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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 144-146

No Industrial Slavery

In the Book of Aqdas Bahá’u’lláh forbids slavery, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 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 slavery. …

The solution of economic questions will not be brought about by array of capital against labor, and labor against 145 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 Bahá’ís 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-Bahá 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 146 destruction, especially in Europe. Terrible things will take place.
One of the several causes of a universal European war will be this question. The owners of properties, mines and factories, should share their incomes with their employees, and give a fairly certain percentage of their profits to their workingmen, in order that the employees should receive, besides their wages, some of the general income of the factory, so that the employee may strive with his soul in the work.