Up until last year the word Socialism was seldom heard, as though it was a forbidden word. Today, however, with major companies being taken over by the government, socialized medicine looming, and expanded Social Security programs in the works, people are beginning to wake up to a very real threat. All this in spite of the fact that socialism is a miserable failure in many countries, to say nothing of Hitler's and Stalin's adventures into socialism. Thomas Sowell has said, "Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."
Our founding fathers undoubtedly were aware of socialist ideas when they wrote the Constitution, but wisely chose individual responsibility, personal freedom and limited government. When those early settlers were turned loose with these ideas, they built the greatest nation on earth. Today, liberals and socialists are trying to turn our Constitution on its head and build a "Utopia" that never existed or ever can. History is a great teacher, but some people never seem to learn.
Socialism implies economic control of the people by government and undermines the rights of private ownership. In a socialist country, the state is all powerful and views itself, and not God, as the ultimate authority. Under such a government, personal freedom is bound to suffer. The socialist sees his philosophy as a substitute for religion and therefore antagonistic to Christianity.
The problem of creeping socialism is a valid concern for many Americans today because it seems to be a natural tendency for governments over time to grow more socialistic. Norman Thomas, co-founder of the ACLU said, "The American people will never knowingly accept Socialism. But under the name 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without knowing how it happened."
Alexis deTocqueville, French historian and political scientist (1805-1859) said, "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: While democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." Socialism's danger to the citizenry is the leveling of society, taking from the rich to give to the poor. This removes the incentive to better one's self and encourages a settling into a life of mediocrity. It's our God-given nature to want to progress - to build, to create, and to grow in knowledge and ability. All these basic human traits are suppressed when incentives to get ahead are removed. As Americans, we should instead encourage equality through better education and by fostering a business climate that creates jobs. It's true that some will grow wealthy in a capitalistic society, but often those of wealth share it voluntarily. Bill Gates is one of the world's wealthiest men, but he is giving away millions of dollars. Besides, wealthy men create new businesses, which make for more jobs. America is well known as a benevolent country.
F.A. Hayek in his book "The Road to Serfdom" writes that socialism produces a psychological change in the character of the people in that man's desire to better himself and of those around him is discouraged. According to Hayek, socialism strips man of his desire to succeed.
Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable. One is based on the atheistic philosophy found in the Humanist and Communist Manifestos; the other is based on the deity of Jesus Christ.
For the Christian, socialism has many negatives. When the government does all the benevolence, the Christian is discouraged from caring for the less fortunate because the government does that, thus discouraging personal responsibility. As a practical consideration, remember that where socialism presides over a country, religion is all but excluded; witness the empty churches and cathedrals all over Europe. Sweden relinquished its claim of Lutheranism as its state religion in 2000 and now boasts one of the lowest percentage rates of belief in God in the western world. Only 3.9 percent of the population regularly attends church, according to the Catholic News Agency in 2006 and 4 percent noted by the Acton Institute.
Some first century Christians banded together as a non-government socialist group sharing all their possessions, expecting the Lord to return soon. When he did not, they apparently disbanded. It is difficult for such a situation to last long, except for governmental coercion.
America has an enviable history of benevolence, good works, and the establishment of healing and educational institutions. We must resist every effort to turn our country into a socialist state. Our freedom is at stake.
Raymond Smith has been a resident of Victoria since 1968. He is president of Strong Families of Victoria and a conservative activist in the ongoing cultural war.