From the suburbs of Chicago, ironically Obama’s dooryard, comes a frighteningly ignorant editorial piece asserting that next week’s election is really a national choice between faith and atheism. While I’m sure that the author, David Caldarola, is not part of the media elite, he is likely a Joe Six-Pack—and for all I know, a plumber to boot. The frightening part is that he is likely not a lone voice, but rather is reflective of a non-trivial group of people with seriously askew views of politics, and I would claim, their religion as well.
Mr. Caldarola’s first revelation is:
Liberalism is socialism-Communism-Marxism; all of which require atheism.
It’s hard to get that many completely erroneous conflations into one sentence. Communism is not Marxism. Marxism is communist, but not necessarily the other way around. Marxism advocates atheism, but not because it is philosophically inconsistent with theism. Rather, Marx recognized that religion competes with political forces for control of the hearts and minds of the people. Further, there’s no evidence that socialism is a gateway political structure to communism. Western aligned European nations (e.g. Sweden) have very socialist economic and political structures, but do not seem to feel the urge to slip into communism, much less Marxist tyranny. Several Marxist nations self-advertise as socialist, but most of them came to Marxism through revolution. Cuba and China (to pick a couple) were never socialist societies who evolved Marxism. The ties between liberalism and socialism are even more tenuous. That relationship seems to mostly be a manufactured product of the 11th-hour McCain campaign strategy to make Obama appear dangerous.
But the larger and more unbelievable assertion in Mr. Caldarola’s essay is that theism (presumably Christianity) is consistent with capitalism. So much for the monastic traditions of Christianity. Jesus was apparently big on keeping what you earned. Let the poor starve. They are only starving because they’re too lazy to get a job. No wealth spreading would be tolerated in his world. Charity is for namby-pamby wussy boys. If you’re successful, it’s a blessing from God. If God wanted that blessing shared, he’d have done it himself.
But wait, don’t order your new revised Christianity yet. First, check your message of peace and love at the door. Apparently Jesus was a bad-ass who wouldn’t have thought twice about waterboarding a prisoner. Arguably, crucifixion was a Roman analog to waterboarding. Further, as the legal government at the time, the Romans considered Jesus a subversive with terrorist tendencies. After all, he created quite a ruckus outside the temple with the money changers. So I’m sure that Jesus would have agreed that he got what he deserved.
How ever did the message of Christianity get this perverted? Historically, Jesus was politically liberal in shades that would make Ted Kennedy look pale. He advocated poverty and charity. He advocated giving of yourself for the greater good. If Jesus did come back today, there might be arguments about how he might align with the GOP on abortion, but in broad philosophy, do we really think Jesus would align with the hardcore capitalism and social Darwinist policies of the Republicans? I personally think he’d find the Democrats a might bit too conservative for his tastes. Unfortunately it wouldn’t matter. I’m pretty sure if Jesus did come back today, he’d be locked up in Guantanamo by now.
In an amazing turnabout, Marx feared religion because he recognized it as an influential opiate that could organize people against the political power structure. The modern GOP has figured how to use that same opiate to cloud and control a group of people into fierce loyalty to the political power structure. While the GOP tries to paint itself as the ideological antithesis to Marxism, I have no doubt that Marx would be proud, even envious, of what they have accomplished.