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Footnotes to ‘evolving to individualism’

Footnotes to ‘Evolving to individualism’

1. “The generation [of fascist theorists] of 1890 … took as its point of departure not the individual, who as such had no importance in himself, but the social and political collectivity, which, moreover, was not to be thought of as the numerical sum of the individuals under its aegis. The ‘new’ intellectuals therefore inveighed violently against the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and against the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society. In identical terms sometimes, they one and all deplored the mediocrity and materialism of modern society, its instability and corruption.” Zeev Sternhell, ‘Fascist Ideology’, in Walter Laqueur (ed.) Fascism, Harmondsworth, England, Penguin Books, 1976, 1979.

2. Amy Gutman, “The Disharmony of Democracy,” in Chapman and Shapiro eds., Democratic Community, Nomos, XXXV (1993) p. 143.

3. The Moral Judgment of the Child (New York: Free Press, 1965) p. 363.

4. “Clay into Crystal: How Thought Shapes Structure in the Pursuit of Justice,” paper presented at the conference of the Association for Baha’í Studies, 1 September, 2001, Seattle;

5. See E.G. Browne, Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (Cambridge University Press, 1918) pp. 141-2.

6. Karl Jaspers,Vom Ursprung und Ziel Geschichte (Zurich: Artemis-Verlag, 1949), see for example page 65. Jaspers also recognizes that the past two centuries represent a qualitatively new stage in the development of individual self-awareness (Existenz) and may represent a new ‘axial
age’ (page 47).

7. Promulgation of Universal Peace (compiled [and edited] by Howard MacNutt, Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, second edition, 1982) p. 157; (Khitabat-i-`Abdu’l-Bahá, Reprint Hofheim; Bahá’í-Verlag [1984] p. 402). Likewise Shoghi Effendi speaks of states as composed of free individuals (World Order of Baha’u’llah, Wilmette, Illinois, Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1991, p. 203.

8. Bahais in other countries would probably find this alignment surprising, since the Bahai Faith is usually thought of as a liberal and progressive force. In an interview published in the 1997 Religion News Service, (“Critics chafe at Bahá’í conservatism”, by Ira Rifkin, February 27) Robert Henderson, secretary-general of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, said “The Bahá’í faith is outwardly liberal but inwardly conservative … It’s a matter of scripture.” (Reported on

9. This confusion can be seen in Danesh and Dicks’ commentary on my paper “Towards the Enlightened Society,” in Baha’i Studies Review, Vol. 6 (1996) pp. 43-49, and in the essays by Momen cited here. More recently, the Bahai World Centre’s position paper Century of Light has said that at “the very heart of the current crisis of civilization [is] a cult of individualism that increasingly admits of no restraint” (Bahá’í World Centre, 2001).

10. Among the duties of government, according to Bahai teachings, are to “rule with justice over [the people], safeguard the rights of the down-trodden, and punish the wrong-doers;” (Gleanings 247), to assure “the free exercise of the individual’s rights, and the security of his person and property, his dignity and good name;” (Abdu’l-Baha, Secret of Divine Civilization, 115), to proclaim “the equal rights of all subjects and the liberty of men’s consciences,” (A Traveller’s Narrative, 91); and to form a world commonwealth in which “the personal freedom and initiative” of individual citizens “are definitely and completely safeguarded.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, 203). All of which implies that the sense of entitlement which citizens feel is not a byproduct of western degeneration, but rather the proper reflection of their own awareness of the station and value of every human person.

11. Universal House of Justice, cited in A Wider Horizon: Selected Messages from the Universal House of Justice (Riviera Beach, Florida: Palabra Publications, 1992) p. 82.

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