Socialism has a bad sound to it. Few conservatives like having their wealth confiscated (though they don’t seem to mind when Martin Luther King says precisely that; cf I May not Get there with you, p. 88). And they are right (if inconsistent in their principles) is rejecting that view (except when MLK says it).
But maybe there is a different way to read economics. The following is a summary of my “Theological Readings of Economics” from the now non-existent theogothic blog.
- They key is to disengage socialism from the state. State socialism is when the guys in Kevlar armor come to the door for your money (or think of it this way: a hippie Jesus followed by a bunch of voters, armed with a .44 and saying, “Go ahead taxpayer, make my day”). And I would agree with all of the criticisms of state socialist economics.
- At the same time, though, I disagree with the Lockean reading of society. We are not just billiard balls bouncing off of each other (Leithart, Baptized Body, 8). This is terrible theology on so many levels (yet it is sacrosanct among neo-conservatives and Christian conservatives). (working on a constructive account integrating both Leithart and Dmitru Staniloae’s work; if members of the Trinity interpenetrate one another, and we are created imago dei, then in some mysterious way, we, too, interpenetrate one another. Indeed, if the church is the body of Christ, then are we not all connected?).
- We are connected…by baptism. Socialism is not just the forced taking of wealth. It is the connected socialization of society.
- I would agree with John Ruskin’s axiom, “Give the valuable to the valiant;” match virtue with wealth.