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Why the Growing Popularity of Socialism?

by Don Hooser Estimated reading time: 25 minutes

The culture of a society rests on the foundation of its ideologies—the ideas, views and beliefs of the people. The ideological foundation of the United States of America is being radically corrupted at an accelerating and alarming pace. A dark cloud is overshadowing the country, as it is given over to competing ideologies or “isms.”

With Bible-centered religion waning and the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage being increasingly rejected, one “ism” that is becoming more and more prevalent is socialism, as are its intimately related cousins—humanism, materialism, evolutionism, environmentalism, radical feminism, etc.

In what follows, the word “socialism” is used in a general sense to refer to governments imposing more and more control over their citizens by legislating expensive non-essential pro-grams. “Essential” government activities are those that provide safety for the citizens—protection from dangers from within (crime) and from without (attacks and invasion).

America began with a very low degree of socialism, but as history would predict, government has been legislating an increasing amount. For a while, the transition was slow—America had creeping socialism. Today socialism is leaping forward.

This typical trend is described in a popular quote from Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [financial benefits] from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses.”

Such “democratic socialism” is difficult to reverse. Once a welfare program has been enacted, the recipients greatly resist any effort to end it, so very few politicians will dare suggest a cancellation.

Many Americans are embracing socialism

Sadly, more and more Americans, especially the relatively young (and politicians pandering to them), are embracing socialism even while the U.S. administration has been moving in the opposite direction of reducing stifling regulations and taking other practical steps to ensure personal freedoms.

As is also noted in our lead article, a recent Gallup poll found that Americans 18 to 29 years of age “are as positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%)”—a huge change from just a few years ago. And 57 percent of all Democrats view socialism positively (Frank Newport, “Democrats More Positive About Socialism Than Capitalism,” Gallup, Aug. 13, 2018).

The United States has long been hailed as a bastion of liberty in the world. Yet liberal progressives pushing socialist measures have viewed the country as primarily a land of privilege and greed that needs true “liberation” into more socialist policies—of redistributed wealth, “free” college education, price and wage controls, universal “free” health care, government control of various industries, etc.

This is declared to be the real liberty America should aspire to—along with, as many liberal progressives also support, casting off traditional moral restraints and imposing a new morality more in line with their values. Yet this is certainly not true liberty.

The Bible teaches the importance of love, mercy, compassion and generosity, and that we should voluntarily give to people who really need help.

Some may consider such a discussion to be “too political” for a magazine that stands above human politics, as Beyond Today does. But Beyond Today promotes what the Bible teaches, which is often diametrically opposed to liberal progressive ideology.

And this discussion is not a mere domestic issue for the United States. It applies to all the world, as many nations have suffered under the ravages of socialism and its related “isms” communism and fascism. But since America is the world’s most powerful nation, its example has a great impact on the rest of the world.

We ask the question, then: Why is socialism growing in popularity despite its catastrophic results in times past and in various nations even today?

One reason is the high percentage of socialist-minded people in positions of powerful influence in media, politics, Hollywood, college faculties, high-tech providers of social media, etc. Another factor is the prevalence of opportunists who realize they can gain personal power by promising wonderful benefits to naïve voters who will support them. Then there are the true believers in socialism, who want, with good intentions, to heroically lead their fellow citizens into their dream of an easier and better life for everyone.

Another major reason for socialism’s rise in popularity is the fact that countless people lack the understanding to recognize the fallacies in socialistic proposals and promises. Wishful thinking about how the world should be often leads them to readily accept fantasies over facts. Many people do not understand the essential realities of life that disprove the validity and value of socialism. Following are 10 vital subjects where there is a serious lack of understanding.

1. Lack of understanding charity vs. socialism

Many passages of Scripture teach the essential importance of love, kindness, mercy, sympathy, compassion, charity and generosity. Beyond certain requirements to contribute to and participate in the mission of God’s Church, the Bible teaches that we should be voluntarily giving to people who really need help, whether temporarily or permanently. This can be done by individuals or in people working together in churches and charitable organizations.

But the Bible never advocates state-run welfare programs. According to biblical principles, compulsory and confiscatory taxation to “redistribute” wealth from income earners to those who are not earning,with an unfair “graduated” income tax and other methods, is legalized stealing!

Whether or not socialists are stingy with their own money, their primary “solution” for problems is to support new or expanded government welfare programs. Sadly, history proves that the more such programs government runs, the less people give to churches, charities and needy individuals.

2. Lack of understanding influences on people’s thinking

More and more people are either uninformed (lack knowledge) or misinformed (have false “knowledge”). A deceived person may be sincere—yet he doesn’t realize he is deceived. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

For each person, the “way that seems right” (Proverbs 14:12 ; Proverbs 16:25 ) is based on his past experience, education and environment, including the views of parents, teachers and friends. That “way” seems “normal” to them.

When journalists engage in biased reporting and “fake news,” it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. And like computers, we are programmed by the input into our minds.

It’s tragic that the quantity and quality of what is learned in schools has deteriorated terribly. For example, more and more public schools in the United States are no longer teaching civics (the study of government and the responsibilities of citizens).

Especially appalling is the fact that many university and college professors have embraced humanism, “political correctness,” macroevolution, environmentalism, immoral lifestyles, radical feminism and, yes, socialism. As a result, many students in higher education become indoctrinated in those views, especially since young people often lack the maturity and experience to recognize the fallacies.

Many young people are so absorbed with TV, video games and other trivial pursuits that they have no time or inclination to be seekers of truth.

The Bible contains passionate exhortations to seek knowledge, understanding and wisdom! While many people today seek technical knowledge, relatively few seek true wisdom. It’s ironic and bizarre that self-identified intellectuals embrace philosophies that defy facts and common sense! People believe what they want to believe.

3. Lack of understanding socialism vs. freedom

Maximum personal freedom under the guidance of God’s Word and His law is the ideal. Total or absolute “freedom” in the sense of having no restrictions at all is not true freedom. That would, horribly, allow murder, stealing and lying, which would soon destroy everyone’s freedom and security. If your neighbor could legally take your life or property, you would not be free—and neither would he, as you or someone else could do the same to him.

Tragically, all too many people want near-absolute freedom, allowing them to commit all kinds of immorality, including killing unborn babies. Maximum freedom can be achieved when the primary law of the land is God’s law as summarized in the Ten Commandments. That law safeguards liberty, which is why the apostle James called it “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25 ; compare James 2:12 ).

Thankfully, most of America’s founders believed in the necessity of obedience to the Ten Commandments and acknowledged that this new country would not long survive if the citizens rejected the authority of those commandments.

Some people end up with a mindset of dependence and fear freedom. We can see this in the complaining of the Israelites following their Exodus from Egypt. After God delivered them from their enslavement there, some Israelites actually begged to go back! (See Numbers 11:5-20 ; Numbers 14:2-4 ; Numbers 21:5 .) “In their hearts they turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:38-39 ). In Egypt, they had food and shelter and probably didn’t have to cope with a lot of changes or surprises.

As they submitted to God, the Israelites would continue to have maximum freedom, while ruled directly by God as their King. Then during the judgeship of Samuel, the leaders said, “Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have” (1 Samuel 8:5 , New Living Translation; compare 1 Samuel 12:12 ).

God told Samuel He would let the people have their wish, but Samuel warned the people of the things they would suffer under oppressive, big-spending governments levying taxes and confiscating people’s wealth. Nevertheless, the people still clamored for a worldly government. The significant and prescient story is recorded in 1 Samuel 8:4-22 .

4. Lack of understanding economics

Economics is defined as “the social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services …” (TheFreeDictionary.com). Yes, it is a science with economic laws!

Socialism doesn’t work because it defies those laws! What works is a free enterprise system—that is, one that allows individuals to engage in private business ventures and free exchange in a free market, also known as capitalism. However, some influential socialists including Karl Marx (father of “Marxism”) and John Maynard Keynes (father of “Keynesianism”) have had a poisonous influence on the thinking of countless people.

Most modern nations are operating with a combination of personal freedom and socialism. If such a nation is fairly prosperous, the credit belongs to the parts that are free or to the wealth that was accumulated before the institution of socialism (or, horribly, sometimes to their predation of other societies).

Countless excellent books on economics have been written. It’s tragic that most people don’t read such books. Many people think of socialism in only one way—a system that offers lots of “free stuff!” Never mind that these handouts are never really free. They are paid for by higher taxes, printing more money (thus devaluing it, leading to inflation), and/or going into further debt (borrowing). Another major cost is loss of freedom.

The fruits of freedom are fabulous. Personal freedom unleashes the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of creative people. The usual result? Greater prosperity all around!

In spite of the consistent failure of socialism, proponents come along who promise success with their “new” and “better” variation of socialism, and there are always many who are naïve enough to believe those fairy tales.

5. Lack of understanding history

A popular form of a famous saying tells us, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Wise people study history to learn what has worked and what hasn’t.

Another witticism informs us that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Since socialism has always failed, isn’t it insane to keep adopting it?

Tragically, world history and American history have been taught less and less in U.S. schools and colleges. And history classes often denigrate and disparage America’s past instead of teaching it accurately.

Most of America’s founding fathers respected and read the Bible and wanted their new country to be founded on biblical principles. The American Declaration of Independence contains these famous words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

According to the Bible, these words do indeed express important truths. God did create human beings and did provide those rights. First is the right to live (unless one commits a capital crime incurring the death penalty as laid out in Scripture). Second is the right to have liberty as opposed to being wrongly imprisoned. Third, the right to pursue happiness, is not about pursuing entertainment or hedonistic pleasures. It concerns the right to decide for yourself what realistic goals and occupations you want to pursue in life because you think they will bring you the most satisfaction.

The problem with increasing socialism is that instead of you making your own decisions, more and more decisions about your life are made by big government —which has its interests, not yours, at heart . Rather than government serving you, you end up serving the government— just as God warned (as noted earlier in 1 Samuel 8:4-22 ) .

6. Lack of understanding human nature

Many people believe human nature is basically good, while many others see it as basically bad. God of course understands human nature perfectly, and the Bible makes it clear that human nature has been corrupted and is basically self-centered, selfish and evil. (See these clear scriptures that verify this: Genesis 6:5-6 ; Jeremiah 17:9 ; Matthew 15:18-19 ; Mark 7:20-23 ; Romans 7:14-19 ; Romans 8:7 ; Galatians 5:19-21 ; 2 Timothy 3:1-7 .)

Thankfully, many people experience lots of good influences that help to tame, elevate and refine their corrupt natures to some degree. The influences can include those of parents, family, friends, teachers, pastors, law enforcement and the fact that people are often automatically rewarded for good conduct and automatically punished for bad conduct.

Those who believe that people are naturally good don’t see much need for God. As a result, they are too trustful of human government and so are willing to let human leaders wield great power. They expect government to be a benevolent “big brother” that will protect and provide for them.

But what is the reality? Since corrupt human nature is lazy and lustful, getting income without working for it can be appealing. Since human nature is greedy and jealous, imposing a higher rate of taxes on higher-income people can be appealing. And since human nature is selfish and short-sighted, people tend to think, “I’ll get mine while the getting is good and not worry about future generations.”

Why should we assume big government would curb the problem? After all, it’s made up of many, many people with corrupt human nature. Is it any surprise that politicians who work for any length of time in government often leave office much wealthier than when they went in?

Because America’s founders understood human nature, they rightfully feared big government. They designed the U.S. Constitution to try to protect the rights and freedoms of individual citizens and to prevent any part of the government from becoming too powerful.

But we should also keep in mind that the Bible has lots of good news, including God’s revelation of how human nature can be gradually replaced by a godly nature through the process of spiritual conversion!

7. Lack of understanding God

From the Bible, we see clearly that God loves liberty and loves to liberate people! God identifies Himself not only as Creator but also as Deliverer from bondage—our Liberator! It is not His nature to be controlling and micromanaging.

Notice that God obviously loves variety. Consider the seemingly infinite combinations of talents, interests and personalities among the people of the world! Obviously God never intended for everyone to have the same occupation and set of avocations. God desires for every person to have the freedom to choose the paths he or she wants to follow.

God created man in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27 ), referring to a resemblance in appearance but also in mind. We understand from the rest of the Bible that God accomplished this by giving people a spirit that imparts intellect to the human brain, creating the awesome human mind that far exceeds that of animals (see Job 32:8 ; 1 Corinthians 2:11 ). This gives each human being incredible freedom of thought and a unique personality.

When God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He told them “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15 , New International Version). But there is no evidence that God told them how to do this! He gave them the freedom to plan, make decisions and take the actions that seemed best to them. (Tragically, they abused their freedom and ate of the one tree God had forbidden.) When God later allowed the Israelites into the Promised Land, there is no evidence of His micromanaging at that time either!

God knows that micromanaging people has bad consequences, but egotistical human beings think otherwise! They imagine they can solve a nation’s problems with big government and without God.

The official U.S. motto is, “In God We Trust.” Yet it has become all so much lip service, with more trust being given to the money it is printed on or to “almighty government” that supposedly gives us our rights and our money. Some even want to eradicate this motto and all references to God in government.

The fact is, we human beings need to trust in God to teach us to think like He thinks (see Isaiah 55:8-9 ). God loves freedom, and we should love it too!

8. Lack of understanding the Bible

The Bible is God’s revelation of ultimate truth (Psalms 119:160 ; John 17:17 ). It should be the foundation and standard by which all ideas are judged for their truthfulness. Tragically, most people today ignore that filter and foundation or they reinterpret it to fit their errant notions.

Freedom and liberty are major themes in the Bible! Most people are unaware of the Bible’s impact on world history. For example, it has inspired more efforts to achieve freedom that any other book by far.

What about equality? The Bible teaches spiritual and legal equality, and it declares laws from God that protect private property and prevent financial extremes, but the Bible never advocates efforts to try to force uniformity, such as financial equality.

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them freedom of choice in how to conduct themselves—“free moral agency,” though telling them the way they should choose and to not disobey Him. God gives commandments and promises rewards for obedience and penalties for disobedience, but He lets people know they have the freedom to choose. Again, though, He tells them to choose wisely! (See Deuteronomy 30:15-20 .)

God told Adam and Eve that He was giving them and their progeny “dominion” over all the creatures of the earth (Genesis 1:26-28 ). “Dominion” means authority and rulership! That’s a lot of freedom and a lot of authority under God’s overall sovereignty!

From the Bible, we know God regards private property ownership as fundamental to freedom, prosperity and happiness. The whole world belongs to God (Psalms 24:1 ), but God has always wanted families to have some land to regard as their own. The importance of protecting private property is clear from the Eighth Commandment (“You shall not steal”) and related biblical laws.

When God led the Israelites to the Promised Land, He gave them a great start with a generous variety of property and assets (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ). All of that came with no property taxes and apparently no regulations, restrictions or requirements other than the relatively few spiritual, civil and agricultural laws God gave for their benefit.

Promoters of socialism often try to entice people to their way of thinking by criticizing financial inequity and declaring the riches of wealthy people to be obscene—and thus in need of redistribution. One irony here is that many wealthy people in entertainment, media and government promote socialism while living lavish lifestyles. Another is that when socialists take over, the leaders of the system and those they favor always seem to share the wealth while the common people share only impoverished misery. Socialism is certainly no solution to perceived inequities in wealth!

Interestingly, the Bible does not speak against the possession of money and wealth itself. God has used many wealthy people in His service, including Abraham, the father of the faithful (Genesis 13:2 ; Genesis 14:23 ; Romans 4:11 ). Of course God condemns the misuse of money and any wrong attitude about material wealth, including setting one’s heart on it or coming to trust in it. Notice the correct wording of 1 Timothy 6:10 : “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil …” (emphasis added). “Love of money” implies lust and covetousness. There’s nothing inherently wrong with money or wealth itself.

In some of Jesus Christ’s parables, He used free enterprise business stories to teach spiritual lessons. In the parables of the “talents” and “minas,” the master gives his servants some money and tells them to do their best to make some profit with the money (Matthew 25:14-30 ; Luke 19:11-27 ). Today those stories could be called stories of capitalism!

Socialism is an ideology that seriously conflicts with the Bible in numerous ways. The Bible clearly teaches personal freedom and free enterprise and exchange. Most of America’s founders understood this and did their best to write the U.S. Constitution to be in harmony with the Bible.

The Bible promises a peaceful new world order, but that will come only after Christ returns to the earth (Micah 4:1-4 ; Revelation 20:4-6 ). History has shown that ideal conditions can never be achieved merely by the efforts of human beings.

America has drifted far from its founding. Its people have shown less and less interest in learning, loving and living by the Bible. Sadly, although many Christian churches truly help people through effective charitable programs, too many others misinterpret the Bible and misapply scriptures to support their “social gospel” emphasizing human efforts—including massive government programs—to transform society. Many churches are forsaking the Bible on this subject, partly because they want to gain the approval of mainstream society.

To summarize, most people are uninformed and misinformed about the Bible—even many who claim to live by it.

9. Lack of understanding the influence of Satan the devil

Satan the devil and the other evil angels he rules over, the demons, are very real. God is allowing Satan to be “the ruler of this world” until Christ returns (John 12:31 ; John 14:30 ; John 16:11 ). Today “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19 ).

The influence of Satan and his demons is the number one cause of every kind of evil—sin, misery, confusion, corruption, deception, destruction, perversion and poverty. They confuse people into thinking that evil is good and good is evil.

Satan hates God, he hates the Bible, and he hates human beings. He is constantly scheming to deceive, control and destroy us. When they have the opportunity, demons sometimes actually “possess” people, which means taking total control of them.

God has never done that. God wants everyone to have the freedom to make his or her own decisions, choices and plans.

Satan wants nations to establish powerful governments because he also knows he can more easily influence a whole population when it’s already under a big centralized government.

Bible prophecy tells us that Satan will achieve his greatest power shortly before Christ returns. Satan will influence world leaders to give their support to a worldwide government led by an evil dictator, the Bible calling this great political power and its leader “the beast” (see Revelation 13 and 17). The world will experience totalitarian government control just before Jesus Christ returns, and then Christ will lead the world into the immense relief of true freedom!

The insidious influence of Satan and the demons is another major reason that more and more Americans are embracing socialism.

10. Lack of understanding the world after Christ’s return

Some people might imagine that when Jesus Christ returns to the earth as King of Kings, He will be a dictator—a loving dictator but a totalitarian dictator nonetheless. They imagine Him to be very controlling and micromanaging, like a “helicopter parent,” prescribing to everyone what, when, where and how to do everything.

Not so! The Bible contains many prophecies about the wonderful reign of Christ to come, and none describe a domineering government. In a worldwide society based on the Ten Commandments, the “law of liberty,” people will be able to enjoy maximum liberty! The prophecies describe a free, fertile, fruitful and flourishing society, “like the garden of Eden” (Ezekiel 36:35 ).

Thanks to the Bible, we know that genuine good times will come. Someday the whole world will be a free, peaceful, prosperous and joyful place!

With no crime, wars, militaries, dangerous animals, earthquakes or extremes of weather, and with hardly any other dangers, maintaining a safe society will cost almost nothing! And since the overall government will be administered by spirit beings (Jesus Christ and the saints, His spiritually converted followers from this age then transformed into glory with Him), there will not be a need to fund government on the massive level that exists today! So there won’t be any confiscatory taxation!

One fundamental fact is that everyone will be granted private property. Micah 4:4 says that “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.” “His” vine and “his” fig tree means it will be “his” land. What a person does with his land will be up to him. He can use it for a farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, cottage industry or business. He can sell all or part of it and invest the profit in another enterprise. As the vineyard owner in one of Jesus’ parables rightly said, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?” (Matthew 20:15 ).

The Bible has many exciting descriptions of the world under Christ’s leadership when peace, prosperity, liberty and love will flourish. Some of the most inspiring descriptions are found in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 2:1-4 ; Isaiah 11:6-9 ; Isaiah 35:1-10 ; Isaiah 65:21-25 ). We have a wonderfully awesome future ahead of us!

Why the growing popularity of socialism?

There are many factors that shape people’s views of social-ism. Many influential people want to lead the way into social-ism and many others are all too willing to follow their lead. And the fact that a growing percentage of people do not understand some of the fundamental realities of life explains why so many people naïvely think of socialism in positive and optimistic ways.

When people can vote for legislation or for a candidate that promises them personal benefits they don’t have to pay for, many voters will support that legislation or candidate. Since America has a government that is “by the people,” much of what happens depends on who gets elected to public office. Hence, nations with democracies usually degenerate over time into increasing socialism with all its related problems.

The Bible informs us that “in the last days, perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1 ). It’s heartbreaking for anyone to contemplate the decline and fall of his or her beloved homeland. But thanks to the Bible, we can see into the future and know that good times will follow the bad times. Someday the whole world will be a free, peaceful, prosperous and joyful place! May that day come quickly!


Socialism: A Warning From History

As more and more politicians demand their countries take a more socialist path (where everything is “free”), what are they not saying? The lessons from history are obvious. Writing at The Daily Signal, Patrick Tyrell and Anthony Kim point out serious dangers of this path:

“What are the costs of adopting socialism? It’s a good question, and one not asked frequently enough. But a new report by the Council of Economic Advisors at the White House does ask the question. The answer? Socialism destroys lives and societies. The historical record is clear: Everywhere it has been tried, socialism has done harm. It’s a cautionary tale that should be taught to every new generation.

“American socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez overlook the misery socialism has wrought in countries like the U.S.S.R., North Korea, and Venezuela. They maintain that they want socialism without dictatorship or state brutality. But even if that were achieved, socialism would still fail.

“As the White House report points out: ‘Peaceful democratic implementation of socialist policies does not eliminate the fundamental incentive and information problems created by high taxes, large state organizations, and the centralized control of resources. In a socialist country, most of the wealth created by workers is controlled by the government, not by those who toiled to create it. The incentive problem is obvious: If what you earn is going to be spent by the government instead of by you, why bother to earn it in the first place?

“Secondly, as pure-hearted as government bureaucrats might be, are their spending choices likely to be as beneficial for workers as if they had made the decisions for themselves? That’s a big leap, even if you discount completely the possibility of bureaucratic greed or corruption. Again, the historical record is instructive. When small family farms were taken over by the government and repackaged in giant government administered cooperatives in China and the U.S.S.R., less food was produced, not more, and both countries suffered mass starvation …

“Kay Coles James, the president of The Heritage Foundation, recently wrote: ‘From Albania and Angola to Vietnam and Yemen, socialism has produced little but violence, starvation, and misery … Contrast that with the experience of those who live in capitalist societies, where rights are protected, life spans are longer, and people enjoy a higher standing of living.’

“The allure of socialism is a mirage that each new generation will be tempted to run toward—unless they are told the truth about its legacy of failure” (“The Empty Promises of Socialism,” Oct. 25, 2018).

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