With the inherent weaknesses of unfettered market capitalism being exposed in recent months by the global economic situation, socialists have been trumpeting the apparent downfall of this economic system. And well they might. I have already explained my views on unregulated capitalism. However, on the cover of one left-leaning publication was the proud headline ‘Capitalism is bankrupt; socialism is the only answer’. I think the first part of that headline is correct and the second part is not.
Socialism is no more the answer to humanity’s problems than capitalism. While capitalism survives no the backs of the poor, the history of socialism survives the same way. Any look at the atrocities committed in Eastern Europe since the Second World War have shown that. While socialism as an idea is fine – public ownership of the means of production, in practice it has limited freedom for its own citizens.
At the centre of socialism lies the idea of the utopian society being achieved through the work of humanity, unaided by any higher power. The classless society is a great idea, outlined in Acts, but it can never be achieved as long as humanity works on its own.
Human hearts need changing and no human economic system can ever do that. Martin Luther King, talking about communism, said that it
thrives on the grand illusion that man, unaided by any divine power, can save himself and usher in a new society.
Socialism does not take into account the fact of humanity’s tendency toward selfishness. Bono has said that the 20th century is not a good advertisement for atheism. What does atheism have to do with it? Well, socialism is based on a secular vision of the new society, a kingdom without a king. The 20th century proves once and for all that a kingdom without a king will eventually fall in on itself.
For more on Dr. King’s views of a Christian response to communism, see his Strength to Love, pp 97-106.