The powerful religion of Karl Marx and of Islam leads to the powerful political system of totalitarianism, which leads to the powerful economic system of Marxism, which impoverishes its people. How we see God has a lot to do with how we see our fellow man.
Belief – Politics – Economics
When I wrote the curriculum for International Economics at Dallas Baptist University, I used this simple diagram to begin each session. Belief systems produce political systems, which produce economic systems. I know, there is a lot of interplay and it goes back and forth. But the diagram is mostly correct.
That’s why we should not be surprised that the Muslim Palestinians of Hamas have a totalitarian political system and a socialist economic system. Power begets power. All three of those systems are based on power structures.
If Israel didn’t exist, the Palestinians would still live in abject poverty. That is not Israel’s fault. It’s a cultural thing. In most cases, the powerful top-down religion of Islam does not produce a bottom-up political system like democracy, nor an economic system like free market capitalism that enriches the poor.
What we study in social science is differences. That’s it. We want to know why there are differences in the world. Economics is a social science. So, we want to know why the Israelis make $55,000, their neighbors, the Jordanians and Lebanese make less than $13,000, and the Palestinians make under $7,000. Israelis make eight times more than their Palestinian neighbors. Why? Top-down religions like Islam identify more easily with top-down political ideas like totalitarianism, and top-down economics like Marxism.
That happens to be the title of my podcast #106. That one is based on some comments by Dr. David Jeremiah. I am struggling through a book right now titled The Devil and Karl Marx by Paul Kengor. The subtitle is “Communism’s long march of death, deception, and infiltration.” That sounds like the recent Hamas attack on Israel, doesn’t it? The book I’m currently reading is hard to read because Karl Marx was such an evil person. If you are sickened by the atrocities performed by Hamas against Israelis recently, then you won’t want to read the book. Karl Marx exercised power whenever he could. He impregnated his housemaid, who was about as close to an owned servant as you can get. Two of his daughters committed suicide. His personal life is as disordered and calamitous as the economic system he designed. He bullied people on many occasions, and very rarely worked. He lived off his partner, Friedrich Engels. Maybe I’ll explain more about his disastrous and immoral life in another podcast someday. For now, just be assured, that in his personal life and in Marxism, it’s all based on power.
At the heart of Marxism is the idea of the oppressors and the oppressed. It’s such a lousy economic system because it fails to recognize that both parties in a transaction can benefit at the same time. Milton Friedman famously said, “Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.” Well, Marxism is one of those economic fallacies. The left thinks Israel’s prosperity was caused by the Jews stealing wealth from the Palestinians. That’s not how it works.
About those oppressed and oppressors. There are about 475 million Arabs in the countries that surround Israel. Their population increased by 8.2 million last year alone. There are…. are you ready for it……just over 7 million Jews in Israel. Get it? The Arab population increase in ONE YEAR was greater than the entire Jewish population. But we’re being told that 7 million people oppress 475 million?
You see, some of this misaligned sympathy for the Palestinians is because they are portrayed as the oppressed. That’s just nonsense. They are poor because their religion produces totalitarian political systems and socialist economic systems that impoverish them.
Barton Swain authored an article in the Wall Street Journal recently titled, “The Marxian Roots of Campus Anti-Semitism.” The subtitle is “The left can’t behold Israel’s prosperity without concluding that the Jews have stolen their wealth from their neighbors.” He explains, “It was Karl Marx who, in “Das Kapital,” first argued that the wage earner in a capitalist economy never works for himself but only for the owner of the means of production. The capitalist appropriated as “profit” his “surplus labor”—that is, work beyond what was necessary to keep the operation going. The taking of surplus labor Marx called “exploitation.” This little idea—that the wealthy capitalist makes his millions by expropriating what rightly belongs to the worker—cast a spell on the minds of 19th- and early-20th-century radical intellectuals.”
Again: That’s NOT how it works. In free market capitalist systems, BOTH parties get richer at the same time. We call it consumer surplus and producer surplus, but I don’t have time to give that lecture today.
The great Thomas Sowell earns another citation by the Christian Economist. In his most recent book titled Social Justice Fallacies, he explains how the entire social justice nonsense is based on the belief that if one group does well and another doesn’t, the rich folks must have taken advantage of the poor folks. That’s Marxian thinking, and that’s NOT how it works.
Don’t Confuse Education and Intelligence
How did the Germans, the most educated and sophisticated culture in history, become the sponsors of the holocaust? Look who’s protesting FOR Hamas today: It’s not truck drivers and fast-food workers: It’s the supposedly intelligent folks at the Universities. Which gives the name to this section of the podcast. Don’t confuse education and intelligence. You can be highly educated, but not highly intelligent. And to assume education has ANYTHING to do with morality is a tremendously false assumption.
Oh, I just can’t miss the opportunity to mention a book I read a few years ago by Naomi Schaefer Reilly. It’s called The Faculty Lounges. The subtitle is “And other reasons why you won’t get the college education you paid for.” “Lounges” is a verb, not a noun. She explains that once they make tenure, faculty don’t work very hard.
Back to the power idea. Islam is based on power. Islam is the religion of submission, even though they often try to tell you it’s the religion of peace. So, this powerful religion has no time for education.
My podcast #100 is titled Takers are not Makers. The Israeli culture is a MAKING culture, while the Palestinians have a TAKING culture. I was lecturing on a cruise ship some years ago, and a Jewish guy from Houston asked if I had read the book titled Start-Up Nation. At his recommendation, I read it. It describes how the Israelis have developed a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s really fascinating. So, they have used this entrepreneurial spirit – what I would call their “Made in God’s Image creativity” to enrich themselves.
Niall Ferguson at the Hoover Institution points out that Free market capitalism has the element that continues to allow Marxism to flourish: The freedom to be stupid. Marxism does not contain that flaw. Citizens in repressive nations are not allowed to express free market capitalist ideas, so once they adopt a totalitarian political system, Marxist economics usually follows. As Fox business expert Charles Payne said, “You can only vote for Socialism once.”
Relativism and Postmodernity
When Abraham decided there was only one God, the world changed. If there was only one God, then there could be right and wrong. But if everyone had their own god (small g) then a number of things could be right. Relativists are trying to change the world back to a pre-Abraham way of thinking. But it doesn’t make any sense. The phrase “everything is relative,” is an absolute statement.
Ginger and I were on a bus in France a few years ago, and someone cited a French philosopher as a Great humanist. I whispered to Ginger, “Without God (large G) there can’t be great and non-great, because it’s all relative.”
But then, as Ginger often says to me, “There you go, thinking again.” And supporters of Hamas are not thinking. We’re living in this strange time when emoting and virtue signaling are viewed as a legitimate form of academic discussion. Many faculty members are afloat in a world that teaches people to discover “their truth.” Many universities are enmeshed in relativism, moral emptiness, and nihilism.
A powerful religion leads to a powerful political system which leads to a powerful economic system that impoverishes its participants.
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