Communism is secular Christianity 20

The idea that compassion is the essence of morality, entered history – to become in time a significant ethical philosophy – with the teachings of St Paul.

St. Paul, the author of Christianity, preached to his converts that they must “love all”.[1] How to do this was explained by the writers of the gospels. Forgive them if they harm you. Turn the other cheek. Love the sinner though you hate the sin. It was an ethos that preferred love to justice (in contradiction to Judaism which held justice to be the highest value).

St. Paul went to extreme lengths in explaining how a follower of “Christ Jesus” must conduct himself in relation to other people.

He must humble himself until he was no more in his own eyes than “the filth of the world, the scum, the muck that is scoured from things.”[2] He must live for others, sacrifice himself for others, the only use of his life being for others. Not only every other individual, but the collective of mankind was of more value than the Christian’s own life. The plight of others is what matters, never your own predicament. Your only legitimate happiness must be a product of your giving and yielding to others.

So fanatically against self-consideration was St. Paul that his  ideal Christian society was one in which there was no private property. Share all you have, he told his followers. And the reason he gave for this is particularly pertinent: So that you’ll all be equal in worldly possessions.[3]  

Disdain for private property, and the idealizing of equality also entered history with Christianity.  

St. Paul went even further. You must be prepared to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”[4] You must not be privileged above others. As a Christian you must renounce your  individual wants, talents, aspirations to serve the collective. That way, you are buying the approval of “Christ Jesus”, by whose grace – and only by whose grace – you may be “saved” to live eternally with him. Yet all your efforts to be good according to Pauline precepts might not after all, however painstakingly pursued, buy you that ticket to heaven. And since God is all-knowing, your fate is pre-determined.

To the Christian, this life was only a time of preparation for eternity. What mattered for the Christian was what happened to his “soul” after his bodily death. Naturally, it became a cult of martyrdom. Christians took up their crosses to follow their Lord; joyfully sought crucifixion for themselves, or death in the lion’s mouth in the Roman arena. Some wore hairshirts. Some sat on the top of tall pillars for years. Some died for “Christ Jesus” in battle with followers of other faiths, or with rival claimants to the certain knowledge of Christian “truth”.

And while human life continues, the Church will be the only power on earth. Both the Catholic and Protestant churches became totalitarian tyrannies whose spies tirelessly sniffed out heretics to be tried, imprisoned, tortured and killed.

When would the eternal life of bliss – or agonizing punishment – begin? Immediately upon your own death, or at the end of time when “Christ Jesus”  will judge the quick and the dead? The answer remains unsettled. But there will be an Apocalypse, a cataclysmic event which will change everything, marking the end of days, and then – if not before – the chosen will live happily ever after in the perfect state of  heaven, ruled over by the all-powerful government of the Triune God; while the rejected burn in hell.

Thus Christianity.

What other ideology claims the moral high ground by justifying its every deed by claiming it to be in the service of the weak, the exploited, the injured, the underdog? Or to put it another way, Justification by Compassion?

What other dogma has it that the plight of the collective matters above all? What other teaches that it is it the duty of the individual to sacrifice himself, his personal wants, talents, aspirations to the greater good of the collective?[6]

In what other ideal society is private property abolished – “so that all will be equal in worldly possessions”? Who decries “privilege”? Who holds equality as the highest ideal? 

In the name of what political orthodoxy were totalitarian tyrannies established whose spies ceaselessly sniffed out heretics to be tried, imprisoned, tortured and killed?

Where do we find revered texts predicting a cataclysmic event that will change everything, after which the chosen will live happily ever after in a perfect state, under the rule of an all-powerful government, while the rejected will be excluded, condemned, punished, and destroyed?

The answer is Communism, learnt from the unquestionable authority of Karl Marx.

Marxist Communism insists that the only power must be the Communist Party.

It predicts an inevitable Revolution as its all-transforming Apocalypse. After the Revolution the faithful – those whom the Communist Party spares – will live happily ever after in a perfect Communist state.

While Communism posits no divinities, it declares that something superior to man’s will determines what must inevitably happen – an hypostasis named History.

It rejects the notions of a supernatural authority and a non-material existence. But the rest of Marxist Communism’s essential doctrine is derived from only one source – Christianity. Though neither Marx nor any of his apostles seem to have been aware of it.

The current head of the Pauline Christian Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has tackled this subject.

AP reports (January 11, 2015):

Pope Francis is insisting that his concern for the poor and critique of the global economic system isn’t some novel, communist-inspired ideology but rather the original and core “touchstone” of the Christian faith.

He is right about that. Communism is inspired by Christianity, not Christianity by Communism.

Some U.S. conservatives have branded the first Latin American pope a Marxist for his frequent critiques of consumerism and focus on a church “that is poor and for the poor”.  But in an interview contained in a new book, Francis explains that his message is rooted in the Gospel and has been echoed by church fathers since Christianity’s first centuries.

Again, he is right.

“The Gospel does not condemn the wealthy, but the idolatry of wealth, the idolatry that makes people indifferent to the call of the poor,” Francis says in This Economy Kills, a study of the pope’s economic and social teachings. …

Wrong. Early Christianity did condemn the wealthy. The Gospel of Luke, for instance, tells a story to make that very point.[7]

Specifically, Francis summarized a verse from the Gospel of Matthew which is the essential mission statement of his papacy: “I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me, clothed me, visited me, took care of me.”

And overlooked the question why “I” was in prison.

“Caring for our neighbor, for those who are poor, who suffer in body and soul, for those who are in need: this is the touchstone. Is it pauperism? No. It is the Gospel.”

Right.

He cites church fathers dating to St. Ambrose and St. John Chrysostom as expressing the same concerns, and noted somewhat wryly that if he had said the same “some would accuse me of giving a Marxist homily”.

Well recognized! Though I cannot resist mentioning in passing that the two saints, Ambrose and John Chrysostom, whom he cites as being especially zealous about caring for the suffering, did not extend their compassion to everyone, they being among the most vicious preachers against the Jews in all history.[8]

How interesting it is that the Pope felt moved to say, not that Marxism and Christianity are different, but merely that of the two similar ideologies, Christianity came first.

To be compassionate is not of course morally wrong. But as a cause so high that in its name human lives may be sacrificed, moral superiority hypocritically claimed, a monopoly of power be instituted, and the unique possession of Truth asserted, it is hideous.

And hideous is the history of both Christianity and its daughter Communism.

 *

Afterword on Charity:

The “first” letter of St. Paul “to the Corinthians”, chapter 13, is a rather good poem declaring love, or charity, to be the highest virtue. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. … And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Whether the poet meant “love” or “charity” has been a bone of contention in Christendom. William Tyndale was sentenced to be burnt at the stake by the Church of Infinite Compassion for translating it with the one word rather than the other.

As an aside, I don’t believe that St Paul was the author of the chapter. It is far too well written to be from the pen of such a clumsy writer as he was. For an example of his poor writing, see his authenticated letter to the Romans.[9]

But what of charity – regarded by Christians as love in practice? Though I am not against it, I do not see it as a great virtue. It is no solution for poverty – just prolongs it.

I do think charity is preferable to Communism/Socialism as a means of redistributing money from those who have earned it to those who have not, private enterprise always being preferable to government control.

But still it is unjust.

To give it is very satisfying to the ego. And contrary to Christian dogma, there’s nothing wrong with self-indulgence.

But as self-advertisement it is repulsive.

Ideally, charity would be practiced only by consenting adults in private.

 

Jillian Becker    January 14, 2015

NOTES

1. Love one another, love all. 1 Thess.4:9 , Rom.13:8, 1 Cor 13. All quotation is from the King James Version of the New Testament.

2. 1 Cor.4:13

3. 2 Cor 8:14

4. Rom.12:12

5. Become the lowest of the low. Phili.2:3; Let us abase ourselves; be fools; 1 Cor.4:10; Be humble, and associate with the lowly. Rom.12:16; Do only the most menial work for a living. 1 Thess.4:11,1 Cor.4:12; Bear affliction –  persecution, injustice – with patience. Rom.12:12-14,  even with joy. 1 Thess.5:16,18

6. It is well documented that numerous loyal members of the the Communist Party, in the USSR and its satellite states, were persuaded by the Party to let it kill them for the sake of the Party. An interesting account in English of how the Communist Party thus devoured its own is Under a Cruel Star by Heda Margolius Kovály, whose husband Rudolf Margolius was a martyr to the greater, humaner, compassionate cause in Communist Czechoslovakia.

7. Luke 16:19-31

8. 379 A.D.  Vicious writing by St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose in Milan who said: “The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy, rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ. They worship the Devil. Their religion is a sickness. The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance, and the Jew must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is essential that all Christians hate them.” He was called the Bishop with the Golden Tongue. St. Ambrose, Bishop of the Church offered to burn the synagogue himself. St. John Chrysostom’s Homilies against the Jews may be found here.

9. eg. of St. Paul’s confused thinking and poor writing, Rom. 5:12-18: “12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

Wrong state of mind 2

Why do economic achievers, like George Soros for instance, who made their splendid fortunes because they had the freedom to do so, want to close that freedom to others? Or to put it another way, why do some who have benefited spectacularly from capitalism then go and vote for socialism and promote anti-free market causes?

We don’t know the answer to that question. There are a number of possible reasons, one of them being that a person might be very good at making money and yet be quite stupid.

Here’s an example of a German magnate who believes that individuals should not be allowed to make decisions for themselves, that bureaucrats know what is best for everybody, and the state should control and distribute the resources of the nation. He speaks for hundreds of millions of Europeans, which is why many European countries – Greece is a case in point – are facing economic ruin.

The story is told in Investor’s Business Daily. We emphatically agree with the editorial opinion.

An ultrawealthy German criticizes private charity, saying it takes “the place of the state.” More disturbing than the statement itself is the sad fact that many in the Western world agree with him.

Der Spiegel reported last week that “Germany’s super-rich have rejected” an invitation to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge,” in which the wealthy promise to give away a majority of their fortunes “either during their lifetime or after their death.” Wealthy Germans, Spiegel says, believe “donations shouldn’t replace duties that would be better carried out by the state.” Among them is a bitter Peter Kramer.

“I find the U.S. initiative highly problematic,” Kramer, a Hamburg-based shipping magnate, said in a Spiegel interview. “You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the U.S.A. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That’s unacceptable.

What is apparently acceptable to these wealthy Germans is the unlimited authority of the state and the prerogative it’s given itself to restrict people’s choices.

“It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires,” Kramer continues. … “What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?”

Is it legitimate for the state to demand wealth from some so it can give it to others? …

Money handed out by the state is taken from productive citizens, then distributed through the corrupt and inefficient system of politics … It’s a system based on coercion.

Even better than private charity is private enterprise. Markets meet needs by creating wealth and growing economies. No system can match capitalism in its ability to bring prosperity to so many.

While there’s a place for charity, it’s merely a patch and should be used with great care. There’s no place, though, for forced redistribution. What’s chilling is that so many still believe there is.

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, Economics, Europe, Germany, liberty, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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Of liberty, libertarians, and charity 0

A nice column by John Stossel at Townhall explains what a libertarian is/believes.

We think it likely that most of our regular readers are, like ourselves, libertarians, and need no such explanation.

Still, the column is a good read. Here’s a taste of it:

Libertarians want government to leave people alone — in both the economic and personal spheres. Leave us free to pursue our hopes and dreams, as long as we don’t hurt anybody else.

Ironically, that used to be called “liberal,” which has the same root as “liberty.” Several hundred years ago, liberalism was a reaction against the stifling rules imposed by aristocracy and established religion.

I wish I could call myself “liberal” now. But the word has been turned on its head. It now means health police, high taxes, speech codes and so forth. …

When I first explained libertarianism to my wife, she said: “That’s cruel! What about the poor and the weak? Let them starve?”

For my FBN [Fox Business Network] show tomorrow, I ask some prominent libertarians that question, including Jeffrey Miron, who teaches economics at Harvard.

“It might in some cases be a little cruel,” Miron said. “But it means you’re not taking from people who’ve worked hard to earn their income (in order) to give it to people who have not worked hard.”

But isn’t it wrong for people to suffer in a rich country?

“The number of people who will suffer is likely to be very small. Private charity … will provide support for the vast majority who would be poor in the absence of some kind of support. When government does it, it creates an air of entitlement that leads to more demand for redistribution, till everyone becomes a ward of the state.” …

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, took the discussion to a deeper level.

“Instead of asking, ‘What should we do about people who are poor in a rich country?’ The first question is, ‘Why is this a rich country?’ …

“Five hundred years ago, there weren’t rich countries in the world. There are rich countries now because part of the world is following basically libertarian rules: private property, free markets, individualism.” …

Before the New Deal, people of modest means banded together to help themselves. These organizations were crowded out when government co-opted their insurance functions, which included inexpensive medical care.

Boaz indicts the welfare state for the untold harm it’s done in the name of the poor.

“What we find is a system that traps people into dependency. … You should be asking advocates of that system, ‘Why don’t you care about the poor?'”

I agree. It appears that when government sets out to solve a problem, not only does it violate our freedom, it also accomplishes the opposite of what it set out to do.

It should be taken as a general rule that everything government does it does badly. Even the one thing it alone can and must do – protect the nation and the individual – it messes up. The less we allow government to do, the better for all of us.

As for helping the helpless (other than privately), here’s an idea. Why not shift all responsibility for welfare on to the churches? After all, Christians claim that their earthly mission is indiscriminate loving, giving, caring. The churches will need much more money than their congregations willingly give, but they can easily raise it from liberals, from innumerable Bill Clinton types who say they feel the pain of others, from all who sigh for the poor because it makes them feel they’re good persons –  a numerous crowd in every Western nation. Let the churches have the honor of being the soul distributors of such prospectively vast funds to those condemned to be, through no fault of their own, at the receiving end of charity; and also – because they’ll not be able to avoid it – to those who’ll demand a share whether they need it or not.

The Unneeded Crocodile Bird 3

Art is no longer a hobby; it is a job. This is the consequence of statist government. Between 2008 and 2011, the Arts Council England (ACE) is expected to distribute £1.6 billion of public money. If one is to think of the drastic cuts made in the last Budget, one must ask why only £4 million is being taken from the ACE’s pot. Even the strongest advocate of big government would surely concede that the government must protect its people before it entertains them.

The defence budget is facing a £2 billion cut next year, and by 2011, the NHS must find £2.3 billion of savings and education £1 billion. Why then, one asks, does the funding for the arts continue? In a recession, should government be providing money for sharks to be floated in formaldehyde for little perceivable reason?

Classical liberals and large sea creatures should be worried. Labour has developed the polar opposite of Milton Friedman’s idea of government. In early 2008, the Culture Minister Margaret Hodge called for City workers to provide more private donations to the arts. But with a new tax rate of 50%, there is a predictable lack of response from those of whom the government demands altruism. There is weary outrage among libertarians that government is happy enough to injure vital public services but then insist on greedily preserving a socially progressive image.

The American equivalent of the ACE is the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which gets around $126.3 million (£79 million) per year. This appears a paltry sum when compared to the ACE’s £463 million budget for next year, even more so when one considers the vastly greater amount of government spending in the US. America’s arts rely heavily on private donations – and citizens, both rich and poor, are eager to provide. As a percentage of GDP, the charitable contributions from individuals in the US are twice that of in the UK.

The relative lack of philanthropy towards the Arts in the UK has several possible reasons. The most obvious answer is the respective states of our collections of taxes. The huge welfare state and social interference that exists in the UK is no more than an arrangement of forced charitable donations. Taxpayers feel they have little left, and indeed little obligation, to provide charity for others. This is especially true for local charities, for why should the upkeep of local community be important if government forces politically correct and culturally manufactured community upon us?

The commensurately greater amount of charitable giving in the US can be attributed to the individuals’ quest for community. For example, 45% of American citizens’ donations are given to religions and local charities, as opposed to 13% here. The endless social interference has backfired once more.

77% of collection methods here rely on spontaneous takings of loose change, whereas in the US there is a strong culture of ‘planned giving’ (this provides 61% of non-profit organisations’ income). Furthermore, according to the newspaper Chronicle of Philanthropy, 54% of the richest US donors said that they have made charitable donations because of tax benefits and incentives. In the UK, it is the charities that obtain tax refunds and not the individuals. The British charity Art Fund recommended tax incentives before the most recent budget, but these proposals were shot down, such was the government’s dislike of offering tax benefits to the wealthy. The difference that is apparent between the UK and the US is quite clearly a consequence of the statist British government.

There once was ample example of private charity funding in the UK, from schools to art galleries. This convention, argues the Institute for Philanthropy’s director, Hilary Browne-Wilkinson, ended as the introduction of an enlarged welfare state – after the Second World War – destroyed Britain’s tradition of Victorian philanthropy. Some proof of this can be found with the American NEA. When their budget was reduced by 40 percent, from approximately $170 million to $99.5 million, private giving to the arts actually increased by 40%. The economist David Sawers’ comparison of subsidised and unsubsidised performing arts realised that cultural venues would continue to flourish were government subsidies to be abolished

The argument that government funding allows penniless individuals access to the arts is a fallacy. Most of the funds go to immensely rich organisations that often cater to a very limited section of society. For example, post-modernist art appeals to a tiny minority, and its funding has no arguable benefit for most of the public. The only time I have vaguely approved of a Labour minister was when Kim Howells said of the Turner submissions, “If this is the best that the British art establishment can come up with, God help us. It consists entirely of conceptual bullshit and the final insult was to walk through a room of Francis Bacons and Henry Moores that exude artistic ability and humanity.” The often-used argument that post-modernism should appeal to classical liberals because its iconoclasm is a strong example of individualism is nonsense; these so-called artists subsist on the involuntary contributions of the collective.

Government funding also jeopardises the independence of the arts. Not only does this interference reveal the consequences of pseudo-multiculturalism, it can constrict the variety of art produced. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated that, ‘Beauty will not come at the call of the legislature…. It will come, as always, unannounced, and spring up between the feet of brave and earnest men.’ David Sawers has noted that British government subsidies reduce the choice and variety in the art world, whereas privately venues are more flexible, and are responsible for many different artistic genres, such as the recent revival of early music.

After over a decade of Labour in power, with tens of billions wasted on bureaucratic nonsensical jobs, with the creation of an arts scene that government ministers admit is appalling, and in the middle of one of the worst economic crises the Western World has seen, we demand to know why illogical funding continues to be inequitably poured into the modern arts?  John Adams once said that, ‘”The science of government is my duty to study…the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, so that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.’

If government ends the funding of ‘culture’, the indiviual will then provide. Government is not a Crocodile Bird – there is no symbiotic relationship between the state and the individual. It is simply not the business of government to dictate inspiration and cultivate the art of the people. Trophies of creative thought will materialise from the free man, one who is not shackled by the chains of his self-appointed patron.

And so the New Generation should ask of this government: do not fund runners to jog through the Tate Gallery every thirty seconds. If you give us working hospitals, good schools, equipment for our Armed Forces and pensions, we will provide you with art that is far sweeter than money could ever afford.

Sam Westrop

Posted under Commentary, United Kingdom by on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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