It is written in the closing paragraph of Achtung-Panzer! that Heinz Guderian once wrote:
Actions speak louder than words.
Religious opposition to Socialism is an unfortunate condition of Western Civilization, the animosity buttressed by mischaracterized accusations turned into misguided actions by both the clergy and the Socialists themselves. It is a topic addressed by Oswald Spengler in Prussianism and Socialism, a problem encountered by Vladimir Lenin and Chairman Mao within the contexts of “Social Imperialism,” and part of a similar issue which the Soviet Union, PRC and Eastern Bloc countries all had to deal with between the 1980s and 1990s. What must be stressed until it becomes clear is that all Socialisms, including the Marxist variants, are not against any religion. This is not to be confused for the justifiable opposition against acts of terrorism motivated by religious extremism, which is an entirely different matter altogether.
If all Socialisms are not against any particular religion, why have certain Socialist regimes persecuted members of a religious faith who cannot be mistaken for extremists or terrorists? Why is “Scientific Atheism” considered as official government policies for some countries like the Soviet Union or the PRC? Why did the clergy and religion in the Catholic Church for instance denounce Socialism as far back as the late 19th century? Why did Pope Leo XIII promulgate the papal encyclical, Rerum Novarum, advocating for an economic order opposed to both Socialism (His Holiness specifically understood it as “Marxism,” as if all Socialisms originate from Karl Marx, not Prussia) and Liberal Capitalism? Is there any connection between Prussia adopting Lutheranism during the Protestant Reformation and Prussia being the primordial point of origin for all Socialisms? Are all Socialisms irreconcilable with any religion?
These questions have not been properly addressed by anyone in the historical record. Many of the actions which led to the persecution of the faithful appear as though they lack a contextual meaning. In essence, there is a disconnect between what is being said and what is being done. There is an overtly moralistic description of the persecution with little or no discussion whatsoever about why those persecutions are happening. The language itself appeals to more emotion than to logic, frustrating any hope of critical thinking. Neither the clergy and religious, nor the laity, nor the persecuted nor the Socialists themselves are going to provide a coherent answer. All of the above, however, will demonstrate through their words and actions a recurring problem within Western Civilization since the Enlightenment and the rise of Liberal Capitalism in particular.
Genuine religiosity in the Western world has been reduced to empty, meaningless “Cant,” the act of saying one thing while doing its complete opposite. It often arises within sanctimonious, moralistic speech whose rhetoric never matches with whatever is being committed. Gone are the eras when average people can be inspired by the stained-glass windows of a Gothic cathedral and be compelled by the clergy to live their everyday lives according to Church teaching. But this is not to suggest that there are no genuine believers of any faith in the West within the 21st century. There will always be those striving to uphold their faith, but the vast majority are doing so as a pastime, a form of escapism from the world. Those people are only practicing their faith insofar as it is “a part of their culture” or views the faith as part of their “identity” due to an existential search for a sense of belonging as part of a “community.”
Such behaviors do tend to manifest themselves among those involved with the Occult, Theosophy, Freemasonry, New Age movements, and so forth. They also occur in the realm of art, given the prevalence of consumerist pop culture and subcultures erasing the distinctions between high culture and low culture. These behaviors and tendencies are also part of an existential search by some to find an “identity” by belonging to any “community” of like-minded people. The pursuit of escapism by others can become so passionately intense that their actions resemble that of Greco-Romans upholding the Cult of Personality around the Caesar or even Gnosticism.
It is because of those considerations that Scientific Atheism becomes understandable among Marxist Socialist regimes. The origins of Scientific Atheism originated in the debates among the philosophical followers of Prussia’s Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel regarding the concepts of “being” and “existence” and how they relate to “reality” and “reason.” The general crux behind the debate is on whether the concept of “Dasein” (the same term which Martin Heidegger later adopted in Being and Time) comprehends the rationality of the material reality encompassing the Self and whether or not its comprehension requires the guidance of any religion. In essence, can anyone understand the world around them through religious belief alone? Is it possible for people to exist without any religion to comprehend who they are and why they exist to begin with?
Hegel insisted from a philosophical standpoint that Dasein is completely compatible with religious interpretations. To comprehend the world does require the type of value system and morality that only a religion can provide because not everyone shares the same set of ethics. Even if the most amoral and unscrupulous people have some form of ethics hardwired into their psychology, it is religion that grants them a moral compass. This interpretation of Dasein was not shared by one of Hegel’s followers, Ludwig Feuerbach, who advocated for an irreligious interpretation of Dasein in order to gain an understanding of material reality. Karl Marx, who was also another Hegelian, sided with Feuerbach and the Material Atheists in their debates with the Hegelians over Dasein. It was because of Marx’s alignment with Feuerbach that Marxist Socialists have alienated the clergy and their congregations, causing all Socialisms to be mischaracterized as “anti-religious.”
The Catholic Church’s centuries-long opposition to Socialism has been informed by two considerations that are both misguided insofar as they are deep-rooted antagonisms. First, the Church never looked highly of Prussia as the first European state to advocate Lutheranism as its official religion since the Protestant Reformation. Prussia and the Church were still suspicious of each other when those debates between the Material Atheists and Hegelians were occurring in the early 19th century. Sectarian divisions turned volatile after Vatican I’s “Papal Infallibility” and Prussia uniting half of the German-speaking world as “Germany” before finally exploding into the infamous “Kulturkampf” implemented by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the late 19th century. And second, as Socialism gained traction in Prussia, the broader German-speaking world and the rest of the Western world, the Catholic Church was informed on what Socialism is based on how Dasein was described by the Marxist Socialists. It was because of this that serious studies into an alternative economic order besides Liberal Capitalism and Marxist Socialisms were pursued by the Church in the 1880s, eventually culminating in Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. That papal encyclical has given rise to other ideologies like Corporatism (from Social Democracy to Italian Fascism) and Distributism (as Gilbert Keith Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc understood it).
The implications of the Catholic Church’s opposition to Socialism still linger to this day. It is outrageous for Socialists to never consider “religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience” as integral parts of Socialism, just as it is equally outrageous for Catholics to not consider the catholicity of the laity practicing at least some form of poverty, chastity and obedience within their own personal lives. A discernment of joining the priesthood or even religious life does not happen overnight; it is often premeditated as part of a Vocation, calling from God Himself.
A person does not become a Catholic by simply reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church; either somebody is Catholic in their words and actions or they are not Catholic at all. Catholic clergy and religious continue to lament Catholic youths abandoning the Catholic faith in droves. Meanwhile, there have been Catholic clergy living lavish lifestyles, can never seem to avoid allegations of sexual abuses going back decades, and are unable to maintain the Intents of Command and Obedience required to enforce Church teaching. The rise of these “nones,” these irreligious youths who want to believe in something greater but are never allowed to act on their faith, are definitive of the appearance of Cant within the Catholic Church.
Conversely, a person does not become a Socialist by simply reading the works of Marx and Engels or anybody associated with a non-Marxist Socialism; either somebody is Socialist in their words and actions or they are not Socialist at all. The problems of Revisionism and Dogmatism in the Eastern Bloc, Soviet Union and PRC and the eventual tolerance of market reforms by the survivors also accompanied the problem that Lenin saw among some Socialists in World War I: “Socialism in words, Imperialism in deeds.” The term “Social Imperialism” from Maoism best describes the appearance of Cant in the foreign policies of Soviet Union under Khrushchev and Brezhnev.
These behaviors which plagued the Church, the Soviets, Eastern Bloc countries and PRC are diametrically opposed to the Dasein of true Prussians. A true Prussian speaks carefully with the foreknowledge that their actions are going to become the rule of law for everybody to follow. Prussia did not adopt Lutheranism simply because they were ‘convinced’ by whatever was written on those Ninety-Five Theses by Martin Luther. What motivated the Prussians, including the House of Hohenzollern, to abandon the Catholic faith was the subversion of Catholic clergy in the Electoral College of the German Reich by the anonymous powers of Kapital vis-à-vis the Indulgences. Yes, the same subversive influences of Kapital that Alexander Hamilton warned about and expressed the need to defend the US Electoral College by combating Kapital in Federalist Paper No. 68. It is evident throughout the Federalist Paper that Hamilton clearly understood why Prussia left the Catholic faith for political and economic motives before there were any notions of religious belief. This is because the US Electoral College has its antecedents in the German Reich and Catholic Church.
It remains to be seen whether Catholics will figure how to reconcile with the non-Marxist Socialisms. The Marxist Socialisms are still mired in the implications of those 19th century debates between the Hegelians and the Materialist Atheists. A non-Marxist Socialism like Hamiltonian Federal Socialism has better chances of redeeming what it really means to be Socialistic.