Some Problems With Socialism

I recently heard a comment along these lines: perhaps many people who recognize the ideals of socialism in our president-elect actually think it’s a good thing. Can that be true? It’s bugged me since election day. I had thought that Americans in general were astute and freedom-loving enough to recognize a threat to our liberal (as in freedom) republican (as in a republic) ideals and neutralize it. On the other hand, it’s possible that so many Americans disregarded such an important issue altogether because of race.

Unfortunately, race has been a seriously divisive problem in the US even up to November 4. Others may disagree with me on this, but I believe that any discrimination based upon race, as such, is morally wrong — even the kind of discrimination called “affirmative action.” We are all descended from one gene pool: first Adam and Eve, and later Noah and his wife. (Well, I suppose there could be some rare instances where someone could justify racial discrimination, such as in auditions for a character in a play whose description calls for a particular race. But qualifications like that are not usually the case. In fact, notice Denzel Washington’s excellent casting in Kenneth Branaugh’s Much Ado about Nothing.) God created us to have many differences in appearance, and these are often manifested as family resemblances. Racial discrimination is exactly the same thing as discrimination based upon family resemblances.

Socialism is an economic philosophy meant to be a halfway point to pure communism. In reality, the ideal of communism was never realized by the communist countries, so that their economies — until China’s recent capitalistic infusion — were more accurately described as socialist.

The economic philosophies of the most famous fascist countries in the 20th Century (Italy under Mussolini and Germany under you-know-who) were also socialist. In fact, the full name of you-know-who’s infamous party even incorporated the word for socialism. During the rise of these governments, they were heralded as a wonderful thing by many Americans, particularly the Progressives. Even the German use of eugenics (the systematic elimination of “undesirable” genetic traits by forced manipulation of the reproduction of a populace) was welcomed in some American circles. By the way, that was also a form of racism as morally wrong as anti-semitism.

Speaking of Nazi anti-semitism, it wasn’t all about race. It was just as much about socialism. For historical reasons, many Jews had become an economically independent, capitalist force in Europe, standing in the way of the progressive socialist spirit. Genocide became another means for the advancement of socialism. (Interesting parallel today: the sterile genocide of unwanted children before they are born. Abortion also has racial overtones, since most of its millions of American victims are minorities.)

Mussolini was a rock star in America. His form of socialism was a bit different than the one in Germany, but they were kindred spirits. It’s interesting to note that one of Mussolini’s inspirations was the American national efficiencies implemented during and after WWI. Those efficiencies involved the loss of certain freedoms, which has often been justified in war, including the War on Terror, with the assumption that the freedoms will return afterward. I suspect that some freedoms do not return.

Socialism is all about the sacrifice of individual freedom and responsibility in the hope that a central government will be able to bear that responsibility for us all, and do it better than we could do it individually. By contrast, the United States was founded and flourished upon the principles of individual freedom and responsibility. This entails individual risk-taking, which means that everyone has the chance to fail in what we do, and in fact we will fail sometimes. It entails the assumption that hard work, wisdom, good character, and a godly life are the best way to earthly success. It’s what the founders of the United States called “the pursuit of happiness.” It can’t happen without “life” and “liberty.” Socialism, on the other hand, promises that if you give up your liberty — freedom to act and assume responsibility for yourself — the government will control your life to the extent that you will not have to pursue happiness any more. Instead, the government will give you happiness.

Socialism has never kept its promise. Why not? Because we live in a sinful world, after all. Read Genesis chapter 3. That still applies in a socialist economy. Socialism appeals to most people on some level, because we covet the success of our neighbors. Greener grass, and all that. The covetous part of us wants the government to “spread the wealth around,” to use recent campaign rhetoric in which Mr. Obama was defending his socialist agenda.

Capitalism, on the other hand, promises much less, and often keeps its promises. It doesn’t promise success, but rather the freedom for you to pursue it. It doesn’t promise wealth, but the opportunity for you to create it. Sometimes great injustices have taken place in a capitalist system, because again, we still live in a sinful world. That is exactly the reason why we have a justice system. But the existence of lawbreakers does not mean there’s something wrong with the laws. It means there’s something wrong with the lawbreakers.

Capitalism, not socialism, respects the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not steal.” It respects the concept of private property, which we should have the freedom to use as we wish in the pursuit of success. While for many, this pursuit may be motivated by pure selfishness and greed, for Christians it is motivated by love for our neighbors. When we succeed, it’s a blessing upon our neighbors in a capitalist economy. It creates and improves jobs, and provides the Christian with wealth which we can use to spread the Gospel of forgiveness in Christ and also alleviate the physical suffering that naturally occurs in an imperfect world. If we don’t do this as well as we should, it is not a reflection upon capitalism, but upon the sinfulness in each of us.

Because socialism favors the collective over the individual, it doesn’t recognize individual rights, such as we find in the Bill of Rights. Even freedom of religion, particularly Christianity, is inimical to socialism. Just hear what happened in East Germany first under you-know-who, and later under the communists. Socialism’s advocates have trouble implementing socialism where the people cherish and make use of those rights: freedom for the free exercise of religion, of speech, of assembly, of the press, and to petition the Government for redress. That’s only in the first amendment, but the second amendment gives those individual freedoms teeth.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The purpose for allowing the populace to keep and bear (carry) weapons is not only to provide a last line of defense against foreign attack, though it does have that good effect. It’s also to better secure the freedom of the people from the tyranny of the federal government, which might some day try to take away that freedom. In other words, the second amendment is a defense against socialism.

The president-elect has pledged not “to take away your guns.” But will he try to prevent Americans from acquiring new arms? Will he try to prevent us from buying ammunition? Will he seek to make the keeping and bearing of arms prohibitively expensive through punitive taxation? That’s what’s been happening to the cigarette industry: taxation as a means to shape society. I don’t advocate smoking, but who can deny that what’s being attempted there is the loss of freedom and individual responsibility? Some fear that the president-elect will use the same strategy against the second amendment.

Why? Why would a socialist work against the second amendment? The reason should be obvious: because a well-regulated (armed) Militia is necessary to the security of a free state.

Socialism is not a good thing. Its advocates pander to the sin of coveting, and break the seventh commandment by not respecting private property. Some of its advocates go further, breaking the fifth commandment by either seeking the harm of some individuals or at least failing to protect them.

Capitalism, as an alternative, does not fix all our woes either. In fact, no economic system can do that, because this is a sinful world. However, capitalism encourages individual liberty and responsibility, which are in accord with God’s will.

2 thoughts on “Some Problems With Socialism

  1. re. “perhaps many people who recognize the ideals of socialism in our president-elect actually think it’s a good thing. Can that be true?”

    I think it is true. A book I read earlier in the year [Crunchy Cons]( by Rod Dreher. (It’s got a great subtitle, but too long to remember or include.) In his book, Mr Dreher tried to show that not all conservatives fit the stereotypical mainstream America “moving on up” mentality, and so were marginalized from the mainstream Conservative movement.

    He showed many ways in which he felt there was a movement toward more eco-friendly, community centric ideas among conservatives. Things like recycling, eating organic, walking or taking the bus, buying old homes in old neighborhoods…

    I could really appreciate much of what he said, because I have often felt that certain topics have been hijacked by the Democrats and so there is no room for dialogue on such ideas within conservatism.

    But, my biggest problem with this guy is that he seemed to think that conservatives were all about money. “It’s always the bottom line with conservatives.”

    He wants to draw a natural connection between people of faith and this desire to help others and take care of the earth and our communities. He refers to it as sacramental living (Traditional Catholic and Eastern Orthodox background). I think what he means is kind of similar to the Lutheran doctrine of vocation. Having our decisions for every-day living being a thoughtful reflection of our faith.

    But somehow, he wants to work through politics to pass policy which would take into account the leanings of like-minded conservatives. Without realizing that the underlying difference in conservatism is not the all about money issue, but the limited government issue.

    I heard him interviewed on [Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith]( recently, and I got so mad listening to him, I was ready to call in until Joe reminded me that it was a rebroadcast from an earlier show. Again, he spoke as though he only saw selfishness in mainstream conservatives.

    And this guy has a pretty big following. There are web groups dedicated to Crunchy-Con discussion and philosophy.

    Another example is a friend with whom, in June, I discussed the upcoming election. She was concerned that conservatives were not willing to give of what we had toward lifting others up through the government programs. And in fact she even said something very close to this, I cannot remember her exact words right now. “But isn’t it also important for us as Christians to help others by supporting these programs and those who wish to implement them?”

    And this is a friend who has always been very conservative.

    I think the election and campaign season this time has been the worst for those who depend upon the MSM for their information. There are many people out there who have typically considered themselves Republicans but do not make use of other sources of information. Many consider talk radio too extreme or the hosts too obnoxious for their taste, so they refuse to listen. And worse they assume that those of us who do listen have been brainwashed or taken in. So then we are no longer considered reliable sources of information.

    I know of several people who said things like, “Well I watched both conventions and the debates, so that should be enough to make my decision, right? I’m getting the information straight from the candidates themselves.”

    I guess this got longer than I intended, but, yes, I do think that many people think the socialist type ideas are fine and even good. I think our education systems (not just public) have let us down to the point that we as a society are no longer capable of either historical analysis or critical thought.

    And the very fabric of our lives has become strongly inclined toward emotional decisions rather than logical process.


  2. Jesse, thank you for what you are doing. I love the new site. You are a shepherd of God–small “s” on purpose as you would like. I wish I could respond more, but working 24/7 at two full time jobs and being a father, well, I know you understand. Keep fighting the Good Fight. Your posts are so good for me. Hopefully soon we can speak on the phone about all the ELS “crap” and hopefully we can speak face to face very soon. I do have vacation days coming and I think it could happen very much sooner than later. God be with you always, brother. You and I think alike not only theologically, but politically. Not in the that we are both conservatives, but that we both trust the One True God and His Wisdom and Will. I would have rather have the most evil ruler which would cause more to come to the knowledge of the Truth, than the most awesome ruler which would allow the peoples of the world to think that they did not need The Saviour–Jesus the Christ of all. Amen brother.

    Kent–Pastor and social services worker in the land of the pot growers, sellers, non tax-paying, democrat, losers!

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