A recent Gallup poll has noted that roughly half of Americans say they would be willing to vote for a socialist and 70% of Millennials would do the same. Numerous polls show similar levels of support among millennial voters, with between 40-50% of them consistently favoring socialism. Is this innocent idealism or a spiritual danger to consider?
Is socialism simply a political theory based on “kindness”, “coming together” and the government paying for my college; or is it a theory that teaches an entirely different set of beliefs about the role of the state, God, and man? Socialism and communism are more than just economic beliefs. When their origins are considered, they are practical attempts to replace God with the state—to replace man’s allegiance to God, or the church, with an allegiance to the state above all else. This deviates from the Biblical belief that God is over man, and man is over the state.
Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848 because he blamed capitalism for most of society’s ills. He argued that the division of labor that began in the Industrial Revolution was really the first original sin; since in his view as an atheist, the Garden of Eden never happened. For Marx the real problem in society was not anything permanent about the human condition (sin), but it was that some people owned the means of production, such as factories and farmland, and others worked in those factories and farms but do not receive enough pay for their labor. Marx’s early theory of communism was a response to both the genuine excesses of the Industrial Revolution that had not yet been corrected by trade unions (originally started by Christians); and a gradual abandonment of the belief in God.
A Millennial today might say that they believe in socialism but not communism. However, Marx used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably. For Marx, socialism was the logical first step on the path to communism. Most totalitarian leaders have mirrored this mixed use of terms in the last 100 years, including Castro, Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler. Some of the confusion by millennials as to the true nature of socialism can likely be attributed to a whitewashing of socialist histories in modern classrooms.
While Marx did think of socialism and communism in economic terms, there was a profound theological element to it as well. Marx was not just interested in a new economic and political form to fix the problems of the Industrial Revolution. He wanted to connect his understanding of the State to his understanding of religion. Marx believed God was not real; so then there was no need to appeal to God for moral right. In his world, the state and its leaders became the arbiters of morality.
Every single time socialism has been tried, in all of its forms, whether in Mussolini’s fascism in Italy, Hitler’s National Socialist Germany, Lenin and Stalin’s Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Castro’s communism in Cuba, Mao’s People’s Republic of China, or North Korea, it has failed, and failed miserably.
Socialism promises economic equality, gives identity, and suggests the perfection of man and society is just around the corner. It offers up a false hope of creating the kingdom of heaven on earth, but it is an appealing vision. This probably partly explains the rising appeal of modern socialism.
Verbois, C. Ph. D (May 2017) The Death of God and the Rise of the Resurrected State. published by Grove City College.