Job, God, Satan, and Socialism

To understand this book, we must understand Satan’s motivation in life and his method. His motivation is to cut God down. He is unable to do this. He lacks power. He has a strategy: to thwart God’s dominion covenant with mankind. He understands that the conflict between him and God cannot be settled by power. He would lose. But God has enabled him to strike at Him covenantally through mankind. Satan has more power than man does in history. The book of Job is the clearest presentation in the Bible on the nature of this confrontation.

God has a covenant with mankind. In the garden, the serpent, as Satan’s covenantal agent, confronted Eve, Adam’s agent. He deceived her. He told her that she could eat from the forbidden tree and gain a benefit: knowing good from evil. She would not suffer the promised negative sanction: death. Eve tested the serpent’s word by eating. Then Adam did. God brought negative sanctions. He definitively killed them on that day. The curse of death was on them and us. “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). He cast them out of the garden with only the clothes on their backs, which were provided by God by His grace. “The Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (v. 21). Their curse of death developed progressively until they died. Then to dust they returned.

What did Satan get out of this? First, he got satisfaction. He had brought God down a notch, or so it seemed. He seemingly had disrupted God’s plan for the ages by turning God’s designated trustees against Him. Second, he got power in history. He became the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He bought time for himself. This was a vast distribution of wealth and power: from mankind to Satan and his angelic host. He could not accomplish this by a direct assault of God. He could accomplish it only because God’s trustees are ethically vulnerable. He lured Adam into a disastrous act of theft. Theft is the archetypal sin for mankind.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

The evil monster can do nothing, unless we give him the tools to act.

But it is the poison in the human heart that Satan works with.

The book of Job is based on the covenantal structure of history. Righteousness brings positive sanctions; rebellion brings negative sanctions. This is stated most clearly in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Without this understanding, and without this presupposition, there cannot be Christian social theory of any kind. This system of sanctions is the covenantal foundation of all Christian social theory. If this system is not still in force, then there is no predictable relationship between righteousness and blessings, nor is there a predictable relationship between rebellion and cursing. If this is the case, then Satan has a fighting chance in history. If this is the case, then Satan can reward covenant-breakers, and they can gain control over the affairs of men. Satan dearly wants this to be the case. He is willing to intervene on the side of covenant-breakers by rewarding them handsomely, not because of his love for them, but because this seems to thwart God’s dominion covenant in history.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Satan hates the Dominion Covenant.

Satan hates justice.

Satan hates all humanity, men and women, boys and girls.

Satan hates God.

Satan’s plan for Job is clear to readers: he would bring negative sanctions against the most righteous covenant-keeper on earth. This would baffle Job. Why had these sanctions come on him and his family if covenantal causation in history is what God says it is: ethics-based? This confusion would break his commitment to God. God understood the logic of Satan’s position, and he authorized Satan to bring negative sanctions against his wealth, including the murder of all of his children.

Job still did not rebel. He uttered his famous words: “It is the Lord who gave, and it is the Lord who has taken away. May the name of the Lord be blessed.” So, Satan escalated the conflict. He told God that if God allowed him to take away Job’s health, then Job would curse him. God authorized this in Job 2. But his plan did not work with Job. It did work with his wife. “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You talk as a foolish woman talks. Should we receive the good from God and not receive the bad?’ In all this matter, Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9–10).

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Even in the hardest times, God is just. Even when we don’t understand His actions/refusal to act.

God let him conduct this test. Yet it is clear from the text that God had initiated this test. He had His own purposes. He did not explain these purposes to Satan. By not revealing the facts of this confrontation to Job, God never explained His purposes to Job. He did reveal this much to Job: He is absolutely sovereign, and therefore Job had no moral right to complain about what had happened to him. He revealed this in chapters 38–41. The one wise counselor who came to Job, Elihu, the fourth one, had told Job the same thing (Job 32–37). This is why God did not judge him at the end. He did judge the first three (Job 42:7–9).

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Life can be hard.

VERY hard.

And yet, God will lead His people to victory.

Wanton injustice like what happened to Job – or to Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom – or to so many black slaves – will grow less and less common, less and less successful.

Evil really does exist in the world… and it will be forced to retreat before the face of God.

My bold, below:

The book of Job rests on this presupposition: there is a predictable relationship between covenant-keeping and blessings. There is also a predictable relationship between covenant-breaking and curses. These sanctions are predictable in history. They do not apply solely to the afterlife. If this is not the presupposition of the book, then the book makes no sense. Job’s rebellion makes no sense. Satan’s temptation makes no sense. God’s provocation of Satan makes no sense.

The book of Job is about the redistribution of wealth by violence. Satan intervened in order to strip Job of his wealth and his health. There was no other way for him to persuade Job to rebel. He blamed God for having placed boundaries around Job’s wealth. That is, he blamed God for establishing Job’s property rights in his wealth. Satan railed against the legitimacy of these property rights. Job did not deserve such protection. Job was simply milking the system. Job was a hypocrite. Job was a rebel at heart. Take away his wealth, and he would openly defy God. Satan was ultimately saying that God’s protection of Job’s property was based on this fact: God is a fool. God can be easily conned by a con man. Job was the ultimate con man: an ethical con man. He pretended to adhere to the ethical terms of the covenant, but it was all a sham. Satan would prove to God that it was a sham. Satan would thereby prove to God that the covenantal predictability between righteousness and blessings is at bottom nothing but a subsidy to hypocrisy.

Once again, Satan proved himself to be a rebel. Once again, he struck out at God’s system of property rights through a covenant-keeper. This is Satan’s way to undermine God’s plan for history. He strips away visible blessings from a righteous man. This strategy was partially successful with Job, who did not curse God, but who demanded an accounting from God. Above all, this strategy was unsuccessful with Christ. Satan told Christ that if he would worship him, Satan would give Christ the whole world (Matthew 4:9). This was a lie. Satan did not own the whole world. He was not the Creator. Christ was. Christ was God come back into history in bodily form, just as He had revealed Himself to Adam, in order to reestablish the property rights of covenant-keepers to the whole world, which Adam had possessed. Christ would redeem them spiritually, and through them, redeem the world. To redeem is to buy back. Covenant-keepers would henceforth buy back the world as Christ’s trustees. They would not use violence or fraud. They would adhere to the law of the covenant. Christ definitively restored the dominion covenant as it had existed in the garden. His people are progressively to extend their dominion.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Satan, the Murderous – but Well-spoken – Revolutionary

Again, the bold is mine:

Theft is Satan’s supreme temptation to man. His goal is to reverse the dominion covenant in history. Again and again, Satan and his covenantal disciples challenged the legitimacy of the existing distribution of wealth. They challenge the legitimacy of Job’s declaration: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed is the name of the Lord.” The Lord is not capricious in His continuing redistribution of wealth in history. This is the economic lesson of the book of Job. There is covenantal predictability between covenant-keeping and economic success, and also between covenant-breaking and economic failure. It may take time for this to play out visibly, but this is the heart of the dominion process.

Satan wants to break this predictability. This predictability is a threat to his kingdom. All of his economic schemes are based on either violence or fraud. Criminal theft is one way. War is another. Political revolution is another. Sometimes he uses democratic political forces that demand that the government use the threat of violence to redistribute wealth on a basis different from the laws of covenant-keeping: defense of private property and contracts. The supreme law of covenant-keeping in economic matters is this: you must not steal (Exodus 20:15). This remains the law today. Property rights, meaning rights defending ownership, are at the heart of the dominion covenant. They are at the heart of Christian civilization. Satan therefore raises up critics who complain that the market process produces illegitimate results. The free market process makes some people rich, and it makes other people poor. This, they say, is a violation of ethics. It must be stopped through political reform. It must be stopped through government regulation. Most of all, it must be stopped by tax policies that take wealth from the rich and give it to the poor (minus 50% for government handling). These tax policies violate the fundamental principle of biblical civil law: equality before the law. “Do not cause judgment to be false. You must not show favoritism to someone because he is poor, and you must not show favoritism to someone because he is important. Instead, judge your neighbor righteously” (Leviticus 19:15). This principle of civil law appears in the middle of a recapitulation of the Ten Commandments. “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive each other” (v. 13).

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

There is a tight relationship between Socialism, Marxism, theft, murder, oppression, and lies.

Islam instinctually despises the rights and the liberties of the filthy kafir unbeliever, so it’s not too far from the left. But it’s a wiser belief system, which won’t go down the road of abortion and sodomy… and has a stronger grassroots base as well, instead of some strict top-down power pyramid.

“Steal from a Muslim? Lose your hand.” The laws against theft are rooted in terror, not justice… but they do exist.

Islam will be here long after the last totalitarian atheist collectivist has turned into so much bone dust. Getting it even a little right counts.

Economic theorists line up on one side or the other in the debate between those who would let free market forces distribute wealth vs. those who want intervention by the civil government to veto the constant distribution of wealth produced by the competitive auction process of the free market. Humanistic free market economists do not cite the Bible. They do not invoke ethics. They invoke economic efficiency and economic growth. They claim, correctly, that a rigorous defense of property rights is the most important single factor in promoting economic growth. Keynesian critics challenge this, calling attention to the redistribution of wealth that takes place during a recession. Socialists deny that either the free market economists or the Keynesians have a legitimate case. They invoke morality. They claim that the existing redistribution of wealth is morally illegitimate. They do not explain their morality. They do not tell us what the source of this morality is. But they invoke it.

The twentieth century was a kind of experimental laboratory in which the claims of the three camps were tested. The socialists and Marxist Communists lost the debate. Their economies created so much havoc and poverty that the world abandoned the socialists’ key idea, namely, the ownership of the means of production by the state. But Keynesians and welfare state economists continue to gain the greatest support politically around the world. The voters remain committed to Satan’s accusation against the legitimacy of the market’s distribution of wealth, which is the inevitable result of a systematic defense of private ownership by the society and by the state. Am I saying that the welfare state is Satanic in origin? Yes, I am. Am I saying that the welfare state is an ethical rebellion against God and His moral law? Yes, I am. I am encouraging you to do the same. This is not acceptable rhetoric in higher educational circles. It violates standards of academic propriety. I do it anyway. Satan and his disciples should not get a free ride from Christians. This is a war to the death covenantally. It is a war for civilization. The stakes are high.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

North is not interested in living in some impoverished, oppressive, murderous, and pointedly anti-Christian open air prison. In the end, no one is, given the choice.

But he also not interested in living in some Big Rock Candy Mountain fairyland that the Keynesians push… and have a LOT of public support for.

“Tax the rich 50% – instead of killing them – and give it to the poor (somewhat), the middle class (to buy their votes), and our pet minorities (to show our superiority over those filthy immoral religious types Christians.)”

The rich don’t get taxed 50%: they, their corporations, and their foundations have good tax lawyers. But the upper-class get hit hard (and so are unable to challenge the truly rich), government debt levels continue to rise (and sometimes household debts, too!), and the money continues to be slowly, slowly inflated away to “make sure the good times roll!”

The big winners are the bureaucrats – academic and government – who get more power over others, and 50% of all tax revenue, complete with tenure/lifetime job security.

Two decades later, the author of the most successful college textbook in economics, Paul Samuelson, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the 1989 edition of his textbook wrote this: “The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive” (13th edition, p. 837). In 1989, the Soviet economy was in the final stages of collapse. In December 1991, the Soviet government disbanded. The Russian Federation replaced it. Something much more like a free market economy was established, and then, for the first time in almost eight decades, rapid per capita economic growth began. Communist China had experienced the same thing throughout the 1980s.

I do not believe that economic theory is value-free. It is value-laden. Christian economic theory must begin with the doctrine of the dominion covenant. Christian economists must confront the welfare state in the name of God, not simply in the name of economic efficiency. This is what I am doing here.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

North stands against the Right Sort, regardless of the masks they wear.

So should we.

Mankind is the God-delegated owner of the earth. This ownership is derivative. Prior to the fall, there was only one family of God. After the fall, there are two: adopted sons and disinherited sons. The conflicts of history are aspects of a struggle for this inheritance: point five.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Who shall inherit?

The Right Sort?

Or those obedient to God?

God’s people will win, because they represent God who has won – and will continue to win, more and more obviously and consistently over time.

Unlike many ‘churches’, the Bible declares that God has won, and Satan has lost: and it is our job to manifest this victory, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Where does property (point three) come from? From God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. It comes down from the Father of lights. With him there is no changing or shadow because of turning” (James 1:17). James made this clear: all positive sanctions are from God. This includes the ownership of property. Benefits are a matter of grace. Grace means unearned benefits. God does not deal with men as economic trading partners. He does not surrender ownership of anything in order to get something of greater value to Him in return. He gives men blessings in order to attain His purposes. These are gifts, not something that men have earned. Men are always in debt to God. But God, in His grace, forgives the debts of covenant-keepers. This is why Jesus told His disciples to pray this: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Aren’t all hard-working people entitled to benefits? Haven’t they earned these benefits? Jesus called all of us unprofitable (unworthy) servants. “But which of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? Will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and put a belt around your clothes and serve me until I have finished eating and drinking. Then afterward you will eat and drink’? He does not thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded, does he? Even so you also, when you have done everything that you are commanded, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have only done what we ought to do’” (Luke 17:7–10). Adam’s sin put all mankind onto the negative side of God’s ledger on judgment day. Only by God’s special grace is anyone found on the positive side of God’s ledger. Apart from special grace, all people are losers. Common grace allows covenant-breakers to produce benefits, but these benefits do not overcome the liabilities. The benefits they produce are by means of God’s grace. So, we are back to James’ declaration.

God owns the world because He created it. He delegates ownership of specific legal rights of control to specific individuals and specific institutions. He holds them accountable for as long as they retain ownership. This is the biblical concept of ownership. Then what biblically legitimate complaints do non-owners have against an existing distribution of property? One complaint would be this: the present owner stole the property he now controls. Another would be this: he threatened violence against the original owner to gain ownership. If the owner refused to sell, the would-be owner threatened to harm him. Another would be the use of fraud in the sale. God has laws against such actions. But what if the present owners hold title without having violated any of God’s laws? They purchased the property through voluntary transactions. Then the complainers have no biblically valid complaint. This is redistribution through voluntary exchange by means of God’s legal order.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

The collectivists don’t care about any of this pathetic Christian superstition. They want what you’ve got, and are more than happy to slash open your throat to get it.

Laws? Justice? Laws are what the Leader and the Party say they are! Justice is whatever arbitrary goal the Leader and the Party has set at the moment!”

As men have spread across the earth, their competition against each other for control of scarce resources has produced bidding wars. Prices appeared because of scarcity: “at zero price, there is greater demand than supply.” God prohibits violence as a means of increasing individual wealth. He also prohibits theft. Men are supposed to gain sufficient wealth to accumulate capital by means of service to others. One aspect of this capital-accumulation process is profit-seeking service to customers. Those servants whose services are purchased by customers make profits if they have provided these services at prices higher than their costs of production. But it was God who provided them with the strategies they used to make profits. These strategies were gifts from God. Owners hold title to these profits only at God’s grace-based discretion.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

The Right Sort have no interest in serving anyone except themselves.

And their toys, which is a way to project their own needs, desires, and moral superiority.

Humanistic free market economists never start their analyses with the concept of ownership. I believe that the primary reason why they refuse to do this is that the issue of ownership raises two related issues that they do not wish to consider, let alone discuss publicly: (1) the moral foundation of ownership; (2) the source of original ownership. They maintain that economic theory is value-free. They therefore face a conceptual problem: the legal issue of ownership is inescapably moral. Men ask this: “Who has the right, meaning the legal right to exclude, to control a particular piece of property? On what legal basis does he have this right?” All legal systems are grounded in some concept of morality. Humanistic economists do not wish to confront this issue. So, they begin with this presupposition, which may or may not be stated in their books: “Given the existing distribution of ownership. . . .” They pretend that if they ignore an externally given institutional moral fact from outside the market process, they will not have to discuss morality in their subsequent analyses. In other words, if they exclude morality from the beginning, they can exclude morality all the way to the end. So, they always ignore the issue of the moral foundation of ownership.

Second, they do not discuss the origin of ownership. They avoid this topic for the same reason. The original owner had a legal claim to the property. On what basis did he maintain this claim? Christian economics makes this clear: God was the original Creator, and therefore He was the original Owner. He set the terms of the leaseholds for His property. He also set the legal boundaries of His property. He also established the legal framework for adjudicating the issue of ownership. Humanistic economists do not want to raise the issue of God, so they ignore the issue of original ownership. Step by step, this trail leads back to someone who announced: “This property is mine!” They do not want to confront the issue of the public’s response: “On what basis?”

Critics of capitalism exploit the economists’ silence regarding the moral basis of private ownership. They claim that they come in the name of a higher morality. Humanistic economists insist that they do not come in the name of any morality at all. They have surrendered the moral high ground. The only moral ground visible to most voters is the low ground of political coercion and theft by the ballot box. This political morality is proclaimed by the enemies of the free market: “Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.” Millions of voters have larceny in their hearts, so they line up behind competing groups of political thieves. They do so in the name of a morality that is designed to replace God’s.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

We are stuck in a Keynesian immoralist culture. Until the money runs out, the debts come due, and the welfare state crumbles, collapses, dies.

Humanistic economists insist that economic theory is value-free. They insist that they do not believe in economic theory as resting logically or methodologically on any moral system. They deny that the coherence that they affirm between the profits of individual entrepreneurs and national economic growth is in any way based on ethics. They usually defend honesty in business, especially adherence to contracts, as productive of cooperation. Honesty increases the division of labor, which in turn increases efficiency. Increased efficiency produces greater output per unit of resource input. This produces individual wealth. It also creates national wealth. So, they insist, they are favorable to morality as a pragmatic strategy of wealth creation. But they deny emphatically that economic science has any ethical component. It is not grounded in morality. Rather, it is grounded in efficiency. Economic theory reveals the ways to wealth: greater per capita capital investment, a greater division of labor, greater specialization of production. These are exclusively matters of technique, not morality. They are matters of entrepreneurial alertness in a market system governed by economic laws, such as the law of supply and demand. There is a metaphorical invisible hand, but there is no hand of God.

Economists are aware that effective advertising increases business profitability. They understand that advertising is a factor of production. It increases sales. They do not understand that this analysis also applies to ideas. The efficient marketing of ideas involves carefully crafted appeals to people’s self-interest. This is why Jesus used pocketbook parables to convey theological truths and thereby produce righteous living. Most people believe that there is an overarching coherence between doing the right thing and prospering personally. They do not see this coherence as exclusively pragmatic. They see it as grounded in morality.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

God-loathing free market academics would rather lose than admit to the supremacy of God.

They are openly challenged by politicians and moralists who come in the name of the poor, the afflicted, and the economically dispossessed. The critics blame immoral businessmen for exploiting the weak. They point enthusiastically to government-funded wealth redistribution programs and massive public works projects that are easily visible. They call on voters to elect politicians who will enact new programs of wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor. The argument seems logical. There really are rich people. Conclusion: they must have gained their wealth by exploiting the poor. So, it is time for voters to elect politicians who will bring judgment day. Really. This time the politicians really will pass such laws. They have promised to do this ever since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Somehow, there is still exploitation. Somehow, there is still poverty. But this time, things will be different. “Trust us.”

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Well, at least the collectivist ideologues will get nice, permanent jobs on the government payroll. Which always was the point of the exercise.

Loving Equality, Hating Liberty.

There is eternal inequality between covenant-breakers and covenant-keepers. The blessings are enormous; the penalties are enormous. Compared to this inequality, all other forms of inequality border on the irrelevant. Nevertheless, they are not historically irrelevant. History develops in terms of these inequalities. But these inequalities are not the primary cause of history’s development. God’s decree is. Jesus said this of Judas: “But pay attention. The one who betrays me is with me at the table. For the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined. But woe to that man through whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:21–22). Judas was unequal to Peter, both as a disciple and as an historical figure. Judas was the consummate destroyer in history. Peter became a builder.

All of life is based on inequalities. There are genetic inequalities. There are inequalities in terms of geography. There are inequalities associated with specific skills. There are inequalities associated with when people are born. Some people have skills that are either economically irrelevant or marginal in a particular time frame. If they had been born a decade later, they would have been extremely successful. There are inequalities associated with the happiness of marriages. There are inequalities with respect to the size of churches. Most of these inequalities are not causally associated with conditions that civil governments can or should interfere with. They are therefore not the focus of political mobilization.

This immunity from politics is not the case with economic inequality. There has always been criticism of the free market because a few people get rich, but most people do not. The percentage of people who get extremely rich is low. This has been true in every society in history. Economic inequality is built into the creation. There is only one owner at the top: God. In every field, there are only a few virtuosos. They may or may not make a lot of money, but they are clearly the best in the field. As long as no money is involved, there are few critics who complain about the unequal distribution of unique degrees of talent—artistic, athletic, or scholarly. But, as soon as business is involved, there are legions of critics who say that the free market system is unfair. They call for politicians to redistribute wealth on the basis of state power. They despise the existing distribution of wealth. They despise the idea that God has allocated wealth on the basis of grace. They reject the idea that competition in an open market should lead to a few people who get very rich and the masses who remain relatively poor. They despise capitalism, despite the fact that only capitalism has produced enormous economic benefits for all members of society.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

The Masters always wants to fasten his chains, and put his bullwhip to use.

You can kill, rape, enslave, and oppress far more people for a far longer time if you set up your collectivist state on ideology, rather than race.

Something that the Marxist know, but the Nazi failed to appreciate.

Critics of capitalism are almost always critics of inequality. They are also critics of the idea that God has imposed inequality, especially in the area of wealth. They want the state to redistribute wealth by the threat of violence. They do not believe that God owns the world. They do not believe that God has used the competitive market process to allocate wealth in terms of consumers’ expenditures of money. They do not believe that consumers, because they own the most marketable commodity, money, possess greater authority in the market process than producers do. They blame producers for economic inequality. They never blame consumers. They see themselves as consumers, and they think they have pure hearts. Therefore, if someone has gained enormous wealth in a competitive free market, the market process must be at fault. They do not blame rival consumers who are competing against them. They do not believe that prices are set on this basis: consumers compete against consumers; producers compete against producers. So, they call on the power of the state in the name of a higher morality. But a morality that seeks to be higher than God’s morality is not a reliable morality.

There is also the issue of civil justice. The Bible demands that civil courts judge in terms of the law, not in terms of a man’s economic condition (Leviticus 19:15). This is the biblical principle of equality before the law. This is the equality that God demands. This raises an economic question. Some people have skills that the market rewards with money. If the civil law treats these people as it treats all people, they will be allowed to keep their wealth and accumulate more if they continue to satisfy consumers. This creates a dilemma for the defender of equality. He must choose between two concepts of equality: equality before the law or equality of economic condition. F. A. Hayek, a legal theorist and an economist, explained this dilemma in his book, The Constitution of Liberty (1960). “From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either the one or the other, but not both at the same time. The equality before the law which freedom requires leads to material inequality. Our argument will be that, though where the state must use coercion for other reasons, it should treat all people alike, the desire of making people more alike in their condition cannot be accepted in a free society as a justification for further and discriminatory coercion” (Chap. 6:2).

Equality before the law, meaning a legal order that does not discriminate in terms of a person’s economic condition, rich or poor, is a fundamental principle of personal freedom. This is why the Bible, by demanding that the state enforce the principle of equality before the law, promotes the development of a free society. Conversely, this is why widespread hostility to biblical law in the area of biblical law’s enforcement of private property rights undermines a free society.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

I like my societies free and prosperous. Even if I don’t get power or wealth myself.

Our Betters prefer them enslaved and impoverished, to a greater (Marxist) or lesser (Keynesian) extent… as this will guarantee wealth and power for Our Betters.

“And isn’t that what life is all about?”

The jealous person thinks this. “He has something of value that I want. I can take some of it from him if I threaten violence against him. He can keep some of his wealth, but I will keep some of it. This is negotiable.” The envious person thinks this: “I can never get my hands on his wealth. But I don’t think anyone should have so much wealth. I am willing to destroy his wealth even at the cost of suffering some economic losses.” It is possible to negotiate politically with a jealous person. It is not possible to negotiate politically with an envious person.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Keynesians are jealous. Marxist are envious. Socialists vary between the two points.

Humanistic economists do not try to persuade voters that the welfare state is immoral. They do not believe that economic analysis should rest on morality. Therefore, they make the case against the welfare state on the basis of the greater economic efficiency of the free market. But this does not persuade the most committed critics of the free market. The critics hate inequality to such a degree that they are willing to sacrifice economic efficiency, even when they are the beneficiaries of economic efficiency. In short, they are driven by envy. It is not possible to argue logically with people who are driven by envy. They must either be converted from envy on the basis of a higher morality, or else they must be outvoted. Economic logic does not persuade them. Certainly, a supposedly value-free economic logic does not persuade them. They think of themselves as moral crusaders. They are in fact immoral crusaders.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Hopefully, things stay on the level of talk, not bloodshed.

Tocqueville had it wrong, both conceptually and historically. Equality was not increasing in his day. The rhetoric of equality was, but equality was not. Conceptually, hierarchy is built into the cosmos. The Second Person of the Trinity is subordinate to God the Father. But there is also equality, as seen in the doctrine of the ontological Trinity. We must affirm both positions. It is not a question of either/or. It is a question of both/and. The social and political balance is achieved by the grace of God through biblical law. Equality before the law produces the inequality of wealth. Any attempt by critics of any quality to use the state to redistribute wealth must invoke the principle of inequality before the law.

Critics of the free market system have been arguing for centuries that the free market creates economic inequality. They are correct; it does. They are opposed to this inequality. Nisbet’s article is devoted to a careful consideration of the ethics of this hostility to inequality and also the political implications. He thought this hostility is based on the sin of envy. He was familiar with the classic book on envy by Helmut Schoeck, Envy, which had been published in 1966 in German, and was published in 1969 in English.

Nisbet contrasted two kinds of equality: equality before the law and inequality of economic results from the law. The first is basic to the common law. The second is basic to all systems of socialism, at least as a theoretical ideal. I argue that the West has held to the concept of law which Moses announced to the people of Israel. “Do not cause judgment to be false. You must not show favoritism to someone because he is poor, and you must not show favoritism to someone because he is important. Instead, judge your neighbor righteously” (Leviticus 19:15). In opposition to this is egalitarianism. Nisbet devoted three pages to this topic. He made this observation. “. . . equality has a natural affinity with the whole idea of centralized racialist government.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

It need not necessarily be racialist (‘white supremacist’ or some other colour: but it MUST be, at some level, ideological and authoritarian.

There is something else to consider. “Fifth, equality is the only possible value that can really serve revolutionary aspiration. All revolutions in history, the American Revolution possibly in part excepted, have been mounted on an assault against inequality. Freedom can serve as the point of departure for liberation movements—liberation from whatever kind of imagined or perceived tyranny. But freedom, in any genuine sense of the word, cannot be successful as the continuing theme of a revolution, for, once a revolution has been successful in military or political terms, the people are, by definition, made free. But not equal. Not immediately. Hence the need for a process of permanent revolution in society that can be best generated by the value of the quality and that can be justified by incessant references to the surviving consciousness of aristocrats, businessmen, Trotskyites, confusions, and so on” (p. 185).

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Gotta keep the bullwhips singing!

Nisbet was opposed to both revolution and war. He was convinced that war and revolution centralize political power. He made a profound observation. “The reason centralization of power so easily results from revolution and war, so evidently links them, is its ineradicable relation to equality—or, at very least, to leveling. It is not possible to centralize power in a society without, in some degree, equalizing. Correspondingly, it is not possible to effect equality, in sudden and calculated fashion—or at least to effect a claimed equality of economic and social condition—without in large degree centralizing and bureaucracy ties and political authority” (pp. 191–92).

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Every single last secularist collectivist understands that there is only holy power-focused ruling trinity: The Leader, the Party, the State.

In every socialist society, we still find economic inequality. The system of economic sanctions that enables some people to get rich is different from the free market’s principle of high bid wins. The hierarchy is based on political power. F. A. Hayek devoted Chapter 10 of his 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, to this topic: “Why the Worst Get on Top.” They get on top because they are ruthless. They use political power as a means of enhancing their own positions. The more ruthless they are, the more likely they are to get on top. In the twentieth century, we had the triumvirate: Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. But the master tyrant was Lenin. He provided the original model. He created the institutions of tyranny that led to the slaughter of perhaps 100 million people under Communism. The Soviet Union led to the rise of Hitler and World War II, in which another 80 million may have perished. Without Lenin, there would not have been Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.

It takes centralized and political power to extract sufficient wealth from the rich to distribute it to the poor. Once the instruments of terror are created, then a new hierarchy comes into power. This was the lesson of Russian Communism and Chinese Communism. The redistribution of wealth was achieved by the control of the instruments of terror, not the principle of high bid wins. This redistribution did not lead to equality. It just led to a different group at the top of the economic pyramid.

Every program of politically imposed equality is based on coercion by the state. This coercion is justified in the name of ethics. The ethical system begins with a denial of both the legitimacy and the efficacy of the biblical principle of equality before the law.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

There isn’t a single collectivist that cares, so long as the Right Sort gets to the peak of the power pyramid.

Satan has no legitimate ownership claim to anything. Christ created the world. He is the cosmic Owner. Satan holds whatever he controls only on the basis of having deceived Eve and having lured Adam into an act of theft. They transferred allegiance to him by accepting his word rather than God’s. Then they became thieves. Satan is the consummate thief. He is a squatter in history.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

We humans made a big mistake, about 6000 or so years ago.

The Bible affirms the legitimacy of the state’s redistribution of wealth only in this case: restitution to victims of theft, fraud, or negligence. If someone is the victim of theft, and the thief is captured, tried, and convicted, the state should demand the payment of restitution from the thief to the victim (Exodus 22:1, 4). A call for political reform that is based on the restoration of this principle of wealth redistribution by the state is legitimate. I am aware of no such political movement anywhere on earth.

Another legitimate reform would be to abolish existing programs that use the state to redistribute wealth. But this would mean eliminating most national legislative programs and all existing tax systems. The modern state is built on comprehensive wealth redistribution. It will take generations to return to anything resembling the biblical legal order governing property rights.

Chapter 13: Redistribution in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Christians had better get to work then.

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