Application of the Critical Theory

Voodoo-thinking and Christian Conservatives:
Responding to P.J. O'Rourke Sermon

By Walter Jensen
Sun, 25 Feb 2001 14:04:03 -0500

I would like to thank Matthew Rupert (former president of the Atheist Society at WMU) for forwarding the article "Closing the Wealth Gap," by P.J. O'Rourke, to me. This article made its way to him by way of Max Goss (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship - WMU Chapter) and Scott Erbe (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship - ??? Chapter). O'Rourke's remarks were delivered at a June 1997 Cato conference in Shanghai, China. Mr. O'Rourke is a member of the H. L. Mencken Research Group at the Cato Institute. The speech (sermon?) is concerning collectivism and economics seen through the eyes, which I perceive to be, of a Christian conservative. It is an excellent example of the fear that is produced when ever Marx's critique of capitalism is remembered. This fear is due to the Christian conservative's perception that Marx was an atheist to Christianity. It stems from a 'slippery slope' type thinking that if Marx's critique of capitalism is correct, an atheist is correct, and therefor God does not exist. Yes, I know. That last sentence had the most incredible leap of faith within it. However, this is the normal leap that nearly every Christian conservative makes when ever he or she hears the words collectivism, socialism, communism, or marxism.

In the beginning of his speech, O'Rourke states, "The foundation of collectivism is simple: There should be no important economic differences among people. No one should be too rich. No one should be too poor. We should 'close the wealth gap.' This is a very powerful idea. This is a very common idea. This is a very bad idea. 'Gaps'--differences--are innate to mankind. Do we want to close the 'beauty gap' and make every woman look like Margaret Thatcher? Do we want to close the 'talent gap' and field a World Cup football team starring, for example, the people on this panel?"

Did you catch the leap of faith? Wow, what a jump! No one would disagree that differences are inherent to human kind. However, biological differences do not demand nor assert economic differences. In other words, O'Rourke comparison is in error because he is comparing apples to cement blocks. In my understanding of Marx, nowhere does Marx make the claim that he wants to cause biological sameness. It appears that O'Rourke is ignorant on the differences between capitalism and marxism. This confusion is not his fault, it is the fault of US educational system that only teaches capitalism. Let me quickly explain the differences between capitalism and marxism.

As I understand it, the central message of Marxism comes in two parts: economic equality and labor equality. Economic equality is a simple notion in which everyone has the same access to the resources on this planet regardless of race, sex, or genealogy. Labor equality can be summarized into a simple phrase: "Everyone works." These assertions are radically different from capitalism.

The central message of capitalism also comes in two parts: economic inequality and labor inequality. Economic inequality is the idea that those who either inherit their wealth and/or convince others to produce wealth for them have access to all the resources on this planet. Meaning, the employees have limited or no access to all the resources. Labor inequality is the idea that those who inherit and/or exploit are exempt from work. The variety of capitalism in the US is composed of 50% socialistic philosophy (redistribution of wealth) AND 50% fascist philosophy (consolidation of wealth for a select few and the fascist transformation of Darwin's theory - 'survival of the most adaptative' TO - 'survival of the strongest').

O'Rourke states, "But proposing to close the "wealth gap" is worse than silly. It entails a lie. The notion of economic equality is based on an ancient and ugly falsehood central to bad economic thinking: There's a fixed amount of wealth. Wealth is zero-sum. If I have too many cups of tea, you have to lick the tea pot. But wealth is based on productivity. Productivity is expandable. Otherwise there wouldn't be any economic thinking, good or bad, or any tea or tea pots either."

What is wrong with the statements above? Plenty! However, the main error in O'Rourke's statement is the phrase "wealth is based on productivity," one of the central lies of capitalism. Productivity is a tool to measure the amount of surplus value that is taken from the employee by the capitalist. Wealth is NOT based on productivity. Wealth is based on work. Capitalists don't work! Capitalist stand between wealth and work in order to leach off the labor of the employee so they (the capitalist) don't have to work but can still enjoy the wealth. Therefore, the crime of every capitalist is theft. If you steal by the use of a good lie (such as the lie that employee cannot create his or her own wares without the capitalist, 'everyone can become a capitalist,' or 'everyone can become a millionaire'), it's still stealing.

The employee cannot experience all the wealth that they produce if the employee is supporting the capitalist. In other words, the capitalist either exploits (stealing, is the best way of phrasing it) the wealth (the product of the employees' work) from their employees and/or inherits the employees wealth from their parents, who exploited the last generation of employees. Therefore, the thing that makes the capitalist richer makes the employee poorer. If there are enough capitalist leaching off the employee, the employee dies. As a side note, let me remind Mr. O'Rourke that an employee is not a partner to a capitalist because the employee is not the capitalist's equal. Only other capitalists have the possibility, let me repeat, have the possibility of being seen as potential equal.

Do you see my underlying point? If not, here it is.

*** Capitalism is the ultimate perversion of Christianity. ***

I can hear you scratching your head, asking the question, "Why would anyone want to get another to believe that Christianity gives its blessing to Capitalism?" Answer: Christian conservatives perpetuate the idea by telling what they 'think' is a small lie (the lie that Capitalism is endorsed by God) in order to hide the truth that there is a possibility that God may not exist. In other words, the ends justify the means. Christian conservatives see the questioning of God's existence as the ultimate disaster. As a side note, one cannot forget the demonization of Marx helps the capitalists maintain their control and ownership of wealth. In order to make this point crystal clear to Christian conservatives that Capitalism is a perversion of Christianity, let me give a biblical explanation why Capitalism is NOT endorsed by God.

Do you recall the story of Cain and Abel? If you don't, please reread Genesis 4: 1-16 and come back. I can wait. Cain murdered Abel. Why? The answer is simple: jealousy and envy. The answer to the first question raises a more important second question. Why was Cain jealous and envious of Abel? Again, the answer is simple: Cain was lazy and greedy.

So the Lord said to Cain:'Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master' (Genesis 4:6-7 - The New American Bible)

I am no theologian. However, it is self-evident what God is talking about. What is God talking about? Work! If you work hard, you will create wonderful wares (wealth). If you don't, you will create inferior wares. Abel worked hard, produced a good flock, and then shared one of the best firstlings of his flock with God. Abel gained God's favor. On the other hand, Cain did not work as hard, produced an average crop, and offered an average sample of his crops to God. For this offer Cain did not gain God's favor. To summarize, Abel worked very hard and shared the very best of his wares with God. Cain worked just enough to get by and shared his mediocre wares with God. In the end, Cain destroyed his competition (murdering Abel) and lost God's favor entirely. As one of the few examples in the bible on what you should do, the murder of Abel teaches Christians to be happy with the wares that one creates with their own work. As you can plainly see, the story of murder of Abel is NOT an endorsement of capitalism.

Miscellaneous comments on the rest of O'Rourke's statements. As for O'Rourke's belief that the phrase "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is a lie, it's not a lie! It is the truth, a simple fact. The rich did get richer and the poor did get poorer during the Reagan/Bush years. I suggest that Mr. O'Rourke read the
 U.S. Bureau of the Census,
 Current Population Reports,
 Series P60-210,
 Poverty in the United States: 1999.
He should take a look at the Poverty 1999 Graph, entitled Number of Poor and Poverty Rate: 1959 to 1999. He should pay particular attention of which president was in power when the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. I thought this was so important, I copied the graph to my web page ( and added red lines to mark off the time periods of which president was in office when. For more evidence that the statement "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is a truthful statement during the Reagan/Bush nightmare he should read "The Rich get Richer and the Poor get Prison" by Jeffrey Reiman. What is more important, that was not addressed by O'Rourke, is why the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

Mr. O'Rourke should take a look at the G7 countries and see how many of them are doing better than the US. He would be surprised on the number of socialistic countries that are doing better then the US. (As a side note, all of these socialistic countries have a clearly defined wall that separates church from state (and yes, the general population still believes in the concept of God)). I wonder if O'Rourke has ever read the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS for short). This study shows that the US is not as great, in math and science, as so many Americans think it is.

As for O'Rourke's remarks concerning the Ten Commandments, I have two questions.
#1 - Which Ten Commandments? The ones found in Exodus 20 or in Exodus 34. If he is confused about what I mean, he should read
#2 - O'Rourke sounds like a Christian. If he is a Christian, why is he trying to use the Jewish law to prove his Christian conservative point? When did he become Jew? I am not making the claim that there is something wrong with the Jewish faith, being a Jew, or being a believer in any faith. What I am stating is that he should stay inside his religion. Why doesn't he use the 6 Commandments of Jesus to prove his point? If he doesn't remember the 6 Commandments of Jesus, he should reread Matthew 19:18-24. Capitalism violates the 3rd commandment of Jesus. P.S. Mr. O'Rourke - Don't read Matthew 19: 21-22, you might think Jesus is a communist.

I agree with 1/4 of what O'Rourke was saying concerning stealing and the poor. However, this is what should have been said... Not that we should begrudge the crimes of those employees who steals from their own employers. They're just using a form of personal justice to return the wealth that was or has already been stolen from them personally or from past generations of their heritage. What would be better is to stop the Capitalists from stealing. Would this not be justice? To return what was stolen?

To conclude my remarks, Capitalism is a deceitful and greedy way to allow lazy people to live off others. It's also cowardly because the thief is covered by subterfuge. But the employees will never over come the capitalists as long as the employees keeps believing the lies that that are perpetuated by Christian conservatives, Capitalists, and Fascists. Here are just a few of those lies:
 Capitalists don't control the guns that government uses to kill or intimidate the employees,
 Everybody knows his or her own wealth,
 Everybody has the same access to education,
 Everybody has the same access to the resources of this planet,
 The lives of the people around you would be better if you got rich,
 Economic liberty makes people rich,
 There is economic liberty, and the greatest lie of them all
 Capitalism is endorsed by God (providing that 'God' even exists).

To end this message, a remarks about O'Rourke. I believe that he would gain much by reading the following:
The introduction to Marx's the Capital,
Fromm's "Dogma of Christ,"
Maurice Cornforth's "Materialism and the Dialectical Method," and
"A Reader in Political Theology".

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