• Wallows
    9.6k
    Part of this post is a response to @Mark Dennis, in his thread about Etiquette and diplomatic reasoning; A space where we can discuss how we engage with one another.

    A question that arose in that thread, that concerns me is why aren't the majority of Abrahamic religions more left-leaning rather than being conservative in nature?

    Now, I have no idea how to approach this question, rather than state the deviation from the norm that is the US. We had people like Max Weber, who grounded or reified the values of Christianity into Protestant work ethics and its more serious derivative being Calvinism, into being compatible with capitalism and with that enlightened self-interest.

    Yet, having been influenced by the more mainstream version of Catholicism, which has been de facto eliminated from public discourse in the US, for whatever reason, I feel that socialism or in a more extreme version, even communism are the actual philosophies of Christianity, given a hard reading of the Bible.

    Does anyone agree with this sentiment?
    Why or why not?
  • simeonz
    92
    I read somewhere that the popularization of Christianity was helped by the public disaffection for the elitist ethics in the Greco-Roman polytheistic religions. The latter celebrated exceptional merit, exceptional heroism, exceptional strength, exceptional ancestry, which would not be perceived as relatable to the weakened and fearful enslaved and plebeian masses. Furthermore, the mythos of the ancient world was hard, punitive, and unforgiving. Christianity may have been partly embraced as a source of self-confidence for the people, affording space for their personal weaknesses and unequal social standing.

    I also find it hard to accept the conservative argument, that revolutionary change should be avoided when possible, because of its destabilizing consequences, when the very religion around which they center their own narrative was among the most revolutionary cultural changes of its time and its region. This changed during the Middle ages when the aristocracy made religion their own prerogative again. (Probably this is also the period when Christianity became politically conservative.)

    I am neither particularly left-leaning politically (in spirit maybe, but not as a political system), neither conventionally religious, but I am interested by this argument.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    This changed during the Middle ages when the aristocracy made religion their own prerogative again. (Probably this is also the period when Christianity became politically conservative.)simeonz

    I see you're going further back than I had anticipated. Please elaborate on this fact of the aristocracy adopting Christianity and thus making it politically conservative?
  • simeonz
    92
    I see you're going further back than I had anticipated. Please elaborate on this fact of the aristocracy adopting Christianity and thus making it politically conservative?Wallows
    One could begin with the acceptance of the divine entitlement to privilege, indirectly stemming from the king's own divine right. This notion was used as justification for suppressions of civil insurrections. In the same article you can find the following account:
    One passage in scripture supporting the idea of divine right of kings was used by Martin Luther, when urging the secular authorities to crush the Peasant Rebellion of 1525 in Germany in his Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants, basing his argument on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 13:1–7 — Wikipedia
    There was a merger between the political/legal and religious systems, where the latter suppressed reform from within (in spirit) and the former suppressed it from without (by force.)
  • Wallows
    9.6k


    Oh yeah, Robin Hood as Martin Luther, for sure.

    But, I believe this is all history to a large degree.

    Maybe to guide the conversation, I would propose the edifying question as to why Marx was bashing on Christianity or any organized religion to such a degree to declare it the opiate of the masses? The divorce between socialism and Christianity seems to have been declared at this point in history.
  • simeonz
    92
    Maybe to guide the conversation, I would propose the edifying question as to why Marx was bashing on Christianity or any organized religion to such a degree to declare it the opiate of the masses? The divorce between socialism and Christianity seems to have been declared at this point in history.Wallows
    As is usual, I am reaching the limits of my narrow philosophical competence. But I propose that the conversation does not equate Marx to modern socialism. In fact, it should be modern communism, because western socialism appears to me to have divorced itself from the more radical Marxist ideas. I don't think that all modern conservatives are atheists theists as well. I am unsure where the divide currently stands - taxation politics, state interference in the market, individualistic vs collectivist ethics.

    Regarding Marx - from what I know - his attitude was humanist, which I understand to mean that the accountability of a person is first and foremost to his society. That the people create the ethical standards that guide the individual, not religion. And he probably did not believe in the ontology of the religious teachings as well - miracles, deity, etc. Where humanism and western Christianity differ in their outcome will depend on interpretations. I can certainly see compatibility between them, if the person has the right attitude.
  • Wallows
    9.6k


    Yes, views vary on the relationship between socialism and Christianity to such a large degree that one may as well feel lost in regards to it. I'm afraid Wikipedia won't be of much use even on the matter.

    But, there is this interesting entry on Christian socialism:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_socialism

    Here's what I surmise. In countries where interpretations of the Bible are guided by an authority (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy), we have seen the emergence of socialist tendencies and doctrines thereof. Think, Latin America or even Eastern Europe, with the USSR being a quizzical example.

    In democracies where secularism was enshrined, the correlation between socialism and Christianity has become moot.

    That's about as far as I can take the analogy...
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness
    - 2 Timothy 3:16

    I feel this line to be extremely relevant to this discussion. Hard interpretation of this on the subject of Stagnation I feel strengthens @Wallows points here.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    And, for the matter, the current Pope, Francis, is a hardline socialist, if anyone follows this line of thought from within Catholicism.
  • christian2017
    592


    I believe if Christians embraced practical ways of making their neighbor's lives easier it would be very hard to tell whether a given society was fiscally conservative or on the other end socialist. Many people can argue about theology but as soon as a christian tries to argue their way out of following "turn the other cheek" many christians will throw the old testament at that person. Then the christian will say something like "we aren't under the old testament law". I don't doubt these christian's salvation but i believe based on the bible that there are very severe consequences for the christian who ignores both the old testament and the new testament. I'm not going to quote Bible verses because of forum rules.

    Much of the old testament reiterates that the given set of people was corrupt "because they didn't strengthen the hand of the poor". There are in fact ways of strengthening the hand of the poor without imposing on the tax payer.
  • christian2017
    592
    The puritans were calvinist and initially they embraced communism or what at their time was equivalent to first century christianity (prior to Marx). That initial economic system in massachusetts failed due to various reasons. Calvinism isn't always synonous with capitalism.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    I believe if Christians embraced practical ways of making their neighbor's lives easier it would be very hard to tell whether a given society was fiscally conservative or on the other end socialist.christian2017

    Well, yes. The US spends more than any other country on charities or philanthropism. It is exceedingly paradoxical that this has become an individual calling for many religious types instead of something that would be implemented on a federal level. But, that's just America for you.
  • christian2017
    592


    we have welfare. Considering corn production or agriculture is subsidized by the federal government and to some extent land is a scarcity (just as money is labeled scarce), it would be in accordance with a fair capital society to give people a processed or unprocessed corn stipend. We can't have it both ways.

    I understand due to the lack of vitamins in corn it leads to pellagra. Corn can be fed to chickens and even some types of edible insects. This solution is also contigent on zoning laws that adhere to free market principles (drastically reduced zoning laws).
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    we have welfare.christian2017

    Yeah, so why does the religiously oriented right hate on it so much, and this isn't something exclusive to the right in the US, also. Centrists like Clinton or Obama, have been staunchly opposed to anything resembling welfare, even if it is economically rational to embrace it!
  • christian2017
    592
    "We should go back in time to answer the question of why corn became subsidized by the government. Like any other crop, corn has good years and bad years. The early 1800s brought a boom for U.S. corn farmers as they moved West for farmland. But this over-planting of land set the stage for the financial problem that came in the 1930s. The excess drove the price of corn so low that it was basically worthless, and the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl only made the situation worse. This is when the federal government decided to implement a subsidy on corn to stabilize the fluctuating prices."

    The above is a fallacy. When the government subsidizes corn it raises the price of corn but at the same time allows the farmer not to have to grow as much and also gives the farmer an incentive not to cause the price to plummet. The above article was well orchestrated to fool the reader.
  • christian2017
    592


    I agree. I think if people understood that money is a legal fiction (Noah Harrari) they would be less angry over the issue of welfare.
  • Wallows
    9.6k


    Here's what I think about what happened. Corn prices plummeted, and the gov stepped in to set a price floor for the farmers. I don't think it got to the point of quotas, or I might be wrong on this.

    And, yeah, we do have massive subsidies to farmers. But... at least the food is pretty cheap. I believe America is in the highest-ranking after the Netherlands and others in terms of food production per square hectare.
  • ovdtogt
    669
    Christianity started off as the religion of the dispossessed. After a period of class warfare the ruling class (polytheistic) adopted the religion of the lower classes and turned it into the state religion (Constantine). This was the formation of Catholicism. A new counter revolution happened under the banner of Protestantism and this was also eventually adopted by the ruling classes (Northern Europe). The ruling class is and always will be right-wing and any religion they adopt will always be as such interpreted.
  • simeonz
    92
    I think if people understood that money is a legal fiction (Noah Harrari) they would be less angry over the issue of welfare.christian2017
    Money are symbolic for insured debt. I wouldn't call "debt" a fiction anymore then I would call "promise" a fiction. The problem with money is that by design, it is intended to be accumulable. This ensures that individuals who produce in excess of their needs, by virtue of their savings, can recall their debts from society, and thus enterprise a locus of collective human effort. Unfortunately, this also gives them power over the collective that they thus manage, which enables them to extract disproportionate debt from society in some cases. Eventually, this can result in monopoly, plutocracy, etc.

    Nonetheless, with all its deficiencies, I would call money an abstract agreement.
  • simeonz
    92
    Here's what I surmise. In countries where interpretations of the Bible are guided by an authority (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy), we have seen the emergence of socialist tendencies and doctrines thereof. Think, Latin America or even Eastern Europe, with the USSR being a quizzical example.Wallows
    Actually, being from East Europe, I can assure you that the connection is mostly tangential. The more to the east a culture is, the more preference for authority you find in it. The more to the west and north you go, the more egalitarian and democratic cultures you find. In East Europe and Asia, people mostly distrust the individual, and they prefer external government. The USSR communism was not partial towards religion, but it afforded it some existence. Most people disassociated with their religious beliefs at the time, or would not discuss them openly in society. Interestingly though, a lot of ex-party members today are fervently religious. I think that they want to have external authority that dictates normative behavior, and as communism exited the political scene, they found religion a suitable replacement.

    Altogether, I do not think that half of the people describing themselves as theists in East Europe are actually philosophically religious. This is more likely just a customary state for them.
  • christian2017
    592


    Many conservatives would justify getting rid of food stamps. If that became the reality then we would also have to address the corn subsidies.
  • christian2017
    592


    I agree with that mostly except that money can be manipulated much easier then land, resources and services. However it is even possible to manipulate the relationships between people regarding land, resources and services. It just so happens money is much easier to manipulate. When a lawyer argues a case, much of how she influences the flow of the court case is not necessarily based on good intentions but in fact it is some times based on the way the law is written and how to properly conduct oneself in a court. Whence the term "legal fiction" (paraphrased from Noah Harrari's "Sapiens").
  • christian2017
    592
    land is scarce just as money is scarce (high school term "scarcity"). To embrace fiscal conservatism, the issue of subsidizing corn production must be assessed if we are going to get rid of food stamps.

    A processed or unprocessed corn stipend can be given to chickens to produce a food product with vitamins and minerals. Animals very often produce vitamins and minerals from foods typically associated with Pellagra. A completely free market is a two way street.
  • christian2017
    592
    I read somewhere that the popularization of Christianity was helped by the public disaffection for the elitist ethics in the Greco-Roman polytheistic religions. The latter celebrated exceptional merit, exceptional heroism, exceptional strength, exceptional ancestry, which would not be perceived as relatable to the weakened and fearful enslaved and plebeian masses. Furthermore, the mythos of the ancient world was hard, punitive, and unforgiving. Christianity may have been partly embraced as a source of self-confidence for the people, affording space for their personal weaknesses and unequal social standing.

    I also find it hard to accept the conservative argument, that revolutionary change should be avoided when possible, because of its destabilizing consequences, when the very religion around which they center their own narrative was among the most revolutionary cultural changes of its time and its region. This changed during the Middle ages when the aristocracy made religion their own prerogative again. (Probably this is also the period when Christianity became politically conservative.)

    I am neither particularly left-leaning politically (in spirit maybe, but not as a political system), neither conventionally religious, but I am interested by this argument.
    simeonz

    I agree, but during the middle ages they did have monasteries which many poor families sent their children too. Many of the problems we have today are a distant extension of the industrial revolution. Automation, Globalism and money manipulation have made it hard for many poor people to be self sufficient. The suicide and opiod abuse rate in the US is extremely high.

    I would argue many modern Americans have become very fierce in their outlook on life due to the fact that in some sense American devalue human life more than any other people in the past 2000 years. I believe the Medieval man very often acted as a coward because they enjoyed life more than we do.

    After years of depression, i decided the next time it came to it, i would fight the shark.

    #SharkFighterNation
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Much of the old testament reiterates that the given set of people was corrupt "because they didn't strengthen the hand of the poor". There are in fact ways of strengthening the hand of the poor without imposing on the tax payer.christian2017

    A good point to raise; However new Testament describes the sacrifice of christ for our souls and the power of sacrifice, redemption and renewal after one has metaphorically laid benediction upon themselves for their sins by martyring themselves upon a cross or heavy burden and finding salvation through rebirth and a love of contributing to the creation of god in ourselves and most importantly others.

    Just my two cents really, but I will definitely respond to more of your detailed and thoughtful contributions as I read through them time allowing.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    Christianity started off as the religion of the dispossessed. After a period of class warfare the ruling class (polytheistic) adopted the religion of the lower classes and turned it into the state religion (Constantine). This was the formation of Catholicism.ovdtogt

    Yeah, a definitely interesting corollary question would be, how much of Stoic thought was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire?
  • simeonz
    92
    I agree with that mostly except that money can be manipulated much easier then land, resources and services. However it is even possible to manipulate the relationships between people regarding land, resources and services.christian2017
    The problem with using commodities and natural resources directly for barter is that they have limited application. Money have unlimited application, abstractly, hence transacting with them is much more powerful.

    I agree, but during the middle ages they did have monasteries which many poor families sent their children too.christian2017
    Even if the politics in this regard were standard, I suspect that a lot of the wealth of the church was accumulated through state funding, land ownership, or donations from the wealthy aristocracy. But this wealth came at the expense of the poor, whose rights were trumped in favor of their lords. Therefore, the pity offered in this way was not an entirely positive effect.

    Many of the problems we have today are a distant extension of the industrial revolution. Automation, Globalism and money manipulation have made it hard for many poor people to be self sufficient.christian2017
    The industrial revolution was even worse than the middle ages. And that says something. It is one of the grimmest periods in human history. When someone talks about the success of western capitalism, I always think about the initial price that was paid - slavery in south US and children working to death in Great Britain. Nonetheless, times have changed for the better.

    Regarding money manipulation, as I already said - this is abuse of an instrument. This is not an excuse for the misfortune it causes, but the balance will be judged differently depending on the person's situation. If you take a non-electural government scheme for central welfare distribution, the same issue arises, because you have to rely on correctly functioning meritocratic system of appointments to office, and if it fails, you have a different kind of monster.

    Regarding globalism, I am not sure what you mean. Different people have different issues with it. Do you mean the introduction of cheap labor into countries with high economic standards, cultural infusions, price pressure from imports, etc. To be honest, I do think that some of those effects are indeed abusive in a very specific technical sense (which I don't want to elaborate right now). At the same time, in any competitive situation, the person who is willing to sacrifice the most defines the expected performance - there is no level playing field. This turns any competition into terror experience for the participants. But unfortunately, I believe that natural competition is required for unbiased evaluation of performance - anything else is a test of some kind of norm or preference, which is not an objective test.

    The suicide and opiod abuse rate in the US is extremely high.christian2017
    I cannot comment on that. Maybe the capitalism in the US is managed poorly compared to other countries indeed. Yet, I don't think that I have ever seen a statement that capitalistic countries have higher suicide and substance abuse factors in general.

    I would argue many modern Americans have become very fierce in their outlook on life due to the fact that in some sense American devalue human life more than any other people in the past 2000 years. I believe the Medieval man very often acted as a coward because they enjoyed life more than we do.christian2017
    Maybe, or maybe they didn't know any better. Notice the rebellion I outlined in my second reply. It hasn't ended well for the poor folk.
  • Wallows
    9.6k


    I lived in Eastern Europe, for a good decade, and definitely there is resentment, that goes both ways, towards Catholicism and communism. Personally, I see more overlap; but, asserting sovereignty comes first, in the minds of the former satellites of the Soviet Union.
  • christian2017
    592
    A good point to raise; However new Testament describes the sacrifice of christ for our souls and the power of sacrifice, redemption and renewal after one has metaphorically laid benediction upon themselves for their sins by martyring themselves upon a cross or heavy burden and finding salvation through rebirth and a love of contributing to the creation of god in ourselves and most importantly others.

    Just my two cents really, but I will definitely respond to more of your detailed and thoughtful contributions as I read through them time allowing.
    Mark Dennis

    I agree that "Once Saved Always Saved". Since my assumption is that you are a christian i can't be accused of Evangelizing. 1st Corinthians chapter 3 says that all christians build on the foundation of Jesus Christ but our works will be tested with fire. Even though a christian is guaranteed salvation upon conversion there are in fact limited punishments or disciplinary action for the christian that does not adhere to the Bible. Sin is very serious but the Christian is guaranteed salvation.

    Once again i am not evangelizing considering the fact that you are a Christian.
  • Wallows
    9.6k
    Many conservatives would justify getting rid of food stamps.christian2017

    Across the board, food stamps are deceptively a form of subsidizing goods such as food. There's a lot of socialism in America if you're poor enough to qualify for it.

    Marginalized minorities, don't really get that much love though.
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