A Response To "What's In A Name?"
Updated (24/09/12) Written by Rev Hazel Barkham
CSM Executive mooted a change of name as the term "socialist" was liable to be misunderstood especially in some Christian circles. I was horrified and vowed to leave the Movement if this happened.
As Christian Socialists we are committed to a radical reading of the gospel of Jesus, a message, which, of its very nature, when heeded, brings about those values, which can only be described as counter cultural.
I would agree with Wilf Wild who spoke to Wessex CSM on CSM Past, Present and Future. He used Marxist, Socialist, Anarchist as part of socialist discourse and envisaged a wider movement to include other faiths. I would include Feminist. As far as the past is concerned, Christian Socialism originated in the middle of the nineteenth century. Charles Kingsley and F.D. Maurice brought together "Christian" and "Socialist" although their views were not socialist as defined subsequently. F.D. Maurice described Christian Socialism as "the only title which will define our objects and will commit us at once to the conflict we must engage in sooner or later with the unsocialist Christian and the unchristian Socialists."
In the 1960s R.H.Tawney believed that in the Christian Socialist Movement as Christian Socialists we would try to redistribute wealth. This appeared in our constitution and was to the left of mainstream socialists affiliated to the Labour Party In 1986 we affiliated to the Labour Party as a socialist society. In the 1990s we became an association of people aiming to be a forum for the Christian left. John Smith held deeply the values of Christian Socialism. I shared Donald Soper's opposition to the change to Clause 4 of the Labour Party in 1995. The decision was presented as a revolt against archaic language but no one was discussing the archaic language involved in the Ten Commandments. I supported David Haslam's "Christian Socialism for the new Millennium". Stephen Beer attempted to re-cast Christian socialist principles for the 21st century. I admire Bob Holman a Christian socialist who worked with Iain Duncan Smith on asylum seekers. I agree with Dr Paul Oestreicher who wrote that "until the churches revive an intelligent Christian socialism that uses market dynamics to radically redistribute wealth nationally and internationally, we, the minority in our land who still claim to follow the then radical rabbi Jesus of Nazareth, have nothing new to say about social justice for which our world cries out."
Christian Socialism has to become again a normal part of political discourse.