The View From 1776
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Further Thoughts About Capitalism And Socialism
Socialism is a materialistic, atheistic, secular religion. Capitalism is one manifestation of individual liberty and moral responsibility that derives both from the philosophical insights of Plato and Aristotle, and from the revelations of Hebrew Biblical prophets and Jesus Christ, carried forward in our Judeo-Christian moral teachings.
The Israelite prophets, Plato and Aristotle, and Christian apostles saw that the essential feature of social order that conforms to reality is the individual soul’s consciousness of its attraction towards the Divine Creator of our universe. As expressed by Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards, the human soul yearns for beauty, and the highest degree of beauty is love of God and reverence for the works of our Creator.
This attraction to the ground of being, i.e., to the most fundamental level of existence in the universe, leads the individual soul to strive toward personal morality in awareness that life on earth is but a transitional phase leading toward immortality of the soul. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of that journey.
Liberal-progressives reject this spiritual realm, focusing upon purely materialistic, mechanical aspects of life. In their atheistic doctrine, perfection is to be attained here on earth by participation in the political state, not in a future life of the soul beyond earthly existence.
To attain earthly perfection, liberal-progressivism stresses collective action by an increasingly powerful and all-controlling political state that is to be directed by intellectuals, who are the only ones qualified to do so by virtue of their allegedly superior understanding of history. Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi exemplify this ‘better than thou’ self-certainty.
All brands of secular socialism, which includes our liberal-progressivism, as well as Communism, Mussolini’s Fascism, and Hitler’s National Socialism, share in the faith that human nature can be transformed and perfected here and now in our earthly existence. For Marx, the fiery furnace of bloody revolution of the masses was to purify and transform people into statistical units whose existence and station in life would become wholly dependent upon the political state. For today’s liberal-progressives, the slower, python-like crush by state regulation of all aspects of personal behavior is to accomplish the same end. For both Marx and present-day liberal-progressives, individuals are no more than interchangeable bricks molded by the state for use in a structure erected by the political state. Interests of the political state completely overshadow any individual’s asserted natural rights to life, liberty, and property.
In that vein, the Democrat-Socialist Party remains committed to expanding the welfare state, while strangling existing industries in the name of promoting green power and regulating the climate of the entire world through the power of their edicts. All of this is to be financed simply by increasing taxes levied upon “the rich.” Liberal-progressives assume that taxes don’t matter, that businesses will docilely submit to being led to the slaughter house, while maintaining or even expanding their payrolls and their benefits to socialistic labor unions. If not, the government will impose regulatory control of recalcitrant businesses, as it is doing with the energy sector, the auto industry, and the financial sector.
All sects of socialism, including our own liberal-progressivism, inherently tend toward totalitarian control. We see this in regulations to control our diets, to mandate medical care, to force crushingly expensive green-energy transportation upon us, and to outlaw public recognition of any religion other than atheistic socialism.
As Eric Voegelin noted, however, liberal-progressives can pretend that their social engineering will create a better society based on a new human being evolving from their social structures, but reality doesn’t bend to their pretensions. Continued failure to recognize the reality of human existence brings us Lenin’s Soviet Union, Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, and Hitler’s National Socialist Germany.
Underneath the superstructure of socialism remains unchanged the real world of countless millions of individuals, each taking purposeful action to achieve what he conceives to be in his best interests. The Judeo-Christian emphasis on individual responsibility to strive toward personal morality and charity toward others is in a far better position to act as a positive ordering force for society than is collectivized liberal-progressive-socialism, which deals with statistical abstractions of class, sex, or race.
Read The Myth of the Failure of Capitalism (1932), by Ludwig von Mises for a more detailed exposition from the perspective of economic theory. NOTE: Mises uses the term “liberal” in its original, 18th century meaning, that is, freedom from government intervention apart from the most basic and vital requirements. In the early 20th century, liberal-progressives highjacked the term to deflect public scrutiny from the fact that liberal-progressivism is simply a version of the materialistic, atheistic religion of socialism, which is the diametric opposite of 18th century liberalism.