Recently, one of the members of my congregation introduced me to a small book published by the Foundation for Economic education. This book, edited by Leonard E. Read, comes in the way of 32 small chapters written by ten different economist. It’s purpose is to explode the simple myths that surround and support Socialism that are often parroted by rank and file Americans who have been exposed to just enough Marxist economic theory to not realize the absolute lunacy that is socialism.
What I will offer on IronInk will be inspired by these chapters but I will be trying to put the gist of the chapter in my own words. If you want to purchase the book I am tracking with the title of that book is, “Cliches of Socialism.”
One reason I am doing this is because of a recent conversation I had with a community acquaintance who professes Christ. In the course of that conversation it became evident that he believed that collectivism could be perfectly consistent with Biblical Christianity. It is my hope that in writing these bromides of Socialism one effect will be to educate Christians on the contradiction that exists between Marxist economics and Biblical Christianity. It would seem, in my estimation, to be enough that the Scripture teaches us “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” This commandment implies private property for it certainly is not possible to steal if private property doesn’t exist to steal. So the Scripture teaches private ownership, faults plundering (Isaiah 33:1) and thieving (I Cor. 5:10, 6:10) and Socialism is a economic / political theory that is based upon the theft of private ownership by the State, legal plundering by the State, and sanctioned theft by the State. Given this reality I continue to be befuddled that my conversation partner mentioned earlier would insist that the Bible does not teach against Socialism. But … this is America where the Christianity is shallow and the thought processes are shallower still. Now combine shallow Christianity with a dumbed down citizenry with the reality that Christianity has often been reinterpreted through a Marxist grid and one has the perfect recipe for the making of Christians who look more like Karl Marx than they do Jesus Christ.
Now on top of this cake of “Christian Socialism,” frost it with liberal amounts of R2K “Christianity” which teaches that the Scriptures do not speak to the economic realm (or family realm, or education realm, or art realm, or history realm, etc.) and we should only be surprised when we meet a fellow believer who actually does understand that Christianity and Marxist economic theories are in perpetual and unresolvable conflict.
Keep in mind here that even though Scripture is foursquare against theft (whether by individuals who comprise official government agencies or by individuals who do not comprise official government agencies) Scripture is just as adamantly for the necessity to care for the poor and the disadvantaged. All because I insist, along with Scripture, that thievery by the State with the putative purpose of “providing for the poor,” is wicked theft doesn’t mean that I, following Scripture, am against charity. I am for the poor being relieved. I am simply opposed to relief for the poor being done at the point of a gun being held by some of the most well intentioned yet malevolent people who walk the planet who insist that they are doing what they are doing only because they love the poor, when in point of fact their policies testify to the great lack of compassion they have for the poor.
So our first Socialist Bromide for the day is,
THE MORE COMPLEX THE SOCIETY, THE MORE GOVERNMENT CONTROL WE NEED
This argument for legalizing government theft to the end of redistribution of wealth insists that free markets were acceptable once upon a time for our hayseed hick Fathers and Mothers who lived in simpler times but now that we have a more complex and vigorous society certainly one can understand the necessity of accepting more government control in our lives — government control that includes individuals in the government taking from powerful Peter to give to poor penniless Paul.
The first way to dismiss this bromide is to ask what complexity of society has to do with the proper functioning of free individuals exercising freedom to choose from a bouquet of goods that can be found in a free market. In point of fact one could easily argue that if the simplest society of two people could not be controlled by a centralized mind that would be charged with making all the decisions as what each of the two people in our simple society will invent, discover, or create then how could we expect a centralized government to plan a economy of 300 million Americans who are all simultaneously inventing, discovering, and creating? If a socialist Government headed by the wisest man who ever lived could not determine with efficiency how two people would trade with one another, how much time each invested in labor for whatever commodity they wished to sell or exchange, or what price each would set for the goods they wished to market, then how could a socialist Government headed and staffed by the wisest people who ever lived efficiently centrally plan the actions of 300 million people? In point of fact it would seem to be the case that the simplest of observations demands us to conclude that the more complex society the less Statist intervention we can tolerate.
A second way to dismiss this bromide would be to ask the person uttering the bromide (and here we will assume that the bromide spokesmen is a Christian) whether or not a government in the kind of control he is suggesting is necessary for complex societies would not effectively serve as God in that society. If a government has control, through central planning, of a people’s lives and decision making process, if that government is delegated with the authority to make everything “fair,” and to insure that everyone is “equal” (two central pillars in Socialist pleadings) it would seem that such a government would effectively be serving as God walking on the Earth. For Christians to support such a government like this would not only be a case where they would be supporting legalized theft but they would also be supporting the violation of the first commandment.
No, complexity of society is not a self-evident defeater of the notion of free markets or of free individuals. In point of fact, I might argue that it is only free markets that can account for the complexity of society. Without free markets which include the free flow of goods and services society would quickly devolve into a constrained and ugly simplicity. If anything complexity of society demands even more free markets in order to maintain the complexity of society.
Tomorrow, Bromide #2 — “If We Had No Social Security Many People Would Go Hungry”