Socialism, Christianism and humanism

Why socialism is not more criticized in humanist circles and literature?

There are many aspects that make socialism and Christianism on a par, and that makes socialism not fitted for reaching humanist values, which by itself should raise concern from humanists:

(1) Socialism was mainly developed out of either Christian religion or idealism, in both senses of the term, influencing the very socialist doctrine (see points (2) and (3)). This short history of socialism below is heavily based on the conference “Contribution française à la naissance du socialisme et du communisme” by Stéphanie Roza (a socialist history researcher):

_The first to propose a socialist theory was the idealist Greek philosopher Platon, in the Republic
_Then there were christian sects during the modern era, who considered that the advent of God on Earth was egalitarianism
_Then there was Thomas More idealistic book Utopia, which criticizes harshly private property
_Then there was the atheist Catholic priest Meslier who radically rejected social inequality
_Then there was Rousseau, who was much in favor of religion, and who was famously an idealist
_These ideas were brought through the Revolution by Babeuf (without mentioning the religious-like robespierrism of the Terror era),
_And received by Cabet, who first self-identified as “communist” and defended a form of “christian-communism”, the christianism-influenced mystic Saint-Simon (his book was called New Christianism), the idealist Fourier,
_And finally came Marx who heavily drawn upon the tradition described above and the German idealist Hegel and his mystical historicism, features which were only “scienticized” by materializing them

Since secular humanism, for it being naturalist and materialist, is antagonistic to both religion and idealism, that poses a problem.

(2) Christian religion and socialism all aim at the advent of a perfect world to come in the future (see point (1)). Since secular humanism cares of the here and now, and reject idealism, that poses a problem.

(3) As Christianism, socialism is mainly about virtue signalling, and the virtues in socialism (love, compassion, sharing, etc.) are, not coincidently, the same as Christian values (see point (1)). Since secular humanism is consequentialist, that poses a problem.

(4) Nor Christian religion neither socialism never ever improved significantly human condition (because both work from people giving resources to them, not from them being able to produce resources), but that never prevented people from still believing it and defending it (maybe because of point (3))

That’s an interesting summary. Would it be fair to say, our current global societies are the fruits of that long proud intellectual history?
How much do you think has the philosophy impacted everyday thinking?

Are there any conclusions to draw from understanding this human thought development?

Or, where do we go from here?

Being a non-academic, with my education and reading driven by my interests and focus of the moment (so you understand where I’m coming from).

When I read that line, although it resonates and feels right - I couldn’t explain 'cause my understanding is too nebulous.
[At least not without reducing it to my particular persuasion which is best described as Earth Centrism (not to be mistaken with geocentrism - this Earth Centrism is about a bottom up evolutionary science based perspective.), but this isn’t the place for that.]

Could you explicate,

German idealist Hegel and his mystical historicism, features which were only
“scienticized” by materializing them

. . .

I think in part yes.

How much do you think has the philosophy impacted everyday thinking?

Philosophy is certainly not the only factor, but it is one we have control on, since we have critical debates.

Could you explicate

Marx drawn upon the work of Hegel, which is very idealistic and speculative. For instance, Hegel thought that history always progress by following the same pattern (called “dialectics”): thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Marx gave it an apperance of scienticity by using heavily the philosophy of materialism. The philosophy of materialism states that reality is made of matter. Marx called the result “material dialectics”. For instance, Marx said history and social relations are determined by material conditions: there is an historical struggle between social classes defending their social and economic situation, and it will dialectically lead to the advent of a new primitive communism: a state (similar to what existed at the beginning of human history, maybe will recall you Rousseau) where means of production are not owned by anybody but shared.

Another thing that Marx did to give his theory an apperance of scienticity is to rely on “utopian socialism”, a school of thought developed by a couple of people I mentioned above (Cabet, Saint-Simon, Fourier) who employed the Enlightenment science and Reason to describe the perfect society. It was a kind of caricature of Condorcet.

This serves as the perfect argument for liberal conservatives for saying that giving a central role to Enlightenment science and Reason will lead to Marxist stalinist dictatorship. Understand: we must stick to religion and traditions.


(I move the socialism/humanism topic here)

It is true that Milton Friedman did not mention the climate issue (IMO, as many other issues). It can lead to the rebuttal that, for him and his followers (I think this critic is also valid for Deirdre McCloskey), “all is about economics”.
This is why I believe, we need to inscribe the free-market theory in the larger framework of secular humanism (as defined by CFI). I believe all is about philosophy.

What follows is only intended as an overview of what I know about the relation of classical liberalism with the climate issue.

From what I know, classical liberals, as of today, take the climate issue quite seriously. Maybe worth it to precise that I know of no classical liberal who is a climate change denier.

The points I heard until now in today’s classical liberalism movement about climate change:

(1) They will point to optimists books such as Ten global trends every smart person should know (Bailey and Tupy, 2020), The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (Matt Ridley, 2010), the work of statistician Hans Rosling, and projects such as Human Progress (by the Cato Institute)

(2) They consider that the industrial society framework freed human beings from misery, while the environmentalists tend to hold an idealistic, irrealist view of nature, in the flavor of the romantic Rousseau. They hold that environmentalists reject the most credible solutions to the climate issue, due to their anti-modern romantic position, while it is the technique brought by the industrial society framework which does provide these most credible solutions to the climate issue. (see Les Ecologistes contre la modernité, Ferghane Azihari, 2021)

(3) Trigger warning, the following line can hurt sensibilities: Some more conservative liberals[1] often use the “watermelon” parabola to describe the most radical environmentalists ideology (i.e. green on the outside, red on the inside)

[1] As I indicated elsewhere, I believe “liberal conservatism” is the greatest adversay to “liberal humanism”

Conflating socialism and Christianity can create a very blurry and confusing paradigm - especially when each is then compared to Humanism. There are some beautiful concepts in Christianity - love thy neighbor, for example that align well within the Humanist perspective. By saying socialism is similar to Christianity and therefore should alarm humanists is too reductive.

Parts yes, parts no.

Humanism does not reject a perfect future world. That would be unreasonable.
And so far as I know Humanists do not reject idealism. We present a better definition of what is ideal and we leave out the fictions of myth.

Since Humanism is consequentialist, it has no problem with virtue signaling. Caring for the environment. Helping those in need. The consequences of these virtues are compatible with Humanism.


“love thy neighbor”, to me this kind of moral injuction is a form of social coercition, and therefore opposes to the humanist core value of autonomy.

(1) People should be free to act with virtue, otherwise the concept of being virtuous is irrelevant (a quote from Milton Friedman).

(2) You care for yourself, for your family, and your fellows. This is in your own personal interest too. Parents who don’t take care of their children, will likely not be taken care of by their children when they will be old (especially in open western societies where people have the choice to do so). People who are nasty with others will likely be treated badly in return one day or the other. Same for the environment, btw. (Talked about it here)

(3) From (2), we can see that acknowledging the dark, but real, aspect of human nature (selfishness) leads, from a consequentialist point of view, to more, not less, ethical consequences. Because it enhances human welfare, which is the highest good. On the other hand, imposing moral injunctions does not make humans more moral (less selfish for example). This has been tried for thousand of years and never worked (women suffered from prejudices, homosexuals were killed, children were exploited, lands were conquered with no reason but territorial gains, etc.).

By “idealism”, in this brief synthesis of the historical relation between socialism and Christianism/idealism, I referred mainly to the meaning of “metaphysical perspectives asserting that, most fundamentally, reality is equivalent to mind, spirit, or consciousness; that reality is entirely a mental construct; or that ideas are the highest form of reality or have the greatest claim to being considered “real”.” (Wikipedia).

I do agree that as humanists, we do not need to reject full-blown a certain form of idealism in the ordinary sense (“the cherishing or pursuit of high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc”, Collins dictionary).
What I would retain in this “idealism”, is the word “goal”.
We indeed do need to set goals, if anything has to be achieved.

I think many philosophical and artistic movements (European romanticism, philosophical idealism, post-structuralism, existentialism, etc.) are nihilist[1] in the sense that they are radically pessimistic about the capacity of human beings to achieve (a) any form of objective knowledge of reality and/or (b) any form of happiness. And by being nihilist, they prevent humans to set goals, and therefore lead to failure, and therefore their nihilist prophecy will come true as a self-fulfilling prophecy (and they will be able to say they were the most brilliant and deep forecasting minds then :sunglasses:).

Consequentialism, in philosophy, is “simply the view that normative properties depend only on consequences.” (SEP).
It stands in opposition to virtue ethics.
Consequentialism is incompatible with virtues.

[1] “a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless” (Merriam-Webster)

Ha, it’s all good. I’m sure you are right. Normative properties and their place in consequentialism in philosophy are not what I think of when I see consequential - and that’s my weakness.

I am a practical thinker and honestly see much of philosophy as a barrier to meaningful discussion. Again, my weakness. But it reminds me of a joke my calculus professor shared:

A lawyer, a mathematician, and an engineer are being interviewed for a job. The interviewer asks, “What is two plus two?”
The mathematician says, “The answer is precisely four.”
The engineer says, “four.”
The lawyer walks around and puts her hand on the interviewer’s shoulder and says, “What do we want it to be?”

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:sweat_smile: I disagree.
What you were doing in #6 is philosophy, just that we need to agree on logic and (conceptual) tools (as you do in computer sciences)

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No, computer science is more analogous to astrophysics with labels like black hole, and star stuff. Real-time embedded systems, recursion, pointers, memory overflow, forking processes, and throwing exceptions are pretty concrete things with no significant mysteries. I respect your philosophical purview and enjoy your posts. :heart:


to the exclusion of all else.

Why do other creatures and Earth’s system, (both of whom helped create and sustain us after all!), get ignored?

Oh I know. Because we are self-absorbed and self-serving. With Earth being god’s gift to us, to despoil at our whim, because our own good is the only thing that matters in the universe.

Abraham would have been proud.

With that being an example of what I mean by getting lost within our Mindscape and neglecting the reality of Physical Reality.

Key concept here: “Human Mind ~ Physical Reality divide”
The most fundamental dualism to come to terms with.

Coffee, you arrived just in time, it does good reading your responses and formulation, they make a lot of sense to me. Lozenge I respect and enjoy, you I can relate to.

And love the insightful joke:

Oh Lozenge, are you serious about this:

Think about that a little.
“entirely” ??
Are you being serious?
Do you believe we are evolved creatures or where did we come from?

Have you ever spent much time learning about the biological processes and changes driven by evolution? Oh and evolution is not a name of something, it’s the whole living system, a massively interacting system, over immense periods of time.

Well, I think you are both awesome. Primarily because there is not a hint of disrespect from either of you. We can be friends.

I was fortunate enough to have had a class or two with John Shook, Ph.D. I have much respect for him and his fantastic philosophy knowledge.

I do try to keep up and hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too many times. :rofl:

A mental construct is a physical thing, right? There’s no evidence of anything like a soul.

In Orwell’s world that answer would be “five”.

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Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

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I am not an idealist, I am a materialist (the opposite of idealism)


A mental construct is a function of our body, senses, brain creating thoughts.

Seems to me it’s akin to the difference between iron and magnets ~ the electrical current they produce when you move them.

Another way I try to express it is that my body is the product of millions and billions of years worth a cumulative evolution upon this spectacular ever changing Earth.

My mind is made up of all the cumulative days and experiences of my body’s life.

When I die, my body melds back into Earth, and that conscious mind and soul of mine, will dissipate back into the ether.

With consciousness being the inside reflection of our body communicating with itself and getting on with the job of living and maintaining our body.

As for soul it’s a word,
you have a life force in you, all creatures do, I consider that my soul, and I got soul, or some would call it “Heart”. :wink:

It’s thoughts of a “everlasting soul” where things get weird.

But, “reality is a mental construct” implies what we perceive is not what is out there, that it exists in our minds somehow. I think that’s different than materialism. Just trying to clarify what mean.

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Idealism: the belief that reality is made primarily of ideas.

Materialism: the belief that reality is made primarily of matter.

Dualism: the belief that reality is made half of matter, half of ideas (Descartes was a dualist. Religious people are dualists. It is the oldest belief about reality).

This interview by W. V. O. Quine on this, if you are interested.

Yes, now compare that to, “reality is entirely a mental construct”.

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