Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Christianity, Communism, and Fools

Shown: Opiate of Masses,
and a Rosary
"Nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge. Has not Christianity declaimed against private property, against marriage, against the State? Has it not preached in the place of these, charity and poverty, celibacy and mortification of the flesh, monastic life and Mother Church? Christian Socialism is but the holy water with which the priest consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat." -Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto

I should make it perfectly clear, at this stage, that I have never read The Communist Manifesto. It's not because I'm opposed to the idea, or because of any real hatred for Marx himself - it's because it doesn't capture my attention enough to get me past the Hipster Appearance Ick Factor. Mainstream mind I might not be, but I work hard to get lunked in with the mainstream of the counter-culture, if you can even call the current incarnation of the Hipsters that.

The reason I bring up this quote is that it was recently thrown at me by a firebrand of old-guard, Marxist communism - a well-known reactionary in NationStates General whom most people are too wise, too tired, or too haughty to engage with. Being a maniac, well rested, and abased, I felt it fit to address his broader point.

"All Abrahamics want is to blow s*** up."

Ignoring the root fact that I can't see the Pope calling for a crusade any time soon, and the Rabbinical Council seems silent on every issue of every kind, in fact, ignoring any broad-brush argument outright, I asked why he had such a hatred for religion in general and Abrahamic religions specifically, when Christianity, arguably the largest of the three main Abrahamic groups, is at minimum socialist in concept. His reply was to say nothing on his own, and simply give the above-laying quote.

I find fault with that, but since that's not really the issue, I'd rather find fault with Marx. He's right that "nothing is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge". I do it all the time - in fact, the socialism of Christ is probably the only redeeming factor of the faith in a modern, secular world, so the best argument to anyone for Christian Morality is that it's inherently socialist in nature.

It's the end of the idea I find fault with, the idea that Christian Socialism is inherently hypocritical. First, let me start with the obvious - as applied at the time that Marx was alive, it basically was. Then, let me invalidate my entire point with a no-true-scotsman.

The reason Christian Socialism has never been seen to work is because it has never been properly implemented  We tithe, sure, because we feel we must. But a portion of that covers the costs of operating the parish, another sizable portion covers the cost of the diocese, and, presumably, another part of the portion covers the cost of the vatican at large. In protestant denominations, replace parish with church and diocese with the relevant governing body/professional association.

Very little of the funding makes a wraparound into actual charity. It's been my problem with the Vatican since the beginning, since way before I considered myself a Christian, indeed before I ever considered the possibility. It's a problem that I see hope in correcting with the arrival of our new and humble Pope Francis. To my view, the Franciscans always had the right idea when it came to the proper understanding of the phrase "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to enter Heaven".

At its root, Christianity was socialist. The idea that we should withdraw from the idea of owning anything, that we should be willing to sell the clothes off our back in order to buy food for the poor, that's about as Socialist as you can get.

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