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Would Jesus be a capitalist or a socialist?

Postby Mr. Cutie » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:52 pm

This question has been on my mind lately. Would Jesus endorse private-property and the individual freedoms associated with capitalism or the egalitarian model of socialism?

When deciding who to vote for and what system would best allow the Christian ideal to flourish, what should we do?
Mr. Cutie

Re: Would Jesus be a capitalist or a socialist?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:56 am

In the Bible God does not dictate the shape of society. There is no way to know whether Jesus would be a capitalist or a socialist. He does not seek to form a “perfect” society, because no society is perfect (since it is a society of fallen humans). He rather speaks into the shape of society as it exists in those times and encourages his people to live holy lives in that society. He does not dictate an ideal kind of government (monarchy vs. democracy), or a certain sort of economy (market economy vs. barter). Every social structure is flawed. The concern of the Bible is that there be a fair distribution of wealth (no cheating, stealing, theft, or abuse), that people be treated fairly and honestly, that those who have take care of those who have not, and that the government protect us from the power abuses of the rich and also make policies to help the oppressed. What Jesus would have cared about is justice, fairness, and protecting the poor. Wealth is never a problem in the Bible; the problem comes in what you do (or don't do) with it.

Every economic and political system has its strengths and weakness. Historically, Capitalism has shown itself to be far more capable of success and sustenance than socialism, Marxism, Communism, totalitarianism, or monarchies. While capitalism is rife with abuses and failures, it is still possibly the most workable economic strategy for world economic health.

Francis Fukuyama, neo-Hegelian philosopher, in an essay from about 20 years ago wrote that democratic capitalism was the last great idea. He said: History is built on great ideas. A great idea comes along. A society wraps itself around that idea and expresses that idea in its culture. When that idea is exhausted, a new society comes along with another great idea. And so on. We have come to the end of history, because the last great idea has been expressed. There are no new ideas to appear on the human scene. The future indefinitely will be wrapped around this last great idea of human history, which is Democratic Capitalism. The two ideological challenges to democratic capitalism in the 20th century have been vanquished: fascism and marxist socialism. Nothing can compete any longer against democratic capitalism. Democratic capitalism is the wave of the future.

Fascism and Marxist socialism have both been weighed in the balances and found wanting. (Not that Democratic Capitalism is the light of glory. It is, as you and I both agree, full of problems and weaknesses, as is any political-economic system.)

I think it's fair to say all political/economic systems thrive on exploitation. We can rightly condemn something of every system imaginable because of the common denominator: human control. What is even worse, though, is anarchy, because it's a destructive means to a destructive end, with no input to lead us anywhere near a place of order and justice. In order to survive as a species with some sort of reasonable social contract, we need to choose an authoritative structure that will get us as close as we can to a position of reason, fairness, justice, and peace.

Whatever form of government and economic strategy we use, it is the responsibility of all the people to be watchdogs over it to keep it just and not exploitative. It's government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A just, moral society is the only hope for a just and moral governmental model, but justice and morality have their greatest possible impact in democratic capitalism.

I can be fairly certain that Jesus would not endorse any particular -ism, but rather only fairness, honestly, justice, and care.

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