- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on November 18, 1999 at 21:31:52:

In Reply to: Christianity the Socialist Remix posted by Lark on November 18, 1999 at 10:21:51:

: Social and Economic Justice, that is the restructuring of society in such a manner as to eradicate poverty and it's attendant anti-social behavioural patterns, regardless of the imagined expense or consequences, is not just consistent with the bible it is the very basis and centre of the bible,

New Testament, absolutely. There is some stuff in the Old Testament which kind of troubles me, though. i was talking with a Christian evangelical friend of mine last night and he gave me a very unsatisfactory answer as to why Leviticus, for example, sanctions slavery. He said essentially that God knew the isrealites weren't eprfect, so he made a deal with them- they got to keep slavery and other social vices as long as they toed the moral line in other depratments. I don't relally believe that. My take on this is more that divine revelations, if and when they occured, have usually been filtered through the human recipients of said revelation. (Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, and other figures may be exceptions here). I don't find it unlikeley that the ancient Hebrews, if God spoke to them, might have been unable to u nderstand or accept the full weight of the revelation. They might well have been unable to overcome their prejudices, predisposistions and cultural conditioning and report the revelation in full acciracy. This seems to me a handy hypothesis,m it would immediately explain why the Old Testament seems to sanction slavery, incest, massacres of civilians and other atrocities. bear in mind I'm ONLY speaking about the Old Testament right now. I think the NT is great and incredibly uplifting and demanding.

: and to ignore that you will miss the book's key message:

: Help Each Other While We Are Alive.

Indeed, or "Love your neighbor", including all humanity as your neighbor, as Jesus showed by teh subsequent parable.

: God in the Old and New Testament and as Jesus Christ, his human incarnation, requires radically transformed social and economic relationships among his people and the world, however the current state of affairs, characterised by the might of malevolent transglobal business where all values and morality has been subordinated to profiteering or has sought to legitimise this motivation through it's integration in strains of thought in such a manner unintended by the founders of these strains of thought originally, should be attacked rather than defended by sincere Christians.

Yes. Pope John XXIII, i thoink, had it right. And so did Graham Greene, when he suggested that Pope John XXIII more than made up for everything Torquemada and the Inquixsistion ever did.

: God has been to often invoked to defend mammon, state, social and ethical authoritarian judgementalism and iron punishments and I for one think it is time that an alternative account where given,

yes, it's hard to see how Jesus could be misinterpreted in this way, when the Argentines tried to do it in the '80s theygot into all kinds of logical absurdieties, arguing for exampel the the 'poor in spirit' was shorthand for 'the rich', so priests should ignore the poor and minister to the rich. I'm not making this up.

: or rather a statement of fact since it is not difficult to detect anti-capitalist accounts in the bible, they are not socialist however, I would not suggest that since socialism is ardently secularist (if not purely rationalistic),

Well, I don't agree. I think you're tarring socialists with a broad brush. Socialism is an economic / social/ humanitarian doctrine, not a metaphysical one. There have been a deeply devout Ernesto Cardenal, a Thomas More, and a Julius Nyerere for every Karl Marx drning on about the opiate of the masses. And just incidentally, let's parse that famous Marxist saying itself. Is it necessarily a condmenation of religion? No; I take it to mean that religion, like opium, offers a salve for teh pains of the world. That is very far from the only purpose of religion, but it is ONE purpose, therefore the Marxist saying can be accepted as literally correct. It is not, in itself implying that religion is false, nor that it has pernicious effects. Though marx may himself have believed it, active opposistions to religion was most definitely NOT a major part of his agenda. that was largely the work of those notrouious Russian nuts, Lenin and Trotsky.
As Graham Greene's Doctor Magiot points out, "Opium, remember, is used in medicine. I'm not against opium. Certainly I'm not against [religion]."
Marx was also agaisnt the closing of British Catholic monasteries by Henry VIII. And of course there were plenty of religious communist movements, especially in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil, tanzania, and Zambia. There were also non-Christian religious socialists,for example U Nu in Burma and Gandhi in India.

:but none the less the indictment of those who so often herald the bible as their manifesto, neo-conservatives, heartless proponents of laissez faire and the pernicious "Christen" Right. I might before I go any further respond to individuals who would accuse me of trying to exploit the respect, honour, esteem or veneration with which Jesus Christ is held to a political end while denying his deification. First I do not intend to exploit his teaching for political ends but the evidence is here that it is an indictment of the present order and not primarily because of the divergent lifestyle choices or amoralism,

Amen! There is nothing wrong with USIng what's IN THE BIBLE to support socialism. teh words are tehre, we aren't adding extraneous things or twsiting their meaning. We aren't the ones saying 'poor in spirit' = 'rich'.

: secondly given that Jesus is recognised as a figure of historical importance, such as, Ghandi his example can be understood or accepted without embracing the religious dimension. I mean Ghandi acquired deity status while alive and Christians can respect his pacifist philosophy without embracing Hinduism.

Well, I don't knwo about acheiving 'deity' status. it's complicated there because hindu theology recognizes the seed of God in all of us, tehrefore we are lal in some regard partially divine (alkthough different qualitatively from God). Hence, to say taht one perosn is a 'deity' uniquely doens't have much meaning in Hindusim. However i see your point. Incidnetally, soem Hindus accept Jesus Christ as an incarnation of God, one of 10 incarnations.

: A biblical historical perspective demonstrates how possessiveness, selfishness, structural injustice, economic oppression and the complacency of those with the ability to effect change has resulted in catastrophic wars and violence, how listening to the pleas of the poor, rather than judging them, blaming them for their condition or considering them worthless, has pleased God, created harmony and solidarity, and caused things to turn out differently.

: First let us consider property, if we are all honest, as opposed to rhetorical or dogmatic, we favour it in some degree, even Proudhon who infamously declared What is Property? Property is Theft! Maintained that it was beneficial because it ensured independence from the government or intrusive neighbours but suggested that possession was more justified. A great account of how sincere socialism does not threaten property is given by the sociologist Durkheim in Socialism and Saint-Simon.

This is off the teopic Lark but remember when I threw out a silly Durkheim quote and the Honorable Joel jacobson thoght it was you, and went on for weeks about you relying on authority?

; To give an example my toothbrush is mine, my comb and clothes (I might add to that a small selection of books) and I might be reluctant to share them but the rejection of the right to roam by land owners? A contradiction of an right of assembly or freedom of movement, if their ever was one.

yes, I like taht distinction betwen productive and personal property.

:Or the global order that prevents the exercise of national or local sovereignty, increases dependency upon the benevolent foreign policies of western might and the planning of economies by the IMF, WTO or World Bank (all of which are justified by the advocates of laissez faire and elitism as out growths of property rights)?

: God and the prophets make it clear that land, and all things by degrees are products of the land with the application of labour, belong to him, human ownership, which was intended as 'family ownership', the association of these extended families constituting the community, was really a form of stewardship.

: There are striking differences between the way in which the chosen people conduct their affairs and organise their communities and the manner in which the surrounding societies and social orders where constituted/organised. Most of the surrounding countries where in the clasp of feudal land ownership and subjugation. The king granted large tracts of land, worked by landless labourers, slaves and non-citizens, to a small number of royal vassals. Israel on the other hand was a decentralised and egalitarian society. Family ownership, which was socialistic if not communistic in ownership and sharing of possessions and wealth, was the norm. Joshua 18 and Numbers 26 contain accounts of the fair division of land.

But they did have slaves, just liek ancient Greece, that hotbed of reaction...

I really liked the post in general Lark.Great evvidnec there. My hoe state was founded by devout Christians (the Puritans) who held land in common, established price controls, and invented the concept of public schooling, so it amuses me to see people trying to paint Christianity as a conservative creed.

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