Unlike God, Satan cannot actually create. Rather, the devil must always depend on the very One against whom he rebels even for his rebellion. His every scheme rests on taking a good thing that God created and then removing it from the context for which it was designed. Then, absent from the place it would accomplish good, he injects it wherever it might do the most harm in a decrepit parody of God’s original work.
It’s the same old pattern for anything from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden, to simple bread. In a way, it’s the only trick the devil actually knows. But I wanted to highlight one specific place where you can see this dynamic at work today: In Marx’s famous dictum, “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” The idea is so compelling to people that hundreds of millions of lives have been sacrificed in its pursuit. And despite it’s blatantly obvious track record, there are still hordes of Social Justice Warriors actively burning down civilization just for another chance to spectacularly fail.
That’s some powerful appeal. But its source cannot be found in anything invented by man or demon, but something created by God. And it is a particularly ironic source at that. The idea draws its natural appeal from the family, for it precisely there that Marx’s dictum actually makes sense. In a household bound together in the love for which it was ordained by God, each individual indeed gives to the rest of the family whatever he can, while he himself is cared for by them according to his own needs.
The infant is fully and urgently provided with food, clothing, comfort in distress, and whatever else he may need. Nothing at all is expected in return because infants are fundamentally helpless, but parents and siblings nevertheless rejoice when the baby smiles at toys he did not buy and snuggles contentedly into a blanket he did not weave with a belly full of food he did not earn.
As children mature and acquire ever greater ability, more is expected of them. Parents still provide what children cannot gain for themselves, but they continually take on additional household chores of greater difficulty that require more diverse skills. At each step, as the child learns and grows, the whole family once again rejoices together. The children and parents alike are aglow with loving pride at what has been accomplished. The parents are both happy to provide and happy to see their children beginning to flex their ability. The children likewise are both grateful to receive what they need and proud at becoming providers like mom and dad.
When those children become adults themselves, their abilities will have finally become sufficient not only for providing their own needs, but also the needs of others. Accordingly, they will do unto others as their parents did for them and begin to form families of their own. As their own children are born, they will be able to participate in the same kind of joy their parents experienced–providing for their little ones and helping them to mature just as they themselves did. And the joy of the new grandparents will mature along alongside the new parents, as the work they performed through all those years of raising children finally comes to fruition.
And last of all, as the grandparents themselves grow older, the children they raised will have the opportunity to repay a portion of the love they received. Though death was never part of God’s design, its approach is nevertheless redeemed by providing a new opportunity for grown children: It will be their turn to give from their own ability according to their parents’ needs. And despite the shadow of death, that loving kindness will persist through the generations. As the older generation learns humility amidst their accomplishments, the middle generation will explore the depths of gratitude, and the youngest will see their example of action as something to which they should aspire.
This is all an idealized description, of course. In a fallen world, sinful children never mature quite so smoothly, nor do sinful parents provide quite so selflessly. Gratitude can run cold, and authority can be abused. Nevertheless, virtually every family at least catches glimpses of this kind of love, most dwell in it sufficiently for their families to continue through the generations, and some absolutely thrive by embracing it. From beginning to end, “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs” is a reasonable summary of how familial love ought to be expressed in the household economy.
But what holds true in one context may not in another.
Familial love persists even in a fallen world not because the idea is so compelling to us, but because God’s creative work is too powerful to simply destroy itself at a whim. It continues to work in the household economy precisely because of that familial context ordained by God. Within the family, the interests of each member are aligned with those of the others because they all share the same flesh and blood. Parents naturally love their children and want them to mature and to succeed because they are a part of themselves. Children naturally look up to their parents and want to be like them for the same reason. Authority and responsibility align with this design, as parents recognize their responsibility for their offspring and therefore exercise authority for their benefit. Children likewise recognize this and understand on a visceral level that they ought to obey mom and dad, even if they do run astray to some extent, because mom and dad take care of them.
So within the family, Marx’s dictum has a telos: the growth and maturity of generations of children. That is a truly compelling blessing. But outside such a context, that purpose is stripped away. Upon departing the household economy for a local, national, or global economy made up of relative strangers who share no familial bond, the dictum becomes an end unto itself. The goal of “to each according to his need” is no longer to reach greater heights of maturity, provision, and accomplishment, but simply to be taken care of without cost like a zoo animal. Likewise, the goal of “from each according to his ability” ceases to be a loving kindness expressed through responsibility and authority for those in one’s care and instead becomes a matter slavery on behalf of those who cannot or will not produce. Without love, the dictum becomes wholly stagnant in both its clauses. It’s not a matter of bad luck that Marxism has always spectacularly failed; it’s an inevitable consequence of deliberately expelling the fundamental structures that would have made the idea work in another context.
This is also why Marxism inevitably leads to dictatorship. Every entitlement creates a responsibility, and every responsibility requires sufficient authority to carry it out. In a family, the father’s authority is anchored by the responsibility to care for his own children whom he loves. He knows they are entitled to his provision because he sired them in the first place. But without familial love, entitlements become annoyances and responsibilities become burdens. Accordingly, the authority that was meant to fulfill those entitlements becomes abusive. The more it is repelled by those under its purview, the less it tends to them and the more it tends to itself.
But as with all demonic inversions, the story doesn’t end there–with a broken adaptation which consistently fails to achieve what it promises. No, Satan does not rest until his inversion devours that which inspired it in the first place: the family. Marxists’ well-established abhorrence for the family is ironic, but not accidental.
To be sure, on a pragmatic level, it must destroy the family because in most cases, family already provides what Marxism merely advertises. Our families are our natural economic safety net, our means of education, and our social support structure. The stronger our families, the less anybody wants a sterile bureaucracy to provide a parody of loving kindness to those in need.
Even on a theoretical level, however, it must destroy the family because it hinges on everybody treating strangers as though they were family. Jesus recognized that it would be wrong to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. Marxism, in contrast, depends on everybody being willing to do precisely that. Rather than working hard to provide for the needs of your own flesh and blood, you must work hard to provide for the needs of strangers and trust that every other stranger is going to do the same for your own children.
This need for destruction is only heightened when false notions of a grim and mechanical human equality enter the fray. After all, the family is organic and will therefore naturally create variation. You can plant the same kind of seed in the same kind of soil, but each plant will nevertheless differ from each other. One will be taller. Another will have more leaves. Another will bear more fruit. Another will bear sweeter fruit. Families are no different–some will have more children, others brighter children, others more educated children, others more skilled children, others wealthier children, and so forth. What’s “worse,” many of those variations will persist as they are passed down from generation to generation. Equality requires the encapsulation of human variation, and this can only be accomplished by eradicating the family distinctions through which we naturally, faithfully, and lovingly care for some people more than others–skimming off love’s excess before it can benefit a son or daughter.
But in that eradication is also the eventual collapse of Marxism itself. After all, one cannot treat a stranger like family without knowing what it means to treat someone like family–something one is only equipped to do by a family. Followed to its conclusion, Marxism creates a collection of strangers with no responsibility to one another rather than a universal familial responsibility to one another. Inasmuch as it is implemented, it creates people whose needs were never met and who were never equipped to meet the needs of others or even themselves. It creates men without chests who cannot survive. It is designed to fail. Marxism imitates family love and attempts to replace it, but it also dies without it.
But that perpetual failure–the ever-present embarrassment of human Marxists for which they must invent excuse after excuse–is actually success for the Devil. His end is not an ideological one, but a murderous one. As Jesus says, he was a murderer from the beginning. For men, the mass murders, starvation, and degeneracy that accompany Marxism are a matter of foolishness, incompetence, and good intentions paving the way to Hell. But for Satan, they’re the whole point.
This should give us pause not only as Americans, but also as Christians. It is true that God does not prescribe any particular political ideology to us. His kingdom is not of this world. Nevertheless, God does stand in judgment over all political ideologies, and only some of them can be appropriately labeled as demonic. Marxism is unquestionably one of these. Opposing it is therefore a responsibility for both kingdoms–civil government and the Church. The form of that resistance must differ between them according to the vocations of each, but resist we must.
As the latest crop of Marxists burn our communities, we must know that the cost of Christians bending their knees is more than just an error in political judgment. As Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and others dangle the coveted worldly label of “not-racist” before our eyes, too many Christians think submitting to attain it is merely an earthly matter. We must beware, for such friendship with this world and it’s Prince is also enmity with God.