By giving or withholding material things that can be purchased with money, the political state can control its citizens when they have been reduced to dependency upon the state for medical care, food, clothing, housing, jobs, and education. Thomas E. Brewton
Socialism, the motivating ideology of Franklin Rooseveltâ€™s New Deal, is the opposite of the political state envisioned in the Bill of Rights. Socialism requires that your individual liberties be subordinated to the needs of the political state.
Whatever its proclaimed intentions for the betterment of society, socialism must diminish your range of individual political and economic freedoms, transferring them to state bureaucrats who promulgate regulations.
One socialist aim, for example, is to reduce or eliminate unemployment, a major concern near the end of World War II. At that time, the British socialist Labour Party was planning its takeover of government, and Friedrich Hayek wrote â€œThe Road to Serfdomâ€ to describe what lay ahead for the British people. Sir William Beveridge, a Labour Party leader, candidly stated the basic fact of the socialized welfare state:
â€¦the State, in [attempting to guarantee full employment] is not wholly master of events so long as it desires to preserve the freedom of individualsâ€¦â€¦the State cannot undertake the responsibility for full employment without full powers.
In other words, central planning necessary for reducing unemployment, imposing socialized medicine and â€œgreenâ€ environmental regulations, along with compelling businesses to permit labor union takeovers of their workforces, cannot become effective without subordinating the rights of individuals to the goals of state planners. The result is a degree of servility on the road to serfdom.
Today we are moving at a faster pace in that direction (for some specifics, see A Jackboot at Home, an Olive Branch Abroad).
At the root level is a conflict between the Judeo-Christian ethos of western civilization and the paradigm of â€œscientificâ€ socialism that unfolded in the 19th century.
Western civilization was founded upon Judeo-Christian morality that had become dominant by the time of the collapse of the western Roman Empire. The common bond among European kingdoms and fiefdoms was the embodiment of that morality in the Christian religion. From the fifth century until late in the 19th century it was accurate to refer to western Europe as Christendom.
In contrast to the socialist collectivism of the welfare state, which has increasingly attracted the allegiance of Americans since Franklin Rooseveltâ€™s New Deal in the 1930s, the Judeo-Christian ethic focuses upon individual moral responsibility in our daily dealing with our families, with our neighbors, with fellow members of our churches and synagogues, and with our local communities. The core of Hebraic and Christian teaching, found in the Old and New testaments of the Bible, is love of God, which emanates in personal moral responsibility for fair dealing and helping those in need. Under the Judeo-Christian ethic every individual has a direct relationship with God, a relationship that implies person accountability for acting or failing to act. Humans must exercise their God-given free will, they must make choices between spiritual life and the spiritual death inherent in philosophical materialism. Humanityâ€™s survival requires that spiritual needs, love of God, take primacy over material things.
Social ills, in the materialistic religion of socialism, result from the structure of society. Those ills, according to liberal-progressive-socialist doctrine, can be remedied by the political stateâ€™s taking from those who have more, and giving it to favored classes. In this paradigm, the political state is humanityâ€™s ultimate savior.
One implication of this paradigm is the elimination of personal responsibility and free will to make real choices. Instead, politically favored classes of citizens are entitled to share in societyâ€™s production of goods and services, solely on the basis of need, which, of course, is to be defined by bureaucratic planners.
This means that the socialist political state deals with collective abstractions, such as â€œthe poorâ€ or â€œthe oppressed.â€ When individual human suffering is reduced to such grand abstractions, it becomes easy for liberal-progressive-socialists to pat themselves on the back for their humanity when they do no more than denounce businessmen and conservative politicians in social gatherings and street demonstrations. Socialism is a religion that makes few demands on its adherents for personal sacrifice or involvement beyond reading the New York Times editorial pages.
Among the benefits doled out by the political state there is no place for spiritual needs. Socialism is a materialistic religion that sees humans as merely receptors of physical pleasure and pain. By giving or withholding material things that can be purchased with money, the political state can control its citizens when they have been reduced to dependency upon the state for medical care, food, clothing, housing, jobs, and education.
That was the insight of Otto von Bismarck, the German Chancellor who created the German Empire in the 1860s under Prussian domination. Bismarck was a member of the Prussian landed aristocracy and no friend of the Reichstagâ€™s majority socialist party. Nonetheless, he instituted the worldâ€™s first welfare-state benefits programs, because, he said, people who became dependent upon the political state could be herded like cattle.
In sharp contrast, under the Judeo-Christian ethic of western civilization, as our Declaration of Independence puts it, even the ruler is subject to the laws of Natureâ€™s God. God is the higher power to Whom all of us, rulers and ruled, must answer.
But under liberal-progressive-socialism, we are to worship the goddess Reason. Having no higher power than the minds of intellectuals to answer to, state planners have potentially unlimited power to tyrannize citizens, as we saw in Hitlerâ€™s National Socialism and in the Soviet Union. That is why Friedrich Hayekâ€™s celebrated description of life under socialism is called â€œThe Road to Serfdom.â€
Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, opposing Marxian collectivism in 1872, described what life was to be under socialism:
â€œThe government will not content itself with administering and governing the masses politically, as all governments do today. It will administer the masses economically, concentrating in the hands of the State the production and division of wealth, the cultivation of landâ€¦All that will demand the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and elitist of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchyâ€¦the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge, and an immense ignorant majority. And then, woe unto the mass of ignorant ones!â€