conclusively prove them to be the
real and true remedy for the ills and infirmities of all mankind. Should
these sublime teachings be diffused, mankind shall be freed from all
perils, from all chronic ills and sicknesses. In like manner are the
Baha'i economic principles the embodiment of the highest aspirations of
all wage-earning classes and of economists of various schools.
In short, all sections and parties have their aspirations
realized in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. As these teachings are
declared in churches, in mosques and in other places of worship, whether
those of the followers of Buddha or of Confucius, in political circles
or amongst materialists, all shall bear witness that these teachings
bestow a fresh life upon mankind and constitute the immediate remedy for
all the ills of social life. None can find fault with any of these
teachings, nay rather, once declared they will all be acclaimed, and all
will confess their vital necessity, exclaiming, `Verily this is the
truth and naught is there beside the truth but manifest error.'
In conclusion, these few words are written, and unto everyone they will
be a clear and conclusive evidence of the truth. Ponder them in thine
heart. The will of every sovereign prevaileth during his reign, the will
of every philosopher findeth expression in a handful of disciples during
his lifetime, but the Power of the Holy Spirit shineth radiantly in the
realities of the Messengers of God, and strengtheneth Their will in such
wise as to influence a great nation for thousands of years and to
regenerate the human soul and revive mankind. Consider how great is this
power! It is an extraordinary Power, an all-sufficient proof of the
truth of the mission of the Prophets of God, and a conclusive
evidence of the power of Divine Inspiration. (ABDU'L-BAHA'S TABLET TO
DR. FOREL, p. 26-28)
In short, all sections and parties have their aspirations realized in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. As these teachings are declared in churches, in mosques and in other places of worship, whether those of the followers of Buddha or of Confucius, in political circles or amongst materialists, all shall bear witness that these teachings bestow a fresh life upon mankind and constitute the immediate remedy for all the ills of social life. None can find fault with any of these teachings, nay rather, once declared they will all be acclaimed, and all will confess their vital necessity, exclaiming, `Verily this is the truth and naught is there beside the truth but manifest error.'
In conclusion, these few words are written, and unto everyone they will be a clear and conclusive evidence of the truth. Ponder them in thine heart. The will of every sovereign prevaileth during his reign, the will of every philosopher findeth expression in a handful of disciples during his lifetime, but the Power of the Holy Spirit shineth radiantly in the realities of the Messengers of God, and strengtheneth Their will in such wise as to influence a great nation for thousands of years and to regenerate the human soul and revive mankind. Consider how great is this power! It is an extraordinary Power, an all-sufficient proof of the truth of the mission of the Prophets of God, and a conclusive evidence of the power of Divine Inspiration. (ABDU'L-BAHA'S TABLET TO DR. FOREL, p. 26-28)
2. Our magazines, reviews, and newspapers have been filled with plans involving radical changes considered necessary by these socialists for the restoration and maintenance of proper relations between capital and labor. The pulpit has been equally prolific. Thirty days have not elapsed since the excitement was at its height, and yet to-day capital and labor are again cooperating everywhere, as at the date of my first paper, and we are now in position to judge of the extent of the disturbance and to reduce the specter to its real dimensions. It will soon be seen that what occurred was a very
inadequate cause for the alarm created. The eruption was not, in itself, a very serious matter, either in its extent or in its consequences. Its lesson lay in the indications it gave of the forces underlying it. There are in the United States today a total of more than twenty millions of workers who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow; in trade and transportation alone there are more than seven millions. At the very height of the revolt, not more than 250,000 of these had temporarily ceased to labor. This was the estimate given by "Bradstreet's" on the 14th of May. Three days later it was 80,000, and four days after that only 47,000. The remaining millions continued to pursue their usual vocations in peace. It is fair to assume that the number reported on the 14th of May included all those who were dissatisfied and had requested advance of wages or redress of grievances, but were not really strikers at all. A demonstration that shrinks to one fourth its size from the 14th to the 17th of May, and then again to one half its remaining proportions in the next three days, can scarcely be called a contest. The number of those involved in a serious struggle with capital did not, therefore, at any one time exceed 50,000 - not one per cent of the total wage-receiving class, in the brandies where labor troubles occurred. How then, one is tempted to ask, did so small an interruption seem so great? Why was it taken for granted that a general revolt of labor had taken place, when not one worker in a hundred had really entered upon a contest? The reason for the delusion is obvious. The omnipresent press, with the electric telegraph at its command, spreads the report of a local disturbance in East St. Louis over the entire three million square miles of the land.
distinctly in New Orleans, Boston, and San Francisco as in the city of St. Louis itself, upon the opposite side of the river. The thoughts of men throughout the country concentrate upon this one point of outbreak. Excitable natures fancy the trouble to be general, and even imagine that the very ground trembles under their own feet. In this way the petty, local difficulty upon the Wabash system of railways, which involved only 3700 Knights of Labor, and a strike of a few hundred men on the Third Avenue Railway, New York, together with a few trifling and temporary disputes at other points, were magnified into a general war-fare between capital and labor. There were but a few local skirmishes; peace already reigns; and our professors and political economists and the whole school of pessimists who tremble for the safety of human society in general, and of the Republic in particular, and the ministers that have bodily essayed to revolutionize existing conditions, are free to find another subject for their anxious fears and forebodings. The relations between capital and labor which have slowly evolved themselves in the gradual development of the race will not be readily changed. The solid walls with which humanity fortifies itself in each advanced position gained in its toilsome march forward will not fall to the ground at the blast of trumpets. Present conditions have grown up slowly, and can be changed for the better only slowly and by small, successive steps. A short history of the disturbances will, however, furnish many useful and needed lessons.
We return to the phenomenal characteristics of speech.
Content, volume, style, tact, wisdom, timeliness are among the
critical factors in determining the effects of speech for good or
Consequently, the friends need ever to be conscious of the significance of this activity which so distinguishes human beings from other forms of life, and they must exercise it judiciously.
Their efforts at such discipline will give birth to an etiquette of expression worthy of the approaching maturity of the human race.
Just as this discipline applies to the spoken word, it applies equally to the written word; and it profoundly affects the operation of the press.
The significance and role of the press in a new world system are conspicuous in the emphasis which the Order of Bahá'u'lláh places on accessibility to information at all levels of society.
Shoghi Effendi tells us that Bahá'u'lláh makes "specific reference to `the swiftly appearing newspapers', describes them as `the mirror of the world' and as `an amazing and potent phenomenon', and prescribes to all who are responsible for their production the duty to be sanctified from malice, passion and prejudice, to be just and fair-minded, to be painstaking in their inquiries, and ascertain all the facts in every situation".
In His social treatise, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", `Abdu'l-Baha offers insight as to the indispensability of the press in future society.
He says it is "urgent that beneficial articles and books be written, clearly and definitely establishing what the present-day requirements of the people are, and what will conduce to the happiness and advancement of society".
Further, He writes of the "publication of high thoughts" as the "dynamic power in the arteries of life", "the very soul of the world".
Moreover, He states that, "Public opinion must be directed toward whatever is worthy of this day, and this is impossible except through the use of adequate arguments and the adducing of clear, comprehensive and conclusive proofs."
As to manner and style, Bahá'u'lláh has exhorted "authors among the friends" to "write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people".
And He issues a reminder: "We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither."
In the light of all this, the code of conduct of the press must embrace the principles and objectives of consultation as revealed by Bahá'u'lláh.
Only in this way will the press be able to make its full contribution to the preservation of the rights of the people and become a powerful instrument in the consultative processes of society, and hence for the unity of the human race. (Individual Rights & Freedoms, #165-179)
3. The trouble grew, as many serious troubles do grow, from a trifle. A leader of the Knights of Labor was dismissed.
Whether the fact that he was a labor leader influenced his superior to dismiss him will probably never be known; but this much is to be said, that it was very likely to do so. Salaried officials in the service of large corporations are naturally disposed to keep under them only such men as give them no trouble.
How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders of
human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit of the age,
are striving to adjust national processes, suited to the ancient days
of self-contained nations to an age which must either achieve the
unity of the world, as adumbrated by Bahá'u'lláh, or perish. At so
critical an hour in the history of civilization it behoves the
leaders of all the nations of the world, great and small, whether in
the East or in the West, whether victors or vanquished, to give heed
to the clarion call of Bahá'u'lláh and, thoroughly imbued with a
sense of world solidarity, the sine qua non of loyalty to His Cause,
arise manfully to carry out in its entirety the one remedial scheme
He, the Divine Physician, has
prescribed for an ailing humanity. Let them discard, once for all, every
preconceived idea, every national prejudice, and give heed to the
sublime counsel of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the authorized Expounder of His
teachings. You can best serve your country, was `Abdu'l-Bahá's
rejoinder to a high official in the service of the federal government
of the United States of America, who had questioned Him as to the
best manner in which he could promote the interests of his government
and people, if you strive, in your capacity as a citizen of the
world, to assist in the eventual application of the principle of
federalism underlying the government of your own country to the
relationships now existing between the peoples and nations of the
world. (Peace, page 21)
That materialistic ideals have, in the light of experience, failed to satisfy the needs of mankind calls for an honest acknowledgement that a fresh effort must now be made to find the solutions to the agonizing problems of the planet. The intolerable conditions pervading society bespeak a common failure of all, a circumstance which tends to incite rather than relieve the entrenchment on every side. Clearly, a common remedial effort is urgently required. It is primarily a matter of attitude. Will humanity continue in its waywardness, holding to outworn concepts and unworkable assumptions? Or will its leaders, regardless of ideology, step forth and, with a resolute will, consult together in a united search for appropriate solutions? (Promise of World Peace, page 6)
4. On the other hand, the safety of its leaders is the key of labor's position. To surrender that is to surrender everything. Even if the leader in question had not been as regularly at work as other men, even if he had to take days now and then to attend to official duties for his brethren, the superior of that man should have dealt very leniently with him. The men cannot know whether their leader is stricken down for proper cause or not; but, at the same time, they cannot help suspecting. And here I call the attention of impartial minds to the elements of manhood and the high sense of honor and loyalty displayed upon the part of working-men who sacrifice so much and throw themselves in the front of the conflict to secure the safety of their standard-bearers. Everything reasonable can be done with men of this spirit. The loyalty which they show to their leaders can be transferred to their employers by treating them as such men deserve. Society has nothing to fear from men so stanch and loyal to one another. Nor is the loyalty shown in this instance exceptional; it distinguishes working-men as a class. Mr. Irons has said that "one hour's gentlemanly courtesy on the part of the manager would have averted all the disaster." Whether this be true or not, the statement should not be overlooked, for it is true that one hour of courtesy on the part of employers would prevent many strikes. Whether the men ask in proper manner for interviews, or observe all the rules of etiquette, is immaterial. We expect from the presumably better-informed party representing capital much more in this respect than from labor; and it is not asking too much of men intrusted with the management of great properties that they should devote some part of their attention to searching out the
causes of disaffection among their employees, and, where any exist, that they should meet the men more than half-way in the endeavor to allay them. There is nothing but good for both parties to be derived from labor teaching the representative of capital the dignity of man, as man. The workingman, becoming more and more intelligent, will hereafter demand the treatment due to an equal.
Say: Let truthfulness and courtesy be your adorning.
Suffer not yourselves to be deprived of the robe of forbearance and
justice, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted from your
hearts upon all created things. Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest
ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.
Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth
the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts
be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they
high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that
ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the
brightness of your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is
the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed
by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. (Bahá'u'lláh,
Gleanings, page 305)
All men have been created to carry forward an
ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act
like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that
befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and
loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.
Say: O friends! Drink your fill from this crystal stream that floweth
through the heavenly grace of Him Who is the Lord of Names. Let
others partake of its waters in My name, that the leaders of men in
every land may fully recognize the purpose for which the Eternal
Truth hath been revealed, and the reason for which they themselves
have been created. (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, page 215)
5. The strikers at first were excusable, even if mistaken, in imagining that their leader had been stricken down; but, under the excitement of conflict, violence was resorted to; and further, an attempt was made to drag into the quarrel railway lines that had nothing to do with it. The men took up these wrong positions and were deservedly driven from them. And labor here received a salutary lesson-namely, that nothing is to be gained by violence and lawlessness, nor by endeavoring to unjustly punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty. Public sentiment, always disposed to side with labor, was with the men at first, but soon finding itself unable to sanction their doings, it veered to the other side. When the strikers lost that indispensable ally they lost all.
STRIKES - You have questioned me about strikes. This question is and
will be for a long time the subject of great difficulties. Strikes
are due to two causes. One is the extreme greed and rapacity of the
manufacturers and industrialists; the other, the excesses, the
avidity and intransigence of the workmen and artisans. It is,
therefore, necessary to remedy these two causes.
But the principal cause of these difficulties lies in the laws of the present civilization; for they lead to a small number of individuals accumulating incomparable fortunes, beyond their needs, while the greater number remain destitute, stripped and in the greatest misery. This is contrary to justice, to humanity, to equity; it is the height of iniquity, the opposite to what causes divine satisfaction.
This contrast is peculiar to the world of man: with other creatures--that is to say, with nearly all animals--there is a kind of justice and equality. Thus equality exists in a shepherd's flock and in a herd of deer in the country. Likewise, among the birds of the prairie, of the plain, of the hills or of the orchard, and among every kind of animal some kind of equality prevails. With them such a difference in the means of existence is not to be found; so they live in the most complete peace and joy.
It is quite otherwise with the human species, which persists in the greatest error, and in absolute iniquity. Consider an individual who has amassed treasures by colonizing a country for his profit: he has obtained an incomparable fortune and has secured profits and incomes which flow like a river, while a hundred thousand unfortunate people, weak and powerless, are in need of a mouthful of bread. There is neither equality nor benevolence. So you see that general peace and joy are destroyed, and the welfare of humanity is negated to such an extent as to make fruitless the lives of many. For fortune, honors, commerce, industry are in the hands of some industrialists, while other people are submitted to quite a series of difficulties and to limitless troubles: they have neither advantages, nor profits, nor comforts, nor peace.
Then rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals and meet the needs of millions of the poor masses; thus a certain moderation would be obtained. 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. Thus difficulties will also arise when unjustified equality is imposed. It is, therefore, preferable for moderation to be established by means of laws and regulations to hinder the constitution of the excessive fortunes of certain individuals, and to protect the essential needs of the masses. For instance, the manufacturers and the industrialists heap up a treasure each day, and the poor artisans do not gain their daily sustenance: that is the height of iniquity, and no just man can accept it. Therefore, laws and regulations should be established which would permit the workmen to receive from the factory owner their wages and a share in the fourth or the fifth part of the profits, according to the capacity of the factory; or in some other way the body of workmen and the manufacturers should share equitably the profits and advantages. Indeed, the capital and management come from the owner of the factory, and the work and labor, from the body of the workmen.
Either the workmen should receive wages which assure them an adequate support and, when they cease work, becoming feeble or helpless, they should have sufficient benefits from the income of the industry; or the wages should be high enough to satisfy the workmen with the amount they receive so that they may themselves be able to put a little aside for days of want and helplessness. (`Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, Pages 274-275)
6. The other branch of the revolt of labor occurred in New York city, where the employees of the Third Avenue Railway struck for fewer hours and better pay. If ever a strike was justifiable this one was. It is simply disgraceful for a corporation to compel its men to work fifteen or sixteen hours a day. Such was the verdict of the public, and the men won a deserved victory. Here again, as at St. Louis, for lack of proper leadership, they went too far; and in their demand for the employment of certain men and the dismissal of others they lost their only sure support - public sentiment. This was compelled to decide against their final demands, and consequently they failed, and deservedly failed. How completely public sentiment, when aroused, compels obedience, as we have seen it did both at St. Louis and in New York city, is further shown by the result of the order, issued June 6, requiring the men of all the city railroads in Brooklyn
and New York to stop work until the striking employees of the Third Avenue line were reinstated. The edict was disregarded by the men themselves, who found that compliance would not be approved by the community, and that, therefore, the attempt would fail. It was an attempt that the worst foe of labor might have instigated.
Trade Unions and Strikes - Guidelines in Respect to Membership in
Trade Unions and Participation in Strikes
"On the question of trade unions the Guardian's secretary made the
following comment on his behalf in a letter dated 2 February 1951.
'Regarding your question about trade unions: The Guardian considers
that this is a matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to advise
the believers on. As long as the trade unions are not members of any
particular political party, there does not seem to be any objection
to the Baha'is belonging to them.'
"...the British National Spiritual Assembly wrote to the Guardian as
follows: 'In this country the law recognises strikes as legal when
called by properly constituted authorities such as a Trade Union, and
our own understanding is that in such circumstances the Baha'i
teaching, in spite of Abdu'l-Baha's express disapproval of strikes,
neither requires nor forbids an individual to strike but leaves him
free to decide for himself in the particular circumstances of his
case what is the proper course of action.'
"The Guardian's secretary replied on his behalf in a letter dated
July 11, 1956: 'As regard strikes, the Guardian feels that your own
understanding of the matter as expressed in your letter is quite
correct, and he does not see the necessity of adding anything to it.
We should avoid becoming rigid and laying down any more rules and
regulations of conduct.'
"Based on the above guidelines, we are to emphasize the following
points. 1. A Baha'i can become a member of a trade union as long as
he is not required to also join a political party. 2. Abdu'l-Baha in
general disapproved of strikes. The Baha'i attitude is that when the
law recognizes strikes as legal, as when called by a properly
constituted authority such as a trade union, the Baha'i teaching
neither requires nor forbids an individual to participate in the
strike but leaves him free to decide for himself what is the proper
course of action in the
"...the British National Spiritual Assembly wrote to the Guardian as follows: 'In this country the law recognises strikes as legal when called by properly constituted authorities such as a Trade Union, and our own understanding is that in such circumstances the Baha'i teaching, in spite of Abdu'l-Baha's express disapproval of strikes, neither requires nor forbids an individual to strike but leaves him free to decide for himself in the particular circumstances of his case what is the proper course of action.'
"The Guardian's secretary replied on his behalf in a letter dated July 11, 1956: 'As regard strikes, the Guardian feels that your own understanding of the matter as expressed in your letter is quite correct, and he does not see the necessity of adding anything to it. We should avoid becoming rigid and laying down any more rules and regulations of conduct.'
"Based on the above guidelines, we are to emphasize the following points. 1. A Baha'i can become a member of a trade union as long as he is not required to also join a political party. 2. Abdu'l-Baha in general disapproved of strikes. The Baha'i attitude is that when the law recognizes strikes as legal, as when called by a properly constituted authority such as a trade union, the Baha'i teaching neither requires nor forbids an individual to participate in the strike but leaves him free to decide for himself what is the proper course of action in the particular circumstances."
7. These were the two chief strikes from which came the epidemic of demands and strikes throughout the country. None of these ebullitions proved of much moment. A rash had broken out upon the body politic, but it was only skin-deep, and disappeared as rapidly as it had come. At a somewhat later date the disturbance took a different form. A demand was made that the hours of labor should be reduced from ten to eight hours a day. To state this demand is to pronounce its fate. Existing conditions are not changed by twenty-per-cent leaps and bounds, and especially in times like these, when business is not even moderately profitable. Such a request simply meant that many employers of labor would not be able to keep their men at work at all. History proves, nevertheless, that the hours of labor are being gradually reduced. The percentage of men working from ten to eleven hours in this country in 1830 was 29.7. These ten-hour workers increased in 1880 to 59.6 per cent of the whole; while the classes who in 1830 worked excessive hours - from twelve to thirteen - constituted 32.5 per cent. In 1880 they were only 14.6 per cent; while the number of men compelled to work between thirteen and fourteen hours, which was in 1830 13.5 per cent, had fallen in 1880 to 2.3 per cent. Those working twelve hours are generally employed in double shifts, night and day. I do not believe that we have reached the limit of this reduction, but I do believe that any permanent reduction will be secured only by the half-hour at a time. If labor be guided by wise counsel, it will ask for reductions of half-hours, and then wait until a reduction to this extent is firmly established, and surrounding circumstances have adjusted themselves to that.
The Master advises the members to "take counsel together in
such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise". He
affirms that: This can be attained when every member expresseth with
absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument.
Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until
matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The
shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing
opinions.... (p. 21)
It is important to note that truth emerges after the "clash" of carefully articulated views (which may well be expressed with enthusiasm and vigour), not from the clash of feelings. A clash of feelings is likely to obscure the truth, while a difference of opinion facilitates the discovery of truth.
'Abdu'l-Baha provides the following advice concerning the manner in which views should be expressed in the course of consultation. It is suggested that this guidance could also pertain to the expression of feelings:
They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one's views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden... (Community Functioning, page 6)
8. In considering the reasonableness of the demand for fewer hours of labor, we must not lose sight of the fact that the American works more hours, on an average, than his fellow in Great Britain. Twenty-three trades in Massachusetts are reported as working sixty hours and seventeen minutes a week, on the average, while the same crafts in Great Britain work only fifty-three hours and fifty minutes, showing that the American works an hour a day longer than his English brother. In British textile factories, the number of working hours in a week ranges from fifty-four to fifty-six. In mines, foundries, and machine-shops, fifty-four hours make a week's work, which is equivalent to nine hours a day, six days a week; but the men, in all cases, work enough overtime each day to insure them a half-holiday on Saturday. In some districts, notably in Glasgow, the men prefer to work two weeks, and make every other Saturday a whole holiday. This gives them an opportunity to leave on early morning trains, on excursions, and to spend Saturday and Sunday with friends. The Allegheny Valley Railroad Company, under the management of my friend Mr. McCargo, introduced the half-Saturday holiday in the shops some time ago, with the happiest results. Mr. McCargo found, by years of experience, that working-men lose about half a day a week. Since the half-holiday was established no more time has been lost than before. The men work five and one half days a week regularly. While they are not paid, of course, for the half-holiday, they could not be induced to give it up. This example should be followed, not only by all the railroads of the country, but by every employer of labor, and should be supported by every man who seeks to improve the condition of the wage-receiving classes.
Then rules and laws should be established to regulate
the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals and meet the
needs of millions of the poor masses; thus a certain moderation would
be obtained. 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. Thus difficulties will also
arise when unjustified equality is imposed. It is, therefore,
preferable for moderation to be established by means of laws and
regulations to hinder the constitution of the excessive fortunes of
certain individuals, and to protect the essential needs of the
masses. For instance, the manufacturers and the industrialists heap
up a treasure each day, and the poor artisans do not gain their daily
sustenance: that is the height of iniquity, and no just man can
accept it. Therefore, laws and regulations should be established
which would permit the workmen to receive from the factory owner
their wages and a share in the fourth or the fifth part of the
profits, according to the capacity of the factory; or in some other
way the body of workmen and the manufacturers should share equitably
the profits and advantages. Indeed, the capital and management come
from the owner of the factory, and the work and labor, from the body
of the workmen. Either the workmen should receive wages which assure
them an adequate support and, when they cease work, becoming feeble
or helpless, they should have sufficient benefits from the income of
the industry; or the wages should be high enough to satisfy the
workmen with the amount they receive so that they may themselves be
able to put a little aside for days of want and helplessness.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, Page 274-275)
9. I venture to suggest to the representatives of labor, however, that before they demand any reduction upon ten hours per day, they should concentrate their efforts upon making ten hours the universal practice, and secure this. At present, every ton of pig-iron made in the world, except at two estab-
lishments, is made by men working in double shifts of twelve hours each, having neither Sunday nor holiday the year round. Every two weeks the day men change to the night shift by working twenty-four hours consecutively. Gas-works, paper-mills, flour-mills, and many other industries, are run by twelve-hour shifts, and breweries exact fifteen hours a day, on an average, from their men. I hold that it is not possible far men working ten hours a day to enlist public sentiment on their side in a demand for the shortening of their task, as long as many of their fellows are compelled to work twelve or more hems a day.
Labor - One of Baha'u'llah's teachings is the adjustment of means of
livelihood in human society. Under this adjustment there can be no
extremes in human conditions as regards wealth and sustenance. For
the community needs financier, farmer, merchant and laborer just as
an army must be composed of commander, officers and privates. All
cannot be commanders; all cannot be officers or privates. Each in his
station in the social fabric must be competent--each in his function
according to ability but with justness of opportunity for all.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 216)
10. The eight-hour movement is not, however, without substantial foundation. Works that run day and night should be operated with three sets of men, each working eight hours. The steel-rail mills in this country are generally so run. The additional cost of the three sets of men has been divided between the workmen and the employers, the latter apparently having to meet an advance of wages to the extent of 16-2/3 per cent, but against this is to be placed the increased product which can be obtained. This is not inconsiderable, especially during the hot months, for it has been found that men working twelve hours a day continuously cannot produce as much per hour as men working eight hours a day; so that, if there be any profit at all in the business, the employer derives some advantage from the greater productive capacity of his works and capital, while the general expenses of the establishment remain practically as they were before. Since electric lighting has been perfected, many establishments which previously could not be run at night can be run with success. I therefore look for a large increase in the number of establishments working men only eight hours, but employing the machinery that now runs only ten hours the entire twenty-four. Each shift, of course, takes turn of each of the three parts into which the twenty-four hours are divided, and thus the lives of the men are rendered
less monotonous and many hours for recreation and self-improvement are obtained.
productive - Not surprisingly, therefore, there is increasing
recognition that the world is in urgent need of a new "work ethic".
Here again, nothing less than insights generated by the creative
interaction of the scientific and religious systems of knowledge can
produce so fundamental a reorientation of habits and attitudes.
Unlike animals, which depend for their sustenance on whatever the
environment readily affords, human beings are impelled to express the
immense capacities latent within them through productive work
designed to meet their own needs and those of others. In acting thus
they become participants, at however modest a level, in the processes
of the advancement of civilization. They fulfill purposes that unite
them with others. To the extent that work is consciously undertaken
in a spirit of service to humanity, Baha'u'llah says, it is a form of
prayer, a means of worshiping God. Every individual has the capacity
to see himself or herself in this light, and
it is to this inalienable capacity of the self that development
strategy must appeal, whatever the nature of the plans being pursued,
whatever the rewards they promise. No narrower a perspective will
ever call up from the people of the world the magnitude of effort and
commitment that the economic tasks ahead will require.
A challenge of similar nature faces economic thinking as a result of the environmental crisis. The fallacies in theories based on the belief that there is no limit to nature's capacity to fulfill any demand made on it by human beings have now been coldly exposed. A culture which attaches absolute value to expansion, to acquisition, and to the satisfaction of people's wants is being compelled to recognize that such goals are not, by themselves, realistic guides to policy. Inadequate, too, are approaches to economic issues whose decision-making tools cannot deal with the fact that most of the major challenges are global rather than particular in scope. (Prosperity of Humankind, page 12)
11. The literature called forth by the recent excitement is preponderatingly favorable to cooperation, or profit-sharing, as the only true remedy for all disputes between labor and capital. My April article has been criticized because it relegated that to the future. But the advocates of this plan should weigh well the fact that the majority of enterprises are not profitable; that most men who embark in business fail-indeed, it is stated that only five in every hundred succeed, and that, with the exception of a few wealthy and partially retired manufacturers, and a very few wealthy corporations, men engaged in business affairs are in the midst of an anxious and increasing struggle to keep their heads above water. How to pay maturing obligations, how to obtain cash for the payment of their men, how to procure orders or how to sell product, and, in not a few instances, how to induce their creditors to be forbearing, are the problems which tax the minds of business men during the dark hours of night, when their employees are asleep. I attach less and less value to the teaching of those doctrinaires who sit in their cozy studies and spin theories concerning the relations between capital and labor, and set before us divers high ideals. The banquet to which they invite the working-man when they propose industrial cooperation is not yet quite prepared, and would prove to most of those who accepted the invitation a Barmecide feast. Taken as a whole, the condition of labor to-day would not be benefited, but positively injured, by cooperation.
profit-shareing - It is by friendly consultation and cooperation, by
just copartnership and profit-sharing, that the interests of both
capital and labor will be best served. The harsh weapons of the
strike and lockout are injurious, not only to the trades immediately
affected, but to the community as a whole. It is, therefore, the
business of the governments to devise means for preventing recourse
to such barbarous methods of settling disputes. 'Abdu'l-Baha said at
Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1912:--
Now I want to tell you about the law of God. According to the divine
law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they
should be partners in every work. The question of socialization is
very difficult. It will not be solved by strikes for wages. All the
governments of the world must be united, and organize an assembly,
the members of which shall be elected from the parliaments and the
noble ones of the nations. These must plan with wisdom and power, so
that neither the capitalists suffer enormous losses, nor the laborers
become needy. In the utmost moderation they should make the law, then
announce to the public that the rights of the working people are to be
effectively preserved; also the rights of the capitalists are to be
protected. When such a general law is adopted, by the will of both
sides, should a strike occur, all the governments of the world should
collectively resist it. Otherwise the work will lead to much
destruction, especially in Europe. Terrible things will take place.
(Bahá'u'lláh & New Era, page 145)
12. Let me point out, however, to the advocates of profit-sharing that ample opportunity already exists for workingmen to become part-owners in almost any department of industrialism, without changing present relations. The great railway corporations, in all cases, as well as the great manufacturing companies generally, are stock concerns, with
shares of fifty or a hundred dollars each, which are bought and sold daily in the market. Not an employee of any of these but can buy any number of shares, and thus participate in the dividends and in the management. That capital is a unit is a popular error. On the contrary, it is made up of hundreds and thousands of small component parts, owned, for the most part, by people of limited means. The Pennsylvania Railway proper, for instance, which embraces only the 350 miles of line between Pittsburg and Philadelphia, is today owned by 19,340 shareholders, in lots of from one fifty-dollar share upward. The New York Central Railway, of 450 miles, between New York and Buffalo, belongs not to one, or two, or several capitalists, but to 10,418 shareholders, of whom about one third are women and executors of estates. The entire railway system of America will show a similar wide distribution of ownership among the People. There are but three railway corporations in which the great capitalists hold a considerable interest; and the interest in two of these is held by various members of a family, and in no case does it amount to the control of the whole. In one of these very cases, the New York Central, as we have seen, there are more than ten thousand owners.
industrialism - The greatest bestowal of God to man is the capacity
to attain human virtues. Therefore, the teachings of religion must be
reformed and renewed because past teachings are not suitable for the
present time. For example, the sciences of bygone centuries are not
adequate for the present because sciences have undergone reform. The
industrialism of the past will not ensure present efficiency because
industrialism has advanced. The laws of the past are being superseded
because they are not applicable to this time. All material conditions
pertaining to the world of humanity have undergone reform, have
achieved development, and the institutes of the past are not to be
compared with those of this age. ('Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of
Universal Peace, page 378)
13. Steel-rail mills, with only one exception, show a like state of affairs. One of them belongs to 215 shareholders; of whom 7 are employees, 32 are estates, and 57 are women. Another of these concerns is owned by 302 stockholders; of whom 101 are women, 29 are estates, representing an unknown number of individuals, and 20 are employees of the company. A large proportion of the remaining owners are small holders of comparatively limited means, who have, from time to time, invested their savings where they had confidence both as to certainty of income and safety of principal. The Merrimac Manufacturing Company (cotton), of Lowell, is owned by 2500 shareholders, of whom forty-two per cent are holders of one share, twenty-one per cent of two, and ten per cent of three shares. Twenty-seven per cent are holders
of over three shares; and not less than thirty-eight per cent. of the whole stock is held by trustees, guardians, and executors of charitable, religious, educational, and financial institutions.
trustees - Since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each
member of the race is born into the world as a trust of the whole.
This trusteeship constitutes the moral foundation of most of the
other rights -- principally economic and social -- which the
instruments of the United Nations are attempting similarly to define.
The security of the family and the home, the ownership of property,
and the right to privacy are all implied in such a trusteeship. The
obligations on the part of the community extend to the provision of
employment, mental and physical health care, social security, fair
wages, rest and recreation, and a host of other reasonable
expectations on the part of the individual members of society.
The principle of collective trusteeship creates also the right of every person to expect that those cultural conditions essential to his or her identity enjoy the protection of national and international law. Much like the role played by the gene pool in the biological life of humankind and its environment, the immense wealth of cultural diversity achieved over thousands of years is vital to the social and economic development of a human race experiencing its collective coming-of-age. It represents a heritage that must be permitted to bear its fruit in a global civilization. On the one hand, cultural expressions need to be protected from suffocation by the materialistic influences currently holding sway. On the other, cultures must be enabled to interact with one another in ever-changing patterns of civilization, free of manipulation for partisan political ends.
"The light of men", Baha'u'llah says, "is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. The ocean of divine wisdom surgeth within this exalted word, while the books of the world cannot contain its inner significance." (Prosperity of Mankind, Page 6&7)
14. I have obtained from other concerns similar statements, which need not be published. They prove without exception that from one fourth to one third of the number of shareholders in corporations are women and executors of estates. The number of shareholders I have given are those of record, each holding a separate certificate. But it is obvious, in the case of executors, that this one certificate may represent a dozen owners. Many certificates issued in the name of a firm represent several persons, while shares held by a corporation may represent hundreds; but if we assume that every certificate of stock issued by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company represents only two owners, which is absurdly under the truth, it follows that, should every employee of that great company quarrel with it, the contest would be not against a few, but against a much larger body than they themselves constitute. It is within the mark to say that every striking employee would oppose his personal interest against that of three or four other members of the community. The total number of men employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company is 18,911 -- not as many as there are shareholders of record. and what is true of the Pennsylvania Railway Company is true of the railway system as a whole, and, in a greater or less degree, of mining and manufacturing corporations generally. When one, therefore, denounces great corporations for unfair treatment of their men, he is not denouncing the act of some monster capitalist, but that of hundreds and thousands of small holders, scarcely one of whom would be a party to unfair or illiberal treatment of the working-man; the majority of them, indeed, would be found on his side; and, as we have seen, many of the owners themselves would be working-men. Labor has only to bring its just grievances to the attention of owners to secure fair and liberal treatment.
The "great capitalist" is almost a myth, and exists, in any considerable number or degree, only in the heated imagination of the uninformed. Aggregate capital in railway corporations consists of many more individuals than it employs.
capitalist - The question of socialization is very important. It will
not be solved by strikes for wages. All the governments of the world
must be united and organize an assembly the members of which should
be elected from the parliaments and the nobles of the nations. These
must plan with utmost wisdom and power so that neither the capitalist
suffer from enormous
losses nor the laborers become needy. In the utmost moderation they
should make the law; then announce to the public that the rights of
the working people are to be strongly preserved. Also the rights of
the capitalists are to be protected. When such a general plan is
adopted by the will of both sides, should a strike occur, all the
governments of the world collectively should resist it. Otherwise,
the labor problem will lead to much destruction, especially in
Europe. Terrible things will take place.
For instance, the owners of properties, mines and factories should share their incomes with their employees and give a fairly certain percentage of their products to their workingmen in order that the employees may receive, beside their wages, some of the general income of the factory so that the employee may strive with his soul in the work. (Foundations of World Unity, Page 43)
It is, then, clear and evident that the repartition of excessive fortunes among a small number of individuals, while the masses are in need, is an iniquity and an injustice. In the same way, absolute equality would be an obstacle to life, to welfare, to order and to the peace of humanity. In such a question moderation is preferable. It lies in the capitalists' being moderate in the acquisition of their profits, and in their having a consideration for the welfare of the poor and needy--that is to say, that the workmen and artisans receive a fixed and established daily wage-- and have a share in the general profits of the factory. (`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 275)
15. Following the labor disturbances, there came the mad work of a handful of foreign anarchists in Chicago and Milwaukee,
anarchists - Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists,
in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the
rights and merits of the individual. The Baha'i conception of social
life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will
to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it
exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a
menace to society. As in everything, it follows the "golden mean."
The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow
the will of the majority. (Unfolding Destiny, Page 435-436)
16. First. The "dead line" has been definitely fixed between
the forces of disorder and anarchy and those of order. Bomb-throwing means swift death to the thrower. Rioters assembling in numbers and marching to pillage will be remorselessly shot down; not by the order of a government above the people, not by overwhelming standing armies, not by troops brought from a distance, but by the masses of peaceable and orderly citizens of all classes in their own community, from the capitalist down to and including the steady workingman, whose combined influence constitutes that irresistible force, under democratic institutions, known as public sentiment. That sentiment has not only supported the officials who shot down disturbers of the peace, but has extolled them in proportion to the promptitude of their action.
anarchy - There can be no doubt that the decline of religion as a
social force, of which the deterioration of religious institutions is
but an external phenomenon, is chiefly responsible for so grave, so
conspicuous an evil. "Religion," writes Baha'u'llah, "is the greatest
of all means for the
establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of
all that dwell therein. The weakening of the pillars of religion hath
strengthened the hands of the ignorant and made them bold and
Verily I say, whatsoever hath lowered the lofty station of religion hath increased the waywardness of the wicked, and the result cannot be but anarchy." "Religion," He, in another Tablet, has stated, "is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world, for the fear of God impelleth man to hold fast to that which is good, and shun all evil. Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness, of justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine." "Know thou," He, in yet another connection, has written, "that they who are truly wise have likened the world unto the human temple. As the body of man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of justice and wisdom. Its robe is the Revelation vouchsafed unto it by God." (World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pages 186-187)
17. Second. Another proof of the indestructibility of human society, and of its determination and power to protect itself from every danger as it arises and to keep marching forward to higher states of development, has been given in Judge Mallory's words: "Every person who counsels, hires, procures, or incites others to the commission of any unlawful or criminal act, is equally guilty with those who actually perpetrate the act, though such person may not have been present at the time of the commission of the offense.
liberty - It is this distinguishing impulse of human consciousness
that provides the moral imperative for the enunciation of many of the
rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and the related
Covenants. Universal education, freedom of movement, access to
information, and the opportunity to participate in political life are
all aspects of its operation that require explicit guarantee by the
international community. The same is true of freedom of thought and
belief, including religious liberty, along with the right to hold
opinions and express these opinions appropriately.
Since the body of humankind is one and indivisible, each member of
the race is born into the world as a trust of the whole. This
trusteeship constitutes the moral foundation of most of the other
rights -- principally economic and social -- which the instruments of
the United Nations are attempting similarly to define. The security
of the family and the home, the ownership of property, and the right
to privacy are all implied in such a trusteeship. The obligations on
the part of the community extend to the provision of employment,
mental and physical health care, social security, fair wages, rest
and recreation, and a
host of other reasonable expectations on the part of the individual
members of society. (Prosperity of Humankind, page 6)
18. Third. It has likewise been clearly shown that public sentiment sympathizes with the efforts of labor to obtain from capital a fuller recognition of its position and claims than has hitherto been accorded. And in this expression, "a fuller recognition," I include not only pecuniary compensation, but what I conceive to be even more important to-day - a greater
consideration of the working-man as a man and a brother. I trust the time has gone by when corporations can hope to work men fifteen or sixteen hours a day. and the time approaches, I hope, when it will be impossible, in this country, to work men twelve hours a day continuously.
sentiment - High aims and pure motives, however laudable in
themselves, will surely not suffice if unsupported by measures that
are practicable and methods
that are sound. Wealth of sentiment, abundance of good-will and
effort, will prove of little avail if we should fail to exercise
discrimination and restraint and neglect to direct their flow along
the most profitable channels. The unfettered freedom of the
individual should be tempered with mutual consultation and sacrifice,
and the spirit of initiative and enterprise should be reinforced by a
deeper realization of the supreme necessity for concerted action and
a fuller devotion to the common weal. (Bahá'i Administration, page
19. Fourth. While public sentiment has rightly and unmistakably condemned violence, even in the form for which there is the most excuse, I would have the public give due consideration to the terrible temptation to which the working-man on a strike is sometimes subjected. To expect that one dependent upon his daily wage for the necessaries of life will stand by peaceably and see a new man employed in his stead, is to expect much. This poor man may have a wife and children dependent upon his labor. Whether medicine for a sick child, or even nourishing food for a delicate wife, is procurable, depends upon his steady employment. In all but a very few departments of labor it is unnecessary, and, I think, improper, to subject men to such an ordeal. In the case of railways and a few other employments it is, of course, essential for the public wants that no interruption occur, and in such case substitutes must be employed; but the employer of labor will find it much more to his interest, wherever possible, to allow his works to remain idle and await the result of a dispute, than to employ the class of men that can be inclined to take the place of other men who have stopped work. Neither the best men as men, nor the best men as workers, are thus to be obtained. There is an unwritten law among the best workmen: "Thou shalt not take thy neighbor's job." No wise employer will lightly lose his old employees. Length of service counts for much in many ways. Calling upon strange men should be the last resort.
workmen - The court of justice and the government have, therefore,
the right of interference. When a difficulty occurs between two
reference to private rights, it is necessary for a third to settle
the question. This is the part of the government. Then the problem of
strikes-- which cause troubles in the country and are often connected
with the excessive vexations of the workmen, as well as with the
rapacity of manufacturers--how could it remain neglected? Good God!
Is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures starving,
destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably
in his luxurious mansion? He who meets another in the greatest
misery, can he enjoy his fortune? That is why, in the Religion of
God, it is prescribed and established that wealthy men each year give
over a certain part of their fortune for the maintenance of the poor
and unfortunate. That is the foundation of the Religion of God and is
binding upon all.
And as man in this way is not forced nor obliged by the government, but is by the natural tendency of his good heart voluntarily and radiantly showing benevolence toward the poor, such a deed is much praised, approved and pleasing.
Such is the meaning of the good works in the Divine Books and Tablets. (`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pages 276-277)
20. Fifth. The results of the recent disturbances have given indubitable proof that trades-unions must, in their very nature, become more conservative than the mass of the men they represent. If they fail to be conservative, they go to pieces through their own extravagance. I know of three
instances in which threatened strikes were recently averted by the decision of the Master Workman of the Knights of Labor, supported by the best workmen, against the wishes of the less intelligent members of that organization. Representative institutions eventually bring to the front the ablest and most prudent men, and will be found as beneficial in the industrial as they have proved themselves to be in the political world. Leaders of the stamp of Mr. Powderly, Mr. Arthur, of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and Messrs. Wihle and Martin, of the Amalgamated Iron and Steel Association, will gain and retain power; while such as the radical and impulsive Mr. Irons,
industrial - The oneness of mankind... implies an organic change in
the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has
experienced.... It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the
demilitarization of the whole civilized world--a world organically
unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political
machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its
script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the
national characteristics of its federated units.
It represents the consummation of human evolution... and... carries with it no more and no less than a solemn assertion that attainment to this final stage in this stupendous evolution is not only necessary but inevitable, that its realization is fast approaching, and that nothing short of a power that is born of God can succeed in establishing it.
Baha'i Scriptures maintain that adherence to the principle of the oneness of humanity will have a direct and enduring impact on man's spiritual, social and physical environments. Universal acceptance of this principle will entail a major restructuring of the world's educational, social, agricultural, industrial, economic, legal and political systems. This restructuring will facilitate the emergence of a sustainable, just and prosperous world civilization. Ultimately only a spiritually based civilization--in which science and religion work in harmony--will be able to preserve the ecological balance of the earth, foster stability in human population, and advance both the material and the spiritual well-being of all peoples and nations. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pages 42-43)
21. Thus, as the result of the recent revolt, we see advantages gained by both capital and labor. Capital is more secure because of what has been demonstrated, and labor will hereafter be more respectfully treated and its claims more carefully considered, in deference to an awakened public opinion in favor of the laborer. Labor won while it was reasonable in its demands and kept the peace; it lost when it asked what public sentiment pronounced unreasonable, and especially when it broke the peace.
Public opinion must be directed toward whatever is worthy of this
day, and this is impossible except through the use of adequate
arguments and the adducing of clear, comprehensive and conclusive
proofs. For the helpless masses know nothing of the world, and while
there is no doubt that they seek and long for their own happiness,
yet ignorance like a heavy veil shuts them away from it. (Secret of
Divine Civilization, page110)
22. The disturbance is over and peace again reigns; but let no one be unduly alarmed at frequent disputes between capital and labor. Kept within legal limits, they are encouraging symptoms, for they betoken the desire of the working-man
to better his condition; and upon this desire hang all hopes of advancement of the masses. It is the stagnant pool of Contentment, not the running stream of Ambition, that breeds disease in the body social and political. The workingmen of this country can no more be induced to sanction riot and disorder than can any other class of the community. Isolated cases of violence under strong provocation may break out upon the surface, but the body underneath is sound to the core, and resolute for the maintenance of order.
Sustainable Development - No Industrial Slavery
In the Book of Aqdas Baha'u'llah forbids slavery, and 'Abdu'l-Baha
has explained that not only chattel slavery, but also industrial
slavery, is contrary to the law of God. When in the United States in
1912, He said to the American people:-- Between 1860 and 1865 you did
a wonderful thing; you abolished chattel slavery; but today you must
do a much more wonderful thing: you must abolish industrial
The solution of economic questions will not be brought about by array
of capital against labor, and labor against capital, in strife and
conflict, but by the voluntary attitude of goodwill on both sides.
Then a real and lasting justness of conditions will be secured....
Among the Baha'is there are no extortionate, mercenary and unjust
practices, no rebellious demands, no revolutionary uprisings against
It will not be possible in the future for men to amass great fortunes
by the labors of others. The rich will willingly divide. They will
come to this gradually, naturally, by their own volition. It will
never be accomplished by war and bloodshed.
It is by friendly consultation and cooperation, by just copartnership
and profit-sharing, that the interests of both capital and labor will
be best served. The harsh weapons of the strike and lockout are
injurious, not only to the trades immediately affected, but to the
community as a whole. It is, therefore, the business of the
governments to devise means for preventing recourse to such barbarous
methods of settling disputes. 'Abdu'l-Baha said at Dublin, New
Hampshire, in 1912:-- (Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, pages 144-145)
The solution of economic questions will not be brought about by array of capital against labor, and labor against capital, in strife and conflict, but by the voluntary attitude of goodwill on both sides. Then a real and lasting justness of conditions will be secured....
Among the Baha'is there are no extortionate, mercenary and unjust practices, no rebellious demands, no revolutionary uprisings against existing governments....
It will not be possible in the future for men to amass great fortunes by the labors of others. The rich will willingly divide. They will come to this gradually, naturally, by their own volition. It will never be accomplished by war and bloodshed.
It is by friendly consultation and cooperation, by just copartnership and profit-sharing, that the interests of both capital and labor will be best served. The harsh weapons of the strike and lockout are injurious, not only to the trades immediately affected, but to the community as a whole. It is, therefore, the business of the governments to devise means for preventing recourse to such barbarous methods of settling disputes. 'Abdu'l-Baha said at Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1912:-- (Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, pages 144-145)
23. For the first time within my knowledge, the leading organs of public opinion in England have shown a more correct appreciation of the forces at work in the Republic than some of our own despondent writers. The London "Daily News" said truly that "the territorial democracy of America can be trusted to deal with such outbreaks"; and the "Daily Telegraph" spoke as follows:
Universal Peace - Today there is no greater glory for man than that
of service in the cause of the "Most Great Peace". Peace is light
whereas war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is
guidance; war is error. Peace is the foundation of God; war is
satanic institution. Peace is the illumination of the world of
humanity; war is the destroyer of human foundations. When we consider
outcomes in the world of existence we find that peace and fellowship
are factors of upbuilding and betterment whereas war and strife are
the causes of destruction and disintegration. All created things are
expressions of the affinity and cohesion of elementary substances,
and non-existence is the absence of their attraction and agreement.
Various elements unite harmoniously in composition but when these
elements become discordant, repelling each other, decomposition and
non-existence result. Everything partakes of this nature and is
subject to this principle, for the creative foundation in all its
degrees and kingdoms is an expression or outcome of love. Consider
the restlessness and agitation of the human world today because of
war. Peace is health and construction; war is disease and
dissolution. When the banner of truth is raised, peace becomes the
cause of the welfare and advancement of the human world. In all
cycles and ages war has been a factor of derangement and discomfort
whereas peace and brother-hood have brought security and
consideration of human interests. This distinction is especially
pronounced in the present world conditions, for warfare in former
centuries had not attained the degree of savagery and destructiveness
which now characterizes it. If two nations were at war in olden
times, ten or twenty thousand would be sacrificed but in this century
the destruction of one hundred thousand lives in a day is quite
possible. So perfected has the science of killing become and so
efficient the means and instruments of its accomplishment that a
whole nation can be obliterated in a short time. Therefore comparison
with the methods and results of ancient warfare is out of the
question. (`Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, Page 20)
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