Friday, April 15, 2011

Theocratic Secularism: Part 2: Soviet Communism

(Above: a depiction of the bloodthirsty Soviet premier
Joseph Stalin.) Soviet materialists viewed their premiers
much as pagan Greece viewed their "gods"--as larger
than life men to be worshiped.

by Steve C. Halbrook
(posts in this series: part 1part 2, part 3)

In addition to the theocratic secularism of the French Revolution, there is its philosophical heir, the Russian Revolution.  (Lenin, four months prior to leading the Russian Revolution in November 1917, approved of the Jacobin revolt.)[1]  The atheistic Russian Revolution took the French Revolution’s materialistic philosophy[2] to its logical conclusion and made its god, or basis for ultimate reality, matter.[3]   
A propaganda poster of Lenin which says,
"Lenin lived, Lenin is alive, Lenin will live."
As a Soviet premier, Lenin was for Russian
Marxists the alpha and omega. Like deified
Pharaohs, he was even mummified
after death.
This revolution repeated a pattern from the first atheist revolution.  Just as the French theocrats converted church buildings into “temples of reason,” Russia’s neo-atheist theocracy converted church buildings into “museums of atheism.”[4]  While the cathedral of Notre-Dame supplied the fodder for the greatest “Temple of Reason,” Leningrad’s Kazan cathedral supplied the fodder for the greatest “Museum of Atheism”— “Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism.”[5]

And, while the French theocrats worshipped “the goddess of reason,” the Russian theocrats worshipped the premier—Proletariat Incarnate, matter in its highest form.  After the death of Lenin, the first communist premier, it was said: “Lenin lives in the heart of every member of our Party.  Every member of our Party is a small part of Lenin.  Our whole communist family is a collective embodiment of Lenin.”[6]   

In the tradition of ancient Egyptians who mummified their deified Pharaohs, an “Immortalisation Commission” mummified Russia’s premier.[7]  Stalin repeatedly said at the funeral they would “honour” “thy [Lenin’s] commandment.”[8]  Stalin then took over and became Russia’s new god.  He was heralded as the “father of the people,”[9] of whom it was said, “Thou art the greatest leader.”[10] 

A poem of that time reflects Stalin’s reputed god-like omnipresence and omniscience:  “And so—everywhere.  In the workshops, in the mines/In the Red Army, the kindergarten/He is watching … You look at his portrait and it’s as if he knows/Your work—and weighs it/You’ve worked badly—his brows lower/But when you’ve worked well, he smiles in his moustache.”[11]

A Soviet propaganda poster which says,
"Study the Great Path of the Party of
Lenin and Stalin!" Depicted is a student
looking to his gods as he learns the ways
of Marxist materialism.
After Stalin’s death, his successor Nikita Khrushchev reminded the Twentieth Party Congress that they all had been taught to believe Stalin was “a superman possessing supernatural characteristics akin to those of a god.”[12]

The Russian revolutionaries had rejected the Kingdom of God for a kingdom of matter.  This kingdom of matter would be inaugurated by the proletariat, who, in the words of Lenin, were “to set up heaven on earth.”[13]  Under the pretext of irreligion the Russian theocrats could not conceal their religion.  Even the anti-Christian philosopher Bertrand Russell identified communism as developed in Russia as “a political religion analogous to Islam.”[14] 

By their own speech, the Russian theocrats betrayed their professed irreligion.  Lenin said, “Who plans whom, who directs and dominates whom, who assigns to other people their station in life, and who is to have his due allotted by others?  These become necessarily the central issues to be decided solely by the supreme power.”[15] 

Like Adam and Even, in rejecting God, Lenin inescapably exchanged the Supreme Power for another “supreme power,” man.  As Khrushchev would later affirm, “the people” are “the creator of history and … the creator of all material and spiritual good of humanity.”[16]  (Similarly, the Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung wrote, “Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people.”)[17]  

The Russian theocracy had thus rejected a biblical theocracy based on the “rule of God” for a material theocracy based on the “rule of the people,” more specifically, “the rule of the Proletariat.”  

Excerpt from the (Lord willing) upcoming book, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws: Biblical Theocracy, Justice, and Slavery versus Humanistic Theocracy, "Justice," and Slavery by Steve C. Halbrook.  Copyright © 2010 by Steve C. Halbrook.  Based on the master's thesis, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.

     [1] Francis Nigel Lee, Communist Eschatology: A Christian Philosophical Analysis of the Post-Capitalistic Views of Marx, Engels, and Lenin (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1974), 90. 
[Disclaimer: because of Lee’s theological similarities to kinism (although we don’t believe Lee’s views to be as drastic), we do not endorse Lee’s writings and lectures about race.] 
     Lenin writes in Can ‘Jacobinism’ Frighten the Working Class?:  “Proletarian historians see Jacobinism as one of the highest peaks in the emancipation struggle of an oppressed class.  The Jacobins gave France the best models of a democratic revolution and of resistance to a coalition of monarchs against a republic. … ‘Jacobinism’ in Europe or in the boundary line between Europe and Asia in the twentieth century would be the rule of the revolutionary class, of the proletariat, which, supported by the peasant-poor and taking advantage of the existing material basis for advancing socialism, could not only provide all the great, ineradicable, unforgettable things provided by the Jacobins in the eighteenth century, but brings about a lasting, world-wide victory for the working people” (Ibid., 90). 
     French Revolutionary philosophy influenced Marx and Engels, the chief philosophical influences of the Russian Revolution.  Engels writes of Rousseau, “already in Rousseau, therefore, we find not only a sequence of ideas which corresponds exactly with the sequence developed in Marx’s Capital, but we even find that the correspondence extends also to details, Rousseau using a whole series of the same dialectical developments as Marx used”  (Ibid., 87).  Engels mentions the “Great French Revolution” as being the first bourgeoisie uprising to “entirely cast off the religious cloak” (Ibid., 88).  
     Prince Lvov, head of two Russian provisional governments prior to the Revolution, wrote, “The spirit of the Russian people has shown itself, of its own accord, to be a universally democratic spirit.  It is a spirit that seeks not only to dissolve into universal democracy, but also to lead the way proudly down the path first marked out by the French revolution, toward Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.”  Cited in Stéphane Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 44.
     [2] On the common French Revolutionary/Marxist views on materialism, Singer writes: “The empirical epistemology of Locke and his followers was no more successful than the rationalism which it replaced.  Its major contribution to Western culture was to enhance the emergence of a secularism thoroughly embedded in materialism, a materialism which characterized the French Revolution and which ultimately produced Marxian communism and its philosophical satellites.”  C. Gregg Singer, From Rationalism to Irrationality: The Decline of the Western Mind from the Renaissance to the Present (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979), 408, 409.
     [3] Lenin, for instance, states “We may regard the material and cosmic world as the supreme being, as the cause of all causes, as the creator of heaven and earth.”  Cited in Lee, Communist Eschatology, 815.
     [4] Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007).  From caption on third page of photographs in middle of book (no page number given). 
     [5] Ibid., 48.  This shift from “temple” to “museum” is logical.  Marxism holds that matter is the ultimate reality. “Temple” sounds too spiritual and thereby not material enough, but “museum”—which connotes the display of raw material things—fits. 
     [6] Ibid., 54.
     [7] Ibid.
     [8] Ibid., 53.
     [9] Ibid., 73.
     [10] Ibid., 72.
     [11] Ibid., 74, 75.
     [12] U.S. News and World Report, June 15, 1956, p. 34.  Cited in James D. Bales, Communism: Its Faith and Fallacies: An Exposition and Criticism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962), 52.
     [13] Cited in Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 186.
     [14] Lester E. Denonn, ed., Bertrand Russell’s Dictionary of Mind, Matter, and Morals, 30.  Cited in Bales, Communism, 18.
     [15] Cited in Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, 116, 117.
     [16] Cited in Bales, Communism, 34.
     [17] Mao Tse-Tung, Five Articles by Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1968), 15.
Video of Stalin worship


Anonymous said...

Soviet Communism was institutionalized atheism. But institutionalized atheism isn't a "theocracy" because it doesn't recognize the sovereign authority of YHWH.
Call the godless Soviet government an "autocracy" or "autonomous" government. Reserve the words "theocracy" and "theonomic" for the political system that you are calling for.

Steve C. Halbrook said...

Agreed, it doesn't recognize the rule of the One True God--but in rejecting the One True God, it embraces a false god, and hence is theocratic in its own sense.