(Written for the People’s National Party—P. N. P.-of Jamaica, 1965)
By Bertell Ollman
Is this true? Listen to the words of Jesus and decide for yourselves whether Socialism is Practical Christianity.
SOCIALISM MEANS BROTHERHOOD:
“all ye are brethren.” (Matthew”23;8)
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”(Matthew: 22; 39)
“All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew: 7; 12)
“Let everyone who possesses two shirts share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.” (Luke: 3; 11)
“Give to every man that asketh of thee.” (Luke: 6; 30)
SOCIALISM MEANS JUSTICE:
“Give and it shall be given unto you…for with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke: 6; 38)
SOCIALISM MEANS BEING FOR POOR PEOPLE AND AGAINST THEIR OPPRESSORS:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…to preach deliverance to the captives.” (Luke: 4; 18)
SOCIALISM MEANS OPPOSITION TO THE GREEDY RICH:
“Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.”(Luke: 6; 24).
“No man can serve two masters…Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew: 6; 24)
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”(Matthew: 19; 23)
SOCIALISM MEANS CHRISTIAN CONCERN FOR SOCIAL PROBLEMS:
Jesus’ life, as well as his teachings, was a model of concern for his fellow human beings. Though poor in material things, he and his disciples shared what they had with all about them. For centuries afterwards, those who called themselves Christians were most noteworthy for the cooperative fellowship that characterized the community in which Jesus lived. For these men, Christianity was a matter of making over their lives to bring the greatest good to mankind. So, too, for many of the early Christian missionaries who came to Jamaica. It was Churchmen like Knibb, Burchell and Sharpe who fought the planters and got slavery abolished. Land settlement to provide land for the freed slaves and public education for the children of the poor also came about through the efforts of these true Christians. George Williams Gordon and Bogle of St. Thomas were Churchmen who were willing to suffer martyrdom to improve the conditions of the people.
SOCIALISM MEANS THE SOLUTION:
Then, as now, it was not possible to love God without loving one’s fellow man, and putting this love into practice. In the modern period, unemployment and its accompanying ills have replaced slavery as the principal evil. Today in Jamaica no true Christian can remain indifferent while hundreds of thousands of his countrymen are ill-fed, badly housed, illiterate, and without proper medical care. Pained by the sight of so much suffering, many high minded Christians have turned to socialism as the solution.
SOCIALISM MEANS AN END TO CAPITALIST INJUSTICE:
Capitalism, the system under which we are now living, may be described as a way of life in which, “One soweth, and another reapeth”(John: 4; 37). Well might we say to the wealthy few who own our large estates and factories what Jesus said to his disciples: “you…reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor”(John: 4; 38). The capitalists cease from resting only to eat, while you cease from working only to rest, and eat only when you can. Do you believe that Jesus favored such injustice, he who said, “by their fruits ye shall know them”(Mathew: 7; 20)? The fruits of capitalism in Jamaica can be seen even by the blind; they are poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime, greed, and disease. Could the kind and loving Jesus have wanted us to live like this?
SOCIALISM MEANS LIVING THE GOLDEN RULE:
Socialism is the exact opposite of capitalism. In socialism, every man carries an equal burden of work and shares equally in the good things that society has to offer. There is no poverty, because all the idle land and machines have been put to use to produce the things people want. Production is aimed at satisfying the needs of the masses rather than the profit interest of a few. There is no unemployment, because a plan has been created to put everyone to work. Illiteracy is soon abolished, and the diseases that plague people are reduced to the few for which advanced medicine has not found a cure. Each individual is given the chance of developing himself to the fullest, with everyone helping him in whatever way they can. The Golden Rule—”as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise”(Luke: 6; 31)—has become the rule which all men follow in their daily lives.
SOCIALISM MEANS THE PEOPLE OWN THEIR COUNTRY:
The journey to socialism is long and hard; but Jesus never said Christianity was easy. The road to socialism passes by way of public ownership of large estates and factories, that is the replacement of private capitalists by the workers, the consumers, the local community, or the national Government. In this way people will own their places of work, either directly or through some body duly elected to represent them. If a man works on his own as a farmer or craftsman, he will continue to do so or become a member of a local cooperative. The choice is his, and, no matter what he chooses, socialism will bring him outstanding benefits in the way of a fair price for his products, security during ill health and old age, greatly improved educational, medical, recreational, and cultural facilities, and much else. Those who work for large firms and estates, on the other hand, will become the common owners of their enterprises. Throughout, cooperation, the brotherhood called for in Christ’s teachings, is at the center of socialism, and it will be encouraged in all walks of life and by every possible means.
SOCIALISM DOES NOT MEAN WHAT ITS ENEMIES SAYS IT DOES:
There are a few rich people in Jamaica who hate socialism, because it would take away their special privileges and make them our equals. These selfish men, who own the press and the radio, try to scare people by telling them lies about socialism. These are the “false prophets” of our day. Jesus, too, had put up with many lies told by those who disliked his teachings. Here are some of the worst lies you are likely to hear about socialism. Don’t you be fooled.
It is a LIE that socialism is against Christianity. How can it be when socialism is Christianity put into practice? It is a LIE that people cannot worship freely in socialism. It is a LIE that socialism means cutting your goat or house in two and giving half to the government. It is a LIE that socialism means that the small farmer will have his land taken away from him. It is a LIE that socialism will make us all prisoners of the Russians or the Chinese or the Cubans. What nonsense, yet our capitalists are counting on you to believe it.
SOCIALISM IS COMING—WITH YOUR HELP:
If, indeed, SOCIALISM IS PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY, it is the duty of every Christian to help bring it about as quickly as possible. Keep in mind—all that is needed to win a victory for EQUALITY and BROTHERHOOD is for enough of you, the people of Jamaica, to want it and to will it. In politics, as in religious matters, we have much to learn from Jesus’ words:
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you”(Mathew: 7; 7).
Your children are depending on you. Don’t fail them.
Contrary to expectations, Ollman is a Jew from Milwaukee and not a black Jamaican Christian at all. Currently Professor of politics at New York University, where my nephew is currently a student, he is best known for his marxist board game ‘Class Struggle’ and for resigning from the Jewish faith in 2005 as a protest against Israel! Amazingly, while we studied at Oxford and at the University of the West Indies at the same time, we never met, and I only heard of him for the first time this week. Pity – I’d love to have met him then.
Fast forward to the Jamaica of 1974 and we see that the leader of the PNP considered naming the party ‘Christian Socialist’. Instead
“To guard against the danger of hostility and divisiveness, we used the slogan ‘Socialism is Love’. At the same time, we wished to make a connection between the secular philosophy which we were developing and the natural experience of cooperation and good deeds which the people derive from their Christian faith and church experience. Hence we used the phrase ‘Socialism is Christianity in Action.’ All of this was in keeping with the level of development within the party at that time and the objective conditions existing in the country. But those simple and quite sincere expressions of faith and intention did not save the country from what was to come. The reaction to them was eventually manipulated to such heights of ferocity that our final defeat was accomplished in a hail of bullets and a river of blood.”
(Norman Manley “Jamaica. Struggle in the periphery” Third World Media Limited (1982)p.123,124)
Related Zingcreed Posts:
Similarities between Christianity & Socialism
Marx’s 3 criticisms of religion
The opium of the people
Alienation according to Karl Marx
Jesus or Marx? A fun quiz for all the family
Two red Jewesses
Rosa Luxemburg on Christianity & Socialism
Marx’s Christian roots
The christian roots of communism
Jesus’s communist brother James (i) his life
Is communism a religion in its own right?
Jesus’s real political message
Alphabetical index for ‘Red Christian’ & ‘Red Christian documents’ & Caribbean Posts
[290 linked & indexed, t&c]