You know when the Left is in trouble: They start praying to Jesus. Well, not exactly praying the way we Christians understand it. The leftist’s prayer is rather trying to recruit Jesus to their agenda and goals, not really ask Jesus what He wishes.
This is what Mehdi Hasan has done in his article, “What Would Jesus Do?” in the New Statesman. Hasan is the senior politics editor of the New Statesman; and the New Statesman is a British left-wing magazine founded by members of the Fabian Society back in 1913. Yes, the same Fabian Society that has adopted for its emblem a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Socialists seem quite eager these days to embrace Jesus. It seems like some religion might not hurt socialism after all.
If the Fabian Society has any superior logical or intellectual capabilities, Hasan is not really passionate to exhibit them in this article. The piece is a mess of logical fallacies, ignorance about the facts of the Bible, and unwarranted logical leaps from one argument to another. When summoning his witnesses, for example, Hasan relies on Gorbachev and Hugo Chavez, and “even Quentin Letts” (Who’s Quentin Letts anyway?), as if there aren’t better theologians in the world to tell us about Jesus’ political views. Because radical leftist movements were inspired by Jesus, Hasan claims, Jesus must be a leftie. Meanwhile, he admits that these days it is the right that is inspired by Jesus too. He doesn’t seem to make the same logical conclusion that maybe Jesus was a right-wing conservative.
The use of descriptions is atrocious, logically and factually speaking: Jesus is “the unemployed son of two asylum-seekers.” Well, Jesus was a toddler when Joseph and Mary were “asylum-seekers.” What an unemployed toddler has to do with leftist ideologies, Hasan doesn’t tell us. Then of course comes the typical leftist profiling: “the Jesus of the Gospels is a bearded, sandal-wearing, unmarried rabbi from Nazareth with all the personal traits of a modern revolutionary.” What does Jesus’ clothing, religion, or marital preferences have to do with the “personal traits of a modern revolutionary” is not mentioned. If I said, “the bearded Mehdi Hasan living in Britain, with his religiously significant name (the Good Prophet of God), has all the personal traits of a modern Muslim suicide bomber, and therefore he is a suicide bomber,” I would have committed a logical fallacy, and yet it won’t be as bad as Hasan’s fallacy. And even the very idea that Jesus imitated leftist movements that appeared hundreds of years later is preposterous to an extent that can’t be expected of a “political analyst” of such significant magazine like the New Scientist.
The five “reasons” why Jesus would act like a leftie today are even more preposterous. First, Jesus didn’t advocate “class war”: He didn’t work up the crowds to expropriate the riches of the rich man. He advised him to share voluntarily – the sort of free market “voluntarism” so deeply despised by socialist revolutionaries in the last two centuries.
Second, Jesus didn’t bash the “bankers” but the money-changers. The two groups were different, and even today in Britain a bank and an exchange office are different entities. And Jesus actually advised people to leave their money with the bankers if they have no idea what business to apply them to (Matt. 25:27).
Third, in Matthew 20:1-6 Jesus doesn’t advocate “fair daily living wage” but the right of the employer to decide what wage to pay to whom. Would a leftie today advocate such a thing?
Fourth, Jesus’ miracles have nothing to do with a national centralized healthcare. Not a single one of His miracles was paid by taxpayers robbed of their money by force. (Now, if Hasan can recommend national healthcare that performs perfect miracles at no cost whatsoever, I will sign up immediately.)
Fifth, Jesus the “anti-war activist” was the one who said to the disciples to carry swords with them (Luke 22:26-28). Peter wouldn’t have had a sword in the first place if Jesus didn’t tell him to.
Contrary to what Jim Wallis says (as quoted by Hasan), the politics of Jesus constitutes no problem whatsoever for the religious right. Wallis and Hasan wish it did. But it doesn’t, and no verbal equilibristics1 on the Left can change this fact. Hasan, with all his effort, didn’t prove his case; he only succeeded in creating the suspicion that the New Statesman has very low intellectual standards for their editors.
The bigger question is this: Why is the Left so eager to appropriate Jesus Christ for their agenda these days? After two centuries of open disdain, ridicule, denouncements of the Christian faith by socialists, what is the reason for this “religious revival” among them? We have heard leftist “prophecies” before of the imminent death of Christianity. Why is it so dear to them now?
The answer is: Socialism is morally bankrupt. It has spent whatever moral capital it had, and now socialists are desperately looking for some new meaning to inject in their system to keep it alive.
The left has a history of ideological compromises. Anytime it went bankrupt, it was eager to adopt the elements of the system the socialists hated so much, in order to make their system survive.
A Capitalist economy was Lenin’s way to save Russia from economic collapse. The greatest ideologist of Communism after Marx and Engels couldn’t think of a way to save Communism from economic bankruptcy except by letting back on the market private initiative, profits, and a free system of prices. Russia recovered almost miraculously. Lenin’s “New Economic Policy” was in fact the centuries-old economic policy of the Christian world of free market, capitalist mode of profits and production, decentralized pricing. Stalin eventually abolished the policy in 1928. The next year Russia, whose most serious economic problem before WWI was how to dispose of the excess grain, had its worst famine in its history. Later, in the 1960s and then in the 1980s, the Soviet leadership again adopted semi-capitalist measures when the Soviet economy was about to collapse. Capitalist nations were the solution again when it came to purchasing the necessary machinery, or technology; apparently, since socialism actually produced backwardness in science and technology, there was nothing wrong with the superior capitalist advances.
The Chinese experiment in capitalist economy is well known, of course, to any student of the recent history of China. Chinese communists eventually discovered that Communism produces famine, and the only solution they could find is to slaughter the sacred cow of their ideology: Public ownership of the means of production. One could argue how much of the Marxist ideology has remained in China these days. The dictatorship is certainly still there – but only to support an essentially capitalist economy, which is farther away from the orthodoxy of Marxism than even the United States or Europe today. China increasingly resembles the Chile of Pinochet rather than the ideal of the Communist Manifesto. Capitalism works, you know.
Even European socialists – who seldom learn from history – in the last ten years talk about the “role of entrepreneurship” in Europe. The Lisbon strategy adopted in 2000 was supposed to encourage that entrepreneurship and restore Europe economically. It never happened, largely because the socialist leaders of Europe left it to the bureaucrats to revive European entrepreneurship. But at least, the willingness for ideological compromise was there.
Economic bankruptcy makes socialists willing to forget their economic ideology. Political bankruptcy has the same effect on them. When in the 1980s Communism in Eastern Europe had spent all the political capital it had, the leaders of the Eastern European dictatorships eventually tried to find a solution by relinquishing one of the central tenets of Marxism – the one-party system. “Liberal democracies” were ridiculed before by orthodox Communists; then “liberal democracy” suddenly became the fad of the day, and the perestroika was supposed to restore it in the Communist countries as a “step to a better Communism.”
Those were economic and political bankruptcy. Socialism could survive those, as long as its moral sway over its followers remained strong. As long as the voters believed in the cherished socialist ideals of redistributing wealth, government control, political dictatorship by an “enlightened elite,” socialists were willing to sacrifice ideological orthodoxy in the political and economic area to remain in power.
But these days socialism is facing a bankruptcy from which it may never recover: Moral bankruptcy. It lacks moral legitimacy. It has no new appealing message to the masses. It has no attractiveness anymore beyond a small circle of elitist intellectuals. It sounds pathetically old-fashioned. The enthusiasm is lost, and, as Mehdi Hasan rightly points out, in the US the “Christian right is in ascendancy.” (He knows whatever is in ascendancy in the US today, will be so in Europe in a decade. It’s a proven historical trend.)
President Obama’s rise and fall is the most alarming indicator of it. No socialist has ever won such a victory before. And no politician in history has experienced such a sharp fall in popularity after his victory – all because of his socialist policies. What was supposed to be the ultimate victory of socialism in the US turned out to be its defeat, and apparently its final defeat, judging from the lack of vision and ideas. The Left is in the awkward position of still wielding the political power in both the United States and Europe, and not knowing what to do with it. Anything they do is interpreted against them. The old comfortable conditions of passing laws without public scrutiny are gone.
And what is even more disturbing to the socialist elites, the Christian right is not silent anymore. It has a moral indictment against every socialist policy and against every tenet of the socialist philosophy. And socialism has no answer. It is bankrupt. It is running out of moral legitimacy. And because of that, socialism is running out of manpower. And apparently, from the quality of Hasan’s article, it is running out of brainpower.
Hasan is forced to write such a stupid and illogical article about Jesus. Of course he doesn’t believe a word of what he himself says. For someone who marches under the banner of a wolf in sheep’s clothes, we know what he really believes about Christianity and Christ. (Seriously, Mehdi, do you expect many Christians to believe you?) Any concession to Christianity and Christ is an ideological compromise, just like Lenin’s New Economic Policy and the Gorbachev’s perestroika. But Hasan has no other option.
His rationale is this: religion proved to survive much better than expected. It apparently not only survived the “age of reason” but even managed to increase in popularity. Well, it certainly worked well as a tool for the conservative right in gaining popularity and moral legitimacy. Why not use it as a tool for the left? Why not use Jesus as a tool, too?
But he has a problem there: Jesus is not a fiction. He is real. And He is no one’s tool. And He is not “unemployed.” He is in the business of throwing socialism on the dustbin of history. Hasan better make peace with Him and repent, before it’s too late.
- Equilibristics is a blanket term for a number of circus skills which involve balancing or maintaining equilibrium. The term applies equally to acts in which the performer balances on a prop, and acts in which the performer balances or spins a prop.(↩)