Modern conversations on politics spend a great deal of digital ink discussing the great boogeyman of the day: Marxism. Most of the time the term is thrown about loosely by Republicans and Conservatives who don’t quite understand anything about Marxism or its history, outlook, and influence on the world, they just know that Ben Shapiro or Fox News told them it was bad. And while at its core Karl Marx’s vision of a godless communist utopia achieved through class warfare is in fact an evil ideology incompatible with Christianity, there is an aspect of Marx’s ideology that contains some truths that help us to understand the volatile division within our world revolving around both COVID-19 and identity politics.
Marxism is based on one primary concept, the struggle for material resources, and world history is essentially the tale of the conflict between various upper, middle, and lower class groups across time for control. This struggle takes different forms over time but in reality, it has always been the same war.
While the desired end state of Marxist theory is wrong, one cannot deny that man’s struggle for material resources has been a driving factor throughout history. Once outside of the Garden of Eden, man’s innate drive for survival and companionship caused him to seek out food, water, and shelter to sustain himself and his family. As Christians we recognize this struggle but also recognize that the call to communion with one another and with God is in fact a higher calling than meeting our base material needs, a paradox that has oftentimes put us at odds with the rest of the world.
Yet we currently live within a narrative that constantly reinforces the idea that our primary purpose in life is to acquire material resources for survival, and even more importantly, that those resources are in limited supply. What this has done has created a global scarcity mindset, further exacerbating the already existing tribal divisions that make up the world.
The problem to acknowledge, however, is that the vast majority of Western Civilization is utterly incapable of providing for their base needs. This primarily revolves around food, as most of us depend exclusively on our local grocery store and the complicated supply chain behind it just to survive. All throughout COVID we have experienced food disruptions and a walk through any store today will showcase empty shelves and understaffed checkout lines. We are really only a few steps away collapse as any serious break in the supply lines would prove catastrophic for millions of Americans.
In addition to food, we have outsourced most types of services to government agencies and their contractors. The main thing that comes to mind is the concept of self-defense. While Americans do possess most of the world’s firearms, they are unevenly distributed throughout the population, and those who possess them are most likely poorly trained in their usage (outside of hunters, farmers, military veterans, and criminals). When trouble comes, most people’s first instinct is just to call the police.
For these reasons, much of the division we are seeing in the world right now is nothing more than people posturing for survival. A scarcity narrative coupled with a lack of survival skills has made our population weak and scared. And for a large number of people, there is only one tool they have to defend themselves with: virtue signaling.
If you aren’t familiar with the term virtue signaling, it’s a phrase that has become popular in recent years and is part of the fallout from the culture wars. Essentially, it is a declaration of allegiance to the current mainstream way of thinking, most recently achieved with the help of social media through acts such as using the phrase “Love is Love”, posting a black square to your Instagram, or a picture of a nurse jabbing your arm with a needle.
There is little critical thinking that goes into virtue signaling. It is simply an act of self-promotion in the struggle for material survival. This is why you see legions of Karens on Facebook and Twitter promoting vaccine mandates and other policies of government overreach. These people don’t actually care if you get vaccinated, in fact they most likely would prefer that you didn’t. But what they do care about is being seen by the regime.
The same mentality can be seen with racial politics. A demographic sea change due to uneven birth rates and lax immigration policies is on the horizon and the United States will become a majority-minority nation within the next century. Many of those who will find themselves in the waning ethnic group have come to the conclusion that in order to ensure their future survival they must signal that they support the winning team.
In many cultures throughout history, humans have often worshipped gods and goddesses whose physical characteristics are more in line with what we would think are monsters or demons. Our modern minds ask why people would revere entities depicted with multiple arms or heads or tentacles and whose mythologies describe them rising out of the seas or descending from the skies to devour the innocent. In simple terms, worship of these deity’s mirror what we are seeing in the modern day: an invocation to the powers that be essentially asking them to “eat me last.” Leviathan is coming, and you need to let him know that you are on his side.
As mentioned, the Christian viewpoint on the struggle for the material world is one of inverted priorities and that we are called to transcend our primal nature to elevate the spiritual. But we aren’t called to forsake it altogether. And we must also be mindful that material needs are a necessity for survival. It’s a difficult proposition to try to sell aspects of Christian asceticism to a population with a scarcity mindset.
In the end, the most difficult part of the Christian faith is Christ’s command to love your enemies. And that commandment is true whether they are Communist revolutionaries who want to burn down your church or Tina in accounting who reports you to HR for not wearing your mask in the office. To be clear, loving your enemies doesn’t mean letting them walk all over you or compromising your devotion to God, but it does mean remembering that each and every one of them is a person made in God’s image who is just trying to survive in a world gone mad.