The term “socialism” is on everyone’s lips right now. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates accept and use it as a benign political term, while voters look to it in hope for a less cynical or heartless society. They see the vast incomes of the super-wealthy and wonder about economic justice. That’s a fair question, but do they truly understand what socialism represents?
Since the Sixties, radical university professors have consciously created a breeding ground for optimistic socialist students. Charmed by the idea of the wealthy selflessly sharing with the poor, they align their motto with that of Karl Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” American university graduates whose education has not secured them a well-paying job often identify the cause as unfair capitalism. They remember the professors who proposed a view of socialism as a selfless and culturally optimistic solution to re-organize modern life. Guilt-inducing socialism creates the problem of victimhood and the existence of the Marxist notion of oppressors and oppressed.
This kind of socialistic sharing can sound very spiritual, even Christian. The New Testament exhorts believers to “share with the Lord’s people who are in need” and to practice both hospitality (Rom. 12:13) and generosity (1 Tim. 6:17-18). Indeed the early church at the very beginning seems to have been practicing a form of socialism/communism where “All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:43-44 NIV). However, stepping back, this was an unusual situation where the masses of new believers in Jerusalem at the beginning of the church, “filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles,” were giving less thought to material needs and eventually needed help from those with means. This general sharing was not a long-term solution because, in the end, it resulted in poverty and Paul had to seek financial offering from the Gentile churches “for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem” (Rom. 15:26). In fact, no systematic socialist structure is ever taught in the New Testament, only the goodness and usefulness of responsible work, which allows Christians to help those in need (Eph. 4:28).
In the history of socialism, while some Christians have claimed this terminology for themselves, religion and spirituality have often been expunged from the system, as an almost inevitable development. Interestingly, in 2019, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution seeming to boast that the “religiously unaffiliated” was the “largest religious group in the Democratic Party.” It seems that adopting socialism begins with respect for all citizens and their beliefs but ends up in the denial of human and religious rights, as we will see.
The leading Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, is, some believe, very close to Marxism. Sanders is not the Nordic-style “democratic socialist” he sometimes claims to be. During his political life Sanders stated that he was so “excited” about Cuba’s communist revolution; when the United States was containing communism in Central America, Sanders flew to Nicaragua to lend credibility to the Marxist Sandinistas; as a young man he and his wife honeymooned in the Soviet Union and came back full of praise for it. Practically, Sanders favors nationalizing major industries such as higher education, healthcare, and even the internet, programs that fall well outside the mainstream of U.S. politics and more closely resemble the central planning committees in Cuba and Venezuela. Long-time Democratic spokesman, James Carville, in a public tiff with Sanders, said “[unlike you], at least I am not a communist.”
Historically, socialism begins with great optimism but often ends in a culture that denies free-speech and the free exercise of religion. It does this in a number of ways:
- Socialism Requires Utopian Planners
Socialism requires bureaucratic planners to spend other people’s money. The planners believe they can understand and anticipate the physical needs of their society. They tend to make their decisions based on ideology and limited experience.
In a free market economy you have Inventors, individual entrepreneurs who try to imagine the specific needs and desires of society and, in light of those needs take risks, create goods, and set prices people can afford. Socialism thinks in terms of a division of wealth; capitalism thinks in terms of creative invention and multiplication of wealth. This is why the great inventions we use are almost always created in non-socialistic cultures.
- Socialism Requires Absolute Control
Planners must enforce their plans. If they allow dissent, the whole system collapses. This happened in Israel, for example, in the kibbutzim. Idealistic settlers created independent settlements based on selfless and voluntary collectivism. Each family contributed to the needs of the others according to their ability—but it didn’t work. People resisted the regimentation of forced collective ownership. They began creating a variety of ways to farm and earn money and preferred owning the things they purchased from their earnings. Holding things in common resulted in wasted electricity, water, and human talent. The “communist” kibbutzim eventually broke up. In free enterprise systems, entrepreneurs propose their goods to customers who freely decide what they will buy for their own benefit and the courts deliberate on injustice, using the rule of law.
- Socialism Requires Ubiquitous Surveillance
In a socialist system, the planners claim to understand what culture needs in order to produce utopia. It is, therefore, incumbent on them to discover anyone who is dissenting from their collective orders. This, then, requires advanced systems of surveillance and the elimination of free choice. Last year I visited the concentration camp of the East German STASI in Berlin. STASI (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit; “Ministry for State Security”) was the secret police agency of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It was a gruesome system of collective spying in which citizens were required to denounce any lack of loyalty to the communist regime expressed or enacted by their fellow citizens. This horror even led to children denouncing their parents. The STASI was one of the most hated and feared institutions of the East German communist government. This example of Marxist surveillance is quite recent, since it was only closed in 1990, when the Berlin wall came down. Other examples abound, including the notorious KGB of the Soviet Union and the present systemic control of the population in Communist China.
- Socialism Requires Totalitarian Tyranny
The move from socialism to Marxism must be resisted. Someone has said that a socialist is a communist without a gun. Communist governance is indeed bloody. The Khmer Rouge (a communist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979) is a prime example of a regime that exercised genocidal tyranny with plenty of guns. Just two generations ago, Pol Pot isolated his people from the rest of the world and set about emptying the cities, abolishing money, private property and religion, and setting up rural collectives. The Marxist revolutionaries put to death around two million people in a murderous attempt to create an “agrarian utopia.” Earlier, in the twentieth century, in Soviet Russia, Lenin initiated a totalitarian murder apparatus that succeeded in killing tens of thousands of “class enemies,” that is, fellow Russians. But Lenin’s achievement pales in comparison to the millions his successor Stalin slaughtered, and even he was outdone by Mao in China.
In light of these murderous Communist examples, statements of certain members of Bernie Sanders organization are shocking. “Bernie Bros” (or “Sandernistas”) should not be underestimated. Some of Bernie Sanders’s campaign organizers in Iowa and South Carolina were caught on tape in early 2020 advocating violence, slave labor and the Stalinist repression of dissent as part of their socialist/Marxist program. “I always said that I’m a Communist,” said one. “I believe everything has been formed by class struggle. I’m all about the complete seizure of the means of production, nationalizing everything. Guillotine the rich.” Kyle Jurak, a Sanders organizer in Iowa, called himself “an anarcho-Communist … as far to the left as you can possibly get,” and added that other campaign workers shared his worldview.
- Socialism Requires Brainwashing
The two systems—representative democracy (which includes a market economy) and socialism—have opposing views of the human being. Socialism believes that human beings are inherently good and infinitely malleable, and can therefore be shaped by proper state guidance. They believe that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice and that inspired leaders can be the righteous saviors of history. By contrast, advocates of a representative democracy believe that human beings themselves are the cause of our social problems. If this is the case, then concentrating power in the hands of a small contingent of humans is dangerous. The most effective governance breaks up the concentration of power by using lawful checks and balances.
Socialism ultimately believes that humans can act selflessly because there is no sin and no personal God. In the socialist system, fallible human beings have the ultimate power to define life. Consider how billionaire presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg defends his pro-choice position: “At the rate we’re going, healthcare is going to bankrupt us. If you show up with cancer and you’re 95 years old, we should say…there’s no cure, we can’t do anything.” Such collectivistic logic gives little worth to either pre-born babies or elderly citizens. When socialists have made rich men poor, they will have no money from taxes or benevolence. Will the cut-off age then drop from 85, to 75, to 65?
Socialism aspires to an all-inclusive utopian future that only they can provide. Contemporary American socialists have outlined their plan in a book, Imagine Living in a Socialist USA. They state clearly that socialism is not merely an economic program for income redistribution but a social agenda of radical egalitarianism, which includes the deconstruction of traditional sexual norms. In a chapter entitled, “How Queer Life Might Be Different in a Socialist USA,” the authors propose that:
- the current norms of male and female will be things of the past;
- LGBTQ people will have the same access to “all cultural, social, political and economic structures”;
- marriage will be for all with no special privileges attached to it;
- sexual relations between 16 year old boys and 40 year old men will be seen as positive and healthy— [During the Obama administration, we already honored a known sexual predator, Harvey Milk,  with a state holiday, his own commemorative stamp and the Presidential Medal of Freedom]
This movement is called neo-Marxism. Its result will be cultural collapse, as Oxford social anthropologist J.D. Unwin in his Sex and Culture predicted eighty years ago. After studying no fewer than eighty cultures, one of his conclusions, was that “Increased sexual constraints, either pre or post-nuptial, always led to increased flourishing of a culture. Conversely, “if total sexual freedom was embraced by a culture, that culture collapsed within three generations to the lowest state of flourishing.” It became an “inert” culture, “characterized by people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs. At this level, the culture is usually conquered or taken over by another culture with greater social energy.”
Or culture’s rejection of gender distinctions is an essential element of a “post-capitalist,” apocalyptic transformation of human society. We are observing a utopian remaking of human identity. Not only will racism, ageism and classism be wiped away (an ideal many of us would love to see), but all binary distinctions dissolve as well—especially the male/female binary. Society must accept all sexual expressions as normal. With such a vast vision, the contemporary push for homosexual rights is not a sop thrown to a miniscule number of people in the interest of fair play. The issue of “rights” will be pushed until the government imposes coercive sanctions on anyone who fails to affirm the moral goodness of gay unions. Imagine Living states clearly that “socialism” is a “cosmology,” based on the wholesale program of [human] “identity politics.”
Specifically the “Bernie Bros” reject the Constitutional idea of three Federal branches of government that assure checks and balances, preferring a “plan for dual power, where we’ll have the Presidency and a mass movement right alongside it that’s going to be institutionalized and supported.” The great danger of this social vision of “dual power” is that that the President becomes a dictator surrounded by his followers, with no democratic controls. Socialism, with no serious checks and balances, can very quickly become radical Marxism.
Gary Saul Morson, an expert on Marxism, states that Marx’s greatest contribution was not the moral idea of the class struggle for the rights of the worker, but the power ideology of “the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx’s successor, Lenin defined the proletarian dictatorship as “totally unlimited by any laws, totally unrestrained by absolutely any rules, and based directly on force.” “The only choice is either the bourgeois (conservatives) or the socialist (Marxist/proletarian) ideology. To belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn away from it in the slightest degree, means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.” For these slight slip-ups, people got shot. Who knew the correct and pure definition of Marxist ideology? The Party! Party members, however, had a variety of ideas, which they dared not even whisper. Finally, only the leader of the Party, who had ultimate authority over life and death, could define pure Marxism. When his associates caught Lenin in a lie, he simply responded that his lies were true! The ultimate conflict was between one man’s sinful claim to total authority and the authority of God the Creator and source of all truth.
Marxism cedes not an inch to the Giver of life, to whom we are accountable. There is no place for God the Judge of fallible human beings. Religion (with the exception of Pete Budigieg’s kind) must be eliminated. “Religion is opium for the people,” wrote Lenin in December 1905, echoing his hero, Karl Marx. “Religion is a sort of spiritual booze.” That was a mild assessment from a man who wrote that “there is nothing more abominable than religion,” and “all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia [love of death].”This is radical Oneism.
The United States has a constitutional, representative democracy that fosters a free market and respects every individual as made in God’s image. Yet it is also realistic, expecting human evil, which must be curbed by checks and balances and by laws that derive from a Judeo-Christian foundation. Such a system leaves a place for the worship of the Creator (the all-wise ruler and origin of the entire cosmos) and the preaching of the gospel.
 Horowitz At Heritage Foundation: ‘The Communist Party Is The Democratic Party,” Breibart News PARTY’ http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/11/12/Horowitz-blasts-left-Heritage.
 Frances Goldin, Debby Smith and Michael Smith, Imagine Living in a Socialist USA (Harper Perennial, NY, 2014).
 Imagine Living, 99-104.
 Randy Barber, “Sexual Predator Honored with a U.S. Postage Stamp,“ WND (25 Oct, 2013) http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/sexual-predator-honored-with-u-s-postage-stamp/#jj6D3yZ2iLgpHZvd.99
 See https://www.kirkdurston.com/blog/unwin, “Why Sexual Morality May be Far More Important than You Ever Thought,” a post in which Kirk Durston summarizes his extensive reading of J.D. Unwin’s book, Sex and Culture (Oxford University Press, 1934).
 Gary Saul Morson, “Leninthink: On the practice behind the theory of Marxism-Leninism.,” The New Criterion’s Inaugural Circle Lecture on September 25, 2019.
 Paul G. Kengor, “What Lenin Said About Christians and Socialism,” Aquila Report (Thursday, October 10, 2019).