by Bill Nugent
Socialism is making a comeback. It’s not just young people excited about Bernie Sanders, the recent socialist candidate for president. The desire for socialism runs far deeper than mere political and economic gratification. Socialism has very deep philosophical and religious roots.
It’s worth taking a look at the roots of socialism through the eyes of its two major prophets; George W. F. Hegel and Karl Marx. Hegel was the prophet of totalitarian government. Marx was the prophet of socialism and communism.
Bernie Sanders recently praised the healthcare reforms enacted by Castro in Cuba. Sanders was quick to denounce the totalitarian dictatorship there. However, many observers have said that we can’t have “good” socialistic policies without totalitarian government to enforce those policies. Totalitarian government is necessary to enforce the high taxes, the huge inefficient bureaucracies and the outlawing of competition from private service providers.
Totalitarianism and socialism go hand in hand. Some politicians claim that we can have “democratic socialism” as a successful form of socialism. The socialist democracies of northern Europe are far from pure socialism. Even Sweden is a capitalist economy with a large social welfare government sector. Sweden enacted capitalist reforms years ago when its leaders saw its business sector start to crumble.. Britain’s reforms under Thatcher also scaled back the socialism in the UK.
Let’s start with a study of Hegel.
George W. F. Hegel (1770 – 1831) was a towering figure in philosophy, whose writings shaped the thoughts of Karl Marx in a profound way. Hegel laid the philosophical groundwork for the rise of totalitarianism as a form of government. Hegel, more than any other thinker, set the stage for fascism, socialism and communism.
Born in Stuttgart Germany to a well-to-do family, Hegel went off to protestant seminary at the age of eighteen. It’s ironic that Hegel attended seminary because later in life he would repudiate biblical Christian doctrine and famously say “Government is God upon the earth.” Hegel was in seminary during the time of the French Revolution which he applauded. His enthusiasm for it waned a few years later in 1793 during the Reign of Terror led by Maximillian Robespierre and others.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote: “all the great philosophical ideas of the past century—the philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche, phenomenology, German existentialism, and psychoanalysis—had their beginnings in Hegel.” (Everipedia; Sense and Nonsense, Northwestern University Press, 1964, p. 63) Hegel revolutionized the thinking of intellectuals in Germany during the first half of the nineteenth century. Hegel’s writings went on to revolutionize the thinking of people throughout all western civilization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries yet Hegel is unknown to most people today other than scholars and students.
Hegel is most famously known for his statement that “Government is God upon the earth.” Hegel made that statement and similar statements of government power in many of his writings. However that statement is not a crass deification of government. Hegel made such statements within an explanatory context with qualifiers. Hegel’s reasoning was that God expresses Himself on the earth through men and the greatest concentration of man’s power is that group of men organized into a civil government. The unfortunate takeaway from this is the claim that an all powerful dictatorial government is the will of God and is good and can do good for people. Hegel and Marx regarded humans as being born basically good and therefore a government composed of “good” men could be entrusted with all power.
Hegel’s nuanced claim that “Government is God” would later be boiled down to “man is God.” In secular (practical atheist) society, people implicitly worship men as God. If they deny God, then someone or something has to take God’s place in their thinking. A government composed of powerful men becomes the god of the culture. All governments are theocratic. We laugh at Iran for its Muslim theocracy but the secular west has exalted people as god. The secular west has instituted a theocracy of politically correct god-men. This is the end product of secular humanism.
The major flaw that caused Hegel to trust government with too much power is his implicit rejection of the biblical doctrine of original sin. Original sin is the Bible’s teaching that all people are born with a sin nature because humanity’s common ancestor, Adam, fell into sin and brought a curse on himself and on his descendants. Those who are descended from Adam inherit the sin nature of Adam (Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 5:12-21).
All people, even kings and dictators, are sinners by birth and by choice.“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). The Bible gives a true doctrine of the nature of people. Biblical teaching about the sin nature explains why dictatorship doesn’t work because “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The founding fathers of the United States, being heavily influenced by biblical teaching, formed a limited government; divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches to disperse power. Knowing that all people are sinners, the founding fathers didn’t allow any one person, even the president, to hold too much power.
Hegel certainly believed in God but not in the biblical God. Hegel took the modernist approach that relies on human reason unaided by the truths revealed in the Bible. Hegel trusted in man because he rejected the biblical revelation of the sinful nature of man.
Secularists and even many nominal believers in God think that the concepts of human rights and freedom come naturally to the human mind. They do not. The concepts of human rights and freedom come from the Bible (Gen. 1:27, James 3:9, Rom. 14:5, etc.). The Ten Commandments give several human rights. Property rights are given in the eighth commandment:“Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). That’s why freedom and limited government arose in Europe and America after the Protestant Reformation when the Bible was first made available to millions of people all across western civilization. People must repent from sin and obey Christ as Lord. People who submit to God are free to govern themselves freely within the limits of the Ten Commandments and other biblical revelation.
Hegel was influenced by the writings of Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who wrote “Man is born free but is everywhere in chains.” On the contrary, the Bible teaches that every man is born in chains to sin but forgiveness and freedom are obtained through faith in Christ.
Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883) read extensively in the works of Hegel during his college years. He obtained his doctorate in 1841.. Marx got his dialectical view of history from Hegel but got his atheism from the writings of Ludwig Feuerbach.
Marx embraced Hegel’s “dialectics.” Hegel is famous for his “dialectical materialism” as his way of explaining the unfolding of progress in human history. It involved thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis. For example, let’s look at how dialectics can be applied to how humanity moved from a slave based economy to feudalism and later to capitalism. Hegel’s dialectics is threefold. First is the thesis, for example, slavery. Next is the opposition to the thesis, called the anti-thesis: feudalism. Thirdly is the outworking of the conflict between slavery and feudalism: the synthesis: capitalism. Hegel saw history as a series of conflicts between theses and anti-theses resulting in new syntheses resulting in progress for mankind.
Marx was fascinated by Hegel’s method of understanding the conflict and resolution of ideas over the centuries. Marx modified Hegel’s dialectics by placing capitalism as the thesis and communism as the antithesis but offered no synthesis of the two. Marx saw communism eradicating capitalism and that would be the end point of human progress in history. Marx saw communism as an idealistic end point of history. Marx believed it was his duty to gather followers and force communism on the world.
Marx and the communist revolutionaries and their followers were atheists, agnostics or plain secular people. Their denial of God caused them to look to government as God. To them Hegel’s “Government is God upon the earth” should be taken literally. A totalitarian socialist government was seen as a stepping stone to ultimately end in pure utopian communism. The all-powerful totalitarian government comes to power, nationalizes all industry, eliminates private property and confiscates all corporate profits. This socialistic government will supposedly, over time, wither away as each person, out of the kindness of his heart (no sin nature) willingly gives according to his ability and takes only according to his need. The blissful state of pure communism emerges with everyone “sharing around the world” as John Lennon would famously sing.
Needless to say, no nation including the Soviet Union, even though it called itself communist, was able to dismantle the totalitarian socialist state and arrive at pure communism. Cuba, China, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe pursued communism with religious zeal and they suppressed all competing religions. Total government became their messiah who would provide all goods and services. All of the communist countries promoted atheism and brutally suppressed religion, especially Christianity. The communist regimes taught Darwinian evolution as their origins myth.
Darwinian evolution is currently taught in the science classrooms in the government run schools of almost every nation on earth. Evolution is the taproot of atheism, agnosticism, secularism, philosophical materialism and secular humanism. Socialism is a symptom of atheism. Many people who were converted to atheism, by being taught evolution, also became political converts to totalitarian socialism.
Evolution claims that simple living organisms were formed by chance collisions of atoms in the prebiotic earth and then gradually changed over time and became more complex as mutations in the DNA caused new features and new organs to appear in living things. Many Ph D. scientists have denied the plausibility of the claims of Darwinism. They point to the utter complexity of even the simplest one celled organisms such as mycoplasmas and bacteria. To say that such organisms formed by random swirling of water and carbon and nitrogen and other atoms and by chance forming the strands of DNA, all properly sequenced, and then the proteins that comprise cellular structures and then assembled the first cells is absurd from a mathematical probability standpoint. Many scientists also see that genetic mutations are destructive errors that can’t possibly be a mechanism for uphill evolutionary change.
Many scientists have joined the Intelligent Design Movement which is an association of scientists who publicly dissent from Darwinism. Over a thousand such scientists have added their names to a statement rejecting Darwinian evolution on the website: dissentfromdarwin.org.
Darwinism is refuted by sound science. Those who believe in evolution do so by faith. Communism and its Darwinian evolutionist origins myth is a faith. Their faith is philosophical materialism. It is a new postmodern religion.
Those who reject God tend to worship government and put chains on freedom. Those who worship God tend to distrust human government, embrace freedom and put chains on government power.
Many people are taking a fresh look at Christianity. Well educated people see the complexity of living things and believe there must be a creator of life. Philosophers are taking note of the collapse of communism and socialism and see that the sinfulness of people is self-evident and must be remedied through Christ.
God sent His Son Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah and redeemer of mankind. Christ came in fulfillment of over three hundred prophecies that were written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. No other person in history can make this claim. Christ alone fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. Additionally, Christ worked miracles of healing in front of eyewitnesses. Christ’s followers today still receive miracles of healing and other miracles in answer to prayer. The fulfilled prophecies and the miracles serve to prove the Bible’s claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our redeemer.
The prophets foretold that Christ would suffer and die, taking upon Himself the penalty we deserved for our sins, thus making atonement for us before God the Father. The following words, which were fulfilled by Jesus Christ, were written by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah over eight hundred years before the birth of Christ:
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening of our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him” Isaiah 53:5-6 NASB.
Having earned eternal redemption for us through His suffering and death, Christ rose from the dead to offer forgiveness of sins to all who call upon His name. I invite you to call upon the name of Jesus Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins.
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!