Collectivism, Socialism, and the Sovereignty of God
Collectivism is that Philosophy asserting the primacy of the group. Collectivism’s political correlate is Socialism which posits the centrality of a state functionally controlling all spheres of human life, including the social and economic facets. Collectivism’s principal errors are (1) that it forsakes God, preferring the exaltation of the “collective” and (2) that it eclipses the individual for the sake of the group. Kuyperian-Calvinism is intent on each sphere being annexed its own rights and duties, yet Collectivism removes all rights from the individual for the sake of the group. Within Kuyperianism, God is the Lord who has given to each sphere rights and duties; each sphere working together with the other for a consistent harmony resulting in blessedness. Yet within Collectivism, man is reduced to a cog within a machine who exists solely for the sake of the group. He is all duties to the state and no rights for himself.
What is Socialism?
Socialism, as stated above, is that Political system which posits the centrality of a state functionally controlling all spheres of human life. Historically, Socialism is the invention of the Philosopher/Economist Karl Marx. Marx reduced all of history to a clash over material goods. Being himself a Materialist, one who believes in the reality of the physical world alone, he saw history as divided into two groups of people: the haves and the have-nots. In his own time, he referred to the haves as the “bourgeois” and the have-nots as the “proletariat.” Within this oppressor/oppressed narrative, he posited that the Burgeoise possessed all the “means of production” – the industry required to created products for consumption. Due to their inability to control the means of production, the working class Proletariat were forced to work the industry the Burgeoise owned. The Bourgeois provided for the Proletariat enough money to live on, but exacted any extra value they added to the industry – Marx called this the extraction of their “surplus value.” He regarded this as a great Capitalistic evil. Marx hated Capitalism. Capitalism is that socio/economic system asserting the goodness of self-interest, free-trade, and viewing the other in terms of personal gain. For Marx, Capitalism is a great sin on the part of the ruling class wherein they reduce the other to a cog in a machine for the sake of their own gain.
What drives Marx’s philosophy, at least in part, is his concern for human flourishing through the inauguration of absolute social and economic equality. For him, the Capitalist system of owners oppressing workers results in decay for the human subject as individuals and society as a whole. Marx refers to this as an “alienation” of sorts. The worker is alienated, within this system, from himself. Being forced to work the majority of his waking life, the oppressed is forced away from his own desires, beholden to the interests of the owners. Further, the worker is alienated from the products of his labor. Marx believed that it is good for a man to see the fruits of his labor, as part of his humanity. Within the Capitalistic system, with its distribution of labor expressed in factories, the Proletariat is forced to work a repetitive job wherein he may not even know what it is he is producing. Further, the Capitalistic system alienates the oppressed worker from others. Being forced to work so long the human subject is unable to engage in social life. And finally, the individual is alienated from his ability to influence the destiny of mankind. Within the Capitalist system, all determinative power is given to those who own the means of production. They control everything, therefore the proletariat are powerless to exercise a level of influence on the destiny of the human race. Influence on society, for Marx, is a right of man necessary for his flourishing.
Marx’s solution to alienation is Communism. Communism refers to a state of human flourishing wherein the distinctions between Oppressor and Oppressed, haves and have-nots, Bourgeoisie and Proletariat, have been completely eradicated. Within Communism, the materials necessary for human flourishing are owned by the collective. No one rules over another. Rather they live in a harmonious unity, the grand collective. For Marx, the only way to achieve this blessed status is for the Proletariat to violently revolt against the ruling class. The Proletariat, in order to achieve a state of equality and flourishing, are to forcefully remove the means of production from the ruling classes (establishing the rule of the Proletariat). Having done this, the Proletariat then establish a centralized form of government intent on equally distributing the wealth of the nation (Socialism). Through scientific planning, control, and propaganda, the state can effectively inaugurate a better life for the individual than he could for himself. And finally, the centralized state, after having accomplished its purpose of forceful redistribution, is to dissolve having brought forth Communism. Socialism, therefore, exists for the sake of Communism. Communism is the political and social correlate to human flourishing.
The Wickedness of Socialism
The error of this system is that it is as unprincipled as it is ineffective. Socialism has never worked. And even if it did work, it would still be immoral. Of the great Ten Commandments, the sixth is to refrain from murder. The eighth is to refrain from theft. Inherent, therefore, to God’s political establishment in Israel (and his establishment in creation, having written his law on human hearts) is his insistence on the rights of the individual to person and property. The personal correlate to a law against murder is the right to life. The personal correlate to a law against theft is the right to property. Socialism eclipses the rights of the individual for the sake of the mass, but insodoing they violate God’s own ethical system; violation of the individual’s rights for the sake of the mass is repugnant to God. A system which posits the necessity of illegitimate force is a system pregnant with ethical inconsistency. Socialism is such a system and should be rejected on principle.
Deficient Doctrine of Human Flourishing
Further, for the Collectivist, flourishing consists in a community without boundaries or property, but for God individual rights and the actualization of property are inherent to his blessings for his people:
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken…”
Within this text, peace and individual property are inherent to human flourishing. For God, peace and prosperity, individual rights; for the Socialist, violence and eradication, the government alone with rights. Collectivism forsakes the rights of the individual for the sake of the group, in the end it loses both.
The Deification of the State
Finally, Collectivism replaces God with the state. The state, within Socialism, is the great distributor of blessings. The state is the great planner who brings forth economic righteousness. The state is that blessed mother who births for its people a state of blessedness. Their god promises a secular heaven free from strife and warfare. In all of this, Collectivism evidences its own hubris, attempting to build something analogous to the tower of Babel through the government of man. Naturally, our God has, metaphorically speaking, stooped down to see what the children of man were up to in their creation of such a lofty system of government. Interestingly, He hasn’t had to destroy them as in Babel. Rather, He has simply left them to their blessed government for He perceived that they would destroy themselves. For Collectivism, with its insistence on the primacy of the state and its decimation of the rights of the individual, has theoretically as well as historically, destroyed individuality, human flourishing, and the collective because of its pervasive rejection of the Sovereignty of God and Lordship of Jesus Christ.