Why communism doesn’t work

We know that communism doesn’t really  work on the macro level because we’ve seen countless occasions that it has led to mass extermination and poverty, USSR, China, Viet Nam, North Korea, and Cuba.  Or how about the collective cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, some of the poorest countries in the world?  But perhaps, if enough really committed and redeemed people get together, just maybe it will work.  In an unguarded moment, PoserorProphet reminds us why communism doesn’t work in a micro community either:

Following Jesus is a demanding task and it is one of the reasons that community is so essential to our life as Christians.  It is impossible to follow Jesus on our own.  It is impossible to move into relationships of mutually liberating solidarity with people who have been abandoned, if you do so on your on.  You will burn out or blow up.

Again, I know this because I have experienced this.  When things started going wrong in our community in Vancouver’s downtown eastside and people started dropping out of participating in the work required to run the community, I decided to just take on more and more of that work myself.  That was unsustainable and my marriage still suffers from the consequences of that decision.

Actually, this is exactly why a lot of people, myself included, believe that communism fails every time it is tried. If you reward the unproductive people and punish the productive people, eventually no one will want to do anything anymore.  But I do have a couple of questions:  (1) Poser, don’t you think you should get this communism thing to work in a micro community before imposing it on the rest of the world?

At City of God, Andrew cites  a Ludwig von Misis Institute article defending private property from an a priori standpoint:

One of the points Hans-Hermann Hoppe makes is that the right to some private property is assumed by virtue of having a right to survive as an embodied individual. For example, surviving requires breathing, which requires an exclusive right to use the air surrounding one’s body. Similarly, surviving requires eating, which requires the right to be the exclusive consumer of some piece of food.

This leads to my second question for PoserorProphet. (2) When all private property has been taken away from people and all that is left is communal property, will we have to share underwear?  Isn’t that just a little unhygienic?  Or it will be like, “Ok, I’ll use it today, you use it tomorrow, but I want it back the next day.”

Are Christian Anarchists the new Zealots?

Note:  This post has been edited to remove an error that the author acknowledges he made.

In my post Donate to Theological Education or Not:  The case of fighting anarchy, I wrote of my alarm that certain young Christians had begun to adopt socialism / communism.  As a donor to theological education, I’ve been asking myself whether if it is wise to give to schools like Regent College, of which I am an alumnist, that associate with professors like Dave Diewert who advocate such views. If these people succeed with their agenda, they will take away our ability to give to places like Regent.  One of Regent’s students, a self-acknowledged friend of Dave Diewert, has come out on his blog advocating violence and the abolition of private property:

However, as I have progressed down this road, I have become convicted that our efforts in this regard must be more intimately linked to solidarity with the abandoned, to the abolition of private property, to potentially more ‘violent’ means of resistance, and to the greater goal of building a social movement.

It had been suggested to me by one of Regent’s full-time Professors that the new left-wing Christians  were the New Pharisees; I’ve changed my mind about Christians like PoserorProphet who advocate violent resistance to the “economy of death”.  They are not the New Pharisees–they are the new Zealots.  Well, occasionally the two categories can overlap,  for Rabbi Akiba, a Pharisee, supported Bar Kochba, a zealot.  Poser has actually found inspiration in the actions of the Zealots:

Or, to pick a third example, we can find inspiration in the actions of the Jewish revolutionaries who immediately burned the records of debt after gaining control of the Jerusalem Temple in the first century (Josephus writes about this – although it probably reminds the modern reader of the conclusion to Fight Club!).

I wrote to Poser at City of God the following:

Now you advocate violent means of resistance and the elimination of private property. Just how much violence would you tolerate? You’re caught up in things that are way over your head, and you yourself could end up getting burned in the process. You mentioned favorably also the zealots who burned the papers of debt and murdered the priestly class. Did you know that all of those people ended up dead within four years? (Except through treachery, Josephus himself survived to tell the story). So you find inspiration in people who were exterminated by war, and those who survived the war only to be crucified and their women and children to be sold into slavery? They perished as Jesus predicted (cf. Matt 24-25); but he told his followers not to participate in the war but rather to flee (Matt 24.16-20). But of course you know better than Jesus–you’ve read more books than he did– and so you find inspiration in the actions of the people who perished in accordance to Jesus’ prophecy!

There was a time when the Republican party had to excommunicate from their ranks the John Birch Society because these people brought discredit to the party with their extreme conspiracy views.  I wonder if evangelical Christians, particularly those involved in theological education, need to clean things up a bit too, before they lose their credibility through their association with such people.  Or are they representative?  Do they actually speak what so many people want to say but are afraid to?

Crowded tenement building churches in Early Christianity, Part II: Philology

The first part of this series was published in my personal blog.  There I react to a budding Master’s student at my alma mater, Regent College, dubbed “Poser or Prophet”, who had in response to the Brooks’ post, House Churches, written:

Also, the early church probably didn’t meet in houses. They probably met in what space they could find in crowded tenement buildings — although if the wealthier first floor resident(s) converted, they could meet there (because, you know, with the risk of buildings falling over or burning down — which tended to happen frequently — it was much better to live on the ground floor than in the penthouse!).

I mentioned that while I often disagree with Poser, this time I agreed, and I was able to find an extensive, though dated, bibliography supporting his view, including multiple examples of the term πολυοχλοικοδομη (poluochloikodome=“crowded tenement building”) in the Early Christian sources.  Text after text supported Poser’s position.

Now Poser has deigned to respond to little ol’ me as such:

Hi Peter,

Methinks you’re a little behind on the literature. For more on churches in tenement buildings, you could start with Jewett’s Romans commentary (it’s pretty much a must-read anyway) and you can follow the trail he provides.

I was deeply moved that Poser remembered my name.  But I felt even more deeply chastened for having not read what is obviously a seminal source, Jewett’s Hermeneia commentary.  Fortunately, being a rich capitalist pig, I own a copy of this book in my personal library.  I was able to read some of it and must say I’ve come to the position of disagreeing with Poser.  Jewett helped me to see that the Greek New Testament that I was using, the NTCB (The New Tenement Church Bible, Greek and English Interlinear ed., published by Zondoudhoorn’s Press, 2009), had fabricated the term πολυοχλοικοδομη / poluochloikodome.  Also I learned that the NIV, RSV and numerous other translations of the original Greek text, just had the term “house”, where I had found “crowded tenement building” in the NTCB!  Can you imagine my surprise?  Returning to my other Greek Bible (I own several of these), I found that the term οἶκος / oikos was used in many of these passages; maybe I should have paid attention when Doc Pecota suggested that we should put our vocabulary on 3×5 cards for the purpose of memorization.  Its been 28 years since I took first-year Greek, so I had to get out my Greek and English dictionary; fortunately, I have several of these because, as I explained, I am a rich capitalist pig.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that this term means “house”; I didn’t think Jesus let his followers own houses.  This term, I learned, is translated domus in the Vulgate of which I also own a copy, being a rich capitalist pig–the term domus comes into English as “dom-inant”, “dom-ination”, “dom-ineering”–this would almost even imply that the apostles, in defiance to the teaching of Jesus, tolerated the early Christian rich capitalists pigs, allowing them to have a dom-inant role in the church; in antiquity, evil householders and landowners were constantly exploiting and dom-inating everyone else.  Heavens.

I couldn’t find in the Vulgate the Latin term, insula (“crowded tenement building”).  So I asked a couple of scholars (who shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty) who are also rich capitalist pigs, having both had the privilege of studying up to the PhD level, to their shame:  one is an Oxford-trained Papyrologist and the other a Swiss national–probably descended from bankers–a professor of Historical Theology, and neither one knew the Greek term for insula.  So I concluded that the original New Testament was written by people who at very least tolerated rich capitalist pig householders; perhaps they even used these economic structures of death to promote the advancement of the Early Church.  Horror!

More to come.