During the July 4th weekend, a group of academics and thought leaders in the US gathered in the city of Chicago for a strategic conference. The aims were clearly stated in the title - Socialism 2019: No Borders, No Bosses, No Binaries.
Over at the National Interest, editor Jarrett Stepman recounts his attendance at the conference where he noted some things about the new socialism movement. This is, of course, of interest to anyone watching our current political moment as we hear voices pull toward "democratic socialism" or "anit-totalitarian" socialism which are supposedly different than socialist movements of the past, but attendees at the conference did little to hide their affection for Marx or other socialists of the past according Stepman.
For Christians (and even conservatives) who have long argued that the basic unit of a society is the family, Stepman pointed out the ongoing attack on the traditional family. "Traditional family structures propped up oppression and the modern transgender movement plays a critical part in achieving true 'reproductive justice,'" stated a panelist at the "Social Reproduction Theory and Gender Liberation" session. The traditional family is what maintains capitalism and must be destroyed. Thus, panelist Corrie Westing advocated for "connecting the issues of gender justice as integral to economic and social justice." Only then can a non-binary personhood be established which will free humanity from the enslavement of the family.
Stepman went on to recount the strategic partnerships of the conference with media that has influence on young adults including a panel hosted by Teen Vogue. The News and Politics editor, Lucy Diavolo boasted, "I encourage you to read Teen Vogue's coverage of social justice issues, capitalism, revolutionary theory, and Karl Marx, or you can check out the right-wing op-eds that accuse me of 'clickbait communism' and teaching your daughters Marxism and revolution." When the crowd responded enthusiastically, Davolo boasted, "the barbarians are beyond the gates. We are in the tower."
In the tower, indeed.
Baptists have long understood that ideas matter. This is why Baptists have long argued for freedom of religion in the social arena in order to give all people the right to express their ideas while at the same time, giving Baptists the right to express their thoughts as well. It is also why Baptists in America sacrificed and invested in creating educational systems - both at the collegiate and graduate level.
Along with Stepman, I would be willing to bet that many of the ideas of the Communism 2019 conference would receive quick rejection by the average American as rather far from what we believe. We are well aware that the basic ideas of the Communism 2019 conference have long haunted the halls of academic idealism. The true realities of communism in history are painful scars of political brutality and economic ruin. But give those ideas, now made popular, another generation to marinate in Universities, High Schools, and grade schools, and see if we don't have further problems down the road.
This is why our Baptist Universities must continue to be on the forefront of teaching clear economics, philosophy, history, and an honest understanding of the right ways to exercise compassion and justice within a biblical framework. This foundation in the liberal arts is why our universities continue to turn out students who think well, but are unafraid to engage the challenging dialogue of today's culture. At the seminary where these students enter my graduate classroom, I'm always thankful for the college professors who understand that ideas matter while at the same time advancing life answers that are Biblical, well reasoned, compassionate, and just.
Ideas matter. Ideas have consequences. Let's continue to advocate for what is right.
For Jarrett Stepman's article, click HERE.
For Socialism 2019, click HERE.
For resources to educate yourself or your student about alternate ways of thinking about compassion, justice and economic structures, visit the resource-rich Acton Institute.
John Mark Yeats