Deputy Editor, Lee Jenkins, argues in this Backbencher Op-Ed piece that far from being in opposition to each other, Christianity and Communism are merely two side of the same collectivist-cult coin
Blind Obedience To A Supreme Authority
In elevating the State to a status beyond normal levels of existence, communism and its adherents were simply building on a long established trait in the human psyche. Monotheastic faiths told their followers that the world and humanity were too complex to left in the hands of mere mortals; rather some higher entity can and must reign supreme, lest chaos and destruction be allowed to take hold.
However this rule could only come about through blind, unquestioned obedience. For only then would the Second Coming be initiated. Equally, communists are taught that the perfect society can only be instigated once the State has been allowed to work its magic, unrestrained and unhindered by the opinions and wishes of the ignorant and uninitiated masses.
And even when disaster and destruction result from the actions of the unchecked authority, both Christians and communists happily plough on. ‘He works in mysterious ways’ is an oft used platitude. This is the blank cheque written by the faithful as a substitute for the personal responsibly of rational thought. Because ‘He’ has perpetrated this flood or plague, there must be some good reason behind it, and the faithful must not presume to question the motives of His plan. The same blank cheque is written by apologists and disciples of communist states; we should not question why thousands are tortured, starved or worked to death, the very fact that the State has perpetrated these acts must by definition mean that there was some good and wholesome motivation behind it, and we should not presume to question the motives of the State’s plan.
Hatred Of The Rich
Both Christianity and communism drew on the spite and envy that are to be found in every society throughout history. In both cases, a group of comparative intellectual middle class agitators take pleasure in whipping up a storm of entitlement and and a desire for a share of somebody else’s property. The Roman Empire was the faceless target for early Christians, with ‘bankers’ or the ‘bourgeois’ acting as more modern examples. “The meek shall inherit the earth” simply became “you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
Wealth is equated with sin and evil, while poverty and lower standing are lionised as noble and honest. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven”. The humility and hard graft of the peasant and worker are juxtapositioned with the exaggerated excess of Roman governors or landed gentry. A good reason lay behind this; neither church nor communist leaders would have wanted their followers to expect material wealth, as both had an interest in keeping the poor poor and depended on the benevolence of the church or State. Hence the incessant message that to be poor was good, a message handed down from elites who lived in palaces. Again, faith serving as a substitute for thought.
Altruism And The Collective
You are your brothers keeper. Linked to the point above, communism was able to adopt a preexisting tribal attitude of the collective and the need for self sacrifice for the ‘greater good’. In both belief systems, the individual was of no importance, you exist only so far (and so long) as you serve the collective. The collective can and will govern your actions, your vocation, the size and make up of your circle of friends, your rights to reproduce, and will extract from your possession anything required to serve collective. And of course the collective can dispose you, quietly and painlessly, or loudly and agonizingly, when you cease to be useful or you become a threat. Because behind all both belief systems lay the threat of coercion, whether legal through excommunication or exile, or savage torture like the Inquisition or the NKVD. All of course, for the greater good.
Both dogmas preached that the world was inherently wicked, dangerous, greedy and sinful, and that only the high priests of Christianity and communism could shelter us poor wretches from its cruel omnipotence. Both the church and the Party convinced their followers that they are the sole source of goodness and virtue, and that as they are elevated above normal morality, they alone can administer the sacrifices and redistribution on behalf of the collective. Lucky us.
Swap god for state, swap church for party, swap scripture for ideology, swap congregation for proletariat, and swap heaven for utopia, and you’ll see communism was an evolution of existing collectivist faith, not a revolution against it.