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Thinking Out Loud: Are We Witnessing The Decadence in U.S. Society That Makes Disintegration Inevitable?

December 11, 2015 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Forty-Four

Greed: The Root of All Evil?
Marxism, Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism

Section H

Let me return for a moment to what I think is vital for understanding and appreciating Karl Marx: the dualism of the nature men and the playing out of this man’s subjective being. This might be the earlier focus and of Marx’s thinking as evidenced in his writings about things, commodities, products, and social relation class.

I believe there are three areas in which Marx’s language, concepts, and idealism are the children of religion. He seems to come very close to concurring with the doctrine of original sin. Firstly, and as previously mentioned, he felt that something fundamental had to change within man. A regeneration, in which man ceased his slavery to things, the self-alienation in all forms, and lives in harmony with himself, his society, and nature, was necessary.

Secondly, he talked of the inevitable conclusion of history in which a new age would come forth, the Golden Age. This reminds me of the eschatological promises of Scripture. “And, I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2).

Thirdly, he raised a question. He asked, “How is it that man alienates himself from his labor yet worship his alienated production?” This question is one of the naturalists’ arguments for the existence of God, and the need of man to worship. ‘Man is incredibly religious, it has been said,’ wrote the poet. Significantly, the questions that consumed Marx were the very same ones that have consumed religious people for many years – the apparent endemic wickedness of man which finds expression in his societies. Yet, man strives to be good with the faith or hope that things will get better one day. Yet, everyday, things seem to get worse.

Both Marx and some religionists express the same belief that when things have reached their worse, a cataclysmic upheaval will occur, i.e. Proletarian Revolution for the Marxists and Armageddon for the religionists. Then, out of the disintegration, a new age will emerge. Therefore, man should work for change and justice, drawing values, hopes, and directions from the ideal state of things yet to be realized. Perhaps, now it becomes comprehensible how one can beat a Christian- Marxist. Indeed, a Christian would be more at home with Marxism as it relates to labor, ownership of production, and human values than with predatory capitalist ideas.

In preparing for this article, I came across an old book that reinforced my belief in the universal Law of Attraction, or magnetism. The Law of Attraction declares that you will attract whatever your dominant desire or whatever you fix your mind upon; or, you will be pulled to the object of your dominant desire or whatever you fix your mind upon. In other words, one way or another, you will meet whatever dominates your mind.

So, with this article on my mind, I was browsing through my library in Augusta, GA and came across a book entitled, “The Church and the Revolution.” It was written in 1967 by Dr. Peter J. Riga, a Roman Catholic priest, who, at the time, was a professor of Church History at St. Mary’s College. Before I record his writings, I feel compelled to explain the length of the quote. I know that the subject is delicate, and fraught with the potential for hysteria. We saw this during the recent presidential election, when the word, “socialism,” was injected into the campaign. People, who wouldn’t know socialism from sadism, went into a frenzy. Of course, the leaders who represent unbridled, unregulated, and laissez-faire capitalism, fed the frenzy with distortions and misrepresentations.

Perhaps, a scholarly church man – a representative of religious thinkers of historically and contemporaneously views, may, at the least, compel people to pause and ponder. Moreover, it is instructive that the quote make a brief reference to the scandalous history of predatory capitalism.

In a chapter entitled, “Private Property, Capitalism and John XXIII, “Dr. Riga wrote, “Thus, it is money and gain which dominate, to a very large degree, the Western Capitalist system, which has broken and dehumanized generation after generation (in this respect, one has only to read a cursory history of the 19th-century Labor Movement and its condition). This appetite for gain – the Biblical cupiditas – was always in men as individuals, for there’s no reason to suspect that it is greater today in men than it was in times past. But, what modern capitalism has done is to systemize this vice in the framework of its very economic system qua system, and it has become its very reason for being and the law of its institutions, where individuals – inclusive of the individual capitalist themselves – are caught up with remission in this anonymous and dehumanizing violence.

“The evil is now institutional where its law is profit, and profit alone, and where only institutional and structural reform can make up neo-capitalism a truly humanized and humanizing system. The system carries within itself a type of vicious circle from which, as it now stands, it cannot escape on its own. Capital produces profit, and profit, in its own turn, produces more capital.

“Christians – from the earliest times – have always condemned this mode of operation among men, even in the often ridiculed aspect of the Middle Ages where usury was considered an evil. t These men of the medieval school were correct, and the modern theologians were quite wrong, since the former saw very clearly what may religious defenders of Western Capitalism have not seen – namely, that any system of economics which dehumanizes man and his labor, where work (taken here in its broadest meaning) and profit are separated, where man’s work as a expression and incarnational extension of himself is treated as a commodity used toward a further end – a profit – such a system, these ancients clearly saw, was basically inhuman and un-Christian. Money for money’s sake, or profit for profit’s sake, is an aberration from Christianity. Money is for man, not man for money, and it is precisely this vice which infects modern capitalism to its very core, no matter how many laws are passed to curb its abuses. These latter only palliatives covering its terminal human cancer.”

… to be continued.

(Originally published in the Daily Challenge on Friday, December 11, 2015.)