The Accurate Analysis of the Problem
In order to reach the first circle in analysing the social problem, we have to question that materi- alistic individualistic interest established by the capi talist system as a criterion, a pretext, a goal and an objective, and ask: "What is the idea which made such criterion seem to be correct according to the democratic capitalist mentality which inspired it?" This very idea is the real basis of the social tribulation and the failure of democratic capitalism in bringing about man's happiness and security his dignity. If we can abolish such an idea, we will put a definite end to all conspiracies against social welfare and intrigues against the society's rights and accurate freedom, and be successful in utilizing the private ownership for humanity's good, upliftment and advancement in the industrial spheres and production fields.
So, what is this idea?!
This idea is summarized according to the limited materialistic interpretation of life upon which the West has erected the colossal monument of capital ism. If every member of the society believes that his only field in this great universe is his personal materi- alistic life, believing also in his freedom in using and utilizing this life, and that he can gain nothing from this life except the pleasure made available to him through materialism, adding these materialistic creeds to his egoism, which is essentially inherent within him, then he will choose the path of materialists and execute all of their methods, unless a mighty power deprives him of his freedom and stops him!
Egoism is the instinct more general or ancient than any other one we have come to know. All other instincts are its own branches and divisions, including the instinct of suvival. Man's love for his own self, which means his love for pleasure and happiness for his own person, and his hatred of pain and suffering, is the motif which pushes him to make a living and provide himself with his nutritious and materialistic needs. Therefore, he may put an end to his own life by committing suicide if he finds out that the pain of dying is easier than tolerating the pains his life is full of.
The natural reality, that is, that which hides behind every human life, directing it with its fingers, is egoism which we call "loving pleasure and hating pain". Man cannot be required to willingly tolerate bitterness of pain without enjoying some pleasure simply in order that others may get their own plea- sure and felicity except when he is robbed of his humanity and is given a new nature which neither loves pleasure nor hates pain ... !
Even the marvellous norms of self-denial, which we see in mankind and hear about in history, are, in fact, subject to the same principal motivating power: egoism! Man may be influenced by his son or friend, and he may sacrifice himself for the sake of some ideals and principles..., but he would never per- form such heroism unless he derives a particular pleasure therefrom and a benefit which exceeds the loss he suffers by preferring his son's or friend's benefit to his own, or by sacrificing himself for the sake of a principle he believes in.
Thus can we interpret the general behaviour of man, in the spheres of egoism and sacrifice alike. Man has an inherent readiness to enjoy different things: materialistic, like enjoying eating, drinking, sexual pleasures, etc. ; or non-materialistic like behav- ioural and emotional pleasures; that is, enjoying ethical principles and a spiritual companion, or a particular faith, when man finds such principles or that companion or this faith to be part of his own entity. Such readiness which prepares man to enjoy such different sorts of pleasure differs in degrees among individuals and varies in effectiveness accord- ing to the variations in man's circumstances, natural elements and the upbringing which affects him. When we find out that such readiness matures na- turally in man, such as his readiness to enjoy sex, for example, we find out that the other kinds of readi- ness may not appear during one's lifetime, and that they remain waiting for the natural elements to help their maturity and blossoming. Behind all such readi- ness is the egoistic instinct which outlines man's behaviour according to the degree of maturity of such readiness.
It pushes a person to prefer one kind of food to another when he is hungry, and it pushes some other person to even give his own food to others. This is so because the first person's readiness to enjoy the ethical and emotional principles, which pushes him to self-denial, is hidden: the auxiliary elements of upbringing have neither centralized nor matured such readiness! The other person has won such sort of upbringing; therefore, he enjoys ethical and emotional principles, sacrificing his own self for their achievement.
When we want to make a change in someone's behaviour, we have to change his concept of pleasure and benefit, including the suggested behaviour in the general framework of the egoistic instinct.
If the egoistic instinct occupies such position in man's world, and the "self" means nothing but a limited materialistic energy, and pleasure is nothing but whatever fun and felicity materialism brings..., it would be natural for man then to feel that his sphere of gaining is limited, his scope is short, and his objective in it is to get an amount of materialistic pleasure. The way to get that is, of course, confined to life's vein: wealth, which opens the door to man to achieve all of his purposes and desires!
This is the natural sequence of materialistic reasoning which leads to a complete capitalist men- tality.
Can you see if the problem can be totally solved if we refuse the principle of private ownership, while maintaining such materialistic concepts of life as those thinkers have tried?! Can society be saved from the tragedy of such principles by only abolishing private ownership so that it would gain a guarantee for its happiness and stability?! The only guarantee for man's happiness and stability depends to a large extent upon ensuring that those charged with respon- sibility will not deviate from their scopes and reform plans in the field of action and execution. Such res- ponsible persons are supposed to embrace the same purely materialistic concepts of life whereupon capi- talism stands.
The only difference is that they have shaped such concepts in new philosophical structures. Reason would suppose that the personal interest quite often stands in the face of the common interest, and that the individual has to choose between either a loss and pain he suffers for the sake of others, or a gain and pleasure he enjoys at their own expense! So, what guarantees would the nation and its rights, the doctrine and its objectives, will have during such critical moments the rulers go through?! The indiv- idual interest is not represented in private ownership only, so that we would rule out our supposition to abolish the principle of private ownership; rather, it is represented in many different manners and forms. A proof for that is the treason of many past rulers discovered today by the advocates of communism who have revealed how those rulers deviated from the same principles they had professed to adopt!
The wealth controlled by the capitalist group, under the shade of absolute economic and individual liberties, dealing with it according to its materialistic mentality, is given, when the state nationalizes all sorts of wealth and abolishes private ownership, to the state apparatus itself which is composed of a group controlled by the same materialistic concepts of life which oblige them to give priority to their own individualistic interests, according to the egoistic instinct, refusing that man gives up his pleasure and interest without a compensation. So long as the materialistic interest is the dominating power, accord- ing to the materialistic concepts of life, new fields for struggle and competition will be reserved, and the society will be exposed to different dangers and exploitation.
Danger to humanity is all hidden within such materialistic concepts and whatever spring there- from of goals and deeds. Unifying capitalist norms of wealth, the small or the big, into one huge wealth to be taken care of by the state, without any new development of the human intellect, does not curb such danger; rather, it turns the entire nation to la- bourers in one company, trying their life and prestige to the promoters and owners of that company... !
Yes! This company differs from the capitalist company: the owners of the capitalist company are the ones who own its profits, spending them accord ing to their own inclinations, while the owners of the other company do not possess any of that, as the system assumes. But the fields of individualistic interest are still open, and the materialistic concept of life, the one that makes such an interest a goal and a justification, still remains!
HOW TO TREAT THE PROBLEM
The world has two ways to avoid the danger and establish the pillars of a stable society:
One: Mankind has to be changed, or a new nature be created within him that would make him sacrifice his personal interests and limited material istic achievements for the sake of the society and its interests, in spite of his own belief that there are no principles except those materialistic ones, and no gains except those of this limited life ... ! This could be accomplished if egoism were uprooted from his nature's essence and substituted for loving the group; therefore, man will be born not loving his own self except as being part of the society, feeling no pleasure for his own happiness and benefits ex- cept as they represent part of the general happiness and common interest ... ! The "instinct" of loving the group will then guarantee its running after its own interests and the achievement of its own ob- jectives in a mechanical manner and mode ... !
The other, the one the advocates of communism dream of bringing to man's future, promising the world that they would create it anew, a creation which would make it move mechanically to serve the group and its interests, is this: so that such great feat is accomplished, we have to trust the world leadership to them, just as the patient is entrusted to the surgeon for surgery and to chop off his bad parts and adjust the crooked ones! Nobody knows how long will such surgical operation, which puts man at the mercy of the surgeon, last!
Man's sub- mission to that is but the greatest proof of the extent of injustice he has suffered in the democratic capital- ist system which has deceived him with the alleged "freedoms", robbing him finally of even his own dignity, sucking his blood in order to present him as an easy drink to the pampered group represented by the rulers ... !
The idea of such opinion which advocates treating the problem by "modernizing" man and creating him anew, hinges upon the Marxist inter pretation of egoism. Marxism believes that self-love (egoism) is neither a natural inclination nor an in- stinctive phenomenon within man's entity but a result of the social condition which is based upon private ownership, for the social status of private ownership is what formulates the spiritual and in- nate make-up of man, creating in the individual his own love for his personal interests and individual benefits... !
If a revolution occurs in the bases upon which the social structure stands, and general ownership and socialism substitute private owner- ship, then the revolution will be reflected in all cor- ners of the society and in the inner context of man; so much so that his personal feelings will change to common feelings, and his love for his own interests and individualistic benefits changes to loving the common interest and benefit, according to the equi- librium law between the status of Islamic ownership and the totality of the overall phenomenon according to which they condition themselves.
In fact, this Marxist interpretation of egoism judges the relationship between the self's reality (the egoistic instinct) and the social circumstances in an upside-down manner. Otherwise, how can we believe that the personal motif is the outcome of private ownership and all the class contradictions resulting therefrom?! If mankind did not have, before hand, the personal motif, he would not have caused such contradictions, nor could he have thought of private ownership and personal monopoly ... ! Why should man monopolize the system's achievements, placing it in such a way that protects his own inter- ests at the expense of others, if he does not feel the personal motif within the depths of his own self?! The fact is that the social appearances of egoism in the economic and political field are but the result of the personal motif, of the egoistic instinct. This motif is deeper than it is in man's entity; therefore, it cannot vanish, nor can its roots be pulled out by si mply removing such effects, for an operation like this is not more than substituting effects for others different than the first in shape or appearance yet similar to them in essence and reality.
Add to this, if we interpret the personal motif (the egoistic instinct) subjectively, as a reflection of the phenomena of individualism within the social system, such as the phenomenon of private owner- ship, as Marxism has done, would this not mean that the personal motif will lose its subjective and causing factor from the social system by abolishing private ownership because, although it is a phenomenon of an individualistic nature, it still is not unique in kind, as there is, for example, the phenomenon of private management which is kept even by the socialist sys- tem! Although it abolishes private ownership of the means of production, the socialist system does not abolish their private management by the ruling ap- paratus which practises proletariat dictatorship and monopolizes the supervision over all means of pro- duction and their management. It is not logical to manage the means of production at the moment of their nationalization by a social common manage- ment of all the individuals of the society! The social- ist system, then, maintains distinguished individual- istic phenomena, and it is natural that such phe- nomena maintain the personal motif, continuously reflecting it in the inner context of man, just as the phenomenon of private ownership used to do.
Thus do we come to know the value of the first way to solve the problem: the communist way which regards abolishing the legislation of private ownership and wiping it out of the law as the only guarantee to solve the problem and "modernize" man...! As regarding the other way, stated above, it is the one followed by Islam because of its belief that the only solution to the problem is to develop man's materialistic concept of life. It has not started with abolishing the concept of private ownership; rather, it assaulted the materialistic concept of life and put for life a new concept, basing thereupon a system wherein the individual is not treated as a machine in the social apparatus, nor is the society a group ready to serve the individual. Rather, it has given each his rights, and has guaranteed the individual his dignity, spiritual and materialistic.
Islam has placed its hand upon the real cause of sickness in the democratic social system, and whatever systems branch therefrom, wiping them out in a manner which harmonizes with the human nature. The basic hinging point to what the human life has suffered of different sorts of miseries and calamities is the materialistic outlook of life which may be summed up thus: the supposition that only man's life on earth is worthy of all consideration. It establishes the indiv- idualistic interest as the criterion to each action and activity.
According to Islam, democratic capitalism is a system doomed to collapse and will certainly fail not because of the allegations of the advocates of communist economy, the self-contradictions of capitalism and the elements of destruction carried inherently by private ownership, for Islam differs in its logical approach, political economy and social philosophy from the concepts of such allegations and their argumentative manner, as I have clarified in my works Our Philosophy and Our Economy, and it guarantees the position of private ownership within a social framework, free of such alleged con- tradictions. The reason for the failure and aggravating situ- ation with which democratic capitalism is inflicted, according to Islam, goes to the purely materialistic concepts of democratic capitalism which cannot make people happy in a system that learns its essence therefrom, deriving its general outlines from its es- sence and direction.
There has to be, thereupon, some other source, other than the materialistic ideas about the universe, from which the social system quenches its thirst, and there has to be an accurate political awareness springing out of true concepts of life, adopting the greatest of man's issues, attempting to achieve that on the basis of such concepts and studying the world affairs from that angle. When such political aware- ness matures in the world, wiping away any other political awareness, the world will then be able to enter a new life shining with light, full of happiness.
This deep political awareness is the true message of Islam in the world, and such a delivering message is, indeed, the eternal message of Islam which has derived its social system, which differs from all the systems we have so far explicated, from a new intel- lectual base for life and the universe ... !
Through such an intellectual base, Islam has defined the proper outlook of man at his life. It has made him believe that his life springs from the prin ciple of absolute perfection, that it is but a prep- aration for a world free of toil and suffering, hence providing him with a new ethical criterion in his steps and stages. This criterion is: the pleasure of Allah Almighty ... ! For not everything the individual interest enforces is permissible, yet everything causing an individual loss is prohibited and undesirable ...
Rather, the goal Islam has drawn for mankind in his life is Divine Pleasure, and the ethical criterion where- by all deeds are weighed is the amount he can obtain of such sacred goal. The straight man is that who achieves such goal. The complete Islamic character is the one which has made all of its various paces along the guidance of such goal and the light of such criterion and within its general framework.
This change in the ethical concepts, criteria and objectives does not mean changing the human nature and create it anew, as the communist idea meant. Egoism, that is, man's love for his own self and for the achievement of his personal desires, is natural in mankind, and we do not know of any research in any experimental field more clear than that of humanity in its long history which proves the "self" of egoism! If egoism had not been natural and inherent within man, early man would not have rushed, before forming his social entity, to achieve his needs and defend himself against the dangers and try in his primitive ways whereby he protected his life and maintained his existence to get what he de- sired and in the end enter the social life and assimilate in relations with others for the purpose of achieving such needs and avoiding such dangers.
Since egoism occupies such- a position in the human nature, any definite solution to the great human problem must be based upon the belief in such reality. If it is based upon the idea of developing or overcoming it, then it would be an idealistic solution which does not have a place in the reality of the practical life man has been leading ... !
Adopted from the book: "Contemporary Man and The Social Problem" by: "Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr"
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