Arguing with Christian Socialists

Now this may annoy the atheists that maybe check out the site, but hear everything out. If your goal is to “convert” a misguided statist who happens to be a Christian and an advocate for socialism, read on. I really do think that you can show them how they are wrong and that Christianity does have theology compatible with Anarchism and Capitalism. Feel free to join in the conversation with me here on the facebook thread this is all from here. (Apologies for some typos. I responded to much of this on my phone).

Christian Socialist 1: I don’t think Jesus was a socialist, but he sure wasn’t a venture capitalist or libertarian. One thing about socialism it’s been proven to work. Libertarianism is just a joke. The only people who can’t see what a joke it is are people who can’t see past their own noses.

The whole “socialism has been proven to work” bit made me laugh. That means Venezuela is doing really well right now right? Oh and the USSR still exists and never collapsed right?

Me (Jon Torres): Haha socialism works? F.A. Hayek once said “If socialist knew anything about economics, they wouldn’t be socialist.” In what ways is libertarianism a joke and not compatible with Jesus’s teachings? Libertarian philosophy is grounded in the non-aggression principle. It states that all forms of aggression except self defense are immoral (you know, love your neighbor as yourself”). This means the socialist taking the wealth of one person and giving to another is a form of aggression against another person and their property.

Jesus said to sell your possessions and give to the poor, not create a large central monopoly on force known as government and use that to steal from one person and give to another. You truly have a warped sense of economics, morality and what constitutes a “joke” if you think the libertarian philosophy, which is founded on personal freedom, responsibility, and choice is a joke. Take your central planning and shove it because there are those of us that would rather plan for ourselves.

We then have a long string of dodging arguments and the use of lame ad hominems for a while. We then come to this “Betrayal of Jesus” page that thinks they understand economics.

“Betrayal of Jesus” Page: Jon Torres —citing laissez-faire anti-government extremist F.A. Hayek, who looked for any reason ever to redistribute wealth from the workers who producer to the idle rich of the investor class, shows you to either be completely oblivious to Jesus’ teachings in relation to economics, or simply trying to hijack the thread.

The question here is not whether or not socialism works (like any economic system, it depends on the political management of it — it actually works quite well under democratic governments in Scandinavia and New Zealand).

The question is not about socialism per se, but whether or not Jesus promoted it. The Bible quotes in my previous comment prove that he did.

Me (Jon Torres): Jesus said to help the poor from your own wallet. Not to reach into the pocket of your neighbor, rob him, and then give to the poor (and lock him in a cage if he resists). That is exactly what socialism is. The fact that you believe that shows you don’t know Jesus. You sight Scandinavian countries for their welfare system but you seem to lack their economic situation and your ignorance shows. Those Scandinavian nations consistently rank highest in economic freedom and deregulated markets. You know, free markets, that word that makes you gnash your teeth. Those nations are successful because of their lax regulations and free markets, not because of socialism.

And have you ever read Hayek? I assume you’ve probably only read Marx. He was noble prize winner in economics for his work on understanding how central banking negatively screws up the market. So he was justified in his skepticism of government. Which brings me to my final point, whom do you serve? Jesus or Government? You can’t serve two masters friend.

A quick note about Scandinavian nations. Many of these nations never had a feudal system. They were smaller populations of land owning farmers and this fact helped to give them great capital when reaching the modern era. Not only that, but as I stated in my comment, these “socialist paradises” rank very high in economic freedom and have less regulations hampering their markets. This means they “thrive” (though most of these nations have had stagnate economies for decades with little growth) in spite of socialism not because of it.

“Betrayal of Jesus” Page: Actually I am very familiar with Hayek (yeah right), obviously more so than your complete misrepresentation of socialism (it is not government; you are confused about the difference between politics [government] and economics [how markets are managed, whether by kings, authoritarian dictators, religious theocracy or “we the people” coming together in secular democratic socialism], but this thread is not about economics per se and is not going to be hijacked off on that tangent.

Jesus said to help the poor. Period. He did not say, “from your own wallet” as you say he did. YOU JUST MADE THAT UP. Jesus did not say that. Jesus did not say that your public policy should not be consistent with personal virtue.

And again here is what the Bible does say about how his earliest (pre-Paul) followers interpreted what he did say:
“All that believed were together, and HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS.”
(Acts 2:44-45; emphasis added; this was ENFORCED BY THREAT OF DEATH in a more detailed description in Acts 4:32-37 and Acts 5:1-11).
Shades of Karl Marx! If someone were to suggest such a practice today, those who claim to be Jesus’ followers today would call him a Communist. Would they call Jesus a Communist?

So if Jesus is such an outspoken liberal, why do those who claim to be his followers stake out a conservative position so opposite of what he taught?

It all goes back to that fundamental conflict that has been repeatedly cited — the contradictions between Jesus (supported by his brother James) and the renegade “apostle” Paul.

Again, this thread is not to debate the relative merits of socialism, capitalism or laissez-faire deregulation (which are all very different — if you actually read all five volumes and 750 pages of Adam Smith he repudiates the concept of laissez faire, coined by a French legislator 40 years before he published “Wealth of Nations.” Smith teaches the operation of the “invisible hand” that balances the interplay of market forces of supply and demand but fully understands that they need the regulatory boundaries of public policy oversight to function properly.

Regulation does not stifle free choice, it makes it possible. Rules of the road don’t prevent you from getting in your car and driving anywhere you want to go; they make it possible. Rules of sports don’t stifle strategizing, they make it possible.

But in any case, this is not to debate the merits of socialism or capitalism. It is to point out that Jesus preached a model closer to socialism than the market god of Mammon, and THAT IS HOW HIS EARLIEST FOLLOWERS UNDERSTOOD IT.

Jesus drove the money changers from the Temple.
Today’s conservatives ARE the money changers.
So much is wrong with this theology and understanding of logic and economics it’s pretty funny. They then posted this image:

And by the way, I do not support communism, I do not support socialism, I do not support a straight capitalism of Adam Smith or laissez faire of French legislator René de Voyer, Marquis d’Argenson.

I believe there are features of socialism, capitalism and pragmatism that can be balanced and integrated in a moderate manner.

But again, this is not about which system is best. That is the subject of another thread.

It is about what Jesus taught, and Jesus’ earliest followers — the ones that had actually heard him in life — clearly understood it to mean a communal socialism with “all things in common” enforced by threat of death (references in the previous post)
To which I respond with the following:

Me (Jon Torres): No I really don’t think you understand Hayek. You clearly have your favorite economists and I have mine. I could sight Menger, Mises, Rothbard, Bastiat, Hayek and others and you can just call them a “Capitalist” like its a dirty word and pretend that that is a satisfactory refutation. Where as I can actually pick your economic philosophy apart without strawmen and other such ineffectual “arguments”. Socialism is the public ownership of the means of production and it always leads to dictatorship and oppression of minorities even when it is under “social democracies” and that is what you cannot or will not understand. Why? Because even under a democracy, which is simply a euphemism for mob rule, it only takes 51% to take away the property and rights of the other 49%. 51 percent want higher taxes, too bad to the other 49%, they have to comply or have their property or even lives taken away by the majority. So civil.
You say that I made up the idea of Jesus commanding us to help out of our own pockets? What Bible are you reading? The Gospel of Lenin? Read Matthew 19:21 where it says:

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Notice it doesn’t say “Create a bloated bureaucratic system of instituted plunder so that you can reach into the pockets of others and give to the poor thereby making yourself feel like you care”. It says sell YOUR OWN possessions and give it to the poor. GIVE TO THE POOR OUT OF YOUR OWN WALLET.

You also sight how the disciples shared things in rather socialist manner. I’m fine with that because they did so willingly. You can’t sight that verse in favor of a coercive welfare system. It isn’t the same thing.

Regulation does stifle free choice. The more a government plans the harder it is for the individual to plan. Governments regulate by limiting who can produce, sell and even buy. This by definition limits choice. Not only that, but under socialism, price calculations are impossible. You need market prices in order properly understand risk and production needs. When everything is free or subsidized, you distort these market prices and it leads to shortages. Just look a Venezuela, you can’t even get toilet paper or milk in their stores due to production shortages. Check out this quote from Mises:

“The government believes that the price of a definite commodity, e.g., milk, is too high. It wants to make it possible for the poor to give their children more milk. Thus it resorts to a price ceiling and fixes the price of milk at a lower rate than that prevailing on the free market. The result is that the marginal producers of milk, those producing at the highest cost, now incur losses. As no individual farmer or businessman can go on producing at a loss, these marginal producers stop producing and selling milk on the market. They will use their cows and their skill for other more profitable purposes. They will, for example, produce butter, cheese or meat. There will be less milk available for the consumers, not more. This, or course, is contrary to the intentions of the government. It wanted to make it easier for some people to buy more milk. But, as an outcome of its interference, the supply available drops. The measure proves abortive from the very point of view of the government and the groups it was eager to favor. It brings about a state of affairs, which, again from the point of view of the government,is even less desirable than the previous state of affairs which it was designed to improve.” This is from his book “Middle of the Road Policy Leads to Socialism”. Not only that but socialism does not factor in Human Action which is the basis for all economic activity.

Lastly, your image of Jesus attacking the money changers is laughable. The money changers had a monopoly on the only type of money the temple accepted. Because of this they abused the exchange rate in their favor. Because of this abuse, Jesus called them “thieves”. Guess what institution does something similar to this? The Federal Reserve. It has a monopoly on the creation of money and used the government and violence to keep it’s monopoly and keep people on their devalued currency.

I know you care about the poor. I do to. Shoot, I’m one of those poor people. But the answer is not socialism or anything that negates private property and voluntary exchange.

I have yet to see a response back from them but I will update the article if they do. Socialists come from a wide spectrum of beliefs (just like Anarchists) so it’s important to defend capitalism, free markets and voluntary action from all would be attackers.

Update: 10/9/15
I wanted to update this article and point out that they banned me from the page and deleted all of my comments refuting what they said. The original thread is here:

https://www.facebook.com/…/a.598817606815…/599597143404669/…

I’m glad I made a post out of my responses so that they would not be lost forever! It’s funny how statists show their true colors. They were not interested in a conversation about the subject. They can’t stand to have their childish arguments soundly refuted.

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