Capitalism is based on greed pastor, the conversation began. Socialism, don’t you see, is based on need. I listened as a bright energetic young man pleaded his case with his pastor and his friend. Capitalism, he recited, makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Such went the brief yet pointed conversation I had recently with a young college student in Ohio. Like wind moving through the trees, the waves of socialism continue to blow across an ever-larger segment of our culture today.
In a recent Federalist article by Alexander Zubatov, “The newfound openness of large numbers of Americans to socialism is, by now, a well-documented phenomenon. According to a Gallup Poll from earlier this year, 43% of Americans now believe that some form of socialism would be a good thing, in contrast to 51% who are still against it. A Harris Poll found that four in 10 Americans prefer socialism to capitalism.”
One might ask, but how can this be? In America of all places? I have a three-part response to that question. First, biblical illiteracy. With more than three generations who are non-churched in America today, a biblical worldview of everything from life, creation, political and economic issues, which the Bible does speak to, is foreign to a large number of Americans. Secondly, historical illiteracy. The Godly American heritage we enjoy as a nation has been sadly lost on generations who would benefit greatly from knowing it’s truth. All of which leads me to the third reason, civic illiteracy. Many Americans have no idea how government truly works at every level. Combine those ingredients and you have a culture ripe for believing in a failed approach to government (socialism) that is repackaged and sold through the news and media machine that shapes much of our world today.
As I shared recently, a Barna poll found that more Americans think Jesus would prefer socialism (24%) than those who believe he would prefer capitalism (14%). The other 62% responded neither or not sure, but the poll still reveals a disturbing trend. Millennials have witnessed much in their lifetimes that cause them to ask good questions. I so enjoyed Julie Roys, an Op-Ed Contributor in the Christian Post who in regard to socialism writes, “Though it may sound compassionate and Christian, it’s actually antithetical to everything Christianity teaches.”
She goes on to unpack the reasons why: First, Socialism is Based on a Materialistic Worldview This worldview contradicts Christianity, which affirms the existence of both a material and a non-material world — and teaches that mankind’s greatest problems are spiritual. Socialism Punishes Virtue… Socialists want to distribute wealth to individuals according to their need, regardless of virtue. As Karl Marx, famously said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Socialism Endorses Stealing… Socialists don’t believe in private property. And, some Christian socialists actually assert that the Bible doesn’t either. That’s preposterous.
Socialism Encourages Envy and Class Warfare Karl Marx, who viewed history as a series of class struggles between the rich and the poor — and advocated overthrowing the ruling class. Scripture strongly warns the rich and powerful not to oppress the poor. In fact, Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for his maker …” The rich are not causing all the problems in American society… the problem is still sin! Lastly, Socialism Seeks to Destroy Marriage & Family… Essentially, what socialism seeks is for the state to replace the family. That way, it can indoctrinate children in its Leftist way of thinking and remove from them any notions of God and religion. Friedrich Engels, co-author with Marx of the “The Communist Manifesto,” once wrote that the society he envisioned would be one where “the single-family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of children becomes a public affair.”
Capitalism, however, produces a strong work ethic. It produces and promotes overall care for others. It produces a less selfish, not more selfish people. Capitalism teaches us to work more, give more and want less. Socialism teaches people to demand more, take more and want more. Socialism breeds entitlements. Entitlements become rights, which diminish gratitude and create a culture of entitlement.
Ronald Nash in Imprimus wrote recently, “Capitalism is a mechanism that allows natural human desires to be satisfied in a nonviolent way. Little can be done to prevent human beings from wanting to be rich. But what capitalism does is channel that desire into peaceful means that benefit many besides those who wish to improve their own situation… Which choice then should I, as a Christian, make in the selection between capitalism and socialism? Capitalism is quite simply the most moral system, the most effective system, and the most equitable system of economic exchange. When capitalism, the system of free economic exchange, is described fairly, there can be no question that it, rather than socialism or interventionism, comes closer to matching the demands of the biblical ethic.” Everyone I have met in my lifetime that has survived the ravaging effects of socialism personally agrees, it never works and it never will!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council and can be reached at 740-935-1406