Little-Known Bible Verses XII: Communism

“Atheism and communism always seem to go hand in hand,” begins a letter to the editor I recently found through a Google alert. And though the fear of communism has died down since the crumbling of the Soviet Union, the prejudice that this writer was parroting has affected our politics for decades.

In the Cold War, when anti-communist fear and paranoia were rampant, we sought to differentiate ourselves from the enemy in every way possible. It was this fear that spurred the U.S. government to stamp religious slogans on our money and our national oaths, in an attempt to set us apart from “godless communists”. The ultimate result was that the things which we thought made us unique became linked together in our minds: right-wing politics, Christianity, and red-blooded American capitalism. The effects of that linkage are still visible today, with bizarre consequences like avowedly Christian organizations who make it a major part of their mission to slash social welfare programs and give tax cuts to the rich. Conversely, even after all this time, outspoken atheists are still smeared with guilt by association, regardless of whether or not we have any association with or sympathy for the fallen communist regimes.

But the merger of Christianity with predatory capitalism was not always the case. In fact, the first Christians believed something very different, as we see from a little-known Bible verse.

In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 44 to 45, we hear a bit about how the first Christians lived following the departure of Jesus:

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

This is communism in a nutshell – common ownership, no private property, redistribution of resources based only on need. The first Christians were communists.

This verse probably wasn’t heard from the pulpits too often during the McCarthy era. Indeed, most of the Bible’s clear teachings about social welfare (another one is Deuteronomy 15:7-8, which commands believers to give the poor whatever they need) have been ignored by the Christian right, which embraces social Darwinism in the policy arena even as they denounce Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Some Christians did recognize this – C.S. Lewis, for example, says that the ideal Christian society would in many ways be leftist, and there are plenty of liberal churches that emphasize social justice. But even today, hardly any advocate the socialist, communist ideal that is plainly envisioned by the Bible itself.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Dave K Welch

    My a-theism, or lack of belief in theism, has it’s roots in questioning the things around me. Asking why? It has it’s roots in the ideals of personal liberty that has allowed me to do this without being condemned. In a different society where such liberties are frowned upon, I may never have had the opportunity to examine what I was being exposed to, may have very well feared doing so (I’m hardly a Johann Hari). I may never have had the chance to discuss with my friends and on blogs what I really think, and the person I have become would have been someone different. Someone less. Communism as a system is not conducive to free thought, as a system is antagonistic to the reasons many people would ask questions about fundamental issues about them, and, as a result, remain (or re-become?) a-theistic.

    Regards
    Dave

  • Dave K Welch

    My apologies. I must learn to string my sentences together a bit better before I press submit. I hope my point comes across better.

    Regards
    Dave

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    There are a few christian groups that do practice a form of communism. In my area the Mennonites are very prominent.

  • http://godgrown.net/blog Mark Willis

    thanks for the great blog – very thoughtful. i see the early church as participating in something completely different than communism. the communism of the state is what marx preached, while the early church did things voluntarily because of their belief that they were living as brand new people, who valued brand new things. while the rest of the world was living in a world of scarcity and self-preservation, earliest students of jesus were knew they could do more together with less. i might call this ‘grassroots communalism’. thoughts?

  • http://millennialthoughts.wordpress.com/ ChristineS

    I took a class on Marxism earlier this year (ah, the joys of being a political science major!), and for my final paper, I wrote an essay on liberation theology. It was really fascinating for me, as an atheist, to read about people who so deeply believed in the equality of people and the right to economic security– and to find that their motivations came from religion. Also interesting was the fact that many of them didn’t appear to be interested in conversion, unlike lots of religious social programs today. They wanted to help people, whether they believed in the “right” god or not. That’s religion I can get behind, truthfully. Help others regardless of their beliefs and don’t force your beliefs onto others or oppress them because their beliefs are different? Sounds great.

    To be fair, majority of liberation theologists didn’t want to call themselves communists, as communism was then (and still is) equated with the Soviet Union. But they certainly had some very Marxist ideas. And those certainly aren’t all bad.

  • Valhar2000

    Well, it would make sense for those liberation theologists not to want to be associated with teh Soviet Union, since the Soviet Union wasn’t much in the business of helping people either.

  • The Pink Ninja

    Speaking as a Brit I have to say outside of their usual religious remit the clergy here tends strongly towards being lefty and socialist. The Labour party is and always has been well stocked with Christians too.

  • http://www.waialeale.org Waialeale Mike

    The current opposition/suppression by the Church of liberation theology is in sharp contrast to their enthusiastic support of fascism, especially prior to WWII. Mussolini was one of their darlings, especially after he established the Vatican as an independent state. Even after the war, they continued to support fascists like Franco, Salazar and the numerous right wing thugs in Latin America.

    During the Argentine “Dirty War,” Chaplain Priests would visit prisoners, urging them to confess all to their captors, would meet the Navy personnel when they returned from dumping folks over the Atlantic and offer absolution and explain that the dumpees, alive but drugged, had experienced a Christian Death. And when left-leaning priest or nuns were murdered, apparently didn’t notice.

    New York Times is one of many articles about this dark era to be found on google.

    Just as the Air Force Academy has recently become a indoctrination center for
    Evangelicals, in South American Military Academies, religion indoctrination against the left, labeling them commies, atheists, etc., was a mandatory part of the curriculum. Taught by Catholic Chaplain Priests of course. So far, our evangelical chaplains aren’t advocating death for atheists, leftist, etc. At least I hope so. But if you blow away some civilians, I’m sure they’re there to say, Don’t sweat it.

    At least they did when I was in Viet Nam. Part of their job. Keep up the morale.

    PS Attendance at church services is mandatory at our Academies. So much for separation of church and state.

  • http://failingtheinsidertest.blogspot.com/ Jeffrey

    Emergent/emerging Christians are quite often leftist. Blue Like Jazz was an enormous hit because there is a hunger inside even evangelical Christianity for something other than the religious right.

    (But of course, if you are “merely” talking about a sizable majority of American evangelicals, you are absolutely right.)

  • Johan

    I don’t see how so many atheists can support socialism/communism. “The greater good” is – and has always been – the alibi of tyrants.

  • Dr. X

    According to statistics I’ve read, approximately 75% of the U. S. population consider themselves Christian, with a roughly even split between Democrat and Republican. I will go out on a limb and say the vast majority of that 75% believe in some form of Capitalism. So when you cite the “merger of Christianity with predatory capitalism‘, this must be in reference to anyone with a conservative viewpoint.

    What moral high ground is secured when we categorize conservative ideas as “predatory”? We cannot decry ‘guilt by association’ if we are so willing to use the same tactics. Just as the ‘Atheist = Evil’ linkage is abhorrent, so too is the ‘Conservative = Heartless’ insinuation. As quickly as someone could fault Conservatives for all the world’s ills, I could equally claim that Socialism is used to keep entire populations under the thumb of the Liberals.

    I consider myself an independent agnostic – socially moderate yet fiscally conservative. I take no issue with properly managed programs that use my taxes to help those less fortunate. As a consequence, I understand that some of those dollars might fund programs that I probably wouldn’t mark on my United Way card. But at what point do we draw the line? Is it morally reprehensible for someone to be allowed to earn what they believe they’re worth? Should we then be labeled as repugnant when we have to beg and plead with the State to let us keep some of it?

    Billions of dollars are wasted by our government each year in its attempt to be ‘socially responsible’, both domestically and abroad. Do you honestly assert that all of these expenditures are worthwhile? If our government would make any reasonable effort to cut the fraud and abuse in these programs, much of this debate would cease to exist.

    This is not ‘social Darwinism’; it’s the right to decide when enough is enough.

  • Leum

    What moral high ground is secured when we categorize conservative ideas as “predatory”?

    Accuracy.

    As quickly as someone could fault Conservatives for all the world’s ills, I could equally claim that Socialism is used to keep entire populations under the thumb of the Liberals.

    Except that you’d be, you know, lying. More seriously, it’s not that conservatives cause all the world’s problems, but that they don’t seem to regard half the problems as problematic. Has socialism been used to oppress? Yes, but socialism is not oppressive by nature, conservatism is. Conservatism says that there are people who do not deserve basic rights; that we have no moral obligations as a society, only as individuals; and that social forces should be ignored when deciding policy (especially criminal law). These are all oppressive facets of conservatism and they’re features, not bugs.

    Billions of dollars are wasted by our government each year in its attempt to be ‘socially responsible’, both domestically and abroad.

    This argument became irrelevant and stupid when the first shot was fired in the Second Gulf War.

  • http://www.headdibs.blogspot.com James

    In context, communism is not what the Bible is portraying at all. What Acts shows is a how early Christians held onto their possessions lightly, ready to help as needs arose. 2:45 says they sold their possessions to care for the needy, not for equal distribution. Consider also 2:46; 4:34-37. Be honest now. At least you still admit the historicity of Jesus . . . Also, you are right. Deuteronomy 15:7-8 is a command to take care of the poor.

    So the problem is that people have been taking care of the poor for centuries; however, communism and the biblical culture decried here are not at all the same.

    When people get hungry today, they go to food banks, shelters and kitchens. Out of nearly 500 in this state alone, I am not aware of a single agency that is non-faith-based. People know that churches have food. I am sorry this is a problem for you.

  • nfpendleton

    @Johan:

    You’re confusing a rationalization for evil with the very real need to care for the sick, poor, and disaffected.

  • Brock

    I’m thinking we need a better word here for “conservative,” which simply means keeping a system the way it is, especially when modification serves no apparent purpose. What we have here in this country under the rubric of conservatism is actually a plutocratic system whereby the wealthy have power, are not willing to share power, and use that power to look after their own narrow interests, usually at the expense of social programs for those members of the populace who do not have access to their resources, which at this time is almost all of us. The fact that they have hijacked Christianity to their purposes, so that they can cloak their programs in the garments of sanctity is a measure of their cynicism. The people on top of the Jesus heap are obscenely wealthy as a result of their racket, and so they too are beneficiaries of the system. I think I have oversimplified tremendously, but this is the way I see it. They have just completed eight years of ownership of the system from within. It is too soon to tell if Obama can turn that around, or even if he is willing to.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    One of the unintended consequences of the Russian Revolution was to thoroughly discredit communism. Leninism is a deliberate distortion of Marxism – for all they tried to pretend it was a development. “Communism” hasn’t really been tried. Now it likely never will.

    Which is not to say that I think it necessarily would be great. Only to say that Leninism – and even more Stalinism – isn’t communism.

  • Johnny Walker Purple

    Intimidating those followers who would not give up their money:
    Acts 5:1-11 http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/acts/5.html#1

    5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
    5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
    5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
    5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
    5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
    5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
    5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
    5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
    5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
    5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
    5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

    and

    Jesus Stealing other people’s Corn to eat when he was hungry:
    Matthew 12:1-2 http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/mt/12.html

    12:1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
    12:2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

    I’m a raging leftist and militant atheist so I’m constantly amused by the fact that christians in this country are so old-testament style right-wing.

  • Oz

    Communism: great idea, wrong species.

    Perhaps this is another example of why Christianity is fantasy.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    In context, communism is not what the Bible is portraying at all. What Acts shows is a how early Christians held onto their possessions lightly, ready to help as needs arose. 2:45 says they sold their possessions to care for the needy, not for equal distribution.

    Yes, that is exactly what communism is: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” In fact, some have argued that that famous statement of Marx is a paraphrase from one of the verses in Acts that you yourself cited.

    At least you still admit the historicity of Jesus . . .

    No, actually, I don’t.

    When people get hungry today, they go to food banks, shelters and kitchens. Out of nearly 500 in this state alone, I am not aware of a single agency that is non-faith-based.

    Well, I can forgive you your ignorance, since secular food banks are easy to overlook. Oh, no, wait, they’re not.

    http://feedingamerica.org/about-us.aspx

    Each year, the Feeding America network provides food assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

    Our network of more than 200 food banks serves all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Feeding America network secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually.

    The Feeding America network supports approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies that distribute food directly to Americans in need. Those agencies operate more than 70,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, Kids Cafes, Community Kitchens and BackPack Programs.

    From your IP address, James, I can see you’re in South Carolina, so here’s a list of Feeding America’s local partners in your area. Also, here’s their statement of values. If you can find anything in there to indicate that they’re a faith-based organization, please do let us know about it.

  • Maynard

    Communism is a great idea for those who wish to participate freely. But imposing it on a group of people is always going to result in someone finding ways of exploitation.
    Of course even in a group of people who freely enter into communal living run the risk of being exploited. Some communal societies are developed by people with exploitation of the group in mind. The exploitation is what gives it such a bad taste.
    Religion is often a method of exploiting people in a communal situation. You give your extra share to the church and the church gives it to those who need it. At least some of it. The rest fill the pockets of the leaders or raise larger cathedrals. Actually, most organized religions appear to be pyramid schemes for the leaders and an exploitation of the congregation. (my opinion)
    Taking care of those in need is a human trait. Some times you give, sometimes you don’t. It’s a matter of triggering empathy in the individual. The panhandler who pisses you off by being confrontational or demanding is less likely to get a hand out than one who appeals to your sympathy. I don’t think it’s necessary to equate religion or communism with charity.
    Oh, And the religious right is just plain full of shit. Don’t tell me about your conservative values when you spend your Sunday in a mega church with its own Starbucks.
    Sorry for weaving all over the place. Cheers!

  • http://www.BlueNine.info Blue Nine

    Regarding the confluence of selfish conservatism and Christianity in the USA, you should read “Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America” by Randall Balmer. He talks about how the policies of the Republican Party are in his opinion anti-Christian, and also talks about how in the 17th through 19th centuries it was evangelicals who were big supporters of separation of church and state.

    Also: I think there is a verse somewhere in the Old Testament that says that all real estate transactions are void after seven years, and land goes back to its original owner.

  • Dr. X

    Hi Leum,

    A few points…

    What moral high ground is secured when we categorize conservative ideas as “predatory”?

    - Accuracy

    Tell me again how by simply stating you’re right makes it so? Please cite examples of how being fiscally conservative is somehow ‘predatory’.

    If you freely accept employment and are compensated for any product or service you provide, then you are a capitalist (i.e. a predator). In the free market, you determine your value, then market yourself to the highest bidder. You may then elect to send any or all of your income (minus taxes) to the charity of your choice. But that’s exactly the point; it is YOUR decision. While many assistance programs are worthwhile and worthy of funding, many are boondoggles. And just as we atheist and agnostics want equal input into our political system, I have very right to insist that our officials don’t bury us in treasury bills.

    I still want to know when enough is enough.

    As quickly as someone could fault Conservatives for all the world’s ills, I could equally claim that Socialism is used to keep entire populations under the thumb of the Liberals.

    - Except that you’d be, you know, lying. […] Has socialism been used to oppress? Yes, but socialism is not oppressive by nature, conservatism is.

    How odd that you say I’d be lying, then affirm that socialism can be used to oppress, which was my initial point. I never claimed that capitalism/conservatism was perfect – but neither is socialism. Indeed, no system ever is. Which is why we currently utilize a hybrid economic system, which struggles to attend to the dynamics inherent in any complex society.

    The oppressive forces within Socialism are subtle. Once a segment of the population is convinced that they cannot survive without assistance, there is no real incentive to decline it. In many cases, this develops into a sense of entitlement, and the inevitable outcry to expand the program begins.

    Conservatism says that there are people who do not deserve basic rights; that we have no moral obligations as a society, only as individuals…

    Whoa, where did you get this definition? At no point did I espouse any of these notions, nor do any of my conservative acquaintances. I made a point in my original post to explain that I believe limited socialism is necessary. There are some safety nets that are crucial for the survival of our way of life. However, here’s the rub; this post is a prime example of what happens when anyone disagrees with the type and level of assistance we should allocate. Who decides what the ‘basic rights’ should be? How much should taxes increase to provide funding? Who receives support, and for how long? And what procedures should be in place if someone is found abusing the program?

    Billions of dollars are wasted by our government each year in its attempt to be ‘socially responsible’, both domestically and abroad.

    - This argument became irrelevant and stupid when the first shot was fired in the Second Gulf War.

    This is a strawman. The current entitlement system has been around in some form since the 1930’s. War or not, it’s in serious need of an overhaul. How does opposition to one in any way deflect the deficiencies in the other?

    Thanks for the response.

  • Valhar2000

    Also: I think there is a verse somewhere in the Old Testament that says that all real estate transactions are void after seven years, and land goes back to its original owner.

    Sounds like you’re all going to have to rent your houses, apartments and businesses from Messieurs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.

  • Waialeale Mike

    List the advances in Western Civilization over the last two or three hundred years. Freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, separation of state and church, end of slavery, tolerance (a work in progress but we’re getting there as old conservatives die off), democracy, supremacy of the individual over the state, even free enterprise. The list goes on. Gay rights. Womens rights. Integration. Equal rights for all, … Freedom of the Press, etc.

    These are or were at the time of inception — even Adam Smith’s free enterprise — liberal ideas. The people who opposed them were conservatives.

    Now I’m sure we’ve got some conservative advances out there — Lets see. The KKK, fascism, big gas hogs, attack various countries on pretense (from Hitler to Bush), blind patriotism, the SS, Zionism. Even communism, as practiced by Stalin, Mao, etc., could hardly be considered liberal. Bush. Rush Limbaugh. Reagan’s let Wall Street Rule and destruction of the Department of Energy — which we’re now paying for big time. Fundamentalism — be it Islamic or Christian or Hindu, it’s all conservatism. Jesse Helms. Segregation … I’m nodding off. Jerry Falwell. FOX news. Celibacy as the cure for AIDS, teenage pregnancy, STD’s. An economy based on borrow, spend, borrow but save not. Oops, I already mentioned Reagan. Religious indoctrination the cradle to coffin(amazing how many different versions of truth are pounded into young minds).

    And I guarantee, tomorrow’s good ideas will be universally opposed by conservatives simply because they are new.

    So, let’s hear from the conservatives. And pul–le-ezee, the Soviet Union was an oppressive communist state that was defeated by liberal ideas. Putin is a conservative. And please, no liberal ideas that have been co oped by the right.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I think there’s an important distinction being overlooked here between fiscal conservatism and social conservatism.

    Fiscal conservatism, as I’d define it, is the political philosophy which believes that the government should be as small and limited as possible, and that social policy should be the sum of decisions of individuals rather than the decision of the state. This is, if you’d care to put it that way, “real” conservatism. Although I consider myself a liberal, I think there’s a place for this sentiment in any good government; it’s a good balancing force against wasteful spending and excess. Unfortunately, it’s been out of vogue for some time.

    What we’ve seen in America this past decade is social conservatism: a very different political philosophy which states that efforts to expand the liberty of individuals should be blocked or even overturned. Hence, we see social conservatives who want to deny gay couples the right to civil marriage on religious grounds; hence, we see social conservatives who are fiercely in opposition to separation of church and state; who want to take away the right of the terminally ill to commit euthanasia; who want to outlaw abortion and contraception; and many more pet causes I’m sure we can all name. Although social conservatives have coopted the cause of fiscal conservatism in their rhetoric, the two have essentially nothing to do with each other, as anyone can observe in the enormous amounts of unchecked, wasteful spending and vast expansions of government power that ensued when the Republicans were in office.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    If you freely accept employment and are compensated for any product or service you provide, then you are a capitalist (i.e. a predator). In the free market, you determine your value, then market yourself to the highest bidder. You may then elect to send any or all of your income (minus taxes) to the charity of your choice. But that’s exactly the point; it is YOUR decision. While many assistance programs are worthwhile and worthy of funding, many are boondoggles. And just as we atheist and agnostics want equal input into our political system, I have very right to insist that our officials don’t bury us in treasury bills.

    I think the problem with this argument are the words “freely” and “compensated” and “value. In our system, you don’t “freely” accept employment; you get a job because otherwise you pretty much die. Most workers are not compensated well, and no one gets to determine their value; it’s determined by everyone else.

  • Dr. X

    Hi Ebon,

    Although I thought by stating my absolute approval for certain essential programs, I apologize if did not clarify my position.

    However, I don’t necessarily agree that ‘real’ conservatism has been trampled. The moderate, or ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats attempt to balance the need for social progress and fiscal responsibility. And I would wager that there are many more moderates out here than all the left or right wingers put together.

    I guess my primary point is that we need be careful when using labels to filter ideas. The Nazi regime was reprehensible, yet the Autobahn was the influence for our own Interstate system. Ideas should be judged on their merits, not solely on where they originate.

  • Leum

    Dr. X, some of my post was pure snark, but it probably didn’t come out properly. I shouldn’t have insulted you, I apologize.

  • Dr. X

    Hi Antigone,

    You are free in the sense that at no point are you forced to accept employment. Because of economic pressures you may be compelled to compromise your desires; however, even then you are free to explore other opportunities and take advantage of them when they arise.

    Although there are certainly abuses in the system, market forces tend to determine the value of a particular occupation. Just ask any former elevator operator or ice delivery man. However you as an individual are free to improve your marketability (or ‘value’) and increase your personal potential. Sadly, only Communism pretends to guarantee employment, albeit not necessarily that corner office gig you’re looking to score. Invariable that means that despite valiant efforts, some scenarios just don’t pan out.

    Although many do resign themselves to their fate, most strive to escalate their economic status. Without this incentive, the reasons for getting up in the morning render down to merely survival.

  • Dr. X

    Leum,

    No offense taken.

    Thanks!

  • Johan

    “List the advances in Western Civilization over the last two or three hundred years. Freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, separation of state and church, end of slavery, tolerance (a work in progress but we’re getting there as old conservatives die off), democracy, supremacy of the individual over the state, even free enterprise. The list goes on. Gay rights. Womens rights. Integration. Equal rights for all, … Freedom of the Press, etc.

    These are or were at the time of inception — even Adam Smith’s free enterprise — liberal ideas. The people who opposed them were conservatives.”

    Uhhm, don’t American so-called “liberals” favor affirmative action, limiting freedom of speech, even more centralization to Washtington and other such collectivistic crap? Heck, I’ve even seen one American liberal who favored regulating the Internet!

    Furthermore, it’s just ridiculous to put Zionism as equal with communism or Nazism, or to compare Bush with Hitler.

    If American “liberals” actually tried to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective and see the conflict also from the Jewish history, and Jewish mentality after WW2, maybe they’d see things differently. As it is now, they just go and support the Palestinians by default.

    I don’t consider myself a conservative, but I’m European, we don’t have your spectrum.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    An economic pressure is not “free” now is it? I’m not making a choice based on me wanting to, I’m basing it because I have to.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    Oh, and while I’m at it:

    Although many do resign themselves to their fate, most strive to escalate their economic status. Without this incentive, the reasons for getting up in the morning render down to merely survival.

    Total bullshit. If people don’t have to work, most jump up every morning because then they get to do the stuff they really want to do.

  • Leum

    I agree with Antigone. I know lots of older people who could easily retire but keep working because they like the sense of meaning and purpose working gives them. Our culture defines us by our work, and I believe that even if the government provided free room and board for every citizen that most of us would still hold jobs.

  • Christopher

    Uhhm, don’t American so-called “liberals” favor affirmative action, limiting freedom of speech, even more centralization to Washtington and other such collectivistic crap? Heck, I’ve even seen one American liberal who favored regulating the Internet!

    I know that a significant number of them do – of course, they often say that such things are “necissary” in order to keep government relevant to us. To me, that’s bullshit: government starts at the local levels with individual interests in a given area taking precident – not agendas dictated to everyone else from on high.

    Furthermore, it’s just ridiculous to put Zionism as equal with communism or Nazism, or to compare Bush with Hitler.

    Actually, in some repects the comparissons are accurate: Zionism does favor one people group over all others (the Jews) as did Nazism (which favored the “Aryans”) and Bush did start a whole new batch of “security” functions for the American government (just As Hitler did in Germany).

    If American “liberals” actually tried to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective and see the conflict also from the Jewish history, and Jewish mentality after WW2, maybe they’d see things differently. As it is now, they just go and support the Palestinians by default.

    For the record, I favor neither the Israelis of the PLO – I personally think that the Western world should just stay out of their conflict entirely.

    That said, I do know the Jewish perpective on the conflict in the Middle East – I know that they think that a Jewish state is their only defense against total annihilation as a people and that the land is “holy” to them and all that jazz. But I also know that they are setting a land they knew would be hostile towards them from the start: that establishing a new Jewish state in the middle of the Arab world would lead to much contravercy and bloodshed. I also know that there were plans to settle them in Western Africa as far back as the mid-1940s (where they would have been considerably more welcome due to the fact that said land was controlled by friendly European powers at the time).

    They had other options availible to them, but they were predisposed to take this one – and they have paid a huge price for that foolish move ever since…

  • Alex Weaver

    I take no issue with properly managed programs that use my taxes to help those less fortunate. As a consequence, I understand that some of those dollars might fund programs that I probably wouldn’t mark on my United Way card. But at what point do we draw the line? Is it morally reprehensible for someone to be allowed to earn what they believe they’re worth? Should we then be labeled as repugnant when we have to beg and plead with the State to let us keep some of it?

    The overwhelming majority of the liberals who would take issue with these sentiments exist wholly in the minds of right-wingers.

    By predatory capitalism I imagine that Ebon means a system in which, among other things the behavior of corporations is un- or minimally regulated, where either either unlimited use of public goods and resources for free is considered an inherent right or the very concept of public goods and resources is rejected and derided, and where social assistance programs are guided by the postulate that removing formal institutional barriers is the same thing as creating “equality of opportunity.”

    No liberal with whom I am familiar believes that social welfare programs should not be subjected to cost-benefit analysis or policed to prevent fraud. Liberal economic policies are not based on the notion that people do not deserve to profit from their efforts, but rather on the notion that people have an obligation to support the infrastructure and maintain the resources of society to an extent commensurate with the benefit they derive from it.

  • Alex Weaver

    Uhhm, don’t American so-called “liberals” favor affirmative action, limiting freedom of speech, even more centralization to Washtington and other such collectivistic crap? Heck, I’ve even seen one American liberal who favored regulating the Internet!

    Furthermore, it’s just ridiculous to put Zionism as equal with communism or Nazism, or to compare Bush with Hitler.

    If American “liberals” actually tried to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective and see the conflict also from the Jewish history, and Jewish mentality after WW2, maybe they’d see things differently. As it is now, they just go and support the Palestinians by default.

    I don’t consider myself a conservative, but I’m European, we don’t have your spectrum.

    What “American liberals” are you talking about? All of this is news to me.

  • Alex Weaver

    (Actually, I take that back. You’re right about liberals favoring affirmative action, though you’re apparently dead wrong about what that actually is or the reasoning behind it if you consider it “collectivistic.”)

  • Boudica

    Re: land reverting to its original owner in biblical times. It was actually 7×7. Every 49 years was the Jubilee when this occurred.

  • Dr. X

    Hi Antigone,

    An economic pressure is not “free” now is it? I’m not making a choice based on me wanting to, I’m basing it because I have to.

    You’ve missed my point entirely. I had previously taken issue with the premise that Capitalism was ‘predatory’. Since each of us is able to move freely within a market economy, I asserted that we were all Capitalist. I personally do not consider myself predatory, as I’m sure most others do not as well.

    However, as to the objections at hand, I find your argument obtuse. We all need to secure the basics – food, clothing, shelter, etc. Beyond that, we then decide what standard of living we aspire to. If you are content with renting an apartment, driving a ’85 Toyota and eating Ramen noodles in front of a 19” TV, you can afford to be less choosy in your employment selection. However, if nothing short of a 10,000 sq. ft. home in the Hamptons, a pair of BMWs in the garage, and the latest 60” plasma screen will satisfy, you’ll need to aim a bit higher. Capitalism provides the mechanism that allows us to make that call. Our desires must be tempered with reality, of course, but that’s true of every facet of life. It’s great having State-sponsored assistance when we lack the essentials, but no one promises the perks.

    Back to my original premise. In a Capitalistic society, no individual or government agency mandates the occupation or position you must be affiliated with. You decide the organization you work for. You are always afforded the right to advertise your availability in the marketplace, and can freely avail yourself to opportunities when they present. If Company A offers a better compensation package than the company you currently work for, who makes the decision to accept the new offer? If your current employer needs your expertise more than Company A, is it ‘predatory’ when you pack your belongings and move on?

    As to the measure of compensation, none of my assignments have ever closed the gap between market value and my own self-worth, and probably never will. I do not consider myself greedy, but I am human – I would always like to have more. What makes us unique are the methods we employ to obtain it.

    Although many do resign themselves to their fate, most strive to escalate their economic status. Without this incentive, the reasons for getting up in the morning render down to merely survival.

    Total bullshit. If people don’t have to work, most jump up every morning because then they get to do the stuff they really want to do.

    Please try not to take my quotes out of context. I was referring to those working stiffs who desire to improve their lot in life, and why I believe Capitalism is the proper motivation to achieve this.

    However, I’m still not sure what your point was. Of course the vast majority would choose their hobbies over their work if possible; that’s not in debate. Unfortunately, most do not have that luxury. My position was simply that in regards to employment, most people are not satisfied with the status quo. They want to be rewarded for their efforts, and Capitalism is the only practical engine to propel this process.

    If the government is allowed to determine your occupation and compensation, what incentive is there to improve? My original statement holds – you would simply be working to survive.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Dr. X,
    If you do a quick search on this site for “Capitalism” I think you’ll find that your position is pretty close to Ebon’s.

    I had previously taken issue with the premise that Capitalism was ‘predatory’.

    There’s a difference between “capitalism is predatory,” and “predatory capitalism,” one that Alex Weaver touched on in a recent reply. Ebon referred to the latter, not the former. If you are arguing about the former, then it’s moot.

  • Johan

    “Actually, in some repects the comparissons are accurate: Zionism does favor one people group over all others (the Jews) as did Nazism (which favored the “Aryans”)”

    Nazism is a racist supremacy ideology. Zionism is simply the ideology that the Jews should have a state. If the latter is racism, then explain to me why the idea of a Palestinian isn’t racism – or a Portuguese state, or an Irish state, and so on.

    “Bush did start a whole new batch of “security” functions for the American government (just As Hitler did in Germany).”

    That’s an extreme stretch. Has Bush declared any ethnicity to be worthy of extermination? Has he established any concentration camps?

    “That said, I do know the Jewish perpective on the conflict in the Middle East – I know that they think that a Jewish state is their only defense against total annihilation as a people and that the land is “holy” to them and all that jazz.”

    Actually, the early Zionists were secular – Herzl was an atheist. Many of the religious Jews, at least the Orthodox ones, firmly opposed the creation of Israel due to religion. Now, many of them have changed views, but not all.

    And yes, many Jews feel that Israel is their safe haven. For pretty good reason too. The rest of the world isn’t always very kind to them. In 2005, there was an exodus of French Jews. In the early 90s, of Russian Jews. Go figure.

    “that establishing a new Jewish state in the middle of the Arab world would lead to much contravercy and bloodshed. I also know that there were plans to settle them in Western Africa as far back as the mid-1940s (where they would have been considerably more welcome due to the fact that said land was controlled by friendly European powers at the time).”

    The Middle East was controlled by the UK.

    Furthermore, the Jews mostly built their own cities, they didn’t settle in the small towns already inhabitated. Tel Aviv for instance was founded by Jewish settlers decades before Israel was founded.

    “(Actually, I take that back. You’re right about liberals favoring affirmative action, though you’re apparently dead wrong about what that actually is or the reasoning behind it if you consider it “collectivistic.”)”

    Yes, it’s collectivistic. You think that people don’t have rights due to being individuals, but due to belonging to a group.

    My source: http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/ShortFAQ.htm (Note that he explicitly claims that liberalism is collectivistic.)

    Finally, I wonder why American social democrats call themselves liberals. As is abundantly clear from the above FAQ, you aren’t. You like paternalism, collectivism and social engineering just like social democrats. You oppose school vouchers (i.e freedom of choice in education), free trade, individualism and freedom of speech just like social democrats. As Johan Norberg once wrote, it would be good if all those “liberals” adopted the ideas as well, not just the name.

  • Waialeale Mike

    You misread.
    I never said that Zionism was “equal” to communism or fascism and didn’t compare Bush to Hitler. I said they were “conservative advances.” Ideology, Ideologues, etc.

    Do liberals “support Israel by default?” Name me a senator or representative who supports the Palestinians over the Israelis. (Name those liberals who are trying to suppress free speech while you’re at it. That’s a strange concept. Liberals for Censorship.) Most Americans, liberal or conservative, jump when Israel barks.

    Of course I’m aware that God gave the promised land to the Jews, and if one believes the bible, they committed the Grand Pappy of Holocausts after Moses allegedly led them out of the Sinai. Wasn’t there some commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” Must have a few sub-paragraphs ommitted in the sake of brevity.

    More recently, by Jewish accounts, they ethically cleansed the land they grabbed in 1948, expelling a million or so Palestinians then passed laws seizing their land, prohibiting their return and bulldozed their villages. And in just the last week, seized another 400+ acres to continue to build GD MFing, %(&%#&* settlements for radical, right wing Jews, most, no doubt, immigrants. And bulldozed more Olive orchards for access.

    So tell me more about this Jewish perspective that gets pounded into our heads every day by the media.

  • Leum

    Finally, I wonder why American social democrats call themselves liberals. As is abundantly clear from the above FAQ, you aren’t. You like paternalism, collectivism and social engineering just like social democrats. You oppose school vouchers (i.e freedom of choice in education), free trade, individualism and freedom of speech just like social democrats. As Johan Norberg once wrote, it would be good if all those “liberals” adopted the ideas as well, not just the name.

    In the US, we call ourselves liberal because the term liberal has come to refer to our political beliefs. This isn’t true elsewhere, and when writing for a global audience we’re more inclined to call ourselves by other names.

    I oppose school vouchers because I don’t trust the people calling for them. They seem to be opposed to any sort of oversight on private schools while favoring ridiculously extreme oversight of public schools, for one thing. For another, most voucher programs do not pay the full enrollment fee, making them little more than welfare for the rich. Finally, and most importantly, I strongly suspect that once vouchers were in place, they’d use their success (real or imagined) to close down the public schools system, then reduce the size of vouchers to zero.

    I (and most of my fellow liberals) only oppose free trade by the insane standards of libertarians who place no value on clean water, fresh air, and workplace safety.

    We oppose freedom of speech? This is really rich. We (American liberals) aren’t the people who created free speech zones, demand that books be banned, and call criticism of the government unpatriotic. I admit that some Europeans liberals (or social democrats, if you prefer that term) have restricted free speech (especially Holocaust denial), but most of us here at Daylight Atheism and similar sites have condemned such practices.

    Please stop knocking down strawmen.

  • Waialeale Mike

    The idea that you have the God given right to establish a state on land occupied by people of a different ethnic background, religion, etc., is pretty much racism defined.

    The UK was in rapid retreat from the mideast in 1948, especially Israel where they were being murdered by Zionist Terrorists. King David Hotel, etc. The so-called partition plan hatched by the UN, screwed the Palestinians, give the Zionists a disproportionate share of the land — especially when you consider that they started flooding in, in great numbers, only in 1945. And the best, most fertile land was given to the Zionists.

    UK ran Palestine under a UN mandate. The UN was controlled by guilt ridden Erupoeans. Even the Soviet Union joined the US backing the partition, screwing the Palestinians.

    The lame logic behind giving most and the best land to the Jews, was the future anticipated immigration of Jewish refugees from Europe.

    Also overlooked, especially by our fundies, was the fact that a large percentage of Palestinians were Christians — but they were Arab Christians not Europeans so they didn’t count.

  • Waialeale Mike

    There have always been “quotas” and “affirmative action.” In the south, for hundreds of years the quota for blacks was zero. The KKK took affirmative action. The Catholic quota for witches, heretics, Jews used to be zero, their affirmative action was burning at the stake. The Pilgrim’s quota for non-Puritans was Zero. The US quota for Indians was zero. The affirmative action was the Trail of Tears. During WWII, the quota for Japanese Americans on the west coast was zero.

    When I attended Auburn University in Alabama, the quota for blacks was zero. The state police practiced affirmative action at the bridge at Selma. With firehoses in Birmingham. When I served in the Navy as a pilot the quota for black pilots was very close to zero. When I was hired by an airline the quota for blacks and women was zero.

    I hope, soon, that quotas will vanish. Perhaps, with the election of a black president, that quotas have outlived their usefulness. Or, in the case of affirmative action, have become counter productive.

    But if quotas and the need for affirmative action does (or has) vanish, it will be because of liberalism. And if you don’t understand that there are folks out there who would still force zero quotas for blacks, women, gays, whites(yes some racists are black and even some are liberal), atheists whatever, then you don’t get it.

  • Johan

    Here’s my source that American liberals don’t support free speech: http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-pc.html

    Note that it is from a liberal who purport to write an encyclopedia on the subject. Had it been from a conservative, it would have been an enemy statement, to be taken with caution, obviously. I went to a liberal source, and took my information from there. How’s it a strawman?

    Furthermore, you seem not to realize that liberalism in Europe is an economically right-wing ideology – social democracy is a left-wing ideology. American conservatives are almost aware of this difference between European liberalism and American liberalism. American liberals seem generally to be unaware of it.

    “Finally, and most importantly, I strongly suspect that once vouchers were in place, they’d use their success (real or imagined) to close down the public schools system, then reduce the size of vouchers to zero.”

    I live in a country with school vouchers – the system was so popular that not even the soc dems dared to close it down, even though they’re (at heart) opposed to it – and the public school system is still in existence. After more than 15 years too.

    I think here, vouchers pay the full fee. And there are limitations on what schools can teach anyways. They must follow the documents decided by authorities regarding education, just like public schools must.

    Israel wasn’t founded as a religious state. It was founded as a Jewish state in an ethnic sense, rather than a religious sense. If that is racism, then the majority of countries in the world are founded on racism.

    You do realize that the Palestinian territories are ethnically pure (unlike Israel), and also becoming more religiously pure. Guess where the Palestinian Christians (and gays) find refuge. While you’re at it, guess why the majority of Israeli Arabs would not like their areas transferred to the PA.

    I’m not so sure that the foundation of Israel was the right thing (though I’m leaning towards it), but today Israel exists, and it isn’t going anywhere. Deal with it.

    As for the refugees, according to research, they were mainly caused by the war in 1948, not by deliberate expulsion, though that also occurred. Conveniently, you “forgot” the Jews that were expelled from the Arab countries. Israel welcomed them and successfully integrated them. How did the Arabs welcome their Palestinan Arab brethren? By containing them in refugee camps, refusing to integrate them, and using them as pawns against Israel.

  • Leum

    I live in a country with school vouchers – the system was so popular that not even the soc dems dared to close it down, even though they’re (at heart) opposed to it – and the public school system is still in existence. After more than 15 years too.

    I think here, vouchers pay the full fee. And there are limitations on what schools can teach anyways. They must follow the documents decided by authorities regarding education, just like public schools must.

    It probably helps that your conservatives/non-social democrats aren’t opposed to the very existence of government. There’s a reason we call New Orleans “Norquist’s Bathtub.”

  • Waialeale Mike

    http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-pc.html

    Golly, I read this rant against political correctness (which is one of my favorite rant subject) and, on the first line, he sez
    “Myth: Political Correctness makes liberals inconsistent on free speech” and on the second line, states his thesis that this is a myth,
    “Fact: Most liberals do not buy into the PC movement.” and goes on to say that the PC movement is dying, etc., blah, blah

    Doh. This proves that “…that American liberals don’t support free speech…” I think he’s trying to prove the opposite.

    Did you read the article?

  • Johan

    “It probably helps that your conservatives/non-social democrats aren’t opposed to the very existence of government. There’s a reason we call New Orleans “Norquist’s Bathtub.””

    Logically speaking, aren’t the soc dems our conservatives?

    Interestingly, they appeal mostly to the rural areas, whereas the urban areas (more modern and internationalized) generally vote for the center-right parties.

    “Did you read the article?”

    Yes, did you? He writes against political correctness, but he still proposes hate speech laws. I.e not freedom of speech.

    I don’t like racist remarks, but I don’t think they should be illegal.

  • Waialeale Mike

    One liberal proposes hate speech laws — therefore liberals are against freedom of speech.

    Got it.

  • Christopher

    Nazism is a racist supremacy ideology. Zionism is simply the ideology that the Jews should have a state. If the latter is racism, then explain to me why the idea of a Palestinian isn’t racism – or a Portuguese state, or an Irish state, and so on.

    Actually, the early Zionists were secular – Herzl was an atheist. Many of the religious Jews, at least the Orthodox ones, firmly opposed the creation of Israel due to religion. Now, many of them have changed views, but not all.

    And yes, many Jews feel that Israel is their safe haven. For pretty good reason too. The rest of the world isn’t always very kind to them. In 2005, there was an exodus of French Jews. In the early 90s, of Russian Jews. Go figure.

    Perhaps in the beginning it was a secular movement – but today it’s an ideology pushed mainly by the Orthodox Jews who believe that the land was given to them by “god” for all time.

    BTW: I never said that their was no validity at all to the idea of a Jewish state – I just pointed out the fact that it was hijacked by religious extremists who wanted a return to their “holy” land and would settle for nothing else (even if the solution was more practical).

    That’s an extreme stretch. Has Bush declared any ethnicity to be worthy of extermination? Has he established any concentration camps?

    Note that I said accurate in *some* respects – not all. And regarding the innitiation of a new police state in your country, that comparison is apt.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Johan,

    You oppose school vouchers (i.e freedom of choice in education)…

    I oppose school vouchers because they violate the separation of church and state. They are, in almost all cases, an attempt by the religious right to funnel taxpayer money to sectarian institutions and to undermine and weaken secular public schools.

    I think here, vouchers pay the full fee. And there are limitations on what schools can teach anyways. They must follow the documents decided by authorities regarding education, just like public schools must.

    Then the voucher scheme where you live is completely different from the kind that’s usually proposed in America.

  • Alex Weaver

    Yes, it’s collectivistic. You think that people don’t have rights due to being individuals, but due to belonging to a group.

    If Mr. Kangas actually means “collectivism” in the sense that you’re using the term, he is the first liberal I have ever encountered who promotes such.

    Additionally, this is not the motivation for Affirmative Action. Perhaps you could describe, in a paragraph of multiple sentences, what exactly you think Affirmative Action even is?

  • Archimedez

    Waialeale Mike,

    You write:

    “The idea that you have the God given right to establish a state on land occupied by people of a different ethnic background, religion, etc., is pretty much racism defined.”

    This statement caught my attention because you seem to be using the word racism to apply to cultural as distinguished from biological/physical/genetic characteristics. The definitions of the words “ethnic” and “race” (and racism) seem to have changed over the years. I checked out some dictionary definitions (see link below). “The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000″, online, gives the following definitions:

    race NOUN:1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics. 2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race. 3. A genealogical line; a lineage. 4. Humans considered as a group. 5. Biology a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies. b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals. 6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.”

    ethnic ADJECTIVE:1a. Of or relating to a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage. b. Being a member of a particular ethnic group, especially belonging to a national group by heritage or culture but residing outside its national boundaries: ethnic Hungarians living in northern Serbia. c. Of, relating to, or distinctive of members of such a group: ethnic restaurants; ethnic art. 2. Relating to a people not Christian or Jewish; heathen.”

    So both terms appear to me to be ill-defined now, given that usage 1a for ethnic mentions “racial” heritage, and usage 2 for race does not mention biology/genetics but instead mentions shared historical, national, or geographic features–which in turn overlaps with the definition of ethnic. Of course, people could clarify their meaning when they use one or other or both of these terms. Often, as in your example, they do not clarify their usage.

    I think that when most people use the word “racism,” they mean immoral actions or policies, or theories that espouse immoral actions or policies, on the basis of a person’s recent genetic ancestry or apparent physical features, implying notions of race (biological). When they use “ethnic,” they usually mean cultural features.

    It may be preferable to refer specifically to genes, as distinguished from memes*, or to at least use less ambiguous terms. If one means biological race, and one doesn’t necessarily want to endorse the notion of race one way or another, one could write “biological ‘race’”, or use some other indications to specify the meaning.

    *I think “meme” unfortunately still seems strange or too technical to most people.

    http://www.onelook.com/

    All that having been said, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong morally with people in a particular geographic area deciding to adopt a set of memes, e.g., laws and political system, and to exclude other laws, political systems. Every country does this. Whether it is moral or immoral depends on the specific ideological components (or memes) advocated or opposed, and the means by which the advocated memes are implemented and the opposed memes excluded.

  • Waialeale Mike

    You’re right in that the word race or racism can be ambiguious/mean different things to different people. Race #2 and Ethnic 1a/b are the closest to my meaning — but what I want to convey or more the sense of superiority one Group has over another whether it be ethnic, racial background, religion and I think racism comes closest.

    Having a technical background, in my thinking I tend toward grouping into sets and gene based racism( ie black/white racism, the “yellow peril” bullshit) would be a subset of the broader term racism as I used it. Perhaps ethnicism comes closer, but even that doesn’t work. People can have the same ethnic background but have different races. Some words, like Brights, in my opinion for what it’s worth, don’t work.

    Words are inexact labels at best, labels we place on things/concepts that can be fuzzy — but unless we want folks to nod off, today we must be brief and woe to him that has to “by this, I mean, etc.”

    Meme’s, as I understand them, are self perpetuating ideas that might eventually become law, etc. Christianity is a great example. Started off as a self perpetuating set of ideas — indoctrinate the babys, utter intolerance of other religions, God looks just like us — in fact he’s one of us, everybody who disagrees burns in hell, etc.(the Roman religious tolerance was naive when confronted by a religion that was devoted to the destruction of all other religions, their temples, their sacred books, and finally, the followers. The books, tens of thousands of books gone forever. Sad.)

  • 16daysmore

    The first Christians were “communists” because that was what they were able to attain. Allow me to clarify. Why does the word ‘communism’ evoke such hate and anger in people? Because of how previous communists have acted, of course. The Lenin, Stalin, Mao. Evil men who were communists, right? But go back to what the purpose of communism is. The point is that there will be enough for all, that everyone serves everyone else. This is quite a good goal. Everyone is happy. But these dictators were interested not in others, but in their own power. They are those who gave communism a bad name. What the Asian dictators could not attain through force, the early church attained through love. They cared for one another.

    You call the early Christians Communists because of the fear and anger it will evoke in people. But the facts are that the idea the early Christians had was a good one. It was simply given a bad name by Mao, Stalin, Lenin, etc.

    To your statement, Waialeale Mike, “Started off as a self perpetuating set of ideas — indoctrinate the babys, utter intolerance of other religions, God looks just like us — in fact he’s one of us, everybody who disagrees burns in hell”, I say this:

    If you believed in something with all your heart, would you not teach your children the same thing? I doubt that you will be advocating Christianity to your children. You will probably teach them atheism, correct? So it is with us. We teach Christianity to our kids because that’s what we believe is right. For the ‘utter intolerance of other religions part’, once again, this is only logical. Not that God told us to be utterly intolerant. We should show love to all, but we will tell people what we believe. And then, where does it say in the Bible that God looks just like us? It doesn’t. It says that we are made in His own image (Gen. 1:27). And lastly, once again, it’s logical that those who don’t believe will go to hell. The reason for that is that Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). If you don’t take that way, what’s left? Hell. Plain and simple.

    Please reply if you see error in my reasoning. I would like to know so I can clarify and/or correct.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    And lastly, once again, it’s logical that those who don’t believe will go to hell.

    No, it’s not, for a lot of reasons. Ebon has a good essay on hell if you care to read it. Suffice it to say, there’s no logical necessity that those who don’t receive god’s grace must be tortured for eternity.

  • Rick McNeely

    I think that (yet again) the bible sends a mixed message. In two new-testament parables, Jesus plainly aligns himself with capitalism. See: Matthew 25:14-30 (see also Luke 19:12-27). The servants who use money entrusted to them to earn the master even more money (by investing with bankers, no less!) are praised and rewarded. That is the very essence of capitalism, putting capital to the use that returns the most.

    And yes, I am an atheist.

  • Kilee

    I believe that there is a difference between a community sharing and communism. The peoples in Acts
    were not forced to share their goods they did it with a willing spirit in order to serve the one they loved believed in. I don’t think people in communist Country willing share their goods with the poor, do you?

  • Caiphen

    Kilee

    Good comment, however it does nothing in the defence of the christian right. The CR are clearly believers in social survival of the fittest which is the exact opposite of Acts 2:44-45. This part of the book of Acts clearly displays a form of communism which is ignored.

    In defense of naturalism, Darwinism is not quite the same as the CR’s social belief. Evolution depends on survival of the well adapted. It’s something the CR could learn from if they didn’t deny it.

  • lpetrich

    Read Acts 5 for what would happen to whomever would not go along with it – it seems rather Stalinist.

    In modern language, kulaks Ananias and Sapphira mysteriously dropped dead after they refused to collectivize all their property as Comrade Peter had demanded.

  • Caiphen

    Ipetrich

    How could I forget that one? You’re right on the money.

    Samson, if you ignore the biblical nonsense, was nothing but a mass murderer.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    Perhaps the early Christians weren’t as deluded as atheists like to pretend. Without me having to go on a major dig through the bible, can anybody tell me what the good book says happened to that community of early communists? Did they try it only discover that it doesn’t work?

    “From everybody according to his ability, to everyone according to his need.” It sounds great, doesn’t it? I’m sure they sing its praises at every May 1st parade throughout the world. Who makes those decisions, though? Who decides what ability is, or what need is? Except that it doesn’t work. When everything is held in common, then nothing is held in common.

    People are people, and the failure of communism is that it ignores this basic fact, just like every dogmatic philosophy in the past, present and future. People care about their own: property, spouses, children, lifestyle. Part of societal progress is to convince people to be charitable to others, and also to help them do so, thus the tax laws allowing people to write-off donations. I recognize that those laws were crafted in a cold-hearted, calculating way, but we can take advantage of providence when it presents itself.

    Every time communism has been tried, it has failed. There is not a single successful example of it. Democratic capitalism, however, *is* successful, generally speaking. Does it have problem? Of course it does. Does it screw up royally? Most definitely. But it adapts and modifies its behaviour based on new information. Communism does not, and cannot not. It is a dogmatic belief in a single set of principles that cannot be altered.

    Technically speaking, however, the Soviet Union wasn’t actually communist; rather, it was socialist. Hence the full name: Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics(CCCP). They were communist only in so far as they were (supposedly) actively working toward becoming communist, but they hadn’t yet reached that nirvana.

    At the end of the day, immigration directions prove the truth of it: people from communist countries go to live in capitalist ones because they want a better life.

  • Zietlos

    Holy thread necromancy batman!

    That out of the way, lets talk, comrade.

    Beginning with your final statement, I can twist those stats on their heads and hurt your brain: “People from Asian countries go to live in White ones because they want a better life”. OR, much more likely than EITHER of those, “People in dictatorships go to live in democracies for a better life”. I think you’d probably agree this is the true deciding factor. North Korea ain’t pinkos, but their people sure wanna leave. Thus the last note is false, or at least unprovable, but I still say this: People did not leave because they didn’t like the idea of “fairness for all”, they left because they didn’t like the idea of “Some guy with a gun can kill me at any second if I badmouth The Leader.”

    “True” communism, by definition, cannot be a dictatorship as it has no leader. Therefore, such a concept as communism has not existed en masse on Earth (it worked quite well in isolated communities until capitalists (literally) killed them off, tribal communities and whatnot). Therefore, it cannot be proven to have failed as it has never truly been tried. Dual-classed dictatorships, yes, those fail REAL badly, I’ll grant you. Multi-level dictatorships, like those in Venezuela, are much more efficient.

    The instigator of the biblical communism, some dude named Jesus, didn’t work out well for him in the tales: Capitalists killed him (admittedly for a LOT of silver). I am not well versed in verses, if you will, and have naught time to research it this night, so someone else will take up the flag for that conclusionary tale, though with the way many tales end in that book, likely they were killed horribly or the tale was left hanging with an unknown ending. No one just says “well that didn’t work. The End” in the bible. (Except theists who watch atheists read an entire bible aloud then call it bollocks, they usually say that.)

    Ideal communism is presented (ironically considering the massive profits) in Star Trek (TNG and Voyager, specifically, if you care). They specifically state they have done away with such things as money when dealing internally, and only barter with capitalists using fuel cells, not money. For who does what, they decide for themselves, much like ideal capitalism: I wanna help people, I wanna be a doctor. If, in school, I find I’m too dumb for it, I can try for ambulance driver instead, if I wanna help people. People will still be doctors because they want to help people. Their patients will respect them, they are the sportstar positive icons to society. I wanna fly starships, if they exist, then I go to an academy (for free), and see what I can do. If I do well, I can help with everything (be a “captain”, who helps at every aspect of their ship, as they are skilled in every aspect). The fact I can only find a fictional example of “true and fiscal” communism (rather than Stalinism or Leninism or whathaveyous), probably says more about its likelihood than anything else, but at least it shows an example for job picking and such.

    Of course, humans are the problem with communism. We are unsocial, selfish people, in general. Especially(!) in groups (One person alone is more likely to help an injured person than anyone in a large group would). We don’t want to live well, we want to live better than our neighbors. Keep up with the Jones, so the speak. More socialist areas tend to have better standards of living and literacy than more capitalist areas, but again, more socialist areas tend to be more democratic than the capitalist areas (you try taking over a country with an army promising to pay them with cheap healthcare, you gotta be capitalist to be a dictator).

    I purposefully put a few stumbling points in the above paragraph because I enjoy the sound of my own voice. Please, pick those points apart, then I get to type more!

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Funny! I used the Star Trek analogy only last week in the pub. My point was true communism only works in a society that has effectivily infinite resources. If we can all get what we desire instantly from a replicator and the habitable area includes most of the galaxy, we only have our emotional and intellectual fulfillment to worry about.
    Perversely that may be why it existed in small tribal communities, and I would guess even then it would be when basic resources were particularly abundent.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    #65, Your first paragraph that talks about “fairness for all” vs “Some guy with a gun can kill me at any second if I badmouth The Leader.”, you may not realize it, but that’s basically pretty much the same thing. Besides which, communist countries tend not to organize themselves around the ideals of “fairness for all”, mostly because that’s not the ideal of the interregnum between capitalism and communism.

    Technically speaking, true communism cannot BE, let alone be anything. It cannot exist, because it denies human nature and, more importantly, it cannot exist because the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” will never allow it, despite the Proletariat’s constant announcements that communism is just around the corner, just three more five year plans. Just five more.

    And yes, you’re right, you can substitute Asian or African for Communist in the migration comment. It works just as well, and loses nothing.


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