I would like to draw your attention to this excellent article by Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, a Catholic priest in Virginia. It was published on the Hot Air website earlier this week. Fr. Guarnizo presents the case against socialism and communism concisely and clearly:
There has been much discussion in recent weeks over the debt of Christianity to—and its compatibility with —the ideas and praxis of the socialist revolution, and even of communism. Many, even in the Catholic Church, believe that we share some of the ideals of the socialist revolution because it seems to them that communism, socialism and Christianity are for the poor. In addition to this most unfortunate error, the opposite fallacy has also been made popular in the minds of many, namely that capitalists and advocates of a free market economy, hate the poor.
The truth is that free markets have lifted billions out of poverty but socialist policies keep the poor down and prevent people from getting ahead. Christians who support socialism or think that socialist ideas are compatible with Christianity are either willfully blind or insincere.
But the historical record of communism tells an entirely different story. I have worked with the countries of the former Soviet Union for over 20 years, and I have seen what communism does to populations and nations. The scourge of the socialist revolution around the world gave us 6 million people killed by artificial famines in Ukraine and, as documented by The Black Book of Communism, 20 million victims in the U.S.S.R., 65 million in China, a million in Vietnam, 2 million in North Korea, another 2 million in Cambodia, a million more in the rest of Eastern Europe, 150,000 in Latin America, 1.7 million in Africa, 1.5 million in Afghanistan and through the international Communist movement and related parties about 100,000 more victims in various nations. This is a body count that reaches to 100 million victims worldwide. Communism completely destroyed the economy, social fabric, and political culture of dozens of nations. It hollowed out the intelligentsia, ruined every economy where the seed of socialism fully “bloomed,” and abrogated fundamental rights and individual freedoms of the nations it subjugated. Clearly the Judeo-Christian commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is not among the doctrinal teachings of communism and the socialist revolution. It is hard to believe that the socialist revolution—unlike Nazism—still finds promoters and defenders in the West.
The compatibility of Christianity and its legitimate concern for the poor owes nothing to the violent and inhuman regimes created by the socialist revolution. No system in human history has produced more poverty and misery than communism.
All this is a matter of the historical record. But socialism and communism have also opposed Christianity for over a century.
No greater foe has the Church ever encountered, than the communist revolution. During the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of religious and priests were sent to forced labor camps or simply executed. Five year plans to abolish religion were implemented and no true believer was ever safe in such nations. What social doctrine of the Church was ever derived from such madness? Communism and the socialist revolution are not only the antithesis of Christianity. They are also incompatible with free, just, and democratic societies.
John Paul II, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and many of the greatest figures of the twentieth century fought against socialism (both in its national form of Fascism and in its international form of Communism). The freedom of Western democracies created by Christianity is threatened by socialist revolution.
Yet the ruling classes of the West are falling increasingly under the spell of Marxists.
The socialist revolution in the West has been greatly influenced by the tactics of the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. Writing in the 1930s, Gramsci recognized that the culture of the West, and in particular, the Catholic Church, stood as robust obstacles to a communist economic and political takeover in Europe. Gramsci proposed that a takeover of the cultural institutions—the achievement of cultural hegemony—was the necessary first step to the eventual takeover of the political and economic structures of a free society.
This strategy meant that socialists should tirelessly work on the takeover over of universities and education, media, churches, and other cultural intermediary structures of the free world. He thought that the eroding of the cultural foundations would weaken a free society’s natural defenses and this would open the path for the economic and political aims of the socialist revolution.
I would submit that the “cultural hegemony” of the socialist revolution is increasing in the West and at an alarming pace. The increasing loss of ground in our culture to socialism and its allies is creating a growing threat to the political and economic freedoms of America and Western democracies.
The West may have won the Cold War on one level, but that which is worst about Communism – namely, its atheistic materialism – has infected the West and opened up many minds to the siren call of socialist Utopianism.
Guarnizo then goes on to discuss seven errors of Communist materialism:
- The Error of Concerning the Natrue of Man
- The Error Concerning Man’s Relation to the State
- The Error Concerning Private Property
- The Error Concerning the Function of Government
- The Error Concerning the Function of Law
- The Error Concerning Christian Charity
- Errors Concerning the Family and Social Institutions
Guarnizo ends by posing a clear choice between socialist ideology and Christian charity and free market entrepreneurship.
Christian charity and free market entrepreneurship are not only compatible, but necessary to truly aid the poor.
Christian charity strives for the moral betterment of man, and the advancement of our neighbor out of love. For believers, these are works of religion, which many men and women of good will willingly and freely undertake. Forcing people “to do good” is the death of the virtue of charity, as charity must always be freely exercised.
But a second factor is equally needed to alleviate poverty: entrepreneurs and the free-market system. These offer the possibility of a greater and more lasting solution to the problem of poverty. Creating jobs and industry is a great good, and to diminish the possibilities for entrepreneurs and the private sector and claim the façade of virtue in doing so, is pure folly. Entrepreneurs and the business class do more in the United States for the Church and for vital issues to society, than anywhere else in the world.
The two great lies of socialists and communists, that they are the champions of the poor and that they are the real “Christians” of our time, are myths that ought to be unmasked by all believers. For no regime has ever visited more poverty, death and suffering upon humanity. Civilization has seen clearly what this revolutionary change looks like and we would all be well advised to remember as philosopher George Santayana warned—“those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
As Marxist ideas become more and more entrenched in Western societies, Christians are increasingly tempted to set aside their Biblical objections to Marxist ideas in order to get along with the power structures under which they live, especially in academia. We need to realize that it is a choice between faddish socialism that ultimately causes more poverty and misery or true charity accompanied by free market reforms designed to allow people at the very bottom of society the freedom and opportunity to better themselves and their children. We may expect persecution for taking this unpopular stance, but that is part of what Christian faithfulness demands at this moment in history.