Like a ghost handing out candy, I’m back to ask, “Why do you want liberty and what do you plan on doing with it?”
I don’t know about you, but I’m planning on devouring my full share, and doing so with glee. O.K. Maybe more like sharing it with love and such. But as with anything, money goes a long way . . .
I recently read 1984 by George Orwell. I did not enjoy the book. If anything, I found myself slightly confused by what the author saw as good. Alongside Ayn Rand’s writings, I’ve gathered a frightening, repulsive thread from anti-socialistic/ totalitarian classics: The greatest thing is self’s desire, and the greatest desire self can have is promiscuity.
(Clarification: It seems that I imply Orwell was capitalistic, when in fact he was anarcho-socialistic. That being stated, my brain still rebels at the fact. I mean, why do so many conservatives hold up his works as great warnings to be heeded if he doesn’t align with their sociological beliefs?)
Oversimplified. But then so is the dog-eat-dog mentality that socialists accuse capitalists for, and that capitalists, no matter how conservatively Christian, never satisfactorily refute. They just say, “The pie is big enough for everyone!” Never do I hear, “Oh, no! It’s more like dogs feeding dogs. We don’t destroy each other.” Not only would such an answer take away from the edge-of-your-seat-rush one gets when exchanging business, it sounds a bit . . . socialistic.
Orwell hated totalitarianism. Yet, if he loved anything, it sure wasn’t presented in 1984, save for the brief image of a washer woman who contentedly sang as she hung endless heaps of clothes. I suppose, Orwell felt that hate was enough to turn one away from the evils he predicted.
But what are we to be turned toward?
Ayn Rand liked to say that one couldn’t be Christian and capitalist at once. A bit more of a fan of capitalism than of communism, I’d like to think that the only way one could successfully be capitalist is by being Christian. But if we’re being honest, can’t the same be said of all economical systems? And aren’t they all repulsive and disgusting without God?
I never thought I’d be one of those Christians. But the more I study economics, the more I realize that there’s only one solution: We all need Jesus.
* * *
I first was introduced to economics through Friedman’s The World is Flat. I almost didn’t read the book because of the title. I didn’t even understand the word economics before reading. But by the time I was finished I was enthralled. “This,” I thought. “Is what I would study in college.”
I started listening to a lot of political podcasters. But it was the economical side of the discussions that bought my obsession. Through these podcasts I discovered Ayn Rand. And then I got hooked on an extreme liberal commie podcast. I read Bernie Sander’s Political Revolution. I discovered Catholicism’s ideal economic system, distributism. I devoured Nassim Taleb’s anti-fragile principles.
Mostly I thought I loved capitalism. I mean, it’s what a conservative is supposed to like.
But deep down I was dreaming of forming my own economic regime. What would I call it? But what would it even look like? Instead of worrying over that, I begin to critically dislike capitalism and conservatism, mostly by reading capitalistic and conservative material.
“Oh, no! You are a leftist?”
Not so fast. Remember my post about labeling?
Just because I came to see major issues with capitalism and conservatism didn’t mean I converted over to communism and liberalism. I still mean to read many opposing views, but for now, I can honestly say I haven’t been influenced by “negative” sources.
As one friend recently agreed with me, “Yeah. I don’t really know what I think about economics anymore either.”
How can you know what you think when it comes to money and you also have a conscience along with a love for community?
* * *
“America is the GREATEST country,” only Americans say. “We are the freest country in the world.”
Meanwhile, everyone else yawns. “You look just like us!”
“No we don’t! We have a free economy! We are true capitalists!”
“Hmm. So you say.”
We are so tied to our social security system we can’t do anything without it. That, my friend, is socialism. And this is why the world laughs at our vaunted liberty.
“Oh. But what about our great corporations! Sanctioned by the government!”
And this is where I like to chime in with my little spiel on REVERSE SOCIALISM. If capitalism is a solely a free-market, then corporations are not capitalistic. How could they be? They call themselves by one name while using the methods of another. They are not free. I mean, even the name is far from individualistic. It bespeaks a need for community, i.e. some form of socialism. Corporations disallow free enterprise simply by existing. Thus, even this most prized acclaim of the States is not really capitalism. Or . . .
Or maybe capitalism is truly reverse socialism. The other side of the same evil. No better, nor worse.
“Capitalism was to be eschewed not because it was a free market system, but because it destroyed the true freedom of the market economies that had begun to appear at the end of the Middle Ages, and concentrated all real economic and contractual liberty in the hands of a very few.”David Bentley Hart
If that doesn’t sound like reverse socialism to you, then maybe my terminology is confusing.
Of course, I’m not so naïve to believe that capitalism, communism, and socialism are all the exact same thing. Capitalism certainly has freedoms that communism doesn’t. But socialism has its upsides, too, and few conservatives are willing to admit that.
That being said, the heart of my “reverse socialism” supposition is that they are all the same thing.
The simple side of me argues that if economics were black and white, you would have only two names: SOCIALISM and ANARCHISM. And the perfect design would be a gorgeously grey marriage of anarcho-socialism, performed by God alone.
Socialism, communism, anarchism, monarchism, capitalism, distributism, and every other system only turn evil because God is not sought above manna.
* * *
Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive.
And what is the point of this post? It’s certainly not to acclaim any system above another, nor suggest we need some meshing akin to cultish Christian communes. (Though, maybe we do!) No. My point is to say that they are all flawed and we ought to stop worshiping them and saying that the Bible fully condones one or the other. Scripture does no such thing.
If we all followed God whole-heartedly, capitalism would be fantastic and no dogs would be eaten. And so it goes for socialism and communism. My thesis, then, is not that we should all put heads together and create the best system yet. Nor should we give up and not care. Simply put, we need to remember who is King and that His ways go beyond both capitalism and socialism.
You can’t put God into any man-made box and call it good.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.Matthew 6:24