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Atheistic Communism:
The Destruction of Human Person, Family, Civilized Society

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The subject of this presentation covers an ocean of ideas. Its foundations go back to the earliest days of human history. Its consequences are beyond human comprehension. But the responsibility which it places on believing Christians is so grave that nothing less than a miracle of God's grace can draw the good which, in His providence, the Lord wants those who believe in Him to experience as we enter the twenty-first century of Christianity.

What is Communism?

We may begin by defining Communism as the social doctrine which affirms the community of goods and denies the right to ownership of private property. As analyzed in numerous papal documents since Pope Pius IX in 1846, Communism is based on a philosophy, a theory of history, and a definable strategy or methodology.

The philosophy, is dialectical materialism. It is materialism because it holds not only that matter is real but that matter is prior to spirit both in time and in fact. Thus spirit is said to appear only as an outgrowth of matter and must be explained accordingly. Space and time are viewed as forms of the existence of matter. It is dialectical in claiming that everything is in constant process of self-transformation. Everything is made up of opposing forces whose internal conflict keeps changing what the thing was into something else. Applied to society, the conflicts among people are essential to the progress of humanity, and to be fostered as preconditions for the rise of the eventual classless society of perfect Communism. Accordingly matter and not spirit, and least of all the Spirit who is God, is the primary reality in the universe. There is no progress in the world without conflict, which must be fostered in order to promote human progress.

The Communist theory of history claims that economics is the sole basis of human civilization, making all ethical, religious, philosophical, artistic, social, and political ideas the result of economic conditions. In Communist language, economics is the social science concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of material goods and services. Accordingly, everything in human society depends on economics. We get some idea of what this means by what is now the common distinction between developed and undeveloped nations. We simply assume that a developed country is one that is economically progressive. In contrast, undeveloped nations are economically backward and therefore in need of progress.

One word that keeps recurring in the history of Communism is bourgeoisie which might be equated with capitalism. Bourgeoisie is a social order dominated by private property and, except for Communist denial of a personal God, might be called the sworn enemy of Communism.

The strategy of Communism is a shifty expediency that defies analysis. However, it has two elements that never really change: massive indoctrination of the people, beginning with the youngest children, and ruthless suppression of any ideas or institutions that threaten totalitarian control by the Communist Party.

We are now in a position to look more closely at the first of the three devastating effects of Communism, namely the destruction of the human person.

Destruction of the Human Person

In the understanding of Christianity a human person is an individual rational being, with a body and an immortal soul immediately created by God. Every human being is therefore an individual because it has its own distinctive existence. Every human persona is sacred twice over, because it comes from God and is destined to possess Him in the beatific vision. Every human person is first of all endowed with an intellect to know how the Creator is to be served here on earth, and then gifted with a free will to obey Him now in time in order to share in His infinite happiness in a heavenly eternity.

As we have seen, Communism strips human beings of their liberty, which is the foundation of their lives as rational beings. Communism robs the human person of all his dignity and consequently removes all the moral restraints that control the eruptions of a fallen human nature. In Communism there is no recognition of any right of the individual in his relationship with others. There is no natural right possessed by any human person. The only rights that Communism recognizes are those of the cogwheel of the Communist State. Communists claim absolute equality of all human beings, including the authority of parents. What we commonly call authority and subordination, Communists claim are derived from the community as its first and only source. Not surprisingly, all material goods and all means of production belong, to no individual, but only to the collective power of the Communist society. It therefore follows logically that all forms of private property must be eradicated. Why? Because private property has been the source and foundation of all economic enslavement.

Most people would not associate Communism with a culture of death which has become so prevalent in the modern world. Actually there is more than association. I do not hesitate to say that Communism is the single principal agent behind the global murder of innocent children that has now become legalized in most, once civilized, nations in the twentieth century.

I remember the conversation I recently had with Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the author of Aborting America and the confessed abortionist who admitted to personally aborting thousands of unborn children. In our conversation, Dr. Nathanson told me that during the seventy years of Communist control of Russia, the average was over sixteen million legalized abortions every year.

Once you deny that the human person is a child with divine rights to be born alive, it is only logical to legalize the murder of unborn children. The connection between the massive culture of death in our day and Communism is so close that most people do not even realize that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two.

Although I was born in the United States, my family roots are in Slavic culture. So many of my blood relatives have been victims of Marxist Communism that I can say with complete security: "There is no way, under God, that we can stop the world massacre of innocent children unless we cope with the errors of Marxism which have so deeply penetrated our own beloved United States.

Destruction of the Family

By way of exception, I wish to quote at length from the Manifesto of the Communist Party. Specifically I will read to you what this Manifesto says about the family. It begins with the imperative, "Abolition of the family." The passage is a bit long but worth listening to because it helps to explain not only what has happened in professedly Communist countries, but what is going on in nations like our own.

Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.
The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.
Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.
But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.
And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention of society, direct or indirect, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.
The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of modern industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor.
But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus.
The bourgeois sees in his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.
He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial.
Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives.
Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalized community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident, that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.

I could go on for pages, quoting from the Communist Manifesto, to prove that the destruction of the family belongs to the essence of Marxist Communism. What is not so evident is the success which this philosophy has had in countries like our own.

The Communist claim that capitalism enslaves women by imprisoning them in the walls of a home has succeeded phenomenally in liberating women from enslavement by men. Most of the laboring force in our country is women. Most of the political power exercised in State is the power of women who have been delivered from the shackles of capitalism.

Over the years, I have followed the feminist movement from its beginnings. Every single premise of radical feminism is borrowed, often verbatim, from the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

Destruction of Civilized Society

One of the mysterious contributions of Communism has been to teach us how indispensable is religion for the welfare, in fact for the survival of civilized society.

Some years ago the official journal of the Soviet Academy of Pedagogical Science published a government directive Atheistic Education in the School. Shortly after its publication, I had the privilege of editing this directive for American readers. It is a goldmine of information on how to separate God from human society. It is also a revelation of how widely so many modern educators have trained millions of young people in the art of destroying everything but the name of civilized society.

Once again, I will take the liberty of quoting several passages from Atheistic Education in the School, My hope is to show how effectively Communism destroys human society whose foundation is faith in the living God.

The opening paragraph is self-revealing: "The Soviet school, as an instrument for the Communist education of the rising generation, can, as a matter of principle, take up no other attitude towards religion than one of irreconcilable opposition; for Communist education has as its philosophical basis Marxism, and Marxism is irreconcilably hostile to religion. `Marxism is materialism,' says V. I. Lenin; ‘as such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as the materialism of the Encyclopaedists of the eighteenth century or the materialism of Feuerbach.’”

Is it possible on these premises to still have a civilized society? Absolutely not! We must accept the existence of an almighty Creator who governs the human race by His laws of morality. Otherwise we have what may still be called a society, but is really a jungle of so called rational animals.

Another quotation: "Religion," Marx said, "is nourished not on heaven but on earth, and with the annihilation of that perverted reality, of which capitalism is the theory, religion will perish of its own accord."

Implied in this statement is the idea that religion always implies faith in a personal God. But our modern English dictionaries do not hesitate to define religion as a personal set or institutionalized system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices. So successful has Communism been in shaping the modern mind that the very word "religion" has become synonymous with any system of thought, no matter how godless its philosophy may be.

I would hesitate giving the following set of contrasts between science and religion except for their impact on our own society.

Science arose out of man's need to struggle with nature; religion arose out of feeling of weakness and fear in face of nature.
Science gets to know the objective facts of the real world and thus makes possible for man the efficacious transformation of that world. Religion on the contrary inculcating blind faith in non-existent supernatural forces, on which the whole universe and mankind are supposed to depend, deters from getting to know the universe, and makes man the slave of external forces.
Science sets out from the proposition that there is nothing in the universe except matter and its motion, that the universe is one and material. Religion on the contrary sets out from the position that alongside the material world there is also the non-material, spiritual, and supernatural world, which is prior to and determines the material world.
Science starts out with the proposition that matter is eternal, cannot be either created or destroyed. Religion on the contrary starts out with the proposition that matter was created at some time by supernatural forces (god) and that it may at any moment be destroyed by them.
Science sets out from the proposition that everything in the universe is changing, this change being an objective property of the very nature of the changing things and phenomena. Religion on the contrary sets out from the proposition that everything in the world is of itself qualitatively changeless, and that qualitative changes can take place only at the will of supernatural forces.
Science starts out with the proposition that everything in the universe is objectively connected, conditioned by conformity to law; and therefore rejects the possibility of miracles. Religion on the contrary always begins with the acknowledgement of miracles.
Science appeals to reason and works by means of demonstration, and especially by means of verification of scientific knowledge in practice. Religion on the contrary addresses itself only to blind faith and is hostile to reason and demonstration, all the more if it is of practical character.

In the light of this contrast between science and religion, it is nothing less than a divine intervention that Russian political Communism died in 1993. But Communism as organized Marxism has not only not died. It is alive in many countries. Communist China is only a tragic example. Our own beloved country has been deeply penetrated by Marxian ideology.

That is why I would like to conclude this conference by paraphrasing what Pope Pius XI told us in his classic encyclical On Atheistic Communism. He was speaking to professed Christians. Specifically he was addressing "those of our children who are more or less tainted with the Communist plague. We earnestly exhort them to hear the voice of their loving Father. We pray the Lord to enlighten them that they may abandon the slippery path which will precipitate one and all to ruin and catastrophe. We pray that they may recognize that Jesus Christ our Lord is their only Savior, `for their is no other name in heaven given to man whereby we must be saved."'

Copyright © 2003 Inter Mirifica

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