Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Was Jesus A Socialist?

bernie sanders photo: Senator Bernie Sanders Bernie.jpgI recently asked a family member (who is a card carrying Republican) what they thought about the current Democratic field of candidates for POTUS.  He told me that he hated Hillary. 
“She's a liar, she's just out for herself,” he told me.
“I can't disagree,” I replied.  “So what about Bernie Sanders?”
“He's a socialist!”
The tone in which my Republican family member said this was about the same as if he had declared: “He's a bedwetter!”
Being a socialist is apparently unthinkable.  Now granted this family member is over 60 years old and as a kid, growing up in 1950s America, it was instilled upon him that the Commies were the worst cretins possible next to Nazis and Satan worshippers.  But still, when I pressed him for clarification I was expecting something beyond him raising his hands to his side and simply repeating "a socialist!” as if it was obvious.

So I said, "What would be so terrible about having a Socialist President - you know, Jesus was a socialist."
What happened next was something reminiscent of Hollywood Western, the moment right before a bar room brawl is about to break out.  There was total silence and a look came across his face as if I had just taken a dump on his favorite Bible then wiped my ass with his favorite American Flag.  Obviously, Socialism with a capital "S" hadn't even existed during the time of Jesus.  However, from what the Bible "documents" about the life of Jesus, his acts and words were very characteristic of Socialist principles.  So this was the argument I was prepared to make to my Republican family member, but he just glared at me.  No words came from his tater trap.

Knowing that I would come up against nothing but a brick wall in asking him to explain what would be so terrible about having a Socialist President (if in fact Bernie Sanders actually is one), I decided instead to take my question to that fountain of all knowledge - the internet - and pose the question on a variety of political websites.  The first interesting reply I received was from a balding middle-aged guy with a fu man chu mustache who declared that “Socialism will make people lazy – they won't have to go out and work for what they got.”
This might be true, I conceded.  Although, there will be lazy people no matter what system our country has.  There were probably even lazy slaves on the plantations of Georgia 160 years ago.  But to play along and assume that socialism, or communism, does provide people with more opportunity to be lazy – and that in fact, people are actually lazier under those systems, the next question becomes: “Why is that a bad thing?”
My card-carrying Republican family member probably would have shit a brick from this question, but if you think about it, isn't the entire goal of capitalism to have an individual obtain so much money that he or she doesn't have to work anymore?  Or for his or her kids to never have to work?  Or to at least have as much leisure time as they want?  Which means that socialism and capitalism both have essentially the same end goal for an individual.  So if that is the case, then why not just skip the entire “working your ass off for 50 years in the rat race to climb the company ladder so you can die in a comfortable setting” and go right to the “provided with everything you need and having all the leisure time you want” part? 
To get an answer, I asked the internet another question: “How would America be any worse if it had a socialist system, where everyone had free health care, everyone had a free education, everyone had a free cell phone and internet access, everyone had three free heart-healthy meals a day, free public transportation, free water, free heat, free electricity and free housing?”
nazi germany photo:  50537869.jpgThe most common reply I got to this was, “Well, then no one would do any work and everything would fall apart – like it did with the Soviet Union.”
The second most common reply was, “Then the government would completely control everyone's lives, setting up another environment like that in Nazi Germany.”
And the third most common reply was, “And how is the government going to pay for all this free shit, Einstein???”
I didn't totally agree with either of the first two rebuttals.  Namely because the Soviet Union's demise was mainly due to corruption and oppression, which are traits of human nature no matter what system is at play.  And two, the American government would not completely control everyone's lives like in Nazi Germany. National Socialism is not the same as just plain old socialism. America has a democratic system of checks and balances that has ALWAYS prevented a centralized government from completely taking control.    

But beyond these two objections, let's consider this third rebuttal.  And to do this, it is necessary to become a bit of a time traveler.  Not that you have to be a Nostradamus per say, because it really doesn't take a soothsayer to see that in 50 to 100 years from now most shitty jobs in America will be accomplished by robots, computers, nanotechnology or corporate slaves.  So let’s say we simply time travel to the year 2112 (because I know of at least one Rush fan who is reading this) where our toilets are cleaned by micro-cleansers while hover cars drive and park themselves and houses are built by mechanized Suessian machines that run on solar energy as they spoodge out recycled plastic moldings.  And in this not-so-distant future how hard is it to imagine that “manual labor” and “detail oriented soul-sucking paper work” are relics of a by gone era (our era)?  And if you can imagine that future, then you can ask yourself: “At that point, what does the definition of 'being lazy' or 'not working' really mean?”  And then ask yourself: What would happen if this antiquated, Puritan idea of “working hard to get ahead” (that capitalistic Americans seem to cling so tightly to) simply no longer existed?  What if Gene Roddenberry was right and that humanity actually is evolving to a point where society simply moves along smoothly?  Everyone is fed, taught, provided with health care, provided with food, housing, communication and energy?  What if in 2112 every American will be living in an Utopian society where our technology provides everything we need and that every individual has obtained that ultimate Capitalistic goal of having all the time to relax they ever wanted?  What then?  What would become of the human race at that point?  What if the future as seen through the “End of Times” Book of Revelations crowd never comes?  What if those who anticipate Armageddon are simply delusional?  What if the battles of good and evil with fire and earthquakes and floods and famine never comes?  What if instead, everything is just fine, everything is easily attainable, convenient, comfortable, clean? 
homer simpson cheeto photo: Homer homer-simpson.jpg 
I know, it sounds pretty boring and certainly some people would become lazy and just sit around munching on Cheetoz and watching Maury Povich all day.  But if you have faith in the human spirit, then you know that most people want to pursue a dream, follow a passion.  It might be painting or volunteering with children or racing dogs or tending a garden or whatever.  But if you believe in humanity then you believe that a future in which individuals have the freedom to follow their hopes and dreams and passions is better than one in which they are locked into an banal life of waking up each day, going to a mundane job just to pay their bills, and existing as nothing more than a consumer. 

So if we can agree that this liberated utopia is an attainable, preferred and highly likely future, the question then becomes: How do we get there?  Is Socialism the way?  Capitalism?  Corporatism?  Communism?  Libertarianism?  A programmed mix of all of them?  Honestly I don't know, but whatever the answer is, I'm completely certain that it does not involve Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

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