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POWDERKEG: HOW MODERN CONDITIONS ARE PRIMING SOCIETY TO EMBRACE THE BEAST SYSTEM, RIGHT UNDER THE NOSE OF A SLEEPING CHURCH…ARTICLE 20, WILL AMERICA EMBRACE SOCIALISM?

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As governmental crackdowns on freedoms of all types escalate, an alarming trend is occurring amidst the general population. This is the increasing interest of many in seeing America embrace the notion of socialism. In fact, nearly “40 percent of millennials and others are prepared to surrender their liberties to the absolute authority of the state.”[i] This is likely because many people see the government as a potentially limitless entity that could, given enough power, solve the problems that its citizens face. For many, surrendering personal freedoms is a small price to pay for what might ultimately yield such dividends as better healthcare, improved education, increased protection, and material provision for all. The folks who see things this way view capitalism as the vehicle by which a select few have been made elaborately wealthy; they see that as keeping others from obtaining a share in that success. They believe that there are a few select billionaires who, once defunded, would see their wealth redistributed throughout the working class and used to improve society as a whole. It’s easy, at first glance, to recognize the allure of these notions. What if, just by changing the overindulgent lives of a few people, the condition of all of humanity could improve? This is the rhetoric currently being propagated among our impressionable populace. Since it seems to be promoting the betterment of humanity, more and more are jumping aboard this worldview.

However, certain flaws in this ideology surface once the rubber meets the road. Economists warn that socialism has always failed the citizens it’s supposed to serve. There are many reasons for this; we’ll explain a few here.

Socialism operates on the premise that communities will work together and share responsibility, accountability, and accrued wealth. Thus, it promises equality and joint prosperity for all. This benefit is rewarded in trade for surrendering personal liberties to the governing powers, which run things much like a business. However, “any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge.”[ii] In contrast, capitalism’s strengths are found in the fact that incentives exist: those that come from service, competitive pricing, the benefits of entrepreneurship and property ownership, opportunities for promotion, and other motivations for people to be the best that they can be.[iii] This lends to a society of people who find work that fulfills them, who understand why they do what they do, and who challenge one another to perform competitively. When roles are dictated, property is owned by the governing powers, and people are without motivation to perform well, economic output fails as a result of lack of ambition and capped potential.[iv]

One of the biggest pitfalls of a socialist society is that, when people feel as though they’re part of a large machine that doesn’t see them as unique individuals, they become unhappy. In America, we have a highly individualized culture, one in which folks want to feel that they’re seen and heard. We see a great example of this in social media, which allows people to independently have and proclaim their opinions; their personal styles, which vary greatly; and the freedom to identify with a certain religion, gender, orientation, or other classification. In America, people are free to be anything or anyone they want to be! At this time, many are desperate to see socioeconomic divides narrowed, to see relief for the impoverished. These are wonderful goals. But socialism isn’t the answer, because it contradicts human nature—especially how that nature has evolved in today’s America.[v]

Essentially, socialism—even if it works perfectly, which it likely won’t—offers to provide for physical and material needs, but reduces people to automatons in order to do so. We may not realize it, but similar ideologies fail or are rejected every day in society. For example, someone gives us a budget that’s supposed to help us save money, but we don’t follow it because it either doesn’t work or we don’t want to follow the spending constraints. As another example, foundations or clubs are started with a group of people stating that the cause is worthy, but members get tired and their support wanes. And nutritionists write rigid diet plans that dieters don’t follow because they want to eat what they want.

Consider this: A group of people decide they want to make a better life. They purchase land together, designate communal areas for growing their own food, coordinate home-schooling their children, and manufacture as many of their goods and meet as many of their own needs as possible. Along the way, they discover that, in the best interest of the community, many policies must be enacted.

Eventually, others join this community, making the shared load become heavier. Ideally, the newcomers would give as much dedicated effort and financial investment to the conglomerate as the original visionaries, but, as we all know, it is likely that they won’t. Before long, the original dreamers will likely be those working the hardest and carrying the heaviest financial burden, while others do the minimum to keep from being asked to leave. In addition, the more recent joiners may complain about all the rules that were put into place before they arrived, when they didn’t have a say in the decision-making. Why will the scenario play out like this? Because the founders will have sacrificed much personal freedom in trade for a way of life that fostered security for themselves, but it was their ambition—their dreams—that will carry them through the effort and discipline. On the other hand, most newcomers won’t have been personally invested in the success of the community, and likely will have joined in hopes that their needs would be met. In light of this, they will want to hang onto as much personal freedom as possible—while making minimal personal sacrifice. If they were somehow forced to contribute more effort or financial support, they would consider the trade unfair or demand more freedoms; anything less than the meeting of such demands would result in accusations of overreach on the part of the community’s ruling body.

Yet, this is precisely the frustration that results from a switch to socialism, which requires that people trade 100 percent effort and personal freedoms for security. Those living in an extremely individualistic society such as America may be drawn to this notion for a while—as many Americans currently are—but they won’t be for very long. Unfortunately, by the time the citizens recognize socialism’s shortcomings, it could be too late to get their power back. Worst of all, when it’s discovered that the governing powers do not have—nor can they get—enough wealth to keep all the promises they’ve made, a disillusioned populace will realize that they face the same level of poverty and other socioeconomic issues they did previously. But once all ways of building wealth have been placed under governmental control, individuals will no longer have the power to try to restore the situation without attempting to overthrow the ruling body. At the end of the day, the type of life socialism promises would be difficult for anyone living in a collectivist society, but Americans will face a terrible and adverse culture shock if they actually get this trade, despite the fact that many currently believe it’s the answer to their problems. And, once America becomes a socialist nation, it’s very unlikely that the situation will be reversed.

Some readers may take this look at socialism to mean that we authors have no sympathy for those who are in need of resources that it attempts to provide, such as healthcare, education, equality, and necessities. That’s not the case. In fact, we would love to see the Church come up with more answers to these problems, and we would celebrate interpersonal networking that would foster settings wherein people could help each other. By pointing out the flaws in socialism, we merely hope to call attention to the fact that it will not solve the problems it represents itself as being able to, and that ultimately the selling points are circulated to con citizens into undervaluing their liberties in trade for provision.

No Place to Hide

George Orwell’s 1984 depicted a world wherein citizens were surveilled at all times, even on the level of their thoughts. As governmental control ramps up—and as citizens increasingly surrender their freedoms—its increasing intrusion can be seen in the way we’re continually watched. Placidly adopting a level of invasion was once viewed as fantastical and dystopian, we are now almost completely desensitized to it and perceive it as being “for our own protection.” Many Americans are aware that the National Security Agency screens billions of phone calls, text messages, and other communicative metadata for terminology or other activity that may flag suspicion of terrorist activity.[vi] Additionally, pictures taken on smartphones are encrypted with data that can be traced, location devices track our whereabouts, and web browsers keep lists of our searches, purchases, preferences, and needs in order to suggest ads. On top of all that, facial recognition software has become commonplace. It would seem that no one can hide.[vii]

Security expert Bruce Schneier relays that this level of surveillance is problematic on several levels. One pertains to the notion that people who have “nothing to hide” don’t mind being watched. However, Schneier points out that this is untrue; the same people who claim passivity about this intrusion will not reveal or discuss information such as their finances or sexual fantasies.[viii] So how is it that they don’t mind being spied on? Likely, because they don’t see watchmen and cameras, they lack a certain level of belief that it is really happening or can actually impact their lives. After all, people face “real, tangible” problems each day, so this falls low on the priority list. Yet, we’re impacted daily in ways we’re not aware of. Social media posts can cause us to be flagged for extra security checks at the airport; spyware causes media data uses to spike that we cannot otherwise account for; and even webcams are capable of being hacked and revealing private moments when we think we are alone.[ix] Digital “cookies” send pertinent info in one of two directions: 1) to governmental sources to signal potential terrorist activity or 2) to advertising venues for use in marketing. Despite these and many other ways of digital invasion, culture seems disinterested in putting a stop to these practices.[x] Ultimately, the apathy likely stems from a trust most of us have in our government: We don’t really believe it will misuse the information it collects or use it against us.

However, this logic is flawed. First of all, there is the possibility that, as the government gains more control, this data could and even would become ammunition against some people. There is also the potential that the information could be compromised and obtained by a third party with malicious intent. Additionally, consider CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s own words: “Every border you cross…purchase you make…call you dial…cell phone tower you pass, friend you keep…site you visit, subject line you type…packet you route, is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not.”[xi] (This means that, even for those who aren’t worried about the government abusing the info, they’re trusting that the database holding all the private information will never be breached.) With smartphones, smart TVs, laptops, tablets, and even reading devices (which even track the speed of our reading) on or near us at all times, our every move can be monitored.[xii] Each financial transaction, from paying bills to making purchases of all types, is traceable, as is all activity we conduct via apps, such as catching a ride with companies like Uber, having meals delivered, searching for recipes and DIY (do-it-yourself) projects, designing nutrition plans, sending private emails and texts, engaging in social media through “likes,” and so, so much more. Because our locations are also trackable, everywhere we go can be made public knowledge. And, thanks to new apps such as CarSafe, which auto insurance companies are using to identify high-risk drivers, even our method of driving along the way will be uploaded to a computer bank for future reference.[xiii]

Perhaps you’ve heard of a series of apps released early in 2020 to track COVID-19 exposures. Some were released by digital manufacturers, while others were distributed by state-level sources. They operated by tracking one’s location as he or she went about the day, logging every stop. Those testing positive would update the app to send a notification to the smartphones or other devices of anyone they had been in proximity with during the previous days. Many of these tracking apps are accurate enough, via wi-fi connections, to triangulate a location down to “which aisle you’re in at the supermarket.”[xiv] This may sound to many like a great tool—and, we suppose, in the right context, it could be. But what about other uses for such an app? In the hands of someone with deviant intentions, this technology would leave citizens with literally nowhere to hide.

How might the government use this power if it was ever turned completely loose with it? Surely, as citizens placidly relinquish more control, the risks of abuse become greater. And, as Christians, we’re forced to point out that as our brand becomes more hated, we can’t ignore what we read in the book of Revelation, where we see that the Remnant Church will be forced to go underground. (Call us over reactive and apocalyptic; tell us we’re wrong. We will pray that you’re right). But one who sees this writing on the wall must wonder what type of agenda might be behind the drive to persuade citizens to download tracking devices that monitor not only their every move, but who they’re near and the size of any group they might meet. Additionally, if we embrace the notion that it’s for our own good that we’re digitally followed, we wonder if the day is coming when such measures won’t just be on a device that we carry, but inside our bodies in some sort of chip. Is this some sort of priming for taking the Mark of the Beast?

Schneier seems to be under the impression that, should the government ever mandate such tracking, “for certain you will rebel. But…[they don’t] have to…[inject a chip] because you do it willingly [via your smartphone] and they just…copy the data.”[xv] But would we rebel against being continually watched? George Orwell painted a picture of a society wherein “Big Brother” watched everyone constantly and inescapably; even thoughts themselves were monitored by their own brand of police. In that world, citizens were so overwrought by the daily circumstances of their lives and so preoccupied with the constant state of war that they allowed themselves to be perpetually subdued.[xvi] Perhaps that contributes to the apathetic gaze toward such overt monitoring. One thing is certain, though. As the masses look to the government to fix their problems, viewing socialism as the vehicle by which we all will obtain a more hopeful future, increased spying capability is certainly one way increased control could one day be enforced.

UP NEXT: Social Distancing = Social Damaging

If you would like more information on the topics coverede in this article series, see the book Dark Covenant, by Donna Howell and Allie Anderson, available below:

[i] Dobson, James. “Critical Issue #6: Capitalism v. Socialism.” FaithVotes Critical Issues: James Dobson. 2020 Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.drjamesdobson.org/critical-issue-6-capitalism-v-socialism.

[ii] Eldeas, A. “Why Socialism always Fails.” AEI News. March 22, 2016. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/why-socialism-always-fails/#:~:text=Socialism%20does%20not%20work%20because,are%20of%20the%20utmost%20importance.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Johnson, Andy. “Surveillance Society: 7 Ways You’re Being Watched, and Didn’t Know It.” CTV News. June 22, 2013. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/surveillance-society-7-ways-you-re-being-watched-and-didn-t-know-it-1.1337075.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Baraniuk, Chris. “Surveillance: The Hidden Ways You’re Tracked.” BBC News. October 26, 2014. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20141027-the-hidden-ways-youre-tracked.

[ix] Weiler, Lauren. “15 Signs the Government Is Spying on You (and 5 Ways They’re Already Watching You Every Day).” CheatSheet. December 18, 2018. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/signs-the-government-is-spying-on-you-and-ways-theyre-already-watching-you-every-day.html/.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Snowden, Edward. “First Mails to Laura Poitras (Citizenfour).” Genius. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://genius.com/Edward-snowden-first-mails-to-laura-poitras-citizenfour-annotated.

[xii] Baraniuk, Chris. “Surveillance: The Hidden Ways You’re Tracked.”

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Orwell, George. 1984. (New York, NY: Harcourt; 1949).

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