A Brief History of Marxism
After the Russian revolution in 1917, the new communist government in Moscow re-asserted control over the countries of the former Russian empire. The Red Army marched into any nearby resistant nation and installed communism as the new form of government. During the next 70 years, religion, both Muslim and Christian, was viciously suppressed. Lenin and Stalin killed more civilians than Hitler and brainwashed entire generations to believe that atheism and Marxism were superior to all other beliefs and governments. In the decades that followed, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba and many other countries did likewise. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, many people seem to think the “Red Threat” is passed. Indeed, the likelihood of a third world war with China does not seem an immediate threat, barring some complication on the Korean peninsula, or over Taiwan. The other openly Marxist states don’t seem to pose much of a threat to the West.
However, the threat of Marxism to the world is greater than ever. Rather than a conventional war, most capitalist countries are slowly having their governments supplanted by so called “socialists” who, to one degree or another, actually subscribe to Marxist theory. Norman Thomas, who was a six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America, said in 1948 “the American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.” So what is Marxism and what is the problem with it taking hold in the West?
Karl Marx was a German philosopher. In the 1840s, he broke from the theories of his predecessors, Kant and Hegel, by arguing that there was no spiritual aspect to human existence, only the physical. He was not the first thinker in the enlightenment to argue this, but he was the first to apply it to social issues. He said that the cause of all social issues and problems are physical in nature, and not due to immaterial things like Sin. Thus he concluded that disproportionate possession of wealth was the root cause of society’s problems. Therefore, if wealth could be redistributed equally and everyone’s needs equally met, then jealousy and vice would then be eliminated. Utopia would follow. Capitalism, he argued, was fundamentally a force of exploitation, of the corporation over the worker, and of class distinction. Therefore, Marx, and his colleague Engels, argued that all other forms of government, such as monarchy and capitalist democracy, should be replaced with communism.
Marx and his colleagues therefore worked to inspire international communist revolution. Their rhetoric promoted the achievement of equality in every area of life including race, gender, and economics. They spoke of empowering the working class against their employers starting with unions and moving toward revolution. They saw religion as a means by which oppressors manipulate the masses to accept the unjust nature of their lives, thus Marx’s famous quote that religion is “the opiate of the people.” Like a drug, it distracted people from the real nature of their situation: economic injustice. In other words, religion exists to maintain the economic status quo. If this is your starting point in understanding religion, you will naturally conclude that religion must be removed if true economic change it so occur. Thus religion must be eliminated from society for communist revolution to be successful. Marx’s works have inspired key leaders around the globe for the last 150 years. Nations around the world have been turned upside-down in the name of Marxism.
Hitler actually rose to power on an anti-Marxism platform. However, in the same way that Marxists apply atheism and materialism to society, Hitler took the practical reality of Darwinian thought and applied it to society. His theory was to remove the less evolved elements of society, to remove the weak and cull the herd. The result would be a stronger society. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others all believed in creating a better world by removing exploitation and classism and by redistributing wealth amongst the population. They believed this so firmly that they were willing to remove any obstacle, by any means necessary. They therefore suppressed religion and murdered anyone who would not accept the new establishment. A clip from the recent movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, shows Bill Maher arguing that religion should be removed from the world because it inspires all the wars and killing in the world today. The reality however, is that the historical application of Darwinism and Atheism to society has resulted in more death and murder than all other wars in human history, combined.
What is the difference between socialism and communism?
According to Marx, Socialism is merely a stage in a progression toward Communism. Marx defined socialism as the dictatorship of the proletariat (workers). In this type of government wealth is redistributed according to the principle “from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her work.” According to Marx’s strict definition, the USSR, China, Cuba, and North Korea all fall into this category but have not achieved true communism.
Communism is the next stage in the progression where government disappears in favor of economic cooperation. The distribution of wealth and the means of wealth follows the principle “from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her need.” It has also been argued that so called “communists” believe radical revolution is required to achieve socialism, while so called “socialists” believe slow transition can be achieved from within the existing government.
In the Biblical book of Acts, members of the early church are seen selling their possessions and giving the proceeds to their leaders, the Apostles, who redistributed it to the church body according to their need. Thus the principle of redistribution of wealth originates in Christianity. However, this practice was inspired by the principles of the love of God and of the brethren. In the hands of the apostles with the guidance and judgment of the Holy Spirit, it was a beautiful thing. When the principles of atheism and materialism drive the move towards socialism, and when the agent of redistribution is human government, the results are the empowerment of a government bent on stripping away religion and removing anyone who stands in the way of their imagined human-manufactured utopia.
The church should be the first group to champion equality, compassion for the poor and downtrodden, and striving to provide for those who truly cannot provide for themselves. Unfortunately the church often appears uncompassionate and self-concerned. Even in regard to how we care for our own, we fail to live up to the ideals demonstrated by Jesus and the apostles. How much of our giving in church goes to providing for the needs of other members? How much goes to providing for the poor and destitute? The majority typically goes towards the organizational operational costs of the church itself, salaries, utilities, mortgage, renovations, and the like.
Rather than any government, the church should be God’s vehicle for redistributing His wealth to those in need and the work of the gospel. In part II of this article, I will examine the Marxist movement in the west today and what it means for us as believers.