Baha'is believe that two forces-- the elements of a historical dialectic already taking place-- will bring about mankind's golden age: first, the transformation of man, his spiritual rebirth through God's creative word; secondly, the transformation of society both through the change in its structures according to the divine will proclaimed by Baha'u'llah, and through the establishment by means of Baha'u'llah's world order, of universal justice in which all men can live in peace. (29:1)
We are experiencing this process of the fall of the old order and the building up of the new one. The collapse of the old order, however painful and dangerous, is necessary and cannot be stopped; it is as necessary as the sweeping away of the leaves from the trees by the cold wind in winter, which makes room for the tender buds, already perceptible. (29:2)
But there is one point we (Baha'is) must not lose sight of: it is not our duty to tear down the old order which we find unacceptable. Over a hundred years ago, at a time when people thought "We've really come a long way", and when no one could imagine the extent of the present cultural decadence, Baha'u'llah foretold the breaking down of the old social order and the rise of the new one: "Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead (Gl)." Today we are realizing the meaning of these words. Our forms of government are being questioned. Young people are rebelling against the existing social order. The entire world is crying out for reforms and-- one cannot help feeling-- the more it is reformed, the more disastrous is the confusion and the more insoluble become our problems and conflicts. (29:3)
Why? Because the foundations of our cultures, the great religions, have lost their power and are breaking up, because the values given to us by the religions and which form the basis of our culture are no longer considered binding; people no longer "believe" in them. Thus, our epoch is no longer an epoch of reforms, nor of reformations. The sick body of mankind can no longer be healed with palliatives but only with a radical cure. Radical means "from the root" and healing from the root implies laying a new foundation for a stable society. This foundation is a new faith inspiring man with a new consciousness, a world consciousness, giving him a new set of values, a goal and a meaning to his life and showing him a way out of his hopelessness. Thus Baha'is are actually the real "radicals" and the Baha'i Faith is the most radical movement today. But Baha'is are not radical in their methods; they are neither subversive nor violent. They are no fermenting-agents in the process of decomposition and no revolutionaries climbing the barricades and throwing bombs. They know that this old, mouldy system will burst apart by itself like rotten fruit without their intervention, and they know what their task is: the building up of the new order. (30:1)
This explains why Baha'is do not engage in political activities and may not belong to any political party. For today every political activity must be carried out within a system and must use the methods of that system which is destined to fall. Moreover, the Baha'i Faith would lose its power to unite if its believers were to become involved in political disputes as a "party"-- that is, restricted in a separatist way-- or as members of the different existing parties. Shoghi Effendi has convincingly demonstrated that the Faith of God suffers when believers enter "the arena of party politics". "We Baha'is, his secretary wrote on his behalf, "are one the world over; we are seeking to build up a new World Order, divine in origin. How can we do this if every Baha'i is a member of a different political party... Where is our unity then?... The best way for a Baha'i to serve his country and the world is to work for the establishment of Baha'u'llah's World Order which will gradually unite all men and do away with divisive political systems and religious creeds."