Sunday, January 03, 2016

On Socialism

There are quite a few in the country who support Bernie Sanders for president. They like his Socialism and the promises of lots of free stuff. During his quest for the Democrat nomination, Bernie promised everything but the kitchen sink. I think he'd promise that, too, if he could find anyone to let him in the kitchen.

I let myself get sucked into a Facebook debate with one of the eastern Socialists who sounded more like a Marxist than a democratic socialist. Of course I know Marx's position was deeply socialist. My opponent continually referred to the capitalist system as a system designed to steal from those who financially underwrite labor.

The fact is socialism has been tried and found wanting. America saw several socialistic or communal experiments and none of them worked. Robert Owen, an English factory owner, purchased property in Indiana to set up one of the several socialist experiments. Owen believed his experiment would succeed so fantastically New Harmony, Indiana would outstrip Cincinnati in growth. New Harmony fell apart in short order and Cincinnati grew into the Queen City of the West.

Every attempt at socialism, wherever enacted, met similar fates. Socialism as an idealistic system is theoretically fantastic. But, was Lady Thatcher remarked, "Socialism is great until you run out of someone else's money."

Socialism cannot work because it cannot overcome fallen human nature. Human beings are by nature selfish. For socialism to work humanity's selfish nature.

If I remember correctly, it was Nikita Kruschev who said the Soviet Union intended to create a human nature as different as an astronaut is from a caveman. We all know how that worked out!

There are only two possible ways to transform human nature from selfish to selfless.

(1) Coercion. Socialism may be forced. Government has to set up a system to enforce the acceptance of socialism.  Perhaps, in some cases, parrties may persuade a nation to accept its policies but the temptation to meet selfish demands soon spends the nation into bankruptcy.This sort of thing can be seen in Europe. Even Scandinavian countries, which are touted as the best examples of socialism's success, find themselves nearly bankrupt. When these nations fall the only recourse is force or change.

(2) Conversion. The only other option is conversion and the only the gospel can truly change a human heart. The Judeo-Christian ethic promotes compassion, empathy, and stepping up to meet needs. That the United States is the most generous nation in the world is no accident. The Christian ethic and value system predominated in the United States for generations. A majority of Americans evidenced biblical Christianity until the mid-20th century. When the gospel is understood and believed the heart is transformed by a teaching pushing the believer to adopt a system of living which rejects conformity to the world's (predominately selfish) values and encourages the believer to live a life in which sharing is a higher value than accumulating, where love for others is a higher value than love for self.

To close this essay, I want to point out that socialism and Marxism are Christian heresies. Like our current crop of liberals and social progrsssives, Marx and other socialists saw human beings as basically good people who sometimes do bad things. In reality, human beings are corrupt yet sometimes do good things. The different worldview makes all the difference.