David Bentley Hart’s case for socialism

Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart takes a break from theology to talk briefly about his political views; he is, he reveals, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

His rant on socialism and the popular American distaste for it is too good to not share (though rather long):

I realize that in America, alone among nations with developed economies, the word “socialism” has a sinister ring in many ears. I take this as a symptom of our unique national genius for stupidity. I am well aware of how badly the various parts of a “socialized” economy can at times be managed (the tales I could tell of my experiences with the NHS); but, well managed, they make for a far more humane governing philosophy than ours, and one that comes as close to something like “Distributist” justice in the use of property and wealth as we can hope for under current circumstances. So I find it very odd that, when we look at those nations of northern and western Europe that enjoy the benefits of sane socialist policies, as a result of both their Social Democratic and their Christian Democratic traditions—nations, like Germany or Denmark or France, where the cost of healthcare per capita is far lower and yet coverage is universal, where life spans are longer, where working people are not rendered bankrupt by serious illnesses, where the children of the poor cannot be denied expensive treatments by predatory insurance adjusters, where people have far more savings in bank and endure much lower levels of debt, where wages generally keep pace with inflation, where every worker has decent vacation time each year, where suicide and opioid addiction are not the default lifestyle of the working poor, where homelessness has been nearly abolished, where retirement care is humane and comprehensive, where schools are immeasurably better, where literacy is far higher…—we recoil in horror and thank God that we are free from such things. Surely, we tell ourselves, these are curses, only a few steps away from the gulags. We know that civic wealth is not meant for civic welfare, but is supposed to be diverted into the pockets of the military-industrial complex, by the needless purchase each year of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons systems that will never be used, or is supposed to be squandered through unneeded tax cuts for the very richest of the investment class. We know that when the child of a working family is diagnosed with cancer, that the child should be denied the most expensive treatments, even if they alone can possibly save him or her, and then should probably die, and that his or her family should be utterly impoverished in the process. We call this, I believe, being free. And, as long as we have access to all the guns we could ever need to fight off invasions from Venus, what more can we ask?


A Brief Political Confession

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.