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A Baháʼí Perspective on Conscious Capitalism: Working for Individual, Organizational, and Systemic Transformation

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The Spirit of Conscious Capitalism

Part of the book series: Ethical Economy ((SEEP,volume 63))

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Abstract

This essay is a reflection on how core Baháʼí principles relate to the ideals of Conscious Capitalism. We begin with a brief discussion on how the features of modern capitalism have emerged in history, causing reactions, conflicts and challenges leading to the rise of Conscious Capitalism, and noting how this story intersects with the history of the Baháʼí Faith at several pivotal periods. We then outline the story of Conscious Capitalism since its inception and highlight where the Baháʼí teachings converge and diverge with the vision of Michael Strong, one of the initiators of the Conscious Capitalism movement, based on an interview we conducted with him. This sets the stage for our exploration of a Baháʼí approach to Conscious Capitalism, through a reflection on the experience of two Baháʼí business leaders whom we interviewed for this purpose. A Baháʼí approach, we suggest, involves redefining the meaning of capital to cover its social and spiritual dimensions, and sees the business organization as operating within both a micro-environment of individuals and a macro-environment defined by the socio-political system. Thus, building a “conscious capitalist enterprise” involves a dual process of spiritual transformation at the levels of the individual and of the social system. Ultimately, only rebuilding the social order on spiritual foundations will create the conditions for the full flourishing of a spiritually and socially conscious form of capitalism.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The Baháʼí Faith is based upon the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892) and after his passing, his son ʻAbdu’l-Bahá (1844–1921). Over his lifetime, Bahá’u’lláh revealed hundreds of tablets and dozens of volumes, among which the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude) and Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Book) are the core sources of religious doctrine and law respectively. By the mid-twentieth century, the Baháʼí Faith had spread to every country across the globe, from tribal communities to urban territories (Smith 1987). For Baháʼís, the entirety of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation, along with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings and the guidance of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (1897–1957, known as the Guardian) and, since 1963, the Universal House of Justice, the elected world governing council of the Faith, constitute the body of authoritative texts of the religion. In this chapter, the “Baháʼí teachings” or “Baháʼí writings” refer to these authoritative texts. Other than quotations from these writings and factual statements about the Baháʼí teachings, the ideas in this chapter represent the personal interpretation of the authors. For a compilation of authoritative Baháʼí texts related to economics, see Houshmand Badee (2000).

  2. 2.

    Name anonymized. Data based on online interview conducted on January 4th, 2022.

  3. 3.

    Name anonymized. Data based on online interview conducted on January 11th, 2022.

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Palmer, D.A., McCormick, J.F. (2022). A Baháʼí Perspective on Conscious Capitalism: Working for Individual, Organizational, and Systemic Transformation. In: Dion, M., Pava, M. (eds) The Spirit of Conscious Capitalism. Ethical Economy, vol 63. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-10204-2_17

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