From Rushdoony’s lecture on “Socialism as Predestination”
“While Darwin assumed evolution, de-evolution was an equal possibility. The ideas of meaning, order, and law were dropped as theological and hence, not applicable. At one point in a private letter, Darwin cast doubt on all man’s thinking, including his own. He said, “When I try to conceive of how an ape will view the world, and how irrelevant it will be to the reality of the world, it makes me wonder at whatever the human mind conceives.”
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels welcomed Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1958, because they recognized that it made socialism inevitable. In fact, they wrote joyfully to Darwin and were ready to dedicate one of their works to him, but Darwin was afraid that it would create too much unfavorable comment and declined. If God does not exist, and if nature, instead of being a rational order, is rather meaningless, a conflicting, struggling, brute factuality, then the only possible source of necessity, order, and meaning is man, most logically through the state, having dropped God and then nature as a determining order, the only alternative is man and the state.
A professor at a distinguished graduate school in the United States, some years ago insisted, at a forum where we were both speakers, as against my position, that the universe has only a thin edge of rationality, and man’s mind and its created order, such as the state, provides that thin edge of rationality in the universe. All the rest is meaningless, brute factuality. He insisted to the people in the conference audience, students in the main, that this was the critical difference between us, and he was right. Man must having meaning and order. He must have law, and if neither God nor nature can provide it, man must, and the most logical form is then by the state, through socialism. If you will not have God, you end up with socialism.
Thus, your only alternative to socialism is Christian faith, a thoroughly biblical faith, the Reformed faith. Socialism is necessity, or predestination, total law, total planning by the state. Assuming the death of God, the state takes over the functions of God. The older Whig liberalism held to a deistic view of nature. Nature was its limiting concept. Socialism assumes a Darwinian view, and given the teaching and the belief in the mythology of evolution, socialism becomes a logical necessity.
Quite logically, therefore, as the world has moved into a belief in the mythology of evolution, it has become progressively more socialistic. The premise of socialism is thus religious. It is salvation by means of socialism, by the state, as against salvation by God. The state, as the order of law, as against God. The older belief in salvation by nature has deep roots in the Romantic Movement, and it is still with us, in the Environmental Movement, with its worship of Mother Earth (today it is the Green movement, the organic, natural, thin, pilate movement). Despite its current power, its romantic separation from the real world makes it essentially negative in its approach, capable of much destruction, but of no construction.
Socialism fills a religious need by providing necessity, meaning, and order, or law, but it cannot provide morality. At best, the morality provided by socialist states is ad hoc. Because of this lack of any vital or compelling moral law other than a vague affirmation of the people or the public interest, it has little to offer.
As a result, socialist states become power states and are marked by power struggles. Robert Conquest, Solzhenitsyn, and other writers have shown that power is used brutally, simply to manifest power and terrorize the people. George Orwell, in 1984, described the goal of socialism as a boot stamping on a human face forever. Because for socialism there is no power above or beyond the state, the state and its power become ultimate. The purpose of the state becomes the power of the state. The goal of the bureaucracy becomes the growth of the bureaucracy. As a result, under socialism, the major enemy is the people, the citizenry. A foreign power may be an occasional, or a potential enemy, but the people are the constant enemy or threat. The more socialism grows in power, the more bitterly it oppresses its peoples. The slave labor camps of Lenin and Stalin, and others were not an accident. They were inherent to the system. The slave labor camps have not been dismantled by Gorbachev. The major threat to any socialist state is always the people. (Think FEMA camps)
As a result, the people are given false securities. Medical care, housing, and so on, all faulty, but all designed to reduce a free people to a position of dependency. Talk of power to the people is a façade for slavery. The fact that the very hairs of our head are all numbered means first, that predestination is not merely concerned with our salvation, and second, that it is total. It is inclusive of all things without exception.
Cornelius Van Til observed that if man could press one button in the universe and thereby, step outside of God’s total government, he would always have that finger on the button.
Socialist planning and government aims at the same kind of total control. Up to the early 1960’s, some scholars believed that this was an impossible dream. Such a total government would require total statistics in order to govern all persons totally. Shortly after World War 2, the Western nations began to gather statistics on all their peoples, on industry and business, on employment and unemployment, and much, much more. As Murray M. Rothbard pointed out in 1961, “As new statistical techniques are developed, new divisions of government, or departments, are created to refine and use them.” Even in 1960, the estimate of U.S. federal spending alone, or on statistics, was over $43 million, and that was before our inflation, and over ten thousand full time civilian employees were used in this enterprise. Coercion was used to gather the statistics, penalties for failure to comply. These statistics, and the forms which had to be filed, imposed a very considerable cost on businesses, small and great. At that time, the estimates were that, to achieve the goal of total statistics on every area of society would require as many people as the population of the Soviet Union, or the United Kingdom, or the United States. So, it was held to be an impossibility, because each person is involved in so many operations every day, so many sales and purchases, that he accumulates in every single day a vast realm of statistics, but something happened about that time.
Since 1960, the situation has altered dramatically. The invention and development of computers has made possible data gathering on an unprecedented scale. Some dream, for example, of the abolition of all cash, and the use of credit cards to enable total data gathering on all transactions. Other schemes have been proposed for non-monetary surveillance. Such dreams, however, while realizable, have a nemesis. Now, with computers, the modern state has the power of total control, the ability with computers which can do the work of thousands of bureaucrats, to gather all statistics on every single person, automatically, through the day, but something has happened. While the invention and development of computers has made possible data-gathering on an unprecedented scale, and while some dream of the abolition of all cash and the use, instead, of state-issued credit cards to enable total data gathering on all transactions, so that every time you make a purchase, it is immediately recorded in a master computer. All such dreams are now vulnerable to the hands of hackers, and hackers have demonstrated their ability to penetrate computer systems. I am told that only the tip of the surface of such penetration is known by the public at large. Some have planted viruses in computers to destroy data banks. This is a problem far greater than usually imagined. The Soviet Union, while desperately in need of computers, has, up to 1990, tended largely to avoid their use in fearfulness of penetration. (Think of the NSA and Snowden)
Thus, even as computers provided an instrument for total control, they also introduced a radical vulnerability to subversion. The result is a serious problem for the socialist state. Liberal democracy arose in the 19th century as a religious alternative in the Western world, to Christianity. Harold J. Berman, in a master work which you all should read; “Law and Revolution, The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition”, called liberal democracy, “The first great secular religion in Western history,” and incidentally, Berman feels that either by the end of this decade, the Western world will return to Christian faith and a biblical concept of law, or it is finished. (“New Calvinism”, “Reformation 2.0”?)
The rival of liberal democracy has been revolutionary socialism. But, without a Christian faith to undergird it, democracy has increasingly developed its own version of this socialism in the name of human and environmental welfare. This should not surprise us. Statism is the manmade substitute for God. While writing from an emphatically non-Christian perspective, the political economist Pierre Dockes has shown the rise of statist power in history has meant the resurgence of slavery under some name or form. He points out in his study of Medieval Slavery and Liberation, “The word service, slave, in Roman law, originally referred to a person whose life had been spared by grace.” The slave was legally dead, because he had been cut off from the cult of family worship and was a stranger. The power of God is inherent to his being. God is, by nature, omnipotent, omniscient, all-wise, and totally self-sufficient in all his being. There is nothing before, now beside, nor other than God except that which he creates by his fiat will.
Therefore, the Almighty can demand of man, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
God’s omnipotence robs no man. He is man’s creator and man’s only valid source of meaning, grace, and power. The state, and in particular, the socialist state, can only empower itself at the expense of man, the church, family, man’s economic endeavors, and man’s various institutions. Only by playing the thief, the great thief, in society, can the socialist state gain power, and it is not productive.
Socialism has deep roots, however, in the fallen nature of man. Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, pointed out that slave labor is the most expensive form of labor. After all, if you own a slave, you are paying for his non-working time, for his children, and for him in his old age. “A person who can acquire no property can have no other interest but to eat as much and to labor as little as possible.” Such is the slave. (Think of welfare culture, entitlement mentality, women’s rights from employers, Affirmative Action, etc)
Twentieth century socialism has clearly underscored the truth of Smith’s observation. The slave consumes as much as he can, which is not much usually that is provided, and works as little as possible. Smith said further, “The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend, to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of free men.” These passages from Adam Smith you do not normally hear quoted or referred to.
The continuing popularity of Plato’s Republic is clear evidence that would-be philosopher kings love the notion of enslaving the masses to the will of the elite. As against this, our Lord declares, “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
This is a religious mandate and goal, but so, too, is the socialist’s dream. It represents the purpose set forth in Genesis 3:5, man’s original sin, “to be as God,” man determining for himself what is good and evil, and what is law. Man’s goal, according to Sartre, is to be God, which meant for him that his neighbor, having a similar goal, is therefore, a devil, which creates a society of perpetual conflict, of continual civil war. The socialist goal is thus, self-destructive. With every man playing God, power is gained at the expense and enslavement of others. Socialism gives particularly vivid meaning to our Lord’s statement, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, then ye shall be free indeed.”