Collectivism and the 10 Commandments

“[Let’s] look at the way collectivism violates the Ten Commandments. That is the very definition of evil to me. Let’s go through all ten and see how collectivism is a threat to each and every one.” Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro  Centennial Review ▪ November 2014

Moses whoCollectivism often prevails politically despite its policy failures. We should not credit the good intentions of this evil ideology. It violates the Decalogue beginning to end. Friends of freedom need to fight back in moral terms, trusting God.

I’ve been asked to talk with you today about why freedom succeeds and collectivism fails. The answer, of course, is that diffuse knowledge beats centralized knowledge.

If you combined all the individual knowledge in this room, we’d all know more together than Einstein did. That’s why no one person is qualified to run a country or run our lives.

But there’s a broader question, and it’s more difficult. With our long history of collectivism failing and freedom succeeding, why is it that collectivism actually seems to win a lot of the time? It wins because we don’t recognize it’s evil and say so.

You’re Seen as Bad 

We assume that the people promoting collectivism are good guys. They believe in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they have all the best intentions. No, they don’t.

Their intention as collectivists is to shut you down, because they see you as a bunch of racist, sexist, bigoted homophobes who hate the poor. Collectivism is justified because you’re all bad people.

Collectivists are emissaries of an evil ideology, and we have to call it by its name. We have to speak about these things in moral terms.

Look at the hundreds of millions of dead bodies strewn around the globe, thanks to the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and various other Communist countries.

Look at the crushing poverty that the collectivists have produced in places across the globe today, ranging from South America to Africa to Asia to Detroit.

Or look at the way collectivism violates the Ten Commandments. That is the very definition of evil to me. Let’s go through all ten and see how collectivism is a threat to each and every one.

First Commandment

Start with this: “I am the Lord thy God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage.” This is fundamentally opposed to collectivism. If we’re all individuals created in the image of God, we’re special and precious. No one gets to invade our rights just because they think they are superior to us.

Our rights matter more to us than the government. Across three millennia for the Jewish people, and for more than two centuries here in America, the working theory has been that if you tell me I am supposed to respect government above God, I will resist you with force.

Millions of people have died for their God, and speaking for myself, I will go to jail or even pick up a gun before the government of the United States tells me I’m supposed to violate my religious precepts.

Second Commandment

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Modern Virtues

“We’re all free to decide for ourselves what we believe—as long, of course, as it involves sustainability, locally source food, and just the right etiquette when talking about sexual identity. Which means as long as we adopt progressive, upper-middle-class attitudes that function well only if you’re actually upper-middle-class.” R. R. Reno, First Things, December 2014, p. 6

“There are, by my count, seven cardinal modern virtues: Freedom, Convenience, Progress, Equality, Authenticity, Health, Nonjudgmentalism.” Jonathan V. Last

The old virtues: Chastity, Temperance, Thrift, Simplicity, Fellowship, Justice, Prudence, Courage, Charity, Faith, Hope, Gratitude…

“Aristotle deemed courage to be the first virtue.”

“Aquinas called prudence the queen of the virtues.”

“Cicero declared Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

“St. Paul said Charity if the greatest of them all.”

Virtues, Past & Present 

The old ones are still the best ones

The Weekly Standard, NOV 10, 2014, VOL. 20, NO. 09 • BY JONATHAN V. LAST

In November 1993 an unlikely book appeared at the top of the bestseller lists. William J. Bennett’s The Book of Virtues was a tome: 832 pages of moral instruction. People ate it up. Newsweek called it “just what this country needs,” and Time said it “ought to be distributed, like an owner’s manual, to new parents leaving the hospital.” Looking at a copy of The Book of Virtues today is like examining a relic from some forgotten age. You pick it up, turn it over in your hand a couple of times, and think, People were so different back then. How did they live like that?

Gary Locke

The answer comes in a few different parts. First, it really was a different age. Think for a moment about two years—1971 and 1993. In 1971 America was still celebrating having landed a man on the moon. The Watergate break-in wouldn’t happen for another year. Vietnam was winding down. The Department of Education didn’t exist.

By 1993 the Department of Education was an entrenched part of the federal government, and it was the almighty Soviet Union that no longer existed. The Cold War was in the rearview mirror, and with it the space program had begun to wane; an entire generation had never seen a live moon walk, and no American would ever again leave low earth orbit. Instead of looking to the skies, we were looking into screens: The World Wide Web was migrating into common use with the creation of the web browser. The two Americas of 1971 and 1993 were quite different. And here’s the kicker: We’re as far away from 1993 today as they were in 1993 from 1971.

Yet some human longings seem innate. The success of The Book of Virtues suggested that there was a latent demand for virtue then, which, at first glance, looks strange from where we sit now. Who would dare suggest today that parents be given a thick book of moral instruction for raising their children? But if you stare hard enough, the picture changes. If anything, we might be more puritanical and values-driven today than we were in 1993. We just adhere to different values. And boy, howdy, do we cling to them. People still believe in deep moral truths, you see. They simply apply those beliefs in the service of very different virtues.

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Jackie Hill-Perry

“Jackie Hill-Perry considers herself not merely an agent of change, but its embodiment as well.

“A Christian spoken-word poet from Chicago, Ms. Hill-Perry professes to be a former lesbian—a change she ascribes to God.” David Daniels

Christian rapper Jackie Hill-Perry comes out as ex-gay firebrand

David Daniels, The Washington Times, November 3, 2014, p. 25

10272014_jackie-3-color8201_c0-117-2778-1736_s561x327Jackie Hill-Perry considers herself not merely an agent of change, but its embodiment as well.

A Christian spoken-word poet from Chicago, Ms. Hill-Perry professes to be a former lesbian — a change she ascribes to God.

God, she says, “not only changes your affections and your heart, but He gives you new affections that you didn’t have.” Now married to a Christian man, the 25-year-old poet is pregnant with the newlyweds’ first child, which is due Dec. 13.

Her debut spoken-word album “The Art of Joy” will be released for free on Nov. 4 by Humble Beast record label.

Ms. Hill-Perry’s experience runs counter to pronouncements by gay rights groups that exclaim sexuality as an inherent, immutable characteristic. What’s more, her assertions come amid wide-ranging reports about the psychological dangers of so-called “reparative therapy,” which aims to change the orientation of homosexuals.

But she remains steadfast in her belief that anything is possible with God as she meets criticism — and outright contempt — for speaking out about her experience. And thanks to her nearly 65,000 followers on social media, as well as encouragement from famed Baptist theologian John Piper, Ms. Hill-Perry’s story has been far-reaching.

“The word of God itself, apart from Jackie Hill, testifies that people can change,” she said in a July 2013 report on Wade-O Radio, a syndicated Christian hip-hop broadcast based in New Jersey. Continue reading


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