Answering V. I. Lenin

V. I. Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin brought Marxism out of the shadow world of ideology into the daylight of the real world. He midwifed the Bolshevik Revolution, an armed putsch which threw out the liberal democratic government put in place after the downfall of the Tsar. While the revolution which brought down the Tsar was a genuine popular uprising, the Bolsheviks were a small minority when they seized power. This is the man who subjected the Russian empire to the malignant project of Communism, with its attendant consequences of low living standards and deprivation of liberty, for seventy long years.

New Views for Old
The Theory
We the Living
Opiate of the Intellectuals
How Did it Work Out?
Love Thy Neighbor
So What?

New Views for Old

The Communists were convinced that their views, unlike the views of other people, were 'scientific,' and science can not be expected to co-exist with other forms of thought, but to displace them:

  • “Those who are really convinced that they have advanced science would demand, not freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old."
  • (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Dogmatism and 'Freedom of Criticism,' A. What is Freedom of Criticism?, What is to be Done, p. 10).

Adopting the 'science' meme was intended to lift communism out of the normal realm of politics. Science marches onward, while the fields of ethics and politics revolve endlessly in the same orbits they traced out in classical antiquity. The Communists aspired to leave rival utopias behind, not forever quarrel with them. Because the Communists were doing 'science,' they need not consider the views of others nor protect the freedom of others to express their unscientific views. This fallen banner has been picked up on the contemporary scene by atheist Sam Harris, who also claims his new 'scientific' ethics renders obsolete prior systems of ethics, including those of revealed religion. 'Neuroscience's' meager cupboard of findings is only a consequence of its life stage: this science is in its beginning stages; it's taking its baby-steps. But, of course, this admitted incapacity in no way dampens Sam Harris' triumphalist claims. In the same way, the admitted mis-steps of the Bolsheviks, the fact that everything they built fell apart and everything they tried didn't work, was quite comprehensible and forgivable, for the dawn of a new era; that the economy failed to function should in no way be taken as evidence of ignorance or ineptitude. Once these excuses ceased to be believed, Communism fell.

The Theory

As Lenin himself noted, you can't have a revolution with a motivating revolutionary theory. The revolutionary theory in this case was Marxism, an obscurantist and dysfunctional, albeit 'scientific,' theory of economics. This 'scientific' theory predicted that paradise was coming to this earth, so you'd better get ready. It begins with the claim that labor is the source of all value.

"Marx taking Ricardo's investigations as his starting-point, says, the value of commodities is determined by the socially necessary general human labor embodied in them, and this in turn is measured by its duration." (Friedrich Engels, Anti-Duhring, Part II: Political Economy, V. Theory of Value).

  • “Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement."
  • (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Dogmatism and 'Freedom of Criticism,' D. Engels on the Importance of the Theoretical Struggle, What is to be Done, p. 28).

In Fashion Surplus Value
Wipe 'Em Out Leon Trotsky
Does it Work? Outdated
Product Placement What is History?
Primitive Communism Utilitarianism
Witness Progeny
Communism Today


V. I. Lenin was a militant atheist who looked forward to the day when religion would disappear, "the dying out of religion:"

  • "Nobody, thank God, believes in miracles nowadays. Miraculous prophecy is a fairy-tale. But scientific prophecy is a fact."
  • (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Prophetic Words, 1918.)

An Example Immutable God
Cautionary Note The Enlightenment
Benedict de Spinoza Pinball Machine
David Hume Natural Explanations

As it turned out, religion did not die, though they certainly tried. While Lenin did not want his faction to stress the atheist angle prematurely in the unpopular way the anarchists did, there was no question in his mind that Marxism is built upon the foundation of atheism. The relation between the two is not accidental, adventitious or optional:

"By declaring from the Duma rostrum that religion is the opium of the people, our Duma group acted quite correctly, and thus created a precedent which should serve as a basis for all utterances by Russian Social-Democrats on the question of religion." (V. I. Lenin, The Attitude of the Worker's Party to Religion).
V. I. Lenin
 The Attitude of the Worker's Party 
to Religion

V. I. Lenin praised the founding of an atheist materialist journal in 1922 in a speech entitled 'On the Significance of Militant Materialism,' included in his collected works. The reader will note Lenin and his associates are not waiting passively for the day when religion will wither away, rather, agencies of the government have been tasked with atheist education. One detects a wistful note of dissatisfaction that the Bolshevik bureaucrats placed in charge of propagandizing the Russian masses in favor of atheism were not closing the sale. Realizing that Marx and Engels' dense and obscurantist prose did not strike a responsive chord in Russian hearts, Lenin is willing to go backwards, to the 'unscientific' but readable savants of eighteenth century atheism:

  • “In the second place, such a journal must be a militant atheist organ. We have departments, or at least state institutions, which are in charge of this work. But the work is being carried on with extreme apathy and very unsatisfactorily, and is apparently suffering from the general conditions of our truly Russian (even though Soviet) bureaucratic ways. It is therefore highly essential that in addition to the work of these state institutions, and in order to improve and infuse life into that work, a journal which sets out to propagandize militant materialism must carry on untiring atheist propaganda and an untiring atheist fight. The literature on the subject in all languages should be carefully followed and everything at all valuable in this sphere should be translated, or at least reviewed.

  • “Engels long ago advised the contemporary leaders of the proletariat to translate the militant atheist literature of the late eighteenth century for mass distribution among the people. We have not done this up to the present, to our shame be it said (this is one of the numerous proofs that it is much easier to seize power in a revolutionary epoch than to know how to use this power properly). Our apathy, inactivity and incompetence are sometimes excused on all sorts of 'lofty' grounds, as, for example, that the old atheist literature of the eighteenth century is antiquated, unscientific, naive, etc. There is nothing worse than such pseudo-scientific sophistry, which serves as a screen either for pedantry or for a complete misunderstanding of Marxism. There is, of course, much that is unscientific and naive in the atheist writings of the eighteenth-century revolutionaries. But nobody prevents the publishers of these writings from abridging them and providing them with brief postscripts pointing out the progress made by mankind in the scientific criticism of religions since the end of the eighteenth century, mentioning the latest writings on the subject, and so forth. It would be the biggest and most grievous mistake a Marxist could make to think that the millions of the people (especially the peasants and artisans), who have been condemned by all modern society to darkness, ignorance and superstitions — can extricate themselves from this darkness only along the straight line of a purely Marxist education. These masses should be supplied with the most varied atheist propaganda material, they should be made familiar with facts from the most diverse spheres of life, they should be approached in every possible way, so as to interest them, rouse them from their religious torpor, stir them from the most varied angles and by the most varied methods, and so forth.

  • “The keen, vivacious and talented writings of the old eighteenth-century atheists wittily and openly attacked the prevailing clericalism and will very often prove a thousand times more suitable for arousing people from their religious torpor than the dull and dry paraphrases of Marxism, almost completely unillustrated by skillfully selected facts, which predominate in our literature and which (it is no use hiding the fact) frequently distort Marxism. We have translations of all the major works of Marx and Engels. There are absolutely no grounds for fearing that the old atheism and old materialism will remain un-supplemented by the corrections introduced by Marx and Engels. The most important thing — and it is this that is most frequently overlooked by those of our Communists who are supposedly Marxists, but who in fact mutilate Marxism — is to know how to awaken in the still undeveloped masses an intelligent attitude towards religious questions and an intelligent criticism of religions.

  • “On the other hand, take a glance at modern scientific critics of religion. These educated bourgeois writers almost invariably 'supplement' their own refutations of religious superstitions with arguments which immediately expose them as ideological slaves of the bourgeoisie, as 'graduated flunkeys of clericalism'. . .

  • “The well-known German scientist, Arthur Drews, while refuting religious superstitions and fables in his book, 'Die Christusmythe' (The Christ Myth), and while showing that Christ never existed, at the end of the book declares in favor of religion, albeit a renovated, purified and more subtle religion, one that would be capable of withstanding 'the daily growing naturalist torrent' (fourth German edition, 1910, p. 238). Here we have an out-spoken and deliberate reactionary, who is openly helping the exploiters to replace the old, decayed religious superstitions by new, more odious and vile superstitions.

  • “This does not mean that Drews should not be translated. It means that while in a certain measure effecting an alliance with the progressive section of the bourgeoisie, Communists and all consistent materialists should unflinchingly expose that section when it is guilty of reaction. It means that to shun an alliance with the representatives of the bourgeoisie of the eighteenth century, i.e., the period when it was revolutionary, would be to betray Marxism and materialism; for an 'alliance' with the Drewses, in one form or another and in one degree or another, is essential for our struggle against the predominating religious obscurantists.

  • “'Pod Znamenem Marksizma [the new magazine],' which sets out to be an organ of militant materialism, should devote much of its space to atheist propaganda, to reviews of the literature on the subject and to correcting the immense shortcomings of our governmental work in this field. It is particularly important to utilize books and pamphlets which contain many concrete facts and comparisons showing how the class interests and class organizations of the modern bourgeoisie are connected with the organizations of religious institutions and religious propaganda. . .

  • “One would like to hope that a journal which sets out to be a militant materialist organ will provide our reading public with reviews of atheist literature, showing for which circle of readers any particular writing might be suitable and in what respect, and mentioning what literature has been published in our country (only decent translations should be given notice, and they are not so many), and what is still to be published.”
  • (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, On the Significance of Militant Materialism, 1922)

Lenin was losing patience with those sentimentalists remaining in the teaching profession who were not fully and enthusiastically committed to atheism:

“The Marxist journal will have to wage war also on these modern 'educated' feudalists. Not a few of them, very likely, are in receipt of government money and are employed by our government to educate our youth, although they are no more fitted for this than notorious perverts are fitted for the post of superintendents of educational establishments for the young.

“The working class of Russia proved able to win power; but it has not yet learned to utilize it, for otherwise it would have long ago very politely dispatched such teachers and members of learned societies to countries with a bourgeois 'democracy' That is the proper place for such feudalists.

“But it will learn, given the will to learn.” (V. I. Lenin, On the Significance of Militant Materialism, 1922).

In time the Russian communists would 'learn,' indeed, to do a lot more with these non-conformists than exile them. Their idea of 'separation of church and state' was very simple; confiscate all church property: "We have already had an opportunity to observe that the separation of church and state was so construed by the state that the churches themselves and everything that hung in them, was installed in them and painted in them, belonged to the state, and the only church remaining was that the church which, in accordance with the Scriptures, lay within the heart." (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 342).

"The Decree on the Separation of Church and State was published the next day, 20 January, much earlier than planned. It declared all Church property to be the property of the state. Sanctioned by this license, Bolshevik squads went round the country's churches and monasteries looting their silver, drinking their wine and terrorizing the priesthood. Patriarch Tikhon, the head of the Church, called on the clergy to resist 'these monsters of the human race' in a  pastoral letter anathematizing the Bolshevik regime. . .The monks of the Alexander Svirsky Monastery in Olonetsk, for example, after trying to resist the Bolshevik squads, were imprisoned—and later executed—by the local Cheka." (Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy, p. 528).

As had happened earlier in the French Revolution, the atheistic policy towards the churches which began with a looting spree ground on into long years of repression and murder:

"In October, 1918, Patriarch Tikhon had protested in a message to the Council of People's Commissars that there was no freedom to preach in the churches and that 'many courageous priests have already paid for their preaching with the blood of martyrdom. . .They are executing bishops, priests, monks, and nuns who are guilty of nothing, on the basis of indiscriminate charges of indefinite and vaguely counterrevolutionary offenses.'" (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 326).

As in the French Revolution, the church tried to compromise, tried to 'donate' the merchandise the Communists wished to pillage, but to no avail. The atheists perceived the church as their sworn, mortal enemy, no matter what. At one of the church trials, the prosecutor put it all into perspective:

"Accuser Krasikov cried out: 'The whole Orthodox Church is a subversive organization. Properly speaking, the entire church ought to be put in prison.'" (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 351).

For seventy long years of darkness, the atheists held this vast country in their iron vise. Wherever Communism spread, the same phenomenon was observed. No matter how intrusively they had to pry into individual lives, they could not share this planet with religious believers. Even school children were interrogated and driven out if they confessed to religious leanings, as here with those East German youngsters who would not join the Communist youth front:

"School 'tribunals' interrogated children suspected of having religious leanings. These were huge, public occasions and often very dramatic. One such spectacle took place in a school theater in Wittenberg: students who refused to join the FDJ or insisted upon going to church were named, condemned, and expelled one by one, before the whole school. Many left the stage weeping." (Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain, p. 440).

There was no freedom of religion under socialism.

Thrice Holy Radio!

We the Living

To assure that what happened to Russia never happens again, the testimony of eye-witnesses must be kept alive. Ayn Rand's personal testimony as a survivor of Communism is invaluable. Though as fervent an atheist as Lenin himself, she lived through the early years of Bolshevik misrule and knew from personal experience just how well that system worked. Even at the outset the Bolsheviks were transforming Russia into a police state. The lone individual was nothing: "What's a citizen? Only a brick and of no use unless cemented to other bricks just like it." (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 41). People could no longer wander free as they had in the past, undocumented and unmonitored; the state had to know everything:

  • "She was there to receive her labor book. Every citizen over sixteen had to have a labor book and was ordered to carry it at all times. It had to be presented and stamped when he found employment or left it; when he moved into an apartment or out of one; when he enrolled at a school, got a bread card or was married. The new Soviet passport was more than a passport: it was a citizen's permit to live. It was called 'Labor Book,' for labor and life were considered synonymous."
  • (Ayn Rand, We The Living, p. 35, Signet edition.)

They needed this information, not to stream-line administration, but so that they could take down names. As soon as they came to power, the Bolsheviks set about humiliating their 'class enemies:' "One of the most traumatic humiliations suffered by the wealthy classes in these early months of the Soviet regime was the compulsory sharing of all or part of their living space. The Bolsheviks were proud—and stressed it in their propaganda—that they were forcing the wealthy to share their spacious houses with the urban poor." (Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy,' p. 528). The third-class bread ration reserved for the former bourgeois was described by Zinoviev as "just enough bread so as not to forget the smell of it." (Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy,' p. 727). The orders for this campaign of class humiliation came down from the top: "The bourgeoisie has to be throttled and for that we need both hands free." (V. I. Lenin, quoted on the need to end the war with Germany, Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy,' p. 544). Kira's struggles against the Bolshevik bureaucracy frequently lead down Catch-22 dead ends:

"'So you want to join the Union of Pedagogues? Very well, citizen. Where are you working?'

"'I'm not working.'

"'You cannot join the Union if you're not working.'

"'I can't get a job if I'm not a Union member.'

"'If you have no job, you can't become a Union member. Next!'"
(Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 160).

To navigate successfully this bureaucratic maze, the citizen needed Bolshevik friends and sponsors, which members of the middle class, like Ayn Rand, were not likely to find. While a valuable witness to the public sufferings of the early years of Bolshevism, her prescription to end these ills was scarcely any improvement. Her fervent atheism is only the beginning of Ayn Rand's ideological and personal peculiarities. She is an atheist to be sure:

Love Life
"'Do you believe in God, Andrei?'


'Neither do I. But that's a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know.'

'What do you mean?'

'Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do—then, I know they don't believe in life.'" (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 107).

Get it? If you love life, you have no need for God, and if you love God, you must hate life. Ms. Rand's fictional alter-ego, Kira, shares the Communists' contempt for the people of Russia, and not only for the Russians, but for humanity at large:

Big Zero
"Society, Kira, is a stupendous whole."

"If you write a whole line of zeroes, it's still—nothing." (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 33).

For some unknown reason, the Nietzschean superman for whom she was longing always looked more like the Nazis' 'blonde beast' than like Ms. Rand herself:

Ye are Gods
"The only hero she had known was a Viking whose story she had read as a child;. . . .a Viking who laughed at kings, who laughed at priests, who looked at heaven only when he bent for a drink over a mountain brook and there, over-shadowing the sky, he saw his own picture; a Viking who lived but for the joy and the wonder and the glory of the god that was himself." (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 40).

At times Kira seems like a high-functioning autistic: "'I never notice what I eat,' said Kira." (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 27). (Though Kira is a fictional character, Ms. Rand admitted she was a stand-in for herself.) She had a difficult upbringing, it would seem, forever meeting with perplexed stares when she shared her inmost, anti-social, feelings with those around her. Much as one might wish to sympathize with a misunderstood child, sometimes it is hard not to re-enact society's puzzled looks. She, however, was sure these eccentricities were proof of her superiority, and proclaimed an ethic of pure selfishness. To her way of thinking, the superior folk thought only of themselves anyway:

For Ourselves
"'Don't you know that we live only for ourselves, the best of us do, those who are worthy of it?'" (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 80).

In spite of all the difficulties with her own unattractive and unchristian views, Ms. Rand was a survivor of Communism whose warning voice of caution should not be stifled.

The cardinal sin in Ayn Rand's 'Objectivist' ethics is self-sacrifice. Thus it is with some puzzlement that readers of her fiction notice that her characters not infrequently give up their own happiness for another, and even risk their lives for the sake of another. It's not apparent why perfectly selfish people would pretend to have eaten so as to give up their inadequate Bolshevik bread ration to another:

"When Leo sat down at the table, Kira's smile was a little forced.

"'You see, there's no dinner tonight,' she explained softly. 'That is, no real dinner.' Just this bread. The co-operative ran out of millet before my turn came. But I got the bread. That's your portion. . .

"'Where's your portion?'

"'I've. . .eaten it already, before you came.'"
(Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' pp. 158-159).

When she makes any effort to reconcile this contradiction between her explicit ideals and her characters' exemplary behavior, Ms. Rand explains that her characters are motivated by love, and they have not been coerced into acting this way. No kidding: nothing but love led Jesus to Calvary, and it is widely understood that those who are acting under duress are not moral actors at all. No religion recommends that unwilling people should be coerced into laying down their lives as a ransom for many, unless it be the old Aztec religion. Yet Jesus' death on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for humanity sends her into screaming fits.

What is Wrong with Communism
What is to be Done?
Who Created God?
Love Thy Neighbor
Get Out of My Lifeboat
On Strike
Know Thine Enemy

Vladimir Serov, Lenin with the Petitioners

Opiate of the Intellectuals

The concept that religion was the opium of the masses goes back to Karl Marx. They used to say that Communism was the opiate of the intellectuals. Certainly it appealed to this group far more than it ever appealed to any actual workers. V. I. Lenin and his colleagues knew this perfectly well:

  • "The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. In the very same way, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of Social-Democracy arose altogether independently of the spontaneous growth of the working-class movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia."
  • (V. I. Lenin, What is to be Done?, II
    The Spontaneity of the Masses and the
    Consciousness of the Social-Democrats)

It is something of a sham to suggest that the Communist party ever represented the workers, when even they realized they did not. It would be more accurate to say that, in their secular messianic ideology, the working class played the role originated by the Messiah. The triumph of the proletariat over their 'class enemies' was to bring in paradise, the end of history. That didn't happen, though. The Communists' contempt for the 'proletariat' whose interests they supposedly upheld is striking. V. I. Lenin quotes Karl Kautsky with approval:

"'Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia: it was in the minds of individual members of this stratum that modern socialism originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class struggle where conditions allow that to be done. Thus, socialist consciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without and not something that arose within it spontaneously.'"
(V. I. Lenin, What is to be Done? II. The Spontaneity of the Masses and the Consciousness of the Social-Democrats, B. Bowing to Spontaneity.).

Everyone wants to feel needed, under-employed intellectuals no less than anyone else. Marxism-Leninism employed an arcane vocabulary, taken partly from Hegel's idealistic dialectic (though Marxism was thoroughly materialistic), and also from text-book nineteenth century British economics. Ideologies which employ arcane terminology take on a life of their own, because vanity is stoked when the learner is clever enough to master a complicated vocabulary. The same caution applies to medieval scholasticism; people who have taken the trouble to learn the vocabulary are invested in it. In general it is a good idea to rephrase everything into simple words and common language; if what you want to say cannot be said except in the arcane vocabulary of the initiates, then the Wizard of Oz is standing outside your door.

The love affair between the literati and the Bolsheviks remained ardent even in the wake of events, like the liquidation of the kulaks, which might have been expected to cool it. Still, everyone likes to feel needed:

"'You produce the goods that we need,' said Stalin. 'Even more than machines, tanks, aeroplanes, we need human souls.' . . .The writers, Stalin declared, were 'engineers of human souls,' a striking phrase of boldness and crudity. . ." (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, p. 96).

The literati did not always shine in their new role as the conscience of the nation, the new prophets and priesthood for an atheist nation. For their part, the Bolsheviks went to great lengths to keep their important friends happy. When flattery and special treatment wasn't enough, as in the case of writer Maxim Gorky, they went to the length of printing phony newspapers so he would not realize the extent of Stalin's purges: "The NKVD actually printed false issues of Pravda especially for Gorky, to conceal the persecution of his friend, Kamenev." (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, p. 186). Still they cannot all have been kept in the dark. It takes a strong stomach to defend Communism as it turned out to be, not as it was projected in fantasy, yet many of these people were up for it.

The Bolshevik state served the interests of the workers no better than anyone else's, excepting only the nomenklatura, the well-connected party bureaucrats:

"'The Soviet regime, having been established in our name, has become completely alien to us. It promised to bring the workers socialism but has brought them empty factories and destitution.'" (striking workers at the Sormovo factory, quoted p. 625, Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy').

I wonder how long it would take, if Sam Harris ever succeeded in bringing about his own October Revolution, before people noticed the atheist "moral experts" now running the show are doing just a little bit better than everyone else? Everyone understands that the 'dhimmis,' the Jews and Christians living under Muslim protection, are oppressed by their protectors. Though their lives are spared, they are not eligible to serve in government, and many careers are closed to them. In a similar vein, the Soviet constitution theoretically protected religious liberty, and yet the Communist Party held the leading role in the state. Only atheists could join the Party, and without a party card, many career and job opportunities were closed. Career opportunities for militant atheist intellectuals abounded.

Karl Marx V. I. Lenin
Bhagat Singh Mao Zedong
Pol Pot Enver Hoxha
The Derg Che Guevara
No True Atheist Why?
Tu Quoque Prince of Tyre
Atheist Armies Jim Jones
The French Revolution

Ivan Vladimirov, Confiscation of Church Property

Documents put out by socialist congresses, like the Communist Manifesto, usually include a list of demands expressing the every-day aspirations of Lenin's "trade union consciousness," like the forty hour work week. Leaving out those demands, which were customarily found in party programs of the day, at least those for political parties who hoped to win working class votes, might have led to the embarrassment of a 'Workers' Congresses' attended solely by under-employed intellectuals. Some people today argue against legal protections like the forty hour week on the grounds they are mentioned in the Communist Manifesto, though of course this is not where these ideas originated. Is governmental concern for workers' rights unbiblical?:

Rich and Poor
Health and Wealth Root Cause
I Will not Hear The Other Side
Government Theft Politics
Will a Man Rob God?

In the mid-nineteenth century there were unsolved dilemmas which have since been whittled down to size, if not corrected altogether. When capitalism came in, it brought with it the business cycle. Capitalist economies, though they grow over time, do not grow in a straight line, like so, a.):

Straight Line

People are expecting that, though. People always expect that present trends will continue, though it is almost a given that they will not. They expect that, if the price of gold has gone up, then it will continue to go up; thus, at the very top of the market, gold seems like a stellar investment to them. Perhaps this expectation is hard-wired into our brains. What you see over time as you chart the economy's progress does not look like a straight line, but more like this, b.):

Sine Wave

Because people expect a.) rather than b.), or random noise, every chance upturn or downturn in business conditions is amplified into a boom or a crash. It is always surprising to watch people sell their stocks at the depths of a down-turn, but that is what the rubric 'present trends will continue' leads to. Every move is an over-reaction.

Every seven years or so there is a recession. The ups and downs of the business cycle cause painful disruption to people's lives; the ups are not so bad, but the downs are a killer: lay-offs, unemployment, business failures. No one has ever figured out how to smooth out the business cycle entirely, but John Maynard Keynes happened upon the felicitous idea that the government should set up a counter-cycle: when the private economy is in free-fall, that is the best time for the government to start work on needed highway construction and similar projects. If the government can set up a counter-cycle, a wheel within a wheel, that counter-current will tamp down the extremes of the private business cycle. Of course Keynes did not mean for the government to run a permanent deficit as now, rather the government was to run a surplus in good times, to dry up the 'irrational exuberance' bubbling up, but operate at a deficit during recession. Moreover unemployment insurance and similar programs were established to provide a safety net, not only so that lay-offs did not mean hunger and hardship, but also to prevent consumer demand from collapsing. The resultant tinkering works, not perfectly, but well enough, so that there are no unresolved problems left over from the classical age of Communist agitation. At this point this ideology is a non-functional solution to a non-existent problem.

How Did it Work Out?

It worked out so poorly that modern-day atheists use the failure of their atheist forbears to prove that God does not exist:

  • "To make my point, I would show pictures of the famine to the students, pictures of emaciated Ethiopian women with famished children on their breasts, desperate for nourishment that would never come, both mother and children eventually destroyed by the ravages of hunger. Before the semester was over, I think my students got the point."
  • (Bart Ehrman, 'God's Problem,' p. 11)

Get it? This is "God's Problem," not the atheists' problem, though atheist mismanagement caused it to happen. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if the atheists can make life miserable enough, then they can convince others ("my students") that God does not exist! What happened in Ethiopia was not a natural disaster, only what happens, as a rule, when Marxism-Leninism comes to the country-side. Farmers, you see, do not like to amalgamate their lands into large state farms: "'. . .it is well known that there are rich peasants in the villages, who are hostile to Leninism.'" (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 194). Stalin solved that problem once and for all in Russia by 'liquidating' the kulaks, the family farmers, though he was only following Lenin's prescription: "Ruthless war on the kulaks! Death to all of them." (V. I. Lenin, quoted p. 618, Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy'). Lenin inaugurated, and Stalin continued, this great leap forward which snuffed out millions of human lives. Some they machine-gunned, some they starved, and some they moved about from place to place until they were dead:

  • "The Northern Dvina, the Ob, and the Yenisei know when they began to haul prisoners in barges — during the liquidation of the 'kulaks.' These rivers flowed straight north, and their barges were potbellied and capacious — and it was the only way they could cope with the task of carting all this gray mass from living Russia to the dead North. People were thrown into the trough-like holds and lay there in piles or crawled around like crabs in a basket. And high up on the deck, as though atop a cliff, stood guards. Sometimes they transported this mass out in the open without any cover, and sometimes they covered it with a big tarpaulin — in order not to look at it, or to guard it better, but certainly not to keep off the rain. The journey in such a barge was no longer prisoner transport, but simply death on the installment plan. Anyway, they gave them hardly anything to eat. Then they tossed them out in the tundra — and there they didn't give them anything at all to eat. They just left them there to die, alone with nature."
  • (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 578)

Ivan Vladimirov, Escaped Kulak

The war in the country-side over the collectivization of agriculture was not so much a war between different classes of peasants, as represented in Marxist-Leninist lore, but a war between the machine-gun toting Commissars and the pitchfork-wielding peasants:

"V. G. Korolenko, in his Letters to Lunacharsky. . .explains to us Russia's total, epidemic descent into famine and destitution. It was the result of productivity having been reduced to zero (the working hands were all carrying guns) and the result, also, of the peasants' utter lack of trust and hope that even the smallest part of the harvest might be left to them." (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 343).

Marxism did not work in the Ethiopian countryside any better than it worked in Russia. It is less than obvious how the spectacular but predictable failure of an atheist economic system can prove that God does not exist, but connoisseurs of atheist logic have seen stranger cases. To watch the same process unfolding in real time, see the Marxist Robert Mugabe ravaging Zimbabwe. Little children are starving there, too, and why? Because God is cruel? Or because atheists are not to be trusted with managing the farm economy? What kind of arrogance can keep doing this, over and over and over again, and never learn, never say 'we're sorry,' never confess, 'we killed all these people, not God'?

William Jennings Bryan Home

Love Thy Neighbor

V. I. Lenin did not inculcate nor live by the principle that we are to love our neighbor. He deliberately turned away from those influences, such as music, which he feared might soften his character: "Lenin had no place for sentiment in his life. 'I can't listen to music too often,' he once admitted after a performance of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata. 'It make me want to say kind, stupid things, and pat the heads of people. But now you have to beat them on the head, beat them without mercy.'' (V. I. Lenin, quoted p. 390, Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy.')

Communism is all about 'class warfare,' 'the dictatorship of the proletariat,' and similar martial clashes and combats. The killing started because justice was subordinated to the class struggle: "'A tribunal is an organ of the class struggle of the workers directed against their enemies. . .No matter what the individual qualities [of the defendant], only one method of evaluating him is to be applied: evaluation from the point of view of class expediency.'" (quote from Comrade Krylenko, p. 308, The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn). Like Adolf Hitler, who envisioned the world of man and nature as locked in a cosmic and endless struggle, where only the strong could survive at the expense of the weak, this is a harsh, 'evolutionary' philosophy which sees struggle as fundamental to life. It does however depart from the bellicose evolutionary paradigm in the 'happy ending' of the withering away of the state (which never actually happened).

That we are to love our neighbor is neither common sense nor the universal consent of mankind. It is a dictate of revealed religion:

"You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:18).
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48).

Not everybody wants to follow Jesus on this point, but following would have stopped this runaway freight train, the 'revolution,' in its tracks, before it killed so very many innocent people. Why is God to blame for all these deaths, when He explained how they were to be avoided?

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So What

Atheists may wonder: so what if Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a monster? What is that to us? Even if every atheist on earth were a horrible person, that would not prove that God exists nor disprove His non-existence.

This is certainly true, though it is self-defeating to hear that rejoinder from one of the New Atheists. They are ever writing books where the existence of Peter the Hermit, or some other murderer who says he is a Christian, is advanced to prove God's non-existence. To their way of thinking, one bad apple is enough to disprove the whole thing, all the way down from the top. This of course is not valid reasoning either.

There are more than a few atheist bad apples; there is a crowd of these atheist mass murderers, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Enver Hoxha, etc., etc. It is not just by accident that these people happen to be atheists, and also happen to be criminals. The one stands to the other in the relation of cause to effect. The people they eliminated stood in the way of the atheist utopia. All this killing did not repel the young Christopher Hitchens away from Trotsky's perennial revolution, nor dissuade Madalyn Murray O'Hair from making a serious effort to defect at the Soviet embassy in Paris, foiled only when they would not have her. When apologists for the big league atheist killers profess to be scandalized by atrocities committed by nominal Christians, they fail to convince:

Ivan Vladimirov, Russian Clergy at Forced Labor

Nor is there any reason to think this is over. The atheist Communists committed the crimes they did because they had no better understanding of ethics than utilitarianism: the end justifies the means. For instance, the Red Terror was justified, because it forestalled counter-revolution; the math works out. Lenin wrote sarcastically to Gorky, who protested the growing number of arrests: "A calamity indeed! What injustice. a few days, or even weeks, in jail for intellectuals in order to prevent the massacre of tens of thousands of workers and peasants!" (Orlando Figes, 'A People's Tragedy, p. 649). Of course, once the writers lost their rights, they never got them back. The Bolsheviks were not beasts, they had some understanding that murder and robbery were not noble, nor ideal, behavior patterns, but they looked to the future. It was the drawn of a new era:

  • "She looked at the pitiless face before her; she saw two dark triangles in the sunken cheeks; the muscles of his face were taut. He was saying: 'When one can stand any suffering, one can also see others suffer. This is martial law. Our time is dawn. There is a new sun rising, such as the world has never seen before. We are in the path of its first rays. Every pain, every cry of ours will be carried by these rays, as on a gigantic radius, down the centuries; every little figure will grow into an enormous shadow that will wipe out decades of future sorrow for every minute of ours.'"
  • (Ayn Rand, 'We the Living,' p. 178.)

He Humbled Himself

 He humbled Himself

The moral philosophy known as 'utilitarianism' sets up a market in trades just such as this. The future happiness of mankind,—so bright and shining, you can almost see it, if it weren't unapproachable light-years away—can be placed in trade against the real and present misery you are causing to people, by robbing them of their goods and even their lives. Enron never set up such a dangerous trading floor; every crime can be rationalized under this system of ethics. Do you think they've given up on it, even yet? They have by no means admitted defeat, they are straining and clamoring for a rematch; atheist Sam Harris has just written a book, 'The Moral Landscape,' reviving the very set of ideas that set Lenin in motion. He was not born a monster; he did however believe that the end justifies the means, and the rest followed. Next time will undoubtedly be different, the "moral experts" will guide us unerringly to utopia, even though there is no difference.

It is better, and more humble, to realize that none of us stands in the place of God, none can foresee the future, and we would do better to look to our own case rather than to remold humanity into a better configuration.

Josef Stalin

The next in sequence is Josef Stalin, who began as a favorite of V. I. Lenin's, who later seems to have felt some qualms. Stalin had been a bank robber and all-around revolutionary thug in the early days; he ended as an all-powerful ruler whom no one dared question, with his finger on the nuclear button. There was a natural progression from Lenin's violence against the enemies of the revolution to Stalin's violence. The policy of 'liquidating the kulaks' was already in place when Lenin died in 1924, and it was already a fact, not a dream, that the Soviet Union was a one-party state where dissent was not tolerated:

"In his essay 'How to Organize the Competition' (January 7 and 10, 1918), V. I. Lenin proclaimed the common, united purpose of 'purging the Russian land of all kinds of harmful insects.'. . .True, the forms of insect-purging which Lenin conceived of in this essay were most varied: in some places they would be placed under arrest, in other places set to cleaning latrines; in some, 'after having served their time in punishment cells, they would be handed yellow tickets'; in others, parasites would be shot; elsewhere you could take your pick of imprisonment 'or punishment at forced labor of the hardest kind.'" (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 27).

However, it was to get worse. . .

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