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Dehumanizing effects of the Green New Deal

Wallace Henley Portrait
Wallace Henley |

Socialism, including the versions now proclaimed by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and their Democrat minions, is always dehumanizing. It inevitably leads to the loss of an essential component that distinguishes a person as made in the image of God: Vocation.

The word comes from “vocare”, Latin for “to call.” Calling and purpose constitute a unity. We have a calling because we have a God-given purpose for living, and we have purpose because we have calling.

The Bible says they are “irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29) A human can try to deny them, shake them off, or run from them, but God’s vocational call and the gifts to accomplish it are still there, pressing for activation and accomplishment.

Socialism, if it sees any over-arching purpose for anything, sees it only as belonging to the collective, ultimately, the state. The human being is a cog in the statist machinery.

The biblical worldview presents the purpose and value of each individual. The American founders, to the extent their political philosophy was influenced by the Bible, thus saw government as the servant of the people, not vice-versa.

Theologian and cultural scholar Gene Edward Veith says that “vocation is the way God works through human beings to govern His creation and to bestow His gifts...God gives us our daily bread by means of farmers, millers, and bakers. He protects us by means of the lawful authorities. He proclaims His Word and administers His sacraments by means of pastors.” Veith sees 1 Corinthians 7:17 as a “key text” for vocation: “Let each person lead the life the Lord has assigned to him or her, and to which God has called each.”

Every human work done in and for the glory of God, and in alignment with the principles of His Kingdom, is holy work. Every person has the calling of God, and every profession under Christ’s lordship is holy, enabling a man or woman to fulfill his or her purpose for existing in creation

That brings us to a nagging fact that popped up in original summaries of the Green New Deal, and its version of socialism. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her allies will eliminate the need for work altogether for those who want to opt out. The Green New Deal promises “massive transformation of our society” that, among other things, would give promised “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”

There were attempts to wiggle around that latter phrase, and probably it will disappear from later versions of the bill. But it does reveal an important goal of the extreme socialism driving the legislation—apparently making it possible for able-bodied people to choose not to work.

Ocasio-Cortez and her followers say their version of socialism is different from older socialist styles. History is not on their side on that claim. The young radicals who, in 1917, marched with Lenin ultimately gave us Stalin and the grim Soviet state. The youthful 1960s Red Guard, in the name of Maoist revolution, violently purged Chinese society and culture, but now the Chinese people face Xi Jinping, and his Party that seeks to eradicate all thought and expression not in line with that of the state and the Party that controls it.

The bright-eyed young socialists in Che Guevara tee-shirts who filled American streets with revolutionary sloganeering in the 1960s became the limousine liberals who rule over mighty establishments, celebrities who toast Ms. Ocasio-Ortiz inside Hollywood mansions, and teach the benefits of socialist revolution from inside classrooms well insulated by tenure and ivy.

Forgive an old man if he is cynical about the promises of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her young socialists. Already, there are reports about how she is threatening to strong-arm Democrats veering from the Green New Deal.

Socialism’s dehumanizing effect is symbolized in my mind through a scene I observed in a former Soviet city not long after the collapse of communism.

On a fiercely cold February day, I watched as clusters of ragged men shuffled through deep snow to get to kiosks along a roadway. They bore battered cups from home, which attendants filled with vodka. Starting the day drinking was the men’s regular routine.

One had downed several swigs, and was now, apparently, trying to get back to his building. He was across the boulevard from me, about fifty yards away.

Soon, I saw him go face down in a drunken sprawl. He struggled to get up, but was too inebriated to regain his footing. Finally, it seemed he had passed out. Barriers prevented me from crossing the broad avenue, and I wondered if he would be left in the snow to die.

Several people passed him by. To them he was, like themselves, just another vodka-soaked, hope-stripped wreck of a human.

Communism had promised to create the “new Soviet man.” The Marxist socialists had succeeded, and there he lay, trying not to suffocate in the snow.

  I would love to find a way to take Rep. Ocasio-Cortez back in time to the early 1990s, and have her land with me in a Soviet-era airport, and see the rusting hulks of aircraft sitting alongside the taxi-way, waiting to be scavenged for spare parts.

But above all I would love to hear her ask those suffering, oppressed people: “How did state socialism work for you?”

Left progressivism in its romantic zeal to create socialist utopia actually is dehumanizing. The history of the twentieth century proves it.

I pray the twenty-first century does not have to learn the painful lessons anew.

Wallace Henley, a former White House and Congressional aide, is senior associate pastor of Houston’s Second Baptist Church. His newest book is “Call Down Lightning,” published this month by Thomas Nelson/Emanate.

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