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
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
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
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.