The Social Problem:
Here the author spells out his main aim for writing the book. It is not philosophy for philosophy's sake. The purpose is to present Islam as an alternative system superior to capitalism and secular democracy on the one hand and to Marxism and socialism on the other.
Although devoid of an articulate worldview or ideology, capitalistic democracies are materialistic to the core. Dissociating themselves from all transcendental principles, they claim to promote the interests and rights of the individual and safeguard his economic, political liberties and freedom of expression and thought. The interests of the individual are regarded as primary and are emphasized at the cost of the interests of society. The assumption is that since all individuals seek their interests, the provision of individual freedom leads to the automatic fulfillment of the interests of society, which are regarded as the sum of individual interests.
However, due to the dominant materialistic outlook on life in capitalistic societies, the pursuit of individual self-interest does not transcend the purview of materialism. Nearly all moral values, most of which do not lie within the purview of materialistic self-seeking of individuals, are neglected, causing deep harm to society's welfare. The rights of the minority are neglected. Unlimited economic freedom permits a handful of capitalists to dominate the majority of people and to usurp their freedoms and rights. With the immense economic resources at their disposal, the wealthy capitalists take control of the mass media, government, legislature and judiciary. Even foreign countries and peoples are not secure from their greed for cheap raw materials, cheap labour, and markets for finished products. Imperialism, hence, is a direct outcome of capitalistic democracy.
In this dehumanizing hell of materialism and pursuit of individual self-interest there is no place for love, mercy, self-denial or any other higher human value.
Dialectical materialism sees all evils of capitalism to be rooted in the institution of private property. If private property is abolished and all property becomes public, passing from the possession and control of the individual into those of the community, individual ambition will die.
All will voluntarily pool the fruits of their labour for the common benefit. The higher cultural values will be put within the reach of all alike through community support and the diffusion of education.
Although communism solved some of the problems of capitalism at the cost of immense human suffering, the remedy was only partial. Dictatorship, repression, deprival of individual freedoms, constant fear of imprisonment, torture and execution for the dissidents, loss of economic vigour due to absence of individual initiative and motivation, the debasement of man's dignity these are some of the outcomes of the socialist solution.
In the view of Martyr al-Sadr, the evil of capitalism lies not in private property but in the neglect of the spiritual dimensions of man's being. Moreover, self-seeking is inherent in human nature; it is not a product of the institution of private property, as alleged by Marx. The failure of secular democracies lies in their emphasis on individualism and their inability to stimulate and promote the higher spiritual aspect of man's self-seeking nature, whose activation is vital for arising man's altruistic potentialities so significant for society's welfare. Marxism makes the mistake of abolishing private property while keeping intact capitalism's destructive materialistic world view. As a result, it ends up substituting a handful of bureaucrats and party officials for a handful of capitalists who wield all power and control the society's wealth and resources.
Both capitalism and communism fail to present a correct world outlook and to formulate an ideology capable of solving the diverse problems of human society. This failure is rooted in their materialist world view and their inadequate understanding of man's nature.