Secular Economics and the Moral Basis for Socialism

QUESTION: Secular Economics – The Moral Basis for Socialism

ANSWER:

Most Secular Humanists embrace socialism on moral grounds. Hook says, “In my case, as in so many others, allegiance to socialism at first appeared to be primarily the articulation of a feeling of moral protest against remediable evils that surrounded us.”1 Both Lamont and Dewey also chose socialism on ethical grounds. Lamont writes, “My own path to socialism, therefore, was that of analysis through reason, combined with belief in a humanist ethics and a deep attachment to democracy in its broadest sense.”2 Dewey’s concept of liberty implies a moral ground for choosing socialism: “But the cause of liberalism will be lost for a considerable period if it is not prepared to go further and socialize the forces of production, now at hand, so that the liberty of individuals will be supported by the very structure of economic organization.”3 Dewey adopts an “ends justify the means” approach to economics, stating that a “socialized economy is the means of free individual development as the end.”4

Secular Economics – Socialism and the Common Good
Humanists believe socialism is more ethical than other economic systems because if allows greater freedom and it is more concerned with the common good. Fromm explains, “The aim of socialism is an association in which the full development of each is the condition for the full development of all.”5 Because Secular Humanists use humanity rather than God as the measure of morality, the common good of humanity is paramount. The utilitarian concept of “the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people” can best be achieved through the equal distribution of work and wealth, allowing more people to reach the Humanist goal of self-actualization.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Sidney Hook, Out of Step (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1987), 30.

2 Corliss Lamont, Voice in the Wilderness (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1975), 164.

3 John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1935), 88.

4 Ibid., 90.

5 Erich Fromm, On Disobedience and Other Essays (New York, NY: Seabury Press, 1981), 75-6.

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