Harmony of Interests vs. Identity of Interests
Excerpted from "Present Orientation" Chalcedon Report #68, April 1971
A harmony of interests is not the same as an identity of interests. The goal of class warfare is to create an identity of interests, to level society to one status and a common interest. Such a society is of necessity totalitarian and equalitarian. A harmony of interests assumes a diversity of interests. This the totalitarian mind opposes. I recall, not too many years ago, at a symphony concert, listening to the many foreign tongues spoken in the lobby. A fair percentage of the music lovers were of foreign backgrounds.
The resentful reaction of one person was, “They’re in America. Why don’t they speak English?” Of such stupidity is class warfare begotten. Is there an obligation to hate their homeland in loving their new country? Must we have an identity of interests in order to be unified as a people? An identity of interests is not compatible with freedom, nor is it possible. A harmony of interests allows for the free, independent, parallel and unified development of classes and races according to their progress and achievement.
The consequences of a harmony of interests are social, economic, and political. Its roots are religious. Only when men share a common faith in the sovereign and almighty God and His government can they recognize a common law and destiny. Amos rightly asked, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). One of the first steps towards a harmony of interests is for man to recognize that the government of all things is not upon his shoulders, but the Lord’s (Isa. 9:6). This means that he cannot absolutize his thinking nor project his own will against history. God always remains the Lord. God having made all men, all races and all classes, has His purpose and His judgment in mind for all. Our duty is to fulfil our calling in our place and to uphold God’s law order in all things. The force of God’s law must be maintained against all men, including ourselves. Our relationship towards other classes and other races cannot be essentially one of warfare, integration, or segregation, but basically one of a) requiring all to obey God’s sovereign law, and b) proclaiming the saving power of the gospel to all men. Neither church nor state can require more than that legitimately. In class and race warfare, the warfare is first of all against God and His law order. Victory in warfare can impose a truce, a cessation of formal warfare; it cannot bring in either peace or a solution. Nothing was settled by World War I, except to lay the foundations for World War II, which in turn has even deadlier consequences in store for the world. The drift is steadily into a more radical conflict and a greater loss of freedom.
We must therefore rebuild the foundations. We cannot assume, with the foolish liberals, that the response to their peacemaking is peace. Their concept of peace is not God’s peace, and it does not have His blessing. Neither can we assume, with many foolish conservatives, that the answer is in making war victoriously. To win a war no more eliminates our moral crisis than losing a war; it only eliminates an enemy outside, when the greatest enemy is within. Short-term gains cannot eradicate major and abiding losses. A dying man who becomes conscious and talks briefly has not thereby escaped death. Our real sickness is moral and spiritual, and our real solution rests in a religious renewal, in personal and societal regeneration.
Envy, hatred, and warfare offer easy and ready answers to the lower-class mind, but the results are short-term answers and long-term disasters. For the upper-class mind, the answer is not warfare but reconstruction in terms of Him who said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
The grace of God can keep us from envy and hatred. His grace can make us proud and content with the gifts and calling which is our inheritance from Him. We are what we are by the grace of God, and our being is His gift to us. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37–39) has four conditions, all of which are inseparably related. First, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor,” and, third, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” meaning that you shall love yourself and be content and happy with what God made you to be. If a man hates God, he will also then hate himself and his neighbor, whatever his class or color. If a man loves himself, he will respect and develop his own abilities instead of envying another man his abilities. Fourth, “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10), so that to love God and our neighbor means to obey God’s law and to work “no ill” to our neighbor. Deep and radical divisions exist in our world today; they will not disappear either by talk of peace or acts of war. The only remedy is the sovereign grace of God and man’s response of love and obedience to God’s law.
Envy is a form of hatred, and our world talks at length, and hypocritically, of love while it fosters and cultivates hatred.
Peace and love are byproducts of our relationship with God; when these are made primary and are divorced from God, then they become a dangerous mask for a multitude of evils. We cannot have the gifts of God without the Giver. The lower-class mind is very different from a working-class mind. The lower-class mind has appeared in kings and bishops, rich men and poor men, and it is essentially an existentialist mentality, living for the present and governed by the biology of man’s moment rather than by the Word of God. The peace and the harmony of interests the lower-class mind aims at is a graveyard peace and harmony.
Before it is too late, we must examine our institutions and ourselves. Have we been contributing to class conflict and warfare, or are we working for a harmony of interests?
Topics: Biblical Commentary, Biblical Law, Culture , Humanism, Statism, Theology