Posts tagged " socialism "

Socialism and atheism – why do they go together?

July 16th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 4 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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On California’s Radical Policies

March 7th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 3 comments

We loved this line from Professor Charles R. Kesler in the Wall Street Journal and thought you would enjoy it too:

“Karl Marx called his kind of socialism “scientific,” as opposed to his predecessors’ “utopian” fantasies. California appears to be pioneering a third kind, which might be called “infantile.”  Our Democrats strongly suspect their programs won’t work and know they can’t be paid for—but want them anyway.”

Stairway to Heaven

October 30th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

I recently eavesdropped on a conversation taking place at a table adjacent to mine.  A customer in the Dallas kosher restaurant in which I was having dinner was talking to the waitress.  After thanking the waitress for excellent service, he asked what she did when she wasn’t waiting tables.  When she responded that she was a recent immigrant and didn’t yet have other work, he said, “How would you like to earn a good living by helping women enjoy healthier skin and better looks?” 

To my amazement, there and then he hired the waitress to staff a cosmetic sales kiosk in one of the larger malls in Texas.  Never mind hiring the waitress—I would have liked to hire him.  He knew not to ask his prospect, “How would you like to make a lot of money persuading passersby to try a hand cream?”  Instead, he motivated by painting a picture of a higher purpose. 

I remember how easy it was to ignite a contagious enthusiasm for chores among my young children provided I first spoke about how much we all owed my wife, their mother, before assigning tasks.  I appealed to a higher purpose.

Most of the brave men and women who enlist in the military do so to defend freedom and protect their loved ones.  Army recruiters rightly emphasize these attributes rather than the pay or the working conditions.

Needless to say, just as fire can cook delicious food, heat our homes and provide mechanized transport, it can also burn and destroy.  The more powerful a tool, the more powerfully it can be used for both good and evil.

Similarly, tapping into the worthy human desire to strive for a greater purpose than merely our physical existence can also be used for both good and evil.  Politicians win support for unpopular policies by explaining, for instance, that confiscatory rates of taxation are necessary to “give every citizen free medicine,” to “help the children” or to “end poverty.”  They know better than to justify higher taxes by explaining that they wish to hire more of their friends and provide them with lavish retirement benefits.

Nimrod, who enslaved the populace to build the Tower of Babel, knew as all tyrants know, that you cannot subdue people by telling them, “I want to enslave you.  I want you to work for my aggrandizement.”  You have to find a way to appeal to their desire for a higher purpose.

…Come; let us build a city and a tower whose top will reach heaven…
(Genesis 11:4)

Nimrod was speaking to a spiritual need.  The tower was a metaphor for appealing to a higher purpose.  In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the word for tower-MiGDaL is closely related to the word for great-GaDoL.  Not only is a tower a great building, but it is the physical depiction of our own human yearning to find transcendent purpose in our lives.  Often companies build enormous headquarters, not because they need the space but because they want a symbol of their vision. Every one of us yearns to reach for the sky.  Similarly, by orating about his stairway to Heaven, Nimrod is saying, “Come with me, I will help you reach for your highest aspirations.”

On the positive side, knowing that on the deepest level most people are motivated best by a call to higher purpose is a practical and indispensable tool for managing a military, a business, or a family. A good leader takes the time to share his or her vision and the idea and passion behind it rather than simply relaying the task that needs to be accomplished. Mundane and often boring jobs lay the groundwork for majestic missions. Being able to envision the goal in grand terms makes even difficult tasks achievable.

 As for the waitress, I hope she will be one more among the many who have achieved success in sales under the guidance of a wise mentor.

 

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