Friday, 19 February 2016

In The Days of Bernie Sanders: Karl Barth on Socialism

Bernie Sanders rise to become the contender for the presidency has been a wonder to behold. In recent days articles exploring his democratic socialism and Jewish ethical core have appeared in various places (see here for the latter). Religion New Service recently argued that Sanders may be the most Christian candidate. I thought I'd post this provocative quote from Karl Barth for those pondering Bernie's socialist politics from a Christian perspective:

"I have become a socialist in a very simple way, and I live socialism in a very simple way. Because I would like to believe in God and God's kingdom, I place myself at the point where I see something of God's kingdom break through...I think I can see the mistakes of socialism and its proponents very clearly. But much more clearly I see the grounding thought, in the essential endeavor of socialism, a revelation of God which I must recognize before all and about which I must be delighted. The new society, which is based on the foundation of community and justice, instead of capriciousness and the law of the jungle, the new order of work in the sense of common activity for all instead of the in the sense of exploitation through egotism of the individual, the new connection of humans as humans over the barrier of class and nations...finally the way to this goal: the simple brotherhood and solidarity [that appear] first among the poor and under-priveleged of all countries-I must recognize all these new features, which socialism brings into political and economic life, as something new from God's side...Socialism-despite its imperfections, which people should discuss calmly and openly-is for me one of the most gratifying signs for the fact that God's kingdom does not stand still, that God is at work, and hence I may not and cannot stand against it indifferently....From the sentiment of duty, that tells me: this is where you belong, if you take God in earnest. Through my membership in the Social Democratic Party I believe to confess a very important point in complete plainness to myself and to my parish that God must come to honor...People may cling to religion and still associate themselves with another party or remain without a party...But I cannot find the kingdom of God there, where people again and again make money more important than the human beings, where possession is again and again the scale of all value, where people set the nation over humanity in anxiety and small mindedness, where people believe more in the present than in the future."
(From a 1915 sermon, in Paul S. Chung, Barth: God's Word in Action)

1 comment:

  1. Karl Barth was totally pro-life on abortion. He would be horrified by Bernie Sanders 100% pro-abortion stance, even supporting partial-birth abortion. "The unborn child is from the very first a child. It is still developing and has no independent life. But it is a man and not a thing, nor a mere part of the mother's body.... He who destroys germinating life kills a man.... The fact that a definite NO must be the presupposition of further discussion cannot be contested, least of all today."