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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Where did Socialism Come from?

We, homines sapientes, have, according to Wikipedia, been here on this Earth for perhaps as long as 200,000 years. We originated in Africa and reached "full behavioural modernity" about 50,000 years ago. How we got here is mystery. Are we the descendents of earlier hominids? – Perhaps. Who were they? Where did they come from? We don't have the remotest idea.

How did the earliest life forms come to be? Darwin speculated. Miller and Urey produced some amino acids from inorganic substances. Subsequently, scientists have cast doubt on their assumption that they had the initial conditions right. Anyway, amino acids are not proteins – only the building blocks. In real life, to make proteins out of amino acids, you need DNA, a fabulously complex molecule. Only life forms have DNA. My readers will forgive me for stating the obvious – we are talking circularity!

Dean Kenyon wrote a book, Biological Predestination. It was the standard "origin-of-life" text book. He has subsequently repudiated the ideas therein. If a well-known and respected Catholic apologist were to embrace Marxism, I, for one, would have to give him the time of day – Respect (perhaps).

In all that time (ie for at least 50,000 years) the overwhelming majority have practised some kind of religion. C S Lewis says that religions can be classified (like soups) into clear and thick. Buddhism is clear; Hinduism is thick. I shall have to read that essay again.

In the twenty-first century the overwhelming majority practise some kind of religion. Most of the major religions have a long history. Sikhism is the youngest. Islam is the next youngest. Occasionally, new religions pop up. We have seen, in the twentieth century, Scientology and the Unification Church (aka "Moonies"). The adherents of nearly all these religions give credit to nearly all the others.

In the nineteenth century we saw the origin of anti-religious religion: Materialism.

I am not the first to observe that, like traditional faiths, Materialism is a metaphysical system. Fundamentalist Materialism's Creed can be summed up as: "The physical universe is all there is and Science is the only way to know anything about it." Some materialists have (heroically) attempted to create a moral system; but the physical universe does not provide the ingredients. The project is doomed from the start. All the same, this doesn't stop them from being extremely censorious of other faiths.

We Westerners then, live in an extraordinarily unusual society, metaphysically speaking. As well as living (for the time being) in extraordinarily prosperous circumstances, we share our society with people who reject the basis of all Morality and Reason – also with a majority who have never given these ideas a second's thought. This majority is infected with pre-materialistic ideas and assumptions (Thanks be to God!) but also (regrettably) with Materialism.

Any intelligent, observant child asks himself/herself: "Wouldn't it be nice if...?" Any thinking adult answers, "Yes, but..."

Aquinas said that the Natural Law can never be erased from the human heart. I hope and believe that he is right. But that innate longing for Justice does funny things when divorced from religion. Theistic belief underpins not only Morality but Reason too. So, if you are an atheist who longs for a just society, to see Heaven on Earth, you will create a system whereby Fairness is legislated. Legislation implies coercion. Voila, Socialism! Gabriel will hate this – Sorry, Son.

Now, atheistic Materialism is not the same thing as Socialism. There are Christians (misguided, I think) who are Socialists and there is Geoff, who does not believe in God but is not a Socialist; and there is Maureen, who is a Catholic and believes that trades unions are a good thing. However, there is a very substantial overlap. Aha! I have fallen into the correlation/causality trap! I don't think so. But, it seems to me that when people cease to believe in God, while retaining a desire for Justice and Fairness, something like Socialism is pretty well inevitable.

The scientific Austrian critique of Socialism seems to me to be watertight. It cannot work. Libertarians (and most Austrians are Libertarians) declare that Socialism violates the principle that coercion (except in self-defence) is morally indefensible.

What we see in the real world is that those countries which have rejected or are are in the process of rejecting Socialism (eg Taiwan, South Korea, China and India) are getting richer, whereas where Socialism increases economies decline. I am appalled by the example of the USA. As Obama-Socialism marches on, unemployment and unsustainable debt increase. The Socialist EU is another catastrophe in the making. Frantic measures to shore up the edifice are dragging it down.

I would love to be proved wrong. But my reading of History goes like this:

Just at the moment when the Christian West had come up with the only system that has ever improved the physical well-being of the masses, so other currents of thought were undermining Christianity – and leading (if my analysis is correct) to Socialism.

Socialism (National and International) was tried and seen to fail on a scale so vast that it takes your breath away.

In a few places Socialism was flushed away – those places flourish. In the once-Christian West we seem to be somnambulistically approaching the abyss. Perhaps we will wake up in time.

You might say that we are suffering Divine Retribution for our lack of Faith. I would disagree. We are suffering from wilful blindness.

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