Sunday, September 26, 2010

Communism as a Reactionary Return to the Bad Old Days

The best way to understand Communism, and the Marxist ideas which inspire it, is to see it as reactionary insofar as it advocates a retreat to the pre-Christian and pre-Western past. Why? Because it involves a massive repudiation of many of the basic principles that undergird the West and which have grown out of the Christian influence on the West.

The essence of the idea of the West is that man is created in the image of God and has true moral freedom, which is designed to be used in the service of God and one's fellow man in relationships of love. Political freedom grows out of this seed in the form of ideas like individual liberty, the rule of law, limited government, the division of powers, free speech, freedom of religion, the separation of church and state, free enterprise, and the need for positive law to be based on natural law.

Communism represents a lapsing back into the absolute tyranny that grows out of the union of religion and the State, the lack of private property and the denial of human rights that characterized the great civilizations of the East which preceded the rise of the West out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. Drawing on ideas found in Israel and Republican Rome, but most of all those found in the Bible, the West created something new in history: something that has been under attack by Marxists and Social Darwinists for the past century and a half. Communism is a re-lapse backward into what existed before the rise of the West.

In this light of these musings, I came across this quotation from Richard Pipes in his magisterial little book: Communism: A History.
Nowhere in the world has a poor majority, or any majority for that matter, voted the Communists into power. Rather, poor countries are less able to resist Communist takeovers because they lack the institutions that in richer, more advanced societies thwart aspiring radical dictators. It is the absence of institutions making for affluence, especially the rights of property and the rule of law, that keeps countries poor and, at the same time, makes them vulnerable to dictatorships, whether of the left or right variety. In the words of a student of the Cambodian Communist regime, the most extreme on record, 'the absence of effective intermediary structures between the people and their successive leaders predisposed the society to the unrestrained exercise of power.' Thus, the same factors that keep countries poor - above all, lawlessness - facilitate Communist takeovers.

These factors have a further effect. In the Orient, since the earliest times, the absence of private property in land meant that distinction and affluence could be gained in one way only: by acquiring prominence in the sovereign's employ. Government posts, consequently, were viewed not as service to the country but as a means of personal enrichment. It was natural, therefore, that participation in Communist regimes, which concentrated all power and all wealth in their hands, was perceived as the principal means of gaining status as well as fortune. (This, of course, held true also in Russia.)
I just want to highlight a couple of points from this intriguing quotation.

First, Pipes asserts that poor people do not want Communism and Communism does not help the poor. This upsets the conventional wisdom of most of the denizens of Western universities.

Second, it is the lack of a strong civil society - intermediary structures - that facilitates the downward slide of a country into dictatorship of the Communist or any other kind. In this light, the assault of "cultural Marxism" upon the family is significant for the family is far and away the most important of these intermediary structures. As the welfare state replaces fathers with government cheques, it effectively intrudes into families and remakes them. The high-tax, welfare state also "nationalizes" much of private charity and also thereby weakens civil society. So those who worry about the symbiotic growth of individualism and big government are right to worry.

Third, the lack of private property in land and the attitude of individuals seeking personal enrichment by acquiring government posts go hand in hand and are characteristic of both pre-Christian and pre-Western empires and of modern Communism.

Therefore, it seems legitimate to me to label Communism as a reactionary return to the past, falsely sold as "scientific" and "modern." Communism is going back to the way empires worked prior to the influence of the Judeo-Christian worldview. It is not the way forward.

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