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From Poverty and Terrorism
Justice and Peace Making:
Globalisation for the Common Good



Kamran Mofid, TFF Associate*


Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

Nelson Mandela


The most basic right of all humanity is to eat three decent meals a day. Hunger is actually the worst weapon of mass destruction. It claims millions of victims each year. There will be no peace without development and no development without social justice.

Luiz da Silva


If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)


Religion can be a realm of extraordinary power. It can offer solace in troubled times. It can make sense of the seemingly senseless because that's the world we live in. It can give us strength to meet the physical and spiritual challenges of life. Religion helps us find our place in the cosmos; it knits families and communities together; it endows individuals with compassion and morality. Whether one believes without question or wrestles with doubt, whether one is part of a religious community or worships in the privacy of the soul, religious practices and beliefs are among the phenomena that define us as human.

Kofi Annan



The topic which I wish to address here is vast; all I can reasonably hope to do is paint a picture with very broad brushstrokes. The first section of this paper is an attempt to explain what Globalisation for the Common Good is. In the second part, I will endeavour to explain how and why I came to believe in the merits of Globalisation for the Common Good. In this part, I will shed light on my personal journey to Globalisation for the Common Good. It has been an intellectual, emotional and spiritual journey; it has involved wrestling with a diverse range of concepts, ideas concerning the relationship between economics, theology and spirituality as well as concerns for human dignity and socio-economic justice.

I deeply and passionately believe that conflict/terrorism is mainly mobilized around the concept of justice. In many cases, challenging injustice is the first step towards eliminating it. To avoid violent conflict, concerted international action is needed to address systemic economic/socio-political injustice. Nations need to develop institutions of fair and transparent governance. They also need to help provide health care, education, sanitation, as well as affordable housing and encourage an inclusive society. Addressing injustice is central to the resolution of most intractable conflicts and the eradication of terrorism. Economic injustice, depravation and hopelessness are the real "Weapons of Mass Destruction", any where, and every where in the world.

No amount of military might, no amount of depleted uranium enriched missiles, no amount of Agent Orange, no amount of smart and not so-smart bombs will destroy terrorism, as long as this world is so unjust, so unequal and so inhumane. History is on the side of this argument and it would be an affront to humanity to ignore this.


Part One - Globalisation for the Common Good

Today the globalised world economy, despite many significant achievements during the last few decades, and especially since the end of the Second World War, in areas such as science, technology, medicine, transportation and communication, is facing major catastrophic socio-economic, political, cultural, spiritual and environmental crises.

We are surrounded by global problems of inequality, injustice, poverty, greed, marginalisation, exclusion, intolerance, fear, depression, anxiety, mistrust, xenophobia, terrorism, sleaze and corruption. These problems are affecting the overall fabric of societies in many parts of the world.

Moreover, the twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history, with holocausts, genocides, ethnic cleansing, two world wars and hundreds of inter and intra-national wars. Furthermore, today after decades of selfishness, greed, individualism, emphasis on wealth creation without care about how this wealth is being created, the world is entering a period of reflection, self-examination and a spiritual revolution. Many people around the globe have come to an understanding that it is possible to create a better world if a critical mass of people with a sense of human decency and a belief in the ultimate goodness of humanity, rise and realise their power to transform the world. More and more people around the world are realising that there are no short cuts to happiness. Material wealth is important. This should not be denied. However, physical wealth is only one ingredient for happiness. Realisation of a complete sense of happiness, inner peace and tranquillity can only be achieved through acting more on virtues such as wisdom, justice, ethics, love and humanity. This spiritual revolution needs architecture and dedicated architects.

In this study I argue that the marketplace is not just an economic sphere, 'it is a region of the human spirit'. Whilst considering the many economic questions and issues we should also reflect on the Divine dimension of life, Moreover, and should, in contrast to what is practised today, be concerned with the world of heart and spirit. Although self -interest is an important source of human motivation, driving the decisions we make in the marketplace every day, those decisions nevertheless have a moral, ethical and spiritual content, because each decision we make affects not only ourselves but others too. Today's modern economists consider their discipline a science, and thereby divorced from ethical details, the normative passions of right and wrong. They have turned their discipline into a moral-free zone.

In short, this study views the problem and challenge of globalisation partly from economic but primarily from ethical, spiritual and theological point of view. How can we order the modern world so that we may all live well and live in peace? In all, globalisation will need to combine economic efficiency to meet human needs with social justice and environmental sustainability. The study moreover argues for the creation of an "ecumenical space" for dialogue amongst civilisations and the building of community for the common good by bringing economics, spirituality and theology together.

As it has been noted, and it is my intention to argue further that, perhaps the most significant development in the material world for nearly two decades is the phenomenon of globalisation. This is the accelerated integration of the global economy through finance and trade. As noted above, spectacular breakthroughs in science and technology, particularly information technology, have speeded up the process.

Even as it is an economic phenomenon, globalisation is not limited to the arena of economics and economic institutions. Its impact is felt on political and social institutions, as well as culture. No human institution is impervious to it. Even religion is challenged by it.

Globalisation has brought prosperity and wealth to many nations and individuals. It has brought the blessings of science and technology to more and more people. It has shared knowledge and information on a scale which is beyond measure. At the same time, it has its very dark and dangerous side.

The darkest manifestation of globalisation is the persistence of poverty, unemployment, and social disintegration even as economies are being integrated in the global economy. It is the continuing destruction of the environment and the marginalisation of women even as more and more wealth is created at an unbelievable pace. Economic, social and political injustice have accelerated in the wake of the frenzied transactions in global financial and trade markets. Below I share some disturbing statistics with you:

- Half the world -- nearly three billion people -- live on less than two dollars a day. (less than a cow gets in a daily subsidy in the EU, Japan or N.America for example. The Eu provides annualy $51 billion in agricultural subsidy, followed by Japan at $30 billion and the US at about $18 billion).

- The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world's countries) is less than the wealth of the world's three richest people combined.

- Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

- Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn't happen.

- 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5.

- 852 million people across the world are hungry, up from 842 million a year ago.

- In essence, hunger is the most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food.

- The spreading HIV/AIDS epidemic has quickly become a major obstacle in the fight against hunger and poverty in developing countries.

- Because the majority of those falling sick with AIDS are young adults who normally harvest crops, food production has dropped dramatically in countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates.

- In southern Africa, close to 500,000 people died of AIDS in 2001 alone, fuelling a serious food crisis in 2002-2003 in which more than 14 million people faced hunger and starvation.

- Infected adults also leave behind children and elderly relatives, who have little means to provide for themselves. In 2001, 2.5 million children were newly orphaned in Southern Africa.

- Since the epidemic began, 25 million people have died from AIDS, which has caused more than 13 million children to lose either their mother or both parents. For its analysis, UNICEF uses a term that illustrates the gravity of the situation; child-headed households, or minors orphaned by HIV/AIDS who are raising their siblings.

- 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the world - 92.8 percent of them in developing countries. 3 million are children under the age of 15. 2.9 million of those children live in the developing world, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa

In all, around the world, inequality is increasing, while the world is further globalising. Moreover, even in the wealthier countries in the west, the gap between rich and poor; have and have-nots is growing wider by the day. In addition, the meltdown in the value of the stock market has left millions with no pension in their old age. Given the continuous existence of such levels of abject poverty everywhere, and our inability or unwillingness to over come it- is a true sign of a globalisation of civilisation in denial. In this respect, the wise words of Nelson Mandela rings true "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom".

We are caught in a strange world of contradiction: a world of progress and of poverty. The poor, marginalised and excluded, have been forgotten. However, even those who are well off financially, it seems, are unable to live well in human terms. In the materialistically saturated western world, anxiety, depression, insecurity and real desperation are the main causes of ill health and premature death. We were told that economic prosperity, with its share dividends and material comfort would bring us happiness. What a delusion!

We need to wake up and begin to see the bigger picture. The only remedy, we are told by neo-classical ideologues and fundamentalists who have brought us all this misery to begin with, is to strive for more of the same mores: more economic growth, more production, more consumption, more cost-cutting, and more sacrifices to achieve them as they impose harsh human and ecological costs. Who are the people who think that all these sacrifices - personal, family, social, cultural and ecological - are necessary to meet their bottom line?

It is this bottom-line mentality, so damaging to human relationships and personal well-being that has caused so much anger around the world. Today, everywhere you look you see this anger and the forces of destruction at work: crime and the gun culture, alcohol and drug abuse, cheap sex and human trafficking, xenophobia and bombs - smart bombs and not-so-smart ones, even human bombs.

Why are we doing all this to ourselves and others? What globalisation! What shabby custodians of God's gifts we have been! Is this the kind of world we want or would like to leave to our children? Is this a world which Sa'adi, the wise Persian poet, would have understood all those centuries ago? His words are inscribed at the entrance to the United Nations Secretariat in New York:

The Children of Adam

Are limbs of one another,

In terms of Creation,

They're of the self-same Essence.


As it has been noted time and again by so many researchers round the world, globalisation as it is today, has not delivered what it said it would, because it has turned itself into an economic only phenomenon and nothing else. It is time to understand that global money-only capitalism becomes corrupt without democratic civic values and ethical restraints.

Looking at what is being recommended, we can note that, nearly all of the proposals on the global economy concern the need to unleash the power of the market, liberalise trade, deregulate and privatise- which are all purely economic considerations. It is as though humanity and the environment are irrelevant except as servants of the overarching need to expand the global economy- as if that could satisfy all human needs and aspirations. Material wellbeing, economic growth and wealth creation are important. But, to create a world of true happiness, peace and wellbeing, wealth must be created for a noble reason. Economics, commerce and trade, without a true understanding of the aspirations of the people it is affecting, cannot bring justice to all. Social transformation can be achieved only when unselfish love, spirituality and a rigorous pursuit of justice are embraced.

It is important to recall that, economics, from the time of Plato through to Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and others, was as deeply concerned with issues of social justice, ethics and morality as with economic analysis itself. However, most students studying economics today learn that Adam Smith was the "father of modern economics" but do not know that he was also a moral philosopher. In 1759, sixteen years before his Wealth of Nations, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which explored the self-interested nature of man and his ability to still make moral decisions based on factors other than selfishness. In the Wealth of Nations, Smith laid the early groundwork for economic analysis, but embedded it in a broader discussion of social justice and the role of government.

Students today know only of Smith's famous analogy of the "invisible hand" and refer to him (rather obliquely) in defence of free markets. They ignore his clear understanding that the pursuit of wealth should not take precedence over social and moral obligations, and of how a "divine Being" produces "the greatest quantity of happiness".

In short, they are taught that the free market as a "way of life" appealed to Adam Smith. However, again they are not told that, Adam Smith distrusted the morality of the market as a morality for society at large. He neither envisioned nor prescribed a capitalist society, but rather a "capitalist economy within society, a society held together by communities of non-capitalist and non-market morality." That morality for Smith, included-among other things- mutual neighbourly love; an obligation to practice justice; a norm of financial support for the government "in proportion to [one's] revenue"; and a tendency in human nature to derive pleasure from the good fortune and happiness of other people.

It is my intention to argue that, grave economic injustice prompts conflict and it is one of the main reasons for the continued local, national and international terrorism. Indeed, as it has been noted, history has shown that poverty often leads to war and armed conflict. If many members of a society suffer from poverty or perceive huge disparities in wealth, they are likely to consider their situation unjust. Furthermore, economic injustice is often linked to unmet human needs, which can give rise to protracted or violent conflict.

Individuals may come to view violence as the only way to address the injustice they have suffered and ensure that their fundamental needs are met. This is especially likely if no procedures are in place to correct the situation or bring about retributive or restorative justice.

Justice conflicts often involve unequal power relationships, where the rights and needs of the weaker group are subordinated to those of the dominant group. This sort of injustice is often rooted in ideologies of exclusion that are deeply embedded in people's ways of thinking and difficult to alter. Such power imbalances limit the bargaining power of the group that suffers from injustice, and make it more likely that the group will go to extreme ends to make its voice heard.

Therefore, as history has shown, time and again, it is futile to believe that one can beat terrorism through the use of a brutal force alone. We must understand that, it was the brutal force which created the terrorism to begin with. In this regard, the wise words of Albert Einstein rings true, "The world cannot get out of its current state of crisis with the same thinking that got it there in the first place".

Our ability to project justice onto the world requires love, the unconditional search for absolute truth, the capacity to engage in an intimate dialogue with the natural universe within. Justice is all about empowerment. If you can empower yourself and others with justice, then, sustainability and good globalisation will follow.

There is an urgent need about realizing unselfish love in our globalising world. Love is a joyful and full-hearted affirmation of the well-being of others that can be expressed in the forms of tolerance and forbearance, forgiveness and reconciliation, compassion and care, and service to the neediest as well as to the nearest. When we extend ourselves to others in this way we become happier and more content, for paradoxically, in the giving of self lies the unsought discovery of self. Moreover, given our desire to realise a globalisation which is good for all, it should be noted that, social transformation can occur only when unselfish love, spiritual experience and a rigorous pursuit of justice are linked.

The ethical and spiritual teachings of all religions and their striving for the common good can provide a clear and focused model of moral behaviour in what has been termed "the market place". The religious and business values and sentiments, such as human dignity, communal solidarity, humility, patience, service, compassion, reciprocity, social justice, equity, efficiency, growth and profit should go together, hand-in-hand, leading to Globalisation for the Common Good, where every one is a winner. We should acknowledge that, the marketplace is not just an economic sphere, but, it is a region of the human spirit, compassion and dignity.

The call for this dialogue is an appeal to the deep instinctive understanding of the common good that all people share. It is an appeal to our essential humanity to deal with some of the most pressing concerns of peoples the world over. Religion has always been a major factor in the growth of human civilisation. Business and wealth creation when they are for a noble reason are blessed and vital for human survival.

As it has been noted, because the yearning for justice is a natural substance running through humanity's cells, by denying it we only pour more fuel on guilt's fire. While love of justice can yield great harvests for individuals, communities, societies, and nature as a whole, this same passion can surface as hatred and violence when it is not given the freedom to permeate our lives and keep our inner longing alive.

Whether caught in material or spiritual poverty, those robbed of the right to justice, become justifiably angry and hateful. These emotions, in turn, inflame vengeful actions that perpetuate more violent reactions. This cycle of violence and misery, can be broken only with justice. This is the truth into which we must tune. This is the dream we must bring into being: this is Globalisation for the Common Good.

Paul Ormerod, former Director of Economics at the Henley Centre for Forecasting, in his book, The Death of Economics notes that" Good economists know, from work carried out within their discipline, that the foundations of their subject are virtually non-existent…Conventional economics offer prescriptions for the problems of inflation and unemployment which are at best misleading and at worst dangerously wrong…Despite its powerful influence on public life, its achievements are as limited as those of pre-Newtonian physics…it is to argue that conventional economics offers a very misleading view of how the world actually operates, and it needs to be replaced".

An equally accomplished economist, Mark Lutz, in his book, Economics for the Common Good, observes that "Modern economics is the science of self-interest, of how to best accommodate individual behavior by means of markets and the commodification of human relations…In this economic world view, the traditional human faculty of reason gets short-changed and degraded to act as the servant of sensory desires. There is no room for logic of human values and rationally founded ethics. Human aspirations are watered down to skillful shopping behavior and channeled into a stale consumerism. One would think that there must be an alternative way to conceptualize the economy".

Therefore, what is there to be done? Is there an alternative to this selfish, self-seeking, neo-liberal, economic/money-only globalisation?

To this end, I recommend the practical vision and mission of Globalisation for the Common Good. Globalisation for the Common Good means the promotion of ethical, moral and spiritual values - which are shared by all religions - in the areas of economics, commerce, trade and international relations. It emphasizes personal and societal virtues. It calls for understanding and collaborative action - on the part of civil society, private enterprise, the public sector, governments, and national and international institutions - to address major global issues. Globalisation for the common good is predicated on a global economy of sharing and community, grounded in an economic value system whose aim is generosity and the promotion of a just distribution of the world's goods, which are divine gifts.

Globalisation for the Common Good is not about charity. It is not about collecting money. It is about justice. To know justice and to serve it, is to feel the pain of, and to become one with the sufferer; is to ask fundamental questions about the roots of injustice and to fight for their eradication. Today's global problems are not economic or technological only. The solutions are not more economic growth, privatisation or trade liberalisation. What the world needs is a Spiritual Revolution, where I, I, me, me, culture is replaced with we and us culture. Globalisation for the Common Good is that needed culture: the culture of solidarity and oneness with the poor, suppressed, marginalised and excluded. Globalisation for the Common Good is for the practise of Economics of Compassion, Economics of Kindness and Economics of Solidarity. These kinds of economics can only be practised by people who are compassionate and kind. Globalisation for the Common Good is the way to build a world that is just, free and prosperous.



The acknowledgement of God, Ultimate Reality, or the One. Our lives are grounded in an Ultimate Reality, the source of the sacredness of all life and of the spiritual power, hope, and trust that we discover in prayer or meditation, in word or silence, and in our striving for just relationships with all existence.

The investment of Spiritual Capital. The most powerful way for faith and spiritual communities to influence beliefs, norms and institutions is through prophetic voice and public action. Highly visible faith and interfaith affirmation of the great spiritual truths of peace, justice, and the sacredness of the Earth and all life can make a tremendous contribution to Globalisation for the Common Good. Action and service by spiritual and faith communities and groups can provide a vital source of inspiration and energy for the healing of the world.

The practice of selfless Love. The most important point of convergence shared by the world's great spiritual traditions is to be found in the practice and power of selfless love for all humanity. It is the wellspring of the best hope for a better future.

The cultivation of interfaith Dialogue and Engagement. It is absolutely vital that religious and spiritual communities come together with one another in honest and open dialogue. It is also essential that these communities enter into dialogue with secular groups, organizations and governments working for a better world. Religious and spiritual communities - in mutual respect and partnership - must engage the critical issues that face the planetary community as the 21st century unfolds.

The nurturing of cultures of Peace. True cultural evolution is perhaps best measured in the growing rejection of violent approaches to conflict resolution in favour of the cultivation of the infrastructures of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. Our greatest contribution to the future lies in ensuring that our children grow to maturity in cultures of peace.

The struggle for Justice. Justice is the heart of all creation. It is the profound feeling of oneness with all other beings in the universe. Today, it finds its most vital expression in social and economic fairness, concern for others and the vigorous defence of human rights.

The realization of Gender Partnership. Challenging the assumptions and infrastructures of patriarchy is essential to cultural evolution. Women and men, living and working together in harmony and equity, can build stronger, more creative religious communities and societies.

The path of Sustainability. In this rapidly changing world, our reverence for the Earth will determine the fate of the entire community of planetary life. This deep, visionary and unconditional caring for what is yet to come, is the love of life embedded in ecological sustainability.

The commitment to Service. Service is our link to spirit. Personal action for a better world is the discernable manifestation of the divine in the human. The essence of service is the grace of giving. We give because giving is how life begins and how it continues. This process will enhance personal responsibility for the common good.


Globalisation for the Common Good affirms that economics is, above all, concerned with human well-being and happiness in society and with care for the Earth. This cannot be separated from moral and spiritual considerations. The idea of a "value-free" economics is spurious. It demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a human being.

We affirm our conviction that genuine interfaith dialogue and cooperation is a significant way of bringing the world together. It is indispensable to the creation of the harmonious global culture needed to build peace, justice, sustainability and prosperity for all. The call for Globalisation for the Common Good is an appeal to our essential humanity. It engages the most pressing concerns of peoples the world over.

Globalisation for the Common Good, by addressing the crises that face us all, empowers us with humanity, spirituality and love. It engages people of different races, cultures and languages, from a wide variety of backgrounds, all committed to bringing about a world in which there is more solidarity and greater harmony. This spiritual ground for hope at this time of wanton destruction of our world, can help us to recall the ultimate purpose of life and of our journey in this world.



Part Two - Globalisation for the Common Good: How It All Began



The Story of My Life


I was ready to tell

the story of my life

but the ripple of tears

and the agony of my heart

wouldn't let me.


I began to stutter,

saying a word here and there,

and all along I felt

as tender as a crystal

ready to be shattered


in this stormy sea

we call life.

All the big ships

come apart

board by board,


how can I survive

riding a lonely

little boat

with no oars

and no arms?


My boat was finally broken

by the waves

and I broke free

as I tied myself

to a single board.


Though the panic is gone,

I am now offended -

why should I be so helpless,

rising with one wave

and falling with the next?


I don't know

if I am


while I exist

but I know for sure

when I am

I am not


when I am not

then I am.


Now how can I be

a sceptic

about the

resurrection and

coming to life again


since in this world

I have many times

like my own imagination

died and

been born again?


That is why,

after a long agonising life

as a hunter,

I finally let go and got

hunted down and became free



How It All Began

I was born in Tehran, Iran in 1952. In 1971, after finishing high school, I came to England to further my education. In 1974 I married my English wife, Annie, and two years later we emigrated to Canada. I received my BA and MA in Economics from the University of Windsor in 1980 and 1982 respectively. We returned to England in 1982, and in 1986 I was awarded my PhD in Economics from the University of Birmingham.

From 1980 onwards, for the next twenty years, I taught economics in universities, enthusiastically demonstrating how economic theories provided answers to problems of all sorts. I got quite carried away by the beauty, the sophisticated elegance, of complicated mathematical models and theories. But gradually I started to have an empty feeling. I began to suspect that neo-liberal economics was an emperor with no clothes. What good were elegant theories which were unable to explain all the poverty, exclusion, racism, corruption, injustice and unhappiness that exist in the world?

I came to feel that my life as a lecturer was like a make-believe movie: sit and relax … in the end models dreamt up by detached economists will sort out the world's ills! My classrooms were becoming unreal places. I began to ask fundamental questions of myself. Why did I never talk to my students about compassion, dignity, comradeship, solidarity, happiness, spirituality - about the meaning of life? We never debated the biggest questions. Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going to?

I told them to create wealth, but I did not tell them for what reason. I told them about scarcity and competition, but not about abundance and co-operation. I told them about free trade, but not about fair trade; about GNP - Gross National Product - but not about GNH - Gross National Happiness. I told them about profit maximisation and cost minimisation, about the highest returns to the shareholders, but not about social consciousness, accountability to the community, sustainability and respect for creation and the creator. I did not tell them that, without humanity, economics is a house of cards built on shifting sands. Where was the economic theory that reflected my students' real lives? How could I carry on believing in such an unreal world? I could not go on asking them to believe unbelievable theories in the name of economics.

I wanted to run away from all the white elephants: the barren theories and models in my textbooks, the department of economics, the MBA programme which created managers who couldn't manage anything. I could not carry on defending the indefensible. How could I respect modern economics when it had no respect for other disciplines?

These conflicts caused me much frustration and alienation, leading to heartache and despair. I needed to rediscover myself and a real-life economics. After a proud twenty-year academic career, I resigned from my position as lecturer and, after a debilitating year of soul-searching, decided that I would become a student all over again. I would study theology and philosophy, disciplines nobody had taught me when I was a student of economics.

It was at this difficult time that I came to understand that I needed to bring spirituality, compassion, ethics and morality back into economics itself, to make this dismal science once again relevant to and concerned with the common good. It was now that I made the following discoveries:


• Economics, from the time of Plato right through to Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, was as deeply concerned with issues of social justice, ethics and morality as it was with economic analysis. Most economics students today learn that Adam Smith was the 'father of modern economics' but not that he was also a moral philosopher. In 1759, sixteen years before his famous Wealth of Nations, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which explored the self-interested nature of man and his ability nevertheless to make moral decisions based on factors other than selfishness. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith laid the early groundwork for economic analysis, but he embedded it in a broader discussion of social justice and the role of government. Students today know only of his analogy of the 'invisible hand' and refer to him as defending free markets. They ignore his insight that the pursuit of wealth should not take precedence over social and moral obligations, and his belief that a 'divine Being' gives us 'the greatest quantity of happiness'. They are taught that the free market as a 'way of life' appealed to Adam Smith but not that he distrusted the morality of the market as a morality for society at large. He neither envisioned nor prescribed a capitalist society, but rather a 'capitalist economy within society, a society held together by communities of non-capitalist and non-market morality'. That morality for Smith included neighbourly love, an obligation to practice justice, a norm of financial support for the government 'in proportion to [one's] revenue', and a tendency in human nature to derive pleasure from the good fortune and happiness of other people.

• The leading figure in the establishment of the American Economic Association (AEA) in 1885 was the progressive economist Richard T. Ely. He sought to combine economic theory with Christian ethics, especially the command to love one's neighbour (as did Adam Smith). He declared that the Church, the State and the individual must work together to fulfil the Kingdom of God on earth. Few economists or economics students today know much of this history: that, for example, twenty of the fifty founding members of the AEA were former or practising ministers. Ely himself was a leading member, in the 1880s, of the Social Gospel movement; he was better known to the American public in this capacity than as an economist. He believed that economics departments should be located in schools of theology because 'Christianity is primarily concerned with this world, and it is the mission of Christianity to bring to pass here a kingdom of righteousness.' As a 'religious subject', economics should provide the base for 'a never-ceasing attack on every wrong institution, until the earth becomes a new earth, and all its cities, cities of God.'

• The focus of economics should be on the benefit and the bounty that the economy produces, on how to let this bounty increase, and how to share the benefits justly among the people for the common good, removing the evils that hinder this process.

• 'Economic rationality' in the shape of neo-liberal globalisation is socially and politically suicidal. Justice and democracy are sacrificed on the altar of a mythical market as forces outside society rather than creations of it.

• Every apparently economic choice is, in reality, a social choice. We can choose a society of basic rights - education, health, housing, child support and a dignified pension - or greed, pandemic inequality, ecological vandalism, civic chaos and social despair. Modern neo-liberal economics ignores the first and promotes the second path as the way to achieve economic efficiency and growth.

• The moral crises of global economic injustice today are integrally spiritual: they signal something terribly amiss in the relationship between human beings and God.

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• Where the moral life and the mystery of God's presence are held in one breath - because the moral life is the same as the mystical life - the moral agency may be found for establishing paths towards a more just, compassionate and sustainable way of living. 'Moral agency' is the active love of creation (for oneself as well as for other people and for the non-human creation); it is the will to orient life around the ongoing well-being of communities and of the global community, prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable; it is the will to create social structures and policies that ensure social justice and ecological sustainability.

• In contrast to this sensibility, which weds spirituality and morality, stands modern economics' persistent tendency to divorce the two, in particular to dissociate the intimate personal experience of a close relationship with God from public moral power.

• It is the belief in collective responsibility and collective endeavour that allows individual freedom to flourish. This can only be realised when we commit ourselves to the common good and begin to serve it.

• There are three justifications for the common good which are not commonly discussed in economics:

1. Human beings need human contact, or sociability. The quality of that interaction is important, quite apart from any material benefits it may bring.

2. Human beings are formed in the community - their education and training in virtue (their preferences) are elements of the common good.

3. A healthy love for the common good is a necessary component of a fully developed personality.


• The marketplace is not just an economic sphere, 'it is a region of the human spirit'. Profound economic questions are divine in nature; in contrast to what is assumed today, they should be concerned with the world of the heart and spirit. Although self-interest is an important source of human motivation, driving the decisions we make in the marketplace every day, those decisions nevertheless have a moral, ethical and spiritual content, because each decision we make affects not only ourselves but others too. We must combine the need for economic efficiency with the need for social justice and environmental sustainability.

• The greatest achievement of modern globalisation will eventually come to be seen as the opening up of possibilities to build a humane and spiritually enriched globalised world through the universalising and globalising of compassion. But for 'others' to become 'us', for the world to become intimate with itself, we have to get to know each other better than we do now. Prejudices have to disappear: we have to see that the cultural, religious and ethnic differences reflect an ultimate creative principle. For this to happen, the great cultures and religions need to enter into genuine dialogue with each other.

• Finally, today more than ever before, given the collapse of Communism and the increasing human and environmental cost of capitalism, there is a pressing need for alternative economic models. Activists are renewing Martin Buber's search for what in 1943 he called 'a genuine third alternative … leading beyond individualism and collectivism, for the life decision of future generations'. Crises for our species such as mass starvation, Aids, unrestrained violence and the degradation of our biosphere - crises that transcend economic systems, political dogmas and national boundaries - are bringing us face-to-face with questions about self-preservation and self-restraint, personal and communal responsibility, moral authority and political power - questions that are at the very core of our religious traditions. If the idea of divine authority offends contemporary sensibilities, the environmental imperatives of creation may be seen to be as pressing as any divine commandments. The 'market value' of the world's great faiths is at an all-time high in the ongoing enterprise of human liberation. It is time to call for a theological economics which can bring us sustainability for the common good.

After concluding my theological studies, I wrote a number of books and articles on my newly discovered areas of interest and founded an annual international conference, 'An Interfaith Perspective on Globalisation for the Common Good', to address the problems and challenges of globalisation not only from an economic perspective but also from ethical, moral, spiritual and theological points of view.

My first conference ('Common Goals, Common Crises, Common Call and Common Hope') was held in Oxford in 2002. I did not know what to expect, or how many would turn up, but I was convinced it was the right thing to do. We succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. We had sixty senior speakers and many other participants from different parts of the world. I felt humbled and honoured. It was during this Oxford conference that I was pressed by many delegates to make it an annual event.

I enthusiastically took up the challenge but decided that, as we were concerned with globalisation, the conference should be held in a different country each year, extending the opportunities for dialogue and of learning from each other. Moreover, each conference was to be in association with a local organisation with aims similar to ours. So our first conference in Oxford gave birth to a global movement to promote and serve the common good.

The second conference, 'Ethics, Spirituality and Religions: Transforming Globalisation for the Common Good', was held in St Petersburg in 2003, co-convened with Dr Tatiana Roskoshnaya, Director of the Institute for Ecological Security in St Petersburg. I had previously met Tatiana in London while attending a conference and she had shared with me her concern for what was taking place in Russia under the name of free-market privatisation and deregulation. She invited us to hold the conference there, believing it could demonstrate that there are alternatives to the economics of individualism and greed. Once again it was very successful, with forty-four senior speakers and many other international participants.

The third conference, 'Integrity, Spirituality, Ethics and Accountability: Transforming Business, Corporate Social Responsibility and Globalisation for the Common Good' was held in Dubai in 2004, again with forty-four senior speakers and many other participants. We were truly grateful to the Iranian Business Council (IBC) in Dubai for organising a wonderful event, 'Iran and Globalisation for the Common Good', followed by an unforgettable Persian Gala Dinner and entertainment. The event was under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minster of Finance. Six hundred invited guests, senior politicians and businessmen, foreign diplomats, academics and religious and cultural leaders attended the event. Thanks to IBC and its visionary President Abbas Bolurfrushan, we were able to share our vision with some of the most senior global leaders.

The fourth conference, 'Africa and Globalisation for the Common Good: The Quest for Justice and Peace' was held at the Nishkam Puran Institute (NPI) in Kericho, Kenya, in April 2005 under the esteemed patronage of the Hon Dr A.A. Moody Awori, MP, Kenyan Vice-President and Minister for Home Affairs. It was co-convened with Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, known to all as Baba Ji, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at our first conference in Oxford.

The fifth conference, to be held at the Chaminade University of Honolulu in 2006 as part of a series of events celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the university, will be co-convened with a long-term friend of globalisation for the common good, Professor David Coleman.

Our work has benefited greatly from the opening of our own website for which I am grateful to my good friend and colleague Dr Josef Boehle.

Many campaigners for a better world, wishing to serve and to promote the common good, often face an uphill battle every day. In this final paragraph, I wish to quote a poem from Hafez, the 14th century Persian philosopher of love, a seeker of wisdom who became a poet of genius, a lover of truth who has transcended the ages. Hope this poem will be a source of hope and inspiration to all of us.


Don't Despair Walk On


Josef to his father in Canaan shall return, don't despair walk on;

and Jacob's hut will brighten with flowers, don't despair walk on.


Aching hearts heal in time, vanished hopes reappear,

the disparate mind will be pacified, don't despair walk on.


As the spring of life grows the newly green meadow,

roses will crown the sweet nightingale's song, don't despair walk on.


If the world does not turn to your whims these few days,

cosmic cycles are preparing to change, don't despair walk on.


If desperation whispers you will never know God,

it's the talk of hidden games in the veil, don't despair walk on.


O heart, when the vast flood slashes life to its roots,

Captain Noah waits to steer you ashore, don't despair walk on.


If you trek as a pilgrim through sands to Kaabeh,

with thorns lodged deep in your soul shouting why, don't despair walk on.


Though oases hide dangers and your destiny's far,

there's no pathway that goes on forever, don't despair walk on.


My trials and enemies face me on their own,

but mystery always backs up my stand, don't despair walk on.


Hafez, weakened by poverty, alone in the dark,

this night is your pathway into the light, don't despair walk on.



*Kamran Mofid, PhD (Econ), Founder, An Inter-faith Perspective on Globalisation for the Common Good; Co- Convenor, with Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Africa and Globalisation for the Common Good: The Quest for Justice and Peace, An International Conference, Kericho, Kenya, 21-24 April, 2005. More about For The Common Good.

A New Book by Kamran Mofid and Rev. Marcus Braybrooke, Promoting the Common Good: Bringing Economics and Theology Together Again, Shepheard- Walwyn (Publishers), London, June 2005.

Book details and you can pre-order it here.




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