What’s the Problem With Socialism?

socialism_explainedA friend of mine once mused, “I don’t really see what’s so wrong with socialism”. And although I have very strong feelings on the subject, I held my peace, not wanting to give vent to them. The problem with being honest is that when most people know you disagree with them, they either attack you as an enemy or withdraw from you in order to avoid conflict.

In his Essay to Leo Baeck, Albert Einstein wrote, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social enviroment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions.” The key to understanding this observation is the word, equanimity, a word and a concept which has largely gone out of style.

Equanimity is remaining calm and composed in a confrontation. It is a quality of being mature and civilized, confident of your own position and yet respectful of the opinions of others. It is a required condition for anyone hoping to bridge the many gaps that separate human beings. And that is what I attempt to do here – express with equanimity what is fundamentally wrong with socialism.

Attending public schools between 1950 and 1963, I was taught the concensus values of that era, which included the ideal that good people are to handle their disagreements in a reasonable, constructive manner. O course, as an ideal, it was not always lived up to. Nevertheless, most people aspired to equanimity in public debate.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” was a popularly repeated and highly respected refrain, as it was attributed to Voltaire. I never thought differently until I recently read that the quote was something Beatrice Evelyn Hall (under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre) wrote about Voltaire. Nevertheless, the authorship of the quote in no way diminishes its sentiment.

But that was then, this is now. In today’s generation there is little homage paid to equanimity. It is seen as a weakness, a sign of victimhood. Rather than expressing themselves in civilized, composed, informed, rational debate, today’s youth choose violence to force their will. They don’t aspire to win people over to their side through the effective articulation of ideas. They don’t want political debate. Instead, they use mob violence to intimidate and destroy their opposition. So it is with some doubt that I voice my convictions, because I am afraid that the people who need to hear me are the very ones who would be more inclined to beat the crap out of me.

Woodrow Wilcox


One of the most common traits of socialism is violence. When governments establish socialist economies, it comes at the price of millions of people’s lives. That’s an empirically observed fact of history. What’s wrong with socialism?

  1. Socialism is a utopian fantasy which does not work in the real world.

Pragmatically, the only way socialists are able to implement their programs is through dictatorial force. In socialism the State is preeminent, powerful and controlling. Statist control of your own money through taxation (redistribution of wealth) is just one area they seek to regulate.

Socialism claims to seek “The Greater Good”, a euphemism from Utilitarianism diguised as a sort of pure democracy. In reality, there is no such thing as the greater good. I wrote about this in my post, The Greater Good, at https://retiredday.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-greater-good/ ‎

The “greater good” always comes down to what those in power dictate. This philosophy contrasts sharply with American constitutionalism, which is based on the precept enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that God (not government) creates everyone with inalienable rights – one of those rights being “the pursuit of happiness”.

It is important to understand this distinction. The personal right to pursue your own happiness in your own way is abrogated by the government when it compels everyone to abide by whatever makes the most people happy (the goal of utilitarianism). Therefore socialism inevitably brings about dictatorial powers in government, and the loss of personal freedom.

  1. In order to maintain socialism, government must become dictatorial, at the sacrifice of the personal freedoms of individuals.

The essence of socialism is exposed in the eleventh chapter of Genesis. The whole earth was united by one common language. They said, “Come, let us build ourselves…a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (vs 4). God saw a problem with this. He saw that the pride of men caused them to unite together for the purpose of challenging his sovereignty.

In verse 6 the LORD says, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” Don’t miss God’s reason for saying this. There is nothing wrong with unity or human acheivement, such as the construction of a city with a tall tower. But the problem was that they came together for the purpose of defying God (“Let us build ourselves a tower with its top in the heavens.” “Let us make a name for ourselves.”)

The justification they used was so they would not become “dispersed over the face of the whole earth”. This again defies God’s command to Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1 and 9:7). Remember that this command was not simply to Noah but to all humanity who followed. Genesis 9:9 states, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you”.

So, the story of the tower of Babel is one of defying God. It illustrates the principle of socialism that seeks to trust in the collective efforts of men. Socialism thrives on the potential that there is no limit to what we can do in human unity (“brotherhood”) and organization. Socialism is humanity coming together without God. Assuming the sovereignty of man, the State pushes God aside.

Christians are wise to discern the false “Brotherhood of Man” from the brotherhood we have in Christ as children of God. We are only brothers to those in Christ. We have been called out of the world. We do not belong to the family of Man. We belong to the family of God.



  1. Socialism is anti-God.

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Michael Day is a native Californian and a retired mailman, proud of the fact that while most of his friends were protesting the war in Viet Nam, he volunteered for the draft and served in combat with the U.S. Army Infantry. His diverse life experiences range from singing with the San Diego Opera to doing menial labor and being involved in church leadership for twenty five years. His blog, http://retiredday.wordpress.com, is an expression of his deep convictions concerning freedom and Biblical faith.
Michael Day
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