Socialism is a highly-energized and mobilized political movement—especially among Millennials—in the United States right now. The 2016 presidential primaries saw a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, almost defeat establishment candidate Hillary Clinton. The 2018 mid-term elections saw a 28-year-old democratic socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, defeat incumbent House democrat Joseph Crowley. The 2020 elections are being influenced by the burgeoning socialist wing of the Democratic party.
It’s time for us to pay attention to socialism.
For that reason, I sat down with the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal podcast and explored the headwaters of contemporary American socialism—Karl Marx and his vision for socialist revolution. Marxist socialism has exercised an enormous influence over world history, exceeded only by Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad.
In the podcast, I summarize Marx’s life and thought, arguing that, more than any other political ideology, Marxism functions—structurally and existentially—like a religion. In fact, French philosopher Raymond Aron once wrote that Marxism:
…provides true Communists with a global interpretation of the universe; it instils sentiments akin to those of the crusaders of all ages; it fixes the hierarchy of values and establishes the norms of good conduct. It fulfils, in the individual and in the collective soul, some of the functions which the sociologist normally ascribes to religions (265).
After having revealed Marxism as a false religion, I explore the disastrous consequences incurred whenever Marxism has been embraced historically. In a nutshell, I argue that Marxist socialism suppresses society instead of liberating it and that it increases poverty rather than reducing it.
To listen to the 30-minute podcast, click here.
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Great podcast discussion! I have 3 questions:
1) Do you write in greater detail on this topic in any of your books?;
2) What parallels and distinctions would you draw between Marxism and Liberation Theology? I’m currently taking a “Liberation Theology” class in my Seminary and I’m having trouble drawing clear lines of division between Christian Theology and Marxist ideology.
3) When you say that the upending of an entire social order never goes well, can you expand on the “why” behind that?
Sean, hi and thank you for your questions. Here are my thoughts in brief:
1. Yes, I write about Marxism in “Letters to an American Christian.”
2. Yes, liberation theology is a revisionist version of Christianity that draws upon Marxism to try to achieve an immanent salvation. it views evil almost exclusively in systemic terms rather than recognizing that evil originates in the human heart before it is able to corrupt institutions and associations.
3. Social revolutions are attempts to “clear the decks”, to burn down an existing social order and start over again. But no human being, or group of human beings, is smart enough or strong enough or good enough to do something like that without experiencing seriously negative consequences. This sort of idealism ends up in bloodsheed and chaos, often making the resulting situation much worse that what had existed before.