An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Christianity is Communism

To be a Christian is to fight for the poor. Not to fight for justice means not to know God. Therefore it is impossible to be a Christian and not to be a true communist, though the converse is not true.

Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with anti-Communism since communism is the primary social legacy of the Christian path to truth. More to the point in these days of "hope" and "change", Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with neoliberalism. No real "change" is possible unless capitalism is forcefully remounced.

"Obama and his auto commission have decided to use the power of the capitalist state to impose a solution fully in keeping with neoliberalism. Whatever the ultimate outcome for GM and Chrysler, the industry would be modeled on the lean and mean transplants: competitive, profit-making machines with weak or no unions. Finance would retain a dominant role in deciding its priorities. And the demand for short-term profitability, discouraging longer-term investments and costly new technology, would come at the expense of the environment. The administration is using its power to force reluctant bondholders to accept hugely discounted returns, in the name of the broader interests of the capitalist class as a whole. It is using the threat of bankruptcy to force workers to accept further job loss, reductions in wages, benefits, pension rights, work intensification, and deteriorating working conditions. The firing of Wagoner was an effort to appeal to the growing anger of many Americans with the greedy CEO’s of the financial sector — while making no real fundamental changes, other than reinforcing the disciplining power of Wall Street financial interests. In a similar way, in appearing to be equally harsh with both bondholders and the UAW, the administration maintains a fa├žade of fairness — even though workers will end up paying with their basic livelihoods and pensions."- Herman Rosenfield, "The North American Auto Industry in Crisis", Monthly Review, June 2009

The above is a key example of that which negates Christianity. Christianity is about social justice or it is an idol that puts its worshipers into a state of advanced stupor. We Christians are called to remove the workers of iniquity from the field of the world, not in a mythological way, following the Disneyland theology popular throughout North America, but in a real way, by eliminating the causes of injustice. In the real fields of the kingdom which we currently inhabit, the primary cause of injustice and environmental inferno is the ideology John Paul II referred to as savage capitalism. The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God, which exists beneath our feet on this beautiful earth. It is a spiritual realm indeed - the spirit of justice that lives within our hearts. There is no heaven other than the one that God creates in those hearts.

The concept of a kingdom that is not of this earth is completely unBiblical. When Jesus said, "I am not of this world,", he did not mean that he existed in some spiritual realm apart from the planet Earth. Instead, his statement had a spiritual meaning, "I am not of this system, but I bring a new system into existence with my presence, one in which the relations of domination and subordination no longer exist."

The Kingdom of God is among us.

"Oh, do not let the oppressed return ashamed!
Let the poor and needy praise Your name." - Psalm 74:21

"For God is my King from of old,
Working salvation in the midst of the earth." - Psalm 74:12

There is no Biblical concept of a permanent spiritual realm apart from the earth where we will one day live, abandoning the earth to its wickedness. Instead, the Bible teaches us that we must be part of the transformation of the earth into the Kingdom of God. We have failed our mission miserably and this failure is justified by escapist dreams of a heaven where all our earthly omissions will be forgotten. Deep down, each Christian knows that the gospel of Jesus Christ was not that there is a heaven where we can escape from all earthly suffering. Instead, the kingdom of God is within us and it blazes up whenever we fight for social justice.

4 comments:

Benjamin said...

Christianity is more radical than communism. How about that for a loaded statement. But there is truth in it. To follow Jesus is to live as Jesus and follow what he has taught in the Gospels. And this requires orthopraxis and orthodoxy. This is possible. The two are not polar opposites.

The issue with communism is that the State ends up ruling every aspect of the citizens' lives and, as is evidenced in history, will greatly persecute those with differing ideas, cultures, etc, particularly those that express belief in God. Concerning political systems, I enjoy Dorothy Day's explanation of what she meant when she said she was an anarchist. “The word anarchist is deliberately and repeatedly used in order to awaken our readers to the necessity of combating the ‘all-encroaching state,’ as our Bishops have termed it, and to shock serious students into looking into the possibility of another society, an order made up of associations, guilds, unions, communes, parishes, voluntary associations of men [sic], on regional vs. national lines, where there is a possibility of liberty and responsibility for all men.”

This sort of new society is what is needed. It is a conversion of people's hearts that is needed to combat poverty, human indignities, racism, repression, etc, etc. Orthopraxis and orthodoxy. Communism brings persecution and death. And particularly to Christians.

Boyd said...

Thank you, Benjamin, for the opportunity to dismiss the idea that communism has anything to do with rule by the state. Communism means sharing possessions in common or distributing the goods produced by labor so that each a fair and sufficient portion. Communism in this sense was pioneered by the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles in chapters 2 through 4. The governments of the 20th century that claimed the word "communist" did not live the principles of true communism, but were actually a form of state capitalism. They allocate the goods of production not according to the democratic principle which communism promotes, but according to a bureaucratic power structure that simply replaced corporate domination with state domination. This has nothing to do with real communism, but was a complete betrayal of the communist ideal.

To conclude, the "all-encroaching state" is a danger that every Christian should guard against. And the best guard is a complete rejection of capitalism which exalts and uses the state to promote its interests. This should be accompanied by an embrace of the social and economic system of the first Apostles, which was communism.

Anonymous said...

So Boyd,

Just what political system to you see as viable and compatible with the communist economic and social system that you are suggesting be adopted?

Boyd said...

The starting point of a Christian political system should be the thought of the Fathers of the Church such as St. John Chrysostom: "There is something terrible about greed, any guilty of it shall be be expelled from the Church." The central principle of Christian communism can be described as follows: "Enjoying goods alone means losing them, harming both the social whole and oneself. The crucial idea here is that of benefit. Since everything belongs to God we are only beneficiaries of existing goods, and there can be no private property in the strict legal sense of exclusive rights, this right being limited, if not repealed, by the normative obligation to be useful: 'Everything belongs to God...do you not know that we will be called to account if we make poor use of it?" - Clement of Alexandria.

This principle means that a political system in which property rights trump all other values is anti-Christian at its root. Traditional Christianity has always argued that property rights are relative values and should be subordinated to spiritual values. In other words, an economic system based on the profit motive cannot be made to conform to Christian principles because it is fundamentally based on greed. Current economic theory further assumes that the sum of personal greed-based activity will result in the greater good of the whole, which is blatantly contradicted by the facts of our world.

From the perspective of Christian ethics, "...when the usefulness of the goods produced and consumed no longer drives economic activities, but exchange value and limitless accumulation through money mechanisms, the property-owning individual falls prey to the illusion of boundless life - and the community is destroyed." Hinkelammert, "Another World is Possible". Therefore the economic and political system I would advocate would involve a rational and collective planning process for production that would focus on human need. It would regard the excessive accumulation of property by individuals or small groups as a crime against the good of the whole. It would be a world in which useful goods were distributed to all according to their need and to which each would contribute according to their talents. Such an economic practice would promote the values of sharing over competition, in accordance with Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.