The first graphic I chose pictures socialism as a bestial murderer. A better image would be that of a demented and malicious suicide, but this image will have to do. At least a certain negative image comes through, which is the basic thing I wanted. I have also taken the liberty of treating you to a bunch of other memes about socialism because socialism is the kind of economic theory than can be defended in learned tomes by some of the most intelligent people on the planet, but can also be refuted by ordinary people using ten or twelve words and a picture.
Chesterton once observed in Orthodoxy that a suicide is actually an attempt to murder the world. Put another way, suicide is attempted genocide. It is a profound rejection of everyone and everything. He was discussing the earlier medieval attitude toward the one who committed suicide, in which the community returned that profound rejection by rejecting the one who did this (by refusing to bury them in consecrated ground). And while it is worth noting that the older attitude might be a bit hardline for our tastes, not taking the reality of black depressions into account (for example), their instincts still preserved something important, and were in some respects closer to the truth than our instincts are.
In short, suicide can be a blow aimed at the entire world, a rejection of everyone else. At bottom, it is fundamentally selfish, as can be seen in some of the clichés regarding it. If someone is going to “end it all,” the question arises. End it all for whose benefit? The person who finds the body? The mourning family? The suicide is really not thinking of others. Another cliché is “goodbye, cruel world.” But the cruelty is being perpetrated by the person taking their own life, while the guilt of that cruelty is projected onto others.
Again, this is not a one-size-fits all analysis, and there are times when the world a suicide says goodbye to really is that cruel world, and someone helpless and vulnerable is badgered into taking their own life. One thinks of some of the tragic suicides coming out of severe bullying, for example. Every moral action has a context, and if our medieval fathers were too prone to see all the fault in the one who committed suicide, we are far too prone to see all the fault in the world, in the system, in the lack of programs, in the world. We sympathize with their rejection of the world . . . because we have imbibed far too many socialist assumptions. More on this below.
We can see the element of truth in this analysis by considering how often in recent years an episode of suicide is preceded by a mass killing. The suicide can’t actually kill the whole world, but he decides to kill a portion of it before he finishes the job by killing himself. So let us content ourselves with saying that in more than a few suicides, there is a strong element of malice and envy involved.
Speaking of Malice and Envy:
I am writing here, not as an economist, but as a pastor, a student of people, and a student of theology. Socialism is a grievous sin. It is bad juju.
The engine that drives people to attempt socialism, again and again, is envy. There are many fine-sounding words that can be used to varnish this sin, attempting to make it seem like something else—words like equity, justice, and fairness—but at the end of the day it is just applying high-gloss varnish to a turd. Sure, you can really make it shine, especially if North American academics are involved, but it is what it is, it remains what it remains, and the core remains unaffected by how many coats you apply.
I have often seen pampered and spoiled young people, better off than 99.9% of all human beings who have ever lived, just oozing their ingratitude, snarking online about what they think capitalism is. Before tackling the theology and/or economics of their arguments (which I have done plenty of times before, e.g. here), it should be noted that their ingratitude, their hatreds, their insecurities, their envying, and their conceits, are fully visible to the world they are hating. So some organizer really should seize the opportunity, get enough of them together to hire a bunch of indie bands, and have themselves a Fusstival.
Suicidal Claims are Total:
When cultures first began experimenting with socialism, they started with the economics of it—because money, markets, and goods were for the most part within reach. But the logic of envy naturally applies to everything, everything that lives, everything that breathes, everything that might be fruitful.
Work, sex, agriculture, industry, marriage, children, thrift, small business, education, profits—war was declared on all of it.
This is because socialism is nothing but envious folly, and envious folly has no brakes. Envy is the opposite of wisdom, and in the book of Proverbs we are taught that all who hate wisdom really do have a death wish.
“But he that sinneth against me [Wisdom] wrongeth his own soul: All they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36).
It would be hard to deny that we live in a culture of death. It is not a culture of death because of the capitalism. The free movement of capital is one of the things that our culture of death is trying to kill. We are in fact a culture of death—60 million unborn children (Roe), the institution of the family (Obergefell), the rise of the administrative state and murder of liberty (the administration of Woodrow Wilson), and on and on.
The Venezuelan Success Story:
One last point, a very brief one. Lovers of liberty are fond of pointing out what a mess places like Venezuela become after the shiny ones take charge. This taunt is thrown at the rhetoric of the socialists, and it is fully appropriate to do so. The disparity between what they said would happen and what is happening is stark. I have offered this kind of jibe myself from time to time.
But it would be a grave mistaken to throw the taunt at their real goals. Their real goal is to destroy, and that is what they have succeeded in doing. For well over a century, whenever wealth starts to accumulate, envy is born, and the socialists have new recruits—those who would rather a whole country go down in a smoking ruin than that their malicious envy go unfed.
Hold Venezuela up to the real goal. It is an astounding success story. It is as though an NFL coach went mad, and decided he would wreck as many teams in the NFL as he could. Having driven three teams straight into the cellar, the marvel is not why someone would adopt a goal like that. The marvel is that he keeps getting hired.
And my thesis is simple. He would not keep getting hired unless his destructive and insane goal was surreptitiously shared by some of the boys in the front office.