Socialism and atheism – why do they go together?

July 16th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

Could you further explain the following passage from your book Business Secrets from the Bible?

“One would have expected the political left to excuse what it calls the “greed” of capitalism and to recognize it as nothing other than Darwinian law applied to the life of modern man. Yet, this is not possible; something as truly spiritual as commerce simply cannot coexist with socialism. The atheist himself recognizes that, to be true to his credo, he must reject the free market because of its godliness.”

Why can’t socialism exist with commerce when socialism also helps those that are less fortunate?

Why would you assume an atheist would reject a free market because of its spirituality when his basis for understanding spirituality is different from yours and he may himself benefit from capitalism if it allows him to benefit himself?

I am trying to test my previous ways of thinking and understand ideas and thought processes that I have never considered before.

Alo

Dear Alo,

We are delighted that you are reading Business Secrets from the Bible so carefully and actually thinking through each point.

We disagree with you that socialism helps those who are less fortunate. Its proponents gain control by promising to do so, but the reality has never matched the promise. As Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons on October 22, 1945,

‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.’

The only ones who do not share in the miseries of socialism are those in power. Somehow, they manage to live quite well, even opulently, as those who foolishly bought into their promises suffer, some of them even starving to death. We encourage everyone to learn history from fair and honest sources. Sadly, the information taught in schools and universities today is often neither. Unfortunately, you needn’t restrict yourself to history. Search out information about what is happening in Venezuela and other socialist paradises today.

Now, to get to your main point. We must acknowledge that when we write words such as, “the atheist,” we do not mean to say “each and every atheist.” Individuals do not fall 100% into categories. The atheist philosophy rejects the idea that humans are uniquely  touched by the finger of God. We insist that this spiritual distinctiveness is precisely what allows humans to make individual decisions on thousands of large and small subjects. No lion decides to be a vegetarian and no kangaroo chooses to carry her babies on her back rather than in a pouch. People, however, can live not only with great variation but even with inconsistency. By “the atheist” we mean a philosophical idea rather than a specific person.

Also, you refer to spirituality whereas we tend to talk of Judeo-Christian Biblical thought.  Sometimes spirituality is a word used as a synonym for “new age” thinking.  We are talking of the set of Bible-based values that created the wealth and freedom of western civilization.

In 1000 AD the world’s population was about 200 million.  Life was short, and dangerous for almost everyone.  Disease and poverty were rampant.  Even kings lived far worse than a lower-income individual in a large western city today.  Yet, in less than a millennium, global population has grown to over five billion people the overwhelming majority of whom live in a state of health and comfort their ancestors could only dream of. According to David Landes an economic historian who is not in any way a religious man or Bible believer, this astounding progress is largely due to Judeo-Christian Biblical thinking

We see how a secular society grants full license to concupiscent behavior because it recognizes it as barnyard behavior and views us as no more than sophisticated animals.  Regarding money however, its spiritual nature–no animal understands money–causes discomfort to the secularist.  It’s no coincidence that atheistic societies have never succeeded in building effective economies.  Nobody can succeed at something he deep down considers to be morally reprehensible.

In our writings, CDs, appearances and DVDs, we make the point that money is spiritual. We cannot condense thousands of words into a short few sentences here. But, when a society doesn’t acknowledge that money is spiritual then it is left to treat making it as immoral and selfish. It needs to reject the free market and capitalism. This, unfortunately, plays out in history over and over again.

Keep reading and asking questions,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

 

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6 comments

Frank Lessa says:

Are American housing and land use markets capitalist?

Zoning socializes our property rights for the collective benefit of property owners.

In a free market I could escape high rents, stabilize my housing costs, secure my Second Amendment rights, and build wealth, by purchasing a tiny hovel.

But government denies me this option.

Please discuss.

Scott says:

I love your perspectives and the wisdom you bring to each topic. Scott

Neweverymoment, Deb:
Go, Rabbi (and Susan)!
A bit sideways that might be useful: My late husband, the Philosopher, (heir to the Boston University Personalists) liked their definition of religion as “a set of beliefs, attitudes, and actions concerning Ultimate Reality”. If one holds that there is no Ultimate Reality, one is an atheist, so atheism is a religion. Continuing, the raw material of religion is spirituality. Money is by definition a secondary gain (and somebody once trained chimps to get “paid” in colored poker chips, which they could insert in a machine and get a banana or whatever). For better or worse, one can be religious without being spiritual, and one can develop one’s spirituality apart from most conventional religions. You are so right that secular fundamentalism/atheism does not end well and never has. The synergy between Judaism and Christianity is one of our best hopes. “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”

Matt says:

The problem with socialism is “time.” The poor benefit today and everybody suffers tomorrow. This is just like putting out fires in the forest. The forest appears to benefit today but much later it burns down to the ground.

Janet McIntosh says:

This is a great topic and your explanation was enlightening. I’ve been following you both now for years I almost know what you’re gonna say. You have taught me so much that I have gained and grown up in my understanding of the Bible. I am going to continue learning from you both and sharing your work because I truly believe it is from God.
God bless both of you!!!

Susan Lapin says:

What a lovely compliment, Janet. Thank you.

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