Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jesus & Marx: On The Purity Of Poverty

A Matter of Faith

In this article, George Jochnowitz examines the similarities between the teachings of Jesus and Karl Marx, notably as it applies to the doctrine of poverty and its agreement with purity of faith. While many Christians today reject this teaching; they are neither poor nor advocate poverty, it remains in the Christian canon as part of the original teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Marxism drew some of its inspiration from Christianity and from the fertile soil of nineteenth century Christian Europe; and today much of liberal Christianity (e.g., liberation theology) is Marxist in nature. It is important to note that Karl Marx's father, a Jew, had converted to Christianity a year or so before Karl was born, doing so for practical economic reasons; even so, Marx had always identified himself as an atheist, and like all unhappy radicals rejected all past traditions. As Prof. Jochnowitz writes: "Marxism failed because it is cruel; it is cruel because it is a Christian sect. Like Christianity, Marxism rejects the needs of this world as selfish. Like Christianity, Marxism predicts an inevitable future when everything will be perfect and disagreement will end."

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by George Jochnowitz

"For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25), said Jesus. "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle," says the Communist Manifesto.

Jesus and Marx agree on this question. Poor is pure; the poor will enter the kingdom of heaven; the proletariat will win the class struggle leading to the inevitable arrival of the final stage of history: communism.

Poverty is beautiful. This is the conclusion that must be drawn by those who believe the poor are better than the rich. A Christian who decides to enter a nunnery or a monastery in order to serve God must take a vow of poverty.

Capitalism was considered bad not simply because it oppressed the poor, but because those who lived under capitalism desired to be rich; they were selfish. In a socialist society, on the other hand, nobody should desire to be richer than anyone else. Poverty is a sacrifice that the people should make for the benefit of society as a whole. Somehow there was no understanding of the fact that society was composed of the same people who were called upon to sacrifice for society. If poverty is beautiful, sacrifice then becomes an end in itself.

Marxism failed because it is cruel; it is cruel because it is a Christian sect. Like Christianity, Marxism rejects the needs of this world as selfish. Like Christianity, Marxism predicts an inevitable future when everything will be perfect and disagreement will end. And like Christianity when it had the power to do so, Marxism sentences heretics to death.

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George Jochnowitz was born in New York City, in 1937.  He became aware of different regional pronunciations when he was six, and he could consciously switch accents as a child. He got his Ph.D. in linguistics from Columbia University and taught linguistics at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.  His area of specialization was Jewish languages, in particular, Judeo-Italian dialects.  As part of a faculty-exchange agreement with Hebei University in Baoding, China, he was in China during the Tiananmen Massacre. He can be reached at george@jochnowitz.net.

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Copyright ©2012. George Jochnowitz. All Rights Reserved. This post can be found on George Jochnowitz.   It is republished here with the author's permission.