Rauschenbusch on militarism and capitalism in “Christianity and the Social Crisis” (1907)

Important words for reflection on this day that we celebration the resurrection of one who came proclaiming justice through non-violence and cooperation rather than competition:

“Every social institution weaves a protecting integument of glossy idealization about itself…For instance, wherever militarism rules, war is idealized by monuments and paintings, poetry and song….If war is ever to be relegated to the limbo of outgrown barbarism, we must shake off its magic.

When we comprehend how few wars have ever been fought for the sake of justice or the people; how personal spite, the ambition of military professionals, and the protection of capitalistic ventures are the real moving powers; how the governing classes pour out the blood and wealth of nations for private ends and exude patriotic enthusiasm like a squid secreting ink to hide its retreat–then the mythology of war will no longer bring us to our knees, and we shall fail to get drunk with the rest when martial intoxication sweeps the people off their feet.

In the same way we shall have to see through the fiction of capitalism. We are assured that the poor are poor through their own fault; that rent and profits are the just dues of foresight and ability; that the immigrants are the cause of corruption in our city politics; that we cannot compete with foreign countries unless our working class descend to the wages paid abroad.

These are all very plausible assertions, but they are lies dressed up in truth. There is a great deal of conscious lying…But in the main these misleading theories are the complacent self-deception of those who profit by present conditions and are loath to believe that their life is working harm. It is very rare for a man [sic] to condemn the means by which he makes a living, and we must simply make allowance for the warping influence of self-interest when he justifies himself and not believe him entirely.”

–Walter Rauschenbusch, “Christianity and the Social Crisis” (1907)


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