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When Evil Sounds like Justice

July 11, 2012

A famous politician, whom I’ll identify below, once said “We are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”

People have an innate need to feel valued and successful. We are also selfish and greedy. When others have more possessions and wealth than we do, in our fallen natures we hear words like those above as justice and fairness. The audience who heard those words was energized by them, eventually nominating the speaker to a powerful political position. Similar speeches have created powerful political movements in many different times and places, including the Occupy Wall Street movement recently in America.

What is wrong with this sentiment? First let’s consider the intent of its adherents. Most often, those who support this view are seeking to gain the support of large numbers of citizens, whether for strength in numbers in politics or violence. They beat the drum of unfairness against capitalism not because they believe socialism or communism truly creates an optimum system, nor because they’re willing to take an equal share of material wealth along with everyone else, but because they crave influence and power. They know that those who lead the movement against the current paradigm will be able to create the new paradigm. History shows us consistently that those seeking to lead uprisings against unfair wealth and power are themselves seeking wealth and power. This is the message of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

What about the idea itself? Is it right for a government to redistribute society’s wealth evenly, regardless of contribution or ability? The collapse of the Soviet economic system (and the compromise of the Chinese) should have shown the world that socialism is a failure. It kills motivation, innovation and ambition to take the results of man’s labors and spread it to his neighbors. Some claim that socialism is consistent with Christian principles, but avoiding the idolatry of money and showing generosity are hardly identical with (or best-served by) a governmental system of forced redistribution. In fact socialism actually makes it extremely difficult to follow the Bible’s teaching on generosity, so it can hardly be consistent with Christianity! Christ himself confirms this in the parable of the talents (Matt.25:15-29) and in stating “you will always have the poor among you.” (John 12:8)

Although the quote above sounded good to his audience when Adolf Hitler spoke those words on May 1, 1927, it helped lay a foundation that led Germany toward evil and the entire world toward World War II. 5½ years after speaking those words, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. Just four months after taking that position, he had consolidated political power to become a dictator and had begun construction of the first concentration camps…

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