Nineteenth Reflection

Shoghi Effendi notes that different countries represent different degrees of approximation to the worship of these three false gods. But in their extreme forms all these triple gods share some common characteristics. One of these commonalities is what Shoghi Effendi calls “the deification of state”. Such characterization indicates that various forms of irreligion are themselves substitute forms of religion. In 19 th century, Nietzsche noted that various forms of secular ideologies are in fact new forms of religion, namely new forms of absolutism. Through his nihilism, he tried to destroy these other forms of absolute, particularly that of “reason.” It is noteworthy that Shoghi Effendi describes Bolshevism and its systematic battle against religion and religious freedom as “religious irreligion”. This deification of state can also be witnessed in the most extreme forms of nationalism and racialism, namely the fascist philosophy of Nazi Germany. In the case of both Bolshevik communism and Nazi Germany, all three false gods turn into a logic of deification of state. Deification of state is usually characterized by totalitarianism, elimination of individual liberty, militarism, and imperialism. Like the God of imperialistic and intolerant holy war, constructed by the clerics, the new gods become the source of all values and truth. Consequently, state must be expanded and it should be in charge of the detailed aspects of individual lives. Such totalitarian view is based upon a philosophical aversion to individual human beings, defining them as children who are irrational and incapable of making decisions for themselves. Deified state is almost always a militarist state which wants to impose its will upon other states and peoples. Militant nationalist and racist ideologies contribute to this deification, when state coercion is seen as a necessary tool for realization of racist intolerance and what Shoghi Effendi calls “the excessive, the blind, the intolerant, and militant nationalism.” It is noteworthy that Shoghi Effendi defines communism as an extreme form of deification of state, as well as an example of “the dominance of one privileged class over all others”. Normally one assumes that communism is a rejection of state and an affirmation of social justice and equality. Yet, the fact is that the reality of communism has not been the elimination or withering away of state predicted by Marx. Instead, elimination of private property and the ideal of forced equality of economic and social outcomes, is only possible when all forms of individual freedom are negated in society. That is, in turn, possible only under a totalitarian state which controls all aspects of the life of the people so that equality of outcomes can be forced and maintained. But at the same time, such elimination of individual freedom, and the overwhelming control and dominance of the deified state, usually mean the division of society to ordinary individuals vs. the people who belong to state bureaucracy. Control of state (as opposed to private property), in other words, becomes the new basis of class privilege through corruption, coercion, and violent control. 2. False Gods as Materialism and Prejudice Shoghi Effendi sees all three false gods as “monstrous offspring” of a materialist philosophy, or what he calls “irreligion”. This is opposed to spiritualization of life that is the aim of the Baha’i Faith. Spiritualization of life means the emergence of a culture in which humans see themselves and all reality as spiritual beings, endowed with rights and nobility. Baha’u’llah declared that all human beings are reflections of divine attributes. Spirit is defined by both individual independence as well as unity with others. Consequently, humans must be emancipated from all

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