Tuesday, October 2, 2007

someone explain to me...

this is rather random, but i've kinda been mulling over this for a while...

i've never heard a solid explanation for all the persecution of communists (and the social stigma that's been attached to communism since) during the cold war. in all honesty, i sit there (on the bus, in the car, staring blankly at the computer at work) thinking, "what was that all about?". it seems to me like a group of people and a group of countries held a political/governmental ideal for themselves, and they were crushed for it. i understand that communism, at least the examples the world has seen, hasn't worked out all that great, and it is prone to corruption, but isn't democracy just as corrupt? instead of bribes, we call it lobbying. same thing.

So why have communists been persecuted, subjected to wars (not "liberations" mind you), ridiculed, become the but of so many jokes, and demonized? think about this. Jesus was a communist. the disciples were communists. they all lived in a community where they had nothing of their own and shared everything with everyone around them. i understand that cold war communism isn't exactly that, but it's the main ideal isn't it?

i guess it's just a random tangent that i've had in my head for a while. i want to know what you think. leave a comment


NewsNate said...

I'd love to comment!

Here's a Webster's dictionary definition of communism:

Main Entry:
1 a: a theory advocating elimination of private property b: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed 2capitalized a: a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b: a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production c: a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably d: communist systems collectively

On paper, communism sounds fun, noble and ideal. Everyone shares, everyone's equal in wealth, economic status, etc. However, in a secular, fallen world, paper is the only ideal place for communism to ever be established.

The establishment of communism, socialism and other forms of this 'ideal' across the decades by countries/governments in this fallen world has produced the brutal killings of over 100 million people in the 20th century alone.

As a fellow Christian, I understand the thought process you are going through in your blog. How could it be so bad if Jesus, the disciples and the early church did it? One need only look at the 4 gospels and then at Acts 2:42-47 to see a form of communism. Right?

I wouldn't go so far as to call Jesus, the disciples and the early church living a 'communistic' lifestyle. Instead, I would describe it as Christian, holy, communal living amongst believers. The last word is really the emphasis - BELIEVERS. Not only that, Jesus was God - pure, holy, righteous and without sin. The early church shared what they had in common because they shared a common faith - a TRUE faith. Thus they enjoyed a pure, holy communal living.

The problem comes in where we think that a biblical pure, holy communal living can take place amongst nations and governments who consist of secularists, fallen people, sinful people in this fallen, sinful and corrupt world. It cannot happen - and as history teaches us, the results of this communism trial as a political ideal is mass death.

Here's an analogy with the problem of communism in a sinful world. You and I can have equal everything - the same house, the same amount of food given to us, the same income, the same job...everything is equal. Yet I'm human and you’re human. You’re wife may be happier than my wife and I’m jealous and suddenly we’re not equal. You could have a dog who obeys you more than my dog obeys me and I’m jealous – no equality. As humans we’ll find minor things of jealously or inequality that makes pure equality impossible.

Also, as you’ll see from a commentary below, communism takes all the control of property and wealth and puts it into the hands of the government. Would you want your government to have all that control? Because communism eliminates private property rights (read: say goodbye to your computer, iPod, car, books, bed, ANYTHING you own is not yours now because of communism) what incentive do you have to work? If you work, let’s say 40 hours a week but the government takes all your money and decides what you will or will not receive – what is your incentive to work? Why would you want to go to work if you’ll have nothing to show for it? Do you think that everything will be taken care of for you in a communistic landscape and you can sit back and relax? Well someone has to grind the mill to make flour to feed the masses. But if you’re working the mill, doing physical labor every day, and another person is pushing a pen on an easy desk job – what equality and incentive is there to continue what you’re doing? Putting more effort in results in NOTHING more – thus your incentive is lost, your drive is lost and your reasoning for living in this political system is lost.

So what can the government do in order to keep communism alive? Insert: Ruling of fear, intimidation by force/death in order to motivate production.

Here's a commentary on communism from a philosophy website:
Communism is a form of socialism. It puts control of all property into the hands of the government directly. The results have been impressive: over 100 million people killed in the last century.

Communism is the bloodiest form of government ever conceived. It enslaves the entire population, and rules through fear. Because it destroys property rights, it makes the production of wealth almost impossible. Since the use of one's mind is no longer a method of creating wealth, communism has only one method of production: Through hard physical labor. But without the use of reason, even this is severely limited in its scope.

Since the population gets an equal share of the wealth produced, there is virtually no incentive to produce, since one's effort is of negligible benefit. To compensate for this, the government must intimidate and force the people into working hard. Since self-interest is eliminated as a motivation for production, it is replaced by its cruder sort of self-interest in the form of fear of death. The government slaughters citizens to keep the rest in line.

This is encouraged because the government policies are failures. Communism is supposed to produce limitless wealth, making all of its citizens happy and rich. But with the ability to produce impaired, the success never happens. To distract the population from its failure, the government must blame it on others. And anyone guilty enough of harming everyone in society should be killed of course. Communism lives on scapegoats.

Communism is a brutal system of government. It does not just fail to protect individual rights; it establishes a system of violence force. The results have been exactly what one would predict: starvation, poverty, and the slaughter of millions. (end commentary)

So in effect, to answer your questions: So why have communists been persecuted, subjected to wars (not "liberations" mind you), ridiculed, become the but of so many jokes, and demonized? – Please see the above and realize that it was the citizens of those communistic governments who were persecuted to death, subjected to wars of fear and intimidation from their ruling parties, ridiculed if they didn’t ‘keep in line’, were the butt of the jokes from the communistic ruling party who became wealthy and powerful over this system that enslaved their people, and demonized for believing in freedom, liberty, individual rights, and working for what you earn.

And for biblical references check out our incentive for working hard for God and doing what God wants of us. The Father is not a communistic reward-er in that everyone who goes to heaven will receive the same, equal rewards. No, that is not the case. Rather, it is we reap what we sow - we are responsible for working hard for the Lord and we each/individually will be rewarded differently according to our works.

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

1 Corinthians 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.

Proverbs 11:18 The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

Are we as Christians to share? Of course – we’re to share that which the Lord has blessed us with. And we should give generously and consistently. Also, how are we to work/labor? Are we to work for stuff/property? No. We are to work unto the Lord. We will reap the benefits of our labor and freely as Christians saved by grace with freedom in Christ – will hopefully do what is right by the Lord in that which we’ve reaped from our labors. Taking care of our family, giving to our local church, giving to the poor, those we know in need, etc. We should not rely on a secular government to control this freedom we have as Christians in Christ.

Greg said...

Wow - I'm just posting a drive-by comment, but Nate really put the effort into his response. There's not much I can add, except a few thoughts.

When the rich young man asked Jesus how he could enter the kingdom, Jesus said "Follow my commandments." The man said "I have done that." Jesus then said "Sell everything you have and follow me." So, sort of communism, you might think, but Jesus' motivation was not "use the money to fund my ministry here on earth", but he knew that that wealth was the one thing the young man put ahead of Jesus.

In worldly communism, if Jesus ascribed such a position, the disciples would have enforced the sale of that wealth, taken it forcefully from that young man, kept a large share of it and given the rest to the general public.

You work hard for your grades at school (ok, let's just SAY you work hard for your grades...humor me?) Let's say you're really busting your butt and pulling all "A"s ... 4.0 work. Communism says those "A"s must be shared with those who choose to not work as hard as you. "To each according to his needs." (Ok, that's Marxism, but close.)

If you really are interested, think about researching what happened to the countries surrounding Russia as they were overrun and overtaken, and their demise as they had communism forced upon them. Read the personal stories - those people (some of them, at least) are still alive.

Tom Usher said...

Hello Gary,

This will be a long comment to counter Nate and Greg. I hope it will be all right with you.

There is communism and then there is Communism. There is the voluntary giving-and-sharing all religion that is Christianity (as Jesus lived it, as you said correctly). Then there is the one-party, totalitarian, police-state, coercive, dictatorship of the proletariat (industrial workers) whose dictatorship invariably turned into cults of personality for instance as in the cases of Stalin and Mao.

Jesus is a communist (is; he's alive). He is not a Marxist though. He is opposed to all coercion.

Down through the ages, the monied interests have always sought to keep the common people from having and retaining their Commons. The Commons was community property. It was the shared inheritance of all. Greedy souls stole it by violent means. They are the "might makes right" crowd (very hardhearted).

Now, whenever anyone advocates the communism Jesus and his disciples lived, all sorts of capitalist hirelings come out of the woodwork and echo all the lines they have perfected in their laissez-faire think tanks paid for by the billionaires who definitely don't want the common people getting any ideas that they could live as Jesus and his disciples did (warts and all to start but which warts would fade). Why is that? Well, if the people turn to giving and sharing all, the billionaires won't be lording it over them anymore. The billionaires won't be controlling. They won't be in a position to have excessively.

Anyway, Marx's followers (namely Lenin) who advocated violent revolution (something Jesus denounced) and who didn't follow Marx's later writings, carried out their violent plans and threw out the capitalists. It meant war until the USSR fell. However, Russia certainly still has its eye on reconstituting Empire. It is also not a laissez-faire capitalist economy. It is moving to state-capitalism again.

Anyway, your heart seems to be headed here in the right direction. Don't let the false Christians throw you off. Real Christians aren't going to force anyone to be communist.

Your post suggests that you are simply searching for the best and most meaningful philosophy of life or religion.

The other comments above don't call anyone to rise. They advocate being resigned to the fallen condition. Well, surely Jesus spoke the truth and people rejected him. However, he was gathering his own. The other commentators are discussing that which has no part in Jesus and in which he has no part.

Furthermore, we pray the Lord's Prayer that calls for God's will to be done on Earth. We pray for God's Kingdom, his government, his political economy, to come to the Earth. How can we hold with the views of the other two commentators and be consistent when we pray for that right now for the here and now? It's hypocrisy.

What does all the death associated with the fight between Godless capitalism and Godless false-Communism have to do with Jesus? The answer is nothing. Those two systems are dead of the Holy Spirit.

In addition, you will notice that there is no mention of all the death directly attributable to capitalism. Also, the figures cited about Communism are estimates that many people believe are severely inflated by capitalists.

Capitalism has been responsible for over a million deaths of Iraqis now alone since the last invasion. Add to that the estimated 500,000 children who starved under the economic sanctions put on Iraq by the Clinton administration. Let's not forget all the Afghanis who have died even though the Taliban had said they would negotiate turning over Osama bin Laden. The greedy oil executives who planned much of the affair with Dick Cheney didn't want bin Laden. They want the Iraqi oil and the pipelines that are to run through Afghanistan. Look at Somalia, where oil has been discovered. The U.S. has caused a war and a refugee crisis. And if anyone thinks the threats to bomb Iran are about nuclear weapons rather than taking over the Iranian oil fields again, he or she just isn't thinking.

The list of military actions by capitalism is very, very long. The numbers killed is huge. Let us not forget the capitalist Empire often uses proxies to do its dirty work. It has installed and propped up numerous ruthless dictators. Is still does that.

Nate wrote, "I wouldn't go so far as to call Jesus, the disciples and the early church living a 'communistic' lifestyle. Instead, I would describe it as Christian, holy, communal living amongst believers." Well, the truth is obvious. The believers were living a communistic lifestyle without doubt. Communal living is communism. Why play word games about it other than to obfuscate for the sake of selfishness that is the basis of capitalism?

The point for Christians is that they are to evangelize the teaching of Jesus. They are to call people to Christlikeness. How can we do that but not call them to share all as Jesus called? No, those who don't want Heaven to come to Earth are those who propagandize for capitalism. They don't have it within them to give and share all as Jesus instructed, so they try in vain to reinterpret what Jesus clearly meant.

Nate is talking apples and oranges. He saying Christianity won't work because atheists couldn't make forced giving and sharing work. Well, of course they couldn't make it work. That's why we aren't to be proselytizing for Marxism-Leninism but rather for Christianity. Nate and Greg though are proselytizing for mammon. They can't eat the real food, and they won't suffer anyone else to go in to eat. That's unChristian. It's antichrist.

Nate is calling people not to overcome jealousy. That's not Jesus talking through him. That's Satan talking. Nate is worried about his material possessions, and then he turns around at the end and says we aren't to be that way. He flips and flops right in one posted comment.

This isn't something he's doing unwittingly. He knows exactly what he's doing. He knows exactly who is working for. He knows full well that what he's putting forth is no where near Christianity. One prays he turns all the way.

He's deliberately misleading people into believing that if they share, they'll have nothing. He's a minion for the plutocrats. However, there are many sharing communities right now. I often refer to the Hutterites, since one can look them up on the Internet to see they are successful. Their children are not unhappy. They aren't deprived. I don't subscribe to all of the Hutterites' tenets, but they certainly are a living example of community property working out.

There are numerous communes in the world. People in them have computers, iPods, cars, books, beds, etc. Not that those things are all necessary or even desirable. Jesus owned none of them. Yet, everywhere he went once his ministry caught on, he was welcomed. To those who loved his teaching, their possessions were his. Their homes were his. It's why he said we would have "an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." Mark 10:30. That's not what Nate and Greg are selling though.

Nate is a Libertarian Capitalist. That's his ideology. He's hung up on private property. Sharing all with the brethren is the last thing he's interested in doing. He's also pushing the "incentive" point. What incentive did Jesus have or the disciples? Was it for money and material possessions?

Nate is arguing against Jesus's teaching by pointing to what is wrong with something else that has nothing to do with Jesus. He's arguing against Jesus by saying how wrong Marx was. It's pointless. It's deceptive. It's confused.

Christianity isn't going to take (abscond with) anyone's money, because in the real communist economy of Christ, there is no money to take. There are no taxes to pay either. Everyone serves everyone. It's pure love, and that's what we are to be spreading, not this materialism and crediting mammon for provisioning or creating wealth or bringing forth bounty. It's God who created the world were food used to grows for free. It's capitalism that is raping the planet and constantly creating artificial scarcity. It's the capitalist who have lied to take the nation to war for oil (covetousness).

Nate and Greg appeal directly to selfishness. That's what they're promoting here. It's temptation that one must overcome. Don't fall to it. Unselfishness is what Jesus preached. When did Jesus complain about someone not working while he, Jesus, was washing his disciples' feet? If Nate and Greg are going to be Christians, then let them be as Jesus was and stop thinking about how others are going to take advantage of them. That's a self-defeating attitude before even putting forth any Spirit.

If Nate and Greg don't want to give and share, then they can stay out. No one's forcing them. However, they are working overtime to convince others not to follow Jesus. Why? Who are they? What spirit are they of, doing that? Sheep's clothing is what I see here.

Jesus's incentive is unselfish. What incentive of the type Nate puts forth did Jesus have in going to the cross? Do you hear any Christianity in what Nate and Greg have written? I don't. I hear the opposite. I hear half-truths. Christianity isn't half-truths.

In order to have God's government come to the Earth, Jesus is not going to rule by fear and intimidation and force and death. Jesus advocates love of one another. If we do that, it will work. The real problem is with those who would rather murder Jesus than allow people to continue hearing the truth of how it could and will be.

The philosophy Nate is quoting comes from non-Christians. The greatest enemies of Christ are the usurers (the bankers, the moneychangers). They are the ones who shouted the loudest for Jesus to be crucified.

I don't know which Heaven or level of Heaven Nate is going, but I don't want to go where he's going. He's not going where all serve as the least and is therefore the first. He doesn't see it. In my Heaven, it's the feeding of the five thousand eternally.

Greg wrote that giving all for the sake of the poor was not the same thing as giving to Jesus's ministry. That's wrong. It was Jesus's ministry. Jesus called souls to return to the fold where there is giving and sharing all and each serves all the others unselfishly, to be incentivized by that righteousness. What did Jesus ask anyone to do that wasn't his ministry?

These two, Nate and Greg, didn't also ask you to find out about the people who hate living under capitalism. Oh, Nate and Greg will say that without the sweatshops those people would be starving. Well, they weren't all starving before that. Many places were just fine before capitalism horned in and ruined the system the people had lived for thousands of years (family).

These two don't believe that the problems of the world stem directly from the evil selfishness in people's hearts. I do. The hardness in people's hearts, their unwillingness to share all as one family of humanity is why everything goes wrong goes wrong. It's why the environment is souring on humanity. It's why the Earth is going to go into upheaval if humanity doesn't turn.

Selfishness is the curse. Nate's self-interest is apart from God. The real self is one, one with God and one with the spiritual family that is the real Church.

May God bless you, Gary. May God bless Nate and Greg with the whole truth to stop spewing the laissez-faire mammon worshipping.

Tom Usher