I came across something on Facebook today, linked from a friend, but its content was not as important as its overall message. To further clarify, I need not link this article here for the purpose of this post is to highlight its underlying (and false) message more than to nitpick a single example. Beyond that, the article- from its title through its content- was far from unique. In fact a quick Google search of the article’s title returns nearly 8 million hits– many of which share the exact same title, from different authors, on behalf of different organizations, and from various years. The articles seek to answer a seemingly simple question: “Was Jesus a socialist?”
One could take such a question and run with it in a number of directions. The answer could come from the standpoint of Jesus as a divine being, the son of God, a pacifying and unifying resource of all mankind, and a practitioner of many miracles. Or, an answer to the question could be derived from an entirely secular perspective– Jesus was a man who has a place in history; a man who led others in many admirable ways, but nonetheless he was a man of flesh and blood more than he was a descendant of the heavens.
Regardless, the perspective by which Jesus is examined within the scope of the question begins with a fundamentally flawed, dangerous, and dishonest premise: that Jesus’ actions, in any way whatsoever, resembled that of socialism in practice. The point of such articles these days is not to examine the nature by which Jesus practiced charity and grace, rather, their point is to link the concept of socialism with that same charity and selflessness. This, of course, is a bold-faced lie.
Now, modern socialists often seek to separate the tenets of socialism from the grievances so often witnessed by those societies who have chosen to practice it. The shift from preaching the supposed goodness of socialism as a political and governmental framework was necessary since socialism has not, and nor will it ever produce results that coincide with the words or good deeds of Jesus whether they be holy or human. Socialism in practice has never required anything more than the energy of human souls, the sapping of said souls, and the closure of that bond with the loss of life for millions. There is no connection to socialism practiced by modern man for what Jesus practiced was charity; it required nothing in return but the same good intentions, while socialism requires nothing but a follower’s eventual death when they have nothing left to bring to the table (and in the case of socialism, the only thing brought to the table was labor).
The problem with preaching socialism as charity today is that it operates under a few entirely false assumptions. One, it makes the assumption that even in the event that all of a human being’s basic survival needs are met, that contention cannot arise; that simply being able to breathe, eat, sleep, and wake up to do it all over again is enough for the average man or woman so long as everyone else gets to experience the same comfort. This is both unnatural and in its own way inhumane. In a very subtle way, if you consider wealth as the necessary constant behind being able to accomplish all of those things (the tools for such outcomes need to be paid for somehow), the successful practice of socialism requires one to worship nothing more than something with monetary value. Of course this only makes sense when one allows themselves to consider that things other than coins and printed bills maintain a monetary value, but the idea behind socialism at its core is that individual wealth simply does not matter– the wealth of the sum is more important than the fact that its moving parts have none. In actuality, submission to socialism’s ideals require its practitioners to assign a dollar amount- whether theoretical or explicit- to the activities that drive one’s inner peace, allowing them to breathe, eat, sleep and wake up with the exact same goals as the family next door.
This is nothing more than abject ignorance of the innate individuality of mankind; its uniqueness as an entity capable of reason, within the animal kingdom. The question of whether or not Jesus was a socialist is not only illogical, it is dishonest for it links socialism to all that is good- that it is in some way “Christ-like”.
While the ideals of Christ as taught in the Bible throughout multiple denominations of Christianity, or as taught in lessons of the history of mankind, are all admirable ideals and things people of all walks of life would be nothing but rewarded for emulating, such ideals are not present in socialism as we know it. It is one thing to speak of socialism as a personal choice as a brand of human interaction in a world removed from profits and losses– an other way of saying that one is “charitable”. Should one describe themselves as a “socialist” while they simply practice charity in the same manner in which Jesus did, there is of course no harm done. But socialism, in practice among those who have built nations and led man under it, has never been charitable. It knows nothing but taking, even when it appears as if it is giving.
The question posed by the hundreds, or thousands, of these seemingly innocent authors (and some are) who pop up in Google has evolved from the explicit promotion of socialism as a good replacement for modern capitalism in free societies and democracy– that tactic died with the radical feminist movement of the 60s and 70s. It has moved on from promoting socialism as a means of perpetuating personal growth and having a stake in the care of your neighbor– that tactic died with the hippies. What these questions seek to do is take the concept of progressive, modern policy– little more than heavy-handed government edicts which create mirages of growth and stability (often called “progress”)– and link them to being Christ-like. The medium in which that portrait gets painted is “socialism”. The question, and ones thesis, paired with tales of Jesus’ charitable works and behavior paints socialism in a rosy, loving shade. This serves as the fuel which ignites the engine that drives progressive policy and seeks to normalize it as a routine aspect of common and good interactions between human beings.
Unfortunately it is under this guise that the public allows itself to believe that this month’s “record” low unemployment rate is representative of an accurate statistic when it cannot be; it enables the public to ignore the fact that under this nation’s own anointed one, its harbinger of change that was to finally bridge our racial gap, that minorities are poorer and less-employed than they have ever been in recent decades. None of the realities that so often prevail as the result of socialist policy are apparent for they are over-shadowed by falsehoods in spoken and written words, and by an idea that doesn’t exist: that those who pull the strings of the puppet do so for the good of the puppet- that socialism is the underlying part of democracy which gives it a human touch. A loving touch, and a grace that compares with Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet.
The question about Jesus and socialism is loaded from the get-go, and for a reason. No one ever really recognizes that reason; perhaps not even those who seek to answer the very question themselves with their articles. This is, after all, the nature of progressive ideology– it lies beneath the surface under the shroud of empathy, driven by purity. Like Bill De Blasio told New York City before he became its mayor, a progressive wave is “in their DNA”. Except progressivism, like socialism, defies what is in a human being’s DNA and the proof is evidenced by the millions who have taken their last breaths prematurely because of it. Progressivism might be present within human beings at times, but it comes in the form of a unique cancer that is not only malignant, but becomes contagious once it has metastasized.
Progressivism, as with socialism, takes more than it will ever give, and all too often what it gives is little more than a death sentence of both the spirit of the human heart, and that same heart in the flesh. Jesus, in any form, wouldn’t have anything to do with that.