Tag Archives: Stalin

Religions and Societies

30 Apr

Part of the ongoing Culture Wars (and there is always an ongoing Culture War, unless a society is stagnant) is the battle between Intellectual Atheism and Christianity. Naturally both sides are playing the victim card for all they are worth, and just as naturally a lot of the arguments on both sides are so much eyewash.

I was raised as a Protestant Christian, though I have agnostic tendencies. I have never really considered Atheism; I see too much Art in the world to be convinced that there is no Artist. I cannot, therefore, be an impartial judge. But I can make some observations.

Societies founded upon Protestant Christianity are, at least to me, clearly preferable to any of the present alternatives. Catholicism has a historical tendency to produce cultures where the vast majority of people are peasants, and conditions are such that they will stay peasants. Buddhism sounds very nice in theory, but Buddhist societies are also full of peasants, and the peasants in Buddhist societies tend to be treated like farm animals. Islam, at least at the moment, is dominated by violent mobs. Hindus, for reasons that I can’t get my mind around, tolerate the Caste system (*spit*).

Protestants created the first western societies where the spread of literacy was a social priority. They formed the first anti-slavery movement that was not, at base, a slave’s revolt. Theirs are the first societies to even pay lip service to the rights of women and minorities. I don’t know why this should be so, but it is plainly in evidence.

By contrast, Atheists, in the wake of the 20th Century, have a great deal of explaining to do. The U.S.S.R. was an Atheistical society, and so was Mao’s China. Both slaughtered people with an enthusiasm that would have at least startled the most bloodthirsty Spanish Inquisitor. It seems to me that by asserting the nonexistence of Gods, Atheistical societies remove a major check on the rapaciousness of the State, which promptly acts with the kind of calm restraint associated with a column of army ants. Communist (and therefore Atheist) societies murdered between 85 million and 100 million people in the Twentieth Century, according to THE BLACK BOOK OF COMMUNISM (Harvard Press). That is at least an order of magnitude worse than anything any other Religion had managed.

There are plenty of swine who call themselves Christians, the Westboro Baptist Church being a prime example. And Christian societies have a great deal to be ashamed of. But Protestant Christianity is still head and shoulders (and a good deal of the abdomen) above anything else available. Maybe Atheism can produce a nation sized society that doesn’t end up using mass slaughter as a tool of Statecraft, but I want to see it before I believe in it. The 20th Century, with its litany of (Communist) Stalin, (Communist) Mao, and other little tin-pot Communists too numerous and depressing to mention, has worn out any benefit of the doubt to which Atheism might once have been entitled.

Reflection on the Anniversary of the Death of a Monster

21 Mar

Joseph Stalin died on March 5, 1953, making the world a measurably cleaner place by his passing. While he ruled the U.S.S.R. he killed, or had killed, something between 20 million and 60 million people, making him one of the top mass murderers in history. He not only killed more than the Spanish Inquisition and the infamous Witch Hunts combined, he killed an order of magnitude more. And yet when the horrors of the 20th Century are enumerated, if Stalin is mentioned at all he is named after his contemporary, a certain Austrian Corporal turned Dictator, who is generally agreed to have topped out at the low end of Stalin’s death toll.

The issue is that Stalin branded himself as a Communist. The Intellectual Class of the West started playing around with collectivism as early as the first few decades of the 19th century, and never really got over it no matter how many collectivist failures occurred. When Marxism came along they fell for it like a ton of bricks, and swallowed its pretensions of being scientific hook, line, sinker, and pole. When the Russian Revolution happened in the middle of World War I, the Intellectuals developed a taste for Radical Chic that has never really passed. They heaped scorn on those who viewed Bolshevism as a menace, organized Soviet Friendship groups, and generally carried on like bobbysoxers at a Frank Sinatra concert. The amount of drivel written about The New Dawn is embarrassing to contemplate, and what critical examination Intellectuals gave Stalin’s Soviet Union was simply drowned out in the political mash notes.

Like a great many (indeed, one is tempted to say most) other political/social groups, the Intellectuals imagine that the world would be a much better place if only they were running things. Consequently they are great fans of Urban Planning, Family Planning, and similar long-sighted buttinskiism. Since Marx’s brand of Communism, while making promises of a vague future in which The State will waste away, calls for a near infinity of State control in the near future, its appeal to the Intellectual Class is fairly obvious. Rather like the Divine Right of Kings was a wonderful justification for the privileges and prerogatives of the Aristocrats, Marxism is a wet dream of the Intellectual … if it works.

It doesn’t. In fact the history of long-range social planning is full of failures. Human society is too chaotic to permit effective planning beyond the very basics. Which hasn’t ever stopped various elite groups from trying, or from being outraged when any peasants had the gall to point out their failures. The better elitists have, at least, tried to own up to their failures. The vast majority have clung onto their power, their plans, and their justifications until forcibly pried off them, usually by a war or three.

The Western Intellectuals are no different. A few, like George Orwell or David Horowitz, have confronted the failures of Collectivism, Radical Chic thinking, and similar Sacred Cows. The rest have clung to their delusions as long as possible, and even when the lies and blather have been long exposed, they will return to The Dream if not brought up short. It is clearly known that Stalin was a monster, and Mao another, but the Western Intellectuals are still trying to find justification for falling for both, one suspects because they do not want to admit to themselves that they were used to run interference for mass murder. They still, unless vigorously challenged, skirt the issue of Alger Hiss’s Soviet records. When confronted with the undeniable records of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. they retreat into attacks on the likes of Franco and Pinochet, although neither man managed anything even close to the grand scale of mass death common to most Communist revolutions.

The Western Intellectuals are no worse than the self-selected elites that came before them; the Aristocracy of Europe, the Planters of the Old South, the High Churchmen of the Middle Ages. But they are no better either. Their constant attempts to shape society to their will are no better then the various programs of the Catholic Church, the Peculiar Institution of American Slave-owning, or any other attempt to constrain the Little People for ‘their own good’ and the aggrandizement of the few.

What progress civilization has made has mostly come about as little people discovered ways to gain control of their own lives. The positions of the Western Intellectuals are clearly that liberty is a fine thing … for them. Not so much for anyone whose goals and tastes they disagree with. Their Plans and Crusades should be, at all times, viewed with profound suspicion.