Sunday, April 11, 2010

yes, Jesus was a socialist

"Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor" equals "From each according to ability, to each according to need."

The first bit is Jesus, taken from Matthew 19:21, which is more famous than Luke 12:33: "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." (The King James Version: "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.")

The second bit is Louis Blanc. Wikipedia has a good article on the history of the phrase:

Although Marx is popularly thought of as the originator of the phrase, the slogan was common to the socialist movement and was first used by Louis Blanc in 1840, in "The organization of work", as a revision of a quote by the utopian socialist Henri de Saint Simon, who claimed that each should be rewarded according to how much he works.[citation needed] The origin of this phrasing has also been attributed to the French communist Morelly,[4] who proposed in his 1755 Code of Nature "Sacred and Fundamental Laws that would tear out the roots of vice and of all the evils of a society" including

I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.
[5]

The phrase may also find an earlier origin in the New Testament. In Acts 4:32-35, the Apostles lifestyle is described as communal (without individual possession), and uses the phrase "distribution was made unto every man according as he had need"[6]:

32. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35. And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.