Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Watch whom you call a 'Marxist'

It seems that Karl Marx has been in the news lately -- through some of his alleged disciples.

I'm speaking about Pope Francis, who recently delivered a scathing denouncement of the abuses of capitalism, specifically "supply-side economics"; and Nelson Mandela, the recently-deceased former revolutionary and political prisoner who later became president of South Africa. Both of them have been accused of being Marxists because they called for a restructuring of the prevailing economic and political order.

My reaction to the "haters": Is that all they got?

The charge against the pope is especially spurious, given that Marxism ignores the spiritual -- as Martin Luther King Jr. said, in that view "matter is all there is" and that he hasn't changed Roman Catholic social teaching one bit. Also consider that Mandela, informed by Bible student Gandhi, became quite the conciliator after being released from prison after nearly 30 years, especially when most folks expected (and some were hoping for) bloodshed.

Both men, on the other hand, have called for "justice" -- and that seems to be threatening to those who have or lust for power. The trouble is, of course, that they equate "justice" with "equality" -- read: equal outcomes and/or, cynically, "equally poor." But that isn't at all what they're talking about.

Rather, they refer to the basic dignity of all men and women. Equal opportunity. Fair treatment regardless of economic station in life. The same opportunity to participate in public life. And so on ... and those are Marxist?

Well, it could be seen as such if, again, your goal is aristocracy, but in doing so you play right into Marx' hands. He never declared "class warfare," only that it already existed -- the rich declaring war on the poor. And in 19th-Century Europe the church was a willing pawn in the political power game, working hand-in-hand with the nobility to remain in power. Have you noticed that Europe is largely secular today? Do you think there's a reason for that?

Here in America, the history of organized labor demonstrates that you don't have to be "Marxist" to believe in, for example, fair treatment of workers. Many Catholic priests were supporters, because their parishioners were involved, and the American labor movement regularly purged Communists from its ranks.

So the next time you're tempted to refer such men and those who think like them as Marxists, think again. They in fact may be closer to God's intent than you realize.

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